Sep 032020
 


Jackson Pollock Shooting Star 1947

 

Supercomputer Analysis Provides New COVID19 Theory (M.)
Trump Leads Biden At The Bookies (ZH)
The Stock Market Thinks Joe Biden Is Going To Beat Donald Trump (CNN)
Hidden Trump Voters Could Have Big November Impact (Hill)
Trump Orders Feds To Begin Process Of Defunding “Lawless” Cities (ZH)
Gov. Cuomo: Trump ‘Better Have An Army’ If He Comes To NYC (NYP)
China To Overtake US As World’s Top Economy In 2032 – State Think Tank (SCMP)
Xi Jinping Is Hoping To Let 1,000 IPOs Bloom In Hong Kong & Shanghai (Whalen)
Lin Wood, Attorney For Kyle Rittenhouse, Locked Out Of Twitter Account (Fox)
Steve Bannon Needs A Defense Not A Conspiracy Theory (Turley)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheap antigen tests

 

 

Bill Barr Mail-in Voting

 

 

A bradykinin storm. And Vitamin D as a potentially useful drug. Better get some now, before it’s too popular.

Supercomputer Analysis Provides New COVID19 Theory (M.)

Earlier this summer, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee set about crunching data on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples in an effort to better understand Covid-19. Summit is the second-fastest computer in the world, but the process — which involved analyzing 2.5 billion genetic combinations — still took more than a week. When Summit was done, researchers analyzed the results. It was, in the words of Dr. Daniel Jacobson, lead researcher and chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge, a “eureka moment.” The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of Covid-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms.

It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July. According to the team’s findings, a Covid-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms. But once Covid-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting. According to Jacobson’s group, the data Summit analyzed shows that Covid-19 isn’t content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors.

Instead, it actively hijacks the body’s own systems, tricking it into upregulating ACE2 receptors in places where they’re usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs. In this sense, Covid-19 is like a burglar who slips in your unlocked second-floor window and starts to ransack your house. Once inside, though, they don’t just take your stuff — they also throw open all your doors and windows so their accomplices can rush in and help pillage more efficiently. The renin–angiotensin system (RAS) controls many aspects of the circulatory system, including the body’s levels of a chemical called bradykinin, which normally helps to regulate blood pressure. According to the team’s analysis, when the virus tweaks the RAS, it causes the body’s mechanisms for regulating bradykinin to go haywire.

Bradykinin receptors are resensitized, and the body also stops effectively breaking down bradykinin. (ACE normally degrades bradykinin, but when the virus downregulates it, it can’t do this as effectively.) The end result, the researchers say, is to release a bradykinin storm — a massive, runaway buildup of bradykinin in the body. According to the bradykinin hypothesis, it’s this storm that is ultimately responsible for many of Covid-19’s deadly effects. Jacobson’s team says in their paper that “the pathology of Covid-19 is likely the result of Bradykinin Storms rather than cytokine storms,” which had been previously identified in Covid-19 patients, but that “the two may be intricately linked.” Other papers had previously identified bradykinin storms as a possible cause of Covid-19’s pathologies.

[..] Jacobson’s team also suggests vitamin D as a potentially useful Covid-19 drug. The vitamin is involved in the RAS system and could prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN. Again, this could stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming. The researchers note that vitamin D has already been shown to help those with Covid-19. The vitamin is readily available over the counter, and around 20% of the population is deficient.

Read more …

28% of black voters, vs 8% in 2016. That’s enormous.

Trump Leads Biden At The Bookies (ZH)

The trend we have been noting for the last week has accelerated overnight and ‘the streams have crossed’, with the average bookie now seeing it more likely that President Trump wins the 2020 election that Joe Biden. This huge swing comes as Summit News’ Paul Joseph Watson notes that the results of a new national poll reveal that a stunning 28 per cent of black Americans plan on voting for President Donald Trump. The Atlas Intel poll finds that Biden leads Trump nationally by just three points. But the real story lies in the percentage of Hispanic and black voters who told the pollsters that they will vote for Trump. According to the survey, 28 per cent of African-Americans say they plan to vote for Trump, a stunning figure. 29 per cent of black Americans also approve of the job Donald Trump is doing.


This compares to 2016 when Trump attracted 8 per cent of the black vote while Hillary Clinton captured 89 per cent. Joe Biden is down to 66 per cent of the black vote, according to the poll. Amongst Hispanics, Trump is up 13 points on the 2016 (41%), while Biden is down 10 per cent (56%). The reason behind the surge in black support for Trump could be the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be backfiring after 3 straight months of violent riots and unrest. As we highlighted earlier, a separate poll found that Trump’s support amongst African-Americans has doubled since 2016, although the results of the Atlas Intel poll blows even that figure out of the water. Activist Candace Owens, who has led the ‘Blexit’ campaign to convince black Americans to get off the Democratic reservation, appears to have achieved a stunning success.

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CNN went to a different casino.

The Stock Market Thinks Joe Biden Is Going To Beat Donald Trump (CNN)

The presidential election is only two months away and the stock market is soaring. In theory, that should bode well for President Trump since a bull market has historically benefited the incumbent. But Trump is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in many head-to-head national polls. Although the market’s sharp rebound since March could be viewed as a sign that investors expect the coronavirus-induced recession to be brief, you need to dig deeper and look at how the recovery is unfolding. It turns out a basket of stocks that could fare well in a Biden presidency have been outperforming the overall market — as well as a portfolio of stocks that might benefit from a second Trump term.


According to data from Strategas that was shared with CNN Business, a group of infrastructure, renewable energy, pro-globalization, health care and cannabis stocks are up more than 10% since early June. This so-called Biden or blue list includes companies like Granite Construction (GVA), Tesla (TSLA), First Solar (FSLR), chip giant Broadcom (AVGO) and the iShares MSCI Germany ETF (EWG), which owns several top German stocks. The bet is that these companies might thrive if Biden wins and pushes for the United States to rebuild highways and bridges, wean America off oil and restore fractured trade relations with China, Japan, Europe and other global economic leaders.

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There might be a few more this time around.

Hidden Trump Voters Could Have Big November Impact (Hill)

Trump supporters are far more likely to hide their preference in polls. This was the finding of recent research that investigated this increasingly prevalent assumption. If true in even small percentages, an imposing Trump surge could be hiding within the electorate. There is growing suspicion that Trump supporters are not divulging their preferences to pollsters. This would hardly be surprising considering the left’s current cancel culture climate. Five years of vituperation has increasingly turned violent. There are daily occurrences for those willing to objectively look at the riots occurring in big cities across America. Even high-profile people are not immune, as Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s narrow escape outside the White House following President Trump’s acceptance speech demonstrated.

It is logical that ordinary Americans could feel vulnerable. To test this theory, CloudResearch recently sampled American voters in search of what they term “shy voters.” Their results show that Trump supporters were “significantly more reluctant to share their opinions on phone surveys compared to Biden supporters.” Almost 12 percent of Republicans and nearly 11 percent of Independents, were also almost twice as likely to be reticent than Democrats (about 5 percent). These seemingly small percentages could have major November implications. For illustration of roughly how big, look at 2016 exit polling. In the last presidential election, 36 percent of voters were Democrats, while 33 percent were Republicans and 31 percent were Independents.

Applying CloudResearch’s “shy voter” percentages to each group yields 9 percent of the electorate as not giving their true candidate preferences. However, those roughly one in 11 reticent voters are not, as CloudResearch discovered, evenly distributed between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Instead, they run about 2-to-1 in Trump’s favor. On the net, they come out to around a 3 percent hidden “Trump bump.” Again, that may appear small, but not in what is an increasingly tight race. According to Real Clear Politics’s average of polling results, Biden’s national lead is now just 6 percent — down from 9 percent on July 1. Currently, Biden’s lead in the all-important top battleground states is far narrower — just about 3 percent, compared to just over 5 percent on Aug. 5.

While we do not know where these reticent supporters were being recorded (for example, listed as supporting a third-party candidate or as unsure of who they support), if they were listed as Biden supporters, their impact as hidden Trump supporters would be twice as large. This is because of the zero-sum nature of each vote going to Trump also would be deducted from Biden. So, the range of Trump’s benefit relative to Biden from hidden supporters could be anywhere from 3 percent to 5 percent. Either way, in a tight race such an impact would be huge. Remember that in 2016, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2 percent. However, Trump still won the electoral vote and the presidency. A hidden 3 percent of Trump supporters would erase Clinton’s 2016 margin and Biden’s current lead in Real Clear Politics’s battleground average. A hidden 5 percent of Trump supporters would push Real Clear Politics’s national average into a dead-heat.

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The reactions should be good.

Trump Orders Feds To Begin Process Of Defunding “Lawless” Cities (ZH)

The feud between Trump and liberal cities which encourage protests which seeking to defund the police escalated sharply on Wednesday, when the President ordered the federal government to begin the process of defunding New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington, cities where officials allowed “lawless” protests and cut police budgets amid rising violent crime. In a five-page memo sent to federal agencies on Wednesday whose subject is “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities” and signed by Trump, the president orders them to report to the White House Office of Management and Budget on any funding that could be redirected.

New York City, Portland, Seattle and even Washington, DC are among the initial targets of the measure. “My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump says in the memo, which mentions New York Mayor Bill de Blasio by name twice. To ensure the federal funding is not wasted or “spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”


In a tweet late on Wednesday, Trump followed up the memo by saying that his administration “will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today.”

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He tries to imitate Trump. Doesn’t work. He just ends up sounding crazy.

Gov. Cuomo: Trump ‘Better Have An Army’ If He Comes To NYC (NYP)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday all but threatened President Trump’s safety if he returns to New York City in a rant responding to an exclusive story by The Post that Trump is looking to pull federal funds from “lawless” cities including New York. Cuomo called an emergency press briefing within a half hour on Wednesday night to tear into Trump for the order, which cites New York’s rising murder rate and defunding of the NYPD. “He better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him,” the Democrat said, all but threatening the commander in chief. But Cuomo, who like Trump hails from Queens, wasn’t done. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City, people don’t want to have anything to do with him.” [..]

On substance, Cuomo said he doubted the legality of Trump’s five-page memo ordering a review of federal funds that can be redirected from New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington, DC. “It is more of the same from him. It’s political, it is gratuitous. And it’s illegal. But it is another attempt to kill New York City,” Cuomo said. “President Ford said drop dead. President Trump has been actively trying to kill New York City since he’s been elected,” he said. In highly personal and insulting language, Cuomo speculated that Trump wasn’t upset about New York’s soaring murder rate and shootings. “I think it’s because he is from New York City and New York City rejected him, always,” Cuomo said. “He was dismissed as a clown in New York City, those who know him best, like him least.”

[..] The governor also claimed Trump’s “negligence” is the reason New York state suffered the highest COVID-19 death toll. The governor’s critics blame his Health Department’s mandate that forbade nursing homes from turning away COVID-19-positive patients, potentially leading to at least 6,500 deaths. At the end of his call, Cuomo, apparently sensing how his remarks about Trump could be seen as threatening, attempted to walk them back. “My comment about the president and bodyguards in New York City, all I’m saying is that he is persona non grata in New York City. And I think he knows that. And he’ll never come back to New York, because New Yorkers will never forget how gratuitously mean he has been to New Yorkers and how many times he’s tried to kill the city that gave him his start and birthed him. That’s what I meant about the bodyguards.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump called on CNN to fire Cuomo’s younger brother Chris Cuomo over a leaked tape in which he says he was questioned about sexual misconduct. “Fredo must go!” Trump wrote, using an insulting reference from “The Godfather.”

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“..there are also views that China may never surpass the US to be No 1, due to the former’s ageing population..”

China To Overtake US As World’s Top Economy In 2032 – State Think Tank (SCMP)

China is expected to surpass the United States to become the world’s largest economy in a little more than a decade, despite escalating hostilities with Washington, a Beijing-based governmental think tank has forecast. The prediction, made by researchers at the Development Research Centre (DRC) of the State Council, the Chinese government’s cabinet, reflects mainstream assumptions in Beijing about the success of the Chinese government’s new development strategy of focusing more on its domestic market, given the intensifying economic, technological and geopolitical rivalry with the United States. The report also underlines a big assumption in China that the country’s economic rise is unstoppable.

Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed on Monday that China must “speed up” the new “dual circulation” strategy he introduced in May, given that the external environment has become volatile and hostile. According to the group of researchers led by Chen Changsheng, who oversees macroeconomic research at the government-run think tank, disputes between China and the US will intensify further in the next five years. “It can’t be ruled out that the US will use all possible methods to contain China’s development, including imposing financial sanctions on Chinese companies by misusing its ‘long arm’ jurisdiction [to impose US law outside America’s borders], seizing China’s holdings of US Treasury securities … coercing other countries to impose technology embargoes on China, as well as excluding China from the [US] dollar payment system,” according to the report.


However, even those factors cannot stop China’s economic rise, the report suggested. The country’s share of the global economy will rise to 18.1 per cent in 2025 from 16.2 per cent in 2019, while the US share will drop to 21.9 per cent from 24.1 per cent in the same period, the researchers predicted. Last month, Justin Lin Yifu, a professor at Peking University and the World Bank’s former chief economist, predicted that China would surpass the US as the world’s largest economy by 2030. However, there are also views that China may never surpass the US to be No 1, due to the former’s ageing population. Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argued that, from a demographic point of view, China would not be able to surpass the US in the foreseeable future.

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“..Chinese companies need access to the US markets because they cannot raise significant money on a Hong Kong exchange. Dollar stability is required for their system to work.”

Xi Jinping Is Hoping To Let 1,000 IPOs Bloom In Hong Kong & Shanghai (Whalen)

China under Xi Jinping is becoming the embodiment of George Orwell’s “1984” nightmare fueled by 21st century technological tools. Facial recognition, for example, enabled with a lot of stolen western technology, enables the Chinese state to track the movements of its citizens and include this public surveillance in its overall profile of each citizen. The level of control enjoyed by the CCP is illustrated by the harvesting of human organs from the living bodies of political prisoners. The role of finance in China’s development and the CCP’s adoption of new authoritarian controls is a vital piece of the puzzle. By driving China towards a cashless society, the CCP and state security services can use access to electronic cash and payments as a mechanism for reward or punishment.

When cash is eliminated, the state that controls the means of exchange – call it currency – controls all. As financial reform becomes the next leg of the CCP’s continuing drive to protect its political monopoly in China, the fight with Washington over allowing Chinese firms to list their shares in the US takes on significance. Many Chinese firms refused to follow US requirements regarding audit results, putting them in violation of exchange and SEC rules. But the threats by the US to shut out Chinese firms remain just threats in an election year. “Trump will get louder and louder on China before the election, but all of these things will take years to phase in after the election,” notes veteran China watcher Leland Miller founder of China Beige Book. “But many Chinese companies need access to the US markets because they cannot raise significant money on a Hong Kong exchange. Dollar stability is required for their system to work.”


While US actions to address are correct, attracting more volumes to Chinese exchanges serves the interests of the CCP. Even as the US restricts access to US exchanges, billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group is poised to simultaneously list in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Bloomberg News reports Ant is gunning for a valuation of $225 billion, making it the world’s fourth-largest financial company. If you appreciate that the benefits available to CCP members for self-enrichment have been greatly reduced in recent years compared with, say, the first decade of the 2000s, then you understand the problem. Xi Jinping needs to increase the cash flow to communist party cadres in order to maintain control in the 2020s. Reforming the financial system is the perfect canvas for eliminating enemies and generating cash — especially from the important offshore Chinese community.

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“I’m going to take Jack Dorsey’s ass down”

Lin Wood, Attorney For Kyle Rittenhouse, Locked Out Of Twitter Account (Fox)

The high-profile attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with fatally shooting two people in Kenosha, said he was locked out of his Twitter account Tuesday after posting about raising money for Rittenhouse’s legal defense. L. Lin Wood argued the action against his account is the latest example of Twitter censorship of conservative voices and he intends to file a lawsuit against the social media giant and its CEO Jack Dorsey. “I’m going to take Jack Dorsey’s ass down,” Wood told Fox News. “He has been abusing the First Amendment of this country for his own agenda.” Wood was blocked from tweeting for several hours on Tuesday for violating Twitter rules. Wood said he’s been careful to abide by Twitter’s terms of service. But he got a notice that his account was locked for “glorifying violence.”

“I knew they were going to censor me because I’m sending a message of hope,” Wood, who posts regularly to his nearly 138,000 followers, told Fox News. “I’m sending a message of truth. And I’m sending a message that Kyle Rittenhouse is innocent.” Hours after the account had been suspended, Twitter said it made a mistake in a statement to Fox News. “This account was incorrectly actioned,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “This has been reversed and the account has been reinstated.” [..] Wood also represents Nicholas Sandmann, Carter Page, St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Greene and Dr. Simone Gold. To the outside, Wood’s account looked like it was working normally, with no notifications or warnings on his tweets.

But a screengrab of Wood’s account shared with Fox News shows his account “has been locked for violating the Twitter rules.” Specifically, Wood was dinged for “violating our rules against glorifying violence.” “Everybody thinks I’m still on it unless they know I’ve been blocked,” Wood said. “That’s why we’re getting the word out they censored me for nine hours. I have no idea how to get back on. They didn’t give me any instructions.” On Monday, Wood revealed on Twitter that more than 11,000 donors have raised $605,550 for the legal defense of Rittenhouse, who claims the shootings in Kenosha were self-defense. A Twitter user asked if Wood would be selling or disclosing his donor list to other groups. Lin replied “No” and added “#fightback” in reference to the name of the legal fund foundation. That was his last tweet before getting locked out.

Wood said he’s been accumulating “a mountain of evidence” to support a lawsuit against Twitter for discriminating against users based on political speech. Wood previewed a lawsuit he intends to file on behalf Sandmann that could be a class action suit and pointed to Twitter’s actions against his account as the latest example of suppression of free speech. He’s been vocal on Twitter about his intentions to sue. Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School graduate, filed suit against mainstream media outlets for their coverage of his encounter with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial, which portrayed the teen as the aggressor. He already settled his multi-million dollar defamation lawsuits with CNN and the Washington Post and now Wood says the next frontier will be Twitter and other websites. “Nicholas Sandmann is going to take down the mainstream media. And then we’re going to take down social media,” Wood said. “Nicolas Sandmann is going to never be forgotten.”

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Sounds serious enough.

Steve Bannon Needs A Defense Not A Conspiracy Theory (Turley)

“This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall.” That was the only response noted from former White House strategist Steve Bannon after his indictment for fraud in New York last week. Facing up to 20 years in prison, it was perhaps the most ambitious political spin from a man whose creativity was matched only by his audacity. If Mr. Bannon is hoping to convert his signature deep-state conspiracy into a criminal defense, however, he will face perhaps his most formidable opponent yet: himself. In a recent book, “Deep State: Trump, the FBI and the Rule of Law” by James B. Stewart, Mr. Bannon is quoted as saying “deep state conspiracy theory is for nut cases” and that such claims are out of bounds since “America isn’t Turkey or Egypt.”

He is now suggesting the a similar conspiracy is afoot to derail his work to build the wall. However, Mr. Bannon needs an explanation, not a narrative, to address his alleged conduct in the indictment. The problem with the deep-state conspiracy as a defense is that it only works if prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are pursuing a simple and honest wall builder with bizarre or novel theories of criminality. In fact, the 24-page indictment is as simple as sin itself. It details knowingly false statements to donors coupled with the misuse of contributed funds for personal expenses of the four principle figures behind the “Build The Wall” campaign. Mr. Bannon never does anything small and, when he decided to delve into the funds of this charity, he did it with signature gusto.


The charity raised $25 million and Mr. Bannon is accused of taking $1 million of that money as personal compensation. His co-defendants Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea are accused of taking their own shares despite assurances to donors that all of the money would go to building the wall along the southern border.

Read more …

 

 

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Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

I must have said it 1000 times. No velocity, no inflation.

Lance Roberts Velocity and Inflation

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 102020
 


Berenice Abbott Vanderbilt Avenue from East 46th Street, NYC 1935

 

Biden Says His Economic Plan Would Create Five Million New US Jobs (R.)
Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump’s Tax Returns Are Still Under Audit (Axios)
California, Florida, Texas Report Highest Daily COVID19 Death Tolls (CBS)
Mississippi Hospitals Cannot Take Care of Mississippi Patients (MFP)
China Warns Of Unknown Pneumonia Deadlier Than COVID19 In Kazakhstan (SCMP)
IMF Urges ‘Equity-Like’ Government Support For Virus-Hit Firms (R.)
Lack Of COVID Insurance Threatens Hollywood Production (R.)
Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech (Turley)
Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Praises President Trump (NPR)
Bank Settlement Could Provide Roadmap To Punishing Epstein Collaborators (JTN)
House Approves Huge Military Budget, More War in Afghanistan (Greenwald)
US Judge Hearing Flynn Case Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Dismissal (R.)
New Steele Evidence Strengthens Durham Prosecution (Solomon)
Warning (Sven Henrich)

 

 

I’m going to have to come back on the Joe Biden economic plan. Steve Bannon calls Biden’s puppeteers very smart, but I’m not so sure. If all Biden can do is parrot Trump, why not vote for the original? Because the imitation comes with a bit of cancel culture seasoning? Buy America is Trump, has been for four years, Biden can’t steal it. Biden even takes a stab at China for good measure. Very original too. And as for the 5 million jobs Biden “promises”, Trump will simply say 20 million. I just don’t see it.

 

 

New world record, US falls just short of a record:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon today says that Biden’s Buy America proposal is “very smart” — “the campaign and White House have been caught flat-footed … Biden has very smart people around him, particularly on the economic side.”


Jeff Stein at WaPo: “Peter Navarro crafted a “Buy America” executive order more than 3 months ago but it has been held up over objections from Mnuchin/Kushner. Potentially huge implications for 2020″

Biden Says His Economic Plan Would Create Five Million New US Jobs (R.)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden promised on Thursday to spend $700 billion on American-made products and industrial research, which he said would give at least 5 million more people a paycheck during a job-killing pandemic. “I’ll be laser-focused on working families: the middle-class families I came from here in Scranton, not the wealthy investor class,” Biden said in a speech outlining the plan near his childhood hometown in northeastern Pennsylvania. “They don’t need me, but working families do.” The proposals come as Biden, leading President Donald Trump in national opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, tries to chip away at an incumbent seen by a larger share of voters as a better steward of the economy.

Biden is adding an even bigger price tag to the trillions in economic recovery policies he has promised as the U.S. economy reels from on-and-off coronavirus shutdowns. A record 32.9 million people collected unemployment checks in the third week of June, Labor Department data showed on Thursday. Republican Vice President Mike Pence also toured Pennsylvania on Thursday, telling a business roundtable in the Philadelphia suburb of Malvern that “even in the midst of outbreaks that we’re seeing in Sunbelt states, we are opening up America again.” The dueling visits underscored Pennsylvania’s status as a key election battleground. Trump carried the state in 2016 by a slim margin, the first Republican to do so since 1988, helping elevate him to the White House.

Biden’s announcement was the first prong of his broader economic plan titled “Build Back Better,” which includes proposals to build a clean-energy economy, support caregivers and advance racial equity. “Biden’s willful attack on our jobs, our families, and the American way of life will reverse all the gains we’ve made together and plunge us into economic catastrophe,” Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement. Both Biden and Pence were visiting areas that have grown less hospitable to their parties in the Trump era.

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Manhattan DA Cy Vance can get them, and then they can be leaked?! Note: Cy Vance is linked to the Epstein case.

Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump’s Tax Returns Are Still Under Audit (Axios)

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Thursday that President Trump’s taxes are still under audit, and that he will not release them until the audit is completed. Trump has claimed for years that his taxes are under “routine audit.” The president’s relentless fight to keep his financial records secret has brought him all the way to the Supreme Court. In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Manhattan prosecutor Cy Vance has the legal right to subpoena records from Trump’s financial institutions, while rejecting, at least for now, the House’s effort to subpoena similar records, Axios’ Sam Baker reports.

Key exchange: REPORTER: “The president, whatever the court says, can release his taxes whenever he likes. Why shouldn’t Americans believe at this point that the president isn’t trying to hide something?” MCENANY: “The media’s been asking this question for four years, and for four years, the president has said the same thing, his taxes are under audit, and when they’re no longer under audit, he will release them.”

McEnany disputed that Trump’s nominees ruled against him on Thursday, noting that the majority decision gave the president the right to challenge subpoenas “on any grounds permitted by state law.” “The justices did not rule against him, in fact it was a unanimous opinion saying that this needs to go back to the district court, and they even recognized that the president has an ample arsenal of arguments that he can make,” she said.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s two appointees to the Court, sided with liberal members on the 7-2 vote.

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Unstoppable.

California, Florida, Texas Report Highest Daily COVID19 Death Tolls (CBS)

The coronavirus crisis nationwide is not only deepening, it is growing more deadly. The country’s three biggest states — California, Florida and Texas — are reporting their largest single-day death tolls since the pandemic began. There are now 41 states that are reporting increases in average new cases compared to two weeks ago. In California, 149 deaths were reported on Wednesday, the highest single-day number since the pandemic began. “For those that just think, now people are getting it, no one’s dying, that is very misleading,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at his briefing Thursday. The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he believes the country’s hardest-hit states should consider pausing plans to reopen.


More than 3 million cases of coronavirus have been infected by the virus across the country, and nearly 133,000 people have died nationwide. In Florida, Walt Disney World reopened Thursday to guests who have season passes as the county where Disney is located has seen a 130% increase in coronavirus infections in the last 14 days. Disney is opening up the park to the general public on Saturday. Loyal annual pass holders got first dibs, but the magic won’t quite be the same. As visitors and employees enter, temperatures will be checked, and guests are required to wear masks and social distance. Dr. Terry Adirim, a physician and dean at Florida Atlantic University, was concerned to see the theme park reopen. “I think it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” Adirim told CBS News. “I don’t think it’s going to help us drive down our case rates. I think it’s going to do the opposite.”

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#MaskUpMississippi

Mississippi Hospitals Cannot Take Care of Mississippi Patients (MFP)

Mississippi hospitals are “stretched thin,” and Mississippians “will not be able to get the health care (they) need” as the novel coronavirus outbreak accelerates across the state, top health experts warned during a dire press conference this morning. Already, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of ICU beds for critical patients. “At the (University of Mississippi) Medical Center, we are full. Many days, we have more patients than we have rooms,” UMMC Vice Chancellor LouAnn Woodward said as she stood in front of a podium with a poster and the hashtag, “#MaskUpMississippi” covering the front of it.

The cast of health experts, which included physicians from across the state as well as representatives from the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Mississippi State Medical Association, warned that at the current rate of COVID-19’s spread, the state risks a New York City-level crisis. “Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients,” Dr. Dobbs told a room of reporters this morning. [..] “We are speaking for the health-care workforce of the state of Mississippi. We are begging, and we are asking for the people of Mississippi to get on board with us,” said Dr. Woodward, who noted that Mississippi “went from shelter-in-place to wide open, whether official or not official.”

[..] The virus’ spread had begun to slow in Mississippi during May, as Gov. Tate Reeves began to reopen some businesses. By the second half of June, as the governor began a broad reopening of state businesses, Mississippi averaged just 11 novel coronavirus deaths per day, down from an average of 15 per day in May. In July so far, the state has averaged 15 deaths per day. Deaths rose sharply in the past two days, though, with MSDH confirming a record 34 new deaths on Tuesday and another 30 on Wednesday. Cases have also risen at record rates, with health officials announcing 705 additional cases per day on average since July 1. In June, the state averaged about 390 cases per day.

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“Unknown Pneumonia”. A familiar term.

China Warns Of Unknown Pneumonia Deadlier Than COVID19 In Kazakhstan (SCMP)

The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan has warned of a deadly “unknown pneumonia” after the former Soviet republic reported a spike in pneumonia cases since June. “The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus,” the embassy said in a warning to Chinese citizens in the country. While the Chinese embassy described the illness as an “unknown pneumonia”, Kazakhstani officials and media have only said it is pneumonia. It was not clear why the Chinese embassy had described the illness as “unknown” or what information it had about the pneumonia.


The embassy’s website, citing local media reports, said the provinces of Atyrau and Aktobe and the city of Shymkent have reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Shymkent and the capital city of Atyrau are 1,500km (930 miles) apart, while the distance between the capital cities of Atyrau and Aktobe is 330km (205 miles). The Chinese embassy said that so far there have been nearly 500 pneumonia cases in the three places, with over 30 people in a critical condition. The country as a whole saw 1,772 pneumonia deaths in the first part of the year, 628 of which happened in June, including some Chinese nationals, the embassy continued.

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What, central banks can’t do enough?

IMF Urges ‘Equity-Like’ Government Support For Virus-Hit Firms (R.)

International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Gita Gopinath urged governments to shift to “equity-like” support from one focused on loans as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts prolonged damage on companies. Gopinath said the massive scale of the shock meant more firms will become insolvent as they suffer lower revenues for many months. Government support in the form of loans would saddle such companies with huge debt, which would serve like a tax that makes it difficult for them to emerge from the crisis, she said. “Because there’s a bigger insolvency issue here, government support would have to shift more towards being equity-like as opposed to debt-like. Otherwise, you would end up with a lot of firms that exit this crisis with a huge amount of debt over-hang,” she said.


“If the lending takes form more like equity … then that’s less onus on the firms. That will make it easier for firms to recover from the crisis,” Gopinath said in a webinar co-hosted by the IMF and the University of Tokyo on Friday. She did not elaborate on how such financing support would work. During its domestic banking crisis in the late 1990s, Japan injected capital into firms via schemes where state-affiliated bodies bought preferred shares issued by these firms. Gopinath said any recovery of the global economy will be “highly uneven and highly uncertain,” urging countries to continue deploying aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to support their economies.

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Re-runs far into the future.

Lack Of COVID Insurance Threatens Hollywood Production (R.)

Insurers have largely stopped covering independent film and television productions against the risk of COVID-19 illness, a shift that threatens the supply of new entertainment in 2021, Hollywood producers, insurers and industry experts said. Thousands of shoots around the world shut down abruptly in March as the novel coronavirus spread and governments imposed lockdowns. Now as filmmakers try to get back to work they are finding insurers have largely stopped providing the COVID-19 coverage they need to secure financing. Some insurers are even adding exclusions for COVID-19 or communicable diseases to existing policies when cast members get medical exams, insurance lawyer Kirk Pasich told Reuters.


Without coverage, many producers cannot get the completion bond, or guarantee, that banks require to lend to productions. Until crews can work safely again and insurance covers COVID-related costs, “there will be less content of the caliber that we’re used to,” independent film producer Robert Salerno told Reuters. Insurers, already reeling from other pandemic claims, say they cannot offer the coverage because it is unclear how the pandemic will play out.

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The list of 593 signatories to the letter Turley is talking about may well be the strongest condemnation of academia I’ve ever seen. You can flush them all down the loo. Useless to society. Useful only to their own careers.

Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech (Turley)

By any measure, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, who holds the Johnstone Family Chair of Psychology, is one of the most influential intellectual leaders in the world. He is also someone who believes in robust intellectual discourse and free thought and speech. That propensity for academic freedom has now made him a target of hundreds of academics and graduate students who are seeking his removal from the Linguistic Society of America. The letter is one of the most chilling examples of the new orthodoxy that has taken over our academic institutions. The signatories seek his removal for holding opposing views on issues like underlying causes of police shootings and other research. The cited grievances are at best nuanced and at worst nonsensical.

Yet, hundreds signed their names and academic affiliations to try to punish a professor for holding opposing views to their own. We have been discussing these cases across the country including a similar effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago. It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms — a campaign that will devour its own in the loss of academic freedoms and free speech. (I should note that I do not know Dr. Pinker and, to the best of my knowledge, I have never met him). The campaign against Pinker is based on a small number of tweets where he dares to challenge the views of his colleagues and others on issues related to police shootings. There was a time when it would have been viewed as a shameful betrayal of our profession to retaliate against a fellow academic in this way.

Now, hundreds (shown below) seek to have their names associated with an effort to punish a professor for his challenging a new orthodoxy in academia. As a blog focused on free speech and academic freedom issues, the merits of these disagreements is less important than the effort to silence or punish opposing views. However, the underlying postings (and Pinker’s apparent viewpoints) are relevant to understanding the growing intolerance for conflicting viewpoints. We will briefly discuss the six objections below. In so doing, I will have spent more written analysis addressing the attacks on Pinker than these academics and students spent in accusing him of the most vile predilections. My complaint is not that his views are beyond criticism. My objection is to the lack of substantial evidence or analysis, and, most importantly, the effort to remove him from a key academic group. Indeed, the letter states many of the signatories want him to be effectively barred from academic discourse.

Pinker has been vocal in his opposition to the level of police shootings in our society and has recognized their devastating impact on the African American community. He has however suggested that the level of police shootings may be the result of poor training and the excessive use of force generally by police in the United States. He is not alone in raising that issue. We have previously discussed how the United States has far greater use of lethal force that virtually any other nation. Pinker, and others, have not denied that racism plays a role or that we have systemic racist problems in society. Rather he has suggested that, if we want to reduce police shootings, we may want to consider whether they are being driven by a police culture and common training that tend to escalate the level of force used in these situations.

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What is this country coming to? All parrots all the time?

Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Praises President Trump (NPR)

Twitter users are calling for a boycott of Goya Foods, a brand most known for its Hispanic-staple food offerings, after the CEO of the company lavished praise on President Trump during a Thursday visit to the White House. Robert Unanue, chief executive of the family-owned operation since 2004, said that the country was “blessed” to have Trump at the helm, during remarks following a roundtable with Hispanic business and political leaders from across the country. “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Unanue said during the Rose Garden speech.

“We have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country — that we will continue to prosper and to grow.” Unanue also announced a plan, along with some partners, to donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and 1 million pounds of food to food banks. A statement issued late Thursday by Goya Foods did not address the negative reaction from some in the Hispanic community to Unanue’s White House appearance and praise of Trump. In the statement, Unanue reiterated his support for the president’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which Trump established by executive order at the White House roundtable.

“Our country faces a time of historic challenge but we will meet that challenge together and continue to work towards greatness, focus on a strong recovery, and hold onto the hope for a healthier future for all,” Unanue said in the statement. [..] Unanue, a third-generation Spanish American, enraged many with his remarks at the White House, including some high-profile Democrats, who also signaled that they would no longer support Goya’s products. [..] By Thursday evening, “Goya,” #BoycottGoya, and #Goyaway were trending topics on Twitter.

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We want names.

Bank Settlement Could Provide Roadmap To Punishing Epstein Collaborators (JTN)

If federal prosecutors are looking to punish more than the socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for the late Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged underage sex ring, New York regulators’ settlement this month with Epstein’s former bank may provide an intriguing roadmap. Buried in documents attached to Deutsche Bank’s $150 million penalty agreement with the New York State Department of Financial Services is a long list of suspect activities, including withdrawals of money by lawyers, payments to Russian models and other women, and financial transactions with people previously identified by federal authorities as co-conspirators in Epstein’s prior plea deal on charges of prostitution with a minor more than a decade ago. The story still being unraveled now by federal and state prosecutors is how Epstein managed to allegedly keep his sex empire going after becoming one of America’s most famous registered sex offenders.

Experts say the extensive documentation made public with the bank case, including a consent order, places a bullseye over transactions and players in Epstein’s orbit now facing new legal exposure. And it could augment a list of names contained in Epstein’s “black book” of contacts that investigators have possessed for years. “It seems as if anyone connected to Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking and abuse activity should be extremely concerned by the New York State Department of Financial Services investigation that was announced on Monday,” said J. Robert Flores, a former federal prosecutor and assistant district attorney in Manhattan who specialized in sex crimes and reviewed the settlement documents at the request of Just the News.

[..] When Epstein opened up his Deutsche Bank accounts in 2013, he was a Tier 3 registered sex offender. That alone should have served as the most important red flag to any bank official. In law enforcement and judicial circles, Tier 3 registered sex offenders translate into serial offenders, who usually repeat their crimes. “Immediately following Epstein’s arrest we contacted law enforcement and offered our full assistance with their investigation,” Deutsche Bank explained in a statement. But that was only after Deutsche Bank terminated its relationship with Epstein a few months earlier.

[..] In a statement released on Tuesday, Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, said Epstein’s accounts paid out “millions of dollars of suspicious transactions” that Deutsche Bank “inexcusably failed to detect or prevent.” The investigation findings included: • payments to individuals publicly alleged to have been Epstein’s co-conspirators connected to his 2007 non-prosecution agreement; • settlement payments to law firms totaling over $7 million, as well as dozens of payments to law firms totaling over $6 million for what appear to have been the legal expenses of Epstein and his co-conspirators; • payments to Russian models, payments for women’s school tuition, hotel and rent expenses, and payments directly to numerous women with Eastern European surnames; • periodic suspicious cash withdrawals by one of his agents, totaling more than $800,000 over approximately four years; • “The Butterfly Trust” account that paid the co-conspirators and other parties; • a Gratitude America account.

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House Democrats side WITH Liz Cheney and AGAINST their own Tulsi Gabbard. Okay! But why would anyone vote anymore?

House Approves Huge Military Budget, More War in Afghanistan (Greenwald)

While the country is subsumed by both public health and an unemployment crisis, and is separately focused on a sustained protest movement against police abuses, a massive $740.5 billion military spending package was approved last week by the Democratic-controlled House Armed Services Committee. The GOP-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee will almost certainly send the package with little to no changes to the White House for signing. As we reported last week, pro-war and militaristic Democrats on the Committee joined with GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney and the pro-war faction she leads to form majorities which approved one hawkish amendment after the next.

Among those amendments was one co-sponsored by Cheney with Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado that impeded attempts by the Trump administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and another amendment led by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Cheney which blocked the White House’s plan to remove 10,000 troop stationed in Germany. While those two amendments were designed to block the Trump administration’s efforts to bring troops home, this same bipartisan pro-war faction defeated two other amendments that would have imposed limits on the Trump administration’s aggression and militarism: one sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to require the Trump administration to provide a national security rationale before withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, and another to impose limits on the ability of the U.S. to arm and otherwise assist Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen.

Perhaps most remarkable is the amount of the military budget itself. It is three times more than the planet’s second-highest military spender, China; it is ten times more than the third-highest spender, Saudi Arabia; it is 15 times more than the military budget of the country most frequently invoked by Committee members as a threat to justify militarism: Russia; and it is more than the next 15 countries combined spend on their military. They authorized this kind of a budget in the midst of a global pandemic as tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans struggle even to pay their rent.

How does this happen? How do Democrats succeed in presenting an image of themselves based on devotion to progressive causes and the welfare of the ordinary citizen while working with Liz Cheney to ensure that vast resources are funneled to the weapons manufacturers, defense sector and lobbyists who fund their campaigns? Why would a country with no military threats from any sovereign nation to its borders spend almost a trillion dollars a year for buying weapons while its citizens linger without health care, access to quality schools, or jobs? Who are the people in Congress doing this, and why?

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A judge speaking through his lawyers. Oh, why not? Let’s go full Bizarro. It’s all about running out the clock.

US Judge Hearing Flynn Case Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Dismissal (R.)

The judge hearing the criminal prosecution against U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday asked an appeals court to reconsider a recent decision dismissing the case. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan asked the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the June 24 decision that directed him to drop the Flynn case. The Justice Department sought to dismiss the case against Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, following pressure from Trump and his allies, leading to criticism that Attorney General William Barr was using his office to help the president’s friends. Sullivan refused to immediately sign off on the dismissal, instead appointing a retired judge to argue in favor of denying the Justice Department’s request.


Sullivan has said he cannot serve as a “rubber stamp” and must carefully review the dismissal request. In a 2-1 decision issued last month, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit directed Sullivan to grant the department’s motion to clear Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty. “This is plainly not the rare case where further judicial inquiry is warranted,” Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote for the court, adding that Sullivan had intruded on “the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power.” Sullivan’s attorneys told the appeals court the panel decision marked a “dramatic break from precedent” that “threatens to turn ordinary judicial process upside down.”

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Oh wait, there’s Victoria Nuland. Wherever she appears there’s fishy things going on.

New Steele Evidence Strengthens Durham Prosecution (Solomon)

It was in London that the whole Russia collusion caper began four years ago, so it seems only fitting that as the discredited probe enters its final phase that damning new evidence of the FBI’s failures would emerge back in England. This week when a British judge ruled against the former FBI human source Christopher Steele, the decision delivered more than an order for the former spy’s company to pay damages to two Russian businessmen maligned by his dossier. It also introduced new incontrovertible evidence that bolsters Attorney General William Barr’s and U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into whether the FBI engaged in misconduct and criminally deceived the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to win permission to spy on the Trump campaign.

Buried in Justice Mark Warby’s ruling were several new pieces of evidence that answer long lingering questions about just what the FBI knew, and when it knew it. For instance, Congressional Republicans have long questioned when exactly the FBI knew that Steele’s dossier was a product ordered up for the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party. After all, the bureau never revealed the connection to the FISA court despite its central relevance to the motives of the dossier. Warby’s lengthy ruling unearthed a gem of new evidence to answer the question: Steele kept his own notes of what he told FBI agents the first time he met them on July 5, 2016 in London to discuss his anti-Trump Russia research.

And, Warby revealed, the notes make clear that Steele told his FBI handlers from the get-go that the dossier’s “ultimate client were (sic) the leadership of the Clinton presidential campaign.” So the FBI knew immediately that the dossier it used to justify a FISA warrant targeting the Trump campaign was a political opposition research product designed to help Clinton defeat her Republican opponent and did not divulge the connection. [..] The ruling discloses that officials at the State Department where Hillary Clinton had served as secretary of state were uniquely involved in Steele’s efforts to bring the dossier to attention, including Mrs. Clinton’s former Russia expert Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, Clinton’s successor as secretary of state John Kerry and Joe Biden’s former national security adviser Tony Blinken.

Steele “elaborated, by explaining that his understanding in July 2016 was that the FBI officer he met had cleared his lines with the Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland,” the judge disclosed. And after Trump won the election, the judge added, Steele disclosed he gave copies of his dossier to longtime Clinton friend Strobe Talbot in hopes it would get to the top of the State Department. Talbott “said that he was due to meet a group of individuals at the State Department, and asked Mr Steele to share a copy of the Dossier with him, with a view to him being able to discuss the national security issues raised with these individuals,” the court revealed. “Mr Steele agreed. He did so on the understanding that Mr Talbott had been speaking to the US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ms Nuland, who knew of the Dossier and its broad content; and that the individuals whom Mr Talbott was due to meet included the then US Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken,” the court added.

[..] Steele admitted to the FBI his ultimate client was Clinton. He admitted he was leaking to the news media. He admitted he didn’t do much to verify his raw allegations. And he admitted he was working political figures in the Clinton sphere to get his allegations into circulation. Such actions have already been deemed to be negligent by prior watchdog reviews. But now Durham has fresh evidence that goes to the issue of intent. The FBI had prior knowledge about these problems and didn’t come clean to the court as required by law and duty. If Durham is building a case that FBI officials conspired to defraud the FISA court and Congress, his team just got some new exhibits from across the Atlantic Ocean.

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Stop calling them markets.

Warning (Sven Henrich)

Raising red flags during a bubble is a thankless job. The crowd gleefully cheers the momentum and as tops are processes anyone voicing contrarian reservations looks to be wrong while the bubble proceeds. I’m a big boy I can handle it. I was faced with the same issue late last year into Q1 this year as they kept chasing stocks into the high heavens before the 35% crash. Oh but it was Covid, nobody could’ve seen this coming. Nonsense. Covid was the trigger but the technical and excess were long building and now we’re in such phase again, except this one may be worse. I know, we live in the age where trillions are tossed around candy by centra banks and governments and everybody’s eyes just glaze over as the numbers defy context and comprehension. But let me throw a bit of reality into the mix and it’s absolutely mind boggling. 5 stocks have just added over half a trillion in market cap in just 6 days. Six days. Ponder that:

And they’re even higher on the open today. I ran the numbers:

5 stocks now have a combined market cap over $6.5 trillion. These very same stocks have added over $1.6 trillion in market cap in 2020:

That would be a feat during any bull market during times of great growth, but in a historical recession? So some of these stocks grabbed some market share during the shutdown, but don’t tell me $AAPL sold more phones during this. It gets worse. Since 2019 these stocks have added over $3.2 trillion in market cap:

Now, if you can convince yourself to believe that these stocks have earnings growth stories to support market cap expansions anywhere near these figures I suppose you can convince yourself to believe anything. During bubbles people will convince themselves of anything. And this is nothing new. After all people convinced themselves that tech’s valuations versus the rest of the economy were justified before.

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Dec 222019
 
 December 22, 2019  Posted by at 10:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Esther Bubley Passengers on Memphis-Chattanooga Greyhound bus 1943

 

Trump Claims ‘Breakthrough’ In Trade Talks With China (RT)
Xi Jinping Seeks To Sign Trade Deal As Soon As Possible (CNBC)
Only Washington Got What It Wants In US-China Trade Deal (SCMP)
Bannon: Trump Impeachment Will Be “Trial Of The Century” (RCP)
The Real Reasons Tulsi Gabbard Did Not Vote to Impeach Donald Trump (MPN)
We Live in Hysteric Times (Jatras)
2019 – The Year of Manufactured Hysteria (OffG)
2019 Year In Review: “I Fought The Fed, And The Fed Won” (Dave Collum)
Swedish Justice Ministry Manipulated Crime Statistics (RT)
Julian Assange’s Mother Christine Breaks Her Silence, Reveals Her Agony (HS)

 

 

But then he says it on average every other day.

Trump Claims ‘Breakthrough’ In Trade Talks With China (RT)

US President Donald Trump has said that Beijing and Washington, locked in a bitter trade dispute, will be inking a trade deal “very shortly,” claiming a breakthrough has been achieved in the recent talks. Trump was speaking at the Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday, as he made the announcement. “We just achieved a breakthrough on the trade deal and we will be signing it very shortly,” he said, without providing any additional details as to the terms of the mooted agreement or the timeframe within which it is expected to be signed.

Trump said that he spoke to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday, noting that Beijing has been “already buying billions and billions of agricultural products” from US farmers. The US push for China to step up purchase of US farm products has been one of the key demands of the Trump administration in the negotiations, that had dragged on for almost two years without bearing much fruit. However, last week Washington and Beijing announced that they finally reached “a historic and enforceable agreement” that will see the US lowering levies on $120 billion worth of Chinese imports, while 25% tariffs an another $250 billion worth of Chinese goods would still remain in effect.

China reciprocated by agreeing to boost purchase of American products to up to $200 billion over the next two years, that include agricultural products. In addition, Beijing suspended a new tariff hike on a series of US goods, ranging from corn and wheat to vehicles and auto parts.

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If the deal is so good for the US, why this? Is Xi just saving face?

Xi Jinping Seeks To Sign Trade Deal As Soon As Possible (CNBC)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Friday the “phase one” trade deal is beneficial to both China and the U.S., according to state-run media agency Xinhua. “The first-phase economic and trade agreement reached between the U.S. and China is a good thing for the U.S., China, and the entire world,” Xi said. “Both the U.S. and Chinese markets and the world have responded very positively to this. The U.S. is willing to maintain close communication with China and strive to sign and implement it as soon as possible.”


Xi acknowledged a phone call he had on Friday with President Donald Trump regarding the trade agreement. Trump said earlier Friday that they had a “very good talk,” that China has started “large scale” purchases of U.S. agricultural products and a formal deal signing is being arranged. The Xinhua report didn’t mention any detail in the limited trade deal. The two countries announced last week that they had agreed on the text of the agreement that includes some tariff relief and increased agricultural buying. Xi expressed serious concerns over the U.S.2 recent involvement in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, saying these practices interfered with China’s internal affairs, harmed China’s interests, and were not conducive to mutual trust and cooperation.

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The SCMP lifts part of the veil.

Only Washington Got What It Wants In US-China Trade Deal (SCMP)

The different approaches adopted by American and Chinese officials in dealing with the long-awaited first trade deal reflect their different sentiments and views on the result of the marathon deliberations. US President Donald Trump has been super proud of the accord, praising it as “a big deal”, “an amazing deal”, and “a historic deal”. In sharp contrast, Beijing has maintained a rarely seen cautious attitude, with its often superlatively upbeat state media muted and shying away from commenting on the development. The only positive word used in China’s official statement is “significant”. In news briefings, United States officials gave detailed information and specific numbers about the accord, trying to give the impression that the deal is “measurable, enforceable and verifiable”.

Chinese officials, by comparison, released just the outlines of agreement in nine areas without giving any specifics. The fact that Beijing has released fewer details about the deal than Washington might speak volumes. The downgraded signing ceremony for the “significant” deal might be more evidence of differing views over the significance of the accord. The deal will not be signed by both presidents as planned, but instead by their lead negotiators – US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a change that is likely to have been a Chinese suggestion. From the beginning, the US-China trade talks have been a one-way avenue as they are all about a deal between what the US wants and what China can give.

Trump initiated the tariff war with the aim of forcing China to overhaul its state-dominated system and market-unfriendly policy, and to change what the US claimed were unfair trade practices. The nine areas outlined in the 86-page document China released are largely about how it has to make changes – in other words, the accord is a must-do list for Beijing. In the tariff war, Washington apparently has the upper hand as the US has imported much more from China than vice versa. Thus Washington slapped tariffs on US$550 billion worth of Chinese products, while Beijing, in turn, lashed back at US$185 billion worth of American products – with the sum of both figures equivalent to about the entire trade volume between the two countries.

[..] Beijing’s compromises are substantive. For instance, the Chinese pledge to purchase an additional US$100 million of American products and services in each of the next two years represents a 77 per cent jump in US imports from the 2017 level of US$130 billion. Beijing’s commitment to purchase US$40 billion to US$50 billion of agricultural produce over that period also represents a sharp increase from an all-time peak of US$29 billion and a current annual run rate of less than US$10 billion. These pledges, as they are easily described and verifiable, reflected China’s eagerness to reach a deal.

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I know many people don’t like Bannon, and don’t like Fox, but that doesn’t make this less interesting.

Bannon: Trump Impeachment Will Be “Trial Of The Century” (RCP)

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will be the “trial of the century” in an interview with FOX Business Network’s Trish Regan. “I think this trial is going to be the trial of the century, and the mainstream media is going to be all over it,” Bannon said. “That’s why I think it’s so important not just for his legacy, but for his presidency and his second term. He’s got to engage in this. He’s got to take them on. He’s got to have the whistleblower; we have to have the Bidens in front of the nation and the world. They’re going to have to stand and deliver under oath. And we’re going to get to the bottom of this. And I think that’s going to lead to an exoneration, not just an acquittal, but an exoneration of President Trump.”

“The trial of the century. Wow. You know, a lot of people are worried, well, you get John Bolton. What is he going to do? What is John Bolton going to say? And what is this one going to say? What is that one going to say? What do you say to those concerns?” Regan asked. “The call was perfect. He looked at everything that led up to it,” Bannon answered. “This is why the American people heard him. And you just saw the bureaucrats that were in it that were testified. This is because that is the managed decline of the United States. This is about the Washington consensus. The Washington Post published the Afghanistan papers last week. Two trillion dollars. 2,400 dead. Tens of thousands wounded.

What’s that? That’s the inter-agency consensus in 18 years that betrayed our country. That’s what betrayed our countries. With Brennan, that’s what betrayed our country, not Donald Trump. Donald Trump has stood up. The reasons people cheer for him, it’s their sons and daughters that have died in Afghanistan. It’s their lives, their kids’ lives being thrown away, and their tax dollars. And they understand that Donald Trump is fighting that. That’s why we need a trial, a real trial and Senate with witnesses. So, before the world, Donald Trump could get his day in court.”

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Tulsi reveals how democratic the Democratic party really is.

The Real Reasons Tulsi Gabbard Did Not Vote to Impeach Donald Trump (MPN)

Along strongly partisan lines, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two articles, by a total of 230-197-1 on abuse of power and 229-198-1 on obstruction of Congress. The first stems from his alleged pressuring of the Ukranian government to announce investigations into his political rival, Joe Biden. The second is because of his alleged refusal to cooperate with the investigation, withholding evidence and barring aides from testifying. The notable “1” in both counts was Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who, instead of siding with the overwhelming majority of her fellow Democrats, voted “present” both times.

[..] The Hawaii congresswoman explained her stance yesterday with a press release on her campaign website. “I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she said. “I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country. When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.”

She also introduced a resolution calling on the House to censure Trump on five issues she implied were far more substantial. Those include carrying out wars without congressional approval, illegally “occupying and pillaging” Syria, “recklessly enabling” Turkey to invade Northern Syria and ethnically cleanse Kurds (a U.S. ally), continuing to support Saudi Arabia’s “genocidal war” in Yemen and scrapping nuclear agreements with Iran and Russia, thereby strongly increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation.

While her move was undeniably unpopular within the Democratic Party she is hoping to lead into the next election, impeachment itself is a highly controversial tactic. The latest poll from Gallup (published Wednesday) shows support for impeachment dropping well below 50 percent while the president’s approval ratings continue to move upwards. Furthermore, it is entirely unclear how Democrats intend to actually remove Trump from office as to do so would require a similar vote from the Republican-controlled Senate.

[..] the entire process is a high-risk strategy from the Democrats that some feel could end up backfiring. “Trump is going to be able to say there was a conspiracy against him– with some justification,” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi said. “It’s a disaster. If they had just not done this and argued against Trump’s presidency on other grounds– on how is America doing, inequality, all those things, it would have been tough for him. But now they’ve handed him a couple of issues, huge ones, that he’ll be able to carry all the way to the finish line…it’s amazing that they did this.”

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Team Maggot and Team Corpse..

We Live in Hysteric Times (Jatras)

With Trump’s impeachment it’s time to say goodbye to yesteryear’s Team Evil and Team Stupid. Say hello in 2020 to Team Maggot and Team Corpse! Even though Trump has not turned out to be the transformative and restorative president that many of his supporters might have hoped for, he certainly will be (assuming he survives impeachment, which he probably will) the lesser of evils in November 2020 compared to whoever ends up as the Maggot Party nominee. Worse from his opponents’ point of view, he remains a toxic avatar of the old America they thought would be well and truly laid to rest for ever and ever, amen, when Hillary Clinton came into her kingdom.

That having misfired in 2016, partisans of that legacy America’s marginalization, displacement, and eventual extinction can’t breathe easy while Trump remains in office lest he, however unlikely in view of his failures of performance, serve as a catalyst for revival of the historic American nation facing loss of its birthright: an organic, uncontrived, living ethnos characterized by European, mainly British origin (a/k/a, “white”); Christian, mainly Protestant; and English-speaking, as augmented by members of other groups who have totally or partially assimilated to it. The certified victim classes standing on the threshold of the permanent, total power that eluded them three years ago are haunted by the knowledge that there’s still lots of them Muricans in red MAGA hats rallying to Trump out there in Flyover Country ….

In short, Democrats hate Trump not so much for what he’s done (which, contrary to what his passionate supporters think based on his Tweets, isn’t much) but as an expression of an amorphous dread that by some mysterious populist alchemy he might still breathe life back into the Corpse Party’s deplorable base.

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Lots of 2019 overviews, of course. I don’t agree with thinking that this is a 2019 issue, though. For hysteria, look at 2020.

2019 – The Year of Manufactured Hysteria (OffG)

Then it happened … perhaps the loudest popcorn fart in political history. The Mueller Report was finally delivered. And just like that, Russiagate was over. After three long years of manufactured mass hysteria, corporate media propaganda, books, T-shirts, marches, etc., Robert Mueller had come up with squat. Zip. Zero. Nichts. Nada. No collusion. No pee-tape. No secret servers. No Russian contacts. Nothing. Zilch.

Cognitive dissonance gripped the nation. There was beaucoup wailing and gnashing of teeth. Resistance members doubled their anti-depressant dosages and went into mourning. Shell-shocked liberals did their best to pretend they hadn’t been duped, again, by authoritative sources like The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, et al., which had disseminated completely fabricated stories about secret meetings which never took place, power grid hackings that never happened, Russian servers that never existed, imaginary Russian propaganda peddlers, and the list goes on, and on, and on … and hadn’t otherwise behaved like a bunch of mindless, shrieking neo-McCarthyites.

Except that Russiagate wasn’t over. It immediately morphed into “Obstructiongate.” As the corporate media spooks explained, Mueller’s investigation of Trump was never about collusion with Russia. No, it was always about Trump obstructing the investigation of the collusion with Russia that the investigation was not about, and that everyone knew had never happened. In other words, Mueller’s investigation was launched in order to investigate the obstruction of his investigation.

[..] Never mind that the entire planet continues to be ruled by global capitalism, transnational corporations, and supra-governmental bodies, and that most of it is occupied by the U.S. military, NATO, and other GloboCap allies, and assorted corporate military contractors. Never mind that Russia isn’t “attacking” anyone, and that the “Nazis” haven’t taken over anything, and that no one is rounding up and murdering the Jews, or the Mexicans, or anyone else for that matter … because when have facts had anything to do with maintaining an official narrative?

The answer, in case you were wondering, is “never.” We are, all of us, living in a fiction. A fiction authored by those in power to serve the interests of those in power. That’s what an official narrative is. It makes no difference whether we believe it or not. It functions as “reality” regardless. If you doubt that … well, just ask Jeremy Corbyn. Or watch as the Labour “anti-Semitism crisis” evaporates into thin air, as the War on Terror did in 2016, once it no longer served a useful purpose.

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We go back a long way with Dave. Which has been hindered a lot by Twitter removing him from my feed. Extra good to see he still reads the Automatic Earth as one of his staples.

As for the review.. who has the time?

2019 Year In Review: “I Fought The Fed, And The Fed Won” (Dave Collum)

I read many blogs, but those I read religiously include mailings from Ron Griess’s The Chart Store, Jim Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, Bill Fleckenstein’s Daily Rap, Tony Greer’s daily TGMacro mailings, Grant Williams Things That Make You Go Hmmm, Automatic Earth, Jesse Felder’s blog, and selected podcasts from Grant Williams’ and Raoul Pal’s RealVisionTV. I am a huge supporter of Adam Taggart’s and Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity. And then there’s Zerohedge: you can love ‘em or hate ‘em, but I am a die-hard fan of Zerohedge.

“Maturing is realizing how many things don’t require your comment.”

~ @LifeTipsPage

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Sweden has lots of serious issues, Assange is just one of them. I’m still surprised at the lack of assertiveness of the Swedish people. So much so that sometimes I think perhaps they deserve what’s happening to them. That this may be the only way to wake them from their mental slumber.

Swedish Justice Ministry Manipulated Crime Statistics (RT)

Sweden’s Ministry of Justice pressured the country’s Crime Prevention Council to hide, manipulate, or ignore potentially embarrassing crime statistics, a university study has found. Sweden’s Crime Prevention Council (Brå) has a difficult task. In a country where media outlets omit police-circulated descriptions of suspects’ ethnicity, and the government actively downplays the surge in gun crime and bombings in its immigrant ghettoes, Brå is charged with compiling factual, accurate crime statistics. According to a study published by Linköping University this week, the government intervenes here too to downplay “politically sensitive” data.


Employees told the university researchers that their managers – acting on orders from the country’s Justice Ministry – instructed them to manipulate results on “hot potato” issues. Presumably, these results were ones that could embarrass the government, and likely dealt with issues of race or immigration. One interviewee stated that “methodological deficiencies” was the reason given for the change. Brå’s own statistics show an upsurge in lethal violence since 2014, particularly among criminals and in disadvantaged and immigrant neighborhoods. They also show a sharp rise in sexual violence, assaults, threats and robbery since 2015, when the country welcomed more than 160,000 refugees and migrants – more per capita than any other European country.

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Not the greatest interview, but a great message nonetheless. Julian should be with his family for Christmas.

Julian Assange’s Mother Christine Breaks Her Silence, Reveals Her Agony (HS)

Exclusive: The mother of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will not be celebrating Christmas again this year. Distraught that her son remains in the notorious Belmarsh prison, Australian Christine Assange said she has nothing to mark. “All I want for Christmas is my son Julian to be home safe with his family, under the protection of his country, to be free from this nine-year unlawful and brutal political persecution and to heal from the human rights abuses and torture which have damaged his mind and body,” said Ms Assange. Unable to speak with her son since he was jailed earlier this year, Ms Assange said all she has for Christmas this year are memories.

“Our Christmases were never boring. Julian would delight the children in the family with special Christmas performances,” said Ms Assange, in her first interview since his imprisonment. She revealed he would delight the children with a trick involving shaving sparklers and putting them in the mouth of a tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur toy, lighting it, giving the impression that he was alive and breathing fire. She said Julian had a lot of fun with his own son Daniel, decorating the Christmas tree. “He was a devoted, innovative and playful father,” she said. “Julian would love to string up the fairy lights …. we would make homemade decorations together.

“Julian’s Christmas presents were always very thoughtful. “He chose presents for the children in the family that would encourage curiosity, creativity and inventiveness.” “He would give me art books and materials because he knew I had a passion for art.” “I really miss our family Christmases … they have never been the same without him. There is something missing. We haven’t had a proper family Christmas since he has been detained … nothing is the same”.

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Sep 302018
 


M. C. Escher Bond of union 1956

 

White House Directs FBI to Interview Two Kavanaugh Accusers, Not Third (WSJ)
Where Does Our Attention Belong: Kavanaugh or Yemen? (PCR)
“Dirty Money” Crackdown As Vancouver Housing Market Grinds To A Halt (ZH)
May Acts To Tackle Housing Crisis By Imposing Levy On Foreign Buyers (O.)
Brexit Costing Britain £500m A Week And Rising (O.)
Steve Bannon Thinks Michael Avenatti Has A Serious Shot In 2020 (ZH)
New WikiLeaks Release: Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen (MPN)
Musk Out As Tesla Chair, Remains CEO in $40M SEC Settlement (AP)
How Facebook Was Hacked And Why It’s A Disaster For Internet Security (F.)
Fearing Debt Trap, Pakistan Rethinks Chinese ‘Silk Road’ Projects (R.)
FYROM Citizens Go to the Polls to Decide on Name Change (GR)
Indonesia Earthquake: Huge Surge In Death Toll (BBC)

 

 

Swetnick’s gang rape story looks far-fetched. And not one person corroborates it.

White House Directs FBI to Interview Two Kavanaugh Accusers, Not Third (WSJ)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been instructed by the White House to interview two of the women who have alleged sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh, according to people familiar with the matter. The parameters of the FBI probe don’t include interviewing Julie Swetnick, who said this week the Supreme Court nominee attended a party decades ago where she was gang-raped, according to one of the people. The focus on the first two accusations suggests that the White House doesn’t consider Ms. Swetnick’s accusations credible, people familiar with the instructions said, a decision that drew criticism from Ms. Swetnick’s attorney, Michael Avenatti.

The Wall Street Journal has attempted to corroborate Ms. Swetnick’s account, contacting dozens of former classmates and colleagues, but couldn’t reach anyone with knowledge of her allegations. No friends have come forward to publicly support her claims. She has recorded a TV interview to be aired Sunday, the first woman making accusations against the Supreme Court nominee to do so. NBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday aired a clip of her interview with John Heilemann of Showtime’s “The Circus,” in which Ms. Swetnick called for an investigation into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

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Paul Craig Roberts is right, but undermines himself by saying women should have more responsible sex.

Where Does Our Attention Belong: Kavanaugh or Yemen? (PCR)

There are reports that the Washington-initiated and militarily- supported Saudi Arabian war against Yemen have a starving Yemeni population eating leaves. The Saudis, with Washington’s GPS support, continue to target school busses, massacring children as an element of the terror assault against the population, trying to break Yemeni resistance by murdering children on school busses. Washington continues to supply the Saudis with the weapons to target school buses and the diplomatic support to protect the criminal Saudi regime from war crimes charges. The European cowards turn their heads. Even Russia is silent. Putin’s “partnership” with the criminal state of Saudi Arabia is more important.

Isn’t this a far greater offense, an offense that most definitely does not lack evidence, than the accusation that Kavanaugh, a nominee to the US Supreme Court attempted to rape a women 30 or 40 years ago, for which there is no evidence, only accusation, an accusation that the female defense atttorney who questioned for the Senate committee the woman claiming abuse found insufficient for an indictment.

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Signs the housing bubbles are nearing their end. This article and the next.

“Dirty Money” Crackdown As Vancouver Housing Market Grinds To A Halt (ZH)

Thanks to an influx of demand from Chinese nationals and other foreigners, Vancouver’s housing market soared in the post-crisis years, with prices more than doubling to levels that were clearly unsustainable, cementing the Pacific Northwest metropolis’ status as the most unaffordable housing market in North America. But the torrid growth ground to a halt earlier this year as home sales plummeted, along with construction of new homes and apartments. The typical single-family home in Vancouver costs more than C$1.5 million ($1.15 million) – roughly 20x the median household income. In an effort to let some air out of one of the continent’s most egregious property bubbles, British Columbia’s government has announced an unprecedented crackdown on money laundering in Vancouver’s property market in an attempt to stop a housing-market collapse from taking the city’s GDP with it.

The initiative, launched by Attorney General Daid Eby, seeks to create more transparency to expose all the “numbered corporations” (often used as fronts for foreign investors) buying property in Vancouver. The probe will also examine horse-racing and luxury car sales. Attorney General David Eby said that his office is launching an independent review into potential money laundering in real estate, horse-racing and luxury car sales. The review comes in response to recommendations from a previous review into money laundering in the province’s casinos. In addition, Finance Minister Carole James has appointed an expert panel to look directly at money laundering in the housing sector. Both probes will be done by March.

“There is good reason to believe the bulk of the cash we saw in casinos is a fraction of the cash generated through illicit activities that may be circulating in British Columbia’s economy,” Eby told reporters Thursday in the capital of Victoria. “We cannot ignore red flags that came out of the casino reviews of connections between individuals bringing bulk cash to casinos, and our real estate market.” […] “Our goal is simple, as you’ve heard: Get dirty money out of our housing market,” James said. “When the real estate market is vulnerable to illicit activity and unethical behavior, people, our communities and our economies suffer. This is something we have to tackle.”

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Foreign buyers have carried the boom for years. And now you act?

May Acts To Tackle Housing Crisis By Imposing Levy On Foreign Buyers (O.)

Foreign buyers of properties in the UK will have to pay a new levy, in a renewed attempt by Theresa May to tackle the housing crisis. With concern growing among senior Tories that the party has allowed Brexit to drown out a compelling domestic agenda, plans unveiled on Saturday night will see foreign buyers pay extra stamp duty to fund a drive to tackle rough sleeping. The announcement marks the start of the party’s conference in Birmingham, where the prime minister is desperate to avoid another row over her Brexit plans that might threaten to engulf her premiership. Ministers are also concerned that the party has been failing to respond to the radicalism of some of Labour’s economic programme, set out at its own conference in Liverpool last week.

On Sunday the prime minister will attempt to return to her vow to tackle social injustices and champion what she describes as the “British dream” – the idea that the next generation should do better than the last. Fixing the housing market is a major part of the programme. It comes as the latest Opinium poll for the Observer suggest the Conservatives take a three-point lead into their conference. Despite being carried out during the Labour conference week, which can often provide a poll bounce, the poll puts the Tories on 39% support, with Labour on 36%. According to Opinium, Labour had entered its conference with a two-point lead.

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Just the start.

Brexit Costing Britain £500m A Week And Rising (O.)

Brexit is already costing the public purse £500m a week, new research has found – a stark contrast to the £350m “dividend” promised by the Leave campaign. The Centre for European Reform’s analysis also suggests that the government’s austerity drive would be on the way to completion had Britain voted to stay in the European Union. It shows that the UK economy is already 2.5% smaller than it would have been had Remain won the referendum. Public finances have been dented by £26bn a year, more than half of the defence budget. This translates to a penalty of £500m a week, a figure that is growing. The stark finding comes as the Tory conference begins in Birmingham, with Theresa May’s premiership under severe strain.

The prime minister faces competing proposals from cabinet ministers over how she should resolve the Brexit impasse with the EU. The febrile conference coincides with explosive claims that the boss of one UK-based carmaker has been flown by private jet to meet President Emmanuel Macron, in an attempt to persuade the company to move manufacturing to France after Brexit. Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, told the Observer this development was a sign of the economic damage Britain faces from the wrong Brexit deal. While some cabinet ministers are pushing for a loose, Canada-style trade deal, support is growing in May’s ministerial team and on her backbenches for a deal under which Britain would stay closely tied to the EU for a limited period.

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A three way race.

Steve Bannon Thinks Michael Avenatti Has A Serious Shot In 2020 (ZH)

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon said on Friday that attorney Michael Avenatti could become the Democratic nominee for president in 2020. Speaking with Bill Maher about the state of the Democratic party, Bannon agreed with the HBO host that Avenatti – lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels and Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s “gang rape” accuser – can capture the left with his bravado and plain spoken language. “The guy who’s the outsider, who like blows through the regular politician because he looks different and he’s got balls,” said Maher – to which Bannon replied: “If Bernie Sanders had an ounce of Avenatti’s fearlessness, he would have been the Democratic nominee and we would have had a much tougher time beating him.”

“Bernie doesn’t have fearlessness?” asked Maher. “Not like Avenatti,” Bannon replied. “I’ve not done any due diligence on this guy, but I tell you he’s got a fearlessness and he’s a fighter. I think he’ll go through a lot of this field if he decides to stick with it.” “I don’t happen to think a professional politician is going to be there at the end of the day. I’ve always said it’s going to be an Oprah or an Avenatti — somebody who’s more media savvy,” said Bannon. “You’re gonna have Trump on the right, a politician, maybe a Kamala Harris or somebody on the left, and I think you’ll have a Bloomberg or a Romney or somebody in the center,” Bannon concluded. “I think it will be a three-way race.”

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Assange is no longer in charge, which makes room for more releases. This is about Germany and France.

New WikiLeaks Release Exposes Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen

The transparency organization WikiLeaks just released a new document that sheds light on the corruption behind a lucrative French-German arms deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), weapons that are currently being used to wage a disastrous and genocidal war against the people of Yemen. The document details a court case from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration regarding a dispute over a “commission payment” made to Abbas Ibrahim Yousef Al-Yousef, an Emirati businessman, as part of a $3.6 billion arms deal between France’s state-owned weapons company Nexter Systems (then GIAT Industries SA) and the UAE.

Per the deal, which was signed in 1993 and set to conclude in 2008, the UAE purchased 388 Leclerc combat tanks, 46 armored vehicles, 2 training tanks, and spare parts, as well as ammunition. Those weapons have been an important part of the UAE and Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen since it began in 2015. The war has killed over ten thousand civilians, largely the result of the Saudi/UAE bombing campaign, which has targeted and crippled the country’s civilian infrastructure. The result of those bombings, as well as of the UAE/Saudi blockade of Yemen, has been over 17 million people near starvation – including 5.2 million children – and preventable disease epidemics that have claimed tens of thousands of additional lives.

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Big surge in share prices Monday, from whish Musk will profit?

Musk Out As Tesla Chair, Remains CEO in $40M SEC Settlement (AP)

Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have agreed to pay a total of $40 million and make a series of concessions to settle a government lawsuit alleging Musk duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company. The settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission allows Musk to remain CEO of the electric car company but requires him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years. Tesla must hire an independent chairman to oversee the company, something that should please a number of shareholders who have criticized Tesla’s board for being too beholden to Musk. The deal was announced Saturday, just two days after SEC filed its case seeking to oust Musk as CEO.

Musk, who has an estimated $20 billion fortune, and Tesla, a company that ended June with $2.2 billion in cash, each are paying $20 million to resolve the case, which stemmed from a tweet Musk sent on Aug. 7 indicating he had the financing in place to take Tesla private at a price of $420 per share. “A reckless tweet cost a lot of money — the $20-million tweet,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader. [..] Tesla’s stock plummeted 14 percent Friday after the SEC filed its lawsuit, erasing more than $7 billion in shareholder wealth. Many analysts predicted the shares were bound to fall even further if Musk had been forced to step down. Tesla’s stock has dropped 30 percent since Aug. 7, closing Friday at $264.77.

The steep downturn in Tesla’s market value may have influenced Musk to have an apparent change of heart and negotiate a settlement. Musk had rejected a similar settlement offer before the SEC sued Thursday, maintaining he had done nothing wrong when he posted a tweet declaring that he had secured the financing to lead a buyout of Tesla.

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Serious. Incompetent.

How Facebook Was Hacked And Why It’s A Disaster For Internet Security (F.)

Facebook dropped a bombshell on Friday when it revealed an unknown hacker had breached the site, compromising the accounts of 50 million users. The company’s security team found three bugs were used in the attacks, saying they were used in combination to successfully break into Facebook accounts. Forbes spoke with professional web app hacker and cybersecurity researcher Thomas Shadwell, who pieced together a likely hypothesis on how the mystery hacker or hackers carried out what’s believed to be the most significant ever attack to have hit the social media beast. The perpetrator’s ultimate aim was to steal what are known as “OAuth bearer tokens.” Essentially, these tokens prove the Facebook user is the rightful owner of an account and denote what they have access to.

As Shadwell describes them: “OAuth tokens are like car keys, if you’re holding them you can use them, there’s no discrimination of the holder.” And in the context of this attack, those keys unlocked not just Facebook accounts, but any site that affected users accessed with a Facebook login. That might include Instagram or news websites. To get those keys, the hackers abused a feature in Facebook called “View As.” It allows any user to see what another can access on their profile. For instance, if you’ve blocked your dad from looking at your photos, you can check it’s working by effectively impersonating your father and viewing your profile. “It looks like when Facebook built the View As feature, they did this by making it a modification of how Facebook would work if actually viewed by that other user,” said Shadwell.

“Which of course means if there’s a mistake they might end up sending the impersonated user’s credentials to the user of the ‘View As’ feature.” This is where things get a bit weirder. If a user, via View As, impersonated a friend who themselves had a friend who had a birthday, the feature would also show a box prompting them to post a “happy birthday” video. Thanks to an error made by Facebook in July 2017, the video provided the user with one of those precious tokens, Shadwell said. More specifically, the video player generated and sent the user a token, one that would log them into the Facebook mobile app as if they were the person they were impersonating via View As. From there the user (in this case a malicious hacker) would have total access over that other person’s account.

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Increasingly, the reality of the model shines through.

Fearing Debt Trap, Pakistan Rethinks Chinese ‘Silk Road’ Projects (R.)

After lengthy delays, an $8.2 billion revamp of a colonial-era rail line snaking from the Arabian Sea to the foothills of the Hindu Kush has become a test of Pakistan’s ability to rethink signature Chinese “Silk Road” projects due to debt concerns. The rail megaproject linking the coastal metropolis of Karachi to the northwestern city of Peshawar is China’s biggest Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project in Pakistan, but Islamabad has balked at the cost and financing terms. Resistance has stiffened under the new government of populist Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has voiced alarm about rising debt levels and says the country must wean itself off foreign loans.

“We are seeing how to develop a model so the government of Pakistan wouldn’t have all the risk,” Khusro Bakhtyar, minister in Pakistan’s planning ministry, told reporters recently. The cooling of enthusiasm for China’s investments mirrors the unease of incoming governments in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Maldives, where new administrations have come to power wary of Chinese deals struck by their predecessors. Pakistan’s new government had wanted to review all BRI contracts. Officials say there are concerns the deals were badly negotiated, too expensive or overly favored China. But to Islamabad’s frustration, Beijing is only willing to review projects that have not yet begun, three senior government officials have told Reuters.

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Pushed through by EU and US so Balkan can join NATO. Still very contested in Greece.

FYROM Citizens Go to the Polls to Decide on Name Change (GR)

FYROM citizens are going to the polls today (Sunday) to vote on the referendum on the name change to “Republic of North Macedonia”, as agreed between their government and Greece on June 17. The question of the referendum to which Macedonian voters are asked to answer is: “Are you in favor of membership in NATO and the European Union by accepting the deal between (the) Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Greece?” Opinion polls so far show that a “Yes” in the referendum is most likely, as the majority of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia citizens are in favor of NATO and EU membership.

However, the question of the Zoran Zaev government is whether the participation is satisfactory. Specifically, 50 percent plus one of registered voters are needed to cast a ballot for the referendum results to be valid. In his referendum campaign, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev stressed the NATO and EU membership prospects for the Balkan country. Meanwhile, opponents, including the country’s president, Gjorge Ivanov, have called for a boycott of the referendum, describing the Prespa agreement with Greece a “flagrant violation of sovereignty.”

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A lot of people live there.

Indonesia Earthquake: Huge Surge In Death Toll (BBC)

At least 832 people were killed in the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the national disaster agency says. It added that the affected area was bigger than initially thought. Many people were reported trapped in the rubble of buildings that collapsed in Friday’s 7.5-magnitude earthquake, agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference. The quake triggered tsunami waves as high as 6m (20ft), he added. Rescuers have been digging by hand in the frantic search for survivors in the city of Palu.

“What we now desperately need is heavy machinery to clear the rubble. I have my staff on the ground, but it’s impossible just to rely on their strength alone to clear this,” Muhammad Syaugi, head of the national search-and-rescue agency, told AFP news agency. There have also been concerns about the town of Donggala, where the impact is still unclear. The Red Cross estimates that more than 1.6 million people have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami which it described as a tragedy that “could get much worse”. Indonesia’s Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said the final death toll could be in the thousands.

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Jul 302018
 
 July 30, 2018  Posted by at 1:48 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Family of Saltimbanques 1905

 

Why did Britain vote Yes in the Brexit vote Cameron called? To a large degree to protest policies he himself imposed. For many it’s still a mystery ‘mechanism’, but not for all. People like Steve Bannon understand it very well. That is, austerity and mass migration make voters turn to the political right. Even if they are initiated by the right. When Britain’s Tories under David Cameron and George Osborne began ripping apart much of the country’s institutions and infrastructure, they knew that their austerity measures would only make their party stronger.

The incompetence of Theresa May and her ministers on Brexit will lead to an almighty backlash, and soon, but then Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg, far to the right of May, will take over. Labour under Corbyn doesn’t stand a chance. The same pattern repeats itself everywhere, and nobody knows how to stop it. How could they if and when they don’t understand it?

For the right, this is a ‘can’t lose’, and they’re not done. That’s why Steve Bannon is touring Europe. It’s easy pickings: a rightwing government that imposes austerity measures will be rewarded for it with more voters. If it also lets in large numbers of migrants, even more votes. Can’t lose. The migration streams in Europe are supported by the right, because they know that subsequently opposing them will keep them in power.

Under political systems as we once knew them, you’d expect people to turn left instead of right, but there is no left left to vote for. What’s left of what was once left, has become an indistinguishable part of a big shapeless blob in the center -or even center-right- of our political systems. Or perhaps we should say: the systems as we once knew them. And it’s indeed just what’s left of the left, which in most cases is very little. In many countries, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, formerly left parties have been all but extinguished, former ‘glory’ brought to its knees.

Spain is an exception, but leftwing PM Pablo Sanchez seems to have landed his job primarily by playing a better game of chess -or poker- than his opponents when he forced then-PM Mariano Rajoy out. But just wait till you see what happens when refugees and migrants begin flooding into Spain, instead of Greece and Italy, for real. That development has already started. Italy closed its borders, Spain opened them. It will lead to a rightwing government in Madrid, too.

This is not about opinion. it’s simply what happens. When there is no left to turn to to halt austerity, let alone temper migration numbers, people will turn to the only alternative available to them. Right. The same right that is more than ready to magnify the problems, whether it’s migration or increasing levels of poverty. They win either way.

 

In Germany, the leftwing SDP hardly exists anymore. Center-right Angela Merkel, Queen of Europe, opened the doors of the nation and whaddaya know, parties to her right started growing. If I can insert one bit of opinion here, I’d say letting one million migrants into your country in one year is asking for trouble. Migration must always take place in moderation, especially when the difference in wealth between an existing population and new arrivals is very large. It’s different in Turkey or Lebanon, where wealth disparities are much smaller.

And those countries are already largely Muslim, whereas allowing many people into your country who have completely different religions and worldviews is a whole different game. Canada does this -relatively- well: new arrivals are Canadian first, and Muslim or Syrian after. European countries have never mastered that model; that’s why they have ghetto’s and assorted other problems. Migration and assimilation must be two sides of the same coin, or you have not immigration but an invasion.

The right can do what it wants and still win and get bigger, while privatizing everything in sight and robbing the public of all they once owed. And then that same public will vote for them again. It’s neoliberal and neocon and there’s nobody left to explain, let alone fight it. And if there were, there’s a formidable propaganda machine waiting in the wings, and they’ve been at it for a while now. The -formerly- left has no such machine. The best they can do is blame Russia. But they themselves are to blame, not Moscow.

 

So the people vote against their own best interests, and it’s not even very hard to get them to do that anymore. All you need to do is deprive them of all other options. Once the left wing becomes part of the center, whether it’s in the US or any of many European countries, rien ne va plus. The die has been cast.

The left must turn against neoliberalism, but it has no economists to explain the reason why, and no leaders who understand economics. So they have become neoliberalists themselves. They’re all stuck in the austerity model, and nobody gets how damaging it is to take a meat cleaver to an already suffering economy. The people of Greece can explain that one.

Economies function -or not- because of money flowing through them. You can cut away some of the fat in lean times, but you can’t cut away the arteries. Austerity is deadly to an economy, but the irony is that it makes people vote for those who first, initiate it, and second, promote more austerity.

I don’t want to insert any political opinions, but I do think that for a society, and an economy, to properly function there needs to be a balance, between left and right, between rich and poor, between owners and workers. We’re far away from any such balance wherever I look. And as I’ve said before, that’s why we have Trump.

To reveal what has so far remained hidden: everything done under the guise of ‘left’ that was merely more neoliberalism. To allow people who don’t agree with him to form an opinion and an identity, something they thought was not necessary under neoliberals like Obama or Tony Blair or Merkel. I don’t see any of that happening though, and that means many more years of Trump and other rightwing dominance.

If the answer to austerity is to vote for more austerity, what will be the answer to collapsing stock- and housing markets? I have an idea. And it doesn’t include Jeremy Corbyn. Or Bernie Sanders.

 

 

Mar 232018
 


Edvard Munch Spring 1889

 

China Hits Back on Trump Tariffs as Europe Off the Hook for Now (BBG)
Asian Stocks Plunge As Trump’s Trade War Heats Up (MW)
Dow Jones Closes Down More Than 700 Points (Ind.)
UK Politicians To Be Exempt From Data Crackdown (Ind.)
Steve Bannon: ‘Facebook Data Is For Sale All Over The World’ (G.)
Facebook Gave Data About 57 Billion Friendships To Academic (G.)
The Digital Military Industrial Complex (NYBooks)
EU Countries Prepare To Follow May And Expel Russian Diplomats (G.)
Number Of British Children In Poverty Surges By 100,000 In A Year (Ind.)
UK Rebel Bank Prints Its Own Notes And Buys Back People’s Debts (G.)
Shaking the Superflux (Varoufakis)
‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ 16 Times Larger Than Previously Estimated (G.)
Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Rapidly Accumulating Plastic (Nature)
‘Collapse Of Civilisation Is A Near Certainty Within Decades’ – Ehrlich (G.)
Mammoth Survey Of Nature’s Vital Signs Released (AFP)

 

 

All involved know a realignment was inevitable. This is simply the art of the deal.

China Hits Back on Trump Tariffs as Europe Off the Hook for Now (BBG)

The trade conflict between China and the U.S. escalated, with Beijing announcing its first retaliation against metals levies hours after President Donald Trump outlined fresh tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports and pledged there’s more on the way. On Friday, China unveiled tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports in response to steel and aluminum duties ordered by Trump earlier this month. The White House then declared a temporary exemption for the European Union and other nations on those levies, making the focus on China clear. Though Beijing’s actions so far are seen by analysts as measured, there may be more to come.

Equity indexes from Tokyo to Shanghai tumbled more than 3% and U.S. stock futures fell, signaling a further retreat for the S&P 500 Index after it fell 2.5%, on risks a further escalation in trade tensions will undermine an unusual phase of synchronized global economic growth. Suppliers to Apple were among the hardest hit in Hong Kong and mainland markets on Friday, as investors focused on potential losers from the trade spat. “China’s response is surprisingly modest in light of the U.S. actions, suggesting there could be a good deal more to come,” said Stephen Roach, a former non-executive chairman for Morgan Stanley in Asia and now a senior fellow at Yale University. “As America’s third largest and most rapidly growing export market and as the largest foreign owner of Treasuries, China has considerably more leverage over the U.S. than Washington politicians care to admit.”

[..] The White House gave the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea, until May 1 to negotiate levies on steel and aluminum. The administration said the suspensions can be renewed or revoked then, “pending discussions of satisfactory long-term alternative means to address the threatened impairment to U.S. national security.” “This has been long in the making,” Trump said signing the intellectual-property order, adding that the tariffs could affect as much as $60 billion in goods. He told reporters, “This is the first of many.”

Read more …

There’ll be a bit of to and fro, with big words and big numbers and big threats, and then everyone will get back to business.

Asian Stocks Plunge As Trump’s Trade War Heats Up (MW)

The global equities swoon rolled over to Asia on Friday, where markets reacted negatively to the Trump administration’s trade broadside against China. Although the import tariffs had been telegraphed for weeks, Thursday’s package, covering about $60 billion in goods, sent investors running for havens. Bonds and gold prices rose and the Japanese yen hit its highest point against the U.S. dollar since Donald Trump won the presidential election. “Yes, the news was out for a while, but the actual action was a bit of a surprise to the market,” said Shinchiro Kadota, a senior forex and rates strategist at Barclays. “Maybe they thought it would be smaller, maybe later.”

China’s commerce ministry responded Friday morning and announced it would levy tariffs against $3 billion worth of U.S. goods including pork and recycled aluminum. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed down 4.5% as the yen’s sharp gains on Thursday also pressured stocks lower. The yen rose further on Friday, hitting 16-month highs as the dollar went below ¥105. The WSJ Dollar Index fell 0.2% in Asia, extending the afternoon pullback seen during U.S. trading. Stocks in China also fell with the Shanghai Composite Index down 4%, the Shenzhen Composite Index down 5.3% and the small-cap-heavy Chinext Index down 5.1%.

Read more …

Realignment.

Dow Jones Closes Down More Than 700 Points (Ind.)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 700 points, with investors fearing that trade tensions will spike between the US and China after President Donald Trump unveiled new tariffs against Beijing. Industrial and technology companies, which depend heavily on foreign trade, took some of the worst losses with Boeing, Caterpillar and Microsoft all falling sharply. The Dow sank 724 points, or 2.9%, to 23,957. The Nasdaq lost 178 points, or 2.4%, to 7,166. The S&P 500 index dropped 68 points, or 2.5%, to 2,643, erasing its gain for the year. It is the fifth-worst daily point drop ever for the Dow and the worst since the beginning of February.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump unveiled a plan to impose up to $60bn in new tariffs on Chinese goods, as well as limiting the country’s investment in the US as payback for what his administration alleges is years of intellectual property theft. The president’s order – which report from the White House had previously suggested would be nearer $50bn – is likely to trigger retaliation by Beijing and could further stoke fears of a global trade war. Just before signing the trade action, Mr Trump said it was “the first of many” as he looks to correct what has repeatedly called “unfair” trade deals with nations around the world.

“Markets are saying that these tariffs are going to cut into the global growth story that looked pretty strong just a few weeks ago. The prospect of more tariffs is making markets very unsettled and you’re going to see choppy trading until we see the effect they are having on earnings,” Jamie Cox, a managing partner for Harris Financial Group told Reuters.

Read more …

All you need to know about the Cambridge Analytica outrage. It’s theater.

UK Politicians To Be Exempt From Data Crackdown (Ind.)

Britain’s political parties are poised to grant themselves special powers to use personal data to find out how people are likely to vote, despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal, The Independent can reveal. Legislation set to clear Parliament within weeks will allow the profiling of voters to help infer their political opinions, privacy campaigners have warned. The move comes as controversy has engulfed Cambridge Analytica over its collection of Facebook data, with the aim of using it to profile and target people during election campaigns. Even before the scandal erupted, political parties had faced questions about their use of social media to carry out online campaigning.

All the major parties have agreed to the exemption from new data protection laws, arguing it clarifies their widely recognised right to canvas voters in order to target possible supporters. But critics say technological advances now enable such data to be mined to discover people’s opinions without their active consent. Organisations outside of the main political parties will be barred from collating voting data in this way. Ailidh Callander, a lawyer at the group Privacy International, told The Independent that “no meaningful justification” had been given for the powers in the Data Protection Bill. “This exemption is open to abuse by political parties and those working for them and can be used to facilitate targeted and exploitative political advertising,” she warned.

[..] “As we can see from the work of Cambridge Analytica, personal data that might not have previously revealed political opinions can now be used to infer information about the political opinions of an individual,” Ms Callander added. It would allow private firms, under contract to political parties, to “process personal data revealing political opinions for a wide range of purposes” without the explicit consent of the person concerned, Ms Callander said. Mr Bernal said data that could reveal voting preferences should be given “more protection”, warning: “Almost anything can be used to at least have a guess at your political leanings.”

Read more …

Business model. And if anyone can buy this stuff, you wonder what the NSA keeps for itself.

Steve Bannon: ‘Facebook Data Is For Sale All Over The World’ (G.)

Steve Bannon tried to distance himself from the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Thursday, claiming: “I didn’t even know anything about the Facebook mining.” Bannon is a former vice-president and board member of the political consultancy, which he agreed he “put together.” He claimed to a conference in New York that neither he nor Cambridge Analytica had anything to do with “dirty tricks” in the use of information harvested from Facebook to make computer models to sway elections. Besides, he said, “Facebook data is for sale all over the world”.

Bannon – Donald Trump’s former chief strategist – later said outside the conference room that he “did not remember” being part of any scheme to buy data that came from Facebook and divert it to use for election propaganda, as the Observer revealed last weekend. He blamed any “dirty tricks” on Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, which he described as “the British guys, old Etonians and guys from Oxford and Cambridge” [..] Bannon denied there was any scandal involving companies acquiring people’s personal information from Facebook and using it for other purposes.

“It’s just about the cost of it. It’s bought and sold every day, it’s just a marketplace,” he said, adding: “I didn’t even know about the Facebook mining, that’s Facebook’s business … They went to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 and told him all about the power of personal data.” Bannon turned to the conference audience and said: “You’re all serfs. Well paid serfs, but still serfs … The data is all out there, they [Facebook] take your stuff for free and monetize it for huge margins, they take over your life.”

Read more …

About that claim that Facebook was cheated, it wasn’t. It was always part of the whole thing. This is not something Kogan ‘harvested’, Facebook had already done that.

Facebook Gave Data About 57 Billion Friendships To Academic (G.)

Before Facebook suspended Aleksandr Kogan from its platform for the data harvesting “scam” at the centre of the unfolding Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media company enjoyed a close enough relationship with the researcher that it provided him with an anonymised, aggregate dataset of 57bn Facebook friendships. Facebook provided the dataset of “every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level” to Kogan’s University of Cambridge laboratory for a study on international friendships published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2015. Two Facebook employees were named as co-authors of the study, alongside researchers from Cambridge, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Kogan was publishing under the name Aleksandr Spectre at the time.

A University of Cambridge press release on the study’s publication noted that the paper was “the first output of ongoing research collaborations between Spectre’s lab in Cambridge and Facebook”. Facebook did not respond to queries about whether any other collaborations occurred. “The sheer volume of the 57bn friend pairs implies a pre-existing relationship,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. “It’s not common for Facebook to share that kind of data. It suggests a trusted partnership between Aleksandr Kogan/Spectre and Facebook.”

Facebook downplayed the significance of the dataset, which it said was shared with Kogan in 2013. “The data that was shared was literally numbers – numbers of how many friendships were made between pairs of countries – ie x number of friendships made between the US and UK,” Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said by email. “There was no personally identifiable information included in this data.”

Read more …

Excellent long background by Tamsin Shaw for the Facebook story. It’s a who’s who.

The Digital Military Industrial Complex (NYBooks)

In a 2014 interview, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, speaking then as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that such open-source data initiatives, and in particular the study of social media such as Facebook, had entirely transformed intelligence-gathering. He reported that traditional signals intelligence and human intelligence were increasingly being replaced by this open-source work and that the way in which intelligence agents are trained had been modified to accommodate the shift. A growing portion of the military’s $50 billion budget would be spent on this data analytics work, he claimed, creating a “gold rush” for contractors. A few weeks after this interview, Flynn left the DIA to establish the Flynn Intel Group Inc. He later acted as a consultant to the SCL Group.”

Carole Cadwalladr reported in The Observer last year that it was Sophie Schmidt, daughter of Alphabet founder Eric Schmidt, who made SCL aware of this gold rush, telling Alexander Nix, then head of SCL Elections, that the company should emulate Palantir, the company set up by Peter Thiel and funded with CIA venture capital that has now won important national security contracts. Schmidt threatened to sue Cadwalladr for reporting this information. But Nix recently admitted before a parliamentary select committee in London that Schmidt had interned for Cambridge Analytica, though he denied that she had introduced him to Peter Thiel. Aleksandr Kogan and Christopher Wylie allowed Cambridge Analytica to evolve into an extremely competitive operator in this arena.

Read more …

Proof is overrated.

EU Countries Prepare To Follow May And Expel Russian Diplomats (G.)

EU leaders have thrown their weight behind Theresa May’s stance on Russia, with several countries poised to announce expulsions of diplomats, in a bid to dismantle Vladimir Putin’s spy network. Following a summit in Brussels to discuss the response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack, EU leaders gave their full-throated backing to the prime minister by adopting a statement declaring it was “highly likely Russia is responsible” for poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, tweeted that all leaders agreed Russia’s responsibility for the attack was highly likely. In a significant point for May, the statement goes further than a declaration by foreign ministers earlier this week, which avoided pinning the blame on Russia.

British diplomats believe that a strong message of solidarity with the UK, from Russia’s closest European neighbours, will hit home with President Putin. France, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are understood to be considering expelling Russian diplomats, as requested by the UK government, in a coordinated strike against Moscow. The Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, said: “All of us, we are considering such measures.” She added that she had not congratulated Putin on his election victory. EU leaders discussed their response to the Salisbury poisoning over a European council summit dinner in Brussels. The UK prime minister told her fellow leaders the attack formed part of a long-term pattern of behaviour by Russia, and urged them to present a united front.

Read more …

What all the talk about Russia serves to hide…

Number Of British Children In Poverty Surges By 100,000 In A Year (Ind.)

The number of children in poverty across the UK has surged by 100,000 in a year, new figures show, prompting calls for ministers to urgently review cuts to child welfare. Government statistics published on Thursday show 4.1 million children are now living in relative poverty after household costs, compared with four million the previous year, accounting for more than 30% of children in the country. Compared to the overall population, children remained the most likely to be in relative poverty, at almost one in three compared with 21% of working age adults and 16% of pensioners.

The figures will fuel concerns that benefit cuts and tax credits under the Tory Government are seeing children hardest hit, with around one and a half million more under-18s forecasted to live in households below the relative poverty line by 2022. Relative child poverty is measured as children living in homes where the income is 60% of the median household income in the UK, adjusted for family size and after housing costs. Separate government statistics published on Thursday show the number of households in temporary accommodation has surged 64% since the Tories came to power in 2010, of which more than 2,000 had children.

Responding to the rise in child poverty levels, Labour MP Margaret Greenwood, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “These figures show that after eight years of Conservative austerity, Labour’s progress in tackling child poverty has been reversed with a shocking increase in the numbers of children living in poverty.

Read more …

Don’t get too successful, or else…

UK Rebel Bank Prints Its Own Notes And Buys Back People’s Debts (G.)

First there were the banks. Sending credit cards through the post, offering easy loans. They overstretched, teetered. Then came the billion-dollar bailouts, recession, austerity, poverty and payday loans. Then, slowly, came the movement: a piecemeal, sporadic effort to buy back the debt of ordinary people. Now in north-east London, an enterprise that is part art installation, part stunt and part charitable endeavour, has brought all the threads together: a bank that prints its own money, sells it for real tender and uses the proceeds to buy back the debt.

Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn have taken over an old Co-op Bank on a high street in Walthamstow and are printing money featuring the faces of people behind four local services – a primary school, a foodbank, a youth project and a soup kitchen. As well as raising money for those projects, Hoe Street Central Bank aims to raise enough money to buy out £1m of debt owned by people within the E17 postcode, in a London borough ranked 35th most deprived in the country.

“We see it as a community heist taking on the economic discourse,” says Powell. One of the delightful ironies of the undertaking is that the ‘bank’ could only have to raise as little as £20,000 to buy out £1m of local debt, because bad loans are often written down to a fraction of their face value in the secondary market. “The system forces people into debt for basic needs,” says Powell. “We are the forerunners of what we hope will be a bigger movement for debt abolition.” As the bank did its unusual trade this week, schoolchildren were invited in to watch a batch of £5, £10 and £20 notes, all designed by artists, roll off the presses. After all, it’s not every day that you see your headteacher’s face on a fiver.

Read more …

Varoufakis’ Shakespeare lecture. The recent Facebook and Novichok stories would fit right in.

Shaking the Superflux (Varoufakis)

As is, alas, well known, my country went bankrupt in 2010. And the oligarchies, Greek and European, in power decided to cover it up by means of largest loan in History to the most bankrupt European state – money that was, always, meant to flow on to France’s and Germany’s bankrupt bankers while the Greeks were thrown indefinitely into debtor’s prison and treated to the harshest austerity this planet has ever seen. Yes, there was method to the madness of the powers-that-be, just as in any Shakespearean play. Watching them stumble from one idiotic decision to the next, making things up as they were going along, and intensifying the crisis that they were trying to quell, was like watching a version of Othello, wondering how smart people could be so foolish, or of a Macbeth scheming in the land of Oedipus.

Like King Laius of Thebes unwittingly brought about his own murder by his son Oedipus because he believed the prophecy that Oedipus would kill him once he grew up, so too did Europe’s Deep Establishment, in a bid to save their bankers while safeguarding their legitimacy, undermined their legitimacy by committing successive, Macbeth-like, crimes against logic – so much so that, today, the so-called political centre traditionally in the service of the Establishment lays in ruins everywhere in Europe: Think France, Austria, Germany, recently Italy, where political monsters are rising up across Europe bringing to mind Brutus’ line in Julius Caesar about the hatchling of the serpent’s egg that must be “killed in the shell” before it emerges. Except that, instead of crushing the shell before the new serpents hatched, the Establishment kept it warm, facilitated its hatching, and is now repeatedly bitten by them.

Read more …

Global plastic production is increasing exponentially.

‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ 16 Times Larger Than Previously Estimated (G.)

An enormous area of rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean is teeming with far more debris than previously thought, heightening alarm that the world’s oceans are being increasingly choked by trillions of pieces of plastic. The sprawling patch of detritus – spanning 1.6m sq km, (617,763 sq miles) more than twice the size of France – contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic, new research published in Nature has found. This mass of waste is up to 16 times larger than previous estimates and provides a sobering challenge to a team that will start an ambitious attempt to clean up the vast swath of the Pacific this summer.

The analysis, conducted by boat and air surveys taken over two years, found that pollution in the so-called Great Pacific garbage patch is almost exclusively plastic and is “increasing exponentially”. Microplastics, measuring less than 0.5cm (0.2in), make up the bulk of the estimated 1.8tn pieces floating in the garbage patch, which is kept in rough formation by a swirling ocean gyre. While tiny fragments of plastic are the most numerous, nearly half of the weight of rubbish is composed of discarded fishing nets. Other items spotted in the stew of plastic include bottles, plates, buoys, ropes and even a toilet seat.

“I’ve been doing this research for a while, but it was depressing to see,” said Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer and lead author of the study. Lebreton works for the Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch-based non-profit that is aiming to tackle the garbage patch. [..] The organization is developing a system of large floating barriers with underwater screens that capture and concentrate plastics into one area ready to be scooped out of the ocean. A prototype, to be launched from San Francisco this summer with the aim of spawning a clutch of devices each of which can collect five tons of waste a month, will, if successful, be followed by dozens of other boom-like systems measuring up to 2km (1.2 miles) long.

The project comes with caveats, however – its system will not catch the proliferation of microplastics measuring under 10 millimeters (0.39in) and the whole operation will require further funding from next year. Any successful clean-up may also be overwhelmed by a global surge in plastic production – a recent UK government report warned the amount of plastic in the ocean could treble within the next decade. “There is a big mine of microplastics there coming from larger stuff that’s crumbling down, so we need to get in there quickly to clean it up,” said Joost Dubois, a spokesman for the Ocean Cleanup.

Read more …

The official report. Half of the garbage is fishing nets. A recent report estimated 70% of all visible plastic is discarded nets.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Rapidly Accumulating Plastic (Nature)

Ocean plastic can persist in sea surface waters, eventually accumulating in remote areas of the world s oceans. Here we characterise and quantify a major ocean plastic accumulation zone formed in subtropical waters between California and Hawaii: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Our model, calibrated with data from multi-vessel and aircraft surveys, predicted at least 79 (45-129) thousand tonnes of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2; a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported.

We explain this difference through the use of more robust methods to quantify larger debris. Over three-quarters of the GPGP mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets. Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1-3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area. Plastic collected during our study has specific characteristics such as small surface-to-volume ratio, indicating that only certain types of debris have the capacity to persist and accumulate at the surface of the GPGP. Finally, our results suggest that ocean plastic pollution within the GPGP is increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

Global annual plastic consumption has now reached over 320 million tonnes with more plastic produced in the last decade than ever before. A significant amount of the produced material serves an ephemeral purpose and is rapidly converted into waste. A small portion may be recycled or incinerated while the majority will either be discarded into landfill or littered into natural environments, including the world’s oceans. While the introduction of synthetic fibres in fishing and aquaculture gear represented an important technological advance specifically for its persistence in the marine environment, accidental and deliberate gear losses became a major source of ocean plastic pollution. Lost or discarded fishing nets known as ghostnets are of particular concern as they yield direct negative impacts on the economy and marine habitats worldwide.

Read more …

Ehrlich still claims it’s preventable. Why?

‘Collapse Of Civilisation Is A Near Certainty Within Decades’ – Ehrlich (G.)

A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich. In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, the Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever. The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.

Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”. The Population Bomb, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich in 1968, predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s – a fate that was avoided by the green revolution in intensive agriculture. Many details and timings of events were wrong, Paul Ehrlich acknowledges today, but he says the book was correct overall. “Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

Read more …

I doubt that “it’s not too late”.

Mammoth Survey Of Nature’s Vital Signs Released (AFP)

Scientists will deliver a comprehensive assessment Friday of the state of biodiversity — the animals and plants that humankind depends on to survive but has driven into a mass species extinction. The labor of some 600 scientists over three years, four reports will be unveiled in Medellin, Colombia, under the umbrella of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The diagnosis is expected to be dire. “If we continue the way we are, yes the… sixth mass extinction, the first one ever caused by humans, will continue,” IPBES chairman Robert Watson told AFP ahead of the much-anticipated release. But the good news, he said, “It’s not too late” to slow the rate of loss.

Scientists say mankind’s voracious consumption and wanton destruction of Nature has unleashed the first mass species die-off since the demise of the dinosaurs – only the sixth on our planet in half-a-billion years. The first major biodiversity assessment in 13 years comes in the same week that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, died in Kenya – a stark reminder of the stakes. “The IPBES conference is going to tell us that the situation is continuing to deteriorate, they are going to tell us some ecosystems are being brought to the brink of collapse,” WWF director general Marco Lambertini told AFP on Thursday. “The IPBES is going to make a strong case for the importance of protecting Nature for our own wellbeing.”

Read more …

Feb 272017
 
 February 27, 2017  Posted by at 9:39 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Wyland Stanley Indian guides and Nash auto at Covelo stables., Mendocino County CA 1925

 

The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Monetary Policy Isn’t Working (WSJ)
Giant Fiscal Bloodbath Coming Soon – David Stockman (USAW)
Marc Faber Warns Investors An ‘Avalanche’ Could Be Coming (CNBC)
What Does Steve Bannon Want? (NYT)
Where Did Steve Bannon Get His Worldview? From My Book.. (Howe)
Of Bread And Circuses (Admiral Ben Moreell, January 1, 1956)
Dijsselbloem Comes Out Fighting as Wilders Holds Dutch Poll Lead (BBG)
EU Lawmakers Call For ‘Federal Union’ Of European States (RT)
EU Lawmakers, In Unusual Move, Pull The Plug On Racist Talk (AP)
No Debt Relief For Greece, Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister Says (R.)
Germany Announces The Final Pillage Of Greece (RI)

 

 

Policies that achieve the opposite of what’s intended. Scaring people does that. Lower consumer spending = lower money velocity = Deflation.

The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Monetary Policy Isn’t Working (WSJ)

Keita Kameyama, a 30-year-old civil servant in Kagawa, a rural province, has been saving around 25% of his $40,000 salary each year to eventually marry his longtime girlfriend. He lives at home with his mother, drives an old Honda and rarely shops. The central bank’s stimulus measures had no effect on Mr. Kameyama’s spending. He still salts away his money in plain-vanilla bank accounts. He fears Japan’s long stagnation will wipe out his pension, and worries he won’t have enough money to care for his mother—a growing concern in a country with twice as many people over 60 than between 20 and 34. He sees bank accounts, which offer minuscule interest rates on deposits despite negative short-term rates, as the only way to save. Hyakujushi Bank, Ltd. the biggest in Kagawa, pays only 0.05% on deposits and has paid less than 1% since 1995.

“People in Kagawa love to save,” says Mr. Kameyama. “I have heard [the Bank of Japan] is trying very hard to get people to spend their money, but I don’t think I will be opening my wallet.” Many young Japanese economize because they simply don’t have enough money. More are working low-paying and temporary jobs with no benefits. “Companies aren’t growing, and they have aging workforces that they can’t fire,” says Takuji Okubo at the Japan Macro Advisors research group. “So there’s no room to hire young people.” Automobile, beer and cosmetics firms have slashed young-adult advertising and market to retirees instead, says Yohei Harada at Tokyo ad agency Hakuhodo. “The role of parents and children is getting reversed, where the parents from the bubble generation still act like children and want to buy the fancy car, while their children in the post-bubble generation worry about their parents’ spending,” he says.

Read more …

“There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

Giant Fiscal Bloodbath Coming Soon – David Stockman (USAW)

Former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman says financial pain is a mathematical certainty. Stockman explains, “I think we are likely to have more of a fiscal bloodbath rather than fiscal stimulus. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, not only did the public vote the establishment out, they left on his doorstep the inheritance of 30 years of debt build-up and a fiscal policy that’s been really reckless in the extreme. People would like to think he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan and we are going to have morning in America. Unfortunately, I don’t think it looks that promising because Trump is inheriting a mess that pales into insignificance what we had to deal with in January of 1981 when I joined the Reagan White House as Budget Director.”

So, can the Trump bump in the stock market keep going? Stockman, who wrote a book titled “Trumped” predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, “I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP. . . Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books.”

Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says, “I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

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“Very simply, the market starts to go down. As it goes down, it will start triggering selling, and then it will be like an avalanche..”

Marc Faber Warns Investors An ‘Avalanche’ Could Be Coming (CNBC)

The man often hailed as the original ‘Dr. Doom’ is warning investors that the U.S. stock market is vulnerable to a seismic sell-off—one that could start any time in a very unassuming way. Marc Faber, the editor of “The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” predicted the rally’s disruption won’t be caused by any single catalyst. His argument: Stocks are very overbought and sentiment is way too bullish for the so-called Trump rally to continue. “Very simply, the market starts to go down. As it goes down, it will start triggering selling, and then it will be like an avalanche,” said Faber recently on “Futures Now.” “I would underweight U.S. stocks.” Faber, a supporter of President Donald Trump, isn’t blaming the new administration for his bearish forecast. “One man alone, he cannot make ‘America great again.’ That you have to realize,” he said.

“Trump, unlike Mr. Reagan, is facing huge, huge headwinds — including a debt to GDP that is gigantic, as it is in other countries.” Faber lists interest rates going up, as well as earnings and margins at record levels, as additional risks to the historic rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average registered its eleventh record close in a row on Friday. And, if you take a look at just the S&P 500 in February, it’s on track to see the fewest declines in any month since May 1990. [..] There are areas overseas which are in much better shape than the United States, according to the notoriously bearish investor. “China looks quite attractive,” said Faber. “For the next three months, money can flow into China. The economy, surprisingly, has begun to do quite well. We see that in retail in Hong Kong. We see that in the hotel industry, and we see that in the demand for commodities.”

According to Faber, resource commodities such as copper and gold could also give investors solid profits this year. “When you look at Trump and his administration, and the way the budget is, I think further money printing down the line is inevitable,” he said — a policy which would could lift commodities even higher.

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Two Bannon articles today. Not because I’m a fan, as some people undoubtedly like to think. Just better to know something.

What Does Steve Bannon Want? (NYT)

[..] some of the roots of Mr. Bannon’s ideology, like the roots of Mr. Trump’s popularity, are to be found in the disappointed hopes of the global economy. But Mr. Bannon, unlike Mr. Trump, has a detailed idea, an explanation, of how American sovereignty was lost, and of what to do about it. It is the same idea that Tea Party activists have: A class of regulators in the government has robbed Americans of their democratic prerogatives. That class now constitutes an “administrative state” that operates to empower itself and enrich its crony-capitalist allies. When Mr. Bannon spoke on Thursday of “deconstructing the administrative state,” it may have sounded like gobbledygook outside the hall, but it was an electrifying profession of faith for the attendees. It is through Mr. Bannon that Trumpism can be converted from a set of nostalgic laments and complaints into a program for overhauling the government.

Mr. Bannon adds something personal and idiosyncratic to this Tea Party mix. He has a theory of historical cycles that can be considered elegantly simple or dangerously simplistic. It is a model laid out by William Strauss and Neil Howe in two books from the 1990s. Their argument assumes an 80- to 100-year cycle divided into roughly 20-year “highs,” “awakenings,” “unravelings” and “crises.” The American Revolution, the Civil War, the New Deal, World War II — Mr. Bannon has said for years that we’re due for another crisis about now. His documentary about the 2008 financial collapse, “Generation Zero,” released in 2010, uses the Strauss-Howe model to explain what happened, and concludes with Mr. Howe himself saying, “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”

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What’s striking is that both Bannon articles are mild. Even if they’re from NYT and WaPo.

Where Did Steve Bannon Get His Worldview? From My Book.. (Howe)

The headlines this month have been alarming. “Steve Bannon’s obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome” (Business Insider). “Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable” (the Huffington Post). “Steve Bannon Wants To Start World War III” (the Nation). A common thread in these media reports is that President Trump’s chief strategist is an avid reader and that the book that most inspires his worldview is “The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.” I wrote that book with William Strauss back in 1997. It is true that Bannon is enthralled by it. In 2010, he released a documentary, “Generation Zero,” that is structured around our theory that history in America (and by extension, most other modern societies) unfolds in a recurring cycle of four-generation-long eras.

While this cycle does include a time of civic and political crisis — a Fourth Turning, in our parlance — the reporting on the book has been absurdly apocalyptic. I don’t know Bannon well. I have worked with him on several film projects, including “Generation Zero,” over the years. I’ve been impressed by his cultural savvy. His politics, while unusual, never struck me as offensive. I was surprised when he took over the leadership of Breitbart and promoted the views espoused on that site. Like many people, I first learned about the alt-right (a far-right movement with links to Breitbart and a loosely defined white-nationalist agenda) from the mainstream media. Strauss, who died in 2007, and I never told Bannon what to say or think. But we did perhaps provide him with an insight — that populism, nationalism and state-run authoritarianism would soon be on the rise, not just in America but around the world. Because we never attempted to write a political manifesto, we were surprised by the book’s popularity among certain crusaders on both the left and the right.

[..] The cycle begins with the First Turning, a “High” which comes after a crisis era. In a High, institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, even if many feel stifled by the prevailing conformity. Many Americans alive today can recall the post-World War II American High (historian William O’Neill’s term), coinciding with the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy presidencies. Earlier examples are the post-Civil War Victorian High of industrial growth and stable families, and the post-Constitution High of Democratic Republicanism and Era of Good Feelings.

The Second Turning is an “Awakening,” when institutions are attacked in the name of higher principles and deeper values. Just when society is hitting its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of all the social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Salvation by faith, not works, is the youth rallying cry. One such era was the Consciousness Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s. Some historians call this America’s Fourth or Fifth Great Awakening, depending on whether they start the count in the 17th century with John Winthrop or the 18th century with Jonathan Edwards.

The Third Turning is an “Unraveling,” in many ways the opposite of the High. Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Third Turning decades such as the 1990s, the 1920s and the 1850s are notorious for their cynicism, bad manners and weak civic authority. Government typically shrinks, and speculative manias, when they occur, are delirious.

Finally, the Fourth Turning is a “Crisis” period. This is when our institutional life is reconstructed from the ground up, always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s very survival. If history does not produce such an urgent threat, Fourth Turning leaders will invariably find one — and may even fabricate one — to mobilize collective action. Civic authority revives, and people and groups begin to pitch in as participants in a larger community. As these Promethean bursts of civic effort reach their resolution, Fourth Turnings refresh and redefine our national identity. The years 1945, 1865 and 1794 all capped eras constituting new “founding moments” in American history.

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Admiral Ben Moreell (1892 – 1978) was the chief of the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks and of the Civil Engineer Corps. Best known to the American public as the Father of the Navy’s Seabees, Moreell’s life spanned eight decades, two world wars, a great depression and the evolution of the United States as a superpower. He was a distinguished Naval Officer, a brilliant engineer, an industrial giant and articulate national spokesman.

Of Bread And Circuses (Admiral Ben Moreell, January 1, 1956)

A twentieth-century repetition of the mistakes of ancient Rome would be inexcusable.Rome was eight and a half centuries old when the poet, Juvenal, penned his famous tirade against his degenerate countrymen. About 100 A.D. he wrote: “Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things, bread and circuses.” (Carcopino, Daily Life in Roman Times [New Haven, Yale University Press, 1940], p. 202.) Forty years later, the Roman historian, Fronto, echoed the charge in more prosaic language: “The Roman people is absorbed by two things above all others, its food supplies and its shows.” (Ibid.)

Here was a once-proud people, whose government had been their servant, who had finally succumbed to the blandishments of clever political adventurers. They had gradually relinquished their sovereignty to government administrators to whom they had granted absolute powers, in return for food and entertainment. And the surprising thing about this insidious progression is that, at the time, few realized that they were witnessing the slow destruction of a people by a corruption that would eventually transmute a nation of self-reliant, courageous, sovereign individuals into a mob, dependent upon their government for the means of sustaining life.

There are no precise records that describe the feelings of those for whom the poet, Juvenal, felt such scorn. But using the clues we have, and judging by our own experience, we can make a good guess as to what the prevailing sentiments of the Roman populace were. If we were able to take a poll of public opinion of first and second century Rome, the overwhelming response would probably have been—“We never had it so good.” Those who lived on “public assistance” and in subsidized rent-free or low-rent dwellings would certainly have assured us that now, at last, they had “security.”

Those in the rapidly expanding bureaucracy—one of the most efficient civil services the world has ever seen—would have told us that now government had a “conscience” and was using its vast resources to guarantee the “welfare” of all of its citizens; that the civil service gave them job security and retirement benefits; and that the best job was a government job! Progressive members of the business community would have said that business had never been so good, that the government was their largest customer, which assured them a dependable market, and that the government was inflating currency at about 2 per cent a year, which instilled confidence and gave everyone a sense of well-being and prosperity.

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These ‘people’ are actually proud of themselves. An opposition politician in Holland seriously suggested to let Dijjsselbloem stay on as FinMin and Eurogroup head even if he loses the March 15 election, ‘because he’s such a success’. His party stands to lose 2/3 of its votes…

Dijsselbloem Comes Out Fighting as Wilders Holds Dutch Poll Lead (BBG)

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said his Labor Party is fighting for every seat as populist Geert Wilders maintained a poll lead less than three weeks before general elections. Dijsselbloem, who has served as finance minister in a coalition government with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal Party since 2012, is campaigning for his political future in the March 15 elections. Dijsselbloem also leads the group of euro-area finance ministers, and a poor showing that cost Labor its coalition slot could put his post in doubt. “I am optimistic, we have had highs and lows, we will just need to keep on fighting,” Dijsselbloem, who is third on the Labor Party’s list of candidates, said at an event in Amsterdam on Sunday. “At home and relaxed, I get somber, but as long as I remain busy I get the feeling we are getting an extra seat.”

Wilders’s anti-Islam Freedom Party would place first with 29 out of the 150 seats in parliament compared to 25 seats for Rutte’s Liberal Party, according to a poll published by Peil.nl on Sunday. While that’s the same four-seat lead as last week’s Peil.nl survey, an Ipsos poll published Friday showed the Liberals overtaking the Freedom Party, with 28 seats to 26 seats. The Labor Party under Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher’s leadership would take 12 seats in Sunday’s poll. Labor, which currently holds 38 seats, lost support after it formed a coalition with the Liberals. Though the parties differ in their ideology, they managed to agree on a broad range of reform measures.

Starting in the middle of the economic crisis, the coalition passed a €22 billion austerity package that included cost cuts in elderly care and healthcare, an increase in the pension age and a reform of the housing market. Rutte’s second cabinet will be the first government to complete a full term since Prime Minister Wim Kok’s first ended in 1998. “It has been a journey through the desert, but we are now the most competitive economy of Europe and also one of the fastest growing, with the largest drop in unemployment in 10 years,” Rutte said in an interview in Het Financieele Dagblad on Saturday. “So that’s quite an achievement.”

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Please let them try to do more things that people don’t want.

EU Lawmakers Call For ‘Federal Union’ Of European States (RT)

The leaders of the lower chambers of parliament of Germany, Italy, France, and Luxembourg have called for a European “Federal Union” in an open letter published in Italian newspaper La Stampa on Sunday. In the letter, four representatives of EU governments – Claude Bartolone of the French National Assembly, Laura Boldrini of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Norbert Lammert of the German Bundestag, and Mars Di Bartolomeo of the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies – say that closer cooperation is essential for dealing with problems that no one EU state can tackle on its own, such as immigration, terrorism, and climate change. “Now is the moment to move towards closer political integration — the Federal Union of States with broad powers. We know that the prospect stirs up strong resistance, but the inaction of some cannot be the paralysis of all. Those who believe in European ideals, should be able to give them a new life instead of helplessly observing its slow sunset,” the letter read.

The letter’s authors also warn that the European integration project is currently more at risk than ever before, with high unemployment and immigration problems driving populist and nationalist movements. The EU must also come to grips with the fact that, last June, the United Kingdom decided to leave the union after holding a national referendum, aka Brexit, becoming the first member nation to opt out of the bloc. On Sunday, a number of EU states, including Germany, France and Italy, called for the UK to pay a hefty price as a “divorce settlement.” The letter was published in the run-up to a meeting of parliamentary leaders in Rome on March 17 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC). The treaty’s signing by six countries– Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, West Germany and the Netherlands – in 1957 eventually paved the way for the Maastricht Treaty and the European Union in 1991.

In September of 2015, Lammert, Bartolone, Boldrini and di Bartolomeo also signed a declaration calling for deeper and faster European integration. However, greater European integration is being increasingly challenged by a number of Eurosceptic parties around the continent, including the Alternative for Germany, the National Front in France, and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. Upcoming elections could bring these parties closer to power. According to the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, the EU must reform, or it risks disappearing under a barrage of internal and external attacks. Late last year Noam Chomsky also warned that the surge in right-wing and anti-establishment sentiment stemming from Europe’s failed neo-liberal policies is likely to lead to the EU’s collapse, adding that “it would be a tragic development” if the bloc fell apart.

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Silent censorship. What’s not to like?

EU Lawmakers, In Unusual Move, Pull The Plug On Racist Talk (AP)

At the European Parliament, where elections are due in 2019, many say the need for action against hate speech, and strong sanctions for offenders, is long overdue. The assembly— with its two seats; one in the Belgian capital of Brussels, and the other in Strasbourg in northeast France – is often the stage for political and sometimes nationalist theater. Beyond routine shouting matches, members occasionally wear T-shirts splashed with slogans or unfurl banners. Flags adorn some lawmakers’ desks. Yet more and more in recent years, lawmakers have gone too far. “There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,” said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who chaperoned the new rule through the assembly.

“What if this became not isolated incidents, but specific, where people could say: ‘Hey, this is a fantastic platform. It’s broad, it’s live-streamed. It can be recorded and repeated. Let’s use it for something more vociferous, more spectacular,'” he told The Associated Press. In a nutshell, rule 165 of the parliament’s rules of procedure allows the chair of debates to halt the live broadcast “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a member.” The maximum fine for offenders would be around 9,000 euros ($9,500). Under the rule, not made public by the assembly but first reported by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, offending material could be “deleted from the audiovisual record of proceedings,” meaning citizens would never know it happened unless reporters were in the room. Weingaertner said the IPA was never consulted on that.

A technical note seen by the AP outlines a procedure for manually cutting off the video feed, stopping transmission on in-house TV monitors and breaking the satellite link to halt broadcast to the outside world. A videotape in four languages would be kept running to serve as a legal record during the blackout. A more effective and permanent system was being sought. It is also technically possible to introduce a safe-guard time delay so broadcasts appear a few seconds later. This means they could be interrupted before offending material is aired. But the system is unwieldy. Lawmakers have the right to speak in any of the European Union’s 24 official languages. An offending act could well be over before the assembly’s President Antonio Tajani even has a chance to hit the kill switch. Misunderstandings and even abuses could crop up.

During a debate in December, Gerolf Annemans, from Belgium’s Flemish independence party Vlaams Belang, expressed concern that the rule “can be abused by those who have hysterical reactions to things that they qualify as racist, xenophobic, when people are just expressing politically incorrect views.”

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What a decade of fake news can achieve.

No Debt Relief For Greece, Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister Says (R.)

Greece must not be granted a “bail in” that would involve creditors taking a loss on their loans, Germany’s deputy finance minister said in an interview broadcast on Sunday, reiterating the German government’s opposition to debt relief for Athens. “There must not be a bail-in,” Jens Spahn told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, according to a written transcript of the interview. “We think it is very, very likely that we will come to an agreement with the IMF that does not require a haircut,” he said, referring to losses that Greece’s creditors would have to take if debt was written off. The IMF has called for Greece to be granted substantial debt relief, but this is opposed by Germany, which makes the largest contribution to the budget of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone’s bailout fund.

Greece and its creditors agreed on Monday to further reforms by Athens to ease a logjam in talks with creditors that has held up additional funding for the troubled euro zone country. Inspectors from the European Commission, the ESM, the IMF and the European Central Bank are due to return to Athens this week. Spahn, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, said Greece’s problem was a lack of growth rather than debt and giving Athens debt relief would upset other euro zone countries such as Spain that had to deliver tough reforms. “Our Spanish friends, for example, say: ‘Hang on – that wouldn’t be fair: we carry out reforms and get no haircut and now you’re talking about giving Greece one?!'” Spahn said Germany was campaigning hard to keep the IMF on board in Greece’s bailout because of its expertise in helping countries that need to deliver reforms in return for aid.

Manfred Weber, who leads the conservative bloc in the European Parliament, said this month that if the IMF insisted on debt relief for Greece, it should no longer participate in the bailout, breaking ranks with Berlin’s official line that the program would end if the IMF pulled out.

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Much more in the article. On how all public assets are forcibly sold at firesale prices etc.

Germany Announces The Final Pillage Of Greece (RI)

It’s official: The Germans will not allow debt relief for Greece. Instead, Berlin wants to send in the repo man. The untold story of the Greek “bailouts” is that it wasn’t a “bailout” — it was an auction of Greek assets. Real, tangible things with real, tangible value were seized in exchange for pieces of paper that guarantee Athens will be chained to Berlin and Brussels for the foreseeable future. It’s your basic extortion racket. As one rather gloomy (but intriguing) analysis puts it:

The debt problem continues to erode the European Union from within – it is already impossible to hide, and Greek tragedy, for example, is growing. Against this background, Germany seems to have a consensus about how to get rid of Greece with its debts and inefficient economy. The scheme of this careless schoolboy by the ear from the class, it seems, differs only in details: either to expel or allow suffering – to provoke the Maidan in Athens, and then to expel in any case.

Bavaria’s 50-year-old finance minister and CSU politician Markus Soeder became the declarant of this ‘plan B’, who stated about the necessity of ‘a plan B’. “New billions should only flow when Athens implemented all the reforms. Even then, however, aid should only be given against a pledge “in the form of cash, gold or real estate”,” Soeder stated.

In his own way, he’s right – all conditions have been created for Maidan in Athens. Previously, the EU and the ECB assessed all the Greece’s public property at 50 billion euro that does not even cover the necessary new loans on debt payments of this country (80-90 billion euro). Therefore, the collateral should be gathered from private funds through the expropriation of gold and real estate. Implementation of reforms will lead to the final death of the Greek small and medium businesses after bringing the taxation to “European standards”, and namely such steps of the Ukrainian government have led to the Maidan in Kiev in 2013 with the collapse of the ruling regime in February 2014.

A bit too melodramatic? We forgot — we are supposed to use the friendly neoliberal term for this policy of national enslavement and communal suicide: “voluntary privatization.” Yes, we know. The poor, altruist Germans had to save irresponsible Greece. They did a fine job of it too.

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