Dec 182020
 


Egon Schiele Meadow, Church and Houses 1912

 

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines (G.)
“Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?”: Health Workers Balk At Vaccine (ZH)
How Virtual Learning Has Traumatized Their Children (DC)
WHO -Finally- Admits PCR Tests Create False Positives (OffG)
Joe Biden Calls His Son Hunter ‘The Smartest Man I Know’ (DC)
They Won’t Take “No” For An Answer (Ward)
Georgia Announces Signature Matching Review For Election Ballots (JTN)
Where Bill Barr Failed the President (ET)
Trump Takes Bipartisan Criticism For Silence On Massive Cyber Attack (F.)
Google Secretly Gave Facebook Perks, Data In Ad Deal: US States (R.)
Pentagon Training Equates Whistleblower Chelsea Manning With Terrorists (IC)
Q3 Share Buybacks Plunged 42% YoY, Big Banks Are Gone (WS)
Facebook To Require Masks In All Profile Pictures (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Awfully close to thought police. “Spreading lies about vaccines” here means “questioning vaccines”.

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines (G.)

Twitter will remove tweets that spread harmful misinformation, starting with the Covid-19 vaccine, the company has announced – and from 2021 it will begin to label tweets that push conspiracy theories. The move sees the company follow Facebook and YouTube in tightening up policies around the coronavirus vaccination as the rollout of the jab begins across the world. “Starting next week, we will prioritise the removal of the most harmful misleading information,” the US company said in a blogpost. “And during the coming weeks, we will begin to label tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines.”

Examples of posts that may be removed include false claims “that suggest immunisations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations”, and claims “that Covid-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary”. Tweets that do not reach the level of potential harm will not be removed, but may receive a label linking through to authoritative public health information, the company said. Examples of that sort of claim include unsubstantiated rumours, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines. The labelling will have a similar visual appearance to the company’s notorious labels about the US election, regularly placed on tweets from Donald Trump in which he falsely claimed victory in the US election.

Twitter said it would enforce the policy “using a combination of technology and human review”. Confusingly, the company has no way for users to report Covid misinformation, or misinformation about vaccines, despite the content being banned on the site. Instead, Twitter says users who think a particular tweet breaks the company’s rules on the topic should report it for any other offence – such as “threatening harm” – and use the text box to add that it is banned misinformation. The move comes two weeks after Facebook tightened its own policy about Covid vaccines. The larger social network will remove claims that rise to the level of imminent physical harm, as well as claims that have been debunked by public health experts, even if they do not reach that level. Chinese network TikTok has also strengthened its policies on vaccine misinformation, announcing on Tuesday that it has policies in place that prohibit misinformation “that could cause harm to an individual’s health or broader public safety”.

Tucker Don’t question the Coronavirus vaccine.

Read more …

“until I see that it’s actually safe for myself or my kids to take, I’m not going to take it.”

“Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?”: Health Workers Balk At Vaccine (ZH)

As tens of thousands of doses of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine make their way across the country, some health workers – first on the list to receive the two-stage jab – are leery of the emerging treatment which mainstream pundits warned would take a ‘miracle’ to produce before the end of the year. And while public concerns over the vaccine have eased compared to polling conducted before the November election, a not-insignificant number of health workers are unwilling to take the shot. Perhaps they’re concerned about taking the fastest vaccine developed in Western history, developed to treat a mysterious new virus which primarily kills the elderly (though can have lasting effects on people of all ages save for children).

As Bloomberg notes, the initial vaccines have few serious side effects (aside from a handful of serious allergic reactions), though nobody knows what long-term effects it has, if any. For example, nobody can possibly know what it does to a gestating fetus for nine months, or whether it affects fertility – yet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women take the vaccine. “At one Chicago hospital where the city’s first COVID-19 vaccine was administered on Tuesday, 40% of the staff said in a survey earlier this month that they would not take it. Sherrie Burch, 56, a ward clerk at Loretto, is baffled by how quickly the Covid-19 vaccine was developed, given how long medical developments typically take. And that makes her nervous.

“It just happened too fast for me,” Burch said, adding that her children, grandchildren and 76-year-old mother aren’t planning to get it either. “It’s the fear of the unknown.” Burch wants more details about the vaccine’s research and longer-term side effects. She plans to wait at least a couple of months to see how co-workers respond to the shot. Until then, she’ll keep masking, distancing and hand washing. Some nurses, respiratory therapists and technicians at Loretto also are opting out, said Nikhila Juvvadi, the hospital’s chief clinical officer who was the first person to administer the vaccine in Chicago. At a staff town-hall meeting on Wednesday, she explained the science of how the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine works.” -Bloomberg

In Maine, 40% of staff and 30% of residents at the state’s larger nursing homes won’t take the jab, according to an “informal discussion” conducted by the Maine Health Care Association. “Without official polling, it’s hard to know how accurate a picture this paints, and we fully expect these percentages to increase with greater education and awareness,” said the organization’s director of communications, Nadine Grosso. “Ultimately, we know that vaccination is key to safely reopening our long term care facilities.” And if these are all the people who will admit to refusing the vaccine, how many lied and said they will?

Still, some remain unpersuaded. Jonathan Damato, 41, a New York City paramedic for 21 years, is not an anti-vaxxer. He gets an annual flu shot, and he trusts the life-saving potential of vaccines against measles, mumps, polio. His station does about 50 or 60 Covid ambulance runs a week — people presenting high fevers and shortness of breath. “I know the virus is real,” said Damato, who has a 4-year-old son with health issues. But “until I see that it’s actually safe for myself or my kids to take, I’m not going to take it.” -Bloomberg In short, nobody wants to be a guinea pig.

Tucker Don’t question the Coronavirus vaccine. Part 2

Read more …

More reports coming out on this theme. Good. Don’t know that missed education is the big thing here, though. Missed social life might be bigger.

How Virtual Learning Has Traumatized Their Children (DC)

Data accumulated globally has shown that infections did not surge when schools reopened, and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said as much in late November when he called on schools to reopen. While many private schools have reopened completely or partially, some of the nation’s largest school districts are still closed. In Washington, D.C., the city’s teachers union rejected an agreement with the public school system to reopen campuses in November. In Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Topeka, San Diego and multiple other cities, districts put off their plans to reopen in mid-November and gave no set date for reopening.

Eileen, a Latin teacher at a Christian Classical school in Maryland, has been able to teach in her regular classroom since Sept. 3, when her school reopened with health and sanitation protocols implemented to prevent COVID-19 spread. Eileen’s 15-year-old daughter, who is a sophomore at a public school, has been learning virtually for 14 weeks. She goes to school with her mother once a week just to “be part of normal life,” Eileen tells the Caller. In an essay Eileen’s daughter wrote about her virtual learning experience, she describes the despondency and defeat students and teachers feel. In some classes, students mute their audio feature to hide the fact that they’re playing video games instead of paying attention.

Teachers have difficulty holding students accountable, making flouting the rules easier. Eileen’s daughter, an aspiring writer and accomplished student, also faces her own waning motivation. “Every minute I sit at my desk I am being erased. It started with one of my dimensions. Then my voice was replaced by the chat, my face with a logo, and my life with progress checks,” Eileen’s daughter writes. “Virtual school is not real school. They are not giving us an education. They are teaching us how to not get caught using google translate. They are teaching us which websites will do your algebra homework for you. And if the Board of Education doesn’t take my education seriously, then why should I?”

Read more …

“We have a vaccine now. We don’t need false positives anymore. Notionally, the system has produced its miracle cure.”

“all the PCR tests being done will be done “under the new WHO guidelines”, and running only 25-30 cycles instead of 35+. Lo and behold, the number of “positive cases” will plummet..”

WHO -Finally- Admits PCR Tests Create False Positives (OffG)

The World Health Organization released a guidance memo on December 14th, warning that high cycle thresholds on PCR tests will result in false positives. While this information is accurate, it has also been available for months, so we must ask: why are they reporting it now? Is it to make it appear the vaccine works? The “gold standard” Sars-Cov-2 tests are based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR works by taking nucleotides – tiny fragments of DNA or RNA – and replicating them until they become something large enough to identify. The replication is done in cycles, with each cycle doubling the amount of genetic material. The number of cycles it takes to produce something identifiable is known as the “cycle threshold” or “CT value”. The higher the CT value, the less likely you are to be detecting anything significant.

This new WHO memo states that using a high CT value to test for the presence of Sars-Cov-2 will result in false-positive results. To quote their own words [our emphasis]: “Users of RT-PCR reagents should read the IFU carefully to determine if manual adjustment of the PCR positivity threshold is necessary to account for any background noise which may lead to a specimen with a high cycle threshold (Ct) value result being interpreted as a positive result.” They go on to explain [again, our emphasis]: “The design principle of RT-PCR means that for patients with high levels of circulating virus (viral load), relatively few cycles will be needed to detect virus and so the Ct value will be low. Conversely, when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain.”

Of course, none of this is news to anyone who has been paying attention. That PCR tests were easily manipulated and potentially highly inaccurate has been one of the oft-repeated battle cries of those of us opposing the “pandemic” narrative, and the policies it’s being used to sell. Many articles have been written about it, by many experts in the field, medical journalists and other researchers. It’s been commonly available knowledge, for months now, that any test using a CT value over 35 is potentially meaningless. Dr Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the PCR process, was clear that it wasn’t meant as a diagnostic tool, saying: “..with PCR, if you do it well, you can find almost anything in anybody.” And, commenting on cycle thresholds, once said: “If you have to go more than 40 cycles to amplify a single-copy gene, there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.”

The MIQE guidelines for PCR use state: Cq values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” This has all been public knowledge since the beginning of the lockdown. The Australian government’s own website admitted the tests were flawed, and a court in Portugal ruled they were not fit for purpose. Even Dr Anthony Fauci has publicly admitted that a cycle threshold over 35 is going to be detecting “dead nucleotides”, not a living virus. Despite all this, it is known that many labs around the world have been using PCR tests with CT values over 35, even into the low 40s. So why has the WHO finally decided to say this is wrong? What reason could they have for finally choosing to recognise this simple reality?

The answer to that is potentially shockingly cynical: We have a vaccine now. We don’t need false positives anymore. Notionally, the system has produced its miracle cure. So, after everyone has been vaccinated, all the PCR tests being done will be done “under the new WHO guidelines”, and running only 25-30 cycles instead of 35+. Lo and behold, the number of “positive cases” will plummet, and we’ll have confirmation that our miracle vaccine works.

Read more …

“Joe Biden defends his son — who is under federal investigation, was kicked out of the Navy for cocaine, and was sued by a stripper for paternity — as “the smartest man I know.”

“It’s used to get to me. I think it’s kind of foul play, but, look, it is what it is. And he’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in a pure intellectual capacity.”

And boy, whatever happened to Stephen Colbert?

Joe Biden Calls His Son Hunter ‘The Smartest Man I Know’ (DC)

President-elect Joe Biden says he is “not concerned” about a federal investigation into his son, Hunter, and accused his opponents of weaponizing the probe for political points. Biden said that Hunter, who has been involved in a string of high-profile personal and business controversies in recent years, as “the smartest man I know.” Hunter Biden announced last Wednesday that he is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware over his “tax affairs.” A source familiar with the investigation told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the investigation began in 2018, before Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign.


The Associated Press reported that prosecutors subpoenaed Biden for his records with more than two dozen businesses, including companies in China and Ukraine. (RELATED: Joe Biden Says He Is ‘Confident’ His Son Did Nothing Wrong) Biden, who was interviewed by CBS’s Stephen Colbert, accused his political opponents of “foul play” by seizing on the investigation. “We have great confidence in our son. I am not concerned about any accusations made against him. It’s used to get to me,” Biden said in the interview, which he conducted with his wife Jill Biden at his side. “I think it’s kind of foul play,” said Biden, adding, “look, it is what it is.” “He’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in a pure intellectual capacity. And as long as he’s good, we’re good.”

Read more …

“The US Shadow State and its creatures are of the Soviet school of information: top-down tell, and censor the ‘show’ part.”

They Won’t Take “No” For An Answer (Ward)

There are many issues facing us today both personally and globally. But they all boil down to one thing: those who have captured power through either electoral desperation or corporacratic subterfuge simply will not take no for an answer. We must look beyond the issue to the principle, and learn to say no in a forcefully peaceful and organised manner. It does seem eternally odd, does it not, that the US judicial system seems happy to throw out Republican affidavits giving evidence of electoral fraud, but at the same time the US has a media set that suffixes every report on what President Trump says about it with “although he has no evidence to support his claims”….and the world anglosphere falls lamely into line.

It is truly Pythonic, with just a dash of Catch22: “We’re not going to review these affidavits because they’re worthless,” said the Ostriches, “so will you stop saying you were cheated, because you haven’t got any evidence – we know this, because we don’t need to look at it”. My view is simple: it is entirely possible that Trump is lying his fat head off. But the common sense rejoinder to that pov is: 1) Why press ahead so vigorously with a case if (privately) you know it to be BS? And 2) If you the State know it to be BS, why not investigate every affidavit thoroughly and enumerate their lack of worth instance by instance? In short, we have a plaintiff behaving like a guy who’s done his homework, and the State dismissing everything out of hand for fear of finding magic bullets flying backwards, and Presidential Heads exploding in the wrong direction.

Show not tell: it’s an old adage, but still universally applicable. The ‘Tell’ approach: “Laugh at me because believe me, I’m funny….boy, am I funny”. The ‘Show’ approach: Tell a very funny joke with timing and élan. The US Shadow State and its creatures are of the Soviet school of information: top-down tell, and censor the ‘show’ part. When it doesn’t convince, smear the doubters as ill-educated, delusional and deviant.

Read more …

“After the third and final recount, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2%.”

Georgia Announces Signature Matching Review For Election Ballots (JTN)

After three recounts, Georgia certified the 2020 presidential election. But on Thursday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a statewide move to match signatures to their absentee ballots in all 159 counties in the state. The announcement comes just weeks before two Georgia Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the Senate. Raffensperger announced that the signature matching will be done in partnership with the University of Georgia. The study will review a random sample of signatures for mail-in ballots that were cast in the presidential election. “We are confident that elections in Georgia are secure, reliable and effective,” Raffensperger said.


“Despite endless lawsuits and wild allegations from Washington, D.C., pundits, we have seen no actual evidence of widespread voter fraud, though we are investigating all credible reports. Nonetheless, we look forward to working with the University of Georgia on this signature match review to further instill confidence in Georgia’s voting systems,” he also said. Earlier this week, Georgia officials announced an audit of signatures for mail-in ballots in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta. The Trump campaign claimed that Cobb County did not properly conduct signature match in June,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state. “After the countywide audit, we will look at the entire state. We will look at the entire election to make sure signature match was executed properly.” After the third and final recount, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2%.

Read more …

The Durham probe comes to mind. Where is it?

Where Bill Barr Failed the President (ET)

Barr’s most significant achievement during his tenure was perhaps his role in the final stages of the Mueller investigation, leading to his joint conclusion with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein that evidence compiled by Robert Mueller failed to establish that the president had obstructed justice. But a series of curious missteps then followed. The investigation being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Huber disappeared entirely, although a portion of that investigation may have been folded into U.S. Attorney John Durham’s still ongoing investigation. Durham was appointed as special counsel by Barr, but reports indicate that Durham’s investigative scope has been narrowed, and the investigation’s long-promised results remain delayed.

Trump found himself impeached by the House in December 2019, despite evidence within the DOJ that might have prevented the politically driven result. Indeed, it now appears that Trump may have been impeached for making inquiries into the very crimes for which Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, is now formally under investigation. Said differently, Trump may have effectively been impeached for being right about Biden. To date, only one person has been formally charged from the multi-year probe into the FBI’s handling of their investigation of the Trump campaign. Although two FISA warrants on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were deemed as invalid—and thus illegal—there have been no prosecutions or convictions of high-level individuals involved in the surveillance conducted on members of the Trump campaign.

Barr remained concerned, perhaps rightly, about exhibiting any overt signs of interference in the 2020 presidential election. Unfortunately, while he studiously avoided disclosing any evidence regarding the Hunter Biden investigation, so did the mainstream media. The impact of the general public’s lack of knowledge on this matter may have been material to the election outcome. Barr also made what might generously be termed a material strategic error by speaking with The Associated Press in the weeks following the election. Barr’s comments that the DOJ had yet to uncover fraud on a level sufficient to affect the outcome of the election reverberated throughout the nation and caused material damage to the case being made by the president’s lawyers. Why Barr would choose to speak to the media, let alone the AP, at this critical juncture in post-election events remains unknown.

Barr, no political novice, has more than enough political acumen to comprehend the manner in which his comments would be interpreted and relayed to a nation in post-election turmoil. That he apparently held the belief there was no material evidence of election fraud strikes many who have been wading through court evidence for weeks as curious. Durham’s efforts may yet produce tangible results, but nearly four years of investigation has surely been long enough to bring forth something material. With each passing month, the lack of tangible results has allowed for unspoken discrediting of the president’s claims. And with the possibility of a politically motivated Biden administration, concerns over potential interference in Durham’s results—special counsel status notwithstanding—are valid.

Read more …

In case you didn’t notice: the neocons won. So Russiagate is alive and kicking.

Trump Takes Bipartisan Criticism For Silence On Massive Cyber Attack (F.)

President Donald Trump is taking heat from members of Congress in both parties in recent days for his continued silence on a massive cybersecurity breach linked to Russia, even as the president’s own officials say the U.S. is highly vulnerable to further attacks. Through a weakness in software from SolarWinds Orion, an IT firm that services numerous U.S. government agencies, hackers – that U.S. officials say are tied to Russia – were reportedly able to infiltrate the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the National Institutes of Health and various other departments. Democrats have been vocal about the breach and critical of the president’s actions, with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noting the president fired Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) head Chris Krebs for debunking his election fraud conspiracy theories just one month before the attack occurred.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) called Trump’s silence “unacceptable,” adding, “For 4 years, Congress has been urging him to take Russian threats seriously,” while Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) suggested the silence is because Trump has “cozied up to” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of Trump’s most prolific Republican detractors, compared the breach to “Russian bombers… repeatedly flying over our entire country,” and slammed the “inexcusable silence and inaction from the White House.” Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) was critical of Trump’s silence as well, alleging a “leadership vacuum” in the administration and telling Forbes that Trump’s reticence to weigh in is because doing so “could highlight his firings” of cybersecurity, defense and intelligence officials in recent weeks.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and outgoing Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) both took aim at Trump for his threat to veto a defense bill that includes cyber protections and would create a National Cyber Security Director, with Hurd adding, “We need to find the inaugural director ASAP because he/she is going to have a full plate on day one.” “No statement, no tweet, nothing from [Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)] on Russia hack of Federal agencies,” tweeted Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell (D-Fla.), echoing Democrats who have alleged not just Trump, but many Republicans in Congress have shied away from weighing in on the hack. “As Chair of Senate Intelligence his silence=complicity,” she added. “CISA has determined that this threat poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

Read more …

Is this even illegal?

Google Secretly Gave Facebook Perks, Data In Ad Deal: US States (R.)

Facebook Inc and Alphabet’s Google, the two biggest players in online advertising, used a series of deals to consolidate their market power illegally, Texas and nine other states alleged in a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday. Google and Facebook compete heavily in internet ad sales, together capturing over half of the market globally. The two players agreed in a publicized deal in 2018 to start giving Facebook’s advertiser clients the option to place ads within Google’s network of publishing partners, the complaint alleged. Executives at the highest level of the companies signed off on the deal, according to the complaint. For example, a sneaker blog that uses software from Google to sell ads could end up generating revenue from a footwear retailer that bought ads on Facebook.

Google reached similar partnerships with other advertising companies as part of an effort to maintain market share that was internally codenamed Project Jedi, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. But what Google did not announce publicly is that it gave Facebook preferential treatment, the complaint alleged. Facebook agreed to back down from supporting competing software, which publishers had developed to dent Google’s market power, the complaint said. “Facebook decided to dangle the threat of competition in Google’s face and then cut a deal to manipulate the auction,” it said, citing internal communications. In exchange, the states said, Facebook received various benefits, including access to Google data and policy exceptions that enabled its clients to unfairly get more ads placed than clients of other Google partners could.

[..] The complaint also alleged that Google and Facebook engaged in fixing prices of ads and have continued to cooperate, though the section was heavily redacted and left it unclear just how and when the companies allegedly used their “market allocation agreement.” However, it said that “given the scope and extensive nature of cooperation between the two companies, Google and Facebook were highly aware that their agreement could trigger antitrust violations. The two companies discussed, negotiated, and memorialized how they would cooperate with one another.”

Read more …

The Pentagon needs enemies.

Pentagon Training Equates Whistleblower Chelsea Manning With Terrorists (IC)

In the decade since her historic transfer of secret military and diplomatic materials to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning has consistently and across party lines been condemned as a traitor. Less common, and absent entirely from the government’s efforts to imprison her, are allegations that her leak was an act of terrorism. But anti-terrorism training materials obtained by The Intercept show that the Pentagon is teaching defense workers exactly that. Both civilian contractors and enlisted personnel are commonly required to complete JS-US007, a Pentagon course designed to “increase your awareness of terrorism and to improve your ability to apply personal protective measures,” according to Joint Knowledge Online, a Department of Defense education portal. JS-US007 covers a variety of grimly serious topics, from detecting roadside bombs to surviving active shooter scenarios and skyjackings.

The training also covers so-called insider threat attacks, acts of terroristic violence in which members of a group strike the group itself, like the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 individuals on the base, wounding 30 more. The Department of Homeland Security defines insider threat terrorism as “an unlawful use of force and violence by employees or others closely associated with organizations, against those organizations to promote a political or social objective.” Other definitions may differ on technicalities, but like other acts of terrorism, the unifying theme is the violence of the acts.

But unclassified JS-US007 materials obtained by The Intercept show that the Pentagon’s anti-terrorism trainees are learning a far broader definition of terrorism, one that includes the entirely nonviolent acts of Manning. On a slide listing “Examples of attacks by individuals thought to be loyal to the US,” Manning’s “2010 leaking of over 500,000 documents concerning operations in Iraq and Afghanistan” is listed first, followed by three examples of murder: the “2009 active shooter attack at Fort Hood,” the “2003 active shooter attack at Camp Pennsylvania,” and the “2001 anthrax attacks against Government facilities” that closely followed the attacks of September 11. Another slide in the presentation lists Manning’s alleged “anti-American statements” as a “pre-attack indicator.”

Read more …

“..down 54% from peak share-buyback mania in Q4 2018..”

Q3 Share Buybacks Plunged 42% YoY, Big Banks Are Gone (WS)

The big four banks are out. And other companies are out. But Big Tech is in, as big as ever, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, after pooh-poohing share buybacks for years, is now the second largest share buyback queen. In the third quarter 2020, companies in the S&P 500 Index bought back $101.8 billion of their own shares, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices this morning. While this still sounds like a lot of share buybacks, it’s down 42% from Q3 last year, and down 54% from peak share-buyback mania in Q4 2018 following the corporate tax cuts:

Since the beginning of 2012, the S&P 500 companies have bought back nearly $5 trillion of their own shares. How much is $5 trillion? It’s nearly one-quarter of US 12-month GDP in current dollars. It’s about equal to the amount by which the US government debt has exploded over the past 12 months. These $5 trillion could have been invested in expansion projects in the US, and in labor, and in training, or God forbid, in reducing the debt that Corporate America has loaded up on in a historic manner.

[..] Corporate debt levels have been showing up in the Fed’s Financial Stability Reports. The corporate “debt overhang,” as the Fed calls it, frazzled Fed researchers in 2019 and it is now again cropping up in Fed research papers, including by the New York Fed a few days ago. “We find that the economic costs of corporate debt booms rise when inefficient debt restructuring and liquidation impede the resolution of corporate financial distress and make it more likely that corporate zombies creep along,” summarize the researchers at the New York Fed. It was another research paper duly ignored by Fed Chair Powell.


Last year, the four big banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup – occupied the #2, #3, #4, and #7 spots on the Top 20 list of our share buyback queens. Now they’re gone from the list, having been told by regulators to stop share buybacks to preserve capital to absorb the coming losses from the Crisis. Big Tech and, ironically, Warren Buffett dominate the list. Apple retains its top spot with $17.6 billion in share buybacks in Q3, bringing the 12-month total to $76 billion.

Read more …

I don’t normally include 4-month old articles in Debt Rattles, but this could just as well be from today.

Facebook To Require Masks In All Profile Pictures (BBee)

Facebook confirmed today that to prevent the spread of coronavirus and promote a safe space to virtue-signal, masks will be required on all profile pictures going forward. If you log in to Facebook you will be prompted to change your profile picture to one where you are wearing a mask. If you don’t have a mask, Facebook offers digital mask filters to give the appearance that you’re wearing one. Those who refuse the mask will be asked to delete their accounts.


“This is an issue of public safety,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “We were seeing people just commenting on things and posting memes and stuff while their face was clearly visible. The CDC currently says that masks are good, and therefore, you must wear a mask.” An assistant then whispered in Zuckerberg’s ear. “Oh, uh, this just in: the CDC now says that masks are bad. So we’ll take this all back.” But, before he could reverse the mask order, the CDC issued another update saying that masks were good again. “Anyway, yes, a mask for everyone. It’s a small thing to do to make everyone feel safe.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

UK MPs ask for a meeting with Assange.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 152020
 


William Merritt Chase Back Of A Nude 1888

 

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)
Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)
Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)
Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)
The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)
Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)
Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)
Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)
Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)
Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)
The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)
Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)
Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

 

 

Hats off to Jimmy Dore.

 

 

Me, I fear for the future of the country.

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)

Joe Biden lashed out at President Trump Monday night, saying in a 14-minute speech following his win in the electoral college that Trump’s ongoing challenges to the 2020 election are “an unprecedented assault on our democracy,” and that claims of widespread fraud are “baseless” – despite the fact that the Supreme Court elected not to review the merits of various cases. “Every single avenue was made available for President Trump to contest the results. He took full advantage of each and every one of those avenues.


“President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take,” Biden added – also slamming the 17 GOP Attorneys General and 126 GOP Congressmembers who challenged the results of the election as well. Biden implied Trump has both abused – and won’t let go of power, saying “In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant it to them,” adding “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”

Read more …

“It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is..”

Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)

Republican electors in four states said Monday that they would cast their procedural votes for President Trump from the Nov. 3 elections, and Michigan sent two separate slates of electors to Capitol Hill, 16 electors for Trump and 16 electors for Democrat Joe Biden. “It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is,” said Meshawn Maddock, Republican at-large national elector. Michigan state Rep. Daire Rendon said: “What it comes down to is this: have the secretary of state, director of elections, and election officials proved to you that the election had accuracy and integrity? They have not. And because of this, the election is in dispute.”

Under the Constitution, state legislatures have plenary power over their respective elections. Because there is an ongoing dispute over the Michigan 2020 general election, members of the Michigan legislature have called on Washington, D.C., to not count Michigan electors until further action from the Michigan legislature, according to a press release about the Michigan effort. Congress will count electoral votes Jan. 6. The Trump campaign embraced the alternate slate of electors’ actions, saying it preserved legal options before the Jan. 6 deadline. “We applaud the Republican electors in those states for showing up and casting the votes,” the campaign’s senior legal counsel Jenna Ellis told Just the News.

The Republican electors in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona all said they voted for Trump. It comes as their states formally appointed Democratic electors who voted for Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, according to the Epoch Times. The Pennsylvania GOP said in a news release that electors met at the state capital to “cast a conditional vote” for Trump and Pence “at the request of the Trump campaign.” Democratic electors voted in the Pennsylvania Electoral College for Biden and Harris.

Read more …

“If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server?”

Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)

President Trump’s 2018 Executive Order 13848 requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), John Ratcliffe, to report forty-five days after the election on foreign election interference. That’s this Friday. What might Mr. Ratcliffe know? Well, supposedly everything. Except both the CIA and the FBI must be considered undependable now, with RussiaGate prankster Gina Haspel in charge of the CIA, and Christopher Wray slow-walking every requested declassified FBI document for years. So, Mr. Ratcliffe must be receiving more dependable intelligence from others, most likely Defense Intelligence. Many readers may have heard about a supposed raid on the CIA cyber-warfare station in Frankfurt, Germany, and the seizure there of the Dominion computer servers by US Army special ops personnel.

Forty-five days was probably enough time for Defense Intelligence to run forensic analysis on those servers, if, in fact, they existed and the raid actually happened. Standing by on that. We just don’t know. But if so, then Mr. Ratcliffe must have some results by now. What nobody has asked is: in the first place, what on earth would the Dominion servers be doing in Frankfurt, outside the USA, in possession of the CIA? Is the CIA monitoring the vote tabulation… or assisting in it? This raises another question no one has addressed: Servers serve computer networks, which operate via the Internet. If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server? If I’m missing something there, please discuss in the comments section.

Which raises another question: Is there not sufficient evidence to see that the use of computers has completely screwed up our election process? Is this not a classic Joseph Tainter style quandary of overinvestments in complexity producing diminishing returns — which, when enough of them pile up, gets you to the collapse of civilizations? Are we going to allow further screw-ups by letting the State of Georgia conduct their January 5 senate run-off election on the same Dominion machines that they used on November 3? Apparently, that’s exactly what Georgia intends to do.

Read more …

Did Bill Barr just make room for Trump to pardon Assange and Snowden?

Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)

William Barr has decided to step down as attorney general before Christmas, ending a tumultuous tenure that saw his department clear President Trump of Russia collusion and crack down on violent gangs, Chinese spies and religious liberty violations. Trump announced the departure Monday evening on Twitter shortly after meeting with Barr, ending a tense week in which the president and his allies criticized the attorney general for both failing to reveal the existence of a Hunter Biden probe before the election and taking little public action to punish those who perpetrated the false Russian collusion narrative, “Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump tweeted. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

“Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!” the president added. In his letter, Barr revealed his last day will be Dec. 23 and that the purpose of his meeting with the president Monday was to brief the president about his department’s efforts to investigate voter fraud. Barr also went out of his way in the letter to decry the “frenzied and baseless” narrative of Russia collusion that hampered the first two-plus years of the Trump presidency.

“Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless, implacable resistance. Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic no matter how abusive and deceitful was out of bounds,” Barr wrote. “The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust your administration, with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia,” he added.

Read more …

Calls for pardons are getting loud.

The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)

A U.S. appellate court in September unanimously ruled that the NSA’s program of mass domestic surveillance was illegal, as well as likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The court, and the broader public, knew about this illegal mass surveillance program created by the NSA only because Edward Snowden, while working inside that agency, discovered its existence and concluded in 2012 that the American public has the right know about what was being secretly done to them and their privacy by their own government. Upon making the decision to blow the whistle on this security state illegality, Snowden delivered the documents relating to that program and other then-unknown systems of mass online surveillance not by dumping them indiscriminately on the internet or selling them or passing them to foreign governments, but by providing them to journalists (including myself) with The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets.

The documents Snowden provided were accompanied by requests to report them responsibly. He thus relinquished the power entirely to make decisions about which documents would and would not be published, leaving those decisions exclusively to news outlets. That meant that Snowden himself never made a single document publicly available; every document that was reported was the result of decisions by newsrooms around the world that their publication would be in the public interest and would not endanger innocent people. That method of whistleblowing chosen by Snowden — patterned after the one Daniel Ellsberg used in 1971 to make the public aware of years of lying to the American public by the U.S. Government about the Vietnam War, when he gave the top-secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and asked them to report it in the public interest — enabled journalists to inform the American citizenry about illegal and unconstitutional spying by the U.S. Government in the most responsible manner possible.

Indeed, the very first program we reported — on June 6, 2013 — was the mass domestic spying program which the appellate court just ruled was illegal and likely a violation of the constitutional rights of all Americans. That first article we published revealed a top secret court order under which “the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers,” and required major telecommunications carriers “on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

The months of reporting that followed, all singularly enabled by Snowden’s courageous whistleblowing, triggered so much vital public debate about privacy and mass surveillance, and fostered so many legal and technological privacy reforms around the world, that the reporting earned virtually every award journalism has to give, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. For those who have not seen it, the 2014 documentary by Laura Poitras about the work Snowden did with journalists, Citizenfour, which received the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary, shows much of the Snowden story in real time and can be viewed on YouTube; the feature film “Snowden,” available on Netflix and other platforms, separately explores the trajectory which Snowden traversed from enlisted U.S. Army soldier, CIA contractor and NSA expert to one of this generation’s most consequential whistleblowers.

Read more …

“I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.”

Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)

Amid mounting speculation that President Trump is about to announce a list of presidential pardons, calls for — and against — NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s name to be included are growing louder. In November, as is customary, Donald Trump pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now, in the lame duck session of his presidency, he appears to be making a customary list of people to pardon as well. Influential and well-connected publication Axios reported, in a scandalized tone, that he is planning to hand out pardons “like Christmas gifts” to “every person who ever talked to [him].” In August, the president was asked about Snowden specifically, responding by saying that, “I’m going to take a very good look at it. I’ve seen people that are very conservative and very liberal and they agree on the same issue…I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”


Now, a host of figures are calling in unison for Trump to follow through on the proposal. “President Trump is listening to the many of us who are urging him to pardon Snowden. It’s the right thing to do,” Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz said yesterday. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul agreed, slamming former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in the process. “Clapper brazenly lied to Congress denying that the Deep State was spying on all Americans. Snowden simply revealed Clapper’s lies and exposed unconstitutional spying. He deserves a pardon from Donald Trump,” he wrote. Those calls were joined by a number of voices on the left, including former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, who said, “I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.” The American Civil Liberties Union, who have previously described Snowden as a “patriot,” concurred, stating, “Edward Snowden blew the whistle on illegal government activity kept secret for years. Our democracy is better off because of him.”

Read more …

“Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.”

Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)

The Trump administration calls the International Criminal Court a kangaroo court. He refuses to allow any U.S. soldier to be brought before the court for purported war crimes in Afghanistan. None of the court investigators or judges will receive visas to enter U.S. territory. Any property or bank accounts they have in the U.S. will be confiscated. If any court is a disingenuous kangaroo court it is the extradition trial against Julian Assange, in London. The first magistrate who sat in judgment of possible extradition to the U.S. for alleged violations of its Espionage Act, is a subject in Wikileaks’ revelations. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and her husband, James Arbuthnot, who was a defense minister for procurement, have “earned” money from two companies exposed by Wikileaks.

During the August-September extradition hearings, Arbuthnot “stepped down” to be supervisor of the new magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser. During three weeks of hearings, Baraitser looked at her laptop to read decisions she had written before defense lawyers had made their arguments, or witnesses had testified. I am not the only one hoping that Donald Trump will do the right thing with Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden too. The last president, one Trump hates, first put Assange’s key whistleblower in prison, in isolation, under torture. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years. Obama leaving office with a gesture of “goodwill”, commuted Chelsea’s sentence once she served seven years. She was later jailed for another year for not snitching on Julian.

Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 who wasn’t a war hawk, is asking Trump for goodwill. She tweeted tagging Trump, “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” and named Assange and Snowden for him to drop charges. The proposal for Trump to pardon Assange was also endorsed at this recent webinar which included speakers Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Law Professor Marjorie Cohn, Consortium News editor-in-chief Joe Lauria. If Trump did the honorable thing of halting the persecution of Julian Assange, it would be a blow for freedom and a middle finger to the Deep State including Obama and Clinton. Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.

Read more …

“They totally caved..”

Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)

A senior Democratic congressional aide is irate tonight. “The Democrats,” the aide seethed, “have just done the worst negotiating in modern history.” At issue: a pair of new Covid-19 relief bills, just submitted by a bipartisan group of Senators. Republican Senator Susan Collins gushed that a“Christmas Miracle” allowed the two parties came together on the twin bills, which the press describes as totaling $748 billion and $160 billion, respectively. “Bipartisanship and compromise is [sic] alive and well in Washington,” clucked West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. It sure is. With the election over, the Democratic leadership in the space of a few weeks somehow negotiated against themselves, working with Republicans to push the total amount of a Covid-19 relief deal further and further downward, to the point where previous plans offered by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin now look like LBJ’s Great Society.

Democrats ultimately settled for less than a third of what they had set as a baseline for state and local aid, accepted a package without any $1,200 direct payments, and signed off on a plan that, after offsets, includes less than $350 billion in new money, well below a slew of pre-election proposals rejected by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as being too low. “They totally caved,” the aide says. Back in May, the Democrat-led House passed the HEROES Act, a $3.4 trillion relief package that was pitched as the bill Democrats really wanted. It contained $413 billion new dollars for $1,200 direct payments to citizens, as well as $437 billion in additional unemployment benefits, and a whopping $1.13 trillion for state and local governments.

Trump said the bill was “dead on arrival,” McConnell blasted it as a “$3 trillion left-wing wish list,” and the anti-spending group Taxpayers for Common Sense seethed that Democrats unrealistically put “everything they could think of” in the bill. Still, Democrats insisted this was the right amount, at the right time, a moral necessity. “The House has passed a major bill dealing with COVID,” Schumer said in May, blasting his Senate Republican colleagues for a “pause” in negotiations. “We have done nothing.”

Read more …

Meanwhile, what a mess.

Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)

Earlier this year, Republican senators slammed the idea of spending money to pay Americans not to work during the pandemic. Only a few months later, a group of GOP senators has signed onto stimulus legislation that would authorize the government to pay idle defense contractors to not work, even as those contractors’ rack up big profits during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the same bill excludes bipartisan provisions authorizing direct payments to millions of Americans struggling to survive. The stimulus legislation released by Republican and Democratic senators this afternoon includes an extension of a program to replace the wages of certain government contractors who miss work due to COVID-19.

The program, Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allows federal agencies to reimburse contractors who are unable to work in person due to the pandemic, and whose jobs do not allow telework, for up to 40 hours per week of lost wages. In effect, the program uses government money to reimburse defense contractors for giving paid leave to their employees. The provision was added to the last page of the 525-page bill after defense contractors sent a letter to congressional lawmakers lobbying for the language. The same bill does not authorize direct payments to millions of Americans — nor does it reimburse small businesses for providing paid leave benefits to their workers.

While the bill would fund $300-a-week in new federal unemployment benefits, that’s half as much as Congress distributed under the CARES Act — and millions of people will still see their unemployment benefits lapse on December 26, as it will likely take weeks to reprogram state unemployment systems. “This is about need and not greed,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the Democratic sponsors of the bill who has called new direct payments to families “a bad idea.” Nearly 12 million U.S. renters will be behind $5,850 in rent by January, according to the Washington Post. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have been pushing lawmakers to include language in stimulus legislation giving $1,200 stimulus checks to millions of families. That was not included in the same stimulus that includes the subsidy program for defense contractors.

In July, Senate Republicans introduced a stimulus package which included $11 billion in appropriations to reimburse defense contractors for payments made under Section 3610, following lobbying from the defense industry. “Section 3610 provides authority for agencies to cover from existing funds certain contractor costs and keep key personnel and skilled workers in a ready state,” lobbying groups and executives from representing defense contractors and other government contractors wrote on December 11.

Read more …

How is it possible that in so many countries that failed so miserably in their pandemic fights, all the same faces hold on to all their same jobs?

Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)

As the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine gets underway, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American public should anticipate likely needing to wear masks and socially distancing through next winter. Fauci was asked Monday when he thinks society will be able to get back to pre-coronavirus normality. “I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing towards normality,” Fauci said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategy and International Studies. “I don’t believe we’re going to be able to throw the masks away and forget about physical separation and congregate settings for a while, probably likely until we get into the late fall and early next winter, but I think we can do it. The numbers will guide us.”


Fauci also said that having a vaccine distributed before the end of the year was “unimaginable” at the beginning of the pandemic. He referred to Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership implemented under the Trump administration, as a “success story,” given that a “group of vaccines” for COVID-19 have been produced. “I think Operation Warp Speed, putting hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, into facilitating the technical aspects of the trial, the clinical trial, the pre-purchasing of hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine is unprecedented,” he said. “So it’s really quite a success story, I must say.”

Read more …

We should have this down by now. We don’t.

The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)

If we turn our attention back to the Covid death data, just because someone has tested positive for Covid-19 and died sometime after (even if we put aside for a second that some tests are known to give false positives), that does not mean that Covid-19 caused that person to die. Yet, the main figure certain countries around the world are using to express Covid-19 deaths is simply recorded, or coded, as essentially any death involving a positive Covid-19 test within 28 days of death. Because correlation does not equal causation, simply recording Covid-19 deaths as any deaths involving a positive Covid-19 test within a given period of time is an extremely poor way to measure how many people have died. For instance, in the UK, the main figure being used for Covid-19 deaths is coded, as stated on the official Coronavirus website, as the…

number of deaths of people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. This completely ignores the problem of causality, and thus, produces a much larger death toll than there actually is. For instance, if someone has had an underlying heart condition for 10 years, and has a heart complication and dies, their death was most likely mainly caused by the heart condition that has plagued them for a decade. However, if that person had tested positive for Covid-19 for the first time within 28 days of them dying, that person could be included as a Covid-19 death in the UK, if all is required to be categorized as a Covid-19 death is simply a positive test result.

For those who understand that the way you code deaths dramatically changes the number of deaths you get, the UK authorities kindly illustrate this for us. There is a second number recorded by UK authorities which codes deaths as… people whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes. By coding deaths this way, there are thousands more Covid-19 deaths compared to when deaths are coded as… people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. Despite the UK authorities having two ways to code Covid-19 deaths however, none of them are particularly accurate in my opinion. This is because the positive test figure does not deal with the issue of causality, and the death certificate figure only mentions Covid as needing to be “one of the causes” of death, rather than “the primary cause,” in addition to the death certificate figure not explicitly demanding the need for a positive Covid-19 test result.

Read more …

Right on cue, Guaido and Navalny are back in the western news, two people who play no role whatsoever in their own home countries. What’s the mechanism behind this?

Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)

Venezuelan opposition led by US-backed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido has held “popular consultations” to demonstrate rejection of the nation’s government after boycotting parliamentary vote but ended up burning ballots instead. The so-called “popular consultations” organized by the supporters of the self-styled “interim president” started online on Monday and concluded with an in-person participation on Saturday. The move was held after an official election held earlier this month handed control over the Venezuelan National Assembly to President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist PSUV party. As it was during the 2018 presidential elections that handed victory to Maduro himself, most of the opposition boycotted the official vote.

After losing what was considered its last institutional stronghold, Guaido’s supporters decided to demonstrate the scale of the alleged popular rejection of the Venezuelan government they continue to call illegitimate. Although the turnout for the official election was not particularly high, Guaido’s initiative has hardly faired any better since, according to the organizers’ own estimates cited by Reuters, just under 6.5 million out of roughly 17.5 million eligible voters took part in the “consultation,” including some 845,000 people living abroad. The outcome of the “consultation” did not seem to affect the political situation in the Latin American nation hit by strict US sanctions targeting its oil sector and exacerbating a prolonged economic crisis.

Maduro himself brushed off the opposition’s initiative by saying that “no internet consultation has constitutional status” or any “legal value.” In 11 out of 24 Venezuela’s states, the law enforcement sought to disrupt the in-person participation in the “consultation” by removing the informal voting sites, the organizers complained. Still, they themselves ended up destroying all the traces of the “consultation”, at least at some of the improvised polling stations. A video published on the social media shows a pile of ballots and voting records burning on the floor at one of such sites in the northern Miranda state. The organizers claimed they did so to protect the identities of the participants.

Read more …

“..the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning”

Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

This weekend’s article in the Sunday Times is probably meant to undermine the doubters. In reality, it’s likely to have the opposite result. For its claims are so outrageous that many thinking people will react with laughter, and then perhaps start questioning the poisoning story as a whole. According to the Sunday Times, Navalny wasn’t poisoned by a nerve agent smeared on his water bottle, as has previously been asserted, but rather was attacked by means of his underpants. Moreover, he wasn’t poisoned once, but twice, and despite Novichok’s reputation for extreme deadliness, both attempts failed.

When examined, though, these claims don’t amount to much. The Sunday Times story is nearly 4,000 words long, but 95 percent of it is irrelevant filler, including the comical assertion that the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning” (because, of course, nobody other than Russians ever poisoned anyone). The allegations regarding the attack on Navalny take up a mere 100 words of the 4,000-word total. As well as being brief, they are to say the least unproven. The Sunday Times says: “Vladimir Uglev, a retired Russian chemist who developed nerve agents, believes Navalny’s poisoners would have been instructed to place novichok on the elastic waistband of his pants, where it would come into contact with his skin. … A German laboratory later found traces of a nerve agent on the surface of one of the water bottles. Uglev, the retired chemist, believes that this is because Navalny touched it having got novichok on his fingers after putting on his underpants.”

In other words, the underpants story is just what a single Russian scientist, unconnected to the case, happens to think. Nothing more. Does Uglev provide any evidence to prove his assertion? No. He just “believes” it. Yet, this is sufficient for the Sunday Times to treat the story as essentially true, leading off its article with the claim that, “Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent – not, as initially believed, when he drank a cup of tea in the departure lounge but when he got dressed that morning.” This is not exactly good reporting. If the underwear story smells a little off, so too does the claim that Russian secret agents tried to murder Navalny not once, but twice.

As evidence, the Sunday Times says that, “German security sources have told their associates in the UK that the attackers struck again as Navalny lay in an induced coma before being put on a medical flight to Germany. ‘This was with a view to him being dead by the time he arrived in Berlin,’ one source said.” To put it another way, an anonymous person (probably a member of the British intelligence or security services) told a journalist that some other anonymous person believes that this is so. In other words, it’s not just hearsay, but anonymous hearsay. One can believe it if one wishes. But there’s no particular reason why one should.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 052020
 


Paul Cézanne Young Italian Woman at a Table c1900

 

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)
Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)
Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)
Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)
The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)
The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)
Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)
Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)
A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)
Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)
Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)
AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)
Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)
Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

 

 

 

 

“There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.”

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)

Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center has ordered 1.5 million doses of a Russian vaccine against the coronavirus, hospital director Zeev Rotstein said Tuesday. First reported on Army Radio, Rotstein added that the hospital will give the Health Ministry all necessary data about the vaccine this week, with the goal of obtaining a permit to administer it to Israelis. Rotstein, who has clashed repeatedly with the ministry in recent months, is convinced that the fears voiced in the media about the vaccine aren’t well-founded, and that they have more to do with the global struggle between Russia and the United States than with the scientific data. But even if the ministry refuses to approve the vaccine, he said in an interview with Haaretz, “We’ll have something do with it,” because Hadassah also operates overseas.

The Russian vaccine has been in phase three clinical trials since August and has already been given to tens of thousands of people. Hadassah’s branch in Moscow has both given the vaccine to people and monitored them afterward, “and the results and safety we’ve seen have been very good,” Rotstein said. Hadassah’s activities in Moscow are what led the Russian authorities to propose that the hospital seek Israeli approval for the vaccine, he added. If the phase three trials show that the vaccine is both safe and effective, and if the Health Ministry approves its use, the vaccine could be available in Israel in two to three months.

Rotstein stressed that until the phase three trial ends and the data has been analyzed, it’s impossible to know if the vaccine will be effective in preventing the virus. But based on the data so far, he said, “There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.” Both the development of the Russian vaccine and Russia’s unusual decision to administer it to its own citizens, even before the phase three trials ended, have been widely criticized worldwide. But Rotstein insisted that much of this criticism stems from the American-Russian battle over who will develop a vaccine first.

Read more …

Yeah, very convincing.

Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)

Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 has been shown to create immunity against the bug for at least three months, the biotech company said. Thirty-four healthy adults who received two doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, were shown to have antibodies for 90 days, according to new findings published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The first dose “produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time, as expected, but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination,” the study said. The two doses were administered 28 days apart.


The report did not make clear what level of risk people would have after 90 days and whether another shot would be needed. Earlier this week, Moderna asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, saying data shows its vaccine is more than 94 percent effective against coronavirus. On Friday, the Massachusetts-based company said it would be able to produce 500 million doses of the vaccine in 2021. “For 500 million, I am very comfortable we are gonna get there,” chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said at the Nasdaq Investor Conference.

Read more …

More confidence? Based on what? Just news stories?

Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)

As vaccines for the coronavirus enter review for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the share of Americans who say they plan to get vaccinated has increased as the public has grown more confident that the development process will deliver a safe and effective vaccine. Still, the U.S. public is far from uniform in views about a vaccine. A majority says they would be uncomfortable being among the first to take it, and a sizable minority appear certain to pass on getting vaccinated. Overall, 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, if one were available today, up from 51% who said this in September.

39% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half of this group – or 18% of U.S. adults – says it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. Yet, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19: 75% have at least a fair amount of confidence in the development process today, compared with 65% who said this in September.

These findings come on the heels of preliminary analysis from two separate clinical trials that have produced vaccines that are over 90% effective; the FDA is expected to issue decisions about the emergency authorization of these vaccines in the coming weeks. While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public says they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable.


The toll of the pandemic is starkly illustrated by the 54% of Americans who say they know someone personally who has been hospitalized or died due to the coronavirus. Among Black Americans, 71% know someone who has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.

Read more …

What is being done about this? Why do we never read about that?

Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)

The coronavirus death toll at U.S. nursing homes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was brutal and unrelenting. The Life Care Center nursing home outside Seattle made international headlines in March after the coronavirus infected residents and staff, resulting in at least 123 cases and dozens of deaths. In New Jersey, public officials discovered 17 bodies piled into a makeshift morgue in a nursing home in April when Covid-19 fatalities overwhelmed the facility. Nursing homes, which house the most vulnerable of society, quickly became ground zero for countless coronavirus outbreaks across the U.S. in the early months of the pandemic. While the outbreak subsided somewhat this fall, long-term care facilities are now seeing their most intense surge in Covid cases since at least the summer.

As new cases break record after record most days, infections at long-term care facilities reached a new weekly high in late November, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, an organization launched by The Atlantic magazine. More than 46,000 infections at those facilities were recorded in what was the worst week in six months; reliable data only goes back that far. Despite making up just 5.7% of all U.S. Covid cases, nursing home and assisted living facilities residents and staff accounted for 39.3% of the deaths, according to tracking project data. That number is generally considered low since many nursing home deaths tend to get reported without an underlying cause, physicians have said.

Deaths at U.S. nursing homes for the week ended last Thursday topped 3,000 — the highest weekly death toll since June, pushing cumulative fatalities over 100,000, according to the tracking project. “I’ve likened nursing homes to being like a tinderbox. It takes one person, one person, to unknowingly bring the virus into a facility and it could kill several people, make a lot of people sick,” said Dr. Joseph Ouslander, a geriatrician at Florida Atlantic University who works as a clinician in nursing homes. No matter what precautions staff take, it’s going to be difficult to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes, said Ouslander, who is also a professor of integrated medical science. “All those elements of the perfect storm are in place.”

Read more …

The Households Survey showed an actual decline of 74,000 working people. 100s of 1000s no longer count as in the labor force.

The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)

Everyone seems to be baking the highly anticipated potential future vaccines into the economic cake, but what has been happening for weeks is a spike in Covid cases across the US that has already triggered economic restrictions, including various versions of stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and some other Bay Area counties, with restaurants closed for outdoor dining, strict capacity restrictions in retail stores, and many other restrictions. These moves are ahead of the State of California’s new framework for dealing with the spiking infections. Other states and cities have similar programs, either on the front burner or on the back burner. The Covid spike has already crimped economic activity and jobs over the past few weeks and is going to do more severely going forward.

But the jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on surveys of “establishments” for the pay period through November 12; and on surveys of households for the week through November 14. So the data we got today largely missed the labor market consequences of the spike in Covid cases. Those consequence are coming in the next employment reports, starting with the report for December. Despite the cut-off dates having kept much of the Covid-impacted jobs data out of the results, the data have actually deteriorated in several aspects, including the number of people with jobs as reported by households, the employment-population rate, and the labor force.

The headline number of 245,000 jobs created came from surveys of establishments (companies, governments, nonprofits, educational institutions, etc.). That survey doesn’t track gig workers. It depicted a lousy recovery. But lousy as it was, it was the more benign part. The survey of households, on the other hand, tracks people who are working full or part time, including gig workers. And households reported that the number of people with jobs ticked down to 149.7 million. This wasn’t a slowdown in growth, but an actual decline of 74,000 working people – the first month-to-month decline since April.

The chart shows both results, from establishments (green) and from households (red) – the biggest part of the difference being gig workers. It’s obvious that even by November 12, before the real impact of the Covid surge, this was no good, in terms of catching up with population growth, or in terms of anything else:

The employment-population ratio, which tracks the number of employed workers against the working-age population (16 years or older) also dipped in November, to 57.3%, a level first seen since in 1972:

Read more …

From Bernie campaigner Sirota. He’ll never be left near a Dem campaign again.

The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)

Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a straightforward question: “Who would you point to now as a leading progressive voice in the cabinet?” Harris had no answer, saying only that “we’re not even halfway there” on nominations. Biden touted only his Homeland Security nominee, who previously helped run Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The spectacle was revelatory and honest: A month after the election, Biden’s nominations make clear that the president-elect is most focused on trying to fulfill his promise to donors that nothing fundamentally changes. And yet, that tacit admission may have stunned those who keep hearing from liberal and progressive groups in Washington that, in fact, the left has been notching monumental victories in Biden’s cabinet appointments.

This disconnect between Biden nominating business-friendly corporatists and Beltway liberals effusively celebrating those nominees spotlights the latter groups’ decision to genuflect for access and influence — rather than being brutally honest about the situation. That strategy of appeasement has almost never worked in an America where change has typically come only through opposition, struggle and sacrifice. And yet somehow, prostration remains the dominant strategy among the professional left. Why? In some cases, liberal groups are naively trying to curry favor with an incoming Democratic administration. Others are probably just trying to demonstrate to their supporters and future donors they won’t be completely irrelevant in Biden’s Washington.

Some are just too chickenshit to ever stand up and have any real fight with Democrats — and still others are just auctioning off their principles because the establishment counterrevolution offers better, stable career prospects. The result, though, is the same: What little organized left political infrastructure exists in Washington is largely valorizing or publicly defending swamp creatures who at minimum deserve a loyal opposition. The good work being done by a small handful of under-resourced groups to mount a real opposition is getting trampled by a culture of obsequiousness. This culture of acquiescence gives swamp creatures a free pass — and it may not just deliver an incrementalist Biden administration that takes progressives for granted and consequently fails to address national emergencies. It could also help permanently change what is even considered politically possible in the future.

Read more …

Seems the left has little to no spine.

Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)

Few portions of political discourse are as predictably shallow as presidential Cabinet discourse. Who should run the Department of Transportation? An affable also-ran in the Democratic primary who once said something about trains? A moderate politician or a businessman who might bring the country together from their perch at the agency that handles civil aviation and our highways? “No,” a sage voice somewhere in Washington, or Delaware, says. “It should be Rahm Emanuel.” As Chicagoans know, Emanuel’s most ambitious step into transportation policy as mayor was his endorsement of a high-speed tunnel project from Elon Musk that has yet to materialize. Chicagoans also know that Emanuel’s efforts to cover up video of a black teen’s murder by a Chicago policeman probably better qualify him for a post at the CIA.

That agency, we’ve been told this week, might finally be headed by a Black man; we also know a woman has been chosen to run the Department of Defense. Overall, Democratic policy professionals of all identities and stripes have been given plenty of reasons to rejoice at Biden’s choices so far. Civilians in Yemen have not. It’s been noted elsewhere that the left has responded much more quickly and aggressively to Biden’s selections than it did to Obama’s as he put together his first presidential Cabinet. If so, it doesn’t seem like the flurries of statements, social media posts, and articles that have been written to counter every stray rumor and announcement have mattered very much at all—the process is chugging along, and Biden’s nominees are just a couple of notches left of the Obama team; activists might take a small victory in torpedoing an Emanuel nomination.

There was never good reason to expect more. This is partially because a Republican Senate, should Democrats lose in Georgia’s runoff elections next month, will be an obstacle to the confirmation of even moderate nominees. But it’s more substantially because the moderates in the Democratic Party don’t share the left’s policy goals and would oppose giving them a meaningful presence in the Biden administration even if they could. The conventional wisdom about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party has fully reversed itself in the space of six to eight months. As the Democratic primary ended, it was often argued that Sanders and the left lost because they had marginalized themselves—anti-establishment rhetoric, refusals to accept compromise, and the toxicity of prominent voices had alienated not only most of the Democratic electorate but also Democratic elites who might have otherwise been won over.

“Twitter isn’t real life,” it was said. But naturally, after Election Day, Democratic underperformance down-ballot from Biden was blamed mostly on the left’s influence. Democratic elites, it’s said now, were persuaded by the left to take on or accept unpopular messaging about socialism and policing—thanks in part, evidently, to the awesome and terrible power of tweets from left activists, writers, and podcasters.

Read more …

Turley points out that the timing indicates Durham now focuses on members of the perspective Biden administration.

“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.”

Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)

Attorney General Bill Barr made two important evidentiary decisions yesterday that delivered body blows to both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. First, Barr declared that the Justice Department has not found evidence of systemic fraud in the election. Second, he declared that there was sufficient evidence to appoint United States Attorney John Durham as a Special Counsel on the origins of the Russia probe. The move confirmed that, in a chaotic and spinning political galaxy, Bill Barr remains the one fixed and immovable object. By appointing Durham as a Special Counsel, Barr contradicted news reports before the election that Durham was frustrated and found nothing of significance despite Barr’s pressure.

Some of us expressed doubts over those reports since Durham asked for this investigation to be upgraded to a criminal matter, secured the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, and asked recently for over a thousand pages of classified intelligence material. Under the Justice Department regulations, Barr had to find (and Durham apparently agreed) that there is need for additional criminal investigation and “[t]hat investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.” He must also find the appointment in the public interest. Notably, the investigation of Clinesmith is effectively completed. So, what is the criminal investigation and what is the conflict?

Presumably, the conflict is not in the current administration since it would have required an earlier appointment. The conflict would seem to be found in the upcoming Biden administration. Some conflicts developing seem obvious as Biden turns to a host of former Obama officials for positions, including the possible selection of Sally Yates as Attorney General. Yates was directly involved in the Russian investigation and signed off on the controversial surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page. She now says that she would never have signed the application if she knew what she knows today.

Durham is now authorized to investigate anyone who may have “violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.” The list of the names of people falling within that mandate is a who’s who of Washington from Hillary Clinton to James Comey to . . . yes . . . Joe Biden. Bizarrely, reports have claimed that Trump was irate at the move as a “smokescreen” to delay the release of the report. That ignores not just the legal but political significance of the action. From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.

Read more …

“Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk?”

A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)

Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk? Is it, at least, worth looking into, considering the evidence trail? Many people on the Left, who read and view only the captive Left news media, may know nothing about Hunter B’s laptop and the tales it told because social media blacked out all the news about it and the mainstream media went along with the blackout. Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $350-million to a “safe elections” project run by the non-profit Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), that was chiefly active in setting up Democratic vote-harvesting operations. Could he be liable for prosecution in enabling ballot fraud? Has the FBI asked him any questions?

Another story ‘out there’ says that behind the election hijinks a war is underway between the DOD and the CIA. On Wednesday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that all special operations run by the CIA would henceforward report to the SecDef. In effect, the President has ordered the dismantling of the CIA’s troublemaking capabilities, reducing the agency to the task of intel analysis. This means, for instance, ending the CIA’s ability to foment “color revolutions” (coups d’état) in foreign lands — with the implication that irregularities around the Dominion System may have amounted to an attempted color revolution in the USA. Is it worth wondering whether former CIA Director John Brennan, a leftist activist and probably an architect of RussiaGate, was involved in any of the election ops? If the FBI won’t question him about it, who will? (Answer: The Department of Defense.) Ditto Gina Haspel, current CIA Director. After all, what were the Dominion servers doing at the CIA’s server farm in Germany?

Events are moving quickly under the plodding surface of the ongoing swing state hearings, which are largely concerned with on-site mail-in ballot fraud shenanigans. Will the Supreme Court take a case in the few days left before the state vote certification deadline next Tuesday? Will Mr. Trump intervene with some extraordinary measure — martial law, the Insurrection Act? — to actually abort the election and bring about some kind of do-over? Will the country survive its own feckless inability to hold a credible vote? Stand by with me on all that.

Read more …

Let the dice roll where they may. Still, Dec 14 doesn’t sound like “plenty of time”.

Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)

Attorney Sidney Powell says there’s plenty of time for President Donald Trump’s legal team to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. ‘With the fraud case, the Dec. 8 deadline doesn’t apply,” Powell said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax TV’s ”Stinchfield” in reference to the ”safe harbor” deadline that frees a state from further challenge if it resolves all disputes and certifies its voting results. ”We have at least until Dec. 14,” she said. ”We might file more suits. The court in Michigan or Wisconsin today just gave us a great order recognizing that. These are not pure election contests we are filing. These are massive fraud suits that can set aside the results of the election due to this fraud at any time. The states should not be certifying election results in the face of it.”


Powell, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has been a part of multiple lawsuits in a crusade to overturn results from the 2020 election. Several states have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the election. Newsmax has yet to project a winner as Trump continues to contest the results in court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday said it wouldn’t accept a lawsuit by Trump’s legal team, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through the lower courts. The president asked the court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democrat counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered.

Read more …

It doesn’t shut up Flynn anymore.

Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)

In a Freedom of Information case related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, District Judge Reggie Walton said on Friday that Judge Emmet Sullivan doesn’t have a lot of options in dealing with the fact that President Trump granted Flynn a full pardon, “unless he takes the position that the wording of the pardon is too broad, in that it provides protections beyond the date of the pardon.” “I don’t know what impact that would have, what decision he would make, if he makes that determination that the pardon of Mr. Flynn is for a period that the law does not permit,” said Walton, according to the National Law Journal. “I don’t know if that’s correct or not,” the judge continued. “Theoretically, the decision could be reached because the wording in the pardon seems to be very, very broad. It could be construed, I think, as extending protections against criminal prosecutions after the date the pardon was issued. I don’t know if Judge Sullivan will make that determination or not,” Walton added.


[..] Emmet Sullivan, who was presiding over the case, refused to dismiss the charges even though there was no one attempting to prosecute the case. The legal process has dragged on through the appeals process, and finally President Trump issued a full pardon on November 25. On November 30, the DOJ notified Sullivan of the pardon, but he has still refused to drop the case. Judge Walton appears to have hinted at what Sullivan is thinking as he refuses to dismiss the case. Solomon Wisenberg, former deputy independent counsel, told Just the News that “It is disappointing but not surprising that Sullivan has yet to dismiss the case.”

Read more …

Shouldn’t all these machines be audited? And then be retired?

AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)

Leaders in the Arizona state legislature on Friday called for an audit of Dominion Voting Systems software and equipment in Maricopa County, a request of which county leaders appear “supportive.” The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus announced it intent to seek such an audit via Twitter on Friday afternoon. “As a longtime advocate for improving and modernizing our election system,” incoming Senate Government Chairperson Michelle Ugenti-Rita said in the news release, “I am pleased to learn that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is supportive of conducting an independent audit of their voting software and equipment.” House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said: “A significant number of voters believe that fraud occurred. And with the number of irregularities it is easy to see why.” Petersen also called it “imperative” that officials conduct a forensic audit on Dominion’s setup in the county. Democrat Joe Biden currently has a lead of about 0.3% in Arizona in the Nov. 3 presidential balloting.

Read more …

“Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles..”

Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)

The Netherlands was one of Europe’s most prolific buyers of Teslas but now the Dutch honeymoon seems to be over, with Tesla facing a lawsuit from a large taxi company, and a group of disgruntled car owners considering a class action suit. Bios Group, a taxi firm that operates a fleet of more than 70 Teslas out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is taking Elon Musk’s company to court over €1.3m in damages, citing a high number of defects in the vehicles and difficulties in getting them repaired. There are defects with some 20 of the 70 taxis, ranging from broken power steering to broken drive shafts and broken power steering, according to the Hella Hueck’s story in Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad.

Bios had to have 75 defects repaired in 2018 and another 60 in 2019. Even more problematically Bios says there have been problems with odometer readings in the cars being inaccurate, registering journeys from the wrong location or for the wrong distance, something which could land the taxi company in legal difficulties. Though the European car industry may feel like it has been outcompeted by Tesla in electric vehicles — Tesla has a bigger share of the electric vehicle market than all the European carmakers combined — these types of service quality problems may yet give the incumbent automakers an opportunity to win back customers. Bios says it has recently bought 5 Audi E-trons, in part because it expects better after-sales service from Audi.

There have been many recent reports about problems with Tesla vehicles. In June, JD Power, a consumer intelligence company whose car reliability report is considered the industry standard found that Tesla owners reported more problems in their first 90 days of ownership than the other 31 US auto brands included in the study. Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with an industry average of 166 problems per 100 vehicles. Bios bought the fleet of 72 Model S Teslas in 2014 for €5.7m, one of Europe’s biggest fleets at the time, creating a splash of publicity for the young car company as the fleet paraded around the streets surrounding Schiphol, proclaiming the airport’s commitment to going 100% electric.

But in the last few years, Bios says, it has grown steadily more difficult to get the faulty cars repaired, finally leaving them with no option but to launch a court case to get a resolution. In October, meanwhile, a group of disgruntled Dutch Tesla owners have started the Tesla Claims Foundation, bringing together owners who want Tesla to do more to repair faults in their cars. Some 200 people have so far joined the foundation, with complaints ranging from relatively simple things like rattling noises and poorly working windscreen wipers to broken computers and charging problems.

Read more …

Stoen in the conservative press.

Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

Ah, a left-wing America Firster! Not quite, as his subsequent work and his entertaining new memoir, Chasing the Light, illumine, but Oliver Stone, our most political major filmmaker, evinces a rowdily heterodox vision shaped by the unusual quartet of Jim Morrison, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Capra, and Jean-Luc Godard. What do you call a man who joins the Merchant Marine on a whim, runs up big pro football gambling debts, and takes the Old Right view of FDR’s foreknowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? I’d call him an American. Stone was a rich kid, the son of an FDR-hating Jewish Republican who had served on Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force staff and a French Catholic party girl. He attended the Hill School, played on the tennis team, was devastated by his parents’ divorce, and then went seriously off script.


Avid for experiences, Stone dropped out of Yale, taught in a Catholic school in Taiwan, and volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He came home with a Bronze Star, shrapnel in his ass, and a taste for “powerful Vietnamese weed.” Stone’s politics hadn’t changed all that much, though. He had supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and would vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980. In later years he became more explicitly libertarian, expressing support for Ron Paul and making a film about Edward Snowden. At root, Oliver Stone is a patriot who despises the American Empire for corrupting his country. JFK, his fantasia on the Deep State, echoes Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence” by “the military-industrial complex.” Platoon and Salvador bespeak an old-fangled American anti-interventionism in an age when that tendency, once the default position of ordinary Americans, is a virtual thoughtcrime.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Sep 252020
 


Louis Anquetin Avenue de Clichy 1887

 

Durham, Barr, Jensen and DOJ Production to Sidney Powell (CT)
FBI Analysts Bought Insurance Fearing They’d Be Sued For Flynn Case (JTN)
Brennan Overruled Dissenting Analysts Who Said Russia Favored Hillary (RCI)
FBI Investigated Steele Dossier Source As A Possible Russian Spy In 2010 (DC)
McCabe At Center Of Durham’s Probe, Source A Suspected Russian Agent (SAC)
House Dems Prep Bill To Limit Supreme Court Justice Terms To 18 Years (F.)
Hunger In America, Especially For Children, Has “Skyrocketed” (Int.)
UK, France Break Daily COVID Case Record As Europe Braces For 2nd Wave (F.)
Territorial Reach—The 1961 Amendment That Imperils Assange (Lauria)
Assange a ‘Resilient Man’ Not at Risk of Suicide If Extradited – “Expert” (Sp.)
Assange Hearing Day 17 (Craig Murray)
This Is Lake Trump And It Is In Kosovo (GE)

 

 

40 days before the election, US Attorney Jeff Jensen handed over a pile of documents to Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell yesterday. They are damning for a lot of people at the FBI, CIA and Obama White House. And this can no longer be labeled a politcal move. Powell published the documents right away, something Jensen and Bill Barr couldn’t have done at this point in time. The docs also show that FBI agents even took out insurance in case they would be sued. It may come in handy. Powell will no longer settle for a full exoneration of Flynn, she will go after the people who set him up, and that includes Obama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Rogan interviews Edward Snowden. Long but recommended.

 

 

Taibbi Putin

 

 

An option I wrote down months ago, but I don’t think I ever finished my piece on Sidney Powell: that Bill Barr knew any of his moves would be labeled “(party) political”, but if he handed over files to Sidney Powell, that would not be possible. Or, rather, he even had Jeff Jensen hand them over.

Durham, Barr, Jensen and DOJ Production to Sidney Powell (CT)

The document production by USAO Jeff Jensen to Michael Flynn attorney, Sidney Powell, provides an opportunity for me to share a detached research opinion from my ongoing time outside the wire in the center of the swamp. No matter what open source information is collected; and no matter what evidence congress can assemble; the toxic political environment in DC is the primary driver of DOJ investigative events. It shouldn’t be, but the reality of action reflects an uncomfortable truth. Here’s my opinion on what is happening.

Attorney General Bill Barr is trying to split the baby against two competing narratives. On one hand there is enough evidence to indict former officials for gross abuses of power, falsifying information to a FISA court (violating fourth amendment protections); manipulating investigative effort for political purposes; weaponizing the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. to target political opposition, and then using their positions to cover-up their corrupt and unlawful conduct. On the other hand there is a current highly toxic political environment; consisting of elected politicians and a fully vested branch of government; attempting to cloud the reality that corrupt former government officials worked hand-in-glove with deceitful media, which includes agents of Lawfare, who collaborated in the effort.

This leads to current DC officials and people within those remaining institutions saying: there are delicate balances. In my opinion, in an effort to thread this needle -and considering the timing of the 2020 election- Bill Barr is using the document production from Missouri USAO Jeff Jensen as a backdoor method to provide the information he will not/cannot put forth in a press conference, report or series of indictments. This is why Jensen is providing new information to Michael Flynn s defense attorney Sidney Powell. The U.S. Attorney General knows Powell will make this information public; therefore Powell becomes a conduit to receive significant amounts of evidence previously hidden by the Special Counsel (Weissmann/Mueller) cover-up operation; the “insurance policy” of sorts.


Barr is essentially funneling information through Powell in lieu of a report which would include much of the same evidence. This is just how all indications align. Occam’s razor. Much of the released information has no direct bearing on Flynn *IF* there was going to be an alternate use of the evidence. Bill Barr is splitting the baby.

Read more …

“The new AG might have some questions….then yada yada yada…we all get screwed..”

FBI Analysts Bought Insurance Fearing They’d Be Sued For Misconduct in Flynn Case

FBI analysts working on the Michael Flynn Russia investigation originally planned to end the inquiry in fall 2016 and eventually bought liability insurance fearing they could be sued after their bosses continued to keep the investigation open based on “conspiracy theories,” explosive new text messages showed Thursday. “We all went and purchased professional liability insurance,” one analyst texted on Jan. 10, 2017, just 10 days before Trump took office. “Holy crap,” a colleague responded. “All the analysts too?” “Yep,” the first analyst said. “All the folks at the Agency as well.” “Can I ask who are the most likely litigators?” a colleague responded. “As far as potentially suing y’all.”

“Haha, who knows….I think the concern when we got it was that there was a big leak at DOJ and the NYT among others was going to do a piece,” the original analyst texted back. The explosive messages were attached to a new filing by Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, who argued to the court that is considering dismissing her client’s guilty plea that the emails show “stunning government misconduct” and “wrongful prosecution.” A hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday. “There was no case against General Flynn,” Powell wrote in the new motion. “There was no crime. The FBI and the prosecutors knew that. This American hero and his entire family have suffered for four years from public abuse, slander, libel, and all means of defamation at the hands of the very government he pledged his life to defend.”


The new FBI evidence was turned over late Wednesday and included a stunning revelation that FBI agents originally planned to close Flynn’s probe, known as Crossfire Razor, on Nov. 8, 2016, nearly a year before he was charged with lying to the FBI. “He said shut down Razor” and “so glad they’re closing Razor,” an FBI official texted that day. “However [redacted] was silent though, so who knows what he will want.” By January, the FBI analysts were alarmed that their agency was engaged in misconduct that could be discovered by President Trump’s new attorney general. “The new AG might have some questions….then yada yada yada…we all get screwed,” one official wrote.

Read more …

But how do you prosecute him? Also a job for Sidney Powell?

Brennan Overruled Dissenting Analysts Who Said Russia Favored Hillary (RCI)

Former CIA Director John Brennan personally edited a crucial section of the intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and assigned a political ally to take a lead role in writing it after career analysts disputed Brennan’s take that Russian leader Vladimir Putin intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump clinch the White House, according to two senior U.S. intelligence officials who have seen classified materials detailing Brennan’s role in drafting the document. The explosive conclusion Brennan inserted into the report was used to help justify continuing the Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation, which had been launched by the FBI in 2016. It was picked up after the election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who in the end found no proof that Trump or his campaign conspired with Moscow.

The Obama administration publicly released a declassified version of the report — known as the “Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent Elections (ICA)” — just two weeks before Trump took office, casting a cloud of suspicion over his presidency. Democrats and national media have cited the report to suggest Russia influenced the 2016 outcome and warn that Putin is likely meddling again to reelect Trump. The ICA is a key focus of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing investigation into the origins of the “collusion” probe. He wants to know if the intelligence findings were juiced for political purposes.


[..] The two officials said Brennan, who openly supported Clinton during the campaign, excluded conflicting evidence about Putin’s motives from the report, despite objections from some intelligence analysts who argued Putin counted on Clinton winning the election and viewed Trump as a “wild card.” The dissenting analysts found that Moscow preferred Clinton because it judged she would work with its leaders, whereas it worried Trump would be too unpredictable. As secretary of state, Clinton tried to “reset” relations with Moscow to move them to a more positive and cooperative stage, while Trump campaigned on expanding the U.S. military, which Moscow perceived as a threat.

Read more …

So you have the CIA involved -Brennan- and cooperating with the FBI. They had Danchenko in their sights as early as 2005. Did they introduce him to Steele?

FBI Investigated Steele Dossier Source As A Possible Russian Spy In 2010 (DC)

The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation on the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele, and considered obtaining a warrant to wiretap him in 2010, according to a document released Thursday. The FBI was also aware of the information about the source, identified elsewhere as Igor Danchenko, by December 2016, according to the document. “This is the most stunning and damning revelation the committee has uncovered,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement after releasing an FBI memo about the dossier source. The document shows that the FBI considered a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant of Danchenko years before the bureau relied heavily on information that he had provided Steele, a former British spy, to obtain FISAs against Carter Page.

Danchenko is not named in the memo, though is attorney has confirmed to reporters that the Russian national was Steele’s source. The information also could increase concerns that Russian disinformation was fed to Steele, a former MI6 officer who investigated the Trump campaign on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC. A Justice Department inspector general’s report released Dec. 9 said that the FBI received evidence in January and February 2017 that Russian intelligence officers may have fed false information into Steele’s network of sources. Footnotes from the IG report say that two Russian intelligence officers knew in July 2016 that Steele was investigating the Trump campaign.


According to the FBI document, Danchenko had contact with suspected Russian intelligence officers in Washington, D.C. in 2005 and 2006. The document says that the FBI had an investigation into Danchenko open from May 2009 to March 2011, based on an interaction he allegedly had with three employees of an American think tank. Danchenko worked at the time as a Russia analyst for the Brookings Institution, a prominent liberal foreign policy think tank. An employee of the think tank said that another employee, seemingly Danchenko, told others that if they got jobs in the government and obtained classified security clearances, they might be put them in touch with people so they could “make a little extra money.” “The coworker did express suspicion of the employee and had questioned the possibility that the employee might actually be a Russian spy,” the FBI memo says.

Read more …

“…were contacted last week by the DOJ and were warned that a “shit storm was heading their way.”..”

McCabe At Center Of Durham’s Probe, Source A Suspected Russian Agent (SAC)

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham hinted more than a week ago that more bombshell information regarding the FBI’s handling of its probe into President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia was about to be public. He was right because it was Graham’s committee that discovered the information. A letter released Thursday night by Graham’s committee from Justice Department Attorney General William Barr revealed a declassified summary from the bureau indicating that former British spy Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source in his debunked dossier was believed to be a Russian spy. Not only was the sub source believed to be a spy but the FBI knew about it and had conducted a counterintelligence investigation on the individual.

“In light of this newly declassified information, I will be sending the FISA Court the information provided to inform them how wide and deep the effort to conceal exculpatory information regarding the Carter Page warrant application was in 2016 and 2017,” said Graham. “A small group of individuals in the Department of Justice and FBI should be held accountable for this fraud against the court. I do not believe they represent the overwhelming majority of patriotic men and women who work at the Department of Justice and FBI.” One of those individuals being investigated by Connecticut Prosecutor John Durham is former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired from the FBI by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for lying to the Inspector General on multiple occasions.

He is now in Durham’s crosshairs, along with multiple other former senior FBI officials that were involved in the investigation, according to a source with direct knowledge. McCabe, along with other FBI officials, withheld that information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as well as some of the FBI special agents investigating Trump’s campaign and its alleged ties to Russia, according to the source. “McCabe and others were suppressing information, misrepresenting it or lying about the information that they had in order to purposefully undermine the Trump candidacy and that turned into the predication for undermining the Trump presidency,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation.


The source, who is familiar with the ongoings of the senior brass at the FBI, told this reporter the FBI Director Christopher Wray, along with Deputy Director David Bowdich, were contacted last week by the DOJ and were warned that a “shit storm was heading their way.” The source alleged that McCabe is now a central figure in Durham’s investigation, along with several other senior FBI officials who were aware of the information but failed to disclose it.

Read more …

Everyone’s first reaction: They should limit their own terms.

House Dems Prep Bill To Limit Supreme Court Justice Terms To 18 Years (F.)

Democrats in the House of Representatives will reportedly introduce a bill next week to limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices to 18 years as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death puts a spotlight on the partisan fight over vacancies. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Ca.), Joe Kennedy III (D-Ma.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) said they plan to introduce the Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act on Tuesday, Khanna told Reuters. “It would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues and is one of the primary things tearing at our social fabric,” said Khanna. The bill would limit each president to nominating two justices per four-year term, per Reuters which said it obtained a copy.

It would be the first legislation to set Supreme Court term limits by statute, according to Gabe Roth, the executive director of the judicial advocacy group Fix the Court, who notes Ginsburg’s death has brought more attention to the idea of term limits for the justices, who currently have lifetime appointments, with legal scholars and politicians from both sides of the aisle weighing in with potential proposals. [..] A 77% majority of Americans favor restrictions on the tenure of Supreme Court justices while 23% are against it, according to a recent PBS survey commissioned by Fix the Court.


The survey found that 70% of Republicans, 72% of Democrats and 68% of Independents found the statement, “No one with a position as powerful as Supreme Court justice should serve for life,” either “somewhat” or “very” persuasive. It also found that 70% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats and 68% of Independents were somewhat or very persuaded by the argument that, “Vacancies on the Supreme Court often occur unexpectedly and sporadically; term limits will make it so that vacancies are routine, which will reduce the political gamesmanship around them.”

Read more …

But bankers and “investors” are fine.

Hunger In America, Especially For Children, Has “Skyrocketed” (Int.)

The level of hunger in U.S. households almost tripled between 2019 and August of this year, according to an analysis of new data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture. Even more alarming, the proportion of American children who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now as much as 14 times higher than it was last year. The Agriculture Department conducts yearly studies on food insecurity in the U.S., with its report on 2019 released this month. The Census Bureau began frequent household surveys in April in response to Covid-19 that include questions about hunger.

The analysis, by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that 3.7 percent of U.S. households reported they sometimes or often had “not enough to eat” during 2019. Meanwhile, the most recent Census data from the end of August of this year showed that 10 percent of households said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat within the past seven days. Levels of food insecurity in Black and Latino households are significantly higher, at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent in white households. Even worse, while about 1 percent of adults with children said their children sometimes or often went hungry in 2019, between 9 and 14 percent of such adults said the same about their kids in August 2020.


CBPP estimates that this adds up to about 5 million school-aged children in such households. “What I see every day from the pandemic is amazingly-increased numbers of severely underweight children coming to our clinic, and parents really panicked about how they’re going to find enough food,” says Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. [..] The increase in hunger among children is particularly disturbing, for several reasons. Generally, explains Dottie Rosenbaum, another CBPP expert, “parents shield their children.” Sandel says that “parents are reporting to me sometimes at mealtime going back into the kitchen so the kids don’t notice that they are not eating themselves.” So when children are going hungry, there is little food for anyone.

Read more …

Greece is preparing military and private hospitals for a patient influx. But tourists from countries like France and Holland, which have huge increases in cases, are still welcome.

UK, France Break Daily COVID Case Record As Europe Braces For 2nd Wave (F.)

Both the United Kingdom and France counted record-breaking new daily coronavirus infections Thursday, and while officials partly credit an increased testing capacity, the numbers point toward a possible second coronavirus wave sweeping across Europe. The U.K. reported a record of 6,634 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the highest number recorded by the country, even before its nationwide lockdown. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News the situation is not as dire as during the peak of the pandemic, when the government estimates that as many as 100,000 people were being infected with the virus per day, though lower testing rates at the time mean the daily infection figures from that period don’t reflect the virus’ true spread.

“Now we estimate that it’s under 10,000 people a day getting the disease,” Hancock said. “That’s too high, but it’s still much lower than in the peak.” Just across the English Channel, France also counted a record-breaking 16,096 new daily cases Thursday, the fourth time the record has been broken in just the past week or so. The news comes just after new coronavirus crackdowns were placed on cities like Paris, Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lyon to help damper a resurgence of new cases after the nationwide lockdown was scaled back. Like in the U.K., French officials say improved testing has meant more infections are being detected and recorded, though the country has seen a worrying trend of increased hospitalizations—the number of coronavirus patients in Paris’ hospitals has doubled over the past few weeks and will likely increase nearly twofold again before October, a Parisian hospital system official told Agence France-Presse.

“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,“ the European director of the World Health Organization Hans Kluge said last week according to the BBC, when daily new cases began to rival the pandemic’s peak in spring. Kluge added that those numbers “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.” European countries, some of the hardest hit early on in the coronavirus pandemic, were hailed as a model for the rest of the world after their governments enacted strict, nationwide lockdowns that drastically decreased the number of new coronavirus cases. However, many of those successful countries have reported a resurgence of cases in recent months after emerging from lockdown and gradually returning to a more normal life.


Countries like Spain, France, the U.K., The Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, France and the Netherlands have all counted jumps in cases. The surges of new infections—though not considered as serious as the situation in spring, the peak of the pandemic in Europe—has led to new, often localized crackdowns in a bid to keep new cases at bay. The spikes across the continent have been blamed on young people shunning social distancing guidelines and attending parties after long months of isolation and people going on holiday despite travel warnings. While the European resurgence of the virus is concerning, it is still nowhere near the devastation seen in countries like the United States, which counted its 200,000th coronavirus death this week.

Read more …

Should have been banned right there and then.

Territorial Reach—The 1961 Amendment That Imperils Assange (Lauria)

If the original 1917 Espionage Act were still in force, the U.S. government could not have charged WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange under it. The 1917 language of the Act restricted the territory where it could be applied to the United States, its possessions and international waters: “The provisions of this title shall extend to all Territories, possessions, and places subject to the jurisdiction of the United States whether or not continguous thereto, and offenses under this title when committed upon the high seas or elsewhere within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States …” WikiLeaks publishing operations have never occurred in any of these places. But in 1961 Congressman Richard Poff, after several tries, was able to get the Senate t0 repeal Section 791 that restricted the Act to “within the jurisdiction of the United States, on the high seas, and within the United States.”

Poff was motivated by the case of Irvin Chambers Scarbeck, a State Department official who was convicted under a different statute, the controversial 1950 Subversive Activities Control Act, or McCarran Act, of passing classified information to the Polish government during the Cold War. (Congress overrode a veto by President Harry Truman of the McCarran Act. He called the Act “the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798,” a “mockery of the Bill of Rights” and a “long step toward totalitarianism.” Most of its provisions have been repealed.) Polish security agents had burst into a bedroom in 1959 to photograph Scarbeck in bed with a woman who was not his wife. Showing him the photos, the Polish agents blackmailed Scarbeck: turn over classified documents from the U.S. embassy or the photos would be published and his life ruined. Adultery was seen differently in that era.


Scarbeck then removed the documents from the embassy, which is U.S. territory covered by Espionage Act, and turned them over to the agents on Polish territory, which at the time was not. Scarbeck was found out, fired, and convicted, but he could not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act because of its then territorial limitations. That set Congressman Poff off on a one-man campaign to extend the reach of the Espionage Act to the entire globe. After three votes the amendment was passed. The Espionage Act thus became global, ensnaring anyone anywhere in the world into the web of U.S. jurisdiction. After the precedent being set by the Assange prosecution, it means that any journalist, anywhere in the world, who publishes national defense information is not safe from an Espionage Act prosecution.

Read more …

He had not even evaluated Julian.

Assange a ‘Resilient Man’ Not at Risk of Suicide If Extradited – “Expert” (Sp.)

A psychiatrist testifying for the government says that whilst the WikiLeaks publisher is suffering from mild clinical depression he does not think he is a suicide risk if he is extradited to the United States to face espionage charges. A psychiatrist testifying for the US government in the extradition case of Julian Assange told the Old Bailey on 24 September 2020 that in his assessment the WikiLeaks publisher “would be able to resist any suicidal impulse” were he to be sent to the United States. During the examination-in-chief conducted by James Lewis QC, for the prosecution, Dr Nigel Blackwood, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist with the NHS, explained that he saw Mr Assange in April 2020, in Belmarsh maximum-security prison. The doctor thought Mr Assange was “moderately depressed”, in the clinical sense, though a review of his most recent medical records from Belmarsh leads him to believe that there is some improvement of his state of mind.

Dr Blackwood did not think Mr Assange suffered from a “severe depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms” in November 2019, though he had not himself evaluated Mr Assange at that time and relied in his assessment on other observations made by the prison staff. The doctor, who consults with inmates at Wandsworth prison, notes some risk of suicide but that risk has been very carefully managed in Belmarsh, and the publisher engages closely with treatments to manage that risk. He believes Mr Assange retains the capacity to resist suicide, the court heard. Dr Blackwood says that he disputes that Mr Assange “was at the very severest end of the spectrum” and complains that Professor Michael Kopelman, a defence expert, “did not recognise” that if the treating physician at Belmarsh would have been bound to refer Mr Assange to a secure unit and that that did not occur.


Defence experts told the court earlier in the week that that they believed the risk that Mr Assange may commit suicide if extradited is “high” or even “very high”. Dr Blackwood explained that a person’s description of their own mood and mental state “will definitely be coloured” by their personality and own perspective. He thinks Mr Assange may have had a self-dramatising or hyperbolic approach to describing the symptoms and insisted that one must look very clearly at the psychological records Dr Blackwood also told the court that he has “anxieties” about making an autism diagnosis in a 49-year-old man where there has been no such diagnosis historically, despite Mr Assange’s contact with the medical community earlier in his life.

Read more …

“..three psychiatrists and a physician with extensive experience of treating trauma have all testified in court that Assange’s mental and physical condition deteriorated while he was in “healthcare” for several months. ..”

Assange Hearing Day 17 (Craig Murray)

During the hearing of medical evidence the last three days, the British government has been caught twice directly telling important lies about events in Belmarsh prison, each lie proven by documentary evidence. The common factor has been the medical records kept by Dr Daly, head of the jail’s medical services. There has also been, to put it at its very lightest, one apparent misrepresentation by Dr Daly. [..] This is Mr Kemp’s description of the medical wing at Belmarsh: “Security is on another level here with six times more staff per inmate than the rest of the jail.” While in the medical wing or “healthcare”, Julian Assange was in effect in solitary confinement, and three psychiatrists and a physician with extensive experience of treating trauma have all testified in court that Assange’s mental and physical condition deteriorated while he was in “healthcare” for several months.

They also said he improved after he left “healthcare”. That says something profound about the “healthcare” being provided. The same doctors testified that Assange has a poor relationship with Dr Daly and will not confide his symptoms or feelings to her, and this has also been asserted by defence council. That is all essential background to the lies. Now let me come to the lies. Unfortunately to do so I must reveal details of Julian’s medical condition which I had withheld, but I think the situation is so serious I must now do that. I did not report that Professor Michael Kopelman gave evidence that, among other preparations for suicide, Julian Assange had hidden a razor blade in his folded underwear, but this had been discovered in a search of his cell.

As I did report, Kopelman was subjected to an extremely aggressive cross-examination by James Lewis, which in the morning had focused on the notion that Julian Assange’s mental illness was simply malingering, and that Kopelman had failed to detect this. The razor blade was a key factor in Lewis’s browbeating of Kopelman, and he attacked him on it again and again and again. [..] In an attempt to humiliate Kopelman, Lewis said “You say you do not rely on the razor blade for your diagnosis. But you do rely on it. Let us then look at your report. You rely on the razor blade at paragraph 8. You mention it again at paragraph 11a. Then 11c. Then paragraph 14, paragraph 16, 17b, 18a. Then we come to the next section and the razor blade is there at paragraph 27 and 28. Then again in the summary it is at paragraphs 36 and again at paragraph 38. So tell me Professor, how can you say that you do not rely on the razor blade?” [I do not give the actual paragraph numbers; these are illustrative].


Lewis then went on to invite Kopelman to change his diagnosis. He asked him more than once if his diagnosis would be different if there was no razor blade and it were an invention by Assange. Kopelman was plainly unnerved by this attack. He agreed it was “very odd indeed” it was not mentioned in the medical notes if it were true. The plain attack that he had naively believed an obvious lie disconcerted Kopelman. Except it was Lewis who was not telling the truth. There really was a concealed razor blade, and what Assange had told Kopelman, and what Kopelman had believed, was true in every single detail. In a scene straight out of a TV legal drama, during Kopelman’s testimony, the defence had managed to obtain the charge sheet from Belmarsh Prison – Assange had been charged with the offence of the razor blade. The charge sheet is dated 09.00 on 7 May 2019

Read more …

Ha ha! In gold letters please!

This Is Lake Trump And It Is In Kosovo (GE)

It all started as an idea to relax negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia delegations, but the idea to name the Gazivoda/Ujman Lake “Lake Trump” as seen in the photo seems more serious than initially thought. An idea that started as a joke for the Ujman Lake, which Serbs refer to as Gazivoda, to find a compromise name seems to be taking shape. During the negotiations at the White House, the US Presidential envoy for the dialogue, Richard Grenell, gave the idea to name the lake after Trump. Initially everybody laughed with the idea. But not today. Gazeta Express has learned that Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti expressed his readiness to support Grenell’s idea at a meeting with him.


The same idea was endorsed also by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at another meeting. The debate, and later the Agreement, about Ujman Lake have triggered a wave of reactions in Kosovo. Kosovo has reached an agreement with the US for the State Department to carry out a feasibility study on how to share the lake’s resources. The Ujman/Gazivoda Lake is mostly located in Kosovo’s territory but almost 20 percent of it is part of Serbia’s territory. This artificial lake was accumulated decades ago by the “Iber Lepenci” company, back when Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia. After the end of the war in 1999, there was a lot of tension caused about the lake as Kosovo considers it as its own property, while Serbia claims its ownership since part of it is in Serbia.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 232020
 


Paul Cézanne Les (Grandes) Baigneuses 1905

 

Send in the Clowns for the Circus Is in Town (Curtin)
Biden Says Trump Seeks To ‘Defund The Police’ (Fox)
House Passes $25 Billion Post Office Bailout As Trump Rages On Twitter (ZH)
My Discussion With John Durham’s Lead Investigator, William Aldenberg (CT)
John Brennan Was Put in a Completely Legitimate Perjury Trap (RS)
550,000 Primary Absentee Ballots Rejected In 2020, Far Outpacing 2016 (NPR)
US Spies’ Obsession With RT Comes Full Circle In Senate Report (RT)
Navalny Was Not Poisoned (MoA)
US Sanctions Devastate Syria’s People And Post-War Reconstruction (Maté)
The Real Huge Jobs Numbers Will Make Your Blood Run Cold (Snider)
Governments Are Faking It, and Copying Each Other (AIER)

 

 

Global new cases and deaths remain stubbornly high. US new cases are trending down, wonderful, now bring down deaths numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Smith
https://twitter.com/i/status/1297350692357668865

 

 

The Society of the Spectacle.

Send in the Clowns for the Circus Is in Town (Curtin)

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People. Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses. Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed. And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus. The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly. Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements. And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy. Punch and Judy indeed.

Read more …

Defending the mass incarceration policies? You sure?

Biden Says Trump Seeks To ‘Defund The Police’ (Fox)

President Trump is the one who wants to “defund the police,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asserted during an interview Friday. “I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance,” Biden told ABC News for a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday that also includes Biden’s running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Biden accused the president of proposing cuts to programs that support local police, in sharp contrast to the Republican incumbent’s campaign-trail rhetoric. Harris also stressed that voters should watch the president’s actions rather than listen to his words. “There is so much about what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth that is designed to distract the American people from what he is doing,” Harris told ABC.

Instead of slashing funding, police departments should focus on forcing out officers who abuse their authority, the former vice president said. “There are unethical senators, there are unethical presidents, there are unethical doctors, unethical lawyers, unethical prosecutors, there are unethical cops. They should be rooted out,” Biden told interviewer Robin Roberts. Racial injustice protesters across the country have been calling for the defunding of police departments in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in police custody in Minneapolis and other cases of alleged police brutality. Biden told Roberts that if elected president he would call for national standards for police departments and would make police misconduct records more easily accessible for public scrutiny.

He said Trump plans to cut “half a billion dollars of local police support,” referring to proposed cuts to a federal program aimed at hiring more local officers. Biden said he would call for more resources and social service support for police. “We have to make it clear that this is about protecting neighborhoods, protecting people, everybody across the board,” he said. “The only guy that actually put in a bill to actually defund the police is Donald Trump,” Biden added, after defending the 1994 crime bill he backed while a U.S. senator from Delaware.

That legislation, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, called for community-based policing efforts – but has been criticized for leading to mass incarceration of African Americans and other minorities. “Everybody forgets a third of that bill that I wrote was to put more cops in the street, not in their automobiles, but getting out and knowing the community – knowing who owns the local grocery store, knowing everybody in the community, and crime will drop,” he said.

Read more …

If it really needs $25 billion (or more), the problem doesn’t seem to be where critics currently locate it.

House Passes $25 Billion Post Office Bailout As Trump Rages On Twitter (ZH)

Despite the fact that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has delayed his most controversial cost-saving measures until after the November vote, and endured a shellacking at the hands of Senate Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee, House Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi forged ahead with the help of 26 defecting Republicans to pass a bill calling for $25 billion in financial assistance for the Post Office. As more states announced plans to hold their elections largely by mail in November (a system that some used for the primaries) the Postal Service announced earlier this month that too much voting by mail could delay the arrival of some votes. Pelosi called a special session of the House during recess and on a Saturday to lend this piece of political theater even more impact.

The vote is the culmination of a Democratic crusade about late mail – literally, a few people complained about their mail being late, a few others posted some context-free photos of mail sorting machines being destroyed, and – boom – Democrats suddenly had an army of twitter trolls shrieking about veterans dying because their medication came a day late. One Connecticut family even complained that USPS had lost the cremated remains of a loved one and veteran (they were found 12 days later thanks to one dedicated worker who supposedly delivered the remains personally). They blamed DeJoy personally for the mistake, and ever since, the state’s AG William Tong has seized every opportunity to draw attention to “out of service” mail sorting machines.

DeJoy is due for round two before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, which should be even more brutal than Friday’s pile-on (at least, for DeJoy’s sake, the Senate is controlled by Republicans). But in the latest transparent bit of political theater organized by “political mastermind” Nancy Pelosi – and surely this is right up there with her wardrobe choices during the unveiling of the Dems’ police reform bill – is the victorious vote on Saturday, which has almost no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate. As we mentioned above, 26 Republicans defected to help Democrats pass the bill 257 votes to 150. In addition to the money, the bill called for reversing certain operational changes imposed under DeJoy. Six states are also suing USPS and DeJoy personally (along with the chairman of the USPS board) claiming these changes infringe on states ability to hold free and fair elections.

[..] Now, get ready for some strongly worded statements from Pelosi when Mitch McConnell inevitably refuses to call it for a vote. The Senate has introduced its own, scaled down, plan to help USPS as part of a proposed COVID relief bill that thanks to Democrats, likely will never become a reality.

Read more …

The conservative press has a few very clever and educated people writing on the Russiagate fall-out. They’re going to be needed. This is “sundance” at The Last Refuge.

My Discussion With John Durham’s Lead Investigator, William Aldenberg (CT)

On June 7, 2018, an indictment against Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe was unsealed. Approximately six weeks later, July 21, 2018, the DOJ mysteriously declassified and publicly released the Carter Page FISA application. That’s when I noticed the first two documents were related. The FISA application was the “top secret classified document” described in the Wolfe indictment. Immediately I recognized it wasn’t just any copy of the FISA application that was released by the DOJ; but rather a very specific copy of the FISA application. What the DOJ released was the exact copy used in the leak investigation of James Wolfe. The ramifications of this specific copy being publicly released were immediately noted, although almost everyone seemed to gloss over the issue in favor of discussing the content.

Over the course of the next several months the ramifications became more clear. Despite overwhelming evidence James Wolfe was never charged with leaking the FISA application on March 17, 2017. Quite the contrary, even to this day the official position of the FBI, DOJ and U.S. government is that Wolfe *did not* leak the FISA application. There’s a very big reason for that; as both myself and special agent William Aldenberg discussed. First, in order to fill in another corner of the interview foundation it must be remembered the goal of the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions, despite his recusal on all things Trump, was the removal of political influence in the DOJ. That same objective has been repeated ad infinitum by current AG Bill Barr.

This approach is why everyone in/around any issue that skirts on the investigative tissue keeps saying: “a very delicate balance is being navigated”, and “very sensitive approaches” are needed. None of the former -and some remaining embed- officials in the FBI, DOJ, or Special Counsel actors, had any aversion to the use of weaponized politics in their corrupt investigations of President Trump. However, in the current investigation of the former weaponized political investigations the primary avoidance filter is politics. As expressed by almost everyone in and around the issue, any evidence that comes from inside the political silo is considered unusable. This sets up a rather challenging approach… hence the overused “delicate balances” etc. This overlay, the aggressive need not to use political information, is also frustrating.

Some are beginning to question whether it is actually a shield to justify a lack of accountability or institutional preservation. Keep up the pressure, the concerns are valid. The public doesn’t draw distinctions from the origin of evidence. Regardless of whether information comes from HPSCI ranking member Devin Nunes; and/or Senators Grassley, Johnson or Graham (political silo); or from the DOJ itself via John Bash, Jeff Jensen or John Durham; the public is absorbing all it. However, the current AG Barr instructions imply the non use of evidence emanating from the political silo in very direct terms.

Read more …

And here is lawyer/prosecutor “Shipwreckedcrew” at Red State.

John Brennan Was Put in a Completely Legitimate Perjury Trap (RS)

Shapiro’s statement claims that Brennan was told by Durham that he is neither a “target” nor “subject,” and that he is only a witness to events under review. Maybe that’s true, but it does not sound true to me. And the statement does not say that comment was made to Brennan yesterday before the interview took place. I can say that I had several occasions during my career as a prosecutor where criminal defense lawyers asked me similar questions about their client in response to an interview request. I can’t say that I always refused to answer, but as a general matter my response was something that I learned when I was starting out from more experienced federal prosecutors —

“Counsel, this interview today is voluntary. Your client is free to leave right now, and answer none of the questions we have. He’s free to stop answering questions at any time while the interview is underway. He’s free to ask to take a break, step outside the room with you, and then return to answer the question or not answer the question. What does he want to do?” John Brennan could have been questioned before a grand jury, without the presence of his attorney in the room. That would be true IF, as suggested by Shapiro’s statement, Brennan was only a “witness”. To explain that, let’s take a moment to address the whole “Target” v. “Subject” v. “Witness” construct the press is so happy to report about.

Labeling an individual a “target” has a clear meaning in federal criminal prosecutions. It refers to someone about whom the prosecutor believes there is already sufficient admissible evidence to seek an indictment from a grand jury, and obtain a conviction at trial. The investigation is ongoing, but the grand jury already has identified a “target” for eventual prosecution. Anyone who is “not a target” is — “not a target”. There is no other “classification” of individuals with meaning. Many people in the business toss around the term “subject”, but that is a “made-up” classification that does not exist. I have received “Subject” letters from prosecutors on behalf of clients, but those all involve a request to interview my client.

A “Target” letter is different. When you receive a “Target” letter it advises you that a federal grand jury has already received evidence upon which criminal charges may be issued in the future. It advises the “Target” that they should seek counsel, and if they cannot afford counsel they should contact the Federal Defender’s Office in their district for legal representation. Once they have secured counsel, their lawyer should contact the prosecutor to discuss the matter. The purpose behind a “subject” letter is merely to instill fear in the recipient and to “encourage” them to talk about others before others talk about them — as information from others might push them closer to the “target” category. Unwitting lawyers think there is meaning behind the “subject” designation but there is not.

Fear is a great motivator. “Doing unto others before they do unto you” is sort of a universal maxim among the idiot criminal class. So if you are not a “target” — meaning there isn’t sufficient evidence at this time to charge you with a crime — then by default you are a “witness.” But “witnesses” can, and often do talk themselves into being “targets” during such interviews. That was the purpose of the interview, Mr. Brennan, not because you have some wonderful insights to provide Mr. Durham and his investigators to make their job easier.

Read more …

This is not even about the mail-in votes yet. There better be a very clear winner in November, or else.

550,000 Primary Absentee Ballots Rejected In 2020, Far Outpacing 2016 (NPR)

An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year’s presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR. That’s far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time. Election experts said first-time absentee voters are much more likely to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to rejected ballots. Studies also show that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count. Most absentee or mail-in ballots are rejected because required signatures are missing or don’t match the one on record, or because the ballot arrives too late.

“If something goes wrong with any of this, that’s a problem writ large, but it’s also going to be one that hits some populations of the United States a bit harder than others, potentially disenfranchises different groups of folks at higher rates,” said Rob Griffin of the Democracy Fund, which is conducting a sweeping survey of the 2020 electorate with researchers at UCLA. Griffin said, so far, about a quarter of those who voted in person in the last election say they plan to vote by mail this November. The same is true for those who have never voted before and will be casting their first ballots in this year’s election. The numbers compiled by NPR are almost certainly an underestimate since not all states have made the information on rejected mail-in ballots available.

Even with limited data, the implications are considerable. NPR found that tens of thousands of ballots have been rejected in key battleground states, where the outcome in November — for the presidency, Congress and other elected positions — could be determined by a relatively small number of votes. For example, President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by almost 23,000 votes. More than 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected in the state’s presidential primary in April. More than 37,000 primary ballots were also rejected in June in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by just over 44,000 votes.

Read more …

US intelligence and the Wolfowitz/Brzezinski neocon cabal have severely compromised US national security for decades, only to funnel trillions towards US arms manufacturers, who today produce second rate weapons to boot. It is high time to stop this. Security is much better served by dialogue.

US Spies’ Obsession With RT Comes Full Circle In Senate Report (RT)

Reading the final Senate Intelligence Committee report on ‘Russian meddling’ in US elections, it’s obvious they believe RT is the Christmas tree at its center, with WikiLeaks, troll bots, third parties etc. merely the ornaments. The US establishment’s obsession with RT dates all the way back to March 2011, when then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton complained about the US “losing… the information war.” The infamous Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on ‘Russian meddling’ from January 2017 devoted more than a quarter of its total volume to RT – seven out of 25 pages, to be precise. It was so obvious, even reporters with intimate inside knowledge of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) were skeptical.

The ICA was based on the CIA-FBI-NSA-ODNI claim that “RT is the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” Yet the bulk of its ‘evidence’ consisted of 2012 ‘open source’ research that was entirely irrelevant to the 2016 election. That pattern is now repeated in the latest SSCI report, in which RT is referenced more than 100 times. Published on Tuesday, the 966-page behemoth almost seems intended to discourage reading. It’s not difficult to see why: the report basically regurgitates every single assertion made over the past four years of ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy-mongering, with insinuation and innuendo doing a lot of the heavy lifting. For example, the word “likely” appears nearly 140 times throughout the report, while “almost certainly” appears 21 times.

One such assertion is that WikiLeaks and its senior leadership “resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors,” which is backed by circular reasoning: media reports, and then US laws based on them. This is followed by the assertion that RT has “provided both beneficial coverage of WikiLeaks and a formal, compensated media platform for [Julian] Assange.” Assange hosted a 12-episode interview show for RT in 2012, called World Tomorrow. This is the sole basis for the SSCI to assert the existence of an “alliance between RT and WikiLeaks” that is somehow “part of the Russian government’s overall strategy to use its state-controlled media to undermine US democratic institutions.”

Straining to prove the existence of this ‘alliance,’ the SSCI literally resurrects the completely debunked conspiracy theory that during the October 2016 release of the Podesta emails, “RT announced WikiLeaks releases on Twitter prior to WikiLeaks making that announcement itself.” As both WikiLeaks and RT have repeatedly clarified, the content of Podesta6 and Podesta15 releases had been posted on the website, but not yet announced on Twitter. RT journalists were monitoring the website, saw the upload, and reported on it – as journalists are supposed to do. That hasn’t stopped Western media, pundits and politicians from making a crazy conspiracy theory out of it, obviously.

The committee doesn’t stop there, however. They also argue that RT’s “efforts to impugn the US democratic process involve its support for third-party candidates and pushing messaging that ‘the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’” You heard it right, reporting on the existence of parties beyond Democrats and Republicans is somehow impugning democracy. Never mind that this quote is actually from the 2012 annex of the ICA, though it is used here to discuss RT’s “support” for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016. That alleged support consisted of hosting a Green Party debate on a RT America show, and inviting Stein to RT’s anniversary receptions in New York and Moscow.

Read more …

An unnecessary step too far, if you ask me. It should have said the odds that he was poisoned are very slim. Other than that, yes, Navalny is a dimwitted CIA puppet whom Putin doesn’t mind at all having around.

Navalny Was Not Poisoned (MoA)

On Thursday morning the Russian rightwing and racist rabble rouser Alexey Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow. He eventually went into a coma. The plane had to be rerouted for an emergency stop in Omsk. Navalny was brought into a clinic and put on a ventilator. Meanwhile his spokeswomen Kira Yarmysh claimed, without evidence, that Navalny had been poisoned: Yarmysh believes Navalny, who showed no symptoms prior to the flight, was “poisoned with something mixed into his tea” as it was “the only thing he drank this morning.” In the middle of the journey, she wrote later, he began sweating, went to the toilet, and apparently lost consciousness for a period. RIA Novosti reported that Navalny did not eat or drink anything on the flight.

The doctors in the intensive care unit in Omsk had difficulties to stabilize Navalny. A number of tests were made but no poisons were found. Yesterday evening the patient had stabilized. On request of his family he was transported to Germany where he is currently undergoing treatment. The hospital in Omsk said that Navalny had experienced severe hypoglycemia: The head physician of the Omsk emergency hospital, Alexander Murakhovsky, said that Alexei Navalny’s condition was caused by a sharp drop in blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is also known as diabetic shock: “When a person experiences diabetic shock, or severe hypoglycemia, they may lose consciousness, have trouble speaking, and experience double vision. Early treatment is essential because blood sugar levels that stay low for too long can lead to seizures or diabetic coma.”

Hypoglycemia can sometimes happen rapidly and may even occur when a person follows their diabetes treatment plan. A diabetic shock happens when someone with diabetes has taken too much insulin or has eaten too little. My father had diabetes and I have seen him experiencing this problem several times. He always carried a piece of sugar with him to use it as soon as he felt the first symptoms. My mother taught me the basic first aid I would have to to apply should my father be unable to help himself. Thankfully I never had to use it. It is important that the measures are taken immediately. A prolonged coma can lead to brain damage. As Navalny was on a plane up in the air it took quite a while to get him into a hospital. His prolonged coma may have created additional damage to his body.

People with diabetes usually learn how to control their blood sugar level. I have found no information that Navalny actually has diabetes but that does not say much as it is not something people usually talk about. I am not aware of any medication or poison that rapidly lowers the blood sugar level and can be applied secretly. It would also be stupid to use such in an attempt to kill someone as the attacked person simply has to eat something to negate the effect. The ‘western’ media jumped onto the ‘Navalny was poisoned’ claim to heap the usual trash on Russia. They also claimed that Navalny is the ‘opposition leader’ in Russia even as he polls at 2% which is lower than the leader of the communist party and several other real opposition politicians. Nor is Navalny a ‘liberal’. He is a rightwing nationalist and racist who sees Cechen and other non-Russian people as cockroaches that should be killed.

Read more …

Start talking to Russia and this, too, can be over.

US Sanctions Devastate Syria’s People And Post-War Reconstruction (Maté)

JOSHUA LANDIS: Well, the sanctions are…the stated reason for the sanctions is that they are to…they’re to force the Assad regime to accept UN resolutions, which call for free elections—free and fair elections—to end the sectarian form of government, and to start a political process that the Special Envoy to the United States, James Jeffrey, has said would lead to Assad leaving power. So, in a sense, this is regime change. He has said it’s not about regime change, and the Trump administration people say we don’t insist on regime change; we want a radical change of regime behavior. But we know that’s not going to happen. Assad has won the war, and these sanctions end up, you know, immiserating the Syrian people, is what it…you know, Assad is going to be able to eat three square meals a day, he can fly it in if he has to, he’s not going to be made miserable.

There are a lot of Syrian opposition members that see this as a way to punish Assad. James Jeffrey has, in his downtime, has said this…his job is really about turning Syria into a quagmire for Russian and Iran. So, those are the three different agendas, really, to punish Assad, to try to carry out some kind of regime change, and perhaps ignite this UN sanct…you know, these UN resolutions that are supposed to bring about a political process, and then also turn Syria into a quagmire so it becomes a millstone around the necks of Russia and Iran. And those, you know, those policies are not going…are not really going to be achieved. Russia has made Syria a key factor in its foreign policy. It’s not going to abandon Syria, and Syria doesn’t cost them that much.

There’s not going to be a public uprising against Assad. Many people have said, oh, some Druze were demonstrating this and that, but Assad has put down the opposition and has won a civil…very bloody civil war. He’s not going to be overthrown by some demonstrations today, and he’s not going to be moved by Western sanctions. So, this…the result of these policies is going to be to starve Syrians, increase instability in Syria, send Syrians [as] more refugees…waves of refugees out into the West, and probably to promote terrorism, because their people will be so poor and unhappy. So, it’s not good for American foreign policy, I think, in the long run. It’s not good for Syrians. It’s not good for humanitarian interests.

Read more …

This is going to take a very long time to resolve in any possible way. What’s going to happen to these people in the meantime?

The Real Huge Jobs Numbers Will Make Your Blood Run Cold (Snider)

There is simply no way to spin these figures as anything good. Not just the usual ones were talk about here, but more so some new data that you probably haven’t seen before. Beginning with the regular, it doesn’t matter that the level of initial jobless claims has declined substantially over the past few weeks. The fact of the matter is after 22 weeks of dislocation, at least eleven of them under reopening, these continue to rip along at around 1 million per week. One million. We’d never seen so much as 700k before (though the labor market is getting into the top range of 1981-82 adjusting for population, as if that’s some good thing). Forget about the first half of the contraction (which the shutdown caused) and just focus on this second set of weeks since early May.

There’s no way to describe them, more than double anything we’ve ever seen before. Not shutdown but the visible display of economic damage. The rebound isn’t being very bouncy, for one thing, no matter how many gigantic gobs of purported “stimulus” has been thrown at the economy. It ain’t stimulating. The number of jobs still being lost this late into it is unthinkable; historic. I wrote a couple days ago about another key factor which appears to be what the productivity estimates have revealed; the terrifying possibility that though there’s been more job losses than at any time in history there may not yet have been enough of the longer-run variety to balance business perceptions of far lower post-GFC potential.

“Before even getting to July, this divergence between hours and headline payrolls had already suggested that companies may have been holding on to more workers than the decline in output would’ve demanded. In other words, the level of output and actual work performed had declined more than the reduction in headcounts, by a lot more, leaving us to suspect businesses were holding back a sort of reserve of their own workers (who were still on the books but idle nonetheless) having them at-the-ready for when reopening got started.”

Read more …

Jeffrey A. Tucker at the American Institute for Economic Research gets a lot right, but some things awfully wrong (common flu is a coronavirus?! That hurts!).

In a world with zero preparedness and zero competence, politicians hide behind each other and state they only follow science, because that is an even better shield against criticism.

Governments Are Faking It, and Copying Each Other (AIER)

A mystery for months is how it is that so many governments in so many different places on earth could have adopted the same or very similar preposterous policies, no matter the threat level of the virus, and without firm evidence that interventions had any hope of being effective. In the course of two weeks, traditional freedoms were zapped away in nearly all developed countries. In a seriously bizarre twist, even the silliest policies replicated themselves like a virus in country after country. For example, you can’t try on clothing in a store in Texas or in Melbourne, or in London or in Kalamazoo. What’s with that? We know that the COVID bug is least likely to live on fabrics unless I have symptoms of it, sneeze on my handkerchief and then I stuff it in your mouth.

[..] I invite you to examine a very interesting study published by the National Academy of Sciences: Explaining the homogeneous diffusion of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions across heterogeneous countries. A clearer title might be: how so many governments behaved so stupidly at once. The theory they posit seems highly realistic to me:

“We analyze the adoption of nonpharmaceutical interventions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries during the early phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the complexity associated with pandemic decisions, governments are faced with the dilemma of how to act quickly when their core decision-making processes are based on deliberations balancing political considerations. Our findings show that, in times of severe crisis, governments follow the lead of others and base their decisions on what other countries do. Governments in countries with a stronger democratic structure are slower to react in the face of the pandemic but are more sensitive to the influence of other countries. We provide insights for research on international policy diffusion and research on the political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This seems to fit with what I’ve seen anecdotally. These guys in charge are mostly attorneys with specializations in bamboozling voters. And the “public health authorities” advising them can get credentials in the field without ever having studied much less practiced medicine. So what do they do? They copy other governments, as a way of covering up their ignorance. As the study says: ” While our paper cannot judge what an “optimal” adoption timing would be for any country, it follows, from our findings of what appears to be international mimicry of intervention adoptions, that some countries may have adopted restrictive measures rather sooner than necessary. If that is the case, such countries may have incurred excessively high social and economic costs, and may experience problems sustaining restrictions for as long as is necessary due to lockdown fatigue.”

Which is to say: the closures, lockdowns, and imposed stringency measures were not science. It was monkey see, monkey do. The social psychology experiments on conformity help explain this better than anything else. They see some governments doing things and decide to do them too, as a way of making sure they are avoiding political risk, regardless of the cost. ” Why did so many governments go so nuts at once, disregarding their own laws, traditions, and values by bludgeoning their own people with the excuse of science that has turned out to be almost completely bogus? Some people claim conspiracy but a much simpler answer might be that, in their ignorance and stupor, they copied each other out of fear.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 222020
 
 August 22, 2020  Posted by at 10:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Steve Schapiro Robert Kennedy US Presidential Campaign 1968

 

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)
Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)
Where’s Tulsi? (RT)
This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)
The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)
Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )
Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)
AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)
What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)
Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

 

 

Passing 800,000 deaths globally is a sad milestone again, but US new cases had their best week since the end of June, so that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postmaster

 

 

Not sure every single person will see this as a reassuring message.

Amazing how little the man has to say who pretends to aid the entire world. When PPE corruption is one of your main talking points…

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in under two years. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 took two years to overcome. But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”. “Of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading,” he said. “But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity”.


The deadly flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people. The coronavirus has so far killed almost 800,000 people and infected 22.7 million more. Dr Tedros also responded to a question about corruption relating to personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, which he described as “criminal”. “Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” he answered. “However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”

Read more …

Well she actually said “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates..” But then, in states with lower case rates it should be even safer…

Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)

The doctor coordinating the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she believes it will be safe for voters to go to the polls in November. “Well, I can tell you it has been safe for me to go to Starbucks and pick up my order,” Dr. Deborah Birx told Just The News in an interview when asked about in-person voting. Birx has been traveling the country by car and one of her practices is to visit as many Starbucks as she can in an attempt to gauge whether people are wearing masks and socially distancing. She said her coffee experiences in states that have higher than normal COVID-19 cases, has led her to a conclusion about voting. “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates, then I can’t say that it would be different waiting in line in the polls,” Birx said.

Of course, she cautions that masks must be worn and social distancing must be adhered to. “I know there’s a way but you really do have to pay attention,” she added. Birx spoke Friday afternoon at the White House on a myriad of topics. While much of the discussion centered on vaccines and a potential timetable for a return to normal, she also revealed something personal: she’s been a victim of harassment and threats via technology. “I do get death threats, and I get text messages that are horrific,” she said. “I get stuff sent to my home where my daughters are that is shocking and their phones get shocking messages. All of that has been happening since March.”

In a way, Birx has a thankless job as she tries to navigate not just the reality of a deadly virus but the political realities as well. Most of the criticism has come from liberal Democrats who have criticized her for not doing enough to set the record straight on some of the president’s medical claims. Birx, who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades, said she will soldier on. “You just have to stay true to your own personal values,” she said. “I’ve never been asked to cross that line. I believe when people look back that they’ll find out that I personally never crossed that line.”

Read more …

The Tulsi treatment is the state of the DNC in a nutshell. Cancel culture at its finest, advertized as unity. And Bernie, AOC, Tulsi swallow it all.

Where’s Tulsi? (RT)

This week’s Democratic virtual gathering to nominate the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket for the November election was a triumph of party centrism over the progressive wing. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given a whopping 90 seconds to nominate Bernie Sanders in a technical procedure, and no members of her ‘squad’ were given the stage. Instead, a parade of speakers from both parties told Americans that replacing Donald Trump with Biden was the single most important task at hand. One other party outsider was noticeably absent at the convention. Tulsi Gabbard, the representative for Hawaii, was snubbed despite remaining in the primary race right until Biden’s imminent victory and winning two delegates.

In those metrics, she performed better than VP nominee Harris herself. Yet Gabbard “was not invited to participate in any way”, she confirmed on Twitter. Frankly speaking, she would have been welcomed at the convention about as gladly as evil witch Maleficent at the birthday party of Sleeping Beauty. Once considered a rising political star and given the same duty to nominate Sanders in 2016 as AOC this year, Gabbard has become a pariah in her own party over the past two years. Apparently, the Democratic leadership would rather give a platform to someone who helped lie the country into the 2003 Iraq invasion than to a woman who calls for an end to forever wars, some commenters noted. During the campaign, Gabbard stepped on quite a few toes. Going after Harris’s prosecutorial record was arguably the moment the California senator’s bid for presidency went sideways.

Guest of honor Pete Buttigieg, described by Biden as the future of the party, would probably not appreciate her either. After all, after he brought up her infamous trip to Syria during a debate, Gabbard gave him a lecture on the importance of talking to your adversaries. [..] The redbait smearing of Gabbard began early in her campaign. In February 2019, NBC declared her a “Russian favorite” based on the opinion of New Knowledge, the shady firm best known for fabricating a ‘Russian influence campaign’ during the 2017 Senate special election in Alabama. In October, the same attack was launched from the very top of the party establishment, as Hillary Clinton claimed the Kremlin was “grooming” Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate.

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1296591920538550273

Read more …

“As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain.”

This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)

Save a few protests from frustrated Sanders delegates, the convention was a pristine spectacle of celebrity-driven, limousine liberalism at its most cartoonish and out of touch. No one expected a politician like Clinton to remake herself as a populist figure. But the four-day elite love-in — hosted, no less, at a convention center bearing the name of one of the world’s biggest banks — was so dripping with Ivy League pretension and Hollywood glam that it looked more like an awards show than a democratic appeal to the citizens of a republic. November was still three, potentially perilous months away, and — despite a year of unexpected populist insurgencies from both the Left and right — Democrats were already measuring the drapes for an indefinite future residency in the White House.

When November finally did come, their complacency would be punished with the single greatest political upset in modern history. In more ways than one, this year’s DNC evoked an ominous feeling of deja vu. True enough, the context is very different. This time, Donald Trump is the incumbent president and America is in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Contra Clinton, the party’s nominee was merely the final centrist standing among what was this time a vast field of candidates rallying to neutralize Sanders — and, unlike its last standard-bearer, he was more the establishment’s measure of last resort than its first choice.

Notwithstanding these differences, the parallels between this week’s convention and the gilded spectacular of 2016 are difficult to overlook. Yet again, Democrats are headed into a consequential election with a Wall Street–friendly ticket raking in millions from financial concerns and doing its utmost to signal it has minimal interest in honoring key campaign pledges.

As in 2016, party leaders feel they can openly flaunt their contempt for a progressive left that has nowhere else to go while putting their chips on anti-Trump Republicans and conservative suburbanites (to that end, John Kasich and Colin Powell were featured prominently on the schedule while the Democrats’ brightest star got just over one minute).

With the state of the country inarguably worse than it was in 2016, this formula somehow looks even more out of touch than it did four years ago. During a moment of national reckoning with racism and police violence following the brutal murder of George Floyd, Democrats opted to give the architect of stop-and-frisk a prime-time speaking slot. As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain. Despite giving a speech that exceeded most expectations, their tribune is a candidate whose ability to win is privately doubted even by the people who proved most critical to his nomination.

Read more …

“With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them.”

The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)

Do we really have to worry about the Postal Service? That’s the latest faux controversy to dominate our political debate. It’s a sign of our times that even the mail system isn’t without controversy. As usual, there’s plenty of blame to go around on how we got into this mess. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reasonable to presume we need more absentee voting. Packing voters into overcrowded indoor polling places with long lines is not a good idea. Our government and politicians of all stripes have a duty to promote free and fair elections whether in person or absentee. That shouldn’t be a controversial idea. At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about universal mail-in voting.

Absentee voting is different. With absentee voting, a specific voter requests his or her specific ballot to vote by mail. That system has been used for years and — especially in the states doing it best — it works pretty well. Universal mail-in voting is different. With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them. Some places even allow for “ballot harvesting,” where a third party can collect ballots for many people and file them in bulk. This system has not traditionally been used widely, and it raises legitimate concerns over voter fraud. A 2018 North Carolina congressional election was in fact overturned after a state probe found that a Republican operative illegally collected ballots with forged signatures and filled in votes.

The Postal Service controversy falls in the midst of the very legitimate debate. We should all be able to agree that to the extent mail-in voting is used — the absentee variety would be my preference — the Postal Service has to be able to handle its role to ensure a fair election in a reasonable time frame. The Postal Service — which is supposed to operate independently based on funding from the postal fees it charges — has been losing money for years. Due to email and other forms of communication, we send about 30% fewer letters each year than we did just a decade ago. To combat this, the Postal Service has been reducing its operating costs. That all makes sense. Now comes the controversy part. There are three drivers contributing to it. Two are self-inflected by the Republicans, and one — likely the biggest — is being driven pretty disingenuously by the Democrats.

First, it would have made sense to pause some Postal Service operating cuts as it became more and more clear after COVID-19 that we were going to rely more on the mail this election cycle than in any other. Taking mail sorting machines out of service and cutting back on mailboxes that are less used may not be the best moves when you know the mail will be crucial for a national election. A pause in operating cuts makes sense in case the equipment is needed for real, substantive reasons — to ensure a fair and timely election — and also to induce confidence among the American people that our sacred right to vote will not be abridged due to the pandemic. This is exactly the justification the Postal Service provided this week when they finally announced such a pause. It was, of course, too late to stem the controversy.

Second, as is the case with so many controversies of this era, President Donald Trump did not do himself any favors with his comments on the matter. Trump said he opposed more money for the Postal Service because without that money, “You can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” The president is not wrong to question universal mail-in voting, but his statement that he was going to unilaterally in effect stop it through a holdup of postal funds only added fire to Democrats’ claims that he was against taking steps to have a fair election during the pandemic.

Read more …

Read of the day. Excellent. Where it all comes together.

Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )

The Best Defense… is a good offense, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of its study — call it “Mueller (Enhanced)” — and the propaganda fanfare — come at a key point in the Russiagate/Spygate imbroglio. It also came, curiously, as the Democratic Convention was beginning, as if the Republican-controlled Senate was sending Trump a message. One chief worry, of course, derives from the uncertainty as to whether John Durham, the US Attorney investigating those FBI and other officials who launched the Trump-Russia investigation will let some heavy shoes drop before the election. Barr has said he expects “developments in Durham’s investigation hopefully before the end of the summer.”

FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith already has decided to plead guilty to the felony of falsifying evidence used to support a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveillance to spy on Trump associate Carter Page. It is abundantly clear that Clinesmith was just a small cog in the deep-state machine in action against candidate and then President Trump. And those running the machine are well known. The president has named names, and Barr has made no bones about his disdain for what he calls spying on the president. The cognoscenti and the big fish themselves may be guessing that Trump/Barr/Durham will not throw out heavier lines for former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for example.

But how can they be sure? What has become clear is that the certainty they all shared that Hillary Clinton would be the next president prompted them not only to take serious liberties with the Constitution and the law, but also to do so without taking rudimentary steps to hide their tracks. The incriminating evidence is there. And as Trump becomes more and more vulnerable and defensive about his ineptness — particularly with regard to Covid-19 — he may summon the courage to order Barr and Durham to hook the big fish, not just minnows like Clinesmith. The neuralgic reality is that no one knows at this point how far Trump will go. To say that this kind of uncertainty is unsettling to all concerned is to say the obvious.

So, the stakes are high — for the Democrats, as well — and, not least, the LSM. In these circumstances it would seem imperative not just to circle the wagons but to mount the best offense/defense possible, despite the fact that virtually all the ammunition (as in the Senate report) is familiar and stale (“enhanced” or not). Black eyes might well be in store for the very top former law enforcement and intelligence officials, the Democrats, and the LSM — and in the key pre-election period. So, the calculation: launch “Mueller Report (Enhanced)” and catapult the truth now with propaganda, before it is too late.

Read more …

NATO is not capable of fighting Russia. But it can wage a one-sided domestic disinformation war.

Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)

Confrontation with Russia has become the sole reason for NATO’s existence, and this encourages instability in Europe, creating artificial dividing lines on the continent. That’s according to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The veteran diplomat told the Moscow daily Trud that everyone knows there are no real threats to security in Europe but that NATO needs to invent them in order to keep itself relevant. Lavrov also drew attention to the fact that Russia has repeatedly proposed measures to reduce tensions and reduce the risk of incidents on the continent. “Now, just like during the Cold War, fighting Russia on all fronts, including information and propaganda, has become the alliance’s reason for existence,” he explained.

“NATO has deployed extensive resources on the eastern flank, near our borders, including conducting exercises and improving military infrastructure.” “The alliance continues to expand its area of military and political influence, inviting all new countries under its ‘umbrella’ under the pretext of protecting them from Russia,” he added. Lavrov further explained that the alliance adheres to the line of “containment and dialogue” in relations with Russia, although “as a result, there is practically no place for a real and open dialogue on pressing problems.” In the same interview, the foreign minister accused Ukrainian authorities of not hiding their desire to use the conflict in the Donbass to preserve European Union sanctions pressure on Russia, by not fulfilling their obligations under the Minsk Agreements.

According to him, Kiev takes advantage of the fact that the EU continues to link the issue of improving relations between the bloc and Russia with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which Russia is not a party. “Alas, this artificial and short-sighted link persists to this day – to the great satisfaction of the Kiev authorities, which not only do not fulfill their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures, but also make no secret of their desire to use the unresolved conflict to maintain sanctions pressure against Russia,” Lavrov said.

Read more …

If Barr continues to fiddle on the Durham report, Trump may do it anyway.

AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)

Once again President Trump’s anti-establishment and ‘anti-deep state’ instincts look like they’ll be promptly reigned in by those around him. He shocked leaders in Congress and within his own administration when one week ago he mused openly in a New York Post interview that maybe Edward Snowden should be pardoned. In follow-up he said at a press briefing last Saturday “There are many, many people – it seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.” And further that: “I’m going to take a very good look at it.” The president raised eyebrows and anxiety across the D.C. beltway with his unprecedented remarks.

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” he had initially told NY Post, before adding: “Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.” This immediately raised hopes among those that hail the NSA leaker as a whistleblower who exposed deeply unconstitutional surveillance of the domestic populace that he might one day soon see freedom. But now Attorney General William Barr is throwing cold water on such a bold prospect, saying to the Associated Press on Friday that he’d be “vehemently opposed” to any initiative to pardon Snowden, who remains on the run from US authorities – but given asylum in Russia.

If he were to return to the United States he would face severe charges related to the Espionage Act and spilling of state secrets, which would certainly bring life imprisonment. “He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” Barr said in the new comments. Interestingly, Trump’s own view as expressed years ago was that Snowden was a “traitor”. Barr’s latest comments frame Snowden’s actions as motivated by money and fame, and not of out of a sense of patriotism or concern for upholding the Constitution: “He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that,” Barr added firmly. Recall that last year the DOJ under Barr fought to ensure that Snowden wouldn’t see any money generated from US sales of his tell-all book Permanent Record.

Read more …

Japan has been quiet, it’s true.

What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)

Earlier this morning, there has been a couple of Japanese data releases. Japanese consumer price inflation was unexciting with a rate at 0% YoY. While we see some relative price changes in many countries, the basic story for the moment is that inflation will remain low in most countries. In addition, Japan National Tourism Organization has published its latest data regarding the flow of foreign visitors in July. Basically, it shows what a nation cut off from the rest of the world looks like. The flow of foreign visitors in Japan published by Japan National Tourism Organization is out this morning. The country was supposed to welcome an unprecedented number of Olympic fans from all around the world just about now, but the pandemic has turned everything upside down.

Arrivals of foreign visitors plunge 99% YoY in July, at 3,800 individuals (slightly up compared to the previous month, when it stood at 2,600 individuals). For the sake of comparison, at the beginning of the year, the country recorded more than 2.6 million foreign visitors in a month’s time. Whilst the country expected to draw around 40 million visitors this year, the final number for 2020 might fall to 7-8 million at best, which would represent a drop of 80% compared to the target. Over the past years, the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP has significantly increased, to reach 7% in 2019, on the back of government’s incentives to promote foreign tourism via marketing push overseas and eased visa requirements.


The COVID-19 constitutes a serious setback for the government’s hopes for tourism and it is unlikely that the recent campaign to spur domestic tourism launched on July 22 will offset losses generated by the drop in the flow of foreign visitors. Considering the number of new COVID-19 cases has sharply increased since mid-July and that many countries at global level are facing the acute risk of second wave, the country is not expected to reopen to foreigners anytime soon and will probably postpone initial plans to let foreign students and businessmen return.

Read more …

Well, speak out then. A lot louder than this.

Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has said the ongoing US extradition case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “disturbing” and “has worrying implications for all journalists”. And he has said it is “surprising” that more don’t share his concerns. While Assange has garnered support from a range of campaigning groups for his plight, the response from journalists and the news industry in the UK has been relatively muted. Rusbridger was editor of the Guardian for 20 years, leaving in 2015. Under his editorship the paper worked with Wikileaks on the 2010 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and, a few years later, the Snowden Files. [..] Any charges against Assange relating to journalistic activity, such as the publishing of material in the public interest, “should be dropped”, Rusbridger told Press Gazette.

[..] Rusbridger said that while Assange had done things he can’t defend, and which “stray beyond the conventional definition of journalism”, the Australian is not “all good or all bad”. “When you stand back and say, well, whatever we think of Assange, what he is being targeted for is the same or similar as many journalists have done, then it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists” Rusbridger said the precedent set by the UK of allowing someone to be extradited for prosecution under another country’s official secrets laws could ultimately be used by regimes to target British journalists who report on sensitive information about foreign powers. “It’s quite a disturbing thing that we should send somebody to another country for supposedly breaking their laws on secrecy. If journalists are not concerned by that, then I think they should be,” he said.

“The danger here is that if everyone sort of shrugs and leaves Assange to his fate and this sets some kind of judicial precedent, then the next time… a journalist on the Sunday Times writes about a secret Israeli weapons system, as has happened in the past, the Israelis say ‘well actually that breaches our Official Secrets Act, under the Assange precedent we now ask for this person to be returned to our country so we can prosecute them’. “You could see how what seems like a sort of tangential case involving somebody that I know lots of journalists don’t really regard as a proper journalist suddenly becomes something that has set a very alarming precedent.”

On the question of whether Assange is a journalist, Rusbridger said he was “one of these complicated figures that we’ve never had to deal with before the 21st Century” and had “many identities”. He said Assange clearly did “some things that are journalistic”, pointing in particular to the Collateral Murder video that showed a US air attack in Iraq that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters media workers. “Any newspaper would have been thrilled to run that story,” said Rusbridger. “It was a really, truly shocking story in the public interest. “So that was clearly journalism, but [Assange is] also an activist, he’s a publisher, he’s a kind of impresario, he is a whistleblower, he’s a kind of information anarchist, and so that that makes him very difficult to categorise or to work out what our attitude to him is.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 302020
 


Elliot Erwitt New York 1955

 

Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Imminent (R.)
3/4 of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Have Heart Damage Months Later (People)
Brazil Hits Record Daily Coronavirus Cases, Fatalities (R.)
Fauci Recommends Eye Protection To Prevent Contracting Coronavirus (Axios)
Political Talks Stall In US On Next Round Of Coronavirus Spending (AlJ)
A $10 Trillion Corporate Debt Bomb Is Waiting to Explode the US Economy (NW)
China Needs ‘Explosive’ Buying To Meet US Farm Import Target (R.)
Russia and China Speed Up De-Dollarization Process (RT)
Private Feds Cash In on Unusual Contempt Case (CN)
The New Fight to Hold Purdue, the Sacklers Accountable for Opioid Crisis (IC)
Court Revives Ashley Judd’s Sexual Harassment Case vs Harvey Weinstein (R.)
House Dems Say Barr Was Sexist, Hostile at Hearing (WFB)
Flynn Attorney’s Twitter Account Partially Suspended Over HCQ Tweet (WE)
Assange Indictment: Old Wine in Older Bottles (OffG)

 

 

One of those days where we can see how much is wrong with the so-called US justice system. Ashley Judd has her case vs Weinstein narrowly re-installed, a judge has a private law firm take over the role of the state in the case of a lawyer who helped Ecuadorians vs Chevron, Purdue’s owners declare bankruptcy -after siphoning off billions- to escape scrutiny for 450,000 opioid deaths, it’s all in a day’s work. And that’s before we even look at the travesty that is the case vs Assange.

 

 

Afraid the world set a new all-time high. US didn’t, but deaths keep rising. Brazil set records in both categories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Setser

 

 

“..prompted some Western media to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before solid science and safety ..

As opposed to profit, you mean?

Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Imminent (R.)

Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to frontline health workers soon afterwards, a development source close to the matter told Reuters. A state research facility in Moscow – the Gamaleya Institute – completed early human trials of the adenovirus-based vaccine this month and expects to begin large-scale trials in August. The vaccine will win regulatory approval from authorities in Russia while that large-scale trial continues, the source said, highlighting Moscow’s determination to be the first country in the world to approve a vaccine.


The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out the vaccine has prompted some Western media to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before solid science and safety. “(Regulatory) approval will be in the first two weeks of August,” the development source said. “August 10 is the expected date, but it will definitely be before August 15. All (trial) results so far are highly positive.” The source added that Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon after the vaccine receives the regulatory approval.

Read more …

Not the same studies as the other day. I don’t recall seeing “viral replication” mentioned before.

3/4 of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Have Heart Damage Months Later (People)

Well over half a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are learning more about the virus that was initially believed to be only a respiratory illness. Over time, it’s become clear that COVID-19 attacks far more than just the lungs, and new research indicates that it can leave lasting heart damage, even in formerly healthy people who have recovered from the initial symptoms. Two new studies, both from Germany, examined the effects of COVID-19 on the heart, with one focusing on recovered patients and the other on older victims of the virus. The first study, published Monday in JAMA Cardiology, found that three-quarters of recovered COVID-19 patients were left with structural changes to their hearts, even two months later.

The researchers examined cardiac MRIs from 100 recovered COVID-19 patients between the ages of 45 to 53, and compared them to MRIs of similar people who did not contract the virus. Most of the COVID-19 patients had recovered at home, while 33 had to be hospitalized at some point in their illness. Of the 100 COVID-19 patients, 78 had structural changes to their hearts. Within that group, 76 had a biomarker that is typically found in patients who had a heart attack, and 60 had heart inflammation, called myocarditis. The patients were all “mostly healthy … prior to their illness,” the researchers said. “The patients and ourselves were both surprised by the intensity and prevalence of these findings, and that they were still very pronounced even though the original illness had been by then already a few weeks away,” study co-author Dr. Valentina Puntmann, a consultant physician, cardiologist and clinical pharmacologist at University Hospital Frankfurt in Germany, told UPI.

The second study, also published in JAMA Cardiology, looked at autopsy reports from 39 COVID-19 victims between 78 and 89 years old who died at the start of the pandemic. The researchers found that the virus had infected the heart in 41 percent of the patients. “We see signs of viral replication in those that are heavily infected,” study co-author Dirk Westermann, a cardiologist at the University Heart and Vascular Centre in Hamburg, told Stat. “We don’t know the long-term consequences of the changes in gene expression yet. I know from other diseases that it’s obviously not good to have that increased level of inflammation.” On Sunday, Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez confirmed that he won’t yet start the new MLB season because he is dealing with myocarditis, the heart inflammation found in the first study, in the months after he contracted COVID-19. Rodriguez is currently waiting on further MRI results to see if he can play.

Read more …

Great moment to annnounce foreigners are welcome again – if they have health insurance.

Brazil Hits Record Daily Coronavirus Cases, Fatalities (R.)

Brazil set daily records on Wednesday for new COVID-19 cases and related fatalities, as the world’s second-worst outbreak hurtles toward the milestone of 100,000 dead amid easing lockdowns. Brazil is the country worst hit by COVID-19 outside of the United States in both its death toll and case count. The 69,074 new confirmed cases and 1,595 additional deaths reported by the Health Ministry pushed the country past 2.5 million infections and 90,000 killed. President Jair Bolsonaro has fought against restrictions on economic activity, and the disease has advanced as governors and mayors have yielded to the pressure. In some cases, Brazilians have packed into bars and crowded public squares without masks, often in defiance of local rules.


Last week, Brazil recorded 7,677 deaths from COVID-19, the most fatalities in any week since the pandemic began, defying repeated predictions that the outbreak had peaked. “Brazil is experiencing the worst phase of the pandemic,” said Alexandre Naime, head of the department of infectious diseases at Sao Paulo State University. “Paradoxically, public policy and personal behavior are going in the opposite direction, as if we are not living through a daily tragedy,” he added. Bolsonaro’s government announced Wednesday that it will lift a ban on foreign travelers flying into the country that has been in place since March, so long as they have health insurance coverage for their trip.

Read more …

Piece of advice: you can put him out by the curb now. He’s done. You won’t find even enough stupid Americans to buy into this stuff. 7 months after saying facemasks were not needed, then walking that back, now you need to shield your eyes? Half the nation will just flip him the bird.

Fauci Recommends Eye Protection To Prevent Contracting Coronavirus (Axios)

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told ABC News in an Instagram live discussing the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday evening, “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.” Eye protection is not currently included in formal guidance on COVID-19. The CDC only advises that health care workers use eye protection “in areas with moderate to substantial community transmission.” After ABC’s Jennifer Ashton asked Fauci if he could envision the point where eye protection would be recommended, he replied: “It might, if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces.” Fauci noted that eye protection was “not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can.” He explained that the coronavirus infects mucosal surfaces, like the nose and mouth, along with the eyes. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces,” Fauci added.

Read more …

Can someone explain what is wrong with a temp extension of unemployment benefits and the eviction ban, given that the sides are miles apart?

Political Talks Stall In US On Next Round Of Coronavirus Spending (AlJ)

Talks between United States congressional leaders and the White House on a next round of coronavirus spending stalled on Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested a short-term extension of federal unemployment benefits and a ban on evictions, but Democrats rejected the idea and blamed Republicans for failing rise to the dire moment confronting the nation. “As of now, we’re very far apart,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “And because of that, the president and we have discussed a short-term extension to UI [unemployment insurance] and the evictions so that we have some period to negotiate before this runs out.”

Unemployment insurance benefits of $600 a week and a federal ban on evictions passed by Congress in March and April are expiring at the end of July. Millions of Americans – as much as half the US working population – have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus. Republicans in the US Senate and Democrats in the House of Representatives have proposed between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in new spending to keep the US economy going, but they differ sharply on how to spend the money and on best approaches to the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re looking at a deadline, obviously, of this Friday,” Mnuchin said. “If we can’t reach an agreement by then, the president wants to look at giving us more time to negotiate this.”

The federal government and many state and local governments have imposed temporary bans on evictions, the legal removal of people from their homes when they cannot pay rent or mortgages. The federal eviction ban is expiring, as are many state and local prohibitions on court action to force evictions. “We want to work on the evictions so that people don’t get evicted. We’ll work on the payments for the people. And the rest of it, we’re so far apart, we don’t care. We really don’t care,” Trump said. On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders rejected the idea of a short-term extension of unemployment benefits and the renewal of the eviction ban and blamed Republicans for failing to put forward adequate proposals to meet the crisis.

“We are not accepting that,” the top Democrat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said. “We don’t know why the Republicans come around here with a skinny bill that does nothing to address what’s happening with the virus,” Pelosi told reporters at the US Capitol after meeting with Republicans.

Read more …

Far from over.

A $10 Trillion Corporate Debt Bomb Is Waiting to Explode the US Economy (NW)

Even before the pandemic reached its height, the IMF was warning in January that the world’s largest economies like the U.S. were unprepared for a slowdown. Fast forward half a year, with millions of lost jobs and thousands of businesses gone bankrupt in the U.S. because of the novel coronavirus, the word slowdown is inadequate to describe the scale and speed of the economic collapse. And the pandemic could yet throw another grenade at the economy: A massive corporate debt explosion. The American economy has lived on debt for a long time. The ratio of the total debt of the government, businesses, and consumers relative to GDP has more than doubled since the 1980s. Record-low interest rates following the 2008 financial crisis further swelled the debt significantly.

U.S. companies owe more than $10 trillion, which is nearly half of the country’s 2019 GDP of $21.5 trillion. Taking other forms of business debt into consideration, including partnerships and small businesses, that figure stands at an eye-watering $17 trillion, the Financial Times reported earlier this month. “This increase in debt has contributed to increased economic volatility, and has left the country in a weakened position to deal with shocks such as the current virus,” Robert Goldberg, associate professor of finance and economics at Adelphi University in New York, told Newsweek. In the last few months, this mountain of corporate debt has been compounded by a once-in-a-century event.

Following the lockdown of state and local economies in March, the corporate debt market froze and there was a slump in the issuance of new bonds, in particular for non-investment grade debt. To get bonds flowing again, the Federal Reserve announced a program to support the corporate debt market, which improved liquidity. The Fed’s move to buy $750 billion in corporate debt, and the Main Street lending program making $600 billion in loans to small and mid-sized companies, helped indebted firms avoid bankruptcy. But it also added to the debt pile. Aimed mostly at the investment-grade debt market, the issuance of non-investment grade debt “has skyrocketed” in the last few months, said David Gulley, professor of economics at Bentley University, Massachusetts. “Long term, however, it’s not clear whether the now highly indebted companies will be able to survive, especially in industries like travel and leisure,” he told Newsweek.

This week, the U.S.Travel Association wrote a letter signed by 14 industry leaders asking President Donald Trump and Congress to expand coronavirus testing to revive the struggling travel sector. The association warned the travel sector may produce $1.2 trillion less for the U.S. economy by the end of 2020 than the previous year. Many other sectors are suffering and businesses will be looking for lifelines. “If the defaults become widespread, credit spreads will increase, making it more expensive for companies to raise money to fund operations,” Gulley said. “Additional business shutdowns and layoffs would occur, potentially on a large scale. The longer the economic problems continue, the more likely it is the defaults will begin to pick up, especially in the non-investment grade sector of the debt market.”

Read more …

Co-dependency, a well-known condition in addiction psychology.

China Needs ‘Explosive’ Buying To Meet US Farm Import Target (R.)

With nearly seven months gone, an ambitious $36.5 billion target for Chinese imports of U.S. farm goods this year may not be quite out of reach, but it’s looking like a big, big stretch. By end-May, imports were running behind 2017 levels – rather than 50% ahead as needed – and while orders for China’s main farm import, soybeans, have started to pick up, scorching levels of buying would be needed to hit the mark. Add in a rapid deterioration in U.S.-China relations, an upcoming U.S. election, a global pandemic and questions over just how much soybeans China actually needs, and farmers and analysts say it may be a stretch too far. “It just doesn’t seem likely to me,” said John Payne, senior futures & options broker with Daniels Trading in Chicago.

“If the global economy was more normal then maybe, but you have this whole COVID problem.” Beijing and Washington sealed their Phase 1 trade deal in January after two years of acrimony and a steep slump in imports by one of the biggest buyers of U.S. agricultural goods. Analysts at the time expressed reservations about the farm goods target, which is a quarter above 2013’s all-time high of $29 billion. Still, Chinese buyers stepped up purchases this year of a range of farm imports, sealing record deals in corn and meat imports, prompting some optimism. “If I were to grade them today, we went from a C- to a B, and if it continues maybe we can start to see higher levels. But it needs to be a continual, ongoing affair,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource Co in Chicago.

The chances of meeting the target will be clear in the next few months. Soybeans typically account for about half of China’s U.S. farm imports and the vast bulk of buying comes in the last three months of the year when supplies from top grower Brazil dry up. After a slow start, Chinese importers booked more than $2.5 billion in U.S. soy purchases in just the past eight weeks. “We may be on the verge of really beginning to ramp up sales to China. I think you’re going to start seeing these chunks of soybean sales happening pretty soon because Brazil’s getting close to sold out,” said John Baize, president of consultancy John C. Baize & Associates.

Read more …

Just things they were already doing. Of course they’re not going to use the USD if they can help it. Where it gets interesting is where they can’t help it.

Russia and China Speed Up De-Dollarization Process (RT)

After years of talking about abandoning the US dollar, Russia and China are doing it for real. In the first quarter of 2020, the share of the dollar in trade between the countries fell below 50 percent for the first time. To give an indication of the scale of the adjustment, just four years ago the greenback accounted for over 90 percent of their currency settlements. According to Moscow daily Izvestia, the share has dropped to 46 percent, tumbling from 75 percent in 2018. The 54 percent of non-dollar trade is made up of Chinese yuan (17 percent), the euro (30 percent), and the Russian ruble (7 percent). The dollar’s reduced role in international trade can mainly be blamed on the ongoing trade war between the US and China.


Relations between the two countries have deteriorated even further in 2020, after US politicians accused Beijing of hiding the severity of Covid-19 and President Donald Trump called disease the “China Virus” and “Kung Flu.” In January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Moscow is continuing “its policy aimed at gradual de-dollarization” and is looking to make deals in local currencies, where possible. Lavrov called the rejection of the greenback “an objective response to the unpredictability of US economic policy and the outright abuse by Washington of the dollar’s status as a world reserve currency.”

Read more …

All in the name of Chevron, the judge appoints a private law firm to take the place of the state. Which then pays the firm $250,000 and counting to harass someone accused of a mere misdemeanor, who’s been under house arrest for a year. Only in America. Well, and the UK perhaps.

Private Feds Cash In on Unusual Contempt Case (CN)

With trial still months away, taxpayers have paid more than a quarter-million dollars to a private law firm deputized by a federal judge to convict an environmental attorney of misdemeanors. That is only one of the many oddities of United States v. Steven Donziger, a criminal contempt case against a lawyer defending a more than $9 billion verdict that he helped Ecuadorean villagers obtain against Chevron for oil contamination in the Amazon rainforest in 2011. “So — the punchline is: The government has spent $254,930 to date prosecuting a misdemeanor,” Donziger’s attorney Zoe Littlepage summarized in an email to her co-counsel and her client. “There has been 1,001 hours of work done.”

Obtained exclusively by Courthouse News, billing records from Donziger’s unusual criminal prosecution show how much the white-shoe law firm Seward & Kissel has collected since being appointed as the “government” roughly a year ago in lieu of the Department of Justice. Those bills, for professional services rendered from August 2019 through the end of May this year, have not come with traditional government rates. The firm already has billed nearly 75 times more than the maximum a court-appointed private criminal defense attorney can collect for defending indigent clients facing misdemeanor allegations, and the private prosecution’s billable hours show no signs of abating.

“DOES ANYONE ELSE FIND THIS UNBELIEVABLE,” Littlepage exclaimed in the email dated Monday. Spanning nearly three decades and continents, the legal saga over Ecuadorean pollution has been filled with surprises. Donziger helped rainforest residents and indigenous groups stun much of the world nearly a decade ago with the defeat of Chevron in Ecuador, and the oil giant’s relentless counterattack took unexpected turns in a quest to discredit that verdict as a product of fraud and racketeering. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who ruled for Chevron in 2014, presided over what began as a civil dispute before personally demanding the creation of a criminal one. The Clinton appointee drafted the charge sheet and handpicked the prosecutors. In this next stage, however, it is U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, the former chief of the Southern District, who reigns.

Read more …

Go bankrupt and all claims disappear.

The New Fight to Hold Purdue, the Sacklers Accountable for Opioid Crisis (IC)

When news first broke last September that Purdue Pharma was filing for bankruptcy, many victims of the deadly opioid crisis, for which the company holds immense responsibility, believed there was reason to celebrate. The demise of the privately owned pharmaceutical corporation, the creator of OxyContin, had been the goal of activists, victims, and their families for well over a decade. For those familiar with the vagaries of bankruptcy law, however, it was immediately clear that the Chapter 11 filing was just the latest move by Purdue executives and its owners, members of the Sackler family, to evade justice and dodge accountability.

In filing for voluntary bankruptcy, Purdue was able to shield itself from the 2,600 federal and state lawsuits it was facing for its role flooding the U.S. with prescription opioids, contributing to the deaths of over 450,000 people since 1999. Purdue executives and members of the Sackler family were accused, in case after case, of misleading doctors and patients about the addictive nature of OxyContin, while amassing a multibillion-dollar fortune. The bankruptcy filing invoked an automatic stay of civil litigation against the company. And while the billionaire Sacklers are by no means facing personal bankruptcy, they too have been granted a stay of litigation. If they get their way in court, as they are likely to do, the bankruptcy settlement could shield the Sackler family from all future claims — and influence whether they are subject to criminal liability, too.

The full extent of Purdue’s — and the various Sacklers’ — malfeasance in knowingly creating a mass market in addiction could remain hidden in sealed documents. The move to bury what should be a mass public reckoning in the opaque crevices of bankruptcy court typifies underhanded Sackler marketing practices. In response, those fighting for accountability have been forced to navigate a complex legal terrain in efforts to access even a shred of justice. Individuals who have suffered from opioid addiction or lost loved ones to the Sackler-produced crisis have until the end of July to file claims of wrongful death and “personal injury” — a gross legalistic euphemism — as creditors in the bankruptcy settlement. They should be entitled to resources far greater than the payout will offer.

For numerous survivors, however, the primary demand in their claims is the very thing Purdue’s bankruptcy aims to avoid: transparency. “For many of us who have been in this fight for so long, the money means less,” said Barbara Van Rooyan, who has campaigned against OxyContin’s proliferation since her son’s death from taking a single pill in 2004. “The biggest asset they have is the truth.”

Read more …

How can a judge ever have thrown this out?

Court Revives Ashley Judd’s Sexual Harassment Case Vs Harvey Weinstein (R.)

A federal appeals court revived actress Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, saying she could sue under California law over his alleged attempt to help her career in return for sexual favors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found on Wednesday that Weinstein had considerable power over Judd’s career in 1997, when they held a business meeting at his hotel and the alleged harassment occurred. “By virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood, Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercive power or leverage over Judd, who was a young actor at the beginning of her career,” the opinion said. The appeals court sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.


“This is an important victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships,” said Judd’s lawyer Theodore Boutrous. Weinstein has maintained he never sexually harassed Judd. Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison by a New York state court in March after his conviction for sexual assault and rape, a case that fueled the #MeToo movement. The actress, who was not part of the New York case, sued Weinstein in April 2018 for sexual harassment under a California law barring such conduct in a “business, service or professional relationship.” Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez dismissed that claim, finding Judd’s relationship with Weinstein was not covered by the California law. The appeals court found this was a misinterpretation.

Read more …

First, it’s obvious that the “reclaiming my time” line came out of a strategy meeting, they didn’t all independently from each other think of it. But that line is reserved for witnesses that try just to fill up time (filibuster), not for interrupting them 5 seconds after you ask them to answer a question. “Jayapal allowed Barr to speak for less than 60 seconds during their six-minute exchange, and he never spoke longer than 10 seconds..”

This was a made for TV show, as were the impeachment hearings. The only way to avoid more of the same would seem to be to not allow cameras in.

House Dems Say Barr Was Sexist, Hostile at Hearing (WFB)

House Democrats Madeleine Dean (Penn.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) accused Attorney General William Barr of being sexist and hostile during his contentious Judiciary Committee testimony on Tuesday. Democrats repeatedly interrupted Barr at the hearing and condemned him as corrupt, racist, and dangerous, but Dean said Wednesday that Barr was “disrespectful” and particularly mistreated women. “We have to hold him accountable to the American people,” Dean said on MSNBC. “You saw his affect yesterday. He was disrespectful, spoke over top of every one of us. In particular, he spoke over women. He was flanked by at least 10 staffers, not a person of color among them…. It was so disrespectful, the way he approached Congress, the way he approached our committee.”

The Washington Free Beacon compiled a montage of Democrats repeatedly saying they were “reclaiming my time” during their testy interactions with Barr on Tuesday. On several occasions, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee gave Barr time during their questioning periods to respond to Democratic charges. Jayapal allowed Barr to speak for less than 60 seconds during their six-minute exchange, and he never spoke longer than 10 seconds without being interrupted by her. Yet she told CNN that she had to control her time, because otherwise Barr might testify too much. “Every witness knows that the way to get away from answering questions is to just be very slow in your answers, to thank the Congress members for that excellent question, to not answer, to obfuscate, because you only have five minutes,” she said.

“You have to take control of your time, because if you don’t, the witness will do it.” She added Barr was a “hostile witness.” Jayapal used much of her time to criticize Barr over the federal dispersal of protesters in Lafayette Park outside the White House on June 1. She accused him of a double standard by not similarly dispersing right-wing protesters at the Michigan State Capitol in May during demonstrations against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D.) and her coronavirus lockdown orders. Barr noted the White House is a federal building while Michigan’s capitol falls under the state’s jurisdiction, but Jayapal interrupted to charge him with prioritizing Trump’s “agenda.”

Read more …

Talking about HCQ, am I the only one who noticed that the push against it started with “it can kill you”, but now it’s all about “it’s ineffective”? Not deadly anymore then?

Flynn Attorney’s Twitter Account Partially Suspended Over HCQ Tweet (WE)

The Twitter account of Michael Flynn’s lead attorney was partially suspended for promoting the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who is representing President Trump’s former national security adviser in the government’s case against him, tweeted on Monday that the drug should be “available over the counter” and that it would “prevent and stop it for next to nothing.” Her account became “temporarily limited” shortly after because the platform said that the tweet violated the company’s rules on “spreading misleading and potentially harmful misinformation” related to the coronavirus.


A Twitter spokesperson said that the account was not suspended, which is how Jenna Ellis, a lawyer for Trump’s reelection campaign, broke the news, but that “some” account features would be limited for 12 hours because of the rule violation. Powell confirmed on Tuesday that her account was partially suspended. “Needless to say, that is an outrage,” she told the Washington Examiner. “Twitter should not be deciding what information is allowed. My tweet was based on information from numerous doctors. Congress must revoke the protections afforded these tech titans who must be required to allow free speech. CNN and others are pushing pure propaganda against hydroxychloroquine. It’s really astonishing to see such censorship against the president and others in what is supposed to be a free society.”

Read more …

No one had any reason to be there, it was all about the new superseding indictment, and the judge didn’t have it. At least not from the prosecution. It was all for show.

Assange Indictment: Old Wine in Older Bottles (OffG)

The topic of discussion during this administrative hearing was what was announced by the US Department of Justice on June 24, namely the second superseding indictment. That document proved to be a naked exercise of political overreach, adding no further charges to the already heavy complement of eighteen, seventeen of which centre on the US Espionage Act. The scope of interest, however, was widened, notably on the issue of “hacking” and conferencing. Assange is painted as devilish recruiter and saboteur of the international secret order, a man of the conference circuit keen to open up clandestine governments and make various reasons for doing so. According to the charging document, Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions to benefit WikiLeaks.”

Edward Fitzgerald QC, in representing Assange, fulfilled his norm, submitting that the recently revised document did little to inspire confidence in the nature of clarified justice. We are concerned about a fresh request being made at this stage with the potential consequences of derailing proceedings and that the US attorney-general is doing this for political reasons.” Fitzgerald reminded the court that US President Donald Trump had “described the defence case as a plot by the Democrats.” This should have been obvious, but Baraitser’s court would have none of it. To admit at this point that Assange is wanted for political reasons would make it that much harder to extradite him to the United States, given that bar noted in the US-UK Extradition Treaty.

Whilst it was good of Fitzgerald to make this point, he should know by now that his audience is resolutely constipated and indifferent to such prodding. Assange is to be given the sharpest, rather than the most balanced, of hearings. Accordingly, Baraitser insisted that Fitzgerald “reserve his comments” – she, in the true tradition of such processes, had not been supplied, as yet, with the US indictment. This made the entire presence of all the parties at the Westminster Magistrates’ not merely meaningless but decidedly absurd.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 292020
 


Fresco from the Minoan Palace in Knossos, Crete, Greece. 16th century B C.

 

Coronavirus To Spread In One Big Wave and Won’t Go Away – WHO (RT)
WHO Says Keeping Borders Shut To Thwart COVID-19 Not “Sustainable” (CBS)
Six US States See Record COVID19 Deaths, Latinos Hit Hard In California (R.)
Hong Kong Warns City On Verge Of Large Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)
China’s Surging Crude Imports Mask Weakness In The Rest Of Asia (R.)
OPEC Prepares For An Age Of Dwindling Demand (R.)
Big Tech CEOs To Defend Their Companies By Listing Competitors (R.)
“People Have Too Much Money To Play With” (BBG)
It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony (Foriegn Affairs)
DOJ Could Pursue Treason Charges Over Russia Probe Misconduct – Steube (JTN)
Ghislaine Maxwell Fights To Keep Nude Photos And Sexualised Videos Secret (RT)
Assange Spied On Like ‘In A Film,’ Lawyer Says (Rap)
It’s Not Assange Who Should Be Facing Prosecution (Can.)

 

 

I was watching some of the Bill Barr hearing yesterday, bewildered by the lack of manners exhibited. Not because I’m a Trump or Bill Barr fan, but come on, this is Congress, and if you can’t show respect for the US Attorney General, no matter how much you may dislike him, you’re not showing respect for the House you’re sitting in, or its history, or its meaning for the country.

Several of the Representatives didn’t start with a question, but began by telling Barr what a despicable human being he is, something that only makes sense if you aim it at the camera’s, then at last asked questions and refused to let him answer them.

 

 

 

New cases for the world and US remain somewhat subdued, but the US new daily deaths number is the highest since May 27. Let’s hope that is an anomaly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have the same problem as Ben Hunt. Very much so.

 

 

Byron York

 

 

Not seasonal. That took only 7 months.

Coronavirus To Spread In One Big Wave and Won’t Go Away – WHO (RT)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has quashed hopes that the coronavirus might simply disappear over the summer. It urged the world to instead brace itself for “one big wave” of infections. WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters via conference call that, contrary to some expectations, the coronavirus will not wane during warmer seasons like the flu would. People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and… this one is behaving differently. Harris warned that there will be “one big wave” of coronavirus infections that will “go up and down a bit,” instead of several distinct waves one after another. “The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet,” she said.


Many European countries have been gradually lifting or relaxing their quarantine restrictions since May. Because there is still no vaccine, the governments are calibrating their Covid-19 response while bracing for a potential second wave of the infection. Asian countries, like China and South Korea, as well as several US states were forced to re-impose some of the lockdown measures after infection rates went up again and new coronavirus hotspots were discovered. Harris reiterated the call to slow the spread of the virus by avoiding mass gatherings. This has proven to be challenging in recent months due to recurring large-scale anti-racism and police brutality protests in a number of Western countries.

Read more …

Here’s looking at you, Jacinda Ardern?!

WHO Says Keeping Borders Shut To Thwart COVID-19 Not “Sustainable” (CBS)

Keeping borders closed to halt the spread of COVID-19 is unsustainable, the World Health Organization said Monday, urging countries to adopt comprehensive strategies based on local knowledge of where the virus is spreading. Border closures and travel restrictions remain an important part of many countries’ strategy to combat the novel coronavirus. At the same time, rising cases in a range of countries in Europe and elsewhere that had loosened measures after appearing to get their outbreaks under control have spurred discussions of possible fresh border closures. But the UN health body warned that such measures cannot be kept up indefinitely, and are also only useful when combined with a wide range of other measures to detect and break chains of transmission.

“Continuing to keep international borders sealed is not necessarily a sustainable strategy for the world’s economy, for the world’s poor, or for anybody else,” Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies director, told journalists in a virtual briefing. “It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” he said, pointing out that “economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.” He acknowledged that when it comes to COVID-19, it is impossible to have a “global one size fits all policy” because outbreaks are developing differently in different countries. While countries with rampant community transmission may need to use the blunt instrument of lockdowns to gain control of the situation, others should be burrowing down to get a clear overview of where and how the virus is spreading at a local level.

They should be prepared to tighten or loosen measures accordingly, he said, warning against “releasing pressure” on the virus, which has killed some 650,000 people and infected 16.3 million worldwide.”Release pressure on the virus and the numbers can creep back up.” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that instead of expecting drastic measures to keep the virus in check, people need to adapt their behaviours for the long haul. “What we’re going to have to figure out… is what our new normal looks like?” she told reporters. “Our new normal includes physical distancing from others, (and) wearing masks where appropriate,” she said. “Our new normal includes us knowing where this virus is each and every day, where we live, where we work, where we want to travel.”

Read more …

Wonder what the situation will be in one week, two weeks.

Six US States See Record COVID19 Deaths, Latinos Hit Hard In California (R.)

A half-dozen U.S. states in the South and West reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark as California health officials said Latinos made up more than half its cases. Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas each reported record spikes in fatalities. In the United States more than 1,300 lives were lost nation wide on Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase since May, according to a Reuters tally. California health officials said Latinos, who make up just over a third of the most populous U.S. state, account for 56% of COVID-19 infections and 46% of deaths. Cases are soaring in the Central Valley agricultural region, with its heavily Latino population, overwhelming hospitals. The state on Tuesday reported 171 deaths.


Florida saw 191 coronavirus deaths in the prior 24 hours, the state health department said. Texas added more than 6,000 new cases on Monday, pushing its total to 401,477, according to a Reuters tally. Only three other states – California, Florida and New York – have more than 400,000 total cases. The four are the most populous U.S. states. California and Texas both reported decreases in overall hospitalizations as Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. infectious diseases expert, saw signs the surge could be peaking in the South and West while other areas were on the cusp of new outbreaks. Fauci said early indications showed the percentage of positive coronavirus tests rising in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Read more …

Panic over low numbers.

Hong Kong Warns City On Verge Of Large Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of the coronavirus and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible as strict new measures to curb the disease’s spread take effect on Wednesday. The new regulations ban gatherings of more than two people, close dining in restaurants and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places, including outdoors. These are the toughest measures introduced in the city since the outbreak. The government has also tightened testing and quarantine arrangements for sea and air crew members, effective on Wednesday.


“We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly,” Lam said in a statement late on Tuesday. “In order to protect our loved ones, our healthcare staff and Hong Kong, I appeal to you to follow strictly the social distancing measures and stay at home as far as possible.” The new measures, which will be in place for at least seven days, were announced on Monday after the global financial hub saw a spike in locally transmitted cases over the past three weeks. On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 that were locally transmitted. Since late January, more than 2,880 people have been infected in the former British colony, 23 of whom have died.

Read more …

Imports of vast quantities of oil that was bought in April means China’s buying a whole lot less now. And their storage is rapidly filling up.

China’s Surging Crude Imports Mask Weakness In The Rest Of Asia (R.)

The ongoing flood of crude oil into China is obscuring the fact that demand in the rest of Asia remains weak, and that countries in the world’s top-consuming region didn’t join China is stocking up when prices slumped. China’s crude imports set consecutive records in May and June, and will remain at high levels in July and likely August too, as the massive volumes of oil bought during a brief price war in April enter the country. China imported 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, eclipsing the prior all-time high of 11.3 million bpd in May, according to official data. Imports for July may set a new record high, with Refinitiv Oil Research estimating 13.04 million bpd will be offloaded in the month.

Tracking China’s imports has been made more tricky by the sheer volume of tankers heading to, or waiting at, ports. Delays in discharging cargoes mean that August’s figures may get a bit of a boost from the earlier buying spree. Crude prices plunged to the lowest in 17 years in late April after Saudi Arabia and Russia, the leading producers in the group known as OPEC+, disagreed on whether to extend and deepen output cuts in a bid to support prices. The Saudis said they would sell as much oil as they could, and the sheer volume of oil being made available, coupled with the economic hit from the spreading novel coronavirus pandemic, saw benchmark Brent futures drop as low as $15.98 a barrel on April 22, some 78% down from this year’s peak of $71.75 in early January.

While the price war didn’t persist, with OPEC+ agreeing to extend and deepen output cuts, it did last long enough to give refiners an opportunity to stock up with bargain-basement crude. However, it appears that only Chinese refiners took up the offer, and perhaps trading houses with access to storage tanks, with many Asian buyers apparently more worried about the demand hit from the coronavirus than they were tempted by the low crude prices.

Read more …

OPEC, the whole structure of it, is not made for downsizing. It won’t survive it.

OPEC Prepares For An Age Of Dwindling Demand (R.)

The coronavirus crisis may have triggered the long-anticipated tipping point in oil demand and it is focusing minds in OPEC. The pandemic drove down daily crude consumption by as much as a third earlier this year, at a time when the rise of electric vehicles and a shift to renewable energy sources were already prompting downward revisions in forecasts for long-term oil demand. It has prompted some officials in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil’s most powerful proponent since it was founded 60 years ago, to ask whether this year’s dramatic demand destruction heralds a permanent shift and how best to manage supplies if the age of oil is drawing to a close.

“People are waking up to a new reality and trying to work their heads around it all,” an industry source close to OPEC told Reuters, adding the “possibility exists in the minds of all the key players” that consumption might never fully recover. Reuters interviewed seven current and former officials or other sources involved in OPEC, most of whom asked not to be named. They said this year’s crisis that sent oil below $16 a barrel had prompted OPEC and its 13 members to question long-held views on the demand growth outlook. Just 12 years ago, OPEC states were flush with cash when oil peaked above $145 a barrel as demand surged. Now it faces a dramatic adjustment if consumption starts a permanent decline. The group will need to manage even more closely its cooperation with other producers, such as Russia, to maximise falling revenues and will have to work to ensure relations inside the group are not frayed by any fratricidal dash to defend market share in a shrinking businesses.

Read more …

Their only real line is they compete with each other.

Nothing will happen, though, because they all work with and for US intelligence.

Big Tech CEOs To Defend Their Companies By Listing Competitors (R.)

The chief executives of four of the world’s largest tech companies, Amazon.com, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet’s Google , plan to argue in a congressional hearing on antitrust on Wednesday that they face intense competition from each other and from other rivals. The testimony from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook, which was released Tuesday, portrays four chief executives who are looking over their shoulders at competitors who could render them obsolete. Pichai argued that search – which Google dominates by most metrics – was broader than just typing a query into Google, and said he remained concerned about being relevant as people turn to Twitter, Pinterest or other websites for information.

“We know Google’s continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving,” Pichai said in the prepared remarks. The four will testify reut.rs/2DhrEFT to a panel of lawmakers investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals as they seek to retain their dominance, or expand. In his remarks, Bezos said Amazon occupies a small share of the overall retail market and competes with retailers like Walmart (WMT.N), which is twice its size. He also said the coronavirus pandemic boosted e-commerce businesses across the spectrum and not just Amazon.

Bezos also lays out how small sellers have succeeded on Amazon’s third-party marketplace, a practice that has come under scrutiny from lawmakers. In his prepared testimony, Zuckerberg argued that Facebook competes against other companies appearing at the hearing and against others globally. Zuckerberg will also defend Facebook’s acquisitions by saying the social media platform helped companies like WhatsApp and Instagram grow. Both are owned by Facebook. He will also remind lawmakers of the competitive threat U.S. tech companies face from China, saying that China is building its “own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”

Read more …

Investing in bankrupt companies. Thanks, Jay Powell.

“People Have Too Much Money To Play With” (BBG)

The warning to shareholders of newly bankrupt Ascena Retail Group Inc. could hardly have been more direct. There it is, in black-and-white, on page 5 of the court declaration filed by Ascena’s most senior official just hours into the case: “Existing common equity in Ascena will be canceled.” Full stop. Creditors will take ownership of the retail chain, which Ascena also made plain. So how did stock investors respond? By bidding up the shares just shy of 120%, on off-the-charts volume. It was a similar story for bankrupt Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. The airborne Wi-Fi service jumped more than 50% on July 24 after its court filing, despite warning shareholders earlier in July that they stood to lose everything to creditors in a Chapter 11 case.


And it hearkens back to Hertz Global Holdings Inc., whose stock became Example A of post-bankruptcy rallies. The persistent mania for busted companies baffles financial advisers. “What’s going on here? I really couldn’t tell you; it’s not something I would ever recommend to anyone,” said George Gagliardi at Coromandel Wealth Management in Lexington, Massachusetts. “People have too much money to play with,” said Dennis Nolte, an adviser at Florida’s Seacoast Investment Services. “Most of these traders won’t be around when the bankruptcy proceedings are complete. Just turn the light off when you leave the room, if the lights aren’t turned off by the utility company because there’s no money to pay the bill.”

Read more …

Bet you didn’t think the Council on Foreign Relations would come with this.

It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony (Foriegn Affairs)

In the 1960s, French Finance Minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing complained that the dominance of the U.S. dollar gave the United States an “exorbitant privilege” to borrow cheaply from the rest of the world and live beyond its means. U.S. allies and adversaries alike have often echoed the gripe since. But the exorbitant privilege also entails exorbitant burdens that weigh on U.S. trade competitiveness and employment and that are likely to grow heavier and more destabilizing as the United States’ share of the global economy shrinks. The benefits of dollar primacy accrue mainly to financial institutions and big businesses, but the costs are generally borne by workers.

For this reason, continued dollar hegemony threatens to deepen inequality as well as political polarization in the United States. Dollar hegemony isn’t foreordained. For years, analysts have warned that China and other powers might decide to abandon the dollar and diversify their currency reserves for economic or strategic reasons. To date, there is little reason to think that global demand for dollars is drying up. But there is another way the United States could lose its status as issuer of the world’s dominant reserve currency: it could voluntarily abandon dollar hegemony because the domestic economic and political costs have grown too high.

The United States has already abandoned multilateral and security commitments during the administration of President Donald Trump—prompting international relations scholars to debate whether the country is abandoning hegemony in a broader strategic sense. The United States could abandon its commitment to dollar hegemony in a similar way: even if much of the rest of the world wants the United States to maintain the dollar’s role as a reserve currency—just as much of the world wants the United States to continue to provide security—Washington could decide that it can no longer afford to do so. It is an idea that has received surprisingly little discussion in policy circles, but it could benefit the United States and ultimately, the rest of the world.

The dollar’s dominance stems from the demand for it around the world. Foreign capital flows into the United States because it is a safe place to put money and because there are few other alternatives. These capital inflows dwarf those needed to finance trade many times over, and they cause the United States to run a large current account deficit. In other words, the United States is not so much living beyond its means as accommodating the world’s excess capital. Dollar hegemony also has domestic distributional consequences—that is, it creates winners and losers within the United States. The main winners are the banks that act as the intermediaries and recipients of the capital inflows and that exercise excessive influence over U.S economic policy. The losers are the manufacturers and the workers they employ. Demand for the dollar pushes up its value, which makes U.S. exports more expensive and curtails demand for them abroad, thus leading to earnings and job losses in manufacturing.

Read more …

Treason sounds big, any charge in that direction would suffice. Problem is, they have only 3 months left.

DOJ Could Pursue Treason Charges Over Russia Probe Misconduct – Steube (JTN)

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., sharply rebuked the FBI and suggested that the Department of Justice could potentially pursue charges of treason in connection with conduct related to the Trump-Russia investigation. “If it’s not clear to you now, it should be abundantly clear when these indictments start coming out for individuals involved in this through the Durham probe, that … this was a politicized, weaponized FBI at the highest level that was solely trying to take down a presidential campaign and then an incumbent president once he got sworn in—and that should scare every American,” Steube said during an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.


The Florida Republican, an Army veteran who has worked as an Airborne Infantry Officer and JAG Corps Officer, said that he believes “the level to which this agency and these individuals were trying to thwart an incoming president, to me, is treasonous.” The congressman believes the DOJ should be able to pursue charges of lying to Congress—he also said that there should be consequences for “misrepresentations” before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Steube said that the FBI’s reputation has been severely damaged. “We’re not talking about individual agents operating in field offices across the country. We’re talking about the leadership of the FBI operating the FBI in a way that they’re deceiving the FISA Court, that they’re surveilling on American citizens for political purposes. And it completely discredited an agency that was once esteemed throughout law enforcement,” the congressman noted.

Read more …

First reaction: yes, sure, gag the victims.

Ironically, though, if the material IS widely distributed it may help Maxwell in trying to have the case thrown out.

Ghislaine Maxwell Fights To Keep Nude Photos And Sexualised Videos Secret (RT)

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of grooming underage girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has requested a gag order against prosecutors to keep evidence including naked photos and ‘sexualised’ videos private. Maxwell, 58, was arrested earlier in July and is scheduled to be tried for sex-trafficking offenses in a Manhattan federal court in July next year. She has pleaded not guilty to charges that she’d groomed and aided the abuse by Epstein of at least three girls throughout the 1990s. Court documents show that Maxwell’s lawyers want to keep the evidence, which they describe as “highly confidential information” and including “nude, partially-nude, or otherwise sexualised images, videos or depictions of individuals” private, to prevent it appearing online and potentially impacting a series of civil lawsuits leveled against her by survivors of Epstein’s abuse.


“There is a substantial concern that these individuals will seek to use discovery materials to support their civil cases and future public statements,” Maxwell’s attorney Christian Everdell, the prosecutor who brought Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to justice, explained. The proposed order, submitted Monday, is somewhat routine in sex-abuse cases but prosecutors have refused the request that witnesses and lawyers in the trial would be subject to any gag orders, and are expected to reply officially later on Tuesday. “The defense believes that potential government witnesses and their counsel should be subject to the same restrictions as the defense concerning appropriate use of the discovery materials – namely, if these individuals are given access to discovery materials during trial preparation, they may not use those materials for any purpose other than preparing for trial in the criminal case, and may not post those materials on the Internet,” the affidavit said.

Read more …

Two cases came before a court on the 27th. One on London, and one in Madrid. Spying on clients and their attorneys, spying on a president, it should be enough to have the entire case vs Assange thrown out.

Assange Spied On Like ‘In A Film,’ Lawyer Says (Rap)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was spied on while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London like “in a film,” his lawyer Baltasar Garzon said Monday, July 27, after testifying at a top Spanish court probing the allegations. Assange, who is in a British prison after being removed from the embassy last year, filed a lawsuit against private Spanish security firm Undercover Global, accusing it of spying on him and passing the information to the United States. The company was in charge of providing security at the embassy during the bulk of the seven years which the 49-year-old Australian spent inside the building.

Garzon, a prominent former Spanish judge, said he had seen images taken inside of the embassy of Assange talking to his lawyers which were allegedly recorded by the company. “This is scandalous, we think this only happens in spy movies but this is not a spy movie because someone’s life is at stake,” he told reporters after testifying at Spain’s National Court in Madrid. Assange has accused the firm of gathering information on him through video cameras and hidden microphones, copying identity documents and monitoring visitors’ mobile phones, and then passing the information to the US intelligence services. The lawsuit is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which wants to put him on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Garzon said Assange’s legal team has provided British courts with information about the alleged spying because it has “a direct impact on the extradition and shows, in our view, that Julian Assange was the target of political persecution.” Assange’s extradition hearing will take place on September 7. Spain’s National Court in June opened an investigation into a complaint by Ecuador’s ex-president Rafael Correa that Undercover Global also spied on him. Correa accuses the firm, which provided him with security services until 2019, of “monitoring and taking photos” of his meetings with Garzon, who made global headlines in 1998 when former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London.

Read more …

The law has been rendered meaningless. Therefore, so have the courts that are tasked with upholding it. That is not a trifle matter.

It’s Not Assange Who Should Be Facing Prosecution (Can.)

On 27 July two court hearings took place – one in the UK, the other in Spain. Both concerned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. From their proceedings, it became clear that it’s not Assange who should be facing prosecution, but the current office holder of the US presidency and his associates. At the 27 July ‘administrative hearing’ at Westminster magistrates court, Judge Vanessa Baraitser stated that the prosecution had failed to present its latest ‘superseding indictment‘. That superseding indictment was first made public on 24 June, just prior to the last court hearing, though the prosecution failed to submit the document to that hearing too. Defence lawyer Edward Fitzgerald made it clear to the court that he was concerned the prosecution might still try to present the superseding indictment later, so as to delay the extradition hearings. He argued:

“We are concerned about a fresh request being made at this stage with the potential consequence of derailing proceedings and that the US attorney-general is doing this for political reasons.” Indeed, prosecution barrister Joel Smith refused to comply with any timeline to serve the superseding indictment. However, Baraitser told Smith that the deadline to submit the superseding indictment had passed. Controversially, the superseding indictment provided testimony from known (but unnamed) FBI informants, both of whom have criminal convictions and were engaged in entrapment operations. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the prosecution did not formally present a copy of the superseding indictment to the court. What the judge did not address, however, is that by publishing the superseding indictment on the internet, the US department of justice may have prejudiced the case against Assange – and that could be grounds for dismissal of all charges.

Meanwhile in Spain, the prosecution of David Morales, who is charged with organising the surveillance of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, proceeds, with testimony from former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who is representing Assange. Morales, via his company UC Global, is also accused of providing that surveillance to US intelligence services. Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson commented that the surveillance constituted a “serious crime in European law”. Also monitored were meetings between Assange and some of his other lawyers, including Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson, and Garzón. Surveillance also included logging of visitors, such as Gareth Peirce, another of Assange’s lawyers, as well as a seven-hour session between Assange and his legal team on 19 June 2016.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 282020
 
 July 28, 2020  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Migrant cotton picker’s children, live in government tent, Shafter Camp, CA 1938

 

Barr To Come Out Swinging In House Testimony (Solomon)
How Did Russia Get A Possible COVID19 Vaccine So Fast? (RT)
China Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, Including Two In Beijing (R.)
Mike Rowe Explains That Reality Is Going To Win With The Wuhan Virus (AT)
How The Eviction Crisis Across The US Will Look (CNBC)
The Insane Leading the Blind (Kunstler)
Assange Defence Team Concerned US is Seeking ‘Improper’ Delay of Case (Sp.)
Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities (G.)
Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK? (OffG)
CNN’s Stelter Breaches Confidentiality Agreement With Sandmann (Fox)
Emus Banned From Pub In Outback Australia Town (G.)
Facebook Vows To Break Up US Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful (Onion)

 

 

“Low” new cases for the world and US. US deaths also lower. We can hope and pray.

Biggest show in town is Bill Barr being grilled in the House. All conclusions have already been drawn in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest show in town today.

Barr To Come Out Swinging In House Testimony (Solomon)

Attorney General Bill Barr is planning a full-throated defense of his work inside the Justice Department and that of police nationwide when appearing before hostile House Democrats on Wednesday, condemning both the “bogus Russiagate scandal” and the senseless violence rocking U.S. cities. In prepared testimony released Tuesday evening on the eve of his House Judiciary Committee testimony, Barr declared that liberal activists’ “demonization of police is not only unfair and inconsistent with the principle that all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to our inner city communities.” “When a community turns on and pillories its own police, officers naturally become more risk averse and crime rates soar,” his prepared testimony states.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing that now in many of our major cities. This is a critical problem that exists apart from disagreements on other issues. The threat to black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police misconduct. The attorney general also lambastes liberal mayors for allowing serial violence to persist in their cities since George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and supporting efforts to undercut police department authorities and funding. “Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way — by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police,” he plans to tell lawmakers.

Later he adds, “To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time.” Barr also directly challenges Democrats’ claims he has been a lapdog for Trump, declaring the president has not interfered in his decisions. “My decisions on criminal matters before the Department have been my own, and they have been made because I believed they were right under the law and principles of justice,” he said. Barr suggested Democrats’ criticisms may be aimed at undercutting his efforts to investigate abuses in the now-discredited FBI investigation of Trump-Russia collusion.

“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions,” Barr is set to testify. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”

Read more …

No way Big Pharma will tolerate such a thing.

How Did Russia Get A Possible COVID19 Vaccine So Fast? (RT)

This month, Moscow’s famed Sechenov University announced that the first phase of clinical trials for a vaccine had been a success. Some 38 volunteers who took part in human trials have been released with little or no side effects recorded. Researchers will now push forward, testing the vaccine’s efficiency, and prepping it for registration with the Health Ministry. Other prototypes are to follow, with some about to finish phase-one trials – which usually demonstrates the new vaccine’s safety for use in humans. It’s fairly easy to grasp why Russia is so keen to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Having reported more than 811,000 cases and 13,249 fatalities, it is among the five countries worst affected by the epidemic.

But how did it make a vaccine so fast, given that the coronavirus – or its deadly, crown-shaped SARS-CoV-2 strain – wasn’t known to scientists before 2020? Russia has over 20 years of experience in developing technology for producing vaccines. This helped to create the unique Covid-19 vaccine in a very short period of time by normal drug-development standards, Vadim Tarasov, head of Sechenov University’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology, told RT Arabic in a comprehensive interview. “Nothing can be done from scratch,” he explained. Virologists at the Sechenov Institute and the Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology – another coronavirus research hub in Moscow – benefited from that “huge backlog” to decode the genome and structure of Covid-19 and quickly create a vaccine prototype.

The technology behind the Russian vaccine in question is based upon adenovirus, the common cold. Created artificially, the vaccine proteins replicate those of Covid-19 and trigger “an immune response similar to that caused by the coronavirus itself,” Tarasov revealed. In other words, getting immunized is slightly similar to having survived the coronavirus, but without its life-threatening risks. The vaccine, of course, won’t be a magical wand preventing everyone from getting sick. It may not stop the entire spread of coronavirus, but will make the symptoms much milder.

Read more …

Hong Kong over 100 several days in a row.

China Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, Including Two In Beijing (R.)

China reported 68 new coronavirus cases for July 27, up for the fourth consecutive day, including two in Beijing, the country’s health authority said on Tuesday. China is battling the most aggressive return of COVID-19 in months, driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang and a separate flare-up in the northeast. Of the new local infections for July 27, 57 were in Xinjiang, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. That brings the total number of cases in the region’s current outbreak to 235 since the first infection was reported on July 16. Xinjiang has yet to explain how patient zero, a 24-year-old woman who worked in a mall in its capital Urumqi, contracted the virus.


The northeastern province of Liaoning reported six new cases as of July 27. The current outbreak in Liaoning, which began on July 22, centred mostly on the port city of Dalian, east of Beijing. The first case in Dalian worked at a seafood processing company, and had not travelled out of the city in recent weeks. To contain the spread of the virus, Xinjiang and Dalian have tested millions of people for COVID-19, but the coronavirus is already on the move.

Read more …

Apparently many people experience panic and fear, induced by a faulty choice of media. I have no such thing. Maybe I should too. Rowe is mostly right. Get tested often, wear a mask where needed, and live your life. Rocket science it ain’t.

Mike Rowe Explains That Reality Is Going To Win With The Wuhan Virus (AT)

[..] for the last three months, I’ve been operating from the assumption that this is a year-round virus that’s eventually going to infect 100 million people and kill roughly 1/2 of one percent of those infected, conservatively. I’ve accepted those numbers. Unfortunately, millions of others have not. Many people have no sense of where this is headed, and I understand why. They’ve been betrayed by a hysterical media that insists on covering each new reported case as if it were the first case. Every headline today drips with dread, as the next doomed hotspot approaches the next “grim milestone.” And so, for a lot of people, everyday is Groundhogs Day. They’re paralyzed by the rising numbers because the numbers have no context. They don’t know where it will end.

But Dr. Osterholm says he does, and I’m persuaded that he’s correct. He might be wrong, and frankly, I hope he is, but either way, he’s presented us with a set of projections based on a logical analysis, and accepting those projections has allowed me to move past denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, and get on with my life with a better understanding of what the risks really are. Fact is, we the people can accept almost anything if we’re given the facts, and enough time to get evaluate the risk and make our own decisions. [..] don’t misunderstand. I’m not ignoring COVID, or downplaying COVID, or pretending the risks at hand aren’t real. Nor am I comparing COVID cases to car accidents – I’m simply comparing the fear of each to the other, and the fear that always accompanies uncertainty.

I don’t want to get this disease or give it to someone else, any more than I want to be in a car car wreck that injures someone else. But I’ve accepted certain things about the pandemic, and now, I’ve gotten used to the risk as I understand it. I take precautions. I get tested as often as I can, and if I can’t physically distance, I wear a mask – especially around higher risk people. Likewise, I wear a seatbelt, obey the speed limits, and check my mirrors before changing lanes.

Read more …

There’s an eviction stop in the new GOP proposal, far as I know.

How The Eviction Crisis Across The US Will Look (CNBC)

An unprecedented eviction crisis will soon hit the U.S. On Friday, the federal moratorium on evictions in properties with federally backed mortgages and for tenants who receive government-assisted housing expired. The Urban Institute estimated that provision covered nearly 30% of the country’s rental units. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that he would extend that moratorium, but these tenants are now unprotected from eviction. At the same time, some 25 million Americans will stop receiving the $600 weekly federal unemployment checks by July 31. And most of the statewide eviction moratoriums are winding down. The proceedings have resumed in more than 30 states. The moratorium in Hawaii and Illinois end this week, and in August, evictions will pick up in New York and Nevada.


By one estimate, some 40 million Americans could be evicted during the public health crisis. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. In 2016, there were 2.3 million evictions, Pollock said. “There could be that many evictions in August,” he said. Massive unemployment has left more than 40% of renter households at risk of eviction, according to a new analysis by global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross. Some states will be harder hit than others, Stout found. For example, nearly 60% of renters in West Virginia are at risk of eviction, compared to 22% in Vermont. People of color are especially vulnerable. While almost half of White tenants say they’re highly confident they can continue to pay their rent, just 26% of African-American tenants could say the same.

Read more …

But peacefully.

The Insane Leading the Blind (Kunstler)

In Louisville, Saturday, just after lunchtime, the self-styled Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC) was mustering for action and “inspecting firearms” (according to NFAC comandante Grand Master Jay) when one of said weapons accidently discharged and mowed down three NFAC warriors — nicely demonstrating the hazards of fucking around with loaded weapons. In Austin Saturday night, one feckless BLM mob marcher name of Garrett Foster brought his AK-47 to the street party. When he pointed it at a motorist trapped by the crowd, he got blown away to that great struggle session in the sky, the surprise of his life, I’m sure. In Portland, OR, police found a bag of loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails in the nearby park that serves as the rioters’ marshaling yard. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler did not attend the evening’s frolics at the sore beset federal courthouse, having successfully subjected himself to ritual humiliation himself a few nights earlier. After midnight Sunday, police declared the Antifa actions “a riot” and made a few arrests.


Up Seattle way, a federal judge struck down the city council’s order against police using tear gas and pepper spray on rioters just in time for another weekend of rioting. SPD Chief Carmen Best declared, “In the spirit of offering trust and full transparency, I want to advise you that SPD officers will be carrying pepper spray and blast balls today, as would be typical for events that carry potential to include violence.” Hours later, after Antifas smashed the windows of ground-floor businesses, set fire to a construction site, and trashed the SPD’s East Precinct building, pepper spray and blast balls were deployed and forty-five of the mob were arrested (on rioting, assault, and other charges), while twenty-one SPD officers were injured. Down in LA, Antifas broke into the federal Bureau of Prisons Detention Center. In Richmond, VA, rioters set fire to a city dump truck used as a barrier to protect a police station.

Read more …

Next hearing August 14. “..despite its decade-long-head-start, the prosecution is still unable to build a coherent and credible case.”

Assange Defence Team Concerned US is Seeking ‘Improper’ Delay of Case (Sp.)

Julian Assange’s substantive extradition hearings are due to restart on 7 September at the Old Bailey, where it will be decided whether or not he should be sent the US to face up to 175 years in prison. Julian Assange’s defence team informed the court on 27 July 2020 that they fear Donald Trump’s administration may be seeking to delay the substantive extradition hearings until after the US elections in November 2020. Ed Fitzgerald QC attended the hearing in person for the first time since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions. He told Judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that he is “concerned at a fresh [indictment] being brought [by the US government] at this stage, with the potential consequence to de-rail the proceedings”.

Mr Fitzgerald expressed his worry that the US attorney general is “doing this for political purposes” and suspected there is “some manipulation or some political motivation” on the part of the US authorities, something which he said would be wholly “improper”. The judge refused to discuss the matter further because the prosecution has, to date, failed to formally submit the superseding indictment upon the court. Joel Smith, the barrister who attended the hearing on behalf of the prosecution, told the court that he would “not able to commit to any time table” in terms of the second superseding indictment being formally served on the court and that it would “have to go through the usual channels” before he could say any more.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, followed the hearing remotely from Iceland. He told Sputnik that “the political nature of the entire thing is becoming more and more clear to everybody”. He described as “absolutely unacceptable” the fact that the US administration has failed to serve the second superseding indictment onto the court. “We were at least expecting this to be served in the court today and the fact that the judge has only heard of it through email exchange from the defence is of course outrageous”, Mr Hrafnsson continued. “The ‘new’ superseding indictment actually contains nothing new. All the alleged events have been known to the prosecution for years. It contains no new charges. What’s really happening here is that despite its decade-long-head-start, the prosecution is still unable to build a coherent and credible case.”, Mr Hrafnsson also said.

[..] Judge Baraitser listed the next call-over hearing for 14 August and confirmed that the second part of Julian Assange’s substantive extradition hearings should begin on 7 September at the Old Bailey. Judge Baraitser said she expected the entire process to last three weeks though Mr Fitzgerald reminded her that the defence had previously stated that they would likely require a fourth week given the latest developments in the case.

Read more …

Climate and racism at the same time. Sounds very convenient. So who else is funding the police?

Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities (G.)

Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation. Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US. The investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its research database project LittleSis, details how police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo.

Police foundations are industry groups that provide substantial funds to local departments, yet, as nonprofits, avoid much public scrutiny. The investigation details how firms linked to fossil fuels also sponsor events and galas that celebrate the police, while some have senior staff serving as directors of police foundations. The report portrays the fossil fuel industry as a common enemy in the struggle for racial and environmental justice. “Many powerful companies that drive environmental injustice are also backers of the same police departments that tyrannize the very communities these corporate actors pollute,” it states.

[..] Carroll Muffett, the president of the Center for International Environmental Law, said: “This report sheds a harsh light on the ways police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisis.” A spokeswoman for Chevron said the firm is a “good neighbor” wherever it operates. “Across the world, Chevron invests millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours on numerous programs and partnerships, helping communities improve their lives, achieve their aspirations and meet their full potential.”

Read more …

“It is the industry that does the testing.”

Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK? (OffG)

The British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and are thus engaging in criminal behaviour. That’s the message put forward in a new report written by environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason and sent to the UK Environment Agency. It follows her January 2019 open letter to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer CropScience, where she made it clear to him that she considers Bayer CropScience and Monsanto criminal corporations. Her letter to Baumann outlined a cocktail of corporate duplicity, cover-ups and criminality which the public and the environment are paying the price for, not least in terms of the effects of glyphosate. Later in 2019, Mason wrote to Bayer Crop Science shareholders, appealing to them to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer.

Mason outlined with supporting evidence how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. She argued that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe. In February 2020, Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit – the public and the press are being poisoned by pesticides’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards.

In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels – if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime. In other words, he wants to ditch EU regulations. Mason pondered just who could be pulling Johnson’s strings. A big clue came in February 2019 at a Brexit meeting on the UK chemicals sector where UK regulators and senior officials from government departments listened to the priorities of Bayer Crop Science. During the meeting (Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Priorities for UK chemicals sector – challenges, opportunities and the future for regulation post-Brexit), Janet Williams, head of regulatory science at Bayer Crop Science Division, made the priorities for agricultural chemical manufacturers known.

Dave Bench was also a speaker. Bench is a senior scientist at the UK Chemicals, Health and Safety Executive and director of the agency’s EU exit plan and has previously stated that the regulatory system for pesticides is robust and balances the risks of pesticides against the benefits to society. In an open letter to Bench, Mason responded: “That statement is rubbish. It is for the benefit of the agrochemical industry. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides, including over children and babies, without warning.”

Read more …

Pending suits vs “ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, NPR, Slate, The Hill, and Gannett, which owns the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as miscellaneous other small outfits”.

CNN’s Stelter Breaches Confidentiality Agreement With Sandmann (Fox)

CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter may have landed himself in hot water, according to the attorney of Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann. Last week, Sandmann announced that The Washington Post settled the $250 million defamation lawsuit he filed over its botched coverage of a viral confrontation with a Native American elder that had portrayed the Kentucky teen as the aggressor. This followed the multi-million dollar settlement CNN made with the teenager back in January. However, Sandmann’s attorney Lin Wood spotted a retweet from Stelter of a tweet written by attorney Mark Zaid, who speculated about how much money the teen walked away with from the settlement.

“Those with zero legal experience (as far as I can tell) should not be conjecturing on lawsuits they know nothing about. What kind of journalism is that?” Zaid asked. “I’ve litigated defamation cases. [Sandmann] was undoubtedly paid nuisance value settlement & nothing more.” Wood accused the “Reliable Sources” host of breaching his network’s own confidentiality agreement with his client. “This retweet by @brianstelter may have cost him his job at @CNN. It is called breach of confidentiality agreement. Brian Stelter is a liar. I know how to deal with liars,” Wood tweeted with a screenshot of Stelter’s retweet. Sandmann knocked the media guru, tweeting “Brian Stelter just can’t learn some basic lessons over at CNN.”

“I can’t decide if it’s worse to be Brian Stelter or believe Brian Stelter. He was never in any court hearing or meeting I was. So why does he act like he knows anything?” Sandmann added. CNN analyst Asha Rangappa appeared to agree with Zaid as well. “I’d guess $25K to go away,” Rangappa wrote. Responding to Rangappa’s tweet, Wood wrote “Heads are going to roll at CNN or @N1ckSandmann is going to filing another lawsuit & reveal truth.” Wood leveled a similar charge against Washington Post reporter Dan Zak, who suggested on Friday that the Post settled “for a small amount… in order to avoid a more expensive trial,” later adding that it’s the “American way.”

Read more …

This is the sort of indepth quality reporting we want to see from the Guardian. They suck at everything else anyway.

Emus Banned From Pub In Outback Australia Town (G.)

It can’t be easy being an emu in outback Australia at the best of times what with the heat and the perennial droughts. But to be banned from your local pub for bad behaviour must now be added to the list of grievances inflicted upon the big birds. Such is the problem Kevin and Carol – two emus in Yaraka, south of Longreach in western Queensland – now face after an edict was passed down by the only hotel in town last week. Gerry Gimblett, who owns the Yaraka Hotel with her husband Chris, told Guardian Australia they were left with no other option after the birds’ recent “bad behaviour”. “They’ve been stealing things from the guests, especially their food. They’d stick their heads in and pinch toast out of the toaster,” Gimblett explained.

“But the main reason we’ve banned them is their droppings. They’re enormous, very large and very smelly, and they created great stains,” she said. Gimblett, who took over the pub after she retired as a teacher, installed a barrier – a piece of rope – across the hotel’s entrances last week after the “much-loved” emus began entering the pub and disrupting patrons. Gimblett said the emus had become a tourist attraction after several eggs were hatched at the end of 2018, and while at one point there were nine emus in town, most had wandered away from town or been hit in accidents. Just two large emus remain, Kevin and Carol, who circle the area around the pub.


[..] Despite the emu population shrinking to just two, Gimblett said they remained noticeable given there “are only about 16 other” human residents in Yaraka, which is about a 13-hour drive west of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane. “We love them as part of the Yaraka community, but they’re not welcome inside any more.”

Read more …

“Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook.”

Facebook Vows To Break Up US Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful (Onion)

In an effort to curtail the organization’s outsized influence, Facebook announced Monday that it would be implementing new steps to ensure the breakup of the U.S. government before it becomes too powerful. “It’s long past time for us to take concrete actions against this behemoth of governance that has gone essentially unchecked since its inception,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, noting that while the governing body may have begun with good intentions, its history showed a culture of recklessness and a dangerous disregard for the consequences of its decisions. “Unfortunately, those at the top have been repeatedly contemptuous of the very idea of accountability or reform, and our only remaining course is to separate the government into smaller chunks to prevent it from forming an even stronger monopoly over the public.” Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 172020
 


Fred Stein Evening, Paris 1934

 

Welcome To The End Game (F.)
Immune Response To Coronavirus Could Be a Matter of Life And Death (SCMP)
My Patient Caught COVID19 Twice. So Long To Herd Immunity Hopes? (Vox)
My Hydroxychloroquine Deep Dive (GB)
A Mask Cuts Your COVID-19 Risk By 65% (WEF)
Georgia Hospital Worker Sounds Alarm (NPR)
Unemployment Increase Set To End As Jobless Claims Climb (NYP)
Key US Lawmakers Back Unions’ Call For New Airline Bailout (R.)
AG Barr: US Companies Kowtow To China (JTN)
So Much Money, So Little Time To Find Deal At EU Summit (AP)
Russia Rejects UK’s Claims Of Hacking & Election Meddling (RT)

 

 

Let’s go break some records, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second wave watch: Israel, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong

Taleb

 

 

 

 

“It won’t be hard to see it coming because if the Nasdaq goes vertical it will be hard to miss.”

Welcome To The End Game (F.)

If this chart doesn’t make you think the crash is coming soon, then probably nothing will: The Nasdaq is on its final run and is going vertical, a classic end of bubble move. This is trader heaven and turns into speculator hell for those who think that markets do grow to the skies. It could go up a long way in price but it won’t go for long in time. It could last to Christmas, it could fold tomorrow, but my feeling is that unless this bubble is cut down by the Fed, the final move will be large and quick. You can refer to the dotcom crash for the general shape of what looks possible next.

The attempts by the government to pump up the economy with new money is resulting in it going straight into equities and straight into the tip of the equity spear, the giant high beta story stocks. This is a malfunction of the QE mechanism that supports asset prices and slowly trickles the benefits of this support down the pyramid of wealth. Now the game is up because the new money is going straight into this bubble of financial assets that are spiralling up out of control. If we now get a Nasdaq bull vertical that is the end of the chapter of the process, it will be followed by a devastating crash as everyone dashes to the exit in a blaze of wealth destruction.


The Federal Reserve needs to get a lid on this fast and it appears to be trying to by tapering its balance sheet, but the bubble is still fizzing and if it does not stop soon it will do what bubbles generally do, erupt then collapse. The final eruption before collapse looks to be underway and we should only hope it doesn’t happen. If it does enter the terminal bubble phase and then collapse, it will be the second blow to the U.S. and world economy, which repeats the 1930 narrative of the one-two punch of twin crises. In the Great Depression it was “stock market crash” followed by “banking crisis.” Here it will be “lockdown” followed by “stock market crash.”

Read more …

Immune response differs greatly from one person to the next.

Immune Response To Coronavirus Could Be a Matter of Life And Death (SCMP)

Differences in the way people’s immune systems respond to being infected with the coronavirus could be a matter of life or death, according to a new study. When the human body comes under attack from a virus, the immune system produces T cells to tackle it. These mostly come in two forms: “helpers”, which organise the defence response, and “killers”, which are told how and where to fight. The killers destroy virus cells with toxic chemicals, but to do the job effectively requires precise coordination with the helper cells. In many patients who became seriously ill with Covid-19, this teamwork was missing, according to researchers from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States led by associate professor of medicine Dr Nuala Meyer.

According to their study, published in Science magazine on Wednesday, there are “three ‘immunotypes’ associated with poor clinical trajectories versus improving health”. The team found that in some patients there was a disproportionately large number of helper cells while the generation of killer cells was suppressed. This meant that while there was a lot of “horn blowing” about the threat posed by the virus, there were too few fighters to tackle it effectively. The second immunotype encompassed those people whose immune systems produced a much higher number of killer cells, meaning they were better armed to destroy the invaders, but not enough helper cells to coordinate the fight. As a result, they suffered significantly from Covid-19 but managed to survive it, the study said.

At the other end of the spectrum were those who failed to produce enough T cells of either kind, meaning they lacked the firepower to destroy the invasive cells and were therefore the most at risk of dying. The US study looked at 125 patients, making it the largest of its kind yet conducted. Although the scientists were unable to fully explain the different immune system responses, they suspected it might be linked to the patients’ general health at the time of infection. While most of the Covid-19 patients in the study had received more or less the same treatments, the researchers said doctors might need to consider a more tailored approach. “The findings promote the idea of tailoring clinical treatments or future immune-based clinical trials for patients whose immunotype suggests a greater potential benefit,” they said.

However, a doctor at a hospital treating Covid-19 patients in Beijing, who asked not to be named, said such a system was already in place. He said that while the reasons for different immune responses remained unclear, frontline doctors had been observing huge differences in the way people reacted to treatment methods since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in China. A treatment that might work wonders for one person, could kill another, he said. “Too many helper T cells can lead to a storm [of inflammation],” he said. “Some drugs can suppress this signal before they raise havoc.”

Read more …

We know nothing. When will we acknowledge that?

My Patient Caught COVID19 Twice. So Long To Herd Immunity Hopes? (Vox)

“Wait. I can catch Covid twice?” my 50-year-old patient asked in disbelief. It was the beginning of July, and he had just tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, for a second time — three months after a previous infection. While there’s still much we don’t understand about immunity to this new illness, a small but growing number of cases like his suggest the answer is yes. Covid-19 may also be much worse the second time around. During his first infection, my patient experienced a mild cough and sore throat. His second infection, in contrast, was marked by a high fever, shortness of breath, and hypoxia, resulting in multiple trips to the hospital.

Recent reports and conversations with physician colleagues suggest my patient is not alone. Two patients in New Jersey, for instance, appear to have contracted Covid-19 a second time almost two months after fully recovering from their first infection. Daniel Griffin, a physician and researcher at Columbia University in New York, recently described a case of presumed reinfection on the This Week in Virology podcast. It is possible, but unlikely, that my patient had a single infection that lasted three months. Some Covid-19 patients (now dubbed “long haulers”) do appear to suffer persistent infections and symptoms. My patient, however, cleared his infection — he had two negative PCR tests after his first infection — and felt healthy for nearly six weeks.

I believe it is far more likely that my patient fully recovered from his first infection, then caught Covid-19 a second time after being exposed to a young adult family member with the virus. He was unable to get an antibody test after his first infection, so we do not know whether his immune system mounted an effective antibody response or not. Regardless, the limited research so far on recovered Covid-19 patients shows that not all patients develop antibodies after infection. Some patients, and particularly those who never develop symptoms, mount an antibody response immediately after infection only to have it wane quickly afterward — an issue of increasing scientific concern. What’s more, repeat infections in a short period are a feature of many viruses, including other coronaviruses.

Read more …

A Twitter thread that looks into a whole slew of reports on HCQ.

My Hydroxychloroquine Deep Dive (GB)

Gotta start with this chart many of you have seen by now In early June after months of following articles, treatment protocols, declarations, etc. I was curious about how the countries lined up. For the most part, it’s accurate
Image It’s not perfect as HCQ was also used in Belgium and Spain and later in Italy, but the idea is that Western Europe as a whole never embraced the ‘treat early and often’ strategy. Mostly they tried it with sick patients, didn’t work..moved on They mainly followed the WHO position. I wanted to address the chart first, because its not a work of great science. It was meant to provoke thought and discussion. Along the way, some saw it as proof. It’s not, but it does make you say “hmm..” In this thread, I’m going to try and go much deeper into the data.

Read more …

Sometimes I think maybe it’s just too simple, that people want it to be more complicated for them to believe it.

By the way, pieces like this should always mention the risk cuts when two people in an interaction both wear a mask.

And all the things you see about wearing masks outdoors? BS. Unless you’re in prolonged close interaction.

A Mask Cuts Your COVID-19 Risk By 65% (WEF)

Social distancing and wearing a mask prevent you from spreading COVID-19, but they also protect you from getting it, two experts explain in a new video discussion of coronavirus transmission. A range of new research on face coverings shows that the risk of infection to the wearer decreases by 65%, says Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Davis Children’s Hospital. “On the issue of masks, I’d like to restart—because we’ve learned a lot,” Blumberg says. “We’ve learned more due to research and additional scientific evidence. What we know now is that masks work and are very important.” Blumberg and William Ristenpart, a professor of chemical engineering, appeared on a recent livestream devoted to explaining how the coronavirus spreads and how to prevent transmission.


In their comments and answers to questions from viewers, Blumberg and Ristenpart repeatedly made the point that research continues to support the fundamental methods to prevent spreading COVID-19: Wear masks, maintain social distance, and keep social interactions outdoors whenever possible. There are two primary methods of coronavirus transmission, Blumberg and Ristenpart explain. The first is via droplets a carrier expels, which are about one-third the size of a human hair but still large enough that we can see them. Masks create an effective barrier against droplets. “Everyone should wear a mask,” Blumberg says. “People who say, ‘I don’t believe masks work,’ are ignoring scientific evidence. It’s not a belief system. It’s like saying, ‘I don’t believe in gravity.’


“People who don’t wear a mask increase the risk of transmission to everyone, not just the people they come into contact with. It’s all the people those people will have contact with. You’re being an irresponsible member of the community if you’re not wearing a mask. It’s like double-dipping in the guacamole. You’re not being nice to others.” The second major coronavirus transmission method is via the aerosol particles we expel when we talk. Those are about 1/100th the size of a human hair and are more difficult to defend against. Social distancing and staying outdoors, where there is more air flow, are helpful, Blumberg and Ristenpart say. “Studies in laboratory conditions now show the virus stays alive in aerosol form with a half-life on the scale of hours. It persists in the air,” Ristenpart says. “That’s why you want to be outdoors for any social situations if possible. The good air flow will disperse the virus. If you are indoors, think about opening the windows. You want as much fresh air as possible.”

Read more …

More stories about refrigerated trucks outside morgues.

Georgia Hospital Worker Sounds Alarm (NPR)

The emergency room overflowed with patients. Then, the next wave arrived. This time on stretchers. “They were lined up along the walls in the ER,” a health care worker inside a Navicent Health-owned hospital in middle Georgia told GPB News. “We never have had an influx like that. Since the Fourth of July, it has just exploded.” Staff members did what they always do. They tended to patients as best they could. For the sickest patients, staff searched for available beds in nearby hospitals. In previous weeks, the health care worker said, COVID-19 patients typically got transported to medical centers about 70 miles north to Atlanta or 160 miles east to Savannah. This week, there was no room. Desperate, the health care worker said, administrators began checking available hospitals in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

The distance stretched more than 850 miles north to south, from Louisville, Ky., down to Orlando, Fla. “When you have to start shipping patients out of state, it’s bad,” the worker said. “When the hospitals are full, that’s when it becomes really dangerous for everybody.” The Navicent employee approached GPB News late Wednesday, saying hospital systems are not providing an accurate reflection of what staffers are seeing inside the walls of medical centers overrun with patients. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of getting fired, and NPR is not identifying the Navicent hospital where the employee works to maintain that person’s anonymity. “People will never understand if we do not tell the truth about how bad it really is,” the employee said. “That’s what makes us so angry.”

Tired of being stuck at home, Georgians headed to beaches and bars, to hair salons and restaurants. Many flaunted not wearing masks as if the virus were gone. For some, it was their own personal way of telling the government to shove its restrictive policies. Public health officials warned of opening too fast, too soon – that you can’t wish a virus away. Georgia has seen coronavirus cases skyrocket as residents have gone about business as usual in recent weeks. Cases have topped 127,000, and more than 3,000 lives have been taken. Just three weeks ago, the overall cases stood at 69,000.

Read more …

End of July.

Unemployment Increase Set To End As Jobless Claims Climb (NYP)

A boost in unemployment pay is about to run out for people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic — as jobless claims pass 51 million. The $600-per-week federal supplement in unemployment insurance is a flashpoint ahead of talks next week on a new coronavirus relief bill. Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell oppose extending the boost — though there are hints of a potential compromise. The supplement for weekly unemployment was intended to ensure that most people kept the same income if they were temporarily out of work, but it officially runs out at the end of July. If it’s taken away, people would only get weekly benefits from state governments, which range from less than $250 a week in Arizona and Louisiana to over $1,200 with dependents in Massachusetts.


Many people have returned to work as states allow businesses to reopen, but another 1.3 million Americans applied for first-time unemployment benefits last week. From the start, Senate Republicans objected to the boost resulting in some jobless people earning more than 100 percent of their prior pay due to varying state rates, saying it created an incentive not to work. McConnell (R-Ky.) said this month that extending the boost won’t be in a new bill. “We’re hearing it all over the country that it’s made it harder actually to get people back to work,” he said. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow is pushing for a “back to work” bonus to replace the unemployment bump. But signaling room for compromise, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the top Trump administration negotiator on past packages, said last week a priority was changing the provision to ensure “no more” than 100 percent of pre-pandemic pay was awarded.

Read more …

It’s obvious the industry will not return, or at least for a very long time. So why bail it out?

Key US Lawmakers Back Unions’ Call For New Airline Bailout (R.)

Key U.S. House Democrats are backing a push by airline unions for a new round of government bailouts to keep workers employed in the face of tens of thousands of possible layoffs this fall, according to a letter encouraging other colleagues to sign on. In March, Congress approved $32 billion for the aviation industry to keep workers on payroll through Sept. 30, but as air travel demand remains depressed in the pandemic, airlines have warned of furloughs in October, prompting union calls for a six-month extension of aid. Airlines for America (A4A), a trade group representing major U.S. airlines, said Thursday it is not actively seeking new government assistance but would accept new bailout funds as long as no new strings were attached.


Under the first package, airlines agreed to limits on share buybacks and executive compensation, and issued warrants on a portion of the funds that the government can exchange for shares. If Congress enacts labor’s proposal, “we would support our workforce’s decision to pursue a simple and clean extension of the grants as long as no additional or extraneous conditions are required,” an A4A spokeswoman said. Airlines also agreed not to force any job cuts before October, giving them time to assess the pace of a recovery. Now over 60,000 airline workers at American Airlines and United Airlines alone are facing furlough warnings. Delta is hoping to avoid furloughs after about 17,000 employees volunteered for buyouts, though Chief Executive Ed Bastian said in a memo on Friday that the airline is still overstaffed in some areas based on its network and demand projections.

Read more …

To be continued.

AG Barr: US Companies Kowtow To China (JTN)

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday condemned U.S. businesses for compromising American principles while chasing profits from China. Barr during a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Michigan warned about the Asian super power’s ambitions and the tactics it uses to achieve its aims. “The People’s Republic of China is now engaged in an economic blitzkrieg — an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government (indeed, whole-of-society) campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent technological superpower,” Barr said.

“It is clear that the PRC seeks not merely to join the ranks of other advanced industrial economies, but to replace them altogether,” he said. “If you are an American business leader, appeasing the PRC may bring short-term rewards. But in the end, the PRC’s goal is to replace you.” The attorney general said that while doing business with China has failed to soften the country’s authoritarian regime, it has had negative results as some American businesses seek to appease China in order to retain the ability to do business there. “As this administration’s China Strategy recognizes, ‘the [Chinese Communist Party’s] campaign to compel ideological conformity does not stop at China’s borders.’

Rather, the CCP seeks to extend its influence around the world, including on American soil,” he said. “All too often, for the sake of short-term profits, American companies have succumbed to that influence—even at the expense of freedom and openness in the United States.” Barr pointed to Hollywood for taking actions to appease the Chinese regime. He also called out technology companies, saying that organizations “such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate with the CCP.” “The American people are more attuned than ever to the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses not only to our way of life, but to our very lives and livelihoods,” he said. “And they will increasingly call out corporate appeasement.”

Read more …

And in the midst of it all, they insist on keeping the twice-yearly idiotic move between Brussels and Strasbourg going. You don’t want to know what that costs.

So Much Money, So Little Time To Find Deal At EU Summit (AP)

As European Union leaders start pouring in early for a two-day summit starting Friday, all realize that rarely so much has been on the line. The 27-nation bloc is battered by the coronavirus pandemic, much of its economy in need of a massive aid injection and its countries riven by disputes ranging from the respect for basic democratic principles to the need for tough controls on spending. “The crisis brought about by this pandemic, with all of its economic and social consequences, is the most severe we have had to face since the Second World War,” European Council President and summit host Charles Michel said Thursday.

To make sure their nations bounce back, the 27 leaders will be assessing an overall budget and recovery package spread over seven years estimated at around 1.75 trillion to 1.85 trillion euros. “Does 1.75 trillion euros ($2 trillion) seem like a lot of money to you? Believe me, it does to the European heads of state or government too,” Michel said. It has certainly been enough to end a rut of five remote videoconference summits that yielded little to bring sides closer together and forced everyone to come in person to the urn-shaped Europa summit center for at least two days of summiteering. On the eve of Friday’s opening, French President Emmanuel Macron will already be huddling with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to find the best way to help nations most affected by the crisis.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency and is seen as holding the key to a successful outcome, already had video conference talks with Michel. “An agreement is not guaranteed — to the contrary,” said an EU official involved in the talks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing. “There are still important differences.” The members were already fighting bitterly over the seven-year, 1-trillion-euro EU budget when COVID-19 was still a local story in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Then the virus hit the EU head on and estimations are now that the economy of the 19 countries that use the euro currency will contract by 8.7% this year. It sent the EU into a panic as it was at a loss on how to coordinate policies of its member states early on. Now, the EU’s executive is proposing a 750-billion-euro recovery fund, partly based on common borrowing, to be spent as loans and grants to the most needy countries. The group of the four so-called frugal countries, led by the Netherlands, is questioning the need for grants and also wants strict governance criteria, including the possibility of veto, on how the money will be spent. There are also questions on which nations should be the main beneficiaries.

Read more …

Why even bother denying anymore?

Russia Rejects UK’s Claims Of Hacking & Election Meddling (RT)

Contradictions in the words of the UK’s top diplomat were pointed out by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova. Raab’s statement “was so ambiguous and inconsistent that it was practically impossible to understand,” she said. With London confirming that it has no proof against Russia, but still threatening retaliatory measures, “there’s a feeling that we have a new loop of the ‘highly likely’ tactics.” “Highly likely” was the phrase used by then-UK Prime Minister Theresa May to blame Russia for the chemical poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury back in 2018. Two years later, London hasn’t provided any convincing evidence to back the claim.

Raab’s “almost certain” will apparently become the new go-to formula for the UK authorities, but the tactics of blaming Russia for internal problems in Britain will remain the same, Zakharova said. The Russian Embassy in London called it a purely propagandist step, noting that it never received any notes of protest from the British parties regarding the hacking claims. As for Raab’s threats of retaliation, an embassy spokesman said that “any unfriendly steps towards Russia won’t be left without a proper and adequate response.” The hacking claims were an attempt to “tarnish the reputation of the Russian vaccine” against the coronavirus, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said.

Those behind the slur are “scared of [the vaccine’s] success because the Russian vaccine could potentially be the first on the market and it potentially could be the most effective,” he explained. It’s no coincidence that those accusations were made just after the announcement that the state regulators will be approving the Russian vaccine in August, Dmitriev added. Besides, stealing data from the UK would have made no sense for Moscow, as a Russian firm, R-Pharm, will be producing the British vaccine made by Oxford-based AstraZeneca. “No secrets are needed. Everything is already given to R-Pharm,” Dmitriev said.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

McEnany

LarryElder

 

 

Who on earth made this? And how? 2020 The Movie.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.