May 092021
 
 May 9, 2021  Posted by at 9:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  54 Responses »


Daniel Garber Buds and Blossoms 1916

 

World’s Most Vaccinated Country Sees Unprecedented Spike In Covid Cases (WaPo)
The Virus Is An Airborne Threat, The CDC Acknowledges (NYT)
Covid-19 Fear Porn Has Cast A Chill Over Love, Sex, And Birthrates (Bridge)
Chelsea Clinton Calls For Global Crackdown On Anti-Vax Social Media Posts (LS)
New York Baseball Stadiums To Separate Vaccinated And Unvaccinated Fans (ET)
Beijing’s Elusive Bid For Pricing Power On Rare Earths (Ma)
Ex-CNN White House Reporter: Journalists Don’t Expect Govt Spying & Lying (RT)
Cyber Attack Shuts Down Top US Fuel Pipeline Network (R.)
NATO Allies Take Over Black Sea for Military Exercise (Antiwar)
US Finally Stops Pretending It Would Risk War With Russia Over Ukraine (RT)

 

 


Up in the Air – “How much does your life weigh?

 

 

 

 

Seychelles.

World’s Most Vaccinated Country Sees Unprecedented Spike In Covid Cases (WaPo)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks. It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates. The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60% of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination.

But that success has been undermined this week as the Seychelles has found itself with its largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita, and has been forced to reinstate a number of restrictions. Though the number of new cases is relatively low – peaking at an average of just over 100 new cases a day – they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. [..] So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low – 28 out of more than 6,000 cases. But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness. Roughly 60% of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization had recently estimated the efficiency of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78% for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so. Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79% effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95%.

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Shouldn’t this be: “The Virus Is An Airborne Threat, The New York Times Acknowledges”?

The Virus Is An Airborne Threat, The CDC Acknowledges (NYT)

Federal health officials on Friday updated public guidance about how the coronavirus spreads, emphasizing that transmission occurs by inhaling very fine respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles, as well as through contact with sprayed droplets or touching contaminated hands to one’s mouth, nose or eyes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now states explicitly — in large, bold lettering — that airborne virus can be inhaled even when one is more than six feet away from an infected individual. The new language, posted online, is a change from the agency’s previous position that most infections were acquired through “close contact, not airborne transmission.”

As the pandemic unfolded last year, infectious disease experts warned for months that both the C.D.C. and the World Health Organization were overlooking research that strongly suggested the coronavirus traveled aloft in small, airborne particles. Several scientists on Friday welcomed the agency’s scrapping of the term “close contact,” which they criticized as vague and said did not necessarily capture the nuances of aerosol transmission. “C.D.C. has now caught up to the latest scientific evidence, and they’ve gotten rid of some old problematic terms and thinking about how transmission occurs,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. The new focus underscores the need for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue standards for employers to address potential hazards in the workplace, some experts said.

“They hadn’t talked much about aerosols and were more focused on droplets,” said David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington School of Public Health and head of OSHA in the Obama administration. He and other researchers expressed concern that the C.D.C. has not yet strengthened its recommendations on preventing exposure to aerosolized virus. The new information has significant implications for indoor environments, and workplaces in particular, Dr. Michaels said. Virus-laden particles “maintain their airborne properties for hours, and they accumulate in a room that doesn’t have good ventilation.” “There’s more exposure closer up,” Dr. Michaels said. “But when you’re further away, there’s still a risk, and also these particles stay in the air.”

Donald Milton, an aerosol scientist at the University of Maryland, agreed that federal officials should provide better guidelines for keeping workplaces safe. “We need better focus on good respirators for people who have to be close to other people for long periods of time,” Dr. Milton said. “A surgical mask, even if it’s tucked in on the edges, is still not really going to give you enough protection if you’re in a meatpacking plant elbow to elbow all day long with other people.”

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‘Love in the Time of Cholera’

Covid-19 Fear Porn Has Cast A Chill Over Love, Sex, And Birthrates (Bridge)

Throughout history, mankind has been forced to contend with a number of serial diseases, many of which had a far better track record for killing than the current coronavirus strain, which comes with a better than 99 percent survival rate. And our ancestors confronted those invisible enemies with heroism, without feeling the need to sacrifice what made them quintessentially human. In the novel ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, by the late Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the prospect of death and dying during the cholera outbreak of the late 19th century took a deserved back seat to the animated celebration of life and love that leaps from every page. “There were cockfights in the patios, accordion music on the street corners, riders on thoroughbred horses, rockets and bells,” Marquez wrote of his South American town at a time when bubble-wrapping the populace was an unthinkable preventive measure against the pandemic.

“At midnight the visitors left, the public fiesta scattered into smoldering embers…” Despite this lusty, unbridled passion for life, Marquez was careful to point out that the native population was not reckless with its health and safety, but rather took all of the normal – with emphasis on the word ‘normal’ – precautions against the deadly cholera outbreak. In one scene reminiscent of our current imbroglio, a riverboat captain is confronted by an armed patrol assigned to stop any vessel that may be transporting infected passengers. He tells the patrol that he had “only three passengers on board and all of them had cholera… but none of the twenty-seven men of the crew had any contact with them.”

Nevertheless, the commander of the patrol “was not satisfied, and he ordered them to leave the bay and wait in Las Mercedes Marsh… while the forms were prepared for placing the ship in quarantine.” In other words, the people did what they could to prevent unnecessary death, but the great play of life never stopped or hid in the shadows. What will future writers convey about our current battle against Covid-19, which many believe has led humanity to the brink of absolute madness? That far from allowing the human spirit to triumph in the face of adversity, we cowered and hid ourselves in our homes, prevented children from learning and playing together, while letting our small businesses go up in proverbial flames? That is not the way humans over the millennia have responded to crises.

Even during the darkest moments of World War II, when the threat of a Nazi attack hung heavy in the air, the daily business of living did not stop. In similar fashion, people should not let the fear and risk of Covid destroy the essence of what it means to be human. If we stop living as a way to achieve victory over an enemy – be it a foreign adversary or an invisible contagion – then we have already admitted our defeat.

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A voice of authority.

Chelsea Clinton Calls For Global Crackdown On Anti-Vax Social Media Posts (LS)

Chelsea Clinton has spoken out against freedom of vaccine-critical speech at a Vatican conference dedicated to dialogue. Speaking during a pre-recorded online meeting, Clinton, 41, responded to a question about so-called “vaccine hesitancy” regarding COVID-19 vaccines by saying that there must be a global effort to crack down on vaccine-critical social media posts. “I personally very strongly believe there has to be more intensive and intentional and coordinated global regulation of the content on social media platforms,” she said. “We know that the most popular video across all of Latin America for the last few weeks that now has tens of millions of views is just an anti-vax, anti-science screed that YouTube has just refused to take down.”

Clinton added that anti-vaccine content created in the United States “flourishes” across the world by way of social media platforms. Her attempts to convince the managers of these sites to remove the material has not worked, she said. “We know that — because I have tried — that appealing to the leadership of these companies to do the right thing has just not worked, and so we need regulation.” Clinton is the Vice President of the Clinton Foundation and the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Like her parents, she is an outspoken advocate for abortion. She appeared alongside Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Walter Ricciardi, the Italian president of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, at a pre-recorded online meeting forming part of the Fifth International Vatican “Unite to Prevent & Unite to Cure” conference. Their meeting was first aired today.

Clinton said that the Clinton Foundation has been doing what it can to convince the “vaccine hesitant” and the “vaccine refusers” to take doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. She believes it is important to differentiate between people who are “hesitant” and those in the “refusal group.” The “hesitant” have questions that she can answer, for instance regarding the speed at which the vaccines were developed, their ingredients, and “conspiracies about microchips.” The people in the “refusal group,” “often young people, don’t think they need the experimental vaccine or would prefer to wait a few years before taking it, Clinton added. They also include people in communities who “have been maltreated” by the American “health system for generations.”=

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“Cuomo insisted the new plan is legal. ”

New York Baseball Stadiums To Separate Vaccinated And Unvaccinated Fans (ET)

People who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine will be seated separately from those who have in two major baseball stadiums in New York, officials announced this week. The segregation will be enforced at Fans at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, home to Major League Baseball’s New York Mets and New York Yankees. “There are going to be separate sections for those who are vaccinated,” Randy Levine, president of the Yankees, told a May 5 briefing he joined with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “As we sell tickets on an individual basis, they will go into one of those two areas, either unvaccinated or vaccinated because we will have some inventory in both types of location,” added Sandy Alderson, the president of the Mets.

The details of how the new policy will be enforced are still being developed. Sections with people who are vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, can be full, with no capacity restrictions. But in sections with unvaccinated people, fans will need to be spaced apart six feet. All fans, regardless of their status, must wear a mask, even though the games are played outdoors. “For baseball reopening, May 19th. Two different categories. Not Yankees/Mets. Vaccinated/Unvaccinated,” Cuomo, a Democrat who has refused calls to resign over sexual assault allegations and his administration hiding the number of elderly New Yorkers who died from COVID-19, told the briefing.

“I want to thank the Mets and the Yankees from the bottom of my heart. It’s a pain in the neck for them to operate this vaccinated and unvaccinated. The gentlemen who run the stadiums are here. It’s not easy to do this. Nobody’s done this before. Nobody’s done any of this before, let’s be honest,” he added. Cuomo insisted the new plan is legal.

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“Selling gold for the price of radishes”

Beijing’s Elusive Bid For Pricing Power On Rare Earths (Ma)

From ventilator and chip shortages to what kind of ships traverses through which canals, the linkages and nodes of the global economy have rarely been in the spotlight as much as they have over the last 12 months. Many of these disruptions are short-term ones, but they have also brought attention to longstanding challenges of supply chain resilience and dependence. One of those challenges is that of China’s grip on rare earth elements (REEs), a key input in permanent magnets that are in everything from smart phones and wind turbines to electric vehicles and missile guidance systems. This is not the first time these 17 elements that sit at the bottom of the periodic table have raised alarm from Tokyo to Washington. Back in 2010, Beijing was roundly accused of embargoing REE exports to Japan as Sino-Japan relations soured.

At the time, China was responsible for some 90%-plus of REE supplies globally, even though its estimated reserves are around just 25%-33% of the global total. Given the wide belief in Japan and the United States—which also happen to be the largest importers of REEs—that China could weaponize this resource, its supply monopoly raised hackles and intensified calls for diversification. A decade since, has much changed? I had trekked to Inner Mongolia’s Baotou Rare Earth Hi-Tech Zone back in 2010 to gain more insight into China’s designs on the REE industry and how that affected the global market. It’s worth revisiting this industry now to understand how its dynamics shaped Beijing’s thinking and intent on managing this resource.

China has long viewed REEs as a strategic resource, with the industry’s development spurred by a quip supposedly attributed to Deng Xiaoping: “The Middle East has oil, but China has rare earths.” Yet as China became the dominant supplier of REEs over subsequent decades, it saw the price of REEs plummet, hardly the price-setting influence that an OPEC exerted on oil prices. That frustrated the economic nationalists in Beijing, grumbling that China was essentially “selling gold at the price of radishes.” Much of that frustration stemmed from the government’s inability to regulate a wild industry that was rife with smuggling. At one point in 2011, it was estimated that there was a gap of 120% between REE volumes that China officially exported and what other countries imported.

Meanwhile, REE mining was also exacting a hefty environmental toll. The Chinese government decided it needed to consolidate the REE industry. Beijing thought it could clean up the illegal business, while also receiving some of that price-setting power that has long eluded it. What’s more, the move also dovetailed with rolling out the original “strategic emerging industries” initiative, the start of China’s effort to indigenize supply chains and move up the value chain. In other words, why export this resource for pennies when China should keep more of it for its own tech industries of the future?


Global Share of REE Production (in tons)

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“I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

Ex-CNN White House Reporter: Journalists Don’t Expect Govt Spying & Lying (RT)

American whistleblower Edward Snowden and many others mocked a former CNN White House correspondent for insinuating that US government lies and spying were unique to the Trump administration and reporters don’t expect it. Michelle Kosinski, who worked as CNN’s White House correspondent between 2014 and 2019, claimed on Saturday that “as an American journalist, you never expect” your “own govt to lie to you,” “hide information the public has a right to know,” and “spy on your communications.” “Trump’s unAmerican regime did all of these. No one should accept this,” she concluded. Kosinski was quickly ridiculed, both for suggesting that American journalists were so naive and for making government surveillance and disinformation appear exclusive to former President Donald Trump’s brief administration.


Whistleblower and former CIA employee Edward Snowden – who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program on civilians and had to flee the US – told Kosinski, “I’m afraid I have some bad news.” “You are hideously unqualified to be a journalist if you think this, good lord,” tweeted another person, while journalist Alan MacLeod called Kosinski’s thought process “the level of naive state worship required to get a top job in the media.” Despite the heavy criticism, Kosinski stood by her post, claiming Trump’s “tens of thousands of outright lies, treasonous allegiances, and attacks on democracy” weren’t “equivalent” to the mass surveillance and disinformation campaigns from previous administrations.

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A curious detail: ..a group dubbed “DarkSide,” known for deploying ransomware and extorting victims while avoiding targets in post-Soviet states ..

Cyber Attack Shuts Down Top US Fuel Pipeline Network (R.)

Top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline has shut its entire network, the source of nearly half of the U.S. East Coast’s fuel supply, after a cyber attack that the company said was caused by ransomware. The incident is one of the most disruptive digital ransom operations ever reported and has drawn attention to how critical U.S. energy infrastructure is vulnerable to hackers. The shutdown has raised fears of a price spike at gasoline pumps ahead of peak summer driving season if it persists. Colonial transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products through 5,500 miles (8,850 km) of pipelines linking refiners on the Gulf Coast to the eastern and southern United States. Colonial said it shut down systems to contain the threat after learning of the attack on Friday.


That action also temporarily halted operations and affected some of its IT systems, the company said. While the U.S. government investigation is in early stages, one former official and two industry sources said the hackers are likely a professional cybercriminal group. The former official said investigators are looking at a group dubbed “DarkSide,” known for deploying ransomware and extorting victim swhile avoiding targets in post-Soviet states. Colonial said the incident involved the use of ransomware, a type of malware designed to lock down systems by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access. Colonial has engaged a cybersecurity firm to launch an investigation and contacted law enforcement and federal agencies, it said.

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Just dumb stuff.

NATO Allies Take Over Black Sea for Military Exercise (Antiwar)

The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command Europe kicked off the Trojan Footprint 21 exercise on May 3; what is identified as its premier special operations forces drills. The war games will be held until May 14 in five Black Sea and Balkans nations: Bulgaria, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Romania. Special forces from the U.S. – all branches of the armed forces including Green Berets – the five host nations, Britain, Germany, Spain and Ukraine are involved. With the exception of Turkey, all Black Sea littoral states but Russia are participating.


The exercise is designed for “enhancing interoperability between NATO allies” to prepare for “counter[ing] myriad threats.” Though there aren’t a thousand, only one, threat. Russia. Just as it is all-service so it is “all-domain” with air, land and sea forces engaged in combating an unnamed adversary in the Black Sea. One which has a fleet based in Sevastopol in Crimea. Trojan Footprint 21 is occurring simultaneously with the massive DEFENDER-Europe 21 war games in the same area and ahead of the Steadfast Defender exercise, also to be held in the Black Sea region.

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“..revising a section in an official transcript to play down the prospect of Ukraine joining the NATO military bloc..”

US Finally Stops Pretending It Would Risk War With Russia Over Ukraine (RT)

Would the US go to war with Russia over Ukraine? As tensions escalate between Moscow and Kiev, some have warned that the latter’s ‘alliance’ with Washington could spiral into a conflict between the two main nuclear superpowers. Except, of course, there is no alliance between the US and Ukraine. This week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken effectively ended the notion that Ukraine has Western backers ready to step in at a moment’s notice if it finds itself under attack. Pressed on whether American forces could be sent into battle against Russian troops to support Kiev in the event of war in an interview with MSNBC, he answered only that Washington is committed to “helping Ukraine defend itself.”

In other words, no. Indeed, with these words, Blinken backed up suspicions in Moscow that Washington stands ready to fight Moscow down to the very last Ukrainian, but would never risk its own troops. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the secretary of state’s response, which has effectively ended a calculated policy of strategic ambiguity over Ukraine. For years, the State Department has been reluctant to be drawn on just how far it would go for the Eastern European nation, and whether it would send its own soldiers into battle for its supposed ally.

The fact that mask has slipped now fundamentally changes the nature of the situation. It comes as the White House has also seemingly pivoted its foreign policy in the region by revising a section in an official transcript to play down the prospect of Ukraine joining the NATO military bloc. After turning to the West following the 2014 Maidan, Kiev has played up its credentials with the EU and US, emphasizing the importance of its ‘alliances’ and its role as a vanguard against supposed Russian aggression towards Central Europe. That argument is now based on less and less evidence.

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Apr 172021
 


Edvard Munch Spring 1889

 

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)
And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)
Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)
De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)
How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)
Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)
Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)
Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)
Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)
Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)
US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)
Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)
Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)
Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)
The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

 

 

 

 


A sailboat shielded by clouds, Chios Island, Greece. @avgoustidisermis

 

 

“..the architects of the biosecurity state..”

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)

The controversy erupted on Twitter even as the 32,000-foot-high plume of smoke from Saint Vincent’s La Soufrière volcano was still rising in the sky. The firestorm on American social media platforms over reports that only those vaccinated against COVID-19 would be allowed to evacuate the eastern Caribbean island sheds light on the architects of the biosecurity state who have descended on Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) to explore the limits of mandatory public health protocols in the midst of a natural disaster now projected to “last months.” Global organizations, NGOs, and members of the scientific community are coordinating emergency response efforts in Saint Vincent. Power outages, no clean water, and continued volcanic eruptions have rendered parts of the island virtually uninhabitable, plunging Vincentians who have managed to escape into a condition of quasi-statelessness where notions of human rights and civil liberties become malleable.

“Refugees are in a position of complete vulnerability,” says Dr. Diego Garcia Ricci, from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, speaking to MintPress. The constitutional law professor and data privacy expert addressed some of the issues surrounding the plight of refugees as biometric data like retinal scans, fingerprinting and even gender, become a pillar of identity documentation and incipient travel requirements in the wake of the pandemic. “While biometrics can be useful for identification purposes, mistakes do happen,” Garcia Ricci warns. Most at risk from these mistakes, abuse and racial profiling arising out of biometric digital identity systems are those whose need for the ‘state’ is made indispensable by virtue of being rendered stateless. Free agents with no agency are prime targets for global entities like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which claims to speak for close to 80 million forcibly displaced people.

Vincentians who are unable or refuse to leave the island are likely to be reclassified as “internally displaced persons” or IDPs, another kind of refugee as defined by the UNHCR. Such classifications are part of a vast structure of laws and guidelines enshrined in the archives of supranational state entities like the European Commission and the United Nations, based on the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which establishes international rules governing the treatment and rights of refugees, whose numbers have nearly doubled since 2012, ballooning from 45.2 million “displaced” to 79.5 million as of the last count.

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“In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.”

And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)

I suspected the data would be forthcoming showing this given the VAERS reports and now we have it:

I Using an electro nic health records network we estimated the absolute incidence of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in the two weeks following COVID-19 diagnosis (N=513,284), or influenza (N=172,742), or receipt of the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccines (N=489,871).


The incidence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) was also assessed in these groups, as well as the baseline CVT incidence over a two-week period. The incidence of CVT after COVID-19 diagnosis was 39.0 per million people (95% CI, 25.2–60.2). This was higher than the CVT incidence after influenza (0.0 per million people, 95% CI 0.0 – 22.2, adjusted RR=6.73, P=.003) or after receiving BNT162b2 or RNA-1273 vaccine (4.1 per million people, 95% CI 1.1 – 14.9, adjusted RR=6.36, P<.001).

Wait a second…. you said the vaccines are more dangerous yet the data says that Covid-19 is ten times as dangerous as the vaccine for the same condition. So how can the title of this article be correct? Simple: For every reported infection somewhere around ten are not reported. Either they’re completely asymptomatic (about 30%) or mild enough that the person in question does not identify it as potentially Covid-19 and thus does not get tested. Yet both of the latter confer immunity just as does a symptomatic case. Further, you’re not guaranteed to get the disease. You are guaranteed to take the risk if you get the shot. Therefore we must adjust for the risk of contracting the disease which is not certain; you may have already had it and not know it and, in addition, you may have cross-reactive immunity.

Therefore the shot is close to or even more-dangerous than the disease. The baseline for approval of any therapy is that it must be much less dangerous than the disease itself. When it comes to vaccines the usual expectation is that it should 100x or more safer to get the shot than the disease, simply on the basis that you are not guaranteed to get the disease irrespective of how bad it is. If the disease is particularly lethal either generally or to you then a risk that is material for the vaccine is acceptable. What’s even worse is that this risk is basically identically in both mRNA and viral-vector (e.g. J&J) formulations; they both cause the same result in the same percentage of recipients, yet the FDA is still allowing the mRNA vaccines to be administered!

Covid-19, in non-morbid (young, but not exclusively so) people, only kills about 1/50,000 times — so if the shot gets you 1/250,000 times it’s a bad risk since a huge percentage of infections are not medically known as they are clinically significant and you are not guaranteed to be infected at all since you may have already had it and not known it or be resistant due to a previous infection with some other coronavirus and thus not at risk of developing clinical disease. These shots are not approvable on the math for other than materially-morbid individuals. In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.

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“When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum..”

Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)

Standing behind the desk in his office in Tallahassee, DeSantis leafed through a folder of praise he’s received from around the nation and across the globe. Hanging on the walls around the relatively small space was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the uniform the governor wore as the captain of the Yale baseball team. When asked why he chose Lincoln, DeSantis said the president is the best example of a leader who had to make difficult decisions in a time of crisis. When asked why some of the leaders today have continued with lockdowns even with ample evidence of their ineffectiveness, the governor theorized that the people involved have committed too much to the narrative and have made it impossible to change course.

“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for. And a lot of these people muffed it,” he said. “When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.” Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.

“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said. Two weeks after the interview, an undercover video recorded by Project Veritas showed a technical director at CNN talking about the boost the network received due to its pandemic coverage. “It’s fear. Fear really drives numbers,” CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester said. “Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in.” The fear-mongering worked, DeSantis said, pointing to CDC statistics showing that 4 out of 10 American adults delayed or avoided getting urgent or routine medical treatment in June 2020. The agency’s report said that the pattern may have contributed to the excess deaths reported during that period, due to preventable illnesses and injuries going untreated.

Emergency room doctors had reported that fewer people were coming in with cardiac-related chest pains while more were coming in with late-stage appendicitis, something that is usually caught much earlier. The pandemic has also led to a sharp decrease in cancer screenings and detections. “When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum,” DeSantis said.

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“..the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down.”

De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)

Unless the world wants to see loved ones “burned alive in a nuclear holocaust,” politicians should cut out the “macho” act and begin to deescalate. That’s according to former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a US Army veteran. Speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News on Thursday, Gabbard said the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down. “Such a war would come at a cost beyond anything we can really imagine,” she told Carlson. “This is something that will directly impact…every single one of your viewers.” “It is a war in which there are no winners,” she added.

The conflict in Donbass started in 2014, when two pro-Russia breakaway republics unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. While a peace deal was agreed upon later that year, both sides regularly report ceasefire violations. Much of the region is now split into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. According to Kiev, both of the unrecognized states are controlled by Russia, which the Kremlin denies. Moscow says both Donetsk and Lugansk are part of Ukraine. Fears of a full-scale war have been growing in recent weeks. Media reports have revealed a build-up of both Russian manpower and equipment, particularly on the Crimean peninsula and by the eastern Ukrainian frontier. This came after news of increased shelling of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region by Kiev’s forces, and revelations that the Ukrainian Army was increasing its number of troops in the area.

Kiev is supported by the US, which has provided money, equipment and expertise. However, Washington has not given Ukraine the status of a full ally. According to Gabbard, it would be a disaster if a war kicks off in Ukraine. In particular, she highlighted the “thousands of nuclear weapons” Moscow and Washington have aimed at each other, warning that “hundreds of millions” could die and suffer if a war kicks off.

Tulsi Gabbard
https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1383022106779267076

Read more …

Uhhh, no. Putin is not eager to meet with Biden, Lavrov et al have made that plenty clear: such ameeting would only be used to make Putin look bad, or worse. And no, it’s not saber-rattling when you respond to 10s of 1000s gathering on your border.

How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)

[..] given Biden’s recent offer to sit down with Putin for a bilateral summit this summer, which is still on the table, it appears Ukraine’s leadership has been effectively sidelined. As one FT piece underscored this week, Putin’s troop build-up has succeeded in pressuring the Biden administration for a coveted summit to decide the future of Ukraine. “The summit format will also please the Kremlin by effectively cutting Kyiv out of any negotiations, and allow Putin to project the image of two global superpowers deciding the future fate of the conflict,” FT observed. Here’s more from FT… “If Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s border in the past few weeks was driven primarily by a desire to get the west’s attention, he did not have to wait too long for his reward.

Hours after his defense minister on Tuesday admitted Russia had mobilised two armies and three paratroop divisions to positions close to the conflict-wracked frontier, US President Joe Biden phoned the Kremlin with an offer of a bilateral summit: a long sought-after prize for Putin who craves a seat at the world’s highest negotiating table. …Those 50,000 extra soldiers, scores of tanks and other heavy weaponry spooked Kyiv and other European powers, and sparked a hurried response from Nato and the US amid fears over a potential outbreak of fighting between the two countries.” This wasn’t a stand-alone assessment, given also this week BBC came to a similar conclusion.

The BBC commentary underscored that the Russian troop build-up was never ultimately about some kind of hyped “invasion” of Ukraine – as Kiev officials have been shouting – but instead about bringing massive leverage to bear in forcing Biden’s hand. To the chagrin of the West’s Russia hawks, the BBC essentially pointed to a major diplomatic victory and ‘checkmate’ of sorts for the Russian side… The build-up has been impossible to ignore: thousands of Russian troops deployed towards Ukraine; US warships reportedly heading for the Black Sea and Russia’s foreign ministry warning them off “for their own good”. As the hostile rhetoric and military moves around Ukraine have intensified, Western politicians have begun fearing an open invasion and urging Russia’s Vladimir Putin to “de-escalate”.

Russia has refused: the defense ministry this week insisted its moves were in response to “threatening” Nato exercises in Europe. Then Mr Putin got a phone-call from the White House. And then, noted the BBC, Biden suggested a near-future face-to-face summit with Putin, which gives Russia the edge given it was the US side that first proposed it: “In Putin’s game of brinkmanship, Biden blinked first,” argues journalist Konstantin Eggert, after Joe Biden made his first call to the Kremlin and proposed meeting Mr Putin “in the coming months”. It’s just weeks after the US president agreed with an interviewer that Russia’s leader was “a killer”. President Biden’s new move is now a new topic of debate – disaster prevention or a mistaken concession – but in the run-up to a summit, the risk of major military action by Russia certainly fades.

Read more …

Well, the US stated again that it doesn’t recognize the present status of Crimea, maybe that’s enough to make it justified.

Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)

Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea would be “unjustified”, NATO said Friday, calling on Moscow “to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation”. Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months. Such a move could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. The move has triggered concerns in the United States and the European Union.

Russia’s “ongoing militarisation of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are further threats to Ukraine’s independence, and undermine the stability of the broader region,” a spokeswoman for NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. Blocking the Black Sea would “be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia,” she added. NATO called on Russia to “de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments”. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that Russia was justifying plans to block the Black Sea until October on the grounds that it is preparing military exercises.

“Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and impeding international maritime transit in the Black Sea, particularly near the Kerch Strait,” he told reporters. “It’s just the latest example of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine,” he added, reaffirming Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. “We call on Russia to cease its harassment of vessels in the region, and reverse its build-up of forces along Ukraine’s border and occupied Ukraine.”

Read more …

“Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan..”

Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)

Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.

On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”

Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.” The Times further reported that the United States maintains a constellation of air bases in the Persian Gulf region as well as in Jordan, and a major air headquarters in Qatar, which could provide a launching pad for long-range bomber or armed drone missions into Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh, a disabled combat veteran who resigned from the State Department in 2009 in protest of the war, stated that a genuine peace process in Afghanistan is “dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan.” Further, Hoh said that, “Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”

Read more …

Clickbait.

Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”

What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule: When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.

The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

Read more …

“Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill..”

Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)

As Democrats seized on a now-debunked New York Times report that the Kremlin placed bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan – blaming President Trump for deliberately downplaying the aggression to appease ‘Lord Putin’ (as the story goes) – Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) punched right, peddling the fabricated bounties story to any and all who would listen, according to The Federalist. Fast forward ten months later, and the Daily Beast reports that a senior administration finally admitted: “The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier. “Low to moderate confidence” is another way of saying “unproven and potentially false, “in part because it relies on detainee reporting,” which is often unreliable.


Yet, Cheney pounced in an effort to undermine then-President Trump, while using the fake news to also lobby for a prolonged military presence in the region as the Trump administration was pulling troops out of Afghanistan. More via The Federalist: “Two days later, Politico, in an article titled, “Cheney takes on Trump,” wrote, “in her latest rebuke of Trump, Cheney openly questioned whether the president was aware of reports that the Russians offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops and demanded the administration take a more aggressive posture toward the Kremlin. Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill as she continued an inner-party crusade against the president in an election year from her position as House conference chair.”

Read more …

The rest is behind a Substack paywall.

Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)

If you’d told me back in 2005, when I first met Rachel Maddow, that the lightning-quick, ultra-smooth broadcaster would someday supplant Bill O’Reilly as the #1 name in cable news, I wouldn’t have been surprised, at all. But I’d have been shocked if you told me she got to the top by being Bill O’Reilly. With Maddow in the lead role, MSNBC has become Fox, but somehow more craven, jingoistic, and shameless. If you don’t believe it, compare their narratives side by side, and see if you can spot a real difference between Bush-era Fox and Maddow’s MNSBC broadcasts from this past week. On February 16, 2001, six months before 9/11, O’Reilly said on Fox, “You know, I don’t take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore, as far as a world threat.” He added, “Maybe I’m wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?”

Within two years, O’Reilly reversed course. He launched himself into an incredible 16-year run as the #1-rated star on cable by playing Madame DeFarge for the Bush/Cheney War on Terror. His show became a nighty fireside chat in which citizens tuned in to fulminate over stories of Saddam’s boundless evil, denounce traitorous unbelievers, and engage in McCarthyite interrogations of the insufficiently patriotic. He moved the factual record by himself. On December 6, 2002, he told his audience: “I can’t, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that [Saddam] has smallpox or anthrax or he’s got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that.” But two months later, on February 17, 2002, he was saying, “According to the U.N., he’s got anthrax, VX gas, ricin, and on and on.”

Two weeks after that, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, O’Reilly was saying things like, “This guy we know has anthrax and VX and all this stuff.” He furthermore announced that “Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can’t do that, just shut up,” adding that “Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is underway will be considered enemies of the state by me.” By the runup to the invasion, O’Reilly was berating anyone who even tried to suggest the WMD case was not airtight, or had the temerity to suggest that Saddam Hussein was not the equal of Hitler. “Whoa, whoa. It’s not Hitler?” he snapped in one broadcast. “What’s the difference?”

Want to know how seven in ten Americans during the war came to believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow behind 9/11? In part, because people like O’Reilly regularly said things like, “Saddam Hussein… I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing,” and “I believe that you’re going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped [9/11] happen.” O’Reilly eventually got around to putting his “spotlight” on anyone who didn’t publicly back the invasion effort. He even took on Pope John Paul II, saying, “And then the pope sits in Rome and says, gee, this is terrible, but does not throw his moral authority behind removing this dictator.”

Read more …

The media has more incentive.

US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)

[..] there was nothing new about the suite of anti-Russia charges promulgated Thursday by the US federal government, and parroted as usual with maximum credulity across the US media ecosystem. The charges were again predicated on the idea that Russian “interference” and/or “influence” is an extremely foreboding test for the survival of US Democracy. Taking bold action, the Treasury Department levied sanctions against a bunch more Russians for their claimed nefarious behavior in carrying out this interference/influence — a fulfillment of Joe Biden’s oft-stated campaign pledge that under his watch, Russia would finally “pay a price” for allegedly engaging in such activities. Donald Trump, it was thought, had been appallingly lax in his resolve to confront this threat; now, a new sheriff is in town.

Leaving aside the question of whether it’s prudent to assume that Janet Yellen is suddenly in possession of a foolproof methodology for attributing the provenance of “cyber operations” to specific foreign individuals and nation-states, it’s worth emphasizing what exactly is being alleged in the statement. The Treasury Department document reads: “Outlets operated by Russian Intelligence Services focus on divisive issues in the United States, denigrate US political candidates, and disseminate false and misleading information.” Noting that these same characteristics could be just as easily applied to US corporate media outlets is so blindingly self-evident as to almost be redundant. Were there not “outlets” during the 2020 election that were “focused” on “denigrating” Donald Trump? Or for that matter, Joe Biden?

Do “divisive issues” not tend to be “focused on” by these same outlets as a basic precept of their core business model? Controversy = clicks/views, which equals revenue. Everyone knows this. Yet when scary Russian outlets are said to employ this same logic in their own content-production enterprises, it magically becomes dangerous enough to justify all manner of punitive government and corporate action. Including but not limited to: censorship purges, tighter regulation of online speech, and, as Biden announced Thursday, sanctions and expulsion of diplomats. “Disseminating false and misleading information”? The entire US media just got caught “disseminating” a fake story about Russians putting bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan. If you’re truly concerned about the dissemination of “false and misleading information” having deleterious effects on the health of US political culture, your first target should be CNN.

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“..the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia..”

Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)

The lesson there is that the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia, and that the mentally weak Joe Biden is merely projecting the picture of a weakened and confused USA by keeping it up. Of course, a closer read might be that these hijinks are meant to distract from the more serious and consequential breakdown in relations between the US and China, currently engineered by the blundering team of Sec’y of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who went to Alaska recently to tell the Chinese delegation that they were morally unworthy of conducting trade negotiations, thereby torpedoing the trade negotiations that they went to Alaska to conduct. Smooth move fellas.


Unlike Russia, with its eleven time zones, which actually does not want or need any more territory, China is surely making hegemonic moves all over the place, not just around Hong Kong and Taiwan but in Africa and South America, while it strives to build the world’s largest navy, exports gain-of-function viruses, replaces the US in space exploration, and excels at weaponizing computer science. China’s weaknesses are a lack of sufficient domestic oil supply and food, which its current moves aim to correct. It was on its way to turning the US into a raw materials and food-crop colony when Mr. Trump came along and tried to put a stop to that. And now Ol’ Joe has cancelled that action — after being on the receiving end of Chinese financial largesse in four years out-of-office. Nothing to see there, folks, says Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, with its trove of incriminating memoranda.

Read more …

Glenn Greenwald: In this interview with @thedailybeast, this statement from Hunter Biden about his emails and laptop is a complete lie. No intelligence agency, let alone all of them, concluded it was a Russian operation, but you wouldn’t know that from the DB article:

Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)

Jong-Fast asks Biden when he realized that the former president and his son were fixated on him. “That was right around when I started to get sober and clean… It was only then did I realize the level of their obsession because long enough to look up from whatever drink or drug I was just pursuing at the moment. And it seemed like that every word out of the president’s mouth was some kind of demeaning or just horrible insult towards me,” he answers. “Do you think they did it because they wanted you to kill yourself?” Jong-Fast replies. “As a person in recovery, one of the things that I have truly tried to come to grips with is that the world actually does not revolve around me,” Biden says. “I mean, usually it doesn’t. But on this, I feel that it does,” Jong-Fast says.

“I don’t think that they thought that they would necessarily convince anyone not to vote for my dad because I’m an addict. I think there’s far, far too many people—I mean, everyone I know knows someone that they love—that suffer from addiction,” Biden says. “I think that they thought that they would be able to distract my dad enough that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the campaign… But it had the exact opposite effect… They obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a family, at least this family.” Jong-Fast also asks Biden about the leaked emails that caused such a stir at the end of the campaign. He claims he had no idea what she’s talking about. The email from an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, thanking Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father and spend some time with him”?

“I truly don’t know the origin of a lot of this stuff,” Biden replies. The email titled “expectations,” which involved details for how much he might get paid by China’s largest private energy company? “I literally don’t know what you’re even referring to. Is it from me?” Biden answers. “You know, I mean, there is a intelligence report from, from all of our intelligence agencies that has come to the conclusion that this was a Russian operation.”

Read more …

“This is a good time to be old. ”

Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)

Money will become more and more digitized, according to Jim Rogers, investor, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Quantum Fund, but the question is whether or not non-government issued digital currencies will prevail. “If cryptocurrencies become successful, most governments will outlaw it, because they don’t want to lose their monopoly, every government in the world is working on computer money now, including the U.S. The Chinese are there already. I can’t imagine that the governments are going to say ok, this is our crypto money, or you can use their crypto money, that’s not the way governments work, historically,” Rogers told Michelle Makori, editor-in-chief of Kitco News.

Read more …

“Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.”

The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

In the late 1990s China experienced a massive bad debt crisis – there are estimates that more than half of its state-owned enterprises( SOEs) were insolvent in the mid-1990s – with the non-performing loans within the balance sheets of China’s four major banks thought to be between a quarter and a third of their total assets. The government reacted to the emergence of that destabilising mountain of bad debts by recapitalising the state-owned banks; carving out their non-performing loans and handing them over to four new asset management companies to manage them out of the system over time. Huarong was one of those asset managers, established to acquire and then manage the bad loans made by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Huarong predicament and the context of the swelling tide of SOE-related defaults highlight not just dangerously and system-threatening excessive leverage and poor allocation of capital within the heart of China’s economy but significant, indeed egregious, governance failures. Now the company set up to manage bad debts is itself apparently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy due to its own non-performing loans and will either be restructured or fail. While it is not a bank it is a substantial financial institution, with about $340 billion of assets and net assets of about $32 billion. Embarrassingly for the Chinese authorities, although it listed In Hong Kong in 2015, it is a state-controlled enterprise. The Ministry of Finance owns a majority of its shares.

The company got itself into trouble, it seems, by expanding beyond its charter as a manager of banks’ bad debts into quasi banking activities itself; lending to property developers, setting up securities trading businesses and essentially playing in the shadows of the system that the tightly-regulated banks have been forbidden to enter.It was able to do so because its former chairman, Lai Xiaomin, was by his own admission subjected to absolutely no oversight and was able to treat Huarong as his own plaything. When he was arrested in 2018 he admitted taking more than $350 million of “bribes” over the previous decade and was found to have about $50 million of cash stashed in an apartment he called “The Supermarket.” Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.

Read more …

 

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Mandarinfish

 

 

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Apr 152021
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee 1633
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest property theft in the world. Never recovered

 

Idiocy: Experimental Vaccines And Spike Proteins (Denninger)
Continued Lockdowns A Ticking Time Bomb To Cause Global Health Crisis Soon (RT)
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use Will Remain Paused In US Amid Evaluation (G.)
South Africa Covid Variant Found In Another Part Of London (Mirror)
How CO2 Sensors Might Help Us Return To ‘Normal’ (Verge)
Greece To Reopen To US Tourists Next Week – Under Conditions (F.)
US Intel Warns Of ‘Sustained Economic Downturn’, Other Long-Term Threats (ZH)
Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices (NBC)
US To Withdraw From Afghanistan Having Accomplished… Nothing (Ritter)
Putin’s Ukrainian Judo (Dmitry Orlov)
US Cancels Black Sea Deployment Of Two Warships: Turkey (Y!)
Biden To Unveil Russia Sanctions Over SolarWinds Hack, Election Meddling (G.)
Let’s Play The “Pay For” Game (Stephanie Kelton)
The Future Is Carbon Coin (Steve Keen)

 

 

 

 

Tucker Fauci
https://twitter.com/i/status/1382496036510384131

 

 

“..it is gross malpractice by any reasonable definition to refuse to give a patient any sort of treatment on an early basis for a given disease, deliberately doing nothing until the person is on death’s door.”

Idiocy: Experimental Vaccines And Spike Proteins (Denninger)

Do remember that when Covid-19 kills it almost-universally does so with a presentation of clotting in places where it should not occur, and that elevated d-Dimer is a very reliable indication that you’re going to get hammered. This was reported in the first few months of last year and I noted very early on that it was happening, it fully explained why ventilators were worthless since without gas exchange due to clotting you can ram however much oxygen into the lungs and it will do nothing or worse, cause physical damage and embolisms, and that getting to the bottom of that and stopping it when detected was key to management of severe cases that were at risk of becoming fatal. In addition preventing those events through early treatment modalities was obviously essential as once you get into that sort of dysregulation of your body’s systems you’re in trouble and the odds of dying are very high.

The evidence is, by the way, that the mRNA vaccines have a worse safety profile than the J&J shot does. Who remembers the healthy doc who got one of the mRNA shots and had the same thing happen to him? Go look up the death numbers associated with Covid19 vaccines yourself in VAERS. Do remember that VAERS, because it is a voluntary system and the hospitals are incentivized to code anything they can as “Covid-19” because they get paid a bonus for doing so provides great incentive to find some way not to call a vaccine death an actual vaccine death. Nonetheless there are a crap-ton of reports, roughly a hundred times as many as are found for flu shots that we give morbid and otherwise not-in-great-shape people every single year.

The last time I checked dead is dead and the entire point is not to be dead. Further, it is gross malpractice by any reasonable definition to refuse to give a patient any sort of treatment on an early basis for a given disease, deliberately doing nothing until the person is on death’s door. This is only gotten away with legally because in the early days Trump’s HHS secretary invoked an emergency law provision that immunizes hospitals and doctors from lawsuits for anything they do or don’t do in the treatment of Covid-19. Oh and our wonderful, life-affirming President now, Mr. PuddinHead, has not withdrawn that exemption. Why not? Well gee, we can’t cut off the $30,000 “bonus payments” to hospitals for people with Covid, right? I mean all those *******s heroes might get sued for refusing you Ivermectin and Budesonide when you get Covid if that was to be withdrawn and you died.

That would be great horrible and we must keep the death fear going so as to get you to take a jab that might kill you too, and for which they’re also immune if it does. After all there is only tens of billions of dollars each and every year at stake from this pack of lies since they’re already telling us this will be a ritual we shall be expected to partake in every six months or year forever into the future. It ought to be obvious that playing parlor tricks on your body’s cells to produce the “spike protein” — not introducing it directly into your body which is incidentally the actual definition of a vaccine, but tricking your cells to produce it instead (and which has now been magically redefined to count as a “vaccine”) is inherently dangerous.

You’d think that a decade or more of both animal and human trials, with very close follow-up on every single human so-exposed, with all of the data written up and presented to the world in public would be required to know if this sort of malarkey has unknown but severe danger associated with it. Among other risks doing this could result in cells in very unpleasant places (e.g. your heart, spleen, etc.) taking up said “instructions” and being damaged, leading to an immune response in a very bad place that could injure or kill you, or it might lead your body to target your own cells since by definition the cells that take up said “programming” and produce the protein are diseased. If either of those things happen then the very same thing that kills you when Covid goes badly might kill you as a result of the vaccine either immediately or somewhere down the road when challenged either by the original virus — or some other as yet not-identified stimulus.

Read more …

“..thanks to the hysteria over overcrowded ICUs, staggering numbers of patients are being denied life-saving treatments for up to one year.”

Continued Lockdowns A Ticking Time Bomb To Cause Global Health Crisis Soon (RT)

By continuing to push for lockdowns to ‘protect hospitals’, authorities worldwide are denying millions of cancer sufferers and other seriously ill people essential treatment. This will lead to many unnecessary deaths.
It is shocking that in 2021, surgeries for cancer and other critical ailments are being delayed. But thanks to the hysteria over overcrowded ICUs, staggering numbers of patients are being denied life-saving treatments for up to one year.
UK media recently reported a drop of around 350,000 urgent cancer referrals between March last year and January this year, compared to the same period in the previous 12 months. A researcher described the situation as a “ticking time bomb.”

There has also been a decrease in surgeries and chemotherapy and radiology treatments, “with 44,000 fewer patients diagnosed with cancer starting treatment.” This problem is not unique to Britain. Canadian provinces face similarly unacceptable numbers of delayed surgeries and treatments. As of April, Ontario has a backlog of 245,367 “medically necessary procedures.” A 60% drop in cancer surgeries was reported when the pandemic struck last March , leaving over 36,000 Ontario cancer patients in agonizing limbo. During stay-at-home orders in 2020, some patients chose to avoid hospitals, either out of worry about becoming ill or through fear of being forcibly estranged from family and loved ones.

But also, then and now, elective surgeries and treatments have been halted under the premise that ICUs are overwhelmed. Ontario recently went into a new lockdown, and with it we saw an increase in alarmist reports of ICUs being crowded. And so elective surgeries have been stopped again. It’s worth bearing in mind that these are not necessarily cosmetic or trivial procedures, but refer to surgeries scheduled in advance, including those to treat cancer. However, some Ontario doctors are now speaking out, providing anecdotal evidence that there are plenty of ICU doctors, and even that most are “underemployed.”

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The vaccine rollouts are a huge mess, as much as everyone tries to present them as successful. That’s what happens if you don’t properly test them first.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use Will Remain Paused In US Amid Evaluation (G.)

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine will remain in limbo a while longer after US health advisers told the government Wednesday that they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot – and if so, how big the potential risk really is. The reports are exceedingly rare – six cases out of more than 7m US inoculations with the one-dose vaccine. But the government recommended a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations this week, not long after European regulators declared that such clots are a rare but possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot made in a similar way but not yet approved for use in the US.

At an emergency meeting, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrestled with the fact that the US has enough vaccine alternatives to do without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for a time, but other countries anxiously awaiting the one-and-done shot may not. One committee member, Dr Grace Lee, was among those who advocated tabling a vote. She echoed concerns about getting more data to better understand the size of the risk and whether it was greater for any particular group of people. “I continue to feel like we’re in a race against time and the variants, but we need to [move forward] in the safest possible way,” said Lee, of Stanford University.

The clots under investigation are highly unusual. They occurred in strange places, in veins that drain blood from the brain, and in people with abnormally low levels of clot-forming platelets. The six cases raised an alarm bell because that number is at least three times more than experts would have expected to see even of more typical brain-drainage clots, said CDC’s Dr Tom Shimabukuro. “What we have here is a picture of clots forming in large vessels where we have low platelets,” Shimabukuro explained. “This usually doesn’t happen,” but it’s similar to European reports with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The clot concerns could undermine public confidence in a vaccine many hoped would help some of the hardest-to-reach populations – in poor countries or in places like homeless shelters in the US. Health officials recommended the Johnson & Johnson timeout in part to make sure doctors know how to recognize and treat the unusual condition. The US set up intensive systems to track the safety of Covid-19 vaccines, knowing that side effects too rare to have occurred in studies of thousands of people could pop up once millions rolled up their sleeves. Shimabukuro said spotting such a rare potential risk amid the nation’s huge vaccine rollout “is an example of a success story for vaccine safety”.

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What’s the big fuss about? Is it just the goverment sowing panic?

South Africa Covid Variant Found In Another Part Of London (Mirror)

Huge queues have formed for newly set up coronavirus testing stations as a case of the South African variant was found in another borough. People living in an area of Barnet, north London, have been asked to take a test following the detection. They join those living in Wandsworth, Lambeth and a part of Southwark, where cases of the mutant strain have been found. A steady stream of people joined the lines at pop-up centres on Clapham Common and in Brockwell Park, near Brixton, in Lambeth, on Wednesday morning. Marshals said they had warned on Tuesday afternoon that waiting times could be up to two hours and were forced to stop people joining the queue early.


Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said. The BBC reported that the outbreak appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February. According to documents seen by the broadcaster, the country involved was not on the red list for mandatory hotel quarantine at that time, but is now. Facilities offering asymptomatic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing have now been deployed at Wandsworth Town Hall, Tooting Leisure Centre and the University of Roehampton, as well as Lambeth Town Hall and Brockwell Park. People aged 11 and over who live, work or travel through those areas are being urged to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, on top of twice-weekly rapid testing.


The South Africa variant doesn’t appear to be causing a spike in deaths…in South Africa.

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Hepa filtration systems are the only ones that work vs Covid, from what I understand.

How CO2 Sensors Might Help Us Return To ‘Normal’ (Verge)

One of the things we’ve learned over the past year is to be wary of the air around us — especially indoors. If other people are around, exhaling, they’re filling the space with their breath. If one of those people has COVID-19, they could be filling the space with infectious breath. There’s a way to make indoor spaces safer, though: improving the ventilation to make sure the air doesn’t stay trapped. That way, any potentially infectious particles quickly gust away, instead of lingering for someone else to breathe in. Experts say one way to measure how well-ventilated certain spaces are is by checking how much carbon dioxide is in the air.


People exhale carbon dioxide, so the amount of it in a room gives you an idea of how much of the air is made up of other people’s breath. It’s not a perfect measure of danger — it won’t tell you if there is actually virus around — but it’s a pretty good proxy for how risky a room could be. It’s easy to check a room’s carbon dioxide levels: all you need is a small, portable monitor. To test this idea, the Verge Science team took one of those monitors all around Brooklyn, New York, to check out the ventilation at local grocery stores, bagel shops, and bars. Watch our latest video to see what we found.

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The entire country is closed. Lockdown tourism? You can’t even sit outside, let alone have drinks or dinner.

Greece To Reopen To US Tourists Next Week – Under Conditions (F.)

Greece will reportedly permit visitors from the United States to enter for the first time in more than a year starting next week, a month earlier than the previously announced date of May 14, when the country said it would reopen to international tourists who provide a negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination. Greece is taking early “baby steps” toward a full reopening by allowing tourists from the U.S., the U.K., Serbia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union into the country starting Monday, tourism ministry officials told The Guardian and Reuters on Wednesday. If citizens of those countries can produce a negative PCR test less than three days old or proof of vaccination, they will be allowed in and permitted to skip the mandatory weeklong quarantine in place, officials said.

The tourists will reportedly be permitted to fly into Greece through airports in nine of the country’s most popular holiday destinations; Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, according to Reuters. However, travelers would still have to follow the country’s coronavirus restrictions while they’re in Greece—bars and restaurants remain closed for dining in and a nationwide curfew is still in place, though many of the country’s famous archeological sites, like Athens’ Acropolis, have reopened. Under current guidelines, U.S. citizens are barred from entering Greece at all, except in cases of “extreme emergencies,” according to the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., while citizens of some countries are allowed in if they self-isolate for a week after arrival.

Tourism makes up a whopping 20% of the economy, making reviving the industry critical for the country. Greece has not permitted Americans to visit since March last year, when Greece went under a lockdown at the onset of the pandemic. While travelers from nearly 30 countries were allowed back in just three months later in July, the government excluded Americans based on the high rate of coronavirus infection in the U.S. The Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., had no comment about the reported early opening.

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This is not a warning, this is an agenda.

US Intel Warns Of ‘Sustained Economic Downturn’, Other Long-Term Threats (ZH)

According to the Annual Threat Assessment – which comes on the heels of a separate intelligence report last week which offers a grim view of global challenges likely to be faced over the next 20 years – the pandemic is expected to contribute to “humanitarian and economic crises, political unrest, and geopolitical competition,” and will “strain governments and societies.” “The economic fallout from the pandemic is likely to create or worsen instability in at least a few—and perhaps many—countries, as people grow more desperate in the face of interlocking pressures that include sustained economic downturns, job losses, and disrupted supply chains,” the report warns. What’s more, food shortages and ‘uneven access’ to COVID treatments will contribute to humanitarian concerns, while the virus will remain a threat “to populations worldwide until vaccines and therapeutics are widely distributed.”

The report also warns that a new wave of infections earlier this year “may have an even greater economic impact as struggling businesses in hard-hit sectors such as tourism and restaurants fold and governments face increasing budget strains.” In addition to pandemic-related warnings, the report also predicts that Russia and China will continue to hatch covert influence operations (to blame populist victories on?) – and that Iran will continue to violate the 2015 nuclear agreement. According to the report, China “presents a growing influence threat” in the United States, and has been “intensifying efforts to shape the political environment in the United States to promote its policy preferences, mold public discourse, pressure political figures whom Beijing believes oppose its interests, and muffle criticism of China on such issues as religious freedom and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.”


The report also warns of domestic extremism – as the threat from foreign terrorist orgs such as ISIS and Al Qaeda has apparently abated. Instead, white supremacy is now the threat – which have led to “at least 26 lethal attacks that killed more than 141 people and for dozens of disrupted plots in the West since 2015.” For the sake of comparison, that’s fewer people killed in six years than the 170 homicides in Chicago, year-to-date, primarily committed by ‘black extremists’ against other ‘black extremists’ so to speak. “While these extremists often see themselves as part of a broader global movement, most attacks have been carried out by individuals or small, independent cells,” the report reads. “Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom consider white racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, including Neo-Nazi groups, to be the fastest growing terrorist threat they face.”

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Politicizing your highest court is always a bad idea.

Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices (NBC)

Congressional Democrats will introduce legislation Thursday to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, joining progressive activists pushing to transform the court. The move intensifies a high-stakes ideological fight over the future of the court after President Donald Trump and Republicans appointed three conservative justices in four years, including one who was confirmed days before the 2020 election. The Democratic bill is led by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. It is co-sponsored by Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York.

The Supreme Court can be expanded by an act of Congress, but the legislation is highly unlikely to become law in the near future given Democrats’ slim majorities, which include scores of lawmakers who are not on board with the idea. President Joe Biden has said he is “not a fan” of packing the court. But it represents an undercurrent of progressive fury at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for denying a vote in 2016 to President Barack Obama’s pick to fill a vacancy, citing the approaching election, before confirming Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett the week before the election last year. The anger has taken hold within the Democratic Party, and the new push indicates that it has not dissipated in an era when the party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The lawmakers, who intend to announce the introduction of the bill outside the Supreme Court building, will be joined by progressive activists Aaron Belkin, who leads Take Back the Court; Chris Kang, a co-founder and chief counsel of Demand Justice; and Meagan Hatcher-Mays of Indivisible, according to an advisory notice. All three groups advocate adding justices. “This bill marks a new era where Democrats finally stop conceding the Supreme Court to Republicans,” said Brian Fallon, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and a co-founder of Demand Justice, who described the court as “broken and in need of reform.”

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CIA.

US To Withdraw From Afghanistan Having Accomplished… Nothing (Ritter)

Biden mirrored the conclusion reached by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that left to their own devices, the US military would never depart from Afghanistan. Biden had made the rejection of the so-called “forever war” in Afghanistan an integral part of his national security strategy, but had been held hostage by conditions that had been put in place regarding the capabilities of the Afghan military and security forces to operate independently, assurances about women’s rights, assurances on the part of the Taliban regarding their relationship with Al-Qaeda, and a desire on the part of many officials – Biden included – that a residual force of US special operations forces based in Afghanistan was required for any lasting peace to be had.

In carrying out a “whole of government” analysis of US objectives in Afghanistan, it became apparent to Biden and his inner circle that by placing conditions on the withdrawal of US troops, the US would never leave Afghanistan. This decision flew in the face of the advice Biden was receiving from the military, which argued that any condition-free withdrawal would doom the Afghan government and military to a Vietnam-like collapse. Biden had also to overcome similar objections on the part of NATO and non-NATO allies of the US who had collectively deployed a 7,000-strong contingent to Afghanistan dedicated to the very training and advisory capacity the US military claimed was essential to the continued survival of the Afghan government.

[..] Biden’s decision was likewise aided by the recent appointment of William Burns, a veteran diplomat, to run the CIA. The CIA has built a virtual empire in Afghanistan, underpinned by a private army of contracted Afghan special forces who operate independently of the Afghan military, reporting instead to the CIA-controlled Afghan intelligence service. This private army represented the logical extension of the intimate and visceral involvement of the CIA in Afghanistan dating back to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Like the US military, the current CIA leadership was forged in the fires of the Afghan conflict.

Trump’s last CIA director, Gina Haspel, was the personification of this reality, having played a key role in the implementation of both the CIA torture program and the ongoing use of armed drones to kill so-called “high value targets” in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Haspel strongly opposed Trump’s withdrawal plan and worked with the Pentagon to prevent its full implementation. With Haspel gone, and Burns in as director, the CIA’s objections, like those of the US military, have been pushed aside in favor of the domestic political imperative recognized by Biden that whatever national security gains that might be accrued by remaining in Afghanistan could not offset the reality that the American public was tired of a war that never ended, and apparently could not be brought to a successful conclusion.

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“Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted.”

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo (Dmitry Orlov)

[..] what’s about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia’s troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia’s paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others’ tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then has been met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads? The Ukrainian military is much like everything else currently found in the Ukraine—the railway system, the power plants, the pipeline systems, the ports, the factories (the few that are left)—a patched-up hold-over from Soviet times. The troops are mostly unhappy, demoralized conscripts and reservists. Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted.

The conscripts sit around getting drunk, doing drugs and periodically taking pot shots into and across the line of separation between Ukrainian-held and separatist-held territories. Most of the casualties they suffer are from drug and alcohol overdoses, weapons accidents, traffic accidents caused by driving drunk and self-harm from faulty weapons. The Ukrainian military is also working on winning a Darwin award for the most casualties caused by stepping on their own land mines. As for the other side, many of the casualties are civilians wounded and killed by constant shelling from the Ukrainian side of the front, which runs quite close to population centers.

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“..a 2014 revolution..”?

US Cancels Black Sea Deployment Of Two Warships: Turkey (Y!)

The United States has cancelled this week’s planned deployment of two warships to the Black Sea, Turkish officials and media said Wednesday, amid high tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Turkish diplomatic sources said the passage of the first ship through the Bosphorus due on Wednesday did not take place. Anadolu state news agency said both deployments, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, have been cancelled with Ankara not yet informed of any possible rescheduling. Last week Turkey announced that it had been informed through diplomatic channels that two US warships “will pass toward the Black Sea” and remain in the region until May 4.


There was no confirmation from Washington either of the planned deployments or of their cancellation. Washington is required to give Ankara at least 15 days notice before sending warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. The treaty’s terms allow foreign warships to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days. US Navy ships routinely operate in the region in support of Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed forces in its east since a 2014 revolution ousted the pro-Moscow leader in Kiev.

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Don’t eve ask for evidence. It’s secret.

Biden To Unveil Russia Sanctions Over SolarWinds Hack, Election Meddling (G.)

The United States will announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, people familiar the matter said. The sanctions, in which 30 entities are expected to be blacklisted, will be tied with orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the US, one of the people said. The US is also expected to announce aggressive new measures targeting the country’s sovereign debt through restrictions on US financial institutions’ ability to trade such debt, according to another source. The wide-ranging sanctions would come partly in response to a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp that the US government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia. The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company’s products.

[..] The action will add a new chill to the already frosty relations between Washington and Moscow, which has tested the west’s patience with a military build-up near Ukraine. Relations slumped to a new post-cold war low last month when Biden said he thought Russian president Vladimir Putin was a “killer”. Biden has also vowed to take action on reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan. The US also intends to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential election. In a report last month, US intelligence agencies said Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the election to then-president Donald Trump and away from Biden. Microsoft president Brad Smith described the SolarWinds attack, which was identified in December, as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”

In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin the US would act “firmly” to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to US officials’ accounts of the call. Biden also proposed a meeting with Putin “in a third country” that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together. In the past few weeks, Washington and its Nato allies have been alarmed by a large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Anticipating the new sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week: “The hostility and unpredictability of America’s actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios.”

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Thread.

Let’s Play The “Pay For” Game (Stephanie Kelton)

Let’s play the “pay for” game. Suppose you want to spend $3-$10 trillion on a Build Back Better agenda. You’ve decided that you’re going to play the “pay for” game, which means you will show where every dollar you plan to spend is going to “come from.” 1/ The whole point is to appear “fiscally responsible,” showing that you can carry out your spending without adding to the deficit. In other words, for every dollar you want to spend INTO the economy, you have a plan to rip a dollar OUT of someone’s hands. 2/ The Biden administration has put forward their plan, which mostly relies on raising taxes on corporations. The president says it will raise more revenue (over 15 yrs) than he is proposing to spend (over 8 yrs). Don’t ask me why.

3/ Along with some other changes, the Biden plan would take the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%. Already, a number of Dems are balking at 28% and chattering about going to 25% instead. And, of course, CEOs are fighting back. 4/ If Dems don’t have the votes to go to 28%, then what? Scale down the package? Fight over other ways to raise taxes? The opposition loves it, because they know that the odds of passing anything bold drop precipitously when Dems hold themselves hostage to the “pay for” game. 5/ Is there a way out? Setting aside the MMT solution, which is to stop playing the conventional “pay for” game altogether, why not simply take the IRS Commissioner at his word? Why not make the case that you can spend up to $10 trillion without raising a single tax?

6/ If all you need is stepped up enforcement of EXISTING TAX LAWS, then you can play the “pay for” game even if you can’t get the votes for a slew of tax increases. Maybe I’m wrong and the votes are there. Give it a shot! 7/ Both strategies get you the revenue you think you need, and both reduce inequality. So I guess I’m curious to know whether the administration is digging its heels in on the need to RAISE TAXES or whether they would accept HIGHER REVENUE to play the game. 8/ As I’ve been saying for months, there’s yet another way to play the “pay for” game. Just make the case that the money you spend ‘today’ will come back to you ‘tomorrow.’ Fiscal multiplier and all that. 9/ Alternatively, we could all grow up and stop this nonsense. Admit that taxes don’t “pay for” anything and that all government spending is paid for in one way and one way only—the Federal Reserve credits the appropriate bank accounts. 10/end

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“We need a mechanism which would be popular with the poor—so much so that they would campaign in favour of it, rather than against it. We need a mechanism that hits the big consumers of carbon—the rich—rather than the poor. In short, we need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. ”

The Future Is Carbon Coin (Steve Keen)

Economists tell us that environmental problems are caused by the “tragedy of the commons”: because no-one owns the environment, no-one pays when they dump carbon dioxide into it. Their solution is carbon-pricing: put a price on things that generate carbon-dioxide—such as petrol consumption, or coal-fired power stations—and the market will do the rest. Demand for carbon-dioxide-generating products will fall, while the market will invent low-carbon products—such as electric cars, or solar power stations—to replace the high-carbon products that are causing Global Warming. Hey presto, problem solved. However, while the economics sounds OK, the politics are not: attempts to price carbon, or tax products with high carbon content, have led to social revolts.

The most colourful, literally, was the Gilet Jaunes movement in France, which started when French President Macron increased the tax rate on petrol. Working-class demonstrators donned the yellow safety vests that all vehicles in France are required to carry, and made the point that this tax was hard on the poor, but easy on the rich. They demonstrated as only the French can do, and Macron scrapped the tax. We need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. A “Universal Carbon Credit” (UCC) could be that mechanism. This is the problem with only using prices to attempt to reduce our carbon consumption: while the rich consume far more carbon per head than the poor, increasing the price of carbon affects the poor far more than the rich.

When you’re already barely able to meet your monthly expenses, a higher price for petrol for your car means you can’t afford to drive to work. But when you’re a billionaire, a higher price for avgas won’t make you leave your private jet parked on the tarmac. We need a mechanism which would be popular with the poor—so much so that they would campaign in favour of it, rather than against it. We need a mechanism that hits the big consumers of carbon—the rich—rather than the poor. In short, we need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. A “Universal Carbon Credit” (UCC) could be that mechanism. Every adult in a country would receive a UCC, measured in tons of carbon dioxide per year, for the carbon dioxide in their purchases of goods and services.

This allowance would be set, initially, at the level of the average carbon consumption in a country. Given how unequal the distribution of income has become, this average would in fact be well above the amount of carbon consumed by the vast majority of the population—90% or more of the population would not consume that much carbon per year. All goods and services would have their carbon content included, so that as well as running down your wallet when you went shopping, you would run down your UCC. For 90-95% of the population, this would not be a problem: they’d end up with unused UCCs. But the top 5-10% would exhaust their ration, and have to buy unused UCCs from the poor. The richer they were, the more they would have to buy.

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 July 13, 2018  Posted by at 9:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh View of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer 1888

 

Stock Markets See the US Winning the Trade War, Defying Propaganda (WS)
A Decade On, Pre-Crisis Mortgages Linger For Big Banks, Homeowners (R.)
Fed’s Escape From Crisis Holdings Could Hit Dead End (R.)
Social Security, Medicare To Add Another $50 Trillion to Our National Debt (JM)
China’s Record Trade Surplus With US Further Inflames Trade Tensions (R.)
Approval Of Brexit Negotiations Lowest On Record (Orb)
No Brand Of Brexit Can Command A Commons Majority (G.)
Donald Trump Is Right. NATO Is A Costly White Elephant (G.)
Trump Ready To Help Some NATO States Buy US Arms (R.)
Who Wants To Disrupt Strategic Balance In The Black Sea Region? (SCF)
Germany Puts Last Bailout Tranche to Greece on Hold (GR)
Europe’s Remarkable Ability To Remain In Denial (Varoufakis)
US Judge Asked To Create Mental Health Fund For Migrant Children (R.)
Facebook Users Marked With “Treason” Label (ZH)

 

 

“Now they had a fig leaf – the threat of future tariffs – behind which to hide their long-planned offshoring strategies.”

Stock Markets See the US Winning the Trade War, Defying Propaganda (WS)

The trade war talk has been going on since the presidential campaign but markets just brushed it off and rallied. In 2018, the trade war verbiage moved to the foreground. But until June 14, the administration vacillated between thinking about tariffs and putting the trade war “on hold,” depending on who was doing the talking or tweeting. This vacillation ended on June 14 (Thursday) evening, when it was reported that Trump had approved to hit an initial list of $50 billion in goods (1,300 products) from China with tariffs of 25%. At the time, the administration was also preparing a second list of products, accounting for another $100 billion in imports from China.

On the evening of June 19 (Monday), Trump threatened to hit another $200 billion of imports from China with tariffs of 10%. And on Tuesday, the Shanghai stock market plunged. Markets were taking it seriously. Since then, Corporate America’s propaganda machine – the same that for the past two decades had extolled the unrivalled virtues of offshoring production to cheap countries – fired up the mainstream media, which launched into incessant, deafening, repetitive, and manipulative coverage of how these tariffs would hurt US jobs more than anything.

Two glorious examples are Harley-Davidson and GM, which had been laying off workers and shutting plants in the US for years as they were offshoring production to cheap countries. For example, in July 2017, Harley-Davidson announced layoffs in the US as it was building a factory in Thailand. GM has been laying off workers in the US since 2016, even as it opted to produce more models in Mexico. Now they had a fig leaf – the threat of future tariffs – behind which to hide their long-planned offshoring strategies.

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TBTF banks have no incentive to come clean.

A Decade On, Pre-Crisis Mortgages Linger For Big Banks, Homeowners (R.)

A decade on big U.S. banks are still running down and selling off crisis-era mortgages, a process executives point to as weighing on loan growth. Eager to see a turning point in loan books, analysts count these portfolios as one factor, along with home equity loan runoff and new mortgage demand, to watch for when deciphering the true loan growth picture as U.S. second-quarter bank earnings start on Friday. Wells Fargo and Bank of America executives have flagged portfolios from prior to the 2008-2009 crisis era where banks are no longer originating similar new products when they are asked to predict a turning point in consumer loans. “These are portfolios of a bygone era that were very, very painful for the banks,” said Gerard Cassidy at RBC Capital Markets.

“They are not plain vanilla portfolios, which means they are more costly to manage. It may just not be worth the headache.” Analysts have said higher loan growth is critical to driving bank’s stock prices, but they anticipate only a modest acceleration year over year, driven primarily by commercial and industrial loans, not residential. “Remember that there’s a portion of that book that, again, is pre-crisis,” Chief Executive Tim Sloan said about Wells Fargo’s mortgage book at a May conference. He added the bank continues to examine the older portfolio’s risk-return tradeoff and sells assets when the opportunity arises, factors “that could have some impact” on growth.

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Backpedalling.

Fed’s Escape From Crisis Holdings Could Hit Dead End (R.)

Not long ago the Federal Reserve expected to quietly shed nearly half of its $4.5-trillion portfolio by around 2022, leaving little trace of the extraordinary steps it took to face down the financial crisis. But an unexpected market kink could force the Fed to scrap the plan two or three years early and permanently leave it holding $1 trillion more than it wanted. The U.S. central bank is making adjustments on the fly and keeping its options open. “I don’t think that’s problematic in any way” to halt the process “somewhat earlier,” William Dudley, the former New York Fed president and key architect of the portfolio strategy, told reporters last month.

Yet if the world’s largest holder of U.S. bonds tossed out its play book and effectively took on a more accommodative stance, the result could be an across-the-board easing of market borrowing costs, the foreign-exchange value of the dollar, and of the growing strains on emerging markets. “The evidence that we have suggests that the ultimate size of the balance sheet will be bigger than what people expected,” said Matthew Luzzetti, senior economist at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. All of this amounts to the final chapter in the Fed’s unprecedented decision over the last decade to buy some $3.5 trillion in mortgage and Treasury bonds in an effort to boost riskier investments, hiring and economic recovery from recession. In a nod to a stronger U.S. economy, the Fed since 2015 has raised interest rates well above zero and, since October of last year, begun shrinking its balance sheet to a more normal but yet-unspecified size.

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“As of this year, both programs are in negative cash flow, meaning Congress must provide additional cash to pay the promised benefits.”

Social Security, Medicare To Add Another $50 Trillion to Our National Debt (JM)

The official, on-the-books federal debt is currently about $21.2 trillion, according to the US National Debt Clock. $21.2T is the face amount of all outstanding Treasury paper, including so-called “internal” debt. This is about 105% of GDP and it’s only the federal government. If you add in state and local debt, that adds another $3.1 trillion to bring total government debt in the US to $24.3 trillion or more than 120% of GDP. Then there’s corporate debt, home mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more. Add it all together and total debt is about 330% of GDP, according to the IIF data I cited in Debt Clock Ticking. We are in hock up to our ears. In calculating debt, however, we don’t factor in Social Security and Medicare. These aren’t yet debt because they have dedicated revenue streams: payroll taxes.

Most Medicare recipients also pay premiums. To date, these revenue sources have covered current expenditures and more, allowing the programs to build up reserves. But that’s about to change. As of this year, both programs are in negative cash flow, meaning Congress must provide additional cash to pay the promised benefits. It will get worse, too. The so-called “trust funds” are going to run dry sooner or later, and it may be sooner. This month’s annual trustee report estimated Social Security will run out of reserves in 2034, and the hospitalization part of Medicare will go dry in 2026. Just for the record, those “trust funds” don’t exist except as an accounting fiction. It is like you saving $100,000 for your child’s education and then borrowing all the money from your child’s education fund.

You can pretend that you have set aside $100,000 for your child’s future education, but when it comes time to make those payments, you’ll have to pull it out of current income or liquidate other assets. The US government has borrowed (or used or whatever euphemism you want to apply) all the money in those trust funds. So, talking about running out of reserves in 2034 or 2026 is rather meaningless. We’ve already run out of reserves. Any time a politician talks about putting a “lock box” around Social Security or Medicare trust funds, he or she is either staggeringly ignorant or lying.

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Stockpiling ahead of the crash?!

China’s Record Trade Surplus With US Further Inflames Trade Tensions (R.)

China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record in June as its overall exports remained solid, a result that could further inflame a bitter trade dispute with Washington. The data came after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump raised the stakes in its trade row with China on Tuesday, saying it would slap 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items. China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the center of the tariff tussle, widened to a record monthly high of $28.97 billion, up from $24.58 billion in May, according to Reuters calculations based on official data going back to 2008.

Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China after both sides last week imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods. Washington has warned it may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods – nearly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year. The dispute has jolted global financial markets, raising worries a full-scale trade war could derail the world economy. Chinese stocks fell into bear market territory and the yuan currency has skidded, though there have been signs in recent days its central bank is moving to slow the currency’s declines.

[..] China’s exports to the United States rose 13.6 percent in the first half of 2018 from a year earlier, while its imports from the U.S. rose 11.8 percent in the same period. Separate data showed Chinese shipments to U.S. ports rose more than expected in June, suggesting some retailers moved up orders to insulate themselves from the intensifying trade war that threatens to send up costs on a growing number of consumer products. For January-June China’s trade surplus with the United States rose to $133.76 billion, compared with about $117.51 billion in the same period last year.

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May will have to find something else.

Approval Of Brexit Negotiations Lowest On Record (Orb)

Approval of the Brexit negotiations has seen a significant fall in July – now the lowest on record. Last month 36% approved of the negotiations and it is now 29%. In June, 32% agreed that Theresa May would get the right deal for Britain in the Brexit negotiations – this has now fallen to 26% – the lowest again on record. These 2,027 interviews were carried out before the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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Perhaps the biggest one of a million problems.

No Brand Of Brexit Can Command A Commons Majority (G.)

Theresa May’s new cabinet has now rallied behind her Chequers plan, set out fully in the government’s white paper on future UK-EU relations. However, far from settling the Brexit debate, recent events have given rise to another nightmare scenario that is only just beginning to take shape: that every conceivable Brexit outcome may now not command a parliamentary majority. The conventional wisdom in Westminster is that since the general election last year, there is no House of Commons majority for a hard Brexit. With a working majority of only 13, including the Democratic Unionists, it would take just seven Tory MPs to oppose it. But there are at least 20-30 pro-European Tories minded to do so.

Yet May’s softer Brexit blueprint has also significantly increased the prospect of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs voting against her EU deal when it is put to parliament later this year. In the febrile atmosphere at Westminster this week, there have been rumours that up to 70 Tories could oppose it – especially if, as seems likely, May makes further concessions in order to win the EU’s backing for a bespoke deal, instead of having to choose between a Canada or Norway-style agreement. Hints in the white paper about a preferential system for EU migrants, despite May’s rhetoric about ending free movement of labour, will fuel the Tory revolt.

May’s embrace for a softer Brexit has therefore changed the Commons arithmetic – and the political calculations that come with it. It is now Labour MPs, rather than Tory ones, who may prove critical. In recognition of this, May has been reaching out to Labour MPs in the hope that soft Brexit supporters vote for her deal, neutralising the impact of the Eurosceptics voting against it. In an unusual move, David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and May’s de facto deputy, briefed Labour (as well as Liberal Democrat and SNP) MPs on the Chequers plan. But Labour won’t want to save May. Their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will almost certainly whip Labour MPs to oppose May’s deal, in the hope that the ensuing chaos will result in an election.

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What I said a few days ago.

Donald Trump Is Right. NATO Is A Costly White Elephant (G.)

Nato was founded in 1949 in response to Stalin’s blockade of Berlin. It was meant to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”. Since then, it has welcomed the American nuclear shield, at vast cost to America. Otherwise, its only military achievements have been the breakup of Yugoslavia and the loss of a squalid 17-year war in Afghanistan. Neither has anything to do with the North Atlantic. Nothing better symbolised this than Theresa May’s bizarre gift to Trump this week of 450 British troops for Kabul. Nato was about deterring an attack on Europe from Russia. In 1945, the west agreed the Potsdam settlement, accepting the Soviets’ “sphere of influence” over eastern Europe.

Thus when Russia invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, there was no question of Nato, or Europe, retaliating. The iron curtain was iron. Come 1989 and the collapse of Potsdam Europe, Nato did not approach a broken Russia to agree some new settlement. It did the opposite. To protests from Russia’s weakened leader, Boris Yeltsin, it gathered former Warsaw Pact states under its wing and advanced its border east towards Russia. It embraced Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, then the Baltic states, Romania and Bulgaria. It was like Khrushchev stationing missiles in Cuba. Only Germany counselled caution.

Nato’s provocation was so blatant as to be an open invitation to any new populist leader in Moscow to exploit Russia’s bruised patriotism: hence Vladimir Putin. He and his kleptocratic cronies are virtually a Nato creation. But the fact that America was party to the provocation does not invalidate Trump’s question. What is Nato’s policy beyond needling Russia and feebly relying on the American shield?

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But in the end, it’s all about money. That’s why NATO still exists. Nothing to do with security.

Trump Ready To Help Some NATO States Buy US Arms (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was ready to help smaller NATO countries to buy U.S. weapons as he pushed them to spend more on their own defense. Speaking after a NATO summit, at which he said nations had agreed on new spending pledges, Trump said some less wealthy members had asked during meetings in Brussels if he could help them buy U.S. arms equipment, but did not name the countries. Asked about pressures on countries with weaker finances, he said, “We have many wealthy countries with us today but we have some that aren’t so wealthy and they did ask me if they could buy the military equipment, and could I help them out, and we will help them out a little bit,” he told a news conference.

“We are not going to finance it for them but we will make sure that they are able to get payments and various other things so they can buy – because the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world: the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything.” Trump claimed a personal victory at the summit after telling European allies to increase spending or lose Washington’s support. The White House has been pushing a “Buy American” initiative which aims to help drum up billions of dollars more in arms business. The initiative has raised concerns in Europe, where some see increased weapons sales as a key goal of Trump’s repeated calls for NATO members to increase their military spending.

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Americans have no business there. Go home.

Who Wants To Disrupt Strategic Balance In The Black Sea Region? (SCF)

The US-led series of drills in and around Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline is part of NATO exercise Sea Breeze that kicked off on July 9 to last until July 21. The training event involves an international armada representing 19 countries, including such non-NATO states as Ukraine, India, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates and Moldova. All in all, 29 warships, 1 submarine, and 25 aircraft are involved in the exercise held in Odessa and Mykolayiv and the northwestern Black Sea region. The Black Sea regional security is actually an issue paid little attention to. It’s not addressed by an international forum. NATO official documents adopt an openly provocative language to challenge Russia.

The North Atlantic Alliance always emphasizes the Black Sea’s role as a critical intersection. The US-led NATO activities have been intensifying since 2014 to turn the region into another hotbed along with the South China Sea and the Baltic. Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania, three of the six Black Sea countries, are NATO members. Ukraine and Georgia are the bloc’s close partners aspiring for membership. The alliance has a significant military presence in Romania, including a US Aegis Ashore BMD system capable of firing long-range cruise missiles at Russia.

American military presence in Romania and Bulgaria is gradually growing. The US plans to deploy up to 2,500 troops at Novo Selo, Bulgaria. The facility is large enough to accommodate as many as 5,000 servicemen. Heavy tanks deployment is envisaged. The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, where NATO pledged not to deploy “substantial forces” near Russia, seems to be forgotten. The US Navy’s policy is aimed at ramping up its presence there. The presence of American warships perilously close to Russia’s borders is undoubtedly provocative. For comparison, the Russian Navy does not stage regular maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea with such allies as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela though nothing prevents it from doing so.

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First, Berlin forces Greece to keep the islands loaded with refugees. Then it forces them to load more taxes on the already destroyed economies there.

Germany Puts Last Bailout Tranche to Greece on Hold (GR)

Germany blocked a final 15 billion-euro ($17.5 billion) bailout payment to Greece after the government in Athens postponed a value-added tax (VAT) hike on a handful of islands that have been hit hard by the influx of migrants. For the tranche to be unblocked by early August, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos pledged at yesterday’s Eurogroup that the measure to retain the 30 percent VAT discount on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos will end in January 2019, and that the loss of 28 million euros of revenues will be offset from other sources.

The SYRIZA-led government postponed the VAT hike in the islands without consulting Greece’s creditors. Germany was eager to send a message to Athens that it will not tolerate any deviation from the program in the future. Commentators say that the Eurogroup decision shows how difficult it will be for the southern country to regain financial sovereignty even as it exits an eight-year bailout regime in August.

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Given how Greece gets treated, denial doesn’t sound like the correct term.

Europe’s Remarkable Ability To Remain In Denial (Varoufakis)

Europe’s establishment is luxuriating in two recent announcements that would have been momentous even if they were only partly accurate: the end of Greece’s debt crisis, and a Franco-German accord to redesign the eurozone. Unfortunately, both reports offer fresh proof of the European Union (EU) establishment’s remarkable talent for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The two announcements did not come in the same week by accident. The Greek debt implosion, back in 2010, was the ugly symptom of the eurozone’s design flaws, which is why it triggered a domino effect across the continent. Greece’s continuing insolvency reflects the deep disagreements within the Franco-German axis concerning eurozone redesign.

While three French presidents and the same German chancellor were failing to agree on the institutional changes that would render the eurozone sustainable, Greece was asked to bleed quietly. In 2015, the Greeks staged a rebellion, which Europe’s establishment ruthlessly crushed. Neither Brexit nor the EU’s steady delegitimation in the eyes of European voters managed to convince the establishment to change its ways. French President Emmanuel Macron’s election seemed the last hope for the new Berlin-Paris accord needed to prevent a suffocating Italy from triggering the next—this time lethal—domino effect.

Under Macron, new, hopeful ideas were proposed: a common budget for the eurozone; a new safe debt instrument and quasi-federal tax-raising capacities; a common unemployment insurance fund; common bank deposit insurance and a common pot from which to recapitalize failing banks. Moreover, a new investment fund would mobilize idle savings across Europe, without adding to the fiscal stress of member states. A year later, with Italy on a collision course with the EU, the Meseberg Summit between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron delivered an agreement on eurozone reform. A few days later, the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers delivered its own “solution” to the Greek debt crisis.

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Sensible.

US Judge Asked To Create Mental Health Fund For Migrant Children (R.)

A civil rights group asked a federal judge on Thursday to order the U.S. government to provide mental health counseling for the around 2,000 immigrant children separated from their parents by officials at the U.S.-Mexican border. The request by the American Civil Liberties Union follows a chaotic week for U.S. immigration officials, who failed to meet a court-ordered deadline on Tuesday for reuniting children under the age of five. The government “must establish a fund to pay for professional mental health counseling, which will be used to treat children who are suffering from severe trauma as a result of their forcible separation from their parents,” said the ACLU in court papers filed late Thursday.

The group said the cost of the fund could be determined at a future date. The rights group brought the lawsuit that prompted U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego last month to order the government to reunite families separated at the border. The family separation policy was instituted as part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to curtail illegal immigration. The administration ended the practice last month after widespread protests. The government, in the same court filing on Thursday, acknowledged that it had missed a Tuesday deadline for reuniting the youngest children with their parents, but said it had now complied with the judge’s order.

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How does anyone make this, too, about Russia? It’s your own people who use this for spying on you. Targeting ‘Russians’ is just a way to divert your attention from that.

Facebook Users Marked With “Treason” Label (ZH)

Beleaguered social media giant Facebook has removed “treason” from their database of the keywords assigned to users for advertising purposes, the company stated Wednesday after Danish state broadcaster DR reported its existence. Company spokesman Joe Osborne replied “National treason was an advertising interest because of its historical significance, but as it is an illegal act, we have removed it.” Facebook tags its more than 2 billion users with a wide variety of keywords depending on their interests – from shopping habits to political and religious views in order to sell more efficiently targeted advertising.

This makes Facebook a sublime sales channel for companies. Categorizing users in areas of interest means that companies with ads on Facebook can buy into an almost perfect audience. Eg. garden equipment for people with special interest in gardens, etc. But categorization also allows intelligence services in all countries to look at the population over the shoulder. DR suggests that the a government such as Russia could have used the “treason” tag to locate around 65,000 Facebook users who had been marked with the keyword. The article notes that they do not know “if the Russian authorities have used Facebook’s “treason” keyword” for nefarious purposes – adding “Only the Russian authorities know that.”

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