Jan 282021
 


Gustave Courbet The cliffs of Étretat after the storm 1870

 

GameStop, AMC, 4 Other “Most Shorted Stocks” Jump 135% to 538% (WS)
GameStop’s Three Largest Shareholders Earn Over $2bn Amid Stock Surge (G.)
Putin Calls Out Big Tech In Davos (RT)
US Weighing Action Against Russia For Navalny Detention – Blinken (ZH)
Biden Freezes Arms Sales To Saudis & UAE (ZH)
Do The Democrats Really Want Unity? (Turley)
Indian Tribe: Biden Just ‘Attacked’ Our Sovereignty (TH)
Proud Boys Leader Was ‘Prolific’ Informer For Law Enforcement (R.)
German Minister Sees COVID19 Vaccine Shortage Well Into April (R.)
Farmers’ Protests Reflect Existential Crisis of Indian Agriculture (OffG)
Twitter Releases New Community-Based Tool To Find Witches (BBee)

 

 

WallStreetBets is back up. Today could be epic.

 

 

Only loneliness is safe.

 

 

Hedge funds have lost many billions because other people have taken over their game.

GameStop, AMC, 4 Other “Most Shorted Stocks” Jump 135% to 538% (WS)

What a hilarious show this zoo that has gone nuts has turned into. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki came out today and said the White House “economic team including Secretary Yellen” were “monitoring the situation.” The situation being total utter mania in the most shorted stocks, such as GameStop and AMC. The SEC came out and said today it too is “actively monitoring” the options and equities markets. “Consistent with our mission to protect investors and maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets…” which was when humongous laughter drowned out the rest. Did the SEC really say “efficient markets????” Hahahahaha. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, during the post-meeting press conference today, was asked right off the bat about the mania around GameStop and similar mania stocks, and he refused to comment.

This came after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in her inimitable style: “Gotta admit it’s really something to see Wall Streeters with a long history of treating our economy as a casino complain about a message board of posters also treating the market as a casino.” The mania revolves around the most shorted stocks, shorted by hedge funds that hoped to make a killing when those stocks collapse. Short sellers have to borrow the shares and sell them, hoping that their prices will collapse, and that they can buy them back for a song and close out their position with a huge profit. And a bunch of hedge funds jumped into this shorting of the-most-shorted-stocks business, and at one point the short interest of GameStop shares [GME] was over 140% of the float, which is ridiculous, and a sign that hedge funds were taking enormous risks.

They will all have to buy those shares to close out their positions. But who is going to sell them those shares? Well, folks figured this out, and they were ganging up on these hedge funds, organizing their Wall Street revolt on the social media, particularly on the WallStreetBets subreddit. Most of these stocks have a relatively small float – that’s why the hedge funds shorted them in the first place because stocks with a small float are a lot easier to manipulate, and Wall Street has long gotten fat off manipulating stocks. And those traders on Reddit also figured out that stocks with a small float are the easiest to manipulate if enough people got together. And they figured out that stocks that were massively shorted and didn’t have many sellers left could be driven up to the point where those that were short those stocks would panic-buy those stocks to cover their short positions and curtail their losses, and that panic buying, with no eager sellers on the other side, would trigger a huge surge in prices, which could wipe out those hated hedge funds.

Tucker Charles Payne GameStop
https://twitter.com/i/status/1354624888166772739

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But if these people sell, the WallStreetBets game could be up.

GameStop’s Three Largest Shareholders Earn Over $2bn Amid Stock Surge (G.)

The three largest shareholders in GameStop, the video game retailer at the center of a frenzied dual between Wall Street and small investors, have made more than $2bn from the company’s astronomic recent share rise. Stock in the company continued its vertiginous rise on Wednesday, hitting a fresh 52-week high of $354.83, making the 13% stake held by Ryan Cohen, 34, GameStop’s largest single shareholder, worth more than $1.3bn. Over the past two weeks, according to CNBC, Cohen’s net worth increased an average of $90m a day, or nearly $4m per hour, as GameStop stock has surged more than 1,550% this year alone. Other winners include Donald Foss, the 76-year-old founder and former CEO of Credit Acceptance Corp, a subprime auto lender. Foss bought 5% of GameStop early last year for around $12m. His stake is now worth more than $500m.


GameStop chief executive George Sherman has seen his 3.4% stake jump to a value of about $350m. On Reddit, where many of the small investors have strategized over their investments, small investors too have boasted of their outside gains from beating Wall Street. But some in Wall Street are also making huge gains. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, owned 9.2m shares in GameStop at the end of December, according to a regulatory filing. If it still holds all those shares, they were worth more than $3bn on Wednesday. The gains comes as thousands of small investors have poured into the stock and forced Wall Street hedge funds, including Melvin Capital and Citron, which were betting on GameStop’s collapse, to take billions in losses.

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Shouldn’t this have come from western leaders?

Putin Calls Out Big Tech In Davos (RT)

Big Tech companies have become rivals to governments, but there are doubts over the benefits of their monopoly for society, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said, during a virtual meeting of the annual World Economic Forum. “Where is the line between a successful global business, in-demand services and consolidation of big data – and attempts to harshly and unilaterally govern society, replace legitimate democratic institutions, restrict one’s natural right to decide for themselves how to live, what to choose, what stance to express freely?” Putin wondered.


Addressing the role of social media giants in the recent election in the US, the Russian leader pointed out that these companies “in some areas have de facto become rivals to the government.” Billions of users spend large parts of their lives on the platforms and, from the point of view of those companies, their monopolistic position is favorable for organizing economic and technological processes, Putin explained. “But there’s a question of how such monopolism fits the interest of society,” he stressed.

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Oh please…

US Weighing Action Against Russia For Navalny Detention – Blinken (ZH)

A day after the Senate confirmed President Biden’s nominee, veteran diplomat Antony Blinken, as the secretary of state, Blinken gave his first press conference Wednesday afternoon. Revealing where Biden’s foreign policy emphasis will be over the coming months, he came out swinging against Putin (who else?) and Russia (in addition to mention of Iran and China in the course of the briefing), voicing that the US is “deeply concerned” about jailed opposition activist and politician Alexei Navalny. Blinken said the US administration is now mulling “actions in response to his detention in Russia,” according to Reuters. He highlighted continued concerns for Navalny’s “security and safety”. To review, Navalny is serving a 30-day jail sentence for skipping probation related to a 2014 criminal conviction.

He recently returned to Moscow from Berlin where he had been recovering from an alleged nerve agent poisoning in August. He and German investigators have claimed it was part of a Russian intelligence assassination attempt on orders from Putin, with the Russian president brushing off the accusations given Navalny is “not important enough” to be a target of state security and intelligence services. Navalny is now urging his supporters to the streets in defiance of the government. “We have a deep concern for Mr. Navalny’s safety and security and the larger point is that his voice is the voice of many, many, many Russians and it should be heard, not muzzled,” Blinken said in his statements, also noting the US is not ruling out any punitive action on the table.

He further said he finds it striking that the Putin government is so “frightened of one man, Mr. Navalny” – in an echo of earlier comments he made. Blinken said in the press briefing: “It remains striking to me how concerned and maybe even scared the Russian government seems to be of one man, Mr. Navalny.” He said the Biden White House is closely watching the human rights situation inside Russia, following Saturday protests where hundreds were reportedly detained in demonstrations and clashes with police which were deemed ‘unauthorized’.[..] “Blinken said at his first press briefing after being sworn in that the Biden administration was reviewing how to respond to actions by Russia, including the alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on Navalny, the Solar Winds cyber attack, reports of bounties on American forces and interference in U.S. elections.”

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Looks good at face value.

But WSJ: “U.S. officials said it isn’t unusual for a new administration to review arms sales approved by a predecessor, and that despite the pause, many of the transactions are likely to ultimately go forward.”

Biden Freezes Arms Sales To Saudis & UAE (ZH)

On Wednesday the Biden administration issued a freeze of all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at a moment Congressional scrutiny of America’s support to the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen grows. US involvement in the war goes all the way back to the Obama administration, with Trump also in the last months of his presidency approving billions in new arms sales to the kingdom. In particular Lockheed Martin produced F-35 stealth fighters that were set to be transferred to the UAE the have been “temporarily” blocked along with munitions to the Saudis, among other sales. Prior reports suggested the prior Trump deal was to send as many as 50 advanced F-35 fighters to the UAE.


The AP cited officials who identified “that among the deals being paused is a massive $23 billion transfer of stealth F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates.” “That sale and several other massive purchases of U.S. weaponry by Gulf Arab countries had been harshly criticized by Democrats in Congress,” the report added. The State Department said of the “temporary pause” that it is “temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending U.S. defense transfers and sales under Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review.” And Axios further details that “The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review.” It added that it “signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.”

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Well, yes, a unity where they get to call all the shots.

Do The Democrats Really Want Unity? (Turley)

Democrats are moving aggressively to muscle through an ambitious agenda in Congress that may raise serious constitutional questions and cause even greater political divisions. After noon, the real President Biden set to work on a host of executive orders. In the first two days, Biden signed almost three dozen new executive orders, ranging from stopping deportations of undocumented persons to extending a freeze on student loan payments, from mandating mask-wearing to guaranteeing access by transgender children to bathrooms and sports. Some of these executive orders, if implemented directly, could be challenged in court. However, Trump and other modern presidents have increasingly used such orders to set new priorities and policies.

What is happening on Capitol Hill is far more concerning. Democratic leaders are pushing Biden to act unilaterally, as did President Obama when faced with a divided Congress. Obama actually used his State of the Union address to declare his intent to circumvent the legislative branch after it refused to pass his legislation in areas such as the environment and immigration. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats have called on Biden to simply cancel student debt up to $50,000 per student, wiping out billions in debt and potential federal revenue. That is a major unilateral decision when the national debt is approaching $28 trillion — one done without debate or deliberation. (In fairness, students are being crushed by such debt during the pandemic and, more importantly, Congress previously gave broad authority to the Education secretary over debt management.)

Other calls for sweeping new decisions, from immigration to wealth distribution, are more concerning. Democrats insist they won both houses and the White House and, as President Obama once said, “elections have consequences.” However, this election was not an overwhelming victory or endorsement. Rather, it shows a country divided virtually down the middle. While voters clearly rejected Trump and his controversial leadership, they voted widely for Republicans down the ticket. The House saw a significant loss of Democratic seats and has one of the slimmest majorities in modern history. The Senate is divided literally in half, and a majority is only possible with Vice President Harris voting to break ties on the floor.

Clearly, voters did not support the agenda of the far left, and many seem to have preferred divided government. Yet, many on the left do not want to wait for a broader mandate to implement sweeping changes. They are pushing for the District of Columbia to be made a state, likely adding a two-vote majority for Democrats in the Senate. At the same time, there is a push to end the filibuster. Many Democrats are calling for Schumer to end that long-standing protection of minority rights in the Senate. Schumer has refused to guarantee that he will protect the filibuster tradition, even though he demanded that it be preserved during years of Republican Senate control.

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“Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any actions on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation.”

Indian Tribe: Biden Just ‘Attacked’ Our Sovereignty (TH)

The Ute Indian Tribe, the second largest Indian reservation in the United States, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega about President Joe Biden’s executive order that put a 60-day moratorium on permits relating to onshore and offshore oil and gas development. Those permits also include drilling. According to the Tribe’s Chairman, Luke Duncan, the executive order will have a harmful impact on his people. He is asking for the Department of the Interior to make an exemption to the order, allowing for permits to take place on tribal lands. “Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination,” Duncan wrote. “Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any actions on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation.”


Duncan called on de la Vega to either completely withdraw the executive order or amend it so tribal sovereignty laws are respected. Last year, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which reallocates fees from drilling on Bureau of Land Management lands to the National Parks Service and National Forest Service. The money is used for maintaining those parks and forests. According to the Colorado Sun, BLM currently has 26.3 million acres under lease to oil and gas producers. Not having new permits threatens conservation efforts across the country.

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That should make him popular…

Proud Boys Leader Was ‘Prolific’ Informer For Law Enforcement (R.)

Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters. In the Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and Tarrio’s own lawyer described his undercover work and said he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling. Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, when asked about the transcript. “I don’t recall any of this.”


Law-enforcement officials and the court transcript contradict Tarrio’s denial. In a statement to Reuters, the former federal prosecutor in Tarrio’s case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that “he cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes.” Tarrio, 36, is a high-profile figure who organizes and leads the right-wing Proud Boys in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa, short for “anti-fascism,” an amorphous and often violent leftist movement. The Proud Boys were involved in the deadly insurrection at the Capitol January 6.

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The vaccine wars have started. Get yourself some vitamin D.

German Minister Sees COVID19 Vaccine Shortage Well Into April (R.)

Germany’s health minister said on Thursday he expects the current shortage of coronavirus vaccines to continue well into April, as the government faced new criticism over the pace of its vaccination programme. “We will still have at least 10 tough weeks with a shortage of vaccine,” Jens Spahn said in a Tweet, adding that he wanted to call a summit of federal and regional leaders in Germany to discuss vaccinations. On Thursday, Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper described the problems around procuring enough vaccines as a “scandal”. Spahn said he wanted to invite pharmaceutical companies and the manufacturers of vaccines to a meeting, to make sure that Europe gets its fair share of shots and to see where it was possible to do more to support the process.


He added that he recognised that producing vaccines was very complicated and building up production could not just be done in a few weeks if quality standards were to be upheld. On Tuesday, Spahn supported European Union proposals to set up a register of exports of COVID-19 vaccines, as tensions grow with AstraZeneca and Pfizer over sudden supply cuts just a month after the bloc started vaccinating citizens. Germany reported 17,553 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 2,178,828, and another 941 deaths. [..] Germany is preparing entry restrictions for travellers from Britain, Brazil and South Africa, the interior ministry said on Thursday, as concerns of more contagious coronavirus variants are rising.

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800 million rural population.

Farmers’ Protests Reflect Existential Crisis of Indian Agriculture (OffG)

With over 800 million people, rural India is arguably the most interesting and complex place on the planet but is plagued by farmer suicides, child malnourishment, growing unemployment, increased informalisation, indebtedness and an overall collapse of agriculture. Given that India is still an agrarian-based society, renowned journalist P Sainath says what is taking place can be described as a crisis of civilisation proportions and can be explained in just five words: hijack of agriculture by corporations. He notes the process by which it is being done in five words too: predatory commercialisation of the countryside. And another five words to describe the outcome: biggest displacement in our history.

In late November 2018, a charter was released by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (an umbrella group of around 250 farmers’ organisations) to coincide with the massive, well-publicised farmers’ march that was then taking place in Delhi. The charter stated: “Farmers are not just a residue from our past; farmers, agriculture and village India are integral to the future of India and the world; as bearers of historic knowledge, skills and culture; as agents of food safety, security and sovereignty; and as guardians of biodiversity and ecological sustainability.” The farmers stated that they were alarmed at the economic, ecological, social and existential crisis of Indian agriculture as well as the persistent state neglect of the sector and discrimination against farming communities.

They were also concerned about the deepening penetration of large, predatory and profit hungry corporations, farmers’ suicide across the country and the unbearable burden of indebtedness and the widening disparities between farmers and other sectors. The charter called on the Indian parliament to immediately hold a special session to pass and enact two bills that were of, by and for the farmers of India. If passed by parliament, among other things, the Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill 2018 would have provided for the complete loan waiver for all farmers and agricultural workers.

The second bill, The Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill 2018, would have seen the government take measures to bring down the input cost of farming through specific regulation of the prices of seeds, agriculture machinery and equipment, diesel, fertilisers and insecticides, while making purchase of farm produce below the minimum support price (MSP) both illegal and punishable.

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And anyone else you don’t like.

Twitter Releases New Community-Based Tool To Find Witches (BBee)

SALEM, MA—In a new, innovative way to handle the growing problem of witchcraft, Twitter’s Salem division has now released a community-based tool, Witchwatch, to crowdsource witch identification. “Instead of having all the decision-making of who is and who isn’t a witch in the hands of a few magistrates,” said Chief Magistrate William Stoughton, “we’re going to empower the community to identify all those who have had congress with the devil.” Anyone can apply to be a part of Witchwatch (though those who have previously been accused of witchcraft will be disqualified).


Participants in Witchwatch will receive a form on which they can write down suspected witches, supporting each accusation with evidence of witchcraft, such as unexplained illness or failing crops. = If enough different individuals accuse the same person of witchcraft, that person will have a “suspected witch” warning accompanying everything he or she says. And with even more accusations, the suspect will be burned at the stake.= “It’s a great system that’s already correctly identified witches in a few test markets,” Stoughton said. “We’ll soon release it throughout all of Salem and then hopefully after that, it can be used to combat the problem of witches worldwide.”

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 272021
 


Gustave Courbet Sunset on Lake Geneva 1876

 

Bill Gates Advised Oxford to Ditch Open Source COVID Vaccine (MPN)
FBI Knew DOJ Was Preparing To Fire Comey Long Before Trump Ordered It (JTN)
Washington Will Remain Militarized Until At Least March (Greenwald)
Biden is Already Breaking Promises (Lawrence)
Legal Counteroffensive Against Big Tech Crackdown On Conservative Dissent (JTN)
Meet the Censored: Status Coup (Taibbi)
US Billionaires ‘Have Received $1.1tn Windfall In Covid Pandemic’ (G.)
Ted Cruz Attempts To Impose Term Limits On Members Of Congress (JTN)
Judge Bars President Joe Biden From Enforcing 100-Day Deportation Ban (AP)
Migrants Increasing At “Concerning Rate” On Southern Border – CBP Agent (ZH)
Ghislaine Maxwell Asks To Throw Out Case Over Epstein Plea Deal (G.)
UK Sells Arms To Nearly 80% Of Countries Under Restrictions (G.)
Humans Are Estimated To Eat A Credit Card Worth Of Plastic Every Week (USPIRG)

 

 

 

 

Tulsi Brennan Schiff
https://twitter.com/i/status/1354035548524957697

 

 

“As a result, the planet’s poor will have to wait until at least 2024 to be immunized.”

Bill Gates Advised Oxford to Ditch Open Source COVID Vaccine (MPN)

Europe is reeling from the shock news that biotech giant AstraZeneca will not be delivering anything like the number of vaccines it promised. The company informed European Union officials that they will only be supplying 31 million doses to 27 E.U. countries, rather than the 80 million they had promised would arrive by the end of March. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti predicted that the news would reap “enormous damage” on the continent that has already sustained over 32 million confirmed cases and 703,000 deaths due to COVID-19. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had been hailed last year as a miracle in the global fight against the coronavirus primarily because the research team at Oxford University had promised to share the rights to its product with any and all drugmakers, meaning that poorer countries could produce and inoculate their citizens at cost price ($3-$4 per shot — a fraction of the price of those from Pfizer or Moderna).

Last year, economist and drug patent reform advocate Dean Baker told MintPress that, “The Oxford vaccine is even more striking, since the point was to pay researchers, but not to rely on patent monopolies to generate large profits. We ended up with a cheaper, better vaccine…It would be great if we could take away some lessons from the experience of vaccine development in this crisis and get away from the antiquated patent monopoly mechanism for financing research.” However, behind the scenes, the Oxford team reneged on their promise, signing an exclusive deal with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, who made no commitment to selling the lifesaving vaccine at a low price. Even less well-known is that the decision was taken at the behest of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

“We went to Oxford and said, ‘Hey, you’re doing brilliant work,’” Gates said, “But…you really need to team up.” The 65-year-old tech tycoon is a strong proponent of patents and spends much of his time shaping global health policy. James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit that works to expand access to medical technology, said that “Gates has staked out this outsized role in the vaccine world…He has an ideological belief that the intellectual property system is a wonderful mechanism that is necessary for innovation and prosperity.” The decision to put profit before people is likely to have a devastating impact on the Global South. Poor countries are not in a position to inoculate their entire populations, especially as the world’s wealthiest nations hoard the large majority of the available vaccines while refusing to support moves by companies in the Global South to produce them for themselves.

As a result, the planet’s poor will have to wait until at least 2024 to be immunized. This latest news is unlikely to do anything but set that clock further back. Unable to secure a profit in immunizing Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans, Western multinationals have turned their back on those regions, prioritizing those who can pay the most. As a result, those in the Global South have turned to Russia and China for help. While Western media have dismissed these efforts as “vaccine diplomacy” and a “charm offensive,” while casting doubt on the Sputnik V vaccine’s efficacy, global opinion studies show the Russian offering is actually the most trusted option.

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Special Counsel.

FBI Knew DOJ Was Preparing To Fire Comey Long Before Trump Ordered It (JTN)

Newly declassified FBI memos provide startling new details that undercut the frenzied 2017 effort to investigate Donald Trump for obstruction, revealing the FBI knew Director James Comey’s firing had been conceived by Justice Department leadership long before the president pulled the trigger during a key moment in the Russia probe. The memos written in May 2017 by Acting Director Andrew McCabe and a lieutenant also provide contemporaneous proof for some of the more jaw-dropping lore of the now-discredited Russia collusion scandal. For instance, the memos directly state that then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire to secretly record Trump in the Oval Office and that Rosenstein also wanted to seek Comey’s advice — after his termination — on a possible Russia special counsel. The bureau nixed both ideas, the memos show.

The documents — declassified by Trump during his final 24 hours in office — also provide a tantalizing list of names the Trump administration considered for FBI director, including former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, ex-director and eventual Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and retired Gen. John Kelly. Eventually, Trump settled on former prosecutor Chris Wray for the job. But the memos’ most explosive revelations chronicle the decision by McCabe in his early days on the job to open a formal investigation of Trump on the grounds that Comey’s firing may have been an act of obstruction of justice designed to thwart the Russia probe. The notes show McCabe informed Rosenstein during a May 16, 2017 meeting — one of their first after Comey was fired and McCabe became acting director — that he had opened the obstruction probe.

“I explained that the purpose of the investigation was to investigate allegations of possible collusion between the President and the Russian government, possible obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and possible conspiracy to obstruct justice,” McCabe wrote in typewritten notes of the meeting. One of McCabe’s lieutenants who also attended the meeting, then-bureau attorney Lisa Page, took her own notes, observing that Rosenstein’s expressed outrage over Comey’s firing seemed odd since Rosenstein had revealed to FBI officials he and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been contemplating it since January 2017. “This was a strange comment,” Page wrote, “because it was my understanding that the DAG had previously indicated that he and AG Sessions had been discussing firing Director Comey since January, but given the nature of the conversation there was no room for follow-up.”

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“The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.”

Washington Will Remain Militarized Until At Least March (Greenwald)

Washington, DC has been continuously militarized beginning the week leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, when 20,000 National Guard troops were deployed onto the streets of the nation’s capital. The original justification was that this show of massive force was necessary to secure the inauguration in light of the January 6 riot at the Capitol. But with the inauguration over and done, those troops remain and are not going anywhere any time soon. Working with federal law enforcement agencies, the National Guard Bureau announced on Monday that between 5,000 and 7,000 troops will remain in Washington until at least mid-March. The rationale for this extraordinary, sustained domestic military presence has shifted several times, typically from anonymous U.S. law enforcement officials.

The original justification — the need to secure the inaugural festivities — is obviously no longer operative. So the new claim became that the impeachment trial of former President Trump that will take place in the Senate in February necessitated military reinforcements. On Sunday, Politico quoted “four people familiar with the matter” to claim that “Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial poses a security concern that federal law enforcement officials told lawmakers last week requires as many as 5,000 National Guard troops to remain in Washington through mid-March.” The next day, AP, citing “a U.S. official,” said the ongoing troop deployment was needed due to “ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol.”

But the anonymous official acknowledged that “the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility.” Even National Guard troops complained that they “have so far been given no official justifications, threat reports or any explanation for the extended mission — nor have they seen any violence thus far.” It is hard to overstate what an extreme state of affairs it is to have a sustained military presence in American streets. Prior deployments have been rare, and usually were approved for a limited period and/or in order to quell a very specific, ongoing uprising — to ensure the peaceful segregation of public schools in the South, to respond to the unrest in Detroit and Chicago in the 1960s, or to quell the 1991 Los Angeles riots that erupted after the Rodney King trial.

Deploying National Guard or military troops for domestic law enforcement purposes is so dangerous that laws in place from the country’s founding strictly limit its use. It is meant only as a last resort, when concrete, specific threats are so overwhelming that they cannot be quelled by regular law enforcement absent military reinforcements. Deploying active military troops is an even graver step than putting National Guard soldiers on the streets, but they both present dangers. As Trump’s Defense Secretary said in response to calls from some over the summer to deploy troops in response to the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.”

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“We want you to endorse our commitment to aggression, to unlawful interventions, to ‘regime change’ ops, to merciless sanctions, and altogether to the empire. But you must make it look nice. Make it look thoughtful and complicated and considered.”

Biden is Already Breaking Promises (Lawrence)

[..] let’s draw the old lesson. You can have democracy at home or empire abroad, but you can’t have both. We will continue to suffer the latter under Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Those drawn into thinking the Biden regime would conduct America’s affairs abroad decently and humanely and in principled fashion will now discover they have been savagely sucker-punched. Those who understood from the outset that Biden’s people would go nowhere near the essential, determining questions of exceptionalism, universalism, and our consequent dedication to empire will be repelled but not surprised as the policy framework is revealed. In this case, the moment of truth came even before Biden’s inauguration.

His saccharine inauguration speech last Wednesday, with its Hallmark-card calls for unity, was quite secondary to the confirmation hearings the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the previous day. In a matter of hours, Biden’s key national security people — Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, and Lloyd Austin as defense secretary — gave us a remarkably fulsome idea of what we are in for these next four years.Haines and Austin, neither of whose records are to be admired, are at bottom functionaries who were nominated and swiftly confirmed because they do what they are told and do not think too much—always a career-advancer in Washington. It is instead Blinken, who is said to enjoy some kind of “mind-meld” with Biden, that we must consider carefully. (Such a meld must be odd terrain.)

Blinken’s Senate testimony last Tuesday sprawled over four hours. It is best to scrutinize his remarks while seated in a chair with sturdy armrests, ideally to calm one’s nerves with a pot of chamomile tea. Seen or read as a whole, those four hours gave us an extraordinary display of how empire works and how it prolongs itself. One by one, Blinken’s senatorial interlocutors told him in so many words, “Son, this is what you need to say if you want our confirmation. We want you to endorse our commitment to aggression, to unlawful interventions, to ‘regime change’ ops, to merciless sanctions, and altogether to the empire. But you must make it look nice. Make it look thoughtful and complicated and considered.”

[..] Among Blinken’s many rather sad-to-witness “Yes sirs,” two standout: his finely chiseled endorsement of Pompeo’s reckless assassination a year ago of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s revered military commander (“Taking him out was the right thing to do”), and his approval of the Trump administration’s decision to send lethal arms to the manically corrupt regime in Kiev (“Senator, I support providing that lethal defensive assistance to Ukraine,” when the Obama administration, from which he comes, did not.)

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”.. their job, under state law, is to act as a steward for shareholders. That is their legal obligation. They are not to act as an extra-governmental arm of one party of another.”

Legal Counteroffensive Against Big Tech Crackdown On Conservative Dissent (JTN)

Paxton said the tech firms also open themselves up to challenges under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which offers broad legal immunities for social media networks that claim they are neutral platforms rather than media companies making editorial decisions. “These companies put themselves out as neutral platforms,” Paxton said. “If in reality, they’re not doing that, one, they don’t deserve the protection of federal law, special protection that no other company has. And two, they may need to be looked at under consumer protection laws, because they’re presenting consumers with a choice that says, ‘We are a platform that allows any speech,’ when in reality, they are controlling what speech is being put out there.”

Justin Danhof, general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research, faults conservatives themselves for long trying to brush aside the threat of social media viewpoint bias and censorship with hopeful assurances that “the free market will solve this.” “They said, ‘Just create a new platform,'” recalled Danhof. “‘If you don’t like censorship occurring on Facebook and Twitter against conservatives — which has been happening for a decade — create a new platform.’ So Parler did. But then [Big Tech] disappeared Parler.” Facebook and Twitter have both long denied any viewpoint bias against conservatives in their content moderation practices. Danhof compared what tech firms are doing in the United States to how these companies are acting in China.

“Apple — of course — deletes many apps from its app store, largely news apps, at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party,” Danhof said, alluding to deleted apps that pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were using to communicate and to get news and information. “So clearly, in China, Apple is operating as an extra-governmental arm of the Chinese Communist Party — acting at the behest of the communists to do what they want,” Danhof said. “Well, we have folks like Nancy Pelosi and AOC, Kamala Harris in the United States calling on Twitter and Facebook and others to ban President Trump. And to take down Parler. And what are they doing? They’re honoring those requests.”

Twitter’s permanent ban of President Trump led to a dramatic loss of share value for the company. Danhof argues that the company’s political decision has hurt its investors, thus exposing the company to civil action by shareholders for breach of fiduciary duty. “Lawsuits should abound from shareholders,” Danhof said. “Because boards of directors and management — their job, under state law, is to act as a steward for shareholders. That is their legal obligation. They are not to act as an extra-governmental arm of one party of another.”

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Live streamers.

Meet the Censored: Status Coup (Taibbi)

On January 6th, Jon Farina, photographer and videographer for Jordan Chariton’s Status Coup outlet, captured horrifying images. At the Capitol, a pro-Trump mob tried to burst into the building, and a police officer who attempted to intercede was caught in a door. He cried out in pain, but the crowd was indifferent, chanting, “Heave, ho!” as they tried to break in. Farina, in the middle of the physical mayhem as photojournalists often are, caught the scene up close while 30,000 people watched the live feed. Farina’s footage rocketed around the world, and major press outlets celebrated his work as an example of hard-hitting reporting. CNN did a laudatory story about the freelance photojournalist, with Pamela Brown asking Farina to “bring us inside the mayhem.”

Other outlets like USA Today quoted his recollections of that day, and the likes of Steven Colbert on CBS, as well as ABC News, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the New York Post, the Daily Mail, and others used it as fodder for outraged coverage of the riot: For a week or so, Status Coup was feted for service on the front lines of responsible journalism. Nearly two weeks later, on January 18th, another Farina live stream was shut down by YouTube, thanks to policies that will make it very difficult for non-corporate media going forward to do live reporting. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that if the incident from the 18th happened earlier, we may never have gotten the Capitol pictures.

On the 18th, Farina was in Richmond, Virginia, where a significant rally of pro-gun protesters was expected. There had been widespread reports warning of unrest. CBS relayed FBI fears of “credible threats of violence,” while the Washington Post said officials were “on edge” ahead of the Martin Luther King Day protest, gearing up for a full-scale assault: Members of the National Guard are on standby. Plywood covers the windows of the State Capitol. Tall metal barricades surround Capitol Square, with police vehicles idling on pathways just inside locked pedestrian gates. Downtown streets will be closed; signs warning against carrying guns have gone up around the city. “The violent, lawless insurrection and assault on democracy and its institutions that unfolded last week in Washington, D.C., will not be tolerated in the city of Richmond,” Mayor Levar Stoney warned on Thursday.

The threats may have been credible, but when Farina began live-streaming to an audience of 6,000, the event turned out to be peaceful and unremarkable, though not without interest from a news perspective. “Frankly, there might have been more press than protesters,” Status Coup’s Chariton said later. “And while it was live, it was pretty informative. Jon talked to 4-5 people, and they pretty much all made it clear that they weren’t Trump supporters, that they didn’t support what happened in the Capitol. They were pretty relaxed compared to the propaganda ahead of time.” Despite the seeming unremarkableness of the event, it shut down abruptly mid-feed. Chariton assumed something happened on Farina’s end. “Then I got an email from YouTube, telling me we’d violated their ‘Firearms Policy.’ I wasn’t aware they had a firearms policy.”

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And that’s just the 660 richest.

US Billionaires ‘Have Received $1.1tn Windfall In Covid Pandemic’ (G.)

The richest 660 people in the US have collected a $1.1tn (£800bn) “windfall of wealth” since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a report by a US progressive thinktank, the Institute for Policy Studies. The report found that the collective wealth of America’s 660 billionaires has risen by 39% since the World Health Organization declared that Covid-19 was a pandemic virus in March 2020. The billionaires combined wealth has increased from just under $3tn on 18 March 2020 to $4.1tn, according to Forbes magazine data. The report noted that there had also been “46 newly minted billionaires since the beginning of the pandemic”, when there were 614.

Chuck Collins, the director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality and co-author of the Billionaire Bonanza 2020 report, said: “Billionaires are reaping unseemly windfalls of wealth during the pandemic. They benefit from having their competitors shut down or controlling technologies and services we are all dependent on in this unprecedented time. We should tax these windfall gains to pay for recovery.” Collins said the gains the billions have made since the crisis began could “pay for all the relief for working families contained in the $1.9tn coronavirus relief package proposed by President Biden, while leaving the nation’s richest households no worse off than they were before Covid-19 hit”.

Frank Clemente, the executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said: “While we can all rejoice that our nation’s response to the terrible pandemic is now in steadier and more caring hands, we can only lament that America’s billionaires are not making a meaningful contribution to that national effort, even as their wealth continues to soar. “The Covid crisis is crushing people of colour and low-income workers while billionaires who are nearly all white have seen fortunes skyrocket. This is why we need the fair-share taxes programme Joe Biden ran on, won on and is now ready to pursue.”

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Fat chance.

Ted Cruz Attempts To Impose Term Limits On Members Of Congress (JTN)

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday reintroduced an amendment that would put term limits on members of Congress, saying the rise in “political careerism” is not what the country’s founders intended. “Today my colleagues and I reintroduced a constitutional amendment to impose #TermLimits on Members of Congress,” the Texas lawmaker tweeted. “The amendment would limit U.S. senators to two six-year terms and members of the U.S. House of Representatives to three two-year terms.” Cruz gained the support of fellow Republican Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young of Indiana, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania for the proposed constitutional amendment.


This marks the third time Cruz has introduced legislation to impose term limits on Congress, having also done so in 2017 and 2019. His previous attempts never made it to the Senate floor. “Every year, Congress spends billions of dollars on giveaways for the well-connected: Washington insiders get taxpayer money and members of Congress get re-elected, all while the system fails the American people,” Cruz said in a statement. “The rise of political careerism in today’s Congress is a sharp departure from what the Founders intended for our federal governing bodies. I have long called for this solution for the brokenness of Washington, D.C., and I will continue fighting to hold career politicians accountable.”

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Immigration remains a touchy issue.

Judge Bars President Joe Biden From Enforcing 100-Day Deportation Ban (AP)

A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.” Tipton’s order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed far-reaching changes sought by immigration advocates, including a plan to legalize an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Biden promised during his campaign to pause most deportations for 100 days. The order represents a victory for Texas’ Republican leaders, who often sued to stop programs enacted by Biden’s Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. It also showed that just as Democratic-led states and immigration groups fought former President Donald Trump over immigration in court, often successfully, so too will Republicans with Biden in office. David Pekoske, the acting Homeland Security secretary, signed a memo on Biden’s first day directing immigration authorities to focus on national security and public safety threats as well as anyone apprehended entering the U.S. illegally after Nov. 1. That was a reversal from Trump administration policy that made anyone in the U.S. illegally a priority for deportation.

The 100-day moratorium went into effect Friday and applied to almost anyone who entered the U.S. without authorization before November. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that the moratorium violated federal law as well as an agreement Texas signed with the Department of Homeland Security late in the Trump administration. That agreement required Homeland Security to consult with Texas and other states before taking any action to “reduce, redirect, reprioritize, relax, or in any way modify immigration enforcement.”

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Touchy.

Migrants Increasing At “Concerning Rate” On Southern Border – CBP Agent (ZH)

As caravans build up in Honduras, migrants are increasing at a “concerning rate” at the United States southern border, according to Matthew Hudak, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) chief patrol agent of the Laredo sector in Texas. He warns that immigration is just a piece of the threat coupled with the pandemic health risk and other crimes along the border. “Like everybody, we’re tracking the formation of these caravans in Central America,” said Hudak. The Laredo Sector is one of nine CBP sectors along the southern border. It contains about 135 miles of the international border with Mexico. On Jan. 8, CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan issued a statement on potential migrant caravans: “Do not waste your time and money, and do not risk your safety and health.”

According to Hudak, the Laredo Sector hasn’t seen a reduction of migrants in response to the statement. It has made over 30,000 arrests in this fiscal year, a 50 percent increase over the same period last year. Hudak added that similar trends are identified by other sectors on the southern border. The U.S. government fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. Hudak called the 50 percent increase “a pretty concerning rate.” He told The Epoch Times that some portions of the caravan of 9,000 migrants will make their way to the southern border. Part of the group was stopped in Guatemala on Jan. 16. Depending on the pace and the means with which these migrants travel, the arrival time at the U.S.-Mexico border may be between a few days and a few weeks. As of Jan. 21, he hasn’t yet seen a dramatic increase of migrants indicative of caravans arriving at the southern border.

Hudak said that human smuggling is usually achieved with systems shared with drug and firearm smuggling, and the fees migrants are charged feed larger criminal organizations. Therefore, he sees a more significant threat: “We may be talking about one piece of it, which is immigration, but it’s part of a much larger criminal enterprise.”

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And the jury was too white.

Ghislaine Maxwell Asks To Throw Out Case Over Epstein Plea Deal (G.)

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell complained on Monday that the pool of grand jurors who indicted her was not diverse enough, according to new court documents. “The fact that Ms Maxwell herself is neither Black nor Hispanic does not deprive of her of standing to raise this challenge,” the attorneys wrote in court papers, arguing that the US constitution “entitles every defendant to object to a [pool] that is not designed to represent a fair cross section of the community, whether or not the systematically excluded groups are groups to which he himself belongs”. Maxwell’s purported concerns about diversity stem from the geographical circumstances surrounding her indictment.

Maxwell is facing charges in the southern district of New York’s Manhattan division relating to her alleged involvement in her late friend Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of minor girls. However, she was indicted by a grand jury in the SDNY’s White Plains division before her 2 July arrest, as Covid-19 had limited grand jury proceedings in Manhattan. White Plains grand jurors hail from counties outside of New York City. Maxwell’s attorneys said they were therefore “drawn from a community in which Black and Hispanic residents are significantly underrepresented by comparison. “The sixth amendment guarantees a criminal defendant a grand jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community.

“Ms Maxwell’s right under the sixth amendment to a grand jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community applies to the grand jury that indicted her. “Here, the use of a White Plains jury resulted in the systematic underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic persons from the jury selection process, in violation of Ms Maxwell’s sixth amendment right.” Maxwell’s lawyers also argued that prosecutors could have waited to convene a grand jury in Manhattan, claiming that one such panel met “as early as” 25 June. “There appears to have been no reason, other than a publicity-driven desire to arrest Ms Maxwell on the anniversary of the Epstein indictment, why the government could not have waited until that time,” they said.

Maxwell’s attorneys made the claims as part of their push to dismiss her case. Among 12 arguments attacking the indictment, they said a non-prosecution deal Epstein reached with the federal government in 2008 should shield Maxwell too. The agreement sought to protect Epstein and those around him, but Maxwell was not identified by name in a document signed when Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state charges in Florida that forced him to register as a sex offender. Lawyers for Epstein planned to argue that the deal protected him against sex-trafficking charges in New York City.

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Insane.

UK Sells Arms To Nearly 80% Of Countries Under Restrictions (G.)

British ministers and officials have approved the sale of arms to nearly four-fifths of countries subject to arms embargos, trade sanctions or other restrictions over the past five years, according to analysis. The UK has exported military hardware to 58 countries of the 73 listed as subject to restrictions by the Department for International Trade (DIT), including sniper rifles to Pakistan, assault rifles to Kenya and naval equipment to China. The exports are legal but researchers with the group that compiled the report, Action on Armed Violence, said they represented “a systemic failure to consider the human rights record of states before exporting weapons to them”.

Countries covered by sanctions range from a handful where all arms sales are banned to a larger group covered by transit controls, where a special licence is required, for political, security or human rights reasons. Five countries listed by the trade department as key export markets for British arms makers: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, also feature on the Foreign Office’s latest list of 30 “human rights priority countries”, although not all are subject to sanctions. The report’s author, Murray Jones, of Action on Armed Violence, said his research – which reviewed UK export records between January 2015 and June 2020 – “demonstrates the frailty of the UK’s commitment to human rights abroad”.

Licences have been granted to export aircraft parts, riot shields and hundreds of sniper rifles to Pakistan, including 630 in 2016 and a further 20 in 2019, despite the Foreign Office warning in November of “increased pressure on civic space and freedom of expression” in the country, including threats to minorities. The sale of 3,000 assault rifles to Kenya for £9.45m was authorised in 2017, although security forces in the African country were accused by Amnesty International the year before of carrying out “enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture with impunity, killing at least 122 people”.

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Even more insane.

Humans Are Estimated To Eat A Credit Card Worth Of Plastic Every Week (USPIRG)

For years, we have known that the harmful effects of plastic are found everywhere in our natural environment. We’ve seen images of birds and sea turtles choking and entangling themselves to death on plastic waste. But beyond its impact on wildlife, microplastics are now concealed in the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we eat; humans are estimated to eat a credit card worth of plastic every week. We also know that plastic isn’t just harmful as physical waste; plastic products often contain harmful chemicals. A recent report compiled a summary of international research on endocrine-disrupting chemicals used to make plastic — including 144 chemicals/chemical groups known to be hazardous to human health — intended to give plastics attributes like antimicrobial properties, colorants, flame retardants, solvents, UV-stabilizers, and plasticizers.

The aforementioned report focuses on a specific kind of health effect seen in plastics and the chemicals they can leach, called endocrine or hormone disruption. Our hormones play crucial roles in many of our bodily systems and are vital to our reproductive development and growth. This means children are especially susceptible to the health risks of harmful chemicals found in plastic. The chemicals found in plastic products can linger in our environment even after the plastic has been cleaned up. A recent study found that when scientists introduced and then removed plastic from an aquatic environment, sea urchins still developed abnormal skeletons and nervous systems because of the chemicals left behind. To make matters worse, plastics have the unique ability to bind together chemicals that are otherwise more diluted in the environment, meaning they become carriers of all sorts of concentrated toxins.

Hazardous chemicals can be found in single-use plastic food wrapping and containers, which have direct contact with the food we eat and may introduce these chemicals into our bodies. One familiar example is BPA, which is well known due to “BPA-free” marketing and the European Union listing BPA as a substance of high concern. Exposure to BPA can affect brain development and behavior. BPA has also been linked to hormone disruption, reproductive problems in men and women and other harmful health impacts. There is a solution. Many of the most common single-use plastics polluting our environment contain toxic chemicals that harm human health. By banning unnecessary single-use materials — like plastic film used in plastic bags and polystyrene used in Styrofoam packaging — we could prevent a lot of these chemicals from seeping into the environment.

To reduce our risk of exposure to these toxic chemicals and maintain a cleaner environment, we must start by calling on our legislators to ban unnecessary single-use plastic and transition to non-toxic, reusable alternatives. Nothing we use for a few minutes should persist in our environments and threaten our health for generations.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 212021
 


Jackson Pollock Man with knife 1938-40

 

WHO Warns That PCR COVID Tests Are More Likely To Give False Positives (PM)
No Decline In Very High COVID Rates During 1st Week Of UK’s 3rd Lockdown (ITV)
France Issues Warning Over Use Of Homemade Masks Against New Variants (G.)
Biden To Sign 53 Executive Orders In First 10 Days (Hill)
Inaugural Display Symbolizing 56 US States, Territories (JTN)
Globalist “Manifesto” For Post-Trump Economic “Reset” (ZH)
Biden Will Recognize Guaido As Venezuela’s Leader – Blinken (R.)
US To Keep Embassy In Jerusalem – Blinken (AlJ)
John Brennan’s ‘List’ Of Ideologies Biden Intel Community Should Go After (ZH)
Call For New “Secret Police” Force to Spy on Trump Supporters (SN)
Silicon Valley CEOs Can’t Decide Laws And Rules – EU Commission President (RT)
Germany Enacts Major Overhaul of Its Competition Regime for the Digital Era (WSGR)
The Fed’s Inconvenient Truth: Inflation Is “M.I.A.” (RIA)

 

 

We went from 24/7 negative about Trump to 24/7 positive about Joe Biden. And then they’ll find out that 24/7 positive does not induce clickbait. And then what happens after that?

And really? J-Lo singing Woody Guthrie to celebrate the DC culture?

 

 

Here’s the state of your media for the next 4 years:

 

 

Today’s best meme:

 

 

They’re actually going to do it, they’re going to lower the PCR cycle threshold as soon as Biden comes in? That would be hilarious.

“The notice was released only one hour after President Joe Biden was sworn into office..”

WHO Warns That PCR COVID Tests Are More Likely To Give False Positives (PM)

The World Health Organization issued a notice on Wednesday warning medical professionals to follow instructions of PCR tests for coronavirus to avoid getting false positive results. The notice was released only one hour after President Joe Biden was sworn into office, leading some observers to question the timing of the release. If the PCR tests are resulting in false-positives, and that information is now used to mitigate the large positivity numbers, the number of case counts will begin to drop. The optics of a decreasing COVID-case count would be a boon for the launch of the Biden administration. The new guidance states that the “WHO reminds IVD users that disease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results; as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of false positive increases (2).”


The notice reads: “This means that the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS-CoV-2 detected) is truly infected with SARS-CoV-2 decreases as prevalence decreases, irrespective of the claimed specificity.” Former President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the United States leading the world in both total cases and total deaths, although not per capita, according to official statistics. A big problem for Trump had been the continuous increase in COVID-case counts. If many of those cases were established as extant with the help of PCR tests that were resulting in false-positives, that would mean that the case count for which Trump was criticized was not a factual number.

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In the UK, this will be a bitter fight.

No Decline In Very High COVID Rates During 1st Week Of UK’s 3rd Lockdown (ITV)

The spread of coronavirus did not decline during the first week of England’s third lockdown, a study has shown. The latest React study, from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, states that during the initial 10 days of the third Covid-19 lockdown in England, “prevalence of coronavirus was very high with no evidence of decline”. Researchers also found that the prevalence of Covid-19 across England increased by 50% between early December and the second week of January. After testing more than 142,900 volunteers in England between January 6 and 15, they found that one in 63 people were infected. The report, which researchers said does not yet reflect the impact of the national lockdown, also showed there were “worrying suggestions of a recent uptick in infections”.


National prevalence of the virus increased by half, from 0.91% in early December to 1.58%, the latest React study showed. While there was a rise in prevalence across all adult age groups, it was highest in 18- to 24-year-olds, and more than doubled in the over 65s age group. London saw the highest regional prevalence, jumping from 1.21% to 2.8%, while there were also rises in the south east, east of England, West Midlands, south west and north west. The only region to see a decrease was Yorkshire and the Humber, and prevalence remained stable in the East Midlands and north east, but the researchers warned infection numbers are still high even in these areas. Additionally, they found large household sizes, living in a deprived neighbourhood, and areas with higher numbers of black and Asian individuals were associated with increased prevalence.

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Better masks only make sense when a virus is more easily transmitted? None of the below makes sense.

France Issues Warning Over Use Of Homemade Masks Against New Variants (G.)

French health officials have advised people against wearing home-made fabric masks as they offer less protection against highly contagious new Covid-19 variants. The scientific committee, which reports back to the French government, says category 2 masks are unlikely to halt the spread of the “English variant” or new coronavirus strains from Brazil and South Africa. The experts’ advice, presented to ministers on Monday but not published, also suggested France double its social distancing rule from 1m to 2m. France’s Haut Conseil de Santé Publique (high council for public health – HCSP) decided over the weekend that many cloth masks, often preferred because they can be washed and reused, did not guarantee protection against the new variants. “Category 2 or material masks only filter 70%, while category 1 masks, like surgical masks, can go as high as 95% if worn properly.


As the variant is more easily transmitted, it is logical to use masks with the highest filtering power,” Daniel Camus, of the Pasteur Institute in Lille and a HCSP member told France Info. “We are not questioning the masks used up to now … but as we have no new weapons against them (new strains) the only thing we can do is to improve the weapons we already have,” Camus added. Home-made barrier masks made under Europe-wide established specifications are consider category 1. However, even though they are subject to making them more efficient filters, the HSPC said they may not guarantee the correct level of protection. Didier Lepelletier, the co-president of the committee’s Covid-19 working group, said everyone should now choose category 1 masks adding that home-made masks “have not been tested in terms of their performance”.

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“Restoring America’s Place in the World”

-Rejoin Paris accord
-Fortify DACA
-Undo Muslim ban
-Stop border wall
-Order unified Covid response
-Eviction/foreclosure freeze —> 3/31
-Extend student loan pause —> 9/30
-Rescind Trump’s 1776 commish
-Undo Trump EO on Census

Biden To Sign 53 Executive Orders In First 10 Days (Hill)

President Biden is poised to take action on 53 executive items over the next 10 days as he seeks to rapidly reverse some Trump administration policies and implement his own, according to a document outlining the schedule for Biden’s first two weeks in office. The document, which was circulated to individuals close to the administration and obtained by The Hill, shows that Biden will take executive action each weekday through the end of January, with each day centered around specific themes such as climate, economic relief, health care and immigration. The timetable lays out which days Biden is expected to act on anticipated items such as reversing the Mexico City policy, creating a task force to reunite separated migrant families and establishing a policing commission.

The schedule notes that the specifics of certain executive actions are to be determined, reflecting how the Biden team is still hashing out details as it takes office following delays in the transition after the November election. The themes are expected to extend into February, which has been designated around the idea of “Restoring America’s Place in the World,” according to the document. This week, Wednesday’s theme is focused on the inauguration and addressing “four crises” — the coronavirus pandemic, climate, the economy and equity. Among the items Biden will sign are an order mandating masks be worn on federal lands, an extension of eviction moratoriums, a repeal of Trump’s travel ban and a proclamation halting border wall construction.

Thursday’s theme will focus on the pandemic, according to the document. Biden is expected to sign off on executive orders to review the supply chain ahead of any use of the Defense Production Act and to implement public health measures on public transportation, airplanes and trains. Friday’s theme is economic relief, with two executive orders expected to be signed, according to the document. One will direct agencies to take action on Medicaid, Pell grants and unemployment insurance, while the other will restore collective bargaining rights to federal employees and initiate a rollback of a Trump administration rule on Schedule F. The theme for Monday is “Buy American,” and Biden will sign one executive order seeking to ensure agencies use U.S. suppliers.

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Or it may be nothing.

Inaugural Display Symbolizing 56 US States, Territories (JTN)

President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration decor touting 56 U.S. states and territories provokes new questions about whether Biden will push for new statehood for six U.S. territories, which could aid the Democratic Party in the Electoral College. Under the U.S. Constitution, statehood requires only a simple majority in Congress, which could be achieved if Democrats decide to remove the 60-vote filibuster threshold currently in place in the Senate. As part of the “Field of Flags” display at the National Mall ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee planted nearly 200,000 state and territory flags on Monday night, meant to represent the American people unable to travel to Washington, D.C., for Inauguration Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic and security threats.

Fifty-six pillars of neon blue light, representing the U.S. states and territories, were also lit up for 46 seconds to mark the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden. The prominent light beams were reminiscent of the grounds of the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. Biden has said he supports statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Other U.S. territories with permanent civilian populations include Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

[..] Historian Jason Steinhauer told Just the News on Tuesday that the National World War II Memorial “serves as a useful reference point for the Field of Flags display” because it contains 56 pillars representing each state and territory from its period, including the District of Columbia. Those 56 pillars represented a different assortment of states and territories from that time period: 48 states, plus the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Steinhauer noted that memorial opened in 2004, during the George W. Bush administration.

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In case you wondered who won.

Globalist “Manifesto” For Post-Trump Economic “Reset” (ZH)

Proponents of the QAnon “conspiracy theory,” which the NYT can’t seem to stop writing about, are going to love seeing this. A memo that has reportedly been circulating among policymakers on both sides of the aisle for weeks was finally released to the press on Tuesday when Dealbook editor and CNBC “Squawk Box” host Andrew Ross Sorkin got the scoop: a memo penned by a group of senior-level bureaucrats, including – who else? – Henry Kissinger and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has provided a kind of “blueprint” for the Biden Administration to undo all of President Trump’s trade-war tactics and other policies that didn’t exactly help promote free trade.

As Trump recounted in his farewell video published earlier Tuesday afternoon, his administration dramatically altered the American trade landscape, pulling the US out of the TPP, renegotiating Nafta into the USMCA, and – most consequentially, at things would turn out – the trade war with China, which inspired waves of hysterical lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce and special-interest groups from Big Tech to Wal-Mart and other major retailers, and others. So, as Biden prepares his first 100-day blitz of policy directives, many of the architects of the globalist system created by groups like the Trilateral Commission are joining with a gaggle of former cabinet-level officials (both Dems and GOP) along with the CEO of one of America’s largest banks, former British Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair and – who else? – Henry Kissinger, have essentially penned a manifesto that is being circulated among lawmakers, along with top-level officials in the cabinet and the West Wing, to help restore the globalist system that Trump helped to disrupt.

Who better to leak the story to than Andrew Sorkin, who first brought up the existence of the memo during an interview during Tuesday morning’s episode of “Squawk Box” on CNBC during a conversation with Harvard economist Austan Goolsbee. According to Sorkin’s column, “the memo comes from an under-the-radar group of global boldfaced names that act as a private advisory committee to JPMorgan Chase. They include Tony Blair, the former British prime minister; Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger, two former secretaries of state; Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense; Alex Gorsky, chief executive of Johnson & Johnson; Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH; and Joseph C. Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba, among others.” The group, which even Sorkin concedes is exclusively staffed with members of the “globalist part of the globalist establishment that fell out of favor during the Trump years, typically meets once a year in a far-flung location with JPMorgan’s chief, Jamie Dimon.”

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But we’ll keep the craziest stuff.

Biden Will Recognize Guaido As Venezuela’s Leader – Blinken (R.)

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will continue to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the South American country’s president, Anthony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, said on Tuesday. Blinken told members of the U.S. Senate that Biden would seek to “more effectively target” sanctions on the country, which aim to oust President Nicolas Maduro – who retains control of the country. Blinken said the new administration would look at more humanitarian assistance to the country. The United States, along with dozens of other countries, recognized Guaido – the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-held National Assembly – as the country’s president in January 2019, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was rigged.


“We need an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy, starting with free and fair elections,” Blinken said. Guaido’s push to oust Maduro – who has overseen a collapse in the once-prosperous OPEC nation’s economy and stands accused of corruption and human rights violations – has stalled. Maduro calls Guaido a U.S.-puppet seeking to oust him in a coup. His allies have expressed a desire to engage in negotiations with the Biden administration after years of tensions and escalating U.S. sanctions.

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Remember the loud protests?

US To Keep Embassy In Jerusalem – Blinken (AlJ)

The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will keep the US embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, his nominee for secretary of state affirmed at his Senate confirmation hearing. “Do you agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and do you commit that the United States will keep our embassy in Jerusalem?” asked Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. “Yes and Yes,” said Antony Blinken in testimony on Tuesday. Outgoing President Donald Trump announced the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017. The US moved its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May of the following year.


Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) insisting that East Jerusalem – illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 – should serve as the capital of a Palestinian state. “The only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state and to give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled is through the so-called two-state solution,” Blinken said. “I think realistically, it’s hard to see near-term prospects for moving forward on that. What would be important is to make sure that neither party takes steps that make the already difficult process even more challenging,” he added.

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The scariest face of them all. And that’s saying something.

John Brennan’s ‘List’ Of Ideologies Biden Intel Community Should Go After (ZH)

Well this is alarming and ominous to say the least… Former CIA Director John Brennan told MSNBC in an interview on inauguration day that the intelligence community under newly sworn in President Biden is “moving in laser-like fashion” to try and uncover dangerous plots against the country. Naturally, there’s been much of this worrisome commentary about what political ideologies should be targeted and monitored coming out of NatSec hawks in the wake of the Capitol Hill mayhem of January 6. But this is the first time such a broad array of groups have been so bluntly lumped into a Pro-Trump “insurgency” by an influential media pundit and former spook. Brennan expressly said they are “violent” and remain a domestic threat.


He said in the MSNBC interview without the least concern for violation of Americans’ rights that intelligence agencies should look into “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians…”. He said these belief systems have come together under the umbrella of a supposed pro-Trump movement capable of committing violence. Ah yes, “even libertarians”… “I had white knuckles because of the nature of the threats,” he began by recalling his days as CIA Director. We’ve seen “the growth of this polarization in the United States and domestic violence and White supremacist groups,” he continued. Comparing this “threat” to a foreign insurgency which the US has lately battled overseas, he said it— “brings together an unholy alliance of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians.”

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“Neither the FBI nor the NSA has the culture of brutal hostility toward their own country’s population needed to efficiently repress dissidents in the unfolding police state.”

Call For New “Secret Police” Force to Spy on Trump Supporters (SN)

Perhaps channeling the spirit of the Soviet NKVD, leftists are now literally calling for a new “secret police” unit to be created at the federal level to spy on Trump supporters. In an article published by the Daily Beast, Jeff Stein argues that existing federal agencies like the FBI are ill-equipped to stop “white terror” because they missed signs of the the pre-planning of the Capitol building siege. The solution is to create a new “secret police” (yes, he literally uses those words) in order to “infiltrate and neutralize armed domestic extremists,” which according to the media’s latest narrative potentially includes 70 million Trump voters.

Stein even compares the Capitol breach to 9/11, an attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, and argues that a similar response to that should be directly inwardly against American citizens directed by a new “domestic spy agency.” “One response to the 9/11 tragedy may well get renewed attention after the Capitol assault—especially if armed white nationalists are successful in carrying out more attacks in the coming days and weeks: The call for a secret police,” he writes. The existence of a “secret police” force that subverts constitutional norms to repress the population is of course a hallmark of all dictatorial regimes, but that doesn’t appear to bother self-proclaimed “progressives.”

“Hundreds of Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots, some of which entailed firing mortars at, firebombing, or burning down police stations, did not qualify as domestic terrorism. But the Capitol Riot was terrorism, due to the usual double standard,” points out Dave Blount. He also hits the nail on the head about the real reason why the creation of a new secret police unit would be necessary. “Neither the FBI nor the NSA has the culture of brutal hostility toward their own country’s population needed to efficiently repress dissidents in the unfolding police state.”

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Told, you, they will regret the Trump ban. Genie’s out of the bottle.

Mind you, she also said: “After four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House.”

Silicon Valley CEOs Can’t Decide Laws And Rules – EU Commission President (RT)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has sent a message to US tech companies ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, warning that Silicon Valley CEOs can’t decide their own laws and rules.
During a speech delivered in the European Parliament, von der Leyen laid out a series of areas in which the European Union (EU) is hoping to work with the incoming Biden administration, including climate change and the regulation of American-based tech companies that have an international reach. The EU has been working to introduce global standards for digital companies that provide a clear set of rules and responsibilities for the way they operate and the content that is distributed via their sites. However, rebuffing suggestions from tech giants to allow them to moderate themselves, von der Leyen was clear that governments must now intervene.


“This kind of decision must be taken in accordance with laws and rules…not by an arbitrary decision in the power of Silicon Valley CEOs.” Citing the recent attack on the US Capitol and linking the behavior of those President Donald Trump supporters to division and disinformation that appeared online, von der Leyen said in a tweet that regulation must be imposed on social media sites to “ensure that hate & fake news can no longer spread unchecked.” This is not the first time that the EU has sought to control the power of social media companies and tech giants. Google has been a target of the EU’s antitrust body in recent years, with the search engine having been hit with over $9 billion of fines, and further investigations are underway.

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Germany does it “gründlich”.

Germany Enacts Major Overhaul of Its Competition Regime for the Digital Era (WSGR)

On January 18, 2021, the 10th amendment of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC) entered into force. The so-called “ARC Digitization Act,” designed to modernize German competition law enforcement for the era of big-data, i) creates sweeping new powers for the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) to regulate digital platform companies; ii) expands prohibitions on abuses of market power by firms with “relative market power” and firms that refuse access to data, networks, or infrastructure; and iii) raises the thresholds for German merger control. Because of the potential that large technology companies could be required to make dramatic changes to their current business practices, the FCO is poised to become one of the most consequential competition agencies for large technology companies.

Indeed, FCO President Mundt has repeatedly emphasized the willingness and readiness of his authority “not to squander the head start” and to apply the new rules soon after their entry into force. Under the new Section 19a of the ARC, the FCO gains novel powers to designate certain companies as having “paramount significance for competition across markets.” Upon making such a designation, the FCO can then order such companies to cease engaging in prohibited types of conduct, such as self-preferencing. The ARC Digitization Act also introduces changes to the burden of proof and the appeals process, designed to enhance the FCO’s ability to take swift action. The FCO may issue a decision declaring an undertaking to be of paramount significance for competition across markets.

The factors the FCO may consider in making this determination include:
• its dominant position in one or more markets;
• its financial strength or its access to other resources;
• its vertical integration and its activities on otherwise related markets;
• its access to data relevant for competition; and
• the importance of its activities for third parties’ access to supply and sales markets and its related influence on third parties’ business activities.

The qualitative nature of these factors provides the FCO with considerable discretion in making Section 19a declarations. As clarified by the German legislators’ explanatory memo, only a small number of (digital) “ecosystems” is likely to fulfill the threshold of having such “paramount significance.”2 The intended targets of the new rules are large and “often dominant” digital platform companies “with the resources and strategic position to significantly influence the commercial activities of third parties or expand their own activities to new markets and sectors.”3 We expect that the FCO will initially target “GAFA” and a few other (mostly U.S.-based) digital platforms.

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An old favorite theme of mine: What if money doesn’t move?

The Fed’s Inconvenient Truth: Inflation Is “M.I.A.” (RIA)

“The amount of money in the US economy is 25% higher than it was at the start of 2020, eclipsing any pace of money growth seen since the Federal Reserve was established (1913)” RB Advisors Deputy CIO Dan Suzuki. In recent weeks we have seen a non-stop flow of ominous statements like the one above. The author is 100% factual and it should be a cause for deep concern. Historically, such surges in the money supply were often met with significant inflation. While the sharp increase in the money supply provides context to the depth of our economic problems, our inflation warning bells are not ringing, at least not yet. Here is why.


Inflation, or aggregate price increases, results from economic activity, along with the amount of money and its velocity. A famous economic formula called the Monetary Exchange Equation uses those factors to create a mathematical identity that precisely determines the inflation rate. We co-authored an article with Brett Freeze entitled Stoking The Embers of Inflation. The article went into great detail about the monetary exchange equation. We summarize a few key points here: Per the inflation identity, the rate of inflation or deflation (%P) is equal to the rate of money growth (%M), plus the change in velocity (%V), less the rate of output growth (%Q).

• %M – As noted earlier, the change in the monetary base is a direct function of the Fed’s monetary policy actions. To increase or decrease the monetary base, the Fed buys and sells securities, typically U.S. Treasuries and more recently Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS). • %V – Velocity is nominal GDP divided by the monetary base (Q/M). Velocity measures people’s willingness to hold cash or how often cash turns over. Lower velocity means that people are hoarding cash, which usually happens during periods of economic weakness, credit stress, and fear for banking institutions’ going-concern.

So if we exclude GDP, inflation is dependent on money supply and velocity changes. Money supply data is published weekly and easily forecastable with the Fed’s QE schedule. Velocity, on the other hand, is posted once a quarter and much more challenging to forecast. As such, let’s dive into velocity. Velocity is a measure of how fast cash circulates in an economy. We consider two extreme examples of money printing and monetary velocity to appreciate the interaction of money supply and velocity. • The Fed prints $10 trillion and buries it in a hole. • The Fed prints $10 trillion, sends each American a $30,000 check, and tells them they have five days to spend it or lose it The two examples have polar opposite effects on prices, despite the same massive increase in the money supply.

In example 1, the Fed does not affect inflation. The $10 trillion is not fungible as long as it stays buried. In example 2, hyperinflation would result as the new money rapidly circulates through the economy and dwarfs the economic system’s production capacity. Essentially, the demand for goods and services outstrips the supply. The amount of money greatly matters, but equally important is how it moves through the economy. The graph below compares the money supply chart above with the velocity of money and inflation.

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Medhurst – America Just Replaced One Monster With Another
https://twitter.com/i/status/1325622342370922496

 

 

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