Jul 222020
 


Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration Daughter of Virgil Thaxton, farmer, near Mechanicsburg, Ohio 1938

 

It Has Become Clear Elimination Of The Virus Is The Best Option (Age)
Antibodies From Mild COVID-19 Infections Could Disappear Within A Year (CBS)
Yale Epidemiologist: Hydroxychloroquine Could Save 100,000 Lives (ZH)
Moderna, Merck Won’t Limit Price Of Coronavirus Vaccines To Company Cost (R.)
Our History Is A Battle Against The Microbes (Roser)
N.Y, N.J, Conn. Expand Travel Quarantine To Over Half Of U.S. States
Democrats Cry ‘Foreign Meddling’ In 2020 Election In Letter To FBI (RT)
House Bill Would Require Feds to Identify Themselves (.)
China’s Shipbuilding Industry Continues Leading Position Globally (Xinhua)
Britain Nears Abandoning Brexit Trade Deal Hope (R.)
Passengers Scramble For Limited Seats On Flights To Australia (G.)
Book Sales Hit Record Highs In 2019, But Publishers ‘Now Need Help’ (G.)
Smithsonian: ‘Rationality’ & ‘Hard Work’ Are Racist (RC)
Judicial Watch Sues DOJ/FBI/ODNI for Records of Obama Oval Office Meeting (JW)
Greta Thunberg Gets €1 Million ‘Humanity Prize’ From Oil Tycoon Foundation (RT)

 

 

An Australian hospital doctor writes that the best solution if for the virus to be eliminated from his country. But can that still be done? Is it realistic? Do you really want to isolate yourself from most of the world?

 

 

U.S. records over 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for first time since early June.

And the world passed 15 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidney Powell Hillary should be subpoenaed

 

 

A doctor in Victoria, Australia. The worries are very understandable, and the problem is clear, but as for the solution, is it possible? Realistic? Or just too late?

It Has Become Clear Elimination Of The Virus Is The Best Option (Age)

The hospital where I work has finally had to use its surge plan for COVID-19 patients, devised months ago but which has until now laid dormant. There is still capacity for more patients, but it is not infinite. People are starting to worry. Concerningly, while patient numbers around the state have climbed, staff numbers have fallen. Many front-line healthcare workers have become infected with the virus, forcing them to take time off work. Many more have been forced into mandatory quarantine following close contact with a known case. This is entirely necessary to stop the spread of the virus, but it is a cost we simply cannot afford. Our already-stretched health system is at risk of being stretched beyond its limit.

We have tried to suppress this virus; to keep infection numbers low enough to allow our hospitals to cope, while not actively trying to stamp it out. In Melbourne, it has failed. We may be seeing the beginnings of a similar story in Sydney, with cases slowly climbing. We may yet see it elsewhere. Many have argued for an explicit elimination strategy, acknowledging that while not without its costs, ultimately it is the best choice for our society and economy. As John Daley from the Grattan Institute wrote in March, this would be the “least-bad” option. We know elimination is possible. New Zealand implemented a harsh lockdown early in the pandemic, prompting some to criticise Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for overreacting. Yet they have not seen a single case of community transmission in months.

Life across the ditch is returning to a “new normal”, and people and businesses are starting to plan for the future with a bit more certainty. There is no reason why Australia – and in particular Victoria – couldn’t follow suit. Yet the current six-week lockdown is unlikely to eliminate the virus, according to new analysis in the Medical Journal of Australia. We must either go harder, or go longer. While it is the best option for Australia, elimination has three important drawbacks: its impacts would be disproportionately felt by disadvantaged and marginalised people; it would require a longer, more intense period of initial lockdown; and it would make us dependent on a vaccine. A longer, harsher lockdown in Melbourne – and anywhere the virus begins to take hold again – would be enormously challenging for many, especially those who are disadvantaged, marginalised, or poor.

But so would repeated lockdowns, which are all-but inevitable under a suppression strategy. Better to do it once (or twice, as in Melbourne) and do it properly, rather than wait for infections to rise again in a few months and have to do it all again. If we succeed in ridding ourselves of SARS-CoV-2, we will make ourselves reliant on a vaccine. Until one is found, our borders will have to remain closed. The virus will become endemic in many other countries – countries who, unlike us, no longer have the option of eliminating it. Opening our borders too early would simply be kicking the can down the road. Things are moving faster than we have ever seen in vaccine development, but there is no guarantee we will have a safe and effective product soon – if at all. Until we do, we will be forced to seal ourselves off from countries where the virus remains.

Read more …

And the antibodies that you do have may attack you. Good luck with that vaccine.

Antibodies From Mild COVID-19 Infections Could Disappear Within A Year (CBS)

Antibodies from a mild case of COVID-19 appear to fall dramatically in the first three months after infection, and could disappear within about a year, according to a small study by UCLA researchers. The study, published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested 20 women and 14 men between 21 and 68 years old who recovered from mild cases of COVID-19. Each participant was tested at an average of 36 and 82 days after they initially showed symptoms. The study found that antibodies in these study participants dropped sharply after the first three months, and decreased by roughly half every 73 days.


At that rate, antibodies would disappear within about a year. The UCLA study was a more detailed look into previous reports that suggested antibodies against the novel coronavirus were short-lived, and the first to estimate the rate at which antibodies disappear. The study’s authors said the role of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 is not known, but the findings should prompt caution regarding antibody-based “immunity passports,” the goal of herd immunity, and vaccine durability.

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One positive report about HCQ after the other.

Yale Epidemiologist: Hydroxychloroquine Could Save 100,000 Lives (ZH)

Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch told Fox News’s “Ingraham Angle” that he thinks hydroxychloroquine could save 75,000 to 100,000 lives if widely used to treat COVID-19, and that it’s unfortunate that a “propaganda war” has been waged on the commonly prescribed drug which is not based on “medical facts.” “There are many doctors that I’ve gotten hostile remarks about saying that all the evidence is bad for it and, in fact, that is not true at all,” Risch said on Monday, adding that he believes the drug should be used as a prophylactic for front-line healthcare workers, as has been done in India. Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan have found that early administration of hydroxychloroquine makes hospitalized patients substantially less likely to die.

“The study, published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, determined that hydroxychloroquine provided a “66 percent hazard ratio reduction,” and hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin a 71 percent reduction, compared with neither treatment. In-hospital mortality was 18.1 percent overall; 13.5 percent with just hydroxychloroquine, 22.4 percent with azithromycin alone, and 26.4 percent with neither drug. “Prospective trials are needed” for further review, the researchers note, even as they concluded: “In this multi-hospital assessment, when controlling for COVID-19 risk factors, treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with azithromycin was associated with reduction in COVID-19 associated mortality.” -Fox News

“All the evidence is actually good for it when it is used in outpatient uses. Nevertheless, the only people who actually say that are a whole pile of doctors who are on the front lines treating those patients across the country and they are the ones who are at risk being forced not to do it,” Risch added, arguing that the MSM refuses to cover the benefits of the drug, and is actively silencing those trying to address the efficacy of HCQ.

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Not only do they seek to profit from the pandemic, their research was funded by … you.

Moderna, Merck Won’t Limit Price Of Coronavirus Vaccines To Company Cost (R.)

Moderna Inc and Merck & Co on Tuesday told a U.S. Congressional panel that they expect to profit from their coronavirus vaccines once approved, amid concerns the vaccines may not be accessible to all. “We will not be selling our vaccine at cost, although it is premature for us as we’re a long way from understanding the cost-basis,” Julie Gerberding, chief patient officer for Merck, told the House of Representatives subcommittee on oversight and investigations in a virtual, off-site hearing. Merck’s has yet to begin human studies of its experimental vaccine, lagging the leading candidates. Executives from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc testified that they will price their respective potential vaccines at no profit while the pandemic rages on.

Gerberding and a representative from Moderna did not comment on the price they have in mind for their vaccines at the hearing, which focused on efforts to develop a safe, effective and widely accessible vaccine against COVID-19, which has claimed 600,000 lives globally. Pfizer Inc has said the company intends to make a profit from its potential coronavirus vaccine if approved. However, Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young, testified: “We recognize that these are extraordinary times and our price will reflect that.” Unlike rivals Moderna and AstraZeneca, Pfizer has not received funding from the United States for its vaccine development.

Lawmakers questioned whether Pfizer had declined government funding so it could price the vaccine at a profit. “We didn’t access federal funding solely for the reason that we wanted to move the vaccine faster to the clinic,” Young said. AstraZeneca said its vaccine would be provided at no profit under its agreement with the United States for allocation of some 300 million doses.

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Long history thread at the Twitter link.

Our History Is A Battle Against The Microbes (Roser)

Humanity’s history is a continuous battle between us and the microbes. For most of our history we were on the losing side. It wasn’t even close. We were losing very decisively. Billions of children died from infectious diseases. They were the main reason why child mortality was so high: No matter where or when they were born, around half died as children. We looked at the evidence of child mortality in pre-modern times here. The recurring epidemics of influenza, measles, cholera, diphtheria, the bubonic plague, and smallpox also killed large parts of the adult population. Within just a few years the Black Death killed half of Europe’s population. The epidemics – especially of smallpox, but also measles, typhus and other diseases – that the colonialists brought from Europe with them to the Americas killed often an even larger share of the population in many places.

The world today is obviously very different. Infectious diseases are the cause of fewer than 1-in-6 deaths, and as the world made progress against the microbes our lives became much longer. Life expectancy doubled in every world region and the global average is now 73 years. How is it possible that for millennia we were losing the battle against the microbes so awfully and then turned things around in the span of just a few generations? It was science that laid the foundation for our success. 150 years ago nobody knew where diseases came from. Or more precisely, people thought they knew, but they were wrong. The widely accepted idea at the time was the ‘Miasma’ theory of disease. Miasma, the theory held, was a form of “bad air” that causes disease. The word malaria is testament to the idea that ‘mal aria’ – ‘bad air’ in medieval Italian – is the cause of the disease.

Thanks to the work of a number of doctors and chemists in the second half of the 19th century humanity learned that not noxious air, but specific germs cause infectious diseases. The germ theory of disease was the breakthrough in the fight against the microbe. Scientists identified the pathogens that cause the different diseases and thereby laid the foundation for perhaps the most important technical innovation in our fight against them: vaccines. Vaccines protect us from infectious diseases by offering our body a training session for how to fight the germs that cause the disease. “The fundamental idea of a vaccine is deliberate exposure to a relatively harmless or dead version of a germ. The immune system will then recognise and eliminate that germ rapidly if it is encountered again,” as vaccine developer Richard Moxon puts it.

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Two countries?!

N.Y, N.J, Conn. Expand Travel Quarantine To Over Half Of U.S. States

As the pandemic continues to surge across America, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut expanded their travel quarantine lists for the fourth consecutive week on Tuesday, adding 10 more states for a total of 31. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut require incoming travelers from the 31 states to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival. New states added to the tri-state list on Tuesday are Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington. Minnesota was taken off the list this week, while Delaware returned after being removed last week. The list also includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also issued a rule that out-of-state travelers must fill in a form for state officials to verify they are complying with the rules; failure to submit can result in a $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine. Gov. Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont launched the travel list last month as parts of the country began to see rising case numbers. New York and New Jersey, in particular, were hit hard early on in the pandemic (New York still has the country’s highest number of deaths) and hope the travel limitations will prevent a resurgence from out-of-state travelers. The quarantine applies to states that report 10 or more new cases per 100,000 residents per day or a 10% rise in daily test positivity over a seven-day rolling period.

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It’s probably the Russians.

Whatever comes out of any investigation between now and November 3, will be blasted as being political. But Trump has been under investigation his entire first term, and that, too, was political, though it will be vehemently denied. Guess we’ll have to say along with the Dems that nobody is above the law, and that goes for them as well.

Democrats Cry ‘Foreign Meddling’ In 2020 Election In Letter To FBI (RT)

A probe into former VP Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine is reportedly the ‘foreign interference’ in US elections that prompted Democrats to demand an urgent defensive briefing from the FBI for all members of Congress. “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” says a letter by four Democrats on the congressional ‘Gang of Eight’ that deals with intelligence matters. The letter was dated July 13, but was made public on Monday – the deadline the Democrats set for the FBI to schedule the defensive briefings with all members of Congress.

It was signed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-California), and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-Virginia). The fact that it lacked specifics, and was released a week after it was sent to the FBI, raised some eyebrows in Washington. Former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell tweeted that the ‘Gang of Eight’ and others were briefed “weeks ago” and that the letter amounted to a CYA – short for “cover your a**” – adding, “why the panic now?” One possibility is that it provided a pretext for the Democrats’ presidential nominee Joe Biden to announce on Monday evening that he was putting “the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice” that he would impose “substantial and lasting costs on those who interfere with American elections” if elected.

According to Politico, who cited “two people familiar with the demand,” the letter is about an investigation led by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) into Biden’s dealings with the former government of Ukraine. The most recent FBI briefing on “foreign influence operations” – back in early April – was also prompted by Johnson’s investigation, as Democrats objected to his efforts to subpoena former Ukrainian official Andrii Telizhenko. Ukrainians themselves have been investigating the role of former president Petro Poroshenko in getting corruption charges dropped against Burisma, a gas company that hired Biden’s son Hunter to nominally sit on its board of directors. Members of parliament and former prosecutors have made a case that Burisma paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars for acting as a de facto shield against prosecution, offering as evidence recordings of what they said were Biden and Poroshenko.

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Interesting. All of them? And the rioters too?

House Bill Would Require Feds to Identify Themselves (.)

Following a storm of controversy over arrests by federal agents in Portland, Ore., New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Washington, D.C., Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton will be introducing legislation this week that would require federal law enforcement officials to clearly identify themselves, according to a draft bill provided exclusively to The Nation. The bill would require on-duty federal agents to display not just the name of their agency but also the individual agent’s last name and identification number. It would also mandate a new form of oversight for the Justice Department, requiring its inspector general to conduct routine audits to ensure compliance with the legislation. The results of these audits would then be reported to Congress.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) drew scrutiny after federal agents in military fatigues used unmarked vehicles to arrest protesters in Portland. Among these federal agents were members of elite Border Patrol Tactical Units (BORTAC), Custom and Border Protection’s SWAT team equivalent. Despite the mayor of Portland’s demand that federal agents leave the city, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf refused. “I offered DHS support to help them locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland, and their only response was: please pack up and go home,” he said to Fox News. “That’s just not going to happen on my watch.”

Internal CBP documents obtained by The Nation revealed that these federal agents would be operating indefinitely and in undisclosed locations, with drones “on standby to assist as needed.” The documents describe the DHS’s creation of the Protecting American Communities Task Force in response to President Trump’s executive order “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Activity.” While this incident was clearly a catalyst for public concern, a spokesperson for Representative Ocasio-Cortez said that her office had been working on this legislation for months.

Provided a copy of the draft legislation, Irvin McCullough, deputy director of legislation at the Government Accountability Project, said, “Lots of lawyers are asking the same thing: Where’s the transparency? Unidentified internal security forces are apprehending American citizens, and accounts allege these apprehension processes are more similar to overseas renditions than traditional arrests. Citizens deserve to know who’s arresting them—or at least what entity—to report any abuses they suffer or witness.”

Read more …

China’s Shipbuilding Industry Continues Leading Position Globally (Xinhua)

China’s shipbuilding industry maintained its leading position globally in the first half of the year (H1) as it held sway in three key aspects, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has said. The completion volume of shipbuilding in China, dropping by 10.6 percent year on year to 17.58 million deadweight tonnes (dwt) in H1, accounted for 37.2 percent of the global market share. New shipbuilding orders, up by 3.4 percent from last year to reach 12.47 million dwt in H1, took up 67.5 percent of the market share worldwide. The volume of holding orders, down by 6.3 percent year on year to 76.54 million dwt in H1, accounted for 48.2 percent of the global market share.

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Blame COVID.

Britain Nears Abandoning Brexit Trade Deal Hope (R.)

Britain and the European Union will fail to sign a post-Brexit trade deal, with only a few days left before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s July deadline, The Telegraph reported. The UK government’s assumption is that there will not be a deal, though it remains possible that a “basic” agreement could be reached if the EU gives ground in the autumn, the newspaper said, citing government sources. The government expects it will trade with Europe on World Trade Organisation terms when the transition period ends, the report added.


Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 and its relationship with the bloc is now governed by a transition arrangement that keeps previous rules in place while the two sides negotiate new terms. Negotiators remain deadlocked on fishing rights, the deal’s governance, the European Court of Justice’s role and so-called level playing field guarantees, the newspaper reported. Britain is pursuing trade deals with other countries and setting up its own sanctions regime, and has previously insisted it should not have to sign up to the bloc’s standards.

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Double the price? Triple?

Passengers Scramble For Limited Seats On Flights To Australia (G.)

International airlines flying into Australia are having to bump passengers, often with little notice, in order to meet strict daily passenger caps set for airports still accepting flights from overseas. The passenger limits introduced to alleviate pressure on quarantine facilities in Australia have meant airports like Brisbane can only accept 70 passengers per day, while services bringing Australians back to Sydney are limited to as few as 30 travellers per flight. While the passenger caps have seen a surge in the cost of airfares into Australia – the cost of a one-way flight from Doha to Sydney on Qatar Airways is $3,729 in economy, a class of seat booked out until 9 August – some economy travellers who are concerned they will be bumped due to their cheaper seats are upgrading to business class tickets.

However airlines including Qatar Airways denied passengers with cheaper tickets would be more likely to be rescheduled, telling the Guardian that passenger lists were based on a range of criteria, including compassionate and medical requests. Originally introduced earlier this month “in order to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements” at hotels, the caps have shrunk from their original limits, now allowing 350 arrivals per day at Sydney, 75 per day at Perth and 70 per day at Brisbane. Melbourne airport remains closed to international visitors, with incoming capacity for Adelaide and Canberra assessed on a case-by-case basis. Between seven to eight international flights are scheduled to land each day at Sydney Airport. However, the cap per flight could increase if some scheduled services do not go ahead.

“The amount allocated to each airline for each flight varies depending on how many flights are operating on each day but within a total daily cap,” a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development said. “Airlines have the ability to request more than their per-flight passenger allocation on a particular day if there is any spare capacity available on that particular day.”

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You have to love a publication like the Guardian printing a sentence like this, straight-faced:

“In an age of often unreliable sources..”

Book Sales Hit Record Highs In 2019, But Publishers ‘Now Need Help’ (G.)

Book sales in the UK hit record levels in 2019, driven by a surge in audiobook and nonfiction titles, according to new figures released as publishers warn of the huge impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the industry. Book sales rose to £6.3bn in 2019, up 4% on 2018, when sales fell for the first time in five years, and 20% on 2015. According to the latest figures from the Publishers Association (PA), overall print sales were up 3% to £3.5bn in 2019 and digital sales were up 4% to £2.8bn, driven by a 39% increase in audiobook downloads. Digital formats accounted for 44% of the market in 2019, up from 40% in 2015. Strong nonfiction and reference sales, seen in bestsellers such as cookbook Pinch of Nom, Caroline Criado-Perez’s Invisible Women, and Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, saw the sector grow 23.1% to £1bn in 2019, when compared with 2015.

“In an age of often unreliable sources, people are increasingly looking to books for trusted information and are reading nonfiction voraciously across formats,” Hachette chief executive David Shelley told the association. The growth in nonfiction stands in contrast to fiction. Despite the publication of highly anticipated novels such as Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, sales fell to £582m in 2019, down 5.6% when compared with 2015. “Before the coronavirus pandemic, the industry was flourishing, with 2019 being the strongest year in the history of publishing. These robust figures reflect people’s ongoing need and desire for books,” said PA chief executive Stephen Lotinga.

“[The figures] tell a story of pre-Covid success, but they do not reflect the significant challenges that publishers have faced during this pandemic. Despite those difficulties, we know that many people have continued to look to books for solace, enlightenment and entertainment.” Publishers have anticipated declines in revenue of up to 75% as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with bookshops closed for more than two months, publication dates postponed, orders for books cancelled and author tours called off. One success story was revealed on Tuesday, however, when Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury reported a 28% growth in consumer sales in the four months ending in June 2020. Previously, Bloomsbury had predicted that its print revenues could fall up to 75% due to coronavirus, but print sales actually rose by 9%.

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Yeah, the Smithsonian appears to be woker than the woke.

Smithsonian: ‘Rationality’ & ‘Hard Work’ Are Racist (RC)

In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests over police brutality, interest in “anti-racist” education has exploded among educators and advocates. The case that educators should seek to combat racism seems self-evident. What’s less clear is how the admirable cause of “anti-racism” is fueling, in some corners, the inclination to denounce universal virtues and useful skills as the product of “white culture.” Witness last week’s contretemps at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum, which bills itself as “the only national museum devoted exclusively” to educating the public on these topics, recently debuted the online guide “Talking about Race.”

The guide included a chart cataloguing the “aspects and assumptions” of “white culture” that “have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States.” What are these sinister aspects of “white culture,” you ask? Well, according to the Smithsonian, values like “hard work,” “self-reliance,” “be[ing] polite,” and timeliness are all a product of the “white dominant culture.” Indeed, it turns out that conventional grammar, Christianity, the notion that “intent counts” in courts of law, and the scientific method and its emphasis on “objective, rational linear thinking” are all proprietary to “white culture.”

There are several things that might be said about all this. But the place to start may be by observing just how insidious it is to teach black children to reject intellectual and personal traits that promote personal and civic success — in the U.S. or anywhere else. After all, in what land are students well-served when they’re encouraged not to work hard, make decisions, think rationally, or be polite and on time? Among the extraordinarily accomplished people honored by the museum, those such as Frederick Douglass; Harriet Tubman; Jackie Robinson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Toni Morrison; John Lewis; Oprah Winfrey; Michael Jordan; Condoleezza Rice; and Barack Obama might be surprised to learn that hard work and rational thinking are somehow alien to black culture.

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104 days till the election?!

Judicial Watch Sues DOJ/FBI/ODNI for Records of Obama Oval Office Meeting (JW)

Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for all records related to the January 5, 2017, meeting at the Obama Oval Office during which the Steele Dossier and the investigation of General Flynn were discussed (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice and ODNI (No. 1:20-cv-01947)). The Oval Office meeting reportedly included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Susan Rice, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other Obama administration political and law enforcement officials.

At least two records describing the meeting – a January 20, 2017, memo Rice sent to herself and a set of notes taken by FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok – have been declassified and made public. Sally Yates also detailed the meeting to Robert Mueller’s investigation. Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the DOJ, FBI, and ODNI failed to respond to identical May 20, 2020, FOIA requests for: “All records regarding the January 5, 2017, meeting at the White House between former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director James Comey, President Obama, and others. This request includes all records created in preparation for, during, and/or pursuant to the meeting, as well as any and all related records of communication between any official or representative of the Department of Justice and any other individual.”

“Obama’s infamous January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting is a key moment in the corrupt effort to smear and spy on President Trump and target General Flynn with a malicious prosecution,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “Rather than delay and stonewall, it is urgent the FBI, DOJ, ODNI release all records about this malicious, seditious conspiracy.”

Read more …

Greta, go to school, don’t fall for being a marketing ploy.

Greta Thunberg Gets €1 Million ‘Humanity Prize’ From Oil Tycoon Foundation (RT)

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been awarded the first Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, in the form of €1 million. Problem is, Gulbenkian was a massive oil industrialist who paved the way for Western states to exploit Iraqi oil. Grand Jury Chair Jorge Sampaio said that “Thunberg has been able to mobilize younger generations for the cause of climate change” and is “one of the most remarkable figures of our days.” He also added that the decision was made by consensus. The Swedish activist, however, declined the opportunity to become a millionaire. Thunberg released an Instagram monologue, accompanied by some ambient spiritual music, in which she said she was “extremely honored” to receive the prize, but pledged to donate the money to various climate causes “as quickly as possible.”

It seems, though, that Thunberg is going to be spending fossil-fuel money to advance her cause. The foundation and the Humanity Prize are named after Calouste Gulbenkian, a British-Armenian oil tycoon who died in 1955. One of the wealthiest people of his era, he was a major shareholder in Royal Dutch Shell, developed many oil companies of his own and is historically credited with being the first person to exploit oil in Iraq, which made the petroleum riches of the Middle East ripe for the taking by the West. “By awarding this Prize, the Foundation highlights its commitment to urgent climate action,” the president of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Isabel Mota, commented.

The irony of an oil magnate of historic proportions financing an anti-oil climate activist, though indirectly, was not lost on the Internet. Both Thunberg’s supporters and detractors caught the humor in her now being sponsored by the money “of the polluters against whom she protests.” The prize money will supposedly be split between projects supporting people enduring the worst of the current “climate catastrophe.” For now, Thunberg mentioned she will donate to causes in countries of the Global South, specifically Brazil’s SOS Amazonia campaign to tackle Covid-19 in the Amazon, and the Stop Ecocide Foundation; each will receive €100,000.

Read more …

 

 

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I hear this is the perfect protection. Smoking with a mask on.

 

 

 

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Jan 312020
 
 January 31, 2020  Posted by at 10:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  37 Responses »


Walker Evans Waterfront in New Orleans. French market sidewalk scene 1935

 

WHO Declares International Health Emergency Over Coronavirus Outbreak (RT)
Spate Of Anti-Chinese Incidents In Italy As Two Cases Of Virus Confirmed (G.)
Hillary Clinton Refuses To Be Served Tulsi Gabbard’s Defamation Lawsuit (NYP)
Major Blow For Democrats At Trump Trial (BBC)
Warren Questions Roberts ‘Legitimacy’ Without Trial Witnesses (Fox)
Was The Bolton Leak Too Perfect? (Turley)
Simon & Schuster Won’t Back Down On John Bolton’s Memoir (NYP)
Steele Trump-Russia Dossier Was “Completely Fabricated” (SHTF)
UK Brings Down Curtain On EU Membership After 47 Years (Ind.)
Ambassador Warns That Trump Will Put US Firms First In UK Trade Talks (G.)
Welcome To The Trump Recession (Ind.)
Justice Department Drops Demand For Jail For Flynn (Turley)
Government and Media Are Prepping America for a Failed 2020 Election (Webb)
Greece Plans To Build Sea Barrier Off Lesbos To Deter Migrants (G.)

 

• 2019nCoV death toll rose from 170 to 213 today. (deaths over past seven days: 15, 15, 25, 25, 26, 38, 43)

• 9,821 confirmed cases worldwide, 98 abroad, the rest in China

• 25,060 probable cases

• 15,238 new suspected cases

• 102,427 Chinese under observation

• Recovered: 171

 

 

Jim Bianco posted these graphs tracking mortality and infections, respectively:

 

 

WHO is as late as China and the US. Maybe that’s why they’re complementing China: that way their own failure gets obscured.

WHO Declares International Health Emergency Over Coronavirus Outbreak (RT)

The World Health Organization has declared a “public health emergency of international concern” over the outbreak of the 2019nCoV, or the Wuhan coronavirus. The international body didn’t recommend travel and trade restrictions. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the coronavirus “a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak” at a press conference on Thursday, but said the WHO was not recommending restrictions of trade or travel with China, where the virus originated. Tedros pointed out that the declaration was “not a vote of no confidence in China,” but made out of concern for other countries, with “weaker” healthcare systems.


China’s response to the outbreak has been “very impressive,” the WHO chief added. “So is China’s commitment to transparency and to supporting other countries.” China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response. While the majority of coronavirus cases have been registered in China, the WHO confirmed there were 98 confirmed cases elsewhere in the world – including eight cases of direct transmission in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US. The “vast majority” of cases outside of China have either traveled to Wuhan or been in contact with someone who has, the WHO officials noted. “The only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation,” Tedros said. “We are all in this together, and we can only stop it together.”

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Inevitable. Wait till the first people start dying in countries such as Italy.

Spate Of Anti-Chinese Incidents In Italy As Two Cases Of Virus Confirmed (G.)

Chinese people in Italy have been the target of racist abuse as paranoia mounts over the spread of the deadly coronavirus, as the first two cases of the virus were reported in Rome. Two Chinese tourists tested positive for the virus and are being treated at Rome’s Lazzari Spallanzani national institute for infectious diseases. The couple are reported to be from Wuhan and arrived in Milan on 23 January. The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said on Thursday night that there was “no reason for panic or alarm”. He added that close checks were being carried out trace the tourists’ movements in Italy in order “to absolutely avoid any additional risk”.

Flights between China and Italy have been stopped, Conte said. There have been several incidents of xenophobia and calls to avoid Chinese restaurants and shops amid the coronavirus outbreak. Roberto Giuliani, the director of the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, one of the oldest music institutes in the world, was criticised by colleagues on Wednesday after telling students from China, Japan and South Korea not to come to class until after a doctor visits their homes to ensure they have not contracted the virus. Similarly, another music institute in Como told students returning from China after the lunar new year to stay at home for 14 days.


Fears over coronavirus have affected Chinese populations in other countries too. On Wednesday the mayor of Toronto condemned racism against Chinese Canadians. There have also been reports of anti-Asian racism in the UK. In France, Chinese residents have been sharing their experiences using the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus (I am not a virus). Other episodes reported in Italian media include two Chinese tourists being spat at by a group of children in Venice, and three Chinese tourists being insulted in a restaurant in Turin.

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Not unexpected. If Hillary would sue Tulsi, would her Secret Service detail do the same?

Hillary Clinton Refuses To Be Served Tulsi Gabbard’s Defamation Lawsuit (NYP)

Hillary Clinton has now twice snubbed a process server attempting to deliver the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, according to Gabbard’s attorney. “I find it rather unbelievable that Hillary Clinton is so intimidated by Tulsi Gabbard that she won’t accept service of process,” the congresswoman’s attorney, Brian Dunne, told The Post. “But I guess here we are.” Dunne said their process server first attempted to effect service at Clinton’s house in Chappaqua on Tuesday afternoon — but was turned away by Secret Service agents.


The agents directed the server to Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, who on Wednesday claimed at his Washington, DC, firm, Williams & Connolly, that he was unable to accept service on Clinton’s behalf, said Dunne. Gabbard sued the former secretary of state for $50 million last week for calling her a “Russian asset.” Clinton has refused to retract the statement. Dunne said his team was weighing next steps.

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Schiff will carry this straight into the election. But they have to find a viable candidate. Schiff, Hillary, Bloomberg?

Major Blow For Democrats At Trump Trial (BBC)

US Democrats have been dealt a major blow in their efforts to call witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial. They needed four Republicans to vote with them to allow witness testimony, but one of the few wavering senators said he would not support the measure. Lamar Alexander said the Democrats had proved Mr Trump acted inappropriately but it was not an impeachable offence. The announcement paves the way for the possible acquittal of the president by the Senate as early as Friday. The Democrats had especially wanted to call former National Security Adviser John Bolton who reportedly said Mr Trump told him directly that he was withholding US military aid to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate his rival, Joe Biden.

In a statement late on Thursday after a long question-and-answer session at the Senate, Mr Alexander, who represents Tennessee, said the Democrats had proven that Mr Trump’s actions were “inappropriate”. But the 79-year-old said: “There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offence.” He added: “The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.”


[..] Each side is expected to present closing arguments in Friday’s session, before the Senate votes on hearing witnesses. If the vote were to end in a tie, it would mean that the motion had failed unless US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, decided to break it, which is unlikely.

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A pivotal moment yesterday for me: Roberts reads question that says some claim Trump didn’t pay Giuliani, so who did? Schiff comes on, says he doesn’t know, but still takes the full 5(?) minutes to repeat for the 1000th time his schtick about Ukraine.

Warren Questions Roberts ‘Legitimacy’ Without Trial Witnesses (Fox)

Chief Justice John Roberts seemed visibly irritated when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., formally asked a question during President Trump’s impeachment trial Thursday that referenced him and questioned the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and Constitution in relation to the proceedings. In accordance with Senate rules, the chief justice of the United States must read aloud the questions posed by senators to the impeachment managers and the president’s counsel. Roberts formally recognized Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, who then submitted her written question to a clerk. Roberts read her question from the card — which referenced him.

“At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?” Roberts read from the card handed to him by the clerk. When he finished reading the question — explicitly posed to the House Impeachment managers — Roberts pursed his lips and shot a chagrined look.


After a moment, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead impeachment manager, appeared at the dais to answer the question — standing mere feet in front of Roberts. Schiff appeared to try to distance himself from Warren’s question, offering a short answer to the question before speaking at length about a tangential exchange. “I would not say that it leads to a loss of confidence in the chief justice,” Schiff said, adding that Roberts has thus far “presided admirably.”

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Nice take: ” It felt like the sudden discovery of a gun near the victim at the scene of a police shooting.”

Was The Bolton Leak Too Perfect? (Turley)

It was the seeming Perry Mason moment of President Trump’s impeachment trial. Just after the White House team presented its defense denying any quid pro quo over Ukrainian aid, former national security adviser John Bolton jumped up from the gallery to scream, “He did it!” Not really, but close. A few hours after the start of the president’s defense, details from Bolton’s forthcoming book leaked, including his account of Trump asserting that $391 million in military aid would be withheld until Ukraine announced investigations into the 2016 election and the Bidens. If that seems a tad contrived for either an episode or an impeachment, that is because it is.

In responding to a defense built around Trump’s insistence that his call was “perfect,” this leak was perfect to a fault. Perfect timing. Perfect content. It was so perfect that there is little doubt that the Senate is being played. The leak happened at the exact time that it would inflict the most damage on the defense and throw the trial into disarray. It occurred hours after the White House team gave opening statements that seriously undermined critical points made by the House managers, including the assertions that Trump never previously raised corruption in other countries or that this type of hold on aid was uncommon. It felt like the sudden discovery of a gun near the victim at the scene of a police shooting.

That does not mean the leak will not succeed. The disclosure about Bolton’s book could well make the difference in securing the four Republican votes needed to obtain witnesses. But it could also succeed too well if it leads senators to plunge into the unknown of calling witnesses such as former vice president Joe Biden or his son Hunter. There are already indications that the leak may have secured the four votes for witnesses, while even Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has said the Senate may need to subpoena the book draft itself.

[..] Trump has never denied asking for the investigations, but insisted that they were meant to deal with his concerns over ongoing corruption in Ukraine. Moreover, the first of the two investigations could not be a basis for impeachment. Trump asked for assistance in investigating allegations into the 2016 election — matters that were currently being investigated by U.S. Attorney John Durham. It is the Biden investigation that raises legitimate questions, but it comes down again to a question of intent. Finally, the leak refers to the freeze on the funds but does not indicate that Trump was prepared to hold the aid past the deadline at the end of September. (It was released on September 11th.).

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It has lost all relevance though. Good luck.

Simon & Schuster Won’t Back Down On John Bolton’s Memoir (NYP)

Despite the uproar surrounding John Bolton’s new memoir, publisher Simon & Schuster is standing firm on its intended March 17 publication date. An S&S spokesman declined to make an official statement amid blowback from President Donald Trump, saying only that there is “no change” in the publication date for “The Room Where it Happened.” Trump has called for his former national security adviser’s memoir to be blocked, claiming that it contains classified material.


The yet-to-be-published manuscript played a central role in Senate impeachment discussions this week after the New York Times late Sunday reported that Bolton’s claims that Trump told him in August 2019 that he was withholding $391 million in aid to Ukraine until he had a promise that the powers that be there would launch investigations into Joe Biden, whose son had ties to Ukraine. Trump on Monday denied he said it. “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” he said. Bolton lawyer Charles Cooper said he does not believe “The Room Where It Happened” contains classified material but is pushing for an expeditious decision from the National Security Council on its content — even as it remains possible for Bolton to be called to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

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I forgot to include this in earlier Debt Rattles, but it should be read. We must wonder, and investigate, how the dossier became the pillar on which Russiagate rested when it was such obvious nonsense.

“Some of the most glaring mistakes were those such as treating one particular source as an expert in three entirely different fields or making up the existence of the Russian consulate in Miami, Florida. The source in question starts out as a middle-manager at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, but is later described as an expert on cyber warfare, and later yet as an expert on money-laundering by Russian immigrants in the US, West explained.”

Steele Trump-Russia Dossier Was “Completely Fabricated” (SHTF)

In some not so surprising news, a spy expert has come out saying what most of us already knew: the Steele dossier was completely “fabricated.” Nigel West, one of Britain’s leading experts on espionage, was hired to examine the dossier written by his friend Christopher Steele. He concluded it was all manufactured falsehoods. West, hired to examine the dossier back in 2017, quickly concluded that “there is… a strong possibility that all Steele’s material has been fabricated,” according to the Sunday Times. “Steele’s scandalous document, which claimed extensive ties between the then-US President-elect Donald Trump and the Kremlin, was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017 and quickly became the cornerstone of “Russiagate.” Media talking heads insisted that much of it had been corroborated. In fact, nothing was.” –RT

It took West a long time to come out with the information that the dossier was an utter fabrication. It isn’t clear why he waited so long to reveal what most already knew anyway. Even the FBI director at the time, James Comey, described the dossier as“salacious and unverified” in testimony to Congress. But the fact that this dossier was “unverified” did not stop Comey from signing an application for a FISA warrant that the Bureau used to spy on the Trump campaign via one of its advisers, Carter Page. Steele himself was paid purely above-board, of course: by Fusion GPS, which was a client of the law firm Perkins Coie LLP, on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, at the direction of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.


West told RT that he was surprised Steele made such obvious errors in the dossier. Some of the most glaring mistakes were those such as treating one particular source as an expert in three entirely different fields or making up the existence of the Russian consulate in Miami, Florida. The source in question starts out as a middle-manager at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, but is later described as an expert on cyber warfare, and later yet as an expert on money-laundering by Russian immigrants in the US, West explained. “On the face of it, it looked inherently improbable that this single source was as proclaimed.”

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Hardly any celebrations. What happened?

“A light display beamed onto the frontage of No 10 will be visible only to a few journalists and security staff inside the black gates of Downing Street. And a pre-recorded video message risked going unseen by TV viewers, due to a spat with broadcasters”

UK Brings Down Curtain On EU Membership After 47 Years (Ind.)

Britain brings down the curtain on 47 years of European Union membership on Friday with little in the way of official ceremony to mark the historic moment. Some 1,317 days after the 2016 referendum vote to Leave, the formal departure from the 28-nation bloc will take place at 11pm UK time – midnight in Brussels. Boris Johnson, who served as the figurehead of the Vote Leave campaign and last Friday signed the withdrawal treaty after its passage through parliament, said the day would signal “the dawn of a new era”. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the country stood at “a crossroads” with many of the most important decisions about its future relations with the EU and the wider world yet to be made.

And Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, is expected to say that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against the wishes of the “overwhelming majority” of its people, in a speech setting out the next steps in her battle for an independence referendum. Downing Street made clear the prime minister will not be making any public appearance to celebrate the moment of withdrawal. After chairing cabinet in Sunderland – the city whose vote for Brexit was the first sign of Leave’s victory on referendum night – the prime minister will return to London to attend an evening reception with staff behind closed doors. A light display beamed onto the frontage of No 10 will be visible only to a few journalists and security staff inside the black gates of Downing Street.


And a pre-recorded video message risked going unseen by TV viewers, due to a spat with broadcasters who objected to No 10’s insistence of filming the footage itself rather than following the normal practice of inviting in a pool camera from one of the television companies.

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Who could have predicted that?

Ambassador Warns That Trump Will Put US Firms First In UK Trade Talks (G.)

Donald Trump will put the interests of corporate America first and demand that the NHS pays higher prices for US drugs in a free-trade deal with the UK, the outgoing British ambassador to Washington has told the Guardian. Kim Darroch, in his first interview since his resignation from his post in July, from where he spearheaded attempts to grow trade with the US, insisted that Trump would reward his backers in drug firms and farming communities by opening up British markets, while questioning where the UK’s gains would be found. The former British envoy, who left Washington after a leak of his confidential cables to London, said it was doubtful whether the UK had the resources for parallel negotiations with the US and the EU, a strategy championed by Downing Street as a way to give British negotiators leverage in Brussels.


Darroch, who said that similar warnings on the US’s trade demands had been made to No 10 during his tenure in Washington DC, also said it was “impossible” for a deal to get through Congress by the end of 2020 and that it appeared to be “a narrow and rocky path to get to where they [the UK government] want to be”. He said: “I know what the US will be pitching for when they negotiate a free-trade deal with us. They will pitch for massively greater access for agricultural products. People talk about chlorinated chicken – it is a lot more than that. Farmers in America vote for Trump, pretty much all of them vote for Trump … “They also want us to pay the same for American pharmaceuticals as they pay in their own market. Do they want us to pay more for their pharmaceuticals? Do the pharmaceutical companies want to use this leverage? Of course they do.”

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Dems’ final weapon? For now the article feels contrived.

Welcome To The Trump Recession (Ind.)

Donald Trump won’t have to run his re-election campaign amid a 2020 recession — but numbers now emerging are bad enough, and their shape is bad enough, to show he won’t be running a Morning in America campaign either. New government data Thursday showed the economy’s GDP grew at a 2.1 per cent annual rate in the fourth quarter — the second straight quarter at that tepid number, closing out the weakest year of Trump’s presidency. Worse, the slowdown is aimed straight at Trump’s base, including a decent-sized manufacturing recession. It’s based directly on the failure of Trump’s policies. And the details belie the idea, popular in Washington, that consumer confidence is high and that such confidence begets confidence in the president.

Let’s walk through this fairly complicated argument one step at a time. First, the economy really didn’t do well in the last nine months of 2019, even if the stock market thinks it did. Thursday’s report marks the third straight quarter where the economy grew at 2.1 per cent or less, since the second quarter of the year saw only 2.0 per cent growth. Forecasts for the first half of 2020 are a little worse: Consulting firm IHS Markit expects first-quarter growth at a 2 per cent annual rate, and High Frequency Economics thinks it could go as low as 1.2 per cent as Boeing attempts to solve its 737 Max safety issues. “Welcome to 2016, when it was one quarter after another of roughly 2 per cent growth,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.


“We have had three consecutive quarters right about that level. And sifting through the data, there is no reason to think that will change significantly in one direction or the other.’’ The details, though, are nastier than headline numbers. Consumer spending grew only 1.8 per cent annualized, down from 3.2 per cent in the third quarter — which Naroff attributes to slowing income gains. Private investment — investment was supposed to surge because of a 2017 tax cut focused on corporations and small business owners — was down 6.1 per cent. Imports were way down — which propped up short-term growth, given the technical details of how economists measure growth. But exports of manufactured goods were also down.

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They got scared. Time for Sidney Powell to go into full attack mode. Go after Comey, McCabe, Strzok.

Justice Department Drops Demand For Jail For Flynn (Turley)

The Department of Justice has dropped its demand for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to serve time under his plea agreement. Flynn was attempting to withdraw his plea after the Justice Department set out in what was an overtly vindictive campaign against him in court. The Flynn case remains a troubling matter for those who have followed the Russian investigation. He pleaded guilty to a false statement that seems relatively minor in comparison to false statements made by Justice officials like Andrew McCabe or leaks by figures like James Comey. Only a few weeks ago, the Justice Department was demanding up to six weeks of jail time. Some of us have questioned the case for years. Prosecutors threatened to go after Flynn’s son and to bankrupt him if he continuing to assert his innocence. Flynn broke with his prior lawyers and accused them of giving him poor advice.


He now maintains that he did not lie to two FBI agents in 2017. His recent filings slam the process and the charges. He wrote “One of the ways a person becomes a 3-star general is by being a good soldier, taking orders, being part of a team, and trusting the people who provide information and support. Lori and I trusted Mr. Kelner and Mr. Anthony to guide us through the most stressful experience in our lives, in a completely incomprehensible situation. I have never felt more powerless.” The position of the Justice Department seemed wholly at odds with other cases, including the light sentences received by individuals sentenced as part of the Russian investigation. He was also the subject of a bizarre hearing with Judge Emmet Sullivan where he was accused of things outside of his charges or the record. He is due to be sentenced on Feb. 27.

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US intelligence has taken over, writes Whitney Webb.

Government and Media Are Prepping America for a Failed 2020 Election (Webb)

[..] what is particularly odd about this narrative surrounding imminent “chaos” and meddling in the upcoming 2020 election is the fact that, not only have the instruments of said meddling been named and described in detail, but their use in the election was recently simulated by a company with deep ties to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. That simulation, organized and run by the Israeli-American company Cybereason, ended with scores of Americans dead, the cancellation of the 2020 election, the imposition of martial law and a spike in fear among the American populace.

Many of the technologies used to create that chaotic and horrific scenario in the Cybereason simulation are the very same technologies that U.S. federal officials and corporate media outlets have promoted as the core of the very toolkit that they claim will be used to undermine the coming election, such as deep fakes and hacks of critical infrastructure, consumer devices and even vehicles.


While the narrative in place has already laid the blame at the feet of U.S. rival states China, Russia and Iran, these very technologies are instead dominated by companies that are tied to the very same intelligence agencies as Cybereason, specifically Israeli military intelligence. With intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Israel not only crafting the narrative about 2020 foreign meddling, but also dominating these technologies and simulating their use to upend the coming election, it becomes crucial to consider the motivations behind this narrative and if these intelligence agencies have ulterior motives in promoting and simulating such outcomes that would effectively end American democracy and hand almost total power to the national security state.

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They’ll simply use another route, another island.

Greece Plans To Build Sea Barrier Off Lesbos To Deter Migrants (G.)

The Greek government has been criticised after announcing it will build a floating barrier to deter thousands of people from making often perilous sea journeys from Turkey to Aegean islands on Europe’s periphery. The centre-right administration unveiled the measure on Thursday, following its pledge to take a tougher stance on undocumented migrants accessing the country. The 2.7km-long netted barrier will be erected off Lesbos, the island that shot to prominence at the height of the Syrian civil war when close to a million Europe-bound refugees landed on its beaches. The bulwark will rise from pylons 50 metres above water and will be equipped with flashing lights to demarcate Greece’s sea borders.

Greece’s defence minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, told Skai radio: “In Evros, natural barriers had relative [good] results in containing flows,” referring to the barbed-wire topped fence that Greece built along its northern land border with Turkey in 2012 to deter asylum seekers. “We believe a similar result can be had with these floating barriers. We are trying to find solutions to reduce flows.” Amnesty International slammed the plan, warning it would enhance the dangers asylum-seekers and refugees encountered as they attempted to seek safety.


“This proposal marks an alarming escalation in the Greek government’s ongoing efforts to make it as difficult as possible for asylum-seekers and refugees to arrive on its shores,” said Massimo Moratti, the group’s Research Director for Europe.“The plan raises serious issues about rescuers’ ability to continue providing life-saving assistance to people attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Lesbos. The government must urgently clarify the operational details and necessary safeguards to ensure that this system does not cost further lives.”

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Include the Automatic Earth in your 2020 charity list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 292020
 


Marion Post Wolcott Main Street. Sheridan, Wyoming 1941

 

Number Of Coronavirus Cases Surpasses SARS (ZH)
Coronavirus May Disrupt Apple’s iPhone Production Ramp Up (R.)
White House Tells Airlines It May Suspend All China-US Flights (CNBC)
British Airways Suspends All Direct Flights To And From Mainland China (BBC)
China Boom Exposes Airlines To Coronavirus Risk (R.)
Viewers Choose Day Time Soaps Over The Impeachment Trial (Turley)
Democrats’ Dubious Impeachment Subtext of Treason (Michael Tracey)
Shoot Article II and Call The Witnesses (Turley)
Trump and Netanyahu Dictate Terms of Palestinian Surrender (IC)
Israel Will Now Officially Become an Apartheid State (Lauria)
Hamas Calls Trump’s Mideast Plan ‘Aggressive’ (RT)
Brexit Britain To Outperform Brussels As ‘Ineffective’ Bloc Gamble Backfires (Exp.)
Human Rights Report To Oppose Extradition Of Julian Assange To US (G.)
Democratic Super PAC Ad Targets Bernie Sanders, Mentions Heart Attack (Hill)
No Points For Saying Anything Good About Russia – Stephen Cohen (RT)

 

 

First, we’re getting into faulty territory as far as terminology is concerned. We can call the current virus, “coronavirus”, and I have as well, but we can’t say things like “Number Of Coronavirus Cases Surpasses SARS”, because SARS is also a coronavirus, like MERS. They belong to the same “family”. The current virus is officially called “2019-nCOV”. Not too catchy. Perhaps “Wuhan coronavirus” is a good compromise, but that’s long. Here’s why they have that name:

 


Coronavirus under electron microscope

 

At dawn Beijing time, the latest numbers came out, and they said 131 deaths, which would have been another increase of 25, the third day in a row. later it was raised to 132. So over the past 5 days we have increases of 15, 15, 25, 25 and 26.

60,000 people are under observation, 20,000 of which in Hubei. 263 cases are deemed “severe.” Today was the first time that more new cases were reported outside of Hubei province than inside it. It was also the first time that the numbers of increases was over 1,000 (I’ve seen that called a tipping point). There are 19 countries that have reported cases: China, United States, France, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Nepal, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Canada, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Germany, UAE.

A remarkable stsatement came from Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory diseases expert, who said the outbreak hasn’t yet reached its peak, though he thinks the number of new cases will plateau within the next ten days.

But that is very different from what HKU’s faculty of medicine dean Gabriel Leung says. Does Zhong do Beijing damage control? Or will the epidemic fizzle out within a week?

SARS reached its peak after 4-5 months. The episode lasted 9 months. The “2019-nCOV” “Wuhan coronavirus” has already infected more people in one month than SARS during its entire episode.

Leung said his team’s research showed self-sustaining human-to-human transmission was already happening in all major mainland cities and warned that a pandemic might be close. “We have to be prepared, that this particular epidemic may be about to become a global epidemic,” he said. The team’s model predicted the number of infections in five mainland megacities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chongqing – would peak between late April and early May.


At the height of the epidemic, as many as 150,000 new cases would be confirmed every day in Chongqing, because of its large population coupled with intense travel volume with Wuhan. But Leung added that their projections could be too pessimistic as they only took into account lockdown measures in Wuhan and not other health intervention policies.

Compare with Fibonacci:

 


Fibonacci

 

 

Already more cases than during 9 months of SARS.

Number Of Coronavirus Cases Surpasses SARS (ZH)

It’s only 8:15 am in Beijing and health officials have already confirmed more than 840 new cases in Hubei Province. That brings the toll to 6,049, including 263 cases deemed “severe.” The death toll has climbed to 132, according to SCMP. Those who have been closely comparing this outbreak with the 2003 SARS outbreak may notice that the coronavirus has achieved an important milestone. Barely a week into global response to the outbreak, the number of confirmed cases has already passed the number of SARS cases reported during the entire monthslong ordeal. Sars infected 5,327 people in mainland China in nine months and killed 349 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


Another 60k people are said to be under observation across China, with 20k in Hubei alone. Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory diseases expert who spoke with the SCMP on Tuesday, the outbreak hasn’t yet reached its peak, though he thinks the number of new cases will plateau within the next ten days. Back in the US, the Trump Administration is denying reports that it’s considering a total ban on passenger travel between the US and China. Will the fact that the coronavirus has already surpassed SARS – and is on track to achieve some of the more dire projections shared by epidemiologists – shake the market’s confidence? Or will a few soothing words from Jerome Powell save the day?

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Airlines don’t fly. Borders are closing. What will happen to business? Will we keep importing Chinese products? Will they still export?

Tourism in EU and US will be hit very hard.

But Apple was doing so well, up 86% in 2019. “Apple has bought back $319 billion in stock over the past 7 years, which is greater than the market cap of 490 companies in the S&P 500.”

Coronavirus May Disrupt Apple’s iPhone Production Ramp Up (R.)

Apple’s plan to ramp up iPhone production by 10% in the first half of this year may hit a roadblock as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across China, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Tuesday. The company has asked its suppliers, many of whom have manufacturing centers in China, to make up to 80 million iPhones in the first half of 2020, the Nikkei reported, citing people familiar with the company’s plans. Apple has booked orders for up to 65 million of its older iPhones and up to 15 million units of a new cut-price model that it plans to unveil in March, according to the report. However, the mass production which is due to start in the third week of February might be delayed due to the virus outbreak, the Nikkei reported.


The coronavirus outbreak has so far killed more than 100 people and infected over 4,500 in China, stranded tens of millions during the Lunar New Year holiday and rattled global markets. Apple’s shares rose about 86% in 2019, outperforming a 29% rise in the S&P 500 index. The stock closed down nearly 3% at $308.95 on Monday as coronavirus fears dragged down high-flying U.S. chip and technology stocks. Cupertino, California-based Apple, which raked in more than $142 billion in iPhone sales in fiscal 2019, has introduced lower priced smartphone variants to woo budget conscious shoppers and check declining sales of its biggest product category.

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They will regret not having done it already. Note: this concerns flights to all of China, not just Wuhan.

White House Tells Airlines It May Suspend All China-US Flights (CNBC)

White House officials have told U.S. airlines the Trump administration is considering suspending flights from China to the U.S. amid an escalating outbreak of a new coronavirus that has infected thousands of people across the world, people familiar with the matter said. The Trump administration is looking at a variety of measures to contain the fast-spreading virus, U.S. health officials told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. White House officials called executives at major U.S. carriers on Tuesday, telling them that a temporary ban on China flights is on the table, according to people familiar with those conversations. As of Tuesday evening, the Trump administration had not taken that step and there was no guarantee that it would do so.


Two of the people said the White House told them it doesn’t immediately plan to ban China air travel, but administration officials are constantly evaluating the situation. United Airlines, which has the most service of the U.S. airlines to Hong Kong and mainland China with about a dozen daily flights, on Tuesday announced it would cancel dozens of flights next month to Hong Kong and mainland China as the outbreak worsens. The Chicago-based airline said it has experienced a “significant decline in demand for travel to China.” United and its rivals Delta and American are waiving cancellation and change fees for travelers booked to China.

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More will follow. No choice. No customers.

British Airways Suspends All Direct Flights To And From Mainland China (BBC)

British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China because of the coronavirus outbreak, the airline has said. It comes after the UK Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to the country. The virus has caused more than 100 deaths, spreading across China and to at least 16 other countries. Hundreds of foreign nationals have been evacuated from the city of Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak. The UK government is arranging to evacuate Britons from Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, with up to 300 British people thought to be in the area. Australia plans to quarantine its 600 returning citizens for two weeks on Christmas Island – some 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the mainland. Japan, the US and other EU countries are also repatriating their citizens.

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Boeing can’t catch a break. They don’t deserve one.

China Boom Exposes Airlines To Coronavirus Risk (R.)

Margins at many carriers remain narrow, economic growth has been fragile amid a U.S.-China trade war and there are fears that the return of the 737 MAX, expected mid-year, could lead to overcapacity and push down fares. Airbus and Boeing orders have fallen from the peak levels of 2013 and 2014. The epidemic is particularly concerning to the industry because China is the world’s biggest outbound international travel market and the second-largest domestic aviation market. The country accounts for about 25% of global sales for airplane manufacturers Airbus and Boeing. About 450 million more passengers fly to, from and within China per year compared with a decade ago, according to the IATA.


For Chinese airlines, the biggest of which are state-backed, the impact of the new coronavirus has been swift. On Wednesday, 23% of departures from Shanghai Hongqiao airport had been canceled, according to FlightRadar24, compared with 8% at the more internationally focused Shanghai Pudong airport. Mike Boyd, head of U.S.-based aviation consultancy Boyd Group International, said that he had forecast airport traffic in China to rise 8.1% in 2020, but that he now sees traffic growing at less than half that rate. “It is a real slam,” he said. Cathay Pacific, already battered by a fall in demand because of anti-government protests in its home market of Hong Kong, said on Tuesday evening it would cut flights to mainland China by 50% or more through the end of March.

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“For viewers, the result is the equivalent to watching professional wrestling with the same fake matches but without the thrill of an occasional pile driver.”

Viewers Choose Day Time Soaps Over The Impeachment Trial (Turley)

In the 1960s, many of the Senators heard the anti-war slogan of “what if they held a war and nobody came?” This week, they finally learned the answer . . . at least in holding an impeachment. Senators have expressed surprise at the empty seats in the Senate gallery. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he was “really surprised . . . because this is kind of historic.” It is but the members are increasingly making history alone. Not only are spectators sparse, but the television audience has been declining to the point that, by the second day, the networks quickly switched over to shows in greater demand like The Young and The Restless.

Of course, there was a time when impeachment actually involved real trials. The trial of Andrew Johnson had dozens of witnesses. While the rage and partisanship was if anything greater in 1868, the trial itself was more substantive and deliberative. The Clinton trial abandoned that model at the insistence of Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) who opposed any witnesses and even wanted a summary vote without a trial. Only three depositions were allowed and then live testimony was blocked. For viewers, the result is the equivalent to watching professional wrestling with the same fake matches but without the thrill of an occasional pile driver. If the two teams are going to pretend to have a match, Schiff could at least pretend to hit Sekulow with a chair. The game – and ratings – changer may be the chance of witnesses which increased with the leaking of the material from the book of John Bolton.

While a Bolton appearance might “jump the shark” like Happy Days, it would add precisely what is missing in his ratings flop: drama. The size of the viewing audience should not matter, but it does because there is no real effort to try this case to a verdict. The arguments are tailored for public consumption, not jury deliberation. Edward R. Morrow once noted that “If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.” This is not the Second Coming. It is more like the hundredth retelling the same scripted narrative. That is why viewers prefer to see how Pamela on The Bold and the Beautiful is going to kill Donna in the cabin while a bear is circling outside. Why? Because they do not know who will win: Pamela, Donna, or the bear. Now that is a drama.

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Fast and loose with terminology. Not a great idea for lawmakers.

Democrats’ Dubious Impeachment Subtext of Treason (Michael Tracey)

Less than 72 hours before Donald Trump was impeached last month, the House Judiciary Committee released a behemoth 658-page report outlining the rationale for the final articles produced by the Democratic majority. It would be interesting to conduct a secret ballot asking members of Congress — and indeed, members of the media — to confide whether they actually read the report before the vote took place. [..] Even if the Senate trial fails to result in a conviction (as is exceedingly likely) the long-term implications of what the House of Representatives has already ratified by way of its impeachment vote in December are highly ominous. For instance — and the fact that this has been overlooked is especially mind-blowing — the first article alleges that Trump “betrayed the Nation.” Grave stuff.

No president has ever been impeached for “betraying the Nation” before. What does this mean, exactly? The Judiciary Committee report helpfully provides a definition of the relevant terms. In a section describing what they believe constitutes “impeachable treason,” the Democratic majority writes, “At the very heart of ‘Treason’ is deliberate betrayal of the nation and its security.” There’s that phrase: “betrayal of the nation.” According to the drafters of the impeachment articles, then, Trump has been effectively impeached for treason — except the drafters presumably recognized that inserting the word “treason” in the actual text might prove a tad controversial. So instead they just heavily insinuate it, and confirm that they are charging the president with treason in supporting materials that few will ever read.

“Such betrayal would not only be unforgivable,” the report’s explication of treason reads, “but would also confirm that the President remains a threat if allowed to remain in office. A President who has knowingly betrayed national security is a President who will do so again. He endangers our lives and those of our allies.” This language is then imported into the impeachment articles almost verbatim: “Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.” So let’s be clear on what was done here. The Democrats set forth a definition of treason in their lengthy impeachment report, and then inserted that same definition into the final impeachment articles — except without using the actual word “treason” in the text.

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A.k.a. Call Article II and Shoot The Witnesses.

Shoot Article II and Call The Witnesses (Turley)

Famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith once described politics as “the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” Those words could not more aptly describe the choice now facing the House managers who lost this case before it began. Not because of the Republican majority but because of its own historic blunder in rushing the impeachment forward on an incomplete record. It now must make a choice between the disastrous in simply staying the course to certain acquittal or the unpalatable in admitting the blunder and offering a compromise. Thus far, the suggestions of a compromise has centered on an unlikely horse trade of a witness like former National Security Adviser John Bolton for Hunter Biden.

However, such a compromise does not address the separate institutional concern of some senators, which likely includes the four swing senators. For them, the threshold issue is not the inclusion of witnesses in the Senate but their omission by the House. This week, a key Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), indicated that she was not inclined to call witnesses that the House failed to pursue in its rushed vote. The decision is now with the House managers. They can either just grab the face time on national television or they can move to deal with its blunder and try to resuscitate this case. It might be able to do so but it will have to offer more than a witness swap.

A better compromise might be found in the two articles themselves. To put it simply, it may be time to dismiss Article 2. The obstruction of Congress article was dead on arrival but its dismissal could allow the Senate to go on the record in opposition to the House handling of this impeachment. It just might be enough to open a path for witnesses on Article 1 and abuse of power. The House destroyed any chance for an obstruction article when made an impeachment by Christmas its overriding priority despite warnings that it would effectively hand over an incomplete case to not just the other house but the opposing party.

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The UN should scrap its articles on self-determination in protest.

Trump and Netanyahu Dictate Terms of Palestinian Surrender (IC)

Flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but no Palestinian leader, President Donald Trump unveiled “a vision for peace” in the Middle East on Tuesday which permits Israel to annex much of the occupied West Bank immediately, offering the Palestinians only local control in isolated Bantustans surrounded by Israeli territory. As many Israeli political observers noted, the timing of the announcement, just hours after Netanyahu was indicted on corruption charges in Jerusalem, looked like an effort to boost the prime minister’s bid to win reelection in March, his best hope for avoiding prison.

The release of the 180-page plan — which was drafted by aides to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and an old family friend of Netanyahu — was staged as a celebration, and acted as a dual campaign rally, with the American president and the Israeli prime minister boasting of all they had achieved for Israel to a room filled with far-right supporters of the Jewish state, including Sheldon Adelson, the Republican and Likud megadonor who spent millions of dollars to elect both leaders. Trump, who intervened in a previous Israeli election campaigns on Netanyahu’s behalf — by recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights last year — gave the embattled prime minister a podium at the White House to detail conditions imposed on the Palestinians which sounded like terms of surrender.

To start with, Netanyahu said, the Palestinians would be required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, cede the entire Jordan Valley, disarm Hamas, and abandon the hope for both the return of refugees who fled homes in what is now Israel and for a capital in Jerusalem’s Old City. [..] Crisis Group analyst Tareq Baconi observed, “The plan sets out parameters that are impossible for Palestinians to accept, and effectively provides Israel with a blueprint to sustain the one-state reality that exists on the ground.” That sentiment was echoed by Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group that monitors the occupation. “What the Palestinians are being ‘offered’ now is not rights or a state, but a permanent state of Apartheid. No amount of marketing can erase this disgrace or blur the facts,”

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An invitation for violence.

Israel Will Now Officially Become an Apartheid State (Lauria)

Within hours of the so-called Trump peace plan on the Palestine-Israel question being revealed on Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would propose the first phase of West Bank annexation to the Israeli cabinet on Sunday. Netanyahu sprang into action after the plan, which he essentially created, was unveiled by Trump with Netanyahu at his side at the White House. It was the final piece of a strategy that only a U.S. administration as slavishly pro-Israel as Trump’s could give Netanyahu. First the Israeli prime minister got the U.S. on Dec. 6, 2017 to recognize all of Jerusalem, including Arab East Jerusalem, as Israel’s capital with the move of the U.S. embassy there, something every previous U.S. administration had refused to do. Then on March 25, 2019 Trump recognized Israel’s illegal 1981 annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights.


Just three months ago Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared expanding Israeli colonies on the West Bank as legal, a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, which says: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The last piece Netanyahu needed was Tuesday’s much-awaited “peace plan” from the most anti-Palestinian administration in U.S. history. Even The New York Times‘ coverage admitted the plan was strongly biased towards Israel and that Netanyahu was in on the secretive plan all along. The operation was run by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose family are close personal friends with Netanyahu. It is a plan being imposed on the Palestinians rather than arising out of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as past U.S. administrations tried to do.

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“Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger…”

Hamas Calls Trump’s Mideast Plan ‘Aggressive’ (RT)

Hamas has brushed off US President Donald Trump’s proposal on Jerusalem as “nonsense.” The group rejected his peace plan altogether by calling his statement “aggressive,” adding that it would only spark “anger.” “Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. Zuhri particularly slammed the US leader’s proposal on the future of Jerusalem, calling it “nonsense.” He added that the city will always be a land for the Palestinians, and that they would oppose Trump’s deal. Zuhri particularly slammed the US leader’s proposal on the future of Jerusalem, calling it “nonsense.”


He added that the city “will always be a land for the Palestinians”, and that they would oppose Trump’s deal. Trump’s speech contained conflicting messages, with him first declaring that Jerusalem would be Israel’s “undivided” capital, only to then say that Eastern Jerusalem will be turned into the capital of a newly formed Palestinian state if Palestinians accept his deal. He even vowed to open a US embassy there.

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Says Steve Keen. Not sure I would agree. For this to happen, Britain being successful, Boris would need to create some kind of unity in the country that does not today exist. But he’s much more likely to create more austerity, and divide it even more.

Brexit Britain To Outperform Brussels As ‘Ineffective’ Bloc Gamble Backfires (Exp.)

The European Union and Britain are expected to begin trade talks once EU leaders agree on a mandate in the weeks after Brexit on January 31, 2020. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Monday insisted the EU27 will hold the cards in the negotiations but economist Steve Keen said the bloc is likely to avoid any new “gambit” to secure an agreement and avoid the fall out of Britain leaving the EU. Speaking to RT News, Mr Keen said: “The whole reason the European Union was doing this ever since the Brexit vote is because they were trying to stop the vote going ahead. “Now, with Boris’ success in the election, they know that particular gamble is no longer workable, they have to make some sort of arrangement over the long-term.


“And they’ve got the hope the UK does worse and pleads to come back into the fold sometime down the track.” Mr Keen continued: “But I think that’s wishful thinking. “The European Union is a very poorly designed, ineffective trade bloc and it’s likely to do less well rather than better than the UK over time.” Speaking to the BBC, Irish Taoiseach Varadkar insisted the size of the European Union will play a significant role when the time comes to strike a Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom in the coming months. Mr Varadkar said: “I think the reality of the situation is that the European Union is a union of 27 member states. “The UK is only one country. And we have a population and a market of 450 million people. The UK, it’s about 60. “So if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team? So long as we’re united.”

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Why would Britain feel compelled to listen to the Council of Europe’s parliamentary arm? They’re leaving the EU in 2days.

Human Rights Report To Oppose Extradition Of Julian Assange To US (G.)

Julian Assange’s detention “sets a dangerous precedent for journalists”, according to politicians from the Council of Europe’s parliamentary arm, who voted on Tuesday to oppose the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the US. The words of support for Assange and implicit criticism of the UK government will be contained in a final report produced by the Labour peer Lord Foulkes for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which focuses on upholding human rights across the continent. Assange is being held in London’s Belmarsh prison prior to an extradition hearing that will begin in February. A US grand jury has indicted him on 18 charges – 17 of which fall under the Espionage Act – around conspiracy to receive, obtaining and disclosing classified diplomatic and military documents.

Foulkes had drafted an initial report – Threats to Media Freedom and Journalists’ Security in Europe – that will now contain amendments referring to Assange tabled by a number of European parliamentarians. One of the amendments backs the recommendation of the UN special rapporteur on torture who called last year for Assange’s release and for extradition to the United States to be blocked. The other states that his possible extradition to the US “would set a precedent and threaten journalists’ freedoms in all member states”.

Foulkes told the Guardian that campaigners and supporters of Assange had written to him while he was writing the report, which addresses media freedoms and threats to journalists in countries including Russia, Turkey and Malta, and asked that he consider including an amendment mentioning Assange. As a rapporteur for the assembly, he said it was not his role to do so but that colleagues from other states had done so. He added: “I was in favour of him being sent back to Sweden when there were allegations against him to face that, but as far as the US is concerned I think there would be deep concerns if he were to be sent there.”

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The Democratic Majority for Israel PAC. Let’s get uglier.

Democratic Super PAC Ad Targets Bernie Sanders, Mentions Heart Attack (Hill)

A Democratic super PAC is expected to release a new ad campaign Wednesday that targets Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the heart attack that he suffered late last year. The ad from Democratic Majority for Israel features six Iowa voters and argues Sanders would be unable to beat President Trump in November, The New York Times reported. “I like Bernie, I think he has great ideas, but in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, they’re just not going to vote for a socialist,” a male voter says in the ad, according to the Times. “I just don’t think Bernie can beat Trump.” Another voter highlights the heart attack that Sanders, 78, suffered while on the campaign trail in Las Vegas at the beginning of October.


“I do have some concerns about Bernie Sanders’s health considering the fact that he did have a heart attack,” the person says, according to the newspaper. PAC president Mark Mellman told the publication that the goal of the ad is to highlight concerns that some Democratic voters have about Sanders’s electability, asserting the senator was in a “uniquely bad position” to defeat Trump. “For many months people were saying he really didn’t have much of a chance, but you have to look at the data now and say he does have a realistic chance of winning Iowa and potentially the nomination,” he said. “This is the point at which there could be room for someone else to make their case and have a better candidate emerge.”

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I don’t think Schiff “misunderstands” Russia or Putin. I think he wants war. And Trump won’t deliver.

No Points For Saying Anything Good About Russia – Stephen Cohen (RT)

US Congress heavyweights like Adam Schiff deeply misunderstand Russia but keep on bashing Moscow because it has become “politically advantageous” in Washington, Russia researcher Stephen Cohen said. “Being highly-critical of Russia is good politics in the United States,” Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University, told the Grayzone’s Aaron Mate in an interview, uploaded online on Monday. “Nobody ever gets any points for saying anything good about Russia – and only rarely for advocating any kind of partnership with Russia.” Cohen said that “politically it’s advantageous to a lot of people to bash Russia,” and even some of the “progressive” Democratic Party candidates in the 2020 presidential race employ rhetoric, which is hostile toward Moscow.


“It has become an American way of life to blame Russia when things go wrong. Of course, sometimes Russia is to blame, but not all the time. And yet that’s become part of our discourse.” The US Democratic Party’s lead impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has invoked Russia a lot during the trial in the Senate. Democrats want to oust President Donald Trump because they believe he briefly suspended military aid to Ukraine while trying to pressure Kiev into investigating the dealings of his chief 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Sending weapons to Ukraine serves America’s “abiding interest in stemming Russian expansionism,” Schiff argued.

Cohen, however, said that shipping weapons to Kiev would effectively amount to the US turning its back on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky’s efforts to resolve the conflict with Russia through peaceful means. Instead, he thinks Washington should focus on encouraging the neighbors to negotiate. “If Zelensky had full American backing for his peace talks with Putin – that would help him a lot.” Speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff accused Moscow of trying to undermine the faith in democracy and government institutions around the globe. Cohen argued that the congressman misunderstands what Russian President Vladimir Putin actually “sees as his own historical mission,” and it is almost the opposite of what Schiff attributes to him.

According to the researcher, Putin’s chief ambition is “to rebuild Russia from the disaster into which it fell in the 1990s” after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “The last thing Putin wants is instability. He’s trying to build economy at home and economic relations with countries abroad because he sees that as a way to modernize Russia.” Speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff accused Moscow of trying to undermine the faith in democracy and government institutions around the globe. Cohen argued that the congressman misunderstands what Russian President Vladimir Putin actually “sees as his own historical mission,” and it is almost the opposite of what Schiff attributes to him.

According to the researcher, Putin’s chief ambition is “to rebuild Russia from the disaster into which it fell in the 1990s” after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last thing Putin wants is instability. He’s trying to build economy at home and economic relations with countries abroad because he sees that as a way to modernize Russia.

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Include the Automatic Earth in your 2020 charity list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 142020
 


G. G. Bain The new Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge over the East River, NYC 1909

 

The Coming Clash Between Bernie And Biden (Pol.)
Joe Biden’s Campaign Chairman Rallies Wall Street Donors (CNBC)
Sanders-Warren Fight Unnerves Progressives (Hill)
The Democrats Are Demanding Witnesses With One Notable Exception (Turley)
Sedition in Real Time (Kunstler)
The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’ (Graeber)
UN Draft Plan Sets 2030 Target To Avert Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction (G.)
EU To Unveil Financial Plan To Shift To Green Economy (R.)
US Drops China Currency Manipulator Label Ahead Of Trade Deal Signing (R.)
Australia’s Indigenous People’s Answer To Bushfires Is 50,000 Years Old (CNN)
Will Alleged CIA Misbehavior Set Julian Assange Free? (Goodale)
Assange Legal Team Close To Bringing Legal Action Against Belmarsh Prison (Sp.)

 

 

China trade deal. Dems Debate. Senate impeachment trial. Should be a fun week.

The Democrats are in self-destruct mode. Debate tonight, no more Mr. or Mrs. nice gal. Nobody can afford to be nice anymore. You’re my friend, but…

But as I said the other day: “Bernie is a socialist, Biden is a sleepy flip flop who blackmailed Ukraine, Warren is Pocahontas squared and a socialist, Buttigieg has a closet full of things he hasn’t yet outed, and nobody likes Bloomberg.”

 

The Coming Clash Between Bernie And Biden (Pol.)

Bernie Sanders’ first major tangle with Joe Biden — over a 2010 deal that Biden struck with Republicans that liberals believed threatened Social Security — helped fuel his national rise. Now Sanders is set to reprise that clash Tuesday night on the debate stage, where the Vermont senator is preparing to lay into Biden over his record on Social Security. For the past week, Sanders and his campaign have telegraphed his attack over the former vice president’s long-standing record entertaining cuts to the program that are anathema to progressives and many mainstream Democrats. Sanders’ speechwriter and senior adviser David Sirota said Tuesday will be time for Biden to answer hard questions about his past onstage.

“Joe Biden has repeatedly worked to cut Social Security, and has never offered up a good explanation for that crusade. His Social Security record is not only atrocious on a policy level, it is an enormous political vulnerability in both a primary and a general election,” Sirota said. “Bernie Sanders has exactly the opposite record — he’s fought those cuts and fought to expand Social Security, and that is a contrast Democratic voters deserve to know.” [..] Sanders, though, differs from [..] other candidates in one important way: He has a devoted base of loyal followers who show no signs of deserting him, many of whom want to see Sanders take the fight to a rival they view as the embodiment of the Democratic establishment by focusing on one of the party’s signature legacy programs, Social Security.

He has also already repeatedly criticized Biden for his votes for the Iraq War and free-trade deals on the debate stage without seemingly suffering. The Sanders team’s expected assault comes as he is at the top of the polls in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, but still significantly polling behind Biden among seniors. It’s not guaranteed he will execute the attack on Biden in a sustained way: After previous debates, some of his aides and supporters have been disappointed that he hasn’t confronted Biden more aggressively.

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I don’t think it’s time for America to go socialist, the economy has to get a lot worse for that. But a Democratic candidate who is exposed getting funded by billionaires may already be bridge too far.

Joe Biden’s Campaign Chairman Rallies Wall Street Donors (CNBC)

Joe Biden’s campaign chairman privately met with some of Wall Street’s top donors last week in an attempt to rally them around the former vice president’s push for the Democratic nomination. Steve Ricchetti, the campaign chairman and one of Biden’s closest advisors, gathered with about 90 financiers Wednesday at investment banking firm Evercore in New York, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. His pitch appeared to sway several of the big-money donors, as well, these people said. Attendees included Evercore founder Roger Altman, longtime investor Blair Effron, Blackstone Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gray, Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, Centerbridge Partners co-founder Mark Gallogly, and former U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, said the people, who declined to be named since the meeting was deemed private.


Ricchetti told the donors that he believes now is the time for them and their donor networks to get behind Biden as the first contests of the 2020 primary season are set to kick off in three weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. Polling averages show that Biden has maintained his spot as the national Democratic front-runner with six months to go until the Democratic convention. Yet he is in extremely tight races with Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary early in February.

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They tried anti-semite on Jewish Bernie Sanders, and if possible smearing him as sexist is even crazier. Bye Warren!

Sanders-Warren Fight Unnerves Progressives (Hill)

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appear to be at war after a long-standing detente, unnerving liberals who hoped to see a progressive win the party’s nomination and fear the clash could hurt both presidential candidates. Tensions between the Sanders and Warren camps were already rising, but they boiled over ahead of a pivotal Tuesday night debate in Des Moines, Iowa, after CNN reported that Sanders told Warren at a meeting in 2018 that a woman could not be elected president. Sanders vehemently denies the story, which came from four anonymous sources close to Warren. Warren, in a statement released late Monday, said Sanders did make the remark, but she also sought to cool tensions. “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed. I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry,” she said.


[..] The CNN report about Sanders’s alleged sexist remark was a dramatic escalation after a year of campaigning in which the candidates and their campaigns refused to go after one another. Sanders released a statement strongly denying that he had ever told Warren that a woman could not be elected president. The Vermont senator, who has at times singled out CNN and other mainstream outlets over their coverage of his campaign, called the report “ludicrous.” “It’s sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened,” he said. “What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.”

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Don’t forget, this is going to overlap the Democratic nomination race. The Dems can get Bolton perhaps, but that opens the door for the GOP to call Hunter and Joe Biden. And many others. Hillary, Obama?!

The Democrats Are Demanding Witnesses With One Notable Exception (Turley)

For those who have the votes, witnesses are an unnecessary risk. For those who don’t, they are an absolute necessity. On Friday, Schumer insisted that “there is only one precedent that matters here: that never, never in the history of our country, has there been an impeachment trial of the president where the Senate was denied the ability to hear from witnesses.” Put another way, Schumer does not have the votes and thus needs the witnesses. Schumer now wants to hear from the witnesses who never testified before the House, which rushed through an impeachment without seeking to compel testimony from key officials. One of those, former national security adviser John Bolton, said Monday he would testify before the Senate if subpoenaed.

In the Clinton impeachment trial 21 years ago, Schumer and the Democrats opposed hearing from witnesses. In that impeachment chapter, the Democrats had the votes. Lacking the votes this time, the unpredictability of witnesses now appeals to Schumer and his party. But only up to a point. Schumer has opposed the suggested Republican witnesses as a mere “distraction.” One witness in particular could prove not just a distraction but a disaster: Hunter Biden. In a conventional trial, Biden would be a relevant defense witness. Biden’s testimony would have bearing on a key question in an abuse-of-power trial. Trump insists that he raised the issue of Hunter Biden’s relationship with a Ukrainian energy firm to the Ukrainian president as part of an overall concern he had about ongoing corruption in that country.

If that contract with the son of a former vice president could be shown to be a corrupt scheme to advance the interests of a foreign company or country, it might be Trump’s best defense. Under Federal Rule of Evidence 401, courts will often review possible testimony under the standard of whether “it has a tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Even before the adoption of the Bill of Rights, Congress enacted a statute reaffirming the right of the “defense to make any proof that he can produce by lawful witnesses” in cases of treason and capitol cases.

[..] Trump’s position is that he did not arbitrarily ask a country to investigate a possible political rival. Had Trump called for an investigation into Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) husband, for example, without a scintilla of proof of corruption, it would be entirely indefensible. However, the Biden contract was so openly corrupt it would have made Jack Abramoff blush. Even in the United States, lobbyists and companies will often give family members undeserved lucrative jobs and contracts to curry favor with powerful politicians. Overseas, it is standard operating procedure.

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Jim does a lot of reading into the topic. He’s becoming an expert.

Sedition in Real Time (Kunstler)

It is a wonder of these incendiary times that even as impeachment of a president moves to its ripest phase, trial in the Senate, the acts of sedition that prompted it still go on behind the scenes with no intervention — an epic failure of authority, if there ever was one. And further irony, if ever there was a trial that cried for witnesses, the impeachment case being brought by Mrs. Pelosi is such a hash of fraud, incompetence, and chicanery, that it begs for summary dismissal — so that these seditious caitiffs will not have to answer to the nation. I speak of the “whistleblower” scheme cooked up by a network of officials who have actively plotted to overthrow the president for three years, as laid out at The Last Refuge website Sunday night:

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson in league with former colleagues from the Department of Justice National Security Division and the Lawfare org — a group dedicated to weaponizing law, in service to the political Left. As I have averred in this blog as far back as October, Mr. Atkinson’s previous job before being appointed ICIG was counsel (lawyer) to the Department of Justice’s Chief of National Security. During the first half of the election year 2016, that was John Carlin. Mr. Carlin’s job was not just to sign-off on FISA warrants, but to actually write them. It also happens that Mr. Carlin had previously served as chief of staff to Robert Mueller, when Mr. Mueller was FBI Director.

Mr. Carlin signed-off on a March 2016 warrant against Carter Page, under suspicion of being a Russian Spy, when in fact Carter Page was a CIA informant who had been operating in Russia for years to uncover Russian adventures against the USA. CIA Director John Brennan inserted Mr. Page into the Trump campaign to open up Mr. Trump’s campaign to FBI surveillance, since the CIA has no law enforcement powers. The FISA Court’s Two-hop Rule allows a second hop to anyone who communicated with the initial subject of a warrant, which might have achieved surveillance of everyone in the Trump campaign, including the candidate himself. It also would have allowed access to all communications going back for years. This part of the scheme was probably green-lighted by White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice for Mr. Brennan, with President Obama’s approval, for the purpose of helping Hillary Clinton win the election.

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David Graeber on Brexit. Excellent.

“Insofar as they dreamed of anything, now, it was of finding some British equivalent of Barack Obama, a leader who looked and acted so much like a visionary, who had so perfected the gestures and intonations, that it never occurred to anyone to ask what that vision actually was (since the vision was, precisely, not to have a vision).”

The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’ (Graeber)

Politics, in wealthy countries, is increasingly becoming a war between the generations. While the support for smaller parties in the UK (Liberal Democrats, Greens, the Scottish National Party, even Brexit) is constant across ages, the split between Labour and Conservative is almost entirely based on age cohort: The result, according to YouGov opinion polling data from 2018, is that if only Britons over the age of sixty-five were allowed to vote, the Labour Party would be all but wiped out, whereas if only Britons under twenty-five were allowed to vote, there would simply be no Tory MPs whatsoever. This is particularly striking when one takes into consideration that the left Labour policies the young so overwhelmingly voted for in the 2017 and 2019 elections were ones that had been treated, even a year or two before, as so radical as to fall off the political spectrum entirely.

Proclamations of the death of British socialism, then, seem decidedly premature. Meanwhile, the Tories’ core constituency is quite literally dying off. If conventional wisdom is correct, historically young people only begin to vote Conservative when they acquire a mortgage, or otherwise feel they have a secure position to defend within the system, which bodes ill indeed for the Tories’ future prospects. Why, then, such an apparently devastating victory? Why did middle-aged swing voters—particularly in the former Labour heartlands of the North—break right instead of left? The most obvious explanation is buyer’s remorse over the European Union. For many working-class Northerners in their sixties, the first vote they ever cast was in the Common Market referendum of 1975, in which a majority of Britons declared in favor of the European project.


Electoral maps of the UK based on projected results of opinion polling from 2018 if, respectively, only over sixty-five year-olds (left) or only eighteen-to-twenty-four year-olds (right) were allowed to vote

Most experienced the next forty or so years largely as a sequence of disasters. In 2016 they turned against the “Eurocrats,” then watched in dismay as the entire political class proceeded to engage in endless and increasingly absurd procedural ballet that appeared designed to reverse their decision. This explanation is true, but superficial. To understand why Brexit became such an issue in the first place, one must first ask why a populism of the right has so far proved more adept than the left at capitalizing on profound shifts in the nature of class relations that have affected not just the UK but almost all wealthy societies; second, one must understand the uniquely nihilistic, indeed self-destructive, role of centrism in the British political scene.

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Please fork over your $50 trillion.

UN Draft Plan Sets 2030 Target To Avert Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction (G.)

Almost a third of the world’s oceans and land should be protected by the end of the decade to stop and reverse biodiversity decline that risks the survival of humanity, according to a draft Paris-style UN agreement on nature. To combat what scientists have described as the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, the proposal sets a 2030 deadline for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and wildlife that perform crucial services for humans. The text, drafted by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, is expected to be adopted by governments in October at a crucial UN summit in the Chinese city of Kunming. It comes after countries largely failed to meet targets for the previous decade agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010.

As well as calling for a commitment to protect at least 30% of the planet, the 20-point draft plan, which has been likened to the 2015 Paris agreement on the climate crisis, aims to introduce controls on invasive species and reduce pollution from plastic waste and excess nutrients by 50%. The draft text has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, who have called on governments to treat the targets outlined in the accord as the minimum acceptable level for which to aim. The director of Campaign for Nature, Brian O’Donnell, said: “Today’s draft shows that countries are listening and that they recognise the increasingly important role that protecting land and water must play in confronting climate change, preventing wildlife extinctions, and supporting people and local communities. This is a very encouraging first step.

“Much work remains to be done in the coming months to ensure that the rights of indigenous people are advanced, and bold conservation and finance targets are included in the final agreement.” By 2030, the trade in wild species must be legal and sustainable, according to the draft document, which also aims to promote the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in decision-making about biodiversity.

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They claim only $1 trillion initially. Just so you don’t scare away.

EU To Unveil Financial Plan To Shift To Green Economy (R.)

The European Commission will propose on Tuesday how the EU can pay for shifting the region’s economy to zero CO2 emissions in 2050 while protecting areas and industries most dependent on coal from taking the brunt of changes aimed at preventing climate change. The commission, the European Union’s executive arm, is to unveil details of its Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to mobilize investment of 1 trillion euros over 10 years using public and private money to help finance its flagship project — the European Green Deal. All EU countries except Poland agreed last month they should transform their economies over the next 30 years to not emit more carbon dioxide than they absorb, so as to limit global warming and resulting climate changes.

The deal came amid overwhelming support from Europeans who see irreversible climate change as one of their biggest threats, more so than terrorism or unemployment. In the only dissent among the 28 European Union countries to the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal, Poland argued that its energy systems and economy were too dependent on coal and lignite to make the transition over that time. To secure Warsaw’s support, the commission is to unveil on Tuesday the details of how it can help it financially through a Just Transition Fund that would generate 100 billion euros over seven years to ease the transition of coal-dependent regions to a “green” economy.

The Just Transition Fund is to be a mix of money from the EU’s long-term budget, loans from the European Investment Bank and the InvestEU program, using the principle of leveraging limited public funds to attract private cash by covering the riskiest parts of an investment. The commission announcement on Tuesday will spell out eligibility criteria for the funds, which are widely expected to be tilted in favor of Europe’s most coal- or lignite-dependent regions like Silesia in Poland. As well as being a huge challenge, the commission sees a switch to an economic model not based on burning fossil fuels for energy as a great opportunity for European industry to shift to making environmentally clean, re-usable and repairable products based on renewable energy sources.

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Nothing changed.

US Drops China Currency Manipulator Label Ahead Of Trade Deal Signing (R.)

The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator days before top officials of the world’s two largest economies were due to sign a preliminary trade agreement to ease an 18-month-old tariff war. The widely expected decision came in a long-delayed semi-annual currency report, reversing an unexpected move by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last August at the height of U.S.-China trade tensions. Mnuchin had accused China of deliberately holding down the value of its yuan currency to create an unfair trade advantage, just hours after President Donald Trump, angered at the lack of progress in trade negotiations, had also accused China of manipulating its currency.


The Treasury Department had not labeled China a currency manipulator since 1994. Beijing had recently met just one of the department’s three criteria needed for such a designation – a large bilateral trade surplus with the United States. In its latest currency report, the Treasury said that as part of the Phase 1 trade deal, China had made “enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation” and agreed to publish relevant data on exchange rates and external balances. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrived in Washington on Monday for a White House ceremony to sign the trade deal with Trump. People familiar with the negotiations said that although the manipulator designation had no real consequences for Beijing, its removal was an important symbol of goodwill for Chinese officials.

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Can’t survive on hubris alone, white boy.

Australia’s Indigenous People’s Answer To Bushfires Is 50,000 Years Old (CNN)

The fires in Australia have been burning for months, consuming nearly 18 million acres of land, causing thousands to evacuate and killing potentially millions of animals. They’re showing minimal signs of slowing down. The Australian state of New South Wales, where both Sydney and Canberra are located, declared a state of emergency this week, as worsening weather conditions could lead to even greater fire danger. But a 50,000-year-old solution could exist: Aboriginal burning practices. Here’s how it works. Aboriginal people had a deep knowledge of the land, said historian Bill Gammage, an emeritus professor at Australian National University who studies Australian and Aboriginal history.

They can feel the grass and know if it would burn well; they knew what types of fires to burn for what types of land, how long to burn, and how frequently. “Skills like that, they have but we don’t know,” Gammage said. Aboriginal techniques are based in part on fire prevention: ridding the land of fuel, like debris, scrub, undergrowth and certain grasses. The fuel alights easily, which allows for more intense flames that are harder to fight. The Aboriginal people would set small-scale fires that weren’t too intense and clear the land of the extra debris. The smaller intensity fires would lessen the impact on the insects and animals occupying the land, too, as well as protect the trees and the canopy.

Setting smaller, low-intensity fires to prevent larger bushfires may sound like common sense. In practice, though, it’s really hard. It comes down to knowledge, Gammage said. When do you a start a fire? What time of the year? What time of day? How long you want it to burn? What plants are there? What’s the weather like — is there a drought like now? “You have to have a lot of local skill,” Gammage said. He cited an example. In Australia, fires that are too hot actually allows the flammable undergrowth to germinate more. When early Europeans tried to copy Aboriginal techniques by lighting fires, they made the fires too hot, and got even more of the flammable scrub. So, they tried again. And again. “Even though people can see the Aboriginese doing the fire control, and could see the benefits, they couldn’t copy it,” he said.

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James C. Goodale was the vice chairman and general counsel of The New York Times and is the author of “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and other battles.”

Will Alleged CIA Misbehavior Set Julian Assange Free? (Goodale)

[..] The Spanish newspaper El Pais broke the story that UC Global invaded Assange’s privacy at the Ecuadorian embassy and shared its surveillance with the CIA. It demonstrated step-by-step, document-by-document, UC Global’s actions and its contacts with the CIA. UC Global reportedly installed cameras throughout Assange’s space in the embassy — including his bathroom — and captured Assange’s every word and apparently livestreamed it, giving the CIA a free TV show of Assange’s daily life. After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorian embassy, including trips to the bathroom.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in their embassy for seven years, after he jumped bail in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegedly raping two Swedish women. (Those charges are now dismissed.) If you can believe it, Ecuador had hired UC Global to protect the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange. Not surprisingly, the CIA later made UC Global its spy to surveil Assange. When there was a change of administration in Ecuador, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn, and he was immediately arrested by British police at the request of U.S. officials. The United States subsequently indicted him for violating the Espionage Act, for publishing the very same information published roughly contemporaneously by The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. (Assange already was subject to a sealed indictment in the United States for computer hacking.)

The behavior of UC Global and the CIA seems indistinguishable from the government’s behavior in the Ellsberg case, which a federal judge found to have “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution” of the case. Accordingly, he concluded that the only remedy to ensure due process and the fair administration of justice was to dismiss Ellsberg’s case “with prejudice,” meaning that Ellsberg could not be retried. Can anything be more offensive to a “sense of justice” than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case? The alleged streaming unmasked the strategy of Assange’s lawyers, giving the government an advantage that is impossible to remove.

Short of dismissing Assange’s indictment with prejudice, the government will always have an advantage that can never be matched by the defense. The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but, rather, intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make. When Assange begins his extradition hearing, this will be part of his argument — that the CIA’s misbehavior violates his human rights by depriving him of his right to a fair trial.

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Why do I have to read about this onn Sputnik? Where is the western coverage?

Assange Legal Team Close To Bringing Legal Action Against Belmarsh Prison (Sp.)

Julian Assange’s legal team is on the verge of bringing a judicial review against prison authorities for denying their client proper access to his lawyers and his case files, Westminster Magistrate’s Court was told on 13 January 2020. Assange appeared in person for an administrative hearing for the first time in months and was greeted by supporters raising their clenched fists in solidarity, which he acknowledged with a nod and a small wave of the hand. At the hearing Judge Venessa Baraitser told Assange’s lawyers that the “longest period [Assange will have before being taken back to Belmarsh prison] is going to be an hour” due to the fact that there were already 47 people in the custody cells and eight in the consultation rooms.

Gareth Pierce, Assange’s lead solicitor, said that his legal team came to court with the expectation that they would discuss a “pretty substantial amount of evidence which only Mr Assange can sign off on” and which would take far more than an hour. “[Only having an hour] sets us back in our timetable enormously”, she explained. The court is expecting Assange’s lawyers to serve further key documents in the next couple of days but Pierce said that that would not be possible without proper time with their client. She told the court that if it was willing to contact Belmarsh prison on her client’s behalf then a meeting with his lawyers could be secured as early as 14 January. Judge Baraitser has consistently refused to intervene with prison authorities, claiming that she has no jurisdiction to do so, despite being presented with evidence of another judge doing precisely that.

“We have used every ability to press Belmarsh every way, and have [even] used government lawyers to note it is a breach of a defendant’s right to a defence… we are at the brink of judicial review”, Pierce told Judge Baraitser. [..] While Judge Baraitser remained unwilling to intervene with Belmarsh she did allow his hearing to be adjourned later in the day by another judge. In doing so she secured more time for Assange to consult with his lawyers before being returned to Belmarsh. Journalist and activist John Reese who attended the hearing suggested that Judge Baraitser was taking an increased interest in helping Assange secure more access to his lawyers

Read more …

 

 

 

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Dec 132019
 


John Vachon Auto of migrant fruit worker at gas station, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Jul 1940

 

A Very Difficult Night (Craig Murray)
Someone Interfered In The UK Election, And It Wasn’t Russia (CJ)
EU Executive Expects Mandate For Talks On Post-Brexit Trade Deal (R.)
The Japanization of the European Union (Jesús Huerta de Soto)
Fed Will Flood Market With Gargantuan $500 Billion To Avoid Repo Crisis (ZH)
Terms Of US-China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Will “Never Be Made Public” (ZH)
Tulsi Gabbard Takes No Prisoners In DNC Warfare (LN)
Boeing Scuttles Timeline For 737 MAX Return After CEO Meets With FAA (R.)
Qantas Selects Airbus Over Boeing For World’s Longest Flights (R.)

 

 

Most of my news feeds are focused on just one thing today: the UK elections. Not a particularly intersting issue in my view. But here goes:

Biggest winners: Not Boris Johnson, but Dominic Cummings and the Scots (including the SNP). Johnson has won nothing at all. On the other hand Cummings has again shown he can win elections, and the Scots will show they can too. Johnson will now be without Cummings, and then he is nowhere.

Biggest loser: Not Jeremy Corbyn, but Julian Assange. Had Corbyn won, Assange would be much closer to fair treatment and perhaps freedom. Those doors are closed now. Corbyn lost because Cummings used far advanced new media techniques, while Labour are still canvassing door to door like it’s 1960 or ’70. Yes, Corbyn also lost to smear, but that goes hand in hand with the media techniques. Labour has a lot of catching up to do.

 

Here’s Craig Murray from Scotland:

A Very Difficult Night (Craig Murray)

It is hard to doubt the basic accuracy of that exit poll now the Conservatives have taken the Blyth Valley. If the Conservatives sweep to power in England, then we have to move very early – and I mean within weeks – on Scottish Independence . I am extremely sorry for all my friends in England who have no such escape route from the Conservative Party. I am much more impacted by this result than I have ever been before, because it brings a still more right wing Conservative Party to untrammeled power, and because I genuinely feel the electorate which has swung are fueled by anti-immigrant racism.


I am not vehemently opposed to Brexit itself, funnily enough, but the ending of freedom of movement and single market access I view as crazed xenophobia. I am also unhappy with the campaign itself, which seemed to take media bias to new levels in ways I have documented, particularly from the BBC. We saw the same in 2014, and the entire experience has been a reminder of how difficult to fight any new independence referendum will be. If the SNP takes 50 seats in Scotland I shall be delighted. Scotland is of course a Remain area. I am for the next glass of Lagavulin clinging to the idea that Remain leaning areas in England may cause trouble for the Tories too.

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A bit very obvious by now, but it’s not about newspapers; they’re just extra.

Someone Interfered In The UK Election, And It Wasn’t Russia (CJ)

As of this writing British exit polls are indicating a landslide victory for the Tories. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy. This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description.

Journalist Matt Kennard recently compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with plutocratic media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security. Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media’s attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet antisemite. Just the other day The Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target Corbyn with a fact-free Russiagate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like The Telegraph as well as ostensibly “left”-wing outlets like The Guardian.

[..] The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn from the right, the far-right, and from within his own party had an effect. Of course it did. If you say this today on social media you’ll get a ton of comments telling you you’re wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election had any impact whatsoever upon its results. Right. Sure guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people’s minds using mass media have no effect on their decisions at all.

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The talks to deliver Brexit will take forever and may well be Johnson’s Waterloo. Nothing about this has changed overnight. And a hard Brexit was ruled out by the Benn bill. Any attempts at going around it will end up in court again.

EU Executive Expects Mandate For Talks On Post-Brexit Trade Deal (R.)

The European Commission expect European Union leaders on Friday to grant it a mandate for talks with Britain on a future trade agreement, the head of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference. Exit polls showed the Conservative Party of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson winning a clear majority in parliament, which European diplomats said meant there would be no more delays to Britain’s exit form the EU. “We are ready to negotiate whatever is necessary, and it will be important tomorrow to get the mandate for the steps from the council (of EU leaders),” von der Leyen said. “This will be the core of our debate tomorrow,” she said.

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Very long and detailed lecture by de Soto.

The Japanization of the European Union (Jesús Huerta de Soto)

Japan’s public debt is equal to 250 percent of its GDP. That is easy to say, but here in Europe we are criticizing Portugal and Italy, whose indebtedness is between 110 and 130 percent, and Greece, with a figure of 170 percent. That is, these countries are roughly half as indebted as Japan is at 250 percent of GDP. As for the annual deficit in the Japanese public accounts, it is not, for instance, the 3 percent established as a limit in the Eurozone nor even 4 or 5 percent. The annual deficit in the Japanese public accounts is 6 percent, while economic growth has nearly flatlined. In other words, it is a case of clear economic lethargy and very low inflation (which we will discuss later): interest rates around zero or even negative rates, inflation of 1 percent, and seemingly “full” employment (with a very high volume of hidden unemployment and ongoing losses in productivity and competitiveness).


To use a military term, Japan has already used up all its available interventionist ammunition, and not only has it not achieved anything, but the result has been counterproductive and disappointing. Everything that could be tried has been tried, and no palpable goal has been reached. And now the key question is: Why has nothing been achieved? And the answer is clear: because in all these decades, there have been no structural reforms to liberalize the economy, to liberalize the labor market, to introduce deregulation in the midst of suffocating interventionism at all levels, to lower taxes across the board, to reorganize and balance the public accounts, nor even to reduce public spending.

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Bankers screw up, Fed rescues. If we don’t cut that cycle, things can only get worse. As soon as some of this money would/could stabilize things somewhat, bankers would take more risk again.

Fed Will Flood Market With Gargantuan $500 Billion To Avoid Repo Crisis (ZH)

In previewing today’s Fed statement regarding repurchase operations, on Tuesday Curvature Securities repo expert Scott Skyrm said that he expects the Fed to announce a $50 billion (at least) term operation for Monday December 23 (double the current term ops) and a $50 billion (at least) term operation for Monday, December 30. This prediction was in response to Zoltan Pozsar’s warning that reserve levels are too low and the result would be a market crash that could spark QE4. Well, moments ago the NY Fed did publish it latest weekly “Statement Regarding Repurchase Operations” as expected laying out the Fed’s expected repo operations for the period December 13 – January 14… and it blew Skyrm’s expectations out of the water

According to the statement, the NY Fed will continue to offer two-week term repo operations twice per week, four of which span year end. In addition, the Desk will also offer another longer-maturity term repo operation that spans year end. The amount offered in this operation will be at least $50 billion, just as Skyrm expected. But there was more. Much more. In addition, to prevent a cascading year-end liquidity squeeze, Fed overnight repo operations will continue to be held each day, and just to be safe, the Fed will go to town by substantially expanding their size: On December 31, 2019 and January 2, 2020, the overnight repo offering will increase to at least $150 billion to cover the “turn” in a flood of overnight liquidity.

In addition, on December 30, 2019, the Desk will offer a $75 billion repo that settles on December 31, 2019 and matures on January 2, 2020. And just in case that’s not enough, the NY Fed’s markets desk also added that it “intends to adjust the timing and amounts of repo operations as needed to mitigate the risk of money market pressures that could adversely affect policy implementation, consistent with the directive from the FOMC.” What the Fed means is that in addition to expanding the sizes of its “turn” overnight repos to $150 billion, the Fed will conduct a total of nine term repos covering the year-end turn from Dec 16 to Jan 14, 8 of which will amount to $35BN and the first will be $50BN, for a total injection of a whopping $365 billion in the coming month.

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Well, we should see it in the tariffs announced?!

Terms Of US-China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Will “Never Be Made Public” (ZH)

There was much rejoicing and buying of stocks when Trump tweeted, to much fanfare and bombast early this morning, that he is “Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!.” Sure enough, just a few hours later, there was a deal. Or was there? Because whereas we now know that the US & China have agreed to a Phase One deal on Paper, and Trump signed off on it… nobody will ever know what’s in the actual deal, even once we pass it! Here’s what we do know: according to Fox Business correspondent Edwards Lawrence, China “verbally agreed to buy $50b in agriculture, but that will not be in writing.” In fact it appears that nothing will be.

Also, the deal supposedly includes intellectual property protections, something the US has been asking for as a core demand. Needless to say, a Chinese IP concession will most certainly not be in writing too. Other parts of the deal include “increased access to the financial services market. There is language where the Chinese agree not to manipulate their currency. There is enforcement written into the agreement. Dec 15th tariffs do not go forward.” Perhaps most important for traders is that this is the end of the overnight “trade deal optimism” rally: phase two of the trade deal will “begin after 2020 elections.” Which means a whole year without Trump tweets that a deal is very close and that China is dying to do it.

Yet for all of the above, here’s the most mindboggling part. Lawrence said that the Chinese have requested that the language of the trade deal will never be made public. That’s right – there is (supposedly) a “deal”, written on paper somewhere, specifying certain terms, and signed by certain US and Chinese presidents. And nobody will ever see what that deal actually states. Effectively, the Phase One trade deal “could” be nothing more than a market manipulating blank piece of paper, and since China has only pledged to do something – which nobody will know as it is not written – and since China has not committed contractually in the court of public opinion, it will have absolutely no incentive to abide by the Phase One “deal”

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Tulsi, too, needs to focus on “new” media. It’s where people get their news.

Tulsi Gabbard Takes No Prisoners In DNC Warfare (LN)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the outspoken, independent thinker from Hawaii running for the loftiest perch in the land, has just said “no” to taking the next Democratic presidential primary debate stage. This signals either a surrender or a strategic end-run around the field. Yes, we’ve been down this road before. It is the same sentiment she expressed prior to the last debate; although she threatened to boycott the circus, she did qualify, show up, and rebuke the other candidates and the Democratic Party. Gabbard has been Public Enemy #1 in those circles since. Instead of playing into the cemented narrative, Tulsi, who has not so far reached the conditions imposed for participation in the next round, is not wasting her time.

As the sixth platform for national domination looms, Gabbard tweeted a different plan, saying: “For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.” Whether her bold decision is based on not quite reaching the necessary baseline requirements, or because she has had enough of the game playing, Tulsi seems indifferent to striving for inclusion. And we all know Gabbard is not one to tread water in the shallow end of the pool when a good, strong crawl will cover more territory.

[..] The DNC was insistent that its criteria for inclusion have been fair and balanced. Just ask the committee’s spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, who responded: “This has been the most inclusive debate process with more women and candidates of color participating in more debates than billionaires. We are proud of this historic and diverse field with 20 candidates participating in the first two debates and at least 10 candidates in each debate after that.” What’s ironic is that no people of color – because of the strident stipulations imposed – will be at the Dec. 19 debate hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. PBS is set to broadcast the debate, and most likely, fewer people will watch the event than Gabbard can reach by holding town halls or meet and greets. Perhaps she’s on to something, after all.

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Both American and Southwest now target April.

Boeing Scuttles Timeline For 737 MAX Return After CEO Meets With FAA (R.)

Boeing on Thursday abandoned its goal of winning approval this month from the Federal Aviation Administration to unground the 737 MAX after Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg met with senior U.S. aviation officials. The announcement came after a congressional hearing on Wednesday in which numerous lawmakers prodded the FAA to take a tougher line with Boeing as it continues to review the plane that has been grounded since March [..] FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said on Wednesday he would not clear the plane to fly before 2020 and disclosed the agency has an ongoing investigation into 737 production issues in Renton, Washington. He added there are nearly a dozen milestones that must be completed before the MAX returns to service.

Approval is not likely until at least February and could be delayed until March, U.S. officials told Reuters. Muilenburg and Boeing’s commercial airplanes chief, Stan Deal, met with Dickson and “committed to addressing all of the FAA’s questions,” the company said, adding it will work to support the agency’s “requirements and their timeline as we work to safely return the Max to service in 2020.” Dickson told Muilenburg, according to an email sent to lawmakers by the FAA, that “Boeing’s focus should be on the quality and timeliness of data submittals for FAA review. He made clear that FAA’s certification requirements must be 100% complete before return to service.”

[..] Separately, American Airlines said on Thursday it was extending cancellations of 737 MAX flights through April 6. American, the largest U.S. airline, had previously canceled about 140 flights a day through March 4 and now expects to resume 737 MAX passenger flights on April 7. Gary Kelly, the CEO of Boeing’s largest 737 MAX customer, Southwest Airlines, said he was “concerned” about what Boeing decides to do with its production line. Southwest was supposed to have 75 MAX jets in service this year and, like other airlines, it has had to cancel routes and scale back growth plans as it operates a slimmer fleet. Kelly said it is “likely” the airline will again need to push back its restart date from March.

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Losses keep piling up.

Qantas Selects Airbus Over Boeing For World’s Longest Flights (R.)

Australia’s Qantas Airways picked Airbus over Boeing as the preferred supplier for jets capable of the world’s longest commercial flights from Sydney to London, dealing the U.S. planemaker its latest setback this year. The choice of up to 12 A350-1000 planes fitted with an extra fuel tank for flights of up to 21 hours cements Airbus as the leader in ultra-long haul flying globally at a time when Boeing is battling delays on its rival 777X program and a broader corporate crisis following two deadly 737 MAX crashes. The Qantas flights would begin in the first half of 2023, but remain subject to the airline reaching a pay deal with pilots, who would need to extend their duty times to around 23 hours to account for potential delays and switch between flying the A350 and the airline’s current A330 fleet.


A final decision on an order is expected in March, the airline said on Friday. Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the airline “had a lot of confidence” in the market for non-stop services from Sydney to London and to New York based on two years of flying non-stop from Perth to London, where it has achieved a 30% fare premium over one-stop rivals in premium classes. “The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience,” he said.

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Dec 092019
 
 December 9, 2019  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Lewis Wickes Hine News of the Titanic and possible survivors 1912

 

US Banks’ Reluctance To Lend Cash May Have Caused Repo Shock: BIS (R.)
BIS Offers Stunning Explanation Of What Happened On Repocalypse Day (ZH)
The Incredible Shrinking Private Sector (G.)
Northern Ireland Customs Protocol Could Thwart Brexit Plans (G.)
Boris Johnson’s Promise Of Brexit By End Of 2020 Torpedoed By EU Chief (Mi.)
The Invisible Tories (Craig Murray)
China Tells Government Offices To Remove All Foreign Computer Equipment (G.)
NATO Seeks To “Dominate The World”, Eliminate Competitors: Lavrov (ZH)
Russian Air Defense System Shot Down US Drone Over Libyan Capital (R.)

 

 

From what I understand, big banks moved from cash to Treasuries, which decreased the amount of cash available for lending. Hedge funds also play a role. Have they become market makers?

US Banks’ Reluctance To Lend Cash May Have Caused Repo Shock: BIS (R.)

The unwillingness of the top four U.S. banks to lend cash combined with a burst of demand from hedge funds for secured funding could explain a recent spike in U.S. money market rates, the Bank for International Settlements said. Cash available to banks for short-term funding all but dried up in late September, and interest rates deep in the plumbing of U.S. financial markets climbed into double digits. That forced the Fed to make an emergency injection of billions of dollars for the first time since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

While the exact cause of the squeeze is unclear – with explanations ranging from large withdrawals for quarterly tax payments to a big settlement of a trade in U.S. Treasuries – BIS analysts said the growing reliance on the biggest U.S. banks to keep the repo market functioning may have been a big factor. The big four banks, which BIS did not name in its report, have become net providers of funds to repo markets as they account for more than half of all Treasuries held by banks in the United States at the Federal Reserve.

The repo market underpins much of the U.S. financial system, helping ensure banks have liquidity to meet their daily operational needs. In a repo trade, Wall Street firms and banks offer U.S. Treasuries and other high-quality securities as collateral to raise cash, often just overnight, to finance their trading and lending. The next day, borrowers repay the loans plus what is typically a nominal rate of interest and get their bonds back. In other words they repurchase, or repo, the bonds.

Read more …

Did the big banks know the Fed would move in? Were there conversations between JPM and the Fed prior to the move into Treasuries??

BIS Offers Stunning Explanation Of What Happened On Repocalypse Day (ZH)

About a month ago, we first laid out how the sequence of liquidity-shrinking events that started about a year ago, and which starred the largest US commercial bank, JPMorgan, ultimately culminated with the mid-September repo explosion. Specifically we showed how JPM’s drain of liquidity via Money Markets and reserves parked at the Fed may have prompted the September repo crisis and subsequent launch of “Not QE” by the Fed in order to reduce its at risk capital and potentially lower its G-SIB charge – currently the highest of all major US banks.

Shortly thereafter, the FT was kind enough to provide confirmation that the biggest US bank had been quietly rotating out of cash, while repositioning its balance sheet in a major way, pushing more than $130bn of excess cash away from reserves in the process significantly tightening overall liquidity in the interbank market. We learned that the bulk of this money was allocated to long-dated bonds while cutting the amount of loans it holds, in what the FT dubbed was a “major shift in how the largest US bank by assets manages its enormous balance sheet.”

The moves saw the bank’s bond portfolio soar by 50%, and were prompted by capital rules that treated loans as riskier than bonds. And since JPM has been aggressively returning billions of dollars to shareholders in dividends and share buybacks each year, JPMorgan had far less room than most rivals to hold riskier assets, explaining its substantially higher G-SIB surcharge, which indicated that the Fed currently perceives JPM as the riskiest US bank for a variety of reasons. An executive at a large institutional investor told the FT that what JPM did “is incredible”, adding that “the scale of what JPMorgan is doing is mind-boggling . . . migrating out of cash into securities while loans are flat.”

The dramatic change, which occurred gradually over the year, and which may have catalyzed the spike in repo rates in September, was first flagged by JPMorgan at an investor event back in February. Then CFO Marianne Lake said that, after years of industry-leading loan growth, “we have to recognize the reality of the capital regime that we live in”. About half a year later, the rest of the world did too when the overnight general collateral rate briefly did something nobody had ever expected it to do, when it exploded from 2% to about 10% in minutes, an absolutely unprecedented move, and certainly one that was seen as impossible in a world with an ocean of roughly $1.3 trillion in reserves floating around.

[..] in a novel twist, the BIS also found that hedge funds exacerbated the turmoil in the repo market with their thirst for borrowing cash to juice up returns on their trades. Here is what the BIS said: “US repo markets currently rely heavily on four banks as marginal lenders. As the composition of their liquid assets became more skewed towards US Treasuries, their ability to supply funding at short notice in repo markets was diminished. At the same time, increased demand for funding from leveraged financial institutions (eg hedge funds) via Treasury repos appears to have compounded the strains of the temporary factors.”

Read more …

Britain.

The Incredible Shrinking Private Sector (G.)

The latest GDP figures released on Wednesday suggest on the surface the overall economy is doing better, but further inspection highlights the underlying weakness. The domestic private sector is in a dire state, having now shrunk for four consecutive quarters – the worst result since the 1990s recession – and the economy is now more dependent on government spending to keep it afloat than at any time since the GFC . First the good news – things are better than we previously thought. The GDP figures contained some fairly significant revisions of past data, based on more accurate underlying data. Whereas in June it appeared the economy grew by just 1.5% – the worst since 2001 – now the ABS estimates in June the economy was growing at an annual rate of 1.7% and is now growing at 1.8% in trend terms:

This is good, and yet it is pretty sad really how low the bar has become to think economic growth can be called “good”. The current growth rate of 1.8% is around 1% point below the long-term trend and well below the old marker of 3% growth that used to be considered average. In the September quarter the economy grew by 0.4% (seasonally adjusted), or 0.5% (trend), still below average, but what is important is where this growth is being generated. The biggest driver was net exports – contributing 0.35% pts of that growth.

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They don’t appear to have all the details figured out.

Northern Ireland Customs Protocol Could Thwart Brexit Plans (G.)

Northern Ireland customs arrangements may thwart Boris Johnson’s plan to leave the EU by December 2020, according to a document said to be leaked from civil servants in the Department for Exiting the EU. In the document, seen by the Financial Times, staff raised concerns about the readiness of the new customs arrangement, calling the protocol to keep part of the EU customs code in Northern Ireland, a “major” obstacle to Brexit delivery. The FT reported that the document was sent to senior Whitehall officials last week and said that implementing the Northern Ireland protocol before next December was a “strategic, political and operational challenge”.

The protocol would implement a form of customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK – an alternative arrangement to the Northern Irish “backstop” in the withdrawal agreement. Civil servants reportedly highlighted the “legal and political” repercussions both within the UK and Europe of failing to deliver Brexit on time, which Boris Johnson has made it the focal issue of his election campaign. Doubt was also cast on the free-trade agreement that Johnson has pledged to establish with the EU next year, with the document, marked “official sensitive”, reportedly stating that “delivery on the ground would need to commence before we know the outcome of negotiations”.

The government said it did not comment on leaks, but insisted that its deal with the EU would comprehensively withdraw the whole of the UK – including Northern Ireland. It reiterated its commitment to complete the process before December 2020.

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“The EU/UK future relationship cannot be settled in 11 months.”

Boris Johnson’s Promise Of Brexit By End Of 2020 Torpedoed By EU Chief (Mi.)

Michel Barnier has torpedoed Boris Johnson’s promise that Brexit will be done and dusted by the end of next year. The Sunday Mirror has seen minutes of a private meeting between the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator and MEPs which rubbish the PM’s pledge. Mr Johnson has said he will not extend the transition period beyond 2020 – which raises the danger of the UK crashing out with no deal. Trade talks are planned after Britain formally leaves the EU on January 31. But Mr Barnier told EU Employment and Social Affairs Committee MEPs: “The EU/UK future relationship cannot be settled in 11 months.” He added that means prioritising some areas while more time will be needed for other issues such as transport.

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Dominic Cummings focuses on social media, not canvassing.

The Invisible Tories (Craig Murray)

I live in a marginal constituency, where the excellent Joanna Cherry of the SNP has a lead of just over 1,000 over the Tories. If the most recent opinion polls are correct, the parties’ standings at this moment are similar to the result last time, the momentum is with the Tories and this should be a key Tory target. Yet I have not received one single Tory leaflet (and I live on one of the main residential streets) nor have I seen one single Tory campaigner, including when I have been out delivering leaflets for Joanna Cherry myself. Nor have I seen one single Tory poster in a house.

It is not just on TV that the Tories have been skipping interviews and debates, they seem to have eschewed any semblance of a ground campaign too, in what presumably is a key target seat for them. Boris Johnson is not popular with any of the local residents I have spoken to, and there is no enthusiasm at all for Brexit in this part of Edinburgh. In short, I am absolutely unable to square the opinion polls with the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

What is your experience?

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Sounds like quite the undertaking.

China Tells Government Offices To Remove All Foreign Computer Equipment (G.)

China has ordered that all foreign computer equipment and software be removed from government offices and public institutions within three years, the Financial Times reports. The government directive is likely to be a blow to US multinational companies like HP, Dell and Microsoft and mirrors attempts by Washington to limit the use of Chinese technology, as the trade war between the countries turns into a tech cold war. The Trump administration banned US companies from doing business with Chinese Chinese telecommunications company Huawei earlier this year and in May, Google, Intel and Qualcomm announced they would freeze cooperation with Huawei.


By excluding China from western know-how, the Trump administration has made it clear that the real battle is about which of the two economic superpowers has the technological edge for the next two decades. This is the first known public directive from Beijing setting specific targets limiting China’s use of foreign technology, though it is part a wider move within China to increase its reliance on domestic technology.

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“We have an answer to all the threats that the Alliance is multiplying in this world.”

NATO Seeks To “Dominate The World”, Eliminate Competitors: Lavrov (ZH)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has charged NATO with wanting to “dominate the world” a day after 70th anniversary events of the alliance concluded in London. “We absolutely understand that NATO wants to dominate the world and wants to eliminate any competitors, including resorting to an information war, trying to unbalance us and China,” Lavrov said from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, while attending the 26th Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He seized upon NATO leaders’ comments this week, specifically Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, naming China as a new enemy alongside Russia. Stoltenberg declared at the summit that NATO has to “tackle the issue” of China’s growing capabilities.

Lavrov told reporters Thursday: “I think that it is difficult to unbalance us and China. We are well aware of what is happening. We have an answer to all the threats that the Alliance is multiplying in this world.” He also said the West is seeking to dominate the Middle East under the guise of NATO as well. The new accusation of ‘world domination’ comes at a crisis moment of growing and deep divisions over the future of the Cold War era military alliance, including back-and-forth comments on Macron’s “brain death” remarks, and looming questions over Turkey’s fitness to remain in NATO, and the ongoing debate over cost sharing burdens and the scope of the mission.

“Naturally, we cannot but feel worried over what has been happening within NATO,” Lavrov stated. “The problem is NATO positions itself as a source of legitimacy and is adamant to persuade one and all it has no alternatives in this capacity, that only NATO is in the position to assign blame for everything that may be happening around us and what the West dislikes for some reason.”

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Who operated each contraption?

Russian Air Defense System Shot Down US Drone Over Libyan Capital (R.)

The U.S. military believes that an unarmed American drone reported lost near Libya’s capital last month was in fact shot down by Russian air defenses and it is demanding the return of the aircraft’s wreckage, U.S. Africa Command says. Such a shootdown would underscore Moscow’s increasingly muscular role in the energy-rich nation, where Russian mercenaries are reportedly intervening on behalf of east Libya-based commander Khalifa Haftar in Libya’s civil war. Haftar has sought to take the capital Tripoli, now held by Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, who leads Africa command, said he believed the operators of the air defenses at the time “didn’t know it was a U.S. remotely piloted aircraft when they fired on it.”


“But they certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it. They say they don’t know where it is but I am not buying it,” Townsend told Reuters in a statement, without elaborating The U.S. assessment, which has not been previously disclosed, concludes that either Russian private military contractors or Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army were operating the air defenses at the time the drone was reported lost on Nov. 21, said Africa Command spokesman Air Force Colonel Christopher Karns. Karns said the United States believed the air defense operators fired on the U.S. aircraft after “mistaking it for an opposition” drone. An official in Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) told Reuters that Russian mercenaries appeared to be responsible.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Nov 212019
 
 November 21, 2019  Posted by at 9:52 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Missouri drought refugees. Broke, baby sick, car trouble.’ U.S. 99 near Tracy, California 1937

 

Ukraine Expands Probe Into Head Of Firm That Employed Hunter Biden (RT)
Ukrainian MP Claims $7.4 Billion Obama-Linked Laundering (ZH)
Story About Migrant Children Scrubbed As UN Said It Happened Under Obama (RT)
China Says Will Strive To Reach ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal With US (R.)
Do Not Despair of This Election (Craig Murray)
‘Downward Mobility’ A Reality For Many British Youngsters Today (G.)
A Deadly Game of Chicken in Iraq and Lebanon (Cambanis)
Why Won’t Carrie Lam Allow An Independent Inquiry? (SCMP)
Jeffrey Epstein Guests Were Secretly Filmed In Every Bedroom And Toilet (Sun)
China’s Appetite For Coal Power Returns Despite Climate Pledge (G.)

 

 

Fire the prosecutor!

Ukraine Expands Probe Into Head Of Firm That Employed Hunter Biden (RT)

Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, is mentioned in several probes relating to Burisma’s founder, the Ukrainian prosecutor has said, as leaked documents allege that he was part of a money-laundering scheme. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka said that a long-running probe into Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma natural gas company, has been expanded to include allegations of large-scale embezzlement of government funds. Hunter Biden sat on the firm’s board of directors. The on-and-off investigation into alleged shady dealings at Burisma was galvanized in August, when Ryaboshapka ordered a review of criminal cases involving the company.

Since the start of an ongoing impeachment inquiry into whether US President Donald Trump offered his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky a ‘quid pro quo’ of military aid in return for reopening an investigation into Biden, the case has become a critical part of US political discourse. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ryaboshapka said that he did not have any contact with US officials, and was in no way “asked” or “pressured” into going after the Biden family. The prosecutor said that there was no “Burisma case” per se, but noted that investigators have been handling 13 cases related to Zlochevsky. When asked if any of those pertained to Burisma’s legal woes, Ryaboshapka spilled some beans, revealing that the company’s name, as well as that of the younger Biden, have popped up in “several” of those cases.

While the prosecutor has yet to provide any additional details as to why Biden’s name was included in the papers, in a separate press conference two Ukrainian MPs claimed they had obtained documents which detail prosecutors’ suspicions that the son of the US presidential hopeful and other “consultants” were paid opulent salaries with money “obtained through criminal means,” which was then laundered with the help of Zlochevsky. [..] The case against Zlochevsky, who was also Ukraine’s minister for ecology and natural resources from July 2010 until April 2012, has now stalled, with authorities unable to locate him. Ryaboshapka confirmed on Wednesday that the ex-minister has been put on a wanted persons list.

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Where and when corruption rules. But don’t investigate, you’d be meddling in the US election. Can’t have that.

Ukrainian MP Claims $7.4 Billion Obama-Linked Laundering (ZH)

A Ukrainian MP says a document leaked from the Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General contains claims against Burisma owner Nikolai Zlochevsky, as well as Hunter Biden and his partners – who allegedly received $16.5 million for their ‘services’ – according to Alexander Dubinsky of the ruling Servant of the People Party. Dubinsky made the claim in a Wednesday press conference, citing materials from an investigation into Zlochevsky and Burisma. “Zlochevsky was charged with this new accusation by the Office of the Prosecutor General but the press ignored it,” said the MP. “It was issued on November 14.”

“The son of Vice-President Joe Biden was receiving payment for his services, with money raised through criminal means and money laundering,” he then said, adding “Biden received money that did not come from the company’s successful operation but rather from money stolen from citizens.” According to Dubinsky, Hunter Biden’s income from Burisma is a “link that reveals how money is siphoned [from Ukraine],” and how Biden is just one link in the chain of Zlochevsky’s money laundering operation which included politicians from the previous Yanukovich administration who continued their schemes under his successor, President Pyotr Poroshenko.

“We will reveal the information about the financial pyramid scheme that was created in Ukraine and developed by everyone beginning with Yanukovich and later by Poroshenko. This system is still working under the guidance of the current managerial board of the National Bank, ensuring that money flows in the interest of people who stole millions of dollars, took it offshore and bought Ukrainian public bonds turning them into the Ukrainian sovereign debt,” said Dubinsky, adding that “in both cases of Yanukovich and Poroshenko, Ms. Gontareva and companies she controls were investing the stolen funds.”

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This is how we roll.

What the Trump impeachment inquiry really shows is that elites on both ‘sides’ – Republican and Democrat, the Giulianis and Bidens of this world – are elbow-deep in money-laundering the plunder of the planet’s last resources. There are *no* good guys here – Jonathan Cook

Story About Migrant Children Scrubbed As UN Said It Happened Under Obama (RT)

Several news agencies have opted to delete a story stating that 100,000 migrant children were detained in US border facilities after the United Nations clarified that the number is years old, predating the age of Trump. After media outlets published stories trumpeting the 100,000 figure earlier this week, based on the word of UN refugee specialist Manfred Nowak, the expert was forced to correct his initial statement on Tuesday. As it turns out, the figure Nowak cited to reporters dates back to 2015, meaning the dramatic number of detentions he revealed occurred under the watch of President Barack Obama, rather than Donald Trump, who is often assailed by progressive critics over his border policies.


Instead of issuing corrections, however, Nowak’s clarification prompted several outlets to withdraw their stories altogether, including Reuters and AFP, who both said no replacement story would be forthcoming. Once responsibility for the vast number of detentions was passed from Trump to Obama, however, Nowak decided to clarify further that the 100,000 figure referred to the cumulative number of migrant children detained at any point in 2015, rather than all at one time, another caveat he apparently forgot to explain to reporters previously. Despite frequent and vocal criticisms of President Trump’s border policies, his predecessor’s approach to immigration was not entirely different, even earning Obama the moniker of “Deporter in Chief.” During his first term, President Obama deported some 400,000 migrants each year, setting a record for himself in 2012 at over 409,000. President Trump, meanwhile, has deported fewer than 300,000 each year since taking office in 2017.

Read more …

I have the impression they make these statements every now and then just to make markets go up, not because they’re real.

China Says Will Strive To Reach ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal With US (R.)

China will strive to reach an initial trade agreement with the United States as both sides keep communication channels open, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday, in an attempt to allay fears talks might be unraveling. China is willing to work with the United States to resolve each other’s core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and will try hard to reach a “phase one” deal, Gao Feng, spokesman at the ministry, told reporters. “This is in line with the interests of both China and the United States, and of the world,” Gao said. Economists warn that the prolonged trade dispute between China and the United States is escalating risks to the global economy by disrupting supply chains, discouraging investment and dampening business confidence.


Completion of a phase one deal could slide into next year, trade experts and people close to the White House told Reuters previously, as Beijing presses for more extensive tariff rollbacks and the U.S. administration counters with heightened demands of its own. Officials from Beijing had suggested that Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump might sign a deal in early December. Some experts said the next date to watch was Dec. 15, when U.S. tariffs on about $156 billion in Chinese goods are set to take effect, including holiday gift items such as electronics and Christmas decorations.

Read more …

I’m tired of the Brexit issue, but I like Craig Murray, so here.

Do Not Despair of This Election (Craig Murray)

I have had moments in the last few days which led me to feel pretty hopeless. Perhaps the worst was in the ITV debate when Corbyn was roundly jeered by a substantial section of the audience for stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries. That encapsulated for me the current far right political climate in England, dominated by boorish, selfish stupidity. I do not come from a left wing political background and I have never subscribed to the romanticisation of “the people”. Years living in the UKIP heartland of Ramsgate made me realise that “the people” en masse can be very unpleasant and racist indeed. I have always for that reason eschewed direct democracy and subscribed to a very Burkean view.

That however falls down when, as now, you have a political class who are becoming even more base and vicious than the most unpleasant mob. But the growl of that studio audience, infuriated that Corbyn cared about the foreign poor, is a warning klaxon of the state of English society. A close second despair-inducing moment was Jo Swinson’s interview following the debate when, asked if she would press the nuclear button, she replied without a millisecond of hesitation: “yes”. As I reported last week, when asked at the Lib Dem campaign launch why she would not put Corbyn into Downing St in any circumstances, she had instantly replied that he would not be prepared to instruct submarine commanders to fire nuclear weapons. sThe woman is deranged.

I come from a Liberal tradition. Probably the two books which most influence my thinking are On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and Imperialism, A Study by J A Hobson. The line of British liberal thinking that comes down through writers including Hazlitt, Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Mill, Hobson, Russell and Keynes is a tradition which looks set to disappear from British political thought. That makes me horribly sad. One thing I am sure of is that Swinson has read none of them. That the Lib Dems had moved economically so far to the right was already worrying me. Their completely illiberal opposition to Scottish Independence upset me still further. But that the party to which I belonged for 30 years and which was once led by my friend, the gentle and wise Charlie Kennedy, could now be led by an arm whirling, narcissistic, female version of Dr Strangelove, is beyond my wildest nightmares.

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And these are still the good times.

‘Downward Mobility’ A Reality For Many British Youngsters Today (G.)

Downward mobility – the phenomenon of children doing less well than their parents – will become a reality for young people today unless society makes dramatic changes, according to two of the UK’s leading experts on social policy. The UK is among the worst of the developed countries for social mobility. It appears increasingly unlikely that people will be able to escape economic disadvantages linked to their background. However, in a paper published by the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), Lee Elliot Major and Stephen Machin warn that even the “dream of just doing better, let alone climbing the social ladder, is disappearing”.


Elliot Major is chief executive of the Sutton Trust, a UK foundation improving social mobility, and an adviser to the Office for Fair Access, while Machin is a professor of economics at the LSE and director of the CEP. Downward mobility is already in evidence in home ownership, according to research the pair have done for their book, What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Social Mobility?, which is due to be published in 2020. The pair found that people aged 42 in 2012, with parents who did not own their own homes, were 15% less likely to own a home than those who were 42 in 2000. “Thus the generational divide in the housing market has worsened significantly as intergenerational home ownership mobility fell,” Elliot Major said.

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I like this story, but I don’t see why the author limits himself to those two countries.

A Deadly Game of Chicken in Iraq and Lebanon (Cambanis)

The popular revolts in Iraq and Lebanon may be against different governments, but they represent a linked challenge to despotism and regime violence in the Arab world. And both share a central element: They are quintessential showdowns. Because the regimes refuse to consider incremental reform, the only way forward is to win. Defeat, for either side, will be absolute. Gradual reform might be the best theoretical outcome for these troubled states, but, alas, it isn’t on offer. To that end, demonstrators have put their lives on the line for months on end to demand change. It’s a risky move. They’re making it impossible for the ruling clique to continue its extractive rule, leaving it with only two choices: destroy the demonstrations, or change their ways.

But the demonstrators are using the only method available, short of resorting to an armed rebellion or a coup, to resist predatory regimes that foreclose any reasonable attempt at incremental or democratic reform. In both cases, the popular movements have internalized some of the lessons of the Arab revolts that came before: Issue concrete demands, pay attention to the national political narrative, try to persuade the wider public, and innovate tactics in order to maintain momentum. (Unfortunately, they’re less clear on the benefits of naming leaders and contesting hard-power institutions.) Regimes have studied the other revolts too, and as a result have opted to use force from the get-go—in Iraq’s case, lethal force. If the protests subside or fracture, the ruling authorities will use all the tools at their disposal to destroy them.

The zero-sum nature of the revolts stems from the recalcitrance of the regimes. They are unable to reform even slightly, because their entire system is built around extraction, rather than governance. Traditionally, even a corrupt regime benefits from economic growth—there’s more to steal. But the regimes in Iraq and Lebanon have opted to rely on mainline extortion and Ponzi schemes. Even disruption and collapse that harm the population can benefit the rulers. The governors no longer share common interests with the governed. That disconnect fuels the popular desire for a radical overhaul of the system.

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Carrie Lam has nothing to say. Beijing rubbishing the High Court ruling on face masks made that clear – again.

Why Won’t Carrie Lam Allow An Independent Inquiry? (SCMP)

In the street a few days ago, a young woman approached me with a simple question, “Mrs Chan, what can be done?” How I wish I had an answer or, rather, how I wish I had an answer that our Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her team of advisers would act on. The Hong Kong government is effectively dead in the water, unable to either do what must be done to defuse the crisis, or convince its masters in Beijing that clamping down harder on the protests is not a solution. After more than five months of increasingly violent unrest, there is not one scintilla of evidence to support this strategy. On the contrary, it is clear that anger at and, in some cases, downright hatred of the police has been the trigger for protesters’ more extreme reactions.


There is much talk of the need for dialogue. But just as you need two to tango, dialogue requires the participation of two parties at least willing in principle to work to find some common ground on which to build reconciliation, something that is currently sorely lacking. The shocking escalation in violence that we have witnessed over the past two weeks underlines the urgency for both sides to step back from the brink, before further deaths and serious injuries occur. The wanton destruction of our campuses, railway stations and shopping malls, the blocking of key motorways and attacks on ordinary citizens simply trying to get to work are not just unacceptable, they are becoming counterproductive.

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That was not obvious yet?

Jeffrey Epstein Guests Were Secretly Filmed In Every Bedroom And Toilet (Sun)

Jeffrey Epstein’s guests were secretly filmed in every bedroom and toilet of his New York City home, one of his accusers has claimed. Maria Farmer alleges she was abused by the disgraced paedo when she was a 26-year-old aspiring model in 1996. The now 49-year-old told CBS This Morning how Epstein’s’ home was under constant TV surveillance. She told co-host Anthony Mason how Epstein showed her the ‘media room’. Maria said: “The main thing he did when I walked in and thought was interesting, he showed me where the men monitoring everything were. “So if you’re facing the house, there’s a window on the right that’s barred – that’s the room, the ‘media room’ is what he called it.

“And so there was a door that looked like an invisible door with all this limestone and everything and you push it and you go in and I saw all the cameras. She then points to how she remembers the televisions were stack on top of each other. Maria said: “What it was – was like old televisions basically, like stacked.” “They were monitors inside this cabinet and there were men sitting here and I looked on the cameras and I saw toilet, toilet, bed, bed, toilet, bed. “And I was like I’m never going to use the restroom here and I am never going to sleep here.” In the same interview, Maria labelled Prince Andrew “revolting and disgusting” over his BBC Newsnight interview.

After watching the Duke of York’s interview about his links with his paedo pal Epstein, Maria said of the prince: “He is revolting and disgusting. Shame on you! “I would like to know why is his memory so poor? Does he really believe that we can think that at his age he forgets these things?”

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All China’s ever done is to pay lip service to the issue. Most of those new coal plants have been in the planning for a long time.

China’s Appetite For Coal Power Returns Despite Climate Pledge (G.)

China’s growing appetite for new coal-fired power stations has outstripped plant closures in the rest of the world since the start of last year, data shows. Elsewhere countries reduced their capacity by 8GW in the 18 months to June because old plants were retired faster than new ones were built. But over the same period China increased its capacity by 42.9GW despite a global move towards cleaner energy sources and a pledge to limit the use of coal. Christine Shearer, an analyst at the NGO Global Energy Monitor, said: “China’s proposed coal expansion is so far out of alignment with the Paris agreement that it would put the necessary reductions in coal power out of reach, even if every other country were to completely eliminate its coal fleet.”

More than 30 countries plan to phase out coal-fired power to help reduce carbon emissions and keep global temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels. The UK has just five coal-fired power stations, with one in south Wales scheduled to close next year and two more to be converted to gas within the next two years. Global Energy Monitor said the gulf between China and other countries was on track to widen as Beijing pursued plans to build more new plants than the rest of the world combined. China is also helping to finance a quarter of all the new coal projects in the rest of the world, including in South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

China’s coal investments, including domestic projects, mean it is backing more than half of all global coal power capacity under development. The country has a pipeline of 147GW of coal plants that are either under construction or suspension but are likely to be revived, the report says. This is more than all existing coal plants in the EU combined and almost 50% higher than the 105GW of capacity planned in the rest of the world.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

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Nov 182019
 
 November 18, 2019  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  28 Responses »


Salvador Dali Cubist self portrait 1926

 

Leaked Report Concludes Russia May Have Influenced Brexit Vote (AP)
Hong Kong Police Storm Into University After Violent Standoff (ZH)
Another Chapter in the Democrats’ 2020 Clown Car Disaster (Taibbi)
Morrison Told Schiff Panel: Nothing Improper During Trump-Zelensky Call (ZH)
In Trump-Nixon Impeachment Comparison, Pelosi Raises Specter Of Resignation (R.)
Pelosi: Trump’s Conduct Is ‘So Much Worse’ Than Nixon’s (NBC)
About Trump (Sylvain Laforest )
Fed Fears Next Crash Fatal – John Rubino (USAW)
China Quietly Bails Out Another Bank (ZH)
Airbus Exec: Boeing’s 737 MAX Grounding Benefits No One (CNBC)
Pictures of Prince Andrew Partying and Sweating (DM)
Against Economics (David Graeber)

 

 

Britain’s RussiaRussia craze continues. This concerns a bunch of Russian oligarchs with British citizenship who have donated to the Tories, and they are conveniently labeled “Russia”. For all we know they may be sworn enemies of Putin. And even if they’re not, they’re also not “Russia”. When the Brits show us Skripal, we can talk.

Leaked Report Concludes Russia May Have Influenced Brexit Vote (AP)

Questions about the British government’s failure to release a report on Russia’s interference in the country’s politics have continued to dog Prime Minister Boris Johnson as critics said leaks from the document raised concerns about the security of next month’s election. The report from Parliament’s intelligence committee concludes that Russian interference may have affected the 2016 referendum on Britain’s departure from the European Union, though the impact is “unquantifiable,” the Sunday Times reported. The committee said British intelligence services failed to devote enough resources to counter the threat and highlighted the impact of articles posted by Russian new sites that were widely disseminated on social media, the newspaper reported.

Emily Thornberry, the opposition Labour Party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said the leaks raise questions that deserve answers ahead of the December 12 poll. “Boris Johnson therefore needs to clear up the confusion, spin and speculation around this [intelligence committee] report by publishing it in full at the earliest opportunity,” she told the Times. “If not, people will rightly continue to ask: what is he trying to hide from the British public and why?” Johnson’s government has said it needs more time to review the security implications of the report. It says it will release the report after the election.

Critics have alleged the report is being withheld because it shows Russians have made large donations to the Conservative Party, which is seeking to win a majority that would allow Johnson to push his Brexit deal through Parliament. Security Minister Brandon Lewis dismissed the criticism. Asked about Russian donors to the campaign, Lewis told Sky television on Sunday that all contributions are reported to the proper authorities and the donors in question all have British citizenship.

Read more …

Developing story with some seemingly contradictory “facts”.

Guardian: 800 protesters “trapped”. “Teargas stops protesters escaping despite president of Polytechnic University assuring them of safe passage.”

Hong Kong Police Storm Into University After Violent Standoff (ZH)

Update 3: As the AP reports, local police charged demonstrators at Hong Kong Polytechnic University early Monday in a bid to end a lengthy standoff with protesters who had occupied the campus for a week, even though the local police later denied they had, in fact, raided the campus. As the WSJ adds, pro-democracy activists who had spent the night at barricades outside retreated inside the university, while those already inside campus buildings hurled Molotov cocktails and bricks at elite and riot police, who stormed the campus through the main entrance.

“Several protesters had been perched on higher floors and used a large slingshot to launch Molotov cocktails. The entryway and areas around the university’s perimeter were quickly engulfed in flames. One protester shown on live-streamed video from the site fired an arrow at the officers. Police appeared to arrest a small number of demonstrators as they advanced, but it was unclear how many students remained inside.”

Update 2: Sky News in a breaking report says officers have been given the ‘green light’ to use lethal force if needed against ‘rioters’ deploying lethal weapons at student protester-occupied Polytechnic University. According to the report: “Hong Kong protestors have fired arrows and hurled petrol bombs at police, as they seek to keep control of a barricaded university. Warning they were authorized to use “lethal force”, officers threatened to use live bullets if rioters continued. The territory continues to suffer some of its worst unrest in six months of demonstrations.” Throughout the weekend and into Monday the campus is resembling a war zone. And as protester tactics escalate, including shooting at police with bows and arrows, and launching petrol bombs via sling shots off buildings, HK police gloves are now coming off.

The battle over student protester-occupied Polytechnic University grew more violent over the weekend and grabbed headlines Sunday after a police officer was wounded by an arrow and a riot control vehicle attempting to disperse what HK authorities have labelled ‘rioters’ was set aflame by dozens of Molotov cocktails. Chinese state media has now labeled the student protesters “terrorists” and has urged police to deploy live fire given the students themselves are in possession of deadly weapons.

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Deval Patrick is candidate no. 28.

Another Chapter in the Democrats’ 2020 Clown Car Disaster (Taibbi)

People like Bloomberg and Patrick seem to believe in the existence of a massive electoral “middle” that wants 15-point plans and meritocratic slogans instead of action. As befits brilliant political strategists, they also seem hyper-concerned about the feelings of the country’s least numerous demographic, the extremely rich. A consistent theme is fear (often described in papers like the Times as “concern”) that the rhetoric of Warren and Sanders might unduly upset wealthy folk. “I don’t think that wealth is the problem. I think greed is the problem,” Patrick told CBS This Morning. He added that “taxes should go up on the most prosperous and the most fortunate,” but “not as a penalty.”


What does that mean? Should we impose higher taxes on the rich but include a note from the IRS saying, “It’s not because we don’t love you”? Along with an alarmingly high number of press figures, politicians like Patrick seem to be trapped in an “electability” concept that hasn’t made sense since the Reagan-Bush years. Outside of a few spots on the Upper East Side and in Georgetown and L.A., the “center” has been gone a long time. From Donald Trump to Sanders to Warren, the politicians attracting the biggest and most enthusiastic responses in recent years have run on furious, throw-the-bums-out themes, for the logical reason that bums by now clearly need throwing out.

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He said this last month. Schiff didn’t exactly quote him on it. Help me here: who was the guy Schiff told to reconsider his statement weeks ago? Anyone remember?

Morrison Told Schiff Panel: Nothing Improper During Trump-Zelensky Call (ZH)

A former top national security adviser to President Trump told a secret impeachment panel that he believed nothing improper occurred during a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky, according to a transcript released over the weekend. NSC official Tim Morrison, who was on that phone call, expressed this narrative-killing opinion to the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee last month – which would have undermined recent public testimony by several US officials who said that President Trump abused his office when he asked Zelensky to investigate former VP Joe Biden and matters related to the 2016 US election. That said, Morrison also testified that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, was involved in an effort to encourage Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden – though he could not say whether Trump was involved in those efforts.

“I’m still not completely certain that this was coming from the President,” Morrison testified to House Democrats. “I’m only getting this from Ambassador Sondland.” During a closed-door deposition as part of the House impeachment inquiry, Morrison was asked, “In your view, there was nothing improper that occurred during the call?” “Correct,” he answered as he was testifying under oath.” -Epoch Times. Morrison replaced former NSC official Fiona Hill, who resigned from her position on July 19, days before the infamous Trump-Zelensky call. He says that the word “Burisma” never came up during that call, referring to the Ukrainian natural gas company which employed Hunter Biden on its board [..]

Trump asked Zelensky to investigate this, as well as allegations that Ukraine was involved with the hacked DNC server as well as the only firm allowed to look at it, Crowdstrike. Morrison also testified that the Trump administration withheld foreign aid from Ukraine due to Trump’s general skepticism toward foreign aid, and a “concern that Ukrainians were not paying their fair share, as well as concerns [that] our aid would be misused because of the view that Ukraine has a significant corruption problem.”

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I’m getting the impression this is Pelosi’s PR team speaking. That switch to “bribery” gave it away. Is “resignation” another term they checked with a focus group?!

In Trump-Nixon Impeachment Comparison, Pelosi Raises Specter Of Resignation (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is amplifying her unfavorable comparison of President Donald Trump to fellow Republican Richard Nixon, saying that disgraced president at least cared enough about the country to leave office before his impeachment. The top Democrat in Congress told reporters last week that Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate one of his potential opponents in the 2020 election “makes what Nixon did look almost small.” In a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday, she alluded to Nixon’s resignation after the Watergate scandal involving a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters and the subsequent cover-up.


“I mean, what the president did was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did, that at some point Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognize that this could not continue,” Pelosi said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” [..] Pelosi for months resisted calls from her more liberal Democratic lawmakers to initiate impeachment proceedings, but said Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy compelled her to open the inquiry against the president.

Read more …

They’re starting to intimidate witnesses.

Pelosi: Trump’s Conduct Is ‘So Much Worse’ Than Nixon’s (NBC)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday that President Donald Trump’s conduct is “so much worse” than that of former President Richard Nixon, adding that Trump is insecure about being an “imposter.” Pelosi spoke with CBS’s “Face the Nation” days after House impeachment investigators conducted their first public hearings. Three more days of public hearings are scheduled for this week. “I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower,” Pelosi said of the CIA employee whose complaint about Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine led to the impeachment inquiry. “The president can come before the committee and speak all the truth that he wants … He has every opportunity to make his case.”

“But it’s really a sad thing,” Pelosi continued. “What the president did was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did. At some point, Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognize that this could not continue.” Since the House launched its impeachment inquiry in September, multiple Trump administration officials have alleged that Trump tied U.S. aid to Ukraine to an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Republicans have defended the president by pointing out that the aid was eventually released and Ukraine never announced an investigation into the Bidens. But Pelosi and other Democrats have said that, by conditioning aid on the investigations, Trump was attempting to commit bribery.

“The whistle was blown, the whistle was blown, and that was blown long before we heard about it,” Pelosi said. “Don’t forget that in-between all of that came the inspector general. An inspector general appointed by President Trump. And the inspector general said this was of urgent concern. That is what intervened.” Speaking with “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said Republicans have offered up “a whole bunch of defenses that don’t make sense.” “Lots of crimes can be committed … by the boss hinting and giving direction,” Himes said. “Corrupt people don’t always say, ‘Hey, here’s the signed contract.’ What has already developed from second-hand witnesses is that this aid was withheld as a condition.”

Even more Trump administration officials are set to testify publicly in the impeachment probe this week, including E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who Himes said is a first-hand witness to Trump’s conduct, having been tasked with carrying out his wishes. While Sondland’s initial October testimony largely absolved him from any wrongdoing, he submitted additional testimony in November acknowledge that he did deliver a quid pro quo message to Ukraine. Acknowledging that Sondland’s credibility is in question, Himes said it “was not lost on Ambassador Sondland what happened to” Trump associates Roger Stone and Michael Cohen “for lying to Congress.” “My guess is Gordon Sondland is going to do his level best to tell the truth because otherwise, he may have a very unpleasant legal future in front of him,” Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said.

Read more …

Nice find by Tyler, an article by Sylvain Laforest. Not saying I agree with it, but he tickles some pre-conceived “virtues”. Anyone who calls Trump the ultimate anti-narcissist knows he’s in for tons of derision. Laforest is okay with that.

“Donald simply doesn’t care if you like him or not, which makes him the ultimate anti-narcissist, by its psychological definition.”

About Trump (Sylvain Laforest )

Let’s make one thing clear: to the establishment, Trump isn’t mentally challenged, but he’s definitely seen as a possible nemesis of their world. Ever since he moved in the White House, Trump has been depicted as a narcissist, a racist, a sexist and a climate-skeptic, loaded with shady past stories and mental issues. Even though an approximate 60% of the American people don’t trust medias anymore, many have bought the story that Trump might be slightly crazy or unfit to rule, and the statistic climbs even higher when you get out of the USA. Of course, Donald isn’t doing anything special to change the deeply negative perception that so many journalists and people alike have about him.

He’s openly outrageous and provocative on Twitter, he sounds impulsive and dumb most of the time, acts irrationally, lies on a daily basis, and throws out sanctions and threats as if they were candy canes out of an elf’s side bag in a mall in December. Right away, we can destroy one persistent media myth: the image Trump is projecting is self-destructive and it’s the exact opposite of how pathological narcissists act, since they thrive to be loved and admired by everyone. Donald simply doesn’t care if you like him or not, which makes him the ultimate anti-narcissist, by its psychological definition. And that’s not even up for opinion, it’s a quite simple and undeniable fact.

His general plan exhales from one of his favorite motto: «We will give power back to the people», because the United States and its imperialist web woven over the world have been in the hands of a few globalist bankers, military industrials and multinationals for more than a century. To achieve his plan, he has to end wars abroad, bring back the kids, dismantle the NATO and CIA, get control over the Federal Reserve, cut every link with foreign allies, abolish the Swift financial system, demolish the propaganda power of the medias, drain the swamp of the deep state that’s running the spying agencies and disable the shadow government that’s lurking in the Council on foreign relations and Trilateral Commission’s offices. In short, he has to destroy the New World Order and its globalist ideology. The task is huge and dangerous to say the least. Thankfully, he’s not alone.

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John Rubino is one of the first, and most loyal, fans of the Automatic Earth. Seeing this video makes me think I should really start talking more about finance again. If only because after all, that’s where we come from. But having watched how the Fed et al have distorted and erased what are still called markets, I started to look elsewhere -as well- for what was interesting.

Fed Fears Next Crash Fatal – John Rubino (USAW)

Rubino explains, “Every sector of the U.S. economy is so over indebted I don’t see how we go on much longer. The Fed is desperately trying to prolong this thing. We are running trillion dollar deficits now, and what that is for is to keep the system from falling apart. We are 11 years into an expansion, a record. This is the longest bull market in history, and this is the longest economic expansion in history. . . . These guys don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the next recession, but they are afraid that the system is so highly leveraged that even a garden variety three quarters of a percent of negative growth and a garden variety of 20% drop in stock prices might be fatal. The system might not be able to handle that because it would cause so much damage and there are so many different places that can blow up that the system would spin out of control. We would get 2008-2009 again but on steroids because the numbers are so much bigger this time around. So, they want to avoid that at all costs.”


Rubino points out, “Fear is the enemy in a fiat currency system. Everything is based on our assumption that the guys in charge know what they are doing and that the confidence in them is good. You take that away, and they let us see them sweat, and it’s over. There is no real bottom for the dollar, euro or the yen. Their intrinsic value is zero. When the economic players out there in the global financial system realize that the central banks of the world are out of ammo, and nothing these guys do is going to fix our problem, then all hell breaks loose. . . . What worries me about today’s world is that everything falls apart all at once, and there is no way to fix what went wrong. . . .We have a lot of examples of governments doing crazy things when everything falls apart.”

Read more …

Harbin’s biggest problem: it trades on Hong Kong’s stock exchange. You know, HK dollars.

China Quietly Bails Out Another Bank (ZH)

Harbin Bank, which is one of the biggest banks in China’s northeast with 622 billion yuan in assets as of June 30, 2019, and trades on Hong Kong’s stock exchange, becomes the fifth bank – after Baoshang Bank , Bank of Jinzhou, Heng Feng Bank, and Henan Yichuan Rural Commercial Bank – to be bailed out by the state, and will be 48%-controlled by two government entities after six private shareholders shed their stakes, according to a bank statement issued late on Friday. Total consideration for the shares involved came to almost 15 billion yuan, or around $2.1 billion, the bank said, though it described the transactions as transfers rather than stock sales, which is to be expected if the bank was being bailed out instead of actually selling a viable stake.

As has been the customary case, the bank didn’t provide any reason for the transactions in the statement, and Chinese bank regulators made no comment on the action. And, as was the case with at least one previous bank “rescue”, Harbin Bank was connected to a former oligarch who disappeared not that long ago amid allegations of massive fraud. Indeed, as the WSJ reports, the bank is among a handful of financial businesses in China linked to once-powerful tycoon named Xiao Jianhua who in early 2017 disappeared amid a wave of prosecutions of big private investors. Businesses owned by some of those people, including Wu Xiaohui’s Anbang Insurance Group Co., have also since become government-owned.

[..] So why did Harbin Bank fail? In its financial report for H1 2019, Harbin Bank cited deteriorating asset quality – read surging bad loans – as well as intensified competition for deposits and higher borrowing costs in money markets as China’s economy slows. Yet, paradoxically, the near-insolvent lender also said it recorded a profit of 2.18 billion yuan, or about $311.1 million, though that was off about 16% because of, drumroll, more-aggressive write-offs of bad debts. Which goes to show that corporate earnings reports in China are as “credible” as all other Chinese economic “data.”

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He said it straight-faced, I’m sure.

Airbus Exec: Boeing’s 737 MAX Grounding Benefits No One (CNBC)

Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer forcefully rejected the notion that his company is benefiting from the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max fleet while speaking to CNBC during the Dubai Air Show. “I really need to correct that cultural belief. This does not benefit anyone in this industry, the least of which would be Airbus,” Scherer told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Sunday. “It’s a tragedy, it is an issue for Boeing to resolve, but it is not good for competitors to see problems on any one particular airplane type.” The 737 Max [..] grounding has forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, driven up costs and dented airlines’ profits. To make up for the expected loss in services, Boeing in the second quarter took a $4.9 billion after-tax charge to compensate airlines but final amounts are unknown because regulators haven’t yet lifted the grounding.


Boeing and Airbus, often described as holding a duopoly over the large commercial airline industry since the 1990s, each own approximately half of that market. Orders for each company’s airliners, however, are expected to be smaller this year as the industry faces headwinds including a slowing global economy, climate change and safety concerns. Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace group, cut its delivery expectations for 2019 as it grapples with manufacturing delays at its recently expanded plant in Hamburg, Germany. It now plans to deliver “around 860” planes this year, down from an original target of between 880 and 890. It recorded an adjusted operating income of 1.6 billion euros ($1.78 billion) for the third quarter of 2019.

Read more …

Andrew said in the Saturday interview that he didn’t party, didn’t show personal displays of affection, couldn’t sweat and only went out wearing a suit and tie. Well, now he’s got the Daily Mail on his trail. They have a lot of pictures of him doing exactly that.

Pictures of Prince Andrew Partying and Sweating (DM)

Prince Andrew is facing an extraordinary backlash over his interview, which Prince Charles’ former PR chief Dickie Arbiter described as: ‘Not so much a car crash but an articulated lorry crash’. Mr Arbiter said he must ‘take a break’ from royal duties, adding: ‘What charity wants a VIP guest with this hanging over him?’ Viewers described watching Andrew’s grilling from behind the sofa and through their fingers as he denied having sex with Virginia Roberts because he was in Pizza Express in Woking and suggested that the world-famous picture of them together could be faked. Miss Roberts’ evidence that he sweated ‘profusely’ during sex were explained away by claiming a rush of adrenaline while being shot at during the Falklands conflict in 1982 made it impossible for him.

A royal source claimed last night he has told his mother the Queen that his appearance on the BBC Two Newsnight special was largely a ‘great success’ – but a friend told the Mail he ‘regretted’ not expressing sympathy for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims in his disastrous TV interview. Today former royal protection officer said it went so badly for Prince Andrew it should spark a police investigation. In another infamous set of pictures taken on the French Riviera in July 2007, the Prince looks wild-eyed as he parties with American socialite Chris Von Aspen. The blonde interior designer can be seen licking Andrew as the pair cavorted together.

More clips from 2008 show him wandering around a party thrown by wine tycoon Claude Ott, heading to the dance floor with two women as techno music plays out. The Prince appears to look worse for wear as he enjoys the party, hair dishevelled and shirt untucked.

Read more …

Graeber is always an interesting read. But not one I can do justice in this format, if only because of the length of the essay.

Against Economics (David Graeber)

There is a growing feeling, among those who have the responsibility of managing large economies, that the discipline of economics is no longer fit for purpose. It is beginning to look like a science designed to solve problems that no longer exist. A good example is the obsession with inflation. Economists still teach their students that the primary economic role of government—many would insist, its only really proper economic role—is to guarantee price stability. We must be constantly vigilant over the dangers of inflation. For governments to simply print money is therefore inherently sinful. If, however, inflation is kept at bay through the coordinated action of government and central bankers, the market should find its “natural rate of unemployment,” and investors, taking advantage of clear price signals, should be able to ensure healthy growth.


These assumptions came with the monetarism of the 1980s, the idea that government should restrict itself to managing the money supply, and by the 1990s had come to be accepted as such elementary common sense that pretty much all political debate had to set out from a ritual acknowledgment of the perils of government spending. This continues to be the case, despite the fact that, since the 2008 recession, central banks have been printing money frantically in an attempt to create inflation and compel the rich to do something useful with their money, and have been largely unsuccessful in both endeavors. We now live in a different economic universe than we did before the crash. Falling unemployment no longer drives up wages. Printing money does not cause inflation. Yet the language of public debate, and the wisdom conveyed in economic textbooks, remain almost entirely unchanged.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Nov 032019
 
 November 3, 2019  Posted by at 9:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


Salvador Dali Nymphs in a romantic garden 1921

 

UK Spy Agencies Found No Evidence Of Russian Brexit Interference (BF)
Pelosi Warns 2020 Candidates They’re On The Wrong Track (ZH)
Assad Calls Trump “Best US President” Ever For “Transparency” (ZH)
Britain Ignores Assange Medical Appeal: UN (AAP)
Saudi Arabia Kick-Starts Aramco IPO (R.)
Global Shipping Container Rates Plunge (ZH)
Labour Plans To Make 27 Million Homes Energy Efficient (G.)
Don’t Drive Electric Cars, Ignore Paper Bags & Forget About Organic Food (RT)
Captain Siya Kolisi Wants To ‘Inspire Every Kid’ In South Africa (BBC)

 

 

How nutritious are those nothingburgers? At some point you get concerned for these peoples’ metabolism.

“Two sources told BuzzFeed that British intelligence found no evidence of Russian meddling in either the 2016 referendum vote or the 2017 general election.”

Russophobia is even stronger in Britain than in the US, so they’ll find a way to twist this, don’t worry.

UK Spy Agencies Found No Evidence Of Russian Brexit Interference (BF)

The UK’s intelligence agencies have found no evidence that the Russian state interfered in the outcome of the Brexit referendum and the 2017 general election, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the findings in an as-yet-unpublished report from Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. One of the sources told BuzzFeed News the finding was categorical. The report, titled simply “Russia”, is at the centre of a row between some MPs and Downing Street after the committee’s chair, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, urged Boris Johnson to release the report ahead of the Dec. 12 general election, arguing that it was “really unacceptable for the prime minister to sit on it”.


The committee sent the report to Johnson’s office on Oct. 17. It will not be released before the election unless it is cleared for publication by the beginning of next week before Parliament is dissolved for the campaign. Raising a point of order in the House of Commons on Thursday, Grieve expressed regret that the report had not already been cleared for publication by the prime minister. He continued: “We thus have a committee of Parliament waiting to lay before the House a report that comments directly on what has been perceived as a threat to our democratic processes. Parliament and the public ought to and must have access to this report in the light of the forthcoming election, and it is unacceptable for the prime minister to sit on it and deny them that information.”

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Nancy finds herself stuck in her impeachment call. She’s smart enough to see how bad a call that was. And she’s old enough that she should never have been in her present role. But you know, power calls. She should be handing over the baton to a younger crowd, but she has no idea what they are thinking, and those are her own words.

Thing is, by her and her ilk not being grandmas and grandpas as they should, they force the young ‘uns into more radical positions just to have any voice at all. And by insisting on staying, she creates the space for self-imploding devices like Adam Schiff to move themselves forward into the limelight they so desperately crave. Spend more time with the family, Nancy, you’re making it too easy for Trump.

Pelosi Warns 2020 Candidates They’re On The Wrong Track (ZH)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks Democrats running for president in 2020 might strike out against Trump with ultra-liberal policies that fire up the party’s progressive base, yet might not go over so well with swing voters in flyover states. Proposals pushed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders like Medicare for All and a wealth tax play well in liberal enclaves like her own district in San Francisco but won’t sell in the Midwestern states that sent Trump to the White House in 2016, she said. -Bloomberg “What works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan,”Pelosi said in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg. “What works in Michigan works in San Francisco — talking about workers’ rights and sharing prosperity.” “Remember November,” she added. “You must win the Electoral College.”

And while she didn’t back any particular candidate running for office, Pelosi said Democrats should be focusing on “lower costs of prescription drugs, bigger paychecks by building infrastructure, and cleaner government.” She also worries that candidates like Warren and Sanders are going down the wrong track by trying to ‘out-left’ each other to court fellow progressives while abandoning moderate voters that the party needs to win back from Trump. “As a left-wing San Francisco liberal I can say to these people: What are you thinking?” Pelosi said. “You can ask the left — they’re unhappy with me for not being a socialist.” Pelosi also expressed concerns that voters don’t care about the Green New Deal promoted by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, which calls for rapid, radical reductions in carbon emissions.

“There’s very strong opposition on the labor side to the Green New Deal because it’s like 10 years, no more fossil fuel. Really?” said Pelosi. “The speaker’s concerns reflect those of many Democratic leaders and donors who believe that left-wing policies will alienate swing voters and lead to defeat. Warren and Sanders are betting on a different theory — that voters who float between parties are less ideological and can be inspired to vote for candidates who represent bold new change in Washington. Pelosi said Democrats should seek to build on President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act instead of pushing ahead with the more sweeping Medicare for All plan favored by Warren and Sanders that would create a government-run health care system and abolish private insurance.” -Bloomberg

Read more …

“All American presidents commit crimes and end up taking the Nobel Prize..”

Assad Calls Trump “Best US President” Ever For “Transparency” (ZH)

Arguably some of the most significant events since the eight-year long war’s start have played out in Syria with rapid pace over just the last month alone, including Turkey’s military incursion in the north, the US pullback from the border and into Syria’s oil fields, the Kurdish-led SDF’s deal making with Damascus, and the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. All of this is why a televised interview with President Bashar Assad was highly anticipated at the end of this week. Assad’s commentary on the latest White House policy to “secure the oil” in Syria, for which US troops have already been redeployed to some of the largest oil fields in the Deir Ezzor region, was the biggest pressing question.


The Syrian president’s response was unexpected and is now driving headlines, given what he said directly about Trump, calling him the “best American president” ever – because he’s the “most transparent.” “When it comes to Trump you may ask me a question and I’ll give you an answer which might seem strange. I tell you he’s the best American president,” Assad said, according to a translation provided by NBC. “Why? Not because his policies are good, but because he is the most transparent president,” Assad continued. “All American presidents commit crimes and end up taking the Nobel Prize and appear as a defender of human rights and the ‘unique’ and ‘brilliant’ American or Western principles. But all they are is a group of criminals who only represent the interests of the American lobbies of large corporations in weapons, oil and others,” he added.

Read more …

Laws broken all around and all the time.

Britain Ignores Assange Medical Appeal: UN (AAP)

The British government has ignored an urgent medical appeal for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a UN expert says. UN rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer says Britain has taken no action since he and medical experts visited Assange at a London prison in May. They found Assange displaying “all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture”. “However, what we have seen from the UK government is outright contempt for Mr Assange’s rights and integrity,” Melzer said in a statement on Friday. “Despite the medical urgency of my appeal, and the seriousness of the alleged violations, the UK has not undertaken any measures of investigation, prevention and redress required under international law.” Melzer urged Britain on Friday to block the extradition and release Assange.

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As long as there’s no IPO, any valuation can be used. But on moral grounds too, this should be boycotted.

Saudi Arabia Kick-Starts Aramco IPO (R.)

Saudi Arabia kick-started Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) on Sunday as its market regulator approved the oil giant’s application to list on the domestic bourse and create the world’s most valuable listed firm. A statement from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) did not give a time frame or say how much Aramco would sell, but sources have told Reuters the oil company could offer 1% to 2% of its shares on the local bourse, raising as much $20 billion to $40 billion. Confirmation of the share sale in Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, as the oil giant is usually known, comes about seven weeks after crippling attacks on its oil facilities, underlining Saudi Arabia’s determination to push on with the listing regardless.


The IPO of the world’s most profitable company is designed to turbo charge Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic reform agenda by raising billions to diversify the kingdom, whose dependency on oil was highlighted by the production impact of the Sept. 14 attacks. [..] Prince Mohammed gave the green light on Friday for the IPO to go ahead, Reuters reported, citing sources. Although he put a $2 trillion valuation on the company in early 2016, bankers and company insiders say Aramco’s value is closer to $1.5 trillion.

Read more …

Tyler: “..Trump’s non-stop fake trade news tweeting..”

Global Shipping Container Rates Plunge (ZH)

President Trump’s non-stop fake trade news tweeting has indeed decoupled the market from focusing on worsening macro and fundamentals. Teddy Vallee, CIO of Pervalle Global, has spotted an alarming downtrend in the Freightos 40 ft. Global Shipping Container Rate. Vallee has likely found an accurate barometer of global economic activity, now plunging in the last two months. “The move in container shipping rates is consistent with the continued deterioration in raw industrial commodities, China’s official PMI, China’s steel PMI, as well as market internals such as industrials relative to the S&P500,” Vallee said.


Freightos 40 ft. Global Shipping Container Rate started to trough in 1H19. The narrative back then was the global/US economy would rebound in 4Q19 and soar in 2020. But with 61 days left in 4Q, macroeconomic headwinds continue to mount across the world as global container rates plunge to new lows on the year, suggesting a global/US economic revival is nowhere to be found. With no signs of a global recovery, market participants will once again be jawboned back to reality, or as some have called it: a ‘macro matters’ event — the only question is finding the trigger that brings everybody out of the fake trade news daze spurred by the Trump administration.

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Too many questions about this. What are the building standards they aim to use? And retrofitting 27 million homes will result in only 450,000 jobs, over a decade?

But most of all, when someone says things like “..we face the threat of a hostile and dying planet. But Labour will turn that threat into an opportunity..”, tell them to get lost. We can’t heal the planet for profit. That’s just empty PR.

Labour Plans To Make 27 Million Homes Energy Efficient (G.)

Labour is claiming to have drawn up plans for the biggest overhaul of housing since the second world war, with a plan to instal loft insulation, double glazing and renewable technologies in almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes. The party says that the Warm Homes for All scheme will create 450,000 jobs over the next decade. Under the plans, low-income households would be able to apply for a grant, paying no upfront costs. They would keep most of the savings on their bills, though part would be used to pay for a proportion of the work. Wealthier households would be able to claim interest-free loans for the work, with the loans claimed back through their bills.

Labour said that, through the scheme, 6.34 million homes would have heat pumps and 5.3 million homes would have solar thermal systems by 2030. The party said the UK’s housing stock was among the worst insulated in Europe, with building electricity and heat use the biggest source of emissions in Britain. The party said the waste was costing households billions of pounds and pushing 3.5 million of them into fuel poverty. However, there are significant costs implied by the scheme. Labour calculates that delivering essential upgrades to the UK’s entire housing stock will cost about £250bn, or an average of £9,300 per house. [..]

Jeremy Corbyn said: “If we don’t radically change course we face the threat of a hostile and dying planet. But Labour will turn that threat into an opportunity. We will tackle the climate crisis by putting wealth in the hands of the many not the few, with lower bills and more good jobs. “By investing on a massive scale, we will usher in a green industrial revolution with good, clean jobs that will transform towns, cities and communities that have been held back and neglected for decades.

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Not a terribly strong article at RT, but we must remind people that Green has become a major marketing ploy. Beware.

Don’t Drive Electric Cars, Ignore Paper Bags & Forget About Organic Food (RT)

Renewable energy, hailed as the answer to the world’s petrochemical dependency, is not the cure-all it is depicted as. Solar power, for example, creates no carbon emissions once the solar panels are up and running, but their manufacture is a toxic mess. Produced with the carcinogenic, mutagenic heavy metal cadmium and requiring billions of liters of water to manufacture and cool, solar cells have their own dark side seldom examined in discussions of the impending shift to renewable energy. Electric cars have become a symbol of environmental progress, with companies that produce them receiving government subsidies in many countries. But more energy is consumed in the production of an electric car than a gas-powered vehicle, and a 2011 study found the carbon footprints of both vehicles to be about the same.


Electric cars may not produce emissions while driving, but they’re only as green as the electricity used to charge them. Worse, the batteries they use are loaded with toxic metals like lithium, copper, and cobalt. Mining these substances devastates the environment, and improper disposal of used batteries can cause them to leak back into nature. Biomass and biofuels certainly sound environmentally friendly – how can you go wrong with “bio” in the name – but it actually generates more carbon emissions than fossil fuels to create the same amount of energy. Substances burnable under the aegis of “biomass” can include anything from timber waste to garbage, meaning it can burn clean or litter the atmosphere with pollutants. And even burning ‘clean’ wood means cutting down trees – hardly environmentally friendly.

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South Africa won the rugby World Cup on Saturday. I’m not a rugby fan, but I did see the British crowds in a sports bar from across the street. The story behind it is far more interesting though. 30 years after Mandela, very little has improved.

“It’s easy to talk about going through hard times and struggling to get opportunities, but it’s tough to tell people that there were days when I didn’t have food or shoes to wear..”

Captain Siya Kolisi Wants To ‘Inspire Every Kid’ In South Africa (BBC)

Kolisi, who grew up up in a poor township of Zwide, just outside Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape, flew his father abroad for the first time to watch him represent his country in Japan. He added: “You can never forget where you come from or the people who have helped you get here so I just wanted to celebrate with him [his father]. “Growing up, I never dreamed of a day like this at all. When I was a kid all I was thinking about was getting my next meal.” The skipper said coach Rassie Erasmus told the players they were not just playing for themselves, but for all of South Africa. The country is suffering an economic crisis with unemployment at 29% and Kolisi said he has “never seen south Africa like this”.

Springbok try scorers Makazole Mapimpi, who also comes from a poor township like Kolisi, and Cheslin Kolbe are both black and the skipper said his side’s performance shows how “different races can come together”. An emotional Mapimpi, who scored the Springbok’s first try in their third World Cup final, was also in reflective mood after the full-time whistle, saying he had come a “long way”. “I’m blessed,” he said. “I’m from the rural areas. “I didn’t make the South Africa schools [team]. It means a lot for me, but also for the boys who didn’t go to private schools. “A lot of things happen in South Africa that affect us and we fight to push those things away. South Africa coach Erasmus echoed his captain’s comments, saying rugby is “privilege” after leading his country to glory in his first World Cup as coach.

“In South Africa pressure is not having a job, pressure is one of your friends being murdered,” he said. “Rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure on you, it brings hope. “Hope is when you play well and people watch you on Saturday, have a nice barbecue and watch the game and feel good after.” “It’s easy to talk about going through hard times and struggling to get opportunities, but it’s tough to tell people that there were days when I didn’t have food or shoes to wear,” he said. “And when you sit down and think about it clearly, and think there was a stage when Siya went through stuff like that, then he sits here as captain holding this trophy. “That should sum up what Siya is.”

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Oct 282019
 
 October 28, 2019  Posted by at 1:54 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


Cimabue Christ mocked c1280
(Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters. Painting discovered in an old woman’s kitchen in Sept, sold for $28 million this week)

 

Trump Kept Gang of 8 In The Dark About Baghdadi Raid (WE)
Bill Barr Formally Announces Orwellian Pre-Crime Program (Webb)
Russia Calls Increase In US Troops In Syrian Oil Fields ‘Banditry’ (Hill)
Russian FM Lavrov Warns US Against Undermining Syria’s Sovereignty (RT)
The Plundering of Ukraine by Corrupt American Democrats (Shamir)
Bundestag MPs Demand That US Troops Leave Germany (RT)
European Leaders Agree Brexit Extension To 31 January (BBC)
Three Things I Learned In Washington (van Steenis)

 

 

As I already said in the TAE comments yesterday, I want to halt the daily Debt Rattles, at least for a while. I feel, and this has been building for quite some time, that they have outlived their purpose, which was always to put the daily news in context. But lately I felt it was not enough about -and by- me, and too much about the MSM.

Moreover, the Debt Rattles took away all of my mornings, 5-6 hours at a time, and I should be able to make better use of what is arguably the most productive time of the day. I have a lot more to say about this, for instance the growing place of paywalls in the news field, but I’ll do that in a separate article. I don’t know how aware people are about how much, and how fast, “news” is changing, but it’s a topic that warrants much more attention.

And did I mention the Automatic Earth has been almost wholly demonetized by Ad Sense? We’re going to need a lot more donations, the entire model for sites such as this one is rapidly changing. And I don’t want to also disappear behind a paywall, that defeats the purpose. More on that later as well. It’s not the direct reason behind halting the Debt Rattles, but it has crossed my mind. We can’t go on like this. Losing 85% of ad revenue is lethal at some point. Donations via Paypal and Patreon can be made at the top of the left and right sidebars.

I may take a few days to decide on the format I will continue in, but then I will be back and be better at it. As you may know, one of the things that has royally irked me over the past few years is how the MSM increasingly moved towards wanting to shape people’s views and opinions, instead of reporting on the news.

The incessant criticism of Trump, whether you like him or not, should have rung big blazing red alarm bells for everyone. And that wasn’t even because of a difference of opinions, it was -and is-, as I wrote over a year ago, because Trump Sells Better Than Sex.

So if you get your news from one of those outlets, you’re being duped for the sake of their profits.

The recent videos from Project Veritas, which show CNN boss Jeff Zucker hammering on about impeachment, exclusively, say it all really. I think that now that we’re there, and everybody has been able to be informed about it, a more personal approach than news overviews, despite all the effort at providing context, is called for.

 

I can start off today with a perfect example. The alleged US killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has put the MSM in an awkward position. On the one hand they cheer everything that even smells like warfare, on the other they can’t be seen uttering even one syllable that doesn’t slam Trump.

And then you get this sort of stuff, from Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, likely written just moments after hearing Trump’s speech on the attack. I don’t care much for such speeches, and from what I did pick up certainly not this one, but I’d like to see someone explain how it differed from Hillary’s “We Cam We Saw He Died after Gaddafi” was sodomized to death by US troops. And I wonder what Cillizza had on that.

Moreover, lest we forget, al-Baghdadi was an actual terrorist, while Gaddafi ran the region’s most prosperous nation. But all Cillizza can manage is an article entitled The 41 Most Shocking Lines From Donald Trump’s Baghdadi Announcement. No, I didn’t read them. It’s Orange Man Bad cubed territory. Cillizza works for Zucker, after all, it’s his job description.

Bloomberg meanwhile ran this headline:

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi transformed himself from a little-known teacher of Koranic recitation into the self-proclaimed ruler of an entity that covered swaths of Syria and Iraq

While the Washington Post messed up even worse, changing their headline on the fly

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48

Reaction on witter: The very first headline called #Baghdadi as ‘terrorist-in-chief’. It was DELIBERATELY CHANGED to ‘austere religious scholar’. After backlash you changed it to ‘extremist leader’.

Some other reactions:

Adolf Hitler, dedicated art enthusiast, animal rights activist, and talented orator, dies at 56.


“Jeffrey Dahmer, connoisseur of exotic and locally sourced meats, dies at 34”

Trump didn’t brief Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff etc. (the Gang of 8) until after the raid was finished, and of course they complained. As Aaron Maté put it:

I was wondering if there was going to be a public celebration of the Baghdadi operation like when bin Laden was killed, but more likely this time is a vigil for Adam Schiff not getting briefed.

And Caitlin Johnstone:

If America actually wanted to end ISIS they wouldn’t kill its easily replaceable mascot, they’d stop slaughtering Middle Eastern civilians, end foreign occupations, and cease allying with nations which support violent extremists.

 

 

“Washington is a leaking machine.”

Trump Kept Gang of 8 In The Dark About Baghdadi Raid (WE)

President Trump confirmed Sunday he did not notify particular congressional committees ahead of the U.S. raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The House Intelligence Committee, currently spearheading impeachment inquiry proceedings against the president, was not notified about the raid in advance, one aide told CBS News. Trump’s inner circle for decisions pertaining to such matters appears to have become smaller since leaks within his administration threaten his presidency. According to another report from ABC News, Trump told Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr about the raid after it happened, as well as Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, members of the “Gang of 8″ a group of Congressional leaders who receive classified intelligence briefings on a routine basis, were not notified, aides said. Graham is not part of the Gang of 8. A reporter asked Trump after his announcement if certain congressional committees and leadership were told of the raid before it happened. “We notified some,” Trump replied. “Others are being notified now as I speak. We were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before. There’s nothing — there’s no country in the world that leaks like we do, and Washington is a leaking machine.”

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This from Whitney Webb needs a million times more scrutiny than it is getting. But the media are interested only in bashing Trump, because that’s where their money comes from. But really, pre-crime?!

Bill Barr Formally Announces Orwellian Pre-Crime Program (Webb)

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of the memorandum is Barr’s frank admission that many of the “early engagement” tactics that the new program would utilize were “born of the posture we adopted with respect to terrorist threats.” In other words, the foundation for many of the policies utilized following the post-9/11 “war on terror” are also the foundation for the “early engagement” tactics that Barr seeks to use to identify potential criminals as part of this new policy. Though those “war on terror” policies have largely targeted individuals abroad, Barr’s memorandum makes it clear that some of those same controversial tactics will soon be used domestically.


Barr’s memorandum also alludes to current practices by the FBI and DOJ that will shape the new plan. Though more specifics of the new policy will be provided in the forthcoming notice, Barr notes that “newly developed tactics” used by the Joint Terrorist Task Forces “include the use of clinical psychologists, threat assessment professionals, intervention teams and community groups” to detect risk and suggests that the new “early engagement program” will work along similar lines. Barr also alludes to this “community” approach in a separate instance, when he writes that “when the public ‘says something’ to alert us to a potential threat, we must do something.”

Talking about pre-crime:

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There’s horse trading going on here. The countless armed militia in the region are a real danger, because all parties involved have supported at least some of them, and perhaps still do. But at some point the real armies may find themselves facing each other. Not a good idea.

Russia Calls Increase In US Troops In Syrian Oil Fields ‘Banditry’ (Hill)

The Russian government on Saturday criticized the U.S. for bolstering military resources in eastern Syria, calling the move an “act of international state banditry,” Rueters reports. The increased military presence in the area comes after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that Washington would send more troops and vehicles into the area to secure the local oil fields. The increased protection would reportedly ensure that fields were not overtaken by Islamic State (ISIS) insurgents.


Reuters reports that in a statement released by Russia, the country claimed that the U.S. had no international legal jurisdiction to increase military presence around the oil fields. The statement went on to say that there was no real security threat in the area. “Therefore Washington’s current actions – capturing and maintaining military control over oil fields in eastern Syria – is, simply put, international state banditry,” the statement reads. The document went on to state that U.S. troops are “protecting oil smugglers that make more than $30 million a month,” Rueters reports.

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“We want to keep the oil” is a dead in the water slogan.

Russian FM Lavrov Warns US Against Undermining Syria’s Sovereignty (RT)

Steps that undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state must be avoided, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the two talked on the phone on Saturday, the foreign ministry said. Earlier this week, American troops were sent to Syria’s northeastern province of Deir ez-Zor with the claimed task of protecting the local oilfields from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists. Moscow decried the move as a violation of international law and reminded that all natural resources in Syria belong to Damascus. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed separate issues around relations between Moscow and Washington during the conversation initiated by the US side, the ministry added.

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“AG Shokin immediately discovered that Burisma had paid these ‘stars’ between 50 and 150 thousand dollar per month each just for being on the list of directors. This is illegal by the Ukrainian tax code; it can’t be recognised as legitimate expenditure. At that time Biden the father entered the fray.”

The Plundering of Ukraine by Corrupt American Democrats (Shamir)

Oleg, you followed Biden story from its very inception. Biden is not the only Dem politician involved in the Ukrainian corruption schemes, is he? Indeed, John Kerry, the Secretary of State in Obama’s administration, was his partner-in-crime. But Joe Biden was number one. During the Obama presidency, Biden was the US proconsul for Ukraine, and he was involved in many corruption schemes. He authorised transfer of three billion dollars of the US taxpayers’ money to the post-coup government of the Ukraine; the money was stolen, and Biden took a big share of the spoils. It is a story of ripping the US taxpayer and the Ukrainian customer off for the benefit of a few corruptioners, American and Ukrainian. And it is a story of Kiev regime and its dependence on the US and IMF.

The Ukraine has a few midsize deposits of natural gas, sufficient for domestic household consumption. The cost of its production was quite low; and the Ukrainians got used to pay pennies for their gas. Actually, it was so cheap to produce that the Ukraine could provide all its households with free gas for heating and cooking, just like Libya did. Despite low consumer price, the gas companies (like Burisma) had very high profits and very little expenditure. After the 2014 coup, IMF demanded to raise the price of gas for the domestic consumer to European levels, and the new president Petro Poroshenko obliged them. The prices went sky-high. The Ukrainians were forced to pay many times more for their cooking and heating; and huge profits went to coffers of the gas companies.

Instead of raising taxes or lowering prices, President Poroshenko demanded the gas companies to pay him or subsidise his projects. He said that he arranged the price hike; it means he should be considered a partner. Burisma Gas company had to pay extortion money to the president Poroshenko. Eventually its founder and owner Mr Nicolai Zlochevsky decided to invite some important Westerners into the company’s board of directors hoping it would moderate Poroshenko’s appetites. He had brought in Biden’s son Hunter, John Kerry, Polish ex-President Kwasniewski; but it didn’t help him.

Poroshenko became furious that the fattened calf may escape him, and asked the Attorney General Shokin to investigate Burisma trusting some irregularities would emerge. AG Shokin immediately discovered that Burisma had paid these ‘stars’ between 50 and 150 thousand dollar per month each just for being on the list of directors. This is illegal by the Ukrainian tax code; it can’t be recognised as legitimate expenditure. At that time Biden the father entered the fray.

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Not going to happen, but good idea.

Bundestag MPs Demand That US Troops Leave Germany (RT)

German MPs have demanded that the government expel US forces stationed in Germany. MPs argue that their presence only serves the purposes of the US illegal wars in the Middle East and stokes tensions with Moscow. Lawmakers from the opposition Left Party have tabled a motion calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to immediately stop financing the American military presence in the country and to annul a 1990 treaty allowing US soldiers to be deployed on German soil in the first instance. “More than 35,000 US soldiers are stationed in Germany, more than in any other European land,” the document, published on the Bundestag’s website, points out, adding that American military bases are used to further Washington’s “policy of war in the Middle East.”


The lawmakers particularly expressed their outrage over the fact that the German bases are used “in the continuing illegal practice of targeted US assassinations in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” apparently referring to the American use of strike drones. The document also states that the continued presence of American forces on German soil leads to nothing but escalation of an already tense situation with regard to relations with Russia. The MPs also denounced any deployment of American troops to bases in Poland and other Central and Eastern European states, saying that such actions cannot be interpreted as anything but “war preparations.” They also drew attention to the fact that the US troops are being transferred through the territory of the former East Germany, thus violating the spirit of the 1990 ‘2+4’ agreement that facilitated Germany’s reunification ..

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Name the year, always.

European Leaders Agree Brexit Extension To 31 January (BBC)

EU leaders have agreed in principle to extend Brexit until 31 January 2020 – meaning the UK will not leave as planned on Thursday. EU Council President Donald Tusk said it was a “flextension” – meaning the UK could leave before the deadline if a deal was approved by Parliament. It comes as MPs prepare to vote on proposals by Boris Johnson for an early general election on 12 December. The SNP and Lib Dems have also proposed an election on 9 December. The government has not ruled out getting behind that proposed date, if it fails to get its preferred date through the Commons later.

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Huw van Steenis, senior adviser to the CEO of UBS, and formerly senior adviser to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, asks : “..are negative rates starting to do more harm than good..?” He’s a blind man. What good?

Three Things I Learned In Washington (van Steenis)

As the world’s central banks and economic policymakers convened in Washington over the weekend for the annual meetings of the IMF, IIF and World Bank, there was a distinct lack of conviction in the air. “Globally synchronised slowdown”, trade wars, political uncertainty and persistent ultralow interest rates have ground down most investors and policymakers’ belief in the prevailing economic or market narratives. So the most interesting conversations were about transitions and tail risks. What are the long term implications of negative rates? How disruptive is digital money? And what does the greening of the financial system mean in practice? Central banks are wrestling with a major challenge: are negative rates starting to do more harm than good?

Professor Charles Goodhart of the LSE and I fear we may have already have this “reversal rate” in the Eurozone. Like steroids, unconventional policy, such as negative rates, can be highly effective in limited dosages but long term usage starts to weaken the skeletal system. Given that negative rates have been in place for over a quarter of the time that the euro has existed, policymakers are starting to worry about the negative consequences — like impaired banking systems and asset bubbles. I sensed an inflection in the level of concern from two distinct groups: Anglo-Saxon policy makers who simply never want to open the Pandora’s box of negative rates, and European policy makers growing increasingly concerned about the toolkit to break out of the “Japanification” of the eurozone.

What’s more, the penny is dropping that negative rates are hampering the ability of many eurozone banks, aside from the market leaders, to invest confidently in digital technology to serve clients better and fend off the risks from disruptive new entrants. I came away feeling the bar is now incredibly high for any further negative rate cuts. Second, technology is rapidly changing the way we pay for things. Investors know this well from the huge growth in value of Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and Amex, or new firms like Stripe and Ant Financial. Little wonder that payments has become the battleground between Big Tech, existing payments firms and banks. The size of the prize can be huge. Alipay and WeChatPay represent 90% of mobile payments in China.

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John Conyers -RIP- on WikiLeaks in 2010 (back when Joe Biden was declaring Assange a “high-tech terrorist”)