May 212021
 
 May 21, 2021  Posted by at 9:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Herri met de Bles Landscape with Saint Christopher 1535 – 1545

 

Israel-Palestinian Ceasefire Comes Into Force (Y!)
Celebrations In Gaza As Ceasefire Takes Hold (AlJ)
US Arms Makers Make a Killing Off of Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza (MPN)
Existing Cheap Drugs Could Rapidly Reduce Covid-19 Cases, Deaths In India (ToI)
Why Big Pharma’s Arguments Against Patent Waivers Don’t Add Up (CP)
If You Try To Bite Russia, We’ll Knock Out Your Teeth – Putin (RT)
Koch Funded Eviction Push While Buying Real Estate Stakes (DP)
US No Longer Wants To Buy Greenland, Blinken Confirms (G.)
The Squad Enables Pelosi’s Massive Capitol Police Spending Bill (Greenwald)
The Largest Iceberg on Earth Has Just Broken Off of Antarctica (Vice)
Lazy Entitled Boomers Told To Get A Jab (Chaser)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not the US. Not Putin. Egypt.

Israel-Palestinian Ceasefire Comes Into Force (Y!)

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip, came into force early Friday after 11 days of deadly fighting that pounded the Palestinian enclave and forced countless Israelis to seek shelter from rockets. Celebrations were heard on Gaza streets in the minutes after the truce began as cars honked their horns and some guns were fired in the air, AFP journalists said, while in the occupied West Bank, joyful crowds also took to the streets. With no alerts sounding in Israel to warn of incoming Hamas rockets, the ceasefire appeared to be holding in the early hours of Friday. The truce brokered by Egypt, that also included Gaza’s second-most powerful armed group, Islamic Jihad, was agreed following mounting international pressure to stem the bloodshed which erupted on May 10.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the deal. “I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I’m committed to working toward it,” Biden said at the White House, hailing Egypt’s role in brokering the agreement. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the security cabinet had “unanimously accepted the recommendation of all of the security officials … to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without pre-conditions”. Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed the ceasefire in statements. “This is the euphoria of victory,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas figure, in front of a crowd of thousands of Palestinians who had gathered in the streets to celebrate.

The Israeli statement said its aerial campaign had made “unprecedented” achievements in Gaza, a territory it has blockaded since 2007, the year of Hamas’s takeover. “The political leadership emphasises that it is the reality on the ground that will determine the future of the operation,” it added. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he would be “prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to work on improving lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.

Read more …

“At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, have been killed.”

Celebrations In Gaza As Ceasefire Takes Hold (AlJ)

A ceasefire came into force in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday morning after Egypt brokered an agreement between Israel and Hamas to halt 11 days of conflict. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the security cabinet had “unanimously accepted the recommendations to accept an Egyptian initiative for an unconditional … ceasefire.” Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad then confirmed the ceasefire in a statement, saying it would come into force at 2:00am on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday). Thousands of people in Gaza and the Palestinian territories poured onto the streets to celebrate the ceasefire, waving flags and flashing ‘V’ signs for victory. At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, have been killed.

Read more …

US tax dollars pay Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin.

US Arms Makers Make a Killing Off of Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza (MPN)

As diplomatic powers and regional players meet behind closed doors for ceasefire talks, Israel continues showering Gaza with missile fire. Israeli airstrikes have so far killed at least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, and injured 1,710 others. The heavy bombardment has also wiped out entire residential buildings and houses, leaving 72,000 people homeless, and has destroyed media offices, schools, libraries and charities. According to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), on Wednesday night Israel fired 120 missiles in the span of 25 minutes. The most recent attack hit the city of Khan Yunis in Gaza, killing one and injuring eight. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) could not provide an exact number of how many bombs are being dropped on Gaza per hour. The IAF did not respond to press inquiries.

The Times of Gaza, however, reported that more than 100 airstrikes occurred in a 30 minute period on May 14. Amid the rubble, Palestinians in Gaza have found unexploded missiles with writing indicating these bombs were manufactured in the United States. The use of American-made weaponry in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is renewing discussions on U.S. foreign assistance to Israel and U.S. complicity in Israeli state violence. [..] Boeing makes the F-15 fighter jets and Lockheed Martin manufactures F-16 and F-35 warplanes. But these are not the only American corporations involved in the production of Israel’s military aircraft.

General Electric produces the engines for F-15 and F-16 jets. Raytheon Technologies creates the missiles used to arm F-15 and F-35 planes. According to the American Friends Service Committee’s Investigate Database, Northrop Grumman manufactures “approximately 35% of the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft, including its center fuselage, radar, avionics, electro-optics, navigation, communications and identification subsystems, and mission systems and mission-planning software.” The arms manufacturer has also partnered with the Israeli military industry to build the LITENING targeting pod, a weapons laser navigation system used on F-16 warplanes.

Military sales to Israel generate massive profits for these American corporations. Boeing secured a $2.4 billion sale to Israel from the U.S. State Department last year. In February, the aerospace behemoth scored a whopping $9 billion deal with Israel’s Ministry of Defense. In the last decade, Raytheon’s contracts to Israel have totaled more than $4 billion. Lockheed Martin’s most recent sale to Israel is estimated at more than $2 billion. In 2016, General Electric obtained part of a $300 million sale to Israel. Northrop Grumman is less transparent about its international sales. Out of Northrop Grumman’s reported $36.8 billion in sales in 2020, 14 percent were international.

Read more …

India has its back against the wall.

Existing Cheap Drugs Could Rapidly Reduce Covid-19 Cases, Deaths In India (ToI)

The COVID-19 humanitarian calamity unfolding in India is on a scale not seen in this pandemic. This is an extraordinary situation – and it may benefit from an extraordinary response. There exist affordable, readily available and minimally toxic drugs approved for non-COVID-19 use which show remarkable promise in preventing or treating the new coronavirus. Deploying these drugs in India is likely to rapidly reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, reduce the number requiring hospitalization, supplemental oxygen and intensive care and improve outcomes in hospitalized patients. Some of these drugs are being tested in large-scale randomized clinical trials in the US and abroad but in most cases, definitive efficacy data is pending. With the current COVID-19 situation in India, we do not have time to wait for results of these studies.

Importantly, currently available safety and outcomes data on these drugs is strong enough that it is time to incorporate them into national practice guidelines. Indian authorities should issue such guidelines on the most promising drugs for each stage of COVID-19. By so doing, physicians will be encouraged to use these interventions. The resulting real world data from a few healthcare settings in select cities should be tracked in real time and guidelines suitably revised. If such measures were adopted, we could see effects in 3-4 weeks. This strategy might be unusual but it is not unheard of: France has the Temporary Recommendation for Use, a “regulatory instrument which aims to allow, on a temporary basis, the use of a medicinal product to allow its effectiveness to be evaluated on the basis of its use.”

The choice of drugs is critical. We have worked closely with personnel at the Food and Drug Administration and have connected with the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the merits of repurposed drugs. Based on a mechanistic rationale, data in animal models, human retrospective analyses, clinical trials (some randomized, others not) and anecdotal human data, we created a prioritized list of interventions that hold the greatest promise and that could be deployed at scale. For instance, there is strong data from a randomized trial and a real-world study that administering fluvoxamine sharply reduces the need for hospitalization in COVID-19 outpatients. Moreover, anecdotal unpublished data in over 400 acutely ill COVID-19 patients from several community practitioners suggests that administering fluvoxamine and ivermectin together may be even more efficacious.

Intervention as early as possible after symptom onset is key. Ivermectin is already listed as a “MAY DO” on the ICMR and Indian government guidelines for treatment of acute mild COVID-19 and we suggest that fluvoxamine be added in this category. Also, ivermectin in the prophylactic setting merits serious consideration. For the hospitalized, there are treatments currently used for other conditions that might reduce the need for ventilator support and lower the risk of death. These include inhaled adenosine, cyproheptadine and dipyridamole. For ideas for which there is rather limited human data, the government should offer pre-approved pilot protocols and funding for rapid implementation in select centers rather than issue a recommendation for use.

Read more …

It’s Bill Gates again.

Why Big Pharma’s Arguments Against Patent Waivers Don’t Add Up (CP)

Days after he publicly opposed the waiving of patents for lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates had a change of heart. He released a statement saying, “No barriers should stand in the way of equitable access to vaccines, including intellectual property, which is why we are supportive of a narrow waiver during the pandemic.” His statement came after President Joe Biden, in a surprising move, and in contrast to his European allies, backed a temporary waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement saying, “extraordinary circumstances… call for extraordinary measures.” Immediately, the big drugmakers’ share prices fell, and they shot back in anger with a litany of dire predictions.

Gates had been singing a different tune just a few weeks earlier, expressing opposition to vaccine patent waivers when he said in an interview, “The thing that’s holding things back in this case is not intellectual property. There’s not like some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines.” Gates’ initial opposition echoes the pharmaceutical industry’s staunch resistance to waiving the intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccine technology. In a letter to the Biden administration, members of an industry group called Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) wrote, “Eliminating those protections would undermine the global response to the pandemic, including ongoing effort to tackle new variants, create confusion that could potentially undermine public confidence in vaccine safety, and create a barrier to information sharing.”

The signatories added, “Most importantly, eliminating protections would not speed up production.” Walden Bello, co-founder of the advocacy organization Focus on the Global South and an international adjunct professor at SUNY Binghamton, told me in an interview from Manila, Philippines, that “these arguments are really quite spurious.” Bello had penned an opinion column in the New York Times saying, “A short-term Trips waiver would allow developing nations to quickly ramp up vaccine production and save lives at an affordable cost.” The demand for vaccine patent waivers originated in October 2020 when the governments of India and South Africa proposed a temporary suspension of the World Trade Organization’s 1995 TRIPS agreement. Now, more than 100 nations support the call. TRIPS stands for the “Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights,” and for years has been a boon to corporations that have manufactured products with the help of public investment and reaped massive profits through the 20-year monopolies that the agreement grants them.

Read more …

“As one of our emperors said, ‘Our enormity terrifies everybody,’” Putin added..”

If You Try To Bite Russia, We’ll Knock Out Your Teeth – Putin (RT)

President Vladimir Putin has issued a fiery rebuke to those who, he says, are intent on bringing about the breakup of the world’s largest country, insisting that Russia will defend itself from potential interference from overseas. In a speech on Tuesday to the ‘Victory’ organizing committee, which is responsible for memorializing those killed in the Second World War, the Russian leader claimed that “everyone wants to bite us somewhere, or to bite something off of us.” If or when this happens, he said the country will “knock out the teeth” of those who try. He said that Russia’s size and its natural resources meant that rivals would always find reasons to attempt to clip its wings as it grew stronger. “As one of our emperors said, ‘Our enormity terrifies everybody,’” Putin added. The full quote, attributed to Tsar Alexander III, claims this is the reason that “Russia has no friends.”


The president went on to criticize those who claim that the country’s natural resources – much of them in lumber, minerals and energy reserves in the vast expanses of Siberia – should not belong to one country alone. “It’s strange to hear these things, especially in public, but they sometimes come up,” he said. Russian officials have repeatedly attributed a quote to former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, in which she purportedly claimed that “the colossal natural resources of Siberia should not belong to Russia alone.” However, there is no clear evidence that Albright said this, and she herself has denied that these were her words. However, the idea that Russia could disintegrate or be broken up has been a longstanding concern within the country, with some Western analysts arguing in favor of the idea.

Read more …

“..since 2012, “its affiliated funds have acquired and operated more than 30,000 homes.”

Koch Funded Eviction Push While Buying Real Estate Stakes (DP)

Billionaire Charles Koch’s foundation has bankrolled three conservative legal groups leading the court battle to eliminate prohibitions against tenant evictions during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, Koch’s corporate empire has suddenly stepped up its real estate purchases during the pandemic — including making large investments in real estate companies with a potential financial interest in eliminating eviction restrictions. In the last few months, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the New Civil Rights Alliance have been pushing federal courts to strike down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, which is designed to protect millions of Americans from being thrown out of their homes during the pandemic. The groups have so far won two rulings.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Charles Koch Foundation contributed almost $7.7 million to those three conservative organizations, according to the foundation’s tax returns reviewed by The Daily Poster. Koch has been among the biggest financiers of conservative advocacy groups and political causes, and he is one of the wealthiest people on the planet thanks to his stake in Koch Industries, which is the nation’s second-largest privately held company and best known for its investments in fossil fuels. But since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Koch Industries has been plowing money into real estate. In March this year, The Wall Street Journal published a report headlined “Charles Koch Is Betting Big on Distressed Real Estate.”

The paper reported that the billionaire’s corporate conglomerate “is emerging as a major real-estate investor during the pandemic, using its robust cash reserves to buy properties at beaten-down prices and betting on a longer-term recovery.” Last April, a month into the pandemic, Koch Real Estate Investments made a “$200 million preferred-equity investment in Amherst Holdings LLC’s single-family rental business,” according to the corporate law firm Jones Day, which said it advised the Koch Industries subsidiary on the deal. Amherst says that since 2012, “its affiliated funds have acquired and operated more than 30,000 homes.”

Read more …

Must have been a very slow news day.

US No Longer Wants To Buy Greenland, Blinken Confirms (G.)

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has confirmed that America no longer wants to buy Greenland. Blinken visited the Danish autonomous territory as he ended a four-day trip that included a meeting of the foreign ministers of countries bordering the Arctic. “I am in Greenland because the United States deeply values our partnership and wants to make it even stronger,” Antony Blinken told reporters on his final stop of the Arctic tour. He stressed that he was not there to buy the country, signalling a change in policy from the Trump administration. Asked whether the US had definitively ruled out any plans to buy Greenland, Blinken replied with a smile: “I can confirm that’s correct.”

Former US President Donald Trump announced in August 2019 that he was considering buying the land mass, which is a quarter of the size of the US. “Denmark essentially owns it,” he said at the time. “We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly I’d be.’ Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No1 on the burner, I can tell you that.” The purchase would be “essentially a large real estate deal”, he said at the time. Trump’s proposal, described as “absurd” by the Danish government, caused a diplomatic kerfuffle.

Last year, the US reopened a consulate in Greenland’s capital Nuuk, and pledged $12m in aid for civilian projects. While he spoke of potential additional funding, Blinken was vague about new US projects, even though the new Greenlandic local government had floated the idea of a free trade agreement earlier in the week. “We would like to find ways to strengthen even more the commercial relationship,” Blinken said.

Read more …

“Three Squad members — all of whom recently chanted “Defund the Police” – all had the power to kill a $1.9 billion increase in Capitol Police and security spending. Instead, @AOC, @JamaalBowmanNY and @RashidaTlaib ensured its passage.”

The Squad Enables Pelosi’s Massive Capitol Police Spending Bill (Greenwald)

By a margin of one vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that allocates $1.9 billion to intensify security and increase policing at the U.S. Capitol. Among other things, the bill would boost armed security for members of Congress, fortify security protections at the Capitol, provide funds in “reimbursement” to the National Guard, and increase funding for the Capitol Police. A small portion of it would provide counseling services to Capitol Police officers dealing with trauma. The 213-212 vote was a party line vote with six exceptions. All Republicans voted against it. All Democrats voted for the bill except for six. Three members of the left-wing faction of the House known as the “Squad” joined their GOP colleagues to vote against the bill: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).

But the other three members of the Squad — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — voted neither “yes” nor “no” but rather “present.” All six had previously told activist groups that they opposed the bill. Had any of these three Squad members voted “no” instead of “present,” then the bill would have been defeated. In other words, this faction of the Squad had the power fully in their hands to block passage of a bill that would increase police funding and enhance the power of the security state to prevent the public from entering the U.S. Capitol: a bill they claimed to oppose. But they chose not to use that power and instead allowed this pro-police, pro-security-state bill to pass the House.

It now heads to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to bring it to a floor vote, though it remains uncertain if they will be able to find ten Republican Senators needed for it to pass the Senate and be sent to the White House for signing. There are several amazing aspects to this episode. To begin with, all three Squad members who abstained today on this bill — which effectively ensured its passage — have spent the last year chanting and tweeting that the police should be defunded. [..] In the summer of 2020, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez left no doubt about what she favors when she invokes this mantra: “Defunding police means defunding police,” she said. The Congresswoman was criticizing cuts to New York City’s police budget as insufficient and the byproduct of accounting tricks rather than real defunding efforts.

And yet, what do we have today? When it comes to their own security, these three Squad members are evidently eager for close to $2 billion to be spent in additional funds to increase the police presence around them and fortify the armed guards and other security state mechanisms that protect them. This is always a key point of “Defund the Police” campaigns.

Read more …

70 times the size of Manhattan.

The Largest Iceberg on Earth Has Just Broken Off of Antarctica (Vice)

The largest iceberg on Earth, measuring over 100 miles across 15 miles wide, has just broken off of Antarctica. Named A7-6, the gigantic iceberg was calved from the southern continent’s Ronne Ice Shelf and is now floating across the Weddell Sea. The huge chunk of ice was first spotted by Keith Makinson of the British Antarctic Survey last week, and has been imaged from space by the Copernicus-Sentinel-1 mission, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). A-76 has a rectangular shape similar to Manhattan Island, though it is about 70 times bigger.


The structure has snatched the mantle of the world’s largest iceberg from A-23A, its neighbor in the Weddell Sea, which is about 10 percent smaller. Icebergs are named after their quadrant of origin, in this case A, and then given sequential numbers. These enormous floating ice structures break off of Antarctic ice sheets as part of a natural seasonal cycle, and scientists have not linked the birth of A-76 directly to climate change. However, warming global temperatures may accelerate the collapse of some of Antarctica’s ice sheets in the future.

Read more …

”Put down the avocado toast, be a grown up and get a vaccine!”

Lazy Entitled Boomers Told To Get A Jab (Chaser)

Young people around the country have been seen telling Boomers to put down the avocado toast, stop being so entitled and go out and get a jab. This comes after research suggests nearly 30% of Australians are now hesitant to get the life saving vaccine over a blood-clotting risk potentially high as 0.0017%, which has led to the Boomer generation to be way to ‘choosy’ about which vaccine to have. Now young people have had enough and have told the lazy Boomers to ‘go out an get a vaccine, any of the vaccines are better than nothing.’ “Have you bothered to go get a vaccine yet?” said Mike a 26 year old after getting home from trying to find an entry level job that doesn’t require 5+ years of experience in the field and a degree.

“All you do is sit around watching tv. Put down the avocado toast, be a grown up and get a vaccine! I don’t care if it isn’t your dream vaccine, it is at least a vaccine that works. Go now, it’s for your own good.” “Classic old people they are just so entitled these days,” said Lauren a 20 year old full time-student who also has 2 jobs so she can pay her bills, “they just expect everything to be handed to them. They have been spoiled their entire lives and now they refuse to do anything for themselves. Growing up with these cheap houses meaning rent money is just handed to them, it’s made them so selfish and lazy. You know in my day, we have to go out and find a roommate to be able to afford rent in a run-down 1 bedroom apartment, but we do because we know what is important.”

“First the housing market and now vaccines, they just hoard everything for themselves even if they don’t actually want to use it. What a selfish and rude generation they are!”

Read more …

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Mar 052021
 
 March 5, 2021  Posted by at 10:29 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Landscape with House and Ploughman 1889

 

Covid Vaccine Ads Aim To Influence Without Alienating People (G.)
Does Social Solidarity Only Count When It Gets Us Back To The Pub? (Cook)
eBay Bans Sale Of Some Dr. Seuss Books (DW)
WHO Inspectors ‘To Scrap Interim Report’ On Probe Of COVID Origin (AlJ)
Majority of Brits Say They Will “Miss” Some or Many Aspects of Lockdown (SN)
Capitol Police Requests National Guard Past March 12 (F.)
White House Weighs Minimum Wage Negotiations With Republicans (Pol.)
How To Stop The Manchin Presidency And Raise The Minimum Wage (DP)
Brexit: EU To Launch Legal Proceedings Against UK ‘Very Soon’ (G.)
Michael Brown’s Father, Ferguson Activists Demand $20M From BLM (NYP)
Almost A Full Year of Tomorrows (Snider)
The Appalling Death Of An Extremely Strange Genius (Taibbi)
71kg of Waste Found In Stray Indian Cow’s Stomach (Y!)
Estimated 9 Billion Already Dead From Texas Mask Mandate Reversal (BBee)

 

 

Bit of a strange news day, it seems incoherent, maybe that’s just me. What I do notice is the increasing pressure to promote vaccines, as in this:

Washington Post: The anti-vaccine movement is comparable to domestic terrorism, and must be treated that way

Pfizer not only gets governments to first fund research, then purchase billions of doses, it now also gets them to pay for their advertizing.

They’ll shame and threaten you for asking questions about untested substances, and call you anti-vaxxers.

 

 

 

 

“In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

Who’s doing the denying here?

Covid Vaccine Ads Aim To Influence Without Alienating People (G.)

In England, the NHS signed up Elton John and Michael Caine for a lighthearted social media campaign aiming to convince the public that Covid vaccines are safe and effective. In Germany, a more sober public information campaign has been led by a virologist and health workers. And in France and elsewhere there have been no mass campaigns aimed at driving up vaccine acceptance. Government attempts to drive up vaccine acceptance will come under increasing scrutiny in the coming months as more jabs are made available. Public health experts say they have to walk a fine line between boosting trust and not being seen to force the jab on the public.

Germany’s campaign, called Germany Pulls Up Its Sleeves, has run across radio, regional newspapers and billboard posters. At a time when the public is being urged to stay at home and avoid commuting, the health ministry chose to spend more than half of its €25m campaign budget on outdoor advertising. A new campaign aimed at spreading confidence among younger people is due to launch when the vaccine becomes more widely available. In France there has been no major mass information campaign. Instead, the prime minister, Jean Castex, the health minister, Olivier Véran, and the country’s “Monsieur Vaccin”, Prof Alain Fischer, who is overseeing the programme, give weekly televised press conferences to update on progress and announce when different groups will be eligible for a shot.

In the US, the federal government is holding off on a nationwide push to raise awareness until vaccine supply increases, and is instead focusing its efforts on vaccine-hesitant minority communities. “When it comes to shifting attitudes to vaccines, it is crucial to distinguish between public information campaigns that seek to educate the public and those that seek to persuade them,” said Philipp Schmid, a behavioural scientist researching vaccine scepticism at the University of Erfurt. “In Germany at least, the latter would risk a backlash. But if you don’t proactively tackle the problem at all, you end up playing catch-up with the anti-vaxxers. In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

Read more …

Jonathan Cook gets a bit lost in this very long piece. But he means well. And the Dr. Seuss is a great find.

Does Social Solidarity Only Count When It Gets Us Back To The Pub? (Cook)

For decades our societies have worshipped a single value with two faces: money and power. But we are suddenly being told by the very people who atomised our communities, who created an economic system of dog eat dog, who wrecked the planet with their greed – the people who made a religion of neoliberal orthodoxy – that we must trust that they have our best interests at heart during the pandemic. They cared not one whit for the common good until now. But suddenly, after many months of economic contraction, when corporations finally have a chance to make a quick buck again – either by producing and selling vaccines to desperate governments and their populations or by demanding a hurried return to business as usual through enforced vaccination programmes – the corporations and their dutiful servants in the media and political class are shocked that some of the public, those most betrayed, are indicating a lack of “trust”.

Nick Cohen offers an interesting survey result: “In Birmingham – the only city to have produced detailed statistics – just 60% of people over 80 accepted the jab in Alum Rock, a deprived and racially mixed part of the inner city, while 95% accepted it in Sutton Four Oaks, an overwhelmingly white commuter suburb.” Why would that be? Why would affluent white people whom the system has always favoured be quicker to trust a system that cared for them than the poor and ethnic minorities who have always been treated with contempt by that system? To ask the question is to answer it. Affluent liberals like Cohen understand that too. Which is why they hope to revive social controls that tightly police or censor information not to their liking, leaving them once again with exclusive rights to tell the poor and marginalised what constitutes the truth, to define for them what is in their interests.

An alien studying western societies from the heavens for the past half-century could better explain the problem than Cohen. People are being asked to trust the corporate medicine industry, the corporate media and the politicians dependent on the good will of profit-obsessed corporations to decide what is best for us, to believe that this time the corporate elite won’t take short cuts, that they won’t conceal information, that they won’t cause harm, that they won’t externalise the costs on to us, the public. That this time it will be different.

These are exactly the same corporations and their functionaries who in the past destroyed manufacturing industries that were the lifeblood of now-decimated communities; that approved the intensified militarisation of institutionally racist and corrupt police forces, turning them into domestic armies; and that are engaged in ransacking and destroying the planet on which we all depend.

Read more …

We do not ban nor burn books.

eBay still sells Mein Kampf.

eBay Bans Sale Of Some Dr. Seuss Books (DW)

On Thursday, reports surfaced that eBay, the online auction and shopping website, had blocked the sale of certain Dr. Seuss books. One eBay lister received the following response: “We had to remove your listing because it didn’t follow our Offensive material policy. Listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination aren’t allowed. What activity didn’t follow the policy[:] Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped the publication of this book due to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities. As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no negative impact to your account. Please review our Offensive Materials Policy prohibits this item for more information. What you need to do next. You can’t relist items we’ve ended. Please ensure your current and future listings follow this policy.

[..] In light of the fact that books such as “Mein Kampf” can be offered on eBay while some Dr. Seuss books are banned, it is important to examine what the company’s Offensive materials policy states: Listings that promote, perpetuate or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination, including on the grounds of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation, aren’t allowed. This includes but is not limited to the following: • Slurs or epithets of any kind • Slavery items, including reproductions, such as tags, shackles, documents, bills of sale, etc. • Items with racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise demeaning portrayals, for example through caricatures or other exaggerated features, including figurines, cartoons, housewares, historical advertisements, and golliwogs • Black Americana items that are discriminatory •Confederate battle flag and related items with its image • Historical Holocaust-related and Nazi-related items, including reproductions • Any item that is anti-Semitic or any item from after 1933 that bears a swastika • Media identified as Nazi propaganda • Listings that imply or promote support of, membership in, or funding of a terrorist organization

This week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press that the books “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” portrayed “people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” adding, “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.” “Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” the company continued. “We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.”

Read more …

Running down the clock.

WHO Inspectors ‘To Scrap Interim Report’ On Probe Of COVID Origin (AlJ)

A World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new inquiry, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. “The full report is expected in coming weeks,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters news agency. No further information was immediately available about the reasons for the delay in publishing the findings of the WHO-led mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were detected in late 2019.

In an open letter (PDF), a group of 26 scientists called on Thursday for a new international inquiry. They claim that “structural limitations” made it “all but impossible” for the WHO mission to adequately pursue its investigation. Among other issues, the scientists questioned the scientific independence of the “Chinese citizens” composing half of the team. “We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses – whether natural spillover or laboratory/research related incident,” read the letter.

China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to a WHO-led team investigating the origins of the pandemic, Dominic Dwyer, one of the team’s investigators, said last month, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began. The investigation had been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research. The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak, was limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and prevented from contact with community members, due to health restrictions. The first two weeks were spent in hotel quarantine.

Read more …

Doesn’t say which aspects.

Majority of Brits Say They Will “Miss” Some or Many Aspects of Lockdown (SN)

A new opinion poll in the UK finds that over half of Brits say they will miss either “some” or “many” aspects of lockdown despite the country now having been under some form of restrictions for nearly a year. Yes, really. The YouGov survey asked participants, “Do you think you will or will not miss any aspects of lockdown when it is over?” 9 per cent of respondents said they would miss “many” aspects of lockdown while 46 per cent said they would miss “some” aspects of lockdown – a combined total of 55 per cent. Just 39 per cent of respondents said they won’t miss any aspects of lockdown.


Previous polls have routinely showed majority or plurality support for lockdown, with little concern for what innumerable observers have called the biggest imposition on civil liberties in British history. One aspect that many will “miss” about lockdown is undoubtedly getting paid for doing nothing. Under the government’s furlough scheme, those who can’t work from home have had 80 per cent of their wages covered by the state for almost a year, with that program to be extended until September despite the government saying all restrictions will be lifted by the end of June. The prospect of having to work for their money will become a reality for some once again soon, although not for all given that the UK’s economy contracted the most in 300 years as a result of the lockdown, leading to 726,000 job losses.

Read more …

Biden’s entire presidency under siege.

Capitol Police Requests National Guard Past March 12 (F.)

The U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday asked the Pentagon to keep National Guard troops stationed at the Capitol past March 12 – the date at which they are scheduled to depart, citing a 93% increase in threats to lawmakers this year. In a statement, the Capitol Police announced that acting Cchief Yogananda Pittman “formally asked the Department of Defense to extend the support provided by the National Guard.” The statement didn’t specify the length of time for which the Guard troops have been requested, though multiple outlets reported Pittman wants them for an additional 60 days. The statement noted Pittman’s testimony in a House appropriations subcommittee hearing that “threats to members are up 93% during the first two months of this year” compared to 2020.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), the chair of that committee, credited the National Guard presence in part for his belief that a Jan. 6-style attack on the Capitol could now be effectively dealt with. The statement noted the Pentagon “takes its mission seriously and will do whatever is necessary to achieve that mission,” adding that the Capitol Police is “extremely grateful” for their support. Thousands of National Guard troops have been stationed in and around the Capitol since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in which Trump supporters stormed Capitol Police and attempted to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory. “We understand the Guard has a tremendous service need back home responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement concluded.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the request for an extension is “an outrage,” according to pool reports. “That’s not their function, that’s not their mission. They cannot do it,” he said, claiming it’s “destroying careers of people.”

Read more …

He promised.

White House Weighs Minimum Wage Negotiations With Republicans (Pol.)

The White House is weighing whether to engage in talks with Republicans on a minimum wage hike once Congress passes its Covid relief bill, two sources with knowledge of their strategic thinking say. White House aides said they believe there’s room to bring Republicans into the fold because raising the minimum wage is popular across ideological grounds. They pointed to the recent $15-an-hour wage increase passed in Florida, a state that voted for Donald Trump, as evidence that the issue has widespread support. In a sign that the White House is looking to broaden the coalition behind a wage hike, administration officials reached out to trade groups last week to gauge their willingness to support legislation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Negotiations with Republicans would be another step entirely. And it would likely frustrate progressives and raise alarms among labor and advocacy groups who are looking to Biden to make good on his promise to deliver a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Progressives argue that a phased-in $15 floor over five years is already a compromise and would likely oppose any deal that would go significantly lower. “They don’t want to blow up the world politically and pay a huge political cost, but if the politics aligned for a smaller increase, Joe Biden generally wants to get deals done,” said a source with knowledge of the administration’s thinking. The White House is “not doctrinaire on policy grounds about what it is they sign” the source added.

Cedric Richmond, a White House senior adviser, would only say that the administration is “exploring all options,” and that internal deliberations were still in the preliminary stages. “It’s still early in the game,” Richmond said. “This is not the point where you lay your whole strategy out for the world to see.”

Read more …

Oh sure, let’s pretend that Manchin keeps Biden from keeping his promises.

How To Stop The Manchin Presidency And Raise The Minimum Wage (DP)

For the last week, Americans paying attention to politics have learned an important truth: Joe Biden may live in the White House, but conservative Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is effectively president. This depressing reality can certainly be fixed, but only if progressive Democrats in Congress are willing to actually change the dynamic — and they have a rare opportunity to do that right now by using their power to raise the minimum wage. But so far, they aren’t choosing to use their power — which is a huge structural problem not just now, but also for the foreseeable future. Some have argued that the way to fix this situation is by ending the filibuster, but that’s a catch-22: It is absolutely a necessary reform, but President Manchin is pledging to veto it.

Even if Democrats were to eliminate the filibuster, they would still need Manchin’s stamp of approval for virtually all legislation, given the Senate’s current 50-50 split. The way to fix this dynamic is for a decisive number of House Democrats or Democratic senators to make clear, line-in-the-sand demands, and demonstrate they will vote down Democratic legislation that does not honor those demands. And they must do this specifically on must-pass legislation for which Biden can find zero GOP votes. That is the way to force Biden to stop pretending he has no agency and instead motivate him to use the overwhelming power of the executive branch to press the conservative wing of the party to back down. It is also the way to get Manchin himself to negotiate — right now, he gets to operate with impunity because there is no counterforce.

The COVID relief bill provides progressives this game-changing opportunity, and in the process they can heroically deliver not on some unimportant issue or tangential agenda item — but instead on the crucial cause of delivering a desperately needed higher minimum wage to millions of Americans. The debate over the legislation also gives the public a way to see whether self-identified progressive heroes are as serious about actually using power as President Manchin is. We can see this opportunity in the current wrangling over a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, where Manchin has successfully pressured the executive branch to support further limiting eligibility for survival checks, devising a phase-out policy so absurdly punitive that even reliably partisan Democratic pundits and centrist think tank wonks can’t support it. The payments — which are $1,400 instead of the $2,000 people were promised — will likely now go to 17 million fewer people than the last round of checks under Donald Trump, as a result of Manchin’s handiwork.

Read more …

Boris: “I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable..”

Brexit: EU To Launch Legal Proceedings Against UK ‘Very Soon’ (G.)

Brussels has warned it will launch legal action “very soon” following a move by the UK to unilaterally delay implementation of part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. The European commission vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, said the announcement by the government on Wednesday had come as a “very negative surprise”. David Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, said the UK was extending a series of “grace periods” designed to ease trade between Northern Ireland – which remains in the EU single market for goods – and Great Britain while permanent arrangements are worked out. It provoked a furious response in Brussels, with the EU accusing Britain of going back on its treaty obligations in the Brexit withdrawal agreement intended to ensure there is no return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.


In an interview with the Financial Times, Sefcovic – who is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement – said the European commission was now working on “infringement proceedings” against the UK. “We are currently preparing it and it would be really something coming to our table very soon. The most precise term I can give you is really very soon,” he said. His warning came after Boris Johnson had sought to play down the dispute, saying the government was simply taking some “temporary and technical measures” to ensure that trade kept flowing. “I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable,” he said on Thursday.

Read more …

Where is that money?

Michael Brown’s Father, Ferguson Activists Demand $20M From BLM (NYP)

The father of Michael Brown and other activists from Ferguson, Missouri, are demanding financial support from Black Lives Matter after the organization revealed it raised over $90 million last year. Michael Brown Sr., whose son was fatally shot by a white police officer in August 2014, along with the other activists who helped propel the movement, want $20 million from the group to help their community. “Where is all that money going?” Brown Sr. asked in a Tuesday press release from the International Black Freedom Alliance. “How could you leave the families who are helping the community without any funding?”


The police shooting of Michael Brown sparked months of unrest in Ferguson and helped solidify the national Black Lives Matter movement. “We’re not asking for a handout, but for the funding to keep the movement strong where it began,” said Tory Russell, a Ferguson activist and co-founder of the International Black Freedom Alliance. The funds in Ferguson would be used in part to build a community center in honor of Michael Brown, the press release said. Last month the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation shared its funding numbers in an impact report first provided to the Associated Press.

Read more …

Alhambra’s Jeffrey Snider says deflation.

Almost A Full Year of Tomorrows (Snider)

The ISM reported its manufacturing index at highs on Monday, then today releases its non-manufacturing headline falling sharply. The result is an odd appendage to post-2008 history where these sentiment indicators are concerned; they are upside down to the usual configuration when it’s been more likely manufacturing suffers while services are to a greater extent immune to each successive suppressing downturn influence. The most notable aspect of the non-manufacturing index has to be the specific segments most responsible for the sharp decline. The overall number had been relatively flat/sideways stuck around 57 or 58 going back to last June; and had bumped up slightly to 58.7 for January 2021 as government money hit the stores. The February reading instead comes back to 55.3, the lowest since the earliest days of reopening.

Not only that, around 55 places the number into the same context as mid-2019 (or early 2016) when the US economy, like the rest of the world, was facing increasingly serious downturn pressures. Its employment subcomponent had indicated a contrary bump up in hiring of late (when compared to the more austere rebound in payroll estimates for these same few months) that likewise fell back in February. The subindex had reached 55.2 in January, the highest since late 2019 (so, not that impressive) only to decline to 52.7 last month.

New Orders, these apparently plummeted for reasons that aren’t well explained at the moment. Not only have COVID restrictions increasingly been removed, vaccines plus two full months of that $600 helicopter drop should’ve (if you believe in these things) produced more than a single January effect (as in retail sales). As for the ISM, forward-indicated orders in the service sector crashed by very nearly an even ten points (-9.9). As of this February figure, the New Orders index stands at just 51.9, which, outside of last April and May, isn’t close to anything since 2016’s Euro$ #3 bottoming out.

This is made all the more unsettling given the similar direction and intensity in Chinese sentiment of late. As if determined to further corroborate this interpretation, private payroll processing firm ADP reports also today another serious shortfall in the employment rebound. First, the series had undergone benchmark revisions which stripped a few hundred thousand jobs from the series (meaning they probably never happened) and then reported that for the month of February private payrolls gained just 117,000 last month (compared to revised +195,000 in January and Economist expectations for about the same). Around one hundred thousand would have been considered an alarmingly weak month before 2020; in this situation with the labor market struggling to gain any momentum, it’s yet another contrary signal (deflation, rather than the other one).

Read more …

“..grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches…”

The Appalling Death Of An Extremely Strange Genius (Taibbi)

I turned fifty-one this week. Terror of age is becoming a key comic subtext of my life. The first line of a novel I tried to write recently read, He looked in the mirror and shrieked. There’s a scene in Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat where the hero, a dim and nervous clerk named Akaky Akakievich, goes to the tailor to try to patch up his ancient greatcoat. It’s coming apart at the seams, the victim of St. Petersburg’s relentless winters and too many years of service. Akaky asks for one last repair job, but the merciless tailor Petrovich, having laid the coat out on a table, quickly pronounces the patient dead. “No, it can’t be repaired, the wretched garment,” he snaps. Akaky, in denial, tries to protest: it’s just a bit worn on the shoulders! Petrovich cuts him off. “The stuff is rotten, if you put a needle in it, it would give way.” “Let it give way, but you must patch it,” counters Akaky. “There is nothing to put a patch on,” Petrovich says, and Akaky recoils in horror, grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches.


Gogol, my childhood hero, died 169 years ago today, on March 4, 1852. Fitting for him, it might have been the most preposterously horrific act of self-destruction in literary history.Gogol was a genius, but a peculiar and probably very unpleasant kind. If Mozart came out of the womb hearing symphonies, the baby born in Sorochintsy, Ukraine in 1809 had a different fate. It was as if God whacked him with a shovel, locking his brain in the moment of hearing the funniest joke ever told. That may sound wonderful, but there’s a reason we eventually have to stop laughing — it hurts. The line between hilarity and terror is a thin one, as people who drop acid find out all the time. Gogol was a depressive who cheered himself up by imagining the funniest situations possible, but his gift in that area was so prodigious that he ultimately scared himself to death.

Read more …

“The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life.”

71kg of Waste Found In Stray Indian Cow’s Stomach (Y!)

Indian vets have extracted 71 kilograms (156.5 pounds) of plastic, nails and other garbage from a pregnant cow, but both the animal and her baby died. The case has highlighted the country’s twin problems of pollution and stray cattle. An estimated five million cows roam India’s cities, with many gorging on the vast amounts of plastic litter on the streets. This cow was rescued after a road accident in late February by the People For Animals Trust Faridabad. A vet soon noticed the pregnant bovine was struggling. In a four-hour operation on February 21, vets found nails, plastic, marbles and other garbage in its stomach, said trust president Ravi Dubay.


They also attempted a premature delivery. “The baby did not have enough space to grow in her mother’s belly so she died,” Dubay told AFP. Three days later, the cow also died. “In my 13 years of experience, this is the most garbage we have taken from a cow… we had to use muscle power to get it all out,” Dubay said. Previous surgeries done by the organisation based in the northern Indian state of Haryana have found up to 50 kilograms of waste in cows’ stomachs. “The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life. In every corner in every city they eat the waste,” Dubay added.

Read more …

The horror!

Estimated 9 Billion Already Dead From Texas Mask Mandate Reversal (BBee)

We were warned. Only one day after Texas succumbed to neanderthal thinking and reversed the mask mandate, experts reported an estimated 9 billion people around the world have already died as a direct result of this foolish action. “We estimate there are now negative 1.3 billion people alive,” said one expert solemnly. “We’ve never had a negative number like that before. Shucks– I’m not even alive anymore, come to think of it. Sad.” Scientists have followed the science very scientifically to determine this catastrophic end to all human life on Earth immediately began after Governor Greg Abbott called his press conference, announcing his plan to literally murder everyone by not making them wear t-shirt fabric on their faces.


“Too bad, humanity had a good run,” said another expert, who is also dead now. “That’s what we get for electing Republicans. Hopefully, humanity learned its lesson.” The expert, who was literally dead from the Texas mask mandate reversal, then joined his friends at the local bar for some beers.

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Mar 042021
 


J.J. Grandville ‘A Comet’s Journey’, Illustration from ‘Un Autre Monde’ 1844

 

It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)
Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)
COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)
Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)
Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)
A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)
When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)
No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)
Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)
Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)

 

 

So many articles today, I’ll put up a separate Covid Rattle shortly here: Covid Rattle March 4 2021.

 

 

“Tucker every once in a while has a segment that just completely knocks it out of the park.This is one of those times.”
Tucker Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

Excess savings, sure, but only among the rich. Who don’t spend it.

 

 

“..the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018..”

It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)

[..] we desperately need wealth redistribution. And before anyone starts yelling something about Joseph Stalin, here’s the part that’s going to blow your mind — in the United States we’ve already had wealth redistribution for decades. Fifty trillion dollars has been redistributed from the poorest Americans to the top one percent over the past several decades. That’s right, a new study shows the richest people in the world have stolen trillions from average Americans. To put this in easier to access terms — you know how mad you get when someone takes the last donut? Well, imagine that multiplied by 50 trillion. (Quick reminder: If you make $40,000 a year, it would take you 1.25 Billion years to make $50 trillion.)

The new study reveals, “…that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020.” And to be clear, this money has been stolen from nearly every American. Had income distribution and buying power remained the same as it was from the end of World War II to 1975, ” . . . the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is … enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.”

The richest people in America are pilfering over $1,100 from you personally and everyone you know every single month of every single year. Just imagine what each living soul in America could do with an extra $13,700 per year — how many people that would feed, how much less stressful their lives would be, how many fewer foreclosures there would be, and how many more people would get the healthcare they need. Yet every time the most modest tax increases are proposed on the richest Americans, or every time someone so much as mumbles about putting in a public jungle gym or putting in filters to take the metal chunks out of the water or fixing the holes in our bridges that are bigger than the ones in Maria Bartiromo’s head — every time someone brings up these common sense solutions, the elites of our society (who own the media outlets and the levers of the state and the law enforcement and the courts) start screaming from their wine-soaked ski resort orgy balconies, “That’s wealth redistribution! That’s class war!”

Read more …

Sure they’ll all vote for him again.

Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)

During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples.


The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more “targeted.” In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won’t, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn’t qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion.

Read more …

So the states get what their citizens can’t.

COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)

Joe Biden is giving so much money to states as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that they’re set to receive approximately six times more money than estimated tax revenue shortfalls across the country, according to Bloomberg. While the package carves out nearly $200 billion for state governments, the cumulative tax revenues which have disappeared in the current fiscal year are just $31 billion. “In other words, that money could make up for that loss and be plowed back into states’ economies, such as their own version of relief checks, infrastructure projects and more, depending on the federal guidelines around the aid.”

In short – states, assuming they don’t squander the funds (who are we kidding?), could play a pivotal role in accelerating the recovery – assuming the money actually stimulates jobs and/or ends up in the hands of consumers. The funds would also allow for the unwinding of various budgetary cuts which began last March, and are responsible for the elimination of more than 1.3 million state and local government jobs – which Bloomberg notes is “nearly twice as many as were lost after the last recession.” Republicans, however, argue that some of the stimulus should be cut or shifted to other priorities which could have a more immediate impact than essentially giving states their own giant slush funds.

“If the whole point of this bill is to stimulate economic activity, the federal government has ways of doing that, that may be more efficient than sending checks to state and local governments,” said Moody’s director of public sector research, which estimates that $56 billion is the actual price tag states need to cover shortfalls through 2022 after previously allocated aid is taken into account. Bloomberg also notes that “the financial impact overall has been far smaller than initially feared when Covid last year sent the US economy into the deepest recession since World War II, which left governors nationwide braving for the gravest fiscal crisis of modern times.”

Deficits on that scale were averted after the federal government pushed through stimulus plans in March and again late last year, driving stocks to record highs and promising to increase collections of capital gains taxes. The magnitude of the shortfalls also reflects the unusually uneven nature of the recession: While lower paid service industry employees were thrown out of work, the highest earners who pay far more in state taxes were less affected because they were able to work from home.

Read more …

A lot of information here.

Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)

Freed from his double duty as Connecticut’s chief federal prosecutor, Special Counsel John Durham is zeroing in on the final phase of his far-reaching investigation into whether FBI officials or others committed crimes while conducting the Russia collusion probe, such as misleading federal judges or Congress. All expectations were that Durham would wrap up his probe with final indictments and/or a report last fall after a plea deal was reached with former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted he falsified a document submitted to substantiate an application for a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign.

But FBI Director Chris Wray revealed Tuesday that the entire process — including the bureau’s ability to discipline agents involved in the Russia case — was slowed down at Durham’s request because of continuing concerns about potential criminality. “Because we are cooperating fully with Mr. Durham’s investigation, at his request we had slowed that process down to allow his criminal investigation to proceed,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So at the moment, that process is still underway in order to make sure we are being appropriately sensitive to the criminal investigation.” Wray’s comments signaling additional crimes are being investigated are consistent with what former Attorney General William Barr said late last year when he upgraded Durham from a U.S. attorney to a special counsel and expanded his investigative staff.

Interviews with a half dozen sources who have had interactions with Durham’s team say he is focused on whether FBI executives knowingly and unlawfully misled the FISA court and Congress by withholding exculpatory evidence, extending an investigation without justification and creating the illusion there was evidence of Russia collusion when most had been debunked or dismissed. The sources said one former senior FBI official has provided invaluable cooperation and context to what decisions FBI leadership and field agents were making in the probe on such consequential matters as what to tell Congress, the courts and Justice Department lawyers about the flaws, political origins and falsehoods in the Russia collusion narrative.

Most of the evidence that supports those concerns is now in the public domain after a series of declassifications that began last year and ended when former President Donald Trump declassified hundreds of pages of the most sensitive evidence during his last 24 hours in office in January. .

Read more …

May be he should let Biden’s blunders grab the spotlight for a while.

Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)

Former President Donald Trump is telling allies he’s seriously considering a run for president in 2024, but may do so without former Vice President Mike Pence on his ticket, according to Bloomberg, citing ‘people familiar with the discussions.’ On Sunday, Trump all but announced at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he was running again – while privately, according to two of Bloomberg’s anonymous sources, he’s discussed “alternatives to Pence as he takes stock of who he believes stood with him at the end of his term and who didn’t.” Trump’s advisers have discussed identifying a Black or female running mate for his next run, and three of the people familiar with the matter said Pence likely won’t be on the ticket.

That said, given Trump’s history of choosing the ‘best person for the job’ regardless of color or sex, and notwithstanding obvious establishment picks, we imagine that last bit may be a non-starter for Trump. According to the report, Trump is considering South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem – who Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle are hosting a Friday fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. Meanwhile, Trump publicly endorsed South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s re-election. Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate.Following the 2020 election, Trump was livid after Pence didn’t “do the right thing” and reject Electoral College votes for Joe Biden from several contested states. In response, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”

Pence rejected his boss’s appeals to unilaterally overturn Trump’s re-election defeat when he presided over the congressional count of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The event turned into an insurrection by Trump’s supporters, who invaded the Capitol, disrupted the count and forced the vice president and members of Congress to flee. Five people died in the melee. The two men didn’t speak for days afterward. Pence hasn’t said whether he’d be interested in running with Trump again, according to person familiar with the situation, who believes it’s doubtful Pence would. -Bloomberg. “President Trump hasn’t made any decisions regarding a potential 2024 run, but the buried lede here is that the media can’t stop talking about him,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. According to the report “there’s been no serious consideration of future vice presidential candidates yet,” and if Trump runs, he won’t likely make a formal announcement until summer 2023, according to the anonymous sources.

Read more …

Inflation?!

A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)

Every morning, we take the previous day’s financial news – all of it – and run it through the Narrative Machine to see if any interesting clusters pop out as a topic for us to write about in one of these quick Zeitgeist notes. And when I say clusters, I literally mean clusters – the building blocks of a graphical representation of linguistic connectivity. But when I say clusters, what I really mean is patterns. I really mean changes in the narrative structure. We’re not doing this to learn new facts. We’re not really interested in the specifics of what people are saying. We are very interested, though, in how people are saying it. We’re looking for changes in how we talk about what is important in markets and investing. We’re looking for changes in the water in which we swim.

That water is changing today. It’s changing a lot. Increasingly, the common knowledge of our investment world – what everyone knows that everyone knows – is that inflation is a problem and you should be focused on it. For example, today in a popular financial news media aggregator, RealClearMarkets.com, of the 21 articles highlighted on their frontpage aggregator, 6 of them were about inflation … is it here? is it coming? what does it mean for your portfolio? does Bitcoin fix this? etc. etc. Again, I have zero interest in the specifics or the facts or the message or the sentiment of these selected articles (even though one of them was yesterday’s Epsilon Theory note).


What interests me a lot, though, is the CHOICE made by the editors and algorithms of RealClearMarkets.com to select these articles over all of the other financial news stories available to them. What interests me a lot is the recursive ENGAGEMENT that these articles and their shared linguistic structures trigger in readers, such that they will look for more articles on this topic, which means that more articles on this topic will be written. This is how common knowledge happens. This is how the water in which we swim changes.

Read more …

“Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent..”

When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)

The mutually reinforcing crises aren’t in the future, they’re here now, and Jay Powell’s shuck-and-jive has lost its magical powers to cloak the rot with speculative bubbles. How many more times do we have to watch Jay Powell claim his speculative bubble isn’t a bubble, and that his massive expansion of billionaires’ fortunes will magically create jobs for all those living in the real world he’s created of stagnation, social depression and inequality? In other words, when will this travesty of a mockery of a sham finally implode? When will the Universe tire of the lies, fraud, embezzlement and corruption and bring the whole rotten charade down? When will we tire of the stale tale of reflation, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

We all know the Status Quo’s response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham–smoke and mirrors, phony facades of “recovery”, simulacrum “reforms,” serial bubble-blowing and politically expedient can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc. and funneling them to financiers, corporations, monopolies, cronies and billionaires. When will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? How many more “saves” does the Ponzi Scheme of central banking possess? Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent and its continued expansion will hide all the systemic rot hollowing out America.

On the other hand, maybe manipulation, lies and artifice can no longer keep the Everything Bubble from popping. The chart I prepared back in 2008 (below) give us a flavor of the confluence of crises that are no longer in the future–they’re here now. Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.

Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of expansion / excess / depletion / collapse. Four long-wave cycles are plotted in the chart:

Read more …

“No one has been charged with a firearms violation.”

No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)

No firearms were recovered on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 during the riot, and no shots were fired by the demonstrators, an FBI official on Wednesday told Congress.”To my knowledge we have not recovered any [firearms] on that day from any of the arrests at the scene at this point,” said Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “No one has been charged with a firearms violation.” Sanborn made her comments during a joint oversight hearing in the Senate to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Sanborn, witnesses included the commander of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, and civilian officials from the Pentagon.

During testimony, Sanborn responded to questions from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who asked whether firearms were present or used during the siege. “How many shots were fired that we know of?” Johnson asked. “The only shots fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the one lady,” Sanborn said, referencing Ashli Babbitt, a protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during heightened tension inside the building. Other testimony examined the timeline of when the National Guard was dispatched to help an overwhelmed civilian police force during the siege on the Capitol.

The National Guard was dispatched to the riot more than three hours after Capitol Police made a desperate call for help with a “dire emergency,” a two-star general testified Wednesday before Congress. Major Gen. William Walker, who commands the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the 1:49 p.m. call for help from the guard on Jan. 6 was approved in a message that reached him after 5 p.m. At that point, troops who were waiting on buses sped to the Capitol, and helped to secure a perimeter, Walker said. Walker made his comments during a hearing to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Walker, civilian officials from the Pentagon and the FBI are scheduled to testify.

Read more …

“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment…”

Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)

Russia’s Service of Military-Technical Cooperation has noted its “bewilderment” after Washington imposed an export ban on “defense articles and defense services” to the country, despite Russia not receiving any US arms since 1945. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled new sanctions against Moscow after the alleged poisoning and “attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.” “The US government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” a press statement from Blinken said. As part of the restrictions, Russia has been included in Section 126.1 of the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which essentially means that any requests from Moscow to buy defense-related items would be flatly rejected.

“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment,” the federal service noted. “Arms supplies from the United States to Russia are not carried out and, of course, are not planned.” The government body also noted that the last time any military equipment was delivered to Russia from the US was through the lend-lease program during WWII, which ended on August 21, 1945. Speaking to Moscow daily RBK, Russian International Affairs Council expert Andrey Frolov noted that the new sanctions are likely to be toothless and do not pose any threat to the military-industrial complex, which does not rely on American supplies.

Another expert, Ruslan Pukhov from the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, revealed that restrictions won’t actually prevent any export contracts if the US wants to implement them. In particular, he cited the example of Rosoboronexport, which was removed from the sanctions list to sign a contract to supply the Afghan Army with helicopters, and was put back on the list straight after.

Read more …

Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)

Every power worth its portion of salt in the Levant these days seems to be doing it. On February 25, President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Syria. The premise for the attacks was implausible. “These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq,” claimed Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “and to ongoing threats to those personnel.” More specifically, the strikes were in retaliation for rocket attacks in northern Iraq on the airport of Erbil that left a Filipino contractor working for the US military dead and six others injured, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier. The targets in Syria were facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack left up to 22 people dead.

The Biden administration has resorted to tactics long embraced by US presidents. To be noticed, you need to bomb a country. The measure, more a sign of raging impotence than stark virility, is always larded with jargon and bureaucratic platitudes.“We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline,” explained Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to reporters keeping him company on a flight from California to Washington. “We wanted to be sure of the connectivity and we wanted to be sure about the right targets.” He was convinced “that the target was being used by the same Shia militants that conducted the [February 15] strikes.”

Seven 500-pound bombs were used in the operation, though Stars and Stripes initially reported that “the type of weaponry used” was not disclosed. The Pentagon had been keen to push a larger range of targets, but Biden was being presidential in restraint, approving, as the New York Times puts it, “a less aggressive option”. Kirby insisted the operation had been the sensible outcome of discussions with coalition partners. “The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel.” Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

From Trump’s world to Orwell’s world.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

Read more …

“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

Read more …

Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

Read more …

People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

Read more …

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

Read more …

Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

Read more …

Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

Read more …

“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

Read more …

Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

Read more …

The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

Read more …

By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

Read more …

Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

Read more …

The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 072021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Manhattan 1932

 

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)
Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)
Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)
US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)
GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)
Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)
Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)
China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

 

 

Well, that was fun. It was also entirely predictable. There are far too many questions surrounding the US election, even if Trump’s legal teams botched the job of presenting them. You would expect people to swear never to use another voting machine, but nobody does it. The principle is simple: if these machines can be manipulated, they will be. Ditch them.

Of course last night’s events are presented as insurrection, a coup, treason. But come on. 3 people died of medical emergencies, and the one person who was shot was a female Air Force veteran protesting for Trump. No politician was hurt.

There are quite a few pictures of the anti-Kavanaugh crew protesting inside the Capitol in 2018, and none of them are described as depicting a coup. Calm down. And learn: if this is how you are going to run elections, you should not be surprised if these are the reactions you get. Count yourself lucky that they weren’t much worse.

 

 

 

 

Craig Murray’s optimism was hammered. Time for a higher court.

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)

All of Julian’s team were optimistic before this hearing and it seems perverse that, a judgement against extradition having been made, Julian should continue to be held in high security prison pending the US government appeal. He has already been in jail for over 14 months just in the extradition matter, after the expiry of his unprecedentedly harsh sentence for bail-jumping. In effect, having already served that sentence, Julian is now being punished again for the same offence, spending years in extreme prison conditions purely because he once jumped bail, for which he already served the full sentence. The logic of holding Julian now is simply not there, given the current legal position is that he is not being extradited. Furthermore this continuing raising and lowering of his spirits, and never-ending incarceration with no fixed limit, is destroying his fragile health.

Baraitser has played cat and mouse this week. Julian is living his life in conditions both torturous and tortuous. It is ironic to hear Baraitser declare in condemnatory tones, without equivocation, that Julian only entered the Embassy to escape extradition to the USA. This is of course perfectly true. But I remember the many years when the Establishment line, from the government and repeated in several hundred Guardian columns, was that this truth was a fiction. They claimed there was never any intention to extradite to the USA, and actually he was avoiding extradition to Sweden, on allegations that never had any basis and which disappeared like mist when the time actually came. I suppose we should be grateful for at least this much truth in proceedings.

Today’s judgement makes plain that whatever is happening with Monday’s judgement, it is not genuinely motivated by concern for Julian’s health. Yanis Varoufakis yesterday stated that the ultimate aim is still to kill Julian through the penal system. Nothing that happened today would contradict him. The extraordinary figure of only 3 Covid infections in Belmarsh is very hard to believe and contradicts all previous information. Plainly Covid is less of a risk than anywhere else in London, and perhaps we should all break in to improve our isolation and safety. The only explanation that occurs to me is that the vast majority of prisoners are denied access to testing and are therefore not confirmed cases. or that the prison has chosen to give testing results for a single day and chosen to misrepresent the meaning of the statistic.

In fact the point is not central to the bail application, but as a possible example of yet further malfeasance by the Belmarsh medical team, it is particularly intriguing. The decision not to grant bail can be appealed to the High Court. I expect that will happen (there has been no chance yet to consult Julian’s wishes), and happen in about a fortnight.

Read more …

“Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020..”

Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)

A British district judge denied bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a hearing in which the prosecution argued he had helped NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “flee justice” and would abscond if released from the Belmarsh high-security prison. “As far as Mr. Assange is concerned, this case has not been won,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared. She said the United States government “must be allowed to challenge [her] decision.” Baraitser referred to the lengthy history of the case and how he “jumped bail” and entered the Ecuador Embassy to obtain asylum in 2012. She went on to highlight the “huge support networks” he still has “should he again choose to go to ground,” and Baraitser agreed with the prosecution that WikiLeaks’ assistance of Snowden made Assange a flight risk.

Assange has been confined at Belmarsh since he was arrested and expelled from the Ecuador embassy in April 2019. All along, Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk. “Mr. Assange’s past conduct shows the lengths he is prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings. If I released him today, he would not return to face these extradition proceedings,” Baraitser declared during a hearing in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was initially intensifying worldwide. In her ruling on bail, despite evidence of a recent outbreak at Belmarsh, the judge maintained that the facility was properly caring for prisoners and Assange would be safe.

Edward Fitzgerald, an attorney for Assange, argued the extradition decision changed any motive Assange would have to flee London before the case was resolved. In fact, the extradition decision came with an order of discharge for Assange. “The logical outcome of the ruling would be he regains liberty at least conditionally,” Fitzgerald stated. Fitzgerald questioned whether the Justice Department is even serious about an appeal, given recent reporting on the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. Although Fitzgerald indicated Assange would be willing to wear a GPS tracking device while under house arrest, the judge gave no reasoning why this would not be enough to prevent him from absconding before the date of his appeal. Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020, and Belmarsh has suspended social visits. It is widely recognized that physical contact would alleviate the mental distress that factored into the judge’s decision against extradition.

Read more …

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th..”

Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)

President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged that he would leave office on January 20 for the first time Thursday, pledging an orderly transfer of power after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in the statement, repeating false claims he has made throughout the last two months. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”


Trump, who has refused to concede the election, had on Wednesday egged on supporters who would later storm the US Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from counting the electoral votes. The riot left four people dead — one woman was shot and three others had medical emergencies, according to police — and left some in Trump’s Cabinet holding preliminary talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, according to a well-placed GOP source. After a speech filled with lies and misrepresentations that incensed the crowd, Trump returned to the White House to watch a violent crescendo to his constant spreading of misinformation about the electoral process. The mob broke into the Capitol, stormed both the House and Senate floor and Trump supporters could be seen lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. A woman was shot and killed in the chaos. Police have yet to release more details about her death.

Read more …

“Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so!”

US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)

A crowd of protesters stormed Congress protesting a presidential election they claimed had been fraudulent. When this happened in Serbia in 2000, the US called it democracy. When it happened in Washington, DC – not so much. Scenes from the US Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters backing President Donald Trump disrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify the election of Democrat Joe Biden, looked very much like Belgrade in October 2000. The sight was later repeated in Ukraine – twice, in 2004 and 2014 – Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, and several Central Asian former Soviet republics. On every occasion, the US backed the “people power,” because American NGOs and embassies were supporting what became known as “color revolutions.”

Same thing happened in 2011 with the “Arab Spring” that started in Tunisia and then burned its way across North Africa to the Persian Gulf. In some places it “succeeded,” overthrowing decades-old governments. In others it failed, setting off wars in Libya and Syria and blood on the streets of Bahrain. Again, the US cheered this on as democracy – except for Bahrain, which hosts a major naval base. More recently, the US denounced as illegitimate the presidential elections in Belarus, Bolivia and Venezuela. While Minsk and Caracas managed to resist – and got sanctioned for it – the “democrats” in La Paz were successful for a while, but ended up losing the vote last year.

Way back in 2004, the Guardian wrote approvingly about how the US has created a “slick” operation of “engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience,” developing since Belgrade a “template for winning other people’s elections.” Now the same mainstream media that slavishly followed the State Department line in denouncing elections elsewhere as “rigged” and color revolutions as spontaneous democracy are clutching their pearls when Americans who believe their election was stolen take to the streets and storm their Capitol. Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so! And Joe Biden won the most votes in history while hardly leaving his basement.

Whether you believe this official narrative about the US election or not doesn’t really matter, however. Partisan myopia simply won’t let people understand the magnitude of what is on display here: utter moral bankruptcy of the entire US political and media establishment.

Read more …

Obviously.

GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress resoundingly rejected an objection to the election results in Arizona. The votes came after protesters breached security and swarmed the U.S. Capitol building earlier on Wednesday. The Senate rejected the objection by a 93-6 vote while the House vote was 303-121, with greater than half of the GOP House conference seeking to reject the state’s electoral slate. Congress reconvened in a joint session to certify the election results in other states. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks objected to the Nebraska results but did not have a signature from a U.S. senator.


Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry objected to certifying Pennsylvania and had Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s signature. Republican lawmakers like Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson have argued that the state government circumvented the legislature to make last minute changes to election law. The House and Senate then entered into separate sessions to debate the objection. The Senate rejected the challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes with a 92-7 vote.

Read more …

The amounts are amazing. Are you sure you want your elections to be for sale?

Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)

In order to beat GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate elections, Democrats had to spend big, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. The two Georgia Senate elections — called today for the Democrats — were easily the most costly in history, amounting to nearly $830 million in total ($468 million for the race between Democrat Joey Ossoff and Republican David Perdue and more than $361 million for the special election between Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler.

The Democrats’ massive war chest came in no small part from hefty contributions from corporate America. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, tech companies rallied around the Democratic challengers, plying the two campaigns with millions of dollars. Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent organization, was the largest single source of funds, their PACs, shareholders, or employees donating almost $1 million to Ossoff’s campaign alone with other big tech companies cracking his top ten, all with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations from the like of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and AT&T. The rest of the top ten were made up by universities.

The Republican candidates also relied on large corporations for much of their funding. Perdue’s biggest donors included Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, while Loeffler was generously supported by oil and chemical giant Koch Industries as well as a number of financial institutions like Ryan LLC and Blackstone Group. However, Democrats decisively outraised their opponents, giving them a critical edge. Ossoff outraised Perdue by $138 million to $89 million while Warnock received $124 million to Loeffler’s $92 million. With over 98% of the votes counted, Warnock has been declared the winner, with 50.6% of the vote. Ossoff, meanwhile, is all but assured of winning as well, and has already declared victory.

Read more …

Trump’s Midas touch.

Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)

For many legal analysts, President Trump remains a type of criminal Midas figure: everything he says or does turns instantly into a crime. This pattern is continuing to the very end of the Trump administration. Within minutes of the leaking of a Saturday call between Trump and Georgia election officials, the same experts were declaring yet another clear crime. The loudest was Andrew Weissmann, whose desire to find a crime to use against Trump appears to be moving from the obsessional to the delusional. Since his departure as the top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Weissmann (now an MSNBC analyst) seems intent on proving his critics correct about his profound bias against President Trump.

Weissmann recently called for prosecutors to use grand juries to pursue Trump and others in an unrelenting campaign based on unfounded legal theories. Now he is claiming that the president’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is clear evidence of a criminal act. While I clearly come to these questions from the counter perspective of a criminal defense attorney, the claim is legally absurd. When the tape was released, many of us immediately criticized the statement of the president that “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.” However, experts immediately declared this yet another clear criminal act and some people even called for a type of twilight impeachment in the last couple weeks of the Trump administration. Weissmann declared that the tape showed “criminal intent” as well as “proof of his motive and his pattern of similar activity.”

The problem is that Weissmann again left the criminal code and controlling case law behind in his blind pursuit of Trump. As with the obstruction allegations investigated by Mueller and the Ukrainian call that was the basis for Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, this comes down to a question of intent. While most experts are notably vague on the specific criminal provision, one possibility would be election fraud under 52 U.S. 20511. However, such an interpretation comes to a full stop at intent — a required showing of “knowingly and willfully” acting to subvert voting. The call Trump participated in was a settlement discussion over election challenges with a variety of lawyers present, not some backroom at the Bada Bing club. The entire stated purpose of the challenges was to count what the Trump campaign alleged were uncounted votes that far surpassed the 11,780 deficit.

Read more …

We only had one year!

China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

Beijing has said its health authorities are not yet in a position to receive a delegation from the WHO, after the world health body’s boss said he was “very disappointed” China hasn’t granted entry to Covid experts. Speaking on Wednesday during a regular press briefing, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the authorities were still preparing themselves for the visit by the ten World Health Organization (WHO) experts. The WHO disease team was scheduled to visit Wuhan in early January to trace the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have not had their visas issued. “China still overcomes difficulties, accelerates internal preparatory work, and tries its best to create good conditions for international expert groups to come to China to carry out traceability cooperation,” Hua told reporters.

“In order to ensure the smooth progress of the international expert group’s work in China, it is necessary to perform necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements.” The spokeswoman claimed that China has always adopted an open, transparent and responsible attitude to promoting international traceability research, and had previously invited a WHO team to visit the country. Hua added that Chinese experts have frequently shared honest evidence with global bodies and they remain in regular communication with the WHO. The comments come as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” that Beijing had still not authorized the entry of his team of experts.

“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China. I am very disappointed with this news,” Ghebreyesus said during a virtual news briefing on Tuesday. It was reported that two members of the ten-man team had already commenced their journeys to China on Tuesday before being informed that their visas had not yet been granted.

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.