Apr 042021
 
 April 4, 2021  Posted by at 2:31 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Lilac Bush 1889

 

 

Granted, there are various levels of dumb acts and theories being passed as science. Spain mandating a law that says people have to wear a face mask when swimming in the sea is a extreme example. That not only has nothing to do with science, though undoubtedly they will say it’s based on it, it’s acutely dangerous. But there’s so much more.

I was reading the following for the New York Times (through local paper Kathimerini) this morning, and it gave me just about the right amount of anger. There are so many clowns out there that tell you they base their measures and restrictions on “the science”, but have no idea what that is. Injecting millions with untested substances is not science, it’s the opposite of science. Science would require evidence that such substances do not do harm (Hippocrates), and there is no such evidence.

And now we’re going to let those who have been “fully vaccinated” with these so-called vaccines, loose upon the world. What could go wrong? Well, thing is, we have no idea. The CDC is not alone in grossly botching their job, but they’re at the vanguard.

 

CDC Says Travel Is Safe For Those Fully Vaccinated, But Issues Caution

Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely travel at home and abroad, as long as they take basic precautions like wearing masks, federal health officials announced Friday, a long-awaited change from the dire government warnings that have kept many millions home for the past year.

In announcing the change at a White House news conference, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed that they preferred that people avoid travel. But they said growing evidence of the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines — which have been given to more than 100 million Americans — suggested that inoculated people could do so “at low risk to themselves.”

The shift in the CDC’s official stance comes at a moment of both hope and peril in the pandemic. The pace of vaccinations has been rapidly accelerating across the country, and the number of deaths has been declining.

Yet cases are increasing significantly in many states as new variants of the coronavirus spread through the country. Just last Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, warned of a potential fourth wave if states and cities continued to loosen public health restrictions, telling reporters that she had feelings of “impending doom.”

Some public health experts were surprised by Friday’s announcement and expressed concern that the government was sending confusing signals to the public.

“It’s a mix of ‘please don’t travel’ at the same time this is easing travel for a subset of people,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. “I think it’s very confusing and goes counter to the message we heard earlier this week to ‘stay put,’ ‘hold on,’ ‘be patient.’ And that worries me. Public health messaging has to be very clear, very consistent, and it has to be very simple.”

 

Walensky herself seemed to acknowledge the apparent mixed messaging during Friday’s news conference. “The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely, and it’s important for us to provide that guidance even in the context of rising cases,” she said.

[..] Federal officials remained adamant that people who have not been fully vaccinated should not travel at all, a position widely supported by public health experts.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can return to travel, but if you are not, there is still a lot of virus circulating, and it is still a risky undertaking, and you should defer until you get vaccinated or the situation improves,” said Caitlin Rivers, a public health researcher and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

If unvaccinated people must travel, the CDC recommends they be tested for coronavirus infection one to three days before their trip and again three to five days after it is over. They should self-quarantine for seven days after a trip if they get tested and for 10 days if they do not get tested, the agency said.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks after receiving the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot. Some 58 million people in the US, 22% of the adult population, have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.

Just over a fifth of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and most of those people are too old and frail or otherwise compromised to do much traveling. Great moment to come with travel guidance. Moreover, as this little table from the Lancet shows, 40% of people are protected by their antibodies for only 90 days, and 70% for only 125 days. And that’s not the worst of it: according to the Forbes article I drew that graph from,

Though the correlates for protection weren’t exactly cut and dry, a handful stood out as potentially significant. Most salient among these was disease severity, meaning the price of admission to the persistent group was poorer health outcomes overall. The more robust a patient’s antibody response, the greater the chance they previously developed pneumonia, needed supplemental oxygen, spent time in the intensive care unit, and so on. A more technical determinant was the avidity, or binding strength, between SARS-CoV-2 and IgG antibodies, which typically help form the basis of a longer-term immune protection.


Table 1. A table based on data from the persistent antibody study. “DYNAMICS OF SARS-COV-2 NEUTRALISING ANTIBODY RESPONSES AND DURATION OF IMMUNITY: A LONGITUDINAL STUDY” HTTPS://WWW.THELANCET.COM/JOURNALS/LANMIC/ARTICLE/PIIS2666-5247(21)00025-2/FULLTEXT

 

That’s not a definitive word on antibodies, far from it, but that is exactly the problem. We simply don’t know, but some of us do pretend we do. Back to the “science”:

Scientists are still not certain whether vaccinated people may become infected, even briefly, and transmit the virus to others. A recent CDC study suggested such cases might be rare, but until that question is resolved, many public health officials feel it is unwise to tell vaccinated Americans simply to do as they please. They say it is important for all vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and take other precautions.

How does that rhyme with Walensky’s “The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely, and it’s important for us to provide that guidance even in the context of rising cases”? It is nonsense, that’s not what the science shows. All we have is a handful of experiments, theories and assumptions.

Under the new CDC guidance, fully vaccinated Americans who are traveling domestically do not need to be tested for the coronavirus or follow quarantine procedures at the destination or after returning home. When they travel abroad, they only need to get a coronavirus test or quarantine if the country they are going to requires it.

However, the guidance says they must have a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight back to the United States, and they should get tested again three to five days after their return.

The recommendation is predicated on the idea that vaccinated people may still become infected with the virus. The CDC also cited a lack of vaccine coverage in other countries and concern about the potential introduction and spread of new variants of the virus that are more prevalent overseas.

The new advice adds to CDC recommendations issued in early March saying that fully vaccinated people may gather in small groups in private settings without masks or social distancing and may visit with unvaccinated individuals from a single household as long as they are at low risk for developing severe disease if infected with the virus.


Travel has already been increasing nationwide as the weather warms and Americans grow fatigued with pandemic restrictions. Last Sunday was the busiest day at domestic airports since the pandemic began. According to the Transportation Security Administration, nearly 1.6 million people passed through the security checkpoints at US airports.

If governments and their health boards like the CDC were actually interested in science, they would have campaigned starting a year or more ago, to boost the immune systems of their citizens. That is science. The impact of vitamin D on immune systems is science. The impact of healthy food is. The extra boost from ivermectin is. This could have saved millions of lives.

But your government did none of all that, so you’re on your own. Follow the science, not your goverment. They’re potentially dangerous for you, as are the “vaccines”. And yes, we get the notion of “fatigued with pandemic restrictions”, but stop calling your political calculations vis a vis that, science.

 

 

 

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Mar 302021
 


Edouard Manet Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan) 1862

 

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)
UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)
CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)
Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)
Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)
Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)
New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)
Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)
Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)
Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)
Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)
Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)
The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)
Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

 

 

 

 

There is a move in Washington towards saying it’s the private sector that wants vaccine passports. “It’s just the markets at work”.

That way the government won’t be blamed, or so they hope. Coming soon to a country near you.

This promises to turn into an epic fight for rights and freedoms.

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denounced so-called “vaccine passports” in a Monday press conference — a policy currently being tested in New York State and one the Biden administration is reportedly developing, according to The Washington Post. Vaccine passports are digital credentials, a way of proving the carrier has received a COVID-19 immunization before frequenting a venue or traveling. DeSantis said he would take “an executive function” and “emergency function” and urged the state Republican legislature to propose legislation banning vaccine passports. “We always said we wanted to provide [the vaccine] for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said.

“While it was advised to take, particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it. It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society.” The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Biden administration is working with Big Tech to develop vaccine passport technology. Five administration officials told the media outlet that coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients is leading the operation. In January, 30 international airlines penned a letter to Zients urging the U.S. to implement vaccine passports for all citizens for travel. This followed an executive order by Biden instructing government agencies “to assess the feasibility” of COVID-19 documentation requirements.

[..] The Florida governor said in the press conference that by sometime this week the state will have administered the vaccine to 75 percent of seniors, or 3.5 million individuals. “You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean, give me a break,” DeSantis said. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do. It’s important to be able to do it [get the vaccine], but at the same time, we are not going to have you provide proof of this just to be able to live your life normally.”

Read more …

No other country has as many surveillance camera’s as Britain. Let’s add some more.

UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)

The UK government is funding companies that are producing technology which will utilize digital face scans to check people’s vaccination status and allow or block them from entering pubs, stadiums and other venues. “Britons could have their faces scanned to allow them to access pubs, gigs and sports events under one government-funded plan being drawn up for vaccine passports,” reports the London Times. Two companies – Mvine and iProov – are working together on the system after being given a £75,000 grant by the government having already worked with the NHS on facial recognition technology in the form of the contact tracing app.

The technology is being proposed as a solution to concerns that presenting vaccination status via an app on a phone will be too slow when multiple people are entering a busy venue. “Whoever is standing on the door of the pub is going to have to scan the certificate, read the name and date of birth, then ask the person for an ID document, check that the name and date of birth on the ID document are the same, squint at the photograph on the ID document and then make sure that the person in front of them is that person,” iProov CEO Andrew Bud said. “To which the answer is, that’s not going to happen.” Bud said that the facial recognition system would reduce this process to a matter of seconds, streamlining the system.

“It speeds the process up and it absolves people of what would otherwise be a very heavy responsibility,” he added. After months of promising that there would be no domestic vaccine passport, every indication is now that the government is going ahead with it. Millions of Brits will refuse to submit to digital face scans to go about their everyday business, but the vast majority are likely to accept it without question, creating a two tier society where those who resist the biosecurity surveillance state will remain in a de facto permanent state of lockdown.

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Some states are not doing well, but overall, does that graph justify panic?

CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)

In a stunningly emotional outburst during this morning’s COVID-19 Response press conference, new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went “off-script” (though if one watches here eyes it appears she is very much reading a script) to warn the public about her “impending doom” following a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 increased in 25 states plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico last week, compared with same period a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data through Saturday.


The most dramatic surge has come in Michigan, with admissions up 50%, to an average of 379 a day. The next-worst momentum was in South Dakota, where daily admissions rose by 40% to an average of 28. “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.” “Right now, I’m scared,” Walesky exclaimed. Here is what Walensky is freaking out about… (could that simply be a rise in testing around Spring Break as responsible Americans check their health before traveling? Or is it remnants of the vaccines being picked up by the RT-PCR tests being run at 35 Ct?)


Source: Bloomberg

Of course, Fauci knows why: “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.” Walensky implored Americans to mask up, socially distance, etc., etc. as she is worried about a new wave “if rules are lifted” too soon… “I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,”

Read more …

Others states do very well. Wonder why.

Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)

Coronavirus cases have dropped to a record low in Texas roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses. “Today the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%. Hospitalizations dropped to a 6 month low. This week we have 1 million 1st vaccines available,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, at least 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27. Abbott’s tweet also notes that hospitalizations dropped to their lowest number in the past six months. According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 3,104 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals across the state as of Saturday. Data shows that the state has not recorded a number this low since September 19, when there were 3,081 hospitalizations. As of Monday, Texas has reported more than 2.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 47,156 deaths.

Biden Mask Up

Read more …

Fauci on masks. Oh well.

Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that vaccinated parents still need to worry about their children becoming infected while playing with other kids. “The children can clearly wind up getting infected,” Fauci told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” when asked about the risk of kids playing in groups. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that while adults inoculated against COVID-19 don’t always have to wear masks around each other, children — who are not yet eligible for the jab — should wear them around each other.


“When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups or multiple households,” he said. But when asked whether kids can return to camp or playgrounds this summer, Fauci said it was “conceivable that will be possible.” “We now have 3 to 3.5 million vaccinations each day. If we keep up with that pace, invariably, that’s going to drive the rate and the level of infections per day to a much, much lower level,” Fauci said, adding that lower infection rates will enable the country to have a “good degree of flexibility during the summer … with things like camps.”

Read more …

“..the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%..”

Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)

Canada on Monday suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 following concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots. The pause was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer health in the country, announced the suspension on Monday. “There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.


She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under age 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%. Dr Joss Reimer of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation taskforce said despite the finding that there was no increase risk of blood clots overall related to AstraZeneca in Europe, a rare but very serious side-effect has been seen primarily in young women in Europe. Reimer said the rare type of blood clot typically happens between four and 20 days after getting the shot and the symptoms can mirror a stroke or a heart attack. “While we still believe the benefits for all ages outweigh the risks I’m not comfortable with ‘probably’. I want to see more data coming out of Europe so I know exactly what this risk-benefit analysis is,” Reimer said.

Read more …

How about ivermectin?

New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)

The planet could have a year or less before first-generation Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and modified formulations are needed, according to a survey of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists. Scientists have long stressed that a global vaccination effort is needed to satisfactorily neutralise the threat of Covid-19. This is due to the threat of variations of the virus – some more transmissible, deadly and less susceptible to vaccines – that are emerging and percolating. The grim forecast of a year or less comes from two-thirds of respondents, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, who carried out the survey of 77 scientists from 28 countries. Nearly one-third of the respondents indicated that the time-frame was likely nine months or less.

Persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine-resistant mutations to appear, said 88% of the respondents, who work across illustrious institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Edinburgh. “New mutations arise every day. Sometimes they find a niche that makes them more fit than their predecessors. These lucky variants could transmit more efficiently and potentially evade immune responses to previous strains,” said Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, in a statement. “Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them.”

The current crop of vaccines that have received emergency authorisations in different parts of the world is a mix of old and fresh technologies. Of particular interest is the mRNA approach, employed by the companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which can be tweaked at speed (within weeks or months) to accommodate new variants – however, manufacturing hiccups are always a potential problem. But crucially, they are unlikely within reach of poorer countries, given that this set of vaccines are far more expensive and have comparatively onerous temperature storage requirements.

Read more …

I read the WHO is due to announce its guidance on the use of Ivermectin for Covid. This from India dates from November 2020.

Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)

In a significant finding, two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis has led to 73 per cent reduction in COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers (HCWs), who are more likely to contract the virus given their nature of job. The findings of the study conducted by AIIMS-Bhubaneswar between September 20 and October 19 is set to give a new dimension to the ongoing research on the behaviour of SARS-CoV2 and prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Ivermectin is one among several potential drugs explored for its therapeutic and preventive role in COVID-19 infection. The study conducted by 12 physicians of AIIMS-BBSR aimed at exploring the association between Ivermectin prophylaxis and development of COVID-19 infection.

The study was conducted on two sets of HCWs. While one set was administered with two doses of Ivermectin in a gap of 72 hours, the other took other prophylaxis. Corresponding author of the study and AIIMS Director Gitanjali Batmanabane said two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 micro gram per one kg body weight with a gap of 72 hours was associated with 73 pc reduction of COVID-19 infection among the HCWs. AIIMS-BBSR has around 4,600 employees of which, over 625 have so far tested positive for novel coronavirus. As many as 372 including doctors, nurses, paramedics and sanitisation workers were considered for the month-long study. The list was prepared by the contact tracing team of the institute as per their exposure to COVID-19, based on WHO risk assessment guidelines.

“Earlier, at least 20 to 25 HCWs were getting infected with the virus daily. After the workers started taking Ivermectin, the number of infection has come down to one or two per day,” Dr Batmanabane said. As per ICMR guidelines, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), vitamin C and other interventions were used by HCWs of AIIMS from April 11 in addition to the appropriate use PPE depending on the place they were posted. However, the uptake was not encouraging on account of known side-effect as large numbers of HCWs were getting infected. “Considering the fact that Ivermectin had been shown to have diverse mechanisms by which it successfully attacks the SARS-CoV-2, we decided to use it. The Ivermectin has a proven safety profile as a safe drug which has been used for many decades. The encouraging results of a study from Egypt prompted us to explore its role as prophylaxis for HCWs,” she said.

Read more …

All these “leaders” have failed for an entire year, despite often draconian measures, to stop the pandemic. Now they want more power.

Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)

The world needs a global treaty for pandemics to protect states in the wake of Covid-19, akin to the settlement forged after the second world war, Boris Johnson and other world leaders have urged. In a joint article published in newspapers across the world, leaders including the UK prime minister, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warn that a future global pandemic is an inevitability and that Covid has served as “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”. Escalating international tensions over vaccine supplies have led to calls for countries to abandon isolationism and nationalism, and come together to make way for a new era founded on principles like solidarity and cooperation.

The call comes from 24 world leaders, alongside the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and will appear in newspapers including the Telegraph in the UK, Le Monde in France and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany. The leaders describe the pandemic as “the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s” and said that a settlement like the one formed after 1945 is needed to build cross-border cooperation before the next international health crisis. In the joint article, they say: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”

A treaty on pandemics “should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms”, the leaders go on.

Read more …

Death, taxes and RussiaRussia.

Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)

Joe begins his rant by insinuating that those who’ve spent time documenting errors on the Russiagate story are maybe on “Russia’s payroll,” which is nothing new for this network, of course, or frankly for the press in general during this time. Implying that anyone who didn’t buy into the moral panic on Russia was a traitor was a fairly constant theme in media and politics in the last four years, with NBC’s smear of Tulsi Gabbard as a “favorite” of “Russia’s propaganda machine” being one of the ethical low points of the era. Why should Joe Scarborough be above the same tactics? The exact quote: “I’m amused by so-called reporters who — I don’t know if they’re useful idiots for Russia, or if they’re on Russia’s payroll … but there are some gifted writers who spend all night and day, trying to dig through, looking for instances where the press screwed up on Russia stories.”


He went on to say that yes, there were instances of mistakes, and some bad mistakes, but “more often than not,” the press got it right. Perhaps this could be a new slogan for the network: “MSNBC. We get it right. More often than not.” The full quote: “If you look at the totality of it, the totality of everything — I mean, yeah, the media screwed up at some points, and sometimes they screwed up badly… But more often than not, they got it right.” Obviously, I won’t presume that he’s talking about me when he mentions “some gifted writers” who may or may not be foreign spies, criticizing networks like his. He could be referring to Aaron Mate, or Glenn Greenwald, perhaps even Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, whose critique of Scarborough’s colleague Rachel Maddow’s Russia coverage was scathing enough.

Read more …

Judge and jury.

Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)

The daily newspaper USA Today is the second-most circulated print newspaper in the United States — more than The New York Times and more than double The Washington Post. Only The Wall Street Journal has higher circulation numbers. On Sunday, the paper published and heavily promoted a repellent article complaining that “defendants accused in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 crowdfund their legal fees online, using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a crackdown by tech companies.” It provided a road map for snitching on how these private citizens — who are charged with serious felonies by the U.S. Justice Department but as of yet convicted of nothing — are engaged in “a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another” in order to avoid bans on their ability to raise desperately needed funds to pay their criminal lawyers to mount a vigorous defense.

In other words, the only purpose of the article — headlined: “Insurrection fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, Trump supporters raise money for lawyer bills online” — was to pressure and shame tech companies to do more to block these criminal defendants from being able to raise funds for their legal fees, and to tattle to tech companies by showing them what techniques these indigent defendants are using to raise money online. The USA Today reporters went far beyond merely reporting how this fundraising was being conducted. They went so far as to tattle to PayPal and other funding sites on two of those defendants, Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola, and then boasted of their success in having their accounts terminated: ”

“As of Wednesday afternoon, the Biggs fundraiser was listed as having received $52,201. Pezzola had received $730. Biggs’ campaign disappeared from the site shortly after USA TODAY inquired about it…. Friday, a USA TODAY reporter donated to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Stripe. Stripe told USA TODAY it does not comment on individual users. A USA TODAY reporter was able to make a $1 donation to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Venmo, a payment app owned by PayPal. After being alerted by USA TODAY, Venmo removed the account. Soon a PayPal account took its place. PayPal caught that and removed it, too.”

Wow, what brave and intrepid journalistic work: speaking truth to power and standing up to major power centers by . . . working as little police officers for tech giants to prevent private citizens from being able to afford criminal lawyers. Clear the shelves for the imminent Pulitzer.

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“..whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. ..”

Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)

UBI is the primary feature of that because, in a command economy, production is mostly pretend, so you just have to give people money (for nothing). Remember the old basic operating system of the Soviet Union, stated succinctly as: We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. Got that? The idea behind “Build Back Better” is to renovate the infrastructure of a hyper-tech economy that actually no longer exists because we are in the contraction phase of an historic pulsation or cycle, leaving us with lots of tech and less production, tending toward zero. Nobody flogging this slogan actually knows what it ought to mean under the circumstances, which is to go with the flow of the reality of this contraction: to downsize, downscale, and re-localize all our activities to bring them back into sync with actual productivity — that is, raising food, making real stuff, and trading it.

Again, it’s the energy dynamic, stupid. To get to that point, we’re going to shed the massive over-burden of financial game-playing that has pretended to represent our economy. That means stock valuations and bond prices will vaporize along with the derivative activities concocted for trading gainfully in these now-phantom representations of capital. If that happens sooner rather than later, we won’t even be able to pretend to Build Back Better the interstate highways, the electric grid, airports, and all the other stuff in the “infrastructure” folder. Indeed, a lot of that would be malinvestment folly now because we’re nearing the end of mass motoring and commercial aviation as we’ve known them.

If we even have electricity twenty-five years from now, it will come from much-reduced grids on a much more regional basis. The bottom line for all this is that pretty soon every corner of the country will be on its own amid quite a bit of social disorder and financial wreckage. So, whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. And remember, all of the attempts by a national government to control these events, and coerce its citizens in the service of that, will only lead to a more ineffectual and impotent national government that nobody has faith in, confirming the fact that you are on your own.

Read more …

“..the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%..”

The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)

The eurozone’s economic problem do not come from just a slow vaccination, but overly aggressive lockdowns. Between October and November, Europe’s leading economies decided to shut down the economy aggressively to prevent an increase in cases. Despite France’s extremely severe lockdown, one of the most aggressive in the world, daily new confirmed cases per 100 people went from 250 cases at the beginning of October to 522 as of March 26th. Daily new cases rose rapidly and fell in the month of November but have risen steadily since January. In Italy, new cases went from 70 in October to 369 by March 26th. In Germany, from 117 to 179 in the same period. In all of them, daily new cases have steadily risen since bottoming in January even with severe lockdowns.

Shutting down the economy for prolonged periods of time generates long-term side effects in jobs and growth that will likely hurt the recovery and create important social challenges. We cannot forget that the eurozone still had an unemployment rate of 8.3% and more than seven million furloughed jobs at the end of February. Massive stimulus plans have been implemented, with the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%, and money supply growing at a 12% annualized rate in the euro area. Fiscal stimulus is also enormous, with fiscal impulse and liquidity measures ranging between 10% (Spain) to 50% of GDP (Germany) in the main economies.


It is important to note that it is not just how much is spent, but where and when. A significant part of the fiscal stimulus in Spain, France, Italy, and Germany has been targeted at maintaining current government spending, and the measures to support businesses have only been decisive in Germany and France. However, large, and decisive measures to support businesses may fail as prolonged lockdowns lead to an insolvency crisis and inevitably a relevant part of those support mechanisms will zombify the economy, especially as this was an important risk that already existed in the eurozone before Covid-19, according to the Bank of International Settlements.

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“..lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

“We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards.”

Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

In 2008, we had the opportunity, collectively, to reboot a broken financial system so it became fit for purpose. But instead of reconfiguring finance to serve the real economy politicians and central bankers used quantitative easing to buy time which lulled the mainstream media into reporting that everything was back on track. Some people haven’t bought that story. Marc Friederich and Matthias Weik are two economists who didn’t succumb to groupthink after the 2008 crash and now see financial capitalism’s end game. Friedrich explained to Renegade Inc. that the authors’ intention is to help translate the complexity of a financial system by inverting it into a language that everybody understands. Having studied economics, and as children of the dot com bubble, the authors of four best-selling books in Germany, stress the important role sarcasm and dark humour play in their work in respect to making seemingly complex matters accessible to the wider public.

According to Weik, the aim behind mainstream economists’ use of convoluted language is to create a camouflage in order to prevent them from having to explain what their terminology means. “It’s like the language of law spoken in secret phrases whose purpose is to garner public trust”, said Friedrich. But what mainstream economists and politicians haven’t explained is the structural nature of a crisis that hasn’t been remedied since the 2008 crash. Instead, the metaphorical can has been kicked down the road. “We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards. It will burst because last time China and all the states rescued the world. They won’t save us anymore. We used cheap money like a drug. We just put more and more drugs into the system”, said Weik.

“Economists and politicians have learnt nothing in the last decade, rather they have merely bought time. The banks who created the last financial crisis continue to be the big winners”, says Friedrich. The losers are the working class and underclass who were encouraged to borrow recklessly. And yet it is these latter groups who the American and British press blame for the crisis. According to Friedrich, the catalyst for the crisis was low-interest rates and too much cheap money. “They tried to solve it with even lower interest rates and much more money. The debts have doubled since 2008”, said the economist. In Friedrich’s view, the Fed, ECB and other central banks will try to print more money “like they always do.” “We will definitely see negative interest rates….Since 2008 debts worldwide doubled for private people and for companies even three times more debts than 2008. So this is the final bubble. And the central banks create one bubble after the next one to keep the whole thing running. That’s it.”

“And we all know the patient is dead but nobody is ready to unplug the life support. The aim is to keep the system alive for as long as possible.” Weik added: “Over the past two years real estate prices exploded, the share prices exploded, lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

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Tucker Candace

 

 

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Mar 092021
 
 March 9, 2021  Posted by at 9:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  40 Responses »


Keith Haring Untitled 1983

 

Overweight, Obese Americans Make Up 8 in 10 Covid Hospitalizations (F.)
Mutant COVID Strains In Florida, New York Threaten US Recovery – BofA (ZH)
Covid Outbreak In BC Care Home Where Residents, Staff Already Vaccinated (CBC)
Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks – CDC (AP)
CDC About To Be Canceled By Google and Facebook for COVID Heresy (Black)
US Says Russia-Backed Outlets Spread Covid Vaccine ‘Disinformation’ (CNBC)
Propaganda About ‘Vaccine Disinformation’ Is Just Another Russiagate (Malic)
Pfizer Seeks Sovereign Assets As Collateral For Vaccine Injury Lawsuits (TN)
Brazil Supreme Court Ruling Annuls Ex-President Lula’s Convictions (RT)
UK Supported Coup In Bolivia To Gain Access To Its ‘White Gold’ (DUK)
The Prophet Of The Trump Era (Taibbi)
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Kaboom (Kunstler)
The Past Is Another Country – Enforcing Orthodoxy (Lawrence)
The Self-silencing Majority (Bari Weiss)

 

 

People say the Burger King International Women’s Day campaign “backfired”. But I’m thinking: look at all the free publicity they’re getting.

 

 

 

Burger King gets a lot more attention than the president.

 

 

 

Where’s the huge nationwide campaign to prevent this?

Overweight, Obese Americans Make Up 8 in 10 Covid Hospitalizations (F.)

Nearly 8 in 10 people who were hospitalized for coronavirus were either overweight or obese, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Monday, which also found a higher body mass index is associated with serious coronavirus outcomes, such as hospitalization, being placed on a ventilator and even death. The study found obese patients with BMIs higher than 30 made up about half of all coronavirus hospital admissions between March and December of 2020. Overweight patients, or people with BMIs higher than 25 but lower than 30, accounted for 28.3% of hospitalized coronavirus patients during the same time frame.

Researchers also found an association between BMI and patients requiring admission to an intensive care unit, invasive mechanical ventilation and death, especially in people aged 65 and older. According to the CDC, obesity may contribute to serious coronavirus illness because excess weight impairs lung function and may also disrupt the body’s immune system. The CDC study looked at 71,491 coronavirus patients who tested positive for the virus during emergency room or inpatient visits at 238 American hospitals that tracked patients’ height and weight. 42.4%. That’s how much of the U.S. population is considered obese based on BMI, according to a 2018 CDC study, the most recent of its kind.

Black and Hispanic Americans, whose communities have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, are also more likely to live with obesity. Nearly 40% of Black adults reported having a BMI of higher than 30, followed by Hispanics (33.8%) and Whites (29.9%), according to CDC data from 2017-2019. Last week, the World Obesity Federation released a study based on Johns Hopkins University data that found “a dramatic correlation” between obesity rates and international death rates. Countries like the U.S. and U.K, where more than half of the population is classified as either overweight or obese, see more deaths per capita. Meanwhile, Vietnam, the country with the world’s lowest coronavirus death rate, has an adult obesity rate of only 18.3%, the second-lowest globally.

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Because bankers are experts on diseases.

Mutant COVID Strains In Florida, New York Threaten US Recovery – BofA (ZH)

Dr. Fauci and other health experts are warning about the prospect of a “4th wave” of COVID infections as mutated strains of the virus comprise a growing share of new COVID infections in the US, even as the JNJ one-shot vaccine promises to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. Worries about spreading mutant strains are being amplified by research showing that B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK, also known as the “Kent” strain, after where it was first isolated and identified) might be on the cusp of becoming the most prevalent strain in the US. According to research cited in a note published Monday by a team of researchers at BofA, Florida is on the cusp of seeing the UK variant become the “dominant” strain in the state.


And although hospitalizations, new cases and deaths have slowed in the Sunshine State, researchers are concerned that the variants are slowing the ebb of the pandemic in the state – and could possibly supercharge it. Cases and hospitalizations are still slowing in the state, just not as quickly as they were in January. The team of analysts at BofA said these trends have raised concerns about Florida becoming a bellwether state for the spread of the new variants, which many fear could surge as states from Texas to Connecticut move to loosen at least some (or in Texas’s case, practically all) virus-related restrictions. The fact that the state’s positivity ratio has declined since the start of the year suggests that the virus truly is receding (in other words, the lower case numbers aren’t due to solely to a pullback in testing).

Perhaps counterintuitively, the analysts at BofA are worried that the UK variant might not be as dominant in Florida as they believe. They also gamed out two additional scenarios that they said would lead to a greater outlook. “We see three possible explanations for Florida’s continued improvement. First, the spread of the new variant might not be as far along as estimated. So the old variant might still be contracting off a much larger base, while the new variant is growing off a small base. This would not be good news as it would suggest an imminent increase in cases as the new variant continues to spread.


Second, vaccines might be more effective at containing the virus than we thought, by making both vaccinated people and their close contacts less vulnerable. This would be good news because the cumulative effect of vaccines should increase quickly as the roll-out gains momentum. The third explanation, which is least likely in our view, is that the B.1.1.7 variant is significantly less contagious than widely estimated. This would probably be the best news of all.”

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Lovely.

Covid Outbreak In BC Care Home Where Residents, Staff Already Vaccinated (CBC)

A new outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at the Cottonwoods Care Centre in the Interior Health region where staff and residents had already received vaccines, B.C’s provincial health officer announced Monday. In a live news conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said being vaccinated doesn’t mean transmission will be stopped and that precautions must remain in place for seniors and care homes. “You can have transmission even when people are fully vaccinated,” she said. “The illness seems to be milder and doesn’t transmit as much [and we] won’t see rapid explosive outbreaks.”


Two staff members and 10 residents have tested positive at the Cottonwoods long-term care facility in Kelowna which has 221 publicly-funded beds. Henry said that all staff and residents at the home were offered immunizations and that there was very high uptake of the vaccine. She said some of the cases were among people who had received two doses of the vaccine. “This serves to remind us that while we are confident is very effective and prevents severe illness and death it doesn’t necessarily mean that all transmission will be stopped.” Henry added the province will give new guidance by the end of month that will allow for increased visits at long-term care centres.

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The CDC is on a roll: fresh from reporting that facemasks prevent 1.32% of infections, ignores outbreaks like the one in BC, and also ignores the WHO stating we have no idea if vaccines reduce transmission.

But let us, in turn, NOT ignore how dangerous it is to discriminate against people who are simply not infected.

Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks – CDC (AP)

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday. The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.

“With more and more people vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. During a press briefing Monday, she called the guidance a “first step” toward restoring normalcy in how people come together. She said more activities would be ok’d for vaccinated individuals once caseloads and deaths decline, more Americans are vaccinated, and as more science emerges on the ability of those who have been vaccinated to get and spread the virus. The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people still wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

The CDC guidance did not speak to people who may have gained some level of immunity from being infected, and recovering from, the coronavirus. Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 31 million Americans — or only about 9% of the U.S. population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC.

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“..the difference between mask mandates and no mask mandate is literally just a 1.32% difference..”

CDC About To Be Canceled By Google and Facebook for COVID Heresy (Black)

On Friday afternoon, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (still called the CDC, even though they added a ‘P’) released a heretical report about mask-wearing and COVID-19. The report, authored by at least a dozen medical doctors, PhD researchers, and, bizarrely, a handful of attorneys, examined how mask mandates across the US affected COVID cases and death rates. You’d think with all of the media propaganda about mask effectiveness… and all the virtue signaling, with politicians and reporters appearing on live TV wearing masks… that the data would prove incontrovertibly and overwhelmingly that masks have saved the world. But that’s not what the report says. According to the CDC’s analysis, between March 1 and December 31 last year, statewide mask mandates were in effect in 2,313 of the 3,142 counties in the United States.

And, looking at the county-by-county data, the CDC concludes that mask mandates were associated with an average 1.32% decrease in the growth rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths during the first 100 days after the mask policy was implemented. Wait, what? Only 1.32%? You read that correctly, they didn’t misplace the decimal: according to the federal government agency that is responsible for managing the COVID-1984 pandemic, the difference between mask mandates and no mask mandate is literally just a 1.32% difference. And bear in mind, it’s entirely possible that the real figure is even lower than that, given all the questionable COVID statistics. For example, the CDC reports that influenza cases in the United States have dropped to almost zero in the 2020-2021 flu season, down from 56 MILLION the previous year.

It’s amazing they expect anyone to take this data seriously. Are we honestly supposed to believe that the flu has been eradicated? Or is it possible, that, maybe just maybe, at least some influenza cases have been misdiagnosed as COVID? If that’s the case, then the real impact of masks on COVID growth rates is potentially much lower than 1.32%. Even the CDC seems to understand this, because at the end of its report, they inspidly conclude by stating that mask mandates “have the potential to slow the spread of COVID-19. . .” Really? “Potential”? That’s HERESY! And an obvious contradiction to WHO guidance. It makes we wonder whether Google and Facebook are gearing up to censor this report, given they have self-appointed themselves as the Ministry of Truth.

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Why does the Kremlin bother to deny this?

US Says Russia-Backed Outlets Spread Covid Vaccine ‘Disinformation’ (CNBC)

The United States has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services that it says are seeking to undermine Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, a State Department spokeswoman said on Sunday. The outlets “spread many types of disinformation, including about both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as international organizations, military conflicts, protests, and any divisive issue that they can exploit,” the spokeswoman said. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first reported on the identification of the alleged campaign on Sunday. A Kremlin spokesman denied the U.S. claim Russia was spreading false information about vaccines to the WSJ.


[..] Russia approved its Sputnik V vaccine in August, before a large-scale trial had begun, saying it was the first country to do so for a Covid-19 shot. Peer-reviewed trials months later proved it was almost 92% effective in fighting the virus. Pfizer, headquartered in New York, and Germany’s BioNTech, produced the first vaccine that was authorized in the United States, which regulators approved in December. The second, made by Moderna, headquartered in Massachusetts, was authorized later that month. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center, set up to counter propaganda and disinformation campaigns, identified the three outlets, the spokeswoman said.

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Well, obviously.

Propaganda About ‘Vaccine Disinformation’ Is Just Another Russiagate (Malic)

By accusing Moscow of spreading disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, US propagandists that spread the original ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy are doing it again, stoking fear and hatred and projecting amid a pandemic. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed State Department official to claim that Russia is using four websites “linked to” intelligence agencies to “inject false narratives” about Western vaccines against Covid-19 that “can be amplified” by other media. Asked about this on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is “monitoring” and “taking steps to address” these efforts. Meanwhile, the WSJ report was being, well, amplified on Twitter by prolific influencers declaring the alleged Russian behavior to be a “crime against humanity.”

Thing is, all of this amounts to a disinformation and influence operation itself – by the very methodology the people involved are using. The WSJ source is someone from the Global Engagement Center, set up in 2016 as a propaganda shop against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists, which was later expanded to advancing “fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests” and countering “Russian disinformation.” The claim that the four websites were Russian spy cutouts was “a result of a joint interagency conclusion,” the Journal cited an unnamed State Department spokesman as saying. In other words, just like the infamous ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ that made Russiagate official.

The WSJ article also previews a “report” – published Monday – by the Alliance For Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund NGO notorious for their ‘Hamilton68 dashboard’ that promoted and amplified Russiagate by seeing ‘Kremlin bots and trolls’ everywhere. Now we’re getting somewhere! Except the report itself ends up being full of qualifications, weasel-words and hair-splitting parsing of how certain headlines in the media are “coded,” in an effort to, well, promote a narrative. ASD analyzed tweets – of course they did – from Russian, Chinese and Iranian media and concluded that “there were few instances of any studied country promoting verifiably false information about vaccines” but that reports about certain Western vaccines “were often sensationalized while downplaying or completely omitting key contextual information.”

Keep in mind that demanding “context” is a favorite trick of so-called fact-checkers to argue that something is false even when factually true. As ASD itself admits, Russia, China and Iran sought to persuade their own public that their vaccines were “safer, more effective, and more affordable than certain vaccines produced in the West.” Except, that’s what clinical trial results published in reputable Western medical journals such as Lancet literally say when it comes to Sputnik V. Doesn’t matter, it’s now “disinformation” to point out facts that the Russian vaccine costs less than the mRNA vaccines made in the West, or doesn’t require their expensive cold storage.

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It’s like a CIA operation.

Pfizer Seeks Sovereign Assets As Collateral For Vaccine Injury Lawsuits (TN)

As reported by New Delhi-based World Is One News (WION), Pfizer is demanding countries put up sovereign assets as collateral for expected vaccine injury lawsuits resulting from its COVID-19 inoculation. In other words, it wants governments to guarantee the company will be compensated for any expenses resulting from injury lawsuits against it. WION reports that Argentina and Brazil have rejected Pfizer’s demands. Initially, the company demanded indemnification legislation to be enacted, such as that which it enjoys in the U.S. Argentina proposed legislation that would restrict Pfizer’s financial responsibility for injuries to those resulting from negligence or malice. Pfizer rejected the proposal. It also rejected a rewritten proposal that included a clearer definition of negligence.

Pfizer then demanded the Argentinian government put up sovereign assets — including its bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings — as collateral. Argentina refused. A similar situation occurred in Brazil. Pfizer demanded Brazil: • “Waive sovereignty of its assets abroad in favor of Pfizer” • Not apply its domestic laws to the company • Not penalize Pfizer for vaccine delivery delays • Exempt Pfizer from all civil liability for side effects. Brazil rejected Pfizer’s demands, calling them “abusive.” As noted by WION, Pfizer developed its vaccine with the help of government funding, and now it — a private company — is demanding governments hand over sovereign assets to ensure the company won’t lose a dime if its product injures people, even if those injuries are the result of negligent company practices, fraud or malice.

[..] In the U.S., vaccine makers already enjoy full indemnity against injuries occurring from this or any other pandemic vaccine under the PREP Act. If you’re injured, you’d have to file a compensation claim with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP),6 which is funded by U.S. taxpayers via Congressional appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). While similar to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), which applies to nonpandemic vaccines, the CICP is even less generous when it comes to compensation. For example, while the NVICP pays some of the costs associated with any given claim, the CICP does not. This means you’ll also be responsible for attorney fees and expert witness fees.

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Well, the rich got rid of him anyway.

Brazil Supreme Court Ruling Annuls Ex-President Lula’s Convictions (RT)

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has cancelled all sentences against the country’s former leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, restoring his political rights to run again for office ahead of next year’s election.
Supreme Court judge Edson Fachin ruled on Monday that the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, which had convicted Lula of money laundering and corruption, actually had no jurisdiction over the cases. The judge annulled all sentences handed to the 75-year-old in relation to ‘Operation Lava Jato’ (Car Wash) – a major anti-graft investigation in which three ex-presidents and numerous officials were indicted. Monday’s ruling means that Lula’s political rights have been restored, making him eligible to run against Brazil’s current leader, Jair Bolsonaro, in the presidential election in 2022.


The country’s so-called ‘Clean Record Act’ bars those with convictions from holding public office, a measure which already cost the veteran politician a spot in the 2018 presidential race. The judge’s decision was procedural and didn’t focus on the validity of the earlier cases against Lula. A lower court will now have to decide if he should be retried on those charges. Brazil’s Prosecutor General, Augusto Aras, has already announced that he intends to appeal the Supreme Court ruling. Lula served as Brazil’s president between 2003 and 2011, a period of rapid economic growth for the country which saw millions getting out of poverty through social welfare programs.

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Lithium.

UK Supported Coup In Bolivia To Gain Access To Its ‘White Gold’ (DUK)

On 10 November 2019, after the head of the army called for his resignation, Bolivia’s socialist president, Evo Morales, stepped down. It followed weeks of protests after the release of a report by the Organisation of American States (OAS) alleging irregularities in the election Morales had won the previous month. Persecution from the new regime forced Morales to flee the country and an “interim president”, Jeanine Áñez, was installed. Widely condemned as a coup, resulting protests were met with lethal force. Days after taking power, on 14 November, the Áñez regime forced through Decree 4078 which gave immunity to the military for any actions taken in “the defence of society and maintenance of public order”. The following day, on 15 November, Bolivian military forces shot and killed eight protesters in the city of Sacaba.

On 21 November, regime forces killed another 10 protesters in the neighbourhood of Senkata just outside the capital La Paz. Despite the deadly violence, which was condemned by human rights groups, the British embassy in La Paz moved quickly to support Bolivia’s new regime, Declassified can reveal from documents we have obtained. We have seen a project list for a Foreign Office programme in Bolivia called “Frontline Diplomatic Enabling Activity”, which the UK government describes as a “small pot of money that [embassies] receive and have authority over to spend on projects supporting [embassy] activity”. Bolivia has the world’s second-largest reserves of lithium, a metal that is used to make batteries and which has become increasingly important due to the burgeoning electric car industry.

The UK government has stated that lithium battery technology is a priority for its “industrial strategy”. In June 2019, it announced it was investing £23-million in “electric car battery development”. The government has further noted: “It’s estimated that South America holds 54% of the world’s lithium resources, which are increasingly in demand to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and energy diversification programmes.” It added: “The UK aims to have a thriving, sustainable battery industry, which would translate to a £2.7 billion opportunity … and our bilateral partnerships are essential to ensure this.”

In February 2019, Evo Morales’ government had chosen a Chinese consortium to be its strategic partner on a new $2.3-billion lithium project which would focus on production from the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salars (salt flats under which the lithium is deposited). But after the coup, the regime’s new minister for mining cast doubt on whether the deal would be honoured by the new government.

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“Kids ran around him like he was a shrubbery.”

The Prophet Of The Trump Era (Taibbi)

I entered Martin Gurri’s world on August 1, 2015. Though I hadn’t read The Revolt of the Public, at the time a little-known book by the former CIA analyst of open news sources, I hit a disorienting moment of a type he’d described in his opening chapter. There are times, he wrote, “when tomorrow no longer resembles yesterday… the compass cracks, by which we navigate existence. We are lost at sea.” Gurri’s book is about how popular uprisings are triggered by collapses of faith in traditional hierarchies of power. I felt such a collapse that day in Waterloo, Iowa, covering the Republican presidential primary. The first debate was five days away and the man expected to occupy center stage, Donald Trump, held a seemingly inexplicable six-point lead.

Two weeks before, on July 18th, Trump lashed out against former Republican nominee John McCain. Even McCain’s critics considered his physical and mental scars from years as a Vietnam war prisoner to be unassailable proofs of his patriotic gravitas, but the service-evading Trump was having none of it. “I don’t like losers,” he said, adding, “He’s only a war hero because he was captured.” It was the universal belief among colleagues in campaign journalism that this was an unsurvivable gaffe, a “Dean scream” moment. We expected him to apologize and wash out. Instead, he called McCain a “dummy” and kept a firm grasp on the lead.

A different candidate, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, was in Waterloo. Two years before, Time all but dubbed Christie the favorite for 2016 with a silhouette cover portrait, over the nastily shallow (but publicity-generating) double-entendre headline, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Christie was every Washington consultant’s idea of a “crossover” superstar. I’d describe the concept in Rolling Stone as someone “mean enough for the right-wing, but also knows a gay person or once read a French novel.” Christie parked himself in the middle of Waterloo’s annual “Irish fest” street fair, waiting for an Iowan to ask for a souvenir campaign handshake. He had his hand out and thumb stuck upwards, like an Iguanodon. Nobody came. Kids ran around him like he was a shrubbery.

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“Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer..”

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Kaboom (Kunstler)

One-time $1,400 handouts and even regular $300 unemployment subsidies won’t pay the mortgages or feed families very long, and every day there are fewer families bringing in anything close to that mythical $150,000. For many, it’s more like… nothing. The one-time bailouts of recklessly insolvent city and state governments and pension funds will only postpone their collapse. The varying guaranteed basic income schemes, enhanced child credits, advances on tax refunds, and other gimmicks would turn the former working class into sub-lumpenproles with nothing to occupy them but crime and vice. In fact, we already have a sizable underclass demonstrating exactly what you’ll get from enlarging the social group dependent on government support.

The only other question for now is when do the different population groups in this land explode in violence? The group loosely bundled as “Red” is angry enough with the ongoing insults of Wokery, failed rule-of-law, and abridgments of basic constitutional rights. The states where they dominate are likely to resist any more fiats by the federal government, like the imminent attempt to confiscate firearms. The “Blue” auxiliary armies are beyond their creators’ control. Antifa will be ready to rock-and-roll in the streets with good weather because so many young people have absolutely no prospects to thrive in the collapsing economy, and the streets have become their social space, with so little money for lattes and beers. And BLM need look no further than the Derrick Chauvin trial in Minnesota, starting today, for an excuse to resume its characteristic activities.

Does anyone seriously believe that the husk of Joe Biden will remain in office more than another few weeks? It’s obvious that he doesn’t have the mental mojo to work an authentic press conference, and surely not the customary address to a joint session of Congress. Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer. Pay close attention to events unspooling. Get ready for trouble. It’s coming every which way, from money to public order to rollicking spring weather.

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This is our exceptionalist consciousness at work: “It can’t happen here..”

The Past Is Another Country – Enforcing Orthodoxy (Lawrence)

To censor is an act of deprivation, a taking away. To enforce an intolerant orthodoxy is an act of imposition. The two cannot be understood separately from one another.

[..] It is time, then, to sit up and look squarely at the grave threats with which a creeping, apple-pie authoritarianism now faces us. Censorship and its sibling, official propaganda, have lately come to imperil our civil liberties, our civil rights — especially our right to express ourselves freely— and altogether our right to knowledge, our right to understand the world we live in and the events that shape it, and at last our right to shape those events. Compared to these, the supposed threats of the Jan. 6 protests on Capitol Hill and the running, no-evidence business of the Russians having intruded into hundreds of corporate and government computer systems are nothing. Numerous are the voices raised in opposition to this menacing, corrosive drift in America. But too few grasp the gravity of our shared predicament.

Complacency — complacency induced by propaganda, indeed — is another of our urgent problems. One can read in any history book about suppression and repression and the incessant repetition of officially approved perspectives to the exclusion of all dissenting views. But the past is another country in the American mind, ever distant. Such circumstances are supposed to befall others but never Americans. We customarily identify grim polities of this kind and blighted pubic space with the Soviets, or the Latin American dictators, or the too-numerous-to-name despotic regimes that fill history texts. This is our exceptionalist consciousness at work: “It can’t happen here,” as Sinclair Lewis titled the anti-fascist novel he published — note the date — in 1935.

It has not happened here — let us not succumb to language inflation — but we are now on notice that it can. Overcoming exceptionalism, even among those who purport to reject its ideology, is where the project must begin. When we are sitting up, we owe it to ourselves and those around us to get up. If we are to defend our rights as just enumerated, it is up to each of us to act. And taking part in a patently broken electoral system — this is my personal view —can no longer be considered acting: It amounts to acquiescing. “Aux armes, citoyens!” is a thought I leave to other sorts of columnists. My salutation is simpler: “Arise!” will do. We had better wake up, this is to say, if we are to avert a very dark age and reinvent the country and its institutions—which, forget about reform or restoration, is what must be considered the imperative now.

Read more …

Why she left the NYT.

The Self-silencing Majority (Bari Weiss)

I was born in 1984, which puts me among the last generation born into America before the phrase “cancel culture” existed. That world I was born into was liberal. I don’t mean that in the partisan sense, but in the classical and therefore the most capacious sense of that word. It was a liberal consensus shared by liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. The consensus view relied on a few foundational truths that seemed as obvious as the blue of the sky: the belief that everyone is created in the image of God; the belief that everyone is equal because of it; the presumption of innocence; a revulsion to mob justice; a commitment to pluralism and free speech, and to liberty of thought and of faith.

As I’ve observed elsewhere, this worldview recognized that there were whole realms of human life located outside the province of politics, like friendships, art, music, family and love. It was possible for Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be the best of friends, because, as Scalia once said, some things are more important than votes. Most importantly, this worldview insisted that what bound us together was not blood or soil, but a commitment to a shared set of ideas. Even with all of its failings, the thing that makes America exceptional is that it is a departure from the notion, still prevalent in so many other places, that biology, birthplace, class, rank, gender, race are destiny. Our second founding fathers, abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, were living testimonies to that truth.

This old consensus — every single aspect of it — has been run over by the new illiberal orthodoxy. Because this ideology cloaks itself in the language of progress, many understandably fall for its self-branding. Don’t. It promises revolutionary justice, but it threatens to drag us back into the mean of history, in which we are pitted against one another according to tribe. The primary mode of this ideological movement is not building or renewing or reforming, but tearing down. Persuasion is replaced with public shaming. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Mercy is replaced with vengeance. Pluralism with conformity; debate with de-platforming; facts with feelings; ideas with identity.

Read more …

 

 

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WS Merwin

 

 

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Mar 082021
 
 March 8, 2021  Posted by at 10:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


Grete Stern Sueño No. 27: No destiñe con el agua 1951

 

CDC: Face Masks Have Negligible Impact On Coronavirus Numbers (OAN)
Stay-at-Home Policy Is A Case Of Exception Fallacy (Nature)
World On Brink Of Fourth Wave Of Coronavirus (Hill)
Dutch Virologist Asks Cabinet For More Guts: “Open Terraces And Gyms” (P.)
Pressure To Reopen Greek Society Mounts As Virus Holds (K.)
Leaving UK Now Requires A ‘Special Validation To Travel’ (Calder)
Swiss Voters Support ‘Burqa Ban’ (RT)
Biden’s Historic Victory For America – No Thanks To GOP (CNN)
5 Women Now Accuse Cuomo Of Inappropriate Behavior (NYP)
New York State Senate’s Top Democrat Calls On Cuomo To Resign (F.)
Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Trigger Domino Effect (Sp.)
Approaching Zero Velocity! (CI)
Forget $15 an Hour — the Minimum Wage Should Be $24 (IC)

 

 

Something I’ve noted a few times: the changing definition of herd immunity. Pretty blatant.

 

 

 

The report is here. Sometimes I feel these reports are written with the express intent to confuse. Entirely different conclusions of course ensue.

CDC: Face Masks Have Negligible Impact On Coronavirus Numbers (OAN)

The CDC has admitted face masks do little to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid mounting pressure to lift mask mandates across the U.S. In a new study, the CDC found face masks had a negligible impact on coronavirus numbers that didn’t exceed statistical margins of error. The study found that between March and December 2020, face mask orders reduced infection rates by 1.5 percent over the rolling periods of two months each. The masks were 0.5 percent effective in the first 20 days of the mandates and less than 2 percent effective after 100 days. The CDC added it still recommends wearing face masks, although it admitted such mandates do not make any statistical difference. In the meantime, some states across the nation have slowly returned to normalcy by putting an end to mask mandates.

Read more …

Nature, not the least, also has some questions.

Stay-at-Home Policy Is A Case Of Exception Fallacy (Nature)

A recent mathematical model has suggested that staying at home did not play a dominant role in reducing COVID-19 transmission. The second wave of cases in Europe, in regions that were considered as COVID-19 controlled, may raise some concerns. Our objective was to assess the association between staying at home (%) and the reduction/increase in the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in several regions in the world. In this ecological study, data from www.google.com/covid19/mobility/, ourworldindata.org and covid.saude.gov.br were combined. Countries with >100 deaths and with a Healthcare Access and Quality Index of ≥ 67 were included.


Data were preprocessed and analyzed using the difference between number of deaths/million between 2 regions and the difference between the percentage of staying at home. The analysis was performed using linear regression with special attention to residual analysis. After preprocessing the data, 87 regions around the world were included, yielding 3741 pairwise comparisons for linear regression analysis. Only 63 (1.6%) comparisons were significant. With our results, we were not able to explain if COVID-19 mortality is reduced by staying at home in ~98% of the comparisons after epidemiological weeks 9 to 34.

Read more …

But the WHO stays the panic course.

World On Brink Of Fourth Wave Of Coronavirus (Hill)

A year after the frightening beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the world stands on the brink of a fourth wave of infection as nations race to vaccinate their populations and stave off a new surge in hospitalizations and deaths. Total reported cases rose across the globe in the last week of February after six weeks of decline, driven in part by new, more virulent variants that transmit between people at startlingly higher rates than the initial strains out of Wuhan, China, and northern Italy. “This is disappointing, but not surprising,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters last week. “This is a global crisis that requires a consistent and coordinated global response.”

The United States recorded about 66,000 new cases a day over the last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), down 73 percent from the apex reached in early January and similar to levels of transmission from October. But the precipitous decline of late January and early February has plateaued in recent days, raising fears that a new wave is just around the corner. “We could not have made a more wonderful environment for this virus to take off than we have right now,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention at the University of Minnesota. “We are not driving this tiger, we’re riding it. And the first time we may be able to drive it is with widespread use of the vaccine, and we’re not there yet.”

A total of 107 million doses of the three vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration have been shipped to states across the nation, according to CDC data. About 53 million people have received at least one dose, 16 percent of the population, while 27 million have received two doses. The first doses of the one-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson were administered last week. Globally, 115 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed, a quarter — 28.7 million — in the United States. The 518,000 Americans who have died represents about 20 percent of the global death toll. The latest data from the CDC shows 41,000 are still hospitalized.

[..] Some models show an increase in cases just around the corner. One model maintained by the PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows reproduction rates — the measure of how many people are infected by someone who has the virus — rising in three quarters of the counties surveyed. States in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest showed higher transmission rates last week. Several states have loosened restrictions on businesses and gatherings imposed over the summer, even though infections continue at higher levels today than when those mandates were initially put in place. “You’re seeing a lot of states loosening mask restrictions at a point where they’re having more cases per day than they had over the summer when they put the mask restrictions in place,” said Rich Besser, a former CDC director who now runs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

Read more …

A heathen pagan virologist? What’s next?

Dutch Virologist Asks Cabinet For More Guts: “Open Terraces And Gyms” (P.)

Wanted: more risk, more guts with the corona approach. “Not every relaxation should be seen as a step closer to the abyss.” Louis Kroes is not alone in pushing for a less restrictive policy in the corona crisis. But within the world of virologists and epidemiologists, where the emphasis is usually on reducing the number of infections, arguments that criticize the current lockdown are not really common. Nevertheless, as professor of clinical virology (Leiden University Medical Center), Kroes sees room for relaxation. If the omens do not deceive, he will again be disappointed by the cabinet on Monday, which finds the figures in terms of infections and hospital admissions still too worrying. It confirms Kroes’s idea that a “zero-risk policy” is being pursued, in which every corona death is one too many.

“You shouldn’t look for just maximizing this security. You are also not going to stop motorized traffic because there are road deaths every year. A zero-risk policy for IC occupancy is not realistic. ” The alarming forecasts by the RIVM about the British variant of the coronavirus, which in reality has less drastic consequences, confirm in Kroes’ eyes that policymakers and their advisers always assume the worst case. Under that pressure, the Dutch are locked up at home after nine in the evening. According to Kroes, the cabinet assumes “extremely gloomy scenarios with” large margins of uncertainty “. “The simple idea is then: better safe than sorry; just assume the worst case, then it can only be better than expected. But that is also risky.

Because in addition to the group of vulnerable people at risk from the corona virus, there are also the interests of millions of Dutch people who are at risk due to the stringent corona approach. Their health suffers from passivity, for entrepreneurs income is at stake, for pupils and students their future, people become lonely. You have to take those risks into account. ” Kroes therefore believes that the margin that he believes there is for easing should be maximized. “I understand the principles of the policy. In the first wave, with the doom of ICU flooding, I found the lockdown understandable. But that extreme scenario is no longer clearly visible. That does not happen overnight either. That is no reason to go to great lengths to contain the pandemic. ”

Read more …

Greece can no longer afford the policies that failed so miserably, which they will never admit. Like all other governments. No, it’s the new variants, it’s the young people, it’s general behavior.

I think this is not an incident, but our overall approach to healthcare. We don’t encourage people to be healthy, we don’t prevent illness, we treat them only when they are already sick. Is this just a GDP thing, or does it go deeper?

Pressure To Reopen Greek Society Mounts As Virus Holds (K.)

With health officials unable at the moment to predict when the viral load in Attica and other badly affected areas will start to subside, the government is striving to chart the way forward under pressure from the heavy economic and social toll exacted by successive lockdowns. What is clear is that the ominous daily rates of hospitalizations, intubations and deaths make any plans for the resumption of retail on March 16, immediately after Clean Monday, highly unlikely. Bearing this in mind, the most optimistic scenario for the government foresees the opening of retail stores with limits to the numbers of customers per square meter by the end of the March. This scenario also provides for the opening of restaurants, but only with outdoor seating, some time in April.

What’s more, with the completion of the first round of vaccinations in May, it is hoped that it will be possible to return to some form of normalcy for the economy. Any decision taken will depend on the resilience of the national health system and not so much on the infection rate, which is growing among younger age groups and is likely to continue in the foreseeable future though it is not, however, expected to burden hospitals to a large degree. Although the current restrictive measures are not very different form the ones last March – with the exception that more economic activities are now allowed – they have failed to yield the desired results for two main reasons.

Firstly, because a sense of fatigue has set in among the public, which has also impacted inspection mechanisms. A second reason that has been postulated is that, compared to last March, fear of the coronavirus has subsided, especially among younger people. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ aides say that the rationale behind not adopting a tough general lockdown and why an attempt will be made to open retail and then catering is that the financial costs of supporting workers and businesses affected by the existing constraints are already untenable. The 2021 budget provided €7.5 billion for support measures. However, the relevant budget has already reached €11.5 billion. At the same time, only from the suspension of the operation of the retail trade, the state is losing about €1.1 to €1.2 billion per month in revenues.

Read more …

“Americans who wish to travel to North Korea are obliged to do just that.”

Leaving UK Now Requires A ‘Special Validation To Travel’ (Calder)

Imagine being told you must have a “special validation to travel”. Americans who wish to travel to North Korea are obliged to do just that. Prospective visitors, says the US State Department, must also “discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets, funeral wishes, etc” and “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries”. That’s enough to make you lose the will to travel. Which is exactly what the UK’s home secretary had in mind when she decided to impose a special validation to travel on anyone seeking to leave the country. “There are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day,” Priti Patel told parliament in January.

UK residents are entitled to return home, making the inbound portion of that “too many” difficult to suppress – though deterrents such as the prospect of hotel quarantine are working some magic. Instead, the home secretary set about increasing controls on anyone seeking to leave the UK. She decided to impose a requirement for a “Declaration to Travel” – a very British version of that “special validation”. With just 58 hours remaining before it became a criminal offence even to turn up at an airport, railway station or ferry port without a completed form, the document was finally published. It does not involve a side order of custody of children, funeral wishes and a last will and testament – though given the increasingly draconian travel restrictions put in place by the government, I wouldn’t have put it past them.

Ms Patel calls the Declaration to Travel “a necessary step to protect the public and our world-class vaccination programme”. I call it the antithesis of the “Global Britain” for which we are expected to strive after Brexit – as well as an unnecessary and alarming extension of the government’s powers. The four UK nations share a perfectly powerful law at present: stay at home, and venture outside only if you can claim exemption such as caring, shopping for essentials, exercise or education. Heading for an airport and hoping to board a plane somewhere warmer (and possibly less in tune with North Korea) is most definitely not on the list of excuses for being out of the house.

Read more …

Brilliant. The Swiss ban face coverings just when their own laws make them mandatory.

Swiss Voters Support ‘Burqa Ban’ (RT)

Covering your face in public for non-medical reasons will become illegal in Switzerland after a proposal dubbed a “burqa ban” was accepted by a narrow margin of voters in a binding national referendum on Sunday.
Supporters of the “burqa ban” have prevailed in the Alpine country, with 51.2 percent being in favor and 48.8 percent being against, official data showed after votes were counted. In line with the Swiss system of direct democracy, the country’s constitution will now be amended to forbid face coverings in public places for all but three specific reasons. The legislation, which had been promoted by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) since 2016, did not mention Islam directly and was claimed by proponents to be aimed at preventing violent rioters from hiding their identities.


It was nonetheless dubbed the “burqa ban” by the media and politicians due to also restricting the face coverings worn by Muslim women. Back in 2009, the SVP initiated a referendum on preventing the construction of new minarets in Switzerland, and also won that vote. There are several exceptions to the “burqa ban” – it allows the covering of one’s face for security, climate, or health reasons. As such, it wouldn’t contradict the anti-coronavirus measures that oblige Swiss citizens to wear face masks in public places, on public transport, and in indoor workspaces. Muslim women would also be allowed to don burqas and niqabs in places of worship. By greenlighting the ban, Switzerland has joined France, where full-face veils in public were outlawed in 2011, and such countries as Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria, where full or partial bans on face coverings are currently in place. Two Swiss cantons had already introduced similar restrictions on burqas some years back.

Read more …

Meanwhile, in CNN’s parallel universe, there’s apparently also a parallel president….

Biden’s Historic Victory For America – No Thanks To GOP (CNN)

President Joe Biden is on the cusp of a major legislative victory. If all goes according to plan and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is signed into law, Biden will have scored an early triumph in his presidency. The Covid-19 relief bill will provide a wide range of benefits, from direct payments to American families, money for vaccine development and distribution, small business relief, more substantial subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, a child tax credit, a higher Earned Income Tax Credit, federal funds for state and local governments and much more. Given the scale and scope of this measure, it is an accomplishment that will cement Biden’s historic role in overseeing the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite last minute concessions to appease moderate Democrats on Friday night, as journalist Ezra Klein tweeted, “This still looks like the most ambitious and progressive economic package Congress has passed in my lifetime. It will do more to cut poverty, and push full employment, than anything else I’ve covered.” So far, it looks like Biden has learned some important lessons on how to deal with the modern Republican Party. After Biden watched congressional Republicans obstruct the agenda of his former boss, Barack Obama, he saw Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, whose presidency was capped off with a violent insurrection against Congress, expose the radicalization of the GOP.

[..] There were certainly defeats along the way. The amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 failed. On Friday night, Senate Democrats finally won over Sen. Joe Manchin — a moderate Democrat who threatened to derail the relief bill — by dropping the bid to increase unemployment benefits from $300 a week to $400. To satisfy moderate Democrats, Biden had also agreed to narrow the income eligibility for the $1400 stimulus checks, cutting off couples who earn more than $160,000 a year or individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year. But most of the package has remained intact. While Biden was certainly open to Republican support, he did not cater to their demands in the elusive hope that they would join him.

Read more …

Drip drip.

5 Women Now Accuse Cuomo Of Inappropriate Behavior (NYP)

Two more women came forward Saturday to accuse Gov. Cuomo of sexually harassing behavior, including a former press aide who describes struggling to free herself from his repeated hugs, and a young assistant who now says he left her feeling like “just a skirt.” Former press aide Karen Hinton endured a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace from Cuomo in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000, she told the Washington Post. The married Hinton pulled away, but “he pulls me back for another intimate embrace,” she told the paper. “I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave.” At the time, Cuomo led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A current rep for Cuomo strongly denied Hinton’s allegation to the newspaper, claiming “this did not happen.”


Hinton’s claims are made all the more startling given that her husband is lobbyist Howard Glaser, a longtime Cuomo ally and confidante who worked as his director of state operations and senior policy advisor until 2014. The other new accuser, Ana Liss, a policy and operations aide who worked for the governor from 2013 to 2015, said he’d behaved inappropriately while on the job in Albany. The governor called her “sweetheart” and asked if she had a boyfriend, Liss recalled to the Wall Street Journal. Liss said Cuomo touched her on her lower back during an event, once kissed her hand and asked her if she was dating. “It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she told the newspaper. Liss is the third former state employee and fourth woman overall to accuse the governor of varying degrees of sexual harassment. Hinton brings the total of accusers to five.

Read more …

“Cuomo Says There’s ‘No Way’ He’ll Resign After Fifth Accuser Comes Forward”

New York State Senate’s Top Democrat Calls On Cuomo To Resign (F.)

The top-ranking democrats who lead New York’s State Senate and State Assembly both signaled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) should resign following a wave of new allegations from two of the governor’s former aides. New York State Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement Sunday afternoon that Cuomo “must resign” for “the good of the state,” adding: “Everyday there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government. State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said soon after that he shared the sentiment of Stewart-Cousins “regarding the governor’s ability to continue to lead this state.” “We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” Heastie said.

These statements from the top-ranking democrats come hours after Cuomo, speaking to reporters on a phone call prompted by the new allegations from two former aides (compounding allegations from three other women over the past few weeks), reiterated that he has no plans to resign. “I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo said during a Sunday afternoon phone presser, asking the public to wait until the New York Attorney General’s office finishes its investigation into the claims. Cuomo called the new allegations from Karen Hinton—one of the governor’s former press aides—that he called her to his hotel room and acted inappropriately toward her after a work event in 2000 “not true,” labeling Hinton a “long-time political adversary of mine.”

Responding to separate allegations from Anna Liss, another former aide, who said she felt patronized and diminished by the governor, recounting questions about her love life, Cuomo kissing her hand and touching her lower back at a reception, Cuomo said he would often engage in “friendly banter” with staff, but did not have malicious intent.

Read more …

“As a member of one of New York’s best known political dynasties, Cuomo is a protected species..”

“I personally find it difficult to imagine such a deeply entrenched political animal of the swamp variety facing any serious repercussion..”

Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Trigger Domino Effect (Sp.)

Andrew Cuomo has found himself in a heap of trouble over long-term care facility residents’ COVID-related deaths and sexual harassment allegations. Although Cuomo is not going to resign, his cases may have repercussions for his political future and hit Democratic governors who issued similar nursing home orders during the pandemic. On 5 March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose time in office has recently been mired by two separate scandals, was stripped of emergency powers by the Democratic-dominated state legislature. The same day, the Democratic majority’s leader in New York’s state Senate said that the governor should resign if “any further people” come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.

Five women have made sexual harassment or bullying claims against Cuomo so far. NY Attorney General Letitia James has requested that the governor and his staff preserve all records that may be relevant to the sexual harassment probe. A day earlier, The New York Times broke that top members of Gov. Cuomo’s COVID-19 taskforce rewrote a report from the state’s health department to hide the real number of deaths among nursing home residents last June. The FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are investigating the governor’s handling of nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to an 18 February ABC News report. Although Cuomo has repeatedly tried to downplay both scandals, he has nevertheless hired Elkan Abramowitz, a prominent criminal defence lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to represent his office in the investigation into New York’s misreporting of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.

Hiring a prominent criminal defence attorney is an indication that Governor Cuomo is taking the growing scandal seriously, suggests Jason Goodman, US investigative journalist and Crowdsource the Truth founder. “So far, no significant information about the probe has been revealed to the public beyond the fact that it is underway or at least being contemplated”, Goodman says. “It is difficult to say at this point what federal prosecutors may do or what determinations may be made”. Still, one needs to keep in mind that previously Andrew Cuomo served as the state’s attorney general, the secretary of housing and urban development, and campaign manager for his own father’s gubernatorial campaign, so he likely knows or has worked with many of those who would be investigating him, according to Goodman.

“I personally find it difficult to imagine such a deeply entrenched political animal of the swamp variety facing any serious repercussions”, the journalist remarks. Previously, Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who exposed General Electric’s massive financial discrepancies in 2008, raised serious questions about Cuomo’s non-profit, Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged, but no investigation has come about, Goodman recalls. “As a member of one of New York’s best known political dynasties, Cuomo is a protected species”, the journalist adds.

Read more …

Money ain’t moving anywhere.

Approaching Zero Velocity! (CI)

Since its creation in 1913, The Federal Reserve has helped obliterate the purchasing power of the US Dollar.

And just wait for Biden’s $1.9 trillion in government spending (the first of many) to hit the economy.


Now you can see why investors seek out gold, silver, Bitcoin and other sources of protection from The Federal Reserve.

Read more …

Inequality explained.

Forget $15 an Hour — the Minimum Wage Should Be $24 (IC)

The coronavirus pandemic relief bill passed by the House of Representatives this week would raise the federal minimum wage in steps until it reached $15 an hour in 2025. But an increase in the minimum wage has been removed from the Senate’s legislation. At least for now, it is stuck at $7.25. This is bad enough in itself, but even worse is that almost no Americans understand how low we’ve allowed our aspirations to become. Our country’s productivity gains in recent decades should have translated into a minimum wage today of $24 an hour — and by 2025, it should be almost $30. This may sound preposterous. But in fact, U.S. society was once on a path to this destination. We simply chose to step off that path.

From both a moral and practical perspective, the minimum wage should go up in step with the productivity of the U.S. economy — that is, our ever-increasing ability to create more wealth with the same amount of work. Morally, as a country grows richer, everyone should share in the increased wealth. Practically, companies that sell things need lots of people with the money to buy them. We know that this can work because it already did. During the 30 years from the establishment of a minimum wage in 1938 to 1968, Congress repeatedly upped the minimum wage so that it did in fact go up hand in hand with U.S. productivity. By the end of that period, it was worth the equivalent of $12 per hour today.

Since 1968, American productivity has substantially increased. Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, points out that if the minimum wage had gone up at the same rate, it would now be over $24. At that level, as Baker says, a couple who both worked full time at minimum-wage jobs would take home $96,000 a year. Baker also calculates that by 2025, rising productivity would bring the minimum wage close to $30 an hour. But instead we’ve gone in the other direction. After the late 1960s, Congress stopped raising the minimum wage in step with productivity. Instead, over the past 50 years, Congress has allowed the minimum wage to plummet in real terms. That is, minimum-wage workers of the past were actually paid more than minimum-wage workers make today — even though today’s workers live in a much richer society.

Indeed, since 1950, the hourly minimum wage has almost never been lower than it is now. Of course, 1950 is literally a lifetime ago, and the U.S. is now a completely different country. Our per capita GDP is now four times greater.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 112021
 
 February 11, 2021  Posted by at 10:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Ansel Adams Evening at McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park 1942

 

AstraZeneca Says Vaccine Against New Covid Variant May Take 6-9 Months (G.)
CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Don’t Need To Quarantine If Exposed To Covid (NBC)
Deaths of Elderly Who Recovered From COVID, but Died After Vaccine (Attkisson)
Dershowitz Destroys Democrats’ Impeachment In Under 2 Minutes (WND)
Dershowitz: Trump Defense Must Avoid ‘Trap’ Of Debating Election Fraud (JTN)
‘Feel Our Pain,’ Politicians Demand (Tracey)
The Disarticulation of Pandemic War Propaganda (MPN)
New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves (MPN)
Facebook New Algorithm Will ‘Reduce Political Content’ On News Feeds (JTN)
Former Republican Officials In Talks To Form Anti-Trump Third Party (R.)
Will Corporation-Owned Smart Cities Come To Nevada? (AN)
Yellen Eyes Innovation To Battle Misuse Of Cryptocurrencies (R.)
Assange Prosecution Will Continue Under Biden (Gosztola)
In Mail-In Impeachment Vote, Senate Convicts Trump 8275 To 3 (BBee)

 

 

 

 

COVID numbers in the UK and US crashed at the exact same moment. How is that possible?

 

 

“About Thatcher’s death: Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out on competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. That’s what she would have wanted.”
– Ken Loach

 

 

What are your plans until 2022? Forget them.

AstraZeneca Says Vaccine Against New Covid Variant May Take 6-9 Months (G.)

AstraZeneca has said that it could take between six and nine months to produce Covid-19 vaccines that are effective against new variants of the coronavirus. The company’s vaccine, developed jointly with scientists at the University of Oxford, remains effective on at least one variant of the virus first discovered in Kent, England, but preliminary findings in a small-scale trial prompted South Africa to limit its use while it ascertains its efficacy. However, a six-month turnaround for an updated vaccine would represent a vast improvement over traditional vaccine development timelines. The vaccine is particularly important for poorer countries, because the company – unlike some of its rivals such as Pfizer – has pledged to sell it at cost price.


The vaccine also does not require very low temperatures during transport, making it cheaper to deliver. Announcing its financial results for 2020 on Thursday, AstraZeneca said: “In collaboration with the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca is focused on adapting C19VAZ to new disease strains if required and hopes to reduce the time needed to reach production at scale to between six to nine months, by utilising existing clinical data and optimising its established supply chain.” AstraZeneca will not incorporate revenues from the vaccine into its financial results, but it said that 2020 performance in its main profit-making business remained strong.

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Pfizer says they don’t know if their vaccine protects you from infections, or those around you. But the CDC now knows better? Or is this true only when wearing 3 masks?

CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Don’t Need To Quarantine If Exposed To Covid (NBC)

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday in updated guidance on its website. Quarantine is typically recommended for healthy people who have been exposed to the virus. During quarantine, people are asked to isolate from others for one to two weeks to see whether they develop symptoms of Covid-19. By not exposing others, quarantining can help stop the spread of the disease. In the updated guidance, the CDC said such quarantining is not necessary for fully vaccinated people within three months of having received their last doses as long as they do not develop any symptoms.

“Fully vaccinated” means that at least two weeks have passed since a person has received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Other recommendations remain in place for fully vaccinated people. They include wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. The guidance says the risk that fully vaccinated people could spread the coronavirus, to others is “still uncertain.” However, “vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic Covid-19; symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is thought to have a greater role in transmission than purely asymptomatic transmission,” according to the CDC.

The CDC already recommends that people who have had Covid-19 and recovered do not need to quarantine for 90 days after the illness, if newly exposed to someone who is infected; the new guidance for vaccinated people aligns with the earlier recommendations. The guidance “makes sense,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, although he said he was curious about what evidence the CDC was using. Early data from AstraZeneca and Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trials have suggested that vaccines may slow transmission of the virus, although more work is needed to confirm the findings.

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2 days after 14 infections among fully vaccinated in pensioners’ home in Germany.

Deaths of Elderly Who Recovered From COVID, but Died After Vaccine (Attkisson)

Two small clusters of deaths after COVID-19 vaccination have been reported among nursing homes in Kentucky and Arkansas. In Kentucky, four seniors died the same day of their vaccination on Dec. 30, 2020. Three of the four who passed away reportedly already had had coronavirus prior to getting vaccinated. In Arkansas, four seniors died at a long term care facility about a week after their vaccination. All tested positive for COVID-19 after vaccination. The deaths are reported in a federal database called VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Deaths after vaccination don’t necessarily mean the vaccine is to blame. Of those receiving coronavirus vaccines, many are elderly and frail, or already suffering from serious illnesses. That makes it difficult to know whether there’s a connection.

According to VAERS reports, the Kentucky deaths occurred on Dec. 30 after vaccinations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. An ill 88-year-old woman who was “14 + days post covid” was given the Pfizer-BioNTech shot while she was “unresponsive in [her] room.” She died within an hour and a half (914961-1). An 88-year-old who was “15 days post covid” got the shot, was monitored for 15 minutes afterward, and passed away within 90 minutes (914994-1). A third report says an 88-year-old woman who was “14 + days post covid” vomited four minutes after receiving her shot, became short of breath, and passed away that night (915562-1). And an 85-year-old woman vaccinated at 5 p.m. was “found unresponsive” less than two hours later and died shortly after (915682-1). In response to questions about the Kentucky cluster, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said its experts noted “no pattern … among the [Kentucky] cases that would indicate a concern for the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Scientists differ on whether people who have had coronavirus, like the Kentucky patients, should receive the COVID-19 vaccination at all. The CDC insists it’s safe for people who have recovered from COVID-19 to get vaccinated and that there’s no minimum interval recommended between infection and vaccination. “Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] infection,” it states. But other scientists say vaccinating people who are already considered immune after a natural COVID-19 infection wastes valuable doses of vaccines when there are shortages. And neither Pfizer’s nor Moderna’s studies showed any benefit to vaccinating previously infected patients.

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“No. 1 they have no jurisdiction. No.2 it’s a bill of attainder, No. 3 they’re impeaching him for constitutionally protected speech..”

Dershowitz Destroys Democrats’ Impeachment In Under 2 Minutes (WND)

Famed Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was on President Trump’ defense team during the first impeachment trial one year ago. And while he’s not a member of the team this time, he’s offering a quick, two-minute argument he says should close the case. “You don’t have to listen to me. Listen to James Madison, who’s the father of the Constitution,” Dershowitz said on “The Charlie Kirk Show” podcast. “He said that impeachment is only for somebody who’s still sitting in office. He said it quite clearly in the Federalist Papers,” Dershowitz said of Madison. “There’s no way around that.” The Harvard professor insisted the text of the Constitution is clear as well.

“It says impeachment is for purposes of removing a president. Once a president is removed you can also vote to disqualify him but disqualification doesn’t stand alone as a remedy,” he said. “If it did, then the Congress would have a roving commission to go through the entire United States and decide who to impeach and who not to impeach, and who to prevent from running for office,” said Dershowitz. “Say the Republicans come up with a young vibrant candidate to run against Biden four years from now. All the Democrats would have to do is impeach him, even though he’s never held office, and just disqualify him from running for office. Or find someone … who had a smaller officer earlier, and they can impeach him,” Dershowitz said.

“That’s not what the Framers had in mind. What the Framers had in mind is not allowing the Senate to put people on trial. That’s called a bill of attainder and a bill of attainder is specifically prohibited by the Constitution.” Dershowitz said there are “so many things wrong with this impeachment.” “No. 1 they have no jurisdiction. No.2 it’s a bill of attainder, No. 3 they’re impeaching him for constitutionally protected speech,” he said. Dershowitz said the impeachment itself “is doing a tremendous amount of damage to our Constitution.”

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“This is not the forum in which any evidence of election fraud is going to be seriously considered,” Kline said. “They have no interest in it…”

Dershowitz: Trump Defense Must Avoid ‘Trap’ Of Debating Election Fraud (JTN)

Key legal allies of former President Trump say his defense team must avoid the “trap” of debating election fraud during his Senate impeachment trial. House impeachment managers Tuesday cited Trump statements challenging the integrity of the 2020 election in arguing that the former president engaged in a “months-long effort to incite” an “insurrection” which culminated on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob forced its way past police lines into the U.S. Capitol. House Democrats’ move to frame Trump’s electoral fraud claims as incitement in their impeachment narrative created an opening for Trump’s defense to, in effect, put the 2020 election itself on trial before a nationwide viewing audience, as many of his supporters have urged.

Some Trump allies say his electoral fraud case has never received a full public airing due to legal challenges being tossed out on grounds of standing, timeliness and other technical issues rather than on merit. But former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who helped lead the successful defense that gained Trump’s acquittal in the 2020 impeachment trial, said this move would be “a terrible mistake” for Trump. “It’s a trap that the Democrats are trying to set for the Trump lawyers,” Dershowitz told Just the News in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a trap to have them talk about electoral fraud, because if they do, they’ll lose [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and other senators.” The “absolute trap,” Dershowitz said, “was being set by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is leading the Democrats’ impeachment case. Raskin studied law under Dershowitz, who called his former student “a smart guy.”

[..] Attorney Phill Kline, a Trump supporter and director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, has litigated many cases involving claims of electoral fraud during the 2020 election. He told Just the News that while he thinks a national conversation about electoral fraud should continue, he doesn’t believe that the impeachment forum is ideal. “This is not the forum in which any evidence of election fraud is going to be seriously considered,” Kline said. “They have no interest in it. They refuse to acknowledge clear facts. And so it’s the wrong audience and the wrong time.” Kline said the Trump defense team should focus on the former president’s First Amendment right to speak openly and raise questions about election fraud. “They have been trying to criminalize thought for some time now,” Kline said. “This is just the fruit of their belief that if you do not think as they do, you’re a threat to the nation.”

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It’s become quite theatrical.

‘Feel Our Pain,’ Politicians Demand (Tracey)

Congress is increasingly not a place where the average member partakes in what’s generally understood as legislative activity, but rather engages in a variety of elaborate self-promotional exercises. The diminishment in the power of average House Members (as opposed to Party leaders who run their respective caucuses like fiefdoms) has been amply documented. One consequence of this trend is that “comms” has become far more of an all-consuming focus for a certain type of Member, particularly those who are most adept at social media. One “comms” strategy that appears highly effective at the moment in generating outsized public attention is extreme, heavily-personalized emotional exuberance.

With the “trauma” of the MAGA goofball mob intrusion still apparently dominating their psyches, members of Congress have taken it as a solemn duty to claim “space” for the “sharing” of their “lived experience” relating to this event. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a true pioneer in importing the rhetoric of therapeutic trauma jargon, already the lingua franca of an ascendant activism-minded cultural and media cohort, into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. At her direction, it will only become more ubiquitous. And given that such rhetoric deliberately inverts the normal epistemology of contested political claims — it’s deemed incumbent on the listener not to critically evaluate the veracity of such claims, but instead uncritically believe them — the new mode of public argument she’s popularizing is likely to prove highly effective, as it inherently forecloses the prospect of any argument at all.

Per this framework, arguments are replaced with subjective assertions that must be presumptively accepted, lest one be guilty of “minimizing” or “belittling” the elected official’s experiences and thus compounding their trauma. Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, took a page from this playbook during the opening presentation of Donald Trump’s trial Monday, breaking down in tears at one point as he wove a narrative about the terror of January 6 with his own personal turmoil. Raskin’s son died on December 31, and the pain he felt from that experience was integrated seamlessly with the pain that he posited all members of Congress must have felt during the goofball riot.

Of course, everyone who’s not a psychopath would sympathize with Raskin for having lost a son to suicide. But to invoke this tragedy in the context of an impeachment trial has an obvious political intent. The intent was to heighten the emotional resonance of the prosecution’s case for convicting Trump, as according to Raskin, he feared that his daughter might also face untimely death because she happened to be in the Capitol with him on January 6. The more intense the “pain” that can be conveyed to the juror-senators, the more likely they are to vote to convict Trump — or so the calculation seemingly goes.

Fellow impeachment manager David Cicilline charged that every single member of Congress nearly avoided being slaughtered in a mass execution-style attack that day — “They could have killed all of us,” he said — although no real evidence has ever been presented to substantiate this dramatic theory, which seems only to be professed by partisan Democrats. A number of basic facts stemming from the Capitol intrusion which could provide clarity are still mysteriously absent from the public record, such as whether any of the rioters brandished or discharged firearms. You’d think this would be helpful information to know before proclaiming, as Cicilline did, that what occurred was an “armed insurrection.” It would be a very curious “armed insurrection” for no firearms to have been deployed over the course of the “insurrection.”

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“The study Fauci funded at the WIV in 2014 was done so in contravention to the [Obama] moratorium then in effect.”

The Disarticulation of Pandemic War Propaganda (MPN)

A now-deleted fact sheet published by the U.S. State Department on January 15, 2021, claimed that for over a year, “the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.” The official release of that fact sheet focuses on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV); a controversial research lab in the Hubei province of China which has been the target of well-earned suspicions over its work on bat-borne zoonotic diseases like SARS-CoV-2, better known as the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Missing from the State Department’s missive is the intimate bond that this particular laboratory has to American scientific institutions and to a tight-knit group of individuals with direct links to the U.S. intelligence apparatus and the biodefense establishment. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci’s funding of gain-of-function (GoF) research in 2014 at the Chinese lab is just one example. The highly polarizing GoF studies, which entail turbo-charging a pathogen’s virulence through the “generation of viruses with properties that do not exist in nature” present considerable biosafety hazards, which led the Obama administration to issue a federal moratorium on GoF research. The study Fauci funded at the WIV in 2014 was done so in contravention to the moratorium then in effect.

Deeper and more disturbing ties to outfits like USAID-funded Ecohealth Alliance have been covered by independent journalists like Same Husseini and others, revealing the WIV’s close relationship to people like David R. Franz – former commander of Fort Detrick, the pre-eminent biowarfare and biodefense facility in the U.S. and the source of the anthrax spores used in the infamous 2001 anthrax attacks. In July 2020, this author carried out an investigation into the nexus between the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), USAID and zoonotic disease research in Asia.

Recently, some of these facts have seeped into mainstream news outlets as the “lab-leak” hypothesis, which suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen escaped from a laboratory in China. Careful to avoid drawing attention to links between American scientific institutions and their Chinese counterparts, a narrative is gathering momentum as the idea of a ‘cover-up’ by Chinese authorities is promulgated on prime time television news magazine shows like “60 Minutes,” which ran an expose the promoted the idea that China is “weaponizing” the pandemic. The narrative is not new and has been lingering in the background since the pandemic was declared.

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“this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces..”

New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves (MPN)

The U.S.-government funded outlet Voice of America has confirmed rumors that a new military base is being built in northeastern Syria. A convoy of 40 troop carriers and other vehicles arrived and began setting up shop in the city of Hasakah near the Turkish and Iraqi borders over the weekend. “The U.S. flag is now raised over a building,” said journalist Jindar Berekat, a native of the city, “it is not clear how many American soldiers will be stationed at this location, but their armored military vehicles are here and it looks like they are still constructing parts of it.”

“Many here believe that the building of a U.S. base inside Hasakah could be a response to the growing Russian presence in the city,” a local reporter told Voice of America, “this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces in Hasakah.” Russian military units have been present in Syria since 2015, intervening on behalf of the government of Bashar al-Assad. The two foreign superpowers have come close to armed confrontation in Syria many times, including in 2017, when President Trump ordered the bombing of a Russian airbase near the Lebanese border. Already, the American presence has prevented the Russian military from carrying out patrols in northeastern Syria.

While the United States has presented its role in Syria as a counter terrorism operation, Assad’s government has accused it of plundering its resources, “condemn[ing] in the strongest terms the agreement signed between al-Qasd militia (SDF) and an American oil company to steal Syria’s oil under the sponsorship and support of the American administration.” Around 500 American troops have been guarding the country’s oilfields for months, and last summer, Senator Lindsay Graham confirmed that the U.S. had indeed signed a deal with the SDF to “modernize” the country’s oil industry. Damascus considers the agreement “null and void.”

The new base at Hasakah is the latest in a string of actions that suggest the United States wishes to bolster or expand its presence in the war-torn country. Last month, American forces reinforced another base along the M4 highway, which runs from the city of Aleppo through the north of the country and towards the Iraqi border in the east. At the same time, its ally Israel was conducting a series of major airstrikes across the east of the country, reportedly targeting Iranian or pro-Iranian forces.

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Only the good stuff?!

Facebook New Algorithm Will ‘Reduce Political Content’ On News Feeds (JTN)

Facebook announced on Wednesday the social media platform will in the coming weeks start limiting the amount of political content viewers see on their news feeds. The company is aware that “people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed,” Product Management Director Aastha Gupta wrote in a blog post on the site. The change will begin with Facebook temporarily reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week. Gupta said the process will begin in the U.S. in the coming weeks.


The initial rollout will allow the company to explore different methods of ranking political content prior to its deciding on a permanent solution. Facebook has in recent months and years attempted to reducing political content, include no new political ads in the final week of the 2020 presidential campaign. However, the company and other social media giants have meanwhile faced growing scrutiny of what third-party content they choose to censure or block. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed,” Gupta said.

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They’ve lost their party. Might as well start another one.

Former Republican Officials In Talks To Form Anti-Trump Third Party (R.)

Dozens of former Republican officials, who view the party as unwilling to stand up to former President Donald Trump and his attempts to undermine U.S. democracy, are in talks to form a center-right breakaway party, four people involved in the discussions told Reuters. The early stage discussions include former elected Republicans, former officials in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump, ex-Republican ambassadors and Republican strategists, the people involved say. More than 120 of them held a Zoom call last Friday to discuss the breakaway group, which would run on a platform of “principled conservatism,” including adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law – ideas those involved say have been trashed by Trump.

The plan would be to run candidates in some races but also to endorse center-right candidates in others, be they Republicans, independents or Democrats, the people say. Evan McMullin, who was chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election, told Reuters that he co-hosted the Zoom call with former officials concerned about Trump’s grip on Republicans and the nativist turn the party has taken. [..] Call participants said they were particularly dismayed by the fact that more than half of the Republicans in Congress – eight senators and 139 House representatives – voted to block certification of Biden’s election victory just hours after the Capitol siege.

Most Republican senators have also indicated they will not support the conviction of Trump in this week’s Senate impeachment trial. “Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy,” McMullin told Reuters. “The party needs to recommit to truth, reason and founding ideals or there clearly needs to be something new.”

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Why is the idea of surrendering control of parts of the US to Facebook, Google etc. not shot down on sight?

Will Corporation-Owned Smart Cities Come To Nevada? (AN)

With plans reportedly still moving forward for Blockchains, LLC, to break ground on a Tom Wiscombe Architecture and Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC)-designed smart city in Nevada in 2022, Governor Steve Sisolak is looking to give it, and similar developments across the state, the power to form their own governments. According to documents acquired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sisolak has floated a draft proposal to create “Innovation Zones” across the state in a bid to draw technology companies, and giving them the power to set up their own governments. In exchange for this autonomy, the Nevada state government would forgo the tax abatement or incentive packages typically used to encourage big businesses to relocate.

Sisolak first mentioned the idea during his January 19 State of the State address but later confirmed that a draft bill was in the works on February 4 via Twitter. According to the text reviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (subject to change before a final bill is submitted), such an “alternative form of local government” is needed to entice big tech companies, and that over time, the administration of those zones would gradually take over governmental duties from their respective counties. Each zone would be overseen by a three-person board of supervisors, with the company behind the development having the majority of the say in who gets appointed.

It should be noted that the governor’s proposal only extends to companies doing “innovative” work; relating to blockchains, healthcare, robotics, renewable energy research, biometrics, autonomous vehicles, and similar cutting-edge research. Any company applying to set up an Innovation Zone through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development would need to own and be intent on developing at least 50,000 acres not already part of a city or town, $250 million on hand, and a plan to invest at least $1 billion in the area over the next 10 years.


Tom Wiscombe Architecture and EYRC revealed their design for the Blockchains city in 2018, and now the project’s developer may get the power to form its own government there. (Courtesy EYRC Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture)

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No. What Yellen eyes is control.

Yellen Eyes Innovation To Battle Misuse Of Cryptocurrencies (R.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday warned about an “explosion of risk” from digital markets, including the misuse of cryptocurrencies, but said new financial technologies could also help fight crime and reduce inequality. In remarks to a financial sector innovation roundtable, Yellen said such technologies could be used to stem the flow of dark money from organized crime and fight back against hackers, but also to reduce digital gaps in the United States. She said passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in December would allow the Treasury Department to rework a framework for combating illicit finance that has been largely unchanged since the 1970s.


“The update couldn’t have come at a better time,” Yellen told policymakers, regulators and private sector experts. “We’re living amidst an explosion of risk related to fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, and data privacy.” The COVID-19 pandemic had triggered more – and more sophisticated – cyberattacks aimed at hospitals, schools, banks, and the government itself, she said. Cryptocurrencies and virtual assets offered promise, but they had also been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers and to finance terrorism. Innovation in the sector could help address these problems while giving millions of people access to the financial system, she said.

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“..the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom..”

Assange Prosecution Will Continue Under Biden (Gosztola)

The Justice Department under President Joe Biden plans to continue the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that was launched under President Donald Trump. “We continue to seek his extradition,” Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters, days before February 12, the deadline for the United States government to submit its “grounds for appeal.” The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.

On January 4, British district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. government’s extradition request and concluded Assange’s mental condition was “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.” She accepted that Assange would likely be imprisoned at a supermax prison in the U.S. under special administrative measures (SAMs) and would find a way to commit suicide. “I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder.” However, the Biden Justice Department plans to contest the judge’s conclusion that Assange should not be extradited because he would likely commit suicide.

[..] During Biden’s first foreign policy speech on February 4, he proclaimed, “We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential. A free press is essential to the health of a democracy.” However, in Trump’s last year in office, he signed a counterintelligence strategy document that lumped in “leaktivists” and “public disclosure organizations,” like WikiLeaks, with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and terrorist groups, which U.S. security agencies view as “significant threats.” That strategy document, which covers 2020-2022, sharply conflicts with Biden’s assertion that the U.S. government believes the free press is not an adversary. Indeed, it shows U.S. security agencies believe they should monitor, neutralize, and even target dissident media organizations that may employ practices pioneered by WikiLeaks.

While the tone of the new administration may sound more polite toward elite journalists, by refusing to abandon this dangerous political case, the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom and what officials have to say are empty platitudes that should not pacify people aware of what is at stake if Assange is brought to the U.S. and put on trial.

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“The Senate then moved on to other business, passing universal healthcare by a margin of 320,000 to 4.”

In Mail-In Impeachment Vote, Senate Convicts Trump 8275 To 3 (BBee)

In a historic move, the U.S. Senate decided to switch to voting by mail for Trump’s second impeachment trial. After all the votes were counted by an intern in a back room with no cameras, the Senate ruled to convict President Trump of incitement to violence by a vote of 8275 to 3. “Our holy democracy has spoken,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “Do not ask any questions or you are a blasphemer against the sacred sacredness of our vote. Everyone can go home now!” A couple of troublemaking Senators attempted to overthrow the Constitution by bringing up the point that there are only 100 Senators, making it impossible to arrive at a tally of 8275 to 3, but they were quickly removed from the Senate Chambers and condemned for “attempting to suppress the votes of people of color.” The Senate then moved on to other business, passing universal healthcare by a margin of 320,000 to 4.

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Nov 232020
 


Egon Schiele Port of Trieste 1907

 

 

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US, Germany, UK Could Start COVID Vaccinations As Early As December (G.)
AstraZeneca’s COVID19 Vaccine Shows Average Efficiency Of 70% (RT)
Most Coronavirus Cases Are Spread By People Without Symptoms – CDC (CNN)
WHO Envoy Predicts Third Wave Of COVID19 In Europe Next Year (RT)
Portuguese Court: PCR Tests “Unreliable” & Quarantines “Unlawful” (OffG)
Rudy Giuliani: Sidney Powell Not Part Of Trump Legal Team (JTN)
Michael Flynn Jr. on Trump Team’s Sidney Powell Statement (GP)
Nunes Claims Obama Is Joe Biden’s ‘Overlord’, Calls For Special Counsel (DM)
Taxpayers Face $435 Billion in Student-Loan Losses Already Baked In (WS)
China Daily Paid US Newspapers Millions To Publish Propaganda This Year (DC)
The US Has Withdrawn From The Treaty On Open Skies (JTN)

 

 

Save a puppy

 

 

But will it all take a whole year?

US, Germany, UK Could Start COVID Vaccinations As Early As December (G.)

As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January. Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects. Moderna last week released preliminary data for its vaccine showing 94.5% effectiveness.


The better-than-expected results from the two vaccines, both developed with new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, have raised hopes of an easing of a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people. In the US, the head of the US vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday. “Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said in an interview to CNN. Citing government sources, the Telegraph also said the UK’s National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December. Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

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That’s not very high. How about the Russian vaccine?

AstraZeneca’s COVID19 Vaccine Shows Average Efficiency Of 70% (RT)

The coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drug maker AstraZeneca has shown an average efficiency of 70 percent, depending on dosage, the partners said as they announced clinical trial results. The developers revealed the preliminary results on Monday, following trials conducted in the UK and Brazil. Depending on the dosage, the vaccine showed varying efficiency of up to 90 percent, while the Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective and Russia’s Sputnik V is 92 percent effective. “One dosing regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90 percent when AZD1222 was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart, and another dosing regimen showed 62 percent efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart,” the AstraZeneca developers said in a statement, adding, “analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70 percent.”


AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot said the vaccine’s “efficacy and safety” showed it will be highly effective against the coronavirus and it will have an “immediate impact” on the Covid-19 crisis. The announcement was welcomed by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who said the preliminary trial results were “fantastic news.” “These figures … shows that the vaccine in the right dosage can be up to 90 percent effective,” he told Sky News. “We’ve got 100 million doses on order and should all that go well, the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.”

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Confusion over droplets vs arerosols.

Most COVID transmission by people without symptoms
– Ppl w/o symptoms don’t cough and sneeze much
– When talking, aerosols dominate over droplets by x100-2000
– Surfaces transmit inefficiently (per CDC)

Most Coronavirus Cases Are Spread By People Without Symptoms – CDC (CNN)

Most coronavirus infections are spread by people who have no symptoms, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in newly updated guidance. It’s one of the main reasons mask use is so important, the CDC said. “Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms,” the agency said in a section of its website devoted to explaining the science of how to use masks to control the spread of the virus. “CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms,” it added in the guidance posted Friday. “This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others.”


According to the CDC, 24% of people who transmit the virus to others never develop symptoms and another 35% were pre-symptomatic. It also said 41% infected others while experiencing symptoms. Peak infectiousness comes five days after infection, the agency said on the website. “With these assumptions, 59% of infections would be transmitted when no symptoms are present but could range (from) 51%-70% if the fraction of asymptomatic infections were 24%-30% and peak infectiousness ranged 4-6 days.” It cited a study published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and as-yet unpublished CDC data. Previously, the health organization has not characterized what percentage of infections are spread by symptomless people. “Infection is spread primarily through exposure to respiratory droplets exhaled by infected people when they breathe, talk, cough, sneeze, or sing,” the agency added.

Read more …

WHO still not in favor of lockdowns. But that falls on deaf ears.

WHO Envoy Predicts Third Wave Of COVID19 In Europe Next Year (RT)

With Europe already suffering a second wave of coronavirus infections, World Health Organization envoy David Nabarro has warned that the region could see another spike in infections next year In an interview on Saturday with Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung, Nabarro said that European governments failed to build up the “necessary infrastructure” to keep the virus under control after the first wave of infections this spring. Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year. Infections are once again surging throughout Europe, after a lull this summer.


France and Germany recorded some 33,000 new cases combined on Saturday, while the UK reported nearly 20,000 cases on the same day, and Spain announced more than 15,000 on Friday. Deaths remain proportionally lower throughout Europe than during the first wave, however. Despite Nabarro’s stark prediction, the WHO has cautioned against responding too heavy-handedly to the pandemic. In a briefing on Thursday, the organization’s European director, Hans Kluge, called for “systematic and general mask-wearing” and “strict controls on social gatherings,” but described national lockdowns as a “last resort” policy.

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“The reddit Covid19 board actually removed the post, because it was “not a reliable source”, despite relying on the official court documents.”

Portuguese Court: PCR Tests “Unreliable” & Quarantines “Unlawful” (OffG)

An appeals court in Portugal has ruled that the PCR process is not a reliable test for Sars-Cov-2, and therefore any enforced quarantine based on those test results is unlawful. Further, the ruling suggested that any forced quarantine applied to healthy people could be a violation of their fundamental right to liberty. Most importantly, the judges ruled that a single positive PCR test cannot be used as an effective diagnosis of infection. The specifics of the case concern four tourists entering the country from Germany – all of whom are anonymous in the transcript of the case – who were quarantined by the regional health authority. Of the four, only one had tested positive for the virus, whilst the other three were deemed simply of “high infection risk” based on proximity to the positive individual.

All four had, in the previous 72 hours, tested negative for the virus before departing from Germany. In their ruling, judges Margarida Ramos de Almeida and Ana Paramés referred to several scientific studies. Most notably this study by Jaafar et al., which found that – when running PCR tests with 35 cycles or more – the accuracy dropped to 3%, meaning up to 97% of positive results could be false positives. The ruling goes on to conclude that, based on the science they read, any PCR test using over 25 cycles is totally unreliable. Governments and private labs have been very tight-lipped about the exact number of cycles they run when PCR testing, but it is known to sometimes be as high as 45. Even fearmonger-in-chief Anthony Fauci has publicly stated anything over 35 is totally unusable.

[..] The media reaction to this case has been entirely predictable – they have not mentioned it. At all. Anywhere. Ever. The ruling was published on November 11th, and has been referenced by many alt-news sites since…but the mainstream outlets are maintaining a complete blackout on it. The reddit Covid19 board actually removed the post, because it was “not a reliable source”, despite relying on the official court documents.

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Looks a bit sloppy.

Rudy Giuliani: Sidney Powell Not Part Of Trump Legal Team (JTN)

Rudy Giuliani, the lead attorney for President Trump’s election challenges, and Trump Campaign Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis said Sunday that high-profile attorney Sidney Powell does not work for the president personally or for his campaign. “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own,” the statement from Giuliani and Ellis said. “She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.” Powell on Thursday spoke during a press conference where Giuliani and Ellis also spoke. “I look forward to Mayor Giuliani spearheading the legal effort to defend OUR RIGHT to FREE and FAIR ELECTIONS!” President Trump tweeted on November 14. “Rudy Giuliani, Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, a truly great team, added to our other wonderful lawyers and representatives!”

Powell, who has alleged that massive corruption occurred during the 2020 election, said during an interview on Newsmax that a “biblical” filing is forthcoming regarding the state of Georgia. “Georgia is extremely bad,” Powell said. “We’ve got ballots being shredded, ballots being thrown out in trash bags…the votes being switched, the algorithms being run: You name the manner of fraud and it occurred in Georgia,” she said. While media outlets have projected Joe Biden to be the winner of the 2020 presidential contest, President Trump has not conceded and has made allegations of election fraud.

The Peach State is “probably gonna be the first state I’m gonna blow up,” Powell said, remarking that “Mr. Kemp and the secretary of state need to go with it because they’re in on the Dominon scam with their last minute purchase or award of a contract to Dominon of $100 million dollars. The state bureau of investigation for Georgia oughta be looking into the financial benefits received by Mr. Kemp and the secretary of state’s family about that time.”

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She was suspended by Twitter too.

Michael Flynn Jr. on Trump Team’s Sidney Powell Statement (GP)

As we suspected, the news this evening about Sidney Powell not being on the Trump team is an act to protect Sidney and the Trump team and not a message of disappointment in her latest interviews and actions at all. The Trump campaign issued a statement Sunday night announcing Sidney Powell is not a member of President Trump’s legal team. The statement was posted online by campaign attorney Jenna Ellis on behalf of lead campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani. Powell had appeared at a campaign legal team press conference earlier this week alongside Giuliani and Ellis. Statement:

Attorney Sidney Powell was not able to respond tonight. Sidney was censored and suspended by Twitter earlier today. Mike Flynn, Jr. released a statement tonight.

Sidney released a statement to CBS News. She signed off — #KrakenOnSteroids

General Michael Flynn’s son, Mike Jr., followed up with a message tonight on Parler noting that the earlier message from the President’s team is not a reflection of any misstatements on Sidney’s part:

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‘President Obama is the only president that I know that only moved about a mile from the White House – set up shop, has all his people there..’

Nunes Claims Obama Is Joe Biden’s ‘Overlord’, Calls For Special Counsel (DM)

Rep. Devin Nunes has claimed former President Barack Obama is President-elect Joe Biden’s ‘overlord’ and called for a special counsel to take over the investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. Nunes, a California Republican and staunch ally of President Donald Trump, appeared on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures in an interview with host Maria Bartiromo. ‘President Obama is the only president that I know that only moved about a mile from the White House – set up shop, has all his people there,’ Nunes said, referring to the Obama family’s rented mansion in Washington DC. ‘Most of his people were promoting Kamala Harris to run before she bombed out, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, and then they propped up Joe Biden,’ Nunes claimed.

Later in the interview, Nunes referred to Obama as Biden’s ‘overlord.’ Nunes also called on Attorney General Bill Barr to appoint a special counsel to take over U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into potential malfeasance in the Russian collusion investigation. ‘Now we’re sitting waiting for Durham to complete this investigation. I think people are getting not only very frustrated but also, there’s a growing concern that Durham is not going to come out with anything and then Biden and Obama are going to be back in, and they’re going to shut this investigation off,’ Nunes said. Durham was appointed by Barr more than a year and a half ago to investigate any misconduct by the FBI and others others related to the inquiry into links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

So far, Durham’s investigation has secured one guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer, who admitted to doctoring a document used to obtain surveillance warrants on a Trump campaign aide. Trump has raged that the Russian collusion probe, which cast a shadow over much of his presidency, was a ‘failed coup,’ and expressed fury that Durham did not issue more indictments prior to the November election. Nunes said that he feared Biden’s administration would shut down the Durham probe before it could be concluded. ‘I’ve been very clear about this,’ the congressman said. ‘Every day that ticks by, it’s going to become an absolute necessity that a special counsel is appointed on the way out.’

‘Now that doesn’t mean that Biden wouldn’t fire the special counsel, but at least you’d have a special counsel office set up, with money, so that this investigation can continue, because I’m not seeing the indictments that I should be seeing when you take into the account that I’ve made 14 criminal referrals involving dozens and dozens of people,’ he continued.

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“Most of the losses would come from the already established income-based repayment programs and the debt forgiveness at the end of their term.”

Taxpayers Face $435 Billion in Student-Loan Losses Already Baked In (WS)

In 2009, the US government entered the business of reckless, no-matter-what lending to students, even to older students with subprime credit ratings and to students at iffy for-profit colleges with dubious degree programs. And then tuition soared, and student housing went upscale and became a global asset class with its own commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) that are now experiencing record delinquency rates. And Apple and textbook publishers and everyone began feeding at the big trough, with students just being the conduit for this money. Student-loan balances on the government’s financial statement skyrocketed from $147 billion in 2009 to $1.37 trillion at the beginning of 2020, despite the 11% decline in student enrollment since 2011.


Taxpayers face a loss of $435 billion on the $1.37 trillion in student loans on the government’s financial statement at the beginning of this year, even if no additional loans are issued going forward, according to an internal study by the Department of Education, reported by the Wall Street Journal which reviewed the documents. Most of the losses would come from the already established income-based repayment programs and the debt forgiveness at the end of their term. The expected loss of $435 billion is far larger than the rosy estimates released previously, including the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate in May 2019 of a loss of $31 billion, including administrative costs. The student loan balances in the chart above do not include student loans carried by private lenders that are guaranteed by the US government and that will produce additional losses for taxpayers.

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Is this legal?

China Daily Paid US Newspapers Millions To Publish Propaganda This Year (DC)

An English-language newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department paid U.S. media companies nearly $2 million for printing and advertising expenses over the past six months, even amid heightened scrutiny over Beijing’s disinformation efforts in the West. China Daily paid The Wall Street Journal more than $85,000 and the Los Angeles Times $340,000 for advertising campaigns between May and October 2020, according to a disclosure that the propaganda mill filed this week with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). China Daily also paid Foreign Policy magazine $100,000, The Financial Times, a U.K.-based newspaper, $223,710, and $132,046 to the Canadian outlet Globe & Mail for advertising campaigns, according to the filing.


The Beijing-based outlet paid several newspaper companies a total of $1,154,666 for printing costs, including $110,000 to the Los Angeles Times, $92,000 to The Houston Chronicle and $76,000 to The Boston Globe. Overall, China Daily spent more than $4.4 million on printing, distribution, advertising and administration expenses over the past six months, according to the FARA filing. China Daily, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party’s State Council Information Office, its propaganda agency, has for years paid newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and other Western countries to publish advertorials designed to look like legitimate news articles. China Daily paid The Washington Post more than $4.6 million from late 2016 through October 2019, according to a FARA disclosure China Daily filed in June. The Journal received $6 million for advertorials from 2016 through April 2020, according to the disclosure.

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RussiaRussia.

The US Has Withdrawn From The Treaty On Open Skies (JTN)

The U.S. departed the Treaty on Open Skies on Sunday, following an announcement earlier this year that the nation planned to withdraw from the treaty. “On May 22, 2020, the United States exercised its right pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article XV of the Treaty on Open Skies by providing notice to the Treaty Depositaries and to all States Parties of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty, effective six months from the notification date,” a press statement from the State Department’s Cale Brown notes. “Six months having elapsed, the U.S. withdrawal took effect on November 22, 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies.”


In a statement earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompo accused Russia of violating the treaty. “While the United States along with our Allies and partners that are States Parties to the Treaty have lived up to our commitments and obligations under the Treaty, Russia has flagrantly and continuously violated the Treaty in various ways for years,” Pompeo said. “This is not a story exclusive to just the Treaty on Open Skies, unfortunately, for Russia has been a serial violator of many of its arms control obligations and commitments.”

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Oct 062020
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Old Man Sitting 1631

 

‘Don’t Let It Dominate You. Don’t Be Afraid Of It’ – President Trump (JTN)
WHO: 760 Million May Have Been Infected With Novel Coronavirus (JTN)
CDC Acknowledges Coronavirus Spreads Through Airborne Transmission (CNBC)
Gina Haspel Banks On Trump Loss To Keep Russiagate Documents Hidden (Fed.)
Carter Page Wants McCabe Subpoenaed To Testify Before Senate (JTN)
Ginsburg’s Nightmare: The Democratic Plan To Destroy The Supreme Court (Turley)
Out of the Woods? (Jim Kunstler)
100,000 Ballot Requests Invalidated In Iowa (IC)
Debt Collectors Have Made a Fortune This Year. They’re Coming for More (PP)
Facebook Refuses To Appoint Turkey Representative, Faces Penalties (Ahval)
UK Court Decision on Venezuela Gold Deals Blow to Regime Change Efforts (MPN)
Former Reserve Bank Of Australia Boss: Low Rates Haven’t Done Any Good (AFR)
John McAfee Arrested In Spain On Tax Evasion & Crypto Fraud, Awaits Extradition To US (RT)
Trump Briefly Leaves Hospital To Wave To Supporters From F-22 Raptor (BBee)

 

 

Trump has long known that it makes no difference what he says or does, everything will be presented in a form that can be used against him anyway. If he says: don’t be afraid of it, the media will tell everyone to be very afraid.

There’s only one exception: if he would start a war. Let’s hope he doesn’t fall into that trap.

 

 

US national debt
https://twitter.com/GeorgeGammon/status/1313124363541991425

 

 

 

 

Media reaction: be afraid! And: don’t let Trump dominate you! Bit late for that now.

‘Don’t Let It Dominate You. Don’t Be Afraid Of It’ – President Trump (JTN)

President Trump on Monday night released a new video message in which he urged Americans to be cautious but not fear the coronavirus or allow it to consume their lives. “I just left Walter Reed Medical Center and it’s really something very special, the doctors, the nurses, the first responders, and I learned so much about coronavirus,” the president said. “And one thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines, all developed recently.” “I went, I didn’t feel so good. And two days ago, I could’ve left two days ago. Two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time. I said just recently, better than 20 years ago,” Trump said.


“I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s ok. And now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there. Be careful. We have the best medicines in the world and it all happened very shortly and they’re all getting approved. And the vaccines are coming momentarily,” the president said. President Trump on Monday evening departed Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been staying since Friday evening, and returned to the White House.

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Based on what information?

WHO: 760 Million May Have Been Infected With Novel Coronavirus (JTN)

The World Health Organization estimated Monday that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide have been infected by the novel coronavirus – more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases. The estimate was made by Dr. Michael Ryan, who leads the WHO’s emergencies division, during a session with the group’s 34-member executive board He said that the number was his “best estimates” and that “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” He also said “many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected.” The new estimate from the WHO would indicate that 760 million people worldwide have been infected with the novel virus, a number far surpassing the currently reported 35 million confirmed cases. Ryan also said that the group is getting reports of a surge of cases in Asia and Europe. The doctor cautioned that the world may now be “heading into a difficult period. The disease continued to spread. It is on the rise in many parts of the world.”

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Are these people trying to clarify something, or just to confuse me? What of this didn’t we already know?

CDC Acknowledges Coronavirus Spreads Through Airborne Transmission (CNBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its coronavirus guidance Monday, acknowledging that it can sometimes spread through airborne particles that can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and among people who are more than 6 feet apart. The CDC cited published reports that demonstrated “limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.” “In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise,” the CDC said in a statement. “Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles.”

The agency added that it is “much more common” for the virus to spread through larger respiratory droplets that are produced when somebody coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. People are infected through such droplets mostly when they are in close contact with an infected person, the CDC said. “CDC’s recommendations remain the same based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance,” the agency said. “People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick.” To what degree the coronavirus can spread through airborne particles has been a contentious debate among scientists for months.

Some epidemiologists have charged that the World Health Organization as well as federal regulatory agencies in many countries have been slow to accept that the virus can spread by air. It’s a debate that could have implications for the importance of air filtration in reopening businesses and schools. Dr. Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said the new guidance is largely in line with what he says the science indicates about the coronavirus spreading through the air. He said in a phone interview after reviewing the new guidance that airborne transmission is something of a “side street” for spread. “Some cars do get through on the side street,” he said. “But the highways of transmission are close in, usually within enclosed spaces and for periods of time longer than 15 minutes with people standing within three to six feet of each other.”

[..] Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist and biodefense expert at the University of Arizona, said the new CDC guidance is “quite good.” She added that “the term airborne means so much to so many people,” and the guidance does a good job of emphasizing that the virus appears to only spread by air in certain environments, such as crowded indoor and poorly ventilated spaces. “We know that these events are occurring, but they’re not the primary driver,” she said in a phone interview. “This is a good reminder that there are environments that are higher risk for airborne transmission and we just need to communicate that.”

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Running out the clock. Trump picked the wrong people in many high positions.

Gina Haspel Banks On Trump Loss To Keep Russiagate Documents Hidden (Fed.)

CIA Director Gina Haspel is personally blocking the declassification and release of key Russiagate documents in the hopes that President Donald Trump will lose his re-election bid, multiple senior U.S. officials told The Federalist. The officials said Haspel, who served under former CIA Director John Brennan as the spy agency’s station chief in London in 2016 and 2017, is concerned that the declassification and release of documents detailing what the CIA was doing during the 2016 election and the 2017 transition could embarrass the CIA and potentially even implicate Haspel herself. “Haspel and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray both want Trump to lose, because it’s the only chance they have of keeping their jobs,” one senior intelligence official told The Federalist.

“They’re banking on Biden winning and keeping them where they are.” The Federalist first reported last week that Haspel had emerged as the primary roadblock to declassification of materials showing that the U.S. intelligence community knew prior to the 2016 election that the allegations that Trump colluded with Russia were themselves the products of Russian disinformation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a declassified summary last week that disclosed that Russian intelligence officials were aware that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had planned to smear Trump as a treasonous Russian asset to distract from the Clinton’s e-mail scandal. As part of her operation, Clinton hired a foreign agent who was himself working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch to spread unverified smears against Trump.


One of the key sources of collusion allegations peddled by that foreign agent via the now-infamous Steele dossier was suspected by FBI authorities of being a Russian spy.“It’s far more important for Haspel to block any embarrassment of herself or her agency than to have full transparency and accountability,” another senior intelligence official told The Federalist. “She’s just hoping she can get past the election so the documents will never come out.” “This is not a source protection issue, it’s an embarrassment issue,” the intelligence official added. Officials also accused Haspel of repeatedly lying to the White House about the status of documents that are in the pipeline for declassification and release. These officials said that Haspel has consistently provided baseless excuses for her failure to produce certain documents, falsely claiming that she can’t physically locate documents, or that her agency doesn’t technically own them and therefore cannot release them.

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New: refusing to testify by video because of coronavirus.

Carter Page Wants McCabe Subpoenaed To Testify Before Senate (JTN)

Former Trump 2016 campaign adviser Carter Page says former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should be subpoenaed to testify Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after backing out over coronavirus concerns. “Hopefully a subpoena is issued today,” Page told “Just the News AM” host Carrie Sheffield. “It’s now Monday morning, and I hope that is resolved so that he can show up and be held to account and answer for these terrible problems that were created.” McCabe was set to testify before the committee on the FBI’s now-discredited Trump-Russia probe.


However, the committee postponed the hearing over McCabe’s coronavirus concerns, after two GOP members, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), tested positive for the virus in recent days. McCabe’s attorney said the alternative, to testify remotely via video camera, would be too complex and contentious. “I think it’s another example of the complete double standards,” said Page. “So many Trump supporters including myself, were dragged in front of not only the U.S. Senate, which is what’s in question here, but the House.” Page, on whom the FBI illegally eavesdropped, also expressed frustration about being a target in special counsel Robert Mueller’s years-long collusion probe.

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“Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed it was wrong to demand assurances on how justices will vote. In her confirmation hearing in 1993, she refused to give the answer that Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Clinton, and others now demand from her potential successor.”

Ginsburg’s Nightmare: The Democratic Plan To Destroy The Supreme Court (Turley)

[..] the call for a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees and the packing of the Supreme Court with up to six new members to secure a majority. Both ideas were expressly denounced by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Indeed, to achieve these objectives, the Democratic members will have to tear down the very rule established by Ginsburg in her confirmation hearing. The refusal of Vice President Joe Biden to answer repeated questions about his position on the packing of the Supreme Court is deeply troubling. This is a proposal raised not by the Republicans but his own running mate Kamala Harris and leading Democrats. It would destroy the Supreme Court and voters should know if Biden would consider such an irresponsible act, particularly when he previously denounced it.

The refusal to stand against the proposal is a fundamental failure of leadership. Rather than confront the most extreme elements of his party, Biden has chosen to remain silent on a major issue in this election. Frankly, that is not the Biden that many of us knew from his time in the Senate. He should take a stand against this pernicious idea and defend the institution, as he did in 2019 [..] Subtlety has been a stranger to our politics. This is the age of rage, and there is little room for nuance. That is evident in the intense debate over the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Democrats have dispensed with any pretense in their calls to block her and pack the bench with more justices. What they want is a Supreme Court with litmus test confirmations where Senate votes are conditioned on pledges.


Several Democrats have said they will ask Barrett about her view of any challenge to Roe versus Wade, and cases like the pending challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, she faced such demands from Richard Blumenthal and others for her confirmation as a federal appellate judge, and several Democrats voted against her since she did not promise to uphold Roe. In their campaigns last year, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders pledged to nominate only those who would uphold Roe. [..] Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed it was wrong to demand assurances on how justices will vote. In her confirmation hearing in 1993, she refused to give the answer that Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Clinton, and others now demand from her potential successor. In calling to protect the legacy of Ginsburg, these politicians have to first tear down the Ginsburg rule.

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“..a keening wail of lamentation rings out across the land at Mr. Trump’s possible, dastardly recovery. How dare he! — to paraphrase Saint Greta Thunberg.”

Out of the Woods? (Jim Kunstler)

CNN had a whack attack. Brian Stelter was beside himself, hinting that sinister forces had punked the network, and all the other righteous Resistance cadres, and that Mr. Trump could be endangering every federal employee down to the enlisted men posted overseas by venturing from his sickroom. The New York Times went farther afield (of course), declaring that “the murky and shifting narrative of his illness was rewritten again with grim new details.” Nicely put by an outfit that has come to specialize in shifting narratives! And indeed, the new Resistance narrative demands to know just exactly when did the president start to feel ill? Did he, perhaps on-purpose, haul his ailing, hulking, scheming Golem ass into the Cleveland debate venue with the hope of infecting his rival, delicate Ol’ White Joe Biden?

Did he recklessly put at risk the White House staff, dignitaries and luminaries coming and going, their family members, associates, underlings, servants, children? Did he threaten the global order, world peace, the fate of humanity? So now, a keening wail of lamentation rings out across the land at Mr. Trump’s possible, dastardly recovery. How dare he! — to paraphrase Saint Greta Thunberg. 209,000 other Americans died, and not him! What vile and unholy devices got him out of a sure death sentence? No doubt Democratic Party astrologasters and consulting augurers will be searching for clues among the orbiting planets and the spilled organs of sacrificed chickens in the days to come. Perhaps Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) can snare a few of the president’s attending physicians into his House Intel Committee and rev up another impeachment for going against doctors’ orders.


Wouldn’t that be a delectable counter to the looming confirmation process for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement next door in the Senate this month? Over his dead body, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is hinting — a tantalizing prospect, with Covid-19 on the loose. It was Chuck who memorably told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC in 2017 that the Deep State “has six ways from [sic] Sunday at getting back at you.” By my count, they’re well over their allotted six by now. Not only did they all fail, but the seditionists behind them are liable to wind up behind bars before this is all over, perhaps even a few of Senator Schumer’s colleagues.

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Many stories developing. A mess overall. Seemingly impossible to regulate on a federal level.

100,000 Ballot Requests Invalidated In Iowa (IC)

In 2018, Democrats won three of Iowa’s four congressional districts, picked up five seats in the state House, and lost the governor’s race by less than 3 points. The state has only trended more Democratic since, giving the party real hope that its six electoral votes could wind up in the camp of Joe Biden and that its Senate seat, now held by Republican Joni Ernst, could flip to Democrat Theresa Greenfield. It may all hinge, however, on an absentee ballot snafu affecting tens of thousands of voters that the party is scrambling to rectify. In July, the top elections officials in Linn and Johnson counties went ahead and began mailing out absentee-ballot request forms with some voter information already filled in, like names and dates of birth.

Crucially, voters need to know their voter ID number. Most don’t, and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller had the state’s vendor fill it in for them. Republicans protested, and courts sided with the GOP, saying that Miller’s decision to proceed with the mailing violated a “clear directive” from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. More than 100,000 absentee ballot requests have already been invalidated in several Iowa counties. In late August, judges ordered two Iowa counties to invalidate at least 64,000 ballot requests, siding with a challenge brought by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the GOP, which have been filing similar lawsuits nationwide.


About 50,000 voters in Linn County and at least 14,000 in Woodbury will be informed that their absentee-ballot requests won’t count and that anyone who still wants to vote by mail in November will have to send in a new form in order to receive their ballot. In a separate case in Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, more than 92,000 ballot request forms were voided.

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The ultimate growth industry.

Debt Collectors Have Made a Fortune This Year. They’re Coming for More (PP)

Earlier this year, the pandemic swept across the country, killing 100,000 Americans by the spring, shuttering businesses and schools, and forcing people into their homes. It was a great time to be a debt collector. In August, Encore Capital, the largest debt buyer in the country, announced that it had doubled its previous record for earnings in a quarter. It primarily had the CARES Act to thank: The bill delivered hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stimulus checks and bulked-up unemployment benefits to Americans, while easing pressures on them by halting foreclosures, evictions and student loan payments. There was no ban on collections of old credit card bills, Encore’s specialty.

At the same time, the pandemic compelled households to cut spending. Finding themselves with enough money to settle old debts, people responded to collectors’ calls and letters. Debt-buying executives couldn’t help marveling at their good fortune. All this created “a perfect storm from a cash perspective,” the CEO of Portfolio Recovery Associates, Encore’s main competitor, told Wall Street analysts. After its record second quarter, analysts expect Encore to blow past $200 million in profit this year and reward stockholders with 40% earnings growth compared with last year. Portfolio Recovery is set for similar growth. The share prices of both have soared off their early April lows.


[..] In recent months, the only real bad news for debt buyers was that local courts across the country temporarily shut down. Debt collection lawsuits provide a key source of revenue for the companies, a way to extract payment from consumers, typically low-income, who don’t offer it up. But now even that hiccup is over. After a bit of a lull in the spring, Encore and other debt buyers are back at it, filing suits by the thousands every week, according to ProPublica’s analysis of state court filings. In August alone, Encore filed about 1,000 suits in Indiana and over 2,000 suits in the metro Atlanta area. Other debt buyers jumped back in as well. In Chicago, Portfolio Recovery filed over 3,000 suits in July, while LVNV, a major debt buyer privately owned by Sherman Financial Group, filed over 2,700 suits in Maryland in August.

Read more …

Might as well leave right now.

Facebook Refuses To Appoint Turkey Representative, Faces Penalties (Ahval)

Social media giant Facebook has decided against appointing a Turkey representative, defying a requirement placed on certain social media platforms by the Turkish government, cyber rights expert Yaman Akdeniz said on Monday. “Facebook has decided not to appoint a Turkey representative in line with (Turkey’s) newly-passed Social Media Law,’’ Akdeniz said on Twitter. In July, Turkish parliament ratified a bill introducing new powers to control social media. The bill was passed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stipulates that social media companies with more than one million users must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to address the authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for its removal.


Akdeniz said it remains to be seen what the government’s reaction would be, but underlined that the bill was passed by parliament in a period of 10 days without consultation and posed serious problems regarding basic rights and freedoms. Facebook’s refusal to comply with the law would mean they will be faced with “a tiered penalty system,’’ Akdeniz said. “They will be slapped with a penalty of 10 million lira ($1.28 million) in November, followed by 30 million lira in December,’’ he said. “There is a six-month period ahead that leads all the way to the reduction of Internet bandwidth.’’ According to the law, companies could face fines, blocked advertisements or have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90 percent.

Read more …

Did that coup fail or what?

UK Court Decision on Venezuela Gold Deals Blow to Regime Change Efforts (MPN)

United Kingdom court has handed the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro a major win today, overturning a previous ruling from a lower court that legitimized the British government’s decision to freeze Venezuelan government gold reserves held in the Bank of England. The English Court of Appeal ruled that the Conservative administration of Boris Johnson’s position that Juan Guaidó is the country’s legitimate ruler was far from equivocal, potentially paving the way for some $1.95 billion of the Central Bank of Venezuela’s gold to be accessed.

Following President Trump’s lead, in July, the U.K. government took the extraordinary step of derecognizing President Maduro in favor of the self-declared Guaidó, despite the fact that for nearly six months, he had not even been a member of his Popular Will party, let alone its leader. The move was labeled “highway robbery” by supporters of the Venezuelan government. A nearly unheard of politician before his ascension to the role of head of the Venezuelan National Assembly (a post given out on a yearly rotational basis among all parties in the institution) in January 2019, Guaidó shocked the country by using his appointment to unilaterally declare himself president of the country. He then led a series of coup attempts throughout 2019 and 2020, the last of which involved paying Trump-linked American mercenaries to shoot their way into the presidential palace.


However, the plan ended in complete disaster, with the Americans subsequently sentenced to 20 years of prison time. Guaidó based his claim to power on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which allows a president to be removed if he “abandons his position” or becomes “permanently unavailable to serve” for whatever reason. Maduro, however, had clearly not left his post. Regardless, if he had, Article 233 states that the vice-president would take charge until a new election by universal suffrage was held. Guaidó’s party was not even registered to stand in elections, having boycotted them the year previously under U.S. orders.

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They’ve done a lot of harm though.

“Once the majority do it, you really have no choice,” Mr Macfarlane said..”

Former Reserve Bank Of Australia Boss: Low Rates Haven’t Done Any Good (AFR)

Former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Ian Macfarlane says cutting interest rates to near zero has not done “any good” and warned ultra-loose monetary policy will have long-term costs for pensioners and insurance companies. In a very rare public critique of the RBA by a former governor, Mr Macfarlane said technology and globalisation were now more powerful forces than interest rates in affecting inflation, but central bankers were reluctant to admit their limitations. “I’ve been disappointed with the recent cuts in interest rates, all of them since about 2015,” Mr Macfarlane said. “The latest round of cutting interest rates and quantitative easing, I myself don’t think they’ve done any good.

“I thought, ‘wow, you didn’t need to do that’ but I don’t think there’s any way my successors could have stood there and said to the world ‘we’re not going to do that, we’re going to do it our way’.” The Australian dollar would have jumped “through the roof” if the RBA refused to follow other central banks cutting interest rates to near-zero, to buy government bonds and deploy other extraordinary monetary stimulus, he said. “Once the majority do it, you really have no choice,” Mr Macfarlane said in long interview on The Jolly Swagman podcast. Mr Macfarlane, RBA governor from 1996 to 2006, said there would be long-term economic costs of prolonged ultra-low interest rates.


“I think the jury is out on monetary policy for another decade or more because there are very big costs to having almost zero interest rates,” he said. “The whole retirement income industry – the pension funds, the superannuation funds, including insurance companies and businesses like that – don’t quite know how to operate with interest rates that are negligible because they’ve never had to do it before.” [..] “Monetary policy hasn’t lost its power, it’s used up all its power and there isn’t any more room.”

Read more …

Perhaps John should have seen a shrink.

John McAfee Arrested In Spain On Tax Evasion & Crypto Fraud (RT)

Former software guru and one-time presidential candidate John McAfee has been nabbed in Spain on tax evasion and cryptocurrency fraud, ending his year long stint as a globetrotting fugitive. He now faces extradition to the US. The US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission both announced charges for McAfee on Monday, hitting the security software founder with 10 counts linked to dodging the IRS and another series of charges for promoting investments in cryptocurrencies without disclosing that he was paid some $23 million to do so. “John McAfee earned millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary,” the DOJ said in a statement. “From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources.”


McAfee was charged on five counts for willful failure to file a tax return, each of which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison, while the other five charges are linked to tax evasion itself, which could each result in up to five years behind bars. Originally filed in June, the newly unsealed indictment does not implicate McAfee’s former software company, which bears his name. The SEC also accused McAfee of promoting “multiple [initial coin offerings] on Twitter” while “pretending to be impartial and independent even though he was paid more than $23 million in digital assets for the promotions.” The complaint also alleges that McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Watson Jr., engaged in a separate scheme to promote cryptocurrencies on Twitter and then sell them off as their price rose. The government did not name the particular currencies in its complaint.

Read more …

What could have been.

Trump Briefly Leaves Hospital To Wave To Supporters From F-22 Raptor (BBee)

A nurse working at Walter Reed Medical Center checked in on Trump but was shocked to discover his room was empty. She looked out the window, and sure enough, he had tied bedsheets together and escaped. Just then, the nurse noticed a cup of Diet Coke left by the bedside began to ripple and shake. “Oh, no,” she murmured. “Not again!” Looking out the window, she saw a speck on the horizon. A rapidly growing speck. It was Trump, gloriously flying by in an F-22 fighter jet. “Sorry, Pence — but it’s time to buzz the tower!” Trump radioed to his wingman, who flashed him a smile and a thumbs-up. He flew by the hospital and waved to his cheering supporters.


“America!” the president cried as he flew by the ecstatic crowd, though they couldn’t hear him over the roar of the fighter jet’s engines. “I feel the need — the need for speed!” Media condemned the move, saying Trump could very well have spread COVID to every person on the planet with his little stunt, though he was all alone in a tiny cockpit far above the ground.

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 222020
 
 September 22, 2020  Posted by at 9:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Ray K. Metzker Marseille 1961

 

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was on ‘Direct Orders From US President’ (Sp.)
160 Officials From Across The World Call For Assange’s Release (NBC)
A Second UK COVID19 Lockdown Is Doomed To Fail: Brits Won’t Comply (RT)
CDC Stumbles Again, Says COVID19 Guidance Posted ‘In Error’ (NBC)
China, WHO Could Have Helped Prevent Pandemic: Congressional Report (NYP)
Lancet Changes Editorial Policy After HCQ Study Retraction (G.)
Ballot Harvesting Party Will Be Over if Tulsi Gabbard Gets Her Way (NM)
Trump Says Aides Rejected His Request To Adjust Value Of Dollar (R.)
European Bank Stocks Swoon to 1988 Low (WS)
Virgin Islands AG Subpoenas Entirety Of Epstein Flight Logs (RT)
Kennedy’s US-Russia Joint Space Vision Must Be Revived (Ehret)
Activist Warns Left: Trump Might Pick First Black Female Justice (JTN)
Trump Fires Giant Pink Glitter Cannon To Reveal SCOTUS Nominee Gender (BBee)

 

 

1 million global deaths is not far off. Expect a ton of publicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cassandra is a Trump supporter – but an even stronger Assange supporter- who just proved that the trial is political. Which means Julian cannot under British law be extradited. Or at least that’s what the law says.

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was on ‘Direct Orders From US President’ (Sp.)

Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks has informed the court in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that Arthur Schwartz, who is known as Donald Trump Jr’s “fixer”, had advance warning of the US indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher. Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy was done so “on direct orders from the [US] president”, according to information provided to American journalist Cassandra Fairbanks. Ms Fairbanks’ explosive testimony would appear to support to position that Mr Assange’s prosecution has a political dimension and reflected a shift in the government’s attitude with a change in administration from that of former president Barack Obama.

According to Ms Fairbanks’ witness statement, which was read into the court by the defence in Mr Assange’s extradition hearing on 21 September 2020, she was contacted by Arthur Schwartz, “a wealthy GOP donor who does communications for [former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell] and works as an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr”. During this phone call, which Ms Fairbanks recorded, Mr Schwartz was panicking because he believed a Tweet that she published revealed “classified information”. Ms Fairbanks attempted to calm down Mr Schwartz saying that she didn’t publish classified information and that she merely shared a link to a report from ABC news which described the role that Mr Grenell played in coordinating Mr Assange’s release.

Mr Schwartz was not put at ease by Ms Fairbanks’ assurances and asked her to delete the Tweet. “I don’t want to go to prison” Mr Schwartz told Ms Fairbanks, adding that people are aware of the fact that the two have been communicating with each other and have been seen with each other. Mr Grenell was acting “on the orders from the president” Mr Schwartz can be heard saying during the recorded conversation. “So, you’re going to punish me because he took orders from the president?” he asked Ms Fairbanks who responded that she wasn’t punishing him she was merely retweeting a report by ABC. Mr Schwartz begged Ms Fairbanks to delete the Tweet which she ultimately agreed to do. Ms Fairbanks is a contributor to the Pro-Trump Gateway Pundit news outlet and she notes that she herself “endorsed [Mr Trump’s] presidency over a number of years”.

Her witness statement says that she “believed Schwartz’s statement [that Mr Grenell coordinated Mr Assange’s removal from the embassy] to be correct because his close personal ties to both President Trump and Grenell are well-known”. The statement also says that her interactions with Mr Schwartz, on the subject of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks, first began after she dropped a link to an interview with Mr Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, into “a direct message group [in October 2018] containing multiple people who either worked for President Trump or were close to him in other ways – along with several other reporters and political commentators”. Among those in the group were then US Ambassador to Germany Mr Grenell as well as Mr Schwartz.

After she put the link to the interview into the group chat, Ms Fairbanks’ statement says that she received a phone call from Mr Schwartz who was “very angry”: “[Mr Schwartz] repeatedly insisted that I stop advocating for WikiLeaks and Assange, telling me that ‘a pardon isn’t going to f**king happen.’ He knew very specific details about a future prosecution against Assange that were later made public and that only those very close to the situation then would have been aware of. He told me that it would be the ‘Manning’ case that he would be charged with and that it would not involve the Vault 7 publication or anything to do with the DNC. He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning. I also recollect being told, I believe, that it would not be before Christmas. Both of these predictions came true just months later.”

“Kidnapping a political refugee” from the Ecuadorian Embassy would be “an act of war”, Ms Fairbanks said to Mr Schwartz, to which he apparently responded “not if they let us”.

Read more …

Is the mainstream press getting involved now?

160 Officials From Across The World Call For Assange’s Release (NBC)

More than 160 current and former world leaders, lawmakers and diplomats have endorsed a call for the U.K. to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and stop his extradition to the U.S. The signatories of the open letter, addressed to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several government ministers, included the president of Argentina and two former presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. [..] The letter was first written by the group Lawyers for Assange in August, and then received the support of the international signatories whose names were released on Monday. It laid out several legal reasons why Assange shouldn’t be extradited, including the claim that he wouldn’t face a fair trial in the U.S., and that he would “be exposed to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

His extradition “would gravely endanger freedom of the press,” the letter said. “This demonstrates the growing opposition around the world to U.S. efforts to extradite and prosecute Assange, and the political nature of this case,” Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, told NBC News. Many of the letter’s signatories, which also include Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and former Ecuadoran leader Rafael Correa, are fierce critics of the U.S. and have previously spoken out against American foreign policy. Last week, Robinson told a London court that Assange was offered a presidential pardon in 2017 by then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Trump associate Charles Johnson if he helped to resolve the “ongoing speculation about Russian involvement” in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails leaked during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

At the hearing in London on Friday, James Lewis, prosecutor for the U.S. government, said: “The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said. We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.”

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What you gonna do? Arrest them all and throw them into virus-infected prisons?

A Second UK COVID19 Lockdown Is Doomed To Fail: Brits Won’t Comply (RT)

Now armed with statistics and expert advice, the British public are much better informed about Covid than in March and won’t countenance another lockdown imposed by politicians who have mishandled the pandemic at every turn. A looming second lockdown in the UK, as part of the Government’s haphazard approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, is destined to fail for one reason: the revered ‘Blitz spirit’ that we’re all in this together has vanished. Now it’s everyone for themselves. For several days now, there has been talk of another imminent imposition of harsh restrictions on our movement. While the first national lockdown was universally accepted, any follow-up – call it ‘a circuit breaker’ or whatever clever name you like – is going to be a little trickier.

Look at what’s happened in Madrid over the weekend, where a wave of protests hit the Spanish capital with people taking offence at the regional president’s efforts to reduce an infection rate in some areas of more than 1,000 per 100,000 by restricting the movements of 850,000 people. And when Isabel Dìaz Ayuso bluntly suggested it was the “way of life” of the immigrants living in those neighbourhoods that was contributing to the problems, the mob insisted she resign. What for? Trying to keep them safe? Remember, Spain had a draconian three-month lockdown that saw kids shut up indoors over summer, but they recognised they were all in it together and stuck to their guns. Now that spirit has dissolved, as people claim the government is spreading fear and hatred among already marginalised communities. Attention has turned away from battling the pandemic to fighting among themselves.

That easygoing compliance has hardened in the UK as well. We’re not so accepting of the words coming from the familiar Downing Street podium these days. Because we’ve now had months of expert home tutoring by the impressive duo of government scientists Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, whose careful, measured explanations and predictions have driven the real narrative behind the boosterism of the government’s “moonshots” and “world-beating” boasts. Last week it was Boris Johnson telling us it would all be over by Christmas. Now Health Secretary Matt Hancock says maybe not. That kind of ‘he said, she said’ nonsense is a test to anyone’s patience, but you can see where the desperate-to-be-loved PM is coming from. People want a return to normal, even if that ‘normal’ is different to what we are used to, and BoJo is keen to be the one to deliver the good news.

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And Americans won’t comply either, thanks to BS like this.

It is really only yesterday that I said: “Do they still have any credibility left? You know, after Redfield’s “Act for one Man and one Mask”?”

CDC Stumbles Again, Says COVID19 Guidance Posted ‘In Error’ (NBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday walked back information posted on its website just three days ago, which stated the coronavirus can spread through aerosolized droplets. The CDC now says that Friday’s guidance was posted “in error,” and that new information will be issued shortly. The move is yet another misstep for the nation’s leading public health agency, which recently reversed its guidance for the second time on testing asymptomatic people for the coronavirus. On Friday, an update posted to the CDC’s website stated the virus can be transmitted through tiny, aerosolized droplets that are “produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.”

That information was already well known, according to infectious disease experts. It was “not surprising or jarring,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said. “The scientific community has been raising the alarm about this since February, that airborne spread can happen,” said Joseph Allen, an associate professor in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So infectious disease experts were perplexed Monday, when the CDC scrubbed that section of the website of any mention of airborne transmission, writing that “a draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website.”

[..] “This is so destructive to this incredibly wonderful agency that we have loved and admired our entire careers,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the school of public health at Brown University, said. “This is amateur hour.” Science evolves and is guided by what doctors and researchers learn over time, but clear messaging is critical to a proper public health response to the virus. “The CDC is like a North Star in terms of guiding this pandemic,” Weatherhead said. “It’s important that there is clear and concise communication so that everybody is on the same page.” “Hopefully we will get communication from the CDC to better understand why they’re walking back on what we already know to be factual,” she added.

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An overly polite headline. It doesn’t include “criminally negligent”.

China, WHO Could Have Helped Prevent Pandemic: Congressional Report (NYP)

The coronavirus pandemic might have been prevented if not for Chinese cover-ups in the early days of the outbreak and the World Health Organization “parroting” Beijing propaganda, according to a damning audit from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The 96-page report — obtained by The Post ahead of its planned Monday release — says the Chinese Communist Party destroyed evidence and buried troubling data, while nationalizing the supply chains and limiting exports of US companies 3M and General Motors, keeping key goods in the country.

“It is beyond doubt that the CCP actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data, hide relevant public health information, and suppress doctors and journalists who attempted to warn the world,” reads the report, authored by Republican members of the Democrat-held committee. Had China been more transparent and proactive when the first signs of the burgeoning health crisis emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, the outbreak could have been largely contained — potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, the pols wrote.

“Research shows the CCP could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95 percent had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and responded to the outbreak in a manner consistent with best practices,” the report said, citing a study on Medrxiv, a Yale University-linked online clearinghouse for medical manuscripts. “It is highly likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented,” the report said. Instead, on Jan. 1, CCP officials ordered that the Wuhan wet market from which the contagion is believed to have sprung “be closed and sanitized, destroying forensic evidence that may have provided insight into the origins of the outbreak,” the report said.

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It was a classis hit job from the start. And the Lancet bought and swallowed it whole. But HCQ remains banned in many places, so it worked.

Lancet Changes Editorial Policy After HCQ Study Retraction (G.)

One of the world’s leading medical journals, the Lancet, has reformed its editorial policies following a shocking case of apparent research misconduct involving the study of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. In May, the Lancet published a peer-reviewed study about the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine, which concluded Covid-19 patients who received the drug were dying at higher rates and experiencing more heart-related complications than other virus patients. The large observational study analysed data purported to be from nearly 15,000 patients with Covid-19 who received the drug alone or in combination with antibiotics, comparing this data with 81,000 controls who did not receive the drug.

This data was recorded by hospitals around the world in a database by a US data analytics company known as “Surgisphere”, the Lancet paper said. The findings prompted the World Health Organization to halt its clinical trials of the drug, given the paper’s findings that it was linked with deaths and complications. But days after the paper was published, Guardian Australia revealed issues with the Australian data in the study. Figures on the number of Covid-19 deaths and patients in hospital cited by the authors did not match up with official government and health department data. Senior clinicians involved in Covid-19 research told Guardian Australia they had never heard of the Surgisphere database.

Researchers from other countries identified similar issues with the data from their hospitals, and a further Guardian Australia investigation revealed doubts that the database used by the study authors likely did not even existed. Sapan Desai was a co-author of the paper and founder of the Surgisphere database. Following the revelations, information about Surgisphere was deleted from the internet. It was also revealed that none of the co-authors of the paper had seen the Surgisphere data for themselves, and they said that Desai did not give them access to it even after questions about the paper were raised by Guardian Australia and the research community. The paper’s co-authors, which included a highly respected vascular surgeon, supported the retraction of the paper and distanced themselves from the data.

Read more …

Go Tulsi!

Ballot Harvesting Party Will Be Over if Tulsi Gabbard Gets Her Way (NM)

Ballot-harvesting is a voting related practice allowing paid political operatives to collect an unlimited number of ballots, subsequently delivering them into the hands of election officials. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, recently introduced legislation, The Election Fraud Prevention Act, which if passed would effectively slow down or even put a halt to the practice. The legislation could potentially be in effect in time for November’s all-important 2020 presidential election. When Rep. Gabbard made her run for the Oval Office during the Democratic presidential primaries, the public learned that she was a proud member of the Army National Guard, having served in two Mideast deployments. Currently, she is a major in the Army Reserves.


Rep. Gabbard’s proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL, would amend a 2002 act, and if passed would deny certain federal payments to states that permit ballot harvesting. This type of reform could go a long way in helping to prevent a particularly heinous kind of corruption of the electoral process. If ballot-harvesting remains in place, or worse, if its use becomes widespread nationally, special interest groups aligned with a particular candidate or political party may be able to manipulate the results of legitimate elections. As Rep. Gabbard noted, “While some states have prohibited vote harvesting, many states lack any regulations that would stop third-parties from fraudulently collecting and mishandling ballots as has occurred in recent elections.”

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‘Sir, we can’t do that. It has to float naturally.’

There are actually people who react to this by saying Trump didn’t know the dollar floats.

Trump Says Aides Rejected His Request To Adjust Value Of Dollar (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he was rebuffed when he asked officials to adjust the exchange rate of the dollar to counteract what he described as repeated currency manipulation by China of its yuan. Trump told thousands of supporters at a political rally in Dayton, Ohio, that his policies were saving jobs in the political battleground state after years of inaction to confront China’s aggressive behavior in global markets. “I go to my guys, ‘What about doing a little movement on the dollar?’” he said, but they countered that was not possible. “‘Sir, we can’t do that. It has to float naturally.’”

The Republican president, who is seeking reelection to a second term in the Nov. 3 national poll, repeated his claim – which China denies – that Beijing deliberately changes the value of its currency to gain competitive advantage in global markets. China’s central bank has denied intervening to weaken the yuan and lower the cost of its exports to the United States. The yuan has firmed for eight weeks straight against a softening dollar. Trump gave no details on his conversation about tweaking the dollar’s value, and no comment was immediately available from the U.S. Treasury Department, which is expected to release its long-delayed semi-annual currency report in coming weeks.

[..] Trump in May reversed course and backed a “strong dollar” after years of railing against the dollar’s relative strength as a factor harming U.S. competitiveness. The Treasury Department in January dropped its designation of China as a “currency manipulator”, days before U.S. and Chinese officials signed the Phase 1 trade deal, saying Beijing had agreed to refrain from competitive devaluation.

Read more …

How many arrests so far?

European Bank Stocks Swoon to 1988 Low (WS)

The Stoxx 600 Banks index, which covers major European banks, slumped 5.7% on Monday, to close at 81.1, just a smidgen above the multi-decade low, of 79, set in March. The last time before March that the index was below today’s level was in February 1988, during the sell-off that followed Black Monday in October 1987, when it also slumped as low as 79. The index has collapsed by 85% since its peak in May 2007, after having quadrupled over the preceding 12 years. Here are the wondrous European bank stocks going back to 2007:

Not even the promise of more industry consolidation, facilitated by shotgun mergers of big, struggling banks with smaller struggling banks, has stemmed the slide of Europe’s banking shares. Three weeks ago, Spain’s third largest lender, CaixaBank, announced plans to buy majority state-owned Bankia, with money largely provided by the State, to form what will be Spain’s largest domestic bank. Spain’s MSCI rose only slightly in response and is now lower than it was. Today, it wasn’t just banking stocks that had a rough day. European stocks overall were down by 3.9%, as concerns grow over a second wave of the coronavirus. But banks were particularly hard hit.


One reason for the rout was the release of a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on lenders that had facilitated $2 trillion in suspicious transactions. HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of New York Mellon, were implicated. Over almost two decades, the five banks had “enrich[ed] themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins,” the report said.

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I wouldn’t put any money on her actually getting them. Unredacted. National security, don’t you know.

Virgin Islands AG Subpoenas Entirety Of Epstein Flight Logs (RT)

The US Virgin Islands Attorney General has subpoenaed 21 years’ worth of deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs, reportedly striking fear in the hearts of high-profile passengers not yet exposed as Lolita Express riders. Passenger logs for Epstein’s four helicopters and three planes have been subpoenaed by Virgin Islands AG Denise George, who recently sued the disgraced financier’s estate for 22 counts including human trafficking, child abuse, neglect, prostitution, aggravated rape, and forced labor, according to a Sunday report by the UK Mirror. In addition to the passenger lists, George has requisitioned “complaints or reports of potentially suspicious conduct” and any “personal notes” the pilots made while flying Epstein’s alleged harem of underage girls around the world.

She also wants the names and contact information of anyone who worked for the pilots – or who “integrated with or observed” Epstein and his passengers. Epstein pilot David Rodgers previously provided a passenger log in 2009 tying dozens of politicians, actors, and other celebrities to the infamous sex offender – including former US President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey, and model Naomi Campbell. However, lawyers for Epstein’s alleged victims have argued that list did not include flights by Epstein’s chief pilot, Larry Visoski, who allegedly worked for him for over 25 years. “The records that have been subpoenaed will make the ones Rodgers provided look like a Post-It note,” a source told the Mirror over the weekend, claiming that George’s subpoena had triggered a “panic among many of the rich and famous.”

Epstein’s private plane, nicknamed the Lolita Express, counted among its passengers such luminaries as the UK’s Prince Andrew, celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, actor Chris Tucker, Harvard economist Larry Summers, Hyatt hotel mogul Tom Pritzker, and model agency manager Jean-Luc Brunel along with Campbell, Spacey, and Clinton (who the logs show flew with Epstein over two dozen times). However, the passengers who enjoyed his other aircraft have not been made public – yet. George has also subpoenaed more than 10 banks – including JPMorgan, Citibank, and Deutsche Bank – in her quest to get to the bottom of the financial edifice Epstein built up before he died. The financial institutions have been ordered to submit documents related to some 30 corporations, trusts, and nonprofit entities tied to the predatory playboy.

Read more …

How did we ever get from Kennedy to Russiagate?

Kennedy’s US-Russia Joint Space Vision Must Be Revived (Ehret)

September 20th marked the anniversary of the last speech John F Kennedy delivered to the United Nations’ General Assembly. This event bears more relevance upon our present crisis than most people could possibly imagine. This is true not only because it is wise to pay homage to great ideas of the past which lesser souls allowed to slip away and get buried under the sands of time, but also because history provides many of the solutions to seemingly impossible problems in our own time. During his short speech, Kennedy outlined the very same fundamental obstacles to survival faced by our own world 57 years later: “The spectre of nuclear annihilation looming overhead, poverty and the evils of colonialism staining humanity on earth, and the dominance of destructive modes of thinking which have prevented honest dialogue between the west and east who have so many common interests and yet have been blocked from acting upon them for want of creativity, understanding and faith.”

Although it is far too rarely displayed in history, great leaders (those who are beholden to their consciences) recognize that there are solutions to every problem. From Plato to Cicero to Confucius and Christ in ancient times or Thomas More, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, and Kennedy in our modern age, these rare but vitally important individuals demonstrate through their words and deeds that when the dominant social rules of the game prevent those necessary and possible solutions from manifesting, then only one course of action becomes possible: Change the rules of the game. The martyred Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin eloquently touched on this truth in 1992 shaking the hands with Yasser Arafat and advancing a two-state solution saying: “The future belongs to those who have the courage to change their axioms.”

Such was the case of John F. Kennedy who recognized early on in his short-lived presidency that the geopolitical “closed system” thinking dominant among the military and foreign policy experts of the west held only the seeds for humanity’s destruction. In his speech of September 20, 1963, Kennedy revisited a theme which he first unveiled on the day of his inaugural address in 1961: A joint U.S.-USSR space program to transform the rules of the Cold War and usher in a new creative age of reason, win-win cooperation and boundless discoveries. In his 1961 inaugural speech, Kennedy ushered in the theme that would animate his next three years saying:

“Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.” Ten days later, Kennedy re-iterated this idea during his first state of the Union inviting Russia “to join with U.S. in developing… a new communication satellite program in preparation for probing the distant planets of Mars and Venus, probes which may someday unlock the deepest secrets of the universe”.

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Wait a minute. That was my line.

Activist Warns Left: Trump Might Pick First Black Female Justice (JTN)

An activist group formally launched the “She Will Rise” campaign Monday to call for an African American female judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court. A supporter of the group, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who authored The New York Times’ 1619 Project, warned that President Trump might be the president who picks the first black female justice following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I think this is a case of be careful what you wish for because it’s certainly possible that Trump could appoint a black women but it’s also very possible it could be just as cynical as it was when the second black Supreme Court justice became Clearance Thomas,” she said during a discussion organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Demand Justice.


“You can certainly find a black woman who is extremely conservative; who is a strict constructionist; who is going to align with the most conservative people on the court and that again will be a hollow victory. In some ways, again, that is a very cynical choice because it puts black people in the position of having to argue against the first black woman to go on the bench because the first black woman is not someone who we feel will actually serve our communities well so yeah, that’s possible,” she also said. Trump said this past weekend that he would nominate a female to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Some African American male judges appear on Trump’s public shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominee, but there are currently no African American female judges included. A hispanic female and male judge are on his list.

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And then finally there’s the good news, courtesy of the Babylon Bee.

Trump Fires Giant Pink Glitter Cannon To Reveal SCOTUS Nominee Gender (BBee)

It was a festive occasion, as gender reveals often are, and a crowd brimming with excitement gathered outside the White House to find out from President Trump what gender the nominee for Supreme Court Justice would be. “Oh I sure hope it’s a boy!” yelled one man. “No way! It has to be a girl!” yelled a nearby woman. However, some unhappy citizens gathered in the crowd only to protest how primitive and cis-heteronormative a gender reveal party for a Supreme Court Justice is. “This is so backwards,” yelled local non-binary furry queen-king Yoox Bellavix. “The nominee hasn’t even been questioned by the Senate to determine what gender they identify with! Gender is not the same as biological sex! We need hearings now!”


Trump suddenly appeared on the White House lawn and greeted all the gathered crowd with a wide beaming smile like that of an expectant father. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen and Democrats and Fake News media! I am very happy, so very happy, I don’t even remember the last time I was this happy, to announce the gender of our nominee to fill the seat!” he said. The crowd erupted in joyous applause as the Secret Service rolled out a giant wheeled cannon similar to a civil war artillery piece and pulled the trigger to send an enormous cloud of pink glitter into the air. “Of course it’s a girl! It’s a girl!” Trump said as he made an hourglass curve gesture with his hands. “Tremendous. Thank you very much!”

At publishing time, all the assembled media figures stood completely covered in pink glitter. The White House lawn is also entirely covered. The EPA estimates it could take up to 12 years for the pristine swamp environment of the White House lawn to return to normal.

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Sep 172020
 


René Magritte Sixteenth of September 1956

 

CDC: US Should Have Enough Vaccine To Return To Regular Life By Q3 2021 (CNBC)
Trump Admin Shuts Down CDC Training Based On Critical Race Theory (Fox)
President Trump’s Ban on Critical Race Theory, Explained (FEE)
Subpoenas Coming For Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Halper Et Al (ZH)
Mueller Team Had Lisa Page’s Phone It Claimed Was Lost (ET)
Treasury Flagged Foreign Money Flowing To Hunter Biden-Tied Firms (JTN)
Senator Kennedy: There Are Times When I Think Pelosi Has Eaten Tide Pods (ZH)
The Democrat Ticket Is Puzzling (Paul Craig Roberts)
60% of US Business Closures Due To The Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC)
New Zealand In Recession After Worst Quarterly GDP Fall On Record (G.)
Julian Assange Interrupts Extradition Hearing Again (SMH)
Claims Assange ‘Endangered Lives’ Rubbished In Extradition Hearing (Haddad)

 

 

We passed 30 million total global cases overnight. That is a lot of people. And at 300,000 new cases a day, 9 million will be added each month.

India hasn’t breached the 100,000 number in one day so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can think what you want about performances like this one by CDC head Robert Redfield, but the problem with the CDC, as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by Fauci, should be obvious. The same will go for similar bureaus in other countries. That is, they basically go unchallenged for decades (I know, there was SARS), which inevitably makes them lazy and riddled with inertia.

This is best exemplified by the fact that Fauci has been heading his institute since 1984. Plenty of time to get all chummy with the Big Pharma people he sees on a regular basis, and one thing leads to another. And then when an emergeny occurs, we find out that they have no way left to deal with an emergency, because they’re all rusty and dusty. Which of course they will vehemently deny.

Meanwhile, Fauci has said may different, even contradictory things, and Redfield does no better. First, there is no vaccine, so this is pure hypothesis. And even then it will take another year?! Great message. Which the CDC itself walked back within hours to boot. And the way he’s flopping that piece of cloth around, saying it’s better than a vaccine, is just horrible. He’s had 9 months to drown the US in N95 masks, and be effective. So where are they?

CDC: US Should Have Enough Vaccine To Return To Regular Life By Q3 2021 (CNBC)

The U.S. should have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for Americans to return to “regular life” by the third quarter of next year, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Senate panel he expects vaccinations to begin in November or December, but in limited quantities with those most in need getting the first doses, such as health-care workers. He said it will take about “six to nine months” to get the entire American public vaccinated. “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third … late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” he told the U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education, and related agencies.

The CDC later walked back Redfield’s testimony after President Donald Trump criticized him at a White House press conference. The CDC said Redfield’s timeline referred to when all Americans will complete their immunizations. “He was not referring to the time period when COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans,” CDC spokesman Paul Fulton Jr. said in an email to CNBC. At the hearing, Redfield said the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed was unprecedented. He told lawmakers that a vaccine usually takes four to six years. There are no approved vaccines for the coronavirus. Three drugmakers are currently in late-stage testing for potential vaccines and expect to know if they work by the end of the year.

Public health experts have previously said that most Americans likely won’t get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year. Whichever vaccine is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be in short supply once it’s cleared for public distribution, medical experts warn. The vaccine will likely require two doses at varying intervals, and states still face logistical challenges such as setting up distribution sites and acquiring enough needles, syringes and bottles needed for immunizations.

Redfield

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“..It’s unclear why the CDC proceeded with the training..”

Trump Admin Shuts Down CDC Training Based On Critical Race Theory (Fox)

President Trump’s administration canceled another critical race theory training that was set to occur through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite the president’s recent executive order banning those types of events, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said Tuesday. OMB Director Russ Vought announced the decision just a day after Discovery Institute researcher Chris Rufo reported on the training, underscoring the administration’s recent responsiveness to news on this issue. “Glad to report, per @POTUS’s directive, this training is being cancelled immediately,” Vought tweeted, alongside Rufo’s post about the issue. Rufo’s revelations appeared to prompt Trump’s executive order earlier this month.

Rufo noted on Monday that the CDC was hosting a training focused on “systems of structured inequality,” blaming systemic racism for deaths from COVID-19 and at the hands of police. It admonishes the “myth of meritocracy” and “myth of american exceptionalism,” among other objectives that Rufo said represented “textbook critical race theory.” It’s unclear why the CDC proceeded with the training, which appeared to take place on Thursday. Rufo responded to Vought’s announcement by demanding accountability and threatening to release names of those involved if the CDC didn’t take action on its own.

A senior administration official told Fox News that all agencies are supposed to adhere to the president’s order, and that the president’s team is attempting to stop trainings that are continuing despite the cease and desist order. In Vought’s initial letter on the issue, he denounced the trainings as un-American. “According to press reports, in some cases these training have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job,” he said. “These types of ‘trainings’ not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the federal workforce,” he said.

Vought also directed agencies to identify ways to sever government contracts that supported those trainings. Last week, Rufo flagged a training through an Education Department contractor, which purportedly pushed for radical changes to education and doing “away with prison,” among other things. One document stated that “schools are built to manage racism” and that “we all” seem to abide by a racial contract that says it’s ok for white people to kill [B]lacks with immunity.”

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“Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people..”

President Trump’s Ban on Critical Race Theory, Explained (FEE)

Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the “critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures,” as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color. The “power structure” prism stems largely from Critical Theory’s own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist “Frankfurt School.” Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

“According to the Marxian view,” wrote the economist Ludwig von Mises, “human society is organized into classes whose interests stand in irreconcilable opposition.” Mises called this view a “conflict doctrine,” which opposed the “harmony doctrine” of classical liberalism. According to the classical liberals, in a free market economy, capitalists and workers were natural allies, not enemies. Indeed, in a free society all rights-respecting individuals were natural allies. Critical Race Theory arose as a distinct movement in law schools in the late 1980s. CRT inherited many of its premises and perspectives from its Marxist ancestry. The pre-CRT Civil Rights Movement had emphasized equal rights and treating people as individuals, as opposed to as members of a racial collective.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King famously said. In contrast, CRT dwells on inequalities of outcome, which it generally attributes to racial power structures. And, as we’ve seen from the government training curricula, modern CRT forthrightly judges white people by the color of their skin, prejudging them as racist by virtue of their race. This race-based “pre-trial guilty verdict” of racism is itself, by definition, racist. The classical liberal “harmony doctrine” was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow.

But, with the rise of Critical Race Theory, the cause of racial justice became more influenced by the fixations on conflict, discord, and domination that CRT inherited from Marxism. Social life was predominantly cast as a zero-sum struggle between collectives: capital vs. labor for Marxism, whites vs. people of color for CRT. A huge portion of society’s ills were attributed to one particular collective’s diabolical domination: capitalist hegemony for Marxism, white supremacy for CRT. Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people. Both try to foment resentment, envy, and a victimhood complex among the oppressed class it claims to champion.

Critical Race Theory
https://twitter.com/i/status/1306000528757923848

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The Senate Homeland Security Committee appears to be getting restless about the Durham probe.

Subpoenas Coming For Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Halper Et Al (ZH)

The Senate Homeland Security Committee voted on Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for dozens of Obama-era officials involved in ‘spygate,’ including former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former DNI James Clapper — and longtime US intelligence operative Stephen Halper, who the Obama administration paid nearly half-a-million dollars to help the FBI spy on the 2016 Trump campaign. The committee authorized chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to issue notices for taking depositions, subpoenas, records requests, and testimony related to the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation – along with the DOJ Inspector General’s review of said investigation, as well as the “unmasking” of individuals connected to the Trump campaign, transition team, and administration, according to Fox News.

“The committee also authorized subpoenas for Sidney Blumenthal, former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough, former FBI counsel Lisa Page, former FBI agent Joe Pientka, former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former FBI director of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith – who pleaded guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the investigation into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign – among others.”

As part of the authorization, Johnson may subpoena “the production of all records” related to the FBI’s initial Russia probe, as well as unmasking requests for “James Baker, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, FBI case agent Steven Somma, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Teftt, former deputy assistant attorney general Tashina Gauhar.” Halper, meanwhile, is a former government official and longtime spook for the CIA and FBI, who was outed as the FBI informant who infiltrated the Trump campaign after the Washington Post and the New York Times ran reports that corroborated a March report by the Daily Caller detailing Halper’s outreach to several low-level aides to the Trump campaign, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

These contacts are notable, as Halper’s infiltration of the Trump campaign corresponds with the two of the four targets of the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane – in which the agency sent counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and others to a London meeting in the Summer of 2016 with former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer – who says Papadopoulos drunkenly admitted to knowing that the Russians had Hillary Clinton’s emails. The 74-year-old Halper who split his time between his Virginia farm and teaching at Cambridge, approached several Trump campaign aides during the 2016 US election for purposes of espionage – on behalf of the FBI, headed at the time by the recently very quiet James Comey. Halper continued to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page well after the election, and now we find that he was trying to infiltrate the Trump administration.

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Does anyone except the principals actors think these things should NOT be investigated?

Mueller Team Had Lisa Page’s Phone It Claimed Was Lost (ET)

An official who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation wrote in a recently released email that he or she was in possession of an iPhone belonging to Lisa Page three days after the former FBI lawyer’s last day on the job and at a time when the device was thought to have been lost. The special counsel’s office (SCO) and the Justice Department previously claimed to have no documents to show who handled Page’s iPhone after she turned it in on July 14, 2017, or who improperly wiped it two weeks later, before it could be checked for records, in violation of SCO policy. But documents released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sept. 11 tell a different story, with three officials certifying that Page turned over her phone and one claiming to have been in possession of it.

“I have her phone and laptop,” an administrative officer with the initials LFW wrote in a July 17, 2017, email to Christopher Greer, an assistant director at the DOJ Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Beth McGarry, the executive officer at the special counsel’s office, told Greer in an email sent earlier in the day that Page “returned her mobile phone and laptop.” On the same day, a property custodian officer, whose name is redacted in the documents, signed a form on which Page certified that she turned in her phone and the officer certified that “all government property has been returned or otherwise properly accounted for.” The July 17 timing of the two statements and the signature is significant. The DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) previously concluded that there were no records of who had the phone after July 14. The records about Page’s phone are part of a DOJ disclosure that revealed that members of the Mueller team improperly wiped at least 22 iPhones before they could be checked for records.

[..] Mueller’s team used a total of 92 iPhones, according to the documents. Four of the phones appear in the inventory logs, but not on the records officer’s log, suggesting they were either recorded without their unique asset tag or evaded the officer entirely. One of the four phones belonged to deputy special counsel Aaron Zebley. Another belonged to Zainab Ahmad, a special counsel attorney. One phone was partially wiped. Four phones were improperly handed over to the OCIO and wiped before the records officer’s review. As many as seven phones with no asset tags noted by the records officer were either reassigned or wiped before the officer could assess the device for records.

The pattern of questionable deletions has drawn the attention of lawmakers. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairmen of the finance and oversight committees, respectively, sent a letter to the DOJ and the FBI last week asking for more information about what happened with the phones. “It appears that Special Counsel Mueller’s team may have deleted federal records that could be key to better understanding their decision-making process as they pursued their investigation and wrote their report,” Grassley wrote. “Indeed, many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane.”

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His dad is running for president. Which is when in America the family is dragged in. But where is Hunter? Too much of a liability? The press can’t ask Joe, because all questions are pre-scripted.

Treasury Flagged Foreign Money Flowing To Hunter Biden-Tied Firms (JTN)

A Treasury Department agency that polices financial threats such as money laundering flagged several foreign transactions to Hunter Biden-connected businesses as “suspicious” during the end of the Obama administration and the beginning of the Trump administration. The concerns from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) were highlighted in Suspicious Activity Reports turned over to Senate committees over the last year in conjunction with investigations into the Russia and Ukraine scandals, according to several officials familiar with the evidence. As those Senate investigations wind toward the issuance of their first official report later this month, an essential question has emerged:

Did U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agencies do anything to determine if the money flowing to Vice President Joe Biden’s son posed any criminal or intelligence threats? [..] Senate Democrats first called attention to the existence of the SARs in a little-noticed letter late last year and are now bracing for the flagged financial transactions to be a major revelation in a joint report they expect to be published by the GOP-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Finance Committees as early as next week. “The Republicans have had this in their back pocket for some time to make headlines as the election drew closer,” one Democratic source told Just the News.

[..] The SAR reports were requested as Senate investigators dug into a labyrinth of global businesses that Hunter Biden and his business partners became involved with in Russia, China, Ukraine and elsewhere while his father Joe Biden served as the vice president and Obama administration foreign policy point person. That includes Hunter Biden’s controversial addition in spring 2014 to the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas firm with a long record of corruption allegations. SARs are one of the law enforcement community’s most powerful and secretive tools in the war against money laundering, drug cartels and terrorist threats, providing real-time warnings from financial institutions to FinCEN that certain transactions have characteristics that make them suspicious.

Treasury typically receives or generates one million to two million Suspicious Activity Reports a year. So a SAR report in and of itself is not evidence of wrongdoing, but it is usually a starting point for investigation, experts say. The question that remains is whether FBI or ODNI did anything to investigate these suspicious reports after they were alerted by FinCEN. [..] Hunter Biden’s globe-trotting business activities have long generated controversy because they often occurred in the shadows of his father’s foreign policy portfolio. Hunter Biden, for instance, traveled aboard Air Force Two in December 2013 with the vice president to Beijing, walking away soon after with a stake in an investment fund that received funding from the state-owned Bank of China. As his father’s administration took several actions favorable to Beijing, such as opening U.S. capital markets to Chinese companies, Hunter Biden closed deals in China.

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“Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi aren’t going to agree to anything until we agree to spend a trillion dollars bailing out New York and California and that’s not going to happen in your or my natural life..”

Senator Kennedy: There Are Times When I Think Pelosi Has Eaten Tide Pods (ZH)

GOP Senator John Kennedy used a startling cultural reference to portray his belief that believes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is crazy, saying that he often thinks she has ‘is one of those people who tried Tide Pods’ laundry detergent. Appearing with Sean Hannity, Kennedy was addressing Pelosi’s obsession with the $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill. “Sean, with respect, there are times, particularly recently, when I think Speaker Pelosi is one of those people who tried Tide pods,” Kennedy hilariously stated. “I want you to think about what she proposed today, this is what the speaker is threatening to do,” he continued, adding “She is threatening to keep the House Democrats in session and prevent them from going home and running for reelection unless the Senate Republicans agree to the speaker’s $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill.”


“On the one hand we can vote for Pelosi’s $3.4 trillion bill or we can agree to allow her to put the House Democratic majority into jeopardy. That’s just bone deep down to the marrow foolish,” Kennedy urged. Kennedy further emphasised that Nothing is going to get done while the Democrats refuse to back down over something that is never going to come to fruition. “Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi aren’t going to agree to anything until we agree to spend a trillion dollars bailing out New York and California and that’s not going to happen in your or my natural life,” Kennedy added.

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PCR worked at the Reagan White House.

The Democrat Ticket Is Puzzling (Paul Craig Roberts)

Those of you old enough to remember President Reagan will remember all the presstitute insinuations about Reagan being senile and falling asleep at cabinet meetings. Of course, the presstitutes were never at cabinet meetings. Reagan successfully confronted the two major problems of his time—stagflation and the nuclear armageddon that could result from misunderstood intentions or a warning system error. Reagan’s supply-side policy deep-sixed stagflation—the simultaneous rise of inflation and unemployment—and his negotiations with Soviet President Gorbachev ended the Cold War.

The Establishment has buried both achievements, and today Reagan is understood as the president who made Americans feel good while he cut taxes for the rich and poured money into the Pentagon and defense contractors. Reagan’s “star wars” was more illusion than real. It’s purpose was to convince the Soviets to end the Cold War. This was also the purpose of his military interventions against leftish takeovers in the US “sphere of influence.” The reason for these interventions was to give the message to Moscow that there would be no further territorial gains for communism. Americans today, especially the youth, know nothing about how the Reagan administration gave us two decades of economic growth without having to pay for it with rising inflation, and they do not know that Reagan ended the Cold War.

Today the rightwing and Russians themselves believe that Reagan won the Cold War. That was not Reagan’s goal. President Reagan told those of us involved that the purpose was “to end, not win, the Cold War,” and that we must never act or speak in any way that implied that we had prevailed over the Soviets. Wikipedia, a disinformation website, opens its account of Reagan’s foreign policy with a blatant lie: “The foreign policy of the Ronald Reagan administration was the foreign policy of the United States from 1981 to 1989. The main goal was winning the Cold War.” The ignorance of whoever wrote this is extraordinary.

The Soviets never would have agreed to losing the Cold War. President Reagan understood this, which is why he emphasized that our purpose was to end, not win, the Cold War.

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And counting.

60% of US Business Closures Due To The Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC)

Yelp on Wednesday released its latest Economic Impact Report, revealing business closures across the U.S. are increasing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll. As of Aug, 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed. That’s down from the 180,000 that closed at the very beginning of the pandemic. However, it actually shows a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July. In addition to monitoring closed businesses, Yelp also takes into account the businesses whose closures have become permanent. That number has steadily increased throughout the past six months, now reaching 97,966, representing 60% of closed businesses that won’t be reopening.

“Overall, Yelp’s data shows that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July,” Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp, told CNBC. Yelp’s September report marks six months since March 1, the date that the company considers to be the beginning of the business crisis. In order to gather closure data, Yelp monitors changes in business hours or descriptions on its app, offering an immediate, localized view of the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses. “Despite the hard hit small businesses have certainly taken, we’ve seen that home, local, professional and automotive services have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic better than other industries,” Norman noted.


The data supports the trend that most consumers are choosing to stay home over patronizing establishments physically, as home and professional services such as landscapers, contractors and lawyers, see a much lower closure rate than clothing stores and even home decor businesses. Auto and towing services also reported a relatively low closure rate. “Consumers still need these services,” Norman said. “Through the rise of virtual consultations, and contactless or socially distanced services, these businesses have been particularly resilient during this time.” Throughout the past six months, restaurants, bars and nightlife venues have been hit the hardest by the restrictions brought by the pandemic: 32,109 restaurants have closed, as of Aug. 31. The number of restaurants forced to permanently close is slightly above Yelp’s total average, at 61%.

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New Zealand has spin doctors too: “Robertson said economic analysts were predicting the September quarter to show “a record jump back to growth in the economy..”

New Zealand In Recession After Worst Quarterly GDP Fall On Record (G.)

New Zealand has entered a recession with the economy contracting 12.2% in the June quarter – the largest drop since such records began in 1987. Paul Pascoe at Stats NZ said the GDP fall was “by far the largest on record in New Zealand” and reflected months spent in lockdown. Industries such as retail, accommodation, restaurants and transport saw significant declines; as did construction and manufacturing at 25.8% and 13% respectively. Household domestic spending dropped by 12%. Annually, GDP fell by 2% – the first annual decline since the March 2010 quarter. New Zealand’s economic retraction is higher than Australia’s 7% and Canada at 11.5%, but much less than in India, Singapore and the UK.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, placed New Zealand in a strict one-month lockdown on 26 March. No one was allowed to leave their home unless buying groceries, medicines, or taking an hour of exercise in their neighbourhood. At the time Ardern said the lockdown was necessary to control the spread of the virus and her priority was saving lives at any cost. Fewer than 2,000 people have become infected with the virus in New Zealand while 25 have died. The country’s efforts at containing the disease have been widely praised by epidemiologists around the world. The finance minister, Grant Robertson, said Thursday’s figures were “expected” and the result of the government’s “go hard, go early” response to the pandemic.

“This result was better than the treasury forecast of 16% and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Robertson said. “The June quarter includes almost the entire time New Zealand was in alert level 4 which we moved into on March 26 so this result is not surprising.” Robertson said economic analysts were predicting the September quarter to show “a record jump back to growth in the economy”.

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“This must be corrected. “The damage to me will be irreparable if the media reports that I harmed people, when it is not true,” he said.”

Julian Assange Interrupts Extradition Hearing Again (SMH)

Julian Assange has again interrupted his extradition hearing, claiming that he never put informants lives at risk, when he published hundreds of thousands of State Department documents on his WikiLeaks website. The 49-year-old intervened in his extradition hearing for the second time since it’s resumption at the Old Bailey in London last week, earning him another stern reprimand from the judge hearing his case. Assange cried out from the dock after lunchtime during evidence being given by former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the classified Pentagon Papers that revealed the US government knew it would not win the Vietnam War based on existing resources.

Ellsberg was pursed under the Espionage Act as is Assange. All charges against him were eventually dropped and he has become a vocal supporter of Assange as well as Chelsea Manning, who leaked to Assange the hacked files. Ellsberg also supports Edward Snowden who leaked classified documents he had access to as a CIA subcontractor. The United States government has asked Britain to extradite Assange to face 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act with most charges relating to computer hacking. However, the US government is pursuing Assange over the publication of unredacted documents which exposed the names of informants. The distinction the US government is repeatedly trying to make separates Assange from the press which also published information revealed by WikiLeaks but without naming journalists, human rights advocates and dissidents who were informing on their governments and repressive regimes.

Ellsberg confirmed that when he leaked his cache of documents, he withheld four volumes of documents. But he said that the only withheld these because they related to negotiations which he did not want to jeopardise. Assange’s outburst came as the QC representing the US government, James Lewis, was cross-examining Ellsberg. Lewis cited an Ethiopian journalist who fled the country after being interrogated and threatened once he was outed as having been a source for the United States. Lewis also read out media reporting of a Chinese national named in the WikiLeaks cables reported being harrassed by non-state groups. The Chinese national fled to the United States.

Ellsberg claimed to have never seen evidence that an informant exposed by WikiLeaks was harmed or killed in retaliation. “I find the government highly cynical … am I right in believing not one of them who was subject to threats or interrogation by these brutal and ruthless regimes actually suffered physical harm? “Were any of the threats carried out? Even one? Isn’t the answer no?” Ellsberg said. “The rules are you don’t get to ask questions, I do,” said Lewis. Assange also rejected the claims that he put lives at risk. “Through his rhetorical sleight of hand he is suggesting that I put lives at risk,” Assange said from the dock. “This must be corrected. “The damage to me will be irreparable if the media reports that I harmed people, when it is not true,” he said. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser reprimanded Assange, for the second time in as many weeks. “I have warned you about this before, you are not entitled to interfere like this,” she said.

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We all know this. Why does the US base its entire case now on this nonsense?

Claims Assange ‘Endangered Lives’ Rubbished In Extradition Hearing (Haddad)

A senior investigative journalist who worked on the release of thousands of military and diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks has rubbished prosecution claims that Julian Assange and his organisation put the lives of U.S. service members and informants at risk. John Goetz, an investigations editor with the German public broadcaster NDR, had been a reporter with Der Spiegel at the time of the releases between 2010 and 2011. That included the Afghan and Iraq war diaries, in addition to the release of U.S. diplomatic cables that came to be known as Cablegate. James Lewis QC, on behalf of the U.S. government, told the Old Bailey last week that Assange is not being prosecuted for receiving the documents, but because he risked lives with “reckless publication”.

Goetz told the court on Wednesday (September 16) that Assange and WikiLeaks in fact had a “very rigorous redaction process” – on occasion more censorious than the Pentagon when the same documents were released by Freedom of Information Act requests. As the lead investigative journalist for Der Spiegel, Goetz was among a handful of journalists to be invited to the Guardian’s “bunker” in London where they, alongside WikiLeaks and New York Times staff, worked on removing sensitive names from documents. Goetz said that redaction and what Assange called the “harm-minimisation process” was central from the very beginning of his involvement in June 2010 and how Eric Schmitt of The New York Times was tasked with contacting the White House prior to publication due to the newspaper’s location and existing relationship.

As a result of that early communication, WikiLeaks and the partner publications withheld 15,000 documents from the Afghan War Logs “to protect innocents being harmed,” he said. “It was communicated to the White House that 15,000 documents would not be published because of the harm minimisation process and that is what happened.” While media partners worked on redacting specific documents, Assange was concerned with a technological solution that could aid the process due to the high volume of documents that were being evaluated, it was added. The same redaction process continued during the later publication of the Iraq War Diary and the U.S. State Department cables, Goetz said, but that communication with the State Department was later ceased when the department realised they were in fact helping journalists find the most damaging stories by requesting which files were to be redacted.

Goetz said: “There was a conference call with State Department officials such as PJ Crowley and others and they expressed in the phone call the numbers of the documents they were concerned about. “We were writing the document numbers down and it was easy to look at the documents where there were sensitive names to see if there was any significant names that had to be redacted. “We were very happy to receive these names and in many ways it was quite interesting to know which documents they were concerned about, but there was a pause in the conversation and then they – [the State Department] – stopped talking to us because it was clear that they were giving us an index of the most interesting stories.”

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Jul 012020
 
 July 1, 2020  Posted by at 11:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  33 Responses »


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait of Vincent van Gogh 1887

 

US Has “Way Too Much Virus” To Contain Outbreak (Axios)
Fauci Warns Of 100,000 US Cases Per Day (BBC)
US Buys Almost Entire World’s Supply Of Coronavirus Drug (Ind.)
People In Their 20s Largest Age Group Of New COVID-19 Cases In Minnesota (MPR)
The Biggest Myths About The National Deficit (Alt.)

 

 

Only yesterday I wrote “..at this point it is entirely unclear how countries like the US and Brazil will ever be able to get rid of the virus.” Dr. Fauci, also yesterday, said “We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around..”

Turn around? How? CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat said the US has “way too much virus” to contain the outbreak.” Scott Gottlieb has even more dire numbers:

 

 

Things are not looking good at all. But there’s more. The nationwide protests are perceived, presented, played as anti-Trump manifestations. By both political sides, for political gain. And by the media for financial gain. That makes them de facto election rallies. And the pro-Trump side will not accept any more restrictions on their own rallies, which they (will) argue are just as legitimate. Because they have an election to contest.

If the BLM protests can continue, despite virus warnings and limited numbers at gatherings, then the conservatives will gather too, in comparable numbers. And they don’t “believe” in distancing or face masks, they claim they don’t reduce their risks, they reduce their freedom.

“Perfect storm” is an often abused term. But it does come to mind here and now.

And you thought the first half of 2020 was hard.

 

 

 

 

US has sixth day in a row with over 40,000 new cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I would think it’s obvious by now.

US Has “Way Too Much Virus” To Contain Outbreak (Axios)

The novel coronavirus is spreading too widely and quickly to contain, CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat told The Journal of the American Medical Association Monday, warning she expects “this virus to continue to circulate.” Per Schuchat, “This is really the beginning, and what we hope is that we can take it seriously and slow the transmission.” Her comments are in contrast to those of senior members of the Trump administration — notably Vice President Mike Pence, who said on Friday “we have made truly remarkable progress.” COVID-19 cases are surging across the U.S., prompting states including Texas, Arizona and New Jersey to pause plans to reopen their economies in recent days.


What else she’s saying: “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging,” Schuchat said in her interview with the Journal’s Howard Bauchner. She said there was “a lot of wishful thinking around the country” that the pandemic would be over by the summer. “We are not even beginning to be over this,” Schuchat said. “There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so.” “We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea, where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control.”

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If this is a war, as many have labeled it, the US is losing it.

Fauci Warns Of 100,000 US Cases Per Day (BBC)

Top disease researcher Dr Anthony Fauci has told the US Senate that he “would not be surprised” if new virus cases in the country reach 100,000 per day. “Clearly we are not in control right now,” he testified, warning that not enough Americans are wearing masks or social distancing. During the hearing, he said about half of all new cases come from four states. Earlier, the New York governor said nearly half of all Americans must self-quarantine if they visit the state. On Tuesday, cases rose by more than 40,000 in one day for the fourth time in the past five days. The surge – which is occurring particularly strongly in southern and western states – has forced at least 16 states to pause or reverse their reopening plans, according to CNN.

Florida, Arizona, Texas and California are the four states referenced by Dr Fauci as being most heavily hit currently. For some the new measures come over a month after they first began to reopen their economies. [..] Testifying to a Senate committee on the effort to reopen schools and businesses, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases criticised states for “skipping over” benchmarks required for reopening, and said cases will rise as a result. “I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that,” he told Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they’re doing well, they are vulnerable.”

“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” he added. Dr Fauci also called on the US government to produce face masks to be distributed for free to all Americans, and condemned the “all or none phenomenon” of some people who have completely disregarded social distancing measures.

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As someone said today: late-stage capitalism. Meanwhile, the UK wants to restart its HCQ testing program.

US Buys Almost Entire World’s Supply Of Coronavirus Drug (Ind.)

The US has effectively secured the world’s supply of one of only two drugs proven to help treat coronavirus. Remdesivir, which has previously been used to fight Ebola but has now been found to reduce recovery times among Covid-19 patients, is exclusively manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has announced it has bought up more than 500,000 doses of the drug. The figure equates to Gilead’s entire production for July, as well as 90 per cent of its production in both August and September. The US’s decision to stockpile the drug means there will likely be little supply in the rest of the world for several months.


HSS secretary Alex Azar, hailed the move, saying president Donald Trump had struck an “amazing deal”. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it,” Mr Azar added. “The Trump Administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for Covid-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.”

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It took about a month?!

People In Their 20s Largest Age Group Of New COVID-19 Cases In Minnesota (MPR)

More than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among Minnesotans in their 20s in the Mankato area who said they went to bars on June 12 and 13 — the first weekend bars and restaurants were allowed to serve indoors. Two Mankato bars — Rounders and The 507 — were the focal points of that young adult outbreak, Ehresmann said Friday. Officials were also following up on a cluster of 30 cases at two Minneapolis bars — Cowboy Jack’s and Kollege Klub. Social media from those bars shows they were crowded, with no room for social distancing, and people who were standing and not masked, so not following the state guidance, Ehresmann said.


“It’s not that you can’t socialize. It’s not that you can’t have fun,” she said. “But you need to do in a manner that’s safe for you and the people around you.” Friday’s Health Department data showed that Minnesotans in their 20s now make up the largest age group of confirmed cases in Minnesota — 7,045 people infected, with two deaths. While those young people may be less likely to suffer complications from COVID-19, officials say the concern is that they may be unknowingly spreading the disease to grandparents or other potentially vulnerable populations.The median age of confirmed cases in Minnesota has been dipping and is now just under 40 years old.

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Stephanie Kelton is on an MMT mission. It’s not an easy one. It goes against everything we think we know about economics.

The Biggest Myths About The National Deficit (Alt.)

What drives the biggest misunderstandings about government debt in our national conversation? Stephanie Kelton: Everything is wrong. The way we talk about federal government debt is, from my perspective, we say things like we’re borrowing from China and foreigners. Hillary Clinton said when she was secretary of State that it’s a national security threat. People talk about it representing a liability to all of us, so we hear people talk about “your share [of the national debt],” a burden on future generations, that it ultimately has to be paid back, that it’s going to require higher taxes in the future. I could keep going.

So what connects all these misunderstandings? Are we thinking of the government too much like a household or a business? Yes, of course. We think that the government has borrowed, and we think that this is real debt. And neither of those things is correct. I say in the book that if I walk into a bank and borrow money, I’m borrowing money because I don’t have it. Right? That’s why I got to the bank to take out a loan. The federal government is not borrowing money because it needs money. It’s not borrowing because it doesn’t have the capacity to finance whatever it wants to spend money on. It has the fiscal capacity; it can just spend. And not only that, the government sells the bonds.

And by the time the government sells the bonds, the spending has already taken place. So the bonds cannot possibly be the tool with which the government raises money in order to spend. It’s selling the bonds after the spending had already taken place. Why does it do that? It doesn’t need to borrow, it has already financed the spending. So we don’t really understand — the public and most economists get this wrong — we don’t even understand what the purpose of selling bonds is. We treat it as a borrowing operation. It’s not. The purpose of selling the bonds is to drain off the reserves, the dollars, to remove some of the dollars the government has spent into the economy and replace them with treasuries. It’s a subsidy to the rich, is what it is.

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