Sep 032020
 


Jackson Pollock Shooting Star 1947

 

Supercomputer Analysis Provides New COVID19 Theory (M.)
Trump Leads Biden At The Bookies (ZH)
The Stock Market Thinks Joe Biden Is Going To Beat Donald Trump (CNN)
Hidden Trump Voters Could Have Big November Impact (Hill)
Trump Orders Feds To Begin Process Of Defunding “Lawless” Cities (ZH)
Gov. Cuomo: Trump ‘Better Have An Army’ If He Comes To NYC (NYP)
China To Overtake US As World’s Top Economy In 2032 – State Think Tank (SCMP)
Xi Jinping Is Hoping To Let 1,000 IPOs Bloom In Hong Kong & Shanghai (Whalen)
Lin Wood, Attorney For Kyle Rittenhouse, Locked Out Of Twitter Account (Fox)
Steve Bannon Needs A Defense Not A Conspiracy Theory (Turley)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheap antigen tests

 

 

Bill Barr Mail-in Voting

 

 

A bradykinin storm. And Vitamin D as a potentially useful drug. Better get some now, before it’s too popular.

Supercomputer Analysis Provides New COVID19 Theory (M.)

Earlier this summer, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee set about crunching data on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples in an effort to better understand Covid-19. Summit is the second-fastest computer in the world, but the process — which involved analyzing 2.5 billion genetic combinations — still took more than a week. When Summit was done, researchers analyzed the results. It was, in the words of Dr. Daniel Jacobson, lead researcher and chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge, a “eureka moment.” The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of Covid-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms.

It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July. According to the team’s findings, a Covid-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms. But once Covid-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting. According to Jacobson’s group, the data Summit analyzed shows that Covid-19 isn’t content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors.

Instead, it actively hijacks the body’s own systems, tricking it into upregulating ACE2 receptors in places where they’re usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs. In this sense, Covid-19 is like a burglar who slips in your unlocked second-floor window and starts to ransack your house. Once inside, though, they don’t just take your stuff — they also throw open all your doors and windows so their accomplices can rush in and help pillage more efficiently. The renin–angiotensin system (RAS) controls many aspects of the circulatory system, including the body’s levels of a chemical called bradykinin, which normally helps to regulate blood pressure. According to the team’s analysis, when the virus tweaks the RAS, it causes the body’s mechanisms for regulating bradykinin to go haywire.

Bradykinin receptors are resensitized, and the body also stops effectively breaking down bradykinin. (ACE normally degrades bradykinin, but when the virus downregulates it, it can’t do this as effectively.) The end result, the researchers say, is to release a bradykinin storm — a massive, runaway buildup of bradykinin in the body. According to the bradykinin hypothesis, it’s this storm that is ultimately responsible for many of Covid-19’s deadly effects. Jacobson’s team says in their paper that “the pathology of Covid-19 is likely the result of Bradykinin Storms rather than cytokine storms,” which had been previously identified in Covid-19 patients, but that “the two may be intricately linked.” Other papers had previously identified bradykinin storms as a possible cause of Covid-19’s pathologies.

[..] Jacobson’s team also suggests vitamin D as a potentially useful Covid-19 drug. The vitamin is involved in the RAS system and could prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN. Again, this could stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming. The researchers note that vitamin D has already been shown to help those with Covid-19. The vitamin is readily available over the counter, and around 20% of the population is deficient.

Read more …

28% of black voters, vs 8% in 2016. That’s enormous.

Trump Leads Biden At The Bookies (ZH)

The trend we have been noting for the last week has accelerated overnight and ‘the streams have crossed’, with the average bookie now seeing it more likely that President Trump wins the 2020 election that Joe Biden. This huge swing comes as Summit News’ Paul Joseph Watson notes that the results of a new national poll reveal that a stunning 28 per cent of black Americans plan on voting for President Donald Trump. The Atlas Intel poll finds that Biden leads Trump nationally by just three points. But the real story lies in the percentage of Hispanic and black voters who told the pollsters that they will vote for Trump. According to the survey, 28 per cent of African-Americans say they plan to vote for Trump, a stunning figure. 29 per cent of black Americans also approve of the job Donald Trump is doing.


This compares to 2016 when Trump attracted 8 per cent of the black vote while Hillary Clinton captured 89 per cent. Joe Biden is down to 66 per cent of the black vote, according to the poll. Amongst Hispanics, Trump is up 13 points on the 2016 (41%), while Biden is down 10 per cent (56%). The reason behind the surge in black support for Trump could be the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be backfiring after 3 straight months of violent riots and unrest. As we highlighted earlier, a separate poll found that Trump’s support amongst African-Americans has doubled since 2016, although the results of the Atlas Intel poll blows even that figure out of the water. Activist Candace Owens, who has led the ‘Blexit’ campaign to convince black Americans to get off the Democratic reservation, appears to have achieved a stunning success.

Read more …

CNN went to a different casino.

The Stock Market Thinks Joe Biden Is Going To Beat Donald Trump (CNN)

The presidential election is only two months away and the stock market is soaring. In theory, that should bode well for President Trump since a bull market has historically benefited the incumbent. But Trump is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in many head-to-head national polls. Although the market’s sharp rebound since March could be viewed as a sign that investors expect the coronavirus-induced recession to be brief, you need to dig deeper and look at how the recovery is unfolding. It turns out a basket of stocks that could fare well in a Biden presidency have been outperforming the overall market — as well as a portfolio of stocks that might benefit from a second Trump term.


According to data from Strategas that was shared with CNN Business, a group of infrastructure, renewable energy, pro-globalization, health care and cannabis stocks are up more than 10% since early June. This so-called Biden or blue list includes companies like Granite Construction (GVA), Tesla (TSLA), First Solar (FSLR), chip giant Broadcom (AVGO) and the iShares MSCI Germany ETF (EWG), which owns several top German stocks. The bet is that these companies might thrive if Biden wins and pushes for the United States to rebuild highways and bridges, wean America off oil and restore fractured trade relations with China, Japan, Europe and other global economic leaders.

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There might be a few more this time around.

Hidden Trump Voters Could Have Big November Impact (Hill)

Trump supporters are far more likely to hide their preference in polls. This was the finding of recent research that investigated this increasingly prevalent assumption. If true in even small percentages, an imposing Trump surge could be hiding within the electorate. There is growing suspicion that Trump supporters are not divulging their preferences to pollsters. This would hardly be surprising considering the left’s current cancel culture climate. Five years of vituperation has increasingly turned violent. There are daily occurrences for those willing to objectively look at the riots occurring in big cities across America. Even high-profile people are not immune, as Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s narrow escape outside the White House following President Trump’s acceptance speech demonstrated.

It is logical that ordinary Americans could feel vulnerable. To test this theory, CloudResearch recently sampled American voters in search of what they term “shy voters.” Their results show that Trump supporters were “significantly more reluctant to share their opinions on phone surveys compared to Biden supporters.” Almost 12 percent of Republicans and nearly 11 percent of Independents, were also almost twice as likely to be reticent than Democrats (about 5 percent). These seemingly small percentages could have major November implications. For illustration of roughly how big, look at 2016 exit polling. In the last presidential election, 36 percent of voters were Democrats, while 33 percent were Republicans and 31 percent were Independents.

Applying CloudResearch’s “shy voter” percentages to each group yields 9 percent of the electorate as not giving their true candidate preferences. However, those roughly one in 11 reticent voters are not, as CloudResearch discovered, evenly distributed between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Instead, they run about 2-to-1 in Trump’s favor. On the net, they come out to around a 3 percent hidden “Trump bump.” Again, that may appear small, but not in what is an increasingly tight race. According to Real Clear Politics’s average of polling results, Biden’s national lead is now just 6 percent — down from 9 percent on July 1. Currently, Biden’s lead in the all-important top battleground states is far narrower — just about 3 percent, compared to just over 5 percent on Aug. 5.

While we do not know where these reticent supporters were being recorded (for example, listed as supporting a third-party candidate or as unsure of who they support), if they were listed as Biden supporters, their impact as hidden Trump supporters would be twice as large. This is because of the zero-sum nature of each vote going to Trump also would be deducted from Biden. So, the range of Trump’s benefit relative to Biden from hidden supporters could be anywhere from 3 percent to 5 percent. Either way, in a tight race such an impact would be huge. Remember that in 2016, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2 percent. However, Trump still won the electoral vote and the presidency. A hidden 3 percent of Trump supporters would erase Clinton’s 2016 margin and Biden’s current lead in Real Clear Politics’s battleground average. A hidden 5 percent of Trump supporters would push Real Clear Politics’s national average into a dead-heat.

Read more …

The reactions should be good.

Trump Orders Feds To Begin Process Of Defunding “Lawless” Cities (ZH)

The feud between Trump and liberal cities which encourage protests which seeking to defund the police escalated sharply on Wednesday, when the President ordered the federal government to begin the process of defunding New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington, cities where officials allowed “lawless” protests and cut police budgets amid rising violent crime. In a five-page memo sent to federal agencies on Wednesday whose subject is “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities” and signed by Trump, the president orders them to report to the White House Office of Management and Budget on any funding that could be redirected.

New York City, Portland, Seattle and even Washington, DC are among the initial targets of the measure. “My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump says in the memo, which mentions New York Mayor Bill de Blasio by name twice. To ensure the federal funding is not wasted or “spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”


In a tweet late on Wednesday, Trump followed up the memo by saying that his administration “will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today.”

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He tries to imitate Trump. Doesn’t work. He just ends up sounding crazy.

Gov. Cuomo: Trump ‘Better Have An Army’ If He Comes To NYC (NYP)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday all but threatened President Trump’s safety if he returns to New York City in a rant responding to an exclusive story by The Post that Trump is looking to pull federal funds from “lawless” cities including New York. Cuomo called an emergency press briefing within a half hour on Wednesday night to tear into Trump for the order, which cites New York’s rising murder rate and defunding of the NYPD. “He better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him,” the Democrat said, all but threatening the commander in chief. But Cuomo, who like Trump hails from Queens, wasn’t done. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City, people don’t want to have anything to do with him.” [..]

On substance, Cuomo said he doubted the legality of Trump’s five-page memo ordering a review of federal funds that can be redirected from New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington, DC. “It is more of the same from him. It’s political, it is gratuitous. And it’s illegal. But it is another attempt to kill New York City,” Cuomo said. “President Ford said drop dead. President Trump has been actively trying to kill New York City since he’s been elected,” he said. In highly personal and insulting language, Cuomo speculated that Trump wasn’t upset about New York’s soaring murder rate and shootings. “I think it’s because he is from New York City and New York City rejected him, always,” Cuomo said. “He was dismissed as a clown in New York City, those who know him best, like him least.”

[..] The governor also claimed Trump’s “negligence” is the reason New York state suffered the highest COVID-19 death toll. The governor’s critics blame his Health Department’s mandate that forbade nursing homes from turning away COVID-19-positive patients, potentially leading to at least 6,500 deaths. At the end of his call, Cuomo, apparently sensing how his remarks about Trump could be seen as threatening, attempted to walk them back. “My comment about the president and bodyguards in New York City, all I’m saying is that he is persona non grata in New York City. And I think he knows that. And he’ll never come back to New York, because New Yorkers will never forget how gratuitously mean he has been to New Yorkers and how many times he’s tried to kill the city that gave him his start and birthed him. That’s what I meant about the bodyguards.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump called on CNN to fire Cuomo’s younger brother Chris Cuomo over a leaked tape in which he says he was questioned about sexual misconduct. “Fredo must go!” Trump wrote, using an insulting reference from “The Godfather.”

Read more …

“..there are also views that China may never surpass the US to be No 1, due to the former’s ageing population..”

China To Overtake US As World’s Top Economy In 2032 – State Think Tank (SCMP)

China is expected to surpass the United States to become the world’s largest economy in a little more than a decade, despite escalating hostilities with Washington, a Beijing-based governmental think tank has forecast. The prediction, made by researchers at the Development Research Centre (DRC) of the State Council, the Chinese government’s cabinet, reflects mainstream assumptions in Beijing about the success of the Chinese government’s new development strategy of focusing more on its domestic market, given the intensifying economic, technological and geopolitical rivalry with the United States. The report also underlines a big assumption in China that the country’s economic rise is unstoppable.

Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed on Monday that China must “speed up” the new “dual circulation” strategy he introduced in May, given that the external environment has become volatile and hostile. According to the group of researchers led by Chen Changsheng, who oversees macroeconomic research at the government-run think tank, disputes between China and the US will intensify further in the next five years. “It can’t be ruled out that the US will use all possible methods to contain China’s development, including imposing financial sanctions on Chinese companies by misusing its ‘long arm’ jurisdiction [to impose US law outside America’s borders], seizing China’s holdings of US Treasury securities … coercing other countries to impose technology embargoes on China, as well as excluding China from the [US] dollar payment system,” according to the report.


However, even those factors cannot stop China’s economic rise, the report suggested. The country’s share of the global economy will rise to 18.1 per cent in 2025 from 16.2 per cent in 2019, while the US share will drop to 21.9 per cent from 24.1 per cent in the same period, the researchers predicted. Last month, Justin Lin Yifu, a professor at Peking University and the World Bank’s former chief economist, predicted that China would surpass the US as the world’s largest economy by 2030. However, there are also views that China may never surpass the US to be No 1, due to the former’s ageing population. Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argued that, from a demographic point of view, China would not be able to surpass the US in the foreseeable future.

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“..Chinese companies need access to the US markets because they cannot raise significant money on a Hong Kong exchange. Dollar stability is required for their system to work.”

Xi Jinping Is Hoping To Let 1,000 IPOs Bloom In Hong Kong & Shanghai (Whalen)

China under Xi Jinping is becoming the embodiment of George Orwell’s “1984” nightmare fueled by 21st century technological tools. Facial recognition, for example, enabled with a lot of stolen western technology, enables the Chinese state to track the movements of its citizens and include this public surveillance in its overall profile of each citizen. The level of control enjoyed by the CCP is illustrated by the harvesting of human organs from the living bodies of political prisoners. The role of finance in China’s development and the CCP’s adoption of new authoritarian controls is a vital piece of the puzzle. By driving China towards a cashless society, the CCP and state security services can use access to electronic cash and payments as a mechanism for reward or punishment.

When cash is eliminated, the state that controls the means of exchange – call it currency – controls all. As financial reform becomes the next leg of the CCP’s continuing drive to protect its political monopoly in China, the fight with Washington over allowing Chinese firms to list their shares in the US takes on significance. Many Chinese firms refused to follow US requirements regarding audit results, putting them in violation of exchange and SEC rules. But the threats by the US to shut out Chinese firms remain just threats in an election year. “Trump will get louder and louder on China before the election, but all of these things will take years to phase in after the election,” notes veteran China watcher Leland Miller founder of China Beige Book. “But many Chinese companies need access to the US markets because they cannot raise significant money on a Hong Kong exchange. Dollar stability is required for their system to work.”


While US actions to address are correct, attracting more volumes to Chinese exchanges serves the interests of the CCP. Even as the US restricts access to US exchanges, billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group is poised to simultaneously list in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Bloomberg News reports Ant is gunning for a valuation of $225 billion, making it the world’s fourth-largest financial company. If you appreciate that the benefits available to CCP members for self-enrichment have been greatly reduced in recent years compared with, say, the first decade of the 2000s, then you understand the problem. Xi Jinping needs to increase the cash flow to communist party cadres in order to maintain control in the 2020s. Reforming the financial system is the perfect canvas for eliminating enemies and generating cash — especially from the important offshore Chinese community.

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“I’m going to take Jack Dorsey’s ass down”

Lin Wood, Attorney For Kyle Rittenhouse, Locked Out Of Twitter Account (Fox)

The high-profile attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with fatally shooting two people in Kenosha, said he was locked out of his Twitter account Tuesday after posting about raising money for Rittenhouse’s legal defense. L. Lin Wood argued the action against his account is the latest example of Twitter censorship of conservative voices and he intends to file a lawsuit against the social media giant and its CEO Jack Dorsey. “I’m going to take Jack Dorsey’s ass down,” Wood told Fox News. “He has been abusing the First Amendment of this country for his own agenda.” Wood was blocked from tweeting for several hours on Tuesday for violating Twitter rules. Wood said he’s been careful to abide by Twitter’s terms of service. But he got a notice that his account was locked for “glorifying violence.”

“I knew they were going to censor me because I’m sending a message of hope,” Wood, who posts regularly to his nearly 138,000 followers, told Fox News. “I’m sending a message of truth. And I’m sending a message that Kyle Rittenhouse is innocent.” Hours after the account had been suspended, Twitter said it made a mistake in a statement to Fox News. “This account was incorrectly actioned,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “This has been reversed and the account has been reinstated.” [..] Wood also represents Nicholas Sandmann, Carter Page, St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Greene and Dr. Simone Gold. To the outside, Wood’s account looked like it was working normally, with no notifications or warnings on his tweets.

But a screengrab of Wood’s account shared with Fox News shows his account “has been locked for violating the Twitter rules.” Specifically, Wood was dinged for “violating our rules against glorifying violence.” “Everybody thinks I’m still on it unless they know I’ve been blocked,” Wood said. “That’s why we’re getting the word out they censored me for nine hours. I have no idea how to get back on. They didn’t give me any instructions.” On Monday, Wood revealed on Twitter that more than 11,000 donors have raised $605,550 for the legal defense of Rittenhouse, who claims the shootings in Kenosha were self-defense. A Twitter user asked if Wood would be selling or disclosing his donor list to other groups. Lin replied “No” and added “#fightback” in reference to the name of the legal fund foundation. That was his last tweet before getting locked out.

Wood said he’s been accumulating “a mountain of evidence” to support a lawsuit against Twitter for discriminating against users based on political speech. Wood previewed a lawsuit he intends to file on behalf Sandmann that could be a class action suit and pointed to Twitter’s actions against his account as the latest example of suppression of free speech. He’s been vocal on Twitter about his intentions to sue. Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School graduate, filed suit against mainstream media outlets for their coverage of his encounter with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial, which portrayed the teen as the aggressor. He already settled his multi-million dollar defamation lawsuits with CNN and the Washington Post and now Wood says the next frontier will be Twitter and other websites. “Nicholas Sandmann is going to take down the mainstream media. And then we’re going to take down social media,” Wood said. “Nicolas Sandmann is going to never be forgotten.”

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Sounds serious enough.

Steve Bannon Needs A Defense Not A Conspiracy Theory (Turley)

“This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall.” That was the only response noted from former White House strategist Steve Bannon after his indictment for fraud in New York last week. Facing up to 20 years in prison, it was perhaps the most ambitious political spin from a man whose creativity was matched only by his audacity. If Mr. Bannon is hoping to convert his signature deep-state conspiracy into a criminal defense, however, he will face perhaps his most formidable opponent yet: himself. In a recent book, “Deep State: Trump, the FBI and the Rule of Law” by James B. Stewart, Mr. Bannon is quoted as saying “deep state conspiracy theory is for nut cases” and that such claims are out of bounds since “America isn’t Turkey or Egypt.”

He is now suggesting the a similar conspiracy is afoot to derail his work to build the wall. However, Mr. Bannon needs an explanation, not a narrative, to address his alleged conduct in the indictment. The problem with the deep-state conspiracy as a defense is that it only works if prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are pursuing a simple and honest wall builder with bizarre or novel theories of criminality. In fact, the 24-page indictment is as simple as sin itself. It details knowingly false statements to donors coupled with the misuse of contributed funds for personal expenses of the four principle figures behind the “Build The Wall” campaign. Mr. Bannon never does anything small and, when he decided to delve into the funds of this charity, he did it with signature gusto.


The charity raised $25 million and Mr. Bannon is accused of taking $1 million of that money as personal compensation. His co-defendants Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea are accused of taking their own shares despite assurances to donors that all of the money would go to building the wall along the southern border.

Read more …

 

 

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I must have said it 1000 times. No velocity, no inflation.

Lance Roberts Velocity and Inflation

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 242020
 


Henri Cartier Bresson Salamanca, Spain 1963

 

Trump Announces Emergency Authorization For Convalescent Plasma (JTN)
97,000 People Got Convalescent Plasma. Who Knows if It Works? (Wired)
China Has Given Potential Coronavirus Vaccine To Key Workers Since July (G.)
Graham: FBI Docs Show ‘Double Standard’ For Clinton And Trump Campaigns (Fox)
This Will Be The Year Of The Biden Republican – Rahm Emanuel (CNBC)
Corporate Dems Want You To Shut Up While They Get Loud (Sirota)
The Silence Of Joe Biden And The Dems On The Violence In The Cities (Kass)
Don’t Discount the Dollar Yet (FP)
China’s Mysterious Dollar Dealings (OMFIF)
Las Vegas Housing Market ‘On Fire’ As Economy Limps Along (LVRJ)
Summer In The Ailing City: The Purpose Is Life (Maglinis)

 

 

Kellyanne Conway leaves 2 months before the election, US cities are still on fire, using convalescent plasma becomes legal, Rahm Emanuel is dug up from whatever hole he was in, and the FBI failed to inform the Trump team about foreign interference in their campaign. In other words, normal weekend. Maybe it was the last one for a while.

 

 

Weekend numbers don’t mean much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrel

 

 

Why make this such a big deal? Can’t the doctors just do it?

Trump Announces Emergency Authorization For Convalescent Plasma (JTN)

President Trump at a Sunday evening press conference announced an emergency authorization of convalescent plasma amid the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. “The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization … for a treatment known as convalescent plasma. This is a powerful therapy that transfuses very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection,” Trump said. “It’s had an incredible rate of success. Today’s action will dramatically expand access to this treatment,” the president said. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Saturday night had tweeted the the president would hold a Sunday event “concerning a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus.”

Read more …

From well before Trump’s announcement.

“The distribution system got approved and built; the trial protocols did not. They never began.”

97,000 People Got Convalescent Plasma. Who Knows if It Works? (Wired)

As of Monday, August 17, a nationwide program to treat Covid-19 patients with a fluid made from the blood of people who’d recovered from the disease—so-called convalescent plasma—had reached 97,319 patients. That’s a huge number of people, considering that nobody really knows whether convalescent plasma actually works against Covid-19. A spontaneously generated, self-assembling group of clinicians and cross-disciplinary researchers that built the nationwide program to ensure “expanded access” to convalescent plasma also created protocols for randomized, controlled trials, the gold standard for evidence in science.

They hoped to test plasma’s ability to prevent disease after exposure, its capacity to treat Covid-19—and what Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic who was instrumental in setting up the expanded-access network, called a “Hail Mary” protocol to try to help people who are severely ill, on ventilators. The distribution system got approved and built; the trial protocols did not. They never began. There are plenty of reasons to think plasma might help fight Covid-19. Physicians have used it for more than a century; it’s made by taking blood from people who’ve recovered from a disease and spinning it in a centrifuge down to a frothy, yellow liquid that contains the sum total of the donor’s immune response—molecules that attack all invading germs, and some that specifically target all the individual pathogens the donor has ever encountered.

But actual rigorous trials of the stuff are rare. Dozens of randomized, controlled clinical trials are underway—tests that systematically compare the same kinds of people at similar stages of the disease who get convalescent plasma to those who don’t. Even without that rigor, this year tens of thousands of people received plasma for Covid-19. It played out as a one-on-one decision between physicians and patients, not a population-scale experiment designed to elicit knowledge about its efficacy. A preprint from the expanded-access group, not yet peer-reviewed, recounts the outcomes of more than 35,000 of these recipients at hundreds of hospitals. It retroactively splits that population into groups based on when in their illness they got plasma, or how laden the plasma was with the antibodies that actually do the disease-fighting.

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Let Big Pharma chime in.

China Has Given Potential Coronavirus Vaccine To Key Workers Since July (G.)

The Chinese government has been administering a coronavirus vaccine candidate to selected groups of key workers since July, a senior health official has said. Zheng Zhongei, the head of the National Health Commission’s science and technology centre, told state media organisation CCTV on Sunday the government had authorised “emergency use” of a Sars-Cov-2 vaccine for workers including health workers and border officials. The country has gone seven days without reporting a locally transmitted case, and border workers are considered to be in a high-risk category, said Zheng, who leads the vaccination development taskforce.

It appears to be the first confirmation of vaccine use by China outside clinical trials. There were no details on which particular vaccine candidate was used or how many people received it, but Zheng said it had been administered in line with the law, under powers that allow limited use of the unapproved vaccines during serious public health events. “We’ve drawn up a series of plan packages, including medical consent forms, side-effect monitoring plans, rescuing plans, compensation plans, to make sure the emergency use is well regulated and monitored,” Zheng said, adding that they planned to “scale up” the testing to other groups before autumn and winter.

[..] In June the Chinese government called for volunteers among employees of state-owned companies who travel overseas frequently, to test two vaccines. State-owned China National Biotec Group (CNBG) has since been approved to start human testing of its vaccine in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Peru, Morocco and Argentina, and the company said about 20,000 people were taking part in the overseas trials. SinoVac and CanSino Biologics are also conducting overseas trials in Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil. Last week a planeload of Chinese mine workers was refused entry to Papua New Guinea, over government concerns about an apparent vaccination trial.

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We know where the FBI stands.

Graham: FBI Docs Show ‘Double Standard’ For Clinton And Trump Campaigns (Fox)

Following the release of recently declassified documents, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says he believes the FBI showed a double standard in its investigations into reports of foreign interference at the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and now-President Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. Calling it “the ultimate double standard,” Graham said that the documents reveal that leaders at the FBI sought to give the Clinton campaign a defensive briefing before it could pursue a FISA warrant related reports that a Clinton operative was connected to foreign government. “The FBI finds out about a plot by a foreign government to lobby her campaign and funnel millions of dollars into the Clinton campaign illegally,” Graham said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “

They want a FISA warrant against a Clinton operative who is connected to the foreign government. What happens? The FBI seventh floor says we’re not going to let you get a warrant. And to you defensively, brief the Clinton campaign.” But instead of doing the same for the Trump campaign, the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane operation and pursued a number of FISA warrants against people working with Trump’s campaign. While Graham would not reveal which foreign government wanted to assist Clinton in getting elected, he said that FBI leadership shot down a request for a FISA warrant until Clinton was briefed on the matter. “They never did to Trump,” Graham said. “As a matter of fact, not only did they not tell Trump, they used a generic briefing to spy on Trump.”

“The FBI did the right thing by briefing Clinton and failed to do the right thing by never specifically briefing President Trump about their concerns,” Graham said in a statement released earlier on Sunday. Earlier this month, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., issued a subpoenaed to the FBI and Director Christopher Wray as part of its broad review into the origins of the Russia investigation. The subpoena, obtained by Fox News, demands that he produce “all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”

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If Rahm Emanuel speaks for you, you know you’re in trouble.

This Will Be The Year Of The Biden Republican – Rahm Emanuel (CNBC)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a chance to replicate an election strategy that helped elect Republican icon Ronald Reagan to the White House almost four decades ago, longtime Democratic politician Rahm Emanuel told CNBC on Friday. Emanuel, appearing on “Closing Bell,” said he believes that the former vice president can win over disaffected Republicans with a platform that has moderate language to get behind. “This will be the year of the Biden Republican,” said Emanuel, citing the appearances of John Kasich, former governor of Ohio, Colin Powell, secretary of State under President George W. Bush, and Cindy McCain, widow of Sen. John McCain, among other GOP members at the Democratic National Convention this week.

“Joe Biden will be a president we will all be proud to salute,” Powell said in his message. “With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries — never the other way around.” Emanuel likened Republican voters mobilized against President Donald Trump to “Reagan Democrats,” the White, traditional blue-collar voters who crossed party lines to help elect Reagan to two terms as president. Reagan defeated then-Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide. The California Republican carried 44 out of 50 states in the 1980 contest and 49 states in the 1984 race.

Democrats must not only attract Republican voters who want to put Trump out of office at the end of his first term, but retain those voters under the party’s big tent, said Emanuel, who served as White House chief of staff under former President Barack Obama. He made the same case in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece Saturday, saying that suburban voters in areas of Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, battleground states that Trump won in 2016, can be flipped. The lack of support for a “Green New Deal” and “Medicare for All” in the Democratic platform helps the party balance between the desires of the moderate and more progressive members, Emanuel said on CNBC.

With a broad coalition of support that stretches from four-star generals to Black Lives Matter supporters, Biden can leverage his decades of governing experience in Washington to “culturally move them into a comfort zone,” he said. “My view is you don’t want this to be a transactional election,” the former Chicago mayor said. “You want this to be the opportunity of a transformational election.”

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Maybe Sirota can get a speaking slot at the RNC.

Corporate Dems Want You To Shut Up While They Get Loud (Sirota)

No doubt, you have been told to keep quiet. Just put on your big boy pants, they say, and find the impulse control to at least muzzle yourself for the next 72 days until the election happens. After that, fine — then and only then will you maybe be permitted to speak your mind and politely ask the Democratic Party to match its rhetoric with its policy agenda. But until then, you are told to ‘“shut the hell up and grow up,” as former Obama and Mike Bloomberg pollster Cornell Belcher put it during an emblematic MSNBC segment berating progressives. This kind of hectoring has become a defining part of the Democratic Party’s culture. As the late great journalist Bill Greider lamented:

“The way the Democratic Party is run for quite a number of presidential cycles is they pick a nominee in a kind of half-assed process that doesn’t really represent much of anybody and then they tell everybody to just shut up — don’t bring up anything that will complicate life for your nominee… shut up, turn off your brains.” There’s a superficial logic to this call for omerta — after all, Donald Trump is destroying everything and he must be defeated. But here’s the problem: The demand to shut up is only being aimed at the progressive base of the party, while the corporate wing floods the zone with rhetoric that could demobilize voters.

Indeed, at the very moment many good progressives are blunting their criticism and making clear that defeating Trump is of utmost importance, Corporate Democrats aren’t being asked to wait or hold their tongues. In fact, they are doing the opposite: Rahm Emanuel — who has been advising Biden — just went on television to show that the corporate wing of the party is intent on using the stretch run of the Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime™ not to doggedly focus on actually winning the election, but to instead try to predetermine post-election policy outcomes. Emanuel and his ilk depict themselves as evincing a non-ideological “just win, baby” attitude. But they are most decidedly pushing a very clear corporate ideology — and they are doing so in dangerously divisive ways that could depress the big turnout that’s desperately needed to defeat Trump.

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It was another violent weekend in the cities. How much longer? And how did this ever become normal?

The Silence Of Joe Biden And The Dems On The Violence In The Cities (Kass)

Joe Biden, the smiling figurehead who Democrats have nominated for president, closed his party’s virtual convention with a speech that proved two things about him. The man can still ably deliver a well-written speech. And he still has great message discipline. Because he did what the other Democrats did over their four-day infomercial, make constant references to their own virtue and empathy, while portraying President Donald Trump as evil incarnate, a dark lord without virtue and without an empathetic bone in his body. But through all that talk, Biden and the Democrats avoided saying anything about what many Americans are talking about now: The violence, political and otherwise, plaguing American big cities run by liberal Democratic mayors.

The entire country sees the spiking street crime, the 50% increase in murders in some cities, looting in the downtowns, those news videos of people being pulled out of their cars and beaten, knocked out on the sidewalk, and cops pummeled in violent political confrontations. Biden was silent about all that. I wish he hadn’t been. But he was. In his speech, Biden offered a thorough condemnation of Trump, and this memorable line. “My father taught us that silence was complicity,” Biden said. You’ve probably also heard the slogan “silence equals violence.” But my barber, Raffaele Raia, born in Naples, puts it this way: “Chi tace acconsente. He who is silent says ‘yes’. The silence is the consent.”

Many protests have been peaceful. But many have not been. A cop getting his head thumped by a protester using a skateboard as a club isn’t a victim of a peaceful protest. The protests are no longer about the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. They’re also not about virtue or empathy. Yet in the midst of this, Americans are encouraged to apply virtue to politics. But searching for virtue in politicians is childlike, like believing in fairy tales, pixies, or like hoping to find a purple unicorn who’ll be your friend forever. Yet rather than search for virtuous purple unicorns, you might consider the words of Bostonian Henry Adams in “The Education of Henry Adams”: “Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man. Practical politics consists of ignoring facts. Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, had always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”

[..] Biden and national Democrats can’t acknowledge any of it. They’re desperate to avoid it. They have nothing to say to it. And the conflict inside their party rages on, out on the streets, where America can see it. Trump will roll down that law-and-order road at the Republican virtual convention. He’s a politician, now, too. That’s what politicians do. Like wolves, they take advantage of weakness. But Trump didn’t pave that road he’s on. Biden and the national Democratic Party paved it for him, with silence that is consent.

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“..any market for Chinese yuan consistent with a role as a global reserve currency would need to exist outside of mainland China.”

Don’t Discount the Dollar Yet (FP)

If some stories are easier to tell than others, the decline of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency is one of them. It’s not hard to see why. The cast of characters that avail themselves for the script includes international trade, financial architecture, great-power competition, cycles of history, and even parables from ancient Greece.And on cue, the headlines are again churning out new versions of the familiar fable. New plot lines include the economic fallout of a global pandemic as well as a “capital war” between the United States and China, in which Washington usurps Beijing’s traditionally lonely role as the imposer of the restrictions on how capital can move between their two countries, frightening global investors, who then forsake the fallen dollar. Taken at face value, the headlines suggest that the dollar’s long-awaited dethroning may be here at last.

But the economic forces that thwarted any demise of the dollar in the past persist. They continue to render any end to the dollar’s reserve status today unlikely. In fact, there is a new player keeping it on its throne: the Chinese Communist Party. It’s the latest arrival to the motley crew of conspirators serving, unwittingly, to prevent the currency from leaving its seat. The dollar can’t be displaced with nothing, and mainland China’s currency, the yuan, was once the most-viable something. Global banks planned for it to “inevitably” replace the dollar. Economists speculated about the timing. The country’s growing economy, after all, is the world’s second largest. And Beijing is keen to take steps intended to promote its currency’s use in international trade. Officials in the world’s third-largest economy, the European Union, may voice similar intentions.

But Beijing is not dealing in the currency of a monetary union that, according to research at its own central bank, maybe shouldn’t even exist. “Overall economic structures in euro area countries,” economists at the European Central Bank concluded in 2019, “are still not fully commensurate with the requirements of a monetary union.” Nonetheless, Beijing’s recent actions have eviscerated the yuan’s prospects as a real reserve currency. For a currency to function as an international reserve, global businesses need safe places to put it when it’s not in use. After all, no one wants to sell stuff in exchange for money they’d struggle to safely store. Without safe storage options, like easy-to-access banks or at least low-risk bonds, a currency can become a costly thing with which to do business.

The most natural home for these safe assets denominated in mainland China’s currency would be mainland China. But Beijing imposes capital controls on flows of money in and out of the mainland. These capital controls stymie the development of liquid, globally accessible capital markets that can offer safe assets. Hence any market for Chinese yuan consistent with a role as a global reserve currency would need to exist outside of mainland China.

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Not sure what the mystery is. The bottom line, no matter where it turns, is China is stuck until it liberates its currency.

China’s Mysterious Dollar Dealings (OMFIF)

Considering China’s tensions with the US, Chinese authorities’ and banks’ dollar business is somewhat puzzling. China’s US Treasury holdings decreased to $1.07tn at end-2019, from $1.112tn in mid-2019. Chinese-owned banks globally reduced their reliance on dollar funding by $42.5bn. Since then, China’s holdings of US treasuries have risen to $1.084tn as of May, and banks’ dollar funding climbed $40.7bn in this year’s first quarter. This represents a swing of $80bn, around 8% of Chinese banks’ total cross-border funding. This is particularly surprising as global liquidity, and especially dollar liquidity, started drying up in March in view of the virus-induced global downturn. By the end of Q1, Chinese banks had extended $1.4tn in cross-border loans, two-thirds of total their overseas assets.

Dollar funding amounted to $1tn, half of total liabilities. This represents a funding gap of $400bn. While this might lead to a liquidity crunch, similar to European and Japanese banks, it was deemed manageable thanks to ample official dollar reserves. These could be made available to Chinese banks. Chinese banks’ cross-border dollar business is minor compared to their $40tn in total assets. Hence, the impact on the Chinese economy would be smaller than in the home countries of other global banks, according to the IMF. Deposits are the steadiest source of dollar funding, but are not readily available to Chinese banks. The central banks of China, Russia and Turkey are not covered by the Federal Reserve’s swap facilities. Foreign banks’ US subsidiaries can access the Fed Funds market, but Chinese banks do not appear to have tapped into it.

Their main source of dollar funding is offshore financing, as confirmed by the Bank for International Settlements. Financing is available through a number of channels, mostly interbank borrowing, as well as securitised debt. There are two enigmas regarding China’s dollar business. The first is Chinese banks’ continued purchases of US treasuries and dollar lending and funding. The second is why these banks are seeking to become a major intermediary for dollar financing to emerging market economies through the Belt and Road initiative, to the tune of $600bn by end-2019. At the same time, they have funded themselves in dollars, mostly in offshore centres. The BRI was expected to facilitate renminbi financing, boosting renminbi internationalisation.

Financing for the BRI is granted mainly through domestic lending to Chinese companies involved in BRI projects. Major Chinese banks’ head offices, as well as their Hong Kong branches, offer direct cross-border financing to recipient countries. According to their annual reports, the four main banks (including two policy banks) have extended $150bn each in loans. This lending has not been securitised and stays on the bank’s balance sheet, contrary to the global trend. This prevents foreign investors from buying into BRI projects, even though they were expected to contribute more funding in the initiative’s second phase. What remains are emerging economy dollar-denominated liabilities to Chinese lenders, which will come under scrutiny if countries seek IMF support. Chinese bankers say their emerging economy clients prefer dollar loans. If they provided loans in renminbi, recipients would change them into dollars to enhance fungibility.

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Reads like an advertorial.

Las Vegas Housing Market ‘On Fire’ As Economy Limps Along (LVRJ)

With a baby on the way, a strong credit score and money saved up, Veronica Markowsky figured it was time to buy a house. So the 35-year-old renter recently joined a herd of homebuyers in Southern Nevada and signed papers for a soon-to-be-built house — all while the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy and her Las Vegas bridal shop business. It’s probably not the best time to buy a place, Markowsky said, but she had her reasons. “What’s the worst that can happen?” she said. Las Vegas’ tourism-dependent economy has been devastated by the coronavirus outbreak. But the valley’s housing market, which initially was hit hard by the fallout from the crisis, has been accelerating lately with fast-rising sales and record prices.

The fervor has provided a surprising jolt of commerce in a bleak time. “I didn’t expect any of this kind of activity,” said Tom Blanchard, president of trade association Las Vegas Realtors. By all accounts, record-low mortgage rates — cheap money, essentially — are providing much of the fuel, as they let buyers lock in lower monthly payments. Amid the surge of demand, prices have climbed as the market’s low inventory of available homes further tightens. Southern Nevada has seen record job losses during the pandemic, with much of the pain falling on the service sector, where wages tend to be lower. Who is buying homes amid the turmoil? People who still have jobs, savings and other factors that let them qualify for a mortgage or buy with cash.

All told, the market has gained speed as buyers snap up homes from builders and on the resale market, with sellers fetching multiple bids. “It’s craziness,” Blanchard said. Las Vegas attorney Adam Breeden, who closed his purchase of a newly built house near the M Resort last month, listed his old house in May. He received three offers within three days, he recalled, including one at the full asking price. “I was shocked the market was the exact opposite I thought it would be,” he said.

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Lovely dispatch from Athens.

Summer In The Ailing City: The Purpose Is Life (Maglinis)

The feeling when you look out of the hospital window is that life is out there and it is passing you by indifferently, cold toward your small, insignificant drama. It is as if you have been immobilized in a static parallel universe. At the same time, this gradation of life (people out there, sunbathing on beaches and diving in cool seas and, on the other hand, those of us faced with the unpleasant condition of serious hospitalization – much more so when the person being treated is your child) in turn has its own, internal gradations: We do not all have the same fate, the same experience in the hospital. Some children will never be out of the hospital again.

Normally we should be thankful that, even though they are suffering, our child’s treatments are going well. And indeed you thank God and are thankful for your fate, but the cursed time in the hospital runs torturously slowly. So you look out there, you count the hours spent in the hospital, you count them like drops falling from the intravenous drip, you look at the sun-soaked courtyard of the clinic, the few people walking around, and you realize that even the lucky ones “out there” feel more vulnerable than ever.

But this may be the constant of the summer of 2020: In mid-August, the holiday season in Athens does not have the unguarded carelessness of other summers. Even in times of deep economic crisis, summer, August, was a refuge. Temporary maybe, but it still had something healing about it. This year, the pandemic – with the invisible, tiny enemy that knows no frontline or rear guard, that knows how to bypass obstacles and find forgotten half-open “back doors,” in the summer on the islands, on the crowded shores, even in the deserted city – looks like a well-orchestrated ambush.

But even in the age of imposed social abstinence and distance, “no man is an island,” as the English poet John Donne once wrote. “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Maybe because it binds us all to the simple truth that no one wants to be sick, no one wants to feel sick, no one wants to accept that they are powerless before nature, which is blind when it comes to your decay, entropy, extinction. No one wants to feel that, deep down, it is another insignificant part of the “whole process” of death and rebirth in nature. Who wants to feel like they are just a cog in a process of wear and tear and not a player in a longevity process?

Normally, every summer, we should all have the right to feel a little like kids again. This year we have no right to such a blessed parenthesis. Some for special reasons and all for the known ones. Another summer will come that will be healing and when we can feel like children again. Our only mission is to endure until another such summer, that will have a few moments of heavenly simplicity. The mask – or even the hospitalization – is just the pretext. The purpose is life .

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I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it looks nice.

 

 

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Jul 312020
 
 July 31, 2020  Posted by at 10:08 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Elliot Erwitt California 1955

 

Young Children Carry Much Higher Viral Load Than Other Age Groups (SD)
Tokyo Could Declare Emergency If Situation Worsens (R.)
China Reports 127 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest Since March 5 (R.)
Netherlands Refuses To Mandate Mask Wearing In Public (ZH)
Australia To Make Facebook, Google Pay For News In World First (R.)
The Grifters, Chapter 1 – Kodak (Ben Hunt)
Trader Joe’s Won’t Change Packaging On International Food Brands (JTN)
Michael Flynn Case To Be Reheard By Full US Appeals Court (R.)
Kamala Harris’s Record On Antitrust & White-Collar Crime (TMI)
What Does Susan Rice Bring to a Biden Ticket? (Lee Smith)

 

 

New global daily cases record, and global deaths are creeping up again. As are deaths in the US and many European countries, Hong Kong, China, Japan. This ain’t over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varon

 

 

A new surprise every day.

Young Children Carry Much Higher Viral Load Than Other Age Groups (SD)

A study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago discovered that children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. Findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups. The ability of younger children to spread COVID-19 may have been under-recognized given the rapid and sustained closure of schools and daycare during the pandemic.

“We found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV,” says lead author Taylor Heald-Sargent, MD, PhD, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare.”


Dr. Heald-Sargent and colleagues analyzed 145 cases of mild to moderate COVID-19 illness within the first week of symptom onset. They compared the viral load in three age groups — children younger than 5 years, children 5-17 years and adults 18-65 years. “Our study was not designed to prove that younger children spread COVID-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility,” says Dr. Heald-Sargent. “We need to take that into account in efforts to reduce transmission as we continue to learn more about this virus.”

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Japan has been doing quite well so far. Opening up may not be a good idea.

Tokyo Could Declare Emergency If Situation Worsens (R.)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike warned on Friday that the Japanese capital could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation deteriorated further, after new cases jumped by a record single-day high of 463. “If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike said, imploring residents to follow health guidelines to avoid that happening.

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Xi is nervous.

China Reports 127 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest Since March 5 (R.)

China reported 127 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on July 30, up from 105 the previous day, the country’s health authority said on Friday, the highest daily number since March 5. Of the total, 112 were in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, up from 96 a day earlier. Another 11 were in Liaoning province in the northeast, up from five the previous day. There were four new imported coronavirus cases on July 30, compared to three a day earlier, while the number of new asymptomatic coronavirus carriers stood at 11, down from 21 on the previous day. China has reported a total of 84,292 coronavirus cases by the end of July 30.

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First, they had no masks or tests, so they told the people these were not needed. Then when all neighbors went in lockdown, they had their “intelligent” lockdown. Now they say no masks, but they will “experiment” with mask requirement in busy places. Confuse people enough and they will turn their backs on you. And all this nonsense about wearing masks outside makes people do worse than turn their backs.

Meanwhile cases there are rising again. So much for the flat curve.

This “mask refusal” was based largely on a report from a Norwegian scientist, who as soon as he saw he was quoted, said: my report says no such thing! But it doesn’t really matter: as soon as masks became a political issue, they were lost.

Something I hadn’t seen before: “Mask-wearing may also prompt people to touch their face more frequently”. Haha, No, masks were supposed to PREVENT people from touching their faces, remember?

Netherlands Refuses To Mandate Mask Wearing In Public (ZH)

American public health experts, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, have struggled over the past couple of months to push a specific narrative on the public: Wearing a mask doesn’t so much protect you from being infected with SARS-CoV-2, but if you are infected, wearing a mask could stop you from passing the virus to someone else. The mainstream media has backed up these assertions with vague references to “science” and “research”, while a coalition of celebrities and progressive activists have tried to tar anybody who doubts this narrative – or, worse, refuses to wear a mask at all times outside their home – as a “denier”. Well, if everybody who is skeptical of the “masks save lives, period” is a “denier”, then how does one explain the Dutch government’s decision to refuse to mandate mask wearing (the only place where masks must be worn in the Netherlands is on public transit).

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the Dutch government had decided the day before that it would not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus because their effectiveness has not yet been proven. The decision was announced by the Netherlands Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark following a review by the country’s National Institute for Health. Following a resurgence in cases over the past week or so, the Dutch government has decided it will instead seek better adherence to social distancing rules. “Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks” Van Ark said.


[..] The Dutch government insists that it’s strictly following the advice of the experts in the so-called Outbreak Management Team, which doesn’t believe in the general use of masks. Dutch virologist Jaap van Dissel from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said Wednesday that masks can lead to a “false sense of security”. When wearing masks, people might not follow other social distancing rules like keeping their distance which also help prevent spread. Mask-wearing may also prompt people to touch their face more frequently, putting them at risk of accidentally infecting themselves while adjusting their masks.

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What good is it if they’re the only one?

Australia To Make Facebook, Google Pay For News In World First (R.)

Australia will force U.S. tech giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay Australian media outlets for news content in a landmark move to protect independent journalism that will be watched around the world. Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses. It’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape,” Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne. “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake.”


The move comes as the tech giants fend off calls around the world for greater regulation, and a day after Google and Facebook took a battering for alleged abuse of market power from U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing. Following an inquiry into the state of the media market and the power of the U.S. platforms, the Australian government late last year told Facebook and Google to negotiate a voluntary deal with media companies to use their content. Those talks went nowhere and Canberra now says if an agreement cannot reached through arbitration within 45 days the Australian Communications and Media Authority would set legally binding terms on behalf of the government. Google said the regulation ignores “billions of clicks” that it sends to Australian news publishers each year.

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What an insane story this is.

The Grifters, Chapter 1 – Kodak (Ben Hunt)

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that Kodak – a public company with less than $100 million in market cap, basically a pension fund with a famous brand name attached – would receive $765 million in “loans” from the US government to create a “pharmaceutical start-up” that over a period of 8 YEARS will start making pharmaceutical “supplies”. Whatever the hell that means. This $765 million in non-recourse, non-secured loans for pharmaceutical supply production, given to this micro-cap company with zero experience or expertise in pharmaceutical supply production, comes from the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a $60 billion piggy bank established by the Trump administration in 2019 to replace the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Yes, “international development” and “overseas investment”. The DFC is an institution that, per its mission statement and Congressional charter via the 2018 Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, is “focused on promoting inclusive economic growth in the world’s least developed countries.” I mean … I knew things were bad in Rochester, but I didn’t know they were that bad. To dust off an old Epsilon Theory catchphrase: They’re. Not. Even. Pretending. Anymore. Who is “they”? On the corporate-grift side, it’s Kodak Chairman and CEO Jim Continenza, who picked up about 3 million shares and cheap options over the past year. It’s Kodak board member George Karfunkel, of the private equity and banking Zyskind-Karfunkel family, with his 6.4 million shares. It’s Kodak board member Philippe Katz, who owns about 4.3 million shares through at least five shell companies.


Based on yesterday’s closing price of $33.20 for the stock, I figure Jim and George and Philippe have made about $400 million over the past 48 hours. The numbers looked even better when Kodak hit $53 earlier earlier in the day, but easy come, easy go.

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Goya, Red Bull, Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s Won’t Change Packaging On International Food Brands (JTN)

The popular U.S. grocery chain Trader Joe’s says it won’t retire the packaging name on some of its international products – including one called Trader José’s – amid a petition to change the names because of their “racist” connotation. “A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products,” Trader Joe’s said Friday on its website. “Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions. “We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is a need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”


Trader Joe had suggested earlier this month that it might change the name on some packaging, but apparently held firm amid the poll and a resurgence of so-called “cancel culture,” in which people and entities are being forced to apologize or amend statements or actions deemed racially or culturally insensitive. The Change.org petition was reportedly started by California high school senior Briones Bedell and as of Thursday had roughly 5,000 signatures. Among the other Trader Joe’s packaging names cited on the petition site are Trader Giotto’s and Trader Ming’s.

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“Never before has appeals court granted en banc hearing to a judge when neither party wanted it.”

Michael Flynn Case To Be Reheard By Full US Appeals Court (R.)

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday agreed to rehear arguments over whether the judge assigned to the criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, must grant a request to dismiss it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it would hold an oral argument in the politically charged criminal case on Aug. 11. In a 2-1 decision on June 24, a three-judge panel of the same court ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration and said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington had to grant the Justice Department’s motion to clear Flynn. Sullivan asked the full court to reconsider the three-judge panel’s ruling, saying the Justice Department’s dropping of the Flynn case was unprecedented and had to be carefully scrutinized.


Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn then switched lawyers to pursue a new scorched-earth tactic that accused the FBI of setting him up, and asked the judge to dismiss the charge. After the Justice Department took the highly unusual step of seeking to abandon the case against Flynn, Sullivan appointed a retired judge to argue against the Justice Department’s request. Sullivan, represented by his own lawyers, has said he cannot serve as a “rubber stamp” and must carefully review the facts before deciding on the request for dismissal. The D.C. Circuit panel disagreed in June, saying Sullivan was intruding on the Justice Department’s authority to decide which cases it pursues.

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Kamala Harris was about the least popular candidate in the Primaries, and one of the first to drop out. She won’t bring in any votes, she’ll take them away.

Kamala Harris’s Record On Antitrust & White-Collar Crime (TMI)

This week, a House subcommittee held a high-profile hearing interrogating the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google about their growing market power. But as more congressional Democrats scrutinize corporate America’s monopolistic business practices, their party may end up giving the vice-presidential nomination to a lawmaker who previously expressed misgivings about antitrust enforcement when it comes to Silicon Valley. California Sen. Kamala Harris’ meteoric rise from San Francisco District Attorney to Democratic presidential contender occurred in the span of just over a decade and today, insiders believe she tops Joe Biden’s shortlist for VP.

During the 2020 election, Harris’s record on criminal justice proved too steep a hurdle during her party’s presidential primary just a few short months ago. She was dogged by criticism that as California Attorney General, she had been soft on white-collar crime like mortgage fraud while pursuing low-level offenses like truancy with zeal. Questions also arose about her refusal to act on her staff’s memo that identified what it called “widespread misconduct” at a financial firm run by Steve Mnuchin, who donated to her Senate campaign.

[..] HuffPost procured 1,400 pages of emails which revealed how Harris’ relationships with tech giants had been mutually beneficial. For example, she’d participated in a promotional for Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book about women in power, “Lean In,” which increased her national profile. Sandberg would also become a donor to her 2016 Senate campaign. All told, that year, Harris raked in $214,000 in contributions from the industry. During her 2020 presidential run, Harris was a favorite of big tech, taking large sums from lobbyists for companies like Uber and Facebook. Donors from Apple, Amazon and Google’s parent company Alphabet were collectively among her top contributors.

Harris’ position on the size of tech giants did not substantially change during the campaign. When she was asked by the New York Times in January 2019 if companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google should be broken up, Harris responded: “I believe that the tech companies have got to be regulated in a way that we can ensure and the American consumer can be certain that their privacy is not being compromised.” Pressed by the interviewer to respond directly about the size of the companies, Harris continued to sidestep. “My first priority is going to be that we ensure that privacy is something that is intact and that consumers have the power to make decisions about what happens with their personal information and that it is not being made for them,” she said.

Read more …

And who likes Susan Rice? Anybody at all?

“Nominating Rice as Biden’s VP would virtually ensure her immunity, protecting her from investigation or prosecution during the campaign. [..] Crucially, it would also cut off the investigation at the rung below her, thereby insulating Obama and Biden.

What Does Susan Rice Bring to a Biden Ticket? (Lee Smith)

But there is another possible explanation that is worth considering, since it’s at least legally true: Putting Susan Rice on the ticket would protect both Biden and Obama (as well as Rice herself) from the ongoing investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the discredited FBI probe of Trump’s ties to Russia. As official reports hinting at the role Obama and Biden may have played in targeting Trump officials were declassified in the spring, Attorney General William Barr said in May that neither were in the sights of John Durham, the U.S. attorney in charge of the investigation. “I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

Since Barr’s May statement, it has come to light that Obama and Biden were more directly involved in the targeting of incoming Trump officials than was previously publicly known. In late June, FBI notes of January 2017 Oval Office meetings were declassified, showing that both men were not only keeping close watch on the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, but were advising it. A New York Times article from earlier this week promoting Rice’s audition obscured the evidence declassified in the last several months. It noted that Trump has accused Rice “of having participated in an Obama administration plot against” Flynn, and added that “no such effort has been documented.” Rice herself personally documented a meeting in which she, Obama, and Biden decided Flynn’s fate.

Presumably, Barr does not want America to take a step closer to resembling a third-world regime on his watch. And so, in order to avoid the appearance of a politicized investigation of senior Democrats in retaliation for what was in fact a politicized investigation of a Republican administration, neither Obama nor Biden are being investigated. But that does not mean that they are shielded if someone wants to save themselves by pointing further up the chain of command. And Rice left a paper trail that implicates herself, Obama, and Biden.

Nominating Rice as Biden’s VP would virtually ensure her immunity, protecting her from investigation or prosecution during the campaign. In February, Barr issued a memo stating that no investigation of a presidential or vice presidential candidate can be undertaken without his written approval. Because it is nearly inconceivable that Barr would expose himself to this type of scrutiny or risk compromising the election, Rice would be safe. Crucially, it would also cut off the investigation at the rung below her, thereby insulating Obama and Biden.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 282020
 
 July 28, 2020  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Migrant cotton picker’s children, live in government tent, Shafter Camp, CA 1938

 

Barr To Come Out Swinging In House Testimony (Solomon)
How Did Russia Get A Possible COVID19 Vaccine So Fast? (RT)
China Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, Including Two In Beijing (R.)
Mike Rowe Explains That Reality Is Going To Win With The Wuhan Virus (AT)
How The Eviction Crisis Across The US Will Look (CNBC)
The Insane Leading the Blind (Kunstler)
Assange Defence Team Concerned US is Seeking ‘Improper’ Delay of Case (Sp.)
Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities (G.)
Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK? (OffG)
CNN’s Stelter Breaches Confidentiality Agreement With Sandmann (Fox)
Emus Banned From Pub In Outback Australia Town (G.)
Facebook Vows To Break Up US Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful (Onion)

 

 

“Low” new cases for the world and US. US deaths also lower. We can hope and pray.

Biggest show in town is Bill Barr being grilled in the House. All conclusions have already been drawn in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest show in town today.

Barr To Come Out Swinging In House Testimony (Solomon)

Attorney General Bill Barr is planning a full-throated defense of his work inside the Justice Department and that of police nationwide when appearing before hostile House Democrats on Wednesday, condemning both the “bogus Russiagate scandal” and the senseless violence rocking U.S. cities. In prepared testimony released Tuesday evening on the eve of his House Judiciary Committee testimony, Barr declared that liberal activists’ “demonization of police is not only unfair and inconsistent with the principle that all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to our inner city communities.” “When a community turns on and pillories its own police, officers naturally become more risk averse and crime rates soar,” his prepared testimony states.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing that now in many of our major cities. This is a critical problem that exists apart from disagreements on other issues. The threat to black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police misconduct. The attorney general also lambastes liberal mayors for allowing serial violence to persist in their cities since George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and supporting efforts to undercut police department authorities and funding. “Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way — by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police,” he plans to tell lawmakers.

Later he adds, “To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time.” Barr also directly challenges Democrats’ claims he has been a lapdog for Trump, declaring the president has not interfered in his decisions. “My decisions on criminal matters before the Department have been my own, and they have been made because I believed they were right under the law and principles of justice,” he said. Barr suggested Democrats’ criticisms may be aimed at undercutting his efforts to investigate abuses in the now-discredited FBI investigation of Trump-Russia collusion.

“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions,” Barr is set to testify. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”

Read more …

No way Big Pharma will tolerate such a thing.

How Did Russia Get A Possible COVID19 Vaccine So Fast? (RT)

This month, Moscow’s famed Sechenov University announced that the first phase of clinical trials for a vaccine had been a success. Some 38 volunteers who took part in human trials have been released with little or no side effects recorded. Researchers will now push forward, testing the vaccine’s efficiency, and prepping it for registration with the Health Ministry. Other prototypes are to follow, with some about to finish phase-one trials – which usually demonstrates the new vaccine’s safety for use in humans. It’s fairly easy to grasp why Russia is so keen to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Having reported more than 811,000 cases and 13,249 fatalities, it is among the five countries worst affected by the epidemic.

But how did it make a vaccine so fast, given that the coronavirus – or its deadly, crown-shaped SARS-CoV-2 strain – wasn’t known to scientists before 2020? Russia has over 20 years of experience in developing technology for producing vaccines. This helped to create the unique Covid-19 vaccine in a very short period of time by normal drug-development standards, Vadim Tarasov, head of Sechenov University’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology, told RT Arabic in a comprehensive interview. “Nothing can be done from scratch,” he explained. Virologists at the Sechenov Institute and the Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology – another coronavirus research hub in Moscow – benefited from that “huge backlog” to decode the genome and structure of Covid-19 and quickly create a vaccine prototype.

The technology behind the Russian vaccine in question is based upon adenovirus, the common cold. Created artificially, the vaccine proteins replicate those of Covid-19 and trigger “an immune response similar to that caused by the coronavirus itself,” Tarasov revealed. In other words, getting immunized is slightly similar to having survived the coronavirus, but without its life-threatening risks. The vaccine, of course, won’t be a magical wand preventing everyone from getting sick. It may not stop the entire spread of coronavirus, but will make the symptoms much milder.

Read more …

Hong Kong over 100 several days in a row.

China Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, Including Two In Beijing (R.)

China reported 68 new coronavirus cases for July 27, up for the fourth consecutive day, including two in Beijing, the country’s health authority said on Tuesday. China is battling the most aggressive return of COVID-19 in months, driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang and a separate flare-up in the northeast. Of the new local infections for July 27, 57 were in Xinjiang, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. That brings the total number of cases in the region’s current outbreak to 235 since the first infection was reported on July 16. Xinjiang has yet to explain how patient zero, a 24-year-old woman who worked in a mall in its capital Urumqi, contracted the virus.


The northeastern province of Liaoning reported six new cases as of July 27. The current outbreak in Liaoning, which began on July 22, centred mostly on the port city of Dalian, east of Beijing. The first case in Dalian worked at a seafood processing company, and had not travelled out of the city in recent weeks. To contain the spread of the virus, Xinjiang and Dalian have tested millions of people for COVID-19, but the coronavirus is already on the move.

Read more …

Apparently many people experience panic and fear, induced by a faulty choice of media. I have no such thing. Maybe I should too. Rowe is mostly right. Get tested often, wear a mask where needed, and live your life. Rocket science it ain’t.

Mike Rowe Explains That Reality Is Going To Win With The Wuhan Virus (AT)

[..] for the last three months, I’ve been operating from the assumption that this is a year-round virus that’s eventually going to infect 100 million people and kill roughly 1/2 of one percent of those infected, conservatively. I’ve accepted those numbers. Unfortunately, millions of others have not. Many people have no sense of where this is headed, and I understand why. They’ve been betrayed by a hysterical media that insists on covering each new reported case as if it were the first case. Every headline today drips with dread, as the next doomed hotspot approaches the next “grim milestone.” And so, for a lot of people, everyday is Groundhogs Day. They’re paralyzed by the rising numbers because the numbers have no context. They don’t know where it will end.

But Dr. Osterholm says he does, and I’m persuaded that he’s correct. He might be wrong, and frankly, I hope he is, but either way, he’s presented us with a set of projections based on a logical analysis, and accepting those projections has allowed me to move past denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, and get on with my life with a better understanding of what the risks really are. Fact is, we the people can accept almost anything if we’re given the facts, and enough time to get evaluate the risk and make our own decisions. [..] don’t misunderstand. I’m not ignoring COVID, or downplaying COVID, or pretending the risks at hand aren’t real. Nor am I comparing COVID cases to car accidents – I’m simply comparing the fear of each to the other, and the fear that always accompanies uncertainty.

I don’t want to get this disease or give it to someone else, any more than I want to be in a car car wreck that injures someone else. But I’ve accepted certain things about the pandemic, and now, I’ve gotten used to the risk as I understand it. I take precautions. I get tested as often as I can, and if I can’t physically distance, I wear a mask – especially around higher risk people. Likewise, I wear a seatbelt, obey the speed limits, and check my mirrors before changing lanes.

Read more …

There’s an eviction stop in the new GOP proposal, far as I know.

How The Eviction Crisis Across The US Will Look (CNBC)

An unprecedented eviction crisis will soon hit the U.S. On Friday, the federal moratorium on evictions in properties with federally backed mortgages and for tenants who receive government-assisted housing expired. The Urban Institute estimated that provision covered nearly 30% of the country’s rental units. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that he would extend that moratorium, but these tenants are now unprotected from eviction. At the same time, some 25 million Americans will stop receiving the $600 weekly federal unemployment checks by July 31. And most of the statewide eviction moratoriums are winding down. The proceedings have resumed in more than 30 states. The moratorium in Hawaii and Illinois end this week, and in August, evictions will pick up in New York and Nevada.


By one estimate, some 40 million Americans could be evicted during the public health crisis. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. In 2016, there were 2.3 million evictions, Pollock said. “There could be that many evictions in August,” he said. Massive unemployment has left more than 40% of renter households at risk of eviction, according to a new analysis by global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross. Some states will be harder hit than others, Stout found. For example, nearly 60% of renters in West Virginia are at risk of eviction, compared to 22% in Vermont. People of color are especially vulnerable. While almost half of White tenants say they’re highly confident they can continue to pay their rent, just 26% of African-American tenants could say the same.

Read more …

But peacefully.

The Insane Leading the Blind (Kunstler)

In Louisville, Saturday, just after lunchtime, the self-styled Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC) was mustering for action and “inspecting firearms” (according to NFAC comandante Grand Master Jay) when one of said weapons accidently discharged and mowed down three NFAC warriors — nicely demonstrating the hazards of fucking around with loaded weapons. In Austin Saturday night, one feckless BLM mob marcher name of Garrett Foster brought his AK-47 to the street party. When he pointed it at a motorist trapped by the crowd, he got blown away to that great struggle session in the sky, the surprise of his life, I’m sure. In Portland, OR, police found a bag of loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails in the nearby park that serves as the rioters’ marshaling yard. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler did not attend the evening’s frolics at the sore beset federal courthouse, having successfully subjected himself to ritual humiliation himself a few nights earlier. After midnight Sunday, police declared the Antifa actions “a riot” and made a few arrests.


Up Seattle way, a federal judge struck down the city council’s order against police using tear gas and pepper spray on rioters just in time for another weekend of rioting. SPD Chief Carmen Best declared, “In the spirit of offering trust and full transparency, I want to advise you that SPD officers will be carrying pepper spray and blast balls today, as would be typical for events that carry potential to include violence.” Hours later, after Antifas smashed the windows of ground-floor businesses, set fire to a construction site, and trashed the SPD’s East Precinct building, pepper spray and blast balls were deployed and forty-five of the mob were arrested (on rioting, assault, and other charges), while twenty-one SPD officers were injured. Down in LA, Antifas broke into the federal Bureau of Prisons Detention Center. In Richmond, VA, rioters set fire to a city dump truck used as a barrier to protect a police station.

Read more …

Next hearing August 14. “..despite its decade-long-head-start, the prosecution is still unable to build a coherent and credible case.”

Assange Defence Team Concerned US is Seeking ‘Improper’ Delay of Case (Sp.)

Julian Assange’s substantive extradition hearings are due to restart on 7 September at the Old Bailey, where it will be decided whether or not he should be sent the US to face up to 175 years in prison. Julian Assange’s defence team informed the court on 27 July 2020 that they fear Donald Trump’s administration may be seeking to delay the substantive extradition hearings until after the US elections in November 2020. Ed Fitzgerald QC attended the hearing in person for the first time since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions. He told Judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that he is “concerned at a fresh [indictment] being brought [by the US government] at this stage, with the potential consequence to de-rail the proceedings”.

Mr Fitzgerald expressed his worry that the US attorney general is “doing this for political purposes” and suspected there is “some manipulation or some political motivation” on the part of the US authorities, something which he said would be wholly “improper”. The judge refused to discuss the matter further because the prosecution has, to date, failed to formally submit the superseding indictment upon the court. Joel Smith, the barrister who attended the hearing on behalf of the prosecution, told the court that he would “not able to commit to any time table” in terms of the second superseding indictment being formally served on the court and that it would “have to go through the usual channels” before he could say any more.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, followed the hearing remotely from Iceland. He told Sputnik that “the political nature of the entire thing is becoming more and more clear to everybody”. He described as “absolutely unacceptable” the fact that the US administration has failed to serve the second superseding indictment onto the court. “We were at least expecting this to be served in the court today and the fact that the judge has only heard of it through email exchange from the defence is of course outrageous”, Mr Hrafnsson continued. “The ‘new’ superseding indictment actually contains nothing new. All the alleged events have been known to the prosecution for years. It contains no new charges. What’s really happening here is that despite its decade-long-head-start, the prosecution is still unable to build a coherent and credible case.”, Mr Hrafnsson also said.

[..] Judge Baraitser listed the next call-over hearing for 14 August and confirmed that the second part of Julian Assange’s substantive extradition hearings should begin on 7 September at the Old Bailey. Judge Baraitser said she expected the entire process to last three weeks though Mr Fitzgerald reminded her that the defence had previously stated that they would likely require a fourth week given the latest developments in the case.

Read more …

Climate and racism at the same time. Sounds very convenient. So who else is funding the police?

Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities (G.)

Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation. Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US. The investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its research database project LittleSis, details how police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo.

Police foundations are industry groups that provide substantial funds to local departments, yet, as nonprofits, avoid much public scrutiny. The investigation details how firms linked to fossil fuels also sponsor events and galas that celebrate the police, while some have senior staff serving as directors of police foundations. The report portrays the fossil fuel industry as a common enemy in the struggle for racial and environmental justice. “Many powerful companies that drive environmental injustice are also backers of the same police departments that tyrannize the very communities these corporate actors pollute,” it states.

[..] Carroll Muffett, the president of the Center for International Environmental Law, said: “This report sheds a harsh light on the ways police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisis.” A spokeswoman for Chevron said the firm is a “good neighbor” wherever it operates. “Across the world, Chevron invests millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours on numerous programs and partnerships, helping communities improve their lives, achieve their aspirations and meet their full potential.”

Read more …

“It is the industry that does the testing.”

Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK? (OffG)

The British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and are thus engaging in criminal behaviour. That’s the message put forward in a new report written by environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason and sent to the UK Environment Agency. It follows her January 2019 open letter to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer CropScience, where she made it clear to him that she considers Bayer CropScience and Monsanto criminal corporations. Her letter to Baumann outlined a cocktail of corporate duplicity, cover-ups and criminality which the public and the environment are paying the price for, not least in terms of the effects of glyphosate. Later in 2019, Mason wrote to Bayer Crop Science shareholders, appealing to them to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer.

Mason outlined with supporting evidence how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. She argued that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe. In February 2020, Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit – the public and the press are being poisoned by pesticides’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards.

In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels – if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime. In other words, he wants to ditch EU regulations. Mason pondered just who could be pulling Johnson’s strings. A big clue came in February 2019 at a Brexit meeting on the UK chemicals sector where UK regulators and senior officials from government departments listened to the priorities of Bayer Crop Science. During the meeting (Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Priorities for UK chemicals sector – challenges, opportunities and the future for regulation post-Brexit), Janet Williams, head of regulatory science at Bayer Crop Science Division, made the priorities for agricultural chemical manufacturers known.

Dave Bench was also a speaker. Bench is a senior scientist at the UK Chemicals, Health and Safety Executive and director of the agency’s EU exit plan and has previously stated that the regulatory system for pesticides is robust and balances the risks of pesticides against the benefits to society. In an open letter to Bench, Mason responded: “That statement is rubbish. It is for the benefit of the agrochemical industry. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides, including over children and babies, without warning.”

Read more …

Pending suits vs “ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, NPR, Slate, The Hill, and Gannett, which owns the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as miscellaneous other small outfits”.

CNN’s Stelter Breaches Confidentiality Agreement With Sandmann (Fox)

CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter may have landed himself in hot water, according to the attorney of Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann. Last week, Sandmann announced that The Washington Post settled the $250 million defamation lawsuit he filed over its botched coverage of a viral confrontation with a Native American elder that had portrayed the Kentucky teen as the aggressor. This followed the multi-million dollar settlement CNN made with the teenager back in January. However, Sandmann’s attorney Lin Wood spotted a retweet from Stelter of a tweet written by attorney Mark Zaid, who speculated about how much money the teen walked away with from the settlement.

“Those with zero legal experience (as far as I can tell) should not be conjecturing on lawsuits they know nothing about. What kind of journalism is that?” Zaid asked. “I’ve litigated defamation cases. [Sandmann] was undoubtedly paid nuisance value settlement & nothing more.” Wood accused the “Reliable Sources” host of breaching his network’s own confidentiality agreement with his client. “This retweet by @brianstelter may have cost him his job at @CNN. It is called breach of confidentiality agreement. Brian Stelter is a liar. I know how to deal with liars,” Wood tweeted with a screenshot of Stelter’s retweet. Sandmann knocked the media guru, tweeting “Brian Stelter just can’t learn some basic lessons over at CNN.”

“I can’t decide if it’s worse to be Brian Stelter or believe Brian Stelter. He was never in any court hearing or meeting I was. So why does he act like he knows anything?” Sandmann added. CNN analyst Asha Rangappa appeared to agree with Zaid as well. “I’d guess $25K to go away,” Rangappa wrote. Responding to Rangappa’s tweet, Wood wrote “Heads are going to roll at CNN or @N1ckSandmann is going to filing another lawsuit & reveal truth.” Wood leveled a similar charge against Washington Post reporter Dan Zak, who suggested on Friday that the Post settled “for a small amount… in order to avoid a more expensive trial,” later adding that it’s the “American way.”

Read more …

This is the sort of indepth quality reporting we want to see from the Guardian. They suck at everything else anyway.

Emus Banned From Pub In Outback Australia Town (G.)

It can’t be easy being an emu in outback Australia at the best of times what with the heat and the perennial droughts. But to be banned from your local pub for bad behaviour must now be added to the list of grievances inflicted upon the big birds. Such is the problem Kevin and Carol – two emus in Yaraka, south of Longreach in western Queensland – now face after an edict was passed down by the only hotel in town last week. Gerry Gimblett, who owns the Yaraka Hotel with her husband Chris, told Guardian Australia they were left with no other option after the birds’ recent “bad behaviour”. “They’ve been stealing things from the guests, especially their food. They’d stick their heads in and pinch toast out of the toaster,” Gimblett explained.

“But the main reason we’ve banned them is their droppings. They’re enormous, very large and very smelly, and they created great stains,” she said. Gimblett, who took over the pub after she retired as a teacher, installed a barrier – a piece of rope – across the hotel’s entrances last week after the “much-loved” emus began entering the pub and disrupting patrons. Gimblett said the emus had become a tourist attraction after several eggs were hatched at the end of 2018, and while at one point there were nine emus in town, most had wandered away from town or been hit in accidents. Just two large emus remain, Kevin and Carol, who circle the area around the pub.


[..] Despite the emu population shrinking to just two, Gimblett said they remained noticeable given there “are only about 16 other” human residents in Yaraka, which is about a 13-hour drive west of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane. “We love them as part of the Yaraka community, but they’re not welcome inside any more.”

Read more …

“Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook.”

Facebook Vows To Break Up US Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful (Onion)

In an effort to curtail the organization’s outsized influence, Facebook announced Monday that it would be implementing new steps to ensure the breakup of the U.S. government before it becomes too powerful. “It’s long past time for us to take concrete actions against this behemoth of governance that has gone essentially unchecked since its inception,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, noting that while the governing body may have begun with good intentions, its history showed a culture of recklessness and a dangerous disregard for the consequences of its decisions. “Unfortunately, those at the top have been repeatedly contemptuous of the very idea of accountability or reform, and our only remaining course is to separate the government into smaller chunks to prevent it from forming an even stronger monopoly over the public.” Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 262020
 


Elaine de Kooning Fairfield Porter #1 1954

 

 

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the first half of 2020 has brought, among many other things, renewed calls for the demise of the US dollar. It’s been pretty much a non-stop call for over a decade now, and longer. But this time, like all previous ones, I’m thinking: I don’t see it. I guess my first question is always: please explain why the dollar would collapse before the euro does.

For one thing, the dollar would have to collapse/default against one or more “entities”. The dollar is not like one of those highrises that collapse upon themselves. It will have to default or collapse against something(s) else. Since it is the world reserve currency, that means there would have to be a replacement reserve currency. Yes, that could also be for example gold or SDR’s, or even a basket of currencies, and something like that may happen eventually, but it doesn’t appear in the cards in the short run.

There are really only two candidates for the role, and neither looks at all fit to play it. The euro may have some ambitions in that direction, but it has far too many problems still. The yuan/renminbi certainly has such ambitions, but the Communist party refuses to let it get on stage to show what it’s got. As I recently wrote:

 

The main sticking point for Beijing is a conundrum it cannot solve. The CCP wants to have BOTH a global currency AND total control over that currency. It will have to choose between the two, and cannot make up its mind. So it pretends it doesn’t have to choose. Sure, there has been some advancement for the yuan, but I bet most of that is on the back of the Belt and Road (BRI), and that will turn out to be one of the main victims of the coronavirus. The BRI is China’s very clever way of exporting its overproduction, but potential buyers have other things on their mind today.


Meanwhile, even with that, the yuan is used in only 1.8% of cross-currency payments. [..] The sudden, and rushed, take-over of Hong Kong with the new security law will not help China’s plans to be accepted internationally. [..] The world’s large investors will not put their money into something that Xi Jinping can declare devalued by 50% on a rainy morning when he sees fit. He will have to cede that kind of control.

The euro has made some gains vs the USD recently, going from 1.07 to 1.16 or so, but that means very little once you look at the broader picture. Moreover, the reason the financial press provides for -much of- those gains, which is that the EU supposedly showed “unity” in its recent Recovery Fund talks, is bollocks.

If it showed one thing, it was a lack of unity. That’s why these were the longest talks they ever had. And if this had not been Angela Merkel’s last hurrah, they might not have agreed at all. They paid off the Frugal Four to the tune of hundreds of millions, and that’s how they got a deal. Horse traders.

A simple screenshot from Bloomberg of the USD vs EUR over the last five years makes clear why the recent changes are no big deal. (All BBG screenshots are from July 24 just before 10 AM EDT and all cover a 5 year period.)

 

 

A reserve currency has two roles: being the currency that most international trade is conducted in, and -closely related- being the currency that countries hold most as foreign exchange (FX) reserves. After WWII, the US dollar became the most important currency for trade more or less by default, a position that it greatly strengthened with the petrodollar.

A 2015 SWIFT paper provides details about the US dollar’s share of international trade:

The US dollar prevails as the dominant international trade currency, with a 51.9% share of the value of international currency usage in 2014. The euro is second, with a 30.5% share of the total value. The British pound is third, with a 5.4% share of the total value, followed by Asian currencies such as the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.

That’s from five years ago, but things won’t have changed much. The system is complex and inert, it has a very strong resistance against large and sudden changes. (Do note that the euro’s share of international trade is substantially skewed because it includes payments between countries that use the euro as their currency, plus those EU countries that don’t -yet-). Single market, international trade.

And then there’s the dollar’s FX role.

In September 2019, Eswar Prasad at Brookings reported that the dollar’s share of global FX reserves remains around 65%.

The drop from 66 percent in 2015 to 62 percent in 2018, is probably a statistical artifact related to changes in the reporting of reserves. Compared with 2007, however, the dollar’s share of global FX reserves has declined by 2 percentage points while the euro’s share is down 6 percentage points. Over this period, the Japanese yen’s share has risen by 2 percentage points, while other less prominent reserve currencies have increased their total share by 4 percentage points. The renminbi, which was not an official reserve currency in 2007, now accounts for 2 percent of global FX reserves. [..] .. the euro has stumbled, the renminbi has stalled, and dollar supremacy remains unchallenged.

[..] In July 2019, China’s total official reserve assets amounted to just over $3.2 trillion, of which $3.1 trillion (97 percent of the total) was held in the form of FX reserves. Gold holdings amounted to about $89 billion [..] Coming amid rising trade tensions with the U.S., the 5 percent increase in China’s gold stock and the 24 percent increase in the value of its official gold holdings during 2019 have been interpreted as a sign of China’s attempting to diversify its reserve holdings away from U.S. dollars.

If this interpretation was indeed correct, China has a long way to go. Gold now accounts for 3 percent of China’s gross international reserves. From a global financial market perspective, and especially relative to its overall international reserves, the $18 billion increase in the value of China’s gold reserves during 2019 is trivial; it barely registers as a shift in the composition of China’s overall reserves.

Assuming that China still holds 58 percent of its FX reserves in dollar-denominated assets, the value of those assets in July 2019 was $1.8 trillion. So, the value of its gold reserves, $94 billion, is a mere one twentieth of that of China’s dollar-denominated reserves.

With the euro and yuan out of the way as potential reserve currency candidates, we can take a look at gold. Senior commenter Dr.D at the Automatic Earth recently wrote: “As advertised, the US$ is defaulting. What? Where? US$ has been cut in half compared to Silver in 3 months. US$ has been cut in half compared to BTC in 3 months. US$ has been cut in half compared to Gold in 4 years.

Like many people talking about a USD demise, perhaps that’s too much of a dollar-centric view and conclusion. Surely gold and silver can rise vs the USD without announcing an imminent collapse of the latter. And since precious metals tend to go up in times of uncertainty, and COVID has brought shovels full of just that, you would expect them to rise.

Therefore you would have to also look at how they do vs for example the euro, before concluding anything. Note: I didn’t include Bitcoin because it’s too new and volatile. Makes me think of the Lindy Effect, often cited by Nassim Taleb, the idea that the older something is, the longer it’s likely to be around in the future.

Here are a few more Bloomberg screenshots. And yes, gold has done well vs the USD in, say, the past two years, no doubt.

 

 

But gold has pretty much followed the exact same pattern vs the euro:

 

 

Silver has done even better, more recently, vs the USD, though compared to where it was in 2016 it’s not that big a step (barely more than 10%):

 

 

And the pattern of silver vs the euro is so similar it’s almost eery.

 

 

I don’t see anything there that would make me think the dollar is collapsing, no more than the euro is. What I see is gold and silver rising. People move into precious metals, perceived as safe havens; they always do when the world is in turmoil. And don’t forget there are trillions in additional recent central bank money sloshing around that have to move somewhere.

As for the changes of the USD vs the euro: we’ve already seen that they are not exceptional. Losing a few percent vs the euro will not collapse the dollar.

Also, there’s something missing in the discussion as far as I’ve seen: the option that it’s the US itself that wants a lower dollar at this point in time, and actively works to get it lower. A strong dollar works for a strong economy, but not for one weakened by a pandemic and an acrimonious political climate.

But the US has borrowed so much money!, you say. Yes, but so have Europe, and Japan, and China, everyone has who could.

 

A little more about gold, since some are clamoring for a return to the gold standard. Which is not likely, because too many parties would resist, either for ideological or practical reasons. But say you would consider it, then you would as one of the first things you do, look at gold reserves. Here are the top ten gold holding countries per March 2020, as assembled by TradingEconomics.com:

 

 

Note: Britain is not there, because “Between 1999 and 2002 the Treasury sold 401 tonnes of gold – out of its 715-tonne holding – at an average price of $275 an ounce, generating about $3.5bn during the period.” (BBC). Gold is at $1,900 today. Nuff said.

The US gold reserves are so large it would appear to give them an unfair advantage if a gold standard were considered. Same as they have in the current set-up. Then again, if you insert population numbers into the equation, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, even the Netherlands, have more in relative terms. Question is: where does that leave all the others?

Long story short: I don’t see a US dollar default or collapse in the near future. But by all means enlighten me.

 

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the interaction you have with us.

Thank you.

 

 

It’s very bad luck to draw the line
On the night before the world ends
We can draw the line some other time

X – Some other time

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 072020
 


Unknown No Dog Biscuits Today 1939

 

China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant (Nikkei)
China Shares Rally, Asian Stocks Take A Breather (R.)
New Security Law Starts To Break Down Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Economy (R.)
TikTok Says It Will Exit Hong Kong Market Within Days (R.)
China Slams US As It Joins Global Arms Trade Treaty At UN (R.)
US Restrictions Drove Deutsche Telekom And Huawei Closer Together (Pol.eu)
US To Force Out Foreign Students Taking Classes Fully Online (R.)
South Korean COVID-19 patient Recovering After Double Lung Transplant (R.)
Hospitalizations Jump 50% In California As Coronavirus Infections Soar (R.)
Six Week Lockdown For Melbourne As Record 191 New Cases Reported (Conv.)
Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says Lungs ‘Clean’ After Coronavirus Test (R.)
US Supreme Court Curbs ‘Faithless Electors’ In Presidential Voting (R.)
California Short on Firefighters as Prison “Slaves” Under Lockdown (MPN)
Assange Lawyer Named French Justice Minister (AAP)

 

 

And all of a sudden (well, not that sudden) there’s so much stuff about China. I started off today reading an article in Nikkei entitled “China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant”, and I thought: that is absolute nonsense. The idea seems to be that Shanghai would take Hong Kong’s place, as the renminbi (yuan) turns into a global currency.

That’s just wishful thinking. Or maybe a reaction to America’s new attitude towards China. The main sticking point for Beijing is a conundrum it cannot solve. The CCP wants to have BOTH a global currency AND total control over that currency. It will have to choose between the two, and cannot make up its mind. So it pretends it does’t have to choose.

Sure, there has been some advancement for the yuan, but I bet most of that is on the back of the Belt and Road (BRI), and that will turn out to be one of the main victims of the coronavirus. The BRI is China’s very clever way of exporting its overproduction, but potential buyers have other things on their mind today.

Meanwhile, even with that, the yuan is used in only 1.8% of cross-currency payments. So the claim that the yuan is used in 30% of China’s trade needs to be taken with a huge salt shaker.

And yes, it may be true that the yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments, but that’s only because there is no competition for the USD, and what competition does exist come from the euro.

The sudden, and rushed, take-over of Hong Kong with the new security law will not help China’s plans to be accepted internationally. US big tech is withdrawing, and even some Chinese tech is moving away.

The world’s large investors will not put their money into something that Xi Jinping can declare devalued by 50% on a rainy morning when he sees fit. He will have to cede that kind of control.

And reading through all this, why am I getting the feeling that China does not feel well, that its leaders perhaps have fallen victim to bouts of insecurity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can tell someone’s case for the mythical global yuan is not serious when they write “the yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments” rather than “the yuan accounts for about 1.8% of cross-currency payments..”

China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant (Nikkei)

Many have claimed that the national security law China has imposed on Hong Kong will be the death of the city, stifling free speech and driving away businesses. But 10 years ago, China made Hong Kong part of a plan which, even more certainly than the national security law, is rendering the city redundant. For years, Hong Kong has been the entrepot for China’s trade in the region — it accounts for 6.3% of China’s total trade — and a leading international financial center. It has provided the infrastructure for the West to invest in mainland China: about two-thirds of foreign direct investment into and from there goes through Hong Kong.

In 2010, China made Hong Kong a critical component of its policy aimed at developing the yuan as an international currency that non-Chinese residents could hold as an asset or use to pay for international transactions. Before 2010, the yuan had almost no international use or circulation, with less than 1% of China’s trade settled in it. The Chinese monetary authorities had to balance the need to have an international currency and the risk of allowing capital to flow freely in and out of the domestic market. In principle, international currencies need to be fully convertible, but for China this was not a viable route.

Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” principle provided the solution to China’s conundrum and has been pivotal to the emergence of yuan-led finance, underpinning rising demand and facilitating the yuan business. Hong Kong’s judicial institutions, independent from mainland China, were at the heart of its role as a bridge between the Chinese planned economy and the Western market economy. The move worked, and although the international use of the Chinese currency remains limited, it has undergone significant growth. The yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments and is used for settling approximately 30% of China’s trade. Yuan-denominated financial instruments are used more in projects that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Yuan activities now account for a large chunk of Hong Kong’s trading as an international financial center, according to estimates by market participants. But rather than making Hong Kong stronger, this increases its dependence on Beijing — and hence its vulnerability. By becoming part of the yuan strategy, a policy-led initiative where Chinese policy makers set the pace and guide the market, Hong Kong has been following Beijing’s lead. A bigger, but related, problem for Hong Kong is that by strengthening the yuan trade, it is also strengthening one of its mainland rivals and making itself less important. Around the time it launched its yuan policy, China also put in place a plan to develop Shanghai as its top international financial center by 2020. According to the latest Global Financial Centres Index, Hong Kong at sixth now ranks lower than Shanghai at fourth. Ten years ago Hong Kong was the most important financial center in Asia and in third place globally after London and New York, while Shanghai ranked 11th.

Read more …

Just yesterday, Beijing talked about “fostering a healthy bull market”. And what the Fed can do, the PBOC can too. Buy buy buy.

China Shares Rally, Asian Stocks Take A Breather (R.)

The Chinese share market extended its positive run on Tuesday, in line with the mainland government’s push for a stronger market, while the rest of the region turned cautious on equities. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan see-sawed during the local session and was down 0.2%, after it briefly traded in positive territory. The negative performance on Tuesday came after the index rose 7% which took it to a 4-1/2 month high in the past five trading sessions. Japan’s Nikkei gave up 0.7% while U.S. stock futures shed 0.25% in Asia after hefty gains on Monday in the wake of surging Chinese shares.

In China, Shanghai’s blue chip CSI300 index and Shenzhen shares, which had gained more than 13% in the past five sessions, rose a further 1.5%, led by rises in the tech sector. Ample Finance Group director Alex Wong said while Chinese market sentiment was positive, investors remained cautious to the risk of that being short-lived. “The mood is still quite strong…and I think people will be willing to hold on for a while as we absorb some of the positive news in the world,” Wong told Reuters in Hong Kong. Analysts said jawboning by the Chinese government through a state-sponsored journal on the importance of “fostering a healthy bull market” published on Monday had spurred the buying binge in mainland Chinese shares.

The current China rally has echoes of the past, especially during 2007 and in the buying binge that followed the crash in 2015 that was largely driven by Chinese retail investors. “Shades of John F. Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ inauguration speech here and as close as you might get to a Chinese government ‘put’ as anything the Fed has done to date vis-à-vis the U.S. stock (and credit) markets,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB, in a research note.

Read more …

The rich can leave if they want to. The rest cannot.

New Security Law Starts To Break Down Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Economy (R.)

As soon as Hong Kong’s new national security law came into force last week, Ivan Ng removed all the protest-themed paintings, posters and flags from the list of items for sale at his Onestep Printing shop. Sandra Leung at Wefund.hk, which sells protest-themed artwork and accessories, said she has suspended sales of protective gear worn by protesters, flags with the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong,” and other items carrying popular chants. Jeffrey Cheong, owner of Hair Guys Salon, said he closed his shop down for a few days last week to remove pro-democracy decorations. Ng, Leung and Cheong are three of the 4,500 or so small businesses in Hong Kong’s “yellow economy,” which supports pro-democracy protesters and vice versa. That circle of support is showing signs of weakening in the face of the new law.

“We took down all the protest-related products right after the law was implemented, because the law doesn’t have very clear boundaries of (what constitutes) subversion,” Ng said. In the past week, he said his overall sales are down as much as 80%. Leung said she had withdrawn items for sale she described as “sensitive,” such as gas masks used by protesters and items with anti-police slogans. The new law prohibits what China describes broadly as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison for offenders. It came into force late last Tuesday, about an hour before the 23rd anniversary of China taking back control of the former British colony.

The Hong Kong government went further on Friday, declaring the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” illegal. Public libraries have started to review books written by pro-democracy activists to see whether they violate the new law. Hong Kong and Beijing authorities insist the city retains a “high degree of autonomy” but critics say the law effectively brings Hong Kong under the control of China’s Communist Party and violates China’s promise to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedom for 50 years after the 1997 handover. Some businesses told local media they had been visited by the police who warned them that pro-democracy decorations were against the new law.

Read more …

Which side of The Great Firewall do you want to be on?

TikTok Says It Will Exit Hong Kong Market Within Days (R.)

TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday, as other technology companies including Facebook suspend processing government requests for user data in the region. The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city. “In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesman said in response to a Reuters question about its commitment to the market. The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China.


TikTok has also said previously that it would not comply with any requests made by the Chinese government to censor content or for access to TikTok’s user data, nor has it ever been asked to do so. The Hong Kong region is a small, loss-making market for the company, one source familiar with the matter said. Last August, TikTok reported it had attracted 150,000 users in Hong Kong. Globally, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times through the Apple and Google app stores after the first quarter this year, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. The source said the move was made because it was not clear if Hong Kong would now fall entirely under Beijing’s jurisdiction in light of the new law.

Read more …

Easy pickings.

China Slams US As It Joins Global Arms Trade Treaty At UN (R.)

China on Monday joined a global arms trade treaty spurned by the United States, taking a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration by accusing it of bullying, unilateralism and undermining efforts to combat global challenges. China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, said he had deposited China’s instrument of accession to the treaty, which regulates a $70 billion global cross-border trade in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. China, which announced its plans in September, becomes the 107th party to the pact, approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2013. Then-U.S. President Barack Obama signed it, but it was opposed by the National Rifle Association and never ratified by the U.S. Senate.


Trump said in April last year that he intended to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory. In July 2019, the United States told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Washington did not intend to become a party to the treaty and that it had no legal obligations from its 2013 signature. Without naming the United States, but amid escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington, Zhang said in a statement that a “certain country … walked away from international commitments, and launched acts of unilateralism and bullying.” [..] China was the fifth-largest global arms exporter between 2014 and 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, although China itself does not publish figures for how many arms it exports.

Read more …

A comment on Twitter about an article in German in Handelsblatt:

”Deutsche Telekom has doubled down on Huawei even as concerns rose, including discussions w/Chinese firm about how to get around US sanctions & “tactical” announcements to get T-Mobile/Sprint deal in US approved..”

US Restrictions Drove Deutsche Telekom And Huawei Closer Together (Pol.eu)

Global telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom strengthened its strategic partnership with Huawei last year despite growing defiance toward the dominant Chinese 5G vendor, documents reviewed by POLITICO show. The internal company records describe how Deutsche Telekom and Huawei agreed on a deal in mid-2019 that said the Chinese supplier would take measures to avoid supply chain disruption caused by U.S. measures, as well as cover the costs of potential damages and delays. The deal was struck just weeks before the U.S. administration imposed restrictions on businesses dealing with the Chinese firm in May 2019 — a milestone for Washington’s efforts to push back against Huawei’s dominance on 5G equipment.

It laid the groundwork for a partnership between the two companies for the early rollout of 5G networks in Europe, despite national lawmakers’ efforts in key markets like Germany, the Netherlands and Poland to reduce the use of Chinese equipment. In the months after the deal, the companies underlined mutual commitments to treat each other in preferential ways. Deutsche Telekom executives described Huawei repeatedly as a “strategic partner” that is “key for our 5G plans,” according to the internal documents. On Huawei’s end, Deutsche Telekom was described as a “preferred customer” for its 5G equipment. Deutsche Telekom has repeatedly declined in the past to disclose how much of its networks consist of Huawei equipment.

But in its internal communication, it has likened the scenario of not being able to use Huawei in its broader 5G rollout to “armageddon,” a recent report in German paper Handelsblatt showed. [..] At the core of the mutual agreement is a commitment by Huawei to shoulder the burdens and costs of the U.S. restrictions that have bogged down the Chinese vendor in the past year. “This pledge by Huawei to pay for any disruption adds to that incentive to stick with Huawei,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute, calling it a “care-free package” offered to Deutsche Telekom.

Read more …

Targeting China once more?!

US To Force Out Foreign Students Taking Classes Fully Online (R.)

Foreign students must leave the United States if their school’s classes this fall will be taught completely online or transfer to another school with in-person instruction, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced on Monday. It was not immediately clear how many student visa holders would be affected by the move, but foreign students are a key source of revenue for many U.S. universities as they often pay full tuition. ICE said it would not allow holders of student visas to remain in the country if their school was fully online for the fall. Those students must transfer or leave the country, or they potentially face deportation proceedings, according to the announcement.


Colleges and universities have begun to announce plans for the fall 2020 semester amid the continued coronavirus pandemic. Harvard University on Monday announced it would conduct course instruction online for the 2020-2021 academic year. The ICE guidance applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in fiscal 2019, according to the agency’s data. The guidance does not affect students taking classes in person. It also does not affect F-1 students taking a partial online course-load, as long as their university certifies the student’s instruction is not completely digital. M-1 vocational program students and F-1 English language training program students will not be allowed to take any classes online.

Read more …

Pretty amazing story. But scary too.

South Korean COVID-19 patient Recovering After Double Lung Transplant (R.)

After a record 112 days on a specialised life-support system, a South Korean COVID-19 patient is recovering from double lung transplant surgery, doctors say, in only the ninth such procedure worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak began. The 50-year-old woman was diagnosed with the disease and hospitalised in late February and then spent 16 weeks on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support, which involves circulating a patient’s blood through a machine that adds oxygen to red blood cells. That’s the longest that any COVID-19 patient in the world has spent on ECMO support, her doctors said.

Various drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, the HIV treatment Kaletra and steroids failed to stop her pulmonary fibrosis – scarring in the lungs – from worsening, said Dr Park Sung-hoon, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital. That left few options other than a lung transplant. “The probability of success in lung transplants on ECMO patients is 50%, and fortunately, our patient was well prepared before the surgery when we found the donor,” said Dr Kim Hyoung-soo, director of the hospital’s ECMO programme, who was in charge of the surgery.

The patient declined to be identified or interviewed. The doctors who conducted the eight-hour surgery described her destroyed lungs as hard like rock. She had an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) when she came to hospital, Park said, and could not live without the ECMO machine’s help. ECMO is typically used on patients who need more help than ventilators can provide, and who are considered to have a 90% chance of dying. Half of patients recover in two to three weeks on ECMO, and a lung transplant is considered for those who don’t, Kim said.

Read more …

Stay home.

Hospitalizations Jump 50% In California As Coronavirus Infections Soar (R.)

New coronavirus cases soared in California over the July Fourth weekend, stressing some hospital systems and leading to the temporary closure of the state capitol building in Sacramento for deep cleaning, officials said on Monday. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased by 50% over the past two weeks to about 5,800, Governor Gavin Newsom said at a briefing. About a third of those hospitalized were in Los Angeles County, state and local records showed, with about 630 confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients requiring intensive care. And 25% of the hospitalizations in the county in July were among patients aged 18 to 40, health officials said, as new cases increasingly hit a younger population that may have been lax about safety precautions in recent weeks.


Farther north, nearly 1,400 inmates at San Quentin State Prison have been sickened by the virus, putting pressure on hospitals in Marin County, where the facility is located, Newsom said. All told, 271,684 Californians have tested positive for the virus, including 11,529 in the past 24 hours, state records show. About 6,300 have died. Determined to slow the spread of the disease over the holiday weekend, state alcohol regulators visited nearly 6,000 bars and restaurants to make sure they were complying with new rules banning indoor dining and closing bars that do not serve food, Newsom said.

Read more …

Turns out the 2nd wave concerns lockdowns.

Six Week Lockdown For Melbourne As Record 191 New Cases Reported (Conv.)

The Victorian government will lock down all metropolitan Melbourne for six weeks from Wednesday night, as a new wave of the coronavirus takes hold in the city. The lockdown will also cover the Mitchell Shire, north of Melbourne, which includes the towns of Broadford, Seymour, Kilmore, Tallarook, Pyalong and Wallan. Under the restrictions, people will only be able to leave their home to shop for essential goods and services, for care and compassionate reasons, exercise, and for work and study if it cannot be conducted from home. The dramatic action comes as the Victoria-NSW border closes on Tuesday night, amid some chaos in Albury-Wodonga, and follows the lockdown of suburbs in 12 Melbourne postcode areas, and the “lock in” of 3,000 residents in nine community housing towers.

Read more …

Brazilian media reports he tested positive.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says Lungs ‘Clean’ After Coronavirus Test (R.)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus and his lungs were “clean,” after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease. Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday. CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested.


“I can’t get very close,” he said in comments recorded by Foco do Brasil, a pro-government YouTube channel. “I came from the hospital. I underwent a lung scan. The lung’s clean.” The president’s office said in a statement that the president is at his home and is “in good health.” [..] Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter that Todd Chapman, the ambassador, had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, who is a federal congressman. The ambassador has no symptoms, but will undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said.

Read more …

The Electoral College still exists because some people think it’s in their advantage.

US Supreme Court Curbs ‘Faithless Electors’ In Presidential Voting (R.)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to free “faithless electors” in the complex Electoral College system that decides the outcome of presidential elections from state laws that force them to support the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote. The justices unanimously rejected the idea that electors, who act on behalf of a state in the Electoral College vote that occurs weeks after voters go the polls, can exercise discretion in the candidate they back. The decision erased a potential complicating factor in the Electoral College as President Donald Trump seeks re-election on Nov. 3 against Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The court sided with Washington state and Colorado, which had imposed penalties on several “faithless electors” – so named because they defied pledges in 2016 to vote for the winner of their states’ popular vote, Democrat Hillary Clinton.


Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the ruling “reaffirmed the fundamental principle that the vote of the people should matter in choosing the president.” State officials have said faithless electors threaten the integrity of American democracy by subverting the will of the electorate and opening the door to corruption. The plaintiffs had argued that the Constitution requires them to exercise independent judgment to prevent unfit candidates from taking office. “The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee – and the state voters’ choice – for President,” liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote on behalf of the court.

Read more …

Only in America.

California Short on Firefighters as Prison “Slaves” Under Lockdown (MPN)

It is the height of California’s dangerous forest fire season. But despite blazes currently raging, the state’s fire department is dangerously understaffed. That is because many firefighters today are not the burly full time professionals of another era, but underpaid convict laborers risking their lives for pennies. Almost 40 percent of California’s firefighters are prisoners. But the state’s penitentiaries are themselves ablaze with COVID-19 outbreaks, leading to widespread lockdowns in what has become a routine for American’s dealing with competing crises. Jails have been among the deadliest hotspots for transmission of the coronavirus. At the notorious San Quentin State Prison just north of San Francisco, there are nearly 1,400 active cases.

Meanwhile, the state has announced the deaths from COVID-19 of 16 inmates at the California Institute for Men in Chino, San Bernardino County. In response to the crisis, prison authorities have enacted strict lockdowns, including at CCC Susanville, the home of the wildfire training program, where there are 224 confirmed active cases of the virus. This is severely hampering the fight against wildfires. Approximately 3,100 inmates work with the fire department tackling blazes, around 2,200 in the front line, and 900 in support roles. Only those with the least serious convictions are considered. Prisoners are paid between $2.90 and $5.12 per day (less than the average income of a sweatshop laborer in Nicaragua), plus $1 per hour of hazard pay during active emergency situations like the deadly fires that engulfed the state late last year.

They work alongside full-time firefighters making an average of $91,000 per year before overtime pay and bonuses but tend to do the harder, less desirable, or more dangerous tasks, leading to multiple deaths in recent years. This has led to widespread condemnation of the practice as akin to “modern slavery,” especially because inmates are effectively barred from even applying to the fire department once their sentences are over. In order to become a firefighter, an emergency medical technician license is required, something that is all but impossible to achieve with a criminal record. Despite this, prisoners still “volunteer” as the work is far more fulfilling than the alternative: more time locked up.

Read more …

“Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as French Justice Minister. Earlier this year, he launched a campaign to grant the Australian asylum in France.”

Assange Lawyer Named French Justice Minister (AAP)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as France’s new justice minister. Dupond-Moretti, a prominent criminal defence lawyer, was elevated to the ministry by incoming Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday. The 55-year-old is known for a his record number of acquittals and led a push by European lawyers for French President Emmanuel Macron to grant asylum to Assange in February. “We consider the situation is sufficiently serious that our duty is to talk about it,” Dupond-Moretti said about Assange’s case at the time.


The Frenchman has said the case against the Australian is unfair, citing Assange’s poor health and alleged violations of his rights while in jail in London Dupond-Moretti’s team also warned of “consequences for all journalists” if Assange is extradited and jailed in the US. French members of Assange’s legal team said they had been working on a “concrete demand” for Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children. It’s unclear whether Dupond-Moretti will now use his position to grant the Australian asylum.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 192020
 


NPC “Largest electric locomotive and Congressman John C. Schafer” 1924 (he’d be in an electric car today)

 

Mainland China Reports 32 New Coronavirus Cases, 25 Of Them In Beijing (R.)
Mexico Posts Record Number Of New Coronavirus Infections (R.)
AMC Theaters To Reopen, Say Face Masks A “Political Controversy” (V.)
John Bolton’s Bad Reviews Don’t Stop Him Topping Us Book Charts (G.)
Bolton, Pelosi Agree: Trump Unfit To Be US President (R.)
Japan’s Deflation Gathers Momentum As Prices Extend Declines (R.)
Fed Chair: Keep Private Entities Out Of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CD)
EU Car Sales Crash 57% In May As Europe Amid Inventory Glut (ZH)
Australia Sees China As Main Suspect In State-Based Cyberattacks (R.)
Report Reveals CIA Incompetence To Blame For Vault 7 Breach (RT)
Americans Are Unhappiest They’ve Been In Nearly 50 Years (Ind.)
Indian Primate Jailed For Life After Carnivorous Rampage (RT)

 

 

Happy Juneteenth!

I made sure to check quite a few times, but it is what it is: according to Worldometer data, over the past 24 hours global new cases went from an almost record 141,872 on June 17 to an all-records shattering 177,168 on June 18. Maybe something’s off, but right now I couldn’t say what.

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 18 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 140,528. Third consecutive day above 140,000.

My count 6AM EDT to 6AM EDT based on Worldometer numbers is much higher today at 177,168.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 29,180
• Brazil + 23,050
• Russia + 7,790
• India + 13,827
• Mexico + 5,662

 

 

Cases 8,602,359 (+ 177,168 from yesterday’s 8,425,191)

Deaths 456,802 (+ 4,994 from yesterday’s 451,808)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunan we have a problem.

Mainland China Reports 32 New Coronavirus Cases, 25 Of Them In Beijing (R.)

Mainland China reported 32 new coronavirus cases as of the end of June 18, 25 of which were reported in the capital city Beijing, China’s National Health Commission said on Friday. This compared with 28 confirmed cases a day earlier, 21 of which were in Beijing. Local authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading further following a series of local infections. Another five asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but show no symptoms, were also reported as of June 18 compared with eight a day earlier. China does not count these patients as confirmed cases.

Read more …

Did we close the borders yet?

Mexico Posts Record Number Of New Coronavirus Infections (R.)

Mexico’s health ministry reported on Thursday a record 5,662 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 667 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 165,455 cases and 19,747 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Read more …

“AMC Theater CEO Adam Aron says their cinemas won’t require masks upon reopening because they didn’t “want to be drawn into a political controversy.”

Is testing also a political viewpoint? How about COVID19 treatment at hospitals? Can we deny that to people who have political issues with facemasks?

AMC Theaters To Reopen, Say Face Masks A “Political Controversy” (V.)

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, has unveiled plans to re-open after coronavirus forced it to close its more than 600 venues in the U.S. for nearly four months. The company is expected to resume operations in 450 of those locations on July 15 and expects to be almost fully operational by the time that Disney’s “Mulan” debuts on July 24 and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” bows on July 31. As part of that process, AMC is reducing its seating capacity in order to help people social distance, it is implementing new cleaning procedures, placing hand-sanitizing stations throughout its theaters and encouraging contact-less and cash-free concessions. “We didn’t rush to reopen,” AMC CEO and president Adam Aron said in an interview with Variety.

“There were some jurisdictions in some states, such as Georgia and Texas, that allowed people to reopen theaters in mid-May. We opted to remain closed, so we could give the country time to get a better handle on coronavirus. We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely.” AMC’s competitors Regal and Cinemark announced their own plans to resume business earlier this week, targeting a similar mid-July timeframe for when they expect to be fully operational. [..] Prior to coronavirus there was a great deal of consolidation in the exhibition space, much of it made possible by debt financing. AMC’s decision to acquire rivals such as Odeon Cinemas, UCI Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas left it heavily leveraged with more than $5 billion in debt. In recent filings, AMC acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic could push it into bankruptcy. [..]

AMC will not mandate that all guests wear masks, although employees will be required to do so. Nor will AMC perform temperature checks on customers, though it will monitor its employees’ temperatures and have them undergo screenings to check for signs of coronavirus. The situation will be different in states and cities that require residents to wear a mask when they’re in public, but Aron said that AMC was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized. “We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

[..] the theater chain said that it is going to lean heavily on technological solutions such as deploying electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters, which would eliminate airborne particles and reduce the chance that COVID-19 will spread. Other procedures being implemented include cleaning auditoriums between each showtime and allowing extra time between screenings for disinfection; blocking out every other row of seats to decrease congestion; pushing guests to use online ticketing and kiosks to limit interactions with staff, and designating various points within theaters for one-way foot traffic.

Read more …

“Orange Man Bad” beats Black Lives Matter.

John Bolton’s Bad Reviews Don’t Stop Him Topping Us Book Charts (G.)

John Bolton’s damning indictment of the Trump presidency is soaring up online charts in the US a week before its release, despite withering reviews describing it as “bloated with self-importance”, as the Trump administration makes a last-ditch attempt to prevent its publication. In the teeth of a series of critical assessments from papers including the New York Times and the Washington Post, Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened is currently No 1 on Amazon’s US charts. Its sales are just ahead of another scathing take on Donald Trump, this time his niece Mary Trump’s forthcoming Too Much and Never Enough, which is subtitled How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Bolton’s book, which is out on 23 June, and Mary Trump’s, scheduled for 28 July, have knocked anti-racism titles by authors including Ibram X Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo and Robin DiAngelo off the top spots.

As the US justice department on Wednesday sought an emergency order to block publication of Bolton’s memoir, copies of the book were leaked to news outlets which revealed a series of explosive claims from the former national security adviser. According to Bolton, Trump pleaded with China to help him with his 2020 re-election campaign, praised China’s president Xi Jinping for his country’s internment camps, and was willing to halt criminal investigations to “give personal favours to dictators he liked”. Trump also weighed in, claiming on Twitter that the book is “made up of lies & fake stories”. Early reviews of the book have not been favourable. The New York Times said the memoir was “bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much”.

Filled with “minute and often extraneous details”, the review continued, it “toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged”. The Washington Post said that “for a memoir that is startlingly candid about many things, Bolton’s utter lack of self-criticism is one of the book’s significant shortcomings”, while NPR found that Bolton “clearly does not expect to attract the casual reader, or anyone else unable to digest sentences such as this one on the third page: ‘Constant personnel turnover obviously didn’t help, nor did the White House’s Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all)’.”

Read more …

Bolton, Pelosi Agree: Trump Unfit To Be US President (R.)

President Donald Trump came under attack from both sides of the American political spectrum on Thursday as liberal Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and former White House aide and conservative hawk John Bolton both declared him unfit to lead the country. “President Trump is clearly ethically unfit and intellectually unprepared to be the president of the United States,” Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told a news briefing. In a new book, Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, has accused the Republican president of sweeping misdeeds, including explicitly seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aid to win re-election in November. “I don’t think he’s fit for office,” Bolton told ABC News in part of an interview aired on Thursday.

“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s re-election.” Pelosi told a weekly news conference she was consulting with her fellow Democrats on whether to subpoena Bolton about the allegations in the book, which has not yet been distributed. If Bolton testifies before Congress, it could revive the issue of Trump’s competence as he faces a stiff challenge on Nov. 3 from Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, and fends off criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and protests over racial injustice and police brutality. Bolton refused to testify in the House’s impeachment probe last year and threatened to sue if subpoenaed. He offered to testify in the subsequent trial in the Senate, but the Republican-controlled chamber did not take him up on the offer.

[..] Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who led the impeachment inquiry, sharply criticized Bolton as unpatriotic for withholding information from the probe. The new allegations are “further proof” that Trump’s actions in Ukraine were part of a pattern of abusing his power and the U.S. government for personal political gain, Schiff said in a statement.

Read more …

Abenomics will die with Abe’s political career regardless.

Japan’s Deflation Gathers Momentum As Prices Extend Declines (R.)

Japan’s core consumer prices fell for a second straight month in May, reinforcing deflation expectations and raising the challenge for policymakers battling to revive an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. The data will likely complicate the Bank of Japan’s job of restoring growth and inflation, with a raft of recent indicators suggesting the nation is in the grip of its worst postwar economic slump. Several BOJ board members warned that stronger monetary support and closer policy coordination with the government were needed to prevent Japan from returning to deflation, minutes of the bank’s April meeting showed.

“With the pandemic hurting the economy, there’s a good chance Japan may slide into deflation. Downward pressure on prices will likely persist throughout this year,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. The nationwide core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil but excludes volatile fresh food prices, fell 0.2% in May from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday. That compared with market forecasts of a 0.1% fall and followed a 0.2% drop in April, which was the first year-on-year decline since December 2016. The BOJ kept policy steady this week after expanding stimulus in March and April. But governor Haruhiko Kuroda conceded that inflation would remain well short of its 2% target for years to come.

[..} Some BOJ policymakers were concerned that bolder steps are needed to prevent the country from slipping back to sustained period of damaging price declines, the April minutes showed. “Japan is now facing the risk of deflation, so it’s possible to further enhance coordination between fiscal and monetary policies,” one BOJ board member was quoted as saying.

Read more …

“The private sector is not involved in creating the money supply, that’s something the central bank does.”

Fed Chair: Keep Private Entities Out Of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CD)

Private entities aren’t needed to build central bank digital currencies, said the head of the U.S. central bank on Wednesday. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, speaking before the House Financial Services Committee, said the idea of a digital dollar – a blockchain-based version of the current world reserve currency – is complex, and one that the Fed takes seriously, but also that the idea needs to be studied further before one can be created and implemented. However, in response to a question from Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Powell said he believed private entities did not have a role in designing a digital dollar.

“I do think this is something that the central banks have to design,” he said. “The private sector is not involved in creating the money supply, that’s something the central bank does.” Emmer was asking specifically about a recommendation from the Digital Dollar Project, which was launched earlier this year by former Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, Chief Innovation Officer Daniel Gorfine and Accenture Director David Treat. The project suggested a digital dollar be issued by the Fed but designed in partnership with the private sector and accessible through a two-tiered banking system similar to the one in place in the U.S. today.

Powell said the general public may not be receptive to the idea of private employees being responsible for the money supply because they’re not accountable to “the public good.” Still, the idea is apparently being examined. A group of central banks have gotten together to discuss and better understand the concept as well as evaluate the implications on financial inclusion and concerns around cybersecurity, he said. “If this is something that is going to be good for the United States economy and for the world’s reserve currency, which is the dollar, then we need to be there and we need to understand it first and best,” Powell said. “So we’re working hard on it.”

Read more …

A guy I know said he was driving from Holland to Germany this week to pick up a car he bought, an 8-month old BMW at half the new price.

EU Car Sales Crash 57% In May As Europe Amid Inventory Glut (ZH)

New car sales in the EU plunged in May, falling 57% to 623,812, as Europe grapples with the same problem that the U.S. has had for weeks: a glut of inventory, despite re-opening some factories and re-starting production in certain areas. All 27 EU member states posted double digit declines in new car sales, with the U.K. falling an astounding 89%, according to MarketWatch. Production coming out of the EU remains “well blow” pre-crisis levels but the lack of demand continues to contribute to a growing inventory problem. This, in turn, has created a slowdown in an industry that’s already moving at a crawl to begin with. Jobs and profits are both threatened from the glut, in addition to the monumental threat they both still continue to face from the ongoing global pandemic.

Unsold cars on dealer lots are “at least 30% above normal” according to industry analysts, while unsold inventory in Germany alone was about $17 billion worth. Antje Woltermann, managing director of the ZDK industry group: “Unsold stocks are climbing, and on the other hand vehicles are not leaving the lots.” While Europe is struggling, many have looked to China, where sales were up 6% in May, for signs of optimism. For example, Stephan Wöllenstein, chief executive of Volkswagen Group China said: “The return of these kinds of figures is encouraging and gives us continued cautious optimism going forward.”

But those numbers don’t account for the recent second wave of lockdowns, including in Beijing, that China now faces. Countries like France and Germany continues to try and spur sales with government incentives, but Germany is focusing primarily on EVs while the glut is in traditional ICE cars. Recall, in May, we were ahead of the curve when we noted that European car registrations had plunged 76% in April. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the number of new cars sold fell from 1,143,046 to just 270,682 YOY in that month.

Read more …

Australia is but a lap dog.

The story changed overnight to name China as the main “suspect”. Of course what would be really suspect is if China DID NOT spy on Australia.

Australia Sees China As Main Suspect In State-based Cyberattacks (R.)

Australia views China as the chief suspect in a spate of cyber-attacks of increasing frequency in recent months, three sources familiar with the government’s thinking told Reuters on Friday. The comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a “sophisticated state-based actor” had spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure. “We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting,” Morrison told reporters in the capital, Canberra, but declined to say who Australia believed was responsible.


Three sources briefed on the matter said Australia believed China is responsible, however. “There is a high degree of confidence that China is behind the attacks,” one Australian government source told Reuters, seeking anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media. Australian intelligence has flagged similarities between the recent attacks and a cyber-attack on parliament and the three largest political parties in March 2019.Last year, Reuters reported that Australia had quietly concluded China was responsible for that cyber-attack. Australia has never publicly identified the source of that attack, however, and China denied it was responsible.

Read more …

Russiagate revisited.

Report Reveals CIA Incompetence To Blame For Vault 7 Breach (RT)

According to a just-released internal CIA report, “CCI had prioritized building cyber weapons at the expense of securing their own systems. Day-to-day security practices had become woefully lax.” “Most of our sensitive cyber weapons were not compartmented, users shared systems administrator-level passwords, there were no effective removable media controls, and historical data was available to users indefinitely,” the report goes on to say. The heavily-redacted document actually dates back to October 2017 and was only made public Tuesday by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), in an effort to pressure the new Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe into imposing new security measures. While the CIA ineptitude is the obvious takeaway, no one seems to have noticed the real bombshell: the timing of the breach and its implications.

The report says the CIA “did not realize the loss had occurred until a year later, when WikiLeaks publicly announced it in March 2017.” Now, what all was happening between March 2016 and a year later? You guessed it: Russiagate! Even as his own cyber arsenal was getting swiped from under his very nose, CIA chief John Brennan was obsessing about “Russian hackers” of the Democratic National Committee, or Hillary Clinton’s emails, or something – and pushing the bogus ‘Steele Dossier’ alleging Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia, which eventually made it into the infamous ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ that accused Moscow of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. It gets worse. According to the report, “Had the data been stolen for the benefit of a state adversary and not published, we might still be unaware of the loss—as would be true for the vast majority of data on Agency mission systems.”

So if the mythic bogeymen ‘Russian hackers’ had actually wanted to harm the US, they could have just used the CIA’s own, unprotected cyberweapons to stage false flags and wreak havoc across the world? None of which happened, obviously. Yet Brennan and his confederates have been telling everyone for years that the Kremlins wanted to “hack our democracy” by publishing some Democrat emails and posting memes on social media! [..] As for how Vault 7 got to WikiLeaks, the jury is still out on that. Joshua Schulte, the employee charged with leaking the files, is being prosecuted again after a hung jury at his first trial in March. His lawyers have argued the CIA security was so lax, anyone else on the team, or even outsiders, could have done it. The next time the media report some incendiary claim based on US intelligence “assessments,” try to keep all this in mind.

Read more …

How cann you be lonely when you have a TV set to keep you company?

Americans Are Unhappiest They’ve Been In Nearly 50 Years (Ind.)

Happiness among Americans has fallen to the lowest level in nearly five decades during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll. The Covid Response Tracking Study, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), found that morale was at the lowest point it has ever been since tracking emotional health trends began in 1972. The number of people who described themselves as very happy fell by 17 points to just 14 per cent in 2020. The previous record low – seen shortly after the 2007/8 Financial Crisis – was 29%. For the first time in 48 years, more people said they were unhappy than very happy. More than 60 per cent of Americans reported being “pretty happy”.


Interviews of the 2,279 US adults that took part in the survey took place between 21-29 May, while large parts of the country were under some form of lockdown designed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Feelings of loneliness have also increased as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, with half of all respondents saying they felt isolated either very often, often or sometimes. When asked the same question two years previously, less than a quarter of respondents said they experienced feelings of isolation.

Read more …

An alcoholic pet monkey…

Indian Primate Jailed For Life After Carnivorous Rampage (RT)

An alcoholic pet monkey has been locked up for good in Uttar Pradesh after a terror spree that left 250 people injured and one dead. Efforts to rehabilitate the animal were scrapped and zoo doctors affirm he’s a menace to society. The six-year-old monkey, named Kalua, received a life sentence of solitary confinement at India’s Kanpur Zoo this week after repeated attempts at normalizing his behavior left zookeepers and other monkeys much the worse for wear. Zoo doctor Mohd Nasir told local media the savage simian would harm people wherever he went if set free, explaining “he remains as aggressive as he was” when first brought to the zoo three years ago.

Kalua formerly belonged to an occultist in Mirzapur district, who fed him a diet of meat and copious alcohol. When his owner died, the grieving pet apparently went into withdrawal, becoming vicious and attacking locals. By the time forest and zoo teams succeeded in apprehending the aggressive creature, he had bitten over 250 people, including 30 children. One of his victims died of the injuries, while others – Kalua apparently has a thing for attacking women and girls – were left in need of plastic surgery. While the zookeepers had hoped to calm Kalua down, substituting a vegetarian diet for the human flesh he’d apparently come to rely on, they didn’t have much luck. The carnivorous creature has stayed hostile, especially toward female zookeepers, and plans to release him back into the wild a changed monkey have been shelved.

Kalua’s misbehavior predates the coronavirus outbreak, but he’s not the only monkey in Uttar Pradesh to make the news in recent weeks. A gang of monkeys attacked a lab technician in Meerut last month, stealing several blood samples taken from Covid-19 patients and running off with them in a scene that seemed lifted straight out of a Hollywood pandemic film.

Read more …

 

 

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 June 2, 2020  Posted by at 11:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Harris&Ewing F.W. Grand store, Washington, DC 1925

 

China Delayed Releasing Coronavirus Info, Frustrating WHO (AP)
Distancing And Masks Cut COVID19 Risk – Review (R.)
Why Europe is Irrelevant to Challenging China (Balding)
The Forgotten Coup Against ‘The Most Loyal Ally’ (John Pilger)
That Change You Requested…? (Jim Kunstler)
State, Independent Autopsies Agree On George Floyd Homicide, Not On Cause (R.)
Bellingcat: Russians Didn’t Kill George Floyd, But Are Still Bad (RT)
In Appellate Brief, DOJ Unloads On Behavior Of Judge In Flynn Case (Davis)
Julian Assange Too Unwell To Attend Court Hearing (CW)

 

 

Hardware problems this morning, my Chrome on MacBook started crashing and kept on doing it. Figured out it was due to Zerohedge’s ad settings conflicting with that set-up. Will look at the site in Forefox now. Cost a lot of time though.

Thanks for your support for our homeless project in Athens. Some of you are so generous it’s absolutely humbling.

 

 

Brazil overtakes the US for largest COVID-19 growth in the past week.

1 week of NEW cases:
Brazil: 151,600+
US: 144,000+
Russia: 61,400+
India: 51,600+
Peru: 44,500+
Chile: 31,100+

 

 

 

Cases 6,394,316 (+ 106,140 from Saturday’s 6,288,176)

Deaths 377,966 (+ 3,372 from Saturday’s 374,327)

 

 

 

Note: I dropped the SCMP graph, it doesn’t appear very relevant anymore.

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

On January 14, China’s no. 1 health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic. Only 8 weeks later did teh WHO declare a pandemic. Explanation?!

“On Jan. 13, WHO announced that Thailand had a confirmed case of the virus, jolting Chinese officials. The next day, in a confidential teleconference, China’s top health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic, calling the outbreak the “most severe challenge since SARS in 2003”..”

[..] “On Jan. 22, WHO convened an independent committee to determine whether to declare a global health emergency. After two inconclusive meetings where experts were split, they decided against it — even as Chinese officials ordered Wuhan sealed in the biggest quarantine in history. The next day, WHO chief Tedros publicly described the spread of the new coronavirus in China as “limited.“

China Delayed Releasing Coronavirus Info, Frustrating WHO (AP)

Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.” But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found. Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information.

Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents. Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed. WHO officials were lauding China in public because they wanted to coax more information out of the government, the recordings obtained by the AP suggest.

Privately, they complained in meetings the week of Jan. 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time. “We’re going on very minimal information,” said American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, now WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, in one internal meeting. “It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.” “We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV,” said WHO’s top official in China, Dr. Gauden Galea, referring to the state-owned China Central Television, in another meeting. [..] Although international law obliges countries to report information to WHO that could have an impact on public health, the U.N. agency has no enforcement powers and cannot independently investigate epidemics within countries. Instead, it must rely on the cooperation of member states.

[..] “It’s obvious that we could have saved more lives and avoided many, many deaths if China and the WHO had acted faster,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. However, Mokdad and other experts also noted that if WHO had been more confrontational with China, it could have triggered a far worse situation of not getting any information at all. If WHO had pushed too hard, it could even have been kicked out of China, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, a global health professor at the University of Sydney. But he added that a delay of just a few days in releasing genetic sequences can be critical in an outbreak. And he noted that as Beijing’s lack of transparency becomes even clearer, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s continued defense of China is problematic.

“It’s definitely damaged WHO’s credibility,” said Kamradt-Scott. “Did he go too far? I think the evidence on that is clear….it has led to so many questions about the relationship between China and WHO. It is perhaps a cautionary tale.”

Read more …

Because there are idiots who’d want to contest it. The sky is not blue.

Distancing And Masks Cut COVID19 Risk – Review (R.)

Keeping at least one metre apart and wearing face masks and eye protection are the best ways to cut the risk of COVID-19 infection, according to the largest review to date of studies on coronavirus disease transmission. In a review that pooled evidence from 172 studies in 16 countries, researchers found frequent handwashing and good hygiene are also critical – though even all those measures combined can not give full protection. The findings, published in The Lancet journal on Monday, will help guide governments and health agencies, some of whom have given conflicting advice on measures, largely because of limited information about COVID-19.


“Our findings are the first to synthesise all direct information on COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, and provide the currently best available evidence on the optimum use of these common and simple interventions to help ‘flatten the curve’”, said Holger Schünemann from McMaster University in Canada, who co-led the research. Current evidence suggests COVID-19 is most commonly spread by droplets, especially when people cough, and infects by entering through the eyes, nose and mouth, either directly or via contaminated surfaces. For this analysis, an international research team conducted a systematic review of 172 studies assessing distance measures, face masks and eye protection to prevent transmission of three diseases caused by coronaviruses – COVID-19, SARS and MERS.

Read more …

“..other than rubber rafts and unused vacation time, Europe can and will contribute nothing to Indo Pacific focused institutions, policies, and security strategies. The US should not be bound by historical alliances to fight different security threats and economic objectives.”

Why Europe is Irrelevant to Challenging China (Balding)

One of the most widely watched geopolitical events is how will Europe respond to Chinese aggression from the national security law in Hong Kong to the invasion of India as well as a range of other events. Given that many have built a counter Trump foreign policy contingent upon attracting European allies to confront China, the importance of Europe in the unfolding geopolitical tragedy becomes even more important. The only problem with the Old World obsession? Europe is almost entirely irrelevant to the China problem. America has a European obsession. Coming out of a post World War II geopolitical environment there is good reason why that was the focus of resource allocation.

This resulted in significant work that focused on the trans Atlantic relationship from bilateral and multilateral alliances and institutions to economic and security relationships that built the post war world. In a post war world, rebuilding Europe rapidly and building alliances to confront the Soviet Union was tantamount. This formed the foundation for the post war institutional and alliance order. However, even beyond the broader institutional and alliance focus many in America looked to Europe as a natural ally that shared the same values but also behaved differently acting as a type of moderating influence on US foreign policy. They preferred to highlight different policy domains like the environment and human rights. They focused on institution building whether it was the European Union or whether it was NATO and post 1989 institutions.

This endeared them to many foreign policy wonks in the United States who admired European sensibilities. However, these threads of foreign policy and institutional alliances also overlooked key problems. First, much of this European cooperation flowed from the need to solve uniquely European centric problems. Whether the NATO security alliance facing the USSR to the United Nations Security Council with the two major victorious European powers as members or receiving financial benefits to rebuild Europe, enormous amounts of the cooperation involved European centric or adjacent needs, alliances, and institutions. In a post WWII world this is not a major problem. In a 2020 Asia focused threat theater, this is a problem.

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Australia went from being a loyal vassal in one empire to the same in the next. A country without an identity or an opinion.

The Forgotten Coup Against ‘The Most Loyal Ally’ (John Pilger)

The Australian High Court has ruled that correspondence between the Queen and the Governor-General of Australia, her viceroy in the former British colony, is no longer “personal” and the property of Buckingham Palace. Why does this matter? Secret letters written in 1975 by the Queen and her man in Canberra, Sir John Kerr, can now be released by the National Archives. Kerr infamously sacked the reformist government of the prime minister, Gough Whitlam, and delivered Australia into the hands of the United States. Today, Australia is a vassal state bar none: its politics, intelligence agencies, military and much of its media are integrated into Washington’s “sphere of dominance” and war plans. In Donald Trump’s current provocations of China, the U.S. bases in Australia are described as the “tip of the spear”.

There is an historical amnesia among Australia’s polite society about the catastrophic events of 1975. An Anglo-American coup overthrew a democratically elected ally in a demeaning scandal in which sections of the Australian elite colluded. This is largely unmentionable. The stamina and achievement of the Australian historian Jenny Hocking in forcing the High Court’s decision are exceptional. Gough Whitlam was driven from government on Nov. 11, 1975. When he died six years ago, his achievements were recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. The truth of the coup against him, it was hoped, would be buried with him. During the Whitlam years, 1972-75, Australia briefly achieved independence and became intolerably progressive.

The last Australian troops were ordered home from their mercenary service to the American assault on Vietnam. Whitlam’s ministers publicly condemned U.S. barbarities as “mass murder” and the crimes of “maniacs”. The Nixon administration was corrupt, said the Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Cairns, and called for a boycott of American trade. In response, Australian dockers refused to unload American ships. Whitlam moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement and called for a Zone of Peace in the Indian ocean, which the U.S. and Britain opposed. He demanded France cease its nuclear testing in the Pacific. In the UN, Australia spoke up for the Palestinians. Refugees fleeing the CIA-engineered coup in Chile were welcomed into Australia.

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“..it’s not just black people who struggle to thrive in the USA, but everybody else of any ethnic group who is not a hedge fund veep, an employee of BlackRock Financial, or a K-Street lobbyist..”

That Change You Requested…? (Jim Kunstler)

The nation was already reeling from the weird twelve-week Covid-19 lockdown of everyday life and the economic havoc it brought to careers, businesses, and incomes. In Minnesota, the stay-at-home order was just lifted on May 17, but bars and restaurants were still closed until June. Memorial Day, May 25, was one of the first really balmy days of mid-spring, 78 degrees. People were out-and-about, perhaps even feeling frisky after weeks of dreary seclusion. So, once the video of George Floyd’s death got out, the script was set: take it to the streets!

Few Americans were unsympathetic to the protest marches that followed. Remorse, censure, and tears flowed from every official portal, from the mouth and eyes of every political figure in the land. The tableau of Officer Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck was readymade for statuary. Indeed, there are probably dozens of statues extant in the world of just such a scene expressing one people’s oppression over another. And yet the public sentiments early-on after the George Floyd killing had a stale, ceremonial flavor: The people demand change! End systemic racism! No justice, no peace! How many times have we seen this movie?

What is changing — and suddenly — is that now it’s not just black people who struggle to thrive in the USA, but everybody else of any ethnic group who is not a hedge fund veep, an employee of BlackRock Financial, or a K-Street lobbyist — and even those privileged characters may find themselves in reduced circumstances before long. The prospects of young adults look grimmest of all. They face an economy so disordered that hardly anyone can find something to do that pays enough to support the basics of life, on top of being swindled by the false promises of higher education and the money-lending racket that animates it. So, it’s not surprising that, when night falls, the demons come out.

Things get smashed up and burned down. And all that after being cooped up for weeks on end in the name of an illness that mostly kills people in nursing homes. Ugly as the ANTIFA movement is, it’s exactly what you get when young people realize their future has been stolen from them. Or, more literally, when they are idle and broke and see fabulous wealth all around them in the banks’ glass skyscrapers, and the car showrooms, and the pageants of celebrity fame and fortune on the boob tube. They are extras in a new movie called The Fourth Turning Meets the Long Emergency but they may not know it.

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The Hennepin County Medical Examiner tried to get away with “no strangulation”, didn’t expect to be corrected.

State, Independent Autopsies Agree On George Floyd Homicide, Not On Cause (R.)

The medical examiner’s finding that the death was a homicide confirms the same conclusion of the independent autopsy that was also released on Monday, but there are key differences over the cause. A press release from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said that Floyd, who struggled to breathe as an officer pinned him down by kneeling on his neck, had “recent methamphetamine use” and “fentanyl intoxication” – along with hypertension and coronary artery disease – all of which were possible contributing factors to his death. But two doctors who carried out that independent autopsy of Floyd, 46, and two attorneys for the family said that he had no underlying health conditions that may have contributed to his death.

They argued that not only the officer who was kneeing Floyd’s neck killed him, but also two officers who were pressing their weight onto Floyd’s back while he was on the ground. They added that they did not have information on toxicology and any drug or alcohol use by Floyd. Dr. Allecia Wilson of the University of Michigan, one of the two forensic doctors who performed the independent autopsy, said the evidence pointed to homicide by “mechanical asphyxia” meaning from some physical force that interfered with oxygen supply. While the county’s full autopsy report has not yet been released – Monday’s press release appeared to show authorities walked back their conclusions on what killed Floyd.

The original criminal complaint against the police officer who pinned Floyd with his knee cited the medical examiner’s office when it said it found no findings of strangulation. Carolyn Marinan, a spokeswoman for Hennepin County, did not confirm any reversal, saying only that Monday’s press release were the “final findings.”

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“Your ‘expose’ is multiplying the stupidity in the world.”

Bellingcat: Russians Didn’t Kill George Floyd, But Are Still Bad (RT)

Bellingcat, the UK-based enablers of Western narratives in Syria and Ukraine now fueling US race riots, selectively translated a satirical post from Russian social media shared by RT’s editor-in-chief to get her “canceled.”
On Sunday, Margarita Simonyan shared a Telegram post by Dmitry Steshin, a war correspondent for the newspaper KP, which purported to give “advice” to rioters in the US on how to make their uprising more “successful” along the lines of the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine. Given that the post was entirely in Russian, it was obvious that the real objective of Steshin – and Simonyan – was to comment on the Maidan uprising in Kiev and the ensuing war in Ukraine. Not so, declared the self-proclaimed experts on “open-source” intelligence.

Bellingcat selectively translated a handful of sentences from Steshin’s post and accused Simonyan of – what else? – racism. “Bellingcat accusing me of racism for a repost that used the Russian word for a black person is as baseless as me accusing Bellingcat of racism for calling me Russian, and not Armenian (I am both),” Simonyan said in response to the accusations. RT also responded to Bellingcat on Twitter, pointing out that they “missed the point” of the Telegram post, which was not aimed at black protesters in 2020, but satirized the 2014 Ukrainian unrest. Indeed, Simonyan’s post starts with “good advice to black people of Minnesota from a journalist who covered seven Maidans and color revolutions” – referring to US-backed astroturfed protests that often escalated into riots for the purpose of regime change.

Being in Russian, though, the advice was clearly not meant for Minnesotans. While Steshin’s post might have used rough language, “humor norms vary by country. More so in countries not dealing with [the] burden of once being such enthusiastic African slave traders,” RT noted in a retort to Bellingcat. [..] It needs to be said that the declaration by Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins that “Russia is behind the killing of George Floyd to provoke protests and riots” is a stupid take. It’s also a straw man, because even the media outlets stoking the riots only talk of some “Russian playbook” and sowing discord, and other such vague and unprovable insinuations, just as they’ve done for years with ‘Russiagate.’

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The court’s deadline for Sullivan to explain his ruling was yesterday. Did he comply?

In Appellate Brief, DOJ Unloads On Behavior Of Judge In Flynn Case (Davis)

The Department of Justice on Monday unloaded on the antics of the rogue federal judge overseeing the Michael Flynn trial, accusing him of usurping the constitutional authority of the executive branch to make prosecutorial decisions and ignoring both statutory law and federal court precedent requiring him to dismiss the case against Flynn. After Judge Emmet G. Sullivan refused to grant the unopposed DOJ motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn after the government unearthed and relevant reams of evidence that the government had abused its power and unlawfully targeted Flynn, Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell filed a writ of mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking it to order the trial court to dismiss the charges against Flynn.

The appellate court ordered Sullivan to respond by close of business on June 1 and invited DOJ to file its own response as well. [..] Sullivan, who at one point accused Flynn, a decorated military combat veteran, of being a traitor to his country, refused to dismiss the charges and instead appointed John Gleeson, a former federal judge, to make arguments to the court about why the unopposed motion to dismiss charges should be denied. Days before Gleeson was appointed by Sullivan, Gleeson co-authored a Washington Post column calling on Sullivan to deny DOJ’s motion to dismiss the Flynn charges. Sullivan also asked Gleeson to provide the trial court with arguments to support new charges of perjury against Flynn.

“The failure to dismiss the indictment was error,” DOJ wrote in its brief. “And the court’s efforts to pursue additional charges of contempt compounded its error.” “When, like many other defendants, petitioner pleaded guilty but later asserted his innocence, he did not expose himself to prosecution for criminal contempt of court,” Francisco and the other DOJ attorneys noted. “The court lacks authority to bring its own prosecution of petitioner, for two independent reasons.”

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But the judge simply claims Julian refused to attend. She needs to be excused.

Julian Assange Too Unwell To Attend Court Hearing (CW)

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was too unwell to attend a court hearing by video link today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the court that his client had had respiratory problems for some time. The WikiLeaks founder faces 17 charges under the 1917 Espionage Act after WikiLeaks published a series of leaks from Chelsea Manning, a former US Army soldier turned whistleblower, in 2010-11. The 48-year-old faces a further charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charges, filed in an indictment by the Easter District of Virginia, carry a maximum sentence of 175 years. Observers and journalists dialled in to a short court hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, but frequently had difficulty hearing what the lawyers and judge were saying over noises on the line.

According to one journalist present at the court, district judge Vanessa Baraitser said the court had received an email from Belmarsh Prison, saying Assange was “refusing to attend the hearing and refusing to sign a refusal form”. Fitzgerald told the judge that Assange’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, had sent the court an email on Friday explaining that Assange was unwell with respiratory problems, 7 News reported. The judge said she had hoped to provide the name of the crown court that could hear Assange’s extradition case today, but said she was still waiting for confirmation of the venue. The court heard that the prosecution had been unable to complete a psychiatric report on Assange because a medical expert had been unable to gain access to Belmarsh Prison during the lockdown.

The judge gave the prosecution a deadline of 31 July to produce the psychiatric report on Assange. James Lewis for the prosecution said the defence had served new evidence that would need to be examined to determine admissibility. The judge ordered the prosecution to present a new skeleton argument to the court on 25 August, with the defence skeleton argument due on 1 September, 7 News reported. The next scheduled hearing will take place on 29 June, and a full three-week hearing is due to start on 7 September. In a separate development, 36 members of the European Parliament have called for Assange to be released from Belmarsh on press freedom and humanitarian grounds.

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https://twitter.com/_youhadonejob1/status/1267696839073116162

 

 

“Only A Pawn In Their Game”
March on Washington
August 28, 1963


 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 302020
 


Edward Hopper Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina 1929

 

Protests Spread Nationwide: Minnesota Curfew, White House Locks Down (JTN)
Unsanitized: Social Unrest When There’s Nothing to Lose (Dayen)
Trump Orders His Administration To Begin Eliminating Hong Kong Privileges (R.)
Trump Says US To Withdraw From WHO. Does He Have The Authority To Do It? (NPR)
Twitter Targets Trump Again, Flagging Tweet After Executive Order (SAC)
Coronavirus Sinks US Consumer Spending As Savings Hit Record High (R.)
Investors Eye Consumer Discretionary Stocks As US Reopens (R.)
A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold (Varoufakis )
Malaria Drug And Zinc, The Missing Link (Berry)
Australian Anti-Vaxxers Label COVID19 a ‘Scam’ At Anti-5G Protests (AAP)
States Are Copying & Pasting Immunity Laws For Nursing Home Execs (Sirota)
De Blasio Ramps Up Destruction Of Homeless Encampments (Gothamist)
No One Knows Where Ghislaine Maxwell Is (Esq.)

 

 

The conversation has shifted away from corona for now. Is that a good thing?

Total global cases pass 6 million as daily new cases set another record at 125,511.

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 25,069
• Brazil + 30,739
• Russia + 8,952
• UK 4,938
• India + 8,105
• Peru + 6,506
• Chile + 4,654

 

 

 

Cases 6,054,777 (+ 122,597 from yesterday’s 5,932,180)

Deaths 367,288 (+ 4,674 from yesterday’s 362,614)

 

 

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two sides prone to violence.

Protests Spread Nationwide: Minnesota Curfew, White House Locks Down (JTN)

The anger over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody fueled intense protests coast to coast Friday night, as activists ignored a Minnesota curfew to set new fires while the White House temporarily locked down over security concerns just outside its gates. The arrest and murder charges filed earlier in the day against the police officer who allegedly knelt on Floyd’s neck did little to quell a swelling rage that drove protests in cities as diverse as New York and San Jose. In Atlanta, protesters spray-painted sayings and broke windows at CNN’s headquarters while tense officers in Brooklyn borough lined up to keep angry, chanting protesters from straying from street protests toward business.


The Secret Service on Friday evening put the White House on brief lockdown, sheltering reporters inside the press room, as several videos on social media showed unruly protesters outside of the Treasury Department, adjacent to the heavily fortified White House, and large groups of protesters walking from the city’s historically black U Street neighborhood chanting, “No peace, no justice.” The protests started Tuesday in Minneapolis, where weary residents and officers faced a fourth night of violence, rioting and fire setting. The Minnesota governor activated the national guard and a strict curfew for 8 p.m. was imposed in the Twin Cities, but it failed to keep large numbers of protesters from taking to the streets anew.

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“..that’s the same brutality..”

Unsanitized: Social Unrest When There’s Nothing to Lose (Dayen)

There’s a reason that Spike Lee set Do the Right Thing on the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn. The pressure from the heat simmered through the community and created sparks that ignited existing tensions. There was a triggering event, which led to a police chokehold and the death of Radio Raheem, and the destruction of Sal’s Pizzeria. The weather was the backdrop as events played out. That was 1989 and it couldn’t be more relevant right now. The death of George Floyd is obviously unforgivable on its own terms. There doesn’t need to be any context. Unreformed police murder in communities of color has been part of America since well before I was born. I have nothing to comment on about looters—at least eight people sent me this Onion headline, “Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First.” (I guess my reputation precedes me.)

I can’t say anything about the burning of the 3rd police precinct. And I have a lot to say about the great misfortune of having Donald J. Trump in a leadership position during this moment, but most of it would be curse words. Decades of disinvestment and routinized brutality and structural racism created these conditions. The officer who killed George Floyd had enough history of violence alone to contribute mightily to this rage. (And yes, Amy Klobuchar declined to prosecute him and many others for these crimes.) But you cannot separate this outpouring of anger from two months of death, economic collapse, and the disproportionate pain raining down right now on communities of color.

Decades of environmental racism have created toxic vectors for spreading the virus; that’s the same brutality. Minority small business owners have had a harder time securing federal aid, owing to more distant relationships with local banks; that’s the same brutality. African Americans are more likely to be in “essential” jobs and unable to work from home and protect themselves; that’s the same brutality. They’re more likely to be in prisons under perhaps the worst conditions of this crisis; that’s definitely the same brutality. “Black Americans are 80 percent more likely than white people to have diabetes,” which puts them at higher risk from COVID-19; that’s the same brutality. Lack of decent food in communities of color, and access to healthcare, and the ability to rent enough space in shelter to physically distance—this is all brutality against a people, manifested today but going back 400 years.

When you are either out of work or on a hair trigger because you know you’re risking your life by going to work; when your business can’t get a bridge loan and you know everything you worked for is about to be extinguished; when you’re cut off from your friends and neighbors; when your source of sustenance is the food bank; when you have nothing to lose, and then on television you see a black man with his neck wedged between a police officer’s knee and the pavement until he chokes, and you hear he died in police custody after pleading “I can’t breathe,” and you remember how those words were spoken by Eric Garner, and you hear that the man was in custody for using counterfeit money and you don’t think that’s a sufficient reason to kill somebody, and you recall that the Minneapolis Police Department has had a really ugly history with the black community for a long time, and when you exhale a little because the cops involved were fired but then the local prosecutor says this murder of a black man doesn’t merit prosecution… what results from this injustice should meet your expectations.

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It boils down to: how big of a threat is China? Opinionsvary.

Trump Orders His Administration To Begin Eliminating Hong Kong Privileges (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong, in response to China’s plans to impose new security legislation in the territory. Trump made the announcement at a White House news conference, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong’s autonomy. He said its move against Hong Kong was a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, China and the world. “We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment,” he said, adding that the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for smothering Hong Kong’s autonomy.


Trump’s move follows Chinese plans to impose new national security legislation on the former British colony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the territory no longer warrants special treatment under U.S. law that has enabled it to remain a global financial center. Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy agreements on Hong Kong, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls. He said he would also issue a proclamation on Friday to better safeguard vital university research by suspending the entry of foreign nationals from China identified as potential security risks.

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The WHO has failed/refused to reform the way Trump asked them to.

Trump Says US To Withdraw From WHO. Does He Have The Authority To Do It? (NPR)

President Trump has announced that he is immediately halting the decades-long U.S. membership in the World Health Organization over its response to China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic. In a press briefing Friday at the White House, Trump said, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.” Trump said the decision came because WHO has “failed to make” reforms the U.S. requested. Last week, Trump sent a letter to WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, outlining his views on how the agency favors China and asking the organization to “commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

It’s not clear what specific reforms the U.S. has requested, because those discussions have not been made public. Nor did Trump say why he acted on the threat after one week rather than waiting a month. The U.S. was a major force in founding WHO in 1948 and is the organization’s top funder, providing around $450 million a year, according to Trump. The level of funding the U.S. provides to WHO has been a sore spot for Trump, who complained at the briefing that the U.S. pays significantly more than China but does not wield more power in the agency. Global health experts said the president’s choice to leave the global health governing body during a pandemic is a dangerous call.

“This decision is really so short-sighted and ill-advised, and all it does is put American lives at risk,” said Dr. Howard Koh, former assistant secretary for health in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “I disagree with the president’s decision,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in a statement after the announcement. “Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

It’s questionable whether the president can make a unilateral decision to withdraw from WHO. “It is an overreach of his constitutional powers,” said Larry Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Gostin said he believes that the president may need congressional approval to terminate U.S. membership in the U.N. agency. “The only situation where he can do this is if Congress had agreed beforehand to give these powers to the president,” said Kelley Lee, a professor of public health at Simon Fraser University. “It is the role of legal advisers to inform the president on what authority he can exert. He is either not receiving good advice or not listening to it.”

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Thugs, huh?

Twitter Targets Trump Again, Flagging Tweet After Executive Order (SAC)

Twitter flagged and hid a tweet posted by President Donald Trump’s early Friday morning after the president signed an Executive Order challenging the growing political bias in tech companies, whose platforms are meant to be neutral. Trump’s tweet was in response to the growing unrest and rioting in Minnesota, in response to the horrific death of George Floyd while in police custody. Thursday night the situation in Minneapolis escalated again when rioters overran a police precinct, forcing police officers, who were told not to respond by city officials, to evacuate before it was burned to the ground.

Trump signed the Executive Order Thursday aimed at social media giants he says, have been operating as biased publishers rather than platforms for free speech. Trump tweeted that these “THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

The National Guard was sent to assist local authorities in containing the rioting. Earlier the president criticized the city’s mayor, who ordered the evacuation of the precinct saying, “the very weak radical left mayor Jacob Frey” if he didn’t bring the city under control. In response, Twitter flagged the President’s tweet and attached a notice saying “we have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realDonaldTrump.” The tweet is actually hidden from public view but can be viewed if the reader so chooses to click on it. “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” said Twitter. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

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Consumer spending is way down. Therefore, savings must be way up? is that so?

Coronavirus Sinks US Consumer Spending As Savings Hit Record High (R.)

U.S. consumers cut spending by the most on record for the second straight month in April while boosting savings to an all-time high, and the growing frugality reinforced expectations the economy could take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report from the Commerce Department on Friday also showed an economy highly reliant on the government, with financial aid checks from a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion driving a record surge in personal income. Together with news that monthly exports collapsed, the report left economists anticipating the largest contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter since the Great Depression. Data has also been dismal this month on the labor market, manufacturing production and homebuilding.

“Right now, the economy is totally dependent upon the largesse of the government,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Will the federal government keep sending out checks or will the household and business welfare payments dry up?” The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, plunged 13.6% last month, the biggest drop since the government started tracking the series in 1959. It eclipsed the previous all-time decrease of 6.9% in March.

[..] Personal income surged a record 10.5% last month. Without the government money, income would have declined 6.3% with business closures pushing wages down 8.0%. The unprecedented economic upheaval saw the saving rate hitting a record 33%. “If the economy reopens quickly without consequence, the millions who lost jobs are hired back and have no reason to fear they will lose their jobs again, these savings represent considerable spending power in the second half,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN in New York. “If it takes longer to reopen the economy, these savings will be used for sustenance over the next few months. They will limit the decline, but not fuel a sharp rebound.”

[..] In a second report on Friday, the Commerce Department said goods exports tumbled 25.2% to $95.4 billion in April, a 10-year low. The broad decline in exports was led by a 65.9% collapse in shipments of motor vehicles and parts. That outpaced a 14.3% tumble in imports. As a result, the goods trade deficit widened 7.2% to 69.7 billion last month. The larger goods trade deficit is likely a drag on second GDP, which economists expect could drop at as much as a 40% rate, a pace not seen since the 1930s. The economy contracted at a 5.0% annualized rate last quarter, the deepest pace of decline in GDP since the 2007-09 recession. Consumer spending tumbled at a 6.8% rate, the sharpest drop since the second quarter of 1980.

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Everyone buys Amazon, consumers and investors.

Investors Eye Consumer Discretionary Stocks As US Reopens (R.)

Investors are taking a closer look at the market’s consumer discretionary companies as a reopening U.S. economy fuels hopes of a turnaround for some of the sector’s hardest-hit names. Many companies in the sector have been battered by the country-wide coronavirus-fueled lockdowns that have weighed on growth and damaged retail spending over the last several months, though the stocks of a few, like Amazon, have soared. A gradual lifting of lockdowns in some states has stirred hopes for a bounce back for the retailers that make up much of the sector.Some investors, however, say it may be months before consumers return to their previous shopping habits, making it unlikely that the companies will see a pickup in revenues in the near term.

Firms ranging from middle-income retailers such as Gap Iand American Eagle Outfitters to high-end destinations like Tiffany & Co and Vail Resorts Inc are expected to report results in the week ahead. “This particular group is full of landmines,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “There is not going to be a lot of investor follow-through until we get some certainty with what future revenue prospects are going to be.” Shares of the Gap, for instance, are down 43% for the year to date. A recession that persists through the fourth quarter of this year would reduce the company’s revenues by 40%, according to a note by research firm Trefis.

Next Friday’s U.S. jobs report is expected to show that the unemployment rate rose to 19.8% in May, smashing April’s record 14.7%, according to a Reuters poll. Non-farm payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, adding to the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month. Cox is focusing on dominant players such as Amazon.com Inc, Walmart Inc and Target Corp, which have a mix of essential items such as groceries as well as electronics and games that can appeal to customers who may face extended lockdowns during a potential second wave of the virus. Overall, retail companies in the S&P 500 are up 12.9% for the year to date, a gain powered largely by Amazon’s 31% rally. Apparel companies, by comparison, are down 16.2% over the same time.

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Yanis doesn’t want separate countries, though they are likely the best format in a pandemic. No, he wants globalization, just not the one we know. How practical is that?

A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold (Varoufakis )

To exorcise my worst fears about the coming decade, I chose to write a bleak chronicle of it. If, by December 2030, developments have invalidated it, I hope such dreary prognoses will have played a part by spurring us to appropriate action. Before our pandemic-induced lockdowns, politics seemed to be a game. Political parties behaved like sports teams having good or bad days, scoring points that propelled them up a league table that, at season’s end, determined who would form a government and then do next to nothing. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic stripped away the veneer of indifference to reveal the political reality: some people do have the power to tell the rest of us what to do. Lenin’s description of politics as “who does what to whom” seemed more apt than ever.

By June 2020, as lockdowns began to ease, left-wing optimism that the pandemic would revive state power on behalf of the powerless remained, leading friends to fantasize about a renaissance of the commons and a capacious definition of public goods. Margaret Thatcher, I would remind them, left the British state larger, more powerful, and more concentrated than she had found it. An authoritarian state was necessary to support markets controlled by corporations and banks. Those in authority have never hesitated to harness massive government intervention to the preservation of oligarchic power. Why should a pandemic change that? As a result of COVID-19, the grim reaper almost claimed both the British prime minister and the Prince of Wales, and even Hollywood’s nicest star. But it was the poorer and the browner that the reaper actually did claim. They were easy pickings.

[..] Just as cathedrals were the Middle Ages’ architectural legacy, the 2020s left us tall walls, electrified fences, and flocks of surveillance drones. The nation-state’s revival made the world less open, less prosperous, and less free precisely for those who had always found it hard to travel, to make ends meet, and to speak their minds. For the oligarchs and functionaries of Big Tech, Big Pharma, and other megafirms, who got on famously with the strongmen in authority, globalization proceeded apace.

The myth of the global village gave way to an equilibrium between great-power blocs, each sporting burgeoning militaries, separate supply chains, idiosyncratic autocracies, and class divisions reinforced by new forms of nativism. The new socioeconomic cleavages threw the prevailing features of each country’s politics into sharp relief. Like people who become caricatures of themselves in a crisis, whole countries focused on their collective illusions, exaggerating and cementing pre-existing prejudices.

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Your daily dose of anti-remdesivir.

Malaria Drug And Zinc, The Missing Link (Berry)

Mystery surrounds why an anti-malaria drug is not being tested as a Covid-19 treatment in combination with zinc, which doctors say is crucial for efficacy. As we reported recently, President Trump revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) alongside zinc after reports that many doctors are doing the same to help ward off Covid-19. Criticism of the President rose sharply after a non-randomised study published in the Lancet said that HCQ provided no benefit to hospitalised Covid-19 patients while being linked to increased deaths. What the mainstream media did not point out is that the Lancet study failed to test HCQ with zinc. Other experts have found zinc to be vital for efficacy in this context.

Zinc, available as an over-the-counter supplement, has long been seen as an immune-system booster that helps develop immune cells, or antibodies, and can strengthen the body’s response to a virus. American infectious disease specialist Joseph Rahimian explained that, in relation to Covid-19, zinc ‘does the heavy lifting and is the primary substance attacking the pathogen’. HCQ is said to work as a delivery systemfor zinc in fighting coronavirus. Ironically, the Lancet study came out at the same time as it was reported that India’s premier health body had expanded use of HCQ as a preventive for key workers following three studies showing positive results.

[..] ..a study by the New York University Grossman School of Medicine published this month [..] found that those receiving the triple-drug combination (HCQ, with azithromycin and, crucially, zinc) ‘were 44 per cent less likely to die, compared with the double-drug combination (i.e. without zinc)’. As the study notes:‘This study provides the first in vivo evidence that zinc sulfate in combination with hydroxychloroquine may play a role in therapeutic management for Covid-19.’ The above makes the question of why zinc was not used in the Lancet study more baffling. And why don’t the media note that the combination of zinc and HCQ is crucial?

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This sounds quite confused. “5G = communism”? Where do we start?

Yeah, 5G should be researched much more before it’s lanuched. But how can it turn COVID19 into a scam?

Australian Anti-Vaxxers Label COVID19 a ‘Scam’ At Anti-5G Protests (AAP)

Hundreds of anti-vaccination protesters have defied social distancing measures at rallies in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Protesters claiming the Covid-19 pandemic was a “scam” gathered at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday, and carried signs declaring they were against vaccines and 5G technology. Their placards claimed “5G = communism”, “Covid 1984” and “our ignorance is their strength”. They booed police – clad in gloves and face masks – who warned the crowd that they were breaching social distancing rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. In a statement, police said those found in breach of Covid-19 directions faced fines of $1,652 each.


In Sydney, up to 500 protesters voiced conspiracy theories regarding not only vaccination but also 5G telecommunication networks, fluoride and large pharmaceutical corporations. The group convened at Hyde Park in the CBD before holding a singalong of anti-vaccination songs and walking to NSW Parliament House. They chanted “freedom of choice” and “my body, my choice” on the march, with some attempting to raise the spectre of a “new world order”. The walk passed without incident or police intervention. When asked about the protest, Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said “there’s no message that can get through to people who have no belief in science”. “There’s probably no reaching them,” he earlier told reporters.

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Hey, you wanted a for-profit medical system.

States Are Copying & Pasting Immunity Laws For Nursing Home Execs (Sirota)

To date, 19 states have enacted some form of immunity for the hospital and nursing home industries during the pandemic. In general, these new policies shield nurses, doctors and other frontline health care workers from liability when they are treating COVID patients. However, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina go further: unlike other states, the identical language added to their laws explicitly define health care providers as including “a health care facility administrator, executive, supervisor, board member, trustee” or other corporate managers. That exact word-for-word clause appears in emergency legislation in all three states. In practice, it extends immunity to corporate officials who are not on the medical frontlines, but who are making life-and-death decisions across their companies.


“The new measures granting immunity to health care providers and professionals go well beyond protecting front-line workers from lawsuits — many also provide immunity to administrators who make unreasonable and dangerous, even lethal, decisions,” said Syracuse University law professor Nina Kohn. “New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina take protection for corporate owners and executives to a whole new level by explicitly granting immunity to board members, trustees, and directors.” “This is extraordinary protection which is in no way in the public interest,” Kohn said. “These states are explicitly and unabashedly giving for-profit corporations and corporate executives the green light to make unreasonable decisions that put vulnerable people in imminent danger, and letting them know that they don’t have to worry about being held legally accountable for the avoidable human damage that results.”

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Teaching the poor another lesson will always trump the pandemic.

De Blasio Ramps Up Destruction Of Homeless Encampments (Gothamist)

Trudi and Rickey Reppi live in a tent on a triangular stretch of sidewalk between three lanes of traffic by the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. The tent serves as a headquarters of sorts for a community of homeless people and panhandlers. Dave, Rob, Richard, Russia, and Seven all often sleep outside, some on mattresses or chairs, some on cardboard and bundled-up clothing. Others drop by frequently throughout the day, accepting packaged meals Trudi and Rickey had picked up from an aid organization (“Homeless people help each other way more than anyone in these hundred thousand dollar cars ever help us,” Trudi says) or fanning out, cardboard signs in hand, to ask passing drivers for money for hours on end.

The police arrive at about 9 a.m, flanked by outreach and Sanitation workers forming a team of around a dozen city employees. Trudi and Rickey wearily begin the weekly routine of taking down their tent, bundling up all the possessions they can carry, and leaving everything else on the side of the street for the Sanitation workers to throw away. For years, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been sending joint teams of NYPD officers, Sanitation workers, and Department of Homeless Services staff to require that homeless people move from locations where they’ve set up shelter. The number of sweeps (also called “clean-ups”) per week has risen dramatically in the last six months, according to homeless people, advocates and case workers.

A DHS employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that the team implementing the sweeps had increased last November from about 3 to about 40. The employee said that the clean-ups would be increasing to twice a week at most encampments; eventually, he suggested, homeless people would give in and accept shelter. Trudi says that she’s been subject to ten to fifteen sweeps in just the last three months. This count doesn’t include the nightly visits the NYPD has paid her in May, sending as many as nine police officers at 3 a.m. to demand that she take down her tent. “In my administration, we made a decision that from our point of view, it was unacceptable to have [a] single encampment anywhere in New York City and they had to be dismantled anytime they’re identified,” Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference earlier this month.

“And we’ve been doing that now for years and it’s really caused the encampments to become a rarity, but whenever we see a new one, we immediately take it down.” But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has explicitly recommended against clearing encampments or displacing unsheltered homeless people during the pandemic. “If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are,” the guidelines read. “Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

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The Netflix series on Epstein brings her to our attention again.

Still No One Knows Where Ghislaine Maxwell Is (Esq.)

Though multiple survivors have alleged that Maxwell participated in Epstein’s alleged crimes, she’s never been criminally charged. One thing that could stymie potential efforts to level charges against Maxwell is the infamous 2008 plea deal that Epstein struck with the US Attorney for Miami, Alexander Acosta, which found him serving just 13 months in prison after initially facing charges that could have garnered him a life sentence. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich producer Joe Berlinger described the deal to Esquire as “unprecedented, unheard of sweetheart deal” that “included a non-prosecution agreement for named and unnamed co-conspirators.”

In April, an appeals court upheld the 2007 deal, writing in its opinion that the decision was “not a result we like, but it’s the result we think the law requires.” Maxwell is currently suing Epstein’s estate for money for her legal fees, and for the price of private security, alleging that her “prior employment relationship” with Epstein has caused to her be subjected to death threats. Though once a fixture of the global high-society, Maxwell has been spotted rarely in recent years. Last summer, she was photographed at a Los Angeles In-N-Out Burger, though the authenticity of the photo has been disputed. Her New York townhouse was sold in 2016.

This month, it was reported that lawyers for accusers seeking to file a civil suit against Maxwell have been unable to locate her. According to ABC news, one alleged victim’s “legal team dispatched process servers to five addresses previously connected to Maxwell, including a multi-million dollar brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, an apartment building in Miami Beach and Epstein’s mansion on Palm Beach Island.” Maxwell is also contending with other civil lawsuits filed by alleged survivors. Just this month, she won the right to delay her questioning in a suit filed by Annie Farmer, the sister of fellow Epstein accuser Maria Farmer, on the grounds that her testimony could be used against her in a current criminal investigation. But with the FBI allegedly investigating Maxwell, her story could be far from over.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 292020
 


Edward Hopper Railroad crossing 1923

 

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)
Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)
Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)
7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)
Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)
The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)
EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)
Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)
China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)
Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)
Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)
US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)
Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)
Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)
Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)
Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

 

 

First Debt Rattle in a very long time without a direct virus article. Unfortunately that’s not going to last. New global cases set a new record at 119,000.

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,618
• Brazil + 26,417
• Russia + 8,572
• UK 4,938
• India + 7,466
• Peru + 5,874
• Chile + 4,654

New deaths past 24 hours in:

• US + 1,230
• Brazil + 1,294
• Mexico + 447
• UK + 446
• Peru + 3,984(?!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 5,932,180 (+ 118,941 from yesterday’s 5,813,239)

Deaths 362,614 (+ 4,721 from yesterday’s 357,893)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

You start a piece with a headline that says everyone’s broke, and then list all the billions in extra savings. Why?

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)

When was the last time you filled up the car? Bought a train ticket? Paid an air fare? Ordered a new sofa? Or even just bought a latte or booked the cinema? Days now go by when I do not spend one pence. And I know I’m far from alone. Figures emerging across Europe reveal that forced saving is happening on an unprecedented scale. French savers put aside nearly €20bn (£16.2bn) in March, compared with the monthly average before coronavirus of €3.8bn. The Italians were much the same, adding €16.8bn to savings accounts, or five times the monthly average of €3.4bn. In the UK, the Bank of England says bank deposits soared by £13.1bn in March, a record monthly rise.

Unorthodox spending patterns abound. GoCompare reckons UK drivers spent £267m less on petrol during the strictest phase of the lockdown. Retail data company Kantar says we are spending a lot more on online groceries but £1bn less on the likes of those £3 sandwich, crisps and juice lunch deals popular in Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. Nationwide says four out of 10 of its customers have more disposable income than before the crisis. The better off are almost wallowing in spare cash. Even after assuming we are spending 20% more on food and alcohol, stockbroker Peel Hunt reckons upper-middle-class households in the UK (those in the ninth decile of income distribution) have cut their disposable spending by just over half.

It estimates that across the entire economy, households in 2020 will save £120.8bn, compared with £38.2bn in 2019, a gigantic increase. That’s a cool £82bn extra kicking around in savings and current accounts. [..] The stockbroking firm at least has the good grace to note we’re not all in this together. “The beneficiaries are skewed towards the top end of the income distribution. Lower-income earners are more likely to work in sectors most affected by job losses and reduced working hours. They also spend a greater proportion of their income on essentials,” it says. So what’s going to happen with all this money? These involuntary savings are entirely the product of the pandemic rather than frugality so we might expect them to go back down to normal levels when the crisis is over and pent-up demand is satisfied.

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@Jack is in trouble.

Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms, a marked escalation of his lengthy feud with Silicon Valley over allegations of anti-conservative bias. The brunt of the order is focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them cover to make good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms. Trump’s order directs an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify the scope of Section 230, a proposition that has already drawn rebukes from the two Democratic members of the five-person commission.

Another section of the order would encourage federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising. Trump, joined by Attorney General William Barr, addressed reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon before signing the executive order. “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly, and you know what’s going on as well as anybody. It’s not good,” Trump told reporters. The president accused social media companies of having “unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.” He also said that if he were able to shut Twitter down, he would.

Trump and Barr indicated that legislation on Section 230 could be coming soon in Congress. Barr did not provide further details, while Trump suggested they could just “remove or totally change 230.” When asked about the possibility of a legal challenge to the order, Trump said, “I guess it’s going to be challenged in court, but what isn’t?”

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The victim and the killer had worked together as bouncers in a bar for 17 years.

Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)

Peaceful rallies gave way to a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in Minneapolis on Thursday as protesters vented their rage over the death of a black man seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck. The latest spasm of unrest in Minnesota’s largest city went largely unchecked, despite Governor Tim Walz ordering the National Guard activated to help restore order following the first two days of disturbances sparked by Monday night’s fatal arrest of George Floyd, 46. In contrast with Wednesday night, when rock-throwing demonstrators clashed repeatedly with police in riot gear, law enforcement kept a low profile around the epicenter of the unrest, outside the city’s Third Precinct police station.

Protesters massing outside the building briefly retreated under volleys of police tear gas and rubber bullets fired at them from the roof, only to reassemble and eventually attack the building head on, setting fire to the structure as police seemed to withdraw. Protesters were later observed on the roof. The city authority warned about ‘unconfirmed’ reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct police station were cut and that there were other explosives in the building. It appealed to people to retreat from the building.A car and at least two other buildings in the vicinity were also set ablaze, and looters returned for a second night to a nearby Target discount store, left boarded up and vacant from the previous night, to make off with whatever remained inside. Fire officials said 16 buildings were torched on Wednesday night.

President Donald Trump on Twitter said that he will send the National Guard troops and “get the job done right” if Mayor Jacob Frey failed to bring the city under control. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote in tweets posted late midnight.

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Louisville, Dallas, New York.

7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)

Seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, one of whom was in critical condition, during protests that turned violent Thursday night, police said. Circumstances of the shootings were not immediately clear, and a police spokesman called the situation downtown fluid early Friday. Officers were not involved in the shootings, Police Sgt. Lamont Washington said. No other details were immediately available from police. Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video statement early Friday that seven people were shot “from within the crowd” and no police officers fired their weapons. Five were in good condition, two were sent to surgery, he said, adding “my prayers are with all of them.”


The violence happened as hundreds had gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed by Louisville police this spring. “What we are seeing tonight in this community is the obvious frustration of the tension between police and residents,” police special adviser Jessie Halladay said earlier in a video call. “What started out as a peaceful protest earlier this evening is now escalating into property damage, more aggressive action, and we’ve just heard reports of shots fired in the crowd,” she said at the time. She said that in addition to property damage bottles had been thrown at officers.

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If confused about the logic, see next article.

Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)

Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first. “Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn’t mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death,” said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company’s assets before plundering.


“I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn’t just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It’s disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There’s a right way and wrong way to do this.” At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers.

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The looters should copy Carl Icahn.

The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)

On June 30, 2016, Carl Icahn led a restructuring of “Old Hertz”, where the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation (HERC) was split off from the car rental operations (Hertz Global Holdings). Each became a separate publicly-traded company (Icahn with 39% equity stake in Hertz and a 15% stake in HERC), each installed an Icahn-controlled board (not “controlled” in a legal sense, but controlled sure enough), and each started taking on massive amounts of debt. How much debt? Well, HERC has about $2.1 billion in long-term debt, against an equity market cap of only $830 million (and that’s more than twice what it was at the March lows). The equity position is what we might call a stub … a small piece of the enterprise value of the overall corporation (debt + equity – cash). If you want to understand HERC as an equity investment, you better focus your analysis on that debt position and how the company can support that kind of leverage!


As for the debt levels at Hertz … LOL. Hertz has more than $19 billion in long-term debt, against a market cap that was (at its 2019 peak!) about $2.1 billion. Now there’s a stub for you. It’s hard for me to adequately convey the playground that an insanely levered rental company – whether it rents cars or construction equipment – provides for a financialization genius like Carl Icahn. Between asset depreciation assumptions, cost of capital assumptions, and the ability to securitize or otherwise move assets off your balance sheet … the accounting cookie jar that a rental company gives Icahn is otherworldly. Keep in mind, too, that in 2017 – more than a year after Icahn took control – Hertz was forced to report that management had “identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.”

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Well, actually, the UE has no mechanism with which to rapidly agree on this.

EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)

European leaders are in no mood to follow the United States in threatening trade sanctions against China as it moves to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, although foreign ministers will meet on Friday to try to hack out a common position. China’s top legislature on Thursday voted to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, sparking concerns that Beijing will limit the autonomy granted by the “one country, two systems” principle that followed the end of British rule in 1997. The US, Canada, Australia and Britain condemned Beijing’s step, hailing Hong Kong as a “bastion of freedom,” while Britain held open the prospect of citizenship for more Hongkongers if Beijing presses ahead.

But despite growing tensions over the former British colony, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician, insisted she still wants the European Union to reach a landmark investment agreement with China this year. And while US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the US would be announcing new US policies on Friday as “we are not happy with China” after his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already cast doubt on Hong Kong’s continued preferential trading status, the EU stuck to traditional diplomatic expressions of concern. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he had “deep concern” about Thursday’s move.

He has previously insisted Brussels “attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” but said this week he did not think “sanctions against China are going to be a solution for our problems”. Merkel also said the EU, the world’s biggest trade bloc, needed to maintain a “critical and constructive” dialogue, with trade retaliation not on the agenda when European foreign ministers meet on Friday. “Sanctions are not on the table, our relations with the Chinese are simply too important,” one senior EU diplomat said. The senior EU diplomat added that Hong Kong could be “a game changer” as questions increase about the rule of law in a city of 7 million people that is the base for many European investors in the region.

But the key issue is whether China’s power grab in Hong Kong will weigh on the EU’s investment agreement with China. Germany wants the deal to be concluded at an EU-China summit in the German city of Leipzig in September, although the agreement was already in trouble even before the latest flare-up in Hong Kong. Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to the EU and a former ambassador to China, admitted earlier this month that talks were stuck over market access rights for European companies.

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Europe’s Council on Foreign Relations likes a hard line.

Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)

Both international and Chinese companies have long benefitted from the framework of ‘one country, two systems’. It has allowed business to take place outside the direct access of Beijing’s tight authoritarian control of people and capital on the mainland. For decades Hong Kong has enjoyed special privileges in international trade and has thus been one of Asia’s most vibrant economic and financial hubs. Beijing’s alteration of the status quo will likely provoke a US response in the form of sanctions against China or the cancellation of Hong Kong’s special economic privileges. The attempt to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city will no doubt hurt Chinese businesses and elites, but it will likely hurt Western companies even more, as they have long relied on Hong Kong’s excellent business conditions as an invaluable gateway to the Chinese market.


Amid the global pandemic and rising US-China tensions, the push on Hong Kong was foreseeable, but still somewhat unexpected. The Chinese government has likely judged that now is the perfect time to complete some unfinished business. China is intensifying its patrols and creating new administrative structures in the South China Sea. It has increased sabre-rattling towards Taiwan. And Chinese military forces have reportedly entered into Indian territory along the Sino-Indian border, where stand-offs and limited skirmishes have lately occurred on a more regular basis. While the coronavirus has effectively pressed the pause button on the world economy, China’s policymakers have hit fast-forward on restoring ‘territorial integrity’ and dominance in Asia. For Europe, this comes at the worst possible moment.

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If need be under grave threat.

China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)

The head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Friday that “one country, two systems” and “peaceful reunification” is the best way to bring China and Taiwan together. Outside attempts by foreign forces to interfere in “reunification” will fail, Liu Jieyi told an event at the Great Hall of the People marking 15 years since China signed into law its Anti-Secession Law. Beijing passed the law in 2005 which authorises the use of force against Taiwan if China judges it to have seceded.

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Two different voices saying the same thing. Agenda much?

Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)

China will attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, one of the country’s most senior generals said on Friday, in a rhetorical escalation from China aimed at the democratic island Beijing claims as its own. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law, Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law gives the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or seems about to, making the narrow Taiwan Strait a potential military flashpoint.


“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions,” Li said. “We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” he added. Although China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, it is rare for a top, serving military officer to so explicitly make the threat in a public setting. The comments are especially striking amid international opprobrium over China passing new national security legislation for Chinese-run Hong Kong.

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Five Eyes alliance. They should ban 5G until it’s been properly researched.

Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)

Britain is seeking an international alliance to supply Brits with 5G internet and break China’s monopoly over the network. The Government is driving forward plans for 10 democratic countries to work together and find a new provider for the superfast internet. Ministers want the UK to form a club of nations, dubbed the ‘D10’, to fund technology companies and find a 5G supplier to replace Huawei. The PM approved plans for the Chinese company to build part of the UK’s new internet network in January, despite pressure from MPs and the US government. The D10 club would see G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – join forces with Australia, South Korea and India to find another company to build the 5G network.


The UK has already approached Washington with the plan, the Times has reported. A source told the newspaper: “We need new entrants to the market. That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time.” It comes amid rising tensions between the UK and China, with the Government accusing the Communist state of covering up coronavirus. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said in March that China “was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this disease.” Nokia and Ericsson are the only two companies in Europe that are currently supplying 5G infrastructure, but it is believed they could not build the network as quickly as Huawei.

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Feels like Vito Corleone taking the Tattaglia family to court.

US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)

A U.S. judge on Thursday said institutional investors, including BlackRock and PIMCO, can pursue much of their lawsuit accusing 15 major banks of rigging prices in the $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan said the nearly 1,300 plaintiffs, including many mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, plausibly alleged that the banks conspired to rig currency benchmarks from 2003 to 2013 and profit at their expense. “This is an injury of the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent,” Schofield wrote in a 40-page decision.


The banks, which sometimes controlled more than 90% of the market, included Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered and UBS or various affiliates. In their complaint, the plaintiffs accused the banks of improperly sharing confidential orders and trading positions, and using chat rooms with such names as “The Cartel,” “The Mafia” and “The Bandits’ Club.” Banks were also accused of using deceptive trading tactics such as “front running,” “banging the close” and “taking out the filth.” [..] The litigation began in November 2018, after the plaintiffs “opted out” of similar nationwide litigation that had resulted in $2.31 billion of settlements with most of the banks.

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Sorry to see this. Finish what you start.

Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)

Former presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard dropped her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential election are more important than her legal claims. In court papers filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday, Gabbard wrote that, while her claims have merit, it’s better to “focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here.” Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, sued Clinton in January, claiming the former first lady defamed her by calling her a “Russian asset” during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.


“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” Gabbard’s Manhattan federal lawsuit read. “In October 2019 — whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated — Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent,” it added. Clinton had refused to walk back comments she made during a 2019 appearance on a podcast, in which she referred to Gabbard as a “favorite of the Russians.” “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” Clinton told “Campaign HQ” host and former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

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Where the real danger resides.

Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)

Congress has been embroiled in debate over the potential renewal of three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 spying bill that has been harshly criticized by civil liberties advocates for almost two decades. At issue in Congress is the fact that Section 215 of the Patriot Act (the provision once secretly reinterpreted by the FISA court to authorize the NSA’s mass phone surveillance program) allows the Trump administration to gather the internet browsing and search histories of Americans without a warrant. Sen. Ron Wyden had proposed an amendment that would require federal authorities to get a probable cause warrant before ever accessing this data.

It seemed like a popular no-brainer: Web browsing and search history is some of the most sensitive content online, and internet privacy has never been a bigger concern to the public. But in a dramatic vote two weeks ago, the Senate roll call on Wyden’s amendment fell just one vote short of the 60-member threshold from passing. With two Democratic caucus members — Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray — missing the vote, the final tally was 59 for and 37 against. The outrage was swift. Even in the Covid-saturated media environment, dozens of news outlets covered the controversy, and the reaction from constituents across the country then came pouring in. Civil liberties organizations immediately mobilized their supporters to contact members of the House, which still must vote on the final bill before it goes to Trump’s desk for a signature.

The pressure worked. Later that same day, Senators voted to pass another amendment that has the potential to reform the secretive FISA court in a significant way. And the House’s privacy advocates felt emboldened to push House leadership to hold a vote on the Wyden amendment during its debate of the Patriot Act bill this week. At the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a bipartisan team of House representatives — led by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Republican Rep. Warren Davidson — negotiated for three days with Schiff on the exact language of the amendment. Lofgren and Davidson wanted an up and down vote on Wyden’s version that failed in the Senate by one vote, but Schiff reportedly resisted. The sides reached a compromise late Tuesday afternoon.

Schiff pushed for a change to the amendment so that warrant protections would only cover “U.S. persons,” a definition that would exclude millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, including the thousands of DACA recipients, who are at particular risk of surveillance under the Trump administration. Even with the weakened language, Wyden supported the bill, while emphasizing in a statement that the bill’s language meant that if there was any possibility of Trump collecting U.S. persons’ data, then the administration had to get a warrant.

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The judge will get roasted. Nobody agrees with the move.

Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)

More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges and active trial lawyers filed a brief backing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to dismiss the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The bipartisan group of former government attorneys are asking U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan for them to formally file an amicus brief on the case. The group includes former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). “The issue presented in this case is whether the court has discretion to deny a motion to dismiss to which the defendant consents, as Gen. Flynn has done here. The answer is no,” the attorneys wrote.


Attorney General William Barr requested that the Justice Department drop the charges against Flynn of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia shortly before Trump took office. The attorneys argue that Sullivan does not have the legal right to override the decision from the prosecutor — in this case the DOJ — to dismiss a case they are prosecuting. “There is simply no basis upon which this Court can review and deny the Government’s motion to dismiss, to which the defense has consented,” they wrote. Earlier this month, 16 former Watergate prosecutors also asked Sullivan for permission to weigh in on the case. The attorneys argued that given the DOJ’s decision to dismiss Flynn’s criminal prosecution — despite his 2017 guilty pleas — the department cannot be counted on to give the court a fair and complete presentation of the issues raised by the move.

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History lessons are always good.

Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

You’re living in a pandemic. Public health officials recommend new measures every few days: avoid crowds, open windows, wear a mask. Schools close, theaters go dark, even churches shut their doors. But at least the restaurants are open! The year is 1918—maybe not so much like 2020 after all. For years, centuries even, we took restaurants for granted; it is news to most people that they had to be invented (I write about this history in my book The Invention of the Restaurant). As a child, it made sense to me that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone—as we learned in school, “progress” meant currently familiar technologies had all started at some point in the past. Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine. These people were all famous because they invented a new thing. But that social and cultural forms had a history, that not just individual eateries but the entire category of restaurants might be new at one point and non-existent at another? Go figure.

Now it appears that restaurants may not only have a start date, but an end date as well. Born of Enlightenment medical sensibility (the first restaurateurs sold restorative broths and marketed their products especially to people with “weak and delicate chests”), restaurants as we knew them just six months ago may well be a thing of the past—killed off, or at least radically altered, by the current pandemic. For more than 200 years, restaurants have been public places where people go to be private: to sit at their own tables, have their own conversations, eat their own meals. But even that limited degree of interaction violates the social distancing guidelines widely in place today.

Operating in most cases with small profit margins—this month’s customers pay next month’s rent—few restaurants can afford two weeks (much less months) of forced closure. Estimates are that 75 percent of independently owned restaurants may never re-open. Without them, bakeries, specialty farmers, and wine distributors are likely to be in serious trouble as well. While most authorities in the United States today agreed on restaurants closures as a vital public-health measure, their counterparts during the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic saw things differently. A hundred years ago, it seemed obvious that crowds would form along parade routes, in public parks, at revival or club meetings—but not in restaurants.

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