Sep 182020
 
 September 18, 2020  Posted by at 9:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  30 Responses »


Fred Stein Paris evening 1934

 

COVID – Why Terminology Really, Really Matters (Kendrick)
Biden Nearly 5 Times More Likely than Trump to Win Election (NW)
Where Is Biden’s Ground Game? (TMI)
In 2016 Call Joe Biden Risked National Security To Sabotage Trump (Fed.)
Lindsey Graham: Comey To Testify Before Senate, Mueller ‘Declined’ (Fox)
Investigation Into Princeton After President Says Racism ‘Embedded’ (WE)
Wray: Russia Actively Interfering In 2020 Election To ‘Denigrate’ Biden (CNN)
China Only G20 Country With Positive Economic Output This Year – OECD (SCMP)
China ‘Acknowledges Scale Of Xinjiang Camps’ As US Applies Pressure (SCMP)
World Bank Warns Recovery Could Take “Five Years” (ZH)
Assange Hearing Day 11 (Craig Murray)
Assange Court Hears About History Of Prosecutions Under Espionage Act (Gosztola)
I Found Assange Paranoid, Crazy–Then His Methods Became Standard Practice (TH)
Noam Chomsky: World Is At The Most Dangerous Moment In Human History (NSM)

 

 

Global new daily cases continue to rise. The US has less than have as many new daily cases as India does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And they say Trump’s a liar….

Biden: All the people would still be alive. Look at the data!

 

 

Carson on Biden 1987

 

 

Excellent. Must read, all of it. Not that I agree there should never have been a lockdown, but it always should have been short. And now we know much more than 6-7 months ago, lockdowns are less appropriate.

But instead now what we see is not a single politician has any idea what to do anymore, so there’ll be more lockdowns, the only thing they know. And that leads to reaction.

COVID – Why Terminology Really, Really Matters (Kendrick)

Whilst everyone is panicking about the ever-increasing number of cases, we should be celebrating them. They are demonstrating, very clearly, that COVID is far, far, less deadly then was feared. The Infection Fatality Rate is most likely going to end up around 0.1%, not 1%. So yes, it does seem that ‘the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza.’ Wise words, wise words indeed. Words that were written by one Anthony S Fauci on the 28th of February 2020. If you haven’t heard of him, look him up. Critically though, eleven days after this, he rather blotted his copybook, because he went on to say this “The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This (COVID) has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this.”

The mortality rate Dr Fauci? Could it possibly be that he failed to understand that there is no such thing as a mortality rate? Did he mean the case fatality rate, or the infection fatality rate? If he meant the Infection mortality rate of influenza, he was pretty much bang on. If he meant the case fatality rate, he was wrong by a factor of ten. The reality is that, no matter what Fauci went on to say, severe influenza has a case fatality rate of 1%, and so does COVID. They also have approximately the same infection fatality fate of 0.1%. It seems that Dr Fauci just got mixed up with the terminology. Because in his Journal article eleven days earlier, he did state… ‘This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza… [and here is the kicker at the end] (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).’

You see, he did say the case fatality rate of influenza was approximately 0.1%. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong… wrong. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. With influenza, Dr Fauci, the CDC, his co-authors, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health and the New England Journal of Medicine got case fatality rate and infection fatality rate mixed up with influenza. Easy mistake to make. Could have done it myself. But didn’t. You want to know where Imperial College London really got their 1% infection fatality rate figure from? It seems clear that they got it from Anthony S Fauci and the New England Journal of Medicine. The highest impact journal in the world – which should have the highest impact proof-readers in the world. But clearly does not.

Imperial College then used this wrong NEJM influenza case fatality rate 0.1%. It seems that they then compared this 0.1% figure to the reported COVID case fatality rate, estimated to be 1% and multiplied the impact of COVID by ten – as you would. As you probably should. So, we got Lockdown. The US used the Fauci figure and got locked down. The world used that figure and got locked down. That figure just happens to be ten times too high.

Read more …

Forever amazing that the polling industry got just about everything wrong in 2016, and hasn’t lost a beat. They might as well get things wrong on purpose now, what’s the difference?

Biden Nearly 5 Times More Likely than Trump to Win Election (NW)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is the odds-on favorite to win the U.S. election against President Donald Trump, according to an average of 7 different forecast models released on Thursday. Presidential elections in the U.S. are not decided by who gets the most votes. In order to actually win the contest, a candidate must receive a majority of votes in the Electoral College. There are a total of 538 individuals from each state who decide which candidate becomes president. Candidates need at least 270 Electoral College votes to clinch the presidency. While those electors often follow the popular vote, that has not always been the case. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote against Trump, gaining 48.2 percent of the vote to Trump’s 46.1 percent.


However, Trump picked up 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232 votes, making Trump the president. In each of Thursday’s seven election forecast models, Biden was projected to win both the popular vote and the Electoral College. As averaged together by the website Election Dice, those models predicted that Trump has a 17.9 percent chance of winning while Biden has an 81.8 percent chance of winning. Biden’s odds of victory are projected to be nearly five times greater than that of President Trump’s. Data from The Economist showed Biden holding an 8-point lead over Trump, 54 percent to 46 percent respectively. Biden was projected to get 335 votes in the Electoral College, more than the 270 votes needed to become president. Trump was projected to receive 203 electoral votes.

Read more …

This has puzzled me for a while, the story keeps on popping up. No ground game.

Where Is Biden’s Ground Game? (TMI)

As Joe Biden’s campaign faces questions about its lackadaisical outreach strategy, the former vice president’s campaign manager boasted on Tuesday about the campaign’s growing volunteer program. But Biden’s volunteer operation is still smaller than the one built during the primary by Bernie Sanders, with just seven weeks to go until the general election. Democrats in swing states have started voicing concerns that the Biden campaign has not opened any standalone offices in battleground states and — unlike down-ballot Democrats — isn’t knocking doors. Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon defended their outreach program on Tuesday in a live interview with Politico.

“We spend so much time talking about tactics, but, fundamentally, knocking on a door and not reaching anyone doesn’t get you much except leaving a piece of lit behind,” O’Malley Dillon said. “You might as well send a piece of mail.” She added: “We have 2,500 new volunteers that join the campaign every day.” Like the Sanders campaign, the Biden campaign organizes its volunteer network over Slack in several channels, including one for general intake, one for texters, and another for phone bankers. Screenshots obtained by TMI show the campaign’s volunteer Slack was still lagging behind the Sanders program as of Tuesday. The Biden volunteer slack had roughly 62,000 in the general intake channel, 16,000 in the text channel, and 23,000 in the call channel on Tuesday.

The numbers represent a substantial increase from early this month, when there were 37,000 volunteers in the Biden general intake channel — but still well short of the Sanders slack, which still had about 71,000 volunteers, even though the progressive senator officially dropped out of the presidential race in April. The Biden campaign has not exactly made volunteering easy. Last Wednesday, actress and activist Susan Sarandon pointed out that the volunteer section on the campaign’s website was badly outdated. As Sarandon noted, the “organizing tool kit” had been rolled over from the primaries and was not updated for the general. The campaign updated the site to fix the issue last Thursday.

Polls have consistently shown Biden ahead of President Donald Trump both nationally and at the state level as well as in terms of favorability. But below the surface, the numbers are less secure — the races in most key swing states are still close. Throughout his campaign Biden has struggled to generate voter enthusiasm — a metric which proved vital in 2016. Leading into the conventions, Biden trailed Trump by 30 points in terms of enthusiasm, although the gap had been steadily narrowing. Following the conventions, the difference shrunk to 9 points, though Biden did not get a post-convention polling bounce. Biden’s support among Latino voters is lower than Clinton’s was and young voters remain largely unenthusiastic about their choices in November. The youth vote was critical to former President Barack Obama’s winning coalition and youth participation in politics has been trending upwards.

Read more …

Biden and Ukraine. Someone should ask the Ukrainians what happened.

In 2016 Call Joe Biden Risked National Security To Sabotage Trump (Fed.)

A recently leaked phone call between then-Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko directly after the 2016 presidential election shows that Biden sought to sabotage the incoming Trump administration before Donald Trump even took office, and much worse. During the course of the call, Biden badmouthed the incoming administration, saying, “The truth of the matter is that the incoming administration doesn’t know a great deal about [Ukraine]” and that they were unprepared for the transition. This in itself is inappropriate, but it was meant to set the stage for Biden’s next statement and future plans. Biden then told Poroshenko, “I don’t plan on going away. As a private citizen, I plan on staying deeply engaged in the endeavor that you have begun and we have begun.”

In a matter of moments, Biden undermined the incoming administration, branded them as not knowing anything about Ukraine, and attempted to set up a foreign policy backchannel for himself after he left office as a private citizen, which could violate the Logan Act. The Logan Act bars private citizens from engaging in U.S. foreign policy, although its constitutionality remains questionable and no person has ever been convicted of violating it since it was signed into law in 1799. Ironically, this is the same act that, at Joe Biden’s suggestion, the FBI accused National Security Advisor Michael Flynn of violating as a result of a discussion Flynn had with the Russian ambassador to the United States around nearly the same time as Biden’s call with Poroshenko.

To fortify his position and to make Poroshenko more confident that he should continue to deal with Biden once he left office, in the call Biden also intimated that there is a problem with the incoming administration: “The reason I bother to tell you that is I have been somewhat limited on what I am able to tell their team about Ukraine.” While Biden blamed this on a late start to the transition process, we now know he said this at the same time the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies were conducting a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” of which Ukraine was a part.

Since it was leaked by a Ukrainian member of Parliament, the phone call was obviously recorded by the Ukrainians, and almost certainly by Russian intelligence services. Biden would have been aware of this from his time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as vice president.

Read more …

Not sure that Graham is the one you want to do the investigation, but let’s see.

Lindsey Graham: Comey To Testify Before Senate, Mueller ‘Declined’ (Fox)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify on his own volition before the panel in regard to “Crossfire Hurricane” — the counterintelligence investigation into whether President Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election. Graham told “Hannity” that Comey will appear September 30th without necessitating a subpoena: “The day of reckoning is upon us when it comes to Crossfire Hurricane,” he said. “I appreciate Mr. Comey coming before the committee and he will be respectfully treated but asked hard questions. We are negotiating with [former Deputy FBI Director Andrew] McCabe; we are hoping to get him without a subpoena — time will tell.”

Graham however expressed dismay that the former special counsel behind the Russia investigation’s published report, ex-FBI chief, Robert Mueller, refused to appear on his own accord. “Mueller has declined the invitation to the committee to appear to explain his report,” Graham said. “[Mueller] says he doesn’t have enough time.” Host Sean Hannity asked whether Graham will accept that Mueller declined his invitation, noting recent reporting that Justice Department records showed the special counsel’s team’s cell phones were “wiped” during the Trump probe. The records show at least several dozen phones were wiped of information because of forgotten passcodes, irreparable screen damage, loss of the device, intentional deletion or other reasons — before the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) could review the devices.

Graham called that development “fishy as hell” and added he will call on the DOJ and its inspector general to look into the incidents. “We’ve invited [Peter] Strzok to come — he’s selling a book,” he added of the September 30 hearing. “[W]e will see if he will come without a subpoena. But I look forward to this hearing and I think it will be important to the American people.”

Read more …

Oh, really? Let’s see some examples. And then link those to things you’ve said in the past.

Investigation Into Princeton After President Says Racism ‘Embedded’ (WE)

The Department of Education has informed Princeton University that it is under investigation following the school president’s declaration that racism was “embedded” in the institution. President Christopher Eisgruber published an open letter earlier this month claiming that “racism and the damage it does to people of color persist at Princeton” and that “racist assumptions” are “embedded in structures of the University itself.” According to a letter the Department of Education sent to Princeton that was obtained by the Washington Examiner, such an admission from Eisgruber raises concerns that Princeton has been receiving tens of millions of dollars of federal funds in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which declares that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Eisgruber’s letter branding the 274-year-old university racist came after a summer of unrest rife with race riots and an open letter from hundreds of Princeton faculty members who wrote, “Anti-Black racism has a visible bearing upon Princeton’s campus makeup.” The admission was followed by dozens of “anti-racist” policy change demands. Among them were calls for select faculty race quotas and to “reconsider” the use of standardized testing for admissions. Now, the Education Department has sent a formal records request as it pursues its investigation. Its main point of contention is whether Princeton has lied to the public with its marketing and to the department in its promise not to uphold racist standards, in accordance with receiving federal funds.

“Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false,” the letter reads. “The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made. [..] What the department seeks to obtain from its investigation is what evidence Princeton used in its determination that the university is racist, including all records regarding Eisgruber’s letter and a “spreadsheet identifying each person who has, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, been excluded from participation in, been denied the benefits of, or been subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance as a result of the Princeton racism or ‘damage’ referenced in the President’s Letter.”

Read more …

While Iran and China do the same with Trump. No American voter is safe. Or something in that vein. Evidence? Sorry, that’s classified.

Wray: Russia Actively Interfering In 2020 Election To ‘Denigrate’ Biden (CNN)

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that Russia has been “very active” in its efforts to influence US elections, with the primary goal being to “denigrate” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray told lawmakers that Russia is primarily interfering through “malign foreign influence in an effort to hurt Biden’s campaign” — echoing the intelligence community’s public assessment on Moscow’s meddling efforts issued last month. Wray’s comments come as President Donald Trump and several other top administration officials have recently attempted to play up the theory that China is meddling to get Biden elected, while downplaying well-founded reports that Russia is trying to help Trump win again, like it did in 2016.

Foreign election interference efforts differ from what was observed in 2016, when there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, Wray said. “We have not seen that second part yet this year or this cycle, but we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020,” he added. According to Wray, Russia is using social media, proxies, state media and online journals to sow “divisiveness and discord” and “primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.” Intelligence officials have said they have uncovered evidence that Russia is currently interfering in the election to hurt Biden’s campaign.

Separately, some evidence has already emerged about Moscow’s efforts, including Facebook’s announcement earlier this month that a troll group that was part of Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election is trying to target Americans again. But while the intelligence community has assessed that China and Iran prefer Trump to lose in November, officials have offered no indication, to date, that either country is acting on that preference in the same way as Russia, according to public statements issued by the intelligence community and sources familiar with the underlying evidence.

Read more …

Michael Pettis:: “There is a very important point buried in this article. In June the OECD (like many others) calculated that China’s GDP would shrink sharply in 2020 – by 3.7% in their case. They are now projecting that it will grow by 1.7%.”

My question: how much of this is due to overproduction, the Silk and Road to nowhere?

China Only G20 Country With Positive Economic Output This Year – OECD (SCMP)

The rapid speed with which China tackled the coronavirus outbreak domestically allowed for the timely easing of strict confinement measures and the reopening of businesses, helping the Chinese economy rebound more quickly than originally expected, according to the latest forecast by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). While a gradual recovery of the global economy is projected to continue for the next 18 months, the pace will vary from nation to nation, with a significant upwards revision to the growth outlook for China. The intergovernmental economic organisation predicted that China’s economy will expand by 1.8 per cent in 2020, and 8 per cent in 2021.

The group attributed this to a better-than-expected recovery, with activity returning quickly to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the second quarter, fuelled by strong infrastructure investment. That is a significant upwards revision from its June’s projection that the Chinese economy would contract by 3.7 per cent this year and grow by 4.5 per cent in 2021. “China is the only G20 country in which output is projected to rise in 2020,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said, referring to the organisation of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 individual countries and the European Union. He pointed to China’s “rapid control of the virus and the policy support provided to enable a quick rebound in activity”.

[..] Boone cautioned that China’s recovery will be less of a driver for global growth than in the 2008 financial crisis, “because China is now much less export-driven and is importing much less capital. It is resting much more on consumption as a driving force. So, this means that the countries that used to export to China would do less in this recovery”. Nevertheless, the Paris-based policy forum said a gradual global recovery was under way after the unprecedented shock. For example, household spending on many consumer durables, including cars, has bounced back relatively quickly, as pent-up demand accumulated while strict confinement measures were in force. China’s pickup in demand has helped strengthen commodity prices while improving risk appetite in financial markets, OECD said. But uncertainty remains high, and consumer confidence is still weak.

Read more …

“..provided “vocational training” to nearly 1.3 million workers..”

China ‘Acknowledges Scale Of Xinjiang Camps’ As US Applies Pressure (SCMP)

China released a white paper on Thursday claiming that its far western Xinjiang region has provided “vocational training” to nearly 1.3 million workers every year on average from 2014 to 2019. It comes as Beijing is facing mounting criticism from Western countries and human rights groups over its policies in the region, where it is believed to have detained at least 1 million Uygurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities in internment camps. China has been accused of subjecting detainees to political indoctrination and forced labour in the camps, but it has denied the allegations and insisted they are “vocational training centres” where people learn language and job skills. Observers said the white paper from the State Council, China’s cabinet, could be the first time the authorities had “indirectly” confirmed the scale of the camps.


Titled “Employment and Labour Rights in Xinjiang”, the white paper said the regional government had organised “employment-oriented training on standard spoken and written Chinese, legal knowledge, general know-how for urban life and labour skills” to improve the structure of the workforce and combat poverty. It had provided vocational training to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers every year from 2014 to 2019, the white paper said, apparently not using the Chinese government’s five-year planning period as the reporting time frame. Of those workers, about 451,400 were from southern Xinjiang – an area it said struggled with extreme poverty, poor access to education and a lack of job skills because residents were influenced by “extremist thoughts”.

Read more …

It could also be 2, or 20. It’s just that we have so many high-paid economists on our payroll, we need to come out with something from time to time, or people might start thinking we’re completely irrelevant.

World Bank Warns Recovery Could Take “Five Years” (ZH)

Global economic activity around the world has stabilized in mid-September, though far below pre-COVID-19 levels as recoveries risk reversing if monetary and fiscal stimulus is not continued at rates seen in the first half of 2020. We noted Wednesday, a new OECD report offered some hope the global downturn is not as severe as previously thought but is still viewed as an “unprecedented” decline. We also noted the OECD report is problematic for policy-makers who have unleashed easy-money policies during the pandemic to artificially inflate economies and boost risk assets, as policy support in the second half of the year might not be as great as what was seen earlier in the year (as is currently playing out in Washington with the prospect of a slimmed-down stimulus bill getting slimmer).

So with waning support from central banks and fiscal stimulus from governments, the quick rebound seen in the global economy has likely stalled, and the shape of the recovery will no longer resemble a “V” but more of a “W” or “U” or “L.” For more color on the shape of the global recovery, or rather perhaps how long the recovery will last, chief economist of the World Bank, Carmen Reinhart, warned Thursday, a full recovery could take upwards of five years, reported El País. “There will probably be a quick rebound as all the restriction measures linked to lockdowns are lifted, but a full recovery will take as much as five years,” Reinhart said, while speaking at a conference in Madrid, Spain. Reinhart said (as quoted by Reuters), “the pandemic-caused recession will last longer in some countries than in others and will increase inequalities as the poorest will be harder hit by the crisis in rich countries and the poorest countries will be harder hit than richer countries.”


“Central banks have tried to provide liquidity to avoid affecting more households. But as much as central banks give support, there are businesses that will not return, there are closed restaurants or stores that will not reopen, there are homes that will take a long time to find employment, there are airlines or hotels that will not survive a long period without normal mobility. There are going to be a lot of bankruptcies: if you look at the credit rating agencies, S&P, Moody’s, Fitch, the amount of reduction in credit quality that has been seen since the beginning of the year, both at the corporate and sovereign levels, has been a record. And central banks are not all-powerful either: no matter how much credit support is given, at some point you have to face the deterioration in the financial system, and that is not a criticism: it is inevitable because of the deep drop in the economy. Under these conditions, we have to think about cuts that allow new credits for recovery,” she said.

Read more …

“Whatever the rules of evidence may say, Baraitser and Lewis have here contrived between them a blatant abuse of process. It is a further example of the egregious injustices of this process.”

Assange Hearing Day 11 (Craig Murray)

Yet another shocking example of abuse of court procedure unfolded on Wednesday. James Lewis QC for the prosecution had been permitted gratuitously to read to two previous witnesses with zero connection to this claim, an extract from a book by Luke Harding and David Leigh in which Harding claims that at a dinner at El Moro Restaurant Julian Assange had stated he did not care if US informants were killed, because they were traitors who deserved what was coming to them. This morning giving evidence was John Goetz, now Chief Investigations Editor of NDR (German public TV), then of Der Spiegel. Goetz was one of the four people at that dinner. He was ready and willing to testify that Julian said no such thing and Luke Harding is (not unusually) lying. Goetz was not permitted by Judge Baraitser to testify on this point, even though two witnesses who were not present had previously been asked to testify on it.

Baraitser’s legal rationale was this. It was not in his written evidence statement (submitted before Lewis had raised the question with other witnesses) so Goetz was only permitted to contradict Lewis’s deliberate introduction of a lie if Lewis asked him. Lewis refused to ask the one witness who was actually present what had happened, because Lewis knew the lie he is propagating would be exposed. This is my report of Lewis putting the alleged conversation to Clive Stafford Smith, who knew nothing about it:

“Lewis then took Stafford Smith to a passage in the book “Wikileaks; Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy”, in which Luke Harding stated that he and David Leigh were most concerned to protect the names of informants, but Julian Assange had stated that Afghan informants were traitors who merited retribution. “They were informants, so if they got killed they had it coming.” Lewis tried several times to draw Stafford Smith into this, but Stafford Smith repeatedly said he understood these alleged facts were under dispute and he had no personal knowledge. This is my report of James Lewis putting the same quote to Prof Mark Feldstein, who had absolutely no connection to the event:

Lewis then read out again the same quote from the Leigh/Harding book he had put to Stafford Smith, stating that Julian Assange had said the Afghan informants would deserve their fate. James Lewis QC knew that these witnesses had absolutely no connection to this conversation, and he put it to them purely to get the lie into the court record and into public discourse. James Lewis QC also knows that Goetz was present on the occasion described. The Harding book specifies the exact date and location of the dinner and that it included two German journalists, and Goetz was one of them. It is plainly contrary to natural justice that a participant in an event introduced into the proceedings should not be allowed to tell the truth about it when those with no connection are, tendentiously, invited to.

Read more …

“Shenkman did not hesitate to tell her she was wasting his time and the magistrate court’s time.”

Assange Court Hears About History Of Prosecutions Under Espionage Act (Gosztola)

“There has never, in the century-long history of the Espionage Act, been an indictment of a U.S. publisher under the law for the publication of secrets,” declared Carey Shenkman, an attorney who has co-authored a first-of-its-kind peer-reviewed book on the Espionage Act. Shenkman testified during WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition trial and added, “There has never been an extraterritorial indictment of a non-[United States] publisher under the Act.” “During World War I, federal prosecutors considered the mere circulation of anti-war materials a violation of the law. Nearly 2,500 individuals were prosecuted under the Act on account of their dissenting views and opposition to U.S. entry in the war,” Shenkman added.

Assange is accused of 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime that, as alleged in the indictment, is written like an Espionage Act offense. The charges criminalize the act of merely receiving classified information, as well as the publication of state secrets from the United States government. It targets common practices in newsgathering, which is why the case is widely opposed by press freedom organizations throughout the world. Shenkman previously was an associate for Michael Ratner, an esteemed human rights attorney who was the president emeritus for the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ratner was part of the WikiLeaks legal team until he tragically died from cancer in 2016.

Prosecutor Clair Dobbin attempted to disqualify Shenkman because he worked for Ratner when he represented Assange. She also frittered away the time that she had to cross-examine by insisting Shenkman provide hypothetical opinions on statements in past cases with outcomes favorable to the prosecution. Few of the prosecution’s questions had anything to do with his testimony for the court on the Espionage Act, as it is being applied to Assange, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which Assange is also accused of violating. Shenkman did not hesitate to tell her she was wasting his time and the magistrate court’s time.

Ellsberg

Read more …

“Goetz said he had managed to find the 13 CIA agents who kidnapped, beat and sodomised El Masri – using flight logs and hotel records to track the men to North Carolina – and the investigation became the cover story for Der Spiegel. ”

I Found Assange Paranoid, Crazy–Then His Methods Became Standard Practice (TH)

A renowned investigative journalist has spoke of how he found Julian Assange “paranoid and crazy” when they first met – only for his methods to become standard journalistic practice a number of years later. John Goetz, an investigations editor with the German public broadcaster NDR, was among a handful of prominent journalists to be invited to the Guardian’s offices in London in the summer of 2010 – WikiLeaks had just received upwards of 100,000 sensitive documents that were leaked from the U.S. military. The classified cache of documents later came to be known as the Afghan War Logs – revealing torture, assassinations and CIA kidnappings. Goetz rubbished the American government’s assertion that Assange “recklessly endangered lives” at the second week of the WikiLeaks publisher’s U.S. extradition proceedings on Wednesday (September 17).

The Berlin-based reporter, who had then been a senior investigative journalist for Der Spiegel, spoke of those seminal 2010 meetings and how even veteran journalists from the New York Times, the Guardian and his publication found Assange to be ultra-obsessed with security. “I remember being frustrated by the constant emails and reminders that we needed to be secure and that we needed to use encryption on everything,” Goetz said. “It was the first time I had touched a crypto-phone. The amount of precautions were enormous. “I thought it was all paranoid and crazy, but it became standard journalistic practice.” Goetz, who had had a background on reporting on Afghanistan and the U.S. military, gave an inside look of how WikiLeaks transformed investigative journalism.

He detailed how the technology Assange and his whistle-blower organisation had built helped him substantiate allegations of serious wrongdoing that was previously considered unfathomable – namely in the case of Khaled el-Masri. El-Masri, a dual German-Lebanese citizen, had approached Goetz with his story five years before Goetz had ever come into contact with WikiLeaks. Goetz said: “It was interesting because at that point in time, very few people believed what he was alleging. He said he had been kidnapped, drugged, dumped in Afghanistan and ended up in some forest in Albania. “He said it was Americans and that he was taken to an American military base after we was kidnapped in Macedonia. All the allegations have since been proven in the European High Court.” Goetz said he had managed to find the 13 CIA agents who kidnapped, beat and sodomised El Masri – using flight logs and hotel records to track the men to North Carolina – and the investigation became the cover story for Der Spiegel.

You want to oppose Trump?
https://twitter.com/i/status/1306748514324668416

Read more …

Chomsky as a partisan shill is not a pretty sight.

Noam Chomsky: World Is At The Most Dangerous Moment In Human History (NSM)

Noam Chomsky has warned that the world is at the most dangerous moment in human history owing to the climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war and rising authoritarianism. In an exclusive interview with the New Statesman, the 91-year-old US linguist and activist said that the current perils exceed those of the 1930s. “There’s been nothing like it in human history,” Chomsky said. “I’m old enough to remember, very vividly, the threat that Nazism could take over much of Eurasia, that was not an idle concern. US military planners did anticipate that the war would end with a US-dominated region and a German-dominated region… But even that, horrible enough, was not like the end of organised human life on Earth, which is what we’re facing.”

Chomsky was interviewed in advance of the first summit of the Progressive International (18-20 September), a new organisation founded by Bernie Sanders, the former US presidential candidate, and Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, to counter right-wing authoritarianism. In an echo of the movement’s slogan “internationalism or extinction”, Chomsky warned: “We’re at an astonishing confluence of very severe crises. The extent of them was illustrated by the last setting of the famous Doomsday Clock. It’s been set every year since the atom bombing, the minute hand has moved forward and back. But last January, they abandoned minutes and moved to seconds to midnight, which means termination. And that was before the scale of the pandemic.”

This shift, Chomsky said, reflected “the growing threat of nuclear war, which is probably more severe than it was during the Cold War. The growing threat of environmental catastrophe, and the third thing that they’ve been picking up for the last few years is the sharp deterioration of democracy, which sounds at first as if it doesn’t belong but it actually does, because the only hope for dealing with the two existential crises, which do threaten extinction, is to deal with them through a vibrant democracy with engaged, informed citizens who are participating in developing programmes to deal with these crises.”

Chomsky added that “[Donald] Trump has accomplished something quite impressive: he’s succeeded in increasing the threat of each of the three dangers. On nuclear weapons, he’s moved to continue, and essentially bring to an end, the dismantling of the arms control regime, which has offered some protection against terminal disaster. He’s greatly increased the development of new, dangerous, more threatening weapons, which means others do so too, which is increasing the threat to all of us.

Having lived through 22 US presidential elections, Chomsky warned that Trump’s threat to refuse to leave office if defeated by Democratic candidate Joe Biden was unprecedented. “He’s already announced repeatedly that if he doesn’t like the outcome of the election he won’t leave. And this is taken very seriously by two high-level military officers, ex-military leaders, who’ve just sent a letter to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, reviewing for him his constitutional duties if the president refuses to leave office and gathers around him the paramilitary forces that he’s been using to terrorise people in Portland. “The military has a duty in that case, the 82nd Airborne Division, to remove him by force. There’s a transition integrity project, high-level people from the Republicans and the Democrats; they’ve been running war games asking what would happen if Trump refuses to leave office – every one of them leads to civil war, every scenario that they can think of except a Trump victory leads to civil war. This is not a joke – nothing like this has happened in the history of parliamentary democracy.”

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Accordion Trump
https://twitter.com/i/status/1306438597550243841

Tucker color revolution
https://twitter.com/i/status/1306048563210670080

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 042017
 
 June 4, 2017  Posted by at 9:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Eugène Delacroix Les femmes d’Alger 1834

 

Theresa May Suppresses Release Of Report On Who Funds Terrorism In UK (Ind.)
‘Sensitive’ UK Terror Funding Inquiry May Never Be Published (G.)
British PM May’s Election Gamble In Doubt As Poll Lead Falls To One Point (R.)
What Young People Think About This Election
The Biggest Real Estate Bubble Of All Time Just Did The Impossible (ZH)
Australia’s Record-Breaking Run Teeters On Edge With ‘Paltry’ Growth (Smh)
Why A $15 Minimum Wage Is Good For Business (MacLeans)
Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy (Nation)
Clapper Says Russians ‘Genetically Driven’ To Be Untrustworthy (Ryan)
A Moment of Intoxication (K.)
Greece Debt Relief Could Mean Creditors Waiting For Up To €123 Billion (R.)
EU Mulling Secret Plan B For Greece (K.)
Mediterranean Death Rate Doubles As Migrant Crossings Fall (G.)
Far Right Raises £50,000 To Target Boats On Refugee Rescue Missions In Med (G.)

 

 

This is a few days old (Mey 31). Think it’ll get more attention after last night’s attacks? A report, supposed to be out in early 2016, commissioned by Cameron while May was Home Secretary, is ‘disappeared’ now she is PM.

Theresa May Suppresses Release Of Report On Who Funds Terrorism In UK (Ind.)

An investigation into the foreign funding of extremist Islamist groups may never be published, the Home Office has admitted. The inquiry commissioned by David Cameron, was launched as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats in December 2015, in exchange for the party supporting the extension of British airstrikes against Isis into Syria. But although it was due to be published in the spring of 2016, it has not been completed and may never be made public due to its “sensitive” contents. It is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which the UK recently approved £3.5bn worth of arms export licences to. A spokesperson from the Home Office told The Independent a decision on the publication of the report would be taken “after the election by the next government”.

But in a separate interview with The Guardian, a spokesperson said the report may never be published, describing its contents were “very sensitive”. Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, has written a letter to the Prime Minister pressing her on when the report will be published and what steps she proposes to take to address “one of the root causes of violent extremism in the UK”. “You will agree with me that the protection of our country, of the British people, is the most important job of any government,” he wrote. “Certainly, more important than potential trade deals with questionable regimes, which appear to be the only explanation for your reticence. “When will this report be finished and published? And what steps do you propose to take to address one of the root causes of violent extremism in the UK?”

Read more …

Same report. I’m doubling up.

‘Sensitive’ UK Terror Funding Inquiry May Never Be Published (G.)

An investigation into the foreign funding and support of jihadi groups that was authorised by David Cameron may never be published, the Home Office has admitted. The inquiry into revenue streams for extremist groups operating in the UK was commissioned by the former prime minister and is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly been highlighted by European leaders as a funding source for Islamist jihadis. The investigation was launched as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats in exchange for the party supporting the extension of British airstrikes against Islamic State into Syria in December 2015. Tom Brake, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, has written to the prime minister asking her to confirm that the investigation will not be shelved.

The Observer reported in January last year that the Home Office’s extremism analysis unit had been directed by Downing Street to investigate overseas funding of extremist groups in the UK, with findings to be shown to Theresa May, then home secretary, and Cameron. However, 18 months later, the Home Office confirmed the report had not yet been completed and said it would not necessarily be published, calling the contents “very sensitive”. A decision would be taken “after the election by the next government” about the future of the investigation, a Home Office spokesman said. In his letter to May, Brake wrote: “As home secretary at the time, your department was one of those leading on the report. Eighteen months later, and following two horrific terrorist attacks by British-born citizens, that report still remains incomplete and unpublished.

“It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hardline Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.”

Read more …

How can you have an election in these circumstances? Campaigning this time has been suspended only until the end of the day…

British PM May’s Election Gamble In Doubt As Poll Lead Falls To One Point (R.)

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s gamble on a June 8 snap election was thrust into doubt after a Survation poll showed her Conservative Party’s lead had dropped to a new low of just one percentage point. While British pollsters all predict May will win the most seats in Thursday’s election, they have given an array of different numbers for how big her win will be, ranging from a landslide victory to a much more slender win without a majority. Some of the polls indicate the election could be on a knife edge that would throw Britain into political deadlock just days before formal Brexit talks with the European Union are due to begin on June 19.

In a sign of how much her campaign has soured just five days before voting begins, May’s personal rating turned negative for the first time in one of ComRes’s polls since she won the top job in the turmoil following the June 23 Brexit referendum. Survation said the Conservatives were on 40% and Labour on 39%, indicating May’s lead has collapsed by 11 percentage points over two weeks and that her majority was now in doubt. “Prime Minister May’s overall majority now hangs in the balance based on our most recent data,” Survation founder Damian Lyons Lowe told Reuters. “The risk of May not having an overall majority has increased significantly based on our data.”

Read more …

The Tories rely on the ‘grey’ vote.

What Young People Think About This Election (HnH)

Nearly two-thirds of young people say that they are certain to vote in Thursday’s General Election, which, if it happens, could see them play a decisive role in many marginal seats and thus, in the final outcome. Of those who are registered and say they are certain to vote, two-thirds (68%) plan to back Labour. That’s according to an exclusive ICM poll commissioned by Hope Not Hate and supported by the National Union of Teachers (NUT). If the turnout is anywhere near the 63% of young people who said that they were “certain” to vote, then this represents a major increase on the 43% who voted in the 2015 General Election.

Living in a key battleground seat could be an important factor in youth turnout, with four out of ten (39%) of 18-24 year-olds saying that living in a marginal constituency would make them more likely to vote. With the latest Lord Ashcroft polling, out yesterday, suggesting that there are 70 constituencies where the two leading parties’ estimated vote shares are within 5% of each other, the turn out rate amongst young people could define the outcome. Among the marginal seats where the youth vote could decide the outcome are Leeds North West, Norwich South, Cambridge, and Cardiff Central. But it is not just the big University seats where the youth vote could make the difference. In Harrow West, for example, Ashcroft’s polling predicts there is only 2% between Labour and Conservatives and according to the 2011 census, there are 9,500 18-24 years in the constituency.

Even if only two-thirds of them are registered, a turnout of 60% could have a major influence on the result. Our poll found huge support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, with two-thirds of those who were registered and certain to vote saying they supported Labour (68%), with half (50%) saying Jeremy Corbyn had the right qualities to be Prime Minister (vs 28% for Theresa May).

Trust, or more precisely the lack of it, remains a major issue for young people. Most of them also felt that tabloid newspapers and wealthy individual donors had an unhealthy influence on British politics. The BBC came out as a trusted source of information for 49% of young people, making it the single most trusted news platform. This compares to just 22% who trust newspapers (and 42% distrusted) and 18% social media (and 45% distrusted). Family and friends were trusted by 46%.

Read more …

Vancouver doesn’t stop. Not by itself. Do all these people think they’ll be bailed out when the crash comes? The government can hardly afford to bail out the banks.

The Biggest Real Estate Bubble Of All Time Just Did The Impossible (ZH)

One month ago, we said that “the Vancouver housing bubble Is back, and it’s (almost) bigger than ever.” Fast forward to today, when we can scrap the almost part: according to the latest data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, nearly a year after British Columbia implemented a 15% property tax targeting foreign buyers, in May the biggest real estate bubble of all time did the impossible and in a testament to the persistence of Chinese oligarchs, criminals, money launderers and pretty much anyone who is desperate to park their cash as far away as possible, after a modest drop following last summer’s tax the Vancouver housing bubble has bounced right back to new all time highs, as prices of detached, attached houses and apartment all surged to new record highs.

The only thing that did fall in May was the number of actual transactions, as residential property sales in the region totaled 4,364 in May 2017, a decrease of 8.5% from the 4,769 sales in May 2016, an all-time record. In other words, all that the 15% surtax achieved was to drastically slowdown the rate of transactions (or perhaps home flipping). Meanwhile, as sellers held out to find more aggressive buyers, they were in luck as the new wave of buyers has emerged, and undeterred by the 15% premium, they have been slowly but surely lifting all available offers. While there is little we can add to this month’s update that we didn’t already say a month ago, below we again put Canada’s housing market, and bubble, in perspective with some of our favorite charts, first showing total Canadian household debt compared to the US. Most of this is in the form of mortgages.

[..] the punchline: indexed home prices in Canada compared to the US. This needs to commentary.

Read more …

Slow bursting bubbles are exceedingly rare.

Australia’s Record-Breaking Run Teeters On Edge With ‘Paltry’ Growth (Smh)

Australia is on the brink of hitting a technical recession just as it breaks the record for the longest run of uninterrupted economic growth in the developed world. While Treasurer Scott Morrison has insisted there are “better days ahead,” consumers are suffering from a dual frustration of weak wages and underemployment hitting household budgets, fuelling low levels of growth and restricting how much they are willing to spend. Three of Australia’s major financial institutions are forecasting a “paltry” growth of 0.1% or less, with the National Australia Bank the first to tip negative growth for the three months to March when National Accounts figures are released on Wednesday. Morgan Stanley has predicted negative growth of 0.3%. If it were to happen, it would only be the fourth time since the recession of the early 1990s that Australia had endured a quarter of negative territory.

The sluggish outcomes offer some good news for home owners, with many tipping the Reserve Bank will keep interest rates on hold for the forseeable future, and, when they do move, it will be a cut. The prediction comes after house prices Australia wide fell for the first time in 18 months, also giving some hope to aspiring home owners struggling to get into the market. If Wednesday’s gross domestic product figures reveal a contraction, it would be the second in three quarters, narrowly avoiding the technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Analysts say there is a “small possibility of a negative GDP” in the next quarter, due to the impact of Cyclone Debbie, which would take Australia “into technical, but not real, recession”, according to the National Australia Bank. “While some of the contraction has undoubtedly been driven by the weather and other one-offs, the question for next week will be whether the slowdown includes signal as well as noise, and implies a more fundamental economic slowdown,” said NAB Chief Economist Alan Oster.

Read more …

There’s one thing missing from here: You have to take into account how much of what’s for sale in a society is produced within it. If too much of it is imported, no minimum wage can save anything, the money will just vanish.

Why A $15 Minimum Wage Is Good For Business (MacLeans)

When higher income households see wage gains, some of it goes to savings. Additional consumption also often flows to vacations and luxury goods, often imported. In other words a non-trivial part leaks out of the local economy. When lower income households see a sustained rise in incomes, they spend virtually all of it. Most goes to food (more nutritious food or eating out), better health care and more education. Sometimes it also goes to rent (moving to a better neighbourhood). Almost all of this spending stays in the local economy. So boost the minimum wage and you boost the economy from the bottom up.

You may be surprised to learn nearly 30% of Ontario’s labour market earned less than $15 an hour in 2016. The nation’s biggest labour market has more people working at low wages than any other big economic engine of Canada (Quebec, B.C., Alberta) While some workers may lose their job after the minimum wage increase (more on that in a minute), a very large number of workers will see an important pay hike, and that will loop back into the economy. Increased consumer spending will grow the top line of businesses, and increase the need for more workers to meet the higher demand for goods and services…and earning better pay. Rising costs will also raise productivity, something virtually every business and economist says we want and need. That’s harder to do if you’re doing things the way you’ve always done them.

Canada has been running a low-wage economy for decades, relatively speaking, according to Statistics Canada. In fact, at last count Canada outpaced the U.S. in the reliance on low-wage work. Within Canada, Ontario has the highest reliance on low-wage work. Boosting wages may knock out some jobs and some marginal businesses. The remaining enterprises that rely on low-wage work will see improved productivity, less absenteeism and turnover, reducing recruitment and training costs. We shouldn’t rue the loss of a few poorly paid jobs, particularly when rising minimum wages also help meet the twin challenges of the early 21st century: constrained revenue growth and higher service needs due to population aging. We’ve got to spur change, and a substantially higher minimum wage will surely spur change.

Read more …

Good long interview with Noam. We’re going to miss him something awful when he dies. Societies need thinkers like him, no matter what the political views are.

Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy (Nation)

I think is if you take a look at recent history since the Second World War, something really remarkable has happened. First, human intelligence created two huge sledgehammers capable of terminating our existence—or at least organized existence—both from the Second World War. One of them is familiar. In fact, both are by now familiar. The Second World War ended with the use of nuclear weapons. It was immediately obvious on August 6, 1945, a day that I remember very well. It was obvious that soon technology would develop to the point where it would lead to terminal disaster. Scientists certainly understood this. In 1947 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists inaugurated its famous Doomsday Clock. You know, how close the minute hand was to midnight? And it started seven minutes to midnight. By 1953 it had moved to two minutes to midnight.

That was the year when the United States and Soviet Union exploded hydrogen bombs. But it turns out we now understand that at the end of the Second World War the world also entered into a new geological epic. It’s called the Anthropocene, the epic in which humans have a severe, in fact maybe disastrous impact on the environment. It moved again in 2015, again in 2016. Immediately after the Trump election late January this year, the clock was moved again to two and a half minutes to midnight, the closest it’s been since ’53. So there’s the two existential threats that we’ve created—which might in the case of nuclear war maybe wipe us out; in the case of environmental catastrophe, create a severe impact—and then some. A third thing happened. Beginning around the ’70s, human intelligence dedicated itself to eliminating, or at least weakening, the main barrier against these threats. It’s called neoliberalism.

There was a transition at that time from the period of what some people call “regimented capitalism,” the ’50s and ’60s, the great growth period, egalitarian growth, a lot of advances in social justice and so on— Social democracy, yeah. That’s sometimes called “the golden age of modern capitalism.” That changed in the ’70s with the onset of the neoliberal era that we’ve been living in since. And if you ask yourself what this era is, it’s crucial principle is undermining mechanisms of social solidarity and mutual support and popular engagement in determining policy. It’s not called that. What it’s called is “freedom,” but “freedom” means a subordination to the decisions of concentrated, unaccountable, private power. That’s what it means. The institutions of governance—or other kinds of association that could allow people to participate in decision making—those are systematically weakened. Margaret Thatcher said it rather nicely in her aphorism about “there is no society, only individuals.”

Read more …

Russiagate is rotting America.

Clapper Says Russians ‘Genetically Driven’ To Be Untrustworthy (Ryan)

The former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper thinks Russians have some sort of biological predilection to be an untrustworthy bunch. I wish I was making that up, but sadly, I’m not. Clapper said it during last Sunday’s episode of Meet The Press on NBC, during a response to a question about Jared Kushner’s ties to Moscow. The Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever” — was the exact quote.There’s great irony in that comment by Clapper, with his own record of perjury, implying that an entire ethnicity can’t be trusted. So, of course, widespread outrage followed the blatantly xenophobic comment. Nah, I’m only joking. No one actually noticed or cared.

Chuck Todd, the interviewer, let the comment slide without even acknowledging that Clapper had said something untoward. If there was a debate about Clapper’s comment and it was deemed somehow acceptable, that would be bad enough — but it’s actually worse than that, because anti-Russian sentiment is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche, that no one even notices when a high profile figure like Clapper makes a comment about the “genetics” of Russians in an effort to brand them as inherently devious and conniving. But it shouldn’t be surprising. Unlike any other group of people, it’s been well-established that you can say pretty much whatever you like about Russians with no repercussions or backlash of any kind, particularly if you pass it off as comedy.

Read more …

“We want a peaceful Europe, not one where Germany puts itself above all.”

A Moment of Intoxication (K.)

With Donald Trump elected to the office of president of the United States, developments are following their predetermined course, with the relationship between Washington and Berlin being sorely tested. Some had maintained hope that the new president of the US would adjust to the reality that’s been established for years. Trump, however, is battling and trying to overthrow this reality, treating it as something that’s against American interests. The informal NATO summit in Brussels and the G7 have dashed the optimists’ expectations. Trump strongly criticized his European partners, including Germany, for being inconsistent with their financial obligations toward NATO. Germany’s disappointment with this was to be expected, but less so was the audacity that followed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strong remarks at a Munich beer tent, that Europe cannot rely on its American and British partners and that it should take its fate into its own hands, were the product of arrogance. They represent the beginning of a rupture, even if some attempt to attribute a “strategic depth” to the whole issue – something like an emancipation for the European Union and a fresh impetus for the completion of the EU project. Except that the introduction of the common currency, rather than make Europe more united, has created a two-tiered Europe, divided between north and south, and Chancellor Merkel’s immigration policies have accelerated centrifugal trends. It doesn’t require much intelligence for one to realize the likely outcome of another amateur initiative like a “common European defense” structure without the active participation of the US and the UK.

This would be opportunism with disastrous consequences. It goes without saying that Greece outside the UK/US defense system puts us in grave danger. We haven’t, of course, reached that point just yet. We’ve simply reached a period of typical European babble and confusion. The hope is that it doesn’t last too long. Nevertheless, the cries of German politicians must stop. Of course, Pax Americana has been violently disputed from time to time. We have already had a taste of Germany in a dominant economic role, as implemented by Wolfgang Schaeuble. Let us consider the remarks by Chancellor Merkel as a moment of intoxication at the beer tent. We want a peaceful Europe, not one where Germany puts itself above all.

Read more …

Creative accounting as an excuse not to do the obvious. Germany’s power must be clipped or else.

Greece Debt Relief Could Mean Creditors Waiting For Up To €123 Billion (R.)

A Greek debt relief scenario that put back interest payments until 2048 would mean the nation’s eurozone creditors deferring receipt of up to €123 billion, according to a forecast by Germany’s Finance Ministry. The ministry’s calculations, which were contained in a letter to a member of parliament seen by Reuters on Friday, contemplated the various restructuring scenarios laid out by the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). “With such an interest deferral, it would de facto be a new loan with a volume that depends on the development of interest rates,” the document said. “The estimated volume of the deferred interest up until 2048 would be around €118-123 billion.”

The IMF says it cannot contribute loans to Greece’s current bailout unless it gets assurances that its debt will be sustainable. The Fund has estimated that the Greek economy will only grew by 1% per year on average and that Greece will return to a primary surplus of 1.5% from 2023 after five years at 3.5%. Greece needs about €7 billion in loans from its €86 billion rescue package to repay debt maturing in July, but the disbursement hinges on its lenders’ assessment of its bailout progress, the conclusion of the so-called second review.

Read more …

No IMF.

EU Mulling Secret Plan B For Greece (K.)

In the wake of last week’s Eurogroup impasse, European officials are mulling a plan B for Greece that would sideline the IMF, curb debt relief and reduce the need for austerity after 2019, Kathimerini understands. According to sources, European officials have already started discussing an alternative plan that could be put into effect in the fall, after September elections in Germany, which have made Berlin cautious of any politically contentious moves. The plan being considered would ensure that the IMF is no longer in the “driving seat of the Greek bailout program,” the sources said, adding that it would offer Greece less debt relief than it had hoped for but also less austerity in 2019 onward, after the current bailout has expired.

That would mean Athens could revoke some of the tough austerity measures it pushed through Parliament last month. The pension cuts and tax increases are due to come into effect in 2019 and 2020 respectively. However, a worse deal for Greece as regards debt relief would be a hard sell for the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has basically reneged on all pre-election promises and is keen to deliver something concrete with respect to the country’s debt. His government has already started shifting its narrative away from an insistence on a “comprehensive solution on the debt” to a “solution that will pave the way for accessing the markets.” Athens is still expected to make one last push for a deal at a Eurogroup summit on June 15.

According to sources, Tsipras will aim to broach the issue at a subsequent summit of EU leaders on June 22 if no solution transpires at the Eurogroup, as is expected. The Greek leader has already secured the support of French President Emmanual Macron for such a discussion to take place, sources say. Earlier this week German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble hit out at Tsipras, claiming the leftist premier has not shifted the burden of austerity away from poorer Greeks as he had pledged and that party influence in the public administration has increased, not decreased, during his time in government. Tsipras did not respond in person but a government source issued a terse response. “The responsibility of Schaeuble in managing the Greek crisis has been recorded historically,” the source said. “There is no point in his ascribing it to others.”

Read more …

Merkal won’t lift a finger until her election. Those are the priorities. And no other country can do a thing without her.

Mediterranean Death Rate Doubles As Migrant Crossings Fall (G.)

The death rate among migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe has almost doubled over the past year. Comparing the first five months of this year with the same period last year, UN agency data reveals that the mortality rate grew from 1.2% to 2.3%. The death rate during all of 2015 was 0.37% – a sixth of its current level. Details of the drownings came as it emerged that far-right activists are planning to send boats to the Mediterranean this summer to disrupt search-and-rescue vessels that are attempting to save the lives of refugees. The new figures prompted calls for the international community to stop turning a blind eye to the unfolding crisis. Aid agencies said the rising death rate was caused by a shortage of search-and-rescue vessels and the increasingly unsafe boats being provided by smugglers and traffickers in Libya.

Last week a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) vessel rescued 1,500 people in 10 hours, more than double the boat’s capacity. Vickie Hawkins, executive director of MSF UK, accused world leaders of turning their backs on refugees and choosing to focus on border security instead of adopting a humanitarian approach that would lower the Med’s death toll. “The deterrence policies implemented to keep people away from Europe have little regard for the human consequences. As a result, the Mediterranean has turned into a giant cemetery with over 1,500 missing or dead so far this year and tens of thousands of people detained inside Libya.” Leonard Doyle, chief spokesman for the UN migration agency, the IOM, said it had detected a hardening of attitude towards economic migrants from Africa, who were looking for work as they moved north towards Europe.

“These are impoverished, black, sub-saharan Africans and there’s definitely less interest in them and less warmth towards them than there was towards the refugees coming in from Syria last year, there’s no question about that,” said Doyle. He added: “The rate of deaths has gone sky high. People looking for work are being told to get into a dinghy and they’ll get a job. These are very vulnerable people ending up in exploitative situations.” During the first five months of last year the IOM recorded 205,858 migrants reaching Europe via the Mediterranean with 2,512 deaths. So far this year a far smaller amount – 71,029 – of migrants and refugees have crossed the Med to enter Europe yet the number of deaths stands at 1,650.

Research by the University of Warwick published last week – the first large-scale comparative study of the backgrounds and aspirations of refugees and migrants heading for Europe – challenged the prevailing view that they pick Europe as their destination of choice. Instead, researchers found that many did not even know anything about the EU prior to their arrival and had in fact been manipulated by traffickers who promised them work.

Read more …

Inevitable in view of government- and media rhetoric.

Far Right Raises £50,000 To Target Boats On Refugee Rescue Missions In Med (G.)

Far-right activists are planning a sea campaign this summer to disrupt vessels saving refugees in the Mediterranean, after successfully intercepting a rescue mission last month. Members of the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant “Identitarian” movement – largely twentysomethings often described as Europe’s answer to the American alt-right – have raised £56,489 in less than three weeks to enable them to target boats run by aid charities helping to rescue refugees. The money was raised through an anonymous crowdfunding campaign with an initial goal of €50,000 to pay for ships, travel costs and film equipment. On Saturday the group confirmed they had reached their target but were still accepting donations. A French far-right group hired a boat for a trial run last month, disrupting a search-and-rescue vessel as it left the Sicilian port of Catania. They claimed they had slowed the NGO ship until the Italian coastguard intervened.

Figures from the UN’s migration agency, the IOM, reveal that 1,650 refugees have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year with a further 6,453 migrants rescued off Libya and 228 bodies pulled from the waters. Humanitarian charities operating in the Mediterranean have helped save the lives of thousands of refugees, with women and children making up almost half of those making the crossing. The threat from the far right infuriates charities operating in the Mediterranean. One senior official, who requested anonymity, said politicians had helped create a climate where supporters of the far right felt emboldened to act in such a way. “When the British government and its European counterparts talk about ‘swarms’ of migrants, or perpetuate the myth that rescue operations are a ‘pull factor’ or a ‘taxi service’, that gives fuel to extreme groups such as this. The simple reality is that without rescue operations many more would drown, but people would still attempt the crossing,” the official said.

[..] During the first five months of 2015, no European or NGO search-and-rescue operations took place with 1,800 people drowning trying to make the crossing. In April alone 1,000 lives were lost. All search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean are coordinated by the official Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome in accordance with international maritime law. Yet the European far-right groups have accused NGOs of working with traffickers to bring migrants to Europe and claim that search-and-rescue boats are not carrying out a humanitarian intervention. The central aim of the new wave of far-right groups is preserving national differences in the belief that white Europeans will be replaced by immigrants, a stance that is articulated with anti-migrant, anti-Muslim, anti-media sentiments but repackaged for a younger audience.

The number of far-right groups is difficult to establish, but Génération Identitaire has held demonstrations in France that drew around 500 people, while its Facebook page has 122,662 likes. Its Austrian counterpart, Identitäre Bewegung Österreich, has 37,628 likes on Facebook, although critics warn of increasing links with the US alt-right which helped to propel Donald Trump to the White House. Also on the boat that attempted to obstruct SOS Méditerranée’s vessel last month was the Canadian alt-right journalist Lauren Southern, who has 278,000 Twitter followers and whose presence confirms a transatlantic convergence.

Read more …