Oct 182021
 
 October 18, 2021  Posted by at 7:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  55 Responses »


M. C. Escher Meeting (Encounter) 1940

 

Covid Infection In Vaxxed 40-49 Yr Olds Double The Unvaxxed Rate (DS)
Over 90% Of A Hospital’s Admissions Were Vaccinated For Covid-19 (Siri)
What Happens If Israel Fails The Stress Test? (Geert)
White House Tells Governors to Get Ready to Vaccinate Young Kids (CHD)
40% Of California State Workers Are Unvaccinated Despite Newsom’s Order (ZH)
Pentagon Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over Vaccine Mandates (ET)
Ron Johnson Slams DOJ Probe Of Parents’ School Board Protests (JTN)
Facebook Announces 10,000 EU Jobs To Build ‘Metaverse’ (Y!)
MPs Back Challenge To Boris Johnson On Vaccine Passports (Exp.)
Bare Shelves, No Holidays… At Last, A Biblical Kind Of Christmas (Cumming)
Who Do You Blame When You’ve Killed The Scapegoat? (Fintan O’Toole)

 

 

Ivermectin works in Tokyo..

 

 

And in Indonesia.


Indonesia ramped up ivermectin production and the government assured national distribution and fair prices. IVM is considered by the government a COVID medicine.

 

 

But Singapore has the same pattern as Taiwan: very low infection rates, but then the vaccines came…

 

 

McCullough

 

 

Effectiveness Hits Minus-109%

Covid Infection In Vaxxed 40-49 Yr Olds Double The Unvaxxed Rate (DS)

In the latest Vaccine Surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE) the Covid infection rate in double-vaccinated people in their 40s went above 100 per cent higher than in the unvaccinated for the first time, reaching 109 per cent. This translates to an unadjusted vaccine effectiveness of minus 109 per cent.

Vaccine effectiveness continues to drop fast in all over-18s, hitting minus 85 per cent for those in their 50s, minus 88 per cent for those in their 60s and minus 79 per cent for those in their 70s. Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation and death continues to hold up in all age groups, though with some signs of decline, particularly among older people. There is still nothing from Government sources acknowledging this failure of the vaccines against infection, its implications for policy and analysing what might be behind it.

Read more …

We’ve seen Deborah Conrad.

Over 90% Of A Hospital’s Admissions Were Vaccinated For Covid-19 (Siri)

A concerned Physician Assistant, Deborah Conrad, convinced her hospital to carefully track the Covid-19 vaccination status of every patient admitted to her hospital. The result is shocking. As Ms. Conrad has detailed, her hospital serves a community in which less than 50% of the individuals were vaccinated for Covid-19 but yet, during the same time period, approximately 90% of the individuals admitted to her hospital were documented to have received this vaccine. These patients were admitted for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to COVID-19 infections. Even more troubling is that there were many individuals who were young, many who presented with unusual or unexpected health events, and many who were admitted months after vaccination.


One would think that after an association was identified by a healthcare professional, our health authorities would at least review this finding, right? Sadly, when Ms. Conrad reached out to health authorities herself, she was ignored. My firm then sent a letter to the CDC and FDA on July 19, 2021 on Ms. Conrad’s behalf (see letter below), yet neither agency has responded. Even worse, when doctors came to Ms. Conrad for assistance with filing VAERS report for their patients, the hospital prohibited her from filing these reports. That the CDC and FDA failed to respond is arguably not surprising – they have been cheerleading this vaccine for months. Admitting almost any harm now would be akin to asking them to turn a gun on themselves. This again highlights the importance of never permitting government coercion and mandates when it comes to medical procedures.

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“..it is reasonable to expect booster injections to only enable the virus to more rapidly evolve resistance to the vaccines..”

What Happens If Israel Fails The Stress Test? (Geert)

It is well known that, regardless of any induced antigen (Ag)-specific adaptive immune response, all vaccines (including mRNA vaccines) have an adjuvant effect: they stimulate innate immune effectors, some of which have antiviral activity and/or facilitate adaptive immunity (2, 3, 4). Without going into mechanistic detail, there is no doubt that some of these innate, nonAg-specific immune responses have a short-lived antiviral effect. This could already explain why booster doses in the population described above can prevent viral infection while recalling anti-spike Abs. It may also be tempting to assume that these recalled Abs are now responsible for enhanced protection from both infection and disease.

However, from an immunological viewpoint, it is difficult to understand how a rapid recall of the very same anti-S Abs in a previously vaccine-primed population would now all of a sudden enable better protection from infection and disease. If innate immunity is indeed the confounder, then the outcome of long-term surveillance studies would look very different. Given the more potent neutralizing Abs booster shots are generating against variants (5), the S(pike)-directed immune pressure in the population will only continue to rise while still failing to curtail the spread of the predominantly circulating highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 variant (e.g., Delta variant). On the contrary, it would be reasonable to assume that upon an additional booster shot the more potent Abs further contribute to selecting S-directed immune escape variants and, therefore, turn the previously primed population in an even more fertile breeding ground for the highly infectious Delta variant.

As vaccine-elicited Ab responses have a much longer duration (and can be memorized) than that induced by short-term innate immune activation, and as vaccinal Abs suppress the functional capacity of pre-existing CoV-reactive innate Abs, short-term vaccine-mediated innate immune protection against viral infection or disease does not automatically imply a positive effect of the vaccine on viral infection or morbidity rates in the longer term. Interpretations from scientists who only conduct short-term surveillance studies in vaccinees, the majority of whom are adults or elderly, lead to erroneous, although peer-reviewed conclusions such as: ‘Although vaccines are less effective against asymptomatic disease (*) or against transmission than against severe disease, even in populations with fairly high vaccination rates the unvaccinated are still the major drivers of transmission and are themselves at the highest risk of serious disease’ (6).

This clearly illustrates their lack of understanding of the contribution of innate immunity in providing short-term protection after vaccination, and in the more durable protection of young and healthy unvaccinated age groups. Based on all of the above, it is reasonable to expect booster injections to only enable the virus to more rapidly evolve resistance to the vaccines. This evolution would be dramatically expedited by vaccinating and boosting more and more younger age groups.

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No FDA approval, but “..the Biden administration has already purchased 65 million doses of pediatric COVID vaccines..”

White House Tells Governors to Get Ready to Vaccinate Young Kids (CHD)

In a private phone call Tuesday with the nation’s governors, the White House told states to prepare to vaccinate children as young as 5 by early November. A White House official said the call was made in anticipation of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine being cleared for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the coming weeks for children ages 5 to 11. According to NBC News, the Biden administration purchased 65 million pediatric doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — enough to vaccinate an estimated 28 million children who would be eligible should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve Pfizer’s request to vaccinate the younger age group. In anticipation of a green light from the FDA, the administration began planning vaccination efforts with states, pharmacies and medical groups.

The administration told providers in a planning document last week the vaccine for children will be delivered to thousands of sites within one week of FDA authorization. The pediatric Pfizer vaccine will be distributed in 100-dose packs. Each dose is one-third of what is given to adults, and will be free through sites enrolled in a federal program that guarantees the shots are provided at no cost. Some states are planning to provide the vaccine through schools. “We’ve secured plenty of supply, and we’ll be putting in place an allocation, ordering and distribution system similar to what we’ve used for the other vaccines,” said Biden’s White House COVID coordinator, Jeff Zients, on a phone call, obtained by ABC News, with governors.

“It is distressing to hear that the Biden administration has already purchased 65 million doses of pediatric COVID vaccines,” said Dr. Elizabeth Mumper, pediatric physician and CEO of the Rimland Center for Integrative Medicine. “Vaccinating children is not the way out of the pandemic.” In an email to The Defender, Mumper said she hopes the White House will consider the following data:

• 99.998% of patients under the age of 18 survive COVID
• COVID “vaccines” have not undergone adequate long-term safety studies
• According to the latest available data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, as of Oct. 1, there have been a total of 21,298 reports of adverse events, including 1,284 rated as serious and 22 reported deaths (two of the 22 deaths were suicides) in the 12- to 17-year-old age group
• healthy adolescents given COVID “vaccines” have experienced blood clots, myocarditis, abnormal menses, neurologic symptoms and extreme fatigue
• most COVID cases are spread from adults to children — children are not a significant threat to the elderly and vulnerable

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“..a third of all hospitals in the state are experiencing critical staffing shortages because engineers, janitorial staff, respiratory therapists, nurses, midwives, physical therapists, and technicians have either staged strikes or have left the job over the mandate.”

40% Of California State Workers Are Unvaccinated Despite Newsom’s Order (ZH)

This might come as a surprise, but 40% of California state employees are unvaccinated despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive to mandate the jab or be subjected to regular testing. Newsom issued this new directive in July following a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. At the time, he said, “We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant.” Still months later, less than two-thirds of state workers, or 62%, were vaccinated, according to The Sacramento Bee. The figure is much lower than the state’s overall rate of 72%. Human Resources Department spokeswoman Camille Travis said her agency has only compiled 89% of state employee vaccination status.

She said the data so far suggests some state employees weren’t compelled to get jabbed after Newsom’s directive. Some of the state’s largest departments shared vaccination rates: 52% of California Highway Patrol employees, 60% of Department of Motor Vehicles employees, and 60% of prison employees have received the shots. California Department of Transportation has the highest with 70%. Newsom’s mandatory jab, or be forced to regular testing for state employees, is less stringent than those of health care workers who have been forced to get the vaccine unless they had a medical exemption or religious claim.

One emerging drawback of mandatory jabs, with no consideration for regular testing nor naturally-acquired immunity, are reports that a third of all hospitals in the state are experiencing critical staffing shortages because engineers, janitorial staff, respiratory therapists, nurses, midwives, physical therapists, and technicians have either staged strikes or have left the job over the mandate. Director of Medical Ethics, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty of the University of California, Irvine, challenged the constitutionality of the hospital’s vaccine mandate regarding individuals who have recovered from COVID and have naturally acquired immunity and was immediately placed on leave. There’s no room to debate science as only the government can decide what’s best for state employees.

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“..Attorneys argued in the suit that no COVID-19 vaccine is available in the United States that has received full licensing and approval..”

Pentagon Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over Vaccine Mandates (ET)

Service members from all five branches of the U.S. military, federal employees, and federal civilian contractors have joined in a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Defense over its COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The 24 plaintiffs “face a deadline under the Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate to receive a COVID-19 vaccine that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs, and have been refused any religious exemption or accommodation,” according to Liberty Counsel, the Christian legal firm that filed the lawsuit. The lawsuit (pdf), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, lists President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as defendants.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order (pdf) to prevent the COVID-19 vaccine mandates from taking effect, and ultimately issue an injunction to prevent the Pentagon from enforcing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Biden on Sept. 9 issued an executive order requiring almost all federal employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. Regular testing isn’t an option. Civilian federal employees and contractors have until Nov. 22 to be fully vaccinated. Austin issued a memorandum on Aug. 24 saying that all military service members must receive a COVID-19 vaccine, after which all the branches of the military announced various deadlines for its troops to be fully vaccinated, regardless of whether they had previously survived a bout of COVID-19, and threatening suspensions or other disciplinary actions if service members don’t have a pending exemption request or fail to comply.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have set a Nov. 28 deadline for their active-duty service members; reservists have until Dec. 28. For the Army and the Air Force, the deadlines for active-duty service members are Dec. 15 and Nov. 2, respectively, and deadlines for National Guard and Reserve members are June 30, 2022, and Dec. 2, 2021, respectively. U.S. Coast Guard members have until Nov. 22 to be fully vaccinated. [..] Attorneys argued in the suit that no COVID-19 vaccine is available in the United States that has received full licensing and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and as such, cannot be mandated.

Austin, in his memo on Aug. 24 (pdf), stated that the mandatory vaccinations “will only use COVID-19 vaccines that receive full licensure from the [FDA] in accordance with FDA-approved labeling and guidance,” attorneys noted, arguing that “additional military documents reveal that the Department of Defense is not following its own directive” and is using vaccines under emergency use authorization [EUA] “because there is no FDA approved vaccine available.” Austin’s memo came a day after the FDA issued full approval for future Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, which will bear the Comirnaty label. The latter vaccine wasn’t available in the United States as of Oct. 12, The Epoch Times reported previously.

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“Show up peacefully. Be respectful. But be insistent. Demand that the school boards follow your wishes. Not the wishes of Joe Biden and his cast of characters.”

Ron Johnson Slams DOJ Probe Of Parents’ School Board Protests (JTN)

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says Attorney General Merrick Garland‘s order to have the FBI investigate parent protests of school policies is “outrageous” and a “method of intimidation.” “He is saying they are intimidating school board members. No, it is the attorney general of the United States that is intimidating people exercising their rights to free speech and the right to petition their government,” Johnson said in an interview aired Sunday on the Cats Roundtable with John Catsimatidis show on WABC radio in New York. Garland announced recently the FBI would be investigating comments made by parents during contentious school board meetings over curriculum issues such as critical race theory and transgender pronouns.


The Wisconsin Republican, who is up for reelection next year, encouraged parents not to be intimidated and to continue to press for the policies they want for their children. “I tell people in Wisconsin, if you don’t want critical race theory; if you don’t want the 1619 project taught to your children, don’t let it be,” he said. “Show up peacefully. Be respectful. But be insistent. Demand that the school boards follow your wishes. Not the wishes of Joe Biden and his cast of characters.”

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“..meetings in a virtual room where they all appear as cartoonish 3D versions of themselves..”

Facebook Announces 10,000 EU Jobs To Build ‘Metaverse’ (Y!)

Facebook on Monday announced plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to build the “metaverse”, a virtual reality version of the internet that the tech giant sees as the future. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been a leading voice in Silicon Valley hype around the idea of the metaverse, which would blur the lines between the physical world and the digital one. The technology might, for example, allow someone to don virtual reality glasses that make it feel as if they’re face-to-face with a friend — when in fact they are thousands of miles apart and connected via the internet. “The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start,” Facebook said in a blog post.


“Today, we are announcing a plan to create 10,000 new high skilled jobs within the EU over the next five years.” The European hires will include “highly specialised engineers”, but the company otherwise gave few details of its plans for the new metaverse team. “The EU has a number of advantages that make it a great place for tech companies to invest — a large consumer market, first class universities and, crucially, top quality talent,” the blog post said. [..] Facebook bought Oculus, a company that makes virtual reality headsets, for $2 billion in 2014 and has since been developing Horizon, a digital world where people can interact using VR technology. In August it unveiled Horizon Workrooms, a feature where co-workers wearing VR headsets can hold meetings in a virtual room where they all appear as cartoonish 3D versions of themselves.

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“If we start down this road the future is dark.”

MPs Back Challenge To Boris Johnson On Vaccine Passports (Exp.)

Campaigners for the Together Declaration petition, already signed by almost 110,000 people including more than 200 church leaders and representatives of businesses and groups, fear that the UK Government will be pushed into agreeing to a so-called plan B to bring in new restrictions over the winter. It follows warnings by chief medical officer Chris Whitty last week that the NHS will “experience an exceptionally difficult winter” this year. Already this has been taken as an indication that pro-lockdown scientists working for the government will push for vaccine passports which have been introduced by Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and the Labour government in Wales. Already, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, which represents backbench Conservative MPs has signed the declaration.

He said: “‘Vaccine passports would set an alarming precedent where our medical records become public and some people are subjected to discrimination as they seek to go about their everyday lives. Surely that isn’t the kind of society that we want to create?” Another senior Tory MP, Sir Desmond Swayne added: “It is contrary to all our values and traditions to have to prove that we have undergone a medical procedure to go about our lawful business. “It is coercive and discriminatory, the abandonment of liberal values; a frightful precedent to set. I am appalled that a Conservative government could contemplate such a measure. If we start down this road the future is dark.” Campaigners will meet former minister Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the powerful Covid Recovery Group (CRG), and other Parliamentarians tomorrow before unfurling a 40m banner in Parliament Square.

[..] Robert Dingwall, former government advisor, and professor of sociology from Nottingham Trent University, who has carried out extensive research on the use of vaccine passports said: “Vaccine passports are a tech industry idea in search of a problem. In terms of public safety, they have little to offer. “Vaccinated people have a high degree of protection from their own vaccination. They also still have a potential to infect other people. By now, anyone who wants to be vaccinated has had an opportunity to do so.

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“There won’t be any turkeys, or at least not dead ones.”

Bare Shelves, No Holidays… At Last, A Biblical Kind Of Christmas (Cumming)

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” says Jo at the start of Little Women. BoJo is going one better. This Christmas, not only will there be no presents, but there will be no anything. After cancelling Christmas altogether last year, this time around he is creating a kind of half-Christmas, Christmas methadone, to ease us back into the festival. There is nothing the man will not do to get himself compared to Churchill. Thanks to his foresight and the happy accidents of the global economy, we will be able to wallow in our beloved blitz spirit, making do and mending, with a safe low dosage of consumerism to tide us over.

There will be no PlayStation 5 under where the Christmas tree used to be. There will be no jokes in Mrs Brown’s Boys, as usual, but none in the Christmas crackers either. There’s no petrol or HGV drivers, of course, but correspondents also report shortages of tennis balls, merlot, white bread, sardines, M&S chicken kievs, fish sauce, frozen apple strudel, tinned sardines, spring onions, fire alarms, an effective opposition, chocolate Hobnobs, cat vaccines, cat worming pills, bubble bath, Leon fish-finger wraps, marmalade, butter beans, dog-poo bags, goats, crisps, decaf coffee, bulbs (plant), bulbs (light), pigs, blankets, pigs-in-blankets, roofing lead and Harry Potter merchandise, especially wands. The last is hard to take; usually there are more wands than you can shake a stick at.

On the off-chance you manage to get to 25 December with a full tank and are able to dodge Insulate Britain’s armed roadblocks, you’ll arrive at houses that are too expensive to heat. The environmentalists ought to be encouraging the free movement of cars this Christmas; there are few people more persuasive on the subject of double-glazing than a chilly mother-in-law. There won’t be any turkeys, or at least not dead ones. There are plenty waddling around in barns, but there’s nobody to slaughter them. For the handful that do make it to Bernard Matthews’ big barn in the sky, there’s nobody to drive them to the shops. In a delicious irony, there are shortages of everything except shortages. Like it or not, this is what leadership looks like.

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“Frost demanded that the EU agree to rewrite completely the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal treaty that Johnson hailed in October 2019 as a “fantastic deal for all of the UK”.

Who Do You Blame When You’ve Killed The Scapegoat? (Fintan O’Toole)

Last week, Boris Johnson, with his paintbrush and easel at his holiday villa in Marbella, touched up his self-portrait as the reincarnation of Winston Churchill. Meanwhile, another bodysnatcher, Johnson’s Brexit tsar, David Frost, was also in sunny Iberia. In Lisbon on Tuesday evening, he channelled the intellectual father of modern conservatism, the 18th-century Irish writer and politician Edmund Burke. Frost demanded that the EU agree to rewrite completely the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal treaty that Johnson hailed in October 2019 as a “fantastic deal for all of the UK”. His speech was entitled, in imitation of a famous Burke pamphlet, “Observations on the present state of the nation”.

In case his audience somehow failed to make the connection between the former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association and one of the greatest political thinkers these islands has produced, Frost reminded them – how could they have forgotten? – that he had previously given a speech entitled “Reflections on the Revolutions in Europe”. Geddit? For those who did indeed get it, the first response was surely to sigh, like the ghost in Shakespeare’s tragedy, “O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there”. The second was the dizzying feeling that the “present state of the nation” is that of a skydiver, free-falling downwards from Burkean conservatism into pure Tory anarchism. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke wrote that “good order is the foundation of all good things”.

Somehow, when his soul was transmigrating to be born again in Brexit Britain, that bit got lost in translation. Disorder is now the royal road to all the good things that will come to those who keep the Brexit faith. Tearing up international treaties is, like the mass culling of pigs and fruit rotting in the fields, merely a manifestation of the creative chaos from which the new universe of “Global Britain” will emerge. It is rather unfortunate that the ground on which this big bang is set to explode, Northern Ireland, is a place that knows all about big bangs and the misery of chaos. And even more so that it is a place held together by one of those documents that Johnson and his government now hold in such contempt: an international treaty, the Belfast agreement of 1998.

Before Frost gave his speech on Tuesday, he knew full well that the EU was about to put forward a generous, sensible and very helpful set of proposals to deal with the difficulties in the practical implementation of the protocol. These proposals, unveiled on Wednesday, give civic and business leaders in Northern Ireland pretty much everything they have asked for to make the new arrangements work smoothly. Anticipating this EU move to calm everything down, however, Frost and Johnson chose to pre-empt the solutions by creating a new problem, one they know to be insoluble. They have hyped up an issue that no one in business or trade in Northern Ireland gives a damn about: the role of the European court of justice (ECJ) in any potential disputes about the interpretation of EU law. Deprived of the movement of sausages as a casus belli, they grasped another dubious foodstuff – the red herring.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Earplugs

 

 

 

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Oct 042021
 
 October 4, 2021  Posted by at 7:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  56 Responses »


Salvador Dali City of drawers – The Anthropomorphic Cabinet 1936

 

Vaccine Effectiveness Hits as Low as Minus-66% in the Over 40s (DS)
Increases In Covid-19 Are Unrelated To Levels Of Vaccination (Springer)
Merck’s New Drug – A Wonder Or Incipient Slaughter?
Predominance of Antibody-Resistant Covid Variants In Breakthrough Cases (Mxiv)
Antihistamines And Azithromycin As A Treatment For Covid-19 (PMC)
‘Grinch’ Fauci Mulls Canceling Christmas Due To Covid (RT)
Israel Tightens Covid ‘Green Pass’ Rules, Sparking Protest (AP)
The Israeli Face Of Pain After Pfizer Shots (Farber)
How Democray Ends (Prasad)
Staff Shortages Spreading To All Corners Of UK Business (G.)
Whistleblower Blasts Facebook For Prioritizing Profits Over ‘Democracy’ (RT)
Electricity Bills In Italy Rise By Almost 30 Percent From Friday (ZH)
Pandora Papers (RT)

 

 

October 15

 

 

Nails It

 

 

The minus number is a nice detail.

Vaccine Effectiveness Hits as Low as Minus-66% in the Over 40s (DS)

Following last week’s ‘fact check‘ from Full Fatuous – ostensibly of my piece but with some words of admonition for PHE as well, particularly over the accuracy of the population data – a new note appeared in the report: “Interpretation of the case rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated population is particularly susceptible to changes in denominators and should be interpreted with extra caution.” So there you go. All estimates in this post are based on the data PHE uses and are valid insofar as that data is accurate. As before, the data is just for a four-week period, which, given that the early part of the Delta surge was dominated by the unvaccinated and the latter part has seen infections rise in the vaccinated, seems to me a mistake. A fairer view would cover the whole Delta surge (as with the estimates I make from the data in the Technical Briefings), but in any case the report gives a snapshot of current relative infection rates.


As Full Fatuous pointed out, PHE don’t recommend using this data to estimate vaccine effectiveness, saying it’s “not the most appropriate method” because it’s unadjusted for risk factors (and, inevitably, they don’t provide the data you’d need to adjust it). However, even if not recommended by PHE, it is certainly a valid method of calculating vaccine effectiveness, which is just a figure which states the relative risk reduction in the vaccinated group, as long as you bear in mind its limitations. All vaccine effectiveness estimates have limitations, and while adjusting for confounding factors is in principle important, it is helpful only if done well, and many studies do not do it well. Unadjusted estimates from raw data are a necessary starting point.

Perhaps the key confounder for the estimates of vaccine effectiveness against infection given here is whether people have been previously infected, with a common assumption being that a higher proportion of the unvaccinated will be previously infected, due to it being a potential factor in people’s decision not to be vaccinated. This may well artificially lower the vaccine effectiveness estimates, but since no one has yet produced data showing how antibodies-from-infection split between vaccinated and unvaccinated it is hard to know how far this is the case. Unvaccinated here means actually unvaccinated, not partially vaccinated or post-jab. Hospitalisation means “cases presenting to emergency care (within 28 days of a positive specimen) resulting in an overnight inpatient admission”.


As England’s drawn-out Delta outbreak drags on, the infection rates in the vaccinated continue to outpace those in the unvaccinated, reducing (unadjusted) vaccine effectiveness further. For the 60s age group, infection rates are 63% higher in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated, up from 53% last week, giving an (unadjusted) vaccine effectiveness of minus-63%. But that has been topped this week by the 40s age group, the vaccinated among whom now have an infection rate no less than 66% higher than the unvaccinated, up from 46% in last week’s report and 27% in the report for the month ending September 5th. Vaccine effectiveness has been heading downward in the 30s age group as well, now just 8%, though interestingly it has actually been increasing in the under 18s.

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“..Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.”

But still you say they are unrelated?

Increases In Covid-19 Are Unrelated To Levels Of Vaccination (Springer)

At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days. In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days. The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.

Across the US counties too, the median new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days is largely similar across the categories of percent population fully vaccinated (Fig. 2). Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated. There also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated. Of the top 5 counties that have the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated (99.9–84.3%), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 of them as “High” Transmission counties. Chattahoochee (Georgia), McKinley (New Mexico), and Arecibo (Puerto Rico) counties have above 90% of their population fully vaccinated with all three being classified as “High” transmission.

Conversely, of the 57 counties that have been classified as “low” transmission counties by the CDC, 26.3% (15) have percentage of population fully vaccinated below 20%. Since full immunity from the vaccine is believed to take about 2 weeks after the second dose, we conducted sensitivity analyses by using a 1-month lag on the percentage population fully vaccinated for countries and US counties. The above findings of no discernable association between COVID-19 cases and levels of fully vaccinated was also observed when we considered a 1-month lag on the levels of fully vaccinated. We should note that the COVID-19 case data is of confirmed cases, which is a function of both supply (e.g., variation in testing capacities or reporting practices) and demand-side (e.g., variation in people’s decision on when to get tested) factors.

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“The problem with developing drugs like this is that if they get into other cells, not virally-infected ones, they can also cause those errors in the DNA replication and thus terminate the cell’s propagation and cellular line.”

Merck’s New Drug – A Wonder Or Incipient Slaughter?

This drug is an analog (in other words, “looks the same to a living cell”) of cytosine. That’s one of four chemical “bases” that make up DNA. What Merck has done is “damage” it in a way that a cell still thinks its cytosine. Thus when it gets taken up in the synthesis of RNA it produces an error; the replication process doesn’t know how to deal with that and, after a few of those accumulate the process fails and thus the virus (in this case Covid-19) cannot reproduce in the cell. That’s how it works, basically. I was incorrect, by the way, in calling this a potential protease inhibitor, much like those used for HIV. Pfizer has one of those in test for Covid-19 as well. This is not — it is a nucleoside (the four primary chemical bases that make up DNA) analog that has been deliberately damaged so as to screw up the replication machinery.

There are a few of these used today in humans, with most targeting HIV in “combination therapy.” Covid-19 in most people produces transient, self-limiting illness. In some people it causes dysregulation of the immune system, organizing viral pneumonia and if not stopped there can kill you either through direct spread into other organs or the dysfunction that comes from the body’s response to that. We greatly increase the risk of that happening by telling you to go home and eat chicken soup until you’re choking; by the time you are choking anything you could have done, including using drugs that might partially block replication or suppress excess inflammatory response (e.g. antihistamines, drugs such as HCQ or Ivermectin, etc.) or put a stop to the organizing pneumonia (e.g. inhaled steroids such as budesonide) may not work at all or have greatly-reduced effectiveness.

That’s stupid but its what damn near every so-called “medical professional” has told you to do for the last 18 months. That advice may be valid for a cold virus but it definitely is not when the virus in question can and sometimes does result in wildly-inappropriate systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation. HIV, on the other hand, progressively destroys your immune system and then a whole bunch of things that usually don’t kill people at all (like PCP) get going in your body and finish you off. In other words HIV is akin to cancer, which if not stopped will kill you with near 100% certainty by screwing things up to the point that your body cannot fix it anymore, whereas Covid-19, in most people, is a self-limiting respiratory infection.

The problem with developing drugs like this is that if they get into other cells, not virally-infected ones, they can also cause those errors in the DNA replication and thus terminate the cell’s propagation and cellular line. Depending on how quickly those cells replicate in the human body that might be a small and self-limiting problem (e.g. they replicate fast and only a few of them get “polluted”) or it might be a ticking time bomb that ultimately screws you in hard-to-predict and impossible to treat ways (e.g. slowly-replicating types of cells where a lot of them get polluted.) It’s even worse if you’re a person of reproductive age as cellular replication happens very rapidly in a developing fetus and thus any such impact has a high probability of over-expressing in that circumstance. This is exactly how thalidomide babies happened and its not necessarily limited to women either since half the genetic material comes from the man and unlike women who start with all of the eggs they will ever have men are continually producing new sperm cells which conceivably could carry that damage into the zygote.

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VanDen Bossche warned us.

Predominance of Antibody-Resistant Covid Variants In Breakthrough Cases (Mxiv)

Associations between vaccine breakthrough cases and infection by SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants have remained largely unexplored. Here we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences and viral loads from 1,373 persons with COVID-19 from the San Francisco Bay Area from February 1 to June 30, 2021, of which 125 (9.1%) were vaccine breakthrough infections. Fully vaccinated were more likely than unvaccinated persons to be infected by variants carrying mutations associated with decreased antibody neutralization (L452R, L452Q, E484K, and/or F490S) (78% versus 48%, p = 1.96e-08), but not by those associated with increased infectivity (L452R and/or N501Y) (85% versus 77%, p = 0.092). Differences in viral loads were non-significant between unvaccinated and fully vaccinated persons overall (p = 0.99) and according to lineage (p = 0.09 – 0.78).


Viral loads were significantly higher in symptomatic as compared to asymptomatic vaccine breakthrough cases (p < 0.0001), and symptomatic vaccine breakthrough infections had similar viral loads to unvaccinated infections (p = 0.64). In 5 cases with available longitudinal samples for serologic analyses, vaccine breakthrough infections were found to be associated with low or undetectable neutralizing antibody levels attributable to immunocompromised state or infection by an antibody-resistant lineage. These findings suggest that vaccine breakthrough cases are preferentially caused by circulating antibody-resistant SARS-CoV-2 variants, and that symptomatic breakthrough infections may potentially transmit COVID-19 as efficiently as unvaccinated infections, regardless of the infecting lineage.

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“No hospital admissions, deaths, nor adverse drug effects were reported in our patient population.”

Antihistamines And Azithromycin As A Treatment For Covid-19 (PMC)

Between March and April 2020, 84 elderly patients with suspected COVID-19 living in two nursing homes of Yepes, Toledo (Spain) were treated early with antihistamines (dexchlorpheniramine, cetirizine or loratadine), adding azithromycin in the 25 symptomatic cases. The outcomes are retrospectively reported. The primary endpoint is the fatality rate of COVID-19. The secondary endpoints are the hospital and ICU admission rates. Endpoints were compared with the official Spanish rates for the elderly. The mean age of our population was 85 and 48% were over 80 years old.


No hospital admissions, deaths, nor adverse drug effects were reported in our patient population. By the end of June, 100% of the residents had positive serology for COVID-19. Although clinical trials are needed to determine the efficacy of both drugs in the treatment of COVID-19, this analysis suggests that primary care diagnosis and treatment with antihistamines, plus azithromycin in selected cases, may treat COVID-19 and prevent progression to severe disease in elderly patients.

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Also an expert on immigration.

‘Grinch’ Fauci Mulls Canceling Christmas Due To Covid (RT)

White House health adviser Anthony Fauci has insisted that Covid-19 is not being spread by untested immigrants. He also claims the virus remains such a threat that traditional Christmas celebrations might need to be canceled. During a Sunday interview on CNN, Fauci was asked about a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found 55% of Republicans partially blame the spread of Covid-19 on immigrants and tourism. The survey follows scrutiny of the Biden administration over tactics at the US-Mexico border, where White House officials have admitted many migrants are not required to be tested for coronavirus and are subsequently released into the US with a notice to attend court at a later date.


Fauci said he did not see any connection between the spread of the virus and immigration. “This is not driven by immigrants. This is a problem within our country, the same way it’s a problem within other countries throughout the world,” the infectious-diseases expert said. “They are not the driving force of this,” he added. “Let’s face reality here.” Fauci was also asked about Title 42 – a Trump-era policy that permits the expulsion of migrants caught illegally crossing the border during the coronavirus pandemic. In response, the doctor said that “expelling” immigrants was “not the solution to an outbreak.” Fauci’s comments were met with plenty of criticism on social media, though many others agreed and echoed his view that there was scant connection between untested migrants and Covid-19 cases.

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We have an idea what the problem is with endless booster shots.

Israel Tightens Covid ‘Green Pass’ Rules, Sparking Protest (AP)

Israel restricted its COVID Green Pass on Sunday to allow only those who have received a vaccine booster dose or recently recuperated from coronavirus to enter indoor venues. The new criteria mean that nearly 2 million people will lose their vaccination passport in the coming days. Israel is the first country to make a booster shot a requirement for its digital vaccination passport. The move is widely seen as a step to encourage booster vaccination among those who have yet to receive a third dose. Under the new guidelines, people must have received a booster shot to be eligible for a green pass. Those who have received two vaccine doses, and those who have recovered from coronavirus, will be issued passes valid for six months after the date of their vaccination or recovery.


The government’s advisory cabinet on coronavirus was set to convene Sunday to discuss existing restrictions and guidelines. Technical problems hamstrung the Health Ministry’s rollout of the updated green pass as millions of Israelis tried to reissue digital documentation that would allow entry to shops, restaurants, cultural events, gyms and other indoor venues. Scores of Israelis staged demonstrations around the country in protest of the green pass system, with convoys of cars clogging morning commutes as many Israelis returned to work Sunday after September’s Jewish High Holidays. Opponents of the system said it is a form of forced vaccination. “We are totally against any forced vaccinations, or any forced medications, and we are totally against doing anything to our children and grandchildren that we don’t agree with,” said Sarah Felt, who protested along the main highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

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The Testimonies Project.

The Israeli Face Of Pain After Pfizer Shots (Farber)

When you see real people, faces, voices, against the ordinary backdrops of their homes, and you see the sorrow in their eyes, it becomes impossible to keep wild sorrow at bay any longer. Words become displaced by tears. Even rage, you realize, is a waiting room, a stalling place where you numb the sorrow, where you keep it slightly away from your heart. And the outpost thought, looping constantly, the train’s last station: “This can’t be happening.”

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Your future.

How Democray Ends (Prasad)

The pandemic events of 2020-2021 outline a potential pathway for a future democratically elected President of the United States to systematically end democracy. The course of events leading to this outcome need not be a repeat of the direct assault on the Capitol, but a distortion of risk of illness as a justification for military force and suspension of democratic norms. Sometime over the next quarter century, it is inevitable that America, and all nations, will experience a cold and flu season above average. In a typical season approximately 40,000 Americans may die, but it is possible an above average season may see 80,000 or more deaths.

Inevitably some location(s) in the country will experience a surge in cases. Television news will show overworked hospital workers, and report that Intensive Care Unit beds have nearly run out– of course, ICU’s often operate near capacity, so this finding alone may not be that noteworthy, but in our attention economy, it may be sensationalized. Some afflicted individuals will be young children– typical for the flu, and these anecdotes will surely be emotionally salient. A video of a young boy or girl on life support machines may be used to show how dire things are. These events will then serve as an opportunity for a strong federal response.

A future US president may declare that the crisis in the region from influenza is unprecedented. Too many children are dying, and hospitals are near capacity. Citing the lessons of COVID19—that if anything we acted too late—the President may call upon the governor to issue a shelter in place warning. A week later, citing a continued rise in case, and “non-compliance” of the local people, the President could order the national guard or army troops in to secure the region. Notably, military force was applied in Australia during COVID19.

During the COVID19 pandemic, some of the most ardent calls for strong restrictions came from members of the political left. If a future president is on the political right; this would serve as a natural opportunity to remind the public that strong tactics were precisely what the other side demanded more of during COVID19. Life and safety, particularly that of children, is of paramount importance, and strong lockdowns must ensue. In many regions across the world, one political party preferred stronger countermeasures to COVID19, in all those nations, the opposing party that has the advantage for misusing force in the future.

Eventually, inevitably, disagreements with the policies will arise. Social media may see small explosions of dialog critical of prolonged lockdown or skeptical of hospital volumes. A future leader can seize this opportunity for a forced takeover of media or social media companies. Misinformation that compromises a national attempt at safety must be shut down. The future leader can remind the public that during COVID19 many were critical that we did not do enough to ban dangerous and misleading speech, and now we are doing just that.

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Brexit squared.

Staff Shortages Spreading To All Corners Of UK Business (G.)

Staff shortages are rippling out from the haulage, farming and hospitality sectors to almost all parts of the economy, putting “severe pressure” on medium-sized business across the UK, a new survey has warned. More than a quarter of the 500 firms polled said the lack of staff was putting pressure on their ability to operate at normal levels, with reduced stock – due to the resulting supply chain disruption – hurting their business. While some firms had considered cutting production, others were planning to raise prices, leading to concerns over rising inflation as the Christmas trading period approaches. Nearly a fifth said they were increasing wages to attract new staff, while others were introducing extra perks to lure workers.

But the report, released by accountancy and advisory firm BDO, said the knock-on effects for consumers could be “significant”, with nearly one-third of businesses saying the prices would need to rise in the next three to six months to make up for the disruption. More than one-third of firms in the survey said they had also cut down on the kinds of products and services on offer, with a further third planned to do the same over the coming month unless the situation radically improves. A similar proportion expect stock ranges to be affected long-term.

Businesses blamed the pandemic and Brexit for the shortage of overseas workers, with 38% saying a lack of regional talent was hurting their ability to recruit much-needed staff. “Brexit, global supply chain issues and the long tail of Covid-19 has created a perfect storm for UK businesses,” BDO partner Ed Dwan said. “After navigating the challenges of the pandemic and hoping for some respite, businesses have found themselves facing more major disruption, with those across almost all sectors reporting staff shortages.

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She wants more censorship.

Whistleblower Blasts Facebook For Prioritizing Profits Over ‘Democracy’ (RT)

A former Facebook data scientist, responsible for censoring “dangerous” and “misleading” information during the 2020 US election, has all but accused the social media giant of facilitating the January 6 “insurrection.” In the ‘60 Minutes’ interview with CBS on Sunday, Frances Haugen, 37, came forward as the whistleblower behind a recent WSJ investigation and a Senate hearing. But while her Tuesday subcommittee appearance, titled ‘Protecting Kids Online’, will be focused on Instagram’s effect on the mental health of teens, in her interview Haugen touched upon another aspect of why she believes unregulated Facebook poses a danger to “democracy.” Haugen was recruited into Facebook’s Civic Integrity unit back in 2019, and gladly joined because she personally “lost a friend to online conspiracy theories.”

She had helped battle misinformation during the US presidential elections, but the moment Facebook rolled back its safeguards became a turning point when she told herself: “I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.” “As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.” Hagen said there was a constant conflict of interests “between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” accusing the company of always prioritizing profits.

“Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” she said. “Like, they basically said, ‘Oh good, we made it through the election. There wasn’t riots. We can get rid of Civic Integrity now.’ Fast forward a couple months, we got the insurrection.”

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France capped the rise at 12.6%, and said no more hikes until March/April. But Bulgarian prices rose 36% last week. Be careful out there.

Electricity Bills In Italy Rise By Almost 30 Percent From Friday (ZH)

Household electricity bills will rise by 29.8% for the typical family and gas bills will go up by 14.4%, Italy’s energy regulatory authority Arera confirmed in a press release last week. The new national tariffs came into effect on Friday, the start of the fourth quarter of 2021. The increase comes amid surging energy costs across Europe, and beyond. The price rise passed on to Italian consumers could’ve reached 45 percent, Arera said, if the government had not stepped in to cap the new rise in rates. The Italian government last week announced measures costing three billion euros aimed at limiting a steeper rise in energy prices for consumers.

As well as keeping the cost to most families below 30 percent and 15 percent, the government measures will keep additional costs at zero for those least well-off, including households with an income under 8,265 euros, families with at least 4 dependent children with an income of less than 20,000 euros, those who receive a state pension or unemployment benefit, and people who are seriously ill, Sky TG24 reports. The measures also cut the ‘general charge’ from gas bills for all throughout the last quarter of 2021, and on electricity for families and some small businesses. Last quarter, the retail cost of electricity rose by 9.9% and gas by 15.3% from July 1st. The government also stepped in that time to cap costs, with 1.2 billion euros in state aid.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that many of the reasons for the energy price increases were temporary but called for long-term action, including at a European level, to address the problem, including through diversifying supplies. Italy is highly dependent on imports and consumes a large amount of gas. Some 40% of its primary energy consumption is gas, compared with about 15 percent in France, according to official statistics for both countries.

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When I saw Luke Harding listed as the main author for the Guardian, I stopped reading. That was before I saw there are no American names mentioned. What a bunch of BS.

Pandora Papers (RT)

Leaked papers appear to show how some of the world’s elites accumulate property empires while avoiding millions in taxes, with reports focusing on European, Middle Eastern and South American leaders, and world-famous celebrities. Obtained from 14 offshore banking institutions and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the ‘Pandora Papers’ reveal the financial chicanery of more than 100 billionaires, 35 current and former world leaders, and 300 public officials. The first round of information, handed to a select list of international outlets and studied by “600 journalists,” was published on Sunday.

According to the ICIJ, King Abdullah II of Jordan is a prolific user of shell corporations to manage his global property empire. The monarch reportedly used 36 of these companies from 1995 to 2017 to purchase 14 luxury properties in the US and UK worth more than $106 million. The king’s lawyers say he used these stand-in companies to maintain his privacy rather than to dodge any taxes. Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family has traded almost $500 million worth of British property in recent years, according to the leaks. One of these properties was sold by an Aliyev-owned front company to the Queen’s crown estate for a sizable $90 million.

[..] Despite featuring an image of Vladimir Putin front and center on their introductory piece, and mentioning Putin nearly 50 times in a spin-off article about the “hidden riches of Putin’s inner circle,” The Guardian had to admit in its reporting that the Russian president “does not appear in the files by name.” Instead, the paper focused on Putin’s “friends,” including billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko, and Putin’s rumored past “girlfriend.”

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Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 052021
 
 September 5, 2021  Posted by at 8:42 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  49 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler 1910

 

UK Care Workers Leave En Masse After Being Told To Get Vax Or Quit (RT)
Israel Virus Czar Calls To Begin Readying For 4th Vaccine Dose (ToI)
Give Pupils Covid Jab To Prevent Virus Running Through UK, Expert Says (G.)
The Virus That Stole Christmas (Sky)
Slowly But Surely, The Stupid Is Failing (Denninger)
Vaccine Voodoo (Rickards)
Rolling Stone ‘Horse Dewormer’ Hit-Piece Debunked (ZH)
I Have Not Been Silenced (Malcolm Kendrick)
The Road to Totalitarianism (CJ Hopkins)
China’s Marxist “Profound Revolution” Is Here (Every)

 

 

Good morning from Athens.

 

 

I hear you can deworm your horse with it too.

 

 

Natural Immunity (compiled)
https://twitter.com/i/status/1432342656642867207

 

 

They make £9.30 an hour and then the gov’t comes in demanding they obey or else.

UK Care Workers Leave En Masse After Being Told To Get Vax Or Quit (RT)

Many care workers in the UK who were told to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or lose their jobs have left the industry en masse for better paid positions at companies such as Amazon, creating massive staffing shortages. According to the Guardian, which spoke to several care home industry officials, “three-quarters of care home operators are reporting an increase in staff quitting since April,” with the reasons being “a desire for less stress and for higher pay” and “to avoid mandatory vaccination, which comes into effect on 11 November.” The newspaper reported that many care workers are leaving for other positions in the NHS, where vaccination has not yet been made compulsory, and for unrelated jobs at companies such as Amazon where they have been offered a 30% increase in pay and other incentives.

One care worker left their £9.30 an hour job to work as an Amazon warehouse picker, which pays £13.50 per hour and also offers a £1,000 joining bonus, according to the report. In response to the mass exodus, the industry is now desperately calling on the government to end its mandatory vaccination policy for care workers, warning that a “catastrophe” is on the horizon. National Care Association executive chairman Nadra Ahmed told the Guardian that the National Health Service (NHS) will ultimately “have to pick up this mess” and called on the government to reconsider its policy, while public service union Unison declared that ministers “must immediately repeal ‘no jab, no job’ laws for care home staff in England to avert a staffing crisis that threatens to overwhelm the sector.”

Unison warned that the “draconian” mandatory vaccination policy is “pushing thousands to the brink of quitting care work” and said the government is “sleepwalking into a disaster” by ensuring a massive shortage of staff during a pandemic. The union also revealed that many care workers – who are already underpaid and overworked – “feel totally undervalued” and that “being bullied” into taking a vaccine they didn’t want was “the last straw” for many in the industry.

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How many people still get how idiotic this is?

Israel Virus Czar Calls To Begin Readying For 4th Vaccine Dose (ToI)

Israel’s national coronavirus czar on Saturday called for the country to begin making preparations to eventually administer fourth doses of the coronavirus vaccine. “Given that that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection,” Salman Zarka told Kan public radio. He did not specify when fourth vaccine shots could eventually be administered. Zarka also said that the next booster shot may be modified to better protect against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, such as the highly infectious Delta strain. “This is our life from now on, in waves,” he said. Zarka made similar comments in an interview with The Times of Israel last month. “It seems that if we learn the lessons from the fourth wave, we must consider the [possibility of subsequent] waves with the new variants, such as the new one from South America,” he said at the time.


“And thinking about this and the waning of the vaccines and the antibodies, it seems every few months — it could be once a year or five or six months — we’ll need another shot.” Zarka said that he expects that by late 2021 or early 2022, Israel will be giving shots that are especially adapted to cope better with variants. Israel — the first country to officially offer a third dose — began its COVID booster campaign on August 1, rolling it out to all those over the age of 60. It then gradually dropped the eligibility age, expanding it last week to everyone age 12 and up who received the second shot at least five months ago. As of Friday, over 2.5 million Israelis had received the third dose.

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When the JCVI, the experts, say something we don’t like, well, we have other experts. This is full-on Groucho.

Give Pupils Covid Jab To Prevent Virus Running Through UK, Expert Says (G.)

Schoolchildren should be given the Covid vaccine to avoid allowing the virus to “run through the population”, a leading scientific expert has said, after official vaccine advisers concluded the net health benefit in vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds was too small. On Friday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) stopped short of a recommending vaccinating healthy 12- to 15-year-olds against Covid, saying “the margin of benefit is considered too small” to support universal vaccination. Ministers could now for the first time defy the advice of the scientific watchdog and push ahead, in a move that highlights a growing divide between government and scientific advisers over the next phase of the vaccination programme.

Prof John Edmunds, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies, said ministers must consider the “wider effect Covid might have” on unvaccinated children. “It’s a very difficult one, they’re going to take a wider perspective than the JCVI took, I think that’s right,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday. “I think we have to take into consideration the wider effect Covid might have on children and their education and developmental achievements. “In the UK now, it’s difficult to say how many children haven’t been infected but it’s probably about half of them, that’s about 6 million children, so that’s a long way to go if we allow infection just to run through the population, that’s a lot of children who will be infected and that will be a lot of disruption to schools in the coming months.”

The chief medical officers of the UK’s four nations will now weigh up whether or not to give the vaccine to younger schoolchildren, with a decision due within days. The JCVI recommended an expansion to an existing programme of vaccinations for older children with health conditions, including heart disease, type 1 diabetes and severe asthma, increasing the eligible group to about 200,000. But the decision came as a blow to the government, which has in recent days both quietly agitated for a decision from the JCVI, given most schools in England have returned this week, and pointed to existing mass vaccination programmes for such children in places including Israel, the US and Germany.

Immediately after the announcement, Sajid Javid, the health secretary, and his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, wrote to the chief medical officers in their countries, asking them to “consider the matter from a broader perspective”. Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of the JVCI, said on Saturday that while past decisions had been “fairly clear cut”, it was “quite reasonable for the government to seek further advice about other aspects” and “go ahead and have a look at it from an educational point of view”. When asked about the possibility of extending the vaccine rollout to younger children, he told BBC Breakfast: “Parents need to understand what the risks are, what the benefits are, and make up their own mind about whether they offer consent or not.”

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Famous last words.

The Virus That Stole Christmas (Sky)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says by the end of the year, Australians should be able to reunite with family across the country, enjoy a proper summer holiday, and New Year’s Eve celebrations where friends can “hug and kiss” at midnight. Under the national plan, interstate travel will occur once 80 per cent of eligible Australians are double jabbed, Scott Morrison tells Sunday Herald Sun. “We don’t have to fear the virus, but we do have to live with it,” he says. “Holding onto COVID zero will only hold Australians back as the world moves forward.” Mr Morrison described the freedoms once 70 per cent and 80 per cent of eligible Australians roll up their sleeves for the jab.


“Grandparents in the east can hold their new grandchild in the west for the first time,” he tells Sunday Herald Sun. “Kids in the south can be excited for holidays up north, long days on the beach and rollercoasters. “Friends can make plans for New Year’s Eve where they can hug and kiss at midnight. “And everyone can make plans for a family Christmas, with all our loved ones at the dinner table, cracking bon-bons and bad jokes together. “Nobody wants COVID to be the virus that stole Christmas, and we have a plan and the vaccinations available to ensure that’s not the case.” “This means that in coming months, lockdown states can look forward to a return to backyard barbecues, kids’ birthday parties with all of their friends, gathering with the whole family for important moments like christenings, weddings and funerals.”

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“I have a right to be unvaccinated against this virus since neither being not-fat or vaccinated confers a health benefit to others..”

Slowly But Surely, The Stupid Is Failing (Denninger)

As for those who have not been infected the data on personal risk allocation is less-clear. Certainly, Covid-19 can seriously injure or kill you. But, since we now know the vaccines neither prevent infection or passing the virus on to others, and have a wildly higher hazard rate than any of the other commonly-used vaccines the equation is now entirely personal. That is, there is no social or employment and customer-related benefit to be had and thus we are now talking about the same classification of personal choice as is packing on that extra 100lbs or choosing to engage in anal sex, both of which are personally dangerous but do not impact other, non-consenting people except, perhaps, by consuming medical system resources someone else might want or need.

Indeed, the data is that being morbidly obese puts 60% or more on your risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19. Since every single person who is morbidly obese willingly put every item of food and beverage down their own throat should we not hold them accountable for the load they are now placing on the medical system, especially since we knew this in early 2020 and they willingly and intentionally remained obese rather than lose the weight in the intervening 18 months? If I have a right to be fat (and not be discriminated against on the basis of being fat) then I have a right to be unvaccinated against this virus since neither being not-fat or vaccinated confers a health benefit to others; any benefit, such as may exist, is mine and mine alone.

If you think this is some sort of esoteric argument it is not. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that bodily autonomy is sacrosanct. As just one example you have every right to screw another man in the ass so long as you both are adults and consent, which is why the laws related to such sexual practices across the United States in any public accommodation, housing, employment and similar have been progressively, over the last decades, struck down as unconstitutional. Indeed just last year firing someone for being gay become formally illegal. In short the USSC has, on a consistent basis over the last hundred years, ruled that what you choose in terms of personal risk as a consenting adult is nobody else’s damned business and absent hard, scientific proof that someone else is harmed you are on extremely thin ice legally with an attempt to discriminate on any such basis. The legal record is very clear in this regard; that which used to be able to be proscribed 100 years ago as “immoral” or “dangerous” for a particular person has been repeatedly and almost without exception greatly narrowed as the USSC has considered various cases before it.

I remind you that at the time of Jacobson the Court saw such things very differently and personal choice was much less-respected than it is today. Around the same time as Jacobson, for example, the state legislature of Oregon passed a law allowing forced sterilization of “sexual perverts” — aimed straight at homosexuals and the feeble-minded. Oregon was not alone in passing and enforcing these laws. Do you really think jabbing people was a big deal to the Supremes while the State of Oregon was cutting off people’s balls due to their sexual preference?

Do you think the Judge in Chicago did not take all of this into consideration when he reversed his former ruling that an unvaccinated mother by virtue of refusal lost her rights as a parent? I’d like to see the history on exactly why he originally thought that was a good idea, and if perhaps a little off-the-record urging was involved. Family courts are known for hair-raising rulings and such off-the-record games but this one got reversed awfully-quickly, didn’t it? Perhaps the light went on in his head — since the jabs do not produce sterilizing immunity to the virus and do not interrupt transmission his ruling was that one can be dispossessed of their civil rights for a personal medical, social or political decision with the boundary of impact encompassing nobody but herself. It was likely wise to walk away from that voluntarily before he got slapped in the face on appeal.

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“How many people died because they were denied access to these therapies, especially early on in the disease cycle when treatment is more effective? It’s impossible to say, but they could potentially run into the hundreds of thousands.”

Vaccine Voodoo (Rickards)

The data indicate that the most vaccinated countries have the most cases and deaths per million people, while the least vaccinated countries have the fewest cases and deaths per million people. Israel is providing a useful case study in the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of vaccines. Israel is one of the most heavily vaxxed countries in the world, with over 60% of the population fully vaccinated and almost 100% of the elderly. But now Israel is experiencing a massive increase in infections, including cases among the fully vaxxed. The government has also determined that the vaccines wear off after six months or less and is recommending a third shot for everyone. The problem, of course, is that the third dose will wear off too, so a fourth, fifth or sixth dose will be needed.

And with every new dose comes a new risk of dangerous side effects, including the small but real possibility of death. The vaccinated will be getting boosters for the rest of their lives, and the virus still won’t go away. Meanwhile, effective treatments, including ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, vitamin D, zinc and other inexpensive measures, are being suppressed by the medical establishment. How many people died because they were denied access to these therapies, especially early on in the disease cycle when treatment is more effective? It’s impossible to say, but they could potentially run into the hundreds of thousands.

A new study by the U.K.’s National Health Service and a Canadian biotech company revealed that a nitric oxide nasal spray slashed SARS-CoV-2 viral load by 95% within 24 hours and 99% within 72 hours. If further trials pan out, early treatment with a similar cheap therapeutic could cut serious cases down to almost nothing. But it doesn’t matter. The medical establishment will continue pushing the narrative that only universal vaccination will stop the virus. The media continue to hyperventilate about “cases” but ignore the fact that death rates have declined since January. When one accounts for the 38 million Americans who have survived COVID and already have antibodies, then herd immunity is already here. Data indicate that people who had COVID between January and February of 2021 and recovered have 13 times more immunity to the Delta variant than vaccines provide.

We’re at the stage where we can learn to live with COVID as we do with many other endemic diseases such as the seasonal flu. There’s no reason for fear. But the public health authorities insist that these people with natural immunity must also be vaccinated. It’s not “science.” The zero-COVID policies many governments have pursued are completely unrealistic. The virus goes where it wants. The only real solutions are patience, herd immunity and effective therapies. The time has come to stop living in fear and start treating COVID as an endemic disease that will be with us for a long time, like the seasonal flu or diabetes. Unfortunately, government authorities continue to insist they can control the situation with orders and mandates.

Read more …

All it took to find out was one phone call. But nobody at Rolling Stone had a spare dime.

Rolling Stone ‘Horse Dewormer’ Hit-Piece Debunked (ZH)

After Joe Rogan announced that he’d kicked Covid in just a few days using a cocktail of drugs, including Ivermectin – an anti-parasitic prescribed for humans for over 35 years, with over 4 billion doses administered (and most recently as a Covid-19 treatment), the left quickly started mocking Rogan for having taken a ‘horse dewormer’ due to its dual use in livestock. [..] On Friday, Rolling Stone’s Peter Wade took another stab – publishing a hit piece claiming that Oklahoma ERs were overflowing with people ‘overdosing on horse dewormer.’ It was suspect from the beginning. The report, sourced to local Oaklahoma outlet KFOR’s Katelyn Ogle, cites Oklahoma ER doctor Dr. Jason McElyea – claimed that people overdosing on ivermectin horse dewormer are causing emergency rooms to be “so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting” access to health facilities.

“As people take the drug, McElyea said patients have arrived at hospitals with negative reactions like nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and cramping — or even loss of sight. “The scariest one that I’ve heard of and seen is people coming in with vision loss,” the doctor said.” -Rolling Stone. Except, the article provided zero evidence for McElyea’s claims, causing people to start asking questions. And while neither KFOR or Rolling Stone mention the hospital McElyea worked for, NHS Sequoyah, located in Sallisaw, Oklahoma – just issued a statement disavowing McElyea’s claims, which pops up when you visit their website. It reads:

“Although Dr. Jason McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah, he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for our emergency room. With that said, Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw location in over 2 months. NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose. All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care. We want to reassure our community that our staff is working hard to provide quality healthcare to all patients. We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this issue and as always, we value our community’s support.”

[..] McElyea is also listed as working at Integris Grove Hospital in Grove, OK as a general family practitioner – not in the ER. A phone call to them provided no insight as to any ivermectin overdoses, however the gentleman who answered the phone sounded quite amused. What’s more, Grove, OK – with a population of 7,129, had just 14 aggravated assaults in all of 2019 according to the FBI’s latest data. We somehow doubt that ‘gunshot victims were lining up outside the ER,’ while just 11 ivermectin related hospital cases have been reported in the entire state since the beginning of May.

Read more …

“Very little is referenced, because I can very easily find a contradictory reference to any reference I provide. For each fact, there is an equal and opposite fact.”

I Have Not Been Silenced (Malcolm Kendrick)

Thank you to the many people who have e-mailed me recently and asked if I have been silenced. I have not. I have had letters from Public Health England and the General Medical Council, informing me that I was under investigation for daring to question anything about COVID19, particularly vaccines. The good news is the investigations ended up nowhere, and were closed down. I have also had irate phone calls from doctors, telling me that I must not question vaccination and suchlike. This has been somewhat wearing and has caused me to remain silent for a while and think about things. However, I do know how to play the medical regulations game. Don’t make a statement you cannot reference from a peer-reviewed journal.

Don’t give direct advice to people over the internet. Provide facts, and do not make statements such as ‘vaccines are killing thousands of people.’ Or suchlike. Not that I ever would. My self-appointed role within the COVID19 mayhem, was to search for the truth – as far as it could be found – and to attempt to provide useful information for those who wish to read my blog. The main reason for prolonged silence, and introspection, is that I am not sure I can find the truth. I do not know if it can be found anymore. Today I am unsure what represents a fact, and what has simply been made up. A sad and scary state of affairs. This is not just true of the mainstream and the mainstream media, which has simply decided to parrot all Government and WHO statements without any critical engagement…or thought.

For example, the BBC intones that ‘In the last day, fifty people died within twenty-eight days of a positive COVID19 test…’ Or a hundred, or six. What the hell is this supposed to mean? It means nothing, it is the very definition of scientific meaninglessness. Especially when it seems that very nearly a half of those admitted to hospital with COVID19 were not admitted to hospital with COVID19. They were admitted with something else entirely, then had a positive test whilst in hospital. In short, they were not admitted to hospital with COVID19, and almost certainly did not die of COVID19. They died with a positive COVID19 test. With, not of. But the misinformation is equally a problem for those on the other side. Claims are made for the benefits of Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine that simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

Yes, I believe both drugs may provide some benefit, but not the claimed 90% reduction in deaths that I have seen trumpeted. So, I have given up on COVID19. It is a complete mess, and I feel that, without being certain of the ground under my feet, I have nothing to contribute. I too am in danger of starting to make statements that are not true. However, before leaving the area entirely, I would like to make clear some of the things I currently believe to be true, and what I do not believe to be true. If this is of any assistance to anyone. Very little is referenced, because I can very easily find a contradictory reference to any reference I provide. For each fact, there is an equal and opposite fact.

Read more …

“And that, my friends, is where we are. We didn’t get here overnight.”

The Road to Totalitarianism (CJ Hopkins)

The time for people to “wake up” is over. At this point, you either join the fight to preserve what is left of those rights, and that sovereignty, or you surrender to the “New Normal,” to global-capitalist totalitarianism. I couldn’t care less what you believe about the virus, or its mutant variants, or the experimental “vaccines.” This isn’t an abstract argument over “the science.” It is a fight … a political, ideological fight. On one side is democracy, on the other is totalitarianism. Pick a fucking side, and live with it. Anyway, here’s where we are at the moment, and how we got here, just the broad strokes. It’s August 2021, and Germany has officially banned demonstrations against the “New Normal” official ideology. Other public assemblies, like the Christopher Street Day demo, one week ago, are still allowed.

The outlawing of political opposition is a classic hallmark of totalitarian systems. It’s also a classic move by the German authorities, which will give them the pretext they need to unleash the New Normal goon squads on the demonstrators tomorrow. In Australia, the military has been deployed to enforce total compliance with government decrees … lockdowns, mandatory public obedience rituals, etc. In other words, it is de facto martial law. This is another classic hallmark of totalitarian systems. In France, restaurant and other business owners who serve “the Unvaccinated” will now be imprisoned, as will, of course, “the Unvaccinated.” The scapegoating, demonizing, and segregating of “the Unvaccinated” is happening in countries all over the world. France is just an extreme example. The scapegoating, dehumanizing, and segregating of minorities — particularly the regime’s political opponents — is another classic hallmark of totalitarian systems.

In the UK, Italy, Greece, and numerous other countries throughout the world, this pseudo-medical social-segregation system is also being introduced, in order to divide societies into “good people” (i.e., compliant) and “bad” (i.e., non-compliant). The “good people” are being given license and encouraged by the authorities and the corporate media to unleash their rage on the “the Unvaccinated,” to demand our segregation in internment camps, to openly threaten to viciously murder us. This is also a hallmark of totalitarian systems. And that, my friends, is where we are. We didn’t get here overnight. Here are just a few of the unmistakable signs along the road to totalitarianism that I have pointed out over the last 17 months.

Read more …

Xi is getting bold.

China’s Marxist “Profound Revolution” Is Here (Every)

Political developments in China have been front page news in the financial press over the past few months. Beijing’s crackdown on Ant Financial, largely dismissed by Wall Street, then spread to Didi and on to the broader sectors these championed, fin- and transport-tech; then it grew to encompass swathes of the economy, from tech to health to education to property to private equity to gaming. In terms of tech, there are now sharp limits on IPOs in the US (mirrored from the US side) and new algo/pricing and data regulations that require Beijing to hold on to it; the private tuition field was made non-profit; there has been a sharp reduction in credit to property developers along with the official message that “houses are for living in, not speculation”, and rental increase caps of 5% annually; under-18s have been limited to just 3 hours of computer gaming a week, in allotted slots; and private equity has been cut off from residential investment.

Beijing has also called for curbs on “excessive” income, and for the wealthy and profitable firms “to give back more to society.” (Tencent already pledged $15bn.) This is also matched by: a social campaign against excessive business drinking, “unpatriotic” karaoke songs, and celebrity culture; ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ made obligatory at all schools and universities; and, as Bloomberg puts it, controls on social media financial commentary – “China to Cleanse Online Content that ‘Bad Mouths’ its Economy”. This has all taken place under the slogan of “Common Prosperity”. Going further, commentary reposted by Chinese state media on 30 August stressed these changes are a “profound revolution” sweeping the country, warning anyone who resisted would face punishment.

It added: “This is a return from the capital group to the masses of the people, and this is a transformation from capital-centred to people-centred,” marking a return to the original intention of the Communist Party, and “Therefore, this is a political change, and the people are becoming the main body of this change again, and all those who block this people-centred change will be discarded.” Notably, a WeChat blogger originally made the post, but it was then reposted by major state-run media outlets such as the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, PLA Daily, CCTV, China Youth Daily, and China News Service. The author also wrote that high housing prices and medical costs will become the next targets of the campaign –which was backed by an official announcement on 1 September– and that the government needed to “combat the chaos of big capital,” adding “The capital market will no longer become a paradise for capitalists to get rich overnight… and public opinion will no longer be in a position worshiping Western culture.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Collum: “Yeah. It had nothing to do with those last 2,000 Whoppers and 2,500 bags of Funions…”

Do read the story below the photo.

 

 

God

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime; donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 172020
 
 December 17, 2020  Posted by at 6:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Filothei Skitzi Human puzzle on COVID19 days 2020

 

 

I know, I know, I’ve been largely silent about most “usual suspect topics” lately, other than in the Debt Rattles, but I must admit, those topics have been draining me, along with the full lockdown here in Greece. I understand why politicians want to do lockdowns, but I also understand why they shouldn’t.

Lockdowns drain life out of societies and communities, and there’s no guarantee that this life will ever come back. As I wrote earlier today, when we wake back up, the world will have changed beyond recognition. And we cannot NOT ask if that is worth the price we pay.

A vaccine is hurriedly being promoted and rolled out that is drowning in question marks, while skipping much of what is considered normal in vaccine development. As things like vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin are cast in a media cloud of doubt, though there are no such questions about them. Vaccine: no time for research. Everything else: years more research needed.

As for the other main topic in recent months, the US elections, all I see is people calling each other traitors and seditionists planning coups, and that has gone too far now. Let the legal process play out and the dice roll, and stop the clickbaiting propaganda. People are getting hurt.

In that light, I’d much prefer to write about better and happier things, and the Monastiraki kitchen in Athens is certainly one of those. It’s Christmas time, a time you’re supposed to care about, and for, people. I told you I’d have an update, and here it is. I think I’ll let the photos do most of the talking this time.

 

First of all, things haven’t gotten any easier out there. The lockdown, the police and the homeless are a strange combination. 100 people gathering to wait for a meal is no longer acceptable. So now the team have to go look for many of them. That takes time, because some are quite far away, but at least they know where to find most. These are crazy days, and everyone’s just simply trying their best.

I told you about the Greek athletes’ Love Van initiative last time, and they delivered: tons of winter coats and blankets and sleeping bags and shoes. It was plain to see that the police were standing by wondering what their orders were, but decided that denying people a warm coat was not in their job prescription. It was a wonderful little mess and anarchy for the hour it lasted, though.

But there is always the lingering fear that we, or everyone, might get arrested, or fined €300 each. There are still plenty regular kitchen volunteers who don’t come in because of that fear. They simply don’t have that kind of money.

 

 

 

In reaction to my November 20 article Automatic Earth in Athens November 2020, our very very generous readers donated some €3,000. That is inevitably an estimate because of the way Paypal donations work. I used to take the approximate amount in US dollars, and presume those were euros. But that was when the exchange rate was $1.10 or lower. Today, it’s $1.22.

And that’s not all. Paypal takes a percentage of every donation (2-4%?!), and then more when the dollars are converted to euros (their rate is over $1.26 right now). We could apply for charity status, but then we would have to 1) set up a separate account for the kitchen and 2) be registered as a charity in either the US or EU, which requires a ton of paperwork, rules, regulations, obligations.

We’re not going to do that, for much of the same reasons we won’t register the kitchen as an NGO. We want to be independent. Even if that costs some money. I’ll continue to round off everything in favor of the kitchen, and pay the difference myself, as long as it is somewhat reasonable.

 

 

 

On to happier tidings. The private space I told you about where the cooking takes place now is a small stone yard without a roof.

 

 

And since it rains in winter sometimes, we decided to buy one of those big umbrellas you see outside bars and restaurants, it seems the only way to get some shelter while cooking. They’re €200. I said we’ll use €100 from the donations, and I’ll pay the other half. That way we involve all of you to an extent, in day-to-day operations. Maybe we’ll even need two, but we’ll tackle that as the time comes.

 

 

Also, I purchased our first new €1,000 batch of supermarket checks (50x€20) on Tuesday, paid for with your fresh donations (Filothei and I are both painfully camera-shy, but the Acropolis in the background more than makes up for that ;-):

 

 

And Filothei did a big shopping trip with the checks yesterday:

 

 

 

 

What I didn’t know last time is that the kitchen still has a pretty solid amount of staples in storage, oil, pasta, tomato paste etc. That takes away some of the pressure, and it will be needed.

 

 

 

And then of course, wouldn’t you know, the crew decided they’re going to add a second day every week to cook. Purely led by increased demand and need. Not a huge surprise, that need is everywhere, just look at US and UK foodbanks. But we will still need to find a way to fund it. Nudge nudge wink wink. Someone like Filothei just says: we will do what must be done, whereas I then say: and how are we going to do that? You know, at €240 per meal? You just doubled the costs…

And still I’m pretty sure we indeed will make it happen, just because we have to. We must find a way, and therefore we will, with your help. And a bit of good cheer goes a long way:

 

 

Those Santa hats are brilliant, they change the entire mood and picture. As do these facemasks for the homeless, made by girls who themselves are too “vulnerable” healthwise to come in, but still want to contribute. I love those things:

 

 

Same goes for the winterhats (can you say “tuque”?)

 

 

As the cherry on the pie, and because everyone deserves a real Christmas, especially if they live on the streets, and very especially in a lockdown, we’re going to hand all our clients a big package of sweets for the festive season.

 

 

And then if you’ll allow me, I’ll repeat my last paragraph of the November 20 article, With one main difference: twice the meals will mean twice the costs, by and large. But hey, it’s Christmas. The time when miracles come true!

Sure, I’m a little apprehensive about January and February, with the Christmas hope and spirit gone, and temperatures dipping, but I also know that 4 days from now, the days will start getting longer again in our hemisphere.

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them, especially for Christmas-. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also went to the kitchen the past month).

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. To get through the winter in one piece, the Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500-2,000 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.

I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier.

Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

Nov 122020
 
 November 12, 2020  Posted by at 7:28 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Dans l’atelier 1954

 

 

“There is nothing in Afghanistan worth the life of a single American soldier.”

– Douglas Macgregor

 

I’m having a bit of a problem finding the right format for this essay. I want to highlight a whole number of quotes, but I also would like you to read the original setting they came from. Please bear with me.

CNN: “A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Wednesday that retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor “will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. MacGregor’s decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.”

Also CNN: “Macgregor once advocated for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants [..] and has made a litany of racist comments.”

I must admit even my encyclopedic brain had never heard of Macgregor, and I’m sure most of you hadn’t either, but I’m taking a liking to the man. “The use of lethal force against unarmed migrants” sounds bogus off the bat, that’s “Putin eats babies” territory, and accusing someone of “a litany of racist comments” without naming even one, doesn’t do it for me either.

And even then. The man wants to bring US troops home. Oh wait, but that’s why you accuse him of all these unsubstantiated “facts”. Gotcha. What I do know is for instance this Nov 6 2019 interview Macgregor did with Tucker Carlson, in which he sounds like a reasonable yet worried man. And while opinions may differ on how big of a threat drug cartels may be to the US, his view appears to have its merit.

 

 

Macgregor Nov 6 2019 interview with Tucker Carlson
https://twitter.com/i/status/1192276635426279424

 

 

But then the press come in. We can’t have troop withdrawals (though a vast majority of Americans wants to bring the troops home). So let’s start by labeling Macgregor “divisive”. What does that mean? That he doesn’t agree with “official” military policy. What is that policy? Warmongering. Keeping troops in Afghanistan for 18 years. If Biden ever becomes president, will he bow to that policy and start sending US troops back in?

This here is from Axios. And all I can think is: what ever happened to journalism? My comments below.

Divisive Pentagon Hire May Rush Troop Withdrawals Before Trump’s Exit

President Trump’s newly installed acting Pentagon chief is bringing on a senior adviser in a sign the administration wants to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East before the end of his presidency in January, three people familiar with the move told Axios. A senior administration official says a wave of firings at the Pentagon and the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump’s personal scores — but senior White House officials also have made clear “they want them more publicly to talk about getting out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.” Trump, who ran in 2016 on a promise to bring U.S. troops home, is frustrated with the slow pace of withdrawing troops from the Middle East, another senior administration official said.

The president has told advisers on numerous occasions he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas.In a 2019 interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Macgregor said he would advise the president to get out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible,” including removing the U.S. embassy from Kabul, and that talking to the Taliban was unnecessary. Macgregor also said the U.S. needs to pull its troops out of Syria immediately and America had no national interest there. He said, “We need to listen very carefully to the Iranians … find out what their interests are and look for areas where we can cooperate” and that the U.S. needs to “turn the operational control of the [Korean] Peninsula militarily over to President Moon and the Koreans.”

The Pentagon, in a statement to Axios, confirmed Macgregor has been hired as a senior adviser to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. It said Macgregor’s “decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.” Since Joe Biden became president-elect, Trump has refused to concede the race — but he’s also moved rapidly this week to fire top officials in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership. That includes Mark Esper, as well as the former Defense secretary’s chief of staff and other high-level officials in charge of intelligence and policy. He is replacing them with those perceived as loyal to him.

Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran, is a Trump loyalist and regular Fox News commentator. He’s known for his questioning of conventional Army leadership and decision-making , including strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his extreme rhetoric about Muslims and undocumented immigrants. He was passed over earlier this year for the Pentagon’s top policy job amid reports Esper had concerns about him.

 

 

Let’s see:

the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump’s personal scores

Personal scores as in how and what? As in not wanting to accept his own failed effort to bring the troops home, the effort that’s been frustrated for four years running now? And that he may be trying to correct as we speak?

Trump, who ran in 2016 on a promise to bring U.S. troops home, is frustrated with the slow pace of withdrawing troops from the Middle East

Of being frustrated by being frustrated with the pace at which his orders and wishes as commander in chief have been executed?

The president has told advisers on numerous occasions he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas.

How, pray tell, is that not a good thing? Why on earth would you want to present it as such? Asking for 320 million friends.

Since Joe Biden became president-elect, Trump has refused to concede the race

Biden is not the president-elect. Not one single state has so far certified its election results. It is bogus and you know it. Cut the nonsense. You have no clothes on.

He’s known for his questioning of conventional Army leadership and decision-making

Isn’t that part of a healthy process, that you question “official” policies which put the lives of young Americans at risk, that you do that every single moment of every single day, because those lives are precious and valuable? In my book, this is a big plus for the man. As it should be for every single American.

He was passed over earlier this year for the Pentagon’s top policy job amid reports Esper had concerns about him.

And that’s why Esper is gone. He was one more wrong choice Trump was led into. And yeah, Trump shares the blame for that.

 

 

Moving on to CNN’s comment on the Macgregor nomination. Mostly the same as that from Axios, with some added BS. Again, my comments below:

Trump Administration Installs Advocate For Quick Afghanistan Withdrawal At Pentagon

An ardent opponent of the US military’s presence in Afghanistan who once called for the use of lethal force against illegal immigrants and has made a litany of racist comments has been made a senior adviser at the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Wednesday that retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor “will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. MacGregor’s decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.” Macgregor’s appointment is the latest in a series of sweeping changes at the Pentagon that has put defense officials on edge and fueled a growing sense of alarm among military and civilian officials, who are concerned about what could come next.

Four senior Pentagon officials have been fired or have resigned since Monday, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper who was fired in a tweet by President Donald Trump, Esper’s chief of staff and the top officials overseeing policy and intelligence. The moves will likely only add to the sense of chaos within the Pentagon following Trump’s firing of Esper, which came two days after his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, was projected as the winner of the presidential election — a conclusion that Trump has refused to accept. Esper was replaced by Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Those who assumed new roles included controversial retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who moved into the Pentagon’s top policy role, taking over the duties of James Anderson, who resigned Tuesday, according to another US defense official. Macgregor has been a vocal opponent of the US military’s mission in Afghanistan and has called for a total withdrawal of US troops and the American Embassy despite the continued presence of terrorist groups there.

Knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that the White House-directed purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact Esper and his team were pushing back on a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan that would be carried out before the required conditions on the ground were met, and other pending security issues.

US military officials have long stressed that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is conditions based, with those conditions including the Taliban’s breaking its ties to al Qaeda and making progress in peace talks with the Afghan government, two conditions that have yet to be met. But despite the lack of progress, the Trump administration has already substantially reduced US troops in the country by more than 50%, bringing the number of US military personnel there down to about 4,500, the lowest levels since the earliest days of the post 9/11 campaign.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, has advocated for a more accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan irrespective of conditions on the ground, something made more feasible by the installation of White House loyalists in senior defense posts. He has also called for an immediate end to the US military effort in Syria, where a small number of US troops back the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS.

Macgregor once advocated for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants to deter illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America. He was nominated by Trump this summer to be the ambassador to Germany but faced fierce opposition for his remarks uncovered by CNN’s KFILE. KFILE reviewed dozens of radio and television interviews with Macgregor and found he often demonized immigrants and refugees. He warned Mexican cartels were “driving millions of Mexicans with no education, no skills and the wrong culture into the United States, placing them essentially as wards of the American people.” He repeatedly advocated instituting martial law at the US-Mexico border and to “shoot people” if necessary.

He has also called for an immediate end to the US military effort in Syria, where a small number of US troops back the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS. He also said that Eastern Ukrainians are “Russians” on the Russian state-controlled TV network RT in 2014 after Russia tried to annex Crimea and began an ongoing war with Ukraine over the territory — positions not supported by the European Union and United States.


He lamented that the US government intervened against Serbian forces, who engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes, during the Kosovo War in the 1990s to “put, essentially, a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country.”

Yeah, Bill Clinton’s intervention in former Yugoslavia was a highlight of US politics and intervention for the good of all mankind.

 

 

Again, let’s see:

An ardent opponent of the US military’s presence in Afghanistan who once called for the use of lethal force against illegal immigrants and has made a litany of racist comments

Pretty sure he was talking about the cartels, not unarmed people. But yeah, prove me wrong. And let’s see some of those racist comments.

Macgregor has been a vocal opponent of the US military’s mission in Afghanistan and has called for a total withdrawal of US troops and the American Embassy despite the continued presence of terrorist groups there.

Oh, get a life. It’s been 18 years and dick all has been accomplished. The country has always only ever been the CIA’s opium factory, providing the funds for its most secretive operations. You will find it in the thesaurus under “bottomless pit”.

the White House-directed purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact Esper and his team were pushing back on a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan

Again, yes, exactly. Why would a president leave someone in place whose policies contradict his own, who refuses to follow his orders?

US military officials have long stressed that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is conditions based

Yeah, sure, and who decides what those conditions are? They themselves do. But there is still only one commander in chief.

despite the lack of progress, the Trump administration has already substantially reduced US troops in the country by more than 50%

That is, the progress towards the military’s “conditions”, not the progress towards their commander-in-chief’s goal of bringing the troops home.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, has advocated for a more accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan irrespective of conditions on the ground

Like him already.

Macgregor once advocated for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants to deter illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America.

That’s quite a slanderous accusation if you have no examples. All I’ve seen is his comments on drug cartels who push people into the US.

He also said that Eastern Ukrainians are “Russians”

Oh, now we’re getting into Russiagate. How convenient. Why don’t we ask the Eastern Ukrainians themselves how they feel, or, you know, look at their history?

He lamented that the US government intervened against Serbian forces, who engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes, during the Kosovo War in the 1990s to “put, essentially, a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country.”

And just like that, he’s right again. Coincidence, or you think maybe he understands more than you do, and has more knowledge of the whole shebang? You know, being a 30-year veteran an all that? Or would you rather put your faith into a “journalist” at Axios or CNN?

Me, personally, I think about the families of the US troops stationed in the Middle East, and who want nothing more than to have their young loved ones home for Christmas. Alive and in one piece. Douglas Macgregor and Donald Trump may yet make that happen. But you have bigger interests and vistas in mind, you want to say?

 

 

 

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Tucker Macgregor Afghanistan
https://twitter.com/i/status/1326630978824007681

Macgregor Tucker May 1 2018

 

 

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Dec 252018
 


Rembrandt van Rijn The Adoration of the Magi 16xx

 

I still had some things I didn’t talk about in Sunday’s Trump Derangement International, about how the European press have found out that they, like the US MSM, can get lots of viewers and readers simply by publishing negative stories about Donald Trump. The US president is an attention magnet, as long as you only write things about him designed to make him look bad.

The Guardian is only too happy to comply. They ran a whole series of articles on Sunday to do juts that: try to make Trump look bad. Note that the Guardian editorial team that okayed the articles is the same as the one that allowed the fake Assange/Manafort one, so their credibility is already shot to pieces. It’s the magic triangle of today’s media profits: spout non-stop allegations against Russia, Trump and Julian Assange, and link them when and where you can. It doesn’t matter if what you say is true or not.

 

Anyway, all the following is from the Guardian, all on December 23. First off, Adam Gabbatt in New York, who has painstakingly researched how Trump’s businesses, like Trump Tower and the Trump store, don’t appear to have sufficiently (as per him) switched from Happy Holidays to Merry Christmas. Sherlock Holmes would have been proud. A smash hit there Adam, bring out the handcuffs.

 

Trump’s ‘Merry Christmas’ Pledge Fails To Manifest

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign he talked often about his determination to win one particular war. A war that had been raging for years, he said. Specifically: the war on Christmas. But despite Trump’s repeated claims that “people are saying Merry Christmas again” instead of the more inclusive “happy holidays”, there are several places where the Christmas greeting is absent: Trump’s own businesses.

The Trump Store, for example. Instead of a Christmas gift guide – which surely would be more in keeping with the president’s stated desire for the phrase to be used – the store offers a holiday gift guide. “Shop our Holiday Gift Guide and find the perfect present for the enthusiast on your list,” the online store urges. “Carefully curated to celebrate the most wonderful time of year with truly unique gifts found only at Trump Store. Add a bow on top with our custom gift wrapping. Happy Holiday’s!”

The use of the phrase “Happy Holiday’s” [sic] in Trump marketing would seem particularly egregious. The long-standing “War-on-Christmas” complaint from the political right is that stores use the phrase “Happy Holidays”, rather than specifically mentioning the Christian celebration. It is offered as both an example of political correctness gone mad, and as an effort to erase Christianity from the US.

It’s just, I think that if Trump had personally interfered to make sure there were Merry Christmas messages all around, you would have remarked that as president, he’s not allowed to be personally involved in his businesses. But yeah, you know, just to keep the negativity going, it works, no matter how fluffy and hollow.

 

Second, still on December 23, is Tom McCarthy for the Guardian in New York. Who talks about Robert Mueller’s phenomenal successes. Mueller charged 34 people so far. In a case that involves “this complexity which has international implications, aspects relying on the intelligence community, complicated cyber components”. It really says that.

And yes, that’s how many people view this. What do they care that Mueller’s original mandate was to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and ‘Russians’, and that he has not proven any collusion at all so far, not even with 34 people charged? What do they care? It looks like Trump is guilty of something, anything, after all, and that’s all the circus wants.

 

Robert Mueller Has Enjoyed A Year Of Successes … 2019 Could Be Even Stronger

One measure of special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutorial success in 2018 is the list of former top Donald Trump aides brought to justice: Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, a jury convicted Paul Manafort, a judge berated Michael Flynn. Another measure is the tally of new defendants that Mueller’s team charged (34), the number of new guilty pleas he netted (five) and the amount of money he clawed back through tax fraud cases ($48m).

Yet another measure might judge Mueller’s pace compared with previous independent prosecutors. “I would refer to it as a lightning pace,” said Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US attorney. “In a case of this complexity which has international implications, aspects relying on the intelligence community, complicated cyber components – to indict that many people that quickly is really impressive work.”

But there’s perhaps a more powerful way to measure Mueller’s progress in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and links between Moscow and the Trump campaign; that’s by noticing how the targets of his investigation have changed their postures over the course of 2018, from defiance to docility – or in the case of Trump himself, from defiance to extreme, hyperventilating defiance.

In reality, you would be at least as correct if you would claim that Robert Mueller’s investigation has been an abject failure. Not one iota of collusion has been proven after 20 months and $20 million in funds have been used. And any serious investigation of Washington’s culture of fixers and lobbyists would land at least 34 people who have committed acts that border on or over illegality. And in a matter of weeks, for a few hundred bucks.

 

Third, still on December 23, is Julian Borger in Washington, who’s been elected to convey the image of chaos. Trump Unleashed, says our modern day Shakespeare. With Jim Mad Dog Mattis characterized as “.. the last independently minded, globally respected, major figure left in the administration”... Again, it really says that.

Because woe the man who tries to bring US troops home, or even promises to do so a few days before Christmas. For pulling out America’s finest, Donald Trump is being portrayed as something eerily close to the antichrist. That truly is the world on its head. Bringing troops home to their families equals chaos.

Look, guys, if Trump has been guilty of criminal behavior, the US justice system should be able to find that out and convict him for it. But that’s not what this is about anymore. A million articles have been written, like these ones in the Guardian, with the sole intention, evidence being scarce to non-existent, of smearing him to the extent that people see every subsequent article in the light of a man having previously been smeared.

 

Chaos At Home, Fear Abroad: Trump Unleashed Puts Western World On Edge

The US stumbled into the holiday season with a sense of unravelling, as a large chunk of the federal government ground to a halt, the stock market crashed and the last independently minded, globally respected, major figure left in the administration announced he could no longer work with the president. The defense secretary, James Mattis, handed in his resignation on Thursday, over Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to pull US troops out of Syria.

On Saturday another senior official joined the White House exodus. Brett McGurk, the special envoy for the global coalition to defeat Isis and the US official closest to America’s Kurdish allies in the region, was reported to have handed in his resignation on Friday. That night, senators flew back to Washington from as far away as Hawaii for emergency talks aimed at finding a compromise on Trump’s demand for nearly $6bn for a wall on the southern border, a campaign promise which has become an obsession.

Now look at the next headline, December 23, Graeme Wearden, Guardian, and ask yourself if it’s really Trump saying he doesn’t agree with the rate hikes that fuels the fears, or whether it’s the hikes themselves. And also ask yourself: when Trump and Mnuchin both deny reports of Trump firing Powell, why do journalists keep saying the opposite? Because they want to fuel some fears?

From where I’m sitting, it looks perfectly logical that Trump says he doesn’t think Powell’s decisions are good for the US economy. And it doesn’t matter which one of the two turns out to be right: Trump isn’t the only person who disagrees with the Fed hikes.

The main suspect for 2019 market turmoil is the inevitable fallout from the Fed’s QE under Bernanke and Yellen. And there is something to be said for Powell trying to normalize rates, but there’s no doubt that may hasten, if not cause, turmoil. Blaming it on Trump not agreeing with Jay Powell is pretty much as left field as it gets.

 

White House Attacks On Fed Chair Fuel Fears Of Market Turmoil In 2019

Over the weekend, a flurry of reports claimed Donald Trump had discussed the possibility of firing the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell. Such an unprecedented move would trigger further instability in the markets, which have already had their worst year since the 2008 crisis. US officials scrambled to deny Trump had suggested ousting Powell, who was appointed by the president barely a year ago.

The Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, tweeted that he had spoken to the president, who insisted he “never suggested firing” Powell, and did not believe he had the right to do this. However, Trump also declared – via Mnuchin – that he “totally disagrees” with the Fed’s “absolutely terrible” policy of raising interest rates and unwinding its bond-buying stimulus programme, piling further pressure on the US’s independent central bank.

And now, in the only article in the Guardian series that’s December 24, not 23, by Victoria Bekiempis and agencies, the plunging numbers in the stock markets are Trump’s fault, too.

 

Trump ‘Plunging Us Into Chaos’, Democrats Say, As Markets Tank And Shutdown Persists

Top Democrats have accused Donald Trump of “plunging the country into chaos” as top officials met to discuss a growing rout in stock markets caused in part by the president’s persistent attacks on the Federal Reserve and a government shutdown. “It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” the two top Democrats in Congress, House speaker nominee Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, wrote in a joint statement on Monday. “The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense.”

Trump criticized the Federal Reserve on Monday, describing it as the “only problem” for the US economy, even as top officials convened the “plunge protection team” forged after the 1987 crash to discuss the growing rout in stock markets. The crisis call on Monday between US financial regulators and the US treasury department failed to assure markets, and stocks fell again amid concern about slowing economic growth, the continuing government shutdown, and reports that Trump had discussed firing Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

The last one is from one Jonathan Jones, again December 23, again for the Guardian. And it takes the top award in the narrative building contest.

Again, the Guardian editorial team that okayed this article is still the same as the one that allowed the fake Assange/Manafort one, an editorial team that sees no problem in making things up in order to smear people. To portray Trump, Assange and anyone who’s had the misfortune of being born in Russia as suspicious if not outright criminal.

But look at what Jones has to say, and what Guardian editor-in-chief Kathy Viner and her ilk allowed and pressured him to say. He wants to have a say in how Trump should dress (seasonal knitwear), he evokes the image of Nazi architect Albert Speer for no reason at all, and then it’s a matter of mere inches until you arrive at Trump as a king, an emperor, an inner tyrant.

“He’s in a tuxedo!”, Like that’s a bad thing for Christmas. “She’s in white!”. Oh dear, call the pope. If both Trumps would have put on Christmas sweaters in front of a fire, the writer would have found something negative in that.

 

Trump Portrait: You Couldn’t Create A Creepier Yuletide Scene If You Tried

The absence of intimacy in the Trumps’ official Christmas portrait freezes the heart. Can it be that hard to create a cosy image of the presidential couple, perhaps in front of a roaring hearth, maybe in seasonal knitwear? Or is this quasi-dictatorial image exactly what the president wants to project? Look on my Christmas trees, ye mighty, and despair! If so, it fuels suspicions that it is only the checks and balances of a 230-year-old constitution that are keeping America from the darkest of political fates. You couldn’t create a creepier Yuletide scene if you tried. Multiple Christmas trees are currently a status symbol for the wealthy, but this picture shows the risks.

Instead of a homely symbol of midwinter cheer, these disciplined arboreal ranks with their uniform decorations are arrayed like massed soldiers or colossal columns designed by Albert Speer. The setting is the Cross Hall in the White House and, while the incumbent president cannot be held responsible for its architecture, why heighten its severity with such rigid, heartless seasonal trappings? Everything here communicates cold, empty magnificence. Tree lights that are as frigid as icicles are mirrored in a cold polished floor. Equally frosty illuminations are projected on the ceiling. Instead of twinkling fairy magic, this lifeless lighting creates a sterile, inhuman atmosphere.

You can’t imagine kids playing among these trees or any conceivable fun being had by anyone. It suggests the micromanaged, corporate Christmas of a Citizen Kane who has long since lost touch with the ordinary, warm pleasures of real life. In the centre of this disturbing piece of conceptual art stand Donald and Melania Trump. He’s in a tuxedo, she’s wearing white – and not a woolly hat in sight. Their formal smartness adds to the emotional numbness of the scene. Trump’s shark-like grin has nothing generous or friendly about it. He seems to want to show off his beautiful wife and his fantastic home rather than any of the cuddly holiday spirit a conventional politician might strive to share at this time.

It begs a question: how can a man who so glaringly lacks anything like a common touch be such a successful “populist”? What can a midwestern voter find in this image to connect with? Perhaps that’s the point. After more than two centuries of democracy, Trump is offering the US people a king, or emperor. In this picture, he gives full vent to his inner tyrant. If this portrait contains any truth about the state of America and the world, may Santa help us all.

I realize that you may be tired of the whole story. I realize you may have been caught in the anti-Trump narrative. And I am by no means a Trump fan. But I will keep on dragging you back to this. Because the discussion should not be based on a handful of media moguls not liking Trump. It should not be based on innuendo and smear. If Trump is to be convicted, it must be on evidence.

And there is no such evidence. Robert Mueller has charged 34 people, but none with what his mandate was based on, none with Russia collusion. This means that the American political system, and democracy itself, is under severe threat by the very media that are supposed to be its gate keepers.

 

None of this is about Trump, or about whether you like him or not, or even if he’s a shady character or not. Instead, it’s about the influence the media have on how our opinions and ideas about people and events are being shaped on a daily basis.

And once you acknowledge that your opinions of Trump, Putin et al, even without any proof of a connection between them, are actively being molded by the press you expect to inform you about the truth behind what goes on, you will have to acknowledge, too, that you are a captive of forces that use your gullibility to make a profit off you.

If our media need to make up things all the time about who’s guilty of what, because our justice systems are incapable of that, then we have a problem so enormous we may not be able to overcome it in our present settings.

Alternatively, if we trust our justice systems to deliver true justice, we don’t need a hundred articles a day to tell us how Trump or Putin are such terrible threats to our world. Our judges will tell us, not our journalists or media who are only in it for a profit.

I can say: “let’s start off 2019 trying to leave prejudice behind”, and as much as that is needed and you may agree with me, it’s no use if you don’t realize to what extent your views of the world have been shaped by prejudice.

I see people reacting to the star writer at Der Spiegel who wrote a lot about Trump, being exposed as a fraud. I also see people trying to defend Julian Assange from the Guardian article about his alleged meetings with Paul Manafort, that was an obvious big fat lie (the truth is Manafort talked to Ecuador to help them ‘sell’ Assange to the US).

But reacting to the very obvious stuff is not enough. The echo chamber distorts the truth about Trump every single day, and at least six times on Sunday, as this essay of mine shows. It’s just that after two years of this going on 24/7, it is perceived as the normal.

Everyone makes money dumping on the Donald, it’s a proven success formula, so why would the Guardian and Der Spiegel stay behind? They’d only hurt their own bottom line.

It has nothing to do with journalism, though, or news. It’s smear and dirt, the business model of the National Enquirer. That’s how far our once truthful media have fallen.

 

 

Dec 252018
 
 December 25, 2018  Posted by at 10:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Caravaggio Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence 1600

 

The Stock Market Just Booked Its Ugliest Christmas Eve Plunge — Ever (MW)
Japan’s Nikkei Drops 5% After Wall Street Slide Deepens (CNBC)
US Crude Plunges 6.7%, Settling At 18-Month Low At $42.53 (CNBC)
‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’: Experts Say Global Bear Market Coming (CNBC)
In Defense of the Fed (Stephen S. Roach)
Trump, Annoyed By Resignation Letter, Pushes Out Mattis Early (R.)
Mnuchin Holds Calls With Heads Of America’s 6 Biggest Banks Amid Shutdown (F.)
Facebook Is The ‘Biggest Concern’ Among The FAANGs (CNBC)
China Won’t Resort To Massive Monetary Stimulus Next Year – PBOC (CNBC)
Gatwick Drones Pair ‘No Longer Suspects’ (BBC)
Gatwick Police Say They Cannot Discount Possibility There Was No Drone (Ind.)
‘Home Alone’: Bored Trump Tweets Up Storm During Christmas Shutdown (RT)

 

 


Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were not each other’s biggest fans

 

 

I kid you not: plenty people are blaming this on Trump, too.

The Stock Market Just Booked Its Ugliest Christmas Eve Plunge — Ever (MW)

Never mind finding coal in your stocking for the holidays. Wall Street investors scored a rare — and unwanted — gift this year. The S&P 500 index fell by 2.7% Monday, marking the first session before Christmas that the broad-market benchmark has booked a loss of 1% or greater — ever. That statistic has been confirmed by Dow Jones Market Data, which said the largest decline in the index on the trading day before Christmas was Dec. 23 in 1933.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 653 points, or 2.9%, representing its worst decline on the session prior to Christmas in the 122-year-old blue-chip gauge’s history. Check out the table below from Dow Jones Market Data:

U.S. stock indexes ended trading at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Christmas Eve and will be closed on Christmas. The current dynamic in the market has it set for its worst monthly and yearly decline in about a decade, amid nagging concerns that the Federal Reserve is normalizing interest rates too rapidly, and that a continuing tariff dispute between China and the U.S. could devolve and help lead to a domestic recession, as international economies are already demonstrating signs of a slowdown. Also stoking anxiety was a tweet from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to assess the health of the banking system, which has raised some questions about liquidity among those institutions that had not previously been raised. Treasury officials insist that the calls to bank executives were just a routine checkup.

Read more …

The ongoing success of Abenomics.

Japan’s Nikkei Drops 5% After Wall Street Slide Deepens (CNBC)

Japan’s Nikkei retreated to a 20-month low on Tuesday after a slide on Wall Street deepened with a series of unnerving U.S. political developments. The Nikkei share average ended the day down 5.01 percent at 19,155.74 after brushing its lowest since late April 2017. The day’s performance put the index well into bear market territory — off more than 20 percent since its October high. Japan’s broader Topix closed 4.88 percent lower at 1,415.55 after touching 1,412.90, its weakest since November 2016.

Meanwhile, in China, the Shanghai Index posted losses of more than 2 percent by mid-day, but then gained some ground back into the afternoon. Chinese sectors lost ground across the board, led by financial shares and energy firms as oil prices slumped. So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down about 24 percent. Those Asia moves followed Wall Street stocks extending their steep sell-off on Monday, with the S&P 500 down nearly 15 percent so far this month, as investors were rattled by the U.S. Treasury secretary’s convening of a crisis group and by other political developments.

Many financial markets in Asia, Europe and North America are closed on Tuesday for Christmas Day. “Negative sentiment has replaced logic, as is often the case during a sell-off. A third of the selling is induced by panic, another third by loss-cutting and the remaining third by speculators trying to make a profit from the market rout,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities in Tokyo. “The sell-off is triggered almost entirely by developments in the U.S. markets, rather than by negative factors unique to the domestic market.”

Read more …

Oil swings too much to be safe.

US Crude Plunges 6.7%, Settling At 18-Month Low At $42.53 (CNBC)

U.S. crude plunged nearly 7 percent on Monday, hitting its lowest levels in a year and half, as the oil market fell in tandem with equities amid deepening turmoil in Washington DC. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 600 points, while the S&P 500 closed in bear market territory. Both stock indexes were buffeted by headlines out of Washington, including a government shutdown and President Donald Trump’s reported desire to fire Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell over the central bank’s interest rate increases.

The selling in global risk assets on Christmas Eve deepened a nearly three-month slide in oil prices. From peak to trough, U.S. crude has fallen nearly 45 percent from its 52-week high at the start of October. Brent has fallen as much as 42 percent over the same period. “For now, there’s no place to hide in any of these markets. Oil’s being taken down with the stock market and the negative sentiment that’s sweeping across really everything, and for now the downward pressure is going to persist,” John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday.

Read more …

The so-called experts see themselves as mighty smart when all they’ve done is suck from the fed’s trough. Humbug!

‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’: Experts Say Global Bear Market Coming (CNBC)

Volatility on Wall Street has led shares across the globe on a wild ride in recent months, resulting in a number of stock markets dipping into bear territory. That’s set to worsen in the new year, experts told CNBC on Monday. Bear markets — typically defined as 20 percent or more off a recent peak — are threatening investors worldwide. In the U.S., the Nasdaq Composite closed in a bear market on Friday and the S&P 500 entered one on Monday. Globally, Germany’s DAX and China’s Shanghai Composite have also entered bear market levels. Major market risks remain, experts said. The Federal Reserve is likely to continue raising interest rates and worries about a global economic slowdown — made worse by a trade war between the U.S. and China — are mounting.

“I would love to be more optimistic but i just don’t see too many positives out there. I think the worst is yet to come next year, we’re still in the first half of a global equity bear market with more to come next year,” Mark Jolley, global strategist at CCB International Securities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” For Jolley, the big risk lies in the credit markets. With the Fed projecting another two interest rate hikes in 2019, companies will find it increasingly difficult to service their debt causing some to default or get downgraded, he said. Such weakness in the credit markets will spill over to stocks, noted Jolley. “My core scenario will be a credit event, which will further weigh on equity markets, which will definitely weigh on high growth sectors like tech,” he said.

More generally, investors have fewer reasons to be optimistic now because the Fed tightening monetary policy means there will be less money for investments, said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank. “There is really no conviction for markets to buy back because they’re not sure this is the bottom, and so they are thinking this is the proverbial falling knives,” Varathan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Read more …

The Fed spent the past 10 years making sure its member banks kept on making indecent amounts of money. And now they need to be defended?

In Defense of the Fed (Stephen S. Roach)

I have not been a fan of the policies of the US Federal Reserve for many years. Despite great personal fondness for my first employer, and appreciation of all that working there gave me in terms of professional training and intellectual stimulation, the Fed had lost its way. From bubble to bubble, from crisis to crisis, there were increasingly compelling reasons to question the Fed’s stewardship of the US economy. That now appears to be changing. Notwithstanding howls of protest from market participants and rumored unconstitutional threats from an unhinged US president, the Fed should be congratulated for its steadfast commitment to policy “normalization.”

It is finally confronting the beast that former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan unleashed over 30 years ago: the “Greenspan put” that provided asymmetric support to financial markets by easing policy aggressively during periods of market distress while condoning froth during upswings. Since the October 19, 1987 stock-market crash, investors have learned to count on the Fed’s unfailing support, which was justified as being consistent with what is widely viewed as the anchor of its dual mandate: price stability. With inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index averaging a mandate-compliant 2.1% in the 20-year period ending in 2017, the Fed was, in effect, liberated to go for growth.

And so it did. But the problem with the growth gambit is that it was built on the quicksand of an increasingly asset-dependent and ultimately bubble- and crisis-prone US economy. Greenspan, as a market-focused disciple of Ayn Rand, set this trap. Drawing comfort from his tactical successes in addressing the 1987 crash, he upped the ante in the late 1990s, arguing that the dot-com bubble reflected a new paradigm of productivity-led growth in the US. Then, in the early 2000s, he committed a far more serious blunder, insisting that a credit-fueled housing bubble, inflated by “innovative” financial products, posed no threat to the US economy’s fundamentals. As one error compounded the other, the asset-dependent economy took on a life of its own.

Read more …

Someone better collect some pieces on Mattis from 2 years ago. Won’t look anything like the sainthood declarations he’s getting today.

Trump, Annoyed By Resignation Letter, Pushes Out Mattis Early (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday said he was replacing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis two months earlier than had been expected, a move officials said was driven by Trump’s anger at Mattis’ resignation letter and its rebuke of his foreign policy. On Thursday, Mattis had abruptly said he was quitting, effective Feb. 28, after falling out with Trump over his foreign policy, including surprise decisions to withdraw all troops from Syria and start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan. Trump has come under withering criticism from fellow Republicans, Democrats and international allies over his decisions about Syria and Afghanistan, against the advice of his top aides and U.S. commanders.

The exit of Mattis, highly regarded by Republicans and Democrats alike, added to concerns over what many see as Trump’s unpredictable, go-it-alone approach to global security. Trump said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan would take over on an acting basis from Jan. 1. In announcing his resignation, Mattis distributed a candid resignation letter addressed to Trump that laid bare the growing divide between them, and implicitly criticized Trump for failing to value America’s closest allies, who fought alongside the United States in both conflicts. Mattis said that Trump deserved to have a defense secretary more aligned with his views.

Trump, who tweeted on Thursday that Mattis was “retiring, with distinction, at the end of February,” made his displeasure clear on Saturday by tweeting that the retired Marine general had been “ingloriously fired” by former President Barack Obama and he had given Mattis a second chance.

Read more …

The only interesting question: why go public with something so ordinary?

Mnuchin Holds Calls With Heads Of America’s 6 Biggest Banks Amid Shutdown (F.)

No need to panic. That was the message Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to convey after holding unscheduled Sunday afternoon calls with the heads of the largest banks in America, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Michael Corbat of Citigroup, Tim Sloan of Wells Fargo, David Solomon of Goldman Sachs and James Gorman of Morgan Stanley. In a statement released by Treasury, Mnuchin said these CEOs confirmed “markets continue to function properly.” These bankers also assured Mnuchin their firms have the liquidity to fund themselves and their lending activities, and reported no clearance or margin issues on their trades, Treasury said.

A decade ago, such calls and terse press releases were routine Sunday events as Treasury officials, the Federal Reserve, and bank heads worked together to stem the worst financial panic since the Great Depression. This time, however, Mnuchin’s unusual efforts come amid a growing economy where credit is flowing freely. Instead of a financial panic, his comments seemed aimed at market concerns coming from political turmoil in Washington.

On Monday, Mnuchin will convene a call with the President’s Working Group on financial markets “to discuss coordination efforts to ensure normal market operations,” bringing together the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission.

Read more …

They’re all grossly overvalued.

Facebook Is The ‘Biggest Concern’ Among The FAANGs (CNBC)

One industry analyst has sounded the alarm on Facebook, calling the company the “biggest concern” among the so-called FAANG stocks. “The digital economy operates on trust, and they’ve broken trust on so many levels,” Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder at Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday. The FAANG stocks consist of Silicon Valley tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet.

Wang said many of Facebook’s trust woes have been “centralized” around Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who was in the spotlight after a New York Times report in mid-November about the executive and the social media company’s internal operations. The Times report came on the back of a series of scandals and incidents which have mired Facebook in controversy and sent its stock sinking in 2018. As of its last close after extended hours trade on Dec. 21, the company’s stock price was more than 40 percent off its 52-week high. Asked about the possibility of Sandberg departing from Facebook, Wang said it was “in the rumor category.”

Read more …

China’s afraid of the exchange rate.

China Won’t Resort To Massive Monetary Stimulus Next Year – PBOC (CNBC)

China will not resort to “flood-like” stimulus in monetary policy next year, although it will consider more cuts as needed to reserves held at commercial banks, local media quoted a central bank adviser as saying in a report on Tuesday. The Chinese economy will face downward pressure in 2019, while the pace of growth will gradually stabilize, the 21st Century Business Herald quoted Sheng Songcheng, an advisor to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), as saying. “Monetary policy will remain prudent and won’t be a ‘flood.’ Otherwise, funds will likely flow into the property sector again,” Sheng was quoted as saying by the state-backed newspaper.

There remains room for further cuts in banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRRs), and Sheng does not recommend broad-based reductions in interest rates, it said. China will bolster support next year for its economy, the world’s second-largest, by cutting taxes and keeping liquidity ample, the official Xinhua news agency said after last week’s Central Economic Work Conference, an annual closed-door gathering of party leaders and policymakers. [..] On exchange rates, the central bank adviser said China should defend the yuan at the key seven-per-dollar level. “The key threshold of seven per dollar is very important. If the yuan weakens past that crucial point, the cost of stabilizing the exchange rate will be greater,” Sheng was quoted as saying.

Read more …

The level of incompetence is sobering.

Police tell BBC News they “cannot discount the possibility that there may have been no drone at all”.

Gatwick Drones Pair ‘No Longer Suspects’ (BBC)

A man and woman arrested in connection with drone sightings that grounded flights at Gatwick Airport have been released without charge. The 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman, from Crawley, West Sussex, had been arrested on Friday night. Sussex Police said there had been 67 reports of drone sightings – having earlier cast doubt on “genuine drone activity”. Det Ch Supt Jason Tingley said no footage of a drone had been obtained. And he said there was “always a possibility” the reported sightings of drones were mistaken.

However, he later confirmed the reported sightings made by the public, police and airport staff from December 19 to 21 were being “actively investigated”. “We are interviewing those who have reported these sightings, are carrying out extensive house-to-house inquiries, and carrying out a forensic examination of a damaged drone found near the perimeter of the airport.” Det Ch Supt Tingley said it was “a working assumption” the device could be connected to their investigation, but officers were keeping “an open mind”.

Read more …

‘We are working with human beings saying they have seen something..’ Cue 150,000 ruined holidays.

Gatwick Police Say They Cannot Discount Possibility There Was No Drone (Ind.)

Detectives investigating the Gatwick drone attacks which caused three days of chaos for passengers say it is possible there never were any drones. Police do not have any footage of the flying machines at the airfield and are relying on accounts from witnesses and the discovery of a damaged device. The revelation by Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley came after the couple arrested by Sussex Police on Friday night were released without charge. Asked about speculation there never was a drone, he said: “Of course, that’s a possibility. We are working with human beings saying they have seen something. “Until we’ve got more clarity around what they’ve said, the detail – the time, place, direction of travel, all those types of things – and that’s a big task.”

Mr Tingley said one of the “working theories” was that the damaged drone found close to the airport in Sussex was responsible for causing the disruption. “Always look at it with an open mind, but actually it’s very basic common sense that a damaged drone, which may have not been there at a particular point in time has now been seen by an occupier, a member of the public, and then they’ve told us, ‘we’ve found this’. “Then we go and forensically recover it and do everything we can at that location to try and get a bit more information.” [..] Gatwick Airport has offered a £50,000 reward through Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the chaos.

Read more …

It doesn’t matter what anybody does, Trump still hoards the attention.

‘Home Alone’: Bored Trump Tweets Up Storm During Christmas Shutdown (RT)

With the US government shut down due to the dispute over funding President Donald Trump’s border wall, and his family in Florida, the chief executive has chosen to spend the Christmas holiday taking potshots at critics on Twitter. Funding for about a quarter of US government services ran out on Friday at midnight, as Senate Democrats refused to endorse a House funding bill that would’ve given Trump $5.7 billion for the border wall. Trump was supposed to celebrate Christmas at Mar-a-Lago with his family, but elected to stay in the White House instead, tweeting up a storm.

Trump tweeted twenty times on Thursday, as the shutdown loomed. He continued posting on Friday (ten), Saturday (seven) and Sunday (eight), then ramped up the schedule on Monday, with ten tweets by the early afternoon. In addition to his usual complaints about “Fake News” and Democrats, Trump has also taken aim at the Federal Reserve, praised Saudi Arabia, and dismissed Washington’s envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition as an “Obama appointee” who gave Iran $1.8 billion “in CASH” as part of the “horrific” nuclear deal. He also complained, tongue firmly in cheek, about being “all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.”

Though Trump’s Twitter tirades usually trigger the trolls, that last one brought up a multitude of call-backs to the president’s cameo in 1992’s Christmas comedy ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.’

Read more …

Aug 122018
 
 August 12, 2018  Posted by at 1:21 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Henri Matisse View of Nôtre Dame 1914

 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan became Prime Minister of Turkey in 2003. His AKP party had won a major election victory in 2002, but Erdogan was banned from political office until his predecessor Gül annulled the ban. Which he had gotten in 1997 for reciting an old poem to which he had added the lines “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers….”

The Turkish courts of the time saw this as “an incitement to violence and religious or racial hatred..” and sentenced him to ten months in prison (of which he served four in 1999). The courts saw Erdogan as a threat to the secular Turkish state as defined by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey in the 1920’s. Erdogan is trying to both turn the nation towards Islam and at the same time not appearing to insult Ataturk.

The reality is that many Turks today lean towards a religion-based society, and no longer understand why Ataturk insisted on a secular(ist) state. Which he did after many years of wars and conflicts as a result of religious -and other- struggles. Seeing how Turkey lies in the middle between Christian Europe and the Muslim world, it is not difficult to fathom why the ‘father’ of the country saw secularism as the best if not only option. But that was 90 years ago.

And it doesn’t serve Erdogan’s purposes. If he can appeal to the ‘silent’ religious crowd and gather their support, he has the power. To wit. In 2003, one of his first acts as prime minister was to have Turkey enter George W.’s coalition of the willing to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As a reward for that, negotiations for Turkey to join the EU started. These are officially still happening, but unofficially they’re dead.

In 2014 Erdogan finally got his dream job: president. Ironically, in order to get the job, Erdogan depended heavily on the movement of scholar and imam Fethullah Gülen, who, despite moving to Pennsylvania in 1999, still had (has?) considerable influence in Turkish society. Two years after becoming president, Erdogan accused Gülen of being the mastermind behind a ‘failed coup’ in 2016, after which tens of thousands of alleged Gülenists were arrested, fired, etc.

 

Fast forward to the past week. Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Turkey, ostensibly because Erdogan refuses to free an American pastor. The result was a god-almighty drop in the Turkish lira. Analysts at Goldman Sachs said if it reached 7:1 vs the USD, it would be game over for Turkish banks. It got to 6.8:1 before falling back to 6.4:1. And without support from China or the IMF, it would indeed appear the game’s up.

With a stronger dollar, investors’ urge to have their money in emerging markets fades away. And with Turkey being the ugliest horse in the EM factory (perhaps after Argentina, but that’s a whole different story), it’s only logical it would be the first emerging market to see foreign investment disappear. It’s the easiest thing in the world, and It looks something like this:

Here, Turkey’s the main outlier. Tyler Durden’s comment: “as JPMorgan showed 2 months ago, Turkey faces a secondary threat in addition to its gaping current account deficit: a massive and growing debt load. If foreign buyers of Turkish debt go on strike, or if Turkey is unable to rollover near-term maturities, watch how quickly the currency crisis transforms into a broad economic collapse.”

 

 

This next graph from the IIF shows how much debt Turkey has, and in which sectors. Not much household debt, which is positive, but a monster non-financial corporate debt, which is definitely not. NOTE: Hungary is no. 2 on this one, but look at the graph above, and you see that while Turkey has a current account DEFICIT and RISING external debt, Hungary has a current account SURPLUS and FALLING external debt. Don’t do the apples and oranges thing! Also note that Argentina’s debt is almost all government (bonds)

Along that same line, I saw Tom Luongo today compare Turkey anno now to Russia in 2014/15, but Moscow’s USD and EUR debt is about 25%, while Turkey’s is at 70%. it’s a very bad comparison. Russia has had sanctions for ages, and it’s and plenty time to adapt its economy to them. They have to hold some USD and Treasury’s, but they’re largely fine. Turkey is not.

 

 

The third graph is useful because it depicts what currencies countries’ non-financial sectors have borrowed in. Again, Turkey is an outlier, this time in its USD exposure.

 

 

And unsurprisingly, we have EU banks exposed to Turkey. What’s wrong with BBVA? What’s wrong with Draghi?

 

 

But this is easy stuff. We know all this, or we could have. Turkey has been splurging on debt at least ever since Erdogan became PM 15 years ago. He bought his popularity to a large extent with large scale infrastructure projects, without letting on the country -and its corporate sector- were financing the projects with money borrowed from abroad (he built a $100 million, 1000-room palace for himself as well).

Where I think it gets really interesting, and I’ve been keeping away a bit from what others have written the past few days, is in what Erdogan knows about this, and how long he’s known how dire the situation is, and what he’s planning to do next. Because if he knows how bad things are, and he has it for a while, he may well have orchestrated the recent fall-out with Trump et al, to use it as a political tool.

What Erdogan needs is someone to blame for his collapsing economy. And also, if he can get it, a bail-out from somewhere anywhere. Problem with the bail-out thing is, no matter what option might be available, and it’s only might be, he will be forced to relinquish a lot of the central control he’s carefully built up through constitution amendments etc.

His -maybe- options are the IMF, Russia and China. The IMF equals America, and even if they feel a loan to Istanbul is better than an outright collapse, they will take his control over the central bank away, and probably much more – austerity on steroids.

Russia might want to assist, if only to get Turkey away from NATO, which Putin sees as a growing threat now it keeps approaching his borders ever more. Greece is presently in an angry spat with Moscow because the latter is trying to frustrate the Macedonia name deal that the US has been encouraging, which would lead to Macedonia NATO membership, and even more NATO troops right on Russian borders.

But Putin hasn’t forgotten Erdogan shooting down a Russian jet fighter in 2015, and you can bet he will avenge that ‘incident’. He’s at best ambivalent about supporting Erdogan, but he recognizes the potential advantages. Then again, he also recognizes the pluses of letting Turkey slide into a position where Erdogan will be forced out and the secular state reinstated. Russia doesn’t want more Muslim states on its borders anymore than it wants more NATO. Suffice it to say Putin’s watching closely. And he’s got his moves ready.

China sees things differently; it can of course appreciate the potential of Turkey as a strategic gem, if only for its Belt and Road Initiative, but Beijing can also see the potential problems. It’s easier -and much cheaper- to buy up Greek assets for that same purpose -and for pennies on the dollar- now that the EU and US have forced the country’s economy to slide into third world territory. Still if Erdogan gets desperate enough, XI may yet jump in. But Erdogan will not be an independent actor anymore, in his own country. Xi does not dole out Christmas gifts.

 

On Saturday, Erdogan -again- summoned Turks to bring home their foreign funds and to change all dollars and euros and bonds for lira. That may seem strange -and it probably is- because the first reaction is for people to do the exact opposite as long as the lira is plunging. But it appeals to that same religious sentiment that he has founded his entire political power on. Without it, he’s done anyway.

His approach now is to blame someone else for Turkey’s economic problems. Which is nonsense for anyone who has the valid details, but remember, his gutting of the press after the alleged ‘coup’ two years ago has left precious little information available to the Turkish people.

Erdogan has said he will look for other friends than the US. As detailed above, that will not be easy unless he’s prepared to give up substantial amounts of his power. He’s not prepared for that. It’s much easier for him, let alone advantageous, to claim there’s an economic war against Turkey being leveled. And he wouldn’t even be 100% wrong.

Thing is, to prevent the latest escalation, all he would have had to do was to release an American pastor. The fact that he didn’t is perhaps more telling than anything in all this. He’s looking for someone, come country, some organization perhaps, to present as an enemy to the Turkish people.

Since I’ve spent a lot of time in Athens in the past few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if Turkey, whose jetfighters’ violations of Greek air space have become so routine not even the Greek press tries to keep track, would invade, and claim ownership of, some Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, even if they’re just some uninhabited rocks, to whip up nationalist sentiment back home.

Recep Tayyip has long seen this coming. His economy is collapsing, his currency is collapsing, so he’ll focus on what’s left: Turkey’s strategic position on the map, its NATO membership, the negotiations for EU membership, and most of all the support of the Muslim contingent in Turkey that solidifies his power.

I don’t really want to make any historical comparisons, they appear obvious enough. Suffice it to say this ain’t over by a long shot, and it could lead to big trouble.

And don’t let’s forget that Turkey presently hosts millions of Syrian refugees. Erdogan can just buy a bunch of dinghies (he can still afford that) and cause absolute chaos in Greece and the EU.

Who’s going to be buying lira’s on Monday?

 

 

Dec 242017
 
 December 24, 2017  Posted by at 5:47 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Walter Hege Caryatid overlooking the city of Athens 1930

 

Christmas is the time when the western world makes a doomed attempt to remember a story whose meaning it has long forgotten, and still claim the story as its own every single time, every single year, claim it as its foundation, the foundation of the principles that guide its societies, its politics and its religion.

Western countries, whether they’re predominantly Catholic or Protestant, label themselves Christian, after Jesus Christ, a man their holy scriptures say is/was the Son of their God, and after his teachings, his sermons and the example his own life is supposed to have been for all his followers. Turn the other cheek, help those in need, don’t judge.

But as we celebrate Jesus’ birth at the time of winter solstice, and we acknowledge that he and his parents, Joseph and Maria, were refugees driven into exile, and the only place the birth could take place was a manger far away from their home, we lose out on the connection to our savior from the very first moment.

Because we sit in our warm and cosy homes, surrounded by meals worthy of kings, and presents worthy of princes and princesses, while frail forms and emaciated children are fainting at our doors. While we are quite aware that whatever Jesus meant to say 2000 years ago, and some of that may have been lost over time, one thing we do know is that he didn’t mean this.

There’s no way he meant for us to, two millennia down the road, to look at present day refugees driven into exile far away from home, just like he and his parents were, and not lift a finger to help them. So when politicians like UK PM Theresa May say in their Christmas messages to their nations that they should “take pride in their Christian heritage”, that’s not just empty rhetoric, it’s hollow.

But as long as religion still sells, and there are many countries where it does, perhaps nowhere more than the US, politicians will quote Jesus and do the opposite of what he actually said according to the bible, and all without blinking once. The thirst for power over others does strange things to people, and our societies are still fully unprepared for that, and we still hear them say one thing and do another, and we still believe what they say. We’re suckers for snake oil.

 

Actual clergymen and other people of real faith may be somewhat different from politicians and their flocks, but as long as the Vatican remains opulently rich and clad in gold while Catholics and others around the world live in die in misery, perhaps we should question the link between Jesus and the church, the very link the latter base their entire authority on.

Perhaps, as well, we should question any and all claims of being ‘God’s own country’ made by any and all nations who send their best and bravest to go and kill the best and bravest of other nations for the sake of religion, resources or empire. Nothing of that has anything to do with Jesus.

And perhaps we should look for Jesus not in the people who talk about him, but in those who act like him, and like he told his contemporaries to act. And yeah, that takes me to Greece, and the Automatic Earth for Athens fund.

 

Not in any kind of presumptuous way, mind you, certainly not when it comes to me, but I have met quite a few people who seem to understand Jesus much better than most politicians and church leaders do, they just don’t talk about it, they do it. That much must have become clear through the past 2,5 years and 13-14 articles (for links, see bottom of this article) that I’ve written about them.

The reason I haven’t written much on the topic over the past 9 months or so comes down pretty much to growing pains, for lack of a better term. In my view, my friend Konstantinos and his social kitchen project, O Allos Anthropos (the Other Human), had become too dependent on Automatic Earth readers for donations, which is not a healthy situation for anyone involved.

I didn’t want to continually ask our readers for more money, and O Allos Anthropos needed to find other sources for fund-raising. The problem is that is easier said than done, for multiple reasons. If you have no experience when it comes to fund-raising, it’s hard to know where to start, and it’s hard to organize yourselves to do it. And then you end up broke, as O Allos Anthropos is right now.

Still, I think they could have tried a bit harder, but then, it’s not about me. It’s about the people we help, the refugees and homeless. If you follow my essays at the Automatic Earth a little, you will know that the situation for both groups (and sometimes they’re the same people) is still deteriorating at a rapid pace. And as much as the Greek people are willing to help, most of them are getting poorer fast as well.

Between ever more and higher taxes on the one hand, and ever more cuts to wages and pensions on the other, a recovery of the Greek economy slips further away and out of view by the day, taking people’s ability to take care of the very poorest out with it. And in this case, too, politicians are not going to lend a helping hand unless they see political gain in it.

 

Greek Minister for Migration Yiannis Mouzalas recently said he could not exclude the possibility that refugees would die on the Greek islands this winter. He’s had two years to do just that, though. That’s enough time to run out of excuses to blame the situation on anyone else. But he’s right: people will probably die there this winter.

There are thousands living in summer tents with no heating, surrounded by wet mud and sheer misery, and with sanitation facilities that provide no privacy and are dirtier than many a manger in a stable could be. If anything, they make one think of Joseph and Mary all over again; just worse, probably. The EU reportedly has spent $1.4 billion on the situation so far, and this is the result.

Mouzalas was nominated for the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, and it was no big surprise he didn’t get the job. Though with the example of Saudi Arabia chosen to head a key UN human rights panel, anything is possible.

 

There is no way that it’s impossible to build adequate facilities for some 20,000 refugees and migrants with $1.4 billion. If that doesn’t work, and it hasn’t, one can only conclude that various parties involved, the EU, the Greek government, and the alphabet soup of NGOs operating in Greece, don’t see these facilities as their no. 1 priority. Thing is, who’s going to call them on it, and what good would that do?

The only priority the EU has when it comes to refugees is to keep them out; the politicians in power in member states read the polls and see their voters don’t want refugees in their countries. So they fund armies and detention camps in Libya etc., where people are sold for $400 or so in open slave markets. And then they talk about Christian values.

Greece has been completely swamped and torn apart by the issue, granted, but that doesn’t mean Mouzalas and Tsipras et al couldn’t have done -and do- a lot more to guarantee at least minimal human dignity to those stuck, if not incarcerated, on the islands. There are hundreds if not thousands of underage children, women, sick people, elderly, stuck in conditions not even the ass and the oxen were in 2,000 years ago.

There’s no way that’s the best we can do. It’s an utter disgrace that shames any and all Christian values, and the man they were named after.

O Allos Anthropos cannot solve these issues, all it can so is help where it can. First, feed the homeless Greeks and refugees in the cities, especially Athens. Then, make life more bearable for those hardest hit by both their circumstances and the way the political classes and the humanitarian-industrial complex deal with them.

And in the end that’s perhaps the only thing we can do: not try and launch huge movements and sweep away a status quo, but work on a small scale, a human scale, human-to-human. Work on a Jesus scale, rather than a Church scale. I know, there are many churches that do help where they can, but that too is most effective where the scale is smallest.

 

 

Konstantinos has taken O Allos Anthropos to Bodrum in Turkey this summer, a place where many thousands of Syrians and other refugees are now held up instead of sailing to the Greek islands. These people have nowhere to go, Greece is largely off limits – though the numbers crossing are increasing again- while in the countries they fled, the west is fighting for prominence instead of helping them rebuild.

We will not solve this problem, or at least it will take many years, and the needs of the worst-off, both Greeks and refugees, are immediate. The only way we have to save the world, or make it a better place, is one person at a time. Everyone who tries to do anything on a larger scale fails miserably.

So that’s what we’ll do. Konstantinos and I, and all the other people involved. One person at a time. We can only do that with your help tough. So once again, please be generous this Christmas. Do that spirit honor. Let’s make 2018 a good year for everyone who needs help to make it one.

 

 

For donations to Konstantinos and O Allos Anthropos, the Automatic Earth has a Paypal widget on our front page, top left hand corner. On our Sales and Donations page, there is an address to send money orders and checks if you don’t like Paypal. Our Bitcoin address is 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT. For other forms of payment, drop us a line at Contact • at • TheAutomaticEarth • com.

To tell donations for Kostantinos apart from those for the Automatic Earth (which badly needs them too!), any amounts that come in ending in either $0.99 or $0.37, will go to O Allos Anthropos. Every penny goes where it belongs, no overhead. Guaranteed. It’s a matter of honor.

 

Please give generously.

 

 

A list of the articles I wrote so far about Konstantinos and Athens.

June 16 2015

The Automatic Earth Moves To Athens

June 19 2015

Update: Automatic Earth for Athens Fund

June 25 2015

Off to Greece, and an Update on our Athens Fund

July 8 2015

Automatic Earth Fund for Athens Makes First Donation

July 11 2015

AE for Athens Fund 2nd Donation: The Man Who Cooks In The Street

July 22 2015

AE Fund for Athens: Update no. 3: Peristeri

Nov 24 2015

The Automatic Earth -Finally- Returns To Athens

Dec 25 2015

Help the Automatic Earth Help the Poorest Greeks and Refugees

Feb 1 2016

The Automatic Earth is Back in Athens, Again

Mar 2 2016

The Automatic Earth for Athens Fund Feeds Refugees (Too)

Aug 9 2016

Meanwhile in Greece..

Nov 28 2016

The Other Human Needs Your Help This Christmas

Dec 21 2016

The Automatic Earth in Greece: Big Dreams for 2017

Mar 23 2017

The Automatic Earth Still Helps Greeks and Refugees

 

 


Konstantinos and a happy refugee

 

 

Dec 242017
 
 December 24, 2017  Posted by at 10:03 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Jules Bastien-LePage The annunciation to the shepherds 1875

 

Yes, Virginia, There Is A ‘Santa Rally’ (Roberts)
Homelessness In England Rises By 75% Among Vulnerable Groups Since 2010 (G.)
Ten Years In, Nobody Has Come Up With A Use For Blockchain (Hackernoon)
Varoufakis: Bitcoin is The Perfect Bubble, Blockchain A Great Solution (Wired)
Japan Births Plunge To Lowest Level Ever Recorded (ZH)
China Raging Against the Dying of the Light (Hamilton)
US Tax Cut and Rate Hikes Threaten China Currency (Schmid)
Italy’s Ruling PD Slides Further In Polls As Election Nears (R.)
How Sea Shepherd Lost Battle Against Japan’s Whale Hunters In Antarctic (G.)
Climate Change In The Land Of Santa Claus (Ind.)

 

 

Santa = faith in the good of mankind. As is Jesus. Still, hard to rhyme with copious dinners while others starve in the dark and cold, and $900 spent on gifts on average per American. That can’t be it.

Yes, Virginia, There Is A ‘Santa Rally’ (Roberts)

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps

THE EDITORIAL
DEAR EDITOR:

I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible to their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus? It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Read more …

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Homelessness In England Rises By 75% Among Vulnerable Groups Since 2010 (G.)

Homelessness among people with mental and physical health problems has increased by around 75% since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, and there has been a similar rise in the number of families with dependent children who are classed as homeless. According to official figures collated by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the number of homeless households in England identified by councils as priority cases because they contain someone who is classed as vulnerable because of their mental illness, has risen from 3,200 in 2010 to 5,470 this year. Over the same period, the number of families with dependent children – another priority homeless group identified by councils – has increased from 22,950 to 40,130.

The number of homeless households with a family member who has a physical disability has increased from 2,480 to 4,370. After a week in which the prime minister has come under renewed attack over homelessness, housing charities have called on the government to urgently build more affordable housing and reverse a squeeze on benefits which has left vulnerable people unable to pay their rents. “With homelessness soaring, it is no surprise that the number of vulnerable groups – including families with children – who are having to turn to their council for help is on the rise,” said Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter.

“As wages stagnate, rents continue to rise and welfare is cut, many people are struggling to keep a roof over their head. Eviction is now the number one cause of homelessness. “Our services across the country are seeing an increase in the number of people with multiple and complex needs, and we think this may be because other services are failing to provide the help that people need. The solution to our housing crisis must be to urgently build more affordable homes and, in the short term, end the freeze on housing benefit that is increasingly pushing people over the precipice into homelessness.”

Read more …

Shaking the tree.

Ten Years In, Nobody Has Come Up With A Use For Blockchain (Hackernoon)

Everyone says the blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, is going to change EVERYTHING. And yet, after years of tireless effort and billions of dollars invested, nobody has actually come up with a use for the blockchain – besides currency speculation and illegal transactions. Each purported use case – from payments to legal documents, from escrow to voting systems – amounts to a set of contortions to add a distributed, encrypted, anonymous ledger where none was needed. What if there isn’t actually any use for a distributed ledger at all? What if, ten years after it was invented, the reason nobody has adopted a distributed ledger at scale is because nobody wants it?

The original intended use of the blockchain was to power currencies like bitcoin – a way to store and exchange value much like any other currency. Visa and MasterCard were dinosaurs, everyone proclaimed, because there was now a costless, instant way to exchange value without the middleman taking a cut. A revolution in banking was just the start& governments, unable to issue currency by fiat anymore, would take a back seat as individual citizens transacted freely outside any national system. It didn’t take long for that dream to fall apart. For one thing, there’s already a costless, instant way to exchange value without a middleman: cash. Bitcoins substitute for dollars, but Visa and MasterCard actually sit on top of dollar-based banking transactions, providing a set of value-added services like enabling banks to track fraud disputes, and verifying the identity of the buyer and seller.

It turns out that for the person paying for a product, the key feature of a new payment system – think of PayPal in its early days – is the confidence that if the goods aren’t as described you’ll get your money back. And for the person accepting payment, basically the key feature is that their customer has it, and is willing to use it. Add in points, credit lines, and a free checked bag on any United flight and you have something that consumers choose and merchants accept. Nobody actually wants to pay with bitcoin, which is why it hasn’t taken off.

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Crypto vs democracy: “To Varoufakis, money is inherently political. The decisions regarding whether money is produced or not, how it is distributed and who receives it, all have significant political consequences, benefiting certain social groups over others.”

Varoufakis: Bitcoin is The Perfect Bubble, Blockchain A Great Solution (Wired)

While acknowledging the limitations of bitcoin and other technical solutions to political problems, Varoufakis does see potential in blockchain technologies. For him, “the algorithm that operates behind bitcoin, caught my attention right from the beginning. I consider this to be a remarkable technology. As early as 2012, Varoufakis was toying with ideas for using blockchain to help solve Europe’s financial woes. By the time he was appointed Finance Minister of Greece in 2015, within days his anti-austerity programme was met with the direct threat from the Troika to close Greece’s banks. With no banking system, the country would grind to a halt. To counter this threat, Varoufakis devised an audacious plan to keep Greece’s financial system operating. Effectively Varoufakis proposed creating an alternative, peer-to-peer payments system based on the blockchain.

This would disintermediate the financing they were receiving from the Troika and from the money markets. But with no money coming from the Troika, Varoufakis would need to create a parallel payments system, that would leverage the tax that all citizens and companies of Greece need to pay, as a new form of money. This is what he would eventually brand, “fiscal money.” To understand how fiscal money works, imagine that a pharmaceutical company in Greece is owed money by the state. Due to the constraints of the crisis, it may take years to pay the company in normal central bank euros. However what if there was an alternative option? What if the Greek State created a reserve account for the company under its tax file number, in which it placed tax credits of one million euros? This IOU could then also be used by the company to pay other organisations and individuals within the country.

One of the most disruptive aspects of this unrealised plan, was to enable the state to borrow directly from citizens and vice versa. In effect, Varoufakis was attempting to use new digital technologies, such as blockchain, to cut out the European lending authorities and build new lending relationships between citizens, companies and the state. The risk this system faced was the threat of corruption and the subsequent decline in public trust of authorities, something that Varoufakis admits is “in very limited supply” in a country like Greece. For example, what if Greek authorities abused these tax credits and began to distribute this new fiscal money to close allies and friends? This is where Varoufakis saw blockchain’s potential. “If the payments system was based on the blockchain, this would allow the combination of anonymity but perfect transparency, regarding the total aggregate size of the transactions of the currency….blockchain would overcome the trust problem as we know it.”

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Japan and China suffer the same fate: aging populations.

Japan Births Plunge To Lowest Level Ever Recorded (ZH)

Back in 2013 we asked “Why Have Young People In Japan Stopped Having Sex?” And while that might sound like nothing more than a clever headline intended for The Onion, it was prompted by a very serious survey conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association which found that 45% of Japanese women aged 16-24 and 25% of men were “not interested in or despise sexual contact”…a growing trend that has revealed itself via the nation’s persistently declining birth rates. In fact, “celibacy syndrome” has become of such great concern for the Japanese government that it is considered a bit of a looming national catastrophe….a catastrophe that seems to be getting worse at an accelerating rate. According to data released today by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, child births in Japan will drop to just 941,000 in 2017, the lowest since data first started being recorded in 1899, and nearly 65% below the peak birth rate from the late 1940’s.

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China is building “..a housing bubble for a population that is never coming..”

China Raging Against the Dying of the Light (Hamilton)

China’s working age population is clearly defined as those aged 16 to 50 years old for females (55 for “white collar” females) and 16 to 60 years old for males. China mandates retirement at these outer age limits. Perhaps of some interest should be that this working age population peaked in 2011 and has been declining since. This decline will continue indefinitely as China has a collapsing childbearing population (detailed HERE), net emigration (outflow), and a still decidedly negative birthrate. There is no evidence to believe the working age declines will abate any decade soon. As the chart below shows, China’s potential workforce will be shrinking indefinitely…and by 2030 China’s potential workforce will be over 100 million fewer than the 2011 peak (an 11% decline)…and only further down from there..

China has one of the youngest average retirement ages in the developed world. On average, according to a recent study (HERE), Chinese leave the work force by age 55 compared to age 63 in the US (Norway has the latest average departure at age 67). So, perhaps China will be raising the retirement age to curb the ballooning 60+yr/old population entering retirement (chart below…chart shows retirement population, 55+ females and 60+ males)? More on that later..

Comparing the working age population versus the 60+yr/old population (chart below…again, showing the 55+ females, 60+ males). A shrinking potential workforce since peaking in 2011 and a rapidly growing elderly population.

[..] While China’s GDP and energy consumption have led the world, they have not responded in kind to China’s debt explosion and exponentially more will be necessary to continue to show “growth”. Over a third and perhaps half of all the debt has been mal-invested in a housing bubble for a population that is never coming. What comes next isn’t going to be good for China nor the rest of the world as China looks to flood a depopulating nation with new debt only creating more housing overcapacity…China will look to beat the Japanese at the debt game.

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Outflows are by no means over.

US Tax Cut and Rate Hikes Threaten China Currency (Schmid)

Seven was the line in the sand. But the Chinese yuan never crossed that line vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. It only crept up to 6.96 yuan per dollar on Dec. 16, 2016, before starting an impressive comeback, down to 6.5 in the middle of this year. Last year was a bad one for the Chinese economy. Growth was slow, and the world was worried China would finally land the hard way, as many have been predicting for years. And more than GDP growth or any other metric, the Chinese currency was the barometer of whether China could keep things stable – stability is the mantra of the ruling communist regime – or suffer a crisis of debt deflation. If it declined in value, it meant citizens and companies were moving money out of the country in droves because they didn’t believe in the Chinese dream anymore. So another measure of how bad things had gotten in the second-largest economy of the world was capital outflows.

According to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), a record $725 billion left China in 2016, putting pressure on the currency and the Chinese interbank market. All these factors have changed in favor of the dollar in the last quarter, and it’s going to be hard for China to compete. Trying to stem the tide, the central bank sold record amounts of foreign currency. Chinese foreign exchange reserves, $4 trillion at the peak in 2014, went down to $3 trillion, and analysts started to question whether this was enough to finance the world’s largest trading economy. Then, miraculously in time for the 2017 National Congress of the Communist Party, all of this stopped. The yuan never went above 7, the exchange reserves never went below 3 trillion, and capital outflows subsided thanks to draconian regulations making it harder for individuals and companies to move money out of the country.

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Beppe all the way.

Italy’s Ruling PD Slides Further In Polls As Election Nears (R.)

Italy’s ruling Democratic Party (PD), hit by internal divisions and a banking scandal, is continuing to slide in opinion polls, with a new survey on Saturday putting it more than six points behind the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. The survey by the Ixe agency, commissioned by Huffington Post Italia, comes just days before parliament is expected to be dissolved to make way for elections in March. It gives the center-left PD just 22.8% of voter support, down almost five points in the last two months, compared with 29.0% for 5-Star, which has gained almost two points in the same period. Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia (Go Italy!) is given 16.2%, with its right-wing allies the Northern League and Brothers of Italy on 12.1% and 5.0% respectively.

This bloc is expected to win most seats at the election but not enough for an absolute majority, resulting in a hung parliament. With the PD’s support eroding in virtually all opinion polls, several political commentators have speculated that its leader Matteo Renzi may choose or be forced to announce he will not be the party’s candidate for prime minister at the election. Renzi has given no indication so far he will take this step. The PD has split under his leadership, with critics complaining he has dragged the traditionally center-left party to the right. Breakaway groups united this month to form a new left-wing party called Free and Equal (LeU), which now has 7.3% of support, according to Ixe. The PD’s popularity seems to have also been hurt by a parliamentary commission looking into the collapse of 10 Italian banks in the past two years.

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What kills faith in mankind.

How Sea Shepherd Lost Battle Against Japan’s Whale Hunters In Antarctic (G.)

A fleet of Japanese ships is currently hunting minke whales in the Southern Ocean. It is a politically incendiary practice: the waters around Antarctica were long ago declared a whale sanctuary, but the designation has not halted Japan’s whalers, who are continuing a tradition of catching whales “for scientific research” in the region. In the past, conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd have mounted campaigns of harassment and successfully blocked Japan’s ships from killing whales. But not this year. Despite previous successes, Sea Shepherd says it can no longer frustrate Japan’s whalers because their boats now carry hardware supplied from military sources, making the fleet highly elusive and almost impossible to track. As a result the whalers are – for the first time – being given a free run to kill minke in the Southern Ocean.

“We have prevented thousands of whales from being killed in the past and we have helped ensure that the quota of minkes that Japan can take now is much lower than in the past,” said Peter Hammarstedt, a Sea Shepherd captain. “But they have put such resources into this year’s whaling that we cannot hope to find their fleet and stop them. It is simply a matter of us not wasting our own resources. We have other battles to fight.” Japan is not the only nation to hunt whales. Norway has a commercial operation in its own waters, for example. But what infuriates conservationists is that Japan is hunting and killing whales in a conservation zone, the Southern Ocean whaling sanctuary, that surrounds Antarctica. Japan claims that it does so only for scientific purposes.

“Essentially, they are exploiting a loophole in the rules – introduced in the 80s – that govern the banning of commercial whaling,” said Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd. Originally Japan set out to catch more than 900 minkes every year, as well as 50 humpbacks and 50 fin whales. However, its fleet was rarely able to reach these quotas because of actions by groups like Sea Shepherd. “We physically got in between the whalers and the whales and stopped the latter being killed,” said Hammarstedt. “One year we stopped Japan getting all but 10% of its quota. Their ships were nearly empty when they got back home.”

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The further north the larger the differences.

Climate Change In The Land Of Santa Claus (Ind.)

Lapland occupies a happy space in the popular imagination as a winter wonderland, occupied by reindeer, elves and Father Christmas. The real life Lapland, however, is increasingly facing up to the grim reality of global warming. Besides being the name of Swedish and Finnish provinces, Lapland is the English name for a region largely above the Arctic Circle that stretches across the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Research has revealed the disproportionate impact of climate change in the Arctic, where temperatures are currently rising at double the rate of the global average. The far north is bearing the brunt of global warming, and, as much of Lapland’s population relies on its polar climate for their livelihoods, the effects are starting to be felt.

Rovaniemi, the administrative capital of the Finnish province of Lapland, has done a good job of capitalising on the region’s Christmas-themed reputation. It is the self-proclaimed “Official Hometown of Santa Claus”, where the man himself can be visited 365 days a year. However, with his official residence there only constructed in 1950, Santa Claus is a relative newcomer to Lapland. The wider region is the ancient home of the indigenous Sami people, who refer to it as Sapmi. Owing to its remote location and freezing temperatures, much of Lapland remains relatively pristine wilderness, and it is this wilderness that provides the Sami with space to practise their ancient tradition of reindeer herding. As temperatures rise and begin to disrupt the unspoiled environment, the future prosperity of all Lapland’s inhabitants – from the Sami to Santa Claus – is at risk.

Dr Stephanie Lefrere first came to Finnish Lapland 18 years ago to study reindeer behaviour. Since then, she has observed dramatic changes in the region’s weather patterns, and subsequent effects on its wildlife. “In my very first fieldwork, 300km (186 miles) above the Arctic Circle, it was 20°C below zero on 31 October – really the Arctic feeling by the end of October,” she said. “We don’t have that any more. “Recently there have been ‘black Christmases’ with no snow at all in the southern part of Finland.” Decades of work in the region have cemented her view that climate change is having far-reaching effects on Lapland’s environment, affecting animal migratory routes, habitats and behaviour. “I became worried as a scientist, and also as an individual who is fascinated by the Arctic,” said Dr Lefrere.


Sami culture is based around reindeer, but only a fraction still keep their animals due to environmental change (Getty)

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