Sep 272021
 
 September 27, 2021  Posted by at 8:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  87 Responses »


M. C. Escher Symmetry Drawing 1948

 

Natural Immunity Emerges As Potential Legal Challenge To Vaccine Mandates (Y!)
Lancet Covid Origins Panel Disbanded Over Ties To Peter Daszak (DM)
Dear Idiot: I Will Laugh (Denninger)
We Are All Cattle Now (Eugyppius)
The NBA’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Trying to Push Around the League (RS)
How The US Vaccine Effort Derailed And Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised (G.)
Treating Antisocial Elements For What They Are (K.)
Inside The CIA’s Secret War Plans Against Wikileaks (Y!)
CIA Was Ready To Wage Gun Battle In London Streets Over Assange (RT)
Mike Pompeo And The CIA’s War On WikiLeaks and Julian Assange (Gosztola)
CIA’s Assange Abduction/Murder Plan Raises Questions For Australia (Crikey)

 

 

“Medical science has made such tremendous progress that there is hardly a healthy human left”
– Aldous Huxley

 

 

No infections, lots of excess deaths. Why?

 

 

 

 

O’Looney

 

 

Launch 1,000 cases.

Natural Immunity Emerges As Potential Legal Challenge To Vaccine Mandates (Y!)

The argument that natural immunity against COVID-19 is an alternative to vaccination is emerging as a potential legal challenge to federally mandated vaccination policies. Vaccination is already required for certain workers and some college students. The federal government, despite steeper legal hurdles to imposing vaccination, has also invoked the U.S. Department of Labor to mandate inoculation for health care workers and is expected to roll out a larger policy effectively mandating vaccination for a majority of U.S. workers. The stated goal behind mandatory vaccination policies is to protect against the spread of disease, meaning that the crux of any policy is immunity.

The notion that a previous COVID-19 infection provides natural immunity that can be at least as good as vaccination in some people is something a judge would likely need to consider in a challenge to a mandatory policy, especially against a government actor. “I think that a judge might reject a rule that’s been issued by a body, like the U.S. Department of Labor or by a state, that has not been sufficiently thought through as it relates to the science,” Erik Eisenmann, a labor and employment attorney with Husch Blackwell, told Yahoo Finance. Some recent research, which looks at hundreds of thousands of cases in Israel and has yet to undergo peer review, indicates that natural immunity might be at least as effective as vaccination in certain people.

Other peer-reviewed research cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which looks at dozens of cases in the U.S., indicated that certain people who suffered from a COVID-19 infection did not create antibodies (ie, natural immunity) at all. In August, the CDC published a study of 246 Kentucky residents, concluding that vaccination offers higher protection than a previous COVID infection. The CDC said the study went through a “rigorous multi-level clearance process” before submission, though analysis was conducted before the Delta variant became prevalent in the U.S. The CDC says the Kentucky data indicates that vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone, and medical professionals widely recommend vaccination for everyone who is eligible — including those who have experienced a prior COVID-19 infection.

Legally challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates involves both science and law. The scientific arguments are based on certain studies over the past year, including the Israel study, and studies out of Cleveland Clinic and Washington University. A June study that tracked 52,238 Cleveland Clinic employees found that within 1,359 previously infected and unvaccinated people, none contracted a subsequent COVID-19 infection over the five-month study. The findings led authors to conclude that prior infection makes a person “unlikely to benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.” Nevertheless, Cleveland Clinic stated afterwards that it continued to recommend vaccination for people previously infected, stressing that the research was conducted in late 2020 and early 2021 before the emergence of the Delta variant.

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I don’t trust Jeffrey Sachs.

Lancet Covid Origins Panel Disbanded Over Ties To Peter Daszak (DM)

The chairman of a COVID-19 origins task force affiliated with the Lancet scientific journals has disbanded the commission over its ties to controversial researcher Peter Daszak and his EcoHealth Alliance. Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that he was concerned with the links to Daszak, who led the task force until recusing himself from that role in June. Daszak, who lives in New York, devoted his career to championing so-called ‘gain of function’ research to engineer coronavirus to be more deadly to humans, arguing that it was the best chance to detect and prevent a global pandemic. Shocking documents released this week revealed his 2018 proposal to help the Wuhan Institute of Virology engineer bat coronaviruses to be more deadly, by inserting genetic features that are similar to those found in SARS-CoV-2.

There is still no conclusive proof as to whether COVID-19, a coronavirus linked to bats, first jumped to humans from a wild animal or in a lab setting. But from the early days of the pandemic, Daszak has made every effort to paint the lab origin hypothesis as a ‘conspiracy theory,’ including masterminding a letter in the Lancet that established a veneer of scientific consensus that natural origin was the only possibility. If the virus did emerge from a lab performing the experiments he championed, it would be a crushing blow to Daszak’s research. Natural origin, on the other hand, would vindicate his life’s work seeking to prevent the next pandemic. Several members of the disbanded Lancet task force have collaborated with Daszak or EcoHealth Alliance on projects in the past.

‘I just didn’t want a task force that was so clearly involved with one of the main issues of this whole search for the origins, which was EcoHealth Alliance,’ Dr. Sachs told the Journal. Sachs said a new Lancet Covid-19 Commission would continue studying the origins for a report to be published in mid-2022, but broaden its scope to include input from other experts on biosafety concerns, including risky laboratory research. It comes just days after the release of bombshell documents showing Daszak’s 2018 funding request to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeking $14.2 million to fund gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab.

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“Their data, official public health data, says that (1) the jabs wear off, (2) those who were jabbed are spreading the disease and (3) you who got jabbed are at high risk of getting ****ed.”

Dear Idiot: I Will Laugh (Denninger)

So The Miami Herald — and Yahoo — think they can print this without consequence? “That’s why we were glad President Biden stopped asking nicely, started requiring vaccinations everywhere he had power to do so. We were also glad when employers followed suit. And if that’s a problem for you, then, yes, goodbye, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios and adieu. We’ll miss you, to be sure. But you’re asking us to choose between your petulance and our lives. And that’s really no choice at all.” Is that so? Well here’s a bit of science for you, *******: The jabs don’t work. In fact you admit they don’t work. If you believed they did work you wouldn’t care about us. You might call us stupid, but that’s the end of it right? You’re safe, we’re not. So what? You live your life and if we kill ourselves, so be it. You don’t ban beer because I can drink myself to death, right?

So why are you all up in arms? There’s only one answer: You know you did something stupid and put yourself in a worse position rather than a better one when you got vaccinated! So now, having done something that you know is dumb you insist others join you in your ritualized suicide cult, headed by Biden, Fauci and Rochelle. Have a look at Scotland if you think I’m wrong on this. Their data, official public health data, says that (1) the jabs wear off, (2) those who were jabbed are spreading the disease and (3) you who got jabbed are at high risk of getting ****ed. Not a little ****ed either. Indeed you traded what was 18 months to get rid of the extra 100lbs for a non-sterilizing, lightly-tested jab that on the history was very unlikely to work out well. It never had before for any coronavirus, so why would you believe, without years or even decades of evidence, that “this time its different”?

So when — not if, when — you get a so-called “breakthrough” infection the evidence is you will get screwed faster, harder, and more-certainly than someone never vaccinated. You’re at least as likely to die. Indeed, if you talk to clinicians they will tell you point-blank that once you get into the hospital being vaccinated has no statistical benefit on outcome. Oh sure, it appears being jabbed comes with a lower risk of death close in to your vaccination date, but remember, when you got vaccinated you also took a wildly-elevated risk of myocarditis which, on the data, progresses to heart failure a frightening part of the time within five years and which is asymptomatic until there is nothing you can do about it because the root, PAH, is not detectable from outside the body by non-invasive means.

If that turns out badly five years down the road you either get a heart transplant (at six-figure cost, permanent disability and permanent dependence on anti-rejection drugs) or you’re dead. Never mind those people who took the first jab, got hammered by it, couldn’t go back for the second due to the risk of immediate death and now are stuck with permanent compromise from infection and wildly elevated risk of mortality. By the way that’s in the data too and your demands and screaming are why those people are screwed. Just in case you missed that let me say it again: You screwed them. Many among us, myself included, calculated that the risk from infection was less than the risk from being jabbed. I was right. I got infected, placed no burden on the health care system, survived, recovered, I have no apparent bad lasting effects, my exercise tolerance is back to where it was and I gained durable, broad and deep immunity which the jabs do not confer.

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“Coronavirus vaccines have been used in animals for years, with extremely unimpressive results.”

We Are All Cattle Now (Eugyppius)

There is nothing surprising about the failure of our vaccines. In fact it was totally predictable. Coronavirus vaccines have been used in animals for years, with extremely unimpressive results. The problem is that coronaviruses infect the mucosal surfaces of the lungs, at what is basically the very edge of the reach of our immune systems. You could say that this their grand strategy. They work their way in from our least protected borders. Typically, nasal spray vaccines are preferred in animals to stimulate immunity in the mucosa. Unfortunately, even the sprays achieve immunity that „is often short-lived, requires frequent boosting, and may not prevent re-infection.“ This is after decades of vaccine development and the considerably reduced safety standards observed in veterinary medicine.

Our own SARS-2 vaccines, despite their fancy mRNA and virus vector technology, are entirely of a piece with veterinary standards. They have a poor side effect profile, they provide only temporary and partial protection against infection, and they are deployed on a vast scale with no regard for the evolutionary pressure they place on the virus or their broader consequences for infection dynamics. These are normal standards in the context of industrial livestock, where most animals are not raised to live very long in any event, and the risk of occasional accidents — inadvertently favouring or even causing lethal superstrains, or inflicting widespread vaccine injuries — can be weighed against the economic loss associated with mortality from infections.

Of all animal coronavirus vaccines, the most successful is that which prevents IBV, or infectious bronchitis virus, in chickens. IBV is mainly deadly to chicks, who are vaccinated almost immediately after hatching with a live, attenuated virus vaccine. These kinds of vaccines are preferred over deactivated virus vaccines in animals, because they elicit a better immune response. The reason is simple: The weakened vaccine virus actually infects you and your immune system remembers the event accordingly. Some SARS-2 attenuated virus vaccines are even in development for humans, but it is unlikely they will ever be used, because they are very dangerous. The attenuated virus, because it replicates in the cells of the vaccinated, can reacquire its prior virulence via mutations. This happened with early attenuated vaccines against poliovirus in humans.

And there is an added danger, that the recently vaccinated might come into contact with the wild virus, and recombination events might then combine splice together the genomes of both, yielding unpredictable, potentially very lethal, mutant strains. IBV vaccines protect the chickens from infection for only about nine weeks. That‘s long enough for the chickens destined to be eaten, but those raised for their eggs require constant boosters. They receive two or three attenuated virus vaccines at first, and then periodic deactivated virus boosters thereafter, to maintain their protection. Adenovirus vector vaccines have been tried in chickens, with efficacy similar to that induced by the attenuated virus vaccines. This is very likely an unstated reason that vaccine vector and mRNA messenger technology were used for our own SARS-2 jabs. It was known from experience with animals that deactivated virus vaccines would not work nearly as well, and that attenuated viruses were too dangerous.

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You sure it’s not the league trying to push the players around?

The NBA’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Trying to Push Around the League (RS)

One by one, the basketball players — non-vaccinated star here, fully-inoculated veteran on mute down there, a full-on anti-vaxxer front-and-center — logged into the video conference. The annual summer meeting of the powerful NBA union had gone virtual again on August 7, and high on the agenda for the season ahead was a proposed mandate from the league office that 100 percent of players get vaccinated against Covid-19. One response echoed from squares across the screen, according to players and an executive on the call: “Non-starter. Non-starter.” The NBA had relied on science above all to lead the sports world through the Covid nightmare, from the league’s outbreak-driven shutdown to a pandemic-proof playoff bubble in Disney World to game after game with fans back in the stands.

But after two plagued seasons of non-stop nasal swabbing, quarantining and distrust, unvaccinated players were pushing back. They made their case to the union summit: There should be testing this year, of course, just not during off-days. They’d mask up on the court and on the road, if they must. But no way would they agree to a mandatory jab. The vaccine deniers had set the agenda; the players agreed to take their demands for personal freedom to the NBA’s negotiating table. This month, league officials caught a break: Two of America’s most progressive cities, New York and San Francisco, would require pro athletes to show proof of one Covid-19 vaccination dose to play indoors, except with an approved medical or religious exemption. Which meant that one of the NBA’s biggest stars — one known for being receptive to conspiratorial beliefs — would be under heavy pressure to get a shot. And if Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving could be convinced to take the vaccine, then maybe, just maybe, the whole league could create a new kind of bubble together.

When asked directly about Irving’s vaccination status — or his plans to change it — multiple people familiar with his thinking declined to answer directly. But one confidant and family member floated to Rolling Stone the idea of anti-vaxx players skipping home games to dodge the New York City ordinance… or at least threatening to protest them, until the NBA changes its ways. “There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” says Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, who runs the seven-time All-Star’s family foundation and is one of the few people in his regular circle of advisors. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”

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“..vaccine misinformation campaigns overwhelmingly popular in conservative circles..”

How The US Vaccine Effort Derailed And Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised (G.)

The cause of flagging vaccine uptake in the United States has flummoxed national health authorities, who in May loosened mask guidance in hopes it would encourage more people to get vaccinated, in July again recommended masks because of the Delta variant, and hoped August’s full FDA approval of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine would increase vaccine mandates. In a September speech, just days before the US slipped behind Japan, Joe Biden channeled national exasperation: “Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated even though the vaccine is safe, effective and free.” He called for vaccine mandates impacting 100 million Americans, two-thirds of US workers.

However, all these strategies have failed to encourage more than 900,000 Americans per day to get vaccinated in recent weeks, far lower than nearly 3m doses administered per day in April, the height of the vaccination push. Finally, in mid-September, the country’s slow progress allowed Japan to surpass the US both in terms of vaccination rate per 100,000 people and percentage of the total population with one or both shots. There are very specific, well-documented reasons that Americans are hesitant to take vaccines. They vary from the troubling way the medical system treats people of color, to vaccine misinformation campaigns overwhelmingly popular in conservative circles, to logistical challenges.

But population health researchers, whose work considers how society as a whole is fairing, said low vaccine uptake may be looked at another way: as the predictable outcome of a campaign subject to entrenched social forces that have diminished American health and life expectancy since the 1980s. “When I look at this I do see a very familiar pattern,” said Dr Steven Woolf, a prominent population health researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University. “When Operation Warp Speed came out I thought I was just seeing a modern example of this old problem where the scientific community developed the vaccine at ‘warp speed,’ but the implementation system for getting it out into the community was inadequate”. Woolf calls this “breakthrough without follow-through”. In that light, the plodding vaccination campaign could be seen as one more aspect of the American “health disadvantage”.

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“These and others in the anti-vax movement are basically enemies of society and need to be treated accordingly, without hesitation…”

Treating Antisocial Elements For What They Are (K.)

Day-to-day life in Greece is excessively determined by people defying laws, rules and reason; it’s disappointing and extremely frustrating. But this, as former prime minister Kostas Simitis once said, is Greece and it doesn’t look like it’s changing much. It’s exhausting for citizens yearning for basic normalcy to be assailed by the prevalent delinquency and to feel that their quality of life is being constantly undermined, often with the tolerance of the state apparatus. Right now, events are being defined by our fellow citizens who refuse to get the Covid vaccine and by the obstinacy of deniers of all stripes. Whether they’re jerks, kooks, nitwits, thugs, vote-mongers or religious fanatics is neither here nor there. They are a swarm that is endangering the lives of the rest of us, having a negative impact on the quality of everyday life and obstructing the vital functions of society.

The state, therefore, has an obligation to all the “normal” people in this country to decisively deal with such antisocial elements. Admittedly, there are more antisocial Greeks out there. There are the unconscionable priests and monks who preach against the vaccines, the lawyers exploiting the anti-vax movement, the judges approving the exhumation of Covid victims, the relatives suing doctors for a payout, the parents calling the police on teachers implementing the law, the nurses and other state workers who refuse to be vaccinated but expect to keep getting paid… These and others in the anti-vax movement are basically enemies of society and need to be treated accordingly, without hesitation. Especially given that the overwhelming majority of the political world claims to support vaccinations.

The truth is that the antisocial behavior we are seeing right now is not the result of the pandemic. It may appear so, but is, in fact endemic and manifests in all sorts of ways: violence in the soccer arena and on the streets; interminable protest rallies and marches; sit-ins at schools and universities; increasingly aggressive and unruly driving; sound pollution; nasty graffiti; posters pasted willy-nilly on public walls; grimy bowls of water and food scattered here and there for strays; and, of course, in the inability or indifference of the state to these and so many other such phenomena. And even in the favorable decisions and amendments passed by every government to accommodate those breaking the rules and shirking their obligations. At the end of the day, it’s the suckers who dream of a different kind of Greece who end up paying the price.

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Edward Snowden @Snowden: “Stop what you’re doing and read this. The CIA developed plans to kill or kidnap an award-winning journalist whose work they did not like — before they charged him with a crime. The case against Julian Assange must be dropped—and condemned.”

Inside The CIA’s Secret War Plans Against Wikileaks (Y!)

In 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated debate among Trump administration officials over the legality and practicality of such an operation. Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request “sketches” or “options” for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. “There seemed to be no boundaries.” The conversations were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder. The agency’s multipronged plans also included extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.

While Assange had been on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies for years, these plans for an all-out war against him were sparked by WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of extraordinarily sensitive CIA hacking tools, known collectively as “Vault 7,” which the agency ultimately concluded represented “the largest data loss in CIA history.” President Trump’s newly installed CIA director, Mike Pompeo, was seeking revenge on WikiLeaks and Assange, who had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape allegations he denied. Pompeo and other top agency leaders “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7,” said a former Trump national security official. “They were seeing blood.”

The CIA’s fury at WikiLeaks led Pompeo to publicly describe the group in 2017 as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” More than just a provocative talking point, the designation opened the door for agency operatives to take far more aggressive actions, treating the organization as it does adversary spy services, former intelligence officials told Yahoo News. Within months, U.S. spies were monitoring the communications and movements of numerous WikiLeaks personnel, including audio and visual surveillance of Assange himself, according to former officials. This Yahoo News investigation, based on conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials — eight of whom described details of the CIA’s proposals to abduct Assange — reveals for the first time one of the most contentious intelligence debates of the Trump presidency and exposes new details about the U.S. government’s war on WikiLeaks. It was a campaign spearheaded by Pompeo that bent important legal strictures, potentially jeopardized the Justice Department’s work toward prosecuting Assange, and risked a damaging episode in the United Kingdom, the United States’ closest ally.

Isikoff

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With the Russians….

CIA Was Ready To Wage Gun Battle In London Streets Over Assange (RT)

At the peak of preparations for hostilities in 2017, the CIA was allegedly expecting Russian agents to help Assange flee the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. In such a contingency, the Americans, together with the British, were planning to engage in street battles against the Russians, potentially starting a firefight, ramming a Russian diplomatic vehicle, or shooting at the tires of a Russian plane to prevent it from lifting off, the story said. The attempt to spring Assange was reportedly expected on Christmas Eve. “It was beyond comical,” a former senior official told the outlet regarding the situation in the vicinity of the embassy at the time. “It got to the point where every human being in a three-block radius was working for one of the intelligence services – whether they were street sweepers or police officers or security guards.”

The CIA was also deliberating plans to kill Assange and other members of WikiLeaks, the report said. Alternatively, the agency was considering snatching him from the embassy and bringing him to the US, or handing him over to the British authorities. At the time, the UK wanted Assange for skipping bail in an extradition trial on a request from Sweden – a case that has since been dropped. The possibility of carrying out a successful rendition or assassination were described as “ridiculous” by one intelligence official, because of the location. “This isn’t Pakistan or Egypt – we’re talking about London,” the source was quoted as saying. There was also resistance in the Trump administration because such an operation might be deemed illegal under US law. A source said using CIA powers meant only for spy-versus-spy activities would be “the same kind of crap we pulled in the War on Terror.”

As far as the CIA was concerned, WikiLeaks prompted these extreme measures after the so-called ‘Vault 7’ publications, which exposed a cyber-offensive toolkit used by US agents. The leak of those tools was a major humiliation for US intelligence, so “Pompeo and [then-Deputy CIA Director Gina] Haspel wanted vengeance on Assange,” Yahoo was told. Pompeo had to do some legal maneuvering so the agency could go more aggressively after Assange and WikiLeaks without having then-president Donald Trump sign off such operations. When, shortly after taking office, he infamously called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” during a public speech, it was more than just rhetoric, according to the report. Designating in that way allowed the CIA to file its snooping under “offensive counterintelligence” activities, which it’s allowed to conduct on its own volition. “I don’t think people realize how much [the] CIA can do under offensive [counterintelligence] and how there is minimal oversight of it,” a former official said.

Credico Isikoff

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Twitter thread.

Mike Pompeo And The CIA’s War On WikiLeaks and Julian Assange (Gosztola)

Journalists for Yahoo! News finally confirmed a narrative around Mike Pompeo and the CIA’s war on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, which I outlined back in October 2019. It’s an important report. WikiLeaks’ publication of “Vault 7” materials from the CIA was hugely embarrassing. Even though the CIA had increased spying operations against WikiLeaks, they still were surprised the media organization obtained a trove of the agency’s extremely sensitive files.

CIA director Mike Pompeo was afraid President Donald Trump would learn about the “Vault 7” materials and think less of him. “Don’t tell him, he doesn’t need to know.” But it was too important. Trump had to be informed.

[..] Recall, CIA director Mike Pompeo’s speech at CSIS, a Washington think tank, where he labeled WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” That was all to fuel a climate for aggressive action targeted against Assange, WikiLeaks staff, and associates. The CIA could not prove WikiLeaks was working at the behest of the Russian government. So rather than claim authority to target WikiLeaks that way officials sought to reframe the organization as a “hostile entity.” Then it wouldn’t matter that they weren’t working for Russia.

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Australian media are useless too.

CIA’s Assange Abduction/Murder Plan Raises Questions For Australia (Crikey)

Revelations by a large number of former US officials, reported by Yahoo! News, that the CIA planned to abduct and render Julian Assange to the United States — and contemplated murdering him — raise more uncomfortable questions for the Australian government and its policy of trying to pretend Assange doesn’t exist. Yahoo’s investigation relies on accounts from eight former officials about the plan to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, among dozens of other sources about the Trump administration’s determination to go after Assange and WikiLeaks. The Trump administration went where even the whistleblower-hating Obama administration refused to go and launched a prosecution for espionage and conspiracy, but until now it was widely thought its plans were limited to legal extradition.

It is now clear the CIA — under Republican Mike Pompeo, who would go on to be Trump’s secretary of state — developed plans to abduct Assange and illegally render him to the US via a third country. There was discussion “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration of murdering him. There was also scenario planning about what violent measures US and UK agents might take to thwart a hypothetical Russian attempt to help Assange escape to Russia. The most obvious question for the Australian government is whether the CIA discussed with Australian intelligence officials its plans to abduct or murder an Australian citizen, or whether Trump administration figures — some of whom were alarmed by the CIA’s planning — alerted the Turnbull government at a political level.

It would say much about how unimportant Australia was, and how little we have spoken up for Assange, if the entire process was conducted without anyone bothering to raise it with the Australian government. The extent of Australian knowledge of the plans for Assange is likely never to be clarified because Australia’s intelligence agencies are able to operate behind a bipartisan wall of secrecy far stronger than that which applies to US agencies, where independent congressional oversight, a better-protected media, a stronger whistleblower culture and better disclosure laws mean much more scrutiny for intelligence agencies. In Australia there’s virtually none, with limited parliamentary oversight, brutal gag laws for intelligence officials, vexatious prosecutions and police raids on journalists willing to try to pierce the secrecy.

But there’s another angle that is also important. What sparked the CIA’s fury at WikiLeaks and set it to planning to kidnap or murder Assange was that WikiLeaks in 2017 revealed a trove of CIA software exploits, known as “Vault 7”, which had been stolen from the intelligence agency. That release was followed, within months, by news that the National Security Agency had had some of its own trove of software exploits stolen, which led to Microsoft publicly criticising intelligence agencies for failing to alert companies to exploitable software faults. The two cases illustrated how Western intelligence agencies were a key threat to our cybersecurity by intentionally leaving security weaknesses in commonly used systems so they could exploit them — leading to other states, or organised crime, to exploit them as well, in some cases using the very software tools bought or developed by intelligence agencies.

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Aug 172021
 


Pablo Picasso Family of Saltimbanques 1905

 

New Zealand To Enter Nationwide Lockdown After 1 Local Covid Case (Axios)
Uttar Pradesh Logs Lowest Ever Daily Covid Figure at 17 (N18)
NSW Police Fine 600 People On First Day Of Covid Crackdown Blitz (AAP)
Lockdowns Widen In China As Locals Doubt Official COVID-19 Data (ET)
Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection (JAMA)
Harvard Med Professor Censored For Contrarian Covid Posts (JTN)
Afghans Fleeing Taliban Need Negative PCR Test For Now-suspended Flights (RT)
Tsitsipas Refuses To Take Vaccine Unless It Becomes Mandatory On Tour (R.)
Afghan Abandonment A Lesson For Taiwan (Global Times)
Kabul Has Fallen – But Don’t Blame Joe Biden (Ron Paul)
Afghanistan: We Never Learn (Taibbi)
When The Penny Drops It’s You And Your Portfolio On That Kabul Tarmac (Every)
Strange Days Ahead (Kunstler)

 

 

Biden condensed

 

 

The CIA gets a large part of its off the books funding from poppies.

The Taliban banned poppy growing. The CIA moved its poppy farms to Colombia. Over the past years, much has been moved back.

Afghanistan GDP is $20 billion; the UNODC estimated the country’s overall illicit opiate economy in 2017 at $6.6 billion.

Will the CIA make a deal with the Taliban this time?

 

 

Shut you entire country down for one case, after 20 months, and people call you a success story.

New Zealand To Enter Nationwide Lockdown After 1 Local Covid Case (Axios)

New Zealand will enter a snap nationwide lockdown at its highest level on Tuesday night after a 58-year-old man from Auckland tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced. This is the first coronavirus case detected in NZ’s community for 170 days and officials are concerned the man may have the highly contagious Delta variant. New Zealand has only experienced a level 4 nationwide lockdown once before. This is only the second lockdown for communities outside Auckland, NZ’s most populous city, since the pandemic began. Ardern noted at a news conference Tuesday that although it was unknown what strain of the virus the man had, most of the infections in managed hotel quarantine had the Delta variant.


The level 4 national lockdown will last for three days, from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which the recently man visited, will likely experience this for seven days. New Zealand has largely contained COVID-19 cases to managed hotel quarantine facilities. Under alert level 4 restrictions, schools move to remote classes and non-essential businesses close — including food delivery services. Only essential travel is permitted, and water activities like swimming are banned. People must remain at home unless they’re exercising outdoors and locally and within their household “bubbles.” The country has paused vaccinations for the duration of the lockdown.

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This is the real success story.

Uttar Pradesh Logs Lowest Ever Daily Covid Figure at 17 (N18)

Uttar Pradesh on Monday witnessed the steepest decline in the number of fresh cases as the state limited the infections to just 17, making it the lowest ever daily-case count. Uttar Pradesh has restricted the daily-case count below 100 for over 5 weeks now. The downward trajectory of the virus has continued for the consecutive 14th week. In another significant achievement, the state registered a drop in the daily Covid test positivity rate (TPR) — the number of positive cases against the total tests done — to 0.01 percent. This rate was at its highest at 16.84 percent on April 24 and now remains even lower than the lowest post the first wave of Covid-19. The active caseload in the most populous state now stands at 419, from its peak at 3,10,783 cases on April 30.


On the contrary, sparsely populated states like Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu account for a heavy active caseload of 1,78,640, 64,219 and 20,458, respectively. In another major relief, none of the 75 districts reported fresh infections in double-digits, indicating signs that the pandemic is receding. Uttar Pradesh is rapidly moving towards being coronavirus-free as active and fresh cases in as many as 17 districts have declined to zero. In its bid to become self-reliant in terms of producing life-saving medication, as many as 317 of the 556 oxygen plants have already been established and are functional, while work on the remaining plants is going on in Uttar Pradesh.

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From inside the jail.

NSW Police Fine 600 People On First Day Of Covid Crackdown Blitz (AAP)

New South Wales police issued nearly 600 infringement notices to people flouting tough new health orders on the first day of a three-week crackdown designed to get the state’s escalating Covid crisis under control. The deputy commissioner, Mal Lanyon, said some people were still not complying even after a 5km travel rule came into effect for greater Sydney and the state reported a record 478 new local Covid-19 cases and eight deaths on Monday – the state’s worst day of the pandemic. “Yesterday we issued 579 infringement notices which is disappointing. It shows that people are still not complying. Thirty-four people received court attendant notices,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday. Police also conducted 3,800 welfare checks to see if people were following stay-at-home orders.

Seven weeks of lockdown in Sydney (NSW)

One Covid-positive man from the hotspot of Fairfield in Sydney’s south-west wasn’t home when police arrived and was later unable to provide an excuse for his actions, Lanyon said. The entire state is now locked down and a 21-day police blitz came into effect on Monday to enforce new regulations, with almost 18,000 police officers supported by 800 members of the Australian defence force. Tougher noncompliance fines of up to $5,000 are in place with people in greater Sydney confined to within 5km of their homes. Police commissioner Mick Fuller warned that officers have been told to adopt “a no-nonsense approach” to people deliberately flouting laws.

OzStudents

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“All of us have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” “All of us have been tested for COVID this week. And all of us have to take the second test tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,”

Lockdowns Widen In China As Locals Doubt Official COVID-19 Data (ET)

A spokesperson for the Chinese National Health Commission Mi Feng said at a press conference on Friday: “As of now, the diagnosed local [COVID-19] cases have risen for 19 consecutive days, and involved 16 provinces.” On Saturday and Sunday, the regime announced more infections but many people interviewed by the Chinese-language Epoch Times said they didn’t believe the numbers because of the regime’s past underreporting on COVID-19. The regime has reported relatively small-scale local outbreaks this year until July 20, when Nanjing in eastern Jiangsu Province announced airport workers were diagnosed with COVID-19. Since then, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has spread to dozens of cities across the country.

In its counting of COVID-19 cases the Chinese regime doesn’t include infected people not showing obvious symptoms. The regime also claims that anyone found to have COVID-19 who travelled overseas in the past month must have contracted the CCP virus when they were out of China, and count them as imported cases. Local cases end up being those who haven’t visited other countries in the past months and have symptoms. In Zhengyang County in central Henan Province, the regime only announced one person diagnosed with COVID-19 in recent weeks, but have locked down residential compounds and villages. The regime even planned to test all residents in the county again on Friday, although it didn’t report any infections in a first round of tests carried out two days earlier.

As of around midday Monday local time, Zhengyang County government had only announced that it had found one case that tested positive on Aug. 9 and another that was counted as an individual showing symptoms on Thursday. However, the county has strictly controlled people’s movements. On Saturday, local residents in the county said lockdown measures meant they couldn’t leave home and many believed the real infection figure must be larger than what the authorities are admitting. “All of us have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” Wang, a staff member of Zhengyang train station, said in a phone interview on Saturday. “All of us have been tested for COVID this week. And all of us have to take the second test tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Wang said. “The outbreak is very severe here.”

The Zhengyang City government announced that no private or business vehicles were allowed on roads from Saturday. Only ambulances, garbage trucks, and other emergency vehicles were allowed to use the roads. A Zhengyang farmer told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on Saturday that even farmers aren’t allowed to leave their homes or work their fields. “If there’s only one infection [in Zhengyang], the regime shouldn’t be so nervous, and shouldn’t ask us to test at night. They said we will be tested again,” the farmer said. “They [the regime] don’t allow us to farm our lands, don’t allow us to visit the city, don’t allow us to visit our friends and relatives. All schools and after-school classes were closed,” she said.

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Berenson: “New @JAMA_current paper says @moderna_Tx caused 2.3x the number of “significant” symptoms compared to @pfizer in a sample of 950 people.


Moderna also produced more antibodies. Raising the question of what a third dose, which produces still MORE, will do.”

Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection (JAMA)

In June 2020, HWs in the Johns Hopkins Health System provided oral informed consent to participate in a longitudinal study of S1 spike antibodies in which serum samples and survey responses were collected every 3 to 4 months. Ethical approval was obtained from the Johns Hopkins University Institutional Review Board. The HWs who participated for a study visit between March 10 and April 8, 2021, were included in this analysis if their serum sample was collected 14 or more days after receiving dose 2 of either mRNA vaccine. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Euroimmun), IgG antibody measurements were determined based on optical density ratios with an upper threshold of 11 based on assay saturation.

Prior SARS-CoV-2 infection was defined as having (1) a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test result prior to 14 days after dose 2 or (2) S1 spike IgG measurement greater than 1.23 prior to vaccination.5 Participants self-reported symptoms following vaccination as none, mild (injection site pain, mild fatigue, headache), or clinically significant (fatigue, fever, chills). Logistic regression models were used to explore the association of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccine type with symptoms following each dose, adjusting for sex and age. A linear regression model was used to explore the association between magnitude of antibody response (log-transformed) and age, sex, prior infection, vaccine type, symptoms, and time after 2 doses of vaccine. Analyses were performed in R, version 4.0.2 (R Foundation).

Results
A questionnaire and serum sample were collected 14 or more days following dose 2 for 954 HWs. Clinically significant symptoms were reported by 52 of the 954 (5%) after dose 1 and 407 (43%) after dose 2. After adjusting for prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, age, and sex, the odds of clinically significant symptoms following either dose were higher among participants who received the Moderna vs the Pfizer vaccine (dose 1: odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% CI, 0.96-3.50; dose 2: OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.73-3.40) (Table). Prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure was associated with increased odds of clinically significant symptoms following dose 1 (OR, 4.38; 95% CI, 2.25-8.55) but not dose 2 (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.36-0.99), after controlling for vaccine type, age, and sex.

Regardless of symptoms, the vast majority of participants (953 of 954, greater than 99.9%) developed spike IgG antibodies 14 or more days following dose 2; 1 participant who was taking immunosuppressant medication did not develop IgG antibodies. Reporting clinically significant symptoms, age younger than 60 years, female sex, receipt of Moderna vaccine, and prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure were independently associated with higher median IgG measurements, after adjusting for time after dose 2.

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Kulldorff is next.

Harvard Med Professor Censored For Contrarian Covid Posts (JTN)

Martin Kulldorff started relying on LinkedIn to share news and views on COVID-19 policy after Twitter suspended the Harvard Medical School professor for a month for questioning the protective power of masks. Now the Microsoft-owned professional social network is scrutinizing his posts, going so far as to remove two for violating its misinformation policy. It’s at least the second action LinkedIn has taken this summer against a vaccine scientist who questioned COVID-19 orthodoxy. It suspended Robert Malone, who credits himself as the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, for alleging dangers from the “spike protein” in mRNA vaccines, citing heart-inflammation reports in some vaccinated young people and highlighting Big Tech censorship and conflicts of interest. A LinkedIn “senior executive” personally apologized to him for wrongful removal, Malone said.

Kulldorff made a similar cost-benefit argument against mandatory COVID vaccinations for young people in a June op-ed. He directed Twitter followers to find the op-ed on his LinkedIn page because “Twitter does not allow vaccine scientists to freely discuss vaccines.” Now he’s directing Linkedin followers to find him on Twitter, though the scientist confirmed to Just the News that he is concerned about further censorship there, “so I self-censor on Twitter.” One of Kulldorff’s Harvard Med colleagues spoke against LinkedIn for the censorship. “The point is not whether a minority viewpoint is right,” bioethics professor Jonathan Darrow, who cowrote a journal article with Kulldorff last year, wrote in an email. If such views are silenced, “public health options may be closed off prematurely, matters may be erroneously believed to be settled, and needed research may never be conducted.”


[..] COVID-19 orthodoxy has “unjustifiably tarnished” the reputations of scientists such as Stanford University’s John Ioannidis, “one of the most well-respected luminaries” in evidence-based medicine, Darrow said. Ioannidis lost that respect “because he publicly presented data about COVID’s infection fatality rate that were politically unpopular.” Censorship is also “communicable,” according to Darrow, “potentially tipping the scales of public judgment one way or the other and leading to a downward spiral of intolerance in which minority views are increasingly suppressed.”

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When one insanity meets the other.

Afghans Fleeing Taliban Need Negative PCR Test For Now-suspended Flights (RT)

The suspension of flights leaving Kabul has left countless civilians at the mercy of the Taliban. But even if flights resume, Afghans fleeing the country will still need to test negative for Covid, according to a baffling report. Soon after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Sunday, hundreds of civilians began to pour into Kabul’s international airport in hopes of being airlifted to safety. But by Monday morning, commercial airlines had halted operations in the Afghan capital due to gunfire around the air hub – caused at least in part by US soldiers firing warning shots at civilians gathering on the tarmac. But the suspension of regular outbound flights is just one of several hurdles facing Afghans seeking a one-way ticket out of the country: airlines operating in the Afghan capital ask for passengers to provide a negative coronavirus test.


The arguably ill-timed flight requirement was spotted at the end of an Atlantic article chronicling the frustrating story of an Afghan interpreter, Khan, and his family as they try to secure safe passage out of the country. “Today, Sunday, the Taliban are in Kabul… The neighborhood where Khan was renting a room has become dangerous, and he and his family have fled, walking six miles to another hiding place. He needs to find a facility that will administer the Covid-19 tests required by the airlines. He needs to get his family to the airport. He needs two more days,” reads the last paragraph of the article.

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Bubbles.

Tsitsipas Refuses To Take Vaccine Unless It Becomes Mandatory On Tour (R.)

World number three Stefanos Tsitsipas said he would only get the Covid-19 vaccine if it became mandatory to compete in tennis. While the men’s ATP Tour has publicly encouraged players to get vaccinated, the 23-year-old Greek is among those who still have reservations. “No one has told me anything. No one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated,” he told reporters, when asked if he would seek a vaccine while competing in the US. “At some point I will have to, I’m pretty sure about it, but so far it hasn’t been mandatory to compete, so I haven’t done it, no,” added Tsitsipas, who received a first-round bye in the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati.

He reached the French Open final in June but suffered a shock, first-round exit at Wimbledon, where he told reporters he found it challenging to live and compete in the Covid-19 “bubble.” The Covid-19 vaccine has divided opinion within tennis. World number one Novak Djokovic said in April he hoped the Covid-19 vaccine would not become mandatory for players to compete and has declined to answer questions regarding his own vaccination status. However, fellow 20-time Grand Slam winners Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal feel athletes need to play their part to get life back to some form of normality.


Federer said in May that he received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while Nadal said: “The only way out of this nightmare is vaccination. Our responsibility as human beings is to accept it. “I know there is a percentage of people who will suffer from side effects, but the effects of the virus are worse.” Spectators will not be allowed to attend qualifying rounds at this month’s U.S. Open due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said last week. The USTA previously said it would allow full fan capacity for the main part of the tournament.

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China knows.

Afghan Abandonment A Lesson For Taiwan (Global Times)

The geopolitical value of Afghanistan is no less than that of Taiwan island. Around Afghanistan, there are the US’ three biggest geopolitical rivals – China, Russia and Iran. In addition, Afghanistan is a bastion of anti-US ideology. The withdrawal of US troops from there is not because Afghanistan is unimportant. It’s because it has become too costly for Washington to have a presence in the country. Now the US wants to find a better way to use its resources to maintain its hegemony in the world. Taiwan is probably the US’ most cost-effective ally in East Asia. There is no US military presence on the island of Taiwan. The way the US maintains the alliance with Taiwan is simple: It sells arms to Taiwan while encouraging the DPP authorities to implement anti-mainland policies through political support and manipulation.

As a result, it has caused a certain degree of depletion between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. And what Washington has to do is only to send warships and aircraft near the Straits from time to time. In general, the US does not have to spend a penny on Taiwan. Instead, it makes money through arms sales and forced pork and beef sales to the island. This is totally a profitable geopolitical deal for Washington. Once a cross-Straits war breaks out while the mainland seizes the island with forces, the US would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere. A military intervention of the US will be a move to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits, and this will make Washington pay a huge price rather than earn profit.


Some people on the island of Taiwan hype that the island is different from Afghanistan, and that the US wouldn’t leave them alone. Indeed, the island is different from Afghanistan. But the difference is the deeper hopelessness of a US victory if it gets itself involved in a cross-Straits war. Such a war would mean unthinkable costs for the US, in front of which the so-called special importance of Taiwan is nothing but wishful thinking of the DPP authorities and secessionist forces on the island.

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“Unless there is a major purge of those who lied and misled, we can count on these disasters to continue until the last US dollar goes up in smoke.”

Kabul Has Fallen – But Don’t Blame Joe Biden (Ron Paul)

This weekend the US experienced another “Saigon moment,” this time in Afghanistan. After a 20 year war that drained trillions from Americans’ pockets, the capital of Afghanistan fell without a fight. The corrupt Potemkin regime that the US had been propping up for two decades and the Afghan military that we had spent billions training just melted away. The rush is on now to find somebody to blame for the chaos in Afghanistan. Many of the “experts” doing the finger-pointing are the ones most to blame. Politicians and pundits who played cheerleader for this war for two decades are now rushing to blame President Biden for finally getting the US out. Where were they when succeeding presidents continued to add troops and expand the mission in Afghanistan?

The US war on Afghanistan was not lost yesterday in Kabul. It was lost the moment it shifted from a limited mission to apprehend those who planned the attack on 9/11 to an exercise in regime change and nation-building. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks I proposed that we issue letters of marque and reprisal to bring those responsible to justice. But such a limited and targeted response to the attack was ridiculed at the time. How could the US war machine and all its allied profiteers make their billions if we didn’t put on a massive war? So who is to blame for the scenes from Afghanistan this weekend? There is plenty to go around. Congress has kicked the can down the road for 20 years, continuing to fund the Afghan war long after even they understood that there was no point to the US occupation.

There were some efforts by some Members to end the war, but most, on a bipartisan basis, just went along to get along. The generals and other high-ranking military officers lied to their commander-in-chief and to the American people for years about progress in Afghanistan. The same is true for the US intelligence agencies. Unless there is a major purge of those who lied and misled, we can count on these disasters to continue until the last US dollar goes up in smoke. The military industrial complex spent 20 years on the gravy train with the Afghanistan war. They built missiles, they built tanks, they built aircraft and helicopters. They hired armies of lobbyists and think tank writers to continue the lie that was making them rich. They wrapped their graft up in the American flag, but they are the opposite of patriots.

[..] Political control in Afghanistan has returned to the people who fought against those they viewed as occupiers and for what they viewed as their homeland. That is the real lesson, but don’t expect it to be understood in Washington. War is too profitable and political leaders are too cowardly to go against the tide. But the lesson is clear for anyone wishing to see it: the US global military empire is a grave threat to the United States and its future.

Vet

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Well, we have to make some money, c’mon!

Afghanistan: We Never Learn (Taibbi)

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, when asked months ago about the possibility that there might be a “significant deterioration” of the security picture in Afghanistan once the United States withdrew its forces, said, “I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.” Blinken’s Nostradamus moment was somehow one-upped by that of his boss, Joe Biden, who on July 8th had the following exchange with press: “Q: Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse. BIDEN: That is not true, they did not reach that conclusion… There is going to be no circumstance where you see people lifted off the roof of an embassy… The likelihood that you’re going to see the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

[..] The pattern is always the same. We go to places we’re not welcome, tell the public a confounding political problem can be solved militarily, and lie about our motives in occupying the country to boot. Then we pick a local civilian political authority to back that inevitably proves to be corrupt and repressive, increasing local antagonism toward the American presence. In response to those increasing levels of antagonism, we then ramp up our financial, political, and military commitment to the mission, which in turn heightens the level of resistance, leading to greater losses in lives and treasure. As the cycle worsens, the government systematically accelerates the lies to the public about our level of “progress.”

Throughout, we make false assurances of security that are believed by significant numbers of local civilians, guaranteeing they will later either become refugees or targets for retribution as collaborators. Meanwhile, financial incentives for contractors, along with political disincentives to admission of failure, prolong the mission. This all goes on for so long that the lies become institutionalized, believed not only by press contracted to deliver the propaganda (CBS’s David Martin this weekend saying with a straight face, “Everybody is surprised by the speed of this collapse” was typical), but even by the bureaucrats who concocted the deceptions in the first place.

The look of genuine shock on the face of Tony Blinken this weekend as he jousted with Jake Tapper about Biden’s comments from July should tell people around the world something important about the United States: in addition to all the other things about us that are dangerous, we lack self-knowledge. Even deep inside the machine of American power, where everyone paying even a modicum of attention over the last twenty years should have known Kabul would fall in a heartbeat, they still believe their own legends. Which means this will happen again, and probably sooner rather than later.

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“..if you don’t see this US policy debacle increases the risks of ‘red-line’ incidents in the Asia/Indo-Pacific, perhaps you should look for a desk job at the CIA.”

When The Penny Drops It’s You And Your Portfolio On That Kabul Tarmac (Every)

The US Beltway experts who six weeks ago said the Taliban could not establish an Islamic Emirate for at least a year, and then suddenly revised that down to six weeks, and then to 72 hours, still got it wrong: it happened on Sunday evening. The Afghan president has fled, along with his artificial $88bn “army”, but the actual weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban. Crowds of desperate Afghans are flooding the runway of Kabul airport –requisitioned by the US Army because it surrendered Bagram airbase without warning weeks ago, and the Taliban now control it– in scenes that look like Saigon in 1975. Or, tragically, like the Khmer Rouge entering Phnom Penh in ‘The Killing Fields’ (in Cambodia, a few years later); and there seems a very real risk the comparison won’t stop there.

Yes, markets will try to brush this geopolitical earthquake off: It’s just Afghanistan; It’s a long way away; We never wanted to go on holiday there anyway; They don’t even buy much cheese. There will probably be attempts to talk of a ‘New Taliban’, as we did with New Labour in the UK, brushing over the fact that the latter ‘New’ was vs. 1970’s socialism, and the former is vs. 7th century fundamentalism. Indeed, the Taliban seem to now realize which Western memes make it look more palatable, and are promising to be “inclusive”. They may only need to throw in “diverse”, “equity”, “green”, and “sustainability” for Wall Street to perk up and ask “Are you in favour of free trade and QE?”, and for EU foreign policy representatives to sit next to them.

But what to do? Michael Bloomberg has already penned an editorial that says “The US Can’t Walk Away From Afghanistan”, which is correct: the US *ran* away in the eyes of Afghans. He then Bloombergs that: “Words are easy. Solutions are hard,” and suggests the US continue to fund the Afghan government and army as long as viable (too late!), help people to flee (where?), and use airstrikes and special forces to keep terrorism at bay, which will involve “Cajoling neighbouring countries for intelligence support and basing rights.” (Neighbours like China; Turkmenistan; Tajikistan; Uzbekistan; Iran; and Pakistan.) Hey, words *are* easy! And solutions hard. Yet Bloomberg is right in that this geopolitical nightmare is almost certainly only just beginning.

As noted here on Friday, if you don’t see this US policy debacle increases the risks of ‘red-line’ incidents in the Asia/Indo-Pacific, perhaps you should look for a desk job at the CIA. The US now looks like it is flailing around like a social-media influencer discovering not just a micro-aggression, or that life contains people who don’t agree with you, but that there are people who aren’t even on Twitter that can punch you in the face and break your nose and teeth (and far, far worse). Geopolitically, opportunists of all stripes may now be considering if they may not be able to earn theirs, so to speak, by kicking the US while it is down. And yet the US is clearly swinging most of what is still the world’s most formidable military muscle squarely towards the Asia/Indo-Pacific region, and will almost certainly not want to be seen to ‘do a Kabul’ in that jurisdiction too. Or a Nord-Stream 2. Or an Iran.

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“Floundering. Friendless. Broke. Broken!”

Strange Days Ahead (Kunstler)

Well, we’ve become an ossified, administrative nomenklatura of Deep State flunkies as the Soviets were, and lately we’re just as lawless as they used to be, constitution-wise — e.g., the abolition of property rights via the CDC’s rent moratorium… the prolonged jailing in solitary confinement of January 6 political prisoners… the introduction of internal “passports.” The USA is running on fumes economically as the Soviets were. Our dominant party leadership has aged into an embarrassing gerontocracy. Is it our turn to collapse? Kind of looks like it. The days ahead are liable to be a rough ride. Surely China has taken the measure of our Woke military and is weighing the seizure of Taiwan in our moment of signal weakness.

No more computer chips for you, Uncle Sam! Do we come to Taiwan’s defense with guns blazing, or perhaps nukes? And what if that doesn’t work out so well? I’ll tell you what: a major geopolitical reordering of things, leaving us… where? Unable to enforce our will around the world as has been the case for eighty years. Floundering. Friendless. Broke. Broken! Of course, the domestic situation in our land has not been so fraught and overwrought since 1861. Everything is politicized, which is to say: used as a truncheon to beat-up adversaries and, let’s face it, mostly in the sense of Left against Right. This is especially true for the Covid-19 soap opera, which more and more pits the sanctimoniously vaccinated “progressives” against the recalcitrant conservative no-vax free-choicers — that is, coercive government trying to force supposedly free citizens to accept a pretty dubious experimental medical treatment.


Since when did the American Left become so pro-tyranny, and how’d that even happen? I have friends and relatives — I’m sure you do, too — who knocked themselves out in the 1960s protesting against the war, the government, the FBI, and the CIA… who fought in the streets for free speech and raged against official propaganda — and today they can’t get enough of coercing, punishing, brain-washing, and cancelling their fellow citizens. They’re going so far now as to engineer their vicious narrative to brand their opponents as “domestic terrorists.” Think that’s going to work?

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Apr 292021
 
 April 29, 2021  Posted by at 8:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  84 Responses »


James McNeill Whistler Miss Ethel Philip Reading 1894

 

Science Catches Up – And Burns You All (Denninger)
Legal Worries On EU’s ‘Green Certificates’ For Covid Travel (EUO)
NHS App To Be Used As Coronavirus Passport For International Travel (Sky)
UK Councils Are Recruiting Armies Of New Covid Marshals (DM)
Separating Rumor From Fact On Covid-19’S Origin (Sharyl Attkisson)
US Rejected Russian Offer for Complete Reset In Relations (RT)
EU Seeks SWIFT Shut-Off For Russia “If Ukraine Aggression Continues” (ZH)
The MH17 Trial: The Dangers of Presuming (MPN)
The CIA Has Been Taking Over for Decades (MPN)
The Scarcity of Money Myth (Cullen Roche)
In Praise of Bitcoin (Ben Hunt)
Deutsche Bank Warns Soaring Food Prices Will Lead To Social Unrest (ZH)
Scientists Find Way To Remove Polluting Microplastics With Bacteria (G.)
Revealed: UK Campaign to Force Assange From Ecuadorian Embassy (CN)

 

 

Richard Werner @scientificecon:
BREAKING: There is, after all, now a reason for social distancing: Organic humans may wish to stay away from the vaccinated GMOs because of the risk of “shedding” adverse vaccination effects from the vaccinated (genetically modified people) to the unvaccinated (organic people).

 

 

 

“Short-term prevention of “infection” among the 81% of those with existing T-cell recognition to the nucleocapsid proteins is not only stupid it is likely to kill people over the intermediate and longer term..”

Science Catches Up – And Burns You All (Denninger)

From the Nature study: “Taken together, SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes enabled detection of post-infectious T cell immunity in 100% of individuals convalescing from COVID-19 and revealed pre-existing T cell responses in 81% of unexposed individuals.” Now we know what Diamond Princess happened the way it did. It was never possible for more than 20% of the people on that ship to get seriously-symptomatic Covid-19 despite being cooped up in close quarters for weeks with an aerosol-spread disease and cruise passengers generally being wildly-overrepresented for various morbidity factors. It also completely explains why one of two people quarantined in the same cabin got sick and the other did not.

We also know why my friend’s grandfather was killed by it but his equally-morbid grandmother was not touched symptomatically even though she tested positive despite literally sleeping in the same bed with him until he wound up in the hospital and ultimately expired. We also know why there is no place on the planet that has seen >20% of people with significant, symptomatic disease from Covid-19. Not a single place has had that happen, even where sanitation is crap and people spread it like crazy (e.g. Iran where they lick monuments sequentially — literally.) This study explains every single example seen everywhere in the world, including high-concentration examples, of infection with Covid-19 back to the start of the pandemic.

We now know why no more than 20% of any exposed population has ever exhibited materially-serious disease — it simply was not possible as no more than 20% of the population was potentially susceptible to serious disease. Ever. Period. [..] “Short-term prevention of “infection” among the 81% of those with existing T-cell recognition to the nucleocapsid proteins is not only stupid it is likely to kill people over the intermediate and longer term since those who are not vaccinated and get infected with partial resistance build additional and durable immunity via said low-symptom and asymptomatic infections which do not materially harm them and blocking that process is harmful, not helpful. This group includes nearly all young adults and children for which people are trying to force vaccination.”

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Ciarán McCollum: “..the DGC certificates are useless as proof of whether you are infected, or can or cannot spread the virus.”

Legal Worries On EU’s ‘Green Certificates’ For Covid Travel (EUO)

An instrument of unusual significance is quietly on its way to becoming law in Europe: the proposal for a ‘Digital Green Certificate’ (DGC). Up for a vote in the European Parliament’s plenary on Wednesday, it erects a “universal framework” for the control of disease within the Schengen area. The EU Commission has presented it as a return to freedom of movement, essentially suspended by member states since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic. However the DGC, which creates certificates for Europeans showing the bearer has been vaccinated, tested or achieved immunity, is already beginning to lose its sheen. Last week, the WHO asked that any plans for making proof of vaccination a condition of entry be abandoned, after the US ruled out enforcing vaccination cards on its territory.

So is it wise for Europe to continue with its own? Freedom of movement is perhaps the European Union’s most cherished achievement, certainly among northerners seeking a visa-free sun holiday. In my home of Northern Ireland, with our ever-fragile cross-border peace agreement, we have a special appreciation for the importance of keeping borders open. The recent EU threat to impose a ‘vaccine border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic imperilled that peace. The EU can’t afford another blunder on borders, so it’s in its own interest that the DGC does what it says on the tin. However a cursory glance at the contents suggests a case of mislabeling or at least a lack of legal certainty. The commission assures us that the DGC will not restore (or entrench) border controls.

But “universal framework” can only be read as a euphemism for checks within the Schengen zone. It is article 3 of the DGC that creates certificates of vaccination, testing and immunity. Border guards will have to inspect these. As it’s put in Article 3(1), there will be “cross-border verification”, performed by the member state “authorities” mentioned in Article 9(2). In the absence of such checks, the certificates would be useless and the “universal framework” would not exist. With vaccinated Europeans travellers separated from non-vaccinated, infected from non-infected, and immune from non-immune—the DGC, if applied, would be a guarantee of discrimination within the EU.

This is simply not permissable under the Schengen Code. Chapter II of the Schengen Borders Code allows for the temporary reintroduction of internal borders in some circumstances, but that does not include a public health emergency. The whole endeavour is even more absurd if one acknowledges the scientific certainty that being vaccinated does not mean that one cannot be a carrier of the virus, nor infect others. We already know from the European Medicines Agency and WHO, confirmed by a decision this month of the Conseil d’État (France’s Supreme Court), that no proof exists of vaccination halting the spread of Covid-19. Meanwhile, in the last months many courts including the Lisbon Court of Appeal and Administrative Court of Vienna have held that PCR testing is unreliable and cannot be relied on for determining infection; a physician must perform a proper medical diagnosis. Thus the DGC certificates are useless as proof of whether you are infected, or can or cannot spread the virus.

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They even have several different passport apps.

NHS App To Be Used As Coronavirus Passport For International Travel (Sky)

Britons will find out which countries they will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel to this summer “in the next couple of weeks” – as the transport secretary confirmed an NHS app will be used as a COVID passport for travel abroad. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, international travel without one of the current exemptions – which exclude holidays – will not be allowed any earlier than 17 May. Ministers have set out plans for a “traffic light” system to be used this summer to categorise different destinations. And, speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed “in the next couple of weeks” he will be able to give details on which countries have made it on to the “green list”.


These will be destinations where Britons will be able to travel without having to quarantine on their return, although they will still need to undergo a COVID test before their departure, as well as on their return to the UK. Mr Shapps also confirmed an NHS app will be used to allow Britons to demonstrate whether they have had a COVID jab, or tested negative for the virus, before travelling abroad. “It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on, to be able to show you’ve had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing,” he added. “I’m working internationally with partners across the world to make sure that system can be internationally recognised.” Government sources clarified the app would not be the NHS COVID app – currently used to “check in” to venues such as pubs and restaurants for contact-tracing purposes – but would instead be the NHS app used to book general appointments.

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70% of the population allegedly has antibodies.

UK Councils Are Recruiting Armies Of New Covid Marshals (DM)

Armies of new Covid marshals are being hired across the country for jobs that could last for another two years despite lockdown restrictions being set to end in eight weeks’ time. Councils in England are in the process of recruiting a new legion of marshals who are expected to take to the streets from July this year despite Government plans to lift remaining coronavirus restrictions on June 21. It comes as data revealed nearly 40 million Britons now live in practically ‘Covid-free’ areas following the UK’s hugely successful vaccine rollout and continued lockdown measures. Hertfordshire County Council is among those advertising for Covid marshals, with the local authority offering a contract worth an estimated £3 million to a provider that can supply 60 marshals from July 1 until January 31 next year.

The contract also comes with a possible one-year extension to 2023. In its description of the marshals’ duties, the contract notice reads: ‘Provide practical support to aid and encourage compliance, such as dedicated staff in public areas, business support, or support for individuals.’ It continues: ‘Introduce measures to aid public and business awareness and understanding of regulations and guidance.’ Hertfordshire County Council defended its decision to recruit marshals, saying it is ‘not indicative of any increases in restrictions from July 2021 onwards’. Jim McManus, director of Public Health for Hertfordshire County Council, said: ‘In line with the Government’s projections for the roadmap out of lockdown, we are working towards restrictions being eased by 21 June 2021, but we know that the virus is still circulating and will be for some time.

‘We know from last year that numbers of infections can change rapidly, and Government are very clear that we should plan in case a third wave arises. ‘It would be a dereliction of duty not to prepare for a third wave, at the same time as doing all we can to prevent it happening by keeping infections as low as possible so we can enjoy summer with no restrictions.

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“It Was Uncle Tony All Along..”

Separating Rumor From Fact On Covid-19’S Origin (Sharyl Attkisson)

When the former head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, recently said Covid-19 likely leaked from a Chinese research lab, news headlines called it “shocking.” Dr. Robert Redfield on CNN: “I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory— you know, escaped.” That was followed by a flurry of media reports ridiculing the notion; insisting that Covid-19 probably jumped from bats to people through an unexplained, natural route. But there’s new information that hasn’t been widely reported. A sizable segment of the research community has formed the same opinion as Dr. Redfield: that Covid-19 leaked from experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Jamie Metzl, World Health Organization International Advisory Committee on Human Genome Editing:

“There are scientists all around the world who have told me that they believe the most likely origin of COVID-19, of the pandemic, is an accidental lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” Jamie Metzl is a member of the World Health Organization International Advisory Committee on Human Genome Editing. Sharyl (to Metzl): “What have you been told, and what have you found about scientists who feel like they can’t step forward?” Metzl: “Many of these people are afraid to step forward. They’ve called it career suicide, because there are so many contentious issues, because the stakes are so high. Because the Chinese government, in collaboration, or conjunction, or maybe not even association, but with some very high-level and prominent scientists have put forward this story that I think is wrong.”

Two scientists with knowledge of the matter told me the U.S. government conducted genome sequencing almost immediately in the pandemic. Among other things, they say Covid-19 shows clear hallmarks of man’s intervention. French virologist Luc Montagnier, a Nobel Prize recipient, arrived at the same conclusion a year ago. He says Covid-19’s genetics reveal “manipulation.” “Someone added sequences,” he said. “It’s the work of professionals, of molecular biologists…a very meticulous work.” Genetic analysis alone isn’t 100% conclusive, because results must be compared to viruses from the Wuhan lab. And sources confirm: “We never got the sample from China.” But scientists who spoke with me say genome sequencing, coupled with what’s known about research conducted by a U.S.-Chinese partnership, leaves them with little doubt that Covid-19 is a product of experiments.

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After Biden Inauguration.

US Rejected Russian Offer for Complete Reset In Relations (RT)

The Kremlin proposed a complete reset in the strained relationship between Moscow and Washington after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, but it was turned down by the White House, Russia’s chief diplomat said on Tuesday. Speaking to journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Russia wants to get back on a sound footing in its relationship with the US. “If it only depended on us, we would return to normal relations,” Lavrov explained, noting that the first step would be to cancel the expulsions of Russian diplomats from Washington, and US diplomats from Moscow. “We offered this to President Biden’s Administration as soon as he took all the necessary oaths and assumed power,” he continued. “I mentioned this to Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken.”


According to Lavrov, the crisis began when former President Barack Obama took measures against Russia prior to his leaving office. After the election of Donald Trump, Moscow remained patient and waited for the new administration to reverse the “excesses” of the outgoing president, but it never happened. “I very much hope that Washington, as we do, recognizes their responsibility for stability in the world,” Lavrov continued. “There are not only problems between Russia and the US that complicate the lives of our citizens… but also disagreements that put international security at serious risk, in the broadest sense of the word.” In recent weeks, relations between Moscow and Washington have become even more strained.

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“Russian officials have recently called Ukraine’s lobbying to get Russia banned from SWIFT “a declaration of war”…”

EU Seeks SWIFT Shut-Off For Russia “If Ukraine Aggression Continues” (ZH)

Days after President Putin warned the West of a “harsh” and “asymmetrical” response if it crosses Russia’s ‘red line’ concerning NATO troop positioning and the recently renewed Ukraine standoff, the European Parliament in Brussels has proposed a new resolution to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT payment system. Dated Wednesday, April 28, it’s entitled, “European Parliament resolution on Russia, the case of Alexei Navalny, the military build-up on Ukraine’s border and Russian attacks in the Czech Republic.” The over 50 European Parliament lawmakers cited “aggression and continued destabilization of Ukraine, hostile behavior towards and outright attacks on EU member states and societies.” It further appears a ‘preventative’ and threatening measure in the instance of any future scenario of major Russian troop build-up in Crimea and along Ukraine’s border such as occurred over the last month.

Despite the Kremlin last week ordering a troop draw down after the conclusion of Black Sea military drills, the EU is clearly seeking to drastically beef up the “cost” automatically imposed on Russia for “threats” against Ukrainian sovereignty. Here’s what the key section of the new punitive resolution says on SWIFT: “…Underscores that if such a military build-up were in the future to be transformed into an invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, the EU must make clear that the price for such a violation of international law and norms would be severe; insists, therefore, that in such circumstances imports of oil and gas from Russia to the EU be immediately stopped, while Russia should be excluded from the SWIFT payment system, and all assets in the EU of oligarchs close to the Russian authorities and their families in the EU need to be frozen and their visas cancelled;”

It’s certainly not the first time that Western allies have threatened such. The threat to cut off Russia from the global system for financial messaging and cross-border payments which acts as the protector of the dollar reserve system has lingered for the past half-decade, since the initial Crimea crisis and the start of war in eastern Ukraine. Russian officials have recently called Ukraine’s lobbying to get Russia banned from SWIFT “a declaration of war”…

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“..the proceedings and the trial, arguing that from the start Russia’s guilt has been presumed while never proven..”

The MH17 Trial: The Dangers of Presuming (MPN)

Only one of the four men charged – Oleg Pulatov – will be represented in court, although he himself will remain in Russia. At the time of writing, it is not certain that his attorneys will have had an opportunity to visit him. Russian law does not allow the extradition of its citizens for hearings outside of Russia. Russia’s offer to hold the trial in Russia was rejected, predictably. But there are far more significant flaws to the proceedings as currently constituted. One member of the JIT — Malaysia, headquarters of the owner of MH17, the flag carrier Malaysia Airlines — was not admitted to the JIT until 2015, months after it had been constituted, and has rejected the findings of the JIT.

The prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, professed considerable skepticism about the proceedings and the trial, arguing that from the start Russia’s guilt has been presumed while never proven. Western mainstream media coverage of the incident — fed with a narrative prepared within six hours of the crash by the Ukrainian intelligence service (SBU), whose business is the protection of Ukrainian national interests — presumed Russian guilt from day one, best exemplified by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the headline of its most popular British newspaper, The Sun: “Putin’s Missile,” on the morning after the crash.

[..] The presumption of Russian guilt in the shooting down of MH17 on July 17, 2014 is extremely convenient to the government of Ukraine. Which is why it is so very problematic that Ukraine, which suffered no loss of life in MH17, has been one of the five nations represented on the Dutch-led JIT while Russia is not a member, and that most of the evidence collected by the JIT has come from Ukrainian intelligence (SBU), a body that exists solely to serve the interests of Ukraine and that has been implicated by MH17 blogger and analyst Hector Reban in theft, torture and murder. Much of the information most sensitive to the case — notably concerning the “Buk route” (the route it is alleged a Buk unit followed to travel from Russia to Donbass and back), intercepted communications, text and visual postings on social media, and the supply of witnesses — comes from the SBU and much of it, by its very nature, is highly susceptible to malpractice or other forms of contamination. The JIT has warmly thanked the SBU for its collaboration and for many months the JIT worked in close proximity to the SBU in Kiev.

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“This particular report from the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was written in consultation with the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the DHS, and a partridge in a pear tree…”

The CIA Has Been Taking Over for Decades (MPN)

December 22, 1963 — exactly one month after President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, former President Harry S. Truman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that most people, especially our perfumed ruling elite, wanted to ignore. Truman, who signed the CIA into existence just after World War II, wrote: “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—the CIA. […] For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. …There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”

Not only did that adorn the pages of the Washington Post one month after JFK’s death, Truman hand wrote the first draft just one week after JFK met up with a bunch of bullets in Dallas. Sure, one may wish Harry had sent his thoughts to John a month before the President’s televised execution. Maybe he could’ve sent a singing telegram or something. But let’s at least give Truman partial credit for the belated message. Before his death, President Kennedy also held no love for the Central Intelligence Agency. Following the calamitous Bay of Pigs invasion, Kennedy said he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” Point being, clearly Truman, who created the CIA, and Kennedy, who met a mysterious untimely end by professional killers, knew the agency had run amok.

Yet the CIA is still here, bigger and filled with more Bond villains than ever, and now they have a whole cavalcade of other intelligence agencies working with them. The Intelligence Community just recently put out a report that showed that their component agencies are indeed working to surveil, harass, and attack an assortment of U.S. citizens. This particular report from the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was written in consultation with the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the DHS, and a partridge in a pear tree. (An evil, kinda dastardly partridge. Not a good partridge at all. Like the kind of partridge that would eat the last pickle and then put the jar back in the fridge, so that later when you’re excited to grab a delicious crispy pickle, there’s nothin’ there but a jar full of pickle urine. So yeah, the worst partridge.)

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“..this is basically all the modern economy is. It’s a bunch of people making promises to make things (mostly homes, to be honest) in exchange for some amount of deposits that they conjured up from nothing in the form of a contract.”

The Scarcity of Money Myth (Cullen Roche)

“money” is really just a bunch of contractual agreements. It’s “I’ll give you 25 apples at this time next year and this monetary note will settle that debt”. Loans create deposits. Deposits are money. Anyone who’s read this website for 10 minutes probably knows that. But all those loans, all that money, is just an agreement between two parties. It’s just a contractual agreement created from thin air. The government didn’t need to be involved (though that could certainly help in lots of ways). We didn’t need gold bars or physical coins or anything “natural” here. We just needed two people to make an agreement denominated in some specific terms. In its simplest sense, that’s really all money is – an agreement between two people that other people ultimately exchange in the meantime for all sorts of other stuff of relative value.

The key point here is that that money has value because someone has strong demand for it, presumably because there’s the promise of valuable goods and services attached to it. I want those 25 apples in the future and so do lots of other people so the demand for that money is strong because it’s a claim on real resources (assuming of course the 25 apples actually come into existence). And this is basically all the modern economy is. It’s a bunch of people making promises to make things (mostly homes, to be honest) in exchange for some amount of deposits that they conjured up from nothing in the form of a contract.

The more important key point is that money is elastic. This means that we can create more of these agreements as needed to meet the demands of the economy. A lot of us have been trained to believe that more money is necessarily bad/inflationary. But this need not be true so long as we produce the corresponding real resources to support the demand for that money. In fact, this is a good thing because it provides us with a monetary system that can flexibly react to the needs of its users. And this is what all credit based monetary systems are – flexible systems that can expand and contract financial assets as needed. Within the piping of the existing system banks are the primary issuers of the loans that supply that needed liquidity.

The alternative is some sort of fixed money supply that relies on relative price changes and the kindness of rich people to lend some of that money. While this could work in theory, it doesn’t work in reality because the system just isn’t dynamic enough. And this is the primary reason why we end up with what people refer to as “fractional reserve” style systems. In other words, someone (or something) tries to fix the money supply using gold or reserves or some other fixed supply asset. And credit markets naturally build off of these systems because the fixed supply system isn’t elastic enough. This is good as it allows us to grow more apples and build more houses on demand, as needed to meet our needs.

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Long diatribe from Ben. Bitcoin as an art form.

In Praise of Bitcoin (Ben Hunt)

Because the artistic Bitcoin identity I admire and value has been subverted by the neutering machine of Wall Street and the regulatory panopticon of the US Treasury Dept. Because what made Bitcoin special in the first place is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance. Yes, the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy strike back. They always do when it comes to money. Not with imperial stormtroopers or legislative sanction, but with golden handcuffs and administrative surveillance. It’s not that the State and the status quo institutionalization of capital – call it Wall Street, for short – have any desire to ban Bitcoin. Why would they do that?

No, far better to accommodate and swallow Bitcoin, like they have every other financial “innovation” for the past 1,000 years. Far better to neuter the censorship-resistant and anonymity-preserving aspects of Bitcoin, and turn it into another gaming table in the Wall Street casino. In my dystopian vision, Bitcoin isn’t banned or criminalized. Pfft. That’s a rookie, weak State move. No, I see a future where everyone buys Bitcoin. Where you are encouraged to buy Bitcoin. Where Bitcoin is sold to you morning, noon and night. Where normie economists get on conference calls late at night because they’re Bitcoin price-curious. Except it’s not really Bitcoin.

Instead, it’s Bitcoin!™ — a cartoon version of the OG Bitcoin, either a Wall Street-abstracted representation of the price of Bitcoin or a government-painted version of Bitcoin in Dayglo orange. Either way — abstracted or painted — your Bitcoin!™ is trackable and traceable, fully KYC and AML and FBAR and SWIFT and every other US Treasury acronym-compliant. Either way, your Bitcoin!™ has all the revolutionary potential of a bumper sticker and all the identity signaling power of a small tattoo on your upper arm. Bitcoin!™ doesn’t stick it to the Man … Bitcoin!™ IS the Man. Welcome to the MMXXI Hunger Games.

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Where all the stimulus ends up.

Deutsche Bank Warns Soaring Food Prices Will Lead To Social Unrest (ZH)

Yesterday we explained why with prices already soaring, global inflation was about to go into overdrive as the leading food price indicator that is the Bloomberg Agri spot index hit the highest level in six years. In a nutshell, this is a problem since food is a large component of CPI baskets in Asia, and “this large inflationary impulse in the region that houses more than half the world’s population should result in higher wage costs in the factory base of the world. As CPI and PPI rise in Asia, it will feed through globally in the months ahead.” Today, DB’s Jim Reid picked that chart as his “Chart of the day”, repeating what readers already know, namely that Bloomberg’s agriculture spot index has risen by c.76% year-on-year, noting that “that’s the biggest annual rise in nearly a decade, and there are only a couple of other comparable episodes since the index begins back in 1991.”

Like us, Reid then patiently tries to explain to all the idiots – like those employed in the Marriner Eccles building – that the importance of this record surge “extends far beyond your weekly shop, as there’s an extensive literature connecting higher food prices to periods of social unrest.” Indeed, you’ll notice from the chart that the last big surge from the middle of 2010 to early 2011 coincided with the start of the Arab Spring, for which food inflation is regarded as a contributing factor. While this is hardly new [..] Reid also reminds us that emerging markets are more vulnerable to this trend, since their consumers spend a far greater share of their income on food than those in the developed world.


The DB strategist then goes all-in and says what everyone is thinking, namely that “this trend of higher food prices leading to social unrest extends far back into history and surrounds many key turning points. The French Revolution of 1789, which overthrew the Ancien Régime, came after a succession of poor harvests that led to major rises in food prices. It was a similar story at the time of Europe’s 1848 revolutions too, which followed the failure of potato crops in the 1840s and the associated severe famine in much of Europe. And the 1917 overthrow of the Tsarist regime in Russia took place in the context of food shortages as well.” So while it remains to be seen what the consequences of today’s surge in food prices could be, Reid cautions that “given the hardship that’s already occurred thanks to the pandemic, a fresh wave of unrest would be no surprise on a historical basis.”

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Bit too positive? Stop using the word “sustainable” for these things, it makes me cringe.

Scientists Find Way To Remove Polluting Microplastics With Bacteria (G.)

Microbiologists have devised a sustainable way to remove polluting microplastics from the environment – and they want to use bacteria to do the job. Bacteria naturally tend to group together and stick to surfaces, and this creates an adhesive substance called “biofilm” – we see it every morning when brushing our teeth and getting rid of dental plaque, for example. Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) want to use this sticky bacteria property and create tape-like microbe nets that can capture microplastics in polluted water to form an easily disposable and recyclable blob.

Although these findings, presented on Wednesday at the Microbiology Society’s annual conference, are still preliminary, this invention could pave the way for sustainably lowering plastic pollution levels in the long run by simply using something found in nature. “It is imperative to develop effective solutions that trap, collect, and even recycle these microplastics to stop the ‘plastification’ of our natural environments,” said Sylvia Lang Liu, microbiology researcher at PolyU and lead researcher on this project. Microplastics are the plastic fragments, usually smaller than 5mm, which are accidentally released into the environment during production and breakdown of, for example, grocery bags or water bottles – or during everyday activities such as washing synthetic clothes such as nylon or using personal care products with scrubbing microbeads in them.

Although they are tiny, the risk they post to the environment is huge. Microplastics are not easily biodegradable, so they stick around for long periods of time and they also absorb and accumulate toxic chemicals. They disperse into wastewater and into the oceans, endangering marine animals who end up eating them and eventually trickling into the food chain and harming human health too. Microplastics had been found in more than 114 aquatic species in 2018, according to the International Maritime Organization, and they have been found in salt, lettuce, apples, and more. Yet, there are not any sustainable, one-size-fit-all ways to eliminate microplastics.

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People should go to jail for these things. They never do.

Revealed: UK Campaign to Force Assange From Ecuadorian Embassy (CN)

The UK government paid £8,330 in November 2018 to bring Ecuador’s defence minister Oswaldo Jarrín to Britain, two months before the planned seizure of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, it can be revealed. It is unusual for foreign ministers to have their trips to the UK paid by the British government, and the week-long visit came after Prime Minister Theresa May had been told to “butter up” Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, in order to get Assange expelled from the embassy. The new information comes from UK Foreign Office documents released to Declassified, as well as the recently published diaries of former foreign office minister, Sir Alan Duncan, who was a key player in the Assange negotiations.

The documents note that “the main objective” of the November 2018 visit was Jarrín’s “participation” at an annual national counter-terrorism exercise that rehearses the government’s response to a major terrorist attack. The exercise is organised by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, a part of the Home Office which “oversees the Security Service [MI5] and police counter-terrorism operations in the UK”. It is unclear why Ecuador’s defence minister was chosen to attend a counter-terrorism exercise as the South American nation is not a target of terrorist groups. The documents note that “one of the main meetings” was with then armed forces minister Mark Lancaster, after which the Ministry of Defence reported the two countries were “strengthening our ties”. Jarrín also visited the Foreign Office’s “crisis centre” and met with the head of UK Export Finance, Louis Taylor.

Two months before Jarrín’s visit, in September 2018, the UK government had spent another £12,806 facilitating a three-day visit by Ecuadorian officials concerned with fighting corruption and money laundering in the country. The evaluation of the trip noted that it helped the UK government to “build strong relationships” and that “the UK was subsequently commended as a partner of choice to President of the Republic [Lenín Moreno]”. A Foreign Office spokesperson told Declassified: “The Foreign Office regularly arranges meetings with ministers and officials from other countries to encourage closer engagement with our international partners and help achieve our foreign policy objectives.” She added: “As part of this work, some of the costs of these visits are occasionally covered by the Department or by Posts. These are carefully considered on a case by case basis, and only when resources are available.”

British security officials also visited Ecuador in the build-up to Assange’s exit from the embassy, government records show. In July 2018, Philip Barton, then director general of security at the Foreign Office, flew to Ecuador for “short notice bilateral meetings” with its foreign ministry. A week after his return he travelled to Cheltenham for “meetings at GCHQ”, the UK’s largest intelligence agency, government travel logs show. Then, two weeks before Assange was expelled from the embassy, on March 27, 2019, Britain’s then deputy national security adviser for intelligence, Richard Moore, spent £4,469 on a business-class flight to Ecuador, the logs show. Moore was appointed chief of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, just over a year later. Barton now runs the Foreign Office.

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“I’ve got the world in my window.”

Michael Collins (died yesterday at 90) snapped this photo of the lunar module returning to the command module after landing on the Moon. With the Earth in the background, all of humanity is in this photograph, save Collins himself.

 

 

 

 

 

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Apr 212021
 


Mark Chagall I and the village 1911

 

 

Joe Biden declares a “national emergency”, calls Putin a killer, slaps more sanctions on Russia, for which he has his Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken declare that “Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” … and then “invites” Putin for a summit.

For the SolarWinds “intrusion”, the US has never provided any evidence at all, the Russian bounties story was -finally- fully debunked well before Blinken made his statement -which makes him look very incompetent-, and the election interference narrative is by now just too dumb to even get into. No evidence for it whatsoever after 2 years of the Mueller investigation, but now Putin’s at it again? Who did he want to win, then? Trump again, after apparently not even trying in 2016?

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky states that his country should urgently be made a full member of both NATO and the EU, and has his own proxy, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, solemnly claim that not just “The only possibility for this [to prevent alleged invasion plans] is for Ukraine to finally become a NATO member”, but also that “Ukraine has no other choice: either we are part of an alliance such as NATO and are doing our part to make this Europe stronger, or we have the only option – to arm by ourselves, and maybe think about nuclear status again”.… And then Zelensky invites Putin for a summit. In the Donbass, no less.

These people are all as insincere as they possibly could be, but they trust that this doesn’t matter anymore. The western media have been planting the “Putin is a monster” seeds in their readers and viewers for many years now, and critical thought has long since left the building. Yes, that is the ultimate effect of what’s called propaganda, and as long as the sheeple “victims” don’t recognize it as such, it works like a charm.

 

I’ve been wondering for a long time why Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as his successor in 1999, and I can’t find much information on it. Yeltsin was a US asset, and sold out his country to the CIA and a bunch of CIA-asset homegrown oligarchs. I’ve always suspected that when Yeltsin left, he felt a lot of regret for what he had done to Russia, and that maybe appointing Putin was his way to try and make up for that. I see people saying that Yeltsin thought Putin was pliable, but I think perhaps he knew exactly how Putin thought.

A “detail”: remember that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, male life expectancy for a period of time feel from a very steep cliff. And nothing Yeltsin did provided a solution to that crisis. Then, in August 1999, he appointed Putin as his prime minister, and didn’t leave a year later as planned, but 4 months later, in December. His chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev , who had hired Putin as his deputy in 1997, wrote his resignation speech:

Mr Yumashev was entrusted with writing Yeltsin’s resignation speech. “It was a hard speech to write. It was clear the text would go down in history. The message was important. That’s why I wrote the famous line ‘Forgive me’. “Russians had suffered such shock and stress during the 1990s. Yeltsin had to speak about this.”

Back to today. All economic -and other- sanctions against Russia since Putin first became president have led to one thing only: the country has dramatically increased its self-sufficiency. And in the process has upgraded its weapons arsenal to a level that no western country even comes close to, including the US, for maybe 10% of what the same US has spent on its own arsenal.

Russia’s latest generation of hypersonic missiles, against which no country has any defense, are far superior to what anybody else possesses. When they said recently they could take out a specific building in Kyiv if they wanted, they were not exaggerating. So yeah, look for Biden and Blinken and NATO et al to soon start using that superiority as a reason to incite more war vs Moscow.

A war they could never win, but that’s not the point any longer. One might argue of course that it never was after the advent of nuclear weapons. The whole point of NATO today, its raison d’être, is that it can create chaos wherever it goes and looks. It’s no longer capable of defending anyone from the Russian threat, but then that threat hasn’t been there for many years.

 

And NATO wants to continue existing, as does the Pentagon, and Boeing and Raytheon, it’s all about money, so they have to make up a threat, aided by their media brethren. That‘s why you see, from time to time, reports about Putin having yet another person “poisoned”, why governments in countries like the UK and Germany go along with the narrative, and why media in all other vassal states parrot these stories.

In that vein, the story this week out of Czechia, which expelled 18 Russian diplomats, kind of sets a new standard in absolute nonsense.

The Czech organised crime squad (NCOZ) said it was looking for two men using Russian passports in relation to the explosions. The passports bear the names of Alexander Petrov, born in 1979, and Ruslan Boshirov, born in 1978, and their holders are also wanted in Britain in connection with Skripal’s poisoning in Salisbury.

Mark Ames’ reaction to this on Twitter is so good, I’m not going to try to beat him to it: : “If I understand this right, apparently GRU thought it’d be smart to use the same 2 spies to carry out 2 separate deadly operations in NATOland – 2014 bombing in Czech Rep, 2018 Skripal poisoning – using exact same aliases & fake passports in both operations.”

Now that the west has lost its military superiority, all that’s left for it to claim is some sort of “intelligence superiority”, so it portrays Russians as really dumb people. Putin tries to poison one person after another, invariably people who are no threat to him at all, with the deadliest poisons on the planet, and fails time and again. Navalny is a US asset who gets 2% max of votes in a poll, Skripal is a former military intel officer who was allowed to go to the UK after being exposed as a double-agent (!), but they fit the 20+ year old narrative of Putin as Pol Pot. Stories. They are all that counts. Reality, not so much. Bernays and Goebbels are having a ton of fun in their own private hells.

So how will the Ukraine episode be resolved? Not easy. Making the world’s 2nd-most corrupt country a full member of NATO is out of the question, Russia will never accept that. Which is why the west is pushing it. Ukraine with nukes is even more preposterous, if that is possible (hard call). Dmitry Orlov suggested a “solution” the other day about which I have major question marks, but he’s Russian and I’m not, so take a look:

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem.

Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome. Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees.

The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home.

While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds. The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether.

[..] The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.

Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.

Dmitry suggests 4.6 million people leave the Donbass so peace may be restored. But most of those people grew up there, and so did their families. And largely peacefully so, until the US and NATO, John McCain and Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, tried to take over Ukraine. Why should Russia, instead of protecting these people where they live, migrate them and protect them in Russia? Anyone ask for their own opinion?

There would be a giant empty piece of land where they once lived, in a kind of demilitarized zone? And what then? Nobody in Ukraine would come up with the idea to move into the empty land? And if they did, Russia would have to shoot them from Russian territory? I sort of see the reasoning of course, but not all of it. It only seems to work if you see Russia, and the Russians in the Donbass, as the aggressors.

Were they? Are they? Russia only sprung into action when the west tried to take away their sole warm water port, Sevastopol in Crimea. An election was held, and 97% of mostly Russians voted to be part of Russia. Yeah, that upset NATO and the other usual suspects, but that doesn’t make Russia an aggressor.

Russia has no reason to “invade” Ukraine. They don’t need even more territory, they’re already by far the largest nation on earth. Moreover, they don’t have the military to occupy large swaths of land. They only have the capacity to protect their own.

Thing is, they really got that down. So the only thing NATO can do, in its quest to prove it has reason to exist, is to create chaos, as I said before. But there is a problem with consciously creating chaos between nuclear powers, instead of maintaining communication channels, as the US and USSR always did during the Cold War. Do we all understand this means we are in a worse situation today than back then? That all those expulsions of diplomats only make the situation worse?

And that some fool could actually fire a nuclear missile because of that? Me, I’m not so sure anymore. Between the Covid virus and the US cancel culture, there are not that many western people paying attention to warmongers and NATO aka warheads. Not a good idea.

 

 

 

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Mar 192021
 
 March 19, 2021  Posted by at 7:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Brian Griffin Memorial to the Conquerors of Space, Moscow, Russia 1974

 

 

In the space of just 24 hours, Joe Biden and Antony Blinken managed to make Donald Trump look like a perfect diplomat. And we must wonder why that is. Why did Biden call Putin a soulless killer, and Blinken invoke a 20 minute tirade from Chinese top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Alaska? Is it just stupidity, which is quite possible, or is it orchestrated, which you might suspect given it took so little time to insult America’s alleged two biggest adversaries? Reuters:

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage that the U.S. side would discuss its “deep concerns” about Chinese actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion of allies. “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” he said. …Yang hit back, accusing the United States of using its military might and financial supremacy to pressure countries and of abusing national security to threaten the future of international trade.


He said Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all inseparable parts of Chinese territory and China firmly opposed US interference in its internal affairs. Yang said human rights in the United States were at a low point with Black Americans being “slaughtered” and added that the United States should handle its own affairs and China its own. Yang said it was necessary to abandon a “Cold War mentality,” and confrontation and added: “The way we see the relationship with the United States is as President Xi Jinping has said, that is we hope to see no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the United States.”

It’s time that people understand Joe Biden is an entirely scripted actor. Not well-scripted, and not a good actor, but still. His comments about Putin being a “killer with no soul” are insane, they scrape the bottom of the bottom of the barrel of diplomacy, they insult not just Putin, and thereby all of Russia, and threaten world peace, but they’re not his. They were written for him. Biden keeps reminding me of Max Headroom, an early MTV thing. Cartoon character. Scripted.

The CIA, Pentagon, NATO, Boeing, Raytheon, you name them, all badly need to conserve the image of Putin as Satan, because he’s their “raison d’être”. Putin is the figurehead for why the US spends 10 times more than Russia on “defense”, and still ends up with inferior weaponry. The CIA thought they had it all won when they put Yeltsin in the Kremlin, and started to take over all resources of the country with the most natural resources on the planet.

And then Putin came, and prevented that take-over. It’s hilarious to see how that same CIA now tries to push Alexey Navalny, a virtual nobody in Russia, as “opposition leader”, just as even Amnesty take their hands off of him, and reverse their nutty “prisoner of conscience” moniker, because all of a sudden they realize he called Muslims “flies and cockroaches”. Navalny, like Yeltsin, is a CIA asset, plain and simple.

The narrative of him being poisoned with novichok, the deadliest poison in the world, which never seems to kill anyone when Russians use it on their enemies, of course goes back to the “poisoning” of father and daughter Skripal in the UK 3 years ago, who didn’t die either, but haven’t been heard from since. It’s a narrative: evil Putin poisons people. But if you look at the background, none of the people he supposedly targets are ever a threat to him. They just serve the narrative. Just like Joe Biden does. That’s his role.

Driving all this blubber are people like neocon man and wife team Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland and their ilk, the latter a driving force behind the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine, who were outsmarted by Putin’s peaceful and democratic take-over take-back of Crimea, and are still mightily pissed off about that. And guess what, Nuland is now back in Joe Biden’s US government.

Skripal was a Russia military intelligence officer who turned double agent and spied for Britain. That would have been enough for any country to either lock him up for a very long time or simply eliminate him, certainly in the US. It happens all the time. But Putin let him leave to live in Britain. Ergo: he can’t have been that much of a threat. And then years later they want to kill him anyway, and send two clowns who screw up the operation with the deadliest poison in the world? That theory only works if you think Russians, and Russian intelligence, are the stupidest on the planet. While ex-KGB agent Putin is in charge. Then he must be stupid too.

Who buys that? Well, Americans do. Because their media do nothing but repeat Putin is Satan messages. And corrupt too. Navalny recently had a story about some multi-billion “castle” Putin allegedly owns, western media ate it up, and then it turns out to be some empty shell, like those cardboard store fronts you see in western movies. But this is not about truth anymore. It‘s about how endless repetition makes lies “believable” to gullible people – of which America has a seemingly endless supply. They can only sell you the story about how stupid Russians supposedly are if they assume you are really stupid.

Putin won’t starve when he retires, but we have no indications that he stole billions either. That’s a narrative that’s been repeated for all twenty odd years he’s led Russia. America’s war industry needs an enemy, so they create one. It all just serves to show ever more that “US intelligence” is an oxymoron. And that Biden is a moron, period.

 

ZeroHedge is (re?)running a series of articles by US hedge fund manager Alex Krainer, who noticed how, especially in 2014 post-Maidan, the Putin stories ran in the MSM, and started looking into it. And then wrote a book about it. In 2018, he wrote 3 articles on the topic. Here are some excerpts, but do read all of it:

 

 

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 1

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis Putin declared publicly that he bore responsibility to ensure that the 1998 crisis would not repeat itself on his watch. His government also took proactive steps to limit the fallout from the crisis. In July 2008, Putin personally went to the town of Pikalyevo in Leningrad Oblast to confront the directors and owners of a large metallurgical factory. This was not long after the owners had shut the facility down, suspending without pay thousands of their workers.

Addressing the gathering, Putin excoriated them, saying that because of their unprofessional conduct and greed, thousands of families would find themselves destitute. This was unacceptable to his government and he ordered the owners to restart the facility, else the government would do it without them. He further ordered the management to immediately (“deadline today”) pay all workers’ salary arrears, amounting to more than 41 million rubles. [..]
Putin publicly chastised Oleg Deripaska, once Russia’s richest man, and other Russian businessmen at a meeting in Pikalyovo.

Putin took similar action protecting the ordinary people in another crisis situation. During his first winter as president, entire towns and villages across the far east of the country counting as many as 400,000 inhabitants, lost heating for the lack of coal. A serious crisis emerged with mines shutting down, workers out in the streets and even hospitals ceasing to function because of the cold. But the coal for heating was available in Russia, only most of it was already allotted for export. Vladimir Putin didn’t think that Russian people should suffer freezing conditions all winter in order for that coal to be exchanged for American dollars. He decreed that export of coal be stopped immediately and that all available quantities be sent back to Siberia to fuel the boiler stations.

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 2

According to his chief of security, Alexander Korzhakov, Boris Yeltsin worked about two hours per day. The rest he spent eating, drinking, playing tennis, hunting or enjoying some other pastime. Vladimir Putin reportedly works exceptionally long hours and several of his advisers and ministers have testified to working with him until very late into the night and then receiving a call from him early in the morning the next day. Exiled banker and former oligarch Sergei Pugachev described his experience: “we hardly parted company, we met on a daily basis from early morning to late evening until 3, until 4 AM, every day, every day. We naturally discussed matters of state business development, the state of the economy and so on. Putin needed someone who understood and knew those matters well. (Harding, Smith and Maynard 2015)

Some of his advisors and ministers reported meeting with him to discuss some matter within their own domain of specialty only to be startled in realizing that Putin commanded a more detailed understanding of that very matter than they themselves had. Being that immersed in and devoted to his occupation enables Vladimir Putin to hold his famous marathon press conferences when he speaks for three or four hours answering journalists questions with accurate and detailed information and without teleprompters. His 14th annual call-in marathon in 2016 lasted 3 and a half hours during which he took and answered 80 questions!

[..] I wondered if the Russians wouldn’t in the end get Edward Snowden and trade him for some big concession from their “American partners” who were clearly extremely keen on getting the renegade whistle-blower. I remember thinking that the outcome of that incident would give us an important indication of what Vladimir Putin was made of: would he do the right thing and offer Snowden asylum and protection, or would he end up trading him off? My gut feeling was that Putin would indeed do the right thing, but at the same time I cringed at the thought that I might end up disappointed. After several weeks of legal procedures, on July 31st 2013, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia.

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 3

In a speech to the Federal Assembly in 2005, Putin drew on the philosophy of Ivan Ilyin to outline the limitations of state power: “State power cannot oversee and dictate the creative states of the soul and mind, the inner states of love, freedom and goodwill. The state cannot demand from its citizens faith, prayer, love, goodness and conviction. It cannot regulate scientific, religious and artistic creation… It should not intervene in moral, family and daily private life, and only when extremely necessary should it impinge on people’s economic initiative and creativity.”


It is unusual for a politician to speak of such things as states of the soul and mind or the “inner states of love” to a gathering of other politicians but these ideas do appear to run as a theme in Putin’s conception of political leadership. At the 15th Congress of the Russian Geographical Society, he ventured the following statement: “In general, love is the whole meaning of life, of being. Love of family, of children, and of the motherland. It is such a multifaceted phenomenon that is the basis of all our actions.” To a Westerner, exposed to a relentless defamation of Vladimir Putin, this may be difficult to believe. After all, we know that he was a KGB agent, that he routinely ordered assassinations of his critics and political opponents, that he has made himself the wealthiest man in the world, and many other similarly negative “facts” about him.

And Scott Ritter has it right:

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If The Consequences Weren’t So Serious

[..] the likelihood of the Biden-Putin meeting occurring as described by Joe Biden is slim to none. When Biden made his trip to the Kremlin in 2011, he was fronting for the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia. There was no opportunity, or need, for Biden’s faux machismo. The two men did meet, but as part of delegations discussing the possibility for improving relations. Not only would Biden’s insulting verbal flexing have been wildly inappropriate and inconsistent with the larger policy objectives of his visit, but it ran counter to his own feelings, expressed at the time, about Russia.

“Russia has the best engineers in the world,” Biden said in a press conference after his meeting with Putin (who was serving as Russia’s prime minister, not president, at the time.) “Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation.” These are not words one utters after telling a Russian leader in private that he has “no soul.”

Biden’s struggle with the truth is well known, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he possibly made up a meeting with Putin. Biden has been caught plagiarizing a speech delivered by former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, lied about his academic record and accomplishments, and manufactured from whole cloth a narrative that has him participating in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Biden’s lies all have one goal in common: to make him out to be that which he is not. So, too, his apparent lie about calling Putin soulless.

Biden is desperate to be a ‘tough guy’. But for that reputation to stick vis-à-vis Putin, there had to be a ‘showdown’ moment, where the good guy faced off against the bad guy and called him out. Since no such event exists, Biden had to make one up. And, like most of his lies, Biden repeats them long enough and often enough that they take on a life of their own, embraced as fact by unquestioning journalists.

 

Joe Biden only has a veneer, a semblance, of credibility, and that’s only because US media never ask him any serious questions. Not just because he never did any press-ops after becoming president, but also because even if he did, they still wouldn’t.

Putin, on the other hand, saved his country from America, globalism, and the worst outgrowths of capitalism and neocons. The US no longer has any meaningful dialogue with Russia anymore, which is of course utterly insane (but yeah, the narrative), but the Alaska meeting does give us an insight into where this train is about to be headed next.

Biden is no match for Putin in any way shape or form, but that doesn’t matter much “back home” as long as the press reports on just one side of the situation. We could have a great relationship with Russia, mutually beneficial, but that is too much of a threat to certain forces in the country. And those forces just came back into power.

Putin’s weak point is he would like to retire, but can’t find anyone he trusts to take over. And the CIA is ready to pounce as soon as he leaves. Biden is no problem for him, but finding a successor as smart as himself, is.

And you know, do you see Joe Biden take on the entire Russian intelligence apparatus, on his own? Just saying. And asking for a friend.

 

 

 

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Feb 142021
 
 February 14, 2021  Posted by at 10:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Edward Hopper Christmas card 1928

 

Only Seven GOP Senators Vote To Convict Trump (F.)
Trump’s Philly Lawyers Are Facing A Backlash At Home (Inq.)
Statement on Senate Impeachment Acquittal of Trump (Nader/Fein)
Newsom Recall Effort Has Enough Signatures To Trigger Special Election (JTN)
How To Understand The Rage Economy (IC)
Cuomo Didn’t Protect Seniors. But it Was the Media That Covered it Up (NW)
Patent For Secret Bat Cages At Wuhan Lab (DM)
India Finally Bans Cryptocurrencies (BTCPeers)
State Clears First Three Foreign Military Sales Of Biden Administration
Why Russia Is Driving The West Crazy (Escobar)
Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms (Edward Curtin)

 

 

 

 

As I said to friends earlier: A circus in which even the clowns are not funny. The Dems never really tried to win. When they all agreed on witnesses, the Dems reneged as soon as it was clear that Pelosi would be called.

Only Seven GOP Senators Vote To Convict Trump (F.)

The U.S. Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on charges of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, with just 7 Senate Republicans siding with Democrats in voting to convict him. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) voted with all Democrats to convict Trump on one article of impeachment. The article alleges the ex-president “engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” The result comes after a particularly tumultuous final day of an already chaotic trial in which senators voted to approve debates on calling witnesses, only to backtrack and swiftly conclude the proceedings hours later.

Trump’s acquittal was widely seen as a foregone conclusion, cemented further by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement to Republican colleagues on Saturday that he would vote to let off the ex-president he has publicly condemned. “Whatever you came to Washington to do… This is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, had told senators before the vote. Trump became the first president to be impeached twice last month when the House passed the article of impeachment 232-197, with a historic 10 House Republicans breaking with their party and voting to impeach.

[..] Trump is not out of the woods yet, as he is facing legal scrutiny from prosecutors in several states. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is probing his finances and business practices, while prosecutors in Georgia have reportedly opened a criminal investigation into his call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he urged Georgia election officials to “find” votes for him.

Read more …

Mostly peaceful.

“Michael van der Veen hired 24-hour private security for his family after vandals smashed windows & spray-painted “TRAITOR” on the driveway of his..home Friday night. He told reporters Saturday he received more than 100 death threats.”

Trump’s Philly Lawyers Are Facing A Backlash At Home (Inq.)

If Donald Trump’s team of Philadelphia lawyers thought they’d get a reputational bump from defending a former president on the biggest stage of their careers, it hasn’t turned out that way. They won his acquittal Saturday at his second impeachment trial. But the backlash could end up following them for years. Members of the team described the five-day trial as a trying experience, from infighting between attorneys and second-guessing by Republican advisers in Washington, to derision hurled their way online and at their homes and offices. Michael van der Veen hired 24-hour private security for his family after vandals smashed windows and spray-painted “TRAITOR” on the driveway of his suburban Philadelphia home Friday night. He told reporters Saturday he received more than 100 death threats.

And they acknowledged being caught off guard by the level of rancor from Trump’s critics and supporters alike — even given the country’s fiercely divided politics and how other lawyers in his orbit have fared. “I’ve been representing controversial clients for 30 years, and I’ve never experienced this type of vitriol,” said William J. Brennan, another local member of the team whose past clients include priests accused of sexual abuse and judges facing corruption charges. “We had no political agenda here. We are not partisan warriors. We are criminal defense lawyers who represented a client.” Bruce L. Castor Jr., the former Montgomery County commissioner and district attorney, entered the week as the nominal leader of Trump’s team — a high-profile job that had some back home wondering if it could bolster a future run for statewide office.

Instead, his rocky, rambling opening performance Tuesday drew his client’s ire and turned him into an internet punchline. Conservative TV hosts, like Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, called him “terrible.” Sean Hannity responded: “You’re way too charitable.” Everything from his verbose delivery to his pin-striped suit became targets for social media mockery. Some used his performance to question the aptness of the term Philadelphia lawyer — a phrase inspired by Colonial-era attorney Andrew Hamilton that has long characterized an exceptionally shrewd attorney. Van der Veen — the head of Castor’s law firm, who took over the defense presentation Friday after Castor was sidelined — fared little better.

He delivered a more combative, incendiary performance, attacking Democrats for “hypocrisy” and what he described as “constitutional cancel culture.” His style was reportedly more to his client’s liking. But his testy, hectoring demeanor at the lectern turned him into a target, too. On Saturday, a small group of protesters gathered outside his Center City law firm. They left “VAN DER VEEN = LIAR” scrawled in chalk on the street. On Facebook, the firm’s page turned into a toxic stew of invective. “Michael van der Veen is ranting on my television screen — the new shame of Philadelphia,” one commenter wrote, as another added: “This entire firm should be shut down and every single one of you should lose your license.”

 

 

MVDV: “What happened at the Capitol on January 6 is absolutely horrific. But what happened at the Capitol during this trial was not too far away from that.”

Read more …

Pelosi didn’t want to be called, so no-one was?!

Tweet: “The Democrats went for cover when they found out that the Defense was going to call DC Mayor and Pelosi to testify. What are they hiding?”

Statement on Senate Impeachment Acquittal of Trump (Nader/Fein)

Donald J. Trump has once again circumvented justice, but not because of a want of facts or law. His life preserver was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to refrain from calling critical witnesses possessing “smoking gun” incriminating evidence at Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial. Her plan to abandon an Ace of Spades for a Two of Clubs to prove Mr. Trump’s guilt was upset by Republican freshman Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Butler (Wash.) who gave the Democrats an opportunity to subpoenas witnesses to testify under oath to fortify the video evidence introduced during the House Managers’ case in chief.

Ms. Butler’s disclosing a conversation with House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) proving President Trump’s endorsement of his mob’s resort to lethal force and violence to unconstitutionally prevent a peaceful transfer of presidential power precipitated a surprise 55-45 Senate vote this morning, including several Republicans, to entertain live witnesses. Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin (Maryland) appeared on NPR shortly before the Senate reconvened from a recess at 12:30 pm. The Senator declared that the impeachment trial would be continued for two weeks; and, that the only issue remaining for resolution between the prosecution and defense (then in private negotiations) was whether five witnesses for each side would be named or left open for later identification in a Senate witness resolution.

Mr. Cardin was clueless of the Democratic capitulation, snaring defeat from the jaws of victory. The House Managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team agreed to a stipulation to admit into the record a mere written statement by Congresswoman Butler, not delivered in person under oath or via a deposition. Not a single witness would be called.

Read more …

Schwarzenegger redux.

Newsom Recall Effort Has Enough Signatures To Trigger Special Election (JTN)

The growing effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom has reportedly secured enough signatures to trigger a special election, potentially setting up the first gubernatorial recall in that state in nearly two decades. Organizers have obtained 1.5 million signatures, more than enough to mandate a special election, Fox News reported on Saturday. The number was allegedly hit earlier this week. The state secretary will have to process the signatures first to ensure they are valid.


Newsom has faced extended criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—particularly his shutdown orders, which have at times been among the strictest in the nation—as well as a disastrous PR blunder last year when he was spotted mask-less and at a crowded dinner table in an indoor restaurant. The last California recall election took place in 2003; in that instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger successfully won the election after voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

Read more …

“..the fragmentation of the American public into a multitude of angry factions, radicalized in different ways online and holding completely different baseline perceptions of reality.”

How To Understand The Rage Economy (IC)

The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 underlined a disturbing phenomenon that has become undeniable at this point: the fragmentation of the American public into a multitude of angry factions, radicalized in different ways online and holding completely different baseline perceptions of reality. The problem of deliberate misinformation undermining democracy has received lots of attention, but in many ways, the power of fantastic lies to grab people’s allegiance is also a byproduct of a deeper problem: extreme polarization driven by news media monetizing anger in order to survive.

This phenomenon is at the core of what media ecologist and author Andrey Mir in a new book calls “postjournalism.” Mir’s book, titled “Postjournalism and the Death of Newspapers,” is a sweeping look at how the news media evolved and shaped the world over hundreds of years, from newsletters for traders published in medieval Venice, Italy, to modern print newspapers, television, and finally the internet. For pretty much everyone, the news media is the major force that shapes how they perceive the world outside their direct experience. During an era when the main technology for producing and disseminating information changes, the world changes as well. For better or worse, we are living through one of those eras now.

The collective psychological impact of new technologies like social media has been written about in a wave of books over the past few years. Equally significant has been the underlying economic shift that has gradually transformed even traditional media outlets into something wholly different. Journalism traditionally relied on an advertising-based revenue model, and that economy also subtly incentivized a particular lens through which the world was depicted: an upbeat-as-possible, unifying worldview that made advertisers happy and promoted the needs of consumerism, even as it often overlooked or suppressed stories that fell outside its parameters.

When advertisers suddenly flocked to social media, the traditional economic model that underpinned the media and allowed even smaller papers to afford luxuries like foreign correspondents suddenly collapsed. Today established news outlets not only struggle to find advertisers after Facebook and Google swallowed up the market, but they must also compete with a seemingly infinite number of other websites, companies, and even individuals committing “acts of journalism” or just putting out entertainment, thus forcing them to battle for a finite slice of an attention economy that they cannot possibly corner.

The loss of the old advertising paradigm simply killed many local news outlets, which have shuttered at an incredible rate over the past decade. The surviving large organizations have sought desperately for a new model to support themselves. A lucky few have been able to rely on the patronage of philanthropists supporting journalism as a pure social good. But many others have been forced to do something not seen since the era of mass-produced penny tabloids: relying primarily on readers to support them through subscription and membership fees. As Mir argues, this change in the economic structure of the news media has quietly transformed what journalism itself is about, turning it from a theoretically neutral means of “manufacturing consent” into a political cause that people are rallied into supporting, usually by inciting them to some form of outrage.

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“It would prove a death sentence for thousands of seniors.”

Cuomo Didn’t Protect Seniors. But it Was the Media That Covered it Up (NW)

Things are not looking good for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. After receiving an Emmy “in recognition of his leadership” and writing a bestselling book called American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the toll Cuomo’s leadership has taken is finally emerging. On Thursday, the New York Post broke the story that Melissa DeRosa, one of the governor’s top aides, apologized to Democratic lawmakers for fudging the number of nursing home deaths from COVID for fear of being investigated.

Such an investigation was long overdue. One of the biggest scandals of the pandemic has been the number of nursing home deaths in New York City, many of them possibly linked to a March 25 directive from the Cuomo administration forcing nursing homes to take in people even if they had tested positive for COVID-19. It would prove a death sentence for thousands of seniors. And to fend off an investigation, the Cuomo administration underestimated the number of nursing home deaths by 40%. The true number was 15,000, not 9,056.

But this isn’t just a government scandal. It’s a media scandal. For while the Cuomo administration was sentencing seniors to death, the media was busy fawning over Cuomo in a series of softball interviews, many of them conducted by his own brother. Cuomo has been a television mainstay throughout the crisis, particularly on CNN where his brother, Chris Cuomo, is a host. But it wasn’t just his brother who fawned. A June interview with CNN’s Chris Cilizza provided Cuomo an opportunity to tout his performance while criticizing that of then-president Donald Trump and Republican governors who had not gone along with economy-crushing lockdowns. Cilizza was more than happy to assist.

“We tested both theories,” Cuomo told Cilizza. “We have the evidence. It’s numbers. It’s irrefutable. Why don’t we pause and recognize the undeniable reality of the situation?” “On the numbers, it’s hard to disagree,” Cilizza dutifully wrote. “On April 9, New York had almost 10,000 coronavirus cases in a single day, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, it had just 673 cases statewide.” There would be no follow-up article when New York would hit over 14,000 cases in January. No review of what went wrong in Cuomo’s “undeniable reality.” No comparison to states that found a different “undeniable reality of the situation” and have objectively handled the COVID crisis better.

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What does the WHO hold back?

Patent For Secret Bat Cages At Wuhan Lab (DM)

The Chinese laboratory at the centre of suspicion over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic was awarded a patent for cages to hold live bats for testing just months before the virus started spreading. The revelation comes after the World Health Organisation last week backed Beijing’s line, saying that a leak from the institute was ‘highly unlikely’, while giving credence to theories that the virus had entered the country via frozen meat. The team included Peter Daszak, a British-born zoologist whose organisation EcoHealth Alliance has studied bat-borne viruses with Wuhan lab scientists for 15 years, and who has categorically denied that researchers keep the mammals for testing.

However, The Mail on Sunday has established that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) filed an application in June 2018 to patent ‘bat rearing cages’ which would be ‘capable of healthy growth and breeding under artificial conditions’. The patent, which has been seen by this newspaper, was granted in January 2019 – 11 months before Beijing reported that the first cases of the virus in the city had broken out just a few miles from the institute. A separate patent, filed by the institute on October 16, 2020, relates to the ‘artificial breeding method of wild bat’. The patent discusses cross- species transmission of SARS- CoV from bat to humans and other animals, saying: ‘Bats infected with the virus naturally or artificially have no obvious clinical symptoms, and the mechanism is unknown’.

It explicitly states that the method is for breeding bats for scientific experiments: ‘The invention aims to provide an artificial breeding method of wild bat predators, which aims at overcoming the defects in the prior art, and the wild bat predators are artificially domesticated, bred and passaged to establish an artificial breeding group, thereby providing a brand-new model experimental animal for scientific research.’ Responding to a question over whether researchers were keeping live bats, Mr Daszak tweeted in April last year: ‘The researchers don’t keep the bats, nor do they kill them. ‘All bats are released back to their cave site after sampling. It’s a conservation measure and is much safer in terms of disease spread than killing them or trying to keep them in a lab.’

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6 months to liquidate your assets.

India Finally Bans Cryptocurrencies (BTCPeers)

India has become the second country to outrightly ban Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This is coming after the Central Bank of Nigeria instructed all financial institutions in the country to block the accounts of all individuals and entities linked to cryptocurrency transactions. There has been a lot of drama surrounding India’s cryptocurrency stance. In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India issued a ban on all cryptocurrency transactions. The ban was lifted by the country’s Supreme Court in March 2020. In December 2020, government officials hinted that they were considering taxing Bitcoin transactions by up to 18%. Barely a month later and there were rumors that the country was mulling over banning all private cryptocurrencies.


Apparently, officials were serious about banning cryptocurrencies. Citing an unnamed senior finance ministry official, BloombergQuint disclosed the government’s move. However, according to the official, the ban would not be imposed overnight, as in the case of Nigeria. Instead, investors would be given three to six months to liquidate their investments. As per the report, India’s Parliament will proceed to introduce a law that bans the usage of cryptocurrencies in all forms, including restricting trading via foreign exchanges. On the flip side of India’s ban is Kenya, an East-African country that has proposed to make Bitcoin its base currency.

Read more …

BAU

State Clears First Three Foreign Military Sales Of Biden Administration

The Biden administration has approved three Foreign Military Sales requests for Jordan, Chile and a NATO agency, with a combined potential price tag of more than $200 million.] The approvals mark the first FMS cases moved since President Joe Biden took office. The last FMS cases approved by the State Department came in late December; the Biden team has since announced a pause and review of a number of weapon sales approved by the Trump administration, most notably on weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The three approvals were announced on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. DSCA announcements mean that the State Department has decided the potential FMS cases meet its standards, but this does not guarantee the sales will happen in their announced forms.

If the U.S. Congress does not object, the foreign customer begins to negotiate on price and quantity, both of which can change during the final negotiations. Jordan was approved for an F-16 Air Combat Training Center and related equipment, with an estimated cost of $60 million. That package would include “mission trainers, combat tactics trainers, instructor/operator stations, tactical environment simulators, brief/debrief stations, scenario generation stations, database generation stations, mission observation centers, and other training center equipment and support,” per the DSCA notice. The center would “enhance” Jordan’s pilot training for their fleet of F-16s, the oldest of which entered service in 1997. Work will primarily be done at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary & Mission Systems center in Orlando, Fla.

Chile was approved to purchase up to 16 Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA missiles, along with support equipment and contractor assistance, with an estimate price tag of $85 million. The anti-air weapons are slated to be used aboard two recently transferred former Adelaide-class frigates to the Chilean Navy. Work would be preformed by Raytheon Missiles and Defense in Tucson, Ariz. The NATO alliance’s Communications and Information Agency to buy 517 AN/PRC-158 Manpack UHF SATCOM radio systems, worth an estimated $65 million. Also included in the package would be “crypto fill devices, man-portable ancillaries, vehicular ancillaries, deployed Headquarter ancillaries, power support, and operator and maintenance training,” per the DSCA notice.

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“The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.”

Why Russia Is Driving The West Crazy (Escobar)

Future historians may register it as the day when usually unflappable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decided he had had enough: “We are getting used to the fact that the European Union is trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner”. Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on an official visit to Moscow, had to take it on the chin. Lavrov, always the perfect gentleman, added, “I hope that the strategic review that will take place soon will focus on the key interests of the European Union and that these talks will help to make our contacts more constructive.” He was referring to the EU summit of heads of state and government at the European Council next month, where they will discuss Russia.

Lavrov harbors no illusions the “unreliable partners” will behave like adults. Yet something immensely intriguing can be found in Lavrov’s opening remarks in his meeting with Borrell: “The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.” The two largest players in the Eurasian space. Let that sink in. We’ll be back to it in a moment. As it stands, the EU seems irretrievably addicted to worsening the “unhealthy situation”. European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen memorably botched the Brussels vaccine game. Essentially, she sent Borrell to Moscow to ask for licensing rights for European firms to produce the Sputnik V vaccine – which will soon be approved by the EU.

And yet Eurocrats prefer to dabble in hysteria, promoting the antics of NATO asset and convicted fraudster Navalny – the Russian Guaido. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, under the cover of “strategic deterrence”, the head of the US STRATCOM, Admiral Charles Richard, casually let it slip that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.” So the blame for the next – and final – war is already apportioned to the “destabilizing” behavior of Russia and China. It’s assumed they will be “losing” – and then, in a fit of rage, will go nuclear. The Pentagon will be no more than a victim; after all, claims Mr. STRATCOM, we are not “stuck in the Cold War”.

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RFK, Jr.

Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms (Edward Curtin)

With the rise of alternate media and a wide array of dissenting voices on the internet, the establishment felt threatened and went on the defensive. It, therefore, should come as no surprise that those same elite corporate media are now leading the charge for increased censorship and the denial of free speech to those they deem dangerous, whether that involves wars, rigged elections, foreign coups, COVID-19, vaccinations, or the lies of the corporate media themselves. Having already banned critics from writing in their pages and or talking on their screens, these media giants want to make the quieting of dissenting voices complete. Just the other day The New York Times had this headline: “Robert Kennedy Jr. Barred From Instagram Over False Virus Claims.” Notice the lack of the word alleged before “false virus claims.” This is guilt by headline.

It is a perfect piece of propaganda posing as reporting, since it accuses Kennedy, a brilliant and honorable man, of falsity and stupidity, thus justifying Instagram’s ban, and it is an inducement to further censorship of Mr. Kennedy by Facebook, Instagram’s parent company. That ban should follow soon, as the Times’ reporter Jennifer Jett hopes, since she accusingly writes that RFK, Jr. “makes many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers” at Facebook. Jett made sure her report also went to msn.com and The Boston Globe. This is one example of the censorship underway with much, much more to follow. What was once done under the cover of omission is now done openly and brazenly, cheered on by those who, in an act of bad faith, claim to be upholders of the First Amendment and the importance of free debate in a democracy.

We are quickly slipping into an unreal totalitarian social order. Which brings me to the recent work of Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, both of whom have strongly and rightly decried this censorship. As I understand their arguments, they go like this. First, the corporate media have today divided up the territory and speak only to their own audiences in echo chambers: liberal to liberals (read: the “allegedly” liberal Democratic Party), such as The New York Times, NBC, etc., and conservative to conservatives (read” the “allegedly” conservative Donald Trump), such as Fox News, Breitbart, etc. They have abandoned old school journalism that, despite its shortcomings, involved objectivity and the reporting of disparate facts and perspectives, but within limits.

Since the digitization of news, their new business models are geared to these separate audiences since they are highly lucrative choices. It’s business-driven since electronic media have replaced paper as advertising revenues have shifted and people’s ability to focus on complicated issues has diminished drastically. Old school journalism is suffering as a result and thus writers such as Greenwald and Taibbi and Chris Hedges have taken their work to the internet to escape such restrictive categories and the accompanying censorship.

Secondly, the great call for censorship is not something the Silicon Valley companies want because they want more people using their media since it means more money for them, but they are being pressured to do it by the traditional old school media, such as The New York Times, who now employ “tattletales and censors,” people who are power-hungry jerks, to sniff out dissenting voices that they can recommend should be banned. Greenwald says, They do it in part for power: to ensure nobody but they can control the flow of information. They do it partly for ideology and out of hubris: the belief that their worldview is so indisputably right that all dissent is inherently dangerous ‘disinformation.’”

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 092021
 
 January 9, 2021  Posted by at 4:32 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  30 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Blue Trees (Your Turn Will Come, My Beauty!) 1888

 

 

You would think that if there’s one group of people who’d recognize a coup if they saw one, it would be the American people. Because their intelligence services have been involved in almost all coups in the world for many decades; let’s say since WWII, to keep it simple.

Just in the most recent past, they staged and conducted coups in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela and many other places (think Bolivia). Libya was the only real “successful” one, thanks to Gaddafi being sodomized with a bayonet, leading to Hillary’s giddy We Came, We Saw, He Died, the by far ugliest face of the US by a mile. That and the open-air slave markets that resulted from sodomizing to death the man who led Africa’s wealthiest country and gave his people benefits that Americans can only dream of.

And now Hillary’s crew are about to be handed the reins again. Or as Michael Tracey put it”: The new corporate authoritarian liberal-left monoculture is going to be absolutely ruthless – and in 12 days it is merging with the state. This [is] only the beginning. Duck for cover.

The screwed-up coups in Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela etc. would appear to signal that the CIA is not very adept (anymore?!) at organizing coups, or maybe they just chronically overestimate their skills at it. Whichever way it may be, they have done more damage to America and its standing in the world than Donald Trump could ever have dreamt of doing.

So you would think Americans would recognize a coup, but instead they’re the last group of people on the planet who would. Because their media doesn’t present them as coups. They’re labeled as spreading democracy, freedom etc., as standing up against the bad guys, and liberating innocent people -even if many of them die in the process. People dying is a feature of these coups, not a bug. People get shot, bombed, disappeared, in a word: killed.

 

Anyway, it’s way more and better than ironic that all these very deadly CIA-led operations are not labeled coups, but then the clowns and actors spectacle that took place in Washington DC this week, is. Which is possible only because they never told people what a coup actually is. Only then can you make them believe that some wanker in a furry viking helmet outfit is trying to overthrow the government. At the initiative of the democratically elected president, no less.

Are these people extremists and terrorists or are they clowns and actors? I would lean towards the latter option. A coup requires a plan, a playbook, most often elites who think they have a shot at taking over a country, which in turn requires support from at least part of an army. The best these folks could think of was sitting in Pelosi’s office and take selfies.

 

 

That doesn’t make the march on the Capitol a good thing, far from it, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t like the way the president they elected in 2016 has been treated by the MSM, his political opponents, and US intelligence. And after the theater that has been Russiagate, the Mueller debacle and the Zelensky call-based impeachment, maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising.

The main problem for Trump lately would appear to have been his legal representation. I’ve said all along: let the dice roll where they may, there are many questions surrounding the election and they have the right to go looking for answers to these questions.

But if you look at what the status is today of what the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Lin Wood have come up with, you think they might as well have been working for the other side. Still, we’ve at least seen the dice roll, and they came up they way they did. The process was allowed to proceed, and this is the outcome. This has misled Trump as well as his followers. They thought there was something substantial -and tanglible- there, because that’s what they were told all along.

This doesn’t mean the US should continue using voting machines, however. There are many countries that hold elections, and there are very few that either use those machines and/or see their elections contested. There’s a reason for that combination. These things can be manipulated, and they will be if they’re used. Get rid of them or this chapter will be repeated endlessly.

 

Then again, it all plays out well for anyone but Trump. And perhaps a few GOP’ers who stood by him. You could say, Trump entered the swamp and drowned in it, it swallowed him whole. Which is not to say that he’s such a perfect character, hell no, but he was the one and only chance to get rid of the power cabal that is DC. Which is a much bigger danger than he could ever be.

Where career politicians like Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell and Joe Biden can reside for decades, and be handed ever more handsome amounts of money by the lobbyists who write their laws, which benefit the corporations they work for. Trump was the chance to do at least something about this. They ate him alive.

Now the story is that Trump is/was the main danger, and that he was attempting a coup against his own government. To finish off the job, after being hunted down by the MSM for 4+ years, social media, for whom unceremoniously dumping Trump, after he was their main attraction for years -at least for clickbait-, was just a business decision dressed in some vague set of moral principles, are now simply deleting him.

And people cheer that. They don’t understand that from now on, as US president you serve at the behest, grace and kindness of the CIA, New York Times and WaPo, but even more that of @jack and Zuckerberg, and not that of the American people. As the noise about an attempted coup allows Team Biden to slip in Sally Yates, Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland and their whole gang of neocon warmongers.

The entire media focus on Trump served to hide what those people were doing behind the scenes all along. And now it’s time to duck for cover. They’re going to try and impeach him again, and then prosecute him, and erase everything he’s done, cheered on by the same media who never told you what a coup actually is. Because they are a big club, and he’s not in it, and neither are you.

And if you think you can vent an opinion on social media in the future that doesn’t coincide with that of the big club, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention.

 

 

 

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Thank you for your support.

 

 

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

 

Oct 202020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1965

 

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)
The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)
DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)
MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)
Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)
American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)
The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)
Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)
The Politics of Restraint (RCW)
DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)
“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

 

 

Scott Adams

 

 

The damage these people are doing to their country is no longer measurable.

If it was the Russians, Biden could simply deny this is true. He hasn’t.

“Former intel officials sharing their “belief” that factual, embarrassing info about a Democrat candidate — which that candidate does not even deny — is all Russia’s fault has all the classic earmarks of a Russiagate disinformation operation.”


“They say they “want to emphasize…that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement” but that are “just…deeply suspicious” that Russia played a “significant role in this case.”

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.

While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.” Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering.”

The former Trump administration officials who signed the letter include Russ Travers, who served as National Counterterrorism Center acting director; Glenn Gerstell, the former NSA general counsel; Rick Ledgett, the former deputy NSA director; Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer; and Cynthia Strand, who served as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for global issues. Former CIA directors or acting directors Brennan, Leon Panetta, Gen. Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin and Michael Morell also signed the letter, along with more than three dozen other intelligence veterans. Several of the former officials on the list have endorsed Biden. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Monday that the information on Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” though the FBI is reportedly conducting an ongoing investigation into whether Russia was involved.

[..] “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the letter reads. But, it continues, “there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement.” “Such an operation would be consistent with Russian objectives, as outlined publicly and recently by the Intelligence Community, to create political chaos in the United States and to deepen political divisions here but also to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and thereby help the candidacy of President Trump,” the letter reads.

Trump calls media criminal for not reporting on Joe Biden

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Excellent takedown.

The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)

An inhabitant of Twitterland named “Willow Inski” took to the keyboard on Oct. 11, asking why anyone still accepts official accounts of the crucial theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in the spring of 2016.

Excellently observed, Willow. And at just the right moment. At this point we are amid a frenzy of what Hannah Arendt called “defactualization” in a 1971 essay she titled “Lying in Politics.” Facts are fragile, Arendt astutely observed, because they can so easily be manipulated to produce a desired image. “It is this fragility,” she wrote, “that makes deception so very easy up to a point, and so tempting.”The latest example of this phenom concerns the emails of Hunter Biden, candidate Joe’s errant son, which persuasively incriminate both in very profitable influence-peddling schemes when Papa was Barack Obama’s veep. Nobody denies the facts as published last week in The New York Post, not even Biden père et fils, but the facts are once again mutilated with assertions that it is another case of the Rrrrrrussians spreading disinformation.

This is what we get after four years of the Russia collusion b.s., otherwise known as Russiagate. Anything goes if implicating Russia solves a political problem for the Democrats and keeps the war machine going for the Pentagon and the national security state. It defers the moment — at some point it will come — when the press is exposed for its radically stupid overinvestment in the Russiagate nonsense. The price America has already begun to pay is very high. Willow’s expression of perplexity comes after an especially lively season of revelations as regards what must count as the largest disinformation op in U.S. history. It is now six months since the Russiagate hoax — and I am fine with President Donald Trump’s term for it — began its final crash into a pile of piffle.

While it remains to be seen whether more evidence of political chicanery is coming, what evidence we already have is more than sufficient to identify Russiagate as the probable criminal fraud it was from the start. I am refreshed that Willow Inski, who describes herself as an “attorney, wife, mother, proud American,” sees through this extravagant ruse. And yet, as she notes, a lot of people don’t. A lot of people are “still taking at face value” all the misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies our newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters have purveyed incessantly for the past four years.

Why is a very large question. All possible answers are disturbing. But here is another big one we get to before that: When we consider together all its many consequences, has Russiagate destroyed what remained of American democracy before illiberal liberals, spooks, law enforcement, and the press colluded to erect the dreadful edifice? Your columnist’s answer rests on the most scrupulously precise definition of Russiagate one can manage: What we have witnessed these past four years is an attempted palace coup against a sitting president. Cold comfort it is that the gang that couldn’t shoot straight bungled the job. It has also created a Democratic default position: When wrongdoing by Democrats is credibly exposed, automatically blame Russia. Among much else, that has led to unnecessary tension with a nuclear power. This damage will long stay with us.

[..] In 1787, when he was our new nation’s minister in Paris, Jefferson wrote home to a friend that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” We are stuck with a government without newspapers now, given the ties our press has consolidated its ties with political and bureaucratic power in the course of imposing the Russiagate ruse upon us. They only look like newspapers now.


Joe Biden, foreground, and son Hunter during inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. (acaben, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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Ratcliffe calls Schiff a liar.

DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)

Recently, we discussed how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff stated publicly that the recently disclosed laptop information from Hunter Biden was clearly part of a Russian intelligence operation. This morning, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, stated categorically that Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. What is most notable is that Ratcliffe has stated that Schiff and his Committee were given that conclusion by the intelligence community. The incident has raised lingering criticism of Schiff who previously told the public that he had clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after that allegation was rejected in repeated investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Schiff never produced the incriminating evidence and later it was shown that the widely cited Steele dossier was based on a source who was considered to be a Russian agent. There is ample reason to suspicious about the timing of this disclosure. However, I have written that this serious concern is separate from the question of whether the emails are fabricated. The Biden campaign has not given the most obvious responses to such a scandal. It is important to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were actually hacked by Russian intelligence but the underlying emails were true. Schiff now finds himself, again, in the position of supporting a claim of evidence of Russian collusion. He will have to show that this laptop discovery was engineered by Russian intelligence. If the owner is speaking the truth, the computer was dropped off in April 2019 with the intent to be used in the 2020 campaign.

Ratcliffe stated in an interview that “it’s funny that some of the people that complained the most about intelligence being politicized are the ones politicizing intelligence and unfortunately in this case, it is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who as you pointed out on Friday said that the intelligence community believes that Hunter Biden’s laptop and e-mails on it are part of some Russian disinformation campaign. Let me be clear, the intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports and we shared no intelligence with chairman Schiff or any other member of Congress that Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign. It’s simply not true.”

Ratcliffe accused Schiff of politicizing intelligence and stated “Don’t drag the intelligence community into this. Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign and I think it’s clear the American people know that.” Schiff should explain the basis for his conclusion that this is part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Someone is clearly misrepresenting the intelligence and the public should know the basis for these irreconcilable statements.

Trump dumb bastards

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Streisand.

MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)

Twitter’s crackdown on a controversial New York Post story that “purported to show new emails from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings while Joe Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration,” “nearly doubled” the story’s visibility and triggered the so-called “Streisand Effect,” amplifying the Post’s claims, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a high-profile media intelligence firm. “When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign,” MIT’s Technology Review reported Monday.

“But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.” In fact, Twitter’s efforts triggered a massive spike in interest in the story. “According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article ‘nearly doubled’ after Twitter started suppressing it,” MIT noted. The incident was a real-time example of what Zignal Lab’s calls the “Streisand Effect” — a “social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet,” according to Wikipedia. The name comes from singer Barbra Streisand’s efforts, in 2003, to suppress a photo of her Malibu, California, residence over security concerns.

According to Zignal Labs, the effect was immediate and significant. “Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn’t necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship,” MIT noted Monday. “The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform,” they added.

Dobbs, Powell, Fitton, Solomon

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How you get your information.

Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)

Allegations of corruption against ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter have apparently been “debunked” and are merely a “conspiracy theory” according to Wikipedia, where editors are battling over the terms.
Hunter Biden was the subject of an explosive report last week as the New York Post published emails alleging that he involved his father in dodgy business dealings in Ukraine and China. While the story is still unfolding, the Wikipedia page for Hunter Biden simply states that “he and his father have been the subjects of debunked right-wing conspiracy theories pushed by [President] Donald Trump and his allies.” The curious framing was highlighted by conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong on Twitter on Tuesday.

Eight sources are listed for this one sentence, intending to support the view that any accusations of corruption against the Democratic presidential candidate and his son have already been proven false. In recent days, Wikipedia editors have been engaged in regular spats about the inclusion of the word “debunked.” The eighth source was added on Sunday by a frequent contributor to Biden’s son’s page, whose username is ‘Soibangla’. A regular editor of American political topics on Wikipedia, Soibangla was previously found tweaking pedophile sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s page, specifically to note that there is “no evidence” that he and former President Bill Clinton were “friends” – despite the ex-commander-in-chief traveling on the disgraced financier’s plane 26 times, according to flight logs.

Curiously, the same Soibangla is one of the top authors on a new Wikipedia page titled, ‘Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory’. The page was created on October 15, the day after the Post published Hunter’s alleged email history. The article calls the controversy “a series of false allegations” and references an almost identical list of eight sources to back it up. A war over Hunter Biden’s page has been raging since December 2019, when the word ‘debunked’ was initially added in reference to the scandal involving the former VP’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who said he was investigating the Burisma gas company where Hunter sat on the board.

It kicked off again on September 30, when user ‘Php2000’ removed ‘debunked’, noting that “Sources state [Hunter Biden] was making 50,000 USD a month as a board member in Ukraine gas company. Hardly ‘debunked.’” Just two minutes later, according to the website’s timeline, editor ‘Billmckern’ reverted the change, adding, “it’s been debunked and we have consensus language here.” Php2000 once again deleted the word, explaining that Hunter Biden making a lot of money in Ukraine was a well-documented fact. “What exactly has been debunked?” they asked. “Read the references,” wrote Billmckern a mere four minutes later, once again restoring the controversial phrasing.

Veritas Big Tech

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“..trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday..”

American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)

Now we know why Nancy Pelosi has been running around in a fright mask with her hair on fire, and it’s not just a ghoulish anticipation of Halloween. Her Democratic Party is in extremis. It is shot through with the cancer of falsehood and the wormholes of crime, acquired through decades of playing fast and loose with the machinery of government. Nancy has been informed and she remains stuck in the rage stage of the grief cycle. Somebody sent her a copy of that hard-drive. The thing she feared would not end well is actually turning out worse than she thought. I have a theory about Joe Biden: He didn’t want to run for president. Not one eensy-weensy bit.

He wanted a nice, quiet retirement with his fat government pension plus sundry millions that had somehow found its way into his bank account over the years. He had a fabulous $16-million gentleman’s estate to gambol upon with his beloved grandchildren. The developing brain-fog was actually a comfort, allowing him to forget the rigors of public service and all the tedious gathering of… honoraria, shall we say. But then they came for him…! The Party called. Rather specifically, his old Kemosabe, Barack Obama, called him in for that ominous sit-down and gave him the bad news: Joe, you’ve gotta run. Bernie, Liz, and the rest of those bozos, they won’t keep a lid on it. You’re in this thing as deep as we are and it’s getting a little hairy. You’ve got to do it for the sake of the party, and all our… friends….

And so, Joe Biden was shanghaied into running for president. He was given a bodyguard of news media, including those crucial new additions, the social media, Twitter and Facebook, where, increasingly, information was hubbed for transmission among the voters. They would protect him infallibly from any damaging narratives. In fact, they would generate powerful counter-narratives to keep their adversaries off-balance. If Joe could just roll with it until November 3rd, they could lay all their… problems… to rest, bury all that annoying insinuendo about the hobgoblin Deep State (ha!), and finally breathe easy.

And so, trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday — apparently due to the single, magical endorsement of one congressman James Clyburn (SC, 6th District), a narrative that was swallowed like a May River oyster by the credulous all over the land. And thus anointed, Joe retreated to his fabled basement for the whole election season, venturing intermittently into empty parking lots and airplane hangars to offer proof-of-life while a polling disinfo campaign by his media bodyguard vouchsafed his inevitable victory. Looked like a sure thing in September… pack up all my cares and woe… and so forth….

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The pic is on Wisconsin only.

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)

Much of Trafalgar’s approach focuses on accounting for the so-called social-desirability bias. As Cahaly puts it, that’s when a respondent gives you “an answer that is designed to make the person asking the question be less judgmental of the person who answers it.” Cahaly notes that this phenomenon showed up as long ago as the 1980s, in the so-called Bradley effect, when the African-American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, underperformed his polling in a gubernatorial race. It has been a hallmark of the Trump era and is one reason other pollsters missed the impending victory of Ron DeSantis over Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race. “I’ve got to get past what you want to say in public and get to what you really feel,” Cahaly says. “Because what’s in your heart is going to be what’s on that ballot.”

There are a number of methodological differences in how Trafalgar goes about its work. One is the number of questions on its surveys. “I don’t believe in long questionnaires,” Cahaly says. “I think when you’re calling up Mom or Dad on a school night, and they’re trying to get the kids dinner and get them to bed, and that phone rings at seven o’clock — and they’re supposed to stop what they’re doing and take a 25- to 30-question poll? No way.” Why does that matter? “You end up disproportionately representing the people who will like to talk about politics, which is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored, “Cahaly explains. “And the kind of people that win elections are the people in the middle. So I think they miss people in the middle when they do things that way.”

According to Cahaly, most polls are more than 25 questions. He keeps it between seven and nine, so respondents can answer in a matter of minutes. Then there is how the questions are asked. “We do not like to do all live calls,” Cahaly says. This goes back to the social-desirability bias. People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.” So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding.

“We use collection methods of live calls, auto calls, texts, emails, and a couple that we call our proprietary digital technology that we don’t explain, but it’s also digital,” Cahaly says. The point, he continues, is to “really push the anonymous part — this is your anonymous say-so.” Another factor, is that “conservatives are less likely to participate in polls in general,” he says. “We see a five-to-one refusal rate among conservatives.” That means “you’ve got to work very hard to get a fair representation of conservatives, when you do any kind of a survey.”

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So Joe can read his teleprompter and listen to his wires in peace.

Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)

In yet another transparent effort to support Joe Biden, the presidential debate commission has announced they will mute microphones during the two minute answer sessions as part of a strategy to assist the promotion of disinformation. (Via New York Post) “The Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to mute microphones to allow each candidate the opportunity for uninterrupted remarks during this week’s final forum. The mute button will be featured at the start of each 15-minute segment during opening comments, according to the commission. After that time, both mics will be turned on without a mute option to enable debate.” The Trump campaign responds:

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Feels like wishful thinking.

The Politics of Restraint (RCW)

During this election season, there is much discussion around the increasing polarization of the American electorate. While these conversations can seem overwrought, there is clear data showing an increasing divide on issues like race relations and the economy. However, on foreign policy, the American people are more united. There is an increasingly shared belief across party lines that the United States needs to end its endless wars and adventurism abroad. Based on a bevy of recent polls and research, American voters will likely reward candidates who support foreign policy restraint, while punishing those who advocate for the maintenance of a failed status quo.

For most of the post-9/11 era, the conventional wisdom reinforced by the political pundits and the consultant class was that foreign policy hawkishness was a political strength. Even politicians such as President Barack Obama, who owed part of his political success to opposing the Iraq War, still felt the need to show hawkishness regarding other military conflicts. The perceived political incentives contributed to Obama ignoring the lessons of the Iraq War and initiating the disastrous intervention in Libya in 2011, along with the failed surge of American forces in Afghanistan from 2009-2012. A lack of significant political accountability by Republicans — who only seemed to try to “out-hawk” Obama — in the 2012 election for these failures reinforced the notion that support for primacy abroad was the politically safe position.

That conventional wisdom reigned into the early days of the 2016 election, but was shattered by two candidates, one during each major party’s primaries. In the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders gave the presumptive nominee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an unexpectedly strong challenge. Sanders has been a consistent critic of American foreign policy in the Middle East, while Clinton supported the Iraq War and the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. While Sanders did not make foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign in 2016, his record on those issues further strengthened his appeal with the progressive left, which is traditionally wary of military intervention.

More so than Sanders, Donald Trump completely upended the conventional wisdom around what a candidate needed to say on foreign policy to win. During the 2016 Republican primary, Trump frequently and aggressively criticized America’s wars in the Middle East. During a primary debate in South Carolina, Trump excoriated former President George W. Bush for invading Iraq, and for his administration’s lies about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Prominent Republican pundits criticized Trump’s remarks and claimed that his comments would hurt his chances in South Carolina, a state heavily populated by military service members and veterans who were thought to be more hawkish.

Yet Trump easily won the South Carolina primary and the Republican nomination. During the general election, while by no means portraying himself as a dove, Trump would continue his criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while tying Clinton to America’s broader failures in the Middle East. This messaging likely played a key role in Trump’s 2016 general election victory. According to research conducted by two political scientists following the 2016 election, Trump’s perception as the less interventionist candidate among voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin likely drove his victory in those critical states.

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They’ll win either way.

DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)

DC lobbyists are licking their chops at the prospect of a Biden win in November, as a flood of new regulations means they’ll have their work cut out for them. “There is a huge amount of planning going on in our client base for what this could look like,” according to Holland & Knight LLP lobbyist, Rich Gold. “It’s highly likely the first six months of 2021 are some of the biggest legislative months I will have in my career in terms of things moving.” Gold represents the American Chemistry Council, education technology provider Zovio, Inc., agriculture giant Corteva and several local governments. According to Bloomberg, K Street lobbyists began planning for major changes when polling began to show former Vice President Biden leading President Trump, as well as the possibility that Democrats would regain control of the Senate.

“Not since 2008, when President George W. Bush was leaving the White House, have lobbyists planned for the possibility of so sweeping a change in Washington’s corridors of power,” writes Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy and Ben Brody. “The presidential race remains tight in key states and the firms remain vigilant for another Trump victory like the one that caught many by surprise in 2016. But they are hedging their bets and increasingly planning around Biden’s polling lead. One firm is developing dossiers on potential appointees, selling them to clients under the maxim “people are policy.” Another has created flow charts outlining possible committee leadership changes on Capitol Hill. And at least one group has established a war room to brainstorm strategies for countering policy proposals. -Bloomberg

One oil lobbyist told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity that the election would be a “rack-and-stack” exercise when it comes to the multitude of actions the Biden administration could undertake, while a Democratic sweep of the Senate has caused many lobbyists to begin cultivating relationships with moderate Democrats, including Jon Tester of Montana, Kyrsten Sinema of Zrizona, and Joe Machin of West Virginia.

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Headline was about hospitals running out of beds, but the numbers cast doubt on that. The headline I gave is from the mayor of Manchester.

“It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year..” “.. the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.”

“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)

Stalemate seems to remain in negotiations about tougher restrictions for Greater Manchester, as hospitals in the region run low on beds to treat coronavirus patients. [..] data from the Greater Manchester Critical Care Network (GMCCN) suggested some of the region’s 12 hospitals were running out of space on Friday. It also showed the Royal Bolton Hospital was running at 94% capacity .The figures show hospitals across Greater Manchester are operating at an average of 82% capacity. The NHS said in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation with our hospital admissions, overall beds and ITU beds very, very closely.


The figures showed the Stepping Hill Hospital and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust were operating at full capacity.”It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year and our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, both for COVID and for other reasons.” A source at the GMCCN told Sky News the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.

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Will they still label her a “socialite” after reading this, or will she get a new label?

Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

A federal appeals court Monday ordered the unsealing of a deposition related to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex life — after the defense fought tooth and nail to keep it secret. A three-judge panel from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the brief, two-page ruling after hearing arguments on the matter last week. “We cannot conclude that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the panel wrote. It’s unclear when the documents will be released. The seven-hour, 418-page deposition is from testimony Maxwell gave in April 2016 in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. In the interview, Maxwell made statements about “consensual, and intimate conduct with other adults,” according to court papers. US District Judge Loretta Preska, who is overseeing the litigation over the release of the materials, had ordered the documents unsealed in July, but Maxwell’s lawyers had appealed the decision.

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Ted Cruz

 

 

 

 

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Oct 072020
 
 October 7, 2020  Posted by at 9:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman 1475-80

 

President Trump Reauthorizes Declassification of all Documents (sundance)
There are Trillions at Stake (sundance)
Declassified CIA Docs Show Alleged Clinton Plan To Link Trump To Russia (DC)
Spy Chief Releases Docs On Claim Hillary Clinton Cooked Up Russia Scandal (NYP)
CIA Director Gina Haspel and the British Role in the Anti-Trump Plot (Farrell)
Grand Jury Indicts St. Louis Couple Who Defended Home Amid Demonstrations (JTN)
Jay Powell Wants More Help From Congress: Low Risk Of ‘Overdoing It’ (CNBC)
Unfavorable Views of China Reach Historic Highs in Many Countries (Pew)
Court To Rule On UK Freedom Of Information Bids From Overseas (G.)
The Unprecedented And Illegal Campaign To Eliminate Julian Assange (Glass)
Top US Food Bank Warns Of Nationwide “Meal Shortages” In Next 12 Months (ZH)
Media Criticizes Trump For Downplaying Virus Threat By Not Dying (BBee)

 

 

Trump disavows

 

 

Trump declassification

 

 

Lawyer “sundance” explains that we’ve been here before, and nothing happened. We’re still where we were in May 2019.

Interesting that he includes Julian Assange. I did say a few weeks ago that Assange may need the right-wing press. And they need him.

President Trump Reauthorizes Declassification of all Documents (sundance)

President Donald Trump has transmitted an epic tweet-storm seemingly targeted toward all officials within the executive branch; and the intelligence apparatus writ large:

One important note of caution: there is a big difference between “authorized” and “ordered”. On May 23rd, 2019, President Trump authorized AG Bill Barr to declassify all documents and despite much optimism nothing happened {Go DEEP}. However, President Trump references that lack of inaction in the next series of tweets:

Presumably “people” who “acted very slowly” would pertain to AG Bill Barr, FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, State Dept Secretary Mike Pompeo and former ODNI Dan Coats. President Trump asks those agencies now to “Act!!!” President Trump also expressed the same frustration many of us feel about how these agencies and institutions have operated only to protect their own interests. He even re-tweeted the meme of Bill Barr to drive home the point. [..] Whether anything comes of this latest, seemingly stronger, emphasis and request from President trump is an unknown. However, again, this is an authorization for release of documents and not a direct order.


There are likely legal reasons for this approach, and no doubt there are advisors around the office of the president who would want him to take a more cautious approach. Several people are pointing toward an announcement of a press conference by the DOJ tomorrow and attempting to connect the tweet-storm to the presser. However, my gut tells me they are two distinctly different topics; but we can keep our fingers crossed. We will know if the two events are connected less than 12 hours from now. Interestingly, albeit likely unrelated, the specific participants in the presser hold offices that are directly connected to the previous 2019 indictment of Julian Assange.

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Also “sundance”, with an excellent review of how Washington operates.

There are Trillions at Stake (sundance)

With 30-days left before the election perhaps it’s worthwhile remembering what all of this opposition is about… Something 99% of American voters do not quite understand. Congress doesn’t actually write legislation. The last item of legislation written by congress was sometime around the mid 1990’s. Modern legislation is sub-contracted to a segment of DC operations known as K-Street. That’s where the lobbyists reside. Lobbyists write the laws; congress sells the laws; lobbyists then pay congress lucrative commissions for passing their laws. That’s the modern legislative business in DC. When we talk about paying-off politicians in third-world countries we call it bribery. However, when we undertake the same process in the U.S. we call it “lobbying”.

CTH often describes the system with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” The process of creating legislation is behind that phrase. DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame most voter’s reference points. With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; perhaps it is valuable to provide clarity. Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.

In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen. Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Outside groups, often called “special interest groups”, are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs. These groups are often representing foreign governments, Wall Street multinational corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their affiliation.

Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists, climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need. The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their ‘business‘ is getting legislation for their unique interests. These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs. In the modern era this is actually the origination of the laws that we eventually see passed by congress. Within the walls of these buildings within Washington DC is where the ‘sausage’ is actually made. Again, no elected official is usually part of this law origination process.

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I’ve read many comments on the declassification, and I find all the references to Russia disconcerting. Why not leave Russia out, and then look at what happened? Russia is not the story.

Declassified CIA Docs Show Alleged Clinton Plan To Link Trump To Russia (DC)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified portions of two documents that show the CIA picked up intelligence regarding Hillary Clinton’s alleged approval of a campaign to link Donald Trump to Russia’s hacking efforts. Ratcliffe declassified notes taken in 2016 by then-CIA Director John Brennan during a meeting with President Obama and his national security advisers regarding Russia’s election meddling efforts. The intelligence chief also declassified sections of a Counterintelligence Operation Lead (CIOL) memo that the CIA sent on Sept. 7, 2016 to then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok, the top counterintelligence investigator on Crossfire Hurricane. “Per FBI verbal request, CIA provided the below examples of information the CROSSFIRE HURRICANE fusion cell has gleaned to date,” reads an unredacted portion of the CIOL.

The memo referred to information related to “US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” Brennan has testified that he created a so-called “fusion cell” in July 2016 that consisted of officials from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency to investigate Russia’s election interference. The CIA documents, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation, were cited last week in a letter that Ratcliffe sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham. That letter said that U.S. intelligence “gained insight” in late July 2016 into “Russian intelligence analysis” that asserted that Clinton had approved a plan to link Trump to Russia’s hacking efforts in order to distract from her use of a private email server.

The documents released Tuesday do not provide much clarification about the underlying CIA intelligence. They do confirm that the CIA obtained the intelligence Ratcliffe referred to in his letter. Republicans asserted that the documents raise questions about whether Clinton personally approved the dissemination of a false allegation linking Trump to Russia. Clinton campaign advisers publicly accused Donald Trump of aiding Russia’s hacking efforts following the July 22, 2016 release of DNC emails through WikiLeaks. A report from the special counsel’s office released last year said there was no evidence that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russia to hack and release Democrats’ emails. According to Brennan’s undated notes, he told President Obama that the intelligence community had picked up evidence that Russians had learned that Clinton personally approved a plan on July 28, 2016 to link Trump to Russia’s hacking of the Democrat National Committee.

Brennan’s notes refer to intelligence related to Clinton’s approval “of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.” Brennan appeared on CNN shortly after Ratcliffe declassified the documents, but denied that they showed any wrongdoing on Clinton’s part. He said during the briefing for Obama, he provided examples of “the type of access that the U.S. intelligence community to Russian information and what the Russians were talking about and alleging.” “If in fact what the Russians were alleging, that Hillary was trying to highlight the reported connections between Trump and the Russians — and that’s a big ‘if’ — there is nothing at all illegal about that.”

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The docs do seem to move us forward at least a bit.

Spy Chief Releases Docs On Claim Hillary Clinton Cooked Up Russia Scandal (NYP)

National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified documents that claim Hillary Clinton ordered “a campaign plan to stir up a scandal” by linking President Trump to Russia in 2016 — and that then-President Barack Obama knew about her possible role. Ratcliffe provided to Fox News an undated set of notes from then-CIA director John Brennan about a briefing for Obama that touched on the allegation, and an investigative referral from the CIA to the FBI describing the claim. “Today, at the direction of President Trump, I declassified additional documents relevant to ongoing Congressional oversight and investigative activities,” Ratcliffe told Fox News Tuesday.

Most of the unredacted content in the documents was released by Ratcliffe last week, though minor new details cast doubt on former FBI Director James Comey’s declaration last week that he could not recall the claim, which Clinton allies deny as baseless potential Russian disinformation. The newly released notes from Brennan, who now is a fiery anti-Trump commentator, indicate that Brennan briefed Obama on “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 28 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.” Ratcliffe’s initial disclosure said that, according to Brennan’s notes, Clinton allegedly approved the scheme on July 26.

The minor inaccuracy shortens the window of time between Clinton’s alleged approval of the plot and the FBI opening its investigation of possible Trump-Russia collusion on July 31, 2016. A previously undisclosed annotation in Brennan’s notes appears to attribute to Obama an interest in “any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia.” The initials “JC” also are on the briefing notes, implying that that then-FBI Director James Comey attended the meeting where Brennan discussed the theory with Obama.

[..] The investigative referral from the CIA to the FBI, meanwhile, contains the previously disclosed passage noting an allegation about “Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.” The actual referral is mostly redacted, but additionally states that the document was sent “per FBI verbal request.” It was addressed to Comey, but to the attention of then-FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, who notoriously traded anti-Trump text message on work phones with his mistress FBI lawyer Lisa Page. In his initial disclosure last week, Ratcliffe said the claim against Clinton was unproven and could be an “exaggeration or fabrication.”

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The same Gina Haspel is now apparently hampering efforts to declassify documents. Who foisted her on Trump? And what role did she play in the Assange case while she ran the CIA in London?

CIA Director Gina Haspel and the British Role in the Anti-Trump Plot (Farrell)

We have raised and discussed serious matters of fact and questions about the role of CIA Director Gina Haspel in the Anti-Trump conspiracy. It appears Haspel (while serving as London Chief of Station from 2014 to early 2017) was an active, knowledgeable party to the efforts to target candidate Trump with an FBI-instigated foreign counterintelligence operation. That seditious conspiracy carried forward to a more sophisticated and aggressive plan to carry out a soft coup against President Donald J. Trump. Looking back on news reporting concerning Haspel, we turn (with caution) to a Washington Post article from July 2019 by Shane Harris, titled: “The quiet director: How Gina Haspel manages the CIA’s volatile relationship with Trump”.

We are supposed to believe that Haspel and her office did not cooperate with the reporter for the article. Harris disclaims Haspel involvement by writing: “This report is based on interviews with 26 current and former officials who have worked with Haspel in the United States, particularly when she served in senior management roles at headquarters, and in London, where Haspel served two tours as the CIA’s top representative — chief of station — a plum post that is usually the steppingstone to the agency’s highest ranks.” No Washington Post article in the last decade has contained such a scrupulous sourcing statement. Of course, Haspel had nothing to do with the article. Remember that, won’t you?

Haspel, twice-over Chief of Station in London, had close connections with the British intelligence and security services. Given the nature of the “special relationship” between the two countries, that is hardly surprising. Harris’s interviews of British intelligence officers take things a step further, however: “… what she lacked in after-hours sociability she made up for with deep professional ties to the upper echelon of the British security establishment. ‘She had access to anyone in our service,’ the former British intelligence official said.” Harris goes on to explain: “Haspel has become the CIA’s linchpin to the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, its most important foreign partner. Her British colleagues say that she knows them so well — warts and all — that they call her the ‘honorary U.K. desk officer.'”

In the next paragraph, Harris notes breathlessly: “… Trump has accused the United Kingdom of conspiring with American intelligence to spy on his presidential campaign.” President Trump certainly has made that claim, and one believes for very good reasons that seem to compound weekly. Reasons that make the “intelligence community” and 95% of “official Washington” extremely nervous. It is the sort of statement that presidential aides and counsels look nervous about, wring their hands and respectfully, earnestly plead: “But Mr. President, you just can’t say that sort of thing!” Truth be damned.

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Hard to see how this is not political.

Grand Jury Indicts St. Louis Couple Who Defended Home Amid Demonstrations (JTN)

St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, have been indicted by a Grand Jury seated by St. Louis Circuit Prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office, in connection with them defending their home this summer amid Black Lives Matter protests. Al Watkins, an attorney for the couple, confirmed to the Associated Press the indictments against Mark McCloskey, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61. Joel Schwartz, a McCloskey attorney, told Just the News on Tuesday night that the indictment is called a “suppressed” indictment and that he’s unaware of what it states. “I am told by sources that this is a suppressed indictment, which makes no sense to me. We had a hearing this morning in court. The hearing was cancelled. Then I was contacted by sources, who learned my clients were indicted. I reached out to the Circuit Attorney’s office. I have yet to received a response,” said Joel Schwartz to Just the News.


Schwartz represents the couple in the criminal case, and Watkins represents the couple in a related civil case. Gardner, a Democrat, charged the McCloskeys with “flourishing” a weapon in connection with the June 28 incident in which social justice protesters entered the couple’s private, gated community during a demonstration and marched past their home. The McCloskeys have said they each went outside with a gun because they feared for the safety of themselves and their home. Missouri GOP Gov. Mike Parson said in July that he was prepared to exercise his pardon powers if prosecutors bring criminal charges in the case. As previously reported by Just the News, Gardner’s campaigns have received tens of thousands of dollars from a political action committee financed by billionaire political philanthropist George Soros.

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He’s going to bankrupt untold numbers of Americans.

Jay Powell Wants More Help From Congress: Low Risk Of ‘Overdoing It’ (CNBC)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called Tuesday for continued aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus for an economic recovery that he said still has “a long way to go.” Noting progress made in job creation, goods consumption and business formation, among other areas, Powell said that now would be the wrong time for policymakers to take their foot off the gas. Doing so, he said, could “lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses” and thwart a rebound that thus far has progressed more quickly than expected. “By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller,” Powell added in remarks to the National Association for Business Economics.

“Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste. The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to provide support to the economy until it is clearly out of the woods.” The remarks come amid conflicting signs for an economy trying to shake off the unprecedented impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. While 11.4 million jobs lost during the associated economic shutdown have been recovered, nearly half of displaced workers remain sidelined. GDP is expected to show a sharp rebound from the 31% second-quarter plunge and housing has been a strong point as well.

However, Powell cautioned that backing off now with fiscal and monetary help runs the risk of losing momentum and bringing about an added downturn that would look not like the government-induced one that began in February, but rather a more traditional downturn that would be harder to recover from and worsen the U.S. wealth gap. That would be one where “weakness feeds on weakness,” he said. “The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to provide support to the economy until it is clearly out of the woods,” Powell added.

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Don’t worry, they hate Trump more.

Unfavorable Views of China Reach Historic Highs in Many Countries (Pew)

Views of China have grown more negative in recent years across many advanced economies, and unfavorable opinion has soared over the past year, a new 14-country Pew Research Center survey shows. Today, a majority in each of the surveyed countries has an unfavorable opinion of China. And in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain and Canada, negative views have reached their highest points since the Center began polling on this topic more than a decade ago. Negative views of China increased most in Australia, where 81% now say see the country unfavorably, up 24 percentage points since last year. In the UK, around three-quarters now see the country in a negative light – up 19 points.

And, in the U.S., negative views of China have increased nearly 20 percentage points since President Donald Trump took office, rising 13 points since just last year. The rise in unfavorable views comes amid widespread criticism over how China has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 14 nations surveyed, a median of 61% say China has done a bad job dealing with the outbreak. This is many more than say the same of the way the COVID-19 pandemic was handled by their own country or by international organizations like the World Health Organization or the European Union. Only the U.S. receives more negative evaluations from the surveyed publics, with a median of 84% saying the U.S. has handled the coronavirus outbreak poorly.

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“5 year search for the truth by @SMaurizi continually blocked by UK/US govt.”

Hard to swallow the irony of the Guardian printing this.

Court To Rule On UK Freedom Of Information Bids From Overseas (G.)

The rights of those living abroad to submit freedom of information requests are to be tested in court after more than a dozen cases – including one relating to Julian Assange’s extradition – were blocked. A combined hearing involving the Home Office, Metropolitan police, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and 13 separate cases is to be held at an information tribunal in London. At issue is whether applicants overseas are entitled to a response when submitting freedom of information requests to UK government departments and agencies. It is not clear who triggered the “stay” imposed on the 13 requests. The ICO has declined to comment. No date has been set for the case.

The Cabinet Office, which has responsibility for FOI policy, says it complies with ICO guidance, which states: “Anyone can make a freedom of information request – they do not have to be UK citizens, or resident in the UK.” The tribunal, however, has told parties in the suspended cases that it has “decided to deal with the territorial scope” of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of the stayed FOI requests are from applicants not resident in Britain. The hearing will also examine whether there is a requirement that those who make FOI requests have a connection to the UK. “The main principle behind freedom of information legislation,” the ICO has said, “is that people have a right to know about the activities of public authorities, unless there is a good reason for them not to.”

One of the blocked cases is an appeal by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who works for daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano and writes about WikiLeaks. She has been pursuing information about how the Crown Prosecution Service dealt with its Swedish counterpart during initial attempts to extradite Assange to Sweden. Her work has been covered by the Guardian. Maurizi has also studied at Imperial College in London. Barristers Jennifer Robinson, who represents Assange, and Estelle Dehon, who specialises in freedom of information, are representing Maurizi. They have asked the tribunal to lift the stay and allow their appeals for the release of further information to proceed. They argue that Maurizi has worked on UK publications and has carried out investigations relating to the UK and UK citizens. She has also taken several other cases to information tribunal hearings.

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Let’s declassify the docs behind this.

The Unprecedented And Illegal Campaign To Eliminate Julian Assange (Glass)

Over the 17 days of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London, prosecutors succeeded in proving both crimes and conspiracy. The culprit, however, was not Assange. Instead, the lawbreakers and conspirators turned out to be the British and American governments. Witness after witness detailed illegal measures to violate Assange’s right to a fair trial, destroy his health, assassinate his character, and imprison him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. Courtroom evidence exposed illegality on an unprecedented scale by America’s and Britain’s intelligence, military, police, and judicial agencies to eliminate Assange. The governments had the edge, like the white man of whom Malcolm X wrote, “He’s a professional gambler; he has all the cards and the odds stacked on his side, and he has always dealt to our people from the bottom of the deck.”

The deck was clearly stacked. Assange’s antagonists were marking the cards as early as February 2008, when the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center set out, in its words, to “damage or destroy this center of gravity” that was WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, from the time Assange and his friends created it in 2006, was attracting sources around the world to entrust them, securely and anonymously, with documents exposing state crimes. The audience for the documents was not a foreign intelligence service, but the public. In the governments’ view, the public needed protection from knowledge of what they were doing behind closed doors and in the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq. To plug the leaks, the governments had to stop Assange. The Pentagon, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the State Department soon followed the Counterintelligence Center’s lead by establishing their own anti-Assange task forces and enlisting the aid of Britain, Sweden, and Ecuador.

What a ride it’s been. The first recorded “black op” against Assange occurred on September 27, 2010, when a suitcase containing three laptops, hard drives, and clothing vanished from the aircraft carrying him from Sweden to Germany. Efforts to retrieve his belongings, which included privileged communications with his legal counsel, elicited vague excuses from the airline that it knew nothing. The fate of the purloined items became public knowledge in 2013 when information from his laptops appeared in prosecution briefs against U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. In 2011, FBI agents went to Iceland to employ an 18-year-old informant, Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, to spy on WikiLeaks. When Iceland’s authorities discovered the FBI’s illegal activities, it deported the FBI agents. Thodarson, whom the FBI had paid $5,000 and flown around the world, later confessed to stealing money from WikiLeaks and was convicted for sexually abusing underage boys.

Tulsi for Julian

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And not just in the US.

Top US Food Bank Warns Of Nationwide “Meal Shortages” In Next 12 Months (ZH)

The virus pandemic and resulting recession, crushing millions of households, has produced a new era of hunger nationwide. After seven months of the coronavirus chaos, triggering widespread unemployment and the collapse of small businesses, millions of Americans are going hungry for the first time in their lives ahead of the holiday season. Tens of millions of Americans have turned to their local food banks as food insecurity spirals out of control. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey from late August, about 10% of adults, 22.3 million, reported they didn’t have enough to eat or lacked food. This figure is up from 18 million in early March.

Now, Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, serving more than 46 million people, is warning it may experience a massive food shortage within the next twelve months, reported WaPo. Feeding America said it could face a deficit of “10 billion pound shortfall between now and June of 2021 – the equivalent of 8 billion meals.” In July, the nonprofit organization “estimated the total need for charitable food over the next year would be an unprecedented 17 billion pounds, more than three times the food bank network’s last annual distribution of 5 billion pounds.”

Rising food insecurity comes as the economy faces a tidal wave of long-term unemployment as millions of people who lost jobs early in the pandemic and remain out of work, unable to find a job, as job losses increasingly become permanent. At the moment, nearly 4 million jobs have vanished forever. Two problems are developed: rising long-term unemployment and permanent job losses, the combination of the two create deep economic scarring and immense financial pain for households. The Salvation Army recently launched its annual holiday fundraising campaign early this year, for the first time in 130 years, in a bid to “rescue Christmas” to support those households financially ruined by the economic downturn.

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Brilliant Babylon Bee.

Media Criticizes Trump For Downplaying Virus Threat By Not Dying (BBee)

President Donald Trump is once again under fire from the media for recklessly downplaying the danger of COVID by refusing to die. As the president begins to show signs of recovery, many worry that this sends the wrong message about the seriousness of the global pandemic. “Every hour that he lives is another hour that the severity of this virus is undermined!” said reporter Sara Grace Major for CNN. “Why won’t he just DIE and show the American people how deadly this virus truly is?” “Mr. President, are you sure you don’t need to lie down indefinitely or go on a ventilator?” asked another distraught journalist. “Maybe even say goodbye to your loved ones?!”


“Honestly, I feel terrific. Tremendous, really. I was never afraid of this virus before, but now I am even more not afraid. It’s sad, really. I was told this virus would be one tough cookie,“ Trump said to the press. “In fact, I’ve never felt better.” “His defiance is going to get people killed. Dying like he’s supposed to would be the most patriotic thing he could do,” complained CNN correspondent Adam Pelot. “If he lives, how will the people be able to trust science?” At publishing time, members of the press had begun pulling their own hair out as they watched the “incredibly strong and healthy” president go for a jog around the White House grounds.

Read more …

 

 

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Marshall McLuhan

 

 

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Oct 022020
 


Fred Stein Brute man 1946

 

President Trump Says He And First Lady Have COVID19 (JTN)
What Happens If President Trump Contracts COVID19 (Hudak)
Trump Job Approval Rises To Highest Since May, Majority Expect Him To Win (HA)
Navalny ‘Is Working With CIA’: Kremlin (RT)
Comey’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure (Turley)
Since 1976, WaPo Has Panicked At Thought Of The GOP Winning White House (DC)
It Is Time To Dismiss The Flynn Case (Turely)
FAA Chief Test Flies 737 MAX; Says More Fixes Needed (CNN)
How Does International Capital Flow? (BIS)
Small Firm Bust Accelerates As Bankruptcies Soar In September (ZH)
Shooting Unarmed Civilians In Iraq Would Still Be A Secret But For Assange (ES)
We Must Avoid Being Diverted Towards Terminal Cynicism (Cook)
The America I Loved Has Gone Forever (Feierstein)

 

 

Melania

 

 

 

 

Let’s see how gracious the reactions are.

President Trump Says He And First Lady Have COVID19 (JTN)

President Trump said early Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement that Trump, 74, and his wife have the virus and will quarantine comes in the homestretch of the presidential race, throwing uncertainty into Trump’s reelection effort against Democratic challenger Joe Biden with just 33 days remaining before the Nov. 3 election. It also followed news reports late Thursday that White House adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive – immediately raising concerns about whether the president had been exposed. Trump made the announcement on Twitter at 12:54 a.m. ET.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he posted. “We will get through this TOGETHER!” The White House just after midnight Friday issued a revised scheduled in which Trump’s planned trip to Florida later in the day was no longer on the agenda. However, the full impact of Trump testing positive and having to quarantine during his reelection effort remains unclear. The president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, issued an official statement late Thursday, saying the president and his wife had tested positive for the SARS-CoV- 2 virus and were “both well at this time.”

He also said he expected the president to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.” Trump on Thursday evening before reports about Hick and him testing positive did a live phone interview on Fox News’ “Hannity” show in which he gave no indication of being sick. Despite have the best medical care possible, the president having the virus is a serious health issue considering that eight out of every 10 virus-related deaths in the U.S. are among those 65 and older.

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From July 2020. There are entire sets of protocols set into motion. Things will be pretty calm as long as Trump is not hospitalized.

What Happens If President Trump Contracts COVID19 (Hudak)

A positive COVID-19 test for the president, in itself, is not a cause for emergency action. Millions of people around the world have contracted the disease and have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The president would likely be able to continue his everyday activities and manage the office either undisturbed or with mild challenges. A presidential diagnosis would create some challenges for those around him. The need for 24-hour Secret Service protection could put agents at risk for contracting it. But given modern technology, the president could quarantine and have remote or sufficiently distanced contact from most, if not all, aides, including the individual(s) who would be involved in the presidential daily brief.

There would need to be other precautions taken, even if the president were to be asymptomatic. First, those in the line of succession would need to be protected. It would be important to keep Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Grassley (President Pro Tempore), and members of the cabinet isolated from the president. It would be especially important to ensure that the vice president have limited contact with individuals generally to reduce his chances of contracting the virus as well. Second, it would be important for the president to continue to communicate with the American public, especially if he is mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. Seeing the president on camera can restore faith in his wellness, calm nervous Americans, stabilize stock markets (that would surely see a dip in the event of a positive test), and project to the world that the president remains well enough to execute the office.

We’ve experienced something like this before. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious stroke, and his wife kept even his closest advisers from seeing the president, likely out of fear that they would find him incapacitated and thus throwing the nation into a serious leadership crisis. Such a scenario (hiding the president’s condition) would not be possible today, but an extended absence of a president—especially during a pandemic—would raise serious questions and become a destabilizing force in politics, the economy, and the public.

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“..this question — whom do you think is *likely* to win? — has correctly predicted the popular-vote winner in every election back to 1996.”

Trump Job Approval Rises To Highest Since May, Majority Expect Him To Win (HA)

His approval rating today: 46 percent. Barack Obama’s approval rating eight years ago today: 47 percent. Trump’s not licked yet. There are two differences between them, though. One is that Trump’s disapproval rating stands at 52 percent. Obama’s was 46 percent. Flipping someone who’s undecided into your column is a lot easier than flipping someone who disapproves of you, which is the task facing Trump with that crucial three or four percent that he still needs. The other difference is that O’s job approval soon rose above 50 and he ended up spending nearly all of that month at or above 49 percent. Trump has touched 49 just a few times since 2017 in Gallup’s polling, typically landing between 41-46 percent. He’s never reached 50. And on every major issue with the notable exception of the economy, disapproval of him is north of 50.

A look at the RCP average shows that Gallup’s numbers are no fluke, which seems incongruous. The state and national polling against Biden has been grim this week for Trump and yet his approval rating remains a decent 45.5 percent. How can his chances of winning the election be slipping if his job approval isn’t? Part of the answer lies in the last paragraph: Pretty much everyone who’s not pro-Trump is anti-Trump, not undecided, and the latter group is bigger than the former. But there’s also a fascinating discrepancy between his job approval and his head-to-head polling against Biden that’s shown up in a number of surveys. Namely, there’s some small but meaningful number of voters who say they approve of his performance — but are voting for the Democrat anyway. Compare the last six months of Trump’s job approval, where he enjoyed a rating of 45-46 both before and after this year’s summer swoon…

Here’s another interesting number from the same Gallup poll that’s out today:

You can read that various ways. Maybe it’s nothing more than the residue of Trump’s shocking 2016 win at work. The polls predicted Hillary would win last time, Hillary didn’t win, so there’s no reason to trust the polls this time. Another way to read it is as a sign of a secret preference for Trump. If you’re all-in on the “shy Trump voter” theory of why his polling is poor against Biden, here’s your evidence that some independents and maybe even some Democrats are secretly planning to vote for him. They won’t tell a pollster straight out that they prefer him to Biden, but ask them who they think will win and their hidden preference creeps into that answer. It should be noted that this question — whom do you think is *likely* to win? — has correctly predicted the popular-vote winner in every election back to 1996. In 2000 and 2016, more Americans thought Gore and Clinton would win, and they did indeed get the most votes that fall. The wrinkle, though, is that the streak is all but certain to end next month: While Trump stands a fair chance of winning the electoral college, no one apart from the most diehard members of the MAGA base expects him to win the popular vote. Even his campaign doesn’t pretend that he has a serious shot at it …

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The western media attention has to come from somewhere.

Navalny ‘Is Working With CIA’: Kremlin (RT)

Western intelligence agencies – in particular, agents from the American CIA – are working with Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman alleged on Thursday. “Probably, it is not the patient [Navalny] who works for the Western special services, but that the Western intelligence services who work with him – this would be more correct [to say],” Dmitry Peskov explained. “I can even be specific: these days, specialists from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America are working with him.” “This isn’t the first time he’s been given different instructions,” the spokesman continued. “The instructions given to the patient are obvious. We have seen such patterns of behavior on more than one occasion.”

The bombshell allegation comes just hours after Navalny claimed Putin was behind his alleged poisoning in August. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that he had “no other explanation for what happened.” Peskov took umbrage at the activist’s comments alleging Putin’s involvement in the incident, dismissing them as “baseless” and “insulting.” He told reporters “we believe that such accusations against the Russian president are absolutely unfounded and unacceptable.” German officials alleged, last month, that Navalny had been targeted with a nerve agent from the ‘Novichok’ family. “We want to investigate the case of the Berlin patient [Navalny] and establish the cause of what happened,” Peskov explained, expressing doubt about the veracity of the German analysis. “For this, we need to get information from those who found traces of poisoning.”

The Kremlin has previously complained that Berlin has been uncooperative in providing evidence that the Moscow protest leader had indeed been attacked with Novichok. Peskov also commented on Navalny’s intention to return to Russia, as expressed to Der Spiegel, observing that he saw no heroism in his declaration. “Any citizen of Russia can return to his homeland at any time,” the spokesman outlined. “Treatment can take place in our country, in fact, almost all people avail of this. Lives are saved in our country, and the life of this patient was also saved in Russia.” This refers to when Navalny had initially been hospitalized in Siberia

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Casual?! Interesting choice of words.

Comey’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure (Turley)

In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony proved as casual as his appearance in an open shirt from his home office. Comey was hammered with embarrassing findings of errors under his watch in the handling of the Russian investigation, including the reliance on information that FBI agents warned might be Russian disinformation supplied by a Russian agent. After years of investigation, the FBI was unable to show that a single Trump official conspired or colluded with the Russians. Instead, investigations found extensive errors, irregular and criminal conduct, and statements of intense bias by key FBI figures. Yet, Comey proceeded to give what amounted to a series of shrugs in either denying any recollection of such information or deflecting responsibility to others.

Comey was asked about an intelligence report suggesting that Hillary Clinton personally approved an effort “to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.” The report was reportedly sufficiently serious to be included in a briefing of President Barack Obama. However, when asked about his knowledge, Comey again shrugged and said it “didn’t ring a bell.” That’s it. The fact is that the allegation against Clinton (like the one against Trump that launched the Russian investigation) was unverified and could be legitimately questioned. There is a fair question on why the FBI went all in on one allegation and not the other. When asked “did you have a duty to look at any allegations regarding Clinton in Russia?” Comey simply replied “I don’t know what you mean.”

Yet, the more interesting question is what exactly does “ring the bell” of James Comey. Recent disclosures have added to the very serious allegations of misconduct in the handling of the Russian investigation. Highly critical reports by the Inspector General and the secret FISA court detailed critical omissions and outright false information used as the basis for the investigation. This includes conduct leading to the firing of the top FBI officials and agents involved in the investigation and a recent criminal plea by the key FBI agent in charge of the FISA applications. Comey however seemed locked in some Kübler-Ross loop, stuck between denial and transference.

[..] Comey also made a series of false statements. He repeated, for example, the long-standing denial that there was any surveillance of the Trump campaign. New information shows that the FBI used a briefing in August 2016 of then candidate Trump to gather information for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia investigation. While Comey is still denying this fact, other Democrats have already moved on from the denial of any surveillance of the campaign. After the disclosure, Rep. Eric Swalwell declared that “they were right to do it.”

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The party’s paper.

Since 1976, WaPo Has Panicked At Thought Of The GOP Winning White House (DC)

On September 28, The Washington Post officially endorsed Joe Biden for president. That may not come as a shock to anyone with a passing knowledge of the liberal newspaper, but the Post paints this year as unique and different. The unsigned editorial calls Trump the “worst president of modern times” and warns readers that “democracy is at stake.” An anyone-but-Trump anti-endorsement on August 21 lectured that “a second Trump term might injure the democratic experiment beyond recovery.” Get it? You must vote for Biden because democracy itself is in danger. However, for the Washington Post, this year’s endorsement is exactly like every other. I tracked down and reviewed every Washington Post presidential endorsement since the paper began regularly picking candidates in 1976.

Here’s the box score: 11 endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates. 0 endorsements of Republican presidential candidates. 1 non-endorsement (in 1988). The Democrats have exciting, “supple” (Barack Obama in 2008) candidates who inspire hope. In contrast, Republicans are reckless (John McCain in 2008) and bad on race (George H.W. Bush in 1992), to name a few of the paper’s concerns. While some Post endorsements were more enthusiastic than others, the conclusion is always the same: America MUST elect a Democrat president. Sometimes, the Post will tell its readers not to be cynical. This isn’t a choice between the lesser of two evils, they say.

The paper’s 2020 endorsement of Biden cheers: “Fortunately, to oust President Trump in 2020, voters do not have to lower their standards. The Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, is exceptionally well-qualified, by character and experience, to meet the daunting challenges that the nation will face over the coming four years.” If that sounds familiar, it should. Turns out, Democrats had a great candidate in Hillary Clinton in 2016: “In the gloom and ugliness of this political season, one encouraging truth is often overlooked: There is a well-qualified, well-prepared candidate on the ballot. Hillary Clinton has the potential to be an excellent president of the United States, and we endorse her without hesitation.”

That language echoed through the decades. In 1984, the Post tried to dissuade Americans from reelecting Ronald Reagan, “enthusiastically and without apology” endorsing Walter Mondale: “He is a decent man and a diligent, hard-working one who has been a good Democratic leader…. We say this is a serious, steady, bright, decent, qualified man who wants to be president and who should be.” 49 out of 50 states rejected the paper’s advice, reelecting Reagan in a landslide.

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“I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.”

It Is Time To Dismiss The Flynn Case (Turely)

When Michael Flynn heads to court for his final sentencing hearing today, a lifetime of respected national service will hang in the balance on what is said and done. I am not talking about Flynn but of Judge Emmet Sullivan. There is no issue over the dismissal of the charge of Flynn lying to federal investigators. The only issue is whether, just before an election, Sullivan will use the hearing as a forum for injudicious commentary. I have practiced law for years before Sullivan and praised him for his demeanor and record as a judge. He has served with distinction since 1994 in cases ranging from Guantanamo Bay detainees to the flawed prosecution of Ted Stevens to the emails of Hillary Clinton. Then came the case of Flynn, who was charged with a single count of lying to federal investigators.

Such a charge ordinarily would result in a short sentencing hearing. Flynn fought the charge but, after exhausting his assets and facing threats by prosecutors to target his son, he agreed to plead to one count. Even the uncooperative witness like Alex Van Der Zwaan received only 30 days in prison on a similar charge related to the investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Yet this is the third attempt at sentencing for Flynn, as what should have been the simple hearing two years ago was derailed by Sullivan himself. Both Flynn and the prosecutors believed they would have a perfunctory hearing and a likely sentence without jail time. After all, this was just one count, and Flynn pleaded guilty, then met with Mueller about 20 times as a cooperative witness. Furthermore, we know federal investigators at the time did not believe Flynn intentionally lied to them. Yet when Flynn went to court, he was given a scolding rather than a sentence.

Using the flag in court as a prop, Sullivan falsely accused Flynn of being an “unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser” who sold his country out. Sullivan even suggested Flynn should have been charged with treason, then suggested he might ignore any recommendations and send Flynn to jail when he declared, “I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.” Sullivan apologized for some of his comments, but the hearing led to a critical delay. During that time, new evidence emerged that cast further doubt on the investigation of Flynn, including the material showing that FBI agents wanted to close the case in 2016 due to lack of evidence. The investigation was kept open at the insistence of fired FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who showed intense animus for President Trump.

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Translation: the FAA always gave in to anything Boeing said. But now it’s their own reputations on the line.

FAA Chief Test Flies 737 MAX; Says More Fixes Needed (CNN)

Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson says he has some suggestions for new changes to the Boeing 737 MAX after piloting the grounded jetliner Wednesday. “I like what I saw on the flight,” said Dickson, a former airline pilot who flew earlier versions of the 737. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items going forward,” said Dickson after his two-hour flight from Seattle’s Boeing Field. Dickson said he’d like to see tweaks “not so much in the procedures, but in the narrative that describes the procedures.” Federal regulators are still evaluating Boeing’s proposed safety changes to the embattled design after a pair of fatal crashes abroad killed 346 people, grounding the plane worldwide in March 2019.


Dickson stressed his unorthodox flight was not part of the official FAA recertification process — which Dickson said is in the home stretch. The 18-month grounding has cost Boeing at least $18 billion. And it has missed a series of target dates for getting approval for the plane to again carry passengers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic it had been expecting approval for the plane by the middle of this year. But the pandemic, and the resulting plunge in air travel worldwide, has led virtually all airlines to park a large percentage of their planes, reducing the need for Boeing (BA) to win the approval for the plane to fly sooner than later.

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“Modelling #GrossCapitalFlows sheds new light on classic debates, including that #CurrentAccounts are poor vulnerability indicators and that global imbalances are likely driven by a credit glut rather than a #SavingsGlut”

How Does International Capital Flow? (BIS)

Understanding gross capital flows is increasingly viewed as crucial for both macroeconomic and financial stability policies, but theory is lagging behind many key policy debates. We fill this gap by developing a two-country DSGE model that tracks domestic and cross-border gross positions between banks and households, with explicit settlement of all transactions through banks. We formalise the conceptual distinction between cross-border saving and financing, which often move in opposite directions in response to shocks. This matters for at least four policy debates.


First, current accounts are poor indicators of financial vulnerability, because in a crisis, creditors stop financing debt rather than current accounts, and because following a crisis, current accounts are not the primary channel through which balance sheets adjust. Second, we reinterpret the global saving glut hypothesis by arguing that US households do not finance current account deficits with foreigners’ physical saving, but with digital purchasing power, created by banks that are more likely to be domestic than foreign. Third, Triffin’s current account dilemma is not in fact a dilemma, because the creation of additional US dollars requires dollar credit creation by US and non-US banks rather than US current account deficits. Finally, we demonstrate that the observed high correlation of gross capital inflows and outflows is overwhelmingly an automatic consequence of double entry bookkeeping, rather than the result of two separate sets of economic decisions.

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The damage is real.

Small Firm Bust Accelerates As Bankruptcies Soar In September (ZH)

Policies promoted by the White House and the Federal Reserve to support small firms have been widely insufficient as bankruptcy filings are back to levels not seen since the dark days of the virus pandemic, according to Bloomberg, citing a new report via bankruptcy court data firm Epiq AACER. At least 620 companies filed for Chapter 11 protection in the first 25 days of September, a 48% increase over the same period last year. Bankruptcy filings in June and July saw 609 and 644, respectively. Chris Kruse, senior vice president at Epiq, said, “we’re seeing a continued strong flow of Chapter 11 filings in September, consistent with what we saw in June and July,” adding that “they range from businesses with small footprints to high street retailers.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has admitted the Fed’s lending program for smaller businesses has been challenging. “Trying to underwrite the credit of hundreds of thousands of very small businesses would be very difficult,” Powell said. As a result, most of the Fed’s liquidity flowed to mega-corporations while smaller ones were shut out, leaving them widely exposed to bankruptcy as a fiscal cliff, which started on July 31, has ravaged small firms and households for the last two months. With Republicans and Democrats still far apart on agreeing on the next round of economic stimulus, downward pressure on small firms and households will continue. The failure to pass the next stimulus bill, in a timely fashion, could result in a double-dip recession.


Deirdre O’Connor, managing director of corporate restructuring at Epiq, said, “we will continue to see filings for companies that had been the most disrupted by Covid and are operating in a zero revenue environment.” Data compiled by Bloomberg shows 193 bankruptcy filings year-to-date of companies with more than $50 million in liabilities were recorded for the first nine months of the year. If filings continue to accelerate into fall/winter, then this year could rival the 271 high, recorded in 2009. For more color on small firm health nationwide via high-frequency data, we turn to Opportunity Insights’ Economic Tracker of the percentage change in the number of small businesses open as of Sept. 13, suggesting nothing but disaster for mom and pop shops ahead of the fourth quarter.

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Judge in Julian #Assange case says she will give her judgment on 4 January 2021.

Shooting Unarmed Civilians In Iraq Would Still Be A Secret But For Assange (ES)

The shooting of unarmed civilians and journalists by US soldiers during the Iraq war would have remained a secret but for the work of Julian Assange, the Old Bailey heard today. Wikileaks published a classified video in 2010 which showed a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of people in Baghdad, as soldiers could be heard laughing and making derogatory remarks about the victims. Two Reuters journalists were among the dead, and the helicopter also fired on a vehicle which arrived at the scene to try to help the wounded victims. The US government refused to release the video – dubbed “collateral murder” – under Freedom of Information laws after its existence became known, and Wikileaks published it in a mass release of leaked cables and military documents relating to the Iraq and Afghan wars in 2010.

In a statement to Assange’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey, Patrick Cockburn, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent and a veteran war reporter, said he had reported on the July 2007 incident but could not confirm that the victims were actually unarmed civilians. “I published a piece in The Independent about the killing of eleven people by a US helicopter in Baghdad two days earlier. The dead included two Iraqi journalists working for Reuters news agency but the US military claimed that their forces had come under fire, called for air support, and had killed two civilians and nine insurgents. “Police at a nearby Iraqi police station contradicted this, saying that the eleven had died during ‘a random American bombardment’.

A named Iraqi eyewitness confirmed what the police said, and also described how the US helicopter had fired on an Iraqi vehicle that had come to help the wounded. “The evidence was compelling, but in the face of official denials of wrongdoing by the US military authorities it was impossible to prove that all those who died were unarmed civilians. “It was known that a film of the killing had been taken by the gun camera of the US Apache helicopter, but the Pentagon refused to give this up even under a Freedom of Information Act request.” He said the release of the video and other information, passed from US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to Assange and Wikileaks, showed “the way the US was conducting its war on terror”. “But for that, the suspicions of journalists and the local police in Baghdad could never have been established”, he said.

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Jonathan Cook reacts to the OffGuardian, who say he should write differently.

We Must Avoid Being Diverted Towards Terminal Cynicism (Cook)

1. Let me start with a brief comment about Covid-19. I have nothing unique, informed or interesting to say about the virus I haven’t already said in earlier pieces on my blog. I don’t write the same thing over and over – at least not intentionally. Were I to write at the moment about the pandemic, all I would add are statements that I think are relatively obvious and have already been made in the “mainstream” media: • that most western governments have proved deeply incompetent or corrupt in handling the virus; • that, even during a pandemic, there must be a balance between public health needs and our need for a tangible sense of community, and daily I entertain doubts about where that balance should properly lie; • and that governments in trouble will try to exploit the pandemic as best they can to impose more repressive measures on their publics, exactly as is happening right now where I live, in Israel.

Attacks on our freedoms need to be identified and addressed as they occur. I don’t see a global conspiracy to lock us all into our homes. Those who do see such a conspiracy should be writing pieces to convince me and others that they are right, not whingeing that I have not written the piece for them.

2. The incompetence and corruption of our governments in handling Covid-19 are not specific to the virus. They are the symptoms of defective political systems that were long ago captured by corporate interests. Western, technocratic governments have no real solutions for the pandemic in exactly the same way that they have no real solutions for the collapse of eco-systems or for making our economic systems, based on endless growth on a finite planet, sustainable. The reason these challenges defeat them is because they have no values apart from ever greater concentration of wealth.

3. Even were I or others to narrowly focus on Covid-19, there are far more pressing things to talk about than the threat of masks and lockdowns. Such as how we have increased our exposure to new viruses like Covid through rampant colonisation and exploitation of the planet’s final wildernesses, depriving other species of their natural habitats. Such as how economic incentives in food production ensure we are deprived of proper nutrition and encouraged to stuff ourselves with empty calories, provoking an epidemic of obesity and chronic illness, that has weakened our natural defences to disease, especially a new one like Covid-19. I am less worried about lockdowns than I am about western lifestyles that make lockdowns our only way to prevent higher mortality rates.

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Planet Ponzi doesn’t like what he sees.

The America I Loved Has Gone Forever (Feierstein)

Since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, US politics have not only become highly toxic, they have also become radioactive. The swamp’s resist-everything Democratic Party, enabled by FBI bias and animus that was spun like a spider’s web by the feckless fake news media and echoed by Hollywood’s hypocritical perverts, made numerous attempts to stage a coup d’etat (carefully read the declassified letter below) of the democratically elected president. The CIA referred an investigation to the FBI that the Hillary Clinton campaign was colluding with Russia to impact the 2016 presidential election. The FBI lied to the FISA judges to spy on the Trump campaign, and no one was ever prosecuted.

Why have FISA judges Collyer, Mosman, Conway and Dearie, who signed off on those warrants, and were lied to by the FBI to illegally obtain those same warrants to spy on a political opposition party during a presidential election, done nothing? Why have these Judges remained silent? Is the entire system a stitch-up? Now, the narrative has shifted at warp speed. It’s no longer about Russian collusion. The new narratives that matter are virtue signalling, identity politics, critical race theory, record hypocrisy and a dual justice system where murder,looting and arson are justified because those on the right are all Nazis and the radicalized left’s enforcers, ANTIFAand BLM thugs, are only “peaceful protestors.”

And nothing will interfere with this narrative. For example, the BLM mob influenced the prosecutors by getting them to charge BLM supporter Larynzo Johnson with “wanton endangerment” when he ran up to two police officers and shot them while rioting. Why was this blatant assassination rampage not prosecuted as attempted murder? Is the BLM mob now dictating charging decisions? Johnson’s attempted murder of police officers has quickly disappeared as it interferes with the media mob’s narrative. The media have drummed these themes into the heads of the public and driven a wedge between family members, close friends and co-workers that has polarized America to the brink of civil war.

Life has become so bad in the USA that many of my several decades-old friendships recently ended when they became unable to respect any individual opinion that differed from their own. That has happened to me. Friends for decades have been consumed by Trump Derangement Syndrome and are cancelling me. For societies to evolve and flourish, we all need to accept other people’s viewpoints and continue open-minded, civil and respectful dialogue. In science, scientists always question everything; why shouldn’t we question everything in life without personalizing and demonizing those you disagree with? It’s become impossible to have rational fact-based discussions with these inflexible ideological zealots.

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