As the second Trump impeachment circus has come to an end, which it seems to have done last night, we have to try and map what lies ahead, not just in politics, but also in the media. Which for the past 5 years have run almost exclusively on banging the Trump drum. This is not true only for the MSM, it also includes other media, including the Automatic Earth.
What are we all going to report on going forward? Trump has been acting like a kind of black hole in “news”, sucking up all the light and matter that came close to him. We ourselves didn’t get close enough to be annihilated by the black hole, like CNN and New York Times did, but its gravity pull did shape -and distort- our universe as well.
Last week I ran a graph depicting US cable TV viewer numbers, and said: “Here’s what will determine US politics in the next 4 years. Lack of clickbait. War would be good for ratings.” The graph is devastating for CNN, which lost over 40% of viewers in just one week, before and after the Biden inauguration. The network that is most anti-Trump got hammered once he was gone. The irony is palpable. It was also entirely predictable.
What will CNN and NYT and WaPo turn to now? Not Joe Biden, that’s for sure. No energy there, hence no news. Or rather, no clickbait. Of course over the past few days they were fully focused on the second impeachment, but that was the worst dud ever, sucking blood out of a stone. Did anyone ever have the idea that the Dems even tried to win this?
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley wrote well before the acquittal vote that he thought they were “tanking” it, an American football term for losing on purpose:
In the last impeachment, I criticized the House leadership for impeaching Trump on the thinnest record in the shortest time in history. It then outdid itself by impeaching him a second time with no record and no hearing. Even a day of hearings would have reduced the serious prudential concerns of senators, but the House pushed through a snap impeachment on a muscle vote. That left the House with no record despite being denied witnesses in the prior impeachment by the Senate
The greatest indication of tanking was the language of the article itself. Even a single day of hearings would have allowed experts to discuss the potential impeachable conduct and the crafting of articles of impeachment. There was credible impeachable offenses in Trump’s conduct on January 6th and its aftermath. Instead, the House leadership insisted on impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.” The House is not alleging reckless or negligent conduct leading to a riot. It is alleging incitement to actually seek rebellion or overthrow of the country.
The article specifically refers to section 3 of the 14th Amendment in its prohibition of anyone holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States. Even moderate senators who condemned Trump for his speech would be highly unlikely to convict on such an article. The House made it easy on those seeking acquittal. It could have crafted an article that would appeal to broader bipartisan support. Instead, it sought the most extreme language alleging incitement to an actual insurrection — virtually guaranteeing a partisan vote and likely acquittal.
And then yesterday what seemed to happen was that Nancy Pelosi, as soon as she understood she would be called as a witness if any were allowed, fumbled the ball and would not allow any witnesses. Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen turned on the MSM media for their coverage of the trial, but only after his home was vandalized and he received 100 death threats. Shame he wasn’t wearing a Viking helmet.
But okay, for now it’s over. Trump has made some noise about ‘this is only the beginning’, exactly what the MSM have wet dreams about, but for the near future, it’ll be Biden all the way. Sure, they will try and pin Ol’ Joe’s mishaps on Trump, but at some point they must blame his errors on him. The end of a perfectly beautiful friendship. Joe is Kryptonite for the MSM.
How many Americans have died of COVID-related issues since Inauguration Day? Oh, but that’s all Trump’s fault. OK, so how many will die from today on? Also Trump’s fault? Till when does that last? Question: why did Biden keep Dr. Fauci in his job after so many people died? Because he was heroically battling Trump? Nothing was Fauci’s fault?
That leads me to another topic that, like Trump, we have written so much about that I sometimes don’t see what more there is to say. Well, perhaps other than: why doesn’t your government do everything in its power to keep its citizens from dying, and instead only locks them down and puts facemasks on their weakened immune systems? (This is not only true for the US, of course).
They can boost those immune systems, it’s very easy even, and they know about it. So why does it continue to (not) happen? And when will the MSM finally find out about it and start reporting on it?
This is a very important study on vitamin D and Covid-19. Its findings are incredibly clear. An 80% reduction in need for ICU and a 60% reduction in deaths, simply by giving a very cheap and very safe therapy – calcifediol, or activated vitamin D. The findings of this large and well conducted study should result in this therapy being administered to every Covid patient in every hospital in the temperate latitudes.
Furthermore, since the study demonstrates that the clear relationship between vitamin D and Covid mortality is causal, the UK government should increase the dose and availability of free vitamin D to all the vulnerable groups. These approaches will save many thousands of lives. They are overdue and should be started immediately.
Calcifediol is what your body turns vit. D into, and the study doesn’t appear to mention that adequate vit. D levels reduce risk of infection by some 50% to begin with. If an MP knows this, and talks about it, can the rest of government plead ignorance?
Then, there are 38 published trials for ivermectin as a COVID treatment. Are these being ignored by the west because they took place in countries such as Israel, Peru, Mexico, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Argentina, Iran? What say you, Fauci? What say your friends in the industry?
And of course just a few days ago we had our own resident MD, John Day, explaining how to Treat Your Own COVID. So the information is out there, even if Fauci and/or the MSM won’t give it to you. And it’s information that may well save your lives, or those of people close to you.
Anyway, the premise of this article was what the MSM are going to do now that their Golden Trump Goose can no longer deliver the desired clickbait. Will they be desperate enough to tell people how to save their own lives? I must say, I don’t really see that happening. It appears much more likely that they start banging war drums, their tried and tested MO.
Thing is, can you really send troops to far away deserts while your own health care systems are imploding? And before you give people the $2,000$1,400 $600 checks that some pundits claim will allow them to pay all their bills until July? I’d almost wish you would try, but I don’t actually want more people to die.
If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the MSM soon being back to where they were before Trump entered stage right: on the verge of bankruptcy. But I’m not a betting man, and I’m not always right. Still, if I were Trump I’d lay low for a while and let them draw their terminal breaths. But I’m not Trump either.
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The essence of the story of Faust is simple: He is a man who sells his -future- soul to the devil in return for short term gain, for riches “now”. But years later, the devil comes to collect his prize.
Here’s a modern allegory.
In 2015 -or thereabouts- many of the mainstream media (MSM) outlets were facing dire times. Social media were taking over much of their readers’ attention, their ad revenue plummeted, and they didn’t have big stories to tell that would revert that trend. Things did not look good for the survival of CNN, New York Times or MSNBC. The Washington Post suffered the same problems, but they were owned by the world’s richest man.
And then the salvation presented itself on their doorstep in the form of Donald Trump. It’s not something they planned for, it just happened; it even took them a while to figure it out, but once they did, they went for it headfirst and all-in. How could they not? They were dying. Their finance departments told them anything negative about Trump was selling like hotcakes. And Trump willingly added to the fire.
The MSM made a Faustian pact with the devil (through his messenger Mephistopheles) for survival. And that devil was not Donald Trump, they never signed a deal with him, the devil disguised himself in the shape of clickbait, which very much has the devil’s signature, since it required them to do their “reporting” based on promoting hatred, conflict, division, anger, negativity, bitterness, resentment. All of which sells. Like nothing else. You don’t get people’s attention with happy stories, you get it by making them angry.
Not that the devil didn’t appreciate, and promote, the fact that they presented Trump as him, mind you. Indeed, disguise is the best trick of all, because it makes people fail to recognize him. But yes, you have to wonder when the devil will come for his payment, when he will come for their souls, as he comes for Dr. Faust’s in the original story. Because they’ve sold them alright, they traded their future souls for riches in the present.
Not that anyone would ever acknowledge that while they do. Faust is just a metaphor, an allegory, after all. But even if they don’t, we still can. And they’re not going to stop doing it. They will come after Trump with all they can think of, because for now, he’s still their meal ticket.
So there will be much attention for the next impeachment attempt, which may be the first one that tries to impeach someone who’s already left office, and they’ll bleed it for all they got, aided and abetted by the Democratic party. There will be a ton of lawsuits as well, Trump will be dragged from courtroom to courtroom. They all smell blood in the water. They want him humiliated, they want him bankrupt. And above all, they desperately want clickbait.
They’ll go after all other Republicans they can as well, and the ones who once supported Trump are easy pickings. They won’t stop until there’s no GOP left. Yeah, yeah, the spoils of war and all that. There’s something to say for leaving a system intact that at least appears to allow room for more than one point of view, but, you know, feeding frenzy.
The Dems, while clamoring for diversity, intend to leave only those people standing who agree with their ideas, so in reality that diversity only refers to skin color, gender, sexual orientation. Not to what you think. Y’all have to think what they do, or else. Not that they themselves all think the same, mind you, there’s miles between Biden and AOC, Hillary and Kamala, but you’ll be told about that later. First, the division.
Praising Biden will work for a little while, but only as long as you can compare him favorably to Trump. Once Trump exists stage left, there will be an enormous void that none of the parties involved, the Dems, the media, US intelligence, know how to fill. And that’s where things will get dangerous. What will they feed their clickbait hunger with? War? Russia, China, Syria, Iran?
The easy part: the media can lock themselves up in their echo chambers, provided they tempt enough people to go with them. Clickbait made sure they did. The hard part: they lost half their potential audience. But clickbait made sure the half they still had, paid three times as much attention. The hardest part: the MSM will no longer be seen as reliable news sources, or reliable only for half the population. How do they regain that audience?
They can’t turn on Biden, or Kamala, or Obama or HIllary. Those are all part of the deal that brought us Russiagate, Mueller, the Steele dossier and impeachment 1.0. All entirely empty hollow stories, ergo: ideal for generating clickbait. So who will they turn on once they’re done with Trump? They can’t risk creating sympathy with the Donald either, so making him the underdog is risky.
If we follow the Faust analogy, the obvious question becomes: how are the media going to save their souls? Interestingly, there are different versions of the story. The original German folk legend is from about 1500. The first written version, from Shakespeare contemporary Christopher Marlowe (some say Marlowe IS Shakespeare), from about 1600, Goethe’s Faust from 1800. “In the early tales, Faust is irrevocably corrupted and believes his sins cannot be forgiven; when the term ends, the Devil carries him off to Hell.”
But Goethe changed this. His Faust “ends with the titular character evading damnation and finding redemption in God’s grace and love for other people, with Mephistopheles losing his hope of attaining Faust’s soul. Ultimately, Faust goes to Heaven, for he loses only half of the bet. Angels, who arrive as messengers of divine mercy, declare at the end of Act V: “He who strives on and lives to strive / Can earn redemption still” (V, 11936–7).”
It is Gretchen, a young girl “debased” by Faust, whose purity and forgiveness ultimately salvages him. In the context, it is suggested she perhaps stands for all of womanhood. We’re in an allegory, after all. Ergo, the media will have to earn redemption “through God’s grace, divine mercy and their love for other people.” And whatever that may be, it sure sounds like the opposite of clickbait. Or the devil will come to carry them off into Hell. And all this time they made you believe it was Trump who was Mephistopheles.
It will be interesting to watch. How will they save their souls, their integrity, their credibility, their revenue? Or will they be dragged into Hell never to be heard from again?
Selling your soul, your integrity, never comes cheap. The MSM are about to find that out, as are the social media giants who pretend to have the authority to decide who can speak and who must be silenced in a world that until recently hailed free speech.
Or we can just lose it all, and obey our new masters. Mephistopheles would be so delighted if we do.
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There are two things happening simultaneously in the world today that affect the lives of many millions of people, but that we are told we cannot talk about: Hunter Biden and a second wave of lockdowns. As if the US presidential election and COVID19 are not in and of themselves stressful enough, now we also may not discuss them, other than to “parrot the party line”. This is having a severe impact on our mental health, though nobody apparently wants to talk about that either.
The whipped up fully one-sided frenzy for clickbait in the MSM on the topic of Donald Trump Orange Man Bad, aligned with RussiaRussia, Julian Assange and anything that can be mixed in in order to keep the narratives flowing, have split America, and much of the rest of the western world, in half, though probably not exactly down the middle, as we will find out after the election is done. And there, too, the MSM is sure to whip up more frenzy. Because it sells to pit people against each other.
So we find ourselves with Glenn Greenwald leaving his The Intercept because his own organization refuses to let him discuss Hunter Biden, though he is undoubtedly a newsworthy subject. Even if the entire MSM attempts with all its might to deny this, joined recently by Twitter and Facebook.
As I said a few days ago: “A strong sign of what US media has become, that Greenwald needs to go to Fox to be able to tell his story.” But that’s what this has turned into. Of course now you have people saying: “look who Greenwald’s hanging out with these days”. Well, he’s with the only people who won’t censor him. And say what you will, but Greenwald is as eloquent as ever. You may not like what he says, but that is still undeniable. Which, combined with his track record, means censoring him is nuts. As Matt Taibbi described:
Greenwald, after commenting pointedly about the reaction by press and Democratic Party officials to the New York Post story, reached out to Intercept editor Betsy Reed to float the idea of writing on the subject. The first hint of trouble came when Reed suggested that yes, it might be a story, if proven correct, but “even if it did represent something untoward about Biden,” that would “represent a tiny fraction of the sleaze and lies Trump and his cronies are oozing in every day.” When Greenwald retorted that deciding not to report on one politician’s scandals because those of another politician are deemed worse is a “corrupt calculus” for reporters, Reed expressed concern. Based on this, on his comments on Twitter, and other factors, she worried that “we are headed for a conflict over the editing of this piece.”
Greenwald insisted he wasn’t planning an overwhelming amount of coverage but wanted to do a single article, reviewing the available facts and perhaps asking the Biden campaign to comment on the veracity of the Post story. Reed agreed that he should write a draft, then they could “see where we are.” An aside: when reporters and editors interact, they speak between the lines. If an editor only ever suggests or assigns stories from a certain angle, you’re being told they don’t particularly want the other angle. If your editor has lots of hypothetical concerns at the start, he or she probably won’t be upset if you choose a different topic. Finally, when an editor lays out “suggestions” about things that might “help” a piece “be even stronger,” it’s a signal both parties understand about what elements have to be put in before the editor will send the thing through.
Lockdown is a blunt, indiscriminate policy that forces the poorest and most vulnerable people to bear the brunt of the fight against coronavirus. As an infectious diseases epidemiologist, I believe there has to be a better way. That is why, earlier this month, with two other international scientists, I co-authored a proposal for an alternative approach — one that shields those most at risk while enabling the rest of the population to resume their ordinary lives to some extent. I expected debate and disagreement about our ideas, published as the Great Barrington Declaration. As a scientist, I would welcome that. After all, science progresses through its ideas and counter-ideas. But I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of insults, personal criticism, intimidation and threats that met our proposal.
The level of vitriol and hostility, not just from members of the public online but from journalists and academics, has horrified me. I am not a politician. The hurly-burly of political life and being in the eye of the media do not appeal to me at all. I am first and foremost a scientist; one who is far more comfortable sitting in my office or laboratory than in front of a television camera. Of course, I do have deeply held political ideals — ones that I would describe as inherently Left-wing. I would not, it is fair to say, normally align myself with the Daily Mail. I have strong views about the distribution of wealth, about the importance of the Welfare State, about the need for publicly owned utilities and government investment in nationalised industries.
And Trump advisor Scott Atlas went to RT for the same reasons, only to be “forced” into a cowardly mea culpa for having talked to a “propaganda network”. Well, the real propaganda networks are the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN etc. We’ve seen that an awful lot these last few years, people accusing others of exactly what they themselves have done. Which is precisely what makes Hunter Biden a newsworthy story.
Trump administration Covid-19 adviser Scott Atlas ripped public-health officials for “egregious” policy failures – only to be forced to apologize after mainstream media deflected his points by attacking him for appearing on RT. On Saturday, the Stanford University doctor, who has emerged as President Donald Trump’s top adviser on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, called the lockdown policies an “epic failure” and argued they are “killing people,” while speaking with Afshin Rattansi on RT’s Going Underground show. “The public-health leadership have failed egregiously, and they’re killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” Atlas told RT.
“The lockdowns will go down as an epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong – were wrong, refused to accept they were wrong, didn’t know the data, didn’t care. And it became a frenzy of stopping Covid-19 cases at all costs, and those costs are massive,” he said. “The argument is undeniable: The lockdowns are killing people.” Atlas then pointed to job losses, rising suicides, rising drug abuse and the harm being done to young people, tying the issues to the Covid-19 restrictions put in place. One study showed that 25 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 thought about killing themselves in June “due to the lockdown”, he said.
Further on the lockdowns topic, Howard Beckett tweeted on Sunday about the UK: “Governments own stats have 4% of cases arising from hospitality, 20% from the workplace and a whopping 36% from education. So we shut bars & restaurants and keep schools & universities open.”
I’ve said earlier that a lockdown when days get shorter and nights get colder is a dangerous game. It’s a mental health issue, plain and simple, and one that very much MUST be discussed.
Last but very much not least, “At 10:04 PM on the night before an election, we discover that as part of his investigation into DNC hacking/election interference, Mueller declined to indict Assange and WikiLeaks due to a lack of evidence and First Amendment concerns.” But Buzzfeed, which reported the story, still keeps talking about hacked emails. There never were any. It’s the same thing Mueller himself did when he kept accusations against Assange and 12-13 Russians in his final report. The man should be investigated.
Prosecutors investigated Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone for the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers as well as for possible campaign finance violations, but ultimately chose not to charge them, newly released portions of the Mueller Report reveal. Although Wikileaks published emails stolen from the DNC in July and October 2016 and Stone — a close associate to Donald Trump — appeared to know in advance the materials were coming, investigators “did not have sufficient evidence” to prove active participation in the hacks or knowledge that the electronic thefts were continuing. In addition, federal prosecutors could not establish that the hacked emails amounted to campaign contributions benefitting Trump’s election chances and furthermore felt their publication might have been protected by the First Amendment, making a successful prosecution tenuous.
The fresh details of special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision not to charge Assange, WikiLeaks, or Stone for their role in influencing the 2016 election come just a day before voters head to the polls for the 2020 presidential election. The material sheds new light on the seriousness with which the special counsel investigated the hacks of Democratic party computers. In July 2018, Mueller indicted 12 Russian officers belonging to the Kremlin’s intelligence directorate, the GRU, for the theft and distribution of those emails. The role that Stone and Assange may have played in the hacks or their distribution has been the subject of much speculation. Little, however, was known about how intently the special counsel focused on those individuals as possible targets for prosecution during the two-year investigation into Russian election interference.
In order to maintain or regain your mental health, you need today to either ignore all news all the time, or you have to make sure you are well-informed. You might even say you have a right to that. But it has become an awful lot harder the last 5 years. Because your formerly trusted media have been selling you out for profit. You have all become clickbait targets instead of respected readers and viewers.
If Trump might lose the election today -or next week, next year, who knows- this entire model will be dead in no time. The media may try to carry on on the back of supposed litigation against him, but that will only go so far. They have bet on one horse, and then tried as hard as they could to cripple it, and now find themselves with nowhere left to turn.
In a way, that’s a good thing. No matter who wins the election, we will end up with better media. If Biden wins, the entire circus will just fizzle out, and if Trump wins, they will be found out. It’s high time. Unfortunately, the brains and minds of countless people will be scarred by the double whammy of Trump Derangement Syndrome and ever more lockdowns for a very long time to come.
But, you guessed it, we cannot talk about that.
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I guess it was perhaps inevitable, but today I find myself wondering what news to aggregate here. This is because Donald Trump has managed to now completely monopolize the media, and neatly divide it into two diametrically opposed camps. On the one hand there’s the camp that says the President is doing very well, on the other hand there are those who claim his condition is much graver that let on, and everybody’s lying who says it’s not.
It’s probably wise to realize that the media today is entirely based on a clickbait chase, and therefore on scandalizing and manipulating everything. The aim is not to inform people, but to make them click and read, click and read, rinse and repeat. Brought to you by their sponsors.
Personally, I think it would take a Herculean effort to get so many doctors and others in on the Big Lie, but on the other hand it’s entirely logical if the reports on his condition are skewed towards the positive. One would think that in normal times the press and the people could wait a few days to see how the disease evolves, but that doesn’t produce clickbait, which translates into no revenue. So that’s out.
I like this quote someone tweeted: “Burroughs once explained the phrase “Naked Lunch” as referring to “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.” A better line than any in the book itself, I should say, and the perfect description of America this morning.”
But I thought I wouldn’t join that big effort here today, even if that leaves precious little other news. Still, here’s Trump speaking:
German lawyer COVID scandal
British scientists have launched a major study aimed at uncovering the critical role that human antibodies and other immune defences play in the severity of Covid-19 cases. Results could support some scientists’ belief that antibodies triggered by common colds could be protecting children against the disease. Alternatively, the study could confirm other researchers’ fears that some immune responses to the virus may trigger deadly inflammatory reactions that could bedevil attempts to create anti-Covid vaccines. “This study could go in two very different directions,” said Michael Levin, professor of paediatrics at Imperial College London. “It could reveal that cross-reacting antibodies explain why children are less likely to suffer from severe Covid-19, or it might show patients’ own immune responses cause life-threatening effects.”
The study is being carried out by Levin’s group, a team led by Professor George Kassiotis at London’s Francis Crick Institute, and scientists led by Dan Davis, University College London. They will use thousands of samples which have been collected as part of existing studies funded by the EU and Wellcome. Much of the groups’ work will focus on antibodies, key immune defence proteins that bind on to viruses to block their activity. When Covid-19 first appeared, scientists began searching for antibodies against the virus in patients and healthy individuals and to their surprise found them not just in samples taken from recently infected people but in specimens that had been collected before the pandemic began.
“We discovered a small group – about 6% of the UK population – already had antibodies that could recognise the new virus, although they’ve never been exposed to it,” said Kassiotis. “We realised there must be cross reactivity occurring between common cold coronaviruses and the new pandemic strain. Both are coronaviruses, after all.” Coronaviruses cause about a fifth of UK common colds and antibodies triggered by them latch on to the Covid-19 virus. But could they actually be blocking Covid activity? “Our laboratory experiments suggest this may be the case,” Kassiotis said. “These antibodies may actually protect against Covid-19.”
Adults get common colds caused by coronaviruses once every two or three years. In contrast children get them five or six times a year because they constantly reinfect each other at school, said Kassiotis. As a result about 60% of them have coronavirus antibodies, 10 times the adult level. “Children do not generally get severe Covid-19 and I believe that protection is provided by cross-reacting antibodies triggered by repeating coronavirus colds,” said Kassiotis.
“It typically takes about four days for Covid-19 symptoms to present, so early next week sometime the world will know if the bug made the president sick or if he shook it off like just another impeachment effort.”
The New York Times almost wet its panties breaking the pre-dawn news that the president has tested positive for coronavirus. By the end of day, Democrats across the land — or, at least, up and down the east and west coasts — will be gathering unto Santeria shrines, lighting MAGA hats on fire, sacrificing chickens, drawing Wiccan pentangles in the moonlight, and entreating all the other unseen powers of Providence to rapture Mr. Trump into everlasting oblivion somewhere beyond the crab nebula. The Judeo-Christian God of our fathers must have a special animus for the Golden Golem of Greatness. He / She / It / or They have heaped more tribulation on Mr. Trump than on the biblical Job of Uz, anguishing in Yahweh’s holy whirlwind.
RussiaGate, VeryFinePeopleGate, UkraineGate, BoltonGate, now this! It typically takes about four days for Covid-19 symptoms to present, so early next week sometime the world will know if the bug made the president sick or if he shook it off like just another impeachment effort. The ordeal will also be an interesting test of the hydroxychloroquine + zinc regimen Mr. Trump says he’s been on. The joyful hysteria in the mainstream news is so boisterous this morning that The Times hasn’t even played its obvious next card, which, I guarantee you, will be an effort to postpone the hearings over SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett on account of coronavirus being on-the-loose among government officials.
I’m pretty sure that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will keep a firm hand on the tiller of that ship — even if the darn proceeding has to go full Zoom meeting, they will git’er done (as we say in Deplorable Land). If the virus doesn’t knock Mr. Trump on his ass, I imagine we’ll be seeing quite a lot of him campaigning by video in quarantine, old game-show performer that he is. I wouldn’t even rule out some updated Oval Office versions of The Apprentice, with the president taking the opportunity to dismiss a few of the seditionists still lurking in government. Gina Haspel, you’re fired! Christopher Wray, you’re fired! Michael Horowitz, take a hike! General Mark Milley, you’re busted to corporal! Remember, the old Chinese word for crisis, weiji, means a combo of danger and opportunity.
Much ink has been spilled in recent weeks over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement that it will now, in effect, target inflation over the whole cycle. The message from the rest of the developed world’s central banks is similar: Most say that if necessary they’ll do more to get inflation back on target. This week Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central bank, laid the groundwork for following the Fed. The ECB will now also allow inflation to overshoot on the upside. Presumably such comments are meant to reassure the handful of people still worried that central banks might move a little hastily once the effects of the pandemic have dissipated and growth and inflation start to pick up.
Economists, strategists and investors have parsed their comments, altered their forecasts and placed their chips accordingly. Yet any discussion of whether inflation targeting is a good thing has been notable by its absence, even before large swathes of the economy were shut down by government edict. This is strange, because to anyone who’s not a central banker it has become increasingly clear that inflation targeting is a policy of great stupidity. When they introduced inflation targeting, starting with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in 1990, central banks doubtless worried about too much inflation, given their experience in the previous couple of decades. Since the turn of the century, however, they’ve largely been trying to counter disinflationary forces. Not very successfully, it must be said.
In trying to increase by a fairly random amount an index of prices that they largely can’t or shouldn’t control, central banks couldn’t have done much more harm. They’ve crushed the savings and finance industry by slashing interest rates to historically low levels and driven the prices of all financial assets to a point where the phrase “unprecedented” scarcely covers it. Interest rates, bonds, credit, equities, foreign exchange: Not a single market is unmanipulated by central banks. By encouraging sky-high asset prices and huge leverage, they’ve made it far more likely that the world ends up with the sort of debt deflation that helped make the 1930s depression so awful. Or, failing that, they may be setting us up for an inflationary burst that would hammer the price of pretty much every financial asset.
The problems start with what central bankers are trying to achieve. Presumably, if they’re to look at inflation at all, they should look only at inflation over which they have some control, to whit domestically generated inflation (broadly, non-traded inflation). However, overall inflation measures also include tradable inflation, which relates essentially to imported goods. For the biggest economies, roughly a third of overall inflation comes from tradable inflation. And whilst non-traded inflation has remained very stable over the years, the tradable slice has really only headed in one direction: down. Since the global financial crisis, U.S. traded goods prices have fallen about 10 percentage points.
Crucially, these prices are set by North Asia in general and China in particular. If domestic inflation is stable, then the change in the overall consumer-price index must be driven by the far more volatile tradable part. Both the overall direction and the cyclical moves in G7 inflation are thus set by China.
Assange exposed Western hypocrisy and discovered “too much truth,” so his trial became a form of “revenge,” journalist and filmmaker John Pilger told RT’s Going Underground. The main part of the extradition trial of Julian Assange came to a conclusion this week, and a decision is now expected to be announced in early January. Pilger, a long-time supporter of the WikiLeaks founder, closely monitored the proceedings, which were barely covered in the Western media despite the serious repercussions for journalism that a ruling to extradite Assange would entail. Assange’s demise came because he provided “too much truth” and exposed Western hypocrisy, Pilger believes. “He made those who committed those war crimes, he forced them to look in the mirror… That’s his unforgivable crime.”
The West’s self-perception is that it generally doesn’t do awful things, and that its politicians are mostly truthful and are held in check by an independent media. WikiLeaks showed all these things not to be true, Pilger said. As a result, Assange was blatantly mistreated by the British justice system, both during his September trial at London’s Old Bailey and before that. He received an unprecedentedly harsh sentence for skipping bail, was locked up in a maximum-security prison with terrorists and violent criminals, was prevented from communicating with his defense team in a reasonable way, and faced numerous other injustices. “There has not been due process in this court; there has been due revenge.”
Should Assange be extradited to the US and tried for things that are no different from what many other investigative journalists did for decades, it would set a dangerous precedent, Pilger warned. It would send a signal that the US can get to anyone in any country who dares to publish anything that is not to Washington’s liking.
The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge. Putting aside the ritual associated with ‘British justice’, at times it has been evocative of a Stalinist show trial. One difference is that in the show trials, the defendant stood in the court proper. In the Assange trial, the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers. His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, was then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole.
Consider this daily routine of Julian Assange, an Australian on trial for truth-telling journalism. He was woken at five o’clock in his cell at Belmarsh prison in the bleak southern sprawl of London. The first time I saw Julian in Belmarsh, having passed through half an hour of ‘security’ checks, including a dog’s snout in my rear, I found a painfully thin figure sitting alone wearing a yellow armband. He had lost more than 10 kilos in a matter of months; his arms had no muscle. His first words were: ‘I think I am losing my mind’.
I tried to assure him he wasn’t. His resilience and courage are formidable, but there is a limit. That was more than a year ago. In the past three weeks, in the pre-dawn, he was strip-searched, shackled, and prepared for transport to the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in a truck that his partner, Stella Moris, described as an upended coffin. It had one small window; he had to stand precariously to look out. The truck and its guards were operated by Serco, one of many politically connected companies that run much of Boris Johnson’s Britain.
The journey to the Old Bailey took at least an hour and a half. That’s a minimum of three hours being jolted through snail-like traffic every day. He was led into his narrow cage at the back of the court, then look up, blinking, trying to make out faces in the public gallery through the reflection of the glass. He saw the courtly figure of his dad, John Shipton, and me, and our fists went up. Through the glass, he reached out to touch fingers with Stella, who is a lawyer and seated in the body of the court.
We were here for the ultimate of what the philosopher Guy Debord called The Society of the Spectacle: a man fighting for his life. Yet his crime is to have performed an epic public service: revealing that which we have a right to know: the lies of our governments and the crimes they commit in our name. His creation of WikiLeaks and its failsafe protection of sources revolutionised journalism, restoring it to the vision of its idealists. Edmund Burke’s notion of free journalism as a fourth estate is now a fifth estate that shines a light on those who diminish the very meaning of democracy with their criminal secrecy. That’s why his punishment is so extreme.
The FBI in the United Kingdom enlisted the Ecuador government’s help in seizing legally privileged materials from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was arrested and expelled from their embassy in London on April 11, 2019. According to Gareth Peirce, one of Assange’s attorneys, that day she “made immediate contact with the embassy in regard to legally privileged material, an issue of huge concern.” Assange wanted the material—in addition to “confidential medical data”—”identified and released to his lawyers.” “Repeated requests by telephone, email and recorded delivery mail were entirely ignored by the embassy,” and in testimony submitted during the final day of evidence in Assange’s extradition trial, the embassy has never responded.
“One record of [Assange’s] entire archive” was effectively purloined, and without it, Peirce mentioned it has made putting together a defense in his extradition case more difficult because the initial allegations relate to communications, meetings, and events from 2010 and 2011. Proceedings in the evidentiary portion of Assange’s extradition trial concluded on October 1, and Judge Vanessa Baraitser announced she would rule on the request from the United States government on January 4, 2021. Before the last day wrapped, multiple statements from Peirce related to abuses of process in the case were entered into the record. They included details related to the espionage operation the Spanish security company UC Global carried out against Assange with the support of U.S. intelligence.
Peirce’s law firm Birnberg, Pierce & Partners asked the Australian Consulate in London for intervention because Assange is an Australian citizen. The Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom claimed they played no role in the seizure or retention of any legally privileged materials. On May 20, 2019, the Australian Consulate received a request for Assange’s property to be “transferred to Ecuador.” The firm was invited to collect any “remaining possessions” that were not seized. When Assange’s property was collected shortly after, Peirce stated, “All legally privileged material was missing save for two volumes of Supreme Court documents and a number of pages of loose correspondence.”
Jargon is commonly used to efficiently communicate and signal group membership. We propose that jargon use also serves a status compensation function. We first define jargon and distinguish it from slang and technical language. Nine studies, including experiments and archival data analyses, test whether low status increases jargon use. Analyses of 64,000 dissertations found that titles produced by authors from lower-status schools included more jargon than titles from higher-status school authors. Experimental manipulations established that low status causally increases jargon use, even in live conversations.
Statistical mediation and experimental-causal-chain analyses demonstrated that the low status i! jargon effect is driven by increased concern with audience evaluations over conversational clarity. Additional archival and experimental evidence found that acronyms and legalese serve a similar status-compensation function as other forms of jargon (e.g., complex language). These findings establish a new driver of jargon use and demonstrate that communication, like consumption, can be both compensatory and conspicuous.
COVID-19 is as politically-charged as it is infectious. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO, the CDC and NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci discouraged wearing masks as not useful for non-health care workers. Now they recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are hard to do (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The recommendation was published without a single scientific paper or other information provided to support that cloth masks actually provide any respiratory protection. Let’s look at the data.
The theory behind mask wearing:
Source control: Cloth mask can trap droplets that come out of a person’s mouth when they cough or sneeze.
Protection: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – only N95 masks
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2
Note: A COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) particle is 0.125 micrometers/microns (μm); influenza virus size is 0.08 – 0.12 μm; a human hair is about 150 μm.
*1 nm = 0.001 micron; 1000 nm = 1 micron; Micrometer (μm) is the preferred name for micron
*1 meter is = 1,000,000,000 [trillion] nm or 1,000,000 [million] microns
Virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
In an air conditioned environment these large droplets may travel farther.
Ventilation. Even the opening of an entrance door and a small window can dilute the number of small droplets to one half after 30 seconds. (This study looked at droplets from uninfected persons). This is clinically relevant because poorly ventilated and populated spaces, like public transport and nursing homes, have high SARS-CoV-2 disease transmission despite physical distancing.
Since 1961, experiments showed that viral-pathogen-carrying droplets were inactivated within shorter and shorter times as ambient humidity was increased. Dryness drives the small aerosol particles. See e.g., review of studies, https://aaqr.org/articles/aaqr-20-06-covid-0302
The preponderance of scientific evidence supports that aerosols play a critical role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Years of dose response studies indicate that if anything gets through, you will become infected.
Thus, any respiratory protection respirator or mask must provide a high level of filtration and fit to be highly effective in preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. (Works for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (3μm)
Public health authorities define a significant exposure to COVID-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic COVID-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes).
The chance of catching COVID-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal.