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


Fred Stein Paris evening 1934

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And they say Trump’s a liar….

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

 

 

Carson on Biden 1987

 

 

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

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

COVID – Why Terminology Really, Really Matters (Kendrick)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Where Is Biden’s Ground Game? (TMI)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Assange Hearing Day 11 (Craig Murray)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ellsberg

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

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

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

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

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

You want to oppose Trump?

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Chomsky as a partisan shill is not a pretty sight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Accordion Trump

Tucker color revolution

 

 

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Sep 022020
 
 September 2, 2020  Posted by at 9:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman 1475-80

 

Trump Administration Issues Sweeping Eviction Ban (Hill)
Trump Knocks Fauci: ‘I Inherited Him’ (Hill)
Fauci: COVID Vaccine Trials Could End Early If Results Are Overwhelming (KHN)
Dem Group Warns Of Apparent Trump Election Day Landslide (Axios)
CIA Conduct During Russia Assessment May Be Next Boomerang (Solomon)
FBI Investigated Trump As Comey Said He Wasn’t Under Investigation (JTN)
Judge Sullivan Files Order Dragging Out Flynn Case Past Election (CT)
How an “Act of God” Pandemic Is Destroying the West (Michael Hudson)
Fed Now Owns Nearly One Third of All US Mortgages (Mish)
California Democrats Kill Gas and Oil Regulations (Horn)
Erdogan Asked His Generals To Sink Greek Ship Or Shoot Down Fighter Jet (KTG)
Journalists Paved Assange’s Path To A US Gulag (Cook)

 

 

We need rapid tests and HCQ, zinc, lots of them all. The numbers are not decreasing nearly fast enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb Fragility + Pandemic

 

 

Election time.

Trump Administration Issues Sweeping Eviction Ban (Hill)

The Trump administration issued an order Tuesday banning landlords from evicting tenants from properties they can no longer afford to rent due to income lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The order, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would make it illegal to evict any individual who expects to make less than $99,000 or a joint-filing couple that expects to make less than $198,000 in 2020. The tenants would still be required to pay rent owed per the terms of the lease, but will be allowed to stay in their unit through the end of the year. “President Trump is committed to helping hardworking Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus. Today’s announcement from his administration means that people are struggling to pay rent and risk further spreading of exposure to the disease, due to economic hardship,” said White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern.


The national eviction ban was issued under a federal law that gives the CDC director authority to impose measures to prevent the spread of communicable disease “as he [or] she deems necessary.” The provision specifically refers to filling the gaps left by “inadequate” state-imposed public health measures and does not directly mention financial aid or overriding contracts between citizens, raising questions about its legality. In order to qualify for the eviction protection, a tenant must declare that their 2020 income will fall below the threshold set out in the order; they’ve sought all potential sources of federal housing aid; and that they cannot afford to pay the rent due to a pandemic-related job loss or expense despite their best efforts to do so.

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Trump gets the blame for the pandemic, but Fauci is the go-to guy.

Trump Knocks Fauci: ‘I Inherited Him’ (Hill)

President Trump on Monday questioned the value of Anthony Fauci to the White House coronavirus task force, saying in an interview with Fox News that he “inherited” the government’s top infectious disease expert. “I disagree with a lot of what he said,” Trump told Laura Ingraham when asked if he would put Fauci “front and center” in the pandemic response if he could do it again. “I get along with him, but every once in a while, he’ll come up with one that I say, ‘Where did that come from?'” Trump continued. “I inherited him. He was here. He was part of this huge piece of machine.” The president reiterated his claim that Fauci opposed his decision to restrict travel from China in January. Fauci indicated at the time he did not think it was a good idea, though he later said it had bought the U.S. time to fight the virus.


Trump has repeatedly undermined and criticized Fauci. Last month, he retweeted a message that said Fauci “has misled the American public on many issues, but in particular, on dismissing #hydroxychloroquine and calling Remdesivir the new gold standard.” He also has said Fauci is a nice man but has “made a lot of mistakes.” Other White House officials, such as trade adviser Peter Navarro, have openly attacked Fauci in public. Fauci has been among the most visible members of the White House coronavirus task force, giving frequent media interviews. However, he has largely been cut out of recent public White House events around the pandemic, as has Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the administration’s coronavirus response.

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Empty blah.

Fauci: COVID Vaccine Trials Could End Early If Results Are Overwhelming (KHN)

A COVID-19 vaccine could be available earlier than expected if ongoing clinical trials produce overwhelmingly positive results, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, in an interview Tuesday with KHN. Although two ongoing clinical trials of 30,000 volunteers are expected to conclude by the end of the year, Fauci said an independent board has the authority to end the trials weeks early if interim results are overwhelmingly positive or negative. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board could say, “‘The data is so good right now that you can say it’s safe and effective,’” Fauci said. In that case, researchers would have “a moral obligation” to end the trial early and make the active vaccine available to everyone in the study, including those who had been given placebos — and accelerate the process to give the vaccine to millions.


Fauci’s comments come at a time of growing concern about whether political pressure from the Trump administration could influence federal regulators and scientists overseeing the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and erode shaky public confidence in vaccines. Prominent vaccine experts have said they fear Trump is pushing for an early vaccine approval to help win reelection. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he trusts the independent members of the DSMB — who are not government employees — to hold vaccines to high standards without being politically influenced. Members of the board are typically experts in vaccine science and biostatistics who teach at major medical schools. “If you are making a decision about the vaccine, you’d better be sure you have very good evidence that it is both safe and effective,” Fauci said. “I’m not concerned about political pressure.”

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It’ll be mayhem. Good for the lawyers, bad for everyone else. The US will be lucky not to have a civil war.

Dem Group Warns Of Apparent Trump Election Day Landslide (Axios)

A top Democratic data and analytics firm told “Axios on HBO” it’s highly likely that President Trump will appear to have won — potentially in a landslide — on election night, even if he ultimately loses when all the votes are counted. Way more Democrats will vote by mail than Republicans, due to fears of the coronavirus, and it will take days if not weeks to tally these. This means Trump, thanks to Republicans doing almost all of their voting in person, could hold big electoral college and popular vote leads on election night. Imagine America, with its polarization and misinformation, if the vote tally swings wildly toward Joe Biden and Trump loses days later as the mail ballots are counted.

That is what this group, Hawkfish, which is funded by Michael Bloomberg and also does work for the Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden Super PACs, is warning is a very real, if not foreordained, outcome.Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn calls the scenario a “red mirage.” “We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump,” he said. “When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after Election Day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage,” Mendelsohn said. “It looked like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted.”

Under one of the group’s modeling scenarios, Trump could hold a projected lead of 408-130 electoral votes on election night, if only 15% of the vote by mail (VBM) ballots had been counted. Once 75% of mail ballots were counted, perhaps four days later, the lead could flip to Biden’s favor. This particular modeling scenario portrays Biden as ultimately winning a massive victory, 334-204.

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These things need much more scrutiny.

CIA Conduct During Russia Assessment May Be Next Boomerang (Solomon)

By his own admission, ex-CIA Director John Brennan chafed at being questioned earlier this month by federal prosecutor John Durham about the Obama administration’s intelligence assessment that Russia’s meddling in 2016 election was designed to help Donald Trump. Brennan “questioned why the analytic tradecraft and the findings of the ICA are being scrutinized by the Department of Justice, especially since they have been validated by the Mueller Report and the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Review,” a statement issued by his spokesman Nick Shapiro said. The answer, according to multiple officials familiar with the evidence, is that the House intelligence committee in 2018 sent a secret report to the CIA inspector general that called into question the tradecraft used in the Brennan-led assessment.

Specifically, the officials said, it highlighted dissent and doubts by some intelligence community analysts about Vladimir Putin’s intentions in intervening in the 2016 election. Some believed it was to help Trump; others believed it was simply to sow chaos without picking a winner, and still others saw evidence Putin might have preferred Hillary Clinton, the officials said. In other words, an assessment that was portrayed as unanimous when it was made public in early January 2017 was anything but at the analyst level, according to Fred Fleitz, a longtime intelligence officer who was briefed on the House intelligence committee’s concerns when he served as chief of staff in the National Security Council.

“When I was briefed on the House Intelligence Committee report on the January 2017 ICA, I was told that John Brennan politicized this assessment by excluding credible intelligence that the Russians wanted Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 election and ordered weak intelligence included that Russia wanted Trump to win, Fleitz told Just the News. “I also was told that Brennan took both actions over the objections of CIA analysts. I am concerned about what happened to these analysts and worry that they may have been subjected to retaliation by CIA management,” he added.

“These analysts are true whistleblowers, and they should come to the congressional intelligence committees to tell their stories and set the record straight on the ICA.” Officials said the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, who was a member of the House Intelligence Committee before joining the Trump administration, is considering declassifying parts or all of the House Intelligence Committee report to the inspector general. Ratcliffe hinted Sunday new releases of information are imminent. “I’m optimistic that I’ll be declassifying additional documents soon,” Ratcliffe told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.

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And Trump knew.

FBI Investigated Trump Tweets As Comey Said He Wasn’t Under Investigation (JTN)

The conservative watchdog Judicial Watch says it has received more than 300 pages of emails between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page that includes records of the FBI discussing an investigation into tweets sent by President Trump in early 2017 about the agency spying on him at the behest of former President Obama. In a March 2017 exchange, Strzok emails several of his colleagues, including Page, about several tweets the President Trump had sent earlier in the month commenting on suspected wire tapping at Trump Tower during the 2016 election. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” wrote POTUS on March 4.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” Trump continued. “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” He concluded the March 4 tweet storm with: “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate Bad (or sick) guy!” On March 29, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey’s chief of staff emailed Strzok, Page and several of their colleagues saying that the director would like a briefing on a “sensitive matter.”

A followup email says that Comey requested the briefing so that he would be able to brief then-acting U.S. Attorney General Dana Boente. One week after the email exchange and director’s briefing, the second renewal and order of the FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was filed. The new emails also detail exchanges between FBI officials and reporters at CNN and the New York Times pertaining to the Russia investigation. [..] “These astonishing emails, which have been hidden for years, show the Comey FBI was investigating President Trump over his critical tweets of the agency and Obama’s spying abuse and misconduct,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These emails also show that Comey was intimately involved with illegal and dishonest FISA spy op against President Trump.”

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No coincidence.

Judge Sullivan Files Order Dragging Out Flynn Case Past Election (CT)

The minute order filed by Judge Emmet Sullivan outlines a protracted time-frame for the next sequence of events in the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. As noted in the order, Sullivan is now telling the DOJ and Flynn defense to file a joint status report outlining their “recommendation for further proceedings” by September 21, 2020. From there a briefing schedule which will require both parties to respond to Sullivan’s personal amicus (Gleeson), and additionally respond jointly to any other amicus not ordered by the court. Lastly, Sullivan is requesting three dates for oral arguments. In essence, despite his ability to quickly convene the parties to settle all matters before the court; which includes the unopposed motion by the DOJ and defense to drop the case; Sullivan intends to drag this case out as long as possible and use the amicus as a tool forcing responses from both parties (DOJ and Flynn). So much for the “quick dispatch” outlined within the DC Circuit opinion, this case is going on for several more months.

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Jubilee time.

How an “Act of God” Pandemic Is Destroying the West (Michael Hudson)

Before juxtaposing the U.S. and alternative responses to the coronavirus’s economic effects, I would like to step back in time to show how the pandemic has revealed a deep underlying problem. We are seeing the consequences of Western societies painting themselves into a debt corner by their creditor-oriented philosophy of law. Neoliberal anti-government (or more accurately, anti-democratic) ideology has centralized social planning and state power in “the market,” meaning specifically the financial market on Wall Street and in other financial centers. At issue is who will lose when employment and business activity are disrupted. Will it be creditors and landlords at the top of the economic scale, or debtors and renters at the bottom?

This age-old confrontation over how to deal with the unpaid rents, mortgages and other debt service is at the heart of today’s virus pandemic as large and small businesses, farms, restaurants and neighborhood stores have fallen into arrears, leaving businesses and households – along with their employees who have no wage income to pay these carrying charges that accrue each month. This is an age-old problem. It was solved in the ancient Near East simply by annulling these debt and rent charges. But the West, shaped as it still is by the legacy of the Roman Empire, has left itself prone to the massive unemployment, business closedowns and resulting arrears for these basic costs of living and doing business.

Western civilization distinguishes itself from its Near Eastern predecessors in the way it has responded to “acts of God” that disrupt the means of support and leave debts in their wake. The United States has taken the lead in rejecting the path by which China, and even social democratic European nations have prevented the coronavirus from causing widespread insolvency and polarizing their economies. The U.S. coronavirus lockdown is turning rent and debt arrears into an opportunity to impoverish the indebted economy and transfer mortgaged property and its income to creditors. There is no inherent material need for this fate to occur. But it seems so natural and even inevitable that, as Margaret Thatcher would say, There Is No Alternative. But of course there is, and always has been. However, resilience in the face of economic disruption always has required a central authority to override “market forces” to restore economic balance from “above.”

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How not to do a Jubilee.

Fed Now Owns Nearly One Third of All US Mortgages (Mish)

Nearly $7 Trillion in Securities, $2 Trillion Mortgages. As of August 26, 2020 the Fed’s Balance Sheet is nearly $7 trillion total of which $3.7 trillion are notes or bonds, and nearly $2 trillion in mortgages (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae).

Bloomberg reports No End in Sight to Fed’s Mortgage Buying Spree. • The Fed has snapped up $1 trillion of mortgage bonds since March. It bought around $300 billion of the bonds in each of March and April, and since then has been buying about $100 billion a month. • The Fed now owns almost a third of bonds backed by home loans in the U.S. • Buying the securities has pushed mortgage rates lower, with the average 30-year rate falling to 2.91% as of last week from 3.3% in early February. • Morgan Stanley analysts pointed out in late March that the buying was running at eight times the pace seen in prior episodes of Fed purchasing under programs known as quantitative easing. • Just before this latest round, principal payments from its mortgage bond holdings had whittled that down to 21%, but it has now increased back to 30%. • If the Fed maintains its current buying pace, it will again own 34% of the mortgage universe by year’s end.

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It was always just lip service.

California Democrats Kill Gas and Oil Regulations (Horn)

Big money from Big Oil and industry-tied unions has helped to kill a legislative effort to create environmental protections for communities living near oil and gas operations in California. On August 5, a 5-4 Senate committee vote struck down consideration of legislation calling for a 2,500-foot setback between future oil wells and homes, schools, and playgrounds. Only one of those votes came from a Republican. It was the second time in as many years that the bill, Assembly Bill 345, failed to pass, and it failed to do so even after several rounds of significant amendments had watered down the legislation. With that, a years-long activist-led legislative movement went up in smoke for 2020.

And then came the historically large wildfires. Within a matter of days, the state’s northern half caught fire at an epic scale, wildfires made worse from climate change and fueled by unfettered fossil fuel drilling. California oil is some of the dirtiest, from a climate change perspective, in the United States. Drilling for oil in the state also has major public health repercussions, an impetus driving AB 345. Recent studies have linked oil drilling in California to health impacts, including low birth weight and small gestational age, as well as preterm births. Research has also linked higher levels of industrial pollution to higher contraction rates of COVID-19. Despite these impacts, the bill attracted a core group of Democratic legislators who ultimately oversaw the bill’s demise.

Three of those who spoke out the most strongly against AB 345 at the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water hearing on August 5 before voting against it — senator Ben Hueso, senator Andreas Borgeas, and Senate majority leader Bob Hertzberg — have received high dollar contributions and other support from oil interests that lobbied against AB 345. The lobbying and influence campaign efforts waged by the oil industry and labor against AB 345 illustrates the difficulty in crafting climate policy and environmental protections — even in a state with a supermajority Democratic Party legislature that bills itself as a global leader on fighting climate change.

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Merkel needs to wake up.

Erdogan Asked His Generals To Sink Greek Ship Or Shoot Down Fighter Jet (KTG)

German conservative newspaper Die Welt reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to provoke a military incident with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to survive politically.In a report entitled “Erdogan’s calculated war,” the news paper said that “if it depended on the Turkish President, his navy would have sunk a Greek ship in the Mediterranean a long time ago.” Citing Turkish military sources, Die Welt wrote that Erdogan had asked Turkey generals a few days ago to sink a Greek ship and that they should do so securing that no one is killed in the process.


When the generals refused, someone else suggested shooting down a Greek fighter, and the pilot could use the launch pad to save himself. But Turkish generals again refused. Turkish and Greek Navy ships have been at standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea since Ankara sent seismic vessel Oruc Reis for hydrocarbon research in the Greek continental shelf beginning of August. Fighter jests of the two countries are often engaged in “dog fights” over the Aegean Sea because Turkey sends its F-16s to violate Greek air space.

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“He is the modern equivalent of a severed head on a pike displayed at the city gates.”

Journalists Paved Assange’s Path To A US Gulag (Cook)

Court hearings in Britain over the US administration’s extradition case against Julian Assange begin in earnest next week. The decade-long saga that brought us to this point should appall anyone who cares about our increasingly fragile freedoms. A journalist and publisher has been deprived of his liberty for 10 years. According to UN experts, he has been arbitrarily detained and tortured for much of that time through intense physical confinement and endless psychological pressure. He has been bugged and spied on by the CIA during his time in political asylum, in Ecuador’s London embassy, in ways that violated his most fundamental legal rights. The judge overseeing his hearings has a serious conflict of interest – with her family embedded in the UK security services – that she did not declare and which should have required her to recuse herself from the case.

All indicators are that Assange will be extradited to the US to face a rigged grand jury trial meant to ensure he sees out his days in a maximum-security prison, serving a sentence of up to 175 years. None of this happened in some Third-World, tinpot dictatorship. It happened right under our noses, in a major western capital, and in a state that claims to protect the rights of a free press. It happened not in the blink of an eye but in slow motion – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And once we strip out a sophisticated campaign of character assassination against Assange by western governments and a compliant media, the sole justification for this relentless attack on press freedom is that a 49-year-old man published documents exposing US war crimes.

That is the reason – and the only reason – that the US is seeking his extradition and why he has been languishing in what amounts to solitary confinement in Belmarsh high-security prison during the Covid-19 pandemic. His lawyers’ appeals for bail have been refused. While the press corps abandoned Assange a decade ago, echoing official talking points that pilloried him over toilet hygiene and his treatment of his cat, Assange is today exactly where he originally predicted he would be if western governments got their way. What awaits him is rendition to the US so he can be locked out of sight for the rest of his life.

There were two goals the US and UK set out to achieve through the visible persecution, confinement and torture of Assange. First, he and Wikileaks, the transparency organisation he co-founded, needed to be disabled. Engaging with Wikileaks had to be made too risky to contemplate for potential whistleblowers. That is why Chelsea Manning – the US soldier who passed on documents relating to US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan for which Assange now faces extradition – was similarly subjected to harsh imprisonment. She later faced punitive daily fines while in jail to pressure her into testifying against Assange.

The aim has been to discredit Wikileaks and similar organisations and stop them from being able to publish more revelatory documents – of the kind that show western governments are not the “good guys” managing world affairs for the benefit of mankind, but are in fact highly militarised, global bullies advancing the same ruthless colonial policies of war, destruction and pillage they always pursued. And second, Assange had to be made to suffer horribly and in public – to be made an example of – to deter other journalists from ever considering following in his footsteps. He is the modern equivalent of a severed head on a pike displayed at the city gates.

Read more …

 

 

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Taleb Being Lebanese

 

 

 

 

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Aug 062020
 


Laurits Andersen Ring At Breakfast 1898

 

Study Finds 98 “Long-Term” COVID-19 Symptoms Including Baldness (ZH)
Yates Throws “Rogue” Comey Under The Bus Over Flynn Investigation (ZH)
Yates Says Comey Went ‘Rogue’ On Flynn (SAC)
The D.C. Circuit Did Not ‘Bungle’ The General Flynn Case (F.)
This Is My Letter to America (Michael Flynn)
Twitter’s Comms Director Is Kamala Harris’ Former Press Secretary (DH)
Biden Leads Trump By 3 Points In National Poll (Hill)
Russian Bankers Seek Christopher Steele’s Testimony About His Dossier Source
Deutsche Bank Gave Donald Trump Financial Records To New York Prosecutors (G.)
Facebook Launches TikTok-Like Product Inside Instagram (R.)
China’s Leaders Face Global Resistance (Asia Times)

 

 

When former ADA Sally Yates testifies in the Senate, you would expect coverage everywhere. But the MSM entirely ignores it. Compare that to Bill Barr in the House last week. So it’s not in the interest of the public to know that Yates blamed James Comey for many things that went wrong? In whose interest is it to ignore the story?

That will be the story for the next three months, and the NYT, WaPo and CNN will not tell you, unless they perceive of an angle that looks bad for Trump. Your news is pre-cooked and bland.

I’ve accepted that I need to go to the right-wing press to get some of the stories I find relevant, but I don’t want only the right wing view. Alas, there is no balanced news anymore.

 

 

We’re at almost 2 million new cases per week.

 

 

 

 

If US deaths fall under 1,000 daily, I can lose this graph. Not too relevant anyway. But over 1,000 is just too high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprise for a disease that primarily affects your blood. It goes everywhere.

Study Finds 98 “Long-Term” COVID-19 Symptoms Including Baldness (ZH)

[..] in a study published recently by the University of Indiana School of Medicine happened on a surprising finding: those who suffer from long-term symptoms of the coronavirus – a group that the researchers nicknamed “long haulers” after a Facebook group where many go for help – can experience all kinds of surprising symptoms, including baldness (for both men and women). The study was conducted by a doctor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the grassroots COVID-19 survivor group Survivor Corps using a Facebook poll that was shared with a group of “long haulers”, whom the researchers thanked for sharing their time and experience.


The CDC has identified only 17 persistent COVID-19 symptoms, but the survey of more than 1,500 patients found 98 possible symptoms, according to Dr. Natalie Lambert, an associate research professor who worked on the study. “The new symptoms our study identified include severe nerve pain, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, blurry vision and even hair loss,” Lambert said in a written statement. While the CDC guidelines are helpful for the vast majority of COVID-19 sufferers, for those who are severely affected by the virus, a much broader world of potential symptoms opens up. Many of these symptoms aren’t included on the CDC’s list of common COVID-19 symptoms. And until now, the medical community hadn’t really recognized these symptoms as potentially tied to SARS-CoV-2.

In the report, the authors wrote that “the mismatch between the health problems people are experiencing and the information that they can find from official health sources is noticeable and a potential cause for concern,” outlining the motivation for their study. To be sure, media reports have documented a degree of versatility in virus symptoms. Some seriously ill patients experienced damage to their hearts along with the lungs and the vascular system – these symptoms, and the puzzle they presented for epidemiologists, were widely reported. [..] other symptoms, including “brain, whole body, joints, eye, and skin symptoms are also frequent-occurring health problems for people recovering from COVID-19”, [the team] wrote in the study. Another finding of the survey is that many “long haulers” who suffer from these extended symptoms report high levels of pain – 26.5% reported painful symptoms.

Read more …

Plenty headlines suggesting she told lie after lie. Let’s see if she gets called on them.

Yates Throws “Rogue” Comey Under The Bus Over Flynn Investigation (ZH)

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates threw former FBI Director James ‘higher loyalty’ Comey under the bus on Wednesday, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI’s January, 2017 interview of former national security adviser Michael Flynn was done without her authorization – and she was upset when she found out about it. “I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates said. We would note that Yates wasn’t too upset to warn the incoming Trump administration about Flynn just 48 hours after the FBI launched a perjury trap against him. Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Yates: “Did Comey go rogue?” – to which Yates replied “You could use that term, yes.”

“Yates said she also took issue with Comey for not telling her that Flynn’s communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were being investigated and that she first learned about this from President Barack Obama during an Oval Office meeting. Yates said she was “irritated” with Comey for not telling her about this earlier. That meeting, which took place on Jan. 5, 2017, was of great interest to Graham, who wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn’s conversations before she did. Graham and other Republicans have speculated that Obama wanted Flynn investigated for nefarious purposes. Yates claimed that this was not the case, and explained why Obama was aware of the calls at the time.” -Fox News

Yates testified that Obama wanted to find out why the Kremlin suddenly backed down from threats to retaliate against sanctions over 2016 election meddling, leading to the DOJ’s discovery of the communications between Flynn and the ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. “The purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn,” said Yates – who suggested that the meeting was not about influencing an investigation, which she added would have “set off alarms for me.”

Yates was also asked whether former VP Joe Biden brought up the 1799 Logal Act at a January 5 Oval Office meeting about the Flynn investigation, which prohibits American citizens from communicating with foreign governments or officials without authorization “in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” Yates said she couldn’t recall if Biden mentioned it – but had a vague recollection of Comey bringing it up either at the Oval Office meeting or later. Later during testimony, Yates said that she had no idea that the FISA applications to spy on the Trump campaign were riddled with false evidence – and also denied knowledge that her own deputy, Bruce Ohr, had facilitated meetings between the FBI and UK operative Christopher Steele, who assembled the infamous Clinton-funded dossier which was used to support the FISA warrant against former campaign aide Carter Page. Yates claimed that if she knew this was the case, she wouldn’t have signed off on the warrant.

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“..the FBI by January, 2017 had issued an internal classified memorandum that revealed that the bureau had no derogatory information on Flynn, nor anyone associated with him.”

Yates Says Comey Went ‘Rogue’ On Flynn (SAC)

Graham wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn’s conversations before Yates did. Graham’s concerns, then and now, are based on the long tumultuous history between Obama and Flynn during the last years of his tenure. That, coupled with mounting evidence that the FBI continued to pursue Flynn and members of Trump’s team based on no evidence or falsified evidence. Flynn, who was the director of the Defense Intelligence agency during the Obama administration, had confronted Obama on his failure to adequately inform the American people about the growing threat of terrorist organizations. Moreover, Flynn had vehemently disagreed with Obama’s Iran policy and was eventually fired by Obama from his position at the DIA.

Yates, however, said that Obama was aware of the Flynn calls at the time because “the purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn.” [..] Yates was also angry that the agents sent by Comey – Special Agent Peter Strzok and Special Agent Joe Pientka – did not inform Flynn that they were in possession of the conversations he had with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during December, 2016.


Testimony and information obtained during numerous congressional and DOJ Inspector General investigations reveals that the agents appeared to attempt to entrap Flynn. Ironically, Flynn was so open about his conversation and many other topics that the agents returned to FBI headquarters believing the three-star general did not lie to them. However, that didn’t stop Strzok, the lead agent, from continuing to pursue an unsubstantiated case against Flynn that was not predicated on any real tangible evidence. In fact, the FBI by January, 2017 had issued an internal classified memorandum that revealed that the bureau had no derogatory information on Flynn, nor anyone associated with him.

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Rare coverage from someone outside the right, in this case Forbes.

The D.C. Circuit Did Not ‘Bungle’ The General Flynn Case (F.)

A week ago Monday former federal appellate judge Michael Luttig took to The New York Times to attack the D.C. Circuit’s handling of the General Michael Flynn case. In an at times misleading and oddly vituperative op-ed, Mr. Luttig accuses the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit of not having “understood its own case” and of “bungl[ing] perhaps the most consequential political constitutional case in recent memory.” Serious charges from a respected sometime jurist would raise concerns if they were true; fortunately, a closer examination reveals that they are not. Judge Neomi Rao’s well-crafted and carefully reasoned opinion for the court, which veteran Judge Karen Henderson joined in full, covers the legal ground quite capably.

But it is worth debunking some of the external criticism targeting the Flynn panel majority’s mandamus ruling, if only to counteract any misimpression that something untoward happened in this important—albeit unduly politicized—appeal. Mr. Luttig’s piece gives a breezy description of how federal district court judge Emmet Sullivan responded to the government’s Rule 48(a) motion to dismiss the charges against General Flynn. He writes: “Judge Sullivan scheduled a hearing to determine whether to give that approval. Mr. Flynn, in turn, asked the higher court, the Court of Appeals, to dismiss his prosecution now, before Judge Sullivan decides whether to dismiss it.” Reading that abbreviated account, which skips much controversial context, could leave an observer wondering what all the hubbub is about.


Luttig does not just bury the lede, he practically buries the whole story. He omits how far out in the future the hearing was scheduled. He never mentions Judge Sullivan’s appointment of an amicus to “present arguments in opposition to the government’s Motion to Dismiss.” Nor that this amicus, retired federal district judge John Gleeson, had just published a Washington Post op-ed calling for harsher treatment of Flynn. Nor does Luttig note Sullivan’s highly unusual invitation for other amici to weigh in on charges in a criminal case. Nor that Sullivan had turned away some two dozen requests earlier in the proceedings for amicus briefs in Flynn’s favor. He also neglects to point out that Sullivan asked his appointed amicus to assess whether Gen. Flynn perjured himself (either in pleading guilty or in seeking to withdraw his guilty plea). Finally, he fails to describe Mr. Gleeson’s apparent intention to investigate conduct by the Department of Justice (DOJ) outside the record.

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The man’s been treated really badly, but what kind of letter is this?

This Is My Letter to America (Michael Flynn)

We are witnessing a vicious assault by enemies of all that is good, and our president is having to act in ways unprecedented in decades, maybe centuries. The biblical nature of good versus evil cannot be discounted as we examine what is happening on the streets of America. It’s Marxism in the form of antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement versus our very capable and very underappreciated law enforcement professionals, the vast majority of whom are fighting to provide us safe and secure homes, streets and communities. When the destiny of the United States is at stake, and it is, the very future of the entire world is threatened. As Christians, shouldn’t we act? We recognize that divine Providence is the ultimate judge of our destiny.

Achieving our destiny as a freedom-loving nation, Providence compels us to do our part in our communities. It encourages us in this battle against the forces of evil to face our fears head-on. No enemy on earth is stronger than the united forces of God-fearing, freedom-loving people. We can no longer pretend that these dark forces are going to go away by mere prayer alone. Prayers matter, but action is required. This action is needed at the local, state and federal levels. Action is also required in the economic, media, clerical and ecclesiastical realms. Decide how you can act within your abilities. Stand up and state your beliefs. Be proud of who you are and what you stand for.


And face, head-on, those community “leaders” who are willing to allow dark forces to go beyond peaceful protests and destroy and violate your safety and security. Churches and houses of worship must return to normal. We invite everyone of goodwill to not shirk their responsibilities and instead act in a fraternal fashion. If for no other reason or with no other ability, act in a spirit of charity. We cannot disrespect or disregard natural law along with our own religious liberties and freedoms. I am witnessing elderly people lose their connection to all that is good in their lives: connections to their faith, their families and their individual freedoms, especially the simple act of attending church, something they’ve been doing for decades.

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Harris not long ago wanted Trump thrown off Twitter altogether.She got halfway there.

Twitter’s Comms Director Is Kamala Harris’ Former Press Secretary (DH)

The communications director for Twitter, who happens to be Kamala Harris’ former press secretary, tweeted on Wednesday that the platform has required President Donald Trump’s campaign delete a tweet containing an interview with the president from their official account. Communications Director Nick Pacilio wrote that “the original Tweet from @TeamTrump is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation, and we’ve required removal.” The removal order comes after President Donald Trump quote tweeted their post, which was a video that they say contained “coronavirus misinformation.” During the interview, President Trump stated that kids are “almost immune” to Covid-19.


“The Tweet you referenced is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation. The account owner will be required to remove the tweet before they can tweet again,” Twitter said in a statement to USA TODAY. Facebook has also removed the video, citing a similar reason. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” Facebook said in a statement. The interview in question was with Fox & Friends and aired Wednesday morning. When asked during the White House briefing later that day about his assertion, Trump said: “If you look at children, they are able to throw it off very easily and it’s an amazing thing, because some flus they don’t, they get very sick. … They seem to be able to handle it very well, and that’s according to every statistic.”

Huber

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That’s a whole lot less than all the double digit polls I’ve seen.

Biden Leads Trump By 3 Points In National Poll (Hill)

If the 2020 Presidential election were held today, 43 percent of voters would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden while 40 percent would chose President Trump, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s lead fell from a 7 percentage points in a July 17-20 survey to 3 percentage points in this August 2-5 poll. Five percent of voters said they would cast their ballots for someone else if the election were held today, while 3 percent said they do not plan to vote. Nine percent of registered voters in the poll are still unsure. The survey found Trump made gains among voters in two key demographics.


Support among Midwestern voters rose from 38 percent two weeks ago to 42 percent in this most recent poll. Support for Biden among the same group fell from 45 percent to 39 percent. The president also edges out Biden among independents in the latest poll, with 35 percent support, a 4 percentage point increase from last survey. By contrast, 33 percent of independents prefer Joe Biden as their candidate for president. The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,850 registered voters between August 2 and 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.84 percentage points.

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And how is this not a story? It’s like Concord Management all over again. But if only the Daily Caller reports it, I’m supposed to ignore it too?

Russian Bankers Seek Christopher Steele’s Testimony About His Dossier Source (DC)

Lawyers for a trio of Russian bankers are seeking testimony in the U.S. from Christopher Steele regarding his contacts with Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst said to be the primary source for the former British spy’s infamous dossier on President Donald Trump. The bankers, who own Alfa Bank, asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to submit a formal request to the British court system to compel Steele’s testimony in a defamation lawsuit against opposition research firm Fusion GPS and its co-founder, Glenn Simpson. Lawyers for the bankers said in the court filing that information from Steele regarding Danchenko is “relevant to the reliability” of the dossier. It could also show whether Fusion GPS knew that Danchenko was Steele’s source, and whether information in the dossier regarding Alfa Bank was inaccurate before they shared it with journalists in 2016.

The Alfa Bank owners, Mikhail Fridman, Peter Aven and German Khan, are suing Fusion GPS and Simpson, over a Sept. 14, 2016 memo from the dossier that alleged the bankers had an “illicit” relationship with Vladimir Putin, and had bribed him for decades. Lawyers for the bankers are required to submit a request for international judicial assistance because the targets are all British citizens and are not required to comply with subpoenas filed in the U.S. Danchenko, a Russian national who lives in Washington, D.C., was identified last month as Steele’s primary source of information for the dossier. Lawyers for the Alfa trio said that Steele’s interactions with Danchenko are relevant to the lawsuit because the information would show whether the ex-spy distributed the dossier “negligently or recklessly.” “It is expected that Mr. Steele will be able to provide crucial and relevant testimony on a number of topics,” the lawyers said in the court filing.


They are seeking Steele’s testimony and documents regarding communications with Danchenko from April 1, 2016 to Oct. 3, 2017. They are also seeking information from Steele’s business partner, Christopher Burrows, a Fusion GPS contractor named Edward Baumgartner and Sir Andrew Wood, a former British diplomat who served as a conduit between Steele and Sen. John McCain. Fusion GPS hired Steele on behalf of the law firm for the Clinton campaign in April 2016 to investigate Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Steele, a former MI6 officer, asked Danchenko to collect any information he could on Trump. Danchenko worked as an independent contractor for Steele’s London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence. Many of the dossier’s most salacious allegations have either been debunked outright or come under intense scrutiny in the three-plus years since the document was published.

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He made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Deutsche Bank Gave Donald Trump Financial Records To New York Prosecutors (G.)

New York prosecutors investigating Donald Trump’s finances previously issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank, one of the foremost lenders to the president’s business, as part of their inquiry – and the bank complied, according to the New York Times. The office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, is seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted the prosecutor and his team to request the records beyond payoffs to women to silence them about alleged affairs with Trump in the past. Lawyers for Vance told a judge in New York on Monday that he was justified in demanding the records from Trump, citing public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization”.


A report emerged Wednesday that Vance’s office subpoenaed the German lender last year in what the New York Times said was a sign that their criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known. The report noted that this appeared to be the first instance of a criminal inquiry involving Trump and his dealings with Deutsche Bank. The German bank, which has been a longstanding source of financing to Trump’s real estate empire, obeyed the subpoena and handed over records supplied by Trump to the bank during the course of applying for loans, the report said, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the investigation. Trump’s lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the president’s tax returns was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment.

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TikTok RipOff.

Facebook Launches TikTok-Like Product Inside Instagram (R.)

Facebook rolled out its own version of social media rival TikTok in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday, embedding a new short-form video service called Reels as a feature within its popular Instagram app. The product immediately got uptake with several celebrities, following a push by Facebook to attract creative talent before launch: actress Jessica Alba posted a video with her family promoting her Honest Company’s masks, while comedian Mindy Kaling showed off an intentionally underwhelming quarantine “workout” routine. Reels’ debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s ByteDance.


ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House, which has threatened to ban it and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns. The launch escalates a bruising fight between Facebook and TikTok, with each casting the other as a threat. Both have been eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have flocked to TikTok in the last two years. Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 and then later in France, Germany and India, which was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month following a border clash with China. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso which did not gain much traction.

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“So long as the Chinese public, out of nationalism or national loyalty, do not challenge the government narrative, they are safe.”

China’s Leaders Face Global Resistance (Asia Times)

For years, many countries, directly or indirectly, submitted to Beijing’s power to preserve their lucrative trade with China. This bolstered the ego of not only the Communist Party of China but also Chinese netizens, making them believe in China’s power and its rise. By using the country’s economic muscle, the CPC propagated the credibility of its so-called socialism with Chinese characteristics both at home and abroad. Now, however, we have begun to see something different: the world gradually rejecting Chinese economic power. Of course, there are still several developing, relatively small, countries in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere committed to their relations with China. But does that make a big difference if China has lost its grip on powerful partners in the West?

India and the US have tightened their strategic friendship to undermine China. The British government has reversed its policy and banned Huawei from its 5G (fifth generation) telecom network. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, has strongly condemned the new security law Beijing has imposed on Hong Kong. Sharp differences between China and the European Union have been exposed over many issues such as Hong Kong, cybersecurity and human rights. The EU has thus given a signal that it will hold a “new defensive approach toward China.” Germany was China’s most important stronghold in the EU, but it has suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong and closed Confucius Institutes in many of its universities.


Surprisingly, Australia has emerged as the leading voice pushing an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and has announced a nearly US$1 billion investment in cybersecurity to challenge the CPC. In response to a Chinese incursion, Japan sent fighter jets to patrol the Senkaku Islands and joined other countries expressing concern over China’s new security law for Hong Kong. After banning 59 Chinese apps recently, India has announced a ban of 47 clones related to China-owned mobile applications. India is the biggest market for Chinese information-technology companies. Do the leaders in Beijing think that they are losing the diplomatic fight? “If you [look] from the perspective of China, it is not losing,” Dibyesh Anand, China-India geopolitical expert at the University of Westminster, said at the Oxford Tibetan Summer School Conference. “So long as the Chinese public, out of nationalism or national loyalty, do not challenge the government narrative, they are safe.”

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75 years ago today.

 

 

Obamagate

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 272020
 


BIS/OWI Battle of Britain. Children in an English bomb shelter 1940/41

 

Texas Hospital CEO: Covid Inpatient Count ‘Misinterpreted’ (JTN)
The Many Health Problems Caused By COVID19 (R.)
Museum of Human Rights CEO Resigns After Allegations Of Systemic Racism (CP)
Amsterdam Ejects Airbnb et al From Three Central Districts (TC)
UK to Scrap Quarantine For Travel to Greece (GR)
The Central Bank “Bailout of Everything” Will Be a Disaster (Lacalle)
Bait and Switch (Jim Kunstler)
Comey Miniseries Gets Pre-Election Airdate (JTN)

 

 

Sorry I’m late, but I walked away from my machine earlier today and went out for an early beer outside in the still wonderfully still city of Athens, because it is all too depressing to see things getting so much worse fast, not better.

I’m starting to feel like one of those reporters, if not lawyers, who listen to police scanners and chase ambulances for a living. There must have been disaster movies made that depict this kind of pandemic, but I can’t imagine any of them portraying the levels of ignorance and incompetence we’re witnessing in real life here.

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 26 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 194.190.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 46,409
• Brazil + 46,860
• India + 18,002

 

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve had enough of this “it’s not so bad” stuff. Half a million dead people means you be careful with claims like that.

This particular piece wants to tell you that hospitalized people may have some other ailment too, but then if you read on you see that not even everyone who enters a hospital is tested(!) for COVID19.

Which makes it a non-story right there.

Texas Hospital CEO: COVID Inpatient Count ‘Misinterpreted’ (JTN)

Health officials in Texas are logging every single COVID-19-positive hospital patient in the state as a COVID-19 hospitalization, even if the patients themselves are admitted seeking treatment for something other than the coronavirus. That policy may be serving to artificially inflate what ostensibly seems like a significant COVID-19 surge in the state. Texas has lately been the focal point of national anxiety over concerns that a “second wave” of the coronavirus has begun there after the state began reopening nearly two months ago. COVID-19 hospitalizations there have been on a steady upward track for about the last two weeks, per the state’s coronavirus dashboard, which on Thursday recorded about 4,400 coronavirus hospitalizations in the state.


But at least part of that trend may be due to liberal coding policies by state officials. Lindsey Rosales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, confirmed to Just the News this week that the state is categorizing every inpatient in the state with a positive COVID-19 test as a COVID-19 hospitalization. “The number of hospitalized patients includes patients with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 even if the person is admitted to the hospital for a different reason,” Rosales said. Asked if inpatients in the state are tested for COVID-19 whenever they arrive for treatment, Rosales said, “Hospitals set their own protocols for determining when and if to test patients for COVID-19.”

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“Scientists just beginning to understand…”

I haven’t said it in a while, but it’s still true: we don’t know anything yet.

A lot of infected people who don’t die from COVID19 are not going to recover, and will be incapacitated for years. Who’s going to pay?

The Many Health Problems Caused By COVID19 (R.)

Scientists are only starting to grasp the vast array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, some of which may have lingering effects on patients and health systems for years to come, according to doctors and infectious disease experts. Besides the respiratory issues that leave patients gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage. “We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion. And recovery can be slow, incomplete and costly, with a huge impact on quality of life. The broad and diverse manifestations of COVID-19 are somewhat unique, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. With influenza, people with underlying heart conditions are also at higher risk of complications, Khan said. What is surprising about this virus is the extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs. Khan believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19.

Patients who were in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks will need to spend extensive time in rehab to regain mobility and strength. “It can take up to seven days for every one day that you’re hospitalized to recover that type of strength,” Khan said. “It’s harder the older you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.” While much of the focus has been on the minority of patients who experience severe disease, doctors increasingly are looking to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalization, but are still suffering months after first becoming infected.

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Picked this because of a new term for me: “othering”.

Is that a noun or also a verb?

Please advise me.

Do I “other” you when I say you’re beautiful?

Museum of Human Rights CEO Resigns After Allegations Of Systemic Racism (CP)

The president and CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has resigned following recent allegations of systemic racism, discrimination and claims of sexual harassment at the Winnipeg facility. The museum’s board of trustees says John Young has agreed that it is in the best interest of the museum that he step down, effective immediately. “We will act quickly to improve museum processes and our policies, and to rebuild relationships and trust with our staff and those we have let down, especially the Black and Indigenous communities, people of colour and LGBTQ2+ communities,” board chairwoman Pauline Rafferty said Thursday in a news release.“We apologize unreservedly for what has happened and we know that the fight against systemic racism, homophobia, inequality and all forms of othering must be ongoing, and must be a priority.”

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Fine by me, I’m no fan, but pretty ironic they do it at a time when there are no tourists around.

Amsterdam Ejects Airbnb et al From Three Central Districts (TC)

Another brick in the wall for vacation rental platforms: Amsterdam is booting Airbnb and other such platforms from three districts in the city’s old center from July 1, further tightening its rules for such services. In other districts in the famous city of canals, vacation rentals will only be permitted with a permit from next Wednesday, still for a maximum of 30 nights per year. The latest tightening of the city’s rules on Airbnb and similar platforms comes after a period of consultation with residents and organizations which city authorities say drew 780 responses — a full 75% of which supported banning the platforms from operating in the three central districts. “This [consultation] indicates that the subject is very much alive among Amsterdammers.


What is striking is that no less than 75% are in favor of a ban on holiday rentals in the three districts, said deputy mayor Laurens Ivens in a press release.. Furthermore, Ivens said the consultation exercise showed some support for a citywide ban on such platforms. However current pan-EU rules — notably the European Services Directive — limit how cities can respond to public sentiment against such services. Hence Amsterdam applying the ban to specific districts where it has been able to confirm tourism leads to major disruption.

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Countries that are not welcome in the EU: US, North Macedonia, Sweden, UK, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

UK to Scrap Quarantine For Travel to Greece (GR)

The UK government confirmed on Saturday that will scrap the requirement for holidaymakers to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK for trips Greece, France and Spain. Britons are among the biggest national groups visiting Greece every year but flights from the UK, which has seen a high rate of Covid-19 infections, are currently barred from Greek airports until at least June 30. The requirement for a 14-day quarantine was a major disincentive for British tourists. Instead of the quarantine there will be a traffic light system, with officials placing countries into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of coronavirus.

The Telegraph reported that as many as 50 countries could be included in the quarantine-free list when it is published on Wednesday, with restrictions lifted as soon as July 6. The move comes as Greek minister of Tourism told Reuters that the country hopes to be able to set up an “air bridge” with Britain that would allow British tourists to visit from mid-July. “I think that the most realistic prospect is around the middle of July to remove barriers from both sides,” minister Harry Theocharis told Reuters, adding that Greece was also waiting European Union guidelines on the issue. “We will keep looking at the (epidemiological) data and confirm this perhaps a few days before the middle of July,” he added.

Meanwhile, Greece’s hopes to welcome American visitors on July 1 are hanging by a thread as the European Union is considering barring tourists from the hard-hit United States at least until July 15. According to Greece’s state broadcaster ERT, the residents of a total of nine countries may be barred from visiting the nation until further notice due to epidemiological data as well as recent spikes in the number of coronavirus cases in these areas. While the information has yet to be officially confirmed by the European Union, the nine countries are reported to be: the United States, North Macedonia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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Yes, but… Look, at some point it’s not enough just stating the obvious.

Difficult questions aplenty, but let’s see some answers.

The Central Bank “Bailout of Everything” Will Be a Disaster (Lacalle)

Despite massive government and central bank stimuli, the global economy is seeing a concerning rise in defaults and delinquencies. The main central banks’ balance sheets (those of the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank, Bank of England, and People’s Bank Of China) have soared to a combined $20 trillion, while the fiscal easing announcements in the major economies exceed 7 percent of the world’s GDP according to Fitch Ratings. This is the biggest combined stimulus plan in history. However, businesses are closing at a record pace and unemployment has reached extremely elevated levels in many countries.

There is an important risk in what I call the “bailout of everything,” or the conscious decision by governments and central banks to provide any needed support to all sectors and companies with access to debt. Most of these stimulus packages and liquidity measures are aimed at supporting current government spending and providing liquidity to companies with assets, with access to debt, and in traditional sectors. It is not a surprise, then, that at the same time as we see the largest fiscal and monetary support plan since World War II, we are already witnessing two dangerous collateral effects: the rise of zombie companies and the collapse of small businesses and startups.

According to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the figure of global corporate bond defaults has risen to $50 billion in the second quarter of 2020 despite historic low interest rates and high liquidity. Additionally, according to Deutsche Bank and the Bank of International Settlements, the number of zombie companies in the eurozone and the US, large companies that cannot cover their interest expenses with operating profits, has rocketed to new all-time highs. In 2019 Professors Petroulakis (ECB) and Andrews (OECD) stated, “Europe’s productivity problem is partly due to the rise of zombie firms that crowd out growth opportunities for others”. This problem is only increasing in the current crisis.

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Kamala Harris is roadkill. All the rest are non-entities.

Bait and Switch (Jim Kunstler)

Suspicious minds may be prompted to wonder whether years of fake news from Wokesterdom’s media allies have finally produced the ultimate hoax: a completely fake candidate for president. Mr. Biden has gone-to-ground for three months since sweeping the Super Tuesday primaries by some strange coup of polling station magic. No campaign glad-handing, baby-kissing, and maiden-sniffing among those virus-saturated crowds for Uncle Joe this time around! And Gawd forbid any press conferences or spontaneous remarks — poor Mr. Biden tends to flub even his scripted statements. It’s a bit hard to imagine how his acceptance speech will go… and… Lordy… the debates! In the immortal words of rap impresario Jay-Z, “Nigga, Please!” (available on Amazon Music, by the way— thank you, Jeff Bezos, humanitarian).


This Joe Biden thang is being set up as some kind of bait-and-switch, but the scheme is a little too obvious, dontcha think? Mr. Biden has obliged himself to choose a “woman-of-color” as his running mate, of course, and so it is assumed that about twenty minutes after the swearing-in on January 20, 2021, Stacey Abrams (or Val Demings, or Kamala Harris, or Tawana Brawley) will become de facto president, and we’ll be off to the races, so to speak. It’s a cute gambit, but I don’t see it playing out. You may be unaware of this but the Democratic Party is actually owned, lock-stock-and-barrel, by the Clinton Foundation. It has something else in mind. Due to the unfortunate last minute discovery of Joe Biden’s incapacity to serve, She Whose Turn Was Thwarted in 2016 will perforce be the party’s nominee for an epic rematch with the Golden Golem of Greatness. Let’s face it: everybody wants to see that contest. And an election with mail-in ballots will cinch her victory.

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Comey gets to watch it in jail.

Believe me on this one: you have no idea how ugly this election will be. None.

Comey Miniseries Gets Pre-Election Airdate (JTN)

A Showtime miniseries based on former FBI Director James Comey’s memoir has been rescheduled to debut before Election Day, after its creator made an emotional plea for a chance to sway presidential voters. Billy Ray, who wrote and directed “The Comey Rule,” recoiled after learning Showtime originally planned to debut it in late November. Ray wrote an angry letter to his cast and crew about the post-election date obtained by Deadline.com. The note suggests a collective agenda behind the project:

“I know what a disappointment this is to you. It is for me too — because while I’ve made movies about my country before, this was the first time I ever made a movie for my country. We all were hoping to get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election. And that was a reasonable expectation considering that we’d been given a mandate by the network to do whatever was necessary to deliver by May 15. But at some point in March or April, that mandate changed. Word started drifting back to me that a decision about our airdate had been made at the very highest levels of Viacom: all talk of our airing before the election was suddenly a “non-starter.” I and my fellow producers asked for a chance to plead our case on the matter, but we were told that even the discussion itself was a “non-starter.”

Further down in the letter, Ray envisioned billboards screaming, “Comey Vs. Trump” in the heat of the election battle. “The Comey Rule” is based on former FBI director James Comey’s recent memoir, “A Higher Loyalty” and “more than a year of additional interviews with a number of key principals,” according to Showtime PR.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 252020
 


Thomas Eakins Walt Whitman 1891

 

Strzok’s Newly Discovered FBI Notes Deliver Jolt To ‘Obamagate’ Evidence (JTN)
Flynn Dismissal Order ‘Thoroughly Demolishes’ Dissenting Judge’s Opinion (ZH)
Julian Assange Accused In US Indictment Of Conspiracy (Fox)
State, Local Gov’ts Need Billions More In Aid To Avert 4 Million Layoffs (MW)

 

 

Ever since I began reporting on the new coronavirus, I have pointed to trendlines as the reason to publish graphs and numbers on a daily basis. They make it possible to see how things develop. And what I see lately scares the heebees out of me. The trendlines tell us that things are getting worse, fast, while at the same time everyone pretends that they’re ready to re-open their societies.

I’ve said from the start that lockdowns can only be temporary, because we are social beings, but also that you need to use a lockdown wisely. Very few societies have, though.

In a few days’ time we will cross 10 million global confirmed cases, and 500,000 deaths. There is a lot wrong with the way these numbers are tallied, but they’re the best we have. And yes, these two “milestones” indicate a case fatality rate of 5%. Now, I can hear the protests all the way over here, and I don’t think a 5% rate is real, but even just one tenth of that, an 0.5% rate, is pretty terrible.

Yes, there are many more infections than those 10 million, no doubt, but there are also a lot more deaths than half a million. And by the way, that is a lot of lives lost, we should never forget that. Moreover, both the cases and the deaths just keep on coming, and there is no end in sight to that.

If things continue along current trendlines, we will in all likelihood observe how the end to the lockdowns does a lot more economic damage than the lockdowns ever did. Several US states already ring alarm bells over their healthcare facilities threatening to be overwhelmed.

And what about Brazil, Mexico, India and more? What will happen in Europe now all countries there are opening up, claiming that they have it all solved? There are many many millions of jobs in the west that are gone forever, and I can’t see countries being prepared to deal with that.

Be careful out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 24 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 172,383.

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 38,621
• Brazil + 40,021
• Russia + 7,790
• India + 23,229

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

A lot is being said about the “newfound” Peter Strzok notes from the Jan 4 2017 meeting with Rise, Yates, Biden, Comey, Obama. I think this part has more meaning than any other.

Strzok’s Newly Discovered FBI Notes Deliver Jolt To ‘Obamagate’ Evidence (JTN)

The real impact of the notes may be on the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation of the Russia investigators, where U.S. Attorneys John Durham and Jeff Jensen are determining whether the FBI or others committed crimes in deceiving the courts or Congress about the evidence in the now-discredited Russia collusion allegations. A former senior FBI official told Just the News that Strzok’s notes about the White House meeting are a red flag that the Comey-led bureau may have been involving itself illegitimately in a political dispute between the outgoing Obama administration and incoming Trump administration. “It was a political meeting about a policy dispute, and the bureau had no business being involved,” Former Assistant Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock said. “No other FBI director would ever have attended such a meeting.

“Comey is quoted in the notes as saying the Kislyak call appeared legit. At that point he should have gotten up and left the room,” Brock added. “The FBI had no business being represented in that meeting. It did not have a counterintelligence interest any longer.”

A second impact of the notes could be on the campaign trail. A few months ago, Biden claimed he was unaware of the Flynn probe as he was leaving the VP’s office. I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” he said. He then clarified his denial. “I was aware that … they asked for an investigation,” Biden said. “But that’s all I know about it, and I don’t think anything else.” If Powell’s interpretation of the notes is correct, Biden was knowledgeable enough to suggest a possible pretext for continued investigation, the Logan Act. And he eventually unmasked one of Flynn’s intercepted phone calls a week later.

https://twitter.com/Techno_Fog/status/1275803339738021890

Read more …

Is this a deliberate mess?

Flynn Dismissal Order ‘Thoroughly Demolishes’ Dissenting Judge’s Opinion (ZH)

Missouri appellate attorney John Reeves has weighed in on today’s decision by the US Court of Appeals for DC ordering Judge Emmett Sullivan to grant a DOJ request to drop the case against Michael Flynn. The opinion, authored by one of the three judges on the panel, Neomi J. Rao, “thoroughly demolishes” a dissenting opinion by Judge Robert Wilkins – who Reeves thinks was so off-base that he “shot himself in the foot” when it comes to any chance of an ‘en-banc review’ in which the Flynn decision would be kicked back for a full review by the DC appellate court.

[..] In all my years of appellate practice, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-US Supreme Court appellate opinion that so thoroughly demolishes a dissenting opinion as this one. Judge Rao could not have done better in writing the opinion, and it should be required law school rdg. In addition, Judge Wilkins’ dissenting opinion is so off-the-mark that I believe he has shot himself in the foot for purposes of en banc review–in other words, he has ensured that otherwise-sympathetic judges on the DC Circuit will vote against en banc review. Judge Rao comes out swinging by holding that its earlier opinion in Fokker “foreclose[s] the district court’s proposed scrutiny of the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn prosecution.” p. 7.

In relying on Fokker, Judge Rao explicitly rejects Judge Wilkinson’s argument that Fokker’s holding is dicta (that is, non-binding). She holds Fokker “is directly controlling here.” p. 14. Keep in mind that Fokker was written by Chief Judge Srinivasan, an OBAMA appointee. Judge Srinivasan does NOT want Fokker’s legitimacy undermined, no matter his politics. Judge Wilkins’ dissent implies that Fokker was wrongly decided, and that it conflicts with other federal appellate courts. See p. 23 of 28. Judge Srinivasan will NOT be impressed by this argument in deciding whether to grant en banc rehearing. Fokker does not create a split. Judge Rao goes on to emphasize that while judicial inquiry MAY be justified in some circumstances, Flynn’s situation “is plainly not the rare case where further judicial inquiry is warranted.” p. 6.

Rao notes that Flynn agrees with the Govt.’s dismissal motion, so there’s no risk of his rights being violated. In addition, the Government has stated insufficient evidence exists to convict Flynn. p. 6. Rao also holds that “a hearing cannot be used as an occasion to superintend the prosecution’s charging decisions.” p. 7. But by appointing amicus and attempting to hold a hearing on these matters, the district court is inflicting irreparable harm on the Govt. because it is subjecting its prosecutorial decisions to outside inquiry. p. 8 Thus, Judge Rao holds, it is NOT true that the district court has “yet to act” in this matter, contrary to Judge Wilkins’ assertions. p. 16. “[T]he district court HAS acted here….[by appointing] one private citizen to argue that another citizen should be deprived of his liberty regardless of whether the Executive Branch is willing to pursue the charges.” p. 16. This justified mandamus being issued NOW.

Read more …

https://twitter.com/MrsC_Assange/status/1276031301036896256

Julian Assange Accused In US Indictment Of Conspiracy (Fox)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought to recruit hackers at conferences in Europe and Asia who could provide his anti-secrecy website with classified information, and conspired with members of hacking organizations, according to a new Justice Department indictment announced Wednesday. The superseding indictment does not contain additional charges beyond the 18 counts the Justice Department unsealed last year. But prosecutors say it underscores Assange’s efforts to procure and release classified information, allegations that form the basis of criminal charges he already faces.

Beyond recruiting hackers at conferences, the indictment accuses Assange of conspiring with members of hacking groups known as LulzSec and Anonymous. He also worked with a 17-year-old hacker who gave him information stolen from a bank and directed the teenager to steal additional material, including audio recordings of high-ranking government officials, prosecutors say.

Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said in a statement that “the government’s relentless pursuit of Julian Assange poses a grave threat to journalists everywhere and to the public’s right to know.” “While today’s superseding indictment is yet another chapter in the U.S. Government’s effort to persuade the public that its pursuit of Julian Assange is based on something other than his publication of newsworthy truthful information,” he added, “the indictment continues to charge him with violating the Espionage Act based on WikiLeaks publications exposing war crimes committed by the U.S. Government.”

Read more …

What’s going to happen to all the people who end up without jobs?

State, Local Gov’ts Need Billions More In Aid To Avert 4 Million Layoffs (MW)

A new private sector report is warning anew of continuing damage to the economy if Washington doesn’t deliver several hundred billion dollars in budget relief to states and local governments amid the coronavirus pandemic. But Wednesday’s report by Moody’s Analytics, a private sector economic research firm, could also help illustrate a path for bipartisan agreement in Congress on next month’s fifth, and possibly final, COVID-19 response bill. The study warns that doing nothing to address the economic perils of state layoffs and cutbacks could cost 4 million jobs. But it also says that significantly less money is needed than what’s being called for by House Democrats, who passed almost $1 trillion in help for cash-poor states and local governments as part of a sweeping $3.5 trillion rescue package last month.


The Democratic bill combines $500 billion for state governments — as requested by the nation’s governors — and $375 billion for local governments, many of whom were left out of earlier relief efforts. The Moody study says that level of spending — rejected out of hand by Republicans — is likely beyond what’s needed. “The scope of aid being requested is certainly unprecedented in size and warrants significant scrutiny,” Moody’s says. “For example, the $1 trillion in aid recently approved as part of the house’s HEROES Act would be enough to raise the eyebrows of even the most aggressive advocates of fiscal stimulus.”

Read more …

 

 

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Frederick Douglass about Abaham Lincoln:

 

 

 

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May 142020
 


Byron Street haberdashery, New York 1900

 

95,000 Entered UK By Air In 25 Days During Lockdown (G.)
Australia Saw Overseas Visitors Fall 99% In April (R.)
Why California Is Struggling To Control Coronavirus (LAT)
Real UK Care Home Death Toll Double Official Figure (G.)
Pensioners 34 Times More Likely To Die Of COVID19 Than Working Age Brits (G.)
Only 4.4% of French Population Infected By Coronavirus (R.)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down State’s Stay-at-Home Order (NBC)
72 People In Wisconsin Test Positive After Attending ‘Large Gathering’ (DM)
36.6% of COVID19 Patients In NY Study Develop Acute Kidney Injury (R.)
Ontario Redeploys Educators Into Nursing Homes, As One Records 56 Deaths (R.)
Why Are So Many People Getting Sick And Dying In Montreal From Covid-19? (G.)
COVID-19 Bailout Gave Wall Street a No-Lose Casino (Taibbi)
FBI Accidentally Reveals Name Of Saudi Embassy Official Suspected In 9/11 (Y!)
US Judge Asks If Michael Flynn Should Be Held In Contempt (R.)
Flynn Case Requires Letting The Sun Shine On Comey And Mueller (McLaughlin)

 

 

• US New cases 21,449

• New deaths 1,896 (yesterday 1,894, Monday: 830, Sunday: 776)

• Russia breaks its chain of 10 consecutive days of more than 10,000 new cases with 9,974

 

 

 

Cases 4,451,226 (+ 93,006 from yesterday’s 4,358,220)

Deaths 298,520 (+ 5,284 from yesterday’s 293,236)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

The UK never had an actual lockdown, they just pretended they did.

18.1 million arrivals to the UK by air, land and sea from 1 January to 23 March, pre-“lockdown”. Another 95,000 just by air between 1 April and 26 April, during the lockdown. With tons of stories of very few if any checked out.

The government stopped issuing guidance at the border to arrivals from specific countries – including from Italy and China – to self-isolate on 13 March, 10 days before the lockdown was imposed.

95,000 Entered UK By Air In 25 Days During Lockdown (G.)

At least 95,000 people have entered the UK from overseas since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed, one of the government’s chief scientific advisers has revealed, while repeatedly failing to provide an estimate of how many of these people had Covid-19. Appearing before MPs on the science and technology committee, Prof John Aston, the chief scientific adviser at the Home Office, admitted that had tougher restrictions been introduced at the border, the peak of the virus may have been delayed – but he did not say by how long, or if this would have saved lives. Aston, who attends meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which is advising the government during the crisis, was asked repeatedly for the estimated proportion or number of people arriving in the UK with Covid-19.

He insisted instead that a more “robust” assessment was the ratio of imported cases to domestic cases. This model, formulated by Sage, estimates 0.5% of all cases on any given day are imported from overseas. The government stopped issuing guidance at the border to arrivals from specific countries – including from Italy and China – to self-isolate on 13 March, 10 days before the lockdown was imposed. Since then, there has been little intervention other than advice provided on leaflets and posters. Arrivals will have been subjected to the same lockdown restrictions imposed on the wider population since 23 March. [..] Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, [..] asked Aston if ministers had a central estimate of the number of people arriving each week who might have Covid-19 when the decision to stop asking any arrivals to self-isolate was made.

[..] Cooper [..] said: “Previously people were asked to self-isolate at the border for 14 days. Inexplicably when other countries were increasing their restrictions or their requirements to self-isolate, the UK lifted them all. It was before the peak in Spain, it was still around the peak in Italy, it was several weeks before the peak in UK.” Aston’s evidence comes as the government prepares to enforce a 14-day quarantine for arrivals by air at the UK border – a policy that some have suggested would have been more appropriate prior to the UK lockdown on 23 March. There were 18.1 million arrivals to the UK in the period from 1 January to 23 March across air, land and sea, of whom 273 air passengers were formally quarantined. Aston told the committee that between 1 April and 26 April there were 95,000 arrivals into the UK by air, of whom about 53,000 were UK citizens.

Read more …

This looks more like a lockdown. Just 6,500 non-Australians arrived in April.

Australia Saw Overseas Visitors Fall 99% In April (R.)

Australia saw overseas arrivals collapse to almost nothing in April as it closed its borders to fight the coronavirus pandemic, in a massive blow for the tourist industry. Preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Wednesday showed arrivals of 21,600 in April, down 98.7% from a year earlier. Returning Australian citizens accounted for 15,100 of them. The biggest decline was in arrivals from New Zealand, which dived by 161,950 to just 1,180. Arrivals from China, where closures had already badly curbed tourism in March, dropped 132,040 to only 320. Departures from Australia likewise plunged 96.5% to 63,500, mostly foreigners returning home.

Read more …

50% of people still leave their homes every day. Not a lockdown.

Why California Is Struggling To Control Coronavirus (LAT)

The Times asked UC San Francisco epidemiologist and infectious disease expert Dr. George Rutherford, a former epidemic intelligence service officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about why the plateau persists. “As long as it’s going up, it has not ended. It’s got to come down for it to end,” he said. Rutherford offered two reasons why the disease is persisting: a certain percentage of people still must go out to work, and others are getting fed up with staying at home. A significant part of the population has chosen not to say home or has been unable to do so because they’re essential workers manning supermarkets, meat processing plants, prisons and nursing homes.

A CDC study estimated that around April 1, about two weeks into a regional stay-at-home order, nearly 50% of residents in five Bay Area counties were still leaving home, down from 80% in late February. “That’s still 50%,” Rutherford said, adding that people can still get infected even if they limit their trips outside the home to buy a loaf of bread at the supermarket. Essential workers who must leave home — people working in the food industry, making deliveries and staffing medical facilities — are among those contracting the coronavirus. A UC San Francisco study of thousands of residents and workers in the city’s Mission District found that 57% of those tested must leave their homes for work, and those who had to leave home to work accounted for 90% of the positive cases.

Nearly 89% of those who tested positive earn less than $50,000 a year, and most live in households with three or more people. While Latinos made up 44% of those tested, they accounted for more than 99% of the positive COVID-19 cases. Many residents and workers in the Mission District are employed in essential services such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, restaurants, grocery stores and janitorial and domestic services, the university said. Staying home, the researchers said, clearly seemed to make a difference.

Read more …

Ambrose Evans Pritchard quotes a “London cardiologist friendly to Boris”:

“We discharged known, suspected and unknown cases into care homes which were unprepared with no formal warning that the patients were infected, no testing available, and no PPE to prevent transmission.”

Real UK Care Home Death Toll Double Official Figure (G.)

More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales may have died as a direct or indirect result of Covid-19, academics have calculated – more than double the number stated as passing away from the disease in official figures. Academics at the London School of Economics found that data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to the virus published by the Office for National Statistics significantly underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents and accounted for only about four out of 10 of the excess deaths in care settings recorded in recent weeks in England and Wales. ONS statisticians said on Tuesday that 8,314 people had died from confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in English care homes up to 8 May.

The figures suggest the impact of the virus in care homes is finally reducing. They are based on reports filed directly from care home operators to the regulator, the Care Quality Commission. Care Inspectorate Wales has said Covid was confirmed or suspected in a further 504 cases in homes up to the 8 May in Wales. But academics at the care policy and evaluation centre at the LSE found that when excess deaths of other care residents and the deaths of care home residents from Covid-19 in hospitals are taken into account, the toll that can be directly and indirectly linked to the virus pandemic is likely to be more than double the current official count.

[..] Care homes have been running at 10% to 20% staff absence rates and many homes have been trying to isolate residents in their rooms to reduce infection spread, but this can also make their normal care more difficult and residents’ needs less visible.

Read more …

Well, if you put them all together and insert known patients, no wonder. Do the same with younger people and you get the same result.

Pensioners 34 Times More Likely To Die Of COVID19 Than Working Age Brits (G.)

As Britain edges back to work and employees consider the risks of moving beyond lockdown, official figures underscore that working-age Britons are 34 times less likely to die of coronavirus than over-65s. About 12% of all deaths relating to Covid-19 have occurred among those under 65 – a total of 4,066 deaths. Most victims have been in the over-65 category, accounting for 30,978 fatalities. There have been 8.4 deaths per 100,000 people among the under-65 category, which rises to 286 deaths per 100,000 in the over-65 group, meaning pensioners are 34 times more likely to die of the illness. The contrast is even starker in data concerning those under 45. According to the Office for National Statistics figure, there have been just 401 deaths in this age group – one death for every 100,000 people, or around 1% of the overall death toll.

However, age is just one of the factors that will affect a person’s vulnerability to the virus. Research has shown that ethnicity, deprivation, pre-existing health conditions and occupation also contribute to an individual’s risk of dying. The death rate among the working population differs by gender. The death rate for men is 9.9 per 100,000 people and 5.2 per 100,000 women. This may also be driven by the death rate in particular occupations, as some workers appear to be more vulnerable depending on exposure to the virus.

Death rates among some minority ethnic groups are also disproportionately high, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It found the death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals was more than 2.5 times that of the white population. Guardian reporting also found that areas with high BAME populations tended to have higher death rates.

New data released by the ONS on Monday showed for the first time that people in low-paid manual jobs were at much greater risk of dying from Covid-19. Men in low-paid jobs were almost four times more likely to die from coronavirus than professionals, with 21.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 5.6 among white-collar male workers, according to the analysis. Jobs which were found to have high death rates included security guards, care workers, construction workers, plant operatives, cleaners, taxi drivers, bus drivers, chefs and retail workers. Commenting on the findings, Professor Neil Pearce, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The observations are almost certainly due to … exposure to people….”

Read more …

Probably a lowball, but very far from herd immunity.

Only 4.4% of French Population Infected By Coronavirus (R.)

A study led by the Pasteur Institute says a mere 4.4% of the French population – or 2.8 million people – have been infected by the novel coronavirus, much higher than the official count of cases but way too low to achieve so-called “herd immunity”. In a study published on Wednesday in the journal Science, researchers say the infection rate in the worst-hit parts of France – the eastern part of the country and the Paris region – is between 9 and 10 percent on average. “Around 65% of the population should be immune if we want to control the pandemic by the sole means of immunity”, the study says. Herd immunity refers to a situation where enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading. The rate of infection was measured by the Pasteur Institute as of May 11, the day when France started to unwind its almost two-month-long national lockdown.


“As of a consequence, our results show that, without a vaccine, the herd immunity alone will not be enough to avoid a second wave at the end of the lockdown. Efficient control measures must thus be upheld after May 11”, researchers say. France’s overall death toll from the virus rose to 27,074 on Wednesday, the fifth-highest in the world, and total number of cases officially stood at 177,700, the seventh-highest total. The Pasteur Institute also said the lockdown put in place on March 17 in France led to a drastic decline of the coronavirus’ reproduction rate, going from 2.9 to 0.67 over the 55-day virtual standstill of the country. A Spanish study also published on Wednesday showed similar results, saying about 5% of the country’s population had contracted the disease and that there was no herd immunity in Spain, also emerging progressively for long lockdown.


Large sero-survey in Spain with 60,000 participants shows ~5% of population tested positive for #coronavirus antibodies, 11% in region with highest incidence (Madrid)
1) Infection fatality rate ~1.2%
2) Herd immunity is not an option

Read more …

Why then have a law that says you can’t drive through city center at 200 mph? Same difference. “I will not give up my freedom for your safety”.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down State’s Stay-at-Home Order (NBC)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the state’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic as “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable” after finding that the state’s health secretary exceeded her authority. In a 4-3 ruling, the court called Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm’s directive, known as Emergency Order 28, a “vast seizure of power.” The order directed all people in the state to stay at home or at their places of residence, subject only to exceptions allowed by Palm, the ruling says. The order, which had been set to run until May 26, also restricted travel and business, along with threatening jail time or fines for those who don’t comply.


The ruling says the judges weren’t challenging Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency powers, but the decision effectively undercuts his administration and forces him to work out a compromise with the Republican-controlled Legislature. One of the dissenting justices, Rebecca Dallet, said her conservative colleagues in the majority were the ones who were exceeding their authority, and she noted precedent for Palm’s directives — a monthslong stay-at-home order during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. “This decision will undoubtedly go down as one of the most blatant examples of judicial activism in this court’s history,” she said. “And it will be Wisconsinites who pay the price.” [..] During oral arguments, Justice Rebecca Bradley suggested that the order amounted to “tyranny,” and at another point, she referred to Japanese Americans’ internment during World War II.

Read more …

A protest meeting.

72 People In Wisconsin Test Positive After Attending ‘Large Gathering’ (DM)

More than 70 people in Wisconsin have tested positive for coronavirus after admitting they attended a ‘large gathering’ in the state – around the same time that thousands of protesters were pictured ignoring social distancing and shunning face masks at a mass anti-lockdown rally. The state’s Department of Health Services (DHS) confirmed that 72 individuals who were diagnosed with the deadly virus on or after April 26 had all attended a large gathering not long before their diagnosis. ‘We were able to pull some limited data – out of 1,986 cases with onset/diagnosis on or after 4/26, there were seventy-two cases who reported attending a large gathering,’ DHS spokesperson Jennifer Miller told The Progressive.


Two days earlier on April 24, thousands of protesters gathered outside Wisconsin’s capitol building in Madison demanding Democratic Governor Tony Evers reopen the state for business. It marked one of the largest anti-lockdown rallies to take place across the country. At the time there were 5,356 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin and 262 people had died. As of Wednesday, cases have almost doubled to 10,611 and the death toll has reached 418. [..] ‘Possible exposures during protests haven’t been specifically added to the database because we already ask about large gatherings,’ Miller told The Progressive. ‘Contact tracers do ask if patients attended mass gatherings, but not specifically about protests, so there’s really no data on who may have contracted COVID-19 at a protest.’ Miller added: ‘No, it doesn’t specifically state that the 72 were at a rally, but this is the data we have.’

Read more …

Right before they go on the ventilator.

36.6% of COVID19 Patients In NY Study Develop Acute Kidney Injury (R.)

Over a third of patients treated for COVID-19 in a large New York medical system developed acute kidney injury, and nearly 15% required dialysis, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday. The study was conducted by a team at Northwell Health, the largest health provider in New York state. “We found in the first 5,449 patients admitted, 36.6% developed acute kidney injury,” said study co-author Dr. Kenar Jhaveri, associated chief of nephrology at Hofstra/Northwell in Great Neck, New York, whose findings were published in the journal Kidney International. Acute kidney injury occurs when the kidneys fail and become unable to filter out waste. Of those patients with kidney failure, 14.3% required dialysis, Jhaveri said in a phone interview.


The study is the largest to date to look at kidney injury in COVID-19 patients. It may be helpful, Jhaveri said, as other hospitals face new waves of patients with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 4.3 million people and killed over 295,000 globally. Several groups have noted increased rates of kidney failure among patients with COVID-19. Jhaveri and colleagues set out to quantify it by combing through medical records of 5,449 COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March 1 and April 5. They found that kidney failure occurred early on, with 37.3% of patients arriving at the hospital with failing kidneys, or developing the condition within the first 24 hours of being admitted. In many cases, the kidney failure occurred around the time severely ill patients needed to be placed on a ventilator, Jhaveri said.

Read more …

Canada’s not doing well.

Ontario Redeploys Educators Into Nursing Homes, As One Records 56 Deaths (R.)

The Canadian province of Ontario is allowing its education staff, including teachers and custodians, to voluntarily redeploy into the province’s long-term care homes, the provincial government said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus outbreak at just one Toronto-area home alone has killed dozens. Coronavirus deaths in long-term care nursing homes account for 815 of 1,765 total deaths in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, according to provincial data released on Wednesday. Camilla Care Community recorded 56 deaths, according to the home’s owner, Sienna Senior Living, on Wednesday. The regional health authority reported 179 residents and 39 staff have tested positive at the facility.


In March, Ontario closed schools in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, requiring many educators and other staff to leave their jobs. This latest redeployment focuses on training and moving any employees who volunteer into nursing homes. Ontario has previously moved workers from hospitals into long-term care homes, and Wednesday’s announcement expands the province’s support for the facilities, which have been hit hard by the virus. The province also issued an emergency order on Wednesday morning, allowing the provincial government to issue mandatory management orders to any long-term care home struggling to deal with an outbreak.

Read more …

Not just care homes, poor parts of town as well.

Why Are So Many People Getting Sick And Dying In Montreal From Covid-19? (G.)

Springtime in Montreal is normally a cause for celebration. After the city’s long, arduous winters, people emerge from the confines of their apartments at the first inkling of warmth to lounge in parks and on patios – or terrasses – and enjoy a meal, beverage and the company of friends. Not this year. Montreal, a city touted by tourist guides as “North America’s Europe” for its rich culture and joie de vivre, is Canada’s centre for Covid-19. Of the entire country’s 70,000 cases and 5,000 deaths, the city of 2 million people has 20,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths, or about 64% of the entire province’s death toll. Those numbers have catapulted Quebec into an unfavourable position: it is now the seventh deadliest place in the world for daily coronavirus deaths, according to Quebec newspaper La Presse.


[..] Earlier this month, the province admitted that its effort to manage staffing shortages by moving workers around the long-term care network could be spreading the virus. Montreal North feels the consequences of that. One in five Montrealers infected with Covid-19 are healthcare workers – none of whom are receiving danger pay. In Montreal North, 23% are infected, said community organizer Will Prosper. “It’s these people who are still taking care of us, when not too long ago they were the people who we wanted to kick out,” said Prosper.

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Just a bigger casino.

COVID-19 Bailout Gave Wall Street a No-Lose Casino (Taibbi)

The $2.3 trillion CARES Act, the Donald Trump-led rescue package signed into law on March 27th, is a radical rethink of American capitalism. It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss. This financial economy is a fantasy casino, where the winnings are real but free chips cover the losses. For a rarefied segment of society, failure is being written out of the capitalist bargain. This is a fresh take on a long-developing dynamic. Dating to the late Eighties, when then-Fed-chief Alan Greenspan slashed interest rates after the 1987 stock-market crash, there’s been an understanding that the government would be there to help Wall Street back on its feet in hard times.

[..] What’s happening in the COVID-19 crisis is the next step: a financial bubble where the Fed isn’t the cleanup mechanism, but the source of the mania itself. While the real economy is seeing record disruptions, Wall Street has seen prolonged rallies of “rational exuberance” over the Fed’s decision to usher in “QE infinity” and essentially ban losing in finance capitalism. Though this is a Trump bill — El Pompadour is so determined that the CARES Act be remembered as his work, he fought to get his signature on relief checks — it passed unanimously, by voice vote in the House, and 96-0 in the Senate. Talk to Democrats on the Hill and they will tell you this is a bailout to be cheered and supported, nothing like the 2008 rescue. This time is different, the argument goes: Three-quarters of the money goes to real people.

[..] Technically, “only” about $500 billion of the congressionally passed rescue package goes to “big business.” Moreover, the big-business aid ostensibly comes with a range of draconian-sounding conditions barring greedy hijinks, meaning no layoffs, no stock buybacks, no big bonuses, etc., if companies want the handout. The loophole comes via $454 billion created as part of that big-business package. This “emergency fund” will be dumped into a “special-purpose vehicle” used to backstop further lending by the Federal Reserve. That $454 billion is designed to grow by a factor of 10 or more. “We can lever up to $4 trillion,” said Steve Mnuchin, playing the “free-spending Goldman Sachs-trained Treasury secretary” role that apparently is a prerequisite for financial-disaster narratives in modern America.

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Lovely.

FBI Accidentally Reveals Name Of Saudi Embassy Official Suspected In 9/11 (Y!)

The FBI inadvertently revealed one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive secrets about the Sept. 11 terror attacks: the identity of a mysterious Saudi Embassy official in Washington who agents suspected had directed crucial support to two of the al-Qaida hijackers. The disclosure came in a new declaration filed in federal court by a senior FBI official in response to a lawsuit brought by families of 9/11 victims that accuses the Saudi government of complicity in the terrorist attacks. The declaration was filed last month but unsealed late last week. According to a spokesman for the 9/11 victims’ families, it represents a major breakthrough in the long-running case, providing for the first time an apparent confirmation that FBI agents investigating the attacks believed they had uncovered a link between the hijackers and the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

It’s unclear just how strong the evidence is against the former Saudi Embassy official — it’s been a subject of sharp dispute within the FBI for years. But the disclosure, which a senior U.S. government official confirmed was made in error, seems likely to revive questions about potential Saudi links to the 9/11 plot. It also shines a light on the extraordinary efforts by top Trump administration officials in recent months to prevent internal documents about the issue from ever becoming public. “This shows there is a complete government cover-up of the Saudi involvement,” said Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the 9/11 families whose father was killed in the attacks. “It demonstrates there was a hierarchy of command that’s coming from the Saudi Embassy to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs [in Los Angeles] to the hijackers.”

Still, Eagleson acknowledged he was flabbergasted by the bureau’s slip-up in identifying the Saudi Embassy official in a public filing. Although Justice Department lawyers had last September notified lawyers for the 9/11 families of the official’s identity, they had done so under a protective order that forbade the family members from publicly disclosing it. Now, the bureau itself has named the Saudi official. “This is a giant screwup,” Eagleson said.

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Or should the FBI be held in contempt?

US Judge Asks If Michael Flynn Should Be Held In Contempt (R.)

A U.S. judge on Wednesday signaled reluctance to allow the Justice Department to drop its criminal prosecution of Michael Flynn, tasking a retired judge with advising on whether the former Trump administration official should face an additional criminal contempt charge for perjury. In a short written order, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington asked John Gleeson, a former federal judge in New York, to present arguments in the case as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court. Sullivan said he was seeking Gleeson’s recommendation on whether Flynn should face a criminal contempt charge for perjury because he testified under oath that he was guilty of lying to the FBI but then reversed course and said he had never lied. Sullivan also said he wanted Gleeson to make the case for why a motion to dismiss the Flynn case filed by the Justice Department last week should be rejected.


The Justice Department’s bombshell May 7 decision to drop its case against Flynn came on the heels of growing pressure from Trump and Trump’s political allies who repeatedly accused the FBI of improprieties in how it handled the investigation. Up until that point, the Justice Department had staunchly defended the FBI’s actions in the case. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who served as an adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his interactions with Russia’s U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office. However, later in the case he switched lawyers and tactics, accusing the FBI of tricking him and seeking to have his guilty plea withdrawn.

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Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Patrick M. McLaughlin served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio from 1984-1988 and as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1978 to 1984.

Flynn Case Requires Letting The Sun Shine On Comey And Mueller (McLaughlin)

For most Americans, it must be absolute confusion trying to decipher truth from non-truth as charges and countercharges are leveled by the Democrats and Republicans, and the media weigh in on the Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn case. My suggestion is to ignore the talking heads and read the DOJ’s 20-page motion to dismiss the criminal information against Flynn, and all the exhibits attached to that motion. Then, you will have the facts necessary to come to an informed opinion. I have done that, so let me give a primer. The DOJ determined that “continued prosecution of this case would not serve the interests of justice” because the interview of Flynn by the FBI was unjustified by the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Flynn, since that investigation “had yielded an ‘absence of any derogatory information.’”

The DOJ is unpersuaded that Flynn’s interview “was conducted with a legitimate investigative basis” and does not believe that Flynn’s statements “were material even if untrue.” In addition, in consideration of all the evidence “including newly discovered and disclosed information,” the government doubts that it can prove “either the relevant false statements or their materiality beyond a reasonable doubt.” The motion, plus 86 pages of exhibits, provides evidence, at best, of the dereliction of duty by the FBI under James Comey and, at worst, possible criminal misconduct. Only a full disclosure of all relevant information, documents, and testimony under oath by participants will satisfy the right of Americans to have the evidence we deserve in order to form our opinions unfiltered by the talking heads. Let the real facts fall where they may.

[..] When you review the DOJ’s filing, put yourself in Flynn’s shoes and consider how you would feel if the government treated you in the same manner and, to top it off, hid material exculpatory information from your defense team and the court. Overlay on that: How would you handle it if legal fees had wiped you out financially and the agents and prosecutors were threatening to indict a member of your family to pressure you to cave? The conduct of Comey’s FBI, of the Special Counsel, and of some at Main Justice should be placed under the microscope of a truth-seeking, nonpartisan inquiry with the interests of the nation in mind. Find out what happened and why — then fix it.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 082020
 


NPC Shad fishing on the Potomac 1920

 

US Death Toll Would Have Been Halved Had It Acted 4 Days Sooner (SCMP)
US Doctors Want Details On Federal Distribution Of Remdesivir (R.)
China Backs WHO Investigating COVID19 Origin (SCMP)
Blood Thinners May Help Sickest COVID19 Patients Survive
COVID19 Wreaks Economic Havoc Across Europe (ZH)
Japan On Course For Deep Recession As Spending, Services Plunge (R.)
Black Britons Face ‘Twice The Risk’ Of Death – ONS (BBC)
Black African Deaths Three Times Higher Than White Britons (BBC)
Black People Four Times More Likely To Die From COVID19 – ONS (G.)
No One Can Be Evicted In New York Until August 20 (JTN)
The Great Potato Giveaway: US Farmers Hand Out Spuds To Avoid Food Waste (R.)
Seattle Permanently Closes 20 Miles Of Residential Streets To Most Traffic (ST)
This Year’s Pulitzer Prize Award Has An Anti-Russian Infowar Agenda (OffG)
Schiff Releases Transcripts Undercutting Dem Claims Of Russia Collusion (JTN)
Former FBI intel Chief Slams Comey’s Pursuit Of Flynn (JTN)

 

 

 

 

• US records 2,448 #coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 75,543, according to Johns Hopkins University.

• The US has now confirmed a total of 1,254,750 case

• Russia has 6th consecutive day of over 10,000 new cases

• Peru, India keep rising fast, Saudi Arabia is the next “crown prince”

 

 

 

Deaths are not increasing, but cases are in an upward trend. Today close to 100,000. Give it another half hour.

 

Cases 3,934,711 (+ 97,885 from yesterday’s 3,836,826)

Deaths 271,095 (+ 5,729 from yesterday’s 265,366)

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer Deaths among Closed cases is down to 17%. That still needs to come down much more.

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

True for every country, we must assume. There was a report a while ago that said China could have avoided 95% of cases had it acted earlier, I think that was a week.

US Death Toll Would Have Been Halved Had It Acted 4 Days Sooner (SCMP)

The daily death toll from Covid-19 in the United States could have been more than halved if authorities had acted more swiftly in recommending self-isolation and the wearing of face masks, according to a new study. Several US states began issuing stay-at-home orders in late March, while federal health authorities began recommending the use of face masks for all in early April. However, had such measures been implemented just four days earlier, the roughly 2,000 Covid-19 deaths currently being recorded each day would have been cut to less than 1,000, the study said. Furthermore, lifting the measures in a bid to kick-start the economy would almost instantly increase the daily death toll to more than 3,000, it said.

“These findings may inform policymaking,” said the researchers from Princeton Medical Centre and other research institutes in a yet-to-be-peer reviewed paper posted on Medrxiv.org on Wednesday. The findings echoed comments made last month by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US. “Obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different,” he said in a television interview on April 12. “But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then”. Both Fauci and other senior health officials were banned from speaking freely to the media or testifying at congressional hearings by the Trump administration, according to media reports. Swifter action “could have saved lives”, he said, without giving an exact number.

But the figures could be found in publicly available data, according to the research team led by Lanjing Zhang, director of gastrointestinal and liver pathology at Princeton Medical Centre. By tracking the changes in the numbers of infections and deaths after the implementation of the containment measures in the US, Zhang’s team was able to build a mathematical model to simulate the impact of the policies, and then used it to estimate what might have happened had they been introduced at different times. California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order to its 4 million residents on March 19, and by April 7 similar restrictions had been implemented across the country, affecting almost 90 per cent of the population.

On April 3, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention changed its long-standing policy on the wearing of face masks, and urged everyone to cover their nose and mouth when in public. The effect of the policies was almost instant, the study said. The growth rate for both infections and deaths began slowing on March 23 and by April 4 had plateaued and begun a gentle decline. But according to the model, had the same measures been introduced just four days earlier, the number of new daily infections in April would have fallen by about two-thirds to 10,000. And had the move been made a week sooner, that figure would have dropped to just 3,000, with about 300 daily deaths, it said.

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We know since last week’s report that remdesivir has no impact on cure, it only -at best- helps patients spend a few less days in hospital. So you would expect doctors to have questions about that. But no, they only worry about how fast they can get the drug. If Reuters is to be believed, that is. But why worry about a drug that has zero chance of avoiding death? Nothing better to do?

US Doctors Want Details On Federal Distribution Of Remdesivir (R.)

The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) is asking for more information on the federal government’s plan for deciding how and where to supply the only drug so far shown to help patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave emergency use authorization to Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir for patients with severe COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – clearing the way for broader use in more hospitals around the United States. The federal government began distributing the drug this week.


But doctors across the country, particularly in COVID-19 hotspots like New York and Boston, became concerned after being denied their request to obtain the new therapy, IDSA president Dr. Thomas File told Reuters on Thursday. “Some are seeing other hospitals approved, but say ‘we have more cases than they do, so why were we turned down?’” he said. The IDSA on Wednesday called on the Trump Administration to explain how it will ensure equitable distribution of remdesivir to states and hospitals based on COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates. The physician group also stressed the importance of fair allocation to health facilities in communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, including African American and Hispanic populations.

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This becomes interesting only if and when a WHO team can investigate in China, not bothered by anyone.

China Backs WHO Investigating COVID19 Origin (SCMP)

China says it supports World Health Organisation efforts to investigate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, but rejects any “presumption of guilt”, after the global body said it was talking to Beijing about sending another delegation to the country. The remarks came as Beijing is under mounting international pressure – particularly from the United States – to allow an inquiry into how the pandemic started, and if it was linked to a laboratory in Wuhan, the city where the new virus strain was first reported. Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist with the WHO, on Wednesday said the agency was in discussion with China about examining potential animal origins of the coronavirus.

“There is discussion with our counterparts in China for a further mission, which would be more academic in focus and really focus on looking at what happened at the beginning in terms of the exposures with different animals, so that we can look to have an approach to find the zoonotic source,” she said. “The public health importance of this is critical because without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s difficult for us to attempt to prevent this from happening again,” she added. US President Donald Trump has suggested the virus may be the result of an accident at a Chinese lab, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US had evidence of this. Trump has also been critical of the WHO, calling it “China-centric” and halting funding to the body. He described the pandemic as an “attack” worse than Pearl Harbour and September 11 that “could have been stopped in China”.

In Beijing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the US of “untruthful and insincere remarks”, but said China would support a review of the outbreak “at an appropriate time”. “China has supported the work of the WHO for a long time, and worked with the WHO in an open, responsible and transparent manner. China agrees to make a conclusion on the origin of the virus at an appropriate time,” Hua said. “China opposes nations such as the US politicising the issue regarding the origin of the virus, and pushing for an international investigation with a presumption of guilt.”

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And they can kill them too.

Blood Thinners May Help Sickest COVID19 Patients Survive

Blood thinners could improve the survival rate among the most severely ill Covid-19 patients, according to a hospital study in New York City. The finding comes as doctors have been observing blood clot disorders among coronavirus patients that can damage vital organs. The researchers found that intubated patients treated with anticoagulants – medicines that help prevent blood clots – had a mortality rate of 29 per cent. Of those who were not treated with blood thinners, 63 per cent died. And among the ventilated patients who did not survive, those on anticoagulants died after 21 days, while those not given the medicine died after nine days, the researchers said.


“Our findings suggest that systemic anticoagulation may be associated with improved outcomes among patients hospitalised with Covid-19,” they wrote in a peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on May 6. The study analysed 786 cases where patients had been given blood thinners – about 30 per cent of all Covid-19 patients admitted to five hospitals in the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City between mid-March and April. They were given the medicine orally and via injection under the skin or into a vein, the study said. The researchers also noted that “patients who received anticoagulation were more likely to require invasive mechanical ventilation”.

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No. The economic system is eating itself. The virus is merely a catalyst.

COVID19 Wreaks Economic Havoc Across Europe (ZH)

The European Commission has released its Spring 2020 Economic Forecast which shows that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on Europe’s economy. The collective GDP of the EU-27 was expected to grow 1.2 percent this year but it is now forecast contract 7.4 percent due to the pandemic. By contrast, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that the Financial Crisis “only” led to a contraction of 4.5 percent for the EU-28 back in 2009. The current crisis has now pushed the EU into the deepest recession since its foundation with unemployment rates set to rise drastically. Last year, unemployment across the bloc was 6.7 percent and it is now forecast to grow to 9 percent this year.

The data shows that no EU member state is going to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis unscathed with countries in southern Europe set to be worst impacted. Even though Greece has made progress since the Financial Crisis and has earned plaudits for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, it is expected to suffer the worst decline in GDP our of all EU member states at 9.7 percent. Italy and Spain who have both been badly impacted by the pandemic are also expected to suffer GDP contractions greater than 9 percent this year. Even though Germany has suffered a far lower death toll than many of its neighbors and is slowly easing its lockdown, Europe’s economic powerhouse is still predicted to see its GDP shrink by 6.5 percent this year.

While the situation remains serious in some parts of Europe, particularly the UK, there is light at the end of the tunnel. After 7 weeks of strict confinement, Italians finally emerged from their homes at the start of the week while Germany’s schools and restaurants are set to open over the next couple of days. Even though the situation is improving, most EU leaders are remaining cautious due to the possibility of a second wave of infections. The European Commission has stated that fundamental uncertainty surrounds the forecast and that the danger of a deeper and more protracted recession is very real.

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The entire rich(er) world has economic systems that cannot withstand a few weeks of less activity.

Japan On Course For Deep Recession As Spending, Services Plunge (R.)

Japan’s household spending plunged in March and service-sector activity shrank at a record pace in April, reinforcing expectations that the coronavirus pandemic is tipping the world’s third-largest economy into deep recession. Overtime pay – a barometer of strength in corporate activity – also plunged at a record pace in March, data showed, a sign companies were hit by shrinking business even before the government announced a state of emergency in early April. The weak readings make it a near certainty the economy suffered a second straight quarter of contraction in January-March, the technical definition of a recession, and was on track for a deeper decline in the current quarter as the health crisis kept shoppers home and businesses closed.


“Even without the virus, Japan’s economy was very weak due to the hit from last year’s sales tax hike. The pandemic has completely destroyed any chance of a recovery,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute. “The economy may rebound somewhat in July-September but won’t return to pre-coronavirus levels for the rest of this year,” said Saito, who expects the economy to contract an annualised 30% in the current quarter. Household spending slumped 6.0% in March from a year earlier following a 0.3% fall in February, marking the biggest drop in five years, government data showed on Friday.

Read more …

I noted yesterday that in their coverage of a report, the BBC and Guardian came to very different conclusions. One said blacks in the UK were twice as likely as whites to die from COVID19, the other said it was 4 times. Then when I read the BBC piece this morning, a link had appeared to an article that claimed it was 3 times.

Black Britons Face ‘Twice The Risk’ Of Death – ONS (BBC)

Black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus as white people in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics. The analysis shows the inequality persists after taking into account age, where people live and some measures of deprivation and prior health. People from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities also had a significantly higher risk of dying. The government has launched a review into the issue. The analysis by the ONS combined data on deaths involving Covid-19 with information on ethnicity from the 2011 census.


Taking into account age, location and some measures of deprivation, disadvantage and prior health, it found black people were 90% more likely to die with Covid-19 than white people. Men and women from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities had an increased risk of between 30% and 80%, the analysis found. The ONS suggested some of the risk might be caused by other social and economic factors that are not included in the data. And it said that some ethnic groups may be “over-represented in public-facing occupations” and so more at risk of being infected while at work.

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And yeah, there are a bunch of different data, age, sex etc., but it looks weird.

Black African Deaths Three Times Higher Than White Britons (BBC)

Coronavirus patients from black African backgrounds in England and Wales are dying at more than triple the rate of white Britons, a study suggests. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said a higher proportion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds live in areas hit harder by Covid-19. However, they tend to be younger on average, so should be less vulnerable. But the report found various black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were experiencing higher per capita deaths. And after accounting for differences in age, sex and geography, the study estimated that the death rate for people of black African heritage was 3.5 times higher than for white Britons. It added that for people of black Caribbean heritage, per capita deaths were 1.7 times higher, rising to 2.7 times higher for those with Pakistani heritage. The IFS study said given demographic and geographic profiles, most minority ethnic groups are dying in “excess” numbers in hospitals.

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In the end it’s simply a class society.

Black People Four Times More Likely To Die From COVID19 – ONS (G.)

Black people are more than four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people, according to stark official figures exposing a dramatic divergence in the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales. The Office of National Statistics found that the difference in the virus’s impact was caused not only by pre-existing differences in communities’ wealth, health, education and living arrangements. It discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.


Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts. The risk of Covid-19 death for people from Chinese and mixed ethnic groups was found to be similar to that for white people. “These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in Covid-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” the ONS said.

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And some of the things he does are actually good. Nobody screws up all the time.

No One Can Be Evicted In New York Until August 20 (JTN)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday New York renters cannot be kicked out of their homes for failing to pay rent until Aug. 20. “The No. 1 issue that people talk to me about probably is rent, and fear about being able to pay their rent, and this just takes that issue off the table until August 20,” he said at his daily coronavirus briefing. Cuomo extended for another two months his 90-day suspension of evictions in the state — issued in March and set to expire in June. Cuomo said that landlords who face utility bills and mortgages can turn to banks and federal programming for help. He also said that officials will ban any late-payment fees and allow renters to use their security deposits as payment. “Everyone is just making do, and everyone has hardships,” he said during his daily briefing Thursday. “We just want to make sure the people who are most vulnerable are protected.”

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“Everyone in Washington would have to eat about 500 pounds of potatoes from now until the 4th of July to clear out that pipeline..”

The Great Potato Giveaway: US Farmers Hand Out Spuds To Avoid Food Waste (R.)

Giving away food is just one example of how people around the world are adjusting to the strain the coronavirus pandemic has put on supply chains, as restaurants, schools and hotels close. With unemployment soaring, demand from food banks is rising fast at the same time farmers have fewer outlets to sell their crops. In Washington, the No. 2 U.S. potato growing state after Idaho, a billion pounds of russet potatoes, normally processed into french fries and hash browns, are sitting in warehouses that would typically be emptying ahead of the July harvest, the Washington State Potato Commision said. Instead, the organization is handing out the surplus for free in brown sacks, 100,000 pounds at a time.


“Everyone in Washington would have to eat about 500 pounds of potatoes from now until the 4th of July to clear out that pipeline,” said Brandy Tucker, the commission’s director of marketing. Around 90% of Washington potatoes are processed for food service, nearly half for international markets. Potato producers in Europe have also faced enormous surpluses. The commission is planning more than a dozen donation events by the end of May. But even giving away potatoes comes with the cost of washing, bagging and shipping. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is attempting to chip away at the mountain of produce unable to get to consumers. This week it said it would buy an additional $470 million in food, including $50 million in potatoes to give to food banks.

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Good, give public space back to where it belongs, the public. Not cars. Like the guy’s name, Sam Zimbabwe.

Seattle Permanently Closes 20 Miles Of Residential Streets To Most Traffic (ST)

Nearly 20 miles of Seattle streets will permanently close to most vehicle traffic by the end of May, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday. The streets had been closed temporarily to through traffic to provide more space for people to walk and bike at a safe distance apart during the coronavirus pandemic. Now the closures will continue even after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order is lifted. Over the next couple of weeks, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will replace the temporary closure signs on the so-called Stay Healthy Streets with permanent markings, guiding drivers to other routes.


[..] Residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers, and emergency response vehicles can continue to use the streets, but no through traffic is allowed. “Our rapid response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 have been transformative in a number of places across the city,” SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said. “Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.”

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The Off-Guardian has turned too much into a 24/7 anti-lockdown channel lately, but this is good.

This Year’s Pulitzer Prize Award Has An Anti-Russian Infowar Agenda (OffG)

The Russian Embassy in the US condemned the Pulitzer Prize Board’s awarding of its eponymous prize for “International Reporting” to The New York Times “for a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime”, describing it as: “.. a wonderful collection of undiluted Russophobic fabrications, which can be studied as a guideline on creating false facts.” The six articles and two videos that were responsible for the outlet receiving that “recognition” shared the theme of military-intelligence intrigue, be it accusing the country’s GRU intelligence agency of involvement in several shadowy assassination attempts across Europe or claiming that businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin had a hidden hand in election meddling in Madagascar, for example.

Other assertions that were made by the “journalistic” pieces in question also include the Russian state’s complicity in carrying out war crimes in Syria. As has become the norm in the Western Mainstream Media’s reporting about Russia, an abundance of unnamed sources, fabricated recordings, and disreputable sources were relied upon to push fearmongering narratives about the Eurasian Great Power. The conclusions that were reached – or rather, “reverse-engineered” after first determining the meta-narrative and then subsequently fleshing it out from a variety of geopolitical angles – were predictable enough because they perfectly conformed to the “politically correct” interpretation of President Putin’s global intentions.

It’s for that reason The New York Times’ pieces were “celebrated” by the Pulitzer Prize Board with this supposedly “distinguished” award in an attempt to “legitimize” them for posterity. The Russian Embassy in the US, therefore, did the right thing by condemning this charade as Russophobic and describing The New York Times’ work as “a guideline on creating false facts.” That said, the success of the Pulitzer Prize Board’s efforts to manage global perceptions about Russia as part of the West’s ongoing Hybrid War against it is dependent on whether their targeted audience even cares about what that institution says. In theory, the Pulitzer Prize is supposed to be one of the most distinguished awards that any journalist or outlet can ever receive, but it’s actually more akin to an elite club commending its own members.

To explain, the Pulitzer Prize Board counts among its ranks representatives from The Washington Post and even The New York Times itself. It also includes other professionals as well, such as those from Bloomberg, National Public Radio, and a few folks from academia. Prior to Trump’s rise, these figures might have been almost universally respected, but the American President has since opened the eyes of a broad swath of the country and even the world more broadly to the so-called “Fourth Estate’s” insidious political agendas. Trust in traditional media is dwindling by the day, meaning that the awards ceremonies that they preside over are becoming similarly less prestigious as well.

Read more …

One can only imagine what attention this would have gotten were it not for COVID19. The MSM is still trying to defend the FBI, DNC and Obama White House, but that battle has long been lost.

And there is still this kind of thing, as if nothing had changed: “In releasing the transcripts Thursday, the current Democratic House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff claimed they provided proof of nefarious connections between Russians and Trump associates.”

It is almost hard to believe.

Schiff Releases Transcripts Undercutting Dem Claims Of Russia Collusion (JTN)

“Papadopoulos’ comment didn’t particularly indicate that he was the person that had had — that was interacting with the Russians,” McCabe answered when asked by lawmakers why a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant request in October 2016 focused only on Page and not the man the FBI originally predicated the Trump investigation upon. It was one of the few extraordinary admissions from McCabe: The FBI opened up an entire counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign on a figure agents did not believe was having contact with Moscow. The transcripts, otherwise, contain mostly old news, long since surpassed by revelations in Robert Mueller’s final report that concluded there was no collusion between any Americans and Russia to hijack the 2016 election and Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s detailed report of abuses of the FISA process by the FBI.

But perhaps the biggest piece of previously unreported news came from Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the Perkins Coie law firm that represented the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. It was that law firm that contracted with Fusion GPS to hire Steele to develop the anti-Trump dossier that was shared with the FBI. Sussmann acknowledged under questioning by Republican staff that in February 2017 he shared dirt he had gotten on the Trump organization’s possible ties to Russia with the CIA. The agency’s name was redacted from the transcript but confirmed to Just the News by multiple U.S. officials. What was your contact [redacted] about?” a lawyer asked Sussmann.

“So the contact was about reporting to them information that was reported to me about possible contacts, covert or at least nonpublic, between Russian entities and various entities in the United States associated with the — or potentially associated with the Trump Organization,” Sussmann answered. The lawyer followed up: “And when did that contact occur, month and year?” “February 2017,” Sussmann answered. “Where did you get that information from to relay to [redacted]?” he was asked. “From a client of mine,” he answered, declining to be more specific. In releasing the transcripts Thursday, the current Democratic House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff claimed they provided proof of nefarious connections between Russians and Trump associates.

“The transcripts released today richly detail evidence of the Trump campaign’s efforts to invite, make use of, and cover up Russia’s help in the 2016 presidential election,” he alleged. In fact, witnesses were repeatedly pressed to offer specific evidence of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia and could offer none, saying it was either too preliminary or they did not have any. “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers. “That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence.

Read more …

Former FBI intel Chief Slams Comey’s Pursuit Of Flynn (JTN)

The FBI’s former top intelligence official says the bureau under James Comey’s leadership did not have a legitimate reason to launch an investigation into Michael Flynn and may have engaged in an “historic misuse” of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency. Retired FBI Assistant Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock told Just the News that agents had sought to close the investigation into the incoming national security advisor in January 2017 but the “Comey team” intervened via fired agent Peter Strzok to stop the closure and to pivot to an interview with Flynn. The closing memo communicated that “they had never established any reasonable suspicion that Michael Flynn was acting on behalf of a foreign country at all, ever in the beginning. In other words they had no basis to start the investigation in the first place,” Brock explained.

He described the FBI’s interview of Flynn as “some type of intimidation” and he said they did not have a legal justification to question him. “They wanted to get in front of him and see if they could elicit some type of false statement, that was their goal,” Brock told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Thursday. “They had no right to get in front of him. They had no legal basis to be in the same room with him. That’s the disgrace of all of this.” [..] Brock, the bureau’ first ever intelligence chief under former Director Robert Mueller, described the Flynn episode as very abnormal.

[..] Brock described a 302 interview report related to Flynn’s interview as the most peculiar he had ever encountered out of the thousands he has written or reviewed. He said that if it is shown that the FBI interviewed Flynn for reasons pertaining to “a policy dispute” that would represent a “historic misuse of the FBI.”

Read more …

 

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Dec 212019
 
 December 21, 2019  Posted by at 10:42 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Unknown Butler’s dredge-boat, sunk by Confederate shell, James River, VA 1864

 

Assange Testifies In Trial Of Company That Spied On Him Inside Embassy (RT)
Former Intelligence Chiefs Fit Perfectly Into Media Advocacy Culture (Hanson)
Reindeer Games (Jim Kunstler)
It’s Time for J.J. Abrams To Be Impeached From Star Wars (Reason)
Americans Are Not ‘Free To Choose’ Anymore (Mauldin)
China’s $13 Trillion Problem Is Becoming Everyone’s (Pesek)
How Murder, Kidnappings And Miscalculation Set Off Hong Kong’s Revolt (R.)
Ryanair Will Not Refund Passengers Who Refuse To Fly On Boeing 737 Max (Ind.)
Boeing 737 MAX Production Shutdown Impacts Suppliers, Workers, Customers (F.)
Colombia Orders Uber To Cease Ride-Hailing (R.)
Now Fake Facebook Accounts Are Using Fake Faces (CNN)
How Ancient Mexican Metropolis Dodged Inequality Trap (R.)

 

 

The only coverage of Julian’s court appearance yesterday that I could find is from RT. ¿Perqué?

Assange Testifies In Trial Of Company That Spied On Him Inside Embassy (RT)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange briefly stepped out of maximum security prison in the UK to testify via video-link in a Spanish case against a company that spied on him inside the Ecuadorian embassy, allegedly on the US’ behalf. Assange, who is being held at Belmarsh prison in southern London pending his hearing on extradition to the US, was driven over to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, where a video-link was set up for him to speak with a judge in Madrid. The proceedings were closed to the press on the grounds of “national security.” The High Court in Madrid is hearing Assange’s case against Undercover Global Ltd, a Spanish security company that allegedly bugged him during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.


Undercover Global was contracted to provide embassy security between 2015 and 2018, and in that capacity secretly recorded Assange’s every move via hidden cameras, microphones and electronic surveillance, the lawsuit says. Assange told the court “he was absolutely unaware that the cameras recorded audio, that hidden microphones had been introduced” into the fire extinguisher mounts inside the embassy, his attorney Aitor Martinez told reporters in Madrid after the testimony. Assange was “an absolutely passive subject of an illegitimate interference that would have been eventually coordinated by the United States,” Martinez added. If the illegal surveillance targeted Assange’s legal team and violated his attorney-client privilege, that has ramifications on the proceedings against him in both the UK and the US, his lawyers have argued.

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Rand Paul: “In the advocacy culture of our new media, ex-government officials such as Brennan, Clapper and McCabe can be paid to appear on news programs to analyze (or vindicate) their own unethical behavior.”

Former Intelligence Chiefs Fit Perfectly Into Media Advocacy Culture (Hanson)

Former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have lots of things in common. One, they ran the nation’s key intelligence and investigatory agencies under former President Barack Obama. They were deeply involved in the “Russian collusion” hoax. And they participated in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition. Comey and McCabe both signed applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants requesting surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz criticized Comey and McCabe’s FBI for falsehoods and misrepresentations during its investigation of the Donald Trump campaign.

Clapper, Brennan and the FBI helped to disseminate the fallacious Steele dossier to the press and among government agencies. Two, Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper have all lied either under oath or in the public sphere. Horowitz has said that he referred Comey for criminal prosecution for leaking classified memos he wrote about his confidential conversations with the president, but the Justice Department did not pursue charges. Comey signed FISA warrant applications that the inspector general has determined were misleading at best and at worst simply flat-out wrong. In testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, there were 245 occasions on which Comey claimed he couldn’t remember details or couldn’t answer questions. Comey did not tell the truth when he said the Steele dossier was not the prime evidence that he submitted to the FISA court.

He also lied about when he was briefed on the dossier. McCabe was given a criminal referral for lying to federal investigators. His story about conspiring to catch Trump on tape in an effort to remove him under the 25th Amendment cannot be reconciled with the version of the account told by his apparent partner in that gambit, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Brennan has on two occasions lied under oath to Congress, first about collateral deaths caused by drone strikes abroad, then about CIA spying on Senate staffers’ computers. Clapper got caught lying about the surveillance of U.S. citizens and claimed he gave the “least untruthful” answer. Both have given accounts of their knowledge of the Steele dossier that are contradicted by a number of sources. Clapper falsely claimed of the dossier that “more and more of it has been corroborated.”

Three, all four of these former intelligence chiefs detest the president of the United States. Comey has compared Trump to a Mafia don and stated that he is morally unfit to be president. McCabe, who was likewise fired from the FBI, has called Trump’s behavior “disgusting.” Clapper said that Trump may be working with Putin as a Russian “asset.” Brennan called Trump a “disgraced demagogue” as well as venal, corrupt and amoral.

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“..when does this faction finally lose its appetite for self-degradation and dishonor?”

Reindeer Games (Jim Kunstler)

Mr. Trump appears eager and avid to go to trial, where his side could call witnesses to his heart’s delight while denying the opposition any witnesses, just as the Dems did in the house. His managers could call in the Bidens, Joe and Hunter, to explain their 2014 adventures in Ukraine, and the impressive payments tendered to them — for what? The defense could compel the testimony of the rogue CIA agent, Eric Ciaramella, to explain his pretensions of whistleblowing, and also his enabler, Intel IG Michael Atkinson, who left a procedural slime-trail in his handling of the “whistleblower” ruse. They could call in the fact-witness to all that, Rep. Adam Schiff, who would excite the wonder and loathing of the nation in being forced to reveal his part in that charade and to recount the myriad falsehoods he has spawned in three years of RussiaGate chicanery — which, in a truly just world, would prompt his expulsion from the house.

They could haul in Messrs Obama, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Mueller, Weissman, Rosenstein, McCabe, Ohr, Lynch, Strzok, Ms. Page, Ms. Yates, Mrs. Lynch, Mr. Halper — though I suspect that bunch would be better left to the ministrations of John Durham, just as the Democratic primaries roll out. A trial like that would be a rich spectacle for sure after subjecting the nation to three years of malicious, perfidious sedition. But other gusts of rumor intimate that senators on the Republican side would prefer to not open any cans of Ukrainian worms in a trial, since money laundered through the Ukrainian oligarch mills may have found its way into their pockets as well. Who knows…?

The simplest explanation for this hot mess is that Mrs. Pelosi’s team wanted desperately to just distract the country’s attention from the Horowitz report — which it pretty much failed to do — and now that she’s shot her wad with that gambit, she’s left holding a bag of meritless impeachment bullshit that will disappoint and embarrass the Resistance just as much as the Mueller investigation managed to do. Which leads to the question: when does this faction finally lose its appetite for self-degradation and dishonor?

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There you go. Put Schiff in charge.

It’s Time for J.J. Abrams To Be Impeached From Star Wars (Reason)

For the last four years, we have been living a collective nightmare. Our shared values have been undermined. Our cherished culture has come under attack. At its least harmful, this nightmare has taken the form of empty nostalgia, in which the leaders who have been entrusted with ushering us into the next era have instead looked into the past, distracting us with symbolic gestures that serve no purpose except to cover up a lack of vision. At its worst, a combination of incompetence, erraticness, and sometimes sheer malice has squandered decades of progress. The ensuing conversation has been fruitless and ugly, and the experience has left many of us polarized, angry, and exhausted.


This week, it finally started to look as if that nightmare might end—but only in the weakest and most slapdash manner. This resolution, which is not really a resolution, is not only a disaster: It’s a disappointment, a pointless, abysmal letdown that is virtually certain to fully satisfy almost no one. The result is a rushed and poorly executed product of bad management, empty thinking, and shallow wish-fulfillment that will only further the public’s loss of faith in the entire enterprise. I speak, of course, of the Star Wars franchise, which in late 2015 returned to movie theaters under the managerial oversight of Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, with a strong creative influence from Hollywood’s reigning prince of blockbuster mediocrity, J.J. Abrams.

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Close to what I recently wrote on capitalism and free markets, but from a professional investor point of view. Problem is, what does John Mauldin mean when he says “socialism”? Everyone means something different. That also makes polls on socialism suspect.

Americans Are Not ‘Free To Choose’ Anymore (Mauldin)

When you write for a wide audience, no matter what you say, or how carefully you say it, some people will misunderstand. Sometimes it’s amusing. Reading through my feedback (and I do read all of it), I get called both heartless capitalist and bleeding-heart socialist in reaction to the same article. In fact, I’m neither. I am a capitalist, and proudly so. I believe free markets are the best way to bring maximum prosperity and peace for everyone. But I’m not heartless, nor do I think markets are perfect. Even the best medicines can have serious side effects. That is doubly so when you aren’t taking the medicine correctly. I also don’t think the word capitalism means what we think it means, at least those of us of a certain age.

Take a look at the data from an interview Charles Payne did with David Bahnsen on Fox Business a few weeks ago. Asked if they favor capitalism or socialism, 49% of Millennials favored socialism. But if you ask if they favor big business or “free enterprise,” the numbers change significantly. In the future, I intend to substitute “free market” for capitalism where possible. Capitalism, at least the free market version, can’t work without competition. It motivates producers to offer the best products at the lowest prices, and lets consumers choose whatever best fits their needs. Yet instead of encouraging and protecting competition, the US government increasingly suppresses it. Last February I wrote about a then-new book, The Myth of Capitalism, by old friend Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn. They aren’t leftists at all. They respect classical capitalism and want it to work better than it is.

Here’s a quick snippet from the book. “Free to Choose” sounds great. Yet Americans are not free to choose. In industry after industry, they can only purchase from local monopolies or oligopolies that can tacitly collude. The US now has many industries with only three or four competitors controlling entire markets. Since the early 1980s, market concentration has increased severely. We’ve already described the airline industry. Here are other examples: • Two corporations control 90 percent of the beer Americans drink. • Five banks control about half of the nation’s banking assets. ª Many states have health insurance markets where the top two insurers have an 80 percent to 90 percent market share. For example, in Alabama one company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has an 84% market share and in Hawaii it has 65% market share.


Getty

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Just like America’s.

China’s $13 Trillion Problem Is Becoming Everyone’s (Pesek)

China’s Xi Jinping probably tops any list of people who can’t wait to see the back of 2019. These last 12 months produced the slowest mainland growth since the early 1990s, the biggest pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong’s history and mounting criticism of Beijing’s human rights record. By taking such an authoritarian stance, Taiwan has slipped further away from Beijing’s grip, while some political wags questioned whether Communist Party members were losing faith in President Xi’s governing style. But Xi has an even bigger challenge on his hands, and not just Donald Trump’s trade war antics. Make that 13 trillion challenges.

This figure refers to the size, in U.S. dollar terms, of China’s onshore bond market. And generally, its growth and development have long been touted as a vital rite of passage for the second-biggest economic power. The trouble with debt markets, though, is they tend to expose cracks in financial systems. Herein lies Xi’s biggest problem. Keeping growth north of 6% is reasonably easy for a command economy. Even amid the trade war, Xi’s party can order up giant infrastructure projects, slash taxes and cajole local governments to ramp up fiscal stimulus. It has its own ATM—the People’s Bank of China.

Trouble is, the more you borrow, the more investors can push back and the more even the most authoritarian of governments can lose control as punters vote with their feet. That risk is increasing along with a recent jump in private-sector debt defaults to a record high. According to Fitch, 4.9% of private companies missed bond payments from January to November, up from 4.2% for all of 2018. When you combine state and private companies, China Inc.’s onshore defaults risks are growing apace—from none a few years back to at least $18 billion so far this year. There’s an obvious caveat here. We can only discuss the default risks we know about—the ones regulators in Beijing cop to, not those that are being papered over with public assistance.

Signs of stress are also emerging in the offshore debt market. So are this year, there have been at least $75 billion defaults. With well over $200 billion of debt maturing over the next 24 months, Standard and Poor’s warns of increasing missed payments episodes. This trajectory collides with U.S. President Trump’s trade war. Ignore all that excitement over Trump’s “phase one” deal with Xi. It’s a polite ceasefire than won’t hold. With Trump getting zero from Xi in terms of re-ordering U.S.-China trade dynamics and facing the risk of removal from office, the odds of him lashing out anew at Asia are growing, not waning. It means that Xi’s annus horribilis won’t end even as calendars switch to 2020. The year ahead may very well be the one in which China’s debt troubles supersede all else.

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Very long, certainly for Reuters. But useful background.

How Murder, Kidnappings And Miscalculation Set Off Hong Kong’s Revolt (R.)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the plan that ignited the revolt in her city was born of a straightforward quest for justice. While on a trip to Taiwan, a Hong Kong man strangled his Hong Kong girlfriend, then returned home and confessed. The city lacked an extradition pact with Taiwan, and Lam argued the only way to send him back for trial was new laws that also would enable sending criminal suspects to mainland China. She dismissed fears about the proposal – which would mean Hong Kong residents could face trial in China’s Communist Party-controlled courts – and pushed ahead. As protests raged this summer, even in private Lam kept to her story that she, not Beijing, was the prime mover, driven by “compassion” for the young victim’s devastated parents.

“This is not something instructed, coerced by the central government,” she told a room of Hong Kong businesspeople at a talk in August. A Reuters examination has found a far more complicated story. Officials in Beijing first began pushing for an extradition law two decades ago. This pressure to extend the arm of Chinese law into Hong Kong’s independent British-style legal system intensified in 2017, a year before the slaying and two years before Lam’s administration announced its extradition bill. The impetus came from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Communist Party’s powerful internal anti-corruption body, which has been spearheading Chinese President Xi Jinping’s mass anti-graft campaign.

Xi’s crackdown spilled over dramatically into the streets of Hong Kong in the early hours of January 27, 2017. Among the targets of CCDI investigators at the time, two mainland Chinese officials with knowledge of the probe told Reuters, was a Chinese billionaire living in the city named Xiao Jianhua. A businessman with close ties to China’s political elite, Xiao was abducted that morning from his serviced apartment at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel. Unidentified captors whisked him out the entrance in a wheelchair with his head covered, a witness told Reuters.

The sensational kidnapping, widely reported at the time, was assumed by most people in this city of 7.5 million to have been the work of Chinese agents; Beijing has never commented publicly on the matter. Frustrated at the lack of legal means to get their hands on Xiao, the two Chinese officials told Reuters, the CCDI that same year began pressing mainland officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs about the urgent need for an extradition arrangement. The CCDI wanted a less politically damaging method than kidnapping for snaring fugitive mainlanders in Hong Kong, the officials said. The two sides failed to strike a deal, but the killing in Taiwan would provide a new opening.

Read more …

People book Ryanair 6-8 weeks before the flight, but planes are assigned less than 24 hours before.

Ryanair Will Not Refund Passengers Who Refuse To Fly On Boeing 737 Max (Ind.)

As Boeing winds down production of the 737 Max aircraft, the Ryanair boss has said passengers will “love them” when the planes are finally flying again. Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Europe’s biggest budget airline, has ordered 210 of a special version of the Max, seating eight extra passengers. None has so far been delivered, as the Boeing jet is grounded worldwide. The no-fly stipulation was declared worldwide after a second crash involving the Boeing 737 Max. [..] Boeing had initially predicted that software fixes would enable the 737 Max to be flying by the end of 2019. But as that hope faded, airlines have gradually removed it from the schedules in early 2020.


Michael O’Leary told The Independent: “As every day passes, it keeps moving backwards. “We originally hoped we’d get 30 aircraft for the summer, then it was 20, now it’s only 10. “If there really is more, another one month’s delay, it looks much more likely we will get zero aircraft in advance of the June-July-August summer peak.” But when the Boeing 737 Max is flying for Ryanair, anxious passengers who do not wish to travel on it will have no advance warning. “You won’t know, because on average you book seats on Ryanair six to eight weeks in advance of travel,” said Mr O’Leary. “We only do the aircraft allocations the night before, because we don’t know which aircraft is where. “During the first year, you’ll have a 10 per cent chance you’ll be on a Max aircraft. “Will anyone know or care? Frankly, I don’t think they will.”

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The airlines will demand compensation. But what about the crews, who work far fewer hours and lose wages?

Boeing 737 MAX Production Shutdown Impacts Suppliers, Workers, Customers (F.)

The effluence of Boeing’s long-avoided decision, announced Monday, to halt production of 737 MAX aircraft until the plane is recertified for service has begun rolling downhill, causing the biggest third-party supplier to the program to suspend production of MAX fuselages. Spirit AeroSystems, a former division of Boeing based in Wichita, Kansas, said today it will stop making MAX fuselages – effectively the body of the plane, excluding its small nose cone and large tail section – effective Jan. 1. That’s the same day Boeing will stop building MAX planes, about 400 of which currently are finished but undeliverable and parked on ramps, unused taxiways and even employees’ parking lots at Boeing facilities.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, which had to park 14 MAX planes and stop taking delivery of others nine months ago when the Federal Aviation Administration took away the MAX’s certification, said today that it has pushed back plans to bring the MAX back into its schedule all the way to June 4. Most recently it had been targeting an April restart of MAX flying. But continued delays in getting the plane recertified by the FAA (and ultimately by the aviation safety regulators of other nations) has made it very difficult for airlines to predict when they’ll be able to fly MAX planes once again. United has the smallest batch of MAX planes in its fleet of the three U.S. carriers that have bought the newest, and significantly re-designed version of the venerable 50-year-old 737 line.

Southwest had 34 copies of the MAX when the grounding took place, while American had 24. All three carriers also have large orders for more MAX planes and have been unable to add them to their fleets since March, reducing their ability to retire older planes or to grow their fleet size. That reduced growth opportunity has affected the airlines’ abilities to grow their revenue and profits as planned, and has increased their costs somewhat by forcing them to underuse the pilots, flight attendants and other employees who were expected to staff the now-grounded MAX planes.

[..] leaders of the Transport Worker Union unit that represents Southwest’s 17,00 flight attendants today released a letter they sent this week to Southwest president Gary Kelly and vice president of inflight operations Sonya Lacore. The union leaders asked for additional help in addressing the “financial toal” on flight attendants whose pay has been reduced significantly while the MAX planes have been idled. The MAX groundings have left Southwest with more flight attendants on the payroll that it need. But rather than lay off hundreds of them and incur huge costs for retraining and re-scheduling attendants who’d be displaced by the resulting wave of seniority displacements, Southwest has retained all those extra attendants. But that means many attendants now are being assigned fewer flight hours, which diminishes their earnings.

Read more …

Are Colombia’s laws that much different from other countries?

Colombia Orders Uber To Cease Ride-Hailing (R.)

Colombia on Friday ordered Uber to cease its ride-hailing operations in the Andean country, effective immediately, after a judge ruled the company violated competition rules. Following a lawsuit filed against Uber by COTECH SA, the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) said the U.S. company had breached market rules. Uber has more than 2.3 million active users in Colombia and around 88,000 driver partners. The app, however, has existed in a regulatory no-man’s land in Colombia. The Technology Ministry deems ride-hailing apps legal while transport authorities say they are against the law.


In a statement the SIC said Uber generated “a significant advantage in the market” by rendering transport services for individuals via its application. The SIC said that following analysis, it ordered Uber’s ride-hailing services “through the use of the Uber application to cease immediately.” The order applies to Uber, Uber X and Uber VAN. Uber said in a statement that it rejects the ruling and immediately appealed it. “This decision reflects an act of censorship and infringes on the Inter American Convention on Human Rights, which has already condemned attempts to block Uber for violating the neutrality of the web, liberty of expression and freedom of internet,” Uber said in a statement.

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Interesting, but since this is CNN, they blame Russia China, not America. A deepfake group that spends $10 million on Facebook ads sounds like a professional campaign.

Now Fake Facebook Accounts Are Using Fake Faces (CNN)

Artificially-generated faces of people who don’t exist are being used to front fake Facebook (FB) accounts in an attempt to trick users and game the company’s systems, the social media network said Friday. Experts who reviewed the accounts say it is the first time they have seen fake images like this being used at scale as part of a single social media campaign. The accounts, which were removed by Facebook on Friday, were part of a network that generally posted in support of President Trump and against the Chinese government, experts who reviewed the accounts said. Many of the accounts promoted links to a Facebook page and website called “The BL.” Facebook said the accounts were tied to the US-based Epoch Media Group, which owns The Epoch Times newspaper, a paper tied to the Falun Gong movement that is similarly pro-Trump.

The publisher of the Epoch Times denied that Epoch and The BL were linked in emails to the fact-checking organization Snopes earlier this year. The dystopian revelation of the use of artificially-generated images in this way points to an increasingly complicated online information landscape as America enters a presidential election year. Silicon Valley and the US intelligence community are still struggling with the fallout from widespread online interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Facebook accounts used profile pictures that appeared to show real people smiling and looking directly into a camera. But the people do not and have never existed, according to Facebook and other researchers. The images were created using artificial intelligence technology.

The same basic methods are used to produce deepfake videos — fake videos that the US intelligence community has warned could be used as part of a foreign disinformation campaign targeting Americans. [..] In all, Facebook said Friday, it had removed a network of 610 Facebook accounts, 89 pages, 90 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts. About 55 million accounts followed one or more of the pages, and the vast majority of followers were outside the United States, Facebook said. Facebook did not say if all of all these followers were real — some of them may themselves have been fake accounts. The network of pages removed on Friday had spent almost $10 million on Facebook ads, according to Facebook.

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It’s a question of organization.

How Ancient Mexican Metropolis Dodged Inequality Trap (R.)

Fragments of pre-Aztec murals recently unearthed on the outskirts of what was once the largest city of the Americas are adding to mounting evidence that even commoners there enjoyed the finer things in life. Each year, millions of tourists visit the towering pyramids and temples of the sprawling metropolis of Teotihuacan, far from the latest discoveries on the city’s southern edge. “We’re now finding that life on the periphery was pretty good,” said Boston University archeologist David Carballo, who discovered brightly-colored paintings over fine stucco on three buildings he began excavating there in July.

Decorated with flowers and birds that appear to be singing, the murals evoking a paradise found nearly three kilometers (2 miles) from Teotihuacan’s core came as a complete surprise, he said. Carballo and his team have also found other signs of wealth nearby, including jade, a finely carved stone mask, and shells from Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts. The unpublished mural discoveries point to the radically different path charted by Teotihuacan, which thrived from about 100 B.C. to 550 A.D., compared to other ancient civilizations. At a time when daily life in the biggest contemporary Mayan cities, or ancient Rome and Egypt, was marked by a tiny elite lording over impoverished or enslaved masses, most of Teotihuacan’s estimated 100,000 inhabitants fared far better.

[..] In the city’s La Ventilla district, another aspect of Teotihuacan’s egalitarian character comes into view: stone, multi-family apartment compounds where over 90% of Teotihuacanos lived. Off limits to tourists despite extremely rare glyphs painted on a plaza, the narrow streets of La Ventilla’s residential compounds suggest a densely-packed urban existence. The compounds boast white lime-plaster floors, built-in drainage systems, open-air courtyards and murals. Lying 48 km northeast of Mexico City, Teotihuacan has more than 2,000 such compounds, thanks to a century-long building boom that ended around 350 A.D.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Dec 162019
 
 December 16, 2019  Posted by at 10:48 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Water supply in squatter camp near Calipatria CA 1937

 

An Apology to Carter Page (Jonathan Turley)
James Comey Admits He Was Wrong for Defending FBI’s FISA Process (ET)
‘You Need Rehabilitation’: Nunes Letter Dismantles Schiff (ZH)
Schiff Wants Witnesses, Documents Introduced In Senate Impeachment Trial (CNN)
Schumer Wants Mulvaney, Bolton, Others To Testify In Impeachment Trial (R.)
Is A Trap Being Set For Trump In The Senate Trial? (MacKinnon)
Democrats Can Read Minds (Attkisson)
Eric Holder Reveals Deep State Running Scared – Kevin Shipp (USAW)
Former Spy Details Israel’s Main Motive Behind Recruiting Epstein (Webb)
China Must Buy Crazy Amount Of Farm Goods To Meet Phase One Deal Demand (CNBC)
China Races To Destroy Records On Uighur Muslim Detention Camps (AP)
Boeing Nears Decision On Cutting Or Even Halting 737 MAX Production (CNBC)

 

 

Long overdue.

An Apology to Carter Page (Jonathan Turley)

After he was acquitted in a major fraud trial, former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan asked, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” The trial was ruinous for Donovan, personally and financially, and the question was a fair one. Donovan, however, at least received a trial. Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has never been given a fair hearing, let alone a trial, to clear his name. As the two political parties spin the results of a report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, one matter remains unaddressed. Someone needs to apologize to Page.

I do not know Page and have had only one conversation with him that I can recall. Indeed, my only impression of him was shaped by the image, repeated in endless media segments, of a shady character who was at worst a Russian spy and at best a Russian stooge. Page became the face and focus for the justification of the Russia collusion investigation. His manifest guilt and sinister work in Moscow had to be accepted in order to combat those questioning the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians. In other words, his guilt had to be indisputable in order for the Russia collusion investigation to be, so to speak, unimpeachable.

Ultimately, special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion or conspiracy by Trump associates or the campaign with those Russians intervening in the election. However, Horowitz found that the FBI never had any real evidence against Page before beginning its investigation, codenamed Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Soon after the investigation was opened, it became clear that Page had been wrongly accused and was, in fact, working for the CIA, not the Russians. Page himself later said he was working with the CIA, yet the media not only dismissed his claim but was very openly dismissive while portraying him as a bumbling fool.

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Comey feels sure he’ll get away with it. After all, he’s already left the FBI. But John Durham is still digging.

James Comey Admits He Was Wrong for Defending FBI’s FISA Process (ET)

Former FBI Director James Comey admitted fault following last week’s Justice Department Inspector General’s report that detailed at least 17 serious errors during the launch of the agency’s investigation into Trump’s campaign. Comey had previously defended the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts during the investigation, but Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI’s investigative team made errors and omissions when applying for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide. Horowitz, in a Senate hearing, criticized the “entire chain of command” at the FBI and Justice Department for their failures in handling the warrant. Comey was in charge of the FBI when the investigation was launched.

“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey told “Fox News Sunday” about how the FBI used the FISA system, adding that “I was overconfident as director in our procedures.” Horowitz said the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference and alleged connections to the Trump campaign was properly initiated, but he said there is a “low threshold” for that to happen. In the report, the inspector general said there was no documentary or testimonial evidence implying that the investigation was started due to political bias. However, when he was prodded about the bias claim during the Senate hearing, Horowitz didn’t rule it out. During a line of questioning, Horowitz replied to Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), “I think it’s fair for people to sit there and look at all of these 17 events and wonder how it could be purely incompetence.” He also said that he “agrees completely” with the assertion that someone at the FBI needs to be fired. The “culture” also needs to be “changed” at the FBI, he told senators.

[..] A number of FBI officials directly involved in preparing and signing the FISA warrants have all either left or been fired from the bureau, including Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. Comey told the news outlet that Steele’s work was “not a huge part of the presentation to the court,” but he noted that “it was the one that convinced the lawyers” to move forward on the warrant. The former FBI chief claimed the Bureau didn’t intentionally commit wrongdoing, but he said there was “real sloppiness” at the FBI. “I was responsible for this,” he said. In 2018, Comey told MSNBC that the FISA process is “incredibly rigorous” and criticized Republicans of the Page FISA warrant for trying to interject politics into the process. And after the IG report was released on Dec. 6, Comey said the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s campaign “was just good people trying to protect America.”

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The most vilified Nunes was fully “rehabilitated” by Horowitz. He now calls for an intervention on Schiff. He should call for his resignation.

‘You Need Rehabilitation’: Nunes Letter Dismantles Schiff (ZH)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has written perhaps the most brutal ‘I told ya so’ letter in recent memory to Adam Schiff, his Democratic rival and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. After last week’s Inspector General report on FBI FISA abuse revealed Schiff was peddling lies to the American public in a February, 2018 ‘counter-memo’ to Nunes’s now-proven claims, Schiff passed the buck – telling Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday that he was ‘unaware’ of certain things uncovered by the IG – while failing to admit he’s been dead wrong on an ongoing basis about a number of things. Nunes isn’t letting this go.

In a Sunday letter, he reminded Schiff that “The IG’s findings of pervasive, major abuses by the FBI dramatically contradict the assertions of your memo released on February 24, 2018, in which you claimed, “FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump Campaign.” Schiff is in clear “need of rehabilitiation,” continues Nunes, adding “I hope this letter will serve as the first step in that vital process.” “Outlining every false claim from your memo would require an extremely long letter,” Nunes continues, who then lists several key claims made by Schiff which ‘the IG report has exposed as false.’

[..] Nunes then calls out Schiff for defending Steele, who peddled his discredited, Clinton-funded dossier to the media six weeks before the 2016 US election. “As you know, your misguided validation of the FISA warrant was part of a years-long pattern in which you touted Christopher Steele’s credentials and reliability,” writes Nunes. “For example, during this committee’s March 20, 2017 open hearing, you claimed Steele “is reportedly held in high regard by U.S. Intelligence.” and proceeded to read into the congressional record numerous conspiracy theories proffered by Steele, all of which are false.”

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Who is Schiff to call for witnesses in the Senate? That‘s not his theater. Schiff must resign, like Comey if the latter still could. Schiff now says his endless former claims of “damning evidence” were made before certain facts had come to light.

That means he’s been making it up. That means he’s been lying all along. That means his claims were entirely false. He’s way past his best by date. But he should certainly be called to testify in the Senate. Under oath, which he never was in the House.

Schiff Wants Witnesses, Documents Introduced In Senate Impeachment Trial (CNN)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Sunday said he would like for some witnesses to be called during the expected Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump and for withheld administration documents to be introduced as evidence. “I think there are any number of witnesses that should be called in the Senate trial, and many witnesses the American people would like to hear from that the administration has refused to make available,” Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.” “And perhaps of equal and if not greater importance are the thousands and thousands of documents that the administration refuses to turn over. I would hope that every senator of both parties would like to see the documentary evidence.”

The California Democrat’s remarks come ahead of an expected House floor vote this week after the House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved articles of impeachment against the President. The full House vote will set up the Senate trial, for which senators are now gearing up Schiff, who has been mentioned as a possible House impeachment manager, said the potential witnesses he has in mind are ones who have refused to talk to House impeachment investigators: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The layout of the Senate trial is still under deliberation and leaders have been clear that no final decisions about strategy or structure have been made, but in interviews over the last several days, GOP senators say they are beginning to see the benefit of keeping the process short, leaving out witnesses and instead, simply laying out the facts with a presentation from House managers and the White House. “I would urge Mitch McConnell to start negotiating with Chuck Schumer to make sure that those senators have a full record,” Schiff said. “So far Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer have not started discussions about the outlines of the rules that will govern a trial.”

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The Dems refused for the GOP to call its witnesses in the House. But now is different?

Schumer Wants Mulvaney, Bolton, Others To Testify In Impeachment Trial (R.)

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer proposed in a letter released on Sunday that at least four witnesses including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton be subpoenaed to testify in the expected impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. In the letter to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Schumer proposed that Mulvaney and Bolton be subpoenaed for the trial expected in January along with a Mulvaney adviser, Robert Blair, and a budget official, Michael Duffey.


[..] Schumer said the witnesses he proposed had “direct knowledge of Administration decisions” related to the charges. He said he would be open to additional witnesses, and proposed subpoenas be issued for some documents from the administration. A spokesman for McConnell said: “Leader McConnell has made it clear he plans to meet with Leader Schumer to discuss the contours of a trial soon. That timeline has not changed.” McConnell has raised the prospect of conducting a short trial without calling any witnesses.

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“He is not part of the club. He is not one of us. He can’t be controlled.”

Is A Trap Being Set For Trump In The Senate Trial? (MacKinnon)

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in October, former governor and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley put her finger on the greater issue, saying in part, “President Trump is a disruptor. That makes some people very happy, and it makes some people very mad. … When I was in the administration, I served alongside colleagues who believed the best thing to do for America was to undermine and obstruct the president. Some wrote about it anonymously in The New York Times. Others just did it. They sincerely believed they were doing the right thing. I sincerely believed they weren’t. … No policy disagreement with him … justifies undermining the lawful authority that is vested in his office by the Constitution.”

What’s at stake, Haley said, “is not President Trump’s policies. What’s at stake is the Constitution.” She is correct, but does all of this go beyond Trump being a disruptor? As we have witnessed, Trump is being opposed, called out and undermined through leaks by multiple anonymous and named sources from the “deep state,” his own National Security Council, former White House staff, former and current Pentagon, State Department and diplomatic officials, members of Congress and their staffs, and basically every other agency within the federal government. There appears to be a common thread that runs through all of this opposition and stated hatred: “He is not part of the club. He is not one of us. He can’t be controlled.”

The unrelenting opposition to Trump is not based on the fictional quid pro quo with Ukraine’s president but rather a desperate need by the entrenched establishment from both political parties to maintain the status quo of their all-powerful club — aka part of the “swamp” Trump sought to drain. For Trump to be convicted in a Senate trial, 20 Republican senators would have to join forces with the 47 Democrats. We should not worry about those who openly dislike Trump, such as Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine) or Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska); we should worry about those in the purple states, who face tough reelection fights in 2020, and those who have continually criticized and demeaned the president in private.

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Stating the very very obvious: it’s all been about opinion and interpretation. Not a ground for impeachment.

Democrats Can Read Minds (Attkisson)

Democrats say, what Trump held out as leverage — a quid pro quo — was U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid to Ukraine. They say people died while Ukraine waited for this critical aid, and that it was released only when Trump realized he was in trouble and under investigation. And finally, they say Trump held up a White House meeting with the Ukrainian president until he would commit to announcing an investigation into Biden, in a very public interview with CNN. It’s bribery. Treason. Impeachable. The issue I have is that to prove their points, Democrats require us to believe they can read minds. President Trump said nothing about a quid pro quo during the phone call in question. He didn’t threaten to hold up aid or a White House meeting. But Democrats say that’s exactly what he meant.

President Trump didn’t make any expressions of demands in the call. But Democrats say that’s what he meant. President Trump didn’t mention the 2020 election or political dirt on the call. He spoke of getting to the bottom of any 2016 foreign election interference under the Obama administration, as Democrats and Republicans have pressed him to do. On the call, Trump spoke of his desire for Ukraine to investigate corruption and whether the Bidens may be connected to any of it. This, said Trump, particularly concerned Joe Biden’s public admission that he demanded a Ukrainian prosecutor be fired and threatened to hold up U.S. taxpayer-funded aid unless it happened within hours. (Biden says the prosecutor wasn’t working hard enough to investigate corruption; Biden’s critics say there was a conflict of interest because the prosecutor was investigating the energy company where Biden’s son was paid to sit on the board.)

But Democrats say something different than what was said was actually in President Trump’s mind: He was secretly attempting to impact the 2020 campaign. Trump didn’t mention 2020 but, Democrats say, he meant 2020 in his own mind. Trump didn’t allude to political dirt but, they say, that’s exactly what Trump was thinking about. Some of the Democrats’ witnesses stated that Trump likely wanted Ukraine’s president to publicly announce a corruption investigation to hold his feet to the fire because the Ukrainians have a habit of committing to one thing but doing another. But Democrats insist Trump had something else in his mind: Trump wanted the public announcement to embarrass and use against Biden in the 2020 campaign. The president of Ukraine has publicly stated, and put in writing, that he felt no pressure from President Trump. But Democrats say the opposite is true. After all, they can read minds.

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“The mainstream media will never come back from this because finally, through shows like this and others, the real information is coming out as to what the mainstream media has done.”

Eric Holder Reveals Deep State Running Scared – Kevin Shipp (USAW)

Former CIA officer and counter-intelligence expert Kevin Shipp says that former Obama Administration Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder gave a big Deep State panic signal when he wrote in an Op-Ed last week in the Washington Post trashing current AG William Barr and his top prosecutor John Durham. Shipp explains:

“This is very significant. We all remember that Holder was Obama’s right hand man. Eric Holder was Barack Obama’s enforcer. The fact that Holder comes out this quickly after the Inspector General (IG) Horowitz Report comes out . . . and makes this veiled threat against Durham’s reputation. The fact that Eric Holder came out and made this statement is a clear indication to me they are running scared. We have to understand it was Eric Holder that Barack Obama used to target the heads of corporations that spoke out publicly about Barack Obama. We know Holder was held in ‘Contempt of Congress.’ He spied on AP reporters, ran guns to drug cartels and blacked out the information. He spied on over a hundred journalists, and on and on we go. . . . They (Deep State) are convinced there are going to be indictments.

Secondly, there is AG Barr’s outrage over (IG) Horowitz’s report and what it did not do. He made statements that there was spying and actions by government officials that need to be criminally looked into. Barr’s outrage over this shows me that there are going to be indictments, and that he is taking this seriously. Again, when Holder comes out and puts out this bombshell in the Washington Post, which is another indication that indictments are coming. John Brennan, former Obama Administration CIA Director, is going to be at the top of the list.” Shipp thinks this will be a big nail in the coffin of the MSM. Shipp says, “The mainstream media will never come back from this because finally, through shows like this and others, the real information is coming out as to what the mainstream media has done. At the top of that list is the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC. . . .

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Whitney is back.

Former Spy Details Israel’s Main Motive Behind Recruiting Epstein (Webb)

Ben-Menashe revealed his understanding of why Epstein was eventually shepherded into acting as a professional sexual blackmailer on behalf of Israeli military intelligence. Per Ben-Menashe, there were concerns among Israeli intelligence figures that, following the Reagan Era, a new president would push for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, something those officials sought to avoid by any means necessary. Thus, Ben-Menashe argues, when Bill Clinton’s candidacy in the 1992 U.S. Presidential election became clear, efforts were made to target him via sexual blackmail and Jeffrey Epstein was chosen for that purpose. Bill Clinton was eventually blackmailed by the state of Israel and his administration was also targeted by Israeli espionage as part of the “Mega” spy scandal.


Epstein’s involvement in the Clinton administration and his visits to the White House date back to Clinton’s first year in office. In addition, MintPress also asked Ben-Menashe if he was aware of Ghislaine Maxwell being directly involved with her father’s intelligence-related activities prior to his death in 1991. Ben-Menashe noted that Ghislaine accompanied her father so frequently, including on a now-infamous 1989 party on Maxwell’s yacht where Donald Trump and several key figures in the PROMIS software scandal were in attendance, that she was involved in his intelligence-related activities to some extent. However, he stopped short of saying how involved she was or what she has specifically been involved in prior to her father’s death.

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Too many soybeans?! Can China buy US produce with something else than dollars?

China Must Buy Crazy Amount Of Farm Goods To Meet Phase One Deal Demand (CNBC)

China ramping up agricultural purchases to the level that the U.S. is demanding would be a problem and Beijing would probably only do it if the market situation warranted it, analysts said. Their comments pour skepticism on the farm purchases that are part of the phase one trade deal recently announced by both countries. Calling it a “crazy amount” of agricultural buying with “market distorting powers” on a global scale, Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, said: “The ramping up of scale at that speed is going to be problematic.” She told CNBC: “I would be willing to take a bet … that we will be back at this table in relatively short order even if we get a deal, because the ability of the Chinese to actually match those purchases is going to be limited.”

U.S. and Chinese officials announced on Friday that both countries finally reached an agreement after a contentious 18-month trade war. But as part of the deal, U.S. President Donald Trump insisted that China buy more U.S. crops, saying that Beijing will purchase $50 billion worth of agriculture goods “pretty soon.” For his part, he vowed not to pursue a new round of tariffs originally set for the previous Sunday. But Elms warned that the Chinese has been “very cautious” in saying that they would buy according to market conditions and World Trade Organization restrictions. “In other words, there’s a giant red flag that says: ‘even if we promise this … be careful because if the market doesn’t support the purchases at that level, then we may not reach that target,’” she told CNBC on Monday.

That skepticism was echoed by other analysts, who also pointed out that there are limits to the amount of farm goods that China can consume. “Some of this deal rhetoric is really more about politics than reality,” said Mark Jolley, global strategist at CCB International Securities. “There’s been some people who’ve been saying the only way they would be able to meet that commitment is if they start stockpiling food — it’s going be in excess of probably what they need to buy,” he told CNBC. “It’s pretty difficult to see how they can increase the imports beyond the natural levels they have been taking.”

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A German Muslim football player for UK’s Arsenal, Mesut Özil, spoke out in defence of the Uighurs a few days ago. A livebroad cast of a game in China was cancelled. His team turned on him, afraid to lose business in China.

China Races To Destroy Records On Uighur Muslim Detention Camps (AP)

A Chinese local government is deleting data and destroying documents after classified papers were leaked offering information on its mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities, according to four people in contact with government employees there. They claimed regional officials in Xinjiang province are also tightening controls on information and have held high-level meetings following the leaks. Top officials deliberated how to respond in meetings at the Chinese Communist Party’s regional headquarters in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, some of the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of retribution against themselves, family members and the government workers.


The meetings began days after The New York Times published last month a cache of internal speeches on Xinjiang by top leaders including Xi Jinping, China’s president. They continued after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists worked with news organisations to publish secret guidelines for operating detention centres and instructions on how to use technology to target people. The Chinese government has long struggled with its 11 million Uighurs, an ethnic Turkic minority native to Xinjiang, a far west province. In recent years, it has detained one million or more Uighurs and other minorities in the camps. Xinjiang officials and the Chinese foreign ministry have not directly denied the authenticity of the documents, though Urumqi Communist Party chief Xu Hairong called reports on the leaks “malicious smears and distortions”.

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Does anyone at all understand what this involves anymore? One more crash and those who decide to let the plane fly will be accused of manslaughter or worse.

Boeing Nears Decision On Cutting Or Even Halting 737 MAX Production (CNBC)

Boeing could disclose as early as Monday a decision on whether further cut or suspend production of the 737 Max amid continued uncertainty about the beleaguered plane’s return to service, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday The company has repeatedly warned investors that it could cut output of the planes again or temporarily shut down its production line altogether if the flight ban drags on longer than it expected. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has said that suspending production could be “more efficient” than lowering output again.

Boeing, whose board is holding a regularly scheduled meeting in Chicago on Sunday and Monday, cut 737 Max production in April by 20% from 52 aircraft a month to 42 a month in the wake of a second fatal crash of the best-selling plane within five months. Regulators around the world responded to those crashes by grounding the aircraft. Boeing last week acknowledged that regulators aren’t likely to recertify the planes by the end of the year, as the Chicago-based manufacturer had previously forecast. A further cut or a suspension of production would further weigh on Boeing, which is facing a rising bill from the Max’s grounding. The company took a nearly $5 billion after-tax charge in the second quarter to compensate airlines hit by the flight ban.

Boeing’s shifted outlook came after the Federal Aviation Administration publicly admonished Boeing over concerns that the company “continues to pursue a return-to-service schedule that is not realistic due to delays that have accumulated for a variety of reasons,” the agency said in an email to lawmakers on Thursday. “More concerning, the Administrator wants to directly address the perception that some of Boeing’s public statements have been designed to force FAA into taking quicker action.”

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Oct 152019
 
 October 15, 2019  Posted by at 9:43 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Paul Gauguin A seashore 1887

 

Trump Tells Turkey To Stop Its Syria Invasion (R.)
‘You’ve Been Duped By Spooks & Terrorists’ (RT)
Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production (Jac.)
No Choice But To Invest In Oil, Shell CEO Says (R.)
New German Rules Leave 5G Telecoms Door Open To Huawei (R.)
James Comey Is Swimming In Cash (BI)
Ghislaine Maxwell’s Open Secret (Webb)
Behind Hong Kong’s Black Terror (Escobar)
Trio Wins Economics Nobel For Science-Based Poverty Fight (R.)

 

 

Did they plan this in advance?

Trump Tells Turkey To Stop Its Syria Invasion (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday demanded Turkey stop its military incursion in Syria and imposed new sanctions on the NATO ally as Trump scrambled to limit the damage from his much-criticized decision to clear U.S. troops from Turkey’s path. Vice President Mike Pence said Trump had told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call on Monday to agree to an immediate ceasefire. He also said he would travel to the region soon to try to mediate the crisis. Pence said Trump had been firm with Erdogan on the phone. “The United States of America simply is not going to tolerate Turkey’s invasion in Syria any further. We are calling on Turkey to stand down, end the violence and come to the negotiating table,” Pence told reporters.

Turkey launched a cross-border operation into northern Syria on Wednesday just days after Erdogan told Trump in a phone call that he planned to move ahead with a long-planned move against America’s Kurdish allies in the region. Trump abruptly announced a redeployment of 50 American troops from the conflict zone to get them out of harm’s way, dismissing criticism that this would leave the Kurds open to attack. This was widely seen as giving Erdogan a green light for his operation. With lawmakers in the U.S. Congress moving to impose sanctions of their own, Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against current and former officials of the Turkish government for contributing to Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.


In a statement, Trump said he had increased tariffs on imports of Turkish steel back up to 50 percent, six months after they were reduced, and would immediately stop negotiations on what he called a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey. “Unfortunately, Turkey does not appear to be mitigating the humanitarian effects of its invasion,” said Trump.

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The New York Times had no credibility left anyway.

‘You’ve Been Duped By Spooks & Terrorists’ (RT)

A damning report by the New York Times, which accused Russia of bombing four UN-protected hospitals in Syria, is a product of misinformation by Western intelligence services and jihadists, the Russian military said. On Sunday, the leading US newspaper said it had irrefutable proof that Russian warplanes had bombed four sites in Syria, which it knew to be locations of civilian hospitals. The accusation stems from analysis of social media, interviews with witnesses, data provided by local plane spotters and records of communications of the Russian military deployed in Syria. The bombings, which happened on May 5 and 6, are just a faction of attacks on civilian infrastructure, for which Moscow carries responsibility, the newspaper alleged.

Responding to the accusation on Monday, the Russian military said Times report was flawed for several reasons, including failure to explain that Idlib Governorate, where the four alleged bombings took place, lives under rule of brutal jihadists. That detail affects the entire narrative, indicating its flawed sourcing. “Gadgets, modern radio scanners, protected notebooks, internet connection are all things that the local civilian population simply cannot afford. They are more interested in daily surviving under the yoke of the terrorists,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. He was referring to the equipment used by “plane spotters”, who provided their data to Times.


The newspaper said those observers “insisted on anonymity for their safety”, but the Russian military says they shouldn’t have bothered and identified them as the people behind a “combat intelligence system” based on equipment developed by a US company called Hala Systems. The system known as Sentry is a collection of suitcase-sized sensors connected into a network plus an AI-based algorithm, which uses signals from those sensors as well as social media data to analyze and predict airstrikes in Idlib. Hala Systems says it’s a for-profit company that develops and operates the system on grants from governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark the United States, and Germany.

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Electable?

Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production (Jac.)

Bernie Sanders released a proposal today that would gradually shift 20 percent of corporate equity into funds owned and controlled by the workers in each company. The plan, which would apply to all publicly-traded companies and large closely-held companies, would move 2 percent of corporate stock into worker funds each year for a decade. Once the shares are transferred into the funds, workers would begin receiving dividends and have the ability to exercise the voting rights of the shares, including the right to vote on corporate board elections and on shareholder resolutions. Sanders’s plan is by far the most radical worker ownership proposal put forward by a presidential candidate in recent memory.

By last count, the market value of publicly-traded domestic companies stood at $35.6 trillion. This means that the Sanders plan would shift at least $7.1 trillion of corporate equity into worker funds by gradually diluting the value of previously-issued corporate stock. Those who stand to “lose” from the proposal are the incumbent owners of corporate equity, which are overwhelmingly affluent people. At present, the top 10 percent of families own around 86.4 percent of corporate equities and mutual fund shares, with the top one percent owning 52 percent by themselves.


Closely-held businesses, which will also be affected by the scheme if they are large enough, have similarly concentrated ownership, with the top 10 percent of families owning 87.5 percent of private business equity and the top one percent of families owning 57.5 percent of it. Of course, these incumbent owners will not actually lose anything in an absolute sense. The average historical return of the US stock market has been 9.8 percent per year, while the average return of the last 10 years has been just over 13 percent. The effect of the two percent share issuances is to knock the total rate of return down by two percentage points, meaning that incumbent owners still get richer year-over-year, just less so than they would absent the Sanders plan.

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Well, they’re on oil company. What did you expect?

No Choice But To Invest In Oil, Shell CEO Says (R.)

Royal Dutch Shell still sees abundant opportunity to make money from oil and gas in coming decades even as investors and governments increase pressure on energy companies over climate change, its chief executive said. But in an interview with Reuters, Ben van Beurden expressed concern that some shareholders could abandon the world’s second-largest listed energy company due partly to what he called the “demonisation” of oil and gas and “unjustified” worries that its business model was unsustainable. The 61-year-old Dutch executive in recent years became one of the sector’s most prominent voices advocating action over global warming in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Shell, which supplies around 3% of the world’s energy, set out in 2017 a plan to halve the intensity of its greenhouse emissions by the middle of the century, based in large part on building one of the world’s biggest power businesses. Still, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from Shell’s operations and the products it sells rose by 2.5% between 2017 and 2018. A defiant van Beurden rejected a rising chorus from climate activists and parts of the investor community to transform radically the 112-year-old Anglo-Dutch company’s traditional business model. “Despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it,” van Beurden said. “We have no choice” but to invest in long-life projects, he added.

[..][ “We can sustain an upstream portfolio all the way into the 2030s if there is an economic rationale for doing that and a societal rationale for doing that,” van Beurden said. “Fortunately enough, we have more of those than we have money to spend on them.” Van Beurden rejected as a “red herring” arguments that Shell’s oil and gas reserves, which can sustain its current production for around eight years, would be economically unviable, or stranded, in the future. A lack of investment in oil and gas projects could lead to a supply shortage and result in price spikes, he said. “One of the bigger risks is not so much that we will become dinosaurs because we are still investing in oil and gas when there is no need for it anymore. A bigger risk is prematurely turning your back on oil and gas.”


Shell plans to increase its annual spending to around $32 billion by 2025 from the current $25 billion, with up to one tenth allocated to renewables and the power business. The company, the world’s largest dividend payer, plans to return $125 billion to shareholders in the five years to 2025.

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“..banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks.”

New German Rules Leave 5G Telecoms Door Open To Huawei (R.)

Germany has finalised rules for the build-out of 5G mobile networks that, in a snub to the United States, will not exclude China’s Huawei Technologies. Government officials confirmed that Germany’s so-called security catalogue foresaw an evaluation of technical and other criteria, but that no single vendor would be barred in order to create a level playing field for equipment vendors. “We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference in Berlin on Monday. The United States has piled pressure on its allies to shut out Huawei, the leading telecoms equipment vendor with a global market share of 28%, saying its gear contained ‘back doors’ that would enable China to spy on other countries.


German operators are all customers of Huawei and have warned that banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks. The Shenzhen-based company has denied the allegations by Washington, which imposed export controls on Huawei in May, hobbling its smartphone business and raising questions over whether the Chinese company can maintain its market lead. U.S. officials have also argued that, under China’s national intelligence law, all citizens and companies are required to collaborate in espionage efforts.

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No kidding: “It’s a lot!” Comey told the Times. “Seriously, it’s crazy.”

James Comey Is Swimming In Cash (BI)

Losing a job and having your career go up in flames can be scarring. But the smoldering embers sometimes give forth to fertile new soil from which to start anew. Few have had a more public and dramatic firing than former-FBI director James Comey, who President Donald Trump infamously and suddenly ousted in 2017 amid inquiries into Russian meddling and suspicions that he did not have Comey’s loyalty. That fateful decision sent Comey’s law-enforcement career up in smoke — and precipitated the special-counsel investigation by Robert Mueller — but also laid the groundwork to launch a lucrative second-act in media, including six-figure speaking fees, prestigious writing contracts, a TV series, and a multimillion dollar book deal.

In a profile of his post-FBI life by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times, Comey asserts his primary preoccupation now, as a self-described “unemployed celebrity,” is stopping Trump. This vocation, while lacking the official powers of his former post in the FBI, appears well-suited for raking in piles of cash. Comey may have lost a roughly $170,000 annual salary as FBI director, but now he earns as much in a single speaking engagement. He’s been traveling the country giving six-figure paid speeches on leadership, as well as gratis appearances at universities, according to the NYT. “It’s a lot!” Comey told the Times. “Seriously, it’s crazy.”


Comey recently gave talks at Yale, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the Sacramento Speaker Series, and he’s due to speak at “Politicon” in Nashville later this month. He also has a contract to write opinion columns for The Washington Post, according to the NYT. And then there’s the forthcoming CBS Studios miniseries, in which he’ll be portrayed by actor Jeff Daniels. The series is based on Comey’s bestselling 2018 book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” which reportedly netted him millions as well. Of course, Comey was already a multimillionaire before accepting the job in 2013 as FBI director under President Barack Obama. In financial filings, he reported a net worth of $11 million, not including an anticipated $3 million payout from hedge-fund giant Bridgewater Associates, where Comey spent a couple years as general counsel.

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Whitney Webb continues her series.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s Open Secret (Webb)

Media reports cite Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell as having developed a close relationship at least by February 2000, when Andrew had spent a week at Epstein’s controversial New York penthouse at 9 East 71st Street. One report published in 2000 by London’s Sunday Times claimed that the two were introduced by Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, often referred to as “Fergie” in the press, and further claims that this introduction had taken place several years prior. Epstein is alleged to have first been introduced to Andrew via Maxwell in 1999. Years after this introduction was made, Jeffrey Epstein would provide financial assistance to Ferguson at Prince Andrew’s behest by paying Ferguson’s former personal assistant £15,000, allegedly in order to allow for “a wider restructuring of Sarah’s £5 million debts to take place,” according to The Telegraph.

Oddly, by April of that year, Maxwell and Prince Andrew were spotted by their fellow diners at a posh New York restaurant holding hands, prompting both the Prince and Maxwell to claim that their relationship was merely “platonic.” However, a separate report from 2007 in the Evening Standard refers to Maxwell as one of Prince Andrew’s former girlfriends. Within a year of their close relationship having become public, Andrew and Ghislaine were reported to have gone on eight different vacations together, of which Epstein accompanied them for five. Andrew also brought Maxwell and Epstein to celebrate the Queen’s birthday in 2000 as his personal guests.


Several reports from this period also provide interesting insight into Maxwell’s business activities and private life. One article from 2000, published in London’s Sunday Times, states that “for all her high-profile appearances on Manhattan’s A-List merry-go-round, she [Maxwell] is secretive to the point of paranoia and her business affairs are deeply mysterious.” It goes on to say that Maxwell “has been building a business empire as opaque as father’s” — referencing Robert Maxwell’s business empire, which included multiple front companies for Israeli intelligence — and adds that “her office in Manhattan refuses to confirm even the nature or the name of her business.”

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A slightly different take.

Behind Hong Kong’s Black Terror (Escobar)

The new slogans of Hong Kong’s black bloc – a mob on a rampage connected to the black shirt protestors – made their first appearance on a rainy Sunday afternoon, scrawled on walls in Kowloon. Decoding the slogans is essential to understand the mindless street violence that was unleashed even before the anti-mask law passed by the government of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) went into effect at midnight on Friday, October 4. By the way, the anti-mask law is the sort of measure that was authorized by the 1922 British colonial Emergency Regulations Ordnance, which granted the city government the authority to “make any regulations whatsoever which he [or she] may consider desirable in the public interest” in case of “emergency or public danger”.

Perhaps the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was unaware of this fine lineage when she commented that the law “only intensifies concern over freedom of expression.” And it is probably safe to assume that neither she nor other virulent opponents of the law know that a very similar anti-mask law was enacted in Canada on June 19, 2013. More likely to be informed is Hong Kong garment and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, billionaire publisher of the pro-democracy Apple Daily, the city’s Chinese Communist Party critic-in-chief and highly visible interlocutor of official Washington, DC, notables such as US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and ex-National Security Council head John Bolton.


On September 6, before the onset of the deranged vandalism and violence that have defined Hong Kong “pro-democracy protests” over the past several weeks, Lai spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Stephen Engle from his Kowloon home. He pronounced himself convinced that – if protests turned violent China would have no choice but to send People’s Armed Police units from Shenzen into Hong Kong to put down unrest. “That,” he said on Bloomberg TV, “will be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square massacre and that will bring in the whole world against China….. Hong Kong will be done, and … China will be done, too.”

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Science fights poverty?! Sounds like absolute BS to me. I asked Steve Keen if he knows the winners. He replied:

“No. Experimental economics is the latest fad, though it’s not supposed to encompass real world experiments like the IMF’s program for Argentina.”

Trio Wins Economics Nobel For Science-Based Poverty Fight (R.)

U.S.-based economists Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won the 2019 Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for work fighting poverty that has helped millions of children by favoring practical steps over theory. French-American Duflo becomes only the second woman to win the economics prize in its 50-year history, as well as the youngest at 46. She shared the award equally with Indian-born American Banerjee and Kremer, also of the United States. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work had shown how poverty could be addressed by breaking it down into smaller and more precise questions in areas such as education and healthcare, and then testing solutions in the field.

It said the results of their studies and field experiments had ranged from helping millions of Indian schoolchildren with remedial tutoring to encouraging governments around the world to increase funding for preventative medicine. “It starts from the idea that the poor are often reduced to caricatures and even the people that try to help them do not actually understand what are the deep roots of (their) problems,” Duflo told reporters in Stockholm by telephone. “What we try to do in our approach is to say, ‘Look, let’s try to unpack the problems one-by-one and address them as rigorously and scientifically as possible’,” she added.


The team pioneered “randomized controlled trials”, or RCTs, in economics. Long used in fields such as medicine, an RCT could for example take two groups of people and study what difference a treatment makes on one group while the other group is only given a placebo. Applied to development economics, such field experiments found for example that providing more textbooks and free school meals had only small effects, while targeting help for weak students made a big difference to overall educational levels. “It’s a prize not just for us but for the whole movement,” Banerjee later told a joint news conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they both work. Kremer is a researcher at Harvard University.

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When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set


Lin Yutang