Aug 132020
 


Joel Meyerowitz Florida 1967

 

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)
Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)
Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)
When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)
Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)
AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)
Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)
China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)
Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)
Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)
We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

 

 

I get quite a few of my entries in the Debt Rattles from my Twitter feed; I follow 193 accounts, let, right, and everything in between.

Now I clearly see the attention in there shifting away from COVID to US politics. Not surprisingly, of course. But what happens in that shift sometimes is. Joe Biden tweeted yesterday that Trump three years ago called neonazis in Charlottesville “very fine people”.

Now, we know that Trump did not do that, it’s a blatant lie, and one which has been well documented, because we know what he did say, word for word. How and why then can Biden make that claim?

Easy: he knows -and his handlers do- that his supporters don’t read or view anything in which this is explained to them. They simply believe Trump said that, because CNN and the NYT say so.

That’s how far the US media landscape – and journalism in general- has sunken. Biden’s tweet:

But here’s what Trump actually said:

And a clip of that:

Even CNN’s Jake Tapper said so. Maybe he can tell his colleagues the truth, refresh their memories?!

 

 

C’mon, get a grip on the numbers already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently this has been available for months. Let’s start ASAP.

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)

We’ve received your requests for a brief summary video (to share!) of Dr. Mina’s research and how inexpensive (approx. $1), at-home, COVID-19 tests (results in 15 minutes) could be utilized to dramatically slow the spread of this pandemic (and open up schools etc. in a faster and safer way). Dr. Mina is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Dr. Mina’s research has demonstrated that the sensitivity (accuracy) of these simple saliva or swab paper antigen tests (the technology already exists) is high enough to detect the vast majority of infectious #COVID19 and could be utilized frequently at home.

At-Home, Rapid Result Testing: 5 Min. Summary with Dr. Mina

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Frozen food? Isn’t that a bit far out?

Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)

A puzzling new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand’s largest city grew to 17 cases on Thursday, with officials saying the number will likely increase further. And a lockdown in Auckland designed to extinguish the outbreak could be extended well beyond an initial three days. It was a turnabout from Sunday, when the South Pacific nation of 5 million marked 100 days without any cases of local transmission. For most people, life had long returned to normal as they sat down in packed sports stadiums and restaurants or went to school without the fear of getting infected. The only cases for months had been a handful of returning travelers who have been quarantined at the border. But then earlier this week, health workers discovered four infections in one Auckland household.

The source of the new infections continues to stump officials. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said genome testing has not yet matched the new cluster with any infections that have been caught at the border, although the testing has indicated the strain of the virus may have come from Australia or Britain. Auckland was moved to Alert Level 3 on Wednesday, meaning that non-essential workers are required to stay home and bars, restaurants and most businesses are shut. The rest of the country has moved to Level 2, requiring social distancing. The government is due to make a decision Friday on whether to extend Auckland’s lockdown, which seems increasingly likely given the new cases. The good news for health officials about the latest 13 cases is that they could all be linked through work and family to the initial four cases, meaning there is no evidence yet of a wider community outbreak. Officials say they tested just over 6,000 people on Wednesday.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak was a reminder of the trickiness of the virus and how easily it can spread. “As with our first outbreak, we do have an expectation that things will get worse before they get better,” Ardern said. “Modeling suggests that we will still see more positive cases. At this stage, though, it’s heartening to see them in one cluster.” Bloomfield said he expected that sooner or later the new cases would be linked to somebody who had arrived in the country with an infection or a worker at a quarantine facility, airport or maritime port. “At the moment we haven’t established a direct connection,” Bloomfield said. “But as we find each case and do that thorough interview and investigation, that will help.” Some of those infected work at an Auckland refrigerated food facility, leading to speculation the virus could have survived from abroad on chilled or frozen food.

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In the US, this will always be about money. The government buys billions worth of “maybe vaccines” whose research it has already paid for. Big Pharma sees the pandemic as a major profit opportunity. And both don’t want some Russian vaccine to spoil their schemes.

Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)

The global race among multiple nations to be the first to produce a coronavirus vaccine – especially the US, China, and Russia – has sparked not just competition to see who’ll be first, but an information war in the wake of Moscow’s announced breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine this week. The announcement of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry and expected to be available to the Russian public by October almost immediately drew widespread scorn and mockery in the West based on allegations Russia is skipping large-scale clinical trials. One Russian official told CNBC this week the US is waging “major information warfare” against the possibility of a successful Russia-produced vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund – which is backing the Sputnik V vaccine – said in comments Wednesday, “It really divided the world into those countries that think it’s great news … and some of the U.S. media and some U.S. people who actually wage major information warfare on the Russian vaccine.” “We were not expecting anything else, we are not trying to convince the U.S. Our point to the world is that we have this technology, it can be available in your country in November/December if that works with your regulator … [while] people who are very skeptical will not have this vaccine and we wish them good luck in developing theirs,” he added.


Dmitriev claimed further that Russia does plan on sharing its data from the vaccine with the rest of the world, also at a moment World Health Organization officals said they wil move to review the COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved by Russian regulators on Tuesday. The WHO said it will require “a rigorous safety data review” before being available for use among citizens.

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Brilliant. Solves much of the loneliness problem, makes sure peole get books, keeps them in touch. It’s often in the little things that we find most value. Localize. Such approaches simply don’t work nationwide, unless you have a real small nation.

When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)

When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone. “One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation. “The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.” So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records. Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.


“We called them to say hi, see how they were doing, and then see if there was anything they needed help with, such as access to services, counselling support, tech help, that kind of thing. We would then refer them to a service that would help them,” said Dempster. “What we’ve found mostly is that people are really up for the chat and love getting that call from the librarian. Some calls go for five minutes and some go for half an hour or more.” Yarra Plenty’s “caring calls” are just one of the ways that libraries around the state have been servicing community needs since the onset of Covid-19 shutdowns. From fine amnesties, to boosting the prominence of digital offerings, to simply putting books in the post, libraries have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate the massive social changes imposed by governments during the pandemic, often with heartwarming results.

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Gundlach was right: Biden WAS unelectable in March. But then a miracle happened.

Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)

Joe Biden/Kamala Harris in 2020? Not so fast, according to DoubleLine Capital’s billionaire boss Jeffrey Gundlach, who predicted Donald Trump’s win the 2016 election. ‘Will Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in November? I don’t think so. I’d bet against that. I think the polls are very, very squishy because of the highly toxic political environment in which we live. That’s the so-called “Bond King,” sharing his thoughts on the upcoming election in a webcast this week for DoubleLine’s closed-end funds cited by Bloomberg News.


Harris, he said, won’t likely change that because she’s “a little too charismatic” and her personality “might be a little bit dominant.” Then again, Gundlach didn’t think Biden would win the Democratic nomination, having called him “unelectable” in March. Regardless, there are still “a lot of twists and turns” to come, he added. Biden is still the favorite, according to a RealClear Politics average showing a 7.3-point margin in the polls. His lead is narrower in key battleground states, where he’s up an average of 4.3 points. As for the market, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if stocks revisited their March lows, and, as Bloomberg reported, he forecast gold to keep moving higher.

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They want her voters, not her ideas. And people are surprised at that? Wake up! This thing lasts for 4 days, and she gets one minute of that. What will Kasich get, half an hour? Look at who’s in charge at the DNC. Same old same old.

AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will only have one minute to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, Business Insider first reported Wednesday, prompting complaints the party was out of touch with young voters. The DNC will air a 60 second pre-recorded message filmed by AOC in her home. The convention is being held virtually because of the coronavirus, and speakers include former first lady Michelle Obama, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who will deliver a live speech on Thursday, according to Business Insider. Other progressive leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are also slated to speak.


It’s unclear if any other speakers are subject to the same time limits [..] Some slammed the Democratic Party for being out-of-touch with young voters, especially considering AOC’s national profile. In addition to AOC’s minute, the DNC speaker lineup has been widely panned by left-leaning activists for including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, while not giving enough time to Latino, progressive and LGBT politicians. Former candidate Andrew Yang said he expected to speak and was disappointed he was not chosen.

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You need to buy just one vote, it must be unanimous.

Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)

A Senior Republican Senate source has confirmed to Gateway Pundit that Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to block Senator Ron Johnson from subpoenaing James Comey and John Brennan. Johnson, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair, said during a radio appearance on Wednesday that fellow Republicans were blocking him from subpoenaing the former FBI Director and former CIA Director, among other figures involved in the scandal. “We had a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically,” Johnson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who pressed the Senator to name the Republicans blocking him. Johnson declined to name names.


Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports that Johnson’s committee said no one is blocking any subpoenas for Comey or Brennan, rather there’s just a desire to exhaust all options to get them to testify voluntarily. However, shortly after Johnson made his claims, a senate source reached out to Gateway Pundit and confirmed that Romney is leading the obstruction. “Romney was for impeachment. He has been against Trump every step of the way. Now he is obstructing going after the leakers and liars who went after Trump,” the senior senate source said. The obstruction claims come despite the fact that the committee gave him the unilateral power to subpoena people earlier this year.

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China doesn’t have a huge amount of dollars left.

China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)

On the surface, there is a non-stop tide of daily diplomatic drama and escalating jawboning between the US and China which – quite theatrically – will be at each other’s throat at least until the conclusion of the Nov 3 election. However, behind the scenes, one can discern just who has the upper hand. According to Bloomberg, China’s largest state-run banks operating in Hong Kong have taken “tentative steps” to comply with US sanctions imposed on officials in the city, seeking to safeguard their access to crucial dollar funding and overseas networks, and putting their financial future above their patriotic duty to defend questionable Hong Kongers who have fallen in the crossfire.

As a reminder, last week Trump sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council, and Chris Tang, commissioner of the city’s police for their role in implementing a security law in Hong Kong. The officials will have property and assets in the U.S. frozen; they also will be increasingly frozen by their own financial institutions. China’s bank giants, most of which have operations in the U.S. including Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and China Merchants Bank have turned cautious on opening new accounts for the 11 recently sanctioned HK officials, including Lam, and at least one bank has suspended such activity. To avoid Trump’s ire, at some banks transactions via the U.S. are banned, while compliance must now review and sign off on others that would previously have been immediately processed, Bloomberg sources said.


At the same time, foreign banks operating in Hong Kong such as Citigroup have already taken aggressive steps to suspend accounts or are increasing scrutiny of Hong Kong clients. The quick capitulation by China’s biggest lenders once again underscores how Trump has weaponized the greenback and the ability of the U.S. to use the dollar’s dominance in international transactions as a critical pressure point in the standoff with China. And since China’s state-owned lenders need to preserve their access to global financial markets – with the Yuan years if not decades from even thinking about thinking about becoming a global reserve currency – they have quietly bent the knee to Trump to preserve dollar access at a time when Beijing has leaned on them to prop up the economy from the fallout of the coronavirus.

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WHen your business model falls apart as soon as you must pay decent wages.

Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)

Uber may shut down its operations in California, one of its largest markets in the US, if it is forced to classify drivers as employees, the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on MSNBC Wednesday. Earlier this week, Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California superior court judge to classify their drivers as employees. At issue is the classification of ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors, which Uber and Lyft say most drivers prefer because of the flexibility and ability to set their own hours. But labor unions and elected officials contend this deprives them of traditional benefits like health insurance and workers’ compensation. Both companies have said they would appeal the ruling, which was stayed for 10 days.

But if their appeal fails, Uber may have to close up shop in California, Khosrowshahi said. “If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” he told MSNBC. In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, sued Uber and Lyft, arguing that their drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they should be employees under the state’s AB5 law that went into effect on January 1st. Becerra later filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that could compel the ride-hailing companies to classify drivers as employees immediately. AB5, which was signed into law last September, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” to determine if someone is a contractor or an employee.


In his ruling in favor of Becerra’s preliminary injunction, Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said Uber and Lyft’s arguments — that drivers’ work is outside the companies’ usual course of business — “flies in the face of economic reality and common sense.”

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There are valid reasons to investigate 5G, and when the Pentagon surrenders bandwidth at record speed, there are even more such reasons. It’s being treated the same way as glyphosate currently, with people saying there’s no evidence of harm. No, that comes later, which is why you need research now. Precautionary principle.

And no, comments like this don’t help: “Those are precisely the frequencies they used to pull in the ‘virus’ from outer space ! And now they’re selling them off to cover it all up! Or maybe they’ve embedded even worse viruses IN THOSE WAVELENGTHS & will now use apps to infect EVERYONE IN THE WORLD “

Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)

After a remarkably fast interagency review, the White House today announced a massive transfer of electromagnetic spectrum from military use to commercial 5G. It will be the “fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told reporters proudly this afternoon. But, Kratsios and Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy assured reporters ahead of the announcement, the rush won’t compromise military readiness or operations. The 100 megahertz of spectrum runs from 3450 MHz to 3550, so-called mid-band frequencies prized by 5G developers because they allow longer-ranged transmissions than the millimeter-wave spectrum that makes up most of what’s been available in the US so far.

Kratsios and other officials told reporters shortly before this afternoon’s announcement that the move would dramatically expand 5G access for all Americans – fulling a congressional mandate in the 2018 MOBILE NOW Act – and strengthen potential competitors to Chinese giant Huawei in the global market. Currently, Deasy said, “the 3450-3550 mHZ band supports critical DoD radar operations, including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipboard, and airborne platforms, [including] air defense, missile and gun fire control, counter mortar, bomb scoring [during training exercises], battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and range safety.” That’s a wide range of military functions, many with life-or-death significance for either training safety or outright combat. Deasy and other officials didn’t detail how the Defense Department would work this massive transfer.


Their remarks, however, suggested a mix of migrating military radars to other frequencies – a complex and costly process typically funded from a share of the FCC auction – and sharing frequencies with commercial users in specific times and places. The White House formally made the request in April. Roughly 200 technical experts from all four armed services, the Office of Secretary of Defense, and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy studied the problem for 15 weeks. The FCC, which has already endorsed the plan, will start auctioning the spectrum off in December 2021, Kratsios said, with commercial use beginning “as soon as mid-2022.” That’s as fast as the transfer can possibly go through the FCC’s public rule-making process, officials said. Historically transferring spectrum takes six years or more. ““The timeline that we’re working with is absolutely unprecedented,” one senior administration official told reporters, “and I cannot underscore that enough.”

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I like the line of thinking. Ideas that once were mainstream start to look crazy.

We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

Bloodletting was a common medical treatment for nearly 3,000 years. It developed around an idea, originating with Hippocrates and later wildly popular in Europe of the Middle Ages: that an imbalance of the four humours of the body – blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile – caused illness. Around 500 years after Hippocrates, Galen declared blood to be the most important humour. These and other ideas driven by surgical experimentation and, often, superstition, led to bleeding the body, ridding it of bad blood, if you like, to save the patient. Leeches were used for bloodletting, including the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. We will never know how many people lost their lives across 3,000 years to this treatment, how many humans turned corpses, bled to death by the medico-ideological delusions of their doctors.

We do know that King Charles II of England had some 24 ounces of blood taken from him before he died. George Washington’s three doctors drained him of copious amounts of blood (on his own request) to cure him of a throat infection – he died soon after. Covid-19 has given us a brilliant, thorough autopsy of neoliberalism, indeed of capitalism itself. The corpse is on the table, in glaring light, every vein, artery, organ and bone staring us in the face. You can see all the leeches – privatisation, corporate globalism, extreme concentration of wealth, levels of inequality unseen in living memory. The bloodletting approach to social and economic ills that has seen societies drain working people of the basics of decent and dignified human existence.

The 3,000-year-old medical practice reached its peak in Europe in the 19th century. Its discrediting came only with the late 19th and 20th centuries – but the doctrine and practice are still dominant in the disciplines of economics, philosophy, business and society. Some of the most powerful social and economic doctors around the corpse before us, analyse it much the way doctors in say, medieval Europe, did. As the late Alexander Cockburn, founder editor of CounterPunch, once said, when the Middle Ages medicos lost their patient, they probably shook their heads sadly and said: “We didn’t bleed him enough.” Precisely as the World Bank and the IMF have whined for decades that the horrific damage of their shock and awe treatment, of sometimes near-genocidal structural adjustment – was not because their ‘reforms’ went too far, but because their reforms, alas, did not go far enough, indeed were not allowed to, by the rowdy and great unwashed.


Inequality, the ideologically insane argued, was not such a dreadful thing. It promoted competitiveness and individual initiative. And we needed more of those. Inequality is now central to any debate we have on the future of humanity. The rulers know this. For over 20 years now, they’ve been savaging the suggestion that inequality has anything to do with humanity’s problems. Early this millennium, the Brookings Institute warned against this debilitating discussion on inequality. Less than 90 days before Covid-19 swept the world, The Economist magazine, neoliberalism’s Oracle of Delphi, read the chicken entrails before it and ran a bitter cover story: “Inequality Illusions: Why wealth and income gaps are not what they appear.” Could turn out the most famous last words since Tarzan’s – “who greased the grapevine?”

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Biden train

 

 

 

 

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Aug 122020
 
 August 12, 2020  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Joel Meyerowitz Girl On A Scooter 1965

 

20 Countries Order One Billion Doses Of Russian COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
America’s Window Of Opportunity To Beat Back COVID19 Is Closing (STAT)
The Grifters, Chapter 2 – N95 Masks (Ben Hunt)
Wall Street Executives Are Glad Joe Biden Picked Kamala Harris (CNBC)
Cuomo Is Protecting His Wall Street Donors From Democratic Tax Bills (TMI)
UK Enters Recession As GDP Plunges By Record 20.4% In Q2 (CNBC)
What If Trump Won’t Leave? (IC)
John Solomon Calls For Creation Of New White House ‘Press Pool’ (JTN)
New Memos Show Relentless Pressure By Burisma On State Dept In 2016 (JTN)
Food Bank Strains Emerge As Economy Falls Off Fiscal Cliff (ZH)

 

 

The big thing today of course is Kamala Harris as VP candidate. I must say I don’t think I get it. There are tons of people expressing support, including the entire party, but far as I can see that doesn’t matter at all. Judge for yourselves, there are a few videos below.

What does matter, I think, is that Harris left the primaries last December because nobody voted for her, or like 2% did, after a highly publicized and very well-funded campaign.. People don’t like her! Simple. And those were the people in her own party!

This is not about issues, it’s intuition. Though Tulsi’s takedown of Harris in the debates can’t have helped.

You’re not going to turn that around dramatically by expressing support. It’s the purest gauge you can get, and then you just ignore that? Really, are we sure they want to win? This graph is from November 2019, before she dropped out. Even in her own California, she barely got 5%.

 

 

 

This is just funny:

 

 

Hmmm. Both global new cases and new deaths up quite a lot.

 

 

US cases look sort of okay, but deaths have almost tripled from the day before,. most since May 27.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the FT graph I post sometimes doesn’t look great either:

 

 

 

 

Tulsi Kamala

Kamala DNA tests

 

 

Lots of people say it wasn’t tested properly and cannot be trusted. And it’s fine, don’t take it, see if we care. But don’t tell me the Russians are going to kill their own people.

20 Countries Order One Billion Doses Of Russian COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

A total of 20 nations from Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia have already requested doses of Russia’s breakthrough coronavirus vaccine, which was confirmed to be registered on Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. At a conference dedicated to the announcement of the vaccine’s registration, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) explained that it had already received orders for a billion doses. “Together with our foreign partners, we are ready to produce more than 500 million doses of the vaccine per year,” Kirill Dmitriev explained. Everything produced in Russia will be used domestically, and doses for use in other countries will be made abroad.


According to Dmitriev, the RDIF is also working on a humanitarian aid program for developing countries, with the aim of making the Covid-19 vaccine available in states that can’t afford to make or buy their own. Explaining that vaccination is an acute problem in the world’s poorest countries, Dmitriev said that the fund believes “people around the world should have equal access to a vaccine, regardless of their financial situation.” On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the country had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. Named “Sputnik V,” the vaccine is due to enter mass production soon, and will be available to the general public from January 2021. Despite being registered, the vaccine will still go through more clinical trials in Russia and the Middle East.

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COVID waxes poetic: “..this winter could be Dickensianly bleak..”

America’s Window Of Opportunity To Beat Back COVID19 Is Closing (STAT)

The good news: The United States has a window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 before things get much, much worse. The bad news: That window is rapidly closing. And the country seems unwilling or unable to seize the moment. Winter is coming. Winter means cold and flu season, which is all but sure to complicate the task of figuring out who is sick with Covid-19 and who is suffering from a less threatening respiratory tract infection. It also means that cherished outdoor freedoms that link us to pre-Covid life — pop-up restaurant patios, picnics in parks, trips to the beach — will soon be out of reach, at least in northern parts of the country.

Unless Americans use the dwindling weeks between now and the onset of “indoor weather” to tamp down transmission in the country, this winter could be Dickensianly bleak, public health experts warn. “I think November, December, January, February are going to be tough months in this country without a vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. It is possible, of course, that some vaccines could be approved by then, thanks to historically rapid scientific work. But there is little prospect that vast numbers of Americans will be vaccinated in time to forestall the grim winter Osterholm and others foresee.

Human coronaviruses, the distant cold-causing cousins of the virus that causes Covid-19, circulate year-round. Now is typically the low season for transmission. But in this summer of America’s failed Covid-19 response, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is widespread across the country, and pandemic-weary Americans seem more interested in resuming pre-Covid lifestyles than in suppressing the virus to the point where schools can be reopened, and stay open, and restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms can function with some restrictions.

“We should be aiming for no transmission before we open the schools and we put kids in harm’s way — kids and teachers and their caregivers. And so, if that means no gym, no movie theaters, so be it,” said Caroline Buckee, associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We seem to be choosing leisure activities now over children’s safety in a month’s time. And I cannot understand that tradeoff.”

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Ben Hunt has raised $1 million over the past half year for masks for health care workers. Because the system doesn’t function in the US after decades of neglect.

The Grifters, Chapter 2 – N95 Masks (Ben Hunt)

Last week, Mike Pence shook his finger at us and said that there were no outstanding requests on federal PPE stockpiles from any governor, and thus any urgent requests for N95 masks from doctors or nurses were isolated incidents to be quickly resolved by state authorities. SMACK goes the bag of oranges. In truth, both the supply and the distribution of N95 masks in the United States remains a national disgrace, a squandered opportunity to fight Covid with something other than death cultism or lockdown defeatism. In truth, what could have been our finest hour is turning into our worst. For the past six months, a big part of my life has revolved around getting PPE directly to doctors, nurses, EMTs, first responders, social workers and other frontline heroes in this war against Covid-19.

Thanks to the amazing generosity of donors big and small, we raised close to $1 million. Thanks to the inspired work of a dozen friends-for-life-most-of-whom-I-didn’t-even-know-before-this, we first set up an “underground railroad” of N95 and high-quality KN95 masks from China, and later a steady network of PPE suppliers. Thanks to the daily, unwavering commitment of a small team (literally my wife and daughter, literally working out of our garage), we’ve been able to distribute more than 120,000 medical respirators in batches of 100-200 to more than 1,100 hospitals, clinics, police departments, fire departments, prisons and shelters across 47 states. So far. We’ll get out another 4,000+ this week. And next week. And every week until we win this war.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose. Is the overall PPE situation for healthcare workers and first responders better today than it was in April? Absolutely. In April we were sending masks to desperate ER docs and nurses at major hospitals in the biggest cities in America. Today there is neither an urgent need nor even a shortage of PPE in these big city ERs and ICUs. Why not? Because, distribution of PPE from our massive federal and state stockpiles is designed for big cities and big hospital systems. Because that’s how the American system of trickle-down everything … in this case PPE … works.

Eventually, Andrew Cuomo sucks it up and asks Mike Pence for help, and eventually Mike Pence makes a call to FEMA, and eventually all the requisition forms get filled out and signed by all the right people at the governor’s office, and eventually a truckload of 1 million N95 masks makes the trip from the FEMA warehouse to the New York-Presbyterian warehouse, and eventually a NY-P van starts shuttling a pallet of masks every week to every NY-P hospital loading bay, and eventually the boxes of N95s get allocated to the individual medical departments. Eventually.

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‘Nuff said?!

Both Wall Street execs AND Black Lives Matter are happy about the same thing? One of them might want to do some thinking. She locked up a lot of young black people in California, for one thing.

Wall Street Executives Are Glad Joe Biden Picked Kamala Harris (CNBC)

Wall Street leaders on Tuesday cheered Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate in the presidential election. Finance executives, confident the ticket has what it takes to topple President Donald Trump, raved about her experience in government, as well as her fundraising prowess. “I think it’s great,” said Marc Lasry, the CEO of investment firm Avenue Capital Group. “She’s going to help Joe immensely. He picked the perfect partner.” Lasry is also a part owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Blair Effron, the co-founder of Centerview Partners, texted “GREAT CHOICE” to CNBC. Citigroup’s Ray McGuire sent a similar message.

When she ran for president last year, Harris saw contributions from executives in a wide range of industries, including film, TV, real estate and finance, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Her campaign finished raising close to $40 million. Harris, who dropped out of the race in December, opened up a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee earlier this year, allowing her to raise six figure checks that mainly went to the party as a whole. Harris, a former California attorney general, also overcame headwinds from a group of Biden allies who privately tried to block her from becoming the nominee for vice president.


Financial advisory firm Signum Global is already telling its clients that the choice of Harris reinforces the notion that the Democratic ticket is more moderate than progressive. Jon Henes, a partner at corporate restructuring firm Kirkland & Ellis who was Harris’ national finance chairman when she ran for president, told CNBC that the choice shows Biden’s strong judgement. He added that her supporters are ready to give Democrats the backing they need to defeat Trump. “Vice President Biden’s first decision is the perfect one and demonstrates his excellent judgement,” Henes said. “Kamala’s supporters will follow her lead and work non-stop to help Biden and Harris win this historic and critical election.”

Kamala Mnuchin

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So the party takes donations from donors that it then wants to raise new taxes on, and Cuomo fights his own party about it? A little confusing for a bear of little brain.

Cuomo Is Protecting His Wall Street Donors From Democratic Tax Bills (TMI)

In blocking his party’s push for new taxes on stock trades, capital gains and carried interest, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is protecting the financial industry that has delivered millions to his campaign and political operation, according to state records reviewed by TMI. That includes the single largest donor to the state Democratic party during Cuomo’s 2018 re-election bid, who just delivered large contributions to Cuomo as the governor has stymied the tax proposals. Last month, billionaire James Simons and his wife gave Cuomo $90,000. Simons is the founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which could be subject to the new levies being pushed by New York Democratic legislators. In total, Cuomo has received over $280,000 from Simons and his family.

The Cuomo-controlled New York Democratic Party has received an additional $3.4 million from Simons. Cuomo’s political machine has received big donations from other hedge fund moguls including Dan Loeb ($197,000) and Stanley Druckenmiller ($60,800), who could also be impacted by the Democratic tax initiatives aimed at the financial industry. Democratic legislators have been pushing the tax measures to raise new revenues that they say could be used to prevent budget cuts to education, health care and other state programs. Disclosure records reviewed by TMI show that the financial industry has been actively lobbying on the tax proposals in Albany — and Cuomo has parroted their opposition to higher taxes on the rich.

“I literally talk to people all day long who are in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house,” the governor said on August 3, suggesting that billionaires and multimillionaires will leave New York if higher taxes on the wealthy go through. Michael Kink, the executive director of the labor-backed Strong Economy for All Coalition in New York, told TMI that Cuomo’s work to block progressive taxation is indicative of his warped priorities overall.

“A governor that’s connected to reality would be examining every single possible way of raising revenue in the time of crisis,” Kink said. “When you’re so close to someone like James Simons, that leads to you blocking the door to some of the biggest and most important sources of revenue. There’s a door called the billionaire’s tax – $5.5 billion a year. Cuomo strolls away from that door. Then there’s the stock transfer tax door which is $13 billion a year. The vast majority of people who would pay are the speculators who are diving in and out. James Simon, Dan Loeb, a lot of Cuomo’s major donors are the ones that would pay that tax.”

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What was that quote again before? Oh yes: “..this winter could be Dickensianly bleak..”

UK Enters Recession As GDP Plunges By Record 20.4% In Q2 (CNBC)

The U.K. economy contracted by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the previous three months, as coronavirus-induced lockdowns hammered activity, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday. GDP expanded by 8.7% in June as government lockdown measures eased, having shown a meek 1.8% recovery in May following April’s 20.4% contraction. The second-quarter plunge is the worst on record and follows a 2.2% contraction in the first quarter. Analysts had expected a fall of 20.5%, according to a Reuters poll. Two consecutive periods of contraction mean the British economy is now in a technical recession.


Services, construction and production all saw record quarterly falls, particularly in the sectors most exposed to government restrictions, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). “The economy began to bounce back in June with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and housebuilding continuing to recover,” ONS Deputy National Statistical for Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said. “Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

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Apart from RussiaRussia, the Mike Wallace interview also comes up again. Where he asks a question of Trump that he would never have (dared) ask of Obama or even George W. Why do people feel it was a proper questions to ask? I don’t feel it is. Has Trump ever before indicated he would not leave? Or is that just something people invented? Shouldn’t Wallace show respect because at least Trump showed up, something Biden still refuses to do? And if he does get Biden, will he ask that same question? Wallace has gone down in my book by a lot. Cheap clickbait stuff doesn’t become him.

WALLACE: But can you give a, can you give a direct answer you will accept the election?


TRUMP: I have to see. Look, you – I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.

What If Trump Won’t Leave? (IC)

Events in Charlottesville, Lafayette Square, and Portland have shown the country that President Donald Trump is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep power, including embracing militant white supremacists and using federal troops to tear gas and arrest peaceful protesters. His noxious proposal to postpone the elections is not the real threat to democracy. He has openly declared that he may not abide by the election results in a nationally televised interview on Fox News. Trump has a lot of tools at his disposal to steal the election if he loses, many of which he’s already putting into motion. Can he be stopped? We believe that he can be, but only if most Americans are willing to put their trust in people power — rather than courts, norms, and elites — to save democracy.

The evidence of the risk we face is impossible to ignore. Trump is questioning the legitimacy of an election that will rely on mail-in ballots, even though he himself has often voted absentee. He has threatened to withhold funding from states that are trying to make it easier for people to vote, and he is undermining the U.S. Postal Service, both of which are essential, especially in a pandemic. His Republican allies around the country have been passing voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, and cutting the number of polling places in urban areas, forcing people to stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. This is a war on voters who lean Democratic, specifically Black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, naturalized immigrants, poor people, and young people. We’ve already seen in Georgia and Wisconsin how these tactics play out on Election Day.

Trump’s administration has downplayed foreign interference in the elections that benefit him. He has given succor to white nationalist groups, and the Republican Party has deputized 50,000 “poll watchers” to intimidate minority voters on Election Day. This will be the first election since 1980 during which the Republican National Committee will not be bound by a federal consent decree that prohibited “ballot security” efforts whose real purpose was to intimidate and disenfranchise minority voters. Let’s be clear: Trump and the Republicans are already trying to steal the election.

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Like everything MSM, it’s become all about opinion -because clickbait-, not news.

John Solomon Calls For Creation Of New White House ‘Press Pool’ (JTN)

Just the News Founder and Editor-in-Chief John Solomon is calling for the creation of a new White House press pool, one that would practice authentic journalism by asking “the people’s questions” rather than participating in what Solomon claims is an atmosphere of “political effect.” Solomon was speaking to Matt Margolis on the podcast John Solomon Reports. Margolis, a conservative columnist and author, argues in his latest book “Airborne” that the American media has “weaponized the coronavirus against Donald Trump.” Margolis during the podcast argued that journalists at the White House press conference are in general “trying to create a narrative” instead of “trying to get the information.”

Solomon, in response, stated that White House officials need to move toward creating “a second White House press pool” in order to “create competition” and promote authentic journalism at the executive branch. The White House Correspondents Association “has had a monopoly on [the White House briefing room] for so long,” Solomon said, stating that the WHCA has engaged in effective censorship by the way it conducts press briefings. “They don’t ask the people’s questions anymore,” Solomon said, arguing that journalists are more likely now to ask “grandstanding” questions that fail to elicit useful information.

[..] Solomon, the former Washington assistant bureau chief for the Associated Press, said: “I almost never expressed an opinion. But since it’s a professional opinion about the state of the news media, it is time for this White House to create a pool.” “If done right,” Solomon added, “you can bring some real news every day, get the American people what they need to know. Instead, we get a lot of late night comedy skits out of it. It’s terrible.”

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Where’s the Special Counsel for this?

New Memos Show Relentless Pressure By Burisma On State Dept In 2016 (JTN)

The Ukrainian natural gas firm that appointed Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to a lucrative board seat relentlessly pressured the State Department throughout the 2016 election in an effort to get corruption allegations against it dropped and its badly damaged reputation rehabilitated, newly released government memos show. “They keep trying through every channel they can,” a State Department official lamented in summer 2016, describing a nonstop lobbying campaign by Burisma Holdings and its American representatives. The memos, released to Just the News under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit assisted by the Southeastern Foundation, add new significance to a long-running Senate investigation into the Bidens’ activities and perceived conflicts of interest in Ukraine.

For instance, they show far more contact between Burisma and the U.S. embassy in Kiev than was acknowledged by witnesses during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings earlier this year. One issue in that trial was the more than $3 million Hunter Biden’s firm collected from Burisma while his father supervised Ukraine policy for President Obama. The memos obtained by Just the News also were withheld from Senate investigators, who learned of their existence from the FOIA lawsuit. “We have been so frustrated in our attempt to get the documentation that we need before we can sit down and interview people, and as I understand it, the documents you just obtained in your FOIA request we haven’t received unbelievably,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson said in an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.

“I cannot tell you how frustrated and ticked off, I’ll use that word, ticked off about where we are here. So yeah, I subpoenaed the FBI. And, you know, expect additional subpoenas to be forthcoming,” Johnson (R-Wisc.) added. Asked whether a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might be forthcoming, Johnson answered, “Well, certainly a subpoena would bring it to his attention.” The memos show Burisma’s lobbying efforts were led by a Democratic firm called Blue Star Strategies and aided by the nonprofit Atlantic Council foreign policy think tank, stretching from the State Department’s executive suite in Washington at the start of the election to the U.S. embassy in Kiev in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Burisma representatives repeatedly pressed for meetings, at times invoking Hunter Biden’s name, starting with a Blue Star conversation with then-Undersecretary of State Catherine Novelli in January 2016 before turning their attention to U.S. diplomats on the ground in Kiev, the memos show. By summer 2016 — their mission to clear Burisma’s name still incomplete — Blue Star officials pigeonholed the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during her Senate confirmation hearing and then attended a private reception where she was honored, according to the memos. State officials at times chafed at the Burisma campaign, concerned Hunter Biden’s role at the gas firm was undercutting his father’s anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, according to the memos and interviews.

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A reminder of the future. I’m discussing with the people of the kitchen here in Athens about what we can and should expect going forward. Already demand is rising, but how much more will come?

Food Bank Strains Emerge As Economy Falls Off Fiscal Cliff (ZH)

The latest economic data suggest the US recovery stalled. One look at the Citi US econ surprise index, as of this week, shows the recovery ran out of steam last month. A fiscal cliff is already underway, set to enter the second week on Friday (Aug. 14) as tens of millions of Americans are unemployed and have yet to receive their stimulus checks. The recovery, so far, is a massive economic sugar rush, entirely a function of the Trump administration on a reckless spending spree. One way the administration can artificially supercharge consumption is through issuing direct transfer payments to the working poor. The extra money has been used by households to pay down credit card bills, put food on the table, and pay housing expenses, while others used the free money to buy automobiles and FANG stocks.

[..] Massive federal spending has transformed America into a welfare state under the GOP watch. Tea Party politicians aren’t pleased with the Republican establishment’s wild spending spree. With a fiscal cliff coming up on the second week, tens of millions of folks are unable to consume because they are insolvent and jobless, and their amount of consumption is dependent on the government. We’ve noted before, a quarter of all household income is derived from the government. And with no stimulus checks in the mail, that means Americans are returning to food banks: Claudia Raymer, who manages a network of food-security groups in Ohio County, West Virginia, told Bloomberg when stimulus checks stopped arriving in late July, there was an immediate impact on households, resulting in rising food bank activity among the working poor.

The fiscal cliff will be more damaging in lower-income communities (than major metros), such as small towns in West Virginia, where folks were being paid handsomely by the federal government to sit at home. The problem is, once the payments end, consumption plunges, and the local communities return to a recessionary environment. With federal aid already running out for the stimulus program, the fiscal cliff has already been realized in West Virginia: “We’ve definitely already seen food-security needs increase, just in a week, since the extra unemployment has ended,” Raymer said.

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FBI Director Wray Subpoenad For All Records Related to Crossfire Hurricane (GP)
Sen. Johnson Subpoenas FBI Director Wray, Puts Bidens On Notice (ZH)
House Will Be Out Of Session For Additional Week In September (Hill)
Schumer Says Democrats Ready For Coronavirus Aid Talks, If Republicans Move (R.)
MSNBC Public Editor Pekary: A Strained Symbiosis With Obama (CJR)
US Demands Hong Kong Exports To US Be Relabelled ‘Made in China’ (SCMP)
No, Americans Aren’t Suddenly Flying Again, Despite What the Media Says (WS)
Let The Dogs Out (Jim Kunstler)
Seattle City Council Approves Millions In Police Budget Cuts (JTN)
Lebanon PM, President Were Warned About 2,750 Tonnes Of Ammonium Nitrate (R.)
US Special Forces Active in 22 African Countries (MPN)
Libya Begins Negotiations With Greece To Demarcate Maritime Borders (LibyaR.)
Greece Armed Forces Placed On High Alert (K.)

 

 

You keep going with these numbers like this, and you might just turn me into an optimist!

The discovery of “SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive antibodies in uninfected individuals, particularly prevalent in children and adolescents”, could well do the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mostly for the doctors amongst us (let’s hear you!), but a bit of good news for everyone:

“SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive antibodies were readily detectable [..] in SARS-CoV-2-uninfected individuals and were particularly prevalent in children and adolescents.”

Pre-Existing And De Novo Humoral Immunity To SARS-CoV-2 In Humans (Biorxiv)

Several related human coronaviruses (HCoVs) are endemic in the human population, causing mild respiratory infections1. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiologic agent of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is a recent zoonotic infection that has quickly reached pandemic proportions2,3. Zoonotic introduction of novel coronaviruses is thought to occur in the absence of pre-existing immunity in the target human population. Using diverse assays for detection of antibodies reactive with the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein, we demonstrate the presence of pre-existing humoral immunity in uninfected and unexposed humans to the new coronavirus.

SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive antibodies were readily detectable by a sensitive flow cytometry-based method in SARS-CoV-2-uninfected individuals and were particularly prevalent in children and adolescents. These were predominantly of the IgG class and targeted the S2 subunit. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infection induced higher titres of SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive IgG antibodies, targeting both the S1 and S2 subunits, as well as concomitant IgM and IgA antibodies, lasting throughout the observation period of 6 weeks since symptoms onset.

SARS-CoV-2-uninfected donor sera also variably reacted with SARS-CoV-2 S and nucleoprotein (N), but not with the S1 subunit or the receptor binding domain (RBD) of S on standard enzyme immunoassays. Notably, SARS-CoV-2-uninfected donor sera exhibited specific neutralising activity against SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 S pseudotypes, according to levels of SARS-CoV-2 S-binding IgG and with efficiencies comparable to those of COVID-19 patient sera. Distinguishing pre-existing and de novo antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 will be critical for our understanding of susceptibility to and the natural course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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“..Crossfire Hurricane was a scam, based on absurd gossip and innuendo. This document is Exhibit A to Obamagate, the worst corruption scandal in American history.”

FBI Director Wray Subpoenad For All Records Related to Crossfire Hurricane (GP)

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) FINALLY subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray for all records related to the bureau’s CI investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.” The subpoena, which was issued on August 6, demands Wray appear before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by August 20 with all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In July of 2016, Peter Strzok opened a counterintel investigation into Trump’s camp dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane” on suspicions (based on no evidence) that the Russians had infiltrated Trump’s circle. The “electronic communication” that launched Crossfire Hurricane was written by Peter Strzok and obtained by Judicial Watch in May of this year as the result of a FOIA lawsuit.

The EC reveals Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane based on third-hand information that the Russian government “had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President.” Peter Strzok also alleged Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos claimed to an unnamed individual that “they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.” Republican lawmakers have asked why documents related to Crossfire Hurricane have been kept secret for so many years.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said its because the Obama Admin had no basis for opening the investigation. “No wonder the DOJ and FBI resisted the public release of this infamous ‘electronic communication’ that ‘opened’ Crossfire Hurricane – it shows there was no serious basis for the Obama administration to launch an unprecedented spy operation on the Trump campaign,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton previously stated. “We now have more proof that Crossfire Hurricane was a scam, based on absurd gossip and innuendo. This document is Exhibit A to Obamagate, the worst corruption scandal in American history.”

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Maybe that basement is soundproof, and he can’t hear you.

Sen. Johnson Subpoenas FBI Director Wray, Puts Bidens On Notice (ZH)

FBI Director Christopher Wray has been subpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to produce “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” which includes “all records provided or made available to the Inspector General” regarding the FISA probe, as well as documents regarding the 2016-2017 presidential transition, according to Politico. The subpoena was issued by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. It gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to produce the documents. Johnson also released a lengthy letter on Monday in which he defended his Committee’s investigation and accused Democrats of initiating “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in order to distract from evidence his committee has gathered on Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

“We didn’t target Joe and Hunter Biden for investigation; their previous actions had put them in the middle of it,” reads the Monday letter, which outlines the timeline and connections between Joe Biden’s policy actions in Ukraine and his son Hunter’s relationship with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, according to Just The News. “Many in the media, in an ongoing attempt to provide cover for former Vice President Biden, continue to repeat the mantra that there is ‘no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity’ related to Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board,” wrote Johnson. “I could not disagree more.”

Johnson noted evidence gathered by his committee showed Joe Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, in April 2014 and within a month the vice president then visited Ukraine and both his son Hunter and the business partner were put on the Burisma board as the firm faced multiple corruption investigations. “Isn’t it obvious what message Hunter’s position on Burisma’s board sent to Ukrainian officials?” Johnson asked. “The answer: If you want U.S. support, don’t touch Burisma. It also raised a host of questions, including: 1) How could former Vice President Biden look any Ukrainian official (or any other world leader) in the face and demand action to fight corruption? 2) Did this glaring conflict of interest affect the work and efforts of other U.S. officials who worked on anti-corruption measures?” -Just The News

Johnson also denied that he had been on contact with, or received documents from, Russian-tied Ukrainians. “The only problem with their overblown handwringing is that they all knew full well that we have been briefed repeatedly, and we had already told them that we had NOT received the alleged Russian disinformation,” wrote Johnson. “The very transparent goal of their own disinformation campaign and feigned concern is to attack our character in order to marginalize the eventual findings of our investigation.”

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What? They’re going campaigning in COVID time? And what’s even better, they are, but Biden is not?

There are 19 weeks left in the year. House members will only be in Washington for 6 of them.

House Will Be Out Of Session For Additional Week In September (Hill)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Monday that the chamber won’t be called back into session until the week of Sept. 14, giving members an additional week in their districts next month. Lawmakers have been advised that they could be called back before then if there’s a deal on coronavirus-relief legislation. He said they would given 24 hours notice in the event of a vote. The House was previously scheduled to be back in session Sept. 8. Monday’s announcement gives incumbents more time to campaign in their districts ahead of November’s election. If lawmakers don’t return until mid-September, they’ll face a tight deadline to pass government funding legislation by Sept. 30 to avert a shutdown. Under the new schedule, House lawmakers will only be in Washington for six weeks through the end of the calendar year.

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Everyone’s ready as long as the other side moves first so they themselves don’t lose face. It’s a game, and not a very uplifting one.

Schumer Says Democrats Ready For Coronavirus Aid Talks, If Republicans Move (R.)

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that Democrats are ready to return to the negotiating table over coronavirus relief, if Republicans would agree to a larger bill than they have been willing to accept up to now. “Democrats remain ready to return to the table. We need our Republicans to join us there and meet us half way and work together to deliver immediate relief to the American people,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. Last week, Schumer used similar language to urge White House negotiators to agree to a legislative package at least $1 trillion larger than the $1 trillion bill that Senate Republicans have already proposed. The White House rejected the offer, ending nearly two weeks of almost daily negotiations.

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“A less corrupt, less wealth-enslaved, less warmongering Democratic Party—a party that had paid more than lip service to the needs of working people over the previous eight years—would have walked away with the 2016 election.”

MSNBC Public Editor Pekary: A Strained Symbiosis With Obama (CJR)

Barack Obama and MSNBC have a lot in common. They are rich, sleek, and corporate-friendly. They staff their organizations with urbane meritocrats. Both institutions rely on a kind of soft-focus patriotism that stops shy of nationalism—an American-exceptionalist-lite rhetoric that takes refuge in hope and in appeals to “who we are,” among other superficial aspirational slogans. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Obama meets with little criticism on MSNBC. The alignment isn’t merely political; it’s aesthetic, generational, and class-based. Reverence for Obama is by now the network’s stock-in-trade. It has never critically assessed his presidency.

[..] The Obama brand is appealing, especially in comparison with the current president. Obama is everything that Trump is not: handsome, well read, reasonable-seeming, beautifully turned out; even today, the sight of Obama on television is enough to persuade people that things are still halfway okay. Sadly, however, things are really not all that okay. I’d like to believe the highly artificialized vision of the world that television conjures up in order to seduce, titillate, and comfort the maximum number of people. But how well does the glossy, TV-friendly facade serve the needs of the network’s viewers? Not very, according to former MSNBC producer Ariana Pekary, who quit her job some days ago in an apparent crisis of conscience.

Pekary wrote a much-circulated blog post about her decision to quit the network in early August, calling the cable news obsession with ratings “a cancer” that stokes political division by amplifying the most outrageous voices. The ratings obsession risks lives, she said, by focusing on Trump’s failures in the pandemic, in preference to vital scientific and epidemiological news; it risks democracy itself, by allowing Trump’s excesses to dominate coverage, in preference to intelligent and serious discussion of the threats our society and our world are facing. All of this is true, and worth thinking about, but MSNBC’s coverage demonstrates something subtler and farther-reaching still. Though Pekary was held up by right-wing media as a critic of MSNBC particularly, her concerns were economic, not ideological. “The flawed structure of the industry,” she said, “affects everyone.”

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Even if opinions are divided on this, at least the direction is clear. Endless talks have provided too little result.

US Demands Hong Kong Exports To US Be Relabelled ‘Made in China’ (SCMP)

Goods made in Hong Kong for export to the United States will have to be labelled “Made in China” after September 25, according to a draft US government notice. The move, in accordance with the suspension of the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and the invoking of US President Donald Trump’s executive order on “Hong Kong Normalisation”, will see Hong Kong companies subjected to the same trade war tariffs levied on mainland Chinese exporters, should they make products subject to these duties. A notice will be published on the US Federal Register on August 11, stipulating that “45 days after the date of publication”, goods “must be marked to indicate that their origin is ‘China’”. The move is “due to the determination that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify differential treatment in relation to China”.


The confirmation of a move implied by Trump’s previous legislation is another blow to Hong Kong’s struggling economy and to the high-value, if low-volume base of exporters in the city. Goods that fail to comply will face a punitive 10 per cent duty at US ports. Hong Kong has a higher trade deficit with the US than with any other economy, though this dropped by 16 per cent last year to US$26 billion. From January to May this year, Hong Kong’s exports to the US fell by 22.3 per cent in volume from a year earlier. Hong Kong is much more significant as a re-export hub than a direct trading hub in its own right. Its economy is a much different beast than in the 1970s and ’80s, when it was a manufacturing stronghold. Now, only 1 per cent of goods shipped from Hong Kong are made in the city, which instead serves as a logistical gateway to mainland China for both goods made there and going there.

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Between all the work from home scheduled, and the holidays by car, you have to wonder where airlines will be a year from now.

No, Americans Aren’t Suddenly Flying Again, Despite What the Media Says (WS)

The best day – meaning the least catastrophically worst day – in terms of air passengers entering to security zones at airports to board flights during the Pandemic wasn’t yesterday, as the financial media wanted to have us think, but July 2, when the count of TSA airport security screenings was down by only -63.4% from the same weekday in the same week last year, and on July 3, when the count was down by only -67.1% from a year earlier. That was over the extended Independence Day travel weekend. Now it’s peak summer travel season. Yesterday’s TSA screenings – Sunday being a peak travel day – reached 831,789, the highest during the Pandemic. But it’s peak travel season and Sunday is one of the peak travel days, so last year on that Sunday, the TSA performed 2.65 million screenings, and this Sunday’s was down by -68.6% from Sunday a year ago. And the year-over-year decline has remained roughly in the same range since the beginning of July:

People are traveling to go on vacation. But they’re driving. All kinds of lodgings near or in national parks are booked. People want to get out and do stuff, and they have the stimulus money and the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment insurance. Early indications are that they’re driving more for vacation purposes than they did last year. That’s the big thing. But flying is still an iffy proposition for most people. The seven-day moving average of the daily TSA screenings, which irons out the day-to-day ups and downs, has remained about the same since its best days since the beginning of July – “best” meaning least catastrophically down days. This indicates that the recovery of passenger volume has stalled since the beginning of July and is still terrible, terrible, terrible for the airlines:

Nevertheless, this situation caused the financial media to hyperventilate in an effort to pump up the shares. For example, CNBC reported breathlessly:

No capital-intensive business, such as an airline, can survive for long with roughly three-quarters of its business wiped out overnight, unless it undertakes a large-scale trimming-down, and unless it gets lots of financial help from all corners, including central banks and taxpayers. And that’s happening with airlines. That’s the part in CNBC’s headline that nailed it: Another $25 billion bailout has been tucked into the next stimulus package. It comes on top of the prior $25 billion in bailouts, mostly grants, that were designed to preserve airline jobs until September 30. Airlines have since told over 70,000 employees that they could lose their jobs after the deadline, and have incentivized them to leave voluntarily before the deadline, using a range of incentives, from buyout packages to early retirements.


Today, the WOLF STREET airline index of the seven largest US airlines – Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United – jumped 7.0%. Since word of the second $25 billion bailout package started circulating last Monday, the index has surged 15.7%. But it’s still down 44% from the end of the Good Times in mid-January 2020, and down a whole bunch more since January 2018. That 15.7% gain since last Monday is the little thing sticking up on the right of the chart (market cap data via YCharts):

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“..America unleashes its dogs of war upon itself…”

Let The Dogs Out (Jim Kunstler)

Attorney General Barr sat through a leisurely chat with Mark Levin on TV last night, a curious hour of understatement and elision, especially concerning the momentous matter of US Attorney John Durham’s way-overdue actions in the Russia Collusion hoax. Mr. Levin dropped the ball so many times in his questioning that it seemed deliberate — for instance failing to ask whether Mr. Barr had detected any prosecutorial misconduct in the pursuit of General Michael Flynn. There’s plenty of reason to suppose that Robert Mueller’s lawyers royally misbehaved in that case, colluding with FBI director Christopher Wray to withhold a ton of exculpatory evidence even to this day.

There are plenty more reasons to suppose that the entire Mueller investigation was a knowing, seditious sham, and that several of his “team” members — e.g. Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, Brandon Van Grack, Zainab Ahmad, Aaron Zebley, plus US Attorney Tanisha Guahar, and possibly Mr. Mueller himself — deserve to be indicted for their efforts to overthrow a president. (And, of course, there’s a long list of other now well-known characters in the DOJ, FBI, CIA, and other festering places who played roles in Coup-O-Rama).

Speaking of General Flynn, his mandamus petition comes before an en banc session of the DC Court of Appeals on Tuesday. It’s hard to see how they can get around their earlier three-judge panel’s order under a mandamus petition for DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan to vacate the case, as now demanded by the federal prosecutors who brought it in the first place. We won’t rehearse the tedious legal arguments, except to say that where there is no prosecution, there is no case, and Judge Sullivan has no standing to act as prosecutor himself under the separation of powers in the constitution. But in these dark days of a weaponized judiciary, with its Lawfare henchmen grubbing away in the shadows, there’s no telling what bad faith gears may be turning in that mill.

So, buckle up for what, all of a sudden, looks like an action-packed week. Lay in some tonic water and gin for both Covid-19 relief and some self-prescribed anesthesia as America unleashes its dogs of war upon itself.

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I don’t know enough about how police are funded across the US. It appears to be a cesspool with many different faces.

Seattle City Council Approves Millions In Police Budget Cuts (JTN)

In the state of Washington the Seattle City Council on Monday approved millions of dollars in police budget cuts. “Total initial cuts to SPD’s budget during the summer session are a down-payment for future potential reductions to the SPD budget. These reductions equate to nearly $4 million in cuts, which actualized over a year will equate to an estimated $11 million,” according to a release. “Cut 32 officers from patrol,” is one of the multiple funding decreases listed. Self-described socialist council member Kshama Sawant, who blasted the city’s budgetary maneuvering, which included other moves in addition to the police funding decreases, said that the police budget cuts were not nearly large enough.


“This budget fails to address the systemic racism of policing, trimming only $3 million from the bloated department’s remaining 2020 budget of $170 million just weeks after 6 of the 8 other Councilmembers publicly declared they would support defunding SPD by 50 percent, as our Peoples Budget and the Justice for George Floyd movement have demanded” Sawant said in the statement.

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No wonder they resign en masse.

Lebanon PM, President Were Warned About 2,750 Tonnes Of Ammonium Nitrate (R.)

Lebanese security officials warned the prime minister and president last month that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents seen by Reuters and senior security sources. Just over two weeks later, the industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 more and destroyed some 6,000 buildings, according to municipal authorities. A report by the General Directorate of State Security about events leading up to the explosion included a reference to a private letter sent to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab on July 20.


While the content of the letter was not in the report seen by Reuters, a senior security official said it summed up the findings of a judicial investigation launched in January, which concluded the chemicals needed to be secured immediately. The state security report, which confirmed the correspondence to the president and the prime minister, has not previously been reported. “There was a danger that this material if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack,” the official told Reuters. “At the end of the investigation, Prosecutor General (Ghassan) Oweidat prepared a final report which was sent to the authorities,” he said, referring to the letter sent to the prime minister and president by the General Directorate of State Security, which oversees port security. “I warned them that this could destroy Beirut if it exploded,” said the official, who was involved in writing the letter and declined to be named.

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So does China. And France is going back in.

US Special Forces Active in 22 African Countries (MPN)

A new report published in South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian has shed light on the opaque world of the American military presence in Africa. Last year, elite U.S. Special Operations forces were active in 22 African countries. This accounts for 14 percent of all American commandos deployed overseas, the largest number for any region besides the Middle East. American troops had also seen combat in 13 African nations. The U.S. is not formally at war with an African nation, and the continent is barely discussed in reference to American exploits around the globe. Therefore, when U.S. operatives die in Africa, as happened in Niger, Mali, and Somalia in 2018, the response from the public, and even from the media is often “why are American soldiers there in the first place?”

The presence of the U.S. military, especially commandos, is rarely publicly acknowledged, either by Washington or by African governments. What they are doing remains even more opaque. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) generally claims that special forces go no further than so-called “AAA” (advise, assist and accompany) missions. Yet in combat, the role between observer and participant can become distinctly blurry. The United States has roughly 6,000 military personnel scattered throughout the continent, with military attachés outnumbering diplomats in many embassies across Africa. Earlier this year, The Intercept reported that the military operates 29 bases on the continent. One of these is a huge drone hub in Niger, something The Hill called “the largest U.S. Air Force-led construction project of all time.”

[..][ Washington claims that the military’s primary role in the region is to combat the rise of extremist forces. In recent years, a number of Jihadist groups have arisen, including Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and other al-Qaeda affiliated groups. However, much of the reason for their rise can be traced back to previous American actions, including the destabilization of Yemen, Somalia, and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. It is also clear that the United States plays a key role in training many nations’ soldiers and security forces. For example, the U.S. pays Bancroft International, a private military contractor, to train elite Somali units who are at the forefront of the fighting in the country’s internal conflicts. According to The Mail and Guardian, these Somali fighters are likely also funded by the U.S. taxpayer.

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This is all about Turkey. Greece already has a new deal with Egypt on maritime borders. Turkey is seeking to claim a lot of area in the region.

Libya Begins Negotiations With Greece To Demarcate Maritime Borders (LibyaR.)

Libya’s Interim Government’s Foreign Minister, Abdul-Hadi Al-Hawaij, revealed that his ministry has held talks with its Greek counterpart. Both Libya and Greece agreed to begin negotiations to demarcate their maritime borders, as well as discuss a number of issues between the two countries. Al-Hawaij noted that Libya welcomes a solution through Article 74 of the Law of the Sea, relating to solutions based on agreements and good-neighbourliness. The Libyan FM welcomed the agreement demarcating the maritime borders between Egypt and Greece. He stressed that Libya welcomes any agreement that is in line with the UN’s Law of the Sea and which preserves the rights of Libyans.


He pointed out that the visits of the Libyan Speaker of Parliament, Ageela Saleh, to a number of countries was meant to clarify the Libyan-Egyptian political initiative. The Speaker claimed that the Libyan people were exhausted from the presence of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. “One of the most significant conditions for consensus among Libyans is to push the Turkish intervention in the country away, and leave the matter for Libyans to address the crisis”, he added. Al-Hawaij called on Libyans to end the use of force, and to diminish the power of militias. He stressed that the international community was managing the crisis, and not trying to solve it. He pointed out that Libyans were able to establish a leadership in 1922, in similar circumstances in the city of Sirte, and could be able to do so again.

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This is serious. The Turkish lira is under severe stress; the central bank tried to support it by buying lira with its dollar reserves two weeks ago, but that failed, and now it has no dollars left. This could be very bad for Erdogan, who will go for support among patriots, muslims (re: Hagia Sophia). Prediction: Greece will not give in.

Greece Armed Forces Placed On High Alert (K.)

Greece was placed on high alert Monday after Turkey sent its Oruc Reis survey ship into an area within the Greek continental shelf, a move which Athens described as a threat to peace and stability in the region. According to a navigational telex it issued, Ankara reserved an area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo to conduct research over the next two weeks. In response, Greece’s armed forces were placed in a state of absolute readiness, with units of the Hellenic Navy and Air Force deployed in the wider sea area where the Turkish research was expected. When the Oruc Reis accompanied by ships of the Turkish Navy entered the Greek continental shelf, Greek warships sent messages at a frequency of about 15 minutes requesting the vessel’s removal from the area.

The messages went unanswered by the vessel which, however, moving at a low speed – similar to that appropriate for a search process – had prepared cables to lower to the seabed in order to proceed with research activities in the area. However, according to sources, exploratory activities were rendered impossible due to the noise caused by the many naval units sailing in the area. This is because exploration of this sort entails the transmission of data from the seabed and the noise of the ships made this transmission impossible. In Athens, an emergency meeting of the country’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA, was convened. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias issued a stern statement calling on Turkey to “immediately end its illegal actions that undermine peace and security in the region.”

He added that the Turkish navtex “is a new serious escalation and exposes in the most obvious way the destabilizing and threatening role of Turkey.” “Greece will not accept any blackmail. It will defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

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Full Moon Aug 3, Astypalea Island, Greece. Photo George Tsitouras.

 

 

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Aug 102020
 


William-Adolphe Bouguereau La naissance de Vénus 1879

 

The Spies Who Hijacked America (Schrage)
Memo Shows FBI May Have Misled Senate About Russia Probe (JTN)
Pelosi, Mnuchin Open Door To Narrower COVID19 Aid Through 2020 (R.)
Fed’s Evans Says Another Coronavirus Aid Package ‘Incredibly Important’ (R.)
The US Economy Is Stronger Than the Eurozone’s (Lacalle)
Hong Kong Media Tycoon, Pro-Democracy Leader Arrested In New Crackdown (JTN)
Should The Government Balance Its Budget? (DO)
One-Fifth Of All Mail-in Ballots Disqualified In NYC Primary (JTN)
The Very Un-Christian Nagasaki Bomb (Kohls)

 

 

We passed 20 million cases, another sad milestone. But both new cases and new deaths are quite low. With US new cases below 50,000, and deaths at “only” 534, overall not a bad weekend, in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelosi

Aaron Maté Russiagate Monsters under the bed

 

 

If you read just one thing today, try this. From Matt Taibbi’s substack.

“As a doctoral candidate at Cambridge working under “FBI Informant” Stefan Halper, I had a front-row seat for Russiagate..”

The Spies Who Hijacked America (Schrage)

Global scandals now labeled Russiagate, Spygate, and what President Trump calls “Obamagate” shook the political world, but hit me closer to home. I’m the reason the so-called FBI “spy” at the center of Spygate, Stefan Halper, met Carter Page, the alleged “Russian Asset” in Russiagate’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. On May 19, 2018, this realization blindsided me in London as I was about to fly out for my wedding. The New York Times, NBC News and other sources had outed my PhD supervisor, Stefan Halper, as a spy known to the UK’s MI6 intelligence service as “The Walrus.” It didn’t seem real. Could a former professor I once trusted as a mentor have betrayed his word, profession, and country to start these disasters?

I had moved to England to pursue an academic career and leave DC’s politics behind, only to have my PhD supervisor throw me back into the most outrageous political firestorms I could imagine. Just my luck. Then an even worse question began nagging at me. Did I unintentionally light the match that started it all? As I started to piece together what happened over the next few months, I realized something. The stories that The New York Times, Washington Post, and others were pushing didn’t add up. Many seemed planted to cover up or advance the agendas of several individuals whose tentacles secretly ran through these scandals, and who each had longstanding ties to intelligence services like the FBI, CIA, and MI6. I call these individuals the Cambridge Four.

Strangely, all four were linked through that sleepy British academic town thousands of miles from the alleged “ground zeroes” of Russiagate’s conspiracies, Moscow and DC. In addition to the central “Spygate” figure Halper, they include the central source of “Russiagate’s” fake conspiracy theories, Christopher Steele; former MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove; and Halper’s and Dearlove’s partner in a Cambridge Intelligence Seminar linked to titillating — but false — tales of a “Russian spy” seducing Trump’s top national security advisor. My years of work with Halper provided an inside view of how their four networks interconnected. The more I dug up new pieces of this puzzle, the more I saw how these individuals’ seemingly separate acts might fit together in an absurd picture of how these scandals really started.

Armed with first-hand knowledge and evidence, I quietly sought to help federal investigators uncover these scandals’ mysteries. It wasn’t my first rodeo. After witnessing the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, I led G8 and State Department international crime and terrorism efforts with Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, and intelligence officials and had worked for decades in White House, Congressional, and presidential campaign roles. This helped me keep a stiff upper lip when I was falsely accused in 2019 by the House Intelligence Committee’s Ranking Republican and others on television as being part of a secret anti-Trump cabal. As much as I wanted to defend myself, I knew our best shot of exposing the real forces behind these scandals was for me to remain publicly silent and not let those under investigation know what I knew or was willing to say.

Read more …

MAY have?

Memo Shows FBI May Have Misled Senate About Russia Probe (JTN)

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Sunday released a document it says shows the FBI misled senators on the Intelligence Committee during the Russia probe by falsely suggesting Christopher Steele’s dossier was backed up by one of his key sources. “Somebody needs to go to jail for this,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the panel’s chairman, told the Fox News program Sunday Futures with Maria Bartiromo. “This is a second lie. This is a second crime. They lied to the FISA court. They got rebuked, the FBI did, in 2019 by the FISA court, putting in doubt all FISA applications. “A year before, they’re lying to the Senate Intel Committee. It’s just amazing the compounding of the lies,” Graham added.

The document in question contains the draft talking points the FBI used to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018, including an assessment that the primary sub-source of the information contained in the Steele dossier had backed up the former MI-6 agent’s reporting. The primary sub-source “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it,” the FBI memo claimed. “…At minimum, our discussions with [the Primary Sub-source] confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele.” In fact, by the time the FBI provided senators the briefing, agents had already interviewed Steele’s primary sub-source who disavowed much of what was attributed to him in the dossier as in “jest” or containing uncorroborated allegations.

Agents also had been warned by the CIA that Steele’s memos contained disinformation fed to him by Russian intelligence services, and had created a spreadsheet showing most of the claims in the dossier were either debunked, unable to be corroborated or Internet rumor. Graham said the document is so misleading he is demanding FBI Director Chris Wray identify the names of those involved in the briefing. “They misled the hell out of them,” he said. There is widespread evidence released by the Judiciary Committee and the DOJ inspector general contradicting the February 2018 FBI briefing memo including that the primary sub-source:

• told the FBI that he “has no idea” where some of the language attributed to him came from or that his contacts and “never mentioned” some information attributed to him.
• told the FBI he “did not know the origins” or “did not recall” other information contained in the dossier that was supposedly from his contacts
• alleged that Steele used “incorrect source characterization” for one of his contacts. told the FBI that the corroboration for the dossier was “zero” and that he takes what the sources for the dossier told him with “a grain of salt.”
• claimed much of what he told Steele was second-hand or even in jest and never intended it to be treated as intelligence because if was “word of mouth and hearsay” and “conversation that [he] had with friends over beers.”

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Pelosi tried to be a leader and failed. Now she’s a follower. Does that about sum it up?

Pelosi, Mnuchin Open Door To Narrower COVID19 Aid Through 2020 (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said they were open to restarting COVID-19 aid talks, after weeks of failed negotiations prompted President Donald Trump to take executive actions that Democrats argued would do little to ease Americans’ financial distress. Discussions over a fifth bill to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic fell apart on Friday, a week after the expiration of a critical boost in unemployment assistance and eviction protections, exposing people to a wave of economic pain as infections continue to rise across the country.

Trump on Saturday sought to take matters into his own hands, signing executive orders and memorandums aimed at unemployment benefits, evictions, student loans and payroll taxes. Trump told reporters in New Jersey before returning to Washington on Sunday that his suspension of the collection of the payroll tax could be made permanent. He said doing so would have no impact on Social Security because reimbursement would be made through the general fund. Trump, noting that Democrats want to resume stimulus discussions, said the White House would be willing to talk to them again “if it’s not a waste of time.”

On Sunday, both Pelosi and Mnuchin appeared willing to consider a narrower deal that would extend some aid until the end of the year, and then revisit the need for more federal assistance in January. That would come after November’s election, which could rebalance power in Washington. “Let’s pass legislation on things that we agree on,” Mnuchin told Fox News in an interview. “We don’t have to get everything done at once. … What we should do is get things done for the American public now, come back for another bill afterwards.”

DDMB Out of work

Read more …

Protect small businesses? Half of them are gone forever. Protect the people instead.

Fed’s Evans Says Another Coronavirus Aid Package ‘Incredibly Important’ (R.)

The United States should implement another support package to ensure workers can stay safely at home while the novel coronavirus continues to spread, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said in an interview with CBS News released on Sunday. Evans said it was up to U.S. lawmakers to protect small businesses and vulnerable communities with measures that ensure they can continue to pay their rent and buy food as long as the virus was not under control. “I think that public confidence is really important and another support package is really incredibly important,” Evans said on CBS’s Face the Nation program.


He also said that the most pessimistic economic projections involved not supporting state and local governments, which in turn would have to implement drastic cuts to support some of the federal aid measures. Evans’ comments come after U.S. lawmakers failed to strike an agreement on a second aid package after weeks of negotiations, leaving tens of millions of unemployed Americans without direct federal support.

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And you would expect to see that reflected in the USD’s exchange rate. But not yet.

The US Economy Is Stronger Than the Eurozone’s (Lacalle)

The United States is showing resiliency and strength compared with other leading economies worldwide. The impact of the covid-19 forced shutdown crisis is lower in the United States than in Japan, Germany, France, the average of the European Union 27, and the euro area countries. The recovery is also stronger and more sustainable. This does not mean that the economic impact is small. Recession is severe and its impact on jobs and growth cannot be underestimated, but it is important to show how other economies with larger government spending plans and important entitlement programs are showing a much weaker performance. The second quarter GDP was much better than in the euro area (–9.5 percent quarterly compared to –12.1 percent in the eurozone), although it reflects a notable quarterly drop, and well below the one seen in 2008.

This comparison is important because most mainstream economists believe that higher government spending and public sector help offset the blow of a recession. They do not. The United States quarterly GDP fall, at –9.5 percent, is small compared to Germany’s –10.1 percent, France’s –13.8 percent, Italy’s –12.4 percent, Spain’s –18.5 percent and the European Union 27’s at –11.9 percent. You may have read about the quarterly annualized –32.9 percent figure for the United States, but it is misleading to compare it with the European published figures, which are not annualized. The annualized rate estimates how much the economy would grow or shrink if the rate of change seen in the quarter continued for four consecutive quarters.

If we compared apples to apples, the quarterly annualized GDP collapse would be from –40 percent in Germany to –55 percent in Spain compared to the US’s –32.9 percent. In any case, it seems relevant to insist on three points: 1) the United States GDP decline was smaller than consensus estimates; 2) it is notably lower than the eurozone figure, which was worse than consensus expected; and 3) the advanced US data points to one of the strongest recoveries in the world. The improvement in domestic demand that we already began to observe in the month of May has been confirmed in June. Retail sales registered an increase of 7.5 percent per month, the second-highest number in the historical series after the May data, and this time with a less relevant “base effect.” In year-on-year terms, retail sales have already grown 1.1 percent and, eliminating vehicle sales, this increase amounts to 7.3 percent year on year. Still a lot to improve, though.

Advanced and leading indicators in the United States point to a third quarter GDP rise of 18 to 20 percent in annualized terms, a recovery of more than half of the decline in first half of the year in three months. There is a lot to do and no one can be complacent. If consumption and investment progress within potential, the US economy could close the year at flat growth and 6 percent unemployment in the most optimistic scenario. However, it is more likely that the economy will end the year down 5 percent and with unemployment at 8.5 percent, all according to our estimates. This compares with a eurozone that may likely fall more than 9 percent in 2020, with official unemployment and furloughed jobs reaching an average of 12.5 percent according to Bloomberg.

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Cullusion with foreign forces. It’s like the US. And now they can take him to China under the new law?!

Hong Kong Media Tycoon, Pro-Democracy Leader Arrested In New Crackdown (JTN)

Jimmy Lai, a prominent publisher and pro-democracy leader in Hong Kong, was arrested Monday on charges of foreign collusion under a new national security law sharply criticized by the United States. The 71-year-old founder of the Apple Daily outlet and a longtime antagonist of communist China was taken in custody as police raided his newsroom seeking documents. Lai was already facing other charges related to his organization of protests last year, but the new counts sent shockwaves through Hong Kong. Lai’s arrest was part of a larger police operation. Hong Kong law enforcement officials said at least seven people aged 39 to 72 had been arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces against national security, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

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Twitter thread from Deficit Owl h/t Steve Keen. I’ve said it before: we must have these discussions.

Should The Government Balance Its Budget? (DO)

One popular idea in “Keynesian economics” is that the government should balance its budget over the course of the business cycle, running deficits for stimulus during recessions, then surpluses in booms to bring down the debt. This is a bad strategy, because it neglects the interconnectedness of financial positions in the economy. One entity’s spending is another’s income; so for somebody to run a surplus, somebody else has to run a deficit. So if we say “gov should run a surplus,” what does that imply about private financial positions? In the US, because of structural factors that aren’t going away anytime soon, we nearly always run deficits against the rest of the world (the trade/current account deficit), meaning that we send income overseas that doesn’t come back as spending.

That means that for the US private sector balance to be positive (a surplus), the gov sector balance has to be negative (a deficit) and it has to be at least as large as the losses to the foreign sector (the gov deficit ≥ the current account deficit). The private sector doesn’t need to be in surplus at all times. But we also wouldn’t expect it to be continually in deficit – that would imply, on net, ever-worsening financial positions in the private sector, running down saved assets and/or issuing new IOUs. So what happens to the private sector if the gov “balances its budget over the cycle”? In recessions, depending on the size of the gov deficit, the private sector will be balanced or running small surpluses (because the foreign deficit cancels out some/all of the gov deficit). But in booms, the private sector would be deeply in the red (deficit), because the gov surpluses would be subtracting income out of the private sector, while the foreign sector is doing it too. /7

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This discussion is far from over.

One-Fifth Of All Mail-in Ballots Disqualified In NYC Primary (JTN)

Tens of thousands of mail-in voting ballots in the recent New York Democratic presidential primary election were disqualified without being counted — a sign that the country’s looming presidential election, one which may be conducted significantly by mail, could be facing procedural chaos over countless disputed and uncounted votes. A total of more than 84,000 ballots were disqualified in the city primary — roughly 21%, or one out of every five votes — many of them due to late submissions, lack of postmarks and missing signatures. Kings County — the borough of Brooklyn — alone saw 30,000 ballots invalidated. The disorganized voting and tallying process could signal a coming crisis in November, when much of the American vote is expected to be submitted via mail due to fears of the coronavirus.

A Pew Research Center Poll from June found that just one out of every five Americans voted by mail in the 2016 election; many officials across the country have been pushing in recent months for every American voter to receive a mail-in ballot. President Trump has of late warned repeatedly that the mail-in voting process is ripe for fraud and abuse, yet the disarray of New York’s primary suggests procedural issues may form a much larger concern for election integrity in November. A localized ruling by a federal judge last week has thrown the New York primary into even greater disorder. Judge Analisa Torres ruled Aug. 3 that, due to faulty mailing and processing issues, all mail-in votes in the state received up to two days after the election must be counted so long as they were postmarked by the day of the election.

Torres extended that order to cover all elections across the state, claiming that not doing so “would risk running afoul of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment.” State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin told Just the News that Torres’ ruling has not yet been enforced. “The State Board of Elections is appealing the decision,” he said via email. “If we lose the appeal then all affected boards will have to conduct additional canvassing for absentee ballots received on June 24th and 25th without a postmark. The local boards would then submit amended certifications of their primary results.”

“It is not expected that the outcome in any contest will be changed,” Conklin added. “Absentee ballots can be disqualified for any number of statutory reasons,” he added, including “late postmark, no postmark, the Oath envelope not signed and dated by the voter, the signature on the Oath envelope does not match the signature in the voter’s registration record, the Oath envelope not sealed by the voter, the voter is deceased, the voter showed up in person to vote on Election Day,” and numerous other factors.

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There was zero need to drop it, or the Hiroshima bomb. Japan had been looking for a way to surrender for months. But Russia also declared war on Japan, and that changed things.

The Very Un-Christian Nagasaki Bomb (Kohls)

Seventy-five years ago today, an all-Christian bomber crew dropped “Fat Man,” a plutonium bomb, on Nagasaki, Japan, instantly annihilating tens of thousands of innocent civilians, a disproportionate number of them Japanese Christians, and wounding uncountable numbers of others. For targeting purposes, the bombing crew used St. Mary’s Urakami Cathedral, the largest Christian church in East Asia. At 11:02 a.m., on Aug. 9, 1945, when the bomb was dropped over the cathedral, Nagasaki was the most Christian city in Japan. At the time, the United States was arguably the most Christian nation in the world (that is, if you can label as Christian a nation whose churches overwhelmingly have failed to sincerely teach or adhere to the peaceful ethics of Jesus as taught in the Sermon on the Mount).

The baptized and confirmed Christian airmen, following their wartime orders to the letter, did their job efficiently, and they accomplished the mission with military pride, albeit with a number of near-fatal glitches. Most Americans in 1945 would have done exactly the same if they had been in the shoes of the Bock’s Car crew, and there would have been very little mental anguish later if they had also been treated as heroes. Nevertheless, the use of that monstrous weapon of mass destruction to destroy a mainly civilian city like Nagasaki was an international war crime and a crime against humanity as defined later by the Nuremberg Tribunal. Of course, there was no way that the crew members could have known that at the time. Some of the crew did admit that they had had some doubts about what they had participated in when the bomb actually detonated.

Of course, none of them actually saw the horrific suffering of the victims up close and personal. “Orders are orders” and, in wartime, disobedience can be, and has been, legally punishable by summary execution of the soldier who might have had a conscience strong enough to convince him that killing another human, especially an unarmed one, was morally wrong. When Nagasaki was destroyed, it had been only three days since another U.S. atomic bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” had decimated Hiroshima. The Nagasaki bombing on Aug. 9 occurred amid chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military government, which had known for months that it had lost the war, was searching for a way to honorably surrender.

The only obstacle to surrender had been the Allied insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese regarded as a deity, would be removed from his figurehead position in Japan and possible subjected to war crimes trials. That was a deal-breaker, an intolerable demand for the Japanese that prolonged the war and prevented Japan from giving up months earlier.

St. Mary’s Urakami Cathedral after the bomb exploded above it as shown in a photograph dated Jan. 7, 1946.

Read more …

 

 

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1944 CIA memo on how to infiltrate an organisation

 

 

This statue doesn’t like dogs. Think we should topple it?

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 092020
 


Albert Kahn Paris, Autochrome Lumière color photo 1914

 

COVID19 Pandemic To ‘Bring Socialism To US’, Transform The World – Taleb (RT)
What’s In Trump’s Coronavirus Executive Orders (R.)
Russia COVID19 Vaccine Registration Expected August 12 (RT)
SARS-CoV-2 Fatality Risk In A Nationwide Seroepidemiological Study (Medrxiv)
Chuck Schumer Says Schools Must Reopen Or Economy Suffers (RT)
Trump Aides Exploring Executive Actions To Curb Voting By Mail (Pol.)
No Payment, No Problem: Bizarre New World of Consumer Debt (WS)
Social Media Imposing Modern-Day ‘Hays Code’ On Political Speech (RCP)
Twitter Reportedly Joins Growing List Of Potential TikTok Suitors (ZH)
US To Cut Troop Levels In Afghanistan To ‘Less Than 5,000’ – Esper (R.)
Oil Giants Cut Production By 1 Million bpd Amid Massive Writedowns (R.)
Zelensky Says Ukraine Staying Out Of US Internal Politics, Elections (R.)
George W. Bush Laid the Groundwork for Today’s Immigration Nightmare (MPN)
West’s Favorite Hong Kong ‘Freedom Writer’ Is American In Yellowface (GZ)
Solidarity with the Germans (Varoufakis)

 

 

Weekend, so lower numbers. US new deaths were below 1,000 (976), so I lost that grpah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hedge funds dollar

 

 

Who would have thought that the first socialist president of the United States would be Donald Trump?

COVID19 Pandemic To ‘Bring Socialism To US’, Transform The World – Taleb (RT)

In a remarkable twist, the raging coronavirus pandemic has forced even countries like the US to adopt “socialist” welfare programs, acclaimed author and risk analyst Nassim Taleb has told RT. While people spend days worrying about global wars, our biggest threats have always been the pandemics, the author of ‘The Black Swan’ and ‘Skin in the Game’ told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze on her show SophieCo. Visionaries. The advent of the novel coronavirus will tremendously change societies in many ways, making them better ready for future crises, he said. “So the world will be different, wiser. But, hopefully, it will be good for peace, because people will understand tomorrow that the enemy is not some person with weapons. The enemy is that thing you don’t see: a tiny little germ you can have on top of a pencil,” the writer added.

What I think is going to happen is a transformation of economic structures to accommodate potential pandemics. Even if they never happen again, people will be prepared for them. He cited the boom of teleworking, Zoom conference calls, and online shopping as examples of people adapting to the new reality. According to Taleb, globalization would become more “guarded,” rather than disappear entirely. “The physical movement of population… would be reduced, and business travel will not be as active as we saw in the past,” he said. One of the most remarkable changes the pandemic has brought, the writer noted, was how some governments have been “extremely helpful” to citizens trapped in quarantines and lockdowns.

This touched the US as well, where a $2 trillion stimulus package was adopted in May, the largest in the nation’s history. Who would have thought that the first socialist president of the United States would be Donald Trump? He gave people universal basic income for a few months, and they took possession of companies. If that’s not socialism, I don’t know what is. So, the individuals got a protective net that they didn’t have before. “Mark my words, if you want a headline done – ‘Who would have expected the Covid to run both domestic and foreign policy?’, ‘Covid to bring socialism to countries like the United States,’” Taleb said.

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Yeah. No. Everyone may get this wrong or confused, but from what I can see he signed just one executive order (on payroll tax), the other three are memoranda. Details on that:

The hierarchy is: Proclamations, executive orders, presidential memoranda, presidential notices, and presidential determinations. Notices and determinations are usually required by Congress on specific issues. Authority: Under an executive order signed by President John F. Kennedy, an executive order must cite the authority the president has to issue it. That could be the constitution, or a specific statute. Presidential memoranda have no such requirement.

What’s In Trump’s Coronavirus Executive Orders (R.)

After failing to reach a deal with the U.S. Congress for a fresh round of coronavirus pandemic relief, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders aimed at pumping up America’s pandemic-hit economy. The orders are likely to face some legal challenges. Trump’s order cuts enhanced federal unemployment benefits – a lifeline for the tens of millions of Americans thrown out of work during the pandemic – from $600 to $400 per week. Democrats had been lobbying to extend the original $600 a week enhanced benefits, which expired on July 31. Trump proposes taking most of the money from the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency – $44 billion, according to the order – with 25% of the money coming from states.

It’s not clear how Trump will convince state governments, whose revenues have been hard hit by the crisis, to pony up their proposed share. Trump called the reduced payments “generous.” Trump’s first order waives the payroll tax that funds Social Security in a bid to inject extra money directly into salaried employees’ pockets. Trump has been pushing the idea for a while but it has found little support in Congress from Democrats or his fellow Republicans. The executive order says the cut comes into effect on Sept. 1, but Trump said it “most likely” would be retroactive to Aug. 1 and translate into “bigger paychecks for working families.”

Trump’s order protecting homeowners and renters from evictions is unlikely to face a challenge from Democrats; indeed, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week encouraged the move. But it isn’t clear how it will be executed. The order directs authorities to provide “temporary financial assistance” to renters and homeowners “struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations.” Even Trump seemed a little hazy on the order’s ultimate effects, saying “we don’t want people being evicted and the act that I am signing will solve that problem – largely, hopefully, completely.” Trump said that interest on student loan payments – frozen since March – would be suspended until the end of the year.

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“Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping, it’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first..”

Russia COVID19 Vaccine Registration Expected August 12 (RT)

Moscow’s Gamelei Center could register the world’s first coronavirus vaccine on August 12, Russia’s deputy health minister has revealed. Oleg Gridnev says medical workers and the elderly will be given priority for immunization. The senior minister at the department, Mikhail Murashko, announced last week that a nationwide mass vaccination program is planned to begin in October. Murashko added that all expenses will be covered by the government. “The registration of the vaccine developed at the Gamelei Center will take place on August 12,” Gridnev told journalists in Ufa on Friday morning, as cited by RIA Novosti. “Now the last stage, the third, is underway. This is the testing part and is extremely important. We have to understand that the vaccine itself must be safe.”

The Health Ministry, in an official statement, clarified that “the documents required for registration of the vaccine developed by the Gamelei Center, including data from clinical trials, are under examination. The issue of its registration will be decided upon the results of the examination.” Clinical trials of the formula began at Moscow’s Sechenov University on June 18. In a study involving 38 volunteers, it passed safety protocols. It was observed that all those who took part developed immunity to the infection. The speed with which Russia has managed to research and approve a formula has raised some eyebrows in the West, but Vadim Tarasov, a top scientist at Sechenov, said the country had a head start as it has spent the last 20 years developing skills in this field and trying to understand how viruses transmit.

The haste is fairly easy to grasp when you consider the effect Covid-19 has had on the world’s largest country. With more than 870,000 cases, it is among the four countries worst affected by the epidemic, along with the US, Brazil, and India. Russia’s 14,725 fatalities is the 11th highest in the world, although when measured per capita, the death rate ranks 47th, below Germany, but above Austria. The technology behind the Russian vaccine is based on adenovirus, the common cold. Created artificially, the vaccine proteins replicate those of Covid-19, triggering “an immune response similar to that caused by the coronavirus itself,” Tarasov said. In other words, immunization is similar to having survived the virus, but without its life-threatening risks.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which has bankrolled the research, last week compared the vaccine discovery process to the Space Race. “Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping, it’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first,” he told US TV.

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Much deadlier in men. Much deadlier than the seasonal flu.

SARS-CoV-2 Fatality Risk In A Nationwide Seroepidemiological Study (Medrxiv)

The magnitude of the infection fatality risk (IFR) of SARS-CoV-2 remains under debate. Because the IFR is the number of deaths divided by the number of infected, serological studies are needed to identify asymptomatic and mild cases. Also, because ascertainment of deaths attributable to COVID-19 is often incomplete, the calculation of the IFR needs to be complemented with data on excess mortality. We used data from a nation-wide seroepidemiological study and two sources of mortality information -deaths among laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases and excess deaths- to estimate the range of IFR, both overall and by age and sex, in Spain.


The overall IFR ranged between 1.1% and 1.4% in men and 0.58% to 0.77% in women. The IFR increased sharply after age 50, ranging between 11.6% and 16.4% in men ≥80 years and between 4.6% and 6.5% in women ≥80 years. Our IFR estimates for SARS-CoV-2 are substantially greater than IFR estimators for seasonal influenza, justifying the implementation of special public health measures.

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Not the first time that the Dems cry murder over something Trump says, only to make it look like they invented it mere weeks later.

Chuck Schumer Says Schools Must Reopen Or Economy Suffers (RT)

Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a compromise on a Covid-19 economic relief bill, but one comment from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) about schools needing to reopen has some seeing hypocrisy on the left. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Schumer addressed the press after failed negotiations with Republicans on a potential relief bill. While many of their complaints about Republicans refusing to continue robust unemployment and other government programs was to be expected, one comment from Schumer went viral as it didn’t seem to match the outrage shown to President Donald Trump when he mentioned the same thing. “If you don’t open up the schools, you’re going to hurt the economy significantly,” Schumer said, “because lots of people can’t go to work.”

The president has floated the idea of fully reopening most schools in the fall despite the coronavirus pandemic, but he has found pushback with liberal critics each and every time. Schumer’s admission that not reopening schools will hurt the economy, which the president has argued, was seen as a surprising “moment of clarity” by critics on social media who latched onto the comment. The disagreement on reopening schools comes down to federal funding. Schumer and Pelosi have argued the only way to safely let kids back into the in-person education system is through major federal funding. Trump has argued that schools in hotspots for the coronavirus should be taking precautions when reopening, but the failure to add federal funding into a Covid-19 economic package has the left and right at a standstill on the issue.

Already a heated debate, it is only bound to get more heated as the country draws nearer to the dates schools would normally open their doors again. Experts have argued since schooling is a childcare issue, keeping them closed affects not only children and employees of the education system, but also parents who cannot return to work. “Because children and parents are dying from that trauma, too. They’re dying because they can’t do what they’re doing. Mothers can’t go to work because all of a sudden they have to stay home and watch their child, and fathers,” the president told CBS News last month when asked why he considered not reopening schools a “terrible decision.”

Pelosi has argued the president is “messing” with childrens’ health and risking another outbreak of the virus with his support for reopening schools. “Going back to school presents the biggest risk for the spread of the coronavirus,” she told CNN. “If there are CDC guidelines, they should be requirements.”

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Oh, we’re going to have so much fun over the nest three months. And then there may be another three months needed to count the votes. Solid entertainment into Spring 2021. And Pelosi as President.

Trump Aides Exploring Executive Actions To Curb Voting By Mail (Pol.)

Just because Trump’s claims of rampant mail-in voting fraud aren’t supported by evidence doesn’t mean election experts aren’t concerned about problems holding a presidential election during a pandemic. It’s unknown whether the United States Postal Service can handle a surge of mail-in ballots in a timely fashion, and other officials have cautioned about long lines and a shortage of workers at in-person polling stations, which have been limited during the coronavirus outbreak. Some have predicted the crush of remote voting could mean a final winner in the presidential race between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden won’t be known for days or even weeks.

Democrats are pushing for $25 billion for USPS in the next coronavirus recovery bill to help address those concerns, but it remains a source of disagreement with Republicans. There have already been some some notable delays in down-ballot elections during the pandemic, including one New York race this summer. Six weeks after a Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat, all of the ballots have yet to be counted. “This is a rare case where the president is not overstating the case,” argued Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has sued in North Carolina and Pennsylvania over the accuracy of voting rolls. “Frankly he’s understating the problem that I think we are going to face on Election Day. The system is going to break.”

The Trump campaign is holding events touting its legal actions on voting rules. And privately, the White House is debating possible further action, according to two people familiar with the situation. The White House declined to comment on whether Trump would be signing an executive order on the issue. “All Americans deserve an election system that is secure and President Trump is highlighting that Democrats’ plan for universal mail-in voting would lead to fraud,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews. “While Democrats continue to call for a radical overhaul of our nation’s voting system, President Trump will continue to work to ensure the security and integrity of our elections.”

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It’s just like a biblical jubilee.

No Payment, No Problem: Bizarre New World of Consumer Debt (WS)

The New York Fed released a doozie of a household credit report. It summarized what individual lenders have been reporting about their own practices: If you can’t make the payments on your mortgage, auto loan, credit card debt, or student loan, just ask for a deferral or forbearance, and you won’t have to make the payments, and the loan won’t count as delinquent if it wasn’t delinquent before. And even if it was delinquent before, you can “cure” a delinquency by getting the loan deferred and modified. No payment, no problem. Student loan borrowers were automatically rolled into forbearance under the CARES Act, and even though many students had stopped making payments, delinquency rates plunged because the Department of Education had decided to report as “current” all those loans that are in forbearance, even if they were delinquent. Yup, according to New York Fed data, the delinquency rate of student loan borrowers, though many had stopped making payments, plunged from 10.75% in Q1, to 6.97% in Q2, the lowest since 2007:

Student loan forbearance is available until September 30, and interest is waived until then, instead of being added to the loan. In a blog post, the New York Fed said that 88% of the student-loan borrowers, including private-loan borrowers and Federal Family Education Loan borrowers, had a “scheduled payment of $0,” meaning that at least 88% of the student loans were in some form of forbearance. Until September 30. And then what? And because delinquencies in student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and mortgages are being “cured” by putting the loans in deferral programs and modifying the delinquent loans, they become “current” loans even though no catch-up payments have been made.


Still, about 32 million people are claiming unemployment insurance. A much smaller employment shock during the Financial Crisis caused the percentage of delinquent loan balances to soar, and the percentage of “current” loan balances to plunge, to bottom out at 88% in Q4 2009. Not this time. As the percentage of delinquent loan balances fell, the percentage of “current” loan balances jumped to 96.4%, a record high in the New York Fed’s data going back to 2003. Yup, crazy world. Ally Financial reported in its 10-Q filing with the SEC for the second quarter that about 21% of its auto-loan customers were enrolled in its deferral program where they don’t have to make payments for 120 days. “The vast majority of our loan deferrals for customers in the program are scheduled to expire by the end of August 2020,” it said. And then what?

Lenders like these types of programs because they can kick the can of delinquencies down the road, and instead they have “performing loans” for which they can accrue interest which makes their investors happy, even though the customers don’t make any interest or principal payments. Bank regulators normally get nervous about deferral programs. But it appears that bank regulators have been told the shelter at home until further notice. Across all lenders, about 5.9% of the $1.34 trillion in auto loans – so close to $80 billion – are in forbearance, according to the New York Fed. And as a result, borrowers who cannot make the payment, don’t have to make it, and their loans are still deemed “current,” and the percentage of auto loans that are newly delinquent dropped to 6.29%, a record low in the data – while during the last crisis, the delinquent balances were above 10% for nearly two years:

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Yes, they’re censoring TV networks now. Scary. So is this: when Elon Musk tweeted in March that “kids are essentially immune,” Twitter clarified that his tweet did not violate its COVID-19 rules.

Social Media Imposing Modern-Day ‘Hays Code’ On Political Speech (RCP)

Social media companies continued to assert their power over the political sphere this week, with Twitter temporarily suspending the Trump campaign’s ability to post until it removed a clip of a Fox News interview with the president regarding COVID-19. When the Democratic National Committee reposted the video to debunk it, Twitter similarly banned the DNC from tweeting until it too deleted the footage. With Twitter seemingly unbothered by the implications of suspending a presidential campaign’s account just 12 weeks before the election, what might the future hold as control of our public squares is increasingly centralized?

Twitch became the first social media platform to formally suspend a presidential candidate’s account this past June when it deleted two of President Trump’s campaign rally videos for violations of its “hateful conduct” rules. In doing so, it emphasized the divide between physical and virtual campaigning. At an in-person rally a candidate can present the policy proposals he or she believes supporters want. Virtual rallies, however, are policed by an army of moderators enforcing ever-changing acceptable speech policies, forcing politicians to self-censor or risk deletion from the online world that increasingly shapes elections.

In the case of this week’s ban, the story is all the more remarkable because the video in question was actually a cable TV interview with the nation’s leader, meaning that social platforms were in effect banning a major news organization’s reporting. As news is increasingly consumed through social media, the upshot is that the online platform’s acceptable speech rules are being applied to traditional news outlets. Additionally, rather than link the video to an outside fact check, Facebook simply deleted it as “a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation” while Twitter forced the campaign to delete the post as a “violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation.” Both companies cited as the offending statement Trump’s claim that children have “much stronger immune systems” than adults and thus “they don’t have a problem” when infected.

While oversimplifying, Trump’s claims are not that far removed from those of CDC Director Robert Redfield and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who have cited the pathogen’s significantly reduced severity in children in their calls to safely reopen schools this fall. While more measured than the “immunity” claimed by Trump, the gist of his statement — that COVID-19’s impact on children appears to be less severe than its effect on older Americans — aligns with the public statements of his medical advisers. Moreover, when Elon Musk tweeted in March that “kids are essentially immune,” Twitter clarified that his tweet did not violate its COVID-19 rules. To this date, Musk’s tweet carries no warnings or fact-checking statements from Twitter refuting it or adding additional context to his claims.

In many ways, social media platforms have become modern-day incarnations of the Hays Code that governed Hollywood from the 1930s to 1960s, establishing “morality” standards and enforcing them with an army of censors. By shaping popular culture through its control of movies, the Hays Code ensured that generations of Americans were presented an idealized world of benevolent public institutions, including police and politicians whose good works were spotlighted and any wrongdoing was punished. Moreover, as an extrajudicial speech regulation, studios could modify the rules and exempt content at will, much as social platforms do today.

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And the censoring power will only get more centralized, unless politics calls a halt to it. But then there’s always the strong links to intelligence services.

Twitter Reportedly Joins Growing List Of Potential TikTok Suitors (ZH)

The ideological battle over the fate of TikTok is provoking fist fights in the Oval Office, and a scramble among the country’s biggest tech firms to see if they might be able to come up with a workable pitch that would allow them to win approval to buy the US operations (along with New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and possibly more) of the popular Chinese-owned social media platform – the only real obstacle to a deal at a time when corporate credit is essentially free. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the app, which the Trump Administration is threatening to shut down in the US over fears of a “national security threat” (Chinese law forces all Chinese companies to cooperate with state security forces, provoking fears that ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, might be compelled to set up a pipeline of Americans’ private information straight to Beijing), has become perhaps the biggest political football at a time of intense strain in the bilateral relationship.

But amid the chaos and the geopolitical posturing of the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, America’s tech giants apparently see an opportunity, however unlikely, to circumvent opposition to further tech-industry mergers and seal what very well might be the last major merger in the industry for quite some time. And with the world headed into a period of protracted slowdown, companies might as well take advantage of the free money, and lock in that future EPS growth while they can. Since anti-trust scrutiny is such a hot issue in the world of big tech right now, it seems every company that has reportedly engaged in “talks” about the prospects for a deal has a reason for why it might assuage regulators and lawmakers and convince both Congress and the White House to agree to the deal.

Being the smallest of the three major companies rumored to be potential suitors, Twitter obviously has the best case from a purely anti-trust standpoint (although it seems reporters keep coming up with excuses for why Microsoft or Facebook could still make it work). Plus, Twitter’s comparatively tiny $29 billion market cap means it would likely need help from outside investors – a great opportunity for Sequoia and the other big VC firms who backed ByteDance who reportedly were in talks about a deal to bring TikTok into the US under their purview. The deal would have valued TikTok at $50 billion, according to unconfirmed reports.

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How awful! Let’s do something!

US To Cut Troop Levels In Afghanistan To ‘Less Than 5,000’ – Esper (R.)

The United States plans to cut its troop levels in Afghanistan to “a number less than 5,000” by the end of November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, adding detail to drawdown plans U.S. President Donald Trump announced earlier this week. The United States currently has about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan. Trump said in an interview released Monday by Axios that the United States planned to lower that number to about 4,000.

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Hey! You’re not driving enough! Want to collapse the economy or something?

Oil Giants Cut Production By 1 Million bpd Amid Massive Writedowns (R.)

The world’s five largest oil companies collectively cut the value of their assets by nearly $50 billion in the second quarter, and slashed production rates as the coronavirus pandemic caused a drastic fall in fuel prices and demand. The dramatic reductions in asset valuations and decline in output show the depth of the pain in the second quarter. Fuel demand at one point was down by more than 30% worldwide, and still remains below pre-pandemic levels. Several executives said they took massive writedowns because they expect demand to remain impaired for several more quarters as people travel less and use less fuel due to the ongoing global pandemic that has killed more than 700,000 people.


Of those five companies, only Exxon Mobil did not book sizeable impairments. But an ongoing re-evaluation of its plans could lead to a “significant portion” of its assets being impaired, it reported, and signal the elimination of 20% or 4.4 billion barrels of its oil and gas reserves. By contrast, BP took a $17 billion hit. It said it plans to re-center its spending in coming years around renewables and less on oil and natural gas. Weak demand means oil producers must revisit business plans, said Lee Maginniss, managing director at consultants Alarez & Marsal. He said the goal should be to pump only what generates cash in excess of overhead costs. “It’s low-cost production mode through the end of 2021 for sure, and to 2022 to the extent there are new development plans being contemplated,” Maginniss said.

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Isn’t he also interfering by NOT investigating Burisma, Hunter and the clip where Joe Biden brags about blackmailing Poroshenko into firing a prosecutor?

Zelensky Says Ukraine Staying Out Of US Internal Politics, Elections (R.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that it was a matter of Ukraine’s national security to stay out of U.S. internal politics, particularly its election. “#Ukraine did not and will not allow itself to interfere in the elections and thus harm our trusting and sincere partnership with the #USA,” he wrote on Twitter late on Saturday. Zelenskiy, 42, was a comic actor when he won a landslide election last year. But the first year of his presidency was overshadowed by Ukraine’s unwitting involvement in events that led to the impeachment of Republican U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump had unsuccessfully pressed Ukraine to launch an investigation into his Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden.


“Never, under any circumstances, it’s acceptable to meddle in another country’s sovereign elections,” Zelenskiy wrote. Zelenskiy appealed to Ukrainian politicians to avoid any actions that could be linked to U.S. elections, nor allow themselves to try to solve any of their personal, political or business problems that way. “Ukraine’s reputation is worth much more than the reputation of any of our politicians,” the president said.

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“It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us..”

Hard to read that with a straight face, let alone for him to say it.

George W. Bush Laid the Groundwork for Today’s Immigration Nightmare (MPN)

George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, has announced he is releasing a new book called “Out of Many, One” which will celebrate America’s diversity and immigrant populations. “Our immigrant heritage has enriched America’s history. It continues to shape our society. Each generation of Americans — of immigrants — brings a renewal to our national character and adds vitality to our culture. Newcomers have a special way of appreciating the opportunities of America, and when they seize those opportunities, our whole nation benefits,” the former president said. The book, scheduled for release in March 2021 will feature 43 images of immigrants, painted by Bush himself [..]

“While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue. It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us,” he said in a press release. “My hope is that this book will help focus our collective attention on the positive impacts that immigrants are making on our country.” With immigration becoming an increasingly hot partisan issue, the move celebrating the practice is the latest in a series of actions that Bush has taken to distance himself from the current Republican president. Both Bush and his father claimed they did not vote for Trump in 2016, leading to delight from many Democrats. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for example, yearned for a by-gone age, admitting to wishing Bush were still president, even though at the time she described him as a “total failure” in every aspect of governing.

[..] Bush bragged about greatly increasing the U.S.’ detention capacity for immigrants, using drones to patrol the area, and building 700 hundred miles of fencing and wall, which served as a stepping stone to Trump’s border plans. The increasingly militarized border mirrored the increasingly hostile rhetoric towards immigrants that dominated the Republican Party today. Bush is no stranger to covering controversial topics in his art. In 2017, he released a similar bestselling book called “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.” In it, he painted dozens of fallen American servicemen, all of whom died fighting in wars he started under false pretenses and has expressed no remorse for doing so. Neither Bush nor the great number of outlets who praised the book appeared at all interested in Middle Eastern victims of his policy.

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A Trojan horse in the 2020’s.

West’s Favorite Hong Kong ‘Freedom Writer’ Is American In Yellowface (GZ)

An American man with ties to Amnesty International and key Hong Kong separatist figures has been posing online as a Hong Kong native named Kong Tsung-gan. Routinely cited as a grassroots activist and writer by major media organizations and published in English-language media, the fictitious character Kong appears to have been concocted to disseminate anti-China propaganda behind the cover of yellowface. Through Kong Tsung-gan’s prolific digital presence and uninterrogated reputation in mainstream Western media, he disseminates a constant stream of content hyping up the Hong Kong “freedom struggle” while clamoring for the US to turn up the heat on China.


Whispers about Kong’s true identity have been circulating on social media among Hong Kong residents, and was even mentioned in a brief account last December by The Standard. The Grayzone spoke to several locals outraged by a deceptive stunt they considered not only unethical, but racist. They said they have kept their views to themselves due to the atmosphere of intimidation looming over the city, where self-styled “freedom fighters” harass and target seemingly anyone who speaks out publicly against them.

The Twitter user Kong Tsung-gan (@KongTsungGan) first appeared in March 2015. Kong Tsung-gan’s earliest tweets featured commentary about Tibet and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. At some point, Kong changed his Twitter avatar to a black-and-white headshot of an unknown Asian person. A search of the Wayback Machine internet archive shows that this photo remained up until sometime in late 2019. Later, Kong changed his Twitter avatar to an image depicting Liu Xia, the wife of the late Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo was a right-wing ideologue who celebrated the US wars on Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and was rewarded with the 2014 Democracy Award by the National Endowment for Democracy – the favorite meddling machine of the US government.


[..] At around the time he created his Twitter account, Kong Tsung-gan published his first Medium post. He has since filled his Medium feed with protest timelines, lists of recommended human rights books and journalism (including a link to the questionable China “expert” Adrian Zenz), and “first-hand accounts” of his protest experiences on the ground. In one account, Kong Tsung-gan claimed he attended a Band 1 government school, implying he was a native Hong Kong resident. Kong’s work has been amplified by Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong protest poster-boy who has enjoyed photo-ops with neoconservative Republican senators like Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton.

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Rich eat poor everywhere.

Solidarity with the Germans (Varoufakis)

A recent study has confirmed that half of Germany’s population owns just 1.5% of the country’s wealth, while the top 0.1% own 20%. And inequality is getting worse. During the last two decades, the real disposable income of the poorest 50% has been falling while that of the top 1% has been rising fast, along with house and share prices. It is against this background of high and rising inequality that the mood of the German public must be understood, in particular popular resistance to the idea of a eurozone fiscal union. German workers, who are increasingly struggling to make ends meet, understandably refuse to endorse the idea of huge amounts of money being constantly channeled to citizens of other countries. The fact that Germany is getting richer overall is irrelevant to them.

From experience, they know that any money sent to Italy or Greece will probably come from them, not the top 0.1% – not to mention that it will probably end up in the pockets of vile Greek oligarchs, or of private German companies that have purchased Greek assets for next to nothing. As a result, the European Union’s recently agreed €750 billion ($880 billion) pandemic recovery fund, dubbed Next Generation EU, threatens to deepen divisions across Europe, rather than being the unifying balm of many commentators’ dreams. Setting aside the scheme’s macroeconomic insignificance, it is important to take a fresh look at it from the perspective of a typical German worker languishing among the bottom 50% of the country’s wealth distribution.

Her government, a typical German worker is told, will be liable for €100 billion of new debt that the EU will use to help foreigners recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout. “Italians will receive €80 billion from Europe’s Recovery Fund,” she hears. “Spaniards will collect €78 billion, and even the Greeks will pocket €23 billion.” And what will she get? Less than nothing. Because her government is already in fiscal consolidation mode, trying to return its budget to a small surplus by 2021, she can expect only stagnant wages and more austerity for her local hospitals, schools, roads, and other infrastructure.1 While she may well feel compassion to the Italians and Spaniards, who lost so many people to COVID-19, she will never accept repeating this exercise in debt mutualization on behalf of southern or East Europeans. The solidarity of German workers, toward whom no one shows any solidarity, has its limits – as it should.

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Aug 082020
 


Alfred Palmer Annette del Sur in salvage campaign, Douglas Aircraft Co., Long Beach, CA 1942

 

55% Of COVID Patients Still Have Neurological Problems 3 Months Later (MW)
US Intel: China Opposes Trump Reelection; Russia Works Against Biden (NPR)
US Officials Now Worry About Election Logistics More Than Hacking (R.)
Trump Tees Up Executive Orders On Economy But Won’t Sign Yet (Hill)
Can An Airline Put You On A No-Fly List For Refusing To Mask Up? (NPR)
The WeChat Ban (China Collection)
China Allows First Commercial Bank To Go Bankrupt (Xinhua)
Democratic Convention Lineup To Include AOC, Clinton, Warren (Hill)
Dems VP Candidate Susan Rice Made a Lot of Money in Fossil Fuels (Jacobin)
Billionaires That Donated to Gates-Buffet Pledge Now Richer Than Ever (MPN)
Things Going By (Jim Kunstler)
Your Bones Are Made Out of Exploded Stars (Fut.)
Dow Skyrockets After Coronavirus Begins Trading On NYSE (Onion)

 

 

US “intelligence” is at it again. Russia, China, Iran are all spying, but they take care of us. Now fork over more money for your security. Has there ever been a bigger scam in history?

 

 

Can we get those numbers down please?! All of them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first I thought this was a parody account.

Adam, we’re stil waiting for all the evidence you said you had time and again of collusion. Why not show us that and then after maybe open your mouth again. It’s to do with credibility.

 

 

What happens when a large segment of them have this for life? What are the costs to them, to society, and to the health care system?

55% Of COVID Patients Still Have Neurological Problems 3 Months Later (MW)

Could the coronavirus lead to chronic illness? While lung scarring, heart and kidney damage may result from COVID-19, doctors and researchers are starting to clock the potential long-term impact of the virus on the brain also. Younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy are suffering blood clots and strokes. And many “long-haulers,” or COVID-19 patients who have continued showing symptoms for months after the initial infection passed, report neurological problems such as confusion and difficulty concentrating (or brain fog), as well as headaches, extreme fatigue, mood changes, insomnia and loss of taste and/or smell.= Indeed, the CDC recently warned that it takes longer to recover from COVID-19 than the 10- to 14-day quarantine window that has been touted throughout the pandemic.

In fact, one in five young adults under 34 was not back to their usual health up to three weeks after testing positive. And 35% of surveyed U.S. adults overall had not returned to their normal state of health when interviewed two to three weeks after testing. Now a study of 60 COVID-19 patients published in Lancet this week finds that 55% of them were still displaying such neurological symptoms during follow-up visits three months later. And when doctors compared brain scans of these 60 COVID patients with those of a control group who had not been infected, they found that the brains of the COVID patients showed structural changes that correlated with memory loss and smell loss.

And that’s not exclusive to adults. A case study published in JAMA Neurology in June highlighted four U.K. children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a severe and potentially fatal condition that appears to be linked to COVID-19. These children developed neurological manifestations such as headaches, muscle weakness, confusion and disorientation. While two of the kids recovered, the other two continued to show symptoms, including muscle weakness so severe that they needed a wheelchair.

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The US pays huge salaries to its various intelligence agencies so they can make up stories from whole cloth that can then be used to argue that we must spend more money on intelligence.

This is so incredibly vapid it’s hard to see why people don’t tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

“2020 will be the most protected and most secure election in modern history…” Yeah, just not from you…

US Intel: China Opposes Trump Reelection; Russia Works Against Biden (NPR)

The top counterintelligence official in the U.S. government warned Friday of ongoing interference and influence efforts by China, Russia and Iran. William Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that the U.S. government has assessed that China prefers President Trump losing the election, because Beijing considers him “unpredictable,” while Russia is working to undermine Democrat Joe Biden. “Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said.

In discussing tactics, Evanina noted that the countries could try to compromise election equipment either to affect results or give the illusion of tampered results, but he did not say that such activities have been observed. China has grown more aggressive in recent months, criticizing the U.S. response to the coronavirus, although Evanina noted that Beijing continues to weigh the “risks and benefits of aggressive action” when it comes to influencing the election. Russia, however, has been observed using a number of tactics, including spreading propaganda on social media and Russian television, to denigrate Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee.

Iran also seeks to spread disinformation online, with the intent to undermine U.S. institutions and Trump, and to divide the country ahead of the election, according to Evanina. The statement did not refer to any specific cyberattack attempts on the part of any of the three countries in the style of Russia in 2016. And Evanina noted that it would be difficult, due to the disparate nature of America’s election infrastructure, to affect vote tallying at scale. Similarly, Chris Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official, said in a speech this week that his team had seen “nothing at the directed, focused level of 2016.” The year “2020 will be the most protected and most secure election in modern history,” Krebs said.

In a joint statement, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who leads the House Intelligence Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the disclosure was a good step toward more transparency, but they expressed frustration at how Evanina lumped the countries’ actions together. Instead, the lawmakers said, intelligence officials should share more specific information to “allow voters to appraise for themselves the respective threats posed by these foreign actors, and distinguish these actors’ different and unequal aims, current actions, and capabilities.” “Unfortunately, today’s statement still treats three actors of differing intent and capability as equal threats to our democratic elections,” the lawmakers said.

In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the president’s reelection campaign, said: “We don’t need or want foreign interference, and President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square.” In a separate statement, Tony Blinken, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, said: “Joe Biden … has led the fight against foreign interference for years, and has refused to accept any foreign materials intended to help him in this election — something that Donald Trump and his campaign have repeatedly failed to do.”

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More pushing for mail-in ballots.

US Officials Now Worry About Election Logistics More Than Hacking (R.)

In a reversal from a few years ago, many officials who oversee U.S. election technology and outside security experts now worry less about hacking in the November elections than about misinformation and logistics such as a shortage of poll workers and slowdowns at the U.S. postal service. Though most computerized voting systems can be hacked, some undetectably, more states have moved away from paperless balloting and more vendors are listening to warnings about software flaws, longtime specialists told the annual Black Hat and Def Con security conferences this week. “We finally know how to do this well,” Georgetown University professor Matt Blaze said in a keynote at Black Hat, held online this year because of the pandemic.

In addition, the sheer number of jurisdictions and varied versions of software would make fraud with a national impact impractical, officials said. On Friday, the U.S. head of counterintelligence, William Evanina, said publicly that while Russia, China and Iran might all act to interfere in the election, substantial vote changes were a low risk. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee, said at Def Con he remained concerned about electronic pollbooks that could malfunction and internet voting by armed forces overseas. But Blaze and others said they were mainly worried that many localities do not have enough funding for election-day workers to handle in-person votes under pandemic conditions, with possible protests and disruptions, at the same time as they plan for a record number of mailed ballots.

Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said people should vote as early as possible and prepare for delayed election results. Any delay is likely to be fertile ground for misinformation both foreign and domestic, others warned. A Def Con panel including Kimber Dowsett, director of security engineering at Truss, said instead of flagging new voting machine flaws to an already cynical public, researchers should talk to Krebs’ agency and the vendors and hope for the best.

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There will be no agreement.

Trump Tees Up Executive Orders On Economy But Won’t Sign Yet (Hill)

President Trump said Friday that he is prepared to act unilaterally to reinstate expanded unemployment benefits and suspend the payroll tax due to the coronavirus, but signaled he wouldn’t do so immediately. Trump told reporters that his administration is working “in good faith” to reach an agreement on the next stimulus package with Democratic leaders, before lambasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for seeking funding for states and cities that he said have been mismanaged by Democratic politicians. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” Trump said during a hastily scheduled news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Friday evening.


Trump said he is prepared to take four actions without Congress: defer the payroll tax until the end of the year; enhance unemployment benefits until the end of the year; defer student loan payments and forgive interest indefinitely; and reinstate a federal moratorium on evictions. Asked for a timeline, Trump said he could act as soon as the end of the week. The president also insisted he has the legal authority to take the actions unilaterally, despite doubts about his ability to do so. Trump also acknowledged that the moves were likely to invite legal challenges. “You always get sued,” Trump said. “We’ll probably get sued.”

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Yes, they’re private companies. You buy a ticket under their conditions.

Can An Airline Put You On A No-Fly List For Refusing To Mask Up? (NPR)

Early this week, Delta Air Lines made news after a plane headed to Atlanta circled back to its gate in Detroit, delaying takeoff. The crew was returning to expel two passengers who had been unwilling to follow a new but quintessential coronavirus rule. They had refused to don masks. That transgression is the latest addition to a bevy of infractions that can get you booted from an aircraft — even before contagion racked our world. Those no-nos vary wildly in severity and how often they’re enforced, but the theoretical gamut is wide: from a joke about, say, hijacking, to smoking a cigarette … all the way to more serious acts like transporting illegal contraband like guns or drugs.

[..] When it comes to the new rules for the novel coronavirus, airlines like Delta are taking them very seriously. So far, the carrier has banned 100 anti-maskers from taking their flights and gone a step further by adding them to a “no fly” list. Delta says its strict policies about masking are part of an effort to promote best public health practices and safety amid the pandemic. In a statement provided to NPR, Delta wrote: “Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate.” The airline “remains committed to requiring customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering as a consistent layer of protection across all Delta touchpoints.”

And it’s not just Delta. All major U.S. airlines now require passengers to wear face coverings — a dramatic change to plane etiquette. Children under age 2 and slightly older children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the requirement on Delta and other airlines. Adults are generally permitted to remove a mask only when eating or drinking, though policy varies. Though the scientific consensus is clear and strong that masks are critical in stemming the spread of the virus, some consumers feel aggrieved by what they consider an attack on personal freedom. But according to aviation, health and legal experts, such outrage ignores a few fundamentals: In entering into agreements (read: contracts) with airline carriers (by purchasing a ticket), you’re required to adhere to their policies. And that pretty much ends the matter.

In other words, Delta’s no-fly list is perfectly within its scope of rights, experts stress. The legal reasoning is pretty straightforward, says Sharona Hoffman, co-director of Case Western Reserve University’s Law-Medicine Center. She puts it simply: “They’re a private business, and private businesses can have rules.”

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What I said yesterday, but in more words.

The WeChat Ban (China Collection)

The ban on WeChat will not cut people in the US off from their friends and family in China. They communicated before WeChat existed and will continue to do so if it’s banned. There are many quite serviceable alternatives. And who exactly is bigger in the banning business, anyway? I’m seeing a lot of what seem to me to be overwrought reactions to the WeChat ban on my Twitter feed. For example, when the ban was first mooted by Pompeo, Stuart Lau of the South China Morning Post tweeted that if it went through, “countless Chinese people who live in the US could be cut off from their friends and families in China, where WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is banned.” Two points:

First, can we please remember that before WeChat existed, people somehow managed to communicate between the US and China, and it wasn’t difficult? At this very moment, there are a number of ways that it can be done: telephone calls, text messages, email, WhatsApp, Signal, and let’s not forget QQ, another TenCent app that does basically everything WeChat does in terms of communication, and used to be widely used in China before it was supplanted by WeChat. So before you tell me that people won’t be able to communicate with friends and family in China any more, you need to explain (a) why what they did before WeChat won’t work any more, and (b) why none of the communications methods I’ve mentioned above won’t work any more. I get that WeChat has many convenient functions and a great interface that people like. That’s why it’s been so successful. But come on, people: the idea that banning it cuts off communication between people in the US and China is silly.

Second, let’s suppose for the sake of argument (but only for the sake of argument) that banning WeChat did indeed seriously impinge on the ability of people to communicate between the US and China. Where does the fault lie, causally speaking? To figure that out we need to ask why alternatives are not available, and who is responsible for that. Two alternatives are (as the Stuart Lau post notes) Whats App and Facebook Messenger. There is also Line, a communications app that is widely used in Japan and Taiwan, with over 700 million users worldwide by 2017, according to the Wikipedia entry. But they are all banned in China. So it is a bit hard to say that it is the ban on WeChat that is making communications difficult. The Chinese government is the one that is actively in the banning business, and they’ve got a big head start on the Trump administration.

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Amidst the first (re-appearing) rumors of dollar shortages in the country.

China Allows First Commercial Bank To Go Bankrupt (Xinhua)

China’s central bank has announced that the disposal of risks concerning the troubled Baoshang Bank will be completed soon, and the bank will file for bankruptcy. Equity and unsecured claims from its original shareholders will be liquidated by law, according to a report released by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Thursday. The PBOC and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission took over the Inner Mongolia-based commercial bank in May last year due to its “serious credit risks.”


With capital from deposit insurance funds and the PBOC, principal and interest on personal savings deposits, and those of most institutional creditors, are guaranteed the full amount, while large corporate deposits are guaranteed an average level of 90 percent, the report said. After the takeover, the PBOC arranged for 23.5 billion yuan (about 3.39 billion U.S. dollars) in a standing lending facility (SLF) quota for Baoshang Bank on the premise of enough high-quality collateral.

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Apart from AOC, it’s the same old same old crowd that lost bigly in 2016. Most of them are way past retirement age in any other job. But the lust for power is eternal.

And who do you think they’re going to talk about most?

Democratic Convention Lineup To Include AOC, Clinton, Warren (Hill)

The speaking lineup for this month’s Democratic National Convention is beginning to take form, with several high-profile Democrats securing spots. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a progressive superstar, is expected to have some sort of speaking slot, a House member told Politico, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will also speak, according to Axios. Warren and Clinton are reportedly slated to speak on Aug. 19, the day before former Vice President Joe Biden will formally accept the 2020 Democratic nomination. Other Democrats expected to have speaking slots are Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Barack and Michelle Obama.


Both Warren and Harris are known to be on Biden’s shortlist to be his running mate. Neither the Democratic National Committee nor the convention immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill. The convention has largely been relegated to digital events so participants can observe social distancing and other health guidance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Biden was originally slated to deliver his acceptance speech from Milwaukee, but will now do so virtually from Delaware, his home state.

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Just another multi-millionaire who raked in fortunes while providing “public service”.

Dems VP Candidate Susan Rice Made a Lot of Money in Fossil Fuels (Jacobin)

Former national security adviser Susan Rice, reportedly one of two finalists in Joe Biden’s vice presidential search, had millions invested in fossil fuels and energy companies as recently as 2015. The revelations come as Biden has faced renewed questions about his commitment to environmental policies that would combat climate change. A financial disclosure form obtained by Too Much Information reveals that Rice had investments in at least five such companies, including as much as $100,000 in TransCanada, which is behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Rice also had over $1 million invested in pipeline firm Enbridge as well as more than $2 million split between fossil fuel companies Cenovus, Encana, and Imperial Oil — all companies with significant involvement in developing the tar sands of Alberta.

The investments netted as much as $237,000 in dividends that year. In addition, Rice reported significant holdings in Canadian banks which fund pipeline projects, according to the disclosure. A veteran of multiple Democratic administrations, Rice has a traditionally impressive resume on paper. She worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. before serving as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Bill Clinton, UN ambassador under Barack Obama, and national security adviser. But her record has made her a controversial candidate for VP. Pledged delegates for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have urged Biden to avoid naming her to the ticket, and have also urged him to remove a number of other foreign policy hawks from his team. Among other things, the delegates cited her past support for military intervention in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

On Friday, environmental advocates criticized Rice’s past fossil fuel investments in a Politico report. In 2012, when Rice was a candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, environmentalists took aim at her for the holdings, even circulating a petition urging Obama not to select her. Even then, Rice, whose net worth with her husband was estimated to be between $23.5 million and $43.5 million, had significant investments in Canadian energy interests, including as much as $600,000 in TransCanada. She also owned stock in Enbridge, Encana, Cenovus, and Suncor, along with other fossil fuel companies like Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, Royal Dutch Shell, Iberdrola, ATP Oil & Gas Corp., and energy utility TransAlta. Rice would hardly be the first person with fossil fuel ties that Biden has brought onboard this cycle. Biden’s climate adviser, Heather Zichal, previously served on the board of a natural gas company, Cheniere Energy.

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Have you ever trusted a billionaire? They only get so rich by wanting ever more money. That doesn’t stop all of a sudden.

Billionaires That Donated to Gates-Buffet Pledge Now Richer Than Ever (MPN)

A study released by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) through its Program on Inequality and the Common Good, titled “Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy” examines the reality behind the ostensible charitableness of the billionaire donor class and the disturbing trend of charitable organizations and foundations relying more and more on fewer and fewer wealthy donors; funds which “end up in family foundations and donor-advised funds that could legally exist in perpetuity,” while donations from lower and middle-income sources are disappearing. In particular, the paper looks at The Giving Pledge initiative started in 2010 by a few dozen U.S. billionaires and led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.


The professed goal of the initiative was to have the wealthiest people in the world pledge to give at least half of their fortunes away to charitable causes before their death. The study found that contrary to the stated purpose of the philanthropic commitment of the organization, a full 75 percent of participants have actually increased their net worth in the ten years since they made their charitable vow. More concerning is the finding that a growing share of “high-end” donations never ends up in organizations that do any kind of altruistic work. Rather, they go to tax-privileged private foundations designed to serve as tax shelters for the very wealthy, which then only disburse a small percentage of their assets to charitable non-profits; a particularly galling fact considering how much more wealthy the one-percenters have gotten over the course of the pandemic in contrast to the 54 million Americans who’ve filed for unemployment in that same span of time.

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“[..] who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free?

Localize!

Things Going By (Jim Kunstler)

Higher education committed suicide with its dual racketeering model. First was the college loan racket, in which schools colluded with the federal government to jam too many “customers” through the pipeline who didn’t belong there, and who buried themselves under a lifetime debt obligation they could never escape. The second was the intellectual racket of creating sham fields of study that contaminated all the other “humanities” with poisonous bullshit theory, and eventually even invaded the STEM disciplines. Covid-19 screwed the pooch on all that, scotching the four-year party-hearty in-residence part of the deal. For now, who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free? Hundreds of colleges and universities will be going out of business in the years ahead.

The outlook for the big centralized high schools is also pretty dark. The teachers’ unions’ insatiable needs are only part of the picture. Consolidating many smaller schools to save on administrative costs seemed like a good idea at the time. But we ended up with thousands of gigantic schools that looked like insecticide factories and felt like minimum security prisons. They all depend on the costly yellow bus fleets to collect the kids from far and wide. The whole scheme ended up as an elaborate day-care operation that actually retarded the development of young people into functional, autonomous adults.

Covid-19 and the economic collapse it triggered will put an end to all that. How will the school districts cope with an epic loss of tax revenue from all the homeowners defaulting on their mortgages? They won’t. Schooling will have to reorganize, and probably at a very grassroots level, with home-schools evolving into neighbor-pods of tiny schools, and only among parents who have the literacy and numeracy to pull it off. We’ll be lucky if, years from now, we’ll see something like local academies spring up that can handle a few hundred students. I’d also warn you about assuming that the Internet is a permanent installation of the human condition. It depends utterly on a pretty fragile electric grid. We do, after all, have libraries, and maybe they can be persuaded to stop trying to get rid of all their books.

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Didn’t we already know we’re stardust? That some of it is calcium makes a lot of sense.

Your Bones Are Made Out of Exploded Stars (Fut.)

According to new research, half the calcium in our universe came from “calcium-rich supernova.” That means the stuff our teeth and bones is made from is, essentially, the remains of dead stars that blew up a long, long time ago. “These events are so few in number that we have never known what produced calcium-rich supernova,” said Wynn Jacobson-Galan, Northwestern graduate student and lead author of the new study published in The Astrophysical Journal this week, in a statement. “By observing what this star did in its final month before it reached its critical, tumultuous end, we peered into a place previously unexplored, opening new avenues of study within transient science,” Jacobson-Galan added.

An extremely bright event some 55 million light years from Earth grabbed the attention of the international astronomy community in April 2019. “Every single country with a prominent telescope turned to look at this object,” Jacobson-Galan recalled. Astronomers were so quick that many observed the supernova just ten hours after the explosion. “The explosion is trying to cool down,” Raffaella Margutti from Northwestern University and a senior author of the study, explained in the statement. “It wants to give away its energy, and calcium emission is an efficient way to do that.” As it turns out the explosion spewed out an immense amount of calcium. “It wasn’t just calcium rich,” Margutti said. “It was the richest of the rich.”

They caught the event just in time to conclude that it was the most calcium to have ever been observed to be emitted from just a single event. “The luminosity tells us how much material the star shed and how close that material was to the star,” Jacobson-Galan explained. “In this case, the star lost a very small amount of material right before it exploded. That material was still nearby.”

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“This is an unusually strong stock, and we are predicting it will see at least six months of straight gains, probably more.”

Dow Skyrockets After Coronavirus Begins Trading On NY Stock Exchange (Onion)

With investors highly bullish about the long-term prospects of the respiratory virus, market reports confirmed Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed nearly 400 points after the novel coronavirus began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. “Following its initial public offering, this coronavirus has become the hot new thing on Wall Street, and you can bet everyone will be getting a piece of it soon if they haven’t already,” said Darya Abbas, an analyst at Zacks Investment Research, observing that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is listed under the ticker symbol COV, traded at incredibly high volumes throughout the day. “This is an unusually strong stock, and we are predicting it will see at least six months of straight gains, probably more. Not since the original SARS in 2003 have we seen an airborne pathogen with such massive growth potential.” At press time, the coronavirus was reportedly in talks to take part in a major merger with Johnson & Johnson.

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Speed reading

 

 

 

 

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Aug 072020
 


W.H. Bartlett and J. Appleton The port of Beirut 1838

 

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)
UK Shoppers Steer Clear Of High Streets Despite Lockdown Lifting (G.)
US State Dept: Russia Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Online (JTN)
Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat (F.)
Tencent Stock Plummets After Trump Announces Plan To Ban WeChat (CNN)
TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)
Think ‘Sanctions’ Will Trouble China? You’re Stuck In The Past (Ai Weiwei)
NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James
Judge Calls For Assange Testimony In Fox News Civil Suit Over Seth Rich (JTN)
Almost Half Of UK Charities For World’s Poorest Set To Close In A Year (G.)
Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses (R.)

 

 

Johns Hopkins reports over 2,000 US deaths in 24 hrs for the first time in 3 months. Worldometer says 1,203.

The US passed 5 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomiki DNC funds

 

 

New England Complex Systems Institute means Yaneer Bar-Yam.

Making trying to save your economy more important than fighting COVID is set to backfire. Don’t flatten the curve, crush it. That so many countries have failed in that regard doesn’t just mean they will get second and third waves, more importantly it means their economies will be hurt more than they already are.

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)

It is often claimed that there is a trade-off between containing COVID-19 and minimizing disruption to the economy, and that eliminating COVID-19 (by which we mean getting to no community transmission—i.e. no cases from unknown sources) is too costly to be worthwhile. Here, we examine the validity of these claims.


We consider a space of policy action in which a country (or state) decreases its number of cases per day by reducing the reproductive number R below 1 for a duration of its choosing and then maintains thereafter a constant number of cases per day. The question is what is the right level at which to maintain this constant number of cases per day. The essential idea is that there are two strategies: 1) an elimination strategy in which R<1 is maintained until there is no more community transmission and after which the country reopens (save for targeted responses in specific locations to combat cases that are imported), and 2) a steady-state strategy, in which R<1 is maintained for some period of time but not long enough to eliminate community transmission and after which R=1 is maintained nationwide.

The elimination strategy requires a greater upfront cost, since R<1 is maintained for a longer duration, but requires lower costs thereafter since economic activity in the country can largely return to normal, with the exception of targeted measures in specific locations in the event of a second outbreak caused by an imported case. The steady-state strategy, on the other hand, requires the costly maintenance of R=1 nationwide in order for cases not to rise; if community transmission is not eliminated and R=1 is not maintained, a second wave will occur sooner or later, as has already occurred in many countries that have not yet chosen the elimination strategy. Because of the long time during which a country must maintain R=1 under the steady-state strategy, it is worthwhile even from a purely economic perspective for a country in almost all cases to instead choose the elimination strategy, despite its greater short-term costs.

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As reported numerous times, it’s not the lockdowns that hurt economies most, it’s people being afraid to get infected. Look at the Swedish GDP graph: no lockdown, but a huge fall.

UK Shoppers Steer Clear Of High Streets Despite Lockdown Lifting (G.)

Shoppers continued to stay away from UK high streets last month despite the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants following the lifting of lockdown measures. The number of visitors to UK retail destinations dropped by 39.4% in July compared with the same month a year ago, according to figures from Springboard, a data company that tracks footfall at consumer hotspots. Despite an improvement of almost a fifth from June, in the best month for visitor numbers since February, the figures suggest intense pressure remains for the high street as people continued to stay away from town and city centres amid the ongoing health risks from Covid-19.

Non-essential shops began reopening in England and Northern Ireland in mid-June, and in Wales and Scotland later that month. Hotels, pub and restaurants in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit in July, though customers were only allowed back inside Welsh pubs and cafes this week. With social distancing measures in place, consumers are now gradually returning to towns and city centres. However, Springboard said that during the first full month without tough lockdown measures, bricks and mortar destinations only managed to attract six out of every 10 people who visited last year.

The latest snapshot comes after growing numbers of big high street names announce a raft of shop closures and job losses, as retailers, pubs, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions face a sharp decline in income caused by the pandemic. Consumers are increasingly spending online, while a lack of tourists from overseas and office workers venturing into town and city centres has had an impact on visitor numbers. The figures precede the launch of the government’s eat out to help out restaurant discount scheme, which has led to a sharp rise in visitor numbers since the start of August. However, coronavirus infections are starting to increase in some parts of Britain, leading to local lockdowns and fuelling concern among consumers.

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Of course they do. And they’re stupid and ugly too, all 150 million of them.

But look on the bright side: at least they give both sides of America, who are ready to start shooting each other, that one elusive thing they can agree on.

US State Dept: Russia Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Online (JTN)

U.S. officials contend that Russia is employing an online operation – including the disseminating of conspiracy theories and disinformation – to create confusion about the coronavirus, according to a new State Department report. The report described a Russian-based misinformation cycle that peddles sensationalist information via U.S. social media conversations and proxy websites. The department found that the Kremlin has focused its most recent efforts on conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The sites appear as standard-seeming news outlets, but in reality are tied to the Kremlin and Russian state-funded media. State-funded media outlets in Russia often publish similar stories to the ones seen on these deceptive sites.


Furthermore, officials in China and Iran, in addition to Russia, often share the claims found on these sites on their social media feeds, the report found. The head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, Lea Gabrielle, told AP that what makes the Russian disinformation strategy effective is that “it’s difficult for the average person online to look at these sites and know the Russian affiliation.” Most of the sites examined by the State Department were directly connected to the Kremlin in one way or another. One site, Canadian-based Global Research, frequently publishes articles written by fabricated authors created by the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence service. A different site, NewsFront, is registered to the Russian government.

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Remember that Facebook, Google et al are banned in China.

Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat (F.)

President Trump signed a pair of executive orders on Thursday prohibiting Americans from doing business with Beijing-based ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, as well as transactions related to the app WeChat with its owner, the Chinese tech giant Tencent, beginning September 20, in an effort to bar the social media platforms from the U.S. due to national security concerns. Both orders are set to take effect in 45 days, though they will likely be challenged in court. Microsoft is in talks to purchase the operations of TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a deal that Trump says he would support after initially expressing disapproval, and the two sides are hoping to complete a deal by September 15, which is before the 45-day deadline (at least three other companies are also vying to purchase TikTok).


The Trump administration had been threatening such a move for weeks over national security concerns, and on Friday the president told reporters on Air Force One he would “ban” the video-sharing platform from the U.S. In the orders, the president accused the companies of providing the Chinese government with access to Americans’ data and personal information, “allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.” The White House also alleged that the Chinese government is monitoring WeChat messages to keep tabs on Chinese nationals in the U.S. WeChat, a messaging and payments app that has over a billion users, is one of the crown jewels for Tencent, which also has investments in American companies such as Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, and Reddit.

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Tencent is huge, it passed the $500 billion valuation back in 2018. WeChat has a billion users, all outside of China.

Tencent Stock Plummets After Trump Announces Plan To Ban WeChat (CNN)

Tencent stock plunged on Friday after US President Donald Trump moved to ban WeChat, a social media app owned by the Chinese tech giant. Shares in Tencent plummeted as much as 10% in Hong Kong, before paring back some of those losses — though the stock was still down nearly 6% in afternoon trade. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell 1.8%. The fall came after Trump issued executive orders that would ban WeChat and TikTok, the short-form video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, from operating in the United States in 45 days if they are not sold by their parent companies.

Trump had already said that he would ban TikTok if a deal for the app is not reached with an American company, but the inclusion of WeChat indicates that Washington is broadening its efforts to restrict some Chinese apps from operating in the United States. The moves to ban the apps represent an “unprecedented intervention by the US government in the consumer technology sector,” according to Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.It also marks the first time the government “has attempted to ban a software application running on millions of mobile phones” in the United States, Triolo wrote in a note on Friday.

A WeChat ban would be a blow to the Chinese diaspora, students and others in the United States who rely on the app to communicate with family, friends and business partners in China. WeChat is the overseas version of Tencent’s widely popular Chinese messaging app Weixin. The app provides a range of services, including instant messaging and the ability to send money to other users. According to the order, a ban would apply to “any transaction that is related to WeChat” made by any person or “any property” subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

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View from Japan.

TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)

Maybe it is a generational thing, but I don’t get TikTok. The social media app allows users to share brief (15-second) videos — as if I need more opportunities to shorten my attention span. I must be an outlier, though: It is one of the most popular apps of the last two years, with a reported 2 billion downloads, and has 10 million users in Japan, 110 million in the United States and 200 million in India (before it was banned in that country). That extraordinary growth has turned its parent, ByteDance, which acquired the app in 2017, into one of the world’s most valuable startup companies, with a value approximating $150 billion.

Its popularity reflects the creativity it nurtures — and a user’s ability to monetize his or her audience. Followers can send money to video creators they like: Tens of millions of dollars have been “gifted” in the U.S. alone in the last two years. [..] In theory, TikTok poses three distinct risks. The first is that the app is a Trojan horse that can surveil users. That theoretical concern became real a few months ago when researchers discovered that the app accessed users’ clipboards, which could expose sensitive data, including passwords. The company blamed anti-spam features in the software and quickly disabled them. Strike 1.

The second concern is one now raised with every piece of Chinese information technology, whether it’s hardware or software: Because the company is subject to Chinese law, Beijing can and will gain access to all user information it has. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that people should download the app only if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Again, researchers examined the app and concluded that TikTok’s data collection is consistent with that of similar applications. Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher, was cited in Wired magazine saying that “in context, TikTok appears to be pretty tame compared to other apps.”

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Ai Weiwei is a unique voice on China. “In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.“

Think ‘Sanctions’ Will Trouble China? You’re Stuck In The Past (Ai Weiwei)

The Trump administration has floated the idea of sanctioning Chinese officials and members of the Communist party of China. Before we ask whether this is a good idea, let’s ask how Sino-US relations got to this stage. The US cold war with the Soviet Union was over ideology, but today’s standoff with China is different. The Chinese state has no ideology, no religion, no moral agenda. It continues wearing socialist garb but only as a face-saving pretence. It has, in fact, become a state-capitalist dictatorship. What the world sees today is a contest between the US system of free-market capitalism and Chinese state capitalism. How should we read this chessboard?

The post-Mao dictatorship in China has lived by the principle of “repress at home and be open to the world”. It has imported knowhow from abroad. There are an estimated 360,000 Chinese students currently enrolled who have come through America’s open door. Over 40 years, at least a million have returned to China and fed their new technical knowledge into the existing authoritarian structures that have built the dictatorship. It might be the most momentous personnel transfer in history. [..] But did capitalist competition, that ravenous machine that can chew up anything, change China? The regime’s politics did not change a whit. What did change was the US, whose business leaders now approached the Chinese dictatorship with obsequious smiles.

Here, after all, was an exciting new business partner: master of a realm in which there were virtually no labour rights or health and safety regulations, no frustrating delays because of squabbles between political parties, no criticism from free media, and no danger of judgment by independent courts. For European and US companies doing manufacture for export, it was a dream come true. Money rained down on parts of China, it is true. But the price was to mortgage the country’s future. Society fell into a moral swamp, devoid of humanity and difficult to escape. Meanwhile, the west made their adjustments. They stopped talking about liberal values and gave a pass to the dictatorship, in which Deng Xiaoping’s advice of “don’t confront” and Jiang Zemin’s of “lie low and make big bucks” made fast economic growth possible.

[..] Are sanctions the way to go? A foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing recently remarked words to the effect that the US and China are so economically interlocked that they would amount to self-sanctions. The US, moreover, would be no match for China in its ability to endure suffering. And there he was correct: in dictatorships, sacrifices are not borne by the rulers. In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.” A few years later Mao had nuclear weapons and was not afraid of anyone.

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No love lost for the NRA here, but c’mon, less than three months before the elction, the Democrat DA for New York squeezes Deutsche to fork over Trump’s tax records and the Democrat AG of New York all of a sudden goes after the NRA?! Both cases couldn’t have waited a few months? And nobody mentions election tampering?

NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James

The National Rifle Association sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday — the same day she brought a case to break up the pro-gun group — claiming she has misused her office to go after the organization for political reasons. “There can be no doubt that the James’s actions against the NRA are motivated and substantially caused by her hostility toward the NRA’s political advocacy,” the Albany Federal court lawsuit alleges. James made a campaign promise to investigate the NRA’s legitimacy as a non-profit organization and carried that torch after she was elected for the AG post because she disagrees with its politics, the suit charges. James “maligned” the group “without a single shred of evidence, nor any sincere belief, that the NRA was violating the New York Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, or any other law,” the court documents allege.

Once in office, James began “to deliver on her campaign promises to retaliate against the NRA for constitutionally protected speech on issues that James opposes,” the court documents allege. The NRA alleges it was forewarned by former AG Eric Schneiderman about a possible investigation into the group, prompting the organization to undertake “a top-to-bottom compliance review of its operations and governance.” And now its “finances are more robust than ever, and it operates to a high standard of compliance” with the law, the court papers claim. This ruffled feathers with some connected to the NRA, who were “discontented with the principled path it had chosen” and it even prompted litigation against the NRA’s former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, the court papers charge.

And when James then launched her investigation of the NRA in April 2019, three months after taking office, the NRA says it cooperated, providing documents and testimony from employees. “Despite hopes that playing by the rules would procure a just outcome, the NRA has not been treated fairly by James’ office,” the suit says. “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech,” the lawsuit alleges. “This wrongful conduct threatens to destabilize the NRA and chill the speech of the NRA, its members, and other constituents.”

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What’s in it for #julianAssange?

Judge Calls For Assange Testimony In Fox News Civil Suit Over Seth Rich (JTN)

A U.S. federal judge has asked the U.K. to assist in facilitating the testimony of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a civil suit against Fox News brought by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said in a filing on Wednesday that Assange’s evidence “cannot be secured except by the intervention of the English courts,” and that such intervention “would serve to further the international interests of justice and judicial cooperation.” At issue is a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of Rich, who worked in the DNC’s voter expansion division. Rich was shot and killed in July 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what police suspect was a botched robbery.

Conspiracy theories following Rich’s murder alleged that he had been involved in the hacking and subsequent leaking of DNC emails prior to death. The emails were published in part by WikiLeaks. After Rich’s death, Fox News reported that he had had contact with Assange prior to his death. The cable news network subsequently retracted the article, claiming it had not been properly vetteed prior to publication. The following year, Rich’s parents brought suit against Fox over the article, claiming the network had perpetrated intentional infliction of emotional distress against them. Fox in turn has argued that, retraction notwithstanding, the article was not a “sham” as alleged by the plaintiffs.

In her request Wednesday, Netburn said that “evidence regarding the source of the leaked DNC emails and the communications (if any) between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks will be highly material to Fox’s contentions.” “Mr. Assange, as founder of WikiLeaks, is exceptionally suited to provide testimony that will be highly relevant to these issues,” Netburn wrote.

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The only charisties that will be left are the ones run like global corporations. With a CEO who makes $1 million a year and volunteers who do all the work. That’s bad news for the people who rely on them.

Almost Half Of UK Charities For World’s Poorest Set To Close In A Year (G.)

Nearly half of the UK’s small charities working with the world’s poorest people expect to close within the next 12 months due to lack of financial support, a survey has found. Despite most of them seeing a spike in demand for their services during Covid-19, 15% of the charities will be forced to shut their doors within the next six months, and 45% within a year, according to data from the Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN). The pandemic – predicted to force one in 10 UK charities into bankruptcy by the end of 2020 – has delivered a triple whammy to smaller overseas charities, according to SIDCN. British charities working abroad have not been eligible to apply for the UK government coronavirus community support fund, and many British funders have amended their giving criteria to donate to projects based solely in the UK.

The Department for International Development (DfID)’s merger with the Foreign Office and the subsequent £2.9bn cut to the 2020 overseas aid programme have left little room for small charities to function, said CEO Rita Chadha of the Small Charities Coalition, which supports more than 100 small NGOs. “There are over 10,000 small international charities with an income of under £1m in the UK,” said Chadha. “Their work rarely gets noticed beyond those that they directly work with, but their impact is huge. Helping young girls get an education, providing micro grants for businesses, and investing in clean drinking water is what makes us collectively safer and better. Covid-19 has proven we can no longer afford to think just local.”

[..] SIDCN, which surveyed 53 small charities/nonprofits working overseas with a maximum annual income of £1m, found that 72% had seen an increased demand for their services during the pandemic, with 57% having had to postpone programmes or projects. “The lack of any support for international charities has been debilitating,” one charity head told researchers. “We have had to close the office and cut staff and staff hours but the demands on our now-reduced team have only increased. The amount of funding for immediate partner Covid needs is paltry,”

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While you weren’t looking.

Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses (R.)

The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing more than 40% of its area in just two days at the end of July, researchers said on Thursday. The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of Ellesmere Island, in the sparsely populated northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. “Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” the Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter when it announced the loss on Sunday. “Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf.

The shelf’s area shrank by about 80 square kilometers. By comparison, the island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly 60 square kilometers. “This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” Copland said. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate for the last 30 years, due to a process known as Arctic amplification. But this year, temperatures in the polar region have been intense. The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in 40 years. Record heat and wildfires have scorched Siberian Russia.

Summer in the Canadian Arctic this year in particular has been 5 degrees Celsius above the 30-year average, Copland said. That has threatened smaller ice caps, which can melt quickly because they do not have the bulk that larger glaciers have to stay cold. As a glacier disappears, more bedrock is exposed, which then heats up and accelerates the melting process. “The very small ones, we’re losing them dramatically,” he said, citing researchers’ reviews of satellite imagery. “You feel like you’re on a sinking island chasing these features, and these are large features. It’s not as if it’s a little tiny patch of ice you find in your garden.”

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We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

Beirut August 2020.

 

 

Carl Sagan 1995

 

 

Let all souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

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.

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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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We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

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75 years ago today.

 

 

Obamagate

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 052020
 


Workmen next to the screws of the RMS Titanic at Belfast shipyard, 1911

 

Victoria Records Australia’s Worst Day Of COVID19- 15 Deaths, 725 New Cases (G.)
Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test (Harvard)
Big Pharma Giants GSK, Sanofi Get $2.1 Billion to Develop COVID Vaccine (MPN)
An Effective COVID Treatment the Media Continues to Besmirch (RCP)
Authors of Pro-HCQ Study Defend Their Work From Fauci Attack(BLP)
US Jobless Claims Rise To 1.43 Million, Crisis Total Tops 54 Million (NYP)
US Plans to Relocate Factories from Asia to Latin America (PPost)
New Guidelines Call For Fundamental Shift In Obesity Treatment (CTV)
Understanding The Gravity Of The Russia Hoax (Widburg)
Trump: DOJ Found ‘Breathtaking’ Evidence Of Wrongdoing In Russia Probe (JTN)
86% Of Americans Say Media Is Biased, To Blame For Political Division (Fed.)
Bias And Commercialism Is Killing MSM, Journalists Have Had Enough (RT)

 

 

Just the other day, I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series he did for CNN, in which he visited Beirut and called it his favorite city in the world, one which he kept coming back to whenever he could. Maybe it’s good that he can’t see anymore what happened yesterday.

 

 

Numbers look somewhat mixed. New cases are not too bad, but deaths up are sharply, let’s hope that’s because they weren’t reported over the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yaneer

 

 

Australia was doing fine. It no longer is.

Victoria Records Australia’s Worst Day Of COVID19- 15 Deaths, 725 New Cases (G.)

Wednesday marked Victoria’s most devastating day of Covid-19 cases and deaths, with a man in his 30s among 15 people who died overnight including many from aged care, and 725 new cases of the virus identified. Three men and a woman in their 70s, three women and a man in their 80s, and a woman in her 90s were among the deaths. Twelve deaths were linked to outbreaks in aged care. There are 538 Victorians in hospital, 42 of them in intensive care. The premier, Daniel Andrews, confirmed the man in his 30s – who is the youngest person to die from Covid-19 in Australia – was not a healthcare worker. There are currently more than 700 health workers with active cases of the virus. He said he could not provide further details about those who died without permission from families.


“Can I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathies to each of those families,” Andrews said on Wednesday. “This will be a terrible time and any and all support we can provide to you we will, and we are with you in this very difficult time.” The deputy chief health officer, Prof Allen Cheng, said when there was an outbreak in aged care, an assessment was made as to whether residents would be better off in hospital or aged care. But sending many patients to hospital could not continue indefinitely because “everything has a limit”. “The number of people in hospital has increased primarily but not only because of transfers from aged care and a lot of those transfers are not for clinical [reasons], not because they’re sick but because of infection control reasons,” Cheng said.

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Everyone tested everyday with a non-invasive less-sensitive testing method.

Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test (Harvard)

At the moment, the United States has no semblance of public-health testing” for the coronavirus, says Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at both Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. What does Mina—an expert in viral testing protocols—mean by that? Current tests for active infection with SARS-CoV-2 are highly sensitive—but most are given to suspected COVID-19 patients long after the infected person has stopped transmitting the virus to others. That means the results are virtually useless for public-health efforts to contain the raging pandemic. These PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which amplify viral RNA to detectable levels, are used by physicians, often in hospital settings, to help guide clinical care for individual patients. In general, members of the public have not had access to such tests outside clinical settings, but even if they did, would find them too expensive for frequent use.

Furthermore, such tests detect tiny fragments of viral RNA even after the patient has recovered. Mina says that means “the vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious.” In that sense, a positive result can be misleading, because the results can’t be relied on to guide the epidemiological efforts of public-health officials, which are focused on preventing transmission and controlling outbreaks: “The astounding realization is that all we’re doing with all of this testing is clogging up the testing infrastructure,” with results arriving a week or more after tests are administered, “and essentially finding people for whom we can’t even act because they are done transmitting.” In fact the testing backlog is so dire, and so “absolutely horrendously useless as system for public-health surveillance” that Mina believes the United States should at the very least throw away the millions and millions of samples that are waiting to be tested—and perhaps even halt the current testing regime and just start over.

“We need to change the whole script of what it means to test people,” he says. “In our country, we have always assumed that testing belongs in the clinical sphere, in the diagnostic sphere, and has to be run by laboratories or diagnosticians. The result is that we have a system for coronavirus testing…which is flailing, with raging outbreaks occurring.” What the country needs instead are rapid tests, widely deployed, so that infectious individuals can be readily self-identified and isolated, breaking the chain of transmission. To do that, Mina says, everyone must be tested, every couple of days, with $1, paper-based, at-home tests that are as easy to distribute and use as a pregnancy test: wake up in the morning, add saliva or nasal mucous to a tube of chemicals, wait 15 minutes, then dip a paper strip in the tube, and read the results.

Such tests are feasible—a tiny company called E25Bio, and another called Sherlock Biosciences (a startup spun out of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Broad Institute in 2019) can deliver such tests—but the they have not made it to the marketplace because their sensitivity is being compared to that of PCR. But Mina says that is beside the point. “Imagine you are a fire department,” he says, “and you want to make sure that you catch all the fires that are burning so you can put them out. You don’t want a test that’s going to detect every time somebody lights a match in their house—that would be crazy: you’d be driving everywhere and having absolutely no effect. You want a test that can detect every time somebody is walking the streets with a flame thrower.”

FOR PUBLIC-HEALTH PURPOSES, speed and frequency of testing are vastly more important than sensitivity: the best test would actually be less sensitive than a PCR test. As Mina explains, when a person first becomes infected, there will be an incubation period when no test will reveal the infection, because the viral loads are so low. About “three to five days later, the PCR test will turn positive, and once that happens the virus is reproducing exponentially in a very predictable fashion.” At that point, critically, “even if a rapid test is 1,000 times less sensitive than a PCR test,” Mina says, the virus is increasing so rapidly that the test “will probably turn positive within eight to 15 or 24 hours.

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First, you pay for the research; then you play for the product.

Big Pharma Giants GSK, Sanofi Get $2.1 Billion to Develop COVID Vaccine (MPN)

The Trump administration’s “Manhattan project” for a COVID-19 vaccine has topped its biggest award given only two weeks ago to Novavax, Inc with its latest grant of $2.1 billion to pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, and partner Sanofi Pasteur to “speed up clinical development and manufacturing” of its recombinant vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus. The deal clocks in at over $400 million more than the program’s previous investment of $1.6 billion earlier this month. Most of the GSK/Sanofi grant will be used for clinical trials and the rest to “scale-up and delivery” of 100 million vaccine doses destined for the U.S. population. The deal also offers the USG an option to buy a “supply of 500 million doses over the long term.”

This latest infusion of tax-payer money into Big Pharma’s hands by the Trump administration comes on the heels of the rumored failure of an early vaccine candidate. Moderna’s SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine has received nearly a billion in federal funds, but recent reports of the company’s CMO, Tal Zaks, selling almost all of his shares as the vaccine is set to begin late-stage trials have sparked speculation that the “pre-fusion stabilized Spike protein” vaccine is dead in the water. Neither Novavax or Moderna, however, have ever had a single product go to market despite years in the business. GSK and Sanofi, in contrast, have plenty. Sanofi produces an FDA-approved flu shot and GSK, producer of some of the most recognizable pharmaceutical brand names like Binaca and Paxil, also produced a flu vaccine for the H1N1 “bird flu” called Pandermix.

Nevertheless, the fact that these large pharmaceutical firms have had some market success doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of the safety of their vaccines. GSK’s Pandermix turned out to induce narcolepsy and after studies confirmed the association between the drug and the chronic sleeping disorder, it has not been used since.

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Sometimes I feel like an HCQ advocate. But I really only thought it was crazy to label it lethal after 200 million people had been given chloroquine over 65 years without even a hint of mortality risks.

An Effective COVID Treatment the Media Continues to Besmirch (RCP)

On Friday, July 31, in a column ostensibly dealing with health care “misinformation,” Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan opened by lambasting “fringe doctors spouting dangerous falsehoods about hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 wonder cure.” Actually, it was Sullivan who was spouting dangerous falsehoods about this drug, something the Washington Post and much of the rest of the media have been doing for months. On May 15, the Post offered a stark warning to any Americans who may have taken hope in a possible therapy for COVID-19. In the newspaper’s telling, there was nothing unambiguous about the science — or the politics — of hydroxychloroquine: “Drug promoted by Trump as coronavirus game-changer increasingly linked to deaths,” blared the headline.

Written by three Post staff writers, the story asserted that the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 is scant and that the drug is inherently unsafe. This claim is nonsense. Biased against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 — and the Washington Post is hardly alone — the paper described an April 21, 2020, drug study on U.S. Veterans Affairs patients hospitalized with the illness. It found a high death rate in patients taking the drug hydroxychloroquine. But this was a flawed study with a small sample, the main flaw being that the drug was given to the sickest patients who were already dying because of their age and severe pre-existing conditions. This study was quickly debunked. It had been posted on a non-peer-reviewed medical archive that specifically warns that studies posted on its website should not be reported in the media as established information.

Yet, the Post and countless other news outlets did just the opposite, making repeated claims that hydroxychloroquine was ineffective and caused serious cardiac problems. Nowhere was there any mention of the fact that COVID-19 damages the heart during infection, sometimes causing irregular and sometimes fatal heart rhythms in patients not taking the drug. To a media unrelentingly hostile to Donald Trump, this meant that the president could be portrayed as recklessly promoting the use of a “dangerous” drug. Ignoring the refutation of the VA study in its May 15 article, the Washington Post cited a Brazil study published on April 24 in which a COVID trial using chloroquine (a related but different drug than hydroxychloroquine) was stopped because 11 patients treated with it died. The reporters never mentioned another problem with that study: The Brazilian doctors were giving their patients lethal cumulative doses of the drug.

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Time to lose Fauci. But he’ll stay.

Authors of Pro-HCQ Study Defend Their Work From Fauci Attack(BLP)

The doctors responsible for a controversial pro-hydroxychloroquine study are defending their work after it was attacked by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci at a recent Congressional hearing. Drs. Adnan Munkarah and Steven Kalkanis wrote in an open letter that “a whole scientific field exists in which scientists examine how a drug is working in the real world to get as best an answer as they can as soon as possible,” which Dr. Fauci did not acknowledge in his complete dismissal of their work. Munkarah works as the chief clinical officer of the Henry Ford Health System while Kalkanis works as the chief academic officer for the system. They are standing by their findings and refusing to buckle under the political pressure.

“Our promising Henry Ford treatment study should be considered as another important contribution to the other studies of hydroxychloroquine that describes what the authors found in our patient population,” Munkarah and Kalkanis wrote. “We — along with all doctors and scientists — eagerly support the need for randomized clinical trials.” “Unfortunately, the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible, and we are deeply saddened by this turn of events,” they wrote, noting they they believe that the science should “speak for itself.” “To that end, we have made the heartfelt decision to have no further comment about this outside the medical community,” the doctors said.

Munkarah and Kalkanis call for more research to take place but believe that their findings could save lives and should not be discounted. “As an early hot spot for the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen and lived its devastating effects alongside our patients and families,” Munkarah and Kalkanis wrote. “Furthermore, it is not unusual that results from such studies vary in different populations and at different times, and no one study can ever be considered all by itself,” they added. Big League Politics reported on how Dr. Fauci disregarded the Henry Ford Health System study, which appeared in a scholarly journal, because it wasn’t approved by the federal Big Pharma cartel. “We know from another study (corticosteroids) gives benefit in reducing deaths with advanced disease,” Fauci said during a House subcommittee hearing on Friday.

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It’s going to take a long time. Meanwhile, the economy must keep going. Nobody has a plan for that other than return to a time we can’t go back to.

US Jobless Claims Rise To 1.43 Million, Crisis Total Tops 54 Million (NYP)

Some 1.43 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, pushing the number of initial jobless claims filed during the coronavirus pandemic above 54 million, new data show. Last week marked the second consecutive week with an increase in new jobless filings, a further indication that the economic recovery from the pandemic is faltering. “Jobs are a key part to this recovery and this shows yet again how bumpy the recovery is going to be,” said Ryan Detrick, chief investment strategist at LPL Financial. The uptick came as surging coronavirus infections forced some states to renew lockdowns that led to massive layoffs in March and April, raising questions about how quickly the labor market can rebound from its worst collapse in a century.

New jobless claims have now remained above 1 million for 19 consecutive weeks, a level that would have been unprecedented before the pandemic caused a record spike in unemployment as government lockdown orders shuttered restaurants, theaters, hotels, and even some offices. At 54 million, the number of people who have filed for unemployment claims during the course of the pandemic is now greater than the population of South Korea, which boasts 51 million people — and has long since surpassed the 37 million jobs lost over 18 months during the Great Recession.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that Wal-Mart has laid off hundreds of workers in store planning, logistics, merchandising and real estate as part of a larger consolidation effort, while Reuters said Exxon Mobil Corp is gearing up for job cuts to preserve an 8-percent shareholder dividend in the face of a multi-billion-dollar quarterly loss to be reported Friday. Continuing claims, which measure sustained joblessness on a one-week lag, also climbed to about 17 million in the week ending July 18 after falling by more than 1 million the prior week, the US Department of Labor said.

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American jobs?!

US Plans to Relocate Factories from Asia to Latin America (PPost)

The campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” could soon go beyond the borders of the United States. The Trump administration has announced that it is preparing a financial incentive plan to encourage U.S. companies with factories in Asia to return to the Americas, including Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are essentially creating a ‘Back to the Americas’ initiative,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, the White House national security advisor for Latin America and an aspiring president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).


This project could generate investments ranging from 30 to 50 billion USD across the continent. Although Claver-Carone did not name any particular company, he said that talks had already begun, but the pandemic helped convince them that it was time to get on board. Infrastructure, energy, and transport could be the first potential focus areas for this initiative. In this way, the United States seeks to gain ground in Latin America, where China has been positioning itself since 2015 with large investments and loans of over 40 billion USD, according to the Inter-American Dialogue.

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Oh c’mon, weight loss pills… Start by banning high fructose corn syrup from your country. Then we can talk.

New Guidelines Call For Fundamental Shift In Obesity Treatment (CTV)

A new guideline to treat obesity in Canada recommends a fundamental shift in how doctors and physicians address people living with the condition. The new guideline, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and in partnership with Obesity Canada, suggests doctors begin focusing on goals that patients consider to be important, rather than focusing on weight loss alone, while also shifting away from the “diet and exercise” weight loss model to instead address the root causes of someone’s excessive weight. “We’re no longer going to be focusing on speaking about calories when we talk about decreasing weight,” Dr. Sean Wharton, co-lead author of the guideline and adjunct professor at McMaster University, said in an phone interview with CTVNews.ca.

“We’re going to more so focus on healthy eating, something we call medical nutrition therapy.” Wharton said simply cutting calories and increasing exercise is not a sustainable way to lose weight and can ultimately lead to the patient regaining the weight. “We know that willpower and motivation will allow for a dietary plan that lasts for a short period of time and then our body compensates and regains the weight,” he said. “Any time we look at lowering calories, we always activate a very strong biological compensatory mechanism, which is why we are doing our best to deemphasize diet.” In the past 30 years, the rate of obesity in Canada has tripled, while the rate of severe obesity has increased tothe point that it includes more than 1.9 million Canadians today.

When it comes to treating obesity, the new guidelines suggest expanding the options to include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), weight loss medication and bariatric surgery, depending on the each patient’s individual needs. Wharton calls these the “three pillars” of effective long-term weight loss. “Most people understand diet and exercise,” he said. “They don’t understand that the pillars that are necessary to keep the diet and the exercise going.” Cognitive therapy, Wharton said, is essentially teaching the patient to be more cognisant of what they’re eating, especially when it comes to snacking on impulse. One strategy is to wait five minutes before eating a desired snack, to make sure you still want it. “Some people can do that skill without even being taught that skill, but the majority of people have to be taught those skills and that’s where CBT treatment and psychological intervention is coming from,” Wharton said.

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How can people understand when their media completely ignores the story?

Understanding The Gravity Of The Russia Hoax (Widburg)

One of the claims Democrats love to tout about the Obama administration is that it was “scandal free.” For those who paid attention to the IRS targeting, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and the cash smuggled to Iran, to name just a few illegal and/or immoral activities, that was always a peculiar boast. The Obama administration was up to its eyeballs in scandals. It was Obama who finally said what had really happened, which was that “We didn’t have a scandal that embarrassed us.” In other words, the issue wasn’t that the administration was scandal-free. The issue was that the media protected the administration from voters’ wrath should they learn about those scandals.

The Russia Hoax has benefitted from the media’s continued unwillingness to report on Obama-era scandals. When it looked as if the Russia Hoax could achieve a coup against the Trump presidency, members of the press developed a form of Tourette syndrome that saw them obsessively mouth “Russia, Russia, Russia” all day, every day. However, when Robert Mueller’s handpicked Democrat-friendly team, despite two years and 35 million dollars, was unable to find a smidgen of proof that Trump or his administration had colluded with the Russians, leftists inside and outside of the media fell silent. Sure, they’ll still raise the fact that Trump, at a press conference, said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing,” but their hearts aren’t in it.

They know that normal people understand that Trump was making a pointed joke about the fact that the Russians, the Chinese, and every other hacker on earth had read through Hillary’s emails for years. Aside from leftists being utterly humorless, the media learned that raising this statement periodically was chum to the true believers but not very interesting to anyone else. When it came to burying the whole Russia Hoax, the Democrats and their media lackeys were helped by the fact that the story is so gosh-darned complicated. It involved dozens of people (some genuinely bad actors and some useful idiots), several countries, thousands of pages of cryptic papers, and a dizzying timeline. It’s hard to get people who aren’t political junkies excited about something like that, and even harder to arouse them to a sense of outrage over what the Obama administration did.

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It’ll be discarded by the media, if they even mention it, as politically driven.

Trump: DOJ Found ‘Breathtaking’ Evidence Of Wrongdoing In Russia Probe (JTN)

President Trump said Tuesday night that he believes the Justice Department has uncovered “breathtaking” evidence of misconduct during its investigation of the bungled Russia collusion probe, and he expect results to be released soon. “I caught them, we caught them spying, using the intelligence apparatus of our country to spy on an opponent or an opposing party’s campaign both before and after the election,” Trump said when asked during an interview with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs what he expects U.S. Attorney John Durham to have found during his investigation. Attorney General William Barr named Durham, a prosecutor from Connecticut, to be special prosecutor for reviewing the FBI and DOJ’s conduct in the Russia collusion fiasco.


Trump said he didn’t want to “get overly involved” in the Durham review but expects a dramatic conclusion to the investigation of the investigators. “I do hear it is breathtaking what they found. That’s all I can say, breathtaking. And hopefully it will come out soon. But it is beyond what anybody ever thought even possible,” the president said. Trump also addressed the state of relations with China since the coronavirus pandemic struck, saying Beijing’s failure to stop the virus before it reached U.S. shores has had “a negative impact.” “Well, it’s been very badly hurt by what happened because I really believed they could have stopped it in Wuhan,” the president said. “…It’s been such a horrible thing.”

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They understand. But then where do they get their news?

86% Of Americans Say Media Is Biased, To Blame For Political Division (Fed.)

Eighty-six percent of Americans believe there is “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of political bias in the way the media covers news, according to a Knight Foundation/Gallup poll released on Tuesday. The number of Americans that see bias in the media is up almost 25 percentage points from 62 percent in 2007. Almost half of Americans — 49 percent — now say there’s a great deal of political bias in news coverage. While Republicans are more likely to say there’s a “great deal” of bias and Democrats more often said there was a “fair amount,” large majorities of both political parties believed that some bias existed: 78 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans.


These numbers were collected from polling of more than 20,000 Americans between November and February, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd, and the resulting media coverage of both events. Not only do most Americans recognize media bias, they also believe it’s intentional. When asked about their views of news organizations they distrust, 79 percent of poll respondents said those outlets were “trying to persuade people to adopt a certain viewpoint.” When news is inaccurate, 54 percent of Americans think it’s because reporters are “misrepresenting the facts,” while 28 percent assume they’re “making them up entirely.” And more than 8 in 10 Americans — 84 percent — assign the media either a great deal (48 percent) or a moderate amount (36 percent) of blame for political division.

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Everything has turned into clickbait.

Bias And Commercialism Is Killing MSM, Journalists Have Had Enough (RT)

An MSNBC producer has quit the network, lamenting an editorial process that chases approval and ratings rather than presenting facts. When even employees label the MSM as a “cancer with no cure”, we should all be concerned. If you were to ask your mother who Ariana Pekary is, more than likely she’s not going to know unless she’s already met her. That’s because Ariana was a producer at MSNBC. Although she wasn’t someone who’d be in front of the camera, she is definitely someone who’s an expert on what goes on behind it. But now she’s left the TV network and, on her exit, wrote an extremely scathing letter about the nature of its programming. Although she described her colleagues as intelligent people with good intentions, she lamented the way the news has gone, blaming an overemphasis on the chase for ratings as opposed to straight reporting.

Specifically, she stated that it “forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.” And she went so far as to reference an unnamed colleague who described what they were doing as “a cancer with no cure”. Pekary also admitted that fringe voices are constantly given airtime because it boosts those ratings, even if those guests’ views are divisive and offer little in the way of solutions. And we’ve recently seen two other major figures cite similar problems within the news industry. On leaving the New York Times, Bari Weiss described a hostile work environment in which her colleagues would much rather ‘cancel’ her than allow her to express a different opinion. She even made the extraordinary claim that Twitter has become “the ultimate editor” of the New York Times. This would explain why so much of the Times’ content seems to cater for Twitter’s woke extremists.

Andrew Sullivan, formerly of New York Magazine, had a similar lament. He spoke of his endless frustration at the lack of diversity of thought: “If the mainstream media will not host a diversity of opinion, or puts the ‘moral clarity’ of some self-appointed saints before the goal of objectivity in reporting, if it treats writers as mere avatars for their race and gender or gender identity, rather than as unique individuals whose identity is largely irrelevant, then the non-mainstream needs to pick up the slack.”

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Aug 042020
 


Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, Brussels 1873

 

Yale Doctor Battles CNN Anchor Over Effectiveness Of HCQ (Fox)
COVID19 Survivors Show Increased Rate Of Psychiatric Disorders (G.)
New Heart Problems Seen In Recovered COVID-19 Patients (R.)
Italy Survey Suggests Coronavirus 6x More Prevalent Than Official Data (R.)
Mutation May Have Made Virus More Vulnerable To Vaccines (R.)
Less Than Third Of Canadians Willing To Travel Without COVID19 Vaccine (CBC)
Manhattan DA Probing Trump Over More Than ‘Hush-Money’ Payments (R.)
Trump Considering Executive Action To Suspend Evictions, Payroll Tax (Hill)
Trump Calls To ‘Re-Run’ New York House Race Over Discarded Mail-In Ballots (F.)
How White Radicals Hijacked Portland’s Protests (Tracey)
Debunking The Coup d’Trump (Turley)
‘The Money Story’ Told By A Father Of MMT (Kohler)
Papers Leaked Before UK Election In Suspected Russian Operation Were Hacked (R.)
A Glimpse Towards November (Kunstler)
Biden Says He Can’t Wait To Find Out Who He Picked For VP (Babylon Bee)

 

 

Some encouraging looking numbers. Cases and deaths decrease both globally and in the US. Europe doesn’t look so good, though, and neither does Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb – How to Handle a Pandemic

Yaneer COVID growth rates Europe Africa

 

 

1) I’ve noted before that the first HCQ criticism was all about you could die from it. That’s gone, now it’s merely ineffective. Why? What happened?

2) Dr. Risch says the studies look at the wrong people (low risk). Do we know, however, how HCQ is administered? Is it given to early onset patients, and combined with zinq?

3) Zelenko explains in great detail how he works, and why. But he’s completely ignored and shunned by corporate media. Doesn’t look like truth finding to me.

Yale Doctor Battles CNN Anchor Over Effectiveness Of Hydroxychloroquine (Fox)

Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch and CNN host John Berman bickered over hydroxychloroquine on Monday during a heated discussion about the polarizing drug, which the president has hailed as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Risch recently wrote an op-ed in support of hydroxychloroquine, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and other experts have dismissed the anti-malarial drug being used to combat coronavirus. Risch cited various studies that backed up his pro-hydroxychloroquine stance, but the host of CNN’s “New Day” disagreed. “None of those studies that you just cited are random placebo-controlled trials, what Dr. Fauci refers to as the gold standard,” Berman said, as the CNN on-screen chyron stated “Growing body of evidence shows hydroxychloroquine is ineffective.”

Risch responded: “That’s not actually correct. The problem with those randomized controlled trials, is they were trials done on the wrong people. They were trials done on low-risk people with low risks of hospitalization and mortality. You don’t do a study of prostate cancer with women… because nobody is gonna get the outcome.” Risch said the studies were conducted on “very low-risk people who are not going to get hospitalized or die” from coronavirus. “We don’t treat those people. We treat high-risk people,” Risch said. Berman then accused Risch of being inconsistent compared to the op-ed, but the Yale epidemiologist disagreed and the interview grew contentious.


“You’re misstating what I said, I said it had to be in high-risk people,” Risch said. “As I’ve said, you have to treat the right people. You have to study the right people. Those studies did not study the right people, period. That’s the bottom line.”

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55% of them.

COVID19 Survivors Show Increased Rate Of Psychiatric Disorders (G.)

More than half of people who received hospital treatment for Covid-19 were found to be suffering from a psychiatric disorder a month later, a study has found. Out of 402 patients monitored after being treated for the virus, 55% were found to have at least one psychiatric disorder, experts from San Raffaele hospital in Milan found. The results, based on clinical interviews and self-assessment questionnaires, showed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 28% of cases, depression in 31% and anxiety in 42%. Additionally, 40% of patients had insomnia and 20% had obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. The findings will increase concerns about the psychological effects of the virus.

The paper, published on Monday in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, says: “PTSD, major depression, and anxiety are all high-burden non-communicable conditions associated with years of life lived with disability. “Considering the alarming impact of Covid-19 infection on mental health, the current insights on inflammation in psychiatry, and the present observation of worse inflammation leading to worse depression, we recommend to assess psychopathology of Covid-19 survivors and to deepen research on inflammatory biomarkers, in order to diagnose and treat emergent psychiatric conditions.” The study of 265 men and 137 women found that women – who are less likely to die from Covid than men – suffered more than men psychologically.

Patients with positive previous psychiatric diagnoses suffered more than those without a history of psychiatric disorder. The researchers, led by Dr Mario Gennaro Mazza, said these results were consistent with previous epidemiological studies. They said psychiatric effects could be caused “by the immune response to the virus itself, or by psychological stressors such as social isolation, psychological impact of a novel severe and potentially fatal illness, concerns about infecting others, and stigma.” Outpatients showed increased anxiety and sleep disturbances, while – perhaps surprisingly – the duration of hospitalisation inversely correlated with symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and OC.

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“Among 100 patients ages 45 to 53, “a considerable majority” – 78 – had inflammation in the heart muscle and lining…”

New Heart Problems Seen In Recovered COVID-19 Patients (R.)

More than three-quarters of recently recovered COVID-19 patients had heart muscle problems show up during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, German doctors reported on Monday in JAMA Cardiology. In some patients, the heart may be “in serious trouble as a part of COVID-19 disease,” Dr. Valentina Puntmann of University Hospital Frankfurt told Reuters. Among 100 patients ages 45 to 53, “a considerable majority” – 78 – had inflammation in the heart muscle and lining. Sixty-seven had recovered at home while 33 had required hospitalization. Half of the former patients were more than two months out since their diagnosis at the time of the MRI.


Thirty-six patients reported ongoing shortness of breath and general exhaustion, and 71 had blood markers of heart muscle damage. Compared with similar people who had not had COVID-19, the recently recovered patients’ hearts pumped more weakly and displayed other risk factors for heart failure. Puntmann suspects the abnormalities are signs of permanent problems. “While we do not have direct evidence for late consequences yet, such as the development of heart failure … it is quite possible that in a few years, this burden will be enormous based on what we have learned from other viral conditions that similarly affect the heart,” she said.

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It’s still just 2.5% that have antibodies. Not 60%. Even in Lombardy no more than 7.5%.

Italy Survey Suggests Coronavirus 6x More Prevalent Than Official Data (R.)

Almost 1.5 million people in Italy or 2.5% of the population have developed coronavirus antibodies, a figure six times more than official numbers reported, according to a survey from statistics agency Istat on Monday. The survey by Istat and the health ministry, was based on antibody tests conducted on 64,660 people. Official figures show 248,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 patients in Italy, with 35,166 deaths. The survey found marked local differences with the northern region of Lombardy, where the epidemic first broke out in February, showing 7.5% of the population had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies compared to just 0.3% in the southern region of Sicily. The survey found almost 30% of people with antibodies were asymptomatic, pointing to the risk of the illness being spread by people unaware they were carriers.

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Easy to say when there is no vaccine.

Mutation May Have Made Virus More Vulnerable To Vaccines (R.)

A genetic mutation that made the new coronavirus more infectious may also make it more vulnerable to vaccines, researchers believe. The mutation, designated D614G, increases the number of “spikes” on the surface of the virus and makes them more stable, allowing the virus to more efficiently break into and infect cells. The mutation will not pose problems for vaccines now in clinical trials, however, because the extra spikes retain the targets for the “neutralizing antibodies” the vaccines are designed to induce.


Those targets, called receptor-binding domains, or RBDs, are the places where the spike attaches itself to the cells it infects. With more spikes, there are more RBDs for the antibodies to bind to in order to neutralize the virus. “The gain in infectivity provided by D614G came at the cost of making the virus more vulnerable to neutralizing antibodies,” the researchers wrote in a paper posted on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review.

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Tourism in Greece is at a very low level still. People stay home this year.

Less Than Third Of Canadians Willing To Travel Without COVID19 Vaccine (CBC)

Most Canadians and Americans aren’t rushing to travel anywhere, even within their own countries, before a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, according to a new online survey. Fewer than a third of Canadians are willing to take a flight anywhere right now whether it’s to another continent, to another province, or within their own province, according to the poll by Research Co., a Vancouver-based polling firm. Only 17 per cent of Canadian respondents were willing to take a plane to the United States. Thirty-five per cent of Americans say they are willing to take a flight within the U.S., but only 28 per cent would fly to Canada.


“The appetite for travel before a COVID-19 vaccine is readily available is low in Canada and the United States,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., in a written release. “North American residents aged 55 and over, who are usually ready to explore and spend, are particularly reticent about all journeys unless inoculation is a reality.” The online poll, conducted July 1-5, surveyed representative samples of 1,000 Canadians and 1,200 Americans. It asked them their willingness to travel by five different modes of transportation: by train, by plane, by bus, by cruise ship and by ferry.

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We couldn’t have too long a period without some public investigation against Trump, could we? Got to cover the entire 4+ years. Election tampering?

Manhattan DA Probing Trump Over More Than ‘Hush-Money’ Payments (R.)

Manhattan’s district attorney on Monday suggested a grand jury subpoena for U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax returns was part of an investigation of “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” including alleged insurance and bank fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance raised the scope of the probe in court papers filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday. He is seeking to dismiss Trump’s latest challenge to the subpoena for eight years of personal and corporate tax records. Asked about the investigation at a coronavirus press briefing on Monday, Trump repeated that he believed he is the victim of a political “witch hunt,” which he said was “Democrats’ stuff” and started “even before I got in” to office.

“There is nothing that I know even about it,” he added. Trump is scheduled to respond to Vance’s motion to dismiss by Aug. 10. In a court filing last week, Trump’s lawyers argued the subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in “bad faith.” Vance noted in the court papers that when the subpoena was issued last August, there were “public allegations of possible criminal activity” at the Trump Organization dating back a decade. He said public reports show a basis for each category and timeframe of documents sought from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. Trump’s argument that the subpoena is overbroad “rests on the false premise that the grand jury’s investigation is limited to so-called ‘hush-money’ payments made by Michael Cohen” on Trump’s behalf in 2016, Vance said.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign violations tied to the payments to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies. In a footnote to Monday’s filing, Vance cited media reports on Trump’s alleged role in the hush-money scheme and on the “unorthodox strategies” he used to expand his real estate empire.

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Do unemployment benefits too.

Trump Considering Executive Action To Suspend Evictions, Payroll Tax (Hill)

President Trump said Monday that he is considering taking executive action to halt evictions and suspend payroll tax collection as coronavirus relief talks see slow progress on Capitol Hill. “I could do that if I want, and I want to do that. I don’t want people to be evicted,” Trump told reporters at a press conference Monday evening when asked about his suggestion earlier in the day that he could act unilaterally to suspend evictions. Trump noted that individuals who are evicted often go to shelters, where the coronavirus can spread easily because of crowding. “They’re thrown out viciously. It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. It’s China’s fault,” Trump said, continuing to blame China, where the virus originated, for the pain inflicted on Americans.

Trump also asserted that he had unilateral authority to suspend the payroll tax. “I can do that also through executive order, so we’ll be talking about that,” Trump said. Trump’s admission came after conservatives Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Trump to declare a national economic emergency and to direct the IRS to suspend collection of payroll taxes. They argued that Trump could defer payroll tax payments using the same section of the tax code used by Treasury earlier this year to postpone the 2019 tax filing deadline until mid-July. The move would amount to a deferral, though the two argued that Trump could pledge to sign a bill in the future to forgive the repayments.

[..] Trump’s remarks make clear the White House is considering unilateral actions as the administration and Congress struggle to reach a consensus on the next coronavirus relief bill. Congress in March enacted a federal moratorium on evictions through the CARES Act, though that expired roughly a week ago. Expanded unemployment insurance benefits enacted under the same bill officially expired last week. The White House has pushed for both measures to be extended quickly in a short-term deal as negotiators hammer out the details of the relief package, but Democrats have resisted a short-term measure.

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Mail-in may run reasonably well in Colorado, but here’s your first mess.

Trump Calls To ‘Re-Run’ New York House Race Over Discarded Mail-In Ballots (F.)

At a White House press conference on Monday, President Trump called to “re-run” the Democratic primary in New York’s 12th Congressional District, a race in which one candidate has refused to concede citing a large number of discarded and unreceived mail-in ballots. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) led progressive challenger Suraj Patel by just 648 votes– or 1.6%–in the Manhattan and Queens district on election night, but expanded her lead to 4 points after mail-in ballots were finished being counted in late July. Patel has refused to concede, citing reports that 9,000 of the more than 47,000 mail-in ballots sent in were invalidated for a variety of reasons and that many voters didn’t receive their mail-in ballots in time for the election.


Trump has pointed to the district, which contains Trump Tower, as a prime example of the flaws of mail-in voting, against which he has waged a fierce campaign in recent months, telling reporters on Friday, “They’re never going to have the result of that election, never the correct result.” Trump doubled-down on his criticism of the 12th District’s primary on Monday, calling it a “total disaster” and saying “nobody knows what’s happening with the ballots and the lost ballots and the fraudulent ballots I guess.” “I think I can say right here and now you have to re-run that race, because it’s a mess,” Trump added. Ultimately it would be up to New York State, not the federal government, to decide whether to re-run a race–as was the case in North Carolina’s 9th district in 2019.

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Michael Tracey spent a lot of time on the ground.

How White Radicals Hijacked Portland’s Protests (Tracey)

The overwhelmingly white, anarchist activists who populate the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon should not be underestimated for their strategic savvy. In seizing the mantle of “Black Lives Matter”, they’ve discovered a work-around to arrogate moral cover for whatever insurrectionary upheaval they would have been ideologically committed to fomenting anyway. The Left/liberal political and media class is deeply invested in preserving the untouchable sanctity of “BLM”. So by fusing themselves in the public mind with this ambiguously-defined protest movement, or even putting themselves at the vanguard, the anarchist whites insulate themselves from the type of scrutiny that might ordinarily be prompted by activists whose ultimate goal is the overthrow of the state — and who are happy to engage in what they call “a diversity of tactics” (up to and including violence) to achieve this.

It makes for a bizarre dynamic, as Democratic Party pundits and politicians routinely describe avowed insurrectionists as nothing more than benign “peaceful protesters”. And since the protests came to be arrayed against the federal forces dispatched to Portland by Donald Trump, more conventional elements of the Left/liberal “Resistance” have made common cause with these revolutionary anarchists who regard the very essence of the US political system — not just Trump — as innately fascist and “white supremacist”. On a recent evening, for instance, an older white couple in a pair of matching “Resistance”-branded T-shirts could be spotted in attendance among the radical activists, as well as a man sporting the slogan “Ridin’ with Biden”.

To characterise what’s gone on in Portland as a traditional “protest” is a misnomer, however. Pay a visit to the area around the Federal Courthouse in Downtown after midnight and you are greeted by brigades of black-clad “Antifa” foot soldiers — geared up in full body armour, complete with industrial-grade gas masks, shields and even customised radio systems. Being overwhelmingly white, they are strategic about public presentation: the speakers appointed to address the nightly “rallies” are almost exclusively black, as “amplifying black voices” to whom whites must dutifully “listen” is a central tenet of the Summer 2020 protest ethos.

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Turley often tries to be overly correct.

Debunking The Coup d’Trump (Turley)

This week, American democracy either died or it didn’t, but you couldn’t tell from the news coverage. Some commentators and members of Congress warned that we are looking at “nothing less than a coup.” Others called for organized protests, proclaiming it is now clear that President Trump’s “anti-democratic intent was blood-chillingly real.” One leading academic called for Trump’s immediate impeachment as a fascist out to destroy our constitutional system. We have not seen such rhetoric since Aaron Burr tried to peel off the entire southwestern territory of the United States. The cause this time was an 11-word Twitter question from President Trump. Returning to his favorite subject of denouncing mail-in voting as a disaster in the making, he ended his July 30 tweet by asking, “Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?”

As I said at the time, the tweet was reckless and repugnant. However, cries of some Twitter-based coup d’état were equally unconnected to reality. I have written repeatedly about this conspiracy theory that Trump will never allow an election to occur in 2020, which has raged on liberal websites and cable news since soon after his inauguration. Trump does not have the authority to delay the election. Even if he could persuade Congress to change the date, with the implausible assistance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Constitution still stipulates that his term ends at noon on Jan. 20. In the interim, not only do citizens have to vote, but electors have to cast ballots in the Electoral College, and those votes must be certified and counted by Congress.

It is not much of a coup when you do not extend your time in office. It does not matter what Trump would like; it is what the Constitution will allow. A demand to delay the election has the same impact as Trump declaring he will change his name to “Joe Biden” if needed to claim victory, or that he will adopt Neptune’s calendar to extend his four-year term to 660 years. That is why this conspiracy theory has been so maddening. Indeed, in a column in April, I criticized former Vice President Joe Biden when he took up the theory, triggering another round of panic; Biden added a second theory to this baseless fear, suggesting that Trump’s opposition to funding the U.S. Postal Service was part of a plan to steal the election. (I later wrote an equally caustic criticism of Jared Kushner when he equivocated about Election Day.)

While I portrayed Biden back then as a virtual nut for raising this conspiracy theory, many now have proclaimed him a virtual Nostradamus following Trump’s tweet. Biden was not right — any more than Trump is today. It is no surprise — and no sign of a conspiracy — that Trump might suggest something outrageous, such as a delayed election, on Twitter. Such behavior is an established fact that occupies many of us on a daily basis. The “conspiracy theory” is to suggest that Trump could actually halt or delay the election. In fairness to Trump, he has not stated that he can unilaterally delay the election but rather has asked if we should do so.

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We have to discuss MMT, just like we have to talk about UBI. The bottom is falling out.

‘The Money Story’ Told By A Father Of MMT (Kohler)

Warren Mosler is one of but possibly the originator of modern monetary theory, but he did collaborate with Bill Mitchell of The University of Newcastle, who I interviewed in March, among other people. Warren is talking to us from The Virgin Islands where he lives on the Island of Saint Croix. But the difference with Warren Mosley is he’s not an academic, he is a fund manager, started off with a big bankers trust or a group of other banks, eventually had his own hedge fund trading bonds and essentially, put into practice his ideas that became known as modern monetary theory. I suppose the key insight is here, that what he’s talking about is actual operations of money, not theory. He’s an operational guy and the way he approaches it is in the way the monetary system actually works. He’s really clear, really worth listening to and it’s long but really worthwhile.

Warren, it occurred to me that maybe a good place to start would be the insights you started to have in the 70s, when you were a fairly young bond trader – I can’t remember who with but at some stage, BT, and I think you moved around a bit… I mean, those were the peak times of what we call monetarism and Friedmanism and so on, and I think you started then saying that the Emperor had no clothes. What exactly did you identify as the problem? “I can only remember bits and pieces from back then. I remember being a bankers trust and the Fed had raised reserve requirements and the trading managers, Allan Rogers – and he talked without moving his mouth like this, and he said, “Why I hope the Fed doesn’t just give them the money. The money supply is too high, they need to take the $10 billion or whatever it is out of the economy.”

And I remember saying – I was a fairly new trader there, I was 27 years’ old – I go, “Allan, you can’t do that, you can’t just – you know, it’s just a spreadsheet, you can’t take the money out, they have to add the money. They always add the money because otherwise it’s, in the first instance, the reserve requirements are debit and so then they either have an overdraft which is a reserve-add or you have to buy securities as a reserve-add. Since the overdraft would cause the Fed funds rate to go up 100 basis points, they don’t want that to happen, they have to just do repos or add to reserves.” He goes, “Well, they could bring back those Euro dollars, there’s 300 billion Euro dollars sloshing around.”

I go, “No there aren’t. There’s a spreadsheet over there with assets and liabilities, there’s nothing sloshing around, you can’t bring those back, that’s just empty rhetoric…” He didn’t really want to hear that. One of my clients was Cliff Viner at Phoenix Mutual, who later became my partner, and he directed my attention to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Eric Heineman, “The money supply is too high, I hope the Fed doesn’t just give them the money but takes it out.” I explain it to him and he was a client of Morgan Stanley so he called them with my answer and he calls me back with their double-talk answer and I straightened that up. He calls them back and then he calls me back and he says, “They’ve retracted their statement. They agree that you have to add the reserves.” So, I don’t know, maybe that was part of the pieces of the puzzle.

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Reuters started this. They say “suspected” Russians, which means it might have also been Martians. Their info is MI6- sourced. The UK press turns it into Russians for sure., with one report linking them to state based operations. Now suspected Russians have become Russian intelligence. Who, having gone through the trouble of hacking into a US-UK trade deal, don’t keep it for themselves to use later, but know nothing better to do with it than hand it to antisemite Jeremy Corbyn to wave around.

The British DO NOT like that Russia doesn’t find them interesting anymore. They DO like that they can sweep all their failures unnder the RussiaRussia carpet.

Papers Leaked Before UK Election In Suspected Russian Operation Were Hacked (R.)

Classified U.S.-UK trade documents leaked ahead of Britain’s 2019 election were stolen from the email account of former trade minister Liam Fox by suspected Russian hackers, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a law enforcement investigation is underway, said the hackers accessed the account multiple times between July 12 and Oct. 21 last year. They declined to name which Russian group or organisation they believed was responsible, but said the attack bore the hallmarks of a state-backed operation. Among the stolen information were six tranches of documents detailing British trade negotiations with the United States, which Reuters first reported last year were leaked and disseminated online by a Russian disinformation campaign.


British foreign minister Dominic Raab confirmed that report last month, saying that “Russian actors” had sought to interfere in the election “through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents”. Reuters was not able to determine which of Fox’s email accounts was hacked and when it was first compromised. It is not clear if Fox, who is still a member of parliament but stood down as trade minister on July 24 last year in a cabinet reshuffle, was a minister at the time. A British government spokeswoman said: “There is an ongoing criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.” She added that the government had “very robust systems in place to protect the IT systems of officials and staff.”

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“..if ever there was a Lady Macbeth moment for wickedness to prevail, this is it.”

A Glimpse Towards November (Kunstler)

The New York Times and its media co-seditionists insist that massive mail-in voting will do just fine despite plenty of evidence that it’s already a demonstrable fiasco — for instance in the recent New York primary where two congressional district contests remain undecided months later due to ballot irregularities. The boards of election “had operational issues,” as Governor Cuomo put it, “and we have to learn from them” — another teachable moment in the Democratic Party’s valiant struggle to morally improve America strictly on its own terms. Over in Nevada, the state legislature passed a mail-in vote scheme that will send ballots out to everybody and his-or-her uncle, with no ID required, and a feature that permits ballots to be filled-out by someone other than the addressed voter.

Nice! A “ballot-harvesting” model for other states. In California, where anybody with a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote via the 2015 “New Motor Voter Act,” ballots will go out to 600,000 un-documented non-citizens who were granted licenses under a separate act (AB-60) the same year. Do you suppose all of them will conscientiously toss their ballots in the trash while California’s mighty Democratic Party machine importunes them to vote early-and-often? There’s your set-up for a 2020 election that can’t possibly be resolved, and a recipe for a Hieronymus Bosch style orgy of Lawfare litigation that would deliberately seek to confound the Federal Election Commission’s best efforts to untangle the mess — just as Lawfare is doing in the mess of a case against General Flynn — and effectively end 232 years of continuous, orderly four-year election cycles. Is that what you want?

The other index of the Democratic Party’s desperation is the ongoing emperor’s-new-clothes charade posing the effigy of Joe Biden as a serious candidate for a rather important position in government. Everybody knows that they know — and we know that they know that we all know — that Mr. Biden is sailing into a fog-bank of senility, and more measurably each day! His every staged performance is an obvious embarrassment of fumbled phrases and things forgotten. They are going to have to find a replacement. It really comes down to two figures: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. What a predicament!

[..] Hillary still owns the DNC — literally. Nobody knows how much of the Clinton Foundation’s ill-gotten moolah still underwrites the party’s national operations. The arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, with new allegations about Bill Clinton’s capers on Epstein’s Pedo Island, is a strange twist with mystifying implications — especially the timing and the motives of those in the DOJ’s Southern District who stage-managed it. With the Clintons, intrigues always abound. But if ever there was a Lady Macbeth moment for wickedness to prevail, this is it. For now, the old warhorse is laying low on her yoga mat somewhere in the Chappaqua woods.

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“What Joe was trying to say is that he’s chosen a well-qualified candidate who will run the country ..”

Biden Says He Can’t Wait To Find Out Who He Picked For VP (Babylon Bee)

According to sources in the Biden campaign, the presidential candidate is on pins and needles waiting to see who it is he picked to run for vice president on his ticket. Campaign aides say it’s been Biden’s most anticipated event since he found out he was running for president a few weeks ago. A reporter asked Biden if he could hint about his VP pick during a brief interlude from his stay in the basement, where he was allowed to come upstairs to get some snacks. “Oh boy — I hope it’s a real classy broad,” he said as he drank straight from the milk jug. “I bet I picked somebody good and smart. A chick with class and style.


You know, in my day, dames were dames and guys were guys. None of this ‘guys becoming dolls’ and ‘dolls becoming guys’ stuff. We would go down to the hop and do the mashed potato. You know, there’s lots of good nnnn– nutrients and stuff in potatoes. Potato is a funny word.” “Po – ta – to.” “OK, Joe, let’s go,” said an aide, shoving him down into the basement. “What Joe was trying to say is that he’s chosen a well-qualified candidate who will run the country — err, I mean, help him run the country — with excellence.”

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