Jan 252023
 


Edward Hopper Tables for ladies 1930

 

Germany: Ukraine Losing Hundreds of Soldiers Every Day (Antiwar)
The Nightmare of NATO Equipment Being Sent to Ukraine (Scott Ritter)
US and Germany Ready To Send Tanks To Ukraine – Reports (RT)
Biden To Announce Deliveries Of Abrams Tanks To Ukraine On Wednesday (TASS)
Stoltenberg: Putin Is Planning For New Offensives (Az.)
Ukraine Advises West On How To Negotiate With Russia (RT)
Kremlin Comments On Direct Contact With Zelensky (RT)
Potential For Arms Control Dialogue With US Still Exists – Russia (TASS)
Kiev Fires Many Of Its Officials Amid Corruption Scandals (RT)
Western ‘Theft’ Will Backfire, Russian Tycoon Warns (RT)
Over 90% Of Western Firms Have Remained In Russia (RMX)
EU Gas Price Cap Threatens Market Stability – Regulators (RT)
Shostakovich: The End of the Siege and the Triumph of the Spirit (Hoppe)
Tactics without Strategy is the Noise Before Defeat (Saker)
The End of Reality Consensus Disorder (Kunstler)
California Lawmakers Move to Tax People Who Have Left the State (Turley)

 

 

 

 

UK excess deaths- crickets

 

 

 

 

Vaccine dead

 

 

Truth Justice

 

 

Chief of Staff

 

 

 

 

The idea has become popular that Russia doesn’t care about losing its soldiers. That supposedly balances the fact that Ukraine truly does not.

Germany: Ukraine Losing Hundreds of Soldiers Every Day (Antiwar)

The German foreign intelligence service assesses that Kiev is losing a “three-digit number” of soldiers daily, according to a report in Der Spiegel. Berlin informed politicians of the assessment during a secret meeting this week. Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is “alarmed” by the high number of losses Ukraine is suffering. The report says Berlin believes Ukraine was losing a three-digit number of soldiers every day during the battle of Bakhmut with Russian forces. The BND informed German politicians of the high number of injured and killed Ukrainian forces during a covert Bundestag meeting last week. The BND believes the Ukrainian casualties will have severe consequences during future battles. The German intelligence service also believes that Russia is suffering high casualties and using its soldiers as “cannon fodder.”


Reuters reported officials in Washington believe Kiev spent significant resources attempting to defend Bakhmut. The White House is currently advising Ukraine not to launch any major counteroffensives to recapture the city. The Joe Biden administration is additionally advising Kiev that continuing to pour soldiers into defending Bakhmut is preventing Ukrainian forces from attacking Russians defending other cities. Ukraine is seeking tanks from its NATO partners. However, many countries, including the US and Germany have resisted sending their modern tanks to Ukraine. Bakhmut is located in the Donetsk region. The BND believes if Russia takes the city, it will open the door for additional gains. Bakhmut has seen fierce fighting for several months, but the intensity picked up last week. Russian forces have made some gains in the city.

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As I said: assisted suicide.

The Nightmare of NATO Equipment Being Sent to Ukraine (Scott Ritter)

The most recent convocation of the Ramstein Contact Group took place in the shadow of an interview given by the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, to The Economist, in December 2022. According to Zaluzhnyi, the primary problem facing Ukraine was the need “to hold this line [i.e., the Soledar-Bakhmut defensive belt] and not lose any more ground.” Since that interview, Soledar has fallen to the Russians, and Bakhmut is threatened with being surrounded. Moreover, Russian forces are on the offensive north and south of the Bakhmut front, in some instances advancing up to seven kilometers per day. Zaluzhnyi also stated that the second priority for Ukraine was “to get ready for this war which can happen in February [2023]. To be able to wage a war with fresh forces and reserves.

“Our troops are all tied up in battles now, they are bleeding. They are bleeding and are being held together solely by courage, heroism, and the ability of their commanders to keep the situation under control.” The Ukrainian commander noted that the February “war” would have Ukraine resuming the attack: “We have made all the calculations — how many tanks, artillery we need and so on and so on. This is what everyone needs to concentrate on right now. May the soldiers in the trenches forgive me, it’s more important to focus on the accumulation of resources right now for the more protracted and heavier battles that may begin next year.” The goal of this offensive, Zaluzhnyi said, was to push Russia back to the borders that existed on Feb. 23, 2022, the start of the Russian invasion. He also indicated that the liberation of Crimea was an objective.

“In order to reach the borders of Crimea, as of today we need to cover a distance of 84 km to Melitopol [a strategic city in the south of the Donetsk Republic]. By the way, this is enough for us, because Melitopol would give us a full fire control of the land corridor, because from Melitopol we can already fire at the Crimean Isthmus.” Zaluzhnyi exuded confidence. “I know that I can beat this enemy,” he said. “But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFV’s [infantry fighting vehicles], 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd.” Zaluzhnyi spoke of an upcoming meeting with U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I will tell him [Milley] how much it is worth, how much it costs. If we don’t get it, of course we will fight to the end. But as a movie character said, ‘I don’t vouch for the consequences.’ The consequences are not hard to foresee. This is what we have to do.” In short, Zaluzhnyi was saying he could win the war with Russia if he received the requested amount of military equipment. Otherwise, Ukraine would likely lose the conflict.

The End of NATO – Macgregor/Ritter

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With hardly any training.

US and Germany Ready To Send Tanks To Ukraine – Reports (RT)

After months of reluctance, the US and Germany reportedly plan to send tanks to Ukraine, in what Kyiv hopes will be a game-changer on the battlefield. US President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to announce plans to send at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also reportedly decided to send at least 14 Leopard 2 tanks. Russia’s ambassador to the US blasted the news as “another blatant provocation”. Ukrainian officials have said such shipments could help its forces seize back territory from the Russians. Until now, the US and Germany have resisted internal and external pressure to send their tanks to Ukraine. Washington has cited the extensive training and maintenance required for the high-tech Abrams.

Berlin has expressed caution about Nato becoming a direct party to the war with Russia. Citing anonymous sources, US media outlets are reporting that an announcement regarding Abrams shipments to Ukraine could come as soon as Wednesday. Unnamed officials were cited as saying at least 30 of the vehicles could be sent. The timeline of any potential delivery, however, remains unclear, and it could take months or even years for the US combat vehicles to reach the battlefront. According to US media reports, German officials had privately insisted they would only agree to the transfer of Leopard 2s to Ukraine if the US also sent M1 Abrams.

“If the Germans continue to say we will only send or release Leopards on the conditions that Americans send Abrams, we should send Abrams,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a Biden ally, told Politico on Tuesday. Britain has already said it will send Challenger Two tanks to Ukraine. Poland this week said it wants to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but they are made in Germany and so Berlin needs to approve their export. At least 16 European and Nato countries have the Leopard 2 tanks, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Not all will send tanks to Ukraine – but Mr Scholz’s apparent decision now means they can, should they wish.

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“The report says the equipment will be purchased from contractors rather than drawn from existing US stockpiles.”

Big Serge: “Now the Washington Post claims that the Abrams going to Ukraine may be a new order from the manufacturer, rather than from US stocks. If so, the war might be over before they reach Europe. In any case, seems clear that this wasn’t well thought out.”

Biden To Announce Deliveries Of Abrams Tanks To Ukraine On Wednesday (TASS)

US President Joe Biden will make a formal announcement about the deliveries of Abrams tanks to the Kiev government on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported citing an unnamed US administration official. “President Biden will announce his decision to supply Abrams tanks to Ukraine tomorrow, on Wednesday,” the TV channel reported on Tuesday night. According to the channel’s source, the tanks will be contracted, not taken from the Pentagon’s arsenals. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday citing US officials that the US Administration is inclined to ship a significant number of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, adding that the announcement of these shipments could be made this week already.


According to the WSJ, this step would become a part of the agreement with Germany, which includes shipment of a small number of Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev by Berlin itself, as well as Germany’s approval of shipment of these German-made tanks by Poland and other countries. Later in the day, the Politico newspaper reported citing US administration sources that the United States may send at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as military aid. Two sources told the paper that an announcement on the subject may be made later this week. The report says the equipment will be purchased from contractors rather than drawn from existing US stockpiles.

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“..the only way to lasting peace is to make clear that Russia cannot win on the battlefield..”

Stoltenberg: Putin Is Planning For New Offensives (Az.)

Putin is planning for new offensives, and there are no indications he has changed his goal of controlling Ukraine, so the only way to lasting peace is to make clear that Russia cannot win on the battlefield, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a meeting with Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, Report informs, referring to the NATO’s website. He stressed that the only way to lasting peace is to make it clear to Putin that he will not win on the battlefield: “Therefore, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems so that the Ukrainian forces are able to repel the Russian forces.

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We see this a lot with Ukraine: accuse the other side of exactly what you are doing. It’s a well-known tactic. But really, how do you sell this idea, when Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko have all said they cheated on Minsk? You just say no, Putin cheated, and then that becomes true?

Ukraine Advises West On How To Negotiate With Russia (RT)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has claimed that Kiev negotiated in good faith for years, while Moscow used the Minsk process mediated by Paris and Berlin to buy time for war. He also argued the West is not enough for peace, which can only come when the Global South sides with Ukraine. “For eight years, Ukraine and the West tried to end the war by means of politics and diplomacy,” Kuleba argued in a Politico op-ed on Tuesday, titled “How Not to Negotiate with Russia.” The Minsk process, initiated in 2014 by France and Germany, saw Ukraine agree to “years of fruitless negotiations” in order to “avoid escalation and preserve peace in Europe,” he wrote.

“While we were holding back, Russia was building up,” Kuleba said, claiming that Moscow was “preparing for a full-scale war on Ukraine” all along, in order to “destroy the democratic international order with a single devastating blow.” Ukraine fully adhered to the Minsk process, while Russia “never sought fair peace and fair play,” Kuleba claimed. The claims, for which Kuleba provided no evidence, contradicted the recent testimonies by German and French leaders at the time, as well as Ukraine’s own former president. Former German chancellor Angela Merkel said last month that the purpose of Minsk was to “give Ukraine valuable time” to build up its military. Former French president Francois Hollande confirmed this to Ukrainian media at the end of December.

Pyotr Poroshenko, who ran Ukraine between 2014 and 2019, said openly in June last year that Minsk “meant nothing” and was a ploy to “delay the war – to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces.” In Kuleba’s Politico history, none of this happened. Instead, the Ukrainian foreign minister claimed that “deception lies at the core of Russia’s foreign policy and the way it treats international partners — both in Europe, Africa, Asia and other regions” and that Moscow prefers to talk with “victims, weaklings, henchmen.”

On Monday, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned Moscow’s diplomats that the West was “trying to enlist as many votes as possible in support of their anti-Russian initiatives, using underhanded means such as economic pressure, extortion and political bribery.” In Tuesday’s editorial, Kuleba claimed that “the voice of the West is not enough” to restore global security, and that peace in Ukraine now hinged on the countries of “Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America stepping up and using their weight and influence” at places like the UN, where their votes counted.

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“Since Zelensky’s government is not in control of its own foreign policy, it makes no sense talking with him, Lavrov suggested..”

Kremlin Comments On Direct Contact With Zelensky (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart for a number of years, his spokesman has confirmed. Dmitry Peskov was asked about contact between the two leaders by RIA Novosti during a press conference. The news agency referred to the Russian president’s public itinerary, which suggests he last met Zelensky in person during “Normandy format” talks mediated by France and Germany in 2019. The following year, they spoke by phone twice, in February and June. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had previously revealed that Moscow and Kiev were on the verge of signing a truce during the early stages of the conflict on terms suggested by the Ukrainian side. However, the process was stopped by Kiev’s Western sponsors, who want to prolong the conflict to harm Russia, he said.


Since Zelensky’s government is not in control of its own foreign policy, it makes no sense talking with him, Lavrov suggested. And, in any case, talks with Russia are currently banned under Ukrainian law, he added. The Russian diplomat was referring to an order of the Ukrainian national security council prohibiting any negotiations with Moscow so long as Putin remains in power. Zelensky signed it into law in October. Ukraine agreed to a 2014-2015 peace roadmap as a ploy to rebuild its army, according to its former president Pyotr Poroshenko and the leaders of Germany and France at that time, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. The same approach was apparently used for the peace negotiations last year, which were partially mediated by Türkiye. Kirill Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, confirmed last week that he had used an asset in Ukraine’s team of negotiators to stall the process and win time for a military regrouping.

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“We declare once again that we will be ready to consider new sound ideas on this matter, should our US counterparts present any..”

Potential For Arms Control Dialogue With US Still Exists – Russia (TASS)

Russia proceeds from the understanding that it is still possible to resume and develop a dialogue with the United States on future arms control, including with the participation of all key actors, Russia’s permanent representative at the UN office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov said at the annual session of the Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday. “We believe that the understanding the Russian and US delegations reached in Geneva in 2021 has left the door open for resuming and developing a comprehensive and substantive dialogue on future arms control, including with the participation of all key actors,” Gatilov said.

“Although Russian-US consultations are still frozen through the fault of the United States, sooner or later we will still have to work out a new global ‘security equation’ that will incorporate all significant factors of strategic stability, such as the whole range of offensive and defensive weapons, deployed and non-deployed and nuclear and non-nuclear ones, capable of influencing the balance of power and the situation in the field of international security,” Gatilov said. “We declare once again that we will be ready to consider new sound ideas on this matter, should our US counterparts present any,” he stressed.

Gatilov drew attention to the fact that the world was struggling through “a period of profound transformation, accompanied by an upsurge of conflict potential, instability and unpredictability.” In a situation like this “collective efforts united by a common goal – to make the world safer in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are needed more than ever,” Gatilov stated.

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And will now declare once again that Ukraine is corruption free.

Kiev Fires Many Of Its Officials Amid Corruption Scandals (RT)

Multiple senior Ukrainian officials were relieved of their duties by the country’s government on Tuesday. The ongoing reshuffle was announced by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in his daily video address and affects officials “on different levels, in ministries and other bodies of central and provincial authority, and law enforcement.” The government has dismissed deputy defense minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, deputy social policy minister Vitaly Muzychenko, as well as two deputies of the minister of regional development, Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya. Shortly before the government’s decision, Shapovalov himself announced his resignation, which was swiftly accepted by his boss, Alexey Reznikov. The move has been prompted by an ongoing graft scandal within the ministry, which had allegedly been procuring food for troops at abnormally high prices.

“Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was in charge of the logistics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, asked to be dismissed so as not to pose a threat to a stable supply of the military as a result of a campaign of accusations related to food procurement,” the defense ministry said in a statement, branding the allegations “unreasonable and baseless” and lauding Shapovalov’s resignation as an “honorable deed in line with traditions of European and democratic politics.” According to a Ukrainian media investigation that emerged over the weekend, various foodstuffs for the military ended up costing several times more than the average prices offered by retailers. Reznikov has rejected the allegations, stating the documents cited in the investigation were inaccurate and some prices ended up inflated due to a “technical error.” The minister also rubbished the comparisons with consumer prices, insisting that military procurements include costs that retail ones do not.

Apart from the deputy ministers, the government has also dismissed multiple heads of regional military administrations, including Aleksey Kuleba, the head of Kiev Region. According to reports by some Ukrainian outlets, Kuleba is poised to replace Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, Kirill Timoshenko, who resigned earlier in the day. Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksey Simonenko became another victim of the ongoing reshuffle, ending up dismissed on Tuesday as well. The official became embroiled in a public scandal earlier this month, after spending the New Year’s holidays in Spain. Apart from getting bad publicity for relaxing at a foreign resort during the ongoing military conflict with Russia, the official faced allegations of corruption as he’d purportedly used the car of a wealthy businessman with a security detail hired by its owner during the ill-fated trip.

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“Potanin nevertheless expressed confidence that the West “will come to their senses” sooner or later..”

Western ‘Theft’ Will Backfire, Russian Tycoon Warns (RT)

Western countries are sawing off the branch they are sitting on by confiscating Russian assets, billionaire businessman Vladimir Potanin believes. Following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February last year, multiple countries have frozen assets belonging both to the Russian state, and private companies and individuals to the tune of more than $300 billion. In an interview with Russian media outlet RBK published on Monday, Potanin, the largest shareholder of mining giant Nornickel, said: “The confiscation [of assets] is a covert or overt form of theft,” and destroys “the investment climate of the jurisdiction where this is happening.”

Potanin noted that the countries comprising the ‘collective West’ had based their societies upon respect for private property. The recent freezing of Russian assets “will backfire on them,” he said, adding that Russia should refrain from mirroring these measures. He went on to suggest that by exercising respect for property rights, Moscow will be in a stronger moral position when it fights for its frozen assets in the West, and will send the right signals to entrepreneurs at home. Potanin also warned against nationalizing property left behind in Russia by Western businesses – instead, the authorities need to “give the investment community the opportunity to solve this problem on its own.”

He noted that the exodus of Western companies from Russia has allowed local investors to buy up assets at relatively low prices. Potanin described the Western sanctions as “absolutely destructive and even, apparently, absolutely illegal,” and in his view, what we are seeing right now is the destruction of basic global rules. The billionaire acknowledged that Western sanctions have put his plans for overseas business expansion on hold and have adversely affected his ability to travel the world, though he has now switched to exploring Russia instead, he added. Potanin nevertheless expressed confidence that the West “will come to their senses” sooner or later.

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And there is Potanin again…

Over 90% Of Western Firms Have Remained In Russia (RMX)

Only 8.5 percent of all EU and G7 companies have actually left Russia, according to research from the University of St. Gallen and the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland. Before the outbreak of war, there were more than 2,400 company branches and 1,400 companies from the EU and G7 operating in Russia. By the end of November last year, only 120 companies had left Russia or sold their company there. The research indicates that the news of a mass exodus of Western firms from Russia has been largely exaggerated. In fact, businesses have resisted calls from governments, media, and civil society, according to the Belgian daily newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. Companies remain skeptical and reluctant about leaving Russia over fears of losing their business and staff.


Those who have left have ended up transferring assets into Russian hands, even for a single symbolic ruble or euro, as was the case with Renault and Nissan. According to Forbes, the biggest beneficiary was oligarch Wladimir Potanin, whose Interros company bought Rosbank from Societe Generale, making nearly 50 billion rubles (€667 million) in the process. The second-biggest earner was Vladyslav Sviblov, whose Highland Gold Mining bought the assets of Canada’s Kinross corporation, which netted him almost 40 billion rubles. Not far behind was Ivan Tirishkin from SPB, who bought 49.5 percent of the shares in HKF-Bank LLC, making over 35 billion rubles. Fourth on the list was the state research center FSUE NAMI, which took over the plants owned by Renault and Nissan, gaining assets worth just under 35 billion rubles.

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“The mechanism could potentially lower levels of market-based gas flows between the EU’s different market areas, which would lead to a less integrated internal gas market..”

EU Gas Price Cap Threatens Market Stability – Regulators (RT)

Europe’s new gas market correction mechanism, the price cap which launches next month, is likely to affect the way the region’s exchange-traded gas markets operate, the EU’s financial and energy market regulators said in a report on Monday. According to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), market participants may change their behavior to avoid the activation of the mechanism or in order to adapt to it. “By curbing the key price discovery function of regulated markets, the mechanism will not come without consequences on market participants’ trading behavior and may have an effect on the ability of all market participants to effectively manage their risks,” ESMA said. Traders may then be forced to switch to contracts and marketplaces not affected by the price cap.

“Such adaptations could be achieved by various means, notably by shifting trading to OTC (over the counter) or to non-EU venues… It could trigger significant and abrupt changes of the broader market environment, which could impact the orderly functioning of markets, and ultimately financial stability,” the agency warned, stressing that this may also lower open interest and undermine liquidity on regulated markets for the EU’s benchmark TTF gas contracts. The EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) echoed this opinion in a separate report, warning that the measure could lead to the relocation of trading volumes from EU to foreign gas exchanges. The agency also said the mechanism could jeopardize energy supply if the price levels put in place by the activated cap lower the appeal of EU markets for global LNG suppliers.

“The mechanism could potentially lower levels of market-based gas flows between the EU’s different market areas, which would lead to a less integrated internal gas market,” ACER stated. EU countries agreed in December to set a price cap on natural gas, in an effort to keep energy costs from spiraling. The cap will be triggered if the TTF gas hub spot prices trade above the €180-per-megawatt-hour level ($196) for three consecutive days. The mechanism is to come into force on February 15. The measure was introduced as a way to help avoid price spikes, like the most recent one in August, when EU gas prices reached a historic high of €345 ($375) per megawatt-hour due to concerns over Russian energy supplies.

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Lovely story.

Shostakovich: The End of the Siege and the Triumph of the Spirit (Hoppe)

On 15th July 1941, impelled and galvanised by the ominous atmosphere of war and the great trepidation he felt for his motherland and his beloved city, Shostakovich began to work feverishly on the first movement of a composition that was to become his seventh symphony. The first movement of the symphony was written during a relentless bombardment of the city. Shostakovich recalled: “Neither the savage raids, nor the German planes, nor the sinister atmosphere of the besieged city could hinder the flow. I worked with an inhuman intensity that I had never achieved before.” On 2nd September, the day that the Germans intensified their bombardment of the city, Shostakovich began work on the second movement. Working at high intensity in between dashes to the nearest bomb shelter, he completed it within two weeks. On 8th September, Leningrad was locked in the fateful Siege.

On 16th September, the composer made a special radio broadcast (an excerpt of this broadcast) to encourage the soldiers at the front, saying: “An hour ago I completed the second part of my new work. If I manage to complete the third and fourth parts of this composition, and if it turns out well, I shall be able to call it the Seventh Symphony…. Despite the war-time conditions, despite the danger which is threatening Leningrad, I have written the first two parts in a comparatively short time. Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this so that listeners tuned in now should know that life in our city is normal. Despite the threat of invasion, things are going on as usual in our city. All of us are soldiers today, and those who work in the field of culture and the arts are doing their duty on a par with all the other citizens of Leningrad… Soviet musicians, my dear, numerous comrades-in-arms, my friends! Remember that grave danger faces our art. Let us defend our music, let us work honestly and selflessly… Comrades, I shall soon be completing my Seventh Symphony. My mind is clear and the drive to create urges me on to conclude my composition. And then I shall come on the air again, with my new work and shall nervously await your stern, friendly judgment. I assure you in the name of all Leningraders, in the name of all those working in the field of culture and the arts, that we are invincible and that we are ever at our posts… I assure you that we are invincible.”

That same evening Shostakovich had invited several musicians to his apartment to hear what he had written so far. After he finished the first movement, there was a long silence. An air-raid warning sounded. No one moved. Everyone wanted to hear the piece once more. But the composer briefly excused himself to take his wife Nina and their children Galina and Maxim to the nearest air-raid shelter. When he returned to his guests, he repeated the first movement to the blasts of Luftwaffe bombs and anti-aircraft fire and then proceeded to play the next movement. Their deeply emotional reactions encouraged him to start that night on the Adagio – the third part. He completed this movement on 29th September.

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“In other words, the Russians also destroyed this 3rd iteration of the “Ukrainian” military (in reality NATO military)..”

Tactics without Strategy is the Noise Before Defeat (Saker)

Furthermore, geography is a bitch and, in our case, the entire Donbass is one huge cauldron, open only on the western side, which makes it rather tricky to plan anything more than small, local, attacks. For the Russians, however, this means that they can attack from any one of these axes: from the north, the East and the South or even any combination therefore. By now, following the partial mobilization, Russia does have the figures needed to chose any option she wants. Pretty soon, the West ran out of ex-WTO weapons. The West responded by sending wave after wave of “volunteers”, PMCs, even “deserters” (like this US Navy SEAL). Recruitment offices where hastily organized worldwide and the Russian side began hearing more and more radio transmissions not on Russian or Ukrainian, but in Polish and English (and even Arabic!).

The problem now is hardware. First, NATO cannot replace “one for one” ex-WTO MBTs, IFV/APCs, SAM, etc. Not only is NATO hardware expensive, there are simply not enough stores to fully compensate for the huge losses inflicted by the Russians. Second, WTO hardware was not only familiar to the Ukrainians, but it was much easier to secure the kind of supply/maintenance flows needed to operate it than would be the case with NATO hardware (which is mostly inferior to ex-WTO kit, with a few exceptions). Third, most of NATO hardware performed terribly. None of the promised Wunderwaffen made any real difference, at least in military terms. In terms of murdered civilians, the Russians have now reported that since the delivery of long range munitions to the NATO forces in the Ukraine (because that is what they are), the number of civilian victims murdered by NATO has increased by a factor of four!

But, of course, nobody in the West cares about that. Initially, the West responded by sending all its own surplus gear, old stocks, especially against a promise by the USA to compensate for these systems sent to the Ukraine with much newer systems. Pretty quickly those stocks ended up chewed-up by the Russian meat grinder too. In other words, the Russians also destroyed this 3rd iteration of the “Ukrainian” military (in reality NATO military).

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“Every thread of the Covid-19 narrative promulgated by this ass, and the sachems of the CDC and FDA, are shredded, proved to be not only lies, but deadly lies..”

The End of Reality Consensus Disorder (Kunstler)

Elon Musk shocked the Twitterverse (and beyond) by confessing that he only took the vaxxes because international travel for business required it, and his second shot was a near-death experience (while his cousin developed myocarditis from it). Meanwhile, the UN issued a warning to him through a WEF mouthpiece, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova: comply and regulate speech on the platform, or else…. We have the rules which must be complied with and otherwise there will be sanctions. I think that the confidence has been weakened, and I had quite a high level of confidence when it comes to Twitter. I have to say that we worked with knowledgeable people, with layers, with sociologists, who understood that they have to behave in some decent way. Not to cause really big harm to society…” she said.

Something tells me that Mr. Musk will invite these busybodies to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut. As the Tweeter @BlackFlagExpat explained: “Musk can simply set up the server capacity outside of EU jurisdiction (UK, Andorra, Switz, Russia?) and move all data to those physical and virtual servers. Then lay off all European employees and stop paying rent on all leases.” Nice! That old rats-from-a-sinking-ship feeling emanates from the hazy region where “Joe Biden” dwells. Chief of staff Ron Klain is handing over his duties to former Covid-19 “czar” Jeff Zients — who did such a swell job keeping Americans mis-and-disinformed through the heart of the “vaccine” campaign (January 2021 to April 2022). Every thread of the Covid-19 narrative promulgated by this ass, and the sachems of the CDC and FDA, are shredded, proved to be not only lies, but deadly lies.

Every angle of Covid policy was wrong, and treasonously wrong. This is who will soon be, ostensibly, leading the country — since you can be sure that “JB” is not. Nobody will believe a word that Jeff Zients utters. The mainstream media is even turning against this coterie of evil nincompoops. The sociopathic Political Left and its international managers have lost control of the ball in this game. They can insist on any sort of absurdity, but the people have stopped buying it. Resentment over all this is breaking out. Nobody wants any more boosters. The running dogs of official propaganda, such as Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, await their career executions. The years of Reality Consensus Disorder draw to a close. The counter-revolution finally begins.

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“Taxing wealth is no easy matter so the proposal seeks $660 million per year for administrative costs.”

California Lawmakers Move to Tax People Who Have Left the State (Turley)

California lawmakers appear intent on making the Eagles song Hotel California a reality .. . at least when it comes to taxes for those who try to flee the state. At the Hotel California, “you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!” With soaring costs and a massive $24 billion deficit, the state is also facing an exodus of people leaving the state. The solution? Not only impose a wealth tax (which will fuel even more departures) but pursue those who left the state. The new bill introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Alex Lee would impose an extra annual 1.5% tax on those with a “worldwide net worth” above $1 billion, starting as early as January 2024. The law has a cynical bait-and-switch provision. The billionaire tax is just meant for the initial packaging and passage. It can therefore be sold as a “billionaire’s tax.”

However, in two years, the threshold drops to a worldwide net worth exceeding $50 million. While billionaires would stay at 1.5%, those in the lower tax bracket would be hit by a 1 percent added rate on worldwide assets. It also includes the taxation on those who led the state . . . many due to the high taxes. California already has the highest tax burden in the nation. It relies on its top 1% of taxpayers for roughly half of its individual income tax revenue, but continually treats those taxpayers like game in a canned hunt. The result, not surprisingly, is that they are leaving for states like Texas and Florida. The new tax would arrange for payments to California’s Franchise Tax Board for years after a departure for those assets which are not easily converted into cash.

I have previously written how the wealth tax pushed by Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren are unconstitutional under the federal Constitution. States are not subject to the same limit. Not surprisingly, the highest taxing states are pursuing the most wealthy . . . who are leaving in droves. That includes Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and Washington. Under the existing exit tax, businesses and individuals must pay a one-time tax to leave based on the value of the business or individual’s assets, including property, stocks, and other investments. For those who have earned more that $30 million, you can continue to pay for years after fleeing the state. The current exit tax is 0.4% of an individuals’ net worth over $30,000,000 in a tax year, including assets located outside of the California other than real estate. Taxing wealth is no easy matter so the proposal seeks $660 million per year for administrative costs.

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McCarthy

 

 

 

 

 

 


Taormina-Giardini Railway Station in Sicily.

 

 


A woodpecker’s tongue is so long that it wraps around its skull to protect its brain from over 1000g of acceleration when it’s hammering away

 

 

Weather Channel
https://twitter.com/i/status/1617864670844715011

 

 

 

 


The Giant Teratorn — Argentavis magnificens — was an absolutely enormous species of flying bird which lived in Argentina during the late Miocene, about six million years ago. it possessed a wingspan probably somewhere between 6-9 meters

 

 


Baby octopuses still in their eggs

 

 

 

 

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Nov 222022
 
 November 22, 2022  Posted by at 9:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  51 Responses »


Salvador Dali Nymphs in a romantic garden 1921

 

Zelenskyy Urges West To Support Ukraine’s Accession To NATO, EU (Az.)
NATO Assembly Calls On Members To Declare Russia ‘Terrorist Regime’ (RT)
Peace Talks Would Require More Weapons For Ukraine – NATO chief (RT)
Ukraine Quietly Abolished Corruption Rule (RT)
Duma Speaker Calls for ‘Nazi’ Zelensky to Face War Crime Charges (Celente)
Associated Press Fires Journalist Who Claimed Russian Missiles Hit Poland (CTH)
EU Hoarding Russian Diesel Before Ban – Reuters (RT)
UK Bypassing Its Own Sanctions On Russian Oil – Sunday Times (RT)
EU Struggles To Seize Russian Assets – Politico (RT)
Ukrainian Attacks Risk ‘Nuclear Disaster’ – Rosatom (RT)
UN Responds To Russian Nuclear Request (RT)
The Solemn Stillness Before Winter (Jim Kunstler)
The Perils Facing Trump, Garland, and Smith in DC Legal Arms Race (Turley)
New Trump Special Prosecutor Overturned By Supreme Court (JTN)
The Non-Existent European Identity (Remix)

 

 


Daily Active Users

 

 

CBS coincidence

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balenciaga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why doesn’t someone shut him down when he utters such nonsense? Vladimir Zel simply declared there’s no corruption, but the EU can’t afford to accept that kind of BS. Bringing in the most corrupt country in -at least- the western hemisphere would end the EU. And they all know Russia will never accept NATO on its doorstep. We’re just wasting time -and lives.

Zelenskyy Urges West To Support Ukraine’s Accession To NATO, EU (Az.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the Western countries in a plenary meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to support Ukraine’s applications for membership in the European Union and NATO, Report informs, citing Ukrinform. “All of you can see Ukraine’s significant contribution to the protection of our community. Everyone sees how important it is that we really united in defense after February 24. So, due to this, you also see that Ukraine should become a full member of the European Union and NATO. And I urge you to support our applications for membership in the EU and the Alliance,” Zelenskyy said in his speech at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly via video link.

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Why does NATO have a Parliamentary Assembly?

NATO Assembly Calls On Members To Declare Russia ‘Terrorist Regime’ (RT)

NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly has adopted a largely symbolic resolution calling on member nations to label Russia a “terrorist” state, claiming Moscow represents a “direct threat” to “Euro-Atlantic security” while demanding more military support to Kiev and an end to restrictions on the “forward deployment of NATO forces.” The non-binding declaration was passed by the NATO PA on Monday, with the body warning that “the Euro-Atlantic area is no longer at peace and that the global security environment has deteriorated rapidly” amid continued fighting in Eastern Europe, going on to denounce Russia’s military operation “in the strongest terms.”

The resolution made a series of requests to NATO members, asking them to “state clearly that the Russian state under the current regime is a terrorist one,” and to “increase military, intelligence, financial, training and humanitarian support to Ukraine,” including by “accelerating” arms shipments. The NATO bloc must “sustain this support for as long as it takes for Ukraine to prevail,” the resolution added, also asking that any existing restrictions on the “forward deployment” of Western forces along Russian borders be declared “null and void.” Washington alone has authorized nearly $20 billion in ‘lethal aid’ to Kiev since President Joe Biden took office in 2021, with much of that approved after Russia’s military operation kicked off in February.

NATO allies have acknowledged concerns that the arms flooding Ukraine’s chaotic battlefield have not been properly tracked, with the new resolution stressing the need to ensure the “traceability of the weapons delivered.” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky addressed lawmakers from NATO states in a video message before the latest resolution was passed, praising the alliance for its military aid and for helping his country to “defend [itself] in this war.” In addition to declaring Moscow a “terrorist” state and other symbolic measures, the Parliamentary Assembly said NATO countries should work to create an “international tribunal” to prosecute Russian officials for alleged war crimes and compel “full reparation of damage loss or injury” linked to the conflict.

The Parliamentary Assembly’s resolutions are not enforceable among NATO members and are intended to merely advise the alliance on pressing issues. The body has taken an increasingly harsh stance toward Moscow in recent months, with its newly elected president, French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, insisting on Monday that Russian leaders “must be judged as terrorists in front of international tribunals.” While Monday’s resolution was largely focused on Russia and the conflict in Ukraine, it took more than one detour to single out Beijing, urging the alliance to develop a “common allied response to the increasing assertiveness of China.” The document called for “constructive dialogue,” yet also went on to denounce Beijing’s alleged “systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security” and “attempts to subvert the rules-based international order.”

The NATO PA declaration came after a similar resolution was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last month. Russia left the European NGO in March, calling it a “convenient platform for NATO’s information and political campaigns.” While Kiev has repeatedly urged the collective West to declare Russia a “state sponsor of terror,” only a handful of countries – including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic – have heeded the call, and their actions have been limited to symbolic gestures. Those with the power to enforce anti-terror sanctions against other states, namely the US, have so far refused to take that step.

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“We need to realize that this war most likely will end at some stage at the negotiating table…” But that’s not what NATO wants. Or Raytheon.

Peace Talks Would Require More Weapons For Ukraine – NATO chief (RT)

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia will likely end in negotiations, which is why Kiev needs to be supplied with more weapons, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has claimed. “We all want this war to end,”Stoltenberg said in his speech at the 68th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid on Monday, adding that it matters to the US-led military bloc how exactly the conflict concludes. “We need to realize that this war most likely will end at some stage at the negotiating table. But we must also know that the outcome of those negotiations totally depends on strength on the battlefield,” the NATO chief argued. “So, if we want an outcome, which is acceptable for Ukraine… the best way of achieving that is to provide military support for Ukraine,” he said.

NATO members “must be prepared to support Ukraine for the long haul,”Stoltenberg said, urging lawmakers to keep advocating for more aid for Kiev in their own countries. Stoltenberg acknowledged that this assistance “comes at a price” for NATO members. “In our countries, many face cost of living crisis. Energy and food bills are rising. These are tough times for many,” he pointed out. However, the NATO chief argued that Western countries will have to pay “a much harsher price” if Russia is allowed to achieve victory in Ukraine, as it would signal to other “authoritarian regimes” that they can achieve their goals by force, which would “make the world more dangerous.”

Stoltenberg also warned that “it would be a great mistake to underestimate Russia” because Moscow “retains significant military capabilities and a high number of troops.” High-ranking Russian officials have repeatedly said that Moscow is ready to negotiate a settlement with Ukraine, while accusing Kiev of being unwilling to talk, and deliberately putting forward unrealistic conditions for dialogue. Russia has described the conflict in Ukraine as a “proxy war” being waged against it by the US and NATO. Moscow has consistently criticized weapons deliveries to Ukraine by Western countries, saying they only prolong the fighting and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

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“Ukraine had previously mandated lifetime financial monitoring of “politically exposed persons,” including government officials and lawmakers – until Zelensky signed an amendment last week limiting it to just three years.”

Ukraine Quietly Abolished Corruption Rule (RT)

President Vladimir Zelensky harmed Ukraine’s hopes of joining the EU by signing an amendment that reduced financial oversight of politicians, anti-corruption activists in Kiev said on Monday. The measure “practically kills” efforts to combat money-laundering, claimed the head of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC). Ukraine had previously mandated lifetime financial monitoring of “politically exposed persons,” including government officials and lawmakers – until Zelensky signed an amendment last week limiting it to just three years. Officially, the law is supposed to “protect Ukraine’s financial system from Russia and Belarus,” but the AntAC says it will harm the country’s interests instead.

“With this law, politicians destroyed the system of financial monitoring of their loved ones, which means they actually blocked negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU,” AntAC head Vitaly Shabunin said on social media. The amended law “practically kills the system of preventing money-laundering by Ukrainian politicians,” he added. AntAC’s executive director Daria Kaleniuk pointed out that the law also breaks Kiev’s promise to the European Union, one of the seven commitments made by Zelensky to Brussels in June. “In order for us to be able to convince our European partners that we are serious about joining the EU and are implementing all the necessary reforms for this, we need to correct this,” she told Hromadske.

After signing the law on Thursday, Zelensky told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum – via video link – that he’d basically ended corruption in Ukraine. “No one will be able to forgive corruption in the future Ukraine,” he said, adding that all the corrupt officials had fled the country while those that remain will not be tempted to “interfere in business operations” because all government services had gone electronic. The old law provided for lifelong financial monitoring of the president, prime minister, ministers and their deputies, members of parliament, management of the national bank, senior security officials, key judges and prosecutors, as well as military commanders.

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The video is very clear, but of course they deny it. The claim is that the unarmed Russians fired first, and only then were executed. But executing unarmed soldiers is still as illegal as it comes.

Duma Speaker Calls for ‘Nazi’ Zelensky to Face War Crime Charges (Celente)

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house, called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to face war crime charges over a video that claimed to show Ukrainian forces opening fire and killing a dozen Russian POWs. “Everyone has seen evidence of Ukrainian Nazis shooting our soldiers lying down, without weapons. This is how the Nazis behave,” Volodin said in a statement posted to Telegram, The Jerusalem Post reported. “The Kyiv regime deserves the most severe punishment for its atrocities.” Video purportedly shows Ukrainian troops executing a dozen captured Russian troops has faced some media scrutiny in the U.S., which would have been unheard of at the start of the war.


The New York Times reported that the video was first circulated by news outlets in Ukriane in an effort to “laud the military prowess” of the country’s military. The paper said the videos sparked a “fierce response” in Russia and Moscow has called for an investigation. The paper said the killings occurred in Makiivka, in the Luhansk region. “Countries cooperating with the Kyiv regime must understand that they support the Nazi state, sadists whose hands are up to the elbows in blood,” Volodin said. Russian President Putin’s critics say the Kremlin is loose with the Nazi designation and uses it to win support from the public against adversaries. In fact, in his 9 May Victory Day speech, Putin said that the purpose of the military action was to purge Ukraine of its “Nazi” nationalist leadership.

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Official retraction? Apologies?

Associated Press Fires Journalist Who Claimed Russian Missiles Hit Poland (CTH)

The Associated Press received a lot of international scorn for reporting incorrectly that Russia fired missiles into Poland. As soon as the AP attributed the missile attack to Russia almost immediately other media outlets began promoting calls for a NATO led war against Russia. Additionally, the G20 summit was taking place and various international leaders began discussing an article-5 convention against Russia. However, the single source of the AP report was wrong, a senior U.S. intelligence official, if there actually was a source. It was the Ukraine military who fired the missile into Poland, not Russia. The Daily Beast notes today that the Associated Press has fired James LaPorta, the journalist who made the claim of Russian origin.


(Via Daily Beast) – The Associated Press scared much of the world last Tuesday when it alerted readers that “a senior U.S. intelligence official” said “Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people.” That report, which was widely cited across the internet and on cable news, was taken offline the following day and replaced with an editor’s note admitting the single source was wrong and that “subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.” On Monday, the AP fired James LaPorta, the investigative reporter responsible for that story, Confider has learned. The piece, which was originally co-bylined with John Leicester (who is still working at the AP), attributed the information to a single “senior U.S. intelligence official,” despite the AP’s rule that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.”

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“The EU will have to secure around 500,000 to 600,000 barrels per day of diesel to replace the Russian volumes..”

EU Hoarding Russian Diesel Before Ban – Reuters (RT)

European traders are boosting purchases of Russian diesel ahead of the EU embargo on the country’s oil products, which comes into force in February, Reuters reported on Monday, citing cargo tracker Vortexa. According to the report, Russian diesel shipments headed to the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) storage region surged to 215,000 barrels per day from November 1 to November 12. It is a 126% increase from October, according to Pamela Munger, Vortexa senior market analyst. Moreover, according to Refinitiv data, so far in November Russian diesel made up 44% of the bloc’s imports of the fuel, against 39% last month. This means that Russia remains the region’s largest diesel supplier, despite the fact that overall imports of Russian fuels to the EU dropped significantly over the past months due to Ukraine-related sanctions.


The EU embargo on Russian oil comes into force next month, while the ban on petroleum products will take effect on February 5. Analysts warn it will be difficult for the region to find alternative sources for diesel once this happens, as they are scarce and more costly, while Europe’s domestic diesel production falls short of the region’s consumption. “The EU will have to secure around 500,000 to 600,000 barrels per day of diesel to replace the Russian volumes; replacements will come from the US as well as east of Suez, primarily the Middle East and India,” Eugene Lindell, market analyst at energy consultancy FGE, told Reuters.

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“The UK has purchased at least 39 shipments of Russian oil since February, although the cargoes were registered as imports from other countries..”

UK Bypassing Its Own Sanctions On Russian Oil – Sunday Times (RT)

The UK has purchased at least 39 shipments of Russian oil since February, although the cargoes were registered as imports from other countries, the Sunday Times has reported, citing tanker traffic data and trade statistics. Russian-origin oil shipments, worth about £200 ($236) million, were reportedly delivered to UK ports after ship-to-ship transfers, a practice widely used when large tankers that are unable to dock due to their size transfer their cargo to smaller vessels. According to the Sunday Times’ findings, this practice gives the shipping companies a way to register their cargo without providing the actual origin of the shipments, stating instead the country of dispatch as the source of the cargo. In this way a shipment of Russian-made goods can be registered as originating in Germany if it is brought to a UK port by a German firm.

The news outlet was able to track dozens of shipments of Russian oil that have arrived at UK ports since March, logged as originating in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, France and other countries. At least 13 of those reportedly arrived in June and July. However, official figures on oil imports from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the country did not receive any oil from Russia in those months. According to maritime experts, ship-to-ship transfers have become more popular since Western nations began targeting Russian oil exports this year, as part of sanctions over Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. “Ship-to-ship transfers have become a really useful method to obfuscate the destination and the origin of the cargo.

The Iranians started it, the Venezuelans perfected it, the Russians picked it up and ran with it,” Michelle Wiese Bockmann, energy and shipping analyst at the shipping journal Lloyd’s List, told the news outlet. According to Refinitiv, which monitors ship-to-ship transfers, there have been some 267 such transfers around the world involving Russian oil since March. A UK embargo on maritime Russian oil imports is scheduled to come into force on December 5. However, according to maritime experts, given the registration loophole and ship-to-ship transfer practices, it will be difficult for the UK to actually stop Russian oil from arriving in the country, even after that date.

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“Legal experts have expressed doubt it is possible to unilaterally confiscate another country’s assets under existing international law.”

EU Struggles To Seize Russian Assets – Politico (RT)

The European Commission is investigating how it might go about confiscating hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian state and private assets, according to a document seen by Politico on Monday. The initiative’s goal is reportedly “identifying ways to strengthen the tracing, identification, freezing and management of assets as preliminary steps for potential confiscation.” The bloc has its eyes on almost $300 billion in Russian central bank assets currently frozen, plus the assets of Russians on the sanctions list. The European Council last month reminded the Commission that it had been tasked with presenting “options in line with EU and international law” for using those frozen Russian funds “to support Ukraine’s reconstruction.” Legal experts have expressed doubt it is possible to unilaterally confiscate another country’s assets under existing international law.

With an eye toward changing that law, Brussels has proposed making sanctions evasion a crime in the EU, a decision which would require unanimous assent by member countries. However, even if that agreement was forthcoming, the bloc would have to litigate each individual seizure, proving a clear link between the owner of the assets in question and Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Foreign investments are protected against confiscation without compensation under international law. In the document seen by Politico, the EC acknowledged that central bank assets were “generally considered to be covered by immunity.” While the seizing of the assets of state-owned enterprises would avoid violating such immunity “in principle,” the Commission noted that it would “need to demonstrate a sufficient connection to the Russian state” for every case.

Less invasive would be an “exit tax” targeting the assets of sanctioned individuals attempting to transfer their property out of the EU. However, University of Amsterdam professor Stephan Schill told Politico that those individuals could claim that, as a targeted group, their human right to non-discrimination had been violated, or invoke the human right to property. Under the current rules-based international order, the EC is unable to legally expropriate Russian property, according to Schill: “The EU and member states are trying to introduce new criminal law.” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged as much in May, pointing out that confiscating Russian central bank assets was “not something that is legally permissible in the United States” or many other countries. Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic states have nevertheless continued to push the EC to find a way to seize the frozen funds.

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Nobody’s talking about Russia doing the shelling anymore….

Ukrainian Attacks Risk ‘Nuclear Disaster’ – Rosatom (RT)

Renewed Ukrainian artillery attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP) have created a risk of a nuclear disaster, Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev told reporters on Monday. Moscow has called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to name and shame the attacker so Kiev would stop bombing the facility. “We were in talks with the IAEA all night,” Likhachev told reporters during the Atomexpo-2022 in Sochi. After a “relatively calm” period since September, at least 30 projectiles struck the facility over the weekend, damaging the backup generators and the spent fuel storage facility, he added. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been under control of Russian troops since February 28.

While the reactor blocks are strong enough to withstand shelling, damaging the spent fuel containers risks a release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, with unpredictable consequences. The Ukrainian military has repeatedly targeted the facility with Western-supplied artillery, while claiming Russia was staging “false flag” incidents to make Kiev look bad. The Ukrainian general staff eventually admitted to striking the area around the ZNPP, however. The weekend attacks amounted to the first major incident since the IAEA established a permanent observation mission at the ZNPP in early September. On Sunday, IAEA Director-General Mariano Grossi called for an immediate end to the shelling, saying that the world “got lucky” that a “serious nuclear incident” did not happen this time. However, he once again did not name the culprit.

On Monday, both the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry called on the IAEA to do its duty to the fullest and identify those responsible for the shelling. IAEA specialists completed their inspection of the facility on Monday afternoon and sent their report to headquarters, Likhachev’s top aid Renat Karchaa told Russia’s Channel 1 TV. “They were accompanied by a highly qualified ballistics specialist we provided, and once again it was convincingly shown that the origin of these artillery strikes was Marganets,” a city in the Ukrainian-held Dnepropetrovsk region, Karchaa said. Karchaa also told reporters that Rosatom was “taking steps” to fortify the spent fuel storage facility and other parts of the ZNPP, though he did not offer any details.

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…but the IAEA still claims they can’t figure out who’s doing the shelling, i.e. it could still be the Russians.

UN Responds To Russian Nuclear Request (RT)

The UN doesn’t have the capability to identify those behind the attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP), a spokesman for the secretary-general said on Monday. Russia has called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to do its job properly and acknowledge that the shelling came from the Ukrainian side. Around 30 projectiles struck the ZNPP over the weekend, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The nuclear energy corporation Rosatom said the damage caused to the facility’s spent fuel storage came close to triggering a disaster. Moscow said it was clear the fire came from the Ukrainian-held town of Marganets, but the IAEA has avoided naming any names. “We have no way to determine” who carried out the attacks, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told reporters on Monday.

“We would like these attacks to stop,” Haq added, noting that the Secretariat “shares the concerns” of IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and “joins him in calling on all parties to cease fire” around the ZNPP. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since February. Damage to the spent fuel containers risks a release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, with unpredictable consequences, Rosatom has warned. Both Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday that the IAEA should fully do its duty and name names. “As an authoritative and independent international body, [the IAEA] must finally move away from abstract condemnations and demands to stop the shelling of the ZNPP without addressing the culprit, and clearly and unambiguously point at those carrying out the attacks,” Zakharova said.

“This requires determination and responsibility. We really hope that they will be shown.” Zakharova also accused Western governments of giving a “blank check” to the government in Kiev for “continuing their reckless attempts to cause irreparable damage” to the ZNPP. This weekend’s attacks were the first major incident at the ZNPP since early September, when the IAEA stationed permanent observers at the site. According to Rosatom official Renat Karchaa, the IAEA inspectors surveyed the damage on Monday, accompanied by a Russian ballistics expert, and were able to see that the attack had come from the Ukrainian side. That report was transmitted to the IAEA headquarters.

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“By early 2023 the evidence of excess all-causes deaths and disabilities resulting from Pfizer and Moderna shots will be overwhelming..”

The Solemn Stillness Before Winter (Jim Kunstler)

Now Mr. Garland has activated one particular federal attorney, Jack Smith, with a long record as a partisan attack dog, as special counsel to finally get the job done against Mr. Trump, the proverbial indictment-worthy ham sandwich awaiting a DC District grand jury. Any cockamamie charge will do as long as it’s a felony. Mr. Garland’s strategy is two-fold: 1) to negate Mr. Trump’s remaining political career; and 2) set up a situation that will permit all DOJ attorneys and FBI officers to demur from questioning before Republican majority congressional committees about everything-under-the-sun on the grounds that the questions are germane to “ongoing investigations” that can’t be compromised. That’s the game.

By the time that game kicks-off, early January 2023, the country is liable to be punch-drunk and stumbling from a financial market crash that signals the start of an economic depression more consequential than the calamity of the 1930s. Meanwhile, Russia’s cleanup of the US-instigated mess in Ukraine will be nearly complete, to the ignominy of “Joe Biden,” at the same time that the putative president’s crimes of bribery and treason — should he still be among the living — get aired in Congress without any help required from Mr. Garland’s Justice Department — the evidence from Hunter’s laptop having already been well-perused and catalogued by an army of outside independent investigators. FTX will be in that mix somewhere.

This will all occur against the background of the now-unraveled Covid-19 story. By early 2023 the evidence of excess all-causes deaths and disabilities resulting from Pfizer and Moderna shots will be overwhelming and the nation will know it got played by a scheme between the corrupt public health authorities, the pharma companies, and the corporate medical establishment, including its discredited journals. Nobody in America will ever trust a doctor again. We’ll also probably know a good deal more about the dark and dirty deeds around the 2022 midterm election as the FTX scandal spools out and the probably hundreds of millions of FTX investor’s dollars that were express-delivered into Democratic Party coffers for ballot harvesting operations are revealed, along with the exact methods used to accomplish the mega-fraud.

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“There will be ample support for both sides to fulfill their respective narratives — and no shortage of legal weapons — in this political war of attrition.”

The Perils Facing Trump, Garland, and Smith in DC Legal Arms Race (Turley)

Smith faces the unenviable task of investigating a presidential candidate less than two years before the election. Given the advanced stage of prior investigations, he could bring charges before Sept. 5, 2024 (or roughly 60 days before the election under Justice Department guidelines for election year filings). It is unlikely, however, that a charge against Trump could be tried in that time. However, Smith’s first test will be to avoid the initial mistakes of a predecessor, Mueller. Like Smith, Mueller was considered a natural choice as special counsel, given his extensive experience as a career prosecutor. However, Mueller’s investigation was undermined by his selection of a team — starting with his top aide, Andrew Weissmann, a controversial prosecutor who was accused of political bias.

The investigation was further undermined by FBI personnel, including Special Agent Peter Strzok, who was later removed from the team and fired by the Justice Department; Strzok has since filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. Smith can avoid tripping a similar explosive wire by selecting a team that is defined by its prior professional expertise, not its prior political views or associations. He also needs to be wary of creative avenues to indict Trump. Smith was part of the prosecution team that convicted former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) on federal corruption charges in 2014. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned that conviction as having stretched the law beyond its breaking point. If Smith is going to be the first prosecutor to indict a former president, he needs to do so with unimpeachable evidence of an unchallengeable crime.

Only one thing is certain in any of this: It will not end well. With both sides loading up staff and subpoenas, the start of the 2024 campaign season has all of the makings of an utter bloodletting. There will be ample support for both sides to fulfill their respective narratives — and no shortage of legal weapons — in this political war of attrition.

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Talk about a swamp…

New Trump Special Prosecutor Overturned By Supreme Court (JTN)

The special counsel named by the Biden administration to investigate Donald Trump oversaw a Justice Department unit rebuked by the Supreme Court for its prosecution of a prominent Republican and was linked by Congress to the IRS scandal that targeted conservative groups. Jack Smith, a war crimes prosecutor in The Hague and former chief of the DOJ public integrity section, was named Friday by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over two investigations of Trump related to Jan. 6 and classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. In 2014, the House Oversight Committee concluded that during Smith’s earlier stint at DOJ he set up a critical meeting between his department and IRS official Lois Lerner that set in motion the targeting of conservative nonprofits that became one of the signature scandals of the Obama administration.

The Oversight Committee obtained testimony from a DOJ official named Richard Pilger in 2014 that showed Smith set up a meeting with Lerner to discuss more aggressive enforcement of regulations prohibiting tax-exempt groups from engaging in politics in the aftermath of the landmark Citizens United free speech Supreme Court case. “According to Mr. Pilger, the Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits,” the committee wrote in a 2014 letter to DOJ. “This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”

The letter concluded: “It is apparent that the Department’s leadership, including Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith, was closely involved in engaging with the IRS in wake of Citizens United and political pressure from prominent Democrats to address perceived problems with the decision.” The letter, which sought a transcribed interview with Smith, was signed by then Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is now in line to become House Judiciary Committee chairman when the GOP takes over the House in January. The Treasury Department Inspector General ultimately concluded that the ensuing IRS pursuit of conservative nonprofits was inappropriate. “The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention,” the report concluded.

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It can only hold in times of plenty and peace.

“What did Ursula von der Leyen say about Italy? If Italy elects the wrong parties during parliamentary elections, the EU “has tools” to coerce them, as in the case of Poland and Hungary.”

The Non-Existent European Identity (Remix)

A top-down approach to forcibly create a common identity has never worked, and it never will. Despite the spasmodic efforts of the leftist media dictatorship, its dominance has up until now failed to force the public opinion of European countries into believing the old continent is united. Few in the West dare to contradict this, while the opinions of the East are ignored. This pretentious outlook — detached from the reality of the world — is presented to Europeans on a daily basis, but it instead serves as clear proof that those who are pushing the cause the most aggessively do not themselves believe in the thesis they claim is their own. What did Ursula von der Leyen say about Italy? If Italy elects the wrong parties during parliamentary elections, the EU “has tools” to coerce them, as in the case of Poland and Hungary.

This is what European unity looks like per the left-liberal authoritarian concept. We have heard many and varied answers to the question of why, but very few have tackled the question regarding the lack of European identity. Brussels, the left-liberal media, and the NGO networks that dictate EU policy are not the only ones who have tried and failed to forge a common European identity. Notably, Tito tried to forge a unified southern Slavic nation-state out of the diverse Yugoslavia, and his one-party dictatorship did its best to stifle dissent. The party leader, born a Croatian-Slovenian, even divorced his Serbian wife when she warned him that greater autonomy for the member republics — which Tito believed would quell the nationalist fervor that was smoldering everywhere — would tear Yugoslavia apart. The Serbian woman was right because Tito’s measures had inflamed rather than quelled nationalist sentiment.

The powerful leader forgot one thing. There was no real substance behind the party and state propaganda, which constantly talked about a united Yugoslavia. Indeed, Yugoslav identity had not emerged in the seven decades of the South Slav state. How did the philosopher John Lukacs put it? The most powerful builder of identity for people is belonging to a nation, and ignoring such basic truths in politics has fatal consequences. At the last census of Yugoslavia, only 20,000 people identified themselves as Yugoslavs. For a country of 23 million people, this is an extremely low number and would have a negligible social impact.

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Arizona voting

 

 

 

 

Peacock

 

 

Family Walk
https://twitter.com/i/status/1594652358658736131

 

 

 

 

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Jul 222022
 


Pablo Picasso Dora Maar with green nails 1936

 

EU To Face ‘Infinitely’ Higher Energy Prices Because Of Sanctions – Banker (RT)
EU Proposes Voluntary Goal For Countries To Cut Gas Use By 15% (R.)
Sinking Germany (D’Eramo)
Why Nord Stream II Must Be Opened Immediately (MoA)
Russia Will Expand Goals in Ukraine Over Weapon Transfers: Lavrov (Celente)
Corruption Concerns Involving Ukraine Revived As War With Russia Drags On (AP)
Ukraine Uses Russian Invasion to Wreck Workers’ Rights (CN)
Ukrainian Official Continues Offending Germans After Losing His Post In Berlin (RT)
Ukraine War Must End To Prevent Nuclear ‘Abyss’ – Lukashenko (AFP)
South American Trade Bloc Snubs Zelensky (RT)
The Brutal Reality Of The US-UK ‘Special Relationship’ (Chomsky)
‘Emotion And Pain’ As Dutch Farmers Fight Against Huge Cuts To Livestock (G.)
The Media Starts the Spin on Possible Hunter Biden Charges (Turley)
Fauci, Biden Officials Subpoenaed Over Collusion To Suppress Free Speech (JTN)
1 in 5,000 COVID Shots Caused ‘Serious Side Effects’ (CHD)

 

 

 

 

Joe Trumpo
https://twitter.com/i/status/1550144764523077633

 

 

 

 

Weather channel classic
https://twitter.com/i/status/1549922559658848258

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The IMF warned on Tuesday that Germany, the EU’s chief economic powerhouse, risks losing almost 5% of its GDP if Russia completely shuts off its gas supply.”

EU To Face ‘Infinitely’ Higher Energy Prices Because Of Sanctions – Banker (RT)

The EU rushed to back Ukraine without asking its businesses or citizens for permission and now the European economy is suffering the most from the anti-Russia sanctions, French investment banker Philippe Villin has said. European politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels threw their support behind Ukraine “without a democratic debate,” Villin wrote in an op-ed published by Le Figaro on Monday. “What is worse, they did not even consider it useful to consult with us about the military escalation, or the terrible consequences of the sanctions for our economies,” he said. Villin stressed that the world economy had already been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as tension between China and Taiwan, who are both vital to the global supply chain. The current crisis also spurred inflation, including energy price hikes and the risk of shortages.

“And the worst thing is that Europe is suffering from the increase of the prices of energy and raw materials far more than the United States or China,” Villin wrote. The fact is that, as a consequence of the sanctions, energy prices will be infinitely higher in Europe than anywhere else. The banker added that businesses would “lose huge shares of the market” and be forced to cut jobs if the crisis escalated. “I hope that, before our people eventually revolt, a quick electric shock will open up a political debate, in which we, citizens and business leaders, could challenge our blind politicians and Eurocrats, who are leading us to ruin by lying to us.” Many countries, including EU members, imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia after Moscow launched a military campaign against Ukraine in late February.

On Thursday, Russian gas giant Gazprom resumed the flow of gas to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline following a 10-day shutdown for maintenance. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously urged EU nations to cut the use of gas by 15% between August and June in case Moscow decided to end deliveries. The IMF warned on Tuesday that Germany, the EU’s chief economic powerhouse, risks losing almost 5% of its GDP if Russia completely shuts off its gas supply.

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Greece, Spain and Portugal immediately said no. Others will follow. I’m starting to wonder if the EU will make it to Christmas.

EU Proposes Voluntary Goal For Countries To Cut Gas Use By 15% (R.)

The European Union set out emergency plans on Wednesday for countries to cut their gas use by 15% until March, warning them that without deep cuts now they could struggle for fuel during winter if Russia cuts off supply. Europe is racing to fill its gas storage ahead of winter and build a buffer in case Moscow further restricts supplies in retaliation for European support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. A dozen EU countries are already facing reduced Russian deliveries. EU officials say a full Russian gas halt is likely. read more The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a voluntary target for all EU countries to cut gas use by 15% from August to March, compared with their average consumption in the same period during 2016-2021.

The proposal would enable Brussels to make the target mandatory in a supply emergency, if the EU declares a substantial risk of severe gas shortages. The regulation needs approval from a reinforced majority of EU countries. Country diplomats are set to discuss it on Friday, with the aim of approving it at an emergency meeting of their energy ministers on July 26. “Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon. And therefore, in any event, whether it’s a partial, major cut-off of Russian gas or a total cut-off of Russian gas, Europe needs to be ready,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. The plan has faced resistance from some countries, which feel their contingency plans do not need reinforcement from the EU.

Countries would be required to update their emergency gas plans by end-September to show how they will meet the EU target.Among those opposed is Poland, which has filled its gas storage to 98% of capacity after Russia cut its supply in April. Others have less stored, such as Hungary, which is at 47% full.But EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said countries have reduced their combined gas demand by just 5% despite months of dwindling supplies from Russia and soaring prices, with deeper cuts urgently needed. A 15% cut would save about 45 billion cubic metres of gas from August-March. Russia supplied 40% of the EU’s gas before its invasion of Ukraine, or around 155 bcm per year, but flows have since plummeted.

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“The new Iron Curtain has been raised, and won’t be crossed for years to come.”

Sinking Germany (D’Eramo)

Each day, then, we discover new difficulties in decoupling Russia from the global economy. This is partly because sanctions have proven less effective than predicted, despite the tenacious efforts of the US and Europe. To date, there have been at least six sets of successive sanctions, each more drastic than the last: the removal of Russia from the international financial system operated by SWIFT; the freezing of the Russian Central Bank’s foreign reserves, which amounted to around $630 billion; the freezing of $600 million deposited by Russia in American banks, and the refusal to accept these funds as payment for Russia’s foreign debt; the exclusion of Russia’s most important banks from the City of London; and the restriction of Russian deposits in British banks.

Western airports (and airspace) are now closed to Russian planes, and the Russian merchant navy is forbidden from docking in Western ports (Japan and Australia included). Technological exports to Russia are banned, as are many imports. The European Union has sanctions in place against 98 entities and 1,158 individuals, including President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov; oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin like Roman Abramovich; 351 representatives to the Duma; members of Russia’s National Security Council; high-ranking officers of the armed forces; entrepreneurs and financiers; propagandists and actors. All Western banks and a majority of Western companies have closed shop in Russia and sold their branches. Russia has responded by banning the export of more than 200 products, demanding ruble payments for oil and gas exports, and blocking provisions to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland when they refused to accept this stipulation.

Paradoxically, though, certain sanctions have played into Moscow’s hands. The embargo on oil and gas has increased Russian revenues due to the price rises it has caused, while foreign observers note that Russian supermarket shelves still seem to be well-stocked. In the first four months of the year, Russia’s balance of trade ran its highest surplus since 1994, at $96 billion. Yet, after its initial collapse during the first days of the war, the ruble gradually recovered, such that it is now worth more than it was last year. In 2021, 70 rubles were needed to buy a dollar. On 7 March – its worst day – that figure had nearly doubled; but as of 18 July it dropped back down to 57.

The relative inefficacy of sanctions was predictable. If decades of economic warfare had proved incapable of bringing down effectively defenceless regimes such as Castro’s Cuba (by now targeted for over 70 years), Bolivarian Venezuela (30 years) or Khomeinist Iran (42 years of American sanctions, plus around ten years of international measures), it’s difficult to imagine them triggering regime change in a country like Russia, which has been preparing for this eventuality by revamping its industrial capacities. Yet the more ineffective the sanctions the more the war drags on, lurching from one escalation to the next, and deepening divisions that seem ever more irremediable. By now we can assume that relations with Russia will be interrupted for at least some decades (a regrettable situation for any Westerner who hasn’t had the good fortune to visit Moscow and St Petersburg). The new Iron Curtain has been raised, and won’t be crossed for years to come.

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“..when the public has no gas to even take a shower or cannot buy oil and flour at the supermarket, what is the meaning of the “security” the European politicians tout?”

Why Nord Stream II Must Be Opened Immediately (MoA)

The German and other European governments have pledged to suicide the German economy and the wealth of their citizens solely out of spite over the Russian government’s action in the Ukraine. They deny that it is THEIR action that is causing the crisis. [..] They, and their media, ignore that Russia has had, and has, sound reasons to defend the Donbas republics. They do not tell you that the Ukraine, in late February, had planned and was ready to attack the citizens of Donetzk and Luhansk with overwhelming force. Here is additional evidence for that: “OSCE Reports Reveal Ukraine Started Shelling The Donbas Nine Days Before Russia’s ‘Special Military Operation'”

They deny that Ukraine is controlled by extreme right wing elements. They deny that there are full fledged Nazis formations in control of Ukraine even as their own media have for years warned of those. They are lying to you. All German natural gas storage sites can be filled to the brim via Nord Stream II if the Germany government would allow for it. It does not do so. That is the reason why you in Europe will to have pay much more for heating and electricity in the months and years to come. Russia will win the war. It is only a question of time. Meanwhile the sanctions will impoverish Europe:

“[C]an the European public wait? Before the sanctions have a “desired effect,” it is the ordinary people that will suffer. Russia’s economy is still standing, but the crisis has cast a long shadow over European economies. Leaders of EU countries face low growth and record inflation. The euro is at parity with the dollar. According to a Bloomberg report, the European Commission is set to warn that a halt of Russian gas supplies to the EU could potentially reduce its GDP by as much as 1.5 percent. The EU is well in a position to find out that it is not that Russia cannot live without Europe, but Europe cannot live without Russia. EU’s sanctions against Russia serve as a boomerang. After all, it is the European public that is paying the price for the decision of policymakers. European politicians talk in high spirits about what kinds of sanctions would hurt Russia most and that aligning with the US makes them more secure. But when the public has no gas to even take a shower or cannot buy oil and flour at the supermarket, what is the meaning of the “security” the European politicians tout?”

It is on you to expose the politicians behind these sanctions and to force them to change course. Your well being depends on that.

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There is talk of Ukrainian counteroffensives in Kherson and Crimea. Bad idea.

Russia Will Expand Goals in Ukraine Over Weapon Transfers: Lavrov (Celente)

Russia’s top diplomat signaled Wednesday that Moscow will expand its goals in Ukraine due to Kyiv’s increased weapon capacity due to Western intervention. Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, said in an interview with state media that Russia’s military is no longer “only” focused on the eastern part of Ukraine. He implied that Moscow’s strategy has changed after Western intervention with longer-range weapons, the BBC reported. He told Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT, that Moscow cannot allow the remaining region of Ukraine controlled by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces to “possess weapons that would pose a direct threat to our territory.” “The geography is different now,” he said. He now named Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as new objectives, the report said.


Kherson is considered valuable real estate and is a shipbuilding center. The New York Times reported that the area has been a Russian staging ground in recent weeks. There are reports that Ukraine could be staging a counteroffensive there. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said the window of opportunity for Ukraine could be closing before the Kremlin annexes that territory. Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern forces, told the paper that Ukraine’s single goal is to reclaim all its territory. Lavrov took particular issue with the U.S.’s decision to provide Ukraine with HIMARS. He called out the “impotent anger” and a “desire to make things worse.”

French howitzers
https://twitter.com/i/status/1550047368782876672

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AP tries to connect the corruption to Russia. They should look at Zelensky and Kolomoisky.

Corruption Concerns Involving Ukraine Revived As War With Russia Drags On (AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s dismissal of senior officials is casting an inconvenient light on an issue that the Biden administration has largely ignored since the outbreak of war with Russia: Ukraine’s history of rampant corruption and shaky governance. As it presses ahead with providing tens of billions of dollars in military, economic and direct financial support aid to Ukraine and encourages its allies to do the same, the Biden administration is now once again grappling with longstanding worries about Ukraine’s suitability as a recipient of massive infusions of American aid. Those issues, which date back decades and were not an insignificant part of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, had been largely pushed to the back burner in the immediate run-up to Russia’s invasion and during the first months of the conflict as the U.S. and its partners rallied to Ukraine’s defense.

But Zelenskyy’s weekend firings of his top prosecutor, intelligence chief and other senior officials have resurfaced those concerns and may have inadvertently given fresh attention to allegations of high-level corruption in Kyiv made by one outspoken U.S. lawmaker. It’s a delicate issue for the Biden administration. With billions in aid flowing to Ukraine, the White House continues to make the case for supporting Zelenskyy’s government to an American public increasingly focused on domestic issues like high gas prices and inflation. High-profile supporters of Ukraine in both parties also want to avoid a backlash that could make it more difficult to pass future aid packages. U.S. officials are quick to say that Zelenskyy is well within his right to appoint whomever he wants to senior positions, including the prosecutor general, and remove anyone who he sees as collaborating with Russia.

Yet even as Russian troops were massing near the Ukrainian border last fall, the Biden administration was pushing Zelenskyy to do more to act on corruption — a perennial U.S. demand going back to Ukraine’s early days of independence. “In all of our relationships, and including in this relationship, we invest not in personalities; we invest in institutions, and, of course, President Zelenskyy has spoken to his rationale for making these personnel shifts,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday. Price declined to comment further on Zelenskyy’s reasoning for the dismissals or address the specifics but said there was no question that Russia has been trying to interfere in Ukraine. “Moscow has long sought to subvert, to destabilize the Ukrainian government,” Price said. “Ever since Ukraine chose the path of democracy and a Western orientation this has been something that Moscow has sought to subvert.”

George Webb Kolomoisky

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Nice country.

Ukraine Uses Russian Invasion to Wreck Workers’ Rights (CN)

The Ukrainian parliament has passed two new radical measures on labour liberalisation, prompting fears of Ukrainians losing workplace rights permanently as Russia’s war puts huge pressure on the country’s economy. In two laws passed on Monday and Tuesday, MPs voted to legalise “zero-hours contracts” and made moves towards removing up to 70 percent of the country’s workforce from protections guaranteed by national labour law. The latter measure means the national labour code no longer applies to employees of small- and medium-sized enterprises; instead, it is proposed that each worker strikes an individual labour agreement with their employer. It also removes the legal authority of trade unions to veto workplace dismissals.

Draft law 5371 had previously been criticised by the International Labor Organization, as well as Ukrainian and European trade unions, on the basis that it could “infringe international labour standards.” Ukraine’s ruling Servant of the People party argued that the “extreme over-regulation of employment contradicts the principles of market self-regulation [and] modern personnel management.” Red tape in Ukraine’s HR laws, it suggested, “creates bureaucratic barriers both for the self-realisation of employees and for raising the competitiveness of employers.” The Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine will now ask President Volodymyr Zelensky to veto draft law 5371 when it goes to him for signature — but will not make the same request over the proposed law on zero-hours contracts, Ukrainian MP Vadym Ivchenko told openDemocracy.

Nataliia Lomonosova, an analyst at Ukrainian think tank Cedos, warned that the two laws could further deteriorate an already difficult socio-economic situation for Ukrainians suffering from Russia’s military campaign. According to the U.N.’s latest numbers, Russia’s invasion has led to at least 7 million people becoming displaced inside Ukraine itself, which has been compounded by a severe economic crisis hitting families and individuals hard. At the same time, the World Bank has predicted that Ukraine’s economy will contract by 45 percent this year.

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“Melnik blasted Kretschmer, accusing him of “constant pandering” to Putin and calling his approach “disgusting.”

Don’t even mention peace!

Ukrainian Official Continues Offending Germans After Losing His Post In Berlin (RT)

The former Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin, Andrey Melnik, slammed the minister president of the eastern German state of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, after he said Europe should mediate a ceasefire between Kiev and Moscow instead of adding more fuel to the fire in the ongoing conflict. “Ukrainians are in favor of you sticking your head in a freezer to freeze your hot Russia fantasies,” the outspoken Ukrainian diplomat wrote in a Twitter post addressed to Kretschmer on Tuesday. The former ambassador’s rant was sparked by the prime minister of Saxony’s call for Europe and Germany to help ‘freeze’ the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev and not to abandon Russian energy imports.

The conflict is throwing Europe and the entire world into chaos, Kretschmer told journalists on Tuesday. He warned that Europe risks losing the economic strength needed to maintain security and remain competitive on the world stage, adding: “We have to work to ensure that this war is frozen.” He also characterized Europe’s position on the conflict as “very one-sided” – helping Ukraine win and completely abandoning Russian energy – which he said is a mistake. “I firmly believe that we need these supplies of raw materials,” Kretschmer said, adding that European leaders “must together try to … influence Russian President [Vladimir Putin] and convince Ukraine that we all have to freeze this conflict together.”

Melnik blasted Kretschmer, accusing him of “constant pandering” to Putin and calling his approach “disgusting.” The minister president of Saxony faced a barrage of criticism from fellow politicians at home as well. The general secretary of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), Bijan Djir-Sarai, accused him of failing to understand the threat Russia supposedly poses. “Thank God this man is not responsible for our foreign policy,” he said. Green politician Jamila Schaefer told German tabloid Bild that Kretschmer’s suggestion “damages the reputation of the Federal Republic of Germany,”accusing him of “dangerous ignorance.” Kretschmer’s fellow Christian Democrats were just as critical. MP Matthias Hauer tweeted that his position does not reflect that of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

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I said: Don’t mention peace!

Ukraine War Must End To Prevent Nuclear ‘Abyss’ – Lukashenko (AFP)

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Thursday said Russia, Ukraine and the West must agree to halt the Ukraine conflict to avoid the “abyss of nuclear war” and insisted Kyiv should accept Moscow’s demands. “We must stop, reach an agreement, end this mess, operation and war in Ukraine,” Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top ally, told AFP in an exclusive interview in Minsk. “Let’s stop and then we will figure out how to go on living,” he said during the one-hour interview at the Palace of Independence. “There’s no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war. There’s no need to go there,” he said, speaking on the 148th day of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

Lukashenko accused the West of seeking a conflict with Russia and of provoking the Ukraine war. “You have fomented the war and are continuing it,” he said. “We have seen the reasons for this war,” he added. “If Russia had not got ahead of you, members of NATO, you would have organised and struck a blow against it,” he said, echoing Putin. Belarus has served as a staging ground for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, but Lukashenko has so far avoided becoming a party to the conflict. Analysts say that he is keenly aware of the fact that most Belarusians do not support sending troops into Ukraine. The 67-year-old leader, who has ruled Belarus for nearly three decades, insisted that Kyiv authorities can end the war if they re-start talks with Moscow and accept its demands.

“Everything depends on Ukraine,” he said. “Right now, the peculiarity of the moment is that this war can be ended on more acceptable terms for Ukraine.” He urged Kyiv authorities to “sit down at the negotiating table and agree that they will never threaten Russia”. Talks between Russia and Ukraine largely ground to a halt in mid-April. Lukashenko said that Ukraine must accept the loss of territory occupied by Russia in eastern and southern Ukraine. “This is no longer being discussed,” he said. “One could have discussed this in February or March.”

Lukashenko

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First Africa, now South America. They prefer BRICS.

South American Trade Bloc Snubs Zelensky (RT)

South America’s Mercosur trade bloc has declined a request by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to speak at its summit, host nation Paraguay said on Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency. Mercosur members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay failed to reach an agreement on whether to invite the Ukrainian leader, Deputy Foreign Minister, Raul Cano said, albeit refusing to name the countries that opposed the move. “There was no consensus on such communication, that’s why the Ukrainian counterpart has already been informed that under current circumstances there are no conditions allowing to speak with the president of Ukraine in the Mercosur format,” the minister explained.


Earlier this month, Julio Cesar Arriola, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister, said that Zelensky had talked with Mario Abdo Benitez, the nation’s president, on the phone and asked for the opportunity to address the upcoming Mercosur summit. According to Arriola, Benitez promised to discuss the matter with his colleagues in the bloc. Mercosur is an economic and political organization that was established in 1991 to create a common market and incentivize development in South America. After Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, Zelensky has addressed a slew of national parliaments and major international forums, including NATO, the G7 and the UN in an effort to rally countries to Kiev’s cause and help it fight off Moscow’s offensive. However, in late June, when the Ukrainian president took part in a virtual meeting with the African Union, only a handful of leaders reportedly tuned in to listen to his speech. Following the conference call, the President of Senegal and African Union Chairperson, Macky Sall, indicated that Africa’s position of neutrality over the conflict in Ukraine remained unchanged.

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“..that the United States stands for something in the world – something of which the world has need, something which the world is going to like, something, in the final analysis, which the world is going to take, whether it likes it or not.”

The Brutal Reality Of The US-UK ‘Special Relationship’ (Chomsky)

The abject submission of British authorities to the Master in Washington in the case of journalist Julian Assange is painful to observe but – unfortunately – not difficult to understand. The roots go back to the Second World War, when Britain handed the mantle of world domination over to its former colony. The US had long surpassed the UK as an economic power and had displaced it from “our little region over here,” as Secretary of War Henry Stimson described the Western hemisphere. But it had not yet become a truly global power. At the time, British officials were well aware that the UK was becoming a “junior partner” to the US, now subject to its will, which was often exercised crudely.

Given their own ample experience with imperial arrogance, brutality and hypocrisy, British diplomats could easily read between the lines when their American counterparts protested that US global domination is “part of our obligation to the security of the world…what was good for us was good for the world”, as Abe Fortas, a leading figure in the New Deal administrations, put it. The British Foreign Office, parsing this apparent altruistic concern, concluded that Washington was, in fact, guided by “the economic imperialism of American business interests” and was “attempting to elbow us out…under the cloak of a benevolent and avuncular internationalism”.

UK officials continued that their American counterparts believe “that the United States stands for something in the world – something of which the world has need, something which the world is going to like, something, in the final analysis, which the world is going to take, whether it likes it or not.” What true believers in the historical profession call “Wilsonian idealism”. From then, Britain takes it, whether it likes it or not. Things could have gone a different way at various points in modern history, recently if Jeremy Corbyn hadn’t been destroyed by a vicious media campaign. But today’s British authorities just take the orders and Julian Assange is one of the victims.

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10,000 Dutch farmers risk losing their farms altogether. This will not be accepted.

‘Emotion And Pain’ As Dutch Farmers Fight Against Huge Cuts To Livestock (G.)

Along roads and bridges in the Netherlands, people are hanging the Dutch flag upside down. It is a sign of solidarity with the Dutch farming sector, which will also be upturned by a radical 30% reduction in livestock numbers, a move being made to meet environmental targets. In recent weeks, farmers have blocked off food distribution centres with hundreds of tractors, blockaded major roads and turned up outside regional assemblies and ministers’ homes to protest. One late-night protest ended with a police officer accused of firing a gun at a 16-year-old farmer’s son. It comes as authorities in the Netherlands have released details of the cuts in ammonia, nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide needed to protect more than 150 nature reserves in the country. And it is the farming sector that is going to bear the brunt of emissions cuts.

“This is not a democracy any more: it’s a dictatorship,” says Jeroen van Maanen, a farmer with 130 cows in Zeewolde, central Netherlands, who has joined the protests. Manure, when mixed with urine, releases ammonia, a nitrogen compound. If it enters lakes and streams via farm runoff, excessive nitrogen can damage sensitive natural habitats. The country has the seventh biggest livestock population in the EU but is comparatively small in size. This gives it Europe’s highest livestock density, with insufficient land to make good use of the waste from more than 100 million cattle, chickens and pigs. Van Maanen says farmers are being unfairly targeted: “If you come for us and our families, you come at a farmer’s soul,” he says. “We’ve proposed all kinds of solutions but we are ignored.

“And finally, they come up with a plan for a reduction in livestock. No other sector has reduced nitrogen in the last 30 years [as much as] we have. This is why there’s a lot of emotion and pain.” The latest government coalition has not, so far, been dissuaded by the protests from its drive to tackle the country’s environmental problems. After a landmark court ruling in 2019, it needs to reduce nitrogen emissions in order to allow building projects to go-ahead in the country. There is no choice, says Rudi Buis, spokesperson for the agriculture ministry. “Even if you stop with the policy tomorrow, the problem doesn’t go away. If you want to build a house or a road, a lawyer will say: first reduce nitrogen and then you get a licence. We have to do something. It’s not a luxury. It has to happen.” [..] “We know exactly what allowance each farmer has and what they produce, while a lot of industrial companies don’t need permission – but they emit nitrogen.”

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“..,the position of Attorney General Garland has gone from dubious to ridiculous..”

The Media Starts the Spin on Possible Hunter Biden Charges (Turley)

The media is reporting that the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden is at a “critical stage” with the grand jury considering an array of charges including various tax violations and possible foreign lobbying violations. I previously testified in Congress on possible criminal exposure for Hunter under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). There seems ample evidence for such charges but there remain some glaring questions in how the Biden Administration has handled the investigation of the Biden family. What is also striking is the initial response of pundits on cable channels like MSNBC that has long ignored or downplayed the allegations. The most glaring question raised by the report is, again, the refusal of Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a Special Counsel despite overwhelming justification for such an appointment.

For over a year, I have been writing on the obvious need for a special counsel in an investigation that not only is embarrassing for the Biden family but implicates not just Hunter but his uncle and his father. Given this mounting evidence, the position of Attorney General Garland has gone from dubious to ridiculous in evading the issue of a special counsel appointment. He continues to refuse to acknowledge these conflicts with the President. Federal regulations allow the appointment of a special counsel when it is in the public interest and an “investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”

It is hard to imagine a stronger case for the appointment of a special counsel. Attorney General Garland has failed in his duty to protect the Justice Department from such conflicts or the appearance of such conflicts. There will be lingering questions over the independence of the investigation. For example, if you are investigating lobbying violations tied to Hunter’s open influence peddling, why would you not ask to question the man referred to as the “big guy” who was purportedly cut in for a ten percent share of one of the most dubious deals? He is also the same man who reportedly received money from shared accounts and was referenced by Hunter to foreign clients as part of the inducement for giving him money. He is the object of the influence peddling. He is also now the President of the United States.

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“..information was requested in identifying all communications with any social media platform relating to content modulation and/or misinformation.”

Fauci, Biden Officials Subpoenaed Over Collusion To Suppress Free Speech (JTN)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, other Biden administration officials and five social media companies have 30 days to respond to subpoenas in a lawsuit alleging collusion to suppress freedom of speech. Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry were granted permission to proceed with the discovery phase of the trial last week in a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty. In addition to Fauci, who announced earlier this week he would retire in 2025, and Jean-Pierre, discovery requests were served to ask for information and documents from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Jen Easterly and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Nina Jankowicz, who led the DHS Disinformation Governance Board until it was disbanded.

Third-party subpoenas were served to Twitter, YouTube, Meta, Instagram and LinkedIn. A media release from Schmitt, a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, said information was requested in identifying all communications with any social media platform relating to content modulation and/or misinformation. The suit requests all communications with Mark Zuckerberg from Jan. 1, 2020, to the present. Also requested were any communications to any social media platform relating to the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a letter published in October 2020 in response to COVID-19 policies that recommended “focused protection” — an approach to reaching herd immunity by allowing those at minimal risk of death to live normal lives by building up immunity through natural infection while protecting those at highest risk.

“In May, Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding with social media giants to suppress free speech on topics like COVID-19 and election security,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Earlier this month, a federal court granted our motion for expedited discovery, allowing us to collect important documents from Biden Administration officials. Yesterday, we served discovery requests and today served third-party subpoenas to do exactly that. We will fight to get to the bottom of this alleged collusion and expose the suppression of freedom of speech by social-media giants at the behest of top-ranking government officials.”

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at least 38,000 severe cases

1 in 5,000 COVID Shots Caused ‘Serious Side Effects’ (CHD)

The German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) on Wednesday posted a “stunning tweet” admitting 1 of every 5,000 COVID-19 vaccinations cause “serious side effects.”Although likely an “underestimation” due to voluntary reporting, according to Alex Berenson, the admission implies almost 300,000 Americans and Europeans have experienced a severe adverse event after receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Translated, the tweet says, “One in 5000 people is affected by a serious side effect after a COVID19 vaccination. If you suspect an adverse reaction, get medical attention and report your symptoms to @PEI_Germany.” The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), which uses the handle “@PEI-Germany” is Germany’s federal institute for vaccines and biomedical drugs.

The figure came from a PEI safety report summarizing suspected cases of side effects and vaccination complications that were reported to PEI between Dec. 27, 2020, when Germany launched its vaccination campaign, and March 31, 2022. During that time, 172,062,925 vaccinations were administered in Germany — of those, 17.1% were Spikevax, 7.4% were AstraZeneca, 2.1% were Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and 0.1% were Novavax. During the same time period, PEI received 296,233 reports of suspected side effects. The reporting rate was 1.7 per 1,000 vaccine doses for all vaccines combined and 0.2 serious reaction reports per 1,000 doses. So, the 1 in 5,000 people experiencing a serious reaction is actually 1 in 5,000 doses.

PEI on Thursday corrected its tweet to reflect accurate numbers. According to @PEI_Germany, “the reporting rate for serious reactions is 0.2 reports per 1,000 vaccine doses,” the Tweet read. “The German admission today marks at least a small — and long overdue — step toward honesty from public health authorities on the COVID jabs,” said Berenson, a New York Times bestselling author who writes regularly on Substack. Reacting to the updated tweet from Germany’s Health Ministry, one person said, “It’s even worse, it’s 1 DOSE, not one in 5,000 people …”

Wolensky

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Vandana Shiva: “THIS Is Bill Gates’s Farming Agenda”

 

 


The Oriental dwarf kingfisher averages 13 cm (5.1 in) in length

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

May 232022
 
 May 23, 2022  Posted by at 8:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Eugène Delacroix Pietà 1837

 

Want To See The Scale Of DC Corruption? (CTH)
Apparently Mueller and Weissmann Never Interviewed Robby Mook (CTH)
Sussmann Peddled Anti-Trump Claims To CIA After The Election (WT)
Baker Says FBI Investigated Sussmann Alfa Bank Claims: Nothing There (Fox)
Azov Surrenders. Who Will Be The Sacred Martyr Now? (Milacic)
Operation Z – Dumb Bombs Go To School (Sonar21)
Germans ‘Schwedt’ Hard For Russian Oil (Vilches)
Is Subject #12312982 the Key to Proving Pfizer Vaccine Trial Fraud? (JJ)
Rubio Accuses Google of Election Bias, Censoring Campaign Emails (ET)
Bullwhip Effect: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff (ZH)
How the United States Conquered Inflation Following the Civil War (FEE)
Pressure Mounts on Patel Over Assange Decision (Lauria)

 

 

 

 

Pepe Press Project

 

 

Twitter thread by “sundance”. The swamp is deep and smelly.

Want To See The Scale Of DC Corruption? (CTH)

Want to see the scale of DC corruption?… Start with this question: Why did Andrew Weissman release the Carter Page FISA application in July of 2018? At the apex of the special counsel cover-up operation, Andrew Weissman released the Carter Page FISA application, using the ridiculous justification of a FOIA request. No one asked “why”? Everyone was so intoxicated by the first ever release of a TSCI FISA, they never paused to ask the question. However, the answer reveals just how brutally corrupt the special counsel cover up operation was. The FISA application was released, because it was the central focus of the James Wolfe criminal indictment. Senate Intel Committee Security Director James Wolfe was busted leaking material from SSCI SCIF. Wolfe leaked the FISA application to journalist Ali Watkins.

The Wolfe leak of the FISA application was a very serious problem for both the special counsel and the SSCI. So, before the DC US Attorney could put those charges into the official court record, Weissman found out and publicly released it. Thereby the special counsel proactively undermined any criminal charge that would be levied against Mr. Wolfe, and subsequently, importantly, protected the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Why did the Special Counsel need to protect James Wolfe from the consequences of his leaking the Carter Page FISA application? Because James Wolfe was told to leak the Top Secret Classified FISA application by Senate Committee Vice-Chairman, Senator Mark Warner. Why did Senator Mark Warner originally tell James Wolfe to leak the Carter Page FISA application to Ali Watkins? ANSWER: Because SSCI Vice-Chairman Warner was trying desperately to get enough pressure in DC to appoint a special counsel.

The leak took place on March 17, 2017, amid the DC furor to get a Trump-Russia special counsel at all costs. The special counsel was appointed, in part, due to the public pressure created by the open admission of an internal FBI investigation of President Trump, which *importantly* at the time of the leak (3/17/17), was still being denied. It wasn’t until (conveniently & not coincidentally) three days later on March 20, 2017, when FBI Director James Comey admitted before congress that yes, President Trump was actually under an open FBI investigation. Fast forward to late 2017, early 2018, and the Wolfe FISA leak is now part of a criminal investigation and criminal indictment (unsealed June 7, 2018)

As soon as the Wolfe indictment was unsealed, the special counsel jumped into action to remove the most explosive element, the FISA leak, from any potential courtroom. The fear was Wolfe wasn’t about to go to prison for leaking a document he was told to leak. The ramifications were tremendous for everyone, including the special counsel. The revelation of a coordinated multi-branch effort to target Trump would crush the Weissman agenda. Wolfe’s lawyers knew how to leverage the fear within DC to get the best outcome for their client. Cunning Weissman knew by publicly releasing the FISA application, using the goofy and easily dismissible justification of a FOIA request, he could remove that element from the criminal case. Which is exactly what happened.

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WSJ op-ed (see below): “The Russia-Trump narrative that Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country. It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three-year investigation to nowhere. Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage.”

Apparently Mueller and Weissmann Never Interviewed Robby Mook (CTH)

Special Prosecutor John Durham found the truth behind the creation of the Trump-Russia hoax, and through the trial of Sussmann is now diligently passing out the bitter pill ‘I toldyaso’s’ to the small group of rebellious researchers who found this exact trail of evidence years ago. The Clinton campaign lying is politics. The Clinton campaign selling lies to the media is slimy, but nonetheless politics. The media pushing those lies only showcases how corrupt they are in supporting their political allies. However, the Clinton campaign selling those lies to the FBI is a bit more problematic; thus, the trial of Sussmann. Having said all that; while also accepting this grand game of pretense; there’s an 800lb gorilla in the room that no one seems bothered by.

How did Robert Mueller and Andrew Weissmann spend 2 years investigating Trump-Russia; with a team of 19 lawyers, $40 million in resources, 40 FBI agents, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants and 500 witnesses; and not find out that Hillary Clinton created the hoax they were investigating? [..] The 2017, 2018 and 2019 special counsel probe, led by the nameplate of Robert Mueller, was a DC cover-up operation for FBI and DOJ misconduct. The best defense is a good offense, so they attacked President Trump by maintaining the hoax.

Media people often forget, or perhaps -again- need to pretend not to know; however, the exact same group of FBI and DOJ staff level investigative officials that originated the Trump investigation in 2016, transferred into the Robert Mueller investigation in May 2017. It was the same people, doing the same investigation, under a different title. The Mueller team originally consisted of the same FBI officials who received the Alfa-Bank hoax material from Michael Sussmann. Andrew Weissmann and a group of 19 lawyers joined the effort and pulled in more resources. Yet if we are to believe the current narrative, you would have to believe those same investigators never talked to any Clinton campaign people, or Fusion GPS, or Rodney Joffe, or Marc Elias, or Michael Sussmann?… but wait, I mean, they did.. talk to Sussmann… because….. that’s what this trial is about….


WSJ op-ed

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They wanted a special counsel.

Sussmann Peddled Anti-Trump Claims To CIA After The Election (WT)

Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann peddled his false theories about former President Donald Trump to the CIA in the early days of the Trump administration, two former CIA officials testified Friday. Retired CIA officer Mark Chadason told jurors that he met with Mr. Sussmann for breakfast at a Northern Virginia hotel on Jan. 31, 2017, roughly two weeks after Mr. Trump had been sworn in as president. Mr. Chadason and another retired CIA officer known only as Kevin P. testified in the trial of Mr. Sussmann, who is charged with one count of lying to the FBI when seeking to spur investigations of Trump-Russia conspiracy theories. From the witness stand in a federal courtroom in Washington, Mr. Chadason testified that Mr. Sussmann said he was representing “an engineer with a number of patents” and “a Republican” who had some anti-Trump allegations.

He also described Mr. Sussmann as appearing “frustrated,” and threatened to take his claims to The New York Times if the CIA wasn’t interested. Prosecutors say Mr. Sussmann lied to the FBI in September 2016 when he told bureau lawyer James Baker that he was not representing any client as he turned over documents promoting a false story about Mr. Trump’s link to Russia’s Alfa Bank. The prosecutors accuse Mr. Sussmann of working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, saying he later billed the campaign for his time at the bureau. It is the first trial stemming from special counsel John Durham’s probe of the origins of the FBI’s investigation of Trump-Russia collusion to sway the 2016 presidential election. Defense attorneys say Mr. Sussmann didn’t lie and his connections to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic party were well known to the FBI and Mr. Baker.

After the FBI concluded the allegations were meritless, Mr. Sussmann then turned to the CIA, the officers said. Kevin P. testified that Mr. Sussmann met with him and another CIA officer, known as Steve M. in February 2017. He said that Mr. Sussmann said the Alfa Bank allegations came from “contacts,” not a client. Kevin P. told jurors that during the meeting, Mr. Sussmann noted his contacts with the Democratic National Committee, but made it clear they weren’t involved in the allegations. Mr. Chadason also said that Mr. Sussmann didn’t try to hide his ties to the Clinton campaign and DNC. He later wrote in an email to the CIA that Mr. Sussmann was a “partisan lawyer” and he wasn’t sure what “the real story is here.”

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And there are Comey and McCabe…

Baker Says FBI Investigated Sussmann Alfa Bank Claims: Nothing There (Fox)

The FBI found that “there was nothing there” after investigating the information brought to the bureau in September 2016 by Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann alleging a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank, former FBI General Counsel James Baker testified Thursday. Baker’s testimony came on day four of the Sussmann trial – the first criminal trial stemming from Special Counsel John Durham’s years-long investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. Sussmann has been charged with making a false statement to the FBI when he told Baker in September 2016, less than two months before the presidential election, that he was not doing work “for any client” when he requested and attended a meeting where he presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communicates channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin.

Durham’s team alleges Sussmann was, in fact, doing work for two clients: the Hillary Clinton campaign and a technology executive, Rodney Joffe. Following the meeting with Baker, Sussmann billed the Hillary Clinton campaign for his work. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Baker testified Thursday that the FBI began an investigation into the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations, which lasted “several weeks, maybe a month, maybe a month and a half.” “We concluded there was no substance,” Baker testified. “We couldn’t confirm it. We could not confirm there was a surreptitious communications channel.” Baker added: “There was nothing there.” In testimony on Tuesday afternoon, FBI Special Agent Scott Hellman also said the data revealing the alleged covert communications channel between Trump and Russia that Sussmann brought to the FBI turned out to be untrue, and said he did not agree with the narrative.

Hellman testified that whoever drafted the narrative describing the DNS data was “5150,” and clarified on the stand that meant he believed the individual who came to the conclusions “was suffering from some mental disability.” Baker on Thursday did testify, however, that when Sussmann brought the allegations to him on Sept. 19, 2016, the FBI “was already conducting an investigation into alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russians at this point in time.” Baker said he briefed then-FBI Director James Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe on the Sussmann allegations shortly after they were brought to him. “Here was another type of information between Trump and Russia that had come to me,” Baker said. “It seemed to me of great urgency and great seriousness that I would want to make my bosses aware of this information.” He added: “I think they were quite concerned about it.”

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“..the fact that the best Ukrainian troops surrendered to the Russian army represents a strong psychological blow to the entire Ukrainian army..”

Azov Surrenders. Who Will Be The Sacred Martyr Now? (Milacic)

On the night of May 17, after brief negotiations, Ukrainian army units, blocked by Russian troops at Azovstal in Mariupol, began to surrender. Initially, it was announced that the Ukrainian military wanted to hand over to Russia their wounded whose condition in the cellars of a huge factory was hopeless. However, it soon became clear that the entire “Mariupol garrison” as the remnants of the nationalist volunteer regiment “Azov” and the units of the Ukrainian army that had joined it were called by the Kiev-controlled media, were laying down their arms. So, on the morning of May 17, 90 wounded soldiers were pulled out of the basements and were joined by more than 250 healthy, albeit exhausted and filthy fighters. In a few days, that number reached 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers.

That’s why we wonder, what fate awaits them and other members of the Ukrainian army who surrender to Russian troops? For President Zelensky and his team, Azovstal was a kind of a sacred symbol of Mariupol’s resistance. Many hopes were pinned on the Azov Regiment, considered a terrorist organization in Russia. First of all, those in Kiev believed that the nationalists would hold out to the end and die as heroes, especially since in Russia they face a trial. And they will be lucky if it is in Russia, because in the DPR, unlike in the Russian Federation, they have the death penalty. And still, the Azov fighters began to surrender. In the morning, Russian social networks exploded with indignation after it became known that the militants leaving Azovstal had negotiated a bunch of conditions.

No prosecution, priority exchange, no video footage and respectful treatment. The fuming Russian patriots soon calmed down though. First, because the video with the prisoners almost instantly appeared on TV channels, and second, the State Duma adopted an appeal demanding that new prisoners be carefully filtered out and all those involved in war crimes be brought to justice. In addition, the surrender negotiations went too quickly to discuss exchange conditions and other terms at the highest level. The heroes of “Azov” are also human and just want to live. Even behind bars. This creates very big problems for Kiev, though. The commanders of the Azov Regiment, Svyatoslav Palamar and Denis Prokopenko, two leaders of Ukrainian ultranationalists, also surrendered to the Russian army. In this way, they publicly humiliated all Ukrainian ideology.

Until yesterday, they were celebrated as immortal heroes, who swore that they would lay down their lives for Ukraine in the fight against the Russian occupiers. And despite all that – they surrendered to the Russian army. For official Kiev, only two options were acceptable. The first to liberate Palmar and Prokopenko, along with other Ukrainian soldiers. While the other option was “glorious death”. That is, Palmar and Prokopenko would die in the fight with the Russian army. That would enable Kiev to make Ukrainian anti-Russian heroes out of them. Thus, the fact that the best Ukrainian troops surrendered to the Russian army represents a strong psychological blow to the entire Ukrainian army, especially to the Ukrainian forces in Donbas.

Azov tattoos

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Doohickey.

Operation Z – Dumb Bombs Go To School (Sonar21)

Suppose you knew – to a really high degree of precision – what your altitude was, what your ground speed was, precisely where you were and where the target was. Imagine if you had a set of satellites up there that could tell you all these things. And you also knew a lot of other esoteric things (like the glide characteristics of your bombs) and you had the best possible weather information over your target. All this and every other scrap of information you needed. If you knew all this, and had a computer to work it out, then you could just drop your dumb bomb when the computer told you to and it would passively glide to the target. And that is what the Russians have done. Explained here with more detail but by now you have the idea. The Russian global positioning system – GLONASS – gives them the necessary data, the computer doohickey in the plane calculates and drops the dumb bomb at exactly the right time.


All the data inputs are known to a very high degree of accuracy. The bomb is just as dumb as it ever was but the doohickey on the plane makes it fall at precisely the moment when its dumbness doesn’t matter. For the American solution communication has to be continuous – break the link and Mr Smart Bomb’s IQ drops into single digits. For the Russians, it doesn’t matter – gravity and inertia will get Mr Dumbo to the target – fly in the general direction, push the button, let the computer do the work and forget it. Therefore, Russia doesn’t have any more dumb bombs because it’s figured out a way to make them all smart; and one thing Russia has learned from the World War 2 experience is that you can’t have too much ammunition – there are lots of bombs. But, maybe this is too complicated for our generals – computer game, whatever.

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“Europe and Germany have been forewarned. They better know what they are doing.”

Germans ‘Schwedt’ Hard For Russian Oil (Vilches)

Some may think that refinery feedstocks are like dog food, even interchangeable. Not true. Refineries are very closely matched and subtly calibrated/configured to very specific feedstocks difficult and time-consuming to substitute. Changes can and have been made but it requires lots of effort, money, dedicated facilities, experimentation, mistakes, trial & error, specific expertise, risk, and most importantly fixed, unchanging new feedstocks always complying with specs. Substituting the quality and humongous quantity of Russian oil feeds has never ever been attempted. This means that Russia today supplies Europe with exclusive Urals grades of very precise and constant homogenous physical & chemical characterization that would be impossible to get from third parties fast enough and cheap enough in continuous enormously large quantities from different reservoirs wherever. So it´s a very delicate and tight matching already achieved between Schwedt and the Russian Urals blend, that most probably cannot be substituted.


Banning Russian oil means many things. Some are known to require — among other things — time, money, expertise, human resources, etc.etc. But some others are unknown and very complex. For example, finding many new different oils – from many new unproven vendors – that collectively and in a coordinated fashion ( ?? ) would constantly offer into the future — rain or shine, come hell or highwater — the very same homogenized profile of delivery, quality, quantity, price, service and enlargeability of feedstocks that Russia has reliably provided Europe for decades at low cost. Anything less and Europe will no longer be or perform or deliver as we know it. Skeptics please easily find the 6 (six) criteria that such oil feedstocks mandatorily need to meet at Ref #11. Europe and Germany have been forewarned. They better know what they are doing.

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“..that’s how Pfizer made cases of myocarditis and pericarditis disappear, by sweeping them under the rug of COVID-19..”

Is Subject #12312982 the Key to Proving Pfizer Vaccine Trial Fraud? (JJ)

Subject # 12312982 in Pfizer study C4591001 is Augusto Roux, a 35-year old lawyer from Buenos Aires, Argentina who volunteered for Pfizer’s stage 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine (or whatever you want to call it) in order to protect his mother with emphysema. His story and some of the shenanigans surrounding the Argentinian trial site have been amply covered by Dr. David Healy in three sprawling but extremely important blog posts. The first one was published March 1st, but it was only last week that I caught on to this story, so I’m assuming most of you probably aren’t familiar with it. So please share this — we’ve got to get the word out, because Augusto Roux may very well hold the key to bringing down the Pfizer vaccine trial, or a least proving fraud at the largest trial site that was home to over 10% of the participants in the trial.

[..] On the way home after his second dose on Sept. 9, 2020, he began feeling unwell, developed a high fever and felt terribly ill until he fainted on Sept. 11 and finally went to the hospital on Sept. 12 (not the one where the trial was being run). They did a thorough work-up, including a CAT scan of his chest that showed an abnormal collection of fluid around the outside of the heart. Basically he had pericarditis. On Sept. 14, he was discharged. The doctor wrote in his chart that he had suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Augusto was told by hospital staff they there had been a huge influx of people from the clinical trial coming to the hospital (there were 2,981 subjects enrolled in the trial before Augusto), so his experience was not new to them. (The trial site managed to enlist several thousand subjects in just a few weeks.) One nurse estimated they had seen around 300 people.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting, and we know all of this because Augusto, a lawyer, successfully sued to get his medical and trial clinical records, even though it took him over a year. Even though Augusto had a negative PCR test at the hospital, and even though the doctor at the hospital wrote that his condition was due to the vaccine, when Augusto called the trial site on Sept. 14 to notify them he was in the hospital, they wrote down in his clinical trial record that he had been admitted for a bilateral pneumonia that had nothing to do with the “investigational product” — even though that was not what he told them.

On October 7, the clinical trial notes that “at the request of the sponsor” (AKA Pfizer), the adverse event code was update to COVID-19 disease. And that’s how Pfizer made cases of myocarditis and pericarditis disappear, by sweeping them under the rug of COVID-19. Moreover, the diagnosis of COVID-19 would not count against the efficacy calculations, since those required a positive PCR test to confirm diagnosis.

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No love lost for Rubio, but still insane.

Rubio Accuses Google of Election Bias, Censoring Campaign Emails (ET)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is accusing Google of filtering his emails to supporters in the run-up to the midterm election this fall, describing on May 21 his current situation as being in “purgatory.” The Florida Republican said in a tweet that up to 90 percent of his campaign emails to supporters with a registered Gmail address never reach their inboxes but go to their spam folder. He said that has occurred since his likely Democratic opponent in the November general election, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), announced a year ago she would run against him. “Marco Rubio for Senate is in @Google purgatory. Since a Pelosi puppet announced she was running against me, they have sent 66% of my emails to REGISTERED SUPPORTERS with @gmail to spam,” Rubio wrote on Twitter on May 21.


“And during the final weeks of finance quarters, it climbs to over 90%,” the post reads. Rubio, who is running for a third term in the U.S. Senate, is likely to face off against Demings, a former Orlando police chief, in Florida’s 2022 general election on Nov. 8. Ahead of the Sunshine State’s primaries on Aug. 23, the Republican senator holds a lead of 9 points over Demings in an average of polls among registered voters. Republicans filed a joint complaint on April 27 with the Federal Election Commission to investigate Gmail’s algorithm—which “makes it much harder for Republicans to reach their supporters” than Democrats and stifles GOP fundraising efforts—as claimed by researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU).

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Too much inventory?!

Bullwhip Effect: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff (ZH)

It was exactly a year ago, when Deutsche Bank strategist Luke Templeman said that amid the panicked scramble by US wholesalers to stock up on scarce inventory as a result of snarled supply chains, it was only a matter of time before the US economy was roiled by a “bullwhip” (or whiplash) effect. Some details for those unfamiliar with this concept: the bullwhip effect occurs when a drop in customer demand causes retailers to under stock. In turn, wholesalers respond to a lack of retail orders by understocking themselves. That then causes manufacturers to slow production. Eventually the reverse occurs. As customer demand comes back, retailers quickly order more goods, often too much, and wholesalers and factories are caught short. Shortages occur, prices increase. Eventually production ramps up at levels that are far beyond equilibrium levels and this cascades down the chain. These violent swings in availability of goods then continue back and forth until an equilibrium is eventually established.


Last May, the beginning of the bullwhip effect was seen in the way retailers and wholesalers managed their inventory levels since the outbreak of covid. Specifically, retailers kept a supply of inventory at a relatively constant level, above that of wholesalers. As covid hit, supply chains from Asia were cut which caused a fright amongst retailers in the West who immediately began to put in orders for more inventory. A whole lot more of it. Subsequent lockdowns saw demand plummet and inventories along with it. In both cases, the actions of wholesalers followed those of retailers by a month or so. In the context of a starting bullwhip effect, Templeman’s conclusion was accurate: “As inventory levels have fallen to multi-decade lows at retailers, there are likely many businesses that will not have enough inventory to satisfy customers as economies recover and pent-up demand is unleashed. This is particularly the case as retailers are far more reliant on just-in-time supply chains than they were in decades past.”

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Gold.

How the United States Conquered Inflation Following the Civil War (FEE)

According to the most recent polling data, the American public’s approval of Congress stands at a dismal 21 percent. Almost four times as many people disapprove of the job it’s doing.That’s par for the course in recent decades. It’s the major reason the Washington sausage grinder earns so little praise. To be fair, though, let’s review an occasion when lawmakers got something right. I’m prompted to share this story now because its lessons are especially relevant considering today’s concerns about rising price inflation. The year was 1875. The Civil War (1861-65) produced a disastrous hyperinflation in the Confederacy and considerable currency depreciation of paper greenbacks in the North as well.

A decade after Appomattox, Congress still had not made good on its promise to make its paper money redeemable in gold. But in January 1875, alarmed by the rise of pro-inflation agitators (the “greenbackers,” later to become “silverites”), Congress passed the Specie Payment Resumption Act, which President Ulysses S. Grant later signed into law. Politicians often break their promises, and this was yet another opportunity to do so. Congress could have declared, “We don’t have the gold necessary to honor our pledge, so we’ll pay gold for greenbacks at 50 cents on the dollar.” But lawmakers chose to be honest for once, and to meet their obligations fully. The Act provided that all paper greenbacks would be redeemable on demand “at par” (100 percent of the earlier promise), beginning on January 1, 1879.

When Rutherford B. Hayes succeeded Grant as President in March 1877, he knew his administration had less than two years to prepare the Treasury and the nation’s banks for redemption. He and his Treasury officials believed the best way to avoid a run on the banks in January 1879 was to shore up the country’s gold reserves. They did so largely by selling bonds to Europeans in exchange for gold. Redemption Day came amid rumors that people would flood the banks with their paper greenbacks and demand the promised gold, but just the opposite happened. Hardly anybody showed up at bank teller windows asking for the yellow metal. Why? Because the Treasury had accumulated more than enough gold to take care of convertibility, and the public knew it. The lesson? When people have good reason to believe their paper money is “as good as gold,” they prefer the convenience of paper.

Former United States Circuit Judge Randall R. Rader writes, “The year 1879 brought the resumption of the redeemable currency. The consumer price index stabilized at 28 in that year. For more than three decades thereafter (World War I interrupted the price tranquility), the index never rose above 29 or dipped below 25. The index remained at 27 for a decade. Never did it rise or fall more than a single point in a year. The gold standard worked throughout that entire period to keep prices remarkably stable.”

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There will be more court hearings.

Pressure Mounts on Patel Over Assange Decision (Lauria)

At some point during the next nine days, British Home Secretary Priti Patel will decide whether or not to extradite imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the United States to face espionage charges for publishing accurate information revealing U.S. war crimes. Pressure is building from both sides on the home secretary. Press freedom and human rights organizations, a Nobel laureate, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, journalists and Assange supporters have appealed to Patel to let Assange go. While it would be deemed improper for outside influence to be brought on judges, it would not be fanciful to imagine that behind the scenes Patel is getting the message from the U.S. Department of Justice and possibly from U.S. and U.K. intelligence services about what is expected of her.

The home secretary should know without prodding what the U.S. and British governments want her to do. Patel is a highly-ambitious politician who no doubt will calculate how her decision will impact her career. “Politicians think about their next election, they think about their voters … that’s what makes them tick,” Kristinn Hrafnnson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, told Consortium News at a protest outside the Home Office in London last Wednesday. “For the first time it’s in the hands of a politician, and Priti Patel, if she wants to think about her legacy … she should do the right thing.” “Politics is a strange beast,” Hrafnsson said. “Anything can happen. I’m hoping this is something that will be taken up in the Cabinet here. Let’s not forget that Boris Johnson was a journalist. He was part of the media community and should have better understanding of this case than many others.”

Patel is acting after the U.K. Supreme Court refused to hear Assange’s appeal of a High Court decision to overturn a lower court ruling barring Assange’s extradition on health grounds and the danger of U.S. prisons. The High Court decided solely on conditional U.S. promises that Assange would be well treated in custody. With the courts no longer involved and the decision solely in Patel’s hands, the case now is purely political, meaning political pressure can be brought to bear on the home secretary. “The home secretary has the discretion to block this extradition, and there is a lot of pressure from civil society and press freedom groups for her to do so,” said Stella Assange at film screening on Thursday.

If Patel decides to extradite Assange it’s not the end of the legal road for Assange. He has the option of launching a “cross” appeal to the High Court. Though he won in magistrate’s court on health grounds and the condition of U.S. prisons, the judge ruled on every other point of law in Washington’s favor.

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Oct 012021
 
 October 1, 2021  Posted by at 8:26 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  69 Responses »


M. C. Escher Development II 1939

 

Boosters Aren’t Effective Because They Target Viruses Previous Identity (DCP)
The Impact Of Covid Vaccination On Alpha And Delta Variant Transmission (Mxiv)
It’s A MYSTERY! -The Hell It Is (Denninger)
Berejiklian Resigns As New South Wales Premier (Sky)
NSW Threatens Jail Time For Unvaccinated Who Try to Enter Businesses (SN)
Los Angeles Moves Toward Barring The Unvaccinated From Most Businesses (R.)
Majority Of Americans Think Those Refusing Vaccine Should Not Lose Job (JTN)
‘Build Back Better’ Act Proposes To Increase Unvaxx Fines Ten Fold (SN)
Progressive Democrats Derail Pelosi’s Planned Vote On Infrastructure Bill (JTN)
Durham Issues Fresh Round Of Subpoenas (CNN)
The News is America’s New Religion (Taibbi)
Julian Assange Supporters Write To Scott Morrison Over Reported CIA Plot (Abc.au)

 

 

Rand Paul
https://twitter.com/i/status/1443677734383898631

 

 

 

 

Land of the free

 

 

“..Iceland, where 77% are vaccinated but cases are now 677 per-cent higher than a year ago. Norway is 66% vaccinated and cases are up 1.067 per-cent.”

Boosters Aren’t Effective Because They Target Viruses Previous Identity (DCP)

Dr. Ryan Cole, a pathologist and a Mayo Clinic-trained medical expert said the so-called “vaccines” against COVID-19 aren’t really effective because they are made to address the virus as it previously was, not as it is now. “It’s because the coronavirus mutates,” Dr. Cole said when he was interviewed on the Steve Deace Blaze TV show online. Dr. Cole has dealt with thousands of COVID cases in recent months. Deace posed questions about the extremely inconsistent results from around the globe. For example, in Israel, 80% of adults are vaccinated, yet year-to-year cases are up 130% and deaths are up 56%. And in Iceland, where 77% are vaccinated but cases are now 677 per-cent higher than a year ago. Norway is 66% vaccinated and cases are up 1.067 per-cent. But in Malta, cases are down 10% from a year ago.

Cole explained that the inconsistencies and randomness come because the vaccine really isn’t a vaccine; it’s more of a “therapy.” Dr. Cole added, “A true vaccine would allow one to be immune. We’re not seeing that.” “What would be good is to implement are the drugs that shall not be named, as prevention protocols,” Cole explained. Deace then commented, “The government and its media allies have for more than a year now tried to suppress access to and information about products like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine which have been shown to reduce the impact COVID-19. Dr. Cole responded, “With the existing programs to withhold treatments for COVID, and push ‘vaccines,’ both the vaccinated and unvaccinated get sick.” “Early treatments save lives in both of those groups,” he added.

Dr. Cole further explained, “The viral mutations, however, prevent any developed vaccine from being fully effective, because it was made to address a previous rendition of the bug.” “What we have done is obviously made a shot that was partially effective, but these boosters are the wrong protection for the wrong virus,” Cole added.

Read more …

3 months. 12 weeks. Until your next shot.

The Impact Of Covid Vaccination On Alpha And Delta Variant Transmission (Mxiv)

Background Pre-Delta, vaccination reduced transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from individuals infected despite vaccination, potentially via reducing viral loads. While vaccination still lowers the risk of infection, similar viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals infected with Delta question how much vaccination prevents onward transmission.

Methods We performed a retrospective observational cohort study of contacts of SARS-CoV-2-infected index cases using contact testing data from England. We used multivariable logistic regression to investigate the impact of index case and contact vaccination on transmission, and how this varies with Alpha and Delta variants (classified using S-gene detection/calendar trends) and time since second vaccination. Results 51,798/139,164(37.2%) contacts tested were PCR-positive. Two doses of BNT162b2 or ChAdOx1 vaccines in Alpha variant index cases independently reduced PCR-positivity in contacts (aOR, adjusted odds ratio vs. unvaccinated=0.18[95%CI 0.12-0.29] and 0.37[0.22-0.63] respectively).

The Delta variant attenuated vaccine-associated reductions in transmission: two BNT162b2 doses reduced Delta transmission (aOR=0.35[0.26-0.48]), more than ChAdOx1 (aOR=0.64[0.57-0.72]; heterogeneity p<0.001). Variation in viral load (Ct values) explained only a modest proportion of vaccine-associated transmission reductions. Transmission reductions declined over time since second vaccination, for Delta reaching similar levels to unvaccinated individuals by 12 weeks for ChAdOx1 and attenuating substantially for BNT162b2. Protection from vaccination in contacts also declined in the 3 months after second vaccination.

Conclusions Vaccination reduces transmission of Delta, but by less than the Alpha variant. The impact of vaccination decreased over time. Factors other than PCR-measured viral load are important in vaccine-associated transmission reductions. Booster vaccinations may help control transmission together with preventing infections.

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“Clotshot indeed.”

It’s A MYSTERY! -The Hell It Is (Denninger)

“During the summer there was a 25 per cent rise in the number of people rushed to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank with partially blocked arteries cutting blood supply to the heart.”

C’mon jackasses — a 25% increase in one year? You know good and damn well that’s not environmental nor is it due to people’s lifestyles. Yes, lifestyle causes this in many cases but it takes decades to get you due to your lifestyle, not months or a year. What did we change in the subject population less than a year ago, and since this is now happening what leads you to believe it is a one-off?

Oh, this is largely in older people too. Which is exactly who the US Government, anyway, would like to see take the dirt nap since that cuts down Medicare expenses and, to the extent they wind up in nursing homes later, Medicaid expenses too if they have no money. Congratulations on increasing your odds of pulling the short straw — by a lot. Oh, and how many people have an occlusive heart attack at 42? Not many. This guy did — here in the US. DVT, heart attack and a PE at 42? Uh huh. You’re damned lucky you’re not dead and you and I both know damned well why it happened too. Clotshot indeed.

Read more …

Some things you can’t make up. Gladys Berejiklian is possibly the worst face of all lockdowns. She resigns because of a corruption investigation. What corruption? I kid you not: She’s been accused of taking tens of millions from Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Berejiklian Resigns As New South Wales Premier (Sky)

Gladys Berejiklian has resigned as premier of New South Wales after it was revealed she is under investigation from ICAC. She will also step down as the member for Willoughby, which will trigger a by-election. “I have made it clear on numerous occasions that if any of my ministers were the subject of allegations being investigated by an integrity agency or law enforcement, then he or she should stand aside during the course of the investigation until their name was cleared,” Ms Berejiklian said. “The reason for my stance was not to have made any presumptions, as to their conduct, but rather to maintain the integrity of the public office which has held, which that person is held whilst an investigation was completed.


“That same standard must always apply to me also as the premier, however standing aside is not an option for me as the premier of New South Wales as the people of this state need certainty as to who the leader is during the challenging times of the pandemic. “I cannot predict how long it will take the ICAC to complete this investigation, let alone deliver a report in circumstances where I was first called to give evidence in a public hearing nearly 12 months ago. “Therefore, it pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign from the Office of Premier, my resignation will take effect as soon as the New South Wales Liberal Party can elect a new parliamentary leader in order to allow the new leader and government, a fresh start.”

Clive Palmer

Read more …

Yeah, same state, same woman.

NSW Threatens Jail Time For Unvaccinated Who Try to Enter Businesses (SN)

Authorities in New South Wales are threatening to jail Australians who don’t show a COVID-19 vaccination pass when they enter businesses. Yes, really. NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello threatened people who he described as “fraudsters” with arrest if they try to enter premises with “fake vaccine passports” “If people want to do the wrong thing, if they get found out, as I said, it could be jail time there,” said Dominello. According to the report, people who also try to enter without showing anything will also be subject to arrest.


“Mr Dominello reiterated that those who refuse to show their vaccine status when entering shops, restaurants and other venues should be reported to the police,” reports News.com.au. Enforcing such a system may be problematic however, as the Police Commissioner of New South Wales recently asserted that his officers wouldn’t be checking medical papers. “The role of police in terms of vaccine passports, we will not be walking through restaurants, cafes and pubs checking if people are double vaccinated,” said Mick Fuller. We now face a two tier society where the unvaccinated are not only brazenly discriminated against, but actually thrown in prison if they try to engage in basic commerce or lifestyle activities.

Read more …

People are planning to leave LA in droves. Businesses will follow.

Los Angeles Moves Toward Barring The Unvaccinated From Most Businesses (R.)

Los Angeles officials on Wednesday signaled they would vote next week to prohibit unvaccinated people from entering most businesses in the United States’ second-largest city, one of the nation’s most severe crackdowns so far of the COVID-19 pandemic. All but one of the City Council members present on Wednesday said they supported the proposed “emergency” ordinance, which would require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, shopping centers, gyms and other indoor spaces. “I am sick and tired of yahoos going into Trader Joe’s (grocery store) refusing to wear a mask,” City Council member Paul Kerkorian said in angry remarks. “I am fed up with people who want to make this into such a politicized issue they have lost all semblance of civility in our society.”


If the proposal is approved next week, as expected, Los Angeles would join San Francisco and New York among major U.S. cities requiring proof of vaccination for indoor businesses. The new rule would take effect in November. Political leaders across the United States, led by Democratic President Joe Biden, have ratcheted up pressure on the unvaccinated in recent weeks. Laws requiring proof of vaccinations are deeply controversial in the United States, with many Americans criticizing them as unconstitutional and authoritarian. A majority of the Los Angeles City Council was prepared to vote in favor of the proof-of-vaccine measure on Wednesday. They were frustrated in that effort by council member Joe Buscaino, who, by withholding his vote, stood in the way of a so-called “unanimous consent.” Buscaino said the vaccine mandate could not be enforced, citing a report by the city’s Department of Building and Safety that it was not equipped to take on such a law enforcement role.

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Impossible to even imagine a year ago, But here we are.

“..83.5% of Republican voters don’t want the unvaccinated to lose their jobs while 47.9% of Democrats feel the same way..”

Majority Of Americans Think Those Refusing Vaccine Should Not Lose Job (JTN)

New polling on President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate shows the majority of Americans do not think unvaccinated workers should lose their jobs. Convention of States Action released the poll Wednesday, which reports that 65% of surveyed voters “do not believe Americans should lose their jobs if they object to taking the COVID-19 vaccine.” The poll also found 22.2% believe those who refuse the mandate should lose their job, while 12.8% aren’t sure. The data comes as health care workers around the country have lost their jobs for refusing the vaccine, causing staffing problems in some hospitals. Under Biden’s rule, millions of more workers could be in the same position.

Feelings on the mandate differed significantly based on political affiliation. According to the poll, “63.6% of Independent voters do not believe Americans should lose their jobs if they object to taking the COVID-19 vaccine, while 15.5% believe they should, and 20.9% aren’t sure.” Those independents tend to be key swing voters targeted by both parties in election years. The poll found 83.5% of Republican voters don’t want the unvaccinated to lose their jobs while 47.9% of Democrats feel the same way. The mandate in question requires all federal employees and government contractors to be vaccinated. It also requires all businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or test them weekly, among other new rules and guidelines released by the Biden administration earlier this month.

“This plan will ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage,” the White House said when announcing the mandate. Convention of States Action partnered with The Trafalgar Group to conduct the survey Sept. 17th through Sept. 19th. They queried 1,000 likely 2022 election voters. Biden already faces lawsuits over the requirement, and more than two dozen Republican governors have made clear their opposition to the vaccine mandate. The legal challenges and nationwide split on the federal order have set up a likely legal showdown that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A different poll from the same group released earlier this month found that Americans support the Republican governors who oppose the mandate. The poll reported that 58.6% of those surveyed “do not believe President Biden has the constitutional authority to force private businesses to require vaccine mandates for employees.”

Read more …

“..any business that refuses to mandate COVID vaccination will face financial ruin…”

‘Build Back Better’ Act Proposes To Increase Unvaxx Fines Ten Fold (SN)

Joe Biden’s so called “Build Back Better’ Act has included COVID as an occupational hazard, and proposes to increase fines for non-compliant companies by TEN TIMES, meaning they could face punishments of $700,000 per violation for employees who are not vaccinated. The Daily Mail reports that fines for “willful and repeated violation” of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) will increase from $70,000 for each violation to $700,000 under the $3.5 trillion spending legislation. The report also notes that serious violations will go up from $7,000 to $70,000, while repeated violations will mean fines of no less than $50,000 per violation, increased from $5,000.


Any business that does not address and correct the violation within an allocated time period will then be fined $70,000 PER DAY, up from $7,000. In other words, any business that refuses to mandate COVID vaccination will face financial ruin. Biden has decreed that any company with over 100 employees will be subjected to the mandate. As we have previously noted, around half of Americans are opposed to the mandate, with almost 60 per cent saying they do not believe Biden has the constitutional authority to enforce vaccine mandates. Biden’s commerce Secretary has claimed that ‘no one is being forced’ to take the vaccines, and that “There’s always been a choice” for workers to stay at home.

Read more …

Tastes like a game.

Progressive Democrats Derail Pelosi’s Planned Vote On Infrastructure Bill (JTN)

Progressive Democrats derailed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned vote on the Biden-backed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday. Moderate House Democrats had pushed for a vote on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill as opposed to waiting for the completion of the Democrats’ final filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill. To pass the framework in August for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, Pelosi negotiated with moderate Democrats and had agreed to hold a vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill by Sept. 27. As of Thursday morning, Pelosi was not backing down from holding a vote on that bill, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said later in the day that he was not confident the bill would pass alone.

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin reiterated he would not vote for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal and tartly rejected its level of spending on new public benefit programs as “fiscal insanity.” Manchin indicated that he would support some of the tax reform items in the bill. Ahead of the scheduled House vote on the infrastructure bill, many progressives had said they were ready to vote against it if a final $3.5 trillion filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill wasn’t voted on first. House Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal said recently that progressives had enough votes to sink the infrastructure bill. This scenario played out on Thursday evening when the vote was delayed, prompting Pelosi to send out a “Dear Colleague” letter indicating that she was pressing the pause button on the infrastructure bill vote.

“It has been a day of progress in fulfilling the President’s vision to Build Back Better,” Pelosi wrote. “Thanks to so many members and staff, the work is being done. Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill. Many thanks to members of our caucus for your participation and patience over the past few days. The bipartisan infrastructure bill has already had its rule passed and its debate has concluded. All of this momentum brings us closer to shaping the reconciliation bill in a manner that will pass the House and Senate.”

Read more …

CNN getting worried about Durham?

Durham Issues Fresh Round Of Subpoenas (CNN)

Special Counsel John Durham has issued a new set of subpoenas, including to a law firm with close ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, an indication that Durham could be trying to build a broader criminal case, according to people briefed on the matter. So far, Durham’s two-year probe into the FBI’s Russia investigation hasn’t brought about the cases Republicans has hoped it would. The grand jury subpoenas for documents came earlier this month after Durham charged Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann with lying to the FBI in a September 2016 meeting. During that meeting, Sussmann handed over data purporting to show links between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. That tip became part of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election but the FBI ultimately couldn’t find evidence of a link.

In seeking additional documents from Sussmann’s former law firm, Perkins Coie, investigators from the special counsel’s office appear to be sharpening their focus on the Democratic political machinery during the 2016 campaign and efforts to tie Trump to Russia. Perkins Coie’s clients in 2016 included the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The law firm also hired on the campaign’s behalf a research company that commissioned the dossier from ex-British spy Christopher Steele that alleged that Trump was compromised by Russia. Durham has already accessed reams of the law firm’s records, such as billing records, meeting calendars and a log of documents that the firm protects under attorney-client privilege. Some of the newly sought-after documents have been guarded so far by attorney-client privilege.

Durham’s new subpoenas could lead to a court fight over privileged information and draw more about the Clinton campaign into the open. While working for Perkins Coie, Sussmann also represented Rodney Joffe, a cybersecurity expert referred to in Durham’s indictment as “Tech Executive-1.” In 2016, Joffe, who has not been previously identified, worked with researchers to collect internet data about the Trump Organization that Sussmann took to the FBI. Durham’s continued use of the federal grand jury in Washington, DC, signals that he could be interested in adding to Sussmann’s charges or bringing cases against additional defendants. Still, more than two years after being commissioned by then Attorney General William Barr to investigate whether federal authorities improperly targeted the Trump campaign, Durham has little to show for his efforts.

His special counsel probe, which has lasted longer than Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, has so far brought only two lying charges against little-known figures, including the case against Sussmann, who has pleaded not guilty. The results have underwhelmed Trump supporters who had hoped former top FBI and intelligence officials would be prosecuted for “spying” on Trump and his campaign. Already the scope of Durham’s probe has narrowed after Barr announced last year that investigators had found no wrongdoing by the CIA. Yet Durham has continued his investigation, largely in secrecy, working out of a non-descript office building near trendy Washington’s Union Market.

Read more …

Feels a bit stale, Matt.

The News is America’s New Religion (Taibbi)

News in America used to be fun to talk about, fun to joke about, interesting to think about. Now it’s an interminable bummer, because the press business has taken on characteristics of that other institution where talking, joking, and thinking aren’t allowed: church. We have two denominations, both as fact-averse as real churches, as is shown in polls about, say, pandemic attitudes, where Americans across the board consistently show they know less than they think. Surveys found a third of Republicans think the asymptomatic don’t transmit Covid-19, or that the disease kills fewer people than the flu or car crashes. But Democrats also test out atrociously, with 41% thinking Covid-19 patients end up hospitalized over half the time — the real number is 1%-5% — while also wildly overestimating dangers to children, the percentage of Covid deaths under the age of 65, the efficacy of masks, and other issues.

This is the result of narrative-driven coverage that focuses huge amounts of resources on the wrongness of the rival faith. Blue audiences love stories about the deathbed recantations of red-state Covid deniers, some of which are real, some more dubious. A typical Fox story, meanwhile, might involve a woman who passed out and crashed into a telephone pole while wearing a mask alone in her car. Tales of each other’s stupidity are the new national religion, and especially among erstwhile liberals, we take them more seriously than any religion has been taken in the smart set in a long, long time.

In the eighties we made celebrities out of televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, but none were believable as religious authorities. They were too interesting: they dressed like Vegas club acts, humped everything that moved, and had the enormous balls to stare at cameras and ask for money so the minister and his wife could be driving the right fully-loaded Caddy when Christ returned. By the Reagan years no one believed in miracles or divine retribution anyway, not even Catholics, whose priests had all read Nietzsche and would quietly concede the church’s whole act was a well-meaning metaphor, if cornered by an adult. (Their rap to kids was obviously different; insert your own joke here).

By the time Trump arrived, there was only one route left for media companies, who’d lost ad revenue to Internet platforms, to make money: putting content behind a paywall. Essentially, news companies passed a hat and asked for donations, just like churches. Also like churches, they began to sell belief instead of fact. They turned viewers and readers into congregationalists, people who’d be less interested in news than calls to spiritual battle. Fox had already proven this revenue model could work. In the Trump years, led by the New York Times — which lost other forms of income but went from 1.2 million digital subscribers in 2016 to 7.5 million in 2020 — the rest of the commercial media followed suit.

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I hope they don’t expect an honest answer.

Julian Assange Supporters Write To Scott Morrison Over Reported CIA Plot (Abc.au)

A group of prominent Australians have written to the Prime Minister, asking what the government knew about an alleged CIA plot to kill or kidnap WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, the ABC can reveal. The members of the group, who all visited Assange in London, have also demanded the government reveal whether they were caught up in the US plot and if their lives, too, were ever at risk. The group of 21 lawyers, journalists, academics, and activists wrote to Scott Morrison after revelations in the US media this week the CIA had contemplated kidnapping or assassinating Assange and others in 2017 while the WikiLeaks founder was living in Ecuador’s London embassy.

One of the letter’s signatories, barrister Julian Burnside, who has been negotiating with Canberra to have Assange returned to Australia since 2012, said the new allegations of a planned assassination were of concern. “It’s one thing [for the government] to ignore an Australian overseas who’s in difficulty,” Mr Burnside said. “It’s altogether another to ignore an Australian overseas who may be murdered by another government, a government that is ostensibly an ally.” Another of the signatories, Melbourne lawyer Lizzie O’Shea, said: “Recent events suggest that we’re in a closer relationship with the US than ever before.” “I would like to think that doesn’t come at the expense of our citizens’ rights, and this [letter] is one test of whether that’s true.”

The letter is signed by prominent Australians including Jennifer Robinson, Scott Ludlam, Mary Kostakidis and Kathy Lette. All of them have visited Assange at one time or another. All are concerned they may have been caught up in US intelligence operations. “We wish to know what surveillance or monitoring we have been subjected to by the intelligence agencies of our allies, the United Kingdom and United States,” the letter, sent yesterday afternoon, states. “Were any of us placed on speculative kill lists? “We also believe we have a right to know whether the Australian government was informed or consented to our communications and movements being tracked.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dec 052020
 


Paul Cézanne Young Italian Woman at a Table c1900

 

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)
Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)
Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)
Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)
The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)
The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)
Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)
Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)
A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)
Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)
Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)
AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)
Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)
Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

 

 

 

 

“There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.”

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)

Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center has ordered 1.5 million doses of a Russian vaccine against the coronavirus, hospital director Zeev Rotstein said Tuesday. First reported on Army Radio, Rotstein added that the hospital will give the Health Ministry all necessary data about the vaccine this week, with the goal of obtaining a permit to administer it to Israelis. Rotstein, who has clashed repeatedly with the ministry in recent months, is convinced that the fears voiced in the media about the vaccine aren’t well-founded, and that they have more to do with the global struggle between Russia and the United States than with the scientific data. But even if the ministry refuses to approve the vaccine, he said in an interview with Haaretz, “We’ll have something do with it,” because Hadassah also operates overseas.

The Russian vaccine has been in phase three clinical trials since August and has already been given to tens of thousands of people. Hadassah’s branch in Moscow has both given the vaccine to people and monitored them afterward, “and the results and safety we’ve seen have been very good,” Rotstein said. Hadassah’s activities in Moscow are what led the Russian authorities to propose that the hospital seek Israeli approval for the vaccine, he added. If the phase three trials show that the vaccine is both safe and effective, and if the Health Ministry approves its use, the vaccine could be available in Israel in two to three months.

Rotstein stressed that until the phase three trial ends and the data has been analyzed, it’s impossible to know if the vaccine will be effective in preventing the virus. But based on the data so far, he said, “There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.” Both the development of the Russian vaccine and Russia’s unusual decision to administer it to its own citizens, even before the phase three trials ended, have been widely criticized worldwide. But Rotstein insisted that much of this criticism stems from the American-Russian battle over who will develop a vaccine first.

Read more …

Yeah, very convincing.

Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)

Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 has been shown to create immunity against the bug for at least three months, the biotech company said. Thirty-four healthy adults who received two doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, were shown to have antibodies for 90 days, according to new findings published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The first dose “produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time, as expected, but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination,” the study said. The two doses were administered 28 days apart.


The report did not make clear what level of risk people would have after 90 days and whether another shot would be needed. Earlier this week, Moderna asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, saying data shows its vaccine is more than 94 percent effective against coronavirus. On Friday, the Massachusetts-based company said it would be able to produce 500 million doses of the vaccine in 2021. “For 500 million, I am very comfortable we are gonna get there,” chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said at the Nasdaq Investor Conference.

Read more …

More confidence? Based on what? Just news stories?

Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)

As vaccines for the coronavirus enter review for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the share of Americans who say they plan to get vaccinated has increased as the public has grown more confident that the development process will deliver a safe and effective vaccine. Still, the U.S. public is far from uniform in views about a vaccine. A majority says they would be uncomfortable being among the first to take it, and a sizable minority appear certain to pass on getting vaccinated. Overall, 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, if one were available today, up from 51% who said this in September.

39% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half of this group – or 18% of U.S. adults – says it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. Yet, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19: 75% have at least a fair amount of confidence in the development process today, compared with 65% who said this in September.

These findings come on the heels of preliminary analysis from two separate clinical trials that have produced vaccines that are over 90% effective; the FDA is expected to issue decisions about the emergency authorization of these vaccines in the coming weeks. While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public says they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable.


The toll of the pandemic is starkly illustrated by the 54% of Americans who say they know someone personally who has been hospitalized or died due to the coronavirus. Among Black Americans, 71% know someone who has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.

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What is being done about this? Why do we never read about that?

Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)

The coronavirus death toll at U.S. nursing homes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was brutal and unrelenting. The Life Care Center nursing home outside Seattle made international headlines in March after the coronavirus infected residents and staff, resulting in at least 123 cases and dozens of deaths. In New Jersey, public officials discovered 17 bodies piled into a makeshift morgue in a nursing home in April when Covid-19 fatalities overwhelmed the facility. Nursing homes, which house the most vulnerable of society, quickly became ground zero for countless coronavirus outbreaks across the U.S. in the early months of the pandemic. While the outbreak subsided somewhat this fall, long-term care facilities are now seeing their most intense surge in Covid cases since at least the summer.

As new cases break record after record most days, infections at long-term care facilities reached a new weekly high in late November, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, an organization launched by The Atlantic magazine. More than 46,000 infections at those facilities were recorded in what was the worst week in six months; reliable data only goes back that far. Despite making up just 5.7% of all U.S. Covid cases, nursing home and assisted living facilities residents and staff accounted for 39.3% of the deaths, according to tracking project data. That number is generally considered low since many nursing home deaths tend to get reported without an underlying cause, physicians have said.

Deaths at U.S. nursing homes for the week ended last Thursday topped 3,000 — the highest weekly death toll since June, pushing cumulative fatalities over 100,000, according to the tracking project. “I’ve likened nursing homes to being like a tinderbox. It takes one person, one person, to unknowingly bring the virus into a facility and it could kill several people, make a lot of people sick,” said Dr. Joseph Ouslander, a geriatrician at Florida Atlantic University who works as a clinician in nursing homes. No matter what precautions staff take, it’s going to be difficult to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes, said Ouslander, who is also a professor of integrated medical science. “All those elements of the perfect storm are in place.”

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The Households Survey showed an actual decline of 74,000 working people. 100s of 1000s no longer count as in the labor force.

The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)

Everyone seems to be baking the highly anticipated potential future vaccines into the economic cake, but what has been happening for weeks is a spike in Covid cases across the US that has already triggered economic restrictions, including various versions of stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and some other Bay Area counties, with restaurants closed for outdoor dining, strict capacity restrictions in retail stores, and many other restrictions. These moves are ahead of the State of California’s new framework for dealing with the spiking infections. Other states and cities have similar programs, either on the front burner or on the back burner. The Covid spike has already crimped economic activity and jobs over the past few weeks and is going to do more severely going forward.

But the jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on surveys of “establishments” for the pay period through November 12; and on surveys of households for the week through November 14. So the data we got today largely missed the labor market consequences of the spike in Covid cases. Those consequence are coming in the next employment reports, starting with the report for December. Despite the cut-off dates having kept much of the Covid-impacted jobs data out of the results, the data have actually deteriorated in several aspects, including the number of people with jobs as reported by households, the employment-population rate, and the labor force.

The headline number of 245,000 jobs created came from surveys of establishments (companies, governments, nonprofits, educational institutions, etc.). That survey doesn’t track gig workers. It depicted a lousy recovery. But lousy as it was, it was the more benign part. The survey of households, on the other hand, tracks people who are working full or part time, including gig workers. And households reported that the number of people with jobs ticked down to 149.7 million. This wasn’t a slowdown in growth, but an actual decline of 74,000 working people – the first month-to-month decline since April.

The chart shows both results, from establishments (green) and from households (red) – the biggest part of the difference being gig workers. It’s obvious that even by November 12, before the real impact of the Covid surge, this was no good, in terms of catching up with population growth, or in terms of anything else:

The employment-population ratio, which tracks the number of employed workers against the working-age population (16 years or older) also dipped in November, to 57.3%, a level first seen since in 1972:

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From Bernie campaigner Sirota. He’ll never be left near a Dem campaign again.

The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)

Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a straightforward question: “Who would you point to now as a leading progressive voice in the cabinet?” Harris had no answer, saying only that “we’re not even halfway there” on nominations. Biden touted only his Homeland Security nominee, who previously helped run Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The spectacle was revelatory and honest: A month after the election, Biden’s nominations make clear that the president-elect is most focused on trying to fulfill his promise to donors that nothing fundamentally changes. And yet, that tacit admission may have stunned those who keep hearing from liberal and progressive groups in Washington that, in fact, the left has been notching monumental victories in Biden’s cabinet appointments.

This disconnect between Biden nominating business-friendly corporatists and Beltway liberals effusively celebrating those nominees spotlights the latter groups’ decision to genuflect for access and influence — rather than being brutally honest about the situation. That strategy of appeasement has almost never worked in an America where change has typically come only through opposition, struggle and sacrifice. And yet somehow, prostration remains the dominant strategy among the professional left. Why? In some cases, liberal groups are naively trying to curry favor with an incoming Democratic administration. Others are probably just trying to demonstrate to their supporters and future donors they won’t be completely irrelevant in Biden’s Washington.

Some are just too chickenshit to ever stand up and have any real fight with Democrats — and still others are just auctioning off their principles because the establishment counterrevolution offers better, stable career prospects. The result, though, is the same: What little organized left political infrastructure exists in Washington is largely valorizing or publicly defending swamp creatures who at minimum deserve a loyal opposition. The good work being done by a small handful of under-resourced groups to mount a real opposition is getting trampled by a culture of obsequiousness. This culture of acquiescence gives swamp creatures a free pass — and it may not just deliver an incrementalist Biden administration that takes progressives for granted and consequently fails to address national emergencies. It could also help permanently change what is even considered politically possible in the future.

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Seems the left has little to no spine.

Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)

Few portions of political discourse are as predictably shallow as presidential Cabinet discourse. Who should run the Department of Transportation? An affable also-ran in the Democratic primary who once said something about trains? A moderate politician or a businessman who might bring the country together from their perch at the agency that handles civil aviation and our highways? “No,” a sage voice somewhere in Washington, or Delaware, says. “It should be Rahm Emanuel.” As Chicagoans know, Emanuel’s most ambitious step into transportation policy as mayor was his endorsement of a high-speed tunnel project from Elon Musk that has yet to materialize. Chicagoans also know that Emanuel’s efforts to cover up video of a black teen’s murder by a Chicago policeman probably better qualify him for a post at the CIA.

That agency, we’ve been told this week, might finally be headed by a Black man; we also know a woman has been chosen to run the Department of Defense. Overall, Democratic policy professionals of all identities and stripes have been given plenty of reasons to rejoice at Biden’s choices so far. Civilians in Yemen have not. It’s been noted elsewhere that the left has responded much more quickly and aggressively to Biden’s selections than it did to Obama’s as he put together his first presidential Cabinet. If so, it doesn’t seem like the flurries of statements, social media posts, and articles that have been written to counter every stray rumor and announcement have mattered very much at all—the process is chugging along, and Biden’s nominees are just a couple of notches left of the Obama team; activists might take a small victory in torpedoing an Emanuel nomination.

There was never good reason to expect more. This is partially because a Republican Senate, should Democrats lose in Georgia’s runoff elections next month, will be an obstacle to the confirmation of even moderate nominees. But it’s more substantially because the moderates in the Democratic Party don’t share the left’s policy goals and would oppose giving them a meaningful presence in the Biden administration even if they could. The conventional wisdom about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party has fully reversed itself in the space of six to eight months. As the Democratic primary ended, it was often argued that Sanders and the left lost because they had marginalized themselves—anti-establishment rhetoric, refusals to accept compromise, and the toxicity of prominent voices had alienated not only most of the Democratic electorate but also Democratic elites who might have otherwise been won over.

“Twitter isn’t real life,” it was said. But naturally, after Election Day, Democratic underperformance down-ballot from Biden was blamed mostly on the left’s influence. Democratic elites, it’s said now, were persuaded by the left to take on or accept unpopular messaging about socialism and policing—thanks in part, evidently, to the awesome and terrible power of tweets from left activists, writers, and podcasters.

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Turley points out that the timing indicates Durham now focuses on members of the perspective Biden administration.

“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.”

Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)

Attorney General Bill Barr made two important evidentiary decisions yesterday that delivered body blows to both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. First, Barr declared that the Justice Department has not found evidence of systemic fraud in the election. Second, he declared that there was sufficient evidence to appoint United States Attorney John Durham as a Special Counsel on the origins of the Russia probe. The move confirmed that, in a chaotic and spinning political galaxy, Bill Barr remains the one fixed and immovable object. By appointing Durham as a Special Counsel, Barr contradicted news reports before the election that Durham was frustrated and found nothing of significance despite Barr’s pressure.

Some of us expressed doubts over those reports since Durham asked for this investigation to be upgraded to a criminal matter, secured the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, and asked recently for over a thousand pages of classified intelligence material. Under the Justice Department regulations, Barr had to find (and Durham apparently agreed) that there is need for additional criminal investigation and “[t]hat investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.” He must also find the appointment in the public interest. Notably, the investigation of Clinesmith is effectively completed. So, what is the criminal investigation and what is the conflict?

Presumably, the conflict is not in the current administration since it would have required an earlier appointment. The conflict would seem to be found in the upcoming Biden administration. Some conflicts developing seem obvious as Biden turns to a host of former Obama officials for positions, including the possible selection of Sally Yates as Attorney General. Yates was directly involved in the Russian investigation and signed off on the controversial surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page. She now says that she would never have signed the application if she knew what she knows today.

Durham is now authorized to investigate anyone who may have “violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.” The list of the names of people falling within that mandate is a who’s who of Washington from Hillary Clinton to James Comey to . . . yes . . . Joe Biden. Bizarrely, reports have claimed that Trump was irate at the move as a “smokescreen” to delay the release of the report. That ignores not just the legal but political significance of the action. From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.

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“Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk?”

A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)

Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk? Is it, at least, worth looking into, considering the evidence trail? Many people on the Left, who read and view only the captive Left news media, may know nothing about Hunter B’s laptop and the tales it told because social media blacked out all the news about it and the mainstream media went along with the blackout. Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $350-million to a “safe elections” project run by the non-profit Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), that was chiefly active in setting up Democratic vote-harvesting operations. Could he be liable for prosecution in enabling ballot fraud? Has the FBI asked him any questions?

Another story ‘out there’ says that behind the election hijinks a war is underway between the DOD and the CIA. On Wednesday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that all special operations run by the CIA would henceforward report to the SecDef. In effect, the President has ordered the dismantling of the CIA’s troublemaking capabilities, reducing the agency to the task of intel analysis. This means, for instance, ending the CIA’s ability to foment “color revolutions” (coups d’état) in foreign lands — with the implication that irregularities around the Dominion System may have amounted to an attempted color revolution in the USA. Is it worth wondering whether former CIA Director John Brennan, a leftist activist and probably an architect of RussiaGate, was involved in any of the election ops? If the FBI won’t question him about it, who will? (Answer: The Department of Defense.) Ditto Gina Haspel, current CIA Director. After all, what were the Dominion servers doing at the CIA’s server farm in Germany?

Events are moving quickly under the plodding surface of the ongoing swing state hearings, which are largely concerned with on-site mail-in ballot fraud shenanigans. Will the Supreme Court take a case in the few days left before the state vote certification deadline next Tuesday? Will Mr. Trump intervene with some extraordinary measure — martial law, the Insurrection Act? — to actually abort the election and bring about some kind of do-over? Will the country survive its own feckless inability to hold a credible vote? Stand by with me on all that.

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Let the dice roll where they may. Still, Dec 14 doesn’t sound like “plenty of time”.

Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)

Attorney Sidney Powell says there’s plenty of time for President Donald Trump’s legal team to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. ‘With the fraud case, the Dec. 8 deadline doesn’t apply,” Powell said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax TV’s ”Stinchfield” in reference to the ”safe harbor” deadline that frees a state from further challenge if it resolves all disputes and certifies its voting results. ”We have at least until Dec. 14,” she said. ”We might file more suits. The court in Michigan or Wisconsin today just gave us a great order recognizing that. These are not pure election contests we are filing. These are massive fraud suits that can set aside the results of the election due to this fraud at any time. The states should not be certifying election results in the face of it.”


Powell, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has been a part of multiple lawsuits in a crusade to overturn results from the 2020 election. Several states have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the election. Newsmax has yet to project a winner as Trump continues to contest the results in court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday said it wouldn’t accept a lawsuit by Trump’s legal team, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through the lower courts. The president asked the court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democrat counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered.

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It doesn’t shut up Flynn anymore.

Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)

In a Freedom of Information case related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, District Judge Reggie Walton said on Friday that Judge Emmet Sullivan doesn’t have a lot of options in dealing with the fact that President Trump granted Flynn a full pardon, “unless he takes the position that the wording of the pardon is too broad, in that it provides protections beyond the date of the pardon.” “I don’t know what impact that would have, what decision he would make, if he makes that determination that the pardon of Mr. Flynn is for a period that the law does not permit,” said Walton, according to the National Law Journal. “I don’t know if that’s correct or not,” the judge continued. “Theoretically, the decision could be reached because the wording in the pardon seems to be very, very broad. It could be construed, I think, as extending protections against criminal prosecutions after the date the pardon was issued. I don’t know if Judge Sullivan will make that determination or not,” Walton added.


[..] Emmet Sullivan, who was presiding over the case, refused to dismiss the charges even though there was no one attempting to prosecute the case. The legal process has dragged on through the appeals process, and finally President Trump issued a full pardon on November 25. On November 30, the DOJ notified Sullivan of the pardon, but he has still refused to drop the case. Judge Walton appears to have hinted at what Sullivan is thinking as he refuses to dismiss the case. Solomon Wisenberg, former deputy independent counsel, told Just the News that “It is disappointing but not surprising that Sullivan has yet to dismiss the case.”

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Shouldn’t all these machines be audited? And then be retired?

AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)

Leaders in the Arizona state legislature on Friday called for an audit of Dominion Voting Systems software and equipment in Maricopa County, a request of which county leaders appear “supportive.” The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus announced it intent to seek such an audit via Twitter on Friday afternoon. “As a longtime advocate for improving and modernizing our election system,” incoming Senate Government Chairperson Michelle Ugenti-Rita said in the news release, “I am pleased to learn that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is supportive of conducting an independent audit of their voting software and equipment.” House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said: “A significant number of voters believe that fraud occurred. And with the number of irregularities it is easy to see why.” Petersen also called it “imperative” that officials conduct a forensic audit on Dominion’s setup in the county. Democrat Joe Biden currently has a lead of about 0.3% in Arizona in the Nov. 3 presidential balloting.

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“Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles..”

Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)

The Netherlands was one of Europe’s most prolific buyers of Teslas but now the Dutch honeymoon seems to be over, with Tesla facing a lawsuit from a large taxi company, and a group of disgruntled car owners considering a class action suit. Bios Group, a taxi firm that operates a fleet of more than 70 Teslas out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is taking Elon Musk’s company to court over €1.3m in damages, citing a high number of defects in the vehicles and difficulties in getting them repaired. There are defects with some 20 of the 70 taxis, ranging from broken power steering to broken drive shafts and broken power steering, according to the Hella Hueck’s story in Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad.

Bios had to have 75 defects repaired in 2018 and another 60 in 2019. Even more problematically Bios says there have been problems with odometer readings in the cars being inaccurate, registering journeys from the wrong location or for the wrong distance, something which could land the taxi company in legal difficulties. Though the European car industry may feel like it has been outcompeted by Tesla in electric vehicles — Tesla has a bigger share of the electric vehicle market than all the European carmakers combined — these types of service quality problems may yet give the incumbent automakers an opportunity to win back customers. Bios says it has recently bought 5 Audi E-trons, in part because it expects better after-sales service from Audi.

There have been many recent reports about problems with Tesla vehicles. In June, JD Power, a consumer intelligence company whose car reliability report is considered the industry standard found that Tesla owners reported more problems in their first 90 days of ownership than the other 31 US auto brands included in the study. Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with an industry average of 166 problems per 100 vehicles. Bios bought the fleet of 72 Model S Teslas in 2014 for €5.7m, one of Europe’s biggest fleets at the time, creating a splash of publicity for the young car company as the fleet paraded around the streets surrounding Schiphol, proclaiming the airport’s commitment to going 100% electric.

But in the last few years, Bios says, it has grown steadily more difficult to get the faulty cars repaired, finally leaving them with no option but to launch a court case to get a resolution. In October, meanwhile, a group of disgruntled Dutch Tesla owners have started the Tesla Claims Foundation, bringing together owners who want Tesla to do more to repair faults in their cars. Some 200 people have so far joined the foundation, with complaints ranging from relatively simple things like rattling noises and poorly working windscreen wipers to broken computers and charging problems.

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Stoen in the conservative press.

Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

Ah, a left-wing America Firster! Not quite, as his subsequent work and his entertaining new memoir, Chasing the Light, illumine, but Oliver Stone, our most political major filmmaker, evinces a rowdily heterodox vision shaped by the unusual quartet of Jim Morrison, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Capra, and Jean-Luc Godard. What do you call a man who joins the Merchant Marine on a whim, runs up big pro football gambling debts, and takes the Old Right view of FDR’s foreknowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? I’d call him an American. Stone was a rich kid, the son of an FDR-hating Jewish Republican who had served on Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force staff and a French Catholic party girl. He attended the Hill School, played on the tennis team, was devastated by his parents’ divorce, and then went seriously off script.


Avid for experiences, Stone dropped out of Yale, taught in a Catholic school in Taiwan, and volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He came home with a Bronze Star, shrapnel in his ass, and a taste for “powerful Vietnamese weed.” Stone’s politics hadn’t changed all that much, though. He had supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and would vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980. In later years he became more explicitly libertarian, expressing support for Ron Paul and making a film about Edward Snowden. At root, Oliver Stone is a patriot who despises the American Empire for corrupting his country. JFK, his fantasia on the Deep State, echoes Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence” by “the military-industrial complex.” Platoon and Salvador bespeak an old-fangled American anti-interventionism in an age when that tendency, once the default position of ordinary Americans, is a virtual thoughtcrime.

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Oct 252020
 


Henri Matisse Sorrow of the King 1952

 

Politics Can Never Really ‘Follow The Science’ (G.)
Costco Sells Coronavirus Saliva Test Kits Online — Here’s What They Cost (Fox)
Long-Standing Claims Of Biden Corruption All But Confirmed (Schweizer/Bruner)
Chinese Hunter Biden Leaker: Over 10,000 Pictures Coming, More Videos (GP)
CNN’s Van Jones: Trump ‘Has Done Good Stuff For The Black Community’ (JTN)
Make America Jeffersonian Again (Escobar)
After 224 Years, Virginia To Let Judges Decide Sentences (DM)
Global Wealth Shrugs Off Pandemic To Hit $400 Trillion For First Time Ever (F.)
Capitalism Double-Bills: We Pay For Our Future To Be Stolen From Us (Cook)
France Recalls Turkey Envoy After Erdogan Says Macron Needs Mental Check (BBC)
BBC White Helmets ‘Documentary’ Targets Syria War Narratives Challengers (RT)
Amy Coney Barrett Adopts Local Troubled Youngster Named Hunter (BBee)

 

 

“Now he speaks for almost no one. He is making his own decisions, which is what we pay him to do.”

“In the end, political decision-making has to rest on personal judgment – there is no scientific manual to tell leaders what to do.”

Politics Can Never Really ‘Follow The Science’ (G.)

What happened to following the science? In the spring, when Boris Johnson and his scientific advisers were proceeding in lockstep, there was no disagreement about the necessity of shutting the country down. Now the government is coming to its own conclusions about what is needed, and the scientists on the Sage advisory group have started distancing themselves from No 10’s decisions. Critics complain that the politicians are chancing it rather than being led by the evidence. But as the German sociologist Max Weber argued a century ago, politics can never really follow the science. Pretending that it can is where the trouble starts. Weber believed that politics and science do not mix. In the end, political decision-making has to rest on personal judgment – there is no scientific manual to tell leaders what to do.

More to the point, scientists are not well suited to making those decisions. They want the facts to speak for themselves. That is wishful thinking: facts alone cannot tell us what to do. In politics, expecting the evidence to point the way does not reduce the arbitrariness of the outcome. All political choices are arbitrary to a degree. Using statistics to justify difficult decisions just makes them appear more arbitrary for anyone who happens to disagree. The widespread consensus in March that a national lockdown was needed – shared not just by national politicians and their expert advisers, but by the public too – was not primarily driven by the science. It came from a joint conviction that things were getting out of control. Something had to be done. Most people began social distancing well before the government mandated it, and many stopped before the government told them it was safe.

In the spring, Johnson could plausibly claim to speak for the country as a whole when he took drastic action. Now he speaks for almost no one. He is making his own decisions, which is what we pay him to do. His problem is that he can’t admit it. He has to pretend that nakedly political judgments – about who gets what, and who pays the price – are being calibrated to a more nuanced understanding of the evidence. He is weighing up a virus whose health impacts are concentrated locally against economic consequences where the effects are national. Manchester v London is not a problem that can be solved by an algorithm or better stats.

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What happens when politics does follow science. The last thing you want is for the cost to keep people from being tested.

Costco Sells Coronavirus Saliva Test Kits Online — Here’s What They Cost (Fox)

A saliva PCR test kit alone costs $129.99, but the kit with a video observation costs $139.99 It turns out, you really can get everything at Costco. The wholesale retailer is now selling at-home coronavirus test kits on its website. The saliva PCR tests are administered by telemedicine platform AZOVA and cost $129.99 for just the test kit or $139.99 for the test kit with a “video observation,” according to the product descriptions. People who buy the $129.99 test kit are expected to get their results within 24-72 hours after the lab receives their kit. Those who buy the more expensive test can expect their results within 24-48 hours from when the kit gets to the lab.


A PCR test, according to the AZOVA website, is “a type of ‘molecular diagnostic test’” that is “much more sensitive than most antigen tests.” On the Costco website, the PCR tests are described as “the gold standard testing method with the most accurate sensitivity and specificity currently on the market.” And unlike many other coronavirus tests, the AZOVA saliva test doesn’t involve “a painful nasal swab,” the product description says. According to the product pages, the tests are FSA eligible and have been authorized by the FDA under the Emergency Use Act. The tests are “highly accurate, with a sensitivity of 98% (meaning 98% of positive tests are correct) and a specificity of 99% (meaning 99% of negative tests are correct),” the description says.

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What we know so far.

Long-Standing Claims Of Biden Corruption All But Confirmed (Schweizer/Bruner)

In response to [our 2018 book]“Secret Empires,” one of Joe Biden’s aides said “we aren’t going to engage on a politically motivated hit pieces …” Team Biden did not bother to respond to specific allegations that the Biden family vacuumed up millions, in the exact locales where Biden was Obama’s policy “point man.” When the issue reemerged during the campaign, Team Biden continued to call it a “conspiracy theory” but this time, Joe Biden firmly put himself on record. “I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses — period,” he told reporters in August 2019. “I never talk with my son or my brother or anyone else in the distant family about their business interests, period.” He repeated similar blanket denials on numerous occasions. These denials all proved to be untruthful. Period.

We now know that Joe Biden met directly with his son’s Chinese business partner, Jonathan Li, in a Chinese hotel lobby on a fateful trip in 2013 (a trip that allowed Hunter to spend hours with his father, the vice president, on a transoceanic flight to Beijing aboard Air Force Two). Ten days later, Hunter landed an unprecedented $1 billion private equity deal, bankrolled by the Chinese government. But this was not the only meeting Joe Biden had with Biden family business partners. As the New York Post reported, e-mails on Hunter Biden’s hard drive reveal that on April 16, 2015, Joe Biden met with a high-level official of a controversial Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which had put Hunter on its board. And a recently unearthed photo shows that Vice President Biden met with Hunter’s Kazakh business associate in Washington D.C.

After first dismissing the gathering scandal as a “conspiracy theory,” the Biden team shifted to the position that Joe had never talked with his family about their business dealings, then shifted again to the position that he’d never met with his family’s business partners. Now, with the latest document revelations, Joe Biden unveiled his latest defense in the recent debate: “I have not taken a single penny from any country whatsoever, ever.” Team Biden points to Joe and Jill Biden’s tax returns as evidence that Joe did nothing improper. It is worth noting that the family members upon whom foreign entities showered money are not required to disclose their finances.

We now know the Biden paydays were anything but conspiracy theories. Hunter was getting roughly $1 million per year from Burisma. Treasury Department alerts reveal that Russian oligarch Elena Baturina wired $3.5 million to Biden’s interests. New text messages reveal that China Energy Company Ltd (CEFC) apparently paid $5 million to the Biden family. Another e-mail indicates Hunter demanded a $10 million per year “fee” from one of his Chinese business partners. There is no more doubt.

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Where did this guy come from? Where did he get the material?

Chinese Hunter Biden Leaker: Over 10,000 Pictures Coming, More Videos (GP)

The Chinese billionaire behind the website where explicit photographs and videos of Hunter Biden were leaked on Saturday night has warned that “there will be more than 10,000 pictures” and “more and more videos.” Lude (Wang DingGang), founder of Lude Media and part of the Whistle-Blower Movement that is aimed at exposing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was banned on Twitter soon after the leaks started. Undeterred, Lude began posting about the leaks on Parler, a freer speech alternative to Twitter, where he quickly gained thousands of followers. “There will more and more than 10000 pictures coming,” Lude wrote on the social network. “There will be more and more videos coming!” The explicit leaks are riddled with drugs and what appear to be prostitutes. They have called into question whether or not a Biden presidency would be a national security threat with the amount of blackmail material on his son.

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You heretic!

CNN’s Van Jones: Trump ‘Has Done Good Stuff For The Black Community’ (JTN)

CNN commentator Van Jones on Friday gave unexpected praise of President Trump during a roundtable, arguing that the president should be recognized more for what Jones said are the beneficial things his administration has done for black Americans. “… I get beat up by liberals every time I say it but I keep saying it, he has done good stuff for the Black community,” Jones, who is black himself, said during the panel discussion. “Opportunity Zone stuff, black college stuff, I worked with him on criminal stuff, I saw Donald Trump have African-American people, [formerly] incarcerated, in the White House, embraced them, treated them well.”


“There is a side to Donald Trump that I think he does not get enough credit for,” added Jones, who once served as an adviser for Barack Obama. The commentator during his remarks did express disappointment at Trump’s recent comparison of himself to Abraham Lincoln. He also said that Trump’s alleged “playing footsie on Twitter with … white nationalists organizations” turns off many black voters to Trump’s overall message. “[T]hat’s the tragedy of these mixed messages from the Trump White House,” he argued.

Read more …

“Self-evident truths” were back with a bang. One can’t make this stuff up.”

Make America Jeffersonian Again (Escobar)

The whole planet has every reason to be terminally puzzled at how all those lofty Enlightenment ideals Thomas Jefferson embedded in the 1776 Declaration of Independence ended up with… Trump vs. Biden. Jefferson borrowed freely from Locke, Rousseau, Hume to come up with an eminently quotable Greatest Hits, featuring “self-evident” truths such as “all men are created equal”, “unalienable rights”, and that searing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Well, Baudrillard would have dubbed the exercise a mere simulacrum, because in real life none of this uplifting rhetoric applied to Native Americans and enslaved Africans. Still, there’s something endlessly fascinating about these “self-evident truths”.


They actually radiated like Spinoza axioms, spawning abstract truths that can be extrapolated at will. Jefferson’s “self-evident truths” ended up creating the whole, massive structure of what we define as “Western liberal democracy”. So it’s no wonder that America – perennially self-described as “leader of the free world” – consider these “self-evident truths” as the basis of an ideal society. And it’s this messianic river of fervent truth flowing out of a Himalaya of Morality that leads Americans to dismiss as “malign actors” every nation or society that is judged to be “deviating” from such obvious evidence. Cut to a mini-remix of the last Trump-Biden presidential debate. In foreign policy terms, it went something like this.

The moderator is desperate to move on as she’s very much aware of time constraints and looming, incandescent clashes: “Now I want to move on to Defense. It’s established Russia and China are interfering in our election process…” Here’s classic “self-evident truth” material, delivered according to strict Council on Foreign Relations guidelines. Cut to Biden: any country that interferes with the American elections “will pay a price”. Russia’s “been involved, China has been involved to some degree, and Iran’s been involved.” They are interfering with “American sovereignty”. Rudy Giuliani was used “as a Russian pawn”. Trump is “unwilling” to confront Putin. Russia has “destabilized NATO” and is “paying bounties to kill Americans in Afghanistan.” And China “has to play by the rules” – or else.

Cut to Trump: “You mean the laptop from hell is another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax?” For the record: Joe Biden did blame the contents of son Hunter’s laptop from hell on Russia. And discussing North Korea, when Trump said he got along fine with Kim Jong-Un, Biden stated, “We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe.” Incidentally, Germany is and remains in Europe. And it’s quite something to see Biden acknowledging in public proven US industrial and political support to Nazism. So, inevitably, the laptop from hell had to show up. The FBI had Hunter Biden’s laptop since December 2019 – as it had issued a subpoena for it in the first place. And yet the FBI sat on the laptop for 11 months doing nothing.

That must have given plenty of time for those pesky Russians to steal the laptop and plant incriminating evidence. Well, not really. The FBI was busy mulling how to conduct an investigation on “money laundering”. And not on child porn – which, according to Giuliani, is the piece de resistance in the laptop. No one knows if these alleged “investigations” are ongoing. Now, the FBI and the Department of Justice have finally “concurred”: Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails were not part of a Russian disinformation campaign – directly contradicting what Joe Biden said in the debate. But then, right before the debate, a bombshell presser – including the FBI and Homeland Security – had announced those pesky Russians and Iranians were in fact “trying to influence opinion” on the US elections. “Self-evident truths” were back with a bang. One can’t make this stuff up.

Read more …

‘Jurors have no idea what a normal sentence is..’

After 224 Years, Virginia To Let Judges Decide Sentences (DM)

Virginia juries have been allowed to decide punishments for criminals for more than 200 years, but a new state bill could put that sentencing power in the hands of judges. Defense attorneys call it ‘the jury penalty’ – a centuries-old sentencing system in Virginia that calls for juries to decide punishment for criminal defendants, which often leads to stiffer sentences than what judges give or prosecutors offer in plea deals. This sentencing structure has been in place for 224 years, but under a bill recently approved by the state legislature, Virginia is expected to turn sentencing over to judges, joining the vast majority of states around the country. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a strong supporter of criminal justice reform, is expected to sign the bill into law.

The proposal sparked fierce debate during a special legislative session focused on criminal justice and police reform. Supporters of the change said giving judges the sentencing responsibility will result in fairer sentences, but prosecutors predicted it will result in more jury trials and therefore require additional judges, court clerks and public defenders. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Joe Morrissey from Richmond, said that under the current system, many people charged with crimes in Virginia are so fearful of getting a severe sentence from a jury that they often accept a plea deal from prosecutors that includes a longer sentence than they would typically get from a judge. Unlike judges, juries in Virginia are not given state sentencing guidelines that would tell them what a typical sentence would be for a particular crime, and they tend to hand out stiffer sentences.

In fiscal year 2019, sentences handed down by juries went above sentencing guidelines 37 per cent of the time, and in 2018, juries exceeded sentencing guidelines nearly 50 per cent of the time, according to annual reports by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. ‘Jurors have no idea what a normal sentence is,’ Morrissey said. ‘That’s why it is important to have a judge sentencing who has the guidelines and can put it into context.’

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Unparalelled wealth transfer.

Global Wealth Shrugs Off Pandemic To Hit $400 Trillion For First Time Ever (F.)

Despite the pandemic plunging economies worldwide into their deepest slumps on record and tens of millions being made unemployed, global wealth has risen to its highest level ever. Since the start of the year, total household wealth has grown by $1 trillion, or 0.25%, to top $400 trillion for the first time, according to Credit Suisse’s annual global wealth report. Most of this increase has been due to the rapid rebound of stock markets from their March lows. This was driven by governments pumping billions into their economies to stave off collapse as the pandemic gathered pace. On the face of it, the average global household’s wealth is little changed in 2020, despite the economic turmoil. But drilling deeper into the numbers reveals huge disparities, with the headline figures masking a vast gulf between the economic winners and losers this year.


Average household wealth rose by 0.25% between the start of the year and the end of June. However, average wealth per adult actually fell slightly, by 0.4% to $76,984 because the number of adults rose quicker during the six months. Anthony Shorrocks, Credit Suisse’s economist and the report author, said: “Given the damage inflicted by Covid-19 on the global economy, it seems remarkable that household wealth has emerged relatively unscathed.”The volatility this year has been a marked contrast to the upward trajectory of wealth growth seen in 2019. Last year, total global wealth rose by $36.3 trillion, or 8.5%, a record pace as global stock markets surged. In the first three months of this year, $17.5 trillion was wiped off household wealth worldwide as the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a savage equity crash. The subsequent recovery meant that total household wealth is slightly up on the year.

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“..externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent…”

Capitalism Double-Bills: We Pay For Our Future To Be Stolen From Us (Cook)

Here is a word that risks deterring you from reading on much further, even though it may hold the key to understanding why we are in such a terrible political, economic and social mess. That word is “externalities”. It sounds like a piece of economic jargon. It is a piece of economic jargon. But it is also the foundation stone on which the west’s current economic and ideological system has been built. Focusing on how externalities work and how they have come to dominate every sphere of our lives is to understand how we are destroying our planet – and offer at the same time the waypost to a better future. In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process.

Here is what should be a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalising the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier. The externalised cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various tabs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.

Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run. They are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximise profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace. Companies are therefore motivated to offload as many costs as possible on to others. As we shall see, externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. And for that reason, externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent.

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The lira plunged again this week. Everytime that happens, Erdogan plays more to his hardcore supporters to blame outsiders.

France Recalls Turkey Envoy After Erdogan Says Macron Needs Mental Check (BBC)

France has recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insulted his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. He said Mr Macron needed a mental health check for pledging to defend secular values and fight radical Islam. Mr Macron has spoken out forcefully on these issues after a French teacher was murdered for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class. France “will not give up our cartoons”, he said earlier this week. Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad can cause serious offence to Muslims because Islamic tradition explicitly forbids images of Muhammad and Allah (God). But state secularism – or laïcité – is central to France’s national identity.


Curbing freedom of expression to protect the feelings of one particular community, the state says, undermines the country’s unity. Responding to Mr Macron’s campaign to defend such values – which began before the teacher was murdered – Mr Erdogan asked in a speech: “What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?” He added: “Macron needs treatment on a mental level. “What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?” In the wake of the remarks, a French presidential official told AFP news agency that France’s ambassador to Turkey was being recalled for consultations, and would be meeting Mr Macron.

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The UK gov’t needs this, to maintain the Skripal and Navalny narratives.

BBC White Helmets ‘Documentary’ Targets Syria War Narratives Challengers (RT)

The BBC is preparing an attack against journalists, former diplomats, academics and scientists who challenge the dominant pro-war narratives against Syria underpinned by the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets. The British public broadcaster has sent out requests for comments to those who have dared to expose the role the UK government and its intelligence agencies have played in the destabilization of Syria, which look more like neo-McCarthyist charge sheets. The producer of an upcoming Radio 4 documentary series had been in email and telephone conversation with the author of this article, as well as Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria, and members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda (WGSMP) since June 2020. The result of those conversations, during which the evidence emanating from serious scientific research and on-the-ground testimony was presented to the producer, was a familiar list of accusations of “conspiracy theorism” and suggestions of “incentivized” Russian or Syrian bias.

Fellow independent journalist Eva Bartlett has spent long periods of time inside Syria, reporting from many of the most high-risk areas during the Syrian Arab Army allied campaigns to liberate swathes of Syrian territory from the US coalition-proxy occupation. She had this to say about the email she received a few days ago: “The questions emailed to me by the BBC evidence a predetermined intent to character assassination. This approach shows an utter lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the BBC. The BBC’s hostile insinuations against me arrogantly infer that neither I nor the Syrians I interview think for ourselves, but are puppets of the Syrian and Russian governments. My journalism dates back to 2007 and is quite extensive, with 13 years of on the ground experience, from Palestine and Syria, to Venezuela and eastern Ukraine, and elsewhere.

[..] The former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, also received the BBC bill of indictment and he issued this statement in response: “The BBC have systematically tried to suppress views on Syria which run counter to the standard one-sided narrative. This programme’s efforts to smear dissenters takes BBC conduct to a new low. By alleging conspiracy theorising where there is only evidence-based reporting and analysis, the BBC is showing its frustration at being unable to stifle truth-telling. The only conspiracy here is whatever coordination has taken place between the BBC and British authorities responsible for failing to achieve regime change in Syria despite throwing many millions of taxpayer money at the effort. Why is the BBC not drawing attention to the biggest failure of British foreign policy since Suez, as judged by its self-proclaimed objective of removing Assad, rather than busying itself with trying to take down unsupported individual dissenters who have ranged against them the vast wealth and resources of the establishment?

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“He has also renounced his old ways and paid back a Ukrainian gas company fourfold.”

Amy Coney Barrett Adopts Local Troubled Youngster Named Hunter (BBee)

According to sources, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has adopted her 8th child, a troubled local youngster named Hunter. In a touching story of love triumphing over all odds, the Barrett family fought for custody of Hunter and welcomed him into their family for the first time this week. “This family has love to spare,” said Judge Barrett. “We just knew we had another child out there somewhere. We were told by the agency that young Hunter had his fair share of issues, but we knew we would be up to the challenge.” According to friends of the family, Hunter is slowly adjusting to his new home and family. He has kicked an old drug habit and is now attending church with the rest of the family.

He has also renounced his old ways and paid back a Ukrainian gas company fourfold. “We love having Hunter with us!” said the leader of the small church group Hunter attends every week. “Whenever we share testimonies, he puts our testimonies to shame with stories of drugs, corruption, and horrific scandal, unlike anything we’ve heard. Awesome!” Judge Barrett is still struggling to teach Hunter the value of hard work. He is being paid a few dollars to do chores around the house when he’s used to being paid $50,000 per month for nothing. “We’re still working on it,” she said.

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 172018
 


René Magritte Companions of fear 1942

 

Repo 105 (Ben Hunt)
The Everything Bubble” Threatens $400 Trillion In Assets (ZH)
What Can Cause the Next Mortgage Crisis in the US? (WS)
Dollar Dominant & Dangerous, System Not Stable – Catherine Austin Fitts (USAW)
Shell Faces One Of The Biggest Corruption Cases In Corporate History (Ind.)
Only Alternative To Chequers Is No Brexit Deal, Says Theresa May (G.)
Brussels Nearing Impasse With May Over Irish Border Proposal (G.)
Four In 10 Think British Culture Is Undermined By Multiculturalism (G.)
Musk Says Tesla Now In ‘Delivery Logistics Hell’ (R.)
The EU Needs A Stability And Wellbeing Pact, Not More Growth (G.)
7 Endangered Species That Could (Almost) Fit In A Single Train Carriage (G.)

 

 

Lehman sold bad loans to banks for a fee so it could look better, only to buy them back days later. It was very basic fraud. And Dick Fuld walked away.

Repo 105 (Ben Hunt)

Every time Dick Fuld’s publicists succeed in getting a “redemption story” published in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, I’m going to write an Epsilon Theory brief about Repo 105, the fraudulent scheme that Lehman Brothers ran for years to hide its deteriorating financial condition from investors and regulators alike.

[..] Repo 105 was a multiyear scheme by Lehman to defraud the government and its own investors by falsifying the actual amount of loans it had on the books, making Lehman look safer than it actually was. It worked like this. A few days before the end of the calendar quarter, Lehman would “sell” billions of dollars worth of loans to another bank. I put “sell” in quotation marks, because Lehman ALSO had an agreement with these other banks to buy the loans back a few days after the quarter ended for the same price as they were sold, plus enough money to cover whatever the going interest rate was on that cash for the few days it was in Lehman’s hands. This is what’s called a repurchase agreement, or repo, hence the name Repo 105 (the 105 refers to the 5% overcollateralization that counterparty banks required to lend the cash to Lehman even for a few days – THEY knew Lehman was in trouble).

Since financial reporting happens at the end of the quarter, Lehman’s books would look like they had more cash and fewer loans than they actually did. Surely, you say, no law firm would bless this blatant attempt to cook the books? And I say, don’t call me Shirley. I say, well … no US law firm would bless this, so naturally Lehman found a UK firm, Linklaters, to say that this was, in fact, technically a “true sale”. Even then, to pull this off Lehman had to run Repo 105 through their offshore subsidiaries, not through their US-chartered entities. It was really expensive for Lehman to run Repo 105. But also entirely necessary, or else the entire house of cards that WAS Lehman would have collapsed well before September, 2008.

Read more …

Risk. It’s back.

The Everything Bubble” Threatens $400 Trillion In Assets (ZH)

By now, it’s a very familiar question: how high can the Fed hike rates before it causes a major market “event.” Two weeks ago, Stifel analyst Barry Banister became the latest to issue a timeline on how many more rate hikes the Fed can push through before the market is finally impacted. According to his calculations, just two more rate hikes would put the central bank above the neutral rate – the interest rate that neither stimulates nor holds back the economy. The Fed’s long-term projection of its policy rate has risen from 2.8% at the end of 2017 to 2.9% in June. As the following chart, every time this has happened, a bear market has inevitably followed.

A similar argument was made recently by both Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, which in two parallel analyses observed last year that every Fed tightening cycle tends to end in a crisis. In a report issued on Friday, BCA’s strategists make the key point that the performance of bonds – and stocks – in an inflation scare would depend on the relative size of the inflationary impulse compared with the disinflationary impulse that resulted from sharply lower risk-asset prices. They make the point that if central banks were more concerned about the inflationary impulse, which at least for Fed chair Powell appears to be the case for now – Janet Yellen’s “lower for longer revised forward guidance” notwithstanding – they would have to keep tightening – in which case, bond yields would be liberated to reach elevated territory.

Conversely, if the bigger worry was the disinflationary impulse, which arguably is the case from a legacy standpoint, central banks would quickly reverse course, and bond yields would return to the lowlands. Thus, the disinflationary impulse from lower risk-asset prices would end up as the bigger issue. [..] BCA estimates that the total value of global risk-assets is $400 trillion, equal to about five times the size of the global economy. The takeaway is that any inflationary impulse would – through higher bond yields – undermine the valuation support of global risk-assets that are worth several times the size of the global economy.

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“In a rising housing market, delinquencies will always be low but are not an indicator of future default risks. But home prices are an indicator of default risk.”

What Can Cause the Next Mortgage Crisis in the US? (WS)

Mortgage delinquencies at all commercial banks in the US inched down to 3.14% in the second quarter, the lowest since Q2 2007, according to the Federal Reserve. But after those soothingly low delinquency rates in 2007, something happened. By Q3 2008, the delinquency rate hit 5.2%, and in Q4 2009, it went over 10%, and stayed in the double-digits until Q1 2013. This was the mortgage crisis. And we’re a million miles away from it, thank God. Or are we? This chart compares home prices in the US (green, left scale) to delinquency rates (red, right scale). Delinquency rates started surging after home prices started falling. The inflection point is marked by the vertical purple line, labeled “it starts”:

Home prices began falling in 2006. By 2008, some homeowners were seriously “underwater” – they owed more on their house than the house was worth. When they ran into financial trouble because they were in over their heads, or because one of the breadwinners in the household lost their jobs, or because they’d lied on their mortgage application and never had enough income to begin with, or because they were investors who couldn’t make the math work out anymore, or whatever, they were stuck. In a rising housing market, they would just sell the home and pay off the mortgage. But they couldn’t sell their home because it was worth less than the mortgage, and default was the only option. The chart above shows the relationship between home prices and delinquencies. In a rising housing market, delinquencies will always be low but are not an indicator of future default risks. But home prices are an indicator of default risk.

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“The U.S. government is “missing” $21 trillion between the DOD and HUD.”

Dollar Dominant & Dangerous, System Not Stable – Catherine Austin Fitts (USAW)

Investment advisor and former Assistant Secretary of Housing, Catherine Austin Fitts, predicts the global financial system “will take some big hits before the end of the year.” Fitts explains, “Right now, economists say the dollar is ‘dangerous and dominant.’ It’s still, if you look at the market shares around the world, it’s still very, very significant portion of total reserves. So, it’s still very important. At the same time, the U.S. dollar hegemony is probably not going to last forever . . . So, I think the long term dollar looks very weak. Short term, it doesn’t look like it’s coming apart anytime soon, as far as I can see. What that means is when you have something that is dangerous and dominant, you have the possibility of extreme volatility events.

That’s the new code word for the ‘you know what’ hits the, you know what. Whether it’s different countries exploding economically, or we whether are pressuring people that makes them very uncomfortable, these kinds of fights over shrinking pies are very dangerous because they mean covert wars. They mean overt wars, and the more we steal pies from each other instead of make new pies, the worse the situation gets. That’s what you are seeing. The system is not stable.” [..] There is good reason people are going to real assets. The U.S. government is “missing” $21 trillion between the DOD and HUD. This fact was uncovered by Fitts and economist Dr. Mark Skidmore last year.

What was the government’s answer to this gigantic accounting fraud that is the size of the federal deficit? Give the government’s budgets basically classified national security status. Fitts says, “Apparently, the people leading the audit have come to them and said if we do this audit, we will disclose classified projects. So, the board (Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board – FASAB) came out with a new policy. I say it is illegal. You cannot do it under the financial management laws, and you certainly cannot do it under the Constitution, and it said you can keep classified off the books, which means you can cook the books and you can basically do whatever you want.

Read more …

What was that about reality and fiction?

Shell Faces One Of The Biggest Corruption Cases In Corporate History (Ind.)

Giant oil companies, offshore accounts, ex-MI6 agents, champagne lunches, a former Nigerian president and allegations of one of the biggest bribes ever paid – the corruption case against Shell and Italy’s Eni filed by prosecutors in Milan over a shady $1.3bn deal for a vast African oil field has all the elements of an espionage thriller. The latest twists thicken the plot further with a cache of documents seized in a raid on a Swiss financier’s apartment that could be crucial to the case, leaving prosecutors in a race against time to get them to Milan as trial hearings get underway this week. The Geneva raid uncovered a briefcase belonging to Emeka Obi, a middleman who received millions of dollars from the deal and is in the dock along with several senior Shell and Eni executives.

Inside the briefcase, Swiss prosecutors found a laptop, two Nigerian passports, five sim cards and a hard drive containing 41,000 documents that prosecutors believe could be crucial to the trial playing out on the other side of the Alps. The stakes are high. Italian prosecutors allege that, of the total $1.3bn fee paid by Shell and Eni for the oil field, $1.1bn went not into the coffers of the Nigerian state but the accounts of former oil minister Dan Etete who then distributed hundreds of millions to well-connected individuals, including former president Goodluck Jonathan. The amount distributed as bribes is more than the entire Nigerian healthcare budget for 2018, in a country where 87 million people live in extreme poverty – more than any other country on earth.

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She’s stuck. Dangerous position.

Only Alternative To Chequers Is No Brexit Deal, Says Theresa May (G.)

May said: “I believe we will get a good deal. We will bring that back from the EU negotiations and put that to parliament. I think that the alternative to that will be not having a deal.” The Chequers plan prompted the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson. May tried again to remake the case for it by claiming the other options put forward by the EU were unacceptable. “The European Union had basically put two offers on the table. Either the UK stays in the single market and the customs union – effectively in the EU – that would have betrayed the vote of the British people,” she said.

“Or, on the other side, a basic free trade agreement but carving Northern Ireland out and effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the European Union and Great Britain out. That would have broken up the United Kingdom, or could have broken up the United Kingdom. Both of those were unacceptable to the UK. “We said ‘no’ … we’re going to put our own proposal forward and that’s what Chequers is about … It unblocked the negotiations.”

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Preparing to blame the EU for failing.

Brussels Nearing Impasse With May Over Irish Border Proposal (G.)

The EU is proving unable to convince Theresa May that by using “trusted trader schemes” and technology its proposal to in effect keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market will not draw a border in the Irish sea. The Brexit negotiations have reached an impasse over the failure to find an acceptable solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland after the UK leaves the EU. The solution proposed by Brussels in which Northern Ireland has a different status from the rest of the UK has been rejected by the prime minister as involving the economic and constitutional “dislocation” of the country. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has nevertheless repeatedly insisted that the issue can be “de-dramatised”.

Barnier has sought to show that the level of trade between Belfast and the rest of the UK is minimal, and that the checks that would be required do not pose a constitutional threat to the British government. But according to what is described as a diplomatic note seen by the Times, the EU is struggling to convince the UK that it is significant that checks at a border could be avoided entirely for many companies through trusted trade schemes. The diplomatic note, said to have been drafted following a meeting of EU ambassadors last Wednesday with Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand, reports that the UK has not been “helpful” over the issue. The note says: “The biggest unsolved problem is Northern Ireland. There is a political mobilisation in the UK in this regard. Therefore, we are trying to clarify the EU position. The controls or checks only have to be organised in a way that would not endanger the EU single market.”

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How about you start by picking your own strawberries?

Four In 10 Think British Culture Is Undermined By Multiculturalism (G.)

A large minority of people in the UK believe multiculturalism has undermined British culture and that migrants do not properly integrate, according to some of the broadest research into the population’s attitudes to immigration. The study, conducted over the last two years, also reflects widespread frustration at the government’s handling of immigration, with only 15% of respondents feeling ministers have managed it competently and fairly. On balance, the UK population appears to be slightly more positive than negative about the impact of immigration; however, 40% of respondents agreed that having a wide variety of backgrounds has undermined British culture. More than a quarter of people believe MPs never tell the truth about immigration and half the population wants to see a reduction in the numbers of low-skilled workers coming into Britain from the EU.

The study was based on a survey of 3,667 adults carried out in June by ICM, as well as 60 citizens’ panels carried out on behalf of the thinktank British Future and the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate. “The lack of trust we found in the government to manage immigration is quite shocking,” said Jill Rutter, the director of strategy for British Future. “People want to have their voices heard on the choices we make, and to hold their leaders to account on their promises. While people do want the UK government to have more control over who can come to the UK, most of them are ‘balancers’ – they recognise the benefits of migration to Britain, both economically and culturally, but also voice concerns about pressures on public services and housing.”

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“Should be solved shortly..”

Musk Says Tesla Now In ‘Delivery Logistics Hell’ (R.)

Tesla Inc’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Sunday acknowledged that the electric carmaker’s problems have now shifted to delivery logistics from production delays, the latest speed bump in its efforts to achieve profitability. “Sorry, we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable. We’re making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly,” Musk said in a tweet here in response to a customer complaint on delivery delay. The 47-year-old billionaire who earlier this month faced investor ire over smoking marijuana on a live web show, has indicated in the past that Tesla’s customers may face a longer response time because of a significant increase in vehicle delivery volume in North America.

Read more …

238 academics signed. But it’s not the conversation we’ll have.

The EU Needs A Stability And Wellbeing Pact, Not More Growth (G.)

This week, scientists, politicians, and policymakers are gathering in Brussels for a landmark conference. The aim of this event, organised by members of the European parliament from five different political groups, alongside trade unions and NGOs, is to explore possibilities for a “post-growth economy” in Europe. For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations. But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment. We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required. Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have.

Growth is also becoming harder to achieve due to declining productivity gains, market saturation, and ecological degradation. If current trends continue, there may be no growth at all in Europe within a decade. Right now the response is to try to fuel growth by issuing more debt, shredding environmental regulations, extending working hours, and cutting social protections. This aggressive pursuit of growth at all costs divides society, creates economic instability, and undermines democracy. Those in power have not been willing to engage with these issues, at least not until now. The European commission’s Beyond GDP project became GDP and Beyond. The official mantra remains growth — redressed as “sustainable”, “green”, or “inclusive” – but first and foremost, growth. Even the new UN sustainable development goals include the pursuit of economic growth as a policy goal for all countries, despite the fundamental contradiction between growth and sustainability.

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Another way to put it. You could easily do this for 70 species, or 700, 7000.

7 Endangered Species That Could (Almost) Fit In A Single Train Carriage (G.)

Some species are so close to extinction, that every remaining member can fit on a New York subway carriage (if they squeeze). All estimates come from the IUCN Red List, 2018.

 

 

Read more …

Jun 012018
 


Edward Hopper Rooms by the sea 1951

 

Deutsche Bank Downgraded By S&P Over Restructuring Plans (MW)
ANZ, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup Face ‘Criminal Cartel’ Charges (BBC)
Deutsche Bank’s US Ops Deemed “Troubled” By Fed A Year Ago (R.)
Why Turkey And Argentina Are Doomed (ZH)
US On Brink Of Trade War With EU, Canada and Mexico (G.)
China To Slash Import Tariffs On Many Consumer Products By 60% From July 1 (R.)
Populist Government To Be Sworn In As Italy’s Political Deadlock Ends (G.)
Italians Back Euro But Rail Against EU’s Rules (G.)
Juncker: Italians Need To Work Harder And Be Less Corrupt (G.)
Spain’s Government Poised To Fall As Socialists Prepare For Power (Ind.)
UK’s “Bank of Mum & Dad” is Running Out of Liquidity (DQ)
Ecuador’s President Says Assange Can Stay In Embassy ‘With Conditions’ (G.)

 

 

Deutsche is enormous. Its derivatives portfolio is gigantic. This is a big story.

Deutsche Bank Downgraded By S&P Over Restructuring Plans (MW)

Deutsche Bank was downgraded Friday by S&P Global Ratings, which cited concerns over the German lender’s restructuring plans. The ratings agency cut the long-term issuer credit rating to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-‘on the bank and its core operating subsidiaries. The troubled bank last week announced plans to cut thousands of jobs in a bid to overhaul its operations and cut costs, but S&P said they see “significant execution risks in the delivery of the updated strategy amid a continued unhelpful market backdrop, and we think that, relative to peers, Deutsche Bank will remain a negative outlier for some time,” in a statement. Investors also demanded the resignation of the bank’s chairman, Paul Achleitner, at the Annual General Meeting last week.

Shares have tumbled 42% so far this year. The agency kept a stable rating on the bank’s outlook, saying that management will execute the plan over time and achieve longer-term objectives. Meanwhile, Australia’s consumer watchdog on Friday announced that it would be bringing criminal cartel charges against Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and Australia & New Zealand Banking. Shares of Deutsche Bank opened up 1.5%, bouncing off a 7% drop Thursday, which came after the Federal Reserve designated the German lender’s U.S. business in “troubled condition,” people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

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Deutsche again. Insult and injury.

ANZ, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup Face ‘Criminal Cartel’ Charges (BBC)

Financial institutions ANZ, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup will be prosecuted on criminal cartel charges, Australia’s consumer watchdog says. The allegations concern arrangements for the sale of A$2.5bn (£1.4bn; $1.9bn) worth of ANZ shares in 2015. The three banks said they would fight the charges. ANZ said it would also defend allegations against an employee. Australia’s scandal-plagued financial sector is at the centre of a national inquiry into misconduct. Several “other individuals” are also expected to be charged by prosecutors, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.

“The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015,” chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. “It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct.” ANZ, one of Australia’s so-called “big four” banks, said the charges related to a placement of 80.8 million shares. The deal was underwritten by global giants Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and JP Morgan, as part of a bid by ANZ to raise capital to meet regulatory requirements. ANZ said regulators were now investigating whether it should have stated that 25.5 million shares of the placement had been taken up by “joint lead managers”.

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And it’s OK to keep that from -potential- shareholders, bondholders for over a year?!

Deutsche Bank’s US Ops Deemed “Troubled” By Fed A Year Ago (R.)

The United States Federal Reserve last year designated Deutsche Bank U.S. operations to be in “troubled condition”, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The Fed’s assessment has not previously been made public, it said, sending shares in the German lender down 7.2% to 9.16 euros, their lowest level in more than a year and a half. The “troubled condition” status is one of the lowest designations employed by the Fed, The WSJ said. The report comes a month after Deutsche Bank’s new Chief Executive Christian Sewing announced plans to cut back bond and equities trading, where it has been unable to compete with U.S. powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

Deutsche Bank’s attempts to break into the U.S. markets, which are seen as an essential plank for delivering a global investment banking platform, proved to be costly as it ended up paying out billions of dollars to settle regulatory breaches, prompting speculation at one point of a bailout by Berlin. The WSJ said that the Fed downgrade of Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations caused the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to put Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas on its list of “Problem Banks”.

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Clear enough.

Why Turkey And Argentina Are Doomed (ZH)

It was all the rage in 2017. Not long after contrarians like Jeff Gundlach and Russell Clark said to go long Emerging Markets, suddenly everyone was doing it, either as a standalone trade or as part of a pair trade shorting one or more DMs. Of course, maybe all they were doing was indirectly shorting the USD, which was arguably the biggest driver behind EM outperformance. But, in no small part due to the recent surge in the dollar, after outperforming developed equity markets by 20% in 2016-2017, EM is underperforming by 2.5% so far this year. Of course, it’s not just the dollar, but also interest rates, which until the recent Italian fiasco, were at 4 year, or greater, highs.

And, as JPM’s Michael Cembalest writes in his latest “Eye on the market” note, investor fears are predictably focused on the impact of rising US interest rates and the rising US dollar on EM external debt, and on rising oil prices. And yet, despite the occasional scream of terror from EM longs who refuse to throw in the towel, a closer look shows that the market reaction has been orderly so far, with two exceptions: Argentina and Turkey, which are leading the way down. However, as the JPM Asset Management CIO shows below, the collapse in these two countries has been largely a function of state-specific/idiosyncratic reasons.

The chart below, courtesy of Cembalest, shows each country’s current account (x-axis), the recent change in its external borrowing (y-axis) and the return on a blended portfolio of its equity and fixed income markets (the larger the red bubble, the worse the returns have been). This outcome looks sensible given weaker Argentine and Turkish fundamentals. And while Cembalest admits that the rising dollar and rising US rates will be a challenge for the broader EM space, most will probably not face balance of payments crises similar to what is taking place in Turkey and Argentina, of which the latter is already getting an IMF bailout and the former, well… it’s only a matter of time.

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1: look if present conditions are fair. 2: adapt them.

US On Brink Of Trade War With EU, Canada and Mexico (G.)

The United States and its traditional allies are on the brink of a full-scale trade war after European and Canadian leaders reacted swiftly and angrily to Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium producers. The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, promised immediate retaliation after the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said EU companies would face a 25% duty on steel and a 10% duty on aluminium from midnight on Thursday. Europe, along with Canada and Mexico, had been granted a temporary reprieve from the tariffs after they were unveiled by Donald Trump two months ago.

However, Ross sent shudders through global financial markets when he said insufficient progress had been made in talks with three of the US’s traditional allies to reduce America’s trade deficit and that the waiver was being lifted. Wall Street slumped as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 250 points as investors sold off shares in manufacturers and corporations with global reach. Shares across Europe also declined. The move from Washington – which comes at a time when Trump is also threatening protectionist action against China – triggered an immediate and angry response from Canada, Brussels and from individual European capitals.

Juncker called the US move “unjustified” and said the EU had no choice but to hit back with tariffs on US goods and a case at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. “We will defend the Union’s interests, in full compliance with international trade law,” he added. Brussels has already announced that it would target Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and bourbon whiskey.

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Something’s working.

China To Slash Import Tariffs On Many Consumer Products By 60% From July 1 (R.)

China will cut import tariffs on nearly 1,500 consumer products ranging from cosmetics to home appliances from July 1, in a bid to boost imports as part of efforts to open up the economy. The move would be in step with Beijing’s pledge to its trade partners – including the United States – that China will take steps to increase imports, and offers a boon to global brands looking to deepen their presence in China. The finance ministry published a detailed list of products affected and their new reduced tax rates on Thursday, following early announcements of the broader plan. Starting next month, the average tariff rate on 1,449 products imported from most favored nations will be reduced to 6.9% from 15.7%, which is equivalent to a cut of about 60%, the finance ministry said in a statement on its website.

That followed an announcement from the State Council, or the country’s Cabinet, on Wednesday that China will cut import tariffs on consumer items including apparel, cosmetics, home appliances, and drugs. The tariff cuts this time are more broad-ranging than previous reductions. Import tariffs for apparel, footwear and headgear, kitchen supplies and fitness products will be more than halved to an average of 7.1% from 15.9%, with those on washing machines and refrigerators slashed to just 8%, from 20.5%. Tariffs will also be cut on processed foods such as aquaculture and fishing products and mineral water, from 15.2% to 6.9%.

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Savona comes out strong. His replacement as finance minister is no fan of the euro, and he himself is EU minister.

Populist Government To Be Sworn In As Italy’s Political Deadlock Ends (G.)

A populist government will be sworn into power in Italy on Friday after president Sergio Mattarella agreed to a revised slate of ministers – just days after a bitter row over the incoming leaders’ stance on the euro ended their initial bid to assume power. A joint statement by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League announced that political newcomer Giuseppe Conte, who had been seen as a controversial choice, would serve as prime minister. The relatively unknown law professor met Mattarella late on Thursday night to put forward a list of ministers, which the president has accepted.

“All the conditions have been fulfilled for a political, Five Star and League government,” said Luigi Di Maio, the Five Star chief, and Matteo Salvini, the League leader, in a joint statement after a day of talks in Rome. The deal will bring at least temporary calm to a political crisis that has embroiled Italy for weeks. The tumult raised questions – in Brussels and among investors around the world – about whether the rise in Italian populism and the collapse of traditional parties posed a fundamental threat to the country’s future in the eurozone.

The formation of the new government will at least temporarily allay those concerns, because it will remove for now the threat that snap elections will be called later this summer, a prospect which worried investors because it could have bolstered support for anti-EU parties. The populist leaders stepped back from their insistence that Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old Eurosceptic, should serve as finance minister. The choice had been vetoed by Mattarella, prompting the M5S and the League to call off their deal. Savona will now serve as EU minister instead. But there are still many unknowns about how the new administration – an uneasy alliance between two former political opponents, both jockeying for power – will govern Italy.

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If the EU doesn’t adapt to its new reality, it’s doomed.

Italians Back Euro But Rail Against EU’s Rules (G.)

Ever since the inception of the EU, Italians have been among the staunchest defenders of the European project. But the political crisis that engulfed the bloc’s third largest economy this week, centring on a debate over Italy’s commitment to the eurozone, has spooked investors and worried Brussels. It has raised a question that just a few years ago would have seemed unfathomable: are Italians ready to ditch the euro? The answer, like most aspects of Italian politics, is complicated. Opinion polls show that a majority of Italians – 59%, according to Eurobarometer – support the country’s continued inclusion in the eurozone. But that does not mean they want to continue to abide by the rules set by Brussels, which Italy agreed to when it adopted the currency.

Instead, more Italians are seeking a tougher and more antagonistic approach towards Brussels, after years of frustration over fiscal constraints set by the EU coupled with a feeling that Europe has abandoned Italy to cope on its own with the migration crisis. The latest Eurobarometer survey found that only 3 in 10 Italians believed their voices counted within the EU. While a full break from the EU – an “Italexit” – is not a matter of public debate (such a move is considered implausible even among the most hardline Eurosceptics), surveys show Italians generally have a dim view of the bloc. Eurobarometer found that 39% believed Italy’s inclusion in the EU was a “good thing” and 44% believed Italy benefited from being in the EU.

In March, stagnant economic growth and concerns about immigration drove voters across Italy to vote in large numbers for two populist parties – the Five Star Movement and the League, formerly the Northern League – while the most pro-EU party, the Democratic party (PD), suffered a humiliating defeat. Josef Janning, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said: “There is no desire to exit. But there is a willingness to follow the League and the Five Star Movement and to say ‘we don’t want to follow the rules’. That seems to be the new consensus.”

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It’s like he’s talking about himself.

Juncker: Italians Need To Work Harder And Be Less Corrupt (G.)

Jean-Claude Juncker has said Italians need to work harder, be less corrupt and stop looking to the EU to rescue the country’s poor regions, in comments unlikely to ease the fraught political battle over Italy’s future relationship with Brussels. Days after the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, defended Italy’s place in the eurozone against the country’s populist leaders, the president of the European commission said he was in “deep love” with “bella Italia”, but could not accept that all the country’s problems should be blamed on the EU or the commission. “Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy. That means more work; less corruption; seriousness,” Juncker said.

“We will help them as we always did. But don’t play this game of loading with responsibility the EU. A country is a country, a nation is a nation. Countries first, Europe second.” Officials in Brussels and markets around the world are awaiting the outcome of ongoing talks between Italy’s two populist leaders, Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, on forming a new government. After making the remarks during a question and answer session in Brussels, Juncker added it would be best to be “silent and prudent and cautious” this week, whenever he was asked about Italy. “I have full confidence in the genius of the Italian people,” he said.

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“..the PP’s former treasurer, as well as 28 others previously linked to the party, sentenced to jail for 33 years for fraud and money-laundering..”

Spain’s Government Poised To Fall As Socialists Prepare For Power (Ind.)

Mariano Rajoy’s chances of remaining Spanish Premier evaporated almost completely after the moderate Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) confirmed that its MPs would vote in favour of a parliamentary no-confidence motion against him if he did not resign. Despite its tiny number of MPs – five deputies in a 350 seater parliament – it is widely believed that the PNV’s decision will tip the balance against Mr Rajoy in a no-confidence motion, by a mere four votes. If successful, the Socialist party leader Pedro Sánchez, who tabled the no-confidence motion last week, would be automatically elected as Spanish PM, ending seven years of centre-right rule by the Partido Popular (PP) in Spain.

However, given that those voting in favour of the motion – ranging from Catalan Republican Nationalists, currently at daggers drawn with almost all Spain’s mainstream political parties, through to the left-wing Podemos coalition – have little in common beyond a desire to depose Mr Rajoy so a new government could prove highly unstable. Should Mr Rajoy lose the vote, he will be Spain’s first PM to leave office as a result of a no-confidence motion since democracy was restored to the country more than four decades ago.

[..] the impact of a court verdict last week in the so called Gurtel case, a cash-for-kickback scandal that saw the PP’s former treasurer, as well as 28 others previously linked to the party, sentenced to jail for 33 years for fraud and money-laundering, coupled with a €240,000 (£210,000) fine for the PP itself, left Mr Rajoy looking unexpectedly vulnerable.

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“Mum & dad are lending money to their kids so their kids can afford to pay the prices demanded by mum & dad & their friends..” “It’s like a giant Ponzi scheme but where the victims are your children.”

UK’s “Bank of Mum & Dad” is Running Out of Liquidity (DQ)

Mortgages for 100% (or above) of the purchase price not only help fuel high-octane housing bubbles, they also make them a lot riskier when home prices decline, and when more and more borrowers end up with negative equity – where someone’s home is worth less than their debt. That, in turn, significantly raises the likelihood of borrowers defaulting on their loans. And that’s why these 100% mortgages are risky for banks. Today’s new breed of 100% mortgages has a twist in its tail: to provide the banks extra security, they are insisting on family members acting as guarantors for parts of the loans. In other words, if a borrower falls behind on repayments, a parent’s home can also be put at risk.

This kind of deal is becoming increasingly common in the UK, where property prices still remain close to their all-time high despite fears prompted by Brexit and the recent cooling of London’s property market. Underpaid and over-indebted, many young people cannot afford to put down even a 5% deposit on houses whose prices, after they’re adjusted for inflation, have almost doubled in the last 20 years. And a 10% or 15% down-payment is totally out of reach. Their only hope of getting onto the “property ladder” is to get a financial leg up from their parents.

So widespread is this phenomenon that in 2017 the so-called “Bank of Mum and Dad” became the ninth biggest mortgage lender in the UK shelling out some £6.5 billion in loans. Parents helped provide deposits for more than 298,000 mortgages last year — the equivalent of 26% of all transactions. “The Bank of Mum and Dad continues to grow in importance in helping young people take their early steps onto the housing ladder,” said Nigel Wilson, chief executive of the financial service company Legal & General.

It is not driven purely by altruism. The UK’s multi-decade property boom, propelled by artificially low interest rates and supportive government policies, has provided a huge source of wealth for baby boomers. If the Bank of Mum and Dad didn’t lend this money to the new generation, demand for new mortgages would dry up and the UK’s multi-decade housing bubble would have begun to deflate some time ago. As a result, the houses that mum and dad own would lose much of their “value” and their respective net worth would plummet. “Mum & dad are lending money to their kids so their kids can afford to pay the prices demanded by mum & dad & their friends,” explained buyers agent Henry Pryor. “It’s like a giant Ponzi scheme but where the victims are your children.”

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A glimmer of hope.

Ecuador’s President Says Assange Can Stay In Embassy ‘With Conditions’ (G.)

Lenín Moreno, the president of Ecuador, has said Julian Assange’s asylum status in the country’s London embassy is not under threat – provided he complies with the conditions of his stay and avoids voicing his political opinions on Twitter. However, in an interview with Deutsche Welle on Wednesday, Moreno said his government would “take a decision” if Assange didn’t comply with the restrictions. “Let’s not forget the conditions of his asylum prevent him from speaking about politics or intervening in the politics of other countries. That’s why we cut his communication,” he said. Ecuador suspended Assange’s communication’s system in March.

Moreno’s statements come two weeks after an investigation by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador revealed the country had bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Assange, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police. Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected him while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. Earlier this month, Moreno withdrew additional security assigned to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has remained for almost six years.

Moreno has previously described Assange’s situation as “a stone in his shoe” and repeatedly hinted that he wants to remove the Australian from the country’s London embassy. In an interview in Quito, the president said granting Assange Ecuadorian citizenship in December last year had not been his idea but that of the foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa. He had delegated all decisions related to the case to her, Moreno told Deutsche Welle.

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Nov 162017
 
 November 16, 2017  Posted by at 9:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Leonardo da Vinci Salvator Mundi 1513

 

Landmark Study Links Tory Austerity To 120,000 Deaths (Ind.)
Jeremy Corbyn Will Inevitably Become UK Prime Minister – Varoufakis (BI)
Why Care More About Benefit Scroungers Than Billions Lost To The Rich? (G.)
No Evidence Of Russian Interference In Brexit, PM May Admits In Parliament (RT)
China’s Outbound Investment Plunged 41% On Year In January To October (BBG)
Senior China Minister Says Some Officials Practice Sorcery (R.)
Corruption in China Could Lead To Soviet-Style Collapse – Graft Buster (ToI)
The Complete Idiot’s Guide To The Biggest Risks In China (ZH)
Why the Anti-Corruption Drive in Saudi Arabia is Doomed to Fail (CP)
Saudi Walks Back Escalation As Dramatic Moves Backfire (AP)
Friendly Reminder That Jeff Bezos Is Trying To Take Over The Universe (CJ)
Why Japan Knocks Down Its Houses After 30 Years (G.)
Kyle Bass: Investors to Pour Billions into Greece after Political Change (GR)
Lesvos Reaches Breaking Point, Mayor Declares General Strike (G.)
Monsanto, US Farm Groups Sue California Over Glyphosate Cancer Warnings (R.)
Plastics Found In Stomachs Of Deepest Sea Creatures (G.)

 

 

It doesn’t get much more damning than this. Nothing Monty Python about it.

Landmark Study Links Tory Austerity To 120,000 Deaths (Ind.)

The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths. The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels. On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year. Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths.

The paper identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in. From this reversal the authors identified that 45,368 extra deaths occurred between 2010 and 2014, than would have been expected, although it stops short of calling them “avoidable”. Based on those trends it predicted the next five years – from 2015 to 2020 – would account for 152,141 deaths – 100 a day – findings which one of the authors likened to “economic murder”. The Government began relaxing austerity measures this year announcing the end of its cap on public sector pay rises and announcing an extra £1.3bn for social care in the Spring Budget. Over three years the additional funding for social care is expected to reach £2bn, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said was “patching up a small part of the damage” wrought by £4.6bn cuts.

[..] The papers’ senior author and a researcher at UCL, Dr Ben Maruthappu, said that while the paper “can’t prove cause and effect” it shows an association. And he added this trend is seen elsewhere. “When you look at Portugal and other countries that have gone through austerity measures, they have found that health care provision gets worse and health care outcomes get worse,” he told The Independent. One of his co-author’s, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, said it showed the damage caused by austerity “It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics,” he said. “This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”

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After a report like that, yes. The Tories have taken things too far.

Jeremy Corbyn Will Inevitably Become UK Prime Minister – Varoufakis (BI)

Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece and author of “Adults in the Room: My Battle with the European and American Deep Establishment,” explains that Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister may be a likely scenario and that this would be beneficial for the UK economy. The following is a transcript of the video. Isn’t it astonishing that after Jeremy Corbyn was being described as “the longest suicide note by the Labour Party” about a year ago, today there is an air of inevitability in a Corbyn-led government. I think it’s a delicious irony and I’m very excited by this transition from impossibility to inevitability. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a friend of Jeremy Corbyn, a supporter, I’ve worked with his team and will continue to do so.

I believe that the re-orientation of British politics under Corbyn and in particular of the Labour Party is highly beneficial, not only to the large strata within British society that have been discarded in the last 20 to 30 years, but interestingly also for British business that produces real stuff as opposed to the City of London and various other service sectors that produce precarious jobs and nothing much of substance. British manufacturing has been left in the margins for far too long and the dearth of investment in fixed capital is something that this Conservative government has absolutely no interest in, or no concept of. A Labour, Corbyn-led government, might be what is necessary in order to create better circumstances both for labour and manufacturing capital in the United Kingdom.

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“Quite simply, people get hurt when the rich don’t pay their taxes.”

Why Care More About Benefit Scroungers Than Billions Lost To The Rich? (G.)

Will the Paradise Papers shift the public’s focus? The leaks alone are seemingly not enough. The 2016 British Social Attitudes survey was conducted just four months after the release of the Panama Papers. Even then, the British public remained more concerned about benefit claimants than tax avoiders. Fundamentally, the Paradise Papers are about numbers – vast sums of money disappearing offshore that could be spent on public services here in the UK. However, as the former chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot, has often pointed out, people are bad at dealing with numbers on this scale. Unless you are an economist or a statistician, numbers in the millions and billions are just not particularly meaningful.

The key is to link these numbers to their consequences. The money we lose because people like Lewis Hamilton don’t pay some VAT on their private jet means thousands more visits to food banks. The budget cuts leading to rising homelessness might not have been necessary if Apple had paid more tax. Fewer people might have killed themselves after a work-capability assessment if companies like Alphabet (Google) had not registered their offices in Bermuda, and the downward pressure on benefits payments was not so intense. The causal chains connecting these events are complex and often opaque, but that does not make their consequences any less real, especially for those who have felt the hard edge of austerity.

The Paradise Papers have dragged the murky world of offshore finance into the spotlight. However, calls for change may founder against the British public’s persistent focus on the perceived crimes of the poor. That is, unless we – as academics, politicians, journalists and others – can articulate how the decisions of the very rich contribute to the expulsion of the vulnerable from the protection of state-funded public services. Quite simply, people get hurt when the rich don’t pay their taxes.

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Oh, cut it out.

No Evidence Of Russian Interference In Brexit, PM May Admits In Parliament (RT)

Theresa May has rejected allegations that Russia interfered in the Brexit referendum. Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, she stated: “If they care to look at the speech on Monday, they will see that the examples I gave were not in the UK.” During a speech May gave at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, the British leader accused Russia of meddling in European elections, hacking attacks on western government institutions, and spreading fake news. During the customarily confrontational Prime Minister’s Questions, May said that, in her speech, she had indeed cited “Russian interference” occurring “in a number of countries in Europe.” However, she denied that this applied in any way to her own country.

Following the session, a spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that “I think we need to see more evidence about what’s being talked about. “In relation to Russia and tensions between NATO and Russia and western powers and Russia more generally, Jeremy has made clear on a number of occasions that we need to see an attempt through dialogue to ratchet down tensions with Russia.” May was responding to a question from Labour MP Mary Creagh, who referred to an assertion by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that he had seen no evidence of Russia interfering in the Brexit referendum. Johnson made the comment during an appearance before a Commons committee hearing on November 1. Upon prompting by a senior civil servant, Johnson replied “nyet,” and added in English that there was “not a sausage” of evidence.

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Once again: China needs its foreign reserves.

China’s Outbound Investment Plunged 41% On Year In January To October (BBG)

China’s non-financial outbound investment slumped to $86.3 billion in January to October, plunging 41% from a year earlier, as projects in some industries dried up. There were no new real estate, sports or entertainment deals for the period, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement Thursday. Most outbound investment was in leasing and business services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail sales and information technology services. “Irrational” outbound investment has been curbed further, the ministry said, repeating the language it has used this year as authorities push to halt capital outflows.

That’s reversing an unbroken streak of acceleration since at least 2010: Outbound investment soared 44.1% last year to $170.1 billion, about four times the 2009 level, Mofcom data show. “The combination of hardened capital controls and a crackdown on outbound M&A has dented China’s overseas investment,” said Tom Orlik, chief Asia economist at Bloomberg Economics in Beijing. “A short-term downturn was necessitated by the pressing need to stabilize the yuan. Sustained for too long, falling overseas investment would be tough to square with ambitions for greater international influence through the Belt and Road program.”

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In which sorcery is somehow the opposite of socialism.

Senior China Minister Says Some Officials Practice Sorcery (R.)

Some top Chinese officials are guilty of practicing sorcery and would rather believe in gurus and Western concepts of democracy than the Communist Party, a senior minister wrote on Thursday, warning of the danger they presented to its survival. China guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems such as Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are barred from what it calls superstitious practices, such as visits to soothsayers. Recent years have seen several cases of officials jailed as part of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption being accused of superstition, part of the party’s efforts to blacken their names.

Some senior officials in leadership positions had “fallen morally”, their beliefs straying from the correct path, wrote Chen Xi, the recently appointed head of the party’s powerful Organisation Department that oversees personnel decisions. “Some don’t believe in Marx and Lenin but believe in ghosts and gods; they don’t believe in ideals but believe in sorcery; they don’t respect the people but do respect masters,” he wrote in the official People’s Daily, referring to spiritual leaders or gurus. People in China, especially its leaders, have a long tradition of turning to soothsaying and geomancy to find answers to their problems in times of doubt, need and chaos. The practice has grown more risky amid Xi’s war on graft, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.

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Large scale arrests in the future?

Corruption in China Could Lead To Soviet-Style Collapse – Graft Buster (ToI)

China must step up its battle against corruption in order to safeguard against a Soviet-style collapse, the country’s second most senior graft buster said in an editorial on Wednesday. Yang Xiaodu, the deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, who was promoted to the ruling Communist Party’s 25-strong Politburo last month, said failure would risk the “red country changing colour”. In unusually direct and strongly worded criticism of previous administrations, Yang said “in a previous period”, corruption had been allowed to fester to such an extent that the party’s leadership had weakened, with supervision soft, and ideology apathetic. “It had developed to the point where if not rectified, the country could change colour,” Yang wrote in the official People’s Daily.

“The future fate of the party and the country’s people could follow the same old road to ruin as the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.” President Xi Jinping, like many officials before him, is steeped in the party’s long-held belief that loosening control too quickly or even at all could lead to chaos and the break up of the country. The party regularly implores cadres to study the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Yang’s editorial is the latest salvo signalling that the intensity of Xi’s signature war on corruption would not wane despite the departure of Xi’s right-hand man, Wang Qishan, who was widely seen as China’s second most powerful politician before being replaced as anti-corruption chief in a leadership reshuffle last month. Wang’s replacement, Zhao Leji, wrote a similarly strongly worded editorial in the People’s Daily on Saturday.

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Not doing well. At all.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To The Biggest Risks In China (ZH)

With both commodities and Chinese stocks suffering sharp overnight drops, it is hardly surprising that today trading desks have quietly been sending out boxes full of xanax their best under-25 clients (those veterans who have seen one, maybe even two 1% market crashes), along with reports explaining just what China is and why it matters to the new generation of, well, traders. One such analysis, clearly geared to the Ritalin generation complete with 3 second attention spans, comes from Deutsche Bank which in a few hundred words seeks to explain the key risks threatening the world’s most complex centrally-planned economy, and ground zero of the next financial crash. Which, one day after our summary take on why the Chinese commodity, economic and financial crash is only just starting (as those who traded overnight may have noticed), is probably a good place to reiterate some of the more salient points.

As Deutsche Bank’s Zhiwei Zhang writes in “Risks to watch in the next six months”, the key thing to keep in mind about China now that the 19th Party Congress is in the rear-view mirror, is that the government is likely to tolerate slower growth in 2018. Han Wenxiu, the deputy head of the Research Office of the State Council, said that GDP growth at 6.3% in 2018-2020 would be sufficient to achieve the Party’s 2020 growth target. And while this is a positive message for the long term, it indicates growth will likely slow in 2018. And, as DB warns, recent economic data suggest the economic cycle has indeed cooled down. For all those seeking key Chinese inflection points, here are the three big red flags involving China’s economy:

For the first time since Q4 2004, fixed asset investment (FAI) growth turned negative in real terms in Q3 this year.

Growth of property sales for the nation turned negative as well in October, the first time since 2015.

The property market boom in Tier 3 cities is also losing momentum.

We hope not to have lost by now all the Millennial traders who started reading this post. To those who persevered, here – in addition to the risks facing the economy – are the other two main risks facing China’s investors: (rising) inflation and (rising) interest rates.

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The most corrupt are the most powerful. Cue China.

Why the Anti-Corruption Drive in Saudi Arabia is Doomed to Fail (CP)

The problem in resource-rich states is that corruption is not marginal to political power, but central to acquiring it and keeping it. Corruption at the top is a form of patronage manipulated by those in charge, to create and reward a network of self-interested loyalists. It is the ruling family and its friends and allies who cherrypick what is profitable: this is as true of Saudi Arabia as it was true of Libya under Gaddafi, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and his successors, or Iraqi Kurdistan that was supposedly different from the rest of the country. Corruption is a nebulous concept when it comes to states with arbitrary rulers, who can decide – unrestrained by law or democratic process – what is legal and what is illegal. What typifies the politics of oil states is that everybody is trying to plug into the oil revenues in order to get their share of the cake.

This is true at the top, but the same is the case of the rest of the population, or at least a large and favoured section of it. The Iraqi government pays $4bn a month to about seven million state employees and pensioners. These may or may not do productive work, but it would be politically risky to fire them because they are the base support of the regime in power. Anti-corruption drives don’t work, because if they are at all serious, they soon begin to cut into the very roots of political power by touching the “untouchables”. At this point principled anti-corruption campaigners will find themselves in serious trouble and may have to flee the country, while the less-principled ones will become a feared weapon to be used against anybody whom the government wants to target.

A further consequence of the traditional anti-corruption drive is that it can paralyse government activities in general. This is because all officials, corrupt and incorrupt alike, know that they are vulnerable to investigation. “The safest course for them is to take no decision and sign no document which might be used or misused against them,” a frustrated American businessman told me in Baghdad some years ago. He added that it was only those so politically powerful that they did not have to fear legal sanctions who would take decisions – and such people were often the most corrupt of all.

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Wishful thinking?

Saudi Walks Back Escalation As Dramatic Moves Backfire (AP)

Saudi Arabia’s dramatic moves to counter Iran in the region appear to have backfired, significantly ratcheting up regional tensions and setting off a spiral of reactions and anger that seem to have caught the kingdom off guard. Now it’s trying to walk back its escalations in Lebanon and Yemen. On Monday, the kingdom announced that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen would begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world’s poorest country, days after closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh. The move came just hours after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who shocked the nation by announcing his resignation from the Saudi capital on Nov. 4, gave an interview in which he backed off his strident condemnation of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah, saying he would return to the country within days to seek a settlement with the Shiite militants, his rivals in his coalition government.

The two developments suggest that Saudi Arabia’s bullish young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, may be trying to pedal back from the abyss of a severe regional escalation. “This represents de-escalation by the Saudis,” said Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “The general trend is that the Saudis are going to back off and this is largely because of the unexpected extent of international pressure, and not least of all U.S. pressure.” Mohammed bin Salman, widely known by his initials, MBS, has garnered a reputation for being decisive, as well as impulsive. At just 32 years old and with little experience in government, he has risen to power in just three years to oversee all major aspects of politics, security and the economy in Saudi Arabia. As defense minister, he is in charge of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

He also appears to have the support of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, senior adviser Jared Kushner, who visited the Saudi capital earlier this month. Saudi partners in the Gulf and the Trump administration rushed to defend the kingdom publicly after a rebel Houthi missile was fired at the Saudi capital, Riyadh, from Yemen last week. A top U.S. military official also backed Saudi claims that the missile was manufactured by Iran. However, Saudi Arabia’s move to tighten an already devastating blockade on Yemen in response to the missile was roundly criticized by aid groups, humanitarian workers and the United Nations, which warned that the blockade could bring millions of people closer to “starvation and death.” Saudi Arabia’s decision to ease the blockade after just a week suggests it bowed to the international criticism, and did not want the bad publicity of even more images of emaciated Yemeni children and elderly people circulating online and in the media.

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“WaPo ran sixteen smear pieces on Bernie Sanders in the span of sixteen hours at the hottest point in the Democratic presidential primary battle.”

Friendly Reminder That Jeff Bezos Is Trying To Take Over The Universe (CJ)

Jeff Bezos, currently the wealthiest human being on planet Earth, did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he was expecting newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. This self-evident fact doesn’t receive enough attention. I will say it again for emphasis: Jeff Bezos, who has used his business prowess to become the wealthiest person in the world, did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he was expecting newspapers to make a profitable comeback. That did not happen. What did happen is the world’s richest plutocrat realizing that he needed a mouthpiece to manufacture public support for the neoliberal corporatist establishment that he is building his empire upon. This is why WaPo ran sixteen smear pieces on Bernie Sanders in the span of sixteen hours at the hottest point in the Democratic presidential primary battle.

[..] Last year Silicon Valley venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya said that Amazon is “a multi-trillion-dollar monopoly hiding in plain sight.” In June Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, wrote that Amazon is trying to “control the underlying infrastructure of the economy.”\ Bezos continues to get cozier and cozier with the US power establishment as his empire metastasizes across human civilization. He kicked WikiLeaks off Amazon servers in 2010, he scored a 600 million dollar contract with the CIA in 2013, he joined a Pentagon advisory board in 2016, he hung out with Defense Secretary James Mattis in August, and he’s spent nearly ten million dollars this year lobbying the federal government, which is likely what led to an NDAA amendment gifting Amazon a $54 billion market it’s expected to dominate as a supplier to the Pentagon. Billion. With a ‘b’.

[..] I gave this story a jokey headline, but seriously, watch Jeff Bezos very closely. Your future is increasingly more likely to be imperiled by new money tech plutocrats like him than by old money plutocrats like Soros and the Rothschilds.

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Interesting. Earthquakes are no. 1 incentive.

Why Japan Knocks Down Its Houses After 30 Years (G.)

In the suburban neighbourhood of Midorigaoka, about an hour by train outside Kobe, Japan, all the houses were built by the same company in the same factory. Steel frames fitted out with panel walls and ceilings, these homes were clustered by the hundreds into what was once a brand new commuter town. But they weren’t built to last. Daiwa House, one of the biggest prefabricated housing manufacturers in Japan, built this town in the 60s during a postwar housing boom. It’s not unlike the suburban subdivisions of the western world, with porches, balconies and rooflines that shift and repeat up and down blocks of gently curving roads. Most of those houses built in the 60s are no longer standing, having long since been replaced by newer models, finished with fake brick ceramic siding in beiges, pinks and browns.

In the end, most of these prefabricated houses – and indeed most houses in Japan – have a lifespan of only about 30 years. Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes gradually depreciate over time, becoming completely valueless within 20 or 30 years. When someone moves out of a home or dies, the house, unlike the land it sits on, has no resale value and is typically demolished. This scrap-and-build approach is a quirk of the Japanese housing market that can be explained variously by low-quality construction to quickly meet demand after the second world war, repeated building code revisions to improve earthquake resilience and a cycle of poor maintenance due to the lack of any incentive to make homes marketable for resale. In Midorigaoka, even the newer homes built in the 80s and 90s are nearing the end of their expected lifespan.

Under normal circumstances, their days might be numbered. But down at the end of one block, there’s a sign things are changing. Scaffolding surrounds a vacant house on a corner and workers from Daiwa House are clanging away inside. They’re not demolishing the house but refurbishing it – reorganising the floor plan, knocking down walls, opening up the kitchen and enhancing the insulation. Rather than tear down the house so the next buyer can build something new, they’re rebuilding it from the inside and putting it back on the market. It’s a relatively rare commodity, but something that is increasingly common across Japan: a secondhand home.

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I’ve long predicted that Greece will be much less peaceful once Syriza loses power. But yeah, the whole country’s put up for sale, so foreigners are certain to take over.

Kyle Bass: Investors to Pour Billions into Greece after Political Change (GR)

Hedge fund manager, Kyle Bass, believes that Greece will come out of the crisis and investors will pour billions into its economy once the government changes, according to a CNBC report. The founder and chief investment officer of Hayman Capital Management; which manages an estimated $815 million in assets, is closely following the course of the Greek economy and political situation, and has invested in Greek bank stocks. Bass says that foreign investors are waiting on the sidelines for a political shift to take place in 2018. “My best guess is a snap election for prime minister will be called between April and September of next year and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will lose power. When that happens, there will be a massive move into the Greek stock market. Big money will flow in as investors feel more confident with a more moderate administration,” Bass said.

“It’s going to take Kyriakos Mitsotakis; president of New Democracy, the Greek conservative party, to be voted in as prime minister to reform the culture and rekindle investor confidence,” the investor said. “I have no doubt 15 billion euros in bank deposits will come back to Greek banks if he’s elected. The stock and bond markets will also jump following the election.” Bass says that global investors are waiting for the political change in order to invest in real estate, energy and tourism. So far, the hedge fund manager noted, Greece has proceeded with privatizations of its main port; regional airports; its railway system; the largest insurance company, and there are more important ones to be completed within the next two years. “There is so much potential in Greece,” Bass said, noting that investors are waiting for the right moment to enter, the CNBC report concludes.

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Europe just lets it get worse.

Lesvos Reaches Breaking Point, Mayor Declares General Strike (G.)

With reception centers on Lesvos bursting at the seams and dozens more migrants arriving daily, the island’s mayor, Spyros Galinos, on Tuesday declared a general strike for Monday in protest. Currently, some 1,500 people – including hundreds of small children – are stranded on the island living in tents, and fears are growing that winter may bring a new humanitarian crisis. In total, there are more than 8,000 migrants and refugees on Lesvos, a favored destination of traffickers bringing people over from neighboring Turkey. “Lesvos has a population of 32,000 residents and there are at the moment 8,300 migrants and refugees,” Galinos told Kathimerini. Moreover, local police union members held a protest over deteriorating working conditions.

“The situation on Lesvos has fueled insecurity among citizens. The police force is dealing exclusively with the migrant issue,” the union chief Dimitris Alexiou said. “We are not expendables,” he added. And with flows to the eastern Aegean islands from Turkey showing no signs of letting up, locals and migrants have reached the end of their tether. Since the beginning of November, 1,603 people have arrived on the islands. In September, 6,000 people arrived from Turkey, the same number as in October. On Monday, another 101 migrants landed on eastern Aegean islands, while more than 400 arrived over the weekend. The situation in the Moria camp on Lesvos is a case in point.

“Conditions at Moria have reached breaking point as the facility is three times over capacity,” said Michael Bakas, coordinator of the northern Aegean branch of the Ecologist Greens, who escorted visiting Group of the Greens MEP and vice chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Barbara Lochbihler. Bakas said about 1,000 children are currently stranded at the camp. The issue will be discussed at the EU assembly on Wednesday.

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Monsanto must now have as many lawyers as scientists on its payroll. Time to say enough is enough.

Monsanto, US Farm Groups Sue California Over Glyphosate Cancer Warnings (R.)

Monsanto and U.S. farm groups sued California on Wednesday to stop the state from requiring cancer warnings on products containing the widely used weed killer glyphosate, which the company sells to farmers to apply to its genetically engineered crops. The government of the most populous U.S. state added glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, to its list of cancer-causing chemicals in July and will require that products containing glyphosate carry warnings by July 2018. California acted after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”. For more than 40 years, farmers have applied glyphosate to crops, most recently as they have cultivated genetically modified corn and soybeans.

Roundup and Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant seeds would be less attractive to customers if California requires warnings on products containing the chemical. In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, Monsanto and groups representing corn, soy and wheat farmers reject that glyphosate causes cancer. They say the state’s requirement for warnings would force sellers of products containing the chemical to spread false information.“Such warnings would equate to compelled false speech, directly violate the First Amendment, and generate unwarranted public concern and confusion,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, said in a statement.

The controversy is an additional headache for Monsanto as it faces a crisis around a new version of an herbicide based on another chemical known as dicamba that was linked to widespread U.S. crop damage this summer. The company, which is being acquired by Bayer AG for $63.5 billion, developed the product as a replacement for glyphosate following an increase of weeds resistant to the chemical. Monsanto has already suffered damage to its investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in glyphosate products since California added the chemical to its list of products known to cause cancer, according to the lawsuit.

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Weep.

Plastics Found In Stomachs Of Deepest Sea Creatures (G.)

Animals from the deepest places on Earth have been found with plastic in their stomachs, confirming fears that manmade fibres have contaminated the most remote places on the planet. The study, led by academics at Newcastle University, found animals from trenches across the Pacific Ocean were contaminated with fibres that probably originated from plastic bottles, packaging and synthetic clothes. Dr Alan Jamieson, who led the study, said the findings were startling and proved that nowhere on the planet was free from plastics pollution. “There is now no doubt that plastics pollution is so pervasive that nowhere – no matter how remote – is immune,” he said. Evidence of the scale of plastic pollution has been growing in recent months. Earlier this year scientists found plastic in 83% of global tapwater samples, while other studies have found plastic in rock salt and fish.

Humans have produced an estimated 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s and scientists said it risked near permanent contamination of the planet. Jamieson said underlined the need for swift and meaningful action. “These observations are the deepest possible record of microplastic occurrence and ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.” He said it was “a very worrying find.” “Isolating plastic fibres from inside animals from nearly 11 kilometres deep (seven miles) just shows the extent of the problem. Also, the number of areas we found this in, and the thousands of kilometre distances involved shows it is not just an isolated case, this is global.”

[..] The team examined 90 individual animals and found ingestion of plastic ranged from 50% in the New Hebrides Trench to 100% at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The fragments identified include semi-synthetic cellulosic fibres, such as Rayon, Lyocell and Ramie, which are all microfibres used in products such as textiles, to plastic fibres that are likely to come from plastic bottles, fishing equipment or everyday packaging. Jamieson said deep-sea organisms are dependent on food “raining down from the surface which in turn brings any adverse components, such as plastic and pollutants with it.” “The deep sea is not only the ultimate sink for any material that descends from the surface, but it is also inhabited by organisms well adapted to a low food environment and these will often eat just about anything.”


This microscopic arrow worm has eaten a blue plastic fibre that is blocking the passage of food along its gut. Photograph: Richard Kirby/Courtesy of Orb Media

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