May 122021
 


Francesco Hayez The Death of the Doge Marin Faliero 1867

 

Flaw In Many Models Used For COVID-19 Lockdown Policies (ET)
French Parliament Wakes Up And Says No To The Health Pass (FS)
NHS App Ready To Become Vaccine Passport Next Week (BBC)
World’s Most Vaccinated Nation Sees Active COVID Cases Double In A Week (ZH)
mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons (NEJM)
Sinovac Shot Causes ‘Drastic Drop’ In Deaths, Infections (SCMP)
Rand Paul Clashes With Fauci Over Coronavirus Origins (Hill)
The Raptures of Hyper-Complexity (Kunstler)
Stop The Crap On Colonial (Denninger)
US States Declare Emergency Over Gas Shortage Fears (DW)
If Everyone Sees It, Is It Still A Bubble? (RIA)
Whistleblower Craig Murray Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison (Elmaazi)

 

 

 

 

We’re ruled by fear. There’s simply painfully little common sense left. But here’s some…

“..lockdown measures have caused 282 times more harm than benefit to Canadian society over the long term ..”

Flaw In Many Models Used For COVID-19 Lockdown Policies (ET)

Economics professor Doug Allen wanted to know why so many early models used to create COVID-19 lockdown policies turned out to be highly incorrect. What he found was that a great majority were based on false assumptions and “tended to over-estimate the benefits and under-estimate the costs.” He found it troubling that policies such as total lockdowns were based on those models. “They were built on a set of assumptions. Those assumptions turned out to be really important, and the models are very sensitive to them, and they turn out to be false,” said Allen, the Burnaby Mountain Professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University, in an interview.

Allen says most of the early cost-benefit studies that he reviewed didn’t try to distinguish between mandated and voluntary changes in people’s behaviour in the face of a pandemic. Rather, they just assumed an exponential growth of cases of infection day after day until herd immunity is reached. In a paper he published in April, in which he compiled his findings based on a review of over 80 papers on the effects of lockdowns around the world, Allen concluded that lockdowns may be one of “the greatest peacetime policy failures in Canada’s history.” He says many of the studies early in the pandemic assumed that human behaviour changes only as a result of state-mandated intervention, such as the closing of schools and non-essential businesses, mask and social distancing orders, and restrictions on private social gatherings.

However, they didn’t take into consideration people’s voluntary behavioural changes in response to the virus threat, which have a major impact on evaluating the merits of a lockdown policy. “Human beings make choices, and we respond to the environment that we’re in, [but] these early models did not take this into account,” Allen said. “If there’s a virus around, I don’t go to stores often. If I go to a store, I go to a store that doesn’t have me meeting so many people. If I do meet people, I tend to still stand my distance from them. You don’t need lockdowns to induce people to behave that way.”

Allen’s own cost-benefit analysis is based on the calculation of “life-years saved,” which determines “how many years of lost life will have been caused by the various harms of lockdowns versus how many years of lost life were saved by lockdowns.” Based on his lost-life calculation, lockdown measures have caused 282 times more harm than benefit to Canadian society over the long term, or 282 times more life years lost than saved.

Read more …

More common sense. Google translate from France Soir.

French Parliament Wakes Up And Says No To The Health Pass (FS)

Article 1 of the bill proposed by the government on the issue of ending the health crisis was rejected by the National Assembly. It was the one that specified the operating methods of the health pass. On April 28, the government proposed its bill relating to the management of the exit from the health crisis. Article 1 of this project made the famous “sanitary pass” appear in black and white, which was to be implemented little by little over the summer, in particular for events welcoming more than 1,000 people. First, this bill went through the committee, then was admitted at first reading in the National Assembly yesterday, Monday, May 10, with 234 amendments to be studied. During more than six hours of debate, these amendments were swept away one by one, whether they were a deletion of an article, a rewrite or even a simple clarification.

As a result, this Tuesday morning, the newspapers overwhelmingly headlined that the “green light for the health pass” had been given by the National Assembly. That was indeed how things were shaping up. Roland Lescure, LREM deputy, to describe these measures as “a condition of regained freedoms”. Only, as Philippe Gosselin, LR deputy rightly and ardently pointed out, the opposition and the majority converged yesterday, in places, to say that the project had errors and inconsistencies. Martine Wonner, MP for Freedom and Territories, asked the question even more clearly: “In peacetime, the Republic has never known such restriction of freedoms. So who is the government at war with?”

Yesterday evening, the deputies were only 143 to be present in the hemicycle. Today, there were 213. Finally, at the end of the study of the amendments to article 1, the vote proved the opposition right! As a result, article 1, on which the majority of the bill is based, is not adopted: 211 voters: 103 FOR / 108 AGAINST For good reason, while it has been four years since it happened, the MoDem has dissociated itself from the majority. They who quoted Victor Hugo yesterday: “in the storm and the noise, clarity reappears, increased”. Philippe Latombe thus underlined the will of the people, namely to have a “coherent and clear political voice”. In fact, the MoDem deputies were demanding regarding the adoption of this bill and the characteristics of the health pass. While for 14 months the power of Parliament had at least been reduced, the deputies were able to be heard this evening.

Read more …

The opposite of common sense.

NHS App Ready To Become Vaccine Passport Next Week (BBC)

England’s NHS app will be available to use as a vaccine passport from Monday, the government has said – but only for those who have had both doses of the jab. A paper version will also be available – by calling 119 but not through a GP. Both will be available from Monday, 17 May, when the ban on foreign travel is eased. The NHS app is separate to the NHS Covid-19 app, which is used for contact tracing. People can already use the NHS app to: • request repeat prescriptions • arrange appointments to see their doctor • view medical records • It can also show vaccine statuses, including for coronavirus, but currently this feature must be enabled by a GP before it appears on the app.

The new update will contain a separate feature to display coronavirus vaccine records, so the government said there should be no need to contact GPs. The app will not show coronavirus test results, but the NHS plans to incorporate this in the future, the government website said. It advised people to register to use the app at least two weeks before travelling. A paper letter can be requested only at least five days after a second vaccine dose and can take five days to arrive. “There are not many countries that currently accept proof of vaccination,” the government advice warns. “So for the time being, most people will still need to follow other rules when travelling abroad – like getting a negative pre-departure test.”

The government has announced 12 countries people in England can travel to, without having to quarantine when they return. But not all of these destinations allow UK tourists. For example, travel to mainland Portugal and the Azores is currently for essential purposes only. The list will be reviewed every three weeks. Countries can be added or removed at short notice.

Read more …

Will we see this in more places?

World’s Most Vaccinated Nation Sees Active COVID Cases Double In A Week (ZH)

The situation in the Seychelles, an island nation that has suffered from a recent surge in COVID-19 cases despite boasting the world’s highest vaccination rate, is going from bad to worse. Since we last reported on the Seychelles one week ago, the island nation has faced a fresh surge in COVID cases. The vaccine failure cannot be determined without a detailed assessment, said the WHO. The hike in coronavirus cases has stoked concerns that the jabs might not be helping to suppress the island nation’s COVID-19 outbreak. A vaccine failure can’t be determined without a detailed study by the WHO, however. Presently, the health body is in direct communication with Seychelles and working on evaluating the situation, said Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals at a briefing on May 10.


The Indian Ocean archipelago nation started vaccinations in January when it introduced the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine. It administered Chinese vaccine shots to 57% of those who were fully inoculated and the rest received vaccines that were made in India. Since last week, the number of active coronavirus cases has more than doubled to 2,486 people. Of these, 37 percent of the population have received both the vaccine doses, as per the report. Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, Seychelles re-imposed curbs last week, including closing schools, canceling sports events and banning mingling of households.

Read more …

Imagine taking an mRNA injection when you’re pregnant. “Pregnant Persons” sounds like a sign of our times. I will not get used to it.

mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons (NEJM)

BACKGROUND Many pregnant persons in the United States are receiving messenger RNA (mRNA) coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines, but data are limited on their safety in pregnancy.

METHODS From December 14, 2020, to February 28, 2021, we used data from the “v-safe after vaccination health checker” surveillance system, the v-safe pregnancy registry, and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to characterize the initial safety of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines in pregnant persons.

RESULTS A total of 35,691 v-safe participants 16 to 54 years of age identified as pregnant. Injection-site pain was reported more frequently among pregnant persons than among nonpregnant women, whereas headache, myalgia, chills, and fever were reported less frequently. Among 3958 participants enrolled in the v-safe pregnancy registry, 827 had a completed pregnancy, of which 115 (13.9%) resulted in a pregnancy loss and 712 (86.1%) resulted in a live birth (mostly among participants with vaccination in the third trimester). Adverse neonatal outcomes included preterm birth (in 9.4%) and small size for gestational age (in 3.2%); no neonatal deaths were reported. Although not directly comparable, calculated proportions of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in persons vaccinated against Covid-19 who had a completed pregnancy were similar to incidences reported in studies involving pregnant women that were conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic. Among 221 pregnancy-related adverse events reported to the VAERS, the most frequently reported event was spontaneous abortion (46 cases).

CONCLUSIONS Preliminary findings did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. However, more longitudinal follow-up, including follow-up of large numbers of women vaccinated earlier in pregnancy, is necessary to inform maternal, pregnancy, and infant outcomes.

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Bit of PR from SCMP. What it depicts mostly is the difficulty in having the “poor” vacccinated.

Sinovac Shot Causes ‘Drastic Drop’ In Deaths, Infections (SCMP)

Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s vaccine is wiping out Covid-19 among health workers in Indonesia, an encouraging sign for the dozens of developing countries reliant on the controversial Chinese shot, which performed far worse than Western vaccines in clinical trials. Indonesia tracked 25,374 health workers in capital city Jakarta for 28 days after they received their second dose and found that the vaccine protected 100 per cent of them from death and 96 per cent from hospitalisation as soon as seven days after, said Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin in an interview on Tuesday. The workers were tracked until late February.

Sadikin also said that 94 per cent of the workers had been protected against infection – an extraordinary result that goes beyond what was measured in the shot’s numerous clinical trials – though it is unclear if the workers were uniformly screened to detect asymptomatic carriers. “We see a very, very drastic drop,” in hospitalisation and deaths among medical workers, Sadikin said. It is not known what strain of the coronavirus Sinovac’s shot worked against in Indonesia, but the country has not flagged any major outbreaks driven by variants of concern. The data adds to signs out of Brazil that the Sinovac shot is more effective than it proved in the testing phase, which was beset by divergent efficacy rates and questions over data transparency. Results from its biggest Phase III trial in Brazil put the shot known as CoronaVac’s efficacy at just above 50 per cent, the lowest among all first-generation Covid-19 vaccines.

In a separate interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday, Sinovac’s CEO Yin Weidong defended the disparity in clinical data around the shot, and said there was growing evidence CoronaVac is performing better when applied in the real world. But the real-world examples also show that the Sinovac shot’s ability to quell outbreaks requires the vast majority of people to be vaccinated, a scenario that developing countries with poor health infrastructure and limited access to shots cannot reach quickly. In the Indonesian health worker study, and another in a Brazilian town of 45,000 people called Serrana, nearly 100 per cent of people studied were fully vaccinated, with serious illness and deaths dropping after they were inoculated.

Read more …

Time for the NIH to come clean.

Rand Paul Clashes With Fauci Over Coronavirus Origins (Hill)

Anthony Fauci on Tuesday clashed with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over the role of the Wuhan, China, virology lab in the origins of COVID-19. During a Senate hearing on the pandemic response, Paul alleged that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had been sending funding to the Wuhan lab, which then “juiced up” a virus that was originally found in bats to create a supervirus that can infect human cells. Paul pressed Fauci on the theory that the novel coronavirus was created in the Wuhan lab, and then somehow escaped, either because of an accident or because it was deliberately released. “Sen. Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely and completely incorrect,” Fauci said. “The NIH has not ever, and does not now, fund ‘gain of function research’ in the Wuhan Institute.”

Paul continued to argue with Fauci, who is the director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), accusing him of cooperating with the Chinese government, and supporting the laboratory that bioengineered a deadly virus. Fauci noted that although the NIH did fund a project at the Wuhan lab, it was not meant for “gain of function” research into human-made superviruses. The NIH gave a grant to a group called EcoHealth Alliance, which hired the virology lab in Wuhan to conduct genetic analyses of bat coronaviruses and examine how they spread to humans. The Trump administration last year forced the NIH to terminate the grant. The false link between Fauci, the NIH and the Wuhan lab has been circulating among right-wing media and politicians like Paul and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) for months.

“Let me explain to you why that was done, the SARS COV-1 originated in bats in China. It would have been irresponsible of us if we did not investigate the bat viruses and the serology to see who might have been infected,” Fauci said. Gain of function research is a controversial form of study that involves boosting the infectivity and lethality of a pathogen. Fauci has advocated for the research in the past, but he denied that the NIH was funding it in China. But Paul interrupted him, and hinted that not only was the virus introduced to the world because of a lab accident, it was also biologically engineered. “Government scientists like yourself who favor gain function … ” Paul said. “I don’t favor gain of function research in China and you are saying things that are not correct,” Fauci interrupted.

Fauci Rand Paul
https://twitter.com/i/status/1392137203925622790

Read more …

“Taking down the grid would be, effectively, the end of civilization, at least for a while, maybe a long while, maybe for good.”

The Raptures of Hyper-Complexity (Kunstler)

I think you get the picture. That whole kit of industrial production is long gone, and we’re left in an economic slum of Chinese product “welfare” (stuff for treasury bonds) juiced on computer-driven hyper-complexity, decorated with junk enterprise like social media, streaming pornography, crypto-currency mining, and chicken nuggets — with a lot of deceptive and useless motion in the form of mass motoring to provide the illusion that this country is actually going somewhere… all with a poison Chinese Covid-19 cherry-on-top. This is the outfit that Joe Biden is ostensibly the president of. Now along comes the curious case of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. It’s especially interesting because the pipeline itself, while big (5,500 miles long, from refineries in Texas clear up to gas stations in New York), is itself not that complicated.

It’s a tube that a few volatile liquids move through: gasoline, aviation fuel, diesel oil. It has a bunch of valves to regulate the flows of these liquids. Plus, some storage tank-farms. The valves are computerized. That seems to be the problem. There was no physical damage to the pipeline and its components. The software that runs it got hacked, reportedly a “ransom-ware” sting, where unknown actors get control of the software and won’t relinquish it unless a whole lot of cash gets forked over by some non-traceable electronic means of transfer. I imagine it’s this last point that Colonial and its hackers are haggling over now, which explains the failure to restart the otherwise undamaged pipeline. I also imagine, meanwhile, all kinds of private and government computer savants are trying like hell to hack the hack behind the scenes.

The Colonial Pipeline is easy-peasy compared to the financial system and the electric grid. If the first one gets hacked, the nation’s nominal wealth might disappear (yours included), and, anyway, the financial system itself is not just enormous and hyper-complex, but much of its complexity conceals the massive misrepresentation of vaporous entities for “money” and any stoppage of the flows of that “money,” and things purporting to derive from it, will reveal the black hole at the center of all that activity. Hear that giant sucking sound? That was your livelihood, your pension, and your legacy rushing by en route to zero.

The electric grid is sometimes referred to as “the biggest machine in the world.” Unlike the financial system, it’s not largely stoked on hyper-complex dishonesty, it’s just really old, and jerry-rigged, and held together with duct-tape and baling wire. Probably a few kids in a basement somewhere — not even enemies of the republic, necessarily — could initiate a software attack that causes a whole lot of damage to transformers and other vital components and starts a process that wrecks the whole darn thing. Taking down the grid would be, effectively, the end of civilization, at least for a while, maybe a long while, maybe for good.

Read more …

The mega Colonial spill last year would seem to be connected to this.

Stop The Crap On Colonial (Denninger)

Let’s start with the stupid: Yes, what they did, assuming the reports are accurate, was stupid. You do not connect anything that has access to SCADA, that is, control systems, to the Internet. Period. I don’t care how. I don’t why. I don’t care what. You don’t do it. End of discussion. Oh, but that means the employees can’t work from home! Correct. Sit in office, work on machine, machine has zero external connectivity, no USB ports or instantly alarms if you plug something into one, etc. Connections between facilities are encrypted over centrally-controlled infrastructure with regular audits. Nothing beyond the orbit of those devices connects to the sane and sanitary systems. Period, end of discussion, no exceptions. Next, there are rumors that Colonial had a leak in their line and it was spewing fuel into the environment.

It was allegedly supposed to be fixed by a given date. More than one million gallons of gas spewed out of it. Eight months later it was still not corrected. That was on April 19th of this year. So what’s going on here? I get it. Things break. We rely on “things” for our daily lives. A certain amount of human error and trouble is expected. I’m ok with this; many are not, but I am because I like to have fuel in my car and groceries on the shelves, and without said technology, which comes with risk, we won’t have those things. There are people who think we can avoid all that. They’re wrong.

But how many articles have I written over the last 13 years talking about cybersecurity and proper control over one’s infrastructure when it comes to critical items. You know, like pipeline pressures, delivery quantities, etc? How is it that this sort of volume of gasoline managed to get out? Is there not a set of flow meters on the inlet and outlet, and do they not match? Are there not pressure transducers that detect a violation of the pipe’s integrity? Is not the characterization of the flow known; the pipe is “X” length, the pressure is “Y”, the flow is “Z” and we know what it’s made of so we should be able to reasonably compute what the frictional loss is over a given distance. Further, as should be obvious, if 1,000 gallons go in one end then exactly 1,000 gallons have to come out the other end, right? This isn’t a damned garden spray-nozzle!

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“Granholm said that there was not a supply shortage, but rather a “crunch”..”

US States Declare Emergency Over Gas Shortage Fears (DW)

Several east coast US states declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as gas stations began to run out of gasoline, five days after a cyberattack brought down the key Colonial pipeline. Despite assurances from President Joe Biden’s administration that the pipeline, which provides almost half the gas to the eastern seaboard, would be up and running within days, panicked drivers continued to top up their tanks. “We are asking people not to hoard,” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters at the White House. “Things will be back to normal soon.” State governors in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia implemented states of emergency to deal with the growing number of gas stations that were running out of fuel.


Declaring a state of emergency allows state governments to activate the National Guard as needed, and helps streamline cooperation between state and local officials. In the Georgia metropolis of Atlanta, some 30% of gas stations had run dry, with a similar number in Raleigh, North Carolina, according to the tracking firm GasBuddy. By 4 p.m. EST (20:00 UTC) almost 8% of gas stations throughout the state of Virginia had run out of gas, while in Florida close to 3% were empty, CNN reported. Granholm said that there was not a supply shortage, but rather a “crunch” in some states that are particularly reliant on the Colonial pipeline. Georgia lifted sales tax on gas until Saturday to help consumers while the federal government temporarily loosened certain environmental and working hours regulations to smooth out the problems.

Read more …

End the Fed.

If Everyone Sees It, Is It Still A Bubble? (RIA)

“If everyone sees it, is it still a bubble?” That was a great question I got over the weekend. As a “contrarian” investor, it is usually when “everyone” is talking about an event; it doesn’t happen. As Mark Hulbert noted recently, “everyone” is worrying about a “bubble” in the stock market. To wit: “To appreciate how widespread current concern about a bubble is, consider the accompanying chart of data from Google Trends. It plots the relative frequency of Google searches based on the term ‘stock market bubble.’ Notice that this frequency has recently jumped to a far-higher level than at any other point over the last five years.”

What Is A Bubble? “My confidence is rising quite rapidly that this is, in fact, becoming the fourth ‘real McCoy’ bubble of my investment career. The great bubbles can go on a long time and inflict a lot of pain, but at least I think we know now that we’re in one.” – Jeremy Grantham What is the definition of a bubble? According to Investopedia: “A bubble is a market cycle that is characterized by the rapid escalation of market value, particularly in the price of assets. Typically, what creates a bubble is a surge in asset prices driven by exuberant market behavior. During a bubble, assets typically trade at a price that greatly exceeds the asset’s intrinsic value. Rather, the price does not align with the fundamentals of the asset.“


This definition is suitable for our discussion; there are three components of a “bubble.” The first two, price and valuation, are readily dismissed during the inflation phase. Jeremy Grantham once produced the following chart of 40-years of price bubbles in the markets. During the inflation phase, each was readily dismissed under the guise “this time is different.” As Howard Marks previously noted: “It’s the swings of psychology that get people into the biggest trouble. Especially since investors’ emotions invariably swing in the wrong direction at the wrong time. When things are going well people become greedy and enthusiastic. When times are troubled, people become fearful and reticent. That’s just the wrong thing to do. It’s important to control fear and greed.”

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He was sentenced because of “jigsaw identification”, but no-one was identified.

“..the women who are meant to be threatened with jigsaw ID all remained anonymous, Alex Salmond’s life was destroyed, and Craig Murray’s life is about to be destroyed too.”

Whistleblower Craig Murray Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison (Elmaazi)

Former UK diplomat-turned whistleblower Craig Murray was sentenced to eight months in prison at the High Court in Edinburgh for contempt of court resulting from his coverage of the trial of former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. A three-judge panel determined on March 25, 2021—following a two-hour trial in January—that information published by Murray in a number of his blog posts was likely to lead indirectly to people being able to identify witnesses in Salmond’s sexual assault trial. This process, known as “jigsaw identification,” refers to the possibility that a person may piece together information from various sources to arrive at the identification of a protected witness.

In doing so, the judge ruled that Murray violated a court order prohibiting the publication of information that could likely lead to the identification of the alleged victims in Salmond’s case. Murray is a broadcaster, human rights advocate and journalist, who has extensively covered the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is known to support other whistleblowers. He also strongly supported Salmond and the Scottish campaign for independence. He denied the charges, arguing he went to great pains to cover the prosecution without identifying the witnesses. The trial and eight-month prison sentence was heavily criticized by a number of veteran Scottish journalists and lawyers.

Hugh Kerr, a former vice chair of the National Union of Journalists who was once a Labour Party Member of the European Parliament before he joined the SNP, told The Dissenter that he considered both the verdict and the sentence in Murray’s case to be “disgraceful.” “[This decision represents] a real threat to civil liberties,” Kerr argued. “A key point, of course, the women who are meant to be threatened with jigsaw ID all remained anonymous, Alex Salmond’s life was destroyed, and Craig Murray’s life is about to be destroyed too.” “I know that Craig shall appeal not only to the Supreme Court but also to the European Court of Human Rights. He will do so with the support of many people in Scotland and many people around the world,” Kerr added.

“It is believed to be the first instance in Scottish legal history where ‘jigsaw identification’ has led to an individual being imprisoned,” a statement released on behalf of Murray’s family declared. Award-winning investigative journalist John Pilger said, “In these dark times, Craig Murray’s truth-telling is a beacon. He is owed our debt of gratitude, not the travesty of a prison sentence which, like the prosecution of Julian Assange, is a universal warning.” “Craig Murray has compiled a remarkable record of courage and integrity in exposing crimes of state and working to bring them to an end,” Professor Noam Chomsky stated, contending Murray “fully merits our deep respect and support for his achievements.”

Read more …

 

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On this day in 330, Constantine The Great dedicated the ancient Greek city of Byzantium as the new capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and renamed it Constantinople.

 

 

 

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Oct 222019
 
 October 22, 2019  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Eugène Delacroix Liberty Leading the People 1830

 

Julian Assange Struggled To Remember His Name At Extradition Hearing (ND)
‘I’m In An Unfair Fight Against A Superpower,’ Assange Tells UK Court (SMH)
Assange in Court (Craig Murray)
Assange in Court – 2 (Craig Murray)
Information On Poroshenko Money Laundering/Biden Cover Up (CDM)
Trump ‘Fully Prepared’ For Military Action vs Turkey If Needed – Pompeo (CNBC)
Enter, the Dragon – Hillary 2020 (Kunstler)
The Putin-Nazis Are Coming -Again-! (CJ Hopkins)
The Empire Steps Back (Jim Kavanagh)
44% Of Americans Don’t Make Enough Money To Cover Their Expenses (ZH)
China Doubles Value Of Infrastructure Project Approvals (SCMP)
Australia Is The Only Country Using Carryover Climate Credits (G.)

 

 

Had a hard time getting going today. What happened with Julian Assange was too much to deal with. And on reflection, it only gets worse.

If Jeremy Corbyn or any else gets up in Parliament today or tomorrow and speaks about anything else than Julian Assange, you know he’s a useless piece of crap. Well, yes, you know that already. As Julian Assange has been reduced to a vague shadow of himself, Britain has been reduced to a lawless medieval banana republic, where someone can be tortured to death in full view, while agents of a foreign country run proceedings in the courts.

And the million or so who came out in London for extinction rebellion or a Final Say, you are all completely useless drips too. You’re incapable of discerning what is truly important. Which is that your government flouts all laws, British and international, with impunity. And then it makes no difference if those laws are defined by your own country or as part of a European Union. Torturing a man to death in 2019, with nary a protest being heard, is truly taking all of you back to the Middle Ages. At some point the question becomes: If you allow for the best, brightest and bravest amongst you to be treated this way, then what right or reason do you have to stick around?

Here’s what Craig Murray said:

I had been even more sceptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought.

 

 

Then who does? “..the judge told Assange that the court had no jurisdiction over the conditions of his imprisonment..”

Julian Assange Struggled To Remember His Name At Extradition Hearing (ND)

Assange’s barrister Mark Summers QC said Assange cannot be extradited for political offences. “Our case will be that this is a political attempt to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information. It is legally unprecedented,” he told the court. Assange’s solicitors Birnberg Peirce later issued a statement further clarifying that extradition for political offences is “prohibited and unlawful” under the UK-US extradition treaty of 2003. Mr Summers said he was deeply concerned about Assange’s ability to prepare for his case, given he has had no computer access since his incarceration began. He also explained that the case was growing increasingly complicated as new evidence came to light.

Earlier this month Spain’s National Court announced it was investigating whether a Spanish security firm spied on Assange in the embassy with hidden microphones and other devices. The information was allegedly passed to Ecuadorean and US authorities. “The American state had been actively engaged in intruding into privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyers in the embassy, also unlawful copying of their telephones and computers (and) hooded men breaking into offices,” Mr Summers said. He told the court there had been “plans to kidnap and harm” Assange. Mr Summers asked Judge Baraitser to delay the extradition trial and to extend the length of the five-day hearing so his client could adequately prepare evidence. But the judge told Assange that the court had no jurisdiction over the conditions of his imprisonment and said he would not be granted any more time.

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“..unlawful “copying” of Assange’s telephones and computers, and “hooded men breaking into lawyers’ offices”..”

‘I’m In An Unfair Fight Against A Superpower,’ Assange Tells UK Court (SMH)

A gaunt, hesitant and apparently confused Julian Assange has told a London judge he is in an inequitable fight against a superpower that has been spying on his “interior life” and on confidential meetings with his legal team. The WikiLeaks founder is trying to avoid extradition to the US to face 17 espionage charges and one computer hacking charge. His legal team revealed on Monday they want to deal a knockout blow to the case against him, by establishing that the charges are a “political offence” for which extradition cannot be granted. Assange appeared in person before District Judge Vanessa Baraitser in Westminster Magistrates Court, appearing tired and unwell and speaking hesitantly.


“I can’t think properly,” he complained at the end of the brief administrative hearing, saying the US had “unlimited resources” and an “unfair advantage”. “I can’t research anything [in prison], I can’t access any of my writing, it’s very difficult where I am [in Belmarsh Prison in South London] to do anything,” he said. “This is not equitable what’s happening here.” His lawyer Mark Summers, QC, told the court the US administration was prosecuting Assange in a “concerted and avowed drive to escalate its existing war on whistleblowers, to encompass investigative journalists”. “Our case is that it is a political attack to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing [classified] information.”

Summers appealed for extra time to gather evidence in support of Assange’s case, after allegations emerged this year that a Spanish security firm had been passing on to US intelligence agencies video, audio and documents secretly gathered during Assange’s time in the Ecuador embassy in London. Last week a judge of the Spanish National Court issued an order to investigate the Cadiz company Undercover Global, for “crimes against privacy and the secrecy of lawyer-client communications, bribery and money laundering”, in response to a complaint from Assange’s lawyers that Undercover Global had installed hidden microphones at the embassy and delivered information to Ecuador authorities and “agents of the United States”.

“The American state has been actively engaged in intruding on privileged discussions between Assange and his lawyers,” Summers told the Westminster court on Monday. He said there was evidence of unlawful “copying” of Assange’s telephones and computers, and “hooded men breaking into lawyers’ offices”. Assange complained to the judge the US had obtained details of his “interior life” through psychologist reports, and suggested they had tried to get hold of his children’s DNA. Kristinn Hrafnsson, the official WikiLeaks representative, said outside court that this was a reference to claims US agents had even collected DNA samples from nappies discarded at the embassy.

Assange’s legal team, in a note distributed outside the court, said there was evidence before Spanish courts of “a sustained series of actions by a Spanish security company in conjunction with US intelligence services to obtain information by unlawful acts, theft and clandestine surveillance within the Ecuadorian embassy whilst Julian Assange was present there”. “They included … the deliberate targeting and theft of information from the phones and electronic devices of lawyers advising and doctors treating Julian Assange, and the recording of their meetings. “Further, the private telephones of distinguished journalists visiting the embassy were photographed with data taken sufficient to hack their telephones thereafter.”

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I’ll do this Craig Murray piece in two parts. He was at the court yesterday. Murray is a close adviser and friend to Julian. First, his personal thoughts…

Assange in Court (Craig Murray)

I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening. Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight. But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both.

I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought. Until yesterday I had always been quietly sceptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and sceptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness.

I had been even more sceptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought. Everybody in that court yesterday saw that one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes. To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable. Yet the agents of the state, particularly the callous magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, were not just prepared but eager to be a part of this bloodsport.

She actually told him that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. The question of why a man who, by the very charges against him, was acknowledged to be highly intelligent and competent, had been reduced by the state to somebody incapable of following court proceedings, gave her not a millisecond of concern.

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… and then his description of how it’s Americans who openly call the shots in a British courtroom.

Assange in Court – 2 (Craig Murray)

For the prosecution, James Lewis QC stated that the government strongly opposed any delay being given for the defence to prepare, and strongly opposed any separate consideration of the question of whether the charge was a political offence excluded by the extradition treaty. Baraitser took her cue from Lewis and stated categorically that the date for the extradition hearing, 25 February, could not be changed. She was open to changes in dates for submission of evidence and responses before this, and called a ten minute recess for the prosecution and defence to agree these steps.

What happened next was very instructive. There were five representatives of the US government present (initially three, and two more arrived in the course of the hearing), seated at desks behind the lawyers in court. The prosecution lawyers immediately went into huddle with the US representatives, then went outside the courtroom with them, to decide how to respond on the dates. After the recess the defence team stated they could not, in their professional opinion, adequately prepare if the hearing date were kept to February, but within Baraitser’s instruction to do so they nevertheless outlined a proposed timetable on delivery of evidence.

In responding to this, Lewis’ junior counsel scurried to the back of the court to consult the Americans again while Lewis actually told the judge he was “taking instructions from those behind”. It is important to note that as he said this, it was not the UK Attorney-General’s office who were being consulted but the US Embassy. Lewis received his American instructions and agreed that the defence might have two months to prepare their evidence (they had said they needed an absolute minimum of three) but the February hearing date may not be moved. Baraitser gave a ruling agreeing everything Lewis had said.

At this stage it was unclear why we were sitting through this farce. The US government was dictating its instructions to Lewis, who was relaying those instructions to Baraitser, who was ruling them as her legal decision. The charade might as well have been cut and the US government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process. Nobody could sit there and believe they were in any part of a genuine legal process or that Baraitser was giving a moment’s consideration to the arguments of the defence. Her facial expressions on the few occasions she looked at the defence ranged from contempt through boredom to sarcasm. When she looked at Lewis she was attentive, open and warm.

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“..the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) was an organization set up (extra-judicially) by the Obama Administration within Ukraine to help the Democrats cover up the vast corruption that had been going on..”

Information On Poroshenko Money Laundering/Biden Cover Up (CDM)

The first thing readers must realize is that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) was an organization set up (extra-judicially) by the Obama Administration within Ukraine to help the Democrats cover up the vast corruption that had been going on, and as a tool to go after then-candidate Donald J. Trump. In fact, the initial head of the bureau engineered by the U.S. State Department in Ukraine, Artem Sytnyk, has been tried and convicted of conspiring to help presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Sytnyk’s group was the office that released the so-called ‘black ledger’ against Paul Manafort, who was then Trump’s campaign manager and now sits in jail, convicted by the Mueller investigation.

CD Media’s editor-in-chief reported on the shakiness of the black ledger evidence at the time when writing for The Washington Times. Before we go into details of the complicated money laundering scheme in the next article later today, another intelligence source inside Ukraine would like the Biden campaign to answer the following questions:

• What are the names of two CIA undercover officers who visited the General Prosecutor office and talked to Lutsenko Yuriy demanding that he close the cases on any of Burisma related matters? • Why Burisma related cases were closed at General Prosecutors’ office after that visit and were transferred to NABU and SAP (special prosecutor’s office)? What is the role of NABU and SAP in keeping the cases closed? How did George Kent influence NABU? • Why Burisma cases were stopped for investigation at NABU and SAP in Ukraine? • Why General Prosecutor office in Ukraine (led by Lutsenko Yuriy) denied to send investigative information on Zlochevskiy (beneficiary at Burisma Holdings) and Burisma to the UK Financial Fraud Office? The UK Large Financial Fraud Office released Zlochevskiy and closed the investigation. • What was the name of the Latvian “shell” transaction company used by Burisma holdings to transfer the money to Rosemont Seneca Partners (owned and operated by Biden’s family, Archer, Heinz)?

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What hollow sounds like.

Trump ‘Fully Prepared’ For Military Action vs Turkey If Needed – Pompeo (CNBC)

President Donald Trump is prepared to use military force against Turkey over its actions in Syria in the event that such is “needed,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday as U.S. troops withdraw from the region. “We prefer peace to war,” Pompeo told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost in a taped interview that aired on “Closing Bell” on Monday. “But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that President Trump is fully prepared to undertake that action.” The president is under heavy criticism for his decision to withdraw American forces from northern Syria, abandoning the Kurds, who led the ground war against ISIS.


The withdrawal precipitated Turkey’s incursion into the border zone earlier this month, which has left more than 120 civilians dead, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Pompeo declined to lay out a red line for what action would prompt a U.S. military response, saying he did not want to “get out in front of the president’s decision about whether to take the awesome undertaking of using America’s military might.” “You suggested the economic powers that we’ve used. We’ll certainly use them. We’ll use our diplomatic powers as well. Those are our preference,” Pompeo said. Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting on Monday that the U.S. “never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.”

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“..Mr. Biden will soon announce his retirement from the field — to spend more time with his family..”

Enter, the Dragon – Hillary 2020 (Kunstler)

You’d think Hillary Clinton might come up with a better zinger than “Russian asset” when she flew out of her volcano on leathery wings Friday and tried to jam her blunted beak through Tulsi Gabbard’s heart. Much speculation has been brewing in the Webiverse that the Flying Reptile of Chappaqua might seek an opening to join the Democratic Party 2020 free-for-all. Wasn’t “Russian asset” the big McGuffin in the Mueller Report — the tantalizing and elusive triggering device that added up to nothing — and aren’t most people over twelve years old onto that con by now?

It’s not like Tulsi G was leading the pack, with two cable news networks and the nation’s leading newspapers ignoring her existence. Tulsi must have been wearing her Kevlar flak vest because she easily fended off the aerial attack and fired back at the squawking beast with a blast of napalm: “Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies….”

Ouch! The skirmish does raise the question, though: is the Democratic Party so sick and rotted that it would resort to entertaining Hillary Clinton as the 2020 nominee? Fer sure, I’d say. The party has been on suicide watch since the Mueller Report blew up in its face. At this point, it’s choking to death on its current leaders in the race. Apart from his incessant hapless blundering on the campaign trail, Joe Biden will never survive assisting his son Hunter’s grifting adventures in foreign lands. It’s just too cut-and-dried and in-your-face. The kid scammed millions out of Ukraine and China and it’s all documented. Mr. Biden will soon announce his retirement from the field — to spend more time with his family, or for vague health reasons.

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“..it’s four more years of the Trumpian Reich, Russian soldiers patrolling the streets, martial law, concentration camps, gigantic banners with the faces of Trump and Putin hanging in the football stadiums..”

The Putin-Nazis Are Coming -Again-! (CJ Hopkins)

So, it looks like that’s it for America, folks. Putin has gone and done it again. He and his conspiracy of Putin-Nazis have “hacked,” or “influenced,” or “meddled in” our democracy. Unless Admiral Bill McRaven and his special ops cronies can ginny up a last-minute military coup, it’s four more years of the Trumpian Reich, Russian soldiers patrolling the streets, martial law, concentration camps, gigantic banners with the faces of Trump and Putin hanging in the football stadiums, mandatory Sieg-heiling in the public schools, National Vodka-for-Breakfast Day, death’s heads, babushkas, the whole nine yards. We probably should have seen this coming.

[..] Clinton’s comments came on the heels of a preparatory smear-piece in The New York Times, What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?, which reported at length on how Gabbard has been “injecting chaos” into the Democratic primaries. Professional “disinformation experts” supplied The Times with convincing evidence (i.e., unfounded hearsay and innuendo) of “suspicious activity” surrounding Gabbard’s campaign. Former Clinton-aide Laura Rosenberger (who also just happens to be the Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, “a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group” comprised of former Intelligence Community and U.S. State Department officials, and publisher of the Hamilton 68 dashboard) “sees Gabbard as a potentially useful vector for Russian efforts to sow division.”

The Times piece goes on to list an assortment of unsavory, extremist, white supremacist, horrible, neo-Nazi-type persons that Tulsi Gabbard has nothing to do with, but which Hillary Clinton, the Intelligence Community, The Times, and the rest of the corporate media would like you to mentally associate her with. Richard Spencer, David Duke, Steve Bannon, Mike Cernovich, Tucker Carlson, and so on. Neo-Nazi sites like the Daily Stormer. 4chan, where, according to The New York Times, neo-Nazis like to “call her Mommy.”

In keeping with professional journalistic ethics, The Times also reached out to experts on fascism, fascist terrorism, terrorist fascism, fascist-adjacent Assad-apologism, Hitlerism, horrorism, Russia, and so on, to confirm Gabbard’s guilt-by-association with the people The Times had just associated her with. Brian Levin, Director of the CSU Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, confirmed that Gabbard has “the seal of approval” within goose-stepping, Hitler-loving, neo-Nazi circles.

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“The dangerous fuse of Republican discontent with Trump..”

The Empire Steps Back (Jim Kavanagh)

“What everyone is most upset about with regard to Syria isn’t the bloodshed or anything having [to] do with human rights. It’s the decline in American control of the Middle East. This is 100% about US imperialism taking a hit.” – Rania Khalek, (@RaniaKhalek) October 14, 2019

In the last few months, Trump has made decisions either to reduce US military presence or explicitly not to take military action that was expected and planned. These were rhetorically and substantively anti-interventionist positions that are anathema to imperialist Republicans. The most consequent of these in the impeachment context are those regarding Iran, and, relatedly, Syria. The dangerous fuse of Republican discontent with Trump was lit with Trump’s decision in June to call off the military strike on Iran, after Iran’s downing of a US drone. That event followed attacks on Norwegian and Japanese tankers in the Persian Gulf that the US government blamed on Iran. A narrative had been established for US politicians and media: Every nasty thing that happens in the Middle East is to be blamed on Iran.

It’s a narrative with a specific target and a specific goal: to manufacture consent for a military attack on that target—Iran—when a good opportunity was either concocted or presented itself. Iran’s acknowledged destruction of a valuable US military asset provided that opportunity. Trump’s decision—on the profound advice of Bolton, Pompeo, et. al.—to launch an attack on Iran was the inevitable next scene in the script. His decision, made a few hours later, to cancel the attack was something else again. It was a decision made “without consulting his vice president, secretary of state or national security adviser,” with “forces… already in motion… more than 10,000 sailors and airmen….on the move,” and with “only 10 minutes to go.”

Per the NYT, that decision “stunned,” ”flabbergasted,” and outraged his closest advisers and key Republican allies. It was an unprecedented deus ex machina, an impermissible interruption that, especially for Republicans, just doesn’t fit in the epic story of American “presidentialness.” Leftish Trump opponents have not, I think, recognized what an extraordinary important, and praiseworthy decision this was by Trump. Has there been a more positive decision of such consequence made by any president in the last thirty years? Yes, it was the reversal of a prior, terrible decision of his. And, yes, it’s subject to reversal again because of his inconsistency and his many other terrible decisions regarding Iran and the region. But on its own, it stopped an onslaught of immense destruction.

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Cats in a sack.

44% Of Americans Don’t Make Enough Money To Cover Their Expenses (ZH)

Low-income consumers are struggling to make ends meet despite the “greatest economy ever,” and if a recession strikes or the employment cycle continues to decelerate – this could mean the average American with insurmountable debts will likely fall behind on their debt servicing payments, according to a UBS report, first reported by Bloomberg. UBS analyst Matthew Mish wrote in a recent report that 44% of consumers don’t make enough money to cover their expenses. The new survey asked 2,100 respondents in the US about their current financial situation, at least 40% of the respondents said they experienced a credit problem, if that was a rejection of a credit card or a missing payment, or perhaps defaulting on a balance that was due, this was a 3 percentage-point increase from last year, the survey found.

Mish has written before that lower-income consumers have seen very little net worth improvement in the last decade. They’ve increased their debt burdens significantly through credit cards, auto loans, and student debt. As the federal funds rate drops, consumers are being squeezed by record-high credit card rates. Given the high leverage of lower-income consumers, the next cyclical downshift in the consumer credit cycle could be much worse than the Dot Com bust, Mish noted in July. Mish writes in the current report that there are no signs, as of yet, of an imminent downturn in the consumer credit cycle. [..] Mish said in the last six months, only 17% of consumers reported an improvement in their financial well-being.

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Bridges to nowhere.

China Doubles Value Of Infrastructure Project Approvals (SCMP)

The Chinese government has doubled the value of large-scale infrastructure projects it has approved so far this year compared with last year, as it steps up efforts to steady the flagging economy amid a bruising trade war with the United States. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved 21 projects, worth at least 764.3 billion yuan (US$107.8 billion), according to South China Morning Post calculations based on the state planner’s approval statements released between January and October this year. The amount is more than double the size of last year’s 374.3 billion yuan (US$52.8 billion) in approvals recorded over the same period, which included 11 projects such as railways, roads and airports.


Three of the infrastructure projects approved by the NDRC have price tags over 100 billion yuan (US$14 billion), including the most expensive on the list – a new high-speed railway network linking Chongqing and Kunming in southwest China, worth a total of 141.6 billion yuan (US$19.9 billion). Sichuan province has been given the green light to spend 131.8 billion yuan (US$18.4 billion) to build a new airport, while Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, will be allowed to spend 113.9 billion yuan (US$16 billion) to continue with the third phase of its urban rail transit network. Actual spending on these projects will play out over a number of years, but the acceleration in approvals makes clear that infrastructure investment will rise, perhaps dramatically, in the next several years, helping to boost growth.

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A country of Cheaters.

Australia Is The Only Country Using Carryover Climate Credits (G.)

The federal environment department says it is not aware of any countries other than Australia planning to use controversial “carryover credits” to meet international climate commitments. The comment, at a Senate estimates hearing on Monday, comes as the Morrison government rebuffs calls from international leaders, analysts and activists for it to abandon the use the credits to meet its 2030 Paris emissions goal. The government says it has earned the right to use the credits, which represent the amount of carbon dioxide by which Australia has “beaten” the targets set under the previous international climate agreement, the Kyoto protocol.

Critics say the credits do not represent the emissions reductions needed to help meet the Paris goal of limiting global heating to as close to 1.5C as possible. Instead, they say, the credits are a fudge that cuts what Australia needs to do to meet its 2030 emissions target roughly in half and that Australia can claim access to them only because it set itself unchallenging targets under the Kyoto deal. At the hearing, the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked if the department knew of any other country planning to use carryover credits to help them meet their Paris climate targets.

Kushla Munro, a first assistant secretary with the Department of the Environment and Energy, said: “At this stage, we are not aware of other countries intending to use carryover.” “So just Australia?” Hanson-Young asked. “At this stage, yes,” Munro said. Officials confirmed that to meet its 2030 Paris target, a 26% to 28% cut compared with 2005 levels, Australia would need to cut emissions by 695m tonnes cumulatively across next decade. They said 367m tonnes would come from the credits carried over from the previous Kyoto agreement.

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Places with mass protests in yesterday’s list: Chile, Ecuador, Lebanon, Barcelona, France, London, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Iraq, Guinea, Bolivia, Algeria, Haiti, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil.

New addition today: Sudan

People send me lists of countries, but they often include places with small scale protests and/or peaceful ones. That’s not what I’m looking for.