Oct 122020
 


Fred Stein Nadinola 1944

 

WHO Backflips On Virus Stance By Condemning Lockdowns (News.com.au)
WHO Warns Against COVID19 Lockdowns Due To Economic Damage (NYP)
What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End? (Mercola)
Virus That Causes COVID19 Can Survive Up To 28 Days On Surfaces (AAP)
Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions (Gonsalves)
Fauci Says Trump Ad Uses His Words Out Of Context; Campaign Says Not (JTN)
Poll Gives Trump 3 Point Edge Over Biden In Florida (Fox35)
Gov. Whitmer: Michigan Votes Will Not ‘Have Artificial Deadlines’ (Hill)
SpaceX Promises Pentagon One-Hour Weapon Delivery Around The Globe (Fut.)
China’s Steel Problem: Recovery Risks Making Foes Of Trading Partners (SCMP)
New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues (Greenwald)
If My Family Can, So Can Yours (Michael Flynn, Jr.)
7 Predictions For How 2020 Comes To An End (Bobinski)

 

 

This tweet says it better than I can. And it doesn’t even yet mention the WHO. They and Fauci might as well leave.

RIP in 2020 to the credibility of:

 

 

Trump Bartiromo

 

 

We can safely close down this operation now. Contradicting yourselves in such major matters shreds your credibility and you’ll never get it back. Fauci should know all about that.

WHO Backflips On Virus Stance By Condemning Lockdowns (News.com.au)

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies. Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus. He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said. “We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Dr Nabarro’s main criticism of lockdowns involved the global impact, explaining how poorer economies that had been indirectly affected. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said. “Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

Melbourne’s lockdown has been hailed as one of the strictest and longest in the world. In Spain’s lockdown in March, people weren’t allowed to leave the house unless it was to walk their pet. In China, authorities welded doors shut to stop people from leaving their homes. The WHO thinks these steps were largely unnecessary. Instead, Dr Nabarro is advocating for a new approach to containing the virus. “And so, we really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other.”

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It feels like ages ago that I wroteLockdown 2.0 , but it’s only been 5 weeks.

WHO Warns Against COVID19 Lockdowns Due To Economic Damage (NYP)

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Nabarro said that there’s significant harm caused by tight restrictions, particularly on the global economy. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said. He added that lockdowns have severely impacted countries that rely on tourism. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” Nabarro told the outlet.


“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.” The UN agency previously warned countries against lifting lockdowns too soon during the first wave of the virus. “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” said Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But Tedros had urged countries to bolster other measures, including widespread testing and contact tracing, so they could safely reopen and avoid future lockdowns. “We need to reach a sustainable situation where we have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely, or lurching from lockdown to lockdown — which has a hugely detrimental impact on societies,” he said.

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Bit of a long quote. Joseph Mercola at LewRockwell.com first eviscerates all the vaccine efforts, then gives us a lesson in facemasks.

Note: even N95 masks don’t stop aerosols, but they do stop droplets, so they do have a function. Perfectly fitting them, as required in medical circles, is undoable, but we’re not looking for perfection.

What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End? (Mercola)

According to rotavirus vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit,1 people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing for “the next couple of years” even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. “People now see vaccines as a magic dust that’s about to be sprinkled over this country and make this all go away. It doesn’t work that way,” Offit told MarketWatch, September 21, 2020. Offit, who sits on the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, said he’s wary of a COVID-19 vaccine that may be rushed to market under pressure from the government. The U.S. Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed has pledged to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 2021, if not sooner. However, developing a safe and effective vaccine normally takes years and begins with animal studies.

The COVID-19 vaccines are all being rushed straight into human clinical tests, forgoing lengthy animal trials altogether. Vaccine makers are also being shielded against liability if people are harmed by the experimental vaccines. Early warning signs that something might be amiss have already started emerging. As detailed in “Gates Tries to Justify Side Effects of Fast-Tracked Vaccine,” results6 from Moderna’s Phase 1 human trial revealed 100% of volunteers in the high-dose group suffered systemic side effects. Side effects included fatigue, chills, headache and myalgia (muscle pain); 21% suffered “one or more severe events.” A May 26, 2020, article in STAT news told the harrowing story of Ian Haydon, a healthy 29-year-old participant in Moderna’s vaccine trial who suffered severe side effects requiring hospitalization.

While Haydon recovered from the side effects, which included a raging fever, fainting, nausea, muscle pain and generally feeling “as sick as he’d ever felt,” just imagine what such side effects might do to an elderly person, an infant, young child or someone who is metabolically compromised or has an underlying condition such as a heart problem. For them, the reactions could be far worse and possibly fatal. Disturbingly, in July 2020, it was reported that Moderna’s 100-mcg dose vaccine — despite its 100% side effect ratio after the second dose — would proceed to Phase 3 trial assessment.

Like the Moderna vaccine, the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine also appears to come with a shockingly high rate of side effects. Results from one of its Phase 1/2 studies published August 15, 2020, revealed a clear majority of participants experienced side effects, including fatigue, headache, muscle ache, malaise, chills and feeling feverish. September 6, 2020, AstraZeneca paused its Phase 3 vaccine trial due to a “suspected serious and unexpected adverse reaction” in a British participant. The company did not divulge the nature of the adverse reaction.

 

 

[..] Ohio coronavirus rules issued by Governor Mike DeWine require people to wear masks at outdoor events when 6-foot social distancing is not possible. Not wearing a mask in Ohio is considered a misdemeanor. Penalties for failure to comply can include up to 30 days in jail and a $750 fine. While DeWine said his intent isn’t to arrest people for noncompliance, he failed to veto a bill that would have reduced fines and banned jail time for noncompliance. The fundamental problem with assaulting18 and arresting people for not complying with mask rules is that there’s no evidence to support the idea that masks prevent the spread of the virus. In fact, the science tells us masks cannot block viruses.

SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter between 0.06 and 0.14 microns. Medical N95 masks — which are considered the most effective — can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns. Surgical masks, homemade masks, T-shirts and bandanas are even more porous. At best, a mask may reduce the transmission of large respiratory droplets, but it does nothing to prevent the transmission of aerosolized particulates exhaled by asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals with COVID-19. Health agencies’ own research show it’s a futile measure that only provides a false sense of security. For example, the WHO’s June 5, 2020, guidance memo on face mask use states “there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID- 19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

Similarly, a May 2020 policy review paper published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, concluded that “Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.” This is highly relevant, as the influenza virus is about twice the size of SARS-CoV-2. If masks cannot prevent transmission of influenza, they certainly cannot prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

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Better get some UV light in your home?!

Virus That Causes COVID19 Can Survive Up To 28 Days On Surfaces (AAP)

Australian scientists have found that the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive for up to 28 days on surfaces such as the glass on mobile phones, stainless steel, vinyl and paper banknotes. The national science agency, the CSIRO, said the research undertaken at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong also found that Sars-CoV-2 survived longer at lower temperatures. It said in a statement the virus survived longer on paper banknotes than on plastic banknotes and lasted longer on smooth surfaces rather than porous surfaces such as cotton. However, the experiment was done in a dark area which negates the effects of UV light. Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University, said this is known to reduce the life of the virus on surfaces.

“It is a factor, and that’s why the outside is probably again safer than inside because UV light is there and the virus can be inactivated on playgrounds and things in the sunshine,” he said. There is also significant uncertainty about exactly how large surfaces play into the transmission of the virus. “[The study] shows you that virus can persist … but if you ask me in the total scheme of things how important I think hands are compared to being close to people who are sick and getting it, I would say 90% of the problem and the transmission is related to being close to people who cough over you or sneeze over you or send you droplets. Probably around 10% of transmission is likely to be just hands and surfaces,” Collignon said. “But I still think it’s a good idea to wash your hands before you touch your face”.

The research, published in the Virology Journal, also found the virus lasted 10 days longer than influenza on some surfaces. Dr Larry Marshall, the chief executive of the CSIRO, said establishing how long the virus survived on surfaces enabled scientists to more accurately predict and prevent its spread, and so protect the community from infection. The deputy director of ACDP, Dr Debbie Eagles, said the results reinforced the need for good practices such as regular hand washing and cleaning surfaces. “At 20C, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens.” Similar experiments for Influenza A found it survived on surfaces for 17 days. Further experiments were carried out at 30C and 40C, with survival times for the Sars-CoV-2 virus decreasing as the temperature increased.

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Not many options remain.

Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions (Gonsalves)

The bulk of older Americans are integrated into our communities, living alone or with their spouses or their families. Even if we could make nursing homes into impenetrable fortresses impervious to viral entry, it’s not at all clear how we’d keep the millions of elderly “safe” as they live around, among, and with us. In fact, data from CDC suggests that we haven’t done a good job at all on this, and when virus cases surge in young people, the elderly are next in line for transmission. Another group of people to whom these three august academics give short shrift are the chronically ill in America. The CDC estimates that nearly half of all Americans (47.5 percent) have underlying conditions that predispose them to severe Covid-19 outcomes.

If it is a challenge to think of sequestering the elderly, what do we do with almost half of our fellow Americans who may be at similar enhanced risk of complications and death from Covid-19? Then there are the young. Kulldorff, Bhattacharya, and Gupta would have you believe that young people have little to fear from Covid-19, urging them to resume their normal lives. Yet if you look at hospitalizations for young adults with Covid-19 in a national study, 21 percent required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation, and 2.7 percent died. Many of these young people had chronic conditions, which enhanced their risk—and over half of the young people hospitalized in this cohort were Black or Latino.

The herd immunity strategy, whether you call it this or “focused protection” or “age-targeted,” has already been tried without success, notably in Kulldorff’s native country, Sweden, which with less strict measures in places—particularly among the young—ended up with more deaths than its neighbors and didn’t avoid the economic impact of the pandemic, either. Furthermore, Sweden’s robust welfare state and national health care system probably averted even more serious carnage from its approach. In the United States, with our safety net in tatters, and where we don’t have such protections in place, pursuing a herd immunity approach could spell disaster.

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It’s obvious that he finds this awkward, but he did say it. Fauci has contradicted himself a few times too many.

Fauci Says Trump Ad Uses His Words Out Of Context; Campaign Says Not (JTN)

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci in a statement said that his remarks included in a Trump campaign ad were pulled from their context. “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” he said in the statement after being asked if he had consented to be included in the political advertisement, according to CNN. “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”

In the ad, Fauci is shown saying these words: “I can’t imagine that…anybody could be doing more.” The outlet reported that Fauci’s comment was taken from a March Fox News interview. “I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. I’m connected by phone throughout the day and into the night—when I say night I’m talking 12, one, two in the morning—I’m not the only one, there’s a whole group of us that are doing that,” Fauci said in an interview with conservative host Mark Levin that CBS News said is the source of the clip. “It’s every single day. So I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.”


The Trump campaign is standing by its advertisement. “These are Dr. Fauci’s own words,” a spokesperson said in a statement, according to reports. “The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth. As Dr. Fauci recently testified in the Senate, President Trump took the virus seriously from the beginning, acted quickly, and saved lives.”

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“It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.”

Poll Gives Trump 3 Point Edge Over Biden In Florida (Fox35)

President Donald Trump is leading former Vice President Joe Biden in Florida, according to a poll conducted this week by InsiderAdvantage. Pollster Matt Towery Sr. said the data shows Trump leading Biden by three points among likely voters in the Sunshine State; however, a significant number of those polled remain undecided at 10%. When asked, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” results were as follows: Donald Trump: 46%. Joe Biden: 43%. Jo Jorgenson: 1%. Undecided/No Opinion: 10%. Towery predicted Trump’s 2016 victory on FOX affiliates, just days prior to the election, signaling that many polls were failing to accurately reflect support for the Republican candidate. He also showed Barack Obama winning key battleground states in 2008.


“Once again, based on poor data and or weighting, many of the polls we are seeing simply are not picking up the actual level of support for President Trump,” said Towery, founder of InsiderAdvantage. “What stands out in this poll is that Trump is actually picking up 12% of the African American vote in the Sunshine State.” The survey of 400 likely Florida voters, conducted on October 6-7, involved live calls and interactive voice response calls to both landlines and cell phones. It is weighted for age, race, gender, and political affiliation. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%. Towery said the data also suggests Trump has the advantage in those age 45 and up with nearly 63% of the white vote in Florida but trails Biden 62%-25% among Hispanic voters. “These results are still within the margin of error, so Florida remains up for grabs. But to paint it blue or red on any projected electoral map at this point would be pure folly” said Towery.

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What on earth are Artificial Deadlines?

Gov. Whitmer: Michigan Votes Will Not ‘Have Artificial Deadlines’ (Hill)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Sunday that the results of the state’s election will not be announced before “artificial deadlines” set by “people with political agendas.” The Michigan governor declined to tell CBS’s “Face The Nation” how long it will take for the state to determine the official results of this year’s election. “Michigan will be able to announce results, but we are not going to have artificial deadlines set by, you know, people with political agendas,” she said. “We’re gonna get this right.” “It will be soon after polls close,” she added. “I’m not gonna put a number on it, but we’re gonna get it right.” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) has said the battleground state that President Trump won in 2016 will not be able to report the election results on Nov. 3.


Election results are expected to be delayed this year as a record number of people complete mail-in ballots to avoid going to polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic. Whitmer also responded to a CBS poll that found half of Trump’s supporters think they should monitor voting places. “We are prepared to make sure this election goes smoothly,” she said. “We’re gonna keep people safe as they go to the polls, and we will not tolerate anyone who’s trying to interfere with someone’s ability to safely vote.” When asked about potential violence on Election Day, Whitmer said, “I’m not worried, but we are preparing to make sure we do everything we can to keep people safe.”

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Like Elon Musk? Here he is.

SpaceX Promises Pentagon One-Hour Weapon Delivery Around The Globe (Fut.)

SpaceX and the Pentagon just signed a contract to jointly develop a new rocket that can launch into space and deliver up to 80 tons of cargo and weaponry anywhere in the world — in just one hour. Tests on the rocket are expected to begin as early as next year, Business Insider reports. It’s expected to shuttle weapons around the world 15 times faster than existing aircraft, like the US C-17 Globemaster. “Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” General Stephen Lyons, head of US Transportation Command said at a Wednesday conference. The new contract is further evidence that SpaceX is leaning hard into military partnerships.


Earlier this week, the private space company won a contract with the military’s Space Development Agency to manufacture four missile-tracking satellites. Prior to that, the Army approached SpaceX about turning its constellation of Starlink broadband satellites into a new military navigation network, and Space Force officials let slip earlier this year that they were already working closely with SpaceX after awarding the company a contract in August, BI reports. The new weapon delivery system resembles a militarized version of something that SpaceX CEO proposed back in 2017, when he talked about passenger space travel. Back then, Musk proposed launching passengers into space and then quickly landing them back down closer to their destination. The new plan is highly similar, just with weapons rather than people.

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China’s steel problem is gross overproduction.

China’s Steel Problem: Recovery Risks Making Foes Of Trading Partners (SCMP)

As the Covid-19 pandemic damages so many economies around the world, killing jobs and shoving millions of families back into poverty, an uncomfortable and politically challenging possibility is beginning to emerge: certain economies will suffer more sharply than others, and China seems set to recover more quickly and suffer less pain. Managing the political anger this will generate will be one of the biggest diplomatic challenges China will face in 2021. Given Beijing’s blunt-instrument reputation in global diplomacy, this does not augur well. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the steel sector. Rapid recovery in production is already under way inside China – contrasted with deep contractions elsewhere in the world – and is set to escalate the rancour that has raged across the global steel market for decades.

Controversy over China’s surplus capacity and the global impact of exporting its surpluses has fuelled concern in the sector since the mid-1990s. This has made steel one of the most militantly protectionist of all sectors and the subject of more widespread tariff warfare than almost any other sector. China’s steel conundrum – similar to the challenges it faces in coal, cars and a wide range of other industrial products – is by default a world problem, given its size. It leaves its leaders with an awkward dilemma. Even a small mismatch between domestic supply and demand can result in huge ripple effects on global markets – impacts too large for anyone except China to manage.

China’s commitment to industrialisation and lifting material living standards for its huge population demands massive production of steel, with a perfectly reasonable desire to make as much of the steel as possible inside China. Its sheer scale makes it by far the world’s largest producer, accounting for about 53 per cent of the world’s 1.87 million tonnes of crude steel production in 2019. Its nearest competitors are India, accounting for 6 per cent, and Japan and the United States at around 5 per cent. Its locally made steel is mostly consumed inside China. It imports only a small portion of its consumption needs – mainly high-quality steel for its fast-growing automotive industry – and its market is comparatively self-contained.

With annual production close to 1 billion tonnes, though, it is easy to see how large a global impact China’s steelmakers can have with even a modest overshoot in production. Global overcapacity is estimated at around 500 million tonnes.
The implications of overcapacity on this scale come into focus when you recall that total US production is less than 90 million tonnes and Germany around 40 million.

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“.. for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”

New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues (Greenwald)

The New York Times Guild, the union of employees of the Paper of Record, tweeted a condemnation on Sunday of one of their own colleagues, op-ed columnist Bret Stephens. Their denunciation was marred by humiliating typos and even more so by creepy and authoritarian censorship demands and petulant appeals to management for enforcement of company “rules” against other journalists. To say that this is bizarre behavior from a union of journalists, of all people, is to woefully understate the case. What angered the union today was an op-ed by Stephens on Friday which voiced numerous criticisms of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning “1619 Project,” published last year by the New York Times Magazine and spearheaded by reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.

One of the Project’s principal arguments was expressed by a now-silently-deleted sentence that introduced it: “that the country’s true birth date” is not 1776, as has long been widely believed, but rather late 1619, when, the article claims, the first African slaves arrived on U.S. soil. Despite its Pulitzer, the “1619 Project” has become a hotly contested political and academic controversy, with the Trump administration seeking to block attempts to integrate its assertions into school curriculums, while numerous scholars of history accuse it of radically distorting historical fact, with some, such as Brown University’s Glenn Loury, calling on the Pulitzer Board to revoke its award. Scholars have also vocally criticized the Times for stealth edits of the article’s key claims long after publication, without even noting to readers that it made these substantive changes let alone explaining why it made them.

In sum, the still-raging political, historical, and journalistic debate over the 1619 Project has become a major controversy. In his Friday column, Stephens addressed the controversy by first noting the Project’s positive contributions and accomplishments, then reviewed in detail the critiques of historians and other scholars of its central claims, and then sided with its critics by arguing that “for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”

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From Michael Fynn’s son, who the FBI threatened to go after if Flynn sr. didn’t plead guilty to something he never did.

If My Family Can, So Can Yours (Michael Flynn, Jr.)

“I’ve done lots of work on this topic, so it bothers me. But Rich Lowry has it right: POTUS has to accept that people have already made up their minds about Russiagate, and most just don’t care about it like POTUS does …” -October 10, 2020 tweet by Andy McCarthy. That was it for me. I keep up with the goings-on within the political arena. When I saw this tweet and read the underlying article by Rich Lowry, my reaction was simple. Seriously? It’s amazing to see there are those who claim to be republican and/or conservative still NOT grasp or have zero feel for the pulse of President Donald Trump’s base.

Breaking: The #1 unanswered question since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency is “Why has no one been held accountable in “RussiaGate”? A close second is definitely “Why is there this double standard for people like General Flynn versus Former FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe?” These questions have been asked more than any other since 2017. There are a variety of reasons I make this statement but let me offer you the following: Since 2017, my family and I have received MILLIONS of messages through various communication platforms (handwritten letters, texts, direct messages, phone calls, emails, etc). I have personally analyzed and kept track of where these communications originated. Why? I wanted to gauge the geographical locations of the Americans who have reached out to my family expressing the sentiment described above.

Was it from just red states? Oh no. I can say with 100% certainty we’ve received droves of communications not just from every single state in America, but some from supporters around the world. The floor of my father’s basement in Rhode Island (for example) is currently occupied with boxes FULL of handwritten letters from these amazing patriots. And let me tell you, these letters display a common theme. People are SICK of the lack of accountability and sick of the seemingly ignored criminality in RussiaGate. My family and I have been irreparably harmed by the Obama-Biden administration and their soldiers of fraud. My father was framed and forced to plead guilty to something he did not do. The truth of the matter has been held hostage for nearly FOUR YEARS by the likes of current FBI Director Christopher Wray, and current CIA Director Gina Haspel who frankly, in my opinion, should’ve been fired already.

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Some OK stuff, but the more you call Dems “Marxists”, the less I’m iterested.

7 Predictions For How 2020 Comes To An End (Bobinski)

Prediction 1: Trump will win the election in a landslide. I know, the media is telling you the polls are tight, but just look around. Trump rallies are packed to the gills while Biden can’t fill the bleachers at a high school football field. Trump supporters hold huge boat parades while we see NONE for Biden. Trump supporters hold freeway caravans around that country that take up all lanes of a freeway, while an attempted caravan for Biden in Las Vegas drew only 30 people. Just like in 2016, pollsters today are making it look like it’s a close race. This is gaslighting – they’re telling you something that runs directly opposite of what your own eyes are telling you, but they’re expecting you to believe what they say.

Prediction 2: On the evening of November 3, Joe Biden will not concede the election, even though the vote will clearly be for Trump. Hillary Clinton has publicly stated that Joe should not concede, so the seed has been planted in our minds to expect this. And, because we’re expecting it, we won’t be shocked by it.

Prediction 3: Massive mail voter fraud will create confusion and Marxists (e.g. Democrats) will insist that “every vote counts.” They know Americans want to be fair so Marxists will play on that. They will cry and wail and plead that every vote needs to get counted, so they’ll ask for sympathy for voters who didn’t follow confusing new election rules about how to cast their mail-in ballots. That will be their story, but many votes will be fraudulent. As they’ve demonstrated on America’s streets, Marxists don’t care about following laws; they care about power.

Prediction 4: Because of massive mail fraud ballots showing up late, election results WILL be delayed. The deceptive Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and the clearly biased Jack Dorsey at Twitter have already announced they will flag any posts or tweets that claim a victory for Trump. They KNOW Trump will have more than enough votes to win, but as Zuckerberg already told us, we should expect results to take “DAYS OR EVEN WEEKS.” In other words, Facebook and Twitter are well-aware of the planned mail-in voter fraud, and they’re already providing cover for it. The planned vote count confusion will be dragged out as long as possible. The Marxists’ intention is to keep confusion swirling at least until December 14 in hopes that the electoral college won’t be able to identify a winner. Expect ballots to keep showing up out of nowhere.

Prediction 5: If Marxists cannot keep up the façade until December 14, some states will obfuscate the electoral process by choosing not to follow the rules laid out in the 12th Amendment. In fact, both may happen. Either way, by attempting to throw the electoral college into confusion, Marxists (again, the Democrats) will make a push for the electoral college to be eliminated. Believe me when I say you don’t want this. Students of the Constitution know that if the electoral college is eliminated, the Republic will be gone.

Prediction 6: Expect Nancy Pelosi to be acting all patriotic and concerned about the Constitution during the chaos, but rest assured, it’s a passive-aggressive act. She is among the Marxist vanguard in both houses of Congress orchestrating the whole mess. You will also see some Marxist-friendly governors making a lot of noise.

Prediction 7: While Marxists in Congress are messing with the electoral process, Marxists on the streets (Antifa and BLM) will intensify their violence by burning, looting, and murdering even more than what we’ve seen to this point. There’s already a movement that seeks to lay siege to the White House. Not only do the puppet masters want all the street chaos to distract our attention from what’s going on in the electoral process, the street Marxists see this election as their only chance to either grab power or put up with Trump for four more years. The protestors have been trained to instigate violence, and copy-cat wannabes will want to join in. Street Marxists will view these riots as the fight of their lives: it will get intense.

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Gunnar Ekelöf (translation by W.H. Auden & Leif Sjöberg):

 

 

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Feb 282019
 


Leonardo da Vinci Ginevra de’ Benci 1474-78

 

Perhaps against better judgment, I just can’t keep silent about the Michael Cohen’s in da House show performed on February 27. I was watching it and increasingly fearing for the future of America. We had all been able to read his prepared statement before he opened the party with it, and therefore we all knew there was nothing there. So why did this thing take place, and why were all the cameras and reporters there? Do we live in split realities these days?

Both before and after the gruelling -for the viewer- session, words like ‘explosive’ and bombshell’ were all over, so I thought I’d watch, since I might have missed something, but no, there was nothing, there wasn’t even a there there. Apparently, US House members are by now immune to being revealed as nutcases frantically phishing for evidence of accusations they formerly made but could never prove.

A phishing expedition with a willing whale in the center who sort of volunteered to be harpooned, and still came up with absolutely nothing but blubber. And then like 4 hours of that. There’s never been a more convincing picture of what US politics and media have become. But they’re all entirely impervious to it. They’re discussing nothing for hours on end with millions watching, and they see it as normal.

Now, I’ve been following the decay of the American press ever since Trump entered politics stage right, and I’ve written a hundred thousand words about it, but it really hit home during the Cohen session. Tellingly, the Republican House members were exclusively focusing on Cohen credibility, since he had been caught lying to Congress before, and the Supreme Court just days ago disbarred him.

But this was not about the man’s credibility, and sure, I felt sorry for him too, it was about the fact that he had nothing at all to say, but Republicans had nothing on that. They instead joined the Dems in questioning him about nothing, pretending it was big and explosive and stuff. If anything has ever resembled the Emperor’s new clothes, it was that charade there yesterday.

 

If you insist, we can walk through a few of the topics. A nice example that was not in the prepared statement was that Cohen claimed he had never wanted a White House job, but even the CNN pundits were saying he had wanted one for a long time, and was very insulted when he didn’t get it. Poof! went the last shred of his credibility. Well, not for the House members, they have shorter memories even than CNN talking heads.

Second, the issue of a Trump Tower in Moscow, about which Cohen allegedly lied earlier on, in that the plans were shelved later than he had claimed. But the only thing that really interests the House, because even they understand that wanting to build a hotel in the city is not some criminal thing, is Russiagate, invented out of thin air but still popular stateside.

The one thing related to this that collusion ‘experts’ emphasize time and again, and it came up again in the Cohen thing, is that Trump supposedly planned to gift a penthouse apartment in a potential Trump hotel on Red Square to Vladimir Putin. Conveniently, not a single American appears to have wondered whether Putin would be interested in such a gift.

And I can assure you he wouldn’t. Putin can get -just about- any piece of real estate he wants on Red Square, besides he already has the Kremlin, and he can get anything built there which he might desire. Accepting a free dwelling from a US builder makes no sense. Why should he? Still, this is one of the main items Russiagaters keep coming up with. It makes no sense, and that’s fitting, because neither do they.

Second, pornstar pay-offs. Male politicians worldwide and through the ages have had affairs, and in modern times (re: JFK) there’s been an understanding that the media leave these things alone. On the one hand, it’s proof of virility, something voters like in their candidates, and on the other it shows infidelity, something they don’t. A battle no-one can win, hence the understanding.

In France, this all plays out a bit more openly, though never in the open, but in the US you can break the pact if you want. And since the initial story was that campaign funds had been used to pay Stormy Daniels, there was a potential criminal angle. But we now know that that angle was fake, so no there there either. Trump paid so it (true or not) didn’t become a big campaign story, and that he did so just before an election is irrelevant, because the whole topic is irrelevant. Unless you want to exhume JFK.

 

Third and what pisses me off more than anything, is that Cohen both volunteered, and was coaxed into, talking about Roger Stone’s alleged contacts with Julian Assange. Cohen talked about a conversation between Stone and Trump on July 18-19 2016, in which Stone allegedly said he had talked to Assange who told him WikiLeaks was going to release a big batch of Hillary-related mails.

The DNC convention was July 25-28, the WikiLeaks release July 22. Looks like a slam-dunk collusion story, right? Except that Assange had said 5 weeks earlier, on June 12 2016, that such a batch would be released. So even if Stone had talked to him, there was no news there. Moreover, both Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied the conversation ever took place. And of course Assange can’t defend himself against anything anyone says anymore.

And we can keep going: the assertion that the DNC mails were hacked has been refuted many times, and if they were stolen it was by someone inside the DNC. No story, no collusion, no there there. Only hour after tedious hour of Michael Cohen House testimony about nothing at all.

It felt a lot like a new low point in US political history, but you need to be careful with such classifications these days, since competition’s stiff and still picking up. I liked the following lines from an article in the Guardian this morning to appropriately describe the goings-on:

Trump’s former fixer cautioned that he could not prove the “collusion” with Moscow that the president vehemently denies. Still there was, Cohen said, “something odd” about the affectionate back-and-forth Trump had with Vladimir Putin in public remarks over the years.

Here’s the best thing Cohen could do in the entire time wasted on the topic:

“There are just so many dots that seem to lead in the same direction,” he said.”

How does that not make you want to scream? No collusion, only “something odd”, and “so many dots”. A thorough analysis out of the mouth of an at least questionable character who worked closely with Trump for a decade. That’s all the US House of Representatives had to show for the show it put on. And that’s a really big problem, but there’s no-one in sight to address, let alone rectify, it.

There are a thousand things wrong with Donald Trump, but even though that would not necessarily disqualify him for the presidency, the Democrats and the mainstream press have opted to go all-in on the Russia collusion theme, which even two years and change of Mueller hasn’t been able to prove.

Whether this will be the winning ticket for the Democrats in a next election is very doubtful, and what the press hope to get other than a few more readers and viewers addicted to scandals is anyone’s guess. But more importantly: why do they do it? Why focus on all the made-up stories instead of going out and finding the real ones?

Even if the Cohen show not constitute a new low, it was certainly scraping the gutter of American political reality, and someone better do something, or entirely new and thus far unimaginable lows will be attained. Not a single national political system can survive on entirely trumped-up accusations for long, let alone that of the globe’s most powerful nation. Does anyone ever wonder what the Dems will do if Trump wins again in 2020? Where can they flee to?

I’ll leave you with a few Twitter voices who also see no there there. Note: the first one is dated July 7 2016, some two weeks before Stone -unverifiably- said he talked to Assange (who always denied it, but it wouldn’t matter even if he had) :

 

 

 

 

Aug 012016
 
 August 1, 2016  Posted by at 5:38 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Migratory agricultural worker family fixing tire along California highway US 99 1937

The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) issued a report a few days ago entitled ‘The IMF and the Crises in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal’. It is so damning for managing director Christine Lagarde and her closest associates, that it’s hard to see, certainly at first blush, how they could all keep their jobs. But don’t be surprised if that is exactly what will happen.

Because organizations like the IMF don’t care much, if at all, about accountability. Their leaders think they are close to untouchable, at least as long as they have the ‘blessing’ of those whose interests they serve. Which in case of the IMF means the world’s major banks and the governments of the richest nations (who also serve the same banks’ interests). And if these don’t like the course set out, a scandal with a chambermaid is easily staged.

But the IEO doesn’t answer to Lagarde, it answers to the IMF’s board of executive directors. Still, despite multiple reports over the past few years out of the ‘inner layers’ of the Fund that were critical of, and showed far more comprehension of events than, Lagarde et al, the board never criticizes the former France finance minister in public. And maybe that should change; if the IMF is to hold on to the last shreds of its credibility, that is. But that brings us back to “Organizations like the IMF don’t care much, if at all, about accountability.”

What the IEO report makes very clear is that the IMF should never have agreed, as part of the Troika, to assist the EU in forcing austerity upon Greece without insisting on significant debt relief, in the shape of a haircut, or (a) debt writedown(s). The IMF’s long established policy is that both MUST happen together. But its Troika companion, the EU, is bound by the Lisbon Treaty, which stipulates: “The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments”. Also, the ECB can not “finance member states”.

If Lagarde and her minions had stayed true to their own ‘principles’, they should have refused to impose austerity on Greece if and when the EU refused debt relief (note: this has been playing out since at least 2010). They did not, however.

 

 

The IMF caved in (how willingly is hard to gauge), and the entire Troika agreed to waterboard Greece. The official excuse for bending the IMF’s own rules was the risk of ‘contagion’. But in a surefire sign that Lagarde et al were not acting with, let’s say, a “clear conscience”, they hid this decision from their own executive board.

Moreover, the IEO now says it was unable to obtain key records or assess the activities of secretive “ad-hoc task forces”. “Many documents were prepared outside the regular established channels; written documentation on some sensitive matters could not be located; [the IEO] has not been able to determine who made certain decisions or what information was available, nor has it been able to assess the relative roles of management and staff..”

One must wonder why the IMF has an executive board at all. Is it only to provide a facade of credibility and international coherence? When it becomes so clear, and -no less- through a report issued by one of its own offices, that its ‘boots on the ground’ care neither for its established policies nor for its board, isn’t it time for the board to interfere lest the Fund loses even more credibility?

The IMF’s main problem, which many insiders may ironically see as its main asset, is the lack of transparency, combined with the overwhelming power exerted by the US and Europe. And Europe’s grip on the IMF is exactly what the report is about, in that it accuses Lagarde et al of bowing to EU pressure, to the extent that it abandons its own guiding ‘laws’. It acted like it was the European Monetary Fund, not the international one.

So there’s no transparency, no accountability, and in the end that will lead to no credibility and no relevance. Well, that’s exactly how the EU lost Britain. And that shows where accountability and credibility are important even for non-democratic supra-national institutions, something these institutions are prone to neglect.

No, there will not be a vote put to the people, no referendum on the IMF. Though that would sure be interesting. What can happen, though, is that countries, even large ones like China and Russia, threaten to leave, perhaps start their own alternative fund. These things have already been widely discussed.

What is sure is that the US/Europe-centered character of the Fund will have to change. If Washington and Brussels try to appoint another European as managing director (an unwritten law thus far) they will face a rebellion.

 

 

That next appointment may come sooner than we think. Because Christine Lagarde is in trouble. It’s even a bit strange, and that’s putting it gently, that she’s still in her job. What’s hanging over her head is a 2008 case, in which she approved a payment of €403 million to businessman Bernard Tapie, for ‘losses’ he was to have suffered in 1993 when French bank Crédit Lyonnais supposedly undervalued his stake in Adidas.

Lagarde is accused of negligence in the case, in particular because she ignored advice from her own ministry (yeah, that does smack like the IMF thing) and let the Tapie case go to a special arbitration committee instead of the courts. That Tapie was a supporter of the Sarkozy government Lagarde served as finance minister at the time makes it juicier.

So does this: In 1993 Crédit Lyonnais was a private bank. But in 2008, it had been wound up and was run by a state-operated consortium. Therefore, the €403 million ‘awarded’ to Tapie out-of-court was all taxpayers money. Even juicier: in December 2015, a French appeal court overruled the compensation and ordered Tapie to repay the money, with interest.

What’s peculiar about Lagarde staying on at the IMF is that she is not merely under investigation or even ‘only’ accused of committing a crime. Instead, she has been ordered to stand trial, something she’s spent 8 years trying to avoid. Still, apparently nobody sees any problem in her continuing to act as Managing Director of the IMF.

That is quite something. And it directly affects the Fund’s credibility. If a president or prime minister of a country, any country, had been ordered to stand trial, the likely procedure would be to temporarily stand down and let someone else take care of government business pending the trial.

As it stands, however, Lagarde is allowed to sit pretty. And then? Borrowing from the Guardian: “A charge of negligence in the use of public money carries a one-year jail sentence and a €15,000 fine. The CJR is made up of six members of the French Assemblée Nationale, six members of the upper house, the Senate and three magistrates. No date has been set for the hearing.”

Ironically, negligence turns out to be a very light charge. Someone in Lagarde’s position could have given away or squandered trillions of euros and then be fined €15,000. But then, class justice is alive and well in France. What are the odds that she will be convicted? She’d have to be found with a chambermaid in Manhattan for that to happen…

 

 

That’s perhaps what the IMF board are thinking too. Whether that’s wise remains to be seen. Hubris rules all these institutions, sheltered as they are from the real world. But the real world is changing.

Ironically, many people think these changes will reinforce the IMF. Since the Fund can issue a sort of ‘super money’ in the shape/guise of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), and especially China would seem to like SDRs becoming the world’s reserve currency instead of the US dollar, the IMF in some people’s eyes holds a trump card.

There may well be an effort to hide private and public debt throughout the planet even more than it is hidden now, through SDRs. We’ll likely see governments and perhaps large corporations issue bonds denominated in SDRs. China seems to think that this could potentially halt much of its capital flight.

My trouble with this is that it’s either too unclear or too clear who would profit most from such schemes. Even if the next managing director of the IMF is not European, but Asian or African, the puppet masters of the Fund will still be the same western financial ‘cabal’. And I don’t see China or Russia signing up to that kind of control, and willingly expand it by making SDRs far more important.

Then again, there’s a sh*tload of debt that needs to be hidden, and the whole world is running out of carpet to sweep it under. Then again, Russia is not that indebted. It’ll be hard to get a consensus.

 

 

But all that won’t help Greece. Let’s get back to that. We left off where Lagarde conspired with the EU, under the guise of preventing contagion, to abandon the IMF’s own rules in order to waterboard the country. Of course, we know, though nobody writing on the IEO report mentions it, that the contagion they were trying to prevent was not so much between nations but between banks.

The bailout-related policies and actions that Lagarde hid from her own board (!) were designed to make French and German banks ‘whole’ at the cost of the Greek people. It became austerity, so severe as to make no sense whatsoever -certainly inside an alleged ‘Union’-, even if the IMF -not the world most charitable institution- has always banned this without being accompanied by strong debt relief.

Schäuble and Dijsselbloem saved Germany and Holland at the expense of Greece. This will end up being the undoing of the EU, even if nobody’s willing to acknowledge it despite the glaring evidence of the Brexit.

It will probably be the undoing of the IMF as well. And there I get back to what I’ve said 1000 times: centralization can only work in times of growth. There is no conceivable reason, other than dictatorship, why people would want to be part of a centralizing movement unless they get richer from it.

In today’s shrinking global economy, we have passed a point of no return in this regard. Everyone will want out of these institutions, and get back to making their own decisions about their own lives, instead of having these decisions being taken by some far away board with no accountability.

Let’s end with a few quotes about the IEO report. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard was in fine form:

IMF Admits Disastrous Love Affair With The Euro and Apologises For The Immolation Of Greece

The International Monetary Fund’s top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory.

[..] In Greece, the IMF violated its own cardinal rule by signing off on a bailout in 2010 even though it could offer no assurance that the package would bring the country’s debts under control or clear the way for recovery, and many suspected from the start that it was doomed. The organisation got around this by slipping through a radical change in IMF rescue policy, allowing an exemption (since abolished) if there was a risk of systemic contagion. “The board was not consulted or informed,” it said. The directors discovered the bombshell “tucked into the text” of the Greek package, but by then it was a fait accompli.

[..] The injustice is that the cost of the bailouts was switched to ordinary Greek citizens – the least able to support the burden – and it was never acknowledged that the true motive of EU-IMF Troika policy was to protect monetary union. Indeed, the Greeks were repeatedly blamed for failures that stemmed from the policy itself. This unfairness – the root of so much bitterness in Greece – is finally recognised in the report. “If preventing international contagion was an essential concern, the cost of its prevention should have been borne – at least in part – by the international community as the prime beneficiary,” it said.

 

 

That would seem to leave the IMF just one option: to apologize profoundly to Greece, to demand from the EU that all unjust measures be reversed and annulled, and to set up a very large fund (how about €1 trillion) specifically to support the Greek people, including retribution of lost funds, repair of the health care system, reinstatement of a pension system that can actually keep people alive and so on and so forth.

And to top it off of course: debt writedowns as far as the eye can see. You f**k up, you pay the price. This makes me think of a remark by Angela Merkel a few weeks ago, she said ‘we have found the right mix when it comes to Greece’. Well, Angela, that is so completely bonkers it’s insulting, and the IMF’s own evaluation office says so.

I like this one from Bill Black as well:

It was only after forcing the Greek people into a pointless purgatory of a decade of disaster that the troika would consider providing debt relief…The only ‘debt relief’ they offer to discuss is a ‘long rescheduling of debt payments at low interest rates.’ This, under their own dogmas, will lock Greece into a long-term debt trap that will materially lower Greece’s growth rate for decades and leave it constantly vulnerable to recurrent financial crises. That is a recipe for disaster for Greece, Italy, and Spain (collectively, 100 million citizens) and for the EU. It is financial madness – and that ignores the political instability it will cause to force an EU member nation to twist slowly in the wind for 50 years.”

Got that one off of Yanis Varoufakis’ site, and he must be feeling very vindicated, even if not nearly enough people express it, by the IMF report. Because he’s said all along what they themselves are now admitting. But it ain’t much good if nothing changes, is it? Or, as Varoufakis put it:

[..] to complete this week’s drubbing of the troika, the report by the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) saw the light of day. It is a brutal assessment, leaving no room for doubt about the vulgar economics and the gunboat diplomacy employed by the troika. It puts the IMF, the ECB and the Commission in a tight spot: Either restore a modicum of legitimacy by owning up and firing the officials most responsible or do nothing, thus turbocharging the discontent that European citizens feel toward the EU, accelerating the EU’s deconstruction.

[..] The question now is: What next? What good is it to receive a mea culpa if the policies imposed on the Greek government are the same ones that the mea culpa was issued for? What good is it to have a mea culpa if those officials who imposed such disastrous, inhuman policies remain on board and are, in fact, promoted for their gross incompetence?

In sum, an urgent apology is due to the Greek people, not just by the IMF but also by the ECB and the Commission whose officials were egging the IMF on with the fiscal waterboarding of Greece. But an apology and a collective mea culpa from the troika is woefully inadequate. It needs to be followed up by the immediate dismissal of at least three functionaries.

First on the list is Mr Poul Thomsen – the original IMF Greek Mission Chief whose great failure (according to the IMF’s own reports never before had a mission chief presided over a greater macroeconomic disaster) led to his promotion to the IMF’s European Chief status. A close second spot in this list is Mr Thomas Wieser, the chair of the EuroWorkingGroup who has been part of every policy and every coup that resulted in Greece’s immolation and Europe’s ignominy, hopefully to be joined into retirement by Mr Declan Costello, whose fingerprints are all over the instruments of fiscal waterboarding. And, lastly, a gentleman that my Irish friends know only too well, Mr Klaus Masuch of the ECB.

You probably guessed by now that I would certainly and urgently add Christine Lagarde to that list of people to be fired. And not appoint another French citizen as managing director. Too risky. They do crazy things. The IMF must be reorganized, and thoroughly, or it no longer has a ‘raison d’être’.

I see no reason to doubt that those who call the shots are too blinded by hubris to execute such measures, so I’ll list these things one more time: transparency, accountability, credibility and if you don’t have those you will lose your relevance.

But it’s probably a bad idea to begin with to let an economy, if not a world, in decline, be governed by the same people who owe their positions to its rise. It would seem to take another kind of mindframe.

Sep 192015
 
 September 19, 2015  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Arthur Siegel Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, MD May 1943

US Stocks Tumble As Fed Sows Fear And Confusion (MarketWatch)
The Fed Has To Deal With Its Own Zombie Apocalypse (CNBC)
A ‘Third Mandate’ For Fed As China Worries Take Hold (CNBC)
The Fed Is Trapped: The Naked Emperor’s New “Reaction Function” (Zero Hedge)
The Fed May Have Just Stoked A Currency War (CNBC)
Fed Is Riding The Tail Of A Dangerous Global Tiger (AEP)
Central Banks Fret Stimulus Efforts Are Falling Short (Reuters)
China Is Hoarding the World’s Oil (Bloomberg)
Occam’s Razor Says The Stock Market Is In A Downtrend (MarketWatch)
Three Reasons Why the US Government Should Default on Its Debt Today (Casey)
Treasury to Delay Enforcing Part of Tax Law That Curbs Offshore Tax Evasion (WSJ)
Moody’s Downgrades Credit Rating Of France (AP)
Negative Interest Rates ‘Necessary To Protect UK Economy’ – BOE (Telegraph)
The Orthodoxy Has Failed: Europe Needs A New Economic Settlement (Jeremy Corbyn)
Hungary Stops Train With 1,000 Asylum Seekers Escorted By 40 Croatian Police (RT)
We Are Double-Plus Unfree (Margaret Atwood)
Global Warming ‘Pause’ Theory Is Dead But Still Twitching (Phys Org)

As I wrote a few days ago: it’s all about credibility and confidence.

US Stocks Tumble As Fed Sows Fear And Confusion (MarketWatch)

U.S. stocks sank Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down for the week, as Federal Reserve’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged fueled fears about global economic growth. The central bank cited concerns about the global economy and a lack of inflation growth in its Thursday decision to leave interest rates unchanged. “Many are confused by the outcome of the recent Fed meeting,” said Kent Engelke at Capitol Securities. “Markets hate confusion and lack of clarity.” The S&P 500 skidded 32.16 points, or 1.6%, to close at 1,958.08 for a weekly loss of 0.2%. All S&P 500 sectors finished lower, led by energy shares. The Dow Jones dropped 289.95 points, or 1.7%, to close at 16,384.79 with all 30 components in the red. The blue-chip index edged down 0.3% for the week.

The Nasdaq shed 66.72 points, or 1.4% to 4,827.23. The tech-heavy index is the only one of the three major stock barometers to finish out the week higher with gains of 0.1%. Trading volume was elevated, with 5.74 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, due to “quadruple witching,” which means the expiration of various stock-index futures, stock-index options, stock options and single-stock futures. Friday is the second highest volume day of the year. “By not raising the rates, the Fed is now fanning global growth fears,” said Steven Wieting, global chief investment strategist, at Citi Private Bank. “The key for future market action depends largely on whether or not the Fed had any good cause to worry about international developments,” Wieting said.

Read more …

Setback of easy money: “..the bottom of the ladder has gotten more crowded..”

The Fed Has To Deal With Its Own Zombie Apocalypse (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve is scared—of lots of things, some obvious, some not so much. Thursday’s Fed decision to delay yet again the long-awaited liftoff from zero rates gave rise to still more speculation about why the U.S. central bank seems so perpetually reticent to normalize monetary policy. There are all the usual suspects, such as low inflation, weak wage gains despite strong job growth and China plus the rest of the emerging global economy. One reason that hasn’t gotten much attention is the need for the Fed to keep rates low both for government debt and the corporations that now have $12.5 trillion in debt. Among the prime beneficiaries of zero interest rates have been low-rated companies that have been able to borrow money at rates often in the 5% to 6% range.

A move to higher rates, even a small one, could have outsized impacts on those bad balance sheet companies.That puts the Fed in a bit of a Faustian bargain with issuers and holders that has become hard to break. Not only has high-yield issuance exploded in the days of the central bank’s ultra-easy accommodation, but the bottom of the ladder has gotten more crowded as well. About a quarter of all debt issued now in the junk universe is held by companies rated B3 or lower, according to Moody’s. Credit standards have continued to loosen as well, with the ratings agency reporting that its covenant quality index—essentially a read on how strict the conditions are on corporate borrowers—is at record lows.

“Businesses as a whole in the U.S. are better placed now to absorb any shocks that might hit them,” Bodhi Ganguli, senior economist at Dun & Bradstreet, said in a phone interview. “However, there are pockets of greater weakness like these zombie companies. These pockets are likely to see some more turbulence than overall conditions. Some companies definitely will go out of business.” It isn’t just the zombies, though, that should worry about higher rates. Corporate America overall has been piling on the debt, which grew 8.3 percent in the second quarter, according to figures the Fed released Friday.

Read more …

Would love to see a legal challenge to this. Can the Fed create its own mandates?

A ‘Third Mandate’ For Fed As China Worries Take Hold (CNBC)

Has the U.S. Federal Reserve become the world’s economic guardian? The central bank’s decision not to lift interest rates this week because of weakening global growth and a recent surge in market volatility has sparked talk of a “third mandate.” Analysts say that explicit references by the Fed following its meeting on Thursday to the China slowdown and its impact mark a significant departure for the central bank, which is mandated to ensure job creation and price stability in the U.S. economy. “The Federal Reserve’s third mandate appears to be global financial stability,” Mark Haefele at UBS said.

“The U.S. central bank has backed away from its first rate rise in over nine years, saying that international economic and financial weakness could dampen activity in the U.S.,” he said. Economists had been split over whether the Fed would deliver a long-anticipated rate increase this week and market expectations for when rates will rise have been pushed back further following a dovish Fed statement. In fact, one reason for the scaling back of rate-hike speculation in recent weeks has been growing concern about weakness in China – the world’s second-largest economy after the U.S. – and a sharp sell-off in emerging and developed markets in August. According to Deutsche Bank, global stock markets lost $5 trillion of their value in six days in August.

“The argument that global market developments are playing second fiddle to U.S. economic developments is a tenuous one, especially if the epicentre of global economic weakness is China – which is very important to U.S. economy,” Nicholas Spiro of Spiro Sovereign Strategy told CNBC. “It’s clear that what’s happening in China, especially in recent months, is having a massive deflationary impact so it’s about time we heard the Fed was concerned about China,” he said. Beijing is targeting a full-year growth rate of around 7%, which would be the slowest rate in almost 25 years. And there are concerns that the target will be missed amid weak economic data and a rout in Chinese stock markets that threaten to undermine confidence further.

Read more …

“..the FOMC would have been tightening into a tightening..”

The Fed Is Trapped: The Naked Emperor’s New “Reaction Function” (Zero Hedge)

Despite all the ballyhooing about moving to a more market-based exchange rate, the PBoC actually did the opposite on August 11. As BNP’s Mole Hau put it “whereas the daily fix was previously used to fix the spot rate, the PBoC now seemingly fixes the spot rate to determine the daily fix, [thus] the role of the market in determining the exchange rate has, if anything, been reduced in the short term.” Obviously, a reduced role for the market, means a greater role for the PBoC, and that of course means intervention via FX reserve drawdowns (i.e. the liquidation of US paper). Of course no one believed that China’s deval was “one and done” which meant that the pressure on the yuan increased and before you knew it, the PBoC was intervening all over the place.

By mid-September, PBoC intervention had cost some $150 billion between onshore spot interventions and offshore spot and forward meddling. The problem – as everyone began to pick up on some 10 months after we announced the death of the petrodollar – is that when EMs start liquidating their reserves, it works at cross purposes with DM QE. That is, it offsets it. Once this became suddenly apparent to everyone at the end of last month, market participants simultaneously realized – to their collective horror – that the long-running slump in commodity prices and attendant pressure on commodity currencies as well as the defense of various dollar pegs meant that, as Deutsche Bank put it, the great EM reserve accumulation had actually begun to reverse itself months ago. China’s entry into the global currency wars merely kicked it into overdrive.

What the above implies is that the Fed, were it to have hiked on Thursday, would have been tightening into a market where the liquidation of USD assets by foreign central banks was already sapping global liquidity and exerting a tightening effect of its own. In other words, the FOMC would have been tightening into a tightening. But that’s not all. When China devalued the yuan it also confirmed what the EM world had long suspected but what EM currencies, equities, and bonds had only partially priced in. Namely that China’s economy was crashing. For quite a while, the fact that Beijing hadn’t devalued even as the yuan’s dollar peg caused the RMB’s REER to appreciate by 14% in just 12 months, was viewed by some as a sign that things in China might not be all that bad.

After all, if a country with an export-driven economy can withstand a double-digit currency appreciation without a competitive devaluation even as the global currency wars are being fought all around it, then the situation can’t be too dire. Put simply, the devaluation on August 11 shattered that theory and reports that China is “secretly” targeting a much larger devaluation in order to boost export growth haven’t helped. For emerging markets, this realization was devastating. Depressed demand from China had already led to a tremendous amount of pain across emerging economies and the message the devaluation sent was that China’s economy wasn’t set to rebound any time soon, meaning global demand and trade will likely remain subdued, as will commodity prices.

Read more …

All this and that too.

The Fed May Have Just Stoked A Currency War (CNBC)

A lack of activity by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday may not have been a surprise, but it’s left no doubt in analysts’ minds that other central banks will now look to ease policy further, a move that could send more shock waves across global currency markets. Valentin Marinov at Credit Agricole told CNBC Friday that he expects global “currency wars” to intensify from here. He predicts the Bank of Japan, the ECB and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has now effectively been pushed into unveiling more stimulus. “The Fed inaction could spur other central banks into action,” he said. “It is currency wars.” The dollar skidded to a three-week low against a basket of major currencies after Thursday’s decision.

This comes after the greenback had been appreciating significantly since the middle of last year in anticipation of higher interest rates in the U.S. A higher interest rate can mean a higher yield on assets and investors in the U.S. have been busy bringing their dollars home, and thus out of high-yielding foreign investments. A weaker dollar in the short term could now leave other global economies frustrated and dent export-focused companies that favor a weak domestic currency. Manipulating reserve levels can be one way that a country’s central bank can intervene against currency fluctuations. Other measures include altering benchmark interest rates and quantitative easing. Central banks often stress that exchange rates are not a primary policy goal and can be seen more as a positive by-product of monetary easing.

There have been discussions in the last few years that countries are purposefully debasing their own currencies – a concern that was termed “currency wars” by Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega in September 2010. Credit Agricole’s Marinov highlighted that the ECB could be the next to act by ramping up its current bond-buying program, thus weakening the single currency – even though its only mandate is to manage inflation. Analysts at BNP Paribas also stated Friday that the Fed decision had increased their conviction that the ECB would increase its quantitative easing program. Marc Ostwald, strategist at ADM ISI, said in a note Friday that the ECB and the BoJ who will now face “even bigger challenges, given that the Fed is clearly not in any hurry to live up to its part of the ‘policy divergence’ grand bargain.”

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Ambrose is lost. He claims the China crash bottomed out in April, because more debt has been added since then.

Fed Is Riding The Tail Of A Dangerous Global Tiger (AEP)

The US Federal Reserve would have been mad to raise interest rates in the middle of a panic over China and an emerging market storm, and doubly so to do it against express warnings from the IMF and the World Bank. The Fed is the world’s superpower central bank. Having flooded the international system with cheap dollar liquidity during the era of quantitative easing, it cannot lightly walk away from its global responsibilities – both as a duty to all those countries that were destabilized by dollar credit, and in its own enlightened self-interest. Dollar debt outside the jurisdiction of the US has reached $9.6 trillion, on the latest data from the Bank for International Settlements. Dollar loans to emerging markets have doubled since the Lehman crisis to $3 trillion.

The world has never been so leveraged, and therefore so acutely sensitive to any shift in monetary signals. Nor has the global financial system ever been so tightly inter-linked, and therefore so sensitive to the Fed. The BIS says total debt in the rich countries has jumped by 36%age points to 265pc of GDP since the peak of the last cycle, and by 50 points to 167pc in developing Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa. It is wishful thinking to suppose that the world can brush off a Fed rate rise on the grounds that most of the debt is in local currencies. BIS research shows that they will face a rate shock regardless. On average, a 100 point move in US rates leads to a 43 point move in local currency borrowing costs in EM and open developed economies.

Given that the Fed was forced to reverse course dramatically in 1998 when the East Asia crisis blew up – for fear it would take down the US financial system – it can hardly go ahead nonchalantly with rate rises into the teeth of the storm today when emerging markets are an order of magnitude larger and account for 50pc of global GDP. Even if you reject these arguments, Goldman Sachs says the strong dollar and the market rout in August already amount to 75 basis points of monetary tightening for the US economy itself. Headline CPI inflation in the US is just 0.2pc. Prices fell in August. East Asian is transmitting a deflationary shock to the West, and it is not yet clear whether the trade depression in the Far East is safely over.

The argument that zero rates are unhealthy and impure is to let Calvinist psychology intrude on the hard science of monetary management. The chorus of demands – and just from ‘internet-Austrians’ – that rates should be raised in order to build up reserve ammunition in case they need to be cut later, is a line of reasoning that borders on insanity. If acted on, it would risk tipping us all into the very deflationary trap that we are supposed to be protecting ourselves against, the Irving Fisher moment when a sailing boat rolls beyond the point of natural recovery, and capsizes altogether. So hats off to Janet Yellen for refusing to listen to such dangerous counsel. However, the Fed is damned if it does, and damned if it does not, for by recoiling yet again it may well be storing up a different kind of crisis next year.

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Only solution: moar?!

Central Banks Fret Stimulus Efforts Are Falling Short (Reuters)

The world’s leading central banks are facing the risk that their massive efforts to revive economic growth could be dragged down again, with some officials arguing for bold new ideas to counter the threat of slow growth for years to come. A day after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates at zero, citing risks in the global economy, the Bank of England’s chief economist said central banks had to accept that interest rates might get stuck at rock bottom. In Japan, where interest rates have been at zero for more than 20 years, policymakers are already tossing around ideas for overhauling the Bank of Japan’s huge monetary stimulus program as they worry that it will be unsustainable in the future, according to sources familiar with its thinking.

Separately a top ECB official said the ECB’s bond-buying program might need to be rethought if low inflation becomes entrenched. But he added monetary policy would not restore economic growth over the long term. More than eight years after the onset of the financial crisis, the economies of the United States and Britain are growing at a healthier pace, in contrast to those of Japan and in many euro zone countries. But the risk of a sharp slowdown in China and other emerging economies has prevented the Fed from starting to raise interest rates and is being watched closely by the Bank of England.

Investors mostly think that the Fed’s delay will be short-lived and that it could begin raising rates before the end of the year, followed a few months later by Britain’s central bank. But the BoE’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, who has long been gloomy about the chances of a sustainable recovery, said the world might in fact be sinking into a new phase of the financial crisis – this time caused by emerging markets.

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Paid for with monopoly money. Where would the oil price be without this?

China Is Hoarding the World’s Oil (Bloomberg)

Even after China’s slowing economy dragged crude to a six-year low, oil’s second-biggest consumer remains the main safeguard against a further price meltdown. While China’s surprise currency devaluation helped trigger Brent crude’s slump to about $42 a barrel last month, the nation’s stockpiling of oil can staunch further losses. In the first seven months of the year, China purchased about half a million barrels of crude in excess of its daily needs, the most for the period since 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. As the country gathers bargain barrels for its strategic petroleum reserve, the demand is cushioning an oversupplied market from a further crash, according to Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

“It throws a lifeline to the market” that safeguards against the risk of crude touching $20 a barrel, Jeff Currie at Goldman Sachs said. “That lifeline lasts through late 2016.” Other countries have emergency oil-supply buffers, and while the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been stable at about 700 million barrels for years, China is expanding its stockpiles rapidly. The Asian nation has accumulated about 200 million barrels of crude in its reserve so far and aims to have 500 million by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency. It’s currently filling a 19 million-barrel facility at Huangdao and will add oil at six sites with a combined capacity of about 132 million barrels over the next 18 months, the Paris-based adviser on energy policy estimates.

“The fact that China is stockpiling crude for public strategic storage certainly offsets the weaker sentiment on China’s oil-product demand,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas SA in London. China’s demand growth is set to slow to an annual rate of 2.3% by the fourth quarter compared with 5.6% in the second quarter, a reflection of “weak car sales data, declines in industrial activity, plummeting property prices and fragile electricity output,” the IEA said in a report on Sept. 11.

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As in: you can’t taper a Ponzi scheme.

Occam’s Razor Says The Stock Market Is In A Downtrend (MarketWatch)

Investors can forget the “death cross,” “bearish divergences” and “symmetrical triangles,” and what the Federal Reserve says it will do about interest rates, and just focus on Occam’s razor: The S&P 500 abandoned its long-term uptrend in late August, meaning it is now in a downtrend. Occam’s razor is the philosophical principle that suggests, all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. One of the most elementary trading maxims on Wall Street is “the trend is your friend.” That’s basically what all the short-term technical patterns, economic data and earnings reports are used for, to determine which direction the longer-term trend is heading, and whether it’s about to change.

Once that trend is determined, a tenet of the century-old Dow Theory of market analysis says it is assumed to remain in effect, until it gives definite signals that it has reversed, according to the Market Technicians Associations knowledge base. In other words, the trend is your friend, until it isn’t. After cutting through all the noise, a trendline is probably the best chart pattern to determine the trend, as it is also the simplest. And the simplest way to tell if a trend has reversed, is if the trendline breaks. The S&P 500 had been riding a strong weekly uptrend, defined by the trendline connecting the bottom of the last correction in October 2011 with the bottom of the November 2012 pullback and the October 2014 low. The S&P 500 fell below that line in late August, meaning the uptrend flipped to a downtrend. Based on the Occam’s razor principle, the uptrend was the friend of investors for four years, but now it isn’t.

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And so should Greece?!

Three Reasons Why the US Government Should Default on Its Debt Today (Casey)

The overleveraging of the U.S. federal, state, and local governments, some corporations, and consumers is well known. This has long been the case, and most people are bored by the topic. If debt is a problem, it has been manageable for so long that it no longer seems like a problem. U.S. government debt has become an abstraction; it has no more meaning to the average investor than the prospect of a comet smacking into the earth in the next hundred millennia. Many financial commentators believe that debt doesn’t matter. We still hear ridiculous sound bites, like “We owe it to ourselves,” that trivialize the topic. Actually, some people owe it to other people. There will be big transfers of wealth depending on what happens.

More exactly, since Americans don’t save anymore, that dishonest phrase about how we owe it to ourselves isn’t even true in a manner of speaking; we owe most of it to the Chinese and Japanese. Another chestnut is “We’ll grow out of it.” That’s impossible unless real growth is greater than the interest on the debt, which is questionable. And at this point, government deficits are likely to balloon, not contract. Even with artificially low interest rates. One way of putting an annual deficit of, say, $700 billion into perspective is to compare it to the value of all publicly traded stocks in the U.S., which are worth roughly $20 trillion. The current U.S. government debt of $18 trillion is rapidly approaching the stock value of all public corporations – and that’s true even with stocks at bubble-like highs.

If the annual deficit continues at the $700 billion rate – in fact it is likely to accelerate – the government will borrow the equivalent of the entire equity capital base of the country, which has taken more than 200 years to accumulate, in only 29 years. You should keep all this in the context of the nature of debt; it can be insidious. The only way a society (or an individual) can grow in wealth is by producing more than it consumes; the difference is called “saving.” It creates capital, making possible future investments or future consumption. Conversely, “borrowing” involves consuming more than is produced; it’s the process of living out of capital or mortgaging future production.

Saving increases one’s future standard of living; debt reduces it. If you were to borrow a million dollars today, you could artificially enhance your standard of living for the next decade. But, when you have to repay that money, you will sustain a very real decline in your standard of living. Even worse, since the interest clock continues ticking, the decline will be greater than the earlier gain. If you don’t repay your debt, your creditor (and possibly his creditors, and theirs in turn) will suffer a similar drop. Until that moment comes, debt can look like the key to prosperity, even though it’s more commonly the forerunner of disaster.

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And why not…

Treasury to Delay Enforcing Part of Tax Law That Curbs Offshore Tax Evasion (WSJ)

The Treasury Department said Friday it would delay enforcement of one key part of a 2010 law that is aimed at curbing offshore tax evasion, in a regulatory victory for banks. The law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, requires foreign banks to start handing over information about U.S.-owned accounts to the Internal Revenue Service. It also would force banks and other financial institutions around the world to withhold a share of many types of payments to other banks that aren’t complying with the law. In effect, the withholding amounts to a kind of U.S. tax penalty on noncompliant financial institutions. The latest move by Treasury will push back the start of withholding for many types of transactions—such as stock trades—from 2017 until 2019.

Withholding for some other types of payments has already begun. The change will give banks more time to come into compliance with FATCA, and governments and the financial industry more time to work out some of the difficult details involved in withholding on more-complex financial transactions. The withholding provision is “the really big stick” in FATCA, said Michael Plowgian, a former Treasury official who is now at KPMG LLP. “The problem with it is that it’s really complicated…So Treasury and IRS have essentially punted” and created more time to solve some of the sticky technical issues, he added.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a Wall Street trade group, applauded the move. Given some of the complexities involved, “the 2017 deadline didn’t seem to make sense,” added Payson Peabody, tax counsel for SIFMA. “They are giving themselves more time and giving everyone else a bit more time to comment” on some of the hard questions. Despite the delay in some withholding, experts say FATCA implementation continues to move ahead.

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First downgrade the country, then wax about how great France really is doing.

Moody’s Downgrades Credit Rating Of France (AP)

Moody’s Investors Service is downgrading the credit rating of France, saying the French economy will grow slowly for the rest of this decade while the country’s debt remains high. The firm lowered its rating to “Aa2” from “Aa1.” That means France has Moody’s third-highest possible rating. Moody’s said Friday the outlook for economic growth in France is weak, and it does not expect that to change soon. It says the high national debt burden probably will not be reduced in the next few years because of low growth and institutional and political constraints. Overall Moody’s says France’s creditworthiness is “extremely high” because of its large, wealthy, well-diversified economy, high per-capita income, good demographic trends, strong investor base and low financing costs. The outlook was raised to “stable” from “negative.”

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The only way to keep a system going that is drowning in ever more debt.

Negative Interest Rates ‘Necessary To Protect UK Economy’ – BOE (Telegraph)

The Bank of England may need to push its interest rates into negative territory to fight off the next recession, its chief economist has said. Andy Haldane, one of the Bank’s nine interest rate setters, made the case for the “radical” option of supporting the economy with negative interest rates, and even suggested that cash could have to be abolished. He said that the “the balance of risks to UK growth, and to UK inflation at the two-year horizon, is skewed squarely and significantly to the downside”. As a result, “there could be a need to loosen rather than tighten the monetary reins as a next step to support UK growth and return inflation to target”. Speaking at the Portadown Chamber of Commerce, Mr Haldane’s support for a possible cut in rates came as the Bank as a whole has signalled that the next move in rates would be up.

But recent volatility in financial markets, prompted by China, and a decision by the US Federal Reserve to delay rate hikes, have pushed back expectations of the Bank’s first rate rise to November 2016. Traditionally policymakers have resisted cutting rates below zero because when the returns on savings fall into negative territory, it encourages people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy. It would be possible to get around the problem of hoarding by abolishing cash, Mr Haldane said, adding: “What I think is now reasonably clear is that the payment technology embodied in [digital currency] Bitcoin has real potential.” His remarks came as he made the case for raising the UK’s inflation target to 4pc from the current level of 2pc.

Mr Haldane said that a trend towards low interest rates across the globe has made it increasingly difficult to fight off recessions. In the past, central banks have helped stimulate economies by slashing interest rates. But with rates at rock bottom in many parts of the world, many have found their ammunition depleted. “Among the large advanced economies, official interest rates are effectively at zero,” Mr Haldane said. In the UK, the Bank’s interest rate has been stuck at 0.5pc for more than six years. One way to supply the Bank with more firepower would “be to revise upwards inflation targets”. The UK’s inflation target is currently 2pc, but this dates from an era when interest rates were closer to 6pc than 0.5pc. It might be necessary to double that target to 4pc, Mr Haldane argued.

Bank research has determined that slowing growth, ageing populations, weaker investment, rising inequality and a savings glut in emerging markets have all contributed to a generational decline in interest rates. Mr Haldane said: “These factors are not will-of-the-wisp. None is likely to reverse quickly. “That would mean there is materially less monetary policy room for manoeuvre than was the case a generation ago. Headroom of two%age points would potentially be insufficient.” However a hike in the inflation target to 4pc would provide extra “wiggle room”.

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The entire world does.

The Orthodoxy Has Failed: Europe Needs A New Economic Settlement (Jeremy Corbyn)

David Cameron is traversing Europe, apparently without much idea of what he wants to achieve in his much-feted renegotiation ahead of a referendum in 2016 or 2017. If the prime minister thinks he can weaken workers’ rights and expect goodwill towards Europe to keep us in the EU, he is making a great mistake. Mr Cameron’s support for a bill that would weaken the trade unions, and the cutting of tax credits this week, show that employment rights are under attack. One can imagine that the many rights we derive from European legislation, which underpins paid holidays, working time protection and improved maternity and paternity leave, are under threat too. There is a widely shared feeling that Europe is something of an exclusive club, rather than a democratic forum for social progress.

Tearing up our rights at work would strengthen that view. Labour will oppose any attempt by the Conservative government to undermine rights at work — whether in domestic or European legislation. Our shadow cabinet is also clear that the answer to any damaging changes that Mr Cameron brings back from his renegotiation is not to leave the EU but to pledge to reverse those changes with a Labour government elected in 2020. Workplace protections are vital to protect both migrant workers from being exploited and British workers from being undercut. Stronger employment rights also help good employers, who would otherwise face unfair competition from less scrupulous businesses. We will be in Europe to negotiate better protection for people and businesses, not to negotiate them away.

Too much of the referendum debate has been monopolised by xenophobes and the interests of corporate boardrooms. Left out of this debate are millions of ordinary British people who want a proper debate about our relationship with the EU. We cannot continue down this road of free-market deregulation, which seeks to privatise public services and dilute Europe’s social gains. Draft railway regulations that are now before the European Parliament could enforce the fragmented, privatised model that has so failed railways in the UK. The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that is being negotiated behind closed doors between the EU and the US, against which I have campaigned, is another example of this damaging approach.

There is no future for Europe if we engage in a race to the bottom. We need to invest in our future and harness the skills of Europe’s people. The treatment of Greece has appalled many who consider themselves pro-European internationalists. The Greek debt is simply not repayable, the terms are unsustainable and the insistence that the unpayable be paid extends the humanitarian crisis in Greece and the risks to all of Europe. The current orthodoxy has failed. We need a new economic settlement.

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Adding up: shame, insult, injury.

Hungary Stops Train With 1,000 Asylum Seekers Escorted By 40 Croatian Police (RT)

An unannounced train carrying over 1,000 asylum seekers, accompanied by around 40 Croatian police officers, has been intercepted by Hungarian authorities, who accused Zagreb of breaking international laws and intentionally participating in “human smuggling.” The train carrying up to 1,000 refugees was accompanied by some 40 Croatian police officers, who were reportedly detained and then sent back. Croatian police however refuted initial reports that officers accompanying the train were detained or disarmed, explaining that 36 officers “returned” to Croatia in the evening. “There was no disarming or arrests. It is not true,” Croatian police spokeswoman Jelena Bikic told Reuters, claiming that there was “an agreement about the escort between the police officers from the two sides in advance.”

Hungarian authorities said that the incident happened due to Croatia’s failure to coordinate train’s border crossing. According to the head of the Hungarian disaster unit, Gyorgy Bakondi, the Croatian train arrived at Magyarboly without any prior notice, bringing the number of unannounced arrivals to over 4,000 on Friday alone. Croatia’s FM Vesna Pusic claimed that the two countries had agreed “to provide a corridor” for refugees, Sky News reported. However Hungarian spokesman Zoltan Kovacs rejected the claim as a “lie.” “The Croatian system for handling migrants and refugees has collapsed basically in one day,” Kovacs added. “What we see today is the failure of the Croatian state to handle migration issues. What is more we see intentional, intentional, participation in human smuggling taking the migrants to the Hungarian border.”

After Hungary blocked off their border with Serbia this week with the aid of a metal fence and riot police, migrants flooded neighboring Croatia in search for an alternative route. More than 17,000 have arrived in the country since Wednesday morning. “We cannot register and accommodate these people any longer,” Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a news conference. “They will get food, water and medical help, and then they can move on. The European Union must know that Croatia will not become a migrant ‘hotspot’. We have hearts, but we also have heads.”

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Driven by fear.

We Are Double-Plus Unfree (Margaret Atwood)

Governments know our desire for safety all too well, and like to play on our fears. How often have we been told that this or that new rule or law or snooping activity on the part of officialdom is to keep us “safe”? We aren’t safe, anyway: many of us die in weather events – tornados, floods, blizzards – but governments, in those cases, limit their roles to finger-pointing, blame-dodging, expressions of sympathy or a dribble of emergency aid. Many more of us die in car accidents or from slipping in the bathtub than are likely to be done in by enemy agents, but those kinds of deaths are not easy to leverage into panic. Cars and bathtubs are so recent in evolutionary terms that we’ve developed no deep mythology about them.

When coupled with human beings of ill intent they can be scary – being rammed in your car by a maniac or shot in your car by a mafioso carry a certain weight, and being slaughtered in the tub goes back to Agamemnon’s fate in Homer, with a shower-murder update courtesy of Alfred Hitchcock in his film, Psycho. But cars and tubs minus enraged wives or maniacs just sit there blankly. It’s the sudden, violent, unpredictable event we truly fear: the equivalent of an attack by a hungry tiger. Yesterday’s frightful tigerish threat was communists: in the 1950s, one lurked in every shrub, ran the message. Today, it’s terrorists. To protect us from these, all sorts of precautions must, we are told, be taken. Nor is this view without merit: such threats are real, up to a point.

Nonetheless we find ourselves asking whether the extreme remedies outweigh the disease. How much of our own freedom must we sacrifice in order to defend ourselves against the desire of others to limit that freedom by subjugating or killing us, one by one? And is that sacrifice an effective defence? Minus our freedom, we may find ourselves no safer; indeed we may be double-plus unfree, having handed the keys to those who promised to be our defenders but who have become, perforce, our jailers. A prison might be defined as any place you’ve been put into against your will and can’t get out of, and where you are entirely at the mercy of the authorities, whoever they may be. Are we turning our entire society into a prison? If so, who are the inmates and who are the guards? And who decides?

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“..there never was a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown..”

Global Warming ‘Pause’ Theory Is Dead But Still Twitching (Phys Org)

A study released Thursday is the second this year seeking to debunk a 1998-2013 “pause” in global warming, but other climate scientists insist the slowdown was real, even if not a game-changer. When evidence of the apparent hiatus first emerged, it was seized upon by sceptics as evidence that climate change was driven more by natural cycles that humans pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “Our results clearly show that … there never was a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown,” Noah Diffenbaugh, the study’s main architect and a professor at Stanford University, said in a statement. The thermal time-out, his team found, resulted from “faulty statistical methods”.

In June, experts from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came to the same conclusion, chalking up the alleged slowdown to a discrepancy in measurements involving ocean buoys used to log temperatures. Their results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Science. Beyond a strident public debate fuelled as much by ideology and facts, the “pause” issue has serious real-world implications. Scientifically, a discrepancy between climate projections and observations could suggest that science has overstated Earth’s sensitivity to the radiative force of the Sun. Politically, it could weaken the sense of urgency underlying troubled UN negotiations, tasked with crafting a global pact in December to beat back climate change.

At first, scientists sounding an alarm about the threat of greenhouse gases were stumped by the data, unable to explain the drop-off in the pace of warming. Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—whose most recent 1,000-plus page report is the scientific benchmark for the UN talks—made note of “the hiatus”. Searching for explanations, the IPCC speculated on possible causes: minor volcano eruptions throwing radiation-blocking dust in the atmosphere, a decrease in solar activity, aerosols, regional weather patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. To the general relief of the climate science community, the Stanford findings—a detailed review of statistical methodology—would appear to be the final word on the subject.

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