Oct 102020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1948

 

Pelosi’s 25th Amendment Commission Is To Replace Biden With Kamala – Trump (RT)
25th Amendment Body: Unelected Bureaucrats Vs The Will Of American People (RT)
Pelosis Take a Big Stake in CrowdStrike (Maté)
Poll That Called 2016 Election Sees Another Shocking Outcome In November (ZH)
SSCI Allowed Dan Jones, Fusion-GPS, Shearer to Avoid Questioning (sundance)
Political Silo (sundance)
Pompeo: Clinton Private Server Emails Could Be Released Before Election (JTN)
Well Played, Mr. President. Sorry To Have Doubted You (John Rubino)
Trump’s Brilliant Stimulus Ploy Rattles Democrats (Peek)
I Didn’t Vote For Trump In 2016, But I’d Crawl Over Broken Glass Now (Sound)
State Dept Officials Cast Doubt On Christopher Steele’s Early Reports (DC)
After The QAnon Ban, Who’s Next? (Taibbi)
Tomorrow, Come Here Tomorrow…. (Kunstler)
Goldman Offers Workers Free On-Site COVID-19 Testing (ZH)

 

 

We’re digging ever deeper into politics. 25 days to go. And here comes the 25th Amendment commission.

 

 

Trump VS Covid – Who Won?! | Russell Brand

 

 

“She accused him just this week of being in an “altered state.”

Pelosi’s 25th Amendment Commission Is To Replace Biden With Kamala – Trump (RT)

Soon after Rep. Nancy Pelosi introduced a commission that would allow Congress to remove a mentally unfit president, Donald Trump tweeted a claim its ulterior motive is to replace Democratic candidate Joe Biden with Kamala Harris.“This is not about President Trump,” Speaker of the House Pelosi said when announcing the legislation on Friday. “He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.” Instead, the commission is needed to give “some comfort to people” about government stability, Pelosi (D-California) insisted. Some, however, were not convinced the commission is meant as just an additional safety mechanism in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pelosi’s assurance the legislation wasn’t about Trump has quickly sparked a theory that such a commission could be used to replace 77-year-old Joe Biden – whose own mental stability has been steadily questioned – should he win the election next month. President Trump himself floated that theory on Twitter shortly after Pelosi’s announcement. “Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris. The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!” Trump wrote. Others, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, have similarly lobbed the accusation at Pelosi.

“Pelosi is talking about 25th amendment replacing incapacitated President as trial run for replacing Biden with Harris next Spring if they win,” Gingrich tweeted. “Target is Biden not Trump,” he added. Under the 25th Amendment, a president can be stripped of their authority if they are deemed unfit for some reason to carry out their duties. This requires a two-thirds vote from both houses. Pelosi’s bill, however, would make this potential commission the determining body about a president’s fitness. Pelosi has questioned the health of the president since he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and left Walter Reed Medical Center. She accused him just this week of being in an “altered state.”

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“That Harris could become president without winning a single delegate in the primaries – having dropped out before they even started – seems an irony completely lost on the media and the party..”

25th Amendment Body: Unelected Bureaucrats Vs The Will Of American People (RT)

In addition to paving the way for a Harris administration, the proposed commission to govern the usurpation of presidential powers would create a ‘Deep State’-like cabal, including former officials, to gate-keep the White House. The pompously named Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office, unveiled on Friday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) is technically based on the provision in the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, allowing for “such other body as Congress may by law provide” to govern the process of succession should a president become “incapacitated.”

With just weeks left till the November 3 election, and zero chance of the Republican-majority Senate or President Donald Trump endorsing the proposal, it’s unclear at first why the Democrats would unveil it now. Pelosi swears this isn’t about Trump. “He will face the judgment of the voters,” she told reporters on Friday. “But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.” It didn’t take long for a number of people – from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Trump himself – to bring up the obvious: the first target of such a “process” may well be Joe Biden. In one of his more lucid moments, the 77-year-old actually said he wanted his running mate ready to take over “on day one.” Then he picked Senator Kamala Harris for the job.

That Harris could become president without winning a single delegate in the primaries – having dropped out before they even started – seems an irony completely lost on the media and the party normally harping on about “our democracy,” norms and traditions. No less intriguing than the “what” of the commission is the “how.” Raskin’s proposal envisions a 17-member panel, with 16 members appointed by congressional leaders of both parties electing the last one. Half the appointees would be physicians and psychiatrists, while the other eight would be chosen from the pool of former government officials: presidents, vice-presidents, surgeons-general, and heads of the departments of State, Treasury, Defense and Justice.

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“Speaker Pelosi is not involved in her husband’s investments and was not aware of the investment until the required filing was made.”

Pelosis Take a Big Stake in CrowdStrike (Maté)

The cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike rose to global prominence in mid-June 2016 when it publicly accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee and stealing its data. The previously unknown company’s explosive allegation set off a seismic chain of events that engulfs U.S. national politics to this day. The Hillary Clinton campaign seized on CrowdStrike’s claim by accusing Russia of meddling in the election to help Donald Trump. U.S. intelligence officials would soon also endorse CrowdStrike’s allegation and pursue what amounted to a multi-year, all-consuming investigation of Russian interference and Trump’s potential complicity.

With the next presidential election now in its final weeks, the Democrats’ national leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her husband, Paul Pelosi, are endorsing the publicly traded firm in a different way. Recent financial disclosure filings show the couple have invested up to $1 million in CrowdStrike Holdings. The Pelosis purchased the stock at a share price of $129.25 on Sept. 3. At the time of this article’s publication, the price has risen to $142.97. Drew Hammill, spokesman for Pelosi, said: “Speaker Pelosi is not involved in her husband’s investments and was not aware of the investment until the required filing was made. Mr. Pelosi is a private investor and has investments in a number of publicly traded companies. The Speaker fully complies with House Rules and the relevant statutory requirements.” The Pelosis’ sizeable investment in CrowdStrike could revive scrutiny of the company’s involvement in the Trump-Russia saga since the Democrats’ 2016 election loss.

After generating the hacking allegation against Russia in 2016, CrowdStrike played a critical role in the FBI’s ensuing investigation of the DNC data theft. CrowdStrike executives shared intelligence with the FBI on a consistent basis, making dozens of contacts in the investigation’s early months. According to Esquire, when U.S. intelligence officials first accused Russia of conducting malicious cyber activity in October 2016, a senior U.S. government official personally alerted CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch and thanked him “for pushing the government along.” The final reports of both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee cite CrowdStrike’s forensics. The firm’s centrality to Russiagate has drawn the ire of President Trump. During the fateful July 2019 phone call that would later trigger impeachment proceedings, Trump asked Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky to scrutinize CrowdStrike’s role in the DNC server breach, suggesting that the company may have been involved in hiding the real perpetrators.

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Looks very different from all the polls the media cites all the time. How come?

Poll That Called 2016 Election Sees Another Shocking Outcome In November (ZH)

With Election Day less than a month away, we look at which party will likely control the White House, Senate and House in 2020… and what to watch for on Election Night. Currently, the major polls give former Vice President Biden more than a 9-point lead nationally against President Trump – according to RealClearPolitics National Average. And the Predictit markets imply a 67% probability of Biden winning on November 3rd. Additionally, those markets suggest that Democrats will win both the Senate and House (66% and 88% probabilities, respectively). Quite simply, it appears that a Blue Wave is fast approaching, something which the market has not only priced in, but has successfully digested as a favorable narrative for risk assets.

It would be easy to simply close the books and call the November contest over. But, of course, the major polls were all wrong in 2016; notably about the presidential race. In the following Election Review from Camelot Portfolios, we look at what some of the polling firms that called 2016 correctly are seeing today. “Shocking”, their polling suggests that President Trump will be re-elected, either narrowly or by a large margin. Therefore, as Camelot notes, “capital allocators today cannot easily assume next month’s results.” It’s very possible that Trump will win Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. If so, a win in Pennsylvania or Michigan will likely put him over the top in the electoral college. And speaking of “shocking”, Camelot notes that as far as the Senate and House are concerned, it also appears that Republicans will keep control of the Senate, especially if Trump has a strong night. On the other hand, the House is highly likely to remain in Democratic control.

[..] Trafalgar Group was named best polling firm of 2016 presidential race. It was one of few pollsters to predict Trump would win PA and MI (sources: Trafalgar Group and RealClearPolitics) and also Trump’s victory. [..] The secret to Trafalgar’s success is that it best adjusted its polling to include ‘shy Trump voters’ and the votes missed in other polls. Democracy Institute also correctly predicted Trump’s victory in 2016, as well as Brexit. Which brings us to today, and what Camelot Portfolios sees as the likely firewall states for Trump and Biden:

Which brings us to the punchline, and what Trafalgar sees as the outcome on Nov 3. In a nutshell, based on Trafalgar swing state polls, Trumps wins with 275 electoral votes:

What about the “winner” in the 2016 polling fiasco, the Democracy Institute, and its Latest Poll for September:
• Only asks likely voters, and asks about so-called ‘shy votes’.
• Trump leads Biden 46%-45%, nationally.
• Trump leads in swing states (FL, IA, MI, MN, PA, WI) 47% to 43%.
• Trump’s swing state leads would give him 320 electoral votes, and Biden 218.
• 77% of Trump voters would not admit to friends and family.
• Amy Coney Barrett nomination has little impact on approximately 8 in 10 voters.
• Law and order is top issue (32%). Economy is second (30%).
• Voters trust Trump more on economy than Biden: 60% to 40%, respectively

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“The attempt to remove President Trump from office encompassed all three branches of the U.S. government.”

SSCI Allowed Dan Jones, Fusion-GPS, Shearer to Avoid Questioning (sundance)

A fantastic catch by Twitter user “15poundstogo” highlights a key phrase within the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSCI) Russia Report Volume-5, showing how the SSCI allowed those who created the Trump-Russia narrative to avoid questioning. This is a very important detail to underpin the report we shared yesterday about former Dianne Feinstein top staffer Dan Jones attempting to avoid a subpoena from U.S. Attorney John Durham. This key highlight from the SSCI is evidence of how the attempted coup against President Trump was coordinated by people outside government and inside government.

Dan Jones left the SSCI prior to the 2016 election and went to work pushing the Trump-Russia narrative through his media contacts. Jones took over funding Fusion-GPS and Chris Steele in 2017 at the same time Senator Mark Warner took over as SSCI vice-chairman. Dan Jones and Mark Warner coordinated the efforts outside and inside government on the same objective. The Senate Intel Committee was part of the effort. As a result of their alignment and common purpose the SSCI didn’t investigate the origin of the Trump-Russia narrative; and instead positioned themselves as a shield to block any investigative inquiry into what took place. THIS IS A BIG DEAL !

The attempt to remove President Trump from office encompassed all three branches of the U.S. government.
• Executive Branch – FBI, DOJ, CIA, State Dept., and Special Counsel Office.
• Legislative Branch – SSCI in 2017 and 2018 with an assist from House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary in 2019 and 2020.
• Judicial Branch – FISA Court 2015, 2016, 2017; Federal Judges (Sullivan, Walton, Howell, Berman-Jackson) in alignment with DC intents in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

How does the office of the United States president; and more importantly a constitutional republic itself; survive a coordinated coup effort that involves all three branches of government; while simultaneously those in charge of exposing the corruption fear the scale of the effort is too damaging for the U.S. government to reveal?

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A second part of the same article cited above.

Political Silo (sundance)

On June 7, 2018, an indictment against Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe was unsealed. Approximately six weeks later, July 21, 2018, the DOJ mysteriously declassified and publicly released the Carter Page FISA application. That’s when I noticed the first two documents were related. The FISA application was the “top secret classified document” described in the Wolfe indictment. Immediately I recognized it wasn’t just any copy of the FISA application that was released by the DOJ; but rather a very specific copy of the FISA application. What the DOJ released was the exact copy used in the 2017 leak investigation of James Wolfe. The ramifications of this specific copy being publicly released were immediately noted, although almost everyone seemed to gloss over the issue in favor of discussing the content.

Over the course of the next several months the ramifications became more clear. Despite overwhelming evidence James Wolfe was never charged with leaking the FISA application on March 17, 2017. Quite the contrary, even to this day the official position of the FBI, DOJ and U.S. government is that Wolfe *did not* leak the FISA application. There’s a very big reason for that. First, it must be remembered the goal of the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions, despite his recusal on all things Trump, was the removal of political influence in the DOJ. That same objective has been repeated ad infinitum by current AG Bill Barr. This approach is why everyone in/around any issue that skirts on the investigative tissue keeps saying: “a very delicate balance is being navigated”, and “very sensitive approaches” are needed.

None of the former -and some remaining embed- officials in the FBI, DOJ, or Special Counsel actors, had any aversion to the use of weaponized politics in their corrupt investigations of President Trump. However, in the current investigation of the former weaponized political investigations the primary avoidance filter is politics. As expressed by almost everyone in and around the issue, any evidence that comes from inside the political silo is considered unusable. This sets up a rather challenging approach… hence the overused “delicate balances” etc. This overlay, the aggressive need not to use political information, is also frustrating.

Some are beginning to question whether it is actually a shield to justify a lack of accountability or institutional preservation. Keep up the pressure, the concerns are valid. The public doesn’t draw distinctions from the origin of evidence. Regardless of whether information comes from HPSCI ranking member Devin Nunes; and/or Senators Grassley, Johnson or Graham (political silo); or from the DOJ itself via John Bash, Jeff Jensen or John Durham; the public is absorbing all it. However, the current AG Barr instructions imply the non use of evidence emanating from the political silo in very direct terms.

FBI Washington Field Office Special Agent Brian Dugan was given a task in early 2017 to see if he could track down and identify people who were leaking information related to national security. Dugan used a Top-Secret Classified Information request by SSCI Vice-Chairman Mark Warner to begin a very specific leak investigation. On March 17, 2017, Brian Dugan picked-up a copy of the Carter Page FISA application from the FISA Court. He personally delivered that “read and return” copy to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Security Director James Wolfe. Shortly after 4:02 pm that same day, Vice-Chairman Mark Warner reviewed the FISA in the senate “scif”.

It is not known if any other SSCI committee member viewed that FISA (there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence to indicate only Wolfe and Warner saw it); however, what is factually certain – is that on the same day as Wolfe and Warner reviewed the FISA, Security Director James Wolfe leaked its content to journalist Ali Watkins. Both the New York Times and Washington Post began reporting on the FISA application. As soon as Ms. Watkins wrote an article for Buzzfeed, April 3, 2017, outlining Carter Page as “person one” in the application, Agent Dugan knew the FISA had been leaked.

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” There are reportedly as many as 33,000 e-mails from Clinton’s private server that haven’t been released publicly..”

Pompeo: Clinton Private Server Emails Could Be Released Before Election (JTN)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server might be released before the Nov. 3 election. Pompeo was asked if he is concerned that revealing the emails would have national security implications given that some of them likely contain classified information. “I’ve been at this a long time with President Trump, for four years now, almost. I’ve never seen him do anything that would put any kind of asset, any one of our officers in harms way. He wouldn’t do that,” Pompeo said on Fox News. “We’ll get the information out that needs to get out.”


Addressing the timing of the potential release of the emails, Pompeo said, “We’re doing it as fast as we can. I certainly think there will be more to see before the election.” President Trump said this week that he had declassified documents from the investigation into Clinton’s use of the private server for e-mail during her tenure as secretary of state, America’s top diplomat. There are reportedly as many as 33,000 e-mails from Clinton’s private server that haven’t been released publicly.

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Joh Rubino is a very longtime friend of the Automatic Earth.

“The strategy of breaking the stimulus bill up into pieces puts the Dems in a tough spot, having to oppose saving big, crucial industries and giving money directly to voters in order to protect bail-outs for Dem-run states.”

Well Played, Mr. President. Sorry To Have Doubted You (John Rubino)

The political and financial worlds were baffled by President Trump’s decision, just hours after being released from the hospital, to suspend coronavirus stimulus bill negotiations “until after the election.” Leaving aside the stupidity of massive new borrowing and spending on top of the past year’s multi-trillions, walking away from those talks seemed like a really bad political move. But then, in almost the same breath, Trump turns around and demands a huge bailout for the airlines and a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals. Had he joined Biden in the drift toward senility? Or was there some method to the apparent madness? With a little hindsight, it’s clear that this was one of his “Art of the Deal” tactics, albeit in compressed form.

You walk away from stalled talks, get in your car and drive off, leaving the other side stunned and, hopefully, softened up for compromise. Then you restart negotiations with each side a little more flexible, and — in this case the crucial second part of the strategy — the deal broken up into bite-sized, and thus more easily doable, parts. Huh. It appears to be working. Mnuchin and Pelosi are making hopeful sounds and the stock market – addicted as it is to ever-easier money – is now happily anticipating an extended high. Gold, meanwhile, has concluded that the now-imminent debt binge will indeed crush the dollar, sending capital pouring into safe havens. But the politics of this strategy are even more interesting than the finance.

The big conflict here is the Democrats’ burning desire to bail out their party’s governors and mayors colliding with Trump’s aversion to rewarding those officials’ horrendous mismanagement (and refusal to vote Republican). Remember, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and their peers were looking at pension crises (i.e., functional bankruptcy) before the pandemic hit. The strategy of breaking the stimulus bill up into pieces puts the Dems in a tough spot, having to oppose saving big, crucial industries and giving money directly to voters in order to protect bail-outs for Dem-run states. This is not a good place to be going into the election, but it’s where Trump has put them. So, well-played, Mr. President. Whatever else you’ve done, you have indeed taught the rest of us some lessons in hard-ball negotiating. We’ll be better for it no matter where you end up next year.

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” If rejecting the $2.1 trillion “Heroes Act” stuffed with Democratic wish-list items such as imposing federal rules banning voter IDs is the result of downing steroids or Remdesivir, every member of Congress should be force-fed those meds.”

Trump’s Brilliant Stimulus Ploy Rattles Democrats (Peek)

President Trump confounded the pundits once again when be turned the tables on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and called off further negotiations on stimulus relief. For a president running on his ability to build (and rebuild) a strong economy, pulling the plug on a relief bill poised to prop up consumer spending seemed like an act of madness. Indeed, that was what Pelosi hinted, in one of her more reckless and shameful accusations to date, telling “The View” audience recently that taking coronavirus medications may have impacted the president’s “thinking” and that perhaps he needs an “intervention.” If rejecting the $2.1 trillion “Heroes Act” stuffed with Democratic wish-list items such as imposing federal rules banning voter IDs is the result of downing steroids or Remdesivir, every member of congress should be force-fed those meds.

The story, of course, does not end there. Trump pivoted soon thereafter, challenging Pelosi to accept a stream-lined and targeted relief effort. He tweeted, “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” It was a brilliant move, and should the two sides come together to help the American people – which is the point, right? – Trump will emerge the consummate dealmaker. Americans are disgusted with Congress and its inability to get anything done. In the latest Gallup survey, only 17 percent of the country approved of Congress, while 80 percent disapproved, making Trump’s approval ratings look golden.

That’s down from 30 percent earlier this year, and surely reflects the ongoing warfare between Democrats and Republicans over, among other things, another relief package. As much as voters dislike congressional dysfunction, they must surely also hate the giant, pork-packed bills that govern our country. The “Heroes Act” weighs in at 2,100 pages. Why should doling out money to needy people and businesses require so much ink? Because that’s how Pelosi and, to be fair, her Republican counterparts, bury handouts to their favored constituents and allies. It is deplorable. Trump’s demand that Pelosi simply send out checks to struggling Americans will strike most people as reasonable. But not Madame Speaker. She loves those overstuffed pieces of legislation. After all, she’s the one who agreed to ObamaCare, saying of that 2,700-page monstrosity, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

The prevailing media-endorsed opinion (aka the Democratic talking point) is that Trump risks being blamed for the cut-off of aid to the unemployed and to small businesses if another bill does not pass. That certainty seems to have prompted Pelosi’s intransigence. She and the Democrats balked at spending anything less than $2 trillion, even knowing the GOP senate would never sign such a bill. But Pelosi has a lot on the line as well. The Blue Dog Democrats wrote a letter to the House speaker recently, in which they urged her “to continue the discussions over the weekend until a deal is achieved.” They further exhorted “Congress [to] stay here in Washington to keep negotiating.” Congress, in fact, has just left town for a six-week break. That’s how much they care about the American people.

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” I took him literally but not seriously, in contrast to his supporters who took him seriously but not literally (credit to Peter Thiel for identifying this significant distinction)”

I Didn’t Vote For Trump In 2016, But I’d Crawl Over Broken Glass Now (Sound)

Even though I had voted for every Republican presidential candidate since 1980, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Many Republican nominees had been huge disappointments to me, and I wasn’t going to vote for yet another GOP candidate I thought would betray my trust. I couldn’t imagine Trump as a genuine conservative who would champion limited government, respect individual freedom and liberty, and protect the unborn — but was I ever wrong. Although I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, I would crawl over broken glass to vote for him in 2020. In 2016, I was convinced Trump was just another New York liberal. On election night, however, I smiled. I was happy that at least Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be president, and I suspected that the next four years with Trump would at least be entertaining.


The primary reason I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 was that I didn’t believe him. I didn’t trust that he would be pro-life, a non-negotiable issue for me. His bluster and bravado didn’t appeal to me. I took him literally but not seriously, in contrast to his supporters who took him seriously but not literally (credit to Peter Thiel for identifying this significant distinction). By the time Trump took office, I was willing to give him a chance. He was the president, after all, and deserved the opportunity to prove himself. During the first year of his presidency, I was impressed by his commitment to keeping his campaign promises, unlike most politicians. By the end of 2017, I classified myself as a Trump supporter because of what he had already done as president.

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In case you were still wondering exactly how absurd it was that Mueller based his investigation on a report paid for by the Democrats.

State Dept Officials Cast Doubt On Christopher Steele’s Early Reports (DC)

State Department officials cast doubt on the credibility of several intelligence memos that former British spy Christopher Steele provided the agency in the years before he began investigating Donald Trump, according to emails the Daily Caller News Foundation obtained through a lawsuit. One State Department official, an ambassador to Ukraine, described Steele’s reporting as “flaky.” Another official said that a Steele report sounded “extreme,” and that others “do not ring true.” Despite the potential red flags regarding Steele’s work, the ex-MI6 officer was granted a meeting at Foggy Bottom in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election. During the meeting, Steele shared details later found in a dossier that accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Kremlin to influence the election.

Many of Steele’s allegations have been disputed or outright debunked in the years since the dossier was published. The State Department handed over the latest documents as part of a lawsuit that Judicial Watch filed on behalf of The Daily Caller News Foundation on April 25, 2018. The lawsuit sought several categories of records, including all of the reports that Steele provided to State Department officials prior to his investigation of Trump. Steele, who is based in London, had reportedly shared more than 100 intelligence reports about Russia and Ukraine from 2014 to 2016 with Jonathan Winer, who then served as the State Department’s special envoy to Libya.

Winer, a longtime aide to then-Sec. of State John Kerry, passed Steele’s memos to a small group of State Department officials, including Victor Nuland, Paul Jones and Geoffrey Pyatt. The State Department had released heavily redacted versions of Steele’s report through the lawsuit. The officials’ commentary was also largely redacted. The agency disclosed some of the officials’ assessments of Steele’s reports in response to an appeal from Judicial Watch. The email traffic shows initial enthusiasm for Steele’s reports. Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and the other officials said that the reports contained valuable insights into Russia and Ukraine.

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Big Tech = Secret Service censorship.

After The QAnon Ban, Who’s Next? (Taibbi)

Facebook announced Tuesday that it’s stepping up efforts to clean its platform of QAnon content: “Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content…” Facebook had already taken several rounds of action against QAnon, including the removal this summer of “over 1,500 Pages and Groups.” Restricting bans to groups featuring “discussions of potential violence” apparently didn’t do the trick, however, so the platform expended bans to include content “tied to real world harm”: “Other QAnon content [is] tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public.”

Describing what QAnon is, in a way that satisfies what its followers would might say represents their belief system and separates out the censorship issue, is not easy. The theory is constantly evolving and not terribly rational. It’s also almost always described by mainstream outlets in terms that implicitly make the case for its banning, referencing concepts like “offline harm” or the above-mentioned “real-world harm” in descriptions. As you’re learning what QAnon is, you’re usually also learning that it is not tolerable or safe. “QAnon was once a fringe phenomenon, the kind most people could safely ignore,” the New York Times wrote recently. “But in recent months, it’s gone mainstream.”

In rough terms, QAnon is a gospel spun by “Q,” ostensibly a current or former government official, who keeps the public appraised of an epic secret battle between good and evil, undertaken in political shadows. The villains are a globalist pedophile ring involving the mega-rich, Hollywood actors, and the Clintons (among many others), while Donald Trump leads the army of the righteous.

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“The Jacobins Reign of Terror comes to its sudden and ignominious end with Robespierre bawling under the national razor.”

Tomorrow, Come Here Tomorrow…. (Kunstler)

Is it possible that some Democratic Party voters begin to suspect that the party officials running this game have lost their minds? A good signifier, of course, is the ghostly figure carrying their battle-flag, Mr. Biden, the Flying Dutchman candidate whose mind slips in and out of fog-banks as he navigates the shoals of defeat. Why did the Party ship out with him on the poop-deck? My guess would be: to deflect indictments of himself and many other former officials as the steady flow of documentary evidence gets released by new DNI John Ratcliffe, including a batch this past week showing pretty incontrovertibly that everybody and his uncle in the Obama executive branch was keenly aware that RussiaGate was a Hillary campaign ploy and allowed themselves to be weaponized into the scheme — under the assumption that she couldn’t lose and they’d never be found out.

She lost. They’re found out. Grand juries have been convened by Mr. Durham. Something wicked is coming their way. Their ship is going down and the rats are all squeaking desperately in the scuppers at the rising water. Won’t this all be a shock to that crew of media fabulists who stupidly maintain that the Mueller Report actually proved something — the David Frenches, Max Boots, and Rachel Maddows of this world and their True Believer followers? History is rhyming again. It’s like 1794 in Paris. The Jacobins Reign of Terror comes to its sudden and ignominious end with Robespierre bawling under the national razor. So does today’s Reign of Perfidious Sedition close, with Jim Comey bawling, “I can’t recall,” into his laptop.

Incidental to this is the breaking news — sure to not be reported in The New York Times or by CNN — that one Devon Archer, business partner of Hunter Biden (and John Kerry stepson, Christopher Heinz) has just had his previously overturned conviction for security fraud reinstated by a federal appeals court. Sound abstruse? Yeah, kind of, but, believe me this boy is in some serious hot water, the rap being a federal one, and Mr. Archer now poised to sing like a canary to John Durham’s posse about his various financial exploits in Ukraine and other foreign lands with Joe Biden’s son (and Mr. Kerry’s stepson) in exchange for lighter jail time. You just watch.

Keep your ears pricked also for developments involving Senate Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) and his role in 2016-17 as an active disseminator of Steele Dossier RussiaGate dis-info in coordination with the George Soros funded Democracy Integrity Project, run by former Dianne Feinstein chief-of-staff Dan Jones and assisted by swamp lawyer Adam Waldman, a Steele / Warner go-between who happened to be a $40,000-a-month lobbyist for one Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and Clinton Foundation doner (at least $1-million) who also employed Christopher Steele as a dis-info errand boy. Unpacking that one will be like unpacking the surgical batting in a sucking chest wound. Scrub for it.

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Can someone explain why this is not mandatory everywhere?

Dave Collum: “I am so impressed. Free testing. Wow. Somebody tell @GoldmanSachs that @Cornell tests 5,000 people per DAY.”

Goldman Offers Workers Free On-Site COVID-19 Testing (ZH)

In September, Goldman Sachs employees in New York became the latest to suffer a trading floor outbreak as Wall Street banks called their investment banking workers back into the office before pretty much every other white-collar industry. But now that Microsoft is claiming that it plans to allow some employees to work from home permanently (well, at least some of the time), Goldman is touting its plans to offer all US-based employees antibody tests and saliva-based PCR tests and other on-sight screening for staff at 200 West Street, according to Financial News. The report cited a memo sent to staff dated Oct. 8, which was Thursday. Goldman is considering rolling the program out to other officers around the world, but it hasn’t made any final plans yet.


In New York, the tests will be available to workers first returning to the office, while those remaining at home can be reimbursed for any costs they incur related to their private health care programs and COVID-19 testing. CEO David Solomon is also introducing internal daily screenings and a “tracking and tracing” program to help prevent any future outbreaks. “As high-quality testing has become more available, we have engaged vendor partners to offer off-site COVID-19 tests to eligible people in the US at no cost,” reads the memo sent out to staff on Thursday. “Testing is one part of a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes wearing masks, following general hygiene and handwashing best practices, and practicing social distancing.”

Read more …

 

 

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John Solomon

 

 

 

 

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Oct 052020
 


Leonardo da Vinci A Copse of Trees 1508

 

President Trump Could Be Discharged From Walter Reed On Monday (JTN)
Largest COVID19 Contact Tracing Study: Children Key To Spread (Princeton)
Why Are Dems Praying for Speedy Recovery of a “Fascist Dictator”? (Greenwald)
Supreme Court To Commence New Term On Monday (JTN)
Amazon Reveals Over 20,000 Employees Likely Contracted COVID (MPN)
The DNC Hired CrowdStrike To Frame Russia For The Hack (Farnan)
Joe Biden Defense Of His Son’s Business Deals Conflicts With Evidence (JTN)
Pompeo’s Visit To Greece, Cyprus Prompted By Turkey’s S-400s (K.)
GOP Reps Join Tulsi Gabbard In Push To Drop US Assange, Snowden Charges (WT)

 

 

I see thirty days of more hysterical clickbaiting in your future. Trump’s trip outside Walter Reed may not have been risk-free, but you need to steamroller over his entire medical team at the hospital, and claim they are irresponsible frauds or something like that, to turn it into the murderous rampage that the MSM make it.

Here’s a bit of humor about it from Twitter. Please lighten up a little.

 

 

Motorcade

 

 

US national security

 

 

Seek Help

 

 

 

 

Oh, no, much too early! Those doctors are crazy!

President Trump Could Be Discharged From Walter Reed On Monday (JTN)

President Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center to finish his COVID-19 treatment from the White House, a doctor announced during a press conference on Sunday. “In response to transient low oxygen levels as Dr. Conley has discussed, we did initiate dexamethasone therapy and he received his first dose of that yesterday. And our plan is to continue that for the time being,” that doctor said. President Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley expressed that he wished to “reiterate how pleased we all are with the president’s recovery.” Conley explained that on Friday morning when the president’s “oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94 percent,” he suggested that the president take oxygen.


“He was fairly adamant that he didn’t need it. He was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever, and that was about it,” Conley explained, noting that following approximately a minute of oxygen the president’s levels had risen and that the president remained on the oxygen for around one hour. Conley also said that the president’s oxygen level on Saturday dipped but eventually rose. He noted that the president is not experiencing shortness of breath.

Read more …

Again, a new viewpoint.

Largest COVID19 Contact Tracing Study: Children Key To Spread (Princeton)

A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected. Furthermore, children and young adults were found to be potentially much more important to transmitting the virus — especially within households — than previous studies have identified, according to a paper by researchers from the United States and India published Sept. 30 in the journal Science.

Researchers from the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, worked with public health officials in the southeast Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to track the infection pathways and mortality rate of 575,071 individuals who were exposed to 84,965 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It is the largest contact tracing study — which is the process of identifying people who came into contact with an infected person — conducted in the world for any disease.

Lead researcher Ramanan Laxminarayan, a senior research scholar in PEI, said that the paper is the first large study to capture the extraordinary extent to which SARS-CoV-2 hinges on “superspreading,” in which a small percentage of the infected population passes the virus on to more people. The researchers found that 71% of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while a mere 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections. “Our study presents the largest empirical demonstration of superspreading that we are aware of in any infectious disease,” Laxminarayan said. “Superspreading events are the rule rather than the exception when one is looking at the spread of COVID-19, both in India and likely in all affected places.”

The findings provide extensive insight into the spread and deadliness of COVID-19 in countries such as India — which has experienced more than 96,000 deaths from the disease — that have a high incidence of resource-limited populations, the researchers reported. They found that coronavirus-related deaths in India occurred, on average, six days after hospitalization compared to an average of 13 days in the United States. Also, deaths from coronavirus in India have been concentrated among people aged 50-64, which is slightly younger than the 60-plus at-risk population in the United States.

Read more …

“..their behavior upon hearing that someone they claim to regard as a genocidal racist fascist tyrant has contracted a fatal virus is extremely unusual..”

Why Are Dems Praying for Speedy Recovery of a “Fascist Dictator”? (Greenwald)

The typical reaction to the death of a tyrant — whether by revolutionary violence or natural causes — is not one of grief and sadness but joyous celebration. It is not hard to understand why: when a nation and its oppressed citizenry are finally liberated from the suffocating, savage grip of fascist dictatorship, they feel joy for themselves, their families and the future of their nation. Yet in the U.S., a radically different dynamic is playing out. Over the past several years, but particularly in the months heading into the 2020 election, it has become extremely common for prominent Democrats and their media allies to refer to President Trump as a dictator, a fascist, a tyrant hellbent on destroying U.S. democracy, a genocidal racist, and even a Nazi.

And yet, the overwhelming reaction in those mainstream precincts to the news that the fascist dictator has contracted a potentially lethal virus is to hope and pray that he makes a speedy recovery whereby he can resume his democracy-destroying, genocidal, tyrannical, fascist rule. In March of last year, as CNN put it, “two powerful House Democrats invoked Adolf Hitler’s actions in Germany and the treatment of Jews during World War I and in the 1920s to warn against the direction the US is moving in, with both saying Donald Trump’s presidency presents an unprecedented threat to democracy.” One of the Democratic lawmakers who explicitly invoked Nazism and Hitler as the proper prism to understand Trump’s rule was House Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Just two months ago, Clyburn went back on CNN and warned that Trump was preparing to hold despotic power even if he loses, pronouncing: “I feel very strongly that he is Mussolini, Putin is Hitler.” Yet when Clyburn learned this week that our modern-day Hitler who is on the precipice of ending democracy had contracted a fatal virus, he did not celebrate but instead, for some reason, lamented the news, wishing “the First Family a speedy and complete recovery.” Why would you possibly wish a speedy recovery — rather than a quick demise — to someone you believe is a Hitler-like perpetrator of genocide whose recovery would enable fascism to continue? That seems counter-intuitive and counter-productive.

MSNBC star Rachel Maddow [..] has notoriously spent the last four years manically obsessed with the claim that Trump has such a corrupt relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin that it is the Kremlin, thanks to Trump, which secretly runs the U.S. and is using that power to plot harm to large numbers of Americans by, for instance, seizing the power to cut off their heat in the dead of winter. Maddow was explicitly linking Trump to classic fascism as early as 2015. Yet upon learning that the fascist, Kremlin-controlled, Nazi-like dictator had become ill, Maddow launched a one-woman crusade demanding that her fellow liberals pray earnestly for his recovery. She first posted an extremely effusive tweet: “God bless the president and the first lady. If you pray, please pray for their speedy and complete recovery…”

[..] Whatever else is true, their behavior upon hearing that someone they claim to regard as a genocidal racist fascist tyrant has contracted a fatal virus is extremely unusual when compared to how people throughout history react when learning of similar news. It is worth interrogating what accounts for such a baffling dynamic.

Read more …

Fireworks.

Supreme Court To Commence New Term On Monday (JTN)

The Supreme Court on Monday will commence a new term with just eight justices following September death of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though the void could soon be filled if Senate Republicans confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court. Barrett’s confirmation would mark the third Trump appointee to the nine-member court during the president’s less than four years occupying the Oval Office. The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 . Though the first vacancy arose during President Barack Obama’s tenure, Senate Republicans declined to consider the Democratic president’s nominee Merrick Garland. Then-candidate Trump made the presidential power to appoint Supreme Court nominees a central argument to voters during the 2016 election.


Barrett’s addition to the court would likely provide a significant conservative advantage, allowing the conservative justices to decide cases 5-4 even if the George W. Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts were to side with the court’s three liberal justices. The new term will get underway remotely as the court continues to conduct business via phone amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it began doing at the conclusion of the last term, according to the Associated Press. The public will be able to to hear arguments live. The wire service reported that the cases during the coming two weeks were slated for last spring but were delayed due to the high court shutting down for a period because of the coronavirus. [..] The Supreme Court could play a key role after the Nov. 3 general election if it decides to hear voting-related cases. A dramatic expansion on short notice of mail-in balloting in this cycle is expected to precipitate a flood of election litigation.

Read more …

“Bezos has seen his net wealth grow by over $73 billion since lockdown began on March 18..”

Amazon Reveals Over 20,000 Employees Likely Contracted COVID (MPN)

It announced the figure in the middle of a public relations statement detailing the measures it was taking to try to keep its employees safe from the virus. The company presented itself as a proactive and responsible business. “As part of this commitment, we’ve decided to publicly share the COVID-19 infection rates among Amazon front-line employees—something few if any companies and no other major retailers have done,” noted its blog post. It also claimed to be carrying out thousands of tests a day on its staff and noted that, despite the large figure of 19,816 cases, that represented a smaller percentage of positive tests than the general population.

However, Amazon did not include any of its third-party delivery contractors in the figures, who number in the many tens of thousands, at least. Nor was there any confirmation on the number of deaths. Amazon also called on other big companies to do as it had done. “We hope sharing this data and our learnings will encourage others to follow, and will prove useful as states make decisions about reopening public facilities and employers consider whether and how to bring people back to work,” they said. “Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries.”

Yet Amazon’s move may not be as bold and forward-thinking as it might first appear. The company had been widely condemned for its secrecy and refusal to release figures. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that half a million of its employees had begun to crowdsource that same information in order to build up a database to keep themselves safer. Employees also condemned the company for keeping them in the dark about co-worker infections and their lack of response to the pandemic, which included crowding hundreds of people into recreation rooms, thereby exposing them to increased risk.

[..] A lack of funds is certainly not an excuse for the online retail giant, whose business has expanded into supermarkets, cloud computing, and streaming services. The company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, became the world’s richest individual late last year, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Bezos has seen his net wealth grow by over $73 billion since lockdown began on March 18 and now stands at over $186 billion. That means that, on average, he has added $370 million to his wealth every day of the pandemic.

Read more …

“The following is an exclusive excerpt from The Russia Lie that tells the amazing story in detail..”

The DNC Hired CrowdStrike To Frame Russia For The Hack (Farnan)

U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe recently declassified information indicating the CIA obtained intelligence in 2016 that the Russians believed the Clinton campaign was trying to falsely associate Russia with the so-called hack of DNC computers. CIA Director John Brennan shared the intelligence with President Obama. They knew, in other words, that the DNC was conducting false Russian flag operation against the Trump campaign. The following is an exclusive excerpt from The Russia Lie that tells the amazing story in detail:

On March 19, 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, surrendered his emails to an unknown entity in a “spear phishing” scam. This has been called a “hack,” but it was not. Instead, it was the sort of flim-flam hustle that happens to gullible dupes on the internet. The content of the emails was beyond embarrassing. They showed election fraud and coordination with the media against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The DNC and the Clinton campaign needed a cover story. Blaming Russia would be a handy way to deal with the Podesta emails. There was already an existing Russia operation that could easily be retrofitted to this purpose. The problem was that it was nearly impossible to identify the perpetrator in a phishing scheme using computer forensic tools. The only way to associate Putin with the emails was circumstantially.

The DNC retained a company that called itself “CrowdStrike” to provide assistance. CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is an anti-Putin, Russian expat and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. With the Atlantic Council in 2016, all roads led to Ukraine. The Atlantic Council’s list of significant contributors includes Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk. The Ukrainian energy company that was paying millions to an entity that was funneling large amounts to Hunter Biden months after he was discharged from the US Navy for drug use, Burisma, also appears prominently on the Atlantic Council’s donor list. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Western puppet installed in Ukraine, visited the Atlantic Council’s Washington offices to make a speech weeks after the coup.

Pinchuk was also a big donor (between $10 million and $20 million) to the Clinton Foundation. Back in ’15, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative piece, “Clinton Charity Tapped Foreign Friends.” The piece was about how Ukraine was attempting to influence Clinton by making huge donations through Pinchuk. Foreign interference, anyone? On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced: “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton . . . We have emails pending publication.” Two days later, CrowdStrike fed the Washington Post a story, headlined, “Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump.” The improbable tale was that the Russians had hacked the DNC computer servers and got away with some opposition research on Trump. The article quoted Alperovitch of CrowdStrike and the Atlantic Council.

Read more …

Like late night comedy refusing the accept the gift the Biden is to their work, the press leave him alone too. It’s the same thing. Journalism it is not.

Joe Biden Defense Of His Son’s Business Deals Conflicts With Evidence (JTN)

During one of the many sharp exchanges at last week’s presidential debate, Joe Biden flat out denied his son Hunter had any business relationship with the Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, the billionaire wife of the late Moscow mayor. “Why is it, just out of curiosity, the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son three and a half million dollars?” President Trump asked during one flash point. “That is not true,” Biden answered. “Oh really, he didn’t get three and a half million?” Trump persisted a few second later. “It’s totally discredited,” the former vice president snapped back. “Totally discredited.” In fact, Biden’s answer directly conflicts with evidence that the U.S. Senate, the FBI and the U.S. Treasury Department have all gathered.

In their most recent investigative report on Ukraine corruption, the Senate Finance and Homeland Security committees disclosed that Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) that the Treasury Department turned over to Senate investigators show a direct link between Hunter Biden and Baturina. “Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow,” the Senate report declared, identifying a firm that the younger Biden and his business partner Devon Archer had created in 2013 as the recipient of the 2014 payment. “On Feb. 14, 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC (Rosemont Seneca Thornton) bank account for a ‘Consultancy Agreement DD12.02.2014.'” the Senate report said. “Rosemont Seneca Thornton is an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden that was incorporated on May 28, 2013 in Wilmington, Del.

According to The Financial Times, Rosemont Seneca Thornton is a consortium that consists of Rosemont Seneca Partners and the Thornton Group, a Massachusetts-based firm.” The consulting payment was not only flagged because of its source. Its timing was also suspicious for its proximity to unfolding events in Eastern Europe. The payment was made four days before the Maidan revolution successfully ousted Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s Russian-friendly president, and less than two weeks before Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces to invade Ukraine’s Crimea region and annex it. The Treasury reports showed 11 more transactions flowing from Baturina to entities tied to Hunter Biden in 2015.

“Between May 6, 2015 and Dec. 8, 2015, Baturina sent 11 wires in the amount of $391,968.21 to a bank account belonging to BAK USA LLC. Nine of the 11 transactions, totaling $241,797.14 were sent from Baturina’s accounts to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton bank account, which then transferred the money to BAK USA,” the Senate report noted.

Read more …

Turkey’s main threat today may well be in Nagorno-Karabach.

Pompeo’s Visit To Greece, Cyprus Prompted By Turkey’s S-400s (K.)

The indications that Turkey activated the radars of its Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems in order to detect US-made Greek F-16 fighter jets on their return from the Eunomia exercise on August 27 off Cyprus apparently sounded the alarm in Washington about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reportedly prompted the visits by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Cyprus on September 12 and Greece on September 27-29. The visits highlight how Ankara’s procurement of the S-400s is irking Washington, which has threatened to impose sanctions if the Russian system is activated. According to reports from a section of the Turkish opposition media, a general test of the S-400 systems is planned by Ankara near Sinop on the Black Sea.


Regardless of the decisions that Ankara will take regarding its air defense, last week’s three-day visit by Pompeo, which took him to Thessaloniki and the Souda base on Crete, was seen as very significant. The permanent mooring of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams at the Souda facility is a strong indication of the US intent to substantially strengthen its presence on the island. The support of a 106,000-ton displacement ship capable of carrying helicopters, UAVs and other systems requires significant changes to the base. The US has been supporting Greece in an ongoing effort since 2016 to further bolster the capabilities of the navy base on Souda.

Read more …

Tulsi has balls.

GOP Reps Join Tulsi Gabbard In Push To Drop US Assange, Snowden Charges (WT)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, has gained support from Republican colleagues in calling for the U.S. government to abandon its criminal cases against Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden. Along with Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, she introduced a resolution Friday urging the U.S. to drop all charges and efforts to extradite Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, joined the Democrat days earlier by co-sponsoring a similar resolution asking the U.S. to drop its case against Mr. Snowden, who is also wanted for leaking. Mr. Assange, who launched the WikiLeaks website in 2006, and Mr. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, each face criminal charges in separate cases related to leaking classified information.


Both men have been charged in federal court in Alexandria, Va., with violating the U.S. Espionage Act, and they face the possibility of hefty prison sentences if put on trial and convicted. Ms. Gabbard, who unsuccessfully sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, argued that Mr. Assange and Mr. Snowden each played a part in exposing government wrongdoing and should be spared. WikiLeaks “published information that exposed lies and abuses of power at the highest levels,” said Ms. Gabbard; Mr. Snowden “bravely expos[ed] massive illegal government surveillance,” she said.

Read more …

 

 

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Failure-proof is achievable; failure-free is not.
– Nassim Taleb

 

 

Assange superpower

 

 

Carl Sagan Are you a socialist?

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time.

 

Oct 092019
 


Vilhelm Hammershoi Woman Seen from the Back 1888

 

White House Says It Will Refuse To Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry (R.)
Oh My God, They Killed CNY! You Bastards (Every)
Powell Says The Fed Will Start Expanding Its Balance Sheet ‘Soon’ (CNBC)
Boris Johnson Facing No-Deal Brexit Cabinet Rebellion (R.)
EU May Offer To Extend Deadline For Brexit Deal To June (G.)
Brexit Is A Necessary Crisis, Reveals Britain’s True Place In The World (G.)
Time To Reassess CrowdStrike’s Credibility (Kelly)
Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Expands Lawsuit Against Estate, Alleged Enablers (R.)
Refugee Explosion “Greater” Than 2015 To Hit Europe – German Minister (ZH)

 

 

Tried hard to find a nonpartial view, but that just gets harder all the time.

White House Says It Will Refuse To Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry (R.)

The White House said on Tuesday it would refuse to cooperate with an “illegitimate, unconstitutional” congressional impeachment inquiry, setting Republican President Donald Trump on a collision course with the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. Hours after the administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from testifying to congressional panels, White House lawyer Pat Cipollone criticized the decision by lawmakers to proceed with an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote. “You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” he said, adding House Democrats had left Trump “no choice.”


“To fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” he said. [..] White House lawyer Cipollone described the probe as “a naked political strategy” that violated Trump’s due process rights and was designed to reverse the 2016 presidential election and influence the November 2020 election. “Your transparent rush to judgment, lack of democratically accountable authorization, and violation of basic rights in the current proceedings make clear the illegitimate, partisan purpose” of the inquiry, he said.

Read more …

Brilliant both from Michael Every of Rabobank and the South Park crew.

“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”

Oh My God, They Killed CNY! You Bastards (Every)

”The upcoming ‘Top Gun 2’ stars Tom Cruise, still trying to look like he did in the 1980s, but no longer able to do all his own stunts: which is just like US foreign policy “ [..] the most honest commentary on where we now stand under globalisation comes not from the eschatological of intellectuals or politicians telling us democracy is under threat and free trade is great, not spotting Marxist and populist criticism that the two are linked; instead it comes from the scatology of ‘South Park’.[..] the most honest commentary on where we now stand under globalisation comes not from the eschatological of intellectuals or politicians telling us democracy is under threat and free trade is great, not spotting Marxist and populist criticism that the two are linked; instead it comes from the scatology of ‘South Park’


So is the US flailing or retreating like the Romans? No. It is focusing on its mighty financial weapons and physically fighting where it can achieve what matters most…if one is not thinking about Iran, but China. As Trump underlined: “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.” Where does it benefit most fighting, globally? Three guesses… The greatest likelihood is still that if Trump gets past his latest tipping point then at some (tipping) point soon markets are going to cry “Oh my God, they killed CNY!” as the Chinese currency collapses.

Read more …

As Big As Japan.

Powell Says The Fed Will Start Expanding Its Balance Sheet ‘Soon’ (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve will soon start growing its balance sheet again, a response in part to the jolt to overnight lending markets in September, Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday. How the Fed will go about expanding the securities it holds will be explained in the coming days, though Treasury bill purchases will be involved, the central bank chief said during a speech in Denver, though Powell stressed the approach shouldn’t be confused with the quantitative easing done during and after the financial crisis. “This is not QE. In no sense is this QE,” he said in a question and answer session after the speech.


On monetary policy more broadly, Powell stuck to his recent script: He and his fellow policymakers view the economy as being strong but susceptible to shocks, particularly from a global slowdown, trade and geopolitics like a potentially messy Brexit. He said the Fed stands committed to supporting the recovery but is data dependent and not on a preset course of cutting rates. The Fed has reduced its benchmark rate twice in 2019 and is expected to approve a third cut late this month.

Read more …

The EU likes this.

Boris Johnson Facing No-Deal Brexit Cabinet Rebellion (R.)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a new rebellion from his cabinet over concerns of a no-deal Brexit, with a group of cabinet ministers poised to resign, The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday. Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, British Minister for Northern Ireland Julian Smith, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Health Minister Matt Hancock and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list”, according to The Times report An unnamed cabinet minister cited by the newspaper said that a “very large number” of Conservative members of parliament will quit if it comes to a no-deal Brexit.


The Times said that ministers had warned Johnson in a cabinet meeting about the “grave” risk of the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland and raised concerns about Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser. “Cabinet will set the strategy, not unelected officials. If this is an attempt to do that then it will fail”, the report quoted another cabinet minister as saying. The report comes as the European Union accused Britain of playing a “stupid blame game” over Brexit after a Downing Street source told Reuters a deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands.

Read more …

“What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game,” Tusk wrote in a tweet directed at the prime minister.”

EU May Offer To Extend Deadline For Brexit Deal To June (G.)

The European Union is poised to extend Brexit talks into as late as next summer after the European council and commission presidents dismissed Boris Johnson’s strategy as a “blame game”. A “range of dates” will now be in play at the meeting of European leaders next week but sources suggested the natural cut-off date would be June. With an extension of the UK’s EU membership now looking inevitable, other diplomatic sources suggested an unlikely outlier for an end date could even be ahead of a possible general election so as to force the Commons into accepting a deal. “But politicians like to keep things off their plates for as long as possible and so pushing it longer seems more realistic,” a senior EU diplomat said.

The negotiations over a deal are said to be effectively dead in Brussels after Downing Street’s extraordinary claims over the substance of a phone call between the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the UK prime minister. Merkel was said by an unnamed UK source to have told Johnson that Northern Ireland had to stay in the EU’s customs union. The official claimed that as a consequence a deal looked “essentially impossible, not just now but ever”. Tusk, the European council president, gave an insight into the frustration at the anonymous briefings over the Merkel call, the alleged content of which described by senior politicians in Berlin as “improbable”. The chancellor’s spokesman declined to comment on “confidential conversations”.


“What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game,” Tusk wrote in a tweet directed at the prime minister. “At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke. Quo vadis? [Where are you going?]” [..] In Berlin Detlef Seif, the point person on Brexit for Merkel’s party, the CDU, rejected the account given by Downing Street of the call between the two leaders. He said: “In my mind it is completely improbable that the phone call between Merkel and Johnson took place in the way it has been reported in the British media. “It would run counter to all the principles the German government has followed for the last three years, namely that the negotiations are led by the European commission.

Read more …

“It brings to light, in stunning clarity, Brexiters’ deluded political understanding of the UK’s place in the world.”

“..without it we will remain stuck in the delusional, revivalist politics of a banana monarchy.”

Brexit Is A Necessary Crisis, Reveals Britain’s True Place In The World (G.)

Today much of the capital in Britain is not British and not linked to the Conservative party – where for most of the 20th century things looked very different. Once, great capitalists with national, imperial and global interests sat in the Commons and the Lords as Liberals or Conservatives. Between the wars, the Conservatives emerged as the one party of capital, led by great British manufacturers such as Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain. The Commons and the Lords were soon fuller than ever of Tory businessmen, from the owner of Meccano toys to that of Lyons Corner Houses.

After the second world war, such captains of industry avoided the Commons, but the Conservative party was without question the party of capital and property, one which stood against the party of organised labour. Furthermore, the Tories represented an increasingly national capitalism, protected by import controls, and closely tied to an interventionist and technocratic state that wanted to increase exports of British designed and made goods. A company like Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) saw itself, and indeed was, a national champion. British industry, public and private, was a national enterprise.

Since the 1970s things have changed radically. Today there is no such thing as British national capitalism. London is a place where world capitalism does business – no longer one where British capitalism does the world’s business. Everywhere in the UK there are foreign-owned enterprises, many of them nationalised industries, building nuclear reactors and running train services from overseas. When the car industry speaks, it is not as British industry but as foreign enterprise in the UK. The same is true of many of the major manufacturing sectors – from civil aircraft to electrical engineering – and of infrastructure. Whatever the interests of foreign capital, they are not expressed through a national political party. Most of these foreign-owned businesses, not surprisingly, are hostile to Brexit.


[..] Brexit is a necessary crisis, and has provided a long overdue audit of British realities. It exposes the nature of the economy, the new relations of capitalism to politics and the weakness of the state. It brings to light, in stunning clarity, Brexiters’ deluded political understanding of the UK’s place in the world. From a new understanding, a new politics of national improvement might come; without it we will remain stuck in the delusional, revivalist politics of a banana monarchy.

Read more …

High time. But is asking questions about CrowdStrike impeachable?

Time To Reassess CrowdStrike’s Credibility (Kelly)

Days before the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh last year, a former FBI assistant director appeared on MSNBC to suggest the Supreme Court nominee had a major credibility problem. “This is not…an investigation about the sexual allegations, I think it really has moved toward credibility,” Shawn Henry, an NBC News analyst, told Nicolle Wallace on October 1, 2018. “At this point now, there are very clear allegations, and subsequent to the judge’s testimony, people have come out who appear to be credible who…appear to be contradicting his testimony sworn before the United States Senate.” Henry, clearly reciting Democratic talking points to imply Kavanaugh perjured himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his September showdown with Christine Blasey Ford, also referred to Ford as a “victim” and claimed that the FBI’s investigation into Kavanaugh’s testimony had “fallen short.”

Henry was presented to viewers as the channel’s “national security analyst,” but there was one title the network overlooked: Shawn Henry is a top executive for CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate the infamous hack of its email system in early 2016. Perhaps not coincidentally, the firm determined that the Russians were behind the intrusion. CrowdStrike’s June 2016 assessment remains the sole source of evidence to supply the pretext of the government’s Russian election interference claim; later, it would help bolster the Trump-Russia collusion fable. [..] Henry, the president of CrowdStrike’s Washington operation, is a regular contributor to both MSNBC and NBC News programs. (His affiliation with CrowdStrike, however, is never mentioned.)

Although he hasn’t worked for the FBI since 2012, Henry often weighs in as an FBI “expert,” opining on a variety of political issues from government shutdowns to the Kavanaugh debacle. Curiously, his views always come down on the side opposite of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. In March 2017, Henry—who worked for Robert Mueller’s FBI during Barack Obama’s first term—participated in a post-inauguration forum to discuss the implications of Russia’s “hacking” the 2016 presidential election. The panel also featured former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and Marc Elias, the general partner at Perkins Coie, a politically-influential law firm based in D.C.. It was a symbolic trio. Perkins Coie hired CrowdStrike in the spring of 2016 on behalf of the DNC.


Instead of going directly to the FBI or other law enforcement agency about the breach, Democratic party leaders, working through Perkins Coie, retained CrowdStrike to find the culprits. Very cozy. But that wasn’t Perkins Coie’s only involvement in the Russia-hacked-the-election plotline. The law firm also hired Fusion GPS—who in turn hired British political operative Christopher Steele to author his infamous dossier—on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC around the same time Perkins retained CrowdStrike. According to disclosure reports, the DNC paid Perkins Coie $7.2 million during the 2016 election cycle: The PAC also paid CrowdStrike more than $400,000 during the same time period. (The DNC has paid CrowdStrike nearly $80,000 so far this year.)

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#I’mWithHer.

Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Expands Lawsuit Against Estate, Alleged Enablers (R.)

A New York woman who said Jeffrey Epstein began grooming her for sex when she was 14 and later raped her expanded her lawsuit against his estate, naming several women who allegedly enabled the financier’s abuses and seeking to block the estate from shielding his assets from victims. In her amended complaint filed on Tuesday, Jennifer Araoz accused four women by name who once worked with Epstein of misconduct, and added more than 20 corporate defendants associated with the late financier. Araoz, 32, wants “justice not just against Mr. Epstein’s estate, but the network of enablers that surrounded him, and the network of corporate interests that surrounded him,” her lawyer Daniel Kaiser told reporters on a conference call.

“Every penny of his estate should be available to satisfy the claims of victims,” he added. Epstein, 66, died by hanging himself in his Manhattan jail cell on Aug. 10, two days after signing a will and putting his estimated $577 million estate into a trust. Kaiser said it would be obvious to any judge that this was a fraudulent effort to keep his money away from victims. The four women include Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime confidante; Lesley Groff, a former secretary; Cimberly Espinosa, a former executive assistant; and Rosalyn Fontanilla, a former maid who died in October 2016. All but Fontanilla are named as defendants.


Araoz accused the defendants of conspiring to identify and procure a steady stream of underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. The defendants “participated with and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting his sex trafficking ring, ensuring that approximately three girls a day were made available to him for his sexual pleasure,” the amended complaint said.

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It’s already started.

Refugee Explosion “Greater” Than 2015 To Hit Europe – German Minister (ZH)

The German government is warning that a number of indicators suggest Europe could be on the brink of witnessing a new refugee crisis explode on its borders. Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said early this week that refugees and migrants are set to flood Europe on a scale even bigger that the peak of the 2015 crisis. “We must do more to help our European partners with controls on the EU external borders. We have left them alone for too long,” he told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper after returning from a visit to Greece and Turkey, where he inspected the renewed refugee crisis first hand. “If we do not do that we will once again face a refugee wave like in 2015 or maybe even greater,” Seehofer warned ominously.

Seehofer further said that if the EU doesn’t unite to find “strength to solve this problem problem” it faces total “loss of control” if and when the next major crisis hits. At the height of the crisis three years ago, which was driven by the vastly destabilizing wars in Syria and Libya, and by the turmoil left in the wake of the Islamic State caliphate in western Iraq, there were near weekly mass drownings and accidents involving migrants attempting to traverse the Mediterranean, as well as fires and unrest at makeshift refugee camps in France and Greece. It further created turmoil in the domestic politics of multiple EU countries, with a number of right-wing populist figures and parties coming to power on anti-illegal immigration platforms.


And now, with Turkey on the brink of a major military incursion into northeast Syria, the Middle East is about to witness a major new conflagration resulting in potentially millions of new refugees being pushed out of the Turkey-Syria border region. Coupled with that, Turkey’s President Erdogan recently threatened to release one million refugees on Europe if he can’t have his so-called ‘safe zone’ which is to reach some 30km deep (19 miles) inside Syrian territory. He threatened early last month: “We will be forced to open the gates. We cannot be forced to handle the burden alone,” while demanding that European countries give political support to the controversial plan that would end in annexing UN member Syria’s sovereign territory.

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Jun 182019
 


Winslow Homer Camping in the Adirondacks (Wood engraving) 1874

 

China Warns US Against Opening Mideast ‘Pandora’s Box’ (CNA)
UN Officials: US Planning A ‘Tactical Assault’ In Iran (JPost)
The Coming Show Trial of Julian Assange (Chris Hedges)
Assange Judge Refuses To Recuse Herself Despite Evidence Of Bias (Can.)
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice (CP)
FBI Never Saw CrowdStrike Unredacted or Final Report (McGovern)
Deep State Players Lash Out At Trump (Noble)
Swelling US Corporate Debt Raises Risk Of Global Financial Meltdown (Nikkei)
Who Bought the $1 Trillion of New US Government Debt Over The Past Year? (WS)
How Japan Turned Against Its ‘Bazooka’-Wielding Central Bank Chief (R.)
Boeing’s 737 MAX Name Change (F.)
Investors Demand Higher Premiums For Risky Australian Mortgage Bonds (R.)
Fiscal Money Can Make or Break the Euro (Varoufakis)

 

 

That is a better term than just about everyone realizes.

China Warns US Against Opening Mideast ‘Pandora’s Box’ (CNA)

China on Tuesday (Jun 18) warned against opening a “Pandora’s box” in the Middle East after the United States announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region amid escalating tensions with Iran. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also urged Tehran to not abandon the nuclear agreement “so easily” after Iran said it would exceed its uranium stockpile limit if world powers fail to fulfil their commitments under the agreement in 10 days. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two tankers were attacked. The United States has blamed Iran, more than a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal.


Iran has denied having any role in the attacks. The Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang told reporters at a briefing that China was “of course, very concerned” about the situation in the Gulf, and called on all sides to ease tension and not head towards a clash. “We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said. “In particular, the US side should alter its extreme pressure methods. Any unilateral behaviour has no basis in international law,” Wang said, warning that it could create “an even greater crisis”.

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I have my questions about this Jerusalem Post article, but they did publish it.

UN Officials: US Planning A ‘Tactical Assault’ In Iran (JPost)

Is the US going to attack Iran soon? Diplomatic sources at the UN headquarters in New York revealed to Maariv that they are assessing the United States’ plans to carry out a tactical assault on Iran in response to the tanker attack in the Persian Gulf on Thursday. According to the officials, since Friday, the White House has been holding incessant discussions involving senior military commanders, Pentagon representatives and advisers to President Donald Trump. The military action under consideration would be an aerial bombardment of an Iranian facility linked to its nuclear program, the officials further claimed. “The bombing will be massive but will be limited to a specific target,” said a Western diplomat.


The decision to carry out military action against Iran was discussed in the White House before the latest report that Iran might increase the level of uranium enrichment. The officials also noted that the United States plans to reinforce its military presence in the Middle East, and in the coming days will also send additional soldiers to the area. The sources added that President Trump himself was not enthusiastic about a military move against Iran, but lost his patience on the matter and would grant Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is pushing for action, what he wants.

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“We know what will be done to Assange. It has been done to thousands of those we kidnapped and then detained in black sites around the world.”

The Coming Show Trial of Julian Assange (Chris Hedges)

On Friday morning I was in a small courtroom at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Julian Assange, held in Belmarsh Prison and dressed in a pale-blue prison shirt, appeared on a video screen directly in front of me. Assange, his gray hair and beard neatly trimmed, slipped on heavy, dark-frame glasses at the start of the proceedings. He listened intently as Ben Brandon, the prosecutor, seated at a narrow wooden table, listed the crimes he allegedly had committed and called for his extradition to the United States to face charges that could result in a sentence of 175 years. The charges include the release of unredacted classified material that posed a “grave” threat to “human intelligence sources” and “the largest compromises of confidential information in the history of the United States.” After the prosecutor’s presentation, Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, seated at the same table, called the charges “an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights.”

The publication of classified documents is not a crime in the United States, but if Assange is extradited and convicted it will become one. Assange is not an American citizen. WikiLeaks, which he founded and publishes, is not a U.S.-based publication. The message the U.S. government is sending is clear: No matter who or where you are, if you expose the inner workings of empire you will be hunted down, kidnapped and brought to the United States to be tried as a spy. The extradition and trial of Assange will mean the end of public investigations by the press into the crimes of the ruling elites. It will cement into place a frightening corporate tyranny. Publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian, which devoted pages to the WikiLeaks revelations and later amplified and legitimized Washington’s carefully orchestrated character assassination of Assange, are no less panicked. This is the gravest assault on press freedom in my lifetime.

[..] We know what will be done to Assange. It has been done to thousands of those we kidnapped and then detained in black sites around the world. Sadistic and scientific techniques of torture will be used in an attempt to make him a zombie. Assange, in declining health, was transferred two weeks ago to the hospital wing of the prison. Because he was medically unable to participate when the hearing was initially to be held, May 30, the proceeding was reset. Friday’s hearing, in which he appeared frail and spoke hesitantly, although lucidly, set the timetable for his extradition trial, scheduled to take place at the end of February. All totalitarian states seek to break their political prisoners to render them compliant. This process will define Assange’s existence over the next few months.

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“her husband had been exposed by WikiLeaks”

Assange Judge Refuses To Recuse Herself Despite Evidence Of Bias (Can.)

UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer told US journalist Chris Hedges that Lady Arbuthnot “has a strong conflict of interest” and that “her husband had been exposed by WikiLeaks”. Hedges adds that Assange’s lawyers have asked the judge “to recuse herself”, but that “she has refused”. However, Lady Arbuthnot was forced to recuse herself in August 2018 after an investigation by the Observer into her husband’s business dealings with Uber. The judge ruled in favour of Uber but stepped down from the case when it was shown that SC Strategy’s client the QIA had taken a stake in Uber.


And there are other precedents. For example, retired high court judge Lady Butler-Sloss was forced to resign as chair of the panel tasked with examining allegations of child abuse within institutions. This was after she admitted to a family conflict of interest (Sir Michael Havers, her brother, was attorney-general during the period when most of the alleged abuse occurred). Given the evidence relating to her family background, it may be time for Lady Arbuthnot to recuse herself once more, and for the extradition proceedings to be halted.

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Did the US overplay its hand?: “Each of Assange’s possible defences are strengthened by the 17 counts of espionage”

Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice (CP)

Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, is certain that the Wikileaks publisher will suffer grave mistreatment if extradited to the United States. “The British government must not accede to the US extradition request for Julian Assange as he faces a real risk of serious human right violations if sent there.” This will further add substance to the potential breach of Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention, a point reiterated by Agnes Callamard, Special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions. Ecuador, she argues, permitted Assange to be expelled and arrested by the UK, taking him a step closer to extradition to the US which would expose him to “serious human rights violations.” The UK had “arbitrary [sic] detained Mr Assange possibly endangering his life for the last 7 years.”

On May 31, Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, concluded after visiting Assange in detention that the publisher’s isolation and repeated belittling constituted “progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.” The issue of Assange’s failing health is critical. An important feature of his legal team’s argument is the role played by the UK authorities in ensuring his decline in physical and mental terms. The argument in rebuttal, disingenuous as it was, never deviated: you will get treatment as long as you step out of the Ecuadorean embassy.

There is also another dimension which the distracted Javid failed to articulate: the sheer political character of the offences Assange is being accused of. Espionage is a political offence par excellence, and the UK-US extradition treaty, for all its faults, retains under Article 4 the prohibition against extraditing someone accused of political offences, including espionage, sedition, and treason. As John T. Nelson notes in Just Security, “Each of Assange’s possible defences are strengthened by the 17 counts of espionage”.

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They never finished the report.

FBI Never Saw CrowdStrike Unredacted or Final Report (McGovern)

CrowdStrike, the controversial cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee chose over the FBI in 2016 to examine its compromised computer servers, never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, the Justice Department has admitted. The revelation came in a court filing by the government in the pre-trial phase of Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative who had an unofficial role in the campaign of candidate Donald Trump. Stone has been charged with misleading Congress, obstructing justice and intimidating a witness. The filing was in response to a motion by Stone’s lawyers asking for “unredacted reports” from CrowdStrike in an effort to get the government to prove that Russia hacked the DNC server.

“The government … does not possess the information the defandant seeks,” the filing says. In his motion, Stone’s lawyers said he had only been given three redacted drafts. In a startling footnote in the government’s response, the DOJ admits the drafts are all that exist. “Although the reports produced to the defendant are marked ‘draft,’ counsel for the DNC and DCCC informed the government that they are the last version of the report produced,” the footnote says. In other words CrowdStrike, upon which the FBI relied to conclude that Russia hacked the DNC, never completed a final report and only turned over three redacted drafts to the government. These drafts were “voluntarily” given to the FBI by DNC lawyers, the filing says.

“No redacted information concerned the attribution of the attack to Russian actors,” the filing quotes DNC lawyers as saying. In Stone’s motion his lawyers argued: “If the Russian state did not hack the DNC, DCCC, or [Clinton campaign chairman John] Podesta’s servers, then Roger Stone was prosecuted for obstructing a congressional investigation into an unproven Russian state hacking conspiracy … The issue of whether or not the DNC was hacked is central to the Defendant’s defense.” The DOJ responded: “The government does not need to prove at the defendant’s trial that the Russians hacked the DNC in order to prove the defendant made false statements, tampered with a witness, and obstructed justice into a congressional investigation regarding election interference.”

At a time of high tension in the 2016 presidential campaign, when the late Sen. John McCain and others were calling Russian “hacking” an “act of war,” the FBI settled for three redacted “draft reports” from CrowdStrike rather than investigate the alleged hacking itself, the court document shows. Then FBI Director James Comey admitted in congressional testimony that he chose not to take control of the DNC’s “hacked” computers, and did not dispatch FBI computer experts to inspect them, but has had trouble explaining why. In his testimony, he conceded that “best practices” would have dictated that forensic experts gain physical access to the computers. Nevertheless, the FBI decided to rely on forensics performed by a firm being paid for by the DNC.

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Hmmm: “For a campaign to hire a law firm, an American law firm who then turns around and hires an American research company that then contracts out with a foreign individual, that is not illegal.”

Deep State Players Lash Out At Trump (Noble)

When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether his son, Donald Trump Jr., should have contacted the FBI after being invited in 2016 to meet with a Russian national who allegedly offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, the president answered, “Give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.” The ensuing exchange led Stephanopoulos to ask the president: “Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?” Trump responded that, perhaps, the person in question should do both; look at the information being offered and notify the FBI. Stephanopoulos suggested this amounts to foreign interference in an American election, to which Trump responded: “It’s not an interference [sic]. They have information – I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI – if I thought there was something wrong.”

The wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed this interview prompted the anti-Trump cable networks to bring in two men who were embroiled in the Russia collusion hoax. One of these men, Andrew McCabe, was fired from the FBI and is fortunate not to have yet been charged with multiple counts of lying to federal investigators. The other is hysterical Trump critic Brennan, who is almost certainly a subject of the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the genesis of the Russia collusion conspiracy theory. McCabe feigned horror at the idea that the president would be open to receiving information on a potential election opponent from a foreign source.

At the same time, however, he dismissed the idea that the Hillary Clinton campaign had done anything wrong in 2016 when it paid for Russian-sourced and unverified information to use against Trump. When asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo about a possible analogy between the two situations, the former FBI official said: “There’s no equivalence between those two examples … For a campaign to hire a law firm, an American law firm who then turns around and hires an American research company that then contracts out with a foreign individual, that is not illegal.”

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Credit is cyclical.

Swelling US Corporate Debt Raises Risk Of Global Financial Meltdown (Nikkei)

Surging U.S. business debt, already at historic levels, is posing a potentially huge risk for the global financial system and the world economy, raising concerns among market players and policymakers. Experts are growing increasingly uneasy about both the quality and quantity of debt in the U.S. corporate sector as the amount of loans to borrowers with lower credit ratings and already high levels of debt is increasing. A newly created index shows corporate debt levels are now even higher than before the dot-com bubble or the global financial crisis triggered by the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Some experts warn that the ticking debt bomb in the U.S. corporate sector could eventually explode, triggering a new global financial meltdown. In a speech delivered on May 20, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sounded the alarm about rising levels of business debt, although he dismissed comparisons between the current situation and the conditions in U.S. mortgage markets before the financial crisis. Views about the risks from rising corporate borrowing “range from ‘This is a return to the subprime-mortgage crisis’ to ‘Nothing to worry about here,'” Powell said. “At the moment, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.”

One important concept for understanding the implications of corporate America’s borrowing binge for the financial system and the world economy is the credit cycle — the cyclical expansion and contraction of access to credit over time. Many policymakers and market players are beginning to fear that the U.S. corporate credit cycle is approaching its peak and will soon enter a phase of contraction.

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“.. Investors, mostly US institutional and individual investors but also some foreign investors, have gone nuts over it..”

Who Bought the $1 Trillion of New US Government Debt Over The Past Year? (WS)

The US gross national debt soared by $960 billion over the 12-month period through April. Over the same period, all foreign investors combined increased their holdings by $253 billion. This leaves $707 billion that someone else must have bought. Who? Nope, not the Fed. It shed $271 billion in Treasury securities over the 12 months as part of its QE unwind, bringing its holdings down to $2.12 trillion by the end of April. US government entities piled on $102 billion in Treasury securities over the 12 months, bringing their total to $5.83 trillion. This “debt held internally” is held by government pension and disability funds, the Social Security Trust Fund, etc., that have invested their beneficiaries’ money in Treasury securities, rather than stocks or other instruments.

This “debt held internally” is owed the beneficiaries of those funds and is a real debt of the US government. To summarize: Over the 12 months, foreign investors added $253 billion; the Fed got rid of $271 billion; and US government funds acquired $102 billion. All three combined, accounted for a net increase of Treasury holdings of $84 billion. But the total gross national debt soared by $960 billion over the same period. Someone must have bought the remaining $876 billion. But who? The only one left… American institutions and individuals added $876 billion of Treasuries to their holdings, bringing them to $7.64 trillion.


US banks held nearly $500 billion of them, according to the FDIC. Other US institutional holders include pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, corporations such as Apple, and others. Individuals also hold a portion of these Treasury securities, either indirectly via bond funds or pension funds, or directly via their brokers or at Treasury. All combined, American institutions and individuals held 34.7% of the US gross national debt. Ironically, there is no shortage of demand for this debt – despite the charade of the debt-ceiling-default threat hanging over it. On the contrary. Investors, mostly US institutional and individual investors but also some foreign investors, have gone nuts over it, bidding up prices and thereby pushing down yields, with the 10-year yield today settling at 2.09%.

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Kuroda’s as clueless and delusional as Draghi and Powell.

How Japan Turned Against Its ‘Bazooka’-Wielding Central Bank Chief (R.)

Convincing skeptics on the board to embrace negative rates wasn’t easy, according to previously unreported accounts of the events on that fateful night. The policy had been studied for years in Japan but shunned as too controversial. On the brown-carpeted eighth floor of the BOJ building, bank bureaucrats visited the offices of swing voters on the board to make the case. A dashboard on the eighth floor lights up in red to show whenever a board member has visitors. That night, the lights stayed on “for hours and hours for some of them,” one person said. “You could see there was heavy lobbying going on.”

The shift to negative rates carried by a narrow 5-4 vote. Almost immediately, it was clear within the BOJ that the move was a mistake. It crushed long-term interest rates, didn’t weaken the yen as hoped and angered commercial bankers, who felt blindsided by a policy that crimped their profits. In retrospect, the move marked the death knell of “Kuroda-nomics,” as the governor’s plan for reflating the Japanese economy became known. In the most detailed account of these efforts, reported here, BOJ technocrats went to work tip-toeing back Kuroda’s radical program.

Three years on, there is a broad consensus that Japan’s experiment in shock-and-awe monetary policy has failed. An intense debate is under way within the BOJ over why Kuroda’s assumptions about how he could fundamentally change the trajectory of the economy proved wrong and what the bank’s next steps should be. The picture that emerges is of a central bank under pressure and at a moment of reckoning.

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Yeah, that will work…

Boeing’s 737 MAX Name Change (F.)

Boeing doesn’t have any immediate plans to rename its embattled 737 MAX aircraft despite CFO Greg Smith saying he was open to the idea earlier Monday. In an interview with Bloomberg at the Paris airshow, Smith said, “We’re committed to doing what we need to do to restore it. If that means changing the brand to restore it, then we’ll address that.” After the interview, the company told Reuters it isn’t currently working on a name change at the moment. “Our immediate focus is the safe return of the Max to service and re-earning the trust of airlines and the traveling public. We remain open minded to all input from customers and other stakeholders, but have no plans at this time to change the name of the 737 MAX,” said Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman.


The idea for a name change comes from President Donald Trump, who weighed in on Boeing’s myriad safety and public relations issues in March. “What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President!), but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name,” he tweeted. All 737s are still grounded: All 371 Boeing 737 MAX planes were grounded worldwide in March following two deadly crashes that claimed 346 lives. Investigators are focusing on design flaws in a component of the plane’s automated flight controls called the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, or MCAS. Boeing said last month that it has completed the software update necessary to address the aircraft’s safety issues, but the Federal Aviation Administration still has to approve the change.

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Not a good sign.

Investors Demand Higher Premiums For Risky Australian Mortgage Bonds (R.)

Investors in Australian mortgage bonds are demanding higher premiums to buy the riskiest tranches of new debt, as a slowing economy stokes concerns a property downturn could get worse and increase home loan defaults. High-yield investors are receiving up to 40 basis points more than they were last year to buy the lower-rated and unrated portions, according to an analysis of recent deals by large lenders including AMP, National Australia Bank and Members Equity Bank. That marks an important shift from a near decade-long run of relatively stable spreads for the lower-rated residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS), as the previously red-hot property prices have turned sharply lower, particularly in the major Sydney and Melbourne markets.


“When you are looking at those lower unrated tranches, they are deteriorating as one would expect at the late stage of the [property] cycle,” said George Boubouras, chief investment officer at Atlas Capital. “We see them as a leading indicator of risk, and they have been getting riskier.” Home prices in Australia’s heavily populated eastern states have fallen rapidly since late-2017 due to souring economic conditions, pushing problem home loans to their highest level since the aftermath of the global financial crisis, according to Standard & Poor’s.

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Varoufakis explains the difference between his plans and those of Salvini. Not the easiest topic, but interesting.

Fiscal Money Can Make or Break the Euro (Varoufakis)

It’s a curious feeling to watch your plan being deployed to do the opposite of what you intended. And that’s the feeling I’ve had since learning that Italy’s government is planning a variant of the fiscal money that I proposed for Greece in 2015. My idea was to establish a tax-backed digital payment system to create fiscal space in eurozone countries that needed it, like Greece and Italy. The Italian plan, by contrast, would use a parallel payment system to break up the eurozone. Under my proposal, each tax file number, belonging to individuals or firms, would be automatically provided with a Treasury Account (TA) and a PIN number with which to transfer funds from one TA to another, or back to the state.

One way TAs would be credited was by paying arrears into them. Taxpayers owed money by the state could opt for part or all of those arrears to be paid into their TA immediately, instead of waiting for months to be paid normally. That way, multiple arrears could be eliminated at once, thus liberating liquidity across the economy. For example, suppose Company A is owed €1 million ($1.1 million) by the state, while owing €30,000 to an employee and another €500,000 to Company B. Suppose also that the employee and Company B owe, respectively, €10,000 and €200,000 in taxes to the state. If the €1 million is credited by the state to Company A’s TA, and Company A pays the employee and Company B via the system, the latter will be able to settle their tax arrears. At least €740,000 in arrears will have been eliminated in one fell swoop.

Individuals or firms could also acquire TA credits by purchasing them directly, via web-banking, from the state. The state would make it worth their while by offering buyers significant tax discounts (a €1 credit purchased today could extinguish taxes of, say, €1.10 a year from now). In essence, a new dis-intermediated (middlemen-free) public debt market would emerge, allowing the state to borrow small, medium, and large sums from the private sector in exchange for tax discounts. When I first discussed the idea, staunch defenders of the status quo immediately challenged the legality of the proposed system, arguing that it violated the treaties establishing the euro as the sole legal tender. Expert advice that I had received, however, indicated that the system passed legal muster. A eurozone member state’s treasury has the authority to issue debt instruments at will, and to accept them in lieu of taxes.

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