May 072022
 
 May 7, 2022  Posted by at 9:27 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Crucifixion 1930

 

Pfizer’s New 80,000-Page Data Dump Is A Nightmare
Biden Handing Over US Sovereignty to WHO (AOLoud)
Army Lieutenant Convicted, Not Punished in 1st COVID Court-Martial (CHD)
Choice Quotes from Bill Gates’s New Book (Tucker)
Elon Musk Plans To Fire 1,000 Twitter Staff, Quintuple Revenue (DM)
Job Interest In Twitter Up 250% Since Elon Musk Moved To Take Over (Fortune)
Terror from Balochistan (Escobar)
Nausea Rules (Kunstler)
How Years of Attacks on the Court Created a “By Any Means” Mentality (Turley)
Zelensky Critic Arrested in Spain on Orders of Ukrainian Government (SN)
Jan. 6: 80 ‘Suspicious Actors’ and ‘Material Witnesses’ Under Scrutiny (ET)
Ex-FBI Intel Chief: Clinton Campaign Used ‘Contrived Disinformation’ (JTN)
Claim Russians Hacked The DNC Could Have Relied On ‘Spoofed’ Data (Fed.)
The Whole Planet Is a Pot And We’re All Frogs (Ugo Bardi)

 

 

 

 

Disinformation Governance Board

 

 

Rand Paul

 

 

 

 

“There were no human clinical trials to determine if the experimental COVID vaccines were safe for pregnant women. They were excluded from all the trials. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Instead, they tested it on 44 rats.”

Pfizer’s New 80,000-Page Data Dump Is A Nightmare

You probably didn’t know that Pfizer dumped 80,000 pages of documents this week. That’s because the American corporate media refused to cover it — and that’s because almost all of them took money from the Biden regime to promote the experimental vaccines and kill any critical coverage of them. Anyway, it turns out that Pfizer’s COVID vaccine was not 95% effective: the data shows it has a 12% efficacy rate. Let me repeat: 12%. That’s a “1” followed by a “2.” But wait: it gets worse. There were no human clinical trials to determine if the experimental COVID vaccines were safe for pregnant women. They were excluded from all the trials. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Instead, they tested it on 44 rats.

Pfizer deliberately cut off the clinical data trial before the bad news could be collected. We already know that Pfizer vaccine’s RNA is reverse-transcribing itself into your DNA. We already know that the vaccines increased the risk of getting COVID in children, the CDC intentionally withheld clinical data from the public, and a Moderna gene sequence patented in 2017 was found in the COVID virus spike protein. Pregnant women in the U.S. military who were coerced into taking the jab have suffered horrific side effects and “congenital malformations” in their babies. There were more than 18,900 babies born with abnormalities in 2021. We know this because a few brave whistleblowers got their hands on the Deparment of Defense’s medical database.

More than 18,900 babies. Just think about that. There’s much more news to come out about the COVID vaccines — and all of it is bad. For example, doctors around the world are starting to notice an explosion in the cancer rates among the vaccinated. [..] Let me finish with this thought: perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to re-program the DNA of half the world to produce spike proteins to “fight” a virus with a 99% survival rate?

Pfizer Naomi Wolf

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This is too insane.

Biden Handing Over US Sovereignty to WHO (AOLoud)

On May 22-28, 2022, ultimate control over America’s healthcare system, and hence its national sovereignty, will be delivered for a vote to the World Health Organization’s governing legislative body, the World Health Assembly (WHA). This threat is contained in new amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations, proposed by the Biden administration, that are scheduled as “Provisional agenda item 16.2” at the upcoming conference on May 22-28, 2022. These amendments will empower WHO’s Director-General to declare health emergencies or crises in any nation and to do so unilaterally and against the opposition of the target nation.

The Director-General will be able to declare these health crises based merely on his personal opinion or consideration that there is a potential or possible threat to other nations. If passed, the Biden Administration’s proposed amendments will, by their very existence and their intention, drastically compromise the independence and the sovereignty of the United States. The same threat looms over all the U.N.’s 193 member nations, all of whom belong to WHO and represent 99.44% of the world population. These regulations are a “binding instrument of international law entered into force on 15 June 2007.” U.N. members states can be required by law to obey or acquiesce to them.


On January 18, 2022, with no public awareness, officials from the Biden Administration sent the World Health Organization these extensive amendments to strengthen WHO’s ability to unilaterally intervene into the affairs of nations merely suspected of having a “health emergency” of possible concern to other nations. The U.S. amendments cross out a critical existing restriction in the regulations: “WHO shall consult with and attempt to obtain verification from the State Party in whose territory the event is allegedly occurring…” By eliminating that, and other clauses (see below), all the shackles will be removed from the Director-General of WHO, enabling him to declare health emergencies at will.

Tucker FDA

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Not just a lieutenant: “Bashaw formerly served as the Army Public Health Center’s headquarters company commander.”

Army Lieutenant Convicted, Not Punished in 1st COVID Court-Martial (CHD)

1st Lt. Mark Bashaw of Maryland, who in April was court-martialed for his refusal to comply with COVID-19 testing and masking requirements, was convicted but will not be punished. As previously reported by The Defender, the U.S. Army charged Bashaw, under the Article 92, Failure to Obey an Order, with: failure to take a medical test, failure to wear a mask and failure to leave the workplace for telework. Bashaw formerly served as the Army Public Health Center’s headquarters company commander. The case, United States v 1LT Mark C. Bashaw, was heard April 28-29 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, home of the Army Public Health Center. About 30 spectators attended the hearing, which was open to the public.

Bashaw plead not guilty to the charges (a telework work charge was dropped at the hearing). The Army recommended formal reprimand and $25,000 in forfeiture of pay. Judge Robert Cohen found Bashaw guilty of the two charges but recommended no additional punishment beyond the conviction. Judge Cohen commented on Bashaw’s exemplary 16 years of meritorious service during sentencing. “Receiving no punishment at a court-martial is not without precedent,” installation spokesperson Amburr Reese told Army Times. “While the Army does not categorize court-martial convictions as felonies or misdemeanors, many civilian jurisdictions treat a conviction in special court-martial convened by military judge alone, which this one was, as a misdemeanor.”

Because Bashaw is not facing punishment, the flag on his records will be removed and he is now eligible to be promoted to the rank of Captain, which was withheld in November 2021. Bashaw disagreed with the judge’s determination but respected the decision. Bashaw also said he understood he can appeal the ruling. He also explained his reasons for challenging what he thought to be an unlawful order, stating he relied on faith. Judge Cohen determined the Army’s orders to wear an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) mask and to take an EUA test were lawful. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), EUA products and tests are voluntary, based on an investigational or experimental status, and lack liability and consumer protections.

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“..the only thing more dangerous to human life than governments is a naive immune system..”

Choice Quotes from Bill Gates’s New Book (Tucker)

Imagine yourself sidled up to a bar. A talkative guy sits down on the stool next to you. He has decided that there is one thing wrong with the world. It can be literally anything. Regardless, he has the solution. It’s interesting and weird for a few minutes. But you gradually come to realize that he is actually crazy. His main point is wrong and so his solutions are wrong too. But the drinks are good, and he is buying. So you put up with it. In any case, you will forget the whole thing in the morning. In the morning, however, you realize that he is one of the world’s richest men and he is pulling the strings of many of the world’s most powerful people. Now you are alarmed. In a nutshell, that’s what it’s like to read Bill Gates’s new book How to Prevent the Next Pandemic.

The main theme is implied in the title. With enough money, intelligence, and power, along with technological know-how at the helm, the next pathogen to come along can be stopped in its tracks. Where the bug goes after that he never explains. Presumably it just disappears. Like a computer virus, it exists but doesn’t ruin your harddrive. What are the historical examples of such a thing? There are none via avoidance, testing, contract tracing, and control of the human population. This theory of virus control – the notion that muscling the population makes a prevalent virus shrink into submission and disappear – is a completely new invention, the mechanization of a primitive instinct.

Smallpox occupies a unique position among infectious diseases as the only one affecting humans that has been eradicated. There are reasons for that: a stable pathogen, a great vaccine, and a hundred years of focused public health work. This happened not due to lockdowns but from the careful and patient application of traditional public-health principles. Can that same experience be repeated in every case? It’s worth investigating and thinking about. The reason is that the attempt to crush a respiratory virus through universal avoidance could be worse than allowing endemicity to it to develop throughout the population. Eradication is not the same thing as perpetual pathogenic avoidance. The former is great but the latter is deeply dangerous: the only thing more dangerous to human life than governments is a naive immune system. Gates’s plan, even if it had a chance of working which it does not, could create exactly that. Not to understand the difference is an egregious intellectual error.

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“Musk anticipates making thousands of new hires, swelling the ranks to around 11,000 employees, up from 7,500 currently.”

Elon Musk Plans To Fire 1,000 Twitter Staff, Quintuple Revenue (DM)

Elon Musk is planning to fire 1,000 staffers at Twitter as soon as his purchase of the social media platform is complete. It’s believed he will fire many of the firm’s woke staff following the transfer of ownership which will take around six months, after which Musk is likely to wield the ax. But then within the next three years, Musk anticipates making thousands of new hires, swelling the ranks to around 11,000 employees, up from 7,500 currently. Much of the new talent is likely to be in the field of engineering. Numbers at the company would fluctuate rising to 9,225 employees this year before falling to 8,332 in 2023. Then adding a further 2,700 workers by 2025.

Most of the jobs being shelved would occur during the takeover period, according to a pitch deck Musk presented this week to investors and seen by the New York Times. On a company level, Musk has previously floated the idea of closing down the San Francisco headquarters in order to save money and that board members may also not receive a salary, shaving off another $3 million in expenses. The changes Musk makes are part of his plan to increase Twitter’s annual revenue by five times current levels to $26.4 billion by 2028, up from $5 billion last year. Advertising on the platform is set to fall to 45% of total revenue under Musk, down from about 90% in 2020.

By 2028, he plans for ads to generate $12 billion in revenue in 2028, while subscriptions are expected to pull in another $10 billion, according to the report. Musk is said to favor a subscription-based model over advertiser funding, as it would make Twitter less beholden to advertiser pressure. He has even suggested users could pay with cryptocurrency, including joke currency Dogecoin which Musk has long had an affection for. Other revenue would come from businesses such as data licensing. Musk has also tweeted about potentially monetizing tweets, although he has not provided specific details. Musk also plans to see Twitter’s cash flow rise to $3.2 billion in 2025 and $9.4 billion in 2028.

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“Say what you will about Elon, he does have a large fanbase of ppl excited to work for him..”

Job Interest In Twitter Up 250% Since Elon Musk Moved To Take Over (Fortune)

Elon Musk cast Twitter’s future into uncertainty when he made a successful $44 billion bid to acquire the company last month. He will take over as temporary CEO once the deal is complete, CNBC reported Thursday morning. While countless Musk fans, and a slight majority of Americans—59%—approve of the takeover according to recent data from The Harris Poll, some current Twitter staff worry that it will dramatically change the company’s culture, and overall direction. It’s still unclear how a Musk-run Twitter might impact the company’s ability to retain current staff and recruit new employees. The company presented the takeover as a potential threat to its staffing abilities in an SEC filing Monday.

But at least casual interest in open positions at the company has skyrocketed since the Tesla billionaire showed serious interest in taking over the company. On Thursday, Daniel Zhao, a senior economist and data scientist at the job insights platform Glassdoor, tweeted that interest in job openings at the social media giant was up 263% between April 24 and April 30. In a statement to Fortune, Zhao clarified that interest is defined by the average daily clicks on Twitter job postings on the platform, compared to the average daily job clicks in a March 2022 baseline prior to the news breaking of Musk’s plans for the company. Though clicks do not necessarily correlate to actual job applications submitted, and likely reflect current media attention, the increase shows that people appear to be interested not just in the media story, but in work available at the company.

“Say what you will about Elon, he does have a large fanbase of ppl excited to work for him,” Zhao tweeted. “He’s much more likely to capitalize on that attraction as CEO than owner.” On Friday, Musk shared some of his own thoughts about hiring at Twitter, sharing Fortune’s reporting. “If Twitter acquisition completes, company will be super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec & server hardware,” he tweeted on Friday morning. “I strongly believe that all managers in a technical area must be technically excellent. Managers in software must write great software or it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse!” he added.

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“mran Khan was a serious thorn in the side of the west because he kept impressing on Pakistanis that the Forever War in Afghanistan was militarily unwinnable.”

Terror from Balochistan (Escobar)

The suicide bomber was a woman, Shaari Baloch, alias Bramsh, who detonated her vest just as a van carrying Institute staff members approached the entrance. The attack was claimed by the BLA’s Majeed Brigade, which stressed that this was the first time they used a female suicide bomber. Shaari Baloch was a schoolteacher with a Zoology degree, enrolled to pursue a second Master’s degree, married to a dentist and professor at Makran Medical College in her hometown of Turbat, in southern Balochistan. Her three brothers include a doctor, a deputy director at a government-funded project, and a civil servant. So Shaari Baloch was far from being a mere destitute online-indoctrinated Salafi-jihadi.

[..] A Carnegie Institute report noted how “many Baloch nationalist leaders now come from the urbanized districts of Kech, Panjgur, and Gwadar (and to a lesser extent from Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Kharan, and Lasbela). They are well connected to Karachi and Gulf cities, where tribal structures are non-existent. In fact, while there is violence all over the province, the insurgency seems to concentrate mainly in these urbanized areas.” Suicide bomber Shaari Baloch came from Turbat, the province’s second largest city, where the BLA is very much active. From the point of view of the usual suspects, these are choice assets, especially after the death of important tribal leaders such as Akbar Bugti. The report duly noted how “the educated and middle-class Baloch youth are in the forefront” of the insurgency.

The anti-China instrumentalization of the BLA also ties in with the regime-change parliament operation in Islamabad that recently deposed former prime minister Imran Khan, who was always a fierce adversary of the American “Forever War” in Afghanistan. Khan resolutely denied Pakistan’s use in “over the horizon” US military ops: that was one of the key reasons for him to be ousted. Now, with a pliant, Washington-approved, new regime in town, a miracle has just happened: the Pentagon is about to clinch a formal agreement with Islamabad to use Pakistani airspace to – what else – keep interfering in Afghanistan.

Beijing, as well as other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), won’t be amused. Only weeks before the white coup, Khan had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and once again underscored how Pakistan and China are “iron brothers.” Imran Khan was a serious thorn in the side of the west because he kept impressing on Pakistanis that the Forever War in Afghanistan was militarily unwinnable. He knew how all the proxies – including the BLA – that destabilized both Afghanistan and Pakistan for decades were, and continue to be, part of US covert operations.

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“Will America cough up “Joe Biden” like a hairball to get those trucks running again?”

Nausea Rules (Kunstler)

Europe, the old original homeland of Western Civ, isn’t just losing face, it’s blowing its head clean off going along with “Joe Biden’s” economic war. Are Germany, France, and the rest of that bunch really so dead-set on jamming Ukraine into NATO that they’re willing to go full medieval for it? By which I mean sitting in the cold and dark with empty plates. That’s a hard way to go just to prove somebody else’s point.

The war in Ukraine itself was apparently losing its sex appeal for the click-hungry news media. No matter which way The New York Times and friends tried to spin it, they failed to grok both Russia’s determination to neutralize Ukraine and its ability to get the job done, even if it takes a longer-than-expected grind to finish. That’s how important it was to Russia that Ukraine not become a forward missile base and bio-weapons lab for its adversaries. When that operation concludes, the West will be left economically crippled and humiliated — which are conditions that historically portend regime change. Will America cough up “Joe Biden” like a hairball to get those trucks running again? Might the Dems themselves resort to releasing the kraken known as Hunter’s laptop just to send the old grifter packing?

In the meantime, the leaked Roe v Wade cancellation ruling shoved the Ukraine fiasco offstage so as to provoke more useful histrionics for the dreaded midterm elections upcoming. The poorly-understood truth is that said ruling will only send the abortion question back to the individual states. But let’s get real: places like New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and California are not going to enact any new anti-abortion laws, and that’s where most of the people having hebephrenic breakdowns over the issue live. Which is to say there’s little danger that the shrieking denizens of these Blue states will lack abortions. So, how much has the party only been pretending that Roe v Wade is its primal touchstone?

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“..the court has become a tragic anachronism in our age of rage: an institution that relied on the integrity and ethics of its members and staff..”

How Years of Attacks on the Court Created a “By Any Means” Mentality (Turley)

What is clear is that the court has become a tragic anachronism in our age of rage: an institution that relied on the integrity and ethics of its members and staff at a time when such values are treated as naive. It relied on justices and clerks alike remaining bound to the institution and to each other by a constitutional faith. But we are living in an age of constitutional atheism, so it is only surprising that it took this long. For years, politicians, pundits and academics have called for reckless political action against the court. Many Democrats in Congress have pledged to achieve political goals “by any means necessary,” including packing or gutting the court. Democratic leaders have hammered away at the court and its members, demanding that the court adhere to political demands or face institutional disaster.

The threats have grown increasingly raw and reckless as politicians sought to outdo each other in their attacks. In the age of rage, restraint is a lethal liability. The message has been repeated like a drumbeat: The ends justify the means. Recently, Roberts even went public with a warning over “inappropriate political influence” affecting the court. Yet, the day before this leak, the court itself defied critics who portrayed it as hopelessly and dysfunctionally divided with another unanimous decision. It ruled in a major case on speech that Boston could not discriminate against a religious organization that wanted to hoist a flag outside of its city hall. It spoke with one voice in defense of shared constitutional values.

Given the relentless calls from political leaders, we may have been naive to think that a staff member or clerk would not yield to the same “ends justify the means” rationale. Former Justice Louis Brandeis once warned that “Our government … teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

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Churchill.

Zelensky Critic Arrested in Spain on Orders of Ukrainian Government (SN)

A popular YouTuber and critic of President Zelensky was arrested in Spain at the behest of the Ukrainian government on charges of treason and faces extradition, despite publicly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yes, really. Anatoly Shariy, who has almost 3 million YouTuber subscribers, was detained on an international arrest warrant in a joint operation by Spanish and Ukrainian police, as well as international “partners,” according to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). They claim that Shariy has been acting on behalf of “foreign” forces by infringing Ukraine’s national security via his media commentary on the war and engaging in “incitement of hatred.” Shariy’s arrest “is more proof that every traitor of Ukraine will sooner or later receive his well-deserved punishment. It is inevitable,” the SBU asserted.


The blogger had previously been granted asylum by the EU in 2012 after fleeing persecution by the government of Viktor Yanukovich, who was pro-Russian. Despite condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Shariy’s criticism of Zelensky’s response was apparently enough for him to be targeted by Ukrainian authorities. Having had his passport seized, Shariy is now in Barcelona under a travel ban until a decision on his extradition to Ukraine is made. President Zelensky’s representative at the Constitutional Court said Shariy will “face a Ukrainian court and will be held liable in line with Ukrainian laws.” In response to his arrest, Shariy posted a picture of his wife feeding parrots in Barcelona, commenting, “This really is a comedy.” Shariy’s arrest once again puts to bed the idea that Ukraine is some kind of beacon of democracy, when its authorities treat dissidents exactly the same way dissidents are treated in Russia.

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The Whitmer case may have broad implications.

Jan. 6: 80 ‘Suspicious Actors’ and ‘Material Witnesses’ Under Scrutiny (ET)

Defense attorneys are seeking to identify and investigate 80 suspicious actors and material witnesses, some of whom allegedly ran an entrapment operation against the Oath Keepers on January 6, 2021, and committed crimes including the removal of security fencing, breaching police lines, attacking officers, and inciting crowds to storm into the Capitol. In a motion (pdf) and supplement (pdf) filed after 11 p.m. on May 5 in federal court in Washington, attorney Brad Geyer listed 80 people, some of whom he said could be government agents or provocateurs. The people are seen on video operating in a coordinated fashion across the Capitol grounds on January 6, the attorney alleged.

Geyer’s suggestion of an entrapment scheme will resonate with dozens of January 6 defense attorneys, coming shortly after two men were acquitted of an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). There was a hung jury on charges against two other defendants. The jury in that case was allowed to consider FBI entrapment as a defense. Geyer, who represents Oath Keepers defendant Kenneth Harrelson, is seeking a court order from U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta compelling federal prosecutors to help identify the individuals and disclose whether they were working for law enforcement or any government agency on January 6. Geyer wrote that the information is exculpatory, which compels the government to produce it. Other Oath Keepers defendants are expected to join in the motion.

The May 5 filing comes on the heels of an April 12 Oath Keepers motion that alleged at least 20 “assets” from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were embedded in the crowds on January 6. According to the new filing, video evidence the defense gained access to only recently shows that some of the 80 people attacked police, other people, and members of the Oath Keepers; entered the Capitol on the west side “with apparent permission or acquiescence of government actors”; opened the Columbus Doors on the east side of the Capitol “from the inside, possibly with even further assistance of government actors”; and deployed “sophisticated crowd-behavior techniques,” orienting themselves between protesters and police.

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“This is the way disinformation is really exposed, not by some contrived government agency, but by evidence presented in court that gets at the truth of what happened,”

Ex-FBI Intel Chief: Clinton Campaign Used ‘Contrived Disinformation’ (JTN)

As the Biden administration pushes its new Disinformation Governance Board, the FBI’s former intelligence chief says he is now convinced Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign used “contrived disinformation” to try to mislead Americans into believing Donald Trump was a Russian asset. “This is more than just political dirty tricks,” retired Assistant Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock told the “Just the News, Not Noise” television show Wednesday. “Political dirty tricks usually have some foundation in truth. But they just made stuff up.” Brock, one of the bureau’s most respected former executives, said he has been impressed with the way Special Counsel John Durham has used the prosecution of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann to expose how the false Russia collusion narrative was constructed.

Sussmann, who has pleaded innocent and faces trial at the end of the month, is charged with lying to the FBI in fall 2016 when he denied he was acting on behalf of a client in bringing the bureau what turned out to be false allegations that Trump had a secret communications channel with the Kremlin. Durham has exposed recent evidence showing the Clinton campaign’s own researchers were skeptical of the allegation, which one described as a “red herring.” The underlying data permitted no more than an “inference” at best, according to another. Last week, prosecutors unveiled an email showing a journalist had told the campaign research team weeks before it approached the FBI that one of the Trump-Russia allegations was “bullshit.”

“This is the way disinformation is really exposed, not by some contrived government agency, but by evidence presented in court that gets at the truth of what happened,” Brock said of the prosecutor’s recent evidentiary filings in court. “What Durham is methodically doing, is laying out a case that the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democrat Party used contrived disinformation in a conspiracy, in a conspiratorial way, to deceive the American voter ahead of the election.”

True the Vote

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“Special Counsel Robert Mueller, intelligence officials and Democrats misled the public about the hack.”

Claim Russians Hacked The DNC Could Have Relied On ‘Spoofed’ Data (Fed.)

The Georgia Tech cyber security experts ensnared in the Alfa Bank hoax conducted a retrospective analysis of the Democratic National Committee hack, according to the Department of Defense. While the results of that analysis have yet to be made public, internal documents obtained by The Federalist reveal that Georgia Tech’s computer scientists believed CrowdStrike’s approach to investigating computer intrusions relied on the use of easily “spoofed/impersonated” signals of traffic.

In June 2016, about one month before WikiLeaks released a trove of internal communiques revealing top DNC officials plotted to destroy Bernie Sanders’ presidential ambitions in favor of their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, the DNC publicly confirmed that its server had been hacked. In the Washington Post article breaking the story, the DNC maintained that the private security firm it had hired to investigate the hack, CrowdStrike, had concluded two Russian military intelligence groups, branded Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, bore responsibility for the intrusions.

Given that Democrats and the media would later rely on CrowdStrike’s conclusion that Putin’s agents had hacked the DNC to support the Russia collusion hoax, those seeking to unravel Spygate paid particular attention to CrowdStrike’s initial assessment. The declassification of CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry’s December 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, that “there was no ‘concrete evidence’ that the emails were stolen electronically,” later raised more “questions about whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller, intelligence officials and Democrats misled the public” about the hack.

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A comment on “The Shanghai Lockdown: A Memetic Analysis”
by “Anonymous”

The Whole Planet Is a Pot And We’re All Frogs (Ugo Bardi)

Shanghai has always been seen as the most “civilized” city in China. Shanghai is often called Le Paris de l’Orient, it is an “international” first tier city… probably the top Chinese city in terms of openness, quality of life and access to medical care. Nobody expected to see such levels of insanity in Shanghai… in other areas of the country, yes, but not here. Looking at the conditions in the quarantine centers… Containers without doors in a field, tents set on a highway, toilets flooded with feces… open air zoo. They come take positive cases in big buses and ambulances almost daily. The police is patrolling streets at all times and we are unable to even set foot on the sidewalk. Every building that had a positive case is either: shut down with barriers OR has 1-2 men in a tent monitoring 24/7 (imagine all the manpower required.)

Currently there are 3-4 of those tents in my compound. It’s basically Martial Law. The psychological toll is quite high. The monetary one must be hard of lower classes. Some neighbors have mental breakdowns. Some people spray alcohol in the air while walking to get tested… You’d think the Plague is upon us. Some people were getting messages in group chat about “foreign spies” and “foreign media fueling anti-China conspiracies.” Good ol’ shift the blame tricks. I have been in lockdown since mid-March, got tested 35 times, and lost about 12 pounds. The local governmental commune gave us a little bit of food, but barely enough to survive.

Luckily we had some preps and were able to order some food. Now most delivery guys are not allowed to deliver to our address. We can get a bit of food, but we need to get imaginative to create new recipes (boiled/sweet and sour/spicy/fermented cabbage.) My take is: It could be a test for something much bigger (ie., war, energy crisis) or they are truly afraid of the unrest if lots of old people were to die. Chinese people tend to get emotional and the last thing the authorities want to deal with is mobs lynching doctors in the streets. Is the frog slowly boiling in the pot? I think so. Except the whole planet is pot and we’re all frogs.

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Ireland

 

 

 

 

Clare Daly
https://twitter.com/i/status/1522241094754443265

 

 

 

 

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Apr 282022
 
 April 28, 2022  Posted by at 8:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  24 Responses »


Robert Rauschenberg Buffalo II 1964

 

Russia Stops Gas Supplies to Poland and Bulgaria (CTH)
Russia Doubles Fossil Fuel Revenues Since Invasion Of Ukraine Began (G.)
Putin’s Main Assault Is Still To Come (Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley)
Biden Admin Creates ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ Under DHS (PM)
DHS Will Establish Disinformation Board with Obvious Agenda (CTH)
Online Censorship of Ukraine Dissent Is Becoming the New Norm (MPN)
Twitter Workers Freaking Out Over Elon Musk In Internal Slack Messages (Ngo)
Obama Goes Full Orwell In Scary Stanford Speech (WND)
Republicans Want Answers From Garland On FBI’s Role In Whitmer Charges (Fox)
Mortgage Volume Gets Crushed by Spiking Interest Rates
Fauci Walks Back Comment About US No Longer Being In ‘Pandemic Phase’ (NYP)
CDC and FDA ‘Altered’ Covid Guidance, Findings Under Political Pressure (DM)
Fiction Disguised as Science to Promote Hatred (Byram Bridle)

 

 

 

 

Euro and yen are getting crushed, ruble is at 52-week high.

@TFMetals: Gold has now been attacked TWICE today in an attempt to manipulate it back under $1880. The first was in London and the second, even higher volume attack came during the first hour of Comex trading.

 

 

 

 

Biden Scott Ritter 2002

 

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities; can make you commit atrocities” ~ Voltaire

 

 

“due to absence of payments in roubles”

Russia Stops Gas Supplies to Poland and Bulgaria (CTH)

At the same time as Russia has targeted railway lines as part of the effort to block U.S. arms shipments into Eastern Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has now followed through on the previous warning to stop Russian gas supplies unless payments are made in non-sanctioned Rubles. Poland is obviously the primary target for retaliation here, as the NATO alliance is using Poland as the gateway for arms deliveries into Ukraine. According to multiple reports from the EU Russia has halted gas shipments into Poland and Bulgaria. (Reuters) “Gazprom Russia’s gas export monopoly, suspended gas supplies “due to absence of payments in roubles”, as stipulated in a decree from Russian President Vladimir Putin that aims to soften the impact of sanctions.”


There are conflicting reports as to whether Germany is paying Russia, or whether they are trying to avoid running afoul of the NATO alliance by reducing Russian imports. Ukraine President Zelenskyy is using the opportunity to reinforce his position that all European countries need to stop purchasing energy from Russia, or else they are not supporting Ukraine. However, it’s not as simple as it seems because multiple EU countries are dependent on Russia for energy products and there are no immediate alternatives. Russia is leveraging this dependency in an effort to break the western sanctions.

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“Russia has effectively caught the EU in a trap where further restrictions will raise prices further..”

Russia Doubles Fossil Fuel Revenues Since Invasion Of Ukraine Began (G.)

Russia has nearly doubled its revenues from selling fossil fuels to the EU during the two months of war in Ukraine, benefiting from soaring prices even as volumes have been reduced. Russia has received about €62bn from exports of oil, gas and coal in the two months since the invasion began, according to an analysis of shipping movements and cargos by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. For the EU, imports were about €44bn for the past two months, compared with about €140bn for the whole of last year, or roughly €12bn a month. The findings demonstrate how Russia has continued to benefit from its stranglehold over Europe’s energy supply, even while governments have frantically sought to prevent Vladimir Putin using oil and gas as an economic weapon.


Even though exports from Russia have been reduced by the war and sanctions, the country’s dominance as a source of gas has meant cutting off supplies has only increased prices, which were already high because of tight supply as global economies recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic. Crude oil shipments from Russia to foreign ports fell by 30% in the first three weeks of April, compared with rates in January and February, before the invasion, according to the CREA data. But the higher prices Russia can now command for its oil and gas mean its revenues, which flow almost directly to the Russian government through state-dominated companies, have risen even while sanctions and export restrictions bite. Russia has effectively caught the EU in a trap where further restrictions will raise prices further, cushioning its revenues despite the best efforts of EU governments.

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Always a bit weird when western military “analyzes” Russia. Invariably they pretend to have a direct line into Putin’s brain.

Putin’s Main Assault Is Still To Come (Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley)

IN spite of appearances and the beliefs of many, the main Russian assault in eastern Ukraine has not yet begun. Last Sunday, April 24, was Easter Sunday in the Russian Orthodox calendar; the feast lasts eight days until the commemoration of Our Lord’s second appearance to the Disciples after his resurrection and the confrontation with ‘doubting’ Thomas. Given Vladimir Putin’s well-documented devotion to the Orthodox religion, we might expect the main assault in eastern Ukraine to begin after that date. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s declaration that the offensive had begun was useful to Putin. It has caused both the Ukrainian people and the West to think that Russian forces are now fully committed. They are not. What has begun is the deep attack and the use of deception – two recycled Soviet techniques still in full use.

Deep attacks against infrastructure by air and missile strikes and on key targets, including stockpiles of Nato-supplied equipment, air defence systems, airfields and communications are now in progress. Preliminary artillery fire on close targets in the Donbas region is also certainly ongoing. In terms of deception, the Russians continue to be poised in the Black Sea threatening Odessa, but with probably insufficient forces to do more than this. However, it is clearly fixing Ukrainian attention, as the 5th (Reserve) Tank Brigade with its 90 T-72 main battle tanks has been moved there. For Putin, leaving Odessa as the only operational Ukrainian port will be a valuable bargaining chip once the Donbas operation is complete and he seeks to dictate a settlement. If a settlement is not achieved then this picture changes, more of which shortly.

So what can we expect to see when the main assault unfolds? First, combined arms assaults against Ukrainian regular forces in the Donbas and elsewhere on the eastern frontier to fix them. Zelensky’s statements that Ukrainian reserves are now being committed, including the 3rd (Reserve) Tank Brigade deploying to Izyum, and the 4th and 17th Tank Brigades deployed to Kharkov, may well be a bluff. If it is not, then such moves would be premature and play to the Russian script. That said, an encircling movement from Izyum to the south, on the western border of the Donetsk, would be a very clear indicator of the beginning of full offensive operations.

Operations in and around Mariupol will continue, but only to fix the attention of the West and its media. Mariupol is seen as the key to any corridor to the Crimea – but the route to the Crimea has been fully open since early March with the garrison of Mariupol confined to a small area and helpless to interfere.

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Here’s how nervous Elon Musk is making Washington.

Biden Admin Creates ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ Under DHS (PM)

The Department of Homeland Security is setting up a new board designed to counter misinformation related to homeland security, with a focus specifically on Russia and irregular migration. The board will be called the “Disinformation Governance Board, and will be headed by executive director Nina Jankowicz. Speaking with the House Appropriations DHS Subcommittee on Wednesday afternoon, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “Our Undersecretary for Policy, Rob Silvers is co-chair with our Principal Deputy General Counsel, Jennifer Gaskell, in leading a just recently constituted misinformation disinformation governance board. So we’re bringing — the goal is to bring the resources of the department together to address this threat.”

Jankowicz was previously a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, and had advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry as part of the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship, according to Politico. Jankowicz also oversaw Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute. She announced the new Board via Twitter on Wednesday. Jankowicz has previously said that she was concerned that Twitter had determined early in 2022 to stop limiting speech from users about the 2020 presidential election, saying that “considering the long-term damage these lies do to our democracy,” she was “dismayed about this decision.”

Her view about elections, whether foreign or domestic, are that they “aren’t an end point,” but are “an inflection point,” and that the policies of social media companies as regards free speech “need to reflect that.” Jankowicz was an advisor to the government of Ukraine. She also stated her opinion that Hunter Biden’s laptop, the contents of which were reported by the New York Post, was Russian disinformation. This was entirely false. Jankowicz will be leading the charge against misinformation, of which she believed the laptop actually was an example. Jankowicz also does not appear to be a fan of free speech, saying that setting up free speech in opposition to censorship is “a false dichotomy.”

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This Nina Jankowicz, who will head the board, is herself a veritable disinformation engine.

DHS Will Establish Disinformation Board with Obvious Agenda (CTH)

I think we are now seeing the outlines of how the Fourth Branch of Government are planning to keep control over information, specifically public discussion on Big Tech platforms, even as Elon Musk moves to open the valves of information from the social media platform Twitter. Previously the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced a new Dept of Homeland Security priority to combat disinformation {LINK} on technology platforms including social media. Many eyebrows were raised as the announcement appeared to be an open admission that the U.S. government was going to control information by applying labels, that would align with allies in social media, who need a legal justification for censorship and content removal.


NOTE: The Republicans did NOT pay for the Steele dossier.

This CISA announcement was quickly followed by various government officials and agencies saying it was critical to combat Russian disinformation, as the events in Ukraine unfolded. In essence, Ukraine was the justification for search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to begin targeting information and content that did not align with the official U.S. government narrative. Previously those same methods were deployed by the U.S. government, specifically the CDC and FDA, toward COVID-19 and the vaccination program. All of this background aligns with the previous visibility of a public-private partnership between the bureaucracy of government, the U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. social media. That partnership now forms the very cornerstone of the DHS/CISA effort to control what information exists in the public space. It is highly important that people understand what is happening.

[..] For two years the control mechanisms around information have been cemented by govt and Big Tech. Even the deployment of the linguistics around disinformation, misinformation and malinformation is all part of that collective effort. The collaboration between the government and Big Tech is not a matter for debate, it is all easily referenced by their own admissions. The current issue is how they are deploying the information controls. We have COVID-19, the vaccination effort and now Ukraine as examples of the collaboration to control information, to control what people are permitted to question and discuss on the internet. Now things are getting much more detailed, and more alarming.

Shortly after Elon Musk made a bid to purchase a single information platform, Twitter, and then expressed his intent to open the speech valves, former Obama administration intelligence officials wrote a letter warning about efforts to break up the information control by Big Tech and Social Media. That letter was shortly followed by a speech delivered by Obama himself where he specifically demanded that government take a larger role in the control of information, essentially promoting an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’ to control information in the public sphere.

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See Covid. See Russiagate. Parites like the DNC, the MSM and the Twitter snowflakes have convinced themselves they have a god-given right to censorship.

Online Censorship of Ukraine Dissent Is Becoming the New Norm (MPN)

Google has sent a warning shot across the world, ominously informing media outlets, bloggers, and content creators that it will no longer tolerate certain opinions when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, Google AdSense sent a message to a myriad of publishers, including MintPress News, informing us that, “Due to the war in Ukraine, we will pause monetization of content that exploits, dismisses, or condones the war.” This content, it went on to say, “includes, but is not limited to, claims that imply victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim-blaming, such as claims that Ukraine is committing genocide or deliberately attacking its own citizens.”

This builds on a similar message Google’s subsidiary YouTube released last month, stating, “Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events. We are now removing content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy.” YouTube went on to say that it had already permanently banned more than a thousand channels and 15,000 videos on these grounds. Journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin was deeply troubled by the news. “It is really disturbing that this is the trend that we are on,” she told MintPress, adding: It is a preposterous declaration considering that the victim is whoever we are told by our foreign policy establishment.

It really is outrageous to be told by these tech giants that taking the wrong side of a conflict that is quite complicated will now hurt your views, derank you on social media or limit your ability to fund your work. So you have to toe the line in order to survive as a journalist in alternative media today.” The most prominent victim of the recent banning spate has been Russian state media such as RT America, whose entire catalog has been blocked throughout most of the world. RT America was also blocked from broadcasting across the U.S., leading to the network’s sudden closure.

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“We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled..”

Twitter Workers Freaking Out Over Elon Musk In Internal Slack Messages (Ngo)

Leaked internal communications by Twitter employees reveal woke employees are overtaken by despair and anger about Elon Musk’s month-long effort to acquire Twitter. Musk announced he would purchase the company for $44 billion on Monday. The deal concludes a month-long saga that began with Musk first tweeting out polls and his thoughts about the decline of free speech on Twitter. On the business communication platform Slack, some Twitter employees vented against the new owner, leaked messages reveal. “Physically cringy watching Elon talk about free speech,” a site reliability engineer who identifies as a nonbinary transgender and plural person wrote.

“We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled,” wrote a senior staff software engineer who called Musk an “a**hole,” and tried to console his colleagues. “We’re all spinning our wheels, and coming up with worst case scenarios (Trump returns! No more moderation!). The fact is that [Musk] has not talked about what he’s planning on doing in any detail outside of broad sweeping statements that could be easily seen as hyperbolic showboating.” A senior staff video engineer announced he would be quitting, “Not the place to say it perhaps, but I will not work for this company after the takeover.”

Following the back-and-forth among multiple employees angry about the news, some warned that their communications on Slack could be searched. The employees then moved their conversations onto their personal devices using the encrypted chat application Signal. Twitter’s leadership appeared to predict an internal backlash and possible sabotage when it locked down the ability of its employees to make changes to the platform through Friday. Leading up to Monday’s deal, Twitter employees had already been venting for weeks on Slack about Musk and defending the platform’s moderation enforcement.

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“The way I’m going to evaluate?” Obama failed to explain in what capacity he gets to evaluate anything…”

Obama Goes Full Orwell In Scary Stanford Speech (WND)

A week ago Barack Obama let loose his inner fascist and gave an hour-long speech at Stanford University that deserved more attention than it got. “I’m pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist,” Obama told his audience and then spent the rest of the hour proving he is anything but. In fact, the Obama that emerges in this speech is one scary dude. The one sentence that most alarmed me began thusly, “The way I’m going to evaluate any proposal touching on social media and the internet is whether it strengthens or weakens the prospects for a healthy, inclusive democracy.” “The way I’m going to evaluate?” Obama failed to explain in what capacity he gets to evaluate anything. Does he expect to head the FCC or get appointed to the Supreme Court? Does he plan to engineer a Michelle Obama presidential bid? If any of these happens, God help us all.

The thrust of his speech was that “regulation has to be part of the answer” in combating online “disinformation.” As Obama made much too clear he and his pals get to determine what is and is not disinformation. The former president makes almost no attempt to hide his biases. A sentence that reads, “People like Putin and Steve Bannon, for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe this information in order to weaken democratic institutions” does not inspire a whole lot of confidence in the deplorable half of America. Nor does a sentence that reads, “There are still brand name newspapers and magazines, not to mention network news broadcasts, NPR [and] other outlets that have adapted to the new digital environment while maintaining the highest standards of journalistic integrity.”

Those “highest standards” included sustaining for three years the fiction that Donald Trump conspired with the Russians to steal the 2016 election and salvaging Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, such as it was, by suppressing all news of Hunter Biden’s laptop under the pretext it was Russian disinformation. On the question of COVID, Obama insists, “People are dying because of misinformation.” He cites the refusal of 1 in 5 Americans to avoid “safe, effective vaccines” as proof of the same. Obama neglected to mention that more than a year into the COVID mania Gallup asked 35,000 Americans, “What are the chances someone with COVID must be hospitalized?” 41% of Democrats said more than 50%; another 28% of Democrats said 20 to 50%. The correct answer was 1-5%.

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“..that whole conspiracy that looks to be completely possibly led by the FBI, which is terrifying, and the comparison of what happened on January 6..”

Republicans Want Answers From Garland On FBI’s Role In Whitmer Charges (Fox)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is seeking answers from the Justice Department (DOJ) on whether the FBI “entrapped” defendants in the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot and whether the high-profile charges in Michigan were politically motivated to hurt former President Trump before the 2020 presidential election. Greene on Wednesday sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray that backs defense lawyer claims that four defendants charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer were steered by undercover FBI agents and informants. “The American people deserve a transparent justice system and law enforcement that keeps them safe, not entraps them in serious criminal activity in order to sway the outcome of a democratic election,” Greene and 11 other GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital.

After a 20-day trial, two of the four men were acquitted on April 8 of a conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer. Jurors couldn’t reach a verdict on charges against two other defendants, resulting in a mistrial. Their lawyers alleged entrapment, and the federal judge in the case allowed jurors to consider whether the FBI engaged in the prohibited practice of cajoling or tricking individuals into committing crimes. Prosecutors sought to show that the defendants were talking about the kidnapping plot before the FBI sting with one defendant posting a video saying, “We need to use brutal force against the government” in 2019, months before he met any agents or informants. In May 2020, another defendant was talking about “hanging” the governor.

[..] In an interview with Fox News Digital, Greene sought to make a link between FBI “entrapping” the Whitmer defendants and the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. She questioned whether the FBI had any involvement or knowledge of those who broke into the Capitol and disrupted the House and Senate proceedings to certify President Biden’s Electoral College win. “The comparison of the two incidents, that’s what most people are just really concerned about – between Governor Whitmer and that whole conspiracy that looks to be completely possibly led by the FBI, which is terrifying, and the comparison of what happened on January 6,” Greene said.

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When is it time to bail out banks?

Mortgage Volume Gets Crushed by Spiking Interest Rates

Spiking mortgage rates multiply the effects of exploding home prices on mortgage payments, and it has taken layer after layer of homebuyers out of the market for the past four months. And we can see that. Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell further this week and were down 17% from a year ago, hitting the lowest level since May 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly Purchase Index today. The index is down over 30% from peak-demand in late 2020 and early 2021, which was then followed by the historic price spikes last year.

“The drop in purchase applications was evident across all loan types,” the MBA’s report said. “Prospective homebuyers have pulled back this spring, as they continue to face limited options of homes for sale along with higher costs from increasing mortgage rates and prices. The recent decrease in purchase applications is an indication of potential weakness in home sales in the coming months.” The culprit of the plunge in volume: The toxic mix of exploding home prices and spiking mortgage rates. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages with 20% down and conforming to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac limits, jumped to 5.37%, the highest since August 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly measure today.

The mortgage on a home purchased a year ago at the median price (per National Association of Realtors) of $326,300, and financed with 20% down over 30 years, at the average rate at the time of 3.17%, came with a payment of 1,320 per month. The mortgage on a home purchased today at the median price of $375,300, and financed with 20% down, at 5.37% comes with a payment of $1,990. So today’s buyer, already strung out by rampant inflation in everything else, would have to come up with an extra $670 a month – that represents a 50% jump in mortgage payments – to buy the same house. Now figure this with homes in the more expensive areas of the country where the median price, after the ridiculous spikes of the past two years, runs $500,000 or $1 million or more. Homebuyers are facing massively higher mortgage payments in those markets.

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“A day later, after his comments made headlines worldwide, Fauci was singing a different tune.”

Fauci Walks Back Comment About US No Longer Being In ‘Pandemic Phase’ (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci walked back his comment that the US was no longer in the “pandemic phase” of COVID-19 — the latest jumbled messaging from President Biden’s chief medical adviser on the coronavirus. Biden administration officials and Fauci were scrambling Wednesday to emphasize that the country is still in the midst of a pandemic and that emergency measures are still needed after Fauci told PBS the precise opposite. “Here we are. It’s the end of April. It’s the spring of 2022. How close are we to the end of the pandemic?” Judy Woodruff of “PBS NewsHour” asked Fauci Tuesday. “We are certainly, right now, in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci replied.

“Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now. “So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are,” he added. A day later, after his comments made headlines worldwide, Fauci was singing a different tune. “We are in a different moment of the pandemic,” Fauci told the Associated Press Wednesday. The US has “decelerated and transitioned into more of a controlled phase” after a winter surge, he added. “By no means does that mean the pandemic is over,” Fauci said in his 180-degree turnabout.

He told the Washington Post Wednesday: “The world is still in a pandemic. There’s no doubt about that. Don’t anybody get any misinterpretation of that.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki fielded a question during her daily press briefing over why emergency measures are still needed if the “pandemic phase” is over. “Well, what Dr. Fauci was saying is that we are in a different phase of this pandemic, and that’s absolutely true,” Psaki said, adding that the level of hospitalizations and deaths has come down.

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What a surprise!

CDC and FDA ‘Altered’ Covid Guidance, Findings Under Political Pressure (DM)

CDC and FDA officials ‘altered’ Covid guidance and even ‘suppressed’ findings related to the virus due to political pressure, a bombshell report suggests. Investigators from the watchdog Government Accountability Office (GAO) spoke to more than a dozen directors and managers who worked at the agencies behind the country’s pandemic guidance. They unearthed allegations of ‘political interference’ in scientific reports, raising fears that research was tampered with. In its 37-page report, the GAO warned that neither agency had a system in place for reporting allegations of political interference. It also said they had failed to train staff how to spot and report this. Whistleblowers said they did not speak up at the time for fear of retaliation, because they were unsure how to report the issues or believed leaders were already aware.

This is just the latest in a growing patchwork of reports suggesting politicians influenced ‘scientific’ papers during the pandemic for their own ends. On Tuesday, the Biden administration’s top medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci declared the U.S. is now ‘out of the pandemic phase’ of Covid, citing low cases and hospitalizations. But health experts were quick to question the claim — buried at the end of an interview with PBS’ NewsHour — suggesting he may have bungled his words and should only have said the nation was in a phase of ‘low hospitalizations’. ‘A few respondents from CDC and [Food and Drug Administration] FDA stated they felt that the potential political interference they observed resulted in the alteration or suppression of scientific findings,’ GAO investigators wrote in the report.

‘Some of these respondents believed that this potential political interference may have resulted in the politically motivated alteration of public health guidance or delayed publication of Covid-related scientific findings.’ The GAO report published last week looked into the two agencies, alongside the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — America’s top research institution— and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) — in charge of natural disaster response. All are part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which in February was branded as at ‘high risk’ for fraud, mismanagement and abuse by the GAO in a separate report.

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“We thought what was missing from that conversation was, what are the rights of vaccinated people to be protected from unvaccinated people?”

Fiction Disguised as Science to Promote Hatred (Byram Bridle)

The legacy media has been like pigs at a trough today and yesterday with the publication of an atrocious ‘peer-reviewed’ ‘scientific’ article by Dr. David Fisman, Dr. Ashleigh Tuite, and a graduate student. After all, with raw public health data unable to support the only COVID-19 narrative that has been deemed acceptable, fresh fuel was apparently needed. Lots of media outlets have been reporting on this study; one of them being CTV News. Here is the headline for their article: “Being with unvaccinated people increases COVID-19 risk for those who are vaccinated: modelling study” This kind of messaging will only fuel hatred and segregation and the potential development of harmful policies. And it is all in the name of bad science.

As a researcher who has published and reviewed many scientific papers, I can tell you that the article by Fisman, et al. is the worst one that I have ever seen. The ‘peer reviewers’ of this article should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to be published, and the editor even more so. If the Canadian Medical Association Journal does not promptly retract this article, they will have made themselves an embarrassment among scientific publishers. This paper by Fisman, et al. is only thinly veiled hate speech under the guise of science. Before I walk you through the numerous massive errors in this paper, let me first show you one example of the messaging regarding the impact and relevance of the paper.

Fisman was quoted by CTV News as saying “We thought what was missing from that conversation was, what are the rights of vaccinated people to be protected from unvaccinated people?”. The only reason why Fisman is trying to turn people against other people is due to the abject failure of the COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ to function like vaccines. That is to say that the purpose of a vaccine is to protect people from a pathogen; to prevent both the disease and transmission of the causative agent. Such a medical product does not require one to pit people against people. Fisman has inappropriately labelled critically thinking people as an enemy when the actual culprits are SARS-CoV-2 and overly rushed jabs of exceptionally poor quality and highly questionable safety that have been pushed as the sole solution at the expense of all others.

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@TexasLindsay has a whole series of these “animations”, for many countries. This is Greece.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1519028584345710594

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 042018
 
 September 4, 2018  Posted by at 9:04 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Edward S. Curtis Lucille, Dakota Sioux 1907

 

Department of Homeland Security Lied About Russia Hacking US Voter Sites (CN)
Housing Bubble Pops in Sydney & Melbourne
Sydney, Melbourne Have Zero Cashflow Positive Suburbs Left (News.com.au)
Europe’s News Agencies Blast Google, Facebook For ‘Plundering’ Content (AFP)
The Emerging Market Crisis Is Back. And This Time It’s Serious (CNBC)
Bringing Up The Bodies in Emerging Markets (Napier)
Brexit Is The Wrong Diagnosis Of A Real Crisis (LSE)
China Says It Is Helping Africa Develop, Not Accumulate Debt (R.)
The Uncomfortable Hiatus (Kunstler)
Brazil Court Lifts Ban On Monsanto’s Glyphosate Weedkiller (AFP)

 

 

Read this excellent piece by Gareth Porter and you’ll never believe another single word about meddling. DHS made it all up, because it wanted to be the no. 1 cybersecurity unit in the US.

Department of Homeland Security Lied About Russia Hacking US Voter Sites (CN)

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats, as well. But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive. DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story.

When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable. The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

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“With impeccable timing, there is a flood of new condos expected to be completed over the next two years..”

Housing Bubble Pops in Sydney & Melbourne

In Sydney, breeding ground for one of the world’s biggest housing bubbles, prices of single-family houses dropped 7.3% in August, compared to a year earlier. Prices of “units” — condos in US lingo — fell 2.2% year-over-year. Price declines were the sharpest at the high end, with prices down 8.1% in the most expensive quarter of home sales. Prices of all types of homes combined fell 5.6%, according to CoreLogic’s Daily Home Value Index. The index is down 5.8% from its peak last September:

Melbourne, where the inflection point has been lagging a few months behind Sydney’s, is in the process of catching up. Over the three month-period, June-August, prices fell 2.0%, making Melbourne the weakest housing market among the capital cities. By segment, house prices fell 2.7% from a year ago while condo prices still inched up 1.5%. At the most expensive quarter of sales, prices fell 5.2% from a year ago. For all types of dwellings combined, prices declined 1.7% year-over-year, to the lowest level since early June 2017, according to CoreLogic. Prices are down 3.6% from their peak at the end of November 2017:

[..] With impeccable timing, there is a flood of new condos expected to be completed over the next two years, something avid crane-counters in Sydney and Melbourne have been swearing for a while. Here are some of these astounding numbers that CoreLogic estimates based on data it collected from the industry: Greater Sydney: In 2019: 31,500 new condos are scheduled to be completed. In 2020, another 45,500 condos are expected to be completed. This brings the two-year total of new condos to 77,000 units, which will increase the total stock of condos by 9.3%! Greater Melbourne: The oncoming flood of new condos is expected to reach 29,000 units in 2019 and nearly 50,000 units in 2020. Over the two years, this will increase the total stock of condos by nearly 79,000 units, or by 11.5%!

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“Even property investors have been priced out of the market.”

Sydney, Melbourne Have Zero Cashflow Positive Suburbs Left (News.com.au)

Even property investors have been priced out of the market. There are “currently no suburbs” in Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra where an investor can buy a detached house and expect it to be cashflow positive with a deposit of 20 per cent or less, according to an analysis by Propertyology. Releasing a list of the country’s “best capital city cash cow suburbs”, the research firm said buyers would have to travel to the Central Coast, 100km from the Sydney CBD, before finding an investment property with decent cashflow. Even then, a median-priced $490,000 house in Lake Munmorah — the least worst “Sydney” suburb identified in Propertyology’s list — will leave the investor $3093 out of pocket.

“Victoria paints a similar picture, with greater Melbourne’s best locations for cash flow investors within the municipality of Melton — 40km northwest of the CBD,” Propertyology head of research Simon Pressley said in a statement. It comes as CoreLogic figures showed national dwelling values fell for the 11th consecutive month in August, led by weakness in the two major capitals that comprise about 60 per cent of Australia’s housing market by value. Negatively geared properties — when the rental return is less than the interest payments and other costs — are “okay when you’re getting 10 per cent capital growth year in, year out”, said AMP Capital chief economist Dr Shane Oliver.

But investors now face falling house prices, rising interest rates, tighter lending conditions and the possibility of a future Labor government cracking down on negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks. “The equation gets more complicated,” Dr Oliver said.

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Getting rich off of other people’s work.

Europe’s News Agencies Blast Google, Facebook For ‘Plundering’ Content (AFP)

Europe’s biggest news agencies accused Google and Facebook of “plundering” news for free on Tuesday in a joint statement that called on the internet giants to share more of their revenues with the media. In a column signed by the CEOs of around 20 agencies including France’s Agence France-Presse, Britain’s Press Association and Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur they called on the European Parliament to update copyright law in the EU to help address a “grotesque imbalance”. “The internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy,” the column said.

European Parliament lawmakers are to set to debate a new copyright law this month that would force the internet giants to pay more for creative content used on their platforms such as news, music or movies. A first draft of the law was rejected in July and the plans have been firmly opposed by US tech firms, as well as advocates of internet freedom who fear that the regulations could lead to higher costs for consumers. “Can the titans of the internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly ‘yes’,” the column said. The joint statement from the agencies, which are major suppliers of news, photos and video, said Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion (34 billion euros) in 2017 and profits of $16 billion, while Google made $12.7 billion on sales of $110 billion.

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Been here before. This time is wider and deeper.

The Emerging Market Crisis Is Back. And This Time It’s Serious (CNBC)

Markets have a very short attention span. Like babies, they move on quickly from one toy, or in this case an event, to another. For instance, markets seem to have moved on from the formation of the “Fragile Five,” a group of countries that suffered heavily when the U.S. Federal Reserve started to roll back its bond-buying program in 2013. Made up of Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa, this group was marked by heavy currency depreciation, high current account deficits and political instability at home. The slump in commodity prices and fears of a Chinese slowdown kept the pressure on these economies. However, they have started to see a comeback; in India and Indonesia, for example, a change in government has led to political and economic reforms.

Investors started crowding this space and inflows into funds with exposure to these markets increased. But markets are feeling a sense of deja vu. Blame it on a stronger dollar, escalating tensions since President Donald Trump came to power, worries over a full-fledged trade war with China or rising interest rates in the U.S., this time around the crisis seems to have entered a new phase. The damage is far more widespread. The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.

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“..the rise of the rule of man begins to squeeze out the rule of law..”

Bringing Up The Bodies in Emerging Markets (Napier)

Investors brought up in the developed world take for granted the stability and continuation of the rule of law. They expect it to be as available and constant as air. Anyway, what role can a consideration of the rule of law play in trying to obtain index beating quarterly returns? It is this myopia and not the myopia associated with the short-term dumping of assets, because they are labelled ‘emerging markets’, that is particularly dangerous. The history of emerging markets is the history of populism, the real populism that subverts human rights and property rights. On the rise in emerging markets, this populism is resulting in a growing exodus of what are now very large sums, even in global terms, of local savings.

It is the shift in local savings, more so than foreign savings, that is pushing emerging market exchange rates to ever lower levels. It is not the flighty financial capital seeking slightly better interest rate differentials that departs in situations like this. It is the financial capital that funds development and growth that flees, as the rise of the rule of man begins to squeeze out the rule of law. The loss of such capital has profound long-term economic impacts. There is a key reason why the strong men are on the rise and the rule of law on the decline: the world is failing to inflate away its debts. Even before we invented paper money, there was a well recognized method of inflating away debts.

Perhaps most famously Henry VIII’s so-called great debasement (1544-1551) inflated away the excessive debts run up to fund wars with France and Scotland, as well as a bit of lavish spending by the king himself. Your analyst meets investors almost every day who believe that inflation is currently playing a similar role. However, such an assertion ignores the fact that the global non-financial debt to GDP ratio is now 244% up from what seemed a dangerous level of 210% of GDP as the global economy peaked in December 2007.

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A nation that hasn’t moved in decades.

Brexit Is The Wrong Diagnosis Of A Real Crisis (LSE)

The Leave campaign in 2016 had a lot in common with the 1979 Conservative election manifesto. Both evoked the threat of a bureaucratic super-state and something approaching a conspiracy of that state against the public. Both promised to rescue a Greater Britain from the conspiratorial political forces that were holding it back. Both campaigns were a misdiagnosis of the real crisis at hand. This time we face a crisis of ungovernability potentially far more severe than that of the 1970s; but its roots are less in Europe than in the failures of the homegrown neoliberal reforms of the British state.

The last three decades of state reform in Western democracies have aggravated rather than resolved the social divisions that emerged with de-industrialisation. Over the last thirty years, liberal market economies in general and the UK in particular have transformed the character of their states through privatization and outsourcing, through the development of quasi markets in welfare, and the rejection of industrial policies. At the same time, permissive tax and regulatory regimes have encouraged large corporations to opt out of their former social obligations in the name of maximising shareholder value.

The ‘supply-side revolution’ of the last thirty years was driven by the dominant New Right diagnosis of the economic crises of the 1970s and based on the radical public choice economics aligned with the Chicago and Virginia schools. According to this diagnosis it was the state that was primarily responsible for the end of the post-war ‘golden age of growth’ because of its inhibition of the market. Thus, according to the New Right and later New Labour too, it wasn’t technological change, or de-industrialisation in the face of emerging markets, it wasn’t the Nixon shock, or the end of Bretton Woods, nor rising exchange rate instability, it wasn’t stagflation or the oil crises that had confronted the country with a need to re-evaluate its production regime. It was the state. And so it was the state, above all else, that had to be transformed.

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But still there’s “A wave of African nations seeking to restructure their debt with China”. Care to explain?

China Says It Is Helping Africa Develop, Not Accumulate Debt (R.)

China is helping Africa achieve development, not accumulate debt, a top Chinese official said on Tuesday, as the government pushes back against criticism it is loading the continent with an unsustainable burden during a major summit in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged funds of $60 billion to African nations at the opening of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, matching the size of the financing package offered at the last summit in Johannesburg in 2015. A wave of African nations seeking to restructure their debt with China has served as a reality check for Beijing’s relationship with the continent, though most countries still see Chinese lending as the best bet to develop their economies.

“If we take a closer look at these African countries that are heavily in debt, China is not their main creditor,” China’s special envoy for Africa, Xu Jinghu, told a news conference. “It’s senseless and baseless to shift the blame onto China for debt problems.” China would carefully choose projects that avoid causing debt problems when pushing forward with Xi’s pledges to Africa, she added. “When we cooperate with African countries we will conscientiously and fully carry out feasibility studies, to choose which projects can go ahead. These projects will take into account their development prospects so as to help African countries achieve sustainable development and avoid debt or financial problems.”

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“The shale oil “miracle” was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates..”

The Uncomfortable Hiatus (Kunstler)

Energy: The shale oil “miracle” was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday (The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground). For all that, the shale oil producers still couldn’t make money at it. If interest rates go up, the industry will choke on the debt it has already accumulated and lose access to new loans. If the Fed reverses its current course — say, to rescue the stock and bond markets — then the shale oil industry has perhaps three more years before it collapses on a geological basis, maybe less. After that, we’re out of tricks. It will affect everything. The perceived solution is to run all our stuff on electricity, with the electricity produced by other means than fossil fuels, so-called alt energy.

This will only happen on the most limited basis and perhaps not at all. (And it is apart from the question of the decrepit electric grid itself.) What’s required is a political conversation about how we inhabit the landscape, how we do business, and what kind of business we do. The prospect of dismantling suburbia — or at least moving out of it — is evidently unthinkable. But it’s going to happen whether we make plans and policies, or we’re dragged kicking and screaming away from it. Corporate tyranny: The nation is groaning under despotic corporate rule. The fragility of these operations is moving toward criticality. As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale.

Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods. The implosion of national chain retail is already underway. Amazon is not the answer, because each Amazon sales item requires a separate truck trip to its destination, and that just doesn’t square with our energy predicament. We’ve got to rebuild main street economies and the layers of local and regional distribution that support them. That’s where many jobs and careers are.

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In the most corrupt places on earth, Monsanto can do what it wants.

Brazil Court Lifts Ban On Monsanto’s Glyphosate Weedkiller (AFP)

An appellate court on Monday lifted a court-ordered suspension of licenses in Brazil for products containing glyphosate, an industrial weedkiller in common use in Latin America’s agricultural powerhouse. Federal appeals court judge Kassio Marques ruled that “nothing justified” the suspension by a lower court, saying it had been abruptly imposed “without previous analysis of the grave impact it would have on the country’s economy and on production in general.” The suspension, which had been ordered August 3 by a federal judge in Brasilia, was supposed to go into effect on Monday until a “toxicological re-evaluation” of all products containing glyphosate could be completed by Brazil’s sanitary authority.

The ban also was to have extended to products containing the chemicals thiram and abamectin. Glyphosate is used in weedkillers like Roundup, made by Monsanto, whose parent company Bayer had urged that the ban be scrapped. Bayer hailed the suspension as “very good news for Brazilian farmers.” It comes just weeks after a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to a dying former school groundskeeper for failing to warn him of the risk that Roundup might cause cancer.

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Feb 252017
 
 February 25, 2017  Posted by at 9:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Saturday afternoon, Pittsboro, North Carolina 1939

 

Trump An ‘Idiot’ On China, ‘No Clue What Currency Manipulation Means’ (CNBC)
The Fiscal Horror Show Playing Soon in Washington (Stockman)
Homeland Security Report Disputes Threat From 7 Banned Nations (AP)
Multiple News Outlets Denied Access To White House Press Briefing (G.)
Tsipras Says The Era Of Austerity In Greece Is Over (AP)
Transcript Of IMF Press Briefing Thursday, February 23, 2017 (IMF)
Toronto Housing Market May Need Vancouver-Style Cooling (BBG)
Just As Neoliberalism Is Finally On Its Knees, So Too Is The Left (G.)
Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists (Spiegel)
Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons (NN Taleb)

 

 

From one of Reagan’s main economic advisers.

Trump An ‘Idiot’ On China, ‘No Clue What Currency Manipulation Means’ (CNBC)

President Donald Trump may think the Chinese are the “grand champions” of currency manipulation, but he’s wrong, expert John Rutledge told CNBC on Friday. “Trump is an idiot on this. He has no clue what currency manipulation means,” the chief investment officer of global investment firm Safanad said in an interview with “Closing Bell.” During the campaign, Trump accused China of keeping its yuan currency artificially low against the U.S. dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper, “stealing” American manufacturing jobs. On Thursday, the president told Reuters he has not “held back” in his assessment, despite not acting on a pledge to declare the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office. “Well they, I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens.”

However, earlier Thursday Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC he wasn’t ready to pass judgment on China’s currency practices. “We have a process within Treasury where we go through and look at currency manipulation across the board. We’ll go through that process. We’ll do that as we have in the past. We’re not making any judgments until we continue that process,” he told “Squawk Box.” Rutledge, who was one of the principal architects of President Ronald Reagan’s economic plan, said China is actually trying to support its currency. “Chinese authorities have actually sold a trillion dollars’ worth of foreign reserves in the last year to support their currency that’s trying to fall because Chinese nationals are trying to get their money out of China,” he said. That is anti-manipulation.”

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It’s all about the debt ceiling.

The Fiscal Horror Show Playing Soon in Washington (Stockman)

The Deep State’s coup against Donald Trump is palpable. So count it as another element of reality to which Wall Street and its raging robo-machines and day traders are blind as bats. After all, they are essentially “pricing-in” the most successful presidency in modern times on the economic front. The Trump Stimulus was even supposed to be “in like Flynn” in time to boost corporate earnings materially in 2017. But it has already transpired that the Flynn in question was named Mike, not Errol; and the conquest was not that of a swashbuckling outsider who quickly had his way with the Imperial City, but the doings of resident swamp creatures bent on turning back the Donald’s unwelcome challenge.

So in a matter of weeks or months at most, Trump will be struggling to survive, while the giant fiscal stimulus that has Wall Street all bulled-up will amount to a heap of ruins scattered about a debilitating political war zone on Capitol Hill. I never thought the vaunted Trump tax cut and infrastructure boom would see the light of day in their own right, of course, because the Donald is caught in an inherited debt trap that he does not yet even dimly appreciate. Yet with each passing day, the magnitude of the trap materially enlarges. As of the Daily Treasury Statement for February 17, for example, the public debt was $19.895 trillion compared to $18.99 trillion on the same date a year ago. When you factor in a slight gain in the Treasury’s cash balance to $262 billion, the math speaks for itself.

During the past year Uncle Sam’s “cash burn rate” was nearly $75 billion per month. That means Washington actually consumed $885 billion of cash during the last 365 days — or far more than implied by the official budget deficit of $587 billion for the fiscal year just ended (FY 2016). It also means that once the tax collection season ends in April, it will be Katie-bar-the-door time on the debt ceiling front. When the latter becomes frozen into place on March 15 after the insidious Boehner-Obama debt ceiling “holiday” expires, there will not be enough cash to last the summer — even if the Treasury resorts to the usual gimmicks, such as temporarily divesting the trust funds. So let this part be crystal clear. What is coming down the track is the mother of all debt ceiling showdowns and the virtual certainty of government shutdowns and deferred payments to states, contractors and even some transfer payment beneficiaries.

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Funny, but not new. They can always deflect criticism be saying it was an Obama list.

Homeland Security Report Disputes Threat From 7 Banned Nations (AP)

Analysts at the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States. A draft document obtained by The Associated Press concludes that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to the United States and that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since Syria’s civil war started in 2011. Trump cited terrorism concerns as the primary reason he signed the sweeping temporary travel ban in late January, which also halted the U.S. refugee program. A federal judge in Washington state blocked the government from carrying out the order earlier this month.

Trump said Friday a new edict would be announced soon. The administration has been working on a new version that could withstand legal challenges. Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen on Friday did not dispute the report’s authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government’s intelligence. “While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you’re referencing was commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing,” Christensen said. “The … report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete.”

The Homeland Security report is based on unclassified information from Justice Department press releases on terrorism-related convictions and attackers killed in the act, State Department visa statistics, the 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment from the U.S. intelligence community and the State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2015. The three-page report challenges Trump’s core claims. It said that of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half were U.S. citizens born in the United States. The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven nations included in the ban.

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It’s one way to change the conversation. C’mon, guys, you’ll be let back in soon.

Multiple News Outlets Denied Access To White House Press Briefing (G.)

The White House barred several news organizations from an off-camera press briefing on Friday, handpicking a select group of reporters that included a number of conservative outlets friendly toward Donald Trump. The “gaggle” with Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, took place in lieu of his daily briefing and was originally scheduled as an on-camera event. But the White House press office announced later in the day that the Q&A session would take place off camera before only an “expanded pool” of journalists, and in Spicer’s West Wing office as opposed to the James S Brady press briefing room where it is typically held. Outlets seeking to gain entry whose requests were denied included the Guardian, the New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Daily Mail and others.

Conservative publications such as Breitbart News, the One America News Network and the Washington Times were allowed into the meeting, as well as TV networks CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC. The Associated Press and Time were invited but boycotted the briefing. The decision to limit access to Spicer, hours after Trump once again declared that much of the media was “the enemy of the American people” while speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, marked a dramatic shift. While prior administrations have occasionally held background briefings with smaller groups of reporters, it is highly unusual for the White House to cherry-pick which media outlets can participate in what would have otherwise been the press secretary’s televised daily briefing.

The briefing has become indispensable viewing for journalists trying to interpret the often contradictory statements coming out of the Trump administration, and Spicer’s aggressive handling of the press and delivery of false or misleading statements have already been memorably mocked on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. “Gaggles” – more informal briefings – with the press secretary are traditionally only limited to the pool when they conflict with the president’s travel, in which case they often take place aboard Air Force One. At times, impromptu gaggles form with reporters who spend their days in the White House, but denying outlets wishing to participate is extremely uncommon.

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Don’t believe it for a second.

Tsipras Says The Era Of Austerity In Greece Is Over (AP)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the era of austerity is over for his country, painting a positive picture Friday of reforms the country has agreed to take after its latest bailout program ends in 2018. Speaking in parliament, Tsipras described the deal reached Monday as an “exceptional success” and said it showed the country’s creditors accepted Greeces insistence that it could no longer bear any further budget austerity. “I am fully convinced we achieved an honorable compromise,” Tsipras said, adding that all sides at the eurozone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels had agreed for the “first time after seven years … to leave the path of continued austerity behind us.”

On Monday, Greece agreed to legislate new reforms to come into effect in 2019, but said these will be fiscally neutral: for every euros worth of new burdens on the Greek taxpayer, an equal amount of relief will be granted. In return, Greeces creditors agreed to send their bailout inspectors back to Athens next week for further talks to complete a long overdue review of progress made in Greeces bailout. Tsipras said both creditor-requested new measures and government-proposed relief measures will be legislated at the same time, and that therefore there was no conditionality for the relief measures. The prime minister’s left-led coalition government, trailing in polls, has presented the deal as a decisive, positive step forward for austerity-weary Greeks hammered by seven years of a financial crisis that plunged the country into an economic depression.

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I found this very interesting. Looks like the IMF has never truly looked at whether being part of the euro is best for Greece. Why not? It’s not as if they only do what countries want. Whose interests is the IMF really defending here?

Part of transcript of a press briefing with Gerry Rice, IMF Director of Communications, and reporters.

Transcript Of IMF Press Briefing Thursday, February 23, 2017 (IMF)

QUESTIONER: Gerry, help me to understand how the IMF weighs a member country’s interests, economic interests when it is in a monetary union, when the interests may be that it be out of a monetary union. I haven’t seen any analysis by the IMF about the pros and cons, economic pros and cons of Greece exiting the euro. And it seems to me that Madame Lagarde has expressed herself as a pro euro and a pro EU advocate. So help me to understand, one, why we haven’t seen any economic analysis to defend the IMF’s position to not counsel Greece for exiting the euro or – and two, how it weighs this decision when obviously other member countries who are not in a program want Greece to stay in the euro. Do you understand where I’m getting at? I just haven’t seen any analysis from the IMF to defend or argue either case.

MR. RICE: You know, the amount of economic analysis that we’ve undertaken on Greece over the last seven years, you probably know as well as anyone, is voluminous. So, you know, I think there’s plenty out there to analyze and digest. [..] So, you know, on the question of Greece being a member of the eurozone and the monetary union, you know, it’s been Greece’s explicit objective to retain its membership of the eurozone. It’s been one of its priority objectives since the very beginning. It’s been also a priority objective of the other eurozone members. So, you know, in terms of how we weigh our service and support to a member country, you know, these are obviously important factors that we take into account, and we have taken those into account and are trying to support and service the member as best we can in that context.

QUESTIONER: But, if I may follow up, Gerry. There are cases in which a member country is explicitly – to use your language – has an explicit objective to do for economic policies that the IMF believes to not be in that member country’s economic interests or in the global economic interest. And it speaks truth to power, and yet there has been no analysis to argue why Greece should remain part of the euro or why it shouldn’t. And to me that’s a fundamental economic argument, since you’re talking about internal devaluation versus a nominal exchange rate devaluation. I mean, that’s at the heart of the problem. So can you tell me why the IMF hasn’t at least published its analysis or any analysis on why Greece should remain in the euro or should exit as a part of its truth-telling economic advice to a member country?

MR. RICE: Well, you know, again I think there’s been plenty of analysis of Greece’s economic situation and how the IMF assesses what is in Greece’s best interests. And, you know, I just think there’s voluminous information on that. And –

QUESTIONER: If you can point me to the – and respectfully, I appreciate your patience and me interrupting you – but if you can point me to the voluminous analysis of Greece – which I admit is voluminous, it will probably fill several volumes in fact, several history books, but I have seen in none of it that I am aware of any analysis of the pros and cons of Greece staying or exiting the eurozone.

MR. RICE: [..] I’ll come back to you, but I do believe there is actually a lot of analysis where you can clearly distill what the IMF’s view is as being in Greece’s best economic interest. I would include in that the many staff reports and, in particular, these ex post evaluation studies that we have done that, again, I can point you to some of this material afterwards. But I do think there’s plenty of material.

QUESTIONER: I just want to follow up on Ian’s question and maybe have another question if you don’t mind. Maybe you can clarify do you think – does the IMF think that it’s in Greece’s best interest to retain its membership in the eurozone? And the second question has to do with the timeline entry, because you mentioned the fact that the discussion on the debt will take place following the discussion on reforms. So should we assume that this discussion on the debt relief won’t start before the second review is completed?

MR. RICE: Yes, I don’t have the timing on the completion of the second review. Again, I want to revert to my formulation. Before we would be able – we, the IMF – would be able to, you know, make a commitment on our participation in the program, we would need to have the discussion of both policies and debt relief, and beyond the discussion, credible commitments in which we have confidence. So that’s the way I would like to formulate that.

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Been saying that forever. But as we saw last week, Toronto’s entire budget is based on high and rising house prices.

Toronto Housing Market May Need Vancouver-Style Cooling (BBG)

Toronto may require measures to cool its red-hot housing market similar to moves taken in Vancouver if interest rates don’t increase, said Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Officer David McKay. The head of Canada’s largest lender said Toronto housing is “running hot” and is fueled by a “concerning mix of drivers” that include lack of supply, continued low rates, rising foreign money and speculative activity. Similar circumstances in Vancouver prompted British Columbia’s government last year to impose a 15% tax on foreign buyers. “In the absence of being able to use higher rates to reduce that, I do think we’re going to at some point have to consider similar measures to slow down the housing price growth,” McKay said Friday in a telephone interview.

The comments from the bank CEO come as frustration grows over the unaffordability of properties in Canada’s biggest city. The average home price in Toronto jumped 22% in January from the previous year, the fifth straight month of gains topping 20%. Listings have dropped off, down by half from last year, squeezing prices further. The CEOs of Canada’s other big banks last year called on the government to increase housing regulation amid skyrocketing prices in Vancouver and Toronto. National Bank of Canada CEO Louis Vachon said that minimum downpayments should return to 10% from 5%, while Bank of Nova Scotia head Brian Porter suggested his company was pulling back on mortgage lending due to concern about high home prices in those two cities.

Vancouver, once Canada’s fastest-paced home market and now supplanted by Toronto, has seen slowing sales after several regulatory moves. In August, British Columbia added a 15% tax to home purchases by non-Canadians after they were found to have bought more than C$1 billion ($760 million) in property in a five-week period. The city of Vancouver in January began taxing empty homes and plans to further regulate short-term rentals. Since the tax was imposed in Vancouver, monthly transactions in the metro region fell on average by 36% compared to a year earlier, according to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Prices for prized single-family detached homes had been rising in double digits last year. In the past six months, they’ve fallen 6.6% to an average C$1.47 million, according to board figures released earlier this month.

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The left largely has itself become part of neoliberalism. Ergo: there is no left, left, other than in name.

Just As Neoliberalism Is Finally On Its Knees, So Too Is The Left (G.)

The 10th anniversary of the global financial crisis looms this year, which means it’s almost a decade since neoliberal economics began to fall apart. The crisis spawned a global recession, the near collapse of global finance and the subsequent eurozone crisis as governments incurred huge debts amid efforts to rescue the hapless banking industry. The then Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, observed in the immediate aftermath: The current crisis is the culmination of a 30-year domination of economic policy by a free-market ideology that has been variously called neoliberalism, economic liberalism, economic fundamentalism, Thatcherism or the Washington consensus. The central thrust of this ideology has been that government activity should be constrained, and ultimately replaced, by market forces.

The global recession that followed was the worst in 70 years and its effects continue to be felt in many developed countries. Australia was one of the fortunate few to avoid a recession, thanks to enormous government-funded stimulus packages and the continuation of an unprecedented mining boom. Nevertheless, economic activity has been sluggish ever since, job growth has stalled, wage growth has collapsed and inequality is on the rise. And yet in 2017, just as neoliberalism is on its knees, so too is the left. It matters not whether we are describing social democrats, socialists, the hard left or the moderate left. A swath of populist extreme rightwing forces is sweeping through many developed countries. Europe now resembles a graveyard for social democracy. How did it come to this?

First and foremost, there is incompetence. Neoliberal economics, a creation of the right and embraced to varying degrees by social democrats, has dominated western politics for nigh on four decades. Its mantras of deregulation, privatisation and cutting tax for the wealthy and corporations have been exhausted, if not discredited. There are only so many assets that can be privatised and, as the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, has noted, replacing a public-sector monopoly with a private-sector monopoly has simply driven up prices. The fetish for deregulation and tax cutting has caused immense harm – for consumers, for workers and for governments seeking to provide services demanded of them but hampered by inadequate revenue.

It is not just Pope Francis who has called for major reform of the economic system. The World Economic Forum, which met in January, advocated “fundamental reforms to market capitalism to tackle inequality”. In doing so, it echoed statements of the IMF and World Bank, formerly strong advocates of the neoliberal agenda.

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Legal schmegal. If they can do it, they will. All of them. Question: is this worse than banning them?

Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists (Spiegel)

According to documents seen by SPIEGEL, the BND conducted surveillance on at least 50 additional telephone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses belonging to journalists or newsrooms around the world in the years following 1999. Included among them were more than a dozen connections belonging to the BBC, often to the offices of the international World Service. The documents indicate that the German intelligence agency didn’t just tap into the phones of BBC correspondents in Afghanistan, but also targeted telephone and fax numbers at BBC headquarters in London. A phone number belonging to the New York Times in Afghanistan was also on the BND list, as were several mobile and satellite numbers belonging to the news agency Reuters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

The German spies also conducted surveillance on the independent Zimbabwean newspaper Daily News before dictator Robert Mugabe banned it for seven years in 2003. Other numbers on the list belonged to news agencies from Kuwait, Lebanon and India in addition to journalist associations in Nepal and Indonesia. Journalists in Germany enjoy far-reaching protection against state meddling. They enjoy similar legal protection to lawyers, doctors and priests: occupations that require secrecy. Journalists have the right to refuse to testify in court in order to protect their sources. German law forbids the country’s domestic intelligence agency from conducting surveillance on persons who have that right.

The German chapter of Reporters without Borders says that the BND’s systematic surveillance of journalists is an “egregious attack on press freedoms” and “a new dimension of constitutional violation.” Christian Mihr, head of the German chapter of Reporters without Borders, says that press freedom “is not a right granted by the graciousness of the German government, it is an inviolable human right that also applies to foreign journalists.” The allegations come as the German parliamentary investigative committee focusing on U.S. spying in Germany is completing its inquiry. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who appeared before the committee last Thursday, was the last witness called and now the committee members are working on their closing report. But even as the committee also addressed extensive BND spying, the surveillance of journalists was only a fringe issue.

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Things are not what they seem.

Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons (NN Taleb)

Say you had the choice between two surgeons of similar rank in the same department in some hospital. The first is highly refined in appearance; he wears silver-rimmed glasses, has a thin built, delicate hands, a measured speech, and elegant gestures. His hair is silver and well combed. He is the person you would put in a movie if you needed to impersonate a surgeon. His office prominently boasts an Ivy League diploma, both for his undergraduate and medical schools. The second one looks like a butcher; he is overweight, with large hands, uncouth speech and an unkempt appearance. His shirt is dangling from the back. No known tailor in the East Coast of the U.S. is capable of making his shirt button at the neck. He speaks unapologetically with a strong New Yawk accent, as if he wasn’t aware of it. He even has a gold tooth showing when he opens his mouth.

The absence of diploma on the wall hints at the lack of pride in his education: he perhaps went to some local college. In a movie, you would expect him to impersonate a retired bodyguard for a junior congressman, or a third-generation cook in a New Jersey cafeteria. Now if I had to pick, I would overcome my suckerproneness and take the butcher any minute. Even more: I would seek the butcher as a third option if my choice was between two doctors who looked like doctors. Why? Simply the one who doesn’t look the part, conditional of having made a (sort of) successful career in his profession, had to have much to overcome in terms of perception. And if we are lucky enough to have people who do not look the part, it is thanks to the presence of some skin in the game, the contact with reality that filters out incompetence, as reality is blind to looks.

When the results come from dealing directly with reality rather than through the agency of commentators, image matters less, even if it correlates to skills. But image matters quite a bit when there is hierarchy and standardized “job evaluation”. Consider the chief executive officers of corporations: they not just look the part, but they even look the same. And, worse, when you listen to them talk, they will sound the same, down to the same vocabulary and metaphors. But that’s their jobs: as I keep reminding the reader, counter to the common belief, executives are different from entrepreneurs and are supposed to look like actors.

Now there may be some correlation between looks and skills; but conditional on having had some success in spite of not looking the part is potent, even crucial, information. So it becomes no wonder that the job of chief executive of the country, that is, the president, was once filled by a former actor, Ronald Reagan. Actually, the best actor is the one nobody realizes is an actor: a closer look at the record and the activity shows that Barack Obama was even more of an actor: a fancy Ivy-League education combined with a liberal reputation is compelling as an image builder. (In fact much as President Trump has going for him is that he doesn’t act as a president).

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Feb 052017
 
 February 5, 2017  Posted by at 8:59 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Hugo Simberg The Wounded Angel 1903

 

US Appeals Court Denies Request To Restore Trump’s Immigration Ban (R.)
DHS Suspends Actions On Travel Ban; ‘Standard Policy’ Now In Effect (R.)
Trump Tells O’Reilly He ‘Respects’ Putin in Super Bowl Interview (Fox)
As Trump Weighs Thaw With Putin, EU Set to Renew Its Blacklist (BBG)
Goldman Throws Cold Water On Trump Agenda (CNBC)
Economists Say Action On Carbon Is Vital, Or Say Nothing At All (Age)
Japan – It’s Finally Happening (Muir)
Le Pen Kicks Off Campaign With Promise Of French ‘Freedom’ (R.)
Theresa May Abandons ‘Home Owning Democracy’ of Thatcher and Tories (G.)
Attention Trade Warriors: Germany’s Surplus is on the Wane (BBG)
Dennis Kucinich Rages Against The Military-Industrial-Complex (FB)
NATO, Not Russia, Has Deployed Tanks To Poland & Baltic States – Galloway (RT)
Varoufakis Calls on PM Tspiras to Ditch Bailout Restructuring (GR)
Varoufakis Urges Tsipras To Ditch Negotiations, Adopt “Parallel System” (KTG)
UK: Refugees Heading To Europe To Be Sent To Asia And Latin America (Ind.)

 

 

It was always going to the Supreme Court. More interesting right now is how strongly this is dividing the White House team. Kelly refused to enact some of Bannon’s demands. Tillerson and Mattis are not sitting comfortable either. And the legal team has gained in standing, a lot. Trump cannot afford too many of these snags, even if they love the attention and controversy coming from it. All in all, a good thing that the legal system gets tested, never a thing to fall asleep on.

US Appeals Court Denies Request To Restore Trump’s Immigration Ban (R.)

A U.S. appeal court late on Saturday denied an emergency appeal from the U.S. Department of Justice to restore an immigration order from President Donald Trump barring citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries and temporarily banning refugees. “Appellants’ request for an immediate administrative stay pending full consideration of the emergency motion for a stay pending appeal is denied,” the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said. It said a reply from the Department in support of the emergency appeal was due on Monday. The Department filed the appeal a day after a federal judge in Seattle ordered Trump’s travel ban to be lifted. The president’s Jan. 27 order had barred admission of citizens from the seven nations for 90 days.

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Law.

DHS Suspends Actions On Travel Ban; ‘Standard Policy’ Now In Effect (R.)

A Seattle federal judge on Friday put a nationwide block on U.S. President Donald Trump’s week-old executive order that had temporarily barred refugees and nationals from seven countries from entering the United States. The judge’s temporary restraining order represents a major setback for Trump’s action, though the White House said late Friday that it believed the ban to be “lawful and appropriate” and that the U.S. Department of Justice would file an emergency appeal. As a result of the ruling, the Department of Homeland Security suspended its enforcement of the ban, announcing on Saturday that “standard policy and procedures” were now in effect. “In accordance with the judge’s ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” DHS said in a statement.

“DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure,” it stated, adding that the Justice Department would file an emergency stay to “defend the president’s executive order, which is lawful and appropriate.” The move came on the heels of the State Department announcing it was reversing the revocation of visas that left countless travelers stranded at airports last weekend. The move all but ensures a protracted public and legal battle over one of Trump’s most controversial policies, barely two weeks after he was inaugurated. Early Saturday morning, Trump criticised the ruling as “ridiculous” and warned of big trouble if a country could not control its borders.

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Quite right. Putin bashing is a losing strategy.

Trump Tells O’Reilly He ‘Respects’ Putin in Super Bowl Interview (Fox)

On Sunday, Bill O’Reilly will hold a special Super Bowl pre-game interview with President Trump at 4 p.m. ET on your local FOX broadcast station. In a special preview, Trump revealed his plans for dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. O’Reilly asked Trump whether he “respects” the former KGB agent: “I do respect him, but I respect a lot of people,” Trump said, “That doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.” Trump said he would appreciate any assistance from Russia in the fight against ISIS terrorists, adding that he would rather get along with the former Cold War-era foe than otherwise. “But, [Putin] is a killer,” O’Reilly said. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded, “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

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For the EU, like NATO, Putin bashing is the only thing left that provides a reason to be. That’s just dangerous.

As Trump Weighs Thaw With Putin, EU Set to Renew Its Blacklist (BBG)

The European Union plans to renew asset freezes and travel bans against key allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin who are accused of destabilizing Ukraine, at a time when Donald Trump is weighing warmer ties with Moscow. Four EU officials said member governments intend by mid-March to prolong the sanctions for another six months on more than 100 Ukrainians and Russians. Among them: Arkady Rotenberg, co-owner of SMP Bank and InvestCapitalBank, and Yury Kovalchuk, the biggest shareholder in Bank Rossiya, the Brussels-based officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential. Trump, who had a phone call with Putin on Jan. 28, has left open the possibility of easing the U.S.’s sanctions against Russia.

Former President Barack Obama drew up the American penalties in coordination with the 28-nation EU after Putin annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014 and lent support to separatist rebels. “The Europeans are waiting to see what hand grenade Trump throws into the Russia-Ukraine pond,” Michael Emerson, a foreign-policy expert at the CEPS think tank in Brussels, said by phone. With the asset freezes and travel bans due to expire on March 15, “European politicians and diplomats will be cautious and stick to the status quo,” he said. The planned renewal of the blacklist highlights the EU’s political commitment to a policy that Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande guided in step with Obama. The European sanctions against Russia resemble the U.S. penalties and include a separate set of curbs – prolonged for another six months just before Trump took office on Jan. 20 – on Russia’s financial, energy and defense industries.

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Volatility.

Goldman Throws Cold Water On Trump Agenda (CNBC)

The policy halo effect that provided ballast to the stock market and fueled investor optimism is already being dimmed by political realities, according to Goldman Sachs, which may have negative implications for economic growth. In a note to clients on Friday, the investment bank noted President Donald Trump’s agenda was already running into bipartisan political resistance, with doubts growing about potential tax reform and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, among other marquee Trump administration initiatives. Just two weeks into his tenure, “risks are less positively tilted than they appeared shortly after the election ,” Goldman wrote. Growing resistance to Trump’s executive orders on immigration and financial reform has galvanized opposition while dividing members of the president’s own Republican Party.

It has also curbed the enthusiasm of investors, who sent stocks on a roller-coaster ride this week as they struggled to reconcile the new restrictions on immigration with Trump’s professed pro-business bent. “While bipartisan cooperation looked possible on some issues following the election, the political environment appears to be as polarized as ever, suggesting that issues that require bipartisan support may be difficult to address,” the bank added. The balance of risks “are less positively tilted than they appeared shortly after the election,” Goldman said, which may blunt the force of future growth. Amid reports that top GOP members are reportedly becoming nervous about the impact of a full-fleged repeal of health care, that political pushback “does not bode well for reaching a quick agreement on tax reform or infrastructure funding, and reinforces our view that a fiscal boost, if it happens, is mostly a 2018 story.”

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Steve on Twitter: “Coulnd’t resist it: sanctimonious carbon price pap, & belief market can solve an ecological problem just baug me. So my satirical gene fired.”

Economists Say Action On Carbon Is Vital, Or Say Nothing At All (Age)

There is no consensus. Economists either believe it is vital that Australia becomes a low-carbon intensity economy, or that the issue is so unimportant – or perhaps that it is so politically divisive – that they choose not to volunteer an opinion. Asked about the importance of reducing the country’s carbon footprint and how best to do it, more than half of 27 economists from industry, consultancy, academia and finance questioned for the annual BusinessDay Scope survey agreed it was a must. Another 10 left the question blank. Whether this indicates a lack of interest or the contentious nature of climate change policy is unclear. But none of those who did answer made the case that cleaning up the economy did not matter. They overwhelmingly said action should be swift and include a market-based carbon pricing scheme.

[..] Steve Keen, of London’s Kingston University, made what – we think – was a similar point about the importance of climate action, albeit less conventionally. “Nah mate! Wassa matta, dontcha own a pair of budgie smugglers?” he wrote. “It’s all a conspiracy by Marxists anyway to undermine the Ostralyan way of life – you know, burning stuff and damn well enjoying it rather than whingeing. “A bit a coal never hurt anyone, matter of fact it tastes even better than a raw onion!”

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“I am shorting JGBs with both fists.”

Japan – It’s Finally Happening (Muir)

I still shake my head at the stupidity. One of the most overindebted countries in the history of modern finance trading with a 0% thirty year bond. Professor Malkiel – stick that in your pipe and smoke it. But into that panic a crazy thing happened. Worried its bonds would trade at negative yields and pressure the financial system, the Bank of Japan pegged its 10 year yield at 0%. In doing so, the Bank of Japan moved from a set rate of balance sheet expansion to one that varies based on whether that peg is either too high, or too low. If the equilibrium level of 10 year rates was in fact below 0%, the Bank of Japan would be forced to sell bonds to keep rates stuck at 0%. If there was demand for credit and 10 year rates moved higher, then the BoJ would be forced to buy bonds to keep them from declining.

The BoJ program was a little more nuanced, and there were some caveats, but at its heart, the BoJ was giving up control of its balance sheet so it could peg a specific part of the yield curve. Of course Central Banks do this all the time. The difference is they usually operate at the front part of the curve, and when there is too much demand or supply, they change the rate. When the Bank of Japan took this unprecedented step, I walked away from my short JGB position. I figured there were better fixed income markets to short. Yet I highlighted that by pegging the 10 year rate, the Bank of Japan had not eliminated volatility, but merely postponed it. Eventually the Bank of Japan’s massive balance sheet expansion would kick in. At that point, inflation would pick up, credit would be demanded and the Bank of Japan would be forced to defend the 0% peg.

Yet this defending would be expansionary as they would be forced to buy bonds and expand the amount of base money, which if not offset with a decline in the velocity of money, would create more inflation, etc… All of this would be occurring with an already highly supercharged Japanese Central Bank balance sheet. I have been sitting and waiting for this expansionary feedback loop to kickstart. Until recently, the Bank of Japan had not been forced to buy any bonds to keep the rate pegged at 0%. When 10 year rates drifted far enough above 0%, the Bank of Japan made a bid to buy an unlimited number of bonds at a level below the market, which scared the market back to the pegged level. But this week the market decided to test the BoJ’s resolve.

The JGB 10 Year bond spiked through the previous high yield on news the Bank of Japan would not be expanding their balance sheet quite as aggressively as expected in their regular QE program. As yields popped through the previous 0.10% yield ceiling, the Bank of Japan came charging into the market. The BoJ bid 3-4 basis points through the market with unlimited size to push yields back down to the 0.10% level. What does this mean? The market is finally saying the demand for credit is enough to force the Bank of Japan to buy bonds to keep rates down. And that was the signal I was waiting for. I am shorting JGBs with both fists. It probably won’t happen tomorrow, nor the next day. Heck it probably won’t even happen next month, but we have reached the point where I need to be short JGBs.

The pressure will continue to build and when it finally bursts, the torrent will be overwhelming and quick. Although many traders think they will be able to climb on board, it will most likely be extremely difficult – like jumping on a raft bouncing down a raging river, it always seems way easier than it is. I hate German bunds, but I now have a fixed income instrument I hate even more. I expect bund yields to double or even triple in the coming quarters, but JGBs will eventually trade significantly though bunds. It would be just like the Market Gods to finally usher in the JGBs collapse once all the hedge fund guys had given up on it…

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Count her out at your own peril.

Le Pen Kicks Off Campaign With Promise Of French ‘Freedom’ (R.)

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen kicked off her presidential campaign on Saturday with a promise to shield voters from globalization and make their country “free”, hoping to profit from political turmoil to score a Donald Trump-style upset. Opinion polls see the 48-year old daughter of National Front (FN) founder Jean-Marie Le Pen topping the first round on April 23 but then losing the May 7 run-off to a mainstream candidate. But in the most unpredictable election race France has known in decades, the FN hopes the scandal hitting conservative candidate Francois Fillon and the rise of populism across the West will help convince voters to back Le Pen. “We were told Donald Trump would never win in the United States against the media, against the establishment, but he won… We were told Marine Le Pen would not win the presidential election, but on May 7 she will win!” Jean-Lin Lacapelle, a top FN official, told several hundred party officials and members.

In 144 “commitments” published at the start of a two-day rally in Lyon, Le Pen proposes leaving the euro zone, holding a referendum on EU membership, slapping taxes on imports and on the job contracts of foreigners, lowering the retirement age and increasing several welfare benefits while lowering income tax. The manifesto also foresees reserving certain rights now available to all residents, including free education, to French citizens only, hiring 15,000 police, curbing migration and leaving NATO’s integrated command. “The aim of this program is first of all to give France its freedom back and give the people a voice,” Le Pen said in the introduction to the manifesto.

[..] “This presidential election puts two opposite proposals,” Le Pen said in her manifesto. “The ‘globalist’ choice backed by all my opponents … and the ‘patriotic’ choice which I personify.” If elected, Le Pen says she would immediately seek an overhaul of the European Union that would reduce it to a very loose cooperative of nations with no single currency and no border-free area. If, as is likely, France’s EU partners refuse to agree to this, she would call a referendum to leave the bloc.

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Horse barn.

Theresa May Abandons ‘Home Owning Democracy’ of Thatcher and Tories (G.)

A major shift in Tory housing policy in favour of people who rent will be announced by ministers this week as Theresa May’s government admits that home ownership is now out of reach for millions of families. In a departure from her predecessor David Cameron, who focused on advancing Margaret Thatcher’s ambition for a “home-owning democracy”, a white paper will aim to deliver more affordable and secure rental deals, and threaten tougher action against rogue landlords, for the millions of families unable to buy because of sky-high property prices. Ministers will say they want to change planning and other rules to ensure developers provide a proportion of new homes for “affordable rent” instead of just insisting that they provide a quota of “affordable homes for sale”.

They will also announce incentives to encourage landlords to offer “family-friendly” guaranteed three-year tenancies, new action to ban unscrupulous landlords who offer sub-standard properties, and a further consultation on banning many of the fees that are charged by letting agents. A senior Whitehall source said: “We want to help renters get more choice, a better deal and more secure tenancies.” They added that the government did not want to scare people off from renting out homes, but offer incentives to encourage best practice and isolate the worst landlords. By emphasising the rights of renters, as well as trying to boost house building, the white paper will mark a turning point for a party that since the 1980s, and the first council house sales, has promoted home ownership as a badge of success, while neglecting the interests of renters.

The Tory manifesto for the 2015 general election spelt out plans for 200,000 new “starter homes” that could be bought by first-time buyers at 20% discounts, but said little about promoting the interests and improving the lot of so-called “generation rent”. Cameron also pushed the idea of getting people on the housing ladder through shared ownership schemes, an idea that is no longer such a priority. The white paper will be seen as part of May’s deliberate break with Cameron, and her drive to create a country “that works for everyone, not just the privileged few”.

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Makes no difference anymore to Greece and Italy.

Attention Trade Warriors: Germany’s Surplus is on the Wane (BBG)

The Trump administration appears intent on escalating the long-standing U.S. practice of attacking Germany’s current-account surplus. Good news for those on the receiving end: It has probably peaked. As officials like National Trade Council director Peter Navarro rail against the trade imbalance that dominates the balance of payments between the two countries, pensioners, home-buyers and immigrants are quietly working to bring that $297 billion current-account surplus down. According to research by Deutsche Bank, demographics and a housing boom are two factors that will drive the current account balance – the difference between what a country earns from abroad and what it spends – to its lowest level in seven years by 2020.

That may offer little consolation to the German delegation when it hosts a Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers in March, as they’ll likely face intensified criticism for allowing such an imbalance to continue. Germany has long faced flak, both within the euro area and outside it, for failing to encourage greater domestic spending and imports to balance out its external excess. Still, while the weaker euro will continue to make German exports attractive in the U.S. – think expensive sedans, high-tech machinery – there are countervailing factors at play on the other side of the equation. “In the medium term we expect the demographic development and the solid domestic economy, driven by a sustained positive development on the property market, to push the surplus down to 7 percent of GDP,” Deutsche Bank economist Heiko Peters said by phone.

A rising share of pensioners in the German population, who normally have less money to save than people in jobs, will crimp household savings rates, while an increasing number of immigrants such as refugees will contribute to boosting German imports, Peters wrote in a study first published last year. And with housing valuations outpacing income and rent growth since 2009, home owners feel richer, save less toward retirement and borrow against their property. That leads to rising imports of building materials to fuel the property boom and increased demand for foreign consumer goods on the back of the wealth effect. 7% of GDP is still a mighty big number for an economy as large as Germany’s. “That’s still a relatively high level until 2020,” Peters says. “But an even greater demographic effect is then expected for 2020-2025, and the surplus should then decline clearly further.”

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Another ‘curious’ WaPo feat.

Dennis Kucinich Rages Against The Military-Industrial-Complex (FB)

I have dedicated my life to peace. As a member of Congress I led efforts to avert conflict and end wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iran. And yet those of us who work for peace are put under false scrutiny to protect Washington’s war machine. Those who undermine our national security by promoting military attacks and destroying other nations are held up as national leaders to admire. Recently Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and I took a Congressional Ethics-approved fact finding trip to Lebanon and Syria, where we visited Aleppo and refugee camps, and met with religious leaders, governmental leaders and people from all sides of the conflict, including political opposition to the Syrian government.

Since that time we have been under constant attack on false grounds. The media and the war establishment are desperate to keep hold of their false narrative for world-wide war, interventionism and regime change, which is a profitable business for Washington insiders and which impoverishes our own country. Today, Rep. Gabbard came under attack yet again by the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin who has been on a tear trying to ruin the reputations of the people and the organization who sponsored our humanitarian, fact-finding mission of peace to the Middle East. Rogin just claimed in a tweet that as community organization I have been associated with for twenty years does not exist. The organization is in my neighborhood. Here’s photos I took yesterday of AACCESS-Ohio’s marquee.

It clearly exists, despite the base, condescending assertions of Mr. Rogin. Enough of this dangerous pettiness. Let’s dig in to what is really going on, inside Syria, in the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon. In the words of President Eisenhower, let’s beware (and scrutinize) the military-industrial-complex. It is time to be vigilant for our democracy.


These leaders of the Christian faith in Aleppo begged for the US to stop funding terrorists in #Syria. They expressed that before international interventions (covert and overt) Syrians lived in peace without concern as to whether they were Christian, Muslim or Jew.

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Line of the day: “Why are we spending £160bn on renewing Trident when we now know its missiles are more likely to hit Australia if they were aimed at Russia?..”

NATO, Not Russia, Has Deployed Tanks To Poland & Baltic States – Galloway (RT)

British Defense Secretary speech on “Russian threat” is a desperate attempt to “save jobs and budgets” for the Cold War crowd, which is worried the new US leader will not consider Russia an enemy, broadcaster and former British MP George Galloway told RT. Addressing a group of university students, the UK’s defense secretary Michael Fallon warned of a resurgent Russia and said that it is becoming aggressive. RT: What did you make of Michael Fallon’s speech? George Galloway: Well, Michael Fallon puts the ‘squeak’ in the word ‘pipsqueak.’ He is of course the defense minister of a small and semi-detached European power with not much military prowess and which wants to feel big about itself.

And these people, and he’s not alone – the military industrial complex in the United States is up to the same game – they are desperately thrashing around to save their jobs, to save their budgets, to save their roles as muscle-men in the world. And Fallon got used to, as did other European powers, going around the world, threatening people with America’s army. Now America’s army is not quite so reliable, because America has a President who might not want to use the army in the way that these people want him to, at least one hopes not. And so they desperately seek to continually exacerbate the existing tensions with Russia to defend their own relevance. The people are asking, “What’s NATO for?”

The people are asking, “Why are we spending £160bn on renewing Trident when we now know its missiles are more likely to hit Australia if they were aimed at Russia? And in any case Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons, and we only a handful.” So it’s all pretty pitiful, actually. Right down to the audience of university students, hoping that none of them would challenge him. I’d like him to debate these matters with me, he knows me well, he comes from the same town in Scotland as me. I’d really love to get my metaphorical hands on him to have some of these matters out. The truth is that the European Union is having to come to terms with the fact that the US now has a President that doesn’t want war with Russia and they – who have built their entire 50-60 years of history on the possibility of war with Russia – are all at sea, except we don’t have that many battleships left either.

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Greece turning into an impoverished prison camp is a feature not a bug.

Varoufakis Calls on PM Tspiras to Ditch Bailout Restructuring (GR)

Yanis Varoufakis wrote in an op-ed in Efimerida ton Syntakton on Saturday. The former finance minister called on Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras to adopt a plan originally proposed by Varoufakis while he was still in office. The plan would unilaterally restructure the loans the ECB holds. In addition according to BitCoin Magazine and reiterated in the former FM’s op-ed a payment system that could operate in euros but which could be changed into drachmas “overnight” if necessary would be implemented along with a parallel payment system. “This two-pronged preparation is the only way to prevent another excruciating retreat by the prime minister in the short-term and [German Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schaeuble’s plan in the long-term,” Varoufakis wrote. Varoufakis has been a vocal protester to Greek bailout plans and restructuring as it stands now, hence his resignation. He firmly believes that the current plan could lead to Greece leaving the Eurozone of their own accord.

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More on that. “In reality there was never a basis for hope that the toxic 3rd bailout would be gradually rationalized, in terms that the European Commission would support Athens so that the austerity and anti-social IMF measures would relax..”

Varoufakis Urges Tsipras To Ditch Negotiations, Adopt “Parallel System” (KTG)

Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis strikes back and urges Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to turn his back on Greece’s lenders, adopt a parallel payment system and to unilaterally restructure the loans held by the ECB. In an op-ed in Efimerida ton Syntakton, Varoufakis, Varoufakis calls on Tispras to prepare for rupture with creditors in order to avoid rupture. “This two-pronged preparation is the only way to prevent another excruciating retreat by the prime minister in the short term and [German Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schaeuble’s plan in the long term,” Varoufakis wrote. In his article, Varoufakis suggested that Schaeuble’s strategy is to lead Greeks to the point of exhaustion so they ask to leave the euro themselves.

Noting that the “parallel payment system was already designed in 2014”, Varoufakis stresses that Tsipras had “two delusions” that led the government to the current impasse: A) that on the night of the referendum, the dilemma was between Schaeuble’s Grexit Plan and the 3rd bailout, and B) that the obedience to the 3rd bailout could be politically manageable through a parallel, society-friendly program. Both of these “working assumptions” were based only on autosuggestion, the ex finance minister stresses adding that he tried to explained this to the Prime Minister on the night of the referendum

“In reality there was never a basis for hope that the toxic 3rd bailout would be gradually rationalized, in terms that the European Commission would support Athens so that the austerity and anti-social IMF measures would relax, the IMF would force Berlin to accept debt restructuring and lower primary surpluses, the ECB would include Greece in the bond purchase program (QE),” Varoufakis wrote. He accused leading European negotiators of lying. “That Moscovici [EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner], Coerer [ECB] and Sapen [French finance minister] might have given such promises was not an excuse. Since May 2015 we were fully aware that these gentlemen know how to lie and fail to deliver on their promises when they do not lie.”

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Completely devoid of any comprehension or compassion. Moral Bankruptcy. Throw money at it, that should work… And then keep bombing, British involvement in that makes a lot of profit.

UK: Refugees Heading To Europe To Be Sent To Asia And Latin America (Ind.)

Refugees heading to Europe will be urged to settle in Asia and Latin America instead, under a new £30m British aid package. Theresa May announced the scheme at an EU summit in Malta, arguing it showed the Government is “stepping up its support for the most vulnerable refugees”. The package will see Britain provide lifesaving supplies for people facing freezing conditions across Eastern Europe and Greece, including warm clothing, shelter and medical care. However, it will also pay for better infrastructure in far-flung countries willing to take refugees who had hoped to settle in Europe. The move builds on an existing scheme run by The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), but it is the first time Britain’s aid budget has been used to bolster it. It risks adding to criticism that the Prime Minister is unwilling for the UK to accept a reasonable share of the refugees and migrants fleeing Syria and other war zones.

Only a few thousand Syrian refugees have been resettled in Britain – and the Government has refused to take part in an EU-wide programme to co-ordinate the continent’s response to the crisis. Government sources stressed that people would only be diverted to countries in Asia and Latin America if they were willing to be resettled there. The Department for International Development is expected to release a list of interested countries later. In Malta the Prime Minister insisted the focus of the £30m programme was “helping migrants return home rather than risk their lives continuing perilous journeys to Europe”. It would provide assistance to refugees and migrants across Greece, the Balkans, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Sudan. Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, said: “Conflict, drought and political upheaval have fuelled protracted crises and driven mass migration. We cannot ignore these challenges.

The package will be delivered by UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and NGO collective Start Network. Its aim is to:

* provide 22,400 life-saving relief items including tents, blankets, winter clothes such as hats and gloves and hygiene kits including mother and baby products

* help more than 60,000 people with emergency medical care, legal support and frontline workers to identify those at risk of violence and trafficking

* allow up to 22,000 people to reunite with family members they have become separated from

* help countries in Asia and Latin America that “might be able to resettle refugees put the infrastructure and systems in place to do so”

* provide more than 1,500 refugees in Egypt, including those fleeing Syria and other conflicts, with urgent health assistance and educational grants for students to go back to school

* provide a migrant centre in Sudan to enable “voluntary returns home when safe”, replicating a successful scheme in Niger.

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