Oct 282020
 


Gustav Klimt Pine forest I 1901

 

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)
Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)
UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)
Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)
White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)
Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)
Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)
How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)
Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)
Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)
The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)
‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)
Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)
Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Kim Dotcom Joe Biden

 

 

“…a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)

I have some questions for former friends who have dumped me on account of my support for Mr. Trump’s re-election — which is mostly a vote to prevent the Democratic Party and its fellow travelers from running the government. On the whole, these former friends are college-educated, mature in experience, and cultured. Some of them are well-acquainted with history, which is to say, they ought to know better than to support the obviously illiberal motives of the political Left. Are you against the principle of free speech? The Democratic Party is. They used to be champions of the First Amendment; now they want to make it conditional on ideas and sentiments they support. Contrary ideas are to be labeled “hate speech,” and suppressed, along with anything that might hurt somebody’s feelings.

How did you come to such a complete misunderstanding of what free speech means? Namely, that a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” I will answer my own question partially by saying: you have been programmed against free speech by what used to be the very vehicles of it, the newspapers and TV News channels, which have, amazingly, come out against freedom of the press and turned into propaganda outlets for Woke Progressivism and its illiberal agenda — thereby inadvertently committing suicide of the entire profession. We’ve seen this acted-out most vividly just the past week in the social media companies’ efforts to suppress all news of the Biden family’s global business operations, along with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and other leading news organizations that Americans used to depend on to know what was happening in the nation.

This is especially unforgivable during a national election. Did you support the movement on campus in recent years to shut down events featuring speakers such as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve), Heather Mac Donald of City Journal, Dinesh D’Souza, and many others who represented not-so-Woke ideas that “offended” you? Since when are your feelings so special that they negate the open exchange of ideas in the places that used to be dedicated to it, the universities? Should higher education only entertain ideas that you and your cohorts approve of? What if, in some future, a different cohort gains control of higher education and seeks to exclude your ideas on the grounds that they’re “offensive” (i.e. they just don’t like them)?

Are you in favor of a politicized Department of Justice and CIA? That is what the Democratic Party’s Resistance League deliberately brought about during the 2016 election, and they continue to promote it. Is it okay for bureaucrats to break the law to disable their political adversaries? That was the essence of the RussiaGate ruse. Former employees of those agencies, such as ex-CIA chief John Brennan and Andrew Weissmann, who ran the Mueller investigation, to this day still hype “Russian collusion” falsehoods to deflect attention from their own misdeeds. You let them get away with that.

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201 participants, median age 44, 70% women, large majority not high risk. Only 18% hospitalized. Median time 140 days from first symptom: 99% suffered at least four symptoms. 42% suffered at least ten. In 66%, injuries in at least one organ, in 25% in at least two organs.

Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)

Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has disproportionately affected older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. Research has focused on short-term outcomes in hospital, and single organ involvement. Consequently, impact of long COVID (persistent symptoms three months post-infection) across multiple organs in low-risk individuals is yet to be assessed.

Methods An ongoing prospective, longitudinal, two-centre, observational study was performed in individuals symptomatic after recovery from acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Symptoms and organ function (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen) were assessed by standardised questionnaires (EQ-5D-5L, Dyspnoea-12), blood investigations and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging, defining single and multi-organ impairment by consensus definitions.

Findings Between April and September 2020, 201 individuals (mean age 44 (SD 11.0) years, 70% female, 87% white, 31% healthcare workers) completed assessments following SARS-CoV-2 infection (median 140, IQR 105-160 days after initial symptoms). The prevalence of pre-existing conditions (obesity: 20%, hypertension: 6%; diabetes: 2%; heart disease: 4%) was low, and only 18% of individuals had been hospitalised with COVID-19. Fatigue (98%), muscle aches (88%), breathlessness (87%), and headaches (83%) were the most frequently reported symptoms. Ongoing cardiorespiratory (92%) and gastrointestinal (73%) symptoms were common, and 42% of individuals had ten or more symptoms.

There was evidence of mild organ impairment in heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%). Single (66%) and multi-organ (25%) impairment was observed, and was significantly associated with risk of prior COVID-19 hospitalisation (p<0.05).

Interpretation In a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of individuals have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. There are implications not only for burden of long COVID but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities.

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It’s the combination of the article above, and this one, that has me thinking. Both talk about what happens in a 6 month period or longer.

UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)

Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, a study found on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community. Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the British population following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April. Their study found that antibody prevalence fell by a quarter, from 6% of the population around the end of June to just 4.4% in September. That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.

Although immunity to the novel coronavirus is a complex and murky area, and may be assisted by T cells, as well as B cells that can stimulate the quick production of antibodies following re-exposure to the virus, the researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring. “We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know that antibodies on their own are quite protective,” Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London told reporters. “On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”

Those for whom COVID-19 was confirmed with a gold standard PCR test had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, compared to people who had been asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection. There was no change in the levels of antibodies seen in healthcare workers, possibly due to repeated exposure to the virus. The study backs up findings from similar surveys in Germany which found the vast majority of people didn’t have COVID-19 antibodies, even in hotspots for the disease, and that antibodies might fade in those who do.

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“The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency..”

Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)

Doctors across Spain have walked out on Tuesday in what media outlets have called the first medical strike to rock the country in 25 years. As the coronavirus pandemic rages across Spain, where the Health Ministry reported another 18,418 new daily cases on Tuesday, doctors are beginning the strike, which was called in defiance of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s latest emergency order, which was implemented on Sunday. The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency, which could be in place for months. Doctors complained that the new law violated their rights, and compromised the standard of care for patients, as doctors would end up working in an area they weren’t specialized in.


The strike will continue indefinitely, with doctors set to continue striking on the last Tuesday of every month until a deal has been reached. For the first time, 200,000 new cases were confirmed in Spain over the previous two weeks, and cases on Tuesday were up 33% compared with the prior week. And over the last 24 hours, another 267 people have died. “The Health Ministry hasn’t even dignified us with a meeting to try and get us to call off the strike,” he told Spanish health journal iSanidad. Spain’s hospitals harbor nearly 16,700 active COVID-19 patients – up more than 600 compared to Monday, with one quarter of all the country’s ICU units used to treat those with an infectious disease.

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The day before, Trump was ahead.

White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)

Democrat Joe Biden has edged back ahead in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch survey. The latest national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Biden earning 49% support to President Trump’s 47%. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, while two percent (2%) are still undecided. Yesterday, Trump was ahead for the first time since mid-September – by a minimal 48% to 47%. The race has been tightening since early in the month.


Rasmussen Reports has been releasing White House Watch weekly on Wednesdays since the beginning of July. But starting this week, White House Watch will be posted daily at 10:30 am Eastern. Trump earns 82% support among Republicans. Biden has 78% of the Democrat vote and leads by three among voters not affiliated with either major party. The survey of 1,500 Likely Voters was conducted October 22 and 25-26, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Trump: VOTE

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FYI.

Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)

We predict that President Trump is going to win the 2020 presidential election — and win big. While the majority of the polls suggest that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading, or at best that it’s close, those polls suffer from at least three problems. First, the tone of the questions. There is significant evidence from behavioral psychology that suggests that the way a question is framed predetermines the range of potential answers. In fact, Gallup has found that respondents can answer very differently to questions with the same topic even in the same survey based on the language that’s used. And the use of metaphors can even dwarf the importance of pre-existing differences between Republicans and Democrats.

One of the reasons respondents do that is because of a tendency to give socially desirable answers, which was the case especially during the 2016 election. Most people don’t like confrontation, so the easiest, albeit not necessarily the best, solution is to avoid it. Right now, saying that you’re voting for Trump/Pence is often not the socially desirable answer. In fact, a recent poll by the Cato Institute suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that the political climate is sufficiently harsh that they don’t want to give their genuine opinion about politics.

Second, the sample of respondents. Who responds depends on many factors, including the medium (e.g., landline versus cellphone), the location, the sample size and demographic factors. Moreover, the pool of respondents is not necessarily the same as the pool of likely voters. Even though election polls all contain a margin of error, that margin of error is unreliable if the underlying sample does not reflect the population. Researchers have also identified self-screening as the major contributing factor to the polling failures during the 2016 election cycle. For example, distrust of pollsters also leads to lower response rates for Trump supporters. Rasmussen finds that 17 percent of likely U.S. voters who “strongly approve” of the job President Trump is doing say they are less likely to let others know how they intend to vote in the upcoming election.

By comparison, only 8 percent of those who “strongly disapprove” of the president’s performance say the same. While proper sampling methodology matters more than the size, having a representative sample with enough people still helps considerably. Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group notes how their work to create minimum samples sizes of 1,000 voters, added to their work to doggedly pursue the “quiet Trump voter,” led to Trafalgar being one of the most successful battleground polling firms in the country in 2016. Cahaly explains that “we don’t do a state with less than a thousand. You see these polls, 400, 500, 600 people for a state. I don’t buy that. Your margin of error is far too high.”

Third, the content of the current news cycle. What’s going on in a particular moment in time can influence voter attitudes, particularly in swing states. For example, the recent revelation of Hunter Biden’s hidden emails on his laptop, coupled with the link to his father, has come at an opportune time for the president. Moreover, if the economic recovery continues, the good news may continue putting wind in Trump’s sails.

Leaflet left on reporters’ chairs in Airforce One.

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Crickets in the MSM.

Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)

In a lengthy interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, former Biden family business associate Tony Bobulinski accused Joe Biden of a “blatant lie” in denying any familiarity with his son Hunter’s business undertakings, claiming he himself met with Biden on two separate occasions to discuss prospective ventures into Chinese markets. Bobulinski painted a picture of the Democratic presidential nominee as actively aware in broad strokes of plans for the Biden family to enter into a business partnership with Chinese nationals closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army — yet with Biden himself maintaining enough distance from the operational details in face-to-face encounters to preserve what his brother Jim Biden would characterize as “plausible deniability.”


Biden’s family members, Bobuilnski claimed, were “putting their entire family legacy on the line” in their dealings with the Chinese. “They knew exactly what they were doing,” he said. They were dealing with a Chinese owned enterprise … that had strong financial support and political support from the Chinese Communist Party. That’s how it was presented to me. That’s not my own words. That’s how they presented it to me and read me in on it.” Bobulinski made headlines last week when he claimed to have firsthand evidence of Biden’s involvement in those deals. “I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business,” Bobulinski said in a statement. “I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true.”

Tucker Bobulinkski

In a largely unbroken 45-minute interview with Carlson on Tuesday, Bobulinski further went on the record, telling the Fox host that he was approached by the Biden family and several associates in 2017 in order to help manage a business venture in China. Bobulinski said he met with Biden at the Milken Institute’s 2017 Global Conference in Los Angeles. “They were wining and dining me to get me more engaged,” he told Carlson. “I didn’t request to meet with Joe,” Bobulinski said. “They requested I meet with Joe.” Bobulinski, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, said he met with Biden twice in the course of his association with the family. Biden reportedly told Bobulinski to “keep an eye on Hunter and [Biden’s brother] James” during their dealings.


Chinese officials, Bobulinski said, looked at him as “irrelevant,” seeing “the Biden family” as the main focus of their dealings. He claimed that the Bidens received a $5 million no-collateral, no-interest loan from Chinese officials. Bobulinski was motivated to come forward, he told Carlson, after California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff denounced recently leaked emails involving Hunter Biden as “Russian disinformation.” That allegation, Bobulinski told Carlson, also smeared his own family’s name. “I was at the end of the rope,” he said. “I called [Biden associate] Rob Walker. I told him if that statement wasn’t retracted by midnight on Sunday then I was going on record.”

Tucker Bobulinkski 8 Minutes

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“It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.”

How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)

Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden was again insisting that the scandal involving Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation despite the direct refutation of that claim by the FBI. No mainstream reporter bothered to ask the simple question of whether this was his son’s laptop and emails, including emails clearly engaging in an influence peddling scheme and referring to Joe Biden’s knowledge. Instead, media has maintained a consistent and narrow focus. Indeed, in her interview, Leslie Stahl immediately dismissed any “scandal” involving Hunter in an interview with the President on 60 Minutes. It was an open example of what I previously noted in a column: “After all, an allegation is a scandal only if it is damaging. No coverage, no damage, no scandal.”

In her interview with Joe Biden, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell did not push Biden to simply confirm that the emails were fake or whether he did in fact meet with Hunter’s associates (despite his prior denials). Instead O’Donnell asked: “Do you believe the recent leak of material allegedly from Hunter’s computer is part of a Russian disinformation campaign?” Biden responded with the same answer that has gone unchallenged dozens of times: “From what I’ve read and know the intelligence community warned the president that Giuliani was being fed disinformation from the Russians. And we also know that Putin is trying very hard to spread disinformation about Joe Biden. And so when you put the combination of Russia, Giuliani– the president, together– it’s just what it is. It’s a smear campaign because he has nothing he wants to talk about. What is he running on? What is he running on?”

It did not matter that the answer omitted the key assertion that this was not Hunter’s laptop or emails or that he did not leave the computer with this store. Recently, Washington Post columnist Thomas Rid wrote said the quiet part out loud by telling the media: “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.” Let that sink in for a second. It does not matter if these are real emails and not Russian disinformation. They probably are real but should be treated as disinformation even though American intelligence has repeatedly rebutted that claim. It does not even matter that the FBI has seized the computer as evidence in a criminal fraud investigation or that a Biden confidant is now giving his allegations to the FBI under threat of criminal charges if he lies to investigators. It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.

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Times change. RussiaRussia has become indispensible.

Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently identified Russia as the number one threat to America but in 2012, when he was vice president, Biden called then-GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney “out of touch” for taking the same position. Biden said Romney views the “world through a Cold War prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.” Biden slammed Romney for referring to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe,” which was greeted with laughter from members of the audience watching Biden’s address in April 2012. “Governor Romney is mired in a Cold War mindset,” Biden said in a foreign policy speech at New York University in 2012.

Biden referred to Romney’s criticism of Obama’s handling of the New START treaty, which was a nuclear arms control treaty reached with Russia in 2010. “Governor Romney was part of a very small group of Cold War holdovers who never met an arms control treaty that he likes,” he said. “He was way out of the mainstream on this issue, unless you think that’s just political hyperbole.” “He acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary,” Biden said in an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in 2012. “I don’t know where he has been. We have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us on Iran. One of only two ways we’re getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia … if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf, they’ll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. This is not 1956.”

In October 2012, Obama mocked Romney’s position on Russia as the top threat to the U.S. during a presidential debate. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said. In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening, Biden said Russia is the greatest threat to the U.S. “The biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia,” he said.

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“The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.”

Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)

A search of Justice Department databases reveals that Hunter Biden failed to register as a foreign agent while promoting the interests of foreign business partners in Washington, including brokering meetings with his father and other government officials, and RealClear Investigations has learned at least one Senate committee is investigating whether Joe Biden’s son violated federal laws requiring disclosure of such foreign contacts. The Obama administration did not prosecute Hunter Biden for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, despite its much more aggressive pursuit of FARA cases relative to other administrations — including its opening of criminal investigations on no fewer than six Trump campaign advisers in 2016.

One of them, Paul Manafort, ended up in prison in part for failing to publicly disclose his lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian clients and partners. Newly discovered April 2015 emails show Hunter Biden appeared to be helping a Ukrainian energy executive meet with and lobby his father, who was vice president at the time. Hunter, who held a lucrative seat on the board of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma at the time, also sought meetings with State Department officials. None of these contacts was publicly disclosed in government filings, according to a search of both FARA and Lobbying Disclosure Act records, which show Hunter registered as a federal lobbyist in 2001 and stopped filing disclosures in 2008. In contrast, Hunter’s former law partner and fellow lobbyist, William Oldaker, has registered as a foreign agent under FARA. Oldaker is Joe Biden’s longtime campaign lawyer and fundraiser.

At least one Senate committee is actively investigating Hunter’s compliance with the FARA law. Though it has not sent a criminal referral to Justice, RCI has also learned that a public-interest law firm is preparing a complaint to Justice regarding Hunter Biden’s arranging meetings between his foreign contacts and his father when he was vice president. Former investigators and prosecutors say the uneven enforcement of the federal statute smacks of politics. “It’s a double standard, 100%,” said former assistant FBI director Chris Swecker, who led public corruption cases out of Washington. Added Swecker, who also served as a prosecutor: “It’s strange how in this election there is no curiosity whatsoever about foreign influence on a potential president of the United States, especially from this country’s greatest threat — China.”

[..] In a May 2017 email, their mutual business partner, James Biden, sent his nephew Hunter, Bobulinski and other partners a list of friendly American political contacts whom they could exploit to advance the proposed joint venture with their Chinese partners. Among the “key domestic contacts” were: Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is now Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate. (FARA records show James Biden has not registered as a foreign agent, either.) In an earlier email that same month, Hunter sought to avoid registering as a foreign agent as part of the venture. “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents,” he told Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, and suggested setting up a U.S. shell company to work around it. The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

@RobertPLewis: “I didn’t think the audio from Hunter Biden’s laptop could be worse than the child endangerment pics, but it is. Verbal admission from Hunter that he knew he and his dad were in bed & business with Chinese intelligence. Bruh. That’s treason”

Hunter: F*cking spy chief of China

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“Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something.”

The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)

So, according to the corporate media, this is it for Russian-backed Hitler. Game over. The walls are closing in. It’s the last days of the Trumpian Reich. Get those vuvuzelas ready! Yes, apparently, the American people, who were all a bunch of Putin-worshipping, white-supremacist neo-Nazis when they elected Trump in 2016, have come to their senses and are going to deliver a landslide victory to “Slappy” Joe Biden and bring down the curtain on this “Age of Darkness,” or save the world from “racial Orwellianism” or the “bottomless pit of facsism,” or whatever. White supremacy will be defeated and globalization will rise from the ashes! Decency will be restored! Love will trump hate! Black lives will matter!

Slappy and Kamala will immediately fly down and liberate the concentration camps. Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something. Exuberant liberals will pour into the streets, chanting unintelligible slogans through their designer masks and plastic head bubbles. OK, sure, the global economy will be ruined, and millions of people will be unemployed, and homeless, or will have needlessly died, so that GloboCap could simulate an apocalyptic global plague, and foment racialized civil unrest, and just generally create an atmosphere of confusion, depression, and paranoia, but the War on Populism will finally be over … and GloboCap will start to “Build Back Better!”

OK, it won’t be “better” right away. As our friends at the World Economic Forum note: “Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the world is off-balance – and it will remain so for years to come. Far from settling into a ‘new normal’, we should expect a Covid19 domino effect, triggering further disruptions – positive as well as negative – over the decade ahead. The wave of civil unrest that spread across America and beyond recently may be one example …” So, all right, maybe not quite the end of the War on Populism, but at least a new stage of it. A chaotic, destructive, violent stage of it, which will require a lot of “emergency measures” and will end up radically transforming the planet into one big pathologized-totalitarian marketplace.

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Stephen Roach knows a thing or two.

‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)

Just as China led the world in economic recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, it is playing a similar role today. Its post-Covid rebound is gathering momentum amid a developed world that remains on shaky ground. Unfortunately, this is a bitter pill for many to swallow – especially in the United States, where demonisation of China has reached epic proportions. The two crises are, of course, different. Wall Street was ground zero for the 2008 crisis, while the Covid-19 pandemic was spawned in the wet markets of Wuhan. But in both cases, China’s crisis-response strategy was far more effective than that deployed by the US. In the five years following the onset of the 2008 crisis, annual real GDP growth in China averaged 8.6 per cent (on a purchasing power parity basis).

While that was slower than the blistering (and unsustainable) 11.6 per cent average pace of the five previous years, it was four times the US economy’s anaemic 2.1 per cent average annual growth over the post-crisis 2010-14 period. China’s pandemic response hints at a comparable outcome in the years ahead. The GDP report for the third quarter of 2020 suggests a rapid return to the pre-Covid trend. The 4.9 per cent year-on-year figure for real GDP growth does not convey a full sense of the self-sustaining recovery that is now emerging in China. Measuring economic growth on a sequential quarterly basis and converting those comparisons to annual rates – the preferred construct of US statisticians and policymakers – provides a much cleaner sense of real-time shifts in the underlying momentum of any economy.

On that basis, China’s real GDP rose at an 11 per cent sequential annual rate in the third quarter, following a 55 per cent post-lockdown surge in the second quarter. The comparison with the US is noteworthy. Both economies experienced comparable contractions during their respective lockdowns, which came one quarter later for the US. China’s 33.8 per cent sequential (annualised) plunge in the first quarter was almost identical to the 31.2 per cent US contraction in the second quarter. Based on incoming high-frequency (monthly) data, the so-called GDPNow estimate of the Atlanta Federal Reserve puts third-quarter sequential real GDP growth in the US at around 35 per cent. While that is a welcome and marked turnaround from the record decline during the lockdown, it is about 20 percentage points short of China’s post-lockdown rebound and still leaves the US economy about 3 per cent below its peak of late 2019.

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“The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio..”

Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)

Contemporary art is a tricky business. If you’ve collected a painting or sculpture by a modern artist, odds are good that you’ll have some record of the transaction, and some method of verifying that the work you have is both genuine and genuinely obtained. That becomes a bit more complicated when the artist in question — though world-famous — has a penchant for anonymously leaving their work in urban spaces to create impromptu public art. Yes, we’re talking about Banksy, and one of his lesser-known practices which has recently come into sharp relief. Last week, a clip from Antiques Roadshow went viral. It features a man looking to get a small painting by Banksy evaluated. When asked how he’d come by it, the man admit he’d seen it while walking down a street in Brighton one night.

Recognizing it as Banksy’s handiwork, he then removed it from where it had been screwed into place. What follows is a brief and memorable lesson in morality. Pro tip: it’s generally considered poor form to admit to stealing something while being recorded for television. As the show’s host reveals, Banksy has established a virtual portal to authenticate whether specific works of his are both genuine and genuinely obtained — and, as the guy trying to get a painting valued admits, he’d visited the site and been told that the painting could not be validated because it was not obtained legally. Dubbed Pest Control, the service offers an easy-to-use interface to determine a particular work’s validity.

Elsewhere on Pest Control’s site, they offer a more extensive explanation of what they do — namely, issue certificates of authenticity. As for what that means, well — here’s what Pest Control themselves have to say: “The certificate of authenticity (COA) means you can buy, sell or insure a piece of art knowing it’s legitimate and the wheels won’t fall off,” they write. “Pest Control is the only source of COA’s for Banksy. We issue them for paintings, prints, sculptures and other attempts at creativity. We don’t issue them for things like stickers, posters, defaced currency or anything which wasn’t originally intended as a ‘work of art’.” Pest Control also offers a “Keeping It Real” service, which lets prospective buyers of a work by Banksy confirm that the work is, in fact, legitimate.

[..] “The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio,” he told artnet news.

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“All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies.”

Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

After being sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett immediately issued a decree that all women are to wear red handmaid’s outfits for the rest of their lives. “Execute papal order 66,” she said, her eyes glowing red. “Implement the theocratic state.” Barrett sent out squads of soldiers to round up women and make sure they wear the garment at all times. All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies. Attendance at Catholic Mass is also mandatory. Those who violate the order will be executed, “no exceptions,” said Barrett. “She can’t do this! This is unconstitutional!” screamed Rachel Maddow as enforcement squads kicked in the doors at MSNBC’s studios and grabbed her for reconditioning as a subservient handmaid. “I warned you! I WARNED ALL OF YOU!” The whole country turning into a Christofascist state seems to be a negative to many, but the nation is quite a bit more peaceful now.

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 182020
 


René Magritte The seducer 1953

 

 

USA Today Headline: “A Tabloid Got A Trove Of Data On Hunter Biden From Rudy Giuliani. Now, The FBI Is Probing A Possible Disinformation Campaign

(The FBI is examining whether the material supplied to the New York Post by Rudy Giuliani is part of a disinformation campaign by Russia.)”

 

Seeing that makes me think: with Comey, Strzok, Lisa Page, McCabe et al gone, who initiates and approves such “examinations”? The aforementioned were all involved in setting up the Special Counsel led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller, and that was the most embarrassing episode in the Bureau’s history. Which is saying something given J. Edgar’s penchant for dressing up in women’s clothing.

The Mueller probe was all predicated on vague and unproven Russian “disinformation”, and it fittingly ended with it too. With absolutely nothing coming out of the probe, that was based on the Steele Dossier which the protagonists knew was false even before the probe started, Mueller and his right-hand Andrew Weismann in the end had nothing left but “13 Russians” and Julian Assange to “justify” their $30 million, 2 year “effort”.

The only people they could lay any -always unproven- blame or suspicion on were those who could not defend themselves against false accusations. And when Concord Management unexpectedly did raise a defense, Mueller was shut down by a US judge in no time. It’s pathetic. Mueller’s a liar and a coward, as I’ve said a dozen times now. He should be exiled to Mars.

But what’s worse than his reputation having been destroyed, is that he and his pals hammered the FBI’s reputation as well. So when I read in October 2020 that “The FBI Is Probing A Possible Disinformation Campaign by Russia”, I’m obliged to ask: where does that come from?

Because apparently at least some things haven’t changed yet, despite the Mueller horror show. What the FBI needs is a thorough cleansing, not another nonsensical politically driven opaque “investigation” of Russians. The obvious problem, of course, is that the same media who edged on that disaster will also report on this one without an inch of actual journalistic curiosity or integrity.

The media are in the same political wing as the FBI. They are all counting down the days until November 3, and they are all counting on their mishaps and misdeeds being forgiven and/or buried deep if Joe Biden wins, something they spare no effort to achieve.

 

But unlike the Democrats, in their present-day DNC, Hillary, Pelosi et al, setting, and the mainstream media, who have lost all credibility, the FBI will have a role to play in the future of America. All of the above have been caught in scandalous endeavors to halt a presidential candidate and then unseat a president, but unlike in the case of the Democrats and the media, the nation itself actually has the means to change the FBI.

And it will have to. Because it needs a domestic intelligence service that can go after people who attempt to subvert the workings -and laws- of American society. But yes, that means people like themselves. And once the FBI becomes complicit in such subversion, there is no-one left to investigate them. A classic problem, who will investigate the investigators?

Sure, in “normal” times that should be the House, but the Democrat House is also part of the entire “cabal”. Just remember Adam Schiff’s and Jerry Nadler’s shameless statements of having evidence of collusion when they very obviously did not. So that’s not going to happen. Or at least, that’s what they all think. But it must, Biden victory or not.

Ironically, an Amy Coney Barrett confirmation for the Supreme Court, in that regard, may be seen as a move to save the country, to save the integrity and moral fiber of the United States. Because if the House won’t, and the Senate can’t, save the country from the FBI turning rogue and siding with one side of the political system , the Supreme Court will have to. Or else.

 

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for the entire DNC-FBI-MSM cabal. Which counts on all they’ve done to magically disappear under President Kamala. And that is not going to happen. If the FBI and Capitol Hill will not see to it, the judicial system will. How big a role Michael Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell will play in that depends on how much people like Bill Barr are willing to take on, but Powell is up to the task.

Of course there are legitimate questions about how exactly the New York Post and Rudy Giuliani got hold of the emails and other Hunter Biden-related material. But the fact that the Biden campaign after three days still hasn’t disputed its veracity is a major tell. All they have done is point to Russian disinformation -again- and now the FBI is “investigating” that. The exact same thing Mueller failed to prove.

In other words, we’re still caught in a circle-jerk, only now Facebook and Twitter have joined in too. But the real question should not be about the Russians, that’s always only been a ruse. It should be: how do we restore the reputation and credibility of the FBI that was so thoroughly annulled over the past 5 years?

If Biden wins, nothing will be restored. Because the FBI helped him win. If Trump wins, there’s a slightly better chance. Then again, Trump’s presidency didn’t change much. Comey, Strzok and McCabe disappeared, but new chief Christopher Wray is out there frustrating declassifications, and approving brainless probes like Russian disinformation in the Hunter Biden laptop case.

Which is not just useless, it’s an active attempt to direct attention away from what is actually there: the contents of the laptop. Which, again, remains uncontested by the Biden campaign.

If the FBI cannot be perceived by the American people as an impartial bureau, that will be a very big problem for many years to come. If people fear that it may -again- turn against a presidential candidate for partisan reasons, and lie through their teeth to achieve their goals, that will be it for the Bureau.

 

 

 

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Feb 232020
 


Jack Delano Spectators at annual barrel rolling contest in Presque Isle, Maine 1940

 

COVID19 Cases Outside China Go Exponential (ZH)
Millions Of Chinese Ordered Back To Work (Obs.)
China’s 92% Car Sales Collapse Sign Of Sharp Trade Decline To Come (SCMP)
Trump Furious Americans Infected With Coronavirus Flown Back To US (Fox)
18 Koreans Test Positive For COVID-19 After Israel Pilgrimage (KH)
US Says Russia Behind Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign (G.)
Roger Stone Deserves A New Trial (Turley)
Julian Assange, Lawyers Were Secretly Recorded In Ecuador Embassy (ABC.au)
Subprime Credit Card Delinquencies Spike to Record High, Past Financial-Crisis Peak (WS)
Trump Reportedly Calls John Bolton A ‘Traitor’ And Wants To Block His Book (G.)
Trump: ‘Congrats Bernie…Don’t Let Them Take It Away From You!’ (SAC)

 

 

Cases 78,866 (+ 938 from yesterday’s 77,928).

Deaths 2,464 (+ 102 from yesterday)

 

• Italy: Thursday 3 cases, Sunday 115 cases, 89 in Lombardy, declares “national emergency”;
second death reported, first case in Milan city; much of Northern Italy put on lockdown. Top-level soccer games cancelled.

• South Korea: total 556 cases (10x increase in 5 days), 123 new cases, 1 new death

• Iran: 29 cases 6 deaths

• US: 35 cases, 200 under observation in San Diego

• Japan: 750 cases, 634 from Diamond Princess, Others triple in a week to 121

• Cases outside China go exponential

• WHO team visits Wuhan; will give Monday press conference

• 18 Koreans test positive after Israel pilgrimage. Israel Ministry of Health expects to close borders for non-residents soon

• Worldometer mortality rate for closed cases (recovered/discharged or dead) is 10%

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer (note: mortality rate for closed cases is still 10%!)

 

 

 

 

Big week to come. Given all the new clusters forming, outside of China, things don’t look particularly good. Inside China there are efforts to start moving people around again, to work. Very risky. Many of the clusters and cases outside of Hubei are relatively new, so infection hasn’t worked its worst there.

COVID19 Cases Outside China Go Exponential (ZH)

South Korea reported 229 new confirmed cases on Saturday, as the number of infections more than doubled in a day to 433, an eightfold jump in just four days. [..] the number of new cases in South Korea has now doubled each day for the past 4 days, a true exponential increase. South Korea’s fourth-largest city, is where the initial cluster of cases of emerged; it has since been designated a “special management zone.” The central government is channeling medical support to the zone with more staff, hospital beds and equipment. In Daegu, more than half of South Korea’s cases have been among members of a secretive religious sect who often crowd together in worship, and their relatives or contacts.

Another 111 are patients or staff members at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, where the two South Koreans who have died of the virus had been admitted. It gets worse: more than 1,250 members of the sect, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, have reported potential symptoms, and officials are still trying to locate 700 members so they can be screened. “In accordance with law and principles, the government will sternly deal with acts that interfere with quarantine efforts, illegal hoarding of medical goods and acts that spark uneasiness through massive rallies,” Chung said, pointing out just how convenient the coronavirus will be when government seek to squash all future protests.

It gets even worse: Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, shut down a factory after a worker tested positive. The factory, located in the city of Gumi, about an hour north of Cheongdo, is expected to resume operations on Monday morning, Samsung said. But the floor of the factory where the patient has worked will be closed until Tuesday morning, it said. We wonder how long until it truly reopens. But the scariest development in the past 24 hours is that almost all patients at a psychiatric ward of a South Korean hospital tested positive for the coronavirus, with local reports saying members of the abovementioned Shincheonji Church of Jesus sect which has rapidly emerged as the single biggest cluster of new S. Korean cases, had attended a funeral in the same complex.

South Korea’s two confirmed deaths from the virus were also from the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo hospital’s mental health division, Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday. Both patients had been moved out of the psychiatric ward for medical treatment before their deaths, Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip said at a briefing. In other words, of the total 443 confirmed cases, more than half, or 231 were linked to Daegu, sect, while at least 111 – including four nurses – were from the psychiatric ward of the hospital in Cheongdo County. The two clusters account for almost 80% of the confirmed cases.

Read more …

Dumb understatement: “An influential Chinese economist has already warned that the coronavirus crisis could slice a full percentage point off growth this year”

Millions Of Chinese Ordered Back To Work (Obs.)

The Chinese authorities are trying to usher the country back to work, a month after announcing the unprecedented quarantine of millions of people. But they face a difficult balancing act between containing the virus and supporting a faltering economy. Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak, have been the focus of disease prevention efforts. over the last four weeks. As the death toll climbed to more than 2,000 worldwide, and infections to over 75,000, the vast majority of cases were still inside that quarantined zone. But the disease had spread far across the country before Hubei was sealed off, and some of the worst-affected places are the manufacturing and economic centres that power China’s economy.

Southern Guangdong province, just across from Hong Kong and home to international giants such as Apple supplier Foxconn, is the second-worst affected province after Hubei, with 1,339 cases of the coronavirus confirmed and five deaths. Eastern Zhejiang, near Shanghai, is the fourth most seriously hit, with 1,205 cases by , although only one death. It is also the base for companies including the hugely influential Alibaba, China’s answer to Amazon and eBay. Those total numbers of infections are far above the 639 cases registered across all of China on 23 January, when Hubei was put on sudden lockdown. The situations are not directly comparable; coronavirus had been spreading almost unchecked in Wuhan for weeks before the quarantine, and overwhelmed hospitals appear to have sent patients home, only to spread the disease.

Authorities in other areas started tracking cases much earlier and have better resources to isolate and treat those who fall sick, something reflected in a much lower death rate. The speed of the disease’s spread is perhaps not surprising given Wuhan’s position as a regional economic hub, with links to other key centres, and the fact that the coronavirus has proved contagious in the early days of infection when patients have few symptoms, making it hard to identify carriers as clusters spread. Yet China cannot afford for its factories to sit idle, or its restaurants and shops to stay empty indefinitely. Authorities were already worried about faltering growth after last year saw the slowest rate of expansion in almost three decades; GDP growth had not slid so low since 1990, when China was isolated in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

An influential Chinese economist has already warned that the coronavirus crisis could slice a full percentage point off growth this year. So authorities are trying to balance two unfathomable risks – of either fuelling the coronavirus by pushing too much for normal routines, or paving the way for the collapse of their local economy by keeping everything on lockdown. Many small and medium companies in particular are already hovering on the brink, and a wave of bankruptcies is expected. Retail and hospitality companies expected bumper sales over the lunar new year, and even factories that closed for the holiday expected to reopen in early February.

[..] In Shenzhen, the border city that has come to rival Hong Kong, businesses have been told they can resume work immediately if they have virus control measures that include disinfecting, giving employees at least two masks a day, making temperature checks, and having their plans approved by local officials. There is already a gap between regulation and reality, however. “We started today, but the boss only gave us one mask when we all know he’s supposed to give out two,” said one 52-year-old woman employed at a Shenzhen factory making plastic items such as skateboard wheels, cups and toy parts. “My husband, who works at a restaurant near here, is also only getting one mask per day,” she added, giving only her last name, Xiao, over fears of being fired or getting her boss into trouble.

Read more …

Why would anyone expect sales to pick up anytime soon?

China’s 92% Car Sales Collapse Sign Of Sharp Trade Decline To Come (SCMP)

A 92 per cent drop in car sales in China in the first half of February provided the first real indicator of the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic, with officials also warning of a sharp decline in Chinese exports and imports for the first two months of the year. The China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) on Friday said that sales dropped to just 4,909 units in the first 16 days of the month, down from 59,930 vehicles in the same period a year earlier. “Very few dealerships opened in the first weeks of February and they have had very little customer traffic,” said the CPCA. China’s car market is likely to see sales slide more than 10 per cent in the first half of the year due to the outbreak, and around 5 per cent for the whole year, provided the virus is effectively contained before April, the country’s top industry body, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), said last week.

The sector was already under pressure from the cooling economy, with car sales falling 3 per cent in 2018 in the first sales contraction since the 1990s, and 8.2 per cent in 2019, CAAM said. “We must firmly believe that China’s auto market still has great development space and potential, and the automobile consumption demand is still strong,” Wang Bin, vice-director of the commerce market operation department at the commerce ministry, said on Thursday. To stabilise the market, in which more than 25 million vehicles were sold last year, China’s commerce ministry said it will introduce more measures to boost consumption.


Li Xingqian, head of foreign trade at the Ministry of Commerce, said the growth rate for China’s exports and imports would decline sharply in the January-February period due to a collapse in logistics and the delayed start of work following the extended Lunar New Year holiday, which was aimed at controlling the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more …

Simply not their call to make.

Trump Furious Americans Infected With Coronavirus Flown Back To US (Fox)

President Trump was furious that 14 Americans infected with the coronavirus returned to the United States without his permission rather than remain in quarantine overseas, according to a new report. Trump had been briefed that the healthy U.S. passengers who spent weeks quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan would be allowed to fly home on two chartered planes – while those who were sick or infected would stay in Japan to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. The president became “furious” with senior advisers after learning the 14 Americans who tested positive had been put on a plane with healthy passengers, according to The Washington Post.


One official told the paper that the failure to inform Trump of the decision in advance of the plane’s departure was a “big operational mistake.” Trump complained that bringing home the infected Americans could damage the adminstratration’s response to the global health outbreak. While the Americans evacuated from the ship were on buses on the tarmac in Tokyo, U.S. officials got the results back that 14 had tested positive for COVID-19 but had not yet shown symptoms. Officials made the decision to have them fly home anyway, but “isolated” from the other passengers on the plane.

Read more …

“The South Korean government lodged a complaint with Israel over its abrupt entry ban against South Koreans over concerns about the new coronavirus: “demand that such an incident not occur again”

18 Koreans Test Positive For COVID-19 After Israel Pilgrimage (KH)

Of 76 Koreans who traveled to Israel for religious pilgrimages in February, 18 tested positive for the deadly coronavirus upon returning home, local health authorities said Sunday. Two groups of Roman Catholic travelers stayed in Israel for about a week each for religious tourism earlier this month, visiting packed religious sites. Among 39 Koreans from North Gyeongsang Province who visited Israel from Feb. 8-16, 18 have been confirmed positive, including a tour guide residing in Seoul. A 59-year-old woman who lives in Yecheon County, North Gyeongsang Province, was the first confirmed patient. She was unable to go to work upon arrival due to a high fever and respiratory problems.


Local health authorities are scrambling to narrow down the exact times when the patients could have been infected, leaving open the possibility that a group member may have caught the virus prior to departure or somewhere along the travel route either in Israel or Korea. Another group of 37 people from Jeju Island traveled to Israel from Feb. 11-21, and one person with a cough was waiting for their test results as of Sunday afternoon. The presence of COVID-19 in these Korean tourists, as well as the skyrocketing number of confirmed cases here, prompted Israel to bar travelers from Korea from entering the country, the Israeli government said. As a result, some 130 Koreans who landed in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, local time, were sent back to Korea after being denied entry.

Read more …

Using the same accounts they use for Syria, Yellow Vests etc. Just to make it easier for those smart Americans to figure out it’s them. That’s also why they [..] “carry messages similar to Russian-backed outlets such as RT..” You know, just so Americans don’t get all confused and stuff.

US Says Russia Behind Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign (G.)

Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread misinformation and alarm about coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, US officials have said. The disinformation campaign promotes unfounded conspiracy theories that the US is behind the new coronavirus outbreak, in an apparent bid to damage America’s image around the world. State department officials tasked with combatting Russian disinformation told the AFP false personas were being used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to advance Russian talking points in multiple languages.

“Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine US institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia. “By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response,” he said. Some accounts have falsely claimed the US is waging “economic war on China” and that the virus is a biological weapon manufactured by the CIA.


[..] Several thousand online accounts – previously identified for airing Russian-backed messages on major events such as the war in Syria, the Yellow Vest protests in France and Chile’s mass demonstrations – are posting “near identical” messages about the coronavirus, according to a report prepared for the state department’s Global Engagement Center and seen by the AFP. The accounts are run by humans, not bots, and post at similar times in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French. They can be linked back to Russian proxies, or carry messages similar to Russian-backed outlets such as RT and Sputnik, the report said.

Read more …

Turley doesn’t acknowledge why Stone was dragged in front of Congress. Which was on a completely fabricated charge. That Stone himself did some of the fabricating seems a bit beside the point. I would be interested in Turley’s view on that, rather thann the obvious bias involved.

Roger Stone Deserves A New Trial (Turley)

With his sentencing this week, “agent provocateur” Roger Stone finally provoked himself into prison. However, his latest “performance art” may be nowhere near its conclusion. That is not because he has a “very good chance of exoneration,” as President Trump himself predicted. Stone has about the same chance of exoneration as he does of canonization. Rather, it is not clear that Stone received a fair trial due to alleged juror bias or, even if his trial is now finished, whether it will become undone by a presidential pardon. If nothing else, one thing should be clear. Stone holds a far greater claim to a new trial than to a presidential pardon. The decision of Judge Amy Berman Jackson to move forward with his sentencing was a surprise to many of us, following disturbing reports of potential juror bias by the trial foreperson.

It was a curious twist on the position of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, who declared, “Sentence first! Verdict afterwards.” In this case, the court decided to resolve the sentence before resolving if there was a valid verdict. I have previously discussed the statements made by Tomeka Hart before she became the jury foreperson. She exhibited intense hostility against Trump and his associates and protested against the administration. She also expressed support for investigations of the administration and even discussed this case. Worse yet, the transcript of the voir dire hearing did not suggest that the defense counsel was aware of this history. Either she disclosed the information and defense counsel was less than effective, or Hart had withheld the information and was less than transparent.


Jackson may have two equally unappealing choices. First, the court could order a new trial, making this sentencing drama a meaningless exercise. Second, she could dismiss any concerns as speculative and refuse to take any action. Such a decision would make a mockery of the jury selection process. What is the value of voir dire if a juror with such alleged bias can find her way not just onto the jury but into the position as foreperson?

Read more …

Roger Waters: “We will speak so loudly even the deaf will hear. We will write so clearly even the blind will read. You write injustice on the earth. We will write revolution in the sky.”

Julian Assange, Lawyers Were Secretly Recorded In Ecuador Embassy (ABC.au)

The case is being investigated by Spain’s federal court, the Audencia Nacional, which is examining whether Morales and UC Global are guilty of breaching both Assange’s privacy and lawyer-client privilege, as well as crimes relating to misappropriation of funds, bribery, and money laundering. “From 2015 to mid-2018, when UC Global lost the embassy’s security contract, a battery of illegal espionage measures was deployed, with massive interference in the privacy of [Assange], in his communications with his [legal] team, in meetings with his doctors, and in general against everyone close to him,” a criminal complaint filed by Assange’s Spanish lawyers stated.

“In those years the defendants created a sort of ‘Big Brother’ in which all the movements of Mr Assange and the people close to him were monitored.” The case commenced after a group of Spanish citizens contacted senior WikiLeaks employees and demanded a significant sum of money in return for what they said was voluminous proof of the espionage. A former UC Global employee — who cannot be identified for legal reasons — also separately approached WikiLeaks, wanting to reveal what they saw as the illegal behaviour of their former company. WikiLeaks referred the case to Spanish courts, who launched an investigation and arrested Morales. He was later released on bail. “This spying did not only affect Mr Assange’s lawyers, it also affected all of his visitors, including journalists,” Martinez said.

“It got to the point where, during a visit to Mr Assange, the head of Ecuador’s intelligence service [Rommy Vallejo, on December 21, 2017] was also spied on,” Martinez added. “In the meeting between Mr Vallejo and Mr Assange the possible release [from the embassy] of Mr Assange in a few days later was discussed.” Within hours of that secret meeting, which was known to only a few people, the US Ambassador to Ecuador complained to Ecuadorian authorities, and the next day the US issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, Martinez said. “That leads us to believe that the conversation was urgently sent to the US authorities and that they urgently issued the international arrest warrant the next day,” he said.

Martinez was himself spied on while having legal meetings with Assange at the embassy. “Mr Assange began to suspect that he was being spied upon … so he asked us to hold the most sensitive meetings in the women’s toilet at the back of the building,” Martinez recalled. “We honestly thought it was an exaggerated step to hold our legal meetings in the women’s toilet, where he would even open the water tap to avoid anyone listening. “It was interesting to find out that Mr Assange was, in fact, correct: the material before the court proves that UC Global knew the meetings were held inside the women’s toilet, as they proceeded to install an additional microphone [there].”

Read more …

Meanwhile in the not-yet-infected part of the world:

Subprime Credit Card Delinquencies Spike to Record High, Past Financial-Crisis Peak (WS)

The rate of credit card balances that are 30 days or more delinquent at the 4,500 or so commercial banks that are smaller than the top 100 banks spiked to 7.05% in the fourth quarter, the highest delinquency rate in the data going back to the 1980s (red line). But at the largest 100 banks, the credit-card delinquency rate was 2.48%, which kept the overall credit-card delinquency rate at all commercial banks at 2.7% (blue line), though it was the highest since 2012, according to the Federal Reserve. What’s going on here, with this bifurcation of the delinquency rates and what does that tell us about consumers?

Clearly, those consumers that have obtained credit cards at the smaller banks are in a heap of trouble and are falling behind at a historically high rate. But consumers that got their credit cards at the big banks – lured by 2% cash-back offers and other benefits that are being heavily promoted to consumers with top credit scores – do not feel the pain. A similarly disturbing trend is going on with auto loans. Seriously delinquent auto loans jumped to 4.94% of total auto loans and leases outstanding. This is higher than the delinquency rate in Q3 2010 amid the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. On closer inspection, there was that bifurcation again; prime-rated loans had historically low delinquency rates; but a shocking 23% of all subprime loans were 90+ days delinquent.

Read more …

“I give the guy a break,” he added. “I give him a job. And then he turns on me. He’s just making things up.”

Trump Reportedly Calls John Bolton A ‘Traitor’ And Wants To Block His Book (G.)

John Bolton is “a traitor” and his book should not be published before the election in November, Donald Trump reportedly told aides and media figures. The president’s views on news of a book deal for Marie Yovanovitch, another key figure in the Ukraine scandal which led to Trump’s impeachment, were not immediately clear. Bolton, a former ambassador to the UN, was Trump’s third national security adviser until he was fired in September last year. He refused to testify in the House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate his political rivals, which resulted in two articles of impeachment, concerning abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

He offered to testify in the Senate but Republicans voted not to call witnesses during a trial which duly ended in Trump’s acquittal, despite leaks from Bolton’s book manuscript seeming to show he possessed key knowledge about the affair. The Room Where It Happened was slated for publication in March but it has been held up, the national security council telling Bolton’s lawyer it would “move forward as expeditiously as possible” with determining what could be published. On Friday night, the Washington Post cited two anonymous sources as saying Trump had told his own lawyers the book should not come out before the election.


Trump has attacked Bolton publicly on Twitter but the Post also reported notes of an off-the-record briefing of TV anchors on 4 February. “We’re going to try and block the publication of the book,” Trump reportedly said. “After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House. “I give the guy a break,” he added. “I give him a job. And then he turns on me. He’s just making things up.”

Read more …

CNN’s desperate attempt to attract a handful viewers still bores me to tears. Andrew Yang and Donald Trump know what’s wrong.

Trump: ‘Congrats Bernie…Don’t Let Them Take It Away From You!’ (SAC)

President Trump congratulated Bernie Sanders in his projected win in democratic primary in Nevada. As of Saturday evening, Sanders is leading with 53.84 percent of the vote in the Nevada caucuses. “Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!” he added in a tweet. “Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada,” Trump wrote. “Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates.” Trump followed with another tweet, quoting Jon Scott of Fox News, on a report that showed Sanders having strong support from within the Kremlin. “The Kremlin is reportedly backing Bernie Sanders bid to win the White House.” Jon Scott @FoxNews,” the president wrote. “Why didn’t somebody tell me this?”

Read more …

 

 

 

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Jan 012020
 


Vincent van Gogh Weeping woman 1883

 

‘I’m Slowly Dying Here’: Julian Assange in Christmas Eve Call (RT)
US Chief Justice Warns Of Internet Disinformation (R.)
Taiwan Anti-Infiltration Bill Passed As Opposition Lawmakers Protest (SCMP)
Taiwan Leader Rejects China’s Offer To Unify Under Hong Kong Model (R.)
Sydney House Prices Set To Top $1 Million Again (SMH)
Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money (Lacalle)
Google Veterans: The Company Has Become ‘Unrecognizable’ (CNBC)
Should Racists Get Health Care? (Ron Paul)
Coyotes Take Up Residence At Trump’s New York City Golf Course (G.)
Earthshot: William And Kate Launch Prize To ‘Repair The Earth’ (BBC)

 

 

Happy New Year Julian! May your nightmare come to an end in 2020.

‘I’m Slowly Dying Here’: Julian Assange in Christmas Eve Call (RT)

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged. Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete. “I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’ “His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him” Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion. Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.


“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.” [..] Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

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Shouldn’t he be warning about the NYT, WaPo instead? Just because he reads them every day doesn’t make them any less dangerous. The opposite, really.

US Chief Justice Warns Of Internet Disinformation (R.)

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern on Tuesday about disinformation amplified by the internet and social media as he focused his year-end report on the weakening state of civics education in the United States. “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” Roberts said in his annual report on behalf of the federal judiciary. The chief justice warned that Americans “have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside.” Roberts’ comments come as U.S. legislators and officials have raised concerns about the persistence of foreign propaganda and false news aimed at sowing discord in the U.S. political system in the lead-up to the 2020 election.


U.S. intelligence agencies and an inquiry by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that Russia engaged in a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sway the 2016 presidential race toward Republican President Donald Trump. Mueller did not establish that members of Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election. Roberts said in his report that an independent judiciary was a “key source of national unity and stability” and called on his judicial colleagues to promote public confidence and trust by reflecting on their duty to judge without fear or favor. He has previously lamented the perception in an increasingly polarized society that lower courts and the Supreme Court are becoming politicized, and that judges are guided primarily by their partisan affiliations.

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Quite a few Taiwanese support the mainland.

Taiwan Anti-Infiltration Bill Passed As Opposition Lawmakers Protest (SCMP)

Taiwan’s independence-leaning lawmakers have pushed through a controversial bill in the final legislative session of the year that critics say could have a chilling effect on the self-ruled island and worsen ties with Beijing. The anti-infiltration bill, which criminalises political activities backed or funded by “hostile external forces” – referring to mainland China – was passed by the Democratic Progressive Party-controlled legislature after it was put to a vote on Tuesday. “The voting result shows 67 of those present in favour of passing the bill against zero opposing it,” legislative speaker Su Jia-chyuan said in an announcement afterwards.

Opposition politicians, including those from the mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), had strongly criticised the bill, saying it was a move by President Tsai Ing-wen and her government to silence dissent ahead of elections on January 11. The ruling DPP said the legislation aimed to combat efforts by Beijing to influence politics and the democratic process on the island, including through illicit funding of politicians, and the media. After the vote, Tsai said in a Facebook post that “preventing Chinese infiltration is what every diplomatic country is doing”. “Chinese infiltration of Taiwan is of great concern to the society here, and the law is against infiltration but not against exchanges,” she said.


[..] Analysts said the legislation could have a chilling effect on Taiwan. “Many Taiwanese people – including academics, politicians and businesspeople – receive gifts or are entertained by mainland authorities during their visits,” said Wang Kung-yi, a political science professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei. “This may create a chilling effect and it will only further hamper cross-strait exchanges.” Chu Chao-hsiang, a political science professor at National Taiwan Normal University, said a chilling effect caused by the legislation would potentially mean lost opportunities for the island as businesses turned away from the mainland. “Many overseas subsidiaries of mainland companies have investments in Taiwan. If they send funds to their Taiwanese executives in Taiwan to carry out certain investment projects, would this be seen as receiving funds and instructions from the mainland?” he said.

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Wonder what Hong Kong model they have in mind.

Taiwan Leader Rejects China’s Offer To Unify Under Hong Kong Model (R.)

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday the island would not accept a “one country, two systems” political formula Beijing has suggested could be used to unify the democratic island, saying such an arrangement had failed in Hong Kong. China claims Taiwan as its territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary. Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name. Tsai, who’s seeking re-election in a Jan. 11 vote, also vowed in a New Year’s speech to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, saying her government would build a mechanism to safeguard freedom and democracy as Beijing ramps up pressure on the island.


Fear of China has become a major element in the campaign, boosted by months of anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong. “Hong Kong people have showed us that ‘one country, two systems’ is definitely not feasible,” Tsai said, referring to the political arrangement that guaranteed certain freedoms in the former British colony of Hong Kong after it was returned to China in 1997. “Under ‘one country, two systems’, the situation continues to deteriorate in Hong Kong. The credibility of ‘one country, two systems’ has been sullied by the government’s abuse of power,” Tsai said.

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A very fitting topic as 500,000 wildlife have burned to death.

Sydney House Prices Set To Top $1 Million Again (SMH)

Sydney house owners are set to become millionaires again in February, mortgages allowing. The typical Sydney free-standing home was worth $974,000 as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, according to an exclusive preview of key home price data due to be released by CoreLogic on Thursday. The median Sydney unit was worth $746,000. The value of a typical Sydney free-standing house tumbled from peak of $1,060,000 in July 2017 to $865,000 in June 2019. But a combination of interest rate cuts and an easing of loan serviceability tests reignited Sydney’s property market in the second half of 2019.


One day before the end of 2019, preliminary figures provided to The Sydney Morning Herald by CoreLogic’s head of research, Tim Lawless, show Sydney dwelling prices rose 5.3 per cent in 2019, after an 8.9 per cent fall in 2018. “It’s been quite a turnaround,” Mr Lawless said. “Prices have rebounded much faster than anyone would have expected.” In December alone, prices gained a little over 1.5 per cent. This was a slight slowing in the pace of price growth from November’s 2.7 per cent monthly gain, which was the fastest rate of growth since records began in the 1980s. “It’s still a very strong rate of growth, but a step down from November,” Mr Lawless said. “What was probably slowing that rate of growth down a little bit was we did start seeing a bit more stock, giving buyers a bit more choice.”

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A few days old, I think, but there’s a direct link to those Sydney home prices.

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money (Lacalle)

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists who start from a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea. Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, perpetuating overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity and zombifying the economy by subsidizing the low productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it, they do not strengthen the credit capacity of families, because the prices of non-replicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrocket because of monetary excess, and the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk. Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money. It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending.


They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, that come from using 2001-2007 as “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble. The argument of the central planners is based on an inconsistency: That rates are negative because markets demand them, not because they are imposed by the central bank. If that were the case, why don’t they let rates float freely if the result was going to be the same? Because it is false. [..] Negative rates are a huge transfer of wealth from savers and real wages to the government and the indebted. A tax on caution. The destruction of the perception of risk that always benefits the most reckless. The bailout of the inefficient.

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It’s part of the CIA now.

Google Veterans: The Company Has Become ‘Unrecognizable’ (CNBC)

When Google co-founders Larry Page and President Sergey Brin stepped down from their roles as CEO and president of Google holding company Alphabet earlier this month, it marked the end of an era. While it’s unclear what prompted the two to leave their formal management positions, longtime employees, many of whom also left the company this year, described to CNBC a massive cultural shift that percolated throughout 2019. They cited changes to Google’s all-hands meetings, human resources processes and transparency from management. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in October admitted the company’s challenge in scaling the trust of its own workforce which numbers more than 100,000 people.

More recently, Lazlo Bock, former director of human resources for Google, told Bloomberg that he thinks Alphabet is “a different company than it used to be” but that “not everyone’s gotten the memo.” The change has been noticed by some on the outside, too. “What the hell is going on over there?” tweeted Andreessen Horowitz partner Martin Casado over the summer. “The brain drain at Google right now is astonishing.” Workers told CNBC that 2018 was a pivotal point in the company’s shift away from upfront communication. That was when news of Project Dragonfly, a secret Google plan to develop a censored search engine for possible rollout in China, first broke in The Intercept. Internally, the existence of the project had been kept on a need-to-know basis.


The company later canceled Project Dragonfly after employees expressed concern over the secrecy of the project. Some workers left the company altogether. “There’s no way a few years before, they would have had a secret project with these kinds of ethical concerns,” said Raph Levien, a former level 6 engineer who left Google after 11 years. “It crossed the line and felt misleading. It definitely felt like this was Google changing.”

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Must a society’s health care be measured by perceptions of big bad goverment? Do we remember how societies used to build bridges and roads et al? If your govenment doesn’t serve your society, replace it, don’t sell off all your community assets.

Should Racists Get Health Care? (Ron Paul)

Political correctness recently took a dangerous turn in the United Kingdom when the North Bristol National Health Service Trust announced that hospital patients who use offensive, racist, or sexist language will cease receiving medical care as soon as it is safe to end their treatment. The condition that treatment will not be withdrawn until doing so is safe seems to imply that no one will actually suffer from this policy. However, health-care providers have great discretion to determine when it is “safe” to withhold treatment. So, patients could be left with chronic pain or be denied certain procedures that could improve their health but are not necessary to make them “safe.” Patients accused of racism or sexism could also find themselves at the bottom of the NHS’s infamous “waiting lists,” unable to receive treatment until it truly is a matter of life and death.

Since many people define racism and sexism as “anything I disagree with,” the new policy will no doubt lead to people being denied medical care for statements that most reasonable people would consider unobjectionable. This is not the first time NHS has withheld treatment because of an individual’s behavior. A couple years ago, another local health committee announced it would withhold routine or nonemergency surgeries from smokers and the obese. Since reducing smoking and obesity benefits both individual patients and the health care system as a whole, this policy may appear defensible. But denying or delaying care violates medical ethics and sets a dangerous precedent. If treatment could be denied to smokers and the obese, then it could also be denied to those who engage in promiscuous sex, drive over the speed limit, don’t get the “proper” number of vaccinations for themselves and their children, or have “dangerous” political views.


Government bureaucrats denying care to individuals for arbitrary reasons is the inevitable result of government interference in the health-care market. Government intervention is supposed to ensure quality and affordable (or free) care for all. But, government intervention artificially lowers the costs of health care to patients while increasing costs to providers. As demand rises and supply falls, government imposes rationing to address the shortages and other problems caused by prior government interference. Rationing has been part of American health care at least since the passage of the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973. Every plan to expand government’s role in health care contains some form of rationing.

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Take any story at all and see if you can inject Trump. Because that sells. Journalism today.

Nor is this a new thing. 10 years ago off of the farm near Ottawa, there were always coyotes howling in the woods.

Coyotes Take Up Residence At Trump’s New York City Golf Course (G.)

Donald Trump has a $269m golf course in New York City that is regularly prowled by feared, largely nocturnal individuals that instinctively prey upon those they deem smaller and weaker. We are, of course, talking about coyotes. The shrewd canines have spread so far from their ranges in the western US that they are now making unlikely homes in cities on the east coast, including beside the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a landscaped sward frequented by visor- and chino-wearing golfers in the faintly incongruous setting of the Bronx. “The staff at the golf course think the coyotes are cool,” said Chris Nagy, a wildlife biologist and co-founder of Gotham Coyote, a collaboration of researchers who study coyotes in New York. “But there’s a point where if the coyotes are getting annoying and worrying the golfers, then they’ll change their minds.”

As humanity chews through landscapes for housing, farming, roads and mining, ecologists have warned of the Earth’s sixth great extinction, with about a million species now endangered. But some creatures have proved flexible in the face of this onslaught, even blossoming in the new circumstances. Coyotes, unfussy eaters that can cover large distances in search of a suitable home, are one of the winners in this denuded age. Cities like New York and Detroit, where redevelopment or economic blight has left urban sites bereft of humans, are increasingly being colonized by coyotes, as well as other opportunists such as raccoons, opossums and even bobcats. Researchers have found a riot of non-human carnivores dwelling in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington DC.


[..] “We’re finding coyotes like almost everything or at least can survive on almost everything,” Nagy said as he trudged through the scrub and reeds in search of the Ferry Point camera trap. “A pack of wolves would need, like, the whole county. But not coyotes. They’ve lived kind of underfoot of both wolves and people for thousands of years. And so they’ve evolved to survive metaphorically running among the feet of the giants. “They’re my favorite animal. And I liked them before I started studying them. They’re clever. We’ve tried our best to eradicate them and they’ve thwarted us at every turn. I really admire that, I guess.”

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Between these hollow drips, Greta in Davos and Carney as the UN climate go-to finance guy, 2020 could well be the year when the entire movement dies of good but misguided intentions. If you turn to the billionaires to solve the issue, they will instead end up purchasing it and selling it off for profit.

Earthshot: William And Kate Launch Prize To ‘Repair The Earth’ (BBC)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced a global prize to tackle climate issues, pledging “a decade of action to repair the Earth”. Five winners will receive the Earthshot Prize every year between 2021 and 2030. The cash prize will be for individuals or organisations who come up with solutions to environmental problems. Prince William said the world faces a “stark choice” to continue “irreparably” damaging the planet or “lead, innovate and problem-solve”. The announcement was made in a video narrated by Sir David Attenborough posted on social media. The veteran broadcaster and naturalist said the prize would go to “visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time”.


The prize is set to launch officially later in 2020 – a year that will also see the Convention on Biodiversity in China in February and the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November. A series of challenges will be announced, aimed at finding least 50 solutions to the “world’s greatest problems” including climate change and air pollution. More than 60 organisations and experts were consulted in the development the prize. It will initially be run by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but could become an independent organisation. Kensington Palace said it would be supported by philanthropists and organisations.

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