Dec 142020
 


Adolphe Yvon Genius of America c1870

 

Data Shows Ample US Hospital Capacity Nationwide (JTN)
‘Autoantibodies’ May Be Driving Severe Covid Cases (G.)
‘Like Nothing Happened’: Sydney Restaurants Are Bustling (AFR)
Ivermectin May Improve the Prognosis of Patients With COVID-19 (Science)
Sen. Manchin: Bipartisan COVID19 Relief Plan To Be Released On Monday (JTN)
Electoral College Voting Is Slated For Monday (JTN)
China’s Global Power Tops The US? New Measures Say No! (Brands)
Major Leak Of Members ‘Lifts The Lid’ On The Chinese Communist Party (Sky.au)
Expect the Most Evictions in History as Ban Expires (Mish)
Iowa Autopsy Report: DNC Meddling Led To Caucus Debacle (Pol.)
Hillary So Far Finds No Role On Team Biden (JTN)
Britons Told Not To Stockpile Food Ahead Of January (BBC)
President Trump Open to the Idea of Pardoning Edward Snowden (LH)

 

 

 

 

Too much panicking about this. To know if a system is overwhelmed at any given point, you must know what its normal occupancy rate is. 90% capacity sounds scary, but not if it’s always at that capacity this time of year.

Data Shows Ample US Hospital Capacity Nationwide (JTN)

As fears persist of overwhelmed medical systems and at-capacity hospitals nationwide, data indicate that ample hospital space remains available for both COVID-19 patients and other medical needs, with one official at a major hospital network stating that the country is “managing pretty well” the latest surge of COVID-19. For most of 2020, rising positive test results of COVID-19 have brought with them fears of swamped hospitals, overwhelmed medical systems, emergency patients being turned away, and COVID-19 patients being triaged, suffering and dying in hallways and vestibules. Much of that fear crystallized in the early stages of the pandemic, when parts of the northern Italian medical system were put under significant strain due to a crush of COVID-19 patients.

In response, leaders and medical officials around the world suspended elective surgeries and constructed emergency medical facilities to cope with anticipated waves of COVID-19 patients. In many cases those facilities were eventually shuttered for lack of patients, even after millions of dollars had been invested in their construction. In Chicago, for instance, the city spent $120,000,000 on four facilities to treat a total of 38 patients. The latest spike in positive COVID tests has brought renewed fears of hospitals straining under an influx of COVID-19 patients, with some facilities across the country reporting difficulties managing large numbers of patients, either from a dwindling number of scarce beds or not enough medical officials to man them, or both.

Yet federal government data compiled from state-level reports suggests that hospitals nationwide have considerable space left to deal with both routine medical issues and COVID-19 patients. The Department of Health and Human Services offers on its website estimates of hospitalization rates across the United States. The data, the department says, is “estimated from hospital submissions, either reported through their state or reported through HHS Protect,” which the department describes as “a secure data ecosystem … for sharing, parsing, housing, and accessing COVID-19 data.” The HHS numbers belie forecasts of impending collapse of the U.S. medical system. As of Saturday, the department estimated that hospitals nationwide were at about 75% capacity. ICU beds were even lower, at 63.5%. Patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 occupied just under 15% of all beds nationwide.

Even in areas that have recently posted huge surges in positive COVID tests, the numbers were largely similar to the national average: In New York, 76% of hospital beds (and 61% of ICU beds) were taken. Dr. Joanne Roberts, the chief value officer of Providence St. Joseph Health system, told Just the News that “a well-functioning hospital probably runs about 85% capacity on an average day.” The problem, she pointed out, is that a virus like COVID-19 can “quickly overwhelm that last 15%” due to its virulency and ability to send a significant number of patients to the hospital at once.

Read more …

“Because antibodies can persist for a long time, it’s conceivable that they may contribute to the development of long-Covid diseases..”

‘Autoantibodies’ May Be Driving Severe Covid Cases (G.)

Dramatic levels of “friendly fire” from the immune system may drive severe Covid-19 disease and leave patients with “long Covid” – when medical problems persist for a significant time after the virus has been beaten – scientists have said. Researchers at Yale University found that Covid-19 patients had large numbers of misguided antibodies in their blood that targeted the organs, tissues and the immune system itself, rather than fighting off the invading virus. The scientists compared immune responses in patients and uninfected people and discovered scores of aberrant antibodies in the former.These blocked antiviral defences, wiped out helpful immune cells, and attacked the body on multiple fronts, from the brain, blood vessels and liver to connective tissue and the gastrointestinal tract.

Further tests revealed that the more “autoantibodies” patients had in their blood, the worse their disease. The Covid-19 patients had more antibodies that had turned on them than people with lupus, an autoimmune disease caused by similar wayward antibodies. “Covid-19 patients make autoantibodies that actually interfere with immune responses against the virus,” said Aaron Ring, an immunobiologist at Yale and senior author on the study. Numerous other autoantibodies attacked parts of the body that are known to become damaged in those with the disease. “We certainly believe that these autoantibodies are harmful to patients with Covid-19,” said Ring, adding that the harmful effects may well continue after the infection has abated, leaving patients with longer-lasting medical problems. “Because antibodies can persist for a long time, it’s conceivable that they may contribute to the development of long-Covid diseases,” he said. Ring partnered with Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale, to screen 194 patients and hospital workers with varying severities of Covid infection for autoantibodies that targeted nearly 3,000 human proteins.

Antibodies disable viruses by latching on to proteins on the virus surface, but autoantibodies are the wrong shape and mistakenly bind to proteins that are on, or have been released by, human cells. Writing in the study, which has yet to be peer reviewed and published in a journal, the scientists describe how Covid patients had “dramatic increases in autoantibody reactivities” compared with 30 healthy hospital workers who did not have the virus. While certain autoantibodies in some patients were apparently present before Covid-19 infection, others appeared and ramped up as the disease progressed. More than 5% of hospitalised patients had autoantibodies that weakened a key arm of the immune defence that is orchestrated by proteins called interferons. These patients were unable to control the amount of virus in their bodies and so developed more serious illness.

Read more …

Has the word “ivermectin” been banned on social media? I see people spell it as iv3rm3ctin.

Ivermectin May Improve the Prognosis of Patients With COVID-19 (Science)

Dear Editor:
The pandemic coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been spread rapidly worldwide with considerable morbidity and mortality. COVID-19 patients have various clinical presentations: asymptomatic, exhibit mild flu-like symptoms, be severely ill or death. In addition to elder age and comorbidities, higher levels of D-dimer and C-reactive protein (CRP) and lower levels of lymphocyte and eosinophil as well as a cytokine storm are associated with disease severity in COVID-19 patients. The virus load may be a main determinant underlying the pathological diversity in COVID-19 patients.

Thus, an effective antiviral treatment is essential to improve the prognosis of patients with COVID-19.7 In the absence of specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents, various drugs with antiviral potential are now used to contain the virus in COVID-19 patients. Ivermectin, a US FDA-approved anthelminthic, has garnered enormous interest for treating COVID-19 as it is safe and cheap and has strong antiviral activities against board ranges of viruses including SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Despite the widespread use of ivermectin, to our knowledge, there is currently no published clinical reports of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients. Here, we assessed the clinical efficacy of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients.

This retrospective study enrolled a total of 325 consecutive patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of nasal swabs in SK hospital, a unit dedicated to COVID-19 at Mymensingh Medical College Hospital (MMCH), Mymensingh, Bangladesh, from April to June 2020. Of these, the present study included 248 adult COVID-19 patients free from any other serious pathological conditions: 115 received ivermectin plus standard care (SC), while 133 received only SC. Remaining 77 patients who were under 18 years of age or transferred from other facilities and received different management approaches including partial hospital stays or treated with different therapeutic agents prior to hospital admission were excluded from the analysis.

The two groups were compared in terms of time to SARS-CoV-2 negativity, disease progression (develop pneumonia to severe respiratory distress), duration of hospital stays, and mortality rate. Ivermectin was given once at dose of 12 mg within 24-h after hospital admission. SC was provided as required and included antipyretics for fever, anti-histamines for cough, and antibiotics to control secondary infection. The study was approved by MMCH and informed consent was obtained from all patients or their relatives before starting treatment. Categorical variables are shown as frequencies and percentages and continuous variables as the median and interquartile range (IQR). Differences with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed to show the level of certainty. Paired t-tests or Pearson Chi-square test were used to analyze statistical differences. All calculations were performed using SAS, version 9.4 (Cary, NC, USA).

Read more …

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world…

‘Like Nothing Happened’: Sydney Restaurants Are Bustling (AFR)

At lunchtime in Barangaroo in downtown Sydney, it’s as though the pandemic never happened. Restaurants and cafes are bustling, and Matias Munoz, assistant manager at Bel and Brio, says the Italian restaurant has been flat out from open to close. “I think it’s because they’ve had a really tough year and they want to celebrate. That’s what the customers say to me,” Mr Munoz said. The NSW government on Monday lifted a public health order requiring employers to let staff work from home in the hope of bringing customers back to struggling city businesses. New mobility data shows residents in most capital cities are driving more than ever, with Sydney 17 per cent above the benchmark set in January before the pandemic lockdown.

Capacity on NSW’s public transport is being boosted as the government rolls back health restrictions and social distancing requirements. Most employers do not plan to bring workers back to their desks until early next year, and consumer data shows hospitality venues in central business districts have been gutted. But tell that to Mr Munoz, whose restaurant reopened in July after the first lockdown. “We reopened and it looked like nothing happened. People were coming like normal,” he said. The restaurant is handling 400 bookings per day. Trade lulled during the early days of Victoria’s second wave as even Sydneysiders stayed home before quickly recovering.

“Compared to the last year, we’re doing the same numbers,” Mr Munoz said. Even on a Monday, typically their quietest day, the restaurant is packed. Joseph Le, manager at nearby Lotus, was overseeing a full house and said it was good to be back to normal after the worrying he experienced during the early days of the pandemic. “[I thought] am I going to lose my job? How can I pay my bills?” Mr Le said. “I’m so happy and lucky to be here.”

Read more …

Better get it done, and done well. It’s Christmas time.

Sen. Manchin: Bipartisan COVID19 Relief Plan To Be Released On Monday (JTN)

Senator Joe Manchin during an interview on Fox News Sunday with host Chris Wallace said that a bipartisan group of lawmakers’ proposed COVID-19 relief legislation will be released on Monday. Wallace asked if a $908 billion compromise plan is off the table, and if there were a chance that Congress would leave Washington for the rest of the year without passing a COVID relief bill. Manchin responded that “the plan is alive and well,” and he shot down the concept of Congress skipping town before approving any relief. “We’ll have a bill produced for the American people tomorrow, $908 billion dollars,” the West Virginia Democrat said about the proposal that will be shared. “We’re trying to get through the toughest first quarter of our country that we’ve ever faced.”


Manchin said he could not guarantee that the legislation would pass. “But I can tell you one thing: What’s the alternative? What are you going to do? We’ve given one month, day and night, our staffs have worked around the clock,” he said. “We’ve done everything we can to put an all-inclusive product together. Pick whatever parts you like, whatever parts you don’t like. Put it all together or take it as a whole. We’re gonna give it to you the way we think the American people need it. In an emergency situation, we need this legislation.”

Read more …

Sidney Powell announced 4 major cases to go before SCOTUS. We’re not done yet, but we’re getting there.

Electoral College Voting Is Slated For Monday (JTN)

Members of the Electoral College will cast their votes for president on Monday, with Joe Biden expected to receive 306 electoral votes compared to just 232 for President Trump. A candidate must secure 270 to win the presidency. The step comes as President Trump has so far chosen not to concede to Biden, filing a host of lawsuits alleging that fraud tainted the 2020 election. The U.S. Constitution provides that each state will have a quantity of electors equivalent to the combined number of senators and House members that the state is entitled to have in the nation’s legislature. Thus, states with larger populations have more electoral votes than states with smaller populations. The candidate who wins the national popular vote does not always win the Electoral College vote.

But the Electoral College vote, not the national popular vote, determines which candidate wins the presidential contest. The Associated Press reported that the Electoral College does not meet in one central location, but electors for every state and the District of Columbia gather at a location selected by their own legislature. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states award all of their Electoral College votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote. Nevada and Maine divide their Electoral College votes between the statewide winner and the victor in each congressional district. “Maine awards two of its four electoral votes to the statewide winner, but also allocates an electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each of its two congressional districts,” according to CBS News. “Nebraska gives two of its five electoral votes to the statewide winner, with the remaining three going to the popular vote winner in each of its three congressional districts.”

“In 32 states and the District of Columbia, laws require electors to vote for the popular-vote winner,” the AP reported. “Electors almost always vote for the state winner anyway, because they generally are devoted to their political party,” the outlet noted. On Jan. 6, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over a joint session of the U.S. Congress and the votes will be counted. If a minimum of one lawmaker from each chamber of the nation’s bicameral legislature objects via writing to some electoral votes, each chamber would debate the matter separately. “An objection to a state’s electoral vote must be approved by both houses in order for any contested votes to be excluded,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

Read more …

How to measure power.

China’s Global Power Tops The US? New Measures Say No! (Brands)

Traditionally, measures of power focused on attributes such as population, energy consumption and production of steel or other indicators of industrial strength. In the information age, these indices tell us relatively little about whether a country can get its way in world affairs. It is still common, though, to assess power through blunt measures like GDP or military spending. Analysts who argue that Beijing is overtaking the U.S. habitually note that China’s GDP may soon surpass America’s. But GDP is a snapshot of activity rather than a measure of overall wealth. Some countries that spend massively on military power, such as Saudi Arabia, are quite useless in projecting it. So how can we determine the balance of advantage in a long rivalry? The groundbreaking academic work is giving us better answers.

The first category focuses on refining our grasp of economic and military might. Michael Beckley of the American Enterprise Institute (where I am also a fellow) has developed a model that measures net power rather than gross power by accounting for things such as security costs (“the price a government pays to police and protect its citizens”) and production costs (how much it costs, in material and environmental degradation, to build that coal power plant). He finds, not surprisingly, that the U.S. fares far better than China, an authoritarian state with vast internal security costs and a prodigiously wasteful approach to stimulating growth. Similarly, it is critical that American per capita GDP dwarfs China’s, because that means the U.S. has more wealth left over, after it feeds its population, to pursue global influence. Other work has better accounted for the way wealth accrues over time, and found that the U.S. will still have far more overall economic power than China even after China’s GDP eclipses America’s.

The second category better captures the reality of “network power.” In a landmark paper published in 2019, Abraham Newman of Georgetown University and Henry Farrell, my colleague at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, argue that the centrality of the dollar to international financial networks — which persists, despite decades of handwringing about its decline — gives the U.S. outsized coercive leverage. Scholars have also affirmed something that policymakers have long understood: America punches far above its own weight in global affairs, because of the network of military, economic and diplomatic partners it leads. China has nothing equivalent.

The third category accounts for less tangible forms of power. For decades, analysts have grasped that soft power — the degree of admiration and emulation a country inspires — matters enormously. An intriguing study by Ted Hopf of the National University of Singapore, Bentley Allan of Johns Hopkins and Srdjan Vucetic of the University of Ottawa demonstrates that, even though America’s global favorability ratings have plummeted under President Donald Trump, there remains strong global support for democracy and free-market economic policies. That’s a body blow for an authoritarian, mercantilist China, which, the authors predict, “is unlikely to become the hegemon in the near term.” It also helps explain why European states are systematically turning away from Beijing even amid enormous turbulence in their relations with the U.S.

Read more …

A lot of interest in China these days.

Major Leak Of Members ‘Lifts The Lid’ On The Chinese Communist Party (Sky.au)

A major leak containing a register with the details of nearly two million CCP members has occurred – exposing members who are now working all over the world, while also lifting the lid on how the party operates under Xi Jinping, says Sharri Markson. Ms Markson said the leak is a register with the details of Communist Party members, including their names, party position, birthday, national ID number and ethnicity. “It is believed to be the first leak of its kind in the world,” the Sky News host said. “What’s amazing about this database is not just that it exposes people who are members of the communist party, and who are now living and working all over the world, from Australia to the US to the UK,” Ms Markson said. “But it’s amazing because it lifts the lid on how the party operates under President and Chairman Xi Jinping”.


Ms Markson said the leak demonstrates party branches are embedded in some of the world’s biggest companies and even inside government agencies. “Communist party branches have been set up inside western companies, allowing the infiltration of those companies by CCP members – who, if called on, are answerable directly to the communist party, to the Chairman, the president himself,” she said. “Along with the personal identifying details of 1.95 million communist party members, mostly from Shanghai, there are also the details of 79,000 communist party branches, many of them inside companies”. Ms Markson said the leak is a significant security breach likely to embarrass Xi Jinping. “It is also going to embarrass some global companies who appear to have no plan in place to protect their intellectual property from theft. From economic espionage,” she said.

Read more …

In a pandemic. Is there a worse idea possible?

Expect the Most Evictions in History as Ban Expires (Mish)

“Millions of U.S. renters face the prospect of eviction in January unless federal officials extend protections put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. That month is when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on evictions is set to expire. The moratorium protects tenants who have missed monthly rent payments from being thrown out of their homes if they declare financial hardship. The CDC ordered the halt on evictions under the Public Health Service Act, which allows the federal government to enact regulations that help stop the spread of infectious diseases. Between 2.4 million and 5 million American households are at risk of eviction in January alone, and millions more will be vulnerable in the months after, according to estimates from the investment bank and financial-advisory firm Stout Risius Ross.

Landlords have already filed more than 150,000 eviction petitions during the pandemic in the 27 cities tracked by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. Many of those tenants have lost their cases, and are now on the hook for all their back rent.” ‘I don’t see how it’s possible that we’re not going to see more evictions on Jan. 1 than we’ve ever seen in a month,’ said John Pollock, staff attorney at the Public Justice Center It’s easy to sympathize with tenants but what about landlords who cannot pay mortgages? Are we to postpone evictions forever while landlords lose their property? There has been no discussion in any of the recent Covid packages for further moratoriums nor aid to landlords who have not been paid for months. So unless there is specific aid sufficient aid in the bill to allow tenants to catch up, millions of evictions are on the way.

Read more …

After protecting the DNC for years, the press suddenly wake up?!

Iowa Autopsy Report: DNC Meddling Led To Caucus Debacle (Pol.)

Democratic National Committee meddling, combined with missteps by the state Democratic Party, were the primary drivers of the chaos that torpedoed the Iowa caucuses earlier this year, according to a new audit commissioned by the state party. The report, which was distributed to the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee at a meeting Saturday morning and obtained by POLITICO, identified a series of errors made by the DNC, IDP and the technology company contracted by the state party to build a reporting app to collect caucus results. The February caucuses were overrun by foul-ups: The state party was unable to report a winner on caucus night, the mobile app to report results failed to work for many precinct chairs, the back-up telephone systems were jammed and some precincts had initial reporting errors.

The state party chair, Troy Price, resigned in the wake of the debacle, which put Iowa’s status as the first in the nation nominating contest in serious jeopardy. But the report pins the blame squarely on the DNC for the heart of the problem on caucus night — the delay in the reporting of the results. According to the report, the DNC demanded the technology company, Shadow, build a conversion tool just weeks before the caucuses to allow the DNC to have real-time access to the raw numbers because the national party feared the app would miscalculate results. The DNC’s data system used a different database format than Shadow’s reporting app, which caused multiple problems.

“Attempting to graft an entirely new software element onto the back-end reporting system at the proverbial eleventh hour is likely always going to be problematic, and it was ultimately the cause of a major problem on caucus night,” the report concludes. “Furthermore, the IDP was not involved in the development of this tool. The IDP simply permitted the DNC to direct the IDP’s vendor.” The audit states the conversion tool had coding errors that spit out inaccurate numbers and caused confusion about the accuracy of the results, eventually leading to delays in reporting. But the state party’s app never malfunctioned nor was hacked, the report concludes.

“When the DNC’s database conversion tool failed to work correctly, it caused the DNC to wrongly stop the IDP from reporting its results, and the IDP’s entire planned reporting process was thrown into disarray,” the report says. “The DNC’s interjection was the catalyst for the resulting chaos in the boiler room and in the IDP’s attempts to manually collect and confirm caucus results by hand. If the DNC had not interjected itself into the results reporting process based on its erroneous data conversion, caucus night could conceivably have proceeded according to the IDP’s initial plan.”

Read more …

But Samantha Power is back in, it appears.

Hillary So Far Finds No Role On Team Biden (JTN)

Have you noticed? Hillary Clinton is suddenly — and finally — nowhere to be found. Well before she lost the 2016 presidential election to President Trump, the former first lady pushed a conspiracy theory that eventually grew into a major, two-year investigation: Trump had colluded with the Russians in order to alter the outcome of the race. That didn’t pan out, but Hillary had other excuses. For months — which turned into years — she blamed FBI Director James Comey, Russia, computer bots, WikiLeaks, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Facebook, Joe Biden, fake news, Twitter, voter ID laws, the vast right-wing conspiracy, sexism, Barack Obama, ageism, child sex pervert Anthony Weiner, white women, xenophobia, black people, the Electoral College, the Democratic National Committee, misogyny, women cowed by their husbands, and even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (how America’s Mayor caused Clinton to lose Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Michigan and Florida is anybody’s guess).

But the mainstream media despises Trump, and Clinton was a reliable gadfly, so she stayed in the news regularly. She even made millions hawking her book, “What Happened,” her take on why she lost the election. Yet it’s been more than a month since Election Day 2020, and Americans haven hardly heard a peep out of her. What’s more, the former secretary of state for President Barack Obama has been given no role in a prospective Biden administration, even though at 72 she’s younger the 78-year-old Biden. It’s not like Biden hasn’t made room for others from former administrations. After all, he found room as climate czar for John Kerry, who served as secretary of state from 2013 to 2017 under Obama. But so far, nothing for Clinton.

Clinton’s omission is odd, given that she won nearly 66 million votes in 2016. She also represents a powerful wing of the party — albeit an old and fading faction — along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who remains extremely popular with the rank and file of the party. And she’s got the bona fides: Secretary of State, two-term senator, and architect of a planned overhaul of health care that eventually morphed into Obamacare. As Biden made room for Kerry on climate, he could give Clinton a role on health care. And the former vice president could tap Hillary’s decades of experience, even if just as an adviser, whether formal or informal.

Shortly after Election Day, rumors circulated that Biden was considering Clinton for a role in his administration, perhaps as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The move “would be a way for Biden to highlight the importance of that position in his administration, and that placing her there would raise the prestige of the U.N. itself at a time when global cooperation and the U.S. role on the world stage, has ebbed,” sources told the Washington Post. But a few weeks later, Biden picked Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the foreign service who oversaw the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration, for the slot.

Read more …

Yes, you got that right. The day after the UK government tells supermarkets to stockpile food, they now tell their citizens to do the opposite. Sweet Jesus.

Britons Told Not To Stockpile Food Ahead Of January (BBC)

Households have been warned not to stockpile food and toilet roll ahead of 1 January when the UK stops trading under EU rules. On Sunday, the UK and the EU agreed to extend a deadline aimed at reaching a deal on post-Brexit trade. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said ongoing uncertainty made it harder for firms to prepare for the New Year. But it said shops had plenty of supplies and shoppers must not buy more food than usual. “Retailers are doing everything they can to prepare for all eventualities on 1 January – increasing the stock of tins, toilet rolls and other longer life products so there will be sufficient supply of essential products,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.


“While no amount of preparation by retailers can entirely prevent disruption there is no need for the public to buy more food than usual as the main impact will be on imported fresh produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, which cannot be stored for long periods by either retailers or consumers.” Supermarkets are now used to dealing with anxious shoppers. During the first lockdown earlier this year to stop the spread of the coronavirus, grocers introduced limits on goods such as toilet roll, dried pasta and UHT milk after panic buying by Britons. There are fears shoppers might think disruption at ports after 31 December could lead to shortages in shops as the UK transitions to new trading rules with the EU.

Read more …

Of course Snowden has urged him to pardon Assange.

President Trump Open to the Idea of Pardoning Edward Snowden (LH)

The push to have President Trump pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is heating up as a group in Congress has been urging the President to do the right thing and free this patriot. There have been a growing list of Republicans and Democrats that are pushing the outgoing President to do the right thing and grant a full and complete pardon of Snowden so he can return home to the United States. Edward Snowden is famous for declassifying an NSA program that was used to spy on the American people. He has been hunted for years by the federal government and has sought asylum in multiple countries.

Currently he resides in Russia where is viewed in Liberty circles as a patriot for his act to expose the governments attempt to pry into the lives of ordinary Americans. He deserves a pardon and Trump needs to use one of his last acts as President to make history right. Call your Congressman and women and urge them to put pressure of the White House. Contact the White House as well using this link.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 082020
 
 November 8, 2020  Posted by at 4:22 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Jasper Johns Three flags 1958

 

 

Since the US has no official institution to call an election soon after the polls have closed, and people want a result fast, it has befallen on the media to make the announcement. And by and large, this hasn’t been that big a deal. But when those same media have for 4 years relentlessly hounded one of the two candidates, it should be obvious that this “system” should not be applied. If only because it has no legal status whatsoever.

However, people both in the US and abroad don’t appear to be aware of this. So when the New York Times et al declare a winner, this is seen as an “official” announcement. It is not. That won’t come until the Electoral College gathers in December (8-14th?!). And at least until then, Trump will have every right to contest the election in court. Still, “world leaders” are congratulating the “next president”. Do they really not know how this works?

The idea behind it all is obvious, of course: to make Trump look like a sore loser, and Biden the president-elect, a title the media claim they can bestow upon him. Do remember that both Biden’s and Kamala’s campaign were considered dead in the water at one point, before they were magically resurrected by the party machine, which ensured that =two people very unpopular in their own party now lead the ticket. Be careful what you wish for.

In that light. I found this intriguing. Twitter adds a warning to this Trump tweet: “Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted”. I haven’t seen one instance where they attached the same warning to tweets about Biden winning and being President Elect. But wouldn’t that be the same thing?

 

 

No, I don’t particularly mind Biden winning, Washington is a shit hole whoever occupies the White House and other posts, but this is not about Biden. It’s about the people behind him. About the people who elected him to be a candidate, and that’s not his voters; it’s the DNC, the FBI and media that made him possible.

Everyone in the MSM is talking about Trump’s alleged lies, as they have for 5 screeching years, main news networks on Thursday even cut off/short a speech by the President of the United States -that must be a first-, but nobody reflects on the 5-year neverending constant lies they have all told ABOUT Trump, on the entire Russiagate episode, the Mueller report based on only lies, the whole shebang.

The DNC that paid for the Steele dossier without which there would never have been a Mueller special counsel, commissioned by Rod Rosenstein when he was Deputy Attorney General, which was based on lies, exclusively, the FBI that used the Dossier to falsify FISA applications, people like Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi who kept on lying about having evidence of Russian collusion.

And still these are the people accusing Trump of lying. And they feel they can get away with it, because their media also incessantly repeated their lies, and is still doing that. Forget for a moment about what you think about Donald Trump, and tell me how you feel about an attempt to unseat an elected American president with nothing but lies.

Do you think that will be a one-off? If so, you’re blind. If Joe Biden and his handlers ever get into the White House, respect for the Office of the Presidency will still be gone, and it will be for a long time, decades. That’s the price the American people pay for the attempt to unseat Trump based on lies only. Do you really feel that’s a price worth paying? I suggest you give that some serious thought.

 

 

With Biden you don’t get Biden, you get the entire cabal that went after Trump, the Democratic Party, the media, the intelligence agencies. And yes, Biden was and is very much part of that cabal. How people do not find that a whole lot scarier than Donald Trump is beyond me.

If -and no that is not when- Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20 2021, that cabal will take over the country. And we’ve seen plenty indications that they intend to make it impossible for the Republicans to ever get one of their own elected as president again. Moreover they will not be investigated for what they concocted over the past 4-5 years.

How the Hillary campaign and the DNC leaked things to the FBI, and the FBI to the MSM, how they lied in courtrooms to get FISA applications on Trump campaign people like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. How they set up Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn so he wouldn’t be Trump’s National Security Adviser, because Flynn knew too much.

It’s a scheme so full of illegal actions that it will be devastating for the entire American political system if it is never investigated, or even if it isn’t investigated very very thoroughly, by an impartial party. And it won’t be if Biden becomes president.

The cabal wants you to think this is about Trump, and any given way to get rid of him is justifiable no matter what, but that is a very dangerous way of thinking. If crimes have been committed, they must be brought into daylight and before a court.

Problem is, of course, that at least half the nation has no idea of what’s been going on. Because they get their news and information from those media that are in on the whole deal. They won’t know that the DNC paid for the Steele Dossier, or that is was just a bunch of lies, or that the FBI knew this even before Rosenstein appointed Mueller as Special Counsel. All that has been kept away from them.

 

 

And yes, 4 years ago Trump said he would fight the swamp, but landed right in the middle of it. Early in his presidency he found himself surrounded by the likes of McMaster, John Kelly, Tillerson, and many other swamp creatures, and today he still has people like Mike Pompeo. But at least Trump is an outsider, and if anything can ever be done to drain the swamp, it will have to come from an outsider. That it may take more than 4 years is something we have to take for granted.

The swamp has fought back, and they may yet win. Joe Biden is the face of that. But people who celebrate that victory should think again, whether they like Trump or not. The swamp is not good for you, and it’s not good for your country, your rights, your freedoms. Its entire MO is to take all these away from you. This is not a partisan thing; the fat ass of the swamp easily fits and sits across the divide.

Joe Biden is not Joe Biden, the man doesn’t stand for anything other than holding on to power while getting richer off that power. He’s done it for 47 years. Term limits are desperately needed in Washington, but the only people who can make that decision are those who profit most from not having term limits. If there’s one area where McConnell and Schumer and Pelosi and Lindsey Graham agree, it’s that.

And meanwhile, Trump, unlike Joe Biden, is just Trump. He doesn’t represent a cabal, or a swamp. Even if he’s surrounded by them. Trump is not the biggest threat to America, that’s just something they’ve been wanting you to think for the past 4 years. Successfully, too, for millions of Americans.

The swamp is the biggest threat, whether their handpuppets come in a Democratic or Republican disguise. But to recognize that, you would have to be able to think for yourself, and if you read or watch the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, you simply can’t do that. You just think you can.

 

 

 

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Oct 052020
 


Leonardo da Vinci A Copse of Trees 1508

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Motorcade
https://twitter.com/alexplitsas/status/1312892097616400387

 

 

US national security

 

 

Seek Help

 

 

 

 

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

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

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


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

Read more …

Again, a new viewpoint.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

Fireworks.

Supreme Court To Commence New Term On Monday (JTN)

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

Tulsi has balls.

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

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

Assange superpower

 

 

Carl Sagan Are you a socialist?

 

 

 

 

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Aug 272020
 
 August 27, 2020  Posted by at 1:16 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Leon Levinstein Head of Man with Hat and Cigar c1960

 

 

A Pew Research Center poll that’s already a month old (and a lot happened since) concluded that violent crime is a major issue according to 59% of voters (almost as much as coronavirus): 74% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats. But during the DNC, held after the poll was already out, the issue wasn’t addressed at all. Democrats talked about police violence, but not riot violence.

At this week’s RNC, this situation is -of course- very different. The DNC pushes the GOP into the role of the party of law and order, and they’re all too willing to take up that role. But I was wondering about something else, or “bigger”, this morning. That is, Joe Biden et al are very light on policies, because in their view their most important issue is to get people to vote *against* Donald Trump, rather than *for* Biden.

And I’m thinking maybe that’s starting to boomerang, to blow up in their faces, whether perhaps people are beginning to lean towards NOT voting for Joe Biden, instead of NOT voting for Donald Trump, “at any cost”. In that context, it appears telling that according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, Biden saw no “convention poll bounce” in his numbers after the DNC, while ironically, Trump did.

Whereas according to a Zogby Analytics poll, Trump’s job approval numbers are now at record high levels. And I know polls -and pollsters- can be biased, and so can the press quoting them, but to see three in a row, Reuters/Ipsos, Rasmussen, Zogby, all reporting similar movement, may still be significant.

Trump Job Approval Rating Hits Record At 52%

Buoyed by blacks and independent voters, as well as urban dwellers shocked by the Black Lives Matter protest violence raging in some cities, President Trump’s approval rating has hit a new high, according to a survey heavy with minority voters. The latest Zogby Analytics poll just shared with Secrets had Trump’s approval at 52%. “The president has recorded his best job approval rating on record,” said pollster Jonathan Zogby.


What’s more, his approval rating among minorities was solid and, in the case of African Americans, shockingly high. Zogby said 36% of blacks approve of the president, as do 37% of Hispanics and 35% of Asians. Approval among independent voters is also up, to 44%. And “intriguingly,” said Zogby, 23% of Democrats approve of Trump.

It was the latest to show that Trump’s approval went up during the Democratic National Convention. Rasmussen Reports had it at 51% at the end of the convention. In a shock from past election years, Joe Biden got no convention poll bounce, according to a newly released Reuters/Ipsos poll. [..] Zogby, in his analysis, took a stab at the reasoning. First, he said, his and other polls are confirming that the nation is nearly evenly divided politically and that despite some showing a big Biden lead, the race is extremely close.


He suggested that the battle is for the “10%-20%” who haven’t made their minds up on whom to vote for and who likely won’t make up their minds until Election Day, just like in 2016. “We are as polarized a nation, on a level not seen since the Civil War,” said Zogby. He also said that the violence playing out in cities such as Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon, are pushing urban voters to Trump.

A fresh Rasmussen poll about Biden’s lead in the polls (which reached double digits not long ago), indicates that there’s not much left of that lead. That, but the way, is similar to a CNN poll a number of weeks ago. Significantly, Rasmussen suggests that: Even if Biden’s now-slim lead in the polls were to remain frozen as of today, Trump would still have a clear path to an electoral college victory.

Biden’s Polling Lead Has Collapsed

Just a month and a half ago, Rasmussen Reports had Joe Biden 10-points ahead of President Donald Trump in the polls. Now he’s only ahead by one point, within the margin of error. Even if Biden’s now-slim lead in the polls were to remain frozen as of today, Trump would still have a clear path to an electoral college victory, as Hillary Clinton lead Trump in the popular vote by just over two points in the 2016 election. While it is impossible to know the exact reason (or reasons) for Biden’s polling collapse, it comes as the economy continues to rebound from the coronavirus, riots continue to ravage liberal run cities longer than anyone expected (to no condemnation from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris)..


[..] Rasmussen was among the closest mainstream pollster in approximating the popular vote in the 2016 election. Rasmussen had Hillary Clinton up 1.7 points over Trump on election day 2016, while she ended up winning the popular vote by 2.1 points above him (48.2% vs. 46.1%). The Real Clear Politics average of polls had Hillary up for six points. Unlike the other polls, Rasmussen correctly saw Trump had a path to victory in the electoral college.

Rasmussen

 

And of course Don Lemon warned yesterday on CNN that Biden has to start addressing the riots, because by remaining silent he’s letting Trump run away with the issue. But it’s not entirely clear how Biden would do that: the Democrats have supported BLM and protesters -as well as rioters- in general for most of the year, and now they would have to turn against them?

The sports boycotts that yesterday came seemingly out of nowhere all at the same time, look like they’re well intentioned but too late. There is too much news, and there are too many videos, out there to keep portraying what’s happening in the streets of Kenosha and Minneapolis and many other cities, as a one-sided problem. There is violence on both, or even many, sides.

Tonight, Thursday August 27, it’s Donald Trump’s turn to address the RNC, and the entire press, the entire nation, will pay attention. Nobody feels they can afford not to. Almost half the country will already have their minds made up about what a terrible person he is, while the other almost half will think he’s doing great. It’s the “10%-20%” who haven’t made their minds up that he must reach, and given how the country feels about violence in the streets, he may well succeed in reaching quite a few.

For which he can thank the DNC. “Orange Man Bad” may have once looked to be a winning strategy, but by now it feels mostly a limiting one.

 

 

 

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Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 222020
 
 August 22, 2020  Posted by at 10:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Steve Schapiro Robert Kennedy US Presidential Campaign 1968

 

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)
Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)
Where’s Tulsi? (RT)
This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)
The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)
Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )
Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)
AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)
What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)
Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

 

 

Passing 800,000 deaths globally is a sad milestone again, but US new cases had their best week since the end of June, so that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postmaster

 

 

Not sure every single person will see this as a reassuring message.

Amazing how little the man has to say who pretends to aid the entire world. When PPE corruption is one of your main talking points…

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in under two years. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 took two years to overcome. But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”. “Of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading,” he said. “But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity”.


The deadly flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people. The coronavirus has so far killed almost 800,000 people and infected 22.7 million more. Dr Tedros also responded to a question about corruption relating to personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, which he described as “criminal”. “Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” he answered. “However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”

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Well she actually said “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates..” But then, in states with lower case rates it should be even safer…

Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)

The doctor coordinating the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she believes it will be safe for voters to go to the polls in November. “Well, I can tell you it has been safe for me to go to Starbucks and pick up my order,” Dr. Deborah Birx told Just The News in an interview when asked about in-person voting. Birx has been traveling the country by car and one of her practices is to visit as many Starbucks as she can in an attempt to gauge whether people are wearing masks and socially distancing. She said her coffee experiences in states that have higher than normal COVID-19 cases, has led her to a conclusion about voting. “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates, then I can’t say that it would be different waiting in line in the polls,” Birx said.

Of course, she cautions that masks must be worn and social distancing must be adhered to. “I know there’s a way but you really do have to pay attention,” she added. Birx spoke Friday afternoon at the White House on a myriad of topics. While much of the discussion centered on vaccines and a potential timetable for a return to normal, she also revealed something personal: she’s been a victim of harassment and threats via technology. “I do get death threats, and I get text messages that are horrific,” she said. “I get stuff sent to my home where my daughters are that is shocking and their phones get shocking messages. All of that has been happening since March.”

In a way, Birx has a thankless job as she tries to navigate not just the reality of a deadly virus but the political realities as well. Most of the criticism has come from liberal Democrats who have criticized her for not doing enough to set the record straight on some of the president’s medical claims. Birx, who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades, said she will soldier on. “You just have to stay true to your own personal values,” she said. “I’ve never been asked to cross that line. I believe when people look back that they’ll find out that I personally never crossed that line.”

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The Tulsi treatment is the state of the DNC in a nutshell. Cancel culture at its finest, advertized as unity. And Bernie, AOC, Tulsi swallow it all.

Where’s Tulsi? (RT)

This week’s Democratic virtual gathering to nominate the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket for the November election was a triumph of party centrism over the progressive wing. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given a whopping 90 seconds to nominate Bernie Sanders in a technical procedure, and no members of her ‘squad’ were given the stage. Instead, a parade of speakers from both parties told Americans that replacing Donald Trump with Biden was the single most important task at hand. One other party outsider was noticeably absent at the convention. Tulsi Gabbard, the representative for Hawaii, was snubbed despite remaining in the primary race right until Biden’s imminent victory and winning two delegates.

In those metrics, she performed better than VP nominee Harris herself. Yet Gabbard “was not invited to participate in any way”, she confirmed on Twitter. Frankly speaking, she would have been welcomed at the convention about as gladly as evil witch Maleficent at the birthday party of Sleeping Beauty. Once considered a rising political star and given the same duty to nominate Sanders in 2016 as AOC this year, Gabbard has become a pariah in her own party over the past two years. Apparently, the Democratic leadership would rather give a platform to someone who helped lie the country into the 2003 Iraq invasion than to a woman who calls for an end to forever wars, some commenters noted. During the campaign, Gabbard stepped on quite a few toes. Going after Harris’s prosecutorial record was arguably the moment the California senator’s bid for presidency went sideways.

Guest of honor Pete Buttigieg, described by Biden as the future of the party, would probably not appreciate her either. After all, after he brought up her infamous trip to Syria during a debate, Gabbard gave him a lecture on the importance of talking to your adversaries. [..] The redbait smearing of Gabbard began early in her campaign. In February 2019, NBC declared her a “Russian favorite” based on the opinion of New Knowledge, the shady firm best known for fabricating a ‘Russian influence campaign’ during the 2017 Senate special election in Alabama. In October, the same attack was launched from the very top of the party establishment, as Hillary Clinton claimed the Kremlin was “grooming” Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate.

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1296591920538550273

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“As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain.”

This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)

Save a few protests from frustrated Sanders delegates, the convention was a pristine spectacle of celebrity-driven, limousine liberalism at its most cartoonish and out of touch. No one expected a politician like Clinton to remake herself as a populist figure. But the four-day elite love-in — hosted, no less, at a convention center bearing the name of one of the world’s biggest banks — was so dripping with Ivy League pretension and Hollywood glam that it looked more like an awards show than a democratic appeal to the citizens of a republic. November was still three, potentially perilous months away, and — despite a year of unexpected populist insurgencies from both the Left and right — Democrats were already measuring the drapes for an indefinite future residency in the White House.

When November finally did come, their complacency would be punished with the single greatest political upset in modern history. In more ways than one, this year’s DNC evoked an ominous feeling of deja vu. True enough, the context is very different. This time, Donald Trump is the incumbent president and America is in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Contra Clinton, the party’s nominee was merely the final centrist standing among what was this time a vast field of candidates rallying to neutralize Sanders — and, unlike its last standard-bearer, he was more the establishment’s measure of last resort than its first choice.

Notwithstanding these differences, the parallels between this week’s convention and the gilded spectacular of 2016 are difficult to overlook. Yet again, Democrats are headed into a consequential election with a Wall Street–friendly ticket raking in millions from financial concerns and doing its utmost to signal it has minimal interest in honoring key campaign pledges.

As in 2016, party leaders feel they can openly flaunt their contempt for a progressive left that has nowhere else to go while putting their chips on anti-Trump Republicans and conservative suburbanites (to that end, John Kasich and Colin Powell were featured prominently on the schedule while the Democrats’ brightest star got just over one minute).

With the state of the country inarguably worse than it was in 2016, this formula somehow looks even more out of touch than it did four years ago. During a moment of national reckoning with racism and police violence following the brutal murder of George Floyd, Democrats opted to give the architect of stop-and-frisk a prime-time speaking slot. As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain. Despite giving a speech that exceeded most expectations, their tribune is a candidate whose ability to win is privately doubted even by the people who proved most critical to his nomination.

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“With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them.”

The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)

Do we really have to worry about the Postal Service? That’s the latest faux controversy to dominate our political debate. It’s a sign of our times that even the mail system isn’t without controversy. As usual, there’s plenty of blame to go around on how we got into this mess. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reasonable to presume we need more absentee voting. Packing voters into overcrowded indoor polling places with long lines is not a good idea. Our government and politicians of all stripes have a duty to promote free and fair elections whether in person or absentee. That shouldn’t be a controversial idea. At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about universal mail-in voting.

Absentee voting is different. With absentee voting, a specific voter requests his or her specific ballot to vote by mail. That system has been used for years and — especially in the states doing it best — it works pretty well. Universal mail-in voting is different. With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them. Some places even allow for “ballot harvesting,” where a third party can collect ballots for many people and file them in bulk. This system has not traditionally been used widely, and it raises legitimate concerns over voter fraud. A 2018 North Carolina congressional election was in fact overturned after a state probe found that a Republican operative illegally collected ballots with forged signatures and filled in votes.

The Postal Service controversy falls in the midst of the very legitimate debate. We should all be able to agree that to the extent mail-in voting is used — the absentee variety would be my preference — the Postal Service has to be able to handle its role to ensure a fair election in a reasonable time frame. The Postal Service — which is supposed to operate independently based on funding from the postal fees it charges — has been losing money for years. Due to email and other forms of communication, we send about 30% fewer letters each year than we did just a decade ago. To combat this, the Postal Service has been reducing its operating costs. That all makes sense. Now comes the controversy part. There are three drivers contributing to it. Two are self-inflected by the Republicans, and one — likely the biggest — is being driven pretty disingenuously by the Democrats.

First, it would have made sense to pause some Postal Service operating cuts as it became more and more clear after COVID-19 that we were going to rely more on the mail this election cycle than in any other. Taking mail sorting machines out of service and cutting back on mailboxes that are less used may not be the best moves when you know the mail will be crucial for a national election. A pause in operating cuts makes sense in case the equipment is needed for real, substantive reasons — to ensure a fair and timely election — and also to induce confidence among the American people that our sacred right to vote will not be abridged due to the pandemic. This is exactly the justification the Postal Service provided this week when they finally announced such a pause. It was, of course, too late to stem the controversy.

Second, as is the case with so many controversies of this era, President Donald Trump did not do himself any favors with his comments on the matter. Trump said he opposed more money for the Postal Service because without that money, “You can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” The president is not wrong to question universal mail-in voting, but his statement that he was going to unilaterally in effect stop it through a holdup of postal funds only added fire to Democrats’ claims that he was against taking steps to have a fair election during the pandemic.

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Read of the day. Excellent. Where it all comes together.

Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )

The Best Defense… is a good offense, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of its study — call it “Mueller (Enhanced)” — and the propaganda fanfare — come at a key point in the Russiagate/Spygate imbroglio. It also came, curiously, as the Democratic Convention was beginning, as if the Republican-controlled Senate was sending Trump a message. One chief worry, of course, derives from the uncertainty as to whether John Durham, the US Attorney investigating those FBI and other officials who launched the Trump-Russia investigation will let some heavy shoes drop before the election. Barr has said he expects “developments in Durham’s investigation hopefully before the end of the summer.”

FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith already has decided to plead guilty to the felony of falsifying evidence used to support a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveillance to spy on Trump associate Carter Page. It is abundantly clear that Clinesmith was just a small cog in the deep-state machine in action against candidate and then President Trump. And those running the machine are well known. The president has named names, and Barr has made no bones about his disdain for what he calls spying on the president. The cognoscenti and the big fish themselves may be guessing that Trump/Barr/Durham will not throw out heavier lines for former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for example.

But how can they be sure? What has become clear is that the certainty they all shared that Hillary Clinton would be the next president prompted them not only to take serious liberties with the Constitution and the law, but also to do so without taking rudimentary steps to hide their tracks. The incriminating evidence is there. And as Trump becomes more and more vulnerable and defensive about his ineptness — particularly with regard to Covid-19 — he may summon the courage to order Barr and Durham to hook the big fish, not just minnows like Clinesmith. The neuralgic reality is that no one knows at this point how far Trump will go. To say that this kind of uncertainty is unsettling to all concerned is to say the obvious.

So, the stakes are high — for the Democrats, as well — and, not least, the LSM. In these circumstances it would seem imperative not just to circle the wagons but to mount the best offense/defense possible, despite the fact that virtually all the ammunition (as in the Senate report) is familiar and stale (“enhanced” or not). Black eyes might well be in store for the very top former law enforcement and intelligence officials, the Democrats, and the LSM — and in the key pre-election period. So, the calculation: launch “Mueller Report (Enhanced)” and catapult the truth now with propaganda, before it is too late.

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NATO is not capable of fighting Russia. But it can wage a one-sided domestic disinformation war.

Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)

Confrontation with Russia has become the sole reason for NATO’s existence, and this encourages instability in Europe, creating artificial dividing lines on the continent. That’s according to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The veteran diplomat told the Moscow daily Trud that everyone knows there are no real threats to security in Europe but that NATO needs to invent them in order to keep itself relevant. Lavrov also drew attention to the fact that Russia has repeatedly proposed measures to reduce tensions and reduce the risk of incidents on the continent. “Now, just like during the Cold War, fighting Russia on all fronts, including information and propaganda, has become the alliance’s reason for existence,” he explained.

“NATO has deployed extensive resources on the eastern flank, near our borders, including conducting exercises and improving military infrastructure.” “The alliance continues to expand its area of military and political influence, inviting all new countries under its ‘umbrella’ under the pretext of protecting them from Russia,” he added. Lavrov further explained that the alliance adheres to the line of “containment and dialogue” in relations with Russia, although “as a result, there is practically no place for a real and open dialogue on pressing problems.” In the same interview, the foreign minister accused Ukrainian authorities of not hiding their desire to use the conflict in the Donbass to preserve European Union sanctions pressure on Russia, by not fulfilling their obligations under the Minsk Agreements.

According to him, Kiev takes advantage of the fact that the EU continues to link the issue of improving relations between the bloc and Russia with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which Russia is not a party. “Alas, this artificial and short-sighted link persists to this day – to the great satisfaction of the Kiev authorities, which not only do not fulfill their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures, but also make no secret of their desire to use the unresolved conflict to maintain sanctions pressure against Russia,” Lavrov said.

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If Barr continues to fiddle on the Durham report, Trump may do it anyway.

AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)

Once again President Trump’s anti-establishment and ‘anti-deep state’ instincts look like they’ll be promptly reigned in by those around him. He shocked leaders in Congress and within his own administration when one week ago he mused openly in a New York Post interview that maybe Edward Snowden should be pardoned. In follow-up he said at a press briefing last Saturday “There are many, many people – it seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.” And further that: “I’m going to take a very good look at it.” The president raised eyebrows and anxiety across the D.C. beltway with his unprecedented remarks.

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” he had initially told NY Post, before adding: “Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.” This immediately raised hopes among those that hail the NSA leaker as a whistleblower who exposed deeply unconstitutional surveillance of the domestic populace that he might one day soon see freedom. But now Attorney General William Barr is throwing cold water on such a bold prospect, saying to the Associated Press on Friday that he’d be “vehemently opposed” to any initiative to pardon Snowden, who remains on the run from US authorities – but given asylum in Russia.

If he were to return to the United States he would face severe charges related to the Espionage Act and spilling of state secrets, which would certainly bring life imprisonment. “He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” Barr said in the new comments. Interestingly, Trump’s own view as expressed years ago was that Snowden was a “traitor”. Barr’s latest comments frame Snowden’s actions as motivated by money and fame, and not of out of a sense of patriotism or concern for upholding the Constitution: “He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that,” Barr added firmly. Recall that last year the DOJ under Barr fought to ensure that Snowden wouldn’t see any money generated from US sales of his tell-all book Permanent Record.

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Japan has been quiet, it’s true.

What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)

Earlier this morning, there has been a couple of Japanese data releases. Japanese consumer price inflation was unexciting with a rate at 0% YoY. While we see some relative price changes in many countries, the basic story for the moment is that inflation will remain low in most countries. In addition, Japan National Tourism Organization has published its latest data regarding the flow of foreign visitors in July. Basically, it shows what a nation cut off from the rest of the world looks like. The flow of foreign visitors in Japan published by Japan National Tourism Organization is out this morning. The country was supposed to welcome an unprecedented number of Olympic fans from all around the world just about now, but the pandemic has turned everything upside down.

Arrivals of foreign visitors plunge 99% YoY in July, at 3,800 individuals (slightly up compared to the previous month, when it stood at 2,600 individuals). For the sake of comparison, at the beginning of the year, the country recorded more than 2.6 million foreign visitors in a month’s time. Whilst the country expected to draw around 40 million visitors this year, the final number for 2020 might fall to 7-8 million at best, which would represent a drop of 80% compared to the target. Over the past years, the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP has significantly increased, to reach 7% in 2019, on the back of government’s incentives to promote foreign tourism via marketing push overseas and eased visa requirements.


The COVID-19 constitutes a serious setback for the government’s hopes for tourism and it is unlikely that the recent campaign to spur domestic tourism launched on July 22 will offset losses generated by the drop in the flow of foreign visitors. Considering the number of new COVID-19 cases has sharply increased since mid-July and that many countries at global level are facing the acute risk of second wave, the country is not expected to reopen to foreigners anytime soon and will probably postpone initial plans to let foreign students and businessmen return.

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Well, speak out then. A lot louder than this.

Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has said the ongoing US extradition case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “disturbing” and “has worrying implications for all journalists”. And he has said it is “surprising” that more don’t share his concerns. While Assange has garnered support from a range of campaigning groups for his plight, the response from journalists and the news industry in the UK has been relatively muted. Rusbridger was editor of the Guardian for 20 years, leaving in 2015. Under his editorship the paper worked with Wikileaks on the 2010 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and, a few years later, the Snowden Files. [..] Any charges against Assange relating to journalistic activity, such as the publishing of material in the public interest, “should be dropped”, Rusbridger told Press Gazette.

[..] Rusbridger said that while Assange had done things he can’t defend, and which “stray beyond the conventional definition of journalism”, the Australian is not “all good or all bad”. “When you stand back and say, well, whatever we think of Assange, what he is being targeted for is the same or similar as many journalists have done, then it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists” Rusbridger said the precedent set by the UK of allowing someone to be extradited for prosecution under another country’s official secrets laws could ultimately be used by regimes to target British journalists who report on sensitive information about foreign powers. “It’s quite a disturbing thing that we should send somebody to another country for supposedly breaking their laws on secrecy. If journalists are not concerned by that, then I think they should be,” he said.

“The danger here is that if everyone sort of shrugs and leaves Assange to his fate and this sets some kind of judicial precedent, then the next time… a journalist on the Sunday Times writes about a secret Israeli weapons system, as has happened in the past, the Israelis say ‘well actually that breaches our Official Secrets Act, under the Assange precedent we now ask for this person to be returned to our country so we can prosecute them’. “You could see how what seems like a sort of tangential case involving somebody that I know lots of journalists don’t really regard as a proper journalist suddenly becomes something that has set a very alarming precedent.”

On the question of whether Assange is a journalist, Rusbridger said he was “one of these complicated figures that we’ve never had to deal with before the 21st Century” and had “many identities”. He said Assange clearly did “some things that are journalistic”, pointing in particular to the Collateral Murder video that showed a US air attack in Iraq that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters media workers. “Any newspaper would have been thrilled to run that story,” said Rusbridger. “It was a really, truly shocking story in the public interest. “So that was clearly journalism, but [Assange is] also an activist, he’s a publisher, he’s a kind of impresario, he is a whistleblower, he’s a kind of information anarchist, and so that that makes him very difficult to categorise or to work out what our attitude to him is.

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Aug 182020
 


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Coronavirus Clusters Erupt At US Universities As Semester Begins (AP)
Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage (Cut)
They’re Angry, Not Stupid: Why Trump is Likely to Win Again (Greene)
Sanders: ‘The Future Of Our Planet Is At Stake’ In 2020 Election (JTN)
Democrats Seem All Too Willing to Surrender on Health Care Reform (Jac.)
Michelle Obama Speech Recorded Before Joe Biden Selected Kamala Harris (NYP)
Trump vs. Dems On Mail-in Voting (Chaffetz)
Trump Teases Upcoming Pardon For ‘Very Important’ Person (RT)
China’s Anti-Trump Election Meddling Raises New Alarm (Fox)
Kamala Harris Reportedly Owes $1M In Bills From Failed Presidential Run (NYP)
Twelve US Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion (Ineq.org)
US States Seek $2.2 Trillion From OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma (R.)
The Need for Debt-for-Climate Swaps (PS)
The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory (Steve Keen)
And in the End (Rolling Stone)

 

 

No, I didn’t watch the Dem convention. Never perform invasive surgery on myself either, for pretty much the same reason. But I did pick up a few tidbits. It all leaves a very elitist impression. Deplorables.

 

 

New global cases below 200,000, new deaths at 4,297. Not bad. Or is that just because it was Monday?

Several European countries are spiking in what is perhaps a second wave. Pretty lousy controls, which will lead to all kinds of renewed lockdowns. Unnecessary.

 

 

New cases only just above 40,000 in the US, it was 70,000 not long ago, with new deaths at “only” 589.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sounds just plain dumb.

Coronavirus Clusters Erupt At US Universities As Semester Begins (AP)

From the dorms at North Carolina to the halls of Notre Dame, officials at universities around the US scrambled on Monday to deal with new Covid-19 clusters at the start of the fall semester, some of them linked to off-campus parties and packed clubs. North Carolina’s flagship university cancelled in-person classes for undergraduates just a week into the fall semester Monday. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it will switch to remote learning on Wednesday and make arrangements for students who want to leave campus housing. “We have emphasised that if we were faced with the need to change plans – take an off-ramp – we would not hesitate to do so, but we have not taken this decision lightly,” it said in a statement after reporting 130 confirmed infections among students and five among employees over the past week.


UNC said the clusters were discovered in dorms, a fraternity house and other student housing. Before the decision came down, the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, ran an editorial headlined “UNC has a clusterf*** on its hands”. The paper said that the parties that took place over the weekend were no surprise and that administrators should have begun the semester with online-only instruction at the university, which has 19,000 undergraduates. “We all saw this coming,” the editorial said. Outbreaks earlier this summer at fraternities in Washington state, California and Mississippi provided a glimpse of the challenges school officials face in keeping the virus from spreading on campuses where young people eat, live, study – and party – in close quarters.

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The DNC pushed Bernie aside until he complied with the Biden “plan”. They do the same with AOC et al, without whom they may never have had control of the House. Instead, they have Republicans and billionaires speaking, along with has-beens like the Obamas and Clintons….

Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage (Cut)

When the Democratic National Committee released its schedule for its big socially distanced convention this week, we learned that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, inarguably among the party’s most dynamic figures, would have just sixty seconds to address the nation. [..] the relegation of Ocasio-Cortez, who electrifies multiple parts of a Democratic base, to one meager minute, a segment that—unlike speeches by some other presenters—will be pre-recorded, isn’t just a snub. The failure of a major political party to showcase one of its most talented politicians, a young person whose communicative reach and facility positions her to be among its leaders deep into our future, is self-sabotage.

[..] Why will this convention not show off more of the historic number of women who enabled their party to retake the House in 2018? Most of them won’t be prominently featured, but former Ohio Republican governor John Kasich, who ran for governor as a Tea Partier and signed eleven laws (comprising 21 restrictions) on abortion, including a 20 week ban and the prohibition of rape crisis centers advising survivors about the option of abortion, will be. He also worked to rob Ohio’s public workers of the right to bargain collectively (voters later overturned this measure). Not only is Kasich getting a plum spot on Monday, he’s used his time in the Democratic sun to diss Ocasio-Cortez, telling Buzzfeed that just because she “gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party. She’s just a part, just some member of it.”

So John Kasich, Republican, feels that Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat, gets outsized attention, even as he–along with his fellow Republicans Susan Molinari (Remember her? No? Weird) and former Hewlett-Packard and eBay CEO Meg Whitman–will get more featured airtime than she at her party’s convention. But this convention seems driven to thumb its nose not only at individual politicians, but at the social movements that have transformed civic participation and changed public opinion across the nation during the course of the Trump administration. Remember those women who retook the House in 2018? A bunch of them were first time candidates who were open about how their entrance into politics was grounded in their fury about the ubiquity and pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the #metoo movement.

But the party that profited from their electoral success has offered prime speaking spots to two multiply-accused harassers: former president Bill Clinton and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. That Bloomberg’s presidential campaign met its lethal end at the hands of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who in a February primary debate detailed his history of workplace harassment, red lining, and support of stop-and-frisk policing, all in her allotted sixty seconds (she only had a minute; an eternity was in it) makes his featured presence an insult to Warren, and the many Democrats who were far more inspired by her campaign than by his. And listen, I get it, and assume everyone else does too: Bloomberg is speaking to the Democratic convention because the Democrats need his money (he shifted $18 million from his campaign to the Democratic National Committee in March).

But if organizers had been paying attention these past two years, they might have learned that that’s actually part of the structural thing about harassment and those who get away with it: too often, you need their money.


Matt Taibbi’s drinking game bingo card for the DNC

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…and that attitude of trampling over the left leads to this… If you think BLM, Antifa, #MeToo are the only angry ones, you are mistaken.

They’re Angry, Not Stupid: Why Trump is Likely to Win Again (Greene)

The candidate Barack Obama spoke to blue-collar America. He campaigned on change that would rejuvenate careers and restore dignity. Working Americans in the swing states doubted that Hillary Clinton even knew they existed. They saw Obama as a last hope and supported him enthusiastically in the 2008 primaries and later in the general election, but he soon proved to be a disappointment. He, too, fell in love with Silicon Valley and Wall Street and neglected the people who needed him most. And they punished him: he won fewer states in 2012 than he had in 2008. People like the alternate me felt cheated by a guy who rocked a Brooks Brothers suit and talked a great game, then gave the Tech and Finance sectors everything they wanted and more.

Educated people from the best schools trusted Big Tech outfits because educated people from the best schools ran them. Elites imagine each other to be virtuous because they imagine themselves that way. Technology giants were understood not as hardy sprouts but would be treated instead with princess-and-the-pea levels of delicacy, thanks to a superstitious fear that it might all be brought to grief by, say, forcing companies with hundreds of billions in share value to tolerate an employees’ union, offer a minimum wage adequate for a decent life, or pay tax proportional to their reliance on public goods.

No one bears greater responsibility for the lack of empathy toward Old-Economy workers that led to Donald Trump’s victory than big-name Tech darlings and the New Democrats who coddled them, then openly ridiculed their own voter base: the people Hillary foolishly nicknamed “Deplorables;” that is, the millions of disappointed Obama voters who would happily have voted blue if they’d had confidence that the party would respect them, welcome them, and acknowledge their needs. But the New Economy is a gated community, shut firmly to them, whose most strenuous boosters have been the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. Old-school, working-class Democrats are unwelcome in the party they built. No one wants them tracking mud through the salon.

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the swing states the same way Barack Obama had: by characterizing her as disdainful toward blue-collar Americans. It was a potent message among those who once had seen decent wages in return for honest work, lately reduced to Walmart greeters and Uber drivers. Humiliated by a labor market in which they had nothing to trade, the former working class understood that they also had nothing to lose. Liberal democracy and its supporting institutions shed their veneer of sanctity when dead-end employees can aspire only to dead-end management gigs. Call them “associates” and “technicians” all you want; they know who they’ve become and what others think of them. They are why Trump won in the swing states; he was propelled to victory by disillusioned Obama voters.

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I would have expected so much more from Bernie. Folds for the DNC twice in a row, and doesn’t volunteer to return any donations.

Can someone check how many times he said the same in 2016?! “Sanders called the 2020 election the most important in the modern history of the U.S.”

Sanders: ‘The Future Of Our Planet Is At Stake’ In 2020 Election (JTN)

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders urged his supporters Monday to vote for nominee Joe Biden, imploring that the “future of our planet is at stake” and that the “price of failure” for not electing Biden would be “just too great to imagine.” “The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders said on opening night of the Democratic National Convention. “We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.” Sanders called the 2020 election the most important in the modern history of the U.S.

“We need an unprecedented response, a movement, like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency,” said Sanders, a democratic-socialist who finished second in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. “Our campaign ended several months ago but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream but let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy,” he also [said].

Sanders named areas where Biden has moved the progressive agenda forward, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it easier for workers to join unions,” creating 12 weeks of paid family leave and funding universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds. “Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over the next 15 years. These initiatives will create millions of good paying jobs all across the country,” Sanders said. “We are the only industrialized nation not to guarantee health care for all people. While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get to universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs. Further, he will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 60,” added Sanders, who worked with Biden on his final campaign platform.

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Bernie campaigner David Sirota has at least a little backbone.

Democrats Seem All Too Willing to Surrender on Health Care Reform (Jac.)

On the eve of a Democratic National Convention taking place as millions lose health care coverage, the health care industry is launching a new ad campaign pressing Democrats to back off from the party’s already compromised health care promises. That pressure seems to be having its intended effect on Capitol Hill, as congressional aides say the party will not push the initiative if Joe Biden wins the presidency. The signs of retreat come as health care industry profits are skyrocketing and the industry’s campaign cash has flooded into Democratic coffers. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) — a front group created by health insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital lobbying groups to oppose “Medicare for All” — announced on Friday that it is launching a new national ad campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon their plans to create a public health insurance plan.

The group said it will run ads during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week. PAHCF is led by a former Hillary Clinton aide and run out of the offices of a DC lobbying firm led by former top Democratic congressional aides. A substantial “public option” plan — which polls show is wildly popular — was the centerpiece of recent policy negotiations between supporters of former vice president Joe Biden and progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who had been pushing for a more expansive Medicare for All program. A draft of the party platform, approved by DNC members late last month, includes a pledge to pass a public option, or a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

Within twenty-four hours of the launch of the industry’s new ads, however, anonymous Democratic congressional sources were telling the Hill that Democrats likely won’t bother with the public option fight next year if Biden wins the election. Instead, they said, the party will work to tweak its 2010 health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has done little to limit insurance or hospital costs and has failed to ensure universal coverage. To justify the preemptive retreat, Democratic congressional aides told the newspaper that the party’s moderate crop of 2020 Senate challenger candidates could make it harder to pass a public option. That assertion comes even though every single one of those candidates is currently campaigning in support of a public option, according to a TMI review of campaign statements.

The situation echoes the Democratic promises and subsequent surrender on a public option that marked the debate over health care more than a decade ago — only this time around, the health care crisis is an even more acute emergency. While most developed countries have managed to contain COVID-19, the pandemic is spiraling out of control in the United States, and an estimated 27 million people have lost their employer-based health insurance plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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And also recorded before Trump lost his brother?! Or wouldn’t she have cared? She did remember last night that she said it, right? Class? Grace? Where? We go low?

.. by contrast, “Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair …

Michelle Obama Speech Recorded Before Joe Biden Selected Kamala Harris (NYP)

There was one glaring omission from Michelle Obama’s 20-minute Democratic National Convention speech Monday night — Kamala Harris. That’s because the former first lady recorded her rousing speech before Joe Biden selected Sen. Harris of California as his running mate. The speech was delivered remotely like all others at the DNC because of the coronavirus pandemic, and The Associated Press reports it was filmed before Harris was named last week as Biden’s VP candidate, indicating the choice was so close to the vest and down to the wire that even the Obamas were not in the loop. In her speech, Michelle Obama eloquently praised Biden and emotionally denounced Trump’s policies.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us,” she said. “It is what it is,” Obama added, quoting Trump’s recent remark on coronavirus deaths. “Right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another,” Obama said. “They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protesters for a photo-op.”

She said that by contrast, “Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own. His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.”

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The issue is not nearly as simple as some people would let you believe.

Trump vs. Dems On Mail-in Voting (Chaffetz)

With less than three months until the 2020 election and no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, a new debate over mail-in voting has begun. Swirling and sudden concerns about the United States Postal Service (USPS) have arisen from Democrats who are wildly accusing President Trump of cheating and manipulating the Postal Service in his favor. Conveniently they forget to mention the president is more than an arms-length away from how we vote, and the Postal Service is not under the thumb of his control. Senate Democrats joined Republicans to unanimously install postal leadership — of which, one is an Obama appointee.

No doubt President Trump has expressed deep concerns about the validity of the ballots, and rightfully so. Sending out millions of ballots without authenticating the inbound ballots is ripe for massive fraud. Democrats have desperately been seeking to legalize “ballot harvesting” (the collection and submission of ballots by someone other than the voter and without authentication) and other nefarious activities. It must be noted elections in the United States are administered by counties and certified by states. In other words, per the United States Constitution, elections are run locally and not by the executive branch of the federal government. The president has simply sought fair elections.

Ironically, it is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1 that seeks to federalize elections and give the president power he doesn’t currently have now. Her solution would create the problem she inaccurately blames Trump for today. [..] The president of the United States does not control the operations of the Postal Service nor does he select or appoint the Postmaster General. The Board of Governors does both of these things. The Postal Regulatory Commission sets rates, service levels and decides on postal closings, not the president. The governors are appointed by a president and confirmed by the United States Senate. No more than five of the nine governors may be from the same political party.

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Clickbait fodder.

Trump Teases Upcoming Pardon For ‘Very Important’ Person (RT)

US President Donald Trump said he would soon hand out a pardon to a “very important” person. While the details were left shrouded in mystery, he ruled out both his former advisor Michael Flynn and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Doing a pardon tomorrow on someone who is very, very important,” Trump told reporters on board Air Force One on Monday, offering little elaboration other than to say it would not be Flynn – his first National Security Advisor – nor the famed whistleblower. Despite repeatedly calling Snowden a “traitor” over the years, Trump has hinted at giving the whistleblower a reprieve on more than one occasion in the last week, saying he may have been treated “unfairly” and that he would “look at” allowing him to return home.


With the president explicitly ruling him out for Tuesday’s pardon, however, it appears Snowden will have to remain in Moscow for some time longer, where he was given asylum after leaking a massive cache of purloined documents from the National Security Agency in 2013, revealing Washington’s sweeping domestic and global spying apparatus.

Read more …

They’re starting a new competition.

China’s Anti-Trump Election Meddling Raises New Alarm (Fox)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox News that China poses “a greater national security threat” to the United States “than any other nation,” detailing a web of threats that includes “election influence and interference.” Intelligence officials say they are increasingly concerned about interference in the U.S. election by China, adding to existing concerns about meddling by Russia that have been around since 2016, as well as the threat of meddling from Iran. “China poses a greater national security threat to the U.S. than any other nation – economically, militarily and technologically. That includes threats of election influence and interference,” Ratcliffe told Fox News in a statement.

While Russia was widely seen as favoring now-President Trump and generally seeking to sow chaos in America during the 2016 election, the difference with China is it is seen to be seeking a Trump loss in November. Yet congressional Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who ever since 2016 have issued dire warnings about Russian meddling, have not been quite so vocal about China’s potential to interfere in the 2020 election. Pelosi, D-Calif., last week said the threats of interference from Russia and China are “not equivalent,” while urging the intelligence community to put out more information about Russian efforts, saying Moscow is “actively 24/7 interfering in our election.”

Ratcliffe said the threat from China is actually significant, and he is “committing the IC resources needed to fully understand the threat posed by China and provide U.S. policymakers with the best intelligence to counter China’s broad and deep malign activities.” “China is concerned that President Trump’s reelection would lead to a continuation of policies that they perceive to be ‘anti-China,’” Ratcliffe explained, noting that the intelligence community has briefed “hundreds of members of Congress” to raise their concerns about China “and its increased efforts to impact the U.S. policy climate in its favor.” “Fair and free elections are a bedrock of American democracy, and the IC remains vigilant against the various activities by China, as well as other threat countries and actors, which seek to affect our electoral process,” Ratcliffe said.

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Great fundraiser, they said.

Kamala Harris Reportedly Owes $1M In Bills From Failed Presidential Run (NYP)

Kamala Harris, named Tuesday to be Joe Biden’s running mate, still has more than $1 million in unpaid bills left over from her failed 2020 presidential bid, according to a report. The California senator raised about $39 million for her White House bid in 2019 and spent about $40 million, leaving her campaign with just $116,380 in the bank at the end of June, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing Federal Election Commission filings. Harris ended her campaign last December amid falling poll numbers and a lack of fundraising.


International law firm Perkins Coie LLP was still owed $523,883 at the end of June, while TorchStone Global LLC, a corporate and private security company, was owed $160,702, the report said. California political consulting firm SCRB Strategies had $92,4087 in outstanding invoices. Donors have contributed slightly more than $48,000 to her campaign this year. The report noted that the campaign can’t be shuttered until all debts are paid under federal law. And while Biden raised $26 million in a day after announcing her selection, his campaign can do little to retire Harris’ campaign debt. It can donate $2,000 and the Democratic National Committee can contribute $5,000. But Biden can ask his donors to send funds to Harris’ campaign.

Read more …

Feel free to call this a failed society.

Twelve US Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion (Ineq.org)

For the first time in US history, the top twelve U.S. billionaires surpassed a combined wealth of $1 trillion. On Thursday August 13th, these 12 had a combined $1.015 trillion. This is a disturbing milestone in the US history of concentrated wealth and power. This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people. From the point of view of a democratic self-governing society, this represents an Oligarchic Twelve or a Despotic Dozen. The Oligarchic Dozen are Jeff Bezos ($189.4b), Bill Gates ($114b), Mark Zuckerberg ($95.5b), Warren Buffett ($80b), Elon Musk ($73b), Steve Ballmer ($71b), Larry Ellison ($70.9b), Larry Page ($67.4b), Sergey Brin ($65.6b), Alice Walton ($62.5b), Jim Walton ($62.3b) and Rob Walton ($62b).

Since March 18th, the beginning of the pandemic, this Oligarchic Dozen have seen their combined wealth increase $283 billion, an increase of almost 40 percent. Elon Musk has been the biggest pandemic profiteer, seeing his wealth triple from $24.6 billion on March 18th to $73 billion on August 13, an increase of $48.5 billion or 197 percent. Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos was worth $189.4 billion on August 13, up $76 billion or 68 percent since March 18th. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was worth $95.5 billion on August 13, up $40.8 billion or 75 percent since March 18th.

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The Sacklers took out many billions, then declared bankruptcy. Now they’re “willing” to contribute more to a settlement than the entire company is worth. Sick.

US States Seek $2.2 Trillion From OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma (R.)

U.S. states claimed they are owed $2.2 trillion to address harm from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP’s alleged role in America’s opioid epidemic, accusing the drugmaker in new filings of pushing prescription painkillers on doctors and patients while playing down the risks of abuse and overdose. In filings made as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings that were disclosed on Monday, the states said Purdue, backed by the wealthy Sackler family, contributed to a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of roughly 450,000 people since 1999 and caused strains on healthcare and criminal justice systems. The filings cited more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. tied directly to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2016.

In large states such as California and New York, claims alone totaled more than $192 billion and $165 billion, respectively. Forty-nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and various territories are making the claims. Oklahoma settled litigation with Purdue last year. Purdue filed for bankruptcy in 2019 under pressure from more than 2,600 lawsuits brought by cities, counties, states, Native American tribes, hospitals and others. The lawsuits said the company, and in some cases the Sacklers, used deceptive marketing and took other improper steps to flood communities with prescription opioids. The company and family have denied the allegations and pledged to help combat the opioid epidemic, including by providing addiction treatment drugs and overdose reversal medications under development.

[..] Purdue is only worth a bit more than $2 billion if liquidated. The company values a proposal to settle litigation, which includes providing addiction treatment and overdose-reversing drugs, at more than $10 billion. The Sacklers would contribute $3 billion and cede control of Purdue, with the company becoming a trust run on behalf of plaintiffs.

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These well-meaning people are mightily confused about growth:

“In the absence of new forms of liquidity support and major debt relief, the world economy cannot possibly return to pre-pandemic levels of growth..”

I think that means to want to return there.

“..the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy represents an opportunity for a big investment push in zero-carbon energy infrastructure, which itself would help to redress energy poverty and unsustainable growth.”

More growth? Isn’t growth itself the problem then? Never mind, anyone who talks about sustainable growth is not a serious person in my book.

The Need for Debt-for-Climate Swaps (PS)

In the absence of new forms of liquidity support and major debt relief, the world economy cannot possibly return to pre-pandemic levels of growth without risking severe climate distress and social unrest.Climate scientists tell us that in order to meet the targets outlined in the Paris climate accord, global net carbon-dioxide emissions must fall by about 45% by 2030, and by 100% by 2050. Given that the effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, countries urgently need to scale up their investments in climate adaptation and mitigation. But that will not be possible if governments are bogged down in a debt crisis. If anything, debt-service requirements will push countries to pursue export revenues at any cost, including by cutting corners on climate-resilient infrastructure and stepping up their own fossil-fuel use and extraction of resources.

This course of events would further depress commodity prices, creating a doom loop for producer countries. In light of these concerns, the G20 has called on the IMF “to explore additional tools that could serve its members’ needs as the crisis evolves, drawing on relevant experiences from previous crises.” One such tool that should be considered is a “debt-for-climate swap” facility. In the 1980s and 1990s, developing countries and their creditors engaged in “debt-for-nature swaps,” whereby debt relief was linked to investments in reforestation, biodiversity, and protections for indigenous people. This concept should now be expanded to include people-centered investments that address both climate change and inequality.

Developing countries will need additional resources if they are to have any chance of leaving fossil fuels in the ground, investing sufficiently in climate adaptation, and creating opportunities for twenty-first-century jobs. One source for such resources is debt relief conditioned on such investments. A policy tool of this type would not only put us on the path to recovery, but also could help to prevent future debt-sustainability problems that might emerge as more fossil-fuel holdings and non-resilient infrastructure become “stranded assets.” Moreover, the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy represents an opportunity for a big investment push in zero-carbon energy infrastructure, which itself would help to redress energy poverty and unsustainable growth.

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I should read Stephanie Kelton’s book, right?!

The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory (Steve Keen)

One Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Operations

I confess immediately that I chose the title and subtitle for this post because their acronyms are palindromes. The subtitle is more accurate than the title, because this model considers only the monetary aspects of MMT: the Job Guarantee and inflation management components are not yet incorporated. But the monetary assertions of MMT remain in dispute in economic and political circles, so it is worth putting these into a mathematical model where their veracity can be tested. The primary stimulus for developing the model was the publication of Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth. Stephanie has written the book for non-technical readers, and she’s done a very good job: it’s a very easy read that explains why many conventional wisdoms about government spending are wrong.

But MMT is facing heavy resistance in political and economic circles, with my favourite to date being a motion before the US Congress, posted by Representative Kevin Hern, to resolve: “That the House of Representatives (1) realizes that deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous; and (2) recognizes— (A) that the implementation of Modern Monetary Theory would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation; and (B) the duty of the House of Representatives to condemn Modern Monetary Theory.”

The objective of this series of posts is to allow the assessment of the first part of this motion—the assertion that “deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous”. The models in this post are built in the Open Source system dynamics program Minsky, whose unique feature is the capacity to build models of financial flows using what are called Godley Tables (in honour of Wynne Godley, the pioneer of stock-flow-consistent-modelling). These tables enforce the “law of accounting” that (see Figure 1, A blank Godley Table).

Once an account is flagged as an “Asset” for one entity, Minsky knows that it has to also be shown as a “Liability” for another entity. This makes it possible to take an integrated look at the financial system, which allows us to assess Hern’s motion from the perspective of the entire monetary system, and not just the Government’s view of it.

Read more …

50 years later: ‘They broke up because Yoko sat on an amp!’

And in the End (Rolling Stone)

It’s a miserable Monday morning in January 1969, and the Beatles are trying to get back to where they once belonged. The Get Back project sounded like a perfect idea: just the four lads and their instruments, ready to hit the studio, return to their roots, conjure up some great songs out of thin air. Just like they used to. John, Paul, George, and Ringo have booked a TV concert special for January 18th — their first live show in years. They’ll rehearse for a couple of weeks, eyeball to eyeball, summon up genius on the spur of the moment. They’ve done it many times before. They’ve never not done it. The good news: Paul showed up today, and so did Ringo. So did the camera crew — these sessions are being filmed, so the Beatles can show a half-hour clip of rehearsal footage before their TV performance.

So here they are on Monday morning, ready to dazzle the world with a blast of spontaneous Beatles brilliance. Or at least Paul and Ringo are. Hey, has anyone heard from John and Yoko? Or George? With George, there’s a slight complication: He quit the band. On Friday, with the cameras rolling, he was trying to teach them a new song, “All Things Must Pass.” John, strung out on his new heroin habit, sneered at George with open contempt. George finally stormed out, muttering, “See you around the clubs.” John doesn’t take this seriously. “I think if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday, we ask Eric Clapton to play in it,” he says. “The point is, if George leaves, do we want to carry on the Beatles? I do. We should just get other members and carry on.” But now it’s Monday and still no George. No John and Yoko. (No Clapton, for that matter.) Paul and Ringo kill time jamming on a current radio hit, “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

But everyone gathers to discuss the crisis, complaining bitterly about Yoko’s constant presence. Surprisingly, the one who sticks up for her is Paul. He’s a sucker for a love story — he’s Paul McCartney, for God’s sake. But he also knows how much this romance means to his oldest, closest mate, his most troubled and cruel and impossible friend. “It’s not that bad,” he insists. “They want to stay together, those two. So it’s all right. Let the young lovers be together.” Paul has to chuckle, thinking about how future generations will look back at this — the Beatles, the greatest of all rock & roll bands, the world’s most legendary creative team, falling apart over such a trivial spat. Even on a winter morning as gloomy as this one, Paul breaks into a laugh. “It’s gonna be such an incredible sort of comical thing, like in 50 years’ time, you know. ‘They broke up because Yoko sat on an amp!'”

Read more …

 

 

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Dobbs/Nunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 142020
 
 August 14, 2020  Posted by at 12:35 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Egon Schiele Self-Portrait with Lowered Head 1912

 

 

Regular Automatic Earth guest writer Alexander Aston this time comes not from Zimbabwe, Cambridge or Greece, but from South Carolina, where he is on family business. And that’s where he’s venting his anger about. I’m pretty sure we would all benefit from doing more of that, get it all off our chests. I think maybe the main issue with it in the present day circumstances is you have to make sure it’s your anger, and not somebody else’s that you’re merely parroting.

I personally like Alexander’s notion of: “America, a Country For Old Men”.

 

 

 

Alexander Aston: Is there any more perfect metaphor for a society in terminal decline than the senescent Joe Biden? The U.S. election has boiled down to a choice between the authoritarian versions of Mr. Magoo and P.T. Barnum. Truly, “there’s a sucker born every minute” is a far more apropos motto for the country than E. Pluribus Unum. The Republicans have adopted a Christian Nationalism that identifies with a New York shyster that says all the shitty things they’ve been feeling for decades while blaming the least powerful. It’s always easier to kick down than punch up and moral courage is not a common trait.

Likewise, the Democrats smug self-satisfied conviction of ethical superiority and sense of entitlement to the votes of every women, brown person and leftist makes them not only insufferable but delusional. The DNC managed to crush the momentum and energy of one of the most significant left- wing grassroots movements in US history. They have demoralised a huge swath of the under-45 crowd and subverted an actual political vision (regardless of whether you agree with it or not) in favour of a man with an abysmal record and signs of growing cognitive impairment. The DNC platform offers zero substantive policy other than “not Trump” (a policy that’s going to have a very short honeymoon in the face of cascading systems failure).

The Democrats have made no concessions on even one important progressive/left issue. Now they have picked a morally bankrupt prosecutor who’s deeply entangled with the prison industrial complex at a time in which “defund the police” has coalesced into a key feature of American discourse. Yet, liberals seem completely shocked and aghast by the fact that there are large numbers of young folks, minorities and women that are unwilling to shut up and put up. The level of enthusiasm beyond the party faithful, for those still willing to vote Democrat, amounts to the ever inspiring “I’ll grit my teeth.”

 

Meanwhile, I know middle aged folks that have never voted in their lives who have signed up just to support Trump. In other words, they are motivated. Like it or lump it, that’s some of the real political complexity behind the vacuous narrative management of the MSM. On a national level, the American sense of reality is becoming more unhinged than a schizophrenic dropping acid after a weeklong meth binge. George Soros funded Antifa and Putin’s army of trolls are all monsters of the same fevered social imagination. On its current trajectory, the American Right will soon believe anyone to the left of Attila the Hun is a “far-left radical.”

Likewise, U.S. liberals will be left haunted and terrified by the spectre of Russian agents stealing their precious bodily fluids. Meanwhile, the virus will continue to rage, and corporate feudalism will further entrench itself as the benefits of imperial citizenship rapidly fade. The only thing that’s certain is that huge swaths of Americans still won’t actually understand what is happening to them and continue to blame the opposing factions of management, figments of their propaganda, the dispossessed and the marginalised. I don’t believe the specific outcome of the American election is all that relevant anymore.

The sad truth is that the United States is collapsing under the weight of a microscopic entity and its own systemic contradictions. The various narratives of what is happening and what it means to be an American have become so wildly divergent that there are multiple parallel realities operating in the United States. What’s frightening is how few realise the diversity and complexity of these various perspectives, fears and aspirations. Regardless of who wins the election, trust in the political legitimacy of the American system is being fatally undermined. If the margin of the election is close, it is guaranteed that one side will not accept the results.

 

If the election is swept, then the winning party will be saddled with a crisis of unparalleled proportions in the history of the country. Furthermore, neither party has the political vision nor competence to actually address the challenges that beset them. The U.S. would need leadership on par with a Lincoln or Aurelius to rescue the political system. Whoever is in power will rapidly face multiple and intersecting forms of systemic breakdown, resistance and noncompliance as the extent of the economic devastation becomes truly apparent.

The first part of the 2020’s will consist of material deprivation, civil unrest and increasingly robust challenges to the United States’ geostrategic position. The more that authoritarians try to exert control in a high entropy environment (robbing Peter to pay Paul), the faster the system will fall apart. Ultimately, I believe that the break-up of the United States is all but inevitable at present. What I hope is that it will be a relatively peaceful dissolution and reorganisation. What should terrify us all is the prospect of real violence as the various factions and coalitions jockey for power in the new reality. A few truly smooth brained idiots think that they just need to tool up and go mow down a few “liberal snowflakes” so that they can return to the 1950’s by Christmas.

 

A conflict in North America would be a clusterfuck that would make Syria’s civil war look like a game of checkers. Forget electoralism and eschew romantic notions of purification through violence. Build solidarity networks, figure out how to make your communities economically, socially and psychologically resilient. My suggestion would be that Mutualism, Libertarian Municipalism and Democratic Confederalism offer some good starting points for thinking about these things. I would recommend setting up a micro- factory in your community so that you can start manufacturing necessary tools and goods on a local level. Here are some freely available schematics: Civilization Starter Kit.

Try to appreciate the limitations of your own understanding so that you might be more compassionate towards others. Don’t blame people for having problems they don’t know how to fix, try helping them instead. Some things, once broken, cannot be mended. This is very true for societies. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck. Please be good to one another and defend those less powerful and fortunate than yourself.

P.S. If you are in a swing state you should follow your conscience, but it should be beneath any person’s dignity to vote for either party in their safe states. If you don’t understand how the American electoral system works at this point then shame on you, stop berating people for voting Green in Montana or Libertarian in California, they’re actually displaying some political acumen.

 

 

 

 

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Aug 102020
 


Cy Twombly Fifty Days at Iliam: Like a Fire that Consumes All before It 1978

 

 

Might as well call it a social experiment. Any other name, like “coup” or “fishing expedition” or “hookers peeing on a bed” or “justice being done” would just inflame “passions” and lead away from what should be the actual topic.

Whatever you call it, the fact remains that Donald Trump has been the first US president to be under continued investigation for the entire 4 years of his first term, and for about a year before it as well. And that should be a cause for alarm for anyone who cares even a little bit about the American political system, including those who abhor Trump. Because once you do that, it’s no longer about just one president, it’s about all who will follow him, and inevitably about the integrity and validity of the system as a whole.

In principle, there should be no investigations of a sitting president, and not even of a presidential candidate, because this risks endangering 1) the entire electoral process, and 2) the Office of the President (not for once, but for ever). In principle. If there must be an investigation, it must be based on solid evidence available beforehand, it must be short, and the President must be removed. If all of these three things are not guaranteed, no investigation is warranted, and the accusing parties should be “liberated” from the positions they held when they initiated the investigation regardless. Skin in the game.

 

 

It gets increasingly harder to write about American politics, or express an opinion in any other way, without being dumped into one of two camps, never to be heard from again in the other (except for ridicule or slander). There is no such thing as a neutral or objective viewpoint anymore. You’re either with us or you’re against us – or them.

Seeing -and projecting- the world in black and white is a tempting proposal for anyone afraid of being confused; it should, however, never be an excuse for the media to not present its viewers and readers with a full color palette. But we can see every single day how that went. Black and white it is. And in that environment, too claustrophobic to be put in a box, I might as well paint the picture as I see it. Yes, in color.

 

The “social experiment” I see progressing has two parts:

1) can a political party, aided and abetted by the media and intelligence services, unseat an elected president it has just lost an election to?

2) can a presidential candidate be elected while shunning the media, debates, etc., and only appear at times and in forms that have been pre-selected by her/his handlers for maximum effect, while hiding his/her weaknesses?

 

As for no. 1, it has evidently not succeeded, but that is certainly not for lack of trying. One investigation has followed the other non-stop since 2016, in public and behind the scenes, and they have all come up empty. Of course one side would contest that and still say there was lots of evidence, but if so, it obviously wasn’t very strong, or Trump would have been gone.

People may also claim that the mandate of the Mueller investigation was too narrow, but really, go back and watch the man’s pathetic (sorry, but it was) testimony in Congress after the fact, that should be enough. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and others have promised solid and inconvertible evidence many times, but we never saw any. Rest assured, whatever Trump may have done wrong, you would have heard about it by now.

Or to put it another way: he probably did many things wrong, but not the things he was accused of. In fact, the entire Putin puppet narrative is so idiotic it’s impossible not to ponder from time to time that it was designed from the get-go to support Trump, not hurt him.

As for no. 2, that looks even more experimental. The approach is helped along “wonderfully” by the pandemic, which provides plenty excuses to keep Biden hidden, but it goes against everything presidential campaigns have been built upon throughout American history: contact with voters. That very few people would believe Biden is his own man, and not a sock puppet, can’t help.

But there is more at stake. Presidential campaigns are one element of a much bigger process, and you can’t separate the two. Both parts of the “social experiment” seem to run afoul of the respect that bigger process, and ultimately the entire political system, necessarily demands from all participants, from an individual voter to a President. And that is much more important than either candidate. You can’t temporarily switch off that respect if and when that might suit your purpose, because you risk for it never to be switched on again.

 

You may dislike a presidential candidate, perhaps even intensely so, but that should never make you lose sight of the integrity, if not the sacredness, of the election process, of the political system, of the institutions, of the Constitution, and certainly not of the Office of the President of the United States. Because once you do that, you open the door for everyone to do the same in the future. And no, you can’t blame that on the candidate you don’t like, you do it.

When a candidate is selected through the primaries of his/her party, you must respect that, because if you don’t respect the process, you are lost, the system is lost, and there’s no telling when you’ll see it back, if ever. If that candidate is then elected President, a lot of doors that before allowed you to question and criticize him/her, should be closed. The country at that point has either a new President, or a second-term one. A different phase of the political process starts.

The House and the Senate become the critics, empowered by the system to hold the President accountable. But only the House and the Senate. Not the media, whose role it is, other than in the occasional opinion piece, to report on decisions made; not intelligence services, whose role it is to serve the country, and the new President it just elected; and not the opposition party, whose role it is to prepare for the next election, and to provide a degree of counterbalance, depending on how bad their loss was, on Capitol Hill.

The entire picture is crystal clear. So is everybody’s role in it. But now and then people -try to- refuse to accept their roles, obviously believing that they are more important than the integrity of the political system, and ignoring that in doing so they put the whole system at risk.

 

What was happening first became apparent in late 2015 – early 2016, when the New York Times began running multiple stories every day directed against Donald Trump. Mostly small bits, based on innuendo about his past, with a whiff of truth perhaps, but not more. The word “gratuitous” comes to mind. At a certain point, they did a dozen per day of the stories, it became assembly line work for the writers and editors..

The Washington Post chimed in, and so did CNN, MSNBC and others, including international press. It turned into a feeding frenzy, with all of them completely losing sight, voluntarily or not, of their roles as news providers. They all shape-shifted into opinion-only-makers, confident that their audience would not notice the difference, at least not at first. At that point it became a very Pavlovian thing.

Which is why I was initially going to name this essay “Trump vs Pavlov”. 100+ years ago, Ivan Pavlov “found” that if he rang a bell in front of a dog, and then gave her food, she would start to associate the two. When he increased the time-lapse between first, the bell, and then, the food, the dog would salivate in expectation of food at just the sound of the bell. In the end, all he had to do was ring the bell, with no food around, and the dog would salivate. So he had nothing to offer, no food, no substance, but the reaction was the same.

That is a very accurate description of what a large part of the US media have done -and become-. All they have to do at this point is mention Trump, or just show his picture, and their public will react the same every single time: Orange Man Bad. There doesn’t have to be any substance, any factual journalistic reports of wrongdoing. The “conditioned reflex” as Pavlov described it, has set in.

And their readers and viewers have become addicted to this. How could they not? They’ve been bombarded with 1000s of these bells ringing, and the substance may not be there, but the expectation of it is. If you’re a regular viewer of Rachel Maddow, what are the odds that your opinion is still your own after hearing RussiaRussia a million times? The only way it could be yours is if you switch her off.

I’ve written before that I don’t even think they really set out to do this. Initially, there were probably just some CEOs and owners and editors who didn’t like Trump and/or were affiliated in one way or another with the other party -and later candidate-. Who was counted on to win big anyway, so why not (well, because of the integrity of the political system!).

It was only later that they found out 24/7 anti-Trump “reporting” was a great business model for them. CNN was dying in early 2016, the New York Times was nor far behind, and all of a sudden numbers of viewers and readers and subscribers went through the roof.

Their problem is that if they succeed in making Trump lose in November, they will be back to where they came from before he appeared on the political scene. All of their “reporting” on US politics has devolved into a scheme based on ringing a bell, and on the scandal and anger their non-stop salivating audience have become addicted to, and mistake for substance.

If Joe Biden should win, that scheme is dead. They may hope to last a bit longer on the angry scandal of a possible persecution of Trump if he leaves office, but that would be it, and that’s not a business model. They can’t very well now turn on Biden and his puppeteers.

New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss said it very well when she left the paper a few weeks ago, she summarized the essence of the MSM problem in just a few words:

“[..] the lessons that ought to have followed the election – lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”.


Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world?

 

That’s the media. Second in line is US intelligence. Which, there’s no other way to put it, conspired against a presidential candidate and, when he was elected, a sitting president. The Strzok-Page “insurance policy”, the Obama Oval Office conversations where Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Susan Rice were present, plus 1,000 other things, the overall picture doesn’t exactly point to that famous seamless transition, and US Intel played a pivotal, because accommodating, role in that.

The best way to show this is perhaps that US intelligence themselves did not (could not) come up with a report on alleged links between the -prospective- president’s team and Russia, but took a dossier paid for by the president’s opposition and used it to discredit and persecute him and people in his team. The dossier was written by a two-bit MI6 hustler who hadn’t set foot in Russia in at least a decade, and whose main ‘Russian source’ wasn’t there either, but sitting in an office in the US.

That source in turn had contacts with a group of Russians whose very business model it was to make up and embellish whatever stories the highest bidder required, while failing to deal with their own severe drinking problems. That dossier was the entire foundation (or 99% of it) behind Rod Rosenstein appointing Bob Mueller as a Special Counsel. The appointment would never have been made, never have been possible, without the Steele dossier.

 

How was the dossier vetted by US intelligence, if at all? It’s very clear now what was wrong with it, but the all knowing and very clever intelligence people could not have figured that out 4 years ago, and instead cleared it for Mueller, for further FBI use, for FISA applications? How about their treatment of Michael Flynn, who they had already cleared only to resurrect the dead corpse of their investigation into his talks with Russian ambassador Kislyak? How would you, personally, spell “in good faith”?

We will see in the near future what the Durham investigation into all Russiagate players will come to. Apparently, Durham has just another three weeks to present at least something, because there is a two-month “no-go-zone” before the election, during which he would be accused of tampering with the election. And the premise for the Democrats and their sympathizers is that if Biden wins, all slates will be wiped clean.

They won’t, by the way. America still has a justice system, even if it is oftentimes crippled and grinding(ly) slow. Just watch Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell and her team. They have vowed to not only have their client be exonerated, but to fully clear his name, which according to their view has been besmirched by everyone up to and including Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

 

The third leg of the “creature” is the Democratic party. Who have stepped so far over their boundaries, nobody recognizes anymore that there were any. Or that the political system they are an integral part of, dictates that there are things they cannot do, lest they corrupt that system to the core.

Once you lose a presidential election, you prepare for the next one. You don’t use the next 4 years to try and frustrate the president you just lost to with all you got. The system should not allow it and can not tolerate it. There should be skin in the game for opposition politicians, who when they come with accusations of gross misconduct serious enough to remove a president, should be forced to step down when the accusations don’t lead to the intended result.

It should never be a free for all, in which you can simply try again the next morning. Because the system cannot work if that is possible. It can’t be that if you win a midterm election and get a majority in the House, you can then use that majority to make it impossible for a president to work on the agenda that made millions vote for him/her. That would cause the system to grind to a halt, and the system must always be more important than its temporary participants (even those who “sit” for 40-50 years).

When you look at the speaker’s list for the Democrat -non- convention next week where Joe Biden will be confirmed as their -virtual- candidate, you see that other than AOC, it’s just a long list of the same old people who were already there when they lost in 2016, and co-losers Hillary and Obama still have a very tight grip on the power and the purse strings.

Why they stick with Joe Biden, g-d only knows, and the same goes for whichever highly unpopular black woman they pick as VP who could soon be president. And sorry, but they all are. Kamala Harris was among the first to step down during the primaries because she didn’t get any votes. Susan Rice is not exactly “loved by the people” either, and the rest are no-names, except for Warren, but she’s both too left and much too white.

So you’re thinking: what’s going on there? That’s really the best you can do? But it does seem to be, likely because Barackillary have a small group of confidantes to choose from who they themselves are confident will be willing to cede all actual power to them once elected. And if Harris and Rice don’t get picked as VP, they’ll still exert a lot of power.

As will Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, there’s more new blood at Madame Tussaud’s than at the upper echelons of the Democratic party. Yes, AOC can come in to represent the squad in a cynical move (no power but brings in lots of votes), but that’s it. For the rest it’s still just the broken left wing of the war party. But you’re right, they’re none of them, Trump. And that at the same time is the sole identity they possess.

 

Anti-Trumpism has become a political religion. Because Trump is the only topic that attracts clickbait and viewers. The only topic that rings a bell. Joe Biden rings no bells whatsoever. A while back Donald Trump jr tweeted:

Trump is really running against the media, Silicon Valley, the establishment, the swamp, Hollywood and maybe Joe Biden.

While investor GreekFire23 did even better:

Trump is running against himself in this election. The vote will come down to those who love him vs those who hate him. Biden is totally irrelevant and not even campaigning. Biden has no platform, no slogan, no stickers, no signs, no rallies, no followers. It’s Trump vs Trump.

What can still sink Trump is obvious: it’s the economy and the pandemic. America’s problem is that no matter who wins, those will still be its main problems by January 2021. And another problem has been added in the course of 2020: protests and violence in the streets.

 

Update: I thought I could leave it at that for now, step out for a moment, have a glass of wine, let it all sink in, and write a closing paragraph. But then I was sitting outside in gorgeous Athens and this popped up, which I very obviously can’t leave out:

Senate Chairman Subpoenas FBI Director Wray For Russiagate Records; Puts Bidens On Notice

FBI Director Christopher Wray has been subpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to produce “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” which includes “all records provided or made available to the Inspector General” regarding the FISA probe, as well as documents regarding the 2016-2017 presidential transition..

[..] The subpoena was issued by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. It gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to produce the documents. Johnson also released a lengthy letter on Monday in which he defended his Committee’s investigation and accused Democrats of initiating “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in order to distract from evidence his committee has gathered on Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

[..] Johnson’s committee has secured testimony from at least one State Department official who worked in Ukraine, and says the Bidens’ conduct created the appearance of a conflict of interest. “The appearance of family profiteering off of Vice President Biden’s official responsibilities is not unique to the circumstances involving Ukraine and Burisma,” wrote Johnson. “Public reporting has also shown Hunter Biden following his father into China and coincidentally landing lucrative business deals and investments there.

“Additionally, the former vice president’s brothers and sister-in-law, Frank, James and Sara Biden, also are reported to have benefited financially from his work as well.

I can’t let that go because it addresses exactly what my closing paragraph would have been about. Which is the risk of the giant divide that has developed in US society, getting even wider, and potentially leading to utter mayhem. Actually, it’s not even ‘potentially’ anymore, there already has been a lot of violence.

The Democrats think they will win easily on November 3, and then push through all of their their policies, after dumping on Trump for 4 years with their media and intelligence friends, but the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump, and most of their family and friends with them, don’t think so. That’s not a threat, it’s an observation.

They feel cheated out of their 2016 victory. They realize (or should I say “suspect”) that Russiagate and the Mueller probe and the Zelensky-linked impeachment “hearings” were empty vessels directed against the election outcome that they won fair and square, and I guarantee you they won’t take it sitting down.

Which means that no matter who wins, polarization will reach levels America has never seen, and, frankly, should never wish to. Because all of the people involved, bar just a precious few, will have to live together in the same country, and share the same society, streets, highways, stores and resources.

And sometimes I wonder: how are they going to do that? If Trump should win, how will the entire so-called left react, from the Democrats through the MSM to BLM? Will they just increase the protests and the violence in the streets?

Alternatively, if Joe Biden wins, how will the Conservative side of America react? Will they all go home and wait for what the DNC has in store for them, or will their reaction be pro-active? I know which reaction I would see them lean towards.

You have these two sides in society who appear further apart than even Moses could have hoped to bring back together again, you have the media who thrive on widening that divide even further, it’s a scary picture.

 

And in the meantime, while everyone’s busy blaming each other, who’s going to take care of the country?

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the publishing process. Which seems only fair and just.

Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Mar 032020
 


Ben Shahn Quick lunch stand in Plain City, Ohio 1938

 

Italy Has Exported Cases Of Coronavirus To 24 Countries – WHO (TMZNaija)
China Manufacturing Collapse Confirmed By Private Sector Factory Survey (SCMP)
China Reports Surprising Rail Freight Growth In February (SCMP)
A Modern Jubilee As A Cure To Financial Ills Of Coronavirus (Steve Keen)
This Ain’t No Fooling’ Around (Kunstler)
Tucker Carlson On Dems’ Biden Push: ‘They’re Pushing A Defective Product’ (Fox)
What Could Divide The Democrats More Than Conspiring To Stop Bernie? (Tracey)
Ukraine Court Throws Wrench Into Joe Biden’s 2020 Election Plans (Solomon)
Hillary Clinton Ordered To Give Sworn Deposition On Email Server, Benghazi (ZH)
Erdogan’s Use Of Refugees To Pressure EU Is ‘Unacceptable’ – Merkel (RT)
Greece Seeks To Fortify Borders Amid Erdogan Threats (K.)
UN Says Greece Has No Right To Stop Accepting Asylum Requests (K.)
The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture (Craig Murray)

 

 

Is COVID19 topping out in China? It’s possible, but they want it too much, and they’ve played loose with the numbers a lot. Strangest thing is perhaps that despite a cavernous drop in manufacturing PMI, a rise in freight train cargo is reported for February.

Most interesting these days, I find, are Italy, South Korea, Iran, which are in their exponential rise phases, and other countries (US?) that may soon follow suit. As I said yesterday: “Italy: only 10 days ago, on Feb 22, when S. Korea cases jumped to 156(!) [now 5,186], Italy first became a thing with 30 cases and 2 deaths. 2,000 cases now, 52 deaths and a 2.5% death rate.”

That Italy has exported the virus to as many as 24 countries also gives me pause for thought. So for now I’ll keep the usual numbers and graphs coming.

But in the run-up to Stupid Tuesday I can also finally pay some attention to the Dems, now that the DNC power grab has become so blatantly obvious.

 

Cases 91,317 (+ 2,069 from yesterday’s 89,248, when gain was 1,616)

Deaths 3,120 (+ 62 from yesterday’s 3,058)

 

• Hubei 114 new cases, 31 new deaths – Total 67,217 cases, 2,834 deaths.
• South Korea 851 new cases, total 5,186, 34 deaths
• Italy 346 new cases, total 2,048, 52 deaths
• Iran 523 new cases, total 1,501, 66 deaths
• France 191 (from 130 yesterday), 3 deaths
• US 103 cases, 6 deaths

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer (Note: mortality rate at 6%):

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

This article is a few days old, but I like the idea. Original title was “Italy Has Exported 24 Cases Of Coronavirus To 14 Countries”, but time won’t stand still.

A list I picked up on Twitter of countries linking infections to Italy: China, Holland, Denmark, Nigeria, US (GA, NH, MA), Iceland, UK, Croatia, Israel, Romania, Spain, Austria, Algeria, Brazil, Finland, Switzerland, Macedonia, Greece, Estonia, Sweden, France, Germany, Lithuania, San Marino.

Italy Has Exported Cases Of Coronavirus To 24 Countries – WHO (TMZNaija)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that Italy has exported 24 cases of coronavirus to 14 countries. The global health body also revealed that 97 cases have been exported from Iran to 11 countries. In his opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – on Friday, 28 February 2020, WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that in the past 24 hours, China reported 329 cases – the lowest in more than a month. Ghebreyesus who reeled out figures regarding the spread of the virus said that as of 6am Geneva time this morning, China reported a total of 78,959 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, including 2791 deaths. “Outside China, there are now 4351 cases in 49 countries and 67 deaths.

“Since yesterday, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands, and Nigeria have all reported their first cases. All these cases have links to Italy,” Ghebreyesus told newsmen. The Director-General also said that the continued increase in the number of cases, and the number of affected countries over the last few days, are clearly of concern. He, however, noted that WHO’s epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously, and have now increased its assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of the impact of COVID-19 to very high at a global level.


“What we see at the moment are linked epidemics of COVID-19 in several countries, but most cases can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases. We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities. “As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this virus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts. “As I said yesterday, there are different scenarios in different countries and different scenarios within the same country,” Ghebreyesus said.. According to him, the key to containing this virus is to break the chains of transmission. Meanwhile, according to BBC, not less than 210 people has died from coronavirus disease in Iran.

Read more …

An index of smaller companies than the Beijing one covers.

China Manufacturing Collapse Confirmed By Private Sector Factory Survey (SCMP)

A collapse in China’s manufacturing sector in February was confirmed on Monday, with a new survey of privately-owned producers emphasising the economic damage caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ Index (PMI), a gauge of sentiment among the country’s smaller factory operators, plunged to 40.3 in February from 51.1 in January. The weak data will reinforce expectations that China could report negative growth in the first quarter of 2020 for the first time since the Cultural Revolution in the late-1960s and early-1970s. It will also renew calls for Beijing to take more aggressive steps to support the economy.


The survey was well below market expectations for a drop to 46.0 and marks the lowest reading since the survey began in April 2004. It was weaker than 40.9 in November 2008 amid the global financial crisis. The Caixin index follows Saturday’s release of the official manufacturing PMI, which crashed to a record low of 35.7 in February, below the previous trough of 38.8 reached in November 2008 at the start of the global financial crisis, the National Bureau of Statistics said. The survey for the official gauge covers more larger and state-owned firms, while the Caixin survey covers smaller firms. A reading below 50 means activity in the manufacturing sector is contracting. The further below 50 the index falls, the larger the contraction.

Read more …

Was this coordinated with Xi?

China Reports Surprising Rail Freight Growth In February (SCMP)

China’s official railway operator has said that rail freight rose in February, despite the coronavirus outbreak forcing large parts of the country into lockdown, and the official purchasing managers’ indices for manufacturing and services tumbling to all-time lows. China Railway, the state-owned railway operator, said in a statement on Sunday that total railway freight amounted to 310 million tonnes in February, a rise of 4.5 per cent from a year earlier, just a day after the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that China’s factory and service sector activity sunk into deep contraction.


The supplier delivery time sub-index in China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which measures logistics efficiency by railway, road and air for factories, dropped to 32.1 in February, a sign that raw material supplies to the manufacturing sector were at record lows last month, the NBS said. China Railway, meanwhile, said that China loaded 171,000 railway cars per day on average last month, a daily increase of 4,945 from a year earlier. Container freight on railways surged 39.5 per cent to 26.61 million tonnes, it added, in an surprisingly stable account of China’s rail freight network. In the January-February period, China’s freight cargo rose by 0.6 per cent to 670 million tonnes, an all-time high, according to China Railway.

Read more …

Steve’s elaborate write-up of things to do.

A Modern Jubilee As A Cure To Financial Ills Of Coronavirus (Steve Keen)

Extraordinary measures are needed now to stop the health effects of the Coronavirus triggering a financial crisis that could in turn make the Coronavirus worse. All of these actions can be undertaken by Central Banks and financial regulators, once they have been given permission by governments. Two of these measures are already being undertaken by some Central Banks:

• A per capita payment to all citizens so that renters can pay the rent, mortgagors can service their mortgages, and workers, whether unemployed or not, can buy food and other critical goods. This can be financed as Quantitative Easing was financed, without recourse to the Treasury, or taxation (Hong Kong has already done this);

• Normal bankruptcy rules for companies and especially banks should be suspended, to allow them to continue operating despite falling into negative equity if revenues fall sharply and share prices plunge; and

• Central Banks should buy shares directly to support share prices, rather than simply buying bonds under Quantitative Easing, to prevent a stock market collapse undermining both business and banks (Japan’s Central Bank is already doing this, though for other reasons).

Argument – There is no doubting now that the Coronavirus is a pandemic. This is the first one we have experienced since the “Spanish Flu”, which lasted from January 1918 till December 1920. Other recent serious diseases have had much lower levels of transmissibility. This is the first disease to compare to the Spanish Flu in terms of both transmissibility and virulence. Europe was embroiled in World War I at the outbreak of the Spanish Flu. Its health and population impacts were huge: estimates of the death toll vary between 40 and 100 million in a global population of 1.8 to 1.9 billion.

Here I want to focus on its financial effects. They were mild, because the great financial crisis of the 20th century, the Great Depression, lay ten years in the future. Disruptions to life were extreme, but disruptions to the economy were relatively small, and it was a war economy anyway for much of the world. This meant there was guaranteed employment and wages for military personnel, rationing for the general public, and other wartime measures. All these things limited the financial contagion from the medical contagion. Crucially, private debt was a mere 55% of US GDP when the flu outbreak began. The private sector was relatively robust.

Read more …

“Is there anything you can think of over at the Wal Mart or the Walgreens that isn’t made in China?”

This Ain’t No Fooling’ Around (Kunstler)

Is there anything you can think of over at the Wal Mart or the Walgreens that isn’t made in China? I mean, everything from a dustpan to a lint brush? I can’t say for sure, because I’m not over in China, but the place is apparently not open for business these days. One must surmise that a lot of activities in the USA may not be open for business much longer, either. The action in my local supermarket yesterday had an undercurrent of stealth desperation; no overt panic buying, no fighting in the aisles, but an edge of suspense. Personally, I cleaned out an entire product-line of cat food, loaded up on cooking oil, rice, dry beans, and evaporated milk — and I wasn’t the only one checking out with the sixteen-roll bindle of toilet paper.

Obviously, many products were still there on the shelves to get (minus that cat food). Is the time perhaps at hand when a lot of stuff won’t be? Just sayin’. The message is getting out — though not from US authorities yet — that everybody may soon be spending a lot of time home alone. That’s exactly what has happened in China and a region of northern Italy. France banned events with more than 5,000 people (why that number, exactly?). Japan has canceled school for the time being — duration unknown for now. So a USA lockdown is not merely hypothetical. These, then, are two fundamental conditions the world faces for a while: nobody moves and nothing gets produced.


Are we taking this thing too seriously (some might ask)? I don’t pretend to know the answer, except, again, to point to China and think that they can’t possibly just be fooling around with all those zombified cities and shuttered factories. The next question might be: will the global economy return at some point to “normal” operating conditions, that is, the fabulously complex network of supply lines, markets, and payment arrangements as they worked up until January 2020? I am for sure not sure about that. Once a gigantic and fantastically precise mechanism breaks, I doubt it comes back together neatly and quickly. In the physical universe, the power of emergence is like the cue ball on a billiard table, and it appears that all the rest of the colored balls will be bouncing off the bumpers and sinking into pockets for while… and eventually the global table will look a lot different.

Read more …

Stupid Tuesday.

Tucker Carlson On Democrats: ‘They’re Pushing A Defective Product’ (Fox)

Tucker Carlson mocked those pushing and supporting former Vice President Joe Biden Monday, in particular those who think he’s the candidate to stop the nomination of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “And tonight, they have found their war horse, a hero they imagine will carry them forth to victory against the wild-haired infidel from Vermont. It is this candidate whom you should know is literally now the youngest man in the Democratic race,” Carlson said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “This is the man they believe has the competence, the intensity, the intellect to repel the seething horde of Sanders-ites. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Joe Biden.” Carlson played a montage of clips showing Biden fumble on the campaign. The host then chastised those pushing Biden to continue running, calling it “cruel.”

“Running Joe Biden for president is like making your dog wear a dress,” Carlson deadpanned. “It may make for an amusing Instagram post, but it’s wrong. You can see the confusion in the dog’s eyes.” The host ripped former Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, among others, for endorsing Biden who he referred to as a “defective product.” “Today, both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar endorsed Biden. So did former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Beto O’Rourke,” Carlson said. “These are party people doing the bidding of their corporate masters. There’s nothing warm or sentimental about it. They’re pushing a defective product on consumers and they know it. They’re selling lawn darts.”


Carlson believes the threat from Sanders is about “institutional control.” “The Biden campaign isn’t about ideas, much less ideals. The Democratic establishment’s only concern is institutional control,” Carlson said. “That’s where all of their power comes from. From holding together and running things. If the Democratic coalition breaks down, they are by definition powerless.” “They have nothing. And the real threat of Bernie Sanders is the threat he poses to the party. He could split it in half and break it forever,” Carlson added. “That cannot happen. Joe Biden is their last chance. That’s why they’re backing him.”

Read more …

If they fail to stop his candidacy, what other tricks are up their sleeves?

What Could Divide The Democrats More Than Conspiring To Stop Bernie? (Tracey)

Perhaps the intense wave of establishment Democratic party consolidation around Joe Biden over the past 48 hours isn’t a concerted conspiracy — no smoke-filled rooms, no corrupt deals, no villainous blackmail schemes. But the Democratic party establishment (which we’re often told does not exist) is clearly making every effort to give the appearance of something conspiratorial going on. Take yesterday, for instance. Pete Buttigieg meets for breakfast with 95-year-old Jimmy Carter (?), ensures the visit is well-publicized, then heads home to South Bend and pulls the rug out from under his campaign. Wait, what? Is this the same Pete Buttigieg whose aides just a few days earlier released an elaborate memo detailing his surefire path to a formidable delegate acquisition?


Yet suddenly his Super Tuesday plans are scrapped, and the thousands of early votes already cast for him in California and elsewhere are effectively nullified. We’re all supposed to pretend this is normal behavior? Because it seems a bit sociopathic. I personally would never have voted for Pete. Nor would I have voted for Amy Klobuchar, who pulled the same 11th-hour dropout stunt today. But part of me still finds it disgraceful that these candidates would gut-punch their staff, volunteers, supporters, and voters in such a manner — hours before a major national election they’d been working toward for a full year — after both candidates gave every indication that they were going to actively contest. Instead of patting themselves on the back, shouldn’t Amy and Pete be begging for forgiveness, especially from those who already voted for them in Super Tuesday states — as it turns out, on false pretenses?

Beto 9 months ago:

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John Solomon is back again.

Ukraine Court Throws Wrench Into Joe Biden’s 2020 Election Plans (Solomon)

A Ukrainian court has ordered an investigation into whether Joe Biden violated any laws when he forced the March 2016 firing of the country’s chief prosecutor. The ruling could revive scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s lucrative relationship with an energy firm in that corruption-plagued country just as the former vice president’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is surging after a lackluster start. Former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who has long alleged he was fired because he would not stop investigating the Burisma Holdings firm that employed Hunter Biden, secured the ruling last month. Ukrainian officials confirmed the State Bureau of Investigation has since complied and initiated the probe.

The Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv ruled last month that Shokin’s lawyers had provided sufficient evidence to warrant a probe and “obliged the authorized officials of the State Bureau of Investigation” to accept the ex-prosecutor’s complaint and “start pre-trial investigation of the reported data,” according to an official English translation of the ruling provided by Shokin’s attorney. The ruling does not mention Biden by name, but court filings by Shokin’s lawyers that led to the decision show that the former prosecutor had alleged “the commission of a criminal offense against him by Joseph Biden, a citizen of the United States of America, in Ukraine and abroad: interference in the activities of a law enforcement officer.”


[..] Joe Biden and his defenders have denied any wrongdoing, saying the vice president sought Shokin’s firing because the prosecutor was ineffective in fighting corruption. His supporters have also claimed that the Burisma investigation was dormant at the time Shokin was fired and therefore not a high priority. But evidence has emerged in recent weeks that the probe into Burisma, in fact, was heating up when Shokin was fired in spring 2016. The prosecutor’s office had secured a ruling re-seizing assets of Burisma’s owner in early February 2016, and the Latvian government acknowledges it sent a warning to Ukraine officials that same month flagging several Burisma transactions, including payments to Hunter Biden, as “suspicious.”

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“..the Justice Department inexplicably still takes the position that the court should close discovery and rule on dispositive motions. The Court is especially troubled by this.”

Hillary Clinton Ordered To Give Sworn Deposition On Email Server, Benghazi (ZH)

Hillary Clinton has been ordered to give a sworn deposition to Judicial Watch regarding her emails and documents related to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya while she was Secretary of State. The ruling is in response to the conservative legal group’s lawsuit, “Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State” – specifically regarding “talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack.” “Judicial Watch famously uncovered in 2014 that the “talking points” that provided the basis for Susan Rice’s false statements were created by the Obama White House. This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.” -Judicial Watch

Discovery in the case began in December, 2018, when Judge Royce C. Lamberth allowed Judicial Watch to explore whether Clinton’s use of a private email server was intended to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). JW also sought to determine: “whether the State Department’s intent to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith; and whether the State Department has adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request.” “The court also authorized discovery into whether the Benghazi controversy motivated the cover-up of Clinton’s email. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.” The State and Justice Departments continued to defend Clinton’s and the agency’s email conduct.” -Judicial Watch

On Monday, Judge Lamberth overruled Clinton and the State Department’s objections to limited additional discovery, writing “Discovery up until this point has brought to light a noteworthy amount of relevant information, but Judicial Watch requests an additional round of discovery, and understandably so. With each passing round of discovery, the Court is left with more questions than answers.” Lamberth also said that he is troubled by the fact that both Clinton and the State Department want discovery to end.

“[T]here is still more to learn. Even though many important questions remain unanswered, the Justice Department inexplicably still takes the position that the court should close discovery and rule on dispositive motions. The Court is especially troubled by this. To argue that the Court now has enough information to determine whether State conducted an adequate search is preposterous, especially when considering State’s deficient representations regarding the existence of additional Clinton emails. Instead, the Court will authorize a new round of discovery “-Judge Lamberth

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Erdogan told Bulgarian PM he doesn’t want to talk to Greek PM, and won’t send any refugees to Bulgaria (a few km away from Greek-Turkish border)

Erdogan’s Use Of Refugees To Pressure EU Is ‘Unacceptable’ – Merkel (RT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Turkey’s decision to release thousands of migrants toward the EU “unacceptable,” and accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of pressuring the EU “on the back of the refugees.”Turkey allowed thousands of migrants to leave its territory over the weekend, accusing EU leaders of failing to back its plans for a Turkish-controlled ‘safe zone’ inside Syrian territory. With Turkish forces engaged in open warfare with the Syrian government in Idlib, Erdogan opened the floodgates to Europe, in a move seemingly designed to put pressure on his NATO allies to back his Syrian offensive.

“I understand that Turkey is facing a very big challenge regarding Idlib,” Merkel told reporters on Tuesday. “Still, for me it’s unacceptable that he – President Erdogan and his government – are not expressing this dissatisfaction in a dialogue with us as the European Union, but rather on the back of the refugees. For me, that’s not the way to go forward.”


Already, Greek authorities have struggled to hold back the human wave that has crashed upon its border with Turkey. “This is an invasion,” Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis told Skai TV on Monday, as police fired tear gas at migrants attempting to storm the border fence, and as the Greek coast guard tried to stop dinghies full of refugees from landing on the country’s southern islands. Though criticized for her “open door” migration policy during the 2015 migrant crisis, Merkel has since attempted to reduce the influx. However, despite promising Erdogan additional aid in January in exchange for holding more than 3 million migrants on Turkish soil, Merkel refused to support her Turkish counterpart’s military operation in northern Syria, prompting Erdogan to follow through last weekend on his long-standing threat to release the migrants into Europe.

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Stories about Greek guards killing refugee(s) are fake news, says Athens, spread by Erdogan.

Greece Seeks To Fortify Borders Amid Erdogan Threats (K.)

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Monday that soon the number of refugees crossing into Europe “will reach millions” unless the European Union takes responsibility for the crisis, Greece continued efforts to fortify its borders and diplomatic initiatives to tackle what it calls an “asymmetrical threat.” On the diplomatic front, the government’s initiatives have led to a planned visit on Tuesday to the Greek-Turkish border in Evros by the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament – Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli – accompanied by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Even though Athens believes the visits send a powerful message, it is expecting practical support from its partners, stressing that Greece’s borders with Turkey are also European.


On Sunday, Greece announced emergency measures to tackle the crisis, including a further tightening of border controls to the maximum level, a temporary one-month suspension of asylum applications and the immediate return of undocumented migrants to their country of origin. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of refugees and migrants at the Greek border is estimated at around 13,000 people and tensions are rising as they try to push through. Tensions were also running high on the islands following the arrival over the weekend of around 1,000 refugees and migrants, with locals trying to prevent one smuggling boat from docking. A child died when one vessel capsized.

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Yeah, you’re really helping.

UN Says Greece Has No Right To Stop Accepting Asylum Requests (K.)

The United Nation’s refugee agency said on Monday that Greece had no right to stop accepting asylum applications as Athens struggled with a sudden increase of arrivals at its border of Middle East refugees and migrants from Turkey. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday his country would not be accepting any new asylum requests for a month after two days of clashes between border police and thousands of people seeking to enter the EU from Turkey. “It is important that the authorities refrain from any measures that might increase the suffering of vulnerable people,” UNHCR said in a statement.


“All states have a right to control their borders and manage irregular movements, but at the same time should refrain from the use of excessive or disproportionate force and maintain systems for handling asylum requests in an orderly manner.” The UN agency said neither international nor EU law provided “any legal basis for the suspension of the reception of asylum applications.” Its statement came as the EU scrambled to help Greece police the frontier and sought to put pressure on Turkey to go back to preventing refugees and migrants stranded on its territory from seeking to reach Europe.

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“I am as confident as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the United States were to become imminent, Mr Assange would find a way of suiciding.”

The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture (Craig Murray)

The defence was impeded by their inability to communicate confidentially with their client during proceedings. In the next stage of trial, where witnesses were being examined, timely communication was essential. Furthermore they could only talk with him through the slit in the glass within the hearing of the private company security officers who were guarding him (it was clarified they were Serco, not Group 4 as Baraitser had said the previous day), and in the presence of microphones. Baraitser became ill-tempered at this point and spoke with a real edge to her voice. “Who are those people behind you in the back row?” she asked Summers sarcastically – a question to which she very well knew the answer. Summers replied that they were part of the defence legal team.


Baraitser said that Assange could contact them if he had a point to pass on. Summers replied that there was an aisle and a low wall between the glass box and their position, and all Assange could see over the wall was the top of the back of their heads. Baraitser said she had seen Assange call out. Summers said yelling across the courtroom was neither confidential nor satisfactory. This is the photo taken illegally (not by me) of Assange in the court. If you look carefully, you can see there is a passageway and a low wooden wall between him and the back row of lawyers. You can see one of the two Serco prison officers guarding him inside the box. Baraitser said Assange could pass notes, and she had witnessed notes being passed by him. Summers replied that the court officers had now banned the passing of notes.

Baraitser said they could take this up with Serco, it was a matter for the prison authorities. Summers asserted that, contrary to Baraitser’s statement the previous day, she did indeed have jurisdiction on the matter of releasing Assange from the dock. Baraitser intervened to say that she now accepted that. Summers then said that he had produced a number of authorities to show that Baraitser had also been wrong to say that to be in custody could only mean to be in the dock. You could be in custody anywhere within the precincts of the court, or indeed outside. Baraitser became very annoyed by this and stated she had only said that delivery to the custody of the court must equal delivery to the dock. To which Summers replied memorably, now very cross “Well, that’s wrong too, and has been wrong these last eight years.”


I have been wondering why it is so essential to the British government to keep Assange in that box, unable to hear proceedings or instruct his lawyers in reaction to evidence, even when counsel for the US Government stated they had no objection to Assange sitting in the well of the court. The answer lies in the psychiatric assessment of Assange given to the court by the extremely distinguished Professor Michael Kopelman [..] : “Mr Assange shows virtually all the risk factors which researchers from Oxford have described in prisoners who either suicide or make lethal attempts. … I am as confident as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the United States were to become imminent, Mr Assange would find a way of suiciding.”

Read more …

 

Automatic Earth commenter/contributor Dr. John Day telling Tulsi Gabbard yesterday at a townhall in Austin, Texas that the US needs to purchase 6 billion doses of chloroquine phosphate to treat everybody (assuming a high infection rate, eventually).

 

 

 

If you read us, please support us. It’s the only way the Automatic Earth can survive. Donate on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Mar 022020
 


John Vachon Big Four Cafe, Cairo, Illinois 1940

 

China Leaves Asymptomatic Patients off Coronavirus Infection Tally (Caixin)
Epidemic Won’t Spark Financial Crisis In China (Global Times)
CDC Retesting Patient After Testing Negative, Being Released (KSAT)
CDC Testing Limits May Have Delayed Coronavirus Response (HP)
US Agency Investigating Production Of Faulty Coronavirus Test Kits (R.)
Murder Probe Sought For South Korea Sect At Center Of Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)
China Gives Relief to Shield Trillions of Yuan in Bad Debt (BBG)
Australia Warns It Can’t Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus From Overseas (R.)
Indonesia Confirms First Cases, Linked To Japanese Citizen In Malaysia (SCMP)
Japan’s Factory Activity Shrinks At Fastest Pace Since 2016 (R.)
Buttigieg Drops Out Of Democratic Race Two Days Before Super Tuesday (R.)
Klobuchar Cancels Campaign Rally After Protests (Hill)
Tulsi Gabbard Urges Trump: Don’t Drag Us Into War With Russia (ZH)
Assange Enters The Kangaroo Court (MStar)
EU Accepts Greek Demand For Emergency Foreign Affairs Council (K.)

 

 

 

Cases 89,248 (+ 1,616 from yesterday’s 87,632)

Deaths 3,058 (+ 64 from yesterday’s 2,994)

 

Everyone just dances on. China pretends it’s fine, and the Global Times assures us there will be no financial crisis. As the US CDC is found painfully wanting on multiple fronts. As Super Tuesday draws near, Trump will be criticized heavily for the US response to COVID19, especially now the first US deaths are on the tally. But though he certainly stumbles his way awkwardly through, the CDC would be what it is no matter which party is in charge.

And while western governments, along with China, have no strong desire to perform the best testing they can, because it can only make them look worse, “newly infected” countries like Nigeria (190 million) and Indonesia (260 million), don’t have the desire, and not the means either. This will keep official infection numbers low(er), but does that mean we can all go visit without any worries?

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer (Note: mortality rate fell to 6%):

 

 

A more complete pic of COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

“If you don’t have symptoms, it’s not an illness,” he said. “There’s no need to announce it.”

And at the same time, the first lung transplant:

Twitter: “Oh gosh – first lung transplant done for a #COVID19 patient. Hope only a fraction of the 20% severe cases ever need this. Though there is currently 50% 28-day mortality if someone enters ICU (based on China data). But what % or total infected will need ICU? Unclear.”

China Leaves Asymptomatic Patients off Coronavirus Infection Tally (Caixin)

China’s decision to exclude individuals who carry the new coronavirus but show no symptoms from the country’s public tally of infections has drawn debate over whether this approach obscures the scope of the epidemic, with a document received by Caixin showing a significant proportion of one province’s cases show no symptoms. Since early February, the National Health Commission (NHC) has concluded that “asymptomatic infected individuals” can infect others and demanded local authorities to report those cases. However, the commission has also decided not to include these people in its statistics for “confirmed cases” or indeed to release data on asymptomatic cases.

On Feb. 25, in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province there were 104 asymptomatic infected individuals, according to a Feb. 26 Heilongjiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained by Caixin. That same day the province said it had 480 “confirmed cases,” a tally which did not include the 104 asymptomatic cases. In its Jan. 28 virus prevention and control plan, the NHC demanded the prompt detection and reporting of those with light or no symptoms. According to a document obtained by Caixin, the Heilongjiang CDC confirmed its first asymptomatic individual on Feb. 1 and asked the NHC for permission to leave the case off its public list of confirmed cases.

[..] two days after the fourth edition of the NHC’s Covid-19 guidelines released on Feb. 7 said asymptomatic cases should be reported separately and excluded from the confirmed case tally, Heilongjiang removed 13 asymptomatic infected individuals from its tally of “confirmed cases.” However, multiple studies from both Chinese and overseas researchers have been published, suggesting that individuals infected with Covid-19 can be contagious even if they do not feel ill.

In earlier guidelines, asymptomatic individuals were supposed to be observed and treated at home. But by the fifth edition of the NHC guidlines released Feb. 21, they had to undergo a 14-day quarantine as well as test negative in two separate nucleic acid tests before being released. Health authorities have also developed criteria to determine whether an asymptomatic individual is the source of infection in any given cluster. Nevertheless, at a Feb. 14 press conference, NHC deputy director Zeng Yixin said that the country would only publicize “suspected” and “confirmed cases.” “If you don’t have symptoms, it’s not an illness,” he said. “There’s no need to announce it.”

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The Party speaks. It’s not feeling well.

Epidemic Won’t Spark Financial Crisis In China (Global Times)

China is not facing a financial system crisis, despite mounting pressure from the coronavirus epidemic on the economy and global stock market routs, but further macro stabilizing measures, including more liquidity injections, might be necessary, analysts said on Sunday. Ominous signals have begun to suggest that the epidemic might have hit the Chinese economy harder than some had expected, which in turn has fueled speculation that China might face a financial crisis. On Saturday, official data showed that China’s manufacturing sector may have experienced a sharp downturn in February worse than during the global financial crisis in 2008.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped to 35.7 in February, the lowest level on record, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The non-manufacturing PMI plunged to 29.6, deep in contraction territory. The downbeat data followed hefty losses in the Chinese A-share market on Friday amid a worldwide stock market rout due to concerns over the coronavirus epidemic. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plummeted 3.71 percent on Friday to drop below the psychologically important level of 3,000. The index lost 4.87 percent for the week. Although the Chinese stock market fared better than Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12 percent last week, concerns over a potential downtrend in the A-share market or even a broader financial crisis grew.

“Suggestions that China is facing risk of a financial crisis are just absurd,” Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Sunday. “If anything, China’s A-share market is facing an upward trajectory given the fact that it has been at its historic lows and that the economic fundamentals have not changed.” [..] In light of moves by China’ s central bank to inject liquidity and local governments to support businesses, some argue the potential risks of a spike in non-performing loans among local governments could cause a financial crisis.

But Dong said that China’s government debt level remains significantly lower than those of developed countries and banks are among the world’s biggest and most regulated. “Everything is very much under control,” he said. China’s A-share market might be at the start of a bull run, according to Yang Delong, chief economist at Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund. “US stocks have reached its top, whereas the A-share market is bottoming out. Therefore I think the A-share market will increase by 20 percent this year,” he wrote in a note sent to the Global Times on Sunday.

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The CDC is being exposed as a pretty incompetent entiry.

CDC Retesting Patient After Testing Negative, Being Released (KSAT)

A patient released from isolation in San Antonio on Saturday is being retested for the coronavirus at a local health facility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials say the patient met the criteria for release after testing negative for the virus twice. Both of the tests were administered more than 24 hours apart. However, the patient later returned to isolation after a pending lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the CDC. The patient was isolated when they were treated at the local medical facility for several weeks after returning from Wuhan, China, on a State Department chartered flight, the CDC says. Out of caution, the CDC says the individual was brought back into isolation at a local medical facility and is getting retested.


The patient did have contact with others while outside of isolation, and health officials are working to trace others that may have been exposed. Metro Health is working to track where the patient went, who they interacted with, the time frames they spent outside of the quarantined facility and who may have been exposed, officials say.“This is an unfolding situation with many unknowns. CDC is making decisions on a case-by-case basis using the best available science at the time. CDC’s priority is to protect both patients and communities,” said the CDC in part, in a press release. Several Texas officials are speaking out after the CDC’s announcement that a patient was released into San Antonio with possible coronavirus exposure. Mayor Ron Nirenberg says it’s unacceptable that CDC officials released the patient and allowed the public exposure.

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You could be minutes from death, but if you didn’t visit China or French kiss with someone who did, no tests for you.

CDC Testing Limits May Have Delayed Coronavirus Response (HP)

Genetic sequencing of two cases of the novel coronavirus in Washington suggests the disease had been circulating in the state for six weeks — but went undetected because of strict testing restrictions set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a scientist who compared the genetic fingerprints. The study of the coronavirus contracted by a high school student in Snohomish County north of Seattle links the illness to the very first COVID-19 case in the nation, a man who tested positive Jan. 19 after returning to his home in Snohomish county from China. He has since recovered, but the illness was passed on, undetected, via community transmission for “the past six weeks,” noted Trevor Bedford, an associate professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington.

He attributed the lack of earlier detection of an “already substantial outbreak” to the CDC’s “narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China” (or contact with someone known to be ill with coronavirus) before people could be tested. [..] Besides restrictions until recently on when it could be used, the test created by the CDC in early February initially only worked predictably in a handful of labs. Early detection is critical so that people can begin treatment and be isolated before passing on the virus to someone else. As of Friday, fewer than 500 people had been tested in the U.S., according to the CDC, compared with countries like South Korea, where 65,000 have been tested.

[..] Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, complained about the testing system Saturday when addressing the first coronavirus death in the nation in Kirkland, Washington. “Testing capacity is so limited,” he said at a press conference. The state public health lab only began testing for COVID-19 on Friday, but officials hope soon to be able to also rely on commercial and university labs. “If we had the ability to test earlier, I’m sure we would have identified patients earlier,” said Duchin. [..] To ease the testing logjam, the FDA announced Saturday that labs and hospitals across the nation will now be able to conduct the test for COVID-19 and won’t have to wait for results from the CDC.

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You can always export them to Africa.

US Agency Investigating Production Of Faulty Coronavirus Test Kits (R.)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Sunday that it is investigating a manufacturing defect in some initial coronavirus test kits that prompted some states to seek emergency approval to use their own test kits. On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would immediately begin using its own test kit developed in-state after asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday for permission to do so. The FDA said on Saturday it would allow some laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus. On Sunday, New York confirmed its first case of coronavirus.


FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement on Sunday that “upon learning about the test issue from CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), FDA worked with CDC to determine that problems with certain test components were due to a manufacturing issue. We worked hand in hand with CDC to resolve the issues with manufacturing.” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday the United States has 75,000 test kits on hand “and over the next week that will expand radically.” He said over 3,600 people in the United States have been tested to date. Hahn added that the “FDA has confidence in the design and current manufacturing of the test that already have and are continuing to be distributed. These tests have passed extensive quality control procedures.”

Read more …

Also for Chinese government, western governments? They also hid facts.

As for Seoul, they tested only a few 1000 of the 317,320 Shincheonji members and “trainees”..

Murder Probe Sought For South Korea Sect At Center Of Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)

The government of Seoul asked for a murder investigation into leaders of a Christian sect at the center of the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak, saying the church was liable for its refusal to cooperate with efforts to stop the disease. A large majority of the more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the South Korean outbreak, the largest outside China and still growing, have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive movement that reveres founder Lee Man-hee. Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul, said if Lee and other leaders of the church had cooperated, effective preventive measures could have saved those who later died of the virus. “The situation is this serious and urgent, but where are the leaders of the Shincheonji, including Lee Man-hee, the chief director of this crisis?” Park said in a post on his Facebook page late on Sunday.


Seoul’s city government said in a separate statement that it had filed a criminal complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, asking for an investigation of Lee and 12 others on charges of murder and disease control act violations. The prosecutors’ office said it had received the complaint and was reviewing it. Health authorities said the vast majority of the 3,000 cases confirmed in Daegu, another Korean city, were linked to a branch of the church there, where a person who had tested positive in February attended services twice. [..] Health authorities said they have obtained a list of 317,320 Shincheonji members and “trainees”, but have been told by some local governments that it was not exhaustive.

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When money is your only answer to all questions.

China Gives Relief to Shield Trillions of Yuan in Bad Debt (BBG)

China’s financial regulators will allow the nation’s lenders to delay recognizing bad loans from smaller businesses reeling from the deadly coronavirus outbreak, giving temporary reprieve to trillions of yuan of debt. Qualified small- and medium-sized businesses nationwide with principal or interest due between Jan. 25 and June 30 can apply for a delay to the end of the second quarter, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory said in a joint statement with the central bank on Sunday. In Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, the waiver applies to all companies, including large firms, according to the statement. Chinese banks are taking extraordinary steps to avoid recognizing bad loans, seeking to protect themselves and cash-strapped borrowers from the economic fallout of the epidemic, as Bloomberg News reported last week.


Regulators told lenders not to downgrade loans with missed payments or report delinquencies to the country’s centralized credit-scoring system before the end of June, according to the statement. The push by banks and regulators to ease the wave of debt going bad is part of a broader effort by President Xi Jinping’s government to shore up the Chinese economy, which some forecasters predict may suffer a rare quarter-on-quarter contraction to start 2020. Gross domestic product may shrink by 2.5% in the first quarter, Nomura Holdings Inc. economists led by Lu Ting said in a report on Saturday, after the country’s manufacturing sector reported record-low activity in February. In addition to pumping billions of yuan into the banking system to make it easier for lenders to extend credit, authorities have cut interest rates, reduced taxes and pledged to adopt more “proactive” fiscal policies.

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It’s a choice, a trade-off. Close the borders OR get infected.

Australia Warns It Can’t Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus From Overseas (R.)

Australia’s chief medical officer said on Monday it was no longer possible to completely prevent people with the coronavirus from entering the country, citing concerns about outbreaks in Japan and South Korea. Australia, one of the first countries to put restrictions on its borders in a bid to limit the spread of the virus, confirmed its first death from the disease on Sunday. “It is no longer possible to absolutely prevent new cases coming in,” Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, told reporters in Canberra. “We have got concerns about Japan and South Korea. They are working hard to control their outbreaks but we are still concerned that people in those countries and other high risk countries may present with an infection.”


The chief medical officer’s comments came as Australian officials confirmed the country’s 30th case of coronavirus, a 40-year old man who arrived in Australia’s second most populated city, Melbourne from Iran. He later travelled to Tasmania. Meanwhile, Australia named the 78-year old man who became the country’s first person to die from coronavirus as James Kwan. He was a passenger on the Diamond Princess ship that was held off Japan’s coast for weeks. Kwan and his wife, who also has the virus, were transferred back to Australia for treatment. Australia barred entry from Feb. 1 to any foreigners who had travelled through China in the two weeks prior to arriving in Australia. It extended that ban to Iran on Sunday. Both bans are in force until at least March 7. Australian citizens and permanent residents are exempted.

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That country of 260 million with a very sparse health care system. That has neither the desire nor the means to count its victims.

Indonesia Confirms First Cases, Linked To Japanese Citizen In Malaysia (SCMP)

Two Indonesians have tested positive for the coronavirus after being in contact with an infected Japanese national, Indonesian President Joko Widodo revealed on Monday, marking the first confirmed cases in the world’s fourth most populous country. The two had been hospitalised in Jakarta, Widodo told reporters at the presidential palace in the capital. The president said a 64-year-old woman and her 31-year-old daughter had tested positive after being in contact with a Japanese national who lived in Malaysia and was found to have the virus after returning from a trip to Indonesia. Widodo said an Indonesian medical team had traced the movements of the Japanese visitor before uncovering the cases.


“After checks, they were in a sick state. This morning I got a report that the mother and the daughter tested positive for coronavirus,” said Widodo, who said they were being treated at Jakarta’s Sulianti Saroso infectious diseases hospital. Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto told reporters the Japanese visitor was a friend of the two women’s family and had visited their house. He said authorities were checking who else the Japanese visitor may have come into contact with. The confirmation of the first cases of coronavirus came after authorities had defended their screening processes, with some medical experts raising concerns of a lack of vigilance and a risk of undetected cases in the Southeast Asian country of more than 260 million people.

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Who could have predicted that?

Japan’s Factory Activity Shrinks At Fastest Pace Since 2016 (R.)

Japan’s factory activity was hit by its sharpest contraction in nearly four years in February, raising a red flag over manufacturing in the world’s third-largest economy as the impact from the coronavirus outbreak spreads. The manufacturing slowdown offers the clearest evidence yet of the epidemic’s damaging effects on global growth and businesses and is likely to ramp up pressure on Japanese policymakers to boost growth. The au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to a seasonally-adjusted 47.8 from a final 48.8 in the previous month. The February reading was its lowest since May 2016.


The index stayed below the 50.0 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for a 10th month, marking the longest stretch since a 16-month run to June 2009 during the global financial crisis. “Near-term prospects for Japan’s industrial sector appear very bleak,” said Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey. “Weakness was driven by the demand-side in a broad-based fashion. Consumer, intermediate and capital goods producers recorded faster declines in demand and overall order books fell at the sharpest rate in over seven years.” The pressure on the world’s third-largest economy has built rapidly during the past weeks as the virus outbreak is dealing a sharp blow to China’s economy, Asia’s biggest.

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Good DNC boy. All against Bernie.

Buttigieg Drops Out Of Democratic Race Two Days Before Super Tuesday (R.)

Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, saying he no longer saw a chance of winning, the day after fellow moderate Joe Biden won a big victory in South Carolina. The move shook up the Democratic contest to pick a candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November’s election and came two days before the 14-state Super Tuesday nominating contests that will offer the biggest electoral prize so far. Buttigieg, a 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who gained early momentum after he narrowly won the Iowa caucuses last month and finished a close second in New Hampshire, had sought to unite Democrats, independents and moderate Republican voters.


But he finished a distant third in Nevada and fourth in South Carolina. “Today is a moment of truth … the truth is that the path has narrowed to a close for our candidacy if not for our cause,” Buttigieg told supporters in South Bend on Sunday night. “Our goal has always been to unify Americans to help defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.” [..] An adviser told Reuters that Buttigieg was dropping out to avoid helping the odds of front-runner Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist. “Pete was not going to play the role of spoiler,” said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Could he have went through Super Tuesday and beyond? Sure. But this was not a vanity exercise.”

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Klobuchar out today? Place your bets. She has zero chance, but can take away votes from Sleepy Joe. They’ll keep Warren in, so she can dig into Bernie’s support.

And as all the TV clowns talk about Bernie’s support among black voters, check this:

“Klobuchar was the lead attorney in the county at the time of his initial trial, and she later denied a request for him to attend his mother’s funeral after he was imprisoned.”

Klobuchar Cancels Campaign Rally After Protests (Hill)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) canceled a campaign rally in St. Louis Park, Minn., on Sunday after protesters reportedly affiliated with Black Lives Matter and other civil rights groups took the stage at her event for over an hour. In a statement obtained by The New York Times, Klobuchar’s campaign said the senator offered to meet with demonstrators in exchange for them exiting the stage and allowing her rally to proceed, adding that the protesters initially agreed to such terms before reportedly backing out and refusing to leave the stage.

“The campaign offered a meeting with the senator if they would leave the stage after being on the stage for more than an hour,” a spokesperson for the Klobuchar campaign told the Times. “After initially agreeing, the group backed out, and we are now canceling the event.” The campaign did not immediately return a request for further comment from The Hill. Klobuchar has faced calls to suspend her campaign from Black Lives Matter and NAACP activists over her role in the criminal prosecution of Myon Burrell, an African American man who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison while still a teenager. Klobuchar was the lead attorney in the county at the time of his initial trial, and she later denied a request for him to attend his mother’s funeral after he was imprisoned.

Burrell’s case has become a point of criticism for Klobuchar’s campaign, as many including the victim’s father believe he may have been wrongfully convicted. “What I need people to understand is this isn’t about partisanship and this isn’t about politics,” said Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, in January. “This is about justice. … This isn’t just a situation that happened to the Central Park Five alone. This is a situation that happens all around America. This is a situation that happens right here in Minnesota.” “Young people, young adults were given life sentences to rot away in prison,” he added at the time. “This benefits no one. However, it does benefit politicians who use the criminal justice system to benefit their political careers. Enough is enough.”

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But Tulsi is still running.

Tulsi Gabbard Urges Trump: Don’t Drag Us Into War With Russia (ZH)

Tulsi Gabbard has once again gone on the offensive, skewering Washington mainstream foreign policy and the Trump administration’s refusal to stand up to “dictator” Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump reportedly told Erdogan in a phone call last week as the Idlib crisis escalates, now in an open state of war between the Turkish and Syrian armies, and with Russia supporting the latter, that the US “reaffirmed” its support for Turkey in Idlib. Ankara is now demanding greater support from NATO as well, after Russian jets were widely believed behind last Thursday’s massive air strike which killed 33 Turkish soldiers.


Congresswoman and Democratic presidential hopeful Gabbard attacked this stance in a weekend video statement, urging Trump instead to make clear that “the United States will not be dragged into a war with Russia by the aggressive Islamist expansionist dictator of Turkey via NATO.” She also slammed the mainstream media’s efforts to renew holding up al-Qaeda terrorists on the ground in Idlib as mere “rebels” and “freedom fighters” — saying it’s a disgrace to men and women in uniform who signed up to fight terrorists in the wake of 9/11. “Turkey’s been supporting ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists from behind the scenes for years,” she pointed out. “Turkey’s Erdogan wants to create an Islamist caliphate in Syria, reestablish the Islamist Ottoman Empire, and is working with al-Qaeda and other terrorists to achieve his goal.” “He wants to be the caliph,” she added, explaining further he’s not a “friend” of America, but remains one of the most dangerous dictators in the world.

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1233740452182024193

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A kangaroo court in a banana republic.

Assange Enters The Kangaroo Court (MStar)

The most visually striking aspect of the Woolwich courtroom is where Assange sits — in a box covered by bullet-proof glass. This obviously unnecessary “security” measure was aimed at portraying Assange as a dangerous, violent terrorist who must be restrained at all times. Not only was the bullet-proof box dehumanising and degrading, it also made it impossible for Assange to participate in his own defence — a basic principle of due process. Assange could barely even hear the proceedings, let alone communicate with his legal team. Any communications that did occur in the box were not confidential since he was flanked at all times by at least one security guard. On Wednesday, Assange finally had enough. He stood up and began to address the judge, requesting he be permitted to properly communicate with his own lawyers.

The judge cut him off and sent the court into recess rather than allow him to speak. When the court reconvened, Assange’s lawyer formally requested Assange be permitted to sit with his legal team — a position that astonishingly was supported by the lawyer for the prosecution, who apparently found the whole set-up so gross as to discredit the entire proceeding. Yet still, the judge would not relent and Assange remained caged like an animal. However the abuse in the courtroom pales in comparison to the abuse behind closed doors in Belmarsh prison. The night after the trial opened, prison authorities relentlessly harassed Assange. He was shuffled from room to room all night, stripped naked and handcuffed multiple times throughout the ordeal. His legal papers were also confiscated.

When the defence lawyers complained the following day in court, the judge shrugged her shoulders and said that she had no authority over the prison administration who subjected him to such humiliation. The years of suffering Assange has endured while being persecuted by the US, British and other governments is evident simply from his physical appearance. Assange was clearly exhausted in the courtroom, sometimes slumped over. Even before being subjected to nearly a year of HMP Belmarsh, Assange had to deal with the psychological torment of nearly seven years’ confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy. At the same time it is clear he still has the will to fight and has not compromised his principles an inch. The trial resumes in May, and will likely be followed by an extensive series of appeals.

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The pace the EU moves at. As Greece’s borders are being overrun. Erdogan is to visit Putin on Thursday.

Greece swears it won’t let the “migrants” enter, which Erdogan has selected for women and children (photo-ops) and militant youth (severity).

EU Accepts Greek Demand For Emergency Foreign Affairs Council (K.)

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has convened an extraordinary Foreign Council for next week on developments in Syria and the ensuing migration emergency, at the request of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Dendias had formally requested an extraordinary meeting Saturday. In his statement, Borrell says that the EU-Turkey agreement on repatriation of refugees needs to be upheld and confirms EU supports Greece and Bulgaria in addressing the migration issue. Borrell’s statement:


“The ongoing renewed fighting in and around Idlib represents a serious threat to international peace and security. It is causing an untold human suffering among the population, and having a grave impact on the region and beyond. The European Union needs to redouble efforts to address this terrible human crisis with all the means at its disposal. I am therefore calling for an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council next week to discuss the unfolding situation, in particular at the request of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece. Over the past days, I have been in contact with key actors. I have called for an immediate de-escalation and for a lasting ceasefire, deplored the loss of lives, and offered EU support to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. There is only a political solution to this crisis.

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