Dec 052020
 


Paul Cézanne Young Italian Woman at a Table c1900

 

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)
Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)
Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)
Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)
The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)
The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)
Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)
Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)
A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)
Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)
Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)
AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)
Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)
Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

 

 

 

 

“There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.”

Jerusalem Hospital Orders 1.5 Million Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine (Haaretz)

Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center has ordered 1.5 million doses of a Russian vaccine against the coronavirus, hospital director Zeev Rotstein said Tuesday. First reported on Army Radio, Rotstein added that the hospital will give the Health Ministry all necessary data about the vaccine this week, with the goal of obtaining a permit to administer it to Israelis. Rotstein, who has clashed repeatedly with the ministry in recent months, is convinced that the fears voiced in the media about the vaccine aren’t well-founded, and that they have more to do with the global struggle between Russia and the United States than with the scientific data. But even if the ministry refuses to approve the vaccine, he said in an interview with Haaretz, “We’ll have something do with it,” because Hadassah also operates overseas.

The Russian vaccine has been in phase three clinical trials since August and has already been given to tens of thousands of people. Hadassah’s branch in Moscow has both given the vaccine to people and monitored them afterward, “and the results and safety we’ve seen have been very good,” Rotstein said. Hadassah’s activities in Moscow are what led the Russian authorities to propose that the hospital seek Israeli approval for the vaccine, he added. If the phase three trials show that the vaccine is both safe and effective, and if the Health Ministry approves its use, the vaccine could be available in Israel in two to three months.

Rotstein stressed that until the phase three trial ends and the data has been analyzed, it’s impossible to know if the vaccine will be effective in preventing the virus. But based on the data so far, he said, “There’s a good probability that the vaccine is safe. And there’s a reasonable probability … that it’s also effective.” Both the development of the Russian vaccine and Russia’s unusual decision to administer it to its own citizens, even before the phase three trials ended, have been widely criticized worldwide. But Rotstein insisted that much of this criticism stems from the American-Russian battle over who will develop a vaccine first.

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Yeah, very convincing.

Moderna Says Its Vaccine Provides COVID19 Immunity For At Least 3 Months (NYP)

Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 has been shown to create immunity against the bug for at least three months, the biotech company said. Thirty-four healthy adults who received two doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, were shown to have antibodies for 90 days, according to new findings published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The first dose “produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time, as expected, but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination,” the study said. The two doses were administered 28 days apart.


The report did not make clear what level of risk people would have after 90 days and whether another shot would be needed. Earlier this week, Moderna asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, saying data shows its vaccine is more than 94 percent effective against coronavirus. On Friday, the Massachusetts-based company said it would be able to produce 500 million doses of the vaccine in 2021. “For 500 million, I am very comfortable we are gonna get there,” chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said at the Nasdaq Investor Conference.

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More confidence? Based on what? Just news stories?

Intent to Get a COVID19 Vaccine Rises to 60% (Pew)

As vaccines for the coronavirus enter review for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the share of Americans who say they plan to get vaccinated has increased as the public has grown more confident that the development process will deliver a safe and effective vaccine. Still, the U.S. public is far from uniform in views about a vaccine. A majority says they would be uncomfortable being among the first to take it, and a sizable minority appear certain to pass on getting vaccinated. Overall, 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, if one were available today, up from 51% who said this in September.

39% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half of this group – or 18% of U.S. adults – says it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. Yet, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19: 75% have at least a fair amount of confidence in the development process today, compared with 65% who said this in September.

These findings come on the heels of preliminary analysis from two separate clinical trials that have produced vaccines that are over 90% effective; the FDA is expected to issue decisions about the emergency authorization of these vaccines in the coming weeks. While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public says they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable.


The toll of the pandemic is starkly illustrated by the 54% of Americans who say they know someone personally who has been hospitalized or died due to the coronavirus. Among Black Americans, 71% know someone who has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.

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What is being done about this? Why do we never read about that?

Nursing Homes Create ‘Perfect Storm’ For COVID Outbreaks (CNBC)

The coronavirus death toll at U.S. nursing homes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was brutal and unrelenting. The Life Care Center nursing home outside Seattle made international headlines in March after the coronavirus infected residents and staff, resulting in at least 123 cases and dozens of deaths. In New Jersey, public officials discovered 17 bodies piled into a makeshift morgue in a nursing home in April when Covid-19 fatalities overwhelmed the facility. Nursing homes, which house the most vulnerable of society, quickly became ground zero for countless coronavirus outbreaks across the U.S. in the early months of the pandemic. While the outbreak subsided somewhat this fall, long-term care facilities are now seeing their most intense surge in Covid cases since at least the summer.

As new cases break record after record most days, infections at long-term care facilities reached a new weekly high in late November, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, an organization launched by The Atlantic magazine. More than 46,000 infections at those facilities were recorded in what was the worst week in six months; reliable data only goes back that far. Despite making up just 5.7% of all U.S. Covid cases, nursing home and assisted living facilities residents and staff accounted for 39.3% of the deaths, according to tracking project data. That number is generally considered low since many nursing home deaths tend to get reported without an underlying cause, physicians have said.

Deaths at U.S. nursing homes for the week ended last Thursday topped 3,000 — the highest weekly death toll since June, pushing cumulative fatalities over 100,000, according to the tracking project. “I’ve likened nursing homes to being like a tinderbox. It takes one person, one person, to unknowingly bring the virus into a facility and it could kill several people, make a lot of people sick,” said Dr. Joseph Ouslander, a geriatrician at Florida Atlantic University who works as a clinician in nursing homes. No matter what precautions staff take, it’s going to be difficult to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes, said Ouslander, who is also a professor of integrated medical science. “All those elements of the perfect storm are in place.”

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The Households Survey showed an actual decline of 74,000 working people. 100s of 1000s no longer count as in the labor force.

The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier (WS)

Everyone seems to be baking the highly anticipated potential future vaccines into the economic cake, but what has been happening for weeks is a spike in Covid cases across the US that has already triggered economic restrictions, including various versions of stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and some other Bay Area counties, with restaurants closed for outdoor dining, strict capacity restrictions in retail stores, and many other restrictions. These moves are ahead of the State of California’s new framework for dealing with the spiking infections. Other states and cities have similar programs, either on the front burner or on the back burner. The Covid spike has already crimped economic activity and jobs over the past few weeks and is going to do more severely going forward.

But the jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on surveys of “establishments” for the pay period through November 12; and on surveys of households for the week through November 14. So the data we got today largely missed the labor market consequences of the spike in Covid cases. Those consequence are coming in the next employment reports, starting with the report for December. Despite the cut-off dates having kept much of the Covid-impacted jobs data out of the results, the data have actually deteriorated in several aspects, including the number of people with jobs as reported by households, the employment-population rate, and the labor force.

The headline number of 245,000 jobs created came from surveys of establishments (companies, governments, nonprofits, educational institutions, etc.). That survey doesn’t track gig workers. It depicted a lousy recovery. But lousy as it was, it was the more benign part. The survey of households, on the other hand, tracks people who are working full or part time, including gig workers. And households reported that the number of people with jobs ticked down to 149.7 million. This wasn’t a slowdown in growth, but an actual decline of 74,000 working people – the first month-to-month decline since April.

The chart shows both results, from establishments (green) and from households (red) – the biggest part of the difference being gig workers. It’s obvious that even by November 12, before the real impact of the Covid surge, this was no good, in terms of catching up with population growth, or in terms of anything else:

The employment-population ratio, which tracks the number of employed workers against the working-age population (16 years or older) also dipped in November, to 57.3%, a level first seen since in 1972:

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From Bernie campaigner Sirota. He’ll never be left near a Dem campaign again.

The Beltway Left Is Normalizing Corruption And Corporatism (DP)

Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a straightforward question: “Who would you point to now as a leading progressive voice in the cabinet?” Harris had no answer, saying only that “we’re not even halfway there” on nominations. Biden touted only his Homeland Security nominee, who previously helped run Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The spectacle was revelatory and honest: A month after the election, Biden’s nominations make clear that the president-elect is most focused on trying to fulfill his promise to donors that nothing fundamentally changes. And yet, that tacit admission may have stunned those who keep hearing from liberal and progressive groups in Washington that, in fact, the left has been notching monumental victories in Biden’s cabinet appointments.

This disconnect between Biden nominating business-friendly corporatists and Beltway liberals effusively celebrating those nominees spotlights the latter groups’ decision to genuflect for access and influence — rather than being brutally honest about the situation. That strategy of appeasement has almost never worked in an America where change has typically come only through opposition, struggle and sacrifice. And yet somehow, prostration remains the dominant strategy among the professional left. Why? In some cases, liberal groups are naively trying to curry favor with an incoming Democratic administration. Others are probably just trying to demonstrate to their supporters and future donors they won’t be completely irrelevant in Biden’s Washington.

Some are just too chickenshit to ever stand up and have any real fight with Democrats — and still others are just auctioning off their principles because the establishment counterrevolution offers better, stable career prospects. The result, though, is the same: What little organized left political infrastructure exists in Washington is largely valorizing or publicly defending swamp creatures who at minimum deserve a loyal opposition. The good work being done by a small handful of under-resourced groups to mount a real opposition is getting trampled by a culture of obsequiousness. This culture of acquiescence gives swamp creatures a free pass — and it may not just deliver an incrementalist Biden administration that takes progressives for granted and consequently fails to address national emergencies. It could also help permanently change what is even considered politically possible in the future.

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Seems the left has little to no spine.

Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left (TNR)

Few portions of political discourse are as predictably shallow as presidential Cabinet discourse. Who should run the Department of Transportation? An affable also-ran in the Democratic primary who once said something about trains? A moderate politician or a businessman who might bring the country together from their perch at the agency that handles civil aviation and our highways? “No,” a sage voice somewhere in Washington, or Delaware, says. “It should be Rahm Emanuel.” As Chicagoans know, Emanuel’s most ambitious step into transportation policy as mayor was his endorsement of a high-speed tunnel project from Elon Musk that has yet to materialize. Chicagoans also know that Emanuel’s efforts to cover up video of a black teen’s murder by a Chicago policeman probably better qualify him for a post at the CIA.

That agency, we’ve been told this week, might finally be headed by a Black man; we also know a woman has been chosen to run the Department of Defense. Overall, Democratic policy professionals of all identities and stripes have been given plenty of reasons to rejoice at Biden’s choices so far. Civilians in Yemen have not. It’s been noted elsewhere that the left has responded much more quickly and aggressively to Biden’s selections than it did to Obama’s as he put together his first presidential Cabinet. If so, it doesn’t seem like the flurries of statements, social media posts, and articles that have been written to counter every stray rumor and announcement have mattered very much at all—the process is chugging along, and Biden’s nominees are just a couple of notches left of the Obama team; activists might take a small victory in torpedoing an Emanuel nomination.

There was never good reason to expect more. This is partially because a Republican Senate, should Democrats lose in Georgia’s runoff elections next month, will be an obstacle to the confirmation of even moderate nominees. But it’s more substantially because the moderates in the Democratic Party don’t share the left’s policy goals and would oppose giving them a meaningful presence in the Biden administration even if they could. The conventional wisdom about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party has fully reversed itself in the space of six to eight months. As the Democratic primary ended, it was often argued that Sanders and the left lost because they had marginalized themselves—anti-establishment rhetoric, refusals to accept compromise, and the toxicity of prominent voices had alienated not only most of the Democratic electorate but also Democratic elites who might have otherwise been won over.

“Twitter isn’t real life,” it was said. But naturally, after Election Day, Democratic underperformance down-ballot from Biden was blamed mostly on the left’s influence. Democratic elites, it’s said now, were persuaded by the left to take on or accept unpopular messaging about socialism and policing—thanks in part, evidently, to the awesome and terrible power of tweets from left activists, writers, and podcasters.

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Turley points out that the timing indicates Durham now focuses on members of the perspective Biden administration.

“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.”

Barr’s Appointment Of Special Counsel Leaves Biden, Dems In A Muddle (Turley)

Attorney General Bill Barr made two important evidentiary decisions yesterday that delivered body blows to both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. First, Barr declared that the Justice Department has not found evidence of systemic fraud in the election. Second, he declared that there was sufficient evidence to appoint United States Attorney John Durham as a Special Counsel on the origins of the Russia probe. The move confirmed that, in a chaotic and spinning political galaxy, Bill Barr remains the one fixed and immovable object. By appointing Durham as a Special Counsel, Barr contradicted news reports before the election that Durham was frustrated and found nothing of significance despite Barr’s pressure.

Some of us expressed doubts over those reports since Durham asked for this investigation to be upgraded to a criminal matter, secured the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, and asked recently for over a thousand pages of classified intelligence material. Under the Justice Department regulations, Barr had to find (and Durham apparently agreed) that there is need for additional criminal investigation and “[t]hat investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.” He must also find the appointment in the public interest. Notably, the investigation of Clinesmith is effectively completed. So, what is the criminal investigation and what is the conflict?

Presumably, the conflict is not in the current administration since it would have required an earlier appointment. The conflict would seem to be found in the upcoming Biden administration. Some conflicts developing seem obvious as Biden turns to a host of former Obama officials for positions, including the possible selection of Sally Yates as Attorney General. Yates was directly involved in the Russian investigation and signed off on the controversial surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page. She now says that she would never have signed the application if she knew what she knows today.

Durham is now authorized to investigate anyone who may have “violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.” The list of the names of people falling within that mandate is a who’s who of Washington from Hillary Clinton to James Comey to . . . yes . . . Joe Biden. Bizarrely, reports have claimed that Trump was irate at the move as a “smokescreen” to delay the release of the report. That ignores not just the legal but political significance of the action. From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy.

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“Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk?”

A Hall of Smoke and Mirrors (Kunstler)

Is it outlandish to wonder if Joe Biden is a national security risk? Is it, at least, worth looking into, considering the evidence trail? Many people on the Left, who read and view only the captive Left news media, may know nothing about Hunter B’s laptop and the tales it told because social media blacked out all the news about it and the mainstream media went along with the blackout. Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $350-million to a “safe elections” project run by the non-profit Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), that was chiefly active in setting up Democratic vote-harvesting operations. Could he be liable for prosecution in enabling ballot fraud? Has the FBI asked him any questions?

Another story ‘out there’ says that behind the election hijinks a war is underway between the DOD and the CIA. On Wednesday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that all special operations run by the CIA would henceforward report to the SecDef. In effect, the President has ordered the dismantling of the CIA’s troublemaking capabilities, reducing the agency to the task of intel analysis. This means, for instance, ending the CIA’s ability to foment “color revolutions” (coups d’état) in foreign lands — with the implication that irregularities around the Dominion System may have amounted to an attempted color revolution in the USA. Is it worth wondering whether former CIA Director John Brennan, a leftist activist and probably an architect of RussiaGate, was involved in any of the election ops? If the FBI won’t question him about it, who will? (Answer: The Department of Defense.) Ditto Gina Haspel, current CIA Director. After all, what were the Dominion servers doing at the CIA’s server farm in Germany?

Events are moving quickly under the plodding surface of the ongoing swing state hearings, which are largely concerned with on-site mail-in ballot fraud shenanigans. Will the Supreme Court take a case in the few days left before the state vote certification deadline next Tuesday? Will Mr. Trump intervene with some extraordinary measure — martial law, the Insurrection Act? — to actually abort the election and bring about some kind of do-over? Will the country survive its own feckless inability to hold a credible vote? Stand by with me on all that.

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Let the dice roll where they may. Still, Dec 14 doesn’t sound like “plenty of time”.

Sidney Powell: Plenty of Time for Trump to Overturn Election Results (NM)

Attorney Sidney Powell says there’s plenty of time for President Donald Trump’s legal team to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. ‘With the fraud case, the Dec. 8 deadline doesn’t apply,” Powell said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax TV’s ”Stinchfield” in reference to the ”safe harbor” deadline that frees a state from further challenge if it resolves all disputes and certifies its voting results. ”We have at least until Dec. 14,” she said. ”We might file more suits. The court in Michigan or Wisconsin today just gave us a great order recognizing that. These are not pure election contests we are filing. These are massive fraud suits that can set aside the results of the election due to this fraud at any time. The states should not be certifying election results in the face of it.”


Powell, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has been a part of multiple lawsuits in a crusade to overturn results from the 2020 election. Several states have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the election. Newsmax has yet to project a winner as Trump continues to contest the results in court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday said it wouldn’t accept a lawsuit by Trump’s legal team, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through the lower courts. The president asked the court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democrat counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered.

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It doesn’t shut up Flynn anymore.

Judge Emmet Sullivan Still Refusing To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (JTN)

In a Freedom of Information case related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, District Judge Reggie Walton said on Friday that Judge Emmet Sullivan doesn’t have a lot of options in dealing with the fact that President Trump granted Flynn a full pardon, “unless he takes the position that the wording of the pardon is too broad, in that it provides protections beyond the date of the pardon.” “I don’t know what impact that would have, what decision he would make, if he makes that determination that the pardon of Mr. Flynn is for a period that the law does not permit,” said Walton, according to the National Law Journal. “I don’t know if that’s correct or not,” the judge continued. “Theoretically, the decision could be reached because the wording in the pardon seems to be very, very broad. It could be construed, I think, as extending protections against criminal prosecutions after the date the pardon was issued. I don’t know if Judge Sullivan will make that determination or not,” Walton added.


[..] Emmet Sullivan, who was presiding over the case, refused to dismiss the charges even though there was no one attempting to prosecute the case. The legal process has dragged on through the appeals process, and finally President Trump issued a full pardon on November 25. On November 30, the DOJ notified Sullivan of the pardon, but he has still refused to drop the case. Judge Walton appears to have hinted at what Sullivan is thinking as he refuses to dismiss the case. Solomon Wisenberg, former deputy independent counsel, told Just the News that “It is disappointing but not surprising that Sullivan has yet to dismiss the case.”

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Shouldn’t all these machines be audited? And then be retired?

AZ Senate, House Call For Audit Of Dominion Machines In Maricopa County (JTN)

Leaders in the Arizona state legislature on Friday called for an audit of Dominion Voting Systems software and equipment in Maricopa County, a request of which county leaders appear “supportive.” The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus announced it intent to seek such an audit via Twitter on Friday afternoon. “As a longtime advocate for improving and modernizing our election system,” incoming Senate Government Chairperson Michelle Ugenti-Rita said in the news release, “I am pleased to learn that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is supportive of conducting an independent audit of their voting software and equipment.” House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said: “A significant number of voters believe that fraud occurred. And with the number of irregularities it is easy to see why.” Petersen also called it “imperative” that officials conduct a forensic audit on Dominion’s setup in the county. Democrat Joe Biden currently has a lead of about 0.3% in Arizona in the Nov. 3 presidential balloting.

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“Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles..”

Dutch Taxi Company Is Taking Tesla To Court Over “Defective” Cars (Sifted)

The Netherlands was one of Europe’s most prolific buyers of Teslas but now the Dutch honeymoon seems to be over, with Tesla facing a lawsuit from a large taxi company, and a group of disgruntled car owners considering a class action suit. Bios Group, a taxi firm that operates a fleet of more than 70 Teslas out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is taking Elon Musk’s company to court over €1.3m in damages, citing a high number of defects in the vehicles and difficulties in getting them repaired. There are defects with some 20 of the 70 taxis, ranging from broken power steering to broken drive shafts and broken power steering, according to the Hella Hueck’s story in Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad.

Bios had to have 75 defects repaired in 2018 and another 60 in 2019. Even more problematically Bios says there have been problems with odometer readings in the cars being inaccurate, registering journeys from the wrong location or for the wrong distance, something which could land the taxi company in legal difficulties. Though the European car industry may feel like it has been outcompeted by Tesla in electric vehicles — Tesla has a bigger share of the electric vehicle market than all the European carmakers combined — these types of service quality problems may yet give the incumbent automakers an opportunity to win back customers. Bios says it has recently bought 5 Audi E-trons, in part because it expects better after-sales service from Audi.

There have been many recent reports about problems with Tesla vehicles. In June, JD Power, a consumer intelligence company whose car reliability report is considered the industry standard found that Tesla owners reported more problems in their first 90 days of ownership than the other 31 US auto brands included in the study. Tesla owners reported 250 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with an industry average of 166 problems per 100 vehicles. Bios bought the fleet of 72 Model S Teslas in 2014 for €5.7m, one of Europe’s biggest fleets at the time, creating a splash of publicity for the young car company as the fleet paraded around the streets surrounding Schiphol, proclaiming the airport’s commitment to going 100% electric.

But in the last few years, Bios says, it has grown steadily more difficult to get the faulty cars repaired, finally leaving them with no option but to launch a court case to get a resolution. In October, meanwhile, a group of disgruntled Dutch Tesla owners have started the Tesla Claims Foundation, bringing together owners who want Tesla to do more to repair faults in their cars. Some 200 people have so far joined the foundation, with complaints ranging from relatively simple things like rattling noises and poorly working windscreen wipers to broken computers and charging problems.

Read more …

Stoen in the conservative press.

Oliver Stone, America Firster (AC)

Ah, a left-wing America Firster! Not quite, as his subsequent work and his entertaining new memoir, Chasing the Light, illumine, but Oliver Stone, our most political major filmmaker, evinces a rowdily heterodox vision shaped by the unusual quartet of Jim Morrison, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Capra, and Jean-Luc Godard. What do you call a man who joins the Merchant Marine on a whim, runs up big pro football gambling debts, and takes the Old Right view of FDR’s foreknowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? I’d call him an American. Stone was a rich kid, the son of an FDR-hating Jewish Republican who had served on Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force staff and a French Catholic party girl. He attended the Hill School, played on the tennis team, was devastated by his parents’ divorce, and then went seriously off script.


Avid for experiences, Stone dropped out of Yale, taught in a Catholic school in Taiwan, and volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He came home with a Bronze Star, shrapnel in his ass, and a taste for “powerful Vietnamese weed.” Stone’s politics hadn’t changed all that much, though. He had supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and would vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980. In later years he became more explicitly libertarian, expressing support for Ron Paul and making a film about Edward Snowden. At root, Oliver Stone is a patriot who despises the American Empire for corrupting his country. JFK, his fantasia on the Deep State, echoes Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence” by “the military-industrial complex.” Platoon and Salvador bespeak an old-fangled American anti-interventionism in an age when that tendency, once the default position of ordinary Americans, is a virtual thoughtcrime.

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Dec 042020
 


Stanley Kubrick Walking the streets of New York 1946

 

Pfizer Not Sure If Someone Can Transmit Virus After Vaccination (Hill)
NHS Staff No Longer Top Priority For Covid Vaccine (G.)
Half The World Could Get Russian Sputnik V COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
Facebook Bans Anti-Vaccine “Conspiracy Theories” As US Rollout Begins (ZH)
GOP Senators Release 400 Pages Of New Docs On Crossfire Hurricane (SAC)
DNI Ratcliffe Says He Has Given ‘1000s Of Documents To John Durham’ (JTN)
The Georgia Runoffs and Our Embattled Constitution (RCP)
Confessions of a Clintonworld Exile (VF)
Bill Clinton ‘Couldn’t Stay Away’ From Jeffrey Epstein (ZH)
Will The Empire Sacrifice the Dollar? (CHS)
Banks To Chairman Powell On Libor: Foxtrot Oscar (Whalen)
Bank of England Criticised For Losing Track Of £50bn Of Banknotes (G.)
China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy (Wired)
Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as “Feeding the World” (CP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s starting to feel like we’re going to need new definitions for “vaccine” as well as for “immunization”.

Pfizer Not Sure If Someone Can Transmit Virus After Vaccination (Hill)

Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla told Dateline host Lester Holt that the pharmaceutical company was “not certain” if the vaccine prevented the coronavirus from being transmitted, saying, “This is something that needs to be examined.” In a prime-time special titled “Race for a Vaccine” set to air Thursday, Holt questioned Bourla and other individuals involved in the development and distribution of the medicine. In November, Pfizer announced that its vaccine candidate had been shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 and has applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The U.K. became the first country to approve Pfizer’s vaccine this week with the first round of immunizations expected to roll out next week.


In a list of interview highlights released before the special, Holt asked Bourla, “Even though I’ve had the protection, am I still able to transmit it to other people?” “I think this is something that needs to be examined. We are not certain about that right now with what we know,” Bourla responded. Though Pfizer’s vaccine has shown promising results, challenges have surfaced when it comes to distributing and administering it. The vaccine must be delivered and stored in extreme sub-zero temperatures, which has heightened the demand for dry ice. Once the vaccine is kept at normal refrigeration temperatures, it must be used within four or five days or be discarded. The vaccine is administered in two doses spaced a few weeks apart.

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“NHS personnel will be able to take the vaccine into care homes to immunise residents later this month..”

NHS Staff No Longer Top Priority For Covid Vaccine (G.)

NHS staff will no longer get the coronavirus vaccine first after a drastic rethink about who should be given priority, it emerged last night. The new immunisation strategy is likely to disappoint and worry thousands of frontline staff – and comes amid urgent warnings from NHS chiefs that hospitals could be “overwhelmed” in January by a third wave of Covid-19 caused by mingling over Christmas. Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “If we get a prolonged cold snap in January the NHS risks being overwhelmed. The Covid-19 restrictions should remain appropriately tough. “Trust leaders are worried about the impact of looser regulations over Christmas.”

Frontline personnel were due to have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine when the NHS starts its rollout, which is expected to be next Tuesday after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved it on Wednesday. However, hospitals will instead begin by immunising care home staff, and hospital inpatients and outpatients aged over 80. The new UK-wide guidance on priority groups was issued by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) amid uncertainty over when the rest of the 5m-strong initial batch of doses that ministers ordered will reach the UK.

NHS personnel will be able to take the vaccine into care homes to immunise residents later this month if, as expected, the MHRA agrees that the batches of 975 doses it comes in can be subdivided and the stability and safety of the drug be maintained. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the leader of the British Medical Association, said it backed care home residents getting the jab first. However, that means NHS staff will be left at higher risk of getting infected and potentially dying, he added.

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How does Sputnik V differ from the Pfizer “vaccine”?

Half The World Could Get Russian Sputnik V COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

At least 40 countries, representing more than half of the world’s population, have expressed interest in Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, the team behind it have said as mass vaccination begins in Moscow. At a presentation to the United Nations on Thursday, scientists from the Gamaleya Institute, which developed the formula, said that preliminary orders have been placed for more than 1.2 billion doses. Trials involving 45,000 people across the globe have concluded that 95 percent of those given both doses of Sputnik V develop immunity to the virus. On Wednesday, the vaccine’s creators released footage of vials touching down in India ahead of the start of studies into its efficacy there.


A number of countries, including Hungary, Venezuela and the UAE, have already imported sufficient quantities to conduct their own tests. At the same time, the Philippines announced that it would work with Russia to secure access to supplies in order to begin mass immunizations early next year. On Thursday, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin announced that residents of the capital would be able to access the vaccine from Saturday. Doctors, teachers and social workers will be first in line for appointments, and an “electronic immunization record” will be set up. According to Sobyanin, Muscovites will be able to get the jab at ‘vaccine points’ set up around the city. President Vladimir Putin ordered the start of the program on Wednesday, adding that “the production of Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine against the coronavirus infection, is what allows us to begin the vaccination.”

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Our new Supreme Court.

Facebook Bans Anti-Vaccine “Conspiracy Theories” As US Rollout Begins (ZH)

It was probably inevitable. Just in time for the vaccine rollout in the US this coming week (as Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said, inventory has already been loaded on to trucks, and will be en route to destinations across the country as soon as the FDA gives the green light) Facebook said Thursday that it’s “updating its policies around the coronavirus by removing false claims about upcoming vaccines”. The social media giant said it will be monitoring for misinformation that has been debunked by public health experts on both Facebook and Instagram. “This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines. For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,” Facebook said in its announcement.

The company added that it will also remove conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines that we know today are false, such as that specific populations are being forced to test the vaccine against their will. “Since it’s early and facts about COVID-19 vaccines will continue to evolve, we will regularly update the claims we remove based on guidance from public health authorities as they learn more,” Facebook added, but also said that it would “not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight.” Previously, Facebook removed Covid-19 misinformation that could contribute to “imminent physical harm.” That included false claims or cures about the disease, that the coronavirus is caused by 5G, or that it does not exist.

According to the Independent, PA News Agency editor Tom Phillips said social media companies should do more to combat misinformation, but they also must be extremely careful not to go too far and quash public debate. “We have seen a lot of the internet platforms take stricter measures against vaccine misinformation and I think that is the correct approach. Could some of them go further? Yes, possibly.” “But at the same time, it is important to remember the importance of free speech. It’s not illegitimate to have questions or worries about the vaccine and it’s important that we don’t just react by trying to suppress those questions. We allow people to ask the questions, get good quality answers and make up their minds based on good quality information.”

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How crazy would it be if Crossfire Hurricane never gets thoroughly investigated?

GOP Senators Release 400 Pages Of New Docs On Crossfire Hurricane (SAC)

Two top GOP Senators released more than 400 pages of documents related to the FBI’s investigation of the now-debunked probe into President Donald Trump and his alleged ties with Russia, known as the ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ probe. The Senators also stated in their letter Thursday that the documents they received are still far less than what they had originally requested in their official letters sent in May to the FBI and State Department. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R- Wisconsin, and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R -Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the documents as part of their ongoing probe into the FBI’s malfeasance during the Obama administration’s probe into Trump.

Some of the documents, which SaraACarter.com is still reviewing, are now declassified Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of State documents. “The Committees obtained these records through joint requests, as well as Chairman Johnson’s August 6, 2020, subpoena to the FBI,” stated a press release. “The Chairmen also released a comprehensive timeline of key events related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” In a joint statement from Grassley and Johnson they said “for years, the American people have demanded answers to questions regarding the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and its targeting of the Trump campaign, the presidential transition, and the Trump administration.”

“Our committees have sought to uncover and expose misconduct by calling on agencies to declassify and produce text messages, internal emails, and other investigative material, which in turn we have made public,” they noted. “Although agency bureaucrats have fought tooth and nail to keep records hidden, our commitment to transparency has never wavered.” The chairmen added that “the documents we are releasing today are the product of our continued fight for transparency. These documents are far less than what we have requested, but we are making them public so the American people can decide for themselves what wrongdoing did and did not occur.”

In May, the Senators asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to turn over all material regarding former British Spy Christopher Steele’s communications and documents related to the now debunked dossier used to investigate Trump. Wray has been uncooperative with the Senate requests and has been slow to produce the documents since he was appointed by Trump to the position, said numerous Congressional staff familiar with the requests. In the letter to Wray, Johnson and Grassley requested that they were “seeking information about Christopher Steele’s interactions with State Department employees before the 2016 presidential election.”

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Durham is starting to look like a black hole.

DNI Ratcliffe Says He Has Given ‘1000s Of Documents To John Durham’ (JTN)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe during an interview with the Washington Examiner on Thursday said that he has given thousands of documents to U.S. Attorney John Durham, but Ratcliffe noted that much of the material includes information that cannot be publicly released. “Between my predecessor Richard Grenell in an acting capacity and myself, we have declassified most of the intelligence community documents that would be suitable for the public to see, that wouldn’t jeopardize sources and methods,” Ratcliffe told the Washington Examiner. “There are others, many many documents — I think it’s been out there that I’ve provided literally thousands of documents to John Durham, but many of those do contain sources and methods that we can’t make public for a number of reasons, including to jeopardize any investigation that’s going there. So I think the level of cooperation — I’ve given them everything that they’ve asked for.”


Ratcliffe said that wrongdoing definitely occurred and Americans are entitled to “an accounting.” “There was an abuse of power and of legal authorities, and it’s not a question about whether those things took place — they did. I mean, there’s an FBI lawyer who is going to jail for counterfeiting evidence before the FISA court. And that after all of the Obama-Biden senior national security officials said the idea of illegal spying and abuse at the FISA court is a bunch of nonsense, and now, they’re sprinting the opposite direction,” Ratcliffe stated. “I mean, literally, every one of them — Comey, McCabe, Yates — they’ve all said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re shocked and had we only known.’ And so, again, the American people deserve an accounting, and I’ve certainly provided a lot of information to the now-special counsel to provide that accounting, and I’m counting, like all Americans, on him to talk about a lot of the things that I know that I can’t talk about.”

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“..the rise of political parties undermines the separation of powers and, with it, one of the Founders’ barriers against consolidated, oppressive power..”

The Georgia Runoffs and Our Embattled Constitution (RCP)

If Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win Georgia’s Jan. 5 Senate runoffs, Democrats will control both houses of Congress as well as the presidency. The Republican Party, which won nearly half the national vote, will have no check on the Democrats, aside from the Senate’s filibuster rule. Although that rule requires a supermajority to pass some legislation and appointments, it can be abolished by a simple majority when the new Senate convenes. Preventing one-party rule is one of the strongest arguments advanced by Republican incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. They are reminding voters of the threat posed by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who proudly announced: “Now we take Georgia, then we change the world.”

That might be a winning line for national fundraising, but it’s more problematic for the Georgia electorate. Not many voters there want to “change the world,” so Warnock and Ossoff are downplaying it. Don’t expect to seek to see Schumer on the stump in Atlanta, Augusta, or Macon. It’s understandable that the national debate should focus on which party will control the Senate and just how radical the Democrats’ program will be if they do. But just beneath the surface lurk potential constitutional issues, which have received almost no attention. The basic problem is this: although America’s Founders were deeply concerned about tyranny, centralized power, and the suppression of individual rights and constructed institutional barriers to prevent those abuses, they never envisioned the mechanisms that pose serious threats today.

One of those threats is one-party rule. It’s understandable the Founders missed that since they worked before the age of entrenched and nationalized political parties. The closest analogues were England’s Whigs and Tories, but they were a far cry from modern parties. The political world envisioned by America’s Founders was populated not by parties but by cross-cutting “factions,” much like today’s interest groups. The Federalist Papers (especially the famous No. 10, written by James Madison as “Publius”) argued that, in a large republic like America, multiple factions would emerge, push against each other, and usually block any one from dominating.To prevent government authority from becoming too centralized and oppressive, the Constitutional Convention divided that authority among the three branches.

Each one, they figured, would have strong institutional interests in preventing the others from encroaching. It was a profound insight, and a remarkably successful one. But with the rise of modern political parties, it faced a challenge that no 18th century politician could imagine. Strong political parties unify their members across the legislative and executive branches. The stronger their common interests as Democrats or Republicans, the weaker their institutional interests as members of House or Senate, if those interests diverge from fellow partisans in the other house or branch. Put differently, the rise of political parties undermines the separation of powers and, with it, one of the Founders’ barriers against consolidated, oppressive power.

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is Doug Band fully turning on the Clintons?

Confessions of a Clintonworld Exile (VF)

Doug Band’s office at Teneo, the corporate advisory firm he cofounded, is decorated like a wing of the Bill Clinton presidential library. Framed photographs of the 42nd president adorn virtually every surface except for windows overlooking the rush hour traffic crawling down Park Avenue. “A lot of these pictures are just about moments,” Band said one morning last winter as he showed me his collection. Band, a broad-shouldered man with dark eyes and prematurely graying hair, appeared in many of the pictures. There were photos of Band and Clinton playing golf with Barack Obama, posing backstage with Michael Jackson, and meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. “Bill Clinton was my life for almost 20 years,” Band said.

Band was 22 when he landed an unpaid internship in the White House counsel’s office midway through Clinton’s first term. He served as Clinton’s “body man” during the second while earning a Georgetown law degree at night. On paper, the job is a glorified gofer, but Band leveraged the position to build a filial bond with the leader of the free world. When Clinton left office in January 2001, Band was one of the aides Clinton invited to go with him. Band took on a role that was equal parts fixer, gatekeeper, wingman, consigliere, and adopted son. (Officially, his title was counselor.) “They were with each other all the time,” said former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, who first got to know Band in the Clinton White House.

Band virtually invented Clinton’s postpresidential life. He set up Clinton’s Harlem office, helped launch the Clinton Foundation, and created the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the annual Davos-style conference that Clinton hosted in New York. Band and Clinton circled the globe in a private jet with a Rat Pack of billionaires that included supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, movie producer Steve Bing, and, infamously, Jeffrey Epstein. Before Clinton had quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004, he dialed Band at the first sign of chest pains. There were years that Clinton spent more time with Band than with any other person—including Hillary and Chelsea. But when I met Band last February, he hadn’t been in a room with Bill Clinton in nearly five years. He couldn’t remember the last time they had spoken. “I don’t want anything to do with that whole world,” Band said after we’d been talking for nearly an hour.

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More Doug Band.

Bill Clinton ‘Couldn’t Stay Away’ From Jeffrey Epstein (ZH)

Bill Clinton’s former top aide and Chelsea Clinton nemesis Doug Band has told Vanity Fair that former President Bill Clinton did visit Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous “pedo island” in January 2003, and that he was unable to push Epstein out of Clinton’s orbit since they flew to Africa together in 2002 aboard the the pedophile’s (Epstein’s) private 727, dubbed the “Lolita Express.” “Band said he had no idea about Epstein’s sex crimes back then but got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship. But Clinton continued to socialize with Epstein and take his money. In 2006 Epstein donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton made more than two dozen trips on Epstein’s jet around this time, Epstein’s flight logs show. In January 2003, according to Band, Clinton visited Epstein’s private Caribbean island, Little St. James. Band said it was one of the few trips he declined to go on in his time with Clinton.” -Vanity Fair

Band – who revealed the Clinton Foundation’s ‘for-profit’ activity and accused Chelsea Clinton of tapping Foundation funds to pay for her wedding (known only because of WikiLeaks) – also says Chelsea Clinton had a relationship with Epstein and his alleged co-conspirator in an underage sex trafficking ring, Ghislaine Maxwell. “Chelsea had ties to Epstein and Maxwell, Band said; he showed me a photo of Bill and Chelsea posing with Epstein and Maxwell at the King of Morocco’s wedding. Chelsea remained friends with Maxwell for years after the press revealed Maxwell was a close associate of Epstein’s. For instance, Chelsea invited Maxwell to her 2010 wedding at the Brooke Astor estate in Rhinebeck, New York, after Epstein had pleaded guilty in Florida to procuring sex from a minor.” -Vanity Fair

“Ghislaine had access to yachts and nice homes. Chelsea needed that,” said Band. Band notably created the now-defunct Clinton Global Initiative, which has helped to raise $74 billion for Clinton global charities, according to Newsmax. Thanks again to WikiLeaks, we also know that Band was soliciting donations for Clinton through his PR and investment firm, Teneo in an sordid example of “pay for play” which most of the mainstream media refused to cover – which he worried about in an email to John Podesta, saying: “If this story gets out, we are screwed.”

Read more …

As rumors swirl about the Euro’s steep rise due to the ECB running out of powertools.

Will The Empire Sacrifice the Dollar? (CHS)

Let’s keep it simple: US dollar up, stocks down. US dollar down, stocks up. Stocks up, billionaires get richer. Since that spot of bother in March 2020 when the US dollar (USD) soared and stocks cratered, the USD has been in a free-fall, boosting the wealth of America’s Robber Barons and various other skimmers, scammers and other undeserving scoundrels. Chief among the undeserving scoundrels feasting on the decline of the USD are global stock markets which have soared not because revenues and profits are soaring but because the USD has plummeted. The Federal Reserve is widely worshiped as the Ultimate Power in the Universe, a kind of financial Death Star. The Fed has seen fit to crush the USD to further boost the wealth of billionaires and save global stock markets from their well-deserved ruin.

[..] The Fed is not the Empire, it is the handmaiden of the Empire. The Fed’s dual mandate– for PR purposes, stable employment and prices–is actually balancing the conflicting demands of a global and domestic currency–Triffin’s Paradox writ large. The inherent problem with a reserve currency is that it must meet global economic needs and domestic needs, and these are intrinsically in conflict. America’s billionaires and pension funds want the US stock market to loft higher on the back of a declining USD, but that diminishes the global purchasing power of the USD–a trend heading for economic ruin.

The Fed has had numerous reasons to weaken the dollar since March: a desperate need to “save” global stock markets from well-deserved collapse, and an equally desperate need to keep the dollar weak so global debtors with loans denominated in dollars can manage to service their trillions in USD-denominated debts. But drawing a line extending this short-term necessity all the way to hyper-inflationary oblivion is a grave misreading of the Empire’s need for the exorbitant privilege of a strong dollar. The Fed is about done with its “rescue” of billionaires and global markets and debtors. Against virtually all expectations of seers, pundits, gurus, etc. the USD is about to start serving the Empire in its foundational role. As for stock markets–the devil take the hindmost.

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“The 2017 decision by the Fed to do away with LIBOR is one of the most ill-considered and thoughtless actions taken by the US central bank in many years..”

Banks To Chairman Powell On Libor: Foxtrot Oscar (Whalen)

Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve Board and other agencies blinked on the ill-advised transition from LIBOR as a pricing mechanism for financing various types of assets and secured money market transactions. “The Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency today issued a statement encouraging banks to cease entering into new contracts that use USD LIBOR as a reference rate as soon as practicable and in any event by December 31, 2021, in order to facilitate an orderly—and safe and sound— LIBOR transition.” Unfortunately, as we wrote back in September in National Mortgage News (“Housing market needs SOFR alternative — now”), the proposed “replacement” for LIBOR — the secured overnight funding rate or SOFR — is not really a market price at all.

“According to the Fed, SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight, collateralized by Treasury securities,” we wrote in NMN. “In fact, SOFR is an imaginary, backward-looking benchmark dreamed up by the economists at the Fed with no discernable market.” The 2017 decision by the Fed to do away with LIBOR is one of the most ill-considered and thoughtless actions taken by the US central bank in many years. Not only did the Fed displayed its ignorance of the workings of the US capital markets, but it also revealed its arrogance and stupidly. Simply stated, LIBOR is a price for conducting financing in dollars. SOFR is an economists’ wet dream, a backward-looking measure that may seem interesting from a research perspective, but one that lacks actual liquidity.

As we noted in NMN, the solution for the “problem” with LIBOR is to fix the existing benchmark, not to dream up some farcical concept and then try to bully insured depository institutions to use SOFR for actual risk taking. We understand that many banks have told regulators privately the same thing we hear from clients in the too-be-announced (TBA) market for mortgage backed securities (MBS): SOFR is a non-starter and must be discarded. As late as last week, the Fed and other regulators were trying to bully the large dealer banks to stop using LIBOR by December 31st. The resounding answer: “Foxtrot Oscar.” Indeed, a growing number of analysts seem to have reached the same conclusion that we made months ago, namely that asking banks to take tens of billions of dollars in risk every day using SOFR as the pricing mechanism would be unsafe and unsound.

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Go to the mattresses.

Bank of England Criticised For Losing Track Of £50bn Of Banknotes (G.)

It is known throughout the world as a byword for security. But the Bank of England is evidently a tad unclear on the whereabouts of £50bn of banknotes, and it doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about it, a powerful group of MPs has said. In a stiff rebuke for Threadneedle Street, the Commons public accounts committee said the money – equivalent to a stack of £5 notes more than 800 miles high – had essentially gone “missing” because the Bank did not keep close enough tabs on cash usage in modern Britain. Despite walls 8ft thick and an imposing reputation for guarding billions of pounds of gold bars in its vaults, the PAC said the Bank had nonetheless displayed a “lax attitude to whereabouts of bulk of sterling cash supply”.

However, banknotes by their very design are not traceable, making it hard for the Bank to follow the money and know exactly where its notes end up. According to a report from the National Audit Office, there are about £50bn worth of issued banknotes that may be being used overseas or in the UK, a tiny fraction of the trillions of pounds in money circulating in the UK economy in physical notes and by digital transfers. The PAC speculated that this money could be stashed away under mattresses as unreported household savings, may have been taken abroad, or used in the shadow economy. “The Bank of England doesn’t know,” it said.

The value of banknotes in circulation has shot up this year, which the Bank has said is probably because more people started hoarding cash during the Covid-19 pandemic in case they needed it. Coin use has declined over recent years, with the production of new pennies and pounds by the Royal Mint falling by about 65% in the last decade, a trend which could be accelerated by the pandemic as more people move to using contactless debit card payments. Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “£50bn of sterling notes – or about three-quarters of this precious and dwindling supply – is stashed somewhere but the Bank of England doesn’t know where, who by, or what for, and doesn’t seem very curious.

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“..produced results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer..”

China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy (Wired)

Last Year GOOGLE won international acclaim when its prototype quantum computer completed a calculation in minutes that its researchers estimated would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years. That met the definition for quantum supremacy—the moment a quantum machine does something impractical for a conventional computer. Thursday, China’s leading quantum research group made its own declaration of quantum supremacy, in the journal Science. A system called Jiuzhang produced results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer. The two systems work differently. Google builds quantum circuits using supercold, superconducting metal, while the team at University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, recorded its result by manipulating photons, particles of light.

No quantum computer is yet ready to do useful work. But the indications that two fundamentally different forms of the technology can outperform supercomputers will buoy the hopes—and investments—of the embryonic industry. Google and rivals including IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, and several large startups have all spent heavily on developing quantum computing hardware in recent years. Google and IBM offer access to their latest prototypes over the internet, while Microsoft’s and Amazon’s cloud platforms each host a smorgasboard of quantum hardware from others, including Honeywell.

The potential power of quantum computers springs from their basic building blocks, dubbed qubits. Like the bits of conventional computers, they can represent 0s and 1s of data; but qubits can also exploit quantum mechanics to attain an unusual state called a superposition that encapsulates the possibilities of both. With enough qubits it’s possible to take computational shortcuts conventional computers can’t—an advantage that grows as more qubits work together. Quantum computers don’t yet rule the world, because engineers haven’t been able to get enough qubits working together reliably enough. The quantum mechanical effects they depend on are very delicate. Google and the Chinese group were able to stage their supremacy experiments because they managed to corral qubits in relatively large numbers.

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Ukraine once fed half of Europe. Seems worth a Maidan revolution.

Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as “Feeding the World” (CP)

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations. Smallholder farmers are being criminalised and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion. In 2014, the Oakland Institute found that institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, are eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not food security.

Consider Ukraine. The organisation Grain found that in 2014 small farmers operated 16% of agricultural land in that country, but provided 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms were delivering impressive outputs. Following the toppling of Ukraine’s government in early 2014, the way was paved for foreign investors and Western agribusiness to take a firm hold over the agri-food sector. Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan to Ukraine in 2014 included agricultural deregulation intended to benefit foreign agribusiness. Natural resource and land policy shifts were being designed to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land.

Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute, stated at the time that the World Bank and IMF were intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around the control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations had acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land. Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. An article by Oriental Review in 2015 noted that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 172020
 
 November 17, 2020  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Paul Klee Still Life 1929

 

2018 NY Times Video: How Easy It Is to Hack a Dominion Voting Machine (Vaughn)
Voting Fraud Is a Real Concern. Just Look Around the World (NW)
Don’t Mess with Miz Powell (Jim Kunstler)
Trump May Try To Deny Biden 270 Electoral Votes – Dershowitz (ET)
Biden Campaign Director Arrested For Electoral Fraud (PN)
Durham’s Lame Duck Period (Turley)
The Lawless Campaign To Harass Lawyers Representing The Trump Campaign (Turley)
Moderna COVID19 Vaccine Candidate Is 94.5% Effective – Trials (RT)
The Endemic Mindset (Guinn)
65 Virus Cases, With 1 Cluster, In WHO Geneva Staff (AP)
The Economy is Imploding from Over-Capacity and Corrupt Cartels (CHS)
Zombification in Europe in Times of Pandemic (Vox.eu)
Is There Really A China Economic Miracle? (Lacalle)
Rents In British Cities Fall By Up To 15% Amid Covid ‘Exodus’ (G.)

 

 

The Trump legal team doesn’t have to prove the voting machines WERE manipulated, only that they COULD BE.

 

 

 

 

The only reason to use voting machines is to allow cheating.

2018 NY Times Video: How Easy It Is to Hack a Dominion Voting Machine (Vaughn)

Much to their current chagrin, in April 2018, The New York Times published a video of a University of Michigan computer scientist, J. Alex Halderman, showing a group of students how easy it is to rig a Dominion Voting Machine. The name of the video is “I Hacked an Election. So Can the Russians.” A caption next to the title read, “It’s time America’s leaders got serious about voting security.” At the time, Democrats were focused on Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation and were anxiously waiting for his team to find evidence that President Trump had colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election. A colleague of mine, The Western Journal’s Jared Harris, dug up this little gem.

The video shows Homer Simpson using a touch screen to vote for Barack Obama, but it instantly turns into a vote for John McCain. Professor Halderman narrates the brief video and tells students that the Dominion Accuvote TS and TSX machines are obsolete models, but were still being used in American elections.Halderman continues his monologue:”I’m here to tell you that the electronic voting machines Americans got to solve the problem of voting integrity, they turned out to be an awful idea. That’s because people like me can hack them, all too easily.I once turned a voting machine into a video game. Imagine what the Russians and the North Koreans can do.I’ve even gone to Congress to raise the alarm. He is seen testifying at a Congressional hearing. “These machines are vulnerable to sabotage and even to cyberattacks that could change votes.”


Halderman tells viewers how to hack the Dominion voting machines. Step 1: Buy a voting machine on eBay, or if you’re the North Koreans, Hack the manufacturer and steal their software code. Step 2: Write a virus. Step 3: Email your virus to every election official responsible for programming the voting machines with new ballots. Step 4: Wait. Step 5: Hijack the programming and let the election officials copy your invisible malicious code onto the voting machines. Step 6: Watch your code silently steal votes.

How I Hacked an Election

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Good overview.

Voting Fraud Is a Real Concern. Just Look Around the World (NW)

Thirty-seven states have changed their mail-in voting procedures this year in response to the coronavirus. They have followed the lead of Democrats and the media, who claim that concerns about voter fraud and vote buying are figments of the Republican imagination. President Trump’s comments on Thursday and Friday about voter fraud with mail-in ballots have sent the media into a frenzy. One “news” article after another since then has asserted that President Trump’s warning is “baseless” (Associated Press and The Washington Post) or “without evidence” (The New York Times, Politico and NBC News). Liberals and progressives often try to model the U.S. on Western European countries, but you never hear them arguing that we should adopt their voting rules. There is a reason for that.

Banning mail-in voting or requiring people to use photo IDs to obtain a mail-in ballot is quite common in developed countries, especially in Europe. To study this, the Crime Prevention Research Center, of which I am the president, created a database on voting rules around the world. Here is what we found. Besides the United States, there are 36 member states in the OECD. Forty-seven percent ban mail-in voting unless the citizen is living abroad, and 30 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Fourteen percent of the countries ban mail-in voting even for those living abroad. In addition, some countries that allow voting by mail for some citizens living in the country don’t allow it for everyone.

For example, Japan and Poland have limited mail-in voting for those who have special certificates verifying that they are disabled. France has made an exception this year to its ban on mail-in ballots to those who are sick or at particular risk during the coronavirus pandemic. Poland will allow mail-in ballots for everyone for this year only. Brazil and Russia satisfy the economic standards of the OECD, but are excluded for various political reasons. Both countries completely ban mail-in voting and require photo IDs for in-person voting. Among the 27 countries in the European Union, 63 percent ban mail-in voting unless living abroad and another 22 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Twenty-two percent ban the practice even for those who live abroad.

There are 16 countries in the rest of Europe, and they are even more restrictive. Every single one bans mail-in voting for those living in the country or require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Sixty-three percent don’t allow mail-in ballots even for citizens living outside of the country. Are all of these countries, socialist and non-socialist alike, Western and Eastern European, developed and undeveloped, acting “without evidence?” It is not as though people in these countries haven’t heard the same arguments about the importance of the ease of voting—or about how photo ID requirements will, as one professor in the U.K. explained, supposedly “lead to people not being able to vote.”

These countries have learned the hard way what happens when mail-in ballots aren’t secured. They have also discovered how hard it is to detect vote buying when both those buying and selling the votes have an incentive to hide the exchange. France banned mail-in voting in 1975 because of massive fraud in Corsica, where postal ballots were stolen or bought and voters cast multiple votes. Mail-in ballots were used to cast the votes of dead people.

Dominion
https://twitter.com/i/status/1327511568993701888

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“Maybe ex-CIA chief John Brennan never should have messed with General Mike Flynn. Just sayin’.”

Don’t Mess with Miz Powell (Jim Kunstler)

An eerie silence oppressed the election news-space much of last week as Mr. Trump and his people seemed to lay low, Br’er Rabbit style, and a lot of folks wondered what was going on in that-there briar patch. Towards the weekend, Rudolf Giuliani methodically described some of the evidence at hand about janky ballot reporting, but that must have been too plodding for the Big Media gang. Then another Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, came on Lou Dobbs’s Friday evening news show and some people started paying attention to some things she said, like, “I’m going to release the kraken” — referring to the largest and most feared sea monster in Old Norse mythology. Miz Powell, she means bidness. She went on, “We have staggering statistical evidence; we have staggering personal testimony… we’re beginning to collect evidence on the financial interest of the governors and secretaries of state who bought into the Dominion [vote tabulation] systems… President Trump won this election in a landslide, it is irrefutable… we are gonna go after it, and I am going to expose every one of them.”

Well, that might have put the fear of Gawd in some people. In case anyone in the back-of-the-class wasn’t paying attention, Miz Powell went back on the air Sunday morning with Maria Bartiromo and said, “We’re fixing to overturn the results of this election in multiple states… President Trump won not by hundreds of thousands of votes but by millions of votes that were shifted by this software that was designed expressly for that purpose…. We have so much evidence I feel it’s coming in like a firehose.” Is Ms. Powell bluffing? Why would she try, since the time left in this game is short and her only play is to show her cards? “I never say anything I can’t prove,” she declared.

[..] It’s a pretty rich gameboard out there and the clock is ticking. The possible outcomes are several: The state legislatures in disputed states could choose their own elector slates. In short order, the President’s lawyers will take their case to the US Supreme Court, which might invalidate the disputed states’ elections and send the contest into the House of Representatives a la the 1876 Hayes-Tilden election. The Department of Justice could level felony charges before December 8 at a long list of companies and persons involved in demonstrable ballot fraud. This could amount to decapitation of the Deep State. Would Mr. Barr dare? A lot of people doubt it. I’m sure readers can conjure up other possibilities.


In any case, a final victory for Joe Biden would hopelessly taint any administration he leads and would lead to much harsher resistance coming from the other side this time — while he is trying to govern during an economic calamity worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Maybe ex-CIA chief John Brennan never should have messed with General Mike Flynn. Just sayin’.

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“.. if the one vote doesn’t give the leading candidate 270 electoral votes, then automatically it goes to the House of Representatives, where a whole new process takes over, and a process that clearly favors President Trump..”

Trump May Try To Deny Biden 270 Electoral Votes – Dershowitz (ET)

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz predicted that President Donald Trump will attempt to settle the election in a way not seen since the 19th century. In an interview with Newsmax, the longtime legal expert said Trump no longer is attempting to reach 270 Electoral College votes but will instead focus on denying Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s chances of getting 270 votes. “Let’s look at the big picture: The big picture now has shifted,” Dershowitz told the website. “I do not believe that President Trump is now trying to get to 270 electoral votes. I think he thinks that’s out of the question.” Trump hasn’t signaled in public about his chances of securing 270 votes due to several legal challenges.

“What he’s trying to do is to deny Joe Biden 270 votes, by challenging in Pennsylvania, Georgia, in Nevada, in Michigan, in Arizona,” Dershowitz said, adding that not allowing Biden to reach 270 out of 538 votes would eventually force House state delegations to vote, where Republicans have an advantage over Democrats. Currently, the GOP has a 26-23-1 state delegation majority in the House of Representatives. “If he can keep the Biden count below 270, then the matter goes to the House of Representatives, where, of course, there is a Republican majority among the delegations of states, and you vote by state if it goes to the House,” Dershowitz said. “He’s trying to follow the playbook of three elections of the 19th century.”


Dershowitz noted that a number of things would have to align perfectly for Trump to win under that circumstance. “You need a perfect storm for it to work,” he said. “You need to get enough states, enough state attorneys general, or state departments, or whoever, secretaries of state or governors that are Republican that legitimately refuse to certify the results because they’re under challenge on the day the Electoral College meets by statute.” “If on that day, Biden doesn’t have 270 votes—you don’t get to vote two or three times on that; as far as the Constitution’s concerned, it’s one vote—and if the one vote doesn’t give the leading candidate 270 electoral votes, then automatically it goes to the House of Representatives, where a whole new process takes over, and a process that clearly favors President Trump,” added the former law professor.

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Hmmm.

Biden Campaign Director Arrested For Electoral Fraud (PN)

The Democrat Director of Texas state political strategy for the Joe Biden Presidential campaign has been arrested for electoral fraud. Democratic Party operative Dallas Jones was formally accused of helping to run an illegal ballot harvesting operation in the state of Texas on behalf of the Joe Biden campaign during this contested Presidential election. According to the National File, two investigators, including a former FBI agent and former police officer, testified under oath that they have Democratic Party internal documentation, as well as video evidence and witnesses, for their investigation. The following is an affidavit from private investigator and retired Houston police officer Mark A. Aguirre, which was submitted under oath.

“My name is Mark A. Aguirre. I am above the age of eighteen years and am fully competent to make this affidavit. The facts stated in this affidavit are within my personal knowledge and are true and correct. “I am a retired captain with the Houston Police Department. I am now a private investigator. “I am currently involved in an investigation related to a wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme in Harris County intended to rig the elections in the Houston/Harris County area. This scheme involves voter fraud on a massive scale. “Based on interviews, review of documents, and other information, I have identified the individuals in charge of the ballot harvesting scheme. These individuals include political consultant Dallas Jones, who was recently hired by the Joe Biden for President campaign to oversee their Harris County initiative, District 13 Texas State Senator Borris Miles, who is the handler of Mr. Jones, political consultant Gerald Womack, and Precinct 1 Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.


One of the companies these individuals are using as a front for this operation is AB Canvassing, although there are others that have been identified that we are investigating.” “I have in my possession video-taped interviews of witnesses attesting to the aforementioned people having groups of people completing thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots, including completing ballots for deceased individuals; illegally going into nursing homes, with the complicity of the nursing home staff, and filling out and forging the signatures of nursing home residents; signing up homeless individuals to vote using the ballot harvester’s address, then completing the ballot and forging the homeless individual’s signature.

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Where is Durham?

Durham’s Lame Duck Period (Turley)

Before going dark in October, U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation made headlines with the criminal plea of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in order to continue surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser. There have been rumors for months that Durham found material not disclosed by special counsel Mueller or the Justice Department’s inspector general in their prior investigations. He also is known to have been working with a grand jury as part of his investigation. There is ample reason why a Biden administration would want to see Durham’s investigation closed.

Earlier this year, disclosures contradicted Biden’s denials that he knew of or was involved in the investigation of figures like Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn; the disclosures indicated Biden may have sought to “unmask” Flynn in surveillance reports. There also are accounts from the Oval Office that Biden was briefed on the Flynn investigation, including the fact that the FBI thought his discussions with Russian diplomats were “legit.” Earlier, FBI investigators sought to end the Flynn investigation for lack of evidence of any crime; according to one report, Biden raised the possibility of prosecuting Flynn under the Logan Act, a federal law widely viewed as unconstitutional.


The Durham investigation may not result in new indictments but could result in the release of new evidence. Indeed, the greatest risk of intervention by the Biden administration would be the withholding of any report or the use of classification rules to bar parts of its release. That report could shed light on how the Russia investigation began and was sustained, despite early intelligence refuting the collusion allegations. This includes recently released information that President Obama was briefed on intelligence suggesting that Hillary Clinton was working to falsely paint Trump as colluding with Russians. Such findings could be highly embarrassing not only to Obama administration officials but a number of congressional Democrats — including Rep. Schiff, who assured the public that, after contrary findings by the special counsel and the inspector general, his House committee had clear evidence of collusion. Schiff never produced that evidence.

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A “dangerous attack on our democracy” indeed.

The Lawless Campaign To Harass Lawyers Representing The Trump Campaign (Turley)

As in the past, there is a disturbing symbiosis of the media and activists feeding off each other. When Biden was viewed as the likely winner, theories of voting irregularities instantly became “conspiracy theories.” Groups like the Lincoln Project targeted law firms and launched a campaign to force lawyers to abandon Trump as a client. This effort resulted in Twitter blocking the Lincoln Project for targeting individual Trump lawyers in a tweet (accompanied by a skull-and-crossbones emoji) that was deemed threatening and abusive. That only seemed to thrill the Lincoln Project. It reportedly joined Democrats in targeting law firms like Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur and threatening its lawyers with professional ruin. It claimed that any firm working for Trump on election litigation was part of a “dangerous attack on our democracy.”

Trying to strip people of their counsel, of course, is the real attack on our democracy — and it worked: The firm buckled and withdrew, saying the pressure caused internal struggles and at least one lawyer’s resignation. Other campaigns have targeted individual lawyers and what used to be called “fellow travelers” during the McCarthy period. After the election, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called for liberals to assemble enemies lists of those “complicit” in the Trump administration. (Ironically, the first entry by a Bernie Sanders surrogate were the Republicans who founded the Lincoln Project). Former Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan proudly tweeted: “WH staff are starting to look for jobs. Employers considering them should know there are consequences for hiring anyone who helped Trump attack American values.”


However, the effort to intimidate lawyers representing Trump or his campaign is not about vengeance. It is about insurance. Even though the success of these challenges is small and shrinking, opponents do not want to risk any judicial scrutiny of the vote. Social media campaigns targeted the clients of firms like Jones Day, while the Lincoln Project pledged $500,000 to make the lives of these lawyers a living hell. It is the kind of tactic used by Antifa and other activists to “deplatform” speakers or harass individuals at their homes. Trump is highly unpopular with many Americans — and virtually all of the media — so it is popular to harass anyone who supports or represents him. It is mob justice targeting the justice system itself.

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The Moderna vaccine appears to be far superior when it come to storage:

ZH: “Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored ultra-cold until a few days before it is used, but can be kept at refrigerator temperatures for as much as five days. Moderna, meanwhile, pointed to new data showing its vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for 30 days, much longer than a previously estimated seven days.”

Moderna COVID19 Vaccine Candidate Is 94.5% Effective – Trials (RT)

A new Covid-19 vaccine candidate is almost 95 percent effective, its American manufacturer has said, potentially giving it the edge in the race to defeat the virus. US-based biotechnology company Moderna announced on Monday that the two-dose mRNA-1273 vaccine it is developing has an efficacy of 94.5 percent, based on the results of a Phase-3 study, involving over 30,000 people. In the clinical trials, 90 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the group given the placebo, compared to five cases among those given the vaccine. It comes as a rival vaccine by US-based Pfizer and German firm BioNTech was found to have an efficacy of 90 percent, while the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine reported a 92 percent efficacy.


“The overall effectiveness has been remarkable…it’s a great day,” Moderna’s chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, told BBC News. The company now intends to apply for an emergency use authorization with US regulator the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks. Europe’s health regulator, the European Medicines Agency, said on Monday that it had started a real-time “rolling review” of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, following similar checks on Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s vaccines. Moderna expects to have 20 million doses of its vaccine ready to ship to the US by the end of the year and said it remains “on track” to manufacture between 500 million and a billion doses globally in 2021. It also announced on Monday that its vaccine has a better shelf life and stability than that of Pfizer’s, which must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, or -94 Fahrenheit.

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“In the real world, the difference between 1,500 deaths in a day and 1,000 is staggering, real and personal. To the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical.”

The Endemic Mindset (Guinn)

The endemic mindset is the world of abstractions we see under the influence of learned helplessness. There are only so many days in which death or hospitalization counts may still function as information for the human mind. There are only so many descriptions, images or videos of hospitals in the early stages of being overwhelmed which will be able to change anyone’s perspective. There is a point of diminishing informational returns from another story about a lost small business, or a struggling low income family. In the real world, the difference between 1,500 deaths in a day and 1,000 is staggering, real and personal. To the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical. In the real world, the difference between a 60% drop in revenue and a 30% drop in revenue is breathtaking.

To the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical. In the real world, the difference between being out of work for 9 months and being out of work for 4 months may be nearly existential. But if we are not the one affected, to the endemic mindset, they are functionally identical. In short, the endemic mindset is one in which our default expectation is that our world has become permanently worse in a way that we are helpless to do anything about.I don’t think I miss the mark by saying that ALL of us are suffering from this just a little bit.At some point in the last several months, did it start to feel like checking in every few days with elderly neighbors wasn’t really helping? Did it feel like extraordinary support of waitstaff, servers and owners of local businesses demanded much of you and still couldn’t keep them from going under?

Did your capacity to give to local food security charities give way to a recognition that the need never went away? Are you a financial advisor or professional being asked for good advice or wisdom about how to navigate “these challenging times”, and feeling like you ran out of both months ago? Are you a parent forced into remote learning supervision, feeling like you’ve botched it and waiting out the clock to give you a reprieve?Does the choice between standing outside in the cold, six feet apart, mask obscuring any sign of warmth or human emotion, or staying at home for Thanksgiving with the same people you’ve seen day in and day out for 8 months make you want to scream?


In your heart of hearts, do all of those things make it a little bit easier to believe that there’s just maybe nothing we can do that’s really going to take this shock away? That maybe we live our lives and weather all of this as best we can? If you are feeling that a bit – I feel that pull from time to time, too, if it helps – it doesn’t make you bad. It makes you human.

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Listen to the scientists.

65 Virus Cases, With 1 Cluster, In WHO Geneva Staff (AP)

The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its headquarters, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email obtained by The Associated Press shows, despite the agency’s past assertions that there has been no transmission at the Geneva site.The revelation comes amid a surge of cases in Europe, host country Switzerland, and the city of Geneva, in particular, and the email said about half of the infections were in people who had been working from home. But 32 were in staff who had been working on premises at the headquarters building, indicating that the health agency’s strict hygiene, screening and other prevention measures were not sufficient to spare it from the pandemic.

Farah Dakhlallah, a WHO spokeswoman, confirmed the accuracy of the information about the case count in an email to the AP and that officials were still investigating.“We have not yet established whether transmission occurred on campus, but are looking into the matter,” Dakhlallah said. Raul Thomas, who heads business operations at WHO, emailed staff on Friday noting that five people — four on the same team and one who had contact with them— had tested positive for COVID-19. While the email did not use the term “cluster,” one is generally defined as two or more cases in the same area, and the five cases indicate basic infection control and social distancing procedures were likely being broken.


A previous email he sent on Oct. 16 indicated that no clusters had been found at the site. “As per standard protocols, these colleagues are receiving the necessary medical attention and are recovering at home,” the email Friday said. “These last five cases bring the total reported number of affected members of the Geneva based workforce to 65 since the beginning of the pandemic.”

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Zombies.

The Economy is Imploding from Over-Capacity and Corrupt Cartels (CHS)

Here’s the fantasy: if we stop the shutdowns, the economy will naturally bounce back to its oh-so wunnerful perfection of Q3 2019. This is a double-dose of magical thinking and denial. The U.S. economy was unraveling in 2019 from 11 long years of Fed-induced over-capacity in almost everything (except integrity, competition, transparency and social cohesion) and the bone-crushing burden of corrupt, greedy cartels that have the nation by the throat. The reality nobody dares mention is that thanks to 20 years of the Federal Reserve’s easy money, there’s rampant over-capacity everywhere you look: there’s too many cafes, bistros, restaurants, fast-food outlets, hotels, resorts, AirBnBs, unprofitable Tech Unicorns, airline flights, Tech startups, office towers, retail space, malls, absurdly overpriced apartments for rent, storage facilities, delivery services, office sublets, colleges, attorneys, unemployed workers with multiple credentials–the list of too much, too many is endless.


Thanks to the Fed, the most profitable venture was borrowing to increase capacity, then borrow some more to extract the phantom value created by the greater capacity. Nobody cared if the office tower remained mostly empty; the money was made in building it and extracting its “value” via debt, not operating a legitimate enterprise. This Fed-created house of cards was never sustainable, or healthy, as all the incentives to add capacity were perverse. The illusion that every mall, office tower, retail space, college, apartment building, etc. would be filled was only plausible as long as consumers and zombie corporations were borrowing and spending more than they earned. That was never sustainable, but rather than look at the systemic set-up of an insanely predatory, fragile debt bubble resting precariously on over-capacity, the status quo is blaming Covid and lockdowns. The problem isn’t the pin, it’s the bubble that was begging to be popped by something, anything.

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A double edged sword.

Zombification in Europe in Times of Pandemic (Vox.eu)

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted extraordinary financial support to firms by governments and central banks. This support has taken the form of public credit guarantee schemes, debt moratoria, direct support to firms via financial aid programmes, central bank lending and purchase programmes, and a loosening of micro- and macro-prudential supervisory rules. While this support is crucial to keep a cash-strapped economy afloat, it has invigorated a debate on whether such policies are promoting ‘zombie’ lending and ‘zombie’ firms. Zombie lending is generally defined as lending to non-viable (i.e. zombie) firms. The literature proposes different methods to measure zombies, which remains challenging, however.

The ‘zombification’ of the economy refers to a situation where public support programmes and bank lending actions keep unviable firms alive. This term gained widespread prominence following the Japanese crisis of the 1990s, when a collapse in real estate prices followed by a prolonged period of low growth resulted in many weak banks and firms, with weak banks preserving their lending relationships with weak firms, rolling over credits to unviable firms. Why would banks lend to alleged zombie firms? The literature has put forward two main explanations. On the dark side, banks may want to engage in the ‘evergreening’ (i.e. rolling over) of existing loans to avoid loan loss recognition. Recognising loan losses implies a deterioration of capital buffers.


It therefore follows that especially low-capitalised banks have an incentive to lend to zombies. On the bright side, banks may lend to zombies to preserve valuable relationships. To the extent that relationship lenders have an informational advantage over their customers, this may allow them provide credit to illiquid but viable firms in crisis times. Provision of such liquidity to firms in distress has the positive externality that it can avoid disruptions of supply chains.

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“If the economic situation were in the announced expansion, inventories would be falling rapidly when sold.”

Is There Really A China Economic Miracle? (Lacalle)

The year 2020 will be an extremely tough year for the European economy. Added to an unprecedented drop is a strong impact in the fourth quarter due to the new lockdowns. Morgan Stanley estimates that the eurozone’s GDP will fall by 2.2% in the fourth quarter, a 7% drop in the full year 2020. In addition, the investment bank lowers the outlook for 2021 with a rebound of only 5% in the average of the euro area, delaying the recovery of 2019 GDP to 2023. The “jobless recovery” is even more worrying. The apparently spectacular rebound data for the third quarter resulted in zero job creation. Unemployment in the eurozone in September stood at 8.3% and in Spain at 16.5%, not counting the millions of furloughed jobs in Europe.

In this environment, the United States’ recovery seems much stronger. GDP recovered in the third quarter to just 3.5% below 2019 levels. Unemployment has fallen to 6.9% in October but remains well above the record employment levels of 2019. However, the data from China is apparently spectacular. The manufacturing and services index already show an enviable expansion. GDP for the first three quarters is already growing at 0.7% after an expansion of 4.9% in the third quarter. Urban unemployment in China is 5.4% after shooting to a paltry 6%. What is behind the Chinese miracle compared to the poor eurozone?

A planned GDP. The GDP of China is dictated by production, not demand. It is not an observed GDP, but rather planned by the government together with the provinces. For this reason, many analysts scrutinize the data and deduct various factors, including the increase and valuation of inventories. It is not by chance that inventories of iron ore, automobiles and finished goods have risen to the highest level in seven months as the economy recovers. If the economic situation were in the announced expansion, inventories would be falling rapidly when sold.


Much is produced that is then not sold and remains in warehouses. Thus, it is not surprising that industrial prices fell 2.1% in September, export prices 0.9%, and the country’s debt soared 13.5% amid an apparently miraculous recovery. Industrial business profits have fallen 2.4% between January and September and, furthermore, factory door prices fell faster than expected in September and were at risk of deflation. These are signs of a slowly recovering economy, like all others, but not of a growth miracle.

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People flee cities everywhere.

Rents In British Cities Fall By Up To 15% Amid Covid ‘Exodus’ (G.)

Private rents in Britain’s cities have fallen by as much as 15% over the past year as tenants quit urban areas for a new life in the suburbs or the countryside, data shows. What has been described by some an “exodus” from the cities sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic is now pushing up rental costs in rural areas. In October, average rents in the countryside were 5.5% higher than a year earlier, while typical city rents were down by almost exactly the same amount (5.3%), according to figures for Great Britain from the estate agents Hamptons International. This gear change in demand has created a glut of properties in some areas and shortages in others. There were 29% more homes available to rent in cities than at the same time last year, while the number available in the countryside was down sharply – by 48%.


The reassessing of priorities brought on by the pandemic, with millions working from home and many wanting more space, combined with plummeting numbers of international students, is wreaking particular havoc on central London. Hamptons said rents in inner London were down by 14.9% year on year as landlords slashed costs to attract tenants – lopping almost £400 off the average monthly rent, which fell from £2,564 in October 2019 to £2,182 last month. The figures come after a series of surveys suggesting that many city dwellers have either moved out or are planning to do so after re-evaluating their lifestyle. Many are likely to have concluded that they will be able to continue working from home for at least part of the week once the crisis has subsided.

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Cars collecting food in Dallas

 

 

 

 

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Oct 092020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1948

 

Trump Campaign Demands In-Person Debate Against Biden Oct. 15 (F.)
The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story (New Yorker)
John Durham Grand Jury Team Following Deep State Rabbit Hole (sundance)
The 40 Key Russia Documents President Trump Must Still Declassify (JTN)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opposed Packing The Supreme Court (JTN)
The Destruction Of The World Economy By The Central Banks (GNS)
Remdesivir Cuts COVID Recovery By 5 Days, Reduces Risk Of Death By 30% (DM)
New York City Parents Scramble To Deal With New School Closures (R.)
US Auto Suppliers Scramble To Fill Factory Jobs (R.)
An Avalanche Of Bankruptcies Is Coming In The US (Barraud)
NATO Chief Says Allies Will Leave Afghanistan Together (Y!)
A BC Research Project Gave Homeless People $7,500 Each (CBC)

 

 

We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.
– Louise Glück (2020 Nobel Prize for Literature)

 

 

Abolish the CIA

 

 

 

 

The debate is now about having the debate.

Trump Campaign Demands In-Person Debate Against Biden Oct. 15 (F.)

After refusing earlier in the day to participate in the October 15 presidential debate against former Vice President Joe Biden because it had been changed to a virtual format, President Trump’s campaign is now demanding an in-person event, citing his physician’s note that he has completed treatment for Covid-19. Thursday evening, Dr. Sean Conley said in a press release, “I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements” by Saturday. This prompted Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager and one of the many who contracted Covid-19 from the White House, to release a statement claiming there is “no medical reason why the Commission on Presidential Debates should shift the debate to a virtual setting, postpone it or otherwise alter it in any way.”

Following Trump’s refusal to participate in the debate earlier in the day, Biden announced plans to hold a town hall with ABC News on October 15, with both sides agreeing to October 22 as the date for the second presidential debate. The Trump camp earlier said it would hold a rally in place of the debate. Conley’s note drew criticism from experts like Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, who questioned on Twitter the soundness of his assertion that Trump will be safe to engage with the public in two days given that he provided no evidence “that he is not infectious, without viral load data, without providing when/timeline he became infected.”

Much about the White House outbreak is still unknown, but the Biden campaign confirmed that the Trump campaign did not reach out to them about the president’s positive test, despite the two sharing a stage around the time of infection. Stepien claimed that the commission made the decision to move virtually to “shield Biden from another shellacking like he got two weeks ago in Cleveland.” Polls conducted after what was considered one of the worst presidential debates in recent memory due to Trump’s erratic behavior crowned Biden as the victor.

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I spent a lot of time this morning with this. First, the New Yorker story, then lawyer “sundance”‘s complete evisceration of it. Worth your time.

The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story (New Yorker)

Alfa Bank’s principals—Aven, Khan, and a man named Mikhail Fridman—are personally suing Fusion GPS, a research firm in Washington that had hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, to investigate Donald Trump’s relationships in Russia before the 2016 election. The dossier that Steele assembled claimed that Aven and Fridman had been close confidants of Vladimir Putin since he was the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, in the nineteen-nineties, when they sent him “large amounts of illicit cash.” Steele has been criticized for sloppy tradecraft, but much of the information he recorded has been neither proved nor disproved. Aven, Khan, and Fridman say that information in the dossier about the bank and its principals is false and defamatory.

They have sued Steele, as well as Buzzfeed, which first published the dossier. They also served a subpoena on Jones, the investigator, asking for all his correspondence with Fusion. (Alfa Bank has also sought to subpoena Fusion’s executives, in connection with the John Doe lawsuits.) For those defending themselves against the lawsuits, their attorneys’ power of discovery would give them extraordinary access to Alfa Bank’s records. But Aven, Khan, and Fridman claim that they do not control their own documents at the bank and cannot produce them. (Public records show that together they control more than sixty per cent of the bank.) The three men also say that they are not public figures, and are therefore entitled to stronger protections against defamation.

They made a similar argument in a U.S. court two decades ago, and it was thrown out. But the federal judge presiding over their Fusion libel case, Richard Leon, has allowed it so far, and so the suit is likely to drag on—a situation that Aven, Khan, and Fridman can afford more easily than the founders of Fusion can. According to Forbes, the three bankers are believed to have a combined net worth of about thirty billion dollars. “They could spend a million dollars a day on this and not even notice,” the lawyer involved in one of the cases said. The Alfa Bank case has also become an object of interest for federal agents working for John Durham, the prosecutor appointed by Barr. Durham’s agents have summoned some of the same computer scientists to testify before a grand jury, and are asking for the same material that Alfa Bank is seeking. (They’ve asked Jones, the investigator, to testify as well.)

Some agents told scientists that they were exploring a potential criminal charge—presumably against Max and Tea Leaves—for giving false information to the government. A number of those called to testify are seeking to quash the subpoenas, and it’s not apparent that anyone has testified so far. There is no clear evidence that the Justice Department and Alfa Bank are working together, but some people involved in the case noted a striking alignment of purpose. “There’s a heck of a lot of mutual interest,” William Taylor, an attorney for Jones, told me. More troubling is that the cases could aid the Kremlin. Although Aven has disputed reports that he is close to Putin, he told investigators for the Mueller report that he meets with the Russian President quarterly and receives what the report describes as “implicit directives.”

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“That’s where Durham/Aldenberg will ultimately be; and for transparency I have spoken with William Aldenberg about their destination..”

John Durham Grand Jury Team Following Deep State Rabbit Hole (sundance)

A very important article was written yesterday in the New Yorker. While the topic of the article spotlights the ridiculous conspiracy theory surrounding Alfa bank, and the insufferable nonsense about Trump Tower servers having contact -electronic touch signals- with servers from the Russian banking organization, there are aspects to the story that show where the Durham probe has been forced to travel. Within the article –which everyone should read– some names are very important. The article is framed around defending the New Yorker’s previous reporting on the Alfa Bank conspiracy theory, so the intent of the article is defensive. However, the events being described in the article, and more importantly the people being outlined in the article, are accurate. Especially Daniel Jones and his lawyer William Taylor; and the connection of both to Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson.

According to the article there are two parallel efforts underway to untangle the background of how the false Alfa Bank story was originated. One effort is a set of civil lawsuits by the owners of Alfa bank against those who created the fraudulent story that flowed through Fusion GPS, into Chris Steele’s dossier, into the FBI, and ultimately into the Buzzfeed reporting therein. The owners of the bank are taking all of these entities into court and demanding discovery of sources who framed/created the false impression. The second outlined effort is a set of subpoenas for some of the same names to appear before a grand jury being run by the John Durham probe. The witnesses are lawyered-up and attempting to avoid the grand jury subpoenas.

Part of the New Yorker story is constructed around wondering if the Alfa Bank team is working with the Durham team. That is a false narrative created for political deflection only. However, the article outlines factual evidence of the Durham grand jury; and by knowing what issues are being explored we can see -in advance- where this trail is going. Good News Pause: John Durham has a grand jury impaneled and is issuing subpoenas. Instead of me going through the Alfa Bank story, let me just take you though a process of where the Alfa Bank story ends up. That’s where Durham/Aldenberg will ultimately be; and for transparency I have spoken with William Aldenberg about their destination. Note in the New Yorker piece the subjects of the subpoenas and lawsuits are worried about being forced to identify the anonymous sources known as “Max” and “Tea Leaves”.

Additionally the group describes their worry about identifying how the electronic signals between the servers were originally discovered. Let me say up front that is where this story connects to the scandal of intelligence community “contractor” access to the NSA database. The SIGINT or signals intelligence, used to frame the false Alfa Bank story, appears to have come from entities with access to the NSA database who were doing work to assist the overall Trump-Russia narrative construction. Those unlawfully obtained findings were manipulated and unlawfully extracted; then passed along to computer scientists who had the role to provide technical support for the media to use in selling a false story. If this sounds to you like the subject matter expertise and skill of Crowdstrike and Fusion-GPS you would not be missing the target.

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No space for them here, but a pretty complete list from John Solomon. But with just 25 days left, and Wray and Haspel actively frustrating the efforts… What are the odds?

The 40 Key Russia Documents President Trump Must Still Declassify (JTN)

President Trump earlier this week vowed complete and final transparency in the Russia probe, ordering the declassification (without redaction) of all relevant documents that show how the false Russian collusion narrative was created by Hillary Clinton operatives and then investigated for three years by the FBI. With less than four weeks to Election Day 2020, there is little time to complete the mission so that voters can understand the foreign influence, dirty tricks and misconduct that began in the last presidential election and continued for years. So Just the News put together a list of the 40 most important documents yet to be released that would help America understand what really happened and who is most culpable. Most of the documents have been sought by Congress dating all the way back to 2017 and have been withheld from public release, mostly by bureaucrats at the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the FBI under Director Christopher Wray.

Jim Jordan

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“George Washington in 1789 had six,” Shu said, noting that “since 1869 we’ve had nine.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opposed Packing The Supreme Court (JTN)

Attorney and legal commentator John Shu pointed out during an interview on “The Water Cooler” that the recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed the idea of packing the Supreme Court. “Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” Ginsburg said, according to NPR. “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” Roosevelt’s plan would have permitted him to appoint six more judges, enlarging the high court to 15 people, according to the outlet. “If anything would make the court look partisan,” Ginsburg said, according to NPR, “it would be that — one side saying, ‘when we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ “

Shu said that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris’s refusal to answer whether they would add more justices to the current panel shows that they intend to pursue that course of action. “The fact that she is not answering the question seems to me at least to be somewhat of an answer of what her and Biden would do,” host David Brody said. Shu agreed, and said that he believes the pair’s unwillingness to answer “in and of itself is indicative that they hope to do so.” The attorney explained that the Constitution confers on Congress the authority to determine the number of justices on the nation’s high court. “George Washington in 1789 had six,” Shu said, noting that “since 1869 we’ve had nine.”

He said that “if the Democrats succeed in taking the Senate and taking the presidency—I think it’s likely they’ll keep the House—but if the Democrats succeed, I really am afraid for the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. I’m afraid that the Democrats will make the Supreme Court look like a political body, kind of like an extra, super legislature. And the courts are just not designed to do that.”

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First, realize there are no markets. The rest will follow soon after.

The Destruction Of The World Economy By The Central Banks (GNS)

For years, we have been warning about dire consequences if central banks continue to meddle in the economy and financial markets. In December 2013, we wrote: “There is a serious possibility that the measures taken by the central banks have already created a situation in which their actions increase rather than decrease financial instability. This is due to the fact that, if the actual price of an asset does not meet its market–based value, the true level of risk is not properly revealed.” During the “Coronavirus rescue” by the major central banks from March through June of this year, we essentially ran down the clock. No viable paths remain to escape the vicious feedback loop between central banks and financial markets—at least without serious repercussions.

Over the years, central banks have created conditions where prices in capital markets—and by implication, the resulting capital allocation structure—have become distorted to a previously unimaginable degree. This has resulted in three extremely troublesome fragilities at the heart of the world economy. First, it has led to ‘yield hunting’ among investors, who are forced to seek higher yields from riskier financial products. Secondly, it has led to a permanent central bank intervention in the financial markets, because without it a crash would surely occur. Thirdly—and this is something that has received much too little attention—the massive capital misallocations due to unnaturally low interest rates have ‘hollowed-out’ vast sectors of the global economy.

We have been focusing on the fragility of the financial markets frequently lately, so this time we will concentrate on the capital misallocation issue instead, though the two are inherently linked. In March 2019 we devoted the entirety of the Q-Review to explain why global economic growth has sputtered since 2009. We explored, extensively, the concept of creative destruction, which describes the process by which capitalist economies evolve and grow over time. In essence, creative destruction enables the flow of technical innovations into the economy through the destruction of old and inefficient production methods and enterprises, and the emergence of new, more productive firms. Moreover, we wrote that “The risk-and-reward relationship, that is, the gains and failures of the private sector drive economic progress. The first accumulates income and capital, while the second uncovers sustainable businesses, setting the stage for the creative destruction.”

In essence, this is what a capitalist economy is all about. The accumulation of capital is required to provide the funding for sustainable businesses, which provide employment, personal income and tax revenues. Price discovery in the modern capital markets is essential to accurately evaluate the risk-and-reward relationship of both real economic investments as well as those of financial assets. Price discovery thus guides the efficient allocation of capital to its most profitable employment, based on the information gathered by millions of investors. This idea is part of the bedrock of capitalist theory.

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Especially since this is the Daily Mail, please explain how this is not an advertisement.

Remdesivir Cuts COVID Recovery By 5 Days, Reduces Risk Of Death By 30% (DM)

Remdesivir shortens the amount of recovery time from COVID-19 and decreases the risk of death, final results of a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show. Researchers found that the antiviral drug reduced the recovery time for hospitalized coronavirus patients by at least five days. What’s more, the medication was shown to lower the risk of mortality from the virus by as much as 30 percent. Manufactured by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc, remdesivir is the only drug approved for emergency use in the US to treat severely ill coronavirus patients. The team, from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), says the findings not only show how remdesivir can help improve patients’ conditions but also how it may prevent them from developing severe complications.

‘The take home message is this is the first step,’ corresponding author Dr John Beigel, associate director for clinical research in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the NIAID, told DailyMail.com. ‘This is a significant improvement over no treatment..So this is a very important finding, it shows we can treat this, but the work is not done. This is just the first step.’ Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014. It works by blocking an enzyme that helps the coronavirus make copies of itself and, in turn, spread throughout the body. For the final results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the NIAID recruited 1,062 coronavirus patients across North America, Europe and Asia.

A total of 541 patients were assigned to a 29-day course of remdesivir and the remaining 521 patients were given a placebo. The NIAID found that patients on the drug had a 50 percent shorter time to recovery than those on a placebo. Patients in the remdesivir group recovered with a median of 10 days compared to 15 days for those who were given the placebo. It also reduced the length of the hospital stay with a median of 12 days for those on the drug in comparison with 17 days for the control group.

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Main takeaway: the mayor and the Governor keep fighting each other.

New York City Parents Scramble To Deal With New School Closures (R.)

The 6-year-old son of Jodi Cook, a Brooklyn mother of two, had just resumed in-person classes at his local elementary — only to face the closure of his school again as coronavirus cases spiked nearby. Cook said she was disappointed. Last week, public elementary schools in New York City welcomed back students to the classroom as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s blended learning plan after a months-long hiatus. But this week New York officials began imposing fresh restrictions to curb a worrying rise in infections in several ‘hot spots.’ “I’m disappointed because I don’t think that the location of our school really puts us in jeopardy,” Cook, a real estate broker, said on Thursday. “The neighborhood and parents are scrambling.”

The school, in the Windsor Terrace-Kensington area of Brooklyn, is located in a so-called ‘orange zone.’ Schools in those zones have been ordered shut as part of new rules imposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to try to stamp out the virus in several parts of the state, including neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. A group of parents and their children gathered outside the school on Thursday morning to protest, flanked by two local politicians. Its postal code was “not a Covid hotspot & the schools do not meet any of the agreed upon metrics for closing,” New York State Assembly Member Robert Carroll, who attended the protest, wrote in a Twitter post.

The mayor’s plan drew scorn from Cuomo, a fellow Democrat with whom he has often feuded. The governor on Tuesday released new color-coded maps delineating closures, sowing confusion among residents. New York is one of about 30 out of 50 U.S. states where cases have risen over the past two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis. Nationally, both cases and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are rising, hitting record levels in the upper Midwest and West.

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is this because so many workers are home either sick or afraid, or is it because they expect record sales?

US Auto Suppliers Scramble To Fill Factory Jobs (R.)

Millions of U.S. workers have lost their jobs to the pandemic, but in the auto industry, suppliers are scrambling to find enough people to staff production lines, resorting to such approaches as rewards for good attendance and at-work teachers to lure job seekers. At auto parts maker Mobex Global, Chief Executive Joe Perkins said he is boosting pay and offering bonuses to help fill 80 job openings. His engineering and machining company is running more overtime to meet rising demand. “It is the most critical issue in our company,” said Perkins, whose firm has 12 U.S. plants and counts General Motors and Ford among its customers. “We’re using almost 10 staffing companies across the plants,” he told Reuters.


“We’re using multiple jobs boards, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Monster, local news stations, down to lawn signs, local papers, billboards, public transportation, church bulletins, you name it.” The U.S. auto industry usually is the first in and the last out of an economic slump. The coronavirus crisis is different. Demand for new vehicles has rebounded. But fears of catching COVID-19 and problems caring for school-age children are keeping many workers at home, compelling employers to raise pay despite the high national jobless rate, industry executives said. Many suppliers are dealing with absenteeism rates of 10-15%, said Brian Collie, head of Boston Consulting Group’s global auto practice. That has led the United Auto Workers to give the Detroit automakers more latitude on using temporary workers to cover for absent full-time employees, union President Rory Gamble told Reuters.

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An antidote to the auto suppliers story.

An Avalanche Of Bankruptcies Is Coming In The US (Barraud)

U.S. equity markets might be reaching new record highs despite the state of corporates’ health in the U.S. keeps deteriorating. Data compiled by Bloomberg show the Covid-19 pandemic helped fuel the worst third quarter on record for large corporate bankruptcies. In the details, 70 companies with more than $50 million in liabilities sought bankruptcy protection last quarter. That compares to the 76 in the prior quarter. On Monday, Reuters also highlighted “U.S. commercial bankruptcy filings are up 33% so far this year with new cases in September surging by 78% from a year earlier as the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic hits small businesses.” It added that “Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings totaled 747 last month, up from 420 a year earlier and from 525 in August, legal services firm Epiq said in a monthly report.”


In the meantime, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s bankruptcy analysis revealed that “a total of 509 companies have gone bankrupt this year as of Oct. 4, exceeding the number of filings during any comparable period since 2010.” Several proxies, including the number of permanent job losers, confirmed that bankruptcies are on track to spike in the short term. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue in the coming months. According to the latest Fitch report, the “three-year 2020–2022 cumulative US default rate forecasts for term loan (LL) and high-yield (HY) bonds are 17%-20% and 15%-18%, respectively. This forecast compares with the three-year cumulative default rate of 15% for LL and 22% for HY bonds from 2008 to 2010 occurring as a result of the Great Recession.”

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NATO trumps Trump!

NATO Chief Says Allies Will Leave Afghanistan Together (Y!)

NATO insisted Thursday that its members would consult and decide together on when to leave Afghanistan, after US President Donald Trump vowed to bring American troops home by Christmas. Trump, trailing in polls ahead of the November 3 presidential election, made his surprise announcement on Twitter on Wednesday, dramatically speeding up the timeline for ending America’s longest war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated the alliance’s longstanding position that it will end its mission in Afghanistan only when conditions on the ground permit. “We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference after talks with North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.


NATO went into Afghanistan following the 2001 US-led invasion to topple the Taliban in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. It ended its combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014 and has vastly reduced its presence on the ground, but maintains a 12,000-strong force training and advising local forces. Stoltenberg said NATO would only leave Afghanistan when it could do so without the risk of the country once again becoming a haven for militants. “We will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground, because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan, because it is in our interest to preserve the long term security of Afghanistan,” he said. It is not clear whether NATO had any advance warning of Trump’s announcement, though Stoltenberg’s statement that allies would now “consult on the future of the mission” appeared to indicate that it did not.

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But we need to think they are all lazy drunks, or we ourselves will become them!

A BC Research Project Gave Homeless People $7,500 Each (CBC)

The results of a B.C. research project that gave thousands of dollars to homeless people are in and, according to one researcher, could challenge stereotypes about people “living on the margins.” The New Leaf project is a joint study started in 2018 by Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and the University of British Columbia. After giving homeless Lower Mainland residents cash payments of $7,500, researchers checked on them over a year to see how they were faring. All 115 participants, ranging in age between 19 and 64, had been homeless for at least six months and were not struggling with serious substance use or mental health issues.

Of those, 50 people were chosen at random to be given the cash, while the others formed a control group that did not receive any money. “I had no expectations and really high hopes,” said Claire Williams, CEO of Foundations for Social Change, on CBC’s The Early Edition on Tuesday. What researchers found after 12 months, she said, was “beautifully surprising.” Not only did those who received the money spend fewer days homeless than those in the control group, they had also moved into stable housing after an average of three months, compared to those in the control group, who took an average of five months. Those who received the money also managed it well over the course of a year.

“We saw people retain over $1,000 for 12 months, which is remarkable in the Lower Mainland,” said Williams. On average, cash recipients spent 52 per cent of their money on food and rent, 15 per cent on other items such as medications and bills, and 16 per cent on clothes and transportation. Almost 70 per cent of people who received the payments were food secure after one month. In comparison, spending on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs went down, on average, by 39 per cent. Too often people dismiss the idea of giving homeless people money because they assume it will be mismanaged, Williams said. “It challenges stereotypes we have here in the West about how to help people living on the margins,” she said.

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Sep 252020
 


Louis Anquetin Avenue de Clichy 1887

 

Durham, Barr, Jensen and DOJ Production to Sidney Powell (CT)
FBI Analysts Bought Insurance Fearing They’d Be Sued For Flynn Case (JTN)
Brennan Overruled Dissenting Analysts Who Said Russia Favored Hillary (RCI)
FBI Investigated Steele Dossier Source As A Possible Russian Spy In 2010 (DC)
McCabe At Center Of Durham’s Probe, Source A Suspected Russian Agent (SAC)
House Dems Prep Bill To Limit Supreme Court Justice Terms To 18 Years (F.)
Hunger In America, Especially For Children, Has “Skyrocketed” (Int.)
UK, France Break Daily COVID Case Record As Europe Braces For 2nd Wave (F.)
Territorial Reach—The 1961 Amendment That Imperils Assange (Lauria)
Assange a ‘Resilient Man’ Not at Risk of Suicide If Extradited – “Expert” (Sp.)
Assange Hearing Day 17 (Craig Murray)
This Is Lake Trump And It Is In Kosovo (GE)

 

 

40 days before the election, US Attorney Jeff Jensen handed over a pile of documents to Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell yesterday. They are damning for a lot of people at the FBI, CIA and Obama White House. And this can no longer be labeled a politcal move. Powell published the documents right away, something Jensen and Bill Barr couldn’t have done at this point in time. The docs also show that FBI agents even took out insurance in case they would be sued. It may come in handy. Powell will no longer settle for a full exoneration of Flynn, she will go after the people who set him up, and that includes Obama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Rogan interviews Edward Snowden. Long but recommended.

 

 

Taibbi Putin

 

 

An option I wrote down months ago, but I don’t think I ever finished my piece on Sidney Powell: that Bill Barr knew any of his moves would be labeled “(party) political”, but if he handed over files to Sidney Powell, that would not be possible. Or, rather, he even had Jeff Jensen hand them over.

Durham, Barr, Jensen and DOJ Production to Sidney Powell (CT)

The document production by USAO Jeff Jensen to Michael Flynn attorney, Sidney Powell, provides an opportunity for me to share a detached research opinion from my ongoing time outside the wire in the center of the swamp. No matter what open source information is collected; and no matter what evidence congress can assemble; the toxic political environment in DC is the primary driver of DOJ investigative events. It shouldn’t be, but the reality of action reflects an uncomfortable truth. Here’s my opinion on what is happening.

Attorney General Bill Barr is trying to split the baby against two competing narratives. On one hand there is enough evidence to indict former officials for gross abuses of power, falsifying information to a FISA court (violating fourth amendment protections); manipulating investigative effort for political purposes; weaponizing the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. to target political opposition, and then using their positions to cover-up their corrupt and unlawful conduct. On the other hand there is a current highly toxic political environment; consisting of elected politicians and a fully vested branch of government; attempting to cloud the reality that corrupt former government officials worked hand-in-glove with deceitful media, which includes agents of Lawfare, who collaborated in the effort.

This leads to current DC officials and people within those remaining institutions saying: there are delicate balances. In my opinion, in an effort to thread this needle -and considering the timing of the 2020 election- Bill Barr is using the document production from Missouri USAO Jeff Jensen as a backdoor method to provide the information he will not/cannot put forth in a press conference, report or series of indictments. This is why Jensen is providing new information to Michael Flynn s defense attorney Sidney Powell. The U.S. Attorney General knows Powell will make this information public; therefore Powell becomes a conduit to receive significant amounts of evidence previously hidden by the Special Counsel (Weissmann/Mueller) cover-up operation; the “insurance policy” of sorts.


Barr is essentially funneling information through Powell in lieu of a report which would include much of the same evidence. This is just how all indications align. Occam’s razor. Much of the released information has no direct bearing on Flynn *IF* there was going to be an alternate use of the evidence. Bill Barr is splitting the baby.

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“The new AG might have some questions….then yada yada yada…we all get screwed..”

FBI Analysts Bought Insurance Fearing They’d Be Sued For Misconduct in Flynn Case

FBI analysts working on the Michael Flynn Russia investigation originally planned to end the inquiry in fall 2016 and eventually bought liability insurance fearing they could be sued after their bosses continued to keep the investigation open based on “conspiracy theories,” explosive new text messages showed Thursday. “We all went and purchased professional liability insurance,” one analyst texted on Jan. 10, 2017, just 10 days before Trump took office. “Holy crap,” a colleague responded. “All the analysts too?” “Yep,” the first analyst said. “All the folks at the Agency as well.” “Can I ask who are the most likely litigators?” a colleague responded. “As far as potentially suing y’all.”

“Haha, who knows….I think the concern when we got it was that there was a big leak at DOJ and the NYT among others was going to do a piece,” the original analyst texted back. The explosive messages were attached to a new filing by Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, who argued to the court that is considering dismissing her client’s guilty plea that the emails show “stunning government misconduct” and “wrongful prosecution.” A hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday. “There was no case against General Flynn,” Powell wrote in the new motion. “There was no crime. The FBI and the prosecutors knew that. This American hero and his entire family have suffered for four years from public abuse, slander, libel, and all means of defamation at the hands of the very government he pledged his life to defend.”


The new FBI evidence was turned over late Wednesday and included a stunning revelation that FBI agents originally planned to close Flynn’s probe, known as Crossfire Razor, on Nov. 8, 2016, nearly a year before he was charged with lying to the FBI. “He said shut down Razor” and “so glad they’re closing Razor,” an FBI official texted that day. “However [redacted] was silent though, so who knows what he will want.” By January, the FBI analysts were alarmed that their agency was engaged in misconduct that could be discovered by President Trump’s new attorney general. “The new AG might have some questions….then yada yada yada…we all get screwed,” one official wrote.

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But how do you prosecute him? Also a job for Sidney Powell?

Brennan Overruled Dissenting Analysts Who Said Russia Favored Hillary (RCI)

Former CIA Director John Brennan personally edited a crucial section of the intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and assigned a political ally to take a lead role in writing it after career analysts disputed Brennan’s take that Russian leader Vladimir Putin intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump clinch the White House, according to two senior U.S. intelligence officials who have seen classified materials detailing Brennan’s role in drafting the document. The explosive conclusion Brennan inserted into the report was used to help justify continuing the Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation, which had been launched by the FBI in 2016. It was picked up after the election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who in the end found no proof that Trump or his campaign conspired with Moscow.

The Obama administration publicly released a declassified version of the report — known as the “Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent Elections (ICA)” — just two weeks before Trump took office, casting a cloud of suspicion over his presidency. Democrats and national media have cited the report to suggest Russia influenced the 2016 outcome and warn that Putin is likely meddling again to reelect Trump. The ICA is a key focus of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing investigation into the origins of the “collusion” probe. He wants to know if the intelligence findings were juiced for political purposes.


[..] The two officials said Brennan, who openly supported Clinton during the campaign, excluded conflicting evidence about Putin’s motives from the report, despite objections from some intelligence analysts who argued Putin counted on Clinton winning the election and viewed Trump as a “wild card.” The dissenting analysts found that Moscow preferred Clinton because it judged she would work with its leaders, whereas it worried Trump would be too unpredictable. As secretary of state, Clinton tried to “reset” relations with Moscow to move them to a more positive and cooperative stage, while Trump campaigned on expanding the U.S. military, which Moscow perceived as a threat.

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So you have the CIA involved -Brennan- and cooperating with the FBI. They had Danchenko in their sights as early as 2005. Did they introduce him to Steele?

FBI Investigated Steele Dossier Source As A Possible Russian Spy In 2010 (DC)

The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation on the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele, and considered obtaining a warrant to wiretap him in 2010, according to a document released Thursday. The FBI was also aware of the information about the source, identified elsewhere as Igor Danchenko, by December 2016, according to the document. “This is the most stunning and damning revelation the committee has uncovered,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement after releasing an FBI memo about the dossier source. The document shows that the FBI considered a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant of Danchenko years before the bureau relied heavily on information that he had provided Steele, a former British spy, to obtain FISAs against Carter Page.

Danchenko is not named in the memo, though is attorney has confirmed to reporters that the Russian national was Steele’s source. The information also could increase concerns that Russian disinformation was fed to Steele, a former MI6 officer who investigated the Trump campaign on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC. A Justice Department inspector general’s report released Dec. 9 said that the FBI received evidence in January and February 2017 that Russian intelligence officers may have fed false information into Steele’s network of sources. Footnotes from the IG report say that two Russian intelligence officers knew in July 2016 that Steele was investigating the Trump campaign.


According to the FBI document, Danchenko had contact with suspected Russian intelligence officers in Washington, D.C. in 2005 and 2006. The document says that the FBI had an investigation into Danchenko open from May 2009 to March 2011, based on an interaction he allegedly had with three employees of an American think tank. Danchenko worked at the time as a Russia analyst for the Brookings Institution, a prominent liberal foreign policy think tank. An employee of the think tank said that another employee, seemingly Danchenko, told others that if they got jobs in the government and obtained classified security clearances, they might be put them in touch with people so they could “make a little extra money.” “The coworker did express suspicion of the employee and had questioned the possibility that the employee might actually be a Russian spy,” the FBI memo says.

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“…were contacted last week by the DOJ and were warned that a “shit storm was heading their way.”..”

McCabe At Center Of Durham’s Probe, Source A Suspected Russian Agent (SAC)

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham hinted more than a week ago that more bombshell information regarding the FBI’s handling of its probe into President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia was about to be public. He was right because it was Graham’s committee that discovered the information. A letter released Thursday night by Graham’s committee from Justice Department Attorney General William Barr revealed a declassified summary from the bureau indicating that former British spy Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source in his debunked dossier was believed to be a Russian spy. Not only was the sub source believed to be a spy but the FBI knew about it and had conducted a counterintelligence investigation on the individual.

“In light of this newly declassified information, I will be sending the FISA Court the information provided to inform them how wide and deep the effort to conceal exculpatory information regarding the Carter Page warrant application was in 2016 and 2017,” said Graham. “A small group of individuals in the Department of Justice and FBI should be held accountable for this fraud against the court. I do not believe they represent the overwhelming majority of patriotic men and women who work at the Department of Justice and FBI.” One of those individuals being investigated by Connecticut Prosecutor John Durham is former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired from the FBI by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for lying to the Inspector General on multiple occasions.

He is now in Durham’s crosshairs, along with multiple other former senior FBI officials that were involved in the investigation, according to a source with direct knowledge. McCabe, along with other FBI officials, withheld that information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as well as some of the FBI special agents investigating Trump’s campaign and its alleged ties to Russia, according to the source. “McCabe and others were suppressing information, misrepresenting it or lying about the information that they had in order to purposefully undermine the Trump candidacy and that turned into the predication for undermining the Trump presidency,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation.


The source, who is familiar with the ongoings of the senior brass at the FBI, told this reporter the FBI Director Christopher Wray, along with Deputy Director David Bowdich, were contacted last week by the DOJ and were warned that a “shit storm was heading their way.” The source alleged that McCabe is now a central figure in Durham’s investigation, along with several other senior FBI officials who were aware of the information but failed to disclose it.

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Everyone’s first reaction: They should limit their own terms.

House Dems Prep Bill To Limit Supreme Court Justice Terms To 18 Years (F.)

Democrats in the House of Representatives will reportedly introduce a bill next week to limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices to 18 years as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death puts a spotlight on the partisan fight over vacancies. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Ca.), Joe Kennedy III (D-Ma.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) said they plan to introduce the Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act on Tuesday, Khanna told Reuters. “It would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues and is one of the primary things tearing at our social fabric,” said Khanna. The bill would limit each president to nominating two justices per four-year term, per Reuters which said it obtained a copy.

It would be the first legislation to set Supreme Court term limits by statute, according to Gabe Roth, the executive director of the judicial advocacy group Fix the Court, who notes Ginsburg’s death has brought more attention to the idea of term limits for the justices, who currently have lifetime appointments, with legal scholars and politicians from both sides of the aisle weighing in with potential proposals. [..] A 77% majority of Americans favor restrictions on the tenure of Supreme Court justices while 23% are against it, according to a recent PBS survey commissioned by Fix the Court.


The survey found that 70% of Republicans, 72% of Democrats and 68% of Independents found the statement, “No one with a position as powerful as Supreme Court justice should serve for life,” either “somewhat” or “very” persuasive. It also found that 70% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats and 68% of Independents were somewhat or very persuaded by the argument that, “Vacancies on the Supreme Court often occur unexpectedly and sporadically; term limits will make it so that vacancies are routine, which will reduce the political gamesmanship around them.”

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But bankers and “investors” are fine.

Hunger In America, Especially For Children, Has “Skyrocketed” (Int.)

The level of hunger in U.S. households almost tripled between 2019 and August of this year, according to an analysis of new data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture. Even more alarming, the proportion of American children who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now as much as 14 times higher than it was last year. The Agriculture Department conducts yearly studies on food insecurity in the U.S., with its report on 2019 released this month. The Census Bureau began frequent household surveys in April in response to Covid-19 that include questions about hunger.

The analysis, by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that 3.7 percent of U.S. households reported they sometimes or often had “not enough to eat” during 2019. Meanwhile, the most recent Census data from the end of August of this year showed that 10 percent of households said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat within the past seven days. Levels of food insecurity in Black and Latino households are significantly higher, at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent in white households. Even worse, while about 1 percent of adults with children said their children sometimes or often went hungry in 2019, between 9 and 14 percent of such adults said the same about their kids in August 2020.


CBPP estimates that this adds up to about 5 million school-aged children in such households. “What I see every day from the pandemic is amazingly-increased numbers of severely underweight children coming to our clinic, and parents really panicked about how they’re going to find enough food,” says Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. [..] The increase in hunger among children is particularly disturbing, for several reasons. Generally, explains Dottie Rosenbaum, another CBPP expert, “parents shield their children.” Sandel says that “parents are reporting to me sometimes at mealtime going back into the kitchen so the kids don’t notice that they are not eating themselves.” So when children are going hungry, there is little food for anyone.

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Greece is preparing military and private hospitals for a patient influx. But tourists from countries like France and Holland, which have huge increases in cases, are still welcome.

UK, France Break Daily COVID Case Record As Europe Braces For 2nd Wave (F.)

Both the United Kingdom and France counted record-breaking new daily coronavirus infections Thursday, and while officials partly credit an increased testing capacity, the numbers point toward a possible second coronavirus wave sweeping across Europe. The U.K. reported a record of 6,634 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the highest number recorded by the country, even before its nationwide lockdown. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News the situation is not as dire as during the peak of the pandemic, when the government estimates that as many as 100,000 people were being infected with the virus per day, though lower testing rates at the time mean the daily infection figures from that period don’t reflect the virus’ true spread.

“Now we estimate that it’s under 10,000 people a day getting the disease,” Hancock said. “That’s too high, but it’s still much lower than in the peak.” Just across the English Channel, France also counted a record-breaking 16,096 new daily cases Thursday, the fourth time the record has been broken in just the past week or so. The news comes just after new coronavirus crackdowns were placed on cities like Paris, Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lyon to help damper a resurgence of new cases after the nationwide lockdown was scaled back. Like in the U.K., French officials say improved testing has meant more infections are being detected and recorded, though the country has seen a worrying trend of increased hospitalizations—the number of coronavirus patients in Paris’ hospitals has doubled over the past few weeks and will likely increase nearly twofold again before October, a Parisian hospital system official told Agence France-Presse.

“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,“ the European director of the World Health Organization Hans Kluge said last week according to the BBC, when daily new cases began to rival the pandemic’s peak in spring. Kluge added that those numbers “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.” European countries, some of the hardest hit early on in the coronavirus pandemic, were hailed as a model for the rest of the world after their governments enacted strict, nationwide lockdowns that drastically decreased the number of new coronavirus cases. However, many of those successful countries have reported a resurgence of cases in recent months after emerging from lockdown and gradually returning to a more normal life.


Countries like Spain, France, the U.K., The Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, France and the Netherlands have all counted jumps in cases. The surges of new infections—though not considered as serious as the situation in spring, the peak of the pandemic in Europe—has led to new, often localized crackdowns in a bid to keep new cases at bay. The spikes across the continent have been blamed on young people shunning social distancing guidelines and attending parties after long months of isolation and people going on holiday despite travel warnings. While the European resurgence of the virus is concerning, it is still nowhere near the devastation seen in countries like the United States, which counted its 200,000th coronavirus death this week.

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Should have been banned right there and then.

Territorial Reach—The 1961 Amendment That Imperils Assange (Lauria)

If the original 1917 Espionage Act were still in force, the U.S. government could not have charged WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange under it. The 1917 language of the Act restricted the territory where it could be applied to the United States, its possessions and international waters: “The provisions of this title shall extend to all Territories, possessions, and places subject to the jurisdiction of the United States whether or not continguous thereto, and offenses under this title when committed upon the high seas or elsewhere within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States …” WikiLeaks publishing operations have never occurred in any of these places. But in 1961 Congressman Richard Poff, after several tries, was able to get the Senate t0 repeal Section 791 that restricted the Act to “within the jurisdiction of the United States, on the high seas, and within the United States.”

Poff was motivated by the case of Irvin Chambers Scarbeck, a State Department official who was convicted under a different statute, the controversial 1950 Subversive Activities Control Act, or McCarran Act, of passing classified information to the Polish government during the Cold War. (Congress overrode a veto by President Harry Truman of the McCarran Act. He called the Act “the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798,” a “mockery of the Bill of Rights” and a “long step toward totalitarianism.” Most of its provisions have been repealed.) Polish security agents had burst into a bedroom in 1959 to photograph Scarbeck in bed with a woman who was not his wife. Showing him the photos, the Polish agents blackmailed Scarbeck: turn over classified documents from the U.S. embassy or the photos would be published and his life ruined. Adultery was seen differently in that era.


Scarbeck then removed the documents from the embassy, which is U.S. territory covered by Espionage Act, and turned them over to the agents on Polish territory, which at the time was not. Scarbeck was found out, fired, and convicted, but he could not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act because of its then territorial limitations. That set Congressman Poff off on a one-man campaign to extend the reach of the Espionage Act to the entire globe. After three votes the amendment was passed. The Espionage Act thus became global, ensnaring anyone anywhere in the world into the web of U.S. jurisdiction. After the precedent being set by the Assange prosecution, it means that any journalist, anywhere in the world, who publishes national defense information is not safe from an Espionage Act prosecution.

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He had not even evaluated Julian.

Assange a ‘Resilient Man’ Not at Risk of Suicide If Extradited – “Expert” (Sp.)

A psychiatrist testifying for the government says that whilst the WikiLeaks publisher is suffering from mild clinical depression he does not think he is a suicide risk if he is extradited to the United States to face espionage charges. A psychiatrist testifying for the US government in the extradition case of Julian Assange told the Old Bailey on 24 September 2020 that in his assessment the WikiLeaks publisher “would be able to resist any suicidal impulse” were he to be sent to the United States. During the examination-in-chief conducted by James Lewis QC, for the prosecution, Dr Nigel Blackwood, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist with the NHS, explained that he saw Mr Assange in April 2020, in Belmarsh maximum-security prison. The doctor thought Mr Assange was “moderately depressed”, in the clinical sense, though a review of his most recent medical records from Belmarsh leads him to believe that there is some improvement of his state of mind.

Dr Blackwood did not think Mr Assange suffered from a “severe depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms” in November 2019, though he had not himself evaluated Mr Assange at that time and relied in his assessment on other observations made by the prison staff. The doctor, who consults with inmates at Wandsworth prison, notes some risk of suicide but that risk has been very carefully managed in Belmarsh, and the publisher engages closely with treatments to manage that risk. He believes Mr Assange retains the capacity to resist suicide, the court heard. Dr Blackwood says that he disputes that Mr Assange “was at the very severest end of the spectrum” and complains that Professor Michael Kopelman, a defence expert, “did not recognise” that if the treating physician at Belmarsh would have been bound to refer Mr Assange to a secure unit and that that did not occur.


Defence experts told the court earlier in the week that that they believed the risk that Mr Assange may commit suicide if extradited is “high” or even “very high”. Dr Blackwood explained that a person’s description of their own mood and mental state “will definitely be coloured” by their personality and own perspective. He thinks Mr Assange may have had a self-dramatising or hyperbolic approach to describing the symptoms and insisted that one must look very clearly at the psychological records Dr Blackwood also told the court that he has “anxieties” about making an autism diagnosis in a 49-year-old man where there has been no such diagnosis historically, despite Mr Assange’s contact with the medical community earlier in his life.

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“..three psychiatrists and a physician with extensive experience of treating trauma have all testified in court that Assange’s mental and physical condition deteriorated while he was in “healthcare” for several months. ..”

Assange Hearing Day 17 (Craig Murray)

During the hearing of medical evidence the last three days, the British government has been caught twice directly telling important lies about events in Belmarsh prison, each lie proven by documentary evidence. The common factor has been the medical records kept by Dr Daly, head of the jail’s medical services. There has also been, to put it at its very lightest, one apparent misrepresentation by Dr Daly. [..] This is Mr Kemp’s description of the medical wing at Belmarsh: “Security is on another level here with six times more staff per inmate than the rest of the jail.” While in the medical wing or “healthcare”, Julian Assange was in effect in solitary confinement, and three psychiatrists and a physician with extensive experience of treating trauma have all testified in court that Assange’s mental and physical condition deteriorated while he was in “healthcare” for several months.

They also said he improved after he left “healthcare”. That says something profound about the “healthcare” being provided. The same doctors testified that Assange has a poor relationship with Dr Daly and will not confide his symptoms or feelings to her, and this has also been asserted by defence council. That is all essential background to the lies. Now let me come to the lies. Unfortunately to do so I must reveal details of Julian’s medical condition which I had withheld, but I think the situation is so serious I must now do that. I did not report that Professor Michael Kopelman gave evidence that, among other preparations for suicide, Julian Assange had hidden a razor blade in his folded underwear, but this had been discovered in a search of his cell.

As I did report, Kopelman was subjected to an extremely aggressive cross-examination by James Lewis, which in the morning had focused on the notion that Julian Assange’s mental illness was simply malingering, and that Kopelman had failed to detect this. The razor blade was a key factor in Lewis’s browbeating of Kopelman, and he attacked him on it again and again and again. [..] In an attempt to humiliate Kopelman, Lewis said “You say you do not rely on the razor blade for your diagnosis. But you do rely on it. Let us then look at your report. You rely on the razor blade at paragraph 8. You mention it again at paragraph 11a. Then 11c. Then paragraph 14, paragraph 16, 17b, 18a. Then we come to the next section and the razor blade is there at paragraph 27 and 28. Then again in the summary it is at paragraphs 36 and again at paragraph 38. So tell me Professor, how can you say that you do not rely on the razor blade?” [I do not give the actual paragraph numbers; these are illustrative].


Lewis then went on to invite Kopelman to change his diagnosis. He asked him more than once if his diagnosis would be different if there was no razor blade and it were an invention by Assange. Kopelman was plainly unnerved by this attack. He agreed it was “very odd indeed” it was not mentioned in the medical notes if it were true. The plain attack that he had naively believed an obvious lie disconcerted Kopelman. Except it was Lewis who was not telling the truth. There really was a concealed razor blade, and what Assange had told Kopelman, and what Kopelman had believed, was true in every single detail. In a scene straight out of a TV legal drama, during Kopelman’s testimony, the defence had managed to obtain the charge sheet from Belmarsh Prison – Assange had been charged with the offence of the razor blade. The charge sheet is dated 09.00 on 7 May 2019

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Ha ha! In gold letters please!

This Is Lake Trump And It Is In Kosovo (GE)

It all started as an idea to relax negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia delegations, but the idea to name the Gazivoda/Ujman Lake “Lake Trump” as seen in the photo seems more serious than initially thought. An idea that started as a joke for the Ujman Lake, which Serbs refer to as Gazivoda, to find a compromise name seems to be taking shape. During the negotiations at the White House, the US Presidential envoy for the dialogue, Richard Grenell, gave the idea to name the lake after Trump. Initially everybody laughed with the idea. But not today. Gazeta Express has learned that Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti expressed his readiness to support Grenell’s idea at a meeting with him.


The same idea was endorsed also by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at another meeting. The debate, and later the Agreement, about Ujman Lake have triggered a wave of reactions in Kosovo. Kosovo has reached an agreement with the US for the State Department to carry out a feasibility study on how to share the lake’s resources. The Ujman/Gazivoda Lake is mostly located in Kosovo’s territory but almost 20 percent of it is part of Serbia’s territory. This artificial lake was accumulated decades ago by the “Iber Lepenci” company, back when Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia. After the end of the war in 1999, there was a lot of tension caused about the lake as Kosovo considers it as its own property, while Serbia claims its ownership since part of it is in Serbia.

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Sep 092020
 
 September 9, 2020  Posted by at 9:29 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Pablo Picasso The Dream 1932

 

Assange Legal Team Focuses On US Torture And War Crimes (Gosztola)
Politics and Violence Go Hand in Hand (Knapp)
Scott Adams: Trump Is The Most Successful Stand-Up Comic Ever (RCP)
Biden Loses His Florida Lead As Latino Voters Shift To Trump (Week)
Docs Show Former Officials “In Real Trouble” In Durham Probe – Meadows (ET)
Vindman, Not Whistleblower, Was Driving Force Behind Impeachment (Fed.)
On-the-Record Sources, Paper Trail Rebut Anonymous Atlantic Claims (JTN)
AstraZeneca COVID19 Vaccine Trial Put On Hold Due To Adverse Reaction (STAT)
England To Ban Gatherings Of More Than 6 People As Coronavirus Cases Spike (AP)
Britons Scrambling To Get Back Home From Greek Islands On UK Red List (K.)
Netherlands Puts All Greek Islands On Orange Travel List (K.)
35 Migrants In Moria Found Positive For Coronavirus (K.)
1,000s Flee Fire At Moria Migrant Camp On Virus Lockdown In Greece (K.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CNN’s Zucker wanted to give Trump a show

 

 

“Lewis insisted the U.S. government only charged Assange with documents that revealed the names of informants..”

Assange personally redacted out 10,000 names in one night after the journalists at the Guardian etc. refused to do it. He’s the only one who cared.

Assange Legal Team Focuses On US Torture And War Crimes (Gosztola)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team spent the second morning of a major extradition hearing focusing a magistrate court judge’s attention on United States torture and war crimes that Assange helped to expose. Defense attorney Mark Summers called Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights attorney who has represented prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to the witness stand. He was asked about human rights cases he pursued, which were bolstered by revelations in documents WikiLeaks published. For example, Stafford Smith told Judge Vanessa Baraitser that U.S. State Department cables helped those impacted by U.S. drone killings in Pakistan. It contributed to “court findings that US drone strikes are criminal offenses and that criminal proceedings should be initiated against senior U.S. officials involved in such strikes.”

A high court in Pakistan ruled “drone strikes carried out by the CIA and U.S. authorities were a ‘blatant violation of basic human rights’ including ‘a blatant breach of the absolute right to life’ and ‘a war crime,’” Stafford Smith declared in a statement to the court. Due to the decision, drone strikes that caused many “innocent deaths” stopped “very rapidly.” None were reported in 2019. The defense had Stafford Smith testify in order to persuade the court that Assange “disclosed U.S. involvement in criminal activity.” Specifically, these were “public interest disclosures” of war crimes and torture. Some of the publications are currently the subject of a criminal investigation into the CIA that is before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In other words, the prosecution against Assange is retaliation for bringing increased scrutiny to U.S. actions throughout the world.

But James Lewis, the lawyer representing the Crown Prosecution Authority on behalf of the U.S. government, was irritated by the defense’s focus on documents that exposed torture and war crimes. Lewis insisted the U.S. government only charged Assange with documents that revealed the names of informants, and none of the materials Stafford Smith was asked about mattered in the extradition case. [..]

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Word. But not sure I would say Power Corrupts. I think the people seeking power are already mentally corrupted.

Politics and Violence Go Hand in Hand (Knapp)

“[W]e currently have an inferno of political violence to which the president of the United States adds fuel,” Jennifer Rubin thunders from her bully pulpit at the Washington Post. “[I]t is time for bipartisan voices, local and state leaders, police and other first responders, civic and religious leaders, and all responsible media outlets to try to quench the flames of violence.” Rubin is no lone voice in the wilderness. As America’s latest long hot summer drags into autumn, politicians and pundits are getting louder and more shrill in their denunciations of political violence. Considering the sources, those denunciations smack of hypocrisy. In another Post column published the very same day as her rant against political violence, Rubin tells us US Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) should be “revered and thanked for her courage and service to the country.”

Duckworth lost her legs co-piloting a helicopter during the US occupation of Iraq. That is, engaging in unambiguously political violence on behalf of the US government. Rubin denounces political violence out of one side of her mouth while lionizing it out of the other. Politics as we know it today is entirely based on violence and the threat of violence. That’s most obvious in the case of war, in which governments settle their political conflicts by sending forth their armed servants in large numbers to murder one another (and anyone else with the bad luck to get in the way), but don’t be fooled: Every government edict, at home and abroad, is backed by the credible threat of violence.

According to the Declaration of Independence, government exists to protect our rights. It may only legitimately use force to do so, and to bring to justice those who violate those rights. If government accomplished that mission and went no further, it might be an acceptable, even worthwhile institution. But it doesn’t accomplish that mission very well, and it inevitably turns the inch it’s given into miles. Why? Because the problem with power, as Lord Acton noted, is that it corrupts. Governments, and those who run and rely on them, always turn from the task of protecting our rights to increasing their power. At the far, not always visible, end of every government demand — a speed limit, a tax code, a drug prohibition, what have you — stand men and women with guns, waiting to cage or kill you for non-compliance or defiance.

As for democracy, as currently practiced it’s merely a contest to see who gives armed enforcers their marching orders. America’s two “major” political parties don’t want to end political violence; they merely want control of those they deem its “legitimate” combatants. The present conflagration — marches in the streets, clashes between protesters and police, cities on fire — shouldn’t surprise us. Sometimes the state’s victims fight back. And then the state pours on even more force, because that’s its nature. It’s a cycle that can only be broken by abolishing the state itself. Which means that only anarchists enjoy moral standing to denounce political violence.

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“We’ve decided to call all our rallies peaceful protests.”

 

 

Scott has his own way of looking at things. Is he that far off here?

Scott Adams: Trump Is The Most Successful Stand-Up Comic Ever (RCP)

During Monday morning’s “Coffee With Scott Adams” podcast, the comedian and ‘Dilbert’ creator again discussed Joe Biden’s repeated references to what Adams calls the “fine people in Charlottesville” race hoax. Last week, Adams extensively explained how a simple edited video has convinced tens of millions of people that President Trump ever praised members of hate groups after the deadly clash in Charlottesville 2017. This week, he compared the “fine people” hoax to the newest outrage about the president, The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg’s “anonymous source” alleging that the president insulted those buried in an American war cemetery during a visit to France in 2018.

According to Adams, the common thread between why so many people believe these claims to be true without any evidence (or even in the face of counterevidence) could be that they simply have no sense of humor. People hate the president so much because they literally can’t recognize the difference between an off-color joke and violent hate speech. Adams described a conversation he had on Twitter with an actress who said she believed the claims in Goldberg’s article because of the joke Trump made in 2015 about John McCain not being a war hero because he was “captured.” “This is typical Trump, he is a dumb, hate-filled liar and misogynist!” Scott’s Twitter correspondent said. “When I saw that I commented back [that] Trump told a Chris Rock joke about McCain because Chris Rock actually did that same joke before Trump did,” Adams replied.

“And then I said, you literally want to overthrow the government because you don’t recognize a joke. That’s actually what happened, this is someone who wants to get rid of Trump at any cost in part because she doesn’t recognize a joke. So, I said maybe the problem’s on your end.” She responded: “B.S. Circus with Trump’s trained Monkeys defending his stupidities. What’s wrong with you people? Who cares if Chris Rock made a joke?” “See where this is going?” Scott asked, holding back a laugh. “She has now acknowledged that the president told a joke. She did not know until I explained it that it was a joke. So now she has to change her objection from being a horrible thing he said, to ‘Yeah, it was a joke but it was still horrible, and here’s why.'” She responded: “A president must know better than to say something like that! There are better things to quote as president, how do you fall for this crap?”

“Now, she also said earlier that Trump had no sense of humor, therefore it couldn’t be a joke. To which I pointed out that he is the most successful stand-up comedian in the history of humanity. His rallies with gigantic audiences are literally stand-up comedy. He does it to entertain. He literally says funny things and his audience laughs. And they go because he will say funny things that will make them laugh. He’s literally the most successful stand-up comedian in the history of civilization if you look at the numbers of people who go in person,” Adams revealed. “You have to admit the reason the crowd is so big is because he brings entertainment and humor.”

Chris Rock

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Uh-oh.

Biden Loses His Florida Lead As Latino Voters Shift To Trump (Week)

The sun may be setting on Democrats’ hopes of picking up Florida. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has seemingly lost his advantage over President Trump in the crucial swing state of Florida, an NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday found. A lot of that shift seemingly stems from Florida’s Latino voters, who have gone from resoundingly supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 to actually tipping in Trump’s favor this time around, the poll showed. Less than two months before election day, Biden and Trump are tied in Florida with 48 percent support among likely Florida voters. Biden had previously pulled as much as a 13-point lead over Trump in Florida. That dip comes as a majority of Latino respondents say they’re voting for Trump over Biden, 50-46 percent; Latino voters went for Clinton 62-35 in 2016.


A poll from the Miami Herald and Bendixen & Amandi International backed up NBC News’ findings, at least in Miami-Dade County. Biden still has a strong advantage, 55-38 percent, in the heavily Democratic part of the state, the Tuesday poll found. But it’s not the best news considering Clinton won that county by 30 points in 2016 and still lost the state by 1.2 points. In addition, the Miami Herald poll found Trump and Biden are splitting Hispanic voters, 47-46, though there’s a larger margin of error among that smaller subset. NBC News/Marist surveyed 766 likely Florida voters from Aug. 31–Sept. 6, with a 4.5 percentage point margin of error. The Miami Herald poll surveyed 500 likely Miami-Dade voters from Sept. 1–4, with a margin of error of 4.4 points.

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Wonder if the Durham report will ever come out.

Docs Show Former Officials “In Real Trouble” In Durham Probe – Meadows (ET)

Newly reviewed documents show that former FBI agent Peter Strzok and other officials involved in the counter-intelligence probe against Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign are in trouble, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said. U.S. Attorney John Durham is reviewing the origins of that investigation and landed his first guilty plea last month. While he doesn’t have visibility into the timeline of Durham’s probe, Meadows said he’s reviewed additional documents that “say that a number of the players, the Peter Strzoks, the Andy McCabes, the James Comeys – and even others in the administration previously – are in real trouble because of their willingness to participate in an unlawful act.”

“And I use the word unlawful at best, it broke all kinds of protocols and at worst people should go to jail as I mentioned previously,” Meadows said during a virtual appearance on Fox Business’ “Mornings With Maria” on Monday. Strzok, McCabe, and Comey are former high-level FBI officials. Strzok, best known for exchanging biased text messages about Trump with an FBI lawyer he was having an affair with, was fired by FBI officials in 2018. The former agent sat down for an interview with CBS that ran over the weekend. He insisted that the counter-intelligence probe, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, was opened on a legitimate basis. Meadows said it was easy for Strzok to make claims when not under oath.

“In all of his interview, I can tell you this: It’s not backed up by the facts. It’s not backed up by documents that I’ve seen. And ultimately his house of cards will come falling down,” Meadows said. The facts that have come out show that officials treated Trump “very differently, in an inappropriate way, and they must be held accountable,” he added. Durham’s criminal investigation is being kept under tight wraps, prompting much speculation about when another development will come, or even if any other people will be charged. Trey Gowdy, a Fox News contributor who used to serve in the House of Representatives, said over the weekend that there’s concern that Durham “is dragging his feet.” Durham, he said, “is going to access documents that the FBI never shared with Congress and he’ll write the definitive accounting of what happened.”

“Whether or not there’ll be more indictments or not, I don’t know and I like to assume that there will not be,” he said, adding: “That puts me in a small minority, but I’m assuming that the Clinesmith indictment will be the only one.” Kevin Clinesmith recently pleaded guilty to altering an email to say Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, was not a CIA asset when the CIA had said the exact opposite. The altered email was used to obtain spy warrants against Page, enabling the FBI to conduct surveillance against Page and people he was linked to in the future and past. Meadows, meanwhile, said Trump supports the declassification of all documents, along with full transparency. “He has nothing to hide,” he said.

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New book. Vindman was the whistleblower, but nobody knew it. That allowed him to be a witness – twice.

Vindman, Not Whistleblower, Was Driving Force Behind Impeachment (Fed.)

The most interesting thing about Byron York’s exhaustively reported and richly detailed new impeachment book, “Obsession: Inside the Washington Establishment’s Never-Ending War on Trump,” is that the whistleblower who filed the official complaint that got impeachment rolling isn’t ever identified. It turns out that the heated discussion over the whistleblower, who was previously identified by Real Clear Investigations as the CIA’s Eric Ciaramella, was a diversion from allowing the American people to understand who was the actual instigator of the failed effort to oust President Donald Trump from office.

Rather than being a witness who independently supported the claims of the whistleblower, the National Security Council’s Lt. Col Alex Vindman was the driving force behind the entire operation, according to the book’s interviews with key figures in the impeachment probe and other evidence. The whistleblower’s information came directly from Vindman, investigators determined. “Vindman was the person on the call who went to the whistleblower after the call, to give the whistleblower the information he needed to file his complaint,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. “For all intents and purposes, Vindman is the whistleblower here, but he was able to get somebody else to do his dirty work for him,” explained one senior congressional aide.

[..] In his complaint, the whistleblower claimed “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call” described to him the contents of the conversation. It is unclear if he was sourcing his knowledge just to multiple Vindmans or any other White House officials. The description of the call appeared to come from the White House’s rough transcript, which Vindman helped prepare. It repeated Vindman’s unique interpretation of the call as seeking foreign interference in a campaign. It mentioned that lawyers had been informed, and Vindman had done just that. The complaint also included information from public news reports.

At first Schiff publicly promised that the whistleblower would testify and that any attempt by the White House to thwart that would be fought vigorously. But then news broke that Schiff’s office had worked with the whistleblower prior to him filing his complaint. Schiff switched his stance to refusing to allow the whistleblower to testify. What’s more, he refused to allow any investigation into how the Ukraine investigation began. [..] Vindman repeatedly said that he viewed Trump’s phone call with Zelensky as “wrong,” but he was unable to articulate precisely why. He expressed frustration that the elected president was pushing a foreign policy at odds from the “interagency consensus” of the bureaucracy that he felt should control foreign policy.

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I count 15. That does not include Bolton. But it doesn’t matter, the story is out there, it’s doing its damage, and who cares if it’s true? Because what are the odds the Atlantic will be sued over it?

On-the-Record Sources, Paper Trail Rebut Anonymous Atlantic Claims (JTN)

Trump advisor Derek Lyons: “I was with the President the morning after the scheduled visit. He was extremely disappointed that arrangements could not be made to get him to the site and that the trip had been canceled. I have worked for the President for his entire administration. One of my responsibilities is working with him on the many letters he signs to the families of our nation’s fallen heroes. In all my time at the White House, I have never heard him utter a disparaging remark, of any kind, about our troops. In my view, he holds the brave men and women of our armed forces in the highest regard.”

U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco Jamie McCourt: “In my presence, POTUS has NEVER denigrated any member of the U.S. military or anyone in service to our country. And he certainly did not that day, either. Let me add, he was devastated to not be able to go to the cemetery at Belleau Wood. In fact, the next day, he attended and spoke at the ceremony in Suresnes in the pouring rain.” Trump Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino: “I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all. Complete lies by ‘anonymous sources’…” Trump Senior Advisor Stephen Miller: “The President deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call.” Former presidential advisor Johnny DeStefano: “I was on this trip. The Atlantic bit is not true. Period.”

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Walsh: “I can attest to the fact that there was a bad weather call in France and that the helicopters were unable to safely make the flight. Overall, the President’s support and respect for our American troops, past and present, is unquestionable.” Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: “I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion — this never happened.” Former Deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes: “I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather.” Maj. General (Ret.) William Matz: “No one has done more for our veterans than President Trump, and he enjoys a relationship of mutual affection and honor with those who wear and have worn the uniform of the United States military and their families. Those who know President Trump know that the anonymous smears peddled by The Atlantic have no basis in fact or reality, and do a terrible disservice to journalism and to our veterans, living and deceased.”

Secretary Of Defense Mark Esper: “President Trump has the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families. That is why he has fought for greater pay and more funding for our armed forces.” Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo: “I’ve been with this president now for coming on four years. I’ve never heard the president use the language that assertively is said in that article.” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie: Denied ever hearing President Trump make such remarks: “Absolutely not.” Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato: Denied the Atlantic’s story.

Lt. General and National Security Advisor to Vice President Pence Keith Kellogg: “The Atlantic story is completely false. Absolutely lacks merit. I’ve been by the President’s side. He has always shown the highest respect to our active duty troops and veterans with utmost respect paid to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those wounded in battle.” Former Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney: “I never heard the President disparage our war dead or wounded. In fact, the exact opposite is true. I was with him at the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. As we flew over the beaches by helicopter he was outwardly in awe of the accomplishments of the Allied Forces, and the sacrifices they paid.”

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So surprised.

AstraZeneca Covid19 Vaccine Trial Put On Hold Due To Adverse Reaction (STAT)

A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” In a follow-up statement, AstraZeneca said it initiated the study hold. The nature of the adverse reaction and when it happened were not immediately known, though the participant is expected to recover, according to an individual familiar with the matter.


The spokesperson described the pause as “a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.” The spokesperson also said that the company is “working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.” An individual familiar with the development said researchers had been told the hold was placed on the trial out of “an abundance of caution.” A second individual familiar with the matter, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the finding is having an impact on other AstraZeneca vaccine trials underway — as well as on the clinical trials being conducted by other vaccine manufacturers.

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Boy, what a mess that country is. I can see the experts brainstorming for hours: 5, no 7, how about 8? Raise your hand for 6!

England To Ban Gatherings Of More Than 6 People As Coronavirus Cases Spike (AP)

Britain’s government is banning gatherings of more than six people in England, as officials try to keep a lid on daily new coronavirus infections after a sharp spike across the U.K. that has been largely blamed on party-going young adults disregarding social distancing rules. Downing Street said urgent action was needed after the number of daily laboratory-confirmed positive cases hit nearly 3,000 on Sunday. The figure dipped Tuesday to 2,460. Officials said that starting Monday, the legal limit on all social gatherings in England will be reduced from the current 30 people to six. The new law applies both indoors and outdoors, including private homes, restaurants and parks. Failure to comply could result in a 100-pound ($130) fine.

Weddings, school, funerals and organized team sports are exempt, and larger gatherings will also be allowed if the household or “support bubble” is larger than six. Government ministers and scientists took to the airways to urge Britons not to let down their guard. “We’ve been able to relax a bit over the summer … but these latest figures really show us that much as people might like to say ‘Oh well, it’s gone away’ — this hasn’t gone away,” said Dr. Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer. He said while the rise in infections is “much more marked” among people between 17 and 21, he was concerned about a “more general and creeping geographic trend” across the U.K. “People have relaxed too much,” he said. “Now is the time for us to re-engage and realize that this is a continuing threat.”

[..] Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has faced strong criticism for its mixed messages since it started easing the coronavirus lockdown in late spring. It spent much of the summer encouraging people to eat out to help the hard-pressed hospitality sector and is now urging workers to return to their offices to help hard-hit businesses in city centers. John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said cases are rising, though “not spectacularly,” but he’s worried about what will happen following the reopening of schools and universities. “There are big movements afoot in the country and these will inevitably accelerate transmission,” he told Sky News. “I’m not sure we have to go back to work when we can work from home.”

The government has also been criticized for testing problems, prompting an apology from Sarah-Jane Marsh, director for the National Health Service’s Test and Trace program. “All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded. It’s our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch point,” she said. “We are doing all we can to expand quickly.” “The testing team work on this 18 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

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60,000 people told from one day to the next that they must quarantine when they return home. Good for the airlines: ticket prices triple. Bad for the airlines: tons of cancellations.

Britons Scrambling To Get Back Home From Greek Islands On UK Red List (K.)

Some 60,000 Britons are scrambling to get back home from seven Greek islands that were recently added to the UK’s quarantine list, before restrictions take effect at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday. According to the British newspaper, holidaymakers were blindsided by the announcement on Monday by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that the Greek islands of Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos have been put on the government’s red list of destinations from which arrivals would have to spend 14 days in quarantine once returning to the UK.


The measure was announced in response to a spike in coronavirus infections, particularly in Crete, Mykonos and Zakynthos. “I don’t understand it because if anything it seems safer here than in the UK. It’s been very quiet, there’s barely anyone on the beaches, all the staff wear masks and there are hand-sanitizers on every table,” Julie Frew, who is holidaying on Crete, told the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail also said that holidaymakers have seen ticket prices for return flights almost treble since the measure was announced.

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The Brits do 7 islands, the Dutch do them all, including many that have never had one case.

But what’s even funnier: it’s the UK and Holland that have large outbreaks, Greece is nothing compared to that. And now they want to claim that their outbreaks come from Greece?

Netherlands Puts All Greek Islands On Orange Travel List (K.)

The Dutch government has placed Greece’s islands on its orange list of destinations approved for essential travel only, just a day after Britain said that people returning from seven Greek holiday islands would be quarantined for two weeks after arrival to check for symptoms of coronavirus. According to the directive, citizens of The Netherlands are “strongly discouraged” from traveling to the Greek islands and those who do will be subjected to 10 days of self-isolation on their return. The Foreign Ministry directive also advises that while citizens planning to travel to mainland Greece and the Peloponnese recreationally should not cancel their plans, they should exercise caution and abide by health safety regulations.

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Well, they don’t have to worry about infections in the camp anymore, because it burned down. See below

35 Migrants In Moria Found Positive For Coronavirus (K.)

A total of 35 migrants and refugees living in the Moria identification and registration centre on the island of Lesvos have been infected with the novel coronavirus, the Migration Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday, announcing the completion of the checks. The ministry said health teams from the National Organization of Public Health (EODY) conducted a total of 2,000 tests, of which 100 were done on employees and 1,900 on residents. Those infected have been transferred to a separate section of the camp, according to official procedure. Only one of the 35 patients has so far shown any symptoms of the illness, the ministry said. The overcrowded identification and registration centre has been placed on lockdown since last Wednesday (Sept. 2) after a 40-year-old Somalian national tested positive for the virus. During this time, residents are not allowed to enter of exit the camp.

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It’s all gone, the entire camp.

I know there are fires in California., but this is such a human tragedy, visited upon people who already were at the bottom of every ladder you can imagine.

What the EU going to do? Finance a new extra-secure camp? Moria was emant for 3,000 people But still in 2020 there were 15,000 or so living there.

“Some 12,500 people were living at the Moria camp” [..] now “more than 12,000 migrants being guarded by police on a highway..”

1,000s Flee Fire At Moria Migrant Camp On Virus Lockdown In Greece (K.)

Thousands of migrants fled a camp under COVID-19 lockdown after multiple fires gutted much of the site on the Greek island of Lesvos, authorities said early Wednesday. Some 12,500 people were living at the Moria camp and the surrounding area, where additional restrictions have been imposed over the past week after a Somali resident tested positive for the coronavirus. “The fire spread inside and outside of the camp and has destroyed it … There are more than 12,000 migrants being guarded by police on a highway,” Stratos Kytelis, mayor of the island’s main town, Mylinene, told private Skai radio. “It is a very difficult situation because some of those who are outside will include people who are positive (for the coronavirus).” There were no reports of injuries.


The fires broke out overnight, police and fire officials on the island told The Associated Press, adding the cause of the blazes, as well as the full extent of the damage, remained unclear. They did not confirm local reports that the fires had been set deliberately in protest at the lockdown measures but said firefighters had “met resistance” from some camp residents. Health authorities on Tuesday said 35 people had been confirmed infected with the virus so far after a major testing drive was ordered at the overcrowded facility. They were being kept in isolation at a separate site that was not affected by the fire, officials said. Early Wednesday, riot police were deployed along the highway that connects the camp to Mytilene, some 5 kilometers (3 miles) to the south.

Moria fire

https://twitter.com/i/status/1303554698083995650

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A comprehensive list from Professor Mark Feldstein, witness who testified on Day 1 of Assange hearing about frequency of published leaks in journalism. The list includes over 20 examples from 1844-2018.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 232020
 


Paul Cézanne Les (Grandes) Baigneuses 1905

 

Send in the Clowns for the Circus Is in Town (Curtin)
Biden Says Trump Seeks To ‘Defund The Police’ (Fox)
House Passes $25 Billion Post Office Bailout As Trump Rages On Twitter (ZH)
My Discussion With John Durham’s Lead Investigator, William Aldenberg (CT)
John Brennan Was Put in a Completely Legitimate Perjury Trap (RS)
550,000 Primary Absentee Ballots Rejected In 2020, Far Outpacing 2016 (NPR)
US Spies’ Obsession With RT Comes Full Circle In Senate Report (RT)
Navalny Was Not Poisoned (MoA)
US Sanctions Devastate Syria’s People And Post-War Reconstruction (Maté)
The Real Huge Jobs Numbers Will Make Your Blood Run Cold (Snider)
Governments Are Faking It, and Copying Each Other (AIER)

 

 

Global new cases and deaths remain stubbornly high. US new cases are trending down, wonderful, now bring down deaths numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Smith
https://twitter.com/i/status/1297350692357668865

 

 

The Society of the Spectacle.

Send in the Clowns for the Circus Is in Town (Curtin)

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People. Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses. Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed. And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus. The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly. Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements. And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy. Punch and Judy indeed.

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Defending the mass incarceration policies? You sure?

Biden Says Trump Seeks To ‘Defund The Police’ (Fox)

President Trump is the one who wants to “defund the police,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asserted during an interview Friday. “I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance,” Biden told ABC News for a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday that also includes Biden’s running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Biden accused the president of proposing cuts to programs that support local police, in sharp contrast to the Republican incumbent’s campaign-trail rhetoric. Harris also stressed that voters should watch the president’s actions rather than listen to his words. “There is so much about what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth that is designed to distract the American people from what he is doing,” Harris told ABC.

Instead of slashing funding, police departments should focus on forcing out officers who abuse their authority, the former vice president said. “There are unethical senators, there are unethical presidents, there are unethical doctors, unethical lawyers, unethical prosecutors, there are unethical cops. They should be rooted out,” Biden told interviewer Robin Roberts. Racial injustice protesters across the country have been calling for the defunding of police departments in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in police custody in Minneapolis and other cases of alleged police brutality. Biden told Roberts that if elected president he would call for national standards for police departments and would make police misconduct records more easily accessible for public scrutiny.

He said Trump plans to cut “half a billion dollars of local police support,” referring to proposed cuts to a federal program aimed at hiring more local officers. Biden said he would call for more resources and social service support for police. “We have to make it clear that this is about protecting neighborhoods, protecting people, everybody across the board,” he said. “The only guy that actually put in a bill to actually defund the police is Donald Trump,” Biden added, after defending the 1994 crime bill he backed while a U.S. senator from Delaware.

That legislation, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, called for community-based policing efforts – but has been criticized for leading to mass incarceration of African Americans and other minorities. “Everybody forgets a third of that bill that I wrote was to put more cops in the street, not in their automobiles, but getting out and knowing the community – knowing who owns the local grocery store, knowing everybody in the community, and crime will drop,” he said.

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If it really needs $25 billion (or more), the problem doesn’t seem to be where critics currently locate it.

House Passes $25 Billion Post Office Bailout As Trump Rages On Twitter (ZH)

Despite the fact that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has delayed his most controversial cost-saving measures until after the November vote, and endured a shellacking at the hands of Senate Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee, House Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi forged ahead with the help of 26 defecting Republicans to pass a bill calling for $25 billion in financial assistance for the Post Office. As more states announced plans to hold their elections largely by mail in November (a system that some used for the primaries) the Postal Service announced earlier this month that too much voting by mail could delay the arrival of some votes. Pelosi called a special session of the House during recess and on a Saturday to lend this piece of political theater even more impact.

The vote is the culmination of a Democratic crusade about late mail – literally, a few people complained about their mail being late, a few others posted some context-free photos of mail sorting machines being destroyed, and – boom – Democrats suddenly had an army of twitter trolls shrieking about veterans dying because their medication came a day late. One Connecticut family even complained that USPS had lost the cremated remains of a loved one and veteran (they were found 12 days later thanks to one dedicated worker who supposedly delivered the remains personally). They blamed DeJoy personally for the mistake, and ever since, the state’s AG William Tong has seized every opportunity to draw attention to “out of service” mail sorting machines.

DeJoy is due for round two before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, which should be even more brutal than Friday’s pile-on (at least, for DeJoy’s sake, the Senate is controlled by Republicans). But in the latest transparent bit of political theater organized by “political mastermind” Nancy Pelosi – and surely this is right up there with her wardrobe choices during the unveiling of the Dems’ police reform bill – is the victorious vote on Saturday, which has almost no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate. As we mentioned above, 26 Republicans defected to help Democrats pass the bill 257 votes to 150. In addition to the money, the bill called for reversing certain operational changes imposed under DeJoy. Six states are also suing USPS and DeJoy personally (along with the chairman of the USPS board) claiming these changes infringe on states ability to hold free and fair elections.

[..] Now, get ready for some strongly worded statements from Pelosi when Mitch McConnell inevitably refuses to call it for a vote. The Senate has introduced its own, scaled down, plan to help USPS as part of a proposed COVID relief bill that thanks to Democrats, likely will never become a reality.

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The conservative press has a few very clever and educated people writing on the Russiagate fall-out. They’re going to be needed. This is “sundance” at The Last Refuge.

My Discussion With John Durham’s Lead Investigator, William Aldenberg (CT)

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

Over the course of the next several months the ramifications became more clear. Despite overwhelming evidence James Wolfe was never charged with leaking the FISA application on March 17, 2017. Quite the contrary, even to this day the official position of the FBI, DOJ and U.S. government is that Wolfe *did not* leak the FISA application. There’s a very big reason for that; as both myself and special agent William Aldenberg discussed. First, in order to fill in another corner of the interview foundation it must be remembered the goal of the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions, despite his recusal on all things Trump, was the removal of political influence in the DOJ. That same objective has been repeated ad infinitum by current AG Bill Barr.

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

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

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And here is lawyer/prosecutor “Shipwreckedcrew” at Red State.

John Brennan Was Put in a Completely Legitimate Perjury Trap (RS)

Shapiro’s statement claims that Brennan was told by Durham that he is neither a “target” nor “subject,” and that he is only a witness to events under review. Maybe that’s true, but it does not sound true to me. And the statement does not say that comment was made to Brennan yesterday before the interview took place. I can say that I had several occasions during my career as a prosecutor where criminal defense lawyers asked me similar questions about their client in response to an interview request. I can’t say that I always refused to answer, but as a general matter my response was something that I learned when I was starting out from more experienced federal prosecutors —

“Counsel, this interview today is voluntary. Your client is free to leave right now, and answer none of the questions we have. He’s free to stop answering questions at any time while the interview is underway. He’s free to ask to take a break, step outside the room with you, and then return to answer the question or not answer the question. What does he want to do?” John Brennan could have been questioned before a grand jury, without the presence of his attorney in the room. That would be true IF, as suggested by Shapiro’s statement, Brennan was only a “witness”. To explain that, let’s take a moment to address the whole “Target” v. “Subject” v. “Witness” construct the press is so happy to report about.

Labeling an individual a “target” has a clear meaning in federal criminal prosecutions. It refers to someone about whom the prosecutor believes there is already sufficient admissible evidence to seek an indictment from a grand jury, and obtain a conviction at trial. The investigation is ongoing, but the grand jury already has identified a “target” for eventual prosecution. Anyone who is “not a target” is — “not a target”. There is no other “classification” of individuals with meaning. Many people in the business toss around the term “subject”, but that is a “made-up” classification that does not exist. I have received “Subject” letters from prosecutors on behalf of clients, but those all involve a request to interview my client.

A “Target” letter is different. When you receive a “Target” letter it advises you that a federal grand jury has already received evidence upon which criminal charges may be issued in the future. It advises the “Target” that they should seek counsel, and if they cannot afford counsel they should contact the Federal Defender’s Office in their district for legal representation. Once they have secured counsel, their lawyer should contact the prosecutor to discuss the matter. The purpose behind a “subject” letter is merely to instill fear in the recipient and to “encourage” them to talk about others before others talk about them — as information from others might push them closer to the “target” category. Unwitting lawyers think there is meaning behind the “subject” designation but there is not.

Fear is a great motivator. “Doing unto others before they do unto you” is sort of a universal maxim among the idiot criminal class. So if you are not a “target” — meaning there isn’t sufficient evidence at this time to charge you with a crime — then by default you are a “witness.” But “witnesses” can, and often do talk themselves into being “targets” during such interviews. That was the purpose of the interview, Mr. Brennan, not because you have some wonderful insights to provide Mr. Durham and his investigators to make their job easier.

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This is not even about the mail-in votes yet. There better be a very clear winner in November, or else.

550,000 Primary Absentee Ballots Rejected In 2020, Far Outpacing 2016 (NPR)

An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year’s presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR. That’s far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time. Election experts said first-time absentee voters are much more likely to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to rejected ballots. Studies also show that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count. Most absentee or mail-in ballots are rejected because required signatures are missing or don’t match the one on record, or because the ballot arrives too late.

“If something goes wrong with any of this, that’s a problem writ large, but it’s also going to be one that hits some populations of the United States a bit harder than others, potentially disenfranchises different groups of folks at higher rates,” said Rob Griffin of the Democracy Fund, which is conducting a sweeping survey of the 2020 electorate with researchers at UCLA. Griffin said, so far, about a quarter of those who voted in person in the last election say they plan to vote by mail this November. The same is true for those who have never voted before and will be casting their first ballots in this year’s election. The numbers compiled by NPR are almost certainly an underestimate since not all states have made the information on rejected mail-in ballots available.

Even with limited data, the implications are considerable. NPR found that tens of thousands of ballots have been rejected in key battleground states, where the outcome in November — for the presidency, Congress and other elected positions — could be determined by a relatively small number of votes. For example, President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by almost 23,000 votes. More than 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected in the state’s presidential primary in April. More than 37,000 primary ballots were also rejected in June in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by just over 44,000 votes.

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US intelligence and the Wolfowitz/Brzezinski neocon cabal have severely compromised US national security for decades, only to funnel trillions towards US arms manufacturers, who today produce second rate weapons to boot. It is high time to stop this. Security is much better served by dialogue.

US Spies’ Obsession With RT Comes Full Circle In Senate Report (RT)

Reading the final Senate Intelligence Committee report on ‘Russian meddling’ in US elections, it’s obvious they believe RT is the Christmas tree at its center, with WikiLeaks, troll bots, third parties etc. merely the ornaments. The US establishment’s obsession with RT dates all the way back to March 2011, when then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton complained about the US “losing… the information war.” The infamous Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on ‘Russian meddling’ from January 2017 devoted more than a quarter of its total volume to RT – seven out of 25 pages, to be precise. It was so obvious, even reporters with intimate inside knowledge of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) were skeptical.

The ICA was based on the CIA-FBI-NSA-ODNI claim that “RT is the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” Yet the bulk of its ‘evidence’ consisted of 2012 ‘open source’ research that was entirely irrelevant to the 2016 election. That pattern is now repeated in the latest SSCI report, in which RT is referenced more than 100 times. Published on Tuesday, the 966-page behemoth almost seems intended to discourage reading. It’s not difficult to see why: the report basically regurgitates every single assertion made over the past four years of ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy-mongering, with insinuation and innuendo doing a lot of the heavy lifting. For example, the word “likely” appears nearly 140 times throughout the report, while “almost certainly” appears 21 times.

One such assertion is that WikiLeaks and its senior leadership “resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors,” which is backed by circular reasoning: media reports, and then US laws based on them. This is followed by the assertion that RT has “provided both beneficial coverage of WikiLeaks and a formal, compensated media platform for [Julian] Assange.” Assange hosted a 12-episode interview show for RT in 2012, called World Tomorrow. This is the sole basis for the SSCI to assert the existence of an “alliance between RT and WikiLeaks” that is somehow “part of the Russian government’s overall strategy to use its state-controlled media to undermine US democratic institutions.”

Straining to prove the existence of this ‘alliance,’ the SSCI literally resurrects the completely debunked conspiracy theory that during the October 2016 release of the Podesta emails, “RT announced WikiLeaks releases on Twitter prior to WikiLeaks making that announcement itself.” As both WikiLeaks and RT have repeatedly clarified, the content of Podesta6 and Podesta15 releases had been posted on the website, but not yet announced on Twitter. RT journalists were monitoring the website, saw the upload, and reported on it – as journalists are supposed to do. That hasn’t stopped Western media, pundits and politicians from making a crazy conspiracy theory out of it, obviously.

The committee doesn’t stop there, however. They also argue that RT’s “efforts to impugn the US democratic process involve its support for third-party candidates and pushing messaging that ‘the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’” You heard it right, reporting on the existence of parties beyond Democrats and Republicans is somehow impugning democracy. Never mind that this quote is actually from the 2012 annex of the ICA, though it is used here to discuss RT’s “support” for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016. That alleged support consisted of hosting a Green Party debate on a RT America show, and inviting Stein to RT’s anniversary receptions in New York and Moscow.

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An unnecessary step too far, if you ask me. It should have said the odds that he was poisoned are very slim. Other than that, yes, Navalny is a dimwitted CIA puppet whom Putin doesn’t mind at all having around.

Navalny Was Not Poisoned (MoA)

On Thursday morning the Russian rightwing and racist rabble rouser Alexey Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow. He eventually went into a coma. The plane had to be rerouted for an emergency stop in Omsk. Navalny was brought into a clinic and put on a ventilator. Meanwhile his spokeswomen Kira Yarmysh claimed, without evidence, that Navalny had been poisoned: Yarmysh believes Navalny, who showed no symptoms prior to the flight, was “poisoned with something mixed into his tea” as it was “the only thing he drank this morning.” In the middle of the journey, she wrote later, he began sweating, went to the toilet, and apparently lost consciousness for a period. RIA Novosti reported that Navalny did not eat or drink anything on the flight.

The doctors in the intensive care unit in Omsk had difficulties to stabilize Navalny. A number of tests were made but no poisons were found. Yesterday evening the patient had stabilized. On request of his family he was transported to Germany where he is currently undergoing treatment. The hospital in Omsk said that Navalny had experienced severe hypoglycemia: The head physician of the Omsk emergency hospital, Alexander Murakhovsky, said that Alexei Navalny’s condition was caused by a sharp drop in blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is also known as diabetic shock: “When a person experiences diabetic shock, or severe hypoglycemia, they may lose consciousness, have trouble speaking, and experience double vision. Early treatment is essential because blood sugar levels that stay low for too long can lead to seizures or diabetic coma.”

Hypoglycemia can sometimes happen rapidly and may even occur when a person follows their diabetes treatment plan. A diabetic shock happens when someone with diabetes has taken too much insulin or has eaten too little. My father had diabetes and I have seen him experiencing this problem several times. He always carried a piece of sugar with him to use it as soon as he felt the first symptoms. My mother taught me the basic first aid I would have to to apply should my father be unable to help himself. Thankfully I never had to use it. It is important that the measures are taken immediately. A prolonged coma can lead to brain damage. As Navalny was on a plane up in the air it took quite a while to get him into a hospital. His prolonged coma may have created additional damage to his body.

People with diabetes usually learn how to control their blood sugar level. I have found no information that Navalny actually has diabetes but that does not say much as it is not something people usually talk about. I am not aware of any medication or poison that rapidly lowers the blood sugar level and can be applied secretly. It would also be stupid to use such in an attempt to kill someone as the attacked person simply has to eat something to negate the effect. The ‘western’ media jumped onto the ‘Navalny was poisoned’ claim to heap the usual trash on Russia. They also claimed that Navalny is the ‘opposition leader’ in Russia even as he polls at 2% which is lower than the leader of the communist party and several other real opposition politicians. Nor is Navalny a ‘liberal’. He is a rightwing nationalist and racist who sees Cechen and other non-Russian people as cockroaches that should be killed.

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Start talking to Russia and this, too, can be over.

US Sanctions Devastate Syria’s People And Post-War Reconstruction (Maté)

JOSHUA LANDIS: Well, the sanctions are…the stated reason for the sanctions is that they are to…they’re to force the Assad regime to accept UN resolutions, which call for free elections—free and fair elections—to end the sectarian form of government, and to start a political process that the Special Envoy to the United States, James Jeffrey, has said would lead to Assad leaving power. So, in a sense, this is regime change. He has said it’s not about regime change, and the Trump administration people say we don’t insist on regime change; we want a radical change of regime behavior. But we know that’s not going to happen. Assad has won the war, and these sanctions end up, you know, immiserating the Syrian people, is what it…you know, Assad is going to be able to eat three square meals a day, he can fly it in if he has to, he’s not going to be made miserable.

There are a lot of Syrian opposition members that see this as a way to punish Assad. James Jeffrey has, in his downtime, has said this…his job is really about turning Syria into a quagmire for Russian and Iran. So, those are the three different agendas, really, to punish Assad, to try to carry out some kind of regime change, and perhaps ignite this UN sanct…you know, these UN resolutions that are supposed to bring about a political process, and then also turn Syria into a quagmire so it becomes a millstone around the necks of Russia and Iran. And those, you know, those policies are not going…are not really going to be achieved. Russia has made Syria a key factor in its foreign policy. It’s not going to abandon Syria, and Syria doesn’t cost them that much.

There’s not going to be a public uprising against Assad. Many people have said, oh, some Druze were demonstrating this and that, but Assad has put down the opposition and has won a civil…very bloody civil war. He’s not going to be overthrown by some demonstrations today, and he’s not going to be moved by Western sanctions. So, this…the result of these policies is going to be to starve Syrians, increase instability in Syria, send Syrians [as] more refugees…waves of refugees out into the West, and probably to promote terrorism, because their people will be so poor and unhappy. So, it’s not good for American foreign policy, I think, in the long run. It’s not good for Syrians. It’s not good for humanitarian interests.

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This is going to take a very long time to resolve in any possible way. What’s going to happen to these people in the meantime?

The Real Huge Jobs Numbers Will Make Your Blood Run Cold (Snider)

There is simply no way to spin these figures as anything good. Not just the usual ones were talk about here, but more so some new data that you probably haven’t seen before. Beginning with the regular, it doesn’t matter that the level of initial jobless claims has declined substantially over the past few weeks. The fact of the matter is after 22 weeks of dislocation, at least eleven of them under reopening, these continue to rip along at around 1 million per week. One million. We’d never seen so much as 700k before (though the labor market is getting into the top range of 1981-82 adjusting for population, as if that’s some good thing). Forget about the first half of the contraction (which the shutdown caused) and just focus on this second set of weeks since early May.

There’s no way to describe them, more than double anything we’ve ever seen before. Not shutdown but the visible display of economic damage. The rebound isn’t being very bouncy, for one thing, no matter how many gigantic gobs of purported “stimulus” has been thrown at the economy. It ain’t stimulating. The number of jobs still being lost this late into it is unthinkable; historic. I wrote a couple days ago about another key factor which appears to be what the productivity estimates have revealed; the terrifying possibility that though there’s been more job losses than at any time in history there may not yet have been enough of the longer-run variety to balance business perceptions of far lower post-GFC potential.

“Before even getting to July, this divergence between hours and headline payrolls had already suggested that companies may have been holding on to more workers than the decline in output would’ve demanded. In other words, the level of output and actual work performed had declined more than the reduction in headcounts, by a lot more, leaving us to suspect businesses were holding back a sort of reserve of their own workers (who were still on the books but idle nonetheless) having them at-the-ready for when reopening got started.”

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Jeffrey A. Tucker at the American Institute for Economic Research gets a lot right, but some things awfully wrong (common flu is a coronavirus?! That hurts!).

In a world with zero preparedness and zero competence, politicians hide behind each other and state they only follow science, because that is an even better shield against criticism.

Governments Are Faking It, and Copying Each Other (AIER)

A mystery for months is how it is that so many governments in so many different places on earth could have adopted the same or very similar preposterous policies, no matter the threat level of the virus, and without firm evidence that interventions had any hope of being effective. In the course of two weeks, traditional freedoms were zapped away in nearly all developed countries. In a seriously bizarre twist, even the silliest policies replicated themselves like a virus in country after country. For example, you can’t try on clothing in a store in Texas or in Melbourne, or in London or in Kalamazoo. What’s with that? We know that the COVID bug is least likely to live on fabrics unless I have symptoms of it, sneeze on my handkerchief and then I stuff it in your mouth.

[..] I invite you to examine a very interesting study published by the National Academy of Sciences: Explaining the homogeneous diffusion of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions across heterogeneous countries. A clearer title might be: how so many governments behaved so stupidly at once. The theory they posit seems highly realistic to me:

“We analyze the adoption of nonpharmaceutical interventions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries during the early phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the complexity associated with pandemic decisions, governments are faced with the dilemma of how to act quickly when their core decision-making processes are based on deliberations balancing political considerations. Our findings show that, in times of severe crisis, governments follow the lead of others and base their decisions on what other countries do. Governments in countries with a stronger democratic structure are slower to react in the face of the pandemic but are more sensitive to the influence of other countries. We provide insights for research on international policy diffusion and research on the political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This seems to fit with what I’ve seen anecdotally. These guys in charge are mostly attorneys with specializations in bamboozling voters. And the “public health authorities” advising them can get credentials in the field without ever having studied much less practiced medicine. So what do they do? They copy other governments, as a way of covering up their ignorance. As the study says: ” While our paper cannot judge what an “optimal” adoption timing would be for any country, it follows, from our findings of what appears to be international mimicry of intervention adoptions, that some countries may have adopted restrictive measures rather sooner than necessary. If that is the case, such countries may have incurred excessively high social and economic costs, and may experience problems sustaining restrictions for as long as is necessary due to lockdown fatigue.”

Which is to say: the closures, lockdowns, and imposed stringency measures were not science. It was monkey see, monkey do. The social psychology experiments on conformity help explain this better than anything else. They see some governments doing things and decide to do them too, as a way of making sure they are avoiding political risk, regardless of the cost. ” Why did so many governments go so nuts at once, disregarding their own laws, traditions, and values by bludgeoning their own people with the excuse of science that has turned out to be almost completely bogus? Some people claim conspiracy but a much simpler answer might be that, in their ignorance and stupor, they copied each other out of fear.”

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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?

 

 

 

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Dec 202019
 
 December 20, 2019  Posted by at 10:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Butter bean vines across the porch, Negro quarter, Memphis, Tennessee 1938

 

“Let Them Impeach And Be Damned” (Turley)
House-Senate Impeachment Impasse Would Mean Trump Wasn’t Impeached At All (ZH)
Durham Reportedly Seeking Ex-CIA Director Brennan’s Emails, Call Logs (ZH)
US Freight Shipments Fall Below 2014 Level. Answers Emerge (WS)
Japan Cabinet Approves Record $939 Billion Budget Spending Plan (R.)
Fukushima Daiichi No.1 Reactor To Be Covered (NHK)
Sturgeon Demands Independence Referendum Powers Be Devolved (G.)
Boris Johnson’s Brexit Bill ‘Tears Up’ Protections For Child Refugees (Ind.)
Assange CANNOT Be Extradited Because Of Treaty Between US-UK: Legal Team (RT)

 

 

One of the few good things to emerge from the impeachment tragedy: Jonathan Turley’s clear voice.

“Let Them Impeach And Be Damned” (Turley)

“Let them impeach and be damned.” Those words could have easily come from Donald Trump, as the House moves this week to impeach him. They were, however, the words of another president who not only shares some striking similarities to Trump but who went through an impeachment with chilling parallels to the current proceedings. The impeachment of Trump is not just history repeating itself but repeating itself with a vengeance.

The closest of the three prior presidential impeachment cases to the House effort today is the 1868 impeachment of Andrew Johnson. This is certainly not a comparison that Democrats should relish. The Johnson case has long been widely regarded as the very prototype of an abusive impeachment. As in the case of Trump, calls to impeach Johnson began almost as soon as he took office. A southerner who ascended to power after the Civil War as a result of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Johnson was called the “accidental president” and his legitimacy was never accepted by critics. Representative John Farnsworth of Illinois called Johnson an “ungrateful, despicable, besotted, traitorous man.”

Johnson opposed much of the reconstruction plan Lincoln had for the defeated south and was criticized for fueling racial divisions. He was widely viewed as an alcoholic and racist liar who opposed full citizenship for freed slaves. Ridiculed for not being able to spell, Johnson responded, “It is a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.” Sound familiar? The “Radical Republicans” in Congress started to lay a trap a year before impeachment. They were aware that Johnson wanted their ally, War Secretary Edwin Stanton, out of his cabinet, so they then decided to pass an unconstitutional law that made his firing a crime.

To leave no doubt of their intentions, they even defined such a firing as a “high misdemeanor.” It was a trap door crime created for the purposes of impeachment. Undeterred, Johnson fired Stanton anyway. His foes then set upon any member of Congress or commentator who dared question the basis for the impeachment. His leading opponent, Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania demanded of them, “What good did your moderation do you? If you do not kill the beast, it will kill you.”

Read more …

Feldman also makes a solid argument, instead of the opinionated statements he made in the House.

House-Senate Impeachment Impasse Would Mean Trump Wasn’t Impeached At All (ZH)

While Nancy Pelosi threatens to withhold articles of impeachment passed Wednesday night by the House, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman says that President Trump isn’t technically impeached until the House actually transmits the articles to the Senate. Feldman, who testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings earlier this month, argues in a Bloomberg Op-Ed that the framers’ definition of impeachment “assumed that impeachment was a process, not just a House vote,” and that “Strictly speaking, “impeachment” occurred – and occurs — when the articles of impeachment are presented to the Senate for trial. And at that point, the Senate is obliged by the Constitution to hold a trial.”

“If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all. That’s because “impeachment” under the Constitution means the House sending its approved articles of to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached. As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, “TRUMP IMPEACHED,” those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn’t impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message.” -Noah Feldman

Pelosi, meanwhile, won’t transmit the articles until the Senate holds what she considers a “fair” trial. Roughly modeled after England’s impeachment procedures, the framers in Article I of the constitution gave the House “the sole power of impeachment,” while giving the Senate “the sole power to try all impeachments.” [..] In closing, Feldman says “if the House never sends the articles, then Trump could say with strong justification that he was never actually impeached,” adding “And that’s probably not the message Congressional Democrats are hoping to send.”

Read more …

Where is he on Clapper?

Durham Reportedly Seeking Ex-CIA Director Brennan’s Emails, Call Logs (ZH)

Attorney General William Barr told “The Story with Martha MacCallum” that by the time Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, it had become clear that allegations raised by the FBI against a former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos were largely baseless, and that pursuing George Papadopoulos’ “had very little probative value.” Additionally, Barr admitted, in a very candid (for him) moment, that federal prosecutor John Durham (who is scrutinizing the Russia investigation) “isn’t just looking at the FBI, he’s looking at other agencies, departments, and private actors,” but that “the other agencies are cooperating very well.”

Which is all the more intriguing as, at the same time as his interview aired, The New York Times dropped a bombshell, reporting that, according to three people briefed on the inquiry, Durham’s investigation has begun examining the role of the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in how the intelligence community assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference. Specifically, Durham has requested Brennan’s emails, call logs, and other documents from the C.I.A. (and judging by Barr’s statement that “other agencies are cooperating very well,” we suspect Durham will get what he wants. Additionally, NYT reports that Durham is also examining whether Mr. Brennan privately contradicted his public comments, including May 2017 testimony to Congress, about both the dossier and about any debate among the intelligence agencies over their conclusions on Russia’s interference.

Of course, NYT is quick to ‘warn’ readers that Durham’s decision to probe Brennan’s actions deeper will “add to accusations that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.” But we ask, just as with Ukraine and the Bidens, is it only ‘not allowed’ to root out corruption if the corrupt is a representative of ‘the other’? We will let AG Barr respond to that implied problem: “The president bore the burden of probably one of the greatest conspiracy theories – baseless conspiracy theories – in American political history.” [..] We suspect that if Durham cracks Brennan, he will take everyone else down with him. Maybe Nancy will hand the impeachment articles over at that moment… as a distraction from the real threat to America’s democracy, constitution, and common man.

Read more …

If you’re into climate issues, this should make you rejoice.

US Freight Shipments Fall Below 2014 Level. Answers Emerge (WS)

Freight shipment volume in the US by truck, rail, air, and barge of consumer and industrial goods but not bulk commodities declined 3.3% in November from a year ago, the 12th month in a row of year-over-year declines, according to the Cass Freight Index for Shipments. This follows a huge boom in shipments through much of 2018, but by November last year, that boom was already fizzling, and by December last year, shipments declined on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the last freight recession. Note the infamous boom-and-bust cycles of the business:

The Cass Freight Index tracks shipment volume of consumer goods, industrial products such as construction materials, equipment and components being shipped to or by manufacturers, supplies and equipment for oil & gas drilling, and many other things. But it does not track bulk commodities, such as grains. Cass derives the data from actual freight invoices paid on behalf of its clients ($28 billion in 2018). The boom levels last year had been stimulated by pandemic efforts all around to front-run the tariffs by loading up on merchandise. But November’s drop in shipment volume didn’t just put the index below November last year, but also below 2017 levels and 2014 levels and nudged it closer to the lows of the 2015 and 2016 freight recession. In the stacked chart below – note the seasonality of the business – the red line represents the index for 2019. The top black line represents 2018, the purple line 2017, and the yellow line 2014:

The Oil-and-Gas-Bust Factor. For more granularity, we’ll look at durable goods shipments – which include anything from washing machines (knock on wood in term of “durable”) to industrial equipment. Durable goods shipments in November fell 1.5% year-over-year. But within that group, shipments of machinery and equipment for agriculture, construction, and mining, which is dominated by equipment for shale oil-and-gas drilling, plunged 13.6% year-over-year. During the peak of the Oil Bust in late 2015 and early 2016, shipments of equipment to these sectors plunged by as much as 37% year-over-year, much worse than the plunge during the Financial Crisis when they’d bottomed out at -29%. This is how important the oil-and-gas sector has become to US industry.

Read more …

Take a spoonful of Abenomics, add several pounds of sugar.

Japan Cabinet Approves Record $939 Billion Budget Spending Plan (R.)

Japan’s government has approved a record budget spending plan worth $939 billion for the coming fiscal year, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday, as it struggles to curb spending and manage the industrial world’s heaviest public debt burden. The 102.7 trillion yen ($939 billion) general-account budget for the year beginning April 1 marks a 1.2% rise from the current year, boosted by record outlays for welfare and the military and other spending aimed at boosting the economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has prioritized growth over fiscal reform under his “Abenomics” reflationary policy of monetary stimulus and flexible spending, and planned spending has increased for eight straight years.


Part of the planned spending will help finance a $122 billion fiscal package put together this month by Abe’s cabinet to shore up growth beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after hits from the U.S.-China trade war and an Oct. 1 sales tax hike to 10%. [..] Japan’s public debt is more than double the size of its $5 trillion economy, by far the highest among advanced economies. Bond yields have been suppressed by Bank of Japan money printing under a policy that caps 10-year JGB yields around 0%, allowing the government to rely on cheap borrowing. Perhaps mindful of fiscal discipline, Japan aims to cut new bond issuance for a 10th straight year – to 32.6 trillion yen from 32.7 trillion yen this year, helped in part by additional revenues from the sales tax hike.

Read more …

Scary people.

Fukushima Daiichi No.1 Reactor To Be Covered (NHK)

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will install a giant cover over one of the reactors that underwent a nuclear meltdown as part of its dismantling process. Tokyo Electric Power Company announced the decision on Thursday regarding the No.1 reactor building, which was affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The covering will measure 65 meters high, 65 meters long and 50 meters wide. Its ceiling will have cranes that can be used to remove debris. The reactor’s fuel storage pool still holds 392 nuclear fuel units. As part of their removal process, TEPCO is clearing scattered debris from the building.


TEPCO says that by installing the cover, it aims to lower the risks of radioactive dust spreading outside during the debris removal process. It added that the device will also prevent rainwater from getting into the reactor building, thereby helping to reduce the volume of newly contaminated water. TEPCO says it cannot tell when the device will be completed, as it is still in the process of making a detailed construction plan.

Read more …

Self-determination in 2020. Scotland has to ask the country they want to separate from if that’s okay.

Sturgeon Demands Independence Referendum Powers Be Devolved (G.)

Nicola Sturgeon has called for the Scottish parliament to be given permanent powers to hold subsequent referendums on independence from the UK. Describing the SNP’s success in last week’s general election as an “unarguable mandate by any normal standard of democracy”, Scotland’s first minister confirmed on Thursday morning that she had formally written to Boris Johnson to request the powers to legally stage another referendum under section 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act. Alongside this, the SNP leader published a 38-page document that also sets out draft amendments to the statute, which would devolve the right to hold votes on leaving the UK to Holyrood.

Insisting that she was not advocating for a third independence referendum – “not least because I think when Scotland gets the chance to vote again, it will vote for independence” – she refused to rule one out for ever, underlining that no first minister could bind the hands of their successors over the right to self-determination. Entitled Scotland’s Right to Choose, the publication argues that there has been a “material change of circumstance” since the independence referendum of 2014, based on “the prospect of Scotland leaving the EU against its will and what EU exit has revealed about Scotland’s position within the UK”.

Launching the document at an event at her official residence of Bute House in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she “fully expected to get a flat no” from Westminster initially. “I’m going to stand my ground. I fully expect today we will get the flat no of Westminster opposition, but that will not be the end of the matter and Boris Johnson should not be under any illusion that it is.”

Read more …

No surprise.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit Bill ‘Tears Up’ Protections For Child Refugees (Ind.)

Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans “tear up” a government pledge to protect child refugees in Europe seeking to reunite with family in the UK, campaigners have said. The Prime Minister’s new withdrawal agreement bill, which sets out plans for the UK’s exit from the EU, has scrapped a previous commitment to negotiate a new deal for child refugees after Brexit. The explanatory notes of the bill observe that the obligation to negotiate an agreement that “an unaccompanied child who has made a claim for international protection in a member state can come to the UK to join a relative” has been dropped. That obligation, which was pushed for and celebrated by Lord Alf Dubs and the wider Labour Party as well as refugee charities, has been replaced with a requirement only to make a statement to parliament.


Reacting to this, Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said: “During the last Parliament, Labour’s Alf Dubs led the campaign to protect child refugees post-Brexit. The Tories now want to tear up those protections. “As we leave the EU we cannot abandon our values of human rights and internationalism. Labour must continue to stand up for the most vulnerable people in the world.” Lord Alf Dubs told The Independent it was a “retrograde step” that could leave hundreds of children with relatives in the UK stranded alone in Europe. “It’s deeply depressing and deeply disappointing. We’re talking about children and young people who had some hope of a decent life with their relatives,” he said.

Read more …

Today Assange is set to be moved to the courtroom to face the Spanish judge via videolink.

Assange CANNOT Be Extradited Because Of Treaty Between US-UK: Legal Team (RT)

Lawyers for journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will argue that a treaty between the US and UK explicitly bans extradition for political offenses when his hearing begins in early 2020. Assange faces 18 counts in the US including conspiracy to hack government computers and violating espionage laws with a possible penalty of decades in prison. His full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on February 24, 2020 and his defense team have made clear their intention to fight his extradition using any and all means at their disposal. “We say that there is in the treaty a ban on being extradited for a political offense and these offenses as framed and in substance are political offenses,” Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald told London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court.


Assange’s defense lawyers will also submit medical evidence, public comments made by US officials and details from the Chelsea Manning case to fight the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the US and are also expected to call up to 21 witnesses to testify. Manning is currently in prison for contempt of court after she refused to testify before a federal grand jury seeking to level additional charges against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Assange appeared via video link but the whistleblower is due to make an in-person appearance in court tomorrow to answer questions from a Spanish judge in relation to “revelations about bugging of conversations with his lawyers” during his prolonged seven-year exile at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegations of rape which have subsequently been dropped.

Medical observers from #Doctors4Assange were denied access to Thursday’s case management hearing for #JulianAssange, despite members of the public offering to give up seats for them.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Dec 042019
 
 December 4, 2019  Posted by at 9:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  17 Responses »


Arthur Rothstein Oregon or Bust, family fleeing South Dakota drought Jul 1936

 

‘Rumblings’ From Democrats On Censuring Trump Instead Of Impeachment (Hill)
Democrats Accuse Trump Of Abusing Power, Obstructing Impeachment Probe (R.)
Trump Unloads On ‘Maniac’ Adam Schiff: ‘He’s A Deranged Human Being’ (Fox)
Nunes Sues CNN Over ‘Demonstrably False’ Ukraine Report (York)
Durham Needs to Bring Indictments (Farrell)
Trump Says Barr Was Misquoted Regarding Horowitz (SAC)
Trump Was Right Before He Was Wrong: NATO Should Be Obsolete (CD)
Hillary Clinton Still Refuses To Rule Out Running For President (PJW)
China Steps In As Conglomerate Unravels (WS)
Investors Urge Big Oil To Follow ‘Poster Child’ Repsol’s Climate Pledge (R.)
Tackling Degraded Oceans Could Mitigate Climate Crisis (G.)

 

 

Lots of US politics today. It feels inevitable.

First, the way, the seeming certainty, with which the Dems issued their report yesterday, does not rhyme with the move from impeachment to censure. If the “evidence” were as strong as they claim it is, we would not be where we are today. The Dems would not ponder ‘only’ censure, and the GOP would not be united.

‘Rumblings’ From Democrats On Censuring Trump Instead Of Impeachment (Hill)

CNN senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga said Tuesday that she’s hearing “rumblings” within the Democratic caucus that perhaps the party “should just go with censure” instead of trying to impeach President Trump. “You’re now hearing rumblings within, Democrats saying, ‘Maybe we should just go with censure,’ or not really knowing how to move forward on this given where the president is and given where Republicans are,” said Golodryga, who joined CNN after stints with ABC, CBS and Yahoo News. She pointed out that two weeks of public testimony on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine “did not move at all” the positions of Republicans ranging from moderates such as Rep. Will Hurd (Texas) to more vocal Trump defenders such as Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.).


“They said that they do not believe anything the president did was impeachable and, in fact, they seem to be protecting the president more than they were prior to these two weeks,” she said. Polls in 2020 battleground states indicate that voters aren’t fully sold on House Democrats’ impeachment efforts. Surveys taken in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin show an average of 51 percent opposing impeachment and 44 percent supporting it, according to a Tuesday Washington Post story.

Read more …

The probe so far has been clearly a partisan one, and that should never happen. What we’ve seen is opinions and interpretations, not facts.

Democrats Accuse Trump Of Abusing Power, Obstructing Impeachment Probe (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump solicited foreign interference to boost his re-election chances, undermined national security and ordered an “unprecedented” campaign to obstruct Congress, Democrats said on Tuesday in a report that lawmakers will use as the basis of any formal impeachment charges. In the 300-page report, Democrats leading the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee leveled allegations of sweeping abuse of power by Trump, saying he used U.S. military aid and the prospect of a White House visit to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to undertake investigations that would benefit Trump politically. Republican Trump, who will stand for re-election in November 2020, denies any wrongdoing and calls the inquiry a hoax.

The heart of the impeachment probe is whether Trump misused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election. The public release of the report is a milestone in a weeks-long investigation into whether Trump should be removed from office over his dealings on Ukraine. It summarizes hours of private testimony and televised hearings in which former government officials described a months-long effort to pressure Ukraine to carry out the investigations sought by Trump in July.

The report’s completions hands the process over to the House Judiciary Committee, which will now be responsible for drafting actual articles of impeachment should lawmakers decide to move forward. That panel will begin proceedings on Wednesday. In the report, Democrats detail accusations that Trump obstructed their investigation, including refusing to provide documents and testimony from his top advisers, unsuccessful attempts to block career government officials from testifying and intimidation of witnesses. The Democrats argue that “damage … will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked.”

Making their case to move forward with impeachment, the report said that “any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.” In a news conference, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff described Trump as a “president who believes that he is beyond indictment, beyond impeachment, beyond any form of accountability and indeed above the law.”

Read more …

Gloves off.

Trump Unloads On ‘Maniac’ Adam Schiff: ‘He’s A Deranged Human Being’ (Fox)

President Trump tore into Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in harsh terms on Tuesday, taking a moment from his overseas tour in London to call the House Intelligence Committee chairman a “maniac” and a “deranged human being” over his handling of the impeachment inquiry. Trump was speaking to reporters alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of a NATO summit, when he was asked what he would hope to learn from having Schiff testify in a possible Senate impeachment trial – a scenario some Republicans would like to see. “I learn nothing from Adam Schiff, I think he’s a maniac,” Trump said. “I think Adam Schiff is a deranged human being. I think he grew up with a complex for lots of reasons that are obvious. I think he’s a very sick man, and he lies.”

The comments demonstrated how the impeachment fight has followed Trump even as he meets with world leaders in London on issues ranging from defense spending to ISIS. Trump focused Tuesday on a controversial move by Schiff in September, where he read out a hyperbolic account of Trump’s controversial July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “I have a favor I want from you,” Schiff said in a hearing while appearing to read from a piece of paper. “And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that.” Schiff later chalked up his fictional summary of the phone call to a joke as he came under fire from conservatives for making up quotes.

“My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least, part, in parody,” Schiff said. “The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving in not so many words.” Trump has repeatedly criticized Schiff for the move. “This guy is sick,” he said on Tuesday. “If he didn’t do that in the halls of Congress, he’d be thrown in jail.”

Read more …

“..a $435 million defamation suit ..” Wonder what CNN’s defense will be.

Nunes Sues CNN Over ‘Demonstrably False’ Ukraine Report (York)

Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has filed a $435 million defamation suit against CNN over a story that alleged Nunes met with a fired Ukrainian prosecutor in an effort to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The story — “Giuliani associate willing to tell Congress Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official to get dirt on Biden” — was published Nov. 22. It was based on the words of Joseph Bondy, the attorney for Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas, who worked closely with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in pursuing allegations of Ukrainian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election as well as allegations of corruption in Ukraine involving Biden’s son Hunter. Parnas is currently under indictment on campaign finance charges.

CNN reported that Bondy said Parnas was “willing to tell Congress” that in December 2018, Nunes traveled to Vienna to meet with Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor who was famously fired in 2016 under pressure from the United States, represented by Biden, who said Shokin did not do enough to prosecute corruption in Ukraine. CNN cited congressional travel records showing Nunes and a few aides traveled to Europe between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3, 2018. Quoting Bondy, the CNN report said, “Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December.” Shortly after the report was published, Nunes said it was “demonstrably false” but declined to elaborate. In the lawsuit, Nunes has provided the details.

Nunes did travel between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3. The lawsuit says that on those dates, Nunes was in Libya and Malta. Nunes traveled to Libya to “discuss security issues with General Khalifa Haftar,” the suit says. In Malta, Nunes “met with U.S. and Maltese officials, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and participated in a repatriation ceremony for the remains of an American World War II soldier missing in action,” according to the suit. The lawsuit provides photos of Nunes with Haftar, with Muscat, and at the repatriation ceremony. “[Nunes] was not in Vienna in December 2018,” the suit says. “Further, he has never met Shokin; never spoken to Shokin; and never communicated with Shokin.”

Read more …

Chris Farrell is a former counterintelligence case officer.

“The alternative to a purely domestic intelligence operation targeting a major political party’s candidate for the presidency (and later, president) was to manufacture a foreign counterintelligence (FCI) “threat” that could then be “imported” back into the United States.”

Durham Needs to Bring Indictments (Farrell)

The seditious coup plotters working against Trump knew the legal prohibitions on what they planned to do. How to target Trump & Co. in a “legal” manner? Was it possible, or more importantly, desirable, to have a legal finding from Attorney General Loretta Lynch justifying their plan to frame-up Trump & Co.? That would authorize their operation — but would Lynch support it? Could Lynch be counted on? Did they want a piece of paper like that floating around Washington D.C.? No, there had to be a better way to pull off the coup. The alternative to a purely domestic intelligence operation targeting a major political party’s candidate for the presidency (and later, president) was to manufacture a foreign counterintelligence (FCI) “threat” that could then be “imported” back into the United States.

Plausible deniability, the Holy Grail of covert activities, was in reach for the plotters if they could develop an FCI operation outside the continental United States (OCONUS) involving FBI confidential human sources (Halper, Mifsud, others?) that would act as “lures” (intelligence jargon associated with double agent operations) to ensnare Trump associates. We have evidence of these machinations from December 2015 when FBI lawyer Lisa Page texts to her boyfriend, the now infamous FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, “You get all our oconus lures approved? ;).” To inoculate themselves from further charges of misconduct and criminality, the FBI’s mutually agreed upon lie is that their investigation of Trump/Russia began on July 31, 2016 with the improbable name “Crossfire Hurricane.”

That coincides nicely with their manufactured FCI “event,” allowing the full-bore sabotage of all things and persons “Trump.” The coup plotters used a July 2016 event at the University of Cambridge as the opportunity for Carter Page to meet and develop a friendship with Stefan Halper. This is roughly the same time period that Australian diplomat Alexander Downer reported the supposedly drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos concerning the Russians having Hillary’s emails to the FBI. Papadopoulos had already serendipitously met the mysterious Joseph Mifsud in Rome during the second week of March 2016. Learning that Papadopoulos would be joining the Trump campaign, Mifsud let Papadopoulos know that he had many important connections with Russian government officials.

Read more …

Why did the FBO fire Strzok? And how does that make Lisa Page’s claims look?

Trump Says Barr Was Misquoted Regarding Horowitz (SAC)

A recent report by the New York Times said former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered documents associated with the FISA application on Carter Page. The paper described Clinesmith as a low-level lawyer with the bureau and suggested that Horowitz won’t be hard the bureau’s handling of the case. The description of Clinesmith as a low-level lawyer is also in dispute, as Clinesmith was part of former Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into Trump and he was an attorney with the FBI’s National Security and Cyber Law Branch. He also worked under FBI General Counsel James Baker, who left the FBI and is now under investigation for leaking national security related information. Clinesmith, who sent numerous anti-Trump texts, also worked for Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson.

On Sunday, former FBI Lawyer Lisa Page, whose name became national after reports revealed she was having an affair with FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, spoke to the Daily Beast after years of silence. She said she had to speak out because Trump made her a target of his Tweets and speeches. The FBI fired Strzok last year and Page has since left the bureau. Strzok and Page sent thousands of text messages to one another during their affair. Many of the text messages discovered by Horowitz and Congress were vehemently anti-Trump. The discovery of the texts led to their removal from Mueller’s investigation.

Here’s some texts: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page texted Strzok in August 2016, during the investigation into the campaign. “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded. In another text message sent in August by Strzok to Page, he “I want to believe the path you threw out in Andy’s [McCabe’s] office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take the risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” Page only told Molly Jong-Fast, also anti-Trump and a columnist from the Daily Beast, that people misunderstood their text messages but she never clarified what she and Strzok actually meant.

Read more …

“NATO is a Cold War relic that accounts for three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing around the globe.”

Frank Zappa: “Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex”

Trump Was Right Before He Was Wrong: NATO Should Be Obsolete (CD)

The three smartest words that Donald Trump uttered during his presidential campaign are “NATO is obsolete.” His adversary, Hillary Clinton, retorted that NATO was “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world.” Now that Trump has been in power, the White House parrots the same worn line that NATO is “the most successful Alliance in history, guaranteeing the security, prosperity, and freedom of its members.” But Trump was right the first time around: Rather than being a strong alliance with a clear purpose, this 70-year-old organization that is meeting in London on December 4 is a stale military holdover from the Cold War days that should have gracefully retired many years ago.

[..] While claiming to “preserve peace,” NATO has a history of bombing civilians and committing war crimes. In 1999, NATO engaged in military operations without UN approval in Yugoslavia. Its illegal airstrikes during the Kosovo War left hundreds of civilians dead. And far from the “North Atlantic,” NATO joined the United States in invading Afghanistan in 2001, where it is still bogged down two decades later. In 2011, NATO forces illegally invaded Libya, creating a failed state that caused masses of people to flee. Rather than take responsibility for these refugees, NATO countries have turned back desperate migrants on the Mediterranean Sea, letting thousands die.

[..] In an age where people around the world want to avoid war and to focus instead on the climate chaos that threatens future life on earth, NATO is an anachronism. It now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing around the globe. Instead of preventing war, it promotes militarism, exacerbates global tensions and makes war more likely. This Cold War relic shouldn’t be reconfigured to maintain U.S. domination in Europe, or to mobilize against Russia or China, or to launch new wars in space. It should not be expanded, but disbanded. Seventy years of militarism is more than enough.

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Her people are polling like crazy, and they don’t like what they see so far.

Hillary Clinton Still Refuses To Rule Out Running For President (PJW)

Hillary Clinton is still refusing to rule out running for president despite already missing the filing deadline for the New Hampshire primary. During an appearance on Britain’s Graham Norton Show, Clinton was again asked about her presidential aspirations. Clinton was quizzed as to why she included a story about a U.S. women’s soccer star who retired on the tagline “forget me.” Hillary said the intention of the words were to “make way for new people” and “get off the stage.” However, when asked by Norton, “Are you saying ‘Forget me’ now?” – Hillary responded, “Not yet.” She then said she was aware of the presidential rumor mill and had been “deluged” with questions about running again.


“Right now, I’m not, at all, uh, you know, planning that, I’d have to make up my mind really quickly,” she said, “because it’s moving very fast.” Back in October, long time Clinton advisor Dick Morris insisted that Hillary will become the Democratic nominee because she believes “she was put on Earth to be President.” “Make no mistake. She wants it,” said Morris. “She’s planning on it. She’ll do everything she can to achieve it.” Earlier that month, Clinton teased another presidential run, despite having already failed twice, telling PBS Newshour, “Obviously I can beat him again.” She also fanned the flames of speculation when she tweeted at Trump, “Don’t tempt me.”

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“..the Chinese government has been stepping in and pulling all kinds of levers, with huge sums involved, to bail out the airlines and assorted investors, moral hazard be damned.”

China Steps In As Conglomerate Unravels (WS)

HNA Group, the highly-leverage Chinese conglomerate with an opaque ownership structure that had gone on an immense debt-fueled global acquisition binge, including in the US, and owned about 18 airlines in China and Hong Kong, has been unraveling ever since Bank of American pulled the ripcord in mid-2017. But to prevent this unraveling from becoming too messy and to prevent the airlines from collapsing on top of the markets they serve, and to prevent investors and lenders from getting whacked by massive and well-deserved losses – well-deserved because they had been backing a nutty global acquisition binge – the Chinese government has been stepping in and pulling all kinds of levers, with huge sums involved, to bail out the airlines and assorted investors, moral hazard be damned.

The latest is HNA-controlled Hong Kong Airlines, the city’s third largest airline. The bailout is unfolding right now, amid uncertainties if it will actually unfold, and how much of the bailout money HNA Holdings, the parent company of multiple to-be-bailed-out airlines, will even channel to Hong Kong Airlines. The debt-fueled binge by HNA Group bagged 30 acquisitions in the two-year span between mid-2015 and May 2017, including large real estate deals, such as the $2.2 billion trophy office tower in Manhattan, a 25% stake in Hilton Hotels, a deviously obtained 9.9% stake in Deutsche Bank, the $6 billion acquisition of Ingram Micro in California, and forays into global aircraft leasing and global airport services. In addition, HNA Group owned outright or controlled 18 airlines mostly in China and Hong Kong before it all began to unravel.

Financial pressures began in 2017. In 2018, as the company began to run out of money, it started dumping some of its acquisitions to raise cash, including big batches of its stake in Deutsche Bank, office properties in Manhattan and in London, but that wasn’t enough. It’s never enough once a conglomerate starts unraveling because there is too much debt. Rather than allowing this monster to collapse and then sort through the debris, the Chinese government has stepped with series of bailout via its state-owned banking system, and has been restructuring the debts, and has been transferring ownership of bailed-out airlines to participating local governments, including Urumqi Air, Capital Airlines, and Guangxi Beibu Gulf Airlines.

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Zero emission oil companies. Reminds me of that trick where the lady is sawed in half.

According to EIA, so far in 2019:
– About 94% of the energy used in the transportation sector was petroleum (including natural gas)
– About 0.094% was electricity (despite the sharp increase in sales of #ElectricVehicles)

Investors Urge Big Oil To Follow ‘Poster Child’ Repsol’s Climate Pledge (R.)

Investors cheered Spanish group Repsol’s pledge to slash net carbon emissions to zero by mid-century, saying they hope it will pile pressure on rival oil and gas companies to follow suit in the fight against climate change. The world’s top oil and gas companies are under heavy pressure, not only from environmental groups but also from institutional investors, to fall in line with targets set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming. Repsol on Monday became the first leading energy firm to commit to a net-zero emission target, outdoing Royal Dutch Shell that had set out an ambition to halve emissions by 2050.

“It is clear that this is a very significant commitment from Repsol that raises the bar across the oil and gas sector,” said Adam Matthews, Director for Ethics and Engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board, who co-led discussion between a major group of investors with Shell on a climate resolution last year. Several companies set short-term targets to reduce emissions by limiting gas leaks and burning of excess gas, but none have set out long-term reduction targets before Repsol. “We have been pressing fossil fuel companies to commit to align with a net zero emissions pathway by 2050 for some time. It is good to see Repsol showing this leadership, including clear milestones along the way,” said Natasha Landell-Mills, head of stewardship, Sarasin & Partners. “In the end, shareholders need to know their companies are looking forward, not back, when it comes to the energy transition.”

[..] Repsol’s targets encompass 95% of all its emissions, including from fuels sold to clients. It also wrote down 4.8 billion euros ($5.3 billion) in the value of its oil and gas assets to reflect its lower oil and gas price outlook. Net-zero targets are generally expected to be achieved by offsetting emissions through investments in carbon storage technology or in natural sinks such as forests. Companies are also increasing production of natural gas, the least polluting fossil fuel, as well as renewable power such as solar and wind, whose consumption is expected to jump in coming decades as demand for electricity grows.

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So we could and would keep killing everything in the oceans if not for the climate? I don’t like the reasoning nor the priorities. We should stop the killing for the oceans’ sake, not our own narrow ones. We should learn to like beauty.

Tackling Degraded Oceans Could Mitigate Climate Crisis (G.)

Halting overfishing and the plastic pollution of the oceans could help tackle the climate emergency by improving the degraded state of the world’s biggest carbon sink, a report has found. The oceans absorb both the excess heat generated by our greenhouse gas emissions, and absorb carbon dioxide itself, helping to reduce the impacts of climate chaos. But we are rapidly reaching the limits of the oceans’ absorptive capacity as our pillage of marine life is disrupting vital ecosystems and the natural carbon cycle. Creating ocean sanctuaries and forging a new treaty to protect the oceans, with a target of safeguarding at least 30% of the oceans by 2030, could restore many areas to health and combat global heating, according to the report entitled Hot Water: the climate crisis and the urgent need for ocean protection, published by Greenpeace International on Wednesday.

Phytoplankton such as algae, for instance, transform dissolved carbon dioxide into organic carbon, which then forms part of the food chain. Gradually some of this sinks to the sea bottom where it is buried in sediment. Without the biological carbon pump that this entails concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere today would be about 50% higher, according to estimates cited in the report. Krill – a species of small fish – also form a vital part of the carbon cycle in the seas as they move through levels of the ocean, and play a big role in the diet of larger species. But krill populations have been in long-term decline since the 1970s due to pollution, overfishing and climate change.

Marine life at the other end of the scale also plays an important role. Large baleen whales are estimated to store 910m tonnes less carbon than they did before commercial whaling began, Greenpeace noted, while working to rebuild key whale populations would remove 160,000 tonnes of carbon every year. “The ocean’s biology is one of our best allies in the fight against climate change,” said Louisa Casson, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK. “But over-exploitation and our addiction to fossil fuels have pushed our ocean to the brink of collapse. Ocean protection is climate action – if we can save our ocean, it can save us.”

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