Jan 012021
 
 January 1, 2021  Posted by at 10:23 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Claude Monet Boulevard des Capucines 1873

 

Pfizer Vaccine First To Receive Emergency Use Authorization From WHO (RT)
New Coronavirus Variant May Have Been In US Since October (G.)
The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb (Atl.)
World Faces COVID19 “Vaccine Apartheid” (IC)
Over 100 Republicans Will Challenge Electoral College Results (SAC)
Pence Asks Judge To End GOP Suit To Expand His Powers (JTN)
‘Keep The Light On,’ Scottish PM Sturgeon Tells EU (RT)
A Festive Message for 2021 (Varoufakis)
The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange (Greenwald)

 

 

 

 

But what does it do? It doesn’t protect you from infection, and it doesn’t protect others around you from your infection.

Pfizer Vaccine First To Receive Emergency Use Authorization From WHO (RT)

The first vaccine against the novel coronavirus approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization is Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA one produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, the WHO has announced. The world health body announced the emergency approval on Thursday, as 2020 came to a close. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) will enable countries to expedite their own regulatory approval of the vaccine, and allow UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to buy it for distribution, the WHO said. “This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to [Covid]-19 vaccines,” Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO’s assistant-Director General for access to medicines and health products, said in a statement. She added that “an even greater global effort” is needed to come up with enough of a supply to meet the needs of “priority populations everywhere,” however. The WHO is “working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards,” said Simão, urging other developers to “come forward for review and assessment.”

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There are multiple variants.

New Coronavirus Variant May Have Been In US Since October (G.)

A coronavirus variant carrying some of the same mutations as the highly contagious British variant may have been in the US since October and already be widespread, a re-analysis of more than 2m tests suggests. Genome sequencing to confirm whether the variant observed in Americans is the same as the so-called B117 variant currently circulating in the UK is under way. Results are expected within days but the revelations have prompted fresh questions about where the altered virus originated, including a small possibility that it began in the US, not the UK, or elsewhere altogether. The variant has also been found in at least 17 countries, including South Korea, Spain, Australia and Canada.

“It wouldn’t be at all surprising if at least some of the cases were B117,” said Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, who was not involved in the research, but whose team confirmed a Californian case of the B117 variant on Wednesday. “It has probably been here for a while at low levels – but you don’t see it until you look for it.” The existence of a new and highly transmissible Sars CoV-2 variant was announced by the UK’s health secretary on 14 December, after Covid-testing laboratories reported that a growing number of their positive samples were missing a signal from one of the three genes their PCR tests use to confirm the presence of the virus.

Further sequencing revealed that such “S gene dropout” was the result of mutations in the gene encoding the spike protein which the virus uses to gain entry to human cells. The variant is thought to have been circulating in the UK since September. News of the new variant has led to multiple countries restricting travel from the UK – or in the case of the US, requiring travelers to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed into the country. However, it has been detected this week in Colorado and California, and the suspicion is it may already be widespread. To investigate, scientists at the California-based DNA testing company Helix examined the prevalence of S gene dropout among 2 million of the Covid tests the company has processed in recent months.

They observed an increase in S gene dropout among positive samples since early October, when 0.25% of positive tests exhibited this pattern. This has since grown, hitting 0.5% on average last week – although in Massachusetts, which has the highest number of such samples, it currently stands at 1.85%, although no cases of the B117 variant have been announced in that state yet. Further analysis revealed mutations in some of the same regions of the S gene which are also present in the B117 variant – although full sequencing of the viral genome is needed to confirm whether this is indeed the same variant, or something else.

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A lot of assumptions.

The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb (Atl.)

A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the globe. It was first identified in the United Kingdom, where it is rapidly spreading, and has been found in multiple countries. Viruses mutate all the time, often with no impact, but this one appears to be more transmissible than other variants—meaning it spreads more easily. Barely one day after officials announced that America’s first case of the variant had been found in the United States, in a Colorado man with no history of travel, an additional case was found in California. There are still many unknowns, but much concern has focused on whether this new variant would throw off vaccine efficacy or cause more severe disease—with some degree of relief after an initial study indicated that it did not do either.

And while we need more data to feel truly reassured, many scientists believe that this variant will not decrease vaccine efficacy much, if at all. Health officials have started emphasizing the lack of evidence for more severe disease. All good and no cause for alarm, right? Wrong. A more transmissible variant of COVID-19 is a potential catastrophe in and of itself. If anything, given the stage in the pandemic we are at, a more transmissible variant is in some ways much more dangerous than a more severe variant. That’s because higher transmissibility subjects us to a more contagious virus spreading with exponential growth, whereas the risk from increased severity would have increased in a linear manner, affecting only those infected.

Increased transmissibility can wreak havoc in a very, very short time—especially when we already have uncontrolled spread in much of the United States. The short-term implications of all this are significant, and worthy of attention, even as we await more clarity from data. In fact, we should act quickly especially as we await more clarity—lack of data and the threat of even faster exponential growth argue for more urgency of action. If and when more reassuring data come in, relaxing restrictions will be easier than undoing the damage done by not having reacted in time.

To understand the difference between exponential and linear risks, consider an example put forth by Adam Kucharski, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who focuses on mathematical analyses of infectious-disease outbreaks. Kucharski compares a 50 percent increase in virus lethality to a 50 percent increase in virus transmissibility. Take a virus reproduction rate of about 1.1 and an infection fatality risk of 0.8 percent and imagine 10,000 active infections—a plausible scenario for many European cities, as Kucharski notes. As things stand, with those numbers, we’d expect 129 deaths in a month. If the fatality rate increased by 50 percent, that would lead to 193 deaths. In contrast, a 50 percent increase in transmissibility would lead to a whopping 978 deaths in just one month—assuming, in both scenarios, a six-day infection-generation time.

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Billions in profits.

World Faces COVID19 “Vaccine Apartheid” (IC)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recently heaped praise on “the almost 44,000 people who selflessly raised their hands to participate in our trial.” “Each of you has helped to bring the world one step closer to our shared goal of a potential vaccine to fight this devastating pandemic,” Bourla wrote in an open letter to volunteers who took part in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine research, which was conducted in Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, and Turkey as well as the U.S. His letter was published on November 9, the same day Pfizer announced that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective at preventing the disease, and Bourla laid this considerable accomplishment at the feet of the medical volunteers: “You are the true heroes, and the whole world owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

But Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey will have to be satisfied with Pfizer’s gratitude, because (like most countries in the world) they won’t be receiving enough of the vaccine to inoculate their populations, at least not anytime soon. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Germany — along with Canada and the rest of the European Union — have contracted for enough doses of various Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate their populations several times over. While the U.S. is struggling with the logistics of its vaccine rollout — fewer than 3 million people have received the first dose so far — adequate supplies should eventually be available. The U.S. pre-purchased 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for $1.95 billion in the summer (and reportedly passed on the opportunity to secure another 100 million doses).

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a deal to buy another 100 million doses of the vaccine by July 2021, and the government has the option to purchase an additional 400 million doses. The U.S. has also purchased 200 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is also extremely effective against Covid-19. Those doses are due by the second quarter of 2021, and the government may buy up to 300 million more doses. And the U.S. has contracts for additional vaccine doses from Ology, Sanofi, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, whose candidates are in earlier stages of development.

Pharmaceutical companies and individual executives are already profiting handsomely from their medical breakthroughs. On the same day that he sent his open letter, Bourla, whose net worth is estimated at more than $26 million, sold more than $5 million worth of his shares of Pfizer stock. Pfizer has already made an estimated $975 million from the vaccine this year and is expected to earn another $19 billion in revenue from the vaccine in 2021, according to Morgan Stanley. Pfizer’s profit margin on the vaccine is estimated at between 60 and 80 percent. Moderna is projected to make more than $10 billion from its vaccine next year.

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Of course they will.

Over 100 Republicans Will Challenge Electoral College Results (SAC)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Wednesday he believes more than 100 members of the GOP could challenge the Electoral College results when Congress certifies the electoral votes on Jan. 6. During an interview with Charlie Sykes on “The Bulwark Podcast,” Kinzinger said he thinks “upwards of 100” GOP lawmakers could challenge the Nov. 3 election results. “I hope I’m wrong,” Kinzinger said. “I’m guessing it could be upwards of 100.” He added, “I’m just over the undermining of democracy and the frankly massive damage that’s being done with this.” Joe Biden is expected to be certified as the 2020 presidential winner, but President Donald Trump has not conceded and is encouraging members of the GOP to challenge the results.


There has been an increasing number of GOP lawmakers who have said they will support Trump’s effort in overturning the election results, including most recently Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.)
“Somebody has to stand up here,” Hawley said in an interview with Fox News Wednesday. “You’ve got 74 million Americans who feel disenfranchised, who feel like their vote doesn’t matter, and this is the one opportunity that I have as a United States senator, this process right here, my one opportunity to stand up and say something and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

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“An 1887 federal law known as the Electoral Count Act has the vice president presiding over the congressional meeting. However the suit led by Gohmert tries to invalidate the law as an unconstitutional constraint on the vice president’s authority..”

Pence Asks Judge To End GOP Suit To Expand His Powers (JTN)

Vice President Mike Pence asked a federal judge Thursday to reject an attempt by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and other congressional Republicans to expand Pence’s official powers to allow him to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. The lawsuit was filed earlier this week and attempts to expand Pence’s role in Congress’ meeting Wednesday to count states’ electoral votes and certify Biden’s victory over Trump, according to The Hill newspaper. Pence argued in a filing Thursday to U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle that he was not the correct defendant to the suit.


“A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction,” a Justice Department attorney wrote in the filing, The Hill also reported. An 1887 federal law known as the Electoral Count Act has the vice president presiding over the congressional meeting. However the suit led by Gohmert tries to invalidate the law as an unconstitutional constraint on the vice president’s authority to choose among competing claims of victory when state-level election results are disputed. Republicans in several key battleground states have disputed Biden’s win and offered alternate “slates” of pro-Trump electors to be counted, also according to The Hill.

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WIll the UK fall apart next?

‘Keep The Light On,’ Scottish PM Sturgeon Tells EU (RT)

Within minutes of Brexit taking effect, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a message to Brussels that Scotland would be rejoining the EU “soon,” responding to recent demand for another independence referendum. “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on,” Sturgeon said as the clock struck midnight in Brussels and the UK’s exit from the European Union became official on Friday. The United Kingdom’s divorce from the continental bloc after 45 years of membership was the result of a protracted process following the 2016 referendum, which the Tory government expected would fail. Instead, a narrow majority in England and Wales backed Brexit, while Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain – by 62 percent to 38 percent.

Sturgeon came to lead the Scottish National Party (SNP) after the failure of the first Scottish independence referendum, in 2014. Only 45 percent of Scots voted to leave the UK, with 55 percent choosing to remain, in part due to warnings from Brussels that an independent Scotland would not automatically become an EU member and would have to negotiate entry from scratch. That ratio has now been reversed, according to recent polls. Research by Ipsos MORI in October indicated that support for Scottish independence was at 58 percent – an all-time high. Other polls show support for secession at anywhere between 51 and 59 percent.

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“Because things are the way they are, things will not remain the way they are.”

A Festive Message for 2021 (Varoufakis)

I am Yanis Varoufakis with a message for the New Year from DiEM25. 2020 leaves behind much debris – pain, fear, broken lives, smashed dreams. But, we also owe a debt of gratitude to 2020: It has helped expose seven fundamental secrets. We used to think of governments as powerless. But since Covid-19 struck we know better: Governments have stupendous powers that they hitherto chose not to use, deferring to the exorbitant power of Big Business. Yes, the money-trey does exist after all. Except, of course, that is only harvested by the powerful on behalf of the oligarchy: Money created by the rich for the rich. Solvency is a political decision because power-politics, not markets, decide who is bankrupt and who is not.

Wealth has nothing to do with hard work or entrepreneurship. America’s billionaires made 931 billion dollars from the pandemic. They got richer in their sleep. Yes, 2020 was a vintage year for capitalists, but capitalism died! Liberated from any remaining competition, colossal platform companies like Amazon own everything. So, yes, during 2020, Capitalism morphed into an insidious Technofeudalism. Our Europe, its civilisation and power notwithstanding, continued to sell its soul in 2020. One word suffices: Moria, the refuges prison camp in Lesbos – a mirror reflecting Europe’s cruelty and lost soul.


Yes, it has been a difficult year. We lost too many people to the pandemic. We saw exploitation flourish, driving so many into the embrace of destitution. Civil liberties took a major hit. But, despite it all, 2020 let us in on a brilliant, hope-inspiring seventh secret: Everything could be different. If this pandemic proved anything, it is that Bertolt Brecht was right when he once said: Because things are the way they are, things will not remain the way they are. I can think of no greater source of hope than this. We must thank 2020 for it. Now, it is up to us to make 2021 a year of radical change in the interests of the many. Everywhere! Happy New Year and Carpe DiEM25!

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Assange may be in prison for many more years. Monday’s a big day. But after that, appeals are sure to follow.

The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange (Greenwald)

Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class. Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce. And if they do so, they will not even realize, or at least not care, and may even regard as justifiable, that those who refuse this Orwellian bargain they have embraced (“freedom” in exchange for submission) are crushed with unlimited force.


Those who do not seek to meaningfully dissent or subvert power will usually deny — because they do not perceive — that such dissent and subversion are, in fact, rigorously prohibited. They will continue to believe blissfully that the society in which they live guarantees core civic freedoms — of speech, of press, of assembly, of due process — because they have rendered their own speech and activism, if it exists at all, so innocuous that nobody with the capacity to do so would bother to try to curtail it. The observation apocryphally attributed to socialist activist Rosa Luxemburg, imprisoned for her opposition to German involvement in World War I and then summarily executed by the state, expresses it best: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

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Dec 312020
 
 December 31, 2020  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Portrait of the artist’s mother 1896

 

Russia Is Developing World’s First Covid19 Antidote, 99% Effective (RT)
China Approves Sinopharm Covid19 Vaccine For General Use (G.)
New COVID19 Strain Spreading Faster Than All Forecasts – Irish PM (R.)
Senate Democrats’ Motion To Concede On $2,000 Checks (DP)
The Pseudo-Left Imperialists Fighting Against Universal Healthcare (MPN)
Intel On China Bounties Called ‘Less’ Credible Than Russia Payments (Pol.)
Trump Campaign Wants To Air Evidence Before Congress Certifies Election (JTN)
GOP Senator To Delay Affirming Biden Victory By Forcing Votes (CNN)
Putin Signs Law To Fine & Block Social Media That Censor Russian Media (RT)
The Year in Which Comforting American Myths Were Ravaged (AIER)
Inviting Nuclear Disaster (CP)

 

 

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for your support.

 

 

The end of the vaccines?

Russia Is Developing World’s First Covid19 Antidote, 99% Effective (RT)

Russia’s Federal Medical and Biological Agency (FMBA) has announced the development of a drug to fight against Covid-19, which would become the world’s first direct-acting antiviral antidote if clinical trials are successful.
According to Veronika Skvortsova, the head of FMBA, studies thus far have shown it is more than 99% effective. “This is the first etiotropic drug that directly affects the virus. In fact, this is an antidote for coronavirus infection,” she informed Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Wednesday, noting that preclinical studies have been completed, which have shown the remedy to be “completely safe” and “highly efficient.” Etiotropic means that the treatment is directed against the cause of a disease.

Skvortsova told the prime minister that the FMBA is ready to apply for permission for further testing, which they hope to get before the New Year. “If clinical trials confirm the effectiveness of this drug, it will be the first safe, effective, direct-acting antiviral drug that has no analogs in the world,” she explained. The FMBA is also working on a separate drug for the treatment of the most complex coronavirus cases, which suppresses and prevents a physiological reaction called ‘hypercytokinemia’. Also known as a ‘cytokine storm’, it is an immune response that leads to body tissue damage, and is thought by some to be causing Covid-19 deaths.

In May, the Russian Ministry of Health approved an anti-coronavirus drug called ‘Avifavir’, a Favipiravir-based treatment that has been used in Japan since 2014 against severe forms of influenza. The medication is being produced domestically. If effective, the antidote won’t be Russia’s only breakthrough during the Covid-19 crisis. Earlier this year, Russia became the first country to announce the registration of a coronavirus vaccine named Sputnik V. After trials, it was revealed to be 95 percent effective in producing antibodies after 40 days.

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“The vaccines have not been trialled in China because the virus is not prevalent enough..”

China Approves Sinopharm Covid19 Vaccine For General Use (G.)

China’s health authorities have approved a Covid vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm for general use on the population, the government has announced. At a press conference in Beijing a state taskforce announced the vaccine had exceeded World Health Organization standards and would help establish effective immunity in China. Health officials said vulnerable groups would be prioritised ahead of the general population. Key groups have already been receiving vaccines under emergency approvals, including about a million receiving the Sinopharm vaccine. Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the national health commission, said it was aiming for 60-70% vaccination coverage, which was expected to establish herd immunity.

“As the Chinese vaccine is proved to be safe and effective, we would like to encourage our people to participate on a voluntary and informed basis, and with consent,” he said. The officials did not give specific dates but said the rollout would begin “soon” at a “significantly reduced” cost. Zheng Zhongwei, head of the vaccine research and development working group, said the vaccine was a public good and the cost of production was “the only basis for pricing”. Zeng then added that the vaccine “must be provided free of charge for all people”, and state media subsequently reported that the vaccine will be free. Sinopharm is a state-owned pharmaceutical company with two vaccine candidates among China’s five experimental treatments in international final stage trials.

Public statements about Sinopharm vaccines do not appear to clarify which of the two candidates is being discussed. The approval followed an announcement on Wednesday by Sinopharm that phase 3 trials had found its vaccine to be 79% effective. This followed trials conducted in the UAE reporting 86% efficacy earlier in December. The vaccines have not been trialled in China because the virus is not prevalent enough, authorities say.

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How much of this is hyperbole?

New COVID19 Strain Spreading Faster Than All Forecasts – Irish PM (R.)

A new strain of COVID-19 that reached Ireland from the United Kingdom is spreading faster than the country’s most pessimistic forecasts, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Wednesday. “While international research for this new variant is ongoing, it is already very clear that we are dealing with a strain of the disease that spreads much, much more quickly,” Martin said in a televised address announcing a tightening of public-health restrictions for the next four weeks. “It is spreading at a rate that has surpassed the most pessimistic models available to us,” Martin said.

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“Democratic senators in fact provided the majority of the votes for the measure that lets the defense bill proceed without a vote on the $2,000 checks.”

Senate Democrats’ Motion To Concede On $2,000 Checks (DP)

It was always a possibility that Democrats would get too scared to halt a major Pentagon bill in order to help millions of Americans get $2,000 survival checks — in fact, as we wrote earlier this week, it was very likely that they would back down the moment any bad-faith critic so much as waved a flag and said “support the troops.” And capitulation became even more likely when Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, corporate Democratic pundits and billionaire-owned elite media outlets began parroting a series of eerily similar let-them-eat-cake talking points against the survival checks — which McConnell promptly used to bludgeon proponents of the bipartisan initiative.

But even appreciating all of this — and also knowing that many Democratic leaders still cling to an outdated austerity ideology — the sheer scale of Wednesday’s Democratic surrender was truly a sight to behold. And it probably ended the chance for more immediate aid to millions of Americans facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy. The day began with Sen. Bernie Sanders following through on his promise to deny unanimous consent for the Senate to advance a $740 billion defense authorization bill, until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows an up-or-down vote on legislation that would send $2,000 survival checks to individuals making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000.

Sanders’ move forced McConnell to ask the Senate to pass a formal motion to proceed on the defense bill, which would let Republicans move forward on the Pentagon priority without a vote on the $2,000 checks. The motion created the moment in which Democrats could have stood their ground and cornered the GOP leader. Instead, as Republicans saber rattled about the need to pass the defense bill, 41 Democrats obediently voted with McConnell, allowing him to move the defense bill forward without a vote on the checks. That included “yes” votes from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and vice-president elect Kamala Harris, the lead sponsor on a bill to give Americans monthly $2,000 checks during the pandemic. One day before her vote to help McConnell, Harris had called on the Republican leader to hold a vote on her legislation.

In the end, only six members of the Democratic Senate Caucus mustered the courage to vote against it — Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley and Ed Markey. Democratic senators in fact provided the majority of the votes for the measure that lets the defense bill proceed without a vote on the $2,000 checks. It was called a motion to proceed, but it really was a motion demanding Democrats concede — and they instantly obliged.

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The craziest claim of the year: “This is the guy who took Assad money!”

The Pseudo-Left Imperialists Fighting Against Universal Healthcare (MPN)

Over the past week comedian Jimmy Dore has single-handedly exposed a collection of self-styled leaders of progressive media as imperialist hacks joined at the hip with the Democratic Party and NATO. It all started when Dore, a self-described jagoff pothead comedian – called for progressive members of Congress to withhold their votes for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker until she agreed to hold a floor vote on Medicare for All. With a pandemic raging and Americans losing their jobs and healthcare, it seemed like the perfect way to hold Democrats’ feet to the fire. But Dore’s push apparently threatened the most prominent progressive in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

After she rejected his tactic in a series of tweets, deferring to the House Speaker she’s referred to lovingly as “Mama Bear,” a group of prominent podcasters sprang to her defense – and then launched a wave of personalized, vicious, and ultimately revealing attacks on Dore. Rather than debate the merits of his proposal, figures like Nomiki Konst, Ana Kasparian, Ben Dixon, and Cenk Uygur homed in on Dore’s personality, doing all they could to deflect from the substance of the issue, and insulating their hero AOC. The Youtube channel of longtime MSNBC contributor Sam Seder became a theater for the meltdown over Jimmy Dore’s rogue campaign for a M4A floor vote.

In the past week alone, Seder has done two lengthy segments devoted to smearing Jimmy Dore. During one 23 minute segment, podcaster and failed New York public advocate candidate Nomiki Konst launched a McCarthyite attack on Dore, accusing him of taking what she called “Assad money.” Nomiki Konst: “This is a clickbait game. There are hosts on air who want to make change. I think all of us are really concerned about educating our audience and bringing on informed people to help us understand everything, issues, and how to move through, and push for these changes. And then there are those who want to be multi-millionaires and famous. And you know, let’s just make those lines very clear. And not to mention, he has taken money, admitted to taking money, from pro-Assadist groups. So he’s not the pure guy that he wants to pretend… This is the guy who took Assad money!”

This was not just a neocon-style distraction, but a total lie. What Konst called Assad money had no relation to Assad. She was referring to a $2,500 donation from a U.S.-based anti-war nonprofit called the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees. It does relief work in Cuba, Palestine, and Syria, targets of Washington’s ruthless hybrid warfare. This non-profit has also organized openly against the devastating U.S. proxy war on Syria.

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Imagine if the US had a functioning media. We’d be rid of all this nonsense.

Intel On China Bounties Called ‘Less’ Credible Than Russia Payments (Pol.)

Allegations that China secretly offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troops are “less” credible than previous intelligence reports indicating that Russia embarked on a similar operation, according to a senior U.S. official. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien briefed President Donald Trump on the unconfirmed allegations on Dec. 17, according to two other senior administration officials. But they stressed that the intelligence, first reported by Axios on Wednesday, is uncorroborated. In fact, the intelligence is “very thin” — thinner even than reports that Russia offered payments to the Taliban to target U.S. and coalition troops, which were never corroborated, the first senior U.S. official told POLITICO.

The official went on to described the recent intelligence as “rumors” and lacking “hard evidence.” But the allegations involving Chinese operatives in Afghanistan are being handled very differently by Trump officials than the those involving Moscow earlier this year. Trump initially denounced media reports on the alleged Russian bounties, calling it a “hoax.” He said intelligence officials told him he was not briefed about those allegations at the time because they did not find them credible. The Russian allegations have since been largely dismissed. “It just wasn’t there,” said the senior U.S. official.

Yet O’Brien briefed Trump and members of the national security team on the most recent allegations of Chinese activity in Afghanistan on Dec. 17 and convened a National Security Council Policy Coordination Committee on the topic on Dec. 22, one senior administration official said. The U.S. “treats this intelligence with caution, but any intelligence or reports relating to the safety of U.S. forces is something we take very seriously,” said the official. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team will seek to learn “as much as we can about these allegations,” said a transition official, noting that the news is “another illustration of why we need full cooperation” from the Pentagon. Biden earlier this week accused Defense Department leadership of obstructing the transition.

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Last gasp?!

Trump Campaign Wants To Air Evidence Before Congress Certifies Election (JTN)

Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller during an interview on Newsmax TV expressed the hope that evidence pertaining to election-related issues will be shared directly with the American people next week. If a minimum of one member of each congressional chamber objects to the electoral vote returns of a state during a joint session of Congress presided over by the vice president on Jan. 6, each chamber will separately debate for up to two hours and then vote on the objection, according to the Congressional Research Service: “An objection to a state’s electoral vote must be approved by both houses in order for any contested votes to be excluded.”


During the interview Miller mentioned a lawsuit Rep. Louie Gohmert is involved in that Miller said argues that it “should be the vice president overseeing the Senate that should have the final say if a slate of electors are chosen. And so we hope that Congressman Gohmert will be successful in this and that we’re gonna actually have a chance in front of the American people next week to present these cases, all these evidences of fraud and really go and make sure that the American people see it so we can have full confidence in our elections,” Miller said. Miller mentioned during the interview multiple examples of election-related concerns. “These are the specific types of evidence that we want to be able to present to the American public on the national stage and not allow local politicians to sweep it under the rug,” he said.

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Just have the vote.

GOP Senator To Delay Affirming Biden Victory By Forcing Votes (CNN)

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said Wednesday he will object when Congress counts the Electoral College votes next week, which will force lawmakers in both the House and Senate to vote on whether to accept the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Hawley is the first senator to announce plans to object to the results, which is significant because both a House member and senator are required to mount an objection when Congress counts the Electoral College votes on January 6. The objection will not change the outcome of the election, only delaying the inevitable affirmation of Biden’s victory in November over President Donald Trump. Democrats will reject any objections in the House, and multiple Republican senators have argued against an objection that will provide a platform for Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories claiming the election was stolen from him.


Hawley’s objection, which other senators may still join, will also put many of his Senate Republican colleagues in a difficult political position, forcing them to vote on whether to side with Trump or with the popular will of the voters. Hawley told reporters Wednesday he alerted Senate Republican leadership of his plans before his announcement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately urged Senate Republicans not to join the group of House members who are planning to object. Senate Majority Whip John Thune argued against it publicly, prompting a rebuke from Trump on Twitter and the threat of a primary challenge. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican in Senate GOP leadership, acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that Republican leaders would rather their rank-and-file members not be forced to vote on challenges to the Electoral College ballots.

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Shouldn’t this be global?

Putin Signs Law To Fine & Block Social Media That Censor Russian Media (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved new legislation that could see foreign social media companies punished for discriminating against the country’s media outlets. This year, RT and Sputnik have been censored on Twitter. The bill explicitly forbids censorship based on reasons such as nationality, language, and origin, as well as “in connection with the introduction of political or economic sanctions against Russia.” Once found guilty, a foreign network, such as YouTube or Facebook, could be subject to sanctions in the form of fines, the slowing down of traffic, or even a complete block. Earlier this year, US tech giant Twitter took action against RT and other publicly-funded Russian media outlets, subjecting their accounts to a shadow ban. This means that they are now undiscoverable via the website’s search function.


As well as making tweets much harder to find, Twitter also labeled several Russian sources as “state-affiliated media,” despite not doing so for Western equivalents, such as America’s state-run RFE/RL and the British government-backed BBC. After the bill was proposed, President Putin noted that the country should not “shoot itself in the foot” with any retaliatory actions against foreign media, but it is “absolutely obvious and understandable to any sane person” that these companies are discriminating against Russian outlets. The law was introduced last month by a group of parliamentarians, including MP Alexander Khinshtein and Senator Aleksey Pushkov. According to Pushkov, the law wasn’t written with the aim of blocking the websites, but to introduce legal responsibility for censorship.

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“Broad population-wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.”

The Year in Which Comforting American Myths Were Ravaged (AIER)

Thanks in large part to Covid lockdowns, this year has left vast wreckage in its wake, with ten million jobs lost, more than 100,000 businesses and dozens of national chains bankrupted or closed. Up to 40 million people could face eviction in the coming months for failing to pay rent, and Americans report that their mental health is at record low levels. But the casualty list for 2020 must also include many of the political myths that shape Americans’ lives. Perhaps the biggest myth to die this year was that Americans’ constitutional rights are safeguarded by the Bill of Rights. After the Covid-19 pandemic began, governors in state after state effectively placed scores of millions of citizens under house arrest – dictates that former Attorney General Bill Barr aptly compared to “the greatest intrusion on civil liberties” since the end of slavery.

Politicians and government officials merely had to issue decrees, which were endlessly amended, in order to destroy citizens’ freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom of choice in daily life. Los Angeles earlier this month banned almost all walking and bicycling in the city, ordering four million people to “to remain in their homes” in a futile effort to banish a virus. The Rule of Law is another myth impaled by 2020’s dire developments. Courts have repeatedly struck down sweeping restrictions. Federal judge William Stickman IV invalidated some of Pennsylvania’s restrictions in a September ruling: “Broad population-wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.”

After the Michigan Supreme Court effectively labeled Governor Gretchen Whitmer a lawless dictator, she responded by issuing “new COVID-19 emergency orders that are nearly identical to her invalidated emergency orders,” as the Mackinac Center noted. How many governors and mayors have you seen on the television news being led away in handcuffs after their arrest for violating citizens’ rights this year? None. Another myth that 2020 obliterated was the notion that politicians spending more than a hundred billion dollars every year for science and public health would keep Americans safe. The Centers for Disease Control utterly botched the initial testing regime, sending out bogus tests to state and local health departments and taking a month and a half to do what the Thai government achieved in one day. The Food and Drug Administration helped turn the coronavirus from a deadly peril into a national catastrophe.

Long after foreign nations had been ravaged and many cases had been detected in America, the FDA continued blocking private testing. The FDA continued forcing the nation’s most innovative firms to submit to its command-and-control approach, notwithstanding the pandemic. The benevolence and compassion of public school teachers was another myth that 2020 obliterated. Teacher unions helped barricade school doors the same way that segregationist governors in the 1950s and 1960s refused to obey federal court orders to admit black students. The Chicago Teachers Union proclaimed: “The push to reopen schools is based in sexism, racism, and misogyny.”

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100 year-old reactors. Scary.

Inviting Nuclear Disaster (CP)

Nuclear power plants when they began being constructed were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. But in recent decades, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the operating licenses of nuclear power plants from 40 years to 60 years and then 80 years, and is now considering 100 years. “It is crazy,” declares Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy and a U.S. Senate senior investigator and now senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and is an author of the book Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

“No reactor in history has lasted that long,” commented Alvarez. The oldest nuclear power plant in the U.S. was Oyster Creek, five miles south of Toms River, New Jersey, which opened in 1969 and was shut down 49 years later in 2018. The move is “an act of desperation in response to the collapse of the nuclear program in this country and the rest of the world,” he declares. The nuclear industry and nuclear power advocates in government are “desperately trying to hold on,” says Alvarez. With hardly any new nuclear power plants being constructed in the U.S. and the total number down to 94, they seek to have the operating licenses of existing nuclear power plants extended, he says, to keep the nuclear industry alive. It’s a sign of “the end of the messy romance with nuclear power.”

[..] “There is no empirical evidence” to support the notion that nuclear plants can have a century-long life span, says Alvarez. There “is no penciling away the problems of age” of nuclear power plants which operate under high-pressure, high-heat conditions and are subject to radiation fatigue. “The reality of wear-and-tear can’t be wished away.” “Who would want to ride in a 100 year-old car?” he asks.

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Dec 232020
 


Edward Hopper Automat 1927

 

Trump Kicks COVID Bill Back To Congress; Demands $2,000 Stimulus (ZH)
Force The Vote On Direct Aid (DP)
Biden’s Austerity Zealotry Helped Cut The Stimulus Bill In Half (DP)
COVID19 Catch-22: Regime-Change Policies Come With US Pandemic Relief (GZ)
White House Memo Details How ‘Pence Card’ Can Save Trump Presidency (NF)
Growing Number Of GOP Lawmakers Back Electoral College Challenge (Hill)
Trump Pardons George Papadopoulos (DC)
WHO: New UK COVID19 Strain No Deadlier, Only Slightly More Infectious (RT)
America Is Now Ruled By People Older Than Soviet Union ‘Gerontocracy’ (RT)
Stalemate (Paul Edwards)
China Has Infiltrated America (Rickards)
Financial Warfare Is Real (Rickards)
UN Expert Melzer Asks US President Donald Trump To Pardon Julian Assange (UN)

 

 

Trump kicks the relief bill back to Congress and says he wants $2,000 checks. Everyone scrambles to react. Bernie campaigner David Sirota writes: “The question now: Will Pelosi, Schumer and Biden do everything in their power to call Trump’s bluff..?”. But what bluff? Saying the same thing as the squad is a bluff? And they can “call the bluff” only by agreeing with the man they’ve demonized for 4 years?

Trump has been talking about bigger checks for a long time. Was this a bluff that whole time? Amy Klobuchar tries her own private angle, and calls raising the stimulus to $2,000 per person “an attack on every American”. What? Is that also a bluff? At the end of the day, Trump and the Squad both want the same thing. All the rest are stuck in the middle.

And AOC tries to save the day, and her face, by saying the Squad had the proposals for $2,000 checks already written up.

Okay, explain where they went. How hard did you fight Pelosi etc. in order to get the exact same thing Trump wants?

Who’s calling whose bluff around here?

 

 

“Send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that administration will be me and we will get it done.”

Trump Kicks COVID Bill Back To Congress; Demands $2,000 Stimulus (ZH)

President Trump appeared to threaten to veto the COVID-19 stimulus package that Congress passed almost 24 hours earlier, telling lawmakers to boost checks for Americans to $2,000 as well as “get rid of wasteful and unnecessary items” in the spending bill. Trump said “throughout the summer, Democrats cruelly blocked COVID relief legislation in an effort to advance their extreme left wing agenda and influence the election…” “it’s taken forever” to get a package and the bill passed “is much different than anticipated.” “It really is a disgrace,” he added. Then reeled off a list of disgusting ‘pork’ that has been piled into this record-breaking 5,593 page bill.


As Axios notes, many of the items Trump listed, such as foreign aid, which were not related to COVID-19 are not part of the coronavirus relief package. These form part of the government funding bill, which was passed alongside the coronavirus relief package. Then he took a shot at Biden and the election. “Send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that administration will be me and we will get it done.”

Trump relief speech

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“Luckily for Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer — and for millions of people who need help — Trump is giving them one last chance to do the right thing..”

Force The Vote On Direct Aid (DP)

Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to veto emergency stimulus legislation unless lawmakers increased direct payments to millions of families facing the prospect of eviction, loss of health insurance, unemployment and starvation. Lawmakers had settled on meager one-time $600 checks but the president demanded $2,000 payments — a proposal that was championed months ago by congressional progressives but that was ignored by both parties’ legislative leaders. The declaration from the GOP president follows his other recent statements in support of bigger checks. The entire situation shows that Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders either could have driven a much tougher bargain in their negotiations over new COVID-19 relief legislation with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — or they actually deliberately prioritized austerity and didn’t want a bigger spending package in the first place.

Luckily for Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer — and for millions of people who need help — Trump is giving them one last chance to do the right thing and back a bolder version of the $1,200 direct payment proposal that Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have been pushing from the beginning of this most recent round of negotiations. In fact, seven months ago Sanders joined Sens. Kamala Harris, Ed Markey and Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing a bill to provide monthly $2,000 checks to individuals until the pandemic is over. (That’s not surprising, given that Sanders and the Congressional Progressive Caucus he led were the original authors of the first stimulus check of the modern era, way back in 2001.) The question now: Will Pelosi, Schumer and Biden do everything in their power to call Trump’s bluff and force a vote to increase the $600 checks to $2,000?

Pelosi clearly feels the heat — she is suddenly pretending she’s always been ready to take Trump up on his offer to support $2,000 survival checks, even though prior to about an hour ago, she had never tried to triangulate Trump against McConnell on the issue. Earlier this month, she supported a deal that did not include checks at all, and just yesterday she insisted that $600 checks were “significant.” Indeed, the $2,000 is a new ask for Democratic leaders — progressive lawmakers had been pushing it for months, but Pelosi’s much-touted HEROES Act only asked for $1,200 one-time, means-tested checks. Regardless, the Democratic House Speaker is now finally saying she wants a vote to amend the stimulus bill to increase the small $600 checks to $2,000 — and such an amendment has already been written by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.

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“That last line of Biden’s statement is arguably the most disturbing foreshadow of all: He is depicting the process — which starved America for months and now skimps on benefits — as a terrific “model” for the future.”

Biden’s Austerity Zealotry Helped Cut The Stimulus Bill In Half (DP)

If there is any consistent throughline in Joe Biden’s long career, it is his commitment to the ideology of austerity. He has obsessively pushed for Social Security cuts for decades, and he is stocking his administration with deficit hawks — including today’s announcement that notorious Social Security cutterBruce Reed will be White House deputy chief of staff. Biden has even threatened to veto Medicare for All legislation on the grounds that it costs too much (even though Congress says it would actually save a lot of money). Now, in the whittling down of the stimulus legislation, we see the first concrete example of how Biden’s ideology can change policy in the here and now — and in deeply destructive ways.

As pain and suffering is crescendoing across the country, Biden refrained from aggressively pushing the bipartisan initiative for $1,200 survival checks. Indeed, at a time when there was a legitimate chance to flip some Republicans — including Donald Trump! — against McConnell and push for a more robust stimulus, he demurred. However, the New York Times reminds us today that Biden was “not an idle bystander in the negotiations.” On the contrary, the paper of record tells us that the president-elect played a decisive role in making sure the legislation was cut in half. Here is the key excerpt:

“With Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate far apart on how much they were willing to accept in new pandemic spending, Mr. Biden on Dec. 2 threw his support behind the $900 billion plan being pushed by the centrist group. The total was less than half of the $2 trillion that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, had been insisting on. Mr. Biden’s move was not without risks. If it had failed to affect the discussions, the president-elect risked looking powerless to move Congress before he had taken the oath of office. But members of both parties said his intervention was constructive and gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands.”

Read that again, just so it sinks in: Biden endorsing an initiative to slash the stimulus bill in half “gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands” for a much more robust rescue package at a time when America faces rising food insecurity and poverty. His enthusiastic lauding of the final bill underscores the role he played. “In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for action and compromise,” Biden said in a statement. “I am heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. This is a model for the challenging work ahead for our nation.” That last line of Biden’s statement is arguably the most disturbing foreshadow of all: He is depicting the process — which starved America for months and now skimps on benefits — as a terrific “model” for the future.

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But it’s 2 different bills, says everyone. Yeah, big difference that makes.

COVID19 Catch-22: Regime-Change Policies Come With US Pandemic Relief (GZ)

The longest piece of legislation in United States history, containing both a coronavirus relief package and the annual omnibus spending package, quickly passed through Congress on December 22, with little opposition. While technically separate bills, the omnibus and stimulus were debated and passed together, at the same time.The massive piece of legislation — a staggering 5,593 pages in length — lays bare the priorities of the US government, prioritizing regime change in foreign nations and the imperatives of empire over the basic needs of Americans. In just a few hours, it passed through the House of Representatives by 359-53, and through the Senate by 92-6.

While the US public was forced to grovel for months for a $600 direct payment, the same piece of legislation pumps billions of dollars into “democracy programs” — US government code for regime-change operations via civil society NGOs — and foreign military assistance. The measly $600 survival checks pale in comparison to the massive foreign spending on regime change and titanic allocations to prop up US-friendly authoritarian militaries. On so-called “Democracy Programs” alone, the legislation appropriates $2.417 billion, and $6.175 billion on the “Foreign Military Financing Program.” Another $112.9 million is appropriated for “International Military Education and Training.”

$6 billion more is allocated toward the domestic procurement of US Air Force missiles and US Navy weapons of war. This is in addition to the $740 billion defense bill passed earlier in December. By contrast, the stimulus package comes at a value of $900 billion, with the largest portion devoted to business bailouts. The Federal News Network reports that the $1.4 trillion omnibus includes $671.5 billion allocated to “base defense spending,” with another $77 billion going to “overseas contingency operations.”

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“Pence has the sole power determine whether to reject impermissible states of electors.”

White House Memo Details How ‘Pence Card’ Can Save Trump Presidency (NF)

Sources in the Trump administration confirmed to National File that President Donald Trump’s most vocal advocates within the White House have determined that both U.S. Code and the Constitution contain language that requires Vice President Mike Pence to reject unlawful Electoral College certificates, but Pence must act by no later than Wednesday, December 23. The drafters of this White House memo believe that the federal check to the states’ elections resides with Vice President Mike Pence in his role as President of the Senate. Additionally, Pence has the sole power determine whether to reject impermissible states of electors. However, Pence is legally required to do this on the fourth Wednesday in December, which this year falls on December 23.

National File’s sources in the White House indicated that the memo was requested by those in the President’s circle who are most keen to see the 2020 election, and the ensuing fallout, administered in as transparent of a manner as possible. They also indicate that the push to find a path to verify the 2020 election’s integrity is not coming solely from the White House, but also comes from across numerous agencies in the administration. FROM THE MEMO: Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution requires that “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” Therefore, the papers (or “slates”) the states attempted to submit to the President of the Senate and Archivist of the United States are not legal, permissible certificates of votes and lists by Electors as recited in Title 3, U.S.C., sections 9 and 11. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin violated the U.S. Constitution’s Art. 2, S.1, Cl.2 and 14th Amendment, Section 1, Equal Protection Clause in administering their elections, therefore rendering their slates impermissible.

On Dec. 14, the States consummated a fraudulent and Constitutionally deficient certification of their electors as required by 3 USC 7. State and federal authorities have discovered Overwhelming evidence of election fraud and irregularities since Nov. 4, likely rising to the level of criminal election fraud and public corruption. Civil courts dismissed these claims procedurally, rather than on substance.

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And the Hill doesn’t like it.

Growing Number Of GOP Lawmakers Back Electoral College Challenge (Hill)

A growing number of House Republicans say they will challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results on Jan. 6. The latest Republican to say he will do so is Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), who will be a part of the House when it convenes in early January. He implored other Republicans to also challenge the results in a video message. “I have a message for all other Republicans across the country,” Cawthorn said. “If you are not on the record calling for fair, free and just elections now and in the future, I will come to your district and I will fund a primary opponent against you.” Not doing this to help my career in Washington, in fact this will most likely harm it. But no one should go to Washington as a career. Go there to serve the people. And on behalf of the people I am contesting this election based on constitutional violations by key states. — Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) December 21, 2020


There is no evidence the results of the last election showing President-elect Joe Biden defeating President Trump by more than 70 electoral votes and more than 7 million votes overall was unfair, and efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse the outcome have gone nowhere in the courts. The effort in the House is also doomed to failure, as it will not be possible for supporters to secure a majority vote given Democratic control of the lower chamber, and the fact that a number of Republicans also object to the effort first launched by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). But Trump has encouraged the effort, and a number of House Republicans, likely with an eye on getting attention from the most powerful Republican in the country, have said they will join Brooks.

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“Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people.”

Trump Pardons George Papadopoulos (DC)

President Donald Trump granted a full pardon on Tuesday to George Papadopoulos, the former campaign aide at the center of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election. “Mr. Papadopoulos was charged with a process-related crime, one count of making false statements, in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the White House said in a statement about the pardon. “Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people.” Trump also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch national convicted in the Mueller probe. Last month, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to false statements charges on Dec. 1, 2017.

Papadopoulos was the first Trump associate to plead guilty in the Mueller probe. He served 12 days in prison on charges that he made false statements to the FBI in January 2017 regarding his interactions with a Maltese professor who claimed to have learned that the Russian government had Hillary Clinton’s emails. The FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane, its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, on July 31, 2016, based on an Australian diplomat’s tip regarding a meeting he had on May 10, 2016 with Papadopoulos. Alexander Downer, the diplomat, claimed that Papadopoulos told him that Russia might help the Trump campaign by releasing material close to the election.

Investigators initially thought that Papadopoulos took part in a collusion scheme with Russia or knew of Trump associates who might have been. But the FBI probe, and the Mueller investigation that followed, ultimately turned up no evidence of a conspiracy between Trump associates and the Russian government. Papadopoulos has denied telling anyone on the Trump campaign about his conversations with the Maltese diplomat, Joseph Mifsud. “Notably, Mueller stated in his report that he found no evidence of collusion in connection with Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election. Nonetheless, the Special Counsel’s team still charged Mr. Papadopoulos with this process-related crime,” the White House said in its pardon statement.

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The borders already re-opened.

WHO: New UK COVID19 Strain No Deadlier, Only Slightly More Infectious (RT)

The World Health Organization has come forward to calm things down amid the anxiety over a new potentially ‘highly infectious’ Covid-19 strain found in the UK, saying it is not that different from other coronavirus strains. “There is zero evidence that the new coronavirus variant increases severity of the disease,” the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program Chief Mike Ryan told at a press conference on Monday, citing data received from British scientists. The risks faced by the people that catch this particular strain of the virus are pretty much the same as odds faced by other people suffering from Covid-19. According to the WHO, it is neither more aggressive, nor any deadlier than the other strains.= It does seem to be spreading somewhat easier, the health watchdog admitted. Still, its contagiousness appears to be nothing out of the ordinary and it is still much less infectious than diseases such as mumps.


The new strain would also hardly affect the efficacy of drugs and vaccines developed against Covid-19, the WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said. “So far, even though we have seen a number of changes, a number of mutations, none has made a significant impact on … the susceptibility of the virus to any of the currently used therapeutics, drugs or the vaccines under development,” she said. WHO officials also described a flurry of travel bans to and from the UK imposed by some two dozen of nations across the world as a move taken out of abundance of caution. “We have to find a balance. It’s very important to have transparency, it’s very important to tell the public the way it is, but it’s also important to get across that this is a normal part of virus evolution,” Ryan said, while still calling this decision “prudent.”

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”.. prompting then-US president Ronald Reagan to say “How am I supposed to get anyplace with the Russians if they keep dying on me?” Yet Reagan was 74 at the time, older than all three.”

America Is Now Ruled By People Older Than Soviet Union ‘Gerontocracy’ (RT)

Joe Biden, set to be the oldest-ever US president, is actually on the younger side of people currently running the American political establishment, who show no sign of wanting to ever step aside for another generation. It is often overlooked that Donald Trump currently holds the distinction of being the oldest-ever US president, being 70 at the time of his inauguration. Biden will take that trophy as well if he’s inaugurated in January 2021, having turned 78 last month. Even so, he is actually younger than the current leaders of the House and the Senate! Though all major power brokers in Washington are older than the “gerontocracy” that ruled the Soviet Union in the 1970s and the 1980s, you won’t hear the US mainstream media make the comparison, as it wouldn’t fit their Narrative.

Sure, there has been some carefully calibrated talk about the “cognitive decline” of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is 87. But Feinstein is from an overwhelmingly Democrat state and she can be easily replaced at the same time as Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate who still hasn’t resigned her Senate seat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is 80, and has raised eyebrows herself with the whole “Good Morning. Sunday Morning” glitch-in-the-Matrix behavior during a TV appearance in September. Way back in 2018, Pelosi insisted that any talk about wanting someone younger in the leadership position was “sexist,” and went on to ruthlessly crush any opposition to her getting the gavel – and the power that went with it – inside the party. In the same interview, Pelosi blanked out on the name of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), calling him “whatshisname.”

Born several months ahead of Biden in 1942, McConnell is 78 himself. He had a bout with polio when very young, and though successfully treated, he’s had difficulty climbing stairs all his life. While he hasn’t shown any signs of cognitive decline, his political choices as of late have certainly caused some Republicans to wonder if he’s truly the legislative genius his supporters make him out to be. [..] the young activist House members who came in with 2018’s “Blue Wave,” such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), are being kept in check by the old guard. Just last week, AOC was denied a spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, thwarting her plans to push for her “Green New Deal” proposal. Compare this state of US politics with the notorious “gerontocracy” of the Soviet Union. Three aging Soviet leaders died in quick succession between 1982 and 1985, prompting then-US president Ronald Reagan to say “How am I supposed to get anyplace with the Russians if they keep dying on me?” Yet Reagan was 74 at the time, older than all three.

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“On top of that, there is now—I won’t call it news—official yammer that those pesky Russkies are at it again…”

Stalemate (Paul Edwards)

In chess, stalemate describes the endgame situation in which one party has no possible legal moves. It is the point at which we are arrived in our Presidential fiasco. There has been great angst and gnashing of teeth over it, and ebullient, if tentative, rejoicing on the part of giddy enthusiasts for whom Trump’s electoral defeat represents the Jubilee, the Dawn of Glory, and re-establishment of righteousness on earth. This view, deluded and infantile as it is, is nevertheless sincere and widely held. Stalemate, though, is not victory, in chess or otherwise. In a stalemate the game ends in a draw. That said, it seems likely Trump will depart—in spite of the hysteria peddled by so many in media and cyber-flackery—without anything faintly resembling the Reichstag Fire, or even a Proud Boys version of the shootout at the OK Corral. He’ll go with a whimper, not a bang.

So the crisis ends in victory? Or has it indeed been a sort of draw? We’ve been assured from authoritative quarters, in the most decisive terms, that, in his mulish, petulant refusal to take no for an answer to his grandiose ambitions, Trump has done irreparable damage to the Great Institution of our Electoral Democracy; that his dogged denial of his loss, and utter rejection of the protocols of cordial transition have sorely undermined, and perhaps even fatally shaken, our collective faith in the purity and justice of our Constitutional process and its benign functioning. On top of that, there is now—I won’t call it news—official yammer that those pesky Russkies are at it again. Yes, by golly, they’ve diabolically infiltrated our Official Secrets Crypt, no doubt goaded into it by that fiend, Putin, who, according to what we’ve been schooled for four years to believe, ought to have been spending all his energies backing Trump, but somehow overlooked that.

It appears that after doing so much to elect him in ‘16, they didn’t bother this time and let him lose. Just no fathoming their deviltry. Anyhow, our noble protectors and defenders, those fab Security Services—FBI, NSA, CIA and the other sixteen or twenty-three sister spook units who’ve done so much to keep us from harm—all have their knickers in a twist, one hand clutching their pearls and the other making a bold fist at the Kremlin, over Vlad & Co. attacking the dead meat of our sanctified secrets catacombs. What a dogpile! What a gang-bang! Trump and the Russians, allied again, bringing all their satanic powers to bear on the frail, vulnerable vessel of our fate, the very motor and mainspring of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean: our hallowed electoral system. Come on, somebody has to call bullshit on this nonsense.

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Two pieces from Jim Rickards at Daily Reckoning.

China Has Infiltrated America (Rickards)

Spying is as old as civilization. As long as there have been leaders with secrets and armies on the march, opponents have wanted to know what they’re thinking and where they’re going. Hence the need for spies. And it comes as no surprise that the Chinese are as good as anyone when it comes to spying and that their main target is the United States. What may come as a surprise is the scope of their success and the enormous number of operatives, influencers, sleepers and other varieties of spies who have already infiltrated critical U.S. institutions. Of course, a lot of spying today involves surveillance of phone calls, digital message traffic, online financial transactions, facial recognition software, satellite surveillance and other electronic tradecraft.

But the old fashioned methods of the human spy penetrating organizations, gaining trust and stealing secrets have never gone away. In fact, that type of human intelligence (HUMINT) seems to be having a renaissance. Members of the Chinese Communist Party who pledge to “fight for communism throughout my life … and… be loyal to the party” are hard at work inside companies like Boeing, Pfizer and Qualcomm, political strongholds like the U.S. State Department, and on Capitol Hill. Other spies operate clandestinely, including a woman named Fang Fang, a young attractive Chinese spy who worked her way into an intimate relationship with Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who routinely receives classified briefings.

This is a classic intelligence technique known as a Honey Trap. Swalwell fell for it. Somehow Fang got a heads up and fled back to China before she could be turned into a double-agent or simply arrested by the FBI. No word yet on who gave her the heads-up, but Swalwell is suspected. The Chinese intelligence services have also penetrated academia using so-called Confucius Institutes (cultural exchange facilities that are really nests of spies) and lavish research grants. Too often, Americans are ensnared in Chinese spying efforts either because they are naive or just greedy for the money the Chinese spread around. U.S. targets simply turn a blind eye to the damage to America. Until things change, America’s technological and strategic edge will be blunted by Chinese theft of secrets and compromise of elite decision-makers.

Let’s hope this changes, but don’t hold your breath. Will the U.S. intelligence community get a grip on the Chinese threat? There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the U.S. The Intelligence Community, particularly the CIA, seem to have woken up to the fact that the world has changed. The bad news is that it still seems to be riddled with the same hidebound bureaucrats, the same ‘go along to get along’ guys I saw during my years at the Agency. A big problem is the “culture of secrecy.” Forty years ago, secrets were valuable, and open-source information was not particularly useful beyond just keeping up with the news. Information used to be a scarce resource. But that world has changed. Today, information flow is like a fire hose; there’s almost more than you can process. The scarce resource today is not information; it’s analytic ability.

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War simulations. Better than board games.

Financial Warfare Is Real (Rickards)

In my 2011 book, Currency Wars, I gave a detailed description of the first-ever financial war game sponsored by the Department of Defense. This financial war game took place in 2009 at the top-secret Applied Physics Laboratory located about twenty miles north of Washington, D.C., in the Maryland countryside. Unlike typical war games, the “rules of engagement” for this financial exercise did not permit the use of any kinetic weapons such as bombs, missiles or drones. The only weapons allowed were financial instruments including stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities and derivatives. The game was played out over two days in the main War Room of the laboratory using six teams divided into the U.S., China, Russia, Europe, East Asia, and Banks & Hedge Funds.

The contestants included about 40 players on the six teams and another 60 participants including: uniformed military, civilian defense officials, observers from the Treasury, Federal Reserve, CIA and other government agencies, think tanks, universities, and financial industry professionals. In that original financial war game, a scenario involving Russia, China, gold and the destruction of the U.S. dollar was played out against a backdrop of geopolitical events, including the collapse of North Korea and a threatened Chinese invasion of Taiwan. In May 2015, the Pentagon sponsored a new financial warfare session, which I was also invited to attend. This time the financial war took place inside a secure meeting facility at the Pentagon itself.

This new financial war game exercise was smaller and more focused than the one in 2009. We had about 20 participants. Our group included representatives from the diplomatic corps, military, think tanks, universities, CIA and the National Security Council. I was one of three individuals from the investment management community. Our scenario this time was not global but was instead limited to a confrontation between China and the U.S. involving disputed jurisdiction in the South China Sea. Six nations have claims in the South China Sea – China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. These claims overlap to a great extent, setting the stage for disputes and possible war.

The South China Sea is rich in oil, natural gas reserves, fishing rights and other natural resources. The surrounding nations dispute with certain island groups – the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands – and are also using reefs, sunken vessels and landfill to create artificial islands, which they are populating with bases and military garrisons. The U.S. has treaty obligations to the Philippines and Taiwan, which could result in the U.S. becoming engaged militarily in the event of a dispute with China. This volatile mix of disputed claims, natural resources and complex treaty networks has the ingredients needed to escalate into a Third World War. All it would take to start a war is some spark, such as a collision at sea or an attack based on mistaken identity or misunderstood intentions. The occurrence of such a war is likely inevitable.

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Stating the obvious.

UN Expert Melzer Asks US President Donald Trump To Pardon Julian Assange (UN)

“Mr. President, Today, I respectfully request that you pardon Mr. Julian Assange. Mr. Assange has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty for the past ten years. This is a high price to pay for the courage to publish true information about government misconduct throughout the world. I visited Mr. Assange in Belmarsh High Security Prison in London, with two independent medical doctors, and I can attest to the fact that his health has seriously deteriorated, to the point where his life is now in danger. Critically, Mr. Assange suffers from a documented respiratory condition which renders him extremely vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic that has recently broken out in the prison where he is being held.

I ask you to pardon Mr. Assange, because he is not, and has never been, an enemy of the American people. His organization, WikiLeaks, fights secrecy and corruption throughout the world and, therefore, acts in the public interest both of the American people and of humanity as a whole. I ask because Mr. Assange has never published false information. The cause for any reputational harm that may have resulted from his publications is not to be found in any misconduct on his part, but in the very misconduct which he exposed. I ask because Mr. Assange has not hacked or stolen any of the information he published. He has obtained it from authentic documents and sources in the same way as any other serious and independent investigative journalists conduct their work. While we may personally agree or disagree with their publications, they clearly cannot be regarded as crimes.

I ask because prosecuting Mr. Assange for publishing true information about serious official misconduct, whether in America or elsewhere, would amount to “shooting the messenger” rather than correcting the problem he exposed. This would be incompatible with the core values of justice, rule of law and press freedom, as reflected in the American Constitution and international human rights instruments ratified by the United States. I ask because you have vowed, Mr. President, to pursue an agenda of fighting government corruption and misconduct; and because allowing the prosecution of Mr. Assange to continue would mean that, under your legacy, telling the truth about such corruption and misconduct has become a crime.

In pardoning Mr Assange, Mr. President, you would send a clear message of justice, truth and humanity to the American people and to the world. You would rehabilitate a courageous man who has suffered injustice, persecution and humiliation for more than a decade, simply for telling the truth.

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Alexandros Maragos Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn over #Athens

 

 

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Dec 152020
 


William Merritt Chase Back Of A Nude 1888

 

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)
Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)
Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)
Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)
The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)
Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)
Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)
Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)
Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)
Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)
The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)
Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)
Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

 

 

Hats off to Jimmy Dore.

 

 

Me, I fear for the future of the country.

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)

Joe Biden lashed out at President Trump Monday night, saying in a 14-minute speech following his win in the electoral college that Trump’s ongoing challenges to the 2020 election are “an unprecedented assault on our democracy,” and that claims of widespread fraud are “baseless” – despite the fact that the Supreme Court elected not to review the merits of various cases. “Every single avenue was made available for President Trump to contest the results. He took full advantage of each and every one of those avenues.


“President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take,” Biden added – also slamming the 17 GOP Attorneys General and 126 GOP Congressmembers who challenged the results of the election as well. Biden implied Trump has both abused – and won’t let go of power, saying “In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant it to them,” adding “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”

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“It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is..”

Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)

Republican electors in four states said Monday that they would cast their procedural votes for President Trump from the Nov. 3 elections, and Michigan sent two separate slates of electors to Capitol Hill, 16 electors for Trump and 16 electors for Democrat Joe Biden. “It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is,” said Meshawn Maddock, Republican at-large national elector. Michigan state Rep. Daire Rendon said: “What it comes down to is this: have the secretary of state, director of elections, and election officials proved to you that the election had accuracy and integrity? They have not. And because of this, the election is in dispute.”

Under the Constitution, state legislatures have plenary power over their respective elections. Because there is an ongoing dispute over the Michigan 2020 general election, members of the Michigan legislature have called on Washington, D.C., to not count Michigan electors until further action from the Michigan legislature, according to a press release about the Michigan effort. Congress will count electoral votes Jan. 6. The Trump campaign embraced the alternate slate of electors’ actions, saying it preserved legal options before the Jan. 6 deadline. “We applaud the Republican electors in those states for showing up and casting the votes,” the campaign’s senior legal counsel Jenna Ellis told Just the News.

The Republican electors in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona all said they voted for Trump. It comes as their states formally appointed Democratic electors who voted for Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, according to the Epoch Times. The Pennsylvania GOP said in a news release that electors met at the state capital to “cast a conditional vote” for Trump and Pence “at the request of the Trump campaign.” Democratic electors voted in the Pennsylvania Electoral College for Biden and Harris.

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“If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server?”

Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)

President Trump’s 2018 Executive Order 13848 requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), John Ratcliffe, to report forty-five days after the election on foreign election interference. That’s this Friday. What might Mr. Ratcliffe know? Well, supposedly everything. Except both the CIA and the FBI must be considered undependable now, with RussiaGate prankster Gina Haspel in charge of the CIA, and Christopher Wray slow-walking every requested declassified FBI document for years. So, Mr. Ratcliffe must be receiving more dependable intelligence from others, most likely Defense Intelligence. Many readers may have heard about a supposed raid on the CIA cyber-warfare station in Frankfurt, Germany, and the seizure there of the Dominion computer servers by US Army special ops personnel.

Forty-five days was probably enough time for Defense Intelligence to run forensic analysis on those servers, if, in fact, they existed and the raid actually happened. Standing by on that. We just don’t know. But if so, then Mr. Ratcliffe must have some results by now. What nobody has asked is: in the first place, what on earth would the Dominion servers be doing in Frankfurt, outside the USA, in possession of the CIA? Is the CIA monitoring the vote tabulation… or assisting in it? This raises another question no one has addressed: Servers serve computer networks, which operate via the Internet. If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server? If I’m missing something there, please discuss in the comments section.

Which raises another question: Is there not sufficient evidence to see that the use of computers has completely screwed up our election process? Is this not a classic Joseph Tainter style quandary of overinvestments in complexity producing diminishing returns — which, when enough of them pile up, gets you to the collapse of civilizations? Are we going to allow further screw-ups by letting the State of Georgia conduct their January 5 senate run-off election on the same Dominion machines that they used on November 3? Apparently, that’s exactly what Georgia intends to do.

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Did Bill Barr just make room for Trump to pardon Assange and Snowden?

Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)

William Barr has decided to step down as attorney general before Christmas, ending a tumultuous tenure that saw his department clear President Trump of Russia collusion and crack down on violent gangs, Chinese spies and religious liberty violations. Trump announced the departure Monday evening on Twitter shortly after meeting with Barr, ending a tense week in which the president and his allies criticized the attorney general for both failing to reveal the existence of a Hunter Biden probe before the election and taking little public action to punish those who perpetrated the false Russian collusion narrative, “Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump tweeted. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

“Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!” the president added. In his letter, Barr revealed his last day will be Dec. 23 and that the purpose of his meeting with the president Monday was to brief the president about his department’s efforts to investigate voter fraud. Barr also went out of his way in the letter to decry the “frenzied and baseless” narrative of Russia collusion that hampered the first two-plus years of the Trump presidency.

“Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless, implacable resistance. Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic no matter how abusive and deceitful was out of bounds,” Barr wrote. “The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust your administration, with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia,” he added.

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Calls for pardons are getting loud.

The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)

A U.S. appellate court in September unanimously ruled that the NSA’s program of mass domestic surveillance was illegal, as well as likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The court, and the broader public, knew about this illegal mass surveillance program created by the NSA only because Edward Snowden, while working inside that agency, discovered its existence and concluded in 2012 that the American public has the right know about what was being secretly done to them and their privacy by their own government. Upon making the decision to blow the whistle on this security state illegality, Snowden delivered the documents relating to that program and other then-unknown systems of mass online surveillance not by dumping them indiscriminately on the internet or selling them or passing them to foreign governments, but by providing them to journalists (including myself) with The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets.

The documents Snowden provided were accompanied by requests to report them responsibly. He thus relinquished the power entirely to make decisions about which documents would and would not be published, leaving those decisions exclusively to news outlets. That meant that Snowden himself never made a single document publicly available; every document that was reported was the result of decisions by newsrooms around the world that their publication would be in the public interest and would not endanger innocent people. That method of whistleblowing chosen by Snowden — patterned after the one Daniel Ellsberg used in 1971 to make the public aware of years of lying to the American public by the U.S. Government about the Vietnam War, when he gave the top-secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and asked them to report it in the public interest — enabled journalists to inform the American citizenry about illegal and unconstitutional spying by the U.S. Government in the most responsible manner possible.

Indeed, the very first program we reported — on June 6, 2013 — was the mass domestic spying program which the appellate court just ruled was illegal and likely a violation of the constitutional rights of all Americans. That first article we published revealed a top secret court order under which “the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers,” and required major telecommunications carriers “on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

The months of reporting that followed, all singularly enabled by Snowden’s courageous whistleblowing, triggered so much vital public debate about privacy and mass surveillance, and fostered so many legal and technological privacy reforms around the world, that the reporting earned virtually every award journalism has to give, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. For those who have not seen it, the 2014 documentary by Laura Poitras about the work Snowden did with journalists, Citizenfour, which received the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary, shows much of the Snowden story in real time and can be viewed on YouTube; the feature film “Snowden,” available on Netflix and other platforms, separately explores the trajectory which Snowden traversed from enlisted U.S. Army soldier, CIA contractor and NSA expert to one of this generation’s most consequential whistleblowers.

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“I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.”

Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)

Amid mounting speculation that President Trump is about to announce a list of presidential pardons, calls for — and against — NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s name to be included are growing louder. In November, as is customary, Donald Trump pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now, in the lame duck session of his presidency, he appears to be making a customary list of people to pardon as well. Influential and well-connected publication Axios reported, in a scandalized tone, that he is planning to hand out pardons “like Christmas gifts” to “every person who ever talked to [him].” In August, the president was asked about Snowden specifically, responding by saying that, “I’m going to take a very good look at it. I’ve seen people that are very conservative and very liberal and they agree on the same issue…I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”


Now, a host of figures are calling in unison for Trump to follow through on the proposal. “President Trump is listening to the many of us who are urging him to pardon Snowden. It’s the right thing to do,” Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz said yesterday. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul agreed, slamming former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in the process. “Clapper brazenly lied to Congress denying that the Deep State was spying on all Americans. Snowden simply revealed Clapper’s lies and exposed unconstitutional spying. He deserves a pardon from Donald Trump,” he wrote. Those calls were joined by a number of voices on the left, including former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, who said, “I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.” The American Civil Liberties Union, who have previously described Snowden as a “patriot,” concurred, stating, “Edward Snowden blew the whistle on illegal government activity kept secret for years. Our democracy is better off because of him.”

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“Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.”

Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)

The Trump administration calls the International Criminal Court a kangaroo court. He refuses to allow any U.S. soldier to be brought before the court for purported war crimes in Afghanistan. None of the court investigators or judges will receive visas to enter U.S. territory. Any property or bank accounts they have in the U.S. will be confiscated. If any court is a disingenuous kangaroo court it is the extradition trial against Julian Assange, in London. The first magistrate who sat in judgment of possible extradition to the U.S. for alleged violations of its Espionage Act, is a subject in Wikileaks’ revelations. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and her husband, James Arbuthnot, who was a defense minister for procurement, have “earned” money from two companies exposed by Wikileaks.

During the August-September extradition hearings, Arbuthnot “stepped down” to be supervisor of the new magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser. During three weeks of hearings, Baraitser looked at her laptop to read decisions she had written before defense lawyers had made their arguments, or witnesses had testified. I am not the only one hoping that Donald Trump will do the right thing with Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden too. The last president, one Trump hates, first put Assange’s key whistleblower in prison, in isolation, under torture. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years. Obama leaving office with a gesture of “goodwill”, commuted Chelsea’s sentence once she served seven years. She was later jailed for another year for not snitching on Julian.

Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 who wasn’t a war hawk, is asking Trump for goodwill. She tweeted tagging Trump, “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” and named Assange and Snowden for him to drop charges. The proposal for Trump to pardon Assange was also endorsed at this recent webinar which included speakers Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Law Professor Marjorie Cohn, Consortium News editor-in-chief Joe Lauria. If Trump did the honorable thing of halting the persecution of Julian Assange, it would be a blow for freedom and a middle finger to the Deep State including Obama and Clinton. Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.

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“They totally caved..”

Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)

A senior Democratic congressional aide is irate tonight. “The Democrats,” the aide seethed, “have just done the worst negotiating in modern history.” At issue: a pair of new Covid-19 relief bills, just submitted by a bipartisan group of Senators. Republican Senator Susan Collins gushed that a“Christmas Miracle” allowed the two parties came together on the twin bills, which the press describes as totaling $748 billion and $160 billion, respectively. “Bipartisanship and compromise is [sic] alive and well in Washington,” clucked West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. It sure is. With the election over, the Democratic leadership in the space of a few weeks somehow negotiated against themselves, working with Republicans to push the total amount of a Covid-19 relief deal further and further downward, to the point where previous plans offered by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin now look like LBJ’s Great Society.

Democrats ultimately settled for less than a third of what they had set as a baseline for state and local aid, accepted a package without any $1,200 direct payments, and signed off on a plan that, after offsets, includes less than $350 billion in new money, well below a slew of pre-election proposals rejected by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as being too low. “They totally caved,” the aide says. Back in May, the Democrat-led House passed the HEROES Act, a $3.4 trillion relief package that was pitched as the bill Democrats really wanted. It contained $413 billion new dollars for $1,200 direct payments to citizens, as well as $437 billion in additional unemployment benefits, and a whopping $1.13 trillion for state and local governments.

Trump said the bill was “dead on arrival,” McConnell blasted it as a “$3 trillion left-wing wish list,” and the anti-spending group Taxpayers for Common Sense seethed that Democrats unrealistically put “everything they could think of” in the bill. Still, Democrats insisted this was the right amount, at the right time, a moral necessity. “The House has passed a major bill dealing with COVID,” Schumer said in May, blasting his Senate Republican colleagues for a “pause” in negotiations. “We have done nothing.”

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Meanwhile, what a mess.

Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)

Earlier this year, Republican senators slammed the idea of spending money to pay Americans not to work during the pandemic. Only a few months later, a group of GOP senators has signed onto stimulus legislation that would authorize the government to pay idle defense contractors to not work, even as those contractors’ rack up big profits during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the same bill excludes bipartisan provisions authorizing direct payments to millions of Americans struggling to survive. The stimulus legislation released by Republican and Democratic senators this afternoon includes an extension of a program to replace the wages of certain government contractors who miss work due to COVID-19.

The program, Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allows federal agencies to reimburse contractors who are unable to work in person due to the pandemic, and whose jobs do not allow telework, for up to 40 hours per week of lost wages. In effect, the program uses government money to reimburse defense contractors for giving paid leave to their employees. The provision was added to the last page of the 525-page bill after defense contractors sent a letter to congressional lawmakers lobbying for the language. The same bill does not authorize direct payments to millions of Americans — nor does it reimburse small businesses for providing paid leave benefits to their workers.

While the bill would fund $300-a-week in new federal unemployment benefits, that’s half as much as Congress distributed under the CARES Act — and millions of people will still see their unemployment benefits lapse on December 26, as it will likely take weeks to reprogram state unemployment systems. “This is about need and not greed,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the Democratic sponsors of the bill who has called new direct payments to families “a bad idea.” Nearly 12 million U.S. renters will be behind $5,850 in rent by January, according to the Washington Post. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have been pushing lawmakers to include language in stimulus legislation giving $1,200 stimulus checks to millions of families. That was not included in the same stimulus that includes the subsidy program for defense contractors.

In July, Senate Republicans introduced a stimulus package which included $11 billion in appropriations to reimburse defense contractors for payments made under Section 3610, following lobbying from the defense industry. “Section 3610 provides authority for agencies to cover from existing funds certain contractor costs and keep key personnel and skilled workers in a ready state,” lobbying groups and executives from representing defense contractors and other government contractors wrote on December 11.

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How is it possible that in so many countries that failed so miserably in their pandemic fights, all the same faces hold on to all their same jobs?

Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)

As the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine gets underway, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American public should anticipate likely needing to wear masks and socially distancing through next winter. Fauci was asked Monday when he thinks society will be able to get back to pre-coronavirus normality. “I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing towards normality,” Fauci said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategy and International Studies. “I don’t believe we’re going to be able to throw the masks away and forget about physical separation and congregate settings for a while, probably likely until we get into the late fall and early next winter, but I think we can do it. The numbers will guide us.”


Fauci also said that having a vaccine distributed before the end of the year was “unimaginable” at the beginning of the pandemic. He referred to Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership implemented under the Trump administration, as a “success story,” given that a “group of vaccines” for COVID-19 have been produced. “I think Operation Warp Speed, putting hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, into facilitating the technical aspects of the trial, the clinical trial, the pre-purchasing of hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine is unprecedented,” he said. “So it’s really quite a success story, I must say.”

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We should have this down by now. We don’t.

The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)

If we turn our attention back to the Covid death data, just because someone has tested positive for Covid-19 and died sometime after (even if we put aside for a second that some tests are known to give false positives), that does not mean that Covid-19 caused that person to die. Yet, the main figure certain countries around the world are using to express Covid-19 deaths is simply recorded, or coded, as essentially any death involving a positive Covid-19 test within 28 days of death. Because correlation does not equal causation, simply recording Covid-19 deaths as any deaths involving a positive Covid-19 test within a given period of time is an extremely poor way to measure how many people have died. For instance, in the UK, the main figure being used for Covid-19 deaths is coded, as stated on the official Coronavirus website, as the…

number of deaths of people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. This completely ignores the problem of causality, and thus, produces a much larger death toll than there actually is. For instance, if someone has had an underlying heart condition for 10 years, and has a heart complication and dies, their death was most likely mainly caused by the heart condition that has plagued them for a decade. However, if that person had tested positive for Covid-19 for the first time within 28 days of them dying, that person could be included as a Covid-19 death in the UK, if all is required to be categorized as a Covid-19 death is simply a positive test result.

For those who understand that the way you code deaths dramatically changes the number of deaths you get, the UK authorities kindly illustrate this for us. There is a second number recorded by UK authorities which codes deaths as… people whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes. By coding deaths this way, there are thousands more Covid-19 deaths compared to when deaths are coded as… people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. Despite the UK authorities having two ways to code Covid-19 deaths however, none of them are particularly accurate in my opinion. This is because the positive test figure does not deal with the issue of causality, and the death certificate figure only mentions Covid as needing to be “one of the causes” of death, rather than “the primary cause,” in addition to the death certificate figure not explicitly demanding the need for a positive Covid-19 test result.

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Right on cue, Guaido and Navalny are back in the western news, two people who play no role whatsoever in their own home countries. What’s the mechanism behind this?

Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)

Venezuelan opposition led by US-backed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido has held “popular consultations” to demonstrate rejection of the nation’s government after boycotting parliamentary vote but ended up burning ballots instead. The so-called “popular consultations” organized by the supporters of the self-styled “interim president” started online on Monday and concluded with an in-person participation on Saturday. The move was held after an official election held earlier this month handed control over the Venezuelan National Assembly to President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist PSUV party. As it was during the 2018 presidential elections that handed victory to Maduro himself, most of the opposition boycotted the official vote.

After losing what was considered its last institutional stronghold, Guaido’s supporters decided to demonstrate the scale of the alleged popular rejection of the Venezuelan government they continue to call illegitimate. Although the turnout for the official election was not particularly high, Guaido’s initiative has hardly faired any better since, according to the organizers’ own estimates cited by Reuters, just under 6.5 million out of roughly 17.5 million eligible voters took part in the “consultation,” including some 845,000 people living abroad. The outcome of the “consultation” did not seem to affect the political situation in the Latin American nation hit by strict US sanctions targeting its oil sector and exacerbating a prolonged economic crisis.

Maduro himself brushed off the opposition’s initiative by saying that “no internet consultation has constitutional status” or any “legal value.” In 11 out of 24 Venezuela’s states, the law enforcement sought to disrupt the in-person participation in the “consultation” by removing the informal voting sites, the organizers complained. Still, they themselves ended up destroying all the traces of the “consultation”, at least at some of the improvised polling stations. A video published on the social media shows a pile of ballots and voting records burning on the floor at one of such sites in the northern Miranda state. The organizers claimed they did so to protect the identities of the participants.

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“..the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning”

Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

This weekend’s article in the Sunday Times is probably meant to undermine the doubters. In reality, it’s likely to have the opposite result. For its claims are so outrageous that many thinking people will react with laughter, and then perhaps start questioning the poisoning story as a whole. According to the Sunday Times, Navalny wasn’t poisoned by a nerve agent smeared on his water bottle, as has previously been asserted, but rather was attacked by means of his underpants. Moreover, he wasn’t poisoned once, but twice, and despite Novichok’s reputation for extreme deadliness, both attempts failed.

When examined, though, these claims don’t amount to much. The Sunday Times story is nearly 4,000 words long, but 95 percent of it is irrelevant filler, including the comical assertion that the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning” (because, of course, nobody other than Russians ever poisoned anyone). The allegations regarding the attack on Navalny take up a mere 100 words of the 4,000-word total. As well as being brief, they are to say the least unproven. The Sunday Times says: “Vladimir Uglev, a retired Russian chemist who developed nerve agents, believes Navalny’s poisoners would have been instructed to place novichok on the elastic waistband of his pants, where it would come into contact with his skin. … A German laboratory later found traces of a nerve agent on the surface of one of the water bottles. Uglev, the retired chemist, believes that this is because Navalny touched it having got novichok on his fingers after putting on his underpants.”

In other words, the underpants story is just what a single Russian scientist, unconnected to the case, happens to think. Nothing more. Does Uglev provide any evidence to prove his assertion? No. He just “believes” it. Yet, this is sufficient for the Sunday Times to treat the story as essentially true, leading off its article with the claim that, “Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent – not, as initially believed, when he drank a cup of tea in the departure lounge but when he got dressed that morning.” This is not exactly good reporting. If the underwear story smells a little off, so too does the claim that Russian secret agents tried to murder Navalny not once, but twice.

As evidence, the Sunday Times says that, “German security sources have told their associates in the UK that the attackers struck again as Navalny lay in an induced coma before being put on a medical flight to Germany. ‘This was with a view to him being dead by the time he arrived in Berlin,’ one source said.” To put it another way, an anonymous person (probably a member of the British intelligence or security services) told a journalist that some other anonymous person believes that this is so. In other words, it’s not just hearsay, but anonymous hearsay. One can believe it if one wishes. But there’s no particular reason why one should.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 062020
 
 December 6, 2020  Posted by at 10:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Absinthe Drinker 1901

 

Large-Scale Covid19 Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off In Moscow (RT)
The Vaccine Race is a Race Against Capital Flight (Luongo)
US COVID Deaths Projected To More Than Double To 410,000 By January (R.)
Florida Requires Labs To Report ‘Cycle Threshold’ Of COVID-19 Tests (JTN)
COVID Will Drive Global Debt To $200 Trillion By End Of 2020 – S&P (RT)
Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe The Deep State Exists (Greenwald)
The President Can Pardon Himself, But That Does Not Mean He Should (Turley)
Rep. Mo Brooks’ Challenge To Electoral College Certification (JTN)
Budgets, Vetoes, Values, Defence … Division And Dithering Shame The EU (O.)
UK Urged To Follow Denmark In Ending North Sea Oil And Gas Exploration (O.)

 

 

Vaccines and autoimmune

 

 

 

 

 

 

First (though admittedly, China is a mystery).

Large-Scale Covid19 Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off In Moscow (RT)

A wide-ranging anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign began in Moscow on Saturday, with thousands signing up for shots online, in the Russian capital. Frontline workers were given first priority, as previous indicated. Those wishing to participate have to sign up online before receiving their initial dose of Sputnik V at one of the city’s 70 specialist clinics. The vaccine consists of two separate injections, the second jab must be administered 21 days after the first one. The whole procedure, which includes the time needed to cool down the formula after it’s removed from the freezer, takes less than an hour, officials said. Injections are administered to people aged between 18 and 60 that present no chronic health conditions. Those who have had respiratory infections, like flu or common cold, less than two weeks ago, are not eligible. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are also barred, for now.


On Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote on his blog that 5,000 people had signed up for the vaccine in five hours after online registration was launched. He said they were doctors, care workers, and teachers, who were “risking their health and lives the most.” Vaccination is free for Russian citizens. Senior health official Alexey Kuznetsov announced that Sputnik V’s maximum commercial price will be 1,942 rubles ($26) for both injections. President Vladimir Putin authorized the start of a large-scale vaccination campaign on Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said all of Russia’s regions would roll out their campaigns next week. Meanwhile, select groups of doctors and nurses had already been getting the vaccine, with the priority given to those on the frontline against Covid-19. The vaccination began in some army units as well.

Read more …

Expect horror stories about Russian vaccines.

The Vaccine Race is a Race Against Capital Flight (Luongo)

The ruble rose sharply versus the dollar this week, collapsing below the critical 76 level to close this week below 74. More evidence that with Putin’s announcement of Sputnik V vaccine distribution starting Russia the markets are looking for a home where capital can have a prayer in hell of being treated well. Because that will most certainly not be the case in Europe. The only reasons the euro is rising in on political instability in the U.S. and the lack of forward budget thanks to the veto by Hungary and Poland. Because while the euro may be breaking out versus the dollar the bellwether bond markets in Europe, namely German bunds, are rising in yield.

While this isn’t a bear market in any sense since the selling hasn’t overwhelmed ECB buying, it’s also hard to determine if that would ever happen given just how much of the European sovereign debt market the ECB actually owns now. Investors in the West are trying to beat the COVID-19 narrative, pinning their hope of economic recovery on the vaccine restoring normality. But if there is one thing I’ve noted over and over again over the past ten months, it is that the goal posts for normality keep getting moved. Remember 15 days to flatten the curve? Now it’s a 100-day mask mandates with state-by-state full lockdowns. Anyone thinking that we’ll ever return to anything resembling the old world is terminally naïve.

The race for global capital begins now with Russia’s roll out of Sputnik V by the millions of doses. It doesn’t matter if the vaccine works or it doesn’t. Pfizer’s doesn’t. What matters is what excuses politicians can make to fit their agenda. Putin wants to make Russia a destination for global capital, keeping Russia open for business. Russia pushing Sputnik V out the door this quickly is forcing the West’s hand. They wanted bigger lockdowns for longer. Asia will stay open while the West plays games resetting its system. They are really angry at the Russians for being good at math and science.

That is why the race for the vaccine is actually the race for global capital in the end. Because the rollout of the vaccine asymmetrically around the world will be followed by where watching where the capital will flow to. Russia will be one of those places along with everyone they sell it to and everyone they do business with. COVID-19 is a litmus test of governments. Investors are looking around now looking for where the political risk really lies over the next decade. Sanctions, threats and capital controls can only slow the outflow but it can’t stop it.

Read more …

Winter is a bigger factor than most acknowledged.

US COVID Deaths Projected To More Than Double To 410,000 By January (R.)

U.S. deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington’s health institute forecast on Friday. Deaths could be reduced by 30% if more Americans wore face masks as epidemiologists have advised, but mask-wearing is declining, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said. The U.S. death rate projected by the IHME model, which has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would more than triple the current death rate of some 850 per day.

“We expect the daily death rate in the United States, because of seasonality and declining vigilance of the public, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December,” the institute, which bills itself as an independent research center, said in an update of its periodic forecasts. “Cumulative deaths expected by January 1 are 410,000; this is 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year,” the institute said. It previously projected 317,697 deaths by Dec. 1. The model’s outlook for the world was even more dire, with deaths projected to triple to 2.8 million by Jan. 1, 2021. The United States, which has the world’s third largest population, leads the planet with more than 186,000 COVID-19 deaths and 6.1 million coronavirus infections.

[..] The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues forecasts only four weeks in advance, and its latest estimate is for 200,000 to 211,000 dead by Sept. 26. But the institute said with so many Americans still refusing to wear masks, there remains “an extraordinary opportunity” to save lives. “Increasing mask use to the levels seen in Singapore would decrease the cumulative death toll to 288,000, or 122,000 lives saved compared to the reference scenario,” it said. “Mask use continues to decline from a peak in early August. Declines are notable throughout the Midwest, including in some states such as Illinois and Iowa with increasing case numbers,” the report said.

Although U.S. infections have declined to around 45,000 per day from a peak of around 70,000 per day in July, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death, the institute said. That would place it behind only heart disease, having surpassed cancer as a cause of death in the United States.

Read more …

How much sense can you make?

Florida Requires Labs To Report ‘Cycle Threshold’ Of COVID-19 Tests (JTN)

The Florida Department of Health is requiring that all labs in the state report the critical “cycle threshold” level of every COVID-19 test they perform. In a press release this week, the department said that, regarding COVID-19 tests, “cycle threshold (CT) values and their reference ranges, as applicable, must be reported by laboratories to FDOH via electronic laboratory reporting or by fax immediately.” “Cycle thresholds” are the level at which widely used polymerase chain reaction test can detect a sample of the COVID-19 virus.


The higher the number of cycles, the lower the amount of viral load in the sample; the lower the cycles, the more prevalent the virus was in the original sample. Numerous epidemiological experts have argued that cycle thresholds are an important metric by which patients and the public can make an informed decision about how infectious and/or sick an individual with a positive COVID-19 test might be. However, health departments across the country are failing to collect that data.

Read more …

Keep rates low or else!

COVID Will Drive Global Debt To $200 Trillion By End Of 2020 – S&P (RT)

The world’s appetite for borrowing is growing with global debt expected to reach the next milestone of $200 trillion as early as this year, according to ratings agency S&P Global. That will reportedly account for 265 percent of the world’s annual economic output, amounting to a 14-point rise as a percentage of world GDP. The dramatic surge was triggered by both the economic plunge due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the extra borrowing that governments, firms and households have had to fall back upon, the New York-based agency said. “Global debt-to-GDP has been trending up for many years; the pandemic simply exacerbated the rise,” the report reads.


Despite mounting debt and a series of defaults over the coming year, the S&P doesn’t expect a major crisis any time soon. “The projected 14-percent surge in global debt-to-GDP in 2020 is unlikely to cause a near-term debt crisis, provided economies recover, vaccines are widely distributed, interest rates remain very low, and borrowing behavior moderates,” the agency said. The global debt-to-GDP ratio will reportedly ease back to 256 percent within two years, as soon as the world economy gets back on its feet after the pandemic. “We expect the debt growth of corporates, governments, and household to ease as they tend to after recessions,” the report reads.

Read more …

Bernie never recovered from the smears.

Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe The Deep State Exists (Greenwald)

That Putin wanted Tump to win was one of the leading themes used by Democratic-Party-allied media outlets to attack Trump, rendering it crippling for Sanders to be similarly tied to Moscow, particularly given the perception that Putin would help Sanders because the Kremlin judged him to be the weakest candidate against the GOP president. Indeed, The Post article explicitly drew the Sanders/Trump comparison (emphasis added): The disclosure of Russian assistance to Sanders follows a briefing to lawmakers last week in which a senior intelligence official said that Russia wants to see Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments. . . .

The prospect of two rival campaigns both receiving help from Moscow appears to reflect what intelligence officials have previously described as Russia’s broader interest in sowing division in the United States and uncertainty about the validity of American elections. Reflecting his 2020 strategy of trying to appease the Democratic establishment in lieu of his more successful 2016 strategy of proudly positioning himself as its adversary, Sanders by this point had repeatedly echoed the maximalist conspiracy theories about Trump and Russia, leaving him with little room to maneuver once this Cold War tactic was predictably deployed against him. After suggesting the leak to The Post was intended to harm his campaign, he had no other options beyond sputtering with faux-toughness about how he would show Putin who was boss.

In other words — both prior to the leak and after — Sanders repeatedly validated rather than scorned the CIA’s Russia narrative (just as he did with the equally cynical Bernie Bro attacks). So it put him in a defensive crouch for the rest of the campaign, unable to explain why Putin — Public Enemy Number One among the Democratic Party base — was trying to help him win.

Read more …

“..it would be as constitutional as it would be wrong.”

The President Can Pardon Himself, But That Does Not Mean He Should (Turley)

It seems the subject of Donald Trump, like necessity, is the mother of invention, at least when it comes to legal analysis. From bribery statutes to constitutional provisions, legal experts routinely and unfailingly conclude that Trump or his family can be prosecuted or impeached for an endless array of misdeeds. Even theories denied by the Supreme Court are seen as valid when used against Trump. Now the same certainty has been declared on whether Trump can grant himself a pardon. One of the longest standing debates in constitutional law is dismissed as ill-informed by some of the same experts. His role as a catalyst for clarity was apparent in an interview by Harvard professor Laurence Tribe.

After host Lawrence O’Donnell said he believed a president could give himself a pardon, Tribe proclaimed such a view is “incoherent and incompatible” as a constitutional matter. The declaration likely surprised few on MSNBC. Tribe has been an outspoken critic of Trump, whom he has denounced as a “terrorist,” and he has supported a wide array of criminal and constitutional claims against him. These views are popular as are Tribe’s increasingly personal diatribes, including vulgar attacks on Republican leaders and even a false attack on Attorney William Barr for his Catholic faith. For the record, I have maintained that a president can grant himself a pardon. I held that position before Trump took office. I also believe a president can be indicted in office.

The reason is the same: The Constitution prohibits neither a self-pardon nor a presidential indictment. This is not the first time that Tribe and I have disagreed. Two decades ago, we testified together at the impeachment hearing of President Clinton. At that time, Tribe was far more restrictive in his legal and constitutional interpretations, declaring that lying under oath in the Clinton case would not be an impeachable offense. While a federal court and Democrats agreed that Clinton knowingly committed perjury, Tribe insisted that a president could commit perjury in certain circumstances and not be impeached. Thus, a president can commit a felony for which thousands have been incarcerated, including those prosecuted by his own administration, but he should not be removed from office for the same act.

[..] The stronger argument against a presidential self-pardon is not the textual one raised by Tribe but, simply, that the Constitution should be read to include a principle against self-dealing. Yet presidents regularly engage in all forms of self-dealing, from nepotism to favoritism to cronyism, without a hint of constitutional difficulty. Bill Clinton not only appointed his wife to head a major federal commission on health care but pardoned his own half-brother. The Framers did not bar such forms of self-dealing any more than they barred self-pardons. This is why Trump can pardon himself, and why he should not do so. Just as I denounced Clinton for abusing the pardon powers, I believe such a step by Trump would be an even greater abuse. In other words, it would be as constitutional as it would be wrong.

Read more …

Dec 8 and Dec14 are arbitrary dates. Only Jan 20 is cast in stone.

Rep. Mo Brooks’ Challenge To Electoral College Certification (JTN)

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) faces an uphill battle if he challenges the Electoral College and backs President Trump on Jan. 6, when Congress is scheduled to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. Brooks said this week he has been sharing his plan with fellow House members in hopes of invoking the 12th Amendment and helping Trump win. At least one senator must partner with Brooks to trigger a vote on an electoral challenge, and Brooks told Fox News Radio on Thursday, “We have some leads for United States Senators who may do it.” Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, in a contingent election no candidate wins a majority of Electoral College votes, and the election is thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives.

There, each state’s delegation has one vote, and a candidate must receive the votes of a majority of state delegations to win. Because of the calendar, the new Congress is the one that decides, not the outgoing one. In the new Congress, there are more states with Republican delegations than Democratic ones, so in that scenario, Trump would win. “Thank you to Representative Mo Brooks,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning after news of Brooks’ intention broke. “Ask your senators and congressman if they will object to any Electoral College certification of Joe Biden on January 6,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch tweeted Nov. 23. It’s unlikely, however, that Brooks would be able to successfully invoke the 12th Amendment if he can’t get a majority of both the House and the Senate to support his efforts.

Brooks said he doesn’t think he needs a majority. Legal experts disagree, arguing that while a single member of the House and Senate can raise an objection, majorities in both the House and the Senate would have to approve it for any electoral votes to be tossed out. This would not happen under a Democratic-controlled House. “They are misunderstanding the law,” says election law expert Hans von Spakovsky. The procedures for the counting of Electoral College votes in Congress are set forth in 3 U.S.C. 15, according to von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission and manager of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

“What it says is that an objection can be filed to the certification of votes from the states when they are being counted in the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, if it is signed by one member of the House and one member of the Senate,” he told Just the News. “However, the Senate and the House then each have to stage a vote on the objection, which obviously will not go forward unless a majority of senators and a majority of representatives approve of the objection.”

Read more …

Poland and Hungary are becoming a very big problem for Europe.

Budgets, Vetoes, Values, Defence … Division And Dithering Shame The EU (O.)

It’s all happening at once for the EU. Fundamental problems and disputes, long fudged, postponed or ignored, are simultaneously coming to a head. Is this a union of shared values or of economic interests? Who pays the bills? How is Europe best defended when the US cannot be trusted? What about Turkey? And then there’s “bloody Brexit”. Little wonder some are predicting a nervous collapse. These fraught issues and more will converge at this week’s “doomsday” EU summit, presaging greater-than-usual fractiousness. But if it is as inconclusive as many previous gatherings, the European project faces serious trouble. Implementation of the €1.1tn, seven-year EU budget and €750bn Covid recovery fund cannot sensibly be delayed much longer. Yet two states – Poland and Hungary – are blocking the way.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s rightwing populist leader, and Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, jointly declared last week they would veto the budget if it retained “rule of law” criteria requiring adherence to EU-defined standards of judicial independence. Both governments are in long-running disputes over what Brussels views as their illiberal, “un-European” policies on judges, media freedom and women’s and gender rights. They reject what they call “politically motivated” meddling. The fact that the row is blocking timely pandemic relief shames the EU. If it cannot unite to fight this unprecedented human emergency, voters will ask, then what can it do? Even the experienced German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who holds the EU presidency, is flailing as the French and others insist they will not bow to authoritarian diktats.

This dispute, plus ongoing tensions over the cost of an expanded budget now UK contributions are ending, prompted an intriguing intervention last week from António Costa, the Portuguese prime minister. Portugal assumes the EU presidency next month, and is staring aghast at the can of worms it’s inheriting. Costa’s proposal was suitably radical: effectively split the EU in two, and thus save it, by recognising irreconcilable internal differences. This variation on the old idea of a two-speed or two-tier Europe would be based not on geography but on values, Costa suggested. It would separate the so-called “frugal” states – the Netherlands, Austria and Nordic countries concerned about high spending and fiscal transfers – plus east European states opposed to rule of law mechanisms and migrant quotas – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – from the remainder.

“Basically, it is whether the EU is a union of values or whether, on the contrary, it is primarily an economic instrument,” Costa argued. Countries opposing further integration would benefit from “variable geometries” while others like France, and southern states such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, could pursue their version of ever closer union. It’s a brave idea that Costa, reportedly with French backing, will pursue at a special spring summit in Lisbon. Yet it has a major flaw. Germany, the EU’s chief paymaster with a current net budget contribution of €12.8bn, gives lip service to EU integration and solidarity. But it has a deeply ingrained horror of underwriting the profligacy and pipe-dreams of indebted fellow eurozone members.

This same German reluctance hinders Emmanuel Macron’s ambitions for a unified “global Europe” to match the US and China: Berlin fears it will end up footing the bill, financially and politically. When France’s president called again last month for a sovereign European defence strategy, Germany’s defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, slapped him down. “The idea of strategic autonomy for Europe goes too far if it nurtures the illusion that we could ensure Europe’s security, stability and prosperity without Nato and the US … Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves without America’s nuclear and conventional power. This is simply a fact,” she said. Macron was furious.

Read more …

Not going to happen.

UK Urged To Follow Denmark In Ending North Sea Oil And Gas Exploration (O.)

Britain must end all oil and gas extraction in the North Sea as a matter of urgency if it is to maintain its position as a credible climate champion. That was the stark warning issued by green campaigners yesterday in the wake of last week’s decision by Denmark to halt its exploration for new North Sea reserves as part of its commitment to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change. The Danish decision is an embarrassment for Boris Johnson who announced last week that Britain would take a lead in the battle against global heating by cutting national carbon emissions by 68% by 2030, a rate faster than any other major economy. However, the UK has not announced plans to end exploration in the North Sea for new gas and oil fields or to halt extraction there – despite the established link between global warming and fossil fuel extraction and burning.

By announcing its North Sea ban last week, say campaigners, Denmark has undermined Johnson’s attempt to portray himself as a world climate leader next Saturday when he is scheduled to co-host a virtual Climate Ambition summit of world leaders. “If the UK is to be a real global climate leader, it must follow Denmark’s lead by stopping issuing new oil and gas exploration licences and delivering a managed phase-out of oil and gas extraction,” said Ken Penton, UK climate campaigner for the international NGO, Global Witness. “This must include funding a just transition for oil and gas workers and their communities to ensure they can benefit from the new green economy and do not suffer the fate of UK coal miners and their communities.”

The Danish government voted on Thursday to cancel the country’s next North Sea oil and gas licensing round, 80 years after it first began exploiting its hydrocarbon reserves. Denmark’s 55 existing platforms, spread across 20 oil and gas fields, will be allowed to continue extracting fossil fuels but the decision to end the hunt for new reserves will guarantee an end to Denmark’s fossil fuel production.

Read more …

 

 

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Stephanie Kelton Deficits

 

 

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Nov 082020
 


David Hockney The Pond in Autumn 1 November 2020

 

Winner of Trump-Biden Race Will Be Determined By Courts (Jenna Ellis)
Nov. 7 – Biden Hasn’t Won Yet; Trump Has A Path(s) (McCann)
Life Under Biden (Jim Rickards)
Another Election Computer Glitch In Michigan Reversed (JTN)
The GOP Did Not Carry 71,000,000+ Votes, President Trump Did (sundance)
The Kafka Election: Finding a Way Out of the Maze (Miele)
Speedy COVID19 Healers Keep Producing Antibodies After Infection (F.)
The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test (Sacré)
The Narrative Problem After Peak Oil (Watkins)

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

From one of Trump‘s lawyers.

Winner of Trump-Biden Race Will Be Determined By Courts (Jenna Ellis)

Despite projections by many news organizations Saturday that former Vice President Joe Biden has won the presidential election and defeated President Trump, the media don’t have the power to decide the outcome of American elections. Legal challenges by the Trump reelection campaign, where I serve as a legal adviser, are still before the courts and we await judicial rulings on our challenges. In other words, as the late baseball great Yogi Berra said in 1973, referring to the National League pennant race: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” We all want to know who will be president for the next four years. But all Americans should want accurate results above all, no matter who they supported in the race.

So it’s important for everyone to realize that Trump campaign legal challenges must be resolved in the courts before we have an official and legally binding decision on who won the 2020 presidential election. President Trump will continue fighting to ensure a fair and accurate election result. He is right to do this, because it’s vital that we keep our elections free and fair. As Americans, we should all be able to recognize that our rule of law governs and our election process works accurately. For President Trump, the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee, the rule of law, fundamental fairness and accuracy in election results are the goals. None of the legal fights we are waging are novel arguments or anything more than an effort to ensure a fair and accurate election outcome.


Our nation went through a legal challenge to the results in Florida during the 2000 presidential election between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore, for example. Twenty years ago, some news organizations prematurely said Gore won that very close election and would become the next president of the United States. Those news organizations later pulled back their projections. Legal challenges by the Bush campaign went all the way to the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court determined that George W. Bush won the election. Imagine how different history would have turned out if Bush has simply thrown in the towel as soon as he heard someone on TV say Gore won the race.

Bill Binney

Read more …

Molly McCann is on Sidney Powell’s team.

Nov. 7 – Biden Hasn’t Won Yet; Trump Has A Path(s) (McCann)

The media called the election today, as many predicted would happen. As noted yesterday, the media and the Democrats were desperate to call it. They want to shift momentum to Biden and frame Trump as a sore loser, and worse, a despot attempting a coup. This election is still in play. Arizona is not fully in yet, and Trump continues to close his margin there. The latest results were still breaking for Trump with the margins he needs to close the gap and take the state. We’ll see. Georgia is going to go to a recount no matter what. Pennsylvania is a disaster zone…for the Democrats. I’m not sure if the 100,000 provisional ballots have been counted yet, but they hadn’t been counted when they called the election for Biden. Those could swing Trump back into the lead in PA. There is still so much at play. Are we looking at razor-thin margins? Yes. Has Biden won yet? No. If we could hold Georgia and Arizona outright, I think we could knock out Pennsylvania at SCOTUS. This is the actual electoral map right now:

So, does Trump have a path forward? Yes. First of all, Trump could still win in a relatively traditional manner. Because remember, even though the media is demanding Trump concede, recounts in elections happen with relative regularity. People contest results and we go through processes to make sure everything is above board. 2020 is election insanity on an unprecedented scale (I think), but procedurally, this is not some crazy aberration in politics or elections. So, Trump might still be able to win traditionally, and I pray he does. But it might take more than that.


If we lose Arizona and Georgia and Pennsylvania, then Trump will have to kick it up a notch. He’ll need to block certification and pursue more aggressive measures to win. It should go without saying that I am advocating legal aggressive measures, but given the present circumstances, perhaps best to clarify. I hope he pursues some of those options sooner rather than later.

Read more …

“Biden is running for president in name only. He has never been that bright. He has accomplished little in his almost fifty years in public service. He is physically frail and clearly suffering acute cognitive decline.”

Life Under Biden (Jim Rickards)

This was a historic, turning-point election. Turning-point elections are the most historic because they put the country on a different path: Party Politics in 1800, Populism in 1828, Civil War in 1860, Liberalism in 1932, and Conservatism in 1980. Every 100 years, America gets a president who shakes the establishment and cleans out the Washington sewers. In the 1800s it was Andrew Jackson. In the 1900s it was Teddy Roosevelt. In the 2000s, it’s Donald Trump. There is no doubt that Trump and Biden would lead America in almost opposite directions with profound consequences for the future of the country and for future elections. If Trump had won, we would have gotten more of the same, which is saying a lot.

Trump would offer more tax cuts (or at least preserve the tax cuts we’ve received). He’d offer less regulation, a major accomplishment of his first term. Trump would continue the trade war with China and expand it in ways that would move jobs back to the United States (or at least get them out of China into friendlier countries such as Vietnam and India). He would also curtail Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property and cut off Chinese tech investment in the United States. Trump has also stopped foreign installation of sensitive 5G telecommunications systems from Huawei and ZTE, which are hidden arms of the Chinese military. Trump built alliances to constrain Chinese expansion efforts. His main breakthrough was the Quad Alliance of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India that effectively surrounds and can interdict China’s sea lanes to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Trump also made great strides toward Middle East peace with the first two Israeli-Arab peace treaties in twenty-five years – one with the UAE and one with Bahrain. Other peace treaties with Israel may have followed. Finally, Trump was imposing crippling sanctions on Iran that would have forced it to negotiate in good faith on its nuclear program or crush its economy in ways that would also impede its efforts at terrorism and nuclear weapons. With Trump, what you see is what you get: Lower taxes, less regulation, more jobs, no new wars, peace in the Middle East, and peace through strength in confronting Iran and China. With four more years, Trump could have accomplished his goals and perhaps be ranked among the ten most significant presidents of all time.

Biden is another matter entirely. First of all, Biden is running for president in name only. He has never been that bright. He has accomplished little in his almost fifty years in public service. He is physically frail and clearly suffering acute cognitive decline. If Joe Biden does win, he’ll be 78 years old when sworn in and 82 years old at the end of his first term. Both marks are the oldest in U.S. history for a president. Some individuals are still sharp in their late 70s. Biden is not one of them. The result is that Biden will never be president de facto. With Trump out of the picture, Democrats wouldn’t need him anymore. Steps would be taken at some point to remove him from office on the grounds of mental incapacity under the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Nancy Pelosi recently proposed legislation to set up a commission to do just that as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

But while he remains in office, who will be the real president in a Biden administration? There are three camps contending for power: The first camp is the Biden family led by Joe Biden’s wife Dr. Jill Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden’s brothers Jim Biden and Frank Biden. These are the individuals who have been enriched through association with Joe Biden by using or selling access to Biden’s power to win lucrative investment management roles, consulting engagements, construction contracts and other remunerative pursuits. The Biden family will want to keep Joe in power (with Jill Biden pulling the strings) in order to keep their shakedown operation intact and avoid scrutiny.

The second camp is led by Kamala Harris and those who control her, including the Obama crew and the Resistance. If Biden is removed under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Harris becomes Acting President. If Biden resigns under threat of removal, Harris becomes the president. She would be a front for the Obamas and Valerie Jarrett who would operate through a cabinet consisting of Obama family retainers including Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Sally Yates and Eric Holder.

The third camp is led by the extreme left wing of the party including Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (and The Squad), Elizabeth Warren and radical organizations such as BLM. This group is already embedded in the Biden campaign as part of a deal whereby Bernie Sanders agreed to end his primary campaign and endorse Joe Biden in exchange for Biden adopting most of the Sanders platform. The most likely outcome is that the Obama crew and the Bernie Bros will join forces and run the Biden family off the road. The Bidens will be allowed to keep their Chinese and Russian money and will not face any scrutiny or prosecution in exchange for going away quietly.

Healing- “burn down the Republican Party” – Jennifer Rubin

Read more …

“County Worker Reportedly Submitted Two Sets Of Absentee Ballots Twice”

Another Election Computer Glitch In Michigan Reversed (JTN)

A Michigan Republican received a welcome shock when his apparent loss at the polls was reversed due to the county’s fix of a “technical glitch” that originally had him losing the election. Adam Kochenderfer was originally declared the loser in his race against Democrat Melanie Hartman for a position on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. The narrow race appeared to end with Hartman the winner by just 104 votes. Yet the county clerk soon discovered that a set of absentee ballots had actually been reported in the voter totals twice. Once the duplicate set was removed, Kochenderfer came out ahead by 1,127 votes.


“This is proof that our process of checks and balances works,” County Clerk Lisa Brown said after the discovery. “A methodical canvass is an essential tool to ensure an accurate count and precise results.” Kochenderfer’s was the second race in Michigan so far in which a glitch was revealed to have displayed the incorrect outcome of a race. An alleged software glitch in Antrim County, Michigan earlier this week incorrectly awarded thousands of winning votes to Joe Biden; a recount of ballots subsequently revealed Trump was the county winner.

Soros voting machines

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Can Trump set up that long-awaited third party?

The GOP Did Not Carry 71,000,000+ Votes, President Trump Did (sundance)

As the republican establishment contemplates positioning themselves amid President Trump’s resolute intent to highlight a 2020 election filled with with demonstrable fraud, they would be prudent to check their political ego. President Trump has created a movement and collected the largest factual constituency of voters in the nation. This is the hill we stand upon, there is no other fallback position. As of this writing the indefatigable leader of the MAGA movement gathered 71 million votes for his re-election, and still climbing. Subtract the fraudulent and manipulated ‘mail-in’ ballots from the Biden operation and you have a reality of 71 million MAGA army members staring toward an opposition front containing battalions of cardboard cutouts.

No amount of media spin is going to change the reality of that political landscape. Regardless of whether Donald Trump’s legal arsenal is able to overcome the entrenched media operations drum-beating a deafening noise to distract from the 2020 fraud, that MAGA army is solidly behind our leader…. so consider this: If President Trump takes that army into a new political party of his choosing, that new party is structurally set to lay waste to any candidate within both wings of the Democrat and Republican assembly. A Trump inspired new political party can wipe out the illusion of the Democrat/Republican two-party system; specifically because much of the Trump movement consists of former democrats and brand new voters.


The MAGA coalition is the most diverse, widest and deepest part of the entire American electorate. President Trump’s army consists of every creed, color, race, gender, ethnicity and orientation. It is a truly color-blind coalition of middle America patriots and middle-class voters that cuts through the political special interest groups. Quite simply Trump’s MAGA army is the ultimate political splitter party. No Republican will ever hold office in the next decade without the blessing of President Trump; and there is absolutely no current confidence that President Trump will not lay waste to the system if the GOP acquiesces to the transparent fraud that exists behind the Biden-Harris sham.

Read more …

“News channels don’t count a damn thing. They just report numbers shipped out by election offices in various counties across the country, and if CNN or any other news outfit were actually doing their jobs, they would be alert for patterns suggesting fraud in the numbers..”

The Kafka Election: Finding a Way Out of the Maze (Miele)

The 2020 election is a nightmare from which I — along with millions of others — am trying to awake. Like many dark dreams, it is uncertain exactly what is happening. Phantasmic ballots come and go. Seemingly insurmountable Republican victories disappear into the mouth of a vote-munching machine and come out the other side as excremental — oops, I mean incremental — Democratic leads just beyond the reach of a recount. And as in any nightmare worth its salt, just when you think it’s about to end, a new trap door opens and you fall into yet one more level of confusion and chaos in a maze with no exit in sight. But this is America. It’s not supposed to be a Kafka novel.

So how did we get to a place where, days after the election was held, despite many proclamations by news organizations to the contrary, we still don’t know who won, we don’t know who voted, and we don’t know for sure whether the rules were followed in either voting or counting? Various irregularities have been reported in five big cities, all in strategic states, and particularly in Detroit, Mich.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Atlanta, Ga.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Las Vegas, Nev. The allegations range from mysterious ballot drops that seem to show tens of thousands of votes for Joe Biden and zero votes for President Trump, inexplicable record turnouts in late-counting counties (all Democrat-dominated) that far surpass turnouts in counties in other states where the votes were counted on a timely basis; and of course the illegal banning of election observers in those very counties where the most outrageous anomalies are reported.

Democrats tell us that there is nothing to see here, and the compliant media dutifully moves along, unwilling to investigate on its own or even express any concern about potential wrongdoing. Even Fox News has turned into a lapdog for the Democrat Party, calling Arizona for Joe Biden long before anyone could know for sure which way the state would turn. On Thursday night, as Fulton County was just about to swing Georgia into the Biden column, CNN’s John King arrogantly lectured Donald Trump: “Guess what, Mr. President? We’re gonna count the votes, and if they favor you, we’re gonna show that. And if they don’t, we’re gonna show that. That’s how democracy works. We’re just counting the votes.”


Um, no, that’s not the way it works. News channels don’t count a damn thing. They just report numbers shipped out by election offices in various counties across the country, and if CNN or any other news outfit were actually doing their jobs, they would be alert for patterns suggesting fraud in the numbers they report. If “just counting the votes” were all that it took to have a democracy, then Vladimir Putin’s Russia would be a glorious example of democracy, as would the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Read more …

We’re 11 months into a pandemic. And still we know so little.

Speedy COVID19 Healers Keep Producing Antibodies After Infection (F.)

New research has identified a group of Covid-19 patients who are capable of speedy recoveries and can produce protective antibodies for months after their initial infection, a finding that runs counter to a lot of recent research showing that antibody levels — and, potentially, immunity — rapidly decline following infection and points to the possibility that some people have immune systems that are better able to fight the virus. Researchers, led by a team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that almost one in five coronavirus patients sustained antibody production for several months after infection, in contrast with other patients who experienced a rapid decline in antibody levels.

These patients also tended to recover faster than other Covid-19 patients, cutting their recovery time by about a third, as well as showing differences in two types of immune cell that play key roles in the immune system, the researchers wrote in Cell, a top scientific journal. It is unclear whether the findings are representative of the population as a whole, and the researchers themselves stressed that future investigations must look beyond the limited demographic they studied, with most volunteers being adult white women with mild Covid-19. Dr. Duane Wesemann, one of the researchers and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said the immune response of these quick healers was like an insurance policy — “it’s the immune system’s way of adding a potential layer of protection against future encounters with the virus,” he said.

Wesemann added that it was possible the findings “point to a type of immune response” that is better at dealing with Covid-19, which could be important in the fight to control the virus. Understanding how the immune system responds to Covid-19 over time is a vital component in controlling the pandemic, underpinning public health measures, treatments, and how vaccines are developed and administered. A lot of early attention has focused on antibodies, proteins produced by the immune system that can lock onto the virus, with research generally showing sharp declines following infection. These are relatively easy to study, but do not give a complete picture of the body’s immune system.


There is a lot that remains unknown about how immunity to Covid-19 works and how that changes over time. To date, many studies show sharp declines in antibody levels in the months following infection, though antibodies, or the lack thereof, do not necessarily indicate immunity to infection. Reinfections, though rare, have been reported, with some reports suggesting that the second infection is worse than the first.

Read more …

This is good. A bit long and opinionated and all over the place, but a lot of useful information.

The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test (Sacré)

All current propaganda on the COVID-19 pandemic is based on an assumption that is considered obvious, true and no longer questioned: Positive RT-PCR test means being sick with COVID. This assumption is misleading. Very few people, including doctors, understand how a PCR test works. RT-PCR means Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction. In French, it means: Réaction de Polymérisation en Chaîne en Temps Réel. In medicine, we use this tool mainly to diagnose a viral infection. Starting from a clinical situation with the presence or absence of particular symptoms in a patient, we consider different diagnoses based on tests.

In the case of certain infections, particularly viral infections, we use the RT-PCR technique to confirm a diagnostic hypothesis suggested by a clinical picture. We do not routinely perform RT-PCR on any patient who is overheated, coughing or has an inflammatory syndrome! It is a laboratory, molecular biology technique of gene amplification because it looks for gene traces (DNA or RNA) by amplifying them. In addition to medicine, other fields of application are genetics, research, industry and forensics. The technique is carried out in a specialized laboratory, it cannot be done in any laboratory, even a hospital. This entails a certain cost, and a delay sometimes of several days between the sample and the result.

Today, since the emergence of the new disease called COVID-19 (COrona VIrus Disease-2019), the RT-PCR diagnostic technique is used to define positive cases, confirmed as SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus responsible for the new acute respiratory distress syndrome called COVID-19). These positive cases are assimilated to COVID-19 cases, some of whom are hospitalized or even admitted to intensive care units. Official postulate of our managers: positive RT-PCR cases = COVID-19 patients. This is the starting postulate, the premise of all official propaganda, which justifies all restrictive government measures: isolation, confinement, quarantine, mandatory masks, color codes by country and travel bans, tracking, social distances in companies, stores and even, even more importantly, in schools.


This misuse of RT-PCR technique is used as a relentless and intentional strategy by some governments, supported by scientific safety councils and by the dominant media, to justify excessive measures such as the violation of a large number of constitutional rights, the destruction of the economy with the bankruptcy of entire active sectors of society, the degradation of living conditions for a large number of ordinary citizens, under the pretext of a pandemic based on a number of positive RT-PCR tests, and not on a real number of patients.

Read more …

A long review of an old topic.

The Narrative Problem After Peak Oil (Watkins)

For most of the last decade, we have been sold a techno-utopian fairy tale about “peak oil demand.” Instead of “running out” of oil, the problem for the oil industry, we were told, was that the switch to “clean energy” and to technologies like electric cars and hydrogen-powered buses meant that demand for oil was declining. Within a decade or so, they claimed, our need for oil would disappear entirely as we ushered in a “fourth industrial revolution” based around digital products and services powered by renewable energy.


As with all narratives, there is just enough truth in this story to give it a veneer of credibility. Per capita demand for oil – and, indeed, for fossil fuels generally – has been declining. So that is you are a middle class metropolitan liberal – the kind of people who edit and write for the establishment media – you look around and notice your friends driving electric cars; you uncritically swallow the press statements of the windfarm owners; and you observe the declining per capita consumption of oil; and you tell yourself that this is peak oil demand in action. The data says something very different:

Despite a Herculean effort to bring non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies online, they still account for less than five percent of global primary energy consumption. Worse still, they have not replaced fossil fuels; they have just been added to the global mix. And while developed states like Germany and the UK have gone a long way toward decarbonising their domestic electricity generation, a large part of their true pollution has been offshored to Asia. Only if they are prepared to forego all of the fossil-fuel powered goods they import can they truly claim to be embarking upon a new industrial revolution. Until then, the “green new deal” is just another name for the same old imperialism that they have always practiced.

Peak oil – including from fracking and tar sands – finally occurred in 2018. Hardly anyone noticed because – as happened in the USA in 1970 – everyone assumed that it would be a temporary blip. Oil extraction in 2019 was not substantially lower than 2018; but there was no month in 2019 when extraction was higher than it had been in November 2018. And, of course, in 2020 the world discovered more urgent issues to worry about. Nevertheless, oil extraction – and oil demand – plummeted as a result of the various state responses to the pandemic. Some wells will be shut permanently as the cost of reopening them is too high. Others will reopen, but only if the price of oil rises considerably. Pipelines and refineries will also have to be repaired. On the demand side, even the most optimistic economists and politicians have ceased talking about “V-shaped recoveries.” With Europe and parts of the USA embarking on pre-Christmas lockdowns, demand across the global economy is expected to be crushed. This spells lower rather than higher oil prices in the next couple of years.


It is in this that we glimpse the part of the peak oil story that was often overlooked by the first peak oilers. The simple assumption that falling oil production would lead to higher oil prices failed to examine the impact of oil prices on the wider economy. Nevertheless, the economy is primarily an energy system upon which the secondary financial economy is merely a claim. Rather than examining the price of oil, we have to understand its energy cost. If we begin with a certain amount of energy, then a fraction must be devoted to securing future energy. Another fraction must be set aside for maintaining the infrastructure required to keep the system running. A third fraction must be set aside to invest in the future energy supply. These, though, will only account for a small part of the energy available to us. The remainder will power the much larger, non-energy economy

Read more …

 

 

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Michelle Malkin

 

 

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Nov 032020
 


Paul Klee Fire at Full Moon 1933

 

How the Coronavirus Hacks the Immune System (Somers)
Taleb: Global Coronavirus Response A Case Study Of Incompetence, Denial (CNBC)
Mueller Declined To Indict Assange And Wikileaks Due To Lack Of Evidence (BF)
DHS, FBI Spin Dubious Russian Election Threat Days Before Voting (GZ)
Donald Trump Set To Win US Presidency By Electoral College Landslide (DI)
The Trump Vote Is Rising Among Blacks And Hispanics (NBC)
The Awful Reckoning (Jim Kunstler)
The Worst Choice Ever (Taibbi)
Twitter Flags Trump’s Tweet Warning Of ‘Violence In The Streets’ (RT)
You Are No Longer My Mother, Because You Are Voting For Trump (ZH)
Who Wins If Trump Loses (Tracey)
Ukraine’s Zelensky Calls On His Party To Fire Constitutional Court (KP)

 

 

Tucker: Trump is an indictment of America’s ruling class. They love Donald Trump because no-one else loves them.

 

 

@simongerman600: Level 1:This map from a @cgpgrey shows that winning 50.1% of each red state would be enough to become president. That means with only 22% of total US votes you could win an election. Broken system much? Source: https://buff.ly/3g6IGVq

 

 

How the Coronavirus Hacks the Immune System (Somers)

Whereas the sequencing of DNA defined molecular biology in the early two-thousands, the sequencing of RNA defines it today. If you imagine a cell as a kind of computer, then your DNA contains all the software that it could possibly run. It is a somewhat astonishing fact of life that the exact same DNA is shared by every cell in your body, from the skin to the brain; those cells differ in appearance and function because, in each of them, a molecular gizmo “transcribes” some DNA segments rather than others into molecules of single-stranded RNA. These bits of RNA are in turn used as the blueprints for proteins, the molecular machines that do most of a cell’s work. If DNA is your phone’s home screen, then transcription is like tapping an icon.

By sampling the RNA present in a group of cells, researchers can see which programs those cells are running at that moment; by sampling it after the cells have been infected with a virus, they can see how that virus substitutes its own software. TenOever’s team quickly discovered that sars-CoV-2 was uncannily good at disrupting cellular programming. A typical virus replaces less than 1% of the software in the cells it infects. With sars-CoV-2, tenOever said, about 60% of the RNA in an infected cell is of viral origin—“which is the highest I’ve ever seen. Polio comes close.” Among other things, the virus rewires the alarm system that cells use to warn others about infection. Normally, as part of what is known as the “innate” immune response—so called because it is genetically hardwired, and not tailored to a specific pathogen—a cell sends out two kinds of signals.

One signal, carried by molecules called interferons, travels to neighboring cells, telling them to build defenses that slow viral spread. Another signal, transmitted through molecules called cytokines, gets a message to the circulatory system’s epithelial lining. The white blood cells summoned by this second signal don’t just eat invaders and infected cells; they also gather up their dismembered protein parts. Elsewhere in the immune system, these fragments are used to create virus-specific antibodies, as part of a sophisticated “adaptive” response that can take six or seven days to develop. Usually, the viruses that humans care about are successful because they shut down both of these signalling programs.

The coronavirus is different. “It seems to block only one of those two arms,” tenOever told me. It inhibits the interferon response but does nothing about the cytokines; it evades the local defenses but allows the cells it infects to call for reinforcements. White blood cells are powerful weapons: they arrive on an inflammatory tide, destroying cells on every side, clogging up passages with the wreckage. They are meant to be used selectively, on invaders that have been contained in a small area. With the coronavirus, they are deployed too widely—a carpet bombing, rather than a surgical strike. As they do their work, inflammation distends the lungs, and debris fills them like a fog.

In late May, tenOever’s team shared its findings in the biweekly journal Cell. In their article, they argued that it’s this imbalanced immune response that gives severe covid-19—which can sometimes cause blood clots, strange swelling in children, and ultra-inflammatory “cytokine storms”—the character of an autoimmune disorder. As the virus spreads unchecked through the body, it drags a destructive immune reaction behind it. Individuals with covid-19 face the same challenge as nations during the pandemic: if they can’t contain small sites of infection early—so that a targeted response can root them out—they end up mounting interventions so large that the shock inflicts its own damage.

Read more …

“You have to treat it as an opaque system. You do not know what is going to happen, and therefore it is going to be one or the other 50-50,” says @nntaleb on the 2020 election.”

Taleb: Global Coronavirus Response A Case Study Of Incompetence, Denial (CNBC)

The global governmental response to the coronavirus pandemic has been rife with shortcomings that have prolonged the acute phase of the health crisis, “Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb told CNBC on Monday. “I think this is a case study of government worldwide incompetence in dealing with a problem and denial,” said Taleb, whose bestselling 2007 book warned of highly improbable events and their potential for severe consequences. In a “Squawk Box” interview, Taleb specifically pointed to the importance of coronavirus testing. While countries have improved their capacity since the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, Taleb said there has been a failure to develop quick, efficient testing at a scale that can cut off chains of transmission early. It also has the least economic cost, he said.


“Ten months into the pandemic, we still don’t have systematic testing when you board a plane or when you want to go to a restaurant or something,” said Taleb, a professor of risk engineering at New York University. “If we had instant, systematic testing, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be talking now about the pandemic.” Taleb’s comments come as coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe are surging again, leading to governments in the U.K., Germany and France to put in place varying degrees of lockdowns in hopes of reducing the spread. In America, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said recently the country “could not possibly be positioned more poorly,” as daily case counts set a series of record highs.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. Imagine this continuing until January, February, March because in the winter people are inside so contagion rates are higher,” Taleb said. “Think about what can happen. It’s not that rosy.” Taleb said he believes everyday citizens and government leaders have, for the most part, failed to grasp the potential consequences of the pandemic. “I’m seeing a lot of denial in social life, everywhere, about this virus from the beginning,” he said. “Now we’re 10 months into this virus, and people are still hoping for a vaccine, something that will cancel it.” [..] “You should realize you have more uncertainty ahead now than you think. The returns can be a lot better or a lot worse than you think,” Taleb said, though he refused to comment on returns directly. “There’s a tendency of people to underestimate that uncertainty is chronic.”

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“At 10:04 PM on the night before an election, we discover that as part of his investigation into DNC hacking/election interference, Mueller declined to indict Assange and WikiLeaks due to a lack of evidence and First Amendment concerns.”

Ad Jesus Christ, Buzzfeed, there were never any hacked emails. Stop that nonsense!

Mueller Declined To Indict Assange And Wikileaks Due To Lack Of Evidence (BF)

Prosecutors investigated Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone for the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers as well as for possible campaign finance violations, but ultimately chose not to charge them, newly released portions of the Mueller Report reveal. Although Wikileaks published emails stolen from the DNC in July and October 2016 and Stone — a close associate to Donald Trump — appeared to know in advance the materials were coming, investigators “did not have sufficient evidence” to prove active participation in the hacks or knowledge that the electronic thefts were continuing. In addition, federal prosecutors could not establish that the hacked emails amounted to campaign contributions benefitting Trump’s election chances and furthermore felt their publication might have been protected by the First Amendment, making a successful prosecution tenuous.

The fresh details of special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision not to charge Assange, WikiLeaks, or Stone for their role in influencing the 2016 election come just a day before voters head to the polls for the 2020 presidential election. The material sheds new light on the seriousness with which the special counsel investigated the hacks of Democratic party computers. In July 2018, Mueller indicted 12 Russian officers belonging to the Kremlin’s intelligence directorate, the GRU, for the theft and distribution of those emails. The role that Stone and Assange may have played in the hacks or their distribution has been the subject of much speculation. Little, however, was known about how intently the special counsel focused on those individuals as possible targets for prosecution during the two-year investigation into Russian election interference.

But a new version of the 448-page Mueller report released Monday by the Justice Department contains previously redacted sections on 13 pages, nearly all of them dealing with events surrounding the hacked emails and their eventual publication. The passages were disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed by BuzzFeed News and the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center, that called on the government to release the report in its entirety. In September, a federal judge ruled that while some parts could still remain hidden, the government had violated the law by withholding portions dealing with internal discussions among prosecutors. The judge ordered the Justice Department to release relevant sections by Nov. 2.

Read more …

But at the same time that Mueller’s utter failure becomes even clearer, they just start again as if nothing ever happened to discredit these ludicrous claims.

DHS, FBI Spin Dubious Russian Election Threat Days Before Voting (GZ)

Just days before the 2020 election the bureaucratic forces behind the original claim of Russian hacking of state election-related websites in 2016 launched a new drive to spawn fears of Moscow-made political chaos in the wake of the voting. The new narrative was not consistent with information previously published by the the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), however. It was so incoherent, in fact, that it suggested a state of panic on the part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials worried about a possible transition to a Joe Biden administration. On October 20, Christopher Krebs, the head of CISA, issued a video statement expressing confidence that “it would be incredibly difficult for them to change the outcome of an election at the national level.”

Then he abruptly changed his tone, adding, “But that doesn’t mean various actors won’t try to introduce chaos in our elections and make sensational claims that overstate their capabilities. In fact, the days and weeks just before and after Election Day is the perfect time for our adversaries to launch efforts intended to undermine your confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.” Krebs’ warning of a possible Russian announcement that hackers had succeeded in disrupting the result of the U.S. election was so removed from reality that it suggested internal panic DHS over the failure of Russian hackers to do anything that could be cited as interfering the election.

Two days after Krebs’ dubious warning, the FBI and the DHS’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an “alert” reporting that “a Russian state-sponsored APT [Advanced Persistent Threat] actor” known as “Berserk Bear” had “conducted a campaign against a wide variety of U.S. targets.” Since “at least September,” according to the DHS alert, the DHS warning claimed that it had targeted “dozens” of “U.S. state, local, territorial and tribal government networks.” It even claimed that the supposed Russian campaign had compromised the network infrastructure of several official organizations and “exfiltrated data from at least two victims servers”. At the same time, it acknowledged there was “no indication” that any government operations had been “intentionally disrupted.”

The report went on to suggest, “[T]here may be some risk to elections information housed on SLTT [state, local territorial and tribal] government networks.” And then it abruptly shifted tone and level of analysis to offer the speculation that the Russian government “may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies or actions”, or to “delegitimize” the “government entities”. On October 28, Krebs elaborated on the latter theme in an interview with the PBS NewsHour. Referring inaccurately to government warnings about “Russian interference, some of which targeted voter registration,” which the FBI-CISA alert had never mentioned, PBS interviewer William Brangham asked, “Do you worry at all that there might be infiltration that we are not aware of?” Instead of correcting Brangham’s inaccurate suggestion, Krebs responded that “infiltration” into voter registration files was “certainly possible,” but that “[W]e have improved the ability to detect compromises or anomalous activity.”

Read more …

UK Sunday Express and Democracy Institute poll.

“Mr Biden still comes a distant third when asked about who has had the most positive impact on the criminal justice system with 14 percent behind both Mr Trump and the celebrity Kim Kardashian both on 43 percent.”

Donald Trump Set To Win US Presidency By Electoral College Landslide (DI)

Donald Trump is on course to win four more years in the White House with a one point lead in the popular win, the final Democracy Institute poll for the Sunday Express has found. The survey of voters by the US President’s favourite pollsters gives him 48 percent ahead of his rival Joe Biden on 47 percent. In the last days of the campaign the Democrat former vice president who has been dogged by corruption allegations surrounding his son Hunter which have, according to the poll, cut through with the electorate. Significantly, the President has, according to the latest findings, maintained a four point lead of 49 percent to 45 percent in the key swing states including Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

It means he is on course to easily win the electoral college by 326 to 212 votes against his Democrat rival in a result which would shock the world even more than his astonishing defeat of Hilary Clinton in 2016. The Democracy Institute/Sunday Express poll has throughout the campaign been one of the few to predict a Trump victory since March. This is because unlike other polls it only looks at people identifying as likely voters instead of just registered to vote and it has tried to identify the shy Trump vote. According to this latest poll almost eight in ten (79 percent) of Trump supporters would not admit it to friends and family compared to 21 percent of Biden supporters.

With the race hotting up in the final days allegations that Mr Biden and his family are corrupt surrounding claims about his son Hunter’s business dealings with China and the Ukraine using family connections appear to have had cut through. There was controversy when social media platforms including Twitter apparently attempted to filter out the stories surrounding Hunter Biden published by the New York Post. But the row has, according to the poll, only helped to put the issue in the public consciousness more. Asked who they thought was telling the truth about the Biden family allegations 57 percent chose businessman and former Biden associate Tony Bobulinski who has levelled accusations against the former vice President.

Meanwhile, 52 percent agreed that Mr Biden is “a corrupt politician” with 21 percent saying they are less likely to vote for him and 75 percent saying it makes no difference. Asked if the allegations made him a national security risk, 54 percent agreed that it did. [..] Mr Biden still comes a distant third when asked about who has had the most positive impact on the criminal justice system with 14 percent behind both Mr Trump and the celebrity Kim Kardashian both on 43 percent.

Trump within one state of winning

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“Trump is polling about 10 percentage points higher with African Americans than he did in 2016, and 14 percentage points higher with Hispanics.”

The Trump Vote Is Rising Among Blacks And Hispanics (NBC)

In 2016, Donald Trump got a lower share of the white vote than the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and white turnout was stagnant as compared to 2012. Trump was able to win nonetheless because he got a higher share of Black and Hispanic voters than his predecessor — up roughly 3 percentage points with African Americans and 2 percentage points with Hispanics — helping tilt pivotal races in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania toward Trump. That is, it was minorities, not whites, who proved more decisive for Trump’s victory. Going into Election Day in 2020, Trump seems poised to do even better with minority voters.

His gains in the polling have been highly consistent and broad-based among Blacks and Hispanics — with male voters and female voters, the young and the old, educated and uneducated. Overall, Trump is polling about 10 percentage points higher with African Americans than he did in 2016, and 14 percentage points higher with Hispanics. Perceptions of Trump as racist seem to be a core driving force pushing whites toward the Democrats. Why would the opposite pattern be holding among minority voters — i.e. the very people the president is purportedly being racist against? It may be that many minority voters simply do not view some of his controversial comments and policies as racist. Too often, scholars try to test whether something is racist by looking exclusively at whether the rhetoric or proposals they disagree with resonate with whites.

They frequently don’t even bother to test whether they might appeal to minorities, as well. Yet when they do, the results tend to be surprising. For instance, one recent study presented white, Black and Hispanic voters with messages the researchers considered to be racial “dog whistles,” or coded language that signals commitment to white supremacy. It turned out that the messages resonated just as strongly with Blacks as they did with whites. Hispanics responded even more warmly to the rhetoric about crime and immigration than other racial groups. That is, on balance, these “racist” messages seemed to resonate more strongly with minorities than whites! Across racial groups, most did not find the messages to be racist or offensive— despite researchers viewing these examples as clear-cut cases of racial dog whistles.

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“There’s no precedent for a president-elect resigning before he is sworn into office. No doubt there will be lawsuits over this and they will lead post-haste to Supreme Court adjudication.”

The Awful Reckoning (Jim Kunstler)

And, if by some mysterious act of God (or write-in ballot fraud) Joe Biden manages to get elected POTUS, how can he possibly be inaugurated with himself and his family tangled up in a grift case that involves the Chinese Communist Party’s intel service? It flat-out ain’t gonna happen. Mr. Biden will be forced to disqualify himself. Does Kamala Harris then become Acting-POTUS. There’s no precedent for a president-elect resigning before he is sworn into office. No doubt there will be lawsuits over this and they will lead post-haste to Supreme Court adjudication. At the same time, also look for an all-out Lawfare assault on individual state voting outcomes and the translation of dubiously harvested votes into electoral college alt-delegations.

Lawfare will bring to bear every legerdemain in the trick-bag of legal necromancy to work this scam in the Democratic Party’s favor. But they will not go unopposed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. And what will it avail the Lawfare campaign, anyway, as Mr. Biden gets buried in allegations of criminal misconduct. And — not to lard the lily, as they say — what happens if, post-election and before January 20, Messers Barr and Durham just happen to finally deliver indictments against the perps of RussiaGate? Oh, won’t this be a world-beating political mess of all messes ever? Think the stock and bond markets will love it? Meanwhile, will we be treated to the extravaganza of Antifa and BLM burning and looting in the cities from sea to shining sea? I would ask: How might that not happen?

They’ve been rehearsing for the Big Show all year. With new Covid lockdowns, the insectile armies of black-clad street-fighters will be anxious to reactivate the social space that Antifa and BLM so nicely afford. Riots are fun! Especially when the police are not allowed to effectively intervene to stop them. Smashing stuff, burning, and looting are fun — like Halloween and Christmas put together! I’ll be voting for Mr. Trump tomorrow in my little bid to prevent the Democratic Party from getting its depraved mitts on the levers of government. I’ll chime in with a post-election-day update, right here on Wednesday, though perhaps not at the crack of dawn.

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“This week’s election is not a choice between “light or darkness,” but “pretty much anything or Donald Trump…”

The Worst Choice Ever (Taibbi)

Joe Biden is a corpse with hair plugs whose idea of “empathy” is to jam fingers in the sternums of people who ask the wrong questions, or call them “fat” or “full of shit,” or dare them to “try me” — and that’s if he remembers what state he’s in. Is he a better human than Donald Trump? Probably, but his mental decline has hit Lloyd Bridges-in-Hot-Shots! levels and he shares troubling characteristics with the president, beginning with a pathological struggle with truth. Biden spent much of 2020 lying about everything from his Iraq War vote to his educational history to a fantasy about being arrested in South Africa with Nelson Mandela. The same press that killed him for this behavior in the past let it all slide this time. Same with the growing ledger of handsy-uncle incidents that had adolescent girls and campaigning politicians alike wondering why a Vice President needs to smell their hair or plant lingering kisses on their heads while cameras flash.

Biden’s entire argument for the presidency, and it’s a powerful one, is his opponent. This week’s election is not a choice between “light or darkness,” but “pretty much anything or Donald Trump,” and only in that context is this disintegrating, bilious iteration of Scranton Joe even distantly credible as a choice for the world’s most powerful office. Donald Trump is going to be a difficult case for future historians because he’s simultaneously the biggest liar and the most lied-about politician in American history. The standard propaganda lines about Trump are all incorrect. The usual technique involves sticking his name in headlines next to absurd disqualifying descriptors: “fascist,” “traitor,” “dictator,” and so on.

“18 Ways Trump Might Be a Russian Asset” is a typical example of what passed for commentary at outlets like the Washington Post in the Trump years. Such hot takes were a sure way to get TV invites. Trump may have played cartoon Mussolini on the stump and reached for Hitlerian cliches in his campaign videos, but the dirty secret of the last four years — hidden from the broad mass of voters by both conservative and mainstream media — was that the president’s much ballyhooed strongman leanings were a fraud. Trump the Terrible was great TV, but away from cameras he was a fake despot who proved repeatedly that he didn’t know the first thing about how to exercise presidential power, even in his own defense.

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We’re about to see whose claims are right.

Twitter Flags Trump’s Tweet Warning Of ‘Violence In The Streets’ (RT)

Twitter has put a “might be misleading” label on a tweet in which President Donald Trump condemned a Supreme Court ruling that allows absentee ballots to be accepted in Pennsylvania after election day, calling it “dangerous.” “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,” reads the warning the platform attached to Trump’s tweet, in which the president aired his grievances over a recent SCOTUS decision to allow mail ballots that arrive three days after November 3 to be included in the Pennsylvania tally. “The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one,” Trump argued in the tweet, referring to the court’s decision last week to deny a GOP request to block the three-day extension for counting late-arriving ballots that had been granted by Pennsylvania’s top court.

The Republicans wanted the SCOTUS to fast-track their motion, and, although they did not succeed, several conservative justices indicated they might take up the issue after election day. The GOP insists that the extension runs afoul of the US Constitution, arguing that the organization of the electoral process is up to state legislatures, rather than state courts. As he heaped scorn on the ruling, Trump rehashed his claim that the delayed ballot count “will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws.” It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!


Trump has repeatedly alleged that the system of universal mail-in voting is highly vulnerable to fraud and abuse, arguing that the postal service is unprepared to deal with an unprecedented surge in absentee ballots streaming into the system due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The US Postal Service, however, brushed off these concerns, with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy saying in September that the service was “equipped” to deliver the ballots. Pennsylvania is one of the key battleground states, representing 20 Electoral College votes out of the 270 needed to win the race.

Read more …

Thanks MSM. Hope you enjoy your clickbait.

You Are No Longer My Mother, Because You Are Voting For Trump (ZH)

America hasn’t been this divided almost since the end of the “Reconstruction” era. President Trump has been labeled the most polarizing political figure of his generation. In certain areas, the red ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball cap simply cannot be worn without the risk of harassment or physical violence. This has made many Trump supporters all the more stubborn about expressing their views, provoking confrontations and arguments at the table during family get-togethers. In a recent piece published just one day before Election Day, Reuters spoke to 10 people who shared how their support for the president has impacted their relationships with family member.

One lifelong Democrat named Mayra Gomez, an immigrant to the country, told her 21-year-old son five months ago that she was voting for Donald Trump. In response, she says, he cut her out of his life. Their last argument was so acrimonious, Gomez isn’t even certain whether their differences can be overcome. “He specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump’” Gomez, 41, a personal care worker in Milwaukee, told Reuters. Their last conversation was so bitter that she is not sure they can reconcile, even if Trump loses his re-election bid. “The damage is done. In people’s minds, Trump is a monster. It’s sad. There are people not talking to me anymore, and I’m not sure that will change,” said Gomez, who is a fan of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and handling of the economy.

Once upon a time, elderly family members relied on their children and grandchildren to run errands and help provide for them in old age. That social contract has now eroded to such an intense degree that many believe it’s too late now: the damage to the inter-generational relationship will be almost impossible to repair, even if Trump loses, few expect the animosity animating Trump and his supporters to fade quickly. “Unfortunately, I don’t think national healing is as easy as changing the president,” said Jaime Saal, a psychotherapist at the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “It takes time and it takes effort, and it takes both parties – no pun intended – being willing to let go and move forward,” she said. Saal said tensions in people’s personal relationships have spiked given the political, health and social dynamics facing the United States. Most often she sees clients who have political rifts with siblings, parents or in-laws, as opposed to spouses.

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“..the unholy profit-seeking alliance of social media algorithms and TV ratings..”

Who Wins If Trump Loses (Tracey)

From the moment Donald J. Trump took office, I argued it was necessary that he face a rational opposition — with an emphasis on “rational.” Discerning, targeted, evidence-based criticism would be imperative to counteract against Trump’s worst impulses, I maintained at the time, given his hardly-disguised penchant for blusterous, petty authoritarianism. While of course Trump would be far from the only president whose excesses needed checking — any occupant of the most powerful office in world history would — there was at least some reasonable cause to believe that his regular issuances of impulsive, fly-by-tweet demands could eventually raise unique civil liberties concerns. In hindsight, I might as well have been arguing for a parade of pinstriped purple unicorns to march down Fifth Avenue. Because the concept of a rational Trump opposition was an utter fantasy.

Instead what we got right off the bat was blanket “Resistance” to Trump, with the concept of “Resistance” turning into far more of a self-promotional branding exercise than any kind of sensible civic-minded disposition. Seemingly every word that came out of Trump’s mouth, no matter how inane or innocuous, prompted wild outbursts of blithering hysteria — egged on by the unholy profit-seeking alliance of social media algorithms and TV ratings. In the imaginations of his most excitable antagonists, it was taken as a truism that the United States was perpetually teetering on the edge of total Trump-induced collapse. Usually because he insulted a cable news host or something. To encapsulate this paranoid oppositional tendency, the slogan “Resistance” was picked for a specifically self-aggrandizing reason — having been derived from European anti-Nazi insurgent brigades in World War II.

As preposterous as it sounds that anyone of stable mental health could have possibly believed present-day America to be meaningfully comparable with Occupied France, this conceit became near-ubiquitous within anti-Trump activism and media circles. Sure, some who trafficked in rhetoric of “anti-fascism” probably did so out of a bizarre psychic need to feel as though they were combatants in an epic battle to save civilization from genocidal tyranny. But many also came to really and truly believe it, with full-fledged sincerity — as I can personally attest based on innumerable direct interactions with such people. A “Literal Nazi” president running literal concentration camps? Yup, that was a standard, uncontroversial viewpoint amongst the culture-media-activism industrial complex.

Clearly, to harbor such delusions about the nature of your own country’s political circumstances was antithetical to the “rational opposition” ideal that I’d initially floated. Combine it with the storyline that Trump had been illegitimately installed into power by a hostile foreign government — another profit-generating bonanza for the corporate media — and any prospect of sanity being maintained during the 2016–2020 period was rendered completely hopeless.

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Still corrupt. Still ruled by oligarchs.

Ukraine’s Zelensky Calls On His Party To Fire Constitutional Court (KP)

A day before the Ukrainian parliament convenes for its first session after the Oct. 25 local elections, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed lawmakers of his party in an audio message, calling them to back his draft bill that seeks to fire all judges of the Constitutional Court. In an audio message that was leaked on Nov. 2 through LB.ua news website, Zelensky urged his party, Servant of the People, which holds the majority seats in the parliament, to show unity and support his bill. Zelensky came up with the proposition to dismiss the Constitutional Court after it ruled against Ukraine’s anti-corruption system last week, undoing several years of progress and jeopardizing backing by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

This week, the Constitutional Court is set to review some of the most contentious bills such as those on farmland sales, the Ukrainian language law, and the Deposit Guarantee Fund. Their reversal might further harm Ukraine’s reform record and undermine international support. The president’s bill, which was registered on Oct. 29 and marked as top priority, has to get a green light from the parliamentary committee on legal policy before being put out for a vote. The date of the committee’s meeting is unknown. Head of the committee Andriy Kostin did not respond to calls. An ideal solution to the crisis would be if all of the court’s 15 judges resigned, Zelensky said during an appearance on a political talk show on ICTV channel on the night of Nov. 2.

However, that’s not likely to happen. So Zelensky wants his lawmakers to at least pass his bill in the first hearing to provide leverage over the court’s judges. “This bill will hang above them as the Damocles sword (an impending disaster),” said Zelensky. “And they will not rule on the language law, on farmland sales, or (annul) the High Anti-Corruption Court.” Zelensky notably didn’t mention the court’s intention to rule on the Deposit Guarantee Fund on Nov. 3, which can undermine Ukraine’s whole banking system.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 022020
 


Paul Klee Limits of Reason (Grenzen des Verstandes ) 1927

 

A Contagion Of Hatred And Hysteria (Sunetra Gupta)
Trump COVID Adviser Atlas Forced To Apologize For RT Interview (RT)
‘Bleak Midwinter’ In Europe As 250 Million Face Lockdown (NZH)
Bias In Journalism Has Become A Disease (Curtis)
MI Nov 1, 2020 Presidential Poll (Trafalgar)
The Complete Election Cheat Sheet: What Happens On And After November 3 (ZH)
In Defense Of The Electoral College (AT)
Trump Failed To Fight And Expose The Establishment’s COVID Narrative (Marsden)
Democrats Are Masking Biden’s Frailty (NYPost)
Add Vitamin D To Bread And Milk To Help Fight Covid, Urge Scientists (G.)
Non-Scalable Fence Being Built to Protect Trump During Election Day Unrest (GP)

 

 

The first lockdowns made sense, though too long; they were a response to a totally new virus. But policies should have been developed to make sure there would not be a second lockdown.

Such policies were not developed. Therefore, the second lockdowns merely disguise policy failures.

Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder, and we’re locking down entire populations. The damage will be immense.

 

 

This looks funny at first. But at the end is no longer is. Biden copies Hillary word for word.

Tiptoe thru the tulips

Tucker Trunalimunumaprzure

 

 

Sunetra Gupta is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford. She has to run to the Daily Mail to be heard. Like Glenn Greenwald has to go on Tucker Carlson, and Scott Atlas talks to RT.

We must not discuss either Hunter Biden or lockdowns.

A Contagion Of Hatred And Hysteria (Sunetra Gupta)

Lockdown is a blunt, indiscriminate policy that forces the poorest and most vulnerable people to bear the brunt of the fight against coronavirus. As an infectious diseases epidemiologist, I believe there has to be a better way. That is why, earlier this month, with two other international scientists, I co-authored a proposal for an alternative approach — one that shields those most at risk while enabling the rest of the population to resume their ordinary lives to some extent. I expected debate and disagreement about our ideas, published as the Great Barrington Declaration. As a scientist, I would welcome that. After all, science progresses through its ideas and counter-ideas. But I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of insults, personal criticism, intimidation and threats that met our proposal.

The level of vitriol and hostility, not just from members of the public online but from journalists and academics, has horrified me. I am not a politician. The hurly-burly of political life and being in the eye of the media do not appeal to me at all. I am first and foremost a scientist; one who is far more comfortable sitting in my office or laboratory than in front of a television camera. Of course, I do have deeply held political ideals — ones that I would describe as inherently Left-wing. I would not, it is fair to say, normally align myself with the Daily Mail. I have strong views about the distribution of wealth, about the importance of the Welfare State, about the need for publicly owned utilities and government investment in nationalised industries.

But Covid-19 is not a political phenomenon. It is a public health issue — indeed, it is one so serious that the response to it has already led to a humanitarian crisis. So I have been aghast to see a political rift open up, with outright abuse meted out to those who, like me, question the orthodoxy. At the heart of our proposal is the recognition that mass lockdowns cause enormous damage. We are already seeing how current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results — to name just a few — include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health.

Such pitfalls of national lockdowns must not be ignored, especially when it is the working class and younger members of society who carry the heaviest burden. I was also deeply concerned that lockdowns only delay the inevitable spread of the virus. Indeed, we believe that a better way forward would be to target protective measures at specific vulnerable groups, such as the elderly in care homes. Of course, there will be challenges, such as where people are being cared for in their own multi-generational family homes. I am certainly not pretending I have all the answers, but these issues need to be discussed and thrashed out thoroughly.

That is why I have found it so frustrating how, in recent weeks, proponents of lockdown policies have seemed intent on shutting down debate rather than promoting reasoned discussion. It is perplexing to me that so many refuse even to consider the potential benefits of allowing non-vulnerable citizens, such as the young, to go about their lives and risk infection, when in doing so they would build up herd immunity and thereby protect the lives of vulnerable citizens. Yet rather than engage in serious, rational discussion with us, our critics have dismissed our ideas as ‘pixie dust’ and ‘wishful thinking’.

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Scott Atlas can’t talk about lockdowns either other than on RT, “one of the Kremlin’s main propaganda platforms..” It’s safe to say that WaPo and CNN are propaganda platforms; RT, not so much.

Trump COVID Adviser Atlas Forced To Apologize For RT Interview (RT)

Trump administration Covid-19 adviser Scott Atlas ripped public-health officials for “egregious” policy failures – only to be forced to apologize after mainstream media deflected his points by attacking him for appearing on RT. On Saturday, the Stanford University doctor, who has emerged as President Donald Trump’s top adviser on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, called the lockdown policies an “epic failure” and argued they are “killing people,” while speaking with Afshin Rattansi on RT’s Going Underground show. “The public-health leadership have failed egregiously, and they’re killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” Atlas told RT.

“The lockdowns will go down as an epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong – were wrong, refused to accept they were wrong, didn’t know the data, didn’t care. And it became a frenzy of stopping Covid-19 cases at all costs, and those costs are massive,” he said. “The argument is undeniable: The lockdowns are killing people.” Atlas then pointed to job losses, rising suicides, rising drug abuse and the harm being done to young people, tying the issues to the Covid-19 restrictions put in place. One study showed that 25 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 thought about killing themselves in June “due to the lockdown”, he said.


“We’re creating a generation of neurotic children, forcing them to wear masks and be six feet apart from their friends, or not even have school in person.” While Atlas’ counter-narrative comments might have been fodder for a serious discussion of public-health policy, mainstream media outlets instead spun the interview into a controversy over a Trump administration official granting an interview to a Russian state-owned outlet. Reporters such as CNN’s Jim Acosta, Politico’s Ryan Lizza and NBC’s David Gura immediately pounced, ignoring the substance of his comments and breathlessly telling their followers that he spoke to an alleged Kremlin mouthpiece. “White House Covid adviser appears on outlet that is described by US intel as one of the Kremlin’s main propaganda platforms,” Washington Post national-security correspondent Greg Miller said.

ScottAtlas apology

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Days are gettig shorter, nights are getting colder, and we’re locking down entire populations. The damage will be immense.

‘Bleak Midwinter’ In Europe As 250 Million Face Lockdown (NZH)

More than a quarter of a billion Europeans are now in, or facing, fresh lockdowns after a second wave of Covid-19 deluged the continent. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson grudgingly announced on the weekend that the 55 million residents of England would head into a four-week lockdown – even as some Brits headed off to Spain for autumn holidays. The UK nations of Wales and Northern Island are already in lockdown and Scotland has warned it may be forced to ramp up restrictions following the move in England. Britain joins a host of other nations, including France, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Austria and the Czech Republic, in imposing new lockdowns.

It’s been dubbed the “bleak midwinter” as more than 250 million Europeans are now being told to stay at home for all of November. Other countries, such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, have imposed restrictions at a regional level and have warned they also may go into full lockdown mode. On Saturday, the UK PM said a four-week lockdown from November 5 was vital to avert a “medical and moral disaster” for the country’s health service, the NHS. He said deaths could reach “several thousand a day” and could peak above that of April’s lockdown. Johnson had previously vowed not to put England into a second lockdown, relying on regional restrictions to fight outbreaks. However, rising numbers – 22,000 new cases on Saturday alone – have pushed the UK into the one million coronavirus infections club.

[..] Statistically speaking, Belgium has been the European nation hardest hit by Covid-19 with more than 100 deaths per 100,000 population.From Monday, a strict lockdown will be accompanied by a curfew for up to six weeks. Belgium has been challenged by its small geographic size but highly devolved regional governments which has meant virus restrictions have varied, in some cases, from one town to another. Meanwhile in France, a cumulative 700km traffic jam choked the streets of the greater Paris region as residents streamed out of the city to spend a second lockdown in the country where many have second homes. Anyone leaving their home will have to fill out an “attestation” form declaring their reason for doing so.

[..] Despite the increasing number of lockdowns, a number of countries with lower infection rates are holding out against major restrictions. The Nordic nations of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are largely lockdown-free. Sweden, which has relied on voluntary guidance rather than legal enforcement, is seeing an increase in cases. But deaths remain low. The Government has asked residents of Stockholm and Gothenburg to avoid heading indoors to gyms and shops in an attempt to reduce infections.

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“..we have gone beyond partisanship and into tribalism..”

Bias In Journalism Has Become A Disease (Curtis)

Glenn Greenwald is the latest big-name journalist to quit a title, leaving the Intercept in a censorship row. This trend is indicative of a media landscape that reflects a polarized society which discourages freedom of thought. Imagine having to resign from something that you co-founded. It can’t be a good feeling. You spend all of your time trying to build it up into something tenable, only for things to fall apart. That’s the position Glenn Greenwald has found himself in at news website, the Intercept. But even more galling for Greenwald is why things turned ugly. As his resignation letter stated, “The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression. The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct.”

Working on the assumption that what Greenwald said is true, this is a distressing occurrence that’s becoming all too familiar. It’s reminiscent of Bari Weiss and her issues at the New York Times, Ariana Pekary leaving MSNBC, and Andrew Sullivan quitting the New Yorker. Over and over again, we’re seeing journalists who don’t want to adhere to certain partisan views being forced into a situation where they have to leave their publication because they won’t play the cheerleader. This is a worrying trend. Sure, partisanship has been part of journalism as long as it has existed. People will inevitably have biases towards certain belief systems that they adopt. With that said, there is another inevitability, given how flawed humanity is. And this is that flawed humans aren’t going to be able uphold the standards that people with those beliefs expect them to. In short, no one is perfect, and everyone is open to criticism.


However, what we are seeing from certain partisan forces is a desire for any and all criticism from journalists to simply be swept under the carpet. At that point, can it really be classed as journalism? Readers expect journalists to ask questions. Some of those questions are going to be tough; some may even constitute criticism. But those questions and criticisms can open the way to improvement. There’s nothing wrong with being a conservative and being critical of other conservatives, or being a liberal and being critical of other liberals. But when that criticism has to be silenced or is met with outright hostility, we have gone beyond partisanship and into tribalism. And that is not a positive development.

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“This pollster is cool, the guy who got 2016 right, says “we take into account the fact that ppl may have one set of ideas n feelings in their local election and a complete different set of ideas n wishes in a national election.” He gets scale.”

MI Nov 1, 2020 Presidential Poll (Trafalgar)

 

 

Cahaly

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All the way to December 8?!

The Complete Election Cheat Sheet: What Happens On And After November 3 (ZH)

It’s after midnight on Nov 3, the US population has voted, and the election results are popping up across the media landscape. When will we know who is the next president? Well, due to the special circumstances surrounding this election including a record number of mail in ballots and countless court challenges involving the voting process, we may have to wait…. a while. Below we lay out a timeline of key events and catalysts that everyone should be aware of. After Election Day on November 3, the results of the election need to generally be finalized by December 8, which is known as the Safe Harbor Day, as this is when states select their EC Voters.

How to follow the news on Election Day. Here are a few tips from Bank of America: Here are a few tips:

• Be wary of exit polls: The track record of exit polls is tenuous at best. In 2004, exit polls showed John Kerry winning the popular vote by 51% to 48% only to ultimately lose by the same margin. Similarly, there were major flaws in the 2016 exit polls which substantially underestimated the number of white working-class voters while overestimating the number of college-educated white voters, leading to bias results favoring Hilary Clinton. Pollsters claim they have fixed the issues ailing Election Day polls but the better mouse trap is yet unproven. Moreover, there has been unprecedented surge in early voting (both in person and mail-in) with over 70mn votes cast nationwide to-date and there is a major skew in voter day preference by party. Admittedly, pollster are aware of this issue and will enhance their methodology by polling at large and early voting centers but nevertheless this creates greater uncertainty in their estimates.

• Brace for head fakes: Results from battleground states should begin to trickle in just after polls close within each state (Table 3). First battleground states to report will be Florida, Georgia and New Hampshire where polls close at 7pm EDT (polls in Florida’s panhandle will close at 8 pm), followed by North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Type of ballots reported first will vary across states. For example, according to reporting done by the Upshot blog of the New York Times, battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, and Iowa will report early in-person and processed mail-in votes first. Meanwhile, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nevada will not follow any specific order. Getting a clear sense of who is winning will be difficult given the large number of early voting by mail and absentee ballots and different rules around processing ballots, which we discuss below.

• Key demographics: In 2016, President Trump was able to tip the election by winning the older and suburban vote. A post-mortem of the 2016 election by the Pew research center showed that Trump won the age groups 50-64 and 65+ by a margin of 6 and 9 points, respectively and edged out the suburban vote by 2 points. During the 2020 election cycle, polls have shown President Trump consistently running below his 2016 election numbers in these key demographic groups. In this context, keep an eye on results coming out of suburban areas such as Maricopa County in Arizona and Peach County in Georgia and older leaning regions such as Sumter County and Pinellas County in Florida. Results in these regions could prove to be a canary in the coalmine.

@TimMurtaugh

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The purpose of the Electoral Collage seems obvious. “..the Electoral College erects a constitutional check-and-balance to prevent corrupt urban politicians and voters from wielding disproportionate power..

In Defense Of The Electoral College (AT)

In the last twenty years, Democrats have twice lost presidential elections when the Electoral College has “trumped” the popular vote, leading to Republican victories. First came George W. Bush’s presidential victory over Al Gore in 2000, then Trump’s shocker over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Thus, radical Democrats demand the abolition of the Electoral College. “It’s undemocratic,” they say. “The will of the people should rule,” they cry. Yes, it’s undemocratic, which, believe it or not, is an exceptionally good thing. That’s because the United States is not, and never has been a “democracy.” The word “democracy” is not in the Constitution. In fact, the founders hated pure, unrestrained democracies.


Instead, Article 4, Section 4, states that the Constitution provides a “Republican” form of government. Not a democracy. There’s a difference. “Democracy” equals mob rule, where angry, fist-shakers “vote” for or demand whatever they want. Imagine that, against the rights and interests of others. Think of the mobs burning Portland and Seattle. “Republic” equals freedom and the rule of law, featuring internal checks-and-balances against overconcentration of power. Remember that phrase, checks-and-balances. It’s key to understanding the Electoral College. That’s because the Electoral College erects a constitutional check-and-balance to prevent corrupt urban politicians and voters from wielding disproportionate power over the less powerful. In this case, that means rural and small-town America. Though the Constitution contains 7 Articles and 27 Amendments, two powerful concepts emerge as keys to understanding the Constitution.

1. To Protect Freedom. First, the Constitution establishes government’s primary role, which is to protect individual freedom. The broadest freedoms designated for governmental protection are found at the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, guaranteeing Americans the right to life, liberty and property. Jefferson expresses a similar concept in the Declaration of Independence, discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, protecting freedom is the government’s principal role, not to become a giant lollypop factory dispensing free goodies as the Democrats advocate.


2. A Restraining Device Against Overconcentration of Power. Here’s the second concept: The Constitution is also a restraining device against over-concentrated governmental power. When lecturing on the Constitution, to illustrate a point, I often show a photograph of a drunk driver, just after being arrested by police officers, with handcuffs clamping his hands behind his back. Likewise, the Constitution handcuffs government on multiple levels, restraining excessive governmental power to protect citizens.

Tom Fitton

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He listened to the scientists.

Trump Failed To Fight And Expose The Establishment’s COVID Narrative (Marsden)

The best thing about the Trump presidency is arguably that every morning, no matter how bad a day you’re having, you can be assured that when you open your Twitter feed alongside your morning coffee, Trump will have said something that will make you shoot your Nescafe out your nose. (That is, if partisan hysteria hasn’t caused you to completely lose your sense of humor.) Modern-day US presidents haven’t exactly been the epitome of statesmanship, but unlike them, at least Trump gives you a chuckle. The problem with his approach is that while Trump is focused on wisecracks – however entertaining they can be – the Covid counter-narrative led by the usual suspects in the Washington establishment and their unelected (but often equally political) specialists and advisors, is one of doom and gloom.

They bombard the public with cherry-picked figures – like the transition to a preference for advancing numbers of ‘cases’ over deaths – and capitalize on Trump’s more fatalistic approach to portray him as incompetent at best and a willfully negligent maniac at worst. Governments around the world have been hard-pressed to prove that they’re doing something – anything – to control the Covid situation. Even if the effectiveness of government actions are still difficult to reliably assess or to separate from pre-existing endemic social and cultural factors that could account for variation in outcomes across or within nations. Yet the establishment is arrogantly and absolutely certain that they have all the answers vis-à-vis a phenomenon that is, by definition, so new that it’s called the ‘novel coronavirus’.


They vilify anyone who deviates from their views. We’ve seen this kind of establishment groupthink before. One example being the issue formerly known as “global warming” (now known as ‘climate change’, or, more recently, ‘climate deregulation’, because the issue was rebranded when it became difficult to explain how supposed ‘warming’ was causing colder weather). Any deviation from conventional establishment wisdom on this results in a pile-on and cancellation – just ask Mike Shellenberger. The same establishment hacks also persist with the simplistic narrative of good guys (America and its allies) versus bad guys (Russia and China, and their allies). This worldview is peddled every time they attempt to ramp up support for a natural resource grab or geopolitical power-play in some part of the world. Why should anyone trust their narrative when it comes to Covid? They’ve proven repeatedly that they’re anything but trustworthy and transparent.

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“..he was treating the man who would be president like an invalid. ”

Democrats Are Masking Biden’s Frailty (NYPost)

Has there been a worse candidate in history than Joe Biden? When this election is over, the books revealing what went on backstage will be illuminating. But the truth is there for anyone with eyes to see. Take Biden’s car rally in Flint, Mich., Saturday, with a star-power assist from Barack Obama. Awkward barely covers it. Obama, effortlessly cool, gave a warmup speech to the assembled cars before ramping up to a dramatic introduction: “My friend, the next president of the United States of America: Joe Biden!” Moments ticked by, but there was no sign of the candidate. “Joe Biden!” Obama repeated, a little less confidently. But still no show. Obama tried a third time: “Joe Biden!” Biden at last emerged from a nearby building and did a pantomime slow jog to the stage.

The worst part came later. After Biden had shouted his way through a short teleprompter speech, Obama came back onstage, perhaps to escort him off, because Biden did not seem to know where he was. Obama mimed an elbow pump with his former VP to signal they should leave the stage and then quietly whispered to him, after which it dawned on Biden he’d forgotten his mask, not for the first time. When your entire campaign is about mask-shaming Trump supporters, it’s not a forgivable lapse. Poor Biden looked like a chastened schoolboy as he fumbled through his folder and all his pockets looking for that pesky piece of cloth.

He walked back to the lectern and searched, to no avail, before fumbling through his pockets again. Finally, he found the mask in his left trouser pocket, held it aloft sheepishly at Obama, and placed it on his face. But then he paused and looked in seeming confusion at the microphone lying on the lectern where he’d left it. He picked it up and held it briefly to his masked face before laying it down again and rejoining Obama. Whatever emotions were going through Obama’s mind at that point he kept under wraps, but he did slow down and look back solicitously as he shepherded Biden down the stairs and away from prying eyes. In other words, he was treating the man who would be president like an invalid.

Really, it was sad.

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Let’s do a 10-year study first.

Add Vitamin D To Bread And Milk To Help Fight Covid, Urge Scientists (G.)

Scientists are calling for ministers to add vitamin D to common foods such as bread and milk to help the fight against Covid-19. Up to half the UK population has a vitamin D deficiency, and government guidance that people should take supplements is not working, according to a group convened by Dr Gareth Davies, a medical physics researcher. Low levels of vitamin D, which our bodies produce in response to strong sunlight, may lead to a greater risk of catching the coronavirus or suffering more severe effects of infection, according to some studies. Last week, researchers in Spain found that 82% of coronavirus patients out of 216 admitted to hospital had low vitamin D levels. The picture is mixed, however – some research shows that vitamin D levels have little or no effect on Covid-19, flu and other respiratory diseases.


Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults – soft bones that lead to deformities – and children with severe vitamin D deficiency are prone to hypocalcaemia – low levels of calcium in the blood – which leads to seizures and heart failure. However, Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care have rejected calls over the past 10 years to fortify foods such as milk, bread and orange juice, which is the practice in Finland, Sweden, Australia, the US and Canada. “In my opinion, it is clear that vitamin D could not only protect against disease severity but could also protect against infection,” Davies said. “Food fortification would need careful planning to be rolled out effectively, particularly as people are now taking supplements. Picking the right foods to fortify would need to be done carefully. “But it’s clear that the current policy is not working – at least half the population have a vitamin D deficiency.”

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The White House on lockdown. And it’s not for COVID.

Non-Scalable Fence Being Built to Protect Trump During Election Day Unrest (GP)

Federal agents are set to begin building a non-scalable fence around the White House, Ellipse and Lafayette Square and 250 National Guardsman have been placed on standby to protect President Donald Trump during any election day unrest. Major riots and destruction have been promised by leftist extremists should President Trump win reelection. “The White House on lockdown: A federal law enforcement source tells NBC that beginning tomorrow, crews will build a ‘non-scalable’ fence to secure the WH complex, Ellipse and Lafayette Square,” Geoff Bennett from NBC News tweeted. “250 National Guardsmen have been put on standby, reporting to Metro Police officials.”

Read more …

 

 

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Scary dog

 

 

 

 

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Sep 202020
 


René Magritte The song of the storm 1937

 

 

I was going to make this the shortest essay I’ve ever written. “Trump Will Win Because of Energy. Period.” But wouldn’t you know, things start popping up on exactly the topic it was going to be about… The difference in energy between Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be obvious to everyone, including Biden supporters, though they will try to ignore it, as well as the role energy plays in a campaign, as it does in life in general -not just human life either-.

People recognize energy, they feel it. it’s a primal thing, directly linked to survival. It doesn’t get recognized at a rational level, but somewhere much deeper. And it’s not even so much that Trump’s energy levels are above average, for a 74-year old (though they appear to be), but that Biden’s are so far below average – or perhaps exactly what you would expect for a 77-year old, which is why so few of them are running for president of the United States, a job that I think we would all agree requires a lot of energy.

When you take out of the equation which person you like or not, when you disregard their policy proposals, and you only look at energy levels, the difference is vast. And people will catch on to this. The first debate is in 9 days, September 29, and how do you prepare Biden for that? Trump last night suggested his handlers do it by applying ‘big, fat shots in the ass’, but even that wouldn’t do it.

Trump doesn’t need to hammer this point home too hard, it will be obvious no matter what. It may even be better for him to show compassion for Biden. One of the main instructions from his team will undoubtedly be to NOT go after Joe Biden so hard it will make him stutter. Because that would make Trump look like a bully, and give Biden points on compassion from the audience.

But I doubt Trump will be able to help himself. And perhaps, at least from his point of view, he should just be and remain who he is. Because that worked four years ago. Will these be the best-watched debates in history? Quite possibly. Meanwhile, as Trump yesterday worked all day -if we are to believe the reports- and then campaigned all night in Fayetteville NC, Biden was MIA.

That by now is a pattern. As is the mysterious lack of door-to-door campaigning by the Biden team. It may not be impossible to win that way, but it certainly would be a first. And it makes the team look like they have a similar energy level to Biden himself (In another mystery, we see people talk about finding it hard to get yard signs for the Biden campaign).

That leaves you with the impression that the Biden team really has just one message: Orange Man Bad. Not: vote *for* me, but vote *against* the other guy. the racist/rapist who killed 200,000 Americans and offends “our” troops”. That in turn appears to signal that what energy there is, is negative energy. Doesn’t look like a winning formula.

But if the media, including social media, keep on pumping out that same message 24/7, who knows how many people will buy into it? After all, Twitter and Facebook et al are even more important influencers today than they were in 2016. Then again, the Trump people seemed to be much stronger on social media back then, and why would they have squandered that advantage? But then again, again, they weren’t constantly censored and banned then.

Trump last night in Fayetteville:

‘Big, Fat Shots In The Ass’: Trump Again Suggests Biden Is On Energizing Drugs

Donald Trump has mercilessly taunted Joe Biden, telling supporters that his Democratic nemesis must be taking performance-enhancing substances and should undergo a drug test. Trump reiterated previous casual accusations that Biden is too senile to be a good fit for the US president’s office while talking to a crowd of supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Using his nickname for his Democratic opponent, Trump said that “Sleepy Joe” is appearing conspicuously efficient during debates and public events.

“Don’t underestimate [him], he’s been doing this for 47 years. And I got a debate coming up with this guy,” Trump said as he grinned, before suggesting that performance-enhancing substances were behind Biden’s efficiency. “You never know, they gave him a big, fat shot in the ass and he comes out,” Trump claimed as his audience laughed. “And for two hours he’s better than ever before. The problem is, what happens after that,” the Republican president added. Adding insult to the injury, Trump said offering a drug test to Biden is an option.

Remarkably, this is not the first time the 74-year-old president has accused his 77-year-old rival of being on drugs. Over a week ago, he fanned the claim while speaking to Fox. “I think there’s probably, possibly, drugs involved,” Trump told host Jeanine Pirro. “I don’t know how you can go from being so bad where you can’t even get out a sentence…” he speculated without finishing the sentence.

Trump and Biden are expected to face each other during debates in Cleveland on September 29, in Miami on October 15, and in Nashville on October 22. Their vice-presidential nominees Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will have a one-on-one in Salt Lake City on October 7.

 

 

In that same vein, there was also this from Irishman Graham Dockery on August 27:

Trump Has Called On Biden To Take A Drug Test. Why Don’t Both Old Guys Take This Idea Seriously?

Trump is 74 years old and Biden 77. If elected, Biden would be the oldest president in history, and would assume office at the same age Ronald Reagan left the White House – himself exhibiting the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If Trump wins, he’ll beat Reagan’s record by one year. Ten percent of white Americans over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s and related dementias. After 65, the risk of dementia doubles every five years. Even if Biden was speaking coherently, he would have a one-third chance of developing dementia by the end of his first term. Likewise, while Trump may appear sharp, he’s twice as likely to be losing his marbles now than he was in 2016.

Modern drugs can mask the symptoms of cognitive decline fairly well. Donepezil, Galantamine, Memantine and Rivastigmine are all used to boost memory, attention and the ability to perform simple tasks – like using a phone. Aside from these prescription medications, a candidate looking for a quick pre-debate fix could swallow some Adderall, a legal amphetamine that boosts cognition, short term memory and attention span, not to mention whatever experimental cocktails these two might have access to.

I’m not suggesting that either candidate is a chattering speed-freak. Trump’s opponents have beaten that drum before, accusing the president of railing Adderall every time he sniffs in a speech. Biden, on the other hand, looks like a man who could use an infusion from Doctor Feelgood. But it would be nice to know for sure. Most Americans would likely balk at the idea of sending a medicated husk to negotiate with allies and outwit adversaries. Let the two men competing for this position lay their cards on the table, and let the American public use this information to inform their decision.

After all, this is the leader of the free world we’re talking about, the man who, with a flick of his finger, could doom the planet to nuclear holocaust. It’s probably best if this leader remembers where he left the tapioca pudding.

 

Note that by now Trump’s advantage on energy says little about how the 2020 election will eventually be decided. It’s no longer possible for the US to NOT to sink into a deep quagmire because of mail-in ballots and the many days it may take to count them, the hundreds of lawyers that will be involved in various stages of that process -including many lawsuits-, and the Supreme Court, which will be a major election issue before November 3, and a possible/probable deciding factor sometime after that date.

Add to this that having the most votes, or even the highest numbers in the Electoral College system, no longer guarantees you a victory -because: lawyers and because: states may try to tamper with that system- and you end up with the most godawful mess ever. You would think everyone in Washington has an interest in not letting the city devolve into a circus tent where the clowns end up fighting the lions and tigers, but apparently they all have “more important” things to consider.

And all the time I’m thinking, guys, take care of your country, at least someone take care of it, you’re going to have to live in it together next year and the year after that etc.

 

 

 

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Jul 072020
 


Unknown No Dog Biscuits Today 1939

 

China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant (Nikkei)
China Shares Rally, Asian Stocks Take A Breather (R.)
New Security Law Starts To Break Down Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Economy (R.)
TikTok Says It Will Exit Hong Kong Market Within Days (R.)
China Slams US As It Joins Global Arms Trade Treaty At UN (R.)
US Restrictions Drove Deutsche Telekom And Huawei Closer Together (Pol.eu)
US To Force Out Foreign Students Taking Classes Fully Online (R.)
South Korean COVID-19 patient Recovering After Double Lung Transplant (R.)
Hospitalizations Jump 50% In California As Coronavirus Infections Soar (R.)
Six Week Lockdown For Melbourne As Record 191 New Cases Reported (Conv.)
Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says Lungs ‘Clean’ After Coronavirus Test (R.)
US Supreme Court Curbs ‘Faithless Electors’ In Presidential Voting (R.)
California Short on Firefighters as Prison “Slaves” Under Lockdown (MPN)
Assange Lawyer Named French Justice Minister (AAP)

 

 

And all of a sudden (well, not that sudden) there’s so much stuff about China. I started off today reading an article in Nikkei entitled “China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant”, and I thought: that is absolute nonsense. The idea seems to be that Shanghai would take Hong Kong’s place, as the renminbi (yuan) turns into a global currency.

That’s just wishful thinking. Or maybe a reaction to America’s new attitude towards China. The main sticking point for Beijing is a conundrum it cannot solve. The CCP wants to have BOTH a global currency AND total control over that currency. It will have to choose between the two, and cannot make up its mind. So it pretends it does’t have to choose.

Sure, there has been some advancement for the yuan, but I bet most of that is on the back of the Belt and Road (BRI), and that will turn out to be one of the main victims of the coronavirus. The BRI is China’s very clever way of exporting its overproduction, but potential buyers have other things on their mind today.

Meanwhile, even with that, the yuan is used in only 1.8% of cross-currency payments. So the claim that the yuan is used in 30% of China’s trade needs to be taken with a huge salt shaker.

And yes, it may be true that the yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments, but that’s only because there is no competition for the USD, and what competition does exist come from the euro.

The sudden, and rushed, take-over of Hong Kong with the new security law will not help China’s plans to be accepted internationally. US big tech is withdrawing, and even some Chinese tech is moving away.

The world’s large investors will not put their money into something that Xi Jinping can declare devalued by 50% on a rainy morning when he sees fit. He will have to cede that kind of control.

And reading through all this, why am I getting the feeling that China does not feel well, that its leaders perhaps have fallen victim to bouts of insecurity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can tell someone’s case for the mythical global yuan is not serious when they write “the yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments” rather than “the yuan accounts for about 1.8% of cross-currency payments..”

China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant (Nikkei)

Many have claimed that the national security law China has imposed on Hong Kong will be the death of the city, stifling free speech and driving away businesses. But 10 years ago, China made Hong Kong part of a plan which, even more certainly than the national security law, is rendering the city redundant. For years, Hong Kong has been the entrepot for China’s trade in the region — it accounts for 6.3% of China’s total trade — and a leading international financial center. It has provided the infrastructure for the West to invest in mainland China: about two-thirds of foreign direct investment into and from there goes through Hong Kong.

In 2010, China made Hong Kong a critical component of its policy aimed at developing the yuan as an international currency that non-Chinese residents could hold as an asset or use to pay for international transactions. Before 2010, the yuan had almost no international use or circulation, with less than 1% of China’s trade settled in it. The Chinese monetary authorities had to balance the need to have an international currency and the risk of allowing capital to flow freely in and out of the domestic market. In principle, international currencies need to be fully convertible, but for China this was not a viable route.

Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” principle provided the solution to China’s conundrum and has been pivotal to the emergence of yuan-led finance, underpinning rising demand and facilitating the yuan business. Hong Kong’s judicial institutions, independent from mainland China, were at the heart of its role as a bridge between the Chinese planned economy and the Western market economy. The move worked, and although the international use of the Chinese currency remains limited, it has undergone significant growth. The yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments and is used for settling approximately 30% of China’s trade. Yuan-denominated financial instruments are used more in projects that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Yuan activities now account for a large chunk of Hong Kong’s trading as an international financial center, according to estimates by market participants. But rather than making Hong Kong stronger, this increases its dependence on Beijing — and hence its vulnerability. By becoming part of the yuan strategy, a policy-led initiative where Chinese policy makers set the pace and guide the market, Hong Kong has been following Beijing’s lead. A bigger, but related, problem for Hong Kong is that by strengthening the yuan trade, it is also strengthening one of its mainland rivals and making itself less important. Around the time it launched its yuan policy, China also put in place a plan to develop Shanghai as its top international financial center by 2020. According to the latest Global Financial Centres Index, Hong Kong at sixth now ranks lower than Shanghai at fourth. Ten years ago Hong Kong was the most important financial center in Asia and in third place globally after London and New York, while Shanghai ranked 11th.

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Just yesterday, Beijing talked about “fostering a healthy bull market”. And what the Fed can do, the PBOC can too. Buy buy buy.

China Shares Rally, Asian Stocks Take A Breather (R.)

The Chinese share market extended its positive run on Tuesday, in line with the mainland government’s push for a stronger market, while the rest of the region turned cautious on equities. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan see-sawed during the local session and was down 0.2%, after it briefly traded in positive territory. The negative performance on Tuesday came after the index rose 7% which took it to a 4-1/2 month high in the past five trading sessions. Japan’s Nikkei gave up 0.7% while U.S. stock futures shed 0.25% in Asia after hefty gains on Monday in the wake of surging Chinese shares.

In China, Shanghai’s blue chip CSI300 index and Shenzhen shares, which had gained more than 13% in the past five sessions, rose a further 1.5%, led by rises in the tech sector. Ample Finance Group director Alex Wong said while Chinese market sentiment was positive, investors remained cautious to the risk of that being short-lived. “The mood is still quite strong…and I think people will be willing to hold on for a while as we absorb some of the positive news in the world,” Wong told Reuters in Hong Kong. Analysts said jawboning by the Chinese government through a state-sponsored journal on the importance of “fostering a healthy bull market” published on Monday had spurred the buying binge in mainland Chinese shares.

The current China rally has echoes of the past, especially during 2007 and in the buying binge that followed the crash in 2015 that was largely driven by Chinese retail investors. “Shades of John F. Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ inauguration speech here and as close as you might get to a Chinese government ‘put’ as anything the Fed has done to date vis-à-vis the U.S. stock (and credit) markets,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB, in a research note.

Read more …

The rich can leave if they want to. The rest cannot.

New Security Law Starts To Break Down Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Economy (R.)

As soon as Hong Kong’s new national security law came into force last week, Ivan Ng removed all the protest-themed paintings, posters and flags from the list of items for sale at his Onestep Printing shop. Sandra Leung at Wefund.hk, which sells protest-themed artwork and accessories, said she has suspended sales of protective gear worn by protesters, flags with the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong,” and other items carrying popular chants. Jeffrey Cheong, owner of Hair Guys Salon, said he closed his shop down for a few days last week to remove pro-democracy decorations. Ng, Leung and Cheong are three of the 4,500 or so small businesses in Hong Kong’s “yellow economy,” which supports pro-democracy protesters and vice versa. That circle of support is showing signs of weakening in the face of the new law.

“We took down all the protest-related products right after the law was implemented, because the law doesn’t have very clear boundaries of (what constitutes) subversion,” Ng said. In the past week, he said his overall sales are down as much as 80%. Leung said she had withdrawn items for sale she described as “sensitive,” such as gas masks used by protesters and items with anti-police slogans. The new law prohibits what China describes broadly as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison for offenders. It came into force late last Tuesday, about an hour before the 23rd anniversary of China taking back control of the former British colony.

The Hong Kong government went further on Friday, declaring the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” illegal. Public libraries have started to review books written by pro-democracy activists to see whether they violate the new law. Hong Kong and Beijing authorities insist the city retains a “high degree of autonomy” but critics say the law effectively brings Hong Kong under the control of China’s Communist Party and violates China’s promise to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedom for 50 years after the 1997 handover. Some businesses told local media they had been visited by the police who warned them that pro-democracy decorations were against the new law.

Read more …

Which side of The Great Firewall do you want to be on?

TikTok Says It Will Exit Hong Kong Market Within Days (R.)

TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday, as other technology companies including Facebook suspend processing government requests for user data in the region. The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city. “In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesman said in response to a Reuters question about its commitment to the market. The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China.


TikTok has also said previously that it would not comply with any requests made by the Chinese government to censor content or for access to TikTok’s user data, nor has it ever been asked to do so. The Hong Kong region is a small, loss-making market for the company, one source familiar with the matter said. Last August, TikTok reported it had attracted 150,000 users in Hong Kong. Globally, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times through the Apple and Google app stores after the first quarter this year, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. The source said the move was made because it was not clear if Hong Kong would now fall entirely under Beijing’s jurisdiction in light of the new law.

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Easy pickings.

China Slams US As It Joins Global Arms Trade Treaty At UN (R.)

China on Monday joined a global arms trade treaty spurned by the United States, taking a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration by accusing it of bullying, unilateralism and undermining efforts to combat global challenges. China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, said he had deposited China’s instrument of accession to the treaty, which regulates a $70 billion global cross-border trade in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. China, which announced its plans in September, becomes the 107th party to the pact, approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2013. Then-U.S. President Barack Obama signed it, but it was opposed by the National Rifle Association and never ratified by the U.S. Senate.


Trump said in April last year that he intended to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory. In July 2019, the United States told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Washington did not intend to become a party to the treaty and that it had no legal obligations from its 2013 signature. Without naming the United States, but amid escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington, Zhang said in a statement that a “certain country … walked away from international commitments, and launched acts of unilateralism and bullying.” [..] China was the fifth-largest global arms exporter between 2014 and 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, although China itself does not publish figures for how many arms it exports.

Read more …

A comment on Twitter about an article in German in Handelsblatt:

”Deutsche Telekom has doubled down on Huawei even as concerns rose, including discussions w/Chinese firm about how to get around US sanctions & “tactical” announcements to get T-Mobile/Sprint deal in US approved..”

US Restrictions Drove Deutsche Telekom And Huawei Closer Together (Pol.eu)

Global telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom strengthened its strategic partnership with Huawei last year despite growing defiance toward the dominant Chinese 5G vendor, documents reviewed by POLITICO show. The internal company records describe how Deutsche Telekom and Huawei agreed on a deal in mid-2019 that said the Chinese supplier would take measures to avoid supply chain disruption caused by U.S. measures, as well as cover the costs of potential damages and delays. The deal was struck just weeks before the U.S. administration imposed restrictions on businesses dealing with the Chinese firm in May 2019 — a milestone for Washington’s efforts to push back against Huawei’s dominance on 5G equipment.

It laid the groundwork for a partnership between the two companies for the early rollout of 5G networks in Europe, despite national lawmakers’ efforts in key markets like Germany, the Netherlands and Poland to reduce the use of Chinese equipment. In the months after the deal, the companies underlined mutual commitments to treat each other in preferential ways. Deutsche Telekom executives described Huawei repeatedly as a “strategic partner” that is “key for our 5G plans,” according to the internal documents. On Huawei’s end, Deutsche Telekom was described as a “preferred customer” for its 5G equipment. Deutsche Telekom has repeatedly declined in the past to disclose how much of its networks consist of Huawei equipment.

But in its internal communication, it has likened the scenario of not being able to use Huawei in its broader 5G rollout to “armageddon,” a recent report in German paper Handelsblatt showed. [..] At the core of the mutual agreement is a commitment by Huawei to shoulder the burdens and costs of the U.S. restrictions that have bogged down the Chinese vendor in the past year. “This pledge by Huawei to pay for any disruption adds to that incentive to stick with Huawei,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute, calling it a “care-free package” offered to Deutsche Telekom.

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Targeting China once more?!

US To Force Out Foreign Students Taking Classes Fully Online (R.)

Foreign students must leave the United States if their school’s classes this fall will be taught completely online or transfer to another school with in-person instruction, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced on Monday. It was not immediately clear how many student visa holders would be affected by the move, but foreign students are a key source of revenue for many U.S. universities as they often pay full tuition. ICE said it would not allow holders of student visas to remain in the country if their school was fully online for the fall. Those students must transfer or leave the country, or they potentially face deportation proceedings, according to the announcement.


Colleges and universities have begun to announce plans for the fall 2020 semester amid the continued coronavirus pandemic. Harvard University on Monday announced it would conduct course instruction online for the 2020-2021 academic year. The ICE guidance applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in fiscal 2019, according to the agency’s data. The guidance does not affect students taking classes in person. It also does not affect F-1 students taking a partial online course-load, as long as their university certifies the student’s instruction is not completely digital. M-1 vocational program students and F-1 English language training program students will not be allowed to take any classes online.

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Pretty amazing story. But scary too.

South Korean COVID-19 patient Recovering After Double Lung Transplant (R.)

After a record 112 days on a specialised life-support system, a South Korean COVID-19 patient is recovering from double lung transplant surgery, doctors say, in only the ninth such procedure worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak began. The 50-year-old woman was diagnosed with the disease and hospitalised in late February and then spent 16 weeks on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support, which involves circulating a patient’s blood through a machine that adds oxygen to red blood cells. That’s the longest that any COVID-19 patient in the world has spent on ECMO support, her doctors said.

Various drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, the HIV treatment Kaletra and steroids failed to stop her pulmonary fibrosis – scarring in the lungs – from worsening, said Dr Park Sung-hoon, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital. That left few options other than a lung transplant. “The probability of success in lung transplants on ECMO patients is 50%, and fortunately, our patient was well prepared before the surgery when we found the donor,” said Dr Kim Hyoung-soo, director of the hospital’s ECMO programme, who was in charge of the surgery.

The patient declined to be identified or interviewed. The doctors who conducted the eight-hour surgery described her destroyed lungs as hard like rock. She had an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) when she came to hospital, Park said, and could not live without the ECMO machine’s help. ECMO is typically used on patients who need more help than ventilators can provide, and who are considered to have a 90% chance of dying. Half of patients recover in two to three weeks on ECMO, and a lung transplant is considered for those who don’t, Kim said.

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Stay home.

Hospitalizations Jump 50% In California As Coronavirus Infections Soar (R.)

New coronavirus cases soared in California over the July Fourth weekend, stressing some hospital systems and leading to the temporary closure of the state capitol building in Sacramento for deep cleaning, officials said on Monday. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased by 50% over the past two weeks to about 5,800, Governor Gavin Newsom said at a briefing. About a third of those hospitalized were in Los Angeles County, state and local records showed, with about 630 confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients requiring intensive care. And 25% of the hospitalizations in the county in July were among patients aged 18 to 40, health officials said, as new cases increasingly hit a younger population that may have been lax about safety precautions in recent weeks.


Farther north, nearly 1,400 inmates at San Quentin State Prison have been sickened by the virus, putting pressure on hospitals in Marin County, where the facility is located, Newsom said. All told, 271,684 Californians have tested positive for the virus, including 11,529 in the past 24 hours, state records show. About 6,300 have died. Determined to slow the spread of the disease over the holiday weekend, state alcohol regulators visited nearly 6,000 bars and restaurants to make sure they were complying with new rules banning indoor dining and closing bars that do not serve food, Newsom said.

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Turns out the 2nd wave concerns lockdowns.

Six Week Lockdown For Melbourne As Record 191 New Cases Reported (Conv.)

The Victorian government will lock down all metropolitan Melbourne for six weeks from Wednesday night, as a new wave of the coronavirus takes hold in the city. The lockdown will also cover the Mitchell Shire, north of Melbourne, which includes the towns of Broadford, Seymour, Kilmore, Tallarook, Pyalong and Wallan. Under the restrictions, people will only be able to leave their home to shop for essential goods and services, for care and compassionate reasons, exercise, and for work and study if it cannot be conducted from home. The dramatic action comes as the Victoria-NSW border closes on Tuesday night, amid some chaos in Albury-Wodonga, and follows the lockdown of suburbs in 12 Melbourne postcode areas, and the “lock in” of 3,000 residents in nine community housing towers.

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Brazilian media reports he tested positive.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says Lungs ‘Clean’ After Coronavirus Test (R.)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus and his lungs were “clean,” after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease. Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday. CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested.


“I can’t get very close,” he said in comments recorded by Foco do Brasil, a pro-government YouTube channel. “I came from the hospital. I underwent a lung scan. The lung’s clean.” The president’s office said in a statement that the president is at his home and is “in good health.” [..] Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter that Todd Chapman, the ambassador, had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, who is a federal congressman. The ambassador has no symptoms, but will undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said.

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The Electoral College still exists because some people think it’s in their advantage.

US Supreme Court Curbs ‘Faithless Electors’ In Presidential Voting (R.)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to free “faithless electors” in the complex Electoral College system that decides the outcome of presidential elections from state laws that force them to support the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote. The justices unanimously rejected the idea that electors, who act on behalf of a state in the Electoral College vote that occurs weeks after voters go the polls, can exercise discretion in the candidate they back. The decision erased a potential complicating factor in the Electoral College as President Donald Trump seeks re-election on Nov. 3 against Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The court sided with Washington state and Colorado, which had imposed penalties on several “faithless electors” – so named because they defied pledges in 2016 to vote for the winner of their states’ popular vote, Democrat Hillary Clinton.


Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the ruling “reaffirmed the fundamental principle that the vote of the people should matter in choosing the president.” State officials have said faithless electors threaten the integrity of American democracy by subverting the will of the electorate and opening the door to corruption. The plaintiffs had argued that the Constitution requires them to exercise independent judgment to prevent unfit candidates from taking office. “The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee – and the state voters’ choice – for President,” liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote on behalf of the court.

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Only in America.

California Short on Firefighters as Prison “Slaves” Under Lockdown (MPN)

It is the height of California’s dangerous forest fire season. But despite blazes currently raging, the state’s fire department is dangerously understaffed. That is because many firefighters today are not the burly full time professionals of another era, but underpaid convict laborers risking their lives for pennies. Almost 40 percent of California’s firefighters are prisoners. But the state’s penitentiaries are themselves ablaze with COVID-19 outbreaks, leading to widespread lockdowns in what has become a routine for American’s dealing with competing crises. Jails have been among the deadliest hotspots for transmission of the coronavirus. At the notorious San Quentin State Prison just north of San Francisco, there are nearly 1,400 active cases.

Meanwhile, the state has announced the deaths from COVID-19 of 16 inmates at the California Institute for Men in Chino, San Bernardino County. In response to the crisis, prison authorities have enacted strict lockdowns, including at CCC Susanville, the home of the wildfire training program, where there are 224 confirmed active cases of the virus. This is severely hampering the fight against wildfires. Approximately 3,100 inmates work with the fire department tackling blazes, around 2,200 in the front line, and 900 in support roles. Only those with the least serious convictions are considered. Prisoners are paid between $2.90 and $5.12 per day (less than the average income of a sweatshop laborer in Nicaragua), plus $1 per hour of hazard pay during active emergency situations like the deadly fires that engulfed the state late last year.

They work alongside full-time firefighters making an average of $91,000 per year before overtime pay and bonuses but tend to do the harder, less desirable, or more dangerous tasks, leading to multiple deaths in recent years. This has led to widespread condemnation of the practice as akin to “modern slavery,” especially because inmates are effectively barred from even applying to the fire department once their sentences are over. In order to become a firefighter, an emergency medical technician license is required, something that is all but impossible to achieve with a criminal record. Despite this, prisoners still “volunteer” as the work is far more fulfilling than the alternative: more time locked up.

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“Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as French Justice Minister. Earlier this year, he launched a campaign to grant the Australian asylum in France.”

Assange Lawyer Named French Justice Minister (AAP)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as France’s new justice minister. Dupond-Moretti, a prominent criminal defence lawyer, was elevated to the ministry by incoming Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday. The 55-year-old is known for a his record number of acquittals and led a push by European lawyers for French President Emmanuel Macron to grant asylum to Assange in February. “We consider the situation is sufficiently serious that our duty is to talk about it,” Dupond-Moretti said about Assange’s case at the time.


The Frenchman has said the case against the Australian is unfair, citing Assange’s poor health and alleged violations of his rights while in jail in London Dupond-Moretti’s team also warned of “consequences for all journalists” if Assange is extradited and jailed in the US. French members of Assange’s legal team said they had been working on a “concrete demand” for Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children. It’s unclear whether Dupond-Moretti will now use his position to grant the Australian asylum.

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