Dec 312021
 
 December 31, 2021  Posted by at 9:48 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  42 Responses »


Arnold Böcklin The Isle of the Dead III 1883

 

South Africa Says Death Toll ‘Extremely Low’ After Omicron Wave (JTN)
Omicron-Fuelled Fourth Covid Wave Has Passed, Says South Africa (G.)
Fauci Takes Professional Gaslighting to New Levels (CTH)
COVID-19 Genetic Vaccine Safety in Children (Malone)
Officials Ponder What It Means To Be ‘Fully Vaccinated’ (NYT)
Covid and Corrupt Federal Statistics (Bovard)
Justin Trudeau Calls Unvaccinated ‘Racist and Misogynistic Extremists’ (RAIR)
Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate Reinstated In Half Of US (JTN)
FDA: PCR Tests For Covid Are ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)
Has The $230 Trillion LIBOR Derivative Time-Bomb Really Been Defused? (ZH)
NGO Memorial Closed By Russian Court Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Breaches (RT)
Epstein’s Guards Accused Of Sleeping On Job, Falsifying Records Go Free (JTN)
Maxwell Conviction Leaves Glaring Questions Over Lack of Prosecutions (Turley)

 

 

 

 

McCullough

 

 

 

 

“Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two. This Omicron wave is over in the city of Tshwane. It was a flash flood more than a wave..”

South Africa Says Death Toll ‘Extremely Low’ After Omicron Wave (JTN)

South Africa is nearing the end of its fourth COVID-19 wave without seeing as many deaths as previous waves, according to a government statement Wednesday. “Hospitalisations and deaths are lower than the second and third wave,” Premier of Western Cape Alan Winde said. The COVID variant omicron was discovered in South Africa last month, greatly contributing to the fourth wave. While cases are now declining, Winde said, “the gap between cases, admissions and deaths continues to widen during the fourth wave.” Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council told The New York Times: “The speed with which the Omicron-driven fourth wave rose, peaked and then declined has been staggering.” “Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two. This Omicron wave is over in the city of Tshwane. It was a flash flood more than a wave,” he said.


The high of South Africa’s most recent wave appears to have occurred the week of Dec. 13. with nearly 163,000 cases, while the wave’s peak death toll seems to have occurred the week of Dec. 20 with 428 deaths, according to World Health Organization data. This sharply contrasts with previous South African waves. For example, during the third wave there, nearly 133,000 people were diagnosed with COVID the week of July 5, and more than 2,800 people died the week of July 19. “While the case numbers and test positivity rate during the fourth wave have exceeded previous waves, admissions are below the peak of both the second and the third wave and deaths remain extremely low, in line with previous interwave periods. There is therefore a widening gap between these metrics, pointing to less severe disease during the fourth wave,” Winde said.

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More much ado.

Omicron-Fuelled Fourth Covid Wave Has Passed, Says South Africa (G.)

South Africa has lifted a nightime curfew on people’s movement with immediate effect, believing the country has passed the peak of its fourth coronavirus wave driven by the Omicron variant. As the head of the World Health Organization sounded an optimistic note about beating the pandemic in 2022, the government in Pretoria removed the midnight-to-4am curfew based on the trajectory of the pandemic, vaccination levels and available capacity in the health sector, the government said on Thursday. “All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” a statement from a special cabinet meeting held earlier on Thursday said. “While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves,” the cabinet statement said.


Data from South Africa’s health department showed a 29.7% weekly decrease in new cases detected in the week ending 25 December, the government said. Hospital admissions have declined in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces. South Africa, with close to 3.5 million infections and 91,000 deaths, has been the worst-hit country in Africa during the pandemic on both counts, and was where the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first detected last month. The country is at the lowest of its five-stage Covid-19 alert levels. Besides lifting the restrictions on public movement, the government also ruled that alcohol shops with licences to operate beyond 11pm may revert back to full licence conditions, a welcome boon for traders and businesses hard hit by the pandemic and looking to recover during the festive season.

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Why don’t I see anyone saying if this is true for kids, it’s true for all hospitalizations? Because that is the inevitable conclusion.

Fauci Takes Professional Gaslighting to New Levels (CTH)

This admission is exactly what people have been arguing for two years. This exact point, and the “with COVID -vs- from COVID” argument within the false narrative, is what justified Big Tech to ban COVID critics from their speech platforms. I’m not going to comment further; at a certain point these reversals just get silly. Suddenly, as the magic politics of COVID infection rates turns into a liability, the accuracy of hospitalized COVID tests is something to clarify. These officials are just throwing magic beans into the audience at this point. In the past ten days, the CDC, NIH and FDA have jumped so far over the justification shark, the light from where justification shark jumping starts could not catch them for years.

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More kids, but also:

“..people in the 65+ demographic are five times as likely to die from the inoculation as from COVID-19 under the most favorable assumptions!”

COVID-19 Genetic Vaccine Safety in Children (Malone)

“Even as experts expressed concern about a marked jump in hospitalizations — an increase more than double that among adults — doctors and researchers said they were not seeing evidence that Omicron was more threatening to children. In fact, preliminary data suggests that compared with the Delta variant, Omicron appears to be causing milder illness in children, similar to early findings for adults.” NY Times, “Omicron Is Not More Severe for Children, Despite Rising Hospitalizations” By Andrew Jacobs Dec. 28, 2021

The risk of death associated with COVID-19 in healthy children is virtually non-existent, as children have significant immunologic advantages relative to the older adult population (> 65 years) which comprises the high risk cohort for COVID-19. The risk of death and disease in children has become even more rare with Omicron. Yet even prior to the advent of Omicron, a peer reviewed study clearly demonstrated (using safety data accumulated during past variant circulation) that the genetic COVID-19 vaccines carry a risk/benefit ratio of five deaths in the older, high risk cohort for every one life saved from COVID-19 (and those data did not account for the reporting bias inherent in US deaths due to COVID consequent to inappropriate use of PCR tests).

“Thus, our extremely conservative estimate for risk-benefit ratio is about 5/1. In plain English, people in the 65+ demographic are five times as likely to die from the inoculation as from COVID-19 under the most favorable assumptions! This demographic is the most vulnerable to adverse effects from COVID-19. As the age demographics go below about 35 years old, the chances of death from COVID-19 become very small, and when they go below 18, become negligible.” The new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, has exploded onto the scene. What was already an inverted risk benefit ratio for genetic vaccination in children and adults (greater risk of death from vaccine than from COVID-19) will become even more inverted since the risks of COVID-19 are further reduced with Omicron.

The Omicron variant is different in five essential ways:
• More infectious and will soon be the dominant variant in the USA
• Less pathogenic
• Poorly matched to currently available vaccines
• Natural immunity is providing good protection against Omicron
• Disease symptoms are more similar to the common cold

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Anyone seen those goalposts?

Officials Ponder What It Means To Be ‘Fully Vaccinated’ (NYT)

Goldman Sachs and Jeffries, the investment banks, are demanding that employees get booster shots. The University of Oregon and other institutions are requiring that students and staff members get boosters. New York state has said it plans to stop considering residents fully vaccinated unless they have gotten the shots. As the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads from coast to coast, corporations, schools, governments and even sports leagues are reconsidering what it means to be “fully vaccinated.” Now federal health officials, too, have taken on the question. Although top policymakers want to encourage Americans to get three doses, some would like to avoid changing the definition of a phrase that has become pivotal to daily life in much of the country, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that she and other health officials were “working through that question” now. “There really isn’t debate here in what people should do,” she added. “CDC is crystal clear on what people should do: If they’re eligible for a boost, they should get boosted.” With Omicron’s sharp rise — more than 488,000 new cases were reported Wednesday alone — some experts think the moment for change has arrived. “I think the time is now,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. From a medical perspective, he said, receiving that additional booster dose “is really what we should be thinking of as fully vaccinated.”

Redefining “fully vaccinated” could lead to enormous logistical challenges, as even supporters of the idea concede, and it is likely to incite political backlash. Tens of millions of Americans who thought of themselves as vaccinated might discover that without boosters, they could lose access to restaurants, offices, concerts, events, gatherings — any place where proof of vaccination is required to enter. Moreover, the change risks undermining trust in public health officials after two years of shifting recommendations, experts said. Some Americans may feel that the goal posts have been moved again, and too suddenly. “While a determination of what constitutes full vaccination may be grounded in science, it does have significant political and economic ripple effects,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president of KFF, a nonprofit organization that focuses on health issues.

The CDC currently defines “fully vaccinated” as those who have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot. Although experts continue to believe that these regimens protect against hospitalization and death, the vaccines’ effectiveness against infection with the virus wanes over time. What had been considered full vaccination is substantially less effective against infection with Omicron, which is able to partially evade the body’s antibodies.

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“According to the Vermont Department of Health, “Half of the [Covid] deaths in August were breakthrough cases. Almost three-quarters of them in September were..”

Covid and Corrupt Federal Statistics (Bovard)

During his update on his Winter Covid Campaign on Tuesday, President Biden declared, “Almost everyone who has died from COVID-19 in the past many months has been unvaccinated.” This was true from the start of the pandemic in early 2020, until the vaccines’ efficacy began failing badly in recent months. Oregon officially classifies roughly a quarter of its Covid fatalities since August as “vaccine breakthrough deaths.” In Illinois, roughly 30 percent of Covid fatalities have occurred among fully vaccinated individuals. According to the Vermont Department of Health, “Half of the [Covid] deaths in August were breakthrough cases. Almost three-quarters of them in September were,” as well, according to Burlington, Vermont TV station WCAX.

The Biden administration guaranteed that the vast majority of “breakthrough” infections would not be counted when the Centers for Disease Control in May ceased keeping track of “breakthrough” infections unless they resulted in hospitalization or death. Ignoring that data permitted Biden to go on CNN in July and make the ludicrously false assertion: “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” But federal data on fully vaxxed Covid fatalities is far flimsier and less reliable than the numbers compiled by some states. Honestly recognizing the limits of vaccines could be fatal to Biden’s push for compulsory vaccinations.

The same policymakers who claim to be guided by data have little or no idea how many Americans have been hit by Covid. According to the CDC, there have been 51,115,304 Covid cases in America. But a different CDC web page estimates that there had been 146.6 million Covid infections in the US as of October 2, 2021. That CDC analysis estimated that only one in four Covid infections have been reported, which would mean that based on the latest official case numbers, more than 200 million Americans have contracted Covid. For Biden and his fellow policymakers, a potential error of 150 million Covid infections is “close enough for government work.” Relying on the lower number is convenient for policymakers who want to continue ignoring the natural immunity acquired by 199 million Americans who survived Covid infections.

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“..psychopathe fasciste..”

Justin Trudeau Calls Unvaccinated ‘Racist and Misogynistic Extremists’ (RAIR)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stunned viewers during a television appearance in Quebec when he announced people who do not receive the experimental Covid “vaccine” are “often racist and misogynistic extremists.” The left-wing Canadian leader questioned whether the country needed to “tolerate these people.” He further bashed anyone unvaccinated, smearing them as “science deniers.” Although those refusing to be injected are a “small group of the population,” states Trudeau, they are still “taking up space.” The leader stressed that the only way to end this pandemic is by getting jabbed. “We will emerge from this pandemic through vaccination,” said Trudeau. The radical leaders praised the “80% of Quebecers” who received the injection and “did the right thing.”


Canadians “want to get back to the things we like doing,” stressed Trudeau. “These people who are not [vaccinated] are going to block us now,” warned the leader. In Quebec, 77.6% of residents have received two injections vaccination. A total of 15,245,140 doses have been administered. After his shocking comments, the conservative leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, took to Twitter to call Trudeau a “fascist psychopath.”

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Does it get any messier than this?

Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate Reinstated In Half Of US (JTN)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday reversed on a previous decision, and will now mandate health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within the next month in half of the nation where the mandate has not been put on hold by the court. The new CMS rule reverses a decision made on Nov. 5 that suspended the mandate, making it dependent on the future of two cases, State of Louisiana et al v. Xavier Becerra, Sec. of HHS, et al and Joseph Biden, President of U.S., et al v. Missouri, et al. Half of all U.S. states joined in these lawsuits to stop the federal vaccine requirement for health care employees. The Supreme Court combined the two and will hear arguments next week.


Facilities in states not part of the pending case will be forced to have 100% of staff vaccinated by Jan. 27, 2022. If a health care center has a compliance rate of more than 80% and plans to reach a 100% rate within 60 days, then the facility will not be “subject to additional enforcement action.” Depending on the rate of vaccination, enforcement mechanisms include “plans of correction, civil monetary penalties, denial of payment, termination, etc.” Workers must receive a second dose by Feb. 28, the memo states. All employees must receive the vaccine “regardless” of their job responsibilities or the amount of time they are in contact with patients. Health care employees affected by the new rule are allowed to opt-out of the vaccine mandate, and receive other “accommodations” if they have a “disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observations.”

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FDA and CDC play good cop/bad cop.

FDA: PCR Tests For Covid Are ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky’s recent admission that common tests for COVID-19 can detect long-gone infections has some calling into question the Food and Drug Administration’s claim that the tests represent the “gold standard” for diagnosing coronavirus. The CDC’s new caution also falls in line with reports going back 16 months about widespread false positives among the so-called PCR tests, particularly when labs run them at high “cycle thresholds,” which pick up viral loads that may be dead or too small to transmit. The CDC’s decision Monday to halve the recommended “isolation” time for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections amid the Omicron wave, regardless of whether individuals test negative, prompted consternation in some medical circles.

The agency justified the new 5-day isolation by claiming “the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.” But Walensky also emphasized that neither rapid antigen tests, which are currently in short supply, nor PCR tests were appropriate for determining if a person can safely leave isolation. She told CBS Mornings that antigen tests may not be sensitive enough to detect infectiousness, while PCR tests are so sensitive that “it can stay positive for up to 12 weeks, for months and months.” People would have to stay isolated “for a very long time if we were relying on PCRs,” she told Good Morning America. The significance of Walensky’s declaration, which has sweeping implications for COVID policy in the workplace, school and travel settings, went largely unnoticed except among skeptics of COVID policy.

“Think of all the lives ruined, jobs lost, education squandered b/c of false positives,” tweeted Justin Hart, chief data analyst for the COVID contrarian website Rational Ground. “We’ve been saying since summer 2020 that the PCR test can be positive at 5 days or 75 days. And ONLY JUST NOW is it being used to adjust policy,” he said. Hart is suing Facebook, Twitter and the feds for viewpoint discrimination by “conspiring … to censor messages with which [the government] disagrees.” The suit was triggered by Facebook suspending him over a graphic questioning the science behind school mask mandates. The New York Times highlighted the sensitivity problem with PCR tests in August 2020. In a review of testing data with cycle thresholds (CTs) from Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, the newspaper found that “up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus.” The newspaper said most tests in the U.S. were run at 40 CTs and “a few at 37,” but experts it consulted said the threshold should be 30-35, if that high.

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Slow death.

Has The $230 Trillion LIBOR Derivative Time-Bomb Really Been Defused? (ZH)

Years ago, we predicted that the Fed’s commitment to phase out Libor, the interest rate set by committee (not market forces) that had come to undergird trillions of dollars in loans and securities around the world, would ultimately prove unsuccessful. Now, as the FT points out, it appears we were correct. Libor won’t be phased out completely by the start of next year. While technically speaking no new securities can be bechmarked to Libor, there’s still the matter of the $230 trillion in existing contracts that rely on the benchmark. And the rates that undergird these contracts will continue to be published. Still, plenty of other Libor rates won’t. Only the most popular will survive, according to the FT. So in a way, next month does mark the moment when “four years of arduous preparation to live without it goes into effect.”


“It’s one of the biggest transitions in financial markets in decades,” said Dixit Joshi, group treasurer of Deutsche Bank. “This is a milestone for the regulators since the great financial crisis about lessons learned.” But it’s not a complete break, which is what the world was promised in the wake of the scandals that inspired the decision. Much lower in its story on the impending Libor deadline, the FT concedes that, in order to make the transition “work”, America’s financial regulators had to help build a workaround whereby futures markets based on the US dollar LIbor would need to be allowed to continue on until mid-2023, something we noted a year ago. As a result, the US dollar Libor rates will continue to be published until that point (and potentially beyond mid-2023, once regulators devise some new excuse for keeping it alive for even longer).

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Courtesy of US intel.

NGO Memorial Closed By Russian Court Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Breaches (RT)

A Moscow court has ruled that a prominent organization campaigning on human rights issues should be dissolved after prosecutors insisted that it was breaching the country’s laws regulating ‘foreign agents.’ In a ruling on Wednesday, the Moscow City Court said that the Memorial Human Rights Center would be dissolved. Handing down the verdict, judge Mikhail Kazakov said that he would “rule in favor of the claims of the prosecutor’s office to liquidate the inter-regional public organization [Memorial] in full.” Officials allege that the civil society association repeatedly broke the terms of its ‘foreign agent’ status, imposed over links to overseas funding.

The day before, Russia’s Supreme Court ordered that the group’s sister organization, which is dedicated to the memory of the victims of Communist-era repressions, be dissolved as well. Authorities filed applications to liquidate the two entities in November. During the hearing on Tuesday, the Prosecutor General’s office argued that Memorial had been created in the late 1980s originally “as an organization to perpetuate historical memory, but now it is almost completely focused on distorting historical memory, primarily about the Great Patriotic War,” as WWII is known in Russia. According to officials, the group “creates a false image of the USSR as a terrorist state” and “attempts to whitewash and rehabilitate Nazi war criminals who have the blood of Soviet citizens on their hands… probably because someone is paying for this.”

Memorial had faced a number of fines after authorities found it failed to prominently display its ‘foreign agents’ status on its materials. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that the rules “exist simply to protect Russia from external meddling in its politics,” and insisted that organizations that adhere to them can keep working. However, the legislation has come under fire from a number of groups which argue the measures are too restrictive. In August, an open letter signed by 10 separate outlets asked the Kremlin to investigate the use of the ‘foreign agent’ legislation as part of “the persecution of independent journalism in the country.”

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Timing is everything.

Epstein’s Guards Accused Of Sleeping On Job, Falsifying Records Go Free (JTN)

Federal prosecutors moved Thursday to drop criminal charges against two Bureau of Prisons guards who admitted to falsifying records the night convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died on their watch. Manhattan guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas avoided prison time in May 2021 through deferred prosecution agreements mandating that they cooperate with a federal investigation on Epstein’s death and perform 100 hours of volunteer work each. Both complied with the agreements, and the prosecutors asked a judge Thursday to dismiss the charges, Reuters reported. Epstein was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. He was found in August 2019 hanging in his Manhattan cell, and the New York City medical examiner officially declared his death a suicide.


Noel and Thomas were accused of falling asleep on the job and surfing online despite having orders to check every half hour on Epstein, who had recently been taken off of suicide watch. Both admitted to “willfully and knowingly” falsifying records of monitoring Epstein that evening. The prosecution’s move comes the day after Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted on five of the six sex trafficking-related charges brought against her. She is expected to appeal. While Noel’s lawyers could not be reached, Thomas’s lawyer “his client was happy with the dismissal and looked forward to putting the matter behind him,” Reuters reported.

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Records were sealed for a reason.

Maxwell Conviction Leaves Glaring Questions Over Lack of Prosecutions (Turley)

The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell for five out of six criminal charges was heralded by many as bringing some justice for the girls abused through her actions. Indeed, the Southern District of New York correctly called the underlying conduct as “one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children.” However, that statement only begged the question of why none of the men listed on flights of the “Lolita Express” or on the guest lists of these parties have been prosecuted. That list includes former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump as well as Prince Andrew and an assortment of billionaires. It is not clear if these men committed criminal acts but it is also not clear that they have been formally questioned by the FBI.

As I discussed last night, this criminal enterprise was allegedly not only to bring girls and women to Epstein but to his powerful friends. Without pursuing those alleged “johns,” the Maxwell prosecution seems like arresting a getaway driver but letting the bank robbers escape. The pictures of men on these trips are now well-known. They do not in themselves establish criminal conduct. For example, the pictures of Clinton getting a message from a 22-year-old woman is not illegal and she later described him as a “perfect gentleman.” However, Clinton has been accused of misleading the public on his number of flights with Epstein. The media has reported at least 26 flights with Epstein. Being a repeated guest with an infamous child molester raises obvious concerns. It is certainly enough to warrant questioning by the FBI.

Then there is Prince Andrew who has been pursued for questioning. Much of the litigation, however, has come from civil litigation. Prince Andrew recently put forward a novel defense in one such case. Yet, there is a concern that the Justice Department has previously worked to scuttle rather than to pursue the underlying wrongdoing, including a disgraceful plea agreement. I was an early and vocal critic of that deal with Epstein. Despite a strong case for prosecution, Epstein’s lawyers were able to secure a ridiculous deal with prosecutors. He was accused of abusing more than forty minor girls (with many between the ages of 13 and 17). Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence. Epstein was facing a 53-page indictment that could have resulted in life in prison. However, he got the 13 month deal. Moreover, to my lasting surprise, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta was inexplicably made labor secretary under Trump. He later resigned.

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Dog

 

 

 

 

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Dec 302021
 
 December 30, 2021  Posted by at 9:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  55 Responses »


Wassily Kandinsky Painting with Houses 1909

 

Researchers Find Silver Lining In Rise Of Covid Variant Omicron (JTN)
Early Estimates Of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Severity (medRxiv)
SARS-CoV-2 Spike T Cell Responses Remain Robust Against Omicron (medRxiv)
Fauci Says Fourth Covid Vaccine Shot ‘Conceivable’ For Omicron (NYP)
Up To Three Covid Jabs A Year Could Be Needed For Protection (G.)
CDC Admits PCR Tests are Invalid (Martin Armstrong)
Why CDC Doesn’t Require Testing At End Of Isolation (ABC)
Twitter Bans Robert Malone. His Response: ‘Constant Clown Show’ (JTN)
The Pfizer Inoculations For COVID-19 – More Harm Than Good (CCCA)
Joe Rogan’s Sold Out Show Canceled Due To Vaccine Mandates (Hill)
Twitter Suspends John Solomon For Report On Covid Vaccines (JTN)
There Remains No FDA Approved Covid Vaccine In The US (Schachtel)
Ladapo: Biden Admin ‘Actively Preventing’ Monoclonal Antibody Treatments (Fox)
Musk Thinks He Solved Bitcoin’s Greatest Mystery (RT)
Why Assange Fears Being “Epsteined” (Mercer)

 

 

 

 

Clown World
https://twitter.com/i/status/1475657029150986241

 

 

 

 

cloth masks

 

 

“..the “neutralizing immunity” provided by Omicron infection extended to the Delta variant..”

Researchers Find Silver Lining In Rise Of Covid Variant Omicron (JTN)

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 worldwide “may have positive implications in terms of decreasing the Covid-19 burden of severe disease,” according to a new study funded by the Gates Foundation and South African, U.S. and U.K. government agencies. Led by researchers in South Africa, where the variant was first identified, it’s the latest study to suggest the pandemic is approaching endemic status, calling into question the benefits of strict mitigation policies beyond high-risk groups. The preprint, not yet peer-reviewed, found that the “neutralizing immunity” provided by Omicron infection extended to the Delta variant, which appears to be more “pathogenic” than Omicron and still comprises a substantial proportion of COVID infections in several countries.

It was based on 15 participants, mostly vaccinated, who were tested at a median of four days after symptom onset and again 14 days later. They showed 14.4-fold increased neutralization of subsequent Omicron infection but also 4.4-fold increased neutralization of Delta infection, as determined by antibody response. Two of the original 15 were later excluded because they did not “detectably neutralize Omicron at either timepoint.” The results suggest Omicron infection “may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals,” the researchers wrote. If the new variant is indeed less severe, “the infection may shift to become less disruptive to individuals and society.”

Beyond South African institutions, the 30-odd researchers in the study are affiliated with Columbia University, the University of Washington and Imperial College London. The enhanced immunity to Delta was “especially” strong for vaccinated participants, tweeted lead author Alex Sigal, who is affiliated with the Africa Health Research Institute, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology.

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Very small study.

Early Estimates Of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Severity (medRxiv)

While it is now evident that Omicron is rapidly replacing Delta, due to a combination of increased transmissibility and immune escape, it is less clear how the severity of Omicron compares to Delta. In Ontario, we sought to examine hospitalization and death associated with Omicron, as compared to matched cases infected with Delta. We conducted a matched cohort study, considering time to hospitalization or death as the outcome, and analyzed with a Cox proportional hazards model. Cases were matched on age, gender, and onset date, while vaccine doses received and time since vaccination were included as adjustment variables.


We identified 6,314 Omicron cases that met eligibility criteria, of which 6,312 could be matched with at least one Delta case (N=8,875) based on age, gender, and onset date. There were 21 (0.3%) hospitalizations and 0 (0%) deaths among matched Omicron cases, compared to 116 (2.2%) hospitalizations and 7 (0.3%) deaths among matched Delta cases. The adjusted risk of hospitalization or death was 54% lower (HR=0.46, 95%CI: 0.27, 0.77) among Omicron cases compared to Delta cases. While severity may be reduced, the absolute number of hospitalizations and impact on the healthcare system could still be significant due to the increased transmissibility of Omicron.

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Who wants vaccine induced T cells if natural infection does the trick better?

SARS-CoV-2 Spike T Cell Responses Remain Robust Against Omicron (medRxiv)

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has multiple Spike (S) protein mutations that contribute to escape from the neutralizing antibody responses, and reducing vaccine protection from infection. The extent to which other components of the adaptive response such as T cells may still target Omicron and contribute to protection from severe outcomes is unknown. We assessed the ability of T cells to react with Omicron spike in participants who were vaccinated with Ad26.CoV2.S or BNT162b2, and in unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 70). We found that 70-80% of the CD4 and CD8 T cell response to spike was maintained across study groups.


Moreover, the magnitude of Omicron cross-reactive T cells was similar to that of the Beta and Delta variants, despite Omicron harbouring considerably more mutations. Additionally, in Omicron-infected hospitalized patients (n = 19), there were comparable T cell responses to ancestral spike, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins to those found in patients hospitalized in previous waves dominated by the ancestral, Beta or Delta variants (n = 49). These results demonstrate that despite Omicron’s extensive mutations and reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies, the majority of T cell response, induced by vaccination or natural infection, cross-recognises the variant. Well-preserved T cell immunity to Omicron is likely to contribute to protection from severe COVID-19, supporting early clinical observations from South Africa.

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Because it’s so mild…

Fauci Says Fourth Covid Vaccine Shot ‘Conceivable’ For Omicron (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday it’s “conceivable” that a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be recommended to protect against the Omicron variant — though more research is needed about how well the current boosters prevent severe disease. “Before we start talking about a fourth shot, it would be very important for us to determine the durability of protection, particularly against severe disease for the third-shot booster of an mRNA [vaccine] and the second shot of a [Johnson & Johnson],” Fauci said at a White House COVID-19 task force press briefing. But Fauci said it’s possible that more protection will be necessary against the variant.


“It is conceivable that in the future, we might need an additional shot, but right now, we are hoping that we will get a greater degree of durability of protection from that booster shot,” Fauci said. “So we’re going to take one step at a time, get the data from the third boost and then make decisions based on scientific data.” Fauci warned that Omicron has been better at evading the immunity provided by vaccines, causing breakthrough infections. But he said that “boosters bring back up that degree of protection to a level that is approximately what it was before.” “So boosters are critical in getting our approach to Omicron to be optimal,” he said.

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Dutch goverment wants 3rd jab in January, 2 more in 2022, and then no. 6 in 2023. How many people will comply?

Up To Three Covid Jabs A Year Could Be Needed For Protection (G.)

Australians may have to receive two or even three Covid jabs each year to maintain defences against the virus if early results on the efficacy of booster shots turn out to be a useful guide. Weekly data published just before Christmas by the UK’s Health Security Agency shows the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and Moderna boosters against symptomatic diseases is lower for the Omicron than the Delta variant across all periods after the injection. The analysis included 147,597 Delta and 68,489 Omicron cases in the UK. The agency stressed the “results should be interpreted with caution due to the low counts and the possible biases related to the populations with highest exposure to Omicron (including travellers and their close contacts) which cannot fully be accounted for”.


The UK data showed both Pfizer and Moderna boosters had 90% effectiveness against symptomatic diseases from the Delta variant up to at least nine weeks. By contrast, efficacy against the Omicron strain was about 30% lower, and appeared to drop away further after nine weeks. Israel has already begun administering a second booster dose to follow the original three-dose treatment, and at least one US medical centre is considering recommending staff have a second booster. Medical experts in Australia said results beyond the 12-week dataset would be needed to get a longer term picture. Jaya Dantas, a professor of international health at Curtin University, said it was still early days for the understanding of the efficacy of the vaccinations but “it appears that there might be a need for regular boosters”. “You might need boosters, say maybe two a year or three a year,” Dantas said, with elderly people more likely to be in line for a triple annual dose.

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“..the politics in the USA realizes that this is not going well and they need to shift gears or all be thrown out in the next election.”

CDC Admits PCR Tests are Invalid (Martin Armstrong)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is finally withdrawing the PCR test for COVID for it is seriously flawed and is incapable of distinguishing between the COVID and influenza viruses. I have stated that I was tested 5 times in 2020 and all were negative only to have two doctors, including the head of pulmonary at the hospital, inform me that they believed I had COVID despite the tests because they were “invalid” and that was back then. Social Media was blocking any discussion about that calling it conspiracy theory and misinformation. This agenda to terrorize the public for political gain has been at the heart of the abuse of politics and media intruding into the medical field. Doctors who have gone along with this terror campaign are a disgrace to their field.

The CDC is withdrawing the COVID PCR Test and the media is not making this front page. The withdraw of the COVID PCR test as valid for detecting and identifying SARS-CoV-2 is critical for all the restrictions and lockdowns. It appears that the collapse in the approval ratings for BIDEN has sent a shock wave through the Democrats as they see their own demise on the horizon. They are now back-peddling in hopes of surviving the 2022 elections. The CDC has stated on its website: “After December 31, 2021, CDC will withdraw the request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, the assay first introduced in February 2020 for detection of SARS-CoV-2 only.”

The CDC has finally admitted that the PCR test cannot even differentiate between SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses. As I was told personally that the test was invalid, the politics in the USA realizes that this is not going well and they need to shift gears or all be thrown out in the next election.

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“..because PCR tests can stay positive for up to 12 weeks..”

Why CDC Doesn’t Require Testing At End Of Isolation (ABC)

The newly updated CDC guidelines don’t require testing at the end of isolation because PCR tests can stay positive for up to 12 weeks, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told “Good Morning America” Wednesday. “So we would have people in isolation for a very long time if we were relying on PCRs,” Walensky said. Walensky also addressed Tuesday’s news from the FDA that, according to early data, rapid antigen tests may be less sensitive when it comes to the omicron variant.


“We do know that the most sensitive test you can do is a PCR test,” Walensky said. “So if you have symptoms and you have a negative antigen test, we do ask you to go and get a PCR to make sure those symptoms are not attributable to COVID.” Walensky said rapid tests do work “quite well,” especially in places where people are being tested regularly, like at schools. “They may not work as well as they have for the delta variant,” Walensky said, but “we still are encouraging their use.”

Tolerate

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“Over a half million followers gone in a blink of an eye..”

I think maybe Malone got banned because he’s about to go on Joe Rogan. Whose interview with Peter McCullough was the most popular one he did at 40 million listeners.

Twitter Bans Robert Malone. His Response: ‘Constant Clown Show’ (JTN)

A social media purge may be accelerating against reporting and commentary perceived at odds with conventional storylines on COVID-19. Twitter permanently suspended mRNA vaccine pioneer-turned-critic Robert Malone’s account Wednesday for “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information” about the novel coronavirus, according to a notice Malone shared with Just the News. [..] Malone’s only previous sanction was a 12-hour suspension for “posting something with a commercial intent (near as I could tell),” Malone said. He has also received complaints about his tweets required by “German law” over the past year. But he suspects his “big sin” was sharing the Canadian Covid Care Alliance’s analysis of Pfizer’s “adverse event reports” from the first six months of its COVID vaccine’s emergency use authorization.

In a Substack essay Wednesday, posted before his account went down, Malone characterized that analysis as showing the “inoculations cause more illness than they prevent” – a claim at odds with mainstream scientific opinion. France-owned newswire service AFP countered the Canadian Covid Care Alliance’s claims several months ago and similar claims earlier this month, arguing the Pfizer data had been misconstrued. It quoted a Pfizer spokesperson who said the causes of the 1,223 fatalities among 158,893 adverse effects had not been verified, and reflect “spontaneous” reports from sources in several countries. An FDA spokesperson said “the vast majority of the deaths reported are not directly attributable to the vaccines.”[..]

The last archive of Malone’s Twitter page Wednesday afternoon doesn’t show him promoting the analysis. But his final tweets linked to a British Medical Journal investigation into “data integrity issues in Pfizer’s vaccine trial” and a related interview. He also claimed the World Economic Forum had published a “roadmap” for “managing us,” citing WEF’s “Transformation Map” on peace and resilience. “This is the face of global information control and warfare,” he told Just the News, referring to the map. “It’s not just Twitter.” Malone announced his suspension on Substack and encouraged readers to sign up for his newsletter. “Over a half million followers gone in a blink of an eye,” he wrote, referring to his Twitter audience. “That means I must have been on the mark, so to speak.”

Created less than a month ago to share “deeper” essays and research, the newsletter had 35,000 subscribers Wednesday morning, he told Just the News. It “just exploded” after Twitter deplatformed him later in the day. A much larger audience will get to hear from Malone soon. He’s scheduled to go on Joe Rogan’s podcast, by some measures the most popular in America.

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The report Malone mentioned.

The Pfizer Inoculations For COVID-19 – More Harm Than Good (CCCA)

Watch this video of the Pfizer 6 month data which shows that Pfizer’s COVID-19 inoculations cause more illness than they prevent. Plus, an overview of the Pfizer trial flaws in both design and execution.

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Rescheduled for October?! By then, what will he talk about?

Joe Rogan’s Sold Out Show Canceled Due To Vaccine Mandates (Hill)

Joe Rogan’s sold out Vancouver show, scheduled for April 20, has been canceled after the podcast host said he likely would be unable to enter Canada from the U.S., where he lives, because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. In a Dec. 24 episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Rogan told his guest, comedian Tim Dillon, that Rogan’s springtime show in Vancouver was likely to be canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions in British Columbia. The Canadian territory requires proof of vaccination to gain entry into some indoor businesses and event spaces, including Rogers Arena, where Rogan’s show was set to take place.


“I should probably say this because I haven’t yet. My 4/20 show that’s sold out in Vancouver — I don’t think that’s happening,” Rogan said. “I don’t think I can even get into the country. I’m not vaccinated. I’m not gonna get vaccinated. I have antibodies, it doesn’t make any sense.” Rogan announced in an Instagram post in early September that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 after running a high fever and said he had been taking a mix of medications, including monoclonal antibody treatments, Z-Pak, the anti-inflammatory drug prednisone and the antiparasitic ivermectin, which the FDA has said is not recommended for treating COVID-19.

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“It is outrageous and unfair that a story that is completely accurate and points out an important legal distinction between the two versions of vaccines gets blocked and my account suspended..”

Twitter Suspends John Solomon For Report On Covid Vaccines (JTN)

Twitter suspended the account of Just the News founder John Solomon for sharing an article about the legal distinctions between Pfizer’s fully approved and emergency use authorization (EUA) COVID-19 vaccines, which could affect the legality of vaccine mandates. The social media company is also warning users who click the link to the article from individual tweets that it “may be unsafe” and “could lead to real-world harm.” An immunologist who reviewed the article told Just the News he saw nothing wrong with it factually. Solomon’s Dec. 27 tweet shared the link and headline: “Pfizer to continue distributing version of COVID-19 vaccine not fully approved by FDA.”

The report noted that Pfizer and several experts have claimed that the fully approved Comirnaty vaccine has the same ingredients and manufacturing process as the EUA vaccine, known as Pfizer-BioNTech. But it also cited the FDA’s acknowledgment that the two are “legally distinct” owing to more stringent requirements for the Comirnaty vaccine, whose biologics license application (BLA) was approved. In a legal challenge to the U.S. military’s vaccine mandate, a federal judge ruled in November that “FDA licensure does not retroactively apply to [EUA vaccine] vials shipped before BLA approval.” U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor cited DOD guidance that limits mandates to fully approved vaccines, which must be “produced at approved facilities.”

“It is outrageous and unfair that a story that is completely accurate and points out an important legal distinction between the two versions of vaccines gets blocked and my account suspended,” Solomon told Just the News. “The distinction was important enough for a federal judge to note. The story and my post weren’t unsafe,” he said. “The only threat is to the safety of the 1st Amendment afflicted by Twitter’s wrongheaded decision.” [..] According to the notice Solomon received, Twitter “temporarily limited” his account features for 12 hours because the tweet violates its policy on “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information” related to COVID.

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What got Solomon banned.

There Remains No FDA Approved Covid Vaccine In The US (Schachtel)

Is Pfizer refusing to make the fully authorized version available, while continuing to sell an EUA product because doing so could open up Pfizer and BioNTech to legal liability issues? Pfizer and an HHS spokesperson talked to The Washington Post in a previous “fact check,” and claimed that there’s no additional legal immunity benefits between the EUA product and Comirnaty. However, these entities have never explained why Pfizer and the federal government would go through the trouble of recognizing two legally distinct products. An EUA fully protects the drugmaker and grants zero legal recourse to the patient. This surefire protection measure was bolstered by the PREP act and other measures implemented to shield COVID companies from liability. Now, here’s where it all gets very nefarious.

Due to a law passed during the Reagan Administration, in order for drug makers to be granted more robust legal liability protection for their vaccines, they must first secure full approval for the children’s version of their shot. Steve Kirsch has explained this at length last month on his Substack. Additionally, Robert Kennedy Jr mentioned it on a recent podcast with Mikhaila Peterson. I looked into these claims extensively, and they appear accurate. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), which was passed into law in 1986, provides a legal liability shield to drug manufacturers if they receive full authorization for all ages. Is Pfizer seeking approval for children so that it can protect itself from lawsuits? The company is working with regulators, even clandestinely altering vaccine ingredients (a process that should require them to get full approval for an entirely separate product), in a seeming bid to clear the path to legal indemnity.

Surely, there’s also a monetary incentive in play, but maybe there’s another reason why Pfizer, Moderna, and others are working relentlessly to authorize their products for children, who face near-zero risk from COVID-19, but continue to showcase alarming side effects from the vaccine. A vaccine on the children’s schedule provides a definitive, government-incentivized liability boost. If Comirnaty becomes available for all ages, that means Pfizer receives an extensive, additional layer of protection. Is Big Pharma using children as legal human shields for their products?

RFK: If a vaccine is introduced under EUA, the maker can’t be sued. When it IS approved, they can be sued. Unless they can get it recommended for children. That’s why 5 year olds are being jabbed.

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There is no federal solution. Ask Joe….

Ladapo: Biden Admin ‘Actively Preventing’ Monoclonal Antibody Treatments (Fox)

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo accused the Biden administration of “actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments” in the United States, according to a Tuesday letter addressed to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra.The Biden administration recently paused shipments of COVID-19 antibody treatments manufactured by major drug companies Regeneron and Eli Lilly amid claims that such treatments are not effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The federal government continues to supply Sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody from the company Glaxosmithkline, which reportedly does work against omicron. Ladapo concluded his letter by referencing comments Biden made Monday that there wasn’t a solution by the federal government to end the nearly two-year-old pandemic.


“There is no federal solution. This gets solved at the state level,” Biden said at the time in response to Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson warning the president against letting “federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions.” A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pushed back against Ladapo’s assertion, telling Fox News Digital in a statement: “The federal government has and will continue to supply Florida with treatments that can help improve patient outcomes, reduce stress on healthcare facilities, and save lives. We have never stopped allocating or shipping COVID-19 therapeutics to Florida. “With regard to monoclonal antibody treatments, the federal government has allocated about 22,000 doses in just the past two weeks (11,050 doses last week and 10,576 doses this week). That’s in addition to the approximately 28,000 doses of product that they have on hand from their previous orders,” the statement continued.

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“He claims not to be Nakamoto, but I’m not sure that’s neither here nor there.”

Musk Thinks He Solved Bitcoin’s Greatest Mystery (RT)

The true identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, who has been one of the financial world’s enduring mysteries, is still unknown. However, Elon Musk says he might have the answer. Musk says hyper-secretive cryptocurrency expert Nick Szabo might be the creator of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. “You can look at the evolution of ideas before the launch of Bitcoin and see who wrote about those ideas,” Musk told artificial-intelligence researcher Lex Fridman in a podcast on Tuesday. The Tesla CEO also denied the allegations that he could be Satoshi, stating he would not hide it if he were. Musk said while he “obviously” doesn’t know exactly who created Bitcoin, Szabo’s theories seem fundamental to the creation of the world’s leading cryptocurrency.


“It seems as though Nick Szabo is probably, more than anyone else, responsible for the evolution of those ideas,” he said. “He claims not to be Nakamoto, but I’m not sure that’s neither here nor there. But he seems to be the one more responsible for the ideas behind Bitcoin than anyone else. In 2014, a team of researchers studied Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper alongside the writing of Szabo and 10 other potential creators. “The number of linguistic similarities between Szabo’s writing and the Bitcoin whitepaper is uncanny,” they said, adding that “none of the other possible authors were anywhere near as good of a match.” Before Bitcoin debuted in 2008, Szabo was seen commenting on his blog about his “intent to create a living version of the hypothetical currency.” He had developed a digital money mechanism known as Szabo Bit Gold between 1998 and 2005.

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The FBI sealed 20,000 photos seized from Epstein’s residences, as Ghislaine was found guilty. Who’s in those photos? Clinton, Gates, who else?

Summit of irony: The BBC had Alan Dershowitz on to opine on the verdict.

Why Assange Fears Being “Epsteined” (Mercer)

If America’s so free and fair, why is Julian Assange, innocent in natural law, so terrified of being extradited to the USA? And why must journalist Glenn Greenwald live abroad, after heroically helping whistleblower Edward Snowden, now safely ensconced in Russia? American heroes living abroad for fear of the American Security State? Time perhaps to shut up about China? In 2010, Snowden had shared internal NSA documents with Mr. Greenwald, the guardian of American freedoms at the British Guardian newspaper. Facilitated by Greenwald, Snowden divulged that the National Security Agency boasted of having “direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, PalTalk, YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL, and other servers.”

It transpired that, contrary to what you’d been told by officials under oath, “the world’s largest surveillance organization” can and does “obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.” This is contrary to the Bill of Rights, and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, in particular, which specifies that “warrants shall issue” only “upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation. Tellingly, the tools of Big Media and Big Government had not apprised you of these facts.

It took Snowden to come forth, in his words, “to reveal the criminality.” In Snowden’s poignant words, “You can’t wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act. … I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American,” he summed-up so simply. “Thank you for your service,” Mr. Snowden. For his part, a decade before he was broken, an insouciant Assange told the New Yorker that “a social movement to expose secrets could bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality — including the US administration.” A naïve Assange had vowed to skewer “lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil.”

With its many epic “data dumps,” Assange’s WikiLeaks enlightened and educated, providing definitive proof that the mass media are lapdogs, not watchdogs. Democratic lapdogs. The colluding quislings of the major American networks and newspapers had actively worked to elect Mrs. Clinton. Thanks to WikiLeaks, Americans also learned of the contempt with which these Democrats hold them. [..] Well, America has jurisdiction over Assange because it has simply asserted it based on trumped-up charges equating his journalism with espionage. Which is why Assange now fears being “Epsteined.”

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Elon and Bernie

 

 

OSCAR WILDE / JULIAN ASSANGE
History repeats itself

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Jan 262021
 


James McNeill Whistler Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville 1865

 

EU Threatens To Block Covid Vaccine Exports Amid AstraZeneca Shortfall (G.)
COVID19 Has Cost Global Workers $3.7 Trillion In Lost Earnings – ILO (G.)
House Delivers Impeachment Article To Senate (ZH)
Joe Biden On Donald Trump’s Impeachment Trial: ‘It Has To Happen’ (G.)
Sen. Leahy To Preside Over Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial (JTN)
Democrats Have Released A Roadmap To One-Party Rule (RCP)
Poll: Trump ‘Patriot Party’ Would Win 23% Of Voters, Drop GOP To Third (JTN)
Democrat Sens. Manchin, Sinema Won’t Back Elimination Of The Filibuster (JTN)
Janet Yellen Confirmed As Treasury Secretary (Axios)
Twitter Launches Birdwatch, A Wikipedia-Style Approach To Fight Misinformation (F.)
Ex-CIA Engineer Tells Judge He’s Incarcerated Like An Animal (Ind.)
Leon Black To Step Down From Apollo Global After Epstein Investigation (F.)
Flying Blind (Jim Kunstler)
Let Nuke Plants Run for 100 Years? (CP)

 

 

We passed 100 million cases overnight.

 

 

And off to the bullfight we go. Still not a word on HCQ, ivermectin or even vitamin D. Is it really just incompetence?

EU Threatens To Block Covid Vaccine Exports Amid Astrazeneca Shortfall (G.)

The EU has threatened to block exports of coronavirus vaccines to countries outside the bloc such as Britain, after AstraZeneca was accused of failing to give a satisfactory explanation for a huge shortfall of promised doses to member states. The pharmaceutical company’s new distribution plans were said to be “unacceptable” after it “surprisingly” informed the European commission on Friday that there would be significant shortfalls on the original schedule. The EU has been due to receive 100m doses in the first quarter of this year. But it is feared that the bloc will only receive half of that despite making large advance purchases ahead of authorisation of the vaccine by the European medicines agency.

In a heated call with AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, on Monday, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the company must live up to its contractual obligations. The EMA is expected to authorise the vaccine by the end of this week. Von der Leyen’s spokesperson said: “She made it clear that she expects AstraZeneca to deliver on the contractual arrangements foreseen in the advance purchasing agreement. “She reminded Mr Soriot that the EU has invested significant amounts in the company up front precisely to ensure that production is ramped up even before the conditional market authorisation is delivered by the European Medicines Agency. “Of course, production issues can appear with the complex vaccine, but we expect the company to find solutions and to exploit all possible flexibilities to deliver swiftly.”

The EU’s health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, made a televised statement to express her frustration at the company’s behaviour, warning that the answers so far provided had not been satisfactory. Late on Monday evening following discussions with executives representing the pharmaceutical company, Kyriakides tweeted: “Discussions with AstraZeneca today resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations. “EU member states are united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold. “With our member states, we have requested from [Astrazeneca] a detailed planning of vaccine deliveries and when distribution will take place to member states. Another meeting will be convened on Wednesday to discuss the matter further.”

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On the bright side, at least we know where those trillions are. Safely in the hands of Bezos, Musk et al.

COVID19 Has Cost Global Workers $3.7 Trillion In Lost Earnings – ILO (G.)

The economic blow from Covid-19 has cost workers around the world $3.7tn (£2.7tn) in lost earnings, after the pandemic wiped out four times the number of working hours lost in the 2008 financial crisis, according to the UN’s labour body. The International Labour Organization (ILO) said women and younger workers had borne the brunt of job losses and reductions in hours, and warned that people in sectors hardest-hit by the crisis – such as hospitality and retail – risked being left behind when the economy recovers. Sounding the alarm that entrenched levels of inequality risked becoming a defining feature of the economic rebound from Covid-19, the Geneva-based agency said that governments around the world needed to take urgent action to support those at the heart of the storm.

In its annual analysis of the global jobs market, it said 8.8% of working hours were lost in 2020 relative to the end of 2019, equivalent to 255m full-time jobs. This is approximately four times bigger than the damage suffered by workers as a consequence of the 2008-9 financial crisis. These “massive losses” resulted in an 8.3% decline in global labour income, before government support measures are included, according to the ILO, equivalent to $3.7tn in earnings – about 4.4% of global GDP. Women have been more affected than men by the disruption to the jobs market, with female workers more likely to drop out of work altogether and stop looking for a new job. Younger workers have also been particularly hard hit, either losing jobs, dropping out of the labour force or delaying the search for a first job.

The ILO said there were some encouraging signs of recovery at the start of 2021 as the Covid-19 vaccine is gradually deployed around the world. However, it still estimated the continuing economic fallout would lead to a 3% loss of working hours globally in 2021 compared with the end of 2019, equivalent to 90m full-time jobs. In a pessimistic scenario, which assumes slow progress on vaccination, working hours would fall by 4.6% this year, while on an optimistic path the world economy would still lose 1.3% of working hours.

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They’re so hungry for blood they can’t see how ridiculous they look.

House Delivers Impeachment Article To Senate (ZH)

The House delivered its single impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, setting the stage for a February 8 trial. Just three Senate Republicans were present during the formal delivery of the article; Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney and Roger Marshall. Senators will get sworn in as jurors on Tuesday, according to a previous statement by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), while both the impeachment managers who will argue the House Democrats’ case, and Trump’s defense team, will have time to draft and file legal briefs, according to CNBC. “The managers, headed by lead manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., carried the article across the Capitol to the Senate on Monday in masked pairs as part of a formal procession. As Raskin read the charge against Trump, a smattering of senators wearing face coverings looked on from within the chamber.” -CNBC

Ironically, Trump – the only president to be impeached twice by the House – is unlikely to be convicted according to none other than President Biden, who told CNN he believed the outcome would be different if Trump had six months left in office – but that he doubts the required 17 GOP senators will vote to convict. Which begs the question if the entire exercise is moot, then why do it as it will only further polarize the already deeply divided US society and certainly not help the “unity” that Biden is allegedly striving to achieve. Trump was charged by the House with incitement of insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6 by, as House Democrats claim, ‘falsely claiming that widespread election fraud cost him the 2020 election,’ and then encouraging his supporters to show up and challenge the electoral college count.

According to the article, Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government,” and “thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

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Twitter comment:

“DC will stay under military occupation while the opposition leader is put on trial..”

Joe Biden On Donald Trump’s Impeachment Trial: ‘It Has To Happen’ (G.)

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump “has to happen”, Joe Biden told CNN on Monday. While acknowledging the effect it could have on his agenda, the president said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen”. Biden said he didn’t think enough Republican senators would vote for impeachment to convict, though he also said the outcome might well have been different if Trump had had six months left in his term. “The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” Biden said. The US House on Monday delivered its article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for Trump’s second impeachment trial and the first ever Senate trial of a former US president.


Trump has been charged with inciting the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, when an assault by a violent pro-Trump mob lead to the deaths of five people. Monday’s delivery and formal reading of the charge marks the opening of the trial, although arguments are set to start the week of 8 February. Republicans and Democrats last week agreed to a two-week delay to the start of the proceedings to allow both sides to prepare arguments and give senators a fortnight to negotiate vital legislation to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus and consider Biden’s cabinet appointments. Following Trump’s impeachment in the House on 13 January, Biden had said he hoped senators would “deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation”.

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Judge, jury and henchman. Where’s the impartiality? Isn’t that required in a trial?

Sen. Leahy To Preside Over Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial (JTN)

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy is presiding over the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Trump in the Democratic-led Senate, the lawmakers announced in a statement on Monday. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the first impeachment trial against Trump, which centered on his phone conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, in which he brought up Hunter Biden’s work with a Ukrainian gas company while his father, Joe Biden, was U.S. vice president. Leahy, the new Senate president pro tempore, voted in favor of convicting Trump on both articles of impeachment during the first trial against Trump in February 2020. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.


“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents. When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement on Monday. “It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously.” Leahy also said he considers holding the president pro tempore position “one of the highest honors and most serious responsibilities” of his political career. “When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws,” he said.

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“Mark Zuckerberg alone poured $419 million into this scheme.”

Democrats Have Released A Roadmap To One-Party Rule (RCP)

The Democrats appear intent on instituting one-party rule in the United States. They’re trying to use the U.S. Capitol riots as an excuse to criminalize dissent and banish conservative voices from the public sphere, and at the same time they’re hoping to use their temporary, razor-thin majority in Congress to rewrite the rules governing our elections in a way designed to keep the Democratic Party entrenched in power for decades to come. In the House, Democrats have revived sweeping election reform legislation that died in the Senate during the previous session, perhaps hoping they can browbeat enough Republicans into going along with them. If that happens, the “Grand Old Party” of Abraham Lincoln might as well disband, because Republicans would never have any hope of regaining a congressional majority or controlling the White House under the rules that HR 1 would put in place.

Although the Constitution explicitly places state legislatures in charge of managing federal elections, HR 1 seeks to use the power of the purse to bludgeon the states into conforming to a centralized system pioneered in California and other deep-blue states. Congress can’t technically compel the states to change their voting laws, but seasoned politicians know that the states have become dependent on federal money to run their elections, and can’t afford to pick up the tab themselves. To make matters worse, HR 1 declares that Congress possesses “ultimate supervisory power over Federal elections” — an extraordinary usurpation of governmental authority that the Founders specifically assigned to the states. The 2020 election witnessed private interests dictating the manner in which the election was conducted in the nation’s urban cores.

Mark Zuckerberg alone poured $419 million into this scheme. The goal of centralizing power in the hands of the federal government has long been at the heart of liberal politics, and this legislation demonstrates why. HR 1 would codify the very practices — many of them currently illegal in most states — that created widespread irregularities in the 2020 elections and contributed greatly to public mistrust of the electoral process. In 2020, state and local officials used the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to ignore or deliberately violate state election laws. If HR 1 is enacted, they won’t need any such excuse in 2022 because the states will have no choice but to implement policies such as legalized ballot harvesting, early voting, and universal mail-in voting, as well as repeal of voter ID laws, signature-matching laws, and other ballot security measures.

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Democrats’ wet dream.

Poll: Trump ‘Patriot Party’ Would Win 23% Of Voters, Drop GOP To Third (JTN)

A hypothetical “Patriot Party” led by former President Donald Trump would win the support of almost a quarter — 23% — of the electorate, bumping the GOP down to third place with just 17%, according to a new Just the News poll with Scott Rasmussen. The startling survey result comes amid reports that Senate Republican support for convicting Trump in an impeachment trial is fast eroding. A Trump third party could provoke a pivotal realignment in American politics. With the support of 46% of registered voters in the new poll, Democrats would reap the benefits of a fractured opposition and entrench themselves as the nation’s dominant party — even without majority support.

Among “very conservative” voters — who make up a disproportionately large bloc within the Republican primary electorate — a Trump Patriot Party crushes the GOP 55%-24%. Should Trump remain in the GOP, his wide lead among these highly motivated voters affords him great leverage to influence the direction of the party by wielding the threat of conservative primary challenges against establishment Republicans ill at ease with the former president’s combative brew of conservatism infused with populism and nationalism. Despite Trump’s outperformance in 2020 of recent GOP presidential candidates among minorities, African-American and Hispanic voters effectively split evenly between the GOP and a Patriot Party in the the new poll.

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Move the goalposts.

Democrat Sens. Manchin, Sinema Won’t Back Elimination Of The Filibuster (JTN)

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will not back the elimination of the filibuster. “I do not support doing away with the filibuster under any condition. It’s not who I am,” West Virginia’s Manchin said on Monday, according to The Hill. “If I haven’t said it very plain, maybe Sen. McConnell hasn’t understood, I want to basically say it for you. That I will not vote in this Congress, that’s two years, right? I will not vote” to alter the filibuster, the senator said in an interview on Monday, according to Politico. Sinema of Arizona is also unwilling to support nixing the filibuster. According to the Washington Post, a Sinema spokesperson said that the lawmaker is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster.” “The Senate filibuster has evolved over the course of its history into a de facto supermajority requirement, necessitating 60 votes to end debate and advance legislation,” according to the Post.

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Vicious circles: as Fed president, she lowered interest rates, which as Treasury Secretary she can now use to excuse “acting big”.

Janet Yellen Confirmed As Treasury Secretary (Axios)

The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary on Monday. Yellen is the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary, a Cabinet position that will be crucial in helping steer the country out of the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Yellen previously served as the first female chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton and the first female chair of the Federal Reserve under President Obama. Her confirmation as Treasury secretary makes her the first person to have held all three economic power positions in the federal government. Yellen told senators during her confirmation hearings that her immediate focus would be pandemic relief. With her confirmation, she can immediately start negotiating and working with Congress to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal.


“The damage has been sweeping, and as the President-elect said last Thursday, our response must be, too,” Yellen said last week. Yellen also endorsed Biden’s tax reform plan in her testimony, but she said the administration’s top legislative priority would be economic stimulus, with infrastructure not too far behind. “The focus right now is on providing relief and on helping families keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and not on raising taxes.” “Neither the president-elect nor I propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.”

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Big Bird is watching you.

Twitter Launches Birdwatch, A Wikipedia-Style Approach To Fight Misinformation (F.)

In a significant attempt to overhaul how it moderates content, Twitter on Monday unveiled Birdwatch, a pilot program to crowdsource fact-checks to combat misinformation. Birdwatch will allow regular users, called “Birdwatchers,” to identify tweets they think have misinformation and write notes with more information and context, which is similar to Wikipedia, where registered volunteers write, update and edit articles for accuracy. Anyone can apply to be a Birdwatcher, and the only requirements are a valid phone number, email and no recent violations of Twitter’s rules. Birdwatch notes will appear beneath a tweet, and in an effort to prevent people from gaming the system, Birdwatchers will be able to rate the effectiveness of each note, impacting the note’s ranking.

The program is currently a pilot, and is only available via a separate website, but eventually the company wants to expand Birdwatch to the rest of Twitter. During the pilot, Twitter said it wants to focus on making Birdwatch “resistant to manipulation attempts and ensure “it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors.” “We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors,” Twitter Vice President Keith Coleman said in a blog post.

Twitter has long been under pressure to prevent misinformation from spreading on its platform. But it wasn’t until this year that the company took more aggressive action. Twitter fact-checked tweets from former president Donald Trump and other politicians about Covid-19, mail-in voting and the election results. Those labels linked to news organizations or other institutions offering credible information. The social network eventually banned Trump entirely, citing tweets that could incite more violence following the Capitol riot. The intention of Birdwatch, though, is to expand those efforts beyond “circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention,” Coleman said.

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Gitmo in Manhattan.

“Schulte has been in solitary confinement and not been outdoors in over two years..”

“Schulte’s filthy cell, the size of a parking space, is infested with rodents, rodent droppings, cockroaches and mold and there is no heating, air conditioning or functioning plumbing..”

Ex-CIA Engineer Tells Judge He’s Incarcerated Like An Animal (Ind.)

A former CIA software engineer charged with leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks says it’s cruel and unusual punishment that he’s awaiting trial in solitary confinement, housed in a vermin-infested cell of a jail unit where inmates are treated like “caged animals ” Joshua Schulte, 32, has asked a Manhattan federal judge to force the federal Bureau of Prisons to improve conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he has been held for over two years under highly restrictive conditions usually reserved for terrorism defendants. In court papers Tuesday, Schulte maintained he is held in conditions “below that of impoverished persons living in third world countries.” “It is barbaric and inhumane to lock human beings into boxes for years and years — it is a punishment worse than death,” the court filing said.

Last year, a jury deadlocked on espionage charges alleging that Schulte stole a massive trove of the agency’s hacking tools and gave it to the organization that publishes news leaks. He was convicted of lesser charges of contempt of court and making false statements. He is scheduled for another trial on espionage charges in June in what was said to be the largest leak in CIA history involving classified information. Afterward, he faces a separate trial on child pornography charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. In his 20s, Schulte, originally from Lubbock, Texas, worked as a coder at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where digital sleuths design computer code to spy on foreign adversaries.

The so-called Vault 7 leak published in March 2017 by WikiLeaks revealed how the CIA hacked Apple and Android smartphones in overseas spying operations and efforts to turn internet-connected televisions into listening devices. After a yearlong probe, investigators blamed Schulte, who had already left the agency after falling out with colleagues and supervisors and moved to New York City to work at a news agency. At trial, a prosecutor called the leaks “devastating to national security.” A defense lawyer said the materials could have been accessed and stolen by hundreds of people. Juror Alexis Anthony said she never thought the evidence was strong enough to convict Schulte of espionage-related charges.

According to the court papers, Schulte has been in solitary confinement and not been outdoors in over two years under special administrative measures designed to severely restrict an inmate’s communications and interactions with others. Prosecutors say the measures are necessary after Schulte tried to leak even more classified information using a contraband cellphone that had been smuggled into the jail. They said he declared an “information war” and was “prepared to burn down the United States government.” Schulte’s filthy cell, the size of a parking space, is infested with rodents, rodent droppings, cockroaches and mold and there is no heating, air conditioning or functioning plumbing, the court papers said, while sunlight is blocked by a blacked out window. Television access is permitted for one hour per week.

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“Black paid Epstein a stunning $158 million in fees for services..”

Leon Black To Step Down From Apollo Global After Epstein Investigation (F.)

Leon Black, the billionaire co-founder of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, will be stepping down from his role as CEO of the $433 billion in assets firm. Black, who will remain as chairman, will be replaced by co-founder Marc Rowan by mid-year. The announcement of changed leadership came on Monday evening as Apollo released findings of an investigation directed by its board of directors into Black’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier who was criminally charged with human trafficking in 2019. Apollo said its investigation, conducted by law firm Dechert, found “no evidence that Mr. Black was involved in any way with Mr. Epstein’s criminal activities at any time.”

However, the report did show that Black paid Epstein a stunning $158 million in fees for services, loaned him over $30 million in loans and made a $10 million donation to Epstein’s charity, all figures that are multiples of what was previously reported. While the changing of guard atop one of the world’s largest private equity firms was characterized as part of its succession planning—Black is turning 70 this year and has been one of Wall Street’s most feared dealmakers for decades—it is also a maneuver by Apollo to move past well over a year of Epstein-related questions, which have slowed the firm’s growth, sunk its stock at times, and been a troubling mystery for its investors.

Black is the most prominent Wall Street A-lister connected to Epstein, a disgraced financier who was convicted and jailed for sex trafficking charges in 2008. After a Miami Herald investigation into Epstein in 2018, it was revealed that his trafficking operation was far greater than the public had known due to a sweetheart deal he cut with Florida prosecutors. The Herald found Epstein’s alleged trafficking was international and included numerous victims who came forward with allegations. The investigation, which won reporter Julia K. Brown a Pulitzer prize, caused prosecutors to reopen their investigations of Epstein, and exposed deep ties between Epstein, Wall Street power players like Black and well connected politicians and heads of state.

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“There will be plenty of work for former professors of Intersectionality in the sorghum fields.”

Flying Blind (Jim Kunstler)

Growing food and getting it to markets is the most critical activity. Poor Bill Gates, addled by his fortune, has bought up something like a quarter-million acres of farmland. His grandiosity prompts him to believe he can organize farming on the super-giant scale — Walmart for corn and turnips. Nothing could be further from the real coming trend: a reduction of scale and scope of farming and of the distribution supply lines that serve it. Poor Bill doesn’t seem to realize that the oil-and-gas-based “inputs” (fertilizers, pesticides) won’t be there for him, nor will the million-dollar diesel-powered combines. Nor the trucking industry. He could do more good for mankind getting into the mule business. (He won’t. Lacks razzle-dazzle.)

The transition between the old giant agri-biz model of farming and the emergent system of small-scaled farms based on human and animal labor will be arduous and disorderly in the early going. A lot of people will miss a lot of meals, and you know what that means. Working on a farm will be one way to make sure you get enough to eat. But also consider all the businesses that have to be created from scratch on the local level to serve the logistics of farming. You are already seeing many food products unavailable in the supermarkets. That will become more distressingly obvious in the disorders of 2021. When food deliveries to the supermarkets get really spotty, the farmers’ markets will not just be for schmoozing over lattes and almond croissants.

For those perhaps not paying attention, Covid-19 has destroyed what remains of education, especially the public school system. It was already moribund, waiting to crash, reduced to a pension racket for teachers. Going forward, the money won’t be there to operate these giant centralized schools and their yellow buses (while paying out pensions). The virus has kick-started exactly the kind of home-schooling pod system (several families combining) that can be reorganized into small-scale schooling for people who want it. People who don’t want it can move into their future without knowing how to read or do arithmetic. We’ll finally get a good test of the noble savage hypothesis. As for the colleges and universities, their business models are toast. They’ll be downscaling and shuttering as far ahead as the eye can see. Whatever remains will be more like finishing schools for neo-medieval ladies and gentlemen — and, by the way, the distinction between men and women will be reestablished. Why? Because reality insists on it. There will be plenty of work for former professors of Intersectionality in the sorghum fields.

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“..when they began being built were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems..”

Let Nuke Plants Run for 100 Years? (CP)

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a “public meeting” last week on what it titled “Development of Guidance Documents To Support License Renewal For 100 Years Of Plant Operation.” Comments from the “public” were strongly opposed to the NRC’s desire for it to let nuclear power plants run for a century. “I request you pause and consider before you go ahead on this reckless path,” testified Michel Lee, chairman of the New York-based Council on Energy & Conservation Policy. “Our position and that of our constituents is a resounding no,” declared Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at the national organization Beyond Nuclear.

“It’s time to stop this whole nuke con job,” said Erica Grey, nuclear issues chair of the Virginia Sierra Club. There is “no solution” to dealing with nuclear waste, she said. It is “unethical to continue to make the most toxic waste known to mankind.” And, “renewable energy” with solar and wind “can power the world.” Jan Boudart, a board member of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, spoke, too, of the lack of consideration of nuclear waste. Cited was the higher likelihood of accidents with plants permitted to run for 100 years. Whether the NRC—often called the Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission—listens is highly unlikely considering its record of rubberstamping whatever has been sought by other nuclear promoters in government and the nuclear industry.

Nuclear power plants when they began being built were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So operating licenses were limited to 40 years. But with the major decline of nuclear power—the U.S. is down to 94 plants from a high of 129 and only two are now under construction—the nuclear promoters in the U.S. government and nuclear industry are pushing to let nuclear power plants run for 100 years to somehow keep nuclear power going.

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Dec 042020
 


Stanley Kubrick Walking the streets of New York 1946

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Our new Supreme Court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Durham is starting to look like a black hole.

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

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


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

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

The Georgia Runoffs and Our Embattled Constitution (RCP)

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

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

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

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

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is Doug Band fully turning on the Clintons?

Confessions of a Clintonworld Exile (VF)

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

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

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

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More Doug Band.

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

Will The Empire Sacrifice the Dollar? (CHS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go to the mattresses.

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

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

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

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

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

China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy (Wired)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 222020
 
 September 22, 2020  Posted by at 9:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Ray K. Metzker Marseille 1961

 

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was on ‘Direct Orders From US President’ (Sp.)
160 Officials From Across The World Call For Assange’s Release (NBC)
A Second UK COVID19 Lockdown Is Doomed To Fail: Brits Won’t Comply (RT)
CDC Stumbles Again, Says COVID19 Guidance Posted ‘In Error’ (NBC)
China, WHO Could Have Helped Prevent Pandemic: Congressional Report (NYP)
Lancet Changes Editorial Policy After HCQ Study Retraction (G.)
Ballot Harvesting Party Will Be Over if Tulsi Gabbard Gets Her Way (NM)
Trump Says Aides Rejected His Request To Adjust Value Of Dollar (R.)
European Bank Stocks Swoon to 1988 Low (WS)
Virgin Islands AG Subpoenas Entirety Of Epstein Flight Logs (RT)
Kennedy’s US-Russia Joint Space Vision Must Be Revived (Ehret)
Activist Warns Left: Trump Might Pick First Black Female Justice (JTN)
Trump Fires Giant Pink Glitter Cannon To Reveal SCOTUS Nominee Gender (BBee)

 

 

1 million global deaths is not far off. Expect a ton of publicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cassandra is a Trump supporter – but an even stronger Assange supporter- who just proved that the trial is political. Which means Julian cannot under British law be extradited. Or at least that’s what the law says.

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was on ‘Direct Orders From US President’ (Sp.)

Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks has informed the court in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that Arthur Schwartz, who is known as Donald Trump Jr’s “fixer”, had advance warning of the US indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher. Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy was done so “on direct orders from the [US] president”, according to information provided to American journalist Cassandra Fairbanks. Ms Fairbanks’ explosive testimony would appear to support to position that Mr Assange’s prosecution has a political dimension and reflected a shift in the government’s attitude with a change in administration from that of former president Barack Obama.

According to Ms Fairbanks’ witness statement, which was read into the court by the defence in Mr Assange’s extradition hearing on 21 September 2020, she was contacted by Arthur Schwartz, “a wealthy GOP donor who does communications for [former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell] and works as an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr”. During this phone call, which Ms Fairbanks recorded, Mr Schwartz was panicking because he believed a Tweet that she published revealed “classified information”. Ms Fairbanks attempted to calm down Mr Schwartz saying that she didn’t publish classified information and that she merely shared a link to a report from ABC news which described the role that Mr Grenell played in coordinating Mr Assange’s release.

Mr Schwartz was not put at ease by Ms Fairbanks’ assurances and asked her to delete the Tweet. “I don’t want to go to prison” Mr Schwartz told Ms Fairbanks, adding that people are aware of the fact that the two have been communicating with each other and have been seen with each other. Mr Grenell was acting “on the orders from the president” Mr Schwartz can be heard saying during the recorded conversation. “So, you’re going to punish me because he took orders from the president?” he asked Ms Fairbanks who responded that she wasn’t punishing him she was merely retweeting a report by ABC. Mr Schwartz begged Ms Fairbanks to delete the Tweet which she ultimately agreed to do. Ms Fairbanks is a contributor to the Pro-Trump Gateway Pundit news outlet and she notes that she herself “endorsed [Mr Trump’s] presidency over a number of years”.

Her witness statement says that she “believed Schwartz’s statement [that Mr Grenell coordinated Mr Assange’s removal from the embassy] to be correct because his close personal ties to both President Trump and Grenell are well-known”. The statement also says that her interactions with Mr Schwartz, on the subject of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks, first began after she dropped a link to an interview with Mr Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, into “a direct message group [in October 2018] containing multiple people who either worked for President Trump or were close to him in other ways – along with several other reporters and political commentators”. Among those in the group were then US Ambassador to Germany Mr Grenell as well as Mr Schwartz.

After she put the link to the interview into the group chat, Ms Fairbanks’ statement says that she received a phone call from Mr Schwartz who was “very angry”: “[Mr Schwartz] repeatedly insisted that I stop advocating for WikiLeaks and Assange, telling me that ‘a pardon isn’t going to f**king happen.’ He knew very specific details about a future prosecution against Assange that were later made public and that only those very close to the situation then would have been aware of. He told me that it would be the ‘Manning’ case that he would be charged with and that it would not involve the Vault 7 publication or anything to do with the DNC. He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning. I also recollect being told, I believe, that it would not be before Christmas. Both of these predictions came true just months later.”

“Kidnapping a political refugee” from the Ecuadorian Embassy would be “an act of war”, Ms Fairbanks said to Mr Schwartz, to which he apparently responded “not if they let us”.

Read more …

Is the mainstream press getting involved now?

160 Officials From Across The World Call For Assange’s Release (NBC)

More than 160 current and former world leaders, lawmakers and diplomats have endorsed a call for the U.K. to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and stop his extradition to the U.S. The signatories of the open letter, addressed to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several government ministers, included the president of Argentina and two former presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. [..] The letter was first written by the group Lawyers for Assange in August, and then received the support of the international signatories whose names were released on Monday. It laid out several legal reasons why Assange shouldn’t be extradited, including the claim that he wouldn’t face a fair trial in the U.S., and that he would “be exposed to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

His extradition “would gravely endanger freedom of the press,” the letter said. “This demonstrates the growing opposition around the world to U.S. efforts to extradite and prosecute Assange, and the political nature of this case,” Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, told NBC News. Many of the letter’s signatories, which also include Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and former Ecuadoran leader Rafael Correa, are fierce critics of the U.S. and have previously spoken out against American foreign policy. Last week, Robinson told a London court that Assange was offered a presidential pardon in 2017 by then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Trump associate Charles Johnson if he helped to resolve the “ongoing speculation about Russian involvement” in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails leaked during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

At the hearing in London on Friday, James Lewis, prosecutor for the U.S. government, said: “The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said. We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.”

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What you gonna do? Arrest them all and throw them into virus-infected prisons?

A Second UK COVID19 Lockdown Is Doomed To Fail: Brits Won’t Comply (RT)

Now armed with statistics and expert advice, the British public are much better informed about Covid than in March and won’t countenance another lockdown imposed by politicians who have mishandled the pandemic at every turn. A looming second lockdown in the UK, as part of the Government’s haphazard approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, is destined to fail for one reason: the revered ‘Blitz spirit’ that we’re all in this together has vanished. Now it’s everyone for themselves. For several days now, there has been talk of another imminent imposition of harsh restrictions on our movement. While the first national lockdown was universally accepted, any follow-up – call it ‘a circuit breaker’ or whatever clever name you like – is going to be a little trickier.

Look at what’s happened in Madrid over the weekend, where a wave of protests hit the Spanish capital with people taking offence at the regional president’s efforts to reduce an infection rate in some areas of more than 1,000 per 100,000 by restricting the movements of 850,000 people. And when Isabel Dìaz Ayuso bluntly suggested it was the “way of life” of the immigrants living in those neighbourhoods that was contributing to the problems, the mob insisted she resign. What for? Trying to keep them safe? Remember, Spain had a draconian three-month lockdown that saw kids shut up indoors over summer, but they recognised they were all in it together and stuck to their guns. Now that spirit has dissolved, as people claim the government is spreading fear and hatred among already marginalised communities. Attention has turned away from battling the pandemic to fighting among themselves.

That easygoing compliance has hardened in the UK as well. We’re not so accepting of the words coming from the familiar Downing Street podium these days. Because we’ve now had months of expert home tutoring by the impressive duo of government scientists Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, whose careful, measured explanations and predictions have driven the real narrative behind the boosterism of the government’s “moonshots” and “world-beating” boasts. Last week it was Boris Johnson telling us it would all be over by Christmas. Now Health Secretary Matt Hancock says maybe not. That kind of ‘he said, she said’ nonsense is a test to anyone’s patience, but you can see where the desperate-to-be-loved PM is coming from. People want a return to normal, even if that ‘normal’ is different to what we are used to, and BoJo is keen to be the one to deliver the good news.

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And Americans won’t comply either, thanks to BS like this.

It is really only yesterday that I said: “Do they still have any credibility left? You know, after Redfield’s “Act for one Man and one Mask”?”

CDC Stumbles Again, Says COVID19 Guidance Posted ‘In Error’ (NBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday walked back information posted on its website just three days ago, which stated the coronavirus can spread through aerosolized droplets. The CDC now says that Friday’s guidance was posted “in error,” and that new information will be issued shortly. The move is yet another misstep for the nation’s leading public health agency, which recently reversed its guidance for the second time on testing asymptomatic people for the coronavirus. On Friday, an update posted to the CDC’s website stated the virus can be transmitted through tiny, aerosolized droplets that are “produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.”

That information was already well known, according to infectious disease experts. It was “not surprising or jarring,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said. “The scientific community has been raising the alarm about this since February, that airborne spread can happen,” said Joseph Allen, an associate professor in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So infectious disease experts were perplexed Monday, when the CDC scrubbed that section of the website of any mention of airborne transmission, writing that “a draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website.”

[..] “This is so destructive to this incredibly wonderful agency that we have loved and admired our entire careers,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the school of public health at Brown University, said. “This is amateur hour.” Science evolves and is guided by what doctors and researchers learn over time, but clear messaging is critical to a proper public health response to the virus. “The CDC is like a North Star in terms of guiding this pandemic,” Weatherhead said. “It’s important that there is clear and concise communication so that everybody is on the same page.” “Hopefully we will get communication from the CDC to better understand why they’re walking back on what we already know to be factual,” she added.

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An overly polite headline. It doesn’t include “criminally negligent”.

China, WHO Could Have Helped Prevent Pandemic: Congressional Report (NYP)

The coronavirus pandemic might have been prevented if not for Chinese cover-ups in the early days of the outbreak and the World Health Organization “parroting” Beijing propaganda, according to a damning audit from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The 96-page report — obtained by The Post ahead of its planned Monday release — says the Chinese Communist Party destroyed evidence and buried troubling data, while nationalizing the supply chains and limiting exports of US companies 3M and General Motors, keeping key goods in the country.

“It is beyond doubt that the CCP actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data, hide relevant public health information, and suppress doctors and journalists who attempted to warn the world,” reads the report, authored by Republican members of the Democrat-held committee. Had China been more transparent and proactive when the first signs of the burgeoning health crisis emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, the outbreak could have been largely contained — potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, the pols wrote.

“Research shows the CCP could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95 percent had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and responded to the outbreak in a manner consistent with best practices,” the report said, citing a study on Medrxiv, a Yale University-linked online clearinghouse for medical manuscripts. “It is highly likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented,” the report said. Instead, on Jan. 1, CCP officials ordered that the Wuhan wet market from which the contagion is believed to have sprung “be closed and sanitized, destroying forensic evidence that may have provided insight into the origins of the outbreak,” the report said.

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It was a classis hit job from the start. And the Lancet bought and swallowed it whole. But HCQ remains banned in many places, so it worked.

Lancet Changes Editorial Policy After HCQ Study Retraction (G.)

One of the world’s leading medical journals, the Lancet, has reformed its editorial policies following a shocking case of apparent research misconduct involving the study of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. In May, the Lancet published a peer-reviewed study about the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine, which concluded Covid-19 patients who received the drug were dying at higher rates and experiencing more heart-related complications than other virus patients. The large observational study analysed data purported to be from nearly 15,000 patients with Covid-19 who received the drug alone or in combination with antibiotics, comparing this data with 81,000 controls who did not receive the drug.

This data was recorded by hospitals around the world in a database by a US data analytics company known as “Surgisphere”, the Lancet paper said. The findings prompted the World Health Organization to halt its clinical trials of the drug, given the paper’s findings that it was linked with deaths and complications. But days after the paper was published, Guardian Australia revealed issues with the Australian data in the study. Figures on the number of Covid-19 deaths and patients in hospital cited by the authors did not match up with official government and health department data. Senior clinicians involved in Covid-19 research told Guardian Australia they had never heard of the Surgisphere database.

Researchers from other countries identified similar issues with the data from their hospitals, and a further Guardian Australia investigation revealed doubts that the database used by the study authors likely did not even existed. Sapan Desai was a co-author of the paper and founder of the Surgisphere database. Following the revelations, information about Surgisphere was deleted from the internet. It was also revealed that none of the co-authors of the paper had seen the Surgisphere data for themselves, and they said that Desai did not give them access to it even after questions about the paper were raised by Guardian Australia and the research community. The paper’s co-authors, which included a highly respected vascular surgeon, supported the retraction of the paper and distanced themselves from the data.

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Go Tulsi!

Ballot Harvesting Party Will Be Over if Tulsi Gabbard Gets Her Way (NM)

Ballot-harvesting is a voting related practice allowing paid political operatives to collect an unlimited number of ballots, subsequently delivering them into the hands of election officials. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, recently introduced legislation, The Election Fraud Prevention Act, which if passed would effectively slow down or even put a halt to the practice. The legislation could potentially be in effect in time for November’s all-important 2020 presidential election. When Rep. Gabbard made her run for the Oval Office during the Democratic presidential primaries, the public learned that she was a proud member of the Army National Guard, having served in two Mideast deployments. Currently, she is a major in the Army Reserves.


Rep. Gabbard’s proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL, would amend a 2002 act, and if passed would deny certain federal payments to states that permit ballot harvesting. This type of reform could go a long way in helping to prevent a particularly heinous kind of corruption of the electoral process. If ballot-harvesting remains in place, or worse, if its use becomes widespread nationally, special interest groups aligned with a particular candidate or political party may be able to manipulate the results of legitimate elections. As Rep. Gabbard noted, “While some states have prohibited vote harvesting, many states lack any regulations that would stop third-parties from fraudulently collecting and mishandling ballots as has occurred in recent elections.”

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‘Sir, we can’t do that. It has to float naturally.’

There are actually people who react to this by saying Trump didn’t know the dollar floats.

Trump Says Aides Rejected His Request To Adjust Value Of Dollar (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he was rebuffed when he asked officials to adjust the exchange rate of the dollar to counteract what he described as repeated currency manipulation by China of its yuan. Trump told thousands of supporters at a political rally in Dayton, Ohio, that his policies were saving jobs in the political battleground state after years of inaction to confront China’s aggressive behavior in global markets. “I go to my guys, ‘What about doing a little movement on the dollar?’” he said, but they countered that was not possible. “‘Sir, we can’t do that. It has to float naturally.’”

The Republican president, who is seeking reelection to a second term in the Nov. 3 national poll, repeated his claim – which China denies – that Beijing deliberately changes the value of its currency to gain competitive advantage in global markets. China’s central bank has denied intervening to weaken the yuan and lower the cost of its exports to the United States. The yuan has firmed for eight weeks straight against a softening dollar. Trump gave no details on his conversation about tweaking the dollar’s value, and no comment was immediately available from the U.S. Treasury Department, which is expected to release its long-delayed semi-annual currency report in coming weeks.

[..] Trump in May reversed course and backed a “strong dollar” after years of railing against the dollar’s relative strength as a factor harming U.S. competitiveness. The Treasury Department in January dropped its designation of China as a “currency manipulator”, days before U.S. and Chinese officials signed the Phase 1 trade deal, saying Beijing had agreed to refrain from competitive devaluation.

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How many arrests so far?

European Bank Stocks Swoon to 1988 Low (WS)

The Stoxx 600 Banks index, which covers major European banks, slumped 5.7% on Monday, to close at 81.1, just a smidgen above the multi-decade low, of 79, set in March. The last time before March that the index was below today’s level was in February 1988, during the sell-off that followed Black Monday in October 1987, when it also slumped as low as 79. The index has collapsed by 85% since its peak in May 2007, after having quadrupled over the preceding 12 years. Here are the wondrous European bank stocks going back to 2007:

Not even the promise of more industry consolidation, facilitated by shotgun mergers of big, struggling banks with smaller struggling banks, has stemmed the slide of Europe’s banking shares. Three weeks ago, Spain’s third largest lender, CaixaBank, announced plans to buy majority state-owned Bankia, with money largely provided by the State, to form what will be Spain’s largest domestic bank. Spain’s MSCI rose only slightly in response and is now lower than it was. Today, it wasn’t just banking stocks that had a rough day. European stocks overall were down by 3.9%, as concerns grow over a second wave of the coronavirus. But banks were particularly hard hit.


One reason for the rout was the release of a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on lenders that had facilitated $2 trillion in suspicious transactions. HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of New York Mellon, were implicated. Over almost two decades, the five banks had “enrich[ed] themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins,” the report said.

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I wouldn’t put any money on her actually getting them. Unredacted. National security, don’t you know.

Virgin Islands AG Subpoenas Entirety Of Epstein Flight Logs (RT)

The US Virgin Islands Attorney General has subpoenaed 21 years’ worth of deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs, reportedly striking fear in the hearts of high-profile passengers not yet exposed as Lolita Express riders. Passenger logs for Epstein’s four helicopters and three planes have been subpoenaed by Virgin Islands AG Denise George, who recently sued the disgraced financier’s estate for 22 counts including human trafficking, child abuse, neglect, prostitution, aggravated rape, and forced labor, according to a Sunday report by the UK Mirror. In addition to the passenger lists, George has requisitioned “complaints or reports of potentially suspicious conduct” and any “personal notes” the pilots made while flying Epstein’s alleged harem of underage girls around the world.

She also wants the names and contact information of anyone who worked for the pilots – or who “integrated with or observed” Epstein and his passengers. Epstein pilot David Rodgers previously provided a passenger log in 2009 tying dozens of politicians, actors, and other celebrities to the infamous sex offender – including former US President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey, and model Naomi Campbell. However, lawyers for Epstein’s alleged victims have argued that list did not include flights by Epstein’s chief pilot, Larry Visoski, who allegedly worked for him for over 25 years. “The records that have been subpoenaed will make the ones Rodgers provided look like a Post-It note,” a source told the Mirror over the weekend, claiming that George’s subpoena had triggered a “panic among many of the rich and famous.”

Epstein’s private plane, nicknamed the Lolita Express, counted among its passengers such luminaries as the UK’s Prince Andrew, celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, actor Chris Tucker, Harvard economist Larry Summers, Hyatt hotel mogul Tom Pritzker, and model agency manager Jean-Luc Brunel along with Campbell, Spacey, and Clinton (who the logs show flew with Epstein over two dozen times). However, the passengers who enjoyed his other aircraft have not been made public – yet. George has also subpoenaed more than 10 banks – including JPMorgan, Citibank, and Deutsche Bank – in her quest to get to the bottom of the financial edifice Epstein built up before he died. The financial institutions have been ordered to submit documents related to some 30 corporations, trusts, and nonprofit entities tied to the predatory playboy.

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How did we ever get from Kennedy to Russiagate?

Kennedy’s US-Russia Joint Space Vision Must Be Revived (Ehret)

September 20th marked the anniversary of the last speech John F Kennedy delivered to the United Nations’ General Assembly. This event bears more relevance upon our present crisis than most people could possibly imagine. This is true not only because it is wise to pay homage to great ideas of the past which lesser souls allowed to slip away and get buried under the sands of time, but also because history provides many of the solutions to seemingly impossible problems in our own time. During his short speech, Kennedy outlined the very same fundamental obstacles to survival faced by our own world 57 years later: “The spectre of nuclear annihilation looming overhead, poverty and the evils of colonialism staining humanity on earth, and the dominance of destructive modes of thinking which have prevented honest dialogue between the west and east who have so many common interests and yet have been blocked from acting upon them for want of creativity, understanding and faith.”

Although it is far too rarely displayed in history, great leaders (those who are beholden to their consciences) recognize that there are solutions to every problem. From Plato to Cicero to Confucius and Christ in ancient times or Thomas More, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, and Kennedy in our modern age, these rare but vitally important individuals demonstrate through their words and deeds that when the dominant social rules of the game prevent those necessary and possible solutions from manifesting, then only one course of action becomes possible: Change the rules of the game. The martyred Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin eloquently touched on this truth in 1992 shaking the hands with Yasser Arafat and advancing a two-state solution saying: “The future belongs to those who have the courage to change their axioms.”

Such was the case of John F. Kennedy who recognized early on in his short-lived presidency that the geopolitical “closed system” thinking dominant among the military and foreign policy experts of the west held only the seeds for humanity’s destruction. In his speech of September 20, 1963, Kennedy revisited a theme which he first unveiled on the day of his inaugural address in 1961: A joint U.S.-USSR space program to transform the rules of the Cold War and usher in a new creative age of reason, win-win cooperation and boundless discoveries. In his 1961 inaugural speech, Kennedy ushered in the theme that would animate his next three years saying:

“Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.” Ten days later, Kennedy re-iterated this idea during his first state of the Union inviting Russia “to join with U.S. in developing… a new communication satellite program in preparation for probing the distant planets of Mars and Venus, probes which may someday unlock the deepest secrets of the universe”.

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Wait a minute. That was my line.

Activist Warns Left: Trump Might Pick First Black Female Justice (JTN)

An activist group formally launched the “She Will Rise” campaign Monday to call for an African American female judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court. A supporter of the group, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who authored The New York Times’ 1619 Project, warned that President Trump might be the president who picks the first black female justice following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I think this is a case of be careful what you wish for because it’s certainly possible that Trump could appoint a black women but it’s also very possible it could be just as cynical as it was when the second black Supreme Court justice became Clearance Thomas,” she said during a discussion organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Demand Justice.


“You can certainly find a black woman who is extremely conservative; who is a strict constructionist; who is going to align with the most conservative people on the court and that again will be a hollow victory. In some ways, again, that is a very cynical choice because it puts black people in the position of having to argue against the first black woman to go on the bench because the first black woman is not someone who we feel will actually serve our communities well so yeah, that’s possible,” she also said. Trump said this past weekend that he would nominate a female to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Some African American male judges appear on Trump’s public shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominee, but there are currently no African American female judges included. A hispanic female and male judge are on his list.

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And then finally there’s the good news, courtesy of the Babylon Bee.

Trump Fires Giant Pink Glitter Cannon To Reveal SCOTUS Nominee Gender (BBee)

It was a festive occasion, as gender reveals often are, and a crowd brimming with excitement gathered outside the White House to find out from President Trump what gender the nominee for Supreme Court Justice would be. “Oh I sure hope it’s a boy!” yelled one man. “No way! It has to be a girl!” yelled a nearby woman. However, some unhappy citizens gathered in the crowd only to protest how primitive and cis-heteronormative a gender reveal party for a Supreme Court Justice is. “This is so backwards,” yelled local non-binary furry queen-king Yoox Bellavix. “The nominee hasn’t even been questioned by the Senate to determine what gender they identify with! Gender is not the same as biological sex! We need hearings now!”


Trump suddenly appeared on the White House lawn and greeted all the gathered crowd with a wide beaming smile like that of an expectant father. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen and Democrats and Fake News media! I am very happy, so very happy, I don’t even remember the last time I was this happy, to announce the gender of our nominee to fill the seat!” he said. The crowd erupted in joyous applause as the Secret Service rolled out a giant wheeled cannon similar to a civil war artillery piece and pulled the trigger to send an enormous cloud of pink glitter into the air. “Of course it’s a girl! It’s a girl!” Trump said as he made an hourglass curve gesture with his hands. “Tremendous. Thank you very much!”

At publishing time, all the assembled media figures stood completely covered in pink glitter. The White House lawn is also entirely covered. The EPA estimates it could take up to 12 years for the pristine swamp environment of the White House lawn to return to normal.

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Jul 102020
 


Berenice Abbott Vanderbilt Avenue from East 46th Street, NYC 1935

 

Biden Says His Economic Plan Would Create Five Million New US Jobs (R.)
Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump’s Tax Returns Are Still Under Audit (Axios)
California, Florida, Texas Report Highest Daily COVID19 Death Tolls (CBS)
Mississippi Hospitals Cannot Take Care of Mississippi Patients (MFP)
China Warns Of Unknown Pneumonia Deadlier Than COVID19 In Kazakhstan (SCMP)
IMF Urges ‘Equity-Like’ Government Support For Virus-Hit Firms (R.)
Lack Of COVID Insurance Threatens Hollywood Production (R.)
Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech (Turley)
Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Praises President Trump (NPR)
Bank Settlement Could Provide Roadmap To Punishing Epstein Collaborators (JTN)
House Approves Huge Military Budget, More War in Afghanistan (Greenwald)
US Judge Hearing Flynn Case Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Dismissal (R.)
New Steele Evidence Strengthens Durham Prosecution (Solomon)
Warning (Sven Henrich)

 

 

I’m going to have to come back on the Joe Biden economic plan. Steve Bannon calls Biden’s puppeteers very smart, but I’m not so sure. If all Biden can do is parrot Trump, why not vote for the original? Because the imitation comes with a bit of cancel culture seasoning? Buy America is Trump, has been for four years, Biden can’t steal it. Biden even takes a stab at China for good measure. Very original too. And as for the 5 million jobs Biden “promises”, Trump will simply say 20 million. I just don’t see it.

 

 

New world record, US falls just short of a record:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon today says that Biden’s Buy America proposal is “very smart” — “the campaign and White House have been caught flat-footed … Biden has very smart people around him, particularly on the economic side.”


Jeff Stein at WaPo: “Peter Navarro crafted a “Buy America” executive order more than 3 months ago but it has been held up over objections from Mnuchin/Kushner. Potentially huge implications for 2020″

Biden Says His Economic Plan Would Create Five Million New US Jobs (R.)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden promised on Thursday to spend $700 billion on American-made products and industrial research, which he said would give at least 5 million more people a paycheck during a job-killing pandemic. “I’ll be laser-focused on working families: the middle-class families I came from here in Scranton, not the wealthy investor class,” Biden said in a speech outlining the plan near his childhood hometown in northeastern Pennsylvania. “They don’t need me, but working families do.” The proposals come as Biden, leading President Donald Trump in national opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, tries to chip away at an incumbent seen by a larger share of voters as a better steward of the economy.

Biden is adding an even bigger price tag to the trillions in economic recovery policies he has promised as the U.S. economy reels from on-and-off coronavirus shutdowns. A record 32.9 million people collected unemployment checks in the third week of June, Labor Department data showed on Thursday. Republican Vice President Mike Pence also toured Pennsylvania on Thursday, telling a business roundtable in the Philadelphia suburb of Malvern that “even in the midst of outbreaks that we’re seeing in Sunbelt states, we are opening up America again.” The dueling visits underscored Pennsylvania’s status as a key election battleground. Trump carried the state in 2016 by a slim margin, the first Republican to do so since 1988, helping elevate him to the White House.

Biden’s announcement was the first prong of his broader economic plan titled “Build Back Better,” which includes proposals to build a clean-energy economy, support caregivers and advance racial equity. “Biden’s willful attack on our jobs, our families, and the American way of life will reverse all the gains we’ve made together and plunge us into economic catastrophe,” Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement. Both Biden and Pence were visiting areas that have grown less hospitable to their parties in the Trump era.

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Manhattan DA Cy Vance can get them, and then they can be leaked?! Note: Cy Vance is linked to the Epstein case.

Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump’s Tax Returns Are Still Under Audit (Axios)

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Thursday that President Trump’s taxes are still under audit, and that he will not release them until the audit is completed. Trump has claimed for years that his taxes are under “routine audit.” The president’s relentless fight to keep his financial records secret has brought him all the way to the Supreme Court. In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Manhattan prosecutor Cy Vance has the legal right to subpoena records from Trump’s financial institutions, while rejecting, at least for now, the House’s effort to subpoena similar records, Axios’ Sam Baker reports.

Key exchange: REPORTER: “The president, whatever the court says, can release his taxes whenever he likes. Why shouldn’t Americans believe at this point that the president isn’t trying to hide something?” MCENANY: “The media’s been asking this question for four years, and for four years, the president has said the same thing, his taxes are under audit, and when they’re no longer under audit, he will release them.”

McEnany disputed that Trump’s nominees ruled against him on Thursday, noting that the majority decision gave the president the right to challenge subpoenas “on any grounds permitted by state law.” “The justices did not rule against him, in fact it was a unanimous opinion saying that this needs to go back to the district court, and they even recognized that the president has an ample arsenal of arguments that he can make,” she said.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s two appointees to the Court, sided with liberal members on the 7-2 vote.

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Unstoppable.

California, Florida, Texas Report Highest Daily COVID19 Death Tolls (CBS)

The coronavirus crisis nationwide is not only deepening, it is growing more deadly. The country’s three biggest states — California, Florida and Texas — are reporting their largest single-day death tolls since the pandemic began. There are now 41 states that are reporting increases in average new cases compared to two weeks ago. In California, 149 deaths were reported on Wednesday, the highest single-day number since the pandemic began. “For those that just think, now people are getting it, no one’s dying, that is very misleading,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at his briefing Thursday. The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he believes the country’s hardest-hit states should consider pausing plans to reopen.


More than 3 million cases of coronavirus have been infected by the virus across the country, and nearly 133,000 people have died nationwide. In Florida, Walt Disney World reopened Thursday to guests who have season passes as the county where Disney is located has seen a 130% increase in coronavirus infections in the last 14 days. Disney is opening up the park to the general public on Saturday. Loyal annual pass holders got first dibs, but the magic won’t quite be the same. As visitors and employees enter, temperatures will be checked, and guests are required to wear masks and social distance. Dr. Terry Adirim, a physician and dean at Florida Atlantic University, was concerned to see the theme park reopen. “I think it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” Adirim told CBS News. “I don’t think it’s going to help us drive down our case rates. I think it’s going to do the opposite.”

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#MaskUpMississippi

Mississippi Hospitals Cannot Take Care of Mississippi Patients (MFP)

Mississippi hospitals are “stretched thin,” and Mississippians “will not be able to get the health care (they) need” as the novel coronavirus outbreak accelerates across the state, top health experts warned during a dire press conference this morning. Already, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of ICU beds for critical patients. “At the (University of Mississippi) Medical Center, we are full. Many days, we have more patients than we have rooms,” UMMC Vice Chancellor LouAnn Woodward said as she stood in front of a podium with a poster and the hashtag, “#MaskUpMississippi” covering the front of it.

The cast of health experts, which included physicians from across the state as well as representatives from the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Mississippi State Medical Association, warned that at the current rate of COVID-19’s spread, the state risks a New York City-level crisis. “Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients,” Dr. Dobbs told a room of reporters this morning. [..] “We are speaking for the health-care workforce of the state of Mississippi. We are begging, and we are asking for the people of Mississippi to get on board with us,” said Dr. Woodward, who noted that Mississippi “went from shelter-in-place to wide open, whether official or not official.”

[..] The virus’ spread had begun to slow in Mississippi during May, as Gov. Tate Reeves began to reopen some businesses. By the second half of June, as the governor began a broad reopening of state businesses, Mississippi averaged just 11 novel coronavirus deaths per day, down from an average of 15 per day in May. In July so far, the state has averaged 15 deaths per day. Deaths rose sharply in the past two days, though, with MSDH confirming a record 34 new deaths on Tuesday and another 30 on Wednesday. Cases have also risen at record rates, with health officials announcing 705 additional cases per day on average since July 1. In June, the state averaged about 390 cases per day.

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“Unknown Pneumonia”. A familiar term.

China Warns Of Unknown Pneumonia Deadlier Than COVID19 In Kazakhstan (SCMP)

The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan has warned of a deadly “unknown pneumonia” after the former Soviet republic reported a spike in pneumonia cases since June. “The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus,” the embassy said in a warning to Chinese citizens in the country. While the Chinese embassy described the illness as an “unknown pneumonia”, Kazakhstani officials and media have only said it is pneumonia. It was not clear why the Chinese embassy had described the illness as “unknown” or what information it had about the pneumonia.


The embassy’s website, citing local media reports, said the provinces of Atyrau and Aktobe and the city of Shymkent have reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Shymkent and the capital city of Atyrau are 1,500km (930 miles) apart, while the distance between the capital cities of Atyrau and Aktobe is 330km (205 miles). The Chinese embassy said that so far there have been nearly 500 pneumonia cases in the three places, with over 30 people in a critical condition. The country as a whole saw 1,772 pneumonia deaths in the first part of the year, 628 of which happened in June, including some Chinese nationals, the embassy continued.

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What, central banks can’t do enough?

IMF Urges ‘Equity-Like’ Government Support For Virus-Hit Firms (R.)

International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Gita Gopinath urged governments to shift to “equity-like” support from one focused on loans as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts prolonged damage on companies. Gopinath said the massive scale of the shock meant more firms will become insolvent as they suffer lower revenues for many months. Government support in the form of loans would saddle such companies with huge debt, which would serve like a tax that makes it difficult for them to emerge from the crisis, she said. “Because there’s a bigger insolvency issue here, government support would have to shift more towards being equity-like as opposed to debt-like. Otherwise, you would end up with a lot of firms that exit this crisis with a huge amount of debt over-hang,” she said.


“If the lending takes form more like equity … then that’s less onus on the firms. That will make it easier for firms to recover from the crisis,” Gopinath said in a webinar co-hosted by the IMF and the University of Tokyo on Friday. She did not elaborate on how such financing support would work. During its domestic banking crisis in the late 1990s, Japan injected capital into firms via schemes where state-affiliated bodies bought preferred shares issued by these firms. Gopinath said any recovery of the global economy will be “highly uneven and highly uncertain,” urging countries to continue deploying aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to support their economies.

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Re-runs far into the future.

Lack Of COVID Insurance Threatens Hollywood Production (R.)

Insurers have largely stopped covering independent film and television productions against the risk of COVID-19 illness, a shift that threatens the supply of new entertainment in 2021, Hollywood producers, insurers and industry experts said. Thousands of shoots around the world shut down abruptly in March as the novel coronavirus spread and governments imposed lockdowns. Now as filmmakers try to get back to work they are finding insurers have largely stopped providing the COVID-19 coverage they need to secure financing. Some insurers are even adding exclusions for COVID-19 or communicable diseases to existing policies when cast members get medical exams, insurance lawyer Kirk Pasich told Reuters.


Without coverage, many producers cannot get the completion bond, or guarantee, that banks require to lend to productions. Until crews can work safely again and insurance covers COVID-related costs, “there will be less content of the caliber that we’re used to,” independent film producer Robert Salerno told Reuters. Insurers, already reeling from other pandemic claims, say they cannot offer the coverage because it is unclear how the pandemic will play out.

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The list of 593 signatories to the letter Turley is talking about may well be the strongest condemnation of academia I’ve ever seen. You can flush them all down the loo. Useless to society. Useful only to their own careers.

Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech (Turley)

By any measure, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, who holds the Johnstone Family Chair of Psychology, is one of the most influential intellectual leaders in the world. He is also someone who believes in robust intellectual discourse and free thought and speech. That propensity for academic freedom has now made him a target of hundreds of academics and graduate students who are seeking his removal from the Linguistic Society of America. The letter is one of the most chilling examples of the new orthodoxy that has taken over our academic institutions. The signatories seek his removal for holding opposing views on issues like underlying causes of police shootings and other research. The cited grievances are at best nuanced and at worst nonsensical.

Yet, hundreds signed their names and academic affiliations to try to punish a professor for holding opposing views to their own. We have been discussing these cases across the country including a similar effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago. It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms — a campaign that will devour its own in the loss of academic freedoms and free speech. (I should note that I do not know Dr. Pinker and, to the best of my knowledge, I have never met him). The campaign against Pinker is based on a small number of tweets where he dares to challenge the views of his colleagues and others on issues related to police shootings. There was a time when it would have been viewed as a shameful betrayal of our profession to retaliate against a fellow academic in this way.

Now, hundreds (shown below) seek to have their names associated with an effort to punish a professor for his challenging a new orthodoxy in academia. As a blog focused on free speech and academic freedom issues, the merits of these disagreements is less important than the effort to silence or punish opposing views. However, the underlying postings (and Pinker’s apparent viewpoints) are relevant to understanding the growing intolerance for conflicting viewpoints. We will briefly discuss the six objections below. In so doing, I will have spent more written analysis addressing the attacks on Pinker than these academics and students spent in accusing him of the most vile predilections. My complaint is not that his views are beyond criticism. My objection is to the lack of substantial evidence or analysis, and, most importantly, the effort to remove him from a key academic group. Indeed, the letter states many of the signatories want him to be effectively barred from academic discourse.

Pinker has been vocal in his opposition to the level of police shootings in our society and has recognized their devastating impact on the African American community. He has however suggested that the level of police shootings may be the result of poor training and the excessive use of force generally by police in the United States. He is not alone in raising that issue. We have previously discussed how the United States has far greater use of lethal force that virtually any other nation. Pinker, and others, have not denied that racism plays a role or that we have systemic racist problems in society. Rather he has suggested that, if we want to reduce police shootings, we may want to consider whether they are being driven by a police culture and common training that tend to escalate the level of force used in these situations.

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What is this country coming to? All parrots all the time?

Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Praises President Trump (NPR)

Twitter users are calling for a boycott of Goya Foods, a brand most known for its Hispanic-staple food offerings, after the CEO of the company lavished praise on President Trump during a Thursday visit to the White House. Robert Unanue, chief executive of the family-owned operation since 2004, said that the country was “blessed” to have Trump at the helm, during remarks following a roundtable with Hispanic business and political leaders from across the country. “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Unanue said during the Rose Garden speech.

“We have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country — that we will continue to prosper and to grow.” Unanue also announced a plan, along with some partners, to donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and 1 million pounds of food to food banks. A statement issued late Thursday by Goya Foods did not address the negative reaction from some in the Hispanic community to Unanue’s White House appearance and praise of Trump. In the statement, Unanue reiterated his support for the president’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which Trump established by executive order at the White House roundtable.

“Our country faces a time of historic challenge but we will meet that challenge together and continue to work towards greatness, focus on a strong recovery, and hold onto the hope for a healthier future for all,” Unanue said in the statement. [..] Unanue, a third-generation Spanish American, enraged many with his remarks at the White House, including some high-profile Democrats, who also signaled that they would no longer support Goya’s products. [..] By Thursday evening, “Goya,” #BoycottGoya, and #Goyaway were trending topics on Twitter.

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We want names.

Bank Settlement Could Provide Roadmap To Punishing Epstein Collaborators (JTN)

If federal prosecutors are looking to punish more than the socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for the late Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged underage sex ring, New York regulators’ settlement this month with Epstein’s former bank may provide an intriguing roadmap. Buried in documents attached to Deutsche Bank’s $150 million penalty agreement with the New York State Department of Financial Services is a long list of suspect activities, including withdrawals of money by lawyers, payments to Russian models and other women, and financial transactions with people previously identified by federal authorities as co-conspirators in Epstein’s prior plea deal on charges of prostitution with a minor more than a decade ago. The story still being unraveled now by federal and state prosecutors is how Epstein managed to allegedly keep his sex empire going after becoming one of America’s most famous registered sex offenders.

Experts say the extensive documentation made public with the bank case, including a consent order, places a bullseye over transactions and players in Epstein’s orbit now facing new legal exposure. And it could augment a list of names contained in Epstein’s “black book” of contacts that investigators have possessed for years. “It seems as if anyone connected to Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking and abuse activity should be extremely concerned by the New York State Department of Financial Services investigation that was announced on Monday,” said J. Robert Flores, a former federal prosecutor and assistant district attorney in Manhattan who specialized in sex crimes and reviewed the settlement documents at the request of Just the News.

[..] When Epstein opened up his Deutsche Bank accounts in 2013, he was a Tier 3 registered sex offender. That alone should have served as the most important red flag to any bank official. In law enforcement and judicial circles, Tier 3 registered sex offenders translate into serial offenders, who usually repeat their crimes. “Immediately following Epstein’s arrest we contacted law enforcement and offered our full assistance with their investigation,” Deutsche Bank explained in a statement. But that was only after Deutsche Bank terminated its relationship with Epstein a few months earlier.

[..] In a statement released on Tuesday, Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, said Epstein’s accounts paid out “millions of dollars of suspicious transactions” that Deutsche Bank “inexcusably failed to detect or prevent.” The investigation findings included: • payments to individuals publicly alleged to have been Epstein’s co-conspirators connected to his 2007 non-prosecution agreement; • settlement payments to law firms totaling over $7 million, as well as dozens of payments to law firms totaling over $6 million for what appear to have been the legal expenses of Epstein and his co-conspirators; • payments to Russian models, payments for women’s school tuition, hotel and rent expenses, and payments directly to numerous women with Eastern European surnames; • periodic suspicious cash withdrawals by one of his agents, totaling more than $800,000 over approximately four years; • “The Butterfly Trust” account that paid the co-conspirators and other parties; • a Gratitude America account.

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House Democrats side WITH Liz Cheney and AGAINST their own Tulsi Gabbard. Okay! But why would anyone vote anymore?

House Approves Huge Military Budget, More War in Afghanistan (Greenwald)

While the country is subsumed by both public health and an unemployment crisis, and is separately focused on a sustained protest movement against police abuses, a massive $740.5 billion military spending package was approved last week by the Democratic-controlled House Armed Services Committee. The GOP-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee will almost certainly send the package with little to no changes to the White House for signing. As we reported last week, pro-war and militaristic Democrats on the Committee joined with GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney and the pro-war faction she leads to form majorities which approved one hawkish amendment after the next.

Among those amendments was one co-sponsored by Cheney with Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado that impeded attempts by the Trump administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and another amendment led by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Cheney which blocked the White House’s plan to remove 10,000 troop stationed in Germany. While those two amendments were designed to block the Trump administration’s efforts to bring troops home, this same bipartisan pro-war faction defeated two other amendments that would have imposed limits on the Trump administration’s aggression and militarism: one sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to require the Trump administration to provide a national security rationale before withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, and another to impose limits on the ability of the U.S. to arm and otherwise assist Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen.

Perhaps most remarkable is the amount of the military budget itself. It is three times more than the planet’s second-highest military spender, China; it is ten times more than the third-highest spender, Saudi Arabia; it is 15 times more than the military budget of the country most frequently invoked by Committee members as a threat to justify militarism: Russia; and it is more than the next 15 countries combined spend on their military. They authorized this kind of a budget in the midst of a global pandemic as tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans struggle even to pay their rent.

How does this happen? How do Democrats succeed in presenting an image of themselves based on devotion to progressive causes and the welfare of the ordinary citizen while working with Liz Cheney to ensure that vast resources are funneled to the weapons manufacturers, defense sector and lobbyists who fund their campaigns? Why would a country with no military threats from any sovereign nation to its borders spend almost a trillion dollars a year for buying weapons while its citizens linger without health care, access to quality schools, or jobs? Who are the people in Congress doing this, and why?

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A judge speaking through his lawyers. Oh, why not? Let’s go full Bizarro. It’s all about running out the clock.

US Judge Hearing Flynn Case Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Dismissal (R.)

The judge hearing the criminal prosecution against U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday asked an appeals court to reconsider a recent decision dismissing the case. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan asked the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the June 24 decision that directed him to drop the Flynn case. The Justice Department sought to dismiss the case against Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, following pressure from Trump and his allies, leading to criticism that Attorney General William Barr was using his office to help the president’s friends. Sullivan refused to immediately sign off on the dismissal, instead appointing a retired judge to argue in favor of denying the Justice Department’s request.


Sullivan has said he cannot serve as a “rubber stamp” and must carefully review the dismissal request. In a 2-1 decision issued last month, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit directed Sullivan to grant the department’s motion to clear Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty. “This is plainly not the rare case where further judicial inquiry is warranted,” Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote for the court, adding that Sullivan had intruded on “the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power.” Sullivan’s attorneys told the appeals court the panel decision marked a “dramatic break from precedent” that “threatens to turn ordinary judicial process upside down.”

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Oh wait, there’s Victoria Nuland. Wherever she appears there’s fishy things going on.

New Steele Evidence Strengthens Durham Prosecution (Solomon)

It was in London that the whole Russia collusion caper began four years ago, so it seems only fitting that as the discredited probe enters its final phase that damning new evidence of the FBI’s failures would emerge back in England. This week when a British judge ruled against the former FBI human source Christopher Steele, the decision delivered more than an order for the former spy’s company to pay damages to two Russian businessmen maligned by his dossier. It also introduced new incontrovertible evidence that bolsters Attorney General William Barr’s and U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into whether the FBI engaged in misconduct and criminally deceived the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to win permission to spy on the Trump campaign.

Buried in Justice Mark Warby’s ruling were several new pieces of evidence that answer long lingering questions about just what the FBI knew, and when it knew it. For instance, Congressional Republicans have long questioned when exactly the FBI knew that Steele’s dossier was a product ordered up for the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party. After all, the bureau never revealed the connection to the FISA court despite its central relevance to the motives of the dossier. Warby’s lengthy ruling unearthed a gem of new evidence to answer the question: Steele kept his own notes of what he told FBI agents the first time he met them on July 5, 2016 in London to discuss his anti-Trump Russia research.

And, Warby revealed, the notes make clear that Steele told his FBI handlers from the get-go that the dossier’s “ultimate client were (sic) the leadership of the Clinton presidential campaign.” So the FBI knew immediately that the dossier it used to justify a FISA warrant targeting the Trump campaign was a political opposition research product designed to help Clinton defeat her Republican opponent and did not divulge the connection. [..] The ruling discloses that officials at the State Department where Hillary Clinton had served as secretary of state were uniquely involved in Steele’s efforts to bring the dossier to attention, including Mrs. Clinton’s former Russia expert Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, Clinton’s successor as secretary of state John Kerry and Joe Biden’s former national security adviser Tony Blinken.

Steele “elaborated, by explaining that his understanding in July 2016 was that the FBI officer he met had cleared his lines with the Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland,” the judge disclosed. And after Trump won the election, the judge added, Steele disclosed he gave copies of his dossier to longtime Clinton friend Strobe Talbot in hopes it would get to the top of the State Department. Talbott “said that he was due to meet a group of individuals at the State Department, and asked Mr Steele to share a copy of the Dossier with him, with a view to him being able to discuss the national security issues raised with these individuals,” the court revealed. “Mr Steele agreed. He did so on the understanding that Mr Talbott had been speaking to the US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ms Nuland, who knew of the Dossier and its broad content; and that the individuals whom Mr Talbott was due to meet included the then US Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken,” the court added.

[..] Steele admitted to the FBI his ultimate client was Clinton. He admitted he was leaking to the news media. He admitted he didn’t do much to verify his raw allegations. And he admitted he was working political figures in the Clinton sphere to get his allegations into circulation. Such actions have already been deemed to be negligent by prior watchdog reviews. But now Durham has fresh evidence that goes to the issue of intent. The FBI had prior knowledge about these problems and didn’t come clean to the court as required by law and duty. If Durham is building a case that FBI officials conspired to defraud the FISA court and Congress, his team just got some new exhibits from across the Atlantic Ocean.

Read more …

Stop calling them markets.

Warning (Sven Henrich)

Raising red flags during a bubble is a thankless job. The crowd gleefully cheers the momentum and as tops are processes anyone voicing contrarian reservations looks to be wrong while the bubble proceeds. I’m a big boy I can handle it. I was faced with the same issue late last year into Q1 this year as they kept chasing stocks into the high heavens before the 35% crash. Oh but it was Covid, nobody could’ve seen this coming. Nonsense. Covid was the trigger but the technical and excess were long building and now we’re in such phase again, except this one may be worse. I know, we live in the age where trillions are tossed around candy by centra banks and governments and everybody’s eyes just glaze over as the numbers defy context and comprehension. But let me throw a bit of reality into the mix and it’s absolutely mind boggling. 5 stocks have just added over half a trillion in market cap in just 6 days. Six days. Ponder that:

And they’re even higher on the open today. I ran the numbers:

5 stocks now have a combined market cap over $6.5 trillion. These very same stocks have added over $1.6 trillion in market cap in 2020:

That would be a feat during any bull market during times of great growth, but in a historical recession? So some of these stocks grabbed some market share during the shutdown, but don’t tell me $AAPL sold more phones during this. It gets worse. Since 2019 these stocks have added over $3.2 trillion in market cap:

Now, if you can convince yourself to believe that these stocks have earnings growth stories to support market cap expansions anywhere near these figures I suppose you can convince yourself to believe anything. During bubbles people will convince themselves of anything. And this is nothing new. After all people convinced themselves that tech’s valuations versus the rest of the economy were justified before.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 042020
 


Kennedy and Johnson Morning of Nov 22 1963

 

Trump Signs Order To Create ‘National Garden’ Of Statues (Hill)
CNN Refers to Washington and Jefferson as Just ‘Two Slave Owners’ (GP)
Mexico Closes US Border In Arizona To Stop July 4th Visitors (ST)
Widespread Use Of Face Masks Could Save Tens Of Thousands Of Lives (NPR)
Mutiny on the Bounties (Ray McGovern)
Canada Suspends Its Extradition Treaty With Hong Kong (R.)
Epstein’s Ponzi Scheme Partner: Ghislaine Will ‘Crack In Two Seconds’ (DC)
Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Sat On Buckingham Palace Throne’ (Ind.)
Fitch Downgrades Record Number Of Sovereign Ratings Due To Coronavirus (CNBC)
The Stakes Of Losing This DICE Game Are Enormous (M.)

 

 

What drags me down a little more each day is the amount of venom that’s being spread around seemingly indiscriminately. I don’t see a single voice calling for dialogue.

I don’t think that our main task today should be to make the past APPEAR less terrible, but to make our own times BE less terrible.

One way to do that must certainly be to slow down or halt the war machine, but while everyone’s heating up about statues, the House passes a resolution that blocks US soldiers from coming home.

And Julian Assange is still pining away.

Time to focus on what really matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add your own preferences.

Trump Signs Order To Create ‘National Garden’ Of Statues (Hill)

The White House unveiled an executive order Friday evening to create a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will feature statues of prominent Americans. The executive order, which President Trump announced during a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore, comes as the nation grapples with calls to tear down Confederate statues across the country and address other racist iconography. “These statues are silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal. They preserve the memory of our American story and stir in us a spirit of responsibility for the chapters yet unwritten. These works of art call forth gratitude for the accomplishments and sacrifices of our exceptional fellow citizens who, despite their flaws, placed their virtues, their talents, and their lives in the service of our Nation,” reads the executive order, which was disseminated by the White House.

The executive order establishes the Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes, which will be empowered to use funding from the Interior Department to establish the site. The task force has 60 days to submit a report to the White House detailing options for the creation of the National Garden, including potential locations. The executive order says the garden will include statues of John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson and Harriet Tubman, among others.

The garden will also “separately maintain a collection of statues for temporary display at appropriate sites around the United States that are accessible to the general public.” Under the order, the garden will be open prior to July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence. The executive order also address current calls to topple Confederate statues, underscoring that other activists have called for the dismantling of monuments to figures who owned slaves but were not in the Confederacy, including former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

“To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance. In recent weeks, in the midst of protests across America, many monuments have been vandalized or destroyed. Some local governments have responded by taking their monuments down,” the order reads. “These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn.”

Read more …

Flavor of the day politics.

CNN Refers to Washington and Jefferson as Just ‘Two Slave Owners’ (GP)

The resentment for America at CNN was on full display during Independence Day weekend, particularly as a CNN pundit referred to the Founding Fathers as just a couple of slave owners. During the network’s coverage of President Donald Trump’s speech at Mt. Rushmore, Leyla Santiago said that “President Trump will be at Mount Rushmore, where he’ll be standing in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land wrestled away from Native Americans.” The remarkably anti-American commentary lit social media ablaze, with patriots absolutely shredding the network for their hostility towards our nation.

“CNN has reduced the Founding Fathers of America, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to just ‘two slave owners,’” JT Lewis, whose brother was killed during the school shooting in Sandy Hook, tweeted. “CNN hates America.” The segment was wildly different than how they covered Bernie Sanders appearing at Mt. Rushmore in 2016.

Read more …

Funniest comment of the day was to this:

“It happened! Mexico is paying for the wall!”

Mexico Closes US Border In Arizona To Stop July 4th Visitors (ST)

As coronavirus cases surge across the U.S., one Mexican state is closing itself off from its northern neighbor out of concern for safety, outlets report. Officials in Sonora, Mexico moved quickly to slam the border shut before the start of the July Fourth weekend, traditionally a peak tourism time as Americans flock south to celebrate, the Arizona Daily Star reported. Officials have not announced a reopening date. Sonora is in a difficult position. It’s struggling to control the pandemic within its own borders, and just above is Arizona, one of the most afflicted states in the U.S..


“We are all going to be on alert at this time to prevent them from coming, whether they are Mexicans living in the U.S., Americans or those who want to come to spend the weekend and put a greater burden on us regarding COVID,” Senora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich said in a statement, according to the Daily Star. Arizona has seen more than 90,000 infections and nearly 1,800 deaths as of Friday, state data shows. It hit a one-day record on Wednesday with 4,878 new COVID-19 cases.

Read more …

There’s Fauci again.

Widespread Use Of Face Masks Could Save Tens Of Thousands Of Lives (NPR)

More widespread wearing of face masks could prevent tens of thousands of deaths by COVID-19, epidemiologists and mathematicians project. A model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that near-universal wearing of cloth or homemade masks could prevent between 17,742 and 28,030 deaths across the US before Oct. 1. The group, which advises the White House as well as state and local governments, is submitting the model for peer review, says Theo Vos, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at IHME. Another projection developed by researchers at Arizona State University in April showed that 24–65% of projected deaths could be prevented in Washington state in April and May if 80% of people wore cloth or homemade masks in public.

These projections shed light on the promises face masks might hold as COVID-19 cases surge in some states and more local authorities mandate the wearing of face masks. Texas is now mandating face masks in public in most of the state; Jacksonville Fl, host city of the Republican National Convention in August, mandated wearing face masks in public and indoor locations where people cannot otherwise social distance on June 29. Republican leaders including Vice President Mike Pence, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida, have joined public health officials urging the public to wear facemasks.


Dr. Anthony Fauci and members of Congress appealed to the public to wear face masks in a congressional hearing Tuesday. And President Trump, in a change of tone, told Fox Business on Wednesday he’s ‘all for masks.’ But public health professionals lament that trust in face masks is hampered by the government’s earlier recommendation against them. Fauci told TheStreet mid-June that he did not recommend face masks at the beginning of the outbreak to conserve supplies for healthcare workers. On Thursday Fauci told NPR that the administration’s initial ambivalence towards face masks was ‘detrimental in getting the message across.’

Read more …

Good to see the condemnation of the Dems/Cheney deal is broad.

Mutiny on the Bounties (Ray McGovern)

Corporate media are binging on leaked Kool Aid not unlike the WMD concoction they offered 18 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-UK war of aggression on Iraq. Now Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia under President Obama, has been enlisted by The Washington Post’s editorial page honcho, Fred Hiatt, to draw on his expertise (read, incurable Russophobia) to help stick President Donald Trump back into “Putin’s pocket.” (This has become increasingly urgent as the canard of “Russiagate” — including the linchpin claim that Russia hacked the DNC — lies gasping for air.) In an oped on Thursday McFaul presented a long list of Vladimir Putin’s alleged crimes, offering a more ostensibly sophisticated version of amateur Russian specialist, Rep. Jason Crow’s (D-CO) claim that: “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”

McFaul had — well, let’s call it an undistinguished career in Moscow. He arrived with a huge chip on his shoulder and proceeded to alienate just about all his hosts, save for the rabidly anti-Putin folks he openly and proudly cultivated. In a sense, McFaul became the epitome of what Henry Wooton described as the role of ambassador — “an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” What should not be so readily accepted is an ambassador who comes back home and just can’t stop misleading. Not to doubt McFaul’s ulterior motives; one must assume him to be an “honest man” — however misguided, in my opinion. He seems to be a disciple of the James Clapper-Curtis LeMay-Joe McCarthy School of Russian Analysis.


Clapper, a graduate summa cum laude, certainly had the Russians pegged! Clapper was allowed to stay as Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence for three and a half years after perjuring himself in formal Senate testimony (on NSA’s illegal eavesdropping). On May 28, 2017 Clapper told NBC’s Chuck Todd about “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.” As a finale, in full knowledge of Clapper’s proclivities regarding Russia, Obama appointed him to prepare the evidence-impoverished, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” claiming that Putin did all he could, including hacking the DNC, to help Trump get elected — the most embarrassing such “intelligence assessment” I have seen in half a century .

Read more …

If you don’t extradite to China, you can’t extradite to Hong Konng anymore.

Canada Suspends Its Extradition Treaty With Hong Kong (R.)

Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of new Chinese national security legislation and could boost immigration from the former British colony, top officials said on Friday. China imposed the legislation this week despite protests from Hong Kongers and Western nations, setting what is a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would continue to stand up for Hong Kong, which is home to 300,000 Canadians. Canada will not permit the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, he told reporters.


“We are also suspending the Canada-Hong Kong extradition treaty … we are also looking at additional measures, including around immigration,” he said. He did not give details. Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne condemned the “secretive” way the legislation had been enacted and said Canada had been forced to reassess existing arrangements. “This is a significant step back in terms of freedom and liberty … we had been hoping Beijing would listen to the international community and reverse course,” he said by phone.

Read more …

This guy served 18 years. Epstein walked away free.

Epstein’s Ponzi Scheme Partner: Ghislaine Will ‘Crack In Two Seconds’ (DC)

Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s cohort Ghislaine Maxwell will fully cooperate with authorities, according to Epstein’s Ponzi scheme partner Steven Hoffenberg. A grand jury indicted the British socialite and heiress on charges of conspiracy to entice minors to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors for illegal sex acts, transportation of a minor to engage in illegal sex acts, and perjury. She was arrested at 8:30 am Thursday morning in Bradford, New Hampshire. Seventy-five-year-old Hoffenberg, who served 18 years in prison for masterminding one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history with Epstein, told The Sun that Maxwell will “totally cooperate” with authorities.

Epstein avoided jail time for his role in the Ponzi scheme, according to Hoffenberg, but later died of apparent suicide in a New York City jail in August 2019 after being convicted of sex crimes. “They knew where she was all the time [in New Hampshire],” Hoffenberg told the publication. “It was a question if America was going to take the case or not, now America has made up its mind to take the case.” Hoffenberg reportedly maintains contact with Maxwell’s spokesperson, and told the Sun that Maxwell did not think she would be arrested. “If they keep her in prison, she’ll crack in two seconds,” he said. “She’s not able to take that sort of cruel punishment, prison is too tough and hard, she’ll have to be in solitary confinement, and she’ll snap.”


“She’s going to cooperate and be very important,” he added, before noting that her words might implicate high profile people including the UK’s Prince Andrew. “Andrew may be very concerned, and there’s a lot of people very worried, a lot of powerful people been named [in the scandal], and she knows everything.”

Read more …

Nice group of people. Spacey, Clinton, Maxwell, Prince Andrew. Just lovely.

Meanwhile Dershowitz wrote a Mea Not-at-All Culpa, but I don’t want to touch that. Check at your own risk.

Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Sat On Buckingham Palace Throne’ (Ind.)

Ghislaine Maxwell sat on the Queen’s throne during a private tour of Buckingham Palace organised by the Duke of York, it has been reported. A photograph printed by the Daily Telegraph appears to show the British socialite reclining in the ceremonial chair next to actor Keven Spacey in 2002. They were on a private tour of the palace organised by the Duke of York for former US president Bill Clinton, according to the newspaper. It comes after Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on Thursday over allegations she helped disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, her former boyfriend, “identify, befriend and groom” girls, including one as young as 14. Epstein was not on the palace tour when the picture was taken, the Telegraph said.


[..] Prince Andrew is now being urged to provide information to the FBI in relation to the investigation into Ms Maxwell, after she appeared in court accused of facilitating Epstein’s sexual exploitation of underage girls between 1994 and 1997. However, a lawyer for dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims has accused him of “deliberately evading authorities” and a US prosecutor described him as “falsely portraying himself as willing and eager to cooperate”. On Thursday, Maxwell was ordered to remain in custody by a magistrate while she is transferred to New York for a detention hearing. [..] Authorities also claim that Maxwell, who is also charged with two counts of perjury, lied when being questioned under oath in 2016. She has previously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of sexual misconduct by Epstein.

Read more …

And the downgrades hit the ratings even more.

Fitch Downgrades Record Number Of Sovereign Ratings Due To Coronavirus (CNBC)

Fitch Ratings has downgraded a record 33 sovereign ratings in the first half of this year — and the agency is not done yet as the coronavirus pandemic pummels government finances. James McCormack, Fitch’s global head of sovereign ratings, said the agency has placed the credit ratings of 40 countries or sovereign entities on a “negative” outlook. That means those ratings have the potential to be downgraded. “We’ve never in the history of Fitch Ratings had 40 countries on negative outlook at the same time,” he told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Friday. “That comes after we’ve already downgraded in the first half of the year 33 sovereigns. We’ve never downgraded 33 in any given year, so we’ve already done it in half a year,” he added.


Sovereign credit ratings that Fitch has downgraded include the U.K., Australia and Hong Kong. McCormack explained many governments have increased spending to shelter their economies from being severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s expected to cause a deterioration in the financial positions of all 119 countries rated by Fitch, he said. Such deterioration could take the form of larger deficits or smaller surpluses in the government budgets, or an increase in debt, he added. The IMF has said that lockdown measures imposed in many countries to curb the spread of the coronavirus have hurt the global economy more than expected. The fund warned that global public debt could reach an all-time high of over 100% of the world’s GDP.

Read more …

GDP and CO2.

The Stakes Of Losing This DICE Game Are Enormous (M.)

The critique of Nordhaus’s DICE model came from the enormously creative, though admittedly heterodox, post-Keynesian Australian economist Professor Steve Keen. I have listened to some of Keen’s YouTube lectures about debt levels — he was one of a few maverick economists that correctly predicted the 2008–2009 mortgage crisis — but did not know that he had done any work on climate change economics.** To be honest, I had never looked carefully at the DICE model before for one very good reason: it is clearly ridiculous. According to DICE, the global economy will suffer an aggregate drop in GDP (i.e., all-in over the next 130 years, not annually in perpetuity) of a few percentage points even assuming a temperature increase high enough to cause agricultural output to plummet.

While Ivy League economists may not have a visceral sense of this, it is clear to your correspondent that large swathes of the workforce might be marginally less productive if they were only able to consume 500 food calories a day. Keen is a better man than I in that, like me, he could see that the output of the DICE model was ridiculous, but still took the time and effort to crawl through the details to figure out why. According to Keen, DICE’s egregious errors are threefold: • The assumption that the small effects on GDP from the modest changes in global temperature to date can be extrapolated into a future of much more extreme temperature increases, • The assumption that a complex adaptive (i.e., non-linear) system like our planet’s ecosystem would respond to extreme stimuli in a linear way, • A dubious mischaracterization of climate scientists’ assessment of ecological “tipping points” that leads to an assumption these potentially catastrophic points will never be reached.


No admirer of the statistician Box would expect the DICE model to be anything but wrong, but — considering that the UN’s IPCC is relying upon DICE to inform the opinion of policy makers — we should at least expect it to be useful. Reading Keen’s critique, however, I have realized that DICE acts as a literal weapon of mass destruction since it has the effect of breeding climate complacency among world leaders. If what I say is true, why is DICE not roundly criticized and ignored? I believe it has been adopted and its creator lauded because it represents the kind of palatable fiction that human decision makers find so comforting. Unfortunately, in investing as in life, the bug of palatable fiction sooner or later finds a windshield of harsh reality. Or, as a more eloquent Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “Everybody, soon or late, sits down at a banquet of consequences.”

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 032020
 


Theodor Horydczak Washington Monument 1933 (soon to be renamed)

 

US Economic Reboot Menaced By Bug In The System (R.)
Florida Shatters Records With Over 10,000 New COVID19 Cases In Single Day (R.)
China Didn’t Alert WHO To Coronavirus Outbreak — The Internet Did (DC)
House Dems, Liz Cheney Restrict Trump’s Planned Troops Withdrawal (Greenwald)
Gilead Is Profiteering Off A COVID Drug We Already Paid For (Sirota)
Ghislaine Maxwell, Longtime Jeffrey Epstein Associate, Arrested (NYP)
Virginia Giuffre, Alan Dershowitz Both Lose In New Court Ruling (NYPost)
The Strategies of Dementia Politics (NR)
FedEx Asks Washington Redskins To Change The Team’s Name (NBC)

 

 

It’s Julian Assange’s birthday today. Light a candle.

 

 

Again, both the world and the US set new highs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fauci shot his credibility:

 

 

Is a virus a bug?

US Economic Reboot Menaced By Bug In The System (R.)

Like a computer suffering from a pesky virus, the U.S. economy has been shut off and turned back on. This reboot seems to be working. The economy added almost 5 million jobs in June, on top of the roughly 3 million added in May, bringing the unemployment rate down over two percentage points to 11.1%. But as frustrated tech users know, short-term fixes are usually just that. Beyond the decent headline numbers, the labor force participation rate also increased to 61.5%, and around two-fifths of the job gains were in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually revised the net jobs added over the previous two months upwards to 90,000.

But the root source of the economic woes – Covid-19 infections and deaths – is also moving northward. The U.S. reported almost 50,000 new cases on Wednesday, the fifth daily record in a little over a week, according to the New York Times. Texas hit a whopping 8,000 new daily cases. What these relatively decent jobs numbers may actually show is an economy that reopened too quickly. In fact, recent JPMorgan data from around 30 million of its credit- and debit-card holders shows that increased spending in restaurants appeared to be correlated with a rise in new infections three weeks later.

So the fragile recovery could easily crash – or at the very least, freeze. The virus spikes are prompting states and cities to stall or reverse reopenings. Texas has closed bars and limited restaurant occupancy. California shut down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties. And even New York City, which has dramatically reduced infections, decided on Wednesday to delay bringing back indoor dining at restaurants, which had been slated to restart next week.

Ultimately, it’ll be impossible to assess the depth of the lasting economic damage until reopening is mostly complete. In the topsy-turvy world of 2020, jobs numbers are not the best way to predict how the economy will perform. Until the bug is removed from the system, or brought under control, medical statistics will provide perhaps the most important information. With almost 2.7 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 128,000 deaths, and rising, these numbers aren’t looking good.

Read more …

Time for a holiday…

Florida Shatters Records With Over 10,000 New COVID19 Cases In Single Day (R.)

Florida shattered records on Thursday when it reported over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally. Outbreaks in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona have helped the United States break records and send cases rising at rates not seen since April. In June, Florida infections rose by 168% or over 95,000 new cases. The percent of tests coming back positive has skyrocketed to 15% from 4% at the end of May. Florida, with 21 million residents, has reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks.


To contain the outbreak, Florida has closed bars and some beaches but the governor has resisted requiring masks statewide in public or reimposing a lockdown. Only one other state has reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single day. New York recorded 12,847 new infections on April 10, three weeks after the state implemented a strict lockdown that closed most businesses. While the state has relaxed many measures, it requires masks in public and mandates anyone arriving from 16 other U.S. states with high infections self-quarantine for two weeks. Once the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic, New York saw cases rise by about 6% in June – the lowest rate in the entire country.

Read more …

Let’s see how this plays out.

China Didn’t Alert WHO To Coronavirus Outbreak — The Internet Did (DC)

China didn’t alert the World Health Organization (WHO) to the coronavirus outbreak, a new timeline released by the WHO shows. China’s propaganda machine has claimed that China quickly reported the viral outbreak to the WHO, a claim that the WHO’s initial timeline supported. But the WHO found out about the outbreak from the internet, not from Chinese officials contacting them, according to the new timeline. The updated timeline, which was released June 29, says the WHO “picked up a media statement by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission from their website” and also picked up a report on an American website, though it doesn’t say in what order those two events occurred.

The WHO doesn’t link to the Wuhan health commission’s media statement that it says tipped the organization off to the outbreak. Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed skepticism that the statement even exists. “Even if the Commission posted something on their website – which we have seen no proof they have – the CCP still did not report the outbreak to the WHO as required by the International Health Regulations,” McCaul said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “As the updated WHO timeline clearly states, WHO staff ‘picked up a media statement…from their website’ – it was not sent to them by any officials in China,” the Texas Republican continued.

“I have repeatedly requested information from the WHO about what they knew and when they knew it, and I would welcome any clarity from them on this. But, so far, they have refused to answer any of those requests,” McCaul added. Dr. Michael Ryan, a top WHO official, previously said in an April 20 news conference that the American website, ProMED, gave the WHO its first indication of the coronavirus outbreak. “On 31st December information on our epidemic intelligence from open-source platform partners, PRO-MED, was received indicating a signal of a cluster of pneumonia cases in China. That was from open sources from Wuhan,” Ryan said.

Read more …

As I was saying yesterday. How did we ever come to see such acts as normal? I have no doubt that a vast a majority of Americans want to bring the troops home.

House Dems, Liz Cheney Restrict Trump’s Planned Troops Withdrawal (Greenwald)

Last night, the House Armed Services Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment — jointly sponsored by Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado and Congresswoman Cheney of Wyoming — prohibiting the expenditure of monies to reduce the number of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan below 8,000 without a series of conditions first being met. The imposed conditions are by no means trivial: for these troop reductions from Afghanistan to be allowed, the Defense Department must be able to certify, among other things, that leaving Afghanistan “will not increase the risk for the expansion of existing or formation of new terrorist safe havens inside Afghanistan” and “will not compromise or otherwise negatively affect the ongoing United States counter terrorism mission against the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and associated forces.”

The Crow/Cheney amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last night passed by a vote of 45-11. The NDAA was then unanimously approved by the Committee by a vote of 56-0. It authorizes $740.5 billion in military spending — roughly three times more than the world’s second-highest spender, China. President Trump throughout the year has insisted that the Pentagon present plans for withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan prior to the end of 2020. Last week, reports indicated that “the Trump administration is close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan by the fall.” Trump’s plan “would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500 and would be the lowest number since the very earliest days of the war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001.”

In February, Trump announced an agreement with the Taliban to end the war completely. Shortly after those White House withdrawal plans were reported, anonymous intelligence officials leaked a series of claims to the New York Times regarding “bounties” allegedly being paid by Russia to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops. Those leaks emboldened opposition to troop withdrawal from Afghanistan on the ground that it would be capitulating to Russian treachery. It was that New York Times leak that Liz Cheney, along with GOP Congressman Mac Thornberry, cited in a joint statement on Monday to suggest troop withdrawal would be precipitous:

“After today’s briefing with senior White House officials, we remain concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have targeted U.S. forces. It has been clear for some time that Russia does not wish us well in Afghanistan. We believe it is important to vigorously pursue any information related to Russia or any other country targeting our forces. Congress has no more important obligation than providing for the security of our nation and ensuring our forces have the resources they need. We anticipate further briefings on this issue in the coming days.”

[..] The NDAA that was approved last night by the Committee also imposed restrictions on Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Germany. Trump’s plan called for the removal of roughly 9,500 troops from German soil, reducing the number of U.S. troops in this extremely prosperous and rich European nation from 34,500 to 25,000. But by an overwhelming vote of 49-7, the Armed Service Committee approved an amendment to the NDAA that “bans the administration from lowering troop levels below current levels until 180 days after Pentagon leaders present a plan to Congress and certify it will not harm U.S. or allied interests.”

Read more …

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Gilead Is Profiteering Off A COVID Drug We Already Paid For (Sirota)

This is a story of cause and effect — a tale of repeated and calculated public policy decisions that have now led to a predictable outcome. This story begins 25 years ago, when the Clinton administration rescinded a rule that required pharmaceutical companies to charge Americans reasonable prices for medicines developed at government expense. Some progressive lawmakers tried to reinstate the rule, but Republicans and Democrats joined together to halt those initiatives. In the ensuing years, the Obama administration refused Democratic lawmakers’ demand to invoke existing federal laws to force down the price of critical medicines.


Meanwhile, the GOP also blocked legislation to let Medicare use its purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs All of that reflected the lobbying, campaign contributions and indomitable bipartisan power of the pharmaceutical industry in Washington. And it led to a result that this newsletter has been warning about, as Gilead just announced that it will charge privately insured Americans more than $3,000 each for a 5-day COVID treatment that was developed with financial support from the government. That’s a $3,000 price tag for a government-sponsored drug treatment that experts say the company could offer at $10 and still make a profit.

Read more …

Wonder what happened to make it happen at this particular time. She seemed safe holed up in Paris.

Bookmakers are now taking your bets on her suicide.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Longtime Jeffrey Epstein Associate, Arrested (NYP)

Longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday on a six-count indictment charging her with grooming young girls for sex. The British socialite, 58, was arrested by the FBI in New Hampshire around 8:30 a.m., authorities said. The just-unsealed indictment charges stem from Maxwell’s role “in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein” as early as 1994, court papers say. “The victims were as young as 14 years old when they were groomed and abused by Maxwell and Epstein, both of whom knew that certain victims were in fact under the age of 18,” the indictment says.


She is specifically accused of grooming three underage victims for sex with Epstein in places including his Upper East Side townhouse, Florida, New Mexico and London. Maxwell is charged with six counts — conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury. Prosecutors also accuse Maxwell — a one-time girlfriend of Epstein’s — of repeatedly lying about her involvement in the financier’s sex trafficking ring during a 2016 deposition.

Read more …

From Wednesday, before Ghislaine was arrested. I’m thinking there is probably a connection, but I don’t know which.

There’s a curious line in here:

“The 13-page ruling said Cooper & Kirk “has not, from what the Court can tell, been actively working on the case.”

She has to destroy all the evidence because her lawyers were not working? What?

Virginia Giuffre, Alan Dershowitz Both Lose In New Court Ruling (NYPost)

Attorneys for alleged Jeffrey Epstein “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre were ordered Wednesday to destroy evidence from her case against Ghislaine Maxwell — as lawyer Alan Dershowitz was also denied access to the potentially explosive information. Manhattan federal Judge Loretta Preska said she was “troubled” to learn during oral arguments last week that Giuffre’s lawyers, from the firm of Cooper & Kirk, had been given sealed records from her since-settled suit against Maxwell, who Giuffre claims recruited her to have sex with Epstein and his pals while she was underage.

The other men allegedly include Dershowitz, whom Giuffre is suing for defamation over his public denials of her accusations, including calling her a “certified, complete, total liar,” and who is counter-suing Giuffre for causing “serious harm … to his reputation, his business and his health.” “As a practical matter, the Court would be surprised — shocked, even — if Cooper & Kirk was not in some sense ‘using’ the Maxwell discovery in its representation of Ms. Giuffre in her action against Mr. Dershowitz,” the judge wrote.

Preska also rejected claims by Giuffre’s lawyers that they were entitled to the evidence, obtained from her former attorneys at Boies Schiller Flexner, because they’d been hired to represent her in the Maxwell case. The 13-page ruling said Cooper & Kirk “has not, from what the Court can tell, been actively working on the case.” Preska directed the Cooper & Kirk lawyers to destroy the evidence, along with “any material, including work product, derived from” it, and to submit an affidavit afterward.

Read more …

I know I’m not supposed to quote right wing media, but this is just too funny. And it raises a valid point: they can’t keep Biden hidden from view forever, and now when he does come out, he’ll be nervous.

The Strategies of Dementia Politics (NR)

Stoke chaos, obstruct economic recovery, and hide Biden in the basement till Election Day.

Joe Biden is tragically suffering a mental eclipse and sliding away at a geometric rate. Understandably, his handlers have kept him out of sight. He stays off the campaign trail on the pretext of the virus and his age-related susceptibility to COVID-19 morbidity. I say “pretext” without apology. Quarantine should not have otherwise stopped Biden over the past three months from doing daily interviews, speeches, and meetings. But each occasion, however scripted, rehearsed, and canned, would only have offered further daily proof that Biden is cognitively unable to be president or indeed to hold any office. Often Biden cannot finish a sentence. Names are vague eddies in his mind’s river of forgetfulness.

He is in a far more dire mental state than a physically failing FDR was in his 1944 campaign for a fourth term. The earlier career of a healthy Biden illustrates that he was not especially sharp even when in control of most of his faculties. We recall the former sane/nutty Biden of Neal Kinnock plagiarism, his “put y’all in chains” demagoguery, the studied racism of Biden’s riffs about a “clean” and well-spoken Obama, and the sane/insane Corn Pop stories. All are the trademark of a once fool Joe Biden, who was at least alert when compared with his current catalepsy. If Donald Trump can be ungrammatical, Biden is agrammatical — he simply streams together half-thoughts without syntax and then abandons the sentence entirely.

If Trump repeats vocabulary, Biden increasingly searches for words, any noun, whatever its irrelevance to the point he is making. Biden seems to suffer dyscognitive seizures, in which for moments he has no idea what he is doing or saying or where he is — a tragic, nearly epileptic condition. In scary episodes, the pale, scaly, and frozen visage of Biden appears almost reptilian, like a lizard freezing and remaining stationary as it struggles to process signals of perceived danger. Inserting memorized answers into rehearsed questions, as if the entire con was spontaneous, only reveals how his once episodic dementia has become chronic as he loses his prompt and place. It was understandable that his handlers saw opportunity in secluding Biden during Trump’s tweeting, alongside the contagion, the lockdown, the recession, and the rioting that in voters’ minds had equated fear of chaos with the culpability of the current commander in chief.

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Redskins was always a problem. But while you’re toppling Washington statues, you want to keep his name linked to the team, the city? Can anyone explain the logic?

FedEx Asks Washington Redskins To Change The Team’s Name (NBC)

FedEx has asked the Washington Redskins to officially change their name, long condemned as an anti-Indigenous slur. The shipping company has communicated to the team a request that it change its name, FedEx confirmed Thursday in a statement to NBC News. FedEx owns the naming rights to the Maryland field where the team plays, and its chief executive, Fred Smith, owns a minority stake in the team. FedEx’s request comes a day after Adweek reported that 87 investment firms and shareholders worth $620 billion sent a letter urging FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo to stop doing business with the team until the name is changed.


In 2017, the Supreme Court struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks, which helped the team get the Redskins trademark back in 2018. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board had canceled the registration as offensive to American Indians. [..] Mayor Muriel Bowser said last month on Washington radio station WTEM that the name has been an obstacle in getting the city its own stadium. “I think it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people,” Bowser said. “And this is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in Washington, and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team.” [..] Dan Snyder, the team’s majority owner, told USA Today in 2013 that he would “never change the name.” “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 072020
 


Banksy June 2020

 

 

Coronavirus Shows Global Consequences Of China’s Local Censorship (SCMP)
More Than 140 Zuckerberg-Funded Scientists Want Facebook To Censor Trump (G.)
Cuba Sets Example With Successful Program To Contain Coronavirus (G.)
Brazil Govt Yanks Virus Death Toll As Data Befuddles Experts (AP)
China Would Make A Coronavirus Vaccine A ‘Global Public Good’ (R.)
FBI Pledge Allegiance to Black Lives Matter, Antifa (CTH)
Banksy: “It’s Not Their Problem, It’s Mine” (PA)
Walmart CEO Pledges $100 Million To Address Systemic Racism (Hill)
For Millennials And Women, The Jobs Report Was Catastrophic (ZH)
‘Never Say Never’ On ECB Buying Shares: Governing Council Member (R.)
Elmer Fudd Will Not Have A Gun In ‘Looney Tunes’ Reboot (Hill)
Mexico To Sit Out Extension Of OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts (R.)
DOJ, 50 State AGs Inn Push To Breakup Google’s Ad-Tech Dominance (ZH)
Judge In Epstein Grand Jury Case Has Ties To People Involved (Julie K. Brown)

 

 

The entire world increasingly retreats into echo chambers deeply buried in trenches, goaded onwards by mass value signaling and gaslighting. It is scary.

 

 

Total global cases surpassed 7,000,000.


Total global deaths surpassed 400,000.

 

 

Worldometer puts global new cases for June 5 at + 128,039.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is+ 132,816 cases.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,836
• Brazil + 30,488
• Russia + 8,984
• India + 10,086
• Pakistan + 4,960
• Chile + 5,246

 

 

Cases 7,004,814 (+ 132,816 from yesterday’s 6,871,728)

Deaths 402,665 (+ 4,002 from yesterday’s 398,663)

 

 

Note: Italy, Spain, France stripped out. They combine for 90,000 deaths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Interesting: other than in purely moral terms, to what degree does censorship hinder the world in finding a response to disasters like pandemics?

Coronavirus Shows Global Consequences Of China’s Local Censorship (SCMP)

China has the world’s highest number of internet users at over 854 million in 2019 according to the country’s Cyberspace Administration. However, its online world is confined within the so-called “Great Firewall”, and everything from criticism of the government to pornography is censored. Technology companies that run China’s social media platforms employ thousands of content moderators as censors and develop algorithms to prevent anything sensitive from being published or to quickly remove it, while foreign websites and social media platforms such Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are blocked.

[..] About 19 posts per 1,000 were removed – almost 700 from 37,226 – when China’s Centres for Disease Control published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 29 that indicated officials knew of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 earlier than admitted. The authorities had previously claimed there was no evidence of human-to-human spread of the disease “so that’s why this was the top grievance”, Fu said. “There were a lot of people complaining and reacting to that paper.” News of the coronavirus became public on December 30, 2019, after screenshots from doctors’ chat groups warning about an unknown respiratory illness spread online. But police reprimanded some of the doctors who tried to raise the alarm, including Li Wenliang who later died from the disease, prompting a huge outpouring of public grief and anger.

Li’s death on February 7 prompted another spike in censorship with three posts per 1,000 – 117 out of 40,232 – relating to the topic being censored that day. Again, Fu said, what seemed like a low number was explained by the huge amount of posts and the fact that many would not have been detected by Weiboscope because they did not mention Li’s name to avoid the censors. Independent journalists have also been targeted, and two citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are still missing after they disappeared in February after reporting from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in China.

Research published in the journal Nature last month estimated that if strong intervention had been taken against Covid-19 in China a week earlier, cases could have been “dramatically reduced” by 66 per cent. Acting three weeks earlier, at the start of January, would have reduced the number of cases by 95 per cent, according to the paper by scientists from China, the United States and Britain. “Early warnings allow governments to take early action,” Fu said. “We find evidence that social media posts including early warnings to the public were censored especially in the early stage of the pandemic.”

Read more …

Would they like their own work censored as well? Or just the people they don’t agree with?

More Than 140 Zuckerberg-Funded Scientists Want Facebook To Censor Trump (G.)

More than 140 scientists funded by Mark Zuckerberg have said Facebook should not be letting Donald Trump use the social media platform to “spread both misinformation and incendiary statements”. The researchers, who include more than 60 professors at leading US research institutions and one Nobel laureate, sent the Facebook CEO a letter on Saturday asking him to “consider stricter policies on misinformation and incendiary language that harms people”, especially during the current turmoil over racial injustice. The letter calls the spread of “deliberate misinformation and divisive language” contrary to the researchers’ goals of using technology to prevent and eradicate disease, improve childhood education and reform the criminal justice system.

Their mission “is antithetical to some of the stances that Facebook has been taking, so we’re encouraging them to be more on the side of truth and on the right side of history, as we’ve said in the letter”, said Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School, one of three professors who organized it. The others are Martin Kampmann of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jason Shepherd of the University of Utah. All have grants from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program working to prevent, cure and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They said the letter had more than 160 signatories. Shepherd said about 10% were employees of foundations run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.


The letter objects specifically to Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on a post by Trump that stated “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The letter’s authors called the post “a clear statement of inciting violence”.

Read more …

“..tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.”

Cuba Sets Example With Successful Program To Contain Coronavirus (G.)

The World Health Organization has identified Latin America as the new centre for coronavirus pandemic, but over the last two months, cases in Cuba have fallen. Cubans are now 24 times less likely to catch the virus than Dominicans, 27 times less likely to catch it than Mexicans, and more than 70 times less likely to be infected than Brazilians. Desperate for tourist revenue, Cuba closed its border later than most other countries in the region. But ever since the communist-ruled island shut out the outside world in late March, it has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the virus. The state has commanded tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.


That means that from Monday to Sunday, Dr Caballero and her medical students must walk for miles, monitoring the 328 families on her beat. “There’s no other country in the hemisphere that does anything approaching this,” said William Leogrande, professor of government at American University in Washington DC. “The whole organization of their healthcare system is to be in close touch with the population, identify health problems as they emerge, and deal with them immediately. “We know scientifically that quick identification of cases, contact tracing and quarantine are the only way to contain the virus in the absence of a vaccine – and because it begins with prevention, the Cuban health system is perfectly suited to carry out that containment strategy.”

Read more …

Johns Hopkins depended on those numbers. Don’t know about Worldometer.

Brazil Govt Yanks Virus Death Toll As Data Befuddles Experts (AP)

Brazil’s government has stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics call an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation. The Saturday move came after months of criticism from experts saying Brazil’s statistics are woefully deficient, and in some cases manipulated, so it may never be possible to gain a real understanding of the depth of the pandemic in the country. Brazil’s last official numbers showed it had recorded over 34,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world, just ahead of Italy. It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it at the second-highest, behind the United States. Brazil, with about 210 million people, is the globe’s seventh most populous nation.

On Friday, the federal Health Ministry took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states. On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site now shows only the numbers for the previous 24 hours. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted Saturday that disease totals are “not representative” of the country’s current situation. A Bolsonaro ally contended to the newspaper O Globo that at least some states providing figures to the Health Ministry had sent falsified data, implying that they were exaggerating the toll. Carlos Wizard, a businessman expected to assume a high-level post in the Health Ministry, said the federal government would be conducting a review intended to determine a “more accurate” toll.


[..] A council of state health secretaries said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the pandemic. “The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries council said Saturday.

Read more …

US Senator Scott says they’ll do the opposite, even hinder western attempts at a vaccine.

China Would Make A Coronavirus Vaccine A ‘Global Public Good’ (R.)

China will increase international cooperation if it succeeds in developing a novel coronavirus vaccine, the science and technology minister said on Sunday. China would make a vaccine a “global public good” when it is ready, the minister, Wang Zhigang, told a news conference in Beijing.

[..] China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.


Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference in Beijing. But vaccine development is very difficult and takes time, he said, when asked how China would initially prioritise shots by country when a vaccine is found. “The rigour of vaccine development has been compared by some scientists to a dance involving precise steps and rehearsals,” Wang said.

Read more …

How right wing America views the issue. They feel betrayed by the FBI because of Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, Russiagate and the impeachment fiasco.

FBI Pledge Allegiance to Black Lives Matter, Antifa (CTH)

In a display of public unity with ‘The Movement’ writ large, FBI officials took a knee to declare their woke allegiance with the protesting mobs. With that visible display we now have a better understanding of the motives behind a history of FBI failures. Setting aside the optic that some members of the FBI looking more like ‘meal-team-6’, there was always a suspicion the FBI were more concerned about political correctness than actually doing the work of a federal investigative agency. Historically the FBI has failed miserably to stop domestic terror threats; and when the investigative failures are researched there’s usually a prior connection between the attackers and the FBI.

The father of the Orlando Pulse nightclub terrorist, Omar Mateen, was a guy named Seddique Mateen (you might remember seeing him at the Hillary Clinton rally). After Omar killed 49 people it was discovered that Seddique had been an FBI informant for over eleven years (2005 to 2016). Similarly, after the Parkland school shooting, it was discovered the FBI was fully aware of Nikolas Cruz, yet again they had taken no action. The exact same scenario had played out several years earlier when the FBI was warned about the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon Bombing 2013 and yet they did nothing to stop it.


The FBI is now a political agency with police powers within the federal government. The activity of Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, James Comey, Andrew McCabe and a host of very familiar names has shown just how important politics is within the institution. Indeed, as we saw in the ridiculous Hillary Clinton investigation, politics was the prism for every decision; and protecting their ideological tribe was the biggest concern within the agency. Understanding the sensitivity behind the FBI to the Muslim community; a sensitivity almost identical to the expressed position of the democrat party apparatus; it should not come as a big surprise to see FBI agents ignoring terror threats and simultaneously taking a knee to show their allegiance with Black Lives Matter.

Read more …

The headline the Guardian used for this PA Media piece is “Banksy Supports Black Lives Matter With Latest Artwork”. But he doesn’t, or we don’t know if he does, not from his words. He supports black people, not some movement.

Banksy: “It’s Not Their Problem, It’s Mine” (PA)

Banksy has shown his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system”. The graffiti artist wrote in an Instagram post: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine. “People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. “This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”

Read more …

Walmart supports black people. What a joke that is.

A single Tweet says it all: “Walmart is the largest private employer of Black people in the US, is viciously anti-union, and pays poverty wages..”

Walmart CEO Pledges $100 Million To Address Systemic Racism (Hill)

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is pledging to donate $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died as a result of an arrest by Minneapolis police. In an email to employees Friday, McMillon condemned racial violence and said the company plans to make changes to fight for greater racial equity inside and outside of Walmart. “The global health crisis has tested all of us in recent months, and the racial violence in the U.S.— in particular, the murder of George Floyd — is tragic, painful and unacceptable,” McMillon wrote in the email. The Walmart CEO laid out several initiatives the company will undertake, including making the recruitment, development and support of African Americans inside the company “even more of a priority.”


The company will also invest in improving fairness, equity and justice in society broadly. “We will find the natural overlaps between Walmart’s core business and society’s larger needs that perpetuate racism and discrimination,” McMillon wrote. “Specifically, we’re going to focus the power of Walmart on our nation’s financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice systems.” McMillon said the center focused on racial equity “will seek to advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system.”

Read more …

Trump is so eager to praise the headline numbers that he forgets they are nonsense, and misses the opportunity to tell people to try harder.

For Millennials And Women, The Jobs Report Was Catastrophic (ZH)

There were clear problems with Friday’s “incredible” – as Trump put it – jobs report. First and foremost the BLS’ own admission there was a “survey error” which may have reduced the real unemployment rate by up to 3% as survey-takers mistakenly counted about 4.9 million temporarily laid-off people as employed, then moving through some very aggressive statistical assumption revisions to boost the “birth/death” model, the curious case of millions of “jobs” resurrected temporarily thanks to the PPP program: as recruitment firm LaSalle Network head Tom Gimbel said, today’s jobs report may offer a “false ray of light” because almost all job gains stemmed from furloughed employees kept on the books due to PPP loans (he said he was seeing real weakness in new hiring).


But even if one accepts the report at its face, if one digs beneath the glossy veneer, the details are anything but “incredible” as described by the president. Start with Trump’s “incredible” V-shaped rebound: after the 2.5mm new jobs added, total US employment is basically where it was at the depth of the financial crisis, while 21 million workers find themselves unemployed – this number was 6 million just two months ago. Putting that number in context, with roughly 133 million employed workers, there are a record 102 million Americans who are not in the labor force, of whom 92.7 million don’t even want a job.

Among those who were lucky enough to remain in the work force, millions were shifted from full to part-time.

[..] And here is the catalyst for the next round of social discontent: women unemployment is now far higher than that of men after being roughly the same before covid: how long before accusation of rampant employer sexism are the next big thing?

Read more …

Dangerous because clueless. Trying to revive the past, because that’s what got him his job.

‘Never Say Never’ On ECB Buying Shares: Governing Council Member (R.)

“Never say never” on the European Central Bank one day buying shares rather than government or corporate bonds, but it has not discussed the idea yet, ECB Governing Council member Robert Holzmann said in comments published on Sunday. The ECB on Thursday announced a bigger-than-expected expansion of its stimulus package to prop up an economy plunged by the coronavirus pandemic into its worst recession since World War Two. Holzmann took over as head of the Austrian National Bank just last year but has already been outspoken on various issues, calling for the ECB to lower its often-undershot inflation target and warning against negative rates. He also says he initially suggested that Thursday’s decision be put off.


“Never say never. If the need is there, this discussion will definitely have to take place. But currently that discussion does not exist,” Holzmann told newspaper Die Presse when asked if the ECB could start buying shares. On lowering the inflation target from just under 2%, Holzmann said he could still change his stance in a discussion that the ECB has pushed back because of the pandemic. “If it is difficult to get from 1.5% to 1.9%, then in a time of low inflation expectations one can also set oneself a different target, although I myself have not yet formed a final opinion here,” Holzmann said. “The fundamental discussion on ECB strategy has been postponed because of the crisis and should be taken up again as of the summer,” he added.

Read more …

How to make guns magically disappear.

Elmer Fudd Will Not Have A Gun In ‘Looney Tunes’ Reboot (Hill)

In a new series based on the beloved “Looney Tunes” cartoons, the classic character Elmer Fudd will no longer carry a gun. The new series “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” which premiered last week on the streaming service HBO Max, will feature the cartoon’s characteristic violence – using sticks of dynamite, booby traps and the iconic anvils and bank safes dropped onto characters, The New York Times reported last week. However, Peter Browngardt, the series executive producer and showrunner, told the outlet, “We’re not doing guns.” “But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in,” Browngardt told the outlet.


Elmer Fudd is regularly foiled trying to hunt Bugs Bunny on the show. In the new series, the character will carry a scythe. However, comics artist Johnny Ryan, who worked on the show, noted to the Times that he believes “We’re going through this wave of anti-bullying, everybody needs to be friends, everybody needs to get along.” “‘Looney Tunes’ is pretty much the antithesis of that,” he said. “It’s two characters in conflict, sometimes getting pretty violent.”

https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1269487929463898112

Read more …

OPEC+ meets COVID19. That was nnever going to be smooth.

Mexico To Sit Out Extension Of OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts (R.)

Mexico will not join other top oil producers in extending through July output cuts aimed at propping up the price of crude, Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said on Saturday. Made up of OPEC members and allies led by Russia, the group known as OPEC+ agreed in April to cut oil supply by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June to support prices. Under that deal, Mexico pledged to reduce its crude output by 100,000 bpd in May and June, after resisting pressure from other oil producers to make cuts of 400,000 bpd. The cuts had been due to taper to 7.7 million bpd from July to December, but on Saturday, OPEC+ agreed to extend the production cuts until the end of July.


Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to ramp up the country’s crude oil production, said on Friday that Mexico was not in a position to make additional cuts on top of what it had agreed in April. His energy minister Rocio Nahle confirmed Mexico would not participate in the fresh cuts agreed on Saturday. “There are other countries that extended their cuts to July, in this case we said no, we’ll stick to the agreement that we signed in April,” she told reporters in the eastern state of Veracruz. “There’s no problem.”

Read more …

They’re going to frustrate the CIA? I’ll believe it when I see it.

DOJ, 50 State AGs Inn Push To Breakup Google’s Ad-Tech Dominance (ZH)

In what would be a monumental move — and we might ad good for independent media breaking the shackles of the mainstream’s ongoing attempts to police content and punish dissent — Google’s total dominance over online advertising could soon come to an end. CNBC revealed Friday that no less than 50 sate attorneys general have been investigating Google’s business practices as part of a months long probe alongside a parallel DOJ effort, and momentum is gaining toward a looming major antitrust lawsuit against the internet giant. Leading the probe among the states is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who did not comment in Friday’s CNBC report.

Google, however, did respond, with a Google spokesperson rebutting with, “The facts are clear, our digital advertising products compete across a crowded industry with hundreds of rivals and technologies, and have helped lower costs for advertisers and consumers.” President Trump has lately put big tech in the spotlight over allegations of targeted censorship of conservative content, lately signing an executive order which seeks to reduce liability protections of major internet companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Independent and alternative voices have also long complained of being demonetized or unfairly targeted for analysis and commentary falling outside of accepted ‘groupthink’.


It remains that the bulk of Google’s some $161 billion in revenue comes via ad sales, with a far smaller amount coming through products the tech giant and its parent company Alphabet Inc. are traditionally known for: software and technology. CNBC summarizes what’s at stake as follows: “Critics have said that Google bundles its ad tools so that rivals can’t afford to match its offerings and that its operation of search results, YouTube, Gmail and other services to hinder ad competition. They also say that Google owns all sides of the “auction exchange” through which ads are sold and bought, giving it an unfair advantage.” But a key legal obstacle the courts would have to consider is the fact that Google’s ad group doesn’t function as a stand alone business, but is made up of Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager.

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Julie K. Brown at the Miami herald is back. Worse than any fantasy, or book, or movie.

Judge In Epstein Grand Jury Case Has Ties To People Involved (Julie K. Brown)

The Palm Beach judge who has thus far refused to release grand jury records in the Jeffrey Epstein case has both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who have a stake in keeping those records secret, the Miami Herald has learned. Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.

Special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to court in January to unseal records of Krischer’s secret 2006 state grand jury presentment in the case. Prosecutors wanted to examine whether Krischer’s office told the panel the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors kept key evidence from the grand jury. The grand jury returned a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, who later managed to negotiate a lenient plea deal, resulting in him serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail, much of at his lavish office in West Palm Beach, thanks to generous work-release provisions.

Last year, following a series of stories in the Miami Herald detailing the machinations behind Epstein’s plea deal, DeSantis ordered a state criminal probe focusing on Krischer’s decision not to prosecute and on Bradshaw’s role in helping Epstein maintain an opulent lifestyle — including having sex with women — while subject to sheriff’s custody on sex charges. But Marx in January rejected the criminal prosecutors’ effort to unseal the grand jury records, calling it a “fishing expedition.’’ Then on Wednesday, she rebuffed a similar request by attorneys representing the Post, who sued Aronberg, and the county clerk, Sharon Bock, for release of the records.

Marx was dismissive of the Post’s lawsuit against Aronberg, who has denied he has custody of the grand jury records; and Bock, who has custody of the records but won’t release them without a court order. Marx, however, did not disclose from the bench that Krischer was her former boss, that her daughter works for Aronberg as an assistant state attorney and that her son works for Bradshaw as a sheriff’s deputy. Marx’s husband, Palm Beach County Judge Joe Marx, has a disclosure on his county web page stating he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. Krista Marx’s county web page does not have such a disclosure.

Read more …

 

 

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Apr 092020
 


Edward Hopper The railroad 1922

 

Fauci: I Don’t Think We Should Shake Hands ‘Ever Again’ (Hill)
The Limits of Location Tracking in an Epidemic (ACLU)
Coronavirus and the Future of Surveillance (FA)
China Seeks To Contain ‘Silent Carriers’ Of Coronavirus (R.)
Rapid Health Declines In COVID-19 Patients Jar Doctors, Nurses (R.)
New Projections Show Virus Spreading Twice As Fast As Expected (ZH)
US Nurses Who Can’t Get Tested Fear They Are Spreading COVID-19 (R.)
NY Hospital Sends ‘Borderline’ COVID19 Patients Home With Oxygen Monitors (R.)
What The Data Really Shows About Two Treatments For COVID-19 (F.)
Miss England Hangs Up Her Crown To Return To Work As A COVID19 Doctor (C24)
U.S. GDP Will Contract 30% In Second Quarter, 5% In 2020 – PIMCO (R.)
Thinking Outside of the “V” Shaped Recovery Box (RIA)
Americans Not Making Their Mortgage Payments Soar By 1064% In One Month (ZH)
Virgin Islands At Odds With Epstein Estate Over ‘Broad’ Liability Releases (R.)
Vindictive Court Rulings Prove British State Wants Assange Dead (WSWS)
Democrats Salivate Over Obama Coming Off Sidelines (Hill)

 

 

Confirmed coronavirus cases.
• Spain: 148,220
• Italy: 139,422
• Germany: 113,296
• New York State: 151,000

• US records 1,973 #coronavirus deaths on April 8. “The record-breaking figure is slightly higher than the previous day’s toll of 1,939 and brings total US fatalities to 14,695”

• Africa tops 10,000 cases, 500 deaths. Let’s see what the numbers are 3 weeks from now.

Nice discussions about testing and surveillance. But too many people appear to have their minds made up before the discussion starts. It’s not as easy as some may think.

One man’s freedom is another man’s prison, and finding the middle ground takes a lot of effort. However, we do that every day. The internet and smartphones have already brought a lot of added surveillance, but most people still feel free. Even though they don’t have the freedom to rape and murder. There are sliding scales here as far as the eye can see.

 

 

Cases 1,529,078 (+ 82,097 from yesterday’s 1,446,981)

Deaths 89,411 (+ 6,321 from yesterday’s 83,090)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% ! NOTE 2: the number of active cases that are critical or severe is going down. 4% now.

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

And no dancing either, y’hear?!

Fauci: I Don’t Think We Should Shake Hands ‘Ever Again’ (Hill)

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, on Wednesday suggested that Americans should never shake hands again. “When you gradually come back, you don’t jump into it with both feet. You say, what are the things you could still do and still approach normal? One of them is absolute compulsive hand-washing. The other is you don’t ever shake anybody’s hands,” Fauci told The Wall Street Journal’s podcast.


“I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease; it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country,” the doctor added. Fauci also said he hopes to see a “light at the end of the tunnel” by the end of April. The NIAID head said Wednesday morning on Fox News that he thinks the number of U.S. deaths from the virus will be lower than initially predicted. Last week, Fauci and other members of the task force had signaled that anywhere between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the illness, even if social distancing was successful.

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This appears very clumsy.

The Limits of Location Tracking in an Epidemic (ACLU)

The CDC warns against comingin “close contact” with apersonwho has tested positive for the virus, defining close contactas“being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters), of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time.” None of the data sources discussed above are accurate enough to identify close contact with sufficient reliability. None are reliably accurate to within 6feet. Using the wrong technology to draw conclusions about who may have become infected might lead to expensive mistakessuch as twoweek isolation from work, friends, and family for someone —perhaps even ahealth care worker or first responder —who was actually not exposed. Israel’suse of location data has already sparked complaintsabout accuracy.

A location tracking system over time can be accurate enough to place a person near a bank, bar, mosque, clinic, or other privacy-sensitive location. But the fact is, commercial location databases are compiled for advertising and other purposes and are simply not accurate enough to reliably determine who was in close contact with whom. The algorithms are not likely to be reliable.Even if we were to imagine a set of location data that had pinpoint accuracy, there would still be problems translating that in any automated way into reliable guesses about whether two people were in danger of transmitting an infection. The Israeli system apparently acts on the basis of nothing more than an automated look at proximity. In Israel, one woman was identified as a “contact” simply because she waved at her infected boyfriend fromoutside his apartment building —and was issued a quarantineorder based on that alone.

Such a system is likely to make many such mistakes; it won’t know that a bank teller is shielded from transmission because they’re behind plexiglass, or that two people close togetherin a building are actually in separate apartments divided by a wall. The alternative is to try to make more educated guessesby taking account of such circumstances as well as such factors as the duration of a contact and the numberof days the positive-testing person has been infected. But those guesses will inevitably be highly unreliable.

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All over East Asia.

Coronavirus and the Future of Surveillance (FA)

Consider the strategies of five East Asian countries—ranging from the democracies of South Korea and Taiwan to the authoritarian Chinese state—that all relied on prominent surveillance methods. South Korea has so far successfully curbed the spread of COVID-19 using classic public health surveillance through large-scale testing. But Seoul has also intrusively tracked down potentially infected individuals by looking at credit card transactions, CCTV footage, and other data. Local authorities have released personal data, sometimes with the consequence that individuals can be identified publicly. Korean officials can enforce self-quarantine through a location-tracking smartphone app.

Taiwan has kept the number of cases very low by employing strict surveillance of people coming into the country and widely distributing that information. In February, for instance, Taiwan announced that all hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the country could access their patients’ travel histories. Integrating public- and private-sector databases in such ways would prove difficult in the United Kingdom or the United States or under existing European Union regulations. Just as in South Korea, officials in Taiwan use phone apps to enforce the self-quarantine of suspected infected individuals. Hong Kong issues all new arrivals an electronic wristband that monitors whether they violate quarantine.

Singapore has kept a lid on the pandemic using CCTV footage and the investigative powers of the police: refusal to cooperate with public health requirements is illegal. China’s sheer size makes it the most significant case. Beijing has successfully curbed the spread of the disease. Yes, the pandemic originated in China, but that doesn’t diminish the tangible success of China’s strategy of heavy surveillance. Its “grid management” system divides the country into tiny sections and assigns people to watch over one another. Over a million local monitors log movements, take temperatures, and enforce rules about residents’ activities.

At the same time, China has also harnessed its panoply of digital tools. State-run rail companies, airlines, and the major telecom providers all require customers to present government-issued identity cards to buy SIM cards or tickets, enabling unusually precise mass surveillance of individuals who traveled through certain regions. Color-coded smartphone apps tag people as green (free to travel through city checkpoints) or as orange or red (subject to restrictions on movement). Authorities in Beijing have employed facial recognition algorithms to identify commuters who aren’t wearing a mask or who aren’t wearing one properly.

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Not testing grinds economies to a halt. Airlines, restaurants, everyone will want to be safe from infection or they don’t show up. That doesn’t make it an easy or a settled topic, but it’s still true. Can you run London, New York, Tokyo without a subway system? Nope.

China Seeks To Contain ‘Silent Carriers’ Of Coronavirus (R.)

China released new measures on Wednesday to try and prevent asymptomatic “silent carriers” of coronavirus from causing a second wave of infections, as the country reported another modest rise in new confirmed cases. Mainland China reported 63 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, up from 62 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said. Of those, 61 were travellers arriving from overseas, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in China to 81,865. While new infections have fallen from their peak in February after China locked down several cities and imposed strict travel restrictions, authorities have called for continued vigilance amid fears of a fresh wave of infections.

Aside from curbing an influx of infected travellers from abroad, China’s other concern is managing asymptomatic people, or virus carriers who exhibit no clinical symptoms such as a fever or a cough. China reported 56 new asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of such cases to 657 since data for such infections were published daily from April 1. The State Council, or Cabinet, on Wednesday published new rules to manage asymptomatic coronavirus carriers, or what some state media described as “silent carriers” of the virus.

Under the regulations, medical institutions must report detection of asymptomatic cases within two hours of their discovery. Local governments must then identify all known close contacts of the case within 24 hours. Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined collectively for 14 days, and will be counted as confirmed cases if they start to show symptoms. People who have had close contact with them must also be quarantined for two weeks. Earlier this week, a new function appeared on Tencent’s ubiquitous (0700.HK) WeChat mobile platform allowing people to check if they have ever sat on trains and planes near an asymptomatic carrier who later became a confirmed case.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1248072025492635648

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Sometimes you realize how little we still know about the virus.

Rapid Health Declines In COVID-19 Patients Jar Doctors, Nurses (R.)

One medical worker called it “insane,” another said it induces paranoia – the speed with which patients are declining and dying from the novel coronavirus is shocking even veteran doctors and nurses as they scramble to determine how to stop such sudden deterioration. Patients “look fine, feel fine, then you turn around and they’re unresponsive,” said Diana Torres, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, where the virus has infected more than 415,000 people. “I’m paranoid, scared to walk out of their room.” It isn’t just elderly or patients with underlying health conditions who can be fine one minute and at death’s door the next. It can happen for the young and healthy, too, health professionals told Reuters.

A young woman died unexpectedly while nurse Laurie Douglas was on duty at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After 34 years on the job, Douglas said she normally has “an intuition of who is going to fade and who may improve.” “But these people are throwing that out the window,” Douglas said. “Last week, she was planning her wedding. This week, her family is planning her funeral,” she said, referring to the deceased patient. Patients might enter the hospital with strong oxygen levels and be engaged in happy conversation, said a resident emergency doctor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, only to be “gasping for breath” and intubated a few hours later. “The scary thing is there are no rules to it,” said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

These scenes are playing out everywhere as COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, has infected more than 1.4 million worldwide and killed more than 83,400 as of Wednesday. The quick turns for the worse are likely products of an “overly exuberant” reaction by the immune system as it fights the virus, said Dr. Otto Yang, an infectious disease specialist at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Called a cytokine storm, it occurs when the body overproduces immune cells and their activating compounds – cytokines – causing dangerously high blood pressure, lung damage and organ failure. Emily Muzyka, 25, a nurse in the New York suburbs, said she reached her breaking point last week, when a relatively healthy 44-year-old woman needed sudden intubation.

“I had a meltdown that night,” she said. “I cried to my boyfriend.” In the case of COVID-19 patients, intubation refers to inserting a tube into the mouth and through the airway of a patient struggling to breathe, so they can be hooked to a mechanical ventilator. Associated Press journalist Anick Jesdanun, who was in good health and had run 83 marathons, died last week from COVID-19, according to a post on Facebook by his cousin, Prinda Mulpramook. Jesdanun, who was 51, at first didn’t need hospitalization, according to the post. He had begun to recover and showed clear lungs and strong vital signs during a doctor’s visit in late March. But “a sudden setback” sent him to the emergency room on April 1, and “13 hours later we lost him,” Mulpramook wrote.

Read more …

Again, we know very little.

New Projections Show Virus Spreading Twice As Fast As Expected (ZH)

[..] around the world, there are probably dozens of sets of projections, all produced by “credible” researchers, all saying slightly different things. And now, one of those researchers has caught the attention of Bloomberg by announcing that it may have underestimated the virus’s velocity by half, meaning it’s been spreading twice as quickly through China – and will therefore likely follow (or has followed) a similar pattern in the US. This set of projections was produced by researchers at Los Alamos, BBG said. As the CPC lifts travel restrictions on “healthy” residents of Wuhan – sending tens of thousands scrambling to escape the city – the team of researchers has determined that the virus likely spread through the country twice as quickly as initially believed.

New assumptions produced by the team including the average number of people infected in the early days of the epidemic in Wuhan: they have been revised to 5.7, more than twice the number the WHO has projected. Of course, the team’s results are specific to the Chinese outbreak. But although Beijing hesitated during the early days of the outbreak, it’s heavy handed response likely won’t be mimicked by the West, meaning if the virus spread more quickly in China, it’s reasonable to expect that it could travel through the US at around the same speed. At any rate, with this new rate of spread, researchers determined that some 82% of the population would need to be immune, either via a vaccine or because they’d already had the disease, in order to stop the virus from spreading.

Without such protection, high levels of social distancing would be needed, since as many as 1/5 people infected present as asymptomatic, a factor that has terribly complicated the response to the virus. [..] Notably, the Los Alamos report, which was initially published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, relied on anonymized mobile phone travel data and case reports of coronavirus outside the early epicenter in China’s Hubei province to calculate the spread, all things considered, that should be some pretty accurate data, if the authorities haven’t tampered with it. Then again, if they had, the numbers would probably look a lot better than they do.

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They’re Marvel heroes, they don’t need testing.

US Nurses Who Can’t Get Tested Fear They Are Spreading COVID-19 (R.)

In New York City, an intensive care nurse treated patients for three days after she started displaying symptoms of COVID-19 – but couldn’t get a test from her hospital. In Georgia, a nurse was denied a test after treating an infected patient who died. In Michigan, one of the few hospital systems conducting widespread staff testing found that more than 700 workers were infected with the coronavirus – more than a quarter of those tested. More than a month after the pandemic hit the United States, the persistent test shortages mean that health workers are treating patients while experiencing mild symptoms that could signal they are infected themselves, according to Reuters interviews with 13 nurses and 2 doctors who described testing shortages at their hospitals. Many medical centers are testing only the workers with the most severe symptoms, according to the frontline workers and hospital officials.

As a result, nurses and doctors risk infecting patients, colleagues and their families without knowing they are carrying the virus, medical experts say. The New York City nurse works at Mount Sinai Hospital, a major institution in the national epicenter of the pandemic. Her nausea, upset stomach and low-grade fever did not qualify her to get a test in late March, she told Reuters on condition of anonymity. She continued to work because her fever – at 100.2 degrees Fahrenheit (37.9 Celsius) – was just below the threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for sending health workers home. But she had the virus, an infection she confirmed when she took it upon herself to get tested at a private clinic, she said.“I knew something wasn’t right,” the nurse said, “but I didn’t really think I had it.”

[..] In Michigan – a leader among states in establishing testing programs that deliver quick results – more than 700 staff in the Henry Ford Health hospital system have tested positive out of some 2,500 employees tested since March 12, chief clinical officer Adnan Munkarah said on April 6. While the infected workers represent just 2% of the system’s overall staff, the high percentage of positive tests in the initial round signals that further testing could reveal many more infections. Until rapid testing is widely available, hospitals face a dilemma: Do they test staff with mild symptoms and keep them home for days as they await results? Or do they keep mildly ill – but desperately needed – staff at work to treat the rush of patients? “It’s a different kind of triage,” said Caplan, the bioethics professor. “It’s precaution versus, ‘I need staff.’”

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Not quite sure what’s safer.

NY Hospital Sends ‘Borderline’ COVID19 Patients Home With Oxygen Monitors (R.)

Some coronavirus patients who would have been admitted into the emergency department at a New York hospital are being sent home with an oxygen-monitoring device as the city’s medical system struggles to reserve resources for only the sickest people. The new program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is an example of how doctors are adapting and loosening normal protocols to ease the strain on emergency rooms and intensive care units in New York state, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Since last week, more than 200 people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, have been sent home with a pulse oximeter to track their oxygen levels.

A doctor or nurse practitioner follows up with them via video conference. “Some of these patients might have been on the borderline of admission,” Dr. Rahul Sharma, who is overseeing the program as the chief of emergency medicine at Presbyterian’s Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in an interview. An oximeter is a small electronic device that clips onto a fingertip to indirectly measure the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood. In severe COVID-19 cases, the virus can block up the lungs, hindering their ability to pass oxygen from the air into the bloodstream. While most who contract the virus recover, it has killed at least 4,900 people in the city, according to a Reuters tally.

Some of the NewYork-Presbyterian patients are also being sent home with a 30lb (14 kg) portable oxygen concentrating machine which sends oxygen-rich air through a nasal cannula, a two-pronged tube inserted into the nostrils. The patient is asked to log their oximeter readings to share with a doctor or nurse practitioner at 12-hour and 24-hour consultations. The patient may be re-admitted to the hospital if they take a turn for the worse.

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The chloroquine discussion continues. In the meantime, people will continue taking it.

What The Data Really Shows About Two Treatments For COVID-19 (F.)

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a derivative of chloroquine, and was approved in 1955 as an antimalarial treatment in the United States. More recently, HCQ has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, two autoimmune diseases characterized by a damaging inflammatory response. HCQ’s ability to modulate the inflammatory response is one reason why it’s caught the eye of researchers. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to invasion by bacteria, viruses, or other substances. It’s caused by your immune system “attacking” and destroying infected cells or the foreign bodies directly. But sometimes that response can get out of control. In autoimmune disorders, the body mistakenly attacks itself. In COVID-19, the inflammatory response can be so great that it causes severe damage to the lungs, which is why patients with severe cases often need ventilators.

Surprisingly, how HCQ works to diminish the inflammatory response is not fully understood. Current research suggests that it interferes with the normal functioning of two Toll-like receptors, which are “signaling” proteins that your immune system uses to regulate inflammation. This interference may be why HCQ can work to reduce it. Because HCQ has been used for over half a century, its side effects have been well-documented. Most notably, use, especially long-term use, has been associated with an increased risk of retinopathy, or damage to the retina. Some recent studies have also indicated that it may cause toxic side effects in patients taking other common drugs, such as metformin.

Remdesivir (RDV) was designed by the pharmaceutical company Gilead as a possible treatment for hepatitis C virus and respiratory syncytial virus. Some studies have shown that RDV may also inhibit other viruses that possess an RNA genome, including those that cause Ebola, SARS and MERS. Right now, it looks like RDV is effective because it looks very similar to a chemical that viruses need to reproduce. But when the virus errantly uses RDV, the replication stops. When it comes to the safety of RDV, the data are less clear. In limited human trials, elevated liver enzymes were reported, but a full assessment of its side effects have not been determined.

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Your happy news for the day.

Miss England Hangs Up Her Crown To Return To Work As A COVID19 Doctor (C24)

Miss England 2019, Bhasha Mukherjee, is hanging up her crown to return to the front-line amid the coronavirus crisis. Last year, while competing in the Miss World pageant, the 24-year-old stepped away from her post as a junior doctor in the medical field, reports People, and shortly after, started doing charity work which was set to go on until later this year. But that all changed when she started receiving messages from her colleagues at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston in the UK, detailing the extent of the crisis. “When you are doing all this humanitarian work abroad, you’re still expected to put the crown on, get ready… look pretty,” she told CNN, which she said just didn’t feel right anymore.


“I wanted to come back home. I wanted to come and go straight to work,” she said. “I felt a sense of this is what I’d got this degree for and what better time to be part of this particular sector than now.” Bhasha has since returned to the UK from India where she was working as an ambassador for Mercia Lions Club to provide resources to a home for abandoned girls. She will start work in the medical field though after she is done self-isolating in the next two weeks.


Miss England 2019, Bhasha Mukherjee, during the 69th Miss World pageant. Photo: Getty Images.

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If you would have told anyone this on January 1…

U.S. GDP Will Contract 30% In Second Quarter, 5% In 2020 – PIMCO (R.)

The forced closure of businesses across the United States and surge in unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic will force U.S. growth to contract by 30% in the second quarter and 5% overall in 2020, Pacific Investment Management Co (PIMCO) wrote on Wednesday. In a blog post, Tiffany Wilding, a North American economist at PIMCO, wrote that evidence from recent jobs reports suggests the unemployment rate may rise as high as 20%. The 30% contraction in growth in the second quarter would likely be followed by two quarters of recovery, Wilding wrote. While two quarters of contraction is shorter than the four recorded in the 2008 financial crisis, the depth of the shock is far greater – quarterly contractions did not rise above 8% during that time.


California-based PIMCO is one of the world’s largest investment firms with $1.91 trillion assets under management as of Dec. 31 2019. “The speed and magnitude of the U.S. labor market disruption has been sharper than any we’ve seen in recent history, suggesting that the decline in overall activity has also likely been much more severe,” wrote Wilding. In spite of the already enormous spate of layoffs, the number of jobs lost is likely to continue to rise as more states close non-essential businesses. The figures are also expected to rise as unemployment offices work through a backlog of claims. Wilding notes that the government’s March employment report showed that layoffs had begun earlier than suggested by weekly unemployment data, and were spread across industries, including healthcare, which PIMCO had expected to remain resilient.

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Old ideas for new times.

Thinking Outside of the “V” Shaped Recovery Box (RIA)

It seems the entirety of the financial media and many on Wall Street believe a “V” shaped economic recovery is in our future. While we hope they are right, we would be foolish to take such analysis and, quite frankly, unwarranted optimism, at face value. If history teaches us one thing, it is that significant, life-altering events are rarely if ever followed by a quick return to normality. In this article, we raise a few considerations that may make you reconsider popular economic narratives. Today, the importance for investors to think outside of the box cannot be overstated.


Or to put it another way, the parameters of “the box” have likely changed and, if so, we should be cognizant of those changes in our decision making. If the future economic recovery does not resemble the “V” shape that the financial markets are depending on, the stock market may be even more over-valued than we think. To that end, consider the following graph showing where the S&P 500 could trade based on a range of historical valuations.

The COVID-19 Crisis may be short-lived or not. Although it seems as though progress is being made, there is nary a sign that a full-fledged cure or vaccine is at hand. Social distancing and mass closures of commercial enterprise appear to slow the exponential spreading of the virus considerably. While very effective in saving lives, these measures come with immense economic costs. The productive output of the global economy has ground to a near-total halt. As the virus appears to have peaked in Asia and is starting to show signs of peaking in Europe, we are hopeful the U.S. will also peak shortly. Then what? From a health standpoint, the answer depends on whether a cure or vaccine is discovered.


If a cure or vaccine is found and can be produced, distributed, and administered quickly, then mandatory and self-regulated social distancing will end, and people will hopefully resume normal activities. This may be the rationale backing a “V” shaped recovery, but as we discuss later in the article, normal may not be the same normal we knew before February 2020. If the spreading of the virus is significantly curtailed, but there is no cure or vaccine developed, the outcome may be very different. Just ask yourself, are you ready to stand in a crowded elevator, hop on a packed train, or stand shoulder to shoulder with other fans at a sporting event or concert? It is quite likely that in the bleaker scenario with no cure or vaccine, there will be some recovery, but most people will dramatically alter their everyday life. Such a change will radically reshape the outlook for human behavior on a vast scale.

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How to keep a bubble inflated against all odds.

Americans Not Making Their Mortgage Payments Soar By 1064% In One Month (ZH)

According to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association Forbearance and Call Volume Survey which highlights the “unprecedented, widespread mortgage forbearance already requested by borrowers affected by the spread of the coronavirus”, the total number of loans in forbearance grew to 2.66% as of April 1; just one month ago, on March 2, the rate was 0.25%, or a 1,064% increase in just one month. For loans backed by Ginnie Mae, which serves low- and moderate-income borrowers, the surge was much greater, with total loans in forbearance soaring to 4.25% from 0.19% one month ago. Overall, the MBA reports that total forbearance requests grew by 1,270% between the week of March 2 and the week of March 16, and another 1,896% between the week of March 16 and the week of March 30.


According to Bloomberg, borrowers with relatively low credit scores, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, are most likely to seek relief. Over the past two years, Ginnie Mae has guaranteed $583 billion of 30-year mortgages with FICO scores below 715, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. However, the longer the coronavirus shutdown lasts, the higher the FICO cutoff for those borrowers unable (or unwilling) to make mortgage payments. “MBA’s survey highlights the immediate relief consumers are seeking as they navigate the economic hardships brought forth by the mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “The mortgage industry is committed to providing this much-needed forbearance as mandated by law under the CARES Act. It is expected that requests will continue to skyrocket at an unsustainable pace in the coming weeks, putting insurmountable cash flow constraints on many servicers – especially IMBs.”

[..] lenders – like everyone else – are operating in the dark, with no way of predicting the scope or duration of the pandemic or the damage it will wreak on the economy. If the virus recedes soon and the economy roars back to life, then the plan will help borrowers get back on track quickly. But the greater the fallout, the harder and more expensive it will be to stave off repossessions. “Nobody has any sense of how long this might last,” said Andrew Jakabovics, a former Department of Housing and Urban Development senior policy adviser who is now at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit affordable housing group. “The forbearance program allows everybody to press pause on their current circumstances and take a deep breath. Then we can look at what the world might look like in six or 12 months from now and plan for that.”


But if the economic turmoil is long-lasting, the government will have to find a way to prevent foreclosures – which could mean forgiving some debt, said Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree. And with the government now stuck in “bailout everyone mode”, the risk of allowing foreclosures to spiral is just too great because it would damage financial markets and that could reinfect the economy, he explained. “I expect policy makers to do whatever they can to hold the line on a financial crisis,” Kapfidze said hinting at just a trace of a conflict of interest as his firm may well be next to fold if its borrowers declare a payment moratorium. “And that means preventing foreclosures by any means necessary.”

Read more …

The estate is trying to protect Ghislaine.

Virgin Islands At Odds With Epstein Estate Over ‘Broad’ Liability Releases (R.)

Women who say they were abused by deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein should not be required to sign broad liability waivers in order to get payouts from his estate, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands said on Wednesday. The office of Attorney General Denise George said in a statement that the estate was demanding the “broad releases,” which would shield not only the estate but potentially other individuals from legal liability, as part of a proposed victim compensation fund. A spokeswoman for George said people covered by the releases could include anyone linked to Epstein who was involved in trafficking or abusing girls. “With this demand still in place, the Fund cannot ensure a fundamentally fair and legally sufficient process for victims who choose to participate,” the attorney general said.


George’s office has asked the Virgin Islands probate court, which is overseeing the estate, to resolve the dispute. The estate was valued at $636.1 million before the recent global market plunge. [..] George sued the estate in January, saying Epstein’s sexual misconduct there stretched from 2001 to 2018 and included raping and trafficking in dozens of women and girls. At least two dozen Epstein accusers have filed civil lawsuits against the estate. Some named Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell and other alleged enablers of Epstein’s abuses as defendants. Ghislaine, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, has denied the allegations against her.

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It’s as simple as that.

Vindictive Court Rulings Prove British State Wants Assange Dead (WSWS)

In a London court hearing yesterday, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared that the extradition show trial of Julian Assange will proceed in May, despite the fact that Britain is under a national lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly spreading through the country’s prison system. Baraitser’s ruling was the second in a fortnight that places Assange’s life and safety in jeopardy and underscores the travesty of justice being perpetrated against him. On March 25, she rejected an application for bail made by Assange’s legal team, which detailed the “very real” and potentially “fatal” threat posed to his health by the coronavirus pandemic. Assange is currently held on remand in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.


[..] In an open letter last month, Doctors for Assange wrote: “Julian Assange’s life and health are at heightened risk due to his arbitrary detention during this global pandemic. That threat will only grow as the coronavirus spreads.” Speaking for the group, Dr. Stephen Frost told the World Socialist Web Site: “Mr. Assange must be assumed by doctors to be severely immunocompromised and therefore at greatly increased risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus in any prison, but especially in a prison such as Belmarsh. Every extra day Mr. Assange is incarcerated in Belmarsh prison constitutes an increased threat to his life.”

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I’m thinking the NYT, WaPo, CNN hugely prefer four more years of Trump over four dull Biden years. There’s no money for them in Biden.

Democrats Salivate Over Obama Coming Off Sidelines (Hill)

The decision by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to suspend his campaign means former President Obama is about to get back into the political spotlight. Sources close to Obama and Biden say the two men have spoken “quite frequently,” as one put it, in recent days as Biden pivots to the general election. Obama has also spoken to Sanders in recent days, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations. The former president has stayed out of the Democratic primary, but sources say he is anxious to endorse his former vice president, Joe Biden, and become an active player in the general election campaign against President Trump. Democrats across the country are also ready for his entry.

“IT IS TIME,” Doug Landry, a former Hillary Clinton aide, wrote Wednesday, tweeting a cartoon image of Obama as superman. “RELEASE THE SUPER SURROGATE.” Sources say the former president is ready but that he and Biden are also conscious of the coronavirus pandemic dominating the country and changing the nature of politics. Biden actually spoke by phone with Trump on Monday to discuss the pandemic, and Sanders made it clear that the spreading virus was one reason he ended his campaign on Wednesday despite the urgings of some supporters to continue. “He’s eager to go,” said one source close to Obama. “He’s been waiting for this election for almost four years.”

The pandemic also affects the basics of campaigning. Large rallies and handshakes are impossible, and Biden has been working for the last several weeks from his basement recreation room. “Like everyone else, Obama is going to have to appear on video or on television, but the biggest question is how?” one source said. “That’s all being ironed out.” Sources on both sides said they expect Obama — and former first lady Michelle Obama — to begin to appear in upcoming virtual fundraisers to help build excitement around Biden’s campaign and activate some bundlers who remained on the sidelines until now. “No one has heard from him in a long time, and people will pay a lot of money to hear from him, even on a computer,” one longtime Obama ally said.

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