Apr 052021
 


Piet Mondriaan Composition in color A 1917

 

Yet Again on Covid (Hoskinson)
The Great Covid Power Grab (Clark)
Kentucky Passes A Philosophical Exemption Law For Vaccines (ky.gov)
Covid Passport Trials Begin With Live Comedy Night (BBC)
Everyone in England to be Offered Twice-weekly Covid Tests (G.)
High Vitamin D Levels May Protect Against Covid-19 (UCM)
Republicans Dangle ‘Easy’ Win For Trimmed Biden Plan (F24)
US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months (WS)
Turkey and the Suez ‘Heart Attack’ (K.)
Ten Retired Admirals Detained in Turkey as Erdogan Warns of New Coup (GR)
Hunter Biden Is ‘100% Certain’ DOJ Probe Will Clear Him Of Wrongdoing (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Barkley

 

 

Excellent.

Charles Hoskinson is the founder of Cardano and co-founder of Ethereum, two cryptocurrencies.

Yet Again on Covid (Hoskinson)

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“To compare Covid to the Second World War, as the 24 leaders have done, and argue that it needs a post-WW2 style settlement, surely redefines the word ‘hyperbolic.’ ”

The Great Covid Power Grab (Clark)

Johnson, Macron and Merkel have warned that the world needs a settlement to protect itself in the wake of Coronavirus. The question, as ever, must be: ‘who benefits?’ The answer, as ever, is ‘it’s unlikely to be you.’ “Out with nationalism and isolationism and in with international ‘Health and Security’!” That’s the cry from 24 world leaders, led by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The call for a new global ‘pandemic preparedness’ treaty came in a letter to the Daily Telegraph and in papers across the world. The letter uses words and phrases such as ‘solidarity,’ ‘global community,’ ’international cooperation’ and ‘protect’ repeatedly, to make us all feel that what is being proposed is for the good of us all. But is it?

If we read between the lines, we can see quite clearly that, while the plan is supposed to be about post-Covid pandemics, it is really about making sure that the draconian measures introduced since 2020 are maintained as long as possible. The ‘nobody is safe until everyone is safe’ mantra which appears at the end of the second paragraph in the letter, is saying to us – as Merkel and other globalists have strongly hinted – that restrictions cannot and will not be lifted until everyone in the world has been vaccinated. If you have any doubts, just take a look at the very next sentence, which states: ‘We are therefore committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for this and future pandemics.’ Translation: ‘Africa, you’re going to take the vaccines we offer you whether you like it or not.’

To justify a ‘pandemic treaty,’ and other long-planned changes being implemented in its wake, they have to accord Covid a very special status. The first sentence of the letter boldly states: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s.’ But is that really true? Hong Kong flu claimed the lives of between one and four million people between 1968 and 1970. But it got a lot less coverage than Covid. There was no talk of a permanent ‘New Normal’ being established in 1970, or the need for a post-WW2-like settlement. Neither was there when HIV/AIDS hit in the 1980s. The UN says between 24.8m and 42.2 million people had died of AIDS-related illnesses by the end of 2019.

To compare Covid to the Second World War, as the 24 leaders have done, and argue that it needs a post-WW2 style settlement, surely redefines the word ‘hyperbolic.’ A reminder: some 75 million people died in the Second World War – including around 27 million citizens of the former Soviet Union. 60 million Europeans became refugees. By contrast, the current number of deaths ‘with’ Covid is 2.8 million. Yes, that’s serious –and all deaths are very sad– but the numbers alone can’t explain why it’s Covid –and not other diseases which killed many more and came before it– which necessitates a ‘Great Reset’.

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6 states have now passed similar laws: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky.

Kentucky Passes A Philosophical Exemption Law For Vaccines (ky.gov)

AN ACT relating to exceptions to mandatory immunization requirements and declaring an emergency.


Amend KRS 214.036 to provide exemptions from mandatory immunization for any child, emancipated minor, or adult who, personally or by a parent or guardian, submits a written sworn statement objecting to the immunization based on conscientiously held beliefs; prohibit any administrative regulation, administrative order, or executive order from requiring during an epidemic the immunization of persons who submit either a written sworn statement objecting to the immunization based on conscientiously held beliefs or the written opinion of the person’s physician that such immunization would be injurious to the person’s health; require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop and make available on its Web site a standardized form relating to the exemptions from mandatory immunization and to accept the form after it is submitted; amend KRS 209.552 and 214.034 to conform; EMERGENCY.

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And so it begins.

Covid Passport Trials Begin With Live Comedy Night (BBC)

The government is to trial a series of measures in England, including Covid passports, to allow the safe return of sports matches, events and nightclubs. Passes would show if a person had been vaccinated, had a recent negative test, or natural immunity. Trial events in the coming months will also explore how ventilation and testing before and after could help crowds return. Any use of passes would be “time-limited”, the sports minister has said. The pilots, which will include the FA Cup final, will last until mid-May, and some of the listed events will not be trialling vaccination certification, including those taking place in Liverpool.


Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston described the trials as a “learning experience”, saying no decisions had yet been made on processes or vaccination certificates. He said the earlier pilots “almost certainly won’t involve any element of certification”, and that the government would also be looking at mitigations such as one-way systems and hygiene measures. Mr Huddleston said the PM would receive a report on the trials at the end of May, and suggested further events could be added later in the year.

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Give people back the responsibility taken away from them.

Everyone in England to be Offered Twice-weekly Covid Tests (G.)

Boris Johnson is to unveil a plan for routine, universal Covid-19 tests as a means to ease England out of lockdown, as the government faced a renewed backlash over the idea of app-based “passports” to permit people entry into crowded places and events. Six months after Johnson unveiled plans for “Operation Moonshot”, a £100bn mass testing scheme that never delivered on its stated aim of preventing another lockdown, all people in England will be offered two Covid tests a week from Friday. The prime minister is to announce the rollout of the lateral flow tests at a press conference on Monday afternoon, at which he will also outline a programme of trial events for mass gatherings, as well as proposals for potentially restarting foreign travel.

The testing scheme, involving kits for use at home or at test centres, workplaces and schools, is billed as a means to limit any continued community transmission of the virus, in parallel with the vaccination programme, and as a way to track outbreaks of potentially vaccine-resistant Covid variants. The test-and-trace phone app will also be updated so that when pubs and other hospitality venues reopen everyone in a group will have to register, not just the lead person, with those who test positive asked to share other places they have visited. Some scientists have expressed scepticism at the plan, noting both the possibility of false negatives with lateral flow tests, and the need for better support for people to self-isolate if they do test positive.

Civil liberties groups and many MPs will also be wary if the new testing system potentially feeds into a regime of Covid certificates, which would use recent tests, vaccination or the presence of antibodies to the virus to determine entry to pubs or mass events. Sometimes also called “Covid passports”, these would be purely for domestic use, and would be distinct from a vaccination record to allow foreign travel.

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There’s a research deficiency about vitamin D deficiency. “This supports arguments for designing clinical trials”?

High Vitamin D Levels May Protect Against Covid-19 (UCM)

A new research study at the University of Chicago Medicine has found that when it comes to COVID-19, having vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient may lower the risk of infection, especially for Black people. The study, published in JAMA Open Network on March 19, retrospectively examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19. While levels of 30 ng/ml or more are usually considered sufficient, the authors found that Black individuals who had levels of 30 to 40 ng/ml had a 2.64 times higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than people with levels of 40 ng/ml or greater. Statistically significant associations of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk were not found in white people.

The study looked at data from more than 3,000 patients at UChicago Medicine who had had their vitamin D levels tested within 14 days before a COVID-19 test. The research team is now recruiting participants for two separate clinical trials testing the efficacy of vitamin D supplements for preventing COVID-19. This research is an expansion of an earlier study showing that a vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) may raise the risk of testing positive for COVID-19. In the current study, those results were further supported, finding that individuals with a vitamin D deficiency had a 7.2% chance of testing positive for the virus. A separate study recently found that more than 80% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.

“These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19, at least in Black individuals,” said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. “This supports arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in persons of color.” Meltzer was inspired to investigate this topic after seeing an article in early 2020 that found people with vitamin D deficiency who were randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation had much lower rates of viral respiratory infections compared to those who did not receive supplementation. He decided to examine data being collected at UChicago Medicine on COVID-19 to determine the role that vitamin D levels might be playing.

“There’s a lot of literature on vitamin D. Most of it has been focused on bone health, which is where the current standards for sufficient vitamin D levels come from,” Meltzer explained. “But there’s also some evidence that vitamin D might improve immune function and decrease inflammation. So far, the data has been relatively inconclusive. Based on these results, we think that earlier studies may have given doses that were too low to have much of an effect on the immune system, even if they were sufficient for bone health. It may be that different levels of vitamin D are adequate for different functions.”

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“..not the more expansive spending Biden envisions to create jobs, fight climate change and stand up to a rising China..”

Republicans Dangle ‘Easy’ Win For Trimmed Biden Plan (F24)

Republicans opened the door Sunday to supporting a pared down version of Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, saying concentrating on physical improvements would deliver an “easy bipartisan win” for the US president. Biden’s American Jobs Plan — the second massive spending initiative of his 10-week old administration, after a $1.9 trillion short-term Covid rescue bill — would modernize America’s public works and make its energy system greener. But the proposal announced last week faces major hurdles in Congress amid criticism from Republicans and business lobbies who oppose the higher corporate taxes that would pay the bill.

Roy Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, implored Democrats to focus on the traditional pillars of infrastructure — “roads, bridges, ports and airports” — and not the more expansive spending Biden envisions to create jobs, fight climate change and stand up to a rising China. Blunt spoke out as senior administration figures hit the Sunday talk show circuit to sell the policy to the American people as a vital component of sustained job growth. “I’ve reached out to the White House a couple of times now and said, you’ve got an easy bipartisan win here if you’ll keep this package nearly focused on infrastructure,” Blunt told ABC’s “This Week.”

That would not prevent the administration from later pushing through the other aspects of its plan on a partisan basis, he said. Blunt complained that the package contained more for electric vehicle charging stations than for physical improvements. “When people think about infrastructure, they’re thinking about roads, bridges, ports and airports,” he told ABC. Blunt, a senior member of Senate leadership team, struck a more conciliatory tone than the chamber’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who had earlier vowed to fight the Biden plan “every step of the way.”

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It’s become fully abstract.

US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months (WS)

It finally happened, that glorious moment, when, after teetering on the verge for weeks – for reasons we’ll get into shortly – the incredibly spiking US gross national debt, after kissing the line a couple of times for a moment, finally, and suddenly by a big leap, jumped over the $28-trillion mark, with a $143-billion leap in one day on Wednesday, March 31, following some big Treasury sales. It gave some of that up on Thursday as some bonds matured. And it now amounts to $28.08 trillion, as per US Treasury Department on Friday. The US gross national debt has now spiked by $4.7 trillion in 13 months since the end of February 2020, in the days before this show started.

The flat spots in the chart are the visual depictions of a charade unique to American politics, the periods when the debt bounced into the Debt Ceiling. Those were the days when everyone in Congress was still trying to hijack the Debt Ceiling law to get their favorite spending priorities! If it looks like the trillions have been whizzing by a little less fast in recent months, that the growth of the debt has somehow slowed, that is correct. The chart below magnifies the daily debt levels since December. On March 3, the debt level touched $28 trillion but only barely and just for one day, before backing off, and then kissed it again on March 17, only to back off again and remain tantalizingly close, but no cigar, until Wednesday, when it did the deed with one huge $148-billion leap:

The reason for this slowdown in borrowing is that the government sold a gigantic amount of debt last spring, adding $3 trillion to its debt in a few months, and then didn’t spend all of it, but kept the unspent amounts in its checking account – the General Treasury Account or GTA — which ballooned to $1.8 trillion by July, from the pre-crisis range between $100 billion and $400 billion. During the final months of the Mnuchin Treasury, it was decided to start spending down the balance in the checking account by borrowing a little less, and by early January, the GTA had dropped to $1.6 trillion.

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Erdogan wants to dig a new canal and bypass the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Turkey and the Suez ‘Heart Attack’ (K.)

Turkey continues to threaten to depart from the 1936 Montreux Convention that governs free shipping through the Bosporus strait. The accident in the Suez Canal served as the excuse for the speaker of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Sentop, to imply as much last week, even if he had to go back on his statement due to the tense situation between Ankara and Washington. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also proclaims this departure when he wants to utilize it geopolitically and when talking about his announced pharaonic intention of constructing a second canal in the Bosporus – one unregulated by international conventions. Could Turkey close the strait and block the passage of both merchant and military ships between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, depending on what serves its interests?

According to the Montreux Convention, merchant ships enjoy freedom of passage and navigation in the strait, irrespective of their flag and cargo. The convention allows Turkey to militarize the strait and permits the Black Sea countries freedom of passage for military ships provided they give a week’s notice, and substantially restricts the passage of military vessels that are not from the Black Sea states (notification of crossing, tonnage restrictions, armament restrictions, aircraft carriers cannot pass, and others). All of this in a time of peace, which, however, is threatened by Erdogan’s controversial views on the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the atmosphere in the Black Sea, reminiscent of the Cold War, where Ukraine is the epicenter of looming dark clouds and, according to analysts, will likely remain a source of global tension.

The Suez “heart attack” brought up questions on safe passage into and out of the Mediterranean, as much for the merchant fleets as the navies that move between the Red Sea, Gibraltar and the Bosporus, with the latter crossing attracting the attention of military and commercial organizations around the globe, given the volatile geopolitical situation in the wider region. Turkey, if it deems necessary, does not need to bar the gate to stop traffic in the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. All it has to do is conjure up an accident by scuppering two ships in the straits, without being accused of violating the Montreux Convention. That is why the West is feverishly readying the “continental straits” between Alexandroupoli and Burgas as an alternative, while NATO equips the fleets of Romania and Bulgaria.

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And he really wants to. These guys sent an open letter warning about the Montreux Convention and he just has them arrested.

Ten Retired Admirals Detained in Turkey as Erdogan Warns of New Coup (GR)

Turkey detained 10 retired admirals on Monday, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a new coup following a letter signed by more than 100 retired admirals warning about a possible threat to a treaty governing the use of Turkey’s key waterways. The Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office said arrest warrants have been issued for the 10. Prosecutors also ordered four other suspects to report to Ankara police within three days, opting not to detain them because of their age. The development comes a day after the letter was sharply condemned by the government, which said the move is “reminiscent of coup times” in Turkey’s past. Turkey’s approval last month of plans to develop a shipping canal in Istanbul comparable to the Panama or Suez canals has opened up debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention.


The admirals said in their letter that apart from its environmental impact, the new canal venture could undermine the Montreux accord. The convention guarantees the free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits of civilian vessels in times of both peace and war. It also regulates the use of the strait by military vessels from non-Black Sea states. The new canal would allow ships to transit between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea without passing through part of the straits that are covered by the treaty. The declaration has drawn strong reactions from the government and officials. Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said the statement is “reminiscent of coup periods” and made the former soldiers “a laughingstock.” “Know your place and stay where you are,” he added.

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Probe started in 2018 and he just found out yesterday?

Hunter Biden Is ‘100% Certain’ DOJ Probe Will Clear Him Of Wrongdoing (JTN)

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has expressed complete confidence that he will be cleared at the conclusion of the Justice Department’s probe into his finances. During a CBS Sunday Morning interview, Hunter Biden said that he is fully cooperating with the investigation. He said that he is “100% certain that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.” “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” he said in a statement back in December. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.” Fox News reported that “according to a source familiar with the matter,” the probe started in 2018.

Read more …

 

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Mar 202021
 
 March 20, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »


Gilles Mostaert Sodom and Gomorrah 1597

 

Joe Biden’s Dire Opening Chapter On The World Stage (Kimball)
Biden And Blinken’s Unprovoked Attacks On Russia And China Backfire (Ritter)
SecDef Austin Warns North Korea: US “Ready To Fight Tonight” (ZH)
Moscow Snubs Biden At UN, Only Sends Junior Diplomat To Virtual Summit (RT)
Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest (BBee)
Erdogan Says Biden Comments On Putin ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)
Erdogan Fires Second Central Bank Chief In 4 Months (ZH)
Fauci Claims Babies, Toddlers Need To Be Vaccinated For Herd Immunity (SN)
Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices
ONS Admits Ignoring Manufacturer Instructions in PCR Testing (LDS)
The ‘Independent’ Report Claiming Uyghur Genocide (CN)
UK Government Borrowing Hits February Record (BBC)
Toxic Chemicals, Plummeting Sperm Counts, Shrinking Penises (Erin Brockovich)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I am not sure whether air-sickness bags were deployed. It was Alaska, after all, so maybe they just opened the window.”

Joe Biden’s Dire Opening Chapter On The World Stage (Kimball)

Consider, to take a very recent example, the exchange between the United States secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the Chinese director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, known to admirers and lackeys as ‘Tiger Yang’. The venue was Anchorage, Alaska, where Messrs. Blinken and Yang, along with assorted colleagues and retainers, met for a free and frank exchange of views. On the run up to the meeting, Blinken talked tough. ‘This is an important opportunity for us to lay out in very frank terms,’ he said, ‘the many concerns we have with Beijing’s actions and behavior that are challenging the security, prosperity and values of the US and our allies.’ Very frank. It was the first high-level meeting between members of the Biden administration and their Chinese counterparts. To say that it was a public relations disaster for the US is to understate the case.

Blinken and his sidekick, Jake Sullivan, a Hillary Clinton factotum who is now national security adviser, sat down to read China the riot act. It was not a success. Blinken emitted carefully polished clichés about our ‘deep concern’ over Chinas actions with regard to Hong Kong, Taiwan and other hot spots, its bullying of various European countries, and its campaign of cyber attacks against the US. This behavior, said Blinken, consulting that great compendium of diplomatic nostrums he learned in school, threatens ‘the rules-based order that maintains global stability’. I am not sure whether air-sickness bags were deployed. It was Alaska, after all, so maybe they just opened the window. Yang, speaking through a translator, shot back: ‘You can’t blame this problem on somebody else.’ Blinken went on to say that now, under Joe Biden, the United States was ‘back’ (where did it go, Tony?) and was ‘reengaging’ with its allies on the world stage.

Here’s where that short imperative I mentioned came in. The United States, said Yang, in one of the most dismissive diplomatic rejoinders I have ever heard, does not have the ‘qualifications’ to address China ‘from a position of strength’. F, my dear Blinken, you. [..] The Anchorage outrage was not an isolated incident. On the contrary, though it is early days yet in the Biden-Harris (or Harris-Biden) administration, a pattern of contempt for America and its leaders seems to be taking hold. In the course of a ‘what-flavor-is-your-milkshake’ valen- er, interview with George ‘I <3 Hillary’ Stephanopoulos, Biden was asked if he thought Russian president Vladimir Putin was a ‘killer’. He answered yes, in response to which Putin said he wished Biden the best of health and suggested they livestream a debate. Can you imagine what that would be like?

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It’s not fully impossible that they got what they wanted.

Biden And Blinken’s Unprovoked Attacks On Russia And China Backfire (Ritter)

In attacking the moral character of Russia’s president and China’s human rights record, the Biden administration opened the door for a critical examination of America’s own troubled history.President Joe Biden has defined his administration with the mantra of “America is back,” hinting at a return to what he and his supporters believe to be the halcyon days of President Barack Obama’s two-term tenure as president, as well as a sharp departure from the policies and practices of the man who usurped Hillary Clinton’s bite at the presidential apple, Donald Trump. In an effort to “build back better,” as Biden is wont to exclaim, his administration has embraced an ambitious agenda that aggressively seeks to both promote and install America as the world’s indispensable nation.

And yet, in the span of less than 24 hours, the president and his primary foreign policy advisor, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, managed to undermine the very policies they sought to promote through a combination of narcissistic posturing and plain diplomatic incompetence. By labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “soulless killer,” Biden put US-Russian relations in their worst posture since the Cold War. And Blinken, during the Biden administration’s initial meeting between the US and China, managed to unleash the ire and rage of Beijing by forgoing any pretense at diplomatic norms and aggressively calling out China on a host of issues which touched upon its sovereignty. The collapse of what passed for a coordinated position of diplomatically confronting both Russia and China has left the US scrambling to navigate through the detritus of its own policy shipwreck.

[..] If Biden and Psaki believed that US-Russian relations would return to square one following Biden’s undiplomatic insult, Putin quickly put that notion to bed. “The US authorities in general seek certain relations with us but only in areas the US is interested in, and on their own terms,” Putin said. “They think that we are just like them but we aren’t. Our genetic, cultural and moral codes are different. However, we know how to protect our interests. We will work with them [the US], but only in areas we are interested in and on terms we find favorable. They will have to take it into account, despite attempts to stop our development, sanctions and insults. We will be guided by our national interests when boosting relations with all countries, including the United States,” he concluded.

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The plan: Biden does Putin, Blinken does China, Austin does North Korea. Coincidence?

SecDef Austin Warns North Korea: US “Ready To Fight Tonight” (ZH)

In an unusually blunt threat and warning even for the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that US forces are ready to “fight tonight” in comments aimed at North Korea after an angry Pyongyang denounced the resumption of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. “Our force remains ready to fight tonight, and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command,” Austin said on Thursday.

He issued the words from Seoul at the tail end of his Asia trip this week alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean leaders. Secretary Blinken had continued his denuclearization of the peninsula message, saying, “We are committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, reducing the broader threat the DPRK poses to the United States and our allies, and improving the lives of all Koreans, including the people of North Korea who continue to suffer widespread and systematic abuses at the hands of their repressive government.”

Pyongyang on Thursday slammed what DPRK first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui called a “lunatic” and “hostile” policy. The senior North Korean diplomat said of the question of denuclearization talks that there will be no contact with Washington “unless the US rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK.” She said further: “Therefore, we will disregard such an attempt of the US in the future, too.” The “new regime” in the US, she added, had only put forward a “lunatic theory of ‘threat from north Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearisation'”. The Biden administration has reportedly been attempting to reach out to the North via various diplomatic channels since mid-February, but to no avail.

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“Russia’s diplomatic mission was the only one that did not send its top figure to greet the American president.”

Moscow Snubs Biden At UN, Only Sends Junior Diplomat To Virtual Summit (RT)

Russia was the only nation that refused to send its top UN representative to talks with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, electing instead to dispatch a junior envoy, as a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington worsens. President Biden had invited permanent representatives from the United Nations Security Council, on which Moscow has continuous representation, to discuss his country’s “commitment to values-based global leadership.” In addition, the president called for action on crises in regions across the world, including Myanmar, Ethiopia, Syria, and Yemen. However, Dmitry Polyanskiy, second-in-command to Russia’s permanent representative, Vassily Nebenzia, confirmed on Friday that neither had attended the meeting.


Instead, he revealed, Anna Evstigneeva, one of three more junior deputies, had joined the talks with Biden in their place. She reportedly made no remarks. RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s diplomatic mission was the only one that did not send its top figure to greet the American president. The decision comes amid a week in which Biden and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, have traded barbs in the press. In an explosive interview with ABC earlier this week, Biden was asked whether he thought Putin was a killer. “Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied. On Thursday, the Russian leader responded, arguing that judging other countries is often “like looking in a mirror.” “When I was a kid, when we were arguing with each other in the playground, we used to say, ‘Whatever you say [about others] is what you are yourself,’” Putin said.

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“The winner of the contest will gain control of the other country.”

Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest (BBee)

Vladimir Putin has challenged Joe Biden to a contest of wits, strength, and cunning: a stair-ascending contest. The winner of the contest will gain control of the other country. “Stair-ascending contest, me and you, right now, let’s go,” said Putin as he met with the American president. “He who wins become supreme glorious leader forever of other puny weak man.” Biden agreed to the contest, though it wasn’t clear he knew who this man was or where they were. “3… 2… 1… climb!” shouted the referee before firing off a pistol. Biden got off to a rocky start as he was startled by the gunshot and scurried off in the wrong direction. Putin, meanwhile, just walked up the stairs.


Biden started gaining on him as his handlers corralled him and pointed him in the right direction, but he kept falling over and tumbling down the stairs. It all looked good for Russia until Putin had to stop a few times to sign execution papers for journalists who criticized him, squandering his lead. Finally, Biden jumped in a stair lift and started to close the gap, but it was too little, too late, and Putin emerged at the top of the 30-step staircase victorious. Well, thanks to Biden losing the stair contest, we are now part of Russia. We also just want to say that Vladimir Putin is one fine fellow and a fantastic man, and he deserved to win and we welcome him as our new leader for life.

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Easy.

Erdogan Says Biden Comments On Putin ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Joe Biden’s comments about Russia’s Vladimir Putin, in which he said he thought he was a killer, were “unacceptable” and unfitting of a U.S. president. In a TV interview broadcast on Wednesday, Biden said “I do” when asked if he believed Putin was a killer, prompting U.S.-Russia ties to sink to a new low. Putin later responded that “he who said it, did it.” “Mr. Biden’s statements about Mr. Putin are not fitting of a president, and a president coming out and using such remarks against the president of a country like Russia is truly unacceptable, not something that can be stomached,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.


“In my opinion, Mr. Putin has done what is necessary by giving a very, very smart and elegant answer,” he added. Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues in recent years including Turkey’s record on human rights and freedoms, its acquisition of Russian defence systems and policy differences in Syria. The United States, which along with other western allies has accused Ankara of straying from NATO and the western bloc, last year imposed sanctions on Turkey over the Russian defences. Turkey called that a “grave mistake”.

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Not so easy. Erdogan still wants to control what he can’t.

Erdogan Fires Second Central Bank Chief In 4 Months (ZH)

On Thursday, moments after the Central Bank of Turkey unexpectedly hiked rates by a whopping 200bps – double the consensus expectation – to 19% from 17%, the highest rate since the country’s panicked scramble to contain the collapse of the Turkish lira during the economic turmoil of 2018, we said that “unfortunately for Turkey – whose economy will now grind to yet another halt – it had no choice: inflation had accelerated for a fifth month in February as oil rallied and the impact of last year’s lira weakness lingered, while capital outflows soared. The upward trend fueled expectations the central bank would try to rein in prices by raising interest rates… but nobody had expected a 200 bps rate hike.”

Also in our kneejerk response to the rate hike decision, we said that the relatively new CBRT head, Agbal, “was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t: on one hand the lira was plunging angering Erdogan, so he had to stabilize it… on the other the only way to do so was by hiking rates, which would anger Erdogan even more.” We also quoted from the CBRT’s decision, noting that the bank has decided “to implement a front-loaded and strong additional monetary tightening,” explicitly stating that this “statement is guaranteed to enrage Turkey’s dictator.” Bottom line: Erdogan would be furious either way.

Finally, we quoted SocGen EM strategist Phoenix Kalen who tried to justify the rate hike with some lofty sleight of logic by saying that “in a challenging context of domestic business and political pressure against further interest rate hikes, the CBRT has stepped up to the plate and delivered a resounding home run to underline its commitment to an inflation-targeting framework.” Kalen then said that the move “will go a long way toward bolstering both retail and foreign investor confidence that the CBRT under Governor Agbal will stay engaged in addressing deterioration in inflation expectations.” While we were impressed with Kalen’s attempt to make 5-D chess out of what was basically total chaos, our take was far more cynical Maybe… or maybe it will just force Erdogan to replace yet another CBRT governor.

Two days later, our cynical view proved correct again, because shortly after midnight on Saturday, and just two days after the larger than expected rate hike, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the country’s third central bank governor in less than two years and replaced him with a fan of lowering interest rates. Naci Agbal, Turkey’s former finance minister who was appointed central bank chief last November, was fired by Erdogan and was replaced with Sahap Kavcioglu, according to a decree published after midnight on Saturday in the Official Gazette. Agbal’s abrupt termination is a clear retaliation by Erodgan for last week’s unexpectedly big rate hike, one which does not fit within the absurd confines of “Erdoganomics” whereby lower rates are somehow needed to fight inflation.

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How scary would you like it?

Fauci Claims Babies, Toddlers Need To Be Vaccinated For Herd Immunity (SN)

Dr Anthony Fauci has claimed that in order for herd immunity against coronavirus to be reached in the US, children and even babies will have to be vaccinated. Speaking during a Senate hearing, the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration said “I think we should be careful about wedding ourselves to this concept of herd immunity because we really do not know precisely, for this particular virus, what that is.” “We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape. We ultimately would like to get and have to get children into that mix,” Fauci added. Appearing later on CBS News, Fauci outlined plans to vaccinate children as young as six month old babies early next year.


On Wednesday, Fauci dismissed concerns that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could impact children’s genetics. “We’re going to be looking at multiple aspects of safety,” Fauci told reporters, adding “There is really no biological reason at all to indicate or even predict that you would even see any modification of a genetic profile when you’re dealing with mRNA, which has no way of integrating into the genome of a cell.” Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both currently running tests of their mRNA vaccines in children. Moderna has also revealed that it has a study underway in children under 12 that will eventually include those as young as six month old babies. CDC figures show that of almost 400,000 US deaths counted as from COVID-19, just 93 were children 4-years-old and younger.

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“As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us..”

Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices (IC)

THE U.S. pharmaceutical firms behind the approved coronavirus vaccines — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — have quietly touted plans to raise prices on coronavirus vaccines in the near future and to capitalize on the virus’s lasting presence. While the companies have enjoyed a boost in goodwill from the rush to develop vaccines, drug industry executives have noted, the public is still sensitive to drug pricing and the reputational risk has, so far, curtailed their ability to reap large financial rewards. But that environment, they hope, will change once the pandemic ends: a date that drugmakers themselves reserve the right to declare. Pharmaceutical officials, speaking at recent conferences and on calls with investors, say they expect the virus will linger, morphing from a pandemic into a perennial endemic.

And as Covid-19 mutations continue to spread and booster shots may be required on a regular basis, leaders from the three companies are enthusiastic about cashing in. “As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us,” said Frank D’Amelio, the chief financial officer for Pfizer, at a conference. Additional factors, such as the need for booster shots, present “a significant opportunity for our vaccine from a demand perspective, from a pricing perspective, given the clinical profile of our vaccine.” Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also pledged affordability for their vaccines for the duration of the pandemic but have indicated to investors that they plan to return to more “commercial” pricing as early as later this year.

The vaccines are already poised to be some of the most lucrative drugs of all time. The companies are expecting to bring in billions in profit this year alone, and all the major drugmakers with approved coronavirus vaccines received investments and backorders from government agencies. The U.S. government has fully financed the research and development of several coronavirus vaccines, including those produced by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to the tune of over $2 billion. The U.S. has also provided nearly $2 billion in payments to secure doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which was developed in partnership with BioNTech, a company that received nearly $500 million in development assistance from the German government.

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“..it has been reporting PCR tests as positive when only a single coronavirus gene is detected..”

“Between a quarter and two thirds of positive results were affected..”

ONS Admits Ignoring Manufacturer Instructions in PCR Testing (LDS)

The Office for National Statistics has admitted that in its Covid infection survey it has been reporting PCR tests as positive when only a single coronavirus gene is detected, despite this being contrary to the instructions of the manufacturer that two or more target genes must be found before a positive result can be declared. According to a rapid response in the BMJ this week by Dr Martin Neil, a statistics professor at the University of London, targeting only a single gene in this way massively increases the risk of a false positive because of the possibility of cross-reactivity with other coronaviruses as well as prevalent bacteria or other contamination. Digging into the detail of the methods followed by the lighthouse laboratories which process the tests for the ONS, Professor Neil writes:

“The kit used by the Glasgow and Milton Keynes lighthouse laboratories is the ThermoFisher TaqPath RT-PCR which tests for the presence of three target genes from SARS-COV-2. Despite Corman et al originating the use of PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 genes there is no agreed international standard for SARS-COV-2 testing. Instead, the World Health Organisation (WHO) leaves it up to the manufacturer to determine what genes to use and instructs end users to adhere to the manufacturer instructions for use. The WHO’s emergency use assessment for the ThermoFisher TaqPath kit includes the instruction manual and contained therein is an interpretation algorithm describing an unequivocal requirement that two or more target genes be detected before a positive result can be declared.

The latest revision of ThermoFisher’s instruction manual contains the same algorithm. The WHO have been sufficiently concerned about correct use of RT-PCR kits that on January 20th 2021 they issued a notice for PCR users imploring them to review manufacturer instructions for use carefully and adhere to them fully. The ONS’s report of December 5th 2020 lists SARS-CoV-2 positive results for valid two and three target gene combinations and the report of December 21st does the same, for samples processed by the Glasgow and Milton Keynes lighthouse laboratories. However, it also lists single gene detections as positive results.” Between a quarter and two thirds of positive results were affected, Professor Neil found.

“Over the period reported the maximum weekly percentage of positives on a single gene is 38% for the whole of the UK for the week of February 1st. The overall UK average was 23%. The maximum percentage reported is 65%, in East England in the week beginning October 5th. In Wales it was 50%, in Northern Ireland it is 55% and in Scotland it was 56%. The full data including averages and maxima/minima are given in.”

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We need more questions for this narrative.

The ‘Independent’ Report Claiming Uyghur Genocide (CN)

The report relies most substantially on the “expertise” of Adrian Zenz, the far-right evangelical ideologue, whose “scholarship” on China has been demonstrated to be flawed, riddled with falsehoods and dishonest statistical manipulation. The reliance on the voluminous but demonstrably fraudulent work of Zenz is not surprising, given that the report was financed by the Newlines Institute’s parent organization, the Fairfax University of America (FXUA). FXUA is a disgraced institution that Virginia state regulators moved to shut down in 2019 after finding that its “teachers weren’t qualified to teach their assigned courses”, academic quality was “patently deficient,” and plagiarism was “rampant” and ignored.

Just days before the Newlines Institute published its “expert” report accusing China of genocide, an advisory board to the U.S. Department of Education recommended terminating recognition of FXUA’s accreditor, placing its license in jeopardy. The Newlines report presents no new material on the condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. Instead, it claims to have reviewed all of “the available evidence” and applied “international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.” Rather than conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of “the available evidence,” the report restricted its survey to a narrow range of flawed pseudo-scholarship along with reports by U.S. government-backed lobbying fronts for the exiled Uyghur separatist movement. It was upon this faulty foundation that the report applies legal analysis related to the UN Genocide Convention.

Newlines’ report relies primarily on the dubious studies of Zenz, the U.S. government propaganda outlet, Radio Free Asia, and claims made by the U.S.-funded separatist network, the World Uyghur Congress. These three sources comprise more than one-third of the references used to construct the factual basis of the document, with Zenz as the most heavily relied upon source – cited on more than 50 occasions. Many of the remaining references cite the work of members of Newlines Institute’s “Uyghur Scholars Working Group,” of which Zenz is a founding member and which is made up of a small group of academics who collaborate with him and support his conclusions.

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Well, well. Get your MMT at the BBC.

UK Government Borrowing Hits February Record (BBC)

Ultimately, if it’s consistently spending much more than it has in the past, the state has to raise more money in taxes. But the key word there is “ultimately”. There is no urgency to repaying the government’s debt. More urgent are the debts of small businesses and poorer households. Ordinary households rightly fear getting into too much debt because if interest rates rise, lenders can close in and deploy lawyers and bailiffs with all the attendant unpleasantness. But it is profoundly wrong and misleading to infer that it’s like that for governments who issue their own sovereign currency. Unlike households, governments controlling their own currency can borrow without limit money that they have freshly created.


They therefore can’t go bankrupt. Because almost all of the money borrowed by the government in this financial year (by issuing gilts) will be owed to another public sector body, the Bank of England, it’s nothing like a household borrowing from a bank. And in fact, as the government tacitly acknowledged in its recent Budget, it makes sense in the midst of an economic contraction for the government to spend more, not less – not least because other parts of the economy (households and businesses) aren’t spending anything like what they normally would. Without the additional government spending the economic contraction would, without a shadow of a doubt, be worse.

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We’ll defeat ourselves yet.

Toxic Chemicals, Plummeting Sperm Counts, Shrinking Penises (Erin Brockovich)


The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn’t the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now? The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting.

Some of them, called PFAS, are known as “forever chemicals”, because they don’t breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Now, it seems, humanity is reaching a breaking point. Swan’s book is staggering in its findings. “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had. “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” writes Swan, adding: “It’s a global existential crisis.” That’s not hyperbole. That’s just science.

As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, Swan’s research finds that these chemicals aren’t just dramatically reducing semen quality, they are also shrinking penis size and volume of the testes. This is nothing short of a full-scale emergency for humanity. Swan’s book echoes previous research, which has found that PFAS harms sperm production, disrupts the male hormone and is correlated to a “reduction of semen quality, testicular volume and penile length”. These chemicals are literally confusing our bodies, making them send mix messages and go haywire.

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Nov 072020
 


David Hockney The Big Tree in Autumn 30 October 2020

 

Gottlieb: Number Of New Daily US Covid Cases ‘At Least Half A Million’ (CNBC)
Human Recombinant Soluble ACE2 Shows Promise For Treating Severe COVID19 (Nat.)
Counties With Worst Virus Surges Overwhelmingly Voted Trump (AP)
Game-On for the Coup? (Anton)
Banana Follies: The Mother Of All Color Revolutions (Escobar)
Justice Alito Orders Late PA ballots Be Kept Separate (JTN)
Michigan County Flips Back To Trump After Repair Of Software Glitch (JTN)
Rate Of Rejected Mail-In Ballots 30 Times Lower In PA Than In 2016 (JTN)
‘The Hammer’ And ‘Scorecard’: Weapons Of Mass (Vote) Manipulation?
With or Without (Kunstler)
Erdogan Fires Turkish Central Bank Governor (ZH)

 

 

Good find: Trump concession speech

 

 

Keep in mind, these “cases” are really “positive PCR tests”. The virus is endemic.

Gottlieb: Number Of New Daily US Covid Cases ‘At Least Half A Million’ (CNBC)

Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Friday offered a dismal assessment of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, suggesting the real number of new infections per day is more than 500,000 — more than four times the current record of daily new diagnosed Covid-19 cases. That record came Thursday, when 121,888 new infections were reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A day earlier, the country saw its daily case count top 100,000 for the first time ever, part of a trend of record-high daily infections as the country’s epidemic ascends further into its third peak ahead of the holiday season.

“Remember 120,000 cases aren’t 120,000 cases. We’re probably, at best, diagnosing 1 in 5 cases right now, maybe a little bit less than that, so this is at least half a million cases a day, probably more in terms of actual numbers of infection,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” The situation also is unlikely to improve without targeted interventions to reduce transmission in the hardest-hit states, according to Gottlieb, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner under President Donald Trump. “But we’re not doing that right now,” he said. “We’re building up a lot of trouble for the future, and I think that this is going to explode in several weeks.”

“You have to be really worried what January is going to look like, what December is going to look like right now given the way this is rising,” added Gottlieb. The worrisome indicators extend beyond just case counts, Gottlieb said. Hospitalization data is troubling, he said. The average number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 is up by at least 5% in 36 states, according to a CNBC analysis of data from the Covid Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic. [..] In the U.S. overall, more than 53,000 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project. More than 10,000 people are in intensive care units, Gottlieb said. “That’s a lot, and it’s growing very quickly.”

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Not sure I follow the entire thing.

Human Recombinant Soluble ACE2 Shows Promise For Treating Severe COVID19 (Nat.)

ACE2 is a crucial receptor target of SARS-CoV-2, which plays a vital role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19, as it enables viral entry into target cells (Fig. 1). The binding affinity between ACE2 and the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein is 10- to 20-fold higher compared to that with the RBD of SARS-CoV, which likely underpins the higher pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infections. ACE2 is a transmembrane protein typically known for its carboxypeptidase activity and its physiological role in the renin-angiotensin system. ACE2 hydrolyzes angiotensin II to its metabolite, angiotensin 1–7 and angiotensin I to angiotensin 1–9 to protect diverse tissues from injury (Fig. 1). ACE2 is expressed in several human organs at varying levels. It is highly expressed in the lungs (on the surface of type II alveolar epithelial cells), heart (on myocardial cells, coronary vascular endothelial cells, and vascular smooth muscle), kidney (on proximal tubule cells), and small intestine (on the enterocytes).

While membrane-bound ACE2 may mediate cell entry of SARS-CoV-2, a genetically modified soluble form of ACE2, called hrsACE2, may decrease cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 competing for membrane-bound ACE2. APN001 is a hrsACE2 designed by Apeiron Biologics to imitate the human enzyme ACE2. As such, it may decrease cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 to minimize lung injury, and multiple organ dysfunction (Fig. 1). Experimental support for this theoretical idea has come from in vitro studies showing that hrsACE2 reduces viral growth of SARS-CoV-2 by a factor of 1000–5000 in cell-culture, engineered human blood vessels and kidney organoids.4 To date, hrsACE2 has been documented to be safe and tolerable in 89 healthy volunteers in phase-I studies and patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome in phase-II clinical studies. APN01 as a promising therapeutic against COVID-19 has appealing potential and sound underlying scientific rationale.

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Not surprising.

Counties With Worst Virus Surges Overwhelmingly Voted Trump (AP)

U.S. voters went to the polls starkly divided on how they see President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. But in places where the virus is most rampant now, Trump enjoyed enormous support. An Associated Press analysis reveals that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority — 93% of those counties — went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas. Most were rural counties in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin — the kinds of areas that often have lower rates of adherence to social distancing, mask-wearing and other public health measures, and have been a focal point for much of the latest surge in cases.

Taking note of the contrast, state health officials are pausing for a moment of introspection. Even as they worry about rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, they hope to reframe their messages and aim for a reset on public sentiment now that the election is over. “Public health officials need to step back, listen to and understand the people who aren’t taking the same stance” on mask-wearing and other control measures, said Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “I think there’s the potential for things to get less charged and divisive,” he said, adding that there’s a chance a retooled public health message might unify Americans around lowering case counts so hospitals won’t get swamped during the winter months.

The electoral divide comes amid an explosion in cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. and globally. The U.S. broke another record in the 7-day rolling average for daily new cases, hitting nearly 90,000. The tally for new cases Thursday was on track for another day above 100,000, with massive numbers reported all around the country, including a combined nearly 25,000 in Texas, Illinois and Florida. Iowa and Indiana each reported more than 4,000 cases as well.

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Weird turnout rates.

Game-On for the Coup? (Anton)

[..] throughout election day, the president consistently outperformed the polls. He crushed his 2016 performance in Florida. He also outperformed in Iowa, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas. Senators he was supposed to drag down with him, including Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell, won handily. Even Susan Collins, who was supposed to be sure goner and lose by at least three, won by nine. A party that was “certain” to lose the Senate has kept it and gained (so far) six seats in the House. Looking at states no one expected Trump to lose, his overperformance is even more stark. The polling average for West Virginia was Trump +17; he won it by 39. Kansas was estimated at +9; the result was +15.

Throughout the day the president was also outperforming his expected result in key states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He even, for a time, looked like he was within striking distance in Virginia, a state Hillary Clinton won by five points in 2016. At one point the New York Times’s “meter” had Trump’s chances in North Carolina at 92%. The needle was also sliding in the president’s direction in Arizona and Georgia, among others. And then, suddenly, the counting stopped in at least five states (or parts of states): Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; all but one with a Democratic governor (coincidence, surely!).

When has that ever happened? Well, it happened in Broward County, Florida, in 2018, when a dodgy Democratic election official appeared to be intervening, illicitly, on her party’s behalf. The process only got back underway when the state’s (Republican) governor intervened and had her removed from the process. But getting back to election night, some time in the wee hours, additional ballots were “found” and added to early totals which had Trump ahead. To no one’s surprise, those votes were overwhelmingly—literally as much as 100% in some batches—for Biden. According to Nate Silver, no one’s idea of a Trumpist, one tranche of 23,277 votes that turned up in Philadelphia were “all for Biden.” Absent some kind of harvesting or fraud (or both), that’s a logical and statistical impossibility.

Through the night, all such ballots came from heavily Democratic areas posting unusually, improbably high turnout. 85% in Milwaukee? A city that turned out at only 61% in 2016, and even with Obama on the ballot in 2012, at 71%? But 85% for Sleepy Joe? According to one report, seven Milwaukee precincts returned more presidential votes than they have registered voters. Turnout in Wisconsin overall is alleged to have been 89.25%, more than five standard deviations for the state’s mean turnout since 1960—another statistical impossibility. [..] Why stop the count? Because that’s the only way to know how many votes you need to “win.” Sure, you can just brute force things by backing up a truck full of ballots. But that looks bad. You might even end up counting more votes than there are registered voters in the state. Better to eke out a narrow win. As Joseph Kennedy, Sr. allegedly said to his second son, “I’m not paying for a landslide.”

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It was all gamed?

Banana Follies: The Mother Of All Color Revolutions (Escobar)

A gaming exercise of the perfect, indigenous color revolution, code-named Blue, was leaked from a major think tank established in the imperial lands that first designed the color revolution concept. Not all the information disclosed here about the gaming of Blue has been declassified. That may well elicit a harsh response from the Deep State, even as a similar scenario was gamed by an outfit called Transition Integrity Project. Both scenarios should qualify as predictive programming – with the Deep State preparing the general public, in advance, for exactly how things will play out. The standard color revolution playbook rules usually start in the capital city of nation-state X, during an election cycle, with freedom fighting “rebels” enjoying full national and international media support.

Blue concerns a presidential election in the Hegemon. In the gaming exercise, the incumbent president, codenamed Buffoon, was painted Red. The challenger, codenamed Corpse, was painted Blue. Blue – the exercise – went up a notch because, compared to its predecessors, the starting point was not a mere insurgency, but a pandemic. Not any pandemic, but a really serious, bad to the bone global pandemic with an explosive infection fatality rate of less than 1%. By a fortunate coincidence, the lethal pandemic allowed Blue operators to promote mail-in ballots as the safest, socially distant voting procedure. That connected with a rash of polls predicting an all but inevitable Blue win in the election – even a Blue Wave.

The premise is simple: take down the economy and deflate a sitting president whose stated mission is to drive a booming economy. In tandem, convince public opinion that actually getting to the polls is a health hazard. The Blue production committee takes no chances, publicly announcing they would contest any result that contradicts the prepackaged outcome: Blue’s final victory in a quirky, anachronistic, anti-direct democracy body called the “electoral college”. If Red somehow wins, Blue would wait until every vote is counted and duly litigated to every jurisdiction level. Relying on massive media support and social media marketing propelled to saturation levels, Blue proclaims that “under no scenario” Red would be allowed to declare victory.

Election Day comes. Vote counting is running smoothly – mail-in count, election day count, up to the minute tallies – but mostly favoring Red, especially in three states always essential for capturing the presidency. Red is also leading in what is characterized as “swing states”. But then, just as a TV network prematurely calls a supposedly assured Red state for Blue, all vote counting stops before midnight in major urban areas in key swing states under Blue governors, with Red in the lead. Blue operators stop counting to check whether their scenario towards a Blue victory can roll out without bringing in mail-in ballots. Their preferred mechanism is to manufacture the “will of the people” by keeping up an illusion of fairness. Yet they can always rely, as Plan B, on urban mail-in ballots on tap, hot and cold, until Blue squeaks by in two particularly key swing states that Red had bagged in a previous election.

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“Initial Supreme Court order to segregate ballots received after Election Day ignored by Pennsylvania counties, Justice Alito issues SECOND order to segregate and separately count these disputed ballots!”

Justice Alito Orders Late PA ballots Be Kept Separate (JTN)

Justice Samuel Alito ordered Friday that any Pennsylvania ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day must be segregated and kept secure, and they must be counted separately. Election officials were already supposed to be doing that with the late-arriving ballots, but now they are under a Supreme Court order to comply. According to Alito’s Order, “… neither the applicant (PA GOP) nor the Secretary has been able to verify that all boards are complying with the Secretary’s guidance, which, it is alleged, is not legally binding on them.” Alito ordered the state to reply by 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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“47 counties [in Michigan] use this same software in the same capacity..”

Michigan County Flips Back To Trump After Repair Of Software Glitch (JTN)

An election-software glitch in Michigan’s Antrim County that had incorrectly directed Democratic votes to presidential candidate Joe Biden was fixed Friday, putting thousands of votes correctly into President Trump’s totals. The software had reportedly caused a significant number of votes to be allotted to Biden in a county that has for years been reliably red. In the presumed final count, Biden had originally led in the county by roughly 3,000 votes. Revised totals show that Trump won the county by around 2,500. Addressing the alleged software glitch, Michigan GOP Chairwoman Laura Cox said Friday during a press conference that “47 counties [in Michigan] use this same software in the same capacity.” “These counties that use this software need to closely examine their results for similar discrepancies,” she said.

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Strange number.

Rate Of Rejected Mail-In Ballots 30 Times Lower In PA Than In 2016 (JTN)

Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania so far this year have been accepted at almost 30 times the rate predicted by historical rejection numbers, raising potential questions in a state in which Democratic challenger Joe Biden is maintaining a lead of just several thousand votes. A county-by-county review by Just the News of accepted and rejected mail-in ballots throughout the state of Pennsylvania show that, when added up, the state only rejected 951 of 2,614,011 mail-in ballots this year, or a rate of 0.03%. That is significantly less than the historical rate of mail-in ballot rejection, which generally hovers around 1%. For first-time mail-in voters the rate can jump as high as 3%.

In 2016, the state saw about 266,208 mail-in ballots; just under 1% of them, 2,534, were rejected, roughly in line with historical expectations, according to the 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey. At that historical rate of rejection, around 26,000 mail-in ballots would be rejected from this year’s final Pennsylvania tally. Such numbers would not have been unexpected: Last month, for instance, the Bucks County Courier Times estimated that, based on predicted vote-by-mail turnout, around 28,000 Pennsylvanians might have had their ballots pulled, rather than the 951 that were ultimately dumped.

[..] Voting by mail, unsurprisingly, has a significantly higher rejection rate than voting in person. Voters who use mail-in ballots often make errors such as miswritten forms, non-matching signatures and improper vote tabulation. That number goes up for first-time mail-in voters, with rejected rates among that group sometimes reaching rates as high as 3%. Millions of Americans voted by mail for the first time during the 2020 election, largely out of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. In Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon, the race between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump was razor-thin, with nearly all the ballots counted and Biden leading by around 13,000 votes.

Sidney Powell “software glitches”

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Scorecard, Hammer, Dominion. Powerful tools that warrant much more scrutiny then they get.

‘The Hammer’ And ‘Scorecard’: Weapons Of Mass (Vote) Manipulation?

In February 2009, the Obama administration commandeered a powerful supercomputer system known as THE HAMMER. THE HAMMER includes an exploit application known as SCORECARD that is capable of hacking into elections and stealing the vote, according to CIA contractor-turned-whistleblower Dennis Montgomery, who designed and built THE HAMMER. THE WHISTLEBLOWER TAPES, confidential audio recordings released by U.S. DIstrict Judge G. Murray Snow’s courtroom in November 2015, revealed that SCORECARD was deployed by the Obama team against Florida election computers to steal the 2012 presidential election on behalf of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

SCORECARD is now being activated to steal the vote on behalf of Joe Biden once again. Biden utilized THE HAMMER and SCORECARD while running for Vice President in 2012. Votes are again being stolen on Joe Biden’s behalf as he runs for President of the United States in 2020. This time, SCORECARD is stealing votes in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona, according to Montgomery. SCORECARD steals elections by tampering with the computers at the transfer points of state election computer systems and outside third party election data vaults as votes are being transferred. SCORECARD uses a prismatic scoring algorithm that Montgomery created, to achieve the desired results by those that control THE HAMMER and SCORECARD.

In Florida, one of the transfer points is VR Systems Inc, based in Tallahassee. Software vendor VR Systems operates in eight U.S. states. The Democrats tested their technology during the Democrat party primaries. Otherwise Bernie Sanders would have won the 2020 nomination. SCORECARD was utilized on behalf of Joe Biden during the 2020 primary against Bernie Sanders. The Democrat primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders. CIA whistleblower Dennis Montgomery turned over a massive cache of illegally harvested surveillance and election data in August 2015 and December 2015 to the FBI and CIA under two immunity agreements that were granted to Montgomery by Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Curtis and FBI General Counsel James Baker.

Montgomery testified regarding SCORECARD and THE HAMMER while under oath and while being videotaped at the FBI’s secure Washington DC Field Office SCIF (Sensive Compartmented Information Facility). If CIA whistleblower Montgomery had lied about anything he would be in prison today for lying to the FBI. Montgomery is not in prison.

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“..a now lethal loss of faith in the essential fairness of American life and the institutions that were created to insure it.”

With or Without (Kunstler)

The matrix of interests, parties, and people styling themselves as The Resistance, who tried unsuccessfully to cough up Donald Trump like a hairball for four years, may finally succeed by harvesting the magical crop of mail-in ballots delivered by unicorns in the gathering darkness this post-election week of mathematical wonders. America walked wide-eyed into this signal institutional failure, the one that lowers us to the level of places in the world where the loincloth is a business suit and the only instrument of persuasion is a machete. The Attorney General, Mr. Barr, warned the country months ago in so many words that mail-in voting would invite massive fraud, and so it has gone, but exactly as predicted, in plain sight, shamelessly.

The Resistance dared to work this operation because there were no consequences to their previous seditions and felonies. Nobody ever answered for the many crimes of RussiaGate (and possibly never will). The lying slattern Christine Blasey Ford slunk back to her cushy life in California with a big GoFundMe bundle after defaming Judge Kavanaugh. Eric Ciaramella and his UkraineGate accomplices, IC Inspector General Michael Atkinson and Col. Alexander Vindman, never even faced an inquiry over their janky scheme. Judge Emmet Sullivan still refuses to follow the DC Circuit order to close the General Flynn case. Rep. Adam Schiff never paid any price for knowingly lying his ass off, nor did The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg are allowed to suppress the news and deform the public conversation because they’re more important than the rest of us, and they know better, too.

No consequences for these actors in a rough and dirty game, but great consequences for the USA — a now lethal loss of faith in the essential fairness of American life and the institutions that were created to insure it. Shame on us for letting it get this far.

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He will blame anybody but himself.

Erdogan Fires Turkish Central Bank Governor (ZH)

So what happens next? Well, for one, the latest firing will cement the reality that the Turkish central bank is now merely a branch of Erdogan’s executive presidency, one where the higher the inflation the lower the interest rates. More importantly for Turkey and its residents, Erdogan’s action will trigger a new and even more acute crisis for the Turkish lira, now that it is clear that Erdogan will resume another aggressive rate cut cycle. Only instead of sparking growth, the imminent rate cuts will end up destroying any “carry” currency value the Turkish lira may have had to western investors, leading to what will be a historic dump, perhaps as soon as Monday.


In short, we expect this to be the first salvo in what ultimately culminates as a full-blown currency crisis for the Turkish nation, and while Erdogan may try to impose capital controls, it won’t last for one simple reason: the Turkish central bank is almost out of FX reserves. And once those are gone, the Turkish lira will promptly go bidless and will follow in the footsteps of the Venezuela bolivar.

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 252020
 


Henri Matisse Sorrow of the King 1952

 

Politics Can Never Really ‘Follow The Science’ (G.)
Costco Sells Coronavirus Saliva Test Kits Online — Here’s What They Cost (Fox)
Long-Standing Claims Of Biden Corruption All But Confirmed (Schweizer/Bruner)
Chinese Hunter Biden Leaker: Over 10,000 Pictures Coming, More Videos (GP)
CNN’s Van Jones: Trump ‘Has Done Good Stuff For The Black Community’ (JTN)
Make America Jeffersonian Again (Escobar)
After 224 Years, Virginia To Let Judges Decide Sentences (DM)
Global Wealth Shrugs Off Pandemic To Hit $400 Trillion For First Time Ever (F.)
Capitalism Double-Bills: We Pay For Our Future To Be Stolen From Us (Cook)
France Recalls Turkey Envoy After Erdogan Says Macron Needs Mental Check (BBC)
BBC White Helmets ‘Documentary’ Targets Syria War Narratives Challengers (RT)
Amy Coney Barrett Adopts Local Troubled Youngster Named Hunter (BBee)

 

 

“Now he speaks for almost no one. He is making his own decisions, which is what we pay him to do.”

“In the end, political decision-making has to rest on personal judgment – there is no scientific manual to tell leaders what to do.”

Politics Can Never Really ‘Follow The Science’ (G.)

What happened to following the science? In the spring, when Boris Johnson and his scientific advisers were proceeding in lockstep, there was no disagreement about the necessity of shutting the country down. Now the government is coming to its own conclusions about what is needed, and the scientists on the Sage advisory group have started distancing themselves from No 10’s decisions. Critics complain that the politicians are chancing it rather than being led by the evidence. But as the German sociologist Max Weber argued a century ago, politics can never really follow the science. Pretending that it can is where the trouble starts. Weber believed that politics and science do not mix. In the end, political decision-making has to rest on personal judgment – there is no scientific manual to tell leaders what to do.

More to the point, scientists are not well suited to making those decisions. They want the facts to speak for themselves. That is wishful thinking: facts alone cannot tell us what to do. In politics, expecting the evidence to point the way does not reduce the arbitrariness of the outcome. All political choices are arbitrary to a degree. Using statistics to justify difficult decisions just makes them appear more arbitrary for anyone who happens to disagree. The widespread consensus in March that a national lockdown was needed – shared not just by national politicians and their expert advisers, but by the public too – was not primarily driven by the science. It came from a joint conviction that things were getting out of control. Something had to be done. Most people began social distancing well before the government mandated it, and many stopped before the government told them it was safe.

In the spring, Johnson could plausibly claim to speak for the country as a whole when he took drastic action. Now he speaks for almost no one. He is making his own decisions, which is what we pay him to do. His problem is that he can’t admit it. He has to pretend that nakedly political judgments – about who gets what, and who pays the price – are being calibrated to a more nuanced understanding of the evidence. He is weighing up a virus whose health impacts are concentrated locally against economic consequences where the effects are national. Manchester v London is not a problem that can be solved by an algorithm or better stats.

Read more …

What happens when politics does follow science. The last thing you want is for the cost to keep people from being tested.

Costco Sells Coronavirus Saliva Test Kits Online — Here’s What They Cost (Fox)

A saliva PCR test kit alone costs $129.99, but the kit with a video observation costs $139.99 It turns out, you really can get everything at Costco. The wholesale retailer is now selling at-home coronavirus test kits on its website. The saliva PCR tests are administered by telemedicine platform AZOVA and cost $129.99 for just the test kit or $139.99 for the test kit with a “video observation,” according to the product descriptions. People who buy the $129.99 test kit are expected to get their results within 24-72 hours after the lab receives their kit. Those who buy the more expensive test can expect their results within 24-48 hours from when the kit gets to the lab.


A PCR test, according to the AZOVA website, is “a type of ‘molecular diagnostic test’” that is “much more sensitive than most antigen tests.” On the Costco website, the PCR tests are described as “the gold standard testing method with the most accurate sensitivity and specificity currently on the market.” And unlike many other coronavirus tests, the AZOVA saliva test doesn’t involve “a painful nasal swab,” the product description says. According to the product pages, the tests are FSA eligible and have been authorized by the FDA under the Emergency Use Act. The tests are “highly accurate, with a sensitivity of 98% (meaning 98% of positive tests are correct) and a specificity of 99% (meaning 99% of negative tests are correct),” the description says.

Read more …

What we know so far.

Long-Standing Claims Of Biden Corruption All But Confirmed (Schweizer/Bruner)

In response to [our 2018 book]“Secret Empires,” one of Joe Biden’s aides said “we aren’t going to engage on a politically motivated hit pieces …” Team Biden did not bother to respond to specific allegations that the Biden family vacuumed up millions, in the exact locales where Biden was Obama’s policy “point man.” When the issue reemerged during the campaign, Team Biden continued to call it a “conspiracy theory” but this time, Joe Biden firmly put himself on record. “I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses — period,” he told reporters in August 2019. “I never talk with my son or my brother or anyone else in the distant family about their business interests, period.” He repeated similar blanket denials on numerous occasions. These denials all proved to be untruthful. Period.

We now know that Joe Biden met directly with his son’s Chinese business partner, Jonathan Li, in a Chinese hotel lobby on a fateful trip in 2013 (a trip that allowed Hunter to spend hours with his father, the vice president, on a transoceanic flight to Beijing aboard Air Force Two). Ten days later, Hunter landed an unprecedented $1 billion private equity deal, bankrolled by the Chinese government. But this was not the only meeting Joe Biden had with Biden family business partners. As the New York Post reported, e-mails on Hunter Biden’s hard drive reveal that on April 16, 2015, Joe Biden met with a high-level official of a controversial Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which had put Hunter on its board. And a recently unearthed photo shows that Vice President Biden met with Hunter’s Kazakh business associate in Washington D.C.

After first dismissing the gathering scandal as a “conspiracy theory,” the Biden team shifted to the position that Joe had never talked with his family about their business dealings, then shifted again to the position that he’d never met with his family’s business partners. Now, with the latest document revelations, Joe Biden unveiled his latest defense in the recent debate: “I have not taken a single penny from any country whatsoever, ever.” Team Biden points to Joe and Jill Biden’s tax returns as evidence that Joe did nothing improper. It is worth noting that the family members upon whom foreign entities showered money are not required to disclose their finances.

We now know the Biden paydays were anything but conspiracy theories. Hunter was getting roughly $1 million per year from Burisma. Treasury Department alerts reveal that Russian oligarch Elena Baturina wired $3.5 million to Biden’s interests. New text messages reveal that China Energy Company Ltd (CEFC) apparently paid $5 million to the Biden family. Another e-mail indicates Hunter demanded a $10 million per year “fee” from one of his Chinese business partners. There is no more doubt.

Read more …

Where did this guy come from? Where did he get the material?

Chinese Hunter Biden Leaker: Over 10,000 Pictures Coming, More Videos (GP)

The Chinese billionaire behind the website where explicit photographs and videos of Hunter Biden were leaked on Saturday night has warned that “there will be more than 10,000 pictures” and “more and more videos.” Lude (Wang DingGang), founder of Lude Media and part of the Whistle-Blower Movement that is aimed at exposing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was banned on Twitter soon after the leaks started. Undeterred, Lude began posting about the leaks on Parler, a freer speech alternative to Twitter, where he quickly gained thousands of followers. “There will more and more than 10000 pictures coming,” Lude wrote on the social network. “There will be more and more videos coming!” The explicit leaks are riddled with drugs and what appear to be prostitutes. They have called into question whether or not a Biden presidency would be a national security threat with the amount of blackmail material on his son.

Read more …

You heretic!

CNN’s Van Jones: Trump ‘Has Done Good Stuff For The Black Community’ (JTN)

CNN commentator Van Jones on Friday gave unexpected praise of President Trump during a roundtable, arguing that the president should be recognized more for what Jones said are the beneficial things his administration has done for black Americans. “… I get beat up by liberals every time I say it but I keep saying it, he has done good stuff for the Black community,” Jones, who is black himself, said during the panel discussion. “Opportunity Zone stuff, black college stuff, I worked with him on criminal stuff, I saw Donald Trump have African-American people, [formerly] incarcerated, in the White House, embraced them, treated them well.”


“There is a side to Donald Trump that I think he does not get enough credit for,” added Jones, who once served as an adviser for Barack Obama. The commentator during his remarks did express disappointment at Trump’s recent comparison of himself to Abraham Lincoln. He also said that Trump’s alleged “playing footsie on Twitter with … white nationalists organizations” turns off many black voters to Trump’s overall message. “[T]hat’s the tragedy of these mixed messages from the Trump White House,” he argued.

Read more …

“Self-evident truths” were back with a bang. One can’t make this stuff up.”

Make America Jeffersonian Again (Escobar)

The whole planet has every reason to be terminally puzzled at how all those lofty Enlightenment ideals Thomas Jefferson embedded in the 1776 Declaration of Independence ended up with… Trump vs. Biden. Jefferson borrowed freely from Locke, Rousseau, Hume to come up with an eminently quotable Greatest Hits, featuring “self-evident” truths such as “all men are created equal”, “unalienable rights”, and that searing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Well, Baudrillard would have dubbed the exercise a mere simulacrum, because in real life none of this uplifting rhetoric applied to Native Americans and enslaved Africans. Still, there’s something endlessly fascinating about these “self-evident truths”.


They actually radiated like Spinoza axioms, spawning abstract truths that can be extrapolated at will. Jefferson’s “self-evident truths” ended up creating the whole, massive structure of what we define as “Western liberal democracy”. So it’s no wonder that America – perennially self-described as “leader of the free world” – consider these “self-evident truths” as the basis of an ideal society. And it’s this messianic river of fervent truth flowing out of a Himalaya of Morality that leads Americans to dismiss as “malign actors” every nation or society that is judged to be “deviating” from such obvious evidence. Cut to a mini-remix of the last Trump-Biden presidential debate. In foreign policy terms, it went something like this.

The moderator is desperate to move on as she’s very much aware of time constraints and looming, incandescent clashes: “Now I want to move on to Defense. It’s established Russia and China are interfering in our election process…” Here’s classic “self-evident truth” material, delivered according to strict Council on Foreign Relations guidelines. Cut to Biden: any country that interferes with the American elections “will pay a price”. Russia’s “been involved, China has been involved to some degree, and Iran’s been involved.” They are interfering with “American sovereignty”. Rudy Giuliani was used “as a Russian pawn”. Trump is “unwilling” to confront Putin. Russia has “destabilized NATO” and is “paying bounties to kill Americans in Afghanistan.” And China “has to play by the rules” – or else.

Cut to Trump: “You mean the laptop from hell is another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax?” For the record: Joe Biden did blame the contents of son Hunter’s laptop from hell on Russia. And discussing North Korea, when Trump said he got along fine with Kim Jong-Un, Biden stated, “We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe.” Incidentally, Germany is and remains in Europe. And it’s quite something to see Biden acknowledging in public proven US industrial and political support to Nazism. So, inevitably, the laptop from hell had to show up. The FBI had Hunter Biden’s laptop since December 2019 – as it had issued a subpoena for it in the first place. And yet the FBI sat on the laptop for 11 months doing nothing.

That must have given plenty of time for those pesky Russians to steal the laptop and plant incriminating evidence. Well, not really. The FBI was busy mulling how to conduct an investigation on “money laundering”. And not on child porn – which, according to Giuliani, is the piece de resistance in the laptop. No one knows if these alleged “investigations” are ongoing. Now, the FBI and the Department of Justice have finally “concurred”: Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails were not part of a Russian disinformation campaign – directly contradicting what Joe Biden said in the debate. But then, right before the debate, a bombshell presser – including the FBI and Homeland Security – had announced those pesky Russians and Iranians were in fact “trying to influence opinion” on the US elections. “Self-evident truths” were back with a bang. One can’t make this stuff up.

Read more …

‘Jurors have no idea what a normal sentence is..’

After 224 Years, Virginia To Let Judges Decide Sentences (DM)

Virginia juries have been allowed to decide punishments for criminals for more than 200 years, but a new state bill could put that sentencing power in the hands of judges. Defense attorneys call it ‘the jury penalty’ – a centuries-old sentencing system in Virginia that calls for juries to decide punishment for criminal defendants, which often leads to stiffer sentences than what judges give or prosecutors offer in plea deals. This sentencing structure has been in place for 224 years, but under a bill recently approved by the state legislature, Virginia is expected to turn sentencing over to judges, joining the vast majority of states around the country. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a strong supporter of criminal justice reform, is expected to sign the bill into law.

The proposal sparked fierce debate during a special legislative session focused on criminal justice and police reform. Supporters of the change said giving judges the sentencing responsibility will result in fairer sentences, but prosecutors predicted it will result in more jury trials and therefore require additional judges, court clerks and public defenders. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Joe Morrissey from Richmond, said that under the current system, many people charged with crimes in Virginia are so fearful of getting a severe sentence from a jury that they often accept a plea deal from prosecutors that includes a longer sentence than they would typically get from a judge. Unlike judges, juries in Virginia are not given state sentencing guidelines that would tell them what a typical sentence would be for a particular crime, and they tend to hand out stiffer sentences.

In fiscal year 2019, sentences handed down by juries went above sentencing guidelines 37 per cent of the time, and in 2018, juries exceeded sentencing guidelines nearly 50 per cent of the time, according to annual reports by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. ‘Jurors have no idea what a normal sentence is,’ Morrissey said. ‘That’s why it is important to have a judge sentencing who has the guidelines and can put it into context.’

Read more …

Unparalelled wealth transfer.

Global Wealth Shrugs Off Pandemic To Hit $400 Trillion For First Time Ever (F.)

Despite the pandemic plunging economies worldwide into their deepest slumps on record and tens of millions being made unemployed, global wealth has risen to its highest level ever. Since the start of the year, total household wealth has grown by $1 trillion, or 0.25%, to top $400 trillion for the first time, according to Credit Suisse’s annual global wealth report. Most of this increase has been due to the rapid rebound of stock markets from their March lows. This was driven by governments pumping billions into their economies to stave off collapse as the pandemic gathered pace. On the face of it, the average global household’s wealth is little changed in 2020, despite the economic turmoil. But drilling deeper into the numbers reveals huge disparities, with the headline figures masking a vast gulf between the economic winners and losers this year.


Average household wealth rose by 0.25% between the start of the year and the end of June. However, average wealth per adult actually fell slightly, by 0.4% to $76,984 because the number of adults rose quicker during the six months. Anthony Shorrocks, Credit Suisse’s economist and the report author, said: “Given the damage inflicted by Covid-19 on the global economy, it seems remarkable that household wealth has emerged relatively unscathed.”The volatility this year has been a marked contrast to the upward trajectory of wealth growth seen in 2019. Last year, total global wealth rose by $36.3 trillion, or 8.5%, a record pace as global stock markets surged. In the first three months of this year, $17.5 trillion was wiped off household wealth worldwide as the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a savage equity crash. The subsequent recovery meant that total household wealth is slightly up on the year.

Read more …

“..externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent…”

Capitalism Double-Bills: We Pay For Our Future To Be Stolen From Us (Cook)

Here is a word that risks deterring you from reading on much further, even though it may hold the key to understanding why we are in such a terrible political, economic and social mess. That word is “externalities”. It sounds like a piece of economic jargon. It is a piece of economic jargon. But it is also the foundation stone on which the west’s current economic and ideological system has been built. Focusing on how externalities work and how they have come to dominate every sphere of our lives is to understand how we are destroying our planet – and offer at the same time the waypost to a better future. In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process.

Here is what should be a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalising the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier. The externalised cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various tabs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.

Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run. They are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximise profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace. Companies are therefore motivated to offload as many costs as possible on to others. As we shall see, externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. And for that reason, externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent.

Read more …

The lira plunged again this week. Everytime that happens, Erdogan plays more to his hardcore supporters to blame outsiders.

France Recalls Turkey Envoy After Erdogan Says Macron Needs Mental Check (BBC)

France has recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insulted his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. He said Mr Macron needed a mental health check for pledging to defend secular values and fight radical Islam. Mr Macron has spoken out forcefully on these issues after a French teacher was murdered for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class. France “will not give up our cartoons”, he said earlier this week. Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad can cause serious offence to Muslims because Islamic tradition explicitly forbids images of Muhammad and Allah (God). But state secularism – or laïcité – is central to France’s national identity.


Curbing freedom of expression to protect the feelings of one particular community, the state says, undermines the country’s unity. Responding to Mr Macron’s campaign to defend such values – which began before the teacher was murdered – Mr Erdogan asked in a speech: “What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?” He added: “Macron needs treatment on a mental level. “What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?” In the wake of the remarks, a French presidential official told AFP news agency that France’s ambassador to Turkey was being recalled for consultations, and would be meeting Mr Macron.

Read more …

The UK gov’t needs this, to maintain the Skripal and Navalny narratives.

BBC White Helmets ‘Documentary’ Targets Syria War Narratives Challengers (RT)

The BBC is preparing an attack against journalists, former diplomats, academics and scientists who challenge the dominant pro-war narratives against Syria underpinned by the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets. The British public broadcaster has sent out requests for comments to those who have dared to expose the role the UK government and its intelligence agencies have played in the destabilization of Syria, which look more like neo-McCarthyist charge sheets. The producer of an upcoming Radio 4 documentary series had been in email and telephone conversation with the author of this article, as well as Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria, and members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda (WGSMP) since June 2020. The result of those conversations, during which the evidence emanating from serious scientific research and on-the-ground testimony was presented to the producer, was a familiar list of accusations of “conspiracy theorism” and suggestions of “incentivized” Russian or Syrian bias.

Fellow independent journalist Eva Bartlett has spent long periods of time inside Syria, reporting from many of the most high-risk areas during the Syrian Arab Army allied campaigns to liberate swathes of Syrian territory from the US coalition-proxy occupation. She had this to say about the email she received a few days ago: “The questions emailed to me by the BBC evidence a predetermined intent to character assassination. This approach shows an utter lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the BBC. The BBC’s hostile insinuations against me arrogantly infer that neither I nor the Syrians I interview think for ourselves, but are puppets of the Syrian and Russian governments. My journalism dates back to 2007 and is quite extensive, with 13 years of on the ground experience, from Palestine and Syria, to Venezuela and eastern Ukraine, and elsewhere.

[..] The former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, also received the BBC bill of indictment and he issued this statement in response: “The BBC have systematically tried to suppress views on Syria which run counter to the standard one-sided narrative. This programme’s efforts to smear dissenters takes BBC conduct to a new low. By alleging conspiracy theorising where there is only evidence-based reporting and analysis, the BBC is showing its frustration at being unable to stifle truth-telling. The only conspiracy here is whatever coordination has taken place between the BBC and British authorities responsible for failing to achieve regime change in Syria despite throwing many millions of taxpayer money at the effort. Why is the BBC not drawing attention to the biggest failure of British foreign policy since Suez, as judged by its self-proclaimed objective of removing Assad, rather than busying itself with trying to take down unsupported individual dissenters who have ranged against them the vast wealth and resources of the establishment?

Read more …

“He has also renounced his old ways and paid back a Ukrainian gas company fourfold.”

Amy Coney Barrett Adopts Local Troubled Youngster Named Hunter (BBee)

According to sources, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has adopted her 8th child, a troubled local youngster named Hunter. In a touching story of love triumphing over all odds, the Barrett family fought for custody of Hunter and welcomed him into their family for the first time this week. “This family has love to spare,” said Judge Barrett. “We just knew we had another child out there somewhere. We were told by the agency that young Hunter had his fair share of issues, but we knew we would be up to the challenge.” According to friends of the family, Hunter is slowly adjusting to his new home and family. He has kicked an old drug habit and is now attending church with the rest of the family.

He has also renounced his old ways and paid back a Ukrainian gas company fourfold. “We love having Hunter with us!” said the leader of the small church group Hunter attends every week. “Whenever we share testimonies, he puts our testimonies to shame with stories of drugs, corruption, and horrific scandal, unlike anything we’ve heard. Awesome!” Judge Barrett is still struggling to teach Hunter the value of hard work. He is being paid a few dollars to do chores around the house when he’s used to being paid $50,000 per month for nothing. “We’re still working on it,” she said.

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 312020
 


Bruce Davidson Iran 1964

 

Japanese Wear Face Masks, But The Main Reason Is Just To Fit In (Asahi)
US Floats Idea Of Early Approval For Eventual COVID19 Vaccine (ST)
Moderna Neglected To Disclose Pentagon’s Financial Support (ZH)
On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won (Mish)
Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)
DNI Ratcliffe Declassifying More Russia-Collusion, Media-Leak Documents (ZH)
China’s Mega Banks Lost Billions Of Dollars In Profit As Bad Loans Rise (CNBC)
Erdogan Criticizes Greece As Turkey Marks 1922 Victory (K.)
Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)
Rampant Destruction Of Forests ‘Will Unleash More Pandemics’ (O.)

 

 

US new daily cases look promising, but total cases passed 6 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upward mobility

 

 

Seeing all those people walk outside with masks on, makes me wonder why we can’t inform them better. Wouldn’t that benefit everyone? If they get that wrong, what else don’t they understand?

Japanese Wear Face Masks, But The Main Reason Is Just To Fit In (Asahi)

Japanese people have taken to wearing face masks during the pandemic, but the main reason for doing so has more to do with going along with others than preventing the coronavirus from spreading, a new study says. Peer pressure emerged as the dominant factor for wearing face masks amid the health crisis in Japan, according to the results of a survey administered by academics. A research group headed by Kazuya Nakayachi, a professor at Doshisha University’s Faculty of Psychology, published its findings in the Swiss scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology on Aug. 4. “Wearing masks is recommended to stop the virus from spreading to others, but our research suggests wearers rarely use masks for that purpose,” Nakayachi said.


“Most of them simply want to don masks just because others do.” The researchers surveyed 1,000 Japanese citizens online in March about how often and why they wear face coverings. The survey found that most people wear the protective gear, even though masks offer the wearers themselves limited protection. The results show a majority of respondents, or 51.2 percent, said they “usually” wear masks amid the pandemic, followed by 31.4 percent who said they “sometimes” wear them. Only 17.4 percent said they do “not at all” wear masks.

Read more …

Promises, promises.

US Floats Idea Of Early Approval For Eventual COVID19 Vaccine (ST)

The head of the US Food and Drug Administration raised the possibility in an interview published on Sunday (Aug 30) that a future vaccine against the coronavirus might be given emergency approval before the end of trials designed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. A request for such extraordinary approval would have to come from the vaccine developer, Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three,” which involves large-scale human testing, “we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.” But Hahn insisted he was not acting under pressure from President Donald Trump, who has been pushing hard for a vaccine, saying one might be ready before the Nov 3 elections.


“This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision,” Hahn said. “This is not going to be a political decision.” Three Western drugs makers are well along with their Phase 3 clinical trials, involving tens of thousands of participants. The three are AstraZeneca, which is partnering with Oxford University in England; Moderna, collaborating with the US National Institutes of Health, and the Pfizer/BioNTech alliance. By the nature of the trials it is difficult to predict when reliable results will emerge.

Read more …

I think this is what we would call a racket.

Moderna Neglected To Disclose Pentagon’s Financial Support (ZH)

Before the mainstream media transfigures Moderna founder and CEO Stephane Bancel into a corporate savior on par with Bill Gates, we’d like to remind investors (and the public) that Moderna and its insiders have demonstrated an eyebrow-raising affinity for pumping the stock with over-hyped press releases then cashing in shares or warrants (all insider stock sales were pre-scheduled divestitures, the insiders’ lawyers have argued). Despite receiving nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money via “Operation Warp Speed”, the drugmaker is planning to charge as much as $37 for a single dose, or up to $60 for two courses, of its experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. That’s far and away the highest price point disclosed yet.

And while we wait for more detailed data from the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials, patent advocacy group KEI is taking Moderna and its executives to task for neglecting to disclose government funding received by the company during its early stages, before the coronavirus pandemic. Despite receiving $25 million from the Department of Defense’s “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” – or “Darpa” – Moderna has never disclosed this, or any other, government funding in its applications for 126 patents and 154 patent applications. KEI has lodged a request with the DoD and Darpa to remedy this in patents.

As KEI points out, Moderna’s “failure” to disclose its government funding could have serious consequences for Americans hoping to get their hands on an affordable vaccine. The disclosures could affect everything from the US government’s worldwide royalty free license, to the public’s march-in rights, to obligations to make inventions available to the public on reasonable terms. When approached by the FT, Darpa confirmed that Moderna was required in its contracts to disclose the funding in any patent applications that stemmed from research that the US government helped fund.

Now, Darpa is actively looking into which Moderna patents may have been produced with Darpa support, so the US government can take credit where credit is due. “It appears that all past and present Darpa awards to Moderna include the requirement to report the role of government-funding for related inventions,” Darpa spokesman Jared Adams said in an emailed response to the Financial Times. “Further, Darpa is actively researching agency awards to Moderna to identify which patents and pending patents, if any at all, may be associated with Darpa support,” he said. Mr Adams declined to comment further, saying the investigation was continuing. US federal law required government funding to be disclosed in these circumstances, he noted.

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Because Trump voters vote in person and Dems don’t, on election night itself it may look like a large Trump victory. But then….

I’m not sure why Mish says: “Prepare for Trump to Claim Biden Stole the Election”. Is that more likely than Biden making that claim about Trump?

On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won (Mish)

An NBC/WSJ Poll on expected mail-in votes might cause some very misleading if not totally inaccurate reporting on who is in the lead depending on when mail-in votes get counted: “Supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden are significantly more likely than Trump backers to say they plan to vote by mail. Nearly half – 47 percent – say they plan to mail in their ballot, with an additional 21 percent saying they will cast a vote before Election Day at an early in-person voting site. Only about a quarter of Biden voters, 26 percent, plan to vote on Election Day at a polling place. In contrast, two-thirds of Trump’s voters — 66 percent — say they will vote in person on Election Day. Just 11 percent say they plan to vote by mail, and 20 percent say they will vote early in person”.

Due to the above, FiveThirtyEight notes the Consequences Might Be Weird: “If this holds, it would mean votes cast on Election Day would skew heavily toward Trump, and votes cast by mail would skew heavily toward Biden. This has serious implications for … well, democracy. First, Trump could argue the mail ballots (which, remember, could account for most of Biden’s votes) were fraudulent and thus should not be counted. Although it’s unlikely they’d actually be thrown out, this would damage the credibility of the election in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Second, it could mean the first votes counted on election night will be disproportionately good for Trump, who might claim victory based on incomplete returns. It might not be until days later, after a good chunk of the Democratic-leaning mail vote is counted, that Biden pulls ahead.

Let’s do a quick-and-dirty exercise to show what I mean. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll overall, Biden led Trump by 9 percentage points among registered voters. But Biden led Trump by 63 points (!) among voters who planned to vote by mail, and Trump led Biden by 33 points among voters who planned to vote in person on Election Day. If this kind of partisan split occurred in every state, Biden would win the mail vote in all 50 states — from Alabama to Wyoming — and Trump would win the Election Day vote in all 50.”

The above scenario in all 50 states isn’t likely, but it is likely in some states. The election day results could easily swing Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and that could swing the election night apparent winner. Trump will howl and his supporters will believe him. Some of my friends believe Trump will refuse to stand down, but I am sure it would not come to that. A bluff in that direction, however, is another matter. Chaos could last for days or even weeks in such a scenario with severe consequences on the stock market as well as potential riots which Trump would then try to pin on Biden.

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Shift.

Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)

President Trump’s support among black voters rose 9 percentage points amid the Republican National Convention, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Twenty-four percent of registered black voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey, which included the first two days of the convention, said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 76 percent said they disapprove. That is up 9 points from the previous survey conducted Aug. 8-11, where the President received 15 percent support among this group. The survey found support among Hispanic voters also grew by 2 percentage points, from 30 percent in the last poll to 32 percent in this most recent survey. Forty-four percent of overall registered voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey approved of Trump’s job as president, a 1 percentage point dip from the last poll.


Eighty-two percent of Republican voters approve of Trump, a 1 point increase from the last poll, while 18 percent disapprove. Eighty-seven percent of Democratic voters disapprove of Trump along with 64 percent of independent voters. The survey found the president remains underwater with suburban voters and urban voters, at 42 percent support each. His support remains steady among rural voters, at 53 percent. Thursday, Trump officially accepted the 2020 Republican presidential nomination during the last night of the RNC. The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,861 registered voters between Aug. 22-25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.83 percentage points.

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Leaking secret docs to the press has become far too normal.

DNI Ratcliffe Declassifying More Russia-Collusion, Media-Leak Documents (ZH)

John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he has been coordinating with US Attorney John Durham and plans to soon declassify more documents related to the Trump-Russia probe. “I pledged to a bipartisan group of senators that I would look at all of the underlying intelligence surrounding the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s interference and this idea of Trump-Russia collusion, but I’m not going to prejudice John Durham’s work in connection with that, so we’ve had to coordinate with his office about the timing of that. But I’m optimistic that I’ll be declassifying additional documents soon.”

As a reminder, Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into several aspects of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities against Trump associates. Ratcliffe went on, referring to Durham’s review of the investigation: “He’s looking at the same documents that I am,” “He’s not sharing his findings or the work that he’s doing. But I’m coordinating with him to make sure that he has the intelligence documents that he needs to do his work. And what I don’t want to do is declassify something that might prejudice his work. So we’re going to have to coordinate as we go forward with the completion of his work with my ability to declassify documents.”

Additionally, Ratcliffe, said Sunday he has filed multiple “crimes reports” regarding alleged leaks of classified information to the media. “When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report. I’ve done that now on a number of occasions, and so those investigations are moving forward.” He said that the leaks were “for political purposes” to create what he said is a false narrative “that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

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“The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments..”

China’s Mega Banks Lost Billions Of Dollars In Profit As Bad Loans Rise (CNBC)

China’s five largest banks reported their biggest profit declines in at least a decade as they brace for further increases in bad loans in an economy weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. The five lenders — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and Bank of Communications — released their latest financial report cards last week. All five posted at least 10% year-on-year declines in profit for the first half of 2020 as they set aside more funds for potential loan losses in the coming months — much like many banks around the world. “The banks have been asked to … perform ‘national service.’

They’ve been asked to support the economy at the expense of their own operational strength,” said Jason Tan, research analyst at CreditSights, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. Chinese banks, among the world’s largest by assets, have been placed at the front line of the government’s effort to soften the economic blow on households and businesses. Authorities in Beijing reportedly asked financial institutions to sacrifice 1.5 trillion yuan ($219 billion) in profits this year to help companies by lowering lending rates and deferring repayments on loans. The Chinese economy — the world’s second largest — is expected to grow just 1% this year as measures to contain the coronavirus hit global economic activity, according to the IMF.


That would be China’s weakest growth in at least 40 years, according to data by the fund. China, the first country to be hit by the fast-spreading coronavirus, has shown some signs of economic recovery. But the effect of the economic slowdown on banks have not materialized fully, said Tan. “The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments,” he explained. “So, these will probably come in the second half, if not in the first half of 2021 when the moratorium lifts in March 2021,” he added.

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Are Merkel and the EU just waiting for the shooting to start? Ironic that Erdogan ignored, if not insulted, Kemal Ataturk when he made the Hagia Sophia a mosque, but now lays a wreath at his tomb.

Erdogan Criticizes Greece As Turkey Marks 1922 Victory (K.)

Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the decisive War of Independence battle against Greek forces Sunday as the threat of a new conflict with Athens looms in the eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey’s struggle for independence and future continues today as well,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a message to commemorate Victory Day. “It is absolutely not a coincidence that those who seek to exclude us from the eastern Mediterranean are the same invaders as the ones who attempted to invade our homeland a century ago.” In recent weeks, Turkish and Greek forces have engaged in a series of cat-and-mouse military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.

The confrontation was sparked when Turkey sent a research vessel accompanied by warships to search for gas and oil reserves. Greece, a member of the European Union, claims the waters are part of its continental shelf and has enlisted the support of the 27-nation bloc, which has condemned Turkey’s “illegal activities” and warned of potential sanctions against Ankara. Turkey says Greece and others are denying its rights to explore for energy resources in the Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus have recently been joined by France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates in carrying out naval and aerial war games in the region. On Saturday, Turkey began its own military maneuvers until Sept. 11 off its southern coast.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry also released cockpit footage of what it said were Turkish jets in mock dogfights with Greek F-16s between Crete and Cyprus. “No one should have any doubts about our resolve in this matter and our unshakeable belief in victory,” Erdogan said. In an interview with broadcaster AHaber on Saturday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greece extending its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles would be a “cause for war.” Earlier this week, Athens announced plans to extend its maritime border with Italy to 12 nautical miles. Erdogan laid a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara later Sunday. Ataturk led the Turkish troops in the independence struggle following World War I and went on to establish modern Turkey.

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Cancel culture wherever you look.

Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)

The travesty that is Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes fully on 7 September at the Old Bailey. I shall be abandoning my own legal team and going down to London to cover it again in full, for an expected three weeks. How this is going to work at the Old Bailey, I do not know. Covid restrictions presumably mean that the numbers in the public gallery will be tiny. As of now, there is no arrangement for Julian’s friends and family in place. It looks like 4am queuing is in prospect. By 7 September it will be six months since I applied to resume my membership of the National Union of Journalists. I STILL have not the slightest idea who objected, or what the grounds were for objection. I have not heard from the NUJ for months.

A senior official of an international journalists’ organisation has told us that he inquired, and learnt that the NUJ national executive has considered my application and set up a sub-committee to report. But if so, why is this secret, why have I not been informed, and why am I not allowed to know what the objection is? I find this all very sinister. At this stage it is not paranoid to wonder whose hand is behind this. The practical effect of this is that without NUJ membership I cannot access a Press card, and avail myself of whatever media arrangements are in place for the Assange hearing (just as I was kept out of most of the Salmond trial). I have now reached the stage where I would like to take legal action against the NUJ, but the finances are beyond me.

I am not going to ask you to donate because we are going to need all our resources for the contempt case against me, which the Crown drags out. I shall be writing next week about my own case and that hearing earlier this week. I would just note now that the “virtual hearing” is entirely unsatisfactory and unfair on defendants. There was at least one occasion when my QC agreed with a suggestion of the judge when I would have instructed them not to had I been, as I should normally have been, seated near them in court and able to instruct.

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Yes, forest destruction is terrible, but you can’t link it to COVID19, because we don’t know where it comes from. You’re just destroying a perfectly viable argument.

Rampant Destruction Of Forests ‘Will Unleash More Pandemics’ (O.)

Scientists are to warn world leaders that increasing numbers of deadly new pandemics will afflict the planet if levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss continue at their current catastrophic rates. A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19. Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.


Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population. “There are now a whole raft of activities – illegal logging, clearing and mining – with associated international trades in bushmeat and exotic pets that have created this crisis,” said Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation at Duke University. “In the case of Covid-19, it has cost the world trillions of dollars and already killed almost a million people, so clearly urgent action is needed.” It is estimated that tens of millions of hectares of rainforest and other wild environments are being bulldozed every year to cultivate palm trees, farm cattle, extract oil and provide access to mines and mineral deposits. This leads to the widespread destruction of vegetation and wildlife that are hosts to countless species of viruses and bacteria, most unknown to science. Those microbes can then accidentally infect new hosts, such as humans and domestic livestock.

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Aug 252020
 


Robert Capa Model wearing Dior on the banks of the Seine, Paris 1948

 

Pelosi Calls Republicans ‘Domestic Enemies Of The State’ (ZH)
UK Lockdown Was A ‘Monumental Mistake’ And Must Not Happen Again (Exp.)
Let’s Follow the History of Science Instead (AIER)
New York University To Implement Racial Segregation In Student Dorms (WSWS)
Is The Euro Living On Borrowed Time? (Brown)
Powell Set To Deliver Speech Changing How The Fed Views Inflation (CNBC)
Exxon Mobil Dropped From The Dow After Nearly A Century (CBS)
1 In 3 Cars Worldwide Is Produced In China (ZH)
Greece, Turkey Heading For New Crisis (K.)
Biblical Travails (Jim Kunstler)
UN World Food Program Seeks To Prevent ‘Famine Of Biblical Proportions’ (ZH)

 

 

Calling your political opponents “enemies of the state” is not done even in 2020 America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Way over the line. There are still things you can’t say even in the 2020 US.

And you thought Biden was dementing…

Nancy, you’re 80. Call it a day.

Pelosi Calls Republicans ‘Domestic Enemies Of The State’ (ZH)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) raged against President Trump and Congressional Republicans on Monday, telling MSNBC that they’re “domestic enemies” of election integrity and “enemies of the state.” Pelosi was speaking right after President Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, according to the Daily Caller. “We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And sadly, the domestic enemies to our voting system and honoring our Constitution are right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their allies in the Congress of the United States. But again, let’s just get out there and mobilize, organize, and not let the President deter anybody from voting. And again, support the postal system which is election central,” said the 80-year-old Democrat. “They’re doing everything they can; suppress the vote — with your actions, scare people, intimidate by saying law enforcement will be there, diminish the role of the postal system in all of this. It’s really actually shameful. Enemies of the state,” she continued.

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Perhaps this guy means well, but to conclude from the UK’s botched version of a lockdown that NO lockdown can work, takes away all his credibility. Phrasing matters.

And besides, buddy, you’re the government advisor here. Own it.

UK Lockdown Was A ‘Monumental Mistake’ And Must Not Happen Again (Exp.)

Lockdown will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”. But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”. The professor of infectious disease epidemiology said that the Government must now focus on increasing testing and striving to unlock society safely rather than restricting it further.

Prof Woolhouse OBE, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours that advises the Government, said: “Lockdown was a panic measure and I believe history will say trying to control Covid-19 through lockdown was a monumental mistake on a global scale, the cure was worse than the disease. “I never want to see national lockdown again. It was always a temporary measure that simply delayed the stage of the epidemic we see now. It was never going to change anything fundamentally, however low we drove down the number of cases, and now we know more about the virus and how to track it we should not be in this position again.

“We absolutely should never return to a position where children cannot play or go to school. “I believe the harm lockdown is doing to our education, health care access, and broader aspects of our economy and society will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by Covid-19.” He said that Sage, the government’s advisory board on dealing with Covid, needed to have members from a wider range of fields.

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And here’s another genius: “..our descendants will mock us for believing masks slowed viral transmission.”

No they won’t, unless they’re as stupid as he is. Lockdowns and facemasks prevent transmission, no science is more basic than that. But you do have to use them wisely.

If you send people out into the street with mandatory masks on, then yes, they don’t prevent anything. Because there is no risk of infection there. But put them in a cramped room for a period of time, and they are very effective.

What is it with these people, is it all just about hearing their own voices, credibility be damned? Some virus got to their brains?

I’m seriously starting to wonder where the virus causes the most damage. And it doesn’t appear to be either in care homes or classrooms, but in much smaller spaces.

Let’s Follow the History of Science Instead (AIER)

Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden is only the most high-profile politician to promise voters that he will “listen to the scientists,” mandate masks, and shut down the economy again if they so advise. Even the humble members of the city council of Milledgeville, Georgia invoke “science” in four pages of “whereas-es” designed to justify a largely toothless mask mandate that directly contradicts a Georgia law against wearing masks in public (except for certain holidays, presumably to deter real crime) and the enforcement of which in some places in the city of 50,000 apparently hinges on the font size of a door notice. Strange times indeed, these. One wonders why we need to elect politicians at all if they will simply defer to “the” scientists. Ah, but there be the rub. Which scientists? They don’t agree on much, especially when it comes to the novel coronavirus and masks and such.


Should we listen only to “the” scientists on the government payroll? But then wouldn’t they essentially be unelected, unaccountable dictators? That sounds vaguely undemocratic. Sticky, this wicket! Plus, last time I checked, “the” scientists have no policy expertise in economics. Perhaps that does not matter as many economists also have no policy expertise in economics. Is that the role of politicians, then? To decide which type of scientists get to dictate in different policy areas? Perhaps Biden will listen to “the” economists on spaceship design or military tactics? I would pay good money to see that! (Seriously, it would be a horribly expensive boondoggle certain to raise my taxes.) Why is it so important to “listen to the scientists” anyway? Are they suddenly less fallible than previously? Is there any science to support that belief? Because let’s face it, “the” scientists have a pretty poor track record overall.

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I’m afraid I simply don’t understand the reasoning. Black students don’t want to explain about racism? But isn’t that sort of the whole point?

New York University To Implement Racial Segregation In Student Dorms (WSWS)

Since late June, the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services at New York University (NYU) has been working closely with a small, student-led task force to make racially segregated housing a reality in undergraduate student dorms. On July 20, Washington Square News, the weekly undergraduate student newspaper of NYU, published an article titled “Student-Led Task Force Calls for Black Housing on Campus,” in which it reported on the university’s willingness to help implement residential communities open solely to “Black-identifying students with Black Resident Assistants.” Since then, the university has officially given the project a green light, aiming to have NYU’s first segregated residential floor established by Fall 2021.

A little over two months ago, a recently organized advocacy group called Black Violets created an online petition demanding that the university “implement Black student housing on campus in the vein of themed engagement floors across first-year and upperclassmen residence halls.” In its petition, the group argues that “Too often in the classroom and in residential life, black students bear the brunt of educating their uninformed peers about racism.” African American students, the group states, desperately require a “safe space” where they can escape from students, staff and faculty of other races. There are over 20 Themed Engagement Communities at NYU, with themes ranging from film, literature and theater to technology, science and foreign languages. All floors are open to all students, who request residency on a specific floor prior to the start of the academic year.

The approval of a Themed Engagement Community open to students based on their race is new at NYU. However, it is not the first time that the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services has considered such a proposal. In 2002, an NYU senior submitted a plan to develop race-based housing for African American students, claiming that “such a housing program would unite African American students on campus” and better combat racial discrimination. This proposal was eventually rejected by the university after a brief review and discussion.

Now, despite signs of minimal support from the undergraduate student body—the online petition has garnered a mere 1,105 signatures out of the 26,733 total undergraduates currently studying at NYU—the proposal for race-based housing has been warmly welcomed by the university administration. There is nothing progressive about the establishment of racially segregated housing at NYU. It is irrelevant whether the segregation being implemented is voluntary or mandatory. Racial segregation, in all forms, is entirely reactionary. The vile argument advanced in the proposal is that all non-African American students, staff and faculty are, to varying degrees, hostile and dangerous to African American students. Their animosity stems from an inherent antipathy towards individuals of different races.

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“Investors” gamble on gold, they gamble on the euro. And they feel confident they’ll be able to get out on time. Basic, really. Pump trillions into “markets” and this is what happens.

Is The Euro Living On Borrowed Time? (Brown)

Given the way the euro has been rallying in the foreign exchange markets over the past three months, you would be forgiven for thinking the currency has become a beacon of stability in uncertain times. You couldn’t be further from the truth. The rebound in the euro is simply the flip side of the US dollar being undermined by growing uncertainty about the upcoming US presidential election in November and how the US authorities are coping with the coronavirus crisis. Global investors are simply taking time out from long dollar exposures, and euro bulls are simply filling a temporary void. It won’t last long. The euro is living on borrowed time and the deepening monetary muddle in Europe won’t help the currency once the dust settles on the US elections.

The euro looks overvalued and a prime target for an ambush later this year. Europe’s monetary pacesetter, the European Central Bank, seems to be fighting a losing battle, struggling to keep the European economy from slipping into a deeper recession. The more policy stimulus the ECB throws into the ring, the greater the damage to its monetary reputation, and to little avail so far. Despite close to 3 trillion euros of assets purchased so far under the ECB’s quantitative easing programme and interest rates steeped in negative territory, the economy of Europe is showing precious few signs of a return to normality. Europe’s three biggest economies, Germany, France and Italy, are all stuck in recession with little chance of output reaching pre-pandemic levels until 2022. Rumblings about throwing too much good money after bad are no surprise. The ECB’s defence is that it has no alternative, otherwise Europe might suffer an even worse fate.

Germany has given up the ghost on trying to control the ECB’s monetary excesses. There seems to be a palpable sense of “if you can’t beat them, join them” for the sake of presenting a united front and avoiding a damaging public row. In the pre-euro days, tough Bundesbank policies and the strong Deutschmark were solid anchors of the European monetary system, implacable yardsticks which helped other European countries govern their own performances. [..] The worry for markets is that the triple-A-rated ECB’s vaults are bursting with a surfeit of lower-quality debt from nations like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland, countries which have required support in times of market stress in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. Like in the US subprime crisis, it’s fine while the charade lasts, but once confidence begins to wobble, that is where the danger lies.

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The Fed is going to try its hand at Abanomics?! Didn’t work for Japan. Remember, to raise inflation you need to raise the velocity of money. Which today meanns you have to raise the velocity of trillions of added dollars. Good luck with that.

Powell Set To Deliver Speech Changing How The Fed Views Inflation (CNBC)

History will remember Paul Volcker and Jerome Powell as standing on the opposite ends of the inflation canyon, with the former taking desperate actions to try to tamp it down and the latter expected this week to announce an unprecedented effort to crank it back up. Volcker, the Federal Reserve chairman from 1979-87, ushered through a series of inflation-busting interest rate hikes that dragged the country into recession but won the fight against pricing pressures and spurred a powerful economic recovery. Powell, the central bank chief since 2018, is likely to detail a set of measures aimed at pushing inflation higher amid a coronavirus pandemic that has dragged the U.S. economy into one of its darkest hours.

While the average consumer might find it absurd to want to raise the cost of living, central bankers and economists see too little inflation also as a problem. It often reflects a slow-moving economy with a low standard of living. On top of that, the accompanying low interest rates give policymakers little wiggle room when crises happen and there’s a need to loosen policy. That’s why Powell, who will speak Thursday during a virtual version of the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conference, will outline what could be the central bank’s most active efforts ever to spur inflation back to a healthy level. The speech is titled “Monetary Policy Framework Review” and wraps up a yearlong examination both among central bank officials and with the public, during a series of open events, on what policy should look like in the future.

“The expectations are pretty high to get something meaningful on Thursday,” said Tom Graff, head of fixed income at Brown Advisory. “This is probably a historic speech.” One phrase Powell is likely to use is “average inflation” targeting. Simply, it means that the Fed, which has pegged 2% as a healthy level, will let inflation run higher than that for a while if it has spent a considerable time beneath that level. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge has stayed below that level for all but two years since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009. It’s a mirror-image reversal of Volcker’s inflation-busting and sets the stage for a pivotal policy move.

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“In the 1980s, energy companies made up as much as a quarter of the Dow. After Exxon’s exits on Monday, energy will account for just 2% of the index.”

Exxon Mobil Dropped From The Dow After Nearly A Century (CBS)

Exxon Mobil, which joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1928, is being removed from the blue-chip stock market index. Its replacement: enterprise software company Salesforce.com. Also leaving the index are drug company Pfizer and airplane and defense contractor Raytheon Technologies. They are being replaced by biotech Amgen and manufacturing conglomerate Honeywell. S&P Dow Jones Indices, the company that administers the index, announced the changes, which will take place August 31, on Monday. The index provider said the changes were necessary to make up for Apple’s impending stock split, which becomes effective the same day.

The Dow Jones is a stock-price-weighed index. Apple’s stock split, which will take the company’s shares to roughly $120, from $500, would have cut the Dow’s exposure to the technology sector. Monday’s changes would also help the Dow “add new types of businesses that better reflect the American economy,” the index company said. Energy giant Exxon Mobil joined the Dow 92 years ago as Standard Oil of New Jersey, and it’s the oldest member of the index. The Dow’s last original member, General Electric, was removed in 2018. Exxon Mobil was the most valuable company in the United States for much of the early 2000s and as recently as 2011, when it hit a market value of just over $400 billion. Apple overtook Exxon in 2012, and much of the technology sector followed.

Earlier this month, Apple’s market value topped $2 trillion, making it the first U.S. company to reach that milestone. Meanwhile, Exxon’s market value has sunk to $175 billion. The company has been plagued in part by claims that it deliberately concealed the damage that the oil it has long extracted and refined into gasoline was doing to the planet. [..] In the 1980s, energy companies made up as much as a quarter of the Dow. After Exxon’s exits on Monday, energy will account for just 2% of the index.

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A loss of 40% in 5 years. Wow.

1 In 3 Cars Worldwide Is Produced In China (ZH)

Almost one in three – or 32 percent – of all cars produced worldwide in 2019 came out of China. As shown in numbers by the automobile manufacturers’ association OICA, the world manufactures less cars than it did in 2014, but, as Statista’s Katharina Buchholz notes, several Asian markets actually were able to grow their production volumes. India exhibited one of the biggest increases – almost 15 percent in five years to 3.6 million cars annually.


The biggest decrease in production hit the ailing U.S. car industry, which lost 40 percent of its domestic production between 2014 and 2019. Germany also make less cars at home, but German manufacturers like Volkswagen are a part of the rising Chinese production. In 2019, the Chinese market accounted for around 39 percent of Volkswagen’s total sales. Shifting production sites are only one aspect of the internationalization of the car industry. Know-how also migrates with production [..]

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Erdogan has ever less to lose. His popularity at home is decreasing fast, with the lira in the gutter. Greece’s friends better start raising their voices.

Greece, Turkey Heading For New Crisis (K.)

Just when it seemed that Greece and Turkey were entering a phase of de-escalation, the two countries appeared on Monday to be heading for another crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. The decision by Ankara for an extension of the duration of exploratory activities by the Oruc Reis survey vessel in areas within the Greek continental shelf prompted a response by Athens with Tuesday’s aeronautical exercise that begins on Tuesday at dawn over a large area from the south of Kassos to the south of Kastellorizo. The exercise will take place in areas included in the navigational advisory, or Navtex, issued by Turkey for the Oruc Reis within the Greek continental shelf. The exercise will last until Thursday night.

Turkey’s move to extend the activities of the Oruc Reis essentially raises obstacles to the German mediation effort which continues on Tuesday with visits to both Athens and Ankara by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Meanwhile, tensions were further augmented on Monday night by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who issued direct war threats against Greece, which he said is being “deceived” by other countries into pursuing the course of action it is taking. “When an issue arises in the future, then these forces will disappear and Greece will be left alone,” he said, adding that “from now on, Greece will be responsible for all conflicts in the region and it will be at a disadvantage.” He also described the aeronautical exercise announced by Athens as “useless” and dangerous for navigation.

Shortly before Erdogan’s remarks, Ankara announced new exercises off southern Crete for Tuesday morning, in an area several miles south of the prefecture of Lassithi. The area is located approximately on the borders described in the Turkey-Libya maritime borders memorandum. At the same time, Athens is building a network of important military collaborations, as joint exercises are also expected with French Rafale jets based in Cyprus.

Read more …

Conflicting stories about the violence. Kenosha was a hellhole again last night. At some point, Trump will have to act. And that’s what the Dems are hoping for.

Biblical Travails (Jim Kunstler)

Could the country even stand another full-on political convention after the Democrats’ nauseating extravaganza last week? The nation is so marinated in agitprop, disinfo, and straight-up mendacity that all the intelligence has been leached out of population, perhaps even the will to live. A Republican convention complete with the usual showboating might deplete the remaining oxycontin supply across the land as unemployed millions, mulling over rents overdue and unmet car payments, resort to vodka, Xanax, cough syrup, and airplane glue to quell the pain induced by unbridled political bullshit. As BLM might put it: “Know whum sayin’?

Speaking of BLM, Sunday one Jacob Blake, 29, was apparently shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while getting into a car. The incident inspired a night of BLM rioting and looting in downtown Kenosha, with excellent prospects for violence to spread to other cities. Mr. Blake was hospitalized and survives, so far. He was not complying with police instructions in the process of his arrest. He had been previously arrested in 2015 and charged with brandishing a gun in a barroom. Upon his arrest then, the gun was found on the floor of his car. In the latest incident, Kenosha police were responding to a domestic abuse complaint. There was an active warrant out on Mr. Blake.

Also over the weekend, police in Lafayette, Louisiana, shot and killed 31-year-old Trayford Pellerin outside a convenience store he was entering while brandishing a knife. They had followed him from another convenience store in the vicinity where he “created a disturbance with a knife.” Mr. Pellerin apparently refused to comply with police orders to get on the ground. Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer hired to represent the Pellerin family during the investigation into the shooting, said, “His family believes that he was suffering a mental illness crisis and what he needed was a helping hand. But what he got was what looks like 11 bullets.” His mother told the Associated Press that Mr. Pellerin had sought therapy for social anxiety.

Read more …

A line used so much people have become immune to it.

UN World Food Program Seeks To Prevent ‘Famine Of Biblical Proportions’ (ZH)

While virus cases and deaths dominate headlines, other humanitarian crises also need attention, that is, an emerging “famine of biblical proportions” that threatens much of the world, United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Director David Beasley told TASS News last weekend in an interview. Beasley said the WFP is requesting $5 billion in emergency funds within the next six months that will help in the effort to thwart a global famine. “All the data we have, including WFP’s forecast of an 80% increase in the number of food-insecure people – from 140 million before the pandemic to 270 million by the end of this year – points to a real catastrophe, a famine of biblical proportions, “he said.

The dramatic rise in the number of people who don’t have the means to feed themselves because of depressionary unemployment, supply chain breakdowns, and crop failures is set to cause long-term economic damage that could prevent a vibrant economic recovery. Beasley said, “it is clear that social tensions will escalate, migration will increase, conflicts will expand, and hunger can affect those who have not experienced it before.” Even in the US, a developed world economy, tens of millions of folks have gone hungry, now relying on government aid and food banks for survival. He noted that countries in the 2008 financial crash with a “stronger social protection system” were less impacted by famine.

WFP projections show significant increases in malnourished people in Latin America, countries in Eastern and Central Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, had a doubling of the number of people going hungry in a short period. “World hunger is already sky-high, and if we do not act immediately, many will die, children will suffer the consequences of malnutrition for many years to come, and the whole world will be thrown back, having lost all the gains in the fight against hunger of the last decade. Will be incredibly high, we need to act quickly and wisely, balancing immediate relief and long-term recovery,” Beasley said. He added: “WFP’s mission is to provide food to 138 million people in 2020, the largest humanitarian operation in history. And this unprecedented crisis requires an incredible amount of money.”

Read more …

 

 

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Mar 122020
 


Ann Rosener Reconditioning used spark plugs for use in testing airplane motors, Melrose Park Buick plant, Chicago 1942

 

 

 

The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors (Mounk)
‘Healthcare On Brink Of Collapsing’: The Italy Coronavirus Quarantine (ITV)
Politicians, Community Leaders, Business Leaders: What To Do and When (M.)
Trump Suspends Travel From Europe To US (BBC)
Ban On European Travel To US Will Batter Airlines (R.)
Why Does The Coronavirus Spread So Easily Between People? (Nature)
6 Million Low-Income Australians To Get $750 Cash Coronavirus Stimulus (G.)
Boeing Halts Hiring, Limits Overtime To Preserve Cash (CNBC)
Washington State House Passes Bill To Drop Boeing Tax Break (R.)
Mnuchin: IMF, World Bank Funds Won’t Repay Belt and Road Debts To China (R.)
Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Persuaded’ Prince Andrew To Snub FBI’s Epstein Probe (NYP)
Erdogan Slams Greece’s ‘Nazi’ Treatment Of Refugees (RT)
Greece Warned By EU It Must Uphold The Right To Asylum (G.)
Greenland And Antarctica Ice Loss Accelerating (BBC)
New Rules Could Spell End Of ‘Throwaway Culture’ (BBC)
Chelsea Manning Hospitalized After Suicide Attempt (G.)
Internet ‘Is Not Working For Women And Girls’ – Tim Berners-Lee (G.)

 

 

Even though he’s a rich celebrity Tom Hanks is probably lucky to fall ill at the time and place he did (now and in Australia). In Italy they might not treat his 63-year-old ass anymore. Many other countries, including Australia won’t either, in 1-2-3 weeks’ time. NBA suspended, Olympics, Eurocup and all other mass events should follow. They will anyway, so might as well do it nnow.

Other than that, as you’re tempted to criticize your government’s actions with regards to coronavirus, remember that everybody does it, every government is too late and too little, just like all the mainstream media and investors. This doesn’t mean your particular locality’s ‘leaders’ don’t deserve scrutiny, but it does provide perspective. They all dropped the ball and play catch-up, including the WHO. And they all have their eye on the economy, not the virus. Which is an issue for them only insofar as it affects the economy.

In the same vein, governments everywhere, central banks, IMF, World Bank, are all geared towards supporting companies, not people. But if 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and self-isolation is inevitably the next thing coming to the US, how are people supposed to self-isolate when those paychecks stop coming?

Older people will not be treated, and poorer people will have no choice but to go out and find food and other items just to survive. Northern Italy is quite a rich part of the world, which is why they have such an excellent health care system. Many parts of the US are nowhere near that rich, and their health care matches that difference.

 

Cases 126,644 (+ 7,255 from yesterday’s 119,389)

Deaths 4,639 (+ 339 from yesterday’s 4,300)

 

As China states its peak is over, the rise in cases in European countries is relentless. As I was scribbling yesterday before the latest numbers came in:

“Denmark, Norway each have some 5 million inhabitants. Switzerland has 10 million. Holland has 17. Their cases to date are 340, 440, 652 and 503, respectively.

Germany has 82 million people and 1,622 cases. Ergo, per capita Denmark, Norway should have -to keep level with Germany- 16x more cases, Switzerland 8x, Holland 5x. That would mean 3,440, 7,040, 5,216 and 2,515 cases per capita (not the right term, but you get it).

Norway is by far the worst. After Italy, Iran and South Korea, it’s the worst in infections per million people (if we forget Bahrain). It’s 27x worse than the US. So how many dire reports have you read from or about Norway?”

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

This tells you a whole lot too.

 

 

From SCMP: (Note: the SCMP graph was useful when China was the focal point; they are falling behind now)

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

Another great read from Yascha Mounk at the Atlantic. Looks like I’ll have to pass for the next one, my freebies are up.

The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors (Mounk)

Two weeks ago, Italy had 322 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. At that point, doctors in the country’s hospitals could lavish significant attention on each stricken patient. One week ago, Italy had 2,502 cases of the virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. At that point, doctors in the country’s hospitals could still perform the most lifesaving functions by artificially ventilating patients who experienced acute breathing difficulties. Today, Italy has 10,149 cases of the coronavirus. There are now simply too many patients for each one of them to receive adequate care. Doctors and nurses are unable to tend to everybody. They lack machines to ventilate all those gasping for air.

Now the Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) has published guidelines for the criteria that doctors and nurses should follow in these extraordinary circumstances. The document begins by likening the moral choices facing Italian doctors to the forms of wartime triage that are required in the field of “catastrophe medicine.” Instead of providing intensive care to all patients who need it, its authors suggest, it may become necessary to follow “the most widely shared criteria regarding distributive justice and the appropriate allocation of limited health resources. ”The principle they settle upon is utilitarian. “Informed by the principle of maximizing benefits for the largest number,”

[..] they suggest that “the allocation criteria need to guarantee that those patients with the highest chance of therapeutic success will retain access to intensive care.” The authors, who are medical doctors, then deduce a set of concrete recommendations for how to manage these impossible choices, including this: “It may become necessary to establish an age limit for access to intensive care.” Those who are too old to have a high likelihood of recovery, or who have too low a number of “life-years” left even if they should survive, will be left to die. This sounds cruel, but the alternative, the document argues, is no better. “In case of a total saturation of resources, maintaining the criterion of ‘first come, first served’ would amount to a decision to exclude late-arriving patients from access to intensive care.”

Read more …

Note: Italy is rated second in the world for healthcare provision by the WHO. The UK is 18th.

‘Healthcare On Brink Of Collapsing’: The Italy Coronavirus Quarantine (ITV)

I’m just back from Italy and “enjoying” my first day of self-isolation. Getting a real picture of how bad the situation is, especially in Lombardy and the north, has been really difficult for TV news because movement is so restricted, access to the overwhelmed hospitals impossible and the danger of infection so great. But it’s really important people understand just how bad things are, not least because it is where we may be headed. So I will continue to write here about conversations, emails or recordings with those who are still under quarantine in Italy. Some will be Britons who have stayed on, some Italians, some doctors. I start with a voice recording of two Milanese doctors speaking on WhatsApp about the situation at their hospitals.

The first identifies herself as Martina, but I believe she is Martina Crivellari, an intensive care cardiac anaesthesiologist at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. She said: “There are a lot of young people in our Intensive Care Units (ICUs) – our youngest is a 38-year-old who had had no comorbidities (underlying health problems). “A lot of patients need help with breathing but there are not enough ventilators. “They’ve told us that starting from now we’ll have to choose who to intubate – priority will go to the young or those without comorbidities. “At Niguarda, the other big hospital in Milan, they are not intubating anyone over 60, which is really, really young.” She added: “This virus is so infectious that the only way to avoid a ‘massacre’ is to have the least number possible getting infected over the longest possible timescale.

“Right now, if we get 10,000 people in Italy in need of ventilators – when we only have 3,000 in the country – 7,000 people will die. “Rome right now is like where Milan was 10 days ago. In 10 days there has been an incredible escalation. “Lombardy, which has the best healthcare in the country, is collapsing, so I don’t dare to think what would happen in less efficient regions. “We’ve had no critical cases among children but with children, viruses are much less aggressive – think chickenpox or measles. “But the very young are crazy carriers. “A child with no symptoms will go to visit its grandparents, and basically kill them. So it’s essential to avoid contact between them”.

Read more …

Comprehensize overview from Tomas Pueyo.

Politicians, Community Leaders, Business Leaders: What To Do and When (M.)

When you’re done reading the article, this is what you’ll take away:
• The coronavirus is coming to you.
• It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
• It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
• When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
• Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
• Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
• They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
• The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
• That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.
• As a politician, community leader or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.

You might have fears today: What if I overreact? Will people laugh at me? Will they be angry at me? Will I look stupid? Won’t it be better to wait for others to take steps first? Will I hurt the economy too much? But in 2–4 weeks, when the entire world is in lockdown, when the few precious days of social distancing you will have enabled will have saved lives, people won’t criticize you anymore: They will thank you for making the right decision. [..] Countries that are prepared will see a fatality rate of ~0.5% (South Korea) to 0.9% (rest of China). Countries that are overwhelmed will have a fatality rate between ~3%-5% Put in another way: Countries that act fast can reduce the number of deaths by ten. And that’s just counting the fatality rate. Acting fast also drastically reduces the cases, making this even more of a no-brainer.

Read more …

Also weeks too late.

Trump Suspends Travel From Europe To US (BBC)

US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus. In a televised address, he said travel from 26 European countries would be suspended for the next 30 days. But he said the “strong but necessary” restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed. There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths. “To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe,” Mr Trump said from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening. “The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight,” he added. The travel order does not apply to US citizens. Mr Trump said the European Union had “failed to take the same precautions” as the US in fighting the virus.


A Presidential Proclamation, published shortly after Mr Trump’s speech, specified that the ban applies to anyone who has been in the EU’s Schengen border-free area within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US. This implies that Ireland is excluded from the ban as it is not one of the 26 Schengen countries. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also EU members without being part of the Schengen area. Mr Trump spoke just hours after Italy – the worst affected country outside China – announced tough new restrictions on its citizens. It will close all shops except food stores and pharmacies as part of its nationwide lockdown. He said the travel suspension would also “apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo” coming from Europe into the US. But he later tweeted to say that “trade will in no way be affected” by the new measures.

Read more …

Clean up the planet one step at a time.

Ban On European Travel To US Will Batter Airlines (R.)

The new U.S. ban on foreign citizens entering the country if they have traveled to Europe in recent weeks will heap more pressure on airlines already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, hitting European carriers the hardest, analysts said. The 30-day restrictions from Friday, which exclude Britain, are similar to those that went into effect targeting China on Feb. 1, and come after the outbreak’s rapid spread across the European continent and in the United States. Industry watchers warned the move could also create chaos at dozens of airports across Europe as passengers attempt a last-minute rush to fly to the United States before the ban takes effect. Flights from Europe can still operate to a limited number of U.S. airports with enhanced screening under measures announced on Wednesday evening.


But only U.S. citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members will be allowed in, severely denting the passenger base and hurting the U.S. tourism industry. U.S. President Donald Trump said the ban was needed because the country was entering a “critical time” in the fight against the virus, which has spread across the United States and killed at least 37 people and infected 1,281. “We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe,” Trump said in an address to the nation. “We will not delay.” The ban stops movement of people, not goods, he later clarified on Twitter. U.S. airlines had already slashed flight schedules to Italy, facing the largest European outbreak, and will take another hit from lower demand for flights from major destinations like France and Germany.

Read more …

Not clear at all. Makes you wonder where a vaccine should come from, and tells you it’ll take long time yet.

Why Does The Coronavirus Spread So Easily Between People? (Nature)

As the number of coronavirus infections approaches 100,000 people worldwide, researchers are racing to understand what makes it spread so easily. A handful of genetic and structural analyses have identified a key feature of the virus — a protein on its surface — that might explain why it infects human cells so readily. Other groups are investigating the doorway through which the new coronavirus enters human tissues — a receptor on cell membranes. Both the cell receptor and the virus protein offer potential targets for drugs to block the pathogen, but researchers say it is too early to be sure. “Understanding transmission of the virus is key to its containment and future prevention,” says David Veesler, a structural virologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who posted his team’s findings about the virus protein on the biomedical preprint server bioRxiv on 20 February.

The new virus spreads much more readily than the one that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS (also a coronavirus), and has infected more than ten times the number of people who contracted SARS. To infect a cell, coronaviruses use a ‘spike’ protein that binds to the cell membrane, a process that’s activated by specific cell enzymes. Genomic analyses of the new coronavirus have revealed that its spike protein differs from those of close relatives, and suggest that the protein has a site on it which is activated by a host-cell enzyme called furin. This is significant because furin is found in lots of human tissues, including the lungs, liver and small intestines, which means that the virus has the potential to attack multiple organs, says Li Hua, a structural biologist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began.

The finding could explain some of the symptoms observed in people with the coronavirus, such as liver failure, says Li, who co-authored a genetic analysis of the virus that was posted on the ChinaXiv preprint server on 23 February. SARS and other coronaviruses in the same genus as the new virus don’t have furin activation sites, he says. The furin activation site “sets the virus up very differently to SARS in terms of its entry into cells, and possibly affects virus stability and hence transmission”, says Gary Whittaker, a virologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His team published another structural analysis of the coronavirus’s spike protein on bioRxiv on 18 February.

Several other groups have also identified the activation site as possibly enabling the virus to spread efficiently between humans. They note that these sites are also found in other viruses that spread easily between people, including severe strains of the influenza virus. On these viruses, the activation site is found on a protein called haemagglutinin, not on the spike protein.

Read more …

Nice headline, but it’s only to boost the economy. It should be about the people.

6 Million Low-Income Australians To Get $750 Cash Coronavirus Stimulus (G.)

More than six million low-income earners will receive a $750 cash payment under a $17.6bn government stimulus package targeted at keeping Australians in work and avoiding the country’s first recession in almost 30 years. Announcing the package on Thursday, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said he was confident the targeted measures would be enough to “do the job” of propping up the economy, as the Coalition abandons a much-touted surplus for the current financial year and shifts it focus to maintaining economic growth. The stimulus boost is equivalent to 0.9% of GDP in the March quarter, and follows initial estimates from Treasury that the effect of the coronavirus downturn in the March quarter would be 0.5%, on top of a 0.2% hit from the summer bushfire crisis.


Three-quarters of the $17.6bn package will be directed to businesses, with a $6.7bn cashflow payment pegged to employee wages, $4bn tied to new investment incentives, $1.2bn to support apprentices, and a $1bn fund for hard-hit sectors such as tourism. Businesses will also be allowed to defer tax obligations, with the Australian Taxation Office announcing that it will offer relief to those hit hard by the downturn on a case-by-case basis. The household stimulus will cost $4.76bn, with payments to begin flowing from 31 March. All welfare recipients and concession card holders will receive the $750 payment, including 2.4 million pensioners and those with a commonwealth seniors card. The government has targeted low-income earners as they are most likely to spend the stimulus payment, with Treasury understood to have estimated a 150% return to the economy for every dollar spent.

Read more …

How much longer can it last?

Boeing Halts Hiring, Limits Overtime To Preserve Cash (CNBC)

Boeing is immediately suspending most hiring and implementing other measures to preserve cash as the rapid spread of the coronavirus roils the air travel industry, sending the manufacturer’s stock to the lowest level since mid-2017. Shares of the manufacturer plunged more than 18% — their biggest one-day percentage drop in more than four decades — to $189.08. Boeing’s plunge shaved more than 284 points off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, helping send the blue-chip index into a bear market. The company also is drawing down earlier than expected the entirety of a $13.8 billion loan it secured in January to give it a cushion to weather the turmoil.


Boeing is already reeling from the damage of two fatal crashes of its 737 Max and the worldwide grounding of the planes, which hits the one-year mark on Friday. “On top of the work of safely returning the 737 MAX to service and the financial impact of the pause in MAX production, we’re now facing a global economic disruption generated by the COVID-19 coronavirus,” Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, and CFO Greg Smith wrote in a note to employees Wednesday. The company is not laying off workers at this time, a Boeing official told CNBC. Boeing also doesn’t currently have plans to make any changes to its dividend, the official said. The company is also limiting travel and discretionary spending. It will also limit overtime to work necessary for its efforts to bring the 737 Max back in service and “other key efforts in support of our customers,” the executives wrote to employees.

Read more …

Nail. Coffin.

Washington State House Passes Bill To Drop Boeing Tax Break (R.)

Washington state’s House of Representatives passed a measure on Wednesday night that removes a key tax break for Boeing and other aerospace firms, in a bid to head off possible European tariffs on U.S. goods and ease a transatlantic trade dispute over aircraft subsidies. “This measure is important to protect our state’s economy,” House Democratic Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said by phone. “We don’t want tariffs levied by the EU on the aerospace industry but also on other key industries in the state like wine and agricultural products.” The measure passed 73-24 after winning approval on Tuesday in the Senate, a spokeswoman for House Democrats said. However, late changes to the legislation means it must be put to another vote in the Senate before it can go to Washington state Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for signing.


The World Trade Organization has found that Boeing and Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA), the world’s two largest planemakers, received billions of dollars of unfair subsidies in cases dating back to 2004. The global trade body has faulted both sides for failing to comply fully with previous rulings, opening the door to a tariff war. After years of debate, the focus of the European case against the United States involves a preferential state tax rate for aerospace introduced 16 years ago and renewed in 2013 to help attract production work for Boeing’s 777X. The planned law changes would remove the 40% saving on Business and Occupation tax, which saved Boeing some $118 million in 2018 based on published jetliner revenues.

Read more …

Isn’t he supposed to be on the corona team?

Mnuchin: IMF, World Bank Funds Won’t Repay Belt and Road Debts To China (R.)

The U.S. Treasury is working with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to gain full transparency of countries’ debts from China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and ensure that funds from the institutions are not used to repay China, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday. “We think this is critically important,” Mnuchin told a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. “We’re not ever going to be using money from these international organizations to pay back China.” Some countries saddled by debt from Belt and Road Projects, such as Pakistan, have turned to the IMF for assistance. Pakistan entered a $6 billion loan program with the Fund in July 2019.

Read more …

That queenie of yours is morally bankrupt as well.

Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Persuaded’ Prince Andrew To Snub FBI’s Epstein Probe (NYP)

Prince Andrew has hired a crisis management specialist dubbed “the backroom fixer” — after snubbing the FBI on the advice of Jeffrey Epstein’s accused madam Ghislaine Maxwell, according to reports. The Duke of York was on Monday once again shamed by US authorities who say he “completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation” with the investigation into his late pedophile pal’s crimes. Now a family friend of Maxwell’s claims Andrew was “persuaded” to do so at her urging. “Ghislaine told me that yes, the lawyers and Ghislaine have finally convinced Andrew that it would do no good for him to talk to the FBI,” Maxwell friend Laura Goldman told the Sun.


“He wanted to talk to them because he has nothing to hide,” Goldman said of the “honorable” 60-year-old royal. “But it was Ghislaine who persuaded him that it didn’t matter. The FBI will never be satisfied.” Media heiress Maxwell — who has been in hiding since her ex Epstein was busted on serious sex charges before his suicide last summer — is “beside herself” over the damage the scandal has done to Andrew and the British royal family. “She said that the attempt to question Prince Andrew is a publicity ploy and reeks of desperation.”

Read more …

Calling those who suffered most from Nazis, Nazis, is a bad idea.

Erdogan Slams Greece’s ‘Nazi’ Treatment Of Refugees (RT)

Athens’ treatment of thousands of refugees who have massed on the Turkey-Greece border is comparable to atrocities carried out by Nazi Germany, Turkey’s president has claimed amid the latest migrant row with the EU. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Greece in an address on Wednesday, claiming that Ankara’s Mediterranean neighbor has mistreated a flood of refugees that are trying to enter the EU through Turkey. “There’s no difference between those images from Greece’s border and what the Nazis did,” Erdogan said, apparently referring to photographs of clashes between migrants and Greek border police. He also announced that Turkey will keep its border open for migrants trying to gain entry to Europe, until Brussels agrees to meet commitments under a 2016 deal which Ankara claims have not been fulfilled.


The tactic has been described by some as tantamount to blackmail. Both sides are hoping to negotiate a new deal by the end of March. The Turkish president has a penchant for accusing other nations of Nazi-like behavior. In 2017, he accused Germany and the Netherlands of employing “Nazi practices” against Turkish citizens and his own government. When local German governments ran afoul of Erdogan that same year, the Turkish leader warned that European leaders “would revive gas chambers.” More recently, Erdogan has used the Nazi label to go after Tel Aviv. In 2018, he stated that “Hitler’s spirit re-emerges in some of Israel’s rulers,” adding that the Jewish state is “the most fascist and racist country in the world.”

Read more …

Oh, shut up and do something.

Greece Warned By EU It Must Uphold The Right To Asylum (G.)

The Greek government has been warned by the EU executive that it must uphold the right to asylum, as leaders from Brussels travel to Athens for talks on the migrant crisis at the EU’s borders. Ylva Johansson, EU commissioner for home affairs, said she wanted to discuss a detention centre where asylum seekers were reported to have been captured and beaten, before being expelled from Greece without the chance to speak to a lawyer or claim asylum. The New York Times reported on Tuesday of “a black site” in north eastern Greece where migrants are held without legal recourse before being expelled to Turkey.

Johansson, a Swedish social democrat who took charge of EU migration policy a little more than 100 days ago, said she would raise the issue of the detention centre with Greek government ministers on Thursday. “These kind of temporary detentions that they have set up – is one of the things I would like to know more about … Of course you can have detention for some period of people that have come, but of course you can’t beat them,” she said. The commission has been accused of failing to uphold EU law since Greece announced earlier this month it was suspending asylum applications for one month, a move at odds with European law and the Geneva convention.

While the UN agency for refugees has said the Greek decision has no legal basis, the commission has said it needs time to assess the situation. Sidestepping whether Greece’s decision was illegal, Johansson said: “We are going to discuss actually what they are doing, but they have to let people apply for asylum.” She also said the commission did not plan to suspend the right to asylum by invoking a little-known clause of the EU treaty that allows Brussels to propose “provisional measures”, to help a member state facing an emergency because of large numbers of migrant arrivals.

Read more …

Oh well, we’ll all be dead…

Greenland And Antarctica Ice Loss Accelerating (BBC)

Earth’s great ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctica, are now losing mass six times faster than they were in the 1990s thanks to warming conditions. A comprehensive review of satellite data acquired at both poles is unequivocal in its assessment of accelerating trends, say scientists. Between them, Greenland and Antarctica lost 6.4 trillion tonnes of ice in the period from 1992 to 2017. This was sufficient to push up global sea-levels up by 17.8mm. “That’s not a good news story,” said Prof Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds in the UK. “Today, the ice sheets contribute about a third of all sea-level rise, whereas in the 1990s, their contribution was actually pretty small at about 5%.

This has important implications for the future, for coastal flooding and erosion,” he told BBC News. The researcher co-leads a project called the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise, or Imbie. It’s a team of experts who have reviewed polar measurements acquired by observational spacecraft over nearly three decades. These are satellites that have tracked the changing volume, flow and gravity of the ice sheets.

[..] Greenland and Antarctica are responding to climate change in slightly different ways. The southern polar ice sheet’s losses come from the melting effects of warmer ocean water attacking its edges. The northern polar ice sheet feels a similar sort of assault but is also experiencing surface melt from warmer air temperatures. Of that combined 17.8mm contribution to sea-level rise, 10.6mm (60 %) was due to Greenland ice losses and 7.2mm (40%) was due to Antarctica. The combined rate of ice loss for the pair was running at about 81 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s. By the 2010s, it had climbed to 475 billion tonnes per year.

Read more …

Oh, sure, the European Commission will save the world.

New Rules Could Spell End Of ‘Throwaway Culture’ (BBC)

New rules could spell the death of a “throwaway” culture in which products are bought, used briefly, then binned. The regulations will apply to a range of everyday items such as mobile phones, textiles, electronics, batteries, construction and packaging. They will ensure products are designed and manufactured so they last – and so they’re repairable if they go wrong. It should mean that your phone lasts longer and proves easier to fix. That may be especially true if the display or the battery needs changing. It’s part of a worldwide movement called the Right to Repair, which has spawned citizens’ repair workshops in several UK cities. The plan is being presented by the European Commission. It’s likely to create standards for the UK, too – even after Brexit.


That’s because it probably won’t be worthwhile for manufacturers to make lower-grade models that can only be sold in Britain. It’s all part of what one green group is calling the most ambitious and comprehensive proposal ever put forward to reduce the environmental and climate impact of the things we use and wear. Proposals aim at making environmentally-friendly products the norm. It could mean manufacturers using screws to hold parts in place, rather than glue. The rules will also fight what is known as “premature obsolescence”, the syndrome in which manufacturers make goods with deliberately low lifespan to force consumers into buying a newer model.

Read more …

This hurts. Physically.

Chelsea Manning Hospitalized After Suicide Attempt (G.)

Chelsea Manning’s legal team said that the former intelligence analyst had tried to take her own life on Wednesday but was transported to a hospital where she was recovering. The Alexandria sheriff, Dana Lawhorne, said: “There was an incident at approximately 12.11pm today at the Alexandria adult detention center involving inmate Chelsea Manning. It was handled appropriately by our professional staff and Ms Manning is safe.” Manning has been in jail since May 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She was scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday for a hearing on a motion to terminate the civil contempt sanctions stemming from that refusal.


Andy Stepanian, a spokesman for Manning’s legal team, said in a statement on Wednesday that Manning “remains unwavering” in her refusal to participate the hearing. “In spite of those sanctions – which have so far included over a year of so-called ‘coercive’ incarceration and nearly half a million dollars in threatened fines – she remains unwavering in her refusal to participate in a secret grand jury process that she sees as highly susceptible to abuse,” her attorneys said in a statement. “Ms Manning has previously indicated that she will not betray her principles, even at risk of grave harm to herself.” In the motion filed last month, Manning’s lawyers argued that Manning had shown during her incarceration that she could not be coerced into testifying before a grand jury. Manning served seven years in a military prison for leaking a trove of documents to WikiLeaks before Barack Obama commuted the remainder of her 35-year sentence in 2017.

Read more …

How many Nobel prizes has he received so far?

Internet ‘Is Not Working For Women And Girls’ – Tim Berners-Lee (G.)

Women and girls face a “growing crisis” of online harms, with sexual harassment, threatening messages and discrimination making the web an unsafe place to be, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned. The inventor of the world wide web said the “dangerous trend” in online abuse was forcing women out of jobs, causing girls to skip school, damaging relationships and silencing female opinions, prompting him to conclude that “the web is not working for women and girls”. “The world has made important progress on gender equality thanks to the unceasing drive of committed champions everywhere,” Berners-Lee wrote in an open letter to mark the web’s 31st birthday on Thursday. “But I am seriously concerned that online harms facing women and girls – especially those of colour, from LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalised groups – threaten that progress.”

The warning comes a year after Berners-Lee launched the Contract for the Web, a global action plan to save the web from forces that threaten to drag the world into a “digital dystopia”. Without tackling misogynistic online abuse, the aims of the contract cannot be achieved, he said. “It’s up to all of us to make the web work for everyone,” the letter states. “That requires the attention of all those who shape technology, from CEOs and engineers to academics and public officials.” Berners-Lee highlights three areas that need “urgent” attention. First is the digital divide that keeps more than half of the world’s women offline, largely because it is too expensive, or they do not have access to the equipment or skills to use it.

Second is online safety: according to a survey by Berners-Lee’s Web Foundation, more than half of young women have experienced violence online, including sexual harassment, threatening messages and having private images shared without consent. The vast majority believe the problem is getting worse. The third threat comes from badly designed artificial intelligence systems that repeat and exacerbate discrimination. “Many companies are working hard to tackle this discrimination. But unless they dedicate resources and diversify teams to mitigate bias, they risk expanding discrimination at a speed and scale never seen before,” he writes.

[..] Berners-Lee said the coronavirus outbreak showed how urgent it was to take action. As workplaces and schools are forced to close, the web should be a “lifeline” that allows people to keep working and children to be educated. He called on companies and governments to tackle online abuse as a top priority this year. More data needs to be collected and published on women’s experiences online, while products, polices and services should all be designed based on data and feedback from women of all backgrounds, he said.

Read more …

 

 

 

If you read us, please support us. Help the Automatic Earth survive.

 

Mar 102020
 


James F. Gibson Tent of A. Foulke, sutler, 1st Brigade, Horse Artillery. Brandy Station, Virginia 1864

 

Thread: Intensivist/A&E Consultant Currently In Northern Italy (Twitter)
Italy Not Europe’s Coronavirus Hotbed, Just First Country That Snapped (RT)
Trump Has Not Been Tested For Coronavirus – White House (R.)
Seattle-Area Nursing Home Unable To Test 65 Workers With COVID-19 Symptoms (R.)
Coronavirus Symptoms Usually Take 5 Days To Appear – Study (CNN)
Bail Out The People First, Before Companies, In Coronavirus Crisis (Ghitis)
China’s Hubei Province May Allow Residents To Travel (R.)
Singapore Charges Visitors For Coronavirus Treatment (R.)
No Coronavirus Risk From Holy Communion, Says Greek Holy Synod (K.)
Smartphone Sales In China Were Halved In February (ZH)
Boeing Shares Plunge On Coronavirus, 737 MAX Wiring Bundle Setback (R.)
In Brussels, Erdogan Asks NATO For ‘Assistance’ On Syria And Migrants (RT)
Prince Andrew Won’t Voluntarily Cooperate In Epstein Inquiry – Prosecutor (G.)
Court Case Against Alleged CIA Vault 7 Whistleblower Ends In Mistrial (WSWS)
Democrats Were The FIrst To Discuss Biden’s Cognitive Fitness (Greenwald)
Russia ‘Hired Network Of Britons To Go After Enemies Of Putin’ (G.)

 

Cases 114,614 (+ 4,007 from yesterday’s 110,607)

Deaths 4030 (+ 199 from yesterday’s 3,831)

 

Italy’s the story. 100 deaths a day. Germany finally has (acknowledged) its first two deaths. Spain gets very ugly. Lots of clocks ticking.

Lombardy’s world-class health care system has basically collapsed. You’re looking at your future, unless you’re very very lucky.

It’s not about the number or percentage of deaths and cases, it’s about the capacity of the system, and the speed with which countries react. Both fall very short.

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

And the suspects for Wave 2 continue to rise.

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

Most poignant news today. A Twitter thread that describes an American emergency doctor working in Lombrady, Italy. The system’s collapsed.

Thread: Intensivist/A&E Consultant Currently In Northern Italy (Twitter)

1/ ‘I feel the pressure to give you a quick personal update about what is happening in Italy, and also give some quick direct advice about what you should do.

2/ Lumbardy is the most developed region in Italy and it has a extraordinary good healthcare, I have worked in Italy, UK and Aus and don’t make the mistake to think that what is happening is happening in a 3rd world country.

3/ The current situation is difficult to imagine and numbers do not explain things at all. Our hospitals are overwhelmed by Covid-19, they are running 200% capacity

4/ We’ve stopped all routine, all ORs have been converted to ITUs and they are now diverting or not treating all other emergencies like trauma or strokes. There are hundreds of pts with severe resp failure and many of them do not have access to anything above a reservoir mask.

5/ Patients above 65 or younger with comorbidities are not even assessed by ITU, I am not saying not tubed, I’m saying not assessed and no ITU staff attends when they arrest. Staff are working as much as they can but they are starting to get sick and are emotionally overwhelmed.

6/ My friends call me in tears because they see people dying in front of them and they can only offer some oxygen. Ortho and pathologists are being given a leaflet and sent to see patients on NIV. (Noninvasive ventilation)

Read more …

This may be true, but Italy did screw up badly multiple times. Thing is, at least other countries will, too.

Italy Not Europe’s Coronavirus Hotbed, Just First Country That Snapped (RT)

With the entirety of Italy put under quarantine, the Mediterranean nation has been seen as the hardest-hit by the coronavirus in Europe. Italian journalist Evgeny Utkin believes, however, that it’s just the most tested one.
Utkin, a journalist based in Italy and an expert on economics and politics, told RT that he believes the situation with the coronavirus as reported in the press – namely, that it is ravaging Italy and yet somehow affecting its neighbors, such as Switzerland and Germany, on a far smaller scale – does not represent the reality on the ground. The catch, he said, is that while in some countries the number of those infected might be underreported, in Italy – at least at the beginning of the outbreak – there was an overreaction instead.

“Italy was the first country whose nerves snapped,” Utkin said. “They started testing absolutely everyone.” Such rigorous testing sent the number of confirmed cases skyrocketing, Utkin believes, with the alarming statistics soon driving panic and scoring international headlines. Over that past weekend, northern Italy, where the outbreak erupted, was put on lockdown, which was further extended to the whole of the country on Monday. At least 463 died of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – across Italy as of Monday, and the total number of cases stands at over 9,000. While the spread of the outbreak is a legitimate reason for concern, Utkin said he does not believe that Italy will bear the brunt of the newest virus scourge in the Old World.

“I don’t’ believe that Italy is the European hotbed of coronavirus. It’s more or less the same everywhere. If you take the percentage [of tests], it’ll turn out, I think, that other countries have had it worse, even.” With Italy’s hospitals filled to the brim with coronavirus patients, suspected and confirmed, authorities have scaled back their zeal for testing, and are now screening only those who display particular symptoms or are considered to be at risk of complications. Italy will be reeling from the economic damage caused by the outbreak for the years to come, the expert told RT, predicting the country’s GDP might plummet as much as 10 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

“It would be a colossal slump, I don’t know how it will recover,” Utkin said, adding that the outbreak has completely “killed” the country’s burgeoning tourism and restaurant industries. Utkin is convinced that Italy will ask for financial assistance from the international community, but noted it will hardly be enough to offset the losses its economy has already suffered. “Italy has never fallen so deeply. I have not seen a crisis like this, in terms of economy as well as privacy.”

Read more …

Don’t think they thought this through. Trump and Pence are seen together all the time. If both fall gravely ill, Pelosi takes over. Is that what they want? No-go for the same reason they can’t travel together. President must be tested, VP too.

Trump Has Not Been Tested For Coronavirus – White House (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump has not been tested for the coronavirus, the White House said on Monday, though at least two lawmakers with whom he has recently come into contact have announced they were self-quarantining after attending a conference with a person who had tested positive for the virus. “The President has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms. President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, referring to the acronym describing the virus.

Read more …

US health care is already overwhelmed.

Seattle-Area Nursing Home Unable To Test 65 Workers With COVID-19 Symptoms (R.)

The Seattle-area nursing home at the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak said on Monday it had no kits to test 65 employees showing symptoms of the virus that has killed at least 13 patients at the long-term care center. The staffers, representing more than a third of the Life Care Center’s 180 employees, are out sick with symptoms resembling the coronavirus and a federal strike team of nurses and doctors is helping care for 53 patients remaining in the center. With the Kirkland, Washington, home accounting for over half of all coronavirus deaths in the United States, and all its patients tested, it was unclear why it had not been given kits for staff even as the University of Washington offered to process tests.

“We would like more kits to test employees,” Life Care Center spokesman Tim Killian told reporters, adding he did not know why they had not been forthcoming. “We’ve been asking the various government agencies that have been supplying us with test kits.” Twenty-six of the nursing home’s 120 patients have died since Feb. 19, with 13 of 15 autopsies carried out so far showing that the coronavirus was the cause. Twenty-one of the center’s residents, including those now in hospitals, have tested positive for the virus. The outbreak has shown how quickly the coronavirus spreads through elderly residents with weak immune systems and underlying health conditions living in close quarters.

“We’ve had patients who, within an hour’s time, show no symptoms to going to acute symptoms and being transferred to the hospital,” Killian told a news conference on Sunday. “And we’ve had patients die relatively quickly under those circumstances.”

Read more …

This will tempt people to party on day 6. Smart?

Coronavirus Symptoms Usually Take 5 Days To Appear – Study (CNN)

People infected by the novel coronavirus tend to develop symptoms about five days after exposure, and almost always within two weeks, according to a study released Monday. That incubation period is consistent with previous estimates from public health officials, and the findings suggest that 14 days of quarantine are appropriate for people potentially exposed to the coronavirus. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has used that standard during the current pandemic — recommending, for example, that people self-quarantine for two weeks after traveling to countries with widespread coronavirus transmission, such as Italy or South Korea.

When it comes to those quarantines, the incubation period “tells us how long it’s reasonable to do that,” said Justin Lessler, an author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, also suggests that symptomatic screening for the virus — such as temperature checks at an airport — may be missing recently infected people. “If somebody is in their incubation period, that is the window when somebody who’s already been infected can walk into the country and not be detected by symptom-based surveillance” said Lessler. That could explain why the CDC’s efforts to screen more than 46,000 fliers for “fever, cough, and shortness of breath” have resulted in just one positive coronavirus case, according to the CDC’s most recent screening data, which was released at the end of February.

[..] To estimate the incubation period, researchers scoured more than 180 reports of coronavirus in places without widespread transmission of the virus — areas, in other words, where infection was likely due to outside travel. Because the study was conducted early in the coronavirus epidemic, community transmission at the time was limited to Wuhan, China. That allowed researchers to estimate the “time of exposure” to the coronavirus by determining when a person was in Wuhan — the only plausible source of infection. By comparing travel to Wuhan with the emergence of symptoms, researchers could then estimate an incubation period for the virus: usually about 5 days, and rarely more than 12. “We have sort of a narrow window at the beginning of the epidemic to really tease out what’s going,” said Lessler. “If it’s everywhere, you don’t know where people got infected.”


Read more …

Smart comment. On CNN no less.

Bail Out The People First, Before Companies, In Coronavirus Crisis (Ghitis)

Unlike during the 2008 Great Recession, when the government leaped to assist financial institutions, the first priority this time should be helping individuals in need. Only then should we help businesses caught in this storm. By now, Trump should be wishing that the Federal Reserve Bank had ignored his pressure to lower interest rates. If rates were higher, the Fed would have much more powerful ammunition: it would be able to aggressively lower rates, which is the strongest weapon in its arsenal. But that arsenal is much depleted. In 2008, the government distributed hundreds of billions of dollars, mostly to bail out banks and large corporations. (GM was the main manufacturer rescued by the Obama administration.) While most banks survived, close to 10 million homeowners lost their houses to foreclosure; millions of people lost their jobs.


That overwhelming tilt in favor of helping struggling businesses instead of suffering individuals is, in my view, one of the reasons populism gained strength, as demonstrated by elections throughout western democracies in the 2010s. This time, the source of the problem is not a breakdown in the financial system. This is very different. We now face a major health assault. The pandemic is not only causing illnesses and straining health care resources, it is attacking the economy from a multitude of angles. Manufacturers are facing supply chain disruption, shortages are developing and demand is collapsing. [..] The obvious first order of business is clear: Everyone should have access to health care right now. It’s not only the humane thing to do, it’s the smartest way to slow the contagion. People who become infected should not fear bankruptcy if they go to the doctor. If they do, the epidemic will continue to spread.

Read more …

Chinese roulette?! Is this just so you can make a few extra iPhones?

China’s Hubei Province May Allow Residents To Travel (R.)

China’s Hubei province is studying plans to allow people in areas at a medium- or low-risk of contracting the coronavirus to start traveling, state media reported on Tuesday, citing a meeting chaired by the province’s party chief Ying Yong. The meeting, reported by the official Hubei Daily, said that they may allow people to start traveling by using a “health code”, a mobile-based monitoring system that has been rolled out by many local authorities in China in recent weeks. Hubei province and its capital Wuhan are at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Read more …

Oh, get a life.

Singapore Charges Visitors For Coronavirus Treatment (R.)

Singapore has started charging visitors for coronavirus treatment, the city-state said as it reported three new imported infections, two of which involved Indonesians. Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, reported its first virus case earlier this month and officially has just 19 infections compared to 160 in Singapore. Disease experts have questioned how many cases go undiagnosed in Indonesia. Singapore’s new measures announced late Monday came into effect on March 7, when authorities said two symptomatic Indonesian travelers arrived in Singapore. Both had reported coronavirus symptoms in Indonesia before arriving in Singapore. One had previously sought treatment at a hospital in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.


Another case involved a Singaporean who had visited her sister in Indonesia who had pneumonia. Declaring its new stance on payment for treatment, the health ministry did not mention these specific cases. “In view of the rising number of COVID-19 infections globally, and the expected rise in the number of confirmed cases in Singapore, we will need to prioritise the resources at our public hospitals,” the health ministry said in a statement. Foreigners who are short-term visit pass holders who seek treatment for COVID-19 in Singapore need to pay but testing for the virus remains free. Treatment of severe respiratory infections in Singapore public hospitals typically cost between S$6,000 – S$8,000 ($4,300-5,800), according to the Ministry of Health’s website.

Read more …

Sure, funny at first. But not very long.

No Coronavirus Risk From Holy Communion, Says Greek Holy Synod (K.)

Amid fears of a broader coronavirus contagion across the country, the Holy Synod, the ruling body of the Greek Orthodox Church, on Monday issued a statement saying that the disease does not transmit through the distribution of holy communion by the chalice. “For the members of the Church, attending the Holy Eucharist… certainly cannot be a cause of disease transmission,” the Holy Synod said. “Faithful of all ages know that coming to receive the holy communion, even in the midst of a pandemic, is both a practical affirmation of self-surrender to the Living God and a potent manifestation of love,” it said. The Geek federation of hospital doctors has stressed that no exception “for religious, sacramental or metaphysical reasons” should be made to state health warnings to please the Church. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Greece stands at 73.

Read more …

The worst effect of the virus, I’m sure.

Smartphone Sales In China Were Halved In February (ZH)

Update (2015ET): Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives called the decline of iPhone sales in China a “doomsday type” like decline. Ives said the fall was an “unprecedented” drop and was “not surprising given the essential lockdown that most of China saw” in February. Wedbush expects Chinese demand to come back online in the second half of the year. [..] Alternative data first showed us the incoming economic crash developing in early February, only to be confirmed weeks later. Twin shocks plague the Chinese economy, which is a supply shock with manufacturers operating at less than full capacity, along with a demand shock, where consumers have been confined to their homes in forced quarantine, unable to spend.


So, on Monday morning, when new data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) reveals Apple smartphone sales in China were halved in February, this really shouldn’t surprise ZeroHedge readers, considering they’ve been well informed about what would happen next. And it wasn’t just Apple with plunging activity, all mobile phone brands operating in China saw shipments halved over the month. CAICT said 6.34 million devices were shipped last month, down 54.7% from 14 million in the same month the previous year. This was the lowest level of February shipments since 2012, when the CAICT data first became available. Android brands, including Huawei and Xiaomi, accounted for most of the drop, collectively saw shipments at 5.85 million units for the month, compared to 12.72 million units last year. Apple shipped 494,000 last month, down from 1.27 million in February 2019.

Read more …

Even if they got permission to fly the 737Max, there’d be no passengers on them.

Boeing Shares Plunge On Coronavirus, 737 MAX Wiring Bundle Setback (R.)

Shares of Boeing dropped more than 12% on Monday amid a broader market plunge as pressure mounted on global aviation from the spread of the coronavirus and U.S. regulators said they disagreed with Boeing’s argument about the safety of wiring bundles on the grounded 737 MAX jet. Underscoring the global risks for America’s largest exporter, Ethiopian investigators singled out faulty 737 MAX systems in a new interim report on last year’s crash, the second of two fatal accidents that plunged Boeing into its worst-ever crisis. Industry sources said airlines, facing a sharp drop in travel demand due to rising coronavirus outbreaks, were starting to request deferring aircraft deliveries and cash downpayments to Boeing and European rival Airbus.

Boeing shares were down at $229.12 in afternoon trading, a level not seen since 2017. Adding to a sense of mounting anxiety, Boeing’s new Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun was forced to apologize to senior staff after a rare attack on his predecessor and company leadership, which sources say provoked criticism from within the senior ranks of the company as well as the rank-and file. Calhoun, who took over as CEO in January after serving about a decade on Boeing’s board, told senior staff by email on Friday he was “both embarrassed and regretful” over his comments in a New York Times interview earlier in the week. “It suggests I broke my promise to former CEO Dennis Muilenburg, the executive team and our people that I would have their back when it counted most,” Calhoun said.

“I want to reassure you that my promise remains intact.” Calhoun’s email came as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Boeing on Friday it did not agree with the planemaker’s argument that its 737 MAX wiring bundles meet safety standards. Nonetheless, the FAA said it was now up to Boeing to decide how to proceed. [..] Boeing in February said it did not believe it was required to separate or move wiring bundles on its grounded 737 MAX jetliner that regulators had warned could cause a short circuit on the 737 MAX, and lead to a crash if pilots did not react soon enough. There are more than a dozen different spots on the 737 MAX where wiring bundles may be too close together. Most of the locations are under the cockpit in an electrical bay.

Read more …

“Erdogan is in Brussels, demanding help from NATO with both the conflict on his southern border and the migrants he tried to unleash on the West, now that neither situation is going according to plan.”

In Brussels, Erdogan Asks NATO For ‘Assistance’ On Syria And Migrants (RT)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Brussels, demanding help from NATO with both the conflict on his southern border and the migrants he tried to unleash on the West, now that neither situation is going according to plan. After meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, the Turkish leader said he requested “additional assistance” from the alliance, for the “defense” of the Turkish border with Syria and “in connection with the migration challenge.” “We expect concrete support from all our allies to this struggle,” Erdogan added, urging the allies to support Turkey “without discrimination and with no political preconditions.” Stoltenberg praised Turkey as an “important” ally which has “contributed to our shared security in many ways,” and said the alliance is “prepared to continue to support Turkey and we are exploring what more we may be able to do.”


It is unclear what those platitudes may amount to in practice, however. Ankara did not bother coordinating with its NATO allies when it sent troops into Syria’s Idlib province last month – or back in October 2019, causing some strain within the bloc. Though it seemed for a moment that Turkish and Russian troops in Syria might come to blows, the crisis was averted when Erdogan went to Moscow and agreed to a ceasefire last week. The main focus of Erdogan’s trip to Brussels is Greece’s refusal to open its border to a wave of migrants that the Turkish president unleashed amid the recent fighting in Syria. Tens of thousands of migrants – only a few actual refugees from the Syrian conflict among them, apparently – heard the borders were open and surged towards Greece, only to be halted at the border fence.

Read more …

International arrest warrant?

Prince Andrew Won’t Voluntarily Cooperate In Epstein Inquiry – Prosecutor (G.)

Prince Andrew has “completely shut the door” on cooperating with US investigators in the Jeffrey Epstein case and they are now “considering” further options, a New York prosecutor said on Monday. Andrew was a friend of Epstein, the wealthy financier and convicted sex offender whose death in custody while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in New York last year was ruled a suicide. Andrew denies all claims of sexual misconduct relating to the Epstein case but has stepped back from public duties as a result of his connection to it. Speaking to reporters on Monday, the Manhattan US attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation and our office is considering its options.”


In November, Andrew said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required”. Berman made a similar claim in January, which former sex crimes prosecutors told the Guardian was most likely a move designed to win political support for the investigation. Buckingham Palace said then it would not comment and the matter was being dealt with by the prince’s legal team. Contacted on Monday, a Palace spokeswoman said: “The issue is being dealt with by the Duke of York’s legal team.” Buckingham Palace has consistently refused to reveal any details of Andrew’s legal team but the Duke has reportedly hired Clare Montgomery, a senior barrister at Matrix Chambers, whose clients have included Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s former dictator [..] She also prosecuted the Metropolitan police over the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, shot dead in a failed anti-terror operation.

Read more …

A new element: Assange could face death penalty after all. The UK cannot extradite if it’s in play.

Court Case Against Alleged CIA Vault 7 Whistleblower Ends In Mistrial (WSWS)

The federal proceedings against Joshua Schulte, a former employee of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who was accused by the American government of providing WikiLeaks with a trove of documents exposing illegal spying operations, have ended in a mistrial. After a week of deliberations, the jury returned on Monday to state that it could not reach an agreement on the most serious charges facing Schulte. The divided opinion centred on eight counts under the Espionage Act, including illegally gathering and transmitting national defence information. The jury had only agreed to convict Schulte on the lesser counts of contempt of court and making false statements to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Schulte will remain imprisoned and likely faces a retrial.

The failure of the prosecution to convict Schulte of the charges relating to WikiLeaks’ 2017 Vault 7 publication, which consisted of leaked documents from within the CIA, is significant. It may mark a hurdle in the campaign of the US government against WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange, who faces extradition from Britain to the US and prosecution under Espionage Act charges over separate 2010 and 2011 releases. It is clear that if he is extradited, Assange could face additional US charges, possibly related to Vault 7. Three days after closing arguments in the Schulte trial, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials confirmed that it was possible that Assange would face additional counts carrying the death penalty if he was dispatched to the US.

The timing of their statements, which contradict the previous claims of US allies, could indicate that there is much at stake for Assange in the attempted US prosecution of Schulte. [..] The publication of Vault 7 in early 2017 was the trigger for a major escalation in the US government vendetta against Assange, culminating in his illegal expulsion from Ecuador’s London embassy last year, his arrest by the British police and imprisonment in a maximum-security prison. Schulte’s trial, moreover, coincided with the first week of the British extradition hearing against Assange, which underscored the similarities in the lawless treatment of the WikiLeaks publisher and his alleged CIA source. Prosecutors have described the Vault 7 leak, which they accuse Schulte of being responsible for, as the largest in the entire history of the CIA.

Read more …

[..] establishment Democrats were the ones who first spread insinuations and even explicit accusations about Biden’s cognitive decline when they thought doing so could help them defeat him and/or because it genuinely concerned them regarding his ability to defeat Trump.

Democrats Were The FIrst To Discuss Biden’s Cognitive Fitness (Greenwald)

it is visible to the naked eye that the 77-year-old six-term Senator and two-term Vice President is in serious cognitive decline. That is a grave matter not just because the establishment wing of the Democratic Party wants to put him in charge of the world’s most dangerous nuclear arsenal, a large chunk of the planet’s health, and the welfare of hundreds of millions of people, but also because it directly pertains to whether he can sustain the rigors and spotlight of a General Election against the incumbent President. And multiple incidents over the past couple weeks — from Biden’s forgetting the words of the most iconic and memorized passage of the Declaration of Independence to confusing his wife for his sister to spouting sentences that make no sense — have only intensified those worries.

But, as the Democratic establishment has united with creepy speed and obedience behind Biden in order to stop the Sanders candidacy, those who now raise these concerns instantly come under a withering assault of insults and attacks from Democratic Party operatives along with their crucial media allies: thinly disguised pro-Biden reporters who continue to insist on wearing the unconvincing and fraudulent costume of neutrality. They are invoking the classic Orwellian formulation from the novel 1984: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

CNN’s Democratic Party consultant Karen Finney condemned the discussion of Biden’s cognitive capabilities as “truly a disgusting low blow,” demanding that former Democratic presidential candidates Julian Castro and Cory Booker — both of whom themselves had commented upon Biden’s cognitive failures (on camera!) — announce (falsely) that their prior comments about Biden had been distorted. Castro’s Communication’s Director, Sawyer Hackett, dutifully accused those who were raising these concerns of “push[ing] Trump messaging about Biden”; he also denied that Castro (or Booker) had ever themselves questioned Biden’s cognitive competence, warning those who are raising the issue: “don’t try to throw Julián and Cory in front of you when you do.”

Meanwhile, Politico and CNN reporter Ryan Lizza, more devoted to defending Biden than even DNC functionaries, spent all weekend conspiratorially insinuating that journalists who were raising concerns over Biden’s cognitive fitness were part of a joint “coordinated” attack from the Sanders and Trump campaigns. Lizza and others like him promoted various outraged articles from Democratic Party-loyal sites expressing all kinds of indignation — after four years of open season of musing casually about Trump’s dementia — that anyone would even dare discuss Biden’s cognitive fitness to occupy the most powerful political position in the world. They all insisted that this was some sort of very recent invention on the part of the Sanders and Trump world to stop the Biden juggernaut: a last-minute act of desperation from the Far Right and the Far Left as Biden ascends to his rightful place in the Oval Office.

The problem with all of this? Aside from the fact that Biden’s cognitive decline is visible to the naked eye and it is incredibly reckless and repressive to demand that it be supressed, these concerns were first raised not by Trump operatives nor by Sanders supporters, nor were they first raised within the last several weeks. Quite the opposite is true: they were raised repeatedly over the last year principally by Democratic Party officials and their most loyal allies in the media.

Read more …

The day the stupid MH17 trial starts, which will take years, The Guardian runs this by Luke Harding. And if there’s anyone to rival Harding in the lying sack-of-shit department, it’s Bill Browder. So that’s who Harding writes about.

Russia ‘Hired Network Of Britons To Go After Enemies Of Putin’ (G.)

Russia has been accused of hiring a network of British politicians and consultants to help advance its criminal interests and to “go after” Vladimir Putin’s enemies in London, MPs who drew up the Russia report suppressed by Boris Johnson were told. In secret evidence submitted to parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), the campaigner and financier Bill Browder claimed Moscow had been able to “infiltrate” UK society by using well-paid British intermediaries. Some had “reason to know exactly what they are doing and for whom”, Browder told the committee. Others “work unwittingly for Russian state interests”, he said.

The alleged intermediaries include politicians from both Labour and the Conservative parties, former intelligence officers and diplomats, and leading public relations firms. Collectively, they form what Browder calls a “western buffer network”. There is no suggestion in Browder’s testimony that British citizens broke the law. The regime in Moscow uses these professionals to mask its “entangled” state and criminal interests, he alleged. It deploys them to attack Putin critics, “enhance Russian propaganda and disinformation” and to “facilitate and conceal massive money-laundering operations”, he said. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Browder’s claims false and “totally groundless”. Questions about corruption at the heart of the Russian state were “a perfect example of a maniac-style Russophobia”, Peskov said.

[..] Browder was one of several expert witnesses invited to give evidence to MPs and peers. In September 2018 he submitted a 14-page statement, which included a number of recommendations. They include setting up a US-style register of individuals working for foreign state interests, as well as extra resources for regulators, investigators, police and prosecutors. He calls on Companies House in London to review filings made by firms linked to Russian money-laundering scandals. Speaking to the Guardian, Browder said: “Yes, there are members of the Russian security services working out of the Russian embassy under diplomatic cover. [..] “There are Russian oligarchs who have a much greater impact on the security of this country. What’s most shocking is that the Russian government is indirectly hiring British nationals to assist them in its intelligence operations.”

Read more …

 

Do it yourself face mask

 


 

 

If you read us, please support us. Help the Automatic Earth survive.

 

Mar 092020
 


 

‘Fake Wealth’ Set To Pop (ABR)
Global Markets Plunge 7-8%, Oil Falls 30% To $30 (G.)
Goldman Cuts Brent Forecasts To $30 On Price War, Virus (R.)
Gig Economy Workers Can’t Afford To Be Ill (G.)
Plummeting Oil Prices And Mortgage Rates Could Boost Consumers (CNBC)
More Countries Will Adopt Italy’s Measures – Austria PM (G.)
Leaked Italy Quarantine Plans Create Chaos, Threaten To Spread Virus (ZH)
Charities Preparing To Feed Children If Schools Shut Over Coronavirus (G.)
NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can’ (NBC)
A Perfect Storm Of Nationalism And Financial Speculation (Varoufakis)
Tyre Wear Produces 1,000 Times More Harmful Pollution Than Car Exhausts (BW)
Putin Saves Erdogan From Himself (Escobar)
Fiona Hill Says Putin Has America ‘Exactly Where He Wants Us’ (CNN)

 

 

As I wrote yesterday in The Virus is a Time Machine, it’s not about the number of deaths or cases, it’s about the disruption. Today, stock markets are down 7-8%, and oil plummeted 30% to $30. At your service. “Fake Wealth” is popping, say some.

Italy has an oversized role today so far, but there are a number of countries that could take off at any time now. As I said in that article, US, Germany, France, Spain appear to be in a phase where for instance Italy was about a week ago.

Something odd about the numbers today is that COVID2019.app puts South Korea at 8,100 cases, while the other two have it at around 7,400. It must be hard getting the numbers right, and on time.

 

Cases 110,607 (+ 4,120 from yesterday’s 106,487)

Deaths 3,831 (+ 231 from yesterday’s 3,600)

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

Smart cookie.

‘Fake Wealth’ Set To Pop (ABR)

Sharemarket and property investors are about to experience a reckoning that sweeps away the pretence of “fake wealth and artificial economy”, Lucerne Investment Partners portfolio manager Jerome Lander says. In a note to clients issued on Monday, Mr Lander said investors were “reacting in horror to the reality of the coronavirus as it begins its exponential growth around the world”. His note came as the Australian sharemarket was experiencing its biggest one-day fall since the global financial crisis, with the S&P/ASX 200 plunging 6 per cent to a 14-month low of 5840.90 amid a collapse in oil prices. “This is a truly frightening pandemic with significant ramifications which much of the developed world is unlikely to cope with well,” Mr Lander said.

“The reality is ICUs [intensive care units] are likely to be overrun around the world and people will increasingly seek to avoid social contact and hide at home in order to avoid contracting the deadly virus.” Mr Lander said a 10 per cent ICU admission rate for Italy’s 1492 cases of coronavirus was a “truly horrifying statistic”. Underlying economic weaknesses was being expose, he said. “One bubble after another is at risk of popping, as the fake wealth and artificial economy of the last few years explodes in the face of a devastating global recession.” With sharemarkets now “crashing, with delusional housing prices likely to follow”, he predicted central banks would shortly attempt to restore order to financial markets through so-called quantitative easing.

“Unlimited QE is likely but won’t help alter the destruction from the pandemic,” Mr Lander said. “These are truly dangerous times for all investors, but particularly for those holding large amounts of overvalued equity and property assets at fake economy prices.”

Read more …

Trillions upon trillions in fake wealth are going POOF. And the central banks that created the fake wealth will throw more fake money at the walls.

Global Markets Plunge 7-8%, Oil Falls 30% To $30 (G.)

Global stock markets have suffered their biggest falls since the 2008 financial crisis while the oil price crashed amid panic selling because of the double threat of a coronavirus-driven global recession and an oil price war. The FTSE 100 index in London plunged 8.5% to 5,911 points, losing 550 points, when trading began on Monday morning. Germany’s Dax tumbled 7.5% and Spain’s Ibex lost 7%. Asian markets also recorded huge losses as fears over the world economy were exacerbated by the shock decision by Saudi Arabia over the weekend to ramp up oil production in an attempt to drive rivals such as Russia and the US out of the market.

The price of Brent crude oil fell almost 30% to $31.14 on Monday, its biggest decline since the start of the Gulf war in 1991. Some experts expect it to fall further unless the Saudis and Russians return to the bargaining table. Turmoil spread on international markets as the coronavirus epidemic deepened around the world. Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, was plunged into chaos as government plans to quarantine more than 16m people – more than a quarter of its population – were leaked to the media. Italian bond yields jumped on Monday. The number of people infected by coronavirus worldwide has passed 110,000.

Stock markets in Asia Pacific experienced the worst wave of selling since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 heralded the onset of the global financial crisis. With fears growing of a recession in Australia because of the virus, the Australian share market closed down 7.4%. The Nikkei in Japan fell more than 5%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Sen lost 3.9% and the Shanghai stock exchange dropped just over 3%. US 10-year government bond yields fell to fresh record lows and the Japanese yen and gold soared as investors rushed into safe haven investments.

Read more …

Putin stopped supporting MbS. Isn’t that a good thing? How much do we like MbS?

Goldman Cuts Brent Forecasts To $30 On Price War, Virus (R.)

Goldman Sachs cut its second- and third-quarter Brent price forecasts to $30 per barrel, citing the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and a significant collapse in oil demand due to the coronavirus that has killed more than 3,500 globally. Oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the virus outbreak. “The aggressive cut to Saudi’s Official Selling Prices and Russia’s reluctance to be pushed into a deal on Friday point to a low probability of an immediate (OPEC+) agreement,” Goldman said in a note dated March 8.

A three-year pact between OPEC and Russia ended in acrimony on Friday after Moscow refused to support deeper oil cuts and OPEC responded by removing all limits on its own production. “While we can’t rule out an OPEC+ deal in coming months, we also believe that this agreement was inherently imbalanced and its production cuts economically unfounded,” the bank said. Goldman’s base case is now for no such deal, it said. Goldman’s base case is now for no such deal, it said. Lower oil prices will start creating acute financial stress and declining production from shale as well as other high cost producer, the bank said.

There will be a negligible response from U.S. shale producers in the second quarter, but output will fall in the third quarter by 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) and a further 250,000 bpd in the fourth quarter of 2020, the bank said. This will not prevent, however, a third-quarter supply surplus of 1.2 million bpd. “At that point, the fundamental rebalancing could require oil prices falling to operational stress levels for high-cost producers with well-head cash costs near $20/bbl,” it said.

Read more …

Home deliveries are set to double, but the people working the field don’t get paid anything. The future’s so bright…

Gig Economy Workers Can’t Afford To Be Ill (G.)

Shane Stephen, a Deliveroo rider, pulls a snood over his mouth and nose as he manoeuvres his mountain bike down a narrow side-street in central London. It is his makeshift defence against coronavirus. “If I catch something I’m screwed,” explains the 23-year-old. “Gig economy workers can’t afford to be ill. My bank balance is literally £4 something right now.” Stephen – like tens of thousands of other couriers and drivers in the UK – is classed as self-employed and therefore not entitled to any sick pay. He stands to gain nothing from Boris Johnson’s pledge last Wednesday to give coronavirus-hit workers statutory sick pay from the first day off work rather than the fourth. Yet Stephen and other gig economy couriers could be called on to deliver food and other essentials to self-isolating households when the virus reaches its peak.

Some industry analysts foresee the number of home deliveries doubling if people are told to work from home and avoid large gatherings under the government’s so-called social-distancing strategy, which will kick in if the virus continues to spread across the country. Unions representing gig economy workers, such as the GMB and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), fear couriers with coronavirus symptoms may keep working. “Many will carry on because they need to put food on the table and pay the rent. They will then come into contact with other people and spread the virus,” says Mick Rix from the GMB, which represents thousands of couriers. “This would be going against everything the government is trying to achieve at the moment.”

[..] Josh Lane (not his real name) jumps into his DPD Local van after making a delivery in Tottenham. He cleans his hands with hand sanitiser. “I’m in a rush, but I’m doing my bit,” he says through the rolled-down window. However, the 30-year-old cannot afford to stop work if he contracts the virus. “It’s like a flu and I’ve worked through flu before. If you’re self-employed you have to continue working,” he says. “It’s not about me. I’ve got three children. I’m not about to make them starve because of coronavirus. If I’m physically able to work, then isolation is not happening for me.”

Read more …

The kind of stuff that stumps me: “This resiliency of the consumer will once again support equities and most likely show that this current market reaction is a ‘blip’..

These people have zero connection to reality.

Plummeting Oil Prices And Mortgage Rates Could Boost Consumers (CNBC)

As the deadly coronavirus spreads across the globe, oil prices are down 30% for the year and the average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to an eight-year low. It’s positive news for consumers in the short term, even as some economists warn that the virus could tip the U.S economy into recession as the outbreak escalates. The drop in mortgage rates and oil prices could boost consumer confidence, which rose less than expected in February just one day after the stock market had one of its worst days amid virus concerns. A boost in consumer confidence, in turn, could ease those recession fears. “The U.S. economy is 70% consumer driven,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital.

“A drop in gasoline prices acts like a tax cut, freeing up money to spend in other sectors of the economy, especially discretionary sectors, such as travel and leisure and dining.” The relentless pace of headlines related to the coronavirus, however, could ultimately act as a psychological break on any boost in confidence that low oil prices and mortgage rates might deliver to the consumer. “The question is whether the fear factor attributable to the virus will overwhelm any positive impact from lower gasoline prices and lower mortgage rates,” said Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research. “That’s hard to answer, but it seems to me that fear is winning the tug of war currently as evidenced by the drop in stock prices and the panicky responses of governments, the media … and the public,” he added.

[..] Jeff Kilburg, founder and CEO of KKM Financial, said that the short-term reaction to lower oil prices will translate into lower prices at the pump for Americans, and that in combination with historically low mortgage rates will provide substantial strength for consumers in the second quarter. “This resiliency of the consumer will once again support equities and most likely show that this current market reaction is a ‘blip,’ not the end of this bull market … and certainly not the beginning of a recession,” Kilburg said.

Read more …

Absolutely right. Will I be able to get to Greece in time?

More Countries Will Adopt Italy’s Measures – Austria PM (G.)

Austria’s chancellor has said other European countries will be forced to adopt containment measures as drastic as Italy’s, after Rome placed a quarter of the population in lockdown in an effort to halt the rapid spread of the coronavirus. As the head of the World Health Organization praised Italy’s “genuine sacrifices”, Sebastian Kurz said the situation in Austria, which has reported 99 Covid-19 cases, was under control and the measures it had adopted were appropriate for the time being. He said EU leaders and health ministers were in close contact over their countries’ handling of the epidemic [..] “It will be important to decide which steps to take when,” Kurz said. “You can close schools for one or two weeks and this is urgently necessary in Italy. It will happen in other European countries. The decisive question is when to do it.”

The difficulty will be in balancing the need to head off a peak in infections that could paralyse public health systems against excessive economic damage, he said. “You have to consider carefully when to adopt these measures, because a national economy cannot handle this over too long a period.” Speaking to French radio, the EU commissioner for the single market, Thierry Breton, said European countries were “each acting according to the latest available data in their countries. The virus has spread faster in some places than in others, so naturally the measures in each differ”. In the US, Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said Americans , and particularly those who are vulnerable, may have to stop attending big gatherings. Nor could large-scale quarantines be ruled out, he said.

The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, tweeted his appreciation for Rome’s efforts after the government published a decree barring people from entering or leaving vast areas of northern Italy without good reason until 3 April. The quarantine zones are home to about 16 million people and include the regions around Venice and the financial capital, Milan. Cinemas, theatres and museums will be closed nationwide and leave has been cancelled for health workers as the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said the country was facing a national emergency.

Read more …

You announce an upcoming travel ban, so what do people do? Travel.

Leaked Italy Quarantine Plans Create Chaos, Threaten To Spread Virus (ZH)

Italians have become inured to alarming news over the past month as the outbreak has spiraled out of control in Lombardy. But following a flurry of uncontrolled leaks warning about an imminent lockdown as part of the government’s planned emergency decree, restaurants and bars started emptying out and many fled to the train station, where they hopped trains to get out of the region, especially those who had plans to travel elsewhere that were being interrupted by the lockdown. According to an SCMP reporter in Padua, packed bars and restaurants quickly emptied out as news of a coming lockdown hit, as many people rushed to the railway station. Travellers with suitcases, wearing face masks, gloves and carrying bottles of sanitising gel shoved their way on to the local train.

This appears to have been a phenomenon across the North. The video shows passengers with large bags packed heading toward a cross-country train to take them out of the quarantine zone and into the Italian south, where the virus has penetrated, but infection numbers and deaths remain much lower than in the north. This could be terrible news for the impoverished south: experts have repeatedly warned that southern Italy – best known as an agricultural and fishing center rife with organized crime – doesn’t possess the medical infrastructure to handle a surge in life-threatening cases of pneumonia. While Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly insisted during his seemingly never-ending series of press conferences that the panic is worse than the virus itself, in Italy, the situation is rapidly deteriorating on both fronts.

One epidemiologist described the series of panic-provoking leaks as “pure madness.” Fortunately, Italian markets were closed during the panic, and now people have more or less accepted the new rules. But at this point, the horse is already out of the barn. Panicked Italians are now traveling around the country, potentially bringing the virus with them. “The draft of a very harsh decree is leaked, sparking panic and prompting people to try and flee the [then] theoretical red zone, carrying the virus with them,” wrote Italian virologist Roberto Burioni on Twitter. “In the end, the only effect is to help the virus to spread. I’m lost for words.”

Read more …

Even before the virus, Britain’s reality is devastating: ““or so many families now, schools are the first line of defence against hunger..“

Charities Preparing To Feed Children If Schools Shut Over Coronavirus (G.)

A charity led by the archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to help feed children if schools are closed by coronavirus, amid fears the withdrawal of free school dinners could leave up to 3 million children at risk of hunger. Feeding Britain, which runs food poverty schemes in 12 areas of England including Cornwall, Leicester, Barnsley and South Shields, is exploring how to set up emergency programmes similar to those used to feed the poorest children during the summer holidays. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which serves thousands of hot meals to children every summer in London boroughs, is also “prepared to enter crisis mode”, while food projects in Bristol and Huddersfield said they were exploring how their schemes to feed hundreds of children in school holidays could be adapted to help cope with emergency closures.

“For so many families now, schools are the first line of defence against hunger,” said Andrew Forsey, the national director of Feeding Britain, whose president is the Most Rev Justin Welby. “In many cases it is breakfast as well as lunch, so if the schools close it’s two meals we have to find. There is early-stage planning going on around ensuring supplies of food and the extent of voluntary support that could be drawn upon if some schools do need to close.” Downing Street said on Tuesday that school closures would be among “distancing strategies” used if the virus became established in the UK. On Thursday, Italy closed all of its schools and colleges for a month.

[..] An immediate challenge is likely to be finding a way to deliver meals in a way that maintains the distance between people that school closures are meant to achieve. The Bristol project said it could involve delivering food parcels door-to-door. Forsey also said panic-buying that cleared supermarket shelves could hinder efforts as many free meal programmes relied on retailers’ donations.

Read more …

“106 people in New York have confirmed cases of Coronavirus. But- “As of Saturday only about 120 people in New York City had been tested..”

The dumbest advice ever. “Take the next train”.

NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can’ (NBC)

City and state officials issued new travel suggestions amid growing novel coronavirus cases in the tri-state area. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked sick people to stay off public transit, especially subways and buses. Their warnings included a suggestion to avoid dense crowds on buses, subways and trains, or take alternate travel if possible. “If you take the subway and you are able to wait for a less packed train, please do. If you have the option of walking or biking, please do. Buses can be crowded too, but less than subways, so please use these if you can,” de Blasio said. “Move to a train car that is not as dense. If you see a packed train car, let it go by. Wait for the next train. Same if you’re taking a bus,” Cuomo said.


Avoiding public transit is not an option for most New Yorkers and they’re not afraid to let the mayor know. “Happy to ride a bike to work. Can you make it so people don’t die in Queens while biking? Vehicular deaths are a public health crisis too,” one Twitter user said in response to de Blasio’s announcement. In the city’s other effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, transit workers started to disinfect subway turnstiles, station handrails, MetroCard and ticket vending machines daily and other frequently used parts of the system, according to a statement from Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano. The deep clean extends to Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and Access-A-Ride services as well. In addition to the daily cleaning, the MTA says its full fleet of subway trains and buses will undergo sanitization every 72 hours.

Read more …

I think Yanis is getting ahead of himself. What the situation will be once the pandemic is over is so murky right now we must all be very cautious about predicting anythig.

A Perfect Storm Of Nationalism And Financial Speculation (Varoufakis)

Nationalism and speculation have seldom had a better opportunity to combine forces as the one riding today on the coattails of Covid-19, known as the coronavirus. When Covid-19 leapfrogged from China to Italy, even ardent Europeanists normally appreciative of open borders joined the deafening calls to end freedom of movement across Europe’s national borders – a longstanding demand of nationalists. Meanwhile, the money men speculating on government debt are performing a classic flight from Italian to German government bonds, seeking the financial safety that only the continent’s hegemon can offer during any crisis. As if in a bid to remind us of the great contradiction of our times, Covid-19 is illuminating gloriously the freedom of money to transcend a borderless financial universe while humans remain as fenced in as ever.

Meanwhile in the United States, President Trump is combining his standard call for taller walls with a fresh instruction to moneymen to “buy the dip” in Wall Street, rather than to follow their natural instinct to seek refuge in the boring but safe bond markets. A great deal will depend on whether financiers believe Mr Trump or not, and not just because this is an election year. If speculators do believe the American president, Wall Street will recover swiftly even before the epidemic subsides. The forces of xenophobic financialisation will then have triumphed and America’s progressives will face an uphill struggle on every political front. As for the European Union, ruling elites will breathe a sigh of relief that a new depression was avoided and return to managing as best as they can the economic stagnation of recent times, tinged this time with a large dose of additional, coronavirus-reinforced, xenophobia.

Will Wall Street follow Mr Trump’s advice to “buy the dip”? For now, the large players are in two minds. The drop in the stock market does not worry them as such. Their concern is that the recent bull market was running on increasingly suspect debt and that Covid-19 may have pricked a bubble that was going to burst anyway. Similarly in Europe, the worst spectre hovering over investors’ heads is that large corporations, relying for too long on free money from the European Central Bank, may be downgraded from investment to junk-grade – especially so at a time of stagnant domestic demand and a collapsed Chinese import market.

Read more …

Maybe electric cars should run on electric tires?

Tyre Wear Produces 1,000 Times More Harmful Pollution Than Car Exhausts (BW)

Car tyres could be doing more damage to our health than the fumes from exhaust pipes, according to the results from a new test. Measurements found that 5.8 grams per kilometre of harmful particles are emitted by tyres as they wear when a car is being driven. That compares to 4.5 milligrams per kilometer produced from exhaust pipes of the latest vehicles on sale today – meaning harmful tyre outputs are higher by a factor of over 1,000. Assessments were conducted by UK-based experts Emissions Analytics, which specialises in calculating the pollution produced by cars in real-world driving.


The type of emissions tyres have been found to produce is harmful particulate matter that is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. It’s made up of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – also known as PM2.5 – pose the greatest risk to our health. Exposure can affect both the lungs and heart, with numerous scientific studies linking them to a variety of problems. This includes premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function and wider respiratory symptoms.

Read more …

But there are videos of Turkish troops destroying Greek fences to let migants pass. Erdogan is in Brussels today.

Putin Saves Erdogan From Himself (Escobar)

At the start of their discussion marathon in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with arguably the most extraordinary diplomatic gambit of the young 21st century. Putin said: “At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of your servicemen in Syria. Unfortunately, as I have already told you during our phone call, nobody, including Syrian troops, had known their whereabouts.” This is how a true world leader tells a regional leader, to his face, to please refrain from positioning his forces as jihadi supporters – incognito, in the middle of an explosive theater of war. The Putin-Erdogan face-to-face discussion, with only interpreters allowed in the room, lasted three hours, before another hour with the respective delegations.

In the end, it all came down to Putin selling an elegant way for Erdogan to save face – in the form of, what else, yet another ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight on Thursday, signed in Turkish, Russian and English – “all texts having equal legal force.” Additionally, on March 15, joint Turkish-Russian patrolling will start along the M4 highway – implying endless mutating strands of al-Qaeda in Syria won’t be allowed to retake it. If this all looks like déjà vu, that’s because it is. Quite a few official photos of the Moscow meeting prominently feature Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu – the other two heavyweights in the room apart from both Presidents. In the wake of Putin, Lavrov and Shoigu must have read the riot act to Erdogan in no uncertain terms.

That’s enough: now behave, please – or else face dire consequences. A predictable feature of the new ceasefire is that both Moscow and Ankara – part of the Astana peace process, alongside Tehran – remain committed to maintaining the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Syria. Once again, there’s no guarantee that Erdogan will abide. It’s crucial to recap the basics. Turkey is deep in financial crisis. Ankara needs cash – badly. The lira is collapsing. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is losing elections. Former prime minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu – who conceptualized neo-Ottomanism – has left the party and is carving his own political niche. The AKP is mired in an internal crisis.

Erdogan’s response has been to go on the offensive. That’s how he re-establishes his aura. Combine Idlib with his maritime pretensions around Cyprus and blackmail pressure on the EU via the inundation of Lesbos in Greece with refugees, and we have Erdogan’s trademark modus operandi in full swing. In theory, the new ceasefire will force Erdogan to finally abandon all those myriad al Nusra/ISIS metastases – what the West calls “moderate rebels,” duly weaponized by Ankara. This is an absolute red line for Moscow – and also for Damascus. There will be no territory left behind for jihadis. Iraq is another story: ISIS is still lurking around Kirkuk and Mosul.

[..] No NATO fanatic will ever admit it, but once again it was Russia that just prevented the threatened “Muslim invasion” of Europe advertised by Erdogan. Yet there was never any invasion in the first place, only a few thousand economic migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sahel, not Syrians. There are no “one million” Syrian refugees on the verge of entering the EU. The EU, proverbially, will keep blabbering. Brussels and most capitals still have not understood that Bashar al-Assad has been fighting al Nusra/ISIS all along. They simply don’t understand the correlation of forces on the ground. Their fallback position is always the scratched CD of “European values.” No wonder the EU is a secondary actor in the whole Syrian tragedy.

Read more …

To think there were scores of people who said Hill made so much sense. Very simple questions that remain unanswered: what exactly do the Russians do according to her, and how exactly does that divide Americans? Never an answer, other than “US intelligence believes that…”

Fiona Hill Says Putin Has America ‘Exactly Where He Wants Us’ (CNN)

President Donald Trump’s former top Russia adviser is warning that President Vladimir Putin has America “exactly where he wants us.” “Putin, sadly, has got all of our political class, every single one of us, including the media, exactly where he wants us. He’s got us feeling vulnerable…on edge, and he’s got us questioning the legitimacy of our own systems,” Fiona Hill told CBS’ Lesley Stahl in an interview set to air on “60 Minutes” Sunday. The interview marks the former top White House official’s first since testifying in the impeachment inquiry into Trump. During congressional hearings in the inquiry, Hill warned that the Republican defense of the President — by peddling Ukraine conspiracy theories — was in danger of extending Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Hill, who left the Trump administration last summer, has studied Russia for decades and is a critical biographer of Putin, authoring or co-authoring a number of books on Russia, including two editions of a book titled “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. In the interview, Hill said Russia understands how to exploit American divisions. “The Russians didn’t invent partisan divides. The Russians haven’t invented racism in the United States,” Hill said. “But the Russians understand a lot of those divisions, and they understand how to exploit them.” Russian interference in the last presidential election — which the US intelligence community believes was aimed at boosting Trump’s candidacy and hurting his opponent, Hillary Clinton — led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Part of the election interference included a Russian government-linked troll operation that sought to help Trump’s candidacy and undercut that of Clinton in part by posting messages in support of Sanders. Concerns over the Kremlin’s role in US politics have continued. The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. In February, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also said his campaign was briefed about Russian efforts to help his operation. It was unclear how Russia was attempting to help the Vermont senator.

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Today is International Women’s Day. So of course the DNC changes its rules yet again, this time to bar its only remaining female candidate from participating in the next debate.

 


 

 

If you read us, please support us. Allow the Automatic Earth to survive. Donate on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Mar 072020
 


John Vachon Trucks loaded with mattresses at San Angelo, Texas Nov 1939

 

How America Can Beat COVID-19 (Galbraith)
Don’t Test, Don’t Tell: The Bureaucratic Bungling of COVID-19 Tests (Ben Hunt)
Coronavirus Matters, The Stock Market Doesn’t (IC)
Not Enough Face Masks Are Made In America To Deal With Coronavirus (NPR)
US Excludes Chinese Face Masks, Medical Gear From Tariffs (R.)
Virus Concerns Drag Down Wall Street, But Indexes Eke Out Weekly Gains (R.)
Americans Divided On Party Lines Over Risk From Coronavirus (R.)
21 People On Grand Princess Cruise Ship Test Positive – Pence (NBC)
China January-February Exports Tumble, Imports Slow (R.)
Romney To Vote For Subpoena Seeking Hunter Biden Ukraine Records (Pol.)
Biden Racks Up Endorsements As Sanders Goes On The Attack (R.)
Ethiopian Draft Report Blames Boeing For 737 MAX Plane Crash (R.)
Starting A Nuclear Conflict Now ‘A Political Option’ For US – Moscow (RT)
Ceasefire In Syria’s Idlib Comes At A Cost For Turkey’s Erdogan (R.)

 

 

 

Cases 102,544 (+ 3,616 from Tuesday’s 98,928)

Deaths 3,501 (+ 111 from yesterday’s 3,390)

 

In my view, this from Worldometer last night contains the most relevant information. If China is phase one, South Korea, Iran (+25% cases) and Italy are phase 2. Their increases in cases and deaths continues unabated. Which countries will be phase 3? We’ll know next week.

Some countries look odd. We’ve seen before that South Korea has a relatively low death rate and a very low recovery rate. The US has a lot of deaths compared to its cases, which appears to point to many unreported cases. Germany has zero deaths with 692 cases. Not overly credible.

Overall death rate is 3.5%, that will go down further. If only countries would get serious about their testing. But if you don’t test, you don’t find cases. Tempting.

 

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

He makes it sound much easier than it is. America comes together only for war. Not for disease.

“After Pearl Harbor, the US banned the sale of rubber tires overnight in preparation for the war effort. With the #COVID19 crisis bearing down, James K. Galbraith calls for the same type of rapid response.”

How America Can Beat COVID-19 (Galbraith)

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States was surprised and unprepared, but it was quickly freed of its illusions. The same does not hold true for the COVID-19 epidemic. The attack is underway and our defenses are down – but so far our illusions remain intact. That will soon change as the infection rate and death toll rise, while the stock market sinks. Global supply chains have been disrupted by events in China, and India has just banned the export of certain generic drugs. Medical masks are already in short supply, and everyday items such as hand sanitizer have become difficult to find. The heavily globalized, consumer- and finance-driven US economy was not designed for a pandemic.

The country’s medical system has it even worse. America has vast health-care capacity, but millions of people are uninsured, underinsured, undocumented, or simply reluctant to go to the doctor or emergency room, owing to the cost of co-payments, deductibles, and uncovered fees. In a pandemic – where every infected person is a threat to the entire population – this is a formula for disaster. Everyone must be able to come forward, get tested, and receive free treatment without fear of consequences – including the very poor, the homeless, and the undocumented. US medical personnel are not equipped, and facilities are not designed to manage a potential explosion of people needing isolation and specialized care.

Hospital beds and quarantine units may be required where outbreaks overwhelm local capacity, and moving sick, infectious people over distances to available open beds is a risky policy. Effective training for those caring for the quarantined is critical; otherwise, the virus will spread among support staff. Medical supplies such as test kits and hazard suits must also be delivered where and when they are needed. [..] the government must empower the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to tell Americans precisely what is happening and to give clear, credible instructions. Direct, regular mass communication from competent scientific professionals, rather than from politicians and the media, can help to maintain calm, promote low-risk behavior, and avoid panics.

Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should be authorized to cover the full costs of testing and treating COVID-19 cases, with no exceptions and no legal risks. Making tests and treatment “affordable” is not enough; the disease cannot be isolated by economic class. In a pandemic there is no acceptable alternative to making care universal and free of cost.

Read more …

This is a global issue, not an American one.

Don’t Test, Don’t Tell: The Bureaucratic Bungling of COVID-19 Tests (Ben Hunt)

As I write this essay on March 5th, there are more confirmed coronavirus infections in Harris County, Texas (five) acquired by Americans who traveled to Egypt than there are confirmed cases within the entire country of Egypt (three). Why? Because Egypt has only tested a few hundred people in this country of 100 million. There are more confirmed coronavirus infections in the city-state of Singapore (three) acquired by Singaporeans who traveled to Indonesia than there are confirmed cases in the entire country of Indonesia (two). Why? Because Indonesia has only tested a few hundred people in this country of 265 million. With the exception of South Korea and Italy (and perhaps Australia and the UK), pretty much every nation in the world has adopted some form of Don’t Test, Don’t Tell.

The offenders include rich countries like the United States and Japan, vast countries like Indonesia and India, communist countries like China and Vietnam, theocracies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, oligarchies like Russia and Nigeria, social democracies like Germany and France. Don’t Test, Don’t Tell knows no geographic or ideological boundary. And so you might ask: is this a difficult or expensive test to make? Is there some fundamental reason of technology or economics why a country might find itself forced to pursue a policy of Don’t Test, Don’t Tell? Nope. It’s a relatively simple test to develop and administer in vast quantities. There are probably half a dozen university and industry labs in Jakarta or Nairobi, much less Moscow or Chicago, that could crank out a few thousand test kits per week if they wanted to. Or rather, if they were allowed to.

Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t screw up the coronavirus test if you really set your mind to it. And in fact, that’s exactly what the CDC did in January, when they rejected the World Health Organization’s proposed test panel for SARS-CoV-2 (the official name for this particular novel coronavirus which causes the disease COVID-19) in favor of a gold-plated test panel of the CDC’s own design. After all, why just test for SARS-CoV-2 when you could also test for other SARS and MERS viruses? Unfortunately, with complexity came error, and these initial CDC triple-test kits had a flaw in one of the multiple tests, ruining the entire test. Now the CDC is producing a solo test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but this fiasco set us back weeks in test-kit supply.

So if it’s not a difficult or expensive test to make, why are so many countries pursuing a policy of Don’t Test, Don’t Tell? The answer, of course: to maintain a political narrative of calm and competence.

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Don’t tell Rick Santelli.

Coronavirus Matters, The Stock Market Doesn’t (IC)

Before a new strain of coronavirus began sprinting around the world, all these problems with the stock market may have seemed abstract. But they are now extremely concrete. Think about what we could have done to prepare for this moment, if we’d been less mesmerized by little numbers on screens and paid more attention to the reality right in front of us. One aspect of reality is that some diseases are extremely contagious and can kill you. That’s why everyone in America would be far better off right now if we had robust, universal health care, even the people who had to sell some of their shares in Apple to help pay for it. Likewise, scientists have been warning for decades about exactly this kind of infectious disease.

One of their suggestions was for the U.S. government to help pay to improve the public health infrastructure in poorer countries. We may all quite soon regret not doing this, even if it would have required making Amazon pay a tax rate greater than 1.2 percent and hence denting their stock price. And if we’d been less transfixed by what corporations were doing, we could have realized what they can’t do. In the imaginary world of economic textbooks, a huge pharmaceutical company would have poured tens of billions into developing the capacity to more quickly perfect and manufacture vaccines in huge volumes, so that the omniscient stock market would reward them for their prescience. Here on Earth, the stock market would have punished any company that took such a big risk with an uncertain payoff.

Yet we couldn’t see that the only way to better prepare for the new coronavirus would have been with much greater government action. And there are pernicious effects of our stock market love affair that are even more subtle. When deciding what to do with their lives, young people learn what to value from adults, and what adults have been telling them is that what’s valuable is corporate wealth. Imagine how much better we’d all feel now if 1,000 of America’s smartest financial engineers had heard instead that the most important, respected thing they could do was become an epidemiologist. But instead of investing in genuine wealth, the kind of wealth that keeps us alive, we preferred to chase the phantom wealth of the stock market. Now as the phantom wealth dissolves, we may come face to face with our decision to be poor in what truly matters.

Read more …

“The surgical mask supply went from being 90% U.S.-made to being 95% foreign-made in literally one year..”

Not Enough Face Masks Are Made In America To Deal With Coronavirus (NPR)

Mike Bowen’s been a very busy man. He’s executive vice president of Texas-based Prestige Ameritech, one of the few manufacturers of respirators and surgical face masks still making them in the United States. “I’ve got requests for maybe a billion and a half masks, if you add it up,” he says. That’s right — 1.5 billion. Since the coronavirus started spreading in January, Bowen says he’s gotten at least 100 calls and emails a day. “Normally, I don’t get any,” he says. [..] His company simply can’t keep up with demand. 3M — one of the biggest mask makers — is in the same predicament. It says it’s stepping up production at its factories around the world, but it can’t fulfill all the new orders.

The World Health Organization this week warned against hoarding and panic-buying of critical protective gear. “Without secure supply chains, the risk to health care workers around the world is real,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding.” Concern about shortages of face masks used by doctors and nurses is prompting hospitals around the world to clamor for medical supplies as the coronavirus continues its infectious spread. In response, the Trump administration is looking at ways to rapidly expand domestic production, but the economics of the face-mask business makes that difficult.

This is a cycle familiar to Bowen. During what he calls “peacetime,” when there are no outbreaks, there are few buyers of masks. During an epidemic, there’s suddenly limitless demand. [..] Prestige Ameritech, for example, owns a limited number of machines that assemble, sew and shape the masks. A decade ago, it ramped up production in response to the swine flu outbreak by buying more machines and hiring 150 new workers. “We made a really big mistake,” Bowen says of that decision. It took about four months to build the new machines, which are as long as a school bus and cost as much as $1 million. By the time they were ready, the swine flu crisis had ended, demand vaporized, and Prestige Ameritech almost went bankrupt.

“One day — and it is literally almost like one day — it just quits. The demand is over, the phones stop ringing,” Bowen says. To make matters worse, the hospitals and medical supply companies suddenly had a glut of masks; they stopped buying for months. That was a business headache. But the recent shortages also show how a lack of steady orders can create a sudden national security risk. The seeds of that problem, says Bowen, can be traced back 15 years. That’s when many mask factories moved overseas, where masks could be made at a fraction of Bowen’s costs. Most notably, he says, Kimberly-Clark, which used to be one of the industry leaders, moved its operations. “The surgical mask supply went from being 90% U.S.-made to being 95% foreign-made in literally one year,” Bowen says.

Read more …

Makes sense if 95% comes from China.

US Excludes Chinese Face Masks, Medical Gear From Tariffs (R.)

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office in recent days granted exclusions from import tariffs for dozens of medical products imported from China, including face masks, hand sanitizing wipes and examination gloves, filings with the agency showed on Friday. Many of the exclusion requests for medical products appear to have been expedited amid the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak, with approvals granted just over one month past a Jan. 31 application deadline. Requests to exclude other products from President Donald Trump’s Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods have taken months.


Apple’s requests for exclusions on products from AirPod headphones to the HomePod smart speaker filed on Oct. 31 are still pending. Medline International Inc has already received exclusions on 30 products ranging from surgical gowns to face masks and medicine cups, most of which the company applied for at the end of January. A number of the exclusions were granted on Thursday, USTR documents showed. The products were included in a fourth round of tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by Trump on Sept. 1, 2019, amid heated U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Read more …

The PPT looks old and tired.

Virus Concerns Drag Down Wall Street, But Indexes Eke Out Weekly Gains (R.)

U.S. stocks fell on Friday as fears of economic damage from the spread of the coronavirus intensified, though Wall Street’s major indexes ended well above their session lows. The S&P 500 posted its 10th decline in 12 sessions as moves to contain the virus crippled supply chains and prompted a sharp cut to global economic growth forecasts for 2020. Since its record closing high on Feb. 19, the benchmark index has lost more than 12%, wiping out $3.43 trillion from its market capitalization, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Even so, for the week the S&P 500, along with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq, posted a modest gain as stocks on Friday pared losses late in the session.

Comments from Federal Reserve officials about the possibility of using other tools in addition to interest rate cuts to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus helped stocks ease declines, said Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management in New York. Nonetheless, “it’s very unclear what the economic impact will be,” Levine said. Yields on long-dated U.S. Treasuries fell to record lows as investors fled to bonds, whose prices move inversely to their yields. The drop in Treasury yields weighed heavily on shares of financial companies, which tumbled 3.3%. The S&P 500 banks index dropped 4.7%, bringing its total decline for the week to more than 8%.

Shares of cruise operators Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd slid after Reuters reported that the administration of President Donald Trump was considering ways to discourage U.S. travelers from taking cruises. Carnival shares fell 2.6%, and Royal Caribbean shares dropped 1.2%. “The decline today is all about the efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” said Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management in Boston. “The measures being taken could dampen commerce and consumer activity, and markets are responding to that.”

Read more …

These days, it’s as American as apple pie.

Americans Divided On Party Lines Over Risk From Coronavirus (R.)

Americans who now find themselves politically divided over seemingly everything are now forming two very different views of another major issue: the dangers of the new coronavirus. Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week. And more Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to be prepared, including washing their hands more often or limiting their travel plans. Poll respondents who described themselves as Republicans and did not see the coronavirus as a threat said it still felt remote because cases had not been detected close to home and their friends and neighbors did not seem to be worried, either.


“I haven’t changed a single thing,” Cindi Hogue, who lives outside Little Rock, Arkansas, told Reuters. “It’s not a reality to me yet. It hasn’t become a threat enough yet in my world.” Many of the U.S. cases that have been reported so far have been in Washington state and California, more than 1,000 miles away from Arkansas. Politics was not a factor in her view of the seriousness of the virus, Hogue said. Other Republican respondents interviewed echoed that sentiment. But the political divide is nonetheless significant: About four of every 10 Democrats said they thought the new coronavirus poses an imminent threat, compared to about two of every 10 Republicans.

Read more …

19 crew members, 2 passengers. There are over 1,000 crew aboard.

21 People On Grand Princess Cruise Ship Test Positive – Pence (NBC)

Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that 21 people aboard a cruise ship that’s being held off the coast of California have tested positive for the coronavirus. The California Air National Guard had delivered 46 tests to the Grand Princess, which has been offshore since Wednesday. Of the 46 passengers tested, Pence said 21 people, 19 employees and two passengers, had tested positive. Twenty-four tested negative, and one was inconclusive, Pence said. There are over 3,500 people on board the ship, which is anchored near San Francisco. All passengers will be brought into port in the U.S. over the weekend and tested, said Pence, who is leading the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak.


“Those who need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who require additional medical attention will receive it,” he said. Officials said crew members are likely to be quarantined aboard the ship, while passengers could be quarantined at military bases. Pence spoke shortly after President Donald Trump, touring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, told reporters that he’d rather people be kept on the ship because otherwise they’ll add to the country’s coronavirus statistics. “I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault. And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either, ok? It wasn’t their fault either and their mostly Americans,” Trump said. But, he added, he would abide by what Pence and his team of “great experts” decide.

Read more …

The word “tumble” makes it sound almost light. The incredible lightness of collapse.

China January-February Exports Tumble, Imports Slow (R.)

China’s exports contracted sharply in the first two months of the year, as the fast spreading coronavirus outbreak caused massive disruptions to business operations, global supply chains and economic activity. Imports also fell but were better than analyst expectations. The gloomy trade report is likely to reinforce fears that China’s economic growth halved in the first quarter to the weakest since 1990 as the epidemic and strict government containment measures crippled factory production and led to a sharp slump in demand. Overseas shipments fell 17.2% in January-February from the same period a year earlier, customs data showed on Saturday, marking the steepest fall since February 2019.


That compared with a 14% drop tipped by a Reuters poll of analysts and a 7.9% gain in December. Imports sank 4% from a year earlier, better than market expectations of a 15% drop. They had jumped 16.5% in December, buoyed in part by a preliminary Sino-U.S. trade deal. China ran a trade deficit of $7.09 billion for the period, reversing an expected $24.6 billion surplus in the poll. Factory activity contracted at the fastest pace ever in February, even worse than during the global financial crisis, an official manufacturing gauge showed last weekend, with a sharp slump in new orders. A private survey highlighted similarly dire conditions.

Read more …

What on earth is he up to now? Anyway, Hunter will be a major issue.

Romney To Vote For Subpoena Seeking Hunter Biden Ukraine Records (Pol.)

Sen. Mitt Romney will vote in favor of a subpoena seeking records about the work Joe Biden’s son Hunter did for the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, a spokeswoman for the Utah Republican said on Friday. Romney’s decision comes after several days of expressing dismay over the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s investigation targeting the Bidens, even suggesting on Thursday that the panel shouldn’t even be looking into the issue. But after securing certain commitments from the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Romney has decided to support the subpoena when the panel votes on it next Wednesday — all but ensuring it will be issued. “Senator Romney has expressed his concerns to Chairman Johnson, who has confirmed that any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle,” Romney’s spokeswoman Liz Johnson said.


“He will therefore vote to let the chairman proceed to obtain the documents that have been offered.” Romney has said in recent days that the committee’s investigation into the Bidens has the “appearance” of being politically motivated, given Biden’s resurgence in the Democratic presidential primary. Romney was the only Republican who voted to convict President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial last month, saying he believed Trump violated his oath of office when he pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. “There’s no question the appearance is not good,” Romney told reporters on Thursday, later adding: “I would prefer that investigations are done by an independent, nonpolitical body.”

Read more …

The Trump campaign would be willing to spend bigly to make Biden the Dem candidate. But they get him for free. Then again, the Dems can’t be dumb enough to run with him, can they?!

Biden Racks Up Endorsements As Sanders Goes On The Attack (R.)

Two former presidential rivals endorsed Joe Biden on Friday in the latest sign that the Democratic establishment is coalescing around the former vice president to stop the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who ratcheted up attacks on his rival ahead of crucial contests next week. Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman – both onetime 2020 candidates – backed Biden, as did a slew of other Democratic officials in states soon to hold nominating contests. Sanders, who is desperate to regain some momentum after Biden’s strong ‘Super Tuesday’ showing this week, launched a full-throated attack on his rival, assailing Biden over his record on trade, abortion, gay rights and Social Security.

The pair contest six Democratic nominating contests on Tuesday, including the big prize of Michigan, with 125 of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination at stake. Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who was until recently the front-runner in the party’s race to face Republican President Donald Trump in November, now trails in delegates. A big win for Biden in Michigan would deliver another major blow to Sanders’ hopes of becoming the nominee. Ahead of Michigan’s primary, the state’s lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist II, backed Biden, as did part of the state’s United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and former U.S. Senator Carl Levin. Four other states will hold primary elections on Tuesday: Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington state. North Dakota will hold caucuses.

At a news conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday, Sanders dug deep into Biden’s 40-year record. He criticized Biden for having opposed the rights of gay people to serve in the U.S. military and for voting against federal funding for abortions, stances the former vice president has since rejected. “I was there on the right side of history, and my friend Joe Biden was not,” Sanders said. Sanders also lambasted Biden for supporting trade deals he said had been “a disaster for Michigan” and accused Biden of trying in the past to cut Social Security, the government-run pension and disability program. Biden, who denies ever advocating cuts to Social Security, snapped back in a tweet on Friday: “Get real, Bernie. The only person who’s going to cut Social Security if he’s elected is Donald Trump. Maybe you should spend your time attacking him.”

Warren’s exit meant that what had been hailed as the most diverse field of candidates in U.S. history narrowed to a race for the nomination between two white, septuagenarian men. Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii with virtually no chance of winning, is the only other remaining Democratic candidate. On Friday, the Democratic National Committee, which oversees the party’s presidential debates, released new qualifying thresholds for the next debate in Arizona on Mar. 15. Candidates will need at least 20% of delegates awarded so far, essentially excluding Gabbard, who has won less than 1 percent.

Read more …

No report will be accepted that doesn’t call the crew incompetent. If they had been American, they’d be labeled heroes.

Ethiopian Draft Report Blames Boeing For 737 MAX Plane Crash (R.)

A draft interim report from Ethiopian crash investigators circulated to U.S. government agencies concludes the March 2019 crash of a Boeing 737 MAX was caused by the plane’s design, two people briefed on the matter said Friday. Unlike most interim reports, this one includes a probable cause determination, conclusions and recommendations, which are typically not made until a final report is issued. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has been given a chance to lodge concerns or propose changes, the people said, declining to be identified because the report is not yet public.

[..] According to Bloomberg News, which first reported the contents of the interim draft, the conclusions say little or nothing about the performance of Ethiopian Airlines or its flight crew and that has raised concern with some participants in the investigation. The Ethiopian interim report contrasts with a final report into the Lion Air crash released last October by Indonesia which faulted Boeing’s design of cockpit software on the 737 MAX but also cited errors by the airline’s workers and crew. Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed in an open field six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, killing 157 passengers and crew. The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide for nearly a year after the two fatal crashes.

Under rules overseen by the United Nations’ Montreal-based aviation agency, ICAO, Ethiopia should publish a final report by the first anniversary of the crash on March 10 but now looks set to release an interim report with elements that would normally be included in the final report.

Read more …

Russia prohibits itself from a first strike. The US does not.

Starting A Nuclear Conflict Now ‘A Political Option’ For US – Moscow (RT)

The US is expanding its nuclear capability with new types of low-yield weapons, and Moscow believes US strategists now consider launching a nuclear strike as a viable option in a conflict. The US has made adjustments to its nuclear posture and has been introducing low-yield nuclear warheads to its arsenal, including those that can be launched from submarines. Russia sees such developments with great concern, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova told journalists on Friday. The developments make Moscow believe that the American leadership “has made a decision to consider a nuclear conflict as a viable political option and are creating the potential necessary for it.”


She rejected US justification of the upgrade by pointing the finger at Russia, and called on Washington to adhere to nuclear non-proliferation and reduction goals, saying that the path of “unrestricted growth of military strength,” which it was pursuing, was “a road to a dead end”. Unlike Russia, the US never made a formal commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. Russia’s nuclear doctrine says it may use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional attack that threatens the existence of Russia as a sovereign state, but otherwise the nuclear option would only be used in response to an attack with weapons of mass destruction.

Read more …

Erdogan aims to use his Russian contacts against the US, and vide versa. He now lost Russia, Putin will never allow him his Idlib sanctuary for terrorists. So expect him to fly to Washington soon.

Ceasefire In Syria’s Idlib Comes At A Cost For Turkey’s Erdogan (R.)

After six hours of talks with Vladimir Putin, a somber Erdogan announced an accord which cements territorial gains by Russian-backed Syrian forces over Turkish-backed rebels. Returning from Russia, Erdogan said his deal with Putin will lay the ground for stability in Idlib and protect civilians who could otherwise become refugees in Turkey, after months of fighting that has displaced nearly a million people. “The ceasefire brings about important gains,” he said. The agreement, if it holds, does stem the advances of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, easing Ankara’s greatest fear – an influx of Syrians fleeing bombardment in Idlib and clamoring to cross its border and join 3.6 million Syrian refugees already in Turkey.


But by freezing the front lines, and agreeing joint Russian-Turkish patrols on a major east-west highway running through Idlib, the deal consolidates Assad’s recent battlefield victories and allows Russia to deploy deeper into Idlib than before. “The Syrian army was stopped, but not repelled. That is perhaps Turkey’s biggest loss,” said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli of the German Marshall Fund. Assad’s progress in weeks of fierce combat includes taking full control of the other main highway running through Idlib, the north-south road linking the capital Damascus to Aleppo and other important Syrian cities. In Moscow, Thursday’s deal was widely seen as a triumph for Putin and Assad at Erdogan’s expense. “The agreement is unexpectedly more favorable to Russia and Damascus…,” said former pro-Putin lawmaker Sergei Markov. “Russia is winning on the battlefield and that’s why it’s winning on the diplomatic front.”

Read more …

 

An odd couple for many. But Tucker, other than RT, is the only one talking to Roger Waters.

 

 

 

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