Jul 282020
 
 July 28, 2020  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Migrant cotton picker’s children, live in government tent, Shafter Camp, CA 1938

 

Barr To Come Out Swinging In House Testimony (Solomon)
How Did Russia Get A Possible COVID19 Vaccine So Fast? (RT)
China Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, Including Two In Beijing (R.)
Mike Rowe Explains That Reality Is Going To Win With The Wuhan Virus (AT)
How The Eviction Crisis Across The US Will Look (CNBC)
The Insane Leading the Blind (Kunstler)
Assange Defence Team Concerned US is Seeking ‘Improper’ Delay of Case (Sp.)
Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities (G.)
Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK? (OffG)
CNN’s Stelter Breaches Confidentiality Agreement With Sandmann (Fox)
Emus Banned From Pub In Outback Australia Town (G.)
Facebook Vows To Break Up US Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful (Onion)

 

 

“Low” new cases for the world and US. US deaths also lower. We can hope and pray.

Biggest show in town is Bill Barr being grilled in the House. All conclusions have already been drawn in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest show in town today.

Barr To Come Out Swinging In House Testimony (Solomon)

Attorney General Bill Barr is planning a full-throated defense of his work inside the Justice Department and that of police nationwide when appearing before hostile House Democrats on Wednesday, condemning both the “bogus Russiagate scandal” and the senseless violence rocking U.S. cities. In prepared testimony released Tuesday evening on the eve of his House Judiciary Committee testimony, Barr declared that liberal activists’ “demonization of police is not only unfair and inconsistent with the principle that all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to our inner city communities.” “When a community turns on and pillories its own police, officers naturally become more risk averse and crime rates soar,” his prepared testimony states.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing that now in many of our major cities. This is a critical problem that exists apart from disagreements on other issues. The threat to black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police misconduct. The attorney general also lambastes liberal mayors for allowing serial violence to persist in their cities since George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and supporting efforts to undercut police department authorities and funding. “Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way — by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police,” he plans to tell lawmakers.

Later he adds, “To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time.” Barr also directly challenges Democrats’ claims he has been a lapdog for Trump, declaring the president has not interfered in his decisions. “My decisions on criminal matters before the Department have been my own, and they have been made because I believed they were right under the law and principles of justice,” he said. Barr suggested Democrats’ criticisms may be aimed at undercutting his efforts to investigate abuses in the now-discredited FBI investigation of Trump-Russia collusion.

“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions,” Barr is set to testify. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”

Read more …

No way Big Pharma will tolerate such a thing.

How Did Russia Get A Possible COVID19 Vaccine So Fast? (RT)

This month, Moscow’s famed Sechenov University announced that the first phase of clinical trials for a vaccine had been a success. Some 38 volunteers who took part in human trials have been released with little or no side effects recorded. Researchers will now push forward, testing the vaccine’s efficiency, and prepping it for registration with the Health Ministry. Other prototypes are to follow, with some about to finish phase-one trials – which usually demonstrates the new vaccine’s safety for use in humans. It’s fairly easy to grasp why Russia is so keen to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Having reported more than 811,000 cases and 13,249 fatalities, it is among the five countries worst affected by the epidemic.

But how did it make a vaccine so fast, given that the coronavirus – or its deadly, crown-shaped SARS-CoV-2 strain – wasn’t known to scientists before 2020? Russia has over 20 years of experience in developing technology for producing vaccines. This helped to create the unique Covid-19 vaccine in a very short period of time by normal drug-development standards, Vadim Tarasov, head of Sechenov University’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology, told RT Arabic in a comprehensive interview. “Nothing can be done from scratch,” he explained. Virologists at the Sechenov Institute and the Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology – another coronavirus research hub in Moscow – benefited from that “huge backlog” to decode the genome and structure of Covid-19 and quickly create a vaccine prototype.

The technology behind the Russian vaccine in question is based upon adenovirus, the common cold. Created artificially, the vaccine proteins replicate those of Covid-19 and trigger “an immune response similar to that caused by the coronavirus itself,” Tarasov revealed. In other words, getting immunized is slightly similar to having survived the coronavirus, but without its life-threatening risks. The vaccine, of course, won’t be a magical wand preventing everyone from getting sick. It may not stop the entire spread of coronavirus, but will make the symptoms much milder.

Read more …

Hong Kong over 100 several days in a row.

China Reports 68 New Coronavirus Cases, Including Two In Beijing (R.)

China reported 68 new coronavirus cases for July 27, up for the fourth consecutive day, including two in Beijing, the country’s health authority said on Tuesday. China is battling the most aggressive return of COVID-19 in months, driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang and a separate flare-up in the northeast. Of the new local infections for July 27, 57 were in Xinjiang, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. That brings the total number of cases in the region’s current outbreak to 235 since the first infection was reported on July 16. Xinjiang has yet to explain how patient zero, a 24-year-old woman who worked in a mall in its capital Urumqi, contracted the virus.


The northeastern province of Liaoning reported six new cases as of July 27. The current outbreak in Liaoning, which began on July 22, centred mostly on the port city of Dalian, east of Beijing. The first case in Dalian worked at a seafood processing company, and had not travelled out of the city in recent weeks. To contain the spread of the virus, Xinjiang and Dalian have tested millions of people for COVID-19, but the coronavirus is already on the move.

Read more …

Apparently many people experience panic and fear, induced by a faulty choice of media. I have no such thing. Maybe I should too. Rowe is mostly right. Get tested often, wear a mask where needed, and live your life. Rocket science it ain’t.

Mike Rowe Explains That Reality Is Going To Win With The Wuhan Virus (AT)

[..] for the last three months, I’ve been operating from the assumption that this is a year-round virus that’s eventually going to infect 100 million people and kill roughly 1/2 of one percent of those infected, conservatively. I’ve accepted those numbers. Unfortunately, millions of others have not. Many people have no sense of where this is headed, and I understand why. They’ve been betrayed by a hysterical media that insists on covering each new reported case as if it were the first case. Every headline today drips with dread, as the next doomed hotspot approaches the next “grim milestone.” And so, for a lot of people, everyday is Groundhogs Day. They’re paralyzed by the rising numbers because the numbers have no context. They don’t know where it will end.

But Dr. Osterholm says he does, and I’m persuaded that he’s correct. He might be wrong, and frankly, I hope he is, but either way, he’s presented us with a set of projections based on a logical analysis, and accepting those projections has allowed me to move past denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, and get on with my life with a better understanding of what the risks really are. Fact is, we the people can accept almost anything if we’re given the facts, and enough time to get evaluate the risk and make our own decisions. [..] don’t misunderstand. I’m not ignoring COVID, or downplaying COVID, or pretending the risks at hand aren’t real. Nor am I comparing COVID cases to car accidents – I’m simply comparing the fear of each to the other, and the fear that always accompanies uncertainty.

I don’t want to get this disease or give it to someone else, any more than I want to be in a car car wreck that injures someone else. But I’ve accepted certain things about the pandemic, and now, I’ve gotten used to the risk as I understand it. I take precautions. I get tested as often as I can, and if I can’t physically distance, I wear a mask – especially around higher risk people. Likewise, I wear a seatbelt, obey the speed limits, and check my mirrors before changing lanes.

Read more …

There’s an eviction stop in the new GOP proposal, far as I know.

How The Eviction Crisis Across The US Will Look (CNBC)

An unprecedented eviction crisis will soon hit the U.S. On Friday, the federal moratorium on evictions in properties with federally backed mortgages and for tenants who receive government-assisted housing expired. The Urban Institute estimated that provision covered nearly 30% of the country’s rental units. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that he would extend that moratorium, but these tenants are now unprotected from eviction. At the same time, some 25 million Americans will stop receiving the $600 weekly federal unemployment checks by July 31. And most of the statewide eviction moratoriums are winding down. The proceedings have resumed in more than 30 states. The moratorium in Hawaii and Illinois end this week, and in August, evictions will pick up in New York and Nevada.


By one estimate, some 40 million Americans could be evicted during the public health crisis. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. In 2016, there were 2.3 million evictions, Pollock said. “There could be that many evictions in August,” he said. Massive unemployment has left more than 40% of renter households at risk of eviction, according to a new analysis by global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross. Some states will be harder hit than others, Stout found. For example, nearly 60% of renters in West Virginia are at risk of eviction, compared to 22% in Vermont. People of color are especially vulnerable. While almost half of White tenants say they’re highly confident they can continue to pay their rent, just 26% of African-American tenants could say the same.

Read more …

But peacefully.

The Insane Leading the Blind (Kunstler)

In Louisville, Saturday, just after lunchtime, the self-styled Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC) was mustering for action and “inspecting firearms” (according to NFAC comandante Grand Master Jay) when one of said weapons accidently discharged and mowed down three NFAC warriors — nicely demonstrating the hazards of fucking around with loaded weapons. In Austin Saturday night, one feckless BLM mob marcher name of Garrett Foster brought his AK-47 to the street party. When he pointed it at a motorist trapped by the crowd, he got blown away to that great struggle session in the sky, the surprise of his life, I’m sure. In Portland, OR, police found a bag of loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails in the nearby park that serves as the rioters’ marshaling yard. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler did not attend the evening’s frolics at the sore beset federal courthouse, having successfully subjected himself to ritual humiliation himself a few nights earlier. After midnight Sunday, police declared the Antifa actions “a riot” and made a few arrests.


Up Seattle way, a federal judge struck down the city council’s order against police using tear gas and pepper spray on rioters just in time for another weekend of rioting. SPD Chief Carmen Best declared, “In the spirit of offering trust and full transparency, I want to advise you that SPD officers will be carrying pepper spray and blast balls today, as would be typical for events that carry potential to include violence.” Hours later, after Antifas smashed the windows of ground-floor businesses, set fire to a construction site, and trashed the SPD’s East Precinct building, pepper spray and blast balls were deployed and forty-five of the mob were arrested (on rioting, assault, and other charges), while twenty-one SPD officers were injured. Down in LA, Antifas broke into the federal Bureau of Prisons Detention Center. In Richmond, VA, rioters set fire to a city dump truck used as a barrier to protect a police station.

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Next hearing August 14. “..despite its decade-long-head-start, the prosecution is still unable to build a coherent and credible case.”

Assange Defence Team Concerned US is Seeking ‘Improper’ Delay of Case (Sp.)

Julian Assange’s substantive extradition hearings are due to restart on 7 September at the Old Bailey, where it will be decided whether or not he should be sent the US to face up to 175 years in prison. Julian Assange’s defence team informed the court on 27 July 2020 that they fear Donald Trump’s administration may be seeking to delay the substantive extradition hearings until after the US elections in November 2020. Ed Fitzgerald QC attended the hearing in person for the first time since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions. He told Judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that he is “concerned at a fresh [indictment] being brought [by the US government] at this stage, with the potential consequence to de-rail the proceedings”.

Mr Fitzgerald expressed his worry that the US attorney general is “doing this for political purposes” and suspected there is “some manipulation or some political motivation” on the part of the US authorities, something which he said would be wholly “improper”. The judge refused to discuss the matter further because the prosecution has, to date, failed to formally submit the superseding indictment upon the court. Joel Smith, the barrister who attended the hearing on behalf of the prosecution, told the court that he would “not able to commit to any time table” in terms of the second superseding indictment being formally served on the court and that it would “have to go through the usual channels” before he could say any more.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, followed the hearing remotely from Iceland. He told Sputnik that “the political nature of the entire thing is becoming more and more clear to everybody”. He described as “absolutely unacceptable” the fact that the US administration has failed to serve the second superseding indictment onto the court. “We were at least expecting this to be served in the court today and the fact that the judge has only heard of it through email exchange from the defence is of course outrageous”, Mr Hrafnsson continued. “The ‘new’ superseding indictment actually contains nothing new. All the alleged events have been known to the prosecution for years. It contains no new charges. What’s really happening here is that despite its decade-long-head-start, the prosecution is still unable to build a coherent and credible case.”, Mr Hrafnsson also said.

[..] Judge Baraitser listed the next call-over hearing for 14 August and confirmed that the second part of Julian Assange’s substantive extradition hearings should begin on 7 September at the Old Bailey. Judge Baraitser said she expected the entire process to last three weeks though Mr Fitzgerald reminded her that the defence had previously stated that they would likely require a fourth week given the latest developments in the case.

Read more …

Climate and racism at the same time. Sounds very convenient. So who else is funding the police?

Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities (G.)

Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation. Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US. The investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its research database project LittleSis, details how police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo.

Police foundations are industry groups that provide substantial funds to local departments, yet, as nonprofits, avoid much public scrutiny. The investigation details how firms linked to fossil fuels also sponsor events and galas that celebrate the police, while some have senior staff serving as directors of police foundations. The report portrays the fossil fuel industry as a common enemy in the struggle for racial and environmental justice. “Many powerful companies that drive environmental injustice are also backers of the same police departments that tyrannize the very communities these corporate actors pollute,” it states.

[..] Carroll Muffett, the president of the Center for International Environmental Law, said: “This report sheds a harsh light on the ways police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisis.” A spokeswoman for Chevron said the firm is a “good neighbor” wherever it operates. “Across the world, Chevron invests millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours on numerous programs and partnerships, helping communities improve their lives, achieve their aspirations and meet their full potential.”

Read more …

“It is the industry that does the testing.”

Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK? (OffG)

The British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and are thus engaging in criminal behaviour. That’s the message put forward in a new report written by environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason and sent to the UK Environment Agency. It follows her January 2019 open letter to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer CropScience, where she made it clear to him that she considers Bayer CropScience and Monsanto criminal corporations. Her letter to Baumann outlined a cocktail of corporate duplicity, cover-ups and criminality which the public and the environment are paying the price for, not least in terms of the effects of glyphosate. Later in 2019, Mason wrote to Bayer Crop Science shareholders, appealing to them to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer.

Mason outlined with supporting evidence how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. She argued that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe. In February 2020, Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit – the public and the press are being poisoned by pesticides’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards.

In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels – if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime. In other words, he wants to ditch EU regulations. Mason pondered just who could be pulling Johnson’s strings. A big clue came in February 2019 at a Brexit meeting on the UK chemicals sector where UK regulators and senior officials from government departments listened to the priorities of Bayer Crop Science. During the meeting (Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Priorities for UK chemicals sector – challenges, opportunities and the future for regulation post-Brexit), Janet Williams, head of regulatory science at Bayer Crop Science Division, made the priorities for agricultural chemical manufacturers known.

Dave Bench was also a speaker. Bench is a senior scientist at the UK Chemicals, Health and Safety Executive and director of the agency’s EU exit plan and has previously stated that the regulatory system for pesticides is robust and balances the risks of pesticides against the benefits to society. In an open letter to Bench, Mason responded: “That statement is rubbish. It is for the benefit of the agrochemical industry. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides, including over children and babies, without warning.”

Read more …

Pending suits vs “ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, NPR, Slate, The Hill, and Gannett, which owns the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as miscellaneous other small outfits”.

CNN’s Stelter Breaches Confidentiality Agreement With Sandmann (Fox)

CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter may have landed himself in hot water, according to the attorney of Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann. Last week, Sandmann announced that The Washington Post settled the $250 million defamation lawsuit he filed over its botched coverage of a viral confrontation with a Native American elder that had portrayed the Kentucky teen as the aggressor. This followed the multi-million dollar settlement CNN made with the teenager back in January. However, Sandmann’s attorney Lin Wood spotted a retweet from Stelter of a tweet written by attorney Mark Zaid, who speculated about how much money the teen walked away with from the settlement.

“Those with zero legal experience (as far as I can tell) should not be conjecturing on lawsuits they know nothing about. What kind of journalism is that?” Zaid asked. “I’ve litigated defamation cases. [Sandmann] was undoubtedly paid nuisance value settlement & nothing more.” Wood accused the “Reliable Sources” host of breaching his network’s own confidentiality agreement with his client. “This retweet by @brianstelter may have cost him his job at @CNN. It is called breach of confidentiality agreement. Brian Stelter is a liar. I know how to deal with liars,” Wood tweeted with a screenshot of Stelter’s retweet. Sandmann knocked the media guru, tweeting “Brian Stelter just can’t learn some basic lessons over at CNN.”

“I can’t decide if it’s worse to be Brian Stelter or believe Brian Stelter. He was never in any court hearing or meeting I was. So why does he act like he knows anything?” Sandmann added. CNN analyst Asha Rangappa appeared to agree with Zaid as well. “I’d guess $25K to go away,” Rangappa wrote. Responding to Rangappa’s tweet, Wood wrote “Heads are going to roll at CNN or @N1ckSandmann is going to filing another lawsuit & reveal truth.” Wood leveled a similar charge against Washington Post reporter Dan Zak, who suggested on Friday that the Post settled “for a small amount… in order to avoid a more expensive trial,” later adding that it’s the “American way.”

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This is the sort of indepth quality reporting we want to see from the Guardian. They suck at everything else anyway.

Emus Banned From Pub In Outback Australia Town (G.)

It can’t be easy being an emu in outback Australia at the best of times what with the heat and the perennial droughts. But to be banned from your local pub for bad behaviour must now be added to the list of grievances inflicted upon the big birds. Such is the problem Kevin and Carol – two emus in Yaraka, south of Longreach in western Queensland – now face after an edict was passed down by the only hotel in town last week. Gerry Gimblett, who owns the Yaraka Hotel with her husband Chris, told Guardian Australia they were left with no other option after the birds’ recent “bad behaviour”. “They’ve been stealing things from the guests, especially their food. They’d stick their heads in and pinch toast out of the toaster,” Gimblett explained.

“But the main reason we’ve banned them is their droppings. They’re enormous, very large and very smelly, and they created great stains,” she said. Gimblett, who took over the pub after she retired as a teacher, installed a barrier – a piece of rope – across the hotel’s entrances last week after the “much-loved” emus began entering the pub and disrupting patrons. Gimblett said the emus had become a tourist attraction after several eggs were hatched at the end of 2018, and while at one point there were nine emus in town, most had wandered away from town or been hit in accidents. Just two large emus remain, Kevin and Carol, who circle the area around the pub.


[..] Despite the emu population shrinking to just two, Gimblett said they remained noticeable given there “are only about 16 other” human residents in Yaraka, which is about a 13-hour drive west of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane. “We love them as part of the Yaraka community, but they’re not welcome inside any more.”

Read more …

“Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook.”

Facebook Vows To Break Up US Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful (Onion)

In an effort to curtail the organization’s outsized influence, Facebook announced Monday that it would be implementing new steps to ensure the breakup of the U.S. government before it becomes too powerful. “It’s long past time for us to take concrete actions against this behemoth of governance that has gone essentially unchecked since its inception,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, noting that while the governing body may have begun with good intentions, its history showed a culture of recklessness and a dangerous disregard for the consequences of its decisions. “Unfortunately, those at the top have been repeatedly contemptuous of the very idea of accountability or reform, and our only remaining course is to separate the government into smaller chunks to prevent it from forming an even stronger monopoly over the public.” Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 272020
 


Opening of Golden Gate Bridge May 27 1937

 

$1,200 Stimulus Check, Eviction Moratorium, and Reduced Unemployment Aid (ZH)
Gold Soars To All-Time High As Dollar Dive Boosts Safety Rush (R.)
Lockdown Has Made The Nation Happier – Study (Ind.)
Vietnam Orders Evacuation Of 80,000 People After Three Test Positive (Ind.)
Spain’s COVID19 Death Toll Could Be 60% Higher Than Reported – El Pais (RT)
The $52 Trillion Bubble That Has “Hijacked China’s Economy”
Britain Unveils Plans To Tackle ‘Obesity Time Bomb’ (R.)
Riots Are Driving Portland’s Small Businesses Under (RT)
Biden Campaign Declines ‘Fox News Sunday’ Interview (Fox)
More Willful Blindness By The Media On Spying By Obama Administration (Turley)

 

 

Don’t know why, is it because it’s Monday, or because I worked hard all weekend, but I had a bit of a hard time finding things today that I found interesting. That was mostly made up for when I saw these headlines in Britain’s Independent newspaper: “Lockdown Has Made The Nation Happier” and “Lockdown Took Away My Freedom But Set Me Free Spiritually”. That is genius. Especially when followed by the news that Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people from Danang because three were infected. That’s 80,000 people about to be happier.

Plus more news that the dollar is diving. Nor sure against what. I still think it’s gold that is rising, not the other way around. One look at gold vs euro confirms it. But that’s just me. Then again, sure, there’s tons of people betting against the dollar right now. That doesn’t mean it’s smart bet, though.

 

And as I write this, there’s another Assange circus “trial” happening. Intensely sad.

 

 

Substantial declines in new cases for both the world and the US. I just wish I could be a bit happier about them, but it was only a Sunday yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power, not people. From both sides. Down to the wire it is.

$1,200 Stimulus Check, Eviction Moratorium, and Reduced Unemployment Aid (ZH)

With the Trump Treasury sitting on $1.8 trillion and three months to spend it, the White House and Senate Republicans are set to introduce a $1 trillion spending bill on Monday which would be released in stages – angering Democrats who are pushing for an immediate, $3 trillion shotgun blast of stimulus. Speaking with ABC’s “This Week,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said “I see us being able to provide unemployment insurance, maybe a retention credit, to keep people from being displaced or brought back into the workplace, helping with our schools,” adding “we can negotiate on the rest of the bill in the weeks to come.” “The Trump administration opposes an extension of a $600-a-week enhanced unemployment payment that expired this month, Mnuchin and Meadows said.

Instead, White House officials favor a plan to reimburse an individual’s lost wages or salary by up to 70%”, said Mnuchin and Meadows.” -Newsday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) popped a fuse at the GOP proposal, blaming Republicans for waiting too long to negotiate for more relief after House Democrats passed a fifth, $3 trillion relief bill which would have included immediate aid to state and local governments, expanded testing and contact tracing for COVID-19. Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Pelosi said that Republicans are “in disarray and that delay is causing suffering for America’s families. So we have been ready for two months and 10 days. I’ve been here all weekend hoping they had something to give us.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, says the White House is “prepared to act quickly.” We bet they are.

Mnuchin added that unemployment benefits would be extended, while schools and universities would receive protection against “frivolous” lawsuits – part of overall GOP support for protections that would also include corporations. “Within the trillion-dollar package, there’s certain things that have time frames that are a bigger priority, so we could look at doing an entire deal, we could also look at doing parts,” said Mnuchin, adding that he would push for a “technical fix” to unemployment insurance after many have criticized the $600 weekly benefit as being too high, and a disincentive to searching for a job.

Read more …

Oh wait, I covered this yesterday. This morning, gold rises about as much vs the euro as vs the USD. So what is the dollar “diving” against other than gold and silver?

Gold Soars To All-Time High As Dollar Dive Boosts Safety Rush (R.)

Gold surged to record highs on Monday as an intensifying U.S.-China row and a weaker dollar sent investors scurrying to the safety of bullion to hedge against the risks to a global economy already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Spot gold rose 1.6% to $1,931.50 per ounce by 0627 GMT after hitting a record high of $1,943.93. U.S. gold futures gained 1.6% to $1,927.50. Silver too joined the rally, jumping more than 6% to $24.36, its highest since September 2013. Gold is in “perfect condition to move higher,” said ANZ commodity strategist Soni Kumari, amid the virus crisis and central banks pushing for liquidity.


“Further support is also coming from falling yields, weaker dollar and geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China. The safe-haven demand (for gold) has been rising while there is none for USD anymore.” The dollar fell to a near two-year low on increased bets the U.S. Federal Reserve could flag another accommodative policy shift when it meets this week, implying lower interest rates for longer. China seized the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, retaliating to the closure of its own consulate in Houston. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases surged to over 16.13 million globally, driving expectations of more stimulus to stem the economic blow. “As long as the (virus) situation gets worse, the market is discounting more stimulus for a longer period of time and in bigger quantities,” said Edward Meir, analyst at ED&F Man Capital Markets.

Read more …

Brilliant. Evokes the image of a guy pointing a gun at your forehead saying: I’m here to make you happy.

The Independent today also runs a story entitled “Lockdown Took Away My Freedom But Set Me Free Spiritually”. Just so you know.

Wonder what this pays.

Lockdown Has Made The Nation Happier – Study (Ind.)

Lockdown helped to restore people’s happiness after national levels fell when the pandemic began, new research suggests. According to a study by Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy, the number of Britons self-reporting as “happy” halved in just three weeks at the start of lockdown. Using data taken from YouGov Weekly Mood Tracker surveys and Google searches, the researchers found that the number of people declaring themselves as “happy” went from 51 per cent just before the UK’s first Covid-19 fatality to 25 per cent by the time lockdown began on 23 March. However, once lockdown restrictions started to be lifted, these figures reversed, with happiness levels increasing back to close to what they were pre-pandemic, reaching 47 per cent by the end of May.


The study also identified a distinction between life satisfaction among social groups, with those in wealthy categories experiencing a decline while the most deprived groups reported a relative rise in life satisfaction. Dr Roberto Foa, from Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies and director of the YouGov-Cambridge Centre for Public Opinion Research, commented: “It was the pandemic, not the lockdown, that depressed people’s wellbeing. “Mental health concerns are often cited as a reason to avoid lockdown. “In fact, when combined with employment and income support, lockdown may be the single most effective action a government can take during a pandemic to maintain psychological welfare.”

Read more …

And here’s 80,000 more and happier Vietnamese.

Vietnam Orders Evacuation Of 80,000 People After Three Test Positive (Ind.)

Vietnam has ordered the evacuation of 80,000 people from the coastal city of Danang after three residents there tested positive for coronavirus. The government said the evacuation would take four days and involve flights chartered to 11 different Vietnamese cities. Vietnam, which has been praised for its pandemic response after reporting just 400 cases and no deaths, went back on high alert at the weekend as it confirmed its first local infections since April, all in the popular tourism destination of Danang. An aggressive and widespread testing regime plus a strict quarantine had helped the South-East Asian nation almost eradicate Covid-19 within its borders, but the authorities are now grappling with its first internal infections for months. Although foreign tourists are still barred from entering the country, there has been a surge of domestic travel as the Vietnamese take advantage of discounted flights and hotel deals.


Anyone who had recently returned home from a break in Danang would be required to quarantine at home for 14 days, the health ministry has said. In addition, the prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has also ordered police to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration. It is not clear if the new Danang cases are connected to people entering Vietnam secretly but Vietnamese state media said on Sunday police had arrested a Chinese man accused of running a gang which smuggled people into the country from China. On Monday, the government announced more than 1,500 people had been caught illegally crossing the border from China into Ha Giang province in Vietnam since May. Most of those caught were Vietnamese citizens and had been sent into quarantine.

Read more …

Probably true in many places.

Spain’s COVID19 Death Toll Could Be 60% Higher Than Reported – El Pais (RT)

Spain’s Covid-19 death toll could be off by 60 percent, according to calculations by the country’s leading newspaper, El Pais, which suggest Spain has the second-highest number of deaths in Europe after the UK. An El Pais investigation published on Sunday found that the official figure of 28,432 deaths is likely far less than the true number of people who have died with the virus. Spain’s official death toll only includes people who had a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis, and not those who were suspected of having it but were never tested. El Pais looked at regional statistics on all suspected and confirmed deaths from the virus and concluded that 44,868 people died with Covid-19.


This figure is close to the number of excess deaths recorded by the National Epidemiology Centre and National Statistics Centre (INE) in June. It found that there were 43,945 more deaths between January and May 2020 than the previous year. The Spanish Association of Professionals and Funeral Services and the Carlos III Health Institute also calculated similar excess mortality figures during this time. If El Pais’ figures are accurate, it would mean that Spain has seen the second most deadly outbreak in Europe after the UK, which has recorded over 45,000 deaths. There was a lack of widespread testing carried at the beginning of the outbreak, which might explain the discrepancy with the official figures. At the end of May, the country lowered its death toll by 2,000 as a result of duplicate records and some regions reporting suspected cases as confirmed cases.

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All our money on one horse.

The $52 Trillion Bubble That Has “Hijacked China’s Economy”

More than three years ago, we explained why “the fate of the world economy is in the hands of China’s housing bubble.” As we said at the time, “China has always been a serial bubble inflator courtesy of a closed (capital account) economy, and nearly $30 trillion in bank deposits [$40 trillion as of July 2020] which slosh from one asset class to another, be it the stock market, bitcoin, commodities, farm animals or – most often – housing. ” Why is it so important for China to consistently reflate this bubble? The answer is simple: for China’s middle class there is no more important asset than housing: as Deutsche’s Zhiewi Zhang wrote in 2017 when discussing the macro and market consequences of the Chinese bubble, it is nothing more (or less) than “a massive wealth effect.”


Furthermore, unlike the US, which is hyperfinancialized and the bulk of household net worth is in financial assets (less than 30% is in real estate), in China it is the opposite, and roughly three-quarters of all household worth is in real estate. And since a global healthy economy starts with a growing, stable and inflating Chinese economy, unless China’s housing bubble is growing at a steady, measured pace created a “wealth effect” illusion among several hundred million middle-class Chinese, we concluded three years ago that the global economy is just as reliant on China’s housing market as it is on the global – and certainly US – stock market. Fast forward a little over three years, when China’s housing bubble is bigger than ever, and now the WSJ has picked up on what we said three years ago, namely that China’s epic housing market is perhaps the world’s most defining bubble, and more importantly, not even the covid pandemic did anything to threaten the sanctity of this bubble.

First, some context why China’s housing bubble currently eclipses the one in U.S. housing in the 2000s: “At the peak of the U.S. property boom, about $900 billion a year was being invested in residential real estate. In the 12 months ended in June, about $1.4 trillion was invested in Chinese housing. More was invested last month in Chinese real estate than any other month on record.” Some more statistics: “the total value of Chinese homes and developers’ inventory hit $52 trillion in 2019, according to Goldman Sachs, twice the size of the U.S. residential market and outstripping even the entire U.S. bond market.” China’s housing market is certainly bigger than the US stock market, and at its current growth rate will surpass the total value of all global stocks (which is currently about $85 trillion) in just a few years!

Read more …

He’ll be forever known as Fat Boris now.

Britain Unveils Plans To Tackle ‘Obesity Time Bomb’ (R.)

Britain unveiled plans to tackle an “obesity time bomb” on Monday, banning TV and online adverts for junk food before 9.00 p.m., ending “buy one get one free” deals on such foods and putting calories on menus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has lost weight since he was in intensive care with COVID-19, wants to tackle obesity after research showed those who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of death or severe illness from the coronavirus. Last month, he said Britain was fatter than most European countries apart from Malta and his government described “tackling the obesity time bomb” as a priority.

Ditching his earlier stance as a non-believer of “nannying” politics, his government is announcing a new drive to help people to “take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle”. Alongside the ban on adverts before 9.00 p.m. (2000 GMT), on food deals and plans for the calorific content of meals to be displayed on menus, the government will also launch a consultation on displaying calories on alcohol. “Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier,” Johnson said in a statement. “If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS (National Health Service).”

With more than 60% of adults in Britain considered overweight or obese, according to Public Health England, the coronavirus crisis has put the obesity issue at the forefront of the government’s thinking, with a “Better Health” campaign being launched alongside the new measures.

Read more …

Thought experiment: imagine this happening in a French or German city. How do you think their governments would react?

Riots Are Driving Portland’s Small Businesses Under (RT)

After nearly 60 straight nights of violence, business owners in Portland are sick and tired of riots. But as their stores go under, the coastal media treats the rioters to glowing coverage and city authorities do nothing. Portland is a liberal stronghold, and as ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests fizzle out around the country, anger remains at boiling point in the Oregonian city. The protests there have not been all banner-waving and slogan-chanting affairs though. Instead, droves of ‘Antifa’ types have laid siege to the city’s Justice Center for almost two months, tearing down barricades, lobbing fireworks, setting fires and stabbing each other.

Most of those involved in the riots would probably say they’re fighting police brutality or fascism, or something of the sort, but besides those injured in that fight there are other victims of the unrest – local business owners have repeatedly complained about the riots to the local media. In articles published every few days, these store owners, barmen and restaurateurs describe how the riots have driven them to the brink of bankruptcy. One clothing store manager told Oregon Live on Saturday that within days of coronavirus restrictions being lifted, he reopened his family’s store, only to watch rioters trash the premises in late May, days after the killing of George Floyd kicked off the season of unrest.

[..] While local news tells tales of shuttered stores and bankrupt businesses, national media outlets describe the violence in Portland as a good v evil showdown between protesters and federal “stormtroopers.” As store owners told their stories to local media, the New York Times ran an article last week celebrating the “diverse elements” taking part in the protests. The “mothers in helmets,” and “anti-fascist activists” are “largely peaceful,” the paper wrote, describing how they have been “galvanized” by the “militarized” feds on the streets. The Washington Post was even more effusive in its praise, describing the feds’ use of tear gas as a “chemical weapon,” and honoring the moms, dads, teachers and healthcare workers who refuse to disperse and willingly stride into the choking fumes. The motives of the protesters – beyond vague demands for “racial justice” – are never explained, but the Post painted a truly heroic image of one man using a leaf blower to fire gas back at the agents.

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For now, the basement is winning. So why change?

Biden Campaign Declines ‘Fox News Sunday’ Interview (Fox)

During his interview with Chris Wallace last week, President Trump questioned whether the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden, could handle the barrage of questioning that Wallace posed to Trump. The answer to that question – at least for now – we may never know. Wallace on Sunday informed viewers that the Biden campaign told Fox News he was “not available” for an interview. “In our interview last week with President Trump, he questioned whether his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, could handle a similar encounter,” Wallace said. “This week, we asked the Biden campaign for an interview and they said the former vice president was not available.” He added, “We’ll keep asking every week.”


The Trump campaign has hit Biden for months for abstaining from holding rallies and news conferences while continuing to do interviews amid the coronavirus pandemic. While Biden recently has returned to the stump, Trump and his allies continued to mock the former vice president for “hiding” in his home in Delaware. Biden’s reticence to do public events, however, has done little to hurt his candidacy as the latest polls had Biden comfortably ahead of Trump both nationally and in key battleground states.

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Wondering how the MSM will cover future indictments, subpoenas etc. Those will come.

More Willful Blindness By The Media On Spying By Obama Administration (Turley)

The Washington press corps seems engaged in a collective demonstration of the legal concept of willful blindness, or deliberately ignoring the facts, following the release of yet another declassified document which directly refutes prior statements about the investigation into Russia collusion. The document shows that FBI officials used a national security briefing of then candidate Donald Trump and his top aides to gather possible evidence for Crossfire Hurricane, its code name for the Russia investigation. It is astonishing that the media refuses to see what is one of the biggest stories in decades. The Obama administration targeted the campaign of the opposing party based on false evidence.

The media covered Obama administration officials ridiculing the suggestions of spying on the Trump campaign and of improper conduct with the Russia investigation. When Attorney General William Barr told the Senate last year that he believed spying did occur, he was lambasted in the media, including by James Comey and others involved in that investigation. The mocking “wow” response of the fired FBI director received extensive coverage. The new document shows that, in summer 2016, FBI agent Joe Pientka briefed Trump campaign advisers Michael Flynn and Chris Christie over national security issues, standard practice ahead of the election. It had a discussion of Russian interference. But this was different.

The document detailing the questions asked by Trump and his aides and their reactions was filed several days after that meeting under Crossfire Hurricane and Crossfire Razor, the FBI investigation of Flynn. The two FBI officials listed who approved the report are Kevin Clinesmith and Peter Strzok. Clinesmith is the former FBI lawyer responsible for the FISA surveillance conducted on members of the Trump campaign. He opposed Trump and sent an email after the election declaring “viva the resistance.” He is now under review for possible criminal charges for altering a FISA court filing. The FBI used Trump adviser Carter Page as the basis for the original FISA application, due to his contacts with Russians. After that surveillance was approved, however, federal officials discredited the collusion allegations and noted that Page was a CIA asset. Clinesmith had allegedly changed the information to state that Page was not working for the CIA.

Strzok is the FBI agent whose violation of FBI rules led Justice Department officials to refer him for possible criminal charges. Strzok did not hide his intense loathing of Trump and famously referenced an “insurance policy” if Trump were to win the election. After FBI officials concluded there was no evidence of any crime by Flynn at the end of 2016, Strzok prevented the closing of the investigation as FBI officials searched for any crime that might be used to charge the incoming national security adviser. Documents show Comey briefed President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the investigation shortly before the inauguration of Trump.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 262020
 
 July 26, 2020  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Youngest little girl of motherless family, Toppenish, Yakima Valley WA 1939

 

The Key To Defeating COVID19 Already Exists. We Need To Start Using It (NW)
Over 40% Of US Adults Are Susceptible To Severe COVID-19 (ZH)
UK Quarantines Travellers From Spain In Sudden Blow To Europe’s Revival (R.)
Australia Reports Jump In Daily New Cases, Record Deaths (R.)
US Renters Brace For Evictions As Moratorium Ends (Pol.)
Mass Evictions Set To Begin – Communities Of Color To Be Hardest Hit (F.)
A Record 170 Tons Of Physical Gold Were Just Delivered On The COMEX (JN)
49% of Voters Believe Kremlin Interfered In Brexit Referendum (O.)
How Our Spies Missed Russian Bid To Sway Brexit (G.)
Dozens Gather In MAGA Hats In Hopes Washington Post Will Defame Them (BBee)

 

 

I’d like to pay more attention to the spreading protests/riots in the US, but I find it’s very hard to find anything neutral. Who are the bad guys and who the good guys entirely depends on your news source. And then you have opinion, not news. Lots of videos of violence perpetrated by both sides. I don’t like the use of the term stormtroopers, because that’s straight out of nazi Germany. Which is not where we are, though I know, some people would say it is.

 

 

It’s Sunday, so no new records. Just persistently high numbers. Flare-ups in Melbourne, Hong Kong, EU countries. South Africa is getting bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, HCQ. From a professor of epidemiology at Yale. Sometimes it feels like HCQ has its own private cancel culture.

The Key To Defeating COVID19 Already Exists. We Need To Start Using It (NW)

As professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, I have authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications and currently hold senior positions on the editorial boards of several leading journals. I am usually accustomed to advocating for positions within the mainstream of medicine, so have been flummoxed to find that, in the midst of a crisis, I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines. As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily. Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly.

I am referring, of course, to the medication hydroxychloroquine. When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc. On May 27, I published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) entitled, “Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis.” That article, published in the world’s leading epidemiology journal, analyzed five studies, demonstrating clear-cut and significant benefits to treated patients, plus other very large studies that showed the medication safety.

Physicians who have been using these medications in the face of widespread skepticism have been truly heroic. They have done what the science shows is best for their patients, often at great personal risk. I myself know of two doctors who have saved the lives of hundreds of patients with these medications, but are now fighting state medical boards to save their licenses and reputations. The cases against them are completely without scientific merit. Since publication of my May 27 article, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit. In a lengthy follow-up letter, also published by AJE, I discuss these seven studies and renew my call for the immediate early use of hydroxychloroquine in high-risk patients.

These seven studies include: an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths; four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths; a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine; and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk. Since my letter was published, even more doctors have reported to me their completely successful use.

Read more …

How about you close McDonald’s permanently?

Over 40% Of US Adults Are Susceptible To Severe COVID-19 (ZH)

Several studies have found that the risk of contracting severe Covid-19 that can result in hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation or death increases with age as well as the presence of underlying health conditions. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study showing that a considerable share of the American population has some form of underlying health issue, which, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy details below, places them at risk from severe forms of the virus. The study’s findings are based on the 2018 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and U.S. Census population data and it determined that 40.7 percent of U.S. adults (aged 18 and over) have a pre-existing health condition.

The most prevalent condition in the study is obesity, affecting just over 30 percent of Americans and it followed by diabetes which has a national prevalence of 11.2 percent. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease have a prevalence of just under 7 percent while chronic kidney disease is at approximately 3 percent. The CDC stated that “while the estimated number of persons with any underlying medical condition was higher in population-dense metropolitan areas, overall prevalence was higher in rural nonmetropolitan areas.” It also added that “the counties with the highest prevalences of any condition were concentrated in Southeastern states, particularly in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as some counties in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and northern Michigan, among others”.

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Several EU countries have new flare-ups. Second Wave? I don’t think so. Just the effect of loosening restrictions, and people thinking it’s all over.

UK Quarantines Travellers From Spain In Sudden Blow To Europe’s Revival (R.)

Britain abruptly imposed a two-week quarantine on all travellers arriving from Spain after a surge of coronavirus cases, a dramatic and sudden reversal on Saturday to the opening of the European continent to tourism after months of lockdown. The quarantine requirement was due to take effect from midnight (2300 GMT on Saturday), making it impossible for travellers to avoid it by rushing home. The British foreign ministry also announced it was recommending against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, a move likely to prompt tour operators to cancel package holidays and trigger claims against insurers.

Spain’s Canary and Balearic Islands were not covered by the advice to avoid travel to the mainland, but holidaymakers returning to Britain from the islands will still be subject to quarantine on return. Britain’s government urged employers to be “understanding” towards staff who are unable to return to their place of work for two weeks after they return from holiday. The sudden British move followed steps this week by other European countries. On Friday Norway said it would re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain from Saturday, while France advised people not to travel to Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia.

But the total collapse of tourism from Britain would have far more impact. Britain accounted for more than 20% of the foreign visitors to Spain last year, the largest group by nationality. Tourism normally accounts for some 12% of Spain’s economy. Spain had been on a list of countries that the British government had said were safe for travellers to visit – meaning tourists returning home would not have to go into quarantine. The announcement of such lists just weeks ago had allowed Europe’s tourism sector to begin its revival after the near total shut-down prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Almost all Melbourne.

Australia Reports Jump In Daily New Cases, Record Deaths (R.)

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, recorded 459 cases of the new coronavirus, the second-highest daily total and up from 357 cases the previous day, the state’s leader said on Sunday. Premier Daniel Andrews also told a press briefing that Victoria had reported 10 COVID-19 deaths in past 24 hours, Australia’s highest ever daily number. The state’s second wave is being driven by workplace infections, including at aged-care and healthcare facilities, big distribution centres, slaughterhouses, cold-storage facilities and warehouses, Andrews said. “What that tells you is that some people… are feeling sick, they have symptoms and they are still going to work,” he said.


“If that continues, then we will just continue to see more and more cases.” The cases were found on the day with the highest number of coronavirus tests, at more than 45,000. Australia has avoided the worst of coronavirus crisis seen in other countries, but authorities are struggling to contain an outbreak in Victoria. It has recorded more than 14,400 cases so far. Victorians are subject to a six week lockdown, border closures with other states and mandatory face mask wearing.

Read more …

I’d like to know how many “homeowners” face eviction.

US Renters Brace For Evictions As Moratorium Ends (Pol.)

Columbus, Ohio, has turned part of its convention center into an evictions court. Denver is creating a handful of designated campsites for homeless people. And Milwaukee saw a 17 percent increase in eviction filings last month after a state ban lapsed. Cities across the country are bracing for a surge of evictions as a four-month federal moratorium that has protected millions of tenants from losing their homes in the middle of the pandemic expires Friday at midnight, with no relief in sight from Congress. The ban is ending just as a federal enhancement to unemployment benefits — a $600-a-week boost that has helped many laid off tenants pay at least some of their rent — also lapses this weekend.

Estimates of the number of people who stand to lose their homes are rough, given the patchwork of state and local bans on evictions, many of which are also expiring. But they range in the millions, and a disproportionate share of them are people of color. “The wave of evictions has already begun, and now Congress needs to act to prevent it from becoming a tsunami,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “If the federal ban is not extended, if the state and local eviction moratoriums that are scheduled to expire in the coming weeks do, and if no emergency rental assistance is provided, then from the end of August through fall, millions of Americans will be evicted from their homes,” Yentel said.

While states have imposed their own eviction moratoriums, 24 of them have already allowed the temporary bans to lapse. That leaves somewhere between 19 million and 23 million people — about one in five renters in the U.S. — at risk of eviction by the end of September if Congress fails to extend both the federal ban and supplemental unemployment benefits, according to an estimate by the Aspen Institute. The situation was dire even before both protections lapsed: Roughly 9.4 million renters have no confidence they will be able to make next month’s rent payment, according to the latest weekly survey by the Census Bureau, conducted the second week of July. Another 14.3 million have only “slight” confidence they will be able to make rent next month.

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Well, duh!

Mass Evictions Set To Begin – Communities Of Color To Be Hardest Hit (F.)

On March 27, the CARES Act was signed into law and included a moratorium through July 24 on evictions for those living in homes funded by federally backed mortgages or who rely on housing vouchers. This protection covers roughly a third of renters and expires today, putting millions of families at risk of losing their homes in the middle of an unprecedented health and unemployment crisis. Once the moratorium ends, landlords must still give renters 30 days’ notice before filing a complaint in court. Some states and cities have their own bans on evictions so renters should check with their local government if they receive notice. Over 17 million Americans are still unemployed and unable to find work, and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases only continues to rise.


Removing families from their homes amid the surge in cases will result in even more lives being lost. According to a report by The Center for Public Integrity, communities of color are most at risk of losing their homes. This same group is also the most vulnerable to the disease because of structural conditions. One example is that Black and other people of color are more likely to be considered essential workers or work in jobs that can’t be done remotely. The disparities in the quality and access to healthcare for Black individuals has been widely documented as well. These factors mean that the expiration of the moratorium on evictions will disproportionately affect Black and brown communities, and widen the racial wealth gap.

Read more …

Interesting story. If the spread between New York and London gold is too large, it pays to fly huge gold shipments around the world.

A Record 170 Tons Of Physical Gold Were Just Delivered On The COMEX (JN)

Three elements cause physical delivery on the COMEX to have reached record highs this year: strong demand for futures in New York, a persisting spread between the price of futures in New York versus spot gold in London, and arbitrage. Physical delivery on the largest gold futures exchange in the world, the COMEX in New York, has reached all time highs this year. In June more than 170 tonnes were physically delivered (5.5 million ounces). Usually, delivery is “neglectable.” What has changed? An important change in the global gold market occurred on March 23, 2020. On that day the price of gold futures in New York started drifting higher than the price for spot gold in London. Ever since, the spread has persisted, though it continuously widens and narrows.

[..] The world’s most dominant gold spot market is the London Bullion Market, where mostly “loco London” gold is traded. Meaning the metal is physically settled within the environs of the M25 London Orbital Motorway. The most dominant gold futures market is located in New York, where metal can be physically delivered within a 150-mile radius of the City of New York. Before March 23, the price in London (spot) and the price in New York (near month futures contract) always traded in tight lockstep because of arbitrage. If, for example, the futures price would trade above spot, arbitragers would “buy spot and sell futures” until the spread was closed. Arbitragers would hold their positions—long spot, short futures—until maturity of the futures contract, because at expiry the price of the futures contract was guaranteed to converge with the spot price.

In this example we can see that strong demand in New York would be translated into spot buying in London. Worth noting is that when a futures trader rolled its position into the next month, and his initial futures buying was translated into spot buying in London by an arbitrager, on a systemic level the arbitrager would roll its position as well. Of course, the opposite happened as well. When futures traded below spot, arbitragers would “buy futures and sell spot” until the spread was closed. So far, a simplified version of the market before March 23. Since March 23 of this year, futures have persistently been trading above spot, though the spread isn’t constant. As a result, arbitragers aren’t assured the futures price in New York will converge with the spot price in London. An arbitrage trade as described above, through a position in both markets, incurs risk.

What arbitragers currently do to profit from the spread is buy spot, sell futures, fly the metal to New York, and physically deliver the gold. This is how the profit is locked in. If the spread between spot and futures is $40 per ounce, the arbitrager’s profit is $40 minus costs for transport, insurance, storage, etc. Now you can see why the persistent spread between New York and London has increased physical delivery on the COMEX through arbitrage. Conclusion: Physical delivery on the COMEX is elevated because of the current unusual situation in the global gold market. The gold delivered in New York has been imported from spot markets such as Singapore, Switzerland and Australia. U.S. imports directly from the U.K. are rare, because in London 400-ounce bars are traded and the main futures contract in New York requires smaller bars for delivery.

Read more …

Just the Guardian confirming its propaganda works in Britain.

49% of Voters Believe Kremlin Interfered In Brexit Referendum (O.)

Almost half the British public believes the Russian government interfered in the EU referendum and last year’s general election, according to a poll. The latest Opinium poll for the Observer found that 49% of voters think there was Russian interference in the Brexit referendum, with 23% disagreeing. Some 47% believed Russia interfered in the December general election. The poll findings come after the long-awaited publication of the report into Russian interference by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee last week. It found that the government had not attempted to investigate potential Russian interference in the referendum. It said the UK had “badly underestimated” the Russian threat.

Opinium asked people whether they thought there was any involvement from Russia in the last three general elections, the EU referendum and the Scottish referendum. For each, the public were more likely to think that the Russian government had interfered than that it had not. Two-fifths (40%) thought Russia had interfered in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Remainers were more likely (63%) to think that the Russian government interfered in the EU referendum than Leavers (39%). Asked about the 2019 general election, 70% of Lib Dem voters and 62% of Labour voters believed the Russian government interfered, compared with 39% of Conservative voters. However, even Conservative voters were more likely to believe that the Russian government interfered in that election (39%) than not (33%).

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And for those still not with the program, Luke Harding explains that the only possible reason no Russian interference was found is that they weren’t looking. Just like Robert Mueller.

How Our Spies Missed Russian Bid To Sway Brexit (G.)

[..] the Russia report – published last week after a 10-month delay – paints a damning picture of British spooks who were too timorous or too incompetent to do much about a growing Russian threat, or the Kremlin’s surreptitious attempt to sway the Brexit vote. Over the last four years British and Russian policy have been remarkably aligned. For Theresa May as prime minister and her successor Boris Johnson, Brexit has been about delivering the “will of the people”. From Moscow, Brexit is seen as a wild success, diminishing the UK and estranging London from its European partners. And perhaps hastening Scottish secession too. The MPs who sit on parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) were incredulous at the lack of cooperation from the UK’s security agencies.


Asked about Moscow and Brexit, MI5 produced “six lines of text”, the report said. GCHQ didn’t drill down into the St Petersburg troll factory, which pumped out millions of pro-Leave messages. And MI6 failed to ask its secret agents what exactly the Kremlin was up to. Agency sources suggest such criticism is unfair. Yes, they say, MI5 has a permanent counter-intelligence mission. Its job is to keep Britain safe. Yet it also has a statutory duty to protect UK democracy. Whitehall sources last night insisted the security services fulfilled such responsibilities without political interference. Others say the security services depend on “tasking” from inside Whitehall – the Cabinet Office, the joint intelligence committee, and No 10. They have less operational freedom than the FBI in the US and they are culturally and historically reluctant to wade into politics. Plus the instructions never came.

Read more …

Babylon Bee.

Dozens Gather In MAGA Hats In Hopes Washington Post Will Defame Them (BBee)

After Nick Sandmann settled yet another nine-figure lawsuit today, dozens of people went out in MAGA hats, gathering outside The Washington Post’s offices in hopes that they too would be defamed by the newspaper. The clever entrepreneurs stood outside the paper’s headquarters wearing the pro-Trump headgear. They just stood there, not chanting or protesting or breaking anything, a protest tactic that immediately confused the liberals working at the Post. “It’s very strange — they’re not burning anything. They must not be peaceful protesters. Nonetheless, we will not be fooled by this tactic,” said a WaPo editor. “We will be able to resist the urge to commit libel against these deplora–I mean, these ordinary Americans.” At publishing time, The Washington Post had written defamatory articles about all of them. They are all preparing to retire comfortably.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 252017
 


Marc Riboud Paris 1953

 

Dems Push Leaders To Talk Less About Russia (Hill)
UK Housing Crisis Threatens A Million Families With Eviction By 2020 (G.)
The Answer Is Wages, Not Capital (Angusto)
Not All Fossil Fuels Are Going Extinct (BBG)
Reclaiming Public Services (TNI)
Contagion from the 2 Friday-Night Bank Collapses in Italy? (DQ)
Health Spending In Greece Down 40% In 2009-2015 (Amna)
Moody’s Raises Greece’s Sovereign Bond Rating After Bailout (AFP)
Greece, A Guinea Pig For A Cashless And Controlled Society (MPN)
Monsanto And Bayer Are Maneuvering To Take Over The Cannabis Industry (WT)

 

 

Endlessly ironic that publications like the Hill write on this. They are more responsible for all the nonsense than any politicians are.

Dems Push Leaders To Talk Less About Russia (Hill)

Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia. Democratic leaders have been beating the drum this year over the ongoing probes into the Trump administration’s potential ties to Moscow, taking every opportunity to highlight the saga and forcing floor votes designed to uncover any business dealings the president might have with Russian figures. But rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare.

In the wake of a string of special-election defeats, an increasing number of Democrats are calling for an adjustment in party messaging, one that swings the focus from Russia to the economy. The outcome of the 2018 elections, they say, hinges on how well the Democrats manage that shift. “We can’t just talk about Russia because people back in Ohio aren’t really talking that much about Russia, about Putin, about Michael Flynn,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told MSNBC Thursday. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make the mortgage payment, how they’re going to pay for their kids to go to college, what their energy bill looks like. “And if we don’t talk more about their interest than we do about how we’re so angry with Donald Trump and everything that’s going on,” he added, “then we’re never going to be able to win elections.”

Ryan is among the small group of Democrats who are sounding calls for a changing of the guard atop the party’s leadership hierarchy following Tuesday’s special election defeat in Georgia — the Democrats’ fourth loss since Trump took office. But Ryan is hardly alone in urging party leaders to hone their 2018 message. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) has been paying particularly close attention to voters’ concerns because he’s running for governor in 2018. The Russia-Trump investigation, he said, isn’t on their radar. “I did a 22-county tour. … Nobody’s focusing on that,” Walz said. “That’s not to say that they don’t think Russia and those things are important, [but] it’s certainly not top on their minds.”

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Elections it is then. A rudderless society.

UK Housing Crisis Threatens A Million Families With Eviction By 2020 (G.)

More than a million households living in private rented accommodation are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of rising rents, benefit freezes and a lack of social housing, according to a devastating new report into the UK’s escalating housing crisis. The study by the homelessness charity Shelter shows that rising numbers of families on low incomes are not only unable to afford to buy their own home but are also struggling to pay even the lowest available rents in the private sector, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness. The findings will place greater pressure on the government over housing policy following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in west London, which exposed the neglect and disregard for people living in council-owned properties in one of the wealthiest areas of the capital.

The Shelter report highlights how a crisis of affordability and provision is gripping millions with no option but to look for homes in the private rented sector due to a shortage of social housing. Shelter says that in 83% of areas of England, people in the private rented sector now face a substantial monthly shortfall between the housing benefit they receive and the cheapest rents, and that this will rise as austerity bites and the lack of properties tilts the balance more in favour of landlords. Across the UK the charity has calculated that, if the housing benefit freeze remains in place as planned until 2020, more than a million households, including 375,000 with at least one person in work, could be forced out of their homes. It estimates that 211,000 households in which no one works because of disability could be forced to go.

Graeme Brown, the interim chief executive at Shelter, said: “The current freeze on housing benefit is pushing hundreds of thousands of private renters dangerously close to breaking point at a time when homelessness is rising.” A total of 14,420 households were accepted by local authorities as homeless between October and December 2016, up by more than half since 2009 – with 78% of the increase since 2011 being the result of people losing their previous private tenancy. Local authorities are under a legal obligation to find emergency accommodation, such as in bed and breakfasts.

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A kernel of truth does not a good reasoning make.,

The Answer Is Wages, Not Capital (Angusto)

As in any other religion, faith lies behind capitalism. Faith that capital is a panacea always and in any situation: to push economic growth or to help less developed countries to catch up. Yet the fact is that the EU countries that were the main receivers of cohesion funds, before the extension to the East, later became rescued countries – and we have never before had as much capital on tap along with current low growth.

Both these facts should be enough to break the faith in capital or, at least, to recognise its limits. Let’s see those limits in the above-mentioned causes. The virtue of capital transfers to help low developed countries is based in old Marshall Plan history, which attributes the successful German recovery after WW2 to USA loans. Sure, those loans helped, but the necessary knowledge was already there and the capital transfers allowed the Germans to rebuild their supply capacity. Conversely, in the EU rescued countries, entering the EU came with a local supply capacity destruction, in Schumpeterian terms, for which cohesion funds were unable to compensate. As a result, their domestic demand outstripped internal supply and trade deficits became recurrent until the financial crash.

The key element was not capital but knowledge and its absence or availability in both situations; something very obvious but all too often forgotten. If capital has any virtue it comes from its origin: the capacity to produce output sufficient to recover the inputs used, to satisfy consumption needs and to save a part to be invested as new inputs for raising future output. It means that the virtue is not in the savings/capital itself but in the capacity to generate it. That’s why capital transfers that simply increased the receivers’ inputs provision, without increasing the output/input ratio –or system efficiency–, were in the end wasted money. To avoid this, it would have been necessary to increase the receivers’ efficiency, which is much more correlated with parameters like educational levels than with capitalization! Again, knowledge is the key question.

Furthermore, capital on its own is not only unable to help less developed countries catch up on their wealthier peers but it’s also unable to propel economic growth on its own, as we are now seeing. After years of letting profits grow at the cost of wages, hoping that greater capital would bring greater growth, now we hear companies claiming that they do not invest because they do not have sufficient demand to justify the investment. The clear solution would be to increase wages, but no single company will do it out of fear that the others won’t follow suit. In fact, what any company hopes is that the others increase wages and salaries but not itself. That’s why a global agent is needed: trade unions and the public administration! The latter to increase its spending to guarantee full employment and the former profiting from full employment to bargain higher salaries.

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Bloomberg’s valiant attempt to make you see it doesn’t understand energy. Well done!

Not All Fossil Fuels Are Going Extinct (BBG)

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest New Energy Outlook points the way to a sunny, windy future for the global electric power industry. That doesn’t mean that fossil fuels (or nuclear power) will vanish. It also doesn’t mean that all fossil fuels are the same. The future of natural gas and coal is a tale of two resources — one a story of rising fortunes, the other of slow decline. The latest outlook on natural gas is brighter than ever: BNEF’s forecast for gas shows a higher estimate for consumption in 2040 than in previous years, with a short decline at the end of this decade.

Coal is a different matter. Coal demand is expected to peak late next decade, then decline almost every year to reach a low of 3.1 billion metric tons in 2040, about 25% lower than at its peak.

This long-term outlook is nuanced, as it should be. The aggregated demand for each fuel from 2020 to 2040 has not changed much in three successive New Energy Outlook reports. Total gas consumption has only increased 6% since the 2015 report, while coal consumption from 2020 to 2040 – despite the plunge that is now expected, as noted above – has only changed 3.5%, and was exactly the same in 2016. However, the shape of that coal curve is still important, even if the volume hasn’t changed much. A coal mine that opens today could have a 60-year life, but it is likely to be one fraught with oversupply and competition from other coal producers, as well as other technologies. So how does the 2017 New Energy Outlook for gas and coal compare to how major oil companies and the International Energy Agency see it? For gas, everyone agrees: Consumption grows. Shell expects gas consumption to more than double and, perhaps not surprisingly, Exxon Mobil and BP also expect consumption to increase at least 50%. BNEF’s expectations are a bit more muted.

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Looks a tad hippyish, but as I’ve said a million times, no society should ever sell its basics to anyone. It’s lethal.

Reclaiming Public Services (TNI)

Reclaiming Public Services is vital reading for anyone interested in the future of local, democratic services like energy, water and health care. This is an in-depth world tour of new initiatives in public ownership and the variety of approaches to deprivatisation. From New Delhi to Barcelona, from Argentina to Germany, thousands of politicians, public officials, workers, unions and social movements are reclaiming or creating public services to address people’s basic needs and respond to environmental challenges. They do this most often at the local level. Our research shows that there have been at least 835 examples of (re)municipalisation of public services worldwide since 2000, involving more than 1,600 municipalities in 45 countries.

Why are people around the world reclaiming essential services from private operators and bringing their delivery back into the public sphere? There are many motivations behind (re)municipalisation initiatives: a goal to end private sector abuse or labour violations; a desire to regain control over the local economy and resources; a wish to provide people with affordable services; or an intention to implement ambitious climate strategies. Remunicipalisation is taking place in small towns and in capital cities, following different models of public ownership and with various levels of involvement by citizens and workers. Out of this diversity a coherent picture is nevertheless emerging: it is possible to build efficient, democratic and affordable public services. Ever declining service quality and ever increasing prices are not inevitable. More and more people and cities are closing the chapter on privatisation, and putting essential services back into public hands.

Ulli Sima, Vienna City Councilor for the Environment and Wiener Stadtwerke: “As early as 2001, Vienna protected drinking water with a constitutional decision. Municipal services must remain public and should not be sacrificed to private profit. We want to ally with other cities for strong municipal servicest.” Eloi Badia, the Barcelona Councilor for presidency, water and energy: “It is important to demystify the process of privatisation that has been launched in recent years by several governments, because it’s a model that has not proved its efficiency, failing to offer a better service or a better price.”

Célia Blauel, President of Eau de Paris and Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of the environment, sustainable development, water and the energy-climate plan: “Bringing local public services under public control is a major democratic issue, especially for such essential services as energy or water. It means greater transparency and better citizen supervision. In the context of climate change, it can contribute to leading our cities toward energy efficiency, the development of renewables, the conservation of our natural resources, and the right to water. ”

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Yesterday I wrote: “To paraphrase Juncker: “When things get serious in Europe, no rules or laws are immune to lies.”

Today, Don Quijones says: “..when things get serious in the EU, laws get bent.”

That ends to the Cyprus model before it was even truly inaugurated.

Contagion from the 2 Friday-Night Bank Collapses in Italy? (DQ)

When things get serious in the EU, laws get bent and loopholes get exploited. That is what is happening right now in Italy, where the banking crisis has reached tipping point. The ECB, together with the Italian government, have just this weekend to resolve Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, two zombie banks that the ECB, on Friday night, ordered to be liquidated. Unlike Monte dei Pachi di Siena, they will not be bailed out primarily with public funds. Senior bondholders and depositors will be protected while shareholders and subordinate bondholders will lose their shirts. However, as the German daily Welt points out, subordinate bondholders at Monte dei Pachi di Siena had billions of euros at stake, much of it owned by its own retail customers who’d been sold these bonds instead of savings products such as CDs. So for political reasons, they were bailed out.

Junior bonds play a smaller role at the two Veneto-based banks. According to the Welt, the two banks combined have €1.33 billion (at face value) in junior bonds outstanding. They last traded between 1 cent and 3 cents on the euro. So worthless. Only about €100 million were sold to their own customers, not enough to cause a political ruckus in Italy. So they will be crushed. The good assets and the liabilities, such as the deposits, will be transferred to a competing bank. According to a rescue plan apparently drawn up by investment bank Rothschild that surfaced a few days ago, Intesa Sao Paolo, Italy’s second largest bank, would get these good assets and the deposits (liabilities), for the token sum of €1, while all the toxic assets (non-performing loans) would be shuffled off to a state-owned “bad bank” – and thus, the taxpayer.

According to the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the bad bank would be left holding over €20 billion of festering assets. “Intesa gets a free gift, the state takes on all the bad stuff and the taxpayer pays,” said at the time Renato Brunetta, parliamentary leader for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. It is testament to just how desperate the situation has become in Italy’s banking crisis. The country’s largest lender, Unicredit, is in no position to help out: it had to raise €13 billion of new capital earlier this year just to keep itself afloat. Whether the deal with Intesa is still possible after the ECB’s decision to liquidate the banks, and what form this deal, if any, will take, and how much the taxpayer will have to fork over, and how to sugarcoat this in the most palatable terms is what the Italian government is currently trying to hammer out in its emergency meeting.

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How anyone can label this anything but ‘criminal’ is beyond me.

Health Spending In Greece Down 40% In 2009-2015 (Amna)

Health spending in Greece plunged 40% in the 2009-2015 period, Deloitte said in a survey released on Thursday. According to the survey, health spending fell to €14.1 billion in 2014, hit by a significant shrinking in medical/pharmaceutical coverage by the state and the social insurance system. It also stressed that this sharp decline mostly hit pharmacies and other professionals in the health sector and less the country’s hospitals. Hospital spending fell to €6.2 billion in 2015, from €9.0 billion in 2009, for an average annual decline of 6.0%, while average annual decline in the retail sector reached 7.0% and 9.0%, respectively. Deloitte said the state social insurance system covers 59.1% of total health spending in Greece, with patients covering 35.5% -a %age significantly higher compared with other European countries (UK 9.5%, France 6.7%, Italy 21.7%).

3.7% of total health spending is covered by private insurance contracts. Private hospitals were also hit during the 2009-2015 period, leading to more consolidation as the number of private hospitals fell by 6.0% and their size grew by around 1.0%. The total number of private and state hospitals in Greece was 283, mostly in Attica, offering 45,900 beds. The survey said that the number of beds surpassed demand by at least 18%. The survey noted that health spending recovered slightly to €14.7 billion in 2015 and stressed that international investors were showing strong interest for business deals in Greece.

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Want Moody’s to be nice to you? Slash your health system by 40%.

Moody’s Raises Greece’s Sovereign Bond Rating After Bailout (AFP)

Credit ratings agency Moody’s late Friday raised Greece’s long-term issuer rating to “Caa2” from “Caa3” after eurozone governments extended a credit lifeline to the country. Moody’s also changed its outlook to “positive”, up from “stable” previously, saying it saw signs that the heavily indebted country’s economy was stabilising. It pointed to a mid-June agreement reached by Greece’s creditors to relaunch an aid plan to the country, which had been blocked for months due to disagreements between eurozone countries – especially Germany – and the IMF. The move reduces the spectre of a short-term crisis, after eurozone governments agreed to give Greece a new credit lifeline of some €8.5 billion ($9.5 billion). Moody’s said it expected Greece’s debt ratio to stabilise this year at 179% of GDP, adding that growth should return to the economy this year and next.

Greece returned to growth in the first quarter of 2017, with a 0.4% increase in GDP, according to figures revised upwards in early June. “It is too early to conclude that economic growth will be durable,” Moody’s said. The IMF, which links financial aid to debt relief, has also signed an “agreement in principle” to allow immediate assistance that avoids a payment crisis in Athens this summer. It said Thursday that negotiations with creditors for debt reduction had “made progress”. “If we did not think there was a good chance of reaching a debt deal, we would not have chosen that route,” an IMF spokesman said. Moody’s also raised the long-term country ceilings for foreign-currency and local-currency bonds to B3 from Caa2.

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Another kernel of truth that proves writing articles is not that easy.

Greece, A Guinea Pig For A Cashless And Controlled Society (MPN)

The IMF, which day after day is busy “saving” economically suffering countries such as Greece, also happens to agree with this brave new worldview. In a working paper titled “The Macroeconomics of De-Cashing,” which the IMF claims does not necessarily represent its official views, the fund nevertheless provides a blueprint with which governments around the world could begin to phase out cash. This process would commence with “initial and largely uncontested steps” (such as the phasing out of large-denomination bills or the placement of upper limits on cash transactions). This process would then be furthered largely by the private sector, providing cashless payment options for people’s “convenience,” rather than risk popular objections to policy-led decashing.

The IMF, which certainly has a sterling track record of sticking up for the poor and vulnerable in society, comforts us by saying that these policies should be implemented in ways that would augment “economic and social benefits.” These suggestions, which of course the IMF does not necessarily officially agree with, have already begun to be implemented to a significant extent in the IMF debt colony known officially as Greece, where the IMF has been implementing “socially fair and just” austerity policies since 2010, which have resulted, during this period, in a GDP decline of over 25%, unemployment levels exceeding 28%, repeated cuts to what are now poverty-level salaries and pensions, and a “brain drain” of over 500,000 people—largely young and university-educated—migrating out of Greece.

Indeed, it could be said that Greece is being used as a guinea pig not just for a grand neoliberal experiment in both austerity, but de-cashing as well. The examples are many, and they have found fertile ground in a country whose populace remains shell-shocked by eight years of economic depression. A new law that came into effect on January 1 incentivizes going cashless by setting a minimum threshold of spending at least 10% of one’s income via credit, debit, or prepaid card in order to attain a somewhat higher tax-free threshold. Beginning July 27, dozens of categories of businesses in Greece will be required to install aptly-acronymized “POS” (point-of-sale) card readers and to accept payments by card.

usinesses are also required to post a notice, typically by the entrance or point of sale, stating whether card payments are accepted or not. Another new piece of legislation, in effect as of June 1, requires salaries to be paid via direct electronic transfers to bank accounts. Furthermore, cash transactions of over €500 have been outlawed. In Greece, where in the eyes of the state citizens are guilty even if proven innocent, capital controls have been implemented preventing ATM cash withdrawals of over €840 every two weeks. These capital controls, in varying forms, have been in place for two years with no end in sight, choking small businesses that are already suffering.

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Inevitable. Chemists go where they smell money.

Monsanto And Bayer Are Maneuvering To Take Over The Cannabis Industry (WT)

You may remember hearing back in September that Bayer, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, made a deal to buy out Monsanto for $66 billion. Although Monsanto was voted the most evil company in the world in 2013 and its reputation has continued to fall since, Bayer still went ahead with the buyout. A merger between these two companies is unsurprising, as though they both have long histories of involvement with Nazism and chemical weapons like agent orange which have devastated Vietnam since the war. In fact, Bayer began as a break-off company of the infamous IG Farben, which produced the chemical weapons used on the Jews during the Nazi reign. After the war, Farben was forced to break up into several companies, including BASF, Hoeschst, and Bayer.

Soon after at the Nuremberg trials, 24 Farben executives were sent to prison for crimes against humanity. However, in a matter of just 7 years each of them was released and began filling high positions in each of the former Farben companies, and many of them began working for the Russian, British, and American governments through a joint intelligence venture called “Operation Paperclip”: (“IG (Interessengemeinschaft) stands for “Association of Common Interests”: The IG Farben cartel included BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, and other German chemical and pharmaceutical companies. As documents show, IG Farben was intimately involved with the human experimental atrocities committed by Mengele at Auschwitz. A German watchdog organization, the GBG Network, maintains copious documents and tracks Bayer Pharmaceutical activities.” – Alliance for Human Research Protection)

After all these years, Bayer is now richer and more powerful than their predecessor company I.G. Farben ever was. According to Big Buds Magazine, Monsanto and Scotts Miracle-Gro have a “deep business partnership” and plan on taking over the cannabis industry. Hawthorne, a front group for Scotts, has already purchased three of the major cannabis growing companies: General Hydroponics, Botanicare, and Gavita. Many other hydroponics companies have also reported attempted buyouts by Hawthorne. (“They want to bypass hydroponics retail stores…When we said we won’t get in bed with them they said, ‘Well, we could just buy your whole company like we did with Gavita and do whatever we want.’” – Hydroponics Lighting Representative) Jim Hagedorn, CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro, has even said that he plans to “invest, like, half a billion in [taking over] the pot business… It is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden.”

He has also invested in companies such as Leaf, which grows cannabis in an electronically regulated indoor terrarium accessible via smartphone. It is logical that Bayer, being the parent company, would work together with Monsanto in order to share secrets which would advance mutual business. Many people in the cannabis industry have been warning about this, including Michael Straumietis, founder and owner of Advanced Nutrients. (“Monsanto and Bayer share information about genetically modifying crops,” Straumietis notes. “Bayer partners with GW Pharmaceuticals, which grows its own proprietary marijuana genetics. It’s logical to conclude that Monsanto and Bayer want to create GMO marijuana.” – Michael Straumietis)

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