Oct 112020
 


Paul Wolff Frankfurt Opera House 1934

 

It’s A 2-Point Race, Not 16 (WE)
Biden Says Voters Don’t Deserve To Know If He Would Pack Supreme Court (JTN)
Beltway Republicans Want Trump to Drop The “Russiagate” Issue (sundance)
Biden Misquotes Trump on Gold Star Families (FactCheck.org)
50 Richest Americans Now Worth More Than Poorest 165 Million (ZH)
Most Voters Believe FBI Should Be Prosecuted For Role In Russia Probe (JTN)
EU Agrees Common ‘Traffic Light’ System For Coronavirus Travel (R.)
New Italy Mandate Requires Face Masks At All Times When Outside (JTN)
Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders (Oster)

 

 

 

 

The Plot Against the President

 

 

Pollsters, like much of the press, don’t care about their credibility. They’re political instruments.

It’s A 2-Point Race, Not 16 (WE)

Add John Zogby to the growing number of Democratic pollsters questioning major media surveys showing a double-digit lead by Joe Biden over President Trump. “It’s closer than you think,” according to Zogby, who’s own John Zogby Strategies survey puts Biden’s lead at two points, 49%-47%. In his latest podcast with son and pollster Jeremy Zogby, John Zogby said that polls showing a bigger Biden lead are using a bad model, one that includes far too many Democrats. His model follows the partisan turnout in 2016 that was about 34% Republicans and about 38% Democrats. “We believe that is a more accurate reflection of the turnout model,” he said. But others showing a big Biden lead over-weigh Democrats. “Now some of the polls that have come out, I find troubling,” he said, citing CNN, Fox, and YouGov.

They give an average 15-point advantage to Democrats. CNN had it a 16-point lead. “I’m a Democrat,” he said, but “I just don’t don’t think the sampling is accurate.” While the elder Zogby didn’t cite a reason other pollsters are showing a bigger Biden lead, his son Jeremy did — Biden bias. “To me, it’s only two things. It’s deliberate, or it’s a projection of bias, and I would go with the latter,” he said in their weekly conversation, The Zogby Report. “If you live in an area, and you live in an echo chamber, and most of your friends think a certain way, a lot of times the echo chamber effect is that you tend to project, ‘How could people think such a certain way, clearly, for example, the president is out of mind, and he’s bad for this country, he’s bad for the world, so of course people are going to turn out in droves for Biden.’ I’m afraid that that’s what’s happening, a projection of bias in the data,” he said.

John McLaughlin, of McLaughlin & Associates, recently sent a memo to the president titled “Skewed media polls,” and said the media is trying to rig the election and suppress the GOP vote by making it look like a Biden runaway. In it, he wrote, “The latest skewed media polls must be intentional. It’s clear that NBC, ABC and CNN who have Democrat operatives like Chuck Todd, George Stephanopoulos and other Democrats in their news operations are consistently under-polling Republicans and therefore, reporting biased polls. They continue to poll adults or registered voters that skew away from likely voters. So instead of the 33% Republican turnout which actually happened in 2016, they are reporting polls on only 26%, 25% or even 24% Republicans.

Read more …

“You’ll know my position on court-packing the day after the election..” What a curious thing to say. But who attacks him on it? He gets away with it.

“.. the moment he answers that question all headlines will be about his stance.” No, the same press who don’t ask it now will not write about it after.

Biden Says Voters Don’t Deserve To Know If He Would Pack Supreme Court (JTN)

During a trip to Las Vegas, a reporter confronted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on if he would pack the court, in which he replied that voters don’t deserve to know. A KTNV reporter told Biden the number one thing viewers have asked in the past couple days is if he would choose to pack the court. “Well you’ve been asked by the viewers who are probably Republicans who don’t want me continuing to talk about what they’re doing to the court right now,” Biden responded Friday. “Well, sir don’t the voters deserve to know…?” reporter Ross DiMattei asked.


“No they don’t…. I’m not gonna play his game, he’d love me to talk about, and I’ve already said something on court packing, he’d love that to be the discussion instead of what he’s doing now,” Biden said. Last year during the Democratic primary, Biden claimed to oppose packing the court, something some of the other candidates supported. “You’ll know my position on court-packing the day after the election,” Biden said in Phoenix on Thursday, explaining that the moment he answers that question all headlines will be about his stance.

Read more …

In whose interest is this?

Beltway Republicans Want Trump to Drop The “Russiagate” Issue (sundance)

While it might seem frustrating to see republicans and conservatives demanding that President Trump stop talking about the greatest act of sedition and usurpation, within our Constitutional Republic in the history of our nation, this espousal by Andrew McCarthy is factually a very wide-spread opinion within the DC beltway:

Take the intents in their best possible light, and the basic premise is that no-one cares about the abuses of power that took place. National Review article by Rich Lowry is here. I have shared by own thoughts on this matter several times; and despite knowing this issue may not/will not drive the 2020 election; in my own contemplation I keep coming back to this central question: How can this be ignored? “… How does the office of a U.S. president; and more importantly the republic itself; survive a coordinated coup effort involving all three branches of government; while simultaneously those in charge of exposing the corruption fear the scale is too damaging for them to reveal?” What are your thoughts?

Read more …

Did he say really crazy things? Factcheck says no.

Biden Misquotes Trump on Gold Star Families (FactCheck.org)

Bartiromo, Oct: 8: And you said it was a blessing in disguise. Trump: A blessing in disguise. I’m — I’m glad because I’m the leader. And I can’t be like Biden where I hang out in a basement every day. Sure, he — if I wanted to hang out in a basement, I wouldn’t catch it, but I meet a lot of people and I have to. I’m the president of the country. I can’t hang around in a basement. So, I figured there would be a chance that I would catch it. Sometimes I’d be with — in groups of — for instance Gold Star families. I met with Gold Star families. I didn’t want to cancel that. But they all came in and they all talked about their son and daughter and father.

And, you know, they all came up to me and they tell me a story, Maria. It was really amazing actually, beautiful but sad. And they come up and they tell me a story about my son, sir, was in Iraq or he was in Afghanistan. And sir, he did this and he did that and then he charged in order to save his friends. And yes, sir, he was killed but he saved his friends. He’s so brave, sir. And they tell me these stories and I can’t say, “Back up, stand 10 feet.” I just can’t do it. And I went through like 35 people and everyone had a different story. I could also say don’t tell stories. They’re telling the story of their son who just died or daughter — Bartiromo: Right.

Trump: — or husband who just died in a war or recently died, you know, mostly over the last 10, 12 years but some very recent. And I can’t back up, Maria, and say, “Give me room, I want room. Give me 12 feet, stay 12 feet away when you talk.” They come, they come, within an inch of my face sometimes. They want to hug me and they want to kiss me. And they do. And frankly, I’m not telling them to back up. I’m not doing it. But I did say it’s like, you know — it’s obviously dangerous. It’s a dangerous thing I guess if you go by the COVID thing. But I’m thinking — Bartiromo: Yes. Trump: Look, I look at the numbers. I figured that you probably — that probably at some point I’d catch it and I’ll get better. That’s what happened. I’ve caught it.

Read more …

Perversity.

50 Richest Americans Now Worth More Than Poorest 165 Million (ZH)

If readers want more evidence that the current economic system is rigged towards the working poor, well, look no further: New Federal Reserve data shows how these monetary wizards exacerbated the wealth gap during the virus pandemic via unprecedented quantitative easing programs. Never before has the Fed unleashed so much monetary stimulus in a given quarter (2Q20) to shield the economy from the virus-induced downturn. The result is a “K-shaped” recovery, disproportionately affecting low-wage service workers and households of color, while billionaires, cent millionaires, and millionaires added record wealth. The Fed’s monetary interventions resulted in surging stock and other asset prices, while those who owned no assets did not participate in the “V” recovery.

Earlier this week, Swiss bank UBS and accounting firm PwC published a new report that showed the wealth of the world’s 2,189 billionaires jumped to a new record high of $10.2 trillion in July, surpassing the $8.9 trillion record at the end of 2017. It was only when the world’s central banks aggressively expanded their balance sheets, beginning in March, that the rich got richer… Bloomberg notes that the Fed data shows the top 1% of Americans are worth $34.2 trillion, while the poorest 50%, around 165 million people, control about $2.08 trillion, or less than 2% of all household wealth. Meanwhile, the 50 wealthiest people in the country are worth almost $2 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, up $339 billion from the start of 2020. Tesla’s Elon Musk is a prime example of a billionaire who saw his wealth rapidly increase this year, up $75.6 billion year-to-date, to $103 billion.


Covid-19 has exacerbated the already worsening inequality issues in the U.S. If it’s monetary or fiscal, the transmission of stimulus has primarily flowed to society’s wealthiest. The rich got richer, and the working-poor got poorer. Tens of millions of working poor households were handed lousy $1,200 checks, with many folks still without jobs, depleted emergency savings, food insecurity issues, and millions at risk of eviction. The wealthiest 1% saw their wealth erupt earlier this year as they own about 50% of all stocks and mutual funds. The top 9% own about a third of stocks, which means the top 10% of Americans own about 88% of stocks.

Read more …

The takeaway from this is how few people know they lied to a FISA court.

Most Voters Believe FBI Should Be Prosecuted For Role In Russia Probe (JTN)

A near-majority of voters say FBI agents and leaders should be prosecuted for their role in the Russian collusion conspiracy theory, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Among the voters, 46% said FBI officials should be criminally charged over the scandal, while only half that number — 23% — said they shouldn’t. Thirty percent were unsure. The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from October 1-3, 2020.

In a related Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen, just one-third of voters were aware that the FBI lied to a judge to obtain wiretaps against 2016 Trump campaign associates. When asked, 33% of voters said it was “true” that FBI agents lied to a judge to obtain warrants against Trump campaign affiliates. A fifth of all voters — 21% — found the allegation to be “false,” while 46% were unsure. The results indicate that relatively few voters are aware that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith earlier this year admitted to falsifying an email used to obtain a wiretap against 2016 Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Read more …

As if that solves any problems.

EU Agrees Common ‘Traffic Light’ System For Coronavirus Travel (R.)

European Union countries agreed on Friday to a common “traffic light” system to guide them on COVID-19 testing or quarantines on EU tourists and other non-essential travellers during the pandemic.It aims to end a confusing patchwork of restrictions across Europe and to bring back free movement of people, one of the key principles of the EU, within the 27-nation bloc when conditions allow. The system would lead to more “predictability and transparency” when travelling under COVID conditions in the EU, a spokesman for the German EU Council presidency said, calling it an important step forward.

The guidelines, which were backed by a majority of EU governments and will be formally adopted next week, advise that restrictions should be non-discriminatory, proportionate and limited to what is necessary. Under the plan, regions across the European Union will be designated green, orange or red, based on the degree to which the virus is under control, and grey if data is insufficient. The idea is that all countries will grant access to visitors from green zones. The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control will provide weekly updates to assign the colours.

Based on its current assessment, with COVID-19 cases spiking across Europe, few areas would qualify as green – most of eastern Germany, parts of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Cyprus, certain regions of Bulgaria and Greece and one zone in Italy. While individual EU countries are free to determine their own measures, they will be encouraged to be consistent, for example setting the same measures for all red zones. A green status will apply to regions with fewer than 25 infections per 100,000 people in 14 days and where the percentage of positive tests is below 4%. Red means infection rates of 50 or more and positive tests of 4% or higher or infection rates of over 150 even with a low positive test rate.

Read more …

“..masks and protective gear..” What other gear does he mean? Look, if people wear just anything on their faces nobody gets protected. That’s just signalling.

I just bought a whole bunch of KN95 masks for the people working at the social kitchen in Athens. They are at risk. And if I can do that, your government can also.

But this is just plain nonsense. The risk of getting infected outside is not zero, but still negligible.

New Italy Mandate Requires Face Masks At All Times When Outside (JTN)

Protesters gathered in Rome on Saturday to show their anger over the country’s mask mandates among other continuous COVID-19 rules as infections across Italy and Europe are on the rise. Demonstrators expressed their frustration over harsh virus mandates that have not stopped since the beginning of the pandemic, including a new order that calls for all Italians to wear face masks while outside or else they could face a fine up to 1,000 euros ($1,200). “From now on, masks and protective gear have to be brought with us when we leave our house and worn. We have to wear them all the time unless we are in a situation of continuous isolation,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.


There were two different anti-mask protests on Saturday in the city, according to AP News. The ‘march for freedom’ event rallied Italians together to show their government disapproval and concerns for the democracy and economy. There have been 350,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Italy and 36,140 deaths. Most of the recent cases in the country are asymptomatic, and are detected through increased testing.

Read more …

Smart girl.

Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders (Oster)

In early august, the first kids in America went back to school during the pandemic. Many of these openings happened in areas where cases were high or growing: in Georgia, Indiana, Florida. Parents, teachers, and scientists feared what might happen next. The New York Times reported that, in parts of Georgia, a school of 1,000 kids could expect to see 20 or 30 people arrive with COVID-19 during week one. Many assumed that school infections would balloon and spread outward to the broader community, triggering new waves. On social media, people shared pictures of high schools with crowded hallways and no masking as if to say I told you so.

Fear and bad press slowed down or canceled school reopenings elsewhere. Many large urban school districts chose not to open for in-person instruction, even in places with relatively low positivity rates. Chicago, L.A., Houston—all remote, at least so far. It’s now October. We are starting to get an evidence-based picture of how school reopenings and remote learning are going (those photos of hallways don’t count), and the evidence is pointing in one direction. Schools do not, in fact, appear to be a major spreader of COVID-19. Since early last month, I’ve been working with a group of data scientists at the technology company Qualtrics, as well as with school-principal and superintendent associations, to collect data on COVID-19 in schools.

Our data on almost 200,000 kids in 47 states from the last two weeks of September revealed an infection rate of 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 percent among staff. That’s about 1.3 infections over two weeks in a school of 1,000 kids, or 2.2 infections over two weeks in a group of 1,000 staff. Even in high-risk areas of the country, the student rates were well under half a percent. School-based data from other sources show similarly low rates. Texas reported 1,490 cases among students for the week ending on September 27, with 1,080,317 students estimated at school—a rate of about 0.14 percent. The staff rate was lower, about 0.10 percent. These numbers are not zero, which for some people means the numbers are not good enough.

But zero was never a realistic expectation. We know that children can get COVID-19, even if they do tend to have less serious cases. Even if there were no spread in schools, we’d see some cases, because students and teachers can contract the disease off campus. But the numbers are small—smaller than what many had forecasted. Predictions about school openings hurting the broader community seem to have been overblown as well. In places such as Florida, preliminary data haven’t shown big community spikes as a result of school openings. Rates in Georgia have continued to decline over the past month. And although absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I’ve read many stories about outbreaks at universities, and vanishingly few about outbreaks at the K–12 level.

Read more …

 

 

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Maps actual sizes

 

 

 

 

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Sep 262020
 
 September 26, 2020  Posted by at 5:42 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


Dora Maar Model in swimsuit 1936

 

 

I’ll try one more time, if only to show you that me heart’s in the right place. Yes, lockdowns work, and so do facemasks. But that doesn’t mean all lockdowns or facemasks or requirements for either work all the time. The UK was very late with its first lockdown, and let in a million people through their airports without testing them. After they did lock down, another 100,000 came in, no testing.

And now people there say lockdowns don’t work. Have you seen this report, or that report? Sorry, but I don’t have to. A virus spreads by jumping from host to potential host. Keep them apart and it can’t spread. I don’t need a “scientific” probe to figure that one out. The principle of a lockdown works, but that’s still only half the story.

The facemask thing is a little more complex perhaps. But it’s complicated only because various governments have neglected to do the one thing they should have: make sure they have the best facemask ready for everyone, the one mask that is proven to be effective, preferably mass-produced in their country/state/territory. But have you seen N95 facilities being erected where you are?

Now the entire world is walking around with masks that they all can see offer little protection, and mostly where they have little effect. Moreover, I see lots of people here in Athens who washed them with their underwear and wear them again the next day, because they’ve been told they have to cover their face with something anything. But that’s not how this works. What little protection those blueish masks that are everywhere offer, is gone once you wash them. What’s left is merely symbolic.

And as for the well-meaning crowd that make their own masks, stop trying, those things don’t do a thing and they make you look stupid. There are actually norms and data and whatnot for this, and putting your panties on your face does not comply with any science whatsoever. It’s just scaring people, and we have enough of that, thank you. Non-woven masks work best, that mean anything to you?

The droplets that the virus hitchhikes on to get from one host to another are way too small to be stopped by granny getting creative with her bathroom curtains. But it’s not you, it’s your government which should have had an N95 mask production facility in place months ago.

They should also have mass-produced vitamin D, and zinc, because these cheap elements would have decreased the new cases, and the severity of them, by probably half. But no western government that I know of has even mentioned the role of these cheap supplements in the COVID story.

How odd is that? It appears to be in line with the hydroxychloroquine story, which went from “It will kill you!” when Trump first mentioned it in public, to “It’s not effective” in Fauci’s terminology. But medical doctors I’m talking to still maintain it works, and perhaps more importantly, continue to treat their infected patients with it.

Sort of the same thing goes for the western Big Pharma attempts to get a vaccine, there were 239 of those trials last time I counted. But there’s never been a vaccine for any of the many coronaviruses, and not for lack of trying. Unless you count the Russian Sputnik V, developed in a fundamentally different way from the western ones, but that wouldn’t make Big Pharma any profits, so we all choose to just ignore and discard it.

 

It’s “funny” to see how all those politicians like the power to tell people what to do, lock them down etc., but when their measures don’t work, and that’s the case all over Europe, they blame their people and never themselves. I haven’t seen even one say, I’m sorry, I failed, I step down. Instead they all talk about doing more of what didn’t work. More lockdowns. Hey, you failed, move over!

In countries like Britain and Holland, they’re so busy trying not to explain how and why they still didn’t have enough PCR testing capacity 9 months into the pandemic, that they completely fail to see that PCR is the wrong testing method to use on a grand scale. Holland has “identified” 5 rapid testing options and needs until November for their “experts” to find the best one.

Meanwhile they have a “rapid test test” facility where doctors and nurses apply the tests, which should cost perhaps €1 a piece max, but which set you back a very reasonable €225. Good lord. The incompetence is not going to stop here and now, it’s engrained in the political and societal brains and structures.

And it’s not just the politicians, the “experts” also refuse to see and acknowledge that they are utter failures. They, too, blame the people. But just like they should have all secured access to 100 N95 masks for every individual, and Vit. D and zinc, and HCQ if people still get sick, they should have made rapid tests available for everyone to use at home, twice a week or so, if only just to ease the pressure. But health care has been institutionalized, so that will only happen when things get terribly out of hand.

All these failures have cost a lot of lives, and will continue to do so, and do a huge amount of damage economically and mentally. The idea of second lockdowns is insane, given that no N95 masks, no Vit. D, no zinc, no HCQ were ever made available. But the lockdowns will come regardless. Because the politicians and experts can and will blame it all on you.

In an event like this, people’s worlds get much smaller, and they only know what their “local” media tell them, and those media are in line with the respective political systems. In crisis times, you as a journalist don’t attack the leading party, no matter how badly they fail, because they will deflect any criticism right back onto you, and say it’s your critical reports that made people behave badly.

It’s circular logic at its finest. And since all these fine people in all these fine countries got it all wrong in the same way, they can use each other for cover. France can point their finger at Spain, and they at Italy, and all hail the King of Sweden. BTW, has anyone ever seen an explanation for why so many countries and states sent infected elderly people back into care homes? That one puzzles me.

 

The next threat is hidden right in that finger-pointing. Because they all want to keep their borders open, and that has consequences. Should have gotten it right the first time, guys, because Lockdown 2.0 was always going to be much harder. What you will see now is groups of people in various countries saying they will not do 2.0. While borders are open.

And what then? You’re going to lock them all up (instead of down), in virus-infected prison cells? You guys have no idea what’s coming at you. There is even talk in several places of engaging the army to make people obey. But it’s the politicians and experts who have failed, not the people who have lost faith in them. And those people have had 6 months now to educate themselves on COVID19, so they’re not so easily fooled anymore.

I still don’t believe in the big conspiracy themes. I see a sea of incompetence, of people not up to their jobs who insist on hanging on to those jobs anyway. That’s true, too, for the blunt refusal to even consider N95, Vit.D, zinc and HCQ. They’re just not smart enough. They were not selected for being smart, but for fitting into, and being servants to, the existing system. And then something unexpected happens. And they have no idea what to do.

Many people will not accept Lockdown 2.0. Not because they’re stupid, or suicidal, or they want to kill their neighbors and friends, but because they understand that what they’ve given up over the past 9 months has been of no benefit to them, or their neighbors and friends. And then on top of that they themselves get blamed for things getting worse. That’s the breaking point, right there.

Our “leaders” simply have no clothes on.

 

 

 

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Sep 062020
 


Vincenzo Camuccini La Morte Di Cesare 1804

 

Trump and Biden Could Face Dramatic Post-Election Battle (Yoo)
Russia COVID19 Vaccine Effective Against Any Dose Of Virus (RT)
Total COVID19 Deaths Projected To Double In US, Triple in World By Jan. 1 (R.)
PCR Tests ‘Could Be Picking Up Dead Coronavirus’ (BBC)
Italian Mayor Wants Penalties For Wearing A Face Mask When Unnecessary (RT)
New Media Propaganda Tool: Use “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite (Greenwald)
The Stunning Synergy of The Atlantic’s Anonymous Attack on Trump (Pollak)
Strzok Joins Weissmann, Doubts NYT story on FBI’s Trump-Russia Inquiry (WE)
The Fed’s New Policy Won’t Get Inflation (Roberts)
Majority Of US Young Adults Live With Parents For The 1st Time In 80 Years (Pew)

 

 

We’re full speed ahead into absolute election mayhem, and nobody’s even thinking of pulling the brakes. Throw in a second and third corona wave, more lockdowns, more riots.

 

 

Today’s numbers gain in importance because of a model (see below) that predicts that before January 1, US total deaths will more than double to 410,000, and the world’s will triple to 2.8 million. A bold prediction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suggest you read this well. You’ll understand how this really works, and come away thinking you don’t understand a thing.

Trump and Biden Could Face Dramatic Post-Election Battle (Yoo)

The Constitution requires the winner of the presidential election to garner a majority of the 538 votes in the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton won about 3 million more popular votes than Trump four years ago, but Trump won a clear Electoral College majority of 306-232. But if the election is close this year — as many prognosticators predict — and a few battleground states fail to report their votes on time, then neither President Trump nor former Vice President Biden might be able to assemble the required 270 electoral votes needed to become president. If such a stalemate occurs, a constitutional fail-safe would throw the election into the House of Representatives. Our nation barely avoided that outcome 20 years ago and has only used it twice in our history.

But even though the House will likely remain under Democratic control after the election, the Constitution’s process for resolving disputed elections should still bode well for Trump’s reelection. How could control of the White House end up in the domain of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.? It depends on the decisions made 230 years ago. America’s founders rejected the idea that Congress should pick the president, which they believed would rob the chief executive of independence, responsibility and energy. They wanted the American people to have the primary hand in choosing the president. But the founders wanted the choice mediated through the states, because they also feared direct democracy.

In a compromise that binds us still, the founders allowed state legislatures to pick electors for the president, based on their number of senators and members of the House combined. The state-based organization of the Electoral College and its slight advantage for states with small populations (which receive two extra Electoral College votes no matter their population, since every state has two senators) underscore the founders’ desire to give federalism a say in the choice of the president. The founders went further in designing their constitutional backup. They realized that the Electoral College might yield no majority winner. They expected that regions might support their favorite sons instead.

In Article II of the Constitution, as modified by the 12th Amendment, the framers established that if no one won a majority of Electoral College votes, the House would pick the president from the top three vote-getters. But Pelosi and the Democrats — assuming that they hold onto their majority in the House — still won’t pick the president. Rather than allowing a simple majority vote in the House to select the president, the Constitution requires that the House choose the president by voting as state delegations. That means that California (represented by 53 House members) and Delaware (represented by 1 House member) would each get a single vote to pick the president. Once again, the founders decided to amplify the voice of the states in the presidential selection process, rather than defaulting to pure democracy.

And that is how Trump could win the presidency again. If the Electoral College votes yield no majority winner Dec. 14, the Constitution sends the vote to the House. Thanks to Republican advantages among the states, rather than the cities, the current balance of state delegations in the House favors Republicans, with 26 delegations controlled by Republicans and 23 controlled by Democrats (Pennsylvania is tied). If today’s House chose the president by voting by state delegations, Trump would win. But there is one more twist. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution seats a new Congress on Jan. 3, but does not begin the term of a new president until noon on Jan. 20. That means the new House chosen in the November election, rather than the current House, would choose the president if neither Trump nor Biden wins an Electoral College majority.

Even though Republicans currently have a majority of House delegations, Democrats have narrowed the gap. After the 2016 elections, Republicans had held a 32-17 advantage in House delegations. If Democrats can win one more congressional seat in Pennsylvania and then flip one more delegation, they could achieve a 25-25 tie in the House in January. Under this scenario, the election would require political bargaining of the most extreme kind for the House to resolve a disputed presidential election. But suppose the House can’t agree, which could well be likely given the polarization of our politics. The Constitution even provides for this. If the House splits 25-25 between Trump and Biden, then the 20th Amendment elevates the vice president-elect to the presidency. Under the 20th Amendment, when the Electoral College fails, the Senate chooses the vice president.

But unlike the House procedure, the senators each have an individual vote, meaning that under the current balance in the upper chamber, 53 Republicans would choose Mike Pence to effectively become the next president. But one-third of the seats in the Senate will be filled in the November election, meaning control of the chamber could flip to the Democrats. Under this scenario, Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., could wind up as our next president and make history as the first woman to hold the office in American history. All of this is as complicated as it sounds. Election Day could be just the start of a new phase in a prolonged fight for control of the White House, rather than the conclusion of a long campaign.

Read more …

Vaccination to start as early as October. What if it is a huge success, what will the west do?

Russia COVID19 Vaccine Effective Against Any Dose Of Virus (RT)

The leader of the team behind Sputnik V said on Friday that the immune response documented among volunteers taking the world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine is sufficient to fight any level of Covid-19 infection. Alexander Gintsburg, head of Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, was speaking on the same day that The Lancet reported on trials confirming that every patient who received the vaccine had developed antibodies without any significant side-effects. The British publication, one of the oldest and best-respected medical journals in the world, confirmed that the Sputnik V vaccine had successfully produced antibodies in all 76 participants in early-stage trials.


“The vaccine’s immune response documented currently among volunteers is enough to counter any dose of Covid-19 that you could imagine,” Gintsburg said. Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has revealed that post-registration clinical trials of Sputnik V in the capital could last from two to six months. He also confirmed that mass vaccination is likely to start in late 2020 or early 2021. “Some batches will arrive as early as this year,” he told Russia’s Channel One TV in an interview shown on Saturday. “There’s every likelihood that they will be used to vaccinate risk groups. These are healthcare, education, trade, the housing and utilities sectors, law enforcement agencies and some others – perhaps journalists.”

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We need more models than just this one. But scary it is.

Total COVID19 Deaths Projected To Double In US, Triple in World By Jan. 1 (R.)

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


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

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Why have we been focusing on PCR as much as we have? It is so far from perfect it’s not funny anymore.

PCR Tests ‘Could Be Picking Up Dead Coronavirus’ (BBC)

The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say. Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards. Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic. But some experts say it is uncertain how a reliable test can be produced that doesn’t risk missing cases. Prof Carl Heneghan, one of the study’s authors, said instead of giving a “yes/no” result based on whether any virus is detected, tests should have a cut-off point so that very small amounts of virus do not trigger a positive result. He believes the detection of traces of old virus could partly explain why the number of cases is rising while hospital admissions remain stable.

[..] The PCR swab test – the standard diagnostic method – uses chemicals to amplify the virus’s genetic material so that it can be studied. Your test sample has to go through a number of “cycles” in the lab before enough virus is recovered. Just how many can indicate how much of the virus is there – whether it’s tiny fragments or lots of whole virus. This in turn appears to be linked to how likely the virus is to be infectious – tests that have to go through more cycles are less likely to reproduce when cultured in the lab. But when you take a coronavirus test, you get a “yes” or “no” answer. There is no indication of how much virus was in the sample, or how likely it is to be an active infection.

A person shedding a large amount of active virus, and a person with leftover fragments from an infection that’s already been cleared, would receive the same – positive – test result. But Prof Heneghan, the academic who spotted a quirk in how deaths were being recorded, which led Public Health England to reform its system, says evidence suggests coronavirus “infectivity appears to decline after about a week”. He added that while it would not be possible to check every test to see whether there was active virus, the likelihood of false positive results could be reduced if scientists could work out where the cut-off point should be. This could prevent people being given a positive result based on an old infection.

And Prof Heneghan said that would stop people quarantining or being contact-traced unnecessarily, and give a better understanding of the current scale of the pandemic. Public Health England agreed viral cultures were a useful way of assessing the results of coronavirus tests and said it had recently undertaken analysis along these lines. It said it was working with labs to reduce the risk of false positives, including looking at where the “cycle threshold”, or cut-off point, should be set. But it said there were many different test kits in use, with different thresholds and ways of being read, which made providing a range of cut-off points difficult.

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Hear hear. It’s important to avoid unneeded pressure. Already, renewed lockdowns lead to a lot of protest. As predicted: you need to get the first one right, or trouble’s on the way.

Italian Mayor Wants Penalties For Wearing A Face Mask When Unnecessary (RT)

These days, going out without wearing a face mask is considered poor form – and, in some places, an offense. But the mayor of an Italian town says fines should be slapped on those wearing a mask in an “inappropriate” situation. In the same way global health authorities insist masks contain the spread of coronavirus, Vittorio Sgarbi, the mayor of Sutri, is confident his unorthodox initiative will help stem the spread of “pandemic-related hysteria,” as he put it, according to the TASS news agency. The lingering Covid-19 pandemic has so far infected close to 275,000 people in Italy and killed more than 35,500 – almost seven times the entire population of Sutri. Yet, for Sgarbi, mandatory mask-wearing should have its limits, particularly when public safety is at stake.


Sgarbi, who is also a renowned art historian, cultural commentator, and television personality, told TASS he had issued a decree – yet to be approved by the Italian government – calling for imposition of a fine for wearing a mask in a situation when it’s not needed. “My decree has been issued under the current terrorism prevention laws,” he told the Russian media outlet. The legislation in question says people shouldn’t have their faces covered in a public place. Breaching this law can result in a one or two-year prison sentence or a fine of up to €2,000 (around $2,365). Sgarbi made it clear that anyone breaking his ban wouldn’t incur such a harsh penalty, but that people should wear a mask only when the occasion requires. “Wearing a mask at dinner is absurd,” he clarified. The mayor is no stranger to going against the mainstream. Ahead of the pandemic, he reportedly dismissed coronavirus as “a flu” and ridiculed those raising concerns about the looming crisis. He later made a formal apology when the death toll surged.

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The story stinks.

New Media Propaganda Tool: Use “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite (Greenwald)

It seems the same misleading tactic is now driving the supremely dumb but all-consuming news cycle centered on whether President Trump, as first reported by the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, made disparaging comments about The Troops. Goldberg claims that “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day” — whom the magazine refuses to name because they fear “angry tweets” — told him that Trump made these comments. Trump, as well as former aides who were present that day (including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Bolton), deny that the report is accurate. So we have anonymous sources making claims on one side, and Trump and former aides (including Bolton, now a harsh Trump critic) insisting that the story is inaccurate.

Beyond deciding whether or not to believe Goldberg’s story based on what best advances one’s political interests, how can one resolve the factual dispute? If other media outlets could confirm the original claims from Goldberg, that would obviously be a significant advancement of the story. Other media outlets — including Associated Press and Fox News — now claim that they did exactly that: “confirmed” the Atlantic story. But if one looks at what they actually did, at what this “confirmation” consists of, it is the opposite of what that word would mean, or should mean, in any minimally responsible sense. AP, for instance, merely claims that “a senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press,” while Fox merely said “a former senior Trump administration official who was in France traveling with the president in November 2018 did confirm other details surrounding that trip.”

In other words, all that likely happened is that the same sources who claimed to Jeffrey Goldberg, with no evidence, that Trump said this went to other outlets and repeated the same claims — the same tactic that enabled MSNBC and CBS to claim they had “confirmed” the fundamentally false CNN story about Trump Jr. receiving advanced access to the WikiLeaks archive. Or perhaps it was different sources aligned with those original sources and sharing their agenda who repeated these claims. Given that none of the sources making these claims have the courage to identify themselves, due to their fear of mean tweets, it is impossible to know. But whatever happened, neither AP nor Fox obtained anything resembling “confirmation.”

They just heard the same assertions that Goldberg heard, likely from the same circles if not the same people, and are now abusing the term “confirmation” to mean “unproven assertions” or “unverifiable claims” (indeed, Fox now says that “two sources who were on the trip in question with Trump refuted the main thesis of The Atlantic’s reporting”). It should go without saying that none of this means that Trump did not utter these remarks or ones similar to them. He has made public statements in the past that are at least in the same universe as the ones reported by the Atlantic, and it is quite believable that he would have said something like this (though the absolute last person who should be trusted with anything, particularly interpreting claims from anonymous sources, is Jeffrey Goldberg, who has risen to one of the most important perches in journalism despite (or, more accurately because of) one of the most disgraceful and damaging records of spreading disinformation in service of the Pentagon and intelligence community’s agenda).

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An across the board set-up. And yes, there will be more.

The Stunning Synergy of The Atlantic’s Anonymous Attack on Trump (Pollak)

The Atlantic published a story Thursday evening that claimed President Donald Trump called the fallen American soldiers in a World War I cemetery “suckers” and “losers” in 2018. The author, Jeffrey Goldberg, cited four anonymous sources. Nearly a dozen current and former Trump administration officials disputed the story. One, notably, was John Bolton, the former national security adviser who says he will not vote for Trump. “I was there,” he said, and “I didn’t hear that.” Other claims in The Atlantic story are refuted by documentary evidence. The article claims, for instance, that Trump refused to visit the cemetery because the rain would ruin his hair. Bolton’s tell-all book said otherwise; so do official documents.

What is more interesting than the details of the story is how it was produced, and how it was rolled out. It has the appearance of a well-coordinated, well-executed campaign of disinformation, utilizing the full toolbox available to the Democratic Party. The article was published Thursday evening. By Friday morning, a left-wing group called Vote Vets had not only produced an ad based on the article, but had aired it on Morning Joe — MSNBC’s early-morning flagship news and opinion show. Meanwhile, the article spread across social media like a brush fire in a derecho. It trended at the top of Twitter; it was shared widely on Facebook, all without any of the “fact checks” that typically accompany disputed news reports on such platforms.

The Biden campaign issued a statement Thursday night — “If the revelations in today’s Atlantic article are true” — and held a press call Friday morning. The call featured, among others, Khizr Khan — the Gold Star father who attacked Trump in 2016. A short time later, Biden himself held a press briefing on the U.S. economy. Though he was expected to discuss the August jobs report — which came in better than expected, at 1.4 million jobs added — he led with an angry tirade about the article. At the end of his presentation, Biden turned to his campaign staff, who chose which reporters would be allowed to ask questions, and in what order. The first question went to Edward-Isaac Dovere, who writes for — surprise! — The Atlantic.

Dovere asked, “When you hear these remarks — ‘suckers,’ ‘losers,’ recoiling from amputees — what does it tell you about President Trump’s soul, and the life he leads?” It was a setup for Biden to attack Trump over The Atlantic allegations again. None of the other questions asked were challenging in any way; all appeared to be setup questions for Biden to attack Trump or to clarify some lingering problem — whether he had been tested for coronavirus (yes), where his running mate was (busy). No one asked Biden whether it was appropriate to attack Trump based on an unconfirmed report. No one even asked Biden about his economic policies.

What we witnessed Thursday night into Friday morning was the deployment of the Death Star — the full Democrat-media complex on display, coordinating journalists, outside political organizations, tech platforms, and unnamed military sources. It may be no coincidence that retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who was fired, ironically, because he had disparaged President Barack Obama and Biden — now advises a firm using military technology to help Democrats produce propaganda. It took weapons-grade skill to produce a story that, while unprovable, had the ring of truth to those eager to believe it (it “resonates,” said NBC’s Peter Alexander, whether it was true or not) and to make it the dominant story of the news cycle — on a day when the jobs market rebounded and Trump brokered a historic deal between Israel and Muslim-majority Kosovo.

Goldberg — the unofficial stenographer of the Obama White House — was just a vehicle. The real story is much bigger. The same machine that created and promoted The Atlantic piece will be sure to produce others.

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He doubts Rosenstein frustrated the inquiry. Strzok has a book out, you’ll hear a lot about it soon. It argues there were tons of reasons for the inquiry.

Strzok Joins Weissmann, Doubts NYT story on FBI’s Trump-Russia Inquiry (WE)

Controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok cast further doubt on a New York Times story that claimed the Justice Department secretly blocked special counsel Robert Mueller’s team from conducting a Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation without informing the FBI. Strzok, who was a key member in the FBI’s investigation into both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s improper private email server and Crossfire Hurricane’s Trump-Russia inquiry, said he “didn’t feel such a limitation” during his time on Mueller’s team when asked about a piece by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, whose article was adapted from his new book, Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President.

Mueller’s “pitbull,” Andrew Weissmann, also cast doubt on the story a few days ago, and Mueller’s report and testimony also seem to contradict some claims made by the New York Times. “The Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials, keeping investigators from completing an examination of President Trump’s decades-long personal and business ties to Russia,” the New York Times reported on Sunday, adding the FBI opened the counterintelligence investigation in May 2017, but “within days,” former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.”

Anne Applebaum of the Atlantic asked Strzok during an interview published Friday about the report, which she said, “suggests that the Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation, precisely so that it would not touch on the president’s long-standing relationship with Russia.” Strzok cast doubt on that. “During the time I worked at the Special Counsel’s Office, I didn’t feel such a limitation,” Strzok replied. “When I discussed this with Mueller and others, it was agreed that FBI personnel attached to the Special Counsel’s Office would do the counterintelligence work, which necessarily included the president. But that’s an extraordinarily complex task, one of the most difficult counterintelligence investigations in the FBI’s history.”

Strzok added that “perhaps the FBI is somehow carrying out a comprehensive survey, with the full involvement of the CIA and NSA and the entire U.S. intelligence community” but said he worried that the inquiry “largely died on the vine.” Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team when numerous anti-Trump texts he’d exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were unearthed, and he was fired in 2018. Strzok is currently suing the Justice Department. Weissmann also said the New York Times was wrong about its FBI counterintelligence story, tweeting, “NYT story today is wrong re: alleged secret DOJ order prohibiting a counterintelligence investigation by Mueller, ‘without telling the bureau.’ Dozens of FBI agents/analysts were embedded in Special Counsel’s Office and we were never told to keep anything from them.”

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Lance Roberts lists 5 reasons why, I picked my per peeve: monetary velocity. That alone does the trick.

5 Reasons The Fed’s New Policy Won’t Get Inflation (Roberts)

What the Federal Reserve has failed to grasp is that monetary policy is “deflationary” when “debt” is required to fund it. How do we know this? Monetary velocity tells the story. What is “monetary velocity?” “The velocity of money is important for measuring the rate at which money in circulation is used for purchasing goods and services. Velocity is useful in gauging the health and vitality of the economy. High money velocity is usually associated with a healthy, expanding economy. Low money velocity is usually associated with recessions and contractions.” – Investopedia. With each monetary policy intervention, the velocity of money has slowed along with the breadth and strength of economic activity.

However, it isn’t just the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet which is undermining the strength of the economy. It is also the ongoing suppression of interest rates to try and stimulate economic activity. In 2000, the Fed “crossed the Rubicon,” whereby lowering interest rates did not stimulate economic activity. Instead, the “debt burden” detracted from it.

To illustrate the last point, we can compare monetary velocity to the deficit. To no surprise, monetary velocity increases when the deficit reverses to a surplus. Such allows revenues to move into productive investments rather than debt service. The problem for the Fed is the misunderstanding of the derivation of organic economic inflation.

[..] in order to generate “real inflation,” economic growth must be strong enough to support employment that exceeds the rate of population growth. That employment must ALSO be productive (manufacturing based) employment which leads to higher wages. (Service jobs are deflationary as they go to the lower cost of labor.) Higher wages lead to increased consumption which allows producers to increase prices (inflation) over time. This has not been the case for nearly 40-years as technology continues to reduce the demand for labor by increasing productivity. This is the “dark side” of technology that no one wants to talk about. However, this cannot be achieved in an economy saddled by $75 Trillion in debt which diverts income from consumption to debt service. This is why “monetary velocity” began to decline as total debt passed the point of being “productive” to become “destructive.”

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Virus, income and a few shut dorms.

Majority Of US Young Adults Live With Parents For The 1st Time In 80 Years (Pew)

In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults. The share of young adults living with their parents is higher than in any previous measurement (based on current surveys and decennial censuses).

Before 2020, the highest measured value was in the 1940 census at the end of the Great Depression, when 48% of young adults lived with their parents. The peak may have been higher during the worst of the Great Depression in the 1930s, but there is no data for that period. The share of young adults living with parents declined in the 1950 and 1960 censuses before rising again. The monthly share in the Current Population Survey has been above 50% since April of this year, reaching and maintaining this level for the first time since CPS data on young adults’ living arrangements became available in 1976.


Young adults have been particularly hard hit by this year’s pandemic and economic downturn, and have been more likely to move than other age groups, according to a Pew Research Center survey. About one-in-ten young adults (9%) say they relocated temporarily or permanently due to the coronavirus outbreak, and about the same share (10%) had somebody move into their household. Among all adults who moved due to the pandemic, 23% said the most important reason was because their college campus had closed, and 18% said it was due to job loss or other financial reasons.

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Gettysburg Address. All of 272 words.

 

 

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Aug 312020
 


Bruce Davidson Iran 1964

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upward mobility

 

 

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

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

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


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

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Promises, promises.

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

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


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

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I think this is what we would call a racket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shift.

Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

Cancel culture wherever you look.

Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 012020
 
 July 1, 2020  Posted by at 11:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  33 Responses »


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait of Vincent van Gogh 1887

 

US Has “Way Too Much Virus” To Contain Outbreak (Axios)
Fauci Warns Of 100,000 US Cases Per Day (BBC)
US Buys Almost Entire World’s Supply Of Coronavirus Drug (Ind.)
People In Their 20s Largest Age Group Of New COVID-19 Cases In Minnesota (MPR)
The Biggest Myths About The National Deficit (Alt.)

 

 

Only yesterday I wrote “..at this point it is entirely unclear how countries like the US and Brazil will ever be able to get rid of the virus.” Dr. Fauci, also yesterday, said “We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around..”

Turn around? How? CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat said the US has “way too much virus” to contain the outbreak.” Scott Gottlieb has even more dire numbers:

 

 

Things are not looking good at all. But there’s more. The nationwide protests are perceived, presented, played as anti-Trump manifestations. By both political sides, for political gain. And by the media for financial gain. That makes them de facto election rallies. And the pro-Trump side will not accept any more restrictions on their own rallies, which they (will) argue are just as legitimate. Because they have an election to contest.

If the BLM protests can continue, despite virus warnings and limited numbers at gatherings, then the conservatives will gather too, in comparable numbers. And they don’t “believe” in distancing or face masks, they claim they don’t reduce their risks, they reduce their freedom.

“Perfect storm” is an often abused term. But it does come to mind here and now.

And you thought the first half of 2020 was hard.

 

 

 

 

US has sixth day in a row with over 40,000 new cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I would think it’s obvious by now.

US Has “Way Too Much Virus” To Contain Outbreak (Axios)

The novel coronavirus is spreading too widely and quickly to contain, CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat told The Journal of the American Medical Association Monday, warning she expects “this virus to continue to circulate.” Per Schuchat, “This is really the beginning, and what we hope is that we can take it seriously and slow the transmission.” Her comments are in contrast to those of senior members of the Trump administration — notably Vice President Mike Pence, who said on Friday “we have made truly remarkable progress.” COVID-19 cases are surging across the U.S., prompting states including Texas, Arizona and New Jersey to pause plans to reopen their economies in recent days.


What else she’s saying: “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging,” Schuchat said in her interview with the Journal’s Howard Bauchner. She said there was “a lot of wishful thinking around the country” that the pandemic would be over by the summer. “We are not even beginning to be over this,” Schuchat said. “There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so.” “We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea, where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control.”

Read more …

If this is a war, as many have labeled it, the US is losing it.

Fauci Warns Of 100,000 US Cases Per Day (BBC)

Top disease researcher Dr Anthony Fauci has told the US Senate that he “would not be surprised” if new virus cases in the country reach 100,000 per day. “Clearly we are not in control right now,” he testified, warning that not enough Americans are wearing masks or social distancing. During the hearing, he said about half of all new cases come from four states. Earlier, the New York governor said nearly half of all Americans must self-quarantine if they visit the state. On Tuesday, cases rose by more than 40,000 in one day for the fourth time in the past five days. The surge – which is occurring particularly strongly in southern and western states – has forced at least 16 states to pause or reverse their reopening plans, according to CNN.

Florida, Arizona, Texas and California are the four states referenced by Dr Fauci as being most heavily hit currently. For some the new measures come over a month after they first began to reopen their economies. [..] Testifying to a Senate committee on the effort to reopen schools and businesses, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases criticised states for “skipping over” benchmarks required for reopening, and said cases will rise as a result. “I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that,” he told Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they’re doing well, they are vulnerable.”

“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” he added. Dr Fauci also called on the US government to produce face masks to be distributed for free to all Americans, and condemned the “all or none phenomenon” of some people who have completely disregarded social distancing measures.

Read more …

As someone said today: late-stage capitalism. Meanwhile, the UK wants to restart its HCQ testing program.

US Buys Almost Entire World’s Supply Of Coronavirus Drug (Ind.)

The US has effectively secured the world’s supply of one of only two drugs proven to help treat coronavirus. Remdesivir, which has previously been used to fight Ebola but has now been found to reduce recovery times among Covid-19 patients, is exclusively manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has announced it has bought up more than 500,000 doses of the drug. The figure equates to Gilead’s entire production for July, as well as 90 per cent of its production in both August and September. The US’s decision to stockpile the drug means there will likely be little supply in the rest of the world for several months.


HSS secretary Alex Azar, hailed the move, saying president Donald Trump had struck an “amazing deal”. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it,” Mr Azar added. “The Trump Administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for Covid-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.”

Read more …

It took about a month?!

People In Their 20s Largest Age Group Of New COVID-19 Cases In Minnesota (MPR)

More than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among Minnesotans in their 20s in the Mankato area who said they went to bars on June 12 and 13 — the first weekend bars and restaurants were allowed to serve indoors. Two Mankato bars — Rounders and The 507 — were the focal points of that young adult outbreak, Ehresmann said Friday. Officials were also following up on a cluster of 30 cases at two Minneapolis bars — Cowboy Jack’s and Kollege Klub. Social media from those bars shows they were crowded, with no room for social distancing, and people who were standing and not masked, so not following the state guidance, Ehresmann said.


“It’s not that you can’t socialize. It’s not that you can’t have fun,” she said. “But you need to do in a manner that’s safe for you and the people around you.” Friday’s Health Department data showed that Minnesotans in their 20s now make up the largest age group of confirmed cases in Minnesota — 7,045 people infected, with two deaths. While those young people may be less likely to suffer complications from COVID-19, officials say the concern is that they may be unknowingly spreading the disease to grandparents or other potentially vulnerable populations.The median age of confirmed cases in Minnesota has been dipping and is now just under 40 years old.

Read more …

Stephanie Kelton is on an MMT mission. It’s not an easy one. It goes against everything we think we know about economics.

The Biggest Myths About The National Deficit (Alt.)

What drives the biggest misunderstandings about government debt in our national conversation? Stephanie Kelton: Everything is wrong. The way we talk about federal government debt is, from my perspective, we say things like we’re borrowing from China and foreigners. Hillary Clinton said when she was secretary of State that it’s a national security threat. People talk about it representing a liability to all of us, so we hear people talk about “your share [of the national debt],” a burden on future generations, that it ultimately has to be paid back, that it’s going to require higher taxes in the future. I could keep going.

So what connects all these misunderstandings? Are we thinking of the government too much like a household or a business? Yes, of course. We think that the government has borrowed, and we think that this is real debt. And neither of those things is correct. I say in the book that if I walk into a bank and borrow money, I’m borrowing money because I don’t have it. Right? That’s why I got to the bank to take out a loan. The federal government is not borrowing money because it needs money. It’s not borrowing because it doesn’t have the capacity to finance whatever it wants to spend money on. It has the fiscal capacity; it can just spend. And not only that, the government sells the bonds.

And by the time the government sells the bonds, the spending has already taken place. So the bonds cannot possibly be the tool with which the government raises money in order to spend. It’s selling the bonds after the spending had already taken place. Why does it do that? It doesn’t need to borrow, it has already financed the spending. So we don’t really understand — the public and most economists get this wrong — we don’t even understand what the purpose of selling bonds is. We treat it as a borrowing operation. It’s not. The purpose of selling the bonds is to drain off the reserves, the dollars, to remove some of the dollars the government has spent into the economy and replace them with treasuries. It’s a subsidy to the rich, is what it is.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 192020
 


NPC “Largest electric locomotive and Congressman John C. Schafer” 1924 (he’d be in an electric car today)

 

Mainland China Reports 32 New Coronavirus Cases, 25 Of Them In Beijing (R.)
Mexico Posts Record Number Of New Coronavirus Infections (R.)
AMC Theaters To Reopen, Say Face Masks A “Political Controversy” (V.)
John Bolton’s Bad Reviews Don’t Stop Him Topping Us Book Charts (G.)
Bolton, Pelosi Agree: Trump Unfit To Be US President (R.)
Japan’s Deflation Gathers Momentum As Prices Extend Declines (R.)
Fed Chair: Keep Private Entities Out Of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CD)
EU Car Sales Crash 57% In May As Europe Amid Inventory Glut (ZH)
Australia Sees China As Main Suspect In State-Based Cyberattacks (R.)
Report Reveals CIA Incompetence To Blame For Vault 7 Breach (RT)
Americans Are Unhappiest They’ve Been In Nearly 50 Years (Ind.)
Indian Primate Jailed For Life After Carnivorous Rampage (RT)

 

 

Happy Juneteenth!

I made sure to check quite a few times, but it is what it is: according to Worldometer data, over the past 24 hours global new cases went from an almost record 141,872 on June 17 to an all-records shattering 177,168 on June 18. Maybe something’s off, but right now I couldn’t say what.

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 18 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 140,528. Third consecutive day above 140,000.

My count 6AM EDT to 6AM EDT based on Worldometer numbers is much higher today at 177,168.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 29,180
• Brazil + 23,050
• Russia + 7,790
• India + 13,827
• Mexico + 5,662

 

 

Cases 8,602,359 (+ 177,168 from yesterday’s 8,425,191)

Deaths 456,802 (+ 4,994 from yesterday’s 451,808)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunan we have a problem.

Mainland China Reports 32 New Coronavirus Cases, 25 Of Them In Beijing (R.)

Mainland China reported 32 new coronavirus cases as of the end of June 18, 25 of which were reported in the capital city Beijing, China’s National Health Commission said on Friday. This compared with 28 confirmed cases a day earlier, 21 of which were in Beijing. Local authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading further following a series of local infections. Another five asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but show no symptoms, were also reported as of June 18 compared with eight a day earlier. China does not count these patients as confirmed cases.

Read more …

Did we close the borders yet?

Mexico Posts Record Number Of New Coronavirus Infections (R.)

Mexico’s health ministry reported on Thursday a record 5,662 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 667 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 165,455 cases and 19,747 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Read more …

“AMC Theater CEO Adam Aron says their cinemas won’t require masks upon reopening because they didn’t “want to be drawn into a political controversy.”

Is testing also a political viewpoint? How about COVID19 treatment at hospitals? Can we deny that to people who have political issues with facemasks?

AMC Theaters To Reopen, Say Face Masks A “Political Controversy” (V.)

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, has unveiled plans to re-open after coronavirus forced it to close its more than 600 venues in the U.S. for nearly four months. The company is expected to resume operations in 450 of those locations on July 15 and expects to be almost fully operational by the time that Disney’s “Mulan” debuts on July 24 and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” bows on July 31. As part of that process, AMC is reducing its seating capacity in order to help people social distance, it is implementing new cleaning procedures, placing hand-sanitizing stations throughout its theaters and encouraging contact-less and cash-free concessions. “We didn’t rush to reopen,” AMC CEO and president Adam Aron said in an interview with Variety.

“There were some jurisdictions in some states, such as Georgia and Texas, that allowed people to reopen theaters in mid-May. We opted to remain closed, so we could give the country time to get a better handle on coronavirus. We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely.” AMC’s competitors Regal and Cinemark announced their own plans to resume business earlier this week, targeting a similar mid-July timeframe for when they expect to be fully operational. [..] Prior to coronavirus there was a great deal of consolidation in the exhibition space, much of it made possible by debt financing. AMC’s decision to acquire rivals such as Odeon Cinemas, UCI Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas left it heavily leveraged with more than $5 billion in debt. In recent filings, AMC acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic could push it into bankruptcy. [..]

AMC will not mandate that all guests wear masks, although employees will be required to do so. Nor will AMC perform temperature checks on customers, though it will monitor its employees’ temperatures and have them undergo screenings to check for signs of coronavirus. The situation will be different in states and cities that require residents to wear a mask when they’re in public, but Aron said that AMC was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized. “We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

[..] the theater chain said that it is going to lean heavily on technological solutions such as deploying electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters, which would eliminate airborne particles and reduce the chance that COVID-19 will spread. Other procedures being implemented include cleaning auditoriums between each showtime and allowing extra time between screenings for disinfection; blocking out every other row of seats to decrease congestion; pushing guests to use online ticketing and kiosks to limit interactions with staff, and designating various points within theaters for one-way foot traffic.

Read more …

“Orange Man Bad” beats Black Lives Matter.

John Bolton’s Bad Reviews Don’t Stop Him Topping Us Book Charts (G.)

John Bolton’s damning indictment of the Trump presidency is soaring up online charts in the US a week before its release, despite withering reviews describing it as “bloated with self-importance”, as the Trump administration makes a last-ditch attempt to prevent its publication. In the teeth of a series of critical assessments from papers including the New York Times and the Washington Post, Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened is currently No 1 on Amazon’s US charts. Its sales are just ahead of another scathing take on Donald Trump, this time his niece Mary Trump’s forthcoming Too Much and Never Enough, which is subtitled How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Bolton’s book, which is out on 23 June, and Mary Trump’s, scheduled for 28 July, have knocked anti-racism titles by authors including Ibram X Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo and Robin DiAngelo off the top spots.

As the US justice department on Wednesday sought an emergency order to block publication of Bolton’s memoir, copies of the book were leaked to news outlets which revealed a series of explosive claims from the former national security adviser. According to Bolton, Trump pleaded with China to help him with his 2020 re-election campaign, praised China’s president Xi Jinping for his country’s internment camps, and was willing to halt criminal investigations to “give personal favours to dictators he liked”. Trump also weighed in, claiming on Twitter that the book is “made up of lies & fake stories”. Early reviews of the book have not been favourable. The New York Times said the memoir was “bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much”.

Filled with “minute and often extraneous details”, the review continued, it “toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged”. The Washington Post said that “for a memoir that is startlingly candid about many things, Bolton’s utter lack of self-criticism is one of the book’s significant shortcomings”, while NPR found that Bolton “clearly does not expect to attract the casual reader, or anyone else unable to digest sentences such as this one on the third page: ‘Constant personnel turnover obviously didn’t help, nor did the White House’s Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all)’.”

Read more …

Bolton, Pelosi Agree: Trump Unfit To Be US President (R.)

President Donald Trump came under attack from both sides of the American political spectrum on Thursday as liberal Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and former White House aide and conservative hawk John Bolton both declared him unfit to lead the country. “President Trump is clearly ethically unfit and intellectually unprepared to be the president of the United States,” Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told a news briefing. In a new book, Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, has accused the Republican president of sweeping misdeeds, including explicitly seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aid to win re-election in November. “I don’t think he’s fit for office,” Bolton told ABC News in part of an interview aired on Thursday.

“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s re-election.” Pelosi told a weekly news conference she was consulting with her fellow Democrats on whether to subpoena Bolton about the allegations in the book, which has not yet been distributed. If Bolton testifies before Congress, it could revive the issue of Trump’s competence as he faces a stiff challenge on Nov. 3 from Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, and fends off criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and protests over racial injustice and police brutality. Bolton refused to testify in the House’s impeachment probe last year and threatened to sue if subpoenaed. He offered to testify in the subsequent trial in the Senate, but the Republican-controlled chamber did not take him up on the offer.

[..] Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who led the impeachment inquiry, sharply criticized Bolton as unpatriotic for withholding information from the probe. The new allegations are “further proof” that Trump’s actions in Ukraine were part of a pattern of abusing his power and the U.S. government for personal political gain, Schiff said in a statement.

Read more …

Abenomics will die with Abe’s political career regardless.

Japan’s Deflation Gathers Momentum As Prices Extend Declines (R.)

Japan’s core consumer prices fell for a second straight month in May, reinforcing deflation expectations and raising the challenge for policymakers battling to revive an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. The data will likely complicate the Bank of Japan’s job of restoring growth and inflation, with a raft of recent indicators suggesting the nation is in the grip of its worst postwar economic slump. Several BOJ board members warned that stronger monetary support and closer policy coordination with the government were needed to prevent Japan from returning to deflation, minutes of the bank’s April meeting showed.

“With the pandemic hurting the economy, there’s a good chance Japan may slide into deflation. Downward pressure on prices will likely persist throughout this year,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. The nationwide core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil but excludes volatile fresh food prices, fell 0.2% in May from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday. That compared with market forecasts of a 0.1% fall and followed a 0.2% drop in April, which was the first year-on-year decline since December 2016. The BOJ kept policy steady this week after expanding stimulus in March and April. But governor Haruhiko Kuroda conceded that inflation would remain well short of its 2% target for years to come.

[..} Some BOJ policymakers were concerned that bolder steps are needed to prevent the country from slipping back to sustained period of damaging price declines, the April minutes showed. “Japan is now facing the risk of deflation, so it’s possible to further enhance coordination between fiscal and monetary policies,” one BOJ board member was quoted as saying.

Read more …

“The private sector is not involved in creating the money supply, that’s something the central bank does.”

Fed Chair: Keep Private Entities Out Of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CD)

Private entities aren’t needed to build central bank digital currencies, said the head of the U.S. central bank on Wednesday. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, speaking before the House Financial Services Committee, said the idea of a digital dollar – a blockchain-based version of the current world reserve currency – is complex, and one that the Fed takes seriously, but also that the idea needs to be studied further before one can be created and implemented. However, in response to a question from Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Powell said he believed private entities did not have a role in designing a digital dollar.

“I do think this is something that the central banks have to design,” he said. “The private sector is not involved in creating the money supply, that’s something the central bank does.” Emmer was asking specifically about a recommendation from the Digital Dollar Project, which was launched earlier this year by former Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, Chief Innovation Officer Daniel Gorfine and Accenture Director David Treat. The project suggested a digital dollar be issued by the Fed but designed in partnership with the private sector and accessible through a two-tiered banking system similar to the one in place in the U.S. today.

Powell said the general public may not be receptive to the idea of private employees being responsible for the money supply because they’re not accountable to “the public good.” Still, the idea is apparently being examined. A group of central banks have gotten together to discuss and better understand the concept as well as evaluate the implications on financial inclusion and concerns around cybersecurity, he said. “If this is something that is going to be good for the United States economy and for the world’s reserve currency, which is the dollar, then we need to be there and we need to understand it first and best,” Powell said. “So we’re working hard on it.”

Read more …

A guy I know said he was driving from Holland to Germany this week to pick up a car he bought, an 8-month old BMW at half the new price.

EU Car Sales Crash 57% In May As Europe Amid Inventory Glut (ZH)

New car sales in the EU plunged in May, falling 57% to 623,812, as Europe grapples with the same problem that the U.S. has had for weeks: a glut of inventory, despite re-opening some factories and re-starting production in certain areas. All 27 EU member states posted double digit declines in new car sales, with the U.K. falling an astounding 89%, according to MarketWatch. Production coming out of the EU remains “well blow” pre-crisis levels but the lack of demand continues to contribute to a growing inventory problem. This, in turn, has created a slowdown in an industry that’s already moving at a crawl to begin with. Jobs and profits are both threatened from the glut, in addition to the monumental threat they both still continue to face from the ongoing global pandemic.

Unsold cars on dealer lots are “at least 30% above normal” according to industry analysts, while unsold inventory in Germany alone was about $17 billion worth. Antje Woltermann, managing director of the ZDK industry group: “Unsold stocks are climbing, and on the other hand vehicles are not leaving the lots.” While Europe is struggling, many have looked to China, where sales were up 6% in May, for signs of optimism. For example, Stephan Wöllenstein, chief executive of Volkswagen Group China said: “The return of these kinds of figures is encouraging and gives us continued cautious optimism going forward.”

But those numbers don’t account for the recent second wave of lockdowns, including in Beijing, that China now faces. Countries like France and Germany continues to try and spur sales with government incentives, but Germany is focusing primarily on EVs while the glut is in traditional ICE cars. Recall, in May, we were ahead of the curve when we noted that European car registrations had plunged 76% in April. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the number of new cars sold fell from 1,143,046 to just 270,682 YOY in that month.

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Australia is but a lap dog.

The story changed overnight to name China as the main “suspect”. Of course what would be really suspect is if China DID NOT spy on Australia.

Australia Sees China As Main Suspect In State-based Cyberattacks (R.)

Australia views China as the chief suspect in a spate of cyber-attacks of increasing frequency in recent months, three sources familiar with the government’s thinking told Reuters on Friday. The comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a “sophisticated state-based actor” had spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure. “We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting,” Morrison told reporters in the capital, Canberra, but declined to say who Australia believed was responsible.


Three sources briefed on the matter said Australia believed China is responsible, however. “There is a high degree of confidence that China is behind the attacks,” one Australian government source told Reuters, seeking anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media. Australian intelligence has flagged similarities between the recent attacks and a cyber-attack on parliament and the three largest political parties in March 2019.Last year, Reuters reported that Australia had quietly concluded China was responsible for that cyber-attack. Australia has never publicly identified the source of that attack, however, and China denied it was responsible.

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Russiagate revisited.

Report Reveals CIA Incompetence To Blame For Vault 7 Breach (RT)

According to a just-released internal CIA report, “CCI had prioritized building cyber weapons at the expense of securing their own systems. Day-to-day security practices had become woefully lax.” “Most of our sensitive cyber weapons were not compartmented, users shared systems administrator-level passwords, there were no effective removable media controls, and historical data was available to users indefinitely,” the report goes on to say. The heavily-redacted document actually dates back to October 2017 and was only made public Tuesday by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), in an effort to pressure the new Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe into imposing new security measures. While the CIA ineptitude is the obvious takeaway, no one seems to have noticed the real bombshell: the timing of the breach and its implications.

The report says the CIA “did not realize the loss had occurred until a year later, when WikiLeaks publicly announced it in March 2017.” Now, what all was happening between March 2016 and a year later? You guessed it: Russiagate! Even as his own cyber arsenal was getting swiped from under his very nose, CIA chief John Brennan was obsessing about “Russian hackers” of the Democratic National Committee, or Hillary Clinton’s emails, or something – and pushing the bogus ‘Steele Dossier’ alleging Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia, which eventually made it into the infamous ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ that accused Moscow of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. It gets worse. According to the report, “Had the data been stolen for the benefit of a state adversary and not published, we might still be unaware of the loss—as would be true for the vast majority of data on Agency mission systems.”

So if the mythic bogeymen ‘Russian hackers’ had actually wanted to harm the US, they could have just used the CIA’s own, unprotected cyberweapons to stage false flags and wreak havoc across the world? None of which happened, obviously. Yet Brennan and his confederates have been telling everyone for years that the Kremlins wanted to “hack our democracy” by publishing some Democrat emails and posting memes on social media! [..] As for how Vault 7 got to WikiLeaks, the jury is still out on that. Joshua Schulte, the employee charged with leaking the files, is being prosecuted again after a hung jury at his first trial in March. His lawyers have argued the CIA security was so lax, anyone else on the team, or even outsiders, could have done it. The next time the media report some incendiary claim based on US intelligence “assessments,” try to keep all this in mind.

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How cann you be lonely when you have a TV set to keep you company?

Americans Are Unhappiest They’ve Been In Nearly 50 Years (Ind.)

Happiness among Americans has fallen to the lowest level in nearly five decades during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll. The Covid Response Tracking Study, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), found that morale was at the lowest point it has ever been since tracking emotional health trends began in 1972. The number of people who described themselves as very happy fell by 17 points to just 14 per cent in 2020. The previous record low – seen shortly after the 2007/8 Financial Crisis – was 29%. For the first time in 48 years, more people said they were unhappy than very happy. More than 60 per cent of Americans reported being “pretty happy”.


Interviews of the 2,279 US adults that took part in the survey took place between 21-29 May, while large parts of the country were under some form of lockdown designed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Feelings of loneliness have also increased as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, with half of all respondents saying they felt isolated either very often, often or sometimes. When asked the same question two years previously, less than a quarter of respondents said they experienced feelings of isolation.

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An alcoholic pet monkey…

Indian Primate Jailed For Life After Carnivorous Rampage (RT)

An alcoholic pet monkey has been locked up for good in Uttar Pradesh after a terror spree that left 250 people injured and one dead. Efforts to rehabilitate the animal were scrapped and zoo doctors affirm he’s a menace to society. The six-year-old monkey, named Kalua, received a life sentence of solitary confinement at India’s Kanpur Zoo this week after repeated attempts at normalizing his behavior left zookeepers and other monkeys much the worse for wear. Zoo doctor Mohd Nasir told local media the savage simian would harm people wherever he went if set free, explaining “he remains as aggressive as he was” when first brought to the zoo three years ago.

Kalua formerly belonged to an occultist in Mirzapur district, who fed him a diet of meat and copious alcohol. When his owner died, the grieving pet apparently went into withdrawal, becoming vicious and attacking locals. By the time forest and zoo teams succeeded in apprehending the aggressive creature, he had bitten over 250 people, including 30 children. One of his victims died of the injuries, while others – Kalua apparently has a thing for attacking women and girls – were left in need of plastic surgery. While the zookeepers had hoped to calm Kalua down, substituting a vegetarian diet for the human flesh he’d apparently come to rely on, they didn’t have much luck. The carnivorous creature has stayed hostile, especially toward female zookeepers, and plans to release him back into the wild a changed monkey have been shelved.

Kalua’s misbehavior predates the coronavirus outbreak, but he’s not the only monkey in Uttar Pradesh to make the news in recent weeks. A gang of monkeys attacked a lab technician in Meerut last month, stealing several blood samples taken from Covid-19 patients and running off with them in a scene that seemed lifted straight out of a Hollywood pandemic film.

Read more …

 

 

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https://twitter.com/bennyjohnson/status/1273395771912617984

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 132020
 


Gustave Doré Dream of the Eagle (Dante’s Purgatory) 1868

 

32 Yemen Doctors Die Of Coronavirus (MEM)
Italian Prosecutors Question PM Conte For 3 Hours Over Virus Response (R.)
June 12 COVID-19 Test Results (McBride)
CDC Warns Restrictions May Be Needed Again If US COVID-19 Cases Spike (R.)
Seattle Coronavirus Survivor Gets A $1.1 Million, 181-Page Hospital Bill (ST)
No Country for Old Men (Ben Hunt)
Churchill Statue Boarded Up Ahead Of Expected UK Protests On Saturday (R.)
Films Aiming To Win Oscars Will Need To Meet Diversity Criteria – Academy (R.)
The American Press Is Destroying Itself (Taibbi)
The Party of Chaos and Falsehood (Jim Kunstler)
Lawyer For Flynn Judge Says Court Will Eventually Dismiss The Case (JTN)
Judges Appear Skeptical Of DOJ Move To Dismiss Flynn Case (Fox)
Graham Granted Significant Subpoena Power For Russia Probe Investigation (JTN)
Some Claim Mayan Calendar Was Wrong, ‘World Will End On June 21’ (Mirror)

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 9 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 140,917. New record.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is + 141,854 cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 27,221
• Brazil + 25,982
• Russia + 8,706
• India + 11,320
• Pakistan + 6.472
• Chile + 6,754
• Mexico + 5,222

 

 

US coronavirus deaths

90 days ago: 58 deaths
80 days ago: 704 deaths
70 days ago: 7,152 deaths
60 days ago: 23,649 deaths
50 days ago: 49,887 deaths
40 days ago: 67,682 deaths
30 days ago: 84,118 deaths
20 days ago: 97,087 deaths
10 days ago: 106,180 deaths
Today: 116,831 deaths

 

 

Cases 7,763,875 (+ 141,854 from yesterday’s 7,622,021)

Deaths 428,734 (+ 4,409 from yesterday’s 424,325)

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

The number only becomes significant when you read that only 560 patients have been reported.

32 Yemen Doctors Die Of Coronavirus (MEM)

Some 32 doctors in Yemen have died as a result of the coronavirus, the Yemeni Physicians and Pharmacists Syndicate announced yesterday. Doctor Mohammed Ahmed Seif was the latest fatality, he died in the southern province of Taiz. “Seif is the 32nd martyr from coronavirus,” the syndicate said in a statement. By Wednesday, a total of 560 people were reported to have been infected by the virus, 129 of whom have died and 23 have recovered, according to official data. The data does not include the Houthi-controlled areas, which were reported to have registered a total of four infections and one fatality, though many fear the actual number is far higher.


On Monday, the United Nations (UN) said that the mortality rate from the virus in Yemen was “alarmingly increasing”, warning of what it described as a “deteriorating health system”. Since 2014, Yemen has been suffering from an ongoing war between pro-government forces and the Houthis, who have captured most of the north, including the capital, Sanaa.

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What’s the use of this? Is it not a case for Parliament instead?

Italian Prosecutors Question PM Conte For 3 Hours Over Virus Response (R.)

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was questioned by prosecutors on Friday about the country’s response to its coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 34,000 people. The prosecutors from Bergamo, one of the northern cities hit hardest by the pandemic, are looking into why badly affected small towns around the city were not locked down earlier in the outbreak, when infections were rising fast. Conte, who was questioned as a witness for three hours in his office in Rome and is not under criminal investigation, later told reporters via his spokesman: “I wanted to explain every stage to the smallest detail.” Prosecutors also questioned Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

In interviews with several Italian newspapers on Friday, Conte said he would tell prosecutors everything he knew and was not worried by the possibility he could be personally investigated. If that did happen, it would be likely to weaken an already fractious coalition government and add fuel to already frequent speculation that Conte may be pushed out despite his high personal approval ratings in opinion polls. Prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota said the meeting had taken place “in an atmosphere of great calm and institutional collaboration”. The region of Lombardy, which includes Bergamo, was the original epicentre of Italy’s virus outbreak and has remained by far the worst hit of its 20 regions, accounting for about half of its total deaths and most new infections.

The decision not to isolate Bergamo and the surrounding towns has been one of the most contentious episodes, with the central government and Lombardy’s regional authorities each saying the other was responsible. In Lombardy, which is led by the right-wing opposition League party, the Bergamo prosecutors have already interrogated the regional president and health chief. League leader Matteo Salvini was quick to seek political capital from Conte’s interrogation, tweeting that it was Rome’s decision not to set up a so-called “red zone” to seal off Bergamo and enforce it with the army and police. “Now we expect that Conte will at least apologise to the relatives and the friends of too many Bergamo citizens who have died,” he tweeted.

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US still not testing nearly enough. Like so many other countries. Without testing there’s no crushing the curve.

June 12 COVID-19 Test Results (McBride)

Note: I started posting this graph when the US was doing a few thousand tests per day. Clearly the US was way under testing early in the pandemic. I’ll continue posting this graph daily at least until the percent positive is continuously under 3% and the daily positive is significantly lower than today.


The US is now usually conducting over 400,000 tests per day, and that might be enough to allow test-and-trace in some areas. Based on the experience of other countries, the percent positive needs to be well under 5% to really push down new infections, so the US still needs to increase the number of tests per day significantly. According to Dr. Jha of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, the US might need more than 900,000 tests per day . There were 583,961 test results reported over the last 24 hours. This was a new high for the number of test results reported (some states might have had a data dump). The percent positive over the last 24 hours was 4.1% (red line).

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Except for protests.

What on earth will happen if a new lockdown is declared? Should have done the first one right.

CDC Warns Restrictions May Be Needed Again If US COVID-19 Cases Spike (R.)

U.S. health officials on Friday urged Americans to continue adhering to social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures, and warned that states may need to reimpose strict restrictions if COVID-19 cases spike. In recent weeks, experts have raised concerns that the reopening of the U.S. economy could lead to a fresh wave of infections. About half a dozen states, including Texas and Arizona, are grappling with a rising number of coronavirus patients filling hospital beds. Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the public should continue to maintain 6 feet of social distance, wash hands regularly and wear facial coverings to reduce the risk of infection.


“If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it is important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again,” said Jay Butler, the deputy director of infectious diseases at the CDC, who spoke to reporters along with CDC Director Robert Redfield. As the United States reopens its economy, a number of U.S. states, including Texas, Arizona and Florida, have relaxed social distancing guidelines in recent weeks. Many U.S. states also do not require residents to wear protective masks. Most Americans support stay-at-home orders and said they always or often wear face coverings in public , according to an online survey conducted early May of over 2,000 adults in New York City and Los Angeles. Most also said they would feel unsafe if restrictions were lifted.

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In the history books this will be known as: “How Medicare for All Got Started.”

Seattle Coronavirus Survivor Gets A $1.1 Million, 181-Page Hospital Bill (ST)

Remember Michael Flor, the longest-hospitalized COVID-19 patient who, when he unexpectedly did not die, was jokingly dubbed “the miracle child?” Now they can also call him the million-dollar baby. Flor, 70, who came so close to death in the spring that a night-shift nurse held a phone to his ear while his wife and kids said their final goodbyes, is recovering nicely these days at his home in West Seattle. But he says his heart almost failed a second time when he got the bill from his health care odyssey the other day. “I opened it and said ‘holy [bleep]!’ “ Flor says. The total tab for his bout with the coronavirus: $1.1 million. $1,122,501.04, to be exact. All in one bill that’s more like a book because it runs to 181 pages.

The bill is technically an explanation of charges, and because Flor has insurance including Medicare, he won’t have to pay the vast majority of it. In fact because he had COVID-19, and not a different disease, he might not have to pay anything — a quirk of this situation I’ll get to in a minute. But for now it’s got him and his family and friends marveling at the extreme expense, and bizarre economics, of American health care. Flor was in Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah with COVID-19 for 62 days, so he knew the bill would be a doozy. He was unconscious for much of his stay, but once near the beginning his wife Elisa Del Rosario remembers him waking up and saying: “You gotta get me out of here, we can’t afford this.”

Just the charge for his room in the intensive care unit was billed at $9,736 per day. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, the room was sealed and could only be entered by medical workers wearing plastic suits and headgear. For 42 days he was in this isolation chamber, for a total charged cost of $408,912. He also was on a mechanical ventilator for 29 days, with the use of the machine billed at $2,835 per day, for a total of $82,215. About a quarter of the bill is drug costs.

Read more …

For now, I’ll stick to the pandemic having become embedded, but not yet endemic.

Ben’s point is salient: if -when- COVID19 becomes endemic, other health care options must vanish, while premiums rise.

No Country for Old Men (Ben Hunt)

Connecticut is opening up a bit, so I’ve got an outpatient surgery scheduled at the big local hospital (specialty clinics are still closed) next Friday. I feel lucky to get on the calendar so soon. I also feel nervous. My dad was an ER doc. My brother is a healthcare lawyer. Again, these are things that have certainly made an impression on me. To be clear, my lack of healthcare options today and over the past 3 months isn’t because of the lockdown. That’s how a child would see this. My lack of healthcare options is because of the virus. In its acute phase, Covid-19 shuts down non-emergency healthcare provision entirely. In its endemic phase, Covid-19 forces enormous and costly changes in healthcare provision. There is no “v-shaped recovery” for medicine. Covid-19 is now in its endemic phase. The enormous and costly changes in healthcare provision that Covid-19 requires and the resulting impact on healthcare consumption lead me to three conclusions about the healthcare industry and national politics.

Conclusion #1: Endemic Covid-19 permanently dents healthcare provision (and consumption). The days of “efficient” (i.e., insanely lucrative) specialty medical clinics where docs go through 3 knee replacements or 10 lasik procedures in an afternoon are GONE.

Conclusion #2: Although both acute and endemic Covid-19 sharply reduce my healthcare options and healthcare consumption, my healthcare insurance costs have not gone down. They’ve gone up. Healthcare payers (insurance cos) are a public utility. They should be regulated as such. #BITFD

Conclusion #3: For the past 30 years, US fiscal policy has been largely driven by Boomers’ insatiable demand for more and more healthcare, to the advantage of both the Dems AND the GOP. Covid-19 destroys that cozy political dynamic, but neither party realizes this yet.

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I’m sure we can find a few very wrong things that the Queen is, or has been, invested in. Why stop here?

Churchill Statue Boarded Up Ahead Of Expected UK Protests On Saturday (R.)

Statues of historical figures including Winston Churchill have been boarded up ahead of more expected protests on Saturday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “shameful” that the monument to Britain’s wartime leader was at risk of attack. Anti-racism protesters, who have taken to the streets following the death of African American George Floyd, have put statues at the forefront of their challenge to Britain’s imperialist past. A statue of Edward Colston, who made a fortune in the 17th century from the slave trade, was torn down in the city of Bristol last Sunday, and authorities have acted to protect monuments they believe could be next.

They have now boarded up a statue opposite parliament of Churchill after demonstrators daubed it with paint last weekend. “It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protesters,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. On Friday, around 500 people gathered in Hyde Park chanting “the UK is not innocent” and “Black Lives Matter”, before marching through central London, with many saying that statues such as Colston’s were legitimate targets. “If we have these big images, and we’re telling people that these people and what they stood for is OK, we’re just allowing everything that they did to pass,” said student Samantha Halsall.

Meanwhile in Britain:

Read more …

Next up: the music scene. Imagine what they can do to country music.

Films Aiming To Win Oscars Will Need To Meet Diversity Criteria – Academy (R.)

The organization that hands out the Academy Awards said Friday it would form a group to develop diversity and inclusion guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet in order for their work to be eligible for Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has been criticized for honoring few movies and creators of color, said the move and other steps represented a new phase of a 5-year effort to promote diversity. The group said in a statement it would work with the Producers Guild of America to convene a task force of industry leaders to develop “representation and inclusion standards” for Oscars eligibility by July 31 that will “encourage equitable hiring practices on and off screen.”


The rules will not apply to films vying for Oscars at the next ceremony in 2021. Criticism of the movie academy intensified in 2015 with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, a backlash against an all-white field of acting contenders. The academy responded in part by doubling the number of women and people color in its invitation-only ranks. Still, by 2019 just 32% of its roughly 8,000 members were women, and 16% were people of color. New members will be announced next month. “We know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said. “The need to address this issue is urgent.”

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Good theme, pretty weak execution. The press has been destroying itself for years. Everything they say has become full-blown partisan.

The American Press Is Destroying Itself (Taibbi)

Probably the most disturbing story involved Intercept writer Lee Fang, one of a fast-shrinking number of young reporters actually skilled in investigative journalism. Fang’s work in the area of campaign finance especially has led to concrete impact, including a record fine to a conservative Super PAC: few young reporters have done more to combat corruption. Yet Fang found himself denounced online as a racist, then hauled before H.R. His crime? During protests, he tweeted this interview with an African-American man named Maximum Fr, who described having two cousins murdered in the East Oakland neighborhood where he grew up. Saying his aunt is still not over those killings, Max asked:

“I always question, why does a Black life matter only when a white man takes it?… Like, if a white man takes my life tonight, it’s going to be national news, but if a black man takes my life, it might not even be spoken of… It’s stuff just like that that I just want in the mix.”

Shortly after, a co-worker of Fang’s, Akela Lacy, wrote, “Tired of being made to deal continually with my co-worker @lhfang continuing to push black on black crime narratives after being repeatedly asked not to. This isn’t about me and him, it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness. I am so fucking tired.” She followed with, “Stop being racist Lee.” [..] If there’s an edge to Fang at all, it seems geared toward people in our business who grew up in affluent circumstances and might intellectualize topics that have personal meaning for him.

In the tweets that got him in trouble with Lacy and other co-workers, he questioned the logic of protesters attacking immigrant-owned businesses “with no connection to police brutality at all.” He also offered his opinion on Martin Luther King’s attitude toward violent protest (Fang’s take was that King did not support it; Lacy responded, “you know they killed him too right”). These are issues around which there is still considerable disagreement among self-described liberals, even among self-described leftists. Fang also commented, presciently as it turns out, that many reporters were “terrified of openly challenging the lefty conventional wisdom around riots.”

[..] Max himself was stunned to find out that his comments on all this had created a Twitter firestorm. “I couldn’t believe they were coming for the man’s job over something I said,” he recounts. “It was not Lee’s opinion. It was my opinion.” By phone, Max spoke of a responsibility he feels Black people have to speak out against all forms of violence, “precisely because we experience it the most.”

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Jim reintroduces Hillary as a candidate. But I think she is simply too unpopular.

The Party of Chaos and Falsehood (Jim Kunstler)

The Democratic Party Resistance apparently believes that all this mayhem, and the false sanctimony excusing it, works to their advantage in the coming national election. They may be disappointed about how that works out, as they’ve been disappointed in three years of previous gambits to overthrow the government and seize power by any means necessary. The picture of them is resolving into the party of bad faith, foul play, coercion, and tyranny. Even the corona virus scare carries a taint of Resistance manipulation. One moment the populace is hustled into an economically devastating lockdown; and then suddenly, on a fine spring day, they’re incited to mix in moiling mobs of street protests with the predictable result of a fresh spike in virus contagion and the possibility of a second lockdown.

Like many activities in our national life lately, it’s another hostage racket, and, guess what, you’re the hostage. Their most transparent artifice is the utterly false elevation of Joe Biden as their candidate for president. Everybody knows he’s incapable of performing the job, and probably even of functioning through a campaign. His inchoate utterances on events and policy make Donald Trump sound like Ralph Waldo Emerson. He’s left behind himself an evidence trail of financial crimes running to at least nine digits of grift. And, of course, if you believe all women, he’s a sexual molester. Everything about his public presentation is false, including his hair, teeth, and soul. This past week, his handlers posed him as Grief Counselor-in-Chief (via video from his basement) at the state funeral for George Floyd, accompanied by an inspirational music soundtrack to shore up the sham sentimentality.

Never have so many hollow platitudes been woven into such garment of alternative reality for public consumption. Most pathetically of all, the audience of mourners, mere props, as black America has long been employed by the cynical party, went along with the charade that George Floyd was a model citizen and father, now soaring on golden wings to the place on high where you don’t need methedrine and fentanyl to feel happy. A couple of days later, Democratic Party bigwig and Clinton henchperson, Terry McAuliffe, told a meeting of the faithful that Joe Biden should remain confined to his basement. In a matter of weeks, you may be sure, we’ll learn that the party is compelled to draft Hillary Clinton as poor Joe’s replacement. It can’t be helped. Her turn will not be denied, even if she has to destroy the country to take it.

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Everyone agrees and knows the case will be dismissed. But the “lead” judge says: “There’s nothing wrong with him holding a hearing; there’s no authority I know of that says he can’t hold a hearing,”

No wonder people think thiis all just to get this past the election. But I’m convinced Flynn and Sidney Powell have long seen this coming.

Lawyer For Flynn Judge Says Court Will Eventually Dismiss The Case (JTN)

A lawyer representing the judge overseeing the Michael Flynn trial suggested Friday that the court will eventually dismiss the case against the former Trump national security adviser, arguing that the judge’s decision to call in outside opinions on the matter was merely an issue of seeking advice before the probable dismissal. The lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, made the acknowledgement during a roughly two-hour federal appeals court hearing on whether the court should order a lower court to immediately dismiss the case, as was requested last month by the Justice Department, or allow the case to proceed through at least July.

“There’s no reason at this point to fear that the District Court is going to deny the government’s motion to dismiss,” she told the three-judge panel Friday morning, stating that the lower court is simply “getting advice” from third parties before likely doing so. It was unclear at the end of hearing, at about noon, when the panel of judges—Neomi Rao, Robert Wilkins and Karen Henderson—would make a decision. A ruling could come before the weekend but is expected to likely happen no sooner than Monday. Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Jeff Wall argued Friday in the virtual hearing that the federal government has gone “beyond what we thought we were obligated to do” in explaining its reasoning behind its dismissal request, and that Sullivan should honor that decision and drop the case rather than draw it out.

“There’s no reason not to take that final step. This has already become, and I think is only becoming more of, a public spectacle,” he said, arguing that the appeals court should force the lower court to end the trial. Sidney Powell, one of Flynn’s attorneys, made similar arguments, saying the Justice Department provided an “extensive and thoroughly documented” argument in favor of dropping the case and that Sullivan should obey the request and bring the prosecution to an immediate end. The trial “cannot go on any longer,” Powell argued, claiming that the judge overseeing the case “has no authority” to continue it after the executive branch requested it be dropped.

Failing to bring the trial to an end immediately, Powell said, would simply be “delaying the inevitable,” arguing that Sullivan will eventually be found to have exceeded his authority in this case. Yet the court at times appeared reluctant to quickly dismiss the case. Henderson pointed out that Sullivan has scheduled a hearing for July on the matter instead of electing to keep the trial “waiting and languishing.” “There’s nothing wrong with him holding a hearing; there’s no authority I know of that says he can’t hold a hearing,” she said.

Read more …

TEXT

Judges Appear Skeptical Of DOJ Move To Dismiss Flynn Case (Fox)

Judges on a D.C. appeals court Friday seemed skeptical of arguments that they should force a federal judge to dismiss a case against President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as sought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) – after Flynn’s lawyer said the case was “concocted” and slammed previous “government misconduct” against him. The unusual move from Judge Emmet Sullivan to keep the case alive despite prosecutors’ wishes was preceded by an unusual move from the DOJ itself to drop the charges against Flynn even after he had pleaded guilty – saying the FBI interview that led to his charge of lying to investigators had no “legitimate investigative basis.”

But the long-running case continues to drag on. The latest twist involved the higher D.C. appeals court panel agreeing to review the handling of the matter. After Sullivan moved to accept input from outside parties, he was called to defend his own decisionmaking before the panel in response to a petition from Flynn to force the judge to let the case die. At issue is the discretion of the judiciary to delay, deny or question the prosecution’s decision to continue pursuing a criminal case. “This record contains enormous evidence now of government misconduct,” Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell said. She added that she believes Sullivan doesn’t have the authority to do anything but approve the DOJ motion, and that continuing the case would be an unnecessary burden on Flynn.

“We would simply be delaying the inevitable,” Powell said. “He just got dumped on a 72-page brief that we have to answer by Wednesday … the toll it takes on a defendant to go through this is absolutely enormous.” “The government’s just wasting resources out the wazoo,” she said. Powell also complimented the government’s claim that the case against Flynn was flawed: “This is the most impressive motion to dismiss I have ever seen in decades of practice.” [..] For his part, government lawyer Jeff Wall told the judges that it is the government’s position that it does not need to tell the court all of the reasons why it wants to dismiss a case — just those it chooses to disclose.

Read more …

“..the president’s attack on the Russia investigation..”?

The 3-year $40 million investigation ended in utter and complete disgrace for Robert Mueller and the people who appointed him, and now you’re saying none of this should be looked into?

Graham Granted Significant Subpoena Power For Russia Probe Investigation (JTN)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Thursday was granted broad subpoena power in his probe into the federal government’s 2016 Russia-Trump campaign probe, allowing him call more than 50 people for interviews, including high-profile Obama administration officials. Graham received the authorization in a party-line vote in the GOP-controlled committee. “I find myself in a position where I think we need to look long and hard about how the Mueller investigation got off the rails. This committee is not going to sit on the sidelines and move on,” said Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

The committee is currently conducting a broad investigation into the 2016 Russia probe, including “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was the FBI’s name for their investigation into Russian election interference by way of the Trump campaign. The FBI’s actions during that operation gave way to what is broadly referred to as the (now mostly debunked) Russia-collusion narrative. With Thursday’s vote, Graham now has the authority to subpoena former intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The committee chairman has also been granted the authority to subpoena documents and records reference in Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report assessing the use of FISA warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Tensions ran high during the committee meeting in which member voted on the subpoenas. To issue a subpoena, the committee chairman needs to either strike a deal with the top Democrat – now California Sen. Dianne Feinstein – or secure a majority vote by the committee. Republicans hold a 12-10 majority, so they were able to grant Graham unilateral subpoena power, rejecting several amendments by the Democrats.

“Unfortunately, it appears that Senate Republicans now plan to spend the next several months bolstering the president’s attack on the Russia investigation and his Democratic nominee, Democrat Joe Biden. Congress should not conduct politically motivated investigations designed to attack or help any presidential candidate,” Feinstein said.

Read more …

Compared to actual news these days, even this is light reading.

Some Claim Mayan Calendar Was Wrong, ‘World Will End On June 21’ (Mirror)

From the coronavirus pandemic to an influx of terrifying murder hornets, 2020 has thrown a number of tricky obstacles in humanity’s way. But the worst is yet to come, according to conspiracy theorists, who claim that the world will end next week. The bizarre theory is based on the fact that when the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, 11 days were lost from the year, to better reflect the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun. While 11 days might not sound a lot, over 286 years it adds up, with some conspiracy theorists claiming we ‘should be in 2012.’ In a now-deleted Twitter post, scientist Paolo Tagaloguin said: “Following the Julian Calendar, we are technically in 2012.


“The number of days lost in a year due to the shift into Gregorian Calendar is 11 days. For 268 years using the Gregorian Calendar (1752-2020) times 11 days = 2,948 days. 2,948 days / 365 days (per year) = 8 years”. According to this theory, June 21 2020 should actually be December 21, 2012. If you cast your mind back to 2012, you may remember various theories, indicating the world would end on December 21. NASA said: “The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 – hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.”

Read more …

 

 

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https://twitter.com/i/status/1271121354226642948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 312020
 


Monastiraki Square deserted due to lockdown, Athens, Greece 2020

 

Well, actually, there is no Automatic Earth in Athens right now. But we’re working on it. And I have had a hard time finishing articles recently for some reason. It may be because it’s virustime, and it’s certainly because of the lockdown. People are social animals, and I am no exception. Living alone and working alone makes it more extreme.

Not that I have changed my mind on lockdowns; they are the only option to tame the virus under the circumstances. Still, a lockdown must be executed properly, to make it “as close to impossible as possible” for the virus to jump to new hosts, and that has only been done in very few places, either because politicians and “experts” don’t understand how and why, or they find it too inconvenient. But enough about that for the moment, even as today’s new global cases top 130,000 in yet another new record.

 

In mid-December I went from Athens to Holland, where I still rent a small apartment though I’ve been spending most of my time in Athens. I thought I’d stay a few months in the Lowlands, do some of the everyday -or every year- stuff that needs doing, taxes, medical things etc., and return to Athens in spring.

I had a ticket back to Athens from Holland on April 1, which I had bought early February, when things still seemed somewhat normal. But as the date approached, of course, we moved ever further away from normal. If I had booked a few weeks earlier, things might have worked out, but Greece implemented a very strict lockdown, so it wouldn’t have been much fun.

I could change the ticket for free until two weeks before departure, after which the cost for changing it would be close to the original ticket price. So I changed it. By then, there was a two-week mandatory full quarantine in place for new arrivals in Greece. Not very tempting, but more importantly I was thinking I didn’t want to become a burden on the Greek healthcare system.

Which according to some has shrunk by 75% (imagine that) due to EU-mandated austerity. I was thinking the odds of Greece and the Greek system being overwhelmed were much higher than that it would happen in Holland. Boy, was I wrong. The irony is that it is exactly this that made Greece adopt the strict lockdown measures it did, as early as it did, and faring so much better because of it.

For 2 months, until 2 weeks ago, everyone who was out in the street had to carry a piece of paper detailing why they were out (try that in the US!). The only valid reasons to be out were shopping for food or medicine. All stores other than supermarkets and pharmacies were closed anyway. Greece was early and strict. They didn’t feel they had a choice.

And even if so much of the healthcare system has been bulldozed, the core is still very strong, that is a major factor. The professionals (experts) running the system and advising the government are of a very high caliber, which is more than one can say of many other countries.

 

 

 

 

In Holland, it’s been a very different story. It was late to the game, and when it did decide on a lockdown, it called it an “intelligent” lockdown. Like Dutch people are smarter than others. Which, of course, people like to hear. Most stores have remained open (though not public transport), there was no mass testing, only people with obvious symptoms were tested, and the Dutch version of the CDC still maintains today that face masks don’t actually work (i.e. we are more intelligent than 4.5 billion Asians).

Like in many other countries, the lack of testing and masks really only had one reason behind it, and it wasn’t that they would not work, or that anyone believed they didn’t, it was that they didn’t have any. And then when a government says they’re not needed, the pace at which they are purchased abroad or can be produced domestically slows down too, even with all the high tech industries in the country. That way you sort of boil in your own fat.

We’re 5 months into the pandemic, and only now can one get tested without already being on the verge of death [Update May 31: still no test available without symptoms, asymptomatic carriers be damned. Should I fake symptoms?]. And only now are masks obligatory in public transport. This means the virus has become pretty much embedded, though perhaps not yet endemic, in the population.

It’s a giant gamble with the lives of your citizens when you try to hide your failure to acquire the necessary tools and implement the needed procedures, behind stories about how well “we” are really doing. The kind of gamble that politicians should at the very least by forced to quit for, but that is not going to happen.

But, more irony, they’re real popular. People buy the narrative that “this is the best we could have done”, and hang on to their lips every day for a shred of good news. That happens in many countries, of course, and, yes, it has a function: if you want to do a lockdown, above all you need a sense of unity. That it is used to hide lies and failures is almost an afterthought.

I don’t try to point out to people here -the few I see- anymore that their government has done a terrible job; they all watch the same news, and they’ve all bought the same “we’re in this together” kool-aid. Which, again, does serve a purpose, but it’s also very false. Here are the latest numbers from Worldometer:


Holland:
17.3 million people,
46,257 cases of COVID19, and
5,951 deaths.


Greece:
10.7 million people,
2,915 cases and
175 deaths.

I don’t even have to do the percentages, do I? The “successful” and “intelligent” Holland not only, 5 months in, still has an “official” worse “deaths per million population” rate than the US(!), the Dutch numbers also invariably come with the official addition that “real” numbers of both cases and deaths are much higher due to the lack of testing.

Almost as if they’re proud of it. As if it’s a waste of time to try and keep track of how and where the virus is spreading in your society, something you won’t ever know if you only test and count people who are already in hospital or dead.

 

High time for a more uplifting story. In early March, as Greece lockdown measures took hold one by one, almost all of the social kitchens were quickly shut down. But not the people the Automatic Earth has been supporting for 5 years running with your kind help. “Our” crew changed strategy as cooking in the street was no longer an option, and started preparing meals in a central place, only to drive down and hand them out fully ready in the familiar places near Monastiraki square and the Piraeus port.

And because so many other social kitchens had closed and the homeless still needed to eat (always the first to bear the brunt, no exception this time), they made -and make- a lot more meals as well than they were used to doing, and worked 4 days instead of 2, preparing some 700 meals every week.

It’s not just many more meals, but every meal takes much more time and energy to prepare than usual; each has to be packaged separately, because of course fears were that the homeless would be most susceptible to the virus. In short, they’ve all been working their behinds off. Everyone talks about heroes, and these people are mine. Let me show you with a few pictures:

Here’s Monastiraki square, deserted (with the Acropolis on top of the mountain):

 

 

Some of the crew preparing meals in the central place:

 

 

And posing (that’s Tassos doing his finest Greek Zorro):

 

 

Then there’s of course -some of- Da Boyz:

 

 

The usual hot meal in the big pot:

 

 

But lots of other things too, all individually wrapped:

 

 

Which then end up in these crates before they’re loaded into cars to be distributed.

 

 

I love this picture, these are some of the things served on Greek Easter, April 19, because the homeless, too, should celebrate:

 

 

And then the packages are handed to the people in central Athens:

 

 

And at the port of Piraeus:

 

 

Greece, like other countries, is slowly easing its lockdown, first the stores opened, last week it was terraces at bars and restaurants, and next week it will be the inside of these places too.

“The Crew” is not yet back to cooking in the streets, that will take a bit more time. I’ve been keeping in close touch with them, and it’s high time to replenish the supermarket “checks” I last arranged for in December. First thing I’ll do when I get there. Been offering it all the time, a bank transfer might have worked, but so far they manage.

Air traffic is resuming as well, bit by bit. When I changed my ticket in mid-March, I had no idea what would be realistic, and picked June 16 “out of a hat”. Not a bad guess, it turns out. June 16 became 17, and 2 days ago the Greeks said Holland is a risk country, so no flights before July, but this morning they changed that again, to mandatory testing at the airport followed by a night in a designated hotel; it now looks as if this might actually happen. Then again, 17 days is an eternity in virustime of course.

And in the process I’ll get tested, something I can’t get done in Holland. I’ve been holed up in an area of Holland with very few infections, but I’ll still have to do the train-airport-plane routine to get to Athens, all places where the danger of being infected is -relatively- high. Holland is a country the size of a postage stamp, and it still today averages more new cases than Greece has had total deaths.

 

As always when I write about the Automatic Earth in Athens project, I ask you to support it. There are still a few hundred dollars left, but I want to buy at least €1000 worth of supermarket checks, so the crew can fill their by now empty pantries and cupboards and do something extra for the clients, who haven’t had an easy time.

The way it goes is simple and identical to how we’ve always done this: you can donate through our Paypal widget at the top left corner of the site. Any donations that end in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the crew, other amounts go to the Automatic Earth, which also badly needs support, and which you can of course also support via Patreon, see top right corner of the site.

I am honored and proud to be associated with these people, and proud of the bonds we have forged since 2015, and I think you should be too. Together, we support the most vulnerable people, homeless and refugees, in a city still overflowing with vulnerable people (with many more added because of the virus), and we do it through a crew that doesn’t cease to amaze with their selflessness.

I don’t remember if I ever mentioned this, but a few years ago I was talking to a guy who did a project on Lesbos, maybe still does, and we were saying: many years from now, when looking back on your life, what will you be most proud of? We both concluded that this would certainly among the top in the list: supporting the weakest members of society. But I can’t do it without your help, which has been amazing all this time, and which I hope will continue in the same way that I am determined to continue to support this wonderful little shimmer of light.

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the interaction.

Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 182020
 


Jack Delano Myrtle Beach, S.C. Air Service Command Technical Sergeant Choken 1943

 

Ardern Becomes New Zealand’s Most Popular PM In A Century (R.)
116 Countries Back Australia’s Push For Independent Corona Inquiry (SBS.au)
Start ‘Travel Bubbles’ For Low-Risk Countries, Heathrow Urges UK Govt (R.)
Profiting from Coronavirus (Craig Murray)
US Mulls Paying Companies, Tax Breaks To Pull Supply Chains From China (R.)
Cuomo Says No One Should Be Prosecuted For Coronavirus Deaths In New York (CBS)
Pelosi Sees Negotiations On New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Legislation (R.)
Senator Rubio Calls For Fast Action To Extend US Payroll Protection Program (R.)
Los Angeles Tells Everyone To Wear Face Masks At All Times While Outdoors (JTN)
EU’s Vestager: Discrepancy In Coronavirus State Aid Distorts Single Market (R.)
Australia Bankers Hope They’ll Avoid A Bad Debt Tsunami (AFR)

 

 

• US records 857 new #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Yesterday: 1,277
• The latest toll, marked at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday), is the lowest since 776 daily deaths were recorded May 10, but the count ranged as high as 1,894 in subsequent days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 4,820,347 (+ 77,166 from yesterday’s 4,743,181)

Deaths 316,967 (+ 3,264 from yesterday’s 313,703)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Say your child sees the Lord of the Rings films and wants to visit New Zealand. What do you think are the odds they’ll be allowed entry any time soon?

Ardern Becomes New Zealand’s Most Popular PM In A Century (R.)


Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in a century, a Newshub-Reid Research poll showed on Monday, thanks to her COVID-19 response that made the country among the most successful in curbing the spread of the disease. The first public poll since the coronavirus crisis took hold showed popularity for Ardern’s Labour jumped 14 points to 56.5% – the highest for any party ever. Conversely, the biggest party in parliament – the Nationals, slumped to 30.6%, after sliding by 12.7 points. The poll was conducted between May 8 and May 16, with half of the responses taken after the federal budget on Thursday. As preferred PM, Ardern was at 59.5%, up 20.8 points on the last poll and the highest score for any leader in the Reid Research poll’s history.


The poll took into account public sentiment in the final days of the country’s strict level three lockdown, which also got massive support with almost 92% respondents saying it was the right call. The Pacific nation was locked down for more than a month under “level 4” restrictions that were eased by a notch in late April. It has continued to enforce strict social measures on many of its citizens and businesses, helping prevent widespread community spread of the virus. Businesses in the country including malls, cinemas, cafes and gyms reopened last Thursday. (May 14) Ardern’s stratospheric rise to become the country’s youngest prime minister and third woman to hold the office resulted in New Zealanders coining the phrase “Jacinda-mania.” The rate of new cases have slowed dramatically in New Zealand in recent weeks. The virus has so far infected 1,499 people in New Zealand and killed 21.

Read more …

China says it’s premature to start now because the pandemic is not over. What?

116 Countries Back Australia’s Push For Independent Corona Inquiry (SBS.au)

110 countries have backed Australia’s push for an independent coronavirus inquiry which has caused a damaging rift with China. The African Group’s 54 member states will co-sponsor the motion, joining 62 other countries including Russia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Britain and Canada. The European Union’s 27 members are all on board, along with Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and New Zealand. Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Monday said it was encouraging to see so many countries backing the inquiry. “I think what it illustrates is a broad view that given the experience of COVID-19 – over 300,000 deaths, millions of people around the world losing their jobs, the impact on economies from one corner of the globe to the other – that there is a strong view that it is appropriate to engage in a review of what has happened.


“I don’t want to preempt speculate about the outcome, those discussions will be under way later this evening. I think it’s a win for the international community.” The draft resolution calls for impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic. It doesn’t mention China, but Australia’s push for the inquiry has angered Beijing, which has threatened a huge tariff on barley and blocked some beef imports. Health Minister Greg Hunt will represent Australia at the virtual World Health Assembly meeting on Monday night. A vote is expected in the early hours of Tuesday.

Read more …

One little problem: the UK itself is not a low risk country.

Start ‘Travel Bubbles’ For Low-Risk Countries, Heathrow Urges UK Govt (R.)

Britain should set up “travel bubbles” with low-risk countries to allow the movement of people, instead of bringing in new coronavirus quarantine rules when flights restart, according to Heathrow Airport. British government ministers have said they plan a 14-day quarantine for most people arriving in the country in the coming weeks to try to prevent a second peak of the pandemic. Airlines have warned the policy will throttle hopes for a travel recovery. Heathrow Airport, which before the novel coronavirus grounded planes was the busiest in Europe, said that it had been working with the UK government’s Department for Transport on proposals to allow some unrestricted travel.


“The proposal would create ‘travel corridors’ or ‘travel bubbles’ allowing free movement between countries or cities that are very low-risk, but potentially blocking flights from high-risk markets to safeguard public health,” the airport said in a statement. Such a set-up would be much less damaging to the economy than the quarantine policy, said Heathrow. The boss of Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers, said on Monday that the 14-day policy was unimplementable and unpoliceable and would be ignored by people wanting to travel. The government is yet to provide further details of the quarantine policy. Culture minister Oliver Dowden said earlier on Monday that Britain was still in talks with France over whether to exempt travellers from across the Channel.

Read more …

You can’t go through years of Russiagate and Syria bombings and expect countries to work together. And western Pharma sees huge profits anyway; that’s society’s model after all.

Profiting from Coronavirus (Craig Murray)

On 5 May, the British security services released to their pet media the claim that Russia, China and Iran were attempting to hack into British research institutes conducting coronavirus research. The BBC reported it. Britain’s shameful copy and paste media all, without exception, just copy and pasted the government press release. The Guardian gave the quote: “Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis is utterly reprehensible. We have seen an increased proportion of cyber-attacks related to coronavirus and our experts work around the clock to help organisations targeted”.

If Britain had one single mainstream media journalist willing to think, rather than just regurgitate government propaganda, they might have realised that there is a massive story here if you look at it the other way round. The quote from the Guardian deliberately attempted to give the impression that Russia, China and Iran were trying to disable, destroy or hamper coronavirus research: “Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus”. But if you read carefully through those articles, you find that the allegation is merely that they are attempting hack in to gain access to the research. Because the UK and the US are attempting to hide their vaccine and treatment research results from the rest of the world to make money out of them.

Much has been written about the possibility for a new and better kind of world to emerge after coronavirus. Yet our governments cannot conceive of any model for fighting this threat to the whole world, other than the capitalist, money-making model. The much-touted “race to develop a vaccine” is not a race to save lives. It is a race to make billions. The United States and the United Kingdom are working in all international fora to head off efforts to pool global research and to make any vaccine or medicine a good for the world. Governments can reward those working on the vaccine, and the companies for providing the facilities, using economic models other than the patent and the potential for massive profit.

It may come as a shock to you to realise that at the moment all those lovely vaccine and medicine researchers you see being interviewed on TV about their efforts to compress trials and approvals and get the product to the marketplace, are not sharing their results with fellow researchers around the world. They are rather jealously guarding them and each working in a bubble hoping to be the first in order to cash in. It is certainly true that many of the researchers themselves do not like this, but are controlled by their bosses.

For me, the failure to set up a worldwide shared scientific database on all coronavirus vaccine and medicine research, and the failure to set up a prior agreement on free manufacture worldwide of effective resulting vaccines and treatments, is the most revealing fact about the entire coronavirus episode. The fact that the British government is putting massive resources into ensuring the Chinese or Russians cannot “steal” our research – and doubtless the Chinese and Russians are doing the same, all states are hypocrites in these matters – should sicken everybody.

Read more …

More incentive for collective action on vaccines.

US Mulls Paying Companies, Tax Breaks To Pull Supply Chains From China (R.)

U.S. lawmakers and officials are crafting proposals to push American companies to move operations or key suppliers out of China that include tax breaks, new rules, and carefully structured subsidies. Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress show widespread discussions underway – including the idea of a “reshoring fund” originally stocked with $25 billion – to encourage U.S. companies to drastically revamp their relationship with China. President Donald Trump has long pledged to bring manufacturing back from overseas, but the recent spread of the coronavirus and related concerns about U.S. medical and food supply chains dependency on China are “turbocharging” new enthusiasm for the idea in the White House.


On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order (here) that gave a U.S. overseas investment agency new powers to help manufacturers in the United States. The goal, Trump said, is to “produce everything America needs for ourselves and then export to the world, and that includes medicines.” But the Trump administration itself remains divided over how best to proceed, and the issue is unlikely to be addressed in the next fiscal stimulus to offset the coronavirus downturn. Congress has begun work on another fiscal stimulus package but it remains unclear when it might pass. The push takes on special resonance in an election year. While anti-China, pro-American job proposals could play well with voters, giving taxpayer money or tax breaks to companies that moved supply chains to China at a time when small business is flailing may not.

Read more …

Now Cuomo starts arguing that “all those old people would have died anyway”. Afraid he’ll be blamed?

Cuomo Says No One Should Be Prosecuted For Coronavirus Deaths In New York (CBS)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday addressed the state’s early response to the coronavirus outbreak and said “nobody” should be prosecuted for the those who died, noting that “older people” were most vulnerable. The governor has been criticized for a decision in March, which has since been reversed, to send patients back to nursing homes after they tested positive for COVID-19. More than 4,800 people died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in the state between March 1 and May 1, according to a tally released by the Cuomo administration on May 1. Cuomo has called nursing homes a “feeding frenzy” for the coronavirus. “Despite whatever you do, because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive,” Cuomo said.

The number of deaths in New York state dropped again Saturday to 139 people. When asked about the nursing home deaths, Cuomo noted the 139 people who died on Saturday and asked who is accountable for everyone who died. “How do we get justice for those families of those 139 deaths?” Cuomo said. “Who can we prosecute for those 139 deaths? Nobody. Mother Nature, God, where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus, that is the truth.” When pressed further about how some people thought their loved ones would be safe because of Matilda’s Law, Cuomo continued to stress the point that older and more vulnerable people were “always going to die from this virus.”

He said when talking who is accountable for deaths, the most important thing was to make sure “you can have a situation where everyone did the right thing and everyone tried their best.” Cuomo said his top priority was making sure the medical system did not get overwhelmed, calling that a “accountable, avoidable situation.” “That’s what we protected against and we did it successfully,” Cuomo said. Cuomo pushed for all New Yorkers who have symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. He said New York is now conducting 40,000 tests per day at 700 testing sites. “If you think you have symptoms, get a test. It’s up to you,” he said. “We just don’t have enough New Yorkers coming to be tested.”

Read more …

The GOP will negotiate to make sure its sponsors get a “fair” chunk of the loot. And that’ll be all she wrote.

Pelosi Sees Negotiations On New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Legislation (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday there will be negotiations on the new $3 trillion coronavirus relief legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and that Democrats have “no red lines.” Asked if there has been a Republican response or counteroffer to begin negotiations on the bill passed late on Friday, Pelosi said, “No bill that is proffered will become law without negotiations, so, yeah.” The Democrats’ measure, passed late on Friday, was likely to trigger new talks with congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump’s administration, who have been talking about the need for new business liability protections in the age of coronavirus, or additional tax cuts.


Democrats oppose both of those ideas. Pelosi, however, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Democrats had “no red lines.” Republican leaders have dismissed the bill, which Trump said he would veto, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling it “dead on arrival.” Some Republicans have said a new relief package could wait until the effects of funding in previous bills are felt, but Pelosi urged a quick resolution to help jobless Americans. More than 36 million people – or more than one in five workers – in the United States have filed for unemployment since the crisis began. “Time is of the essence,” Pelosi said. “In the past bills, they’ve put forth their proposal and then we worked in a bipartisan way. That’s what we all anticipate.”

Read more …

Just as misguided as Pelosi.

Senator Rubio Calls For Fast Action To Extend US Payroll Protection Program (R.)

The United States needs to quickly revise its coronavirus aid program for small businesses to extend the eight-week period in which the law currently requires companies to spend the money, a key U.S. senator said on Sunday. The Paycheck Protection Program established by Congress in late March was aimed at helping businesses keep making payroll for eight weeks, despite orders to shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. The eight-week period may be applied to any time frame from mid-February up to June 30. But with many businesses that received loans under the $660 billion PPP program moving toward the end of their eight-week period, Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican chairman of the Senate’s small business committee, said lawmakers need to move fast to extend it.


“The legislative fix needed to #PPP is extending beyond 8 weeks the time period a #SmallBusiness has to spend the funds on payroll. We are hoping to move quickly on this before the first wave of #PPP loan recipients reach the 8 week point,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. While most states have begun to reopen their economies at least in part, some 36 million Americans — one in five in the workforce — have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. Rubio’s Republican party has the majority in the Senate. But the top Democrat on the small business committee, Senator Ben Cardin, has also expressed support for re-examining the eight-week period in the small business program. “I strongly support extending it,” another Senate Democrat, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a member of the banking committee, said in a phone interview Sunday. “There’s a real mismatch between that date and the real world situation that many small businesses are facing.

Read more …

How about only when around people?

Los Angeles Tells Everyone To Wear Face Masks At All Times While Outdoors (JTN)

Los Angeles is requiring essentially everybody in the city wear a face covering at all times whenever outdoors, a policy Mayor Eric Garcetti says will help the local economy reopen faster. Garcetti announced the order on Wednesday evening, telling city residents: “Bring your mask with you whenever you leave your home.” Children under 2, as well as a limited number of individuals with disabilities, are exempt from the order, the mayor’s office said in a press release. “Face coverings help stop the spread of the virus,” Garcetti, a Democrat, said in the release. “Wearing them whenever we’re away from home will create a meaningful layer of protection for people we might come into contact with, and that makes sense at this stage of our response to the crisis.”


The order came shortly after Garcetti said that the city will “never be completely open” until scientists discover a cure for coronavirus. The mayor at the time was partially walking back comments made earlier in the day by Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who said Tuesday that the city’s stay-at-home order would be extended “with all certainty” for the next three months.

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Complete nonsense: “Ensuring a competitive level playing field within its cherished single market of some 450 million people is a central EU tenet”..

Self-contradicting: “..concern about the “huge differences” in coronavirus state aid among member states, saying they were starting to distort the bloc’s single market.”

vs

“..Germany’s extensive bailouts of coronavirus-hit companies could have a ripple effect across the bloc and work as a locomotive for Europe..”

EU’s Vestager: Discrepancy In Coronavirus State Aid Distorts Single Market (R.)

The European Union’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager has expressed concern about the “huge differences” in coronavirus state aid among member states, saying they were starting to distort the bloc’s single market. Germany accounts for more than half of the emergency coronavirus state aid approved by the EU executive, prompting concerns that countries with the deepest pockets might be getting an unfair advantage in the bloc’s single market. In an interview with German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Vestager said there was a risk that the different levels of state aid among member states would distort competition and slow the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“And this has already happened to a certain extent”, Vestager said, according to a pre-released extract of the interview that the newspaper will publish in its Monday edition. Ensuring a competitive level playing field within its cherished single market of some 450 million people is a central EU tenet and has long been a key condition for opening up to foreign players from China to, more recently, Brexit Britain. But the executive European Commission suspended the normally-strict state aid restrictions in mid-March, allowing the 27 EU states to pump cash into their economies and companies battered by coronavirus, with more than 1.9 trillion euros worth of national schemes approved so far.

Earlier this month, Vestager said that Germany’s extensive bailouts of coronavirus-hit companies could have a ripple effect across the bloc and work as a locomotive for Europe. Asked about an EU recovery plan expected to be announced on May 27, Vestager said there were no guarantees that it would be sufficient but said officials were trying to do their best.

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It’s not the virus, it’s the housing bubble that’ll decide this.

Australia Bankers Hope They’ll Avoid A Bad Debt Tsunami (AFR)

On the face of it, the stats look abysmal. There are 7.7 million Australian workers on some form of government welfare. Repayments have been frozen on 10 per cent of mortgages and 15 per cent of SME loans. Bankers have been left with about $220 billion in loans that aren’t being serviced. Little wonder then that some analysts are querying whether the $5 billion that the big four banks have set aside to cover the losses they’ll sustain from the economic collapse triggered by the pandemic will be sufficient. Now, bankers continue to emphasise that they won’t know the extent of their problem loans for another month, when they start contacting the home owners and small business owners who opted to defer their loan repayments.


But at this stage, bankers appear quietly optimistic that the rise in their soured loans this time around are unlikely to be anywhere near as serious as the hit they took from the 1990s recession, or even the losses they sustained during the global financial crisis. There are two reasons for this confidence. In the first place, the latest downturn has been very uneven across the economy. Workers in the services sector – particularly hospitality, accommodation, food services and retail trade – have suffered far more than, say, those employed in the finance or government sectors. But because the jobs in these sectors tend to be lower paid, with a higher proportion of younger employees working casual hours, those working in these sectors tend not to meet the income requirements for a home loan borrower.

Read more …

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Note: Navarro says in this clip that remdesivir has been saving many lives. But we know it has no such effect. It shortens hospital stays at best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 042020
 


Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) with mini gloves, Louisville, KY 1963

 

 

There was another comment at the Automatic Earth yesterday questioning the function and wisdom of various lockdowns. I thought I’d explain this in more detail.

 

Ilargi if you or anyone else could explain what the exit strategy is from a lockdown I’d be interested in hearing it. As it is, this lockdown I repeat is no different than financial QE – everyone comes out weaker than they were before treatment. Financial QE covers up her problem just like lockdown does, but makes it worse in the long run. The only exit strategy I can see is to keep lockdown until a vaccine or effective treatment, neither of which are on the horizon.


If you are arguing that even healthy economies can survive indefinite closure, with intermittent re-openings I don’t know what to tell you. The suggestion is made that Sweden has a huge vested interest in understating fatalities. It is also certainly true that the rest of the world has an even greater vested interest in criticizing the Swedish approach because it demonstrates how useless the total lockdowns are. BTW the reported differences in fatalities between Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia are not statistically significant. Playing with numbers and not understanding how things may not be as they seem.

 

First, let’s re-establish that no lockdown would have been needed if and when politicians and scientists had done what’s in their job descriptions. That does not mean that no lockdown was called for once they did fail. Indeed, it’s the failure to act at the very beginning, say January 31, when the WHO sent out its first warning, that made lockdowns inevitable.

I don’t say that to exonerate the WHO in any way, because it subsequently, for weeks on end, kowtowed to China’s refusal to allow its teams entry into the country, and followed that up by waiting and hesitating another full 6(!) weeks, until March 11, to declare a pandemic.

Second, a lockdown and the way it’s executed are not the same thing. The decisions to lock down their societies may be the only thing(s) the Little Manager politicians have gotten right, but they still did get it right. And sorry, but you cannot use their ginormous failures made both before and during the lockdowns, to argue that the lockdowns themselves are a failure. These are separate issues, don’t let’s get them mixed up.

Lockdowns in and of themselves, when properly executed, cannot NOT work, simply because of the way viruses spread. Yes, we need to know exactly how they do, but not knowing this in the present case is exactly why we need a lockdown, why we need to keep people, who are all potential hosts AND spreaders, away from each other. Until we know precisely how the virus spreads and/or until we know that the people involved are not virus carriers.

Terms such as “indefinite closure” don’t come from me, so please have the courtesy not to suggest I want one. Questioning the principle of a lockdown is not terribly helpful or smart, and neither is suggesting that Sweden is doing well. If only because such questions and suggestions, if you follow their “logic”, seek to deny the very way viruses spread, if not the existence of a virus in the first place.

Which is one of the few things we do know about COVID19: we know it exists and we know it spreads. We may get distances – between people- and timing – of various stages of infection- wrong, but the principle stands.

 

The lockdown is useful, make that inevitable, because it prevents further spread of a deadly virus from one host to another. Our ancestors understood this well before they even knew what viruses were, and I don’t understand why we would today no longer possess that wisdom.

The knowledge we have gained since times of old also allows us to understand that if a virus cannot spread to a new host for an x amount of time, it will die off. Which may sound a tad curious because science does not consider viruses to be microbes or “living organisms”, but that’s not really the issue at hand.

However, the NOT spreading will have to happen in as many instances as you have potential hosts, i.e. infected people, to make it work at a societal level, obviously. And that’s why lockdowns are inevitable: it’s all about numbers.

The “good news” is that the very reason lockdowns are useful already signifies that lockdowns don’t have to last until there is a “vaccine or effective treatment”; no “indefinite closure” is needed. You don’t necessarily have to eradicate a virus to inhibit it from jumping from host to host; you can also put distance and other barriers between (potential) hosts.

And there’s more good “news”. I think it was Nassim Taleb who said a while back that the answer to people saying a lockdown is a bad thing because it also isolates healthy people is: we need a lockdown precisely because we don’t know who is healthy or not.

If we do know who is healthy, however, we don’t need a lockdown. Ergo: testing, testing, testing. Certainly in the beginning, we must test people every 24 hours or so, test them for the virus. test them for antibodies, improve our tests, add more tests, test still more, we can all fill in the rest. And no, that is not an indefinite thing either. Testing will tell us to a much higher degree than we know today, when and where to distance people from each other.

Someone who has tested negative every 24 hours for days or weeks on end can be treated differently from someone who has not. And such a person will be, certainly initially, more careful in interacting with people. Take it from there, and you will in the end actually be rid of the virus, because it will not find enough new potential hosts.

That also means you don’t absolutely need a vaccine. Which is a good thing, because no coronavirus vaccine has ever been “discovered”, and because we have no idea what it would contain. Whenever I hear grand theories about grand bad plans elites or whoever are supposed to have with the virus, I first think: what would the virus need to propagate?

And I always come back to the same answer: it only needs our continuing incompetence: other than lockdowns and face masks, we have given it all the space and opportunity it has needed. It doesn’t need any help from 5G radiation or glyphosate (though both should be subject(ed) to the precautionary principle), or anything people come up with in the extra time their lockdown allows for. All it needs is for us to continue doing what we have: not test.

And opening up our societies again without mass testing, of course, will be the biggest gift we can offer it. This doesn’t mean I deny the possible existence of some plan, or that I want to claim to have knowledge of where the virus originated. It only means that from where I’m sitting, the virus doesn’t need any assistance to do what it has done so far, not that it may or may not have gotten any. Still, door A is factual, and door B is purely hypothetical. And we don’t have seas of time to debate this, we have lives to save.

 

It’s early May, and there no longer are any excuses for anyone in the western world not wearing face coverings in public, and neither are there excuses for countries lacking the capacity to test their citizens appropriately. Still, in most countries, we are nowhere near that capacity. That is inexcusable. Social distancing is not.

What shuts down societies today is not the virus, not the lockdowns, but the failure to adhere to basic principles with which to approach all potentially epidemic microbes or viruses. The failure to be properly prepared -at all times-, because some thirteen-a-dozen politician elected in a popularity contest considers it too expensive, or too much work. Even if warnings about a next epidemic had been sounded for many years.

The exit strategy is testing while Big Pharma looks for a vaccine. Good thing we don’t have to wait for the latter, because, yes, that would risk an indefinite closure. Testing will get us out once our “leaders” resolve to make it a priority. They should all be voted out of office for not having done that yet, and take their scientific advisers with them. And that’s after we may or may not forgive them for their initial failures.

We may need to overhaul a whole bunch of things to make sure no such perfectly preventable failures happen ever again. But you know how people are. And anyway, we’re in a bit of a bind at the moment.

It’s been 125 days since that first WHO warning, and there are still even many rich countries that can’t manage to test their medical and care workers, let alone the rest of their people.

And you want to argue that the problem here is lockdowns?

 

 

 

 

 

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