Oct 212020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1972

 

‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)
Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)
Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)
10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)
Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)
Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)
Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)
US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)
No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)
DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)
Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)
Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)
Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)
Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)
Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)
Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)

 

 

It’s Hunter season.

 

 

 

 

I think Tyler has the timeline a bit wrong. Tucker didn’t say this “Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials'”, he said it on October 16 (maybe even 15?!) , and the letter was published the 19th.

‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)

Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ who say the Hunter Biden laptop scandal “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” – providing “no new evidence,” while they remain “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case,” Tucker Carlson obliterated their (literal) conspiracy theory. According to the Fox News host, he’s seen ‘nonpublic information that proves it was Hunter’s laptop,’ adding “No one but Hunter could’ve known about or replicated this information.” “This is not a Russian hoax. We are not speculating.”

Meanwhile, the Delaware computer repair shop owner who believes Hunter dropped off three MacBook Pros for data recovery has a signed work order bearing Hunter’s signature. When compared to the signature on a document in his paternity suit, while one looks more formal than the other, they are a match. Going back to the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ and their latest Russia fixation, one has to wonder – do they think Putin was able to compromise Biden’s former business associate, Bevan Cooney, who gave investigative journalist Peter Schweizer his gmail password – revealing that Hunter and his partners were engaged in an influence-peddling operation for rich Chinese who wanted access to the Obama administration?


Did Putin further hack Joe Biden in 2011 to make him take a meeting with a Chinese delegation with ties to the CCP – arranged by Hunter’s group, two years they secured a massive investment of Chinese money? The implications boggle the mind. Here’s the clarifying sentences from the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ that exposes the utter farce of it all: “While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”

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A 14-year old relative. Most damning is that Joe knew about it.

Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)

Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s private attorneys, has reported to Delaware police concerns that materials on a laptop purportedly tied to Hunter Biden contained evidence of possible child endangerment. Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, confirmed Tuesday night he went Monday to a local police department in Wilmington to report his concerns of children endangerment and sexual exploitation. Giuliani told Just the News that former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik joined him when he delivered photographs and text messages to the New Castle County Police Department. “I told them other details about what appears to be an inappropriate sexual relationship,” he said in an interview. “They told me it would be investigated.”

Law enforcement officials in Delaware told Just the News that Giuliani’s concerns have been forwarded to the state Department of Justice. A spokesman for New Castle County police referred reporters to the state Justice Department. A spokesman for the state agency did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment. A senior federal law enforcement official told Just the News on Tuesday night that the FBI is in possession of the laptop and that the bureau concurs with Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s assessment that the laptop is not part of Russian intelligence operation, as some Democrats have alleged. That official declined to discuss the contents of the laptop.

[..] Giuliani said the materials he gleaned from the controversial laptop — which a Delaware computer shop owner alleges was left with him by Hunter Biden — gave him concern for the welfare of a minor girl. Giuliani declined to identify the alleged minor victim or who was in the photos. “There are many texts which I gave to them that point out that family was concerned about the safety of the child,” Giuliani said. “I will tell you the evidence I gave them states it was reported to Joe Biden. What did he do about it?“Giuliani dismissed suggestions that filing a police report as Trump’s private attorney two weeks before Election Day should be deemed political. “The conduct falls under the mandatory reporting requirements for child endangerment,” Giuliani said. “If I was the U.S. attorney or the mayor or Bernie was still the commissioner, it would have been a crime for us not to report what we had.”

Giuliani

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After they’ve had it for a year?! Yeah, that should work…

What the FBI is investigating is not the contents of the emails, but the RussiaRussia claims the Dems launched.

Is Giuliani’s report now also with the FBI?

Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)

The Delaware state police have passed on an inquiry concerning the laptop purportedly belonging to Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to the FBI.On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Newsmax that he handed over the laptop that he claims belongs to Hunter Biden to the Delaware state police on Monday. “In light of ongoing questions about the credibility of these claims and multiple reports that the FBI is investigating their veracity, law enforcement is referring this matter to the FBI,” a Delaware State Police spokesperson told Newsweek. The Delaware State Police also confirmed that they are not in possession of the laptop.


Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused each other of politicizing intelligence on Monday over emails allegedly found on the laptop. More than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter on Monday detailing their belief that the laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” After Schiff called revelations stemming from the laptop a Kremlin “smear” campaign, Ratcliffe on Monday insisted that the laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”

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Some good points.

10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)

1. Pennsylvania Voter Registration. American presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College as President Trump and Joe Biden both know. In 2016, Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes were key to President Trump’s victory. He won Pennsylvania by a slim 44,292 votes out of nearly 6 million. That November, the Democrats had nearly a 900,000 voter registration advantage over the Republicans. That number is now down to a 700,000 registration advantage and has narrowed to 100,000 in the last year.

2. Florida, too. In 2008, Democrats held nearly a 700,000 thousand voter registration advantage and Barack Obama carried the state by 236,148 votes. By 2012 that advantage slipped to 558,272 registrations and Obama won there by 74,309 votes. In 2016, Democrats had a 327,483 registration advantage and Trump carried the state by 112,991 votes. Now the Democrats’ voter registration advantage is down nearly 200,000 to just a 134,242 thousand lead, which Politico called a “historic low.”

3. Latinos for Trump. Trump could well receive a historic level of support from Latino Voters in 2020. In Florida, a NBC/Marist poll had Trump leading among Latinos 50% to 46% over Biden, whereas, in 2016, Hillary won among Latinos in Florida 62% to 35%. That would be a 15% swing toward Trump if it held up on Election Day. After the first debate between Biden and Trump, a Telemundo poll showed Trump winning the debate overwhelmingly 66% to 34%. Snap media polls tend to reflect the sentiment of their viewers. Thus, it is no surprise that CNN viewers said Biden won the debate. The fact that Telemundo viewers decisively picked Trump as the winner, along with polls like those cited above in Florida, portend Trump getting the highest ever Latino support of any Republican presidential candidate.

4. African Americans For Trump. In September, according to polling done by Rasmussen, Trump’s approval rating among African Americans reached 45%. Keep in mind that President Trump only received 8% of the Black vote in 2016. If Trump received just 16% of the Black vote this November, let alone an even higher number, that would all but secure states like Michigan for Trump.

5. Biden the Tax Increaser. Candidates who promise tax increases, or have a history of supporting tax increases, tend to lose versus those pushing for tax cuts. President Jimmy Carter lost to challenger Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale lost to President Reagan, Michael Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush 41 and then 41 lost his reelection after his tax increase became a reality. George W. Bush beat Al Gore and then John Kerry. Barack Obama promised to reduce taxes and he beat John McCain who was not a tax cutter. Obviously, President Trump offered tax cuts while running against, and beating, Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is pushing for the largest tax increase in history.

6. Enthusiasm Matters. As the New York Post has reported, “just 46 percent of Biden voters in a recent Pew poll said that they strongly support him, compared to 66 percent of Trump’s base.” That is a 20 gap. In 2016, Trump had only a 13 point gap over Hillary. That increase of 7% bodes well for Trump, not Biden.

7. Early Voting in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. National polling from Pew Research indicates that “55% of voters who plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day support Biden, compared to 40% who support President Trump.” However, in the key battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin the early voting indicates that “registered Republicans are returning ballots at about the same rate as registered Democrats.” The parties are even in Michigan, Democrats up 2% in Wisconsin and the Republicans up 2% in Ohio.

8. American Voters Are More Satisfied in 2020 than they were in 2016. A new Gallup poll shows that 56% of Americans say they are better off now than they were four years ago. That could well be the telling in this case given that just four years ago marked the end of the Biden vice presidency. Why would voters return to Biden if they are happier now than when he was in office?

9. Party Identification. According to Gallup, by the end of September, when the polling firm asked voters this question, “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent?” the answer came back as follows: 28% said Republican, 27% said Democrat and 42% said independent. That is meaningful because many of the polls giving Biden the lead appear to be sampling more Democrats than Republicans – sometimes by a wide margin. Also, in 2016, Gallup had Democrats up 32% to 27% but, as we know, Trump still won.

10. Voters Think Trump Will Win. In the Trump era, there has been a lot of talk about whether Trump supporters feel free to tell pollsters that they are supporting the president’s reelection. Some experts point to polls asking voters who they believe will win the election to be a truer indication of candidate support. Once again this bodes well for President Trump as a “Gallup poll shows only 40% of Americans think Biden will win the election; 56% predict a Trump victory.”

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Good comparison.

Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)

Donald Trump has compared Rep. Adam Schiff’s claim that Hunter Biden’s alleged leaked emails are part of a Russian disinformation plot to Hillary Clinton calling Democrat Tulsi Gabbard a “Russian asset” similarly without evidence.During a Tuesday Fox News interview, Trump addressed Schiff’s evidence-free claim that the Hunter Biden email leaks, which detail his alleged dealings in Ukraine and China, were coming “from the Kremlin.” The leaks were published by the New York Post last week. “It’s just crazy,” Trump said of the theory, referring to the Democratic congressman as “Shifty Schiff” and a “sick” man, who was purposefully obfuscating the issue.


“Thank god we have John Ratcliffe,” Trump added, pointing out that the director of national intelligence refuted the speculation on Monday. During his own sit down with Fox, DNI Ratcliffe said that there was “no intelligence” to support Schiff’s position, and accused the politician of “politicizing” intelligence. The president recalled similar accusations made by his failed 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, who previously implied that the Green Party’s former nominee Jill Stein and Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard were “Russian assets.” “This was like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein, when Hillary Clinton said it about them… that they were agents of Russia,” Trump noted, adding, “They were not agents of Russia, they never spoke to anybody from Russia.”

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13 days left to go.

Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)

Secret Service logs obtained earlier this year by Senate investigators include dates and locations matching those discussed in the emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.The alignment of the dates in the emails and the Secret Service protective detail logs is significant because the authenticity of the emails, first published by the New York Post last week, is the subject of heated debate. The FBI, which purportedly obtained Hunter Biden’s laptop in December last year, has not yet officially confirmed that it is in possession of the device and whether the emails are genuine.

In one alleged email, written after midnight on April 13, 2014, Hunter Biden wrote to Devon Archer, his business partner, that he will be traveling to Houston the next day. Secret Service logs obtained by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs show a trip by Biden on April 13-14, 2014. In another alleged email, Vadim Pozharskyi, a top executive from Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, wrote to Biden and Archer on May 12, 2014: “Following our talks during the visit to the Como Lake and our further discussions, I would like to bring the following situation to your attention.” While the email doesn’t cite a date for the trip, Secret Service logs include a travel entry for Biden on April 3-6, 2014.

In another alleged email, Archer wrote on May 12, 2014, that he is with Biden in Doha, Qatar. Secret Service records include a trip by Biden to Doha, Qatar, on May 11-14, 2014. The alignment in dates and location was first spotted by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees. Notably, some of the alleged Hunter Biden emails included discussions of Biden’s travel after he allegedly declined a Secret Service detail. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) penned a letter to the director of the Secret Service on Oct. 20 asking for records after the date when Biden purportedly stopped receiving a Secret Service detail.

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And associates.

Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)

In November 2011, an elite group of Chinese Communist Party members and billionaire cronies of the repressive regime in Beijing secured a meeting in the White House, said to be with Vice President Biden and other Obama administration officials, through Hunter Biden’s associates. News of the meeting has been broken by Peter Schweizer and Seamus Bruner. Schweizer, who has spent years tracking Washington’s web of money, influence and access, is the author most recently of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, which focuses on the Biden family — among other intriguing money trails on both sides of the political aisle. Schweizer and Bruner have obtained the cooperation of Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Bevan Cooney, who is serving a federal prison sentence for a fraud scheme.

Another Hunter Biden business partner, Devon Archer, was also convicted (and has had his conviction reinstated by the Second Circuit federal appeals court after a trial judge in the Southern District of New York set it aside). Hunter Biden was featured in the evidence but not charged. Cooney has given the investigative journalists access to his email account, which contains years of correspondence with Biden, Archer, and others. The authors have begun writing reports published at Breitbart, and Schweizer has also been interviewed about it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. Obviously, those are very pro-Trump venues, so it is worth noting that solid reporting Schweizer did on the Clinton Foundation (the subject of his book Clinton Cash) was closely examined and relied on by the New York Times.

[..] Based on Cooney’s emails, the authors report that in November 2011, Hunter Biden’s business associates arranged meetings at the Obama White House for a delegation of the “China Entrepreneur Club.” Established in 2006, the CEC is led by high officials of the Chinese Communist Party, some government officials (including diplomats), and billionaire business executives with close ties to the regime. This visit to the White House is said to have included a meeting with then–Vice President Biden. In discussions among themselves, Hunter Biden’s associates reportedly made it clear that they anticipated cashing in on business prospects that were expected to arise from providing the Chinese contingent with high-level access to the Obama administration.

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Balding

US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)

American Universities failed to report $6.5 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, an investigation by the Department of Education found. Federal law requires schools to disclose substantial foreign gifts and contracts to the Department of Education (DOE) twice a year. Many have for years failed to do so, while others severely underreported the income. The deluge of the financial disclosures poured in as the department opened investigations into 12 elite universities. Universities reported receiving a total of more than $19.6 billion in foreign gifts and contracts from 2014 to 2020, including nearly $1.5 billion from China, almost $3.1 billion from Qatar, and more than $1.1 billion from Saudi Arabia, according to historical DOE data and most recent figures posted on its new online reporting portal.

Carnegie Mellon University reported receiving almost $1.61 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, the most of any university. Harvard tops the list in terms of total funds received from China, reporting nearly $116 million. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled the findings of the investigation at an event on Oct. 20, alongside officials from the Justice Department and the State Department. “The threat is real, so we took action to make sure the public is afforded the transparency the law requires,” DeVos said. “We found pervasive noncompliance by higher-ed institutions and significant foreign entanglement with America’s colleges and universities.”

The vast majority of the foreign funds went to America’s largest and most prestigious universities, which have received billions of dollars through a bevy of intermediaries, according to a report released by the DOE on Oct. 20. All of the institutions involved are in the meantime dependent on tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer subsidies while operating largely “divorced from any sense of obligation to our taxpayers or concern for our American national interests, security, or values,” the DOE report states. For the first half of 2020 alone, U.S. universities retroactively reported $2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts. One school, which isn’t identified in the report, failed to report $760 million in foreign funding. University officials told the DOE they were “dumbfounded” by the reporting error. Another unnamed school failed to report $1.2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts.

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“82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that.”

No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)

One of the things that never fails to amaze me as a pollster is the absolute intensity that accompanies the final weeks of a presidential campaign. A poll I conducted recently for HealthInsurance.com found that 82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that. That’s what senior citizens are saying. These are voters who were around when the Berlin Wall went up and the Cold War was being fought in a space race. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Woodstock and Watergate were part of their life experience. And yet, now, they say this year — 2020 — is the most important presidential election of their lifetime.

Of course, you don’t need a poll to sense the intensity that some activists and voters bring to the election season. Supporters of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden regularly assert that the nation will never recover if the other side wins. Our democracy or our freedom will be lost. This shouldn’t surprise me. It happens every four years. But it catches me off guard because I don’t agree with the assessment. America will survive another four years of Donald Trump as president or the first four years of Joe Biden as president. There will be differences, of course, because elections matter. They have consequences. But it’s important to remember that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. They don’t determine the nation’s agenda or decide the fate of the nation.

The culture leads and the politicians lag behind. It’s also important to remember that American society isn’t nearly as polarized as American politics. That’s the good news. Still, it seems like a good time to review the data and assess where we are as Election 2020 draws to a close. The place to start is with a number that partisan activists find impossible to believe. My polling shows that 14% of voters — 1 out of 7 — are not fully certain how they will vote. That number includes some who currently support Trump or Biden but could change their mind. It also includes some who are currently leaning towards a third-party candidate. Historically, many such voters end up deciding at the last minute to reluctantly vote for one of the major party candidates. And, there are a few who just don’t like the choice before them.

In a sense, this group of uncommitted voters might best be described as voters who want both Trump and Biden to lose. While most are unlikely to change their mind, the possibility remains that something might happen to cause a late break in either direction. As a result, with two weeks to go, it’s best to consider a range of possibilities. Biden and the Democrats are ahead at the moment, but victory is not assured. I’ll start with the best-case scenario for the Republicans. If the race gets a bit tighter, Election 2020 will be a toss-up with the presidency determined by a few key states — places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It will seem like four years ago with one big exception: This time around, extensive mail-in voting means we wouldn’t know the winner for weeks. And, we also wouldn’t know who controls the Senate, the results in a couple dozen House races, and who has control of a few state legislatures.

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I thought they would only agree on going to war.

DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)

Lawmakers in the House and Senate praised a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against Google over allegations that the tech giant used its power to preserve its monopoly. “Today’s lawsuit is the most important antitrust case in a generation,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in a statement after the filing. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information. And Google in particular has gathered and maintained that power through illegal means.” The lawsuit drew bipartisan support. House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement that the lawsuit was “long overdue.”

“The Subcommittee’s investigation uncovered extensive evidence showing that Google maintained and extended its monopoly to harm competition,” he said in a statement. “It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anti-competitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants.” Cicilline said in early October in a House antitrust subcommittee that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple all wield monopoly power. “It’s Google’s business model that is the problem,” he said. “Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sights.”

The suit, filed in a Washington federal court, asserts that Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has tried to maintain its status as a gatekeeper to the Internet by using a number of interlocking businesses to shut out competitors, thereby securing itself as a monopoly. The DOJ claimed the Silicon Valley firm uses billions of dollars from its own advertisements to pay carriers, browsers, phone companies, and other entities to maintain Google as a default search engine. “Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide,” the DOJ lawsuit alleged, resulting in negative consequences for advertisers, consumers, and upstart companies that “cannot emerge from Google’s long shadow.”

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“One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.”

Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday postponed plans to vote on subpoenas to compel the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook to testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias after some panel Republicans expressed reservation about the maneuver. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have scorched the two social media companies in recent days over their handling of disputed New York Post reports alleging ties between Joe Biden and his son’s business interests. GOP Judiciary leaders had announced plans to hold a markup Tuesday on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify on allegations the company’s decisions on user posts stifle conservative viewpoints, which Twitter denies. Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) later said the planned vote would also target Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The panel announced Monday it will now consider whether to authorize the subpoenas at a high-profile executive session Thursday where it is separately expected to approve Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The committee said in a statement it will continue to negotiate with the companies “to allow for voluntary testimony” by the CEOs, but that if an agreement is not reached the panel will move ahead with a vote on the subpoenas “at a date to be determined.” The subpoenas would require the tech moguls to testify on the alleged “suppression and/or censorship” of the New York Post reporting and on “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office,” according to a document released by the committee Monday.

Judiciary staff has indicated internally that plans for the vote were delayed in part due to some GOP panel members wavering on whether to support the action, according to one Senate GOP aide, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations. Republican officials have also expressed trepidation about how quickly the committee has moved to vote on the subpoenas, the aide said. A committee spokesperson did not immediately offer comment on the matter. But they’re not off the hook yet: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, told reporters he’s expecting the committee to hear testimony from both Dorsey and Zuckerberg “shortly” whether they come willingly or not. “One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.

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“But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”

Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)

“Facebook is almost an arm of the Democratic Party — an arm of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.” So said the former Facebook insider as we sat down for an interview at a Midtown restaurant Friday afternoon.A gloomy rain had left the joint deserted, yet the man across the table from me spoke in hushed tones and looked over his shoulder in between remarks for fear of retaliation. Yet he felt he had to speak out, because staffers are “intentionally trying to swing people further to the left,” as he had put it in an e-mail requesting the meeting. I already knew that, of course. It was a Facebook communications manager, Andy Stone, who on Thursday announced the firm was reducing circulation of The Post’s still-undisputed reporting on the Hunter Files — an employee who happened to work for Democratic lawmakers before joining the tech giant.

What the Facebook insider wanted to impress upon me, however, was how Facebook’s partisan tilt is common knowledge inside the firm.He had the secret chats to prove it. Facebook employees who wish to speak freely take to Blind, an anonymous social network for the tech industry, where workers at major firms like Uber, Google, Twitter and the like trade gossip and occasionally blow the whistle on malfeasance. To gain access to the Facebook network on Blind, a user must sign up using his or her Facebook work e-mail address. The posters, in other words, are verified Facebook employees (and ex-employees in a few cases). So what do Facebook workers think about the company’s handling of our story? The comments speak for themselves: “[Facebook] employees want Trump to lose,” wrote one user. “If that means rigging [the platform] against him, they don’t care.”


The post garnered 29 “likes” from other employees. “I was shocked that Facebook did this,” said another. “We kinda called [brought] this on ourselves. So much for ‘we are not the arbiters of truth.’ ” That comment garnered 15 “likes.” Still other comments: “Facebook bets that Biden wins the election. So an effort to jump on the bandwagon.” “Yeah this one is unconscionable. I’m ashamed.” “Imagine if we censored some leaked Trump stuff. It would be the #1 upvoted question tomorrow for Mark [Zuckerberg company-wide]’s Q&A.” Another employee wrote a detailed critique: “Why do people hate Facebook everywhere? Here’s one reason. Freaking one-sided decision. The comms Twitter account [Andy Stone’s] was definitely left-leaning, and it’s a talking point, as well. No proper response to comms feedback. Don’t want to be the what-if person. But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”

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AI.

Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)

China is one of the most censorious societies on earth. So what better place for ≠Facebook to recruit social-media censors? There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.

When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”Like, say, a New York Post report on the Biden dynasty’s dealings with Chinese companies.To illustrate the mechanics, the insider took me as his typical Facebook user: “They take what Sohrab sees, and then they throw the newsfeed list into a machine-learning algorithm and neural networks that determine the ranking of the items.” Facebook engineers test hundreds of different iterations of the rankings to shape an optimal outcome — and root out what bosses call “borderline content.”

It all makes for perhaps the most chillingly sophisticated censorship mechanism in human history. “What they don’t do is ban a specific pro-Trump hashtag,” says the ex-insider. Instead, “content that is a little too conservative, they will down-rank. You can’t tell it’s censored.”

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They don’t appear to know why.

Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)

Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness. “We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August. The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.

That’s a big improvement, but 7.6% is still a high risk compared with other diseases, and Horwitz and other researchers caution that COVID-19 remains dangerous. The death rate “is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu,” Horwitz says. And those who recover can suffer complications for months or even longer. “It still has the potential to be very harmful in terms of long-term consequences for many people.” Studying changes in death rate is tricky because although the overall U.S. death rate for COVID-19 seems to be dropping, the drop coincides with a change in whom the disease is sickening. “The people who are getting hospitalized now tend to be much younger, tend to have fewer other diseases and tend to be less frail than people who were hospitalized in the early days of the epidemic,” Horwitz says.

So have death rates dropped because of improvements in treatments? Or is it because of the change in who’s getting sick? To find out, Horwitz and her colleagues looked at more than 5,000 hospitalizations in the NYU Langone Health system between March and August. They adjusted for factors including age and other diseases, such as diabetes, to rule out the possibility that the numbers had dropped only because younger, healthier people were getting diagnosed. They found that death rates dropped for all groups, even older patients by 18 percentage points on average.

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How embarrassing for the West if this works.

Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)

Moscow will receive its first large batches of the coronavirus vaccine in November, and mass vaccination in the Russian capital will begin in December and January, according to its Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Sobyanin, who has run Europe’s largest city since 2010, believes that mass vaccination will be “the final victory over the pandemic.” Writing on his blog, the mayor explained that the high number of infections in Moscow is due to the city’s huge population and the significant number of tests being conducted. On Monday, confirmed cases in the capital hit 367,629, a quarter of the country’s overall number (1,415,316), despite officially having around only eight percent of the population.

In the same blog post, Sobyanin highlighted that he does not yet see a necessity to introduce “extreme” measures in the city, such as a curfew and a ban on movement, but did not rule out other less stringent measures. The main aim is to interrupt the spread of the infection, while not affecting the economy or depriving people of work, he wrote. “Ultimately, we are not making a choice between good and bad,” the mayor said. “All decisions are bad. We have to choose the lesser of two evils. But if we do nothing today, then tomorrow we will have to take tougher, more radical, and more unpleasant measures.” Last week, the capital introduced extra restrictions regarding nightlife, with those attending bars and clubs after midnight being forced to scan a QR code for the purpose of track-and-trace.

Moscow is currently hosting the third phase trial of the country’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V. The mass post-registration testing of the vaccine, which was produced by the city’s Gamaleya Institute, involves 40,000 volunteers – a quarter of whom will receive a placebo.

Read more …

“I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.”

Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)

1. “There are two kinds of people. People who when they hear that there’s a problem, they go into their basement, start crying, have an emotional support group, do some praying, and wait for the government to save them. Others who take their fate in their own hands and try to say, ‘Hey, life gave me a lemon, let me make lemonade out of it'” – on the best way to react to a crisis. 2. “There are ways you can be ahead. You just have to fight” – on the subject of adapting to the pandemic. Taleb gave the example of a gym owner pivoting to installing home gyms, and a waiter making more money as a delivery driver.

3. “Capitalism is a wonderful mechanism to convert individual human greed into collective virtue.” 4. “Governments are good at doing things that look important but are not necessarily effective.” 5. “We’re spending $1 trillion on fighting illusory enemies with very complex nuclear stuff, but you can’t do something as basic as test people when they want to board a plane” – criticizing the government response to the pandemic. 6. “I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.

7. “Millennials think that joining an NGO is a great way to save the world. I say no. Start a company, that’s how you improve mankind. We did not pull 2 billion people out of poverty thanks to NGOs and bureaucrats, we pulled them out thanks to capitalism, by generating economic growth.” 8. “A soldier can fail without any shame to the country. We should interpret the failure of entrepreneurs as something that is helping the planet” – on the need to encourage entrepreneurs and remove the stigma of failure.

Read more …

 

 

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Matriarch

 

 

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Oct 192020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1907

 

‘Unverified’ Is A (False) Excuse For Ignoring NYP’s Hunter Biden Scoops (NYP)
Steve Bannon Behind ‘Roll-Out Plan’ For Hunter Biden Emails (ZH)
Does This Explain Why Facebook Suppressed Hunter Biden Revelations? (AT)
Ukrainian Lawmaker: 2nd Laptop Related To Hunter Biden Seized By Law Enforcement (DM)
How Hysterical Punditry Failed America (Tracey)
China Says Its Economy Grew 4.9% In The Third Quarter (CNBC)
China’s Inflation Struggles To Perk Up Despite Broader Recovery (R.)
Sweden To Bring In Local Lockdowns As Covid Cases Rise (Sun)
Alberta’s Contact Tracing Raises Red Flags (CBC)
The Day The International Tax Authorities Came Knocking (Age)
Social Media Creators Admit It Dehumanizes People, Disrupts Social Fabric (RT)

 

 

Yaneer Europe

 

 

“It’s particularly rich that The New York Times has fixated on the “unverified” excuse, since it’s spent much of the Trump era offering supposed dirt from anonymous sources — which, by definition, makes the info unverifiable.”

‘Unverified’ Is A (False) Excuse For Ignoring NYP’s Hunter Biden Scoops (NYP)

Much of the push to ignore The Post’s drop of Hunter Biden’s e-mails centers on the charge that it’s all “unverified.” The claim is more excuse than truth. First, a host of media outlets have now interviewed the computer-repair guy who provided the data at the heart of these exposés — and he’s said exactly what we’ve reported from the start about how the laptop came into his possession. Second, neither Hunter nor Joe Biden has even questioned the fact that the drive is real — they merely dismiss the entire line of questioning, while charging that The Post has an agenda in presenting it to the world.

Third, we’ve published emails and pictures — most of which have nothing to do with Ukraine or China — that contain an extraordinary level of detail. Is that all fabricated? The Biden campaign’s response, notably, is not that an e-mail from a Burisma official thanking Hunter for an introduction to his father isn’t real, it’s that said meeting doesn’t show up on Joe’s “official” schedules. Pressed by Politico, the campaign acknowledged that they couldn’t say for certain if Joe Biden had met him casually. It’s particularly rich that The New York Times has fixated on the “unverified” excuse, since it’s spent much of the Trump era offering supposed dirt from anonymous sources — which, by definition, makes the info unverifiable.

A simple but striking case of that is The Atlantic’s “reporting” that President Trump spoke contemptuously and insultingly of US troops during his trip to France for war-memorial ceremonies. Its claims were based purely on anonymous sources — but contradicted by a number of on-the-record sources, including ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has absolutely no reason to lie to protect the man who fired him.

Biden drops out

Read more …

His recent arrest makes him seem even more compromised.

Steve Bannon Behind ‘Roll-Out Plan’ For Hunter Biden Emails (ZH)

As former Breitbart journalist Lee Stranahan – who’s not exactly Bannon’s biggest fan – puts it, “I can’t think of a single example of him saying he had the goods on the story that didn’t pan out,” adding “If he says a lot more is coming he’s not shooting blanks.” [..] Last week the NY Post took the political world by storm with its release of shocking material from Hunter Biden’s hard drive indicating corruption, sexual depravity, and more. The Post reported that a lawyer for former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani obtained the hard drive from a computer repairman and that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon had alerted the Post to the existence of the hard drive in July.

“But before turning over the gear, the shop owner says, he made a copy of the hard drive and later gave it to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello. Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of it on Sunday”. [NY Post] Steve Bannon has since clarified to Revolver News that he was brought into the project based on familiarity with corruption in corporate America, on Wall Street, and within the Chinese Communist Party and America’s political class. Mr. Bannon revealed that he “worked up and executed the roll out plan” of the information contained in the Hunter hard drives. Given his close knowledge and familiarity with an issue of such explosive importance to the election, Revolver asked Mr. Bannon a few questions pertaining to the contents of Hunter’s hard drive and the political implications of their release.

Revolver: What is the most incriminating thing on the hard drive? Rudy has suggested illegal things, and as Revolver reported, the FBI person tasked with the hard drive is associated with the child pornography division. Could you give more insight into how bad it is we’re talking about? Mr. Bannon: Joe Biden is a liar, a fraud, and compromised by Chinese cash. In short, he is a national security crisis. The hard drive combines emails and text messages that show a massive involvement with companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Also, there are 25,000 images that show a drug-addled, depraved lifestyle — one that decent hardworking Americans will not want near the White House.

Revolver: The FBI has been holding onto the hard drive for almost a year? Any sense of why? Was there any indication that they were seriously interested in a criminal case, assuming that there is, in fact, illegal material on there? If not, why would the FBI simply hold onto information like that? Mr. Bannon: The President must confront the director of the FBI on why the information housed on this hard drive was not moved on immediately. If the content of the hard drive had been released when received in November 2019, there would have been no impeachment of Trump, and Bernie Sanders would be the Democratic Party nominee. This confrontation should take place this weekend in the Oval Office. If Wray doesn’t have a bulletproof reason he should be fired in the room.

Revolver: What are your best estimates on how many foreign entities may have obtained possession of the hard drive? Chinese intel? Mr. Bannon: It’s the actions represented on the hard drive that the American people must understand our enemies know about. The cash and equity given for access to Biden, the favors done for that cash, the drugs, the depravity. The CCP, Russian Intel, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Intel Services — they know the Bidens are for sale. [..] The Bidens are about to be hit with multiple stories from multiple media sources based off evidence beyond the hard drive. Fox and Peter Schweitzer have already started but bigger more mainstream companies are going to weigh in. We already have set in motion the various apparatuses that will release everything.

Read more …

If there’s one thing we’ve found out the past week it’s a whole new set of revolving doors exist.

Does This Explain Why Facebook Suppressed Hunter Biden Revelations? (AT)

The moment the New York Post reported on some of the sleazy, corrupt details contained on Hunter Biden’s hard drive, Twitter and Facebook, the social media giants most closely connected to the way Americans exchange political information, went into overdrive to suppress the information and protect Joe Biden. In the case of Facebook, though, perhaps one of those protectors was, in fact, protecting herself. The person currently in charge of Facebook’s election integrity program is Anna Makanju. That name probably doesn’t mean a lot to you, but it should mean a lot – and in a comforting way — to Joe Biden. Before ending up at Facebook, Makanju was a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is an ostensibly non-partisan think tank that deals with international affairs. In fact, it’s a decidedly partisan organization.

In 2009, James L. Jones, the Atlantic Council’s chairman left the organization to be President Obama’s National Security Advisor. Susan Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Eric Shinseki, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Chuck Hagel, and Brent Scowcroft also were all affiliated with the Atlantic Council before they ended up in the Obama administration. The Atlantic Council has received massive amounts of foreign funding over the years. Here’s one that should interest everyone: Burisma Holdings donated $300,000 dollars to the Atlantic Council, over the course of three consecutive years, beginning in 2016. The information below may explain why it began paying that money to the Council. Not only was the Atlantic Council sending people into the Obama-Biden administration, but it was also serving as an outside advisor. And that gets us back to Anna Makanju, the person heading Facebook’s misleadingly titled “election integrity program.”

Makanju also worked at the Atlantic Council. The following is the relevant part of Makanju’s professional bio from her page at the Atlantic Council: “Anna Makanju is a nonresident senior fellow with the Transatlantic Security Initiative. She is a public policy and legal expert working at Facebook, where she leads efforts to ensure election integrity on the platform. Previously, she was the special policy adviser for Europe and Eurasia to former US Vice President Joe Biden, senior policy adviser to Ambassador Samantha Power at the United States Mission to the United Nations, director for Russia at the National Security Council, and the chief of staff for European and NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She has also taught at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and worked as a consultant to a leading company focused on space technologies.”

[..] on the same day in February 2016 that then-Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced that Shokin had offered his resignation, Biden spoke to both Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The White House version is that Biden gave both men pep talks about reforming the government and fighting corruption. And that’s where Makanju comes in: “Anna Makanju, Biden’s senior policy adviser for Ukraine at the time, also listened to the calls and said release of the transcripts would only strengthen Biden’s case that he acted properly. She helped Biden prepare for the conversations and said they operated at a high level, with Biden using language such as Poroshenko’s government being “nation builders for a transformation of Ukraine.”

Read more …

Not sure if this enhances the story or kills it.

Ukrainian Lawmaker: 2nd Laptop Related To Hunter Biden Seized By Law Enforcement (DM)

A Ukrainian lawmaker has claimed a second laptop belonging to Hunter Biden’s business contacts in the country has been seized by law enforcement there. Andrii Derkach posted to Facebook on Friday to say there is a ‘second laptop’ involving evidence of corruption and connected to the Bidens, The Daily Beast reports. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has said foreign sources did not provide the Hunter Biden emails first reported last week. He says a laptop containing the correspondence and intimate photos was simply abandoned in a Delaware repair shop and the shop owner reached out to Giuliani’s lawyer. Derkach is one of Giuliani’s principal contacts and was mentioned in an August intelligence assessment that described a concerted Russian effort to disparage Biden.

A Treasury Department sanction announcement from last month characterized Derkach as an ‘active Russian agent for over a decade.’ Now he claims to know of a second laptop, used by ‘two representatives for the interests of [Burisma founder Mykola] Zlochevsky.’ Hunter served on the board of directors at Ukrainian energy company Burisma. In the post Derkach says that laptop ‘was given to Ukrainian law enforcement’ and that Burisma representatives were now serving as ‘witnesses in criminal proceedings.’ The Ukrainian parliamentarian said: ‘The facts that confirm international corruption are stored on the second laptop. ‘This laptop was handed over to Ukrainian law enforcement officers, and the “workers” themselves are now witnesses in criminal proceedings.’

Derkach says the workers are ‘ready to tell’ about international corruption involving the Bidens. He warns: ‘But most importantly! These are not the last witnesses or the last laptop.’ Giuliani has not been shy about discussing his foreign contacts, including with Derkach. In December, Derkach posted on his Facebook page photos of him and Giuliani meeting in Kyiv.

Read more …

Panic sells.

How Hysterical Punditry Failed America (Tracey)

It seems like only yesterday that America’s leading organs of elite consensus were engulfed by a full-fledged panic that the country was on the cusp of all-out Civil War. The means by which this prophesied conflict would be instigated — much less fought — were never made exactly clear, but that wasn’t the point. After all, logistical or operational specifics are immaterial when it’s already been ordained that something unimaginably, harrowingly catastrophic is just around the corner. “This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning,” blared a five-alarm-fire warning in the Washington Post by Dana Milbank, who may want to consider a title change from “columnist” to “in-house hysteric”. Not to be outdone, establishment weather-vane Thomas Friedman joined the fray in the New York Times with an equally shocking exhortation: “I can’t say this any more clearly,” he hyperventilated.

“Our democracy is in terrible danger — more danger than it has been since the Civil War, more danger than after Pearl Harbor, more danger than during the Cuban missile crisis […]”. If these fevered prognostications even bore the faintest resemblance to political conditions in the United States, it might seem a bit odd that the pundits in question have since moved on to other subjects. Or to put it this way: if they really believed their own fantastical rhetoric, shouldn’t they have spent the past few weeks taking action more tangible than rattling off a few throwaway columns and browsing Twitter? Not that any “resistance” brigade composed of pallid middle-aged journalists would be especially formidable on the battlefield, but the point is that their conduct doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the incredible alarmism of their words.

More destruction could be in store next month than was wrought in World War II, the most devastating global military conflict in human history? All of civilisation was nearly wiped out in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but we’re supposed to believe that whatever harm is brought about by the election aftermath will exceed that? If so, why aren’t these people stockpiling canned food and training for hand-to-hand combat? They’re not doing anything of the sort because this latest round of histrionics is just a continuation of a theme that has characterised the Trump era: political and cultural elites, whose psyches have been profoundly damaged, will churn out nonstop waves of hysteria rarely noting afterwards if their frenzied forecasts ever panned out.

Read more …

I basically see only people doubting these numbers.

China Says Its Economy Grew 4.9% In The Third Quarter (CNBC)

China’s economy recovered further from the coronavirus in the third quarter, according to data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. The world’s second-largest economy reported third-quarter GDP growth on the low end of expectations, up 4.9% from a year ago. That brings growth for the first three quarters of the year to 0.7% from a year ago. Chinese economists expected GDP growth of 5.2% in the third quarter, according to an average of estimates compiled by Wind Information, a financial information database. Slower recovery in Chinese consumption remained a drag, while uncertainty persisted about the ability of other countries to control the coronavirus pandemic and return to economic growth.


“Generally speaking, the overall national economy continued the steady recovery and significant results have been delivered in coordinating epidemic prevention and development,” the bureau said in an English-language release. “However, we should also be aware that the international environment is still complicated and severe,” the release said, “with considerable instabilities and uncertainties, and that we are under great pressure of forestalling epidemic transmissions from abroad and its resurgence at home. The economy is still in the process of recovery and the foundation for sustained recovery needs to be consolidated.”

Read more …

This one is easy: China is overproducing once again, that makes the “recovery” look real. But consumption doesn’t follow production.

China’s Inflation Struggles To Perk Up Despite Broader Recovery (R.)

China’s factory gate prices fell at a faster-than-expected pace in September and consumer inflation slowed to its weakest in 19 months, underscoring the challenges still facing China as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The producer price index (PPI) fell for an eighth straight month on an annual basis while consumer prices grew more slowly than expected. The world’s second largest economy has seen a steady recovery after being hard hit by the coronavirus in the first quarter. But a sustained fall in producer prices, seen as a gauge of industrial demand, may rekindle worries about deflation and prompt authorities to provide more support, analysts said.


“The PPI has not rebounded strongly despite the improving trend, pointing to continued weakness in industrial demand. It is unlikely to return to positive territory this year,” said Wang Jun, chief economist at Zhongyuan Bank. “It is possible that the economic recovery in the fourth quarter may not be as strong as it has been in the third quarter.” The PPI fell 2.1% from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement. [..] China’s GDP grew 3.2% year-on-year in the second quarter, and recent data has pointed to a sustained rebound, underpinned by government stimulus and as the virus comes under control. China releases GDP data for the third quarter on Monday.

Read more …

“..the autumn surge in infections had changed they way they understood the virus..”

Sweden To Bring In Local Lockdowns As Covid Cases Rise (Sun)

SWEDEN is set to introduce local restrictions as coronavirus cases begin to rise across the country after it shunned lockdown. The nation has been championed by lockdown sceptics as a display of how governments could weather the pandemic storm without using draconian measures. Restaurants, bars and shops stayed open in the spring as many countries shut down their economy – but the now Stockholm appears to be changing its tactics. Dr Johan Nojd, who leads the infectious diseases department in Uppsala, told The Telegraph, said: “It’s more of a lockdown situation – but a local lockdown. He is due to meet with Sweden’s leading health officials on Monday to discussing implementing the new coronavirus measures.

Rules suggested being introduced include telling people to stop meeting the vulnerable and urged to avoid public transport. Dr Nojd also said that if contact tracing shows further links between activities and infections they will not hesitate to impose even tougher measures. He added: “Perhaps tomorrow we will have several talking about concerts or restaurants and then perhaps one could say, ‘in Uppsala now for two or three weeks it is the Public Health Agency’s advice not to sit in restaurants late at night’.” Sweden – which has a population of 10million, only slighter bigger than London – has seen coronavirus cases creeping up since the middle of September. A two week total of 85 cases per 100,000 people has been reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The organisation has marked Sweden with an “orange” alert as they called for coordinated action by European nations to stop a surge in cases.

[..] Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said on Thursday that the autumn surge in infections had changed they way they understood the virus. He said: “I think the obvious conclusion is that the level of immunity in those cities is not at all as high as we have, as maybe some people, have believed,” he said. “I think what we are seeing is very much a consequence of the very heterogeneous spread that this disease has, which means that even if you feel like there have been a lot of cases in some big cities, there are still huge pockets of people who have not been affected yet.”

Read more …

Does anyone know of a -truly- successful contact tracing scheme? Did it work in New Zealand? The problem is obvious here: people don’t remember what they did for the past 14 days.

Alberta’s Contact Tracing Raises Red Flags (CBC)

COVID-19 cases are rising in Alberta, and there are concerns that difficulties involved in contact tracing — both manual and digital — could hamper the province’s ability to slow the spread. Of the 1,812 new cases reported in Alberta last week, 772 (43 per cent) have an unknown source. There are currently 2,836 active cases in the province, 1,054 (37 per cent) from an unknown source. Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said she doesn’t like the look of those numbers. “This is actually one of the cornerstones of reducing spread. If we can’t, basically, kind of find the ring of exposed people and prevent them from spreading it outwards, we’re going to be looking at really, really bad numbers. So it’s a big deal,” she said.


Contact tracing is the process of identifying, notifying and tracking the spread of the virus from individual to individual. Alberta’s team of contact tracers speak to people who have tested positive in order to identify who they have been in close contact with during the previous 14 days. Those close contacts can then be instructed to self-isolate and get tested. Lori Henneigh, acting manager with an Alberta Health Services COVID-19 outbreak team in Red Deer, Alta., told CBC News last month that people often have difficulty remembering what they did 14 days ago. “If you think about it yourself, if you try to think about what you did in the last 14 days, you’ll realize that it’s not easy to recollect what you did two weeks prior,” she said. “We certainly can ask them to look at statements — bills, receipts and things they have at home — to help them remember their activities in the last 14 days.”

Read more …

Peter Schiff.

The Day The International Tax Authorities Came Knocking (Age)

On a sunny Friday in late January, investigators from the Australian Tax Office issued subpoenas and fired off letters as part of an unprecedented probe that reached around the world.It was a similar scene in Amsterdam, where investigators from the Dutch tax agency set about a similar task. So, too, did investigators in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. While none of the millionaire tax dodgers targeted on January 24, including about 100 Australians, knew each other, they shared a bond: they were customers of a little-known Caribbean bank. The Euro Pacific Bank in Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan was founded by American celebrity investor and business commentator Peter Schiff.

The silver-haired and pugnacious businessman is worth an estimated $100 million. On major television networks, popular podcasts and his own YouTube channel, he reminds his audience he predicted the Global Financial Crisis. He also likes to warn people about the upcoming economic apocalypse from which they can take financial refuge in his “privacy assured” bank. Schiff’s celebrity status is likely why some major Australian financial institutions, including Westpac and the Perth Mint, hopped into bed with the Euro Pacific Bank. They weren’t alone. The New York Federal Reserve and Canada’s Bank of Montreal both allowed their customers to transfer funds into the bank, cloaking it in an air of credibility it used to attract thousands of clients, including at least 400 from Australia (about 100 are considered “high risk”).

But on January 24, Euro Pacific became the target of Operation Atlantis, the world’s largest tax evasion probe. Australia’s deputy tax commissioner, Will Day, describes the inquiry as “unprecedented”. An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes in collaboration with The New York Times can reveal that Operation Atlantis is examining the financial transactions of Euro Pacific’s customers. Hundreds of account holders are now suspects in a tax evasion probe.

[..] It was January 2017, almost three years to the day before the ATO began knocking on doors, when Schiff and partner Mark Anderson filed into the Department de Estado – a pale-blue Spanish colonial-style building with two Puerto Rican flags adorning the front entrance — to sign documents registering their new venture. The bank’s new office is on the 10th floor of a blue-glass block that overlooks the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s in the expensive part of San Juan. But former employees speaking on the condition anonymity say the office was a bit like the bank itself. “An empty shell that has the appearance of luxury,” according to one Puerto Rican who worked there. “It was basically empty except for a few desks, chairs and the computers.”

When it opened in San Juan, Euro Pacific was one of 81 offshore banks on the island and it would become by far the biggest. Government records from the time of registration show the bank had 13,000 customer accounts and more than $232 million in deposits. Schiff himself lives there with all the trappings of colonial luxury.

Read more …

Probably a good movie.

Social Media Creators Admit It Dehumanizes People, Disrupts Social Fabric (RT)

An important new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, uses former Silicon Valley insiders to lay bare the existential threat Big Tech poses to civilization. It’s much more than a dilemma. The Social Dilemma is a remarkable documentary about social media platforms and their two billion users, and may well be the most important documentary made in America for decades. The documentary is a radical, insider-based critique of social media and the large tech companies that created it – and continue to profit handsomely from it (especially given that they are monopolies and pay little or no tax in many countries).

Directed by American filmmaker Jeff Orlowski, The Social Dilemma features interviews with a number of former tech giant executives who created the technologies and business model that underpin the social media empire. Social media has only been with us for just over ten years and most of the interviewees are in their thirties. Tristan Harris (a former Google design ethicist) and Jaron Lanier (a computer scientist) – two of the interviewees – both believe that social media and the tech leviathans have created an “existential threat” to those western societies in which they have been permitted to flourish unchecked. They believe that social media platforms dehumanize their customers, disrupt the social fabric and are destroying democracy.

The critique is all the more compelling because it is perhaps only social media and big tech insiders that have a comprehensive understanding of how the system was created and operates. Technological changes have always attracted criticism. Gustave Flaubert, the nineteenth century novelist, disliked railways because he took the view that they “permitted more people to move about, meet and be stupid together.” But this documentary is much more than a simple critique of one particular technological advance. Rather, Orlowski argues that the technology underpinning social media differs qualitatively from all earlier technological developments, and that this gives rise to serious social and political consequences.

Railways, for example, were a mere “tool” that enabled people to travel more widely – they did not dehumanize their customers; nor were they an existential threat to western society. This qualitative difference, the documentary argues, is a result of the unique technology and business model employed by the social media behemoths. According to Orlowski, the technology utilized by social media is inherently addictive and manipulative, and involves a wide-ranging surveillance of its customers of a kind previously unimaginable.

[..] Many users of social media are undoubtedly addicted to it – observe the compulsive way in which people use their phones in public. And, as the documentary points out, there are only two industries that describe their customers as “users,” the tech industry and the drug industry. Social media is clearly manipulative. Excessive use is encouraged by various “growth techniques” such as tagging photos and inviting friends. The tech giants are in constant contact with their users, bombarding them with information tailored to suit their prejudices, together with endless advertisements. Algorithms enable the extraordinarily precise targeting of users. And there is no doubt that social media engages in covert, wide-ranging and ongoing surveillance of users.

Every transaction, click and post of every user is monitored, and mountains of data are accumulated daily in underground computer vaults in Silicon Valley. Some years ago, author John Lanchester noted that “Facebook is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind….what Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads.” This brings us to the social media business model. By monitoring their users, the big tech companies accumulate vast amounts of data that enables them to attract advertisers – who are willing to pay large sums for the precise targeting that only the tech giants can provide. This is why advertisers have turned their backs on traditional media companies – who simply cannot offer them the same degree of precision targeting.

In effect, the tech behemoths sell the lives of their users to their advertisers – who are willing to pay billions of dollars for them. In just under 20 years, the tech giants have become the largest corporations in America, and they grow more prosperous by the day.

Read more …

 

 

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Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Oct 162020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1896

 

Hunter Biden Tried To Cash In Big On Behalf Of Family With Chinese Firm (NYP)
House GOP Asks If FBI Had Hunter Biden Laptop During Trump Impeachment (Fox)
Obama Conference Call Leaked To Burisma: Biden Emails (NYP)
Biden Campaign: VP May Have Had ‘Informal’ Meeting With Burisma Exec (DW)
Twitter, Facebook Protecting Biden After Execs Join Transition Team (ZH)
POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia (Escobar)
Facebook, Twitter Cross Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor (IC)
Weissmann Made Rosenstein Take Ownership of Michael Flynn Targeting (sundance)
Antiviral Drug Remdesivir Proves Ineffective In Treating COVID19 – WHO (F.)
WHO Europe Director Says Governments Should Stop Enforcing Lockdowns (PJW)

 

 

We’re in a communication vacuum. or maybe that should read: two separate vacuums. Even townhalls are not townhalls anymore. Everyone’s a liar, and everyone’s a winner.

 

 

 

 

$10 million a year. And then some.

Hunter Biden Tried To Cash In Big On Behalf Of Family With Chinese Firm (NYP)

Hunter Biden pursued lucrative deals involving China’s largest private energy company — including one that he said would be “interesting for me and my family,” emails obtained by The Post show. One email sent to Biden on May 13, 2017, with the subject line “Expectations,” included details of “remuneration packages” for six people involved in an unspecified business venture. Biden was identified as “Chair / Vice Chair depending on agreement with CEFC,” an apparent reference to the former Shanghai-based conglomerate CEFC China Energy Co. His pay was pegged at “850” and the email also noted that “Hunter has some office expectations he will elaborate.”


In addition, the email outlined a “provisional agreement” under which 80 percent of the “equity,” or shares in the new company, would be split equally among four people whose initials correspond to the sender and three recipients, with “H” apparently referring to Biden. The deal also listed “10 Jim” and “10 held by H for the big guy?” Neither Jim nor the “big guy” was identified further. The email’s author, James Gilliar of the international consulting firm J2cR, also noted, “I am happy to raise any detail with Zang if there is [sic] shortfalls ?” “Zang” is an apparent reference to Zang Jian Jun, the former executive director of CEFC China. The email is contained in a trove of data that the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware said was recovered from a MacBook Pro laptop that was dropped off in April 2019 and never retrieved.

Tucker Burisma

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They did. And nothing happened.

House GOP Asks If FBI Had Hunter Biden Laptop During Trump Impeachment (Fox)

House Republicans are calling on the FBI to reveal whether it was in possession of a laptop that reportedly contained emails by Hunter Biden during the impeachment of President Trump — and claiming the agency committed a “gross error in judgement” if it did not inform the White House. “If the FBI was, in fact, in possession of this evidence and failed to alert the White House to its existence that would have given even more weight to the president’s legal defense, this was a gross error in judgement and a severe violation of trust,” the letter says. The letter was signed by 19 House Republicans, including Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.; and Jody Hice, R-Ga.

The letter was written after the New York Post published emails suggesting that Hunter Biden introduced his father to a top executive at Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2015 — one year before his father allegedly pressured the country’s government to fire a prosecutor who had launched an investigation into the company. The Post reported that the FBI was in possession of the laptop on which the emails were found in December 2019 — right in the middle of the impeachment of President Trump over remarks he made to the Ukrainian president about Biden’s conduct in the country.

[..] “A large portion of the president’s legal defense case revolved around strong evidence that former Vice President Biden’s son Hunter was peddling his influence to his father to land lucrative jobs overseas that he might not have otherwise been qualified for,” the letter says. The lawmakers ask whether the FBI was in possession of the laptop and drive as documented in the Post, whether it took steps to authenticate the drive and the data, and if anyone at the FBI briefed officials at the Department of Justice or White House after December.

Tucker Enjeti

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A Burisma PR firm was listening in on the call. WTF?

Obama Conference Call Leaked To Burisma: Biden Emails (NYP)

The Obama administration let a Democratic p.r. company that worked for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma take part in a conference call about an upcoming visit to Ukraine by then-Vice President Joe Biden, emails obtained by The Post show. An associate at Blue Star Strategies then emailed a memo with minutes of the conference call hosted by the White House to a top Burisma executive, Vadym Pozharskyi, as well as to Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, both of whom sat on Burisma’s board. The trip, in December 2015, turned out to be the one during which Biden later bragged about forcing Ukrainian officials to fire a state prosecutor who was investigating Burisma by threatening to withhold a $1 billion US loan guarantee.


The memo, sent shortly after the Dec. 2, 2015, call, also “outlined the trip’s agenda and addressed several questions regarding US policy toward Ukraine.” Blue Star has said it began working for Burisma and contacting Ukrainian officials on its behalf in November 2015, and an email shows that on Nov. 18, 2015, Pozharskyi sent the Blue Star contract to Hunter Biden, Archer and Eric Schwerin, president of the Rosemont Seneca Partners investment firm. Hunter Biden and Archer were among RSP’s founders, along with former Secretary of State John Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, Reuters has reported. “Could you kindly have BS countersign it and forward back to me?” Pozharskyi wrote. “I am kindly asking you to schedule either a conf call or advise us as to the foreseen action plan for November-December 2015, and if anything has been already done by BS, could kindly you ask them to share with us this information?”

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Didn’t you just deny this yesterday?

Biden Campaign: VP May Have Had ‘Informal’ Meeting With Burisma Exec (DW)

The campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden admitted that it’s possible that Biden may have met with an executive for Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, during his time as vice president when his son was a board member of the company. The Biden campaign released a statement condemning reporting from the New York Post that revealed an email alleging that Biden’s son Hunter brokered a meeting between his father and Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to Burisma’s board. The campaign ruled out any official meetings between Pozharskyi and the former vice president but could not say that the two never met.


“We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told Politico. “Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing. Trump administration officials have attested to these facts under oath.” Despite the strong condemnation, Bates could not say for certain that Vice President Biden and Pozharskyi did not meet in an informal setting, however.

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They always had the power. And now they’re using it. But when Twitter suspended the Trump campaign and blocked the House Judiciary, that may have been a step too far.

Twitter, Facebook Protecting Biden After Execs Join Transition Team (ZH)

As if anyone needed more evidence of Silicon Valley’s overt political bias – just weeks before Twitter and Facebook nuked Biden corruption revelations from their platforms with the intensity of a thousand suns, executives from both companies joined the Biden transition team. [..] Perhaps the selective enforcement of content which is politically harmful to Democrats can be explained by recent hires by the Biden transition team. According to Breitbart, Twitter Public Policy Director Carlos Monje left the social media giant to join Biden’s transition team in September. He will reportedly serve as co-chair of Biden’s infrastructure policy committee, and helped organize a fundraiser for the former VP this week, according to an invitation from Politico.

Monje has worked in the world of presidential transition politics in the past, previously serving as the director of agency review on the team that prepared for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s administration, which failed to take flight. Monje also worked on the Obama administration team’s 2008 national security working group according to his LinkedIn profile. Monje also acted as deputy policy director during Obama’s first run for office and subsequently served as a senior policy advisor and special assistant to the president on the Domestic Policy Council. Monje’s final years in the administration were spent in the Transporation Department before he departed for Twitter. -Breitbart

Meanwhile in October, Biden’s transition team hired Facebook executive Jessica Hertz to its general counsel to deal with ‘ethics’ issues. Notably, Facebook was the first platform to ban the Post article – with former Democrat staffer and Facebook communications team member Andy Stone tweeting that the company would be ‘reducing its distribution.’

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“Evidence shows that on The Walking Dead’s rallies, there are more people from the Biden bus and reporters than flesh-and-blood Dem voters. ”

POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia (Escobar)

All manner of polls are circulating like whirling dervishes. Most highlight myriad Dem paths to victory and an inexorable Highway to Hell for Trump. A poll by The Economist gives Joe “Walking Dead” Biden a whopping 91% chance – remember Hillary in 2016? – of winning the Electoral College. A Dem-fueled consensus is emerging that Trump – relentlessly depicted as a deranged, lunatic proto-fascist who’s bad for business worldwide – will dispute results in any Republican-led state which he may narrowly lose, as in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Yet on the campaign trail, it’s a completely different story. Evidence shows that on The Walking Dead’s rallies, there are more people from the Biden bus and reporters than flesh-and-blood Dem voters.

The Biden-Harris campaign, demonstrating its matchless P.R. skills, spins these rallies as campaign secrets. Team Trump’s long-shot strategy seems to have been unveiled by the President himself: “We are going to be counting ballots for the next two years (…) We have the advantage if we go back to Congress. I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state.” That was a reference to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution: if state electors can’t agree on a president, the decision goes to the House. And then each of the 50 states gets one vote. So picture small GOP-controlled states such as Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (each with one Republican in the House) having the same weight as California (52 members in the House, 45 of them Democrats.)

Advantage Trump: as it stands, it’s indeed 26 to 22, with two – Pennsylvania and Michigan – basically tied. Internal GOP polls show that while the Biden-Harris campaign is not knocking on any doors, Trump volunteers have actually swarmed no less than 20 million homes in swing states. Combine it with a new Gallup Poll showing that 56% of Americans state they are better off now under Trump than four years ago under Obama/Biden. Call it the return of “It’s the economy, stupid.” The Trafalgar Group – which correctly called the 2106 election – bets that Trump narrowly wins the Electoral College with 275 votes.

JPMorgan’s top quant Marko Kolanovic has exhaustively mapped changes in voter registration to dismiss virtually every poll showing a Dem sweep. This implies that Trump may well end up winning the Holy Trinity: Pennsylvania (20 votes), Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15 votes). And to top it off, something more exotic than a black hole eating a star has happened in this October Surprise-laden week: CNN decided to practice real journalism and eviscerated Nancy Pelosi on camera. That may be quite a bad omen for President-in-Waiting Kamala Harris, who very few remember was forged as the heir to the Obama-Pelosi axis in a secret meeting in the Hamptons way back in the summer of 2017.

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@Jack is expected on Capitol Hill next week.

Facebook, Twitter Cross Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor (IC)

In sum, the two Silicon Valley giants, with little explanation, united to prevent the sharing and dissemination of this article. As Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce put it, “Facebook limiting distribution is a bit like if a company that owned newspaper delivery trucks decided not to drive because it didn’t like a story. Does a truck company edit the newspaper? It does now, apparently.” That the first amendment right of free speech is inapplicable to these questions goes without saying. That constitutional guarantee restricts the actions of governments, not private corporations such as Facebook and Twitter. But glibly pointing this out does not come close to resolving this controversy. That actions by gigantic corporations are constitutional does not mean that they are benign.

State censorship is not the only kind of censorship. Private-sector repression of speech and thought, particularly in the internet era, can be as dangerous and consequential. Imagine, for instance, if these two Silicon Valley giants united with Google to declare: henceforth we will ban all content that is critical of President Trump and/or the Republican Party, but will actively promote criticisms of Joe Biden and the Democrats. Would anyone encounter difficultly understanding why such a decree would constitute dangerous corporate censorship? Would Democrats respond to such a policy by simply shrugging it off on the radical libertarian ground that private corporations have the right to do whatever they want? To ask that question is to answer it.

To begin with, Twitter and particularly Facebook are no ordinary companies. Facebook, as the owner not just of its massive social media platform but also other key communication services it has gobbled up such as Instagram and WhatsApp, is one of the most powerful companies ever to exist, if not the most powerful. In June, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law launched an investigation into the consolidated power of Facebook and three other companies — Google, Amazon and Apple — and just last week issued a sweeping report which, as Ars Technica explained, found: “Facebook outright “has monopoly power in the market for social networking,” and that power is “firmly entrenched and unlikely to be eroded by competitive pressure” from anyone at all due to “high entry barriers—including strong network effects, high switching costs, and Facebook’s significant data advantage—that discourage direct competition by other firms to offer new products and services.”

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Bit too many screenshots would be needed. See the original.

Weissmann Made Rosenstein Take Ownership of Michael Flynn Targeting (sundance)

On June 3, 2020, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss his role in how Main Justice was operating while Andrew Weissmann’s special counsel was in charge. What he said in that hearing never quite made sense until yesterday. Those who closely followed the arc of the Weissmann/Mueller investigation; and those who joined us in following that investigation; already knew the SCO was in complete control from May 2017 to April 2019. Everything taking place inside the DOJ in the two years of the Mueller/Weissmann probe was completely and unequivocally controlled by the Weissmann team. Few journalists have ever grasped the ramifications of that control.


That control included every release and non-release of information during their two year tenure. However, Rosenstein’s tone when questioned about the scope memos he authorized during the special counsel time-frame was very odd in that June hearing. Rosenstein had a very guilty conscience and it was on full display as he attempted to justify his action. You see, there was always a missing scope memo from October 20, 2017, that no-one in the DOJ ever discussed. The nature of the scope memo was mentioned by Weissmann and Mueller in part of their Russia report; but until yesterday it was hidden. Here is the only mention of the October 20, 2017, scope memo prior to yesterday:

As you can see above the special counsel’s office used that October 20th scope memo to expand their investigative authorities. Specifically the second redacted name is very important because this specific memo authorized Andrew Weissmann to target Michael Flynn Jr as pressure to coerce a guilty plea from Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn a month later. During his apologetic senate testimony Rosenstein told congress he never questioned the authority of the special counsel team and never once questioned their “investigative process“, those are his words. Additionally, Rosenstein testified he signed all the scope memos because he felt it was his “responsibility” to facilitate the SCO needs regardless of what they requested; and every request was considered an “investigative process” by him.


Yesterday the mysteriously avoided October 20, 2017, scope memo was finally released to Catherine Herridge from the Senate Homeland Security Committee (Chairman Ron Johnson). Within the scope memo we can now see exactly what reference point Rosenstein was carrying during his June testimony. The scope memo was written by the special counsel’s office and the last page shows the motive and intent of Weissmann’s crew. Notice the tone and direction of the memo as that aspect also conveys a message; and do not overlook the specific phrase “jointly undertaken activity.” That approach was used by the SCO to target Flynn Jr.:

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“The gains Gilead experienced in the stock market during the pandemic have all but dissipated.”

Antiviral Drug Remdesivir Proves Ineffective In Treating COVID19 – WHO (F.)

The antiviral drug remdesivir had little or no effect in treating patients hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a study that has not yet been peer reviewed, but was coordinated by the World Health Organization and released on Thursday, casting doubt on one of the few promising treatments for the coronavirus. Deeming it “the world’s largest randomized control trial on Covid-19 therapeutics,” the six-month long study of four drugs—remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon—proved “unpromising.” “The main outcomes of mortality, initiation of ventilation and hospitalization duration were not clearly reduced by any study drug,” the study reads. Over 11,000 adults across 30 countries and 405 hospitals were studied to come to these results.


Regimens involving the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine have already been proven ineffective, but remdesivir appeared to be one of the few therapies to prove effective in combating Covid-19 symptoms. The WHO’s results come just a week after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found remdesivir shortened the time of recovery for adults hospitalized with Covid-19. President Trump, who contracted Covid-19 and spent time at Walter Reed hospital upon suffering from symptoms, was administered remdesivir as part of his treatment. Remdesivir is the only specific drug with an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. [..] The gains Gilead experienced in the stock market during the pandemic have all but dissipated. Its price rose as much as 29% since the start of the year before falling 3% below its position in January.

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Contradictory messages are lethal for an organization like the WHO.

WHO Europe Director Says Governments Should Stop Enforcing Lockdowns (PJW)

The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge says governments should stop enforcing lockdowns, unless as a “last resort,” because the impact on other areas of health and mental well-being is more damaging. In an interview with Euro News, Kluge cautioned against the imposition of more lockdowns unless they are “absolutely necessary.” “He says damage to other health areas, mental health, domestic violence, schools and cancer treatment is too great,” tweeted reporter Darren McCaffrey. Kluge’s warning matches that of the WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, Dr David Nabarro, who recently told the Spectator in an interview that world leaders should stop imposing lockdowns as a reflex reaction because they are making “poor people an awful lot poorer.”

It also resonates with numerous other experts who have desperately tried to warn governments that lockdowns will end up killing more people than the virus itself, but have been largely ignored. Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller, recently warned that COVID-19 lockdowns will result in “one of the biggest” hunger and poverty crises in history. “We expect an additional 400,000 deaths from malaria and HIV this year on the African continent alone,” Muller said, adding that “half a million more will die from tuberculosis.” Muller’s comments arrived months after a leaked study from inside the German Ministry of the Interior revealed that the impact of the country’s lockdown could end up killing more people than the coronavirus due to victims of other serious illnesses not receiving treatment.

Another study found that lockdowns will conservatively “destroy at least seven times more years of human life” than they save. Professor Richard Sullivan also warned that there will be more excess cancer deaths in the UK than total coronavirus deaths due to people’s access to screenings and treatment being restricted as a result of the lockdown. His comments were echoed by Peter Nilsson, a Swedish professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at Lund University, who said, “It’s so important to understand that the deaths of COVID-19 will be far less than the deaths caused by societal lockdown when the economy is ruined.” According to Professor Karol Sikora, an NHS consultant oncologist, there could be 50,000 excess deaths from cancer as a result of routine screenings being suspended during the lockdown in the UK.

Read more …

 

 

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Laura Wolk. Powerful.

 

 

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Oct 152020
 


Jan van Eyck Saint Barbara 1437

 

Hunter Biden Introduced Burisma Businessman to VP Dad (NYP)
WH Press Secretary Locked Out Of Twitter For Sharing Hunter Biden Story (NYP)
Media Reverts To Form In Responding To Biden/Burisma Report (RT)
Twitter Blocks Links To NYPost Story, Invokes ‘Hacked Materials’ Policy (RT)
Facebook’s Democratic Comms Chief Admits To Shadowbanning NYPost Story (RT)
Feds Chased Foreign Link To Trump’s 2016 Campaign Cash For 3 Years (CNN)
Laundry Operation: Bruce Ohr Left DOJ Shortly Before Being Sacked (sundance)
Judge Rules Clinton Foundation Whistleblower Complaint Can Proceed (ET)
Golden Dawn Leadership Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison (K.)
Covid Crisis Shows Trump Sees Older Voters As ‘Expendable’, Says Biden (G.)
Single Dose of 300,000 IU Vit D May Prevent, Treat COVID19 (NIH)
Putin Announces 2nd Russian Covid19 Vaccine, 3rd On The Way (RT)

 

 

What completely crazy times we wake up to find ourselves in. There’s a story about Hunter Biden based on tons of evidence found on an old laptop, a story that involves Joe Biden too, and his campaign doesn’t deny it, but merely says a meeting never took place because it wasn’t on his agenda. But then we switch immediately and seamlessly to “Russian disinformation” and Facebook and Twitter try to ban the story, close down accounts of the paper that published the story, as well as the White House press secretary and many others. Twitter evokes its “hacked materials” policy 1st time ever, without any evidence any hacking took place.

Tucker provides a decent overview. I know, it’s Tucker and it’s Fox, but in these crazy times you won’t see this dealt with in the New York Times or WaPo or CNN.

 

 

Hypothetically speaking: ACB

 

 

What’s the biggest story, that Joe and Hunter were less than honest about Burisma, or that Big Tech tries to bury that they were/are?

Hunter Biden Introduced Burisma Businessman to VP Dad (NYP)

Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to e-mails obtained by The Post. The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month. “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the e-mail reads.

An earlier e-mail from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf. The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer. The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner. Other material extracted from the computer includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.

The customer who brought in the water-damaged MacBook Pro for repair never paid for the service or retrieved it or a hard drive on which its contents were stored, according to the shop owner, who said he tried repeatedly to contact the client. The shop owner couldn’t positively identify the customer as Hunter Biden, but said the laptop bore a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation, named after Hunter’s late brother and former Delaware attorney general. Photos of a Delaware federal court subpoena given to The Post show that both the computer and hard drive were seized by the FBI in December, after the shop’s owner says he alerted the feds to their existence. But before turning over the gear, the shop owner says he made a copy of the hard drive and later gave it to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello. Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of it on Sunday.

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But here we can’t help thinking about Julian Assange: “I will not comply with censoring reporting that may not fit the ideology of Silicon Valley. This is abominable and not the American way.”

WH Press Secretary Locked Out Of Twitter For Sharing Hunter Biden Story (NYP)

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday was locked out of her personal Twitter account for sharing The Post’s bombshell cover story on Hunter Biden’s alleged hard drive and an email linking Joe Biden to his son’s job at a Ukrainian energy company. “Your account has been locked,” a message from the social media network informed McEnany, whose account has more than 1 million followers. “We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules,” the network said, highlighting her prior tweet with a link to The Post’s article. Without providing any evidence, Twitter said McEnany — who shared a screenshot with The Post — violated “our rules against distribution of hacked material.”

McEnany told The Post she will not comply with Twitter’s request that she delete her tweet to restore access to her account. “This is a story reported by the New York Post and Fox News with the Biden campaign notably not disputing the authenticity of the emails,” McEnany said. “I will not comply with censoring reporting that may not fit the ideology of Silicon Valley. This is abominable and not the American way.” Twitter on Wednesday blocked users from sharing The Post’s link to the story, which describes an alleged 2015 email from Burisma energy executive Vadym Pozharskyi thanking Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity to meet your father.”

[..] Twitter said Wednesday it prevented users from tweeting or direct-messaging a link to the article because it violated a ban on distributing hacked material, the same reason it locked McEnany’s account. The alleged Hunter Biden hard drive was given to The Post by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a personal attorney to Trump, after he received it from a Delaware computer repairman. The repairman says he legally accessed the content under an abandonment contract clause when Hunter Biden did not collect a damaged laptop within 90 days.Facebook, meanwhile, said it was taking unspecified steps to limit distribution of The Post’s article pending “fact-checking.”

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“.. the talking point that Russia “hacked Burisma in January” and was somehow the source of the documents was seriously making the rounds on Wednesday afternoon. ”

Media Reverts To Form In Responding To Biden/Burisma Report (RT)

The only thing more absurd than insisting Hunter Biden’s employment by Ukrainian gas company Burisma was above board is arguing that Russia is somehow behind the revelation it wasn’t. So of course that’s precisely what happened. A last-minute development before the November election is somewhat of a tradition in US politics, so much so there’s a name for it – “October surprise” – going back to 1980 or so. In 2016, it was supposed to be Donald Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, only to be overshadowed by the WikiLeaks publication of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails – which Democrats later blamed on Russia.

This time it seems to be the New York Post story, citing emails from a laptop found in a Delaware repair shop to claim that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden knew about his son Hunter’s involvement with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Hunter’s Burisma job was not exactly a secret, but the emails suggest his father – Barack Obama’s vice-president at the time – was aware of it, which Joe Biden had previously denied. The absolutely unhinged reaction of the media and political establishment to the Post story suggests it hit close to home. Facebook declared it would suppress it until it was vetted by “independent fact-checkers.” Twitter labeled the link to it “unsafe.”

Mainstream media journalists who dared mention it at all, even to criticize, got piled on as if violating a mafia code of silence. It did not take long for the same people who pushed the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory for years to do it again, claiming that the documents obtained by the Post were really from a “Russian hack.” The Biden campaign hasn’t actually challenged the authenticity of the emails and the photos – merely asserting that the meeting involving the VP and a Burisma executive referenced in an email wasn’t on any “official schedule.” No matter, the talking point that Russia “hacked Burisma in January” and was somehow the source of the documents was seriously making the rounds on Wednesday afternoon.

Mind you, this comes after the media establishment completely ignored the revelation that the FBI was using them – as in, media reports – to “corroborate” claims in the Clinton-funded Steele Dossier, which British spy Christopher Steele seeded in the press himself. It was a shocking example of circular reporting and comprehensive failure of both law enforcement and intelligence. Steele’s dossier was used to get warrants for spying on Trump’s campaign, which then continued for almost a year after the 2016 election – even as the FBI knew the dossier was bogus.

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A first for ‘Hacked Materials’. And again, there is no proof that anything was hacked.

Twitter Blocks Links To NYPost Story, Invokes ‘Hacked Materials’ Policy (RT)

Twitter has one-upped Facebook’s censorship regarding a story based on alleged emails from Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter about his Ukraine dealings, blocking all users from sharing it via tweet or direct message. Twitter users were blocked on Wednesday from sharing the New York Post story critical of the Bidens published just that morning. The decision was based on a never-before-invoked “hacked materials policy” that Twitter announced hours after Facebook had stomped on the same story. The Post cited emails that appeared to show Joe Biden – then vice president to Barack Obama – had met with Ukrainian Burisma exec Vadim Pozharskyi at the behest of his son and Burisma adviser Hunter Biden, less than a year before the current Democratic presidential candidate allegedly demanded Kiev fire its top prosecutor.


Twitter “errors” started pouring in just a few hours after Andy Stone, a Facebook executive with a long history of working for the Democratic Party, warned Facebook was “reducing [the Hunter Biden story’s] distribution” on its platform and seemingly invited Facebook’s fact-checkers to tear the story apart. While Twitter users were able to share the offending Post link for hours after Stone tagged it for destruction, what Twitter lacked in temporal primacy it made up in intensity. Users who attempted to share the story on Wednesday afternoon were informed they could not retweet the “potentially harmful” link. Unlike typical Twitter warning screens that can be clicked through, the link to the Post story was not even allowed to be posted.

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All together now.

Facebook’s Democratic Comms Chief Admits To Shadowbanning NYPost Story (RT)

A former Democratic Party staffer now working for Facebook has admitted to shadowbanning a viral story allegedly exposing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Ukrainian ties and has encouraged “fact-checkers” to shred it. As a New York Post story claiming Biden scion Hunter had introduced his father to a Ukrainian energy executive less than a year before the then-Vice-President pressured Kiev into firing the country’s top prosecutor swept across social media on Wednesday morning, Facebook communications exec Andy Stone announced the social media behemoth was “reducing [the story’s] distribution on our platform.”


The reduced distribution was only a temporary measure until “Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners” could stamp their seal of (dis)approval on the story, Stone clarified in a later tweet, apparently confirming he’d preemptively flagged the story as disinformation. Stone openly touts his history with the Democratic Party in his Twitter profile, which shows he worked with the House Majority Political Action Committee, California Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and California Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney.

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And came up with diddly-squat. Interesting that in this allegedly highly secretive operation, CNN has “more than a dozen sources”.

Feds Chased Foreign Link To Trump’s 2016 Campaign Cash For 3 Years (CNN)

For more than three years, federal prosecutors investigated whether money flowing through an Egyptian state-owned bank could have backed millions of dollars Donald Trump donated to his own campaign days before he won the 2016 election, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN. The investigation, which both predated and outlasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, examined whether there was an illegal foreign campaign contribution. It represents one of the most prolonged efforts by federal investigators to understand the President’s foreign financial ties, and became a significant but hidden part of the special counsel’s pursuits.

The investigation was kept so secret that at one point investigators locked down an entire floor of a federal courthouse in Washington, DC, so Mueller’s team could fight for the Egyptian bank’s records in closed-door court proceedings following a grand jury subpoena. The probe, which closed this summer with no charges filed, has never before been described publicly. Prosecutors suspected there could be a link between the Egyptian bank and Trump’s campaign contribution, according to several of the sources, but they could never prove a connection. It’s not clear that investigators ever had concrete evidence of a relevant bank transfer from the Egyptian bank. But multiple sources said there was sufficient information to justify the subpoena and keep the criminal campaign finance investigation open after the Mueller probe ended.

CNN learned of the Egypt investigation from more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort, as well as through hints in public records, including newly released court documents and Mueller witness interview summaries, called 302s, that CNN and Buzzfeed obtained through lawsuits. In a court filing last month, the Justice Department confirmed that when the special counsel’s office shut down in 2019, Mueller transferred an ongoing foreign campaign contribution investigation to prosecutors in Washington. Some of CNN’s sources have confirmed that the case, which Mueller cryptically called a “foreign campaign contribution” probe, was in fact the Egypt investigation.

The probe was confirmed this week by a Justice Department senior official who responded to CNN’s queries: “The case was first looked at by the Special Counsel investigators who failed to bring a case, and then it was looked at by the US attorney’s office, and career prosecutors in the national security section, who also were unable to bring a case. Based upon the recommendations of both the FBI and those career prosecutors, Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney, formally closed the case in July.”

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And there’s still more…

Laundry Operation: Bruce Ohr Left DOJ Shortly Before Being Sacked (sundance)

Bruce Ohr was part of the laundry operation for Fusion-GPS and Chris Steele’s dossier. Bruce’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for Glenn Simpson at Fusion-GPS feeding information to Steele for the Dossier assembly. Steele then transmitted the same information back to Bruce who then received and provided it to FBI investigators giving the patina of an official intelligence product. The FBI wrote interview notes with Bruce Ohr from a series of 15 interviews. Those “302’s” were later released as part of the information showing how the operation was being handled. Despite receiving a $28,000 bonus for his efforts, Bruce Ohr was demoted twice and then seemingly remained employed in some unknown capacity within the DOJ as the months and years progressed.

Note, analysis of the Bruce Ohr 302 documents is complex because the investigative notes need to be reviewed as simply one overlay in a series of timelines and documents. That means taking the Ohr 302’s (the content as a timeline) then comparing/overlaying them to: (1) the Bruce Ohr emails with Chris Steele; (2) the text messages with Peter Strzok and Lisa Page on the same dates as the Ohr interviews; (3) the text messages from SSCI Vice-Chairman Mark Warner and Steele’s lawyer Adam Waldman; (4) the content of the Comey memos; and (5) what was going on -inside the DC investigation- at the time these interviews were taking place. It’s a layered onion with markers that align at specific points and tell a much bigger story. Example below.

As Bruce Ohr is discussing the possibility of the “SIC” (Senate Intelligence Committee) traveling to the U.K. to interview Steele, you cross reference the committee Vice-Chair Mark Warner text messages (w/ Steele’s lawyer Adam Waldman) and the Ohr interview substance gives you the bigger picture of the conspiracy:

Now overlay Democrat Senator Mark Warner (SIC) attempting to organize a meeting with Christopher Steele without “a paper trail”, during the height of the effort to organize the ‘soft-coup’ impeachment evidence.

Keep in mind as you review, SSCI Mark Warner attempting covert contact, for the expressed political purpose of conducting a ‘soft coup’….. the Vice-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mark Warner, is also a member of a very specific group known as the oversight “Gang-of-Eight”; and has contact with the most sensitive and secret covert government operations. This is why the Weissmann/Mueller team needed to water-down the explosive connection between the activity of Warner and the SSCI to the overall operation. This is why Weissmann/Mueller released those text messages on Feb 9, 2018, to coordinate a cover-story for the back-channel communication.

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“..Based on their research, Doyle and Moynihan believe the Clintons owe taxes on between $400 million and $2.5 billion..”

Judge Rules Clinton Foundation Whistleblower Complaint Can Proceed (ET)

A federal judge on Oct. 8 ruled that a whistleblower complaint against the Clinton Foundation can proceed, saying that the IRS “abused its discretion” in attempting to dismiss allegations of wrongdoing by the nonprofit organization. U.S. Tax Court Judge David Gustafson last week found that the complaint, brought by whistleblowers Lawrence Doyle, a corporate tax compliance expert, and John Moynihan. a former Drug Enforcement Agency official, “provided ‘specific credible documentation’ supporting their allegations” that the Clinton Foundation potentially evaded paying taxes on millions if not billions of dollars. The judge struck down the IRS’s request for a summary judgment.

He said that its Whistleblower Office (WBO) was wrong in denying the whistleblowers’ claims, based on an email from the agency’s Criminal Investigation (CI) office that said the complaint was closed. The record “fails to support the WBO’s conclusion that CI hadn’t proceeded with any action based on petitioners’ information. Accordingly, we deny the motion on the grounds that the WBO abused its discretion in reaching its conclusion, because not all of its factual determinations underlying that conclusion are supported by that record,” Gustafson wrote. Gustafson also said that based on evidence, he had reason to believe that the FBI was involved in an IRS investigation. He cited information contained within IRS records that had until now been kept from the public, in which Doyle and Moynihan discuss their contacts with law enforcement officials.

[..] Based on their research, Doyle and Moynihan believe the Clintons owe taxes on between $400 million and $2.5 billion; if the IRS finds that the foundation isn’t a charity, its donors might also be liable for taxes owed on their contributions. They also said that, while not looking for this specifically, they did find instances of “pay-to-play” behavior between the donors, the foundation, and Hillary Clinton’s position as secretary of state, which she held from 2009 to 2013.

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Apparently there is still a Golden Dawn member in the European Parliament.

Golden Dawn Leadership Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison (K.)

A Greek court sentenced the leadership of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party to 13 years in prison Wednesday, imposing the near-maximum penalty for running a criminal organization blamed for numerous violent hate crimes. Presiding judge Maria Lepenioti read out the sentences against party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and seven other former lawmakers. The landmark ruling follows a five-year trial of dozens of top officials, members and supporters of Golden Dawn, an organization founded as a neo-Nazi group in the 1980s that rose to become Greece’s third-largest political during a major financial crisis in the previous decade.


Eleven other former parliament members were jailed for between five and seven years for membership of a criminal organization, while a party associate was given a life sentence for the murder of Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas in a 2013 attack that triggered the crackdown against the party. Arrests will be carried out after the court hears final arguments for probation considerations.

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That’s probably just you and Nancy, Joe.

Covid Crisis Shows Trump Sees Older Voters As ‘Expendable’, Says Biden (G.)

Joe Biden has said Donald Trump views older voters as “expendable” and “forgettable” as the Democratic presidential candidate sought to win fresh support in the battleground state of Florida. Biden’s visit on Tuesday came a day after the president’s own trip to Florida – his first outside Washington since his Covid-19 diagnosis. Speaking to about 50 people at a socially distanced event in Broward County in South Florida, Biden said Trump had recklessly dismissed the threat that the virus had posed to their at-risk population. “To Donald Trump, you’re expendable. You’re forgettable. You’re virtually nobody. That’s how he sees seniors. That’s how he sees you,” Biden said.

He added said he was disappointed that Trump’s bout with the virus had not left him more chastened about his approach to the pandemic. “The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get,” Biden said. “Thank God we only have three weeks left to go.” A Biden win in Florida would seriously jeopardise the president’s chances of re-election, and most recent opinion polls show the Democrat ahead with key demographic groups in the state, particularly seniors. Trump won Florida in 2016 by 1.2 percentage points.

An Opinium Research and Guardian opinion poll shows Biden’s lead over Trump surging to a record 17 points. Some 57% of likely voters said they intended to vote for Biden, while just 40% say they would vote for the incumbent president. The 17-point gap is even bigger than than 57%-41% margin found by CNN earlier this month.

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Published at the NIH website.

Single Dose of 300,000 IU Vit D May Prevent, Treat COVID19 (NIH)

Abstract: There is no specific and effective medication for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and avaccine is not available in recent months. Here, we hypothesize that a single large dose of vitamin D (Vit D) could be an option for trial in COVID-19. Vit D deficiency or insufficiency is very common in the general population as well as in patients with COVID-19. It has been shown that low Vit D level is associated with viral infection, and Vit D supplementation is beneficial for people infected with viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis C virus. Although COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, the morbidity and mortality of this disease are driven by coagulopathy. Clinical studies have shown that Vit D can exert anticoagulant effects. Vit D, a lipid-soluble vitamin, can be administered as a draught. Vit D supplementation is safe and has rare toxic events. In addition, the cost of Vit D is fairly low. Based on these observations, we speculate that a single dose of 300,000 IU Vit D may have a role in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

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“..the president expressed his will for all doses produced in Russia to remain within the country..”

Putin Announces 2nd Russian Covid19 Vaccine, 3rd On The Way (RT)

President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia has registered its second domestic Covid-19 vaccine, with a third already on the way. A phase-three trial, with 40,000 volunteers, is due to begin in the near future. In August, Russia was the first country to announce the registration of a Covid-19 vaccine, which has since been taken by thousands of Muscovites, as part of its final trial phase. With a second formula registered and another around the corner, Russia will soon have a wide range of options. The name of the new vaccine is EpiVacCorona and it is being produced in Siberia by Vector, a biological research center. Located near the city of Novosibirsk, Vector is a world-class virology and biotechnology facility, and has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of viruses, including Ebola, SARS, and smallpox.


According to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, 60,000 doses of the vaccine are due to be released soon. She also said that 40,000 volunteers will participate in a third-phase clinical trial, including people over 65 years-old. Thus far, just 100 volunteers have taken the vaccine. Speaking to Golikova, the president expressed his will for all doses produced in Russia to remain within the country, explaining that formulas for the use of foreign nations should be made abroad. The third vaccine is being produced by the Chumakov Federal Scientific Center, in Moscow. According to Alexander Ryzhikov, the head of Vector’s zoonotic infections and influenza department, the second Russian vaccine should create immunity for at least six months, and is made in a way that people can be vaccinated multiple times. “It forms a targeted immune response, and there is no need to worry about (the) long-term effects of revaccination,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 082020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1944

 

Pence Responds to Charlottesville Very Fine People Hoax at VP Debate (Pollak)
Trump: All US Troops Should Be Withdrawn From Afghanistan By Christmas (JTN)
Mike Flynn Seeks To Remove Judge Overseeing Case, Alleging Bias (JTN)
“A Means Of Distracting The Public” (Turley)
Despite MSM And Establishment Bias Against Trump, He’ll Still Win (Feierstein)
Trump Orders Russiagate Documents Declassified (Ray McGovern)
Is Warren Buffett the Wallet Behind Black Lives Matter? (Tablet)
The Constitutional Reckoning of State Lockdown Orders (AIER)
Golden Dawn Leader And Ex-MPs Found Guilty In Landmark Trial (G.)
Why Did Golden Dawn’s Neo-Nazi Leaders Get Away With It For So Long? (G.)
Reporters Claim Facebook is Censoring Information on Julian Assange Case (MPN)
Movie-Going Could ‘Become Extinct’ Warns Director (BBC)

 

 

Didn’t see the VP debate, but did see the reactions, tons of them. Pretty sure nobody really listened, and nobody learned a thing. Because those reactions are as split along party lines as the whole country is. Dems think Kamala did great, Reps think Pence demolished her.

All perfectly exemplified by the “very fine people” hoax. Both Biden and Kamala brought it up again. There is no clearer illustration of America’s divide than them being able to use a long deconstructed line again and again. Their supporters simply haven’t seen or read how ludicrous the whole thing is. Because their media won’t tell them. This happens on both sides, obviously.

Another example is the very strange play around fracking, where both Biden and Harris have in the past said they would ban it, and now say they won’t. Apparently this is because of the battle for Pennsylvania. Opportunism.

 

 

Banning fracking

 

 

 

 

“Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together ..”

There are people who believe that? Wow. Trump brings the people together, in that everyone focuses on him. But Biden?

Pence Responds to Charlottesville Very Fine People Hoax at VP Debate (Pollak)

At long last, the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax has been deflated on the national stage. At the vice presidential debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) attempted to repeat the false claim that President Trump failed to condemn white supremacists on the debate stage, and the false claim that Trump called neo-Nazis in the 2017 Charlottesville riots “very fine people.” Harris said: “Last week, the President of the United States took a debate stage in front of 70 million Americans and refused to condemn white supremacists [sic].” She then proceeded to twist Trump’s words in which told the Proud Boys — whom Joe Biden had brought up — to “stand down and stand by,” using terms similar to those moderator Chris Wallace had used in his question prompt.

Harris then recited the infamous hoax, among other hoaxes: “He called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” [sic]. He instituted, as his first act, a “Muslim ban” [sic]. He — on the issue of Charlottesville, where people were peacefully protesting [sic] the need for racial justice, where a young woman* was killed, and on the other side, there were neo-Nazis, carrying tiki torches, shouting racial epithets, antisemitic slurs, and Donald Trump, when asked about it, said: “There were fine people on both sides.” This is who we have as the President of the United States — and America, you deserve better. Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together and recognizes the beauty in our diversity, and the fact that we have so much more in common than what separates us.”

Wednesday night’s moderator, Susan Page of USA Today, gave Pence a chance to reply. He said: “You know, I think this is one of the things that makes people dislike the media so much in this country, Susan, is that you selectively edit — just like Senator Harris did — the comments that President Trump and I and others on our side of the aisle make. I mean — Senator Harris conveniently omitted, after the president made comments about people on either side of the debate over monuments, he condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, and has done so repeatedly. You’re concerned that he “doesn’t condemn neo-Nazis”? President Trump has Jewish grandchildren! His daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. This is a president who respects and cherishes all of the American people.” Pence was correct. Trump said the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville should be “condemned totally.”

Read more …

Let’s go!

Trump: All US Troops Should Be Withdrawn From Afghanistan By Christmas (JTN)

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted that the United States should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by Christmas. “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” the president tweeted. Reuters reported that earlier on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that the U.S. presently has fewer than 5,000 troops in Afghanistan and will decrease the level to 2,500 by early 2021. Foreign forces are slated to depart from Afghanistan by May of next year in connection with an agreement struck between America and the Taliban, if a ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government sticks, Military Times reports.

“war made the state, and the state made war”
– Charles Tilly

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The judge was quoting Rachel Maddow?!

Mike Flynn Seeks To Remove Judge Overseeing Case, Alleging Bias (JTN)

In a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud, lawyers for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday filed a motion to disqualify U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan from considering the request to dismiss their client’s case, arguing the jurist has demonstrated “contempt and disdain for the defense.” The filing by attorneys Sidney Powell and Jesse Binnall came after the defense and judge clashed several times at a hearing last week. It also follows Flynn, retire Army lieutenant general, having tried to get an appeals court to issue a writ of mandamus forcing Sullivan to immediately dismiss the case. The defense won an initial ruling by a three-judge panel before it was reversed by the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals after Sullivan appealed.


In the new motion, the defense lawyers argued that Sullivan met the standard for dismissal or recusal because he created the appearance of bias “when he actively litigated against General Flynn” in the appeals court. “He has since far exceeded it – rising to the level of demonstrating actual bias,” the lawyers wrote, citing Sullivan’s comments during last week’s hearing. “The court’s contempt and disdain for the defense was palpable throughout the hearing on September 29, 2020, including when defense counsel made an oral motion for his immediate disqualification, which he refused to allow even to be fully stated for the record.”

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“When asked about this referral involving a candidate for the presidency, then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that it “didn’t ring a bell.”

“A Means Of Distracting The Public” (Turley)

My interest in this story is not simply the serious underlying allegation but the lack of coverage by major networks or media outlets. This was clearly released at this time for political purposes, but that does not make it a non-story. We have often discussed concerns over the active effort by many in the media to downplay stories that would either help President Donald Trump or hurt the Democrats in the upcoming elections. This would seem such a case. Whether this is true or a complete fabrication, it should be major news. In the meantime, the responses from Clinton allies have not addressed the substance of the document before simply dismissed any inquiries. Brennan’s handwritten notes would seem extremely serious on their face. It certainly indicates that Brennan considered the issue sufficiently serious to brief the President of the United States on July 28th.

The notes state “We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED]. . . CITE [summarizing] alleged approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.” There is also a notation reading “Any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia” and margin references to “JC,” “Denis,” and “Susan.” If Brennan thought this was serious enough to brief the President, shouldn’t the media consider this sufficiently serious to investigate and report? This release further supports a newly-declassified document with the Senate Judiciary Committee revealing that, in September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral on Hillary Clinton purportedly approving “a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections” in order to distract the public from her email scandal.

When asked about this referral involving a candidate for the presidency, then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that it “didn’t ring a bell.” Once again, my initial interest is in the utter blackout on the story. This would seem a major story regardless of the ultimate findings. If these notes have been fabricated or misrepresented, it would show a breathtaking effort to lie to the voters before the election. If these notes are genuine, it would indicate that the FBI was aware of an effort by the Democratic presidential candidate to tag Trump with a Russian collusion scandal. We know that Clinton’s campaign funded the Steele dossier and that Steele shopped the dossier with the media to try to generate coverage to influence the election.

Throughout the campaign, and for many weeks after, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the dossier that was later used to secure a secret surveillance warrant against Trump associates during the Obama administration. Journalists later discovered that the Clinton campaign hid the payments to Fusion as a “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel at the time said that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias had “vigorously” denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’”

Times reporter Maggie Haberman likewise wrote: “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.” Even when Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was questioned by Congress on the matter, he denied any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who helped devise contract. Later, confronted with the evidence, Clinton and her campaign finally admitted that the dossier was a campaign-funded document that was pushed by Steele and others to the media.

Ron Paul: The Democrats have been caught

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“Biden scoffed and rambled non-sequiturs that had nothing to do with the questions asked, and the impudent ‘debate moderator’ Chris Wallace let Biden slide.”

Despite MSM And Establishment Bias Against Trump, He’ll Still Win (Feierstein)

A dark week has seen the MSM turn a blind eye to Democrat failings and exaggerate the extent and severity of Donald Trump’s illness. But I remain convinced that he will have the last laugh on November 3 when he is re-elected. As the battle for the White House intensifies, major storylines emerged over the last week that should have a major role in deciding the outcome of the election, but simply aren’t being given serious coverage by the MSM. The first came in the form of Joe Biden, a presidential ghost candidate who appeared on a debate stage refusing to answer any substantive policy questions. Instead of calling him out on this, the media ran cover for him by refusing to ask any probative questions.

Secondly, as Biden was proclaiming himself ‘the Democratic Party’, Congress was disclosing that a $3.5-million payment was made from the widow of Moscow’s ex-mayor for the benefit of his son Hunter Biden. More information also came to light regarding Hunter Biden’s employment by Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma. And thirdly, previously unseen documents were declassified that allegedly show Hillary Clinton was behind the Russiagate scandal, and that people in the US cannot trust the FBI. This is all dark, very dark. Not even Hollywood or Fellini could write a script like this. During the most contentious presidential debate in a hundred years, Biden refused to answer whether he or his administration would set objectives to end the US Senate filibuster, stack the Supreme Court, add four senators to the US Senate or end the Electoral College.

He even refused to identify his picks for the Supreme Court of the United States. Biden scoffed and rambled non-sequiturs that had nothing to do with the questions asked, and the impudent ‘debate moderator’ Chris Wallace let Biden slide. The US Senate released documents showing that Hunter Biden received a $3.5-million wire-transfer from Elena Baturina, the widow of Moscow’s ex-mayor Yury Luzhkov, who was fired for corruption. When confronted about this, Biden stumbled, repeating a lie: “That’s a lie…It has been debunked.”

No, Joe, it happened – as did Hunter’s employment by Burisma holdings, one of Ukraine’s most controversial corporations. Hunter, with no experience in the energy sector, was paid nearly one million dollars by Burisma. Why? Was it buying influence from the Obama administration’s vice president who was charged with distributing a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine? A vice president who boasted on national TV about threatening to withhold that billion dollars if the prosecutor investigating Biden’s son and Burisma was not fired. This is real banana republic stuff.

Read more …

“54 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the CIA and FBI demanded more time to decide what secrets to keep hiding – and a chastened President Trump bowed to their power.”

Trump Orders Russiagate Documents Declassified (Ray McGovern)

Home alone yesterday evening, and apparently emboldened by the steroids he is now taking, President Donald Trump sent out a storm of Tweets that included a unprecedentedly bold challenge to the FBI and CIA to stop their foot dragging and declassify documents related to Russiagate and Hillary Clinton. It was probably his plummeting poll numbers as much as the steroids that accounted for his rhetorical forcefulness, but Trump has now openly thrown down the gauntlet to the National Security State. Yes, he is the president, but he is not likely to prevail. What the president-elect didn’t know on Jan. 3, 2017, when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer publicly warned that the intelligence community “has six ways to Sunday” to thwart a president, he does know now.

Trump understands that taking on the FBI and CIA is inherently risky. His public upbraiding and instructions to them on Twitter should be seen as a sign of desperation. Trump is likely to come across as impulsive and impotent in the weeks remaining before the election because — if past is precedent — the security agencies will probably double-down on slow-walking his declassification demands. The stakes are high for senior officials of the FBI, CIA and Justice Department. Remember: they fully expected Hillary Clinton to win in 2016; they took liberties with the law to make sure she did; and, when she didn’t, they had to hustle to hide their tracks.

[..] On Oct. 21, 2017, Trump tweeted that in accordance with a law passed by Congress, “I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.” Six days later, came a headline in The Washington Post: “JFK files: The promise of revelations derailed by CIA, FBI.” Trump’s decision to delay release of 30,000 of the potentially most sensitive files for another six months frustrated historians. The issue was supposed to be revisited in 180 days, but nothing further was heard of it. Thus, 54 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the CIA and FBI demanded more time to decide what secrets to keep hiding – and a chastened President Trump bowed to their power.

It will take more than a presidential Tweet to get recalcitrant players like FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel, and the powerful institutions they lead, to comply. Wray has been a major stumbling block and will remain inclined to give priority to protecting his former colleagues. Haspel, who reportedly was directly involved in the off-shore Russiagate operations from her perch as CIA chief of station, London, has her own derriere, as well as those of her fellow workers, to protect. Trump could have already fired both for slow-walking release of evidence. He could also fire them now, of course, but it is doubtful that, even on steroids, he would have the temerity to do so.

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The article says it’s Buffett’s son. Plus a lot of large companies.

Is Warren Buffett the Wallet Behind Black Lives Matter? (Tablet)

In July of 2013, the seeds of the most powerful protest movement of the modern era were planted. In a restless climate of nationwide demonstrations touched off by the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an activist named Alicia Garza uttered the phrase “Black lives matter.” A few months later, in October 2013, Garza took a job with an organization called the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the nonprofit immediately saw a dramatic increase in its funding from organizations tied to some of the wealthiest people in the world—people with names like Buffett, Soros, and Rockefeller.

This spring, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the movement became a global interest: Some 1.1 million individual donations worth an estimated $33 million flowed into its coffers. Large corporations, especially in Silicon Valley and retail, have been quick to follow suit, with brands like Square, Ubisoft, Google, Spanx, Tom’s Shoes, Lululemon, Nike, and Anastasia Beauty all making six- and seven-figure organizational pledges.

The received wisdom, echoing the official mythology around Black Lives Matter Global Network Inc.—co-founded by Garza along with fellow activists Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors—is that BLM is a grassroots movement that rose up organically out of the widespread rage sparked by viral videos of Black American men killed by police officers. According to this account, the political priorities of activists in Brooklyn screaming at cops and calling to defund the police have been fused with those of suburban moms in Peloton T-shirts, hand-painting signs with their kids using the BLM hashtags of large multinational conglomerates—an unusual union of protesters and the corporate boardroom spurred on by nothing more than everyone’s shared outrage over racism.

There is, however, another version of events, in which the heartfelt dedication to racial justice is only the forward-facing side of a more complicated movement. Behind the street level activism and emotional outpouring is a calculated machinery built by establishment money and power that has seized on racial politics, in which some of the biggest capitalists in the world are financially backing a group of self-described “trained Marxists”—a label that Cullors enthusiastically applies to herself and the group’s other co-founders.

These bedfellows, whose stories and fortunes are never publicly presented as related, are in reality intertwined under the umbrella of a fiscal sponsor named the International Development Exchange. A modestly endowed West Coast nonprofit with origins in the Peace Corps—which for decades supported local farmers, shepherds, and agricultural workers across the Global South—IDEX has, in the past six years, been transformed into two distinct new things: the infrastructure back end to the Black Lives Matter organization in the United States and also, at the very same time, an investment fund vehicle driven by recruited MBAs and finance experts seeking to leverage decades of on-the-ground grantee relationships for novel forms of potentially problematic lending instruments . And it did so with help from the family of one of the most famous American billionaires in history—the Oracle of Omaha himself.

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“This unilateral and unauthorized exercise of power without legislative oversight was what the court deemed unconstitutional.”

The Constitutional Reckoning of State Lockdown Orders (AIER)

On October 3rd NPR reported that the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency and the powers it granted. NPR writes: “In a 4-3 majority opinion, the state’s high court said she did not have that authority. “We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government– including its plenary police powers– and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely,” wrote Justice Stephen J. Markman on behalf of the majority.”

Governor Whitmer has been one of the more heavy-handed executive figures during the pandemic. One of her policies went as far as to ban the selling of gardening supplies in stores that were still permitted to stay open. More importantly, however, this court ruling was not the first of its kind but the third in a series of legal victories against lockdown orders. The first was a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that declared parts of Governor Tony Evers’ stay at home order unconstitutional and the second was by a federal court that struck down Governor Tom Wolf’s policies in Pennsylvania. There is no doubt that the governors across the country have gone off the constitutional deep end in response to Covid-19, exercising powers that are not only unprecedented but unproven.

These cases, notably in Michigan and Wisconsin, all share some important legal themes that may suggest the beginning of a constitutional reckoning for governors across America. Back in March, Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic, much like many others across the country. Unlike many other governors, hers was particularly strict and arbitrary. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, an organization that represented a number of healthcare firms in a suit against the state write: “One of the affected medical practices, Grand Health Partners, operates in the Grand Rapids area. It performs endoscopies and other elective surgeries, many of which were deemed nonessential by executive order. Due to the shutdown, many of their patients were not able to receive treatment and have suffered because of it.”

This is one of the many unintended consequences that come with policies such as stay at home orders and deeming certain businesses “nonessential.” Interestingly, this had little to do with the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling. Such claims would be justified under the equal protection clause guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. However, the court decided to take a different route. The court ruled that the governor lacked the very authority to continue her state of emergency. The Michigan legislature authorized the governor to declare a state of emergency in March but only until April 30. Governor Whitmer decided to invoke the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) of 1945 as well as the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to grant herself virtually unlimited power. This unilateral and unauthorized exercise of power without legislative oversight was what the court deemed unconstitutional.

Read more …

Good day for Greece. Because it took five years, many had doubted it would happen.

Golden Dawn Leader And Ex-MPs Found Guilty In Landmark Trial (G.)

A Greek court has delivered an overwhelming conviction against Golden Dawn, finding the neo-fascist party guilty of operating a criminal gang that brutally targeted opponents under the guise of being a political group. At the end of a trial launched more than five years ago, the three-member tribunal headed by presiding judge Maria Lepenioti, announced that seven of Golden Dawn’s leaders were culpable of directing the deadly organisation. Others were found guilty of the lesser charge of participating in the criminal gang. The judgement was met with jubilation by thousands who had gathered around the heavily guarded court complex ahead of the verdict chanting “Nazis belong to prison.” Many broke into spontaneous applause as news of the decision reached the street.

“This is a very good day for the anti-fascist movement globally,” said Petros Constantinou, a prominent anti-racist activist. “The decision will send a very important message to the far right in Europe. A conviction today is vital if we are to end the fascist threat. The evidence against them is overwhelming.” The hearing has been the biggest trial of neo-fascists since the prosecution of the Nazis at Nuremberg after the second world war. Two thousand police officers, many brought in as backup from the countryside amid fears of violent clashes between the protestors and far right supporters, surrounded the area as helicopters and drones flew overhead. The leftist former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who was in the crowd, said after years of sowing hate, poisoning Greek society and orchestrating murderous attacks, Golden Dawn fanatics would finally face justice.

“They are not innocent. We all know that,” he wrote on social media ahead of the three-member tribunal’s decision. “On Wednesday we ought to be there to shout it loud and clear. We owe it to the history of this country, we owe it to democracy, we owe it to our children.” The long-awaited verdict ends one of the longest court hearings in modern times. Golden Dawn’s entire leadership, including former MPs, were among 68 defendants accused of murder, weapons possession and operating a criminal gang while also masquerading as a political group. Those charged with directing the criminal organisation face sentences of up to 15 years in prison. If found guilty of additional crimes, the jail terms handed down by the criminal court are likely to be longer although justice officials said it may take several days of legal proceedings before they are formally announced.

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Countries with far-right regimes in their past always see remnants left over once that regime is toppled.

Why Did Golden Dawn’s Neo-Nazi Leaders Get Away With It For So Long? (G.)

In the end, the leader of a party whose supporters threatened “civil war” and to turn the skins of immigrants into lampshades could not even bring himself to face judgment in person. Nikolaos Michaloliakos, like other senior members of Golden Dawn, was absent from court in Athens yesterday as a judge read out a series of damning verdicts on the neo-Nazi party he leads. Golden Dawn, which shot to prominence amid Europe’s economic crisis a decade ago, and is responsible for a years-long campaign of violence and intimidation against immigrants, LGBTQ communities and political opponents, was found to be a criminal organisation.

Seven of the party’s former MPs, including Michaloliakos, have been found guilty of directing the organisation, while a range of members are guilty of crimes including murder, attempted murder and possession of weapons. Some now face sentences of up to 15 years in prison. It is the culmination of a lengthy court process that some campaigners have called the largest trial of Nazis since Nuremberg, triggered by the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist Greek rapper, in 2013 – at a time when the party was Greece’s third-largest political force. The trial, which lasted more than five years, has already effectively stopped Golden Dawn from operating. The verdict now offers Greece the chance to close a painful chapter in its recent history.

Born of the fascist milieu surrounding the far-right military dictatorship that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974, Golden Dawn was given its greatest opportunity by the global financial crash of 2008. As Greece struggled from a profound economic slump, and public anger grew at the remedy insisted on by the European Union – austerity – the party attracted unprecedented support. It chose familiar targets to blame for Greece’s predicament: immigrants and refugees, out-of-touch politicians and a global banking elite. But this far-right rhetoric was backed up by a paramilitary-style organisation that operated in parallel to the political party, and a cult-like devotion to Nazi beliefs. As Golden Dawn grew, assault squads of uniformed members, sometimes armed, sought to take over neighbourhoods in Greek towns and cities by attacking and intimidating parts of the local population. Much of the violence was carried out openly – yet for years it went unpunished.

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“I have never seen anything on this scale before. 90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange..”

Reporters Claim Facebook is Censoring Information on Julian Assange Case (MPN)

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and longtime confidant of Julian Assange, has been fastidiously reporting on the Australian publisher’s extradition hearing to the United States. Yet few people have been reading it. This, according to Murray, is because of a deliberate decision by online media giants to downplay or suppress discussion of the case. On his blog, Murray wrote that he usually receives around 50 percent of his readers from Twitter and 40 percent from Facebook links, but that has dropped to 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively during the hearing. While the February hearings sent around 200,000 readers to his site daily, now that figure is only 3,000.


To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline,” he added. Asked about the situation by former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, Murray explained that Anybody who is at all radical or takes any view of anything that is outwith the official establishment view gets used to occasional shadow banning, but I have never seen anything on this scale before.”“90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange,” he added. “I think it is as simple as that.”

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Theater owners say they can survive IF they are provided new movies to show.

Movie-Going Could ‘Become Extinct’ Warns Director (BBC)

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has said that movie-going is facing a real threat of extinction. Her new superhero movie has been delayed three times during the coronavirus pandemic. Jenkins is among dozens of top Hollywood directors appealing to the US government to provide a financial lifeline to cinemas. Her warning comes as cinemas in the UK are also struggling with a recent spate of delayed film releases. “If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process,” she said in an interview with Reuters news agency. “We could lose movie theatre-going forever.” Cinemas across the world are struggling financially with tough Covid-19 social restrictions limiting customers, along with a lack of blockbuster movies to attract them.


In the US, the National Association of Theatre Owners said 69% of small and mid-sized cinema companies could be forced to file for bankruptcy or shut down permanently. America is the world’s biggest movie market in terms of box office revenues, with China catching up rapidly. Jenkins said widespread closures would lead Hollywood studios to stop investing in films for cinemas, and turn to online streaming instead. “It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry,” she added. “Where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can’t be profitable.”

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 212020
 


Elliott Erwitt New York City, USA 1955

 

Many People Unexposed To Coronavirus Have Immune Cells For COVID19 (SMH)
The Speech Joe Biden Has Been Preparing For His Entire Life (Taibbi)
Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges (Sirota)
72% of Detroit’s Absentee Ballot Counts Were Off (DN)
Johnson, Grassley Blast Colleagues For ‘False Narratives’ About Ukraine (JTN)
“I Have A Right To Make Sure That My Home Is Secure” (ZH)
28 Million Americans on Unemployment Insurance, 17.5% of Labor Force (WS)
CEOs Get Big Pre-Bankruptcy Bonuses As Lenders and Employees Stiffed (NC)
Facebook Delenda Est (Ben Hunt)
Florida To Release 750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (BBC)
‘Bored’ Ravens Straying From Tower Of London Signal Monarchy May Fall (G.)

 

 

It’s not that long ago that it seemed impossible the US would do better than the world in new cases numbers. But here we are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author of this particular take on T-cells can’t seem to make up his mind if this is a good thing or not.

Many People Unexposed To Coronavirus Have Immune Cells For COVID19 (SMH)

Evidence is emerging worldwide showing between 20 and 50 per cent of people who have never been exposed to COVID-19 have immune cells that can recognise and react to the virus. The discovery of T cell cross-reactivity has excited immunologists, who hope it could explain some of the mysteries that surround the virus, such as why some people get so much sicker than others. But scientists caution that it is not yet clear what the discovery means for human health. Australian National University’s head of immunology and infectious diseases, Professor David Tscharke, said: “It’s the good, the bad and the ugly – it could help, it could do nothing, or it could make COVID-19 worse.” Professor Tscharke said the cross-reactive T cells might help to fight off the virus, or they might get in the way of the immune system, making the disease worse, a phenomenon known as “original antigenic sin”.


SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (yellow) emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in a US National Institutes of Health lab. CREDIT:AP

Typically, the human adaptive immune system relies on precision. Antibodies, for example, have to be exactly the right shape to stick to a particular virus and kill it. T cells hunt for tiny fragments of virus protein – as small as eight amino acids long, in a virus that could have thousands of them – that identify a virus has infected a cell. If two viruses share protein fragments, T cells will attack both. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, shares much of its genetic code, including many of its proteins, with four coronaviruses in frequent circulation among humans. Dr Corey Smith, head of the translational and human immunology laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said some sections of the genetic codes were virtually identical.


They cause the common cold and are extremely common – more than 90 per cent of people have been exposed to them. Scientists suspect some people who have been exposed to these viruses develop T cells that can also target SARS-CoV-2. Monash University’s head of microbiology, Professor Stephen Turner, said that in the best-case scenario, cross-reactive T cells do offer some protection. “That’s why we might be seeing so much asymptomatic infection. If there is a level of protection, due to previous exposure, you have less symptoms – because you’re limiting the amount of virus that can grow,” he said. During the 2009 influenza pandemic, scientists found people who had cross-reactive T cells to that virus were less likely to suffer severe symptoms. Professor Turner said T cells needed the right signals to be activated. It was possible SARS-CoV-2 did not trigger them, or they were in the wrong place to fight the infection.

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“Start your livers..”

The Speech Joe Biden Has Been Preparing For His Entire Life (Taibbi)

The DNC drinking game Monday night was so painful (and Tuesday was worse), that I’ve decided to shorten the game tonight to cover Joe Biden’s acceptance speech only. I watched Biden speak probably a half-dozen times during the primary campaign, and perhaps a half-dozen times before. He has definite tendencies, and his stump speech hits the same six or seven notes every time, but convention addresses are different. Every line, every word, will be scripted. There shouldn’t be ad-libs, freak-outs at hecklers, etc. Guessing what an unscripted Joe Biden will do at any given moment is pretty interesting. Here we’re basically trying to guess what Biden and his handlers have decided to put on a teleprompter. Biden will be speaking sometime after 9 p.m. I will be live-streaming with Katie Halper. Details to follow.


Drink EVERY TIME:
• Biden says, “Folks.”
• Biden says, “The United States of America.” Double-shots for any multiple-America construction, e.g. “The best America is an America where Americans believe in the American dream.”
• Biden says, “Middle-class.”
• Biden says, “Get up!” as in, “Folks, you’ve got to get up! This is the United States of America!”
• Biden says, “You guys.”
• Biden says, “Barack” or references the “Obama-Biden administration.”
• Biden says, “Soul of America.”
• Biden points out a surprising percentage of something, e.g. “Look, folks, seventy-four percent of venture capital goes to four cities.”
• Biden says, “My Mom used to say” or mentions one of his father’s relatable jobs, e.g. “He sold a hell of a lot of cars!”
• Biden makes a self-deprecating joke about his age or his tendency to say puzzling things.
• Biden finishes a section of his speech with a rhetorical flourish, and he sounds angry, and you can’t tell why, because he’s talking about something non-angering.
• Biden tells a story about a rewarding interaction with an ordinary person, as in, “I walk over to the guy up in the bucket. And there’s seven guys around him, all with hard hats on. I yelled up and said, ‘Hey, man, thanks!’”
• Biden references a job you’ve never heard of, as in “Why is a sandwich maker being forced to sign a non-compete clause?”
• Biden says “systemic.”
• Biden tells us there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

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If David Sirota keeps this up, they’ll ban him from the party.

Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges (Sirota)

The Democratic convention has sucked up all the political oxygen in America — so much so, that most people missed Team Biden signaling that it may back off the entire agenda it is campaigning on. This monumental declaration went almost completely unnoticed for an entire day — which is a genuinely disturbing commentary on how the biggest of big political news gets routinely ignored. To review the situation: earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that Biden’s “campaign rolled out a $3.5 trillion economic program over the past month” — one that “promises to invest in clean energy and caregiving, buy more made-in-America goods, and start narrowing the country’s racial wealth gaps.” This, said the news service, was proof that Biden no longer adhered to an ideology of austerity and deficit hawkery — which would be good news.

But then on the eve of Biden’s convention speech, the Democratic nominee’s top aide suggested to Washington reporters that, in fact, that’s not true. Here’s the key excerpt: Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, a Biden confidant who succeeded him in the Senate, predicted during a Wall Street Journal Newsmakers Live interview Tuesday that a large increase in federal spending would be difficult to achieve in 2021. “When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” said Mr. Kaufman, who is leading Mr. Biden’s transition team. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…forget about Covid-19, all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.” Economist Dean Baker goes over exactly how destructive and insane this ideology is.

As he says: “The idea that we would not address pressing needs, like climate change, child care, and health care because we are concerned about the debt burden is close to crazy. As long as the economy is not near its capacity, there is zero reason not to spend to address these priorities.” What I find particularly troubling is that Kaufman’s quote made it into the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The newspaper tweeted it out early in the morning. It sat out there for almost 24 hours — an eternity in the current news ecosystem. And yet, as far as I can tell, nobody noticed. Hell, the Journal’s tweet had all of 1 retweets on it as of this morning.

[..] This monumental declaration was in a major newspaper — it should have set off immediate alarm bells from all the think tanks, unions and advocacy groups in Washington whose job is to make sure that this kind of destructive austerity ideology does not once again take hold in the Democratic Party. There should have been press releases, and statements of outrage and congresspeople on TV talking about it. But for an entire day, there was nothing, until it was shamed into the conversation. This is not the first time there’s been silence on stuff like this — less than a month ago Biden explicitly promised his Wall Street donors that despite his public campaign promises, he will not be pushing new legislation to change corporate behavior.

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Hmmm: “..people shouldn’t “expect perfection or anything close” to it..”

72% of Detroit’s Absentee Ballot Counts Were Off (DN)

Recorded ballot counts in 72% of Detroit’s absentee voting precincts didn’t match the number of ballots cast, spurring officials in Michigan’s largest county to ask the state to investigate ahead of a pivotal presidential election. [..] In 46% of all Detroit’s precincts — absentee and Election Day — vote counts were out of balance, according to information presented Tuesday to the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. Specifically, the number of ballots tracked in precinct poll books did not match the number of ballots counted. The situation could amplify the spotlight on absentee ballots in Michigan ahead of an election for which record levels of mail-in voting are expected and President Donald Trump is already raising concerns about how votes will be handled. The election results for the primary weren’t incorrect, said Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat and one of the canvassing board’s four members.


But, he said, something had gone wrong in the process of tracking ballots precinct by precinct. Having balanced precincts is particularly important in Michigan because precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted, according to state law. Instead, the original election results would stand. “It was a perfect storm,” Kinloch said. The “storm” involved a record number of absentee ballots being cast in Michigan’s primary and seasoned election workers not feeling it was safe to help with administering the election because of COVID-19, he added. The Wayne County board is asking Benson, a Detroit resident, to investigate “the training and processes used by the City of Detroit” in the primary election. The board also requested that the first-term Democrat appoint a state monitor to oversee the counting of absentee ballots in the general election.

Detroit had problems with precinct count mismatches in the November 2016 election. Election officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 59% of precincts in the city during a countywide canvass of vote results with most of the issues involving too many votes. Those votes couldn’t be recounted when Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein demanded a statewide recount following Donald Trump’s initial 13,000-vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. A recount was started but stopped and nullified by the courts when Stein was ruled ineligible for a recount request because she had no chance at victory. The results eventually were certified as a 10,704-vote victory for Trump, the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan in 28 years. It was the Republican businessman’s smallest margin of victory in the nation.

The problems with the Detroit’s numbers in the Aug. 4 primary included ballots being put in the wrong tracking containers, said Monica Palmer, one of the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. “It was so inaccurate that we can’t even attempt to make it right,” said Palmer, chairwoman of the board. Winfrey said the vast majority of the absentee voting precincts in the city were less than three ballots off, plus or minus. Being off by three or fewer is allowed, Winfrey said — but it’s unclear what policy she was referring to. [..] Winfrey also said Thursday that people shouldn’t “expect perfection or anything close” to it after elections staffers have worked more than 20 hours.

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Running out the clock.

Johnson, Grassley Blast Colleagues For ‘False Narratives’ About Ukraine (JTN)

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent letters to two of their Democratic colleagues, lambasting them for claiming that an investigation regarding U.S. policy in Ukraine during the Obama presidency is tainted by Russian disinformation—Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are the recipients of the August 20 letters. The investigation that the Democrats have said is poisoned by Russian disinformation pertains to possible conflicts of interest in America’s Ukraine policy when Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board of Burisma.

A press release says that the two Democratic senators have “falsely claimed that Grassley and Johnson are relying on information from Andriy Derkach as part of their ongoing oversight, despite the chairmen’s clear denials of having any communication with Derkach.” The Republican Senators in their letters said that as far as they know the sole instance of disinformation injected into the investigation has come from Democrats. “Regarding reports that we have received ‘packages’ of information from certain Ukrainian nationals – that is false. Further, the only relevant disinformation that we are aware of are documents that Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi, and Chairman Schiff referenced in their recent letter that your Democratic colleagues have introduced into our investigation,” the senators wrote in the letters to their Democratic colleagues.

“For example, the Schumer letter references a document, created by a Ukrainian national that mentions our names along with other Republican senators and administration officials, to suggest falsely that we might have received information from this individual. Liberal media outlets have picked up that reference, clearly from a leak, even though we have not received any information from that person, including tapes, and we have publicly and privately stated as much. To repeat, the only document in our investigation that has been described as disinformation is a document that your Democratic colleagues, not us, introduced into the record. If you and your colleagues are so concerned about disinformation, why do you continue to promote it?” Johnson and Grassley asked.

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This is so nuts it can only mean she herself is certified nuts.

“I Have A Right To Make Sure That My Home Is Secure” (ZH)

[..] nothing compares to what just happened in Chicago whose Mayor Lori Lightfoot – best known for encouraging local BLM protests, going so far as saying that black lives are “more important that downtown corporations” after the unprecedented looting that took place last week – defended the Chicago Police Department’s ban on protesters being able to demonstrate on the block where she lives, telling reporters Thursday that she and her family at times require heightened security because of threats she receives daily. Yes, Mayor Lori is all about BLM protests… as long as they are literally not in her back yard. Lightfoot refused to elaborate on the specific threats according to the Chicago Tribune, but said she receives them daily against herself, her wife and her home.

Lightfoot also told reporters that comparisons to how the Police Department has protected previous mayors’ homes, such as Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood residence, are unfair because “this is a different time like no other.” “I think that residents of this city, understanding the nature of the threats that we are receiving on a daily basis, on a daily basis, understand I have a right to make sure that my home is secure,” Lightfoot said, failing to grasp the simplest truth that all citizens of “her” devastated city also have a right to make sure that their home is secure although unlike Lightfoot they don’t have the local police to protect them. Because when it comes to outrageous liberal hypocrisy, things get complicated.

Lightfoot and Chicago police Superintendent David Brown were asked at an unrelated news conference about a Tribune report noting police have banned protesters from demonstrating on her block in the Logan Square neighborhood, ordering officers to arrest anyone who refuses to leave. The directive surfaced in a July email from then-Shakespeare District Cmdr. Melvin Roman to officers under his command. It did not distinguish between the peaceful protesters Lightfoot regularly says she supports and those who might intend to be destructive, but ordered that after a warning is given to demonstrators, “It should be locked down.” Activists and police sources could not cite instances when the city repeatedly locked down her predecessor Emanuel’s block against protesters.

The Kenwood block where former President Barack Obama lived with his family when his primary residence was in Chicago was shut down for access only by residents after his election. But Lightfoot said such comparisons “don’t make any sense,” after Brown referenced the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – which she has repeatedly overriden as a concern when BLM protests are to be held – as well as civil unrest that have flared since the George Floyd killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. “I’m not going to make any excuses for the fact that, given the threats I have personally received, given the threats to my home and my family, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they’re protected,” Lightfoot said. “I make no apologies whatsoever for that.”

It wasn’t clear if Lightfoot would apologize to all those millions of Chicago residents who – just like her – are trying to avoid threats against their own families by angry, violent looters; looters whose despicable actions Lightfoot has repeatedly turned her eyes away from in hopes of peak virtue signaling.

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So what’s the plan, guys? Green jobs?

28 Million Americans on Unemployment Insurance, 17.5% of Labor Force (WS)

What happened in the latest reporting week for unemployment claims was disconcerting: “Initial” claims under state unemployment insurance programs by newly laid-off workers rose. And initial claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provided by the CARES Act that covers gig workers, also rose. This means that people lost their work at a faster rate than they did in the prior week. In terms of “continued” claims: The number of people on unemployment insurance (UI) under state programs (blue bars) declined, as some people returned to work. But the number of people on UI under federal and other programs (red bars) jumped. Combined, the number of people on UI under all programs ticked down by 199k to 28.06 million, the Labor Department reported this morning. It was the least catastrophic reading since mid-May, but still a horrendously huge number, representing about 17.5% of the labor force:

Blue columns: The number of people who continued claiming unemployment insurance under regular state programs fell by nearly 1 million to 14.27 million (not seasonally adjusted), continuing the fairly consistent downtrend that had started in May. Red columns: The number of people on UI under all federal programs and some other programs – after having fallen by 2.4 million last week – jumped by 737k to 13.79 million (not seasonally adjusted), driven by increases in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims and in federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claims.


Initial claims under state programs, filed by newly laid off workers, caused some head-scratching this morning, because they “unexpectedly” rose – and they rose both on a seasonally adjusted basis (by 135k to 1.11 million) and on a not seasonally adjusted basis (by 53k to 892k). So we can’t blame some seasonal adjustments gone awry. This was the first increase since the week ended July 11:

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Yves Smith.

CEOs Get Big Pre-Bankruptcy Bonuses As Lenders and Employees Stiffed (NC)

Nothing like paying for failure. The Financial Times describes how CEOs who ran their companies into the ground are nevertheless rewarded with “retention bonus” payouts shortly before the business declare bankruptcy, often mere days ahead. The absurd rationale is that it is necessary to keep a failed CEO on in order to reduce disruption. It appears instead that boards would rather pay a rich and unwarranted premium to keep a bad known quantity around, perhaps due to personal allegiances to the incumbent or because they might actually have to rouse themselves to oust the dud leader and select a replacement. Are we to believe that the stipends these boards approve has any relationship with the market value of these CEOs, even charitably assuming someone would hire them after their companies collapses underneath them?

Are we to believe there was no able lieutenant worth a battlefield promotion? No retired industry greybeard who could be engaged for an eighteen month to three year gig? No one in the ranks of turnaround expert or “temp for hire” CEOs who would do? Even worse, some of these payments are flat out looting: “Brad Holly, Whiting’s chief executive who joined the company in November 2017, received $6.4m at the end of March under a new compensation plan approved by the board of directors, which he also chairs, less than a week before the company filed for bankruptcy. Whiting, which expects to emerge from Chapter 11 next month, said last week that Mr Holly would step down as chief executive when that happens and would receive an additional $2.53m in severance. In total, Whiting paid out more than $14m to executives just a few days before declaring itself bust. In a regulatory filing on April 1 the company said its pay plan was designed “to align the interests of the Company and its employees”.

$6.4 million for Holly for at most five months of babysitting bankruptcy lawyers? Seriously? Another example: “Briggs & Stratton’s board approved more than $5m in retention payments on June 11, including more than $1m to chief executive Todd Teske, who has led the company for a decade. Four days later the company failed to make a $6.7m interest payment on a bond due later this year, and on July 20 it filed for bankruptcy. On July 19, the company’s board voted to terminate the health and life insurance benefits of the company’s retirees… The company’s 2020 bond is now trading at just a few cents on the dollar, reflecting slim hopes of recovery.

Why are these losers who almost assuredly have nowhere to go being paid in advance? Why aren’t they instead getting $1 per year and working for a contingent payout to be paid when the company emerged from bankruptcy, say tiered based upon results versus specified targets? This is the sort of deal that someone who cared about salvaging the company, as opposed to his personal bottom line, should accept.

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Facebook is the opposite of free speech.

Facebook Delenda Est (Ben Hunt)

I’m pretty close to being a free speech absolutist. Or at least I have an old-school small-l liberal John Stuart Mill-esque belief in free speech, with an extremely high bar for the “harm” that speech must directly inflict on other citizens before a rightfully constituted government, based on the consent of its citizens, has a legitimate duty to regulate that speech. And I believe that the US Supreme Court has been pretty much spot-on with its free speech decisions like Brandenburg v. Ohio and R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, where they said (roughly speaking) that even speech calling for violent protest against the government is protected speech and that hate speech isn’t a thing. Let me repeat that last one. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that hate speech is not a thing. I think this is exactly right.

To be clear, I also believe that a private organization has the right to apply hate speech standards (or any other speech standards) to its members, if those members have the ability to leave the private organization AND that organization does not enjoy unique government support. So, for example, if I choose to attend a private religious college, and they have rules against hateful/blasphemous speech, then it’s fine for them to kick me out when I start doing my hateful blasphemous speech thing. I’d never go to that college in the first place, and there are plenty of other schools I can attend. But if ALL colleges started imposing hate speech standards, or if the ONLY college started imposing hate speech standards, or if ANY public college started imposing hate speech standards … well, I’d have a real problem with any of these circumstances.

And I believe that a just government has a duty to intervene in these circumstances. Now I also believe that the US Supreme Court got it terribly, terribly wrong with Citizens United, where they decided (again, roughly speaking) that non-real life citizens – like corporations or other constructed legal entities – enjoy the same protections for political speech that real life citizens do. I’ll repeat that one, too. The US Supreme Court has held that constructed entities of pooled capital (corporations) or pooled labor (unions) or pooled political influence (parties) have the same protection for their political speech as unconstructed/unpooled you and unconstructed/unpooled me. I think this is nuts.

To be clear, I also believe that limitations on how much money or time real life citizens can spend on their political speech are similarly nuts. So, for example, I believe that really rich American citizens like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or George Soros or Charles Koch can spend as much money as they please – literally billions of dollars if they want – to proclaim whatever cockamamie political idea they want to proclaim. What is unacceptable in my view – but is exactly what Citizens United allows – is for really rich guys to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech after they are dead, or (worse!) for corporations and unions and parties to spend unlimited amounts of other people’s money on political speech, with the same legal protections as real life citizens.

Government does not exist to protect the rights of a dead rich guy’s money. Government does not exist to protect the rights of corporations, unions and political parties. Government EXISTS to protect the unalienable rights of its citizens, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Because “we” are so much smrter than God.

Florida To Release 750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (BBC)

Local officials in Florida have approved the release of 750 million mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to reduce local populations. The aim is to reduce the number of mosquitoes that carry diseases like dengue or the Zika virus. The green-lighting of a pilot project after years of debate drew a swift outcry from environmental groups, who warned of unintended consequences. One group condemned the plan as a public “Jurassic Park experiment”. Activists warn of possible damage to ecosystems, and the potential creation of hybrid, insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. But the company involved says there will be no adverse risk to humans or the environment, and points to a slate of government-backed studies.

The plan to release the mosquitoes in 2021 in the Florida Keys, a string of islands, comes months after the modified mosquitoes were approved by federal regulators. In May, the US Environmental Agency granted permission to the British-based, US-operated company Oxitec to produce the genetically engineered, male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are known as OX5034. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are known to spread deadly diseases to humans such dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. Only female mosquitoes bite humans because they need blood to produce eggs. So the plan is to release the male, modified mosquitoes who will then hopefully breed with wild female mosquitoes.

However the males carry a protein that will kill off any female offspring before they reach mature biting age. Males, which only feed on nectar, will survive and pass on the genes. Over time, the aim is to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the area and thereby reduce the spread of disease to humans.

Read more …

A -large- group of ravens is called an unkindness of ravens, or a conspiracy of ravens.

‘Bored’ Ravens Straying From Tower Of London Signal Monarchy May Fall (G.)

A lack of tourists is driving the ravens at the Tower of London to boredom and causing them to fly away. Legend has it the monarchy and the Tower of London will fall if its six resident ravens leave the fortress. The birds, known as the guardians of the tower, are shrouded in myth and live in lodgings on the South Lawn. There are seven in total – the required six, plus one spare. The tower closed on 20 March and reopened five weeks ago. However, few tourists have returned. Summer visitor numbers would usually exceed 15,000 but because of the coronavirus pandemic, they have fallen to fewer than 800 a day. As a result, the birds are restless for more company.

With a lack of regular tourists, the birds have been venturing away, according to those who work there. Christopher Skaife, a raven master, told the Sun: “If the ravens were to leave, the tower would crumble to dust. The tower is only the tower when the people are here. “The ravens have always been so important … because they’ve been surrounded by myths and legends. We really need people to come back to help the ravens.” The seven ravens are Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and Merlina. They are free to roam the tower precincts in the day and preside over four territories within its walls.

Charles II is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned the crown and the tower would fall if they left. Skaife said during lockdown they got bored and lonely because there were no full bins to rummage or people bringing them food. He encouraged the Beefeaters who guard the building to throw them their leftovers. Skaife said: “It’s been tough because the ravens only saw me or one warden walking by during the lockdown. They depend on tourists. “Never in a raven’s history have we seen fewer people in the Tower of London. Even in world war two, there were still hundreds in and around.”


Beefeaters and a resident raven. Photo: Lynn Fergusson/Reuters

Read more …

 

 

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China building about 21.4 million vehicles annually; wide gap for next-largest producer, as Japan only makes 8.3 million each year (U.S. has gone from 2nd to 6th place over past 20 years).

 

 

If Japan were in the Atlantic, it would stretch the length of the American coastline.

 

 

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Jun 072020
 


Banksy June 2020

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Total global cases surpassed 7,000,000.


Total global deaths surpassed 400,000.

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

Read more …

Walmart supports black people. What a joke that is.

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

How to make guns magically disappear.

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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May 102020
 


Andre Derain The port of Collioure 1905

 

Closing Borders Is The Most Effective Way Of Combatting Coronavirus (SN)
Accepting Death Is Not an Option (Kahn)
Early Herd Immunity: A Dangerous Misconception (Johns Hopkins)
US COVID19 Test Results: Third Consecutive Day Over 300K (CR)
Over 1 Out of Every 1000 People in NY and NJ Die From COVID19 (Mish)
Trump Says ‘No Rush’ On More Aid As Jobless Crisis Grows (AP)
South Korea Reports 34 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest In A Month (R.)
China Reports 14 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases, Most in 2 Weeks (R.)
China Asked WHO To Cover Up Coronavirus Outbreak: German Intelligence (TN)
Top German Politician Wants To ‘Urgently’ Reopen French Border (RT)
Corona Under Control: Bavaria Lets Residents Go Out & Businesses Reopen (RT)
German Towns Bring Back Lockdown After Infections Spike Within Days (DM)
Facebook Censors Iconic Photo With Soviet Flag Raised Over Reichstag (RT)
Swiss National Bank Battling Enormous Pressure On Safe-Haven Franc (R.)
Obama Says That ‘Rule Of Law Is At Risk’ In Michael Flynn Case (Y!)

 

 

• US adds 1,568 #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Total deaths 80,037

 

• Significant progress in slowing growth in India, today 3,115 with plateau for 5 days at about 3,000 cases after earlier rapid increase.

• Pakistan has rapid increase from 1,165 three days ago doubling to 2,301 today.

 

 

 

Cases 4,121,778 (+ 89,015 from yesterday’s 4,032,763)

Deaths 280,868 (+ 4,191 from yesterday’s 276,677)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

First point of Crushing the Curve. Re: New Zealand. As long as air travel is the no. 1 mode of transport, it’s relatively easy to do, and to prove as well. But too late now. Next up: testing.

Closing Borders Is The Most Effective Way Of Combatting Coronavirus (SN)

Scientists in Brazil have found that the countries most affected by the coronavirus spread are the ones who continued to allow unrestricted travel across their borders, prompting further arguments that the most effective method of preventing the spread is tighter frontier controls. The research, carried out by the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, suggests that screening and quarantining those coming into countries from outside could have been “a cheap solution for humanity”. The researchers based their analysis on records of 7,834 airports, using online flight databases documenting 67,600 transport routes in 65 countries.

The scientists factored in a number of forces, including climate, socioeconomic factors, as well economic and air transport, in an attempt to ascertain how the size of outbreaks was affected in 65 countries which had more than 100 cases. The overwhelming factor was found to be air travel, leading to a conclusion that it is “the main explanation for the growth rate of COVID-19.” The study notes that “The 2019 – 2020 world spread of COVID-19 highlights that improvements and testing of board control measures (i.e. screening associated with fast testing and quarantine of infected travellers) might be a cheap solution for humanity in comparison to health systems breakdowns and unprecedented global economic crises that the spread of infectious disease can cause.”

The data tallies with the fact that the US and the UK, which have the first and third highest air travel globally, have also suffered the most COVID-19 deaths with 74,600 and 30,615, respectively so far. The US did not close its airports until late March, while Britain’s borders have remained completely open with little to no testing or quarantining of incoming travellers happening at all. On the other hand, nations like Austria, Denmark and New Zealand closed their borders within days of their first confirmed cases, and have experienced much fewer deaths. Austria in particular has enacted tight border controls, refusing entry to anyone without a medical certificate confirming they had tested negative for the virus, and placing a mandatory 14 day quarantine on those who do not have them. The country has suffered just 68 deaths per million of its population, with only 606 overall.

Denmark closed its borders to all non-citizens in mid March, only excluding those with ‘credible purpose’ such as non-citizen Danish residents. The Scandinavian nation has recorded just 503 deaths. The UK, on the other hand has allowed some 18 million people to enter from outside the country with hardly any of them undergoing health screenings or being put into quarantine. Labour MP Stephen Doughty noted that “The fact that many of these people then likely arrived and travelled onwards across the UK with little or no adherence to social distancing, and with no checks or protections at the border is deeply disturbing.” The UK has seen 100,000 people arriving from foreign countries at UK airports every single week, all with virtually no health checks whatsoever.

Read more …

A good point. But you’re not making it better by blaming things on the “conservative movement”, or by dragging climate change into the topic.

Accepting Death Is Not an Option (Kahn)

The worst-case scenario with coronavirus is not mass death. It’s that people come to accept mass death—to accept that someone will die in the U.S. every 30 seconds as “just how it is.” Yet that is the proposition being thrust on us now. Yesterday, 2,746 people died of covid-19 in the U.S., the highest daily death toll recorded since the first confirmed deaths on American soil in February. That’s on the high end of leaked Trump administration forecasts for this time period and shows the 3,000 daily deaths come June in those forecasts might be wishful thinking. This is, in a word, horrific. But the Trump administration and its backers from conservative media to the small but vocal “reopen” movement are trying to convince people it’s not only normal but worth it.

They have turned the idea we should avoid the Bad Thing—namely, the needless deaths of thousands of Americans—on its head, arguing we should embrace it full-on and just plow forward with reopening the country. It’s a monstrous idea in the here and now, but it also sets up a dangerous precedent, priming people to accept policy failure—or, worse, reject legitimate policy solutions—on what remains the biggest issue facing humanity: climate change. Unless we demand more from our leaders and each other, we risk an even bigger catastrophe in our lifetimes. There is nothing acceptable about 3,000 people dying every day from coronavirus. What’s so nauseating about this is that we know what it looks like to contain the virus.

We’ve seen it in action. Countries as diverse as South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam have all successfully flattened the curve of death and suffering. The steps they broadly followed are proactive lockdowns and a slow reopening as the curve of infections flattened followed by contact tracing, mass testing, and ensuring frontline workers have ready access to personal protective equipment.

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Even if herd immunity were achievable, and this takes the fattest question mark you have ever seen, we don’t need it anymore than we need a vaccine. Which is good, because we have neither.

Early Herd Immunity: A Dangerous Misconception (Johns Hopkins)

We have listened with concern to voices erroneously suggesting that herd immunity may “soon slow the spread” of COVID-19. For example, Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that “herd immunity has occurred in California.” As infectious disease epidemiologists, we wish to state clearly that herd immunity against COVID-19 will not be achieved at a population level in 2020, barring a public health catastrophe. Although more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, studies suggest that (as of early April 2020) no more than 2-4% of any country’s population has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19). Even in hotspots like New York City that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, initial studies suggest that perhaps 15-21% of people have been exposed so far.

In getting to that level of exposure, more than 17,500 of the 8.4 million people in New York City (about 1 in every 500 New Yorkers) have died, with the overall death rate in the city suggesting deaths may be undercounted and mortality may be even higher. Some have entertained the idea of “controlled voluntary infection,” akin to the “chickenpox parties” of the 1980s. However, COVID-19 is 100 times more lethal than the chickenpox. For example, on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the mortality rate among those infected with SARS-CoV-2 was 1%. Someone who goes to a “coronavirus party” to get infected would not only be substantially increasing their own chance of dying in the next month, they would also be putting their families and friends at risk.

COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States, killing almost 2,000 Americans every day. Chickenpox never killed more than 150 Americans in a year. To reach herd immunity for COVID-19, likely 70% or more of the population would need to be immune. Without a vaccine, over 200 million Americans would have to get infected before we reach this threshold. Put another way, even if the current pace of the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States – with over 25,000 confirmed cases a day – it will be well into 2021 before we reach herd immunity. If current daily death rates continue, over half a million Americans would be dead from COVID-19 by that time.

As we discuss when and how to phase in re-opening, it is important to understand how vulnerable we remain. Increased testing will help us better understand the scope of infection, but it is clear this pandemic is still only beginning to unfold.

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Someone tries to claim that less than a million tests per day will be enough.

US COVID19 Test Results: Third Consecutive Day Over 300K (CR)

The US might be able to test 400,000 to 600,000 people per day sometime in May according to Dr. Fauci – and that might be enough for test and trace. However, the US might need more than 900,000 tests per day according to Dr. Jha of Harvard’s Global Health Institute. There were 300,842 test results reported over the last 24 hours. This data is from the COVID Tracking Project. The percent positive over the last 24 hours was 8.4% (red line). The US probably needs enough tests to push the percentage positive below 5%. (probably much lower based on testing in New Zealand).

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Singapore is not the greatest example. It had another 876 new cases yesterday.

Over 1 Out of Every 1000 People in NY and NJ Die From COVID19 (Mish)

New Jersey joined New York today in the dubious distinction of coronavirus deaths rates of over 1 in 1,000 people. As states start opening up here are some charts to consider. The chart is not population adjusted. I made the chart as a spot check to see if new deaths were generally in line with the lead chart. There are some new states, notably Texas and Florida, but they are not in the front of the pack, and the day-to-day totals are very noisy.

Three Obvious Standouts • Singapore • South Korea • Japan.


Singapore , South Korea, and Japan all did three things that the US did not do and many in the US still do not want to do.
1) Aggressive Early Testing
2) Cooperative Society on Social Distancing Rules
3) Contact Tracing
1: The US did not do aggressive early testing and it’s too late for that now.
2: The US was late in social distancing and some want to fight it
3: The US did not do contact tracing and may still view that as violation of personal privacy.

Too Late for Early Testing, But Not Overall Testing: Most do want aggressive testing, but despite Trump’s claims, the US is not where we need to be. However, the number of tests is finally ramping up. Coupled with spotty social distancing (compared to other countries) Is that enough? I don’t know, but we are about to find out.

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Guess the bankers are satisfied for a few weeks.

Trump Says ‘No Rush’ On More Aid As Jobless Crisis Grows (AP)

President Donald Trump says he’s in “no rush” to negotiate another financial rescue bill, even as the government reported that more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month due to economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus. The president’s low-key approach came Friday as the Labor Department reported the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and as Democrats prepared to unveil what Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer calls a “Rooseveltian-style” aid package to shore up the economy and address the health crisis. Some congressional conservatives, meanwhile, who set aside long-held opposition to deficits to pass more than $2 trillion in relief so far, have expressed reservations about another massive spending package.

“We’ve kind of paused as far as formal negotiations go,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council told reporters Friday. He said the administration wanted to let the last round of recovery funding kick in before committing to hundreds of billions or more in additional spending. “Let’s have a look at what the latest round produces, give it a month or so to evaluate that.” Kudlow added that talks were in a “lull” and that administration officials and legislators would “regroup” in the next several weeks. Still, White House aides are drawing up a wish-list for a future spending bill, including a payroll tax cut, liability protection for businesses that reopen and potentially billions in infrastructure spending.

Kudlow added that the White House was also considering allowing businesses to immediately expense the costs of modifiying their facilities to accommodate public safety measures necessary to reopen. The notion was brought up on a call with House members advising the White House on reopening plans Thursday evening and drew bipartisan support. “We’re in no rush, we’re in no rush,” Trump told reporters Friday during an event with House Republicans. He called on Democratic-controlled House to return to Washington, adding, “We want to see what they have.”

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One guy “meets” 1,500 people in one day, infects 42.

South Korea Reports 34 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest In A Month (R.)

South Korea reported 34 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily number in a month, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs that a confirmed patient had visited. Of the new cases, 26 were domestically transmitted infections and eight were imported cases, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. Sunday’s total was the highest since April 9. After battling the first major epidemic outside China, South Korea posted zero or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days, with the daily tally hovering around 10 or less in recent weeks.


The resurgence followed a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centred around a handful of Seoul nightclubs, which a man in his late 20s had visited before testing positive for the virus. At least 15 people were traced to that man as of Friday, and 14 of the 26 cases were reported from Seoul on Sunday, although the KCDC did not specify how many were linked. The outbreak prompted Seoul city to impose an immediate temporary shutdown of all nightly entertainment facilities on Saturday. The city said it is tracking down abut 1,500 people who have gone to the clubs, and has asked anyone who was there last weekend to self-isolate for 14 days and be tested.

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Time for more lockdowns.

China Reports 14 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases, Most in 2 Weeks (R.)

China’s National Health Commission reported 14 new confirmed coronavirus cases on May 9, the highest number since April 28, including the first for more than a month in the city of Wuhan where the outbreak was first detected late last year. While China had officially designated all areas of the country as low-risk last Thursday, the new cases according to data published on Sunday represent a jump from the single case reported for the day before. The number was lifted by a cluster of 11 in Shulan city in northeastern Jilin province.


Jilin officials on Sunday raised the Shulan city risk level to high from medium, having hoisted it to medium the day before after one woman tested positive on May 7. The 11 new cases made public on Sunday are members of her family or people who came into contact with her or family members. The new Wuhan case, the first reported in the epicentre of China’s outbreak since April 3, was previously asymptomatic, according to the health commission. Aside from the Shulan cluster and the Wuhan case, the remaining two new confirmed cases were imported infections. It also said newly discovered asymptomatic cases were at 20, the highest since May 1 and up from 15 a day earlier.

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Is this why Tedros didn’t declare a pandemic for another 7 weeks after?

China Asked WHO To Cover Up Coronavirus Outbreak: German Intelligence (TN)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping asked World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to suppress news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the German intelligence agency BND found, according to a report by German magazine Der Spiegel. During a conversation on Jan. 21, Xi reportedly asked Tedros not to announce that the virus could be transmitted between humans and to delay any declaration of a coronavirus pandemic. It took until the end of January before the WHO declared that the coronavirus outbreak needed to receive international attention.


Because of China’s delay, the world wasted four to six weeks it could have used better to counter the virus from spreading, the BND concluded. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute also said that China failed to reveal all relevant information at the outset of the epidemic, leading it to turn to the BND for advice, according to a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted by CNA. In a response to the German media reports, Chinese diplomats said the opposite was true, arguing that the communist country’s handling of the virus saved time that was then wasted by other governments.

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Keeping the borders shut would risk “permanently damaging cross-border coexistence”. But exporting the virus from one country to the next would not?

Top German Politician Wants To ‘Urgently’ Reopen French Border (RT)

The head of Germany’s most populous state has called for the reopening of the country’s French border to be fast-tracked. The federal government earlier warned that such actions risk launching a new wave of Covid-19 infections. “We urgently need to open the border with France,” Armin Laschet, minister president of the country’s North Rhine-Westphalia state, which borders France, told German media. The lockdown there ends on May 11. That would be a good time to send a signal to our neighbors that we are striving for a common European response to the pandemic. Laschet suggested that the German government should also “talk to Austria in this sense.”


France is due to initiate its first phase of relaxing quarantine rules on Monday. However, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said earlier this week that the border will remain closed until at least June 15. The German government has been under pressure to lift restrictions on international travel early as some European countries begin to gradually ease their lockdowns. A group of German lawmakers and members of the European Parliament have called on Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to fast-track the reopening of the border crossings. The foreign minister of the small nation of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, has also written a letter to Seehofer, arguing that the shutdown of the border crossings is causing “growing discontent” among the population on both sides of the border and risks “permanently damaging cross-border coexistence” in the region.

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And how does one define “under control”? “.. the number of fresh cases has dropped by more than half across the region..”

Corona Under Control: Bavaria Lets Residents Go Out & Businesses Reopen (RT)

Despite warnings the Covid-19 crisis isn’t over, one of Germany’s wealthiest states is set to open up, allowing people to go out for any reason and letting almost all businesses – from retail to tourism – welcome visitors again. “Now it is time to act,” proclaimed Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Soeder as he rolled out“a path of reason” for the wealthy Alpine state. “In the beginning we had an explosive [rate of] infection,” Soeder admitted, adding though that “coronavirus is now under control.” Bavaria claims almost one-quarter – over 43,000 – of all confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany, but the number of fresh cases has dropped by more than half across the region, he said, explaining why relaxing the lockdown is an option. The current figures “allow for careful steps toward opening up,” provided that a “combination of caution and freedom” prevail.


Starting from May 6, Bavarians can visit anyone outside their own household. Seeing relatives in nursing homes will also become possible this weekend, although strict rules will remain in place, with visitors still having to wear masks at all times and meet their loved ones outdoors wherever possible. From May 11, zoos, botanical gardens, museums, libraries, galleries, exhibitions, and memorials will likewise open their doors – but only conditionally, meaning that their staff will have to accommodate social distancing and coronavirus hygiene measures. Supermarkets and stores with premises bigger than 800 square meters are also cleared to resume their activities. Locals will be able to more fully enjoy the outdoors in the second half of May when the state-wide ban on open-air dining is lifted. Bavaria, on a par with a handful of other German states, is also allowing hotels and leisure places to welcome visitors again, to much relief of its tourism industry.

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They’re risking the country falling apart. Just like the US does.

German Towns Bring Back Lockdown After Infections Spike Within Days (DM)

Local authorities in Germany are bringing back lockdown measures after coronavirus infections spiked just days after Angela Merkel started to ease them. Germany has 16 federal states, with the power to relax restrictions, who have all agreed to reimpose lockdown if new cases hit 50 per 100,000 people over seven days. The regional government in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populated state, recorded a spike in coronavirus cases after 150 of 1,200 employees tested positive at a slaughterhouse in Coesfeld. The regional government has postponed reopening restaurants, tourist spots, fitness studios and larger shops which was supposed to happen on May 11.

Reopening schools and daycare centres is set to go ahead as planned. North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann said the slaughterhouse infection rate had pushed the region above 50 per 100,000 people to 61 per 100,000 people. He closed the slaughterhouse temporarily and said employees at all of the state’s meat processing plants would be tested. A different slaughterhouse in the northern state Schleswig-Holstein also saw a rise in employees testing positive for the virus taking the district’s infection rate over the 50 per 100,000 people threshold. In the eastern state of Thuringia, the local government recorded more than 80 infections per 100,000 people over the past week.

The majority of these infections were among employees and residents in six care homes and one geriatrics hospital. Martina Schweinsburg, the chief administrator of Thuringia’s Greiz, said: ‘To be clear: We’re not going to put the entire district in quarantine just two small towns were particularly affected.’

Read more …

Note: the photo apparently wasn’t taken on May 2, but the day after during a re-enactment.

Facebook Censors Iconic Photo With Soviet Flag Raised Over Reichstag (RT)

Social media feeds are filled with historic shots marking Victory Day, but Facebook seems to have taken issue with one that symbolizes the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, and it keeps deleting a recently-colorized version of it. Taken during the Battle of Berlin on May 2, 1945, Yevgeny Khaldei’s ‘Raising a Flag over the Reichstag’ commonly springs to mind when it comes to the subject of World War II and Victory Day celebrations. It universally appears in literature, documentaries and, indeed, in social media posts. RT has even reenacted the iconic moment as part of its V-Day project.

All the more puzzled, then, were social media users who tried posting the iconic shot on Facebook on May 9, as Russia marked 75 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany. While the vintage black-and-white versions of the famous photo seemed to pass FB algorithms with flying colors, the version skilfully colorized by Olga Shirnina (aka Klimbim) –showing the Soviet flag in its original bright red– set off alarm bells. “Your post goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations,” was the message shown to several RT employees who’d set out to verify the reports and tried to post the picture. The warning appeared minutes after posts were completed, after which the image just vanished altogether.

Details provided in the warning only broadly outline the topics banned on FB, such as terrorism and incitement of hate and violence. There is no indication that FB has ever consistently associated the Soviet symbols with any on the list, although the network does have a history of erroneously censoring certain historic shots.


Yevgeny Khaldei – 75 years ago the Soviet banner was raised over the Reichstag. 11 million Soviet soldiers died in WW2 and three-quarters of German losses were suffered at the hands of the Red Army – May 2 1945

Read more …

Just link it to the euro.

Swiss National Bank Battling Enormous Pressure On Safe-Haven Franc (R.)

The Swiss National Bank has no alternative to its ultra-expansive monetary policy, with the coronavirus crisis heaping “enormous” appreciation pressure on the safe-haven Swiss franc, SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan said in newspaper interviews. The SNB was not happy about the negative interest rate of minus 0.75% it charges banks who park money with it overnight, Jordan told the SonntagsZeitung paper. It would lift the rates — the lowest in the world — as soon as circumstances allowed, he said, although this was currently impossible. “We unfortunately have no choice but to maintain the negative interest rate,” said Jordan. “Without it, we would be in a much more difficult situation now.

“The Swiss franc would be massively more attractive and the financing conditions for the Swiss economy would be much worse,” he added. “The negative interest is necessary at the moment to avert major damage to Switzerland.” The SNB was also stepping up foreign currency purchases to dampen the rise of the franc, Jordan said. Sight deposits at the central bank, a proxy for SNB interventions, have risen by nearly 77 billion Swiss francs ($79.33 billion) this year, while the franc has risen to its highest level against the euro since July 2015. “We have emphasized several times … we are active in the foreign exchange markets to reduce the pressure on the Swiss franc,” Jordan told the paper.

“We deliberately never report our transactions in detail, but I would like to emphasise that we are making a substantial commitment,” he said. All this was necessary to prevent the franc from strengthening, hurting Switzerland’s export-orientated economy and triggering deflation.

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It certainly is. But not in the way he means.

Obama Says That ‘Rule Of Law Is At Risk’ In Michael Flynn Case (Y!)

Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to ex-members of his administration, said Friday that the “rule of law is at risk” in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster.” “The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.” The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said.

“Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.” Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury. But the Justice Department, in a filing with a federal judge on Thursday, asked that the case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller be dismissed, arguing that FBI agents did not have a justifiable reason to question the then national security adviser about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak — talks FBI agents and Mueller’s prosecutors concluded he had lied about.

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 December 21, 2019  Posted by at 10:42 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Unknown Butler’s dredge-boat, sunk by Confederate shell, James River, VA 1864

 

Assange Testifies In Trial Of Company That Spied On Him Inside Embassy (RT)
Former Intelligence Chiefs Fit Perfectly Into Media Advocacy Culture (Hanson)
Reindeer Games (Jim Kunstler)
It’s Time for J.J. Abrams To Be Impeached From Star Wars (Reason)
Americans Are Not ‘Free To Choose’ Anymore (Mauldin)
China’s $13 Trillion Problem Is Becoming Everyone’s (Pesek)
How Murder, Kidnappings And Miscalculation Set Off Hong Kong’s Revolt (R.)
Ryanair Will Not Refund Passengers Who Refuse To Fly On Boeing 737 Max (Ind.)
Boeing 737 MAX Production Shutdown Impacts Suppliers, Workers, Customers (F.)
Colombia Orders Uber To Cease Ride-Hailing (R.)
Now Fake Facebook Accounts Are Using Fake Faces (CNN)
How Ancient Mexican Metropolis Dodged Inequality Trap (R.)

 

 

The only coverage of Julian’s court appearance yesterday that I could find is from RT. ¿Perqué?

Assange Testifies In Trial Of Company That Spied On Him Inside Embassy (RT)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange briefly stepped out of maximum security prison in the UK to testify via video-link in a Spanish case against a company that spied on him inside the Ecuadorian embassy, allegedly on the US’ behalf. Assange, who is being held at Belmarsh prison in southern London pending his hearing on extradition to the US, was driven over to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, where a video-link was set up for him to speak with a judge in Madrid. The proceedings were closed to the press on the grounds of “national security.” The High Court in Madrid is hearing Assange’s case against Undercover Global Ltd, a Spanish security company that allegedly bugged him during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.


Undercover Global was contracted to provide embassy security between 2015 and 2018, and in that capacity secretly recorded Assange’s every move via hidden cameras, microphones and electronic surveillance, the lawsuit says. Assange told the court “he was absolutely unaware that the cameras recorded audio, that hidden microphones had been introduced” into the fire extinguisher mounts inside the embassy, his attorney Aitor Martinez told reporters in Madrid after the testimony. Assange was “an absolutely passive subject of an illegitimate interference that would have been eventually coordinated by the United States,” Martinez added. If the illegal surveillance targeted Assange’s legal team and violated his attorney-client privilege, that has ramifications on the proceedings against him in both the UK and the US, his lawyers have argued.

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Rand Paul: “In the advocacy culture of our new media, ex-government officials such as Brennan, Clapper and McCabe can be paid to appear on news programs to analyze (or vindicate) their own unethical behavior.”

Former Intelligence Chiefs Fit Perfectly Into Media Advocacy Culture (Hanson)

Former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have lots of things in common. One, they ran the nation’s key intelligence and investigatory agencies under former President Barack Obama. They were deeply involved in the “Russian collusion” hoax. And they participated in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition. Comey and McCabe both signed applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants requesting surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz criticized Comey and McCabe’s FBI for falsehoods and misrepresentations during its investigation of the Donald Trump campaign.

Clapper, Brennan and the FBI helped to disseminate the fallacious Steele dossier to the press and among government agencies. Two, Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper have all lied either under oath or in the public sphere. Horowitz has said that he referred Comey for criminal prosecution for leaking classified memos he wrote about his confidential conversations with the president, but the Justice Department did not pursue charges. Comey signed FISA warrant applications that the inspector general has determined were misleading at best and at worst simply flat-out wrong. In testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, there were 245 occasions on which Comey claimed he couldn’t remember details or couldn’t answer questions. Comey did not tell the truth when he said the Steele dossier was not the prime evidence that he submitted to the FISA court.

He also lied about when he was briefed on the dossier. McCabe was given a criminal referral for lying to federal investigators. His story about conspiring to catch Trump on tape in an effort to remove him under the 25th Amendment cannot be reconciled with the version of the account told by his apparent partner in that gambit, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Brennan has on two occasions lied under oath to Congress, first about collateral deaths caused by drone strikes abroad, then about CIA spying on Senate staffers’ computers. Clapper got caught lying about the surveillance of U.S. citizens and claimed he gave the “least untruthful” answer. Both have given accounts of their knowledge of the Steele dossier that are contradicted by a number of sources. Clapper falsely claimed of the dossier that “more and more of it has been corroborated.”

Three, all four of these former intelligence chiefs detest the president of the United States. Comey has compared Trump to a Mafia don and stated that he is morally unfit to be president. McCabe, who was likewise fired from the FBI, has called Trump’s behavior “disgusting.” Clapper said that Trump may be working with Putin as a Russian “asset.” Brennan called Trump a “disgraced demagogue” as well as venal, corrupt and amoral.

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“..when does this faction finally lose its appetite for self-degradation and dishonor?”

Reindeer Games (Jim Kunstler)

Mr. Trump appears eager and avid to go to trial, where his side could call witnesses to his heart’s delight while denying the opposition any witnesses, just as the Dems did in the house. His managers could call in the Bidens, Joe and Hunter, to explain their 2014 adventures in Ukraine, and the impressive payments tendered to them — for what? The defense could compel the testimony of the rogue CIA agent, Eric Ciaramella, to explain his pretensions of whistleblowing, and also his enabler, Intel IG Michael Atkinson, who left a procedural slime-trail in his handling of the “whistleblower” ruse. They could call in the fact-witness to all that, Rep. Adam Schiff, who would excite the wonder and loathing of the nation in being forced to reveal his part in that charade and to recount the myriad falsehoods he has spawned in three years of RussiaGate chicanery — which, in a truly just world, would prompt his expulsion from the house.

They could haul in Messrs Obama, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Mueller, Weissman, Rosenstein, McCabe, Ohr, Lynch, Strzok, Ms. Page, Ms. Yates, Mrs. Lynch, Mr. Halper — though I suspect that bunch would be better left to the ministrations of John Durham, just as the Democratic primaries roll out. A trial like that would be a rich spectacle for sure after subjecting the nation to three years of malicious, perfidious sedition. But other gusts of rumor intimate that senators on the Republican side would prefer to not open any cans of Ukrainian worms in a trial, since money laundered through the Ukrainian oligarch mills may have found its way into their pockets as well. Who knows…?

The simplest explanation for this hot mess is that Mrs. Pelosi’s team wanted desperately to just distract the country’s attention from the Horowitz report — which it pretty much failed to do — and now that she’s shot her wad with that gambit, she’s left holding a bag of meritless impeachment bullshit that will disappoint and embarrass the Resistance just as much as the Mueller investigation managed to do. Which leads to the question: when does this faction finally lose its appetite for self-degradation and dishonor?

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There you go. Put Schiff in charge.

It’s Time for J.J. Abrams To Be Impeached From Star Wars (Reason)

For the last four years, we have been living a collective nightmare. Our shared values have been undermined. Our cherished culture has come under attack. At its least harmful, this nightmare has taken the form of empty nostalgia, in which the leaders who have been entrusted with ushering us into the next era have instead looked into the past, distracting us with symbolic gestures that serve no purpose except to cover up a lack of vision. At its worst, a combination of incompetence, erraticness, and sometimes sheer malice has squandered decades of progress. The ensuing conversation has been fruitless and ugly, and the experience has left many of us polarized, angry, and exhausted.


This week, it finally started to look as if that nightmare might end—but only in the weakest and most slapdash manner. This resolution, which is not really a resolution, is not only a disaster: It’s a disappointment, a pointless, abysmal letdown that is virtually certain to fully satisfy almost no one. The result is a rushed and poorly executed product of bad management, empty thinking, and shallow wish-fulfillment that will only further the public’s loss of faith in the entire enterprise. I speak, of course, of the Star Wars franchise, which in late 2015 returned to movie theaters under the managerial oversight of Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, with a strong creative influence from Hollywood’s reigning prince of blockbuster mediocrity, J.J. Abrams.

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Close to what I recently wrote on capitalism and free markets, but from a professional investor point of view. Problem is, what does John Mauldin mean when he says “socialism”? Everyone means something different. That also makes polls on socialism suspect.

Americans Are Not ‘Free To Choose’ Anymore (Mauldin)

When you write for a wide audience, no matter what you say, or how carefully you say it, some people will misunderstand. Sometimes it’s amusing. Reading through my feedback (and I do read all of it), I get called both heartless capitalist and bleeding-heart socialist in reaction to the same article. In fact, I’m neither. I am a capitalist, and proudly so. I believe free markets are the best way to bring maximum prosperity and peace for everyone. But I’m not heartless, nor do I think markets are perfect. Even the best medicines can have serious side effects. That is doubly so when you aren’t taking the medicine correctly. I also don’t think the word capitalism means what we think it means, at least those of us of a certain age.

Take a look at the data from an interview Charles Payne did with David Bahnsen on Fox Business a few weeks ago. Asked if they favor capitalism or socialism, 49% of Millennials favored socialism. But if you ask if they favor big business or “free enterprise,” the numbers change significantly. In the future, I intend to substitute “free market” for capitalism where possible. Capitalism, at least the free market version, can’t work without competition. It motivates producers to offer the best products at the lowest prices, and lets consumers choose whatever best fits their needs. Yet instead of encouraging and protecting competition, the US government increasingly suppresses it. Last February I wrote about a then-new book, The Myth of Capitalism, by old friend Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn. They aren’t leftists at all. They respect classical capitalism and want it to work better than it is.

Here’s a quick snippet from the book. “Free to Choose” sounds great. Yet Americans are not free to choose. In industry after industry, they can only purchase from local monopolies or oligopolies that can tacitly collude. The US now has many industries with only three or four competitors controlling entire markets. Since the early 1980s, market concentration has increased severely. We’ve already described the airline industry. Here are other examples: • Two corporations control 90 percent of the beer Americans drink. • Five banks control about half of the nation’s banking assets. ª Many states have health insurance markets where the top two insurers have an 80 percent to 90 percent market share. For example, in Alabama one company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has an 84% market share and in Hawaii it has 65% market share.


Getty

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Just like America’s.

China’s $13 Trillion Problem Is Becoming Everyone’s (Pesek)

China’s Xi Jinping probably tops any list of people who can’t wait to see the back of 2019. These last 12 months produced the slowest mainland growth since the early 1990s, the biggest pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong’s history and mounting criticism of Beijing’s human rights record. By taking such an authoritarian stance, Taiwan has slipped further away from Beijing’s grip, while some political wags questioned whether Communist Party members were losing faith in President Xi’s governing style. But Xi has an even bigger challenge on his hands, and not just Donald Trump’s trade war antics. Make that 13 trillion challenges.

This figure refers to the size, in U.S. dollar terms, of China’s onshore bond market. And generally, its growth and development have long been touted as a vital rite of passage for the second-biggest economic power. The trouble with debt markets, though, is they tend to expose cracks in financial systems. Herein lies Xi’s biggest problem. Keeping growth north of 6% is reasonably easy for a command economy. Even amid the trade war, Xi’s party can order up giant infrastructure projects, slash taxes and cajole local governments to ramp up fiscal stimulus. It has its own ATM—the People’s Bank of China.

Trouble is, the more you borrow, the more investors can push back and the more even the most authoritarian of governments can lose control as punters vote with their feet. That risk is increasing along with a recent jump in private-sector debt defaults to a record high. According to Fitch, 4.9% of private companies missed bond payments from January to November, up from 4.2% for all of 2018. When you combine state and private companies, China Inc.’s onshore defaults risks are growing apace—from none a few years back to at least $18 billion so far this year. There’s an obvious caveat here. We can only discuss the default risks we know about—the ones regulators in Beijing cop to, not those that are being papered over with public assistance.

Signs of stress are also emerging in the offshore debt market. So are this year, there have been at least $75 billion defaults. With well over $200 billion of debt maturing over the next 24 months, Standard and Poor’s warns of increasing missed payments episodes. This trajectory collides with U.S. President Trump’s trade war. Ignore all that excitement over Trump’s “phase one” deal with Xi. It’s a polite ceasefire than won’t hold. With Trump getting zero from Xi in terms of re-ordering U.S.-China trade dynamics and facing the risk of removal from office, the odds of him lashing out anew at Asia are growing, not waning. It means that Xi’s annus horribilis won’t end even as calendars switch to 2020. The year ahead may very well be the one in which China’s debt troubles supersede all else.

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Very long, certainly for Reuters. But useful background.

How Murder, Kidnappings And Miscalculation Set Off Hong Kong’s Revolt (R.)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the plan that ignited the revolt in her city was born of a straightforward quest for justice. While on a trip to Taiwan, a Hong Kong man strangled his Hong Kong girlfriend, then returned home and confessed. The city lacked an extradition pact with Taiwan, and Lam argued the only way to send him back for trial was new laws that also would enable sending criminal suspects to mainland China. She dismissed fears about the proposal – which would mean Hong Kong residents could face trial in China’s Communist Party-controlled courts – and pushed ahead. As protests raged this summer, even in private Lam kept to her story that she, not Beijing, was the prime mover, driven by “compassion” for the young victim’s devastated parents.

“This is not something instructed, coerced by the central government,” she told a room of Hong Kong businesspeople at a talk in August. A Reuters examination has found a far more complicated story. Officials in Beijing first began pushing for an extradition law two decades ago. This pressure to extend the arm of Chinese law into Hong Kong’s independent British-style legal system intensified in 2017, a year before the slaying and two years before Lam’s administration announced its extradition bill. The impetus came from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Communist Party’s powerful internal anti-corruption body, which has been spearheading Chinese President Xi Jinping’s mass anti-graft campaign.

Xi’s crackdown spilled over dramatically into the streets of Hong Kong in the early hours of January 27, 2017. Among the targets of CCDI investigators at the time, two mainland Chinese officials with knowledge of the probe told Reuters, was a Chinese billionaire living in the city named Xiao Jianhua. A businessman with close ties to China’s political elite, Xiao was abducted that morning from his serviced apartment at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel. Unidentified captors whisked him out the entrance in a wheelchair with his head covered, a witness told Reuters.

The sensational kidnapping, widely reported at the time, was assumed by most people in this city of 7.5 million to have been the work of Chinese agents; Beijing has never commented publicly on the matter. Frustrated at the lack of legal means to get their hands on Xiao, the two Chinese officials told Reuters, the CCDI that same year began pressing mainland officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs about the urgent need for an extradition arrangement. The CCDI wanted a less politically damaging method than kidnapping for snaring fugitive mainlanders in Hong Kong, the officials said. The two sides failed to strike a deal, but the killing in Taiwan would provide a new opening.

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People book Ryanair 6-8 weeks before the flight, but planes are assigned less than 24 hours before.

Ryanair Will Not Refund Passengers Who Refuse To Fly On Boeing 737 Max (Ind.)

As Boeing winds down production of the 737 Max aircraft, the Ryanair boss has said passengers will “love them” when the planes are finally flying again. Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Europe’s biggest budget airline, has ordered 210 of a special version of the Max, seating eight extra passengers. None has so far been delivered, as the Boeing jet is grounded worldwide. The no-fly stipulation was declared worldwide after a second crash involving the Boeing 737 Max. [..] Boeing had initially predicted that software fixes would enable the 737 Max to be flying by the end of 2019. But as that hope faded, airlines have gradually removed it from the schedules in early 2020.


Michael O’Leary told The Independent: “As every day passes, it keeps moving backwards. “We originally hoped we’d get 30 aircraft for the summer, then it was 20, now it’s only 10. “If there really is more, another one month’s delay, it looks much more likely we will get zero aircraft in advance of the June-July-August summer peak.” But when the Boeing 737 Max is flying for Ryanair, anxious passengers who do not wish to travel on it will have no advance warning. “You won’t know, because on average you book seats on Ryanair six to eight weeks in advance of travel,” said Mr O’Leary. “We only do the aircraft allocations the night before, because we don’t know which aircraft is where. “During the first year, you’ll have a 10 per cent chance you’ll be on a Max aircraft. “Will anyone know or care? Frankly, I don’t think they will.”

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The airlines will demand compensation. But what about the crews, who work far fewer hours and lose wages?

Boeing 737 MAX Production Shutdown Impacts Suppliers, Workers, Customers (F.)

The effluence of Boeing’s long-avoided decision, announced Monday, to halt production of 737 MAX aircraft until the plane is recertified for service has begun rolling downhill, causing the biggest third-party supplier to the program to suspend production of MAX fuselages. Spirit AeroSystems, a former division of Boeing based in Wichita, Kansas, said today it will stop making MAX fuselages – effectively the body of the plane, excluding its small nose cone and large tail section – effective Jan. 1. That’s the same day Boeing will stop building MAX planes, about 400 of which currently are finished but undeliverable and parked on ramps, unused taxiways and even employees’ parking lots at Boeing facilities.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, which had to park 14 MAX planes and stop taking delivery of others nine months ago when the Federal Aviation Administration took away the MAX’s certification, said today that it has pushed back plans to bring the MAX back into its schedule all the way to June 4. Most recently it had been targeting an April restart of MAX flying. But continued delays in getting the plane recertified by the FAA (and ultimately by the aviation safety regulators of other nations) has made it very difficult for airlines to predict when they’ll be able to fly MAX planes once again. United has the smallest batch of MAX planes in its fleet of the three U.S. carriers that have bought the newest, and significantly re-designed version of the venerable 50-year-old 737 line.

Southwest had 34 copies of the MAX when the grounding took place, while American had 24. All three carriers also have large orders for more MAX planes and have been unable to add them to their fleets since March, reducing their ability to retire older planes or to grow their fleet size. That reduced growth opportunity has affected the airlines’ abilities to grow their revenue and profits as planned, and has increased their costs somewhat by forcing them to underuse the pilots, flight attendants and other employees who were expected to staff the now-grounded MAX planes.

[..] leaders of the Transport Worker Union unit that represents Southwest’s 17,00 flight attendants today released a letter they sent this week to Southwest president Gary Kelly and vice president of inflight operations Sonya Lacore. The union leaders asked for additional help in addressing the “financial toal” on flight attendants whose pay has been reduced significantly while the MAX planes have been idled. The MAX groundings have left Southwest with more flight attendants on the payroll that it need. But rather than lay off hundreds of them and incur huge costs for retraining and re-scheduling attendants who’d be displaced by the resulting wave of seniority displacements, Southwest has retained all those extra attendants. But that means many attendants now are being assigned fewer flight hours, which diminishes their earnings.

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Are Colombia’s laws that much different from other countries?

Colombia Orders Uber To Cease Ride-Hailing (R.)

Colombia on Friday ordered Uber to cease its ride-hailing operations in the Andean country, effective immediately, after a judge ruled the company violated competition rules. Following a lawsuit filed against Uber by COTECH SA, the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) said the U.S. company had breached market rules. Uber has more than 2.3 million active users in Colombia and around 88,000 driver partners. The app, however, has existed in a regulatory no-man’s land in Colombia. The Technology Ministry deems ride-hailing apps legal while transport authorities say they are against the law.


In a statement the SIC said Uber generated “a significant advantage in the market” by rendering transport services for individuals via its application. The SIC said that following analysis, it ordered Uber’s ride-hailing services “through the use of the Uber application to cease immediately.” The order applies to Uber, Uber X and Uber VAN. Uber said in a statement that it rejects the ruling and immediately appealed it. “This decision reflects an act of censorship and infringes on the Inter American Convention on Human Rights, which has already condemned attempts to block Uber for violating the neutrality of the web, liberty of expression and freedom of internet,” Uber said in a statement.

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Interesting, but since this is CNN, they blame Russia China, not America. A deepfake group that spends $10 million on Facebook ads sounds like a professional campaign.

Now Fake Facebook Accounts Are Using Fake Faces (CNN)

Artificially-generated faces of people who don’t exist are being used to front fake Facebook (FB) accounts in an attempt to trick users and game the company’s systems, the social media network said Friday. Experts who reviewed the accounts say it is the first time they have seen fake images like this being used at scale as part of a single social media campaign. The accounts, which were removed by Facebook on Friday, were part of a network that generally posted in support of President Trump and against the Chinese government, experts who reviewed the accounts said. Many of the accounts promoted links to a Facebook page and website called “The BL.” Facebook said the accounts were tied to the US-based Epoch Media Group, which owns The Epoch Times newspaper, a paper tied to the Falun Gong movement that is similarly pro-Trump.

The publisher of the Epoch Times denied that Epoch and The BL were linked in emails to the fact-checking organization Snopes earlier this year. The dystopian revelation of the use of artificially-generated images in this way points to an increasingly complicated online information landscape as America enters a presidential election year. Silicon Valley and the US intelligence community are still struggling with the fallout from widespread online interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Facebook accounts used profile pictures that appeared to show real people smiling and looking directly into a camera. But the people do not and have never existed, according to Facebook and other researchers. The images were created using artificial intelligence technology.

The same basic methods are used to produce deepfake videos — fake videos that the US intelligence community has warned could be used as part of a foreign disinformation campaign targeting Americans. [..] In all, Facebook said Friday, it had removed a network of 610 Facebook accounts, 89 pages, 90 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts. About 55 million accounts followed one or more of the pages, and the vast majority of followers were outside the United States, Facebook said. Facebook did not say if all of all these followers were real — some of them may themselves have been fake accounts. The network of pages removed on Friday had spent almost $10 million on Facebook ads, according to Facebook.

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It’s a question of organization.

How Ancient Mexican Metropolis Dodged Inequality Trap (R.)

Fragments of pre-Aztec murals recently unearthed on the outskirts of what was once the largest city of the Americas are adding to mounting evidence that even commoners there enjoyed the finer things in life. Each year, millions of tourists visit the towering pyramids and temples of the sprawling metropolis of Teotihuacan, far from the latest discoveries on the city’s southern edge. “We’re now finding that life on the periphery was pretty good,” said Boston University archeologist David Carballo, who discovered brightly-colored paintings over fine stucco on three buildings he began excavating there in July.

Decorated with flowers and birds that appear to be singing, the murals evoking a paradise found nearly three kilometers (2 miles) from Teotihuacan’s core came as a complete surprise, he said. Carballo and his team have also found other signs of wealth nearby, including jade, a finely carved stone mask, and shells from Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts. The unpublished mural discoveries point to the radically different path charted by Teotihuacan, which thrived from about 100 B.C. to 550 A.D., compared to other ancient civilizations. At a time when daily life in the biggest contemporary Mayan cities, or ancient Rome and Egypt, was marked by a tiny elite lording over impoverished or enslaved masses, most of Teotihuacan’s estimated 100,000 inhabitants fared far better.

[..] In the city’s La Ventilla district, another aspect of Teotihuacan’s egalitarian character comes into view: stone, multi-family apartment compounds where over 90% of Teotihuacanos lived. Off limits to tourists despite extremely rare glyphs painted on a plaza, the narrow streets of La Ventilla’s residential compounds suggest a densely-packed urban existence. The compounds boast white lime-plaster floors, built-in drainage systems, open-air courtyards and murals. Lying 48 km northeast of Mexico City, Teotihuacan has more than 2,000 such compounds, thanks to a century-long building boom that ended around 350 A.D.

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Nov 092019
 
 November 9, 2019  Posted by at 9:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Sheperd and sheperdess in a meadow 1888

 

MSM Gets History & Russia All Wrong AGAIN (RT)
Trump Has ‘No Problem’ Releasing Second Phone Call With Ukraine (NBC)
Anonymous Author Writes Trump’s Decision-Making Is Eroding Over Time (NBC)
‘Steady State’ Kept ‘Wheels From Coming Off The White House Wagon’ (Hill)
Facebook Scrubs All References To Alleged Whistleblower Eric Ciaramella (ZH)
Trump On Impeachment: ‘They Shouldn’t Be Having Public Hearings’ (Hill)
Giuliani: Ukraine Quid Pro Quo Intended To Benefit Trump Personally (WE)
Enter the Old White Knight (Kunstler)
Brazil’s Former President Lula Released From Prison (RT)
Southwest and American Pull 737 MAX Until Early March (R.)

 

 

Over 20 million Russians died in WWII. This should be mandatory knowledge in all western schools. And for reporters. It’s about respect. It should also be mandatory for US presidents to attend V-Day, certainly when it’s the 75th.

MSM Gets History & Russia All Wrong AGAIN (RT)

US President Donald Trump managed to trigger his critics again by saying he would love to go to Russia for the celebration of victory in WWII – which a reporter and most media misnamed as the long-nonexistent “May Day parade.” “I would love to go if I could,” Trump said on Friday, answering a reporter who had asked if he would go to the “May Day parade” in Moscow next year. “I am thinking about it.” Trump noted it was in the middle of the campaign season for the 2020 US presidential election, so he might be busy. The mere mention of the possibility of going to Russia is enough to send the US president’s critics into a frenzy, but the mention of “May Day” had them additionally shrieking in outrage.

“All roads lead to Putin!” exclaimed Raw Story, rolling out a gamut of #Resistance Twitter reactions echoing that line from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Leading the way was CNN anchor Jim Sciutto, who characterized the parade as “a celebration of Russian military power, which Putin is using to undermine US national security interests across the globe.” [..] The trouble with all these hot takes is that there is no such thing as the “May Day military parade,” and hasn’t been in over 50 years. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union did roll out the tanks and missiles on Red Square for International Workers’ Day, but the last such military display was in 1968.

Trump’s own response on Friday – “It’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war” – indicates he knew perfectly well to which event he’d been invited: the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ triumph over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, which Russia will celebrate on May 9, 2020.

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No, NBC, it’s V-Day, not a May Day military parade.

Trump Has ‘No Problem’ Releasing Second Phone Call With Ukraine (NBC)

President Donald Trump said Friday that he spoke to the president of Ukraine by phone in April, months before the call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, and that he was willing to provide a transcript of the call. “I have the second call, which nobody knew about,” Trump said, speaking to reporters as he left the White House on Friday morning, referring to that spring conversation. “I guess they want that to be produced also. … I understand they’d like it, and I have no problem giving it to them.” Trump was referring to the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry, which was prompted by a whistleblower complaint about a phone conversation Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy on July 25.


The president said that the White House counsel did not want to release “all this information” but that he did not object to turning it over. “I had a call, I’m sure it was fine. I make a lot of calls. But I have no problem releasing it. I’m very transparent,” he said, though he was concerned that doing so “sets a bad precedent” with foreign leaders who might worry about the privacy of their future conversations with the United States. Trump said his first phone call with Zelinksiy was “very revealing,” adding it was another “perfect” call. Trump also said that he is considering visiting Russia for its May Day military parade. “I am certainly thinking about it,” he said, adding that President Vladimir Putin had extended an invitation

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Smearing has turned anonymous. The media should ignore it completely. They do the opposite.

Anonymous Author Writes Trump’s Decision-Making Is Eroding Over Time (NBC)

President Donald Trump’s behavior can be so erratic that most top administration officials have pre-written resignation letters ready to submit, an anonymous author claiming to be a senior official in the Trump administration says in a book scheduled to be published this month. To complicate matters, the president’s decision-making abilities are getting worse with time, according to excerpts of “A Warning” that were obtained and read Thursday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The author, described only as “a senior Trump administration official,” is the same person who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times last year headlined, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”

The column said “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The information is coming from an anonymous source, and NBC News does not know who the writer is nor whether they were in a position to have witnessed what they say transpired. In the book excerpts, the author describes near-daily “five-alarm fire drill” that leads senior officials to cancel plans and race to the White House to intercept Trump before he can enact his latest “wacky or destructive idea.” “Staff throw up the Bat-Signal, calling a snap meeting or a teleconference. ‘He’s about to do something,’ one warns the group, explaining what the president is about to announce.” “‘He can’t do this. We’ll all look like idiots, and he’ll get murdered for it in the press,’ another exclaims. “‘Yeah, well, I’m telling you he’s going to do it unless someone gets to him fast,’ the first warns. ‘Can you cancel your afternoon?'”

[..] In excerpts published separately by The Washington Post, the author likens Trump to “a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.” “I’ve sat and listened in uncomfortable silence as he talks about a woman’s appearance or performance,” according to the Post’s excerpts. “He comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and around his orbit. He uses words like ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ to address accomplished professionals. This is precisely the way a boss shouldn’t act in the work environment.”

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One half of the nation keeps on eating it all up.

‘Steady State’ Kept ‘Wheels From Coming Off The White House Wagon’ (Hill)

In a new book, the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed has described a “steady state” that formed to “keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon,” according to excepts from the book read by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on her show Thursday. “The early Steady State formed to keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon,” Maddow read from the excerpts of the book “A Warning.” “When presidential appointees started conferring about their shared concerns with the nation’s chief executive … it was done informally, in weekly phone calls or on the margins of meetings,” Maddow continued, citing the book. Many of the concerns staff members had about the president stemmed from his “inattentiveness” and “impulsiveness.”


[..] “In Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable,” the person wrote last year. “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state,” they continued at the time. The Post on Thursday also reported on an excerpt of the book in which the anonymous person, billed as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” wrote that officials wake up “in a full-blown panic” due to Trump’s tweets.

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And Twitter too. Curious. Everyone knows the name. So why the censorship?

Facebook Scrubs All References To Alleged Whistleblower Eric Ciaramella (ZH)

Facebook announced on Friday that it would be removing an posts which name alleged Trump-Ukraine whistleblower Eric Ciaramella. “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in the debate,” Facebook said in a statement in which they claim it violates their “coordinating harm” policy which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant, or activist.’ On Wednesday, the social media giant removed ads naming Ciaramella which had been viewed several hundred thousand times according to the Washington Post.

On Friday, Breitbart’s Allum Bohkari reported that the news outlet’s posts containing references to Ciaramella had been scrubbed from the site. Wednesday evening, Facebook removed Breitbart posts reporting on the fact other respected news outlets have reported the identity of the alleged whistleblower is Eric Ciaramella. Any Facebook user who attempts to click on that article on Facebook is now given a message that says, “this content isn’t available at the moment.” To be clear, Breitbart did not “out” the alleged whistleblower but did provide additional relevant reporting about him; he is, after all, a public figure, having served on the National Security Council. Moreover, his name has been used in the Mueller report (p283) and Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony.

Administrators of Breitbart News’ Facebook page began receiving notifications on Wednesday evening stating that Breitbart’s page is “at risk of being unpublished” but were not given any details as to why, or even which posts were allegedly at issue. -Breitbart Of note, it is not against the law for anyone except the Inspector General to disclose a whistleblower’s name. “There is no overarching protection for the identity of the whistleblower under federal law,” said attorney Dan Meyer, the former executive director of the intelligence community whistleblower program, adding “Congress has never provided that protection.”

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I think he means there should not be any hearings.

Trump On Impeachment: ‘They Shouldn’t Be Having Public Hearings’ (Hill)

Trump on Friday blasted the impeachment proceedings in his most extensive public comments since the first transcripts were released on Monday. He attacked Democratic lawmakers leading the impeachment process and suggested an attorney for the whistleblower who raised concerns about his call with the Ukrainian president should be sued “and maybe for treason.” Trump downplayed the potentially damaging effects of the transcripts that have been released thus far, claiming he was unfamiliar with many of the witnesses and that none of them had first-hand information. “I’m not concerned about anything,” Trump said. “The testimony has all been fine. I mean for the most part, I’ve never even heard of these people. There are some very fine people. You have some Never Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any first-hand knowledge.”

The president asserted that the only thing that counts is the partial transcript from his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. While Trump has insisted that document shows the call was “perfect,” it depicts the president urging his Ukrainian counterpart to “look into” the Bidens after Zelensky brought up the need for military assistance. Trump added that he’s open to releasing a similar memo detailing an earlier call with Zelensky if Democrats demand a copy. The House Intelligence Committee will hold public hearings next week with three witnesses who have testified privately in recent weeks, presenting new challenges for Trump’s efforts to discredit members of his own administration.

Diplomat William Taylor and State Department official George Kent will testify on Wednesday, and former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify Friday. The White House has refused to cooperate with the process thus far, directing officials not to testify. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney did not comply with a subpoena to testify on Friday. Trump told reporters at the White House he would have no problem with Mulvaney speaking with lawmakers, but he did not want to “give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt.”

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A very strange conclusion by the Washington Examiner. Defending a client against false accusations, which Giuliani says he did and does, equals “prioritizing Trump’s personal gain over that of the people”?!

Giuliani: Ukraine Quid Pro Quo Intended To Benefit Trump Personally (WE)

Here, the president’s personal attorney has conceded that he used formal diplomatic channels and the powers of the Oval Office to prioritize Trump’s personal gain over that of the people. Trump’s only option at this point is to throw Giuliani and his back-channel under the bus. It’s evident that Burisma only hired Hunter Biden for access to his father, even though it’s unclear that the vice president ever allowed the oil company or his son to exploit that connection. Furthermore, we know for a fact that Ukraine favored Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. But we have diplomatic channels and strategies to combat legitimate corruption and investigate malfeasance.


Furthermore, Trump’s personal legal defense should not involve using the powers of the presidency — potentially without the property security clearances — to gain exculpatory evidence. For a personal attorney to use congressionally approved aid to advance a president’s personal interests over national interests is unconscionable. If Trump signed off on that, then yes, it’s clearly an impeachable abuse of power that proves he’s willing to illicitly interfere with the 2020 election.

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“..liable to end in a farrago of humiliation so intense that all the Lawfare ninjas on God’s green earth will not avail to rescue the Democratic Party’s lost honor..”

Enter the Old White Knight (Kunstler)

And how does Mike measure up against his old Boomer Gen fellow New Yorker and sometime adversary, Mr. Trump? For all of his gilded trappings, there’s no denying that Mr. Trump is beloved by what used to be known as the Salt of the Earth — more lately the “Deplorables” — despite the fact that the president may have actually never been on a New York Subway once in his well-padded life, while Mike was a renowned “strap-hanger” in his city hall glory days. The awful irony! Also, President DJT is almost never seen dressed in anything but that straightjacket of a business suit and tie, gold cufflinks and all, while Mike has often appeared in Hamptons casuals of perfectly distressed blue jeans, polo shirt, and Gucci loafers which, these days, is tantamount to hippie garb.

Mike’s most obvious selling point is that he appears to be what used to be known as “a normal person,” that is in speech, manner, and general comportment. But, normal to whom these days? Perhaps not to the WalMart shoppers moiling by the tens of thousands in those heartland arenas where Mr. Trump casts his magic spells of plain speech and surly manner, much beloved in these days of dastardly, confabulating lawyer-speak, gender studies crypto-metaphysical bullshit, and self-serving New York Times Ivy League ambiguation.

Speaking of which, what might Mike Bloomberg do about the impeachment circus led by the imbecile Adam Schiff that is liable to end in a farrago of humiliation so intense that all the Lawfare ninjas on God’s green earth will not avail to rescue the Democratic Party’s lost honor? Or, how will a Bloomberg campaign maneuver through the blizzard of indictments coming down against the former agents, servelings, chore-boys, foot-soldiers, and media sirens of Barack Obama’s runaway Deep State?

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Brazil will have to get rid of Bolsonaro. But it may be too corrupted to achieve that.

Brazil’s Former President Lula Released From Prison (RT)

A judge has ordered the release from jail of former President of Brazil Lula da Silva until his appeal process ends. Da Silva stands accused of corruption, though he and his supporters call the charges politically motivated. On Friday, the judge accepted the request filed by the ex-president’s defense team, authorizing him to leave jail. Da Silva will now be able to stay out of prison until his appeal process continues. Within two hours after the release request was accepted, former Brazilian President walked out of jail, meeting a large crowd of his supporters who gathered outside to celebrate the occasion. Shortly after the ruling, Lula’s official Twitter account released a video of of the 74-year-old working out. The post was accompanied by two words only: “Lula free”.


The move follows the Thursday ruling by the country’s Supreme Court, which overturned, in a 6-5 vote, its own 2016 decision, which had obliged convicted criminals to go to jail after they lose their first appeal. Now, the court decided such a provision to be non-constitutional, since the country’s basic law says no one can be considered guilty until due process is over. Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, was slapped with a 12-year jail term as a result of a probe into an alleged massive corruption scheme, commonly known as the ‘Car Wash.’ The socialist icon has always maintained his innocence, vehemently rejecting all the accusations as politically-motivated.

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I wouldn’t bet on March either.

Southwest and American Pull 737 MAX Until Early March (R.)

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines Group Inc said on Friday they are extending Boeing 737 MAX cancellations until early March, just shy of the one-year anniversary of an Ethiopian Airlines crash of the jet that led to a worldwide grounding. Southwest and American, the two largest U.S. operators of the aircraft, have had to scale back growth plans and are together canceling more than 300 flights a day, taking a hit to profits as they manage slimmer fleets without the 737 MAX. Southwest, which has bet its entire growth strategy on Boeing’s newest single-aisle aircraft, had previously canceled all its 737 MAX flights until Feb. 8 and now expects a return to service on March 6, though it warned that the timeline could get pushed back again.


Boeing Co is facing increasing hurdles in obtaining approval to return the plane to service before the end of this year as it has targeted. [..] Reuters reported this week that U.S. and European regulators will need to return to a Rockwell Collins facility in Iowa to complete an audit of Boeing’s software documentation after regulators found gaps and substandard documents. Boeing has confirmed it must submit revised documentation. That has thrown into question when Boeing would be able to complete a certification test flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it would not unground the planes until 30 days after that flight occurs.

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A nice graph from Statista, but if they don’t specify which currency the debt is in, it loses much of its meaning.

 

 

 

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