Oct 282020
 


Gustav Klimt Pine forest I 1901

 

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)
Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)
UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)
Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)
White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)
Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)
Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)
How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)
Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)
Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)
The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)
‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)
Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)
Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Kim Dotcom Joe Biden

 

 

“…a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)

I have some questions for former friends who have dumped me on account of my support for Mr. Trump’s re-election — which is mostly a vote to prevent the Democratic Party and its fellow travelers from running the government. On the whole, these former friends are college-educated, mature in experience, and cultured. Some of them are well-acquainted with history, which is to say, they ought to know better than to support the obviously illiberal motives of the political Left. Are you against the principle of free speech? The Democratic Party is. They used to be champions of the First Amendment; now they want to make it conditional on ideas and sentiments they support. Contrary ideas are to be labeled “hate speech,” and suppressed, along with anything that might hurt somebody’s feelings.

How did you come to such a complete misunderstanding of what free speech means? Namely, that a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” I will answer my own question partially by saying: you have been programmed against free speech by what used to be the very vehicles of it, the newspapers and TV News channels, which have, amazingly, come out against freedom of the press and turned into propaganda outlets for Woke Progressivism and its illiberal agenda — thereby inadvertently committing suicide of the entire profession. We’ve seen this acted-out most vividly just the past week in the social media companies’ efforts to suppress all news of the Biden family’s global business operations, along with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and other leading news organizations that Americans used to depend on to know what was happening in the nation.

This is especially unforgivable during a national election. Did you support the movement on campus in recent years to shut down events featuring speakers such as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve), Heather Mac Donald of City Journal, Dinesh D’Souza, and many others who represented not-so-Woke ideas that “offended” you? Since when are your feelings so special that they negate the open exchange of ideas in the places that used to be dedicated to it, the universities? Should higher education only entertain ideas that you and your cohorts approve of? What if, in some future, a different cohort gains control of higher education and seeks to exclude your ideas on the grounds that they’re “offensive” (i.e. they just don’t like them)?

Are you in favor of a politicized Department of Justice and CIA? That is what the Democratic Party’s Resistance League deliberately brought about during the 2016 election, and they continue to promote it. Is it okay for bureaucrats to break the law to disable their political adversaries? That was the essence of the RussiaGate ruse. Former employees of those agencies, such as ex-CIA chief John Brennan and Andrew Weissmann, who ran the Mueller investigation, to this day still hype “Russian collusion” falsehoods to deflect attention from their own misdeeds. You let them get away with that.

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201 participants, median age 44, 70% women, large majority not high risk. Only 18% hospitalized. Median time 140 days from first symptom: 99% suffered at least four symptoms. 42% suffered at least ten. In 66%, injuries in at least one organ, in 25% in at least two organs.

Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)

Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has disproportionately affected older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. Research has focused on short-term outcomes in hospital, and single organ involvement. Consequently, impact of long COVID (persistent symptoms three months post-infection) across multiple organs in low-risk individuals is yet to be assessed.

Methods An ongoing prospective, longitudinal, two-centre, observational study was performed in individuals symptomatic after recovery from acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Symptoms and organ function (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen) were assessed by standardised questionnaires (EQ-5D-5L, Dyspnoea-12), blood investigations and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging, defining single and multi-organ impairment by consensus definitions.

Findings Between April and September 2020, 201 individuals (mean age 44 (SD 11.0) years, 70% female, 87% white, 31% healthcare workers) completed assessments following SARS-CoV-2 infection (median 140, IQR 105-160 days after initial symptoms). The prevalence of pre-existing conditions (obesity: 20%, hypertension: 6%; diabetes: 2%; heart disease: 4%) was low, and only 18% of individuals had been hospitalised with COVID-19. Fatigue (98%), muscle aches (88%), breathlessness (87%), and headaches (83%) were the most frequently reported symptoms. Ongoing cardiorespiratory (92%) and gastrointestinal (73%) symptoms were common, and 42% of individuals had ten or more symptoms.

There was evidence of mild organ impairment in heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%). Single (66%) and multi-organ (25%) impairment was observed, and was significantly associated with risk of prior COVID-19 hospitalisation (p<0.05).

Interpretation In a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of individuals have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. There are implications not only for burden of long COVID but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities.

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It’s the combination of the article above, and this one, that has me thinking. Both talk about what happens in a 6 month period or longer.

UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)

Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, a study found on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community. Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the British population following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April. Their study found that antibody prevalence fell by a quarter, from 6% of the population around the end of June to just 4.4% in September. That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.

Although immunity to the novel coronavirus is a complex and murky area, and may be assisted by T cells, as well as B cells that can stimulate the quick production of antibodies following re-exposure to the virus, the researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring. “We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know that antibodies on their own are quite protective,” Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London told reporters. “On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”

Those for whom COVID-19 was confirmed with a gold standard PCR test had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, compared to people who had been asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection. There was no change in the levels of antibodies seen in healthcare workers, possibly due to repeated exposure to the virus. The study backs up findings from similar surveys in Germany which found the vast majority of people didn’t have COVID-19 antibodies, even in hotspots for the disease, and that antibodies might fade in those who do.

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“The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency..”

Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)

Doctors across Spain have walked out on Tuesday in what media outlets have called the first medical strike to rock the country in 25 years. As the coronavirus pandemic rages across Spain, where the Health Ministry reported another 18,418 new daily cases on Tuesday, doctors are beginning the strike, which was called in defiance of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s latest emergency order, which was implemented on Sunday. The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency, which could be in place for months. Doctors complained that the new law violated their rights, and compromised the standard of care for patients, as doctors would end up working in an area they weren’t specialized in.


The strike will continue indefinitely, with doctors set to continue striking on the last Tuesday of every month until a deal has been reached. For the first time, 200,000 new cases were confirmed in Spain over the previous two weeks, and cases on Tuesday were up 33% compared with the prior week. And over the last 24 hours, another 267 people have died. “The Health Ministry hasn’t even dignified us with a meeting to try and get us to call off the strike,” he told Spanish health journal iSanidad. Spain’s hospitals harbor nearly 16,700 active COVID-19 patients – up more than 600 compared to Monday, with one quarter of all the country’s ICU units used to treat those with an infectious disease.

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The day before, Trump was ahead.

White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)

Democrat Joe Biden has edged back ahead in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch survey. The latest national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Biden earning 49% support to President Trump’s 47%. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, while two percent (2%) are still undecided. Yesterday, Trump was ahead for the first time since mid-September – by a minimal 48% to 47%. The race has been tightening since early in the month.


Rasmussen Reports has been releasing White House Watch weekly on Wednesdays since the beginning of July. But starting this week, White House Watch will be posted daily at 10:30 am Eastern. Trump earns 82% support among Republicans. Biden has 78% of the Democrat vote and leads by three among voters not affiliated with either major party. The survey of 1,500 Likely Voters was conducted October 22 and 25-26, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Trump: VOTE

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FYI.

Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)

We predict that President Trump is going to win the 2020 presidential election — and win big. While the majority of the polls suggest that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading, or at best that it’s close, those polls suffer from at least three problems. First, the tone of the questions. There is significant evidence from behavioral psychology that suggests that the way a question is framed predetermines the range of potential answers. In fact, Gallup has found that respondents can answer very differently to questions with the same topic even in the same survey based on the language that’s used. And the use of metaphors can even dwarf the importance of pre-existing differences between Republicans and Democrats.

One of the reasons respondents do that is because of a tendency to give socially desirable answers, which was the case especially during the 2016 election. Most people don’t like confrontation, so the easiest, albeit not necessarily the best, solution is to avoid it. Right now, saying that you’re voting for Trump/Pence is often not the socially desirable answer. In fact, a recent poll by the Cato Institute suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that the political climate is sufficiently harsh that they don’t want to give their genuine opinion about politics.

Second, the sample of respondents. Who responds depends on many factors, including the medium (e.g., landline versus cellphone), the location, the sample size and demographic factors. Moreover, the pool of respondents is not necessarily the same as the pool of likely voters. Even though election polls all contain a margin of error, that margin of error is unreliable if the underlying sample does not reflect the population. Researchers have also identified self-screening as the major contributing factor to the polling failures during the 2016 election cycle. For example, distrust of pollsters also leads to lower response rates for Trump supporters. Rasmussen finds that 17 percent of likely U.S. voters who “strongly approve” of the job President Trump is doing say they are less likely to let others know how they intend to vote in the upcoming election.

By comparison, only 8 percent of those who “strongly disapprove” of the president’s performance say the same. While proper sampling methodology matters more than the size, having a representative sample with enough people still helps considerably. Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group notes how their work to create minimum samples sizes of 1,000 voters, added to their work to doggedly pursue the “quiet Trump voter,” led to Trafalgar being one of the most successful battleground polling firms in the country in 2016. Cahaly explains that “we don’t do a state with less than a thousand. You see these polls, 400, 500, 600 people for a state. I don’t buy that. Your margin of error is far too high.”

Third, the content of the current news cycle. What’s going on in a particular moment in time can influence voter attitudes, particularly in swing states. For example, the recent revelation of Hunter Biden’s hidden emails on his laptop, coupled with the link to his father, has come at an opportune time for the president. Moreover, if the economic recovery continues, the good news may continue putting wind in Trump’s sails.

Leaflet left on reporters’ chairs in Airforce One.

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Crickets in the MSM.

Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)

In a lengthy interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, former Biden family business associate Tony Bobulinski accused Joe Biden of a “blatant lie” in denying any familiarity with his son Hunter’s business undertakings, claiming he himself met with Biden on two separate occasions to discuss prospective ventures into Chinese markets. Bobulinski painted a picture of the Democratic presidential nominee as actively aware in broad strokes of plans for the Biden family to enter into a business partnership with Chinese nationals closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army — yet with Biden himself maintaining enough distance from the operational details in face-to-face encounters to preserve what his brother Jim Biden would characterize as “plausible deniability.”


Biden’s family members, Bobuilnski claimed, were “putting their entire family legacy on the line” in their dealings with the Chinese. “They knew exactly what they were doing,” he said. They were dealing with a Chinese owned enterprise … that had strong financial support and political support from the Chinese Communist Party. That’s how it was presented to me. That’s not my own words. That’s how they presented it to me and read me in on it.” Bobulinski made headlines last week when he claimed to have firsthand evidence of Biden’s involvement in those deals. “I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business,” Bobulinski said in a statement. “I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true.”

Tucker Bobulinkski

In a largely unbroken 45-minute interview with Carlson on Tuesday, Bobulinski further went on the record, telling the Fox host that he was approached by the Biden family and several associates in 2017 in order to help manage a business venture in China. Bobulinski said he met with Biden at the Milken Institute’s 2017 Global Conference in Los Angeles. “They were wining and dining me to get me more engaged,” he told Carlson. “I didn’t request to meet with Joe,” Bobulinski said. “They requested I meet with Joe.” Bobulinski, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, said he met with Biden twice in the course of his association with the family. Biden reportedly told Bobulinski to “keep an eye on Hunter and [Biden’s brother] James” during their dealings.


Chinese officials, Bobulinski said, looked at him as “irrelevant,” seeing “the Biden family” as the main focus of their dealings. He claimed that the Bidens received a $5 million no-collateral, no-interest loan from Chinese officials. Bobulinski was motivated to come forward, he told Carlson, after California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff denounced recently leaked emails involving Hunter Biden as “Russian disinformation.” That allegation, Bobulinski told Carlson, also smeared his own family’s name. “I was at the end of the rope,” he said. “I called [Biden associate] Rob Walker. I told him if that statement wasn’t retracted by midnight on Sunday then I was going on record.”

Tucker Bobulinkski 8 Minutes

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“It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.”

How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)

Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden was again insisting that the scandal involving Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation despite the direct refutation of that claim by the FBI. No mainstream reporter bothered to ask the simple question of whether this was his son’s laptop and emails, including emails clearly engaging in an influence peddling scheme and referring to Joe Biden’s knowledge. Instead, media has maintained a consistent and narrow focus. Indeed, in her interview, Leslie Stahl immediately dismissed any “scandal” involving Hunter in an interview with the President on 60 Minutes. It was an open example of what I previously noted in a column: “After all, an allegation is a scandal only if it is damaging. No coverage, no damage, no scandal.”

In her interview with Joe Biden, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell did not push Biden to simply confirm that the emails were fake or whether he did in fact meet with Hunter’s associates (despite his prior denials). Instead O’Donnell asked: “Do you believe the recent leak of material allegedly from Hunter’s computer is part of a Russian disinformation campaign?” Biden responded with the same answer that has gone unchallenged dozens of times: “From what I’ve read and know the intelligence community warned the president that Giuliani was being fed disinformation from the Russians. And we also know that Putin is trying very hard to spread disinformation about Joe Biden. And so when you put the combination of Russia, Giuliani– the president, together– it’s just what it is. It’s a smear campaign because he has nothing he wants to talk about. What is he running on? What is he running on?”

It did not matter that the answer omitted the key assertion that this was not Hunter’s laptop or emails or that he did not leave the computer with this store. Recently, Washington Post columnist Thomas Rid wrote said the quiet part out loud by telling the media: “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.” Let that sink in for a second. It does not matter if these are real emails and not Russian disinformation. They probably are real but should be treated as disinformation even though American intelligence has repeatedly rebutted that claim. It does not even matter that the FBI has seized the computer as evidence in a criminal fraud investigation or that a Biden confidant is now giving his allegations to the FBI under threat of criminal charges if he lies to investigators. It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.

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Times change. RussiaRussia has become indispensible.

Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently identified Russia as the number one threat to America but in 2012, when he was vice president, Biden called then-GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney “out of touch” for taking the same position. Biden said Romney views the “world through a Cold War prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.” Biden slammed Romney for referring to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe,” which was greeted with laughter from members of the audience watching Biden’s address in April 2012. “Governor Romney is mired in a Cold War mindset,” Biden said in a foreign policy speech at New York University in 2012.

Biden referred to Romney’s criticism of Obama’s handling of the New START treaty, which was a nuclear arms control treaty reached with Russia in 2010. “Governor Romney was part of a very small group of Cold War holdovers who never met an arms control treaty that he likes,” he said. “He was way out of the mainstream on this issue, unless you think that’s just political hyperbole.” “He acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary,” Biden said in an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in 2012. “I don’t know where he has been. We have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us on Iran. One of only two ways we’re getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia … if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf, they’ll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. This is not 1956.”

In October 2012, Obama mocked Romney’s position on Russia as the top threat to the U.S. during a presidential debate. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said. In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening, Biden said Russia is the greatest threat to the U.S. “The biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia,” he said.

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“The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.”

Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)

A search of Justice Department databases reveals that Hunter Biden failed to register as a foreign agent while promoting the interests of foreign business partners in Washington, including brokering meetings with his father and other government officials, and RealClear Investigations has learned at least one Senate committee is investigating whether Joe Biden’s son violated federal laws requiring disclosure of such foreign contacts. The Obama administration did not prosecute Hunter Biden for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, despite its much more aggressive pursuit of FARA cases relative to other administrations — including its opening of criminal investigations on no fewer than six Trump campaign advisers in 2016.

One of them, Paul Manafort, ended up in prison in part for failing to publicly disclose his lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian clients and partners. Newly discovered April 2015 emails show Hunter Biden appeared to be helping a Ukrainian energy executive meet with and lobby his father, who was vice president at the time. Hunter, who held a lucrative seat on the board of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma at the time, also sought meetings with State Department officials. None of these contacts was publicly disclosed in government filings, according to a search of both FARA and Lobbying Disclosure Act records, which show Hunter registered as a federal lobbyist in 2001 and stopped filing disclosures in 2008. In contrast, Hunter’s former law partner and fellow lobbyist, William Oldaker, has registered as a foreign agent under FARA. Oldaker is Joe Biden’s longtime campaign lawyer and fundraiser.

At least one Senate committee is actively investigating Hunter’s compliance with the FARA law. Though it has not sent a criminal referral to Justice, RCI has also learned that a public-interest law firm is preparing a complaint to Justice regarding Hunter Biden’s arranging meetings between his foreign contacts and his father when he was vice president. Former investigators and prosecutors say the uneven enforcement of the federal statute smacks of politics. “It’s a double standard, 100%,” said former assistant FBI director Chris Swecker, who led public corruption cases out of Washington. Added Swecker, who also served as a prosecutor: “It’s strange how in this election there is no curiosity whatsoever about foreign influence on a potential president of the United States, especially from this country’s greatest threat — China.”

[..] In a May 2017 email, their mutual business partner, James Biden, sent his nephew Hunter, Bobulinski and other partners a list of friendly American political contacts whom they could exploit to advance the proposed joint venture with their Chinese partners. Among the “key domestic contacts” were: Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is now Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate. (FARA records show James Biden has not registered as a foreign agent, either.) In an earlier email that same month, Hunter sought to avoid registering as a foreign agent as part of the venture. “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents,” he told Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, and suggested setting up a U.S. shell company to work around it. The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

@RobertPLewis: “I didn’t think the audio from Hunter Biden’s laptop could be worse than the child endangerment pics, but it is. Verbal admission from Hunter that he knew he and his dad were in bed & business with Chinese intelligence. Bruh. That’s treason”

Hunter: F*cking spy chief of China

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“Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something.”

The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)

So, according to the corporate media, this is it for Russian-backed Hitler. Game over. The walls are closing in. It’s the last days of the Trumpian Reich. Get those vuvuzelas ready! Yes, apparently, the American people, who were all a bunch of Putin-worshipping, white-supremacist neo-Nazis when they elected Trump in 2016, have come to their senses and are going to deliver a landslide victory to “Slappy” Joe Biden and bring down the curtain on this “Age of Darkness,” or save the world from “racial Orwellianism” or the “bottomless pit of facsism,” or whatever. White supremacy will be defeated and globalization will rise from the ashes! Decency will be restored! Love will trump hate! Black lives will matter!

Slappy and Kamala will immediately fly down and liberate the concentration camps. Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something. Exuberant liberals will pour into the streets, chanting unintelligible slogans through their designer masks and plastic head bubbles. OK, sure, the global economy will be ruined, and millions of people will be unemployed, and homeless, or will have needlessly died, so that GloboCap could simulate an apocalyptic global plague, and foment racialized civil unrest, and just generally create an atmosphere of confusion, depression, and paranoia, but the War on Populism will finally be over … and GloboCap will start to “Build Back Better!”

OK, it won’t be “better” right away. As our friends at the World Economic Forum note: “Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the world is off-balance – and it will remain so for years to come. Far from settling into a ‘new normal’, we should expect a Covid19 domino effect, triggering further disruptions – positive as well as negative – over the decade ahead. The wave of civil unrest that spread across America and beyond recently may be one example …” So, all right, maybe not quite the end of the War on Populism, but at least a new stage of it. A chaotic, destructive, violent stage of it, which will require a lot of “emergency measures” and will end up radically transforming the planet into one big pathologized-totalitarian marketplace.

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Stephen Roach knows a thing or two.

‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)

Just as China led the world in economic recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, it is playing a similar role today. Its post-Covid rebound is gathering momentum amid a developed world that remains on shaky ground. Unfortunately, this is a bitter pill for many to swallow – especially in the United States, where demonisation of China has reached epic proportions. The two crises are, of course, different. Wall Street was ground zero for the 2008 crisis, while the Covid-19 pandemic was spawned in the wet markets of Wuhan. But in both cases, China’s crisis-response strategy was far more effective than that deployed by the US. In the five years following the onset of the 2008 crisis, annual real GDP growth in China averaged 8.6 per cent (on a purchasing power parity basis).

While that was slower than the blistering (and unsustainable) 11.6 per cent average pace of the five previous years, it was four times the US economy’s anaemic 2.1 per cent average annual growth over the post-crisis 2010-14 period. China’s pandemic response hints at a comparable outcome in the years ahead. The GDP report for the third quarter of 2020 suggests a rapid return to the pre-Covid trend. The 4.9 per cent year-on-year figure for real GDP growth does not convey a full sense of the self-sustaining recovery that is now emerging in China. Measuring economic growth on a sequential quarterly basis and converting those comparisons to annual rates – the preferred construct of US statisticians and policymakers – provides a much cleaner sense of real-time shifts in the underlying momentum of any economy.

On that basis, China’s real GDP rose at an 11 per cent sequential annual rate in the third quarter, following a 55 per cent post-lockdown surge in the second quarter. The comparison with the US is noteworthy. Both economies experienced comparable contractions during their respective lockdowns, which came one quarter later for the US. China’s 33.8 per cent sequential (annualised) plunge in the first quarter was almost identical to the 31.2 per cent US contraction in the second quarter. Based on incoming high-frequency (monthly) data, the so-called GDPNow estimate of the Atlanta Federal Reserve puts third-quarter sequential real GDP growth in the US at around 35 per cent. While that is a welcome and marked turnaround from the record decline during the lockdown, it is about 20 percentage points short of China’s post-lockdown rebound and still leaves the US economy about 3 per cent below its peak of late 2019.

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“The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio..”

Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)

Contemporary art is a tricky business. If you’ve collected a painting or sculpture by a modern artist, odds are good that you’ll have some record of the transaction, and some method of verifying that the work you have is both genuine and genuinely obtained. That becomes a bit more complicated when the artist in question — though world-famous — has a penchant for anonymously leaving their work in urban spaces to create impromptu public art. Yes, we’re talking about Banksy, and one of his lesser-known practices which has recently come into sharp relief. Last week, a clip from Antiques Roadshow went viral. It features a man looking to get a small painting by Banksy evaluated. When asked how he’d come by it, the man admit he’d seen it while walking down a street in Brighton one night.

Recognizing it as Banksy’s handiwork, he then removed it from where it had been screwed into place. What follows is a brief and memorable lesson in morality. Pro tip: it’s generally considered poor form to admit to stealing something while being recorded for television. As the show’s host reveals, Banksy has established a virtual portal to authenticate whether specific works of his are both genuine and genuinely obtained — and, as the guy trying to get a painting valued admits, he’d visited the site and been told that the painting could not be validated because it was not obtained legally. Dubbed Pest Control, the service offers an easy-to-use interface to determine a particular work’s validity.

Elsewhere on Pest Control’s site, they offer a more extensive explanation of what they do — namely, issue certificates of authenticity. As for what that means, well — here’s what Pest Control themselves have to say: “The certificate of authenticity (COA) means you can buy, sell or insure a piece of art knowing it’s legitimate and the wheels won’t fall off,” they write. “Pest Control is the only source of COA’s for Banksy. We issue them for paintings, prints, sculptures and other attempts at creativity. We don’t issue them for things like stickers, posters, defaced currency or anything which wasn’t originally intended as a ‘work of art’.” Pest Control also offers a “Keeping It Real” service, which lets prospective buyers of a work by Banksy confirm that the work is, in fact, legitimate.

[..] “The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio,” he told artnet news.

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“All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies.”

Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

After being sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett immediately issued a decree that all women are to wear red handmaid’s outfits for the rest of their lives. “Execute papal order 66,” she said, her eyes glowing red. “Implement the theocratic state.” Barrett sent out squads of soldiers to round up women and make sure they wear the garment at all times. All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies. Attendance at Catholic Mass is also mandatory. Those who violate the order will be executed, “no exceptions,” said Barrett. “She can’t do this! This is unconstitutional!” screamed Rachel Maddow as enforcement squads kicked in the doors at MSNBC’s studios and grabbed her for reconditioning as a subservient handmaid. “I warned you! I WARNED ALL OF YOU!” The whole country turning into a Christofascist state seems to be a negative to many, but the nation is quite a bit more peaceful now.

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Nov 042017
 
 November 4, 2017  Posted by at 9:27 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Henri Cartier Bresson Shanghai 1947

 

Funny Facts Friday (David Stockman)
October Payrolls, Average Hourly Earnings Miss Big (ZH)
Record 95.4 Million Americans Not in Labor Force, 968,000 Exit In 1 Month (ZH)
Manafort Money Laundering Charge In Russia Probe May Face Challenges (R.)
Swamp-O-Rama (Jim Kunstler)
How Democrats Can Beat The Republican Tax Cut (Bartlett)
European Arrest Warrant Issued For Catalan Leader Carles Puigdemont (G.)
America’s Opioid Crisis Is About To Get Worse (ZH)
‘No Deal’ Brexit To Add £930 A Year To UK Shopping Bills (G.)
Stalked By Default Fears, Venezuela Calls Creditor Meeting (AFP)
The Greek Island Camp Where Only The Sick Or Pregnant Can Leave (G.)

 

 

“there has been no gain in employed prime age male workers during the entirety of this century!”

Funny Facts Friday (David Stockman)

The funny numbers came in a veritable torrent today. For instance, the so-called U-3 unemployment rate dropped to a 17-year low of 4.1% for October. Yet the same BLS household survey which posted the lowest unemployment rate since early 2000 showed that the number of employed Americans actually sank by 484,000 last month. How’s that? Well, easy as pie according to the data mavens at the BLS. It seems that the number of persons not in the labor force soared by 969,000 in October. So, yes, with a smaller numerator and an even smaller denominator they came up with a better – nay, awesome – unemployment rate. Then again, none of the talking heads on bubblevision even mentioned the staggering loss of 484,000 jobs during the month because they ignore the household survey’s job count entirely in favor of the establishment survey number (up 261,000) – even though the former drives the unemployment rate, which they crow about endlessly.

This cherry-picking of the data is quite understandable, however, when you consider what is really buried in the household survey and is completely ignored by the stock peddlers. To wit, not so awesome at all is the fact that during October there was an all-time record of 95.4 million persons not in the labor force and another 6.5 million that were jobless – meaning 102 million Americans (16 and older) don’t have jobs. That compares to 42 million retired workers on social security. Consequently, there are 60 million adult Americans who are housewives, students, disabled, food stamp and welfare recipients, social security dependents, dwellers in mom’s basement or denizens of the illegal drug, gambling or sex trades.

To be sure, we don’t have any special opinion on the merits of these pursuits, but we do have a point of view on the societal and fiscal math. Namely, the diminishing relative ranks of workers and tax mules in American society are going to buckle under the weight of baby boom retirements and soaring welfare and public sector health care costs in the years just ahead. In that context, one of the most striking numbers in today’s report is that 53.0 million prime age men 25 to 54 years old were employed in October, 2017. As is evident in the chart below, that is down by 1.5 million jobholders since the pre-crisis peak in May 2007 and virtually identical to the number in January 2001. Stated differently, there has been no gain in employed prime age male workers during the entirety of this century!

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“..on a monthly basis, there was no wage increase at all..”

October Payrolls, Average Hourly Earnings Miss Big (ZH)

Well, with virtually everyone expecting a 300K+ payrolls number after last month’s negative hurricane-distorted print, and with whispers of a 400K print floating around, it only made sense that not only would payrolls disppoint, printing at 261K, one standard deviation below the 310K consensus estimate (and that even with a whopping 89,000 waiters and bartenders added) .. but also that the far more important average hourly earnings number, which was expected to rise at a 2.7% rate Y/Y, also missed, printing at 2.4% instead with September revised lower to 2.8%. Worse, on a monthly basis, there was no wage increase at all, printing at 0.0% (technically it was a 1 cent decline), below the 0.2% expected, and the lowest since June 2015.

Average weekly earnings also disappointed, declining by 35 cents to $912.63, the first decline since May. It is also notable that after the September surge, the number of employed Americans per the Household Survey tumbled by 484K in October, to 153.961 million. That said, the real action this time was found in previous months, where September was revised higher from -33.000 to +18,000 while August was revised up from +169,000 to +208,000, for a total two month revision of +90,000. Additionally, the unemployment rate dropped to a new cycle low, declining from 4.2% to 4.1%, below the 4.2% expected, while the underemployment rate declined to 7.9%, the lowest since the start of the century.

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“..the civilian labor force shrunk by whopping 765,000 in one month.”

Record 95.4 Million Americans Not in Labor Force, 968,000 Exit In 1 Month (ZH)

In what was otherwise a mediocre jobs report, in which the establishment survey reported that a lower than expected 261K jobs were added to the post-Hurricane economy, the biggest surprise was not in the Establishment survey, but the household, where the unemployment rate tumbled once more, sliding to a new cycle low of 4.1%, for all the wrong reasons, because a quick look at the participation rate metrics showed that in October there was a sharp decline, with the labor force part. rate sliding from 63.1% to 62.7%, back to 4 decade lows…… driven by one disturbing metric: the number of people who exited the labor force soared by a near record 968,000 in October – the third highest on record – pushing the total number of people not in the labor force to a record 95.385 million, as the civilian labor force shrunk by whopping 765,000 in one month.

This took place as the number of employed Americans declined by 484,000, however since the unemployment rate denominator dropped more, it translated into an actual decline in the unemployment rate! So much for economist hopes that potential workers from the fringes are coming back to the labor force. Of course, the implication is even worse: with more slack being created in the form of workers who are leaving, not entering, the labor force, this creates a buffer for wage growth, and suggests that any hope for rapidly rising wages has once again been derailed.

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Not clear what they will be left with. FARA seems hard to prosecute.

Manafort Money Laundering Charge In Russia Probe May Face Challenges (R.)

When the lawyer for the former campaign manager of President Donald Trump attacked the money laundering charge brought against his client as flimsy, some legal experts say he may have pinpointed a potential weakness in the indictment by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller. Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates both pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that they failed to disclose they were lobbying for pro-Russia former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich between 2006 and 2015 and laundered tens of millions of dollars by funneling the money through dozens of companies, partnerships and bank accounts.

In a court filing on Thursday, Manafort defense lawyer Kevin Downing said the money laundering count, the most serious facing his client with a 20-year maximum sentence, was based on a “tenuous legal theory” tying it to his failure to register as a foreign agent of the former Ukrainian leader. [..] The language of the filing and defiant statements Downing made outside the courthouse following Manafort’s arraignment on Monday suggest the lawyer is planning an aggressive defense of the charges, the first to be made public from Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Kremlin has denied meddling and Trump has said there was no collusion. Neither Trump nor his campaign was mentioned in the indictments issued on Monday.

Downing will also be seeking to suppress evidence he said was improperly obtained by search warrant, according to an additional filing on Friday. Manafort’s Virginia home was raided by FBI agents over the summer. The money laundering statute targets financial transactions involving the proceeds of “specified unlawful activity.” According to the Manafort indictment, the unlawful activity was his violation of the U.S. Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Though the money laundering statute includes FARA violations, Seattle tax lawyer John Colvin said the charge against Manafort was not as straightforward as most other cases. “It doesn’t fit the normal paradigm” of money-laundering cases involving criminal activity like drug trafficking, Colvin said. “It seems like a stretch to me.”

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“Are there any like me out there who would like to see both parties tossed onto the garbage barge of history?”

Swamp-O-Rama (Jim Kunstler)

Now comes the news from Donna Brazille, on-again-off-again Democrat Party chair, that the primary elections were elaborately rigged by HRC functionaries to buy control of her nomination. Let’s not even go into the bidding for the Christopher Steele “dossier” alleging kinky sexual romps in Moscow by Donald Trump, or the activities in Ukraine of Tony Podesta’s DC lobbying company — that’s Tony, brother of John Podesta, Clinton campaign chief, whose emails remain a truffle cache for the rooting dogs of the DOJ, if they were actually on-the-task. I write this as a still-registered Democrat myself — though I consider myself their enemy now, yet hardly a Trump partisan. Are there any like me out there who would like to see both parties tossed onto the garbage barge of history?

Of course, to say that also means throwing out a cargo of terrible ideas and beliefs, not just two clown cars of personalities. Identity politics, zero interest rate policy, American Exceptionalism, endless debt, nation-building in foreign lands, FASB-157, sanctuary cities, Title IX coercion, racketeering in health care and higher ed, market interventions, ambiguous borders… is just some of the cargo that needs to be dumped overboard with both parties. Watergate begins to look as quaint and simple as a game of Chutes and Ladders compared to RussiaGate. Not only are both parties implicated one way or another in multiple nefarious schemes, plots, and intrigues, but the Department of Justice and its subsidiary, the FBI, look culpable in a range of cover-ups and mis-directions. If the DOJ becomes disabled, how does any of this get resolved?

The whole extravaganza is heading toward a constitutional crisis that might clean out the system like a Death Wish coffee enema. Sentiment may arise for Mr. Mueller to step aside, if President Trump doesn’t make the rash decision to simply fire him. The latter would certainly foment a constitutional crisis that could include an effort to run Trump over with the 25th amendment. In the event, we’ll be in a new kind of civil war.

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New deal.

How Democrats Can Beat The Republican Tax Cut (Bartlett)

To get back on offense, I think Democrats should stop trying to compete with Republicans on more distributionally fair tax cuts. When you can’t win, don’t play the game. Instead, they should say, if Republicans are willing to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion, let’s use that money for something the country really needs that will create a vastly greater number of jobs. That is a giant infrastructure program. There is no need to detail the myriad of ways that the money could be spent without coming close to exhausting the available projects. Roads, bridges, schools, hurricane repair projects, sea walls and such to protect against future climate catastrophes, the power grid and many, many more. Civil engineers periodically publish long lists of urgent infrastructure needs.

Not only would a big infrastructure program be capital that will pay off for decades, just as Republican Dwight Eisenhower’s national highway program did, but it will create vastly more jobs than any kind of tax cut, especially the one Republicans are proposing that would largely benefit the wealthy while providing no incentives for job creation or investment. The Congressional Budget Office has long provided estimates to Congress showing that direct spending by government on infrastructure has a much more powerful effect on economic growth than any type of tax cut. A February 2015 report showed that purchases of goods and services by the federal government would raise GDP by as much as $2.50 for every $1 spent. Grants to state and local government for infrastructure could create as much as $2.20 for every $1 spent.

By contrast, according to the same report, a temporary tax cut for the wealthy, such as Republicans propose today, would create at most 60 cents of GDP for every $1 of foregone revenue. A tax cut for the middle class is much better, creating as much as $1.50 of GDP for every $1 of revenue loss. Corporate tax cuts are the worst, creating at most 40 cents of GDP for every $1 of revenue loss. Some may say that these estimates are high, given that we are close to full employment, according to many economists. But the additional stimulus would draw many discouraged workers back into the labor force, especially if it created upward pressure on wages, which workers desperately need. Higher wages will raise consumer spending that will further increase growth.

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This is going spectacularly off the rails. Brussels can no longer insist it’s a domestic Spanish issue. Because Puidgemont is in …. Brussels.

European Arrest Warrant Issued For Catalan Leader Carles Puigdemont (G.)

A Spanish judge has issued an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s ousted president a day after she jailed eight members of the region’s separatist government pending possible charges over last week’s declaration of independence. In the latest twist in Spain’s worst political crisis in four decades, a national court judge on Friday issued a European arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont in response to a request from state prosecutors. Puigdemont flew to Brussels earlier this week with a handful of his deposed ministers after Spanish authorities removed him and his cabinet from office for pushing ahead with the declaration despite repeated warnings that it was illegal. Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer has already said his client will fight extradition without seeking political asylum.

Puigdemont was summoned to appear at Spain’s national court on Thursday to give evidence relating to possible charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds, but failed to appear. He has said he would only return to Spain if he were offered guarantees that the judicial process he would face were fair. Late on Friday, Puigdemont told the Belgian public TV channel RTBF that he would put his faith in the Belgian courts. He said: “I will not flee from justice. I will go towards justice, but real justice. I’ve told my lawyers to tell the Belgian justice system that I’m completely available to cooperate. “It’s obvious it’s politicised. The guarantees are not there for a fair, independent trial.”

It was Puigdemont first interview since arriving in Brussels on Monday and it he claimed there was “enormous influence of politics over the judiciary in Spain”. He said: “It’s not normal that we risk 30 years in prison, it’s extremely barbaric, we can not talk about democracy.” Puigdemont said he was ready to stand in the election, adding: “It’s possible to run a campaign from anywhere. We consider ourselves a legitimate government. “There must be a continuity to tell the world what’s going on in Spain … It’s not with a government in jail that the elections will be neutral, independent, normal.”

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Better make it a national emergency right now.

America’s Opioid Crisis Is About To Get Worse (ZH)

The simple chart below from the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime beautifully illustrates the next leg up in America’s opioid crisis. If you thought today’s situation was bad – think again. Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opium just logged a record crop harvest this year doubling last year’s production. Some how – some way, Afghanistan’s opium will find its way into a neighborhood near you. According to VOANEWS, Last year, poppies were cultivated on 201,000 hectares, yielding 4,700 tons of opium, up 46% from 2015. Sources told VOA’s Pashto service more than 10,000 tons of opium were produced this year. Opium then can be refined into heroin. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that opium accounted for some 16% of the country’s GDP last year, including more than two-thirds of the entire agricultural sector. In addition to fueling insecurity, violence and insurgency, the drug production is discouraging private and public investment, a UNODC report said.

This is a bad sign for President Trump who opted to call the opioid crisis a ‘public emergency’ rather than a full-blown ‘national emergency’. Highlights from Trump’s opioid crisis speech: In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Since 2000, over 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering both traffic crashes and gun-related deaths. In 2015, there were 52,404 drug overdose deaths — 33,091 of those deaths, almost two-thirds, involved the use of opioids. The situation has only gotten worse, with drug overdose deaths in 2016 expected to exceed 64,000. This represents a rate of 175 deaths a day.

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What happens when you transfer your food production abroad. Look, Cuba and Russia used it to their advantage.

‘No Deal’ Brexit To Add £930 A Year To UK Shopping Bills (G.)

Households face increases of up to £930 in their annual shopping bills if Britain walks away from Brexit talks without a trade deal, according to new research that reveals a disproportionate impact on poorer families and the unemployed. Meat, vegetables, dairy products, clothing and footwear would be subject to the largest consumer price rises under a “no-deal” scenario, according to a study published in the authoritative National Institute Economic Review, adding to inflationary pressures that have already forced the first interest rate rise in a decade this week. Stalled negotiations resume next week in Brussels, but the government is also about to publish a trade bill that would result in Britain being required to apply swingeing new tariffs on European imports if it falls back on World Trade Organisation rules.

Since WTO tariffs are highest for fresh food – reaching 45% for dairy products and 37% for meat – and much of this is currently imported from Europe, the team of economists predict an inflationary surge that could match that already inflicted by the falling pound. This would impact most on those least able to afford it, as poorer households typically spend a much higher proportion of their income on food and other essentials. For the 2m worst-affected households, the study predicts their weekly expenditure will rise by 2-4.7%, equivalent to £400-930 extra a year. “The overall increase in price in the affected goods is estimated to be 2.7% and this translates into an increase in the overall cost of living of 0.8-1.1% for a typical family, with the unemployed and families, those with children and pensioners hit hardest,” conclude the economists from the University of Sussex and Resolution Foundation.

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America takes revenge on Chavez.

Stalked By Default Fears, Venezuela Calls Creditor Meeting (AFP)

Venezuela on Friday called foreign creditors to a November 13 meeting in Caracas aiming to restructure its estimated $150 billion debt, as credit-rating agencies dealt the crisis-stricken country another blow with double downgrades. Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s long-term foreign currency rating to “CC” from “CCC-” over growing concerns of the risk of a debt default in the oil-producing country, while fellow agency Fitch cut the long-term debt rating to “C” from “CC.” The increasingly dire warnings followed President Nicolas Maduro’s calls to “investors across the whole world and to holders of Venezuelan debt” to attend a Caracas meeting November 13 “to start a process to refinance and renegotiate the external debt.”

His vice president, Tareck El Aissami, who is leading a commission tasked with the restructuring, said the government is seeking “sovereign commitments” for a debt renegotiation. Flanked by the ministers in charge of the economy, finance and energy, El Aissami confirmed the country had on Friday started to pay out $1.2 billion due to service the debt of state oil company PDVSA. Maduro announced Thursday that Venezuela would begin talks to refinance the debt immediately after that payment was made. El Aissami, one of the Venezuelan officials sanctioned by the United States due to alleged ties to drug trafficking, said the talks with creditors will “establish the groundwork to renegotiate the terms of the foreign debt of the Republic and of PDVSA.”

“We will begin a sovereign renegotiation of our debt and we will continue to comply fully, transparently, as our government has done historically,” he said in a televised statement. He noted that since 2014 Venezuela, which has the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, has paid nearly $72 billion in principal and interest payments on the debt. Maduro has repeatedly blamed the United States for the country’s woes, saying Washington is trying to strangle Venezuela with sanctions. US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August ban US trade in any new bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or PDVSA — a needed step in any restructuring. El Aissami denounced the “continued aggression, permanent sabotage, blockade and financial persecution” he said US President Donald Trump has imposed on the people of Venezuela.

But he said the sanctions really hurt bondholders and financial institutions. Much of Venezuela’s debt is held by China and Russia, to be paid off in oil – the resource that underpins the Venezuelan economy. The country has less than $10 billion in foreign currency reserves. Analysts were pessimistic about Venezuela’s chances of successfully restructuring its debt. “Venezuela’s options to keep up with its payments are shrinking rapidly, mainly because any restructuring needs to be matched with clear and credible economic reforms capable of winning the trust and support of bond-holders,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, an analyst at London-based IHS Markit.

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People will make themselves sick, self harm, just to get off the islands.

The Greek Island Camp Where Only The Sick Or Pregnant Can Leave (G.)

Eida was two months pregnant when she suffered a miscarriage. A month later, the 18-year-old Syrian refugee still feels angry and despondent. Not just that she lost a child. But that being pregnant was her ticket off the Greek island of Samos – and out of a squalid, barren, barb-wired camp. The young woman is one of around 3,000 refugees in Samos, one of the five Greek “hotspot” islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, designated by the EU to act as a barricade against massive irregular migrant arrivals from Turkey. Since March 2016, when Brussels concluded a controversial agreement with Ankara to curb migrant flows, only vulnerable cases are transferred from the hotspots to the Greek mainland. Eida had hoped to become one of those cases.

The rest are left with two options: languish under deplorable conditions in the camps until their asylum claims are examined, or pay local smuggling networks €1,000 or more to get ferried to the mainland. Anastasia Theodoridou, head of social services at Samos state hospital, says she routinely deals with cases like Eida’s. “Dozens of women come to the hospital desperate to find out they are pregnant. Other refugees are eager for a diagnosis of any serious condition. And if there is nothing wrong with them, they bring their spouses and children. Maybe one of them might have a chance of a diagnosis.” According to internal documents, the Samos hospital has handled 7,857 visits by refugees since the start of the year.

The grotesque paradox of refugees hoping to be ill to get favourable treatment casts a shadow on the EU’s narrative about the success of its response to the refugee crisis.The rosy outlook from Brussels is often based on statistics that show a sharp reduction in irregular daily crossings and deaths in the Aegean. This in turn has resulted in a broad desertion of the tragedy by the international community: journalists have long since gone home, NGOs are packing up, volunteers are few and far between and official funding has been reduced. But despite substantial EU support to Athens – €430m has been contracted according to the European commission – conditions at the Greek hotspots remain appalling. With the focus now shifting to refugees crossing the sea from Libya, Tunisia or Algeria, the situation here is still no less dramatic than a year ago. It is still a massive crisis, albeit a somewhat forgotten one.

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