Mar 182021
 
 March 18, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  57 Responses »


John William Waterhouse Hylas and the Nymphs 1896

 

Russian Ambassador To US Summoned Back To Moscow For Consultations (RT)
Biden: Putin Is A Killer (Ind.)
Biden Talks Cuomo, Putin, Migrants, Vaccine (ABC)
Joe Biden’s ‘Putin Is A Killer’ Claim A ‘Tantrum Of Powerlessness’ – MP (RT)
Past Covid Infections Don’t Confer Strong Enough Immunity (F.)
Why Vaccine Safety Experts Put The Brakes On AstraZeneca’s Vaccine (ScienceM)
Blanket ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Orders Imposed On English Care Homes (G.)
Will Adam Schiff Be California’s Next Top Cop? (G.)
A Big Win Against Anti-Tax Zealotry (DP)
Ohio AG Sues Biden Administration Over Pandemic Bill (Hill)
Fed Expects Growth Surge, Inflation Jump In 2021 But No Rate Hike (R.)
It Is Time To Remove The Debt Barrier To Economic Growth (Hudson/PCR)
Bitcoin Bros Rediscovering Our Monetary Past (AIER)
Woman Who Thought Being A Princess Was Too Hard, To Run For President (BBee)

 

 

 

 

This is a carefully planned attack by Warmongers “R” Us.

Russian Ambassador To US Summoned Back To Moscow For Consultations (RT)

Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, has been recalled to Moscow for in-person discussions on the country’s ongoing relations with Washington and Joe Biden’s administration, the Foreign Ministry has said.
In a statement announcing the envoy’s recall on Wednesday night, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the ambassador was needed in Moscow for “consultations to analyze what to do and where to head in the context of the relations with the US.” Representatives of the Foreign Ministry and other relevant agencies will participate in the discussions with Antonov about US relations going forward, she added.With the Biden team in power for almost two months, it was a good time to analyze “where it succeeds and where it fails,” she added.


For us, it’s important to determine possible ways of straightening out Russian-American relations, which remain in harsh conditions after being effectively led into a dead end by Washington in recent years. Moscow is “interested in avoiding the irreversible degradation” of its ties with Washington, Zakharova said, expressing the hope that Biden’s officials also understood the risks of such a scenario. The news of the ambassador’s recall came hours after the US Department of Commerce on Wednesday announced the expansion of Washington’s sanctions on exports to Russia. The fresh restrictions were imposed over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny – an allegation that Kremlin officials have repeatedly denied. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Moscow was “calm” about the new sanctions, as such measures had already been taken many times before. However, he pointed out that such moves by Washington reduced the chances of a “normalization of relations” between the parties.

Read more …

Bide plays some wise guy strongman role for which he is not suited.

Biden: Putin Is A Killer (Ind.)

US President Joe Biden said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer” when asked by ABC News host George Stephanopoulos. His question follows a federal investigation into Russian-linked cyber attacks and an intelligence report linking the Kremlin to election-related online interference that promoted Donald Trump and right-wing conspiracy theories in an attempt to discredit Mr Biden. Asked whether he believes Mr Putin is a “killer” in a pre-taped interview that aired on Wednesday, the president responded: “I do.” “The price he’s going to pay, you’ll see shortly,” he said. Mr Biden recalled meeting Mr Putin, during which he reportedly told him that he doesn’t “have a soul”: “I wasn’t being a wise guy.”

“He looked back at me and said, ‘We understand each other’,” Mr Biden said. A report released on Tuesday from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed that Russia sought to interfere with the 2020 presidential election with an expansive social media and online influence campaign similar to an operation from 2016. The newly declassified report also said that a network of Ukraine-linked individuals connected to Russian intelligence relied on “prominent US persons and media conduits to launder their narratives” alleging “corrupt ties” among members of Mr Biden’s family with Ukraine.


That 2020 misinformation campaign was aimed at “denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US,” according to the report. Mr Biden said he had warned his Russian counterpart about a potential response from the US during a call in January. “He will pay a price,” Mr Biden said. “We had a long talk … and the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”

Read more …

Biden has no idea what the vaccine does.

Biden Talks Cuomo, Putin, Migrants, Vaccine (ABC)

President Joe Biden sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for a wide-ranging interview Tuesday in which he said his message to migrants was to not come to the border and that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should resign if allegations he committed sexual harassment are confirmed. Biden also told Stephanopoulos that he agreed Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “killer” and would “pay a price” for interfering in U.S. elections. And he said it would be “tough” to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by May 1, a deadline set out in a deal former President Donald Trump’s administration made with the Taliban.


Biden told Stephanopoulos he was surprised that COVID-19 vaccinations were still so politicized. “How do you get the politics out of this vaccine talk?” Stephanopoulos asked. “I honest to God thought we had it out,” Biden said. “I honest to God thought that, once we guaranteed we had enough vaccine for everybody, things would start to calm down. Well, they have calmed down a great deal. But I don’t quite understand – you know – I just don’t understand this sort of macho thing about, ‘I’m not gonna get the vaccine. I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it.’ Well, why don’t you be a patriot? Protect other people.” Biden said getting vaccinated himself has let him to show Americans doing so is safe – and has changed his life “because I can hug my grandkids now.” “They come over to the house,” the president said. “I can see them. I’m able to be with them.”

Read more …

“Even former president Donald Trump, he claimed, “despite the decisions that were being made on sanctions, maintained rhetoric appropriate to the level of head of state.”

Joe Biden’s ‘Putin Is A Killer’ Claim A ‘Tantrum Of Powerlessness’ – MP (RT)

Explosive comments made by US President Joe Biden, in which he suggested his Russian counterpart is “a killer,” have ignited a diplomatic row, as Moscow’s chief parliamentarian said the remarks constitute an attack on the country. In a statement posted to Telegram, the speaker of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, said that “Biden has insulted the citizens of our country with his statement” about Vladimir Putin. “This is a tantrum that comes from powerlessness. Putin is our president, attacking him is an attack on our country,” he added. Volodin contrasted the tone of the criticism to that of previous US presidents, who, despite often overseeing tense relations with Russia, and the USSR before it, maintained mutual respect.


Even former president Donald Trump, he claimed, “despite the decisions that were being made on sanctions, maintained rhetoric appropriate to the level of head of state.” However, he argued, “Biden’s statement today is beyond common sense. This is no way for the leader of a country that claims to be a bearer of democratic principles and morality to behave.“ The American president made the remarks in an interview on Wednesday with the ABC news channel. He was asked by chief anchor George Stephanopoulos whether he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was “a killer.”“Mmm-hmm, I do,” Biden replied. Biden said he had warned Putin earlier this year that he would take action if evidence was found of Russian interference in the 2020 US election. “He will pay a price,” Biden said.

Read more …

How to sell a “vaccine”.

Past Covid Infections Don’t Confer Strong Enough Immunity (F.)

Most people who catch Covid-19 are unlikely to get sick from the disease again, but reinfection is more common than previously thought and older people face an especially high risk, according to a study Wednesday that researchers cast as proof that vaccines are the best form of protection against the coronavirus — even for people who have already been infected. The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, looked at millions of people who took PCR coronavirus tests through Denmark’s nationwide mass-testing initiative last year. Just 0.65% of those who tested positive for the virus during Denmark’s spring surge showed a positive result during the country’s second wave in the fall, suggesting a protection rate against reinfection of 80.5% according to a team of researchers from Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen.

Among people 65 and over, the protection rate was just 47.1%. Both are higher reinfections rate than other studies have found, a commentary published by Lancet noted.The study’s authors say elderly people could face a higher risk of reinfection from the coronavirus because their immune systems are less effective, a dire problem because the elderly are most vulnerable to severe illness and death from Covid-19.The researchers said this study shows vaccines are important for those who have already contracted the coronavirus, especially if they’re elderly, because “natural protection cannot be relied on.” The coronavirus vaccines that have been authorized so far vary in efficacy, but most appear to offer more protection than natural immunity.


“These data are all confirmation, if it were needed, that for SARS-CoV-2 the hope of protective immunity through natural infections might not be within our reach, and a global vaccination programme with high efficacy vaccines is the enduring solution,” the Lancet said in a commentary released alongside the study.

Read more …

How not to sell a vaccine.

Why Vaccine Safety Experts Put The Brakes On AstraZeneca’s Vaccine (ScienceM)

The decision this week by more than 20 European countries to temporarily stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has opened a rift between vaccine safety experts, who say the cases of serious clotting and bleeding that triggered the pause are alarming and unusual, and public health officials concerned that the immunization pause on a continent in the grip of the pandemic’s third wave could take a heavy toll. “The harm caused by depriving people of access to a vaccine will likely vastly outweigh even the worst case scenario if any link to the clotting disorders is eventually found,” University of Leeds virologist Stephen Griffin told the United Kingdom’s Science Media Centre. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization have recommended that countries continue immunizations while they investigate the reports.

Scientists don’t know whether the vaccine causes the syndrome, and if so, what the mechanism is. “Everyone’s scratching their heads: Is this a real signal?” says Robert Brodsky, a hematologist at Johns Hopkins University. But vaccine safety officials say they did not take the decision lightly, and that symptoms seen in at least 13 patients, all between ages 20 and 50 and previously healthy, in at least five countries are more frequent than would be expected by chance. The patients, at least seven of whom have died, suffer from widespread blood clots, low platelet counts, and internal bleeding—not typical strokes or blood clots. “It’s a very special picture” of symptoms, says Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency. “Our leading hematologist said he had never seen anything quite like it.”

A somewhat similar blood disorder, called immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), has been seen in at least 36 people in the United States who had received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19, The New York Times recently reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating these cases, but also said the syndrome did not appear to be more common in vaccinated people, and immunizations in the United States have continued. But Madsen says the cases seen in Europe in recent weeks are distinct from ITP, which lacks the widespread blood clots seen in the European patients. The United Kingdom, which has administered the AstraZeneca vaccine to more than 10 million people, has so far not reported similar clusters of unusual clotting or bleeding disorders.

In Europe, a 49-year-old intensive care nurse in Austria was one of the first cases. She died last week from what officials called “clotting disorders” that culminated in internal bleeding. (A colleague at the same hospital who received the vaccine developed lung embolisms, but was expected to recover.) A similar constellation of symptoms has been identified in four patients in Norway, two of whom have died, Madsen says.

Read more …

Imagine living in one and then reading this.

Blanket ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Orders Imposed On English Care Homes (G.)

Blanket orders not to resuscitate some care home residents at the start of the Covid pandemic have been identified in a report by England’s care regulator. A report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found disturbing variations in people’s experiences of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions during the pandemic. Best practice is for proper discussions to be held with the person involved and/or their relatives. While examples of good practice were identified, some people were not properly involved in decisions or were unaware that such an important decision about their care had been made. Poor record-keeping, and a lack of oversight and scrutiny of the decisions being made, was identified.

The report, Protect, respect, connect – decisions about living and dying well during Covid-19, calls for a ministerial oversight group – working with partners in health and social care, local government and the voluntary sector – to take responsibility for delivering improvements in this area. The report surveyed a range of individuals and organisations, including care providers and members of the public, and identified: • Serious concerns about breaches of some individuals’ human rights • Significant increase in DNACPRs put in place in care homes at the beginning of the pandemic, from 16,876 to 26,555 • 119 adult social care providers felt they had been subjected to blanket DNACPR decisions since the start of the pandemic • A GP sent DNACPR letters to care homes asking them to put blanket DNACPRs in place • In one care home a blanket DNACPR was applied to everyone over 80 with dementia.


Healthcare professionals emphasise that resuscitation is both invasive and traumatic with only a 15-20% survival rate when performed in hospitals and a 5-10% success rate when performed outside hospitals. However, concerns have been raised about both blanket DNACPR orders being put in place and such instructions being recorded on patients’ records without discussion or informed consent being given.

Read more …

“..his record as state senator and congressman, authoring legislation to increase the criminalization and incarceration of Black and brown Californians..”

“Here in California, we know him as someone who was, in many ways, one of the chief architects of mass incarceration..”

He sounds just like Kamala.

Will Adam Schiff Be California’s Next Top Cop? (G.)

As the lead prosecutor in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, Adam Schiff, the representative from southern California, became a household name, an icon of the anti-Trump resistance, and a rising star in the Democratic party. A year on, the congressman looks increasingly well positioned to be appointed as California’s next attorney general. But in Schiff’s home district, criminal justice and immigrant rights advocates say that his record as state senator and congressman, authoring legislation to increase the criminalization and incarceration of Black and brown Californians, should disqualify him from holding the position. “There’s this real disconnect,” said Jody Armour, a University of Southern California law professor who studies the intersection of race and legal decision making.

“The country knows Schiff as sort of an icon. Here in California, we know him as someone who was, in many ways, one of the chief architects of mass incarceration.” Schiff has reportedly been lobbying governor Gavin Newsom for the attorney general spot that will open up if the US Senate confirms Xavier Becerra as the Health and Human Services secretary later this week. House speaker Nancy Pelosi has given her blessings, and reportedly even a personal endorsement. Schiff, 60, began his career at a US district court in California, first as a law clerk and eventually as an assistant US attorney, rising to prominence for prosecuting the case against a former FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.


He was elected to the California state senate in 1996, and four years later moved to the US House of Representatives. There, he served as the chair of the powerful Intelligence Committee, becoming one of Pelosi’s closest confidants. As the lead impeachment manager pursuing Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Schiff’s fiery speeches gained him lavish praise from liberals, begrudging recognition from conservatives and $41m in campaign funds last election cycle. Schiff’s star power, his powerful allies in the Democratic party and fundraising prowess have set him up as a top contender for attorney general.

Read more …

“The language, slipped into the legislation at the last minute by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is designed to prevent federal money from subsidizing new tax cuts..”

Q: what’s the difference between Anti-Tax Zealotry and Anti-Vax Zealotry?

A Big Win Against Anti-Tax Zealotry (DP)

The American Rescue Plan’s $1.9 trillion of spending represents a significant and long overdue break with the budget-cutting, deficit-obsessed austerity ideology that has held sway since the Reagan Era. But that’s not all it does. A provision tucked into the final bill also aims to halt the anti-tax movement that has drained state and local coffers of resources to fund infrastructure, public education, and other basic social services. The language, slipped into the legislation at the last minute by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is designed to prevent federal money from subsidizing new tax cuts at a moment when some Republican-led states have been considering them.

“Money from COVID relief needs to go to helping every day Americans get through the pandemic, not paying for tax cuts for the rich,” Schumer said in a statement to The Daily Poster. “The American Rescue Plan explicitly prohibits states from using emergency COVID relief dollars to fund frivolous tax cuts. Governors should use this money to maintain public health and social assistance programs to fight the pandemic, and keep millions of other essential employees on the job and working for our communities.” The provision, coupled with Biden’s upcoming plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, represents the first significant effort to explicitly combat the anti-tax movement that has dominated American politics for the last half century.


Such efforts suggest Democrats have learned a valuable lesson since their 2009 economic stimulus bill about the importance of prioritizing public aid for local and state governments — and keeping that aid from being waylaid by Republicans’ anti-tax zealotry.

Read more …

Washington wants more power.

Ohio AG Sues Biden Administration Over Pandemic Bill (Hill)

Ohio’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Wednesday over a provision of the recently signed pandemic relief bill. In a complaint filed in federal district court in Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) challenged a provision in the legislation that forbids state and local government from using pandemic aid to offset tax cuts. “Ohio seeks to enjoin federal officials from enforcing the unconstitutional Tax Mandate, and seeks declaratory relief establishing that the State of Ohio, under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, retains the freedom to manage its own tax policy,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit was filed against Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the Treasury Department. Neither the White House nor the Treasury Department immediately responded when asked for comment.

President Biden signed the bill last week, authorizing aid including direct payments for individuals and $195.3 billion for states and Washington, D.C. — including about $5.5 billion for Ohio, according to the lawsuit. The aid is largely distributed based on each state’s number of unemployed workers. Yost argues in his lawsuit that Congress violated constitutional restraints in seeking to control how states set their tax policies. “By accepting that money, the State must sacrifice its sovereign authority to set tax policy as it sees fit, because changes to tax policy that reduce revenues violate the Tax Mandate,” the lawsuit reads. “Such violations could be used to force the State to return funding received through the Act.” [..] Carl Davis, the research director for the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said that the rhetoric from the conservative attorneys general has been overblown.


“There’s a lot of potential very positive uses for this money that states and localities could find in this moment,” Davis told The Hill. “It’s not intended to be a way to help states to go ahead and cut taxes, particularly for folks at the top, which is really what we’re talking about in a lot of these states that are objecting most loudly to the provision.” “So I think if a state believes that its budget is so strong, and it can afford to actually cut taxes and it’s not going to be doing those kinds of investments, dealing with the economic situation of the hardship we’re seeing right now, it would forego an equivalent amount of aid,” he added. Daniel Hemel, a tax law professor at the University of Chicago law school, agrees that the rhetoric from the attorneys general has been overblown but says that the tax provision in the relief bill is not “Congress’s best work.”

Read more …

Stop talking about markets, there’s only the Fed.

Fed Expects Growth Surge, Inflation Jump In 2021 But No Rate Hike (R.)

The U.S. economy is heading for its strongest growth in nearly 40 years, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday, and central bank policymakers are pledging to keep their foot on the gas despite an expected surge of inflation. “Strong data are ahead of us,” a confident Fed Chair Jerome Powell said after a two-day policy meeting, ticking off the list of forces Fed officials expect will produce 6.5% GDP growth this year – from massive federal fiscal stimulus to optimism around the success of coronavirus vaccines.“The (stimulus) checks are going out … COVID cases are coming down. Vaccination is moving quickly,” Powell said, marking a moment in which a body of top U.S. economic officials expect growth in the United States to rival that of China this year, not to mention surging quickly beyond that of Europe and Japan.


Fed officials, in fact, expect economic growth to remain above trend for at least two years to come, at 3.3% in 2022 and 2.2% in 2023, compared to estimated long-term potential growth of just 1.8%. While inflation is expected to jump to 2.4% this year, above the central bank’s 2% target, Powell said that is viewed as a temporary surge that will not change the Fed’s pledge to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate near zero as part of an effort to ensure the economic wounds from the pandemic are fully healed. [..] in overlooking the expected jump in inflation this year without a policy response, the Fed held true to its new framework and a pledge not to overreact at the first hint of rising prices, a reaction that has in the past been felt to nip off periods of growth before workers felt the full benefits.

Read more …

Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts.

It Is Time To Remove The Debt Barrier To Economic Growth (Hudson/PCR)

Out of habit, American economists worry about federal debt. But federal debt can be redeemed by the Federal Reserve printing the money with which to retire the bonds. The debt problem rests with individuals, companies, and state and local governments. They have no printing press. We have explained that the indebtedness of the population means there is little discretionary income with which to drive the economy. The offshoring of middle class jobs lowered incomes, and after paying debt service—mortgage interest, car payments, credit card interest, student loan debt—Americans’ pockets are empty. This situation has been worsened by Covid lockdowns. In the US the federal government has sent out a few Covid payments to help keep people’s heads above water as they face expenses without income.

The financial press refers to these Covid checks as “fiscal stimulus,” but there is no stimulus. The Covid checks do not come close to replacing the missing wages, salaries and business profits from lockdowns. Corporations have indebted themselves and impaired their capitalization by borrowing money with which to repurchase their stock. This has built up their debt in the face of stagnant or declining consumer discretionary income. We propose to deal with the debt crisis by forgiving debts as was done in ancient times. Our basic premise is that debts that cannot be paid won’t be. Widespread foreclosures and evictions would further worsen the distribution of income and wealth and further contrain the ability of the economy to grow. Writing debt down to levels that can be serviced would clear the decks tor a real recovery.

Income that would be siphoned off in debt service would instead be available to purchase new goods and services. A few economists muttered that we were overlooking the “moral hazzard” of absolving people of their debts. But leaving the economy stagnated in debt is also a moral hazzard. Policymakers did not endorse our proposal, but, in effect, policymakers adopted our policy. However, instead of forgiving the debt itself, they forgave payment of the debt service. Individuals and businesses who cannot pay their landlords or lenders cannot be evicted or foreclosed until June. This doesn’t hurt the lenders or banks, because the loans are not in default, and their balance sheet is not impaired. The banks add the unpaid payments to their assets, and their balance sheets remain sound.

When June arrives, the prohibition against eviction and foreclosure will have to be extended as the accrued debt service cannot be paid. Extending the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions will just build up arrears. Is the implication a perpetual moratorium? The question is: If policymakers are willing to forgive debt service, why not just forgive the debt. The latter is neater and clears the decks for an economic renewal.

Read more …

Solid discussion. Welcome.

Bitcoin Bros Rediscovering Our Monetary Past (AIER)

All eyes on bitcoin, it seems, as the price hits new all-time-highs, its proponents celebrate, and the economists who have long pronounced it dead and useless scratch their head in confusion (any “bubble” pronouncements as of late?)“The discomforting reality for the early idealists,” wrote Izabella Kaminska, a long-time critic of cryptocurrencies, before the price explosion in recent months, “is that 12 years on, the bitcoin ecosystem has more in common with the incumbent one it was hoping to displace than that original utopian vision.” She’s more right than she knows. In one sense, we should probably celebrate this as it means that bitcoin is approaching the monetary commodity dream it always harbored: it is running into some eternal troubles common to all monetary systems.

Even better, we should take the opportunity to teach some monetary history, as those in the crypto world have never been particularly well-versed in our monetary past. The audience they cater to is even less informed and so the “bitcoin heroes” – Saifedean Ammous, Robert Breedlove etc – are celebrated for their wisdom, no matter how rudimentary or inaccurate. It’s easy to discard an entire field of centuries-long academic inquiries, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it, or only investigated a caricature. Some humility is recommended since, as Denis Patrick O’Brien writes in his collection of scholarly articles The Development of Monetary Economics, “Monetary economics has attracted some of the very best people to have written about economic problems.”

In contrast to Bitcoin’s money supply mechanism, set in stone since its origin, many of bitcoin’s rivals – “alt-coins” or “sh**coins” – want to set their own monetary policy, laid down arcane rules in fancy white papers that only the insiders have the discretion to change. This dispute over rules and discretion about who runs the printing press is about three centuries old if not more, and was thoroughly investigated by the likes of Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Tooke, Horsley Palmer, Walter Bagehot, John Clapham and others. Some of the seemingly novel features of many cryptocurrency innovations are not so novel, and quickly run into precisely the problems that plagued past economies; these were promptly examined and argued over by monetary economists long since dead and forgotten.

When Bitcoin was small and insignificant, the dollar-cost of sending value across the network was minuscule. For the first few years of the cryptocurrency’s existence, this was among the best reasons to use it: you could send any amount, to anyone in the world, much cheaper and much faster than the legacy banking system of the 2000s. That was roughly correct. Legacy systems were slow and expensive, and doing international banking only 15-20 years ago caused headaches to plenty more people than money launderers.

The Internet, effective competition, and the rise of fintechs changed all that – but the most vocal bitcoiners remained in the past that the legacy system had long left behind, thinking that their magnificent invention still trumped the system against which bitcoin was created. For most uses it doesn’t: unless you’re living under authoritarian regimes or are trying to do business in the legal grey (two very important, yet comparatively small, market segments), using bitcoin for its initial transactional purposes isn’t that great.

Read more …

“Experts say that Markle may be the most qualified presidential candidate to ever run for office since she is a Democrat woman of color and has a ton of useful experience as a princess.”

Woman Who Thought Being A Princess Was Too Hard, To Run For President (BBee)

The former Duchess of Sussex, who left the royal family after realizing how hard it was to be a princess, is now eyeing a presidential run. According to sources, Meghan Markle is networking with Democratic leaders for a possible shot at becoming America’s first female president. “Being a princess was, like, the absolute worst,” said Markle to some trusted political consultants. “There were so many things to do, and so many annoying obligations I had to fulfill. I think being President of the United States will be much easier. Let’s do that instead!” Experts say that Markle may be the most qualified presidential candidate to ever run for office since she is a Democrat woman of color and has a ton of useful experience as a princess.


“Meghan Markle may be the one to finally save America and get all those migrant kids out of cages,” said local Meghan Markle enthusiast Camy Fumbertook. “Obama was a letdown, and Biden was a letdown, but I think Markle will be totally different due to her womanness and person-of-colorness.” In a statement, Biden announced support of Markle’s future run. “Don’t worry, sweetie,” he said as he descended his basement stairs for another nap. “The presidency is way easier than being a princess.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

International trash-talk:

5. You are a potato with the face of a guinea pig (French)
4. Your brain is like two walnuts in a bag (Arabic)
3. My foot is in your butt’s destiny (Urdu)
2. You’re the son of a gender-neutral dog (Bengali)
1. Your gran masturbates standing up (German)

 

 

You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.


Lá fhéile pádraig

Seamus Heaney

 

 

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

 

Feb 152021
 
 February 15, 2021  Posted by at 3:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Giorgione The Tempest 1508

 

 

“Mankind’s only chance to not destroy its planet lies in diverging from all other species in that not all energy available to it, is used up as fast as possible. But that’s a big challenge. It would, speaking from a purely philosophical angle, truly separate us from nature for the first time ever, and we must wonder if that’s desirable.”

 

I wrote that 4 years and 2 months ago today, and I’m still thinking about it. It came to mind again, along with the article it comes from, see below, when I saw a few recent references to climate change, and to how any policy to halt it should be financed. It’s all painfully obvious.

Bill Gates, while on a virtual book tour, says governments should pay. In particular for the innovation needed. We’re going to solve it all with things we haven’t invented yet. That kind of thinking never fails to greatly boost my confidence in people and their ideas.

Overall, Gates’ words feel like a stale same old same old been there done that tone. But one thing is changing. Since Joe Biden became the most popular US president ever, according to his vote count, there is now a climate czar at the US Treasury, and a climate change team at the US Fed. Progress! At least for those seeking to use your money to solve their problems.

 

Bill Gates: Solving Covid Easy Compared With Climate

Mr Gates’s new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, is a guide to tackling global warming. [..] Net zero is where we need to get to. This means cutting emissions to a level where any remaining greenhouse gas releases are balanced out by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere. One way to do this is by planting trees, which soak up CO2 through their leaves. Mr Gates’ focus is on how technology can help us make that journey. Renewable sources like wind and solar can help us decarbonise electricity but, as Mr Gates points out, that’s less than 30% of total emissions.

We are also going to have to decarbonise the other 70% of the world economy – steel, cement, transport systems, fertiliser production and much, much more. We simply don’t have ways of doing that at the moment for many of these sectors. The answer, says Mr Gates, will be an innovation effort on a scale the world has never seen before. This has to start with governments, he argues. At the moment, the economic system doesn’t price in the real cost of using fossil fuels. Most users don’t pay anything for the damage to the environment done by pollution from the petrol in their car or the coal or gas that created the electricity in their home.

“Right now, you don’t see the pain you’re causing as you emit carbon dioxide,” is how Mr Gates puts it. That’s why he says governments have to intervene. “We need to have price signals to tell the private sector that we want green products,” he says. That is going to require a huge investment by governments in research and development, Mr Gates argues, as well as support to allow the market for new products and technologies to grow, thereby helping drive down prices.

 

Yes, a climate change team at the US Fed. Which has been handed yet another mandate. Because the Treasury can only do so much, after all. What you want and need is something unlimited to pay for all those yet-to-be-invented tools that Bill Gates and his ilk will be happy to research with your money. Jim Rickards has this:

 

Green New Deal Is Underway

The overall Green New Deal calls for ending the use of oil and natural gas, moving to electric vehicles, solar, wind and geothermal power, imposing carbon taxes to reduce C02 emissions and providing government subsidies to non-carbon-based energy technologies. The U.S. would also seek to embed these policies and priorities in new trade treaties and multilateral agreements. President Biden has already begun this process by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, which actually doesn’t mean much; it’s mostly for show. The Paris Accord is also a platform for pursuing the Green New Deal.

[..] With the job creation mandate in its portfolio, the Fed was empowered to interfere with almost every aspect of the real economy, including jobs, inflation, interest rates, liquidity and financial regulation. As if that weren’t enough, economist Barry Eichengreen now calls on central banks, especially the Fed, to use their regulatory powers to control climate change! Part of the agenda would address racial inequality, income inequality and credit access for underprivileged groups. These may be laudable goals, but it’s a long way from the Fed’s role as lender of last resort.

What’s frightening about this push to expand the Fed’s mandate is not that it can’t work, but that it could. A central bank could require commercial banks to lend money to solar and wind generating companies and deny credit to oil companies. A central bank could require more loans to disadvantaged neighborhoods and require that no credit be made available to gun manufacturers or gun dealers. There is no aspect of the economy and business activity that could not be affected positively by mandatory credit or destroyed by the lack of credit and access to the payments system.

This is already being done to some extent by cabals of commercial banks. It would be even more powerful if required by central banks. This is exactly the outcome that has been warned about for centuries by philosophers and political scientists. It is exactly the reason Americans abolished two U.S. central banks in the 19th century.

 

This is precisely what I was warning about in December 2016, when the protagonists were Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg, who wrote “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change”. If you are serious about saving your planet, you’re not going to listen to the ideas of billionaires and central bankers. Because they are the people behind the original problem, and the only tools they know of are the ones who created that problem.

You can’t solve a problem with the same tools that created it. And you’re not going to solve the climate problem by seeking to make a profit from it. Here’s from 2016. Oh wait, do remember that our societies and economies don’t run on using energy, but on wasting it. If you haven’t internalized that one, take a few steps back and try again.

 

 

Heal the Planet for Profit (December 16, 2016)

 


Parisians duck down to evade German sniper fire following Nazi surrender of Paris, 1945

 

 

If you ever wondered what the odds are of mankind surviving, let alone ‘defeating’, climate change, look no further than the essay the Guardian published this week, written by Michael Bloomberg and Mark Carney. It proves beyond a moonlight shadow of a doubt that the odds are infinitesimally close to absolute zero (Kelvin, no Hobbes).

Yes, Bloomberg is the media tycoon and former mayor of New York (which he famously turned into a 100% clean and recyclable city). And since central bankers are as we all know without exception experts on climate change, as much as they are on full-contact crochet, it makes perfect sense that Bank of England governor Carney adds his two -trillion- cents.

Conveniently, you don’t even have to read the piece, the headline tells you all you need and then some: “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change” really nails it. The entire mindset on display in just a few words. If that’s what they went for, kudo’s are due.

These fine gents probably actually believe that this is perfectly in line with our knowledge of, say, human history, of evolution, of the laws of physics, and of -mass- psychology. All of which undoubtedly indicate to them that we can and will defeat the problems we have created -and still are-, literally with the same tools and ideas -money and profit- that we use to create them with. Nothing ever made more sense.

That these problems originated in the same relentless quest for profit that they now claim will help us get rid of them, is likely a step too far for them; must have been a class they missed. “We destroyed it for profit” apparently does not in their eyes contradict “we’ll fix it for profit too”. Not one bit. It does, though. It’s indeed the very core of what is going wrong.

Profit, or money in general, is all these people live for, it’s their altar. That’s why they are successful in this world. It’s also why the world is doomed. Is there any chance I could persuade you to dwell on that for a few seconds? That, say, Bloomberg and Carney, and all they represent, are the problem dressed up as the solution? That our definition of success is what dooms us?

Philosophers, religious people, or you and me, may struggle with the question “what’s the purpose of life?”. These guys do not. The purpose of life is to make a profit. The earth and all the life it harbors exist to kill, drill, excavate and burn down, if that means you can make a profit. And after that you repair it all for a profit. In their view, the earth doesn’t turn of its own accord after all, it’s money that makes it go round.

 

The worrisome thing is that Mark and Michael will be listened to, that they are allowed a seat at the table in the first place, whereas you and I are not. A table that will be filled with plenty more of their ilk, as the announcement of Bill Gates’ billionaire philantropist energy fund says loud and clear:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and a group of high-profile executives are investing $1 billion in a fund to spur clean energy technology and address global climate change a year after the Paris climate agreement. Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund on Monday along with billionaire entrepreneurs such as Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma and Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos. The fund seeks to increase financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to help meet goals set in Paris, according to a statement by the investor group known as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Yes, many of the same folk and/or their minions were sitting at the table with Trump on Dec 14. To see if there are any profits to be made. When a profit is involved they have no trouble sitting down with the same guy they insulted and warned against day after grueling day mere weeks ago. They have no trouble doing it because they insulted him for a potential profit too. It’s business, it’s not personal.

Billionaires will save us from ourselves, and make us -and themselves- rich while doing it. What is not to like? Well, for one thing, has anybody lately checked the energy footprint of Messrs. Bloomberg, Gates, Ma, Zuckerberg, Bezos et al? Is it possible that perhaps they’re trying to pull our collective wool over our eyes by pretending to care about those footprints? That maybe these ‘clean energy’ initiatives are merely a veil behind which they intend to extend -and expand- said footprints?

The ones in that sphere who wind up being most successful are those who are most convincing in making us believe that all we need to do to avert a climate disaster is to use some different form of energy. That all the talk about zero emissions and clean energy is indeed reflecting our one and only possible reality.

That all we need to do is to switch to solar and wind and electric cars to save ourselves (and they’ll build them for a subsidy). That that will end the threat and we can keep on doing what we always did, and keep on growing it all and as the cherry on the cake, make a profit off the endeavor.

 

None of it flies even a little. First of all, as I said last week in Mass Extinction and Mass Insanity, there are many more problems with our present lifestyles than ‘only’ climate change, or the use of carbon. Like the extinction of two-thirds of all vertebrate life in just 50 years leading up to 2020. There’s -close to- nothing wind and solar will do to alleviate that.

Because it’s not oil itself, or carbon in general, that kills; our use of it does. And the rush to build an entire new global infrastructure that is needed to use new energy forms, which will depend on using huge amounts of carbon, is more likely to kill off that globe than to save it. “Carbon got us in this, let’s use lots more of it to get us out”.

The trillions in -public- investment that would be needed will make us all dirt poor too, except for the gentlemen mentioned above and a handful of others who invent stuff that they manage to make us believe will save us. Still convinced?

 

The lifestyles of the last 10 generations of us, especially westerners, are characterized more than anything else by the huge increase in the use of energy, of calories and joules. As we went from wood to peat to coal to oil and gas, the energy return on energy investment kept going higher. But that stopped with oil and gas. And from now on in it will keep going down.

“Free carbon excess” was a one-off ‘gift’ from nature. It will not continue and it will not return. Different forms of carbon have offered us a one-time source of free energy that we will not have again. The idea that we can replace it with ‘clean energy’ is ludicrous. The energy return on energy investment doesn’t even come close. And you can’t run a society with our present levels of complexity on a much lower ‘net energy’. We must dress down. No profit in that, sorry.

We built what we have now with oil at an EROEI of 100:1. There are no forms of energy left that come remotely close, including new, unconventional, forms of oil itself. Peak oil has been a much maligned and misunderstood concept, but its essence stands: when it takes more energy to ‘produce’ energy than it delivers, there will be no production.

This graph is a few years old, and wind and solar may have gained a few percentage points in yield, but it’s still largely correct. And it will continue to be.

 

 

We have done with all that free energy what all other life forms do when ‘gifted’ with an excess of available energy: spend it as fast as possible, proliferate to speed up the process (we went from less than 1 billion people to 7 billion in under 200 years, 2 billion to 7 billion in 100 years) and, most of all, waste it.

Ever wonder why everybody drives a car that is ten times heavier then her/himself and has a 10% efficiency rate in its energy use? Why there’s an infrastructure everywhere that necessitates for every individual to use 1000 times more energy than it would take herself to get from A to B on foot? Sounds a lot like deliberately wasteful behavior, doesn’t it?

The essence here is that while we were building this entire wasteful world of us, we engaged in the denying and lying behavior that typifies us as a species more than anything: we disregarded externalities. And there is no reason to believe we would not continue to do just that when we make the illusionary switch to ‘clean’ energy.

To begin with, the 2nd law of thermodynamics says there’s no such thing as clean energy. So stop using the term. Second, that we call wind and solar ‘clean energy’ means we’re already ignoring externalities again. We pretend that producing windmills and solar panels does not produce pollution (or we wouldn’t call it ‘clean’). While enormous amounts of carbon are used in the production process, and it involves pollution, loss of land, loss of life, loss of resources (once you burn it it’s gone).

 

An example: If we want to ‘save’ the earth, we would do good to start by overthrowing the way we produce food. It presently easily takes more than 10 calories of energy -mostly carbon- for every calorie of food we make. Then we wrap it all in (oil-based) plastic and transport it sometimes 1000s of miles before it’s on our plates. And at the end of this process, we will have thrown away half of it. It’s hard to think of a more wasteful process.

It’s a process obviously devised and executed by idiots. But it’s profitable. There is a profit to be made in wasting precious resources. And there is a key lesson in that. There is no profit in producing food in a more efficient way. At least not for the industries that produce it. And perhaps not even for you, if you produce most of your food – it takes ‘precious’ time.

It would still be hugely beneficial, though. And there’s the key. There is no direct link between what is good for us, and the planet, on the one side, and profit, money, on the other. What follows from that is that it’s not the people whose entire lives are centered around money who are the most obvious choices to ‘save the planet’. If anything, they are the least obvious.

But in an economic and political system that is itself as focused on money as ours is, they are still the ones who are allowed to assume this role. It’s a circle jerk around, and then into, a drain.

 

Mankind’s only chance to not destroy its planet lies in diverging from all other species in that not all energy available to it, is used up as fast as possible. But that’s a big challenge. It would, speaking from a purely philosophical angle, truly separate us from nature for the first time ever, and we must wonder if that’s desirable.

We would need to gain much more knowledge of who we are and what makes us do what we do, and why. But that is not going to happen if we focus on making a profit. Using less energy means less waste means less profit.

Yes, there may be energy sources that produce a bit less waste, a bit less pollution, than those that are carbon based. But first, our whole infrastructure has been built by carbon, and second, even if another energy source would become available, we would push to grow its use ever more, and end up initially in the same mess, and then a worse one.

 

 

I stumbled upon an excellent example of the effects of all this today:

The Shattering Effect Of Roads On Nature

Rampant road building has shattered the Earth’s land into 600,000 fragments, most of which are too tiny to support significant wildlife, a new study has revealed. The researchers warn roadless areas are disappearing and that urgent action is needed to protect these last wildernesses, which help provide vital natural services to humanity such as clean water and air. The impact of roads extends far beyond the roads themselves, the scientists said, by enabling forest destruction, pollution, the splintering of animal populations and the introduction of deadly pests.

An international team of researchers analysed open-access maps of 36m km of road and found that over half of the 600,000 fragments of land in between roads are very small – less than 1km2. A mere 7% are bigger than 100km2, equivalent to a square area just 10km by 10km (6mi by 6 mi). Furthermore, only a third of the roadless areas were truly wild, with the rest affected by farming or people.

The last remaining large roadless areas are rainforests in the Amazon and Indonesia and the tundra and forests in the north of Russia and Canada. Virtually all of western Europe, the eastern US and Japan have no areas at all that are unaffected by roads.

 

 

It’s a good example because it raises the question: how much of this particular issue do you think will be solved by the promotion of electric cars, or windmills? How much of it do you think can be solved for a profit? Because if there’s no profit in it, it will not happen.

One more for the philosophy class: I know many people will be inclined to suggest options like nuclear fusion. Or zero point energy. And I would suggest that not only do these things exist in theory only, which is always a bad thing if you have an immediate problem. But more than that: imagine providing the human race with a source of endless energy, and then look at what it’s done with the free energy available to it over the past 10 generations.

Give man more energy and he’ll just destroy his world faster. It’s not about carbon, it’s about energy and about what you yourself do with it. And no, money and profit will not reverse climate change, or any other detrimental effects they have on our lives. They will only make them worse.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Feb 042021
 
 February 4, 2021  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


MC Escher Balcony 1945

 

‘Deadly Carrot’-Derived Antiviral Could Be Magic Bullet (RT)
5.8 Million Fewer Babies: America’s Lost Decade in Fertility (IFS)
Dallas Fed’s Kaplan: Reddit-Fueled Trading Frenzy Driven Partly By Fed (R.)
Beware Of Social Media-Fuelled Bubbles In Market – French Regulator (R.)
The Stock Market Is Broken, Now for All to See (WS)
The Insiders’ Game (Sacks)
SWIFT Sets Up Digital Currency Joint Venture With China’s Central Bank (R.)
“It Can’t Happen Here” (Rickards)
Andrew Cuomo Was a Villain All Along (NR)
Media Runs Defense as Amazon Caught Stealing Millions From Workers (MPN)
Defense Sec. Orders 60-Day Stand-down To Confront Extremism In Military (MT)
US Admiral Warns Nuclear War With Russia, China a ‘Real Possibility’ (Antiwar)
Xi, Putin Make The Case For Win-Win, Not Zero-Sum (Escobar)
If BlacK Lives Matter Wins Nobel, Rename It ‘Mostly Peaceful’ Prize (RT)

 

 

The Working Class pay taxes.
The Middle Class pay accountants.
The Upper Class pay politicians.

 

 

There’s a new meme in town: #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett. No comment.

 

 

Psaki calls out RT and Sputnik in front of the MSM. It’s too much.

 

 

“..several hundred times more effective than the current arsenal of antiviral treatments and is also effective against combined infections.”

‘Deadly Carrot’-Derived Antiviral Could Be Magic Bullet (RT)

Scientists are extolling the efficacy of a wonder drug in combating not only Covid-19 but influenza and other respiratory illnesses, in what may pave the way for a new generation of medicines to prevent future pandemics. Researchers led by a team at the University of Nottingham discovered that the broad spectrum antiviral thapsigargin has shown to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 (which causes Covid-19), a common cold coronavirus, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as well as influenza A virus. Acute respiratory infections can be somewhat indistinguishable from one another on initial presentation to a doctor, which may result in lost time in terms of deploying the correct treatment. However, with an effective, broad-spectrum antiviral that can handle many of the main, more serious culprits with ease, it could yield far more positive outcomes for patients and medical practitioners.

Furthermore, it could also turn the tide against spontaneous community outbreaks of certain infections, including the dreaded clusters of Covid-19 which humanity can expect even after widespread vaccine rollout. The researchers, led by Professor Kin-Chow Chang, closely examined the plant-derived antiviral and put it through its paces against a number of pathogens. They found that it triggers a highly effective antiviral immune response against three major types of human respiratory viruses, and works before or during active infection, while preventing a virus from self-replicating for at least 48-hours, a critical component in stamping out community infections.

The drug remains stable in hostile, acidic environments, such as the human stomach, meaning it can be administered orally, without the need for injection or hospital admission, saving precious resources in the process. The researchers also claim the drug, derived from the ‘deadly carrot’ thapsia plant, is several hundred times more effective than the current arsenal of antiviral treatments and is also effective against combined infections. A derivative of the drug has been used in prostate cancer treatment, so concerns about safety in humans have already been allayed.


“The current pandemic highlights the need for effective antivirals to treat active infections, as well as vaccines, to prevent the infection,” Chang said, adding that future pandemics are likely to be zoonotic in nature, either animal-to-human or vice versa, so treating viral infections in humans and animals is crucial to prevent future catastrophe. The drug may mark the beginning of a new generation of powerful, host-centred antivirals, resulting in a holistic “One Health” approach to control both human and animal viruses and, hopefully at least, prevent further pandemics from inflicting such damage on the human race.

Read more …

And that’s before suspected COVID influence on -male- fertility.

5.8 Million Fewer Babies: America’s Lost Decade in Fertility (IFS)

Fertility rates have fallen around the world over the last decade—even in countries with generous social welfare states, which experts had long expected to be holdouts in the face of fertility declines. But while demographers often talk about this change in terms of “fertility rates” or “births per woman,” another way to tally the total is in terms of missing births. That is, if the population of women who might have kids changed the way it did over the last decade, and if fertility rates had remained at their 2008 levels (the last time we had replacement-rate fertility in America), how many more babies would have been born?


The answer is 5.8 million babies. Since births in the U.S. actually tend to run around 4 million per year, that’s almost like saying nobody had a baby for a year and a half. Figure 1 below shows the difference between the number of babies actually born to moms of each major racial or ethnic group tracked by the CDC from 2009-2019, and the number that would have been born, had 2008 fertility rates remained stable but underlying population totals changed in the same way.

The lion’s share of “missing babies” would have been born to Hispanic moms. That’s because in 2008, Hispanic moms could expect to have about 2.8 kids on average; now, they can expect to have about 2. Fertility rates declining by almost a third is a huge change, resulting in a loss of 2.7 million Hispanic babies that would otherwise have been born. Non-Hispanic whites make up the second biggest category of missing babies, with almost 2 million missing births. But that’s a bit of an illusion: in fact, non-Hispanic white fertility rates experienced the least amount of decline of any group (from 1.9 children per woman to 1.6; Asian-Americans have always been lower, falling from 1.8 to 1.5). But the number of potential non-Hispanic white moms is very large. Figure 2 below shows the percentage difference between actual births each year, and the expected number of births for that group and year.

Read more …

“Some of the current situation you are seeing – one of the factors – is there is a lot of liquidity, and some of that relates to Fed purchases..”

Dallas Fed’s Kaplan: Reddit-Fueled Trading Frenzy Driven Partly By Fed (R.)

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan said Tuesday that while the Fed’s massive bond-buying program is creating plenty of liquidity in financial markets, there are no signs of broad market instability at present. “I don’t see anything right now systemic,” Kaplan said in a CNBC interview, responding to a question about a possible link between the Reddit-fueled frenzy in GameStop Corp shares and monetary policy. Kaplan did not comment on GameStop directly, and instead addressed the broader question of how Fed policy affects financial markets.


“Some of the current situation you are seeing – one of the factors – is there is a lot of liquidity, and some of that relates to Fed purchases of $80 billion of Treasuries and $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities every month: I think it’s wise for us to acknowledge that.” The Fed has kept interest rates near zero since last March and has pledged to keep them there until the economy has returned to full employment and inflation has reached, and is on track to overshoot, the Fed’s 2% goal. It has also said it will keep buying at least $120 billion of bonds each month until there is “substantial further progress” toward the Fed’s full employment and 2% inflation goals, a benchmark that Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida has said may not be reached until next year.

Read more …

“Customers with direct market access are welcome, but raises questions about… new ways to manipulate markets..”

Let’s stick with the old ways.

Beware Of Social Media-Fuelled Bubbles In Market – French Regulator (R.)

An increase in retail investors flocking to online brokers during the coronavirus pandemic risks creating “bubbles” engineered by social media, France’s top markets regulator said on Wednesday. Robert Ophele, chair of France’s AMF markets watchdog, said the trading frenzy fuelled by posts on the Reddit forum and surge in bitcoin prices have shown how technology and social media can bring “irrationality” to financial markets. “Customers with direct market access are welcome, but raises questions about… new ways to manipulate markets with a social media dimension,” Ophele told an Afore Consulting webinar.

Read more …

Step 1: stop calling it a market.

The Stock Market Is Broken, Now for All to See (WS)

It has finally blown into the open for all to see. The stock market has been broken for a while, for a long time, actually. The idea that the stock market is where price discovery takes place on a rational transparent basis, with ups and downs, and some amount of chaos, but free of rampant manipulations – that idea has now totally imploded. What has been visible for a long time but now blew into the open is just how manipulated the market is, by all sides, how overleveraged the big players are because the Fed encouraged them to, and how enormous the risks are, and how crazy the trading strategies are. And the stock market soared to record out-of-whack valuations, in a terrible economy where at least 10 million people have lost their jobs and are still out of work, and where entire industries have gotten crushed.


The whole thing is propped up by stimulus and bailout payments to consumers and companies alike. And then came a new force – or rather the force wasn’t new, but the magnitude was: regular folks ganging together in the social media, particularly on Reddit’s WallStreetBets, and they were deeply cynical about the fake markets and they saw an opportunity, and they conspired to make a ton of money and push some hedge funds over the cliff, by buying long the most shorted stocks, in other words, they conspired to engineer a historic short-squeeze. This coordinated buying by the crowd on WallStreetBets, of a handful of small most-shorted stocks, drove up their prices sometimes by 100% or more in a day, which pushed the hedge funds that were short these stocks to the brink. And it pushed online broker Robinhood to the brink. And it revealed for all to see just how broken the stock market has been.

Read more …

“With the Town Square now digitized, centralized, and privatized in the hands of a cartel of Big Tech companies, the protections of the First Amendment no longer apply.”

The Insiders’ Game (Sacks)

Some of us warned of a slippery slope when Parler was taken down and a sitting president was systematically ghosted from every online speech platform. But we could not have foreseen how slippery the slope would be, or how fast we would slide down it. We were told that the curbs on speech of President Trump and his supporters were necessary to prevent further “insurrection” and protect the peaceful transition of power. However, much like the troops and barricades that still ring the Capitol, these speech restrictions remain in place well after the transition of power has occurred. The censorship power is always justified in response to a genuine outrage or crisis, but it is rarely relinquished once the threat passes. Rather it gets weaponized to protect powerful, connected insiders, as the GameStop fiasco illustrates.

How do we suppose Discord chose that moment to enforce its “Community Guidelines” against WallStreetBets? Almost certainly, one of the hedge funds whose ox was being gored combed through their message boards looking for anything that might violate the terms of service. And surely they found it, as these boards contain the same raunchy language you would hear if you visited any trading floor or boiler room on Wall Street. They presumably reported the content to Discord, which took the group down. Did Discord warn WallStreetBets of content violations before last Wednesday? I’m sure they did. Amazon sent such a warning letter to Parler as well. Frankly, such a letter could be, and likely is, sent to every large message board on the web.

The founder of a user-generated content site described it to me as “the One Percent Problem.” Every user-generated content site will have a small percentage of offensive material that gets through, no matter how many content moderators are hired. For example, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube allowed far more content advocating for and planning the Capitol riot than Parler. But instead of acknowledging this, they were eager to blame the upstart, which had recently taken over the top spot in the social networking category in the app store. Scapegoating Parler served the dual purpose of deflecting blame and squashing a competitor. Critics of social networks insist that these sites simply need to double down on censorship in order to finally rid us of problematic speech. But that ignores how social media moderation actually works.


Algorithms set to recognize keywords capture only a small fraction of problematic posts, leaving millions of posts for humans to review. The work is so voluminous that it’s outsourced to far-flung locales where English may not even be the first language. Low-level employees must decipher complicated guidelines while navigating our increasingly Byzantine world of political and cultural hot-buttons. Mistakes are inevitable, and the harder a company tightens the standards to get the One Percent Problem down to 0.1 or 0.01 percent, the more undeserving accounts—from Ron Paul to the Socialist Equality Party—will be swept up in the dragnet. With the Town Square now digitized, centralized, and privatized in the hands of a cartel of Big Tech companies, the protections of the First Amendment no longer apply.

Read more …

The battle against Bitcoin will be fierce.

SWIFT Sets Up Digital Currency Joint Venture With China’s Central Bank (R.)

SWIFT, the global system for financial messaging and cross-border payments, has set up a joint venture with the Chinese central bank’s digital currency research institute and clearing centre, in a sign that China is exploring global use of its planned digital yuan. Other shareholders of the Beijing-based venture include China’s Cross-border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) and the Payment & Clearing Association of China, both supervised by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), according to public information.


The new entity, called Finance Gateway Information Services Co, was established in Beijing on Jan. 16, and its business scope includes information system integration, data processing and technological consultancy, according to the website of the National Enterprise Credit Information Public System. China is a front-runner in the global race to launch central bank digital currencies, having launched domestic trials in several major cities including Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hangzhou. Its digital currency will help increase oversight of money flows, while also raising the efficiency of cross-border payments and facilitate yuan internationalization, HSBC said in a recent report. China’s cross-border payment system CIPS both partners and competes with SWIFT amid growing Sino-U.S. tensions.

Read more …

Rickards recognizes the role of money velocity in inflation, but doesn’t explain why he sees it change.

“It Can’t Happen Here” (Rickards)

The Federal Reserve printed $4 trillion in the years following the 2008 crash, expanding its pre-crisis balance sheet of about $900 billion to roughly $4.5 trillion. Many people thought, if hyperinflation were ever going to happen in the U.S., it would have already. Well, it never happened. Today, in response to the pandemic and the economic lockdowns that followed, the Fed has cranked up the printing press to even higher levels. It’s printed almost as much money in one year as it printed in the several years after the financial crisis. On February 26, 2020, the balance sheet was $4.16 trillion. Less than one year later, it’s roughly $7.3 trillion. Meanwhile, America’s M1 money supply spiked 70% last year.

But this blizzard of money-printing has not caused the level of alarm that the post-financial crisis money creation caused. If we didn’t get the hyperinflation then, they say, why should we get it now? Most people are complacent. They have a point. We still have no hyperinflation or even moderate inflation (except maybe in asset prices). But I’ve even argued that we won’t see inflation right away. Inflation is not only a product of money creation but also of money velocity. You can print as much money as you want, but if it’s not exchanging hands and there isn’t much turnover, it won’t lead to inflation. Inflation is at least as much a psychological phenomenon as a monetary phenomenon. And expectations right now are for disinflation.


Because of the lockdowns and their economic fallout, we will likely suffer a recession in the first quarter of 2021. Money velocity is low, so disinflation is the problem in the short term. But that doesn’t mean inflation isn’t coming back or even that hyperinflation isn’t possible once it does. Inflation will return, and when it does, it could be massive and potentially lead to hyperinflation. All this can happen faster than most people think.

Read more …

A useful scapegoat is past his best before date.

Andrew Cuomo Was a Villain All Along (NR)

For much of the past year, the mainstream media and Democrats have largely blamed former president Donald Trump and his administration for most of America’s COVID-19 deaths. Trump did indeed fail in certain aspects of coordination, messaging, and inserting politics into the parts of the process where it didn’t belong. He deserves credit, however, for Operation Warp Speed, the initiative that (ultimately successfully) fostered the development of coronavirus vaccines, one of the most successful public-private ventures in modern history. But Trump’s overbearing personality tended to absorb all the attention, leaving little room for real debate on the successes and failures of other politicians, except when the media found time to criticize Republican governors. But serious criticism of Democrats in this period was rare. Until now.

Last week, New York attorney general Letitia James, a Democrat, released a long-awaited report on the state of New York’s response to the coronavirus outbreak as led by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Her findings were stunning in their demonstration of both gross incompetence and outright malfeasance, and were recently reinforced by a New York Times report this week on Cuomo’s leadership failures and staffing troubles during the coronavirus period. The Times now reports that nine leading health-care experts for the state of New York resigned during the last summer and through the fall, all of whom complained that Cuomo had politicized health-care decisions and was ignoring the experts on long-standing plans for the pandemic, including regarding vaccinations.

Why the discrepancy? First, the state refused to count those patients who were transferred to, and later died at, hospitals. Why this loophole? Nobody has ever provided a good answer. Every other state in the country counts these deaths in the nursing-home numbers, because that is the practical and commonsense way to count it. New York specifically chose to be an outlier. The real failure, however, was New York’s unwillingness to be transparent with the data after the fact. For many who analyzed the data in April and May, it quickly became apparent that the state was not being fully transparent on nursing-home deaths. Many individuals were reporting that their family members died at the hospital, but only after getting severely ill at their extended-care facilities first. But somehow the numbers did not appear to bear that out.


An objective observer might be willing to give anyone in charge during such horrific events the benefit of the doubt. New York was at the time the worldwide center of COVID deaths, and it continued in this manner all through the spring. The vast majority of the more than 40,000 deaths in the state occurred during a horrific twelve-week period, when hospitals and health professionals faced war-like situations as patients died left and right.

Read more …

Please don’t send anyone to jail!

Media Runs Defense as Amazon Caught Stealing Millions From Workers (MPN)

It has been a turbulent 24 hours for retail giant Amazon. First, the company’s founder (and world’s richest individual) Jeff Bezos announced that he would step down as CEO. Then, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled that the company had illegally stolen more than $61 million worth of customer tips meant for its delivery drivers. Under their contracts, Amazon drivers were supposed to make between $18 and $25 per hour and keep all their tips. However, since at least 2016, the company had been secretly confiscating tips customers sent through an app, using their contributions to reduce their own wage payouts, meaning they were swindling both customers and employees. “In total, Amazon stole nearly one-third of drivers’ tips to pad its own bottom line,” said FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra.

Unlike corporate crime cases in other nations, Amazon will merely be required to pay back the money it took from employees. Thus, it will face no negative consequences, except a possible public relations backlash due to bad press. Yet, instead of grilling Amazon, the media appear to be working hard to run defense for it, downplaying the nature of the crime in their headlines. The word “steal” was noticeably absent from much of the reporting, despite the fact that the original Reuters report used the word in its title — a direct reflection of the FTC’s ruling. Many newspapers instead decided to go with “withhold” instead. Even worse, many more framed the news as a mere allegation, despite the fact that the FTC had made a formal ruling.

Forbes, for instance, led with the headline “Amazon Will Pay $61.7 Million Settlement After Allegedly Withholding Tips From Delivery Drivers.” Others (Daily Caller, Daily Mail) did the same. Meanwhile, in a tweet on the news, Vox claimed that (emphasis added) “Amazon will pay $61.7 million in a settlement over allegations that the company used customer tips to subsidize the hourly wages of some delivery drivers.” Thus, the fact that Amazon had been caught stealing was watered down into a claim that it was merely “subsidizing” “some” of its employees’ wages.


Perhaps the worst offender was business and tech news site ZDNet, whose headline was “Amazon will pay $61.7 million to settle Flex driver tip dispute with FTC,” which obscured the matter into a foggy and very technical sounding financial dispute. Only a very small number of outlets, including Slate and The Huffington Post, echoed the FTC’s decision by using the word “stole” in their headlines.

Read more …

The most extreme things in the US military take place in far-away lands.

Defense Sec. Orders 60-Day Stand-down To Confront Extremism In Military (MT)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has called on the services to conduct a 60-day stand-down on the issue of extremism in the military, prompted by the Jan. 6 attack on the the Capitol and subsequent reports of both active-duty and former service members attending a rally calling to overturn the 2020 election and the riot that ensued. Austin held a meeting Wednesday of the service secretaries and Joint Chiefs, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, to ask them about their concerns and ideas for improving the situation. “Even though the numbers might be small, they may not be as small as we would like them to be, or we believe them to be,“ Kirby said of the prevalence of troops with extremists views, ties or activities. “And that no matter what it is, it is not an insignificant problem.”


Guidance is forthcoming on what Austin expects to see after the 60 days. “It wasn’t a blithe, ‘Hey, just go talk to your people,’” Kirby said of Austin’s direction to the service secretaries and Joint Chiefs. “He was very clear that he wants commands to take the necessary time. And I didn’t hear him be overly proscriptive about that … to speak with troops about the scope of this problem, and certainly to get a sense from them about what they’re seeing at their level.” The Defense Department does not centrally track troops who have been investigated for domestic terrorism or extremist sentiment, and neither do the services, making it difficult to get a read on how prevalent the problem is. Kirby told reporters on Jan. 28 that the FBI opened 143 investigations into troops and veterans in 2020, 68 of those for domestic extremism.

Read more …

The MIC needs orders.

US Admiral Warns Nuclear War With Russia, China a ‘Real Possibility’ (Antiwar)

The head of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) warned that a nuclear war with Russia or China is a “real possibility” and is calling for a change in US policy that reflects this threat. “There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state,” Vice Adm. Charles Richard wrote in the February edition of the US Naval Institute’s monthly magazine. Richard said the US military must “shift its principal assumption from ‘nuclear employment is not possible’ to ‘nuclear employment is a very real possibility,’ and act to meet and deter that reality.”


The STRATCOM chief said Russia and China “have begun to aggressively challenge international norms and global peace using instruments of power and threats of force in ways not seen since the height of the Cold War.” Richard hyped up Russia and China’s nuclear modernization, calling for the US to compete with the two nations. When it comes to China’s nuclear weapons, the US and Russia have vastly larger arsenals. Current estimates put Beijing’s nuclear arsenal at about 320 warheads, while Washington and Moscow have about 6,000 warheads each.

Read more …

Was it Trump’s policies that made them stronger, or was it the way America handled Trump?

Xi, Putin Make The Case For Win-Win, Not Zero-Sum (Escobar)

The best in-depth analysis of Putin’s extraordinary speech , hands down, was provided by Rostislav Ishchenko, whom I had the pleasure to meet in Moscow in 2018. Ishchenko stresses how, “in terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined.” The speech, he adds, was totally unexpected, as much as Putin’s stunning intervention at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, “the crushing defeat” imposed on Georgia in 2008, and the return of Crimea in 2014. Ishchenko also reveals something that will never be acknowledged in the West: “80 people from among the most influential on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.”

Putin’s very important reference to the ominous 1930s – “the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to World War 2 catastrophe” – was juxtaposed with a common sense warning: the necessity of preventing the takeover of global policy by Big Tech , which “are de facto competing with states”. Xi and Putin’s speeches were de facto complementary – emphasizing sustainable, win-win economic development for all actors, especially across the Global South, coupled with the necessity of a new socio-political contract in international relations. This drive should be based on two pillars: sovereignty – that is, the good old Westphalian model (and not Great Reset, hyper-concentrated, one world “governance”) and sustainable development propelled by techno-scientific progress (and not techno-feudalism).


So what Putin-Xi proposed, in fact, was a concerted effort to expand the basic foundations of the Russia-China strategic partnership to the whole Global South: the crucial choice ahead is between win-win and the Exceptionalist zero-sum game.

Read more …

Amen.

If BlacK Lives Matter Wins Nobel, Rename It ‘Mostly Peaceful’ Prize (RT)

While 2020 may be remembered as the year Orwell turned over in his grave – and also the year deemed the perfect “match” for Satan – 2021 might well be remembered for the year Alfred Nobel did back flips in his. The Nobel Peace Prize has often generated controversy over many of its dubious nominees and recipients. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shared the prize with his counterpart, Le Duc Tho, “for jointly having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam in 1973.” Kissinger won despite his role in the bombings in Cambodia and in the killings in ‘Operation Candor’. President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, inspiring him to bomb seven countries as he managed to out-Bush G.W. Bush. The former Nobel secretary told the AP news agency in 2015 that in awarding the prize to Obama, “the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.” You don’t say?

Yet, one of the biggest jaw-droppers may be a current contender, the corporate-funded Marxist front group, Black Lives Matter. The nomination must make BLM’s sponsors proud. And how much do corporate socialists like Black Lives Matter? As of June 2020, corporate America had pledged BLM over $1.678 billion, led by Bank of America and cheap-labor lover Nike. BLM was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian lawmaker. NBC News reported: “In his nomination letter, Petter Eide, a Socialist Left member of the Storting, Norway’s parliament, wrote that he had nominated Black Lives Matter ‘for their struggle against racism and racially motivated violence.’”

By now, much has been said about BLM’s violent roots. I discovered attempts by BLM (and its enablers) to disguise its history and ideology. But BLM’s scrubbing of its shady past has been to no avail, since its goals and tactics were on full display in the BLM-inspired riots. Protests and riots, including looting and arson, rampaged through the US from May to December 2020. The violence that resulted in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was the first “multi-state catastrophe event” ever declared for civil disorder by claim-tracking company Property Claim Services, Triple-I has said. BLM demonstrations have included calling for the murder of police officers: “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now!” On August 29, 2015, during a Black Lives Matter march outside the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, a chant rang out: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” Inspired by BLM, at least two police officers were murdered, one at point-blank range.


On September 16, 2020, Axios headlined: “$1 billion-plus riot damage is most expensive in insurance history.” But noted in the report was the obligatory leftist cover for those who looted and set many cities ablaze. “The protests that took place in 140 U.S. cities this spring were mostly peaceful, but the arson, vandalism and looting that did occur will result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion of paid insurance claims.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Not quite dead yet meme:

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 142021
 
 January 14, 2021  Posted by at 10:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Jackson Pollock Male and female 1942

 

House Votes To Impeach Trump For ‘Insurrection’ (RT)
Twitter CEO Defends Banning Trump But Says It Was A “Dangerous” “Failure” (JTN)
Putin Orders Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 With Sputnik V Jab (RT)
Moderna CEO Says The World Will Have To Live With Covid ‘Forever’ (CNBC)
WHO Team Arrives In Wuhan To Investigate Pandemic Origins (AP)
Two NYC Residents Reported To Have UK COVID-19 Variant (AMNY)
EU Leaders Demand “Standardised” Vaccine Passport For Travel (SN)
Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)
Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)
Biden Taps Veteran Interventionist Samantha Power to Head USAID (Antiwar)
As Biden Vows To ‘Defeat The NRA,’ Gun Sales Continue To Soar (JTN)
Former Michigan Gov. Snyder Charged For Flint Water Crisis (JTN)
Unemployment Rate Above 20% For Lowest-Paid Workers – Fed’s Brainard (CNBC)
Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)
New Zealand City Closes Busy Road For Weeks To Protect Sea Lions (G.)

 

 

 

 

What would need to be proven in a courtroom, does not in Congress.

House Votes To Impeach Trump For ‘Insurrection’ (RT)

Arguing he incited an “armed rebellion” against the US, the Democrat-dominated House has voted to impeach President Donald Trump again. But with his term expiring in a week, it is unclear when the trial will proceed. After several hours of debate on Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to formally impeach the president over the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol, when a group of Trump supporters broke into the building and interrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 US presidential election. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Senate will reconvene on an emergency schedule to conduct the trial, however.

Reports in mainstream US media were conflicted, with some outlets citing anonymous sources to claim that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was eager to do so and help the Democrats get rid of Trump. However, McConnell’s spokesman said on Wednesday he would “not consent” to doing so before January 19, putting the trial into Biden’s term as president. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) told CNN on Sunday that the Democrats might even give Biden a hundred days “to get his agenda off and running” before they send the articles to the Senate. The delays and calculations are at odds with rhetoric coming from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and her impeachment managers, who called Trump a danger to the country and urged his immediate removal.

Democrats have even argued that Trump and anyone supporting him ought to be barred from holding any office under the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War to punish leaders of the Confederacy. “We know that we face the enemies of the Constitution,” Pelosi said on the House floor on Wednesday. “We know we experienced the insurrection that violated the sanctity of the people’s capital – an attempt to overturn the duly recorded will of the American people. And we know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go.”

Read more …

“..those moves “over the long term … will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.”

Twitter CEO Defends Banning Trump But Says It Was A “Dangerous” “Failure” (JTN)

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday evening composed a 13-tweet-long thread on the social media platform he leads in which he defended the company’s recent permanent ban of President Donald Trump while still claiming that the ban constituted a “dangerous” “failure.” Dorsey, who helped found the microblogging platform in early 2006, said in the thread that, though banning Trump out of fears that he was promoting violence was “the right decision for Twitter,” an account ban nevertheless “has real and significant ramifications.” “While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey said. “And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us.”


In addition to fragmenting the public conversation, Dorsey said, such a ban “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.” Referring to the recent purge of the social media app Parler from multiple digital platforms, Dorsey argued that those moves “over the long term … will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.” “Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together,” Dorsey said in the thread.

Read more …

“move from large-scale vaccination to mass vaccination.”

Putin Orders Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 With Sputnik V Jab (RT)

President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Russian government to begin rolling out a coronavirus vaccine for the entire population from next week, with more than 1.5 million people having already received the jab.
In a meeting with ministers on Wednesday, Putin said that the time had come to “move from large-scale vaccination to mass vaccination.” He added that the Sputnik V formula, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was “the best in the world.” While comparisons between different vaccines are hard to draw, given the unique circumstances under which they have been developed, he insisted that “no others demonstrate this level of protection and such a degree of safety.”

However, the president expressed concern over the global fight against Covid-19, saying that “we see across the world, unfortunately, that it is not yet possible to strangle this disease, and we cannot prevent all the negative consequences associated with it.” Responding to the new directive, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova reported that the mass immunization program will begin next week, from 18 January. While 1.5 million people in the country have already received their first jab, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed Sputnik V, the list of those eligible was still subject to a number of restrictions.

Doctors, teachers, factory workers, municipal officials and those working in finance and the media were initially offered appointments first. However, there was speculation that, in practice, few checks were put in place before people were given their injection. It is still unclear how the mass-immunization program will be administered, and whether all Russians will be offered shots at once, or staggered based on their age group. Putin added that Sputnik V was particularly well-suited to being made available across the entirety of the world’s largest country because “thank God, our vaccine does not require any unusual conditions for transportation,” and can be stored at ordinary refrigerator temperatures.

Read more …

A good thing if you’re a vaccine maker?!

Moderna CEO Says The World Will Have To Live With Covid ‘Forever’ (CNBC)

The CEO of Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna warned Wednesday that the coronavirus that has brought world economies to a standstill and overwhelmed hospitals will be around “forever.” Public health officials and infectious disease experts have said there is a high likelihood that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will become present in communities at all times, though likely at lower levels than it is now. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel appeared to agree Wednesday that Covid-19 will become endemic, saying “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away.” “We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever,” he said during a panel discussion at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference.


Health officials will have to continuously watch for new variants of the virus, so scientists can produce vaccines to fight them, he said. Researchers in Ohio said Wednesday they’ve discovered two new variants likely originating in the U.S. and that one of them quickly became the dominant strain in Columbus, Ohio, over a three-week period in late December and early January. Pfizer researchers said its vaccine developed with BioNTech appeared to be effective against a key mutation in the U.K. strain as well as a variant found in South Africa. Moderna’s vaccine has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in Americans who are 18 years old and older. Additional studies still needed to be completed in children, whose immune systems can respond differently to vaccines than those of adults.

Read more …

Two have already been refused entry because of positive PCR tests.

WHO Team Arrives In Wuhan To Investigate Pandemic Origins (AP)

A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of the WHO. Scientists suspect the virus that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest. The ruling Communist Party, stung by complaints it allowed the disease to spread, says the virus came from abroad, possibly on imported seafood, but scientists reject that.


CGTN, the English-language channel of state broadcaster CCTV, reported the WHO team’s arrival. The members include virus and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam. A government spokesman said this week they will “exchange views” with Chinese scientists but gave no indication whether they would be allowed to gather evidence. They will undergo a two-week quarantine as well as a throat swab test and an antibody test for COVID-19, according to a post on CGTN’s official Weibo account. They are to start working with Chinese experts via video conference while in quarantine. China rejected demands for an international investigation after the Trump administration blamed Beijing for the virus’s spread, which plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s.

Read more …

In Holland, with 5,000 new cases on Tuesday, a warning yesterday that in February B.1.1.7 could cause 150,000 new cases per day.

Two NYC Residents Reported To Have UK COVID-19 Variant (AMNY)

Two New York City residents, one from Manhattan and the other from Queens, have contracted the mutated COVID-19 strain that was first identified in the United Kingdom—leading to a second nationwide lockdown of the country—Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. Both people were originally diagnosed in late-December using genetic sequencing — a method used to identify the new strain — which returned results “within the last few hours,” according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. Over 30 countries have reported cases of a new COVID variant, known as B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK last fall. In response, several countries have shut their doors to travelers from the United Kingdom in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.


Earlier this week, Washington announced that all international travelers will be required show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight starting Jan. 26 in response to the variant’s spread. But on Wednesday, de Blasio said that the measure fell short of what is needed to control the virus and again called for the federal government to issue a travel ban from Britain. “That’s not good enough,” de Blasio told reporters. “Here is proof positive that someone who was in the UK has brought the variant back here. We need that stopped. All flights from the United Kingdom should be canceled immediately by the federal government.” State officials reported the first case of the new variant on Jan. 4. Since then, officials have reported a total of 12 people in New York state have contracted the B.1.1.7.

Read more …

“..so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.”

EU Leaders Demand “Standardised” Vaccine Passport For Travel (SN)

EU leaders are demanding that the Commission should ‘standardise’ a vaccine passport across all member countries, and that it should be required for people to travel throughout the area. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has penned a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, outlining that “Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.” The letter calls for a “standardised certificate, which will prove that a person has been successfully vaccinated.” While it stops short at advocating mandatory vaccination, the letter further urges that “It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states.”

Mitsotakis has pledged to raise the issue during an upcoming EU summit on January 21, declaring that “there is an urgent need for a high-level EU-wide mobilization to move things forward.” Vaccine passports have previously been touted by the EU, with officials suggesting back in April that visa applicants would also be required to be vaccinated. EU countries including Spain, Estonia, Iceland, and Belgium have all indicated that they are open to some form of vaccine passports, as well as sharing the data across borders. This week, it was also revealed that Denmark is the latest country to announce that it is rolling out a ‘Covid passport’, to allow those who have taken the vaccine to engage in society without any restrictions.

However, the EU’s data protection chief Wojciech Wiewiorowski recently labeled the idea of an immunity passport “extreme” and has repeatedly said it is alarming, and ‘disgusting’. The spectre of so called ‘immunity passports’ is looming globally. Having left the EU, Britain would not be part of any standardised European scheme, however it has now confirmed that it is rolling out vaccine passports, despite previous denials that it would do so. Recently, the government in Ontario, Canada admitted that it is exploring ‘immunity passports’ in conjunction with restrictions on travel and access to social venues for the unvaccinated. Last month, Israel announced that citizens who get the COVID-19 vaccine will be given ‘green passports’ that will enable them to attend venues and eat at restaurants.

A litany of other government and travel industry figures in both the US, Britain and beyond have suggested that ‘COVID passports’ are coming in order for ‘life to get back to normal’. Anna Beduschi, an academic from Exeter University, commented on the potential move toward vaccine passports by EU, noting that it “poses essential questions for the protection of data privacy and human rights.” Beduschi added that the vaccine passports may “create a new distinction between individuals based on their health status, which can then be used to determine the degree of freedoms and rights they may enjoy.” A report compiled last year by AI research body the Ada Lovelace Institute said so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.” Sam Grant, campaign manager at the civili liberties advocacy group Liberty has warned that “any form of immunity passport risks creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.”

Read more …

“..the city let the landlords keep all of the gains in land value. And they just raised the income taxes and went into debt to pay for the subway.”

Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)

[..] ever since the Bronze Age you had the temples and the palaces providing basic needs. Because if you leave this to the private sector, then you’re going to have a situation where the private supplier has a chokehold on the economy and can say: your money or your life. There are certain things that governments are supposed to supply and which industrial capitalism wanted government to supply. Because they didn’t want employers or their employees to have to pay for them. These are a number of things. Governments obviously have to supply military defense. You can’t leave that private people but also healthcare, for instance. The conservative party in England, Benjamin Disraeli said: health is everything; we have to spend on health.

And you don’t want to, in principle, make money off crime. But in America we’re privatizing the penal system, the jail system. So you have increasing pressure on government, on governors, to arrest people, put them in jail especially on drug use, where you can employ them at 10 cents an hour. And lease them out to companies as low priced labor. But most of all, government is supposed to provide the infrastructure: the transportation, the communication, the telephone system. And the idea is that if you leave like cable TV to private suppliers, they are natural monopolies. The idea throughout history from classical Greece and Rome, medieval times in Europe is that natural monopolies should be in the public domain.

Because you don’t want to provide opportunities for monopoly rent. Because monopoly rent, like land rent and natural resource rent, is not a necessary cost to production. You want the necessary cost of production to be the material costs and normal profit. Because obviously you need people to have some incentive to do things. But the incentive is supposed to be normal profit, not super profits, not just a free lunch. And so if you let transportation become privatized, then it is going to cost the workforce much more money to get to work and to get to a job. If you let the oil industry be privatized and the profits from the natural resource, and that’s the patrimony of mineral rights, oil and gas is all going to go to the private financial sector not to be used as the tax base.

And if you have the land rent, essentially if the government, for instance, in New York City, they spent let’s say a billion dollars on extending the second Avenue subway line up along the wealthy Upper East Side. That increased land values for landlords all by about twice the amount by about $2 billion. Because people now were closer to the subway station, they didn’t have to walk. They had better transport. All of this increase in land prices could have financed the extension of the subway and still been able to lower the subway fares for the rest of new Yorkers. Instead, the city let the landlords keep all of the gains in land value. And they just raised the income taxes and went into debt to pay for the subway.

So, you have a privatization of wealth that is not created by landlords, not created by individuals. Certainly the oil companies don’t create the oil in the ground. And the mining companies don’t create the mineral resources. All of these things are given away freely. The United States lets forestry logging companies and mining companies get whatever they can take from the public domain for free instead of getting the results of this publicly owned land to finance the public budget. Taxes in the United States could be drastically reduced on wages and on profits, if you would just tax the unearned monopoly rent, the economic rent that is not necessary for production.

Read more …

How to spook markets.

Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)

Last week, Goldman sparked a buying frenzy in the market (and selling in treasuries) when the bank said it expects the Biden admin would unveil a “modest” $750 billion fiscal stimulus plan, including some $300 billion in “stimmy” checks to Americans. However, as bank after bank tried to upstage Goldman and threw around stimulus estimates as high as $1 trillion or even more, the market barely noticed when late this afternoon, incoming Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer reportedly “pressed” (in Bloomberg’s words) Joe Biden to propose more than $1.3 trillion in spending for his initial round of Covid-19 relief.

According to Bloomberg, “the two have discussed Biden’s plans ahead of the president-elect’s announcement on his economic-rebuilding proposals… Biden is set to speak at 7:15 p.m. Thursday to outline “his vaccination and economic rescue legislative package,” his transition team said in a statement.” But if markets ignored the Schumer report, they sure as hell noticed the CNN report which hit just after 9pmET, which prompted traders to take a double take because apparently Schumer “pressed” Biden so hard to expand the next stimulus round, he literally squashed the president-elect, who is now “expected to unveil a major Covid-19 relief package on Thursday and his advisers have recently told allies in Congress to expect a price tag in the ballpark of $2 trillion,” CNN reported citing two people briefed on the deliberations.

The Biden team is taking a “shoot for the moon” approach with the package, one lawmaker in close contact with them told CNN, though they added that the price tag could still change. The proposal, which is just shy of the Democrats’ demand late last year when they sought a $2.2 trillion stimulus, only to agree on a $900 billion enacted last December, “will include sizable direct payments to American families, significant state and local funding – including for coronavirus vaccine distribution and other emergency spending measures – to help those struggling during the pandemic.”

Read more …

Why does the US have so many neocon women in high places?

Biden Taps Veteran Interventionist Samantha Power to Head USAID (Antiwar)

On Wednesday, Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Samantha Power to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Power served as ambassador to the UN for President Obama from 2013 to 2017. Before that, she worked on Obama’s National Security Council, where she played an instrumental role in pushing for US intervention in Libya in 2011. Power argued in favor of US intervention in Libya under the guise of protecting human rights and preventing genocide. She was joined in her crusade by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice, who served as the UN ambassador at the time. Reports from 2011 say the pressure from Power, Rice, and Clinton is what led Obama to intervene militarily in Libya, even though his other top advisors were against it.

Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates would later say that in a “51 to 49” decision, Obama decided to bomb Libya. The US-NATO intervention in Libya that led to the brutal murder of former Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi was an absolute disaster. Destabilizing Libya turned the country into a haven for al-Qaeda-linked militants, resulted in targeted killings of black Africans, sparked a refugee crisis in North Africa, and even led to the creation of slave markets. For her efforts in convincing Obama to destroy Libya, Power was promoted. As the US ambassador to the UN, Power advocated for US intervention in Syria and stood by as the Obama administration backed the Saudis in their brutal war against Yemen’s Houthis.

While Powers has since taken a public stance against the war in Yemen, she omitted her early role in supporting the vicious war from her memoir that was published in 2019. In the book, Power defended her decision to intervene in Libya and argued that more intervention in Syria could have prevented some of the war’s atrocities. While it’s not exactly a national security position, Power will have a lot of influence on foreign policy from her future role as the head of USAID. The agency is often used to fund US regime change efforts. For example, in September 2019, USAID announced it would be providing $52 million to Juan Guaido, who the US recognizes as president of Venezuela, despite the fact that Nicolas Maduro holds the office. Earlier in 2019, the US supported Guaido in a failed coup attempt.

Read more …

Peaceful protests coming.

As Biden Vows To ‘Defeat The NRA,’ Gun Sales Continue To Soar (JTN)

The FBI’s firearm statistics show that 2020 was a record-breaking year in the firearm industry with a 39.9% increase in FBI firearm background checks. With a worldwide pandemic, a summer of violence in cities across the country, the U.S. presidential election and now the transitioning of administrations, 2020 was no ordinary year. With a total of 39,695,315 completed background checks – up from 28,369,750 in 2019 – the year marked the most firearm checks in history, based on FBI data as far back as 1998. Since 1998, nine out of the top ten highest firearm-check weeks occurred in 2020, with the highest check weeks being in the middle of March and the beginning of June.


December, in the midst of election irregularity claims by Trump, saw the highest month of background checks. At over 7.4 million, Illinois saw the most background checks in the country. The fear of the unknown and what’s to come continue to drive sales through the roof. Since the breaching of the Capitol on Jan. 6, gun stores have seen an increase in sales from a fairly even mix of Republicans and Democrats, according to research from TMZ. Gun shops reported increased sales up 400% this past week compared to the week before, with many stores being sold out of guns and ammunition. As Inauguration Day draws closer, sales could continue to stay high with Biden recently saying he will “defeat the NRA.”

Read more …

Abominable.

Former Michigan Gov. Snyder Charged For Flint Water Crisis (JTN)

Former Republican governor of Michigan Rick Snyder has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in connection with an investigation pertaining to the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which received much national attention at the time. The Associated Press reported that, according to the state archivist, there has never before been a sitting or former governor charged with wrongdoing connected to their tenure as Michigan governor. “Flint was in chronic financial trouble in 2014 when a Snyder-appointed manager who was running the majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction,” the outlet noted.


“The corrosive water, however, wasn’t treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history,” the wire service reported. As reports have shown, such as from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, there was plenty of blame to go around. CNN reported that the IG report “strongly criticizes the local, state and federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis in 2015 and 2016.”

Read more …

So what has the Fed done to help?

Unemployment Rate Above 20% For Lowest-Paid Workers – Fed’s Brainard (CNBC)

Unemployment for the lowest-paid workers in the U.S. is above 20%, a figure that Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said underscores the importance of policy help for the economy. The figure indicates how uneven the recovery has seen since efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the biggest quarterly GDP drop since the Great Depression. “The damage from COVID-19 is concentrated among already challenged groups,” Brainard said in a speech Wednesday. “The K-shaped recovery remains highly uneven, with certain sectors and groups experiencing substantial hardship.”


At a time when the national unemployment rate has come down from the pandemic peak of 14.7% to the current 6.7%, Fed economists estimate the jobless rate for the lowest quartile of earners is “likely above 20%,” Brainard said. That comes as the Black unemployment rate is 9.9% and the Hispanic rate is at 9.3% while the rate for Whites is 6%. Fed officials have made “inclusive” employment gains a priority and have adjusted policy to try to make that happen. A new approach will allow inflation to run higher than the central bank’s 2% goal and the unemployment rate to fall beneath what had traditionally been an indicator of higher inflation before the Fed will raise interest rates.

Read more …

“We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.”

Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)

There’s no reason to rehash what happened over the last several days, but the gist of it is that significant components of internet infrastructure were weaponized for ideological and political purposes. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all knew this day was coming. We just didn’t want to admit it or confront it, because it’s not a comforting or easy thing to admit or confront. But the day has arrived and we’re no longer in a position to ignore it. The most concerning aspect isn’t that it happened, but that it could happen at all. The internet is clearly broken, possibly dying, and if we want to digitally associate freely again at some point in the future, we have no choice but to fix it.

Although I have no team in the parochial political fight, I’ve chosen one in the broader ideological battle. The wielding of such concentrated and unaccountable power over human communication has crossed a very serious line and sets us up for a future world I’m uninterested in participating in. As such, we have no choice but to confront the issue head on. People who think this is about Trump for me are the most ridiculous people. I never voted for him, supported him or took him seriously. While I recognize the role he played in the greater scheme of this massive historical cycle, the best thing that can happen is for him to disappear as a political force and be understood as the spectacle and distraction he was. I’m not here to lecture anyone about who they voted for, but I’m here to connect with people of all political persuasions ready to become serious and admit that a real strategy is needed to address the unaccountable power of the national security state oligarchy. Conventional political avenues are a dead end at this point.

I recognize that tens of millions of frustrated, angry and concerned minds are trying to make sense of it all and reorient themselves. This presents a giant opportunity, but also very real danger. All the emotion being felt currently can be channeled into negative avenues such as violence, aimless spectacles, Trump martyrdom or a futile search for the next political savior guaranteed to disappoint, or it can be channeled in productive ways. That’s why I’m here writing this post at this moment. Enough people are finally motivated to respond, but what really matters is the nature of this response. The dominant aggregate reaction is what will determine the future.

Most of us eagerly, or more likely lazily, embraced the current insipid and dull paradigm in the name of convenience, low prices, and free shipping, but we never stopped to consider the sacrifices made along the way. We swallowed it whole, became comfortable fat and happy, and now the facade’s about to be slowly stripped away unless we bend the knee to an ever narrowing Overton Window of speech and behavior parameters. It begins with social media purges, but it won’t end there. All the special things we sacrificed from the prior era are gone, yet the consequences are here to stay. We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.

Read more …

This should be the most normal thing in the world. Instead, it’s news.

New Zealand City Closes Busy Road For Weeks To Protect Sea Lions (G.)

The second largest city on New Zealand’s South Island has closed a popular road for an entire month in order for a sea lion to nest safely with its pup. Dunedin City council said in a Facebook post it would close John Wilson Drive above the city’s St Claire beach for a month to allow “some special residents to use the road safely”. “A New Zealand sea lion and her pup have taken up residence at the golf course next door and are regularly crossing the road to get to the beach,” the council said. “You can still visit the area by foot or bicycle, but please give the sea lions lots of space (at least 20m) … New Zealand sea lions are endangered and one of the rarest sea lion species in the world.”


The harbour city, home to 120,000 people, regularly shuts roads during the summer months to allow wildlife to cross safely, but typically only for a day or two at most. The month-long closure has been applauded by locals, many of whom urged the council the make it permanent to protect vulnerable wildlife. Sea lions are threatened in New Zealand and are often attacked by dogs or chase humans if they get too close. The animals, which can weigh up to 200kg, have been giving birth in and around Dunedin since 1993, and since protection efforts have ramped up – both official and otherwise – the sea lion breeding season has become a fixture of the summer months, with at least 20 pups expected in the city this year.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

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

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Oct 292020
 
 October 29, 2020  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


Gustav Klimt Pine forest II 1901

 

Senate Committee: All Bobulinski Materials Reviewed To Date Legitimate (DC)
Tucker Carlson: Bobulinski Documents Intercepted and Removed (sundance)
Zuckerberg: ‘I Would Guess That Our Employee Base Skews Left-Leaning’ (JTN)
Gundlach: Trump Will Win Next Week, “Some Sort Of Revolution” By 2027 (ZH)
Professor Deliberately Catches COVID19 To Test His Immune Response (ST)
Cable News October Ratings Explode As Fox News Hits Historic Highs (Hill)
CNN Won’t Run Trump Ad Warning Biden Will Raise Taxes On Middle Class (Hill)
‘Anonymous’ Anti-Trump Official Revealed As CNN Pundit Miles Taylor (Fox)
ALICE Doesn’t Work Here Anymore (CHS)
The Fed MUST Have Inflation (Rickards)
Ornstein: Impeach Amy Coney Barrett (Turley)
Bellingcat Smears OPCW Whistleblower, Journalists With False Letter (Maté)
Greece Has Protected Its Jobs Better Than The Rest Of The EU (K.)
Jack Dorsey Hires Homeless Man To Fill In For Him At Senate Hearings (BBee)

 

 

“If you can’t expose crime in the government you don’t really have a government. You have a dictatorship that is dressed up like a government.”

– Joe Rogan

 

 

Joe Rogan Greenwald

 

 

“I appreciate that the FBI has a job to do, and I am glad they are finally taking an interest in these concerning financial matters that our Committees have been investigating for months..”

Senate Committee: All Bobulinski Materials Reviewed To Date Legitimate (DC)

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been successful in verifying all materials reviewed so far from Hunter Biden’s ex-business partner Tony Bobulinski, the Daily Caller has learned. Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson will not call Bobulinski to testify before the November 3 elections, as the committee is working to review all the information provided to the committee by Bobulinski. The information has to be verified, as it is subject to the same false information to Congress laws that verbal or written testimony does. However, a Johnson spokesperson told the Caller that all the material provided by Bobulinski that has been reviewed so far has turned out to be legitimate. The committee has “also” not come across any “signs” or evidence to suggest the content is false, the spokesperson added.


Bobulinski, who said Tuesday he believes “Joe Biden and the Biden family are compromised” in an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, has turned over evidence to the FBI alleging he met twice in the past with the former vice president in regards to business with his son Hunter. The Biden family has not yet disputed this information. [..] Johnson had the chance to interview Bobulinski on Friday and released a statement shortly after saying: “I appreciate that the FBI has a job to do, and I am glad they are finally taking an interest in these concerning financial matters that our Committees have been investigating for months,” Sen. Johnson said. “I expect that Mr. Bobulinski will speak with our committee as soon as possible and fully share his insights into the Biden family’s business dealings.”

Read more …

Strange story. He has copies.

Tucker Carlson: Bobulinski Documents Intercepted and Removed (sundance)

Tucker Carlson revealed this evening that someone intercepted an envelope containing documents of evidence supporting the claims by Tony Bobulinski. The documents were mailed by a “well known overnight transport” company and mysteriously were removed in transit from New York to LA. I have a hunch what happened…. but first, WATCH:

Tucker missing documents

I review this story from a position that I cannot fully explain. However, I have personal experience -recent experience- with a similar and rather unusual situation that cannot be explained by any method other than DHS surveillance. So here’s what I think took place. The package, likely a Fed-X delivery, was intercepted by FBI agents using mechanisms for tracking and surveillance that open targeting through portals connected to DHS. As an outcome of the U.S. Patriot Act, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has an agreement in place with mail shipping companies, public/private services, that essentially allows them a portal to track all in-state and interstate mail deliveries.

The FBI has access to this data network in the same way the FBI has access to federal transportation records. Just like when you book a flight and DHS portals are open that allow FBI to track your movements domestically. This type of portal is also accessed in private company transportation like Uber, Lyft etc. DHS, and as a consequence the FBI, can easily track your whereabouts. Without much hesitation I will bet the FBI was monitoring the communication of Bobulinski, and by extension the entire Tucker Carlson production network. Once the shipment was known to be taking place, the DHS portals are opened; the package is tracked; and the FBI moves in to intercept the delivery.

The transport company doesn’t need to be participating because they are essentially unneeded. Their system network is connected to the FBI. That’s the likely scenario. Wanna bet?

Read more …

Every time these people come in for questioning, nothing happens.

Zuckerberg: ‘I Would Guess That Our Employee Base Skews Left-Leaning’ (JTN)

Under questioning from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday that the employees at his company “skew left-leaning.” “Would you say that the political ideology of the employees at your company is, let’s say, 50:50, conservative versus liberal progressive or do you think it’s closer to 90% liberal and 10% conservative?” Johnson asked during a hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “I don’t know the makeup of our employees because it’s not something we ask or focus on,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded. “It’s not something I look for.”

In response to the same question, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said more than 50% of Google’s 100,000 employees are from outside of California. “It does tend to be proportionate to the areas that we are in,” he said. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “I don’t know the exact number but I would guess that our employee base skews left-leaning.” According to OpenSecrets.org, the employees of Facebook, Google and Twitter favored Democrats over Republicans with political contributions in this election cycle. Johnson also asked Dorsey and Zuckerberg if they had “any evidence” that the New York Post’s recent reporting on content from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden was based on Russian disinformation.

“We don’t,” Dorsey said. Later in the hearing, GOP Sen. Roger Wicker, the committee chairman, asked Zuckerberg if he has evidence that Russia was the source of the information in the New York Post’s reporting. “I would rely on the FBI to make that assessment,” Zuckerberg said but added that he personally does not have that evidence. “I do not, myself.”

@tedcruz and @jack

Read more …

“Some people will hedge their bets and split their vote towards retaining the Republican Senate because they view Biden as risky..”

Gundlach: Trump Will Win Next Week, “Some Sort Of Revolution” By 2027 (ZH)

Back at the start of 2016, when nobody else would even consider such an outcome, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeff Gundlach shocked the economic, financial and political establishments when during the January Barron’s roundtable of that year, he predicted that Donald Trump would become the next US president. He was right. Fast forward to today when one week before the elections, and in an environment when most polls predict that Biden will crush Trump and where Nate Silver gives Trump just as 13% chance of defeating Trump, Jeffrey Gundlach is predicting another victory for President Donald Trump.


As Financial Advisor magazine reported, during a Tuesday webcast as part of Schwab’s 2020 IMPACT conference, Gundlach said that despite polls, analysis and betting odds that suggest otherwise, Trump is likely to outpace former Democratic vice president Joe Biden in the contest. “The polls right now say he isn’t going to win, but they said that four years ago,” said Gundlach referring to the following chart. “Mind you, my conviction is way lower than it was four years ago. But back in [that period], when Trump was little more than an asterisk in the betting odds, I predicted he was going to win. This one is much more murky, but in my eyes, it favors a Trump win.”

Addressing the elephant in the room, Gundlach said that public political polls are often “designed to create impressions” rather than illustrate reality, said Gundlach, and shouldn’t be trusted. He also argued that many Trump voters are unwilling to engage with pollsters and the media because they fear retribution for their political beliefs, also known as the “shy voter” phenomenon according to which “Over 10% Of Trump Voters Won’t Admit Preferences To Pollsters.” Biden also faces an enthusiasm problem, said Gundlach. Gundlach then went on to crush hopes of a Blue Wave, arguing that Republicans will likely keep the Senate regardless of who wins – mainly because of uncertainty around Biden.


“Some people will hedge their bets and split their vote towards retaining the Republican Senate because they view Biden as risky,” said Gundlach, who noted that Trump is often portrayed as riskier than Biden. And yet, in the four years of his presidency, there have been no international conflicts, despite some outrageous and bellicose language. “You might dislike Trump or some of his policies, but risk is not what you’re getting with him, particularly compared to turning the presidency over to another party, and particularly when that party’s candidate isn’t saying what some of his policy positions are.”

Read more …

“His conclusion is that there will be no collective immunity to coronavirus despite earlier hopes. The virus is here to stay for a long while, and while vaccines may give immunity this is likely to be temporary.”

Professor Deliberately Catches COVID19 To Test His Immune Response (ST)

Alexander Chepurnov had already recovered once when he re-infected himself in an experiment. The virologist experimented with his own health to check how long the body’s immune response lasted after his first bout of COVID-19. A former researcher at the Vector Centre of Virology and Biotechnology who currently works at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Chepurnov was first infected at the end of February 2020. ‘I was on my way to a skiing holiday from Siberia to France with a stopover in Moscow,’ he said. ‘After getting to the mountains I felt unwell with a high fever and sharp chest pain. My sense of smell has gone, too.’ It was impossible back then to do a COVID-19 test in Europe, he told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in Novosibirsk.

He cut the holiday short, returned home to Novosibirsk, and was promptly diagnosed with double pneumonia. A month later in March he did a test which showed antibodies to Covid, confirming that he had been infected with the new virus. ‘I was the first in my team who had COVID-19,’ he said. ‘We started to follow the way antibodies ‘behaved’, how strong they were, and how long they stayed in the body. ‘The observation showed that they were fast to decrease. By the end of the third month from the moment I felt sick the antibodies were no longer detected.’ The scientist, 68 when he was first hit by COVID-19, said that he wanted to study the probability of getting re-infected.

To test the strength of his own immune response, Chepurnov deliberately exposed himself to COVID-19-positive patients wearing no protection. ‘My body’s defence fell exactly six months after I got the first infection. The first sign was a sore throat. The nasopharyngeal PCR smear immediately showed a positive reaction to COVID-19 on the 27th cycle, and two days later already on the 17th cycle, which corresponds to a high viral titre’, Chepurnov said of the second bout. The second illness was more acute, with Chepurnov needing hospitalisation after his saturation fell below 93. ‘For five days, my body temperature remained above 39C,’ he said. ‘I lost the sense of smell, my taste perception changed.

‘On the sixth day of the illness, the CT scan of the lungs was clear, and three days after the scan the X-ray showed double pneumonia. ‘The virus went away rather quickly – after two weeks it was no longer detected in the nasopharyngeal or in other samples.’ His conclusion is that there will be no collective immunity to coronavirus despite earlier hopes. The virus is here to stay for a long while, and while vaccines may give immunity this is likely to be temporary. ‘We need a vaccine that can be used multiple times, a recombinant vaccine will not suit,’ he said. ‘Once injected with the adenoviral vector-based vaccine we won’t be able to repeat it because the immunity against the adenoviral carrier will keep interfering.’

Read more …

I’d be more interested in seeing these numbers for social media.

Cable News October Ratings Explode As Fox News Hits Historic Highs (Hill)

Cable news ratings exploded in October across Fox News, CNN and MSNBC as all three networks saw record numbers for the month, with Fox News having the highest-rated month in cable news history, according to Nielsen Media Research. The month included a positive coronavirus test for the president, who was briefly hospitalized, and a fever pitch on the presidential campaign trail. The month also included a presidential debate, a vice presidential debate and multiple town hall events. Fox News led the way with a whopping 4.9 million total viewers in prime time, the highest number in the history of cable news dating back 40 years. MSNBC was second with 2.7 million viewers, followed by CNN with 2.4 million.


The top five shows for the month included Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with an average of 5.3 million viewers, followed by “Hannity” with 5.2 million and “The Five” with 4.1 million despite airing before prime time in the 5 p.m. EDT slot. “The Ingraham Angle” delivered an average of just over 4 million total viewers, finishing fourth overall, with MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” rounding out the top five with 3.7 million. All three of the major cable news networks also saw substantial growth when compared to the same month last year. Fox News was up 83 percent year-over-year in total viewers and 139 percent in the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet most in prime time. CNN saw a 98 percent increase in total viewers when compared to October 2019, and a 116 percent jump in the demographic, while MSNBC is up 38 percent in total viewers and 45 percent in the younger category.

Read more …

“..the ad has been approved to run on ABC, AMC, Cooking, CBS, Comcast, DIY, Discovery, ESPN, Food Network, Fox, HGTV, History, Lifetime and The Weather Channel.”

CNN Won’t Run Trump Ad Warning Biden Will Raise Taxes On Middle Class (Hill)

CNN has informed the largest outside group supporting President Trump’s reelection that it will not run one of its new ads, saying the ad is false because it warns Democratic nominee Joe Biden will raise taxes on the middle class and implies that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports socialist policies. The ad, from America First Action (AFA), says Biden “sided with socialists,” while showing pictures of Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The narrator of the ad also warns that Biden will “raise taxes on the middle class” and that “his liberal agenda will cost millions of jobs.” America First Action says the ad has been approved to run on ABC, AMC, Cooking, CBS, Comcast, DIY, Discovery, ESPN, Food Network, Fox, HGTV, History, Lifetime and The Weather Channel.

But in an email, an account executive at Warner Media said the clearance team rejected it. “WarnerMedia Commercial Clearance has not accepted America First Action’s advertisement ‘We Are America’ for its networks as the ad does not meet its commercial clearance standards,” the email states. “Specifically, the ad asserts that Biden will raise taxes on the middle class. That claim is not adequately substantiated and has been judged false by independent fact-checkers. The advertisement also mischaracterizes Nancy Pelosi as a socialist.” [..] In a letter to lawyers at Warner Media, an attorney representing AFA accused the media company of censoring normal political speech that is “at the very least a matter worthy of debate.”

“While AFA’s opponents are, of course, permitted to purchase air time to try to rebut AFA’s claims, it is not the job of your network to censor a statement that is factually supported and relates to an important issue in the upcoming election,” wrote Stephen Kenny of Jones Day. “Indeed, every other cable network is currently airing AFA’s ad. If you continue to decline to air the ad, please let us know why the factual support outlined above is insufficient.”

Read more …

The New York Times offers anonymous editorial space to complete nobodies these days. Sweet Jesus. Anything to smear Trump.

‘Anonymous’ Anti-Trump Official Revealed As CNN Pundit Miles Taylor (Fox)

The anonymous senior Trump administration official who authored the infamous New York Times op-ed in 2018 declaring to be part of the “resistance” revealed himself on Wednesday to be former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor. Taylor, who previously came forward as a critic of President Trump and a supporter of Joe Biden in August, explained that he wrote his 2019 book “A Warning” as Anonymous as a “caution to voters that it wasn’t as bad as it looked inside the Trump administration – it was worse.” “While I claim sole authorship of the work, the sentiments expressed within it were widely held among officials at the highest levels of the federal government,” Taylor wrote in a statement published on Medium. “In other words, Trump’s own lieutenants were alarmed by his instability.”

Taylor was hired by CNN as a contributor in September. However, it is now known that he lied to the network by denying authorship of the op-ed during an Aug. 21 interview with his now-colleague Anderson Cooper. “There was an op-ed, there was a book by someone calling themselves ‘Anonymous.’ Are you aware of who that is?” Cooper asked. “I’m not,” Taylor responded. “Look, that was a parlor game that happened in Washington D.C. of a lot of folks trying to think of who that might be. I’ve got my own thoughts about who that might be, but-” “You’re not Anonymous,” Cooper interjected. “I wear a mask for two things, Anderson: Halloweens and pandemics. So, no,” Taylor answered.

[..] According to CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who broke the news on his network on Wednesday afternoon, “We did not know this until today. [..] White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement knocking Taylor as a “low-level, disgruntled former staffer,” as well as “a liar and a coward who chose anonymity over action and leaking over leading. “He was ineffective and incompetent during his time as DHS Chief of Staff which is why he was promptly fired after only serving in this role for a matter of weeks,” McEnany added. “It is appalling a low-ranking official would be granted anonymity and it is clear the New York Times is doing the bidding of Never-Trumpers and Democrats.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also piled on the former Trump official. You have got to be kidding me. Miles Taylor? That’s who the New York Times granted an anonymous editorial article? I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes. What a monumental embarrassment,” Meadows tweeted.

Read more …

“ALICE will never go back to her insecure, low-wage job, ever.”

ALICE Doesn’t Work Here Anymore (CHS)

Meet ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, at least she was employed until the pandemic presented impossible choices between taking care of her children and their education, and her aging parents, and keeping her demanding, low-wage job. Though it doesn’t fit in with the cute mythology of “capitalism” that apologists love to promote, ALICE wasn’t working to get ahead–she was working to barely survive in an economy where wages have stagnated for decades and recently lost ground at an alarming rate as costs for everything from rent to childcare to utilities have soared while her hours have been cut.

This is the neofeudalism I’ve often described here: the modern-day equivalent of the landless (i.e. owns no capital) serf is a landless (i.e. owns no capital) debt-serf with student loans, an auto loan and credit card debt and income that is constrained by globalization, financialization and the scarcity of high-paying work that isn’t reserved for insiders and the privileged few who chose their wealthy, well-educated, socially connected parents wisely. Lacking capital and any realistic means of acquiring any, the debt-serf has only labor to sell, and in a globalized world in which everyone selling their labor is competing globally for work producing tradable goods and services, ordinary labor has lost purchasing power for the past 45 years (see charts below).

The dominance of Big Tech monopoly platforms has created new fields for the exploitation of ordinary labor in the low-paid gig economy and fulfillment centers. The traditional neofeudal fiefdoms (retail outlets, hospitality and restaurants) have been hit by the pandemic pullback in consumer spending, and the other low-wage fiefdoms (fast food and domestic service) have been in structural decline for years. Meanwhile, the owners of the Financial Nobility’s fiefdoms and Big Tech monopolies have enjoyed unprecedented gains in income and wealth (see charts below) as wages’ share of the economy has declined for decades, in effect transferring trillions from labor to the Financial Nobility.

This neofeudal arrangement is about to change as Universal Basic Income (UBI) or its equivalent becomes the accepted status quo solution to neofeudalism’s soaring inequality. Since there’s no limit to how much currency can be created by the Federal Reserve, then why not distribute enough “free money” to the serfs to tamp down the brewing revolt? What the political class and the Financial Nobility don’t yet grasp (due to their complete disconnect from neofeudal daily life) is that ALICE will never go back to her insecure, low-wage job, ever. No matter how meager the UBI, permanent unemployment, stimulus or whatever the political class calls the distribution of “Fed free money,” ALICE will find a way to escape the bonds of neofeudal serfdom.

Read more …

But can’t create it, or print it. I’m not a fan of using all sorts of different kids of inflation, but in this case the point remains the same.

The Fed MUST Have Inflation (Rickards)

The Fed says that “price stability” is part of their dual mandate and they are committed to maintaining the purchasing power of the dollar. But the Fed has a funny definition of price stability. Common sense says price stability should be zero inflation and zero deflation. A dollar five years from now should have the same purchasing power as a dollar today. Of course, this purchasing power would be “on average,” since some items are always going up or down in price for reasons that have nothing to do with the Fed. And how you construct the price index matters also. It’s an inexact science, but zero inflation seems like the right target. But the Fed target is 2%, not zero. If that sounds low, it’s not. Inflation of 2% cuts the purchasing power of a dollar in half in 35 years and in half again in another 35 years.


That means in an average lifetime of 70 years, 2% will cause the dollar to 75% of its purchasing power! Just 3% inflation will cut the purchasing power of a dollar by almost 90% in the same average lifetime. But for the Fed, there’s a problem: They can’t produce 2% inflation. Inflation depends on consumer psychology. We have not had much consumer price inflation, but we have had huge asset price inflation. The “inflation” is not in consumer prices; it’s in asset prices. The printed money has to go somewhere. Instead of chasing goods, investors have been chasing yield. Inflation would help diminish the real value of the debt, but central banks have obviously proved impotent at generating inflation. Now central banks face the new depression and more deflation with few policy options to fight it.

Read more …

” There is not a single case in history where such a recusal of the justice has occurred under this type of flimsy claim.”

Ornstein: Impeach Amy Coney Barrett (Turley)

My column this morning in the Hill discussed a call by columnist and professor Norm Ornstein to impeach Amy Coney Barrett if she does not yield to a demand to recuse herself from any election challenge before the Court. A demand for such recusal was filed yesterday in the Supreme Court. Ornstein’s call for impeachment is the latest unhinged response to Barrett nomination and further decouples our national debate from any sense rationality and restraint. Ornstein declared on Twitter: “If Amy Coney Barrett goes on the Court and immediately votes for PA voter suppression, she should quickly be impeached. Trump asked her openly to act to tilt the scales of the election.”

I have already addressed the recusal calls as entirely baseless. Recusal under these circumstances would create a dangerous precedent for future nominees who are pressured to recuse solely to influence the outcome of pending or expected cases. There is not a single case in history where such a recusal of the justice has occurred under this type of flimsy claim. Barrett has no personal, professional, or financial interest in pending election cases. We have had only one justice ever impeached in our history. That was Samuel Chase in 1804 and he was acquitted by the Senate in 1805.

The Chase case is a telling point of comparison. Like today, the politics of the time were lethal and hysterical. Chase was a highly partisan Federalist who was tainted by the use of the Alien and Sedition Acts to attack political critics during the Administration of John Adams. The impeachment, supported by Thomas Jefferson, was based on Chase’s presiding on controversial trials for figures like James Callender. Despite the Federalist being in the minority in the Senate, the senators overwhelmingly rejected the case against Chase. It remains to be seen if we have a bipartisan majority of senators equally committed to the integrity of the Court and the Constitution today.

Read more …

Bellingcat is a dangerous arm of US, UK intelligence. We will see that soon again in the MH17 mess.

Bellingcat Smears OPCW Whistleblower, Journalists With False Letter (Maté)

Bellingcat, the NATO member state-funded website that has participated in a propaganda effort to accuse Syria of a chemical weapons attack in April 2018 and justify the US-led bombing that followed, has published a new falsehood-ridden attack on an OPCW whistleblower whose suppressed findings exposed the pro-war deception. According to Bellingcat, a leak that it has obtained not only “proves that a chemical attack did occur,” in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018, but also, “shows that any notion of a cover-up at the OPCW is false.” Contrary to Bellingcat’s account, the website has only added a new chapter to the OPCW cover-up scandal by publishing an article beset with multiple demonstrable falsehoods and outlandish or unsupported claims.

It also features a malicious effort to dox and discredit a veteran, highly-regarded OPCW inspector who challenged the censorship of his team’s investigation. The anonymously authored Bellingcat article’s problems begin with its very premise, which turns out to be a blatant falsehood. The article is based on excerpts of a leaked draft letter that, Bellingcat claims, was sent in June 2019 by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias to Brendan Whelan, a member of the OPCW’s Douma team. However, The Grayzone can reveal that the text that Bellingcat published was never actually sent to Whelan. Indeed, the text of the letter featured by Bellingcat was actually an unsent draft that Whelan never received. This fact dismantles the heart of the NATO state-backed website’s argument.

Dr. Whelan, a 16-year OPCW veteran, first challenged the censorship of his team’s investigation in June 2018, weeks after the OPCW team returned from Syria. A series of leaks show that Whelan and the other OPCW inspectors who deployed to Syria found evidence that undermined allegations of a chemical attack in Douma. Yet their data was suppressed, and, when the censorship was challenged, the inspectors were removed from their own investigation. The cover-up coincided with pressure on the OPCW from the U.S. government, which had bombed Syria, along with the UK and France, in April 2018 based on the pretext that the Syrian government was culpable. The OPCW’s final report in March 2019 omitted the suppressed findings and strongly implied Syrian government guilt.

Read more …

Well, it’s something.

Greece Has Protected Its Jobs Better Than The Rest Of The EU (K.)

The Greek government’s measures to protect workers from the effects of the pandemic have served as a shield against unemployment, according to the course of the jobless rate in Greece and the rest of the European Union as revealed by Eurostat figures. In the second quarter of the year, when most of the bloc was in lockdown, the share of workers in Greece who lost their job was below 2% of those employed, against over 6.5% in Spain and between 3.5% and 5% in Italy. Across most EU countries, that rate ranged between 2% and 3.5%, according to an experimental study by the bloc’s statistical service.


Greece achieved that thanks to the introduction of contract suspensions and the subsidy of 534 euros per month to each worker furloughed, which is continuing for more than 160,000 recipients. This puts this country among the member-states that proved best at protecting jobs in the April-June period. On Thursday 116,860 workers will receive the special-purpose compensation for September, adding up to €58 million, and another 41,504 will collect a total of €10.6 million through the Syn-Ergasia labor subsidy program.

Read more …

“Don’t harsh my mellow, man. I’m doing this for a couple bags of blow and a $20, man. You suck!”

Jack Dorsey Hires Homeless Man To Fill In For Him At Senate Hearings (BBee)

Jack Dorsey was summoned to the Senate’s hearing on Big Tech today, but he was tripping on acid with the spider-monkeys off the southern coast of St. Bart’s, so he quickly called up his office and had his people hire a homeless man hanging out in front of Twitter’s headquarters to fill in for him. The hobo was holding up a sign reading “Will Go to Senate Hearing for Crack,” and Dorsey’s assistants quickly hired him for the hearing. “Yeah, uh, censorship, I like that. That’s good stuff,” said the hobo to the confused panel. “The apocalypse is coming, man. The signs are all around us!”

“Sorry, Mr., uh, Dorsey, we were expecting a professional-looking CEO, but you’re clearly just a hobo off the streets of San Francisco,” said Senator Mike Lee. “Couldn’t you at least have taken a shower before talking to the United States Senate?” “Hey, bro, chill out,” the hobo responded. “Don’t harsh my mellow, man. I’m doing this for a couple bags of blow and a $20, man. You suck!” For his part, Mark Zuckerberg programmed a lookalike android to testify.

Ron Johnson @jack

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

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

 

 

Joe Rogan Greenwald Clapper

 

 

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 182020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1906

 

Prince Andrew, The Oligarchs And A New Bombshell For Joe Biden (DM)
Twitter Won’t Unlock NYPost Account Unless Hunter Biden Tweets Deleted (ZH)
Yes, The Hunter Biden Emails Are Authentic (Larry C Johnson)
Biden Attacks CBS Reporter For Asking About The Hunter Biden Scandal (Turley)
The Clocks Struck Thirteen (Kunstler)
Facebook, Twitter Intervention Sets Dangerous New Double Standard (Taibbi)
The Barrett Hearing Left The Democrats Holding An Empty Sack (Turley)
Fed Officials Call For Tougher Regulation To Prevent Asset Bubbles (R.)
Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)
Halted Trials Raise New Safety Questions About ‘Rushed’ COVID19 Vaccines (ZH)
Fauci’s ‘Standard Of Care’ COVID19 Treatment Doesn’t Work (JS)
Berlin Court Overturns Restaurant Curfew (RT)
UK Fishing: Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire (YBL)

 

 

And we’re right back into Hunter Biden. All it takes for me is to hear James Clapper say only once that it’s all Russian disinformation. If there’s anyone here who still believes that, I feel for you,

 

 

Jon Stewart JoeBiden

 

 

Does anyone know if the Daily Mail still has an active Twitter account?

Prince Andrew, The Oligarchs And A New Bombshell For Joe Biden (DM)

Hunter Biden is a 50-year-old American lawyer whose elderly father Joe hopes in just over a fortnight to unseat Donald Trump at the U.S. Presidential election. He’s also a twice-married father of five kids (one via a fleeting affair with a former stripper) who has struggled with cocaine and alcohol addiction for most of his adult life and in 2014, when his dad was Barack Obama’s Vice President, managed to get booted out of the U.S. Naval Reserve for failing a drug test. This week saw a vintage ‘October surprise’ when the New York Post obtained footage of Hunter variously: lying in bed smoking a crack pipe; reclining in the bath with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth; and starring in a 12-minute mobile phone video that, in the newspaper’s words, saw him hoofing class A narcotics ‘while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman’.

Most sensationally — if you believe the Trump camp, that is — it also published leaked emails that appear to implicate Joe in long-standing controversy over his son’s rackety business career. To understand why, you must first know that Biden Jr has for years been criticised for his lucrative but ethically questionable work overseas, which has often created apparent conflicts of interest with Joe’s official roles. For example, in 2014, when Joe, as Vice President, was helping to implement U.S. policy in Ukraine, Hunter took a highly-paid job with a Ukranian energy company called Burisma (of which more later). Around the same time, he built murky and contentious connections with Russia, helping his investment advisory firm Rosemont Seneca receive some $3.5m from the billionaire widow of former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhov (best known on these shores for once donating £138,000 to Sadiq Khan’s Mayor’s Fund for London).

Then there was a somewhat dubious episode in China, where Hunter arranged for an entrepreneur called Jonathan Li, with whom he was setting up an investment fund, to hold a meeting (and enjoy a very public handshake) with Joe in a Beijing hotel lobby during an official visit. Such ventures, in regions of the world hardly known for their probity, have always smelled distinctly whiffy. So what, then, ought we to make of the revelation that, when his father was Vice President, Biden Jr was doing business in a fourth cash-soaked but highly corrupt country? Namely: Kazakhstan. The Mail can reveal that between 2012 and 2014, Hunter worked as a sort of go-between for Kenes Rakishev, a self-styled ‘international businessman, investor and entrepreneur’ with close family connections to the kleptocratic regime of his homeland’s despotic former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.


Hunter and Joe Biden (pictured left and right centre respectively) with oligarch Kenes Rakishev (far left).

Emails passed to this newspaper via anti-corruption campaigners from the Central Asian country reveal that Biden Jr held extensive meetings with Rakishev, who was looking to invest a portion of his personal fortune in New York and Washington DC. He also travelled to the Kazakh capital of Astana to hold business discussions. Hunter Biden then attempted to persuade Rakishev to buy into a Nevadan mining company, brokering a series of meetings with the firm, before convincing him to invest a cool million dollars with Alexandra Forbes Kerry, the film-maker daughter of Democrat Senator and former Presidential candidate John Kerry. Rakishev, who wrote messages in broken English, appears to have become intimate with the Vice President’s son, calling Hunter ‘my brother!’ and ‘my brother from another mother!’.

Read more …

Cut them into little pieces, take their political power away.

Twitter Won’t Unlock NYPost Account Unless Hunter Biden Tweets Deleted (ZH)

By immediately condemning the Hunter Biden emails and photos published by the New York Post as the work of Russian hackers colluding with Rudy Giuliani, the MSM destroyed any credibility it might have had. As we pointed out earlier, more evidence has emerged to support Giuliani’s version of events – namely, that he was given a copy of the laptop’s hard drive and all of its contents by the owner of a Delaware computer-repair shop. But despite apologizing and acknowledging “straight up blocking of URLs was wrong”, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has apparently not finished punishing the New York Post, because three days after the account was initially frozen, the New York Post hasn’t been able to tweet, and according to a NY Post report, Twitter has frozen the New York Post’s account until the paper’s social media managers agree to delete six tweets about Hunter Biden.


“Anyone who looks at The Post’s Twitter feed can’t even see the tweets about the Biden stories, which have been replaced by messages saying, ‘This Tweet is no longer available,'” the Post wrote on Friday. Twitter previously said the Post’s Hunter Biden stories violated the website’s Hacked Media Policy which prohibits the display of “hacked” information, an allegation that the Post called “baseless.” However, on Friday, Twitter updated that policy, saying it will start labeling content that violates its rules rather than remove it altogether “unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them.” Confusingly, though, the company said that these changes wouldn’t apply retroactively, meaning that the NYP still must delete the tweets if it wants to use its account again, even though readers can’t even see them.

Read more …

Johnson knows the Issac family.

Yes, The Hunter Biden Emails Are Authentic (Larry C Johnson)

This story is very simple–Hunter Biden dropped off three computers with liquid damage at a repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware on April 12, 2019. The owner, John Mac Issac, examined the three and determined that one was beyond recovery, one was okay and the data on the harddrive of the third could be recoverd. Hunter signed the service ticket and John Paul Mac Issac repaired the hard drive and down loaded the data. During this process he saw some disturbing images and a number of emails that concerned Ukraine, Burisma, China and other issues. With the work completed, Mr. Mac Issac prepared an invoice, sent it to Hunter Biden and notified him that the computer was ready to be retrieved. Hunter did not respond.

In the ensuing four months (May, June, July and August), Mr. Mac Issac made repeated efforts to contact Hunter Biden. Biden never answered and never responded. More importantly, Biden stiffed John Paul Mac Issac–i.e., he did not pay the bill. When the manufactured Ukraine crisis surfaced in August 2019, John Paul realized he was sitting on radioactive material that might be relevant to the investigation. After conferring with his father, Mac and John Paul decided that Mac would take the information to the FBI office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mac walked into the Albuquerque FBI office and spoke with an agent who refused to give his name. Mac explained the material he had, but was rebuffed by the FBI. He was told basically, get lost. This was mid-September 2019.

Two months passed and then, out of the blue, the FBI contacted John Paul Mac Issac. Two FBI agents from the Wilmington FBI office–Joshua Williams and Mike Dzielak–came to John Paul’s business. He offered immediately to give them the hard drive, no strings attached. Agents Williams and Dzielak declined to take the device. Two weeks later, the intrepid agents called and asked to come and image the hard drive. John Paul agreed but, instead of taking the hard drive or imaging the drive, they gave him a subpoena. It was part of a grand jury proceeding but neither agent said anything about the purpose of the grand jury. John Paul complied with the subpoena and turned over the hard drive and the computer.

In the ensuing months, starting with the impeachment trial of President Trump, he heard nothing from the FBI and knew that none of the evidence from the hard drive had been shared with President Trump’s defense team. The lack of action and communication with the FBI led John Paul to make the fateful decision to contact Rudy Giuliani’s office and offer a copy of the drive to the former mayor. We now know that Rudy accepted John Paul’s offer and that Rudy’s team shared the information with the New York Post.

Read more …

Precisely what Trump has been accused of for years: attack the press. Note: Bo Erickson works for CBS, not exactly known as an anti-Biden network. So where’s the outrage?

Biden Attacks CBS Reporter For Asking About The Hunter Biden Scandal (Turley)

For years, many of us have criticized President Donald Trump for his attacks on the media when they asked him about controversies involving him or his family. The media however has been largely silent as Democratic leaders have ratcheted up attacks on any journalists who question their positions or the party lines. That was evident recently when Speaker Nancy Pelosi bizarrely attacked CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer as an apologist for the Trump Administration simply because he pressed her on blocking the stimulus package. Other liberals piled on Blitzer for daring to challenge the party line. Now Joe Biden has attacked the first reporter from one of the networks who simply asked for a response to the unfolding scandal involving his son Hunter Biden. In emails found on the laptop,

Joe Biden is named in communications with foreign figures seeking influence over U.S. policy. Biden refused to comment and then disparaged CBS News reporter Bo Erickson for even asking him the question. Erickson simply asked “Mr. Biden, what is your response to the New York Post story about your son, sir?” Biden responded “I have no response.” Then Biden added “I know you’d ask it. I have no response, it’s another smear campaign, right up your alley, those are the questions you always ask.” Biden has been hammered for refusing to tell voters whether he will support packing the Supreme Court. This however concerns emails where there are not just allegations of influence peddling worth millions coming from China, Russia, and Ukraine but references to his knowledge or possible involvement. As I wrote recently, there is a striking refusal of the Biden campaign to offer the obvious responses to such allegations.

I have expressed my skepticism over how this laptop was found and when it was disclosed publicly. This could very well be the work of foreign intelligence. However, as I discussed this morning in the Hill, that does not mean that the emails and photos are fabricated. Many of us have long denounced Hunter Biden’s work as a classic influence peddling scheme. That does not make it a crime, but it is common form of corruption in Washington. These emails however, if true, would contradict Joe Biden’s past statements of his lack of knowledge or involvement. Moreover, it would shatter Joe Biden’s repeated assurance that his son did “nothing wrong.” One can argue over whether this is a crime, but few would say that there is nothing wrong with raw influence peddling worth millions with foreign entities.

Read more …

“..lawyers and lawfare do not amount to a supernatural protection force..”

The Clocks Struck Thirteen (Kunstler)

[..] one might suppose that Rudy Giuliani, working on an extremely consequential case for a sitting president, and being a former distinguished federal attorney experienced with, and fastidious about, the handling of evidence, took some pains to ascertain the authenticity of the documents he received. Having done so, one might also suppose that Mr. Giuliani had handed off this material to the Attorney General, Mr. Barr — along with documentation he’s known to have collected about the Biden family’s money-laundering trail through the Baltic states to process additional payments for services rendered above and beyond the millions paid to R. Hunter Biden by Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company whose board of directors he was installed on in 2014.

What all that evidence speaks of is a Biden & Co. foreign influence-peddling scheme that amounts to selling out the USA while Ol’ White Joe was vice-president carrying out official tasks in the countries that paid his son enormous sums of money. The evidence clearly contradicts Mr. Biden’s basic claim that he never spoke with his son, Hunter, about his business dealings. The evidence also indicates clearly that Mr. Biden, then vice-president, received a cut of the collected lucre distributed among the family members. In a normal America, these issues would prompt some sort of official inquiry possibly leading to indictments. But these are the most abnormal times, and the final weeks of a vicious national election that is an existential threat to that coterie of Deep State seditionists whose careers, reputations, and livelihoods are at stake in the outcome.

So, of course, their Ministry of Truth is pulling out all the stops to squash the story. But their hubris is showing. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, being mega-billionaires, probably think that they have the resources to hire every attorney in the known universe to guard their empires. One important lesson for the nation might come out of this: that lawyers and lawfare do not amount to a supernatural protection force. The truth has a mighty power of its own and there are moments in history when it manages to overcome organized evil.

Schachtel timeline

Read more …

“The decision to ban a New York Post expose about Hunter Biden flies in the face of years of “hack and leak” stories..”

Facebook, Twitter Intervention Sets Dangerous New Double Standard (Taibbi)

The only thing that should matter, when it comes to stories like this, is whether or not the material is true and in the public interest. This disturbing new confederation of media outlets and tech firms is rewriting that standard.The optics of a former Democratic Party spokesman suddenly donning a Facebook official’s hat to announce a ban of a story damaging to Democrats couldn’t be worse. Moreover, the Orwellian construct described in papers like the Times suggests that for tech executives, pundits, and Democratic Party officials alike, the lines between fake news and bad news, between actual misinformation and information that is merely politically adverse, have been blurred. It’s no longer clear that some of these people see a meaningful distinction between the two ideas.

The public can’t help but see this. While papers like the Times denounce the true Podesta emails as “misinformation,” and Facebook says the New York Post story must be kept out of sight until verified, the standard for, say, the Steele dossier was and is opposite. In that case, we were told “raw intelligence” should be published so that “Americans can make up their own minds” about information that, while “salacious and unverified,” may still be freely read on Twitter and Facebook, reported on in the New York Times and Washington Post, and talked about on NBC, so long as it has not been completely “disproven.”

As Erik Wemple of the Washington Post points out, even that last point is no longer true, but the Steele dossier and plenty of other products of what Axios calls “hack and leak” journalism continue to be embraced and freely distributed. The obvious double-standard guarantees that the tech platforms will henceforth be viewed by a huge portion of the population as political censors instead of standards enforcers, and moreover that mainstream press pronouncements about such controversies will be deemed automatically untrustworthy by that same population. A secondary problem involves the Hunter Biden/Ukraine story itself, which from the start teetered on conflicting narratives.

Read more …

It was all only ever an election podium.

The Barrett Hearing Left The Democrats Holding An Empty Sack (Turley)

Benjamin Franklin once said, “it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright.” It took almost 300 years, but Franklin’s observation finally has been proven demonstrably true. The three-day Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for federal appellate judge and Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett can best be described as an empty-sack confirmation that simply would not stand upright. From the outset, committee Democrats were dealing with a highly qualified nominee who has the intellect, the temperament and the background to be an exceptional justice. And that was the problem. Democrats decided to use the hearing as a springboard for the coming election. They never intended to put anything in the sack against Barrett.

Yet, to frame this effort, they advanced a number of false premises that collapsed on their own weight: “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is about to be killed”. Barrett was surrounded in the hearing room by photos of ill individuals who could perish without national health care. It made Barrett look like some judicial serial-killer. However, these were not her victims. Indeed, the entire premise was false. Senate Democrats were suggesting that the pending case of California v. Texas was just one vote shy of striking down the ACA. It left many of us watching in disbelief. While a district court struck down the whole act, an appellate court wanted to send it back to consider the elements of “severability.” The vast majority of experts believe that the striking down of one provision — the individual mandate provision — should not result in the loss of the entire act.

More importantly, a clear majority of the Supreme Court appears to believe that. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh both are expected to vote to uphold the rest of the act. Indeed, a Justice Barrett could well vote with them. What is clear is that it is extremely unlikely that the ACA is teetering on destruction. Numerically, the current head-counting means that it is as likely that a unanimous court would support severability as a five justice majority would strike down the whole act. None of that mattered, however, as Democratic committee members spun a conspiracy theory that Barrett’s nomination was all about supplying that needed fifth vote just before a Nov. 10 court hearing on the case. It was an empty sack that just laid there as Barrett explained this was a narrow question of severability and she has never ruled on the issue of severability.

“Abortions are about to become illegal in America”. Barrett is undeniably pro-life. She’s said so over and over. She also said she does not consider Roe v. Wade to be a “super precedent.” As such, the case is not inviolate and can be revisited. However, even if Barrett were to supply the fifth vote on the court to overturn Roe — which remains unlikely — it would not make abortion illegal. Indeed, former Vice President Joe Biden himself has explained why. He said recently that if Barrett helped overturn Roe, his “only response [would be] … [to] pass legislation making Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do.” Put aside for the moment that forcing states to accept abortion, if it is no longer a constitutional right, could be challenging under the 10th Amendment.

The broader point is still valid: Such a decision would simply return the question to the states. And the majority of states likely would continue to guarantee the right to abortion as a legislative matter. In other words, Roe might end — but it would not end the right to choose, as a matter of state law. Ironically, Barrett is a huge defender of states’ rights and would likely defend pro-choice states in asserting such federalism powers.

Read more …

They are used to people taking their nonsense serious.

Fed Officials Call For Tougher Regulation To Prevent Asset Bubbles (R.)

Tougher U.S. financial regulation is needed to avoid the rise of excessive risk-taking and asset bubbles in the markets at a time when the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates low, two senior Fed officials told the Financial Times in an article published on Saturday. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren told the newspaper that the Fed lacked sufficient tools to prevent companies and households from taking on “excessive leverage” and called for a rethink on issues related to U.S. financial stability. “If you want to follow a monetary policy … that applies low interest rates for a long time, you want robust financial supervisory authority in order to be able to restrict the amount of excessive risk-taking occurring at the same time,” the FT quoted him as saying.


“(Otherwise) you’re much more likely to get into a situation where the interest rates can be low for long but be counterproductive,” Rosengren said. Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said there was a need for stricter regulation to avert repeated interventions in the market by the Fed. “I don’t know what the best policy solution is, but I know we can’t just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he told the newspaper. “As soon as there’s a risk that hits, everybody flees and the Federal Reserve has to step in and bail out that market, and that’s crazy. And we need to take a hard look at that,” he said.

Read more …

Yes, it is serious.

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

Abstract. 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.

Read more …

Be a bit nicer to Putin perhaps?

Halted Trials Raise New Safety Questions About ‘Rushed’ COVID19 Vaccines (ZH)

In the interest of “transparency”, Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourlas released a statement on Friday outlining the timeline for when its experimental COVID-19 vaccine might be ready for approval for regular, non-emergency use. Much to Trump’s chagrin, CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said the earlier the company expects to apply for an emergency-use approval from the FDA would be the third week of November, after the election has come and gone. The news capped off what was a busy week for vaccine news, which started Monday night with reports that Phase 3 trials for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine have been paused after a participant came down with an “unspecified” illness.

While JNJ executives insisted their vaccine candidate likely wasn’t the cause, they brought in investigators and are now working to get the trial going again as quickly as possible. If what happened with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is any guide, it could be weeks before US regulators sign off on allowing the trial to resume. AstraZeneca-Oxford trial in the US has been paused for more than a month. Back in September, AstraZeneca briefly halted global studies after UK regulators investigated a pair of patients who came down with symptoms of a rare illness which scientists worried might be connected with the vaccine. Trials in the UK and elsewhere restarted days later, but in the US, regulators have refused to allow the trials to resume.

Already, the time lost by JNJ and AstraZeneca-Oxford has pushed them out of the lead in the race to apply for an emergency use authorization from the FDA. Vaccine candidates being developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have taken the lead. But as Bloomberg pointed out in a piece published Saturday morning, both the AZ and JNJ vaccines relied on the same technique: the so-called adenovirus vector which was also used by the Gameleya Institute’s vaccine (aka Sputnik 5) and at least one of the leading Chinese vaccines. Still, if these investigations determine a link between the illnesses and the vaccines, this could bolster public skepticism, something that surveys have shown is already alarmingly high.

And this year, with Covid-19 vaccines entering strongly into the politics of the hour, transparency and trust are key to fighting a virus that’s hit more than 39 million people globally and hamstrung economies. If concerns about side effects in experimental vaccines in trials using adenoviruses are validated, it could boost skepticism in the general public and raise questions for other drugmakers.

Read more …

“Gilead recently inked a $1 billion deal with the European Union for a six-month supply fo the drug.”

Allegedly, this happened after Gilead knew the study results, but before publication. They had a few days’ window.

Fauci’s ‘Standard Of Care’ COVID19 Treatment Doesn’t Work (JS)

A pharmaceutical giant’s antiviral medication, which has been frequently touted by Dr. Anthony Fauci as the “standard of care” for COVID-19 treatments, does not work whatsoever, according to the biggest and most comprehensive study to date on the super expensive drug. Gilead’s Remdesivir, which costs Americans over $3,000 per treatment course after private insurance, is a total dud, according to a World Health Organization study that tracked over 11,000 COVID-19 patients in 30 different countries. The study concluded that Remdesivir (and several other COVID-19 “treatments”) has no positive effects for COVID-19 patients whatsoever. In fact, there was no demonstrable difference between patients in the control group and the treatment group.

The New York Times summarized the results of the study: “In the end, no drug or combination reduced mortality, the chances that mechanical ventilation would be needed, or time spent in the hospital, compared with the patients without drug treatment,” Dr. Fauci is heavily invested in Remdesivir succeeding. Since 2014, he has dedicated massive taxpayer resources into studying and hyping Gilead’s product through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which he has led since 1984. Fauci’s NIAID both conducted and funded much of the development of Remdesivir. Over $40 million in taxpayer dollars used in the development of Remdesivir can be traced directly to grants delivered by Fauci’s agency. Additionally, the NIAID is currently sponsoring two separate, major clinical trials on the Gilead product.

In April, the Dr. Fauci chief touted Remdesivir as the best available product to combat COVID-19: “The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. This is really quite important. It’s highly significant,” he said in an April press conference. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci added, describing the drug as the “standard of care” for COVID-19 patients. Fauci’s optimism was not backed by any particular evidence. The “successful” study that he was touting in April was funded by Gilead itself. And even that study showed a lack of success in treating COVID-19 patients. Still, with the backing of Fauci and others in the public health bureaucracy, Gilead secured a $1.2 billion deal with the U.S. government for 500,000 treatment courses. Additionally, Gilead recently inked a $1 billion deal with the European Union for a six-month supply fo the drug.

Read more …

“According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), most new cases of the disease are being traced to meetings between families and friends, religious gatherings, meat-processing plants, hospitals, nursing homes and other sources, the court explained.”

Berlin Court Overturns Restaurant Curfew (RT)

There is no evidence that keeping restaurants shut at night would significantly slow down Covid-19, so Berlin’s curfew order infringes on business freedoms, a court in the German capital has ruled. The Friday decision deals a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response to the latest surge in coronavirus cases, under which all German federal states agreed earlier this week to enforce common social distancing guidelines. The Berlin administrative court sided with the owners of 11 restaurants, which petitioned for an emergency injunction to overturn an order that forced them to remain closed between 11pm and 6am. The measure came into force last Saturday, putting Berlin under curfew for the first time in seven decades.

Berlin authorities failed to prove that the measure was necessary to slow down the spread of Covid-19, the ruling said. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), most new cases of the disease are being traced to meetings between families and friends, religious gatherings, meat-processing plants, hospitals, nursing homes and other sources, the court explained. So, the curfew constituted a disproportionate infringement of business freedom. The court also rejected the idea that the curfew was necessary to enforce a ban on serving alcohol at night, which the restaurant owners didn’t challenge in their complaint. People should be presumed to be complying with the ban, it said. The ruling can be appealed to a higher court.

Earlier this week, Germany’s 16 federal states agreed on a set of measures meant to curb the ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases. They include harsher restrictions on gatherings, stricter mandates for wearing facemasks and curfews. Chancellor Merkel said she was not satisfied with the new guidelines because she believed they were not harsh enough “to avert disaster.”

Read more …

A treaty from 1666…

UK Fishing: Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire (YBL)

Somebody once said, when Britain left the EU we didn’t fall into a void but into something far worse. This was in respect of aviation and the thicket of international agreements which preceded the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA), but it applies equally to fishing and the common fisheries policy. Leaving the common fisheries policy, meant we actually fell into the 1964 London Convention on Fisheries, which gave 13 other European states the right to fish in British waters between six and 12 nautical miles from our coast. So, we had to withdraw from that convention, which we did by announcing in July 2017 that we intended to do so and DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove then gave the required two years notice.

This initiated a period of consultation with stakeholders, leading to a new fisheries bill that is about to drop anchor on Tuesday as it reaches the report stage in the House of Commons. However, the Belgium ambassador Willem van de Voorde, has put a dogfish among the prawns, so to speak, by raising the question of a treaty dating back to 1666 signed by King Charles II, which granted 50 Flemish fishermen from Bruges “eternal rights” to fish in English waters. This caused a bit of a flurry in British newspapers, with the Daily Express as usual suggesting that “desperate Brussels” were using it to try and settle the “Brexit fishing row.” But Belgian newspapers were reporting this back in 2017. NWS Flanders News quoted the then Flemish prime minister Geert Bourgeois suggesting a solution to the fishing problems was this 350-year-old treaty. Mr Bourgeois even produced a copy of it on television.

The treaty was discovered in an archive in 1963. Apparently, a Bruges alderman then “ventured out into British waters to test it out”. “He deliberately had himself arrested by the British hoping they would take him to court. However, this didn’t happen. Documents from the British archives later revealed that it was advised against taking the Belgian to court, because of fears concerning the 1666 Charter. They were afraid it would still be in force”, Bourgeois’ spokesperson explained afterwards. The spokesperson admitted the chances the 1666 Charter would still apply are small, but added: “It’s not completely impossible that it still grants Bruges fishermen certain rights”. It’s not clear how Gove intends to withdraw from that one. But no doubt if it gets to that stage, he will give it a try.

However humorous it might be, British fishermen are unlikely to be laughing at the guidance for UK fish exports to the EU, released in September by the UK government and updated again last week. It looks formidable to me. After 1 January 2021, UK fishermen will need to follow the same byzantine rules that are currently in place for exports of fish from non-EU countries. The guidance says they will need an export health certificate, except for direct landings of fresh fish in EU ports from UK-flagged fishing vessels, plus a catch certificate that needs to be validated and sent to the importer. They may also need direct landing documents, and a storage document if the product has been stored, and a processing statement if the product has been processed.

Read more …

MusicWasBetter

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

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

 

 

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
~ Mark Twain

 

 

This is majestic. Don’t miss.

Morgan Freeman. Black History Month. “How are we going to get rid of racism?” Stop talking about it.

 

 

Supercomputer virus spread

 

 

 

 

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

 

Sep 072020
 
 September 7, 2020  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Robert Doisneau Le Baiser Blotto, Paris 1953

 

Assange Makes His Way To Date With Destiny He Always Predicted (SMH)
Interview With Barry Pollack, Julian Assange’s US Lawyer (Gosztola)
The Fight To Control Who Reports From Portland (Reason)
Growing Numbers Of District Attorneys Are Out To Undermine The Law (NYP)
DC PR Firm Ran Fake News Networks For Right-Wing Latin American Regimes (GZ)
Biden Ad About Trump Plan That Doesn’t Exist Receives 4 WaPo Pinocchios (WJ)
A Rogue Institution And Clear & Present Danger To Liberty In America (Stockman)
Russians Are The Dumbest Idiots On The Planet! (Saker)

 

 

The only thing I, or anyone, should be writing about really today is the ultimate disgrace that is the Julian Assange extradition hearing which just started at the Old Bailey in London. What else matters on a day like this? Then again, the hearing is supposed to last for three(?!) weeks, so we’ll have plenty to say about it.

For now, I’ll just repeat: this is how we treat our best and brightest. It’s a deeply sad day. And yes, who are we to let this happen? What prospects, or even rights, do we have for a better future for ourselves and our children if we let him be silenced and killed? Don’t we allow those prospects and rights to be killed along with him?

 

 

 

 

US new daily cases at their lowest since June 21.

 

 

 

 

 

Herd immunity
https://twitter.com/i/status/1302655315939336206

 

 

it’s ironic that Julian was the only one who knew about this for years. Perhaps even more ironic, though, is that he allowed himself to be set up.

Assange Makes His Way To Date With Destiny He Always Predicted (SMH)

As Julian Assange makes his way in a prison van this morning, London time, to the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court for his US extradition hearing, he’s heading for a date with destiny he long predicted. In Melbourne in 2010, after he had released the infamous US helicopter gunship video, Collateral Murder, which showed innocent civilians, including two Reuters news staff being mown down in a Baghdad square, Assange worried about being snatched off the streets. Now the United States is trying a less dramatic but equally questionable version of its CIA rendition program. The attempt to extradite Assange is designed to stifle dissent, sending a chill through the ranks of investigative journalists worldwide. If Assange can be prosecuted for exposing evidence of US war crimes, so can any journalist anywhere in the world.

It was just such a fear of being extradited to the US that led Assange to successfully seek asylum in London’s Ecuador embassy in 2012, where he remained until April last year when police stormed in and arrested him – a particularly zealous act for the relatively minor offence of skipping bail. As he makes his way into the court today, Assange is walking in the footsteps of one of the UK’s most celebrated investigative reporters, who exposed Britain’s worldwide electronic intelligence gathering operation. Duncan Campbell, working for the magazine Time Out in London, had revealed the existence of the then secret Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s version of the Australian Signals Directorate and the US National Security Agency.

Campbell was arrested in 1977 with two other men and accused of being a spy. He was charged with “unauthorised receipt of classified information” and publishing information “intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy”. The trial collapsed after the defence exposed the fact the prosecution had stacked the jury with military personnel and others who had signed the Official Secrets Act. It was evidence of just how far the British state would go in its attempt to secure a conviction in a national security case. Fifty years later, Assange can point to a similar intervention, when the Crown Prosecution Service appeared desperate to pressure Sweden not to “get cold feet” as it considered dropping an extradition request regarding sex allegations against Assange.

Despite repeated denials by the British government, Assange has always argued the Swedish extradition was part of a plan to pass him to the US. It seems he was right. There’s also the role of the chief magistrate, Lady Emma Arbuthnot. She broke the judicial rules of impartiality by not recusing herself from overseeing the Assange case. Her husband, a member of the House of Lords, is a former Conservative defence minister. He was also a paid consultant for a company run by the former head of MI6. A second hearing found Campbell and his co-defendants guilty of unauthorised receipt of classified information. They were given non-custodial sentences. Possibly as a result of the public uproar about what had happened, the more damaging charge against Campbell was dropped.

Assange

Read more …

“…every day the New York Times and the Washington Post publish classified information..”

Interview With Barry Pollack, Julian Assange’s US Lawyer (Gosztola)

GOSZTOLA: One of the issues that has become pronounced is we see the U.S. government making this argument that Julian should be denied First Amendment rights while at the same time suggesting they can bring a prosecution under the Espionage Act. But many defense attorneys have defended alleged leakers by claiming the Espionage Act is too broad when it comes to the First Amendment, making First Amendment defenses to try to see how far those might go. How do you view this dynamic that is part of the U.S. prosecution?

POLLACK: The position that the U.S. is taking is a very dangerous one. The position the U.S. is taking is that they have jurisdiction all over the world and can pursue criminal charges against any journalist anywhere on the planet, whether they’re a U.S. citizen or not. But if they’re not a U.S. citizen, not only can the U.S. pursue charges against them but that person has no defense under the First Amendment. It remains to be seen whether a U.S. court would accept that position, but that certainly is the position that the government is taking. In the cases that have been brought under the Espionage Act to date, efforts to build defenses around the First Amendment have been quite unsuccessful. The courts have not [generally allowed or supported defenses] based on the First Amendment. But those are cases where the defendant was a leaker, not a publisher. This case is unique. The U.S. government has never tried to charge a journalist or a publisher under the Espionage Act.

GOSZTOLA: That raises an important question in my mind, which is, how can someone who is not from the U.S. be expected to submit to these U.S. secrecy laws and regulations, especially when he never signed a non-disclosure agreement? A key part of these Espionage Act prosecutions are that they are brought forward as strict liability offenses, that he signed something. It seems that there is no evidence whatsoever in favor of the U.S. government that he signed anything to agree to not disclose information.

POLLACK: That’s correct. In the cases that have been brought to date, the charges have been against an employee of the government, a government contractor, a former employee of the government, all people who entered into an agreement with the government that they would not disclose classified information. Journalists don’t enter into that type of agreement, and every day the New York Times and the Washington Post publish classified information. The Department of Justice has never charged a domestic reporter under the Espionage Act. Up until the current administration, I think it was widely understood that doing so would be inconsistent with the First Amendment. Publishers do not have those kinds of non-disclosure agreements. They report what is newsworthy, and that includes classified information that comes into their possession.

What the government is doing here is not only charging a publisher who has no non-disclosure obligation but charging a publisher who is not in the United States. They’re charging an Australian citizen, who is publishing from the U.K. So it is an unprecedented prosecution.

Read more …

Behind the masks.

The Fight To Control Who Reports From Portland (Reason)

“YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM!” is a cry you hear incessantly at protests in Portland, Oregon, always shouted at close range to your face by after-dark demonstrators. You can assert that, yes, you can film; you can point out that they themselves are filming incessantly; you can push their hands away from covering your phone; you can have your phone record them stealing your phone—all of these things have happened to me—and none will have any impact on their contention that “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM” and its occasional variation, “PHOTOGRAPHY EQUALS DEATH!” I cannot say who came up with these anti-camera battle cries. But it’s easy to understand why protesters use them: to shape the narrative the country sees about the protests.

And that narrative, in my estimation after many weeks covering street clashes in a city where I lived for 15 years, is 90 percent bullshit. I wondered, the first time I attended the protests at the federal building back in July, who all these young people with PRESS emblazoned on their jackets or helmets were. I asked one such guy who he worked for. “Independent Press Corps,” he told me. As it turned out, dozens of other young PRESS people happened to work for the same outfit, which I at first assumed was a fancy way of saying “I want to report stuff and stream it on my Instagram.” This turned out to be naive. The IPC is an organized group in league with the activists, and it is usually their footage you see streamed online and recycled on the news: mostly innocent protestors being harassed and beaten by police.

The police indeed have tear-gassed and beaten people; there has been brutality. It is equally true, but featured less prominently in the news coverage, that activists spend hours every night menacing and setting fires to police stations and other institutions: City Hall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters, and last week Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment building (until he agreed to move out). With the PRESS crew recording part of the story and the “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM!” crew harassing other journalists, the result can be a misleading view of the protests. It’s a revolution via the cellphone video they allow you to see. The IPC and other documentarians who are deemed sympathetic to the activists’ cause agree on certain principles. You do not show activists’ faces.

You only show activists in a defensive position: responding to, rather than inciting, violence. You enhance what can appear to be police brutality, e.g., activists defending themselves with homemade shields, often bearing the anarchist circle-A, against police. The shields are largely ineffective for personal defense, but extremely effective for optics, and that’s precisely the point. If a member of the IPC is arrested, he or she will be protected. Reporters seen as not sufficiently sympathetic to the cause—which is defined by the Ten Demands for Justice, and includes most notably the abolition of the police—will be followed, be harassed, have their notes photographed and their phones blocked or stolen. (All these things have happened to me in the last month. A photographer friend has been repeatedly doxxed and placed on a list of “enemies.”)

If you forget any of these rules, you can just refer to the handy Google spreadsheet of approved journalists and suggested behavior. The spreadsheet contains names, Twitter handles, and ways to financially support the journos who make the cut.

Read more …

No matter what side you’re on, this is quite the development.

Growing Numbers Of District Attorneys Are Out To Undermine The Law (NYP)

One reason for the surging, often protracted violence in US cities is the rise of a host of progressive prosecutors who actually tilt against law and order. The trend is most glaring in places known for their kooky left-wing politics, like Portland and San Francisco, but extreme leftists have also taken over as district attorneys in cities like Chicago and Boston. Many owe big thanks for their elections to funding from far-left fatcat George Soros. In Portland, violent “protests” have dragged on for months, thanks to the idiocy of Mayor Ted Wheeler, who let hoodlums drive him out of his own condo — but also to Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt, who dropped charges against hundreds of people arrested for offenses like interfering with cops, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and rioting. Schmidt also made it harder to prosecute assaults on cops.


In Contra County, Calif., outside San Francisco, DA Diana Becton will now consider looters’ “needs” when weighing criminal charges. At Politico, she and four other black, female DAs (from Chicago, Boston, St. Louis and Durham) actually slammed the very criminal-justice system they were elected to enforce — ludicrously claiming it was “constructed to control Black people and people of color” and that it’s now doing just that. The Bay City’s DA is Chesa Boudin, the son of Brink’s robbery cop-killers who was raised by radical Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. He, too, has adopted rules making it harder to prosecute suspects. Chicago’s State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who vowed to cut the jail population, dropped 35 percent more felony cases than her predecessor over three years (including that of alleged racial hoaxter Jussie Smollett).

Read more …

I think of Assange immediately when I read things like this.

DC PR Firm Ran Fake News Networks For Right-Wing Latin American Regimes (GZ)

A major US PR firm located just a few blocks from the White House has been caught running an industrial grade propaganda operation on social media. The information warfare blitzkrieg relied on fake accounts and pages to spread disinformation on behalf of right-wing, US-backed governments in Latin America, while deploying covert propaganda to destabilize the leftist governments targeted by the US in Venezuela and Mexico. The company behind the campaign, CLS Strategies, signed a contract to represent Bolivia’s far-right junta and provide “strategic communications counsel” in the lead-up to that country’s ostensible election. After coming to power through a US-backed military coup in November 2019, the Bolivian regime has delayed the election numerous times on specious grounds.

CLS Strategies also used its network of fake accounts and pages to push propaganda on behalf of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition and the US-backed parallel coup regime of Juan Guaidó. Some of the CLS-run Facebook and Instagram profiles even posed as disgruntled Venezuelan soldiers, and called on members of the armed forces to rebel against the socialist government. Other pages claimed to be run by disaffected former supporters of leftist leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. The DC-based company similarly filled social media with disinformation demonizing Mexico’s left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his party Morena, who have been under increasing attack by right-wing oligarch forces. On Facebook, the PR firm spent a staggering $3.6 million on ads to promote this propaganda.

CLS Strategies has close links to the US government. The firm employs former government officials like Mark Feierstein, who oversaw Latin America policy for the Obama White House. Feierstein also served as coordinator of Latin America activities for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a regime-change arm that has been used as a front for covert CIA operations and spearheaded the Trump administration’s coup attempts in Venezuela. Another CLS senior advisor, David Romley, worked as a Pentagon spokesman, press attaché to the secretary of defense, and public affairs officer for the US Marine Corps. Before moving to CLS, Romley also served as vice president for communications at the German Marshall Fund, a prominent Cold War-era think tank funded by the US government and NATO that has been integral in pushing the new cold war on Russia and China.

[..] he Grayzone has reported on social media corporations’ US government-backed censorship of independent media outlets and voices critical of US foreign policy. Virtually all of Facebook’s purges of alleged fake accounts have targeted foreign governments and firms in other countries. The CLS Strategies fake news ring is apparently the first time Facebook has ever taken down a US-based operation. Facebook published a press release on September 1 acknowledging that it had removed a network of 55 fake accounts and 42 pages, along with 36 Instagram profiles…

Read more …

WaPo are his best friends.

Biden Ad About Trump Plan That Doesn’t Exist Receives 4 WaPo Pinocchios (WJ)

The truth is that the Biden campaign lied, according to The Washington Post, which awarded the campaign its maximum rating for untruthfulness over a recent ad. The ad puts a highly unfavorable spin on President Donald Trump’s executive order that created a payroll tax holiday. The order did not end the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, but deferred it. Trump’s order was accompanied by comments from the president saying that he would like to see the tax eliminated in the future and that if re-elected, he would seek to make that happen. The Biden ad claimed: “The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration just released an analysis of Trump’s planned cuts to Social Security. Under Trump’s plan, Social Security would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023.

“If Trump gets his way, Social Security benefits will run out in just three years from now. Don’t let it happen. Joe Biden will protect Social Security.” Well, not quite. As The Post noted, Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of Social Security, was asked by four Democratic senators to respond to “hypothetical legislation” that would mandate a “zero percent” payroll tax. The senators wanted to know how long it would take for Social Security to run out of funds if no money flowed into its coffers. “I am not aware that anyone has proposed the hypothetical legislation you describe,” Goss riposted in his reply. He then said that if there was no new money flowing, the fund would run dry up in 2023.

However, Goss also said that if any new legislation used the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund instead of the payroll tax as the source of the funding to meet Social Security’s needs, which is what Trump proposed, “the projected depletion date of the trust fund reserves would be essentially unaffected by the legislation.” What this means, according to The Post, is that “Democrats ginned up a letter from the chief actuary to describe a plan that does not currently exist.” [..] “The ad cites ‘Trump’s plan.’ But the actuary’s letter says it is referring only to a hypothetical plan sketched out by Democrats.”

The Post pointed out that the Biden campaign ad misrepresents Goss’ letter. “The ad asserts that if ‘Trump gets his way,’ benefits will run out. But actually the letter says if transfers are made from general funds, no benefits would run out. That, at least at the moment, is what Trump says he would do. “That adds up to Four Pinocchios,” Kessler wrote. On its ratings scale, no whopper is a bigger lie than one that receives four Pinocchios.

Pelosi: Wrap-up smear

Read more …

The Fed will have to end itself. We’re not able.

A Rogue Institution And Clear & Present Danger To Liberty In America (Stockman)

We have never heard more gibberish, double talk, and lies from one podium than we have from Fed Chairman Powell. There is no other way to say it: The Fed has become a dangerous rogue institution that has usurped plenary power over the financial system. This is all based on implicit theories that eventually lead to a massive speculative blow-off, even as it sucks the vitality out of the Main Street economy in the interim. The implicit theory is brazenly simple: The Fed believes that relentless credit expansion fosters greater economic growth and full employment. It believes that there is no practical limit to how much debt the household, business, and government sectors of the economy can tolerate or any notable adverse trade-offs from ever-higher leverage ratios.


Self-evidently, lower interest rates foster more debt issuance. When economic growth falters for any reason, the Fed’s first action is to push rates even lower. This ratcheting process has gone on for more than three decades, and interest rates have, for all practical purposes, been obliterated. The chart below takes all the short-run bobbing and weaving out of the GDP data by showing the rolling 20-year average of annual growth. It is dispositive. By 2019, the rolling 20-year growth trend had fallen to 2.1% per annum—a figure less than half of the 4.4% level in place exactly 50 years ago.

The above dismal trend line was not for want of trying with the debt elixir. At the end of 1969, total public and private debt (blue area in the chart below) stood at $1.54 trillion, which has since mushroomed to, well, nearly $78 trillion! In exactly half a century, the level of debt weighing on the US economy attributable to all borrowers—households, businesses, governments, and financials—is up by 51X. However, at the same time, the national income or nominal GDP (red area in the chart below), which supports it, has risen by only 21X. That alone points to the skunk in the woodpile.

The debt-to-GDP ratio in 1969 stood at 1.47X, which had been roughly centered in that area for a century since 1870—an interval that saw the greatest explosion of economic growth, mass prosperity, technological progress, and accumulated wealth in human history. It happened without any increase in the national leverage ratio at all. It had remained at the golden mean of 1.5X debt-to-income throughout. Today the total debt-to-national income ratio stands at 3.47X, or exactly two more turns of debt than 50 years ago. To be sure, two extra turns of debt sounds like investment banker jargon, but the phrase captures the essence of the rot that lies at the heart of the nation’s financial system and economy. Those two extra turns amount to $43 trillion of incremental debt, which constitutes the millstone crushing economic growth and the rudiments of sustainable prosperity.

Read more …

Is Germany just out for cheaper gas?

Russians Are The Dumbest Idiots On The Planet! (Saker)

Russians are dumb. Hopelessly stupid. They are amateurs of the worst kind. Ignoramuses on steroids. Why? Well, for one, their so-called super-dooper biowarfare agent “Novichok” seems unable to kill anybody. The Russians must have realized that. This is why, when they tried to kill Skripal (after freeing him from jail) they put that Novichok thing all over the place: on the bench near Salisbury, on Skripal’s door handle, even in some bottle of perfume a local addict found in the trash. Probably all over the Skripal home, and this is why the Brits initially said that they would tear down the extremely toxic place (yet both the Skripal cat and their hamster survived – tells you how utterly useless that pretend biowarfare substance really was…). One would have thought that after this total cluster-bleep the Russians would have learned their lesson.

But no. They are clearly too dumb for that. So they decided to poison Alexei Navalnyi, a well-know “dissident”. And they failed. Again! Not only did they use exactly the same “Novichok” (or so says the German media), they allowed Navalnyi’s aircraft to make an emergency landing and the FSB did nothing to prevent an ambulance to bring Navalnyi to a hospital. Apparently, the FSB does not even have the authority to prevent such urgent treatment of the man they want to kill. Heck, they can even create a traffic jam to prevent Navalnyi from getting to a hospital. How incompetent! Even worse, these accursed Russki doctors gave Navalnyi atropine, the exact same substance the Germans gave him. Makes me wonder if these doctors were not all CIA/BND agents trying to save Navalnyi’s life…


Clearly, the FSB are also stupid: they can’t even get aircraft or doctors to obey them… But it gets worse. In spite of the fact that Navalnyi has broken the terms of his suspended sentence and in spite of the fact that such a person cannot leave the country, these Russian imbeciles allowed him to fly to Germany while his body was still full of Novichok sloshing around. All the Russians needed to do to kill Navalnyi would have been to give him a heart attack using any one of the many untraceable agents in existence (say, potassium chloride). In despair, the clueless FSB might have caused Navalnyi do die in a car “crash”. But they can’t even do that. Shame on you, FSB! And since Navalnyi is diabetic, killing him ought to be fantastically simple: just give him the wrong dose of meds and, voilà, bye-bye Navalnyi. But not, these idiots decided to use the now infamous Novichok.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

Feynman
https://twitter.com/ProfFeynman/status/1302459153768611840

Growing robot

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Sep 052020
 
 September 5, 2020  Posted by at 10:04 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


John Guttman 1st drive-in theater in California, Los Angeles 1935

 

Russia’s COVID19 Vaccine Showed Antibody Response In Initial Trials (R.)
Post-COVID Syndrome Severely Damages Children’s Hearts (MedEx)
Back to School…D’ya Think? (Kunstler)
Joe Biden Goes Full Ron Burgundy (ZH)
Stocks Are Up. Wages Are Down. What Does it Mean? (EFTD)
Fed Chair Powell: Wearing Masks Can Lead To ‘Enormous’ Economic Gains (Y!)
Nearly Two-Thirds Of New York Restaurants Could Close By Year’s End (JTN)
DOJ, Flynn Lawyers Urge Judge To Move ‘With Dispatch’ To Dismiss Charges (JTN)
In Joint Motion With DOJ, Flynn Requests Court Expedite Ruling (SAC)
Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs (David Graeber)

 

 

On the COVID front, the numbers get uglier, but the Russian vaccine works, so how many have we ordered, did you say? Can we get the billions in development funds back from Big Pharma?

On the election front, it’s getting harder to find news, because the polarization is getting so extreme. The Atlantic piece about Trump badmouthing soldiers is on the level of eating babies stories, but people eat it up. What else do they have in store? And why isn’t anyone calling for calm?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt

 

 

It seems to work. What are we waiting for?

Russia’s COVID19 Vaccine Showed Antibody Response In Initial Trials (R.)

Russia’s “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine produced an antibody response in all participants in early-stage trials, according to results published on Friday by The Lancet medical journal that were hailed by Moscow as an answer to its critics. The results of the two trials, conducted in June-July this year and involving 76 participants, showed 100% of participants developing antibodies to the new coronavirus and no serious side effects, The Lancet said. Russia licensed the two-shot jab for domestic use in August, the first country to do so and before any data had been published or a large-scale trial begun.

“The two 42-day trials – including 38 healthy adults each – did not find any serious adverse effects among participants, and confirmed that the vaccine candidates elicit an antibody response,” The Lancet said. “Large, long-term trials including a placebo comparison, and further monitoring are needed to establish the long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for preventing COVID-19 infection,” it said. The vaccine is named Sputnik-V in homage to the world’s first satellite, launched by the Soviet Union. Some Western experts have warned against its use until all internationally approved testing and regulatory steps have been taken.

But with the results now published for the first time in an international peer-reviewed journal, and with a 40,000-strong later-stage trial launched last week, a senior Russian official said Moscow had faced down its critics abroad. “With this (publication) we answer all of the questions of the West that were diligently asked over the past three weeks, frankly with the clear goal of tarnishing the Russian vaccine,” said Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which has backed the vaccine. “All of the boxes are checked,” he told Reuters. “Now… we will start asking questions of some of the Western vaccines.”

Read more …

More freak stuff.

Post-COVID Syndrome Severely Damages Children’s Hearts (MedEx)

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), believed to be linked to COVID-19, damages the heart to such an extent that some children will need lifelong monitoring and interventions, said the senior author of a medical literature review published Sept. 4 in EClinicalMedicine, a journal of The Lancet. Case studies also show MIS-C can strike seemingly healthy children without warning three or four weeks after asymptomatic infections, said Alvaro Moreira, MD, MSc, of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Moreira, a neonatologist, is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the university’s Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.


“According to the literature, children did not need to exhibit the classic upper respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 to develop MIS-C, which is frightening,” Dr. Moreira said. “Children might have no symptoms, no one knew they had the disease, and a few weeks later, they may develop this exaggerated inflammation in the body.” The team reviewed 662 MIS-C cases reported worldwide between Jan. 1 and July 25.

Among the findings:
• 71% of the children were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).
• 60% presented with shock.
• Average length of stay in the hospital was 7.9 days.
• 100% had fever, 73.7% had abdominal pain or diarrhea, and 68.3% suffered vomiting.
• 90% had an echocardiogram (EKG) test and 54% of the results were abnormal.
• 2.2% of the children required mechanical ventilation.
• 4.4% required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
• 11 children died.


“This is a new childhood disease that is believed to be associated with SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Moreira said. “It can be lethal because it affects multiple organ systems. Whether it be the heart and the lungs, the gastrointestinal system or the neurologic system, it has so many different faces that initially it was challenging for clinicians to understand.” The amount of inflammation in MIS-C surpasses two similar pediatric conditions, Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. “The saving grace is that treating these patients with therapies commonly used for Kawasaki—immunoglobulin and glucocorticosteroids—has been effective,” Dr. Moreira said.

Read more …

“Covid has initiated the death of public ed in America..”

Back to School…D’ya Think? (Kunstler)

“…Covid has initiated the death of public ed in America…. The state cannot decide whether we should start full remote or whether we should try some weird hybrid schedule. Nobody can make a decision. The union is pissed. They know most of the classrooms are poorly ventilated and too small and they see nothing but a ‘cruise ship’ scenario unfolding. Remote is terrible, but it is better than nothing….” Before we go further, remember the first principle of the long emergency: anything organized at the giant scale is liable to fail. During the post-war growth spurt, we consolidated all the nation’s schools into giant districts serviced by the yellow bus fleets bringing thousands of kids together in buildings designed to look like insecticide factories.

And when that project was complete, what did we get? Two decades of mass shootings in schools. I don’t think we got the correct message from this — which is that this manner of schooling produces so much ennui and anomie that some kids turn homicidal by the time they hit their teens. The fact that this condition remains unrecognized, and certainly absent from public discussion, says a lot about our disastrous collective psychology of previous investment: having set up this miserable system at titanic expense, we can’t even think about changing it. Now, as is usual in human history, the process will happen emergently, on its own, whether we like it or not, because circumstances demand it.

Another matter absent from news media is what happens when falling tax revenues start to bite the giant consolidated school districts. My physics teacher correspondent in New England writes: “School finances are in full reverse mode. Whispered in the hallways before every school committee and in every town council chamber is the awesome reality that sales tax and property tax collections are down 25 – 30 percent. The fear is palpable…. It seems to me that Public Ed as we currently know it will be history in about four years. It is a big edifice. It will take a few years to fully implode, but not a decade. There’s no money left to keep it going as it is.”

Read more …

This was just too funny.

Joe Biden Goes Full Ron Burgundy (ZH)

Joe Biden engaged in a giant softball game with the press today – perhaps best described by Newsbusters’ Curtis Houck as not “even putting the ball on the tee. This is hitting the ball over the stands and letting Biden run the bases.” But before we get the choreographed Q&A, you should know that Biden went full Ron Burgundy today – reading “end of quote” off the teleprompter. The Friday flub comes just one day after Biden read ‘topline message’ off another teleprompter. In short, Biden is now having issues with ‘behind the curtain’ media cues.

Hillary
https://twitter.com/i/status/1302033150164586497

Read more …

“Since 2017, Bezos’ net worth has grown by about $4 million per hour..”

Stocks Are Up. Wages Are Down. What Does it Mean? (EFTD)


If you listen carefully, you can hear Jeff Bezos getting richer. There’s the sound again. Another billion in Bezos’ coffers. Let’s put some numbers to this sound of money. Since 2017, Bezos’ net worth has grown by about $4 million per hour — roughly 500,000 times the US minimum wage.1 This accumulation of wealth would be absurd during normal times. Today, as many workers lose their jobs to a brutal pandemic, it’s obscene. While Bezos is the pinnacle of capitalist excess, his wealth is part of a larger story. Over the last 40 years, stock prices have surged while wages have stagnated. What does this trend mean? In this post, I take a deep dive into the stock market. I’ll first tell you what the stock market is not. It’s not an indicator of ‘productive capacity’. Nor is it ‘fictitious capital’. So what is it?

The stock market, argue Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, is how capitalists quantify their power. To understand what Nitzan and Bichler are talking about, we’ll unmask the ritual that defines our social order — the ritual of capitalization. Read on to take the red pill and lift the veil of capitalist ideology. When it comes to the stock market, many people believe they have original insight. Often, however, they’re parroting old ideas. Noting this tendency, economist John Maynard Keynes wrote: “[T]he ideas of economists and political philosophers … are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” (Keynes in The General Theory)

When it comes to interpreting the stock market, there are two big ideas. Both come from ‘defunct economists’. The first big idea is that rising stocks are good for everybody. I’ll call this the ‘good-for-GM’ worldview (for reasons explained below). This big idea owes not to any single economist, but to an entire defunct school: neoclassical economics. The second big idea is that the stock market is disconnected from the rest of the economy. I’ll call this the ‘fictitious-capital’ worldview. It’s an idea that dates back to Karl Marx (who had a defunct view of capital). Let’s unpack these ideas.

Read more …

He doubles as a doctor?

Fed Chair Powell: Wearing Masks Can Lead To ‘Enormous’ Economic Gains (Y!)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said Friday that Americans should wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines to ensure an economic recovery. “There’s actually enormous economic gains to be had nationwide from people wearing masks and keeping their distance,” Powell told NPR. Powell added that short of a vaccine, such measures enable people to “go back to work and not get sick.” Powell also spoke about the August jobs report, describing the addition of 1.371 million payrolls in August as “a good one.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the new numbers on Friday morning, which also showed the unemployment rate falling to 8.4% — below the street’s expectations.

Powell pointed out that the August gains were not as large as those in May and June. “I guess I would just say, the recovery is continuing,” Powell said Friday in a clip aired on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” “We do think it will get harder from here because of those areas of the economy that are so directly affected by the pandemic still.” Powell’s remarks on Friday mark his third media interview since the COVID-19 crisis began. On March 26, Powell appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and in mid-May, CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Powell. The Fed Chairman’s remarks to NPR will be the last from Fed officials as policymakers head into a media blackout ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting on September 15 and 16.

“We think that the economy’s going to need low interest rates, which support economic activity, for an extended period of time,” he told NPR. “It will be measured in years. The Fed chief also emphasized that more fiscal support is needed from lawmakers at the White House and Capitol Hill, for example on eviction moratoriums. “We shouldn’t let those people lose everything they have and have to move out or be evicted and move in with family. That’s also not going to be good for containing the COVID spread,” he said.

Read more …

Eat at home.

Nearly Two-Thirds Of New York Restaurants Could Close By Year’s End (JTN)

New York restaurants are taking the hit from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s extended coronavirus shutdowns, with almost two-thirds of owners saying they could be out of business by year’s end, according to a survey released Thursday. The survey by the New York State Restaurant Association is based on responses from over 1,000 restaurant owners in the state and provides a window into the future of the previously booming industry, as the pandemic nears six months. Roughly 63% of respondents said they could likely close by the end of the year without some form of financial relief and 36% said they expect to still be in business in January. “It is painfully clear that without financial assistance, the restaurant industry in New York State could collapse,” said Melissa Fleischut, the NYSRA’s president and CEO.


“These recent survey results illustrate just how dire the financial situation has become for most restaurants, and it shows how critical it is that elected officials understand the urgency of the situation.” Restaurant owners need financial support but ultimately want increased indoor dining capacity and in NYC the ability to open for indoor dining. New York city officials said earlier this week that roughly 1,300 of the city’s 25,000 restaurants and bars have shut down amid the pandemic. “We are now asking the governor, the state Legislature and those at the federal level to simply help us survive. Without further assistance, the restaurant industry as we know it could be gone in a New York minute,” Fleischut also said.

Read more …

Why am I thinking the judge will let it go to the Supreme Court? What does he have to lose?

DOJ, Flynn Lawyers Urge Judge To Move ‘With Dispatch’ To Dismiss Charges (JTN)

The Justice Department and Michael Flynn’s defense team jointly asked a federal judge Friday to move “with dispatch” to complete a ruling on whether to dismiss the former Trump adviser’s guilty plea and related criminal charge from the Russia probe. The two sides, which agree the case should now be dismissed based on exculpatory evidence of innocence made public earlier this year, laid out a schedule in a joint status report to complete briefs, reports and hearings in September. “The United States and General Flynn agree that this Court should resolve the pending motion to dismiss with dispatch,” their report argued. “Any delay would harm both the government, which must expend resources on a case that it has determined should be dismissed, and General Flynn, who faces impairments on his liberty and the cloud of a pending prosecution that the Executive Branch seeks to end.”


The filing came just days after the full DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a three-judge panel’s decision and refused to grant a writ of mandamus that would have dismissed the charge against Flynn. The appeals court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan and asked him to move quickly to resolve the matter. Flynn withdrew his guilty plea nearly a year ago and the Trump DOJ concluded earlier this year that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of the former Trump national security adviser for lying to the FBI was unwarranted.

https://twitter.com/SidneyPowell1/status/1301996116494475270

Read more …

“..there is no reason for any delay.”

In Joint Motion With DOJ, Flynn Requests Court Expedite Ruling (SAC)

Former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and the Department of Justice filed a motion late Friday to expedite his case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied his petition for a writ of mandamus against Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is overseeing the case. Flynn’s case has been a roller coaster ride since the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller targeted the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who went on to be a loyal and trusted member of Trump’s team in 2016. Moreover, Flynn has been up against a behemoth of opposition from former Obama officials and Sullivan, who has acted more like a prosecutor than a judge. The circumstances surrounding Flynn’s case have led Trump, along with many others, to call for his exoneration.

Evidence discovered over the past year by the DOJ’s Inspector General, Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, and an appointed counsel put in place by Attorney General William Barr reveal extensive malfeasance in the FBI’s handling of its investigation into the Trump campaign and Flynn. The litany of evidence collected during the investigations led the Justice Department to request a dismissal Flynn’s case. Unfortunately, the request to dismiss the case was politicized by Judge Sullivan, who is overseeing Flynn’s case. He has been fighting the request and accusing Barr of intervening on behalf of Trump. Because of this, Sullivan appointed an amicus curiae, a friend of the court, to argue on his behalf as to why the case should not be dismissed until he reviews it further.

Powell fought back against Sullivan’s unusual actions but could not persuade the appellate court last week to order Sullivan to dismiss the case against Flynn based on the Justice Department’s motion to have his case dismissed. In effect, Flynn and his family have faced an extraordinary ordeal over the past three years that has left the three-star general and war hero depleted of funds and emotionally strained. “We look forward to getting a ruling on the government’s motion to dismiss as soon as possible,” Powell told SaraACarter.com. “Between the issues fully briefed for the Court of Appeals in which Judge Sullivan fully participated as if he were a party and the briefing already filed in his court, there is no reason for any delay.” In the motion Powell and the Justice Department argue that it “is not necessary, however, for this Court to wait until September 21 to proceed with this case. The Court instead may, and should, set a schedule to resolve this case as soon as possible.”

Read more …

4 years ago.

Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs (David Graeber)

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by century’s end that countries like Great Britain or the United States would achieve a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes’ promised utopia – still being eagerly awaited in the ‘60s – never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn’t figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we’ve collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment’s reflection shows it can’t really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the ‘20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be).

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1958

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Sep 022020
 
 September 2, 2020  Posted by at 9:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman 1475-80

 

Trump Administration Issues Sweeping Eviction Ban (Hill)
Trump Knocks Fauci: ‘I Inherited Him’ (Hill)
Fauci: COVID Vaccine Trials Could End Early If Results Are Overwhelming (KHN)
Dem Group Warns Of Apparent Trump Election Day Landslide (Axios)
CIA Conduct During Russia Assessment May Be Next Boomerang (Solomon)
FBI Investigated Trump As Comey Said He Wasn’t Under Investigation (JTN)
Judge Sullivan Files Order Dragging Out Flynn Case Past Election (CT)
How an “Act of God” Pandemic Is Destroying the West (Michael Hudson)
Fed Now Owns Nearly One Third of All US Mortgages (Mish)
California Democrats Kill Gas and Oil Regulations (Horn)
Erdogan Asked His Generals To Sink Greek Ship Or Shoot Down Fighter Jet (KTG)
Journalists Paved Assange’s Path To A US Gulag (Cook)

 

 

We need rapid tests and HCQ, zinc, lots of them all. The numbers are not decreasing nearly fast enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb Fragility + Pandemic

 

 

Election time.

Trump Administration Issues Sweeping Eviction Ban (Hill)

The Trump administration issued an order Tuesday banning landlords from evicting tenants from properties they can no longer afford to rent due to income lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The order, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would make it illegal to evict any individual who expects to make less than $99,000 or a joint-filing couple that expects to make less than $198,000 in 2020. The tenants would still be required to pay rent owed per the terms of the lease, but will be allowed to stay in their unit through the end of the year. “President Trump is committed to helping hardworking Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus. Today’s announcement from his administration means that people are struggling to pay rent and risk further spreading of exposure to the disease, due to economic hardship,” said White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern.


The national eviction ban was issued under a federal law that gives the CDC director authority to impose measures to prevent the spread of communicable disease “as he [or] she deems necessary.” The provision specifically refers to filling the gaps left by “inadequate” state-imposed public health measures and does not directly mention financial aid or overriding contracts between citizens, raising questions about its legality. In order to qualify for the eviction protection, a tenant must declare that their 2020 income will fall below the threshold set out in the order; they’ve sought all potential sources of federal housing aid; and that they cannot afford to pay the rent due to a pandemic-related job loss or expense despite their best efforts to do so.

Read more …

Trump gets the blame for the pandemic, but Fauci is the go-to guy.

Trump Knocks Fauci: ‘I Inherited Him’ (Hill)

President Trump on Monday questioned the value of Anthony Fauci to the White House coronavirus task force, saying in an interview with Fox News that he “inherited” the government’s top infectious disease expert. “I disagree with a lot of what he said,” Trump told Laura Ingraham when asked if he would put Fauci “front and center” in the pandemic response if he could do it again. “I get along with him, but every once in a while, he’ll come up with one that I say, ‘Where did that come from?'” Trump continued. “I inherited him. He was here. He was part of this huge piece of machine.” The president reiterated his claim that Fauci opposed his decision to restrict travel from China in January. Fauci indicated at the time he did not think it was a good idea, though he later said it had bought the U.S. time to fight the virus.


Trump has repeatedly undermined and criticized Fauci. Last month, he retweeted a message that said Fauci “has misled the American public on many issues, but in particular, on dismissing #hydroxychloroquine and calling Remdesivir the new gold standard.” He also has said Fauci is a nice man but has “made a lot of mistakes.” Other White House officials, such as trade adviser Peter Navarro, have openly attacked Fauci in public. Fauci has been among the most visible members of the White House coronavirus task force, giving frequent media interviews. However, he has largely been cut out of recent public White House events around the pandemic, as has Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the administration’s coronavirus response.

Read more …

Empty blah.

Fauci: COVID Vaccine Trials Could End Early If Results Are Overwhelming (KHN)

A COVID-19 vaccine could be available earlier than expected if ongoing clinical trials produce overwhelmingly positive results, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, in an interview Tuesday with KHN. Although two ongoing clinical trials of 30,000 volunteers are expected to conclude by the end of the year, Fauci said an independent board has the authority to end the trials weeks early if interim results are overwhelmingly positive or negative. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board could say, “‘The data is so good right now that you can say it’s safe and effective,’” Fauci said. In that case, researchers would have “a moral obligation” to end the trial early and make the active vaccine available to everyone in the study, including those who had been given placebos — and accelerate the process to give the vaccine to millions.


Fauci’s comments come at a time of growing concern about whether political pressure from the Trump administration could influence federal regulators and scientists overseeing the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and erode shaky public confidence in vaccines. Prominent vaccine experts have said they fear Trump is pushing for an early vaccine approval to help win reelection. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he trusts the independent members of the DSMB — who are not government employees — to hold vaccines to high standards without being politically influenced. Members of the board are typically experts in vaccine science and biostatistics who teach at major medical schools. “If you are making a decision about the vaccine, you’d better be sure you have very good evidence that it is both safe and effective,” Fauci said. “I’m not concerned about political pressure.”

Read more …

It’ll be mayhem. Good for the lawyers, bad for everyone else. The US will be lucky not to have a civil war.

Dem Group Warns Of Apparent Trump Election Day Landslide (Axios)

A top Democratic data and analytics firm told “Axios on HBO” it’s highly likely that President Trump will appear to have won — potentially in a landslide — on election night, even if he ultimately loses when all the votes are counted. Way more Democrats will vote by mail than Republicans, due to fears of the coronavirus, and it will take days if not weeks to tally these. This means Trump, thanks to Republicans doing almost all of their voting in person, could hold big electoral college and popular vote leads on election night. Imagine America, with its polarization and misinformation, if the vote tally swings wildly toward Joe Biden and Trump loses days later as the mail ballots are counted.

That is what this group, Hawkfish, which is funded by Michael Bloomberg and also does work for the Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden Super PACs, is warning is a very real, if not foreordained, outcome.Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn calls the scenario a “red mirage.” “We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump,” he said. “When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after Election Day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage,” Mendelsohn said. “It looked like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted.”

Under one of the group’s modeling scenarios, Trump could hold a projected lead of 408-130 electoral votes on election night, if only 15% of the vote by mail (VBM) ballots had been counted. Once 75% of mail ballots were counted, perhaps four days later, the lead could flip to Biden’s favor. This particular modeling scenario portrays Biden as ultimately winning a massive victory, 334-204.

Read more …

These things need much more scrutiny.

CIA Conduct During Russia Assessment May Be Next Boomerang (Solomon)

By his own admission, ex-CIA Director John Brennan chafed at being questioned earlier this month by federal prosecutor John Durham about the Obama administration’s intelligence assessment that Russia’s meddling in 2016 election was designed to help Donald Trump. Brennan “questioned why the analytic tradecraft and the findings of the ICA are being scrutinized by the Department of Justice, especially since they have been validated by the Mueller Report and the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Review,” a statement issued by his spokesman Nick Shapiro said. The answer, according to multiple officials familiar with the evidence, is that the House intelligence committee in 2018 sent a secret report to the CIA inspector general that called into question the tradecraft used in the Brennan-led assessment.

Specifically, the officials said, it highlighted dissent and doubts by some intelligence community analysts about Vladimir Putin’s intentions in intervening in the 2016 election. Some believed it was to help Trump; others believed it was simply to sow chaos without picking a winner, and still others saw evidence Putin might have preferred Hillary Clinton, the officials said. In other words, an assessment that was portrayed as unanimous when it was made public in early January 2017 was anything but at the analyst level, according to Fred Fleitz, a longtime intelligence officer who was briefed on the House intelligence committee’s concerns when he served as chief of staff in the National Security Council.

“When I was briefed on the House Intelligence Committee report on the January 2017 ICA, I was told that John Brennan politicized this assessment by excluding credible intelligence that the Russians wanted Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 election and ordered weak intelligence included that Russia wanted Trump to win, Fleitz told Just the News. “I also was told that Brennan took both actions over the objections of CIA analysts. I am concerned about what happened to these analysts and worry that they may have been subjected to retaliation by CIA management,” he added.

“These analysts are true whistleblowers, and they should come to the congressional intelligence committees to tell their stories and set the record straight on the ICA.” Officials said the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, who was a member of the House Intelligence Committee before joining the Trump administration, is considering declassifying parts or all of the House Intelligence Committee report to the inspector general. Ratcliffe hinted Sunday new releases of information are imminent. “I’m optimistic that I’ll be declassifying additional documents soon,” Ratcliffe told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.

Read more …

And Trump knew.

FBI Investigated Trump Tweets As Comey Said He Wasn’t Under Investigation (JTN)

The conservative watchdog Judicial Watch says it has received more than 300 pages of emails between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page that includes records of the FBI discussing an investigation into tweets sent by President Trump in early 2017 about the agency spying on him at the behest of former President Obama. In a March 2017 exchange, Strzok emails several of his colleagues, including Page, about several tweets the President Trump had sent earlier in the month commenting on suspected wire tapping at Trump Tower during the 2016 election. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” wrote POTUS on March 4.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” Trump continued. “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” He concluded the March 4 tweet storm with: “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate Bad (or sick) guy!” On March 29, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey’s chief of staff emailed Strzok, Page and several of their colleagues saying that the director would like a briefing on a “sensitive matter.”

A followup email says that Comey requested the briefing so that he would be able to brief then-acting U.S. Attorney General Dana Boente. One week after the email exchange and director’s briefing, the second renewal and order of the FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was filed. The new emails also detail exchanges between FBI officials and reporters at CNN and the New York Times pertaining to the Russia investigation. [..] “These astonishing emails, which have been hidden for years, show the Comey FBI was investigating President Trump over his critical tweets of the agency and Obama’s spying abuse and misconduct,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These emails also show that Comey was intimately involved with illegal and dishonest FISA spy op against President Trump.”

Read more …

No coincidence.

Judge Sullivan Files Order Dragging Out Flynn Case Past Election (CT)

The minute order filed by Judge Emmet Sullivan outlines a protracted time-frame for the next sequence of events in the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. As noted in the order, Sullivan is now telling the DOJ and Flynn defense to file a joint status report outlining their “recommendation for further proceedings” by September 21, 2020. From there a briefing schedule which will require both parties to respond to Sullivan’s personal amicus (Gleeson), and additionally respond jointly to any other amicus not ordered by the court. Lastly, Sullivan is requesting three dates for oral arguments. In essence, despite his ability to quickly convene the parties to settle all matters before the court; which includes the unopposed motion by the DOJ and defense to drop the case; Sullivan intends to drag this case out as long as possible and use the amicus as a tool forcing responses from both parties (DOJ and Flynn). So much for the “quick dispatch” outlined within the DC Circuit opinion, this case is going on for several more months.

Read more …

Jubilee time.

How an “Act of God” Pandemic Is Destroying the West (Michael Hudson)

Before juxtaposing the U.S. and alternative responses to the coronavirus’s economic effects, I would like to step back in time to show how the pandemic has revealed a deep underlying problem. We are seeing the consequences of Western societies painting themselves into a debt corner by their creditor-oriented philosophy of law. Neoliberal anti-government (or more accurately, anti-democratic) ideology has centralized social planning and state power in “the market,” meaning specifically the financial market on Wall Street and in other financial centers. At issue is who will lose when employment and business activity are disrupted. Will it be creditors and landlords at the top of the economic scale, or debtors and renters at the bottom?

This age-old confrontation over how to deal with the unpaid rents, mortgages and other debt service is at the heart of today’s virus pandemic as large and small businesses, farms, restaurants and neighborhood stores have fallen into arrears, leaving businesses and households – along with their employees who have no wage income to pay these carrying charges that accrue each month. This is an age-old problem. It was solved in the ancient Near East simply by annulling these debt and rent charges. But the West, shaped as it still is by the legacy of the Roman Empire, has left itself prone to the massive unemployment, business closedowns and resulting arrears for these basic costs of living and doing business.

Western civilization distinguishes itself from its Near Eastern predecessors in the way it has responded to “acts of God” that disrupt the means of support and leave debts in their wake. The United States has taken the lead in rejecting the path by which China, and even social democratic European nations have prevented the coronavirus from causing widespread insolvency and polarizing their economies. The U.S. coronavirus lockdown is turning rent and debt arrears into an opportunity to impoverish the indebted economy and transfer mortgaged property and its income to creditors. There is no inherent material need for this fate to occur. But it seems so natural and even inevitable that, as Margaret Thatcher would say, There Is No Alternative. But of course there is, and always has been. However, resilience in the face of economic disruption always has required a central authority to override “market forces” to restore economic balance from “above.”

Read more …

How not to do a Jubilee.

Fed Now Owns Nearly One Third of All US Mortgages (Mish)

Nearly $7 Trillion in Securities, $2 Trillion Mortgages. As of August 26, 2020 the Fed’s Balance Sheet is nearly $7 trillion total of which $3.7 trillion are notes or bonds, and nearly $2 trillion in mortgages (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae).

Bloomberg reports No End in Sight to Fed’s Mortgage Buying Spree. • The Fed has snapped up $1 trillion of mortgage bonds since March. It bought around $300 billion of the bonds in each of March and April, and since then has been buying about $100 billion a month. • The Fed now owns almost a third of bonds backed by home loans in the U.S. • Buying the securities has pushed mortgage rates lower, with the average 30-year rate falling to 2.91% as of last week from 3.3% in early February. • Morgan Stanley analysts pointed out in late March that the buying was running at eight times the pace seen in prior episodes of Fed purchasing under programs known as quantitative easing. • Just before this latest round, principal payments from its mortgage bond holdings had whittled that down to 21%, but it has now increased back to 30%. • If the Fed maintains its current buying pace, it will again own 34% of the mortgage universe by year’s end.

Read more …

It was always just lip service.

California Democrats Kill Gas and Oil Regulations (Horn)

Big money from Big Oil and industry-tied unions has helped to kill a legislative effort to create environmental protections for communities living near oil and gas operations in California. On August 5, a 5-4 Senate committee vote struck down consideration of legislation calling for a 2,500-foot setback between future oil wells and homes, schools, and playgrounds. Only one of those votes came from a Republican. It was the second time in as many years that the bill, Assembly Bill 345, failed to pass, and it failed to do so even after several rounds of significant amendments had watered down the legislation. With that, a years-long activist-led legislative movement went up in smoke for 2020.

And then came the historically large wildfires. Within a matter of days, the state’s northern half caught fire at an epic scale, wildfires made worse from climate change and fueled by unfettered fossil fuel drilling. California oil is some of the dirtiest, from a climate change perspective, in the United States. Drilling for oil in the state also has major public health repercussions, an impetus driving AB 345. Recent studies have linked oil drilling in California to health impacts, including low birth weight and small gestational age, as well as preterm births. Research has also linked higher levels of industrial pollution to higher contraction rates of COVID-19. Despite these impacts, the bill attracted a core group of Democratic legislators who ultimately oversaw the bill’s demise.

Three of those who spoke out the most strongly against AB 345 at the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water hearing on August 5 before voting against it — senator Ben Hueso, senator Andreas Borgeas, and Senate majority leader Bob Hertzberg — have received high dollar contributions and other support from oil interests that lobbied against AB 345. The lobbying and influence campaign efforts waged by the oil industry and labor against AB 345 illustrates the difficulty in crafting climate policy and environmental protections — even in a state with a supermajority Democratic Party legislature that bills itself as a global leader on fighting climate change.

Read more …

Merkel needs to wake up.

Erdogan Asked His Generals To Sink Greek Ship Or Shoot Down Fighter Jet (KTG)

German conservative newspaper Die Welt reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to provoke a military incident with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to survive politically.In a report entitled “Erdogan’s calculated war,” the news paper said that “if it depended on the Turkish President, his navy would have sunk a Greek ship in the Mediterranean a long time ago.” Citing Turkish military sources, Die Welt wrote that Erdogan had asked Turkey generals a few days ago to sink a Greek ship and that they should do so securing that no one is killed in the process.


When the generals refused, someone else suggested shooting down a Greek fighter, and the pilot could use the launch pad to save himself. But Turkish generals again refused. Turkish and Greek Navy ships have been at standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea since Ankara sent seismic vessel Oruc Reis for hydrocarbon research in the Greek continental shelf beginning of August. Fighter jests of the two countries are often engaged in “dog fights” over the Aegean Sea because Turkey sends its F-16s to violate Greek air space.

Read more …

“He is the modern equivalent of a severed head on a pike displayed at the city gates.”

Journalists Paved Assange’s Path To A US Gulag (Cook)

Court hearings in Britain over the US administration’s extradition case against Julian Assange begin in earnest next week. The decade-long saga that brought us to this point should appall anyone who cares about our increasingly fragile freedoms. A journalist and publisher has been deprived of his liberty for 10 years. According to UN experts, he has been arbitrarily detained and tortured for much of that time through intense physical confinement and endless psychological pressure. He has been bugged and spied on by the CIA during his time in political asylum, in Ecuador’s London embassy, in ways that violated his most fundamental legal rights. The judge overseeing his hearings has a serious conflict of interest – with her family embedded in the UK security services – that she did not declare and which should have required her to recuse herself from the case.

All indicators are that Assange will be extradited to the US to face a rigged grand jury trial meant to ensure he sees out his days in a maximum-security prison, serving a sentence of up to 175 years. None of this happened in some Third-World, tinpot dictatorship. It happened right under our noses, in a major western capital, and in a state that claims to protect the rights of a free press. It happened not in the blink of an eye but in slow motion – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And once we strip out a sophisticated campaign of character assassination against Assange by western governments and a compliant media, the sole justification for this relentless attack on press freedom is that a 49-year-old man published documents exposing US war crimes.

That is the reason – and the only reason – that the US is seeking his extradition and why he has been languishing in what amounts to solitary confinement in Belmarsh high-security prison during the Covid-19 pandemic. His lawyers’ appeals for bail have been refused. While the press corps abandoned Assange a decade ago, echoing official talking points that pilloried him over toilet hygiene and his treatment of his cat, Assange is today exactly where he originally predicted he would be if western governments got their way. What awaits him is rendition to the US so he can be locked out of sight for the rest of his life.

There were two goals the US and UK set out to achieve through the visible persecution, confinement and torture of Assange. First, he and Wikileaks, the transparency organisation he co-founded, needed to be disabled. Engaging with Wikileaks had to be made too risky to contemplate for potential whistleblowers. That is why Chelsea Manning – the US soldier who passed on documents relating to US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan for which Assange now faces extradition – was similarly subjected to harsh imprisonment. She later faced punitive daily fines while in jail to pressure her into testifying against Assange.

The aim has been to discredit Wikileaks and similar organisations and stop them from being able to publish more revelatory documents – of the kind that show western governments are not the “good guys” managing world affairs for the benefit of mankind, but are in fact highly militarised, global bullies advancing the same ruthless colonial policies of war, destruction and pillage they always pursued. And second, Assange had to be made to suffer horribly and in public – to be made an example of – to deter other journalists from ever considering following in his footsteps. He is the modern equivalent of a severed head on a pike displayed at the city gates.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

Taleb Being Lebanese

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 302020
 


Pablo Picasso Girl Before A Mirror 1932

 

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)
DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)
3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)
Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)
Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)
Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)
With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)
Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)
Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)
Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

 

 

We passed 25 million global cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan:
– Population: 126 Million
– COVID deaths: 1,255 (10/M)
– % Obese: 4%

USA:
– Population: 328 Million
– COVID deaths: 183,000 (558/M)
– % Obese: 40%

If the US had the same obesity as Japan, we would have only 3,280 COVID deaths. 179,720 lives would have been saved…

 

 

Anti Face Mask Issue Solved

 

 

There is so much wrong with PCR tests, yet the “experts” refuse to even discuss rapid tests. Time to change that, test people every day in 15 minutes, not let them wait for days or weeks.

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)

Cheap, rapid COVID-19 tests simple enough to use anywhere — home, school, the office — could help us climb out of the pandemic disaster, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Andrew Morris. Just spit into a tube or swab your nose, wait a few minutes for the stripes to change colour — results available within minutes. With no vaccines or “fantastic therapies” for COVID, the best we can do is keep infected people out of buildings to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus, says Morris. Which is why he finds it “absurd” that Heath Canada says the risks of home or self-testing kits outweigh the benefits and that it will reject applications for such devices “without compelling new evidence to the contrary.”

The federal health agency worries that, “without the guidance of a health-care professional,” people would use the home test kit improperly or “misinterpret the results” and that it could be impossible to collect test results — information that’s key to “important health decisions involving disease control during an outbreak,” the department said in an emailed statement. “If it’s done in a haphazard way … you might actually create more problems, confusion than the actual benefits because you might get maybe a higher risk of false negative results,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing. Morris wants the government to seriously rethink its position on home testing. They’re not the solution to COVID, but they are part of it, he believes.

Cheap, rapid testing is the backbone of infectious disease management, says Morris, of the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto. “But if Health Canada says ‘we aren’t even interested in these tests,’ they are neither being open-minded nor strategic in understanding the potential of these tests.” It has echoes of earlier federal dismissals of face masks, when officials worried masks would lead to a “false sense of security” and more face-touching. “The current strategy is not to trust the public… and we need to change that,” Morris says. The gold standard of testing today is a workhorse called reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, which amplifies SARS-CoV-2 from nasal swabs, so that minute amounts of RNA can be detected.

Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, or who thinks he or she may have been exposed, can get PCR testing. But PCR testing isn’t designed around getting our lives back to normal, Morris says. It’s expensive, testing capacity is seriously limited and it can take days to get results. Vancouver has seen traffic gridlock at testing sites as B.C. battles with a surge in cases. Ottawa has had four-hour-long waits at its COVID testing sites. “The only way we can get our society back up and running is by having some better situational awareness than what we have,” Morris says.

[..] Rapid tests aren’t perfect. They aren’t as sensitive as PCR tests. But they don’t need to be perfect, argues Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Michael Mina. Mina says the tests can detect the virus when a person is most infectious, with high viral loads. “The vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious,” Mina told Harvard Magazine. Paper-strip test could cost less than one or two U.S. dollars to produce, he says. Millions could take them daily or every other day. Frequent testing, with fast results, would help break chains of transmission, Mina tweeted this week. Morris has heard talk the FDA is expected to authorize several lateral flow assay tests for COVID-19 in the coming weeks. “And nothing by Health Canada. To me, this is a massive, massive blind spot.”

Read more …

I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he provokes this gem from Adam Schiff (is this the 1950s?): “..the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed senators and representatives on Friday that election security briefings, previously given to Congress in person, will between now and the November elections be delivered in written form. The letter, which was sent on Friday and declassified on Saturday afternoon, notes that the intelligence community has given Congress dozens of briefings on election security over the past two years. “While many of these engagements and products have been successful and productive, others have been less so,” Ratcliffe wrote in the document.

“In order to ensure clarity and consistency across the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s … engagements with Congress on elections,” Ratcliffe continued, “the ODNI will primary meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products.”

Ratcliffe said the move will help ensure that intelligence information is neither “misunderstood nor politicized,” and that the new protocol will “protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.” Democrats on Saturday evening slammed the decision. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the move represented “a shocking abdication of [ODNI’s] responsibility to keep Congress informed.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, meanwhile, claimed that the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

Read more …

Schiff can also claim a large role in this. Where’s that evidence, Adam? We’re still waiting.

3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)

Three-quarters of Democratic voters believe that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Asked whether it was more likely that Trump colluded with Russia in 2016 or that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign that year, 73% of Democrats said the Russia collusion theory was more likely to have occurred. In contrast, 67% of Republicans expressed more belief in the claim that the Obama administration spied on Trump during that election. Overall, 43% of voters put more stock in the Russia story.


The Russia collusion theory dominated headlines and politics for roughly the first three years of the Trump administration. A 22-month, special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller concluded without finding evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Rasmussen using a mixed-mode approach from August 20-22.

Read more …

“The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.”

Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)

I don’t see a civil war happening in the US. But I do think that this country can, and probably will, break-up into different zones so to speak. In some regions, law and order will be maintained, by force is needed, while in others something new will appear: what the French call “des zones de non-droit“, meaning “areas of lawlessness” in which law enforcement will be absent (either because the political leaders will refuse to engage them, or because they will simply have to withdraw under fire). Typically, such zones have a parallel “black” economy which can make the gangs which control such zones very wealthy (think of Russia in the 1990s). Eventually, a lot of people will flee from such zones and seek refuge in the safer areas of the country (this process has already begun in New York).


Right now, there are a little over two months before the election, and I think that it is safe to say that the situation will deteriorate even faster and much worse. By November 2nd the country will be “ready” (so to speak) for a massive explosion of violence followed by months of chaos. Many will probably vote Trump just because they will (mistakenly) believe that he is the only politician who will stand against what the Dems promise to unleash against the majority of “deplorables” who want to keep their country and traditions. At the core, the conflict we are now witnessing is a conflict about identity, something which most people deeply care about. Sooner or later, there will be push-back against the Dems attempt to turn the USA into some kind of obese transgender liberal Wakanda run by crooks, freaks and thugs. The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.

Read more …

Michael Moore’s winning slogan and strategy: the Democrats are terrible, but you DO have to vote for them.

Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)

The documentary film-maker Michael Moore has warned that Donald Trump appears to have such momentum in some battleground states that liberals risk a repeat of 2016 when so many wrote off Trump only to see him grab the White House. “Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said. Moore, who was one of few political observers to predict Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in key areas compared with the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden. “Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to pull this off?” Moore posted on Facebook late on Friday.

Moore identified opinion polling in battleground states such as Minnesota and Michigan to make a case that the sitting president is running alongside or ahead of his rival. “The Biden campaign just announced he’ll be visiting a number of states – but not Michigan. Sound familiar?” Moore wrote, presumably indicating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race when she made the error of avoiding some states that then swung to Trump. “I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance. The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much,” he later added. He continued to voters: “Don’t leave it to the Democrats to get rid of Trump. YOU have to get rid of Trump. WE have to wake up every day for the next 67 days and make sure each of us are going to get a hundred people out to vote. ACT NOW!”

Moore, a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders’s leftwing candidacy, warned in October 2016 that “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘f*** you’ ever recorded in human history – and it will feel good,” even as Clinton appeared to be sailing to victory. “Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting, and that’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump,” Moore warned at that time.

Read more …

A lot of people in that camp were actively working on this. There are new names just about every day.

Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)

A former associate of Sen. John McCain served as a key conduit between journalists and dossier author Christopher Steele in early 2017, going so far as offering to “feed” stories about Trump associates to a Washington Post columnist, according to documents from a British court proceeding. David Kramer, a former State Department official who worked at the McCain Institute, kept Steele apprised of his contacts in January 2017 with journalists from BuzzFeed News, CNN, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post regarding aspects of the dossier. Kramer relayed information he learned from reporters at ABC News and the Journal regarding the dossier’s allegation that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague, according to text messages read at a defamation trial against Steele in London last month.

The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a transcript of the closed-door court proceedings, which were held in London from July 20-24. Steele, a former MI6 officer, is being sued by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman who Steele’s dossier accuses of hacking Democrats’ computer systems in 2016. Kramer was already known to have met with reporters to discuss the dossier. He has acknowledged providing the dossier to a reporter for BuzzFeed News, which published the salacious document on Jan. 10, 2017. But the Steele messages suggest Kramer played a more proactive role in trying to put negative stories in the media about Trump associates. Kramer’s most eye-catching references are to David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who writes about national security issues.

“The Flynn calls story is picking up legs,” Kramer wrote to Steele, seemingly referring to a Jan. 12, 2017, column by Ignatius that revealed that Flynn spoke by phone weeks earlier with Sergey Kislyak. According to text messages read at the trial, Kramer suggested to Steele that he would provide dirt on Trump associates to Ignatius. “I think it’s time to get that other [Manafort] story out there,” Kramer wrote in a message to Steele, referring to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “And Ignatius is the one I’ll feed it to,” he also wrote. Steele insisted during his testimony that Kramer was suggesting feeding a story to Ignatius about Flynn rather than Manafort. “It’s a Michael Flynn story, isn’t it?” Steele asked during the cross-examination.

He went on to say that the information regarding Flynn he discussed with Kramer was not found in the dossier. “Any story here about Michael Flynn is completely independent of anything in the dossier,” said Steele. The former spy did not describe the Flynn story, but Kramer told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 that Steele told him that he believed that Flynn had an affair with a Russian-British researcher in the United Kingdom. The unverified allegation matches closely with stories that appeared in the media in March 2017 that alleged that Flynn had improper contacts with former Cambridge researcher Svetlana Lokhova in 2014, when Flynn visited the historic university as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Read more …

“Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.”

In most other jobs, if you’ve been wrong for decades, you get fired or resign. But when you’re handling trillions of dollars, there are different standards.

With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)

One of the fundamental theories of modern economics may have finally been put to rest. In the several years before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the global economy, Federal Reserve policymakers watched as the U.S. unemployment rate fell lower and lower and waited for the jump in inflation typically associated with such a tight labor market. The expectations were based on a rule that has shaped decades of monetary policy decisions: the Phillips curve, or the concept that inflation tends to rise when the unemployment rate falls, and vice versa. But the inflation that Fed officials anticipated never arrived, and in a monumental speech delivered on Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the U.S. central bank’s policymakers are done waiting.

The Fed chief, speaking during the Kansas City Fed’s annual conference, unveiled the central bank’s new approach to monetary policy, which puts more emphasis on shortfalls in employment, and less weight on the fear that low unemployment could spark higher inflation. “The conditions in the economy have changed to such an extent that this upwardly sloped relationship between inflation and employment has now changed,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM. “Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.” With its landmark policy shift, the Fed is putting new weight on bolstering the labor market and less on inflation, promising to aim for 2% inflation on average over a period of time rather than using that figure as a hard annual target, as it had done since 2012.

With their new approach, Fed officials are essentially saying they are no longer worried about the unemployment rate falling too low. Now that inflation expectations are anchored at low levels, the economy has room to keep adding jobs. Policymakers can also wait a little longer for the gains to reach the workers on the margins – including Black, Hispanic and low-income workers – who are often the last to reap the benefits of a tight labor market, Powell said. “It is hard to overstate the benefits of sustaining a strong labor market, a key national goal that will require a range of policies in addition to supportive monetary policy,” Powell said on Thursday, reflecting on the strong U.S. labor market that existed before the pandemic.

Read more …

h/t Steve Keen.

Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)

There’s a lot we’ve forgotten about Robert Menzies. Take his name, for example. Younger Australians may not know it, but our country’s longest-serving prime minister, one of the founders of the Liberal Party, was nicknamed “Ming”. He was our first prime minister to have two Australian-born parents, but his paternal grandfather was Scottish and he was proud of that heritage. He preferred his surname to be pronounced the way the Scots pronounce it — Ming-iss — but his attempts to convince his countrymen to do so were in vain. He received the nickname “Ming” instead. Then there was his time as prime minister, when he boasted about delivering a bigger budget deficit than Labor would have, for the good of the country. That’s right.

The father of Australia’s Liberal Party was proud of spending whatever was necessary to ensure full employment, even when the economy wasn’t in recession. A speech Mr Menzies gave in August 1962 about his budget that year is worth reading. He’d won the federal election eight months earlier, defeating the Labor opposition led by Arthur Calwell. During the campaign, Mr Calwell promised to deliver a deficit large enough to eradicate unemployment, and he figured that meant a deficit of 100 million pounds. Here’s Mr Menzies explaining why he was spending more than Labor pledged. “Too few people realise that a cash deficit of 120 million [pounds] … will of itself have a most expansionary effect,” he said.

“We shall pay out to the citizens 120 million [pounds] more than will be collected from them. “So, far from being timorous — I think that was another of the words used by the deputy leader of the opposition — this is adventurous finance. “Add to the deficit the tax refunds now being made, and it is clear that purchasing power in Australia this financial year will be uncommonly high. “The real task of any government today, as well as of the business community and all sensible citizens, is to get that purchasing power exercised.” It was uncomplicated Keynesian logic. As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1933: “Look after the unemployment, and the budget will look after itself.”

[..] Mr Menzies’ second stint as prime minister lasted from 1949 to 1966. For his last nine budgets he delivered deficits, and the size of his last deficit, at 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), was 0.3 per cent larger than the deficit in Wayne Swan’s last budget in 2013. So why wasn’t the public angry? Because Australia’s economy, like economies in other western nations, grew strongly in the post-war period. In the 1940s, its average growth rate was 3.8 per cent. In the 1950s, it was 4.2 per cent. In the 1960s, it was 5.3 per cent. And that constant growth meant the size of Australia’s government debt relative to the size of the economy (the ratio of debt-to-GDP) shrank dramatically, too. All while the government was handing down budget deficits.

Read more …

How much extra attention because of Banksy’s involvement?

Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)

Some 50 people were evacuated from the migrant rescue boat Louise Michel that got stranded off Malta’s coast after taking more than 200 people aboard. After one person died, the crew accused Europe of ignoring its pleas for help. The vessel, which reported rescuing a total of 219 people from the sea over the past few days, including “many women and children,” had become so “overcrowded” that a life raft was attached to its side, and it lost its ability to maneuver. The crew’s Twitter feed suggests they have been desperately sending distress signals and making calls to various European maritime authorities to no avail. To make the matters worse, one of the migrants died on the ship as conditions deteriorated.

“Louise Michel is unable to move … above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance,” a tweet from the crew read. Following about a day of pleas for help, Italy’s coast guard arrived at the scene and took 49 of “the most vulnerable” migrants in. While describing the development as “great,” the Louise Michel crew said it leaves the majority “still waiting.” It added that another NGO migrant rescue ship, Sea Watch 4, arrived to “do what Europe falters to do.” Photos and videos apparently taken on board the vessel – a 31-meter motor yacht once owned by French customs authorities, now named after a French anarchist – show it is extremely crowded with people who are cooped up literally everywhere, from the foredeck to the aft and even on top of the captain’s bridge.

[..] Painted in white and bright pink and featuring a Banksy artwork of a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped flotation device, Louise Michel is said to have set sail in secrecy from a Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia. The first post in its Twitter account appeared about a week after what was called its first successful mission. The ship, flying a German flag, is captained by Pia Klemp, a controversial German boat captain credited with rescuing more than 1,000 North African migrants between 2011 and 2017. The woman was charged with colluding with human smugglers by the Italian authorities in 2019 and defiantly snubbed Paris’ highest civilian award months later.

[..] Reports claim that Klemp was personally contacted by the artist as early as in September 2019 and was offered assistance with buying a new boat. She told the Guardian that she sees the effort as “part of anti-fascist fight,” while adding that Banksy’s involvement in the project is limited to financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” she said.

Read more …

And you thought your “leaders” were incompetent.

Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

Frustrated airlines continuing to fly into Australia are warning it will take six months to repatriate more than 100,000 Australians stuck overseas if the country’s strict arrival caps are not eased. Pressure is also mounting within government ranks to address the growing number of Australians stranded by the caps, with Coalition MPs complaining the limits are “probably the biggest area of concern” raised with them by constituents currently, who claim airlines are repeatedly bumping them off flights to prioritise more expensive tickets and remain profitable under the caps. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, on Friday criticised the government’s position of recommending those affected by the caps rely on early super withdrawals to fund what could be an indefinite period away from their jobs, families and secure accommodation.

“The government should be offering financial support to stranded Australians who need it. People shouldn’t be forced to raid their super or launch a GoFundMe fundraiser in order to return home,” she said, noting earlier reports that consular staff had told Australians to start crowdfunding sites to sustain living costs and business class flights. Wong said she had been contacted by a pensioner forced to sleep in a car in France because his flight had been cancelled and he couldn’t get a refund. Wong also criticised the government for recent travel exit exemptions – including allowing Tony Abbott to fly to the UK, and an entrepreneur to collect a yacht in Italy – calling it “special treatment for the privileged few” with “everyone else being left behind”.

Qatar Airways on Friday announced it had suspended sales of tickets into Australia until the caps are lifted, and said it will have to cancel the tickets of “thousands” more Australian citizens who are currently scheduled to fly home with the carrier in the coming months. The airline has acknowledged it has been forced to prioritise customers who pay more for tickets after reports its aircraft were landing in Sydney with as few as four economy passengers. The Guardian has been inundated by stories of Australians who have been forced to live in caravans for months, exhaust all their paid leave, and forgo seeing dying parents in Australia while they wait for airlines to honour their economy flights home.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

If Greece and Turkey go to war, it’s over this:

 

 

Long time favorite. Possibly the ultimate Calvin and Hobbes:

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.