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.

 

Aug 282020
 
 August 28, 2020  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Frans Hals Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer 1626 (stolen 3rd time yesterday)

 

Pelosi Says There Shouldn’t Be Any Debates Between Biden And Trump (Hill)
Trump Denounces Riots, Cancel Culture, Failed Political Class In Speech (RT)
61 Million Americans Have Stopped Commuting (ZH)
WHO Skips Wuhan During China Trip; “Sat In Beijing For Three Weeks” (ZH)
US Imposes Sanctions On Russian Institute That Developed COVID19 Vaccine (GZ)
Germany Imposes Fine For All Non-Mask Wearers In New National Crackdown (ZH)
The Fed Policies Have Become Part Of The Problem (ZH)
Subprime Mortgages Fall Massively Delinquent (WS)
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Longest-Serving PM, Resigns Due To Health Issues (RT)
Laura Ravages Louisiana Coast With Wind Speeds Not Seen In A Century (Hill)

 

 

260,000 reads for yesterday’s Are The Tables Starting To Turn? on Zero Hedge alone so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy’s 80, and she’s losing again, in her final battle. When saying things like this, she will be seen by many people as a sore loser. Not by those who follow her anyway and anywhere, but by the undecideds. The polls say her party is losing those people. And she’s right, Biden will be hammered, but running away is not a viable option.

Most of all, if you ask me, Biden and Pelosi just look like very old and bitter people. Look at Biden!

Pelosi Says There Shouldn’t Be Any Debates Between Biden And Trump (Hill)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she doesn’t think there should be any presidential debates ahead of the November election, arguing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden shouldn’t “legitimize” a discussion with President Trump.“I don’t think that there should be any debates,” Pelosi told reporters. “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts.”“I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she added.


“I think that he’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency,” she said, citing what she called his “disgraceful” actions during the 2016 debates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “He does that every day,” she added. “But I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about.” Instead, Pelosi proposed that the candidates take separate stages and answer questions about their policies in a “conversation with the American people” instead of “an exercise in skulduggery.” But she acknowledged that the Biden campaign “thinks in a different way about this.”

Read more …

Take from RT. I’m pretty sure CNN’s take is slightly different.

Trump Denounces Riots, Cancel Culture, Failed Political Class In Speech (RT)

Speaking at the finale of the Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump doubled down on American exceptionalism and once again painted himself as an outsider fighting the Democrats and the entrenched establishment. The speech went on for over an hour, much longer than Joe Biden’s address a week ago at the Democratic convention. But whereas Biden spoke in an empty auditorium in Milwaukee, Trump spoke outside the White House, in the wilting heat of late summer in Washington, DC – and in front of more than a thousand people. In the absence of a formal party platform, Trump defined the Republican position for 2020 as undoing the damage done by the establishment; defending law and order from mobs and anarchy; fighting ‘cancel culture’ and making American great(er) again.

Though the tone of it was uneven – at times a campaign rally, at other times sounding like a State of the Union – and Trump was visibly running out of steam by the end, the underlying message was crystal clear. Time and again, Trump hammered Biden and the Democrats on the difference between their accomplishments during decades in power, and his over just one term. “We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years.” Trump painted Biden and the Democrats as globalists beholden to China economically, destroying American jobs and industries, opening the borders and starting endless foreign wars – which he was trying to end.

“How can Joe Biden claim to be an ally of the light, when his own party can’t even keep the lights on?” Trump joked, bringing up last week’s power outages in California – but it was also a dig at the theme of Biden’s speech last week, and the efforts by the media to accuse Republicans of being “dark and divisive.” “At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump said. “This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.” Democrats, Trump argued, see America as a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins, with giving them power as the only path to redemption. Yet Republicans – and most Americans, he argued – look to god for salvation, not politicians.

[..] Throughout, Trump cast himself as the outsider who left behind his comfortable life to battle the “failed political class” in Washington. He has done so with mixed success, dealing with brutal political intrigue, hostile media, endless lawfare, congressional gridlock, the ‘Russiagate’ probe and even an impeachment. But as he himself quipped, pointing to the White House, “we’re here and they’re not.” Even after four years of that, and an hour in the brutal heat of an August evening, Trump seemed ready, even eager, for more. Democrats may have believed the media and the polls to think this election was in the bag, but it isn’t – not by a long shot.

Read more …

I’m trying! I am! I’m trying to feel stupid for thinking that it’s great we finally found a way to make people NOT drive a car an hour+ every day that is 20x their weight and uses less than 10% of the energy effectively that moves it forward. I’m trying to feel stupid because, I know, the economy!

61 Million Americans Have Stopped Commuting (ZH)

A new survey from ValuePenguin.com, commissioned by LendingTree, found 61 million Americans have stopped commuting to work due to the virus-induced recession. The reduction of motor vehicles on highways will result in deep economic scarring across the entire economy. “The coronavirus has upended nearly every aspect of life in the United States, and Americans’ driving behavior and commutes are no exception. ValuePenguin surveyed drivers to see how their habits have changed. We found a large number of drivers are no longer commuting to the office, whether because they are working from home or have lost employment due to COVID-19.” -ValuePenguin. The survey found three in 10 respondents with motor vehicles are no longer making the daily commute to work in a post-COVID-19 world:


“About three in 10 consumers with a motor vehicle said they no longer have a commute due to COVID-19, either because they’re working from home (19%) or they temporarily or permanently lost their jobs (10%). On the other hand, 26% are back to their daily commute as of August, including essential workers (17%) and those whose employers reopened their offices (9%). (The remainder don’t have commutes either because they worked from home prior to the pandemic, or they were not working prior to the pandemic.)” -ValuePenguin [..] The decline in travel has resulted in respondents making fewer trips to the gas pump. Almost a third said they’re driving every day, compared to 50% of drivers pre-pandemic. The number of respondents who fill up their tanks every week dropped by 26% in August versus before the pandemic.

Read more …

Can we close them down now, finally? I get the point behind having a global health organization, but this is not that point. The WHO should have loudly denounced not being able to access Wuhan a long time ago.

WHO Skips Wuhan During China Trip; “Sat In Beijing For Three Weeks” (ZH)

A delegation from the World Health Organization tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19 failed to go to Wuhan, China – ‘ground zero’ for the pandemic, and instead “sat in Beijing for three weeks” according to a senior US official, who told the Financial Times that Western governments are skeptical over China’s commitment to identifying the origins of the pandemic. “Any chance of finding a smoking gun is now gone,” the official continued. Though we’re not sure what any team of investigators would find after China blocked international epidemiologists for eight months after the outbreak began. Australian MP Dave Sharma told the Times: “The international community is right to have serious concerns about the rigour and independence of the WHO’s early response to this pandemic, and its seeming wish to avoid offending China.

“If this allegation is proven, it is another disturbing incident of the WHO — which is charged with safeguarding global public health — putting the political sensitivities of a member state above the public health interests of the world, in the critical early stages of this pandemic. We are all now bearing the immense costs of such a policy.” The WHO, meanwhile, says that the three-week visit was ‘merely laying the groundwork in advance of a full international mission,’ but gave no indication when this might happen. “After initially bristling at calls from Australia, the US and other countries for a probe into the outbreak, which has claimed more than 800,000 lives, Chinese president Xi Jinping in May endorsed a WHO-led inquiry.

But the WHO resolution “to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population” — which was backed by more than 130 countries — has been dogged by concerns over transparency and access.” -Financial Times. “A two-person WHO team has recently concluded its three-week assignment in China to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the source of the virus. This was in advance of the full mission, therefore, there are no ‘results of the WHO’s recent mission’ to share.”” said the UN agency in a statement last week.

Read more …

Like Russia cares. But shouldn’t we seek cooperation in things like this?

US Imposes Sanctions On Russian Institute That Developed COVID19 Vaccine (GZ)

The Russian government announced this August that it had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V. Sputnik V was developed by the Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. This scientific facility created the vaccine in a joint research project with the Russian Defense Ministry’s 48th Central Research Institute. On August 27, the US Commerce Department imposed sanctions on Russia’s 48th Central Research Institute, blacklisting the scientific body. While Russia took a state-led approach to create a coronavirus vaccine, the Trump administration announced a “public-private partnership” in May.


The program, called “Operation Warp Speed,” saw the US government dole out billions of tax dollars to Big Pharma companies. The Trump administration awarded massive contracts to private corporations like Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna, while Trump reportedly offered “large sums of money” for exclusive rights to a vaccine being developed by a German firm so it could be sold for profit. But the US public-private partnership was unable to develop a vaccine before foreign countries with government-led research efforts did. Besides Russia, a state-owned Chinese company says its vaccine will be ready by the end of 2020, while Cuba is doing clinical trials for a vaccine of its own.

Read more …

It would really help to know what this mask mandate entails. Does it include people outside? In their own homes? These are important details.

Germany Imposes Fine For All Non-Mask Wearers In New National Crackdown (ZH)

It should surprise nobody that this happens first within the EU. While much of the world takes to mask-wearing more out of a social and health consciousness “most people are on board” type attitude, the government of Germany has announced fines as punishment for people not wearing them. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced during a virtual meeting Thursday with state governors that almost the entire country will be under a 50 euros minimum ($59) fine for breaching the national mask mandate. After the meeting it was announced that all federal states except the east’s Saxony-Anhalt agreed on setting a minimum fine. In her comments Merkel also urged Germans to stay home “wherever it is possible” and avoid traveling to “hot spots” like the United States. Berlin also agreed to impose a strict limiting on gatherings.


Not only have many major public events been canceled outright, but police are enforcing a ban on private parties of more than 25 persons. Large public events will not return until 2021. The new stringent measures including the mask fines go into effect by the end of the day Thursday. This also as most German schools are now back in session, though there’s been a handful of closures due to new coronavirus cases. It’s part of a broader initiative proposed by German health officials to crackdown on people flouting social distancing measures amid the pandemic, even though in recent weeks authorities say coronavirus clusters are due mainly to incoming vacationers. Germany’s confirmed COVID-19 numbers have been on the whole relatively low compared to other Western nations, at about 240,000 out of a population of 83 million.

Read more …

You sure it shouldn’t read they ARE the problem?

The Fed Policies Have Become Part Of The Problem (ZH)

In one of the most overt criticism of the Fed we have read to date, [Rabobank’s Philip] Marey writes that “while the Fed’s step to make the inflation target “more” symmetric may benefit the wages of the average American somewhere beyond 2022, it does not really address the deeper problem with the role the Fed is playing in the US economy. It could be argued that the Fed’s policies have become part of the problem, instead of the solution.” And, as the Rabobank strategist suggests, “at least this should be a topic for debate in the FOMC, instead of talking a whole year about whether to use an average or not.”

To this all we would add is that the Fed should take a long, hard look at its prefered metric of core PCE: as we have repeatedly explained in recent years, the Fed continues to purposefully undercount inflation, and on top of that, it now has openly said it will disregard the politically palatable core PCE/CPI number just so it can continue blowing an asset bubble of epic proportions. It was Marey’s conclusion however that was the piece de resistance:

“The much deeper problem for the US economy is the asymmetric impact of Fed policies on households and businesses. The Fed’s monetary and regulatory policies have contributed to a form of capitalism where the rewards are going to the 1% and the risks are borne by the 99%. The current crisis response has made it painfully clear again that the Fed’s policies benefit high income individuals and large corporations, while small businesses and low income individuals bear the burden. While the Fed likes to see itself as part of the solution to America’s economic problems, it should ask itself whether it is also part of these problems.”

Read more …

The amounts of leverage everywhere in the system makes a price decline of 10-20% an absolute catastrophy.

Subprime Mortgages Fall Massively Delinquent (WS)

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) prides itself in insuring subprime mortgages with, as it says, “low down payments,” “low closing costs,” and “easy credit qualifying” – all true. Of its active portfolio of 8 million mortgages that it insures, 17% were delinquent in July, the highest rate in FHA history. In many metros, the delinquency rates of FHA mortgages are above 20%; and in two metros, the delinquency rates exceed 27%. The delinquency rates include mortgages that were delinquent and then entered a forbearance agreement with the lender, where the lender agreed to not pursue its rights due to nonpayment of the mortgage.

During the term of forbearance – six months, under the CARES Act, extendable by another six months – the borrower isn’t making payments, but the missed interest and principal payments are added to the mortgage balance and will need to be paid somehow. A FICO credit score below 620 is considered “subprime.” The FHA insures mortgages of borrowers with credit scores well below that. • If the borrower has a credit score of at least 580, the FHA will accept down payments of only 3.5%. • If the FICO score is below 580, no problem, but then down payment is 10%. Many of the people whose mortgages the FHA insures have lost their jobs or had had their hours or work reduced. In terms of the lenders, the good thing is that they don’t carry the risk. The FHA and thereby the taxpayer carry the risk.

In terms of the taxpayer, the good thing is that home prices have risen in many markets in recent years, and are rising there right now, and that many fallen-behind homeowners can sell their home and pay off the defaulted mortgage with the proceeds from the sale, and maybe have a little cash left over. And if the home goes into foreclosure because the proceeds wouldn’t have been enough to pay off the mortgage, the losses would be relatively small. The widespread home price declines that occurred during the subprime crisis of Housing Bust have not happened yet. And that’s why at the moment no one is panicking about these sky-high delinquency rates. But when millions of homeowners cannot make the mortgage payments and have to put these millions of homes on the market – forced sellers – they trigger a sudden surge of supply of homes for sale, and the entire supply-and-demand equation, and thereby the pricing environment, are going to change.

Read more …

No more Abenomics would be a plus.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Longest-Serving PM, Resigns Due To Health Issues (RT)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who led Japan for eight consecutive years, has said he is stepping down hours after he informed his ruling coalition that he was suffering from health issues. Explaining his decision earlier in the day, Shinzo Abe said he feared the illness would affect his decision-making. “I will not be able to make proper judgments due to illness,” the outgoing premier clarified, as quoted by Kyodo news agency. Abe has been suffering from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory chronic disease, for many years. The prime minister himself revealed that his condition started to worsen around the middle of the last month, possibly prompting him to consider stepping down.


Moving on, Abe apologized “from the bottom of my heart” to his fellow countrymen, adding that he didn’t want his resignation to cause trouble for Japan’s domestic politics. With his eyes getting misty, the prime minister said it is now up to the Japanese to judge his legacy. He noted that his administration had created four million jobs while keeping the economy going. Meanwhile, local media reported that he will continue to serve as prime minister until a new leader is chosen, thus avoiding the need to appoint an acting premier. Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is reportedly set to arrange a leadership election next Thursday.

Read more …

Seems to have been okay so far?!

Laura Ravages Louisiana Coast With Wind Speeds Not Seen In A Century (Hill)

Hurricane Laura made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane early Thursday morning packing 150 mile-per-hour winds and bringing a storm surge with the potential to inundate coastal areas of western Louisiana to the Texas border with up to 20 feet of water. Laura made landfall around 1 a.m. near Cameron, La. The 400-person community is more than 30 miles east of the Texas border. Around 7 a.m. CDT, the storm was centered near Leesville, La., roughly 100 miles north of the Gulf Coast. The storm ties with a hurricane from more than 160 years ago as the strongest storm to hit the region. A hurricane called “Last Island” made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds in 1856, according to CNN.


Laura weakened to a Category 2 hurricane after making landfall but still packs sustained winds of more than 100 mph and will continue to produce heavy rain and flash flooding that are not expected to recede for several days. Government officials had warned people to find safety and get out of harm’s way as the storm approached. More 500,000 people in the storm’s path in coastal Texas and Louisiana were under evacuation orders, although as many as 150 people in Cameron Parish, where the hurricane came ashore, ignored the orders and were unreachable as of Thursday morning, according to The Associated Press. “This is a time for all of us to be praying for the best, while we’re prepared for the worst. God bless you and your families,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) tweeted just before the storm made landfall.

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.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 252020
 


Robert Capa Model wearing Dior on the banks of the Seine, Paris 1948

 

Pelosi Calls Republicans ‘Domestic Enemies Of The State’ (ZH)
UK Lockdown Was A ‘Monumental Mistake’ And Must Not Happen Again (Exp.)
Let’s Follow the History of Science Instead (AIER)
New York University To Implement Racial Segregation In Student Dorms (WSWS)
Is The Euro Living On Borrowed Time? (Brown)
Powell Set To Deliver Speech Changing How The Fed Views Inflation (CNBC)
Exxon Mobil Dropped From The Dow After Nearly A Century (CBS)
1 In 3 Cars Worldwide Is Produced In China (ZH)
Greece, Turkey Heading For New Crisis (K.)
Biblical Travails (Jim Kunstler)
UN World Food Program Seeks To Prevent ‘Famine Of Biblical Proportions’ (ZH)

 

 

Calling your political opponents “enemies of the state” is not done even in 2020 America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Way over the line. There are still things you can’t say even in the 2020 US.

And you thought Biden was dementing…

Nancy, you’re 80. Call it a day.

Pelosi Calls Republicans ‘Domestic Enemies Of The State’ (ZH)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) raged against President Trump and Congressional Republicans on Monday, telling MSNBC that they’re “domestic enemies” of election integrity and “enemies of the state.” Pelosi was speaking right after President Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, according to the Daily Caller. “We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And sadly, the domestic enemies to our voting system and honoring our Constitution are right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their allies in the Congress of the United States. But again, let’s just get out there and mobilize, organize, and not let the President deter anybody from voting. And again, support the postal system which is election central,” said the 80-year-old Democrat. “They’re doing everything they can; suppress the vote — with your actions, scare people, intimidate by saying law enforcement will be there, diminish the role of the postal system in all of this. It’s really actually shameful. Enemies of the state,” she continued.

Read more …

Perhaps this guy means well, but to conclude from the UK’s botched version of a lockdown that NO lockdown can work, takes away all his credibility. Phrasing matters.

And besides, buddy, you’re the government advisor here. Own it.

UK Lockdown Was A ‘Monumental Mistake’ And Must Not Happen Again (Exp.)

Lockdown will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”. But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”. The professor of infectious disease epidemiology said that the Government must now focus on increasing testing and striving to unlock society safely rather than restricting it further.

Prof Woolhouse OBE, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours that advises the Government, said: “Lockdown was a panic measure and I believe history will say trying to control Covid-19 through lockdown was a monumental mistake on a global scale, the cure was worse than the disease. “I never want to see national lockdown again. It was always a temporary measure that simply delayed the stage of the epidemic we see now. It was never going to change anything fundamentally, however low we drove down the number of cases, and now we know more about the virus and how to track it we should not be in this position again.

“We absolutely should never return to a position where children cannot play or go to school. “I believe the harm lockdown is doing to our education, health care access, and broader aspects of our economy and society will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by Covid-19.” He said that Sage, the government’s advisory board on dealing with Covid, needed to have members from a wider range of fields.

Read more …

And here’s another genius: “..our descendants will mock us for believing masks slowed viral transmission.”

No they won’t, unless they’re as stupid as he is. Lockdowns and facemasks prevent transmission, no science is more basic than that. But you do have to use them wisely.

If you send people out into the street with mandatory masks on, then yes, they don’t prevent anything. Because there is no risk of infection there. But put them in a cramped room for a period of time, and they are very effective.

What is it with these people, is it all just about hearing their own voices, credibility be damned? Some virus got to their brains?

I’m seriously starting to wonder where the virus causes the most damage. And it doesn’t appear to be either in care homes or classrooms, but in much smaller spaces.

Let’s Follow the History of Science Instead (AIER)

Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden is only the most high-profile politician to promise voters that he will “listen to the scientists,” mandate masks, and shut down the economy again if they so advise. Even the humble members of the city council of Milledgeville, Georgia invoke “science” in four pages of “whereas-es” designed to justify a largely toothless mask mandate that directly contradicts a Georgia law against wearing masks in public (except for certain holidays, presumably to deter real crime) and the enforcement of which in some places in the city of 50,000 apparently hinges on the font size of a door notice. Strange times indeed, these. One wonders why we need to elect politicians at all if they will simply defer to “the” scientists. Ah, but there be the rub. Which scientists? They don’t agree on much, especially when it comes to the novel coronavirus and masks and such.


Should we listen only to “the” scientists on the government payroll? But then wouldn’t they essentially be unelected, unaccountable dictators? That sounds vaguely undemocratic. Sticky, this wicket! Plus, last time I checked, “the” scientists have no policy expertise in economics. Perhaps that does not matter as many economists also have no policy expertise in economics. Is that the role of politicians, then? To decide which type of scientists get to dictate in different policy areas? Perhaps Biden will listen to “the” economists on spaceship design or military tactics? I would pay good money to see that! (Seriously, it would be a horribly expensive boondoggle certain to raise my taxes.) Why is it so important to “listen to the scientists” anyway? Are they suddenly less fallible than previously? Is there any science to support that belief? Because let’s face it, “the” scientists have a pretty poor track record overall.

Read more …

I’m afraid I simply don’t understand the reasoning. Black students don’t want to explain about racism? But isn’t that sort of the whole point?

New York University To Implement Racial Segregation In Student Dorms (WSWS)

Since late June, the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services at New York University (NYU) has been working closely with a small, student-led task force to make racially segregated housing a reality in undergraduate student dorms. On July 20, Washington Square News, the weekly undergraduate student newspaper of NYU, published an article titled “Student-Led Task Force Calls for Black Housing on Campus,” in which it reported on the university’s willingness to help implement residential communities open solely to “Black-identifying students with Black Resident Assistants.” Since then, the university has officially given the project a green light, aiming to have NYU’s first segregated residential floor established by Fall 2021.

A little over two months ago, a recently organized advocacy group called Black Violets created an online petition demanding that the university “implement Black student housing on campus in the vein of themed engagement floors across first-year and upperclassmen residence halls.” In its petition, the group argues that “Too often in the classroom and in residential life, black students bear the brunt of educating their uninformed peers about racism.” African American students, the group states, desperately require a “safe space” where they can escape from students, staff and faculty of other races. There are over 20 Themed Engagement Communities at NYU, with themes ranging from film, literature and theater to technology, science and foreign languages. All floors are open to all students, who request residency on a specific floor prior to the start of the academic year.

The approval of a Themed Engagement Community open to students based on their race is new at NYU. However, it is not the first time that the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services has considered such a proposal. In 2002, an NYU senior submitted a plan to develop race-based housing for African American students, claiming that “such a housing program would unite African American students on campus” and better combat racial discrimination. This proposal was eventually rejected by the university after a brief review and discussion.

Now, despite signs of minimal support from the undergraduate student body—the online petition has garnered a mere 1,105 signatures out of the 26,733 total undergraduates currently studying at NYU—the proposal for race-based housing has been warmly welcomed by the university administration. There is nothing progressive about the establishment of racially segregated housing at NYU. It is irrelevant whether the segregation being implemented is voluntary or mandatory. Racial segregation, in all forms, is entirely reactionary. The vile argument advanced in the proposal is that all non-African American students, staff and faculty are, to varying degrees, hostile and dangerous to African American students. Their animosity stems from an inherent antipathy towards individuals of different races.

Read more …

“Investors” gamble on gold, they gamble on the euro. And they feel confident they’ll be able to get out on time. Basic, really. Pump trillions into “markets” and this is what happens.

Is The Euro Living On Borrowed Time? (Brown)

Given the way the euro has been rallying in the foreign exchange markets over the past three months, you would be forgiven for thinking the currency has become a beacon of stability in uncertain times. You couldn’t be further from the truth. The rebound in the euro is simply the flip side of the US dollar being undermined by growing uncertainty about the upcoming US presidential election in November and how the US authorities are coping with the coronavirus crisis. Global investors are simply taking time out from long dollar exposures, and euro bulls are simply filling a temporary void. It won’t last long. The euro is living on borrowed time and the deepening monetary muddle in Europe won’t help the currency once the dust settles on the US elections.

The euro looks overvalued and a prime target for an ambush later this year. Europe’s monetary pacesetter, the European Central Bank, seems to be fighting a losing battle, struggling to keep the European economy from slipping into a deeper recession. The more policy stimulus the ECB throws into the ring, the greater the damage to its monetary reputation, and to little avail so far. Despite close to 3 trillion euros of assets purchased so far under the ECB’s quantitative easing programme and interest rates steeped in negative territory, the economy of Europe is showing precious few signs of a return to normality. Europe’s three biggest economies, Germany, France and Italy, are all stuck in recession with little chance of output reaching pre-pandemic levels until 2022. Rumblings about throwing too much good money after bad are no surprise. The ECB’s defence is that it has no alternative, otherwise Europe might suffer an even worse fate.

Germany has given up the ghost on trying to control the ECB’s monetary excesses. There seems to be a palpable sense of “if you can’t beat them, join them” for the sake of presenting a united front and avoiding a damaging public row. In the pre-euro days, tough Bundesbank policies and the strong Deutschmark were solid anchors of the European monetary system, implacable yardsticks which helped other European countries govern their own performances. [..] The worry for markets is that the triple-A-rated ECB’s vaults are bursting with a surfeit of lower-quality debt from nations like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland, countries which have required support in times of market stress in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. Like in the US subprime crisis, it’s fine while the charade lasts, but once confidence begins to wobble, that is where the danger lies.

Read more …

The Fed is going to try its hand at Abanomics?! Didn’t work for Japan. Remember, to raise inflation you need to raise the velocity of money. Which today meanns you have to raise the velocity of trillions of added dollars. Good luck with that.

Powell Set To Deliver Speech Changing How The Fed Views Inflation (CNBC)

History will remember Paul Volcker and Jerome Powell as standing on the opposite ends of the inflation canyon, with the former taking desperate actions to try to tamp it down and the latter expected this week to announce an unprecedented effort to crank it back up. Volcker, the Federal Reserve chairman from 1979-87, ushered through a series of inflation-busting interest rate hikes that dragged the country into recession but won the fight against pricing pressures and spurred a powerful economic recovery. Powell, the central bank chief since 2018, is likely to detail a set of measures aimed at pushing inflation higher amid a coronavirus pandemic that has dragged the U.S. economy into one of its darkest hours.

While the average consumer might find it absurd to want to raise the cost of living, central bankers and economists see too little inflation also as a problem. It often reflects a slow-moving economy with a low standard of living. On top of that, the accompanying low interest rates give policymakers little wiggle room when crises happen and there’s a need to loosen policy. That’s why Powell, who will speak Thursday during a virtual version of the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conference, will outline what could be the central bank’s most active efforts ever to spur inflation back to a healthy level. The speech is titled “Monetary Policy Framework Review” and wraps up a yearlong examination both among central bank officials and with the public, during a series of open events, on what policy should look like in the future.

“The expectations are pretty high to get something meaningful on Thursday,” said Tom Graff, head of fixed income at Brown Advisory. “This is probably a historic speech.” One phrase Powell is likely to use is “average inflation” targeting. Simply, it means that the Fed, which has pegged 2% as a healthy level, will let inflation run higher than that for a while if it has spent a considerable time beneath that level. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge has stayed below that level for all but two years since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009. It’s a mirror-image reversal of Volcker’s inflation-busting and sets the stage for a pivotal policy move.

Read more …

“In the 1980s, energy companies made up as much as a quarter of the Dow. After Exxon’s exits on Monday, energy will account for just 2% of the index.”

Exxon Mobil Dropped From The Dow After Nearly A Century (CBS)

Exxon Mobil, which joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1928, is being removed from the blue-chip stock market index. Its replacement: enterprise software company Salesforce.com. Also leaving the index are drug company Pfizer and airplane and defense contractor Raytheon Technologies. They are being replaced by biotech Amgen and manufacturing conglomerate Honeywell. S&P Dow Jones Indices, the company that administers the index, announced the changes, which will take place August 31, on Monday. The index provider said the changes were necessary to make up for Apple’s impending stock split, which becomes effective the same day.

The Dow Jones is a stock-price-weighed index. Apple’s stock split, which will take the company’s shares to roughly $120, from $500, would have cut the Dow’s exposure to the technology sector. Monday’s changes would also help the Dow “add new types of businesses that better reflect the American economy,” the index company said. Energy giant Exxon Mobil joined the Dow 92 years ago as Standard Oil of New Jersey, and it’s the oldest member of the index. The Dow’s last original member, General Electric, was removed in 2018. Exxon Mobil was the most valuable company in the United States for much of the early 2000s and as recently as 2011, when it hit a market value of just over $400 billion. Apple overtook Exxon in 2012, and much of the technology sector followed.

Earlier this month, Apple’s market value topped $2 trillion, making it the first U.S. company to reach that milestone. Meanwhile, Exxon’s market value has sunk to $175 billion. The company has been plagued in part by claims that it deliberately concealed the damage that the oil it has long extracted and refined into gasoline was doing to the planet. [..] In the 1980s, energy companies made up as much as a quarter of the Dow. After Exxon’s exits on Monday, energy will account for just 2% of the index.

Read more …

A loss of 40% in 5 years. Wow.

1 In 3 Cars Worldwide Is Produced In China (ZH)

Almost one in three – or 32 percent – of all cars produced worldwide in 2019 came out of China. As shown in numbers by the automobile manufacturers’ association OICA, the world manufactures less cars than it did in 2014, but, as Statista’s Katharina Buchholz notes, several Asian markets actually were able to grow their production volumes. India exhibited one of the biggest increases – almost 15 percent in five years to 3.6 million cars annually.


The biggest decrease in production hit the ailing U.S. car industry, which lost 40 percent of its domestic production between 2014 and 2019. Germany also make less cars at home, but German manufacturers like Volkswagen are a part of the rising Chinese production. In 2019, the Chinese market accounted for around 39 percent of Volkswagen’s total sales. Shifting production sites are only one aspect of the internationalization of the car industry. Know-how also migrates with production [..]

Read more …

Erdogan has ever less to lose. His popularity at home is decreasing fast, with the lira in the gutter. Greece’s friends better start raising their voices.

Greece, Turkey Heading For New Crisis (K.)

Just when it seemed that Greece and Turkey were entering a phase of de-escalation, the two countries appeared on Monday to be heading for another crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. The decision by Ankara for an extension of the duration of exploratory activities by the Oruc Reis survey vessel in areas within the Greek continental shelf prompted a response by Athens with Tuesday’s aeronautical exercise that begins on Tuesday at dawn over a large area from the south of Kassos to the south of Kastellorizo. The exercise will take place in areas included in the navigational advisory, or Navtex, issued by Turkey for the Oruc Reis within the Greek continental shelf. The exercise will last until Thursday night.

Turkey’s move to extend the activities of the Oruc Reis essentially raises obstacles to the German mediation effort which continues on Tuesday with visits to both Athens and Ankara by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Meanwhile, tensions were further augmented on Monday night by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who issued direct war threats against Greece, which he said is being “deceived” by other countries into pursuing the course of action it is taking. “When an issue arises in the future, then these forces will disappear and Greece will be left alone,” he said, adding that “from now on, Greece will be responsible for all conflicts in the region and it will be at a disadvantage.” He also described the aeronautical exercise announced by Athens as “useless” and dangerous for navigation.

Shortly before Erdogan’s remarks, Ankara announced new exercises off southern Crete for Tuesday morning, in an area several miles south of the prefecture of Lassithi. The area is located approximately on the borders described in the Turkey-Libya maritime borders memorandum. At the same time, Athens is building a network of important military collaborations, as joint exercises are also expected with French Rafale jets based in Cyprus.

Read more …

Conflicting stories about the violence. Kenosha was a hellhole again last night. At some point, Trump will have to act. And that’s what the Dems are hoping for.

Biblical Travails (Jim Kunstler)

Could the country even stand another full-on political convention after the Democrats’ nauseating extravaganza last week? The nation is so marinated in agitprop, disinfo, and straight-up mendacity that all the intelligence has been leached out of population, perhaps even the will to live. A Republican convention complete with the usual showboating might deplete the remaining oxycontin supply across the land as unemployed millions, mulling over rents overdue and unmet car payments, resort to vodka, Xanax, cough syrup, and airplane glue to quell the pain induced by unbridled political bullshit. As BLM might put it: “Know whum sayin’?

Speaking of BLM, Sunday one Jacob Blake, 29, was apparently shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while getting into a car. The incident inspired a night of BLM rioting and looting in downtown Kenosha, with excellent prospects for violence to spread to other cities. Mr. Blake was hospitalized and survives, so far. He was not complying with police instructions in the process of his arrest. He had been previously arrested in 2015 and charged with brandishing a gun in a barroom. Upon his arrest then, the gun was found on the floor of his car. In the latest incident, Kenosha police were responding to a domestic abuse complaint. There was an active warrant out on Mr. Blake.

Also over the weekend, police in Lafayette, Louisiana, shot and killed 31-year-old Trayford Pellerin outside a convenience store he was entering while brandishing a knife. They had followed him from another convenience store in the vicinity where he “created a disturbance with a knife.” Mr. Pellerin apparently refused to comply with police orders to get on the ground. Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer hired to represent the Pellerin family during the investigation into the shooting, said, “His family believes that he was suffering a mental illness crisis and what he needed was a helping hand. But what he got was what looks like 11 bullets.” His mother told the Associated Press that Mr. Pellerin had sought therapy for social anxiety.

Read more …

A line used so much people have become immune to it.

UN World Food Program Seeks To Prevent ‘Famine Of Biblical Proportions’ (ZH)

While virus cases and deaths dominate headlines, other humanitarian crises also need attention, that is, an emerging “famine of biblical proportions” that threatens much of the world, United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Director David Beasley told TASS News last weekend in an interview. Beasley said the WFP is requesting $5 billion in emergency funds within the next six months that will help in the effort to thwart a global famine. “All the data we have, including WFP’s forecast of an 80% increase in the number of food-insecure people – from 140 million before the pandemic to 270 million by the end of this year – points to a real catastrophe, a famine of biblical proportions, “he said.

The dramatic rise in the number of people who don’t have the means to feed themselves because of depressionary unemployment, supply chain breakdowns, and crop failures is set to cause long-term economic damage that could prevent a vibrant economic recovery. Beasley said, “it is clear that social tensions will escalate, migration will increase, conflicts will expand, and hunger can affect those who have not experienced it before.” Even in the US, a developed world economy, tens of millions of folks have gone hungry, now relying on government aid and food banks for survival. He noted that countries in the 2008 financial crash with a “stronger social protection system” were less impacted by famine.

WFP projections show significant increases in malnourished people in Latin America, countries in Eastern and Central Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, had a doubling of the number of people going hungry in a short period. “World hunger is already sky-high, and if we do not act immediately, many will die, children will suffer the consequences of malnutrition for many years to come, and the whole world will be thrown back, having lost all the gains in the fight against hunger of the last decade. Will be incredibly high, we need to act quickly and wisely, balancing immediate relief and long-term recovery,” Beasley said. He added: “WFP’s mission is to provide food to 138 million people in 2020, the largest humanitarian operation in history. And this unprecedented crisis requires an incredible amount of money.”

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.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 032020
 


W. Eugene Smith Orson Welles 1941

 

Supporters Urge Joe Biden Not to Debate Trump (NW)
Kansas Should Go F— Itself (Matt Taibbi)
How Congress Maintains Endless War (Zuesse)
White House Says Not Optimistic On Near-Term Deal For COVID Relief Bill (R.)
The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In Next Crisis (ZH)
Fed’s Kashkari Suggests 4-6 Week Shutdown (R.)
Tech Stock Buybacks Are Surging (ZH)
America’s Monopoly Problem Goes Way Beyond the Tech Giants (Dayen)
White House Puts Chinese Apps On Notice (SCMP)
Humanity Likely Faces Rapid ‘Catastrophic Collapse’ – Study (NYP)
How The Guardian and New York Times ‘Set Up’ Julian Assange (M.)

 

 

Every single thing about the US will from now on in evolve around party politics. But not in any way that you’ve ever seen.

 

 

Sunday numbers were quite low. But not every state and country reports anymore in the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt Sweden

 

 

They would like that, but debates are a solid tradition. So they’ll try for just the one debate, they’ll try for a format that includes a teleprompter, they’ll try for factcheckers that can interrupt Trump all the time in the same way the House did with Bill Barr.

This piece even implies that Trump beat Hillary only because he was telling lies all the time.

Supporters Urge Joe Biden Not to Debate Trump (NW)

Democratic strategists and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden are urging him not to debate President Donald Trump in the lead-up to Election Day, citing Trump’s publicity stunts and disregard for the rules in 2016. Meanwhile Biden backers, including some conservatives, applauded the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan for cancelling their scheduled debates over COVID-19 concerns. Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart joined several Democratic Party strategists in bluntly advising Biden, “whatever you do, don’t debate Trump.” Speaking on CNN Saturday, Lockhart said Trump shouldn’t be given another platform which will enable him to “repeat lies,” which he said occurred in the 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton.

The Trump campaign has pushed the other way and urged the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which officially oversees the events, to hold even more debates. “We saw in the debates in 2016 Hillary Clinton showed a mastery of the issues, every point she made was more honest and bested Trump,” Lockhart told CNN. “But Trump came out of the debates doing better I think because he just kept repeating the same old lies: ‘we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it,’ ‘we’re going to keep all those Mexican rapists out of the country,’ and ‘we’re going to make great trade deals’ — none of these things have come to pass.” “Giving him that national forum to continue to spout — get him to 21,000 or 22,000 lies — I think just isn’t worth it for the Democrats or for Biden,” Lockhart continued.

Several opinion columns published in recent months have called for an outright cancellation of the debates, describing them — alongside the party conventions — as outdated political rituals designed purely for TV ratings. Longtime Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Zac Petkanas agreed with calls for Biden to back out of any and all debates with Trump in the coming months. As it stands currently, there are three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate scheduled between September 29 and October 22. “Biden shouldn’t feel obligated to throw Trump a lifeline by granting him any debates at all. This is not a normal presidential election and Trump is not a legitimate candidate,” Petkanas tweeted last week, expressing his “opinion that no one asked for.”

Mussolini

Read more …

“The difference today is that enlightened liberals are the ones mouthing this age-old anti-populist catechism.”

Thomas Frank published What’s the Matter with Kansas? in 2004. His new book is The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism.

Kansas Should Go F— Itself (Matt Taibbi)

The new conception of populism, as popularized by historians like Richard Hofstadter, pitted the common run of voters against a growing class of elite-educated managerial professionals, philosopher-kings who set correct policy for the ignorant masses. The model of enlightened government for this new “technocratic” class of “consensus thinkers” was John Kennedy’s “Camelot” cabinet of Experts in Shirtsleeves, with Robert McNamara’s corporatized Pentagon their Shining Bureaucracy on a Hill. This vision of ideal democracy has dominated mainstream press discourse for almost seventy years.

Since the establishment of this template, Frank notes, “virtually everyone who writes on the subject agrees that populism is ‘anti-pluralist,’ by which they mean that it is racist or sexist or discriminatory in some way… Populism’s hatred for ‘the elite,’ meanwhile, is thought to be merely a fig leaf for this ugly intolerance.” Trump and Bernie Sanders both got hit with every cliché described in Frank’s book. Both were depicted as xenophobic, bigoted, emotion-laden, resistant to modernity, susceptible to foreign influence, and captured by “unrealistic” ideas they lacked the expertise to implement. At the conclusion of The People, No, Frank sums up the book’s obvious subtext, seeming almost to apologize for its implications:

“My point here is not to suggest that Trump is a “very stable genius,” as he likes to say, or that he led a genuine populist insurgency; in my opinion, he isn’t and he didn’t. What I mean to show is that the message of anti-populism is the same as ever: the lower orders, it insists, are driven by irrationality, bigotry, authoritarianism, and hate; democracy is a problem because it gives such people a voice. The difference today is that enlightened liberals are the ones mouthing this age-old anti-populist catechism.”

[..] The book’s concept also reflects the Sovietish reality of post-Trump media, which is now dotted with so many perilous taboos that it sometimes seems there’s no way to get audiences to see certain truths except indirectly, or via metaphor. The average blue-state media consumer by 2020 has ingested so much propaganda about Trump (and Sanders, for that matter) that he or she will be almost immune to the damning narratives in this book. Protesting, “But Trump is a racist,” they won’t see the real point – that these furious propaganda campaigns that have been repeated almost word for word dating back to the 1890s are aimed at voters, not politicians.

In the eighties and nineties, TV producers and newspaper editors established the ironclad rule of never showing audiences pictures of urban poverty, unless it was being chased by cops. In the 2010s the press began to cartoonize the “white working class” in a distantly similar way. This began before Trump. As Bernie Sanders told Rolling Stone after the 2016 election, when the small-town American saw himself or herself on TV, it was always “a caricature. Some idiot. Or maybe some criminal, some white working-class guy who has just stabbed three people.”

Read more …

But there’s still only one war party, which sits its fat ass across the aisles.

“Glenn Greenwald gave an hour-long lecture on how America’s billionaires control the U.S. Government..”

How Congress Maintains Endless War (Zuesse)

The Intercept, 9 July 2020 – 2:45: There is “this huge cleavage between how members of Congress present themselves, their imagery and rhetoric and branding, what they present to the voters, on the one hand, and the reality of what they do in the bowels of Congress and the underbelly of Congressional proceedings, on the other. Most of the constituents back in their home districts have no idea what it is that the people they’ve voted for have been doing, and this gap between belief and reality is enormous.” Four crucial military-budget amendments were debated in the House just now, as follows: • to block Trump from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. • to block Trump from withdrawing 10,000 troops from Germany • to limit U.S. assistance to the Sauds’ bombing of Yemen • to require Trump to explain why he wants to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty

On all four issues, the pro-imperialist position prevailed in nearly unanimous votes — overwhelming in both Parties. Dick Cheney’s daughter, Republican Liz Cheney, dominated the debates, though the House of Representatives is now led by Democrats, not Republicans. Greenwald (citing other investigators) documents that the U.S. news-media are in the business of deceiving the voters to believe that there are fundamental differences between the Parties. “The extent to which they clash is wildly exaggerated” by the press (in order to pump up the percentages of Americans who vote, so as to maintain, both domestically and internationally, the lie that America is a democracy — actually represents the interests of the voters).

16:00: The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — which writes the nearly $750B annual Pentagon budget — is the veteran (23 years) House Democrat Adam Smith of Boeing’s Washington State. “The majority of his district are people of color.” He’s “clearly a pro-war hawk” a consistent neoconservative, voted to invade Iraq and all the rest. “This is whom Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have chosen to head the House Armed Services Committee — someone with this record.” He is “the single most influential member of Congress when it comes to shaping military spending.” He was primaried by a progressive Democrat, and the “defense industry opened up their coffers” and enabled Adam Smith to defeat the challenger.

That’s the opening. Greenwald went on, after that, to discuss other key appointees by Nancy Pelosi who are almost as important as Adam Smith is, in shaping the Government’s military budget. They’re all corrupt. And then he went, at further length, to describe the methods of deceiving the voters, such as how these very same Democrats who are actually agents of the billionaires who own the ‘defense’ contractors and the ‘news’ media etc., campaign for Democrats’ votes by emphasizing how evil the Republican Party is on the issues that Democratic Party voters care far more about than they do about America’s destructions of Iraq and Syria and Libya and Honduras and Ukraine, and imposing crushing economic blockades (sanctions) against the residents in Iran, Venezuela and many other lands.

Read more …

We saw this coming from miles away: no better opportunity for both sides to blame the other. Screw the people, it’s about power.

White House Says Not Optimistic On Near-Term Deal For COVID Relief Bill (R.)

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday he was not optimistic on reaching agreement soon on a deal for the next round of legislation to provide relief to Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” Meadows said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” as staff members from both sides were meeting to try to iron out differences over the bill. Democrats were standing in the way of a separate agreement to extend some federal unemployment benefits in the short-term while negotiations continue on an overall relief package, he said. “We continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said. “Hopefully that will change in the coming days.”


Lawmakers and the White House have been unable to reach an accord for a next round of economic relief from a pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 Americans and triggered the sharpest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Both sides said on Saturday they had their most positive talks yet. But there was no sign of movement on the biggest sticking point – $600 per week in extra federal unemployment benefits for Americans that has been a lifeline for millions of jobless Americans and expired on Friday. Asked about efforts to renew the expired emergency federal jobless benefits, Pelosi said, referring to Trump: “He’s the one standing in the way of that.”

Read more …

Because we badly need central bakers to interfere in politics. How far away are we from MMT here?

The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In Next Crisis (ZH)

Over the past decade, the one common theme despite the political upheaval and growing social and geopolitical instability, was that the market would keep marching higher and the Fed would continue injecting liquidity into the system. The second common theme is that despite sparking unprecedented asset price inflation, price as measured across the broader economy (at least using the flawed CPI metric) would remain subdued (as a reminder, the Fed is desperate to ignite broad inflation as that is the only way the countless trillions of excess debt can be eliminated and yet it has so far failed to do so).

The Fed’s failure to reach its inflation target has sparked broad criticism from the economic establishment, even though as we showed in June, deflation is now a direct function of the Fed’s unconventional monetary policies as the lower yields slide, the lower the propensity to spend. In other words, the harder the Fed fights to stimulate inflation, the more deflation and more saving it spurs as a result (incidentally this is not the first time this “discovery” was made, in December we wrote “One Bank Makes A Stunning Discovery – The Fed’s Rate Cuts Are Now Deflationary”). In short, ever since the Fed launched QE and NIRP, it has been making the situation it has been trying to “fix” even worse, all the while blowing a massive asset price bubble.


And having recently accepted that its preferred stimulus pathway has failed to boost the broader economy, the blame has fallen on how monetary policy is intermediated, specifically the way the Fed creates excess reserves which end up at commercial banks instead of “tricking down” all the way to the consumer level. To be in the aftermath of the covid pandemic shutdowns the Fed has tried to short-circuit this process, and in conjunction with the Treasury it has launched “helicopter money” which has resulted in a direct transfer of funds to US corporations via PPP loans, as well as to end consumers via the emergency $600 weekly unemployment benefits which however are set to expire unless renewed by Congress as explained last week, as Democrats and Republicans feud over which fiscal stimulus will be implemented next.

And yet, the lament is that even as the economy was desperately in need of a massive liquidity tsunami, the funds created by the Fed and Treasury (now that the US operates under a quasi-MMT regime) did not make their way to those who need them the most: end consumers. Which is why we read with great interest a Bloomberg interview published on Saturday with two former central bank officials: Simon Potter, who led the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s markets group i.e., he was the head of the Fed’s Plunge Protection Team for years, and Julia Coronado, who spent eight years as an economist for the Fed’s Board of Governors, who are among the innovators brainstorming solutions to what has emerged as the most crucial and difficult problem facing the Fed: get money swiftly to people who need it most in a crisis.


The response was striking: they two propose creating a monetary tool that they call recession insurance bonds, which draw on some of the advances in digital payments, which will be wired instantly to Americans. As Coronado explains the details, Congress would grant the Federal Reserve an additional tool for providing support—say, a percent of GDP [in a lump sum that would be divided equally and distributed] to households in a recession.

Read more …

And while we’re at it, let the Fed regulate the lockdowns too. Such monetary wizards must be good at everything.

Fed’s Kashkari Suggests 4-6 Week Shutdown (R.)

The U.S. economy could benefit if the nation were to “lock down really hard” for four to six weeks, a top Federal Reserve official said on Sunday, adding that Congress can well afford large sums for coronavirus relief efforts. The economy, which in the second quarter suffered its biggest blow since the Great Depression, would be able to mount a robust recovery, but only if the virus were brought under control, Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If we don’t do that and we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies,” Kashkari said.


“That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us.” He said Congress is positioned to spend big on coronavirus relief efforts because the nation’s budget gap can be financed without relying on foreign borrowing, given how much Americans are saving. “Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our jobs, we’re saving a lot more money because we’re not going to restaurants or movie theaters or vacations,” Kashkari said. “That actually means that we have a lot more resources as a country to support those who have been laid off,” he said.

Read more …

When you let this continue, you’re not trying to let the economy recover.

Tech Stock Buybacks Are Surging (ZH)

Two months ago, we showed that contrary to conventional wisdom and corporate reps and warrants that buybacks had effectively been put on hold for the duration of the covid pandemic, not only were companies still repurchasing their shares but it was the tech names – those who have stormed higher since the March lows – that were the biggest culprits. Now, two months after we first revealed Wall Street’s worst kept secret, the Financial Times has also noticed that Corporate America is finding it hard to kick the share buyback habit, even after the US slipped into its worst recession in decades.

While total buybacks are indeed expected to drop this year as the downturn caused by coronavirus saps corporate profits, companies in the S&P 500 that have reported second-quarter earnings so far have reduced the number of their outstanding shares by an average of 0.3 per cent from the previous quarter, according to calculations from Credit Suisse. Furthermore, updates showed that some of the largest US multinationals continued to buy back their own stock or even accelerated stock repurchases and nowhere more so than the tech names we first highlighted at the end of May. Take Google’s parent company Alphabet, which spent $6.9bn on buybacks for the quarter, up 92% from a year prior, the company revealed in its earnings results last Thursday.

Microsoft, the second-largest listed US company, purchased $5.8bn of its own stock in the period, up 25% from a year earlier, and likely among the chief reasons for the stock’s amazing surge. Elsewhere, Biogen spent $2.8bn on buybacks for the period, up 17% from last year, WR Berkley, an insurer, did not buy any of its shares in the second quarter last year, but spent $97m on its stock in the period this year, and Celanese increased its planned buybacks for the year by $500m to $1.5bn in July, after selling its stake in a Japanese joint venture. Of course, the biggest source of buybacks was once again Apple, which repurchased $16BN in the second quarter, down 6% on the period last year, though by far the biggest stock repurchaser among S&P 500 companies in recent years.

Read more …

Preventing monopolies was once one of Washington’s main preoccupations.

America’s Monopoly Problem Goes Way Beyond the Tech Giants (Dayen)

The truth is that, even if Congress somehow decreed the breakup of all four tech giants, the U.S. would still have an astounding number of industries controlled by a tiny number of firms. That’s because the structure of modern capitalism favors companies that operate at once-unimaginable scale, in the absence of a government will to prevent monopolies from forming. Lawmakers and the public should be concerned about the surveillance networks by which Facebook and Google—which dominate the digital-advertising market—track users, build data profiles on them, and serve them customized ads. But millions of rural Americans cannot access the internet to begin with, in part because telecom companies harass, fight, and induce state legislatures to pass laws restricting municipal broadband.

Across America, people send their kids to Starbucks parking lots to piggyback on the wifi and complete their homework. Amazon’s rapidly expanding e-commerce empire—and the potential consequences for Main Streets and municipal tax bases across the country—is definitely worth worrying about. But among the other forces squeezing out small retailers are dollar stores, a market segment dominated by two firms that together have about six times more outlets in America than Walmart. Last summer in Marlinton, West Virginia, I saw a Dollar General right next door to a Family Dollar. Despite the pandemic, Dollar General still plans to open 1,000 new stores in 2020. Software developers who want to sell apps to iPhone users must do so through Apple’s App Store, which spells out rules that they must follow and collects up to 30 percent of sales.

This is little different from the situation of small farmers, who must raise livestock to the exacting specifications of the meatpacking giants and can lose their livelihoods on those companies’ whims. And just as Amazon sometimes undercuts the smaller third-party sellers that use its platform, Big Agriculture competes directly with smaller suppliers; the top four hog firms, which control around two-thirds of the market, typically own farms, slaughterhouses, warehouses, and distribution trucks, every step from the pig trough to the dinner table. Whether you are shopping for pacemakers, sanitary napkins, or wholesale office supplies, you will find very few sellers. You think you have choices in grocery aisles or at car-rental counters, but the majority of consumer products come from a handful of companies.

Competition is hardly stiff when even many store brands are just renamed versions of market-leading products; at Costco, the batteries come from Duracell and the coffee from Starbucks. To focus the discussion of monopoly on the tech sector is to minimize the scope of a problem long in the making. Forty years ago, the government essentially stopped policing industry concentration. The conservative legal theorist Robert Bork—later a failed Supreme Court nominee—and his allies in the law-and-economics movement argued that any merger making businesses more efficient must be approved, and that a larger scale generally increases efficiency. Bork’s analysis gained enormous power in the courts and the Reagan administration. The lawyers and the bankers who handled mergers and acquisitions loved it.

Read more …

Pelosi and Schumer agree.

White House Puts Chinese Apps On Notice (SCMP)

US President Donald Trump will take action against TikTok, WeChat and “countless” Chinese software companies that pose a national security threat to America, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, apparently widening the scope of attention the US government is paying to online tech platforms developed in China. “These Chinese software companies doing business with the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat, there are countless more … are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party their national security apparatus,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview. “It could be their facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends who they’re connected to.”

“Those are the issues President Trump’s made clear we’re going to take care of,” Pompeo said. “He will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.” Focusing on TikTok specifically, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose department is overseeing a national security review of the company, said on Sunday that the company will need to be blocked in the US or sold to another company. Pompeo’s warning to Chinese software companies came as Trump agreed to give the Chinese internet giant ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of the popular short-video app to Microsoft, according three people familiar with matter, Reuters reported.

[..] The mobile platform, which lets users create and share 15 second videos with custom music clips, has built a huge user base in the US, particularly within younger age brackets. Mnuchin added that he had spoken with Chuck Schumer, the most senior Democrat in the Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, about the issue and that they all agree that a sale or a block on the site would be necessary, using the authority of International Emergency Economic Powers Act, if needed. Responding to the drumbeat of comments about TikTok over the past week, the company’s general manager for US operations, Vanessa Pappas, told users on Saturday that the company was working to give them “the safest app” and that “We’re not planning on going anywhere”.

Read more …

Too much repetition makes people look away.

Humanity Likely Faces Rapid ‘Catastrophic Collapse’ – Study (NYP)

It’s not the news you want to hear during a global health crisis. In a new theoretical study appearing in Nature Scientific Reports, a pair of statistical researchers have warned that rampant human consumption has sent us on a tailspin towards a rapid “catastrophic collapse” — which could happen in the next two to four decades. Forest density, or the current lack thereof, is considered the cataclysmic canary in the coal mine, according to the report. By comparing the rate of deforestation against humanity’s rate of consumption, study authors Mauro Bologna and Gerardo Aquino have determined there’s a 90% chance our species will collapse within decades — calling this estimate an “optimistic” measure.

“Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse,” they wrote. While much attention has been paid to the ways in which greenhouse gases have contributed to the demise of our species, Aquino focused mathematical models on the “undeniable fact” of human-driven deforestation. “Before the development of human civilizations, our planet was covered by 60 million square kilometers [37 million square miles] of forest,” according to the article. “As a result of deforestation, less than 40 million square kilometers [25 million square miles] currently remain.”

The researchers set out to “evaluate the probability of avoiding the self-destruction of our civilization” based on numerical simulations — charts and graphs that don’t look like much to us laymen, but for two theoretical physicists, they amount to disaster. They also call into play “Fermi’s paradox,” which refers to the theoretical discussion of extraterrestrial life from Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist who once asked, “Where is everybody?” One aspect of the discourse is the idea that self-destruction caused by unsustainable environmental exploitation may be an inevitability of intelligent life — and thus a potential reason why we have not yet had the opportunity to meet our galactic neighbors.

Read more …

From February, but highly relevant today.

How The Guardian and New York Times ‘Set Up’ Julian Assange (M.)

[..] as the War Logs’ mutually-agreed publication deadline loomed, both the Times and Guardian grew increasingly anxious about being associated with the material. His film, shot just prior to the release, documents this transformation in real-time — in one highly illuminating segment, Assange informs Gavin MacFayden, then-director of the University of London’s Centre for Investigative Journalism, the New York Times has requested WikiLeaks ‘scoop’ them by publishing analysis of the Afghan War Logs first. The ‘naivety’ Davis referenced is palpably on display — “they want to report on our reporting, so they can claim they’re not involved!” Assange splutters bemusedly, in evident disbelief a newspaper would be actively resistant to publishing a seismic exclusive.

As Davis attested, the footage makes for thoroughly “chilling” viewing in the present day, given Assange is “now in jail as a result of that subterfuge”. Simultaneously, Assange himself was also growing increasingly anxious, in his case about the identities of informants and other individuals featured in the logs being revealed — no effort had been made by Guardian journalists to remove a single one, and despite repeated requests he wasn’t provided with staff or technical support to redact them. As a result, the WikiLeaks chief took up the “moral responsibility” for the files — his requests for publication to be delayed in order to give him enough time to adequately “cleanse” the documents were ignored, so he was compelled to “literally work all night” to redact around 10,000 names, Davis said.

In a perverse irony, the documentarian also exposed how despite Assange ultimately acquiescing to publishing the Logs Sunday 25th July 2010 in order to allow The Guardian and Times to ‘report’ on the story the next day, the plan was disrupted by technical issues with the WikiLeaks website. As Assange struggled to get the content online, Davis said he was inundated with “panicked, hysterical calls” from The Times and Guardian, which grew more frenzied as the day wore on — the two outlets were literally on the verge of ‘stopping the presses’, as the front-page splashes on the Afghan War Logs were entirely predicated on the notion WikiLeaks had published the documents the day prior.

It would take several days for WikiLeaks to publish the War Logs — The Guardian and Times nevertheless ran their scheduled stories on 26th July 2010, reporting on the release of the logs, despite the fact they hadn’t actually appeared on the WikiLeaks website. “Julian was their fall guy. They printed a lie. These two high priests of journalistic integrity very happily colluded, reporting on something that hadn’t happened. The entire searchable Afghan War Logs interface was the sole creation of The Guardian, they promoted it on their website and in the paper, but then they turned round and said ‘we didn’t publish this, Julian did’. They set him up from the start. They should be in jail too,” Davis concluded.

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.

 

 

A 1968 cartoon.

 

 

Easily Tweet of the day. Hands down.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.