Odilon Redon Two trees 1875
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sparked fury among pro-Europeans and MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit by forcing the suspension of parliament weeks before Britain’s EU departure date. The pound slid on the surprise news Wednesday, which opponents branded a “coup” and a “declaration of war” but Johnson claimed was necessary to allow him to pursue a “bold and ambitious” new domestic agenda. It came a day after opposition parties vowed to seek legislative changes to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Queen Elizabeth II approved the request to end what has been the longest session of parliament in nearly 400 years in the second week of September and reopen it on October 14 — just over two weeks before Brexit.
Thousands of people protested in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other cities, while an online petition decrying the decision had garnered more than 1.1 million signatures by early Thursday. At the biggest rally, crowds gathered near parliament in London chanting “stop the coup” and waving EU flags. “Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the government’s overall programme, and approach to Brexit,” Johnson, who leads the Conservative party, vowed in a letter to MPs. However, his decision incensed lawmakers vehemently against Britain leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, denounced the move as “a smash-and-grab against democracy” and reiterated he may call a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s government, which commands a majority of just one seat. Former chancellor Philip Hammond also pledged to keep fighting against no deal. “It would be a constitutional outrage if parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis,” he said. US President Donald Trump weighed into the row by praising Johnson as “great” and claiming it would be “very hard” for Corbyn to topple him in a no-confidence vote. The Labour leader shot back, tweeting Johnson was “a compliant Prime Minister who will hand Britain’s public services and protections over to US corporations in a free trade deal”.
Bit late perhaps?
A petition calling on the government not to prorogue parliament has already been signed by more than 1.2 million people. It was launched on Tuesday by Mark Johnston, a pro-EU campaigner from Reigate in Surrey, a day before Boris Johnson announced his request to suspend parliament. The text of the petition reads: “Parliament must not be prorogued or dissolved unless and until the article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU has been cancelled.” By early afternoon on Wednesday it had already attracted more than 100,000 signatories, passing the threshold to be considered for a debate in parliament.[..] It is the fastest-growing parliamentary petition since more than 6 million people signed a statement calling for article 50 to be revoked earlier this year.
Craig Murray is Scottish.
Our obsequious media is actively perpetuating the myth than the monarch can do no wrong, and is apolitical. In fact the monarchy has been active and absolutely central to the seizure of power from the Westminster parliament in a right wing coup. Yesterday’s collaboration at Balmoral between the Queen and Jacob Rees Mogg is only the latest phase. The monarch appoints the UK Prime Minister. The convention is that this must be the person who can command the support of the majority in the House of Commons. That does not necessarily have to be from a single party, it can be via a coalition or pact with other parties, but the essential point, established since Hanoverian times, is that the individual must have a majority in the Commons.
The very appointment of Boris Johnson by Elizabeth Saxe Coburg Gotha was a constitutional outrage. Johnson may have been selected by Conservative Party members, but that is not the qualification to be PM. Johnson very plainly did not command a majority in the House of Commons, proven by the fact that still at no stage has he demonstrated that he does. Johnson’s flagship policy was always No Deal Brexit. Contrary to the monarchist propaganda spewed out across the entire MSM, not only is it untrue that the Queen had “no constitutional choice” but to appoint Johnson, the Queen had a clear constitutional duty not to appoint a Prime Minister whose flagship policy had already been specifically voted down time and again by the House of Commons.
The Queen has now doubled down on this original outrage by proroguing the Westminster parliament in conspiracy with old Etonians Rees Mogg and Johnson, specifically so that the House of Commons cannot vote down Johnson. The monarchy will always be an extremely useful institution in promoting the political aims of the upper classes, not least because of the ludicrous media promulgation of its infallibility. When you have former Prime Minister John Major, senior Tories like Philip Hammond and Michael Heseltine, and the Speaker of the House of Commons himself all talking of “consitutional outrage”, it is plainly preposterous to insist that the monarchy cannot, by definition, have done anything wrong.
How much panic will we see in the next 2 months? How much protest, violence?
The pound sterling has lost nearly 10% of its value in the last 120 days, as a no-deal Brexit has become more likely. The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, also called the FTSE 100 Index, has fallen into a bear market in the same period. Fear is spreading across the United Kingdom, also affecting the real estate market. Nested, a London-based “data-driven” real estate firm, is reporting 29% of London homeowners are slashing their asking prices ahead of Brexit’s Oct. 31 deadline, reported Property Reporter. The new report shows over £2 billion ($2.43 billion) of price cuts have so far occurred in the London Metropolitan Region ahead of the deadline.
About 11% of the listings in London (12,078) have seen at least £37,800 ($46,166) cut from the initial list price. Top areas of where the most substantial price discounts are being observed are in Westminster Kensington & Chelsea, Wandsworth, Camden, and Tower Hamlets. Another 18% of homes listed in the London area have seen price drops of at least 10% ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline. Jamie Salisbury, a property expert at Nested, said: “Amid this endless uncertainty and gloom there are great opportunities out there for buyers if they’re bold enough to seize them. This is particularly true for homeowners who are trading up, presenting an opportunity to buy a new home that might otherwise have been out of reach.”
Everyone wants dollars and dollar-denominated “safe assets”.
The world is saving like crazy. Corporations are building up cash mountains that they can’t or won’t invest in expanding their businesses. Individuals are building up pensions and precautionary savings. Governments, especially in developing countries, are building up FX reserves. The “savings glut,” as former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke dubbed it, shows no signs of dissipating. It is sloshing around the world looking for a productive home. But there isn’t one – or at least, not one that offers the safety that fearful investors desperately crave. That, fundamentally, is what is driving down the returns on assets.
It is also the primary cause of the wide US trade deficit. The President likes to think that the reason for the US’s persistent trade deficits is unfair trade practices and currency manipulation. And for some countries, these are undoubtedly contributing factors. But the biggest reason by far is the global dominance of the dollar, and above all, the pre-eminence of dollar-denominated financial assets as the world’s preferred savings vehicles. The world loves to save in dollar-denominated “safe assets” – not only the dollar itself, but also US Treasuries, mortgage-backed securities, dollar-denominated debt issued by other governments in good standing, and dollar-denominated blue-chip corporate debt.
When global demand for these assets rises and/or their supply falls, dollars become relatively scarcer internationally, both because foreigners increase their holdings of dollars and because they buy or borrow more dollars to buy other dollar-denominated safe assets. This drives up the dollar exchange rate against all other currencies. It also depresses yields, both on dollar-denominated safe assets and on all other financial assets. Thus the strong dollar and negative yields are both primarily caused by the world’s dollar saving habit, not by its trade practices. And the dollar safety quest intensifies as political tensions rise.
Everyone wnats bonds? So give them what they want.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday the possibility of issuing ultra-long U.S. bonds is “under very serious consideration” by the Trump administration, Bloomberg News reported. “If the conditions are right, then I would anticipate we’ll take advantage of long-term borrowing and execute on that,” Mnuchin told Bloomberg in an interview. Mnuchin said his renewed interest in 50- or 100-year bonds was unrelated to the drop in yields on shorter-term U.S. debt, Bloomberg reported.
Currently, the 30-year bond is the longest-dated U.S. Treasury bond. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department asked for feedback from market participants about the possibility of selling ultra-long bonds. The department posed a similar inquiry in 2017. U.S. Treasury debt yields fell on Wednesday, with 30-year yields setting all-time lows, as fears about a recession and U.S.-China trade tensions stoked unrelenting demand for low-risk government debt.
FBI. Very reassuring.
Two cameras that malfunctioned outside the jail cell where financier Jeffrey Epstein died as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges have been sent to an FBI crime lab for examination, a law enforcement source told Reuters. Epstein’s lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan on Tuesday they had doubts about the New York City chief medical examiner’s conclusion that their client killed himself. The two cameras were within view of the Manhattan jail cell where he was found dead on Aug. 10. A source earlier told Reuters two jail guards failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes.
He had been taken off suicide watch prior to his death. The cameras were sent to Quantico, Virginia, site of a major FBI crime lab where agents and forensic scientists analyze evidence. The Washington Post reported on Monday that at least one camera in the hallway outside Epstein’s cell had footage that was unusable. The newspaper said there was other usable footage captured in the area.
That’ll stop them.
Hong Kong police have banned a mass pro-democracy rally from going ahead on Saturday over public safety concerns, organisers said, after last weekend saw some of the worst violence in three months of political unrest in the financial hub. In a letter to the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) on Thursday, police said they feared some participants would commit “violent and destructive acts”. Protesters have not only carried out “arson and large scale road blockades but also used petrol bombs, steel balls, bricks, long spears, metal poles, as well as various self-made weapons to destroy public property on a large scale, damage social order and cause injury to others,” the letter said of previous protests.
The rare move comes after officers deployed water cannon and fired a warning gunshot to fend off radical protesters on Sunday night, after a sanctioned rally turned ugly. Saturday’s rally was set to mark five years since Beijing rejected political reforms in Hong Kong, a decision which sparked the 79-day Umbrella Movement. The CHRF, responsible for the largest rallies the city has seen in decades, said they would appeal the decision. “You can see the police’s course of action is intensifying, and you can see (Hong Kong leader) Carrie Lam has in fact no intention to let Hong Kong return to peace, but is trying to incite the anger of more citizens through tough measures,” the group’s leader Jimmy Sham told reporters.
“.. the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong..”
Chinese military vehicles have been seen moving across the border into Hong Kong, in what the military said were regular troop movements, as fears rose that the city could see a Beijing-led crackdown after months of political unrest. Following witness reports of the movements in the early hours of Thursday, state-run news agency Xinhua released a report that the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was making a scheduled rotation and that it was an “annual normal routine”. The images published by Xinhua showed armoured carriers and trucks carrying troops at the border, and a naval vessel arriving in Hong Kong. In the previous two rotations – in 2017 and 2018 – state media reports noted that the number of troops and equipment had not changed.
This year the report does not include that detail. It is estimated there are between 8,000 and 10,000 troops in the garrison, on either side of the border. The movements come before a major anti-government demonstration planned for Saturday, as Hong Kong nears its third month of mass protests. On Thursday, the organiser of the demonstration, Civil Human Rights Front, received notice that police had banned the event. Hong Kong lawmaker Dennis Kwok of the Civic party called the troop movements political posturing. “I believe this is a deliberate posture on the part of the PLA to tell or warn the Hong Kong people that it may be deployed,” Kwok told public broadcaster RTHK. “As I said time and again, the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong, and I would warn against any such move on the part of the central people’s government.”
Pretty crazy story.
A fortnight ago Cathay Pacific said it “wouldn’t dream” of muzzling the views of its 27,000 Hong Kong staff, but after the dismissal of several pro-democracy supporters among its workforce under Chinese pressure, employees say this is exactly what has happened. Hong Kong, a financial centre that was once a byword for stability and prosperity, has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis by anti-government protests, framed by fears over growing Chinese influence. The chaos put airline Cathay in a bind over whether to allow its staff to take part in — or voice support for — the massive demonstrations, or risk losing its China-facing business.
In mid-August, the carrier’s position seemed unequivocal and in line with the city’s culture of free speech. “We employ 27,000 different staff in Hong Kong… we have virtually every opinion on every issue amongst our staff,” Chairman John Slosar told reporters. “We certainly wouldn’t dream of telling them what they have to think about something.” But the company’s tune soon changed as a move by China’s aviation regulator to bar staff supporting protests from working on flights to the mainland or through Chinese airspace began to bite. Four Cathay staff were fired — including two pilots.
A fifth, Rebecca Sy, a union organiser and cabin crew for Cathay Dragon, a regional arm, says she was dropped from a Chinese flight rota and then dismissed a day later without explanation. “It’s now like feeding a wolf… how many people do they have to fire to feel content?” Sy told AFP on Wednesday at a protest against Cathay’s about-turn. Crew fear a witch-hunt is underway for anyone who has expressed support for the protests, which started in June but show no sign of abating. “We’re being monitored. It’s obvious,” a staff member from the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union told AFP, requesting anonymity. “I’m really afraid of the system of ratting people out.”
Lessons from Hong Kong: lasers, umbrellas etc.
While UK citizens are no strangers to having their every move in public captured by the country’s extensive network of CCTV cameras, new lip-reading technology will leave people “cupping their hands over their mouths” just to old a conversation in the street, according to the government’s surveillance watchdog, Tony Porter. “Among the new technologies Mr Porter expressed concern about were lip-syncing programs that can decipher what people are saying at distance as well as gait-analysis software, which can identify an individual just by the manner of their walk.” -The Telegraph. “The capability to run lip-sync technology to determine what people are saying would have a very suppressive effect. It would change the nature of our society,” Porter told the Evening Standard.
“People wouldn’t feel they could have a conversation outside. We increasingly see the football manager cupping his hand over his mouth to give instructions for fear of being exposed.” “Just extrapolate that by millions and what it would mean if people knew there was a capability of walking down the town and your lips moving could be picked up and extrapolated into a conversation,” he added. Porter’s comments follow the launch of an official investigation into the use of facial recognition technology by the Metropolitan Police by Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham – who says her office is “deeply concerned” about the software.
“Earlier this month, the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch also warned it had uncovered an “epidemic” of facial recognition technology being used around shopping centres, museums and conference venues in the UK. The pressure group said it had found that millions of people were now having their facial features unknowingly scanned and stored in data bases. Mr Porter conceded that such technologies could become an important tool for law enforcement. However, he added: “It’s important to protect a free and open society and at the moment we are at risk of ceding that to the impact of technology.”
From the Washington Examiner, next to an Elizabeth Warren campaign ad. Oh irony.
The Justice Department inspector general has determined all four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page were illegally obtained, attorney Joe diGenova said this week. In an investigation that began last year, Inspector General Michael Horowitz examined the Justice Department’s and FBI’s compliance with legal requirements as well as policies and procedures in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court related to Page as part of a larger counterintelligence inquiry into President Trump’s campaign. Back in May, diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said the three FISA warrant extensions against Page were illegally obtained, adding “the only question now is whether or not the first FISA was illegally obtained.”
Now diGenova says Horowitz made the same determination about the warrant that started it all. “I can report categorically that the inspector general has found that all four FISA warrants were illegal. They were based on false information supplied to the FISA Court. And Michael Horowitz has concluded that all four FISA warrants were illegal,” he told WMAL on Monday. The announcement comes days after The Hill’s John Solomon reported Horowitz had completed his investigation and, after a declassification period, could be released sometime between mid-September to early October.
“The movements were exquisitely tuned, along with the money flows that circulated freely, like blood carrying oxygen to each organ. All of that is coming to an end.”
Europe is near the end of its North Sea oil bonanza and there’s nothing in the on-deck circle for them. Germany tried to prove that they could run the country on “renewables” and that experiment has flopped. They have no idea what they’re going to do to keep the game going in their patch of nations. They must be freaking out in their charming capital cities. The next economic bust is going to amount to the crack-up of the oil age, and the “global economy” that emerged in its late stage. It was all about moving fantastic quantities of things around the planet. The movements were exquisitely tuned, along with the money flows that circulated freely, like blood carrying oxygen to each organ. All of that is coming to an end.
The nations of the world must be feeling desperate, despite the appearance of good manners at meetings like the G-7. What’s at stake for everybody in the dark background is the ability to maintain high standards of living only recently attained. And the fear behind that is not knowing just how far backward these high standards of living may have to slide. A lot of people still alive in China must remember a daily existence on par with the 12th century. In the USA, where democracy is mostly represented by low-order thinking skills, the memory of life before electricity and running water is long gone. We’ve been living in Futurama since the end of the last world war. That war, by the way, is not entirely forgotten in Europe, despite all the charm currently on display and the tourists swarming with their selfie sticks.
The place was a charnel house for centuries and the Euro folk will do about anything to suppress conflict. Lately, it looks like they’re willing to give up on Western Civilization itself to keep the peace. Lord knows what Mr. Trump’s strategy is with these so-called “trade talks.” He has explicitly enough pushed for the re-industrialization of America, and that implies — among other things — decoupling from the China’s torrential merchandise supply lines, cutting off its revenues. Closing off China’s access to US markets itself might be enough to finally blow up China’s deeply fraudulent banking system. Maybe the aim is to just disable China, derail it from its seeming aim of becoming the next world hegemon. Does Mr. Trump think he can do that without blowing up the rest of the world’s financial arrangements?