Gutzon Borglum Repairing the Face of Abraham Lincoln, Mount Rushmore 1962
This doesn’t often happen, but it did yesterday.
Biden said some strange things last night. His comments on China and the Uighurs were very weird.
But even then Trump steals the headlights.
A French pharmaceutical company has developed a nasal spray that it says could eliminate up to 99% of the Covid-19 virus, with the product set to be available to buy within weeks. French group Pharma & Beauty (P&B) has been working on the spray for almost a year. It says that according to several studies it can eliminate 99% of the viral load in nasal passages within 30 seconds and reduce the spread of the virus by up to 90%. The company is set to begin selling the product from March 1. Production is scheduled to begin next week at the P&B site in Montélimar, Drôme; and then in four other P&B factories across France.
Between 1 million-3 million bottles are expected to be available in March, followed by 13 million-15 million each month from April. Each bottle of 30ml is expected to last one month, and will be sold at €14.90 each. A statement on the P&B LinkedIn page reads: “[The spray] prevents viral spread by mechanically dislodging infectious agents in the nasal cavity, and facilitating their evacuation – and locally reduces the viral load.” The spray is 40% ionised water with high antimicrobial properties and 60% purified water.
Curious consequences: “This left a lot of people who had not even been convicted of a crime but couldn’t afford bail in a purgatory-like state of open-ended detention.
When the world ground to a halt a year ago thanks to Covid-19, Americans quickly worried over the important questions. Will we still get to go to basketball games? Will McDonald’s only be Drive-Thru now? Do manicurists deliver? The parts of the country that were already out of sight to most receded further from view. Covid-19 struck at the elderly in rest homes, but the population that took perhaps the toughest hit was behind bars. By June, the rate of infection in America’s jails and prisons was seven times that of the general population. By this month, 612,000 cases had been reported in correctional facilities, with at least 2,700 deaths among prisoners and corrections officials.
In news reports, we mostly read that prosecutors and corrections officials were trying to find ways to reduce the risk of disease both in jails and in court, another institution that traditionally required people to congregate indoors. Many districts suspended jury trials indefinitely, a serious problem for those awaiting trial, and one that raised a question: if officials were too worried about the safety of jurors to schedule trials, what did that mean for grand juries? In other words, was the pandemic too dangerous for speedy trial rights, but not dangerous enough to slow indictments? Were there places where jury trials were canceled, but grand juries were not? In some select jurisdictions across the country, the answer appeared — and appears — to be yes.
“It highlights the way in which the pandemic is being used selectively,” says Scott Hechinger of Zealous, a national public defender advocacy organization. “In some places it’s used to perpetuate the system, in some places, to make it worse.” The significance of jury trials is obvious. Defendants have a right to them, and they also have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, i.e. the government is not allowed to charge a person and leave them under suspicion indefinitely. Cases must be adjudicated in a reasonable period of time. In some jurisdictions, the satisfaction of speedy trial rights means getting a defendant to trial within a concrete number of days, though the calculation is often complicated.
During the pandemic, however, jury trials were suspended in many jurisdictions. In some of those places, it was understood that speedy trial rights simply had to be put on hold until officials could, as Donald Trump would say, figure out what the hell is going on. This left a lot of people who had not even been convicted of a crime but couldn’t afford bail in a purgatory-like state of open-ended detention.
Did they apologize? Or is that not done anymore in 2021?
What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned. But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.
Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.
One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.” A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaborated on that story:
After publication of these two articles, this horrifying story about a pro-Trump mob beating a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher was repeated over and over, by multiple journalists on television, in print, and on social media. It became arguably the single most-emphasized and known story of this event, and understandably so — it was a savage and barbaric act that resulted in the harrowing killing by a pro-Trump mob of a young Capitol police officer.
It took on such importance for a clear reason: Sicknick’s death was the only example the media had of the pro-Trump mob deliberately killing anyone. In a January 11 article detailing the five people who died on the day of the Capitol protest, the New York Times again told the Sicknick story: “Law enforcement officials said he had been ‘physically engaging with protesters’ and was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
“Without the Chief Justice, there was no Constitutional impeachment trial. So they put on a show trial instead.”
Last week’s second impeachment trial of former President Trump should serve as a warning that something is very wrong in US politics. Far from a measured, well-investigated, rock-solid case against the former president, America was again abused with day after day of character assassination, innuendo, false claims, and even falsified “evidence.” The trial wasn’t intended to win a conviction of Trump for “incitement” because the Democrats already knew that the votes were not there. So, just as with the last impeachment trial, the goal was to fling as much dirt at Donald Trump as they could while the cameras were rolling. Their hatred of Donald Trump is so deep and visceral that probably a psychologist would have been more beneficial to them than yet another impeachment trial.
It would be incorrect to say that the House managers’ case fell apart, because they had no case to begin with. They never had a case because they made no effort to develop a case. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court saw from the beginning that this was no legitimate impeachment trial and informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would not preside. Without the Chief Justice, there was no Constitutional impeachment trial. So they put on a show trial instead. As Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley kept asking, why didn’t the House schedule a single hearing to investigate what really happened up to and on the day of the Capitol melee on January 6th? They had weeks to do so. Professor Turley believes they might even have been able to make a decent case if they had tried.
Why did they not call witnesses? Were there no rioters who could be called to explain under oath how Trump’s speech had inspired them to enter the Capitol building to overturn the election? Were they afraid that under cross-examination we might have found out more about Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ claim that Trump offered to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington before January 6th but that his offer was rebuked? What about reports that Capitol Hill Police were left without back-up and unprepared for what happened? House and Senate leadership is responsible for security at the Capitol and they obviously failed. Why?
Can Michael van der Veen handle this one too?
Attorney Rudy Giuliani is “not currently” representing former President Donald Trump “in any legal matters,” Trump advisor Jason Miller said in a statement Tuesday, as the ex-president’s former personal lawyer faces multiple lawsuits against him for his role in Trump’s effort to overturn the presidential election results. Miller’s statement was in response to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Trump, Giuliani and two far-right groups, which alleges the president and his lawyer violated the Ku Klux Klan Act in their attempt to stop the election results from being certified by Congress. Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney throughout his presidency and most recently helmed the president’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge the election results in court, including appearing on Trump’s behalf in a Pennsylvania case.
The former mayor said he did not represent Trump in his Senate impeachment trial—despite a willingness to do so—because he was a “witness” in the case and gave a speech at the rally that preceded Trump supporters’ seizure of the U.S. Capitol building. Giuliani has been sued for defamation twice in recent weeks for spreading unsubstantiated election fraud claims involving voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. He is also reportedly under federal investigation by the Southern District of New York for his business dealings in Ukraine, and an ethics complaint has been filed that seeks to disbar Giuliani in New York.
Power struggle: “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack..”
Former President Donald Trump issued a scathing statement on Tuesday in which he excoriated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in the fiery statement. “McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.”
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” the former president said elsewhere in his statement. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.” The nation’s 45th commander-in-chief also attacked Republicans Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the Peach State’s GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the statement.
“Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race,” Trump said. “It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will,” Trump declared.
In a functioning society, there would be an investigation.
The very day in January 2017 that then-FBI Director James Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring content from Christopher Steele’s dossier had been “verified,” he wrote President Obama’s outgoing intelligence community chief with a very different assessment of the British spy’s intelligence on Russia collusion, a newly released memo shows. “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting,” Comey wrote in a Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that was declassified and made public through an open records lawsuit by the Southeastern Legal Foundation. The memo recounts an internal debate inside the U.S. intelligence community during one of the most delicate moments in the FBI’s then six-month old Crossfire Hurricane probe.
CIA officials had already informed Comey’s FBI that the target of the FISA warrant, Carter Page, wasn’t a Russian spy but rather an asset helping U.S. intelligence. The bureau had received warnings about Steele and the reliability of his source network, including that it might have been compromised by Russian disinformation. Agents had also just recommended on Jan. 4, 2017 shutting down the probe’s inquiry into incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lack of evidence. The FBI had been warned the previous summer that Hillary Clinton’s campaign may have planted the false Russia collusion story as a way to “vilify” Trump and distract from her email scandal, and agents were about to interview Steele’s primary sub-source, who would discount much of the information in the dossier attributed to him as bar talk and unconfirmed rumor not worthy of official intelligence.
And the larger intelligence community had decided it did not want to vouch for the Steele dossier in its official Intelligence Community Assessment about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. It was in that environment in the final days of the Obama administration that Clapper had written Comey earlier on Jan. 12, 2017 to inform the FBI that Clapper had decided to release a public statement declaring that the Steele dossier was only mentioned in an appendix to the intel community’s report because the “IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” Comey tried to push back, suggesting Steele was deemed reliable (he actually had been terminated by the FBI for leaking by that time) and that his network included sources that might be in a position to know things (although the key source had already disavowed the information attributed to him in the dossier).
“Comey signed a statement to the secret court that the information was “verified” on the same day that he admitted to Clapper that “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.”
Justthenews has released a previously undisclosed email from former FBI Director James Comey that raises additional questions about his role in using the now discredited Steele dossier as part of the FBI Russian investigation. The email on Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper falsely claims that Christopher Steele was found to be “reliable” but then states that the FBI could not “sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” The email went out the same day that Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring that content from Christopher Steele’s dossier had been “verified.” We are still waiting for the results of the John Durham investigation but this email raised additional questions about Comey’s role.
Comey has testified that he would not have approved such surveillance if he knew then what he knew now about the Steele dossier. Comey signed a statement to the secret court that the information was “verified” on the same day that he admitted to Clapper that “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” Yet, he also did not tell Clapper what the FBI had already knew about Steele and Carter Page. While Comey later insisted that he was unaware of basic information, he was signing applications for secret surveillance and advising Clapper without either confirming or disclosing information. The CIA had already told the FBI that Page was a U.S. intelligence asset, not a Russian spy. It had also been warned that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was trying to plant a false Russian collusion story in the media.(The Clinton campaign and its attorney Marc Elias had reportedly denied that the campaign funded the dossier until after the election)
It was also told that Steele’s primary source was a suspected Russian agent and that is network was compromised by Russian intelligence. Steele had also been reportedly terminated by the FBI as a source because of his efforts to plant stories in the media. Comey mentioned none of this and instead cautioned Clapper against a statement saying that there was no judgment on the reliability of the Steele dossier. He was opposed to a public statement declaring that the Steele dossier was only mentioned in an appendix to the intel community’s report because the “IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” Comey insisted her was reliable:
“I just had a chance to review the proposed talking points on this for today. Perhaps it is a nit, but I worry that it may not be best to say ‘the IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.’ I say that because we HAVE concluded that the source is reliable and has a track record with us of reporting reliable information; we have some visibility into his source network, some of which we have determined to be sub-sources in a position to report on such things; and much of what he reports in the current document is consistent with and corroborative of other reporting included in the body of the main IC report.” So Comey worked to preserve the public narrative in support of the Steele dossier, which was being widely disseminated and fueled what was later found to be an unsupported conspiracy theory. He did so while admitting later “That said, we are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting to include it in the body of the report.”
“The GoFundMe page initially claimed the feature-length documentary would premiere in January 2018.”
Rick Wilson, co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project PAC, raised nearly $65,000 for a film called “Everything Trump Touches Dies” that has yet to be released. Wilson raised $64,766 from around 1,400 donors for the film – based on his book under the same title – on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, though donations have since been paused for the project. The GoFundMe page initially claimed the feature-length documentary would premiere in January 2018. But a January 2018 update from Wilson said filmmakers were still working on its “first round of interviews” and asked people to give more money to the project.
“Team Trump won’t like this, but we’re in the home stretch in this fundraising effort for [the film],” Wilson wrote. “Your support is more vital and appreciated than ever.”Wilson provided no updates for nearly two months, when he said in March 2018 that the film was in “final production” and again asked for more money. Nearly a year later in February 2019, Wilson insisted that the project was “still happening” and that he needed to “expand the scope of the project to truly tell the story.” “We will endeavor to keep our community more informed as the project goes forward,” he wrote, but no update has been posted to the page since then. [..] Ben Howe, who is listed as the project’s director and producer, told Fox News Tuesday that the film is still in production.
“Delays have caused issues, the primary one in the last year being the difficulty of filming the remaining interviews with location shooting being so limited due to quarantine,” Howe said, “An issue that’s affecting filming across all film-related industries – including Hollywood – so certainly not limited to this.” “The issue now is that, in almost every way imaginable, the world looks very different than when Rick first asked me to direct,” Howe continued. “So, what an interviewee might’ve offered as analysis at the end of 2019 is almost certainly different today and that has to be accommodated for the film to offer any value.”
[..] what’s the greatest bubble of all time (GBOAT)? The easiest way to measure speculative bubbles is the starting price and the peak price, but that may not do justice to the question. Perhaps the number of people drawn into the speculative frenzy is a better measure of GBOAT: after all, if only a handful of speculators lose their shirts, how that can be the greatest bubble of all time? To even qualify, a bubble must drawn the masses into the euphoria and then slaughter them as mercilessly as Hammurabi massacred the goat profiteers. Another qualifying factor is the scale of disconnect from reality. Even if you overpaid for a goat in a speculative mania, at least you can still milk the goat and make cheese. But tulips, which drove the remarkably excessive speculative Tulip Mania in 1636 Holland, are not even edible.
At least tulips offer a bit of beauty in a world besmirched by speculative ugliness, but the shares of the South Seas Company that sucked in the best and brightest in 1720 Britain and proceeded to lay waste to their wealth did not even have that saving grace. Another qualifying factor is the power of the delusion driving the bubble. To qualify as a contender for GBOAT, the mania has to be utterly convincing and persuasive to everyone involved. In other words, it isn’t even speculation to invest all your money in the bubble, it’s simply common sense due to the dead certainty of the proposition fueling the mania.
The 1999-2000 Dot-Com Bubble is a good example of the universality of belief in the obviousness of the gains to be reaped: the Internet was changing the world and would expand for decades, so obviously the companies involved would grow for decades, too, as would their profits (obviously!). The chart of the dot-com bubble offers a textbook example of how a bubble gathers momentum, spikes to insane heights, falters as the smart money exits but soars to a lower high as true believers buy the dip. Once the buying is exhausted, the bubble collapses back to its starting level.
But not all bubbles follow this trajectory. Here is a current chart of IWM, the Russell 2000 index, courtesy of NorthmanTrader.com. (I added the black box and the red line in the center panel to indicate the previous bubble top.) The violence and amplitude of this speculative mania over the past year makes the dot-com bubble appear quaintly staid in comparison.
So let’s make the case that we’re experiencing the greatest bubble of all time in real time. The magnitude of the price movement is extreme: check. The number of people sucked into the mania is extreme: check. The power of the delusion is extreme: check. (The Fed will print trillions forever, federal government will borrow and blow trillions forever, the world is about to enter Roaring 20s, technology is changing the world, etc. etc. etc.) The gains to be reaped are extremely obvious: check.
Much more in the article.
Driven by stimulus and bailouts, and fired up by the tax cuts and by grease and pork, the Incredibly Spiking US National Debt has skyrocketed by $4.55 trillion in 12 months, to $27.86 trillion, after having already spiked by $1.4 trillion in the prior 12 months, which had been the Good Times. These trillions are all Treasury securities that form the US national debt, and someone had to buy every single one of these securities:
So we’ll piece together who bought those trillions of dollars in Treasury Securities that have whooshed by over the past 12 months. Tuesday afternoon, the Treasury Department released the Treasury International Capital data through December 31 which shows the foreign holders of the US debt. From the Fed’s balance sheet, we can see what the Fed bought. From the Federal Reserve Board of Governors bank balance-sheet data, we can see what the banks bought. And from the Treasury Department’s data on Treasury securities, we can see what US government entities bought. In the fourth quarter, foreign central banks, foreign government entities, and foreign private-sector entities such as companies, banks, bond funds, and individuals, reduced their holdings by $35 billion from the third quarter, to $7.04 trillion. This was still up from a year ago by $192 billion (blue line, right scale in the chart below). But their share of the Incredibly Spiking US National Debt fell to 25.4%, the lowest since 2007 (red line, right scale):
Japan (blue line), the largest foreign creditor of the US, reduced its holdings in Q4 by $20 billion, to $1.26 trillion. But compared to a year earlier, its holdings were still up by $102 billion. China (red line) continued on trend, gradually reducing its holdings. In Q4, its holdings ticked down just a tad, and over the 12-month period fell by $8 billion, to $1.06 trillion:
[..] All these holders of the monstrous US Treasury debt, combined into one mountain, and color-coded for your amusement by category of holder as of December 31:
Internal government emails reveal Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killers. The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based products.
The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Thailand officials had also cited concerns for public health in seeking to ban the weed killer, but reversed course after US threats about trade disruption. So far the collaborative campaign to get the Mexican government to reverse its policy does not appear to be working.
The Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has given farmers until 2024 to stop using glyphosate. On 31 December, the country published a “final decree” calling not only for the end of the use of glyphosate but also a phase-out of the planting and consumption of genetically engineered corn, which farmers often spray with glyphosate, a practice that often leaves residues of the pesticide in finished food products. The moves are for the “purpose of contributing to food security and sovereignty” and “the health of Mexican men and women”, according to the Mexican government. But Mexico’s concern for the health of its citizens has triggered fear in the United States for the health of agricultural exports, especially Bayer’s glyphosate products.
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Dr. Fauci's latest press conference reveals the latest virus safety measures according to the science… WHEEL! pic.twitter.com/QVQMXZXsnx
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