Jul 072022
 
 July 7, 2022  Posted by at 8:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  38 Responses »


Pablo Picasso The rescue 1936

 

‘Western’ Media Spread Copium To Prolong The War In Ukraine (MoA)
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany Touts Nazi War Criminal As A Hero (AT)
Why Doesn’t Africa Support The West In Sanctions War Against Russia? (Lumango)
China Queues Up to Join the Davos Beatdown (Luongo)
US-Led Naval Escort To Break Russian Blockade Could Risk Wider War (RS)
U.S. Should Leave NATO, Marjorie Taylor Greene Says (Celente)
Medvedev Warns US Against Pressing For War Crimes Court (AP)
The Empire Is Not Done Torturing Afghanistan (Escobar)
Interview With Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò (Bannon)
Hambro: BIS, Central Banks Are Rigging Gold Market Using Paper Gold (BStar)
Lab-Designed GMO “Carbon Capture Plants” to Replace Pastures (Chudov)
Cassidy Hutchinson Broke Every Rule Of Being A DC Aide (Van Buren)
The CDC Is Breaking Trust in Childhood Vaccination (Tablet)
Vanishing Vaccine Mandates (Spec.au)
TWICE as Many Vaccine Deaths as Covid Deaths in US Households (DS)

 

 

 

 

The “Golden Pin-up Boys For Klaus Schwab”

 

 

“Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
-Mark Twain

 

 

Comedian

 

 

 

 

“Russia needed some 25 BTCs to cover the frontline on June 21. It now needs only 5 BTC to cover the current line.”

‘Western’ Media Spread Copium To Prolong The War In Ukraine (MoA)

The war in Ukraine is clearly progressing in Russia’s favor. That is why I am appalled by the incompetent descriptions in ‘western’ media of past and current operations in that war. Consider this June 21 map of the Lysichansk cauldron as it was developing. The frontline extended over 125+ kilometers (78 miles).

Fourteen days later and the map looks like this.The frontline has been shortened to 25 kilometer (15 miles). On Sunday the Russia Defense Ministry announced that it troops had ‘liberated’ 184 square kilometer over the last 24 hours.

When I was in the military my tank battalion was expected to operate on a generally five kilometer (3 miles) wide frontline. That was of course just a rule of thumb depending on the terrain and other circumstances. But we can expect that a Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTC) has similar abilities of frontline coverage. Russia needed some 25 BTCs to cover the frontline on June 21. It now needs only 5 BTC to cover the current line. There were and now are of course additional reserve troops and some BTC are rotated out as rested ones come in just as Russia’s president has ordered them to do: “Shoigu told Putin that “the operation” was completed Sunday after Russian troops overran the city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Luhansk. Putin, in turn, said that the military units “that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victory” in Luhansk “should rest, increase their combat capabilities.”

In a week or two those BTCs which now rest and resupply will be back. They will create a new cauldron around Siversk and maybe Bakhmut, decimate the Ukrainian forces within it to then capture the whole area. Despite this obvious path to progress for the Russian side the Associate Press headlines: “High Cost Of Russia Gains In Ukraine Could Limit New Advance” The only purported evidence of high Russian costs are the assertions of a ‘military analyst in Ukraine’ who claims that some Russian units lost half of their soldiers. I have seen nothing that would support such a claim. The AP writer then adds this: “The limited manpower has forced the Russian commanders to avoid ambitious attempts to encircle large areas in the Donbas, opting for smaller maneuvers and relying on heavy artillery barrages to slowly force the Ukrainians to retreat.”

Please. Look at the above maps. What did Russia just do? It had made an ambitious attempt to encircle a large are in Donbas and succeeded with the effort in just a few days. The Ukrainian army threw everything it had available into the cauldron and lost thousands of men while the Russian army avoided direct men against men fighting to minimize its own casualties.

Read more …

Scary dude.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany Touts Nazi War Criminal As A Hero (AT)

In Europe, the past never goes away, and that’s certainly true in Central and Eastern Europe. We’ve already heard about the openly Nazi brigades in the modern Ukraine army. Now, to make it worse, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany just touted as one of Ukraine’s greatest freedom fighters Stephan Bandera, who helped murder 800,000 Ukrainian Jews and 40,000-100,000 Poles. That didn’t surprise me at all. It’s what I expected. From the start of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, I’ve been ambivalent. On the one hand, I was horrified as all people of conscience must be when they see a military power brutally attack an innocent civilian population.

On the other hand, having some familiarity with both Ukrainian and Russian history, I knew that (a) this was a fight going back centuries, (b) that we had no business getting involved in a regional war, and (c) that I don’t have particularly warm feelings for either combatant. Both Ukraine and the USSR behaved horribly during WWII, including allying with the Nazis. Ukraine was especially gleeful as it joined the Nazis in slaughtering Jews within its territory. It did so with such vigor that even the Nazis were shocked. Nor does it matter to me that the current President of Ukraine is nominally Jewish. So were the Kapos in the concentration camps and George Soros. The worst antisemites in the world have been Jews (see, e.g., Karl Marx, whose father had him convert as a small boy, and who went on to bake antisemitism into the socialist cake).

That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised to read David P. Goldman’s article about Andrej Melnyk, who insisted during an interview with Germany’s Die Welt that Bandera was nothing more than a freedom fighter: Germany’s leading center-right newspaper Die Welt posted a banner headline at the top of its page last Friday evening just before Shabbat came in here in New York: “[Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrej] Melnyk’s statement trivializes the Holocaust.” In a radio interview last week, Melnyk compared Ukrainian Nazi leader Stephan Bandera to Robin Hood and vehemently denied—in the face of massive historical documentation—that Bandera had helped to murder 800,000 Ukrainian Jews during World War II. The Banderites also helped to murder between 40,000 and 100,000 Poles.

[..] Melnyk said, “Not just for me, but for many, many Ukrainians, he personifies the freedom fighter… and of course a freedom fighter… There are now written laws for those who fight for freedom. Robin Hood is also respected by everyone, and he also did not work according to the law current at the time.” The astonished German interviewer said, “And you admit that he and his men were involved in the murder of 800,000 Jews?” “No, he was not involved,” said Melnyk The interviewer protested, “But it was his army. That’s what his men did. There is no doubt about that.” Melnyk retorted, “You say, ‘No doubt,’ but there is no evidence. He was not convicted.”

Read more …

Because of the past. And the future.

Why Doesn’t Africa Support The West In Sanctions War Against Russia? (Lumango)

1. Historical memory of colonisation and the struggle for national liberation: Russia, heir to the Former USSR, supported ideologically, politically, economically, and militarily the national liberation struggles of several African countries, which after the achievement of independence, followed the communist model as the basis of their political, social and economic construction. Even though they later adopted Western capitalism, the mentality of the African cosmos is still of Soviet influence, because it was there that most of them did their military and political training and received economic support to finance the liberation wars to put an end to Western colonisation, with direct and indirect help from Cuba as an intermediary in some cases.

The cold war between the USA and NATO against the USSR led to civil wars in African countries to conquer the spaces of influence. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the resurgence of Russia, Westerners looked at the situation as an absolute victory. Despite this, the African cosmos has not forgotten colonisation, the interference of Western countries in their internal affairs, and the rigged processes of massive indebtedness of their economies as a way of controlling their strategic natural resources.

2. Recent memory of wars at the beginning of the 21st century: Beyond colonial issues, the African cosmos has been following since 2001 the behaviour of the West (US, NATO, and EU) in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, sweetened by the Arab Springs, attempted coups in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., without forgetting the massacre in Rwanda and the war in Somalia and Yemen. These wars and coups have destroyed thousands of human lives, social infrastructure, jobs, etc. It was a catastrophe for the entire continent and nearby territories like South East Asia.

The existing wars in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, DRC, Ethiopia, etc, allow the African cosmos, even those with strong ties to the West like Morocco, for example, not to act frontally against Russia, a fact verified in the recent votes of the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council which suspended it. The expulsion of French forces by the military junta in Mali and their replacement by the Russians through the Wagner group, like the construction of a port for the Russian Nave Arms on the Sudanese Red Sea coast, could be a revealing symptom.

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“..disastrous G-7 Summit where the biggest collection of unserious buffoons gathered to ban the sale of Russian gold and contemplate a global price cap on oil..”

China Queues Up to Join the Davos Beatdown (Luongo)

Fungal Joe is going to lift the Trump tariffs on Chinese imports this week to buy votes by hoping inflation moderates. I’m okay with him doing this trying to right the ship. Tariffs are never the answer, just like sanctions. Notice also this has zero to do with monetary policy and everything to do with supply disruptions caused by government diktat. This change by China signals an intention by the CCP to open China back up to tourism and business development that isn’t likely to be reversed. I expect this to be real and for China to make even more little moves like this as the summer drags on and markets churn in the West.

With that change, capital inflow lessens the pressure on both the Hong Kong dollar (HKD) and the Hang Seng while giving China more cover to loosen monetary policy without necessarily raising rates and creates another place for capital to flow now that the ECB has capitulated. Christine Lagarde’s recent statements about fighting inflation being “more art than science” is just saying the quiet parts out loud. But it was what came out of the ECB’s emergency meeting a couple of weeks ago that finally signaled the end for the euro in the minds of investors. Not only is Germany’s industrial base being literally destroyed gleefully by its government, now the ECB is going to sell German debt to buy Italian and Spanish debt to keep from drowning. This is akin to bailing water out of one end of the boat only to throw it in the other end.

Couple these things with the frankly, disastrous G-7 Summit where the biggest collection of unserious buffoons gathered to ban the sale of Russian gold and contemplate a global price cap on oil. … words fail me. Honestly, after this G-7 the rush into the BRICS Alliance as well the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will be unstoppable. What serious investor with real capital appreciation goals is going to look at this group of committed (and committable) lunatics and think, “Yes! I can trust my money with Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and Ursula Von der Leyen!” No, they are looking at this crap and opening up Tradestation. The fact that Justin Trudeau was even invited should have been your sell signal. While the BRICS were talking about a new trade settlement currency and adding members, the G-7 was talking World War III while getting caught spending more time on photo ops than substantive dialogue.

[..] When you look at the fragility of the EU, the UK, and Canada you realize that the only thing propping up global markets at this point is the hope that the U.S. mid-terms are a complete refutation of the Davos agenda. If that doesn’t happen, if somehow Soros and Davos steal enough seats and put a bunch of RINOs back into Congress and the Senate to freeze any reform of Washington D.C. the collapse of the West will accelerate very quickly.

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“..these ideas have been wrapped in humanitarian language. But in reality, they amount to a call for highly risky U.S.-led military action.”

US-Led Naval Escort To Break Russian Blockade Could Risk Wider War (RS)

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, relatively few in the Western commentariat have been willing to call for the United States to engage in direct war against Moscow. The reasons for this caution are obvious — Russia is a nuclear state, and has a military that, its recent underperformance notwithstanding, is still vastly more formidable than any recent target of U.S. military intervention. Yet despite — or perhaps because of — this general resistance to direct U.S. involvement, many commentators and politicians have come up with more underhanded proposals for American military intervention. Most notably, this began with widespread calls for the United States and NATO to establish a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine early in the war.

In spite of its innocuous and legalistic name, the Biden administration soundly rejected this proposal as its enforcement would rather obviously entail shooting down Russian aircraft, which in turn would lead to a wider war. More recently, as the danger of a global food crisis made worse by the loss of grain exports from Ukraine and Russia has increased, new calls have emerged for the United States and allies to use naval power to ensure that Ukrainian grain can safely transit the Black Sea. Similar to demands for a no-fly zone, these ideas have been wrapped in humanitarian language. But in reality, they amount to a call for highly risky U.S.-led military action.

Versions of the proposal have been put forward by Lithuania’s foreign minister, retired U.S. military leaders including admiral James Stavridis, general Wesley Clark, and general Jack Keane, as well as Democratic representative Elissa Slotkin and the editorial boards of the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal. While these proposals vary in detail, all invoke the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention to justify and legitimize the action. The Wall Street Journal calls for a U.S.-led naval escort to be “planned and pitched as a humanitarian operation.” Stavridis referred to his plan as a “humanitarian grain mission” while Slotkin simply called for a “humanitarian escort.” The Boston Globe called its proposal a “human-rights mission” while the Lithuanian foreign minister deemed it a “non-military humanitarian mission.”

Most strikingly, both the Lithuanian foreign minister and the Wall Street Journal have referred to the nations participating in this hypothetical naval escort as a “coalition of the willing,” and odd choice given that phrase’s association with the U.S. war on Iraq and the Bush administration’s efforts to give a veneer of multilateral legitimacy to its illegal invasion.

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“..just 8 percent said the U.S. should “ensure a defeat of Russia in Ukraine.”

U.S. Should Leave NATO, Marjorie Taylor Greene Says (Celente)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican from Georgia, came out against the U.S.’s involvement in the Ukraine War and called on Washington to pull out of the Alliance. “The American people do not want war with Russia, but NATO and our own foolish leaders are dragging us into one,” she said in a tweet. Greene said the U.S. is waging a proxy war with Russia that no country can win and can escalate into a nuclear confrontation. There has been near-universal bipartisan support for sanctions against Russia coupled with military aid to Ukraine to fight off the Russian invasion. But Greene, who is considered a firebrand in the party, has been more critical of Ukraine’s role before the war. She said in March that the West was agitating Russia by “poking the bear” with NATO expansion.

She also did not buy the media’s claim early on in the war that Moscow would lose. She broke from her party and said Russia was “very successful” in its invasion. President Joe Biden has worked to present NATO as a united front for good against Russia. His support for Ukraine has no limit. On Friday, the U.S. said it will send Kyiv an additional $820 million in military aid. The U.S. has given Ukraine some $57 billion since the war started on 24 February. This latest injection will go to additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, and four additional counter-artillery radars.

Despite the support from Congress, war with Russia is not a popular position among Americans. A YouGov poll found that 40 percent say the U.S. should be less militarily engaged in conflicts around the world. The Ukraine War is also not something that is on the mind of everyday Americans. The poll found that 38 percent think Washington should tackle the surging costs of living while just 8 percent said the U.S. should “ensure a defeat of Russia in Ukraine.” Greene posted on Twitter: “The American people do not want war with Russia, but NATO and our own foolish leaders are dragging us into one. A war that no one will win. Escalation over Ukraine, a non-member nation, risking nuclear war is a power-play endangering the entire world. We should pull out of NATO.”

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“That’s why the rotten dogs of war are barking in such a disgusting way.”

Medvedev Warns US Against Pressing For War Crimes Court (AP)

A top Kremlin official warned the U.S. Wednesday that it could face the “wrath of God” if it pursues efforts to help establish an international tribunal to investigate Russia’s action in Ukraine, while the Russian lower house speaker urged Washington to remember that Alaska used to belong to Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, denounced the U.S. for what he described as its efforts to “spread chaos and destruction across the world for the sake of ‘true democracy.’” “The entire U.S. history since the times of subjugation of the native Indian population represents a series of bloody wars,” Medvedev charged in a long diatribe on his Telegram channel, pointing out the U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan during World War II and the war in Vietnam.


“Was anyone held responsible for those crimes? What tribunal condemned the sea of blood spilled by the U.S. there?” Responding to the U.S.-backed calls for an international tribunal to prosecute the perceived war crimes by Russia in Ukraine, Medvedev rejected it as an attempt by the U.S. “to judge others while staying immune from any trial.” “It won’t work with Russia, they know it well,” Medvedev concluded. “That’s why the rotten dogs of war are barking in such a disgusting way.” “The U.S. and its useless stooges should remember the words of the Bible: Do not judge and you will not be judged … so that the great day of His wrath doesn’t come to their home one day,” Medvedev said, referring to the Apocalypse. He noted that the “idea to punish a country with the largest nuclear potential is absurd and potentially creates the threat to mankind’s existence.”

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“War crimes were duly perpetrated – some of them denounced by an organization led by a sterling journalist who was subsequently subjected to years of psychological torture by the same Empire..”

The Empire Is Not Done Torturing Afghanistan (Escobar)

Once upon a time, in a galaxy not far away, the Empire of Chaos launched the so-called “War on Terror” against an impoverished cemetery of empires at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. In the name of national security, the land of the Afghans was bombed until the Pentagon ran out of targets, as their chief Donald Rumsfeld, addicted to “known unknowns,” complained at the time. Civilian targets, also known as “collateral damage,” were the norm for years. Multitudes had to flee to neighboring nations to find shelter, while tens of thousands were incarcerated for unknown reasons, some even dispatched to an illegal imperial gulag on a tropical island in the Caribbean.

War crimes were duly perpetrated – some of them denounced by an organization led by a sterling journalist who was subsequently subjected to years of psychological torture by the same Empire, obsessed with extraditing him into its own prison dystopia. All the time, the smug, civilized ‘international community’ – shorthand for the collective west – was virtually deaf, dumb, and blind. Afghanistan was occupied by over 40 nations – while repeatedly bombed and droned by the Empire, which suffered no condemnation for its aggression; no package after package of sanctions; no confiscation of hundreds of billions of dollars; no punishment at all. At the peak of its unipolar moment, the Empire could experiment with anything in Afghanistan because impunity was the norm.

Two examples spring to mind: Kandahar, Panjwayi district, March 2012: an imperial soldier kills 16 civilians and then burns their bodies. While in Kunduz, April 2018: a graduation ceremony receives a Hellfire missile greeting, with over 30 civilians killed. The final act of the imperial “non-aggression” against Afghanistan was a drone strike in Kabul that did not hit “multiple suicide bombers” but instead eviscerated a family of 10, including several children. The “imminent threat” in question, identified as an “ISIS facilitator” by US intelligence, was actually an aid worker returning to meet his family. The ‘international community’ duly spewed imperial propaganda for days until serious questions started to be asked.

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Steve Bannon via Robert Malone’s site.

Interview With Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò (Bannon)

YOUR EXCELLENCY, after the psycho-pandemic, we now have the Russian- Ukrainian crisis. Are we in “phase two” of one single project, or can we now consider the Covid farce to be over and concern ourselves with the increase in energy prices?

If in the last two years we had been faced with a true pandemic, caused by a deadly virus for which no other cures existed except for a vaccine, we would be able to think that the emergency was not intended. But this is not what happened: the SARS-CoV-2 virus is nothing but a seasonal flu that could have been cured with existing treatments and effective prevention based on strengthening immune defenses. The prohibition of treatment, the discrediting of the effectiveness of drugs that have been in use for decades, the decision to hospitalize the elderly who became sick in nursing homes and the imposition of an experimental gene treatment that has been demonstrated not only to be ineffective but also harmful and often fatal – all this confirms for us that the pandemic has been planned and managed with the purpose of creating the greatest damage possible. This is a fact that has been established and confirmed by the official data, despite the systematic falsification of that same data. Certainly, those who wanted to manage the pandemic in this way are not disposed now to yield easily, also because there are billionaire interests behind all of it. But what “they” want does not always necessarily happen.

In your opinion, Your Excellency, was the pandemic managed in this way due to inexperience? Or was it due to the corruption of those in positions of control who are in a conflict of interest because they are paid off by the pharmaceutical industry?

This is the second element to consider: the response to the pandemic was the same all over the world, where health authorities slavishly adapted to health protocols that were contrary to the scientific literature and medical evidence, instead following the directives of self-proclaimed “experts,” who have a record of sensational failures, apocalyptic predictions completely divorced from reality, and very grave conflicts of interest. We cannot think that millions of doctors all over the world have lost their basic knowledge of the art of medicine, believing that a flu should be allowed to evolve into pneumonia and then be treated with tachypirin or by placing patients on ventilators. If they have done this, it is due to pressure – even to the point of blackmail – by health authorities over medical personnel, with the help of a scandalous campaign of media terrorism and with the support of Western leaders.

Most of these leaders are members of a lobby – the World Economic Forum – that trained them and placed them at the highest levels of national and international institutions in order to be certain that those who govern would be obedient. Klaus Schwab has publicly boasted, on many occasions, of being able to interfere even with religious leaders. These too are documented facts in all the nations that followed the directives of the WHO and the pharmaceutical companies. There is clearly a single script under a single direction: this demonstrates the existence of a criminal design and the malice of its creators.

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“The only way to achieve the cover is by smashing the price of physical gold by the alchemical production of ‘paper gold’.”

Hambro: BIS, Central Banks Are Rigging Gold Market Using Paper Gold (BStar)

The trigger for Peter Hambro’s article is a recent chart from the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which due to a data reclassification starting in Q1 2022, now shows the massive extent to which bullion banks such as JP Morgan have amassed precious metals derivatives contracts to hold down the gold price.. Hambro describes this manipulation of the gold price using derivatives as a ‘tinder-box’, which ‘disinformation [has] for many years kept the lid on”.

But who, you might ask, is directing this disinformation and this gold price manipulation? According to Hambro’s bombshell, its the BIS in Switzerland, i.e. the central banks’ central bank. Hambro drops the bombshell that: ”since 2018 the Financial Stability Desks at the world’s central banks have followed the Bank for International Settlements’ (BIS) instruction to hide the perception of inflation by rigging the gold market.” But since the central banks ‘need cover’ and ‘cannot be seen’ to be rigging the gold price, Hambro continues: “The only way to achieve the cover is by smashing the price of physical gold by the alchemical production of ‘paper gold’.” If this has now got your attention, read on, since Hambro elaborates:


“With the help of the futures markets and the connivance of the Alchemists, the bullion traders – yes, that includes me, I was Deputy Managing Director of Mocatta & Goldsmid – managed to create an unshakeable perception that ounces of gold credited to an account with a bank or bullion dealer were the same as the real thing. “And much easier, old chap! You don’t have to store or insure it”. The gold credit which Hambro is referring to here is the LBMA’s infamous ‘unallocated gold’, with ‘the futures markets’ being the COMEX.

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WEF.

Lab-Designed GMO “Carbon Capture Plants” to Replace Pastures (Chudov)

The World Economic Forum has a new proposal (archive): engineered crops whose roots DO NOT ROT when the plants die, and “capture carbon”.

Their plan (per article) is as follows: • Make us stop eating meat: “Decreasing the amount of land devoted to livestock will reduce methane emissions” • Plant genetically engineered crops in place of pastures, that would capture carbon. “By using a molecule found in avocado and cantaloupe skins, these engineered roots can better resist decomposition, minimizing carbon escape.” So, after we stop eating meat, they plan on liquidating pastures and planting those genetically engineered “carbon-capturing” plants on the pasture land. The plants would have genetically altered polymer roots (archive) that will not decompose. Think of these roots, for the purposes of discussing decomposition, as being made of plastic polymers, like plastic fibers or ropes.

Thus, the WEF plan goes, these GM plants would grow in former pastures, grow polymer roots, and die every year, BUT THE ROOTS WILL NOT DECOMPOSE. Since the roots do not decompose, the soil will gradually become firmly permeated by a thickening tangle of never-disappearing polymer roots. Those roots would hold CO2 forever. Great right? Except that I have some questions: • Will this pasture soil be basically permanently condemned to hosting these genetically modified plants, since no other plants could penetrate the tangles of plastic-like polymer roots until the jammed soil no longer supports any growth at all?

• What will happen to the diversity of native pasture plants that never evolved to grow on soil which is blockaded by these genetically modified, never-rotting plants? • What will happen to insects such as bees, living off native pasture plants and their pollen? • What will happen to worms, no longer able to move through the soil? • What will happen to the birds, who eat those insects and worms? • What will happen to burrowing animals, who no longer would be able to burrow in the tangles? • What if, like Sars-Cov-2, these soil-clogging, never-rotting plants escape and outcompete wild plants everywhere else? Before you dismiss that, please realize that these plants have to outcompete natural pasture plants to take root in the former pastures.

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“You don’t violate the rules of being a staff aide without consequences, after all.”

Cassidy Hutchinson Broke Every Rule Of Being A DC Aide (Van Buren)

Trump’s movement away from his January 6 speech went badly. The former president wanted to go to the Capitol but his Secret Service detail felt it was unsafe and, in a rare gesture, overruled him. Trump was upset and took it out on the two guys in charge, Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel. Back at the office, the guys dutifully recounted what happened, with Cassie all ears (Rule 5: as staff aide, you’re not well-briefed enough to overhear things and make sense of them). She heard what may have been a bit of macho exaggeration by the guys, Trump grabbing the steering wheel and all, perhaps a bit of bravado as everyone was cooling down. She misunderstood what she heard (Rule 6, it happens), setting the story in The Beast, the massive armored stretch Cadillac limo that is the official presidential ride, when whatever happened happened in a Secret Service SUV per video records.

A Secret Service agent would never misremember an SUV for The Beast but an aide would. When the January 6 Committee came ’round, Cassie thought she had a tale to tell, Trump out of control in the vehicle and later throwing his lunch during a tantrum, his ketchup dripping down the wallpaper. The thing is, Cassie did not see either happen. She was repeating a Secret Service war story in the first instance and imagining the details in the second (she actually saw the ketchup dripping but not the throw). Any first-year law student will know those are examples of hearsay and secondhand information, immediately inadmissible as evidence. The Secret Service is ready to call Cassie a liar; Trump already did.

Cassie also claimed to have written a note about a potential Trump statement meant to quell the rioting. In fact, the note was written by White House attorney Eric Herschmann, according to his spokesman. “All sources with direct knowledge and law enforcement have and will confirm that it was written by Mr. Herschmann.” Rule 1 again: Cassie isn’t important enough to write notes for the president. Cassie thought this was her big break, the staff aide who was going to change history. Never mind that she must have come across the definition of hearsay somewhere in her education; never mind that steering wheel grabbing and plate throwing are neither criminal nor impeachable offenses. She broke all the rules for her few minutes on TV, allowing herself to be used by a committee that knew damn well she had not witnessed anything and that swearing “under oath” to the truth of something you don’t know first-hand is impossible.

That leaves Cassie in violation of another rule, one most people learn on the playground: nobody likes a snitch. Anyone check in on how Monica Lewinsky’s career in Washington went? After a quick round on the late night shows, Cassie will disappear from DC-land. You don’t violate the rules of being a staff aide without consequences, after all.

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Not just childhood vaccines.

The CDC Is Breaking Trust in Childhood Vaccination (Tablet)

On June 18, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially recommended Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency responsible for authorizing emergency use of vaccines, it’s the CDC that crafts subsequent messaging, makes specific recommendations, and prioritizes who can, should, or should not get vaccinated. In her briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky strongly urged all parents of the nearly 20 million American children in this age group to vaccinate them as soon as possible. For some parents, Walensky’s briefing came as a huge relief. But if polling from May is anything to go by, a larger number of parents likely greeted the recommendation with skepticism.

Even before the underwhelming trial results came out, only 18% of surveyed parents reported that they planned to vaccinate their babies and toddlers. Nationally, uptake in minors between the ages of 5 and 11 as of June 22, 2022, was 29% receiving two doses, and 36% receiving one, but vaccine requirements for sports, camps, and other activities likely drove an unknown percentage of vaccination in this age group. There remains, moreover, no solid consensus among physicians about the importance of vaccinating healthy children against COVID-19. A survey from December 2021 indicates that as many as 30%-40% may not be recommending COVID vaccination for children ages 5 to 17, to say nothing of infants. A recent editorial in The Lancet expressed uncertainty about whether the benefits of vaccinating healthy 5- to 11-year-olds outweigh the risks, especially in those with a history of infection.

The gap between the CDC’s enthusiasm for vaccinating all children against COVID and that of parents and health care providers is unlikely to be bridged by approval under Emergency Use Authorization. Approval for the COVID vaccines in infants and toddlers is based on two trials that used changes in antibody levels as an estimate of efficacy, but did not assess protection from severe disease, hospitalization, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), important outcomes that parents worry about. In a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meeting on June 28, Pfizer Vice President for Viral Vaccines Kena Swanson even acknowledged that “there is no established correlate” between antibody levels and protection from disease.

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“..it has damaged the health of the vast majority of Australians by making them more vulnerable to infection with Covid..”

Vanishing Vaccine Mandates (Spec.au)

This week, with hardly a whisper from its chief public health officers, Australia largely abandoned its vaccine mandates. For the most part, they remain in force only for those working in health and aged care or with those with disabilities. There has been no explanation given as to why unvaccinated workers can now be ‘welcomed back’ into workplaces. There has been no apology to those who lost their jobs for refusing to be jabbed, or who lost their lives, or their good health, following vaccination. So far, 889 deaths have been reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which may have been caused by vaccination and almost 133,000 people have reported a vaccine injury including more than 140 heart attacks, 360 myocardial infarctions, 500 strokes, 1,400 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 1,500 pulmonary embolisms.

So, why the sudden change in policy? Here’s one possibility. An Israeli study of 5.7 million people, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, shows that unvaccinated people who gained immunity through infection, were far better protected from Covid than people who were double vaccinated. And while the study did not have enough cases of severe Covid to be definitive, it showed that unvaccinated people with natural immunity were also better protected from severe Covid. Thus, after more than two years of advising premiers to abandon their pandemic plans and paralyse the entire country until everyone was immunised with experimental vaccines, it seems that our public health officers were wrong.

Oops. Not only has Australia wasted billions of dollars on lockdowns, it has damaged the health of the vast majority of Australians by making them more vulnerable to infection with Covid. Increased vulnerability to infection might explain why, in NSW, teachers who were forced to be double vaccinated to retain their jobs were off sick for a combined 430,351 days in the first six months of this year, an increase of 145,491 days compared to pre-pandemic levels. It might also explain why excess mortality continues to run at a record high. Excess deaths in March were still almost 10 per cent above the historical baseline and deaths for the first three months of the year were 17.5 per cent higher than the historical average.

This spectacular public health failure was undoubtedly exacerbated by the failure to heed the lessons of early treatment of Covid-19. This time last year, on 26 June, NSW entered its long Delta lockdown. At that time, India was just emerging from its Delta spike. On 26 June 2021, Covid deaths in India were 284 per million, while in Australia they were only 35 per million. A year later on 26 June, deaths per million in Australia and India are identical – 376 per million. What happened?

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But yeah, let’s have aother mandate…

TWICE as Many Vaccine Deaths as Covid Deaths in US Households (DS)

More than twice as many Americans have lost a household member to a Covid vaccine injury as have lost one to Covid. That’s the shocking finding of a new poll of 1,500 Americans carried out by the polling company Pollfish. While 3.6% of respondents said someone in their household had died from COVID-19, 7.9% said one had died as a result of Covid vaccination. The poll also found that 8.5% said they had been injured by their vaccination, 5% that they had sought medical help and 3.3% that they had been hospitalised, the same proportion who said that as a result of vaccination they were no longer able to work a full day or at all. These are percentages of all respondents. If we look only at the 74.3% vaccinated with at least one dose then the figures, as a proportion of vaccinated persons, are 11.5% injured, 6.8% needing medical help, 4.5% hospitalised and 4.5% unable to work.


While these figures are self-reported and there is no control group, since the unvaccinated were not asked about adverse events, they are still alarmingly high. The poll also found that, among those who reported a Covid death in their household, more than twice as many reported that it occurred after the person was vaccinated than before (2.4% vs 1.1%). The proportion who said they had contracted Covid before their vaccination (17.5%) was very similar to the proportion who said they contracted it afterwards (15.7%). These figures are not indicative of a highly effective vaccine against either infection or death. The people polled were a randomly selected, representative sample of the U.S. public, of whom 74.3% were vaccinated, so the sample was not biased towards or against the reporting of vaccine problems.

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May 282022
 


Gustave Courbet The desperate man (self portrait) 1852

 

The New York Times’ Shift on Victory in Ukraine (Walsh)
Russia Controls Almost All of Luhansk, Makes Gains in Eastern Ukraine (Antiwar)
Will NATO Aggression Force Russia to Extend the Special Operation? (Batiushka)
Dear Ursula, You Are Dead Wrong (Vilches)
Childhood’s End (Kunstler)
US Seizes Tanker Full of Iranian Oil Near Greece (Antiwar)
Iran Seizes 2 Greek Tankers In Persian Gulf, Tensions Spike (K.)
What COVID Jabs Are Doing to the Immune System, How the Injured Can Heal (ET)
The Three Ring Circus of Today’s Political Scandals (RCP)
Stolen Elections: A Tale of Two D.C. Courtrooms (Kelly)
Britain Is Paving The Way For Gene-edited Food (G.)
More Middle-class People Flock To Food Banks In Brussels (BT)

 

 

 

 

Islamabad

 

 

Ass covering.

The New York Times’ Shift on Victory in Ukraine (Walsh)

On May 11 The New York Times ran an article documenting that all was not going well for the U.S. in Ukraine, and a companion opinion piece hinting that a shift in direction might be in order. Then on May 19, the editorial board, the full Magisterium of the Times, moved from hints to a clarion call for a change in direction, declaring that “total victory” over Russia is not possible and that Ukraine will have to negotiate a peace in a way that reflects a “realistic assessment” and the “limits” of U.S. commitment. The Times serves as one the main shapers of public opinion for the elite and so its pronouncements are not to be taken lightly. The editorial contains the following key passages:

“In March, this board argued that the message from the United States and its allies to Ukrainians and Russians alike must be: No matter how long it takes, Ukraine will be free. …” “That goal cannot shift, but in the end, it is still not in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions.” And, to ensure that there is no ambiguity, it went on: “A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal. … Russia remains too strong…” Then, to make certain that President Joe Biden and the Ukrainians understand what they should do, it adds:

“… Mr. Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain.” As Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky read those words, he must surely have begun to sweat. The voice of his masters was telling him that he and Ukraine will have to make some sacrifices for the U.S. to save face. As he contemplates his options, his thoughts must surely run back to February 2014, and the U.S.-backed Maidan coup that culminated in the hasty exit of President Viktor Yanukovych from his office, his country and almost from this earth.

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Sending more weapons will only create more misery.

Russia Controls Almost All of Luhansk, Makes Gains in Eastern Ukraine (Antiwar)

Russia continues to make territorial gains in eastern Ukraine and now controls 95% of Ukraine’s Luhansk oblast, which makes up the northern half of the Donbas region. The pro-Kyiv governor of Luhansk said Friday that Ukrainian forces might be forced to retreat from the near-surrounded cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, the last hold-outs in the region. “We will have enough strength and resources to defend ourselves. However, it is possible that in order not to be surrounded we will have to retreat,” said Governor Serhiy Gaidai. As the war grinds on in the east, Ukrainian officials are starting to admit that their military is facing a dire situation and are pleading for the US and its allies to send more advanced weapons.


Ukrainian volunteer soldiers told The Washington Post that they felt abandoned by the government in Kyiv as they were fighting in the east. In a video posted on Telegram, Ukrainian volunteers said they weren’t properly trained and didn’t have sufficient equipment or support to fight on the front lines. “We are being sent to certain death,” a volunteer soldier said in the Telegram video. “We are not alone like this, we are many.” The Post spoke with a volunteer company commander and his lieutenant who retreated to a hotel away from the front. After the interview, the men were arrested by Ukrainian military security services and accused of desertion.

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“If the NATO vassals have any common sense, they will dissolve NATO altogether..”

Will NATO Aggression Force Russia to Extend the Special Operation? (Batiushka)

Finally, we wonder if the Russian Federation will continue to tolerate the aggressive statements and actions of anti-Russian representatives of the mercenary US-installed elites in Bulgaria and Greece? If the Bulgarian and Greek elites were cleansed of those who will ‘do anything for a million dollars’ and their countries turned back into pro-Russian territories, it would mean that all of the Eastern half of Europe could at last return to being a pro-Russian, NATO-free buffer zone. This zone would of course include Hungary as well as Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is, most of ex-Yugoslavia, where most people and some of the governing classes are pro-Russian anyway.

As for Central Europe (here we include the Czech Lands, East Germany and Austria, as well as Slovenia, Croatia, and even Albania) and Western Europe, their populations would simply have to cope with being cut off raw materials. This means cut off from Russian oil, gas, paper pulp, fertilisers, cereals and minerals and the eventual possibility of the poorest among them facing starvation and next winter hypothermia because of their ruling classes’ anti-Russian sanctions. Unless, of course, those populations decided to revolt and liberate themselves from their neo-feudal, US-installed colonial elites. Even the offshore UK, with its buffoonish, New York-born Prime Minister Johnson, could yet object and reject. The economic situation in Europe is becoming serious.

Naturally, we cannot say what will happen. What we can say very clearly, however, is that the US elite and its NATO minions are playing with fire. As the dollar slips on a daily basis, now below even 57 to the rouble for the first time since 2015, some Western bankers are beginning to panic. If the NATO vassals have any common sense, they will dissolve NATO altogether, as should have happened in 1991, when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. However, as they say, the problem with common sense is that it is very rare. It is rather like intelligence, which is very limited – whereas the capacity for stupidity is utterly unlimited….

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Russian oil & gas [..] ..without which Europe would cease to exist as we know it with some countries becoming failed states..

Dear Ursula, You Are Dead Wrong (Vilches)

Long ago, large fuel-consumer yet very fuel-poor Europe (Franz) married super fuel-rich Russia (Natasha) and together soon happily parented plenty of babies that have now grown-up and crave for Natasha´s delicious food. So the whole European über-successful export-based business model was conceived, designed, built, operated and developed on the basis of the cheap and plentiful ´Russian fuels´ premise. That is why every EU government has repeatedly failed to find the architectonics — let alone effectively construct — a realistic energy strategy that does not depend exclusively on Russia´s capability as an EXTRA-ordinary and reliable commodities exporter, most specially fuels. Europe´s economic success has always been based — and continues to be — in having available abundant high quality Russian energy with the enormous advantage of smooth Druzbha pipeline 24x7x365 door-to-door delivery.

Hereinafter please find out why Europe has no choice other than to keep importing lots of Russian oil & gas. It´d be technically impossible to do otherwise requiring a minimum of 20 years at probably more than twice the price, or even far more if the required monumental investments are priced in. Today, on the one hand we have the current Russian Urals blend oils which shall be briefly described herein. On the other we can now only have unknown Baltic oil blends that cannot be described because they do not exist and quite possibly may never exist, at least as needed. Actually, the only effective possibility would be to build from scratch ad hoc matching refineries and other chemical plants in order to accept still-undefined and most difficult to process Baltic oil blend feedstocks. You read it here first…

Energy security involves complex interactive underpinnings which demand a clear and well-focused mindset. Accordingly, below please find a short list of requirements for European oil imports (90%) today mostly sourced in Russia and without which Europe would cease to exist as we know it with some countries becoming failed states. For logistical reasons, the list below should later be expanded and adapted to the specific location of a given facility and/or other individual needs. A leading case in point would be the Schwedt Refinery as the largest in all of Europe and with a most special make-it-or-break-it importance as explained later. Without a fully functional and constantly well-supplied Schwedt Refinery, neither Berlin nor the immense surrounding Brandenburg state are viable… nor would the Berlin international airport and very large areas of Western Poland survive as they are today. I kid you not.

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“Truth and beauty have gone outlaw. Bad faith and wickedness rule, led by a Party of Chaos.”

Childhood’s End (Kunstler)

America has become a malfunctioning pageant without feasible roles that children can realistically project themselves into. What ten-year-old longs to become the Burger King fry-o-later boss in a brown apron and an asinine cardboard crown? Rather, they are prompted to aspire to become sports star millionaires, of which there are perhaps fewer than 5,000 positions in a land of 340-million. By age twelve, they probably comprehend the unlikelihood of that outcome, or of becoming the next Kardashian… or Spiderman. (Superheroes are supplied by the entertainment cartels to occupy the imaginative realm of children because American culture is bereft of reality-based roles worth aspiring to.)

In this tumult of cultural impoverishment, psychotic grandiosity creeps in. Be big if you can’t be anything else. Hence, one achievable role for young persons in American life is mass murderer. It is a way of becoming important, of having an effect on other people and society in general. Your name may be forgotten, but the act itself will endure in the collective memory of a people. It will be some kind of a mark in history, even better remembered, perhaps, than whoever played third-base for the Atlanta Braves in 1994… or the woman who once capered down the red carpet at the Oscars in a dress fashioned on a slaughtered swan.

The mayhem unleashed in a school shooting is just the rectified essence of the manifold derangements in our national life. Everything is out-of-whack, including our perception of what’s going on and what it means. There is almost nothing left of childhood in this land, in the way of young, unformed creatures assisted by adults who love them into a future worth being part of. We have forgotten how to be grateful for coming into this world at all, leaving us unworthy of being here. The quality of virtue, meaning that some things and some doings are recognizably better than others, was deceitfully replaced by the equity of nothing being allowed to be better than anything else. Truth and beauty have gone outlaw. Bad faith and wickedness rule, led by a Party of Chaos. So, really, what do you expect? And what do you deserve?

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“Iran believes, and not unfairly, that the oil was just stolen from them..”

US Seizes Tanker Full of Iranian Oil Near Greece (Antiwar)

Fresh off of the US targeting a series of companies involved in an Iran-linked oil smuggling network, the US has now seized an oil tanker near Greece, taking the Iranian oil within to be sent to the US. The oil was on a Russian-operated ship, which had been singled out for US targeting in February. It was then called the Pegas. The company renamed the ship the Lana. Greece had impounded the Pegas and its Russian crew last month over the invasion of Ukraine, but ultimately released it. Neither the US nor Russia is commenting. Greece says the US informed them the oil was Iranian, and that the US hired a different ship to take the oil to America. Iran has summoned the Greek charges d’affaires and called the incident a “clear example of piracy.”


The US accused the tanker of loading 700,000 Bbls of oil from Iran in August 2021. The tanker mostly carried oil to China. The seizure of the tanker, and oil, comes amid tensions on the ongoing nuclear talks. Iran believes, and not unfairly, that the oil was just stolen from them, and the US position, while yet to be public, is that the oil is now theirs. It’s not a great precedent, but generally Iran can’t do much about it, and the US is keen to have the oil.

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Surprise!!

Iran Seizes 2 Greek Tankers In Persian Gulf, Tensions Spike (K.)

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized two Greek oil tankers on Friday in the Persian Gulf, just after Athens assisted the US in seizing an Iranian oil tanker over alleged sanctions violations in the Mediterranean Sea. The Guard’s announcement comes as tensions remain high between Iran and the West over stalled negotiations regarding its rapidly advancing nuclear program. The Guard issued a statement on its website, accusing the unnamed tankers of unspecified violations. Greece’s Foreign Ministry said it made a strong demarche to the Iranian ambassador in Athens over the “violent taking over of two Greek-flagged ships” in the Persian Gulf. “These acts effectively amount to acts of piracy,” a ministry statement said.


The ministry called for the immediate release of the vessels and their crews, and said these acts would have “particularly negative consequences” in bilateral relations and in Iran’s relations with the European Union, of which Greece is a member. The ministry’s statement said that earlier Friday, an Iranian helicopter landed on the Greek-flagged Delta Poseidon in international waters some 22 nautical miles off the coast of Iran. “Armed men then took the crew captive,” it said, adding that two Greek nationals were among the crew. “A similar incident has been reported on another Greek-flagged vessel, that was carrying seven Greek citizens, close to the coast of Iran,” the ministry said. It did not identify the nationalities of the other crew onboard the vessels. Industry sources confirmed to Lloyd’s List that the suezmaxes Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior, both under Greek flag, were seized.

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“..catastrophic adverse events such as the destruction of the immune system..”

What COVID Jabs Are Doing to the Immune System, How the Injured Can Heal (ET)

“Vaccines are safe and effective” has been the ongoing irrational mantra of the past two years, recycled from the last two decades of pushing children’s vaccination programs. It’s more than a failed hypothesis—the mantra has become dogma, a belief system that prevents people from getting the help they need for their jab-induced spike injuries or for those of their loved ones. MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff and naturopathic oncologist Greg Nigh’s paper, “Worse than the Disease” describes in detail the unintended consequences of the jabs against COVID-19, including catastrophic adverse events such as the destruction of the immune system.

Prominent immunologists, vaccinologists, and researchers from every clinical expertise are now providing evidence to support COVID-19 mRNA injectable products are causing immune system dysregulation. Explaining the complicated mechanism of jab-induced spike injury to the general public is not an easy task when governments still list vaccination as the number one way out of the pandemic while a deluge of campaigns are out to discredit doctors and scientists who want to recognize and help those who have been injured. With such little support from the establishment, and almost a black market for real medical guidance on jab-induced spike injury methods, people are desperate to know—how can the injured heal?

Before getting started on healing, one must first know a few key things about the spike protein’s unnatural injection into the body’s immune system. Most doctors and scientists understand the power and complexity of the immune system. The immune response is divided into innate immunity, the enormously effective biology we were born with, and adaptive immunity, which acquires training following exposure to pathogens. The innate system fights against foreign bodies, injuries, and pathogens by using natural bacteria-killing substances, skin protection on the outside, mucus membrane protection on the inside, and the first responders: scavenger cells or natural killers. The body is already wired to take on whatever intruder tries to break in. They have the intelligence to know which invaders belong in the body, and which ones are out to cause trouble.

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“Baker testified that he was “100% confident” Sussmann had repeated his disclaimer at the beginning of their meeting..”

The Three Ring Circus of Today’s Political Scandals (RCP)

Modern political scandals, like Caesar’s Gaul, are divided into three parts. The first is the actual malfeasance. That might be taking bribes, lying to federal agents, leaking classified materials, sexual misconduct, selling political access, whatever. The second part is the hyper-partisan involvement of Congress and, often, federal agencies, all eager to score points for their side. The third part is the media’s role, which goes beyond bias to include active promotion of political goals. Federal agencies, like all bureaucratic institutions, have always tried to increase their power and preserve their autonomy. What’s different today is that the bureaucrats, and often their entire agencies, are frequently partisan players. That’s disheartening but understandable.

One party is clearly the “party of government” and the party of experts. Most educated professionals, including bureaucrats and journalists, identify with that party. Filled with partisan “civil servants,” these agencies routinely tilt investigations (or kill them outright) to advance political goals – the same ones as their favored party. For the same reasons, they leak insider information to friendly media. Predictably, the opposing party tries to score points by attacking them for doing so. That brings us to the third element of these scandals: the “friendly media.” Mainstream outlets are not just biased. They often become outright partisans when a potential scandal could hurt conservatives or populists. That bias degrades what was once called “hard news.” Today, neutral reporting is as antiquated as rotary phones, conservative Democrats, and liberal Republicans.

The media’s bias, both left and right, is amplified by the fragmentation of the digital landscape. That fragmentation encourages each outlet to appeal to its self-selected audience and avoid alienating them with uncomfortable information.The trial of Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann illustrates how modern scandals have devolved into this dismal three-ring circus. Last Thursday, the FBI’s former general counsel, James Baker, testified at length that his old friend Sussmann had requested an urgent private meeting and provided the bureau damning, confidential information. Sussmann claimed he did so solely “as a good citizen,” not on behalf of any client. Sussmann made the same claim in a text message to Baker the night before.

Baker testified that he was “100% confident” Sussmann had repeated his disclaimer at the beginning of their meeting. (Before Special Counsel John Durham’s team concluded their case on Wednesday, they showed the jury that Sussmann had actually billed the Clinton campaign for that meeting.) Baker’s testimony was especially powerful because he was clearly reluctant to provide it.

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Two separate justice systems. That is dangerous.

Stolen Elections: A Tale of Two D.C. Courtrooms (Kelly)

Trump’s first two years in office were severely hobbled by the nonstop collusion drama as Mueller’s team systematically rounded up Trump allies on unrelated charges to produce breaking headlines and speculation that Trump would be the next one in handcuffs. Even after Mueller in 2019 finally admitted his prosecutors found no evidence of election-altering collusion, 84 percent of Democrats still believed Trump had been in cahoots with the Russians. For four years, Democrats proudly displayed #NotMyPresident hashtags on social media platforms. And to this day, Hillary Clinton insists the 2016 election “was not on the level.” But that sort of talk has not been designated the “Big Lie” by the news media or criminalized by the Justice Department.

Any suggestion that the 2016 election was “rigged” or “stolen” remains safely under the purview of protected speech and in many quarters, is still considered an indisputable fact. Not so for those who doubt the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Which is why, just a few floors below Judge Cooper’s courtroom, Timothy Hale is on trial for his participation in the protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. While the wheels of justice turn excruciatingly slow for Trump-Russian collusion schemers such as Sussmann, the government has moved at lightning speed to round up dissidents of the Biden regime. More than 800 Americans who protested Biden’s election on January 6 face criminal charges; the Justice Department announces new arrests every week.

Unlike Michael Sussmann, who walked free for five years following the commission of his alleged crime, Tim Hale has been in jail under pre-trial detention orders for more than 16 months. Yet Hale’s alleged offenses were far less damaging to the country than the crimes Sussmann and his accomplices are accused of committing. On January 6, Hale, an Army reservist, drove to Washington after working the night shift at a New Jersey Naval station to hear President Trump speak. Later that afternoon, Hale walked to Capitol Hill. He entered the Capitol building around 2:14 p.m. through a set of open doors; Hale carried no weapon and didn’t assault anyone. On at least two occasions, Hale is seen interacting with police officers, who did not attempt to arrest either him or those around him.

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The smell of Schwab is all over this.

Britain Is Paving The Way For Gene-edited Food (G.)

At the height of the anti-GM movement, in 1999, the then head of Greenpeace UK, Peter Melchett, was charged with theft and criminal damage after scything down a field of genetically modified maize. In a decisive victory for the anti-GM movement, Lord Melchett and 27 fellow activists were acquitted by a jury in what many took as a measure of the profound negative public sentiment towards GM technology. More than 20 years on, as the government proposes relaxing regulations on gene-edited products, experts say the public view on the technology has, if not entirely warmed, at least softened.“I think most people now have what I call the Catherine Tait view: ‘Am I bovvered?’,” said Prof Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury Laboratory, a plant research institute based in Norfolk.

Scientists such as Jones welcome the new legislation that could pave the way for a host of technologically enhanced products from vitamin D-enriched tomatoes to anti-carcinogenic wheat. But experts also question whether the technology will really deliver the boost to food security and environmental benefits promised by the government. One point of contention is the distinction between gene-edited products, which will be permitted, and genetically modified organisms, which will still be subject to strict legislation. Newer gene-editing techniques – termed “precision breeding” in the bill – involve precise changes to single letters of the genetic code. Such changes can be achieved far less efficiently through years of cross-breeding. But the legislation will not immediately open the way for first generation genetic modification (GM) techniques, which involve taking an entire gene from one plant and inserting it into another.

“I’m a bit uncomfortable with the way this has been presented to the public,” said Jones. “It comes across as saying ‘Don’t worry about this nasty GM because we can do what we want with this lovely gene-editing method’. It leaves intact the false impression that there’s anything wrong with GM.” Jones said the bill may be a reasonable “tactical compromise” that could pave the way for a further relaxation of GM rules. “At least I’m hoping that’s what the government is thinking,” he added. The distinction has also annoyed some environmental campaigners. “Gene editing is just a subset of GM,” said Kierra Box from Friends of the Earth. The charity, she said, maintained a “fundamental opposition” to genetic modification because it was not convinced the technology could deliver environmentally friendly solutions. “If we’re interfering with the genetic codes in nature, we don’t know how those things respond,” she added.

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Brussels is a very rich city. What’s going on in the poorer cities?

More Middle-class People Flock To Food Banks In Brussels (BT)

Due to high inflation, energy costs and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people in Belgium have to rely on government support and food banks. It is no longer only the poorest in the city, but also middle-class people that can no longer afford groceries. Last year, a record of nearly 180,000 people per month were in need and appealed to the food banks. That number is likely to continue to rise for the rest of 2022, due to high living costs and energy prices, Bruzz reports. In recent months, the situation in Brussels has been deteriorating, according to the Sint-Vincensius association that distributes food parcels.

The beginning of this year saw a 15% increase in distributed parcels compared to pre-Covid times. The 34,000 food parcels that were distributed have also been delivered to different types of people: “What is striking is that new profiles have been appearing in our collection points since the end of last year,” says Frederick De Gryse, General Manager of the Sint-Vincensius Association. “In addition to Ukrainians, many freelancers, single mothers, people from the cultural sector and many other middle class people have arrived.” However, for the majority of newcomers, that does not come without feelings of guilt and fear of stigma, Bruzz found when speaking to people at the food bank collection centre in Schaerbeek.

54-year-old accountant Karel is ashamed that he is going to get a food package, as he does not want to take the place of the poorest of the poor. “For months when I can afford it, I don’t go to the food bank; others need it more.” Marie (52), a single mother of two dependent children, wholeheartedly agrees. “I am a working woman, have an income, have all the papers and yet I have to go to the food bank. I feel like I’m taking something from people who need it more.”

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May 022021
 


Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Triumph of Death c1562

 

People In England Urged To Be Patient; Hugging May Soon Be Allowed (G.)
12 Million Possible Adverse Events After Vaccination in UK, Europe, US (BOOM)
Its Your Fear, Nobody Elses (Denninger)
Pfizer Developing Pill To Treat Covid-19, May Hit Market By End Of 2021 (RT)
The Biggest Vaccine Deal in History: EU to Scoop 1.8 Billion Pfizer Shots (GR)
Obesity Increases Risk Of Severe Covid-19, Particularly In Young People (RT)
Ike’s 1950s America Beat The ‘Asian Flu’ With Science & Common Sense (NF)
Covid Lockdowns Cost Countless Jobs, Don’t Appear To Have Saved Lives (NYP)
Florida To Impose Hefty Fines On Tech Giants That Deplatform Politicians (RT)
Twitter Censors Accounts To Spoon-Feed The World Establishment Narratives (RT)
Victoria Nuland Is Now Highest-Ranking Member of US Foreign Service
US Interferes in Mexico’s Phaseout of Glyphosate and GMO Corn (CD)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything that’s wrong in the world today in one headline. If a government pretends it can “allow” hugging, or not, fire it.

People In England Urged To Be Patient; Hugging May Soon Be Allowed (G.)

People are being urged to remain patient before the next relaxation of Covid lockdown restrictions as there is still a possibility for coronavirus cases to “reignite”, amid reports that family and friends in England could be allowed to hug in just over a fortnight. The success of the vaccine rollout and sharp reduction in coronavirus cases and deaths has led ministers to support the move, according to the Times. If approved, this would mark the first time that people in England have been allowed to have physical contact outside of their household or bubble for more than a year. The government had said it would keep hugging under review as England approaches the third stage of the roadmap out of lockdown on 17 May. It has not yet made a formal announcement on the decision.


However, the former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport warned that “the virus has not gone away” because many UK adults have still not had their first vaccine jab. “We are on the cusp of being able to move to the next step of relaxation; it’s absolutely right that vaccines have been spectacularly successful but not everybody is protected,” Walport, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We’ve got 35% of adults who are not vaccinated and 60% who have only had one dose and the truth is the virus has not gone away.” “The mistake that has been made repeatedly, really, is relaxing just slightly too early. What we need to do is get the numbers right down. It’s important that we don’t act as an incubator for variant cases that might be able to resist immunity.”

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Extrapolation.

12 Million Possible Adverse Events After Vaccination in UK, Europe, US (BOOM)

Total Adverse Events reported in the US now number 118,800

Total Adverse Events Reported in the UK now number 725,079

Total Adverse Events Reported in Europe now number 354,177

Total Adverse Events Reported in those three regions = 1,198,056

It is clear that the UK reported numbers of adverse events is far greater proportional to population than those reported in the US and in Europe. If we assume that the UK numbers are, in fact, more accurate as a representation of reported events on a population basis and then extrapolate from those UK rates, then we can guess at the total numbers that may be mis-reported in the US and in Europe. UK Population is 68 Million. Thus the Adverse Events per Million population there is 10,662. BOOM advises readers to sit down now to avoid shock. Such extrapolations reveal a (theoretically possible) Total Adverse Events number to date of almost 8 Million in Europe (where the population is estimated at 741 million) and 3.5 Million in the United States (population 332 million).

This generates a theoretically possible total of over 12 MILLION adverse events in the UK, Europe and the US combined to date. And this is after only 4 – 5 months of so-called “vaccination rollouts”. The Total Adverse Events worldwide may be greater than 20 MILLION already using the same theoretical methodology. Total Deaths worldwide may be of the order 20,000 already (or more). It is estimated that 90% of adverse events are not officially reported. Thus, those numbers may be TEN times higher in reality. The theoretical number of 200 million possible adverse events including deaths is staggering in such a short time frame. Approval for these pharmaceutical products by the US FDA is for emergency use only. The clinical trials conducted in late 2020 were conducted over just a few months.

Thus, they arguably have the status of an experimental vaccine with long term side effect rates unknown. The Nuremberg Code requires an individual’s informed consent before receiving experimental medical interventions. And that principle is in the 1964 Helsinki Declaration, which has been codified at Federal and State level in the USA. Australia has also ratified this declaration as have many other nations. The Declaration of Helsinki is an international document that influences how research is conducted in all countries. The Declaration of Helsinki was born from the history of abuses of human research subjects. Informed consent is one of the hallmarks of ethical research and ensures that individuals can make decisions that are in their best interests. Are people being adequately informed?

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Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine

“..what none of them care about is relative and absolute risk of both Covid-19 and the shots yet you have to be insane to accept a risk from a shot that is greater than the risk from the disease itself.”

Its Your Fear, Nobody Elses (Denninger)

We knew in March of last year that not everyone was susceptible to severe disease and death. We knew it because a cruise ship full of old, fat, morbid people, of which nearly every cruise ship is on a wildly over-represented basis didn’t have everyone on board drop like flies. Yes, some people got sick and a few died. But nowhere near everyone got sick, and even fewer died. Indeed, only about one in five got sick. We didn’t know why everyone wasn’t susceptible to clinical disease or worse but we knew this factually in March of 2020 yet Fauci, the CDC and indeed many other so-called “experts” intentionally lied and called this a “novel virus” to which everyone was at severe risk of serious disease and death. Nope.

Now we know why; 81% of the population of the planet has cross-immunity which is at least partially protective. None of these “advocates” and so-called “experts” care about how we got that immunity and in fact they deny it exists despite hard, scientific proof. It’s why every single one of us is alive and why we’ve all survived thus far both individually and as a species. Adaptive cross-immunity only comes from your immune system fighting off some infection. We all have done it since we were infants; indeed, the reason breast milk is a superior means of feeding a baby is that the mother passes to her infant a wildly-effective and supercharged bolster of antibodies, a “primer” if you will, in the first feedings which are called “colostrum.” It’s so important that we’ve documented over the years that children fed from the breast are wildly less-likely to get sick, including diseases that can be and sometimes are fatal to said children.

Do these “advocates and experts” propose that we jail, shun, bar from employment or even jail any woman who refuses to feed her child from the breast, or who fails to put in sufficient effort to do so if she finds it difficult or simply inconvenient? Or do we consider it a valid personal choice to reach for the Similac? These people point out that the shots claim to be 90% effective and it sucks if you’re in the 10%. Well, true enough. But what none of them care about is relative and absolute risk of both Covid-19 and the shots yet you have to be insane to accept a risk from a shot that is greater than the risk from the disease itself. That is, VAERS says there are 3,607 deaths associated with these vaccines over four months time, while the next-largest set is for the HIBV vaccine with 1,363.

But the HIB vaccine has been given routinely to children since 1987, a period of 34 years, meaning that said 1,363 associated deaths come to just 40 annually and it is the most-dangerous “next in line”; all others are less so! Note that HIB, prior to vaccination, was approximately three to five times as deadly as Covid-19 generally, killing between 3-6% of all who got it and virtually everyone who got it and died of it was a young child with decades of life ahead of them, not someone in a nursing home where the average life expectancy at admission is six months. Yes, it sucks if you die in a nursing home of Covid-19 but this does not change the fact that 53% of the time if you’re admitted to a nursing home you’re dead of something within the next six months. Dead is dead when you get down to it and we all die exactly once.

If my risk of death over six months time is 53% I’m not especially scared of a virus; yeah, it might get me but the odds are that something will cause my demise over the next 180 days one way or another. Put this up against the Covid shots which are carrying roughly 100 times the risk of associated death for a disease that, if you catch it, is much less likely to kill you in the general sense. Indeed, among healthy persons the risk of death is not 1/5th that of HIB which carries a risk of 1/25 (~4%) but rather approximately 1/50,000, including specifically among children under 18. That is among healthy people Covid-19 is two thousand times less likely to kill you than HIB is to kill a healthy baby.

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Stop the vaccines, there’s no need for them. Or wait: what’s in these pills? Is it ivermectin? With mRNA thrown in? We’ll never know, they’ll claim patent or something.

Pfizer Developing Pill To Treat Covid-19, May Hit Market By End Of 2021 (RT)

Pfizer announced this week that, if development of its pill to treat Covid-19 infection continues at the current pace, and if regulatory approval is quick, the medication could be on the market in the US by the end of 2021.
Pfizer launched an early trial in March of the oral antiviral which tackles Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, by limiting the availability of the enzyme protease which the virus needs to replicate. “If all goes well, and we implement the same speed that we are, and if regulators do the same, and they are, I hope that (it will be available) by the end of the year,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. By limiting the coronavirus’ capacity to self-replicate, the drug would theoretically be able to stave off the worst effects of Covid-19, the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ which overwhelms the human body’s immune system and lands people in the intensive care unit.


With a severely weakened viral enemy, thanks to the Pfizer medication, the human immune system should be able to fight off the infection on its own. According to Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of worldwide research, development, and medical, the new drug could be prescribed “at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care.” The only available antiviral drug authorized for treating Covid-19 at present is Remdesivir, but this must be administered via injection by a healthcare professional. Were Pfizer’s new oral medication to gain regulatory approval, it could be administered at a patient’s local pharmacy, thus freeing up medical resources and reducing hospital visits in the process. “You could get it at home, and that could be a game-changer,” Bourla added. The oral treatment may also be effective against emerging mutations and variants, though more testing is needed to definitively prove this.

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Von der Leyen screwed up bigly so she goes biglier.

The Biggest Vaccine Deal in History: EU to Scoop 1.8 Billion Pfizer Shots (GR)

On Thursday, the European Union is working to finalize a deal with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer-BioNTech for what is called the biggest COVID 19 vaccine deal in the world. The New York Times reports that the deal, which has not been signed just yet, will provide the EU with 1.8 billion vaccines through 2023. This would be the largest vaccine deal in history and it may go a long way in relieving the bloc’s struggling vaccination campaign. Already Pfizer had agreed to provide 300 million doses that the pharmaceutical giant has already promised the EU in a previous agreement. Pfizer and BioNTech agreed to supply an additional 200 million doses of their vaccine in February as well. The process began through extensive personal diplomacy between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla.

According to the Times report, von der Leyen and Bourla exchanged countless texts and phone calls for a month before the deal was drafted. The two first came into serious contact in January 2020 before the pace of their interaction picked up in February. Bourla explained in an interview that such conversations with a high ranking government official were not at all uncommon for him Bourla said he and von der Leyen had “developed a deep trust, because we got into deep discussions.” Previously, the EU was reliant on the British drug company AstraZeneca for its supply of vaccines. However, the bloc initiated a lawsuit this week against the company for delays in delivery of the vaccine. AstraZeneca had at one time committed to deliver 120 million vaccine doses by the end of March but in actuality only delivered 29.7 million inoculations by that deadline.

The EU has almost 448 million residents — more than one hundred million more than the US population of 328 million. The relationship hit another snag when it was reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine may be linked to some recipients suffering from blood clots. After the use of the vaccine had been paused by the EU after reports of thrombosis and death in those receiving the vaccine, the drug regulator admitted that it found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare clotting disorder.

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Chronic inflammation.

Obesity Increases Risk Of Severe Covid-19, Particularly In Young People (RT)

People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from serious cases of coronavirus, with the associated risk especially prevalent among those younger than 40, according to a new study. Researchers from Oxford University used data from a database of nearly seven million English patients aged 20 years and older to examine whether there was a correlation between body mass index (BMI) and severe cases of the virus. They found that the likelihood of Covid-19 leading to hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death increased with weight. However, the risk was far greater for overweight patients between the ages of 20 and 39. On the other hand, high BMI did not appear to affect whether those aged 80 to 100 suffered from serious cases of the virus.

People with a BMI above 23 – the upper limit of the health range – are at risk of a more serious infection, while each one-point increase in BMI raises the chances of hospitalization by 5% and of ICU admission by 10%, the study concluded. The findings were published on Thursday in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, and represent one of the largest studies to date on how body weight affects Covid outcomes. The study’s lead author, Carmen Piernas, said that it’s possible that body fat may potentially cause a higher viral load for younger patients, but that more research was needed into the matter. Severe cases among the elderly are likely linked to weakened immune systems or pre-existing conditions, making weight a less noticeable factor.

Piernas and her colleagues noted that their observations could be used to guide public health initiatives aimed at curtailing serious cases of the disease. “Excess weight is a modifiable risk factor, and investment in the treatment of overweight and obesity and long-term preventive strategies could help reduce the severity of Covid-19 disease,” they wrote. Paul Aveyard, a co-author of the study, said that it was “highly plausible” that weight loss reduces the risk of serious coronavirus infection. The research adds to a growing list of scientific literature pointing to a correlation between weight and likelihood of severe Covid-19. A study published last year in Nature found that obesity significantly increased the risk of coronavirus-linked death. People with a BMI over 40 were at 92% higher risk of dying from the virus compared with people with a healthy BMI between 18.5-25.

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Adapted from Niall Ferguson’s new book, “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe,”

Ike’s 1950s America Beat The ‘Asian Flu’ With Science & Common Sense (NF)

The first cases of Asian flu in the U.S. occurred early in June 1957, among the crews of ships berthed at Newport, R.I. Cases also appeared among the 53,000 boys attending the Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge, Penn. As Scout troops traveled around the country in July and August, they spread the flu. In July there was a massive outbreak in Tangipahoa Parish, La. By the end of the summer, cases had also appeared in California, Ohio, Kentucky and Utah. It was the start of the school year that made the Asian flu an epidemic. The Communicable Disease Center, as the CDC was then called, estimated that approximately 45 million people—about 25% of the population—became infected with the new virus in October and November 1957. Younger people experienced the highest infection rates, from school-age children up to adults age 35-40.

Adults over 65 accounted for 60% of influenza deaths, an abnormally low share. Why were young Americans disproportionately vulnerable to the Asian flu? Part of the explanation is that they had not been as exposed as older Americans to earlier strains of influenza. But the scale and incidence of any contagion are functions of both the properties of the pathogen itself and the structure of the social network that it attacks. The year 1957 was in many ways the dawn of the American teenager. The first baby boomers born after the end of World War II turned 13 the following year. Summer camps, school buses and unprecedented social mingling after school ensured that between September 1957 and March 1958 the proportion of teenagers infected with the virus rose from 5% to 75%.

The policy response of President Dwight Eisenhower could hardly have been more different from the response of 2020. Eisenhower did not declare a state of emergency. There were no state lockdowns and, despite the first wave of teenage illness, no school closures. Sick students simply stayed at home, as they usually did. Work continued more or less uninterrupted. With workplaces open, the Eisenhower administration saw no need to borrow to the hilt to fund transfers and loans to citizens and businesses. The president asked Congress for a mere $2.5 million ($23 million in today’s inflation-adjusted terms) to provide additional support to the Public Health Service. There was a recession that year, but it had little if anything to do with the pandemic. The Congressional Budget Office has described the Asian flu as an event that “might not be distinguishable from the normal variation in economic activity.”

President Eisenhower’s decision to keep the country open in 1957-58 was based on expert advice. When the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) concluded in August 1957 that “there is no practical advantage in the closing of schools or the curtailment of public gatherings as it relates to the spread of this disease,” Eisenhower listened. As a CDC official later recalled: “Measures were generally not taken to close schools, restrict travel, close borders or recommend wearing masks….ASTHO encouraged home care for uncomplicated influenza cases to reduce the hospital burden and recommended limitations on hospital admissions to the sickest patients….Most were advised simply to stay home, rest and drink plenty of water and fruit juices.”

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“By March 8, 2021, for example, New Jersey had recorded 2,656 deaths per 1 million residents, while New York had 2,500 per 1 million residents. South Dakota had 2,149 deaths per 1 million residents, but loose-rules Utah had just 617.”

Covid Lockdowns Cost Countless Jobs, Don’t Appear To Have Saved Lives (NYP)

We’ve locked down the economy instead of the virus. Jobs are recovering slower in New York and other states holding on to stringent COVID-19 restrictions than in states that fully reopened their economies, even though continued lockdown measures don’t appear to be saving lives, an ongoing study by WalletHub shows. Measures like limiting travel, keeping restaurants operating below capacity and leaving non-essential businesses closed have kept unemployment in New York State among the highest in the nation, while states with fewer restrictions are seeing jobs bounce back faster from the pandemic-induced recession, the study shows. Tragically, the data also suggests lockdowns didn’t do much to help save lives throughout the pandemic, while it’s clear that they sent millions to the unemployment line.

WalletHub started ranking states’ lockdowns in May 2020, using a formula that assigns a numerical value to mask mandates, large-gathering limits, school closings, “shelter in place” requirements and other measures put in place to try to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The rankings did not account for things like population density, the close quarters in urban households or use of public transportation, all of which play a role in virus transmission. At the beginning of the pandemic, with the metro area besieged by the virus, WalletHub scored New Jersey’s lockdown measures the strictest in the country, followed closely by New York.

On the other end of the rankings, South Dakota, which imposed almost no restrictions, sat on top of the openness ranking, with Utah second. Over the course of the year, states imposed and eased a variety of restrictions in response to the level of virus cases and COVID-19 deaths. Where lockdowns were lifted, unemployment fell, but the restrictions didn’t seem to nudge death rates. By March 8, 2021, for example, New Jersey had recorded 2,656 deaths per 1 million residents, while New York had 2,500 per 1 million residents, according to the Covid Tracking Project. South Dakota had 2,149 deaths per 1 million residents, but loose-rules Utah had just 617.

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“[T]he Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected..”

Florida To Impose Hefty Fines On Tech Giants That Deplatform Politicians (RT)

Florida is expected to become the first state to penalize social media companies for banning politicians from their platforms. Proponents have hailed the bill as a victory for free speech, while critics call it a political ploy. Under SB 7072, tech giants like Facebook and Twitter will be prohibited from “permanently” blacklisting a candidate running for political office. Fines of $250,000 per day will be issued for knowingly deplatforming a candidate for statewide office, while $25,000-per-day fines will be imposed for banning other office-seekers. The bill only applies to platforms with more than 100 million monthly users, and companies will still be allowed to sanction politicians with 14-day suspensions. Individual posts can also be removed if they violate the platform’s guidelines.


The bill passed both houses of Florida’s legislature on Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in the coming days. DeSantis advocated for the new law as part of a pledge to take on the “Big Tech cartel.” In February, he called for measures to be taken against the “monopoly of communications platforms” that “monitor and control” Floridians. State lawmakers who backed the legislation echoed similar sentiments. Republican state Rep. John Snyder said the bill would make it clear to Silicon Valley that they are not the “absolute arbiters of truth.” “[T]he Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected,” he said.

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“I was put into Twitter jail for citing a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Cancel science is real.”

Twitter Censors Accounts To Spoon-Feed The World Establishment Narratives (RT)

It’s one thing to have policies against violence, abuse, and harassment. But in “protecting” users, Twitter is hell-bent on censoring voices that rock the boat, even when all they have tweeted is a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Last week, Simon Goddek, who has a PhD in biotechnology and researches system dynamics, tweeted a link to a scientific study titled, “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?” Some time later, his account was frozen and he received a notice from Twitter that it would remain frozen until he deleted the offending tweet, and for the 12 hours following that. In his Telegram group, he wrote: “I was put into Twitter jail for citing a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Cancel science is real.

“What’s especially concerning is that I didn’t make any personal comment on the paper’s content. I only said that regarding that paper, masks CAN lead to massive health damages. It’s the conclusion of a scientific piece of work that has been peer-reviewed by at least 2 experts in the field.” According to Twitter, Goddek violated their policy on, “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.” The article in question wasn’t even as risqué as others and merely addressed undesirable side effects of mask wearing. How is that “misinformation”? [..] On April 17, Naomi Wolf tweeted she had been locked out of Twitter for the fourth time for sharing a Stanford study, “proving the lack of efficacy of masks.” That study was also peer-reviewed.

This isn’t merely a case of Twitter deciding that Goddek and Wolf were not in the position to be discussing the efficacy or dangers of masks. Twitter is censoring pretty much anything about Covid that doesn’t match the narrative promoted by the WHO, CDC, and other such bodies. Even a well-known epidemiologist has faced Twitter’s wrath. An article in the American Institute for Economic Research noted: “Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff and co-creator of the Great Barrington Declaration, one of the most cited epidemiologists and infectious -disease experts in the world has been censored by Twitter. His tweet on how not everyone needs a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 was not taken down. He had a warning slapped on it and users have been prevented from liking or retweeting the post.”

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One scary girl.

Victoria Nuland Is Now Highest-Ranking Member of US Foreign Service

On Thursday the US Senate confirmed Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, which has been described as the fourth most important position in the State Department. Though as the first three are filled by political appointees and the other by a career foreign service officer, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs is the highest-ranking member of the US Foreign Service. In an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April as part of her confirmation process, she reflected on her thirty-two years in the Foreign Service working for five presidents of both parties and nine secretaries of state. She retailed some of her “historic moments” in that career, among them “working on tough arms control problems and conflicts from Rwanda to Haiti to Bosnia and Kosovo.”

But what she expressed as her last-listed and perhaps proudest moment was, while she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at NATO, the military bloc for the first time activating its Article 5 collective defense clause, which contributed to the now twenty-year-old war in Afghanistan, a comprehensive naval interdiction mission in the Mediterranean Sea (Operation Active Endeavor) and European AWACS flights over the U.S. along with several other missions. A major part of her career has been spent at NATO headquarters: she was Deputy Permanent Representative (ambassador) to NATO from 2000-2003 and Permanent Representative from 2005-2008. In both positions she was instrumental in recruiting military forces from NATO allies and partners for the war in Afghanistan, with NATO military personnel also stationed in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

At one point 130,000 of the 150,000 foreign troops in the country served under NATO command in the International Security Assistance Force: service members from 54 countries. Never before or since have troops from so many nations fought in a war, much less in one theater of war or one country. She also worked on promoting seven nations to NATO membership at the historic Istanbul, Turkey summit in 2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. All are in Eastern Europe; all but Slovenia were members of the defunct Warsaw Pact; three – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – were Soviet republics. Bulgaria and Romania provided the U.S. and NATO with eight military bases in the following two years. NATO has flown fighter jets from air bases in Latvia and Lithuania for years, in the case of the second nation since 2004.

[..] Yesterday no doubt there was rejoicing and exultation in Kiev. There should have been weeping and gnashing of teeth in the Donbass and Crimea. And grave concern in Moscow. Nuland like her boss Joe Biden may have unfinished business in Ukraine.

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“It is completely unacceptable for U.S. public agencies to be doing the bidding of pesticide corporations like Bayer, who are solely concerned with maintaining their bottom-line profits.”

US Interferes in Mexico’s Phaseout of Glyphosate and GMO Corn (CD)

A coalition of 80 U.S. agricultural, consumer, environmental, public health, and worker groups sent a letter Thursday to key figures in the Biden administration calling for them to “respect Mexico’s sovereignty and refrain from interfering with its right to enact health-protective policies”—specifically, the phaseout of the herbicide glyphosate and the cultivation of genetically modified corn. “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador quietly rocked the agribusiness world with his New Year’s Eve decree,” Timothy A. Wise of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (ITAP) noted earlier this year. “His administration sent an even stronger aftershock two weeks later, clarifying that the government would also phase out GM corn imports in three years and the ban would include not just corn for human consumption but yellow corn destined primarily for livestock.”

“Mexico imports about 30% of its corn each year, overwhelmingly from the United States,” Wise added. “Almost all of that is yellow corn for animal feed and industrial uses. López Obrador’s commitment to reducing and, by 2024, eliminating such imports reflects his administration’s plan to ramp up Mexican production as part of the campaign to increase self-sufficiency in corn and other key food crops.” The groups’ letter on the Mexican policies and U.S. interference is addressed to recently confirmed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Its lead author is Kristin Schafer, executive director of Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). “We call on Secretary Vilsack and Trade Representative Tai, as key leaders in the new administration, to respect Mexico’s decision to protect both public health and the integrity of Mexican farming,” Schafer said in a statement.

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Aug 142020
 


Marlon Brando screentest 1951

 

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)
Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)
The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)
NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)
What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)
Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)
China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)
China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)
US Seizes $2 Million From Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)
United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)
Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)
Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)
7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)
Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

 

 

I was reading a piece by law professor John Eastman yesterday, before the entire left stumbled over each other to condemn it. I was thinking in my innocence that it’s interesting to know if questions over who’s a “natural born citizen” in America have ever truly been settled by politics or courts.

But I’m naive, and it’s attack time. They will defend Kamala Harris with all they got, with the entire MSM serving as their bullhorns. Which means Trump and his people have no choice but to go after her with all they got. Still, remembering the Obama birther fiasco, do they really want to die on this hill? Can’t we just leave it to the court system and legal experts? Or simply answer Eastman’s questions?

It’s all among signs of things to come between here and Nov. 3. Bill Barr yesterday promised that a first news flash from the Durham investigation into Russiagate origins will come out today, and that all of it will before Nov. 3. US elections are really just entertainment. Opium for the masses. Clickbaits, drama, anger, scandal. And I always thought it should be about people.

 

 

Not much movement in the numbers. We’re stuck in a broken record, with no progress anywhere. Not good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 328 million Americans. 74 million of them are children. That leaves 254 million adults, of which 107 million are obese, or 42%. 42.4% have a BMI over 30. 9% are morbidly obese.

From this point of view, COVID is hardly the worst threat to either the people or the health care system. Or, to put it another way, it’s the people themselves that are the threat to the health care system.

Again, take high fructose corn syrup out of the diet, and you solve a huge chunk of that problem. Ban stuff that kills people, or make it much harder to get.

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)

For a world crippled by the coronavirus, salvation hinges on a vaccine. But in the United States, where at least 4.6 million people have been infected and nearly 155,000 have died, the promise of that vaccine is hampered by a vexing epidemic that long preceded COVID-19: obesity. Scientists know that vaccines engineered to protect the public from influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies can be less effective in obese adults than in the general population, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and illness. There is little reason to believe, obesity researchers say, that COVID-19 vaccines will be any different. “Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese? No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Will it still work in the obese? Our prediction is no.” More than 107 million American adults are obese, and their ability to return safely to work, care for their families and resume daily life could be curtailed if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for them. In March, still early in the global pandemic, a little-noticed study from China found that heavier Chinese patients afflicted with COVID-19 were more likely to die than leaner ones, suggesting a perilous future awaited the U.S., whose population is among the heaviest in the world. And then that future arrived.

As intensive care units in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere filled with patients, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that obese people with a body mass index of 40 or more — known as morbid obesity or about 100 pounds overweight — were among the groups at highest risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. About 9% of American adults are in that category. As weeks passed and a clearer picture of who was being hospitalized came into focus, federal health officials expanded their warning to include people with a body mass index of 30 or more. That vastly expanded the ranks of those considered vulnerable to the most severe cases of infection, to 42.4% of American adults.

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More rapid testing. Good. Bring it. Test yourself everyday at breakfast.

Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)

A newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the novel coronavirus, Israel’s largest medical center said Thursday. Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. This is then examined by a small spectral device that, in simple terms, shines light on the specimen and analyzes the reaction to see if it is consistent with COVID-19. With machine learning it gets more accurate over time. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the trial, said it was easier to use than PCR swabs commonly used to detect COVID-19.


“So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” he said. The center said in an initial clinical trial involving hundreds of patients, the new artificial intelligence-based device identified evidence of the virus in the body at a 95% success rate. Amos Panet, an expert in molecular virology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said he would like to see more data and comparisons with existing tests before making a final judgment. The amount of virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker, he said, and a big challenge is to detect in “people who are borderline.” “It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” he said.

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Would M4A benefit the obese and hence diabetic? A long time ago, someone said: we’re raising a generation of blind amputees. How would a health care system deal with that?

The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)

When the novel coronavirus first arrived in the United States, it spurred on remarkable message discipline among America’s political class. The consensus that emerged on both sides of the aisle dictated that no matter what happened, Americans ought to be glad they do not live in a country with socialized medicine. At the final Democratic presidential debate on March 15, former Vice President Biden pointed to COVID numbers in Italy as evidence that not only was Medicare for all not a solution to the crisis, but it would put the country at greater risk. “With all due respect for Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy,” the former vice president said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all.”

Weeks later, in early April, Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden echoed the sentiment in a Twitter spat with a Medicare for All supporter. “You might want to check out the death rate in France before you think the form of health system is the answer here,” she tweeted. Not long after, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen declaring the COVID-19 pandemic was “an indictment of socialized medicine.” “If you think today’s pandemic bolsters the case for socialized medicine, then ask yourself a simple question: If you came down with a serious case of COVID-19, would you rather be in an Italian hospital or an American one?” the piece opens, before lauding Biden’s debate answer.

Such arguments were never fair — the pandemic was only just starting in the United States, while COVID-19 had indeed rampaged across Europe, there were contributing factors like years of austerity and a lack of supply chain redundancy in the modern globalized economy. But now, just a few months later, these arguments completely and utterly fail. New infections are still surging in the U.S. while countries with national health care programs have long since gotten a handle on the virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported more new COVID cases in a single day than Italy, France, and the U.K. reported last month combined, and roughly 45 percent of their total deaths.

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Nice account from James Altucher. is he just getting old, or is New York really beyond salvation?

NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)

People say, “NYC has been through worse” or “NYC has always come back.” No and no. First, when has NYC been through worse? Even in the 1970s, and through the 80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, and even when it was the crime capital of the US or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning: it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity), it was culturally on top of its game – home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing, and it was probably the food capital of the US. NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were going paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.

This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS. In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, “I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.” They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting a second wave of NYC-ers (this time me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building. Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, Dallas, etc.

Now a third wave of people are leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30-50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals soaring in the second and third-tier cities. I’m temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen. Robyn was looking at listings around Miami and then she saw an area we had never been to before. We found three houses we liked. She called the real estate agent. Place #1. Just rented that morning 50% higher than the asking price. Place #2. Also rented (New Yorkers – “they came from New York for three hours, saw the place, got it, went back to pack.”). Place #3. “Available.” “We’ll take it!” The first time we physically saw it was when we flew down and moved in. “This is temporary, right?” I confirmed with Robyn. But…I don’t know. I’m starting to like the sun a little bit. I mean, when it’s behind the shades. And when I am in air conditioning.

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All US politics is united against Julian Assange.

What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)

During a September 2017 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee debate on an intelligence bill a line was inserted that said WikiLeaks “resembles a non-state hostile intelligence service” and that the U.S. “should treat it as such.” “This language would help investigators secure the authorization needed to surveil those U.S. citizens thought to be associated with WikiLeaks,” a McClatchy report quoted a government lawyer as saying. “You need to show that someone is an agent of a foreign power,” said the lawyer, Robert Deitz, who held senior legal positions at the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency. “It’s possible that Assange has colleagues in this country that they need to focus on,” McClatchy quoted Deitz as saying, “noting that such action can only be done under court order.”

The non-state hostile agency phrase was directly lifted from a scurrilous speech by Mike Pompeo in his first address as CIA director. The language survived the committee and made it into the bill voted on by the full Senate. But before it did two senators raised objections to it. One was Ron Wyden of Oregon. The other was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate in November’s election. According to the McClatchy report, “Harris declared that she is ‘no supporter of WikiLeaks,’ which she said had done ‘considerable harm’ to the United States. But the clause on the group is ‘dangerous’ because it ‘fails to draw a bright line between WikiLeaks and legitimate news organizations that play a vital role in our democracy,’ according to her remarks for the record.”

Harris left no doubt that she is an enemy of WikiLeaks, as is her running mate, Joe Biden, who agreed it was more like a high-tech terrorist organization that Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers. Harris made clear she cared only about establishment media (which almost universally undergirds aggressive U.S. foreign policy) and was worried about it getting caught up in a WikiLeaks dragnet. She said she wants a “bright line” between publications such as The New York Times and WikiLeaks. Except, there can be no such legal line drawn as both establishment papers, like the Times, and WikiLeaks have done the exact same thing: possessed and published classified material.

Because there is no legal distinction, the Obama administration, which desperately wanted to indict WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, backed away citing its “New York Times problem.” The Trump administration had no such qualms and had Assange arrested in April 2019 and indicted on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and 17 counts of the Espionage Act. The only bright line that can be drawn is political: a decision by the Department of Justice to not prosecute big media but to prosecute WikiLeaks for the same “crime”, which conflicts with First Amendment press freedoms. This is what Harris was calling for: Protect the state-managed corporate media but go after a serious publication that dares to reveal crimes of the U.S. government, which Harris wants to protect. In other words, for the same activity, the Times is afforded First Amendment protections, but WikiLeaks is not.

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There are questions one can’t ask.

Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)

The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position. The 12th Amendment provides that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” And Article II of the Constitution specifies that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.” Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.

“Nonsense,” runs the counter-commentary. Indeed, PolitiFact rated the claim of ineligibility as “Pants on Fire” false, Snopes rated it simply “False,” and from the other side of the political spectrum, Conservative Daily News likewise rated it “False.” All three (and numerous others) simply assert that Harris is eligible because she was born in Oakland—and is therefore a natural-born citizen from location of birth. The 14th Amendment says so, they all claim, and the Supreme Court so held in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. But those claims are erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood—an error to which even my good friend, renowned UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, has fallen prey.

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never held that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

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I’ve said it often before: none of this means much without also tallying shadow banks’ numbers.

China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)

China’s top banking regulatory official said on Thursday that the country’s banks have to deal with 3.4 trillion yuan (US$489.5 billion) worth of non-performing loans in 2020 – flagging a big risk for the banking system in the world’s second-largest economy. The total marks a hefty increase from 2.3 trillion yuan in 2019, and the value of bad loans could be even higher in 2021. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency that the increase in non-performing loans (NPLs) – loans in default or close to default – will put huge pressure on the country’s banks, especially small and regional ones.

“As many loans are rolled over [in 2020], some problems will only emerge next year,” Guo was quoted by Xinhua as saying, adding that a rebound in bad loans is “inevitable” since the coronavirus shock has adversely affected so many companies. The warning by Guo, who is also the Communist Party secretary at the People’s Bank of China, came at a time when many of the country’s small banks are facing a moment of reckoning after years of undisciplined balance sheet expansion, as well as instances of fraud and corruption. Meanwhile, Guo said, Chinese banks have improved their loan structure – with more lending going toward manufacturing, infrastructure, technology and small businesses.

Guo added that Chinese banks are now being told to enhance their support of small businesses. In addition, he said he will encourage banks to invest more in corporate bonds. According to official statistics from Guo’s agency, the NPL ratio in China was among the lowest in the world. The ratio for Chinese commercial banks rose 0.03 percentage points in the second quarter to 1.94 per cent at the end of June. But hidden bad loans, if exposed, could easily wipe out bank profits and erode capital bases. In the first half of this year, the combined profits of Chinese banks dropped for the first time in more than a decade – falling 9.4 per cent to 1 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, government data shows.

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So, question is: who are the shadow banks’ debt collectors? Vinnie the Kneecapper and his friends?

China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)

It’s not a good sign for any economy when debt collectors are booming and in China right now, the industry is on a hiring spree. Whole Scene Asset Management, a debt recovery firm based in the southern province of Hunan, plans to double staff numbers to 400 people this year as it expands into new cities. “Debt collection companies have been mushrooming,” said company founder Zhang Haiyan. “And with bad loans growing this year, everyone is adding new hands.” Rival Bricsman is also hiring – hoping to boost headcount of around 1,000 by 400-500 this year after landing a deal to collect delinquent consumer loans for China Minsheng Bank (600016.SS), people with knowledge of the matter said, declining to identified as they were not authorised to talk to media.

Bricsman, which is based in the eastern province of Jiangsu and counts other large banks amongst its clients, did not respond to a request for comment. As increasing numbers of consumers struggle with lost income in an economy battered by the coronavirus and U.S-China tensions, a burgeoning wave of non-performing loans is sparking concern among lenders – both at specialist consumer financing firms and traditional banks – and even among debt collectors. China is the midst of “an unfolding debt crisis”, says Joe Zhang, a business consultant and until last month vice chairman at the country’s largest debt collector YX Asset Recovery. The delinquency rate for consumer debt is climbing and collecting on those loans has become much harder, he added, estimating that at some weaker non-bank consumer lenders, soured loans may account for 30% to 50% of their portfolios.

[..] Chinese consumer debt has ballooned over the past five years, fuelled in part as banks scrambled to issue credit cards, with outstanding debt for bank-issued cards doubling to 17.6 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion). Internet-based consumer financing, which is only lightly regulated, has also grown – by a dizzying 400 times to nearly 8 trillion yuan since 2014, according to the Guanghua School of Management. And Chinese household debt – including mortgages and unsecured consumer loans – has swollen to levels equivalent to nearly 60% of GDP, up from 18% in 2008, the peak of the global financial crisis.

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300 anonymous accounts?!

US Seizes $2 Million From 300 Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)

The Justice Department said it dismantled an elaborate cyber campaign used by overseas terror organizations to finance their operations and seized $2 million from more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts in what it described as the largest-ever seizure of its kind. The Justice Department said three overseas terrorist groups — al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing; al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS — used cryptocurrencies and social media to raise funds for their terror campaigns. “It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” Attorney General William Barr said in a release.


“As announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible,” he added. “Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies. IRS-CI special agents in the DC cybercrimes unit work diligently to unravel these financial networks,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a release. In one of the cases, the U.S. secretly took over websites that were operated by al-Qassam Brigades and monitored those who thought they had opened up their cyber wallets to the terror group but instead donated money to an account controlled by the U.S. government, according to court documents unsealed Thursday in the District of Columbia.

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Successfully dividing the Arab world’s support for Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to full normalization of relations, bringing their decades-long clandestine dealings proudly into the open. The so-called “Abraham Accords” sealing the deal were brokered by US officials. The deal is named for “the father of all three great faiths,” David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, told reporters at the Oval Office on Thursday. Religious and cultural tolerance is often used by Arab states and Israel to mask their efforts to normalize ties. Painting conflict in the region as stemming from a lack of understanding among religions is also a way to obscure its true origin: Israel’s violent dispossession of Palestinians and ongoing military occupation and steady ethnic cleansing of their land.

In exchange for normalization, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the joint statement. However, this is spin. In reality, it was the United States that put Israel’s annexation plans on ice weeks ago. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to annexation shortly after the announcement of the agreement. The UAE is merely using the American-imposed freeze as an opportunity to bring its secret ties with Israel dating back to the 1990s into the open. These secret relations have included military and intelligence cooperation and even joint military exercises.

[..] Relations between Israel and Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and the UAE are founded on a mutual enmity towards Iran. Liquidating Palestinian rights and bypassing the Palestinian issue is seen as key to building up this anti-Iran alliance under American oversight. Annexation, moreover, would only be a formal rubber stamp for what Israel has been doing on the ground for decades: stealing land, forcibly displacing Palestinians and building colonies in flagrant breach of international law. This violent colonization has never ceased and will not stop as a result of this agreement.

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India is Monsanto’s wet dream.

Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)

On 6 July 2020, an article extolling the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops appeared on the BloombergQuint website based on an interview with Dr Ramesh Chand, a member of the key Indian Government think tank Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) . On 17 July, another piece that placed a positive spin on GM crops and gene-editing technology (Feeding 10 Billion People will Require Genetically Modified Food) appeared on the same site. According to Prof Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Dr Hans R Herren and Dr Peter E Kenmore, internationally renowned agricultural researchers, the pieces reported “sweeping unsupported claims” about the benefits of and need for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related technologies in agriculture in India.

The three academics felt that “a responsible and factual response” was required and have written a letter – containing what could be described as the definitive analysis of Bt cotton in India – to Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr Rajiv Kumar (Niti Aayog Vice Chancellor) and Dr Amitabh Kant (Niti Aayog CEO). Chand is reported as saying that there is no credible study to show any adverse impact of growing Bt cotton in the last 18 years in the country (India’s only officially approved GM crop). This is simply not the case. Moreover, Gutierrez et al argue that all of the credible evidence shows any meagre increases in cotton yield after the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 were largely due to increases in fertiliser use. Before proceeding, it is pertinent to address the claim that ‘feeding 10 billion people will require genetically modified food’.

If we take the case of India and its 1.3 billion-plus population, it has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured that, in theory at least, there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables and fruit. However, food security for many Indians remains a distant dream. Hunger and malnutrition remain prevalent. But that is not because farmers don’t produce enough food. These problems result from other factors, including inadequate food distribution, social and economic policies, inequality and poverty. It is a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance (reflecting the situation globally). India even continues to export food while millions remain hungry. Productivity is not the issue.

And while proponents say GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress. India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies and years of neglect. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen. Yet the pro-GMO lobby has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

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Everything travel related is getting hammered. There is no telling when it all will be back, or if it ever will. Bailing out the firms involved seems an awful waste of money. You do that for firms that have a future, not those that have a past.

Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)

The auto industry continues to grapple with one of the worst recessions ever for the notoriously capital intensive sector. Ford, which feels like it has been in the midst of a yearslong “restructuring” that has never fully panned out or ended (and has involved numerous CEOs), continues to make major changes to its global personnel to try and find the right mix for its business going forward. This means that 10,000 positions are now being cut across Europe, the automaker disclosed yesterday. Ford is also going to be reducing the number of its plants in Europe to 17 from 23, the company revealed in a JP Morgan conference presentation on Wednesday.

In a slide called “Ford Euope: Road to Sustainable Profitability”, the company also disclosed it would be discontinuing underperforming vehicles, like its C-MAX and Grand C-Max. The company also plans on “leveraging” its relationship with VW. The company says it is on track to deliver on its 2020-2021 CO2 targets without credits or penalties and 13 new electic vehicles will be on sale by the end of 2020, up from just 5. This news comes days after it was announced that Ford would be replacing its CEO on relatively short notice. Ford said days ago it had tapped Jim Farley to replace a relatively still-newly appointed Jim Hackett as CEO. Hackett replaced former CEO Mark Fields and, for the most part, has failed to inspire confidence during his tenure at Ford.

Ford is currently in the middle of an $11 billion restructuring that is supposed to help to accelerate its development of new vehicles, including hybrids and EVs. Hackett had only just started with Ford back in 2017 and has said he will retire effective October. General Motors is following with a C-suite shakeup of its own, as its CFO leaves after just two years to work at a fintech startup. The company announced earlier this week that John Stapleton, GM North America chief financial officer, has been named its acting global chief financial officer, effective Aug. 15, after the resignation of the company’s current CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara.

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Isn’t that what we wanted? Less flying, less pollution?

7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published a new report Thursday that warns the virus-induced downturn will continue to pressure air passenger numbers, employment and economies across Europe. IATA said passenger flights are expected to decline by 60% in 2020, resulting in millions of job losses in the aviation and tourism industries. IATA issued a similar warning of what has been announced by airlines, of which, complete recovery in passenger demand might not be seen until 2024. “The near-term outlook for recovery in Europe remains highly uncertain with respect to the second wave of the pandemic and the broader global economic impact it could have. Passenger demand in Europe is expected to recover gradually and will not reach 2019 levels until 2024. -IATA

IATA’s job loss estimate was increased by 17% from its June report, from 6 million to 7 million, mostly because the highly anticipated V-shaped recovery has failed to materialize. “It is desperately worrying to see a further decline in prospects for air travel this year, and the knock-on impact for employment and prosperity. said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe. Schvartzman said, “It shows once again the terrible effect that is being felt by families across Europe as border restrictions and quarantine continue. It is vital that governments and industry work together to create a harmonized plan for reopening borders.”

If another wave of the virus were to hit Europe, justifying nationwide lockdowns, it could intensify the recession. Though the German tabloid newspaper Bild has said: “There will be no second hard lockdown in Europe because that would lead to a monster recession that would not be accepted by the population.”

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20% of Greek GDP is tourism. So are at least 20% of jobs.

Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

A report came out on Thursday confirming the worst fears of Greek economic experts, stating that the country had seen a drop of 74.3% in the number of passengers who had traveled through their airports so far this year. This amounts to only 9 million air travelers who had used airports in the country so far in 2020, a staggering drop of almost three-quarters of its business. The number of international visitors coming into Greek airports this year so far amounts to 1,126,429, a stunning decrease from last year’s banner tourism season, which saw a total of 4,096,657 international arrivals. Although very disappointing, the numbers did not come as a shock to any in the sector, due to the punishing effects of travel bans imposed on many nations because of the coronavirus pandemic.


According to Greek media reports, the Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, reported the precipitous drop in business in the first seven months of this year relative to the numbers seen in 2019. For the month of July 2020 alone, the high season for summertime travel to the country, passenger traffic at Greek airports had decreased 72.6%. During the month of July, a total of only 2,722,854 million passengers came through Greece’s airports; in that same period, there was a precipitous drop of 72.5% in the number of foreign arrivals. This means that there were fewer passengers overall in the first seven months of 2020 than there had been in the month of July only in 2019.

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Jun 282019
 
 June 28, 2019  Posted by at 9:41 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Salvador Dali Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion 1930

 

56% Of Americans Are Lying Awake At Night Worrying About Money (MW)
America’s Monopoly Crisis Hits the Military (AC)
US Car Industry Is Killing Itself (WS)
Baoshang Bank Collapse Threatens China’s Economy (ABC.au)
Deutsche Bank Passes Fed Stress Test In Boost For Its US Operations (R.)
Paul Singer Warns A 40% Market Crash Is Coming (ZH)
US Gets No Commitment From NATO Allies For Help On Iran Threat (AP)
Boeing Hopes To Complete 737 MAX Software Fix In September (AP)
Large US Companies Are Getting Bigger While The Small Wither Away (MW)
CIA Finances Another Group of Fraudsters: the Venezuelan ‘Opposition’ (SCF)
Varoufakis: My Proposals Don’t Need Negotiation With Greece’s Creditors (A.)
The First Genetically Modified Animals Approved For US Consumption (AP)

 

 

Brought to you by the world’s richest country.

56% Of Americans Are Lying Awake At Night Worrying About Money (MW)

How are you sleeping lately? Some Americans are feeling uneasy. Consumer confidence fell to a two-year low in June, the Conference Board announced this week. It fell to 121.5 this month from a 131.3 in May. That’s the lowest level since September 2017. “The escalation in trade and tariff tensions earlier this month appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence,” Lynn Franco, senior director at the Conference Board, said in a statement. Continued uncertainty could “diminish” people’s confidence in the economic expansion, she added. Many people are living with wildly fluctuating income, a recent report from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System said.


“Volatile income and low savings can turn common experiences — such as waiting a few days for a bank deposit to be available — into a problem.” Despite unemployment hitting a 49-year low, plus low interest rates and inflation, people are feeling skittish. “A major trade war between the U.S. and China represents our greatest economic risk,” according to Lynn Reaser, chief economist of the Controller’s Council of Economic Advisors. All of these worries are taking their toll. 78% of adults are losing sleep over work, relationships, retirement and other worries, according to a study released Thursday by personal-finance site Bankrate.com. Over half (56%) of Americans are lying awake at night worrying about money.

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Can’t make anything anymore. And now there are plans to make Europe use US nukes…..

America’s Monopoly Crisis Hits the Military (AC)

Early this year, U.S. authorities filed criminal charges—including bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and theft of technology—against the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world, a Chinese giant named Huawei. Chinese dominance in telecom equipment has created a crisis among Western espionage agencies, who, fearful of Chinese spying, are attempting to prevent the spread of Huawei equipment worldwide, especially in the critical 5G next-generation mobile networking space. In response to the campaign to block the purchase of Huawei equipment, the company has engaged in a public relations offensive.

The company’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei, portrayed Western fears as an advertisement for its products, which are, he said, “so good that the U.S. government is scared.” There’s little question the Chinese government is interested in using equipment to spy. What is surprising is Zhengfei is right about the products. Huawei, a relatively new company in the telecom equipment space, has amassed top market share because its equipment—espionage vulnerabilities aside—is the best value on the market. In historical terms, this is a shocking turnaround. Americans invented the telephone business and until recently dominated production and research. But in the last 20 years, every single American producer of key telecommunication equipment sectors is gone.

Today, only two European makers—Ericsson and Nokia—are left to compete with Huawei and another Chinese competitor, ZTE. This story of lost American leadership and production is not unique. In fact, the destruction of America’s once vibrant military and commercial industrial capacity in many sectors has become the single biggest unacknowledged threat to our national security. Because of public policies focused on finance instead of production, the United States increasingly cannot produce or maintain vital systems upon which our economy, our military, and our allies rely. Huawei is just a particularly prominent example.

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Well, they can still make cars…

US Car Industry Is Killing Itself (WS)

The average age of passenger cars and trucks on the road in the US ticked up again in 2019, to another record of 11.8 years, IHS Markit reported today. When I entered the car business in 1985, the average age had just ticked up to 7.8 years, and the industry was fretting over it and thought the trend would have to reverse, and customers would soon come out of hiding and massively replace those old clunkers with new vehicles, and everyone would sell more and make more. But those industry hopes for a sustained reversal of the trend of the rising average age have been bitterly disappointed:

This rising average age is largely driven by vehicles lasting longer – an unintended consequence of relentless improvements in overall quality, forced upon automakers by finicky customers in an ultra-competitive market where automakers struggle to stay alive. To make it in the US, they have to constantly improve their products, and stragglers that can’t compete are left unceremoniously by the wayside. US consumers are brutal. This unintended consequence of rising overall quality contributes to the dreadful industry problem: The US, despite constant population growth, is a horribly mature auto market. In 1999, so 20 years ago, new vehicle sales reached a record of 16.9 million units.


This record was broken in 2000, with 17.3 million units. Then sales tapered off. By 2007, they’d dropped to 16.1 million units. Then the Financial Crisis hit, GM and Chrysler went bankrupt, Ford almost did, and peak-to-trough, sales plunged 40% to 10.4 million units by 2009. The recovery has been steep, and in 2015, finally the old record of the year 2000 was broken, but barely with 17.48 million units, and in 2016, the industry eked out another record of 17.55 million units. And that was it. Sales have fizzled since then. So far in 2019, the data indicates that sales are likely to fall below 17 million units, according to my own estimates, bringing the industry right back where it had been 20 years ago in 1999:

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Nothing a little QE won’t fix?!

Baoshang Bank Collapse Threatens China’s Economy (ABC.au)

Up until a few weeks ago the Baoshang Bank’s prospects seemed bright enough. According to Baoshing’s most recent regulatory filing, the smallish lender based in Inner-Mongolia, made a $600 million profit in 2017. It had assets of around $90 billion, non-performing loans were modest — under 2 per cent — and its capital buffers would fit comfortably with the global demands of a Tier1 bank. Then it collapsed. That set off a series of events rarely, if ever, seen in Chinese banking. Regulators seized Baoshang, the first action of its type since 1998. That may have shaken the foundations of Chinese banking, but of far greater significance was the collapse caused by China’s first recorded interbank default.

It is yet to be a “Lehman moment” — where the credit market freezes, banks stop lending to each other and the economy teeters above the abyss —but it has, as Societe Generale’s Wei Yao noted, “triggered severe liquidity tensions in the interbank market”. “The Baoshang incidence has challenged one fundamental belief of China’s financial system; interbank defaults are not possible thanks to 100 per cent implicit guarantees,” Ms Yao said. “Now that credit risks and counter-party risks have finally descended on this very core market in China’s financial system, all the key players in the system have to figure out how to price risks in the new paradigm, and quickly.”

Ms Yao said the understandable consequence was “a big and unpleasant wave of risk repricing”, with major banks shying away from doing business with smaller lenders. And that’s a worry, as small-to-medium sized banks combined have balance sheets as big as the big banks combined, but are far more dependent on interbank funding. The central bank (PBoC) immediately pumped around 600 billion yuan ($125 billion) into the system and halted a run on the banks by guaranteeing 100 per cent of all retail deposits.

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Not the Onion.

Deutsche Bank Passes Fed Stress Test In Boost For Its US Operations (R.)

Deutsche Bank’s shares rose as much as 4.8% on Friday after Germany’s biggest bank passed an annual health check by the U.S. Federal Reserve, in a boost to its Wall Street operations. But the Federal Reserve placed conditions on the U.S. operations of Credit Suisse, knocking its shares 1% lower after identifying weaknesses in its capital planning. The tests assess whether it is safe for banks to implement their capital plans, including using extra capital for stock buybacks, dividends and other purposes beyond providing a cushion against losses. They are designed to avoid a repeat of the taxpayer bailouts of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.


Deutsche Bank, whose U.S. business has been plagued by litigation, underperformance and regulatory investigations, topped the German bluechip index .GDAX in Frankfurt after its U.S. shares were up as much as 6% in after-the-bell trading on Thursday following the Fed’s news. The German bank maintained a large presence on Wall Street after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, while Credit Suisse made big cuts. But Deutsche’s efforts to compete with U.S. rivals have been hampered by litigation and regulatory investigations. Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Christian Sewing, who is battling to turn the bank around, said the Fed’s decision was “excellent news” in a memo to staff on its website. “Achieving success here was one of the key goals we set a year ago. It is a huge step forward for our business in the U.S. and globally. A strong operating platform in the Americas is essential to our clients,” he said.

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Lowballing.

Paul Singer Warns A 40% Market Crash Is Coming (ZH)

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, billionaire investor and Elliott Management founder, Paul Singer, warned that the global economy is heading toward a “significant market downturn” cautioning that “the global financial system is very much toward the risky end of the spectrum.” While Paul Singer’s traditionally downcast outlook is hardly surprising, as it permeates every investor letter published by the successful investor who has been particularly clear in the past decade that the Fed’s monetary experiment will end terribly, he sees two particular reasons why the economy is approaching a tipping point: “global debt is at an all-time high.

Derivatives are at an all-time high and it took all of this monetary easing to get to where we are today and I don’t think central bankers, or policymakers or academics are in any better shape to predict the next downturn and I think we are the high end of the risk spectrum.” He then ominously added that “I’m expecting the possibility of a significant market downturn.” How bad would the crash be? According to the Elliott Management CEO, there will be a market “correction” of 30% to 40% when the downturn hits, although unlike Goldman – which gave a timeline of 12 months in which the next major market will materialize, Singer said he couldn’t predict the timing.

In the panel discussion, Singer also said the market meltdown late last year after interest rates spiked in the 4th quarter was the first hint of a pending slump, as it indicated that the Federal Reserve and other central banks were now victims of their policies, something he has been warning about for years. “December supported the notion that they’re trapped,” he said. “What they should have done, and what they should do now, is try to restore the soundness of money. They should not be cutting rates right now. They should be calling on the congresses and parliaments around the developed world to take steps to deal with the economic slowdown in growth.”

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Europe likes Iran just the way it is.

US Gets No Commitment From NATO Allies For Help On Iran Threat (AP)

NATO allies gave the U.S. no firm commitments that they will participate in a global effort to secure international waterways against threats from Iran, acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday, wrapping up his first alliance meeting. Esper said the U.S. will come back next month and provide reluctant allies more details on exactly how the Iranian threat has escalated in recent months, and how nations can work together to deter further aggression. “At the end of the day what our ask is here, near term, is to publicly condemn Iran’s bad behavior,” Esper said as he prepared to leave Brussels. “And in the meantime, in order to avoid a military escalation, help us maintain the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf and wherever.”


Esper, who didn’t have high expectations for firm commitments coming in, got little of either, though he said that some allies privately expressed interest in hearing more. Esper’s visit to NATO, just days after he took over at the Pentagon, came amid sharply increased tensions between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, as well as bombings in Iraq. Iranian forces also shot down an American drone that it said had flown into its airspace, which the U.S. disputes. Earlier this week, as he headed to NATO, Esper said his goal was to persuade allies that the confrontation with Iran is a global challenge requiring an international response, and that it is “not Iran versus the United States.”

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“There are many families here who will not want to participate in mediation until they know what Boeing knew, when they knew it, what they did about it, and what they’re going to do about it..”

Boeing Hopes To Complete 737 MAX Software Fix In September (AP)

Boeing says it expects to finish work on updated flight-control software for the 737 Max in September, a sign that the troubled jet likely won’t be flying until late this year. The latest delay in fixing the Max came a day after the disclosure that government test pilots found a new technology flaw in the plane during a test on a flight simulator. The plane has been grounded since mid-March after two crashes that killed 346 people. Preliminary accident reports pointed to software that erroneously pointed the planes’ noses down and overpowered pilots’ efforts to regain control. A Boeing official said Thursday that the company expects to submit the software update to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval “in the September timeframe.”

Once Boeing submits its changes, the FAA is expected to take several weeks to analyze them, and airlines would need additional time to take their grounded Max jets out of storage and prepare them to fly again. Airlines were already lowering expectations for a quick return of the plane, which has been grounded since mid-March. Southwest Airlines, the biggest operator of Max jets, announced Thursday that it has taken the plane out of its schedule for another month, through Oct. 1. Earlier this week, United Airlines pulled the plane from its schedule through early September.

While Boeing engineers continue working on the plane’s software, company lawyers pushed Thursday to settle lawsuits brought by the families of dozens of passengers killed in the October crash of a Lion Air Max off the coast of Indonesia and the March crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max near Addis Ababa. Boeing and the families of Lion Air Flight 610 victims agreed to mediation that could lead to early settlements. However, the families of some Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 passengers are resisting mediation. “There are many families here who will not want to participate in mediation until they know what Boeing knew, when they knew it, what they did about it, and what they’re going to do about it to prevent this kind of disaster from occurring again,” said Robert Clifford, a Chicago lawyer who filed lawsuits on behalf of nearly two dozen victims of the Ethiopian crash.

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Concentrate.

Large US Companies Are Getting Bigger While The Small Wither Away (MW)

FTSE Russell will rebalance its suite of indexes at the close of trade Friday, and the changes will reflect several broad trends in equity markets over the past year, including the resilience of large-capitalization companies, the dismal performance of smaller U.S. firms, and the emergence of new, highly valued technology companies that promise to, or already have, revolutionized their respective industries. “We reconstitute the Russell indexes annually to accurately reflect equity markets,” said Catherine Yoshimoto, director of product management at FTSE Russell, in an interview. “All the companies are ranked by total market capitalization and the break point between the [large cap] Russell 1000 and [small cap] Russell 2000 are reset.”


The dividing line between the large cap index and the small fell this year, from a capitalization of $3.7 billion to $3.6 billion, as a result of the poor performance of small cap companies, which shrunk in average market capitalization from $2.5 trillion to $2.4 trillion, as the small cap index fell 6.3% over the past 12 months, versus a 7.5% rise in price for larger companies. Steven DeSanctis, equity strategist at Jefferies told MarketWatch that today’s environment — with rising labor costs, material costs and new trade barriers — is especially difficult for small companies to navigate. He estimates that earnings for Russell 2000 companies fell 14.5% in the first quarter of this year on 3.4% of sales growth, while the second quarter will likely show small-cap earnings falling 11.5%, on 3.6% of revenue growth. “Small cap companies are getting squeezed at the margin,” he said. “A lot of companies have revenue growth but falling profits.”

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The story gets uglier by the day.

CIA Finances Another Group of Fraudsters: the Venezuelan ‘Opposition’ (SCF)

Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency has been caught financing a group of grifters and fraudsters at the expense of the American taxpayers. In the latest case, just another in the agency’s 72-year history, the Trump administration-appointed ad hoc board of CITGO, the US subsidiary of the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, stands accused of steering $70 million of escrowed funds, earmarked for PDVSA’s fiscal year 2020 bond, to the pockets of CIA-supported officials of the Venezuelan opposition “Popular Will” party headed by the so-called “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.

In addition to Guaidó, who is accused by the legitimate Venezuelan government of money laundering, treason, and corruption, other Popular Will leaders under investigation by both the Venezuelan Attorney General and the US Justice Department include Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s envoy in Washington; Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, Guaidó’s emissaries in Cucuta, a Colombian-Venezuelan border town; Sergio Vargara, Barrera’s brother-in-law and a Member of the Venezuelan Congress; Guaidó’s “ambassador” to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti, opposition businessman Miguel Sabal; and Guaidó’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero. Over two dozen other Popular Will leaders are also under investigation for fraud involving money earmarked by the Trump administration, particularly Iran-Contra scandal felon and current Trump special envoy for regime change in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams.

Barrera and Rojas are accused of spending money given to the Popular Will by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a longtime CIA financial pass-through, for “humanitarian relief” for alleged massive numbers of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. The Popular Will grifters reportedly used the aid money, including that which was raised by Virgin Group’s billionaire founder and obvious CIA dupe Richard Branson, for expensive hotels, fancy restaurants, nightclubs, prostitutes, and clothing.

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Varoufakis is way ahead of his time. Elections July 7, but he’ll be lucky to get any seats at all.

Varoufakis: My Proposals Don’t Need Negotiation With Greece’s Creditors (A.)

– Reduction of the public debt with an embedded growth clause: the higher the national income, the more creditors will receive, and the reverse. Varoufakis said that this will force lenders to become partners in the recovery of Greece.

– Ending austerity by a drastic reduction of surpluses. Varoufakis said that Syriza and ND have pledged to return to the lenders the equivalent of at least 7,000 euros per capita each year from the so-called primary state surpluses. MeRA25 will unilaterally reduce these surpluses by 60-100 pct, depending on the recovery rate, he added.

– Abolition of obligatory prepayment of 100% of taxes, and capping the VAT rate at 18% for cash purchases, 15% for using a credit card. Reduction of corporate tax: e.g. from current 29 pct, to 26 pct for large businesses, 20 pct for medium-sized ones and 15 pct for small businesses; capping profits on SMEs at 50 pct tax (currently at 75 pct).

– Public extra-bank reliant payment system allowing free digital transactions among citizens, businesses and the state, benefitting all: e.g. by mutual debt cancellation, tax deductions, funding of anti-poverty programs, reducting the hold of private banks and the European Central Bank on citizens and state alike.

– Establishment of a public management company of private debt, so that non-performing loans (NPLs) are transferred from banks to this organisation, in exchange for government guarantees not counted towards public debt. In addition, a ban on loan sales, foreclosure auctions, especially of primary residences and small businesses.

– Inclusion under the Foundation of Social Insurance (IKA) of all freelancers who work more than 8 hours a week for the same employer. Incentives towards start-up entrepreneurs with a 5-year exemption from taxes and insurance contributions.

– Conversion of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund to a Development Bank, abolition of all privatizations, and use of public property as collateral to create investment flows in the public sector; the new bank’s shares will be owned by insurance funds, boosting their capitalization.

Yanis Varoufakis insisted that these measures would be implemented without negotiation with Greece’s lenders and financial institutions, and underlined that the creditors might react by bringing back GRexit scenarios. In this case, which he ruled out, “it will cost them 1 trillion euros.” “If we continue to apply Syriza’s fourth memorandum there will be no young people left in our country,” concluded Varoufakis, who also reiterated that his party will not give a vote of confidence to either Syriza or New Democracy, but will nevertheless support any bill it considers fair.

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Mass suicide.

The First Genetically Modified Animals Approved For US Consumption (AP)

Inside an Indiana aquafarming complex, thousands of salmon eggs genetically modified to grow faster than normal are hatching into tiny fish. After growing to roughly 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in indoor tanks, they could be served in restaurants by late next year. The salmon produced by AquaBounty are the first genetically modified animals approved for human consumption in the U.S. They represent one way companies are pushing to transform the plants and animals we eat, even as consumer advocacy groups call for greater caution. AquaBounty hasn’t sold any fish in the U.S. yet, but it says its salmon may first turn up in places like restaurants or university cafeterias, which would decide whether to tell diners that the fish are genetically modified.

“It’s their customer, not ours,” said Sylvia Wulf, AquaBounty’s CEO. To produce its fish, Aquabounty injected Atlantic salmon with DNA from other fish species that make them grow to full size in about 18 months, which could be about twice as fast as regular salmon. The company says that’s more efficient since less feed is required. The eggs were shipped to the U.S. from the company’s Canadian location last month after clearing final regulatory hurdles.

As AquaBounty worked through years of government approvals, several grocers including Kroger and Whole Foods responded to a campaign by consumer groups with a vow to not sell the fish. Already, most corn and soy in the U.S. is genetically modified to be more resistant to pests and herbicides. But as genetically modified salmon make their way to dinner plates, the pace of change to the food supply could accelerate. This month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to simplify regulations for genetically engineered plants and animals. The move comes as companies are turning to a newer gene-editing technology that makes it easier to tinker with plant and animal DNA.

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May 262019
 


 

Pence To West Point Grads: You Will Fight On a Battlefield for America (Taer)
Global Elites Started The Russia Nonsense (Farnan)
Indictment of Julian Assange is a Clear and Present Danger to Journalism (EFF)
The US Media Is in the Crosshairs of the New Assange Indictment (Lawfare)
The World: What is Really Happening (Murray)
Europeans Vote, With EU Future In Balance (R.)
Who Gets To Choose The UK’s Next Prime Minister? (BBC)
Elon Musk Confronts The “Bear Case” (VF)
You Will Probably Never Want To Eat GMO Food Again (Snyder)
Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Fatty Liver Disease in Humans (BP)

 

 

He’s ordering the body bags as we speak. And you thought Trump was crazy.

Pence To West Point Grads: You Will Fight On a Battlefield for America (Taer)

Vice President Mike Pence told the graduating class of the West Point Military Academy on Saturday that the world is “a dangerous place” and they should expect to see combat. “Men and women of West Point, no matter where you’re deployed, you will be the vanguard of freedom, and you know that the “soldier does not bear the sword in vain.” The work you do has never been more important. America will always seek peace, but peace comes through strength. And you are now that strength. It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.


Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere. And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win. The American people expect nothing less.”

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We’re going to hear a lot about this.

Global Elites Started The Russia Nonsense (Farnan)

Attorney General William Barr has turned the attention of the Russia probe to its origin: who started this and why? The answer, as in all the best crime dramas, is probably hiding in plain sight. On July 13, 2016, British academic Dr. Andrew Foxall penned an op-ed in the New York Times, “Why Putin Loves Brexit.” He blamed Russia for the previous month’s Brexit vote, adding in a little noted aside: The United States is so concerned over Moscow’s determination to exploit European disunity that in January, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, began a review of Russia’s clandestine funding of European parties. Bingo! The Obama administration was spying on conservative European political parties.

Which means, almost necessarily under the Five Eyes Agreement, foreign agents were returning the favor and spying on the Trump campaign. On August 11, 2018, I wrote: The British aristocracy has a condescending view of the hoi polloi who voted for Brexit, regarding them as easily manipulated Pygmalion-like by smarter people. They assumed Vladimir Putin was somehow playing Professor Henry Higgins to the flower girls who voted to reject the EU, because that’s how they see the world. Among the Cambridge class, this simple prejudice renders Russian collusion a first principle with no need for supporting evidence…. Without supporting evidence to prove their fantastical worldview, the global elite set out to manufacture some.

First up was Christopher Steele, who hasn’t set foot in Russia since 2009. He wears as a badge the claim that Putin hates him which, if true, means he has no real Russian sources. Maybe because of that, Steele’s farcical dossier on Trump was not enough for the FBI to open an investigation, and these international men of mystery needed something more. They invited George Papadopoulos to London, used a Maltese asset disguised as a Russian agent – Joseph Mifsud – to feed him a whopper about Hillary Clinton’s emails, then claimed he repeated the lie to Andrew Downer, an Australian diplomat with ties to the Clinton Foundation. That was the final straw that caused lovestruck counterintelligence specialist Peter Strzok to open an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign ..

[..] the FBI delegated the inspection of the computer servers to CrowdStrike, an insider paid by the DNC. James Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2017 that CrowdStrike was “a highly respected private company.” What he failed to mention was that a month before his testimony, CrowdStrike had been caught falsely blaming Russia for a hack into a Ukrainian artillery computer app. In other words, at the same time this “highly respected private company” was blaming the Russians for stealing the Clinton campaign’s emails, it was fabricating a different Russian hack to serve Ukrainian misinformation.

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“The press stands in place of the public in holding the government accountable..”

This is the essence. And it’s not what the press has been doing. Other than WikiLeaks, that is.

Indictment of Julian Assange is a Clear and Present Danger to Journalism (EFF)

The century-old tradition that the Espionage Act not be used against journalistic activities has now been broken. Seventeen new charges were filed yesterday against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. These new charges make clear that he is being prosecuted for basic journalistic tasks, including being openly available to receive leaked information, expressing interest in publishing information regarding certain otherwise secret operations of government, and then disseminating newsworthy information to the public. The government has now dropped the charade that this prosecution is only about hacking or helping in hacking. Regardless of whether Assange himself is labeled a “journalist,” the indictment targets routine journalistic practices.

But the indictment is also a challenge to fundamental principles of freedom of speech. As the Supreme Court has explained, every person has the right to disseminate truthful information pertaining to matters of public interest, even if that information was obtained by someone else illegally. The indictment purports to evade this protection by repeatedly alleging that Assange simply “encouraged” his sources to provide information to him. This places a fundamental free speech right on uncertain and ambiguous footing. Make no mistake, this not just about Assange or Wikileaks—this is a threat to all journalism, and the public interest. The press stands in place of the public in holding the government accountable, and the Assange charges threaten that critical role.

The charges threaten reporters who communicate with and knowingly obtain information of public interest from sources and whistleblowers, or publish that information, by sending a clear signal that they can be charged with spying simply for doing their jobs.

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As if the US media doesn’t self-censor enough yet.

The US Media Is in the Crosshairs of the New Assange Indictment (Lawfare)

As Susan Hennessey said, “[I]t will be very difficult to craft an Espionage Act case against him that won’t adversely impact true journalists.” I don’t think this is an accident. I think the government’s indictment has the U.S. news media squarely in its sights. The first sentence of the indictment reads: “To obtain information to release on the WikiLeaks website, ASSANGE encouraged sources to (i) circumvent legal safeguards on information; (ii) provide that protected information to WikiLeaks for public dissemination; and (iii) continue the pattern of illegally procuring and providing protected information to WikiLeaks for distribution to the public.”

This is exactly what national security reporters and their news publications often ask government officials or contractors to do. Anytime a reporter asks to receive information knowing it is classified, that person encourages sources to circumvent legal safeguards on information. The news organizations’ encouragement is underscored by the mechanisms they provide for sources to convey information securely and anonymously. (The New York Times’s menu includes SecureDrop, an “encrypted submission system set up by The Times [that] uses the Tor anonymity software to protect [the] identity, location and the information” of the person who sends it.) Like WikiLeaks, these reporters and organizations encourage the sources to provide the “protected information” for public dissemination. And also like WikiLeaks, they often encourage the sources to engage in a “pattern of illegally procuring and providing protected information.”

There are other similarities. The government thought it significant that the WikiLeaks website states: “WikiLeaks accepts classified, censored, or otherwise restricted material of political, diplomatic, or ethical significance” (emphasis in indictment). This sounds very much like the public interest standard that U.S. editors use to decide when and how to publish classified information. Former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie once told me, “‘Highly classified’ doesn’t mean anything to me …. The question is, is it important for the American public to know that its government is acting in its name in this particular way?” Or as the Times’s former executive editor once said, “As journalists in a robust democracy, our responsibility is to publish information of interest to the public, and that includes publishing secrets when we find them.”

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“..the OPCW was manipulated by the NATO powers to produce a highly biased report that omits the findings of its own engineers.”

The World: What is Really Happening (Murray)

[..] the OPCW Fact Finding Mission reflected in their final report none of the findings of their own sub-group of university based engineers from two European universities, but instead produced something that is very close to the amateur propaganda “analysis” put out by Bellingcat. The implications of this fraud are mind-blowing. The genuine experts’ findings were completely suppressed until they were leaked last week. And still then, this leak – which has the most profound ramifications – has in itself been almost completely suppressed by the mainstream media, except for those marginalised outliers who still manage to get a platform, Robert Fisk and Peter Hitchens (a tiny platform in the case of Fisk).


Consider what this tells us. A fake chemical attack incident was used to justify military aggression against Syria by the USA, UK and France. The entire western mainstream media promoted the anti-Syrian and anti-Russian narrative to justify that attack. The supposedly neutral international watchdog, the OPCW, was manipulated by the NATO powers to produce a highly biased report that omits the findings of its own engineers. Which can only call into doubt the neutrality and reliability of the OPCW in its findings on the Skripals too. There has been virtually no media reporting of the scandalous cover-up. This really does tell you a very great deal more about how the Western world works than the vicissitudes of the ludicrously over-promoted Theresa May and her tears of self pity.

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Fragmentation is the key word. But the big power blocks will remain, courtesy of the EU structure. Salvini’s Lega may become the largest single party in Europe, but the real power lies in those blocks.

Europeans Vote, With EU Future In Balance (R.)

Europeans vote on Sunday in an election expected to further dent traditional pro-EU parties and bolster the nationalist fringe in the European Parliament, putting a potential brake on collective action in economic and foreign policy. Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) in the east of the bloc and will finally close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) in Italy. Seven states have already voted, with 21 joining in on Sunday in what is the world’s biggest democratic exercise after India. Right-wing populists top opinion polls in two of the big four member states – Italy and supposedly exiting Britain – and could also win in a third, France, rattling a pro-Union campaign championed by centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

However, exit polls in some countries that have already voted have given pro-EU parties some comfort. The Dutch Labour party, all but written off, looks to have finished first, helped by the visibility of having the EU socialists’ lead candidate, current EU deputy chief executive Frans Timmermans. In the Netherlands pro-Union parties scored 70%, up three points on the last European Parliament vote in 2014, and left the upstart anti-immigration party of Thierry Baudet fourth on 11%. The Dutch also turned out in bigger numbers, albeit at just 41%, reinforcing hopes in Brussels of reversing a 40-year trend of declining turnout that critics cite as a “democratic deficit” that undermines the legitimacy of European Union lawmaking.

An exit poll after Friday’s vote in deeply pro-EU Ireland pointed to an expected “Green Wave”. Across the bloc, concerns about climate change and the environment may bolster the pro-EU Greens group and could mean tighter regulations for industry and for the terms the EU may set for partners seeking trade accords. Britain also voted on Thursday and a new party focused on getting out of the EU was forecast by pre-vote opinion polls to come top, but there has been no exit poll data. Attention there has focused on the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May. Results will be out late on Sunday, when all countries have voted.

[..] Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy may pip the Christian Democrats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bloc’s power broker, to become the biggest single party in the 751-seat chamber. Right-wing ruling parties in Poland and Hungary, defying Brussels over curbs to judicial and media independence, will also return eurosceptic lawmakers on Sunday.

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Grandma does.

Who Gets To Choose The UK’s Next Prime Minister? (BBC)

With Theresa May finally on her way out of Downing Street, a Tory leadership contest that has been bubbling under for months is now starting. It’s a two-stage process. The first sees votes among Conservative MPs designed to whittle the contenders down to just two front-runners. The second stage sees the party’s grassroots members choose between them in a postal ballot. In other words, it is members of the public – those who pay £25 a year to join the Conservative Party – who get the final say on who the next prime minister is. There will not be a general election because the party is already in power. So, who are its members and what do they think on key issues, not least of course Brexit?

We don’t know exactly how many Conservative Party members there are because – unlike the UK’s other parties – the Conservatives don’t regularly release the figures. The last time they did so was back in March 2018, when they put the figure at 124,000. That’s larger than some of the more pessimistic guesstimates, but way down on the peak of nearly three million that the party boasted in the early 1950s. Membership plunged after that before levelling off at around one million in the 1970s and 1980s, since when it has been dropping almost inexorably. One thing we can be sure of, however, is that the Tories have far fewer members than the Labour Party. Even if we assume that Labour’s membership has fallen from the late 2017 peak of more than 550,000, it still has a huge advantage over the Conservatives when it comes to campaigning on the ground.


[..] What Tory members haven’t cooled on, however, is Brexit. Indeed, since we started tracking them in 2015, they’ve hardened their position. It is clear that they are not supporters of the deal negotiated by their outgoing leader. In fact, it is now the case that fully two-thirds of them back a no-deal Brexit – an outcome supported by only a quarter of voters as a whole. Nor are they in the least bit keen on the idea of letting the public have another say on the UK’s EU membership. Some 84% of them oppose the idea of a new referendum on the issue. In short, the grassroots aren’t simply sceptical on Europe; they can’t wait to leave, whatever that might take. This, then, is the Conservative Party electorate. And those MPs hoping to succeed Mrs May will need to pitch their promises accordingly.

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Bubble. Tesla is brought to you by the Fed.

Elon Musk Confronts The “Bear Case” (VF)

Don’t say “death spiral,” but Tesla has unquestionably entered a perilous new era. Last September, a month after Elon Musk’s notorious “funding secured” tweet, I wrote a New York Times opinion piece about the fact that the real problem at Tesla, Musk’s electric-car company, was not necessarily Musk’s irresponsible, and perhaps illegal, behavior as C.E.O. Rather, it was the Tesla balance sheet, which was larded with $11 billion in debt, some $1.7 billion of which needed to be paid off before November 2019. Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when a company doesn’t have the operating earnings to service that debt, a single dollar of debt can be too much. And then it becomes more like a Ponzi scheme, which, to be honest, Tesla is increasingly resembling.


Can Tesla convince investors to give it enough new capital to pay off the maturing debt before the world concludes that the company doesn’t have the resources to meet its obligations as they become due? That, of course, is the textbook definition of a bankrupt company. When I last wrote about Tesla, the company’s stock was trading at $300 per share, giving Tesla a market capitalization of around $51 billion. Nowadays, Tesla’s stock is trading around $190 per share and the company is valued at around $34 billion. That’s a loss of a cool $17 billion for equity investors, in eight months. In November, Tesla repaid $230 million of convertible debt with some of its cash pile instead of converting the debt to equity because its stock price was well below the conversion price. In March, Tesla paid off another $920 million in convertible notes in cash, again because its stock price was below the conversion price.

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..eating a corn chip produced from Bt corn might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of our lives.”

You Will Probably Never Want To Eat GMO Food Again (Snyder)

In recent years, researchers have been pushing the boundaries of biology in order to come up with new “plant-based” alternatives to existing food products. Essentially, “synthetic biology” is being used “to create life forms from scratch”… Impossible’s “bleeding” veggie burger, shrimp made of algae, and vegan cheeses that melt are all making their way into restaurants and on to supermarket shelves, offering consumers a new generation of plant-based proteins that look, act, and taste far more like the real thing than ever before. What consumers may not realize, however, is that many of these new foods are made using synthetic biology, an emerging science that applies principles of genetic engineering to create life forms from scratch.

[..] “GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. When bugs bite the plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide, called Bt — produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis’ has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into corn and cotton, so the plants do the killing.” The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic, has properties of an allergen, and unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.” Do you think that it is actually safe to eat such “food”?

Sadly, the health consequences from eating GMO food may not just be temporary. In fact, one study found that the effects of eating genetically-modified food could last for a lot longer that anyone had anticipated… “The only published human feeding study revealed what may be the most dangerous problem from GM foods. The gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have potentially harmful GM proteins produced continuously inside of us. Put more plainly, eating a corn chip produced from Bt corn might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of our lives.”

Read more …

Without the precautionary principle, it’s certain that we will poison our children and not realize it until it’s too late.

Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Fatty Liver Disease in Humans (BP)

Glyphosate weed killers may be contributing to the growing worldwide epidemic f non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that causes swelling of the liver, and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. Researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego found that higher levels of glyphosate detected in urine corresponded significantly with individuals that have also been diagnosed with NAFLD. Advocates are urging lawmakers at every level to respond to the accumulating science on the danger of glyphosate herbicides, ban their use, and adopt policy changes that put into place organic land management practices.


“There have been a handful of studies, all of which we cited in our paper, where animals either were or weren’t fed Roundup or glyphosate directly, and they all point to the same thing: the development of liver pathology,” said Paul J. Mills, PhD, professor and chief in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine in a press release. [..] With glyphosate still the most popular herbicide used in the U.S., exposure to the chemical is alarmingly widespread. “The increasing levels [of glyphosate] in people’s urine very much correlates to the consumption of Roundup [glyphosate] treated crops into our diet,” said Dr. Mills. He cautions that the results need further follow up, and there may be other pesticides in the environment leading to similar disease outcomes. “There are so many synthetic chemicals we are regularly exposed to,” Dr. Miller notes. “We measured just one.”

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Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it’s a memory.
– Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

Feb 072019
 


René Magritte The Pleasure Principle (Portrait of Edward James) 1937

 

Led By Donkeys (G.)
Tusk: Special Place In Hell For Brexiteers Without Even Sketch Of A Plan (Ind.)
Corbyn Lays Out Labour’s Terms For Backing May On Brexit (G.)
Not Opposing Brexit Could Lose Labour 45 Seats (G.)
Yellen: Next Fed Move May Be A Rate Cut (CNBC)
Fed’s Quarles Sees 2019 As An ‘Interim’ Year For Bank Stress Tests (R.)
Press Needs More Than Super Bowl Ad To Fix Its Plunging Credibility (ZH)
Homo Credulus (Bowman)
French, German Farmers Must Destroy Crops After GMOs Found In Monsanto Seeds (RT)
The Killing Of Large Species Is Pushing Them Towards Extinction (G.)
Global Warming Could Exceed 1.5ºC Within Five Years (G.)

 

 

50 days to Brexit. Don’t be surprised if that whole country dissolves before our eyes.

Perfect name, good actions.

Led By Donkeys (G.)

At 5.55am, Talgarth Road, one of the major arteries into west London, is just beginning to clog up with early rush-hour traffic. A man named Dave, his white van pulled over into a loading bay, is putting up a billboard poster by the side of the carriageway. The previous one was an advert for Calvin Klein featuring the model Lara Stone. Over the course of 20 minutes, Dave covers Stone up, expertly pasting rectangles of paper over her, using a ladder for the high ones, then sweeping over with his brush. The first rectangle, in the top left corner, contains a headshot of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the beginning of his Twitter handle. As Dave lines up edges, pastes and brushes, and Stone disappears, a quote emerges from Rees-Mogg.

This one wasn’t a tweet; he said it in parliament. “We could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have a second referendum after the renegotiation is completed.” There are three other men here, dressed in hoodies, lumberjack shirts and beanies, lurking around and admiring the work. Their work – because Richard, Adam and Chris are three of the four key people behind Led By Donkeys, the remainer guerrilla activists highlighting the hypocrisy and lies of politicians by posting their damning quotes on billboards around the country. Less guerrilla now, actually: they’ve gone legit, this hoarding is paid for. Before, they just took them over.

[..] It all began, as most good ideas do, in the pub. They were talking about the infamous David Cameron tweet – “Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong government with me or chaos with Ed Miliband” – which was doing the rounds again after Theresa May cancelled the vote on her deal in December. And someone said: why don’t they slap it on a billboard, make it the tweet you can’t delete? The next day, on the WhatsApp group, one of them said they had found someone who would print it out for them. They all agreed: “Let’s just fucking do it.” It was cheaper to do five, so they cobbled together four more tweets – from Michael Gove, David Davies, John Redwood and Liam Fox – not really thinking they’d ever put them up. Initial outlay was about 200 quid, plus £90 on a ladder from B&Q.

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Tusk is an idiot, but he was right when he said thet as both May and Corbyn want to Leave, there is no political leadership for Remain. But the majority of Britons by now want to Remain. Don’t underestimate the danger of this.

Tusk: Special Place In Hell For Brexiteers Without Even Sketch Of A Plan (Ind.)

A war of words has further undermined Theresa May’s mission to Brussels to rescue her Brexit deal, after the EU warned of a “special place in hell” for politicians who botched the project. Downing Street and Tory politicians hit back angrily after the extraordinary attack by Donald Tusk on those who triumphed in the referendum “without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely”. The prime minister’s spokesman urged people to ask whether such language was “helpful” – before noting, sarcastically, that was impossible “because he didn’t take any questions”. Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, condemned the comments by Mr Tusk, the European Council president, as “disgraceful” and “spiteful”, saying such behaviour “demeans him”.

Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up the Tories in power, went further – branding him a “devilish, trident-wielding, Euro maniac”. But pro-EU Tory Anna Soubry backed him and named Boris Johnson, David Davis and Nigel Farage as among his likely targets, for having “abdicated all responsibility”. The fury overshadowed the tough message for Ms May before she lands in Brussels on Thursday morning – that the EU will never agree to reopening the divorce deal, as she has vowed to do. The prime minister will again demand either an end date for the Irish backstop or an exit mechanism from it for there to be any hope of the Commons passing the deal. Ms May appeared to drop her third option – replacing the backstop with ill-defined “alternative arrangements”, based on unproven technology – to the anger of some Brexiteer Tories.

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Vote Corbyn, get May.

Corbyn Lays Out Labour’s Terms For Backing May On Brexit (G.)

Jeremy Corbyn has written to the prime minister, offering to throw Labour’s support behind her Brexit deal if she makes five legally binding commitments – including joining a customs union. The Labour leader held private talks with Theresa May last week for the first time since her deal was rejected by a historic margin of 230 votes in January. In a follow-up letter sent on Wednesday, he laid out in the clearest terms yet what commitments he is seeking in exchange for offering Labour support. His intervention will dismay backbench Labour MPs and grassroots activists still hoping he will switch the party’s policy towards demanding a second Brexit referendum – which is not mentioned in the letter.

And it comes as No 10 prepares to publish legislation underpinning workers’ rights, perhaps as early as next week, in an attempt to win support from Labour backbenchers. In his letter, Corbyn calls for the government to rework the political declaration setting the framework for Britain’s future relationship with the EU – and then enshrine these new negotiating objectives in UK law, so that a future Tory leader could not sweep them away after Brexit. He says the changes to the political declaration must include:

• A “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union”, including a say in future trade deals.
• Close alignment with the single market, underpinned by “shared institutions”.
• “Dynamic alignment on rights and protections”, so that UK standards do not fall behind those of the EU.
• Clear commitments on future UK participation in EU agencies and funding programmes.
• Unambiguous agreements on future security arrangements, such as use of the European arrest warrant.

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Britain can no longer manage with two parties. Same as so many countries.

Not Opposing Brexit Could Lose Labour 45 Seats (G.)

A trade union affiliated with the Labour party has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party could lose an additional 45 seats in a snap election if it fails to take an anti-Brexit position, in a leaked report. The report, drawn up by the transport union TSSA and including extensive polling, was sent to the leftwing pressure group Momentum. It appears to be an attempt to pile pressure on the Labour leader over Brexit. It claims that “Brexit energises Labour remain voters” disproportionately, and warns: “There is no middle way policy which gets support from both sides of the debate.” The Guardian understands that while the report was sent to Momentum, it was not commissioned or requested by the group.

Sources inside the party stressed that there were risks from turning either way on Brexit – and other polls showed a different picture. The document – marked strictly confidential – says: “There can be no disguising the sense of disappointment and disillusionment with Labour if it fails to oppose Brexit and there is every indication that it will be far more damaging to the party’s electoral fortunes than the Iraq war. “Labour would especially lose the support of people below the age of 35, which could make this issue comparable to the impact the tuition fees and involvement in the coalition had on Lib Dem support.” The document starts by pointing out that the TSSA has “supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the very beginning”.

It says that the party’s supporters view Brexit as a “Tory project”. It adds that four-fifths of them believe the current deal will hurt the British economy and 91.4% of Labour voters do not trust the government to deliver a good Brexit for people such as them.

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Only in hindsight will Americans see the damage done by these people.

Yellen: Next Fed Move May Be A Rate Cut (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve’s next move may well be an interest rate cut if weakening growth around the world starts infecting the U.S. economy, former central bank Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday. Weakening economies in China and Europe are posing danger to an otherwise strong U.S. economy, Yellen told CNBC’s Steve Liesman during a “Power Lunch” interview. “Of course it’s possible. If global growth really weakens and that spills over to the United States where financial conditions tighten more and we do see a weakening in the U.S. economy, it’s certainly possible that the next move is a cut,” she said. “But both outcomes are possible.” The former central bank head cited “slowing global growth” as the biggest threat to the economy she once watched over. “The data from China has been recently weak, the European data has also come in weaker than expected,” she said.

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The very last people who should conduct such tests.

Fed’s Quarles Sees 2019 As An ‘Interim’ Year For Bank Stress Tests (R.)

U.S. bank stress tests conducted during an “interim” period this year will help the Federal Reserve decide what permanent changes to make to the closely followed examinations, the Fed’s point person on financial supervision Randal Quarles said on Wednesday. On Tuesday the Fed said it would make its stress testing of large banks more transparent in 2019, providing financial firms significantly more information about how their portfolios would perform under potential economic shocks. The changes respond to long-running bank complaints that the current stress-testing process is cumbersome and opaque. Less complex banks with assets between $100 billion and $250 billion, such as SunTrust Banks and Fifth Third Bancorp, do not have to face 2019 stress tests, as the Fed is moving to a two-year cycle for testing those firms.

“Our challenge now is to preserve the strength of the test, while improving its efficiency, transparency, and integration into the post-crisis regulatory framework,” Federal Reserve Vice Chairman of Supervision Randal Quarles said in remarks prepared for delivery at a Council for Economic Education event in New York. “Our experience with this ‘interim’ year will inform the move to a permanently longer testing cycle – a change that would, of course, be subject to a full notice and comment process.” The 2019 tests also include factoring in a jump to 10 percent unemployment from the current 4 percent rate, as well as elevated stress in corporate loan and commercial real estate markets in the most severe scenario.

Read more …

The press, including WaPo, have changed tactics. They no longer try for a larger audience, they make their existing readers more faithful. More subscribers, much ‘better’ targeted ads.

Press Needs More Than Super Bowl Ad To Fix Its Plunging Credibility (ZH)

Media Bias: While journalists are getting pink slips across the country, the Washington Post decided to dump a boatload of cash for a Super Bowl image ad that tried to portray the news media as national heroes. Here’s a better, and much cheaper, idea to restore the industry’s shattered reputation: Be less blatantly partisan. In the 60-second ad, Tom Hanks intones about the importance of journalists against the backdrop of historic events. Thankfully, during these times, the ad says, “There’s someone to gather the facts. To bring you the story. No matter the cost. Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free.” The problem with journalists today, however, is that they aren’t interested in gathering facts or empowering the public with knowledge.

Instead, they are interested mainly in pushing their agenda — a basic failing of the profession brought into high relief over the past two years. The latest IBD/TIPP Poll makes this abundantly clear. The poll asked several questions to gauge the public’s perception of the mainstream news media. What did it find? First, that fully half the country says its trust in the media decreased over the past two years. A tiny 8% say it’s increased. That includes a plurality of independents (49%). Even among Republicans, who’ve long grown accustomed to media bias, 81% say their trust in the press has dropped over the past two years. Geographically, those in the Midwest and the South are mostly likely to say their trust in the press has declined (52% and 57%, respectively) since Trump took office.

Men are far more likely than women (54% vs. 47%). And those with incomes over $75,000 (51% of home distrust the media more) more than lower-income households. These findings alone should be alarming. After all, as any corporate executive knows, you can’t run a successful business when a vast and increasing share of your customer base doesn’t trust the product you are selling. It gets worse. The poll found that more than two-thirds of the public (69%) think the news media “is more concerned with advancing its points of view rather than reporting all the facts.” Only 29% of the public disagrees with that statement. In other words, nearly seven out of 10 adults in the country think the Post ad’s blather about “gathering the facts” is bull. That includes 72% of independents, 95% of Republicans, and — surprisingly enough — 43% of Democrats.

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And how can the press pull off its tricks? Easy as pie. Edward Bernays and Goebbels.

Homo Credulus (Bowman)

Given the right circumstances… a little programing… and enough time for it all to marinate in his soft, mammalian brain… there is almost nothing Homo Credulus will not learn to embrace. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the historical record; you’ll soon wonder how we ever got this far. Sure, you’ll discover gizmos and flying contraptions… art and agriculture… music and mathematics. You’ll witness spectacular scientific breakthroughs, the number “0” and a man’s footprint on the moon. You’ll also find automobiles with so many cup holders, you won’t know where to holster your oversized 7/11 Big Gulp. But you’ll also scratch you head. Perhaps you’ll even weep. And if you think hard enough, you’ll put a few things to serious question…

“Central banks?” “Modern democracy?” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show?” How has mankind survived such atrocities? Self inflicted, no less! And why, moreover, does he rush so earnestly to repeat and replay his worst mistakes? Don’t be too hard on yourself, Dear Reader. After all, repetition is nothing new… You’ll recall that it was the Greeks who first gave the world democracy – from the Greek, demokratia, literally “Rule by ‘People’”. (And yes, it was those very same Greeks who put their own beloved Socrates to death… by a majority vote of 140-361.) Today, democracy is a cherished tenet of “the West.” It is woven into the civic religion, sewn into the social fabric. Men march off eagerly to fight for it, to proselytize it … and to die in forgotten ditches defending it. At least, that’s what they believe they’re doing. As usual, the poor saps have been duped.

The phrase “Making the world safe for democracy” was actually a marketing slogan, coined back in the 1910s, as a way to sell “The Great War” to America. Weary from their own disastrous Civil War just a few decades earlier, in which hundreds of thousands gave up the ghost, Americans were mostly inward looking at the time. That is to say, they wanted little to do with what they largely saw as a “European affair.” Polls might have indicated no appetite for battle… but the nation’s politicians were nonetheless starved for military misadventure. They sensed big profits abroad, both in manufacturing armaments and making onerous bank loans to foreign lands. Sure, “the nation” would have to fill tank and trench with warm young bodies… but very few soldiers would carry senatorial surnames along with their rifles.

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Too late already. A deliberate Monsanto policy.

French, German Farmers Must Destroy Crops After GMOs Found In Monsanto Seeds (RT)

French and German farmers have been forced to dig up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after authorities found an illegal GMO strain mixed in with the natural seeds they’d bought from Bayer-Monsanto. Authorities discovered the illicit seeds in three separate batches of rapeseed seeds last fall, but the public has only just been notified. While Bayer issued a recall, by the time the farmers learned of it some of the seeds had already been planted, covering 8,000 ha in France and 3,000 ha in Germany. Bayer-Monsanto estimated the number of rogue seeds at just about .005 percent of the total volume of rapeseed seeds sold to both nations under the brand name Dekalb, but each country has a ban on GMO cultivation, with strict penalties for “accidental” contamination of standard crops.

The agrochemical giant refused to estimate the total cost of the GMO contamination, which knocks out not only this season’s crop but also the next season’s, as farmers will be barred from growing rapeseed next year “to avoid re-emergence of the GMO strain,” according to Bayer-Monsanto’s French COO Catherine Lamboley. They offered to compensate farmers €2,000 per hectare, which would work out to about €20 million between both countries. The cause of the contamination is unknown, Lamboley said, claiming the seeds were produced in Argentina “in a GMO-free area” and declaring that the company “has decided to immediately stop all rapeseed production in Argentina.” The rogue GMO seeds were of a variety grown in Canada that is banned in Europe, although imported food made with the modified rapeseed is permitted for human and animal consumption as long as it is adequately labeled.

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Except those farmed.

The Killing Of Large Species Is Pushing Them Towards Extinction (G.)

The vast majority of the world’s largest species are being pushed towards extinction, with the killing of the heftiest animals for meat and body parts the leading cause of decline, according to a new study. While habitat loss, pollution and other threats pose a significant menace to large species, also known as megafauna, intentional and unintentional trapping, poaching and slaughter is the single biggest factor in their decline, researchers found. An analysis of 362 megafauna species found that 70% of them are in decline, with 59% classed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Direct killing by humans is the leading cause across all classes of animals, the study states.

A range of maladies including intensive agriculture, toxins and invasive competitors are also helping to trigger these declines. This situation adds to the “mounting evidence that humans are poised to cause a sixth mass extinction event”, according to the research, published in Conservation Letters. It adds that “minimizing the direct killing of the world’s largest vertebrates is a priority conservation strategy that might save many of these iconic species and the functions and services they provide.” Humans cause the deaths of large creatures in a variety of ways, from snares that entangle mountain gorillas and the poaching of elephants for ivory to the killing of the Chinese giant salamander, which can grow up to 6ft long and is considered a delicacy in Asia.

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So what are you going to do about it? Appeal to your politicians?

Global Warming Could Exceed 1.5ºC Within Five Years (G.)

Global warming could temporarily hit 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the first time between now and 2023, according to a long-term forecast by the Met Office. Meteorologists said there was a 10% chance of a year in which the average temperature rise exceeds 1.5C, which is the lowest of the two Paris agreement targets set for the end of the century. Until now, the hottest year on record was 2016, when the planet warmed 1.11C above pre-industrial levels, but the long-term trend is upward. Man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are adding 0.2C of warming each decade but the incline of temperature charts is jagged due to natural variation: hotter El Niño years zig above the average, while cooler La Ninã years zag below.

In the five-year forecast released on Wednesday, the Met Office highlights the first possibility of a natural El Niño combining with global warming to exceed the 1.5C mark. Dr Doug Smith, Met Office research fellow, said: “A run of temperatures of 1C or above would increase the risk of a temporary excursion above the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Predictions now suggest around a 10% chance of at least one year between 2019 and 2023 temporarily exceeding 1.5C.” Climatologists stressed this did not mean the world had broken the Paris agreement 80 years ahead of schedule because international temperature targets are based on 30-year averages.

“Exceeding 1.5C in one given year does not mean that the 1.5C goal has been breached and can be redirected towards the bin,” said Joeri Rogelj, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute. “The noise in the annual temperatures should not distract from the long-term trend.”

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Feb 022019
 


Pablo Picasso The bathers 1918

 

Russia Suspends INF Treaty In ‘Mirror Response’ To US – Putin (RT)
US Payrolls Surge By 304,000, Smashing Estimates Despite Shutdown (CNBC)
Big Trouble in Little China (Schmid)
How Fast Housing Markets in Sydney & Melbourne Are Coming Unglued (WS)
Venezuela To Sell Gold Reserves To UAE Without Russia’s Help (RT)
Italy Rejects Guaido, Says Venezuela is a Sovereign State (Telesur)
Whitehall Begins ‘Serious Work’ On Customs Union With EU (Ind.)
Judge Considers Gag Order On Roger Stone And Prosecution (BBC)
America’s Kurdish Allies Risk Being Wiped Out – By NATO (Graeber)
Rigging the Science of GMO Ecotoxicity (Latham)

 

 

US arms producers eye their ultimate bid for trillions in development fees. But Russia is not fazed at all.

“Let’s wait until our partners mature sufficiently to hold a level, meaningful conversation on this topic..”

Russia Suspends INF Treaty In ‘Mirror Response’ To US – Putin (RT)

President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is halting its participation in the Cold War-era INF nuclear agreement after Washington’s decision to suspend it. Russia will develop missiles previously forbidden under its terms. “Ours will be a mirror response. Our US partners say that they are ceasing their participation in the treaty, and we are doing the same,” the Russian president said in Moscow on Saturday in reference to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). “They say that they are doing research and testing [on new weapons] and we will do the same thing,” Putin said during a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

The Russian leader emphasized that while Moscow’s offers on modernizing the 1987 treaty and making it more transparent “are still on the table,” no more talks should be initiated with the Americans to try and save it. “Let’s wait until our partners mature sufficiently to hold a level, meaningful conversation on this topic, which is extremely important for us, them, and the entire world,” Putin said. In December, the Trump administration threatened to quit the agreement, which limits nuclear and conventional land-launched missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500km within 60 days, unless Russia stopped allegedly violating it with its 9M729 missile, which Washington claims exceeds the permitted range.

Moscow denied that it had broken the treaty, and offered additional mutual inspections during failed talks in Geneva last month. On February 1, Washington officially confirmed that the bilateral agreement signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan will be suspended for 180 days. Washington also signaled intentions to entirely withdraw from it afterwards. During the meeting in front on the cameras on Saturday, Lavrov insisted that Moscow “attempted to do everything we could to rescue the treaty.” This included “unprecedented steps going far beyond our obligations,” he said, accusing Washington of systematically undermining the INF Treaty at least since the late 1990s.

Read more …

“December’s big initially reported gain of 312,000 was knocked all the way down to 222,000..”

US Payrolls Surge By 304,000, Smashing Estimates Despite Shutdown (CNBC)

Job growth in January shattered expectations, with nonfarm payrolls surging by 304,000 despite a partial government shutdown that was the longest in history, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate ticked higher to 4 percent, a level where it had last been in June, a likely effect of the shutdown, according to the department. However, officials said federal workers generally were counted as employed during the period because they received pay during the survey week of Jan. 12. On balance, federal government employment actually rose by 1,000. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected payrolls to rise by 170,000 and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 3.9 percent.

In all, it was a powerful performance at a time when economists increasingly have said they expect growth to slow in 2019. January marked 100 months in a row of positive job creation, by far the longest streak on record. Stock futures and Treasury yields jumped in response to the better-than-expected report. The news was not all good, though, as data revisions pushed previous numbers lower. December’s big initially reported gain of 312,000 was knocked all the way down to 222,000, while November’s rose from 176,000 to 196,000. On net, that took the two months down by 70,000, bringing the three-month average to 241,000. That’s still well above the trend that would be common this far into an economic expansion dating back 9 1/2 years.

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“Real GDP fell by 1.7 percent and 0.6 percent in Q3 and Q4 respectively compared with the official figures showing growth of 6.4 percent and 6 percent..”

Big Trouble in Little China (Schmid)

There are those who think “China will take over the world” with its technocratic central planning. Then there are those who say its debt bubble is so gigantic, the economy will crash and burn. The truth, probably, lies somewhere in the middle. And it looks like we are getting closer to know the truth. Official GDP growth, is of course on track at 6.6 percent for the year 2018, stellar among industrial and even emerging economies. But nobody believes these figures, even though they are the worst since 1990. “Real GDP fell by 1.7 percent and 0.6 percent in Q3 and Q4 respectively compared with the official figures showing growth of 6.4 percent and 6 percent,” Enodo Economics chief economist Diana Choyleva wrote in a note to clients about the annualized growth during the past two quarters of 2018. According to Choyleva, China is experiencing an unofficial recession.

While this doesn’t mean the crash and burn scenario is unavoidable, the flurry of official and unofficial economic indicators flashing red make the “take over the world” scenario quite unbelievable for the intermediate future. No matter which official indicator you look at, the Chinese economy is in decline. Retail sales growth is barely above 5 percent, the lowest level since 2003 with automobile sales crashing 13 percent. Total imports in U.S. dollar terms are down 7.6 percent in December of 2018 as compared to the year before.

The main problem of the Chinese economy is debt and overcapacity. Debt has blown up to 300 percent of GDP through the state-controlled banking system. The financing went into building trains, roads, airports, apartments, shipyards, anything that can be built. And while some of the stuff is undoubtedly useful, a lot of it is not. If it’s not useful or sustainable, it won’t generate the returns necessary to service said debt. This problem could have been nipped in the bud, but Chinese central planners wanted ever more steel mills and high speed trains and push back the day of reckoning when most of the unprofitable companies would go bankrupt. So in order to keep the gravy train running, more debt had to be issued to build more stuff.

Read more …

TEXT

How Fast Housing Markets in Sydney & Melbourne Are Coming Unglued (WS)

“Can we still describe this as an orderly slowdown in housing conditions?” mused CoreLogic Asia Pacific’s head of research Tim Lawless about the Australian housing market today. Over the last three months, the index for Sydney dropped 4.5%, and the index for Melbourne 4.0%, the “largest rolling quarterly fall since at least the 80’s.” Across the metro area of Sydney, prices of all types of homes combined, according to CoreLogic’s Daily Home Value Index, fell 1.35% in January from December, the third month in a row with a monthly decline of over 1%. The 4.5% decline over the past three months pencils out to an annual rate of decline of 17%. The index is now down about 12% from its peak in July 2017. Note the accelerating decline over the past three months:

The 12% drop from the peak in July 2017 pushed the index back where it been in July 2016 – which shows how crazy and unsustainable the price boom had been on the way up. Now it is getting unwound at a slightly slower pace on the way down. Over the 12-month period through January, the index fell 9.7%, with house prices down 10.9% and condo prices down 6.9%. At the same time, the number of homes of all types listed for sale in the Sydney metro jumped by 24%. [..] In the Melbourne metro, the second largest market in Australia, the housing bust is also taking on momentum, instead of slowing down, but started about four months behind Sydney’s. According to the CoreLogic Daily Home Value Index, since the peak in November 2017, prices of all types of homes fell about 9%, which pushed prices back to January 2017 levels. Note the acceleration over the past three months:

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US sanctions deprive Maduro of food and medicine. Seen as a way to create a revolt.

Venezuela To Sell Gold Reserves To UAE Without Russia’s Help (RT)

Caracas plans to sell 29 tons of gold to the United Arab Emirates in return for euro in cash, Reuters cites a senior government official as saying. The money is needed to provide liquidity for imports of basic goods.
According to the official, the sale of the nation’s gold began with the shipment of 3 tons on January 26, following the export last year of $900 million in unrefined gold to Turkey. The source denied Moscow’s involvement in the operation after rumors circulated this week that mysterious Russian-operated airplanes arrived in the country and planned to leave with Venezuelan gold on board. That is incorrect, according to the official. Caracas reportedly needs cash for imports of basic products that it sells to the population at subsidized prices.

A possible explanation for the payment for the gold in euros is US sanctions, which restrict Venezuela’s use of the dollar. Venezuela’s central bank reportedly began to sell gold reserves to allied countries after supplies of unrefined gold from small mines began to run low. The bank held 150 tons of gold in January 2018. By the end of November holdings had fallen to 132 tons between the central bank’s vaults and the Bank of England, according to central bank data. The Bank of England has refused to return an estimated 31 tons of Venezuelan gold worth $1.2 billion. Bankers in Britain are allegedly concerned that Venezuelan officials would sell state-owned gold “for personal gain.”

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“..this same mistake was made in Libya, and everyone today recognizes it. We must prevent the same thing happening in Venezuela.”

Italy Rejects Guaido, Says Venezuela is a Sovereign State (Telesur)

On Thursday the Italian Government withdrew from the position assumed by the European Parliament and informed that it does not recognize Juan Guaido as “president in charge” of Venezuela. “Italy does not recognize the self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido,” Italy’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Manlio Di Stefano, said. The senior official explained that Italy is “totally against” that a country or a group of countries “can determine the internal policies” of a sovereign State. “This is called the principle of non-intervention and is enshrined by the United Nations,” Di Stefano said. He also expressed the Italian Government’s concern to prevent a warlike confrontation in the South American nation and stressed that “this same mistake was made in Libya, and everyone today recognizes it. We must prevent the same thing happening in Venezuela.”

Last Wednesday the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, warned the international community that it is not “prudent” to support one of the opposing parties in Venezuela, since “an invasive attitude would generate more division in the world.” “We do not consider it opportune to rush to recognize investitures that have not gone through an electoral process,” said Conte. Nevertheless, violating international law, and adding to the U.S.-driven coup d’état, the European Parliament approved a resolution Thursday that recognizes Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s “interim president.”

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With just 56 days left, great moment to start.

Whitehall Begins ‘Serious Work’ On Customs Union With EU (Ind.)

Whitehall officials have begun “serious work” on the UK staying in a permanent EU customs union as a route to rescuing the Brexit deal, despite Theresa May ruling out the move, The Independent can reveal. Preparations are underway at a high level, amid a belief the beleaguered prime minister will be forced to offer the potentially crucial compromise to Labour. Ms May has repeatedly rejected a customs union – fearing a further revolt by anti-EU Tories – but some cabinet ministers are pushing her to accept that the red line will have to be dropped if her deal is to be rescued. They believe it could tempt scores of Labour MPs to back the deal when it returns to the Commons, even if Jeremy Corbyn himself still refuses to drop his opposition.

Now a well-placed Whitehall source has told The Independent: “There is serious work going on about a customs union. We need to be prepared, so we are ready if the politics moves in that direction.” Although the prime minister has not yet been won over, she will come under fierce pressure if, as expected, the EU rejects her plea to replace the backstop – before fresh Commons votes in just 12 days’ time. The concession of a customs union is unlikely to be enough to persuade Mr Corbyn to throw his weight what he is determined to brand “a Tory Brexit”, but many Labour MPs are expected to switch sides. Furthermore, despite inevitable Tory outrage, some Conservative MPs could be persuaded that a customs union would make it less likely the Irish backstop they oppose – designed to guarantee an open border – will ever be needed.

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“To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down (Osama) bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorise my wife and my dogs, is unconscionable..”

Judge Considers Gag Order On Roger Stone And Prosecution (BBC)

The judge overseeing the criminal case against ex-Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone says she is considering a gagging order on both him and the prosecution. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the case was “a criminal proceeding and not a public relations campaign”. Mr Stone has been charged on seven counts by special counsel Robert Mueller, including witness tampering and lying to Congress. He denies any wrongdoing and has made frequent jibes against Mr Mueller. Mr Stone, 66, a longstanding ally of the president, has previously vowed to resist any gagging order, saying on Tuesday: “I will fight and the deep state is in panic mode.”

Mr Mueller is overseeing an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow. President Trump denies collusion, calling the investigation “a witch hunt”, and the Kremlin denies any meddling. At a court hearing in Washington on Friday, Judge Jackson cited a number of “extrajudicial statements by the defendant”. She said that if a gagging order was imposed, Mr Stone would still be able to talk to the media about issues not connected to the case. She asked both sides to respond to the possible order by 8 February. The charges against Mr Stone are linked to an alleged Russian-led hack into the emails of Democratic Party officials. The information contained in the emails was released by Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign.

Since his arrest, Mr Stone has given a string of media interviews. He has been highly critical of his arrest, describing it as political theatrics. “To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down (Osama) bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorise my wife and my dogs, is unconscionable,” he told reporters. He has accused Mr Mueller of running a politically motivated “inquisition”. In an interview with Reuters, Mr Stone dismissed the charges as “process crimes” with no intentional lies. He said any failure to disclose emails or texts had been an “honest mistake”. In a phone interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio programme Infowars, Mr Stone said he intended to “fight for my life”.

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“This not only means they are supplied with state-of-the-art weaponry; it also means those weapons are being maintained by other Nato members. ”

America’s Kurdish Allies Risk Being Wiped Out – By NATO (Graeber)

Remember those plucky Kurdish forces who so heroically defended the Syrian city of Kobane from Isis? They risk being wiped out by Nato. The autonomous Kurdish region of Rojava in Northeast Syria, which includes Kobane, faces invasion. A Nato army is amassing on the border, marshaling all the overwhelming firepower and high-tech equipment that only the most advanced military forces can deploy. The commander in chief of those forces says he wants to return Rojava to its “rightful owners” who, he believes, are Arabs, not Kurds. Last spring, this leader made similar declarations about the westernmost Syrian Kurdish district of Afrin. Following that, the very same Nato army, using German tanks and British helicopter gunships, and backed by thousands of hardcore Islamist auxiliaries, overran the district.

According to Kurdish news agencies, the invasion led to over a 100,000 Kurdish civilians being driven out of Afrin entirely. They reportedly employed rape, torture and murder as systematic means of terror. That reign of terror continues to this day. And the commander and chief of this Nato army has suggested that he intends to do to the rest of North Syria what he did to Afrin. I am speaking, of course, of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is, increasingly, Turkey’s effective dictator. But it’s crucial to emphasize that these are Nato forces. This not only means they are supplied with state-of-the-art weaponry; it also means those weapons are being maintained by other Nato members. Fighter jets, helicopter gunships, even Turkey’s German-supplied Panzer forces – they all degrade extremely quickly under combat conditions.

The people who continually inspect, maintain, repair, replace, and provide them with spare parts tend to be contractors working for American, British, German or Italian firms. Their presence is critical because the Turkish military advantage over Northern Syria’s “People’s Defense Forces” (YPG) and “Women’s Defense Forces” (YPJ), those defenders of Kobane that Turkey has pledged to destroy, is entirely dependent on them. That’s because, aside from its technological advantage, the Turkish army is a mess. Most of its best officers and even pilots have been in prison since the failed coup attempt in 2016, and it’s now being run by commanders chosen by political loyalty instead of competence. Rojava’s defenders, in contrast, are seasoned veterans. In a fair fight, they would have no more problem fending off a Turkish incursion than they had driving back Turkish-backed Jihadis in the past.

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Precautionary principle. The only response.

Rigging the Science of GMO Ecotoxicity (Latham)

Researchers who work on GMO crops are developing special “artificial diet systems”. The stated purpose of these new diets is to standardise the testing of the Cry toxins, often used in GMO crops, for their effects on non-target species. But a paper published last month in the journal Toxins implies a very different interpretation of their purpose. The new diets contain hidden ingredients that can mask Cry toxicity and allow them to pass undetected through toxicity tests on beneficial species like lacewings (Hilbeck et al., 2018). Thus the new diets will benefit GMO crop developers by letting new ones come to market quicker and more reliably. Tests conducted with the new diets are even being used to cast doubt on previous findings of ecotoxicological harm.

The resulting crops are usually called Bt crops. Cry toxins kill insects that eat the GMO crop because the toxin punches a hole in the membranes of the insect gut when it is ingested, causing the insect to immediately stop feeding and eventually die of septicaemia. Cry toxins are controversial. Although the biotech industry claims they have narrow specificity, and are therefore safe for all organisms except so-called ‘target’ organisms, plenty of researchers disagree. They suspect that Cry toxins may affect many non-target species, even including mammals and humans (e.g. Dolezel et al., 2011; Latham et al., 2017; Zdziarski, et al., 2018).

The Cry toxin mode of action, we and others have noted, does not necessarily discriminate between species. Any organism with a membrane-lined gut is, in principle, vulnerable if it consumes the GMO Bt crop. In these Bt crops the leaves, straw, roots, nectar, and pollen, all typically contain Cry toxins. Therefore, most organisms in agricultural landscapes will at some point in their life-cycle be exposed to GMO plant material. As pollinator declines and a more generalised insect apocalypse have revealed, the question of the effects of such crops on biodiversity is far from trivial.

—————

GMO Cry toxins
Cry toxins are a family of highly active protein toxins originally isolated from the gut pathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Latham et al., 2017). They confer insect-resistance and up to six distinct ones are added to GMO corn, cotton, and other crops (Hilbeck and Otto, 2015).

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Jan 082019
 


Pablo Picasso Bather on the beach 1920

 

German Industrial Production Unexpectedly Slumps (WSJ)
China’s Current GDP Growth Likely Less Than 6% (CNBC)
Samsung Warns Of 29% Profit Drop (BBC)
UK Not Looking To Extend Article 50, Brexit Minister Says (R.)
UK MPs Raise Safety Fears With Police (G.)
Yanis Varoufakis Says France’s Macron Is a ‘Spent Force’ (BBG)
A Farewell to “Bargain Shopping” (Kunstler)
Rival Fiefdoms Emerge In Scramble Over Trump’s Syria Withdrawal (AlM)
Turkey To Ask US To Hand Over Military Bases In Syria (R.)
China Approves Five GMO Crops For Import (R.)
India’s Top Court Backs Monsanto On GMO Cotton Patents (R.)
Ecuador To Audit Julian Assange’s Asylum & Citizenship (PBR)
WikiLeaks Tells Reporters 140 Things Not To Say About Julian Assange (R.)
140 “False And Defamatory” Statements About Julian Assange (ZH)
Warming Of Oceans Equivalent To An Atomic Bomb Per Second For 150 Years (G.)

 

 

Just what Europe needs: a recession in Germany.

German Industrial Production Unexpectedly Slumps (WSJ)

German industrial production unexpectedly slumped in November, adding to recent evidence that a nine-year recovery in Europe’s largest economy is foundering. The data underscore how trade tensions and weaknesses in emerging markets are putting a brake on Germany’s longrunning economic upswing, and could delay any move by the ECB to lift short-term interest rates. Production in Germany’s key industrial sector, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, fell 1.9% in November from the previous month, the country’s statistics agency said Tuesday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 0.3% gain. It was the second consecutive monthly fall in German industrial output and comes after data Monday showed an ongoing decline in new manufacturing orders.

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Has been for years.

China’s Current GDP Growth Likely Less Than 6% (CNBC)

China’s current economic growth is likely below the 6 percent level amid faltering domestic demand, an economist said Tuesday. Recent signals about the world’s second-largest economy point to weaker growth, including tech giant Apple recently lowering revenue guidance for the first quarter as it blamed a variety of factors including Chinese demand. And, on Monday, Hong Kong-listed automaker Geely said it missed its sales target in 2018 and was forecasting flat sales in 2019. “It’s intriguing that the domestic demand part is the weak part — the external demand is not that bad,” said Taimur Baig, chief economist at DBS Group Research.

“Particularly weak” domestic demand was possibly signaling structural changes in the Chinese economy, Baig told CNBC’s “Capital Connection.” For its part, DBS forecasts China’s GDP growth to be “sub-6 percent” currently, Baig said. Last year, China reported economic growth of 6.5 percent in the third quarter — marking its weakest pace since the global financial crisis. Still, the country’s official growth target for 2018 was around 6.5 percent.

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Everyone has a phone who wants one.

Samsung Warns Of 29% Profit Drop (BBC)

Samsung Electronics expects to post a 29% drop in quarterly operating profit as demand for smartphones and memory chips slows. The firm forecasts operating earnings of 10.8 trillion Korean won ($9.7bn; £7.6bn) for the last three months of 2018. It marks the first quarterly profit drop in two years as strong demand for chips had boosted earnings at the firm. Samsung also faces fierce competition from Apple and Chinese rivals. In a statement on Tuesday, the firm cited lacklustre demand and rising competition for its darkening outlook. “We expect earnings to remain subdued in the first quarter of 2019 due to difficult conditions for the memory business,” the South Korean tech giant said in a statement. It forecasts revenue will decline 11% to 59 trillion won.

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But I betcha they’re talking about it.

UK Not Looking To Extend Article 50, Brexit Minister Says (R.)

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on March 29 and is not looking to extend the Article 50 exit process, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said on Tuesday. The Daily Telegraph reported that British and European officials are discussing the possibility of extending Britain’s formal notice to withdraw from the EU amid fears a Brexit deal will not be approved by March 29. “The government’s policy is clear on this, the prime minister has said it on many an occasion: We are leaving the European Union on the 29th of March. We are not looking to extend,” Barclay told Sky News. When asked if any lawmakers in the Conservative Party had changed their minds on opposing May’s deal, Barclay said: “Some have said they are much more open to but it is obviously challenging.”

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The lunatics have long ruled the asylum.

UK MPs Raise Safety Fears With Police (G.)

Dozens of MPs have written to the UK’s most senior police officer to raise concerns about safety outside parliament after the Conservative MP Anna Soubry faced chants from protesters on Monday calling her a “Nazi”. At least 55 parliamentarians signed the letter to the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, after the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, urged officers to do more to protect MPs and Soubry criticised the lack of police response to the abuse. Scotland Yard later confirmed it had opened an investigation into whether any offences had been committed when chants of “Soubry is a Nazi” could clearly be heard while the pro-remain MP was being interviewed by BBC News on Abingdon Green, a grassed area outside parliament used by broadcasters.

It is the second time in recent weeks that Soubry has been targeted by a small group of pro-Brexit protesters wearing yellow vests, some of whom have links to the far right. On the earlier occasion, she was surrounded by shouting men calling her a traitor. The MPs’ letter to Dick reads: “After months of peaceful and calm protests by groups representing a range of political views on Brexit, an ugly element of individuals with strong far-right and extreme-right connections, which your officers are well aware of, have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts targeting members of parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public.

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No doubt there.

Yanis Varoufakis Says France’s Macron Is a ‘Spent Force’ (BBG)

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek Finance Minister and founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, discusses political risks in Europe and his view that French President Emmanuel Macron is a “spent force.” He speaks on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

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Remember when stores employed half the town? You see much progress since then? First boxstores, then Amazon. Have they made people happier?

A Farewell to “Bargain Shopping” (Kunstler)

What’s up is the international implosion of the bad debt, and the fading illusion that it doesn’t matter. It has any number of ways to express itself, from store closings, to dissolving pensions, to stock market instability, to divorce, homelessness, and war. It’s what you get from a hyper-financialized economy that doesn’t really produce wealth but only steals it from somewhere else. It’s not the fault of “capitalism,” which, in theory just stands for the management of a society’s savings. America doesn’t save, it borrows. Zero interest rates made savings a mug’s game, and zero interest rates were necessary to extend the borrowing far beyond the credible boundaries of repayment.

Debt isn’t capital, it just pretends to be for a period of time. Wall Street made its trillions off the time-value of that pretense and now time is up. Even in the hardship economy we’re sailing into, people will need to buy and sell things and it is very hard to see how that fundamental process of exchange might be reorganized going forward. Back in the 1990s I attended many a town meeting (in many towns) where chain stores applied for permits to set-up operations. It was often contentious. There was always a contingent of locals — organized by the chains themselves — waving placards that said “We Want Bargain Shopping.” And there were the short-sighted town officials drooling over the real estate tax “ratables” that chain stores represented.

Their adversaries feared that their locally-owned Main Street businesses would be killed, and that was exactly what happened, in very short order. You could see it coming from a thousand miles away. Now the Big Boxes are going down. Boo Hoo…. What will emerge out of the current disorder? Perhaps Generations X-Y-and-Z will recognize an opportunity to go into business — as an alternative to purchasing a degree in gender studies for $200,000 (at 6 percent interest). There will be lots of opportunities, even in a world with generally less shopping. But it may require a deeper collapse to sweep away the impediments, both practical and mental, before that awareness turns to action.

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Trying to frustrate the withdrawal.

Rival Fiefdoms Emerge In Scramble Over Trump’s Syria Withdrawal (AlM)

Even after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis resigned over the decision, two of President Donald Trump’s top advisers have offered different messages about his intentions for a Syria withdrawal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asserted, in both internal briefings and public interviews, that Trump’s instructions are clear and the troops are coming out, while saying the administration’s overall goals for the region have not changed. Meanwhile, national security adviser John Bolton, currently traveling in Israel and Turkey with a press pool in tow, has said any US withdrawal from Syria will be conditions-based, and won’t occur until the so-called Islamic State in Syria (IS or ISIS) is fully defeated and unless Turkey guarantees protection for Syrian Kurdish fighters that Ankara considers terrorists.

“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton told journalists traveling with him in Israel on Sunday. “The timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see. And once that’s done, then you talk about a timetable.” Pompeo offered a different emphasis in an internal briefing to State Department Syria watchers last week, sources said: We are leaving. Pompeo, in a Jan. 3 briefing to State Department personnel who work on Syria, “made clear we are leaving. Period,” a former US official, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “He did not mention Iran. Or [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad. He said we are leaving. That was it. Then he left.”

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Trump better watch out that there isn’t an all-out bloody war between Turkey and the Kurds coming.

Turkey To Ask US To Hand Over Military Bases In Syria (R.)

Turkey will ask U.S. officials in talks on Tuesday to hand over its military bases in Syria to Ankara or destroy them, the Hurriyet newspaper reported, a request that could further complicate discussions over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ibrahim Kalin on Tuesday, days after Bolton added a condition to the U.S. withdrawal, saying Turkey must agree to protect the United States’ Kurdish ally, the YPG militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist group. President Donald Trump said last month he was bringing home the some U.S. 2,000 troops in Syria, saying they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State.

His abrupt move sparked concern among officials in Washington and allies abroad and prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign. The YPG has been the key U.S. ally in its fight against Islamic State, support that has long caused tension between Washington and Ankara. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south east. “Give them or destroy them,” a Hurriyet newspaper headline said, referring to what it said were 22 U.S. military bases in Syria. It cited unspecified sources as saying Turkey would not accept Washington handing them over to the YPG.

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Monsanto profits from the trade talks.

China Approves Five GMO Crops For Import (R.)

China approved five genetically modified (GM) crops for import on Tuesday, the first in about 18 months in a move that could boost its overseas grains purchases and ease pressure from the United States to open its markets to more farm goods. The United States is the world’s biggest producer of GM crops, while China is the top importer of GM soybeans and canola. U.S. farmers and global seed companies have long complained about Beijing’s slow and unpredictable process for approving GM crops for import, stoking trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies. The approvals, announced on the agriculture ministry’s website, were granted while a U.S. trade delegation is meeting with its counterparts in the Chinese capital this week.

“It’s a goodwill gesture towards the resolution of the trade issue,” said a China representative of a U.S. agricultural industry association. “It’s been in the system for a long time but they chose today to release this good news,” he added, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. Two of the newly approved products – BASF’s RF3 canola and Bayer-owned Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant MON 88302 canola – had been waiting six years for permission. The other approved products were DowDuPont’s DP4114 corn and DAS-44406-6 soybean, as well as the SYHT0H2 soybean developed by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta but now held by BASF.

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Devastating.

India’s Top Court Backs Monsanto On GMO Cotton Patents (R.)

India’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that U.S. seed maker Monsanto can claim patents on its genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in the world’s biggest producer of the fibre. The decision on appeal overturns an earlier ruling by the Delhi High Court that Monsanto – which has been bought by German drug and crop chemical maker Bayer AG – was unable to claim patents on GM cotton seeds. The outcome is positive for foreign agricultural companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta which have been concerned that they could lose patents on GM crops in India.

“This is a very good move as most international companies have stopped releasing new technology in the Indian market due to the uncertainty over patent rule,” said Ajit Narde, a leader of the Shetkari Sanghatana, a farmers’ body, which has been demanding access to new technologies. Access to advanced technology was important to help Indian farmers to compete with rivals overseas, Narde said.

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Trying to find a way out, so the IMF loan can come in.

Ecuador To Audit Julian Assange’s Asylum & Citizenship (PBR)

Ecuador has begun a “Special Examination” of Julian Assange’s asylum and citizenship as it looks to the IMF for a bailout, the whistleblowing site reports, with conditions including handing over the WikiLeaks founder. Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa tweeted an image of the letter he received from the State Comptroller General on December 19, which outlines the upcoming examination by the Direction National de Auditoria. The audit will “determine whether the procedures for granting asylum and naturalization to Julian Assange were carried out in accordance with national and international law,” and will cover the period between January 1, 2012 and September 20, 2018. Assange has been in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since he sought asylum there in 2012.

He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship last December in a bid to protect him from being extradited to the US where he fears he faces secret charges for publishing US government cables and documents. “Because of their hatred and persecution, we are the laughing stock of the world,” Correa said of the audit. WikiLeaks tweeted the news on Wednesday, joining the dots between the audit and Ecuador’s consideration of an International Monetary Fund bailout. The country owes China more than $6.5 billion in debt and falling oil prices have affected its repayment abilities. According to WikiLeaks, Ecuador is considering a $10 billion bailout which would allegedly come with conditions such as “the US government demanded handing over Assange and dropping environmental claims against Chevron,” for its role in polluting the Amazon rainforest.

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Not sure such an extensive format is the way to go. The Guardian gets away with stonewalling its fake Assange news.

WikiLeaks Tells Reporters 140 Things Not To Say About Julian Assange (R.)

WikiLeaks on Sunday advised journalists not to report 140 different “false and defamatory” statements about its founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June 2012. It was not immediately clear what prompted the advice to media organizations, but WikiLeaks singled out Britain’s Guardian newspaper for publishing what it said was a false report about Assange. The Guardian did not immediately respond late on Sunday to a Reuters request for comment. The Australian set up WikiLeaks as a channel for publishing confidential information from anonymous sources. He is a hero to some for exposing what supporters cast as government abuse of power and for championing free speech, but to others he is a rebel who has undermined the security of the United States.

WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family. “There is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in large and otherwise ‘reputable’ media outlets,” Wikileaks said an email sent to media organizations and marked “Confidential legal communication. Not for publication.” “Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list to ensure they are not spreading, and have not spread, defamatory falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.”

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Tyler has the entire list.

140 “False And Defamatory” Statements About Julian Assange (ZH)

WikiLeaks is sick and tired of mainstream media outlets publishing inaccurate and at times defamatory claims about its founder, Julian Assange. So in a recent email to journalists who regularly cover the organization, Wikileaks described 140 “false and defamatory” claims about its founder, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012. According to Reuters, WikiLeaks accused the Guardian of publishing a false report about Assange, though it was not immediately clear what specific report prompted the warning. The Guardian has refused to comment on the allegations.

The 5,000 word email claimed it was defamatory to suggest that Assange had ever been an “agent or officer of any intelligence service,” or that he had ever been employed by the Russian government, or that he is – or has been – closely connected with the Russian state. Some of the claims were more bizarre, like claiming that Assange was a pedophile, rapist, murder or a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Others pertained to personal hygiene, like that Assange bleaches his hair, or has poor grooming habits. They also said it was defamatory to claim that Assange is a hacker or that he is not an Australian citizen.

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How many people can understand this?

Warming Of Oceans Equivalent To An Atomic Bomb Per Second For 150 Years (G.)

Global warming has heated the oceans by the equivalent of one atomic bomb explosion per second for the past 150 years, according to analysis of new research. More than 90% of the heat trapped by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the seas, with just a few per cent heating the air, land and ice caps respectively. The vast amount of energy being added to the oceans drives sea-level rise and enables hurricanes and typhoons to become more intense. Much of the heat has been stored in the ocean depths but measurements here only began in recent decades and existing estimates of the total heat the oceans have absorbed stretch back only to about 1950. The new work extends that back to 1871. Scientists have said that understanding past changes in ocean heat was critical for predicting the future impact of climate change.

A Guardian calculation found the average heating across that 150-year period was equivalent to about 1.5 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs per second. But the heating has accelerated over that time as carbon emissions have risen, and was now the equivalent of between three and six atomic bombs per second. “I try not to make this type of calculation, simply because I find it worrisome,” said Prof Laure Zanna, at the University of Oxford, who led the new research. “We usually try to compare the heating to [human] energy use, to make it less scary.” She added: “But obviously, we are putting a lot of excess energy into the climate system and a lot of that ends up in the ocean,. There is no doubt.” The total heat taken up by the oceans over the past 150 years was about 1,000 times the annual energy use of the entire global population.

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Aug 042018
 


John French Sloan Spring rain 1912

 

The Everything Bubble Has Found Its Pin. The Pin’s Name is Jerome Powell. (PC)
The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind (WS)
US Gains Only 157,000 Jobs In July As Unemployment Falls To 3.9% (MW)
US Government Has No Idea How Many Gig Workers There Are (MW)
Mark Carney Says Risk Of A No-Deal Brexit Is ‘Uncomfortably High’ (G.)
The Conservatives Are In Crisis Over Austerity, Not Just Brexit (NS)
US Secret Service And The Guardian Face Off Over ‘Russian Spy’ (RT)
Russia Seeks US Help To Rebuild Syria (R.)
Judge Calls US Efforts To Reunite Deported Parents ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)
US Court Orders Trump Administration To Fully Reinstate DACA Program (R.)
Trump Administration Lifts GMO Crop Ban For US Wildlife Refuges (R.)

 

 

Error? Powell obviously wants a strong dollar. And yes, that has consequences.

The Everything Bubble Has Found Its Pin. The Pin’s Name is Jerome Powell. (PC)

The Powell Fed is playing with matches next to over $60 trillion in $USD-denominated debt. The $USD is the reserve currency of the world. As such it is the currency of choice if you are going to issue debt. As a result of this, entities around the globe, whether they be corporations or countries, will often choose to issue debt denominated in the $USD, even if the $USD is not a currency used in their economy. When you borrow money in the $USD… you are effectively SHORTING the $USD. You are betting/hopingthat the $USD will weaken, making your debt servicing/ future debt repayment, cheaper on a relative basis. In this environment, when the $USD strengthens, it becomes MORE DIFFICULT to service your debt.

This is true even for the US itself. The $20 trillion we owe in public debt is effectively one gigantic $20 trillion $USD short. Enter Jerome Powell. For whatever reason, the Powell Fed has decided to embark on the most aggressively hawkish monetary policy in Fed history. And the currency markets have taken note. The $USD is breaking out of downtrends in Every. Single. Currency. Pair. The day Jerome Powell became Fed chair is annotated buy the vertical blue line. Assuming Jerome Powell DOESN’T want to blow up the $60 trillion $USD-denominated debt bubble… the above chart SCREAMS “policy error.”

I’m not being dramatic here… the last time the $USD rallied like this against every major currency was in 2014. At that time the entire commodity complex imploded by over 60% and the Emerging Market came within a hair’s breadth of systemic collapse. Again, I’m not being dramatic here… within six months of the $USD’s rally in 2014, Brazil’s stock market was down nearly 70%. China’s was down nearly 50%. Emerging Markets across the board dropped over 30%. Oil fell from $105 to $30 and change. Etc. I don’t see any indication Powell is aware of this… which means… BUCKLE UP. THE EVERYTHING BUBBLE HAS FOUND ITS PIN. AND THE PIN’S NAME IS JEROME POWELL.

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And Powell is very clear on “balance sheet normalization” too.

The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind (WS)

The Fed’s QE Unwind – “balance sheet normalization,” as it calls this – is accelerating toward cruising speed. The first 12 months of the QE unwind, which started in October 2017, are the ramp-up period – just like there was the “Taper” during the final 12 months of QE. The plan calls for shedding up to $420 billion in securities in 2018 and up to $600 billion a year in each of the following years until the balance sheet is sufficiently “normalized” – or until something big breaks. In July, the QE Unwind accelerated sharply. According to the plan, the Fed was supposed to shed up to $24 billion in Treasury Securities in July, up from $18 billion a month in the prior three months. And? The Fed released its weekly balance sheet Thursday afternoon. Over the four weeks ending August 1, the balance of Treasury securities fell by $23.5 billion to $2,337 billion, the lowest since April 16, 2014.

Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, the Fed has shed $129 billion in Treasuries. The step-pattern in the chart is a result of how the Fed sheds Treasury securities. It doesn’t sell them outright but allows them to “roll off” when they mature. Treasuries only mature mid-month or at the end of the month. Hence the stair-steps. In mid-July, no Treasuries matured. But on July 31, $28.4 billion matured. The Fed replaced about $4 billion of them with new Treasury securities directly via its arrangement with the Treasury Department that cuts out Walls Street (its “primary dealers”) with which the Fed normally does business. Those $4 billion in securities, to use the jargon, were “rolled over.” But it did not replace about $24 billion of maturing Treasuries. They “rolled off.”

Total assets on the Fed’s balance sheet for the four weeks ending August 1 dropped by $34.1 billion. This brought the drop since October, when the QE unwind began, to $205 billion. At $4,256 billion, total assets are now at the lowest level since April 9, 2014, during the middle of the “taper.” It took the Fed about six years to pile on these securities, and now it’s going to take years to shed them:

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Trend is towards lower paid jobs.

US Gains Only 157,000 Jobs In July As Unemployment Falls To 3.9% (MW)

The U.S. posted another solid spurt in hiring in July, showing that companies are still able to find enough workers to meet the growing needs of a rapidly expanding U.S. economy. Some 157,000 new jobs were created last month despite widespread complaints among businesses about a shortage of skilled labor, the Labor Department said Friday. The increase in hiring fell below the 195,000 MarketWatch forecast, but job gains in May and June was stronger than previously reported. The smaller gain in employment was also a result of governments cutting jobs in education during the summer break and the closure of Toys R Us. Otherwise hiring may have topped 200,000.

Unemployment, meanwhile, slipped below 4% again, to 3.9%, as more people found work.The jobless rate is at a nearly two-decade low. Far-flung complaints about how hard it is to find good workers still aren’t inducing companies to jack up salaries and wages, however. Hourly pay rose 7 cents in July to $25.07, but the 12-month rate of wage gains was unchanged at 2.7%. And even those increases have been largely eaten up by rising inflation. Wages usually rise 3% to 4% a year when the labor market is as tight as it is now.

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Much more interesting than the jobs report. 75 million gig workers? And they’re all counted as ’employed’?

US Government Has No Idea How Many Gig Workers There Are (MW)

The BLS does not have an explicit definition for a gig worker, or a formal way of tracking them. It comes closest in a survey called the Contingent Worker Supplement, which studies “contingent workers” in temporary working arrangements that they don’t expect to last more than a year. But prior to last month, the BLS had not released the Contingent Worker Supplement since 2005 due in large part to a lack of funding. The most recent report found that 5.9 million people or 3.8% of all workers are contingent workers. “It’s not that the BLS doesn’t care about secondary work, they do,” said Demetra Nightingale at the Urban Institute, a think tank. But without adequate funding it is difficult for the BLS to study those workers, she said.

These workers come in many forms. They include side hustlers with regular jobs and freelancers who take on extra clients on their off-hours, according to Freelancing in America, a 2017 survey conducted in part by Freelancers Union. That survey estimated that 57.3 million Americans are freelancing, or 36% of the workforce. Other estimates say the gig economy is even larger than that. The Federal Reserve has a very broad definition of people working in the gig economy. The Fed says gig workers could be anyone from a babysitter to an Uber driver. According to that definition, there are as many as 75 million gig workers.

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My first thought when reading this: he’s trying to get himself fired. Brexit Britain doesn’t need some Canadian opinion.

Mark Carney Says Risk Of A No-Deal Brexit Is ‘Uncomfortably High’ (G.)

Mark Carney has warned that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is “uncomfortably high” and will lead to higher prices, as Theresa May prepares to meet the French president, Emmanuel Macron, for talks. The Bank of England governor said both the UK and EU should “do all things to avoid” a no-deal scenario. He added that the banks had done the “stockpiling” and the country’s financial system was in a position to be able to withstand a shock that could result from the UK leaving the EU without an agreement. His remarks led to sterling falling sharply to just under $1.30. Carney told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the possibility of a no-deal is uncomfortably high at this point.” Asked if no deal would be a disaster, he said: “It is highly undesirable. Parties should do all things to avoid it.”

Pushed on what no deal would mean, he said “disruption to trade as we know it”, before adding: “As a consequence of that, a disruption to the level of economic activity, higher prices for a period of time. “Our job at the Bank of England is to make sure those issues don’t happen in the financial system, so that people will have things to worry about in a no-deal Brexit, which is still a relatively unlikely possibility but it is a possibility, but what we don’t want to have is people worrying about their money in the bank, whether or not they can get a loan from the bank – whether for a mortgage or for a business idea – and we have put the banks through the wringer well in advance of this to make sure they have the capital.”

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An already completely gutted society. More to come. Local councils are being cut to the bone.

The Conservatives Are In Crisis Over Austerity, Not Just Brexit (NS)

The Conservative party is engaged in the bloodiest incarnation yet of its 30-year Europe war. After Theresa May’s Chequers deal succeeded in alienating almost everyone, Remainers are backing a “people’s vote”, while Leavers are embracing no deal. There is no obvious means by which the parliamentary deadlock can be broken. But the Brexit crisis is masking another one: over austerity. The Leave vote in 2016 and the loss of the Tories’ majority in 2017 were symptoms of voter discontent over spending cuts (a new study published this week suggested that austerity may have directly caused Brexit). As the New Statesman’s Crumbling Britain series has charted, eight years of austerity have enfeebled the public realm.

Rough sleeping, which fell by three-quarters under the last Labour government, has risen by 169 per cent since 2010. The NHS has been forced to cancel operations and even urgent surgery as it struggles to meet ever greater demand. Relative child poverty has increased for three consecutive years and now stands at 4.1 million, or 30 per cent of children. Nearly 1,000 Sure Start children’s centres and 478 libraries are estimated to have closed since 2010. Potholed roads and uncollected bins are evidence of the scale of austerity borne by councils (real-terms funding for local authorities has been cut by 49 per cent since David Cameron took office as prime minister). Northamptonshire Council, a Conservative flagship, has declared itself effectively bankrupt – and others may follow.

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The Guardian is up to some strange things.

US Secret Service And The Guardian Face Off Over ‘Russian Spy’ (RT)

US Secret Service has scolded the Guardian for “irresponsible and inaccurate” reporting on an alleged Russian spy at the US embassy in Moscow. Unfazed, the newspaper continued to spin the story calling it the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The British newspaper, never one to pass up a good Russia scare story, published a fresh one on Friday, citing multiple intelligence analysts to reinforce the idea that its own anonymously-sourced revelations of a suspected spy with high-level security clearance having been embedded for a decade in the US embassy in Moscow,”could be just the tip of the iceberg.” The Secret Service, meanwhile, has been issuing repeated rebuttals to the Guardian’s reporting.

The security officials were quite emphatic in bashing the article as “wrought with irresponsible and inaccurate reporting based on the claims of “anonymous sources’.” In its press release on Thursday, the Secret Service specifically points out that before the publication came out, it had provided the Guardian with background to the story “clearly refuting unfounded information” in its statement to the editor. The Guardian did mention the agency’s response, bundling it in the middle of its article, while citing its unnamed “intelligence source” profusely, claiming that the Russian woman, the suspected mole, “had access to the most damaging database, which is the US Secret Service official mail system.”

This allegedly included “schedules of the president – current and past, vice-president and their spouses, including Hillary Clinton.” According to the Secret Service, the allegations that a mysterious foreign ‘femme fatale’ could have access to such sensitive information, are unfounded. “FSNs [Foreign Service Nationals] working under the direction of the U.S. Secret Service have never been provided or placed in a position to obtain, secret or classified information as erroneously reported.”

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You break it, you bought it.

Russia Seeks US Help To Rebuild Syria (R.)

Russia has used a closely guarded communications channel with America’s top general to propose the two former Cold War foes cooperate to rebuild Syria and repatriate refugees to the war-torn country, according to a U.S. government memo. The proposal was sent in a July 19 letter by Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, to U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the memo which was seen by Reuters. The Russian plan, which has not been previously reported, has received an icy reception in Washington. The memo said the U.S. policy was only to support such efforts if there were a political solution to end Syria’s seven-year-old civil war, including steps like U.N.-supervised elections.

The proposal illustrates how Russia, having helped turn the tide of the war in favor of President Bashar al-Assad, is now pressing Washington and others to aid the reconstruction of areas under his control. Such an effort would likely further cement Assad’s hold on power. “The proposal argues that the Syrian regime lacks the equipment, fuel, other material, and funding needed to rebuild the country in order to accept refugee returns,” according to the memo, which specified that the proposal related to Syrian government-held areas of the country. The United States in 2011 adopted a policy that Assad must leave power but then watched as his forces, backed by Iran and then Russia, clawed back territory and secure Assad’s position. The United States has drawn a line on reconstruction assistance, saying it should be tied to a process that includes U.N.-supervised elections and a political transition in Syria. It blames Assad for Syria’s devastation.

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But what can Sabraw do?

Judge Calls US Efforts To Reunite Deported Parents ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)

A federal judge on Friday described as “unacceptable” the U.S. government’s progress in reuniting immigrant children in the United States with deported parents and ordered the government to appoint a person to take charge of its efforts. “This is going to be a significant undertaking and it’s clear there has to be one person in charge,” said U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw at a hearing in San Diego. Sabraw in June ordered the government to begin reuniting some 2,500 children that officials separated from their parents after they crossed the U.S.-Mexican border. The families were separated as part of a “zero tolerance” U.S. government policy toward illegal immigration that began in early May.

Many of them had crossed the border illegally, while others had sought asylum. About 1,900 children have since been reconnected with their parents or a sponsor. On Thursday, the government proposed that non-profit groups should take the lead in locating as many as 500 parents deported or removed from the United States without their children. At Friday’s hearing, Sabraw said it was it was “100 percent the responsibility of the administration” to reunite those families. Sabraw also noted that as few as 12 of the 500 parents in question have been located. “That is just unacceptable at this point,” he said. “The reality is that for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child.”

The government’s lawyer, Scott Stewart, said that the agencies involved would consider appointing a point person or persons. Stewart said the government had proposed a plan with non-profit groups in a prominent role because it believed that was the quickest way to locate parents.

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Different judge. Legal opinions are sorely need in the US.

US Court Orders Trump Administration To Fully Reinstate DACA Program (R.)

A federal judge on Friday ruled that the Trump administration must fully restore a program that protects from deportation some young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children, including accepting new applications for the program. U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., said he would stay Friday’s order, however, until August 23 to give the administration time to decide whether to appeal. Bates first issued a ruling in April ordering the federal government to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, including taking applications. He stayed that ruling for 90 days to give the government time to better explain why the program should be ended.

On Friday Bates, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, a Republican, said he would not revise his previous ruling because the arguments of President Donald Trump’s administration did not override his concerns. Under DACA, roughly 700,000 young adults, often referred to as “Dreamers”, were protected from deportation and given work permits for two-year periods, after which they must re-apply to the program.

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Better put this before a judge as well. But no surprise that Monsanto is powerful stateside.

Trump Administration Lifts GMO Crop Ban For US Wildlife Refuges (R.)

The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the 2-year-old ban, said on Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges. “Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species,” said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife.

Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there. The rollback, spelled out in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops – such as soybeans and corn – engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides. That policy also had barred the use on wildlife refuges of neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, in conjunction with GMO crops. Neonics are a class of insecticides tied by research to declining populations of wild bees and other pollinating insects around the world.

Rather than continuing to impose a blanket ban on GMO crops and neonics on refuges, Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Greg Sheehan said in Thursday’s memo that decisions about their use would be made on a case-by-case basis.

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