Feb 072021
 


Russell Lee Sign Along the Road Near Capulin New Mexico 1939

 

Zero Covid Is A Mirage – The Virus Is Here To Stay (Jonathan Sumption)
Oxford Covid Jab Less Effective Against South African Variant (R.)
Supreme Court Lifts California Worship Bans Prompted By Coronavirus (Pol.)
Long-Term Unemployment Is Close To A Great Recession Record (CNBC)
UK Exports To EU Slashed By 68% Since Brexit (G.)
Google Reverses Course, Opens Paid Platform For (Some) Australian News (ZH)
There Was A Color Revolution In The US After All (RT)
How Ecuador’s US-backed ‘Ecosocialist’ Candidate Aids The Right-Wing (GZ)
Pentagon Goes Rooting For ‘Extremists’ Among Its 3.6mn Trained Killers (RT)
Hunter Biden Memoir #1 In ‘Chinese Biography Bestsellers’ On Amazon (RT)

 

 

 

 

Let’s be a bit contrarian this Sunday, shall we?

Zero Covid Is A Mirage – The Virus Is Here To Stay (Jonathan Sumption)

Coronavirus has divided society. A chasm of mutual misunderstanding and resentment has opened up. On one side are people who want to be allowed to make their own judgments about risk, in the light of their own vulnerabilities and those of the people around them. On the other side are people who think their safety depends on coercing their fellow citizens into accepting the judgment of Government Ministers. Despite the optimism created by the vaccines, powerful voices are still exploiting public fears to keep us locked up for longer and impose distancing rules indefinitely in pursuit of the mirage of zero Covid. There is concern that medical scientists are moving the goalposts, changing their objectives in a way that would keep us locked up for longer, perhaps indefinitely.

Those of us who point to the staggering collateral cost of such policies are drowned out by outbursts of emotion and abuse from people who behave as if nothing matters except reducing the Covid death toll. As a society, we have been urged to suppress the most basic instinct of the human spirit – our interaction with each other. In the process, we turned a public health crisis into something much worse: a public health crisis AND an economic, social and educational crisis. Our economy is being laid waste, with small businesses snuffed out and job prospects destroyed for a generation of young people. Yet no society ever reduced deaths by making itself poorer. We have shut down our cities and crippled a once-flourishing musical, artistic and sporting culture.

We have created an acute crisis of mental health among the young. We are depriving children of their education, perhaps the most important benefit that the state can give them, at untold cost for their future. We are locking the elderly into islands of loneliness and wretchedness, depriving them of the stimulus of human contact. Dementia – a bigger killer than Covid-19 – is hitting unprecedented levels. None of this is the result of the disease. It is all due to the lockdown. To escape this situation, we need to understand how we got into it. Covid-19 is serious, but it is no worse than the scenario for which governments have planned for years. A pandemic caused by a new respiratory disease has topped the National Risk Register since 2008. In 2017, it assumed that a new pathogen might cause 750,000 deaths.

The principles of any response were set out in a 2011 Department of Health strategy. They were designed to ensure the minimum of disruption. The aim was to shield the sick and the vulnerable, not isolate the healthy and economically active. It was to ‘encourage those who are well to carry on with their normal lives for as long and as far as that is possible’. The Government would not close borders or stop mass gatherings. Lockdown was not even an option. Minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that the same policies were the basis of its advice to Ministers right up to the moment last March when the first lockdown was decided.

Read more …

One of many problems with reliance on hasty vaccines.

Oxford Covid Jab Less Effective Against South African Variant (R.)

British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Saturday that its vaccine developed with the University of Oxford appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant of Covid-19, based on early data from a trial. The study from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University showed the vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African variant, according to a Financial Times report published earlier in the day. Among coronavirus variants now most concerning for scientists and public health experts are the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants, which appear to spread more swiftly than others.


“In this small phase I/II trial, early data has shown limited efficacy against mild disease primarily due to the B.1.351 South African variant,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in response to the FT report. The newspaper said none of the more than 2,000 trial participants had been hospitalised or died. “However, we have not been able to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalisation given that subjects were predominantly young healthy adults,” the AstraZeneca spokesperson said. The company said it believed its vaccine could protect against severe disease, given that the neutralising antibody activity was equivalent to that of other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated protection against severe disease.

Read more …

A splintered court.

Supreme Court Lifts California Worship Bans Prompted By Coronavirus (Pol.)

A splintered U.S. Supreme Court blocked California from enforcing coronavirus-related bans on indoor worship services, but declined to upset other state rules banning singing and chanting and limiting the number of worshipers. The ruling issued just before 11 p.m. ET Friday produced four separate statements by the justices, as well as a convoluted description of what relief various justices would have granted to churches objecting to the limits. However, a majority of the court was only willing to lift the ban California has applied on all indoor worship in Tier 1 counties — those most challenged by Covid-19. The other restrictions remain undisturbed, for now.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Friday night ruling: new Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose conservative Catholic views drew suspicion from many liberals in advance of her confirmation last year, declined to grant the churches the most sweeping relief favored by her most conservative colleagues. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have granted all the churches’ requests, lifting the singing and chanting bans and barred California from enforcing a 25 percent capacity limit that applies to many indoor facilities. Justice Samuel Alito would have had such a ban kick in 30 days from now if the state didn’t make certain showings in court.

“Even if a full congregation singing hymns is too risky, California does not explain why even a single masked cantor cannot lead worship behind a mask and a plexiglass shield. Or why even a lone muezzin may not sing the call to prayer from a remote location inside a mosque as worshippers file in,” Gorsuch wrote. Barrett opted for a middle-ground position with Justice Brett Kavanaugh that did not go as far as Gorsuch, Thomas or Alito. “The applicants bore the burden of establishing their entitlement to relief from the singing ban. In my view, they did not carry that burden—at least not on this record,” she wrote in a brief opinion.

Read more …

“It would take approximately 29 years to get back to get back to pre-recession levels at the current pace of job growth..”

Long-Term Unemployment Is Close To A Great Recession Record (CNBC)

Long-term unemployment is edging toward a historical peak, almost a year into the pandemic-fueled downturn. Workers are deemed to be “long-term unemployed” when their jobless spell is longer than six months. It’s an especially dangerous period of unemployment, according to labor economists. For one, household income may drop significantly. But the dynamic also makes finding a new job more difficult, scars workers’ long-term earnings potential and raises the odds of losing a job (if they find one) down the road, economists said. Almost 40% of jobless workers in January were long-term unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The share has grown steadily since the spring and is approaching the record set in April 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. At that time, nearly 46% of the unemployed were out of work at least six months. “I think that is one of the many concerning things we see in this report,” Nick Bunker, economic research director at job site Indeed, said of January’s uptick in long-term unemployment. “I think it’s even more concerning when you see job gains continue to slow down.” The U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy shed 227,000 jobs in December, the first drop since the rebound began in the spring. Meanwhile, there are about 10 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.


It would take approximately 29 years to get back to get back to pre-recession levels at the current pace of job growth, according to Heidi Shierholz, director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. (Her analysis uses the average growth over the past three months.) “There’s a massive hole to fill,” said Shierholz, a former chief economist at the Department of Labor.

Read more …

That’s a lot.

UK Exports To EU Slashed By 68% Since Brexit (G.)

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit, the Observer can reveal. The dramatic drop in the volume of traffic carried on ferries and through the Channel tunnel has been reported to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove by the Road Haulage Association after a survey of its international members. In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.

In particular he had made clear throughout last year there was an urgent need to increase the number of customs agents to help firms with mountains of extra paperwork. The number now, around 10,000, is still about a fifth of what the RHA says is required to handle the massive increase in paperwork facing exporters. Burnett told the Observer that in addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty because there were no goods for them to return with, due to hold-ups on the UK side, and because some UK companies had either temporarily or permanently halted exports to the EU. “I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” he said.

Contact with Gove had been limited and had achieved little over recent months. “Michael Gove is the master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back,” he said. “He responds on WhatsApp and says he got the letter but no written response comes. Pretty much every time we have written over the last six months he has not responded in writing. He tends to get officials to start working on things. But the responses are a complete waste of time because they don’t listen to what the issues were that we raised in the first place.” According to the House of Commons library, UK exports to the EU were £294bn in 2019 (43% of all UK exports) while UK imports from the EU were £374bn (52% of the total). The overwhelming majority of exports to the EU from the UK go through ports rather than by air.

Read more …

And now go global.

Google Reverses Course, Opens Paid Platform For (Some) Australian News (ZH)

The Australian government has possibly obtained a rare, partial victory in its standoff with Google. The US-based tech giant has appeared to reverse course as Australia holds hearings aimed at enacting legislation that would effectively force Google to pay local sources for news it links to and features in its search engine. Google last month threatened to pull its search engine off the continent altogether, with Canberra counter-threatening that they won’t budge. But on Thursday Google made the following official announcement: “To meet growing reader and publisher needs, last year we increased our investment in news partnerships and launched Google News Showcase.”

The ‘Showcase’ app is the result of the company negotiating to pay some Australian news producers who sign up for the program. It’s an attempt to undercut legislation being proposed to require the company to pay for all such content. It’s not likely to stop the new legislation, however, but Google is offering it as an ‘alternative’. The move shows that the tech giant is arguably feeling the pressure and is looking to compromise. The Google announcement continued, “Today we are happy to announce we are rolling out an initial version of the product to benefit users and publishers in Australia, with a keen focus on leading regional and independent publishers given the importance of local information and the role it plays in people’s everyday lives.”

“News Showcase is designed to bring value to both publishers and readers by providing a licensing program that pays publishers to curate content for story panels across Google services, and gives readers more insights into the stories that matter,” it said. While the details have yet to be revealed, for example just which publishers will eventually be enabled to join the platform, it’s being reported as a significant compromise which is likely to first reward major national Australian outlets, as Reuters details: With the legislation now before a parliamentary inquiry, Friday’s launch of News Showcase in Australia will see it pay seven domestic outlets, including the Canberra Times, to use their content.

Read more …

About the Time article.

There Was A Color Revolution In The US After All (Malic)

The 2020 US presidential elections wasn’t “rigged,” oh no, but “fortified” by a conspiracy of activists united in saving “Our Democracy” from the Bad Orange Man, now proud to share their story in a friendly tell-all piece in TIME.“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes,” writes Molly Ball – a biographer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by the way – in TIME magazine this week, describing it as a “vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election – an extraordinary shadow effort.” Ball’s article reveals a lot, from why there were no street riots by Democrats either on November 4 or on January 6 – the organizers of this “conspiracy” stopped them – to who was behind the push to alter election rules in key states and set up mail-in voting, who organized “information” campaigns about the results of the election, and who even threatened election officials into making the “right” decision to certify the vote.

While everyone – myself included – was focused on the summer riots as a possible “color revolution,” they turned out to be misdirection. According to TIME, the real action was taking place behind the scenes, as Democrat activists and unions joined forces with NeverTrump Republicans, Chamber of Commerce, corporations, and Big Tech to make sure the 2020 election turns out the way they wanted. They call this a victory of democracy and the will of the people, of course, for no one is ever a villain in their own story. “Their work touched every aspect of the election,” Ball writes, from getting states to “change voting system laws” and fending off “voter-suppression lawsuits,” to recruiting “armies” of poll workers and pressuring social media companies to “take a harder line against disinformation.”

Then, after Election Day, “they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result.” Alarmed yet? Maybe you should be. So who are these shadowy saviors of Our Democracy? One of them is union organizer Mike Podhorzer of AFL-CIO, a traditional Democrat powerhouse. Another is Ian Bassin, associate White House counsel in Barack Obama’s first administration. The roster of his “nonpartisan, rule-of-law” outfit called Protect Democracy includes a lot of Obama lawyers, a John McCain campaign aide, an editor from the defunct neocon Weekly Standard, and someone from SPLC, while among their advisers is the NeverTrump failed presidential candidate and ex-CIA spy Evan McMullin.

Bear that in mind when you read Bassin’s quote that “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” but “it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.” Chilling words.

Read more …

Trojan horse.

How Ecuador’s US-backed ‘Ecosocialist’ Candidate Aids The Right-Wing (GZ)

Ecuador’s historic February 7 election could bring a popular revolutionary movement back from the dead and help fuel a new wave of socialist governments in Latin America. The contrast between the two main presidential candidates could hardly be more stark: On one side is a conservative banker backed by Ecuadorian elites and the United States, Guillermo Lasso; and on the other is a youthful left-wing economist, Andrés Arauz, who follows in the footsteps of socialist former President Rafael Correa and wants to return to his Citizens’ Revolution. But a third candidate who has stayed in the race until the end, despite all polls showing him significantly behind, has helped to divide Ecuador’s left-wing vote by running what has been marketed as a progressive environmentalist campaign.

Yaku Pérez Guartambel, an Indigenous leader from Ecuador’s party Pachakutik, purports to be the true left-wing option in the election. But his political record suggests he is a Trojan Horse for the left’s most bitter enemies. Pérez supported right-wing US-backed coups targeting Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, demonizing the countries’ socialist governments as “racist.” His political views fuse ultra-leftist, anarchistic critiques of existing left-wing states with an objectively right-wing political agenda. And his opposition to state power is deeply opportunistic. While Pérez harshly criticizes China, he has simultaneously pronounced he “would not think twice” about signing a trade deal with the United States. Pérez’s ostensibly progressive ideology is filled with contradictions. While the Correista candidate Arauz has proposed giving $1000 checks to one million working-class Ecuadorian families, Pérez has attacked the plan on the grounds that poor citizens would spend all the money on beer in one day.

The party of Pérez, Pachakutik, identifies as “ecosocialist” and claims to represent Ecuador’s Indigenous communities. But like the candidate that leads it, it employs left-wing rhetoric to paper over regressive goals. Pachakutik is closely linked to NGOs funded by Washington and EU member states. The party’s leaders have been trained by the US government-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), a CIA cutout that operates under the auspices of the National Endowment for Democracy. In the past, Pérez and Pachakutik helped lead protests against Ecuador’s former President Correa, forming an unspoken alliance with the country’s right-wing oligarchs in a bid to destabilize and overthrow the socialist president. In fact, Pachakutik played a significant role in a US-backed 2010 coup attempt that came close to undemocratically removing Correa from power.

Pachakutik’s ties to Washington are extensive. One of its most prominent former members is Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian journalist who spearheaded a disinformation campaign targeting journalist Julian Assange, peddling discredited but deeply damaging claims about the Wikileaks publisher through the neoliberal British newspaper The Guardian. Villavicencio’s anti-Correa activism also appears to have been funded by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy.

Read more …

“Indeed, what’s denounced as extremism “back home” is very likely to be praised as bravery “over there.”

Pentagon Goes Rooting For ‘Extremists’ Among Its 3.6mn Trained Killers (RT)

The US military is making a big show of cleansing its ranks of ‘extremism’ – because nothing says tolerance like raining fiery death on innocent strangers at the command of a guy who just stepped down from Raytheon’s board. With “domestic extremists” now officially the enemy du jour in Washington, the top order of business has become finding some. On Wednesday, newly-anointed secretary of defense (and former Raytheon board member) Lloyd Austin ordered a two-month stand-down so that commanders could engage in “needed discussions” with their subordinates on the issue. Did we mention they have a lot of subordinates? There are 3.6 million service members in the most expensive military in the world, and evaluating every single one of them for a characteristic that lacks even a universally-agreed-upon definition is certain to be both time-consuming and frustrating.

It’s also quite likely to backfire. Being spuriously accused of “domestic extremism” is the sort of thing that might turn an ‘ordinary’ soldier into an anti-government ‘extremist.’ After all, what sort of gratitude is rewarding a person who just signed up to die for their country with the ideological equivalent of a prostate exam? The FBI, DHS and other security agencies have, at various times, declared almost every American to be some sort of anti-government extremist or other, from “conspiracy theorists” to, well, veterans, depending on that season’s trend in fear. But even the most ambitious diversity consultant can’t just lock up millions of Americans for thoughtcrime – yet.

It takes extreme conditioning indeed to abandon one’s humanity and learn to kill on command – “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t just a religious commandment. Former military personnel describing the process through which they were transformed from “normal” people into killing machines talk about a radicalization process quite unlike anything ever posted to 4chan or wherever 21st-century “radicals” are supposed to be born from. Yet anti-extremism nonprofits wring their hands when confronted with the seemingly disproportionate number of Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and other militia and quasi-militia groups that have served in the military. Do they expect veterans to simply forget their entire training upon returning to civilian life?

Indeed, what’s denounced as extremism “back home” is very likely to be praised as bravery “over there.” Such doublethink makes it difficult for many returning veterans to readjust to civilian life – and the government – and it doesn’t help that Washington basically washes its hands of them once they remove their uniforms. What good is all that college money they dangle in front of young recruits’ faces if all that “life experience” leaves you a dysfunctional PTSD-stricken shell of a person, incapable of forming meaningful relationships or even sleeping through the night? Not every service member sees conflict, of course, but those who do are irrevocably changed by it.

Read more …

“a personal book about his own personal journey..”

Hunter Biden Memoir #1 In ‘Chinese Biography Bestsellers’ On Amazon (RT)

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter briefly hit bestseller status in Amazon’s ‘Chinese biography’ section for a new memoir, for which he was reportedly paid $2 million by the same publisher who scrapped GOP Sen. Josh Hawley’s book. The ‘Chinese biography’ listing was first reported on Friday by the New York Post, the same newspaper censored on social media in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election over a story about Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. After a few hours at the top of the section, however, Amazon scrubbed the ranking, relocating Biden’s memoir to the number-one spot in its ‘Lawyer & Judge biographies’ category. Biden was reportedly paid a $2 million advance for the book, titled ‘Beautiful Things’ and said to contain an account of his struggle with drug abuse, among other things.


News of the contract – reportedly signed secretly in late 2019 – was only announced on Thursday. The memoir is scheduled to be published in early April by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster – the very same publisher who canceled Hawley’s ‘Tyranny of Big Tech’ after the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol. Asked about the memoir on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called it “a personal book about his own personal journey.” Psaki also quoted a statement “in their personal capacity as parents” from Joe and Jill Biden, who said they “admire our son Hunter’s strength and courage to talk openly about his addiction so that others might see themselves in his journey and find hope.”

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.”
– George Carlin

 

 

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

 

Jan 302021
 
 January 30, 2021  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  43 Responses »


Wassily Kandinsky Clear connection 1925

 

GameStop Short Sellers Not Quitting Despite $20 Billion In Losses (CNBC)
GameStop Craziness Pulls Back the Curtain on the Stock Market (Dayen)
Google Deletes 100,000+ One-Star Ratings Of Robinhood App (RT)
The Man Who Isn’t There (Kunstler)
AGs: ‘Principal Political Control’ Of Government Lies With Congress (JTN)
How Biden’s Executive Orders Impact The Oil Industry (Rapier)
Macron: Oxford Vaccine Appears ‘Quasi-Ineffective’ On Elderly Patients (JTN)
Newsom Signs Bill To Extend COVID-19 Eviction Protections Through June (LAT)
Facebook’s Oversight Board Is Taking Public Comments On Trump’s Ban (F.)
Jon Stewart Joins Twitter To Defend Reddit GameStop Traders (NYP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

$20 billion or $70 billion?

Anyway, they can’t quit, because not nearly enough shares are available to cover their shorts. For now, they’re stuck.

GameStop Short Sellers Not Quitting Despite $20 Billion In Losses (CNBC)

The astronomical rally in GameStop has imposed huge losses of nearly $20 billion for short sellers this month, but they are not budging. Short-selling hedge funds have suffered a mark-to-market loss of $19.75 billion year to date in the brick-and-mortar video game retailer, including a nearly $8 billion loss on Friday as the stock kept ripping higher, according to data from S3 Partners. Still, short sellers mostly are holding onto their bearish positions or they are being replaced by new hedge funds willing to bet against the stock. GameStop shares that have been borrowed and sold short have declined by just about 5 million over the last week, marking an 8% dip in the short interest, according to S3. Most of the short covering occurred on Thursday, when the stock fell for the first time in six days.

“I keep hearing that ‘most of the GME shorts have covered’ — totally untrue,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3 managing director of predictive analytics. “In actuality the data shows that total net shares shorted hasn’t moved all that much.” “While the ‘value shorts’ that were in GME earlier have been squeezed, most of the borrowed shares that were returned on the back of the buy to covers were shorted by new momentum shorts in the name,” Dusaniwsky added in an email. Shares of GameStop, along with other heavily shorted stocks, spiked once again Friday, after Robinhood said it was resuming limited trading of previously restricted securities. The gain pushed GameStop’s rally this week to over 400% and this month to more than 1,600%. The video game stock has been the star of the show on the WallStreetBets Reddit forum, whose membership has grown rapidly to over 5 million.

A wave of day traders continued to encourage each other to pile into GameStop’s shares and call options, creating a massive short squeeze that inflicted pain for hedge funds betting against the stock. The borrow fee on GameStop’s stock — or the cost-to-borrow shares for the purpose of selling them short — jumped to 29.32% on existing shorts and 50% on new short positions, S3 said. “If most of the shorts had covered, we would not be seeing stock borrow rates at these high levels — by now you would be able to borrow GME stock at single digit levels due to an increase in the lendable stock loan supply due to borrowed shares being returned after all the ‘supposed’ buy-to-covers,” Dusaniwsky said. GameStop remained the most-shorted name in the market as short interest as a percentage of shares available for trading stands at 113.31%, S3 said.

Bianco GameStop

Read more …

It would be nice if this led to some kind of reform, but it’s been a very lucrative racket for a long time.

GameStop Craziness Pulls Back the Curtain on the Stock Market (Dayen)

This is, and there’s no other way to put it, hilarious. A bunch of people trading stocks on their phones have brought some of the lords of finance to their knees. They weren’t using some amazing or novel strategy: The run-up in GameStop is just the “pump” of a pump-and-dump scheme, where hype pulls people into a stock before the rug gets pulled out. In fact, that’s what hedge fund managers do all the time, making bets and using research to puff up a stock, then taking the profits off moving a stock, through force of will—theirs—rather than the inherent value of the company. The only real difference here is that ordinary investors are driving the train, and the hedge fund guys are getting run over.

The hedge funders are mad because distorting corporate stock prices beyond the fundamentals is supposed to be their thing, not the work of the hoi polloi. Now, they’ve been outfoxed. If you can think of a better use of $600 stimulus checks, let me know. Never was there a more apt name for an app in this moment than “Robinhood.” Now, this will not stay hilarious forever; we still have the “dump” part of the pump-and-dump scheme to reach. And there appears to be a lot of institutional money front-running the whole thing, capitalizing on the populist story line to take their winnings. But that’s why this can also be a teachable moment, and a moment to fully re-regulate this entire casino.

The idea that the stock market value represents a snapshot of a company’s true worth or expected future profits was always a little cockeyed, and now it’s just been revealed as absurd. Financial-market rigging was always discreetly lurking in the background of stock tickers, like the one that flashes across CNBC, and now it’s been screamingly placed into the foreground. The same dopamine rush that fuels sports betting and online poker has moved into retail market trading, but it was always there at the level of big money. These markets were always reckless and disconnected from reality.

I’m certain that institutional investors will use this as a moment to demand regulation to stop the Robinhood frenzy. But that’s a slippery slope, as there’s not much difference between what the Robinhooders are doing and the normal course of Wall Street looting. Maybe all of that should be investigated. Maybe financial transaction taxes should be applied to encourage limits on trading, and pump-and-dumps strongly restricted. Maybe the real economy should be nurtured with public investment, and these private, more corrupt markets subject to root-and-branch overhaul. (It’s also funny to see the hedge fund guys super-mad that a stock is going up.)

Read more …

And Apple too. WTF?

Google Deletes 100,000+ One-Star Ratings Of Robinhood App (RT)

Google has come to the rescue of the stock-trading app Robinhood, deleting negative reviews flooding the company after it had blocked the purchase of stock in companies like GameStop, AMC, and others. After Robinhood controversially stepped in and made the “risk management decision” to block the purchasing of stocks being made unusually popular thanks to the r/WallStreetBets subreddit, its app on Google Play was inundated with reviews from unsatisfied customers. The app’s near-perfect rating stumbled to just one star on Thursday after over 100,000 reviews came in. Google has now deleted enough of those reviews, however, that the app’s rating has jumped to over four stars (out of five).


Google admitted to actively deleting the reviews, as they violate a policy the company has on reviews that are published specifically to manipulate a company’s overall rating. On Apple’s App Store, Robinhood holds a near-perfect five-star rating, though there are numerous one-star reviews from Thursday when the app made the controversial decision to delist certain stocks for individual traders, a move that has drawn the ire of everyone from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

Read more …

Now you see him, now you don’t.

The Man Who Isn’t There (Kunstler)

The New York Times, mouthpiece of Wokery, is working triple overtime to sell the narrative of white supremacists on the loose. Anyone to the right of Woke is now an enemy of the state. Last time I looked, it was Antifa and BLM tearing up the streets, setting federal courthouses and police stations on fire, looting stores, destroying businesses, and injuring policemen — in the case of Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, all summer long. Democrats somehow omitted to label them as any kind of threat to the public interest. Vice-president Kamala Harris (then-senator), led a campaign to raise bail money for Antifas and BLMs arrested during last year’s riots. Woke District Attorney’s dropped charges against hundreds of them. Governors and mayors sat on their hands. There were no consequences for any of that.

If anything, the political right-wing of the USA has shown miraculous self-restraint through four years of FBI / DOJ / CIA sedition, tech company tyranny, impeachment chicanery, and the rage-fueled calumnies of Pelosi and Company, all aggravated by questionable Covid-19 lockdowns, and climaxing in a fraud-inflected election that has not had been subject to any adequate judicial audit.

How much of the current artificial hysteria these first weeks of the “Biden” regime is designed to divert attention from the question of who is actually running Joe Biden? My guess would be Barack Obama via Susan Rice, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and formerly Mr. Obama’s National Security Advisor. I would suppose that Ms. Rice is on the phone with Mr. Obama bright and early every morning, and for more than casual conversation. She is surely plugged into the rest of the Obama network, too, in effect a shadow government, which may explain the seeming flimsiness of the crew assembled around Joe Biden. Seems to work for now. But how many weeks will go by before the whole country realizes that Mr. Biden is not actually functioning as president?

Read more …

“[A] president is not a Prime Minister or a King..”

AGs: ‘Principal Political Control’ Of Government Lies With Congress (JTN)

Half a dozen state attorneys general wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden this week that the president’s role in the U.S. is “limited” by the Constitution, and that the primary political power of the national government lies in Congress, not the executive office. The letter, signed by the attorneys general of Texas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Montana and Indiana, sought to stress the “limited presidential power” the office of the presidency enjoys within the American framework of government. “Under the Constitution, the principal political control of our government is entrusted not to the President, but to the carefully constructed Congress which serves as both sail and anchor of the federal ship of state,” they wrote.


“Congress writes the laws and the President and his officers are limited under the Constitution to the role of faithfully carrying them out.” Noting that the divided structure of the U.S. government “makes it quite difficult to enact significant legislation,” the attorneys general wrote that “it is just as important to respect the absence of legislation as its passage.” “[A] president is not a Prime Minister or a King and must respect that his constitutional office is a limited Chief Executive not the supreme authority of the state,” they wrote, arguing further that “overreaching and defying Congress will not be rewarded or succeed.”

Read more …

Not.

How Biden’s Executive Orders Impact The Oil Industry (Rapier)

On his second day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. The biggest takeaway from the Executive Order was the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit. The project had been rejected by President Obama in late 2015, fast-tracked by President Trump in 2017, and now once more rejected by President Biden in 2021. But there is no mention of fracking in this executive order. Last week the administration also issued Secretarial Order No. 3395, which implemented a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal land and water.

This week President Biden followed that action up with Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The biggest takeaway from this order was an indefinite “pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands” until a comprehensive review on the climate change impacts can be completed. The sound bite for many from this executive order was that President Biden had banned fracking as a consequence of this action. But as with the previous order, fracking isn’t mentioned in this executive order. Further, if an operator has an existing lease and permit but haven’t drilled yet, they can still drill the well and frack it.

The order does potentially impact some future fracking operations, but Biden did reiterate before he signed it “Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up, we’re not going to ban fracking.” But what Biden can’t do by executive order is an overall ban on fracking, because most fracking takes place on private land. A complete ban would have to be passed by Congress, and that looks like a longshot. [..] I spoke with Stacey Morris, who is Director of Research for midstream index and data provider Alerian. She explained that the orders were certainly not as bad as they seemed:

“These executive orders were pretty well-telegraphed. They were even a little bit softened from what was said during the campaign. The language on the Biden website discussed banning permitting on federal land. The executive order is a pause on new leases. They aren’t looking at a full out fracking ban.” When I asked how companies might be affected, she explained “Companies have been stockpiling permits in anticipation of a move like this. Right now there are 7,700 unused permits. For example, Devon Energy has over four years of permit backlog and drilling inventory.

Read more …

More of that vaccine mess.

Macron: Oxford Vaccine Appears ‘Quasi-Ineffective’ On Elderly Patients (JTN)

French President Emmanuel Macron claimed on Friday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine appears to have little effect on elderly patients, though a major European medical authority said the data in that regard was too limited to yet make an ultimate determination. Macron told reporters that AstraZeneca’s vaccine “doesn’t work the way we were expecting it to,” and that the injection appears “quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older.” Macron noted that France was still waiting on data from the European Union’s European Medicines Agency to guide its vaccination policy; the EMA later in the day deemed the vaccine safe for all adults.


“There are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years old) to provide a figure for how well the vaccine will work in this group,” the EMA said in a statement. “However, protection is expected, given that an immune response is seen in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines.”

Read more …

As long as you pay 25% of your rent, you’re fine. Do we call this deflation?

Newsom Signs Bill To Extend COVID-19 Eviction Protections Through June (LAT)

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed an emergency bill that will extend through June eviction protections for Californians suffering financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic, acting just days before an earlier moratorium was set to expire. Newsom’s action on the legislation followed the measure’s approval Thursday by the state Legislature and was aimed at heading off what many state officials warned would be mass evictions and a surge in homelessness as Californians struggle with lost income during the pandemic. The measure prevents landlords from evicting tenants who pay at least 25% of their rent through June and attest that they face financial hardship because of COVID-19 and its effect on the economy.

The bill also provides $2.6 billion in federal funds for rent subsidies that will help pay most past-due rent by low-income tenants dating back to last April. “The issue of evictions, the issue of this moment, the economic anxiety that so many people are struggling and suffering through, is the issue, and we have not lost sight of that,” Newsom said during a livestreamed bill-signing ceremony, adding that the law he signed is “protecting millions and millions of people, tenants as well as landlords, and addressing their anxiety head-on.” [..] About 90,000 California households are behind on their rent by a collective total of $400 million, according to an estimate last week by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, although other estimates have been much higher.

Under the new bill and the measure approved last year, tenants cannot be evicted as long as they pay 25% of their rent. The measure was submitted as a budget bill, which allowed it to be approved with a majority vote. A regular bill requires a two-thirds vote to take effect immediately. Under the bill, tenants can qualify for the protections if they pay 25% of their rent each month or in a lump-sum payment by June 30, and attest that they face a financial hardship because of the pandemic. Unpaid rent converts to debt that landlords can pursue through the courts, but it can’t be used to seek an eviction.

Read more …

Facebook oversees itself.

Facebook’s Oversight Board Is Taking Public Comments On Trump’s Ban (F.)

Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent panel of experts established to review contentious cases, is accepting public comment on whether Facebook was correct in banning former president Donald Trump, allowing the public-at-large to directly weigh in on a Facebook decision relating to Trump for the first time. Facebook banned Trump indefinitely earlier this month following the riot at the Capitol, citing two posts during the attack: A video where he told rioters he “loved” them and that the election was “stolen from us” as well as a post where he said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots.”

Though Facebook believes it was right in banning Trump, the company referred the case to the oversight board last week, which will determine whether Trump’s ban will remain permanent because Facebook has to abide by the board’s decisions. The board says the public comment process is meant for “subject matter experts and interested groups” to share relevant research and information that may help, though anyone can submit a comment. The public has 10 days to submit comments [..] “We believe our decision was necessary and right,” Facebook Vice President Nick Clegg said in a statement last week. “Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld.”

Facebook’s Oversight Board was established in 2019 in response to widespread criticism of the social network’s moderation policies. The 20-person panel includes academics and other experts, such as the former prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and Director of Stanford University’s Constitutional Law Center Michael McConnell. The board says their mission is to “support people’s right to free expression” by upholding or reversing Facebook’s content decisions. In its first set of rulings released this week, the board found that Facebook mistakenly took down posts in five out of six cases.

Tulsi Huckabee
https://twitter.com/i/status/1355123535333609481

Read more …

He has a brother who’s a big shot on Wall Street.

Jon Stewart Joins Twitter To Defend Reddit GameStop Traders (NYP)

Jon Stewart was prompted to join Twitter on Thursday to defend the renegade Reddit traders who turned Wall Street upside down this week. The former “Daily Show” host hit back at critics of the rogue day traders who used WallStreetBets to send GameStop’s stock skyrocketing in defiance of large hedge funds shorting the business. “This is bull—t. The Redditors aren’t cheating, they’re joining a party Wall Street insiders have been enjoying for years,” Stewart tweeted. “Don’t shut them down…maybe sue them for copyright infringement instead!!” He added: “We’ve learned nothing from 2008.”


The comedian signed his first tweet “StewBeef.” His account @jon_actual quickly became verified and was granted a blue check. “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert responded to Stewart with: “Well, one thing changed since 2008- a friend of mine joined Twitter.” In a follow-up tweet a few hours later, Stewart, 58, thanked fellow users for the warm welcome to the social media platform. “I promise to only use this app in a sporadic and ineffective manner,” he joked.

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Jan 222021
 


Vincent van Gogh Laboureur dans un champ 1889

 

1000s Of Guardsmen Forced To Vacate Capitol, Sleep In Parking Garage (Pol.)
Words of Division (MacDonald)
Trump as Othello in a Corporate Theater (Ford)
Round Up the Usual Suspects; Don’t Forget Putin (Ray McGovern)
The Capturing of the Capitol (Tracey)
State Legislatures Make “Unprecedented” Push On Anti-Protest Bills (IC)
12,000 Israelis Test Positive For Covid19 Despite Receiving Pfizer Jab (RT)
Merkel To Close German Borders Unless EU Agrees On Covid-19 Fight (RT)
Fauci : Covid Vaccines Less Effective Against Some New Strains (CNBC)
Time to Worry About Stock Market Leverage Again (WS)
Large US Military Convoy Enters Northeast Syria (AMN)
Google, Facebook Give Australian Local Government PR Website ‘News’ Status (R.)

 

 


The 21st second of the 21st minute of the 21st hour of the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century.

 

 

All good now, but what a blunder.

1000s Of Guardsmen Forced To Vacate Capitol, Sleep In Parking Garage (Pol.)

Thousands of National Guardsmen were allowed back into the Capitol Thursday night, hours after U.S. Capitol Police officials ordered them to vacate the facilities, sending them outdoors or to nearby parking garages after two weeks pulling security duty after the deadly riot on Jan. 6. One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said. Temperatures in Washington were in the low 40s by nightfall. “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service.

Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said. All National Guard troops were told to vacate the Capitol and nearby congressional buildings on Thursday, and to set up mobile command centers outside or in nearby hotels, another Guardsman confirmed. They were told to take their rest breaks during their 12-hour shifts outside and in parking garages, the person said. Top lawmakers from both parties took to Twitter to decry the decision and call for answers after POLITICO first reported the news Thursday night, with some even offering their offices to be used as rest areas. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this.”

And Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) noted that the Capitol complex remains closed to members of the public, “so there’s plenty of room for troops to take a break in them.” By 10 p.m., Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said the situation was “being resolved” and that the Guardsmen would be able to return indoors later in the night. “Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight,” added Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost both of her legs in combat. “I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”

Read more …

“This characterization of America’s worsening racism is not just factually ungrounded, it is also a tasteless rhetorical move in an inaugural address. Reflexive invocations of “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” have become the Tourette’s Syndrome of left-wing professors and activists.”

Words of Division (MacDonald)

It’s an odd way to seek national unity: call a significant portion of the American public white supremacists, racists, and nativists. Welcome to the Biden presidency. Joe Biden’s inaugural speech as 46th president is predictably being hailed for its “unifying” message. And just as predictably, his invocations of the divisive bromides of the identitarian Left are being swept under the rug. According to Biden, we are a “great nation” and a “good people.” But we also oppress minorities with an ever-rising fervor. “Growing inequity” is among the greatest challenges facing the country, according to Biden, along with the “sting of systemic racism” and encroaching “white supremacy.” Only now are we confronting “a cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making.”

One might have thought that more than 50 years of civil rights legislation; the banishing of Jim Crow segregation; the ubiquity of racial preferences throughout corporate America, higher education, and government; trillions of dollars of tax dollars attempting to close the academic achievement gap; and the election of black politicians by white voting districts would have reduced inequity, not increased it. But to Biden’s speechwriters, steeped in academic victimology, racial inequity is always with us, requiring constant remediation from government. Biden rattled off a litany of white America’s sins: the “harsh, ugly reality” of “racism, nativism, fear, [and] demonization”; “anger, resentment, hatred, [and] extremism.” He did not name white Americans as such, but he did not need to. That qualifier is inherent in the language he chose to adopt.

This characterization of America’s worsening racism is not just factually ungrounded, it is also a tasteless rhetorical move in an inaugural address. Reflexive invocations of “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” have become the Tourette’s Syndrome of left-wing professors and activists. They are au courant, shallow terms of the moment, lacking depth or weight. In fact, such terms are so overused today that it is easy to tune them out. But that would be a mistake. The “systemic racism” conceit means that every American institution is illegitimate and needs to be reconstructed. Biden’s cabinet nominees, whether in health, finance, environmental policy, or education, have declared that eradicating systemic racism is their top priority. How this agenda will play out has already been adumbrated in the CDC’s initial priority list for Covid vaccinations: hold off on vaccinating the elderly, despite their higher risk levels, because the elderly are disproportionately white. Racial quotas will become even more the order of the day than now.

Read more …

“The Democratic Party remained a safe vehicle for corporate agendas for the next 20 years – until an Orange Demon was conjured to scare the Democratic base back into the party’s corporate bosom, in 2016.”

Trump as Othello in a Corporate Theater (Ford)

Donald Trump has slunk off the national stage for the time being, but we must remember who made him a contender for president in the first place: the Democrats and their corporate media. As Wikileaks revealed , the Clinton campaign encouraged friendly media to boost Trump’s Republican primary prospects, hoping to set up a straw man that could easily be knocked down in November, 2016. By Election Day, the corporate press had lavished $5 billion in free media on Trump – more than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and all of Trump’s Republican presidential competitors, combined. If you are desperate to flush the stink of four years of Trump out of your brain, remember who put it there, through constant, daily repetition.

How long will the Orange Menace stay gone? Not long; soon either Trump will make a comeback or the corporate media will inflate another racist straw man to run against. The only way the corporate Democrats can mobilize their base to eek out slim national victories while keeping Joe Biden’s promise to the rich that “nothing would fundamentally change ,” is to position themselves as the sole defense against the racist hordes. That’s how Bill Clinton succeeded in completing Ronald Reagan’s quest to “end welfare as we know it,” while vastly expanding the structures of mass Black incarceration (Sen. Joe Biden proudly “wrote the bill”), gutting safeguards against bankers blowing up the economy, and facilitating the exodus of good jobs to sweatshops overseas. Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America confederacy stampeded Blacks and “progressives” into the corporate Democratic corral, where they were politically neutered.

The Democratic Party remained a safe vehicle for corporate agendas for the next 20 years – until an Orange Demon was conjured to scare the Democratic base back into the party’s corporate bosom, in 2016. [..] When Blacks and progressives rallied behind Bill Clinton to defeat Gingrich, the corporate rulers were enabled to plunge the society into a great leap backward that wiped out the last vestiges of the New Deal, condemned another generation of Black youth to the Gulag, and set the stage for two economic catastrophes that rivaled the Great Depression, while the U.S. military vastly intensified its rampages around the world, the national security state penetrated every digital device on the planet, and huge corporations perfected the tools of public self-surveillance.

Read more …

MICIMATT

Round Up the Usual Suspects; Don’t Forget Putin (Ray McGovern)

But, don’t go away, Russia, not just yet. The MICIMATT still finds you convenient as the kind of “threat” it can cite to justify spending untold billions of dollars on defense, enriching the already rich. The way the U.S. system is structured, it matters little in the grand scheme of things on where the money is spent – whether a Republican or Democrat sits in the Oval Office. In short, the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank complex rules the roost (MEDIA in all caps, as the linchpin). Clinton wonders aloud who Trump “is beholden to”. Well, speaking of beholden, Joe Biden enters office with zero vaccination against being beholden – to the MICIMATT. It is fair to say that, without that the MICIMATT’s blessing, candidates end up like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

There are just enough straws in the wind to make the MICIMATT and its clients and supporters nervous. What would happen, should Putin and Russia become less demonized? Could there be a thaw in the unnecessarily chilly relations with Moscow? What could that mean for bloated defense spending – particularly at a time when those funds are so desperately and demonstrably needed at home? It appears likely that strategic arms negotiations with Russia will be high on President Joe Biden’s agenda, as will cooperation with Russia and the other parties to the Iran nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew. Assuming William Burns, former ambassador to Russia, is confirmed as CIA director, Biden will have at his beck and call a straight-speaking, highly experienced expert who has dealt with President Putin. Burns was also one of the chief US negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal.

In my view, it is also significant that President-elect Biden has held back from explicit condemnation of Russia by name amid the recent flurry of accusations of Russian hacking of several US institutions over the past several months. Yes, he has referred to what Secretary of State Pompeo and Attorney General Barr have said blaming Russia, and it can be argued that he has indirectly implicated Russia in the context of his sparse statements on this issue. In my experience, though, the Kremlin is likely to have taken note of the caution that Biden has exercised on this neuralgic issue. Nor has this likely escaped the attention of the MICIMATT and induced some worry about the long-term viability of the portrayal of Putin as villain.

Oliver Stone told me recently that, in one of his conversations in Russia, Mr. Putin, somewhat exasperated, said something along the lines of, “Now Russians are thought of like Jews before World War II”. Think about that. Amid the Russia Russia Russia over the past four-plus years, Putin has kept his voice down – and his powder dry – while staying open to negotiations to reduce arms competition, cyber warfare, and other facets of bilateral tension. If past is precedent, he is likely to see opportunities to take a fresh look at US intentions under President Biden – especially during the traditional “honeymoon” period normally accorded a new president. But clearly, Putin is also aware of the parallels between the demonization of him and Russia and how Jews were blamed for just about everything during the Thirties. Evidence-free accusations by the likes of Pelosi and Clinton will make the task of restoring a modicum of trust an uphill battle.

Read more …

“It was the refusal of American media to question the necessity of these extraordinary measures that will be one of the longest-lasting consequences of the entire bizarre affair.”

The Capturing of the Capitol (Tracey)

The US military is routinely shown to be one of the most trusted institutions in American life — so it wasn’t as though their mere presence on the streets of Washington automatically provoked universal horror. After the massive nationwide riots last summer, virtually everyone I spoke to expressed satisfaction with the National Guard’s handling of the chaos. Similarly, the vast number of soldiers deployed to DC this week to ward off a potential “insurrection” were greeted with plentiful selfies and free cheeseburger deliveries. But this operation, which reportedly consisted of 25,000 military personnel — not including the innumerable federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on the ground — was another thing altogether. Downtown DC had been transformed into a brazenly fortified, militarised zone unlike anything in living memory.

Roads were blocked off by oversized armoured vehicles which had been stationed for maximum visibility. The boarding-up of endless storefronts — a result of both the Covid-related economic downturn and prolonged riot-induced anxiety — added to the sense of dystopia. Soldiers patrolled with large rifles slung around their shoulders, directing traffic and checking the “papers” of motorists. One Guardsman from Pennsylvania told me that “legitimate business” was the standard by which they were to adjudicate whether cars would be allowed to pass through. The rifles brandished by many of the troops were conspicuously without a magazine loaded. This is not uncommon for a peacetime mission. The aim was evidently not to subdue any kind of imminent, actionable threat that would require live ammunition, as many politicians and journalists had frantically warned was the case, but to simply act as a gigantic deterrent.

That objective was apparently accomplished. I did not see a single protester anywhere in the city on Inauguration Day, much less any “insurrectionists” or “armed rebels” trawling around, as had been so gravely forecast. The FBI (then still technically under the jurisdiction of Donald Trump) had warned that all 50 state Capitols were at severe risk, and therefore also needed to fortify their defences with military deployments and obtrusive fencing and barriers. Then the day came and went, and… nothing. In both Albany, NY, and Sacramento, CA a total of one Trump hat-wearing man showed up at each.

And so Joe Biden was sworn in without incident, appealing for “unity”, while the city surrounding him was essentially under full-scale military occupation. The night before, I saw multiple platoons marching the streets in two-by-two formation — en route to who knows where. The general public couldn’t get anywhere close to the Inauguration site, the interior of which had been cordoned off with barbed wire. The few stragglers who hopelessly tried to enter the outskirts of the National Mall — mostly foreign media desperate for a story — were fooled by the Secret Service into standing in a line-to-nowhere that never moved.

It was the refusal of American media to question the necessity of these extraordinary measures that will be one of the longest-lasting consequences of the entire bizarre affair. It confirmed that journalists will uncritically accept extravagant shows of intrusive state force, so long as the political incentives are correctly aligned. During the riots in the summer, the US media generally reacted with horror to the prospect of the American military being deployed to allay “civil unrest,” with many claiming that it would be tantamount to white supremacy for soldiers to deter arson attacks against small minority-owned businesses and private residences. But place DC under complete military occupation as a final rebuke to Trump and his shameful supporters, and the show of state force is to be celebrated rather than adversarially probed. Particularly with Democrats now controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency, the wisdom of this occupation is probably never going to be examined in any meaningful way. Will we ever learn how much it cost taxpayers? Doubtful.

Read more …

Fear rules fear.

State Legislatures Make “Unprecedented” Push On Anti-Protest Bills (IC)

Elly Page had never seen anything like what’s happened in recent days. A senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Page has been tracking the proliferation of anti-protest bills across the U.S. since Donald Trump became president in 2017. “The number of bills we have seen in the past three weeks is unprecedented,” she said. Since the day of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, at least nine states have introduced 14 anti-protest bills. The bills, which vary state by state, contain a dizzying array of provisions that serve to criminalize participation in disruptive protests. The measures range from barring demonstrators from public benefits or government jobs to offering legal protections to those who shoot or run over protesters. Some of the proposals would allow protesters to be held without bail and criminalize camping. A few bills seek to prevent local governments from defunding police.

The pushes by close to a fifth of state legislatures are part of a pattern that began to pick up speed after the summer’s uprisings in response to the police killing of George Floyd, which in many communities included significant property damage. In a handful of states, lawmakers did what they often do: introduced new legislation — however unnecessary — to show that they were responding to their constituents’ concerns. The rate of new bills being offered sped up dramatically this month as lawmakers kicked off their legislative sessions at the very moment that Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Bills quickly arose in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.

“There has generally been an uptick at the beginning of odd-numbered years, when most states begin their biennial legislative sessions. But this year beats prior recent years,” Page said in an email. Since January 1, she noted that 11 state legislatures have introduced 17 bills, including those filed before the Capitol insurrection. “Compare that to 0 during the same period in 2020, 9 in 2019, 5 in 2018, and 13 in 2017,” she said, adding that the 2017 spike was mostly due to North Dakota responding to that winter’s Standing Rock protests.

Read more …

That’s a lot, no matter how you see it.

12,000 Israelis Test Positive For Covid19 Despite Receiving Pfizer Jab (RT)

More than 12,400 people in Israel have tested positive for coronavirus after being vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, including 69 who had received their second dose, the country’s Health Ministry said. Some 189,000 people were tested for Covid-19 after being vaccinated, with 6.6 percent getting a positive result, according to ministry data reported by Israeli outlets. The majority were apparently infected shortly after receiving the first jab of the two-part vaccine – a period when the inoculation isn’t expected to have kicked in yet. However, 1,410 people tested positive two weeks after their first injection, by which time partial immunity should have already taken effect.

Moreover, 69 patients became infected with the novel coronavirus despite already having been administered both shots of the vaccine, the ministry said. Israel began administering the second doses almost two weeks ago, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being the first to complete the course. Pfizer has said that a spike in immunity occurs between Day 15 and Day 21 after the first jab, when the effectiveness of its vaccine increases from 52 to 89 percent. According to earlier trials, the protection offered by the vaccine reaches the 95 percent level a week after the second dose is administered, the pharma giant said. When it comes to vaccines, the results of clinical trials may differ from how the immunization performs in the field, where it’s administered to a much greater number of people.

On Tuesday, Israel’s coronavirus tsar, Nachman Ash, reportedly complained to Israeli ministers about the insufficient protection provided by the first shot of the American vaccine. It turned out to be “less effective than we had thought” and “lower than Pfizer presented,” Ash said, as cited by Army Radio. However, the head of the infection unit at Sheba Medical Center – where Netanyahu got his jabs – told Israeli media that the Pfizer vaccine “works wonderfully” after two shots. According to Professor Gili Regev-Yohai, 102 of the medics at the center were tested a week after completing the vaccination course, and all but two of them showed antibody levels between six to 20 times higher than seven days earlier.

[..] Despite already vaccinating more than 20 percent of its own population, Israel doesn’t seem as eager to share immunization with Palestinians in the occupied territories. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization expressed its “concerns” over unequal access to vaccines between Israelis and Palestinian. A WHO representative for Palestine said that the UN body has been in discussions with Israeli authorities on the possibility of allocating vaccines to the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israeli Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, has said her department may offer the Palestinian Authoritiy surplus doses after Israelis have received their jabs.

Read more …

Scientist Angela’s not liking what she sees..

Merkel To Close German Borders Unless EU Agrees On Covid-19 Fight (RT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union must find common ground in fighting coronavirus and stopping the spread of new strains that have already swept through the UK and Ireland recently. On Tuesday, Merkel warned that Germany could close its borders unless neighboring states acted together. “We need to make sure that everyone around us is doing the same. Otherwise we have to look at measures such as entry restrictions.” “The EU is one area,” Merkel said in Berlin on Thursday morning, hours before she was scheduled to join a video summit of EU leaders focused on Covid-19. The chancellor warned about the dangers from the spread of the new mutant virus and that they need to be “taken very seriously.”


“We act out of precaution for our country,” Merkel said, adding that everything is now about getting the getting the pandemic under control. EU leaders are to consider whether to approve vaccine passports, which would allow for inoculated people to travel more freely, and whether to apply travel restrictions. Merkel said Germany is at a difficult stage of the pandemic. “On the one hand, the number of daily infections is gradually going down,” she told a press conference. “But the virus is still very dangerous. We have a shockingly high death count, more than 1,000 people today.” On Wednesday, Germany extended its national lockdown until February 14 and brought in new rules making it mandatory to wear medical-grade masks in shops and on public transport. So far, Germany has recorded 50,010 deaths and 2.1 million cases of coronavirus.

Read more …

Has anyone seen any reported evidence of vaccine efficacy?

Fauci : Covid Vaccines Less Effective Against Some New Strains (CNBC)

New data shows that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday. A handful of new strains of the coronavirus have emerged overseas that have given scientists some cause for concern. Some variants that have been identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil appear to be more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily more deadly. While it’s no surprise the virus is mutating, researchers are quickly trying to determine what the changes might mean for recently developed lifesaving vaccines and therapeutics against the disease.

Some early findings that were published in the preprint server bioRxiv, which have yet to be peer reviewed, indicate that the variant identified in South Africa, known as 501Y.V2, can evade the antibodies provided by some coronavirus treatments and may reduce the efficacy of the current line of available vaccines. “Furthermore, 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma,” researchers with South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases wrote. Their conclusions, they said, “highlight the prospect of reinfection … and may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.”

Even if the drugs are less effective, they will still likely provide enough protection to make the vaccines worth getting, Fauci said during a White House press briefing. Both vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have proven to be highly effective, creating a “cushion effect” that would allow for some dip in their effectiveness. “We’re following very carefully the one in South Africa, which is a little bit more concerning, but nonetheless not something that we don’t think we can handle,” Fauci said.

Read more …

Stimulus arriving in the wrong places.

Time to Worry About Stock Market Leverage Again (WS)

Margin debt – the amount of money that individuals and institutions borrow against their stock holdings – spiked by 56 billion in December, after having already spiked by 63 billion in November, by far the two largest month-to-month increases on record, to $778 billion, according to FINRA which regulates brokers and exchanges. Since March, this measure of margin debt surged by nearly $300 billion, or by 62%. Margin debt as tracked by FINRA at its member firms isn’t the only form of stock market leverage, but it’s the only form that is disclosed monthly. There are many other forms of stock market leverage by institutions and individuals that are not disclosed, or are only disclosed voluntarily in SEC filings by the brokers and banks that lend to their clients against their portfolios, such as “securities-based loans” (SBLs). We don’t know how much total stock market leverage there is, but margin loans indicate the trends, and we had another WTF moment:

High margin balances tend to precede epic stock market sell-offs, as annotated in the chart above. With these two-decade charts, the long-term changes in the dollar amounts are less relevant since the purchasing power of the dollar has dropped over the period. But on a short-term basis, the movements are very indicative about rising or falling leverage in the stock market. On a year-over-year basis, margin debt surged by nearly $200 billion in December, by far the most ever. Stock market leverage is an accelerator. When stocks already rise, and investors feel confident, they borrow money to buy more stocks, and they can borrow more against their stocks because their value has risen. And this additional borrowed money is then chasing after stocks and thereby creating more buying pressure, and prices surge further.

Read more …

Aaannd …we’re baaack!

Large US Military Convoy Enters Northeast Syria (AMN)

A large U.S. military convoy was seen entering northeastern Syria on Thursday, marking the first time since Damascus issued its letter to the United Nations Security Council demanding the immediate withdrawal of American forces from the Arab Republic. According to a field report from northeastern Syria on Thursday, the U.S. military convoy entered the Al-Hasakah Governorate from neighboring Iraq, as they were observed entering the Arab Republic via the Al-Waleed Crossing. The report said the U.S. military convoy consisted of a large amount of weapons and logistical equipment, which were transferred to their bases inside the Al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor Governorates east of the Euphrates River.


They would add that the U.S. military convoy consisted of over 40 trucks and armored vehicles that were escorted by helicopters until they reached their destinations. These movements by the U.S. military have become routine, with the latter often moving troops and equipment back and forth from neighboring Iraq.

Read more …

Oz threatens to make them pay for news, they threaten to limit/cut their “services”, and then decide themselves what constitutes news. Major legal battle.

Google, Facebook Give Australian Local Government PR Website ‘News’ Status (R.)

Google and Facebook Inc have granted an Australian local government news provider status, drawing questions about the internet giants’ efforts to curate news media. Bundaberg Council, a regional government, told Reuters a website it runs received classification as a Google “news source”, making it the country’s first local government with that accreditation. That means a council-funded website containing only public relations content gets priority in Google News searches about the agriculture hub of 100,000 people, accompanied by a “news source” tag. Bundaberg also has the country’s only confirmed council-run Facebook page tagged as a “News & Media Website”. The designation shows the gaps left in the country’s traditional news market as smaller publications wither and disappear.


Bundaberg Council’s news website says it does not publish court and crime reports, politics, “investigative journalism” or “negative stories”. “It’s just another example of the way these tech giants are allowed to operate outside any accountability framework at all,” said Denis Muller, an Honorary Fellow at University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism. “If they want to classify a council PR website as a news website, well, they can, and there’s nothing stopping them.” Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook are fighting an Australian federal government plan to make them pay media outlets for original content that appears on their platforms, telling a Senate inquiry that the new rules may lead them to cancel some core services in the country.

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

FerrisBernie

 

 

 

 

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

 

Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 4:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Salvador Dalí The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus 1959

 

 

And just like that, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg belatedly found they had fallen on their own swords, as these were already sticking out of their backs. Let’s see it as poetic justice. They thought they had the power- after all, they’re just private companies!- to restrict Donald Trump’s access to their organizations, and then ban him altogether, only to find that they themselves will now be restricted and perhaps even banned as a result.

They figured since most of the world doesn’t like Trump, it would applaud the moves as much as the US Democratic party does. But most of the world doesn’t. What it sees, what its leaders see, is a threat to everyone else’s freedom of speech, not just Trump’s. Those countries and their leaders have been suspicious of the might of US tech companies for longer, and they will now look elsewhere for social media functionality. It’s no accident that Facebook alone lost some $47 billion in market cap since the Trump ban.

This does not come from Trump supporters. Angela Merkel, not a Trump fun at all, summarizes the worries: “Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.” That’s it right there, the heart of the matter: “law”. Twitter and Facebook act as judge, jury and henchman, and that is not legal, not even for private companies.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook of all places (love the irony): “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not.” “There can be no consent to censorship.” Poland is drafting legislation which would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law. “Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland.”

While Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said: “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” AMLO is actively seeking a coalation of countries in the world to counter social media’s recent policies.

It’s quite something that Dorsey and Zuckerberg were/are blind to this. That they were apparently thinking in “American terms” only when banning Trump, and given political sentiments thought they could get away with it, but did not see the broader international implications. Their shareholders will not appreciate that blind spot. The US is not their only market.

 

The first things that will happen now is that the EU will look at measures to curtail social media’s freedoms in its territory. This is not an obvious matter, many of its countries – see Poland’s example- will claim they have their own laws and standards, and they often do, but, if only for internal EU political reasons, that won’t stick.

Social media are important platforms in politics these days. In EU elections, national parties form coalitions with each other, and these then form bigger coalitions (blocs). A candidate for the European Parliament could potentially be banned in one country, while one from another country, but belonging to the same party or bloc, would not. That can’t be, it’s too messy even by EU standards, so legislation will have to be pan-EU.

The funniest thing that might come of this is Facebook and Twitter re-opening Trump’s accounts to appease Merkel et al, but it’s too late. There are plenty EU companies more than eager to fill the void that Silicon Valley would leave behind (or they can order Chinese). And Jack and Mark will not win the world’s trust back in time, they stepped over the line.

Replacing Facebook won’t happen overnight. But if access to it is cut in large parts of the world, it could happen faster than you think. As for Twitter and WhatsApp, oh well, dime a dozen. They can kill Parler, but already large numbers of people are switching over to Signal and Telegram. Can’t kill ’em all, @jack.

Talking of which, did you see the Project Veritas video secretly made by a Twitter employee? This is exactly why Twitter will be restricted and banned. @jack threatening to give many other people the same treatment as Trump is a scary sight for many people across the world, politicians or citizens. You know who’s next? You are next.

 

 

@jack Veritas

 

 

Plenty politicians want to ban people from all manner of things, but they want to be the ones doing the banning, not @jack. But as Merkel observes, banning someone with no basis whatsoever in law is not what anyone should want. In the end, refusing someone access to social media turns into the same thing as refusing them access to a computer. Or, maybe an even better example, to a phone. Things like that happen very rarely, and never to a President of the United States. Ma Bell, Baby Bells, AT&T, maybe that’s the future of Facebook and Twitter. If they’re lucky.

And while we’re at it, we haven’t even mentioned Google yet. Let’s turn them into baby-Googles too. Because the biggest threat that Silicon Valley poses is not that they ban Trump and actively tried to influence a US presidential election (remember Zuckerberg’s $500 million election fund)?

No, the biggest threat is their algorithms used to spy on you and me to “optimize” us as victims clients for their advertizers. That’s why this is not just about Facebook and Twitter, but certainly also about Google. These are virtual monopolies we’re talking about. And while you’re at it, add Apple and Amazon. It’s their ties to intelligence services that make these companies the most threatening. In the US, this is too far advanced to stop now. But in Europe, there may still be a chance.

This is a big fight when it comes to liberty and personal space. And if you don’t fight it now, you’ve already lost. Pay attention please.

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

Read more …

“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

Read more …

Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

Read more …

People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

Read more …

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

Read more …

Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

Read more …

Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

Read more …

“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

Read more …

Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

Read more …

The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

Read more …

By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

Read more …

Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

Read more …

The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Dec 252020
 


Juan Gris Man in the café 1912

 

COVID19 Immunity Lasts For At Least 8 Months – Australian Researchers (RT)
Fauci Admits To Lying About Herd Immunity To Get Support For Vaccine (RT)
Study Investigates Effects Of COVID19 Vaccine On Male Fertility (L10)
Trump Told Congress To Give Americans More Money, Gets Bill With Less (Fox)
Larry Summers: $2,000 Checks Could Overheat Economy, Even $600 Is Too Much (RT)
Trump Granted Clemency Less Than Every President In Modern History Bar One (ZH)
One In Four Greek Companies Say They May Have Shut Down For Good (K.)
How Hunter Biden Allegedly Traded On Family Name, Influence (ZH)
Google Could Face Trillions In Fines In Texas Antitrust Suit (Pol.)
Facebook Managers Trash Their Own Ad Targeting In Unsealed Remarks (IC)

 

 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
– Plato

 

 

 

 

Why is everything white Mohammed Ali

 

 

But they still don’t know.

COVID19 Immunity Lasts For At Least 8 Months – Australian Researchers (RT)

People who build immunity against the coronavirus virus enjoy long-term protection from the illness, researchers in Australia have concluded, suggesting that vaccines could be effective for long periods of time. Melbourne’s Monash University announced that a team of researchers found that antibodies guard against reinfection for at least eight months. Their paper, published in the journal Science Immunology, is the “strongest evidence” yet that coronavirus jabs could be a workable solution to the health crisis, the university said. Previous studies suggested that antibodies to Covid-19 begin disappearing within several weeks or months. However, the new Australian research shows that specific cells within the immune system, called memory B cells, “remember” infection by the virus, and trigger a protective immune response by producing antibodies if re-exposure occurs.

The study examined 25 Covid-19 patients, taking 36 blood samples from them, starting four days after infection. The last samples were taken 242 days post-infection. Researchers saw that antibodies against the virus started to wane after 20 days following infection, but found that memory B cells specific to the Covid-19 virus remained stable for at least eight months. The results are good news for the efficacy of vaccines, and also help explain why there have been so few examples of people being reinfected by the virus, said Associate Professor Menno van Zelm, from the Monash University Department of Immunology and Pathology. This has been a black cloud hanging over the potential protection that could be provided by any COVID-19 vaccine and gives real hope that, once a vaccine or vaccines are developed, they will provide long-term protection.

Although there is a wide range of coronavirus vaccines that have shown to be effective at building immunity against the virus, it’s still unclear how long the protection lasts. However, vaccines will also have to keep up with mutations of the virus. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said earlier this week that the German company would soon have a jab to counter a new strain of Covid-19 that appeared in the UK, but expressed confidence that the current vaccine developed with US firm Pfizer will still be effective for the time being. Russia’s homegrown Sputnik V vaccine is also effective against the new strain of the coronavirus, according to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which bankrolled the jab’s development.

Read more …

Fauci sells vaccines. It’s not difficult.

Fauci Admits To Lying About Herd Immunity To Get Support For Vaccine (RT)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the epidemiologist revered almost religiously as a hero by mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians, has admitted that he lied to Americans to manipulate their acceptance of a new Covid-19 vaccine. The intentional deception involved estimates for what percentage of the population will need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 and enable a return to normalcy. Earlier this year, Fauci said 60-70 percent – a typical range for such a virus – but he moved the goalposts to 70-75 percent in television interviews about a month ago. Last week, he told CNBC that the magic number would be around “75, 80, 85 percent.” When pressed on the moving target in a New York Times interview, Fauci said he purposely revised his estimates gradually.

The newspaper, which posted the article on Thursday, said Fauci changed his answers partly based on “science” and partly on his hunch “that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci said. Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85. Fauci added that he doesn’t know the real number but believes the range is 70-90 percent. He said it may take nearly 90 percent, but he won’t give that number because Americans might be discouraged, knowing that voluntary acceptance won’t be high enough to reach that goal.

The article was published on Fauci’s 80th birthday, which was celebrated in the nation’s capital as “Dr. Anthony Fauci Day” after being proclaimed as such by Washington’s Democrat mayor, Muriel Bowser. CNN and other media outlets covered the occasion glowingly, including Fauci being surprised with a “serenade” by emergency medical workers as he left his office at the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday. A CNN video of the serenade included an audio clip of President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, singing the birthday song. But the doctor’s changing story on herd immunity is only the latest in a series of Covid-19 flip-flops, including 180-degree shifts on such core issues as whether members of the general public should wear masks and whether children should be sent back to school.

Just as his tone on herd immunity changed, his view on prospects for a return to normalcy shifted dramatically. A few days before the November 3 presidential election, he echoed Biden’s gloomy Covid-19 outlook and implied that the Democrat challenger would deal with the crisis more seriously than would President Donald Trump. After the election, he turned far more optimistic.

Read more …

“To protect fertility, some men may want to consider freezing their sperm prior to vaccination.”

Study Investigates Effects Of COVID19 Vaccine On Male Fertility (L10)

The University of Miami is investigating the possible effects of the coronavirus vaccine on male fertility. Lead researchers Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, a reproductive urologist with U Health, initiated an earlier study which found the virus was present in the testicles for up to six months following infection. That spurred his team to question the virus’ effect on sperm and reproduction. His team is now looking at the potential impact of the vaccine as well. “We’re evaluating the sperm parameters and quality before the vaccine and after the vaccine. From the biology of the COVID vaccine we believe it shouldn’t affect fertility but we want to do the study to make sure that man who want to have kids in the future to assure them it’s safe to go ahead and get the vaccine,” Ramasamy said. Study participants must have a fertility evaluation before receiving the vaccine. To protect fertility, some men may want to consider freezing their sperm prior to vaccination.

Read more …

Paralysis.

Trump Told Congress To Give Americans More Money, Gets Bill With Less (Fox)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said a bipartisan coronavirus relief and omnibus bill has been enrolled and is on its way to President Trump for his signature. “We urge him to sign this bill into law to give immediate relief to hardworking families,” Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted. The enrollment comes after House Republicans rejected the president’s demand for $2,000 checks for most Americans. The rare Christmas Eve session of the House lasted just minutes, with help for millions of Americans awaiting Trump’s signature on a smaller COVID relief and government funding bill. Trump’s refusal of the $900 billion package, which is linked to a $1.4 trillion government funding bill, could spark a federal shutdown at midnight Monday.

His push to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples has gotten support from Democrats but splits the GOP. The Senate cleared the relief package on Monday by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it 359-53. Those vote totals would be enough to override a veto should Trump decide to take that step. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., helped negotiate the year-end deal, a prized bipartisan compromise that won sweeping approval in the House and Senate after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin boasted that the $600 checks all sides had agreed to for Americans would in the mail in a week. Democrats will recall House lawmakers to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s proposal, with a roll call that would put all members on record as supporting or rejecting the $2,000 checks. They are also considering a Monday vote on a stop-gap measure to at least avert a federal shutdown, keeping the government running until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated next month. Even if the House is able to approve Trump’s $2,000 checks on Monday, that measure would likely die in the GOP-controlled Senate, which is due back in session on Tuesday.

Read more …

Larry doesn’t need $2,000, thank you very much.

Larry Summers: $2,000 Checks Could Overheat Economy, Even $600 Is Too Much (RT)

Larry Summers, a lead player in Democrat financial policies since the 1990s, triggered left-wing outrage by suggesting that sending Americans $2,000 stimulus checks amid the Covid-19 pandemic could cause the economy to overheat. “I’m not even sure I’m so enthusiastic about the $600 checks, and I think taking them to $2,000 would actually be a pretty serious mistake that would risk a temporary overheat,” Summers said Thursday in a Bloomberg TV interview. The former Harvard University president added that he would like to see more money allocated to bail out financially troubled local governments, but promoting consumer spending shouldn’t be a priority.

Summers made his comments as some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worked to increase payouts to consumers to $2,000, rather than the $600 called for in the latest Covid-19 relief legislation. President Donald Trump on Tuesday night called the current bill a “disgrace” and said stimulus checks should be $2,000. Conservative Republican Senator Josh Hawley and far-left Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders are among the proponents of larger payouts to Americans. “I have to say that when you see the two extremes agreeing, you can almost be certain that something crazy is in the air,” Summers said. “And so when I see a coalition of Josh Hawley, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump getting behind an idea, I think that’s time to run for cover.”

Summers was a World Bank economist before joining President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1993. He was named Clinton’s Treasury secretary in 1999, and he was director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama. “Careful everyone,” a self-described trade unionist tweeted. “This Clinton administration alumnus is worried that the inflation god is going to strike us down all of a sudden. Funny how austerity is firmly back on the Dem agenda immediately when one of them gets into office.”

Read more …

Trump gets criticized because he’s Trump.

Trump Granted Clemency Less Than Every President In Modern History Bar One (ZH)

Well this is going to break the mainstream media narrative… As Trump has pardoned some relatively high profile individuals such as Roger Stone, General Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort, the liberalati has got its gender-neutral panties in a bundle over these “digusting”, “corrupt”, “cronyism” actions. It turns out however that, even including the recent surge, PewResearch reports that Trump has used his clemency power less often than any president in modern history (apart from Bush Senior), according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. President Trump has granted clemency or pardoned 98 people in the last four years (76 pardons and 22 commutations). Obama, by comparison, granted clemency 1,927 times during his eight-year tenure, including 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations.

In terms of total executive clemency actions, Obama granted the most since Harry S. Truman The only modern president who granted clemency less frequently than Trump is George H.W. Bush, who granted 77 pardons and commutations in his single term. As PewResearch writes, clemency refers to multiple forms of presidential mercy. The two most common forms are pardons, which forgive past crimes and restore civil rights, and commutations, which completely or partially reduce sentences for those in prison or on community supervision. Two less-common forms are remissions, which reduce financial penalties associated with convictions, and respites, which are temporary reprieves that are usually granted to inmates for medical reasons.

The Justice Department’s statistics, it’s important to note, do not count clemency granted through proclamation or executive order, such as the actions taken by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to forgive thousands of Vietnam-era draft dodgers. The DOJ numbers also count some clemency recipients twice – for example, in cases where someone received both a pardon and a commutation. While rare so far, Trump’s use of presidential clemency has caused controversy because of the nature of his pardons and commutations. Many of Trump’s clemency recipients have had a “personal or political connection to the president,” according to a July analysis by the Lawfare blog, and he has often circumvented the formal process through which clemency requests are typically considered.

But Trump is far from the only president who has faced scrutiny over his use of clemency. Obama’s frequent use of commutations, particularly for prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes, prompted criticism from Republicans, who said it benefited “an entire class of offenders” and infringed on the “lawmaking authority” of the legislative branch. And President Bill Clinton drew bipartisan condemnation for pardoning a fugitive commodities trader, Marc Rich, on his last day in office in 2001.

Read more …

“..with the rate rising significantly in the sectors of food service (41.7%) and retail commerce (34%).”

One In Four Greek Companies Say They May Have Shut Down For Good (K.)

About one in four enterprises (23%) is contemplating the possibility of not reopening after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, with the rate rising significantly in the sectors of food service (41.7%) and retail commerce (34%). This is according to a survey by Opinion Poll for the Athens Professional Chamber (EEA) on December 14-18 on a sample of 1,002 chamber members. Even if they do not decide to shut down for good, a large section of enterprises say they will resort to layoffs: Almost a quarter of companies (24%) say this is a likely or very likely prospect, rising to 49.5% of enterprises in food service. In commerce, the sector that accounts for the highest share of employment in Greece, the rate comes to 22.7%.

The survey has found that the rate of intended layoffs is much higher among enterprises employing more than five people. Therefore 39.8% of companies with six to 10 workers intend to lay off staff, with the rate rising to 41.6% among those with 11-20 people and coming to 40.4% among enterprises with over 20 employees. If these intentions turn into action after the lockdown, they will send unemployment soaring. They stem from the high degree of pessimism among businesses, especially after the start of the second lockdown. One in four companies believe the economic crisis due to the pandemic will last more than two years, and another 27% think it will take a couple of years before normality returns.

Some 34% of corporations expect the crisis to last another year and only 11% are more optimistic, saying the crisis will be over in some six months. “According to our own estimates, one in three enterprises may have opened for the last time and never reopen,” Giorgos Kavvathas, president of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), told Kathimerini. He added that the food service sector he also heads mostly considers that next year will be lost too, as unlike in the financial crisis of the 2010s, tourism will not come to the rescue.

Read more …

Twitter won’t silence WSJ.

How Hunter Biden Allegedly Traded On Family Name, Influence (ZH)

Just days after outgoing AG William Barr said there is “no need” to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden despite revelations about a federal criminal investigation into Biden’s business conduct, we’re seeing the latest “scoop” about the younger Biden’s alleged misdeeds. In a lengthy investigative report, the WSJ has reportedly confirmed that the younger Biden traded on his purported influence and family ties during his business dealings in Ukraine and China (along with his conduct at home in his personal life, where he has seemingly careened from one disaster to the next) to enrich himself – and, importantly, his family as well. Importantly, in the story, WSJ explicitly notes that “none of the Journal’s reporting found that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s activities, which mostly took place around the time Obama’s second term was wrapping up.”

Our initial reaction: Of course it wouldn’t. But that doesn’t matter so much right now: What this shows is that the federal agents leading the “criminal tax probe” into the younger Biden are looking into how influence peddling and the Biden family name played into this, which could be very, very bad for Hunter’s father, and the Democrats. But the fact that WSJ is reporting and seemingly confirming that the younger Biden benefited ‘because of his last name and connections’ still has significance. Even though it shares an owner with Fox News, WSJ, with its closet full of Pulitzers, is still “respected” by the mainstream press.

Through reportedly talking with people familiar with Biden’s business dealings, WSJ managed to confirm various that the younger Biden received a discounted stake in a Chinese PE firm that was at the center of the NY Post’s reporting, along with consulting arrangements with a Romanian property magnate which “overall allowed him to maintain a globe-trotting lifestyle, according to interviews, documents and communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.” It even confirmed that Biden receiving a 2.8-carat diamond from a Chinese energy tycoon that has reportedly found its way to the center of the federal investigation into the president’s sons actions. Most of the details were clearly leaked to WSJ by Senate Republicans. But the takeaway here is pretty clear: even if the information is being used for political purposes, the investigation into Biden holds water. After all, federal investigations aren’t opened up for nothing.

By now, as Trump continues with his wave of pardons (he has of course pardoned far fewer people than his predecessor, even adjusted for his shorter time in the saddle), the GOP is ensuring that the investigation into Hunter Biden will be as fraught with leaks and bombshells and “scoops” as any other high profile investigation, including – most obviously – the Mueller probe. Social media could block out the NY Post, but they couldn’t block out WSJ. Though the story wasn’t widely covered, now that WSJ has “moved” on it, how much longer can its rivals – even WaPo and NYT – keep this from becoming an “essential” story after inauguration day. Otherwise, they will lose what little credibility they have left, as critics challenge the press to step up and hold Biden “accountable” like they did Trump.

There also might be an element of payback at play here, as WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch seeks to get back in Trump’s good graces after the president sicced his legions of loyal followers on Fox News, threatening its fat profit margins. Either way, one thing is clear: Leaks like this aren’t going to stop.

Read more …

“..tate officials are likely to use the prospect as leverage in negotiations to force the search giant to accept a breakup…”

Google Could Face Trillions In Fines In Texas Antitrust Suit (Pol.)

Move over, Europe. Tucked in near the end of the 130-page antitrust lawsuit Texas filed against Google last week are claims that could force the search giant to pay out trillions of dollars in damages, dwarfing previous levies against the company. That would be a serious blow even to a company as large as Google, with its $1.16 trillion market cap. And it gives the states additional leverage to push for the company to agree to a breakup, perhaps in exchange for reduced fines. The lawsuit, which also includes eight other states, accuses Google of rigging online ad auctions to increase its own profits at the expense of website publishers, who have struggled to make the same kind of money from web ads as from television, print and radio.

The states have asked the court to force the company to sell off pieces of its business to take away its power to control such auctions. But there are other allegations that could cut Google even more deeply. Texas also alleges that Google violated state laws that forbid unfair or deceptive business practices — laws that mandate steep fines for each violation. The attorneys general plan to argue that every online bid allegedly manipulated by Google violates state laws, which would lead to a massive pileup of fines. “The potential for the lawsuit is in the trillions of dollars,” said Joe Crews, who served in the Texas attorney general’s office in the 1990s and now has his own firm in Austin. “This is something they are going to have to pay attention to and they are going to have to commit resources to. Even if Google ultimately prevails it’s still going to cost them a whole ton of money.”

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the potential fines, pointing to the company’s statement when the suit was filed calling it “meritless.” The states have used these laws to force major companies to pay out large sums of money in the past. Last month, Apple agreed to pay $113 million to 34 states for slowing down the batteries in older iPhones. Credit reporting agency Equifax paid $175 million to the states as part of a settlement into its 2017 data breach. In Europe, Google has already paid more than $9 billion in fines for violating competition rules. But those penalties are widely considered failures that didn’t result in any long-term changes to Google’s behavior. But the prospect of fines substantially in excess of Google’s $160 billion in annual revenue might have a bigger deterrent effect, individuals close to the case said.

Antitrust experts say the likelihood Google has to shell out trillions in cash is minimal, but state officials are likely to use the prospect as leverage in negotiations to force the search giant to accept a breakup.

Read more …

“..more than half the time we’re showing ads to someone other than the advertisers’ intended audience..”

Facebook Managers Trash Their Own Ad Targeting In Unsealed Remarks (IC)

Facebook is currently waging a PR campaign purporting to show that Apple is seriously injuring American small businesses through its iOS privacy features. But at the same time, according to allegations in recently unsealed court documents, Facebook has been selling them ad targeting that is unreliable to the point of being fraudulent. The documents feature internal Facebook communications in which managers appear to admit to major flaws in ad targeting capabilities, including that ads reached the intended audience less than half of the time they were shown and that data behind a targeting criterion was “all crap.” Facebook says the material is presented out of context.

They emerged from a suit currently seeking class-action certification in federal court. The suit was filed by the owner of Investor Village, a small business that operates a message board on financial topics. Investor Village said in court filings that it decided to buy narrowly targeted Facebook ads because it hoped to reach “highly compensated and educated investors” but “had limited resources to spend on advertising.” But nearly 40 percent of the people who saw Investor Village’s ad either lacked a college degree, did not make $250,000 per year, or both, the company claims. In fact, not a single Facebook user it surveyed met all the targeting criteria it had set for Facebook ads, it says.

The complaint features Facebook documents indicating that the company knew its advertising capabilities were overhyped and underperformed. A “February 2016 internal memorandum” sent from an unnamed Facebook manager to Andrew Bosworth, a Zuckerberg confidant and powerful company executive who oversaw ad efforts at the time, reads, “[I]nterest precision in the US is only 41%—that means that more than half the time we’re showing ads to someone other than the advertisers’ intended audience. And it is even worse internationally. … We don’t feel we’re meeting advertisers’ interest accuracy expectations today.” The lawsuit goes on to quote unnamed “employees on Facebook’s ad team” discussing their targeting capabilities circa June 2016:

One engineer celebrated that detailed targeting accounted for “18% of total ads revenue,” and $14.8 million on June 17th alone. Using a smiley emoticon, an engineering manager responded, “Love this chart! Although if the most popular option is to combine interest and behavior, and we know for a fact our behavior is almost all crap, does this mean we are misleading advertiser [sic] a bit? :)” That manager proceeded to suggest further examination of top targeting criteria to “see if we are giving advertiser [sic] false hope.”

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Dec 182020
 


Egon Schiele Meadow, Church and Houses 1912

 

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines (G.)
“Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?”: Health Workers Balk At Vaccine (ZH)
How Virtual Learning Has Traumatized Their Children (DC)
WHO -Finally- Admits PCR Tests Create False Positives (OffG)
Joe Biden Calls His Son Hunter ‘The Smartest Man I Know’ (DC)
They Won’t Take “No” For An Answer (Ward)
Georgia Announces Signature Matching Review For Election Ballots (JTN)
Where Bill Barr Failed the President (ET)
Trump Takes Bipartisan Criticism For Silence On Massive Cyber Attack (F.)
Google Secretly Gave Facebook Perks, Data In Ad Deal: US States (R.)
Pentagon Training Equates Whistleblower Chelsea Manning With Terrorists (IC)
Q3 Share Buybacks Plunged 42% YoY, Big Banks Are Gone (WS)
Facebook To Require Masks In All Profile Pictures (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Awfully close to thought police. “Spreading lies about vaccines” here means “questioning vaccines”.

Twitter To Remove Tweets That Spread Lies About COVID Vaccines (G.)

Twitter will remove tweets that spread harmful misinformation, starting with the Covid-19 vaccine, the company has announced – and from 2021 it will begin to label tweets that push conspiracy theories. The move sees the company follow Facebook and YouTube in tightening up policies around the coronavirus vaccination as the rollout of the jab begins across the world. “Starting next week, we will prioritise the removal of the most harmful misleading information,” the US company said in a blogpost. “And during the coming weeks, we will begin to label tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines.”

Examples of posts that may be removed include false claims “that suggest immunisations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations”, and claims “that Covid-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary”. Tweets that do not reach the level of potential harm will not be removed, but may receive a label linking through to authoritative public health information, the company said. Examples of that sort of claim include unsubstantiated rumours, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines. The labelling will have a similar visual appearance to the company’s notorious labels about the US election, regularly placed on tweets from Donald Trump in which he falsely claimed victory in the US election.

Twitter said it would enforce the policy “using a combination of technology and human review”. Confusingly, the company has no way for users to report Covid misinformation, or misinformation about vaccines, despite the content being banned on the site. Instead, Twitter says users who think a particular tweet breaks the company’s rules on the topic should report it for any other offence – such as “threatening harm” – and use the text box to add that it is banned misinformation. The move comes two weeks after Facebook tightened its own policy about Covid vaccines. The larger social network will remove claims that rise to the level of imminent physical harm, as well as claims that have been debunked by public health experts, even if they do not reach that level. Chinese network TikTok has also strengthened its policies on vaccine misinformation, announcing on Tuesday that it has policies in place that prohibit misinformation “that could cause harm to an individual’s health or broader public safety”.

Tucker Don’t question the Coronavirus vaccine.

Read more …

“until I see that it’s actually safe for myself or my kids to take, I’m not going to take it.”

“Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?”: Health Workers Balk At Vaccine (ZH)

As tens of thousands of doses of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine make their way across the country, some health workers – first on the list to receive the two-stage jab – are leery of the emerging treatment which mainstream pundits warned would take a ‘miracle’ to produce before the end of the year. And while public concerns over the vaccine have eased compared to polling conducted before the November election, a not-insignificant number of health workers are unwilling to take the shot. Perhaps they’re concerned about taking the fastest vaccine developed in Western history, developed to treat a mysterious new virus which primarily kills the elderly (though can have lasting effects on people of all ages save for children).

As Bloomberg notes, the initial vaccines have few serious side effects (aside from a handful of serious allergic reactions), though nobody knows what long-term effects it has, if any. For example, nobody can possibly know what it does to a gestating fetus for nine months, or whether it affects fertility – yet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women take the vaccine. “At one Chicago hospital where the city’s first COVID-19 vaccine was administered on Tuesday, 40% of the staff said in a survey earlier this month that they would not take it. Sherrie Burch, 56, a ward clerk at Loretto, is baffled by how quickly the Covid-19 vaccine was developed, given how long medical developments typically take. And that makes her nervous.

“It just happened too fast for me,” Burch said, adding that her children, grandchildren and 76-year-old mother aren’t planning to get it either. “It’s the fear of the unknown.” Burch wants more details about the vaccine’s research and longer-term side effects. She plans to wait at least a couple of months to see how co-workers respond to the shot. Until then, she’ll keep masking, distancing and hand washing. Some nurses, respiratory therapists and technicians at Loretto also are opting out, said Nikhila Juvvadi, the hospital’s chief clinical officer who was the first person to administer the vaccine in Chicago. At a staff town-hall meeting on Wednesday, she explained the science of how the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine works.” -Bloomberg

In Maine, 40% of staff and 30% of residents at the state’s larger nursing homes won’t take the jab, according to an “informal discussion” conducted by the Maine Health Care Association. “Without official polling, it’s hard to know how accurate a picture this paints, and we fully expect these percentages to increase with greater education and awareness,” said the organization’s director of communications, Nadine Grosso. “Ultimately, we know that vaccination is key to safely reopening our long term care facilities.” And if these are all the people who will admit to refusing the vaccine, how many lied and said they will?

Still, some remain unpersuaded. Jonathan Damato, 41, a New York City paramedic for 21 years, is not an anti-vaxxer. He gets an annual flu shot, and he trusts the life-saving potential of vaccines against measles, mumps, polio. His station does about 50 or 60 Covid ambulance runs a week — people presenting high fevers and shortness of breath. “I know the virus is real,” said Damato, who has a 4-year-old son with health issues. But “until I see that it’s actually safe for myself or my kids to take, I’m not going to take it.” -Bloomberg In short, nobody wants to be a guinea pig.

Tucker Don’t question the Coronavirus vaccine. Part 2

Read more …

More reports coming out on this theme. Good. Don’t know that missed education is the big thing here, though. Missed social life might be bigger.

How Virtual Learning Has Traumatized Their Children (DC)

Data accumulated globally has shown that infections did not surge when schools reopened, and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said as much in late November when he called on schools to reopen. While many private schools have reopened completely or partially, some of the nation’s largest school districts are still closed. In Washington, D.C., the city’s teachers union rejected an agreement with the public school system to reopen campuses in November. In Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Topeka, San Diego and multiple other cities, districts put off their plans to reopen in mid-November and gave no set date for reopening.

Eileen, a Latin teacher at a Christian Classical school in Maryland, has been able to teach in her regular classroom since Sept. 3, when her school reopened with health and sanitation protocols implemented to prevent COVID-19 spread. Eileen’s 15-year-old daughter, who is a sophomore at a public school, has been learning virtually for 14 weeks. She goes to school with her mother once a week just to “be part of normal life,” Eileen tells the Caller. In an essay Eileen’s daughter wrote about her virtual learning experience, she describes the despondency and defeat students and teachers feel. In some classes, students mute their audio feature to hide the fact that they’re playing video games instead of paying attention.

Teachers have difficulty holding students accountable, making flouting the rules easier. Eileen’s daughter, an aspiring writer and accomplished student, also faces her own waning motivation. “Every minute I sit at my desk I am being erased. It started with one of my dimensions. Then my voice was replaced by the chat, my face with a logo, and my life with progress checks,” Eileen’s daughter writes. “Virtual school is not real school. They are not giving us an education. They are teaching us how to not get caught using google translate. They are teaching us which websites will do your algebra homework for you. And if the Board of Education doesn’t take my education seriously, then why should I?”

Read more …

“We have a vaccine now. We don’t need false positives anymore. Notionally, the system has produced its miracle cure.”

“all the PCR tests being done will be done “under the new WHO guidelines”, and running only 25-30 cycles instead of 35+. Lo and behold, the number of “positive cases” will plummet..”

WHO -Finally- Admits PCR Tests Create False Positives (OffG)

The World Health Organization released a guidance memo on December 14th, warning that high cycle thresholds on PCR tests will result in false positives. While this information is accurate, it has also been available for months, so we must ask: why are they reporting it now? Is it to make it appear the vaccine works? The “gold standard” Sars-Cov-2 tests are based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR works by taking nucleotides – tiny fragments of DNA or RNA – and replicating them until they become something large enough to identify. The replication is done in cycles, with each cycle doubling the amount of genetic material. The number of cycles it takes to produce something identifiable is known as the “cycle threshold” or “CT value”. The higher the CT value, the less likely you are to be detecting anything significant.

This new WHO memo states that using a high CT value to test for the presence of Sars-Cov-2 will result in false-positive results. To quote their own words [our emphasis]: “Users of RT-PCR reagents should read the IFU carefully to determine if manual adjustment of the PCR positivity threshold is necessary to account for any background noise which may lead to a specimen with a high cycle threshold (Ct) value result being interpreted as a positive result.” They go on to explain [again, our emphasis]: “The design principle of RT-PCR means that for patients with high levels of circulating virus (viral load), relatively few cycles will be needed to detect virus and so the Ct value will be low. Conversely, when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain.”

Of course, none of this is news to anyone who has been paying attention. That PCR tests were easily manipulated and potentially highly inaccurate has been one of the oft-repeated battle cries of those of us opposing the “pandemic” narrative, and the policies it’s being used to sell. Many articles have been written about it, by many experts in the field, medical journalists and other researchers. It’s been commonly available knowledge, for months now, that any test using a CT value over 35 is potentially meaningless. Dr Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the PCR process, was clear that it wasn’t meant as a diagnostic tool, saying: “..with PCR, if you do it well, you can find almost anything in anybody.” And, commenting on cycle thresholds, once said: “If you have to go more than 40 cycles to amplify a single-copy gene, there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.”

The MIQE guidelines for PCR use state: Cq values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” This has all been public knowledge since the beginning of the lockdown. The Australian government’s own website admitted the tests were flawed, and a court in Portugal ruled they were not fit for purpose. Even Dr Anthony Fauci has publicly admitted that a cycle threshold over 35 is going to be detecting “dead nucleotides”, not a living virus. Despite all this, it is known that many labs around the world have been using PCR tests with CT values over 35, even into the low 40s. So why has the WHO finally decided to say this is wrong? What reason could they have for finally choosing to recognise this simple reality?

The answer to that is potentially shockingly cynical: We have a vaccine now. We don’t need false positives anymore. Notionally, the system has produced its miracle cure. So, after everyone has been vaccinated, all the PCR tests being done will be done “under the new WHO guidelines”, and running only 25-30 cycles instead of 35+. Lo and behold, the number of “positive cases” will plummet, and we’ll have confirmation that our miracle vaccine works.

Read more …

“Joe Biden defends his son — who is under federal investigation, was kicked out of the Navy for cocaine, and was sued by a stripper for paternity — as “the smartest man I know.”

“It’s used to get to me. I think it’s kind of foul play, but, look, it is what it is. And he’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in a pure intellectual capacity.”

And boy, whatever happened to Stephen Colbert?

Joe Biden Calls His Son Hunter ‘The Smartest Man I Know’ (DC)

President-elect Joe Biden says he is “not concerned” about a federal investigation into his son, Hunter, and accused his opponents of weaponizing the probe for political points. Biden said that Hunter, who has been involved in a string of high-profile personal and business controversies in recent years, as “the smartest man I know.” Hunter Biden announced last Wednesday that he is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware over his “tax affairs.” A source familiar with the investigation told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the investigation began in 2018, before Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign.


The Associated Press reported that prosecutors subpoenaed Biden for his records with more than two dozen businesses, including companies in China and Ukraine. (RELATED: Joe Biden Says He Is ‘Confident’ His Son Did Nothing Wrong) Biden, who was interviewed by CBS’s Stephen Colbert, accused his political opponents of “foul play” by seizing on the investigation. “We have great confidence in our son. I am not concerned about any accusations made against him. It’s used to get to me,” Biden said in the interview, which he conducted with his wife Jill Biden at his side. “I think it’s kind of foul play,” said Biden, adding, “look, it is what it is.” “He’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in a pure intellectual capacity. And as long as he’s good, we’re good.”

Read more …

“The US Shadow State and its creatures are of the Soviet school of information: top-down tell, and censor the ‘show’ part.”

They Won’t Take “No” For An Answer (Ward)

There are many issues facing us today both personally and globally. But they all boil down to one thing: those who have captured power through either electoral desperation or corporacratic subterfuge simply will not take no for an answer. We must look beyond the issue to the principle, and learn to say no in a forcefully peaceful and organised manner. It does seem eternally odd, does it not, that the US judicial system seems happy to throw out Republican affidavits giving evidence of electoral fraud, but at the same time the US has a media set that suffixes every report on what President Trump says about it with “although he has no evidence to support his claims”….and the world anglosphere falls lamely into line.

It is truly Pythonic, with just a dash of Catch22: “We’re not going to review these affidavits because they’re worthless,” said the Ostriches, “so will you stop saying you were cheated, because you haven’t got any evidence – we know this, because we don’t need to look at it”. My view is simple: it is entirely possible that Trump is lying his fat head off. But the common sense rejoinder to that pov is: 1) Why press ahead so vigorously with a case if (privately) you know it to be BS? And 2) If you the State know it to be BS, why not investigate every affidavit thoroughly and enumerate their lack of worth instance by instance? In short, we have a plaintiff behaving like a guy who’s done his homework, and the State dismissing everything out of hand for fear of finding magic bullets flying backwards, and Presidential Heads exploding in the wrong direction.

Show not tell: it’s an old adage, but still universally applicable. The ‘Tell’ approach: “Laugh at me because believe me, I’m funny….boy, am I funny”. The ‘Show’ approach: Tell a very funny joke with timing and élan. The US Shadow State and its creatures are of the Soviet school of information: top-down tell, and censor the ‘show’ part. When it doesn’t convince, smear the doubters as ill-educated, delusional and deviant.

Read more …

“After the third and final recount, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2%.”

Georgia Announces Signature Matching Review For Election Ballots (JTN)

After three recounts, Georgia certified the 2020 presidential election. But on Thursday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a statewide move to match signatures to their absentee ballots in all 159 counties in the state. The announcement comes just weeks before two Georgia Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the Senate. Raffensperger announced that the signature matching will be done in partnership with the University of Georgia. The study will review a random sample of signatures for mail-in ballots that were cast in the presidential election. “We are confident that elections in Georgia are secure, reliable and effective,” Raffensperger said.


“Despite endless lawsuits and wild allegations from Washington, D.C., pundits, we have seen no actual evidence of widespread voter fraud, though we are investigating all credible reports. Nonetheless, we look forward to working with the University of Georgia on this signature match review to further instill confidence in Georgia’s voting systems,” he also said. Earlier this week, Georgia officials announced an audit of signatures for mail-in ballots in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta. The Trump campaign claimed that Cobb County did not properly conduct signature match in June,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state. “After the countywide audit, we will look at the entire state. We will look at the entire election to make sure signature match was executed properly.” After the third and final recount, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2%.

Read more …

The Durham probe comes to mind. Where is it?

Where Bill Barr Failed the President (ET)

Barr’s most significant achievement during his tenure was perhaps his role in the final stages of the Mueller investigation, leading to his joint conclusion with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein that evidence compiled by Robert Mueller failed to establish that the president had obstructed justice. But a series of curious missteps then followed. The investigation being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Huber disappeared entirely, although a portion of that investigation may have been folded into U.S. Attorney John Durham’s still ongoing investigation. Durham was appointed as special counsel by Barr, but reports indicate that Durham’s investigative scope has been narrowed, and the investigation’s long-promised results remain delayed.

Trump found himself impeached by the House in December 2019, despite evidence within the DOJ that might have prevented the politically driven result. Indeed, it now appears that Trump may have been impeached for making inquiries into the very crimes for which Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, is now formally under investigation. Said differently, Trump may have effectively been impeached for being right about Biden. To date, only one person has been formally charged from the multi-year probe into the FBI’s handling of their investigation of the Trump campaign. Although two FISA warrants on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were deemed as invalid—and thus illegal—there have been no prosecutions or convictions of high-level individuals involved in the surveillance conducted on members of the Trump campaign.

Barr remained concerned, perhaps rightly, about exhibiting any overt signs of interference in the 2020 presidential election. Unfortunately, while he studiously avoided disclosing any evidence regarding the Hunter Biden investigation, so did the mainstream media. The impact of the general public’s lack of knowledge on this matter may have been material to the election outcome. Barr also made what might generously be termed a material strategic error by speaking with The Associated Press in the weeks following the election. Barr’s comments that the DOJ had yet to uncover fraud on a level sufficient to affect the outcome of the election reverberated throughout the nation and caused material damage to the case being made by the president’s lawyers. Why Barr would choose to speak to the media, let alone the AP, at this critical juncture in post-election events remains unknown.

Barr, no political novice, has more than enough political acumen to comprehend the manner in which his comments would be interpreted and relayed to a nation in post-election turmoil. That he apparently held the belief there was no material evidence of election fraud strikes many who have been wading through court evidence for weeks as curious. Durham’s efforts may yet produce tangible results, but nearly four years of investigation has surely been long enough to bring forth something material. With each passing month, the lack of tangible results has allowed for unspoken discrediting of the president’s claims. And with the possibility of a politically motivated Biden administration, concerns over potential interference in Durham’s results—special counsel status notwithstanding—are valid.

Read more …

In case you didn’t notice: the neocons won. So Russiagate is alive and kicking.

Trump Takes Bipartisan Criticism For Silence On Massive Cyber Attack (F.)

President Donald Trump is taking heat from members of Congress in both parties in recent days for his continued silence on a massive cybersecurity breach linked to Russia, even as the president’s own officials say the U.S. is highly vulnerable to further attacks. Through a weakness in software from SolarWinds Orion, an IT firm that services numerous U.S. government agencies, hackers – that U.S. officials say are tied to Russia – were reportedly able to infiltrate the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the National Institutes of Health and various other departments. Democrats have been vocal about the breach and critical of the president’s actions, with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noting the president fired Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) head Chris Krebs for debunking his election fraud conspiracy theories just one month before the attack occurred.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) called Trump’s silence “unacceptable,” adding, “For 4 years, Congress has been urging him to take Russian threats seriously,” while Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) suggested the silence is because Trump has “cozied up to” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of Trump’s most prolific Republican detractors, compared the breach to “Russian bombers… repeatedly flying over our entire country,” and slammed the “inexcusable silence and inaction from the White House.” Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) was critical of Trump’s silence as well, alleging a “leadership vacuum” in the administration and telling Forbes that Trump’s reticence to weigh in is because doing so “could highlight his firings” of cybersecurity, defense and intelligence officials in recent weeks.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and outgoing Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) both took aim at Trump for his threat to veto a defense bill that includes cyber protections and would create a National Cyber Security Director, with Hurd adding, “We need to find the inaugural director ASAP because he/she is going to have a full plate on day one.” “No statement, no tweet, nothing from [Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)] on Russia hack of Federal agencies,” tweeted Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell (D-Fla.), echoing Democrats who have alleged not just Trump, but many Republicans in Congress have shied away from weighing in on the hack. “As Chair of Senate Intelligence his silence=complicity,” she added. “CISA has determined that this threat poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

Read more …

Is this even illegal?

Google Secretly Gave Facebook Perks, Data In Ad Deal: US States (R.)

Facebook Inc and Alphabet’s Google, the two biggest players in online advertising, used a series of deals to consolidate their market power illegally, Texas and nine other states alleged in a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday. Google and Facebook compete heavily in internet ad sales, together capturing over half of the market globally. The two players agreed in a publicized deal in 2018 to start giving Facebook’s advertiser clients the option to place ads within Google’s network of publishing partners, the complaint alleged. Executives at the highest level of the companies signed off on the deal, according to the complaint. For example, a sneaker blog that uses software from Google to sell ads could end up generating revenue from a footwear retailer that bought ads on Facebook.

Google reached similar partnerships with other advertising companies as part of an effort to maintain market share that was internally codenamed Project Jedi, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. But what Google did not announce publicly is that it gave Facebook preferential treatment, the complaint alleged. Facebook agreed to back down from supporting competing software, which publishers had developed to dent Google’s market power, the complaint said. “Facebook decided to dangle the threat of competition in Google’s face and then cut a deal to manipulate the auction,” it said, citing internal communications. In exchange, the states said, Facebook received various benefits, including access to Google data and policy exceptions that enabled its clients to unfairly get more ads placed than clients of other Google partners could.

[..] The complaint also alleged that Google and Facebook engaged in fixing prices of ads and have continued to cooperate, though the section was heavily redacted and left it unclear just how and when the companies allegedly used their “market allocation agreement.” However, it said that “given the scope and extensive nature of cooperation between the two companies, Google and Facebook were highly aware that their agreement could trigger antitrust violations. The two companies discussed, negotiated, and memorialized how they would cooperate with one another.”

Read more …

The Pentagon needs enemies.

Pentagon Training Equates Whistleblower Chelsea Manning With Terrorists (IC)

In the decade since her historic transfer of secret military and diplomatic materials to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning has consistently and across party lines been condemned as a traitor. Less common, and absent entirely from the government’s efforts to imprison her, are allegations that her leak was an act of terrorism. But anti-terrorism training materials obtained by The Intercept show that the Pentagon is teaching defense workers exactly that. Both civilian contractors and enlisted personnel are commonly required to complete JS-US007, a Pentagon course designed to “increase your awareness of terrorism and to improve your ability to apply personal protective measures,” according to Joint Knowledge Online, a Department of Defense education portal. JS-US007 covers a variety of grimly serious topics, from detecting roadside bombs to surviving active shooter scenarios and skyjackings.

The training also covers so-called insider threat attacks, acts of terroristic violence in which members of a group strike the group itself, like the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 individuals on the base, wounding 30 more. The Department of Homeland Security defines insider threat terrorism as “an unlawful use of force and violence by employees or others closely associated with organizations, against those organizations to promote a political or social objective.” Other definitions may differ on technicalities, but like other acts of terrorism, the unifying theme is the violence of the acts.

But unclassified JS-US007 materials obtained by The Intercept show that the Pentagon’s anti-terrorism trainees are learning a far broader definition of terrorism, one that includes the entirely nonviolent acts of Manning. On a slide listing “Examples of attacks by individuals thought to be loyal to the US,” Manning’s “2010 leaking of over 500,000 documents concerning operations in Iraq and Afghanistan” is listed first, followed by three examples of murder: the “2009 active shooter attack at Fort Hood,” the “2003 active shooter attack at Camp Pennsylvania,” and the “2001 anthrax attacks against Government facilities” that closely followed the attacks of September 11. Another slide in the presentation lists Manning’s alleged “anti-American statements” as a “pre-attack indicator.”

Read more …

“..down 54% from peak share-buyback mania in Q4 2018..”

Q3 Share Buybacks Plunged 42% YoY, Big Banks Are Gone (WS)

The big four banks are out. And other companies are out. But Big Tech is in, as big as ever, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, after pooh-poohing share buybacks for years, is now the second largest share buyback queen. In the third quarter 2020, companies in the S&P 500 Index bought back $101.8 billion of their own shares, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices this morning. While this still sounds like a lot of share buybacks, it’s down 42% from Q3 last year, and down 54% from peak share-buyback mania in Q4 2018 following the corporate tax cuts:

Since the beginning of 2012, the S&P 500 companies have bought back nearly $5 trillion of their own shares. How much is $5 trillion? It’s nearly one-quarter of US 12-month GDP in current dollars. It’s about equal to the amount by which the US government debt has exploded over the past 12 months. These $5 trillion could have been invested in expansion projects in the US, and in labor, and in training, or God forbid, in reducing the debt that Corporate America has loaded up on in a historic manner.

[..] Corporate debt levels have been showing up in the Fed’s Financial Stability Reports. The corporate “debt overhang,” as the Fed calls it, frazzled Fed researchers in 2019 and it is now again cropping up in Fed research papers, including by the New York Fed a few days ago. “We find that the economic costs of corporate debt booms rise when inefficient debt restructuring and liquidation impede the resolution of corporate financial distress and make it more likely that corporate zombies creep along,” summarize the researchers at the New York Fed. It was another research paper duly ignored by Fed Chair Powell.


Last year, the four big banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup – occupied the #2, #3, #4, and #7 spots on the Top 20 list of our share buyback queens. Now they’re gone from the list, having been told by regulators to stop share buybacks to preserve capital to absorb the coming losses from the Crisis. Big Tech and, ironically, Warren Buffett dominate the list. Apple retains its top spot with $17.6 billion in share buybacks in Q3, bringing the 12-month total to $76 billion.

Read more …

I don’t normally include 4-month old articles in Debt Rattles, but this could just as well be from today.

Facebook To Require Masks In All Profile Pictures (BBee)

Facebook confirmed today that to prevent the spread of coronavirus and promote a safe space to virtue-signal, masks will be required on all profile pictures going forward. If you log in to Facebook you will be prompted to change your profile picture to one where you are wearing a mask. If you don’t have a mask, Facebook offers digital mask filters to give the appearance that you’re wearing one. Those who refuse the mask will be asked to delete their accounts.


“This is an issue of public safety,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “We were seeing people just commenting on things and posting memes and stuff while their face was clearly visible. The CDC currently says that masks are good, and therefore, you must wear a mask.” An assistant then whispered in Zuckerberg’s ear. “Oh, uh, this just in: the CDC now says that masks are bad. So we’ll take this all back.” But, before he could reverse the mask order, the CDC issued another update saying that masks were good again. “Anyway, yes, a mask for everyone. It’s a small thing to do to make everyone feel safe.”

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

UK MPs ask for a meeting with Assange.

 

 

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

 

Oct 212020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1972

 

‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)
Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)
Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)
10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)
Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)
Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)
Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)
US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)
No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)
DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)
Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)
Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)
Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)
Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)
Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)
Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)

 

 

It’s Hunter season.

 

 

 

 

I think Tyler has the timeline a bit wrong. Tucker didn’t say this “Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials'”, he said it on October 16 (maybe even 15?!) , and the letter was published the 19th.

‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)

Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ who say the Hunter Biden laptop scandal “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” – providing “no new evidence,” while they remain “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case,” Tucker Carlson obliterated their (literal) conspiracy theory. According to the Fox News host, he’s seen ‘nonpublic information that proves it was Hunter’s laptop,’ adding “No one but Hunter could’ve known about or replicated this information.” “This is not a Russian hoax. We are not speculating.”

Meanwhile, the Delaware computer repair shop owner who believes Hunter dropped off three MacBook Pros for data recovery has a signed work order bearing Hunter’s signature. When compared to the signature on a document in his paternity suit, while one looks more formal than the other, they are a match. Going back to the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ and their latest Russia fixation, one has to wonder – do they think Putin was able to compromise Biden’s former business associate, Bevan Cooney, who gave investigative journalist Peter Schweizer his gmail password – revealing that Hunter and his partners were engaged in an influence-peddling operation for rich Chinese who wanted access to the Obama administration?


Did Putin further hack Joe Biden in 2011 to make him take a meeting with a Chinese delegation with ties to the CCP – arranged by Hunter’s group, two years they secured a massive investment of Chinese money? The implications boggle the mind. Here’s the clarifying sentences from the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ that exposes the utter farce of it all: “While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”

Read more …

A 14-year old relative. Most damning is that Joe knew about it.

Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)

Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s private attorneys, has reported to Delaware police concerns that materials on a laptop purportedly tied to Hunter Biden contained evidence of possible child endangerment. Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, confirmed Tuesday night he went Monday to a local police department in Wilmington to report his concerns of children endangerment and sexual exploitation. Giuliani told Just the News that former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik joined him when he delivered photographs and text messages to the New Castle County Police Department. “I told them other details about what appears to be an inappropriate sexual relationship,” he said in an interview. “They told me it would be investigated.”

Law enforcement officials in Delaware told Just the News that Giuliani’s concerns have been forwarded to the state Department of Justice. A spokesman for New Castle County police referred reporters to the state Justice Department. A spokesman for the state agency did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment. A senior federal law enforcement official told Just the News on Tuesday night that the FBI is in possession of the laptop and that the bureau concurs with Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s assessment that the laptop is not part of Russian intelligence operation, as some Democrats have alleged. That official declined to discuss the contents of the laptop.

[..] Giuliani said the materials he gleaned from the controversial laptop — which a Delaware computer shop owner alleges was left with him by Hunter Biden — gave him concern for the welfare of a minor girl. Giuliani declined to identify the alleged minor victim or who was in the photos. “There are many texts which I gave to them that point out that family was concerned about the safety of the child,” Giuliani said. “I will tell you the evidence I gave them states it was reported to Joe Biden. What did he do about it?“Giuliani dismissed suggestions that filing a police report as Trump’s private attorney two weeks before Election Day should be deemed political. “The conduct falls under the mandatory reporting requirements for child endangerment,” Giuliani said. “If I was the U.S. attorney or the mayor or Bernie was still the commissioner, it would have been a crime for us not to report what we had.”

Giuliani

Read more …

After they’ve had it for a year?! Yeah, that should work…

What the FBI is investigating is not the contents of the emails, but the RussiaRussia claims the Dems launched.

Is Giuliani’s report now also with the FBI?

Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)

The Delaware state police have passed on an inquiry concerning the laptop purportedly belonging to Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to the FBI.On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Newsmax that he handed over the laptop that he claims belongs to Hunter Biden to the Delaware state police on Monday. “In light of ongoing questions about the credibility of these claims and multiple reports that the FBI is investigating their veracity, law enforcement is referring this matter to the FBI,” a Delaware State Police spokesperson told Newsweek. The Delaware State Police also confirmed that they are not in possession of the laptop.


Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused each other of politicizing intelligence on Monday over emails allegedly found on the laptop. More than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter on Monday detailing their belief that the laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” After Schiff called revelations stemming from the laptop a Kremlin “smear” campaign, Ratcliffe on Monday insisted that the laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”

Read more …

Some good points.

10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)

1. Pennsylvania Voter Registration. American presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College as President Trump and Joe Biden both know. In 2016, Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes were key to President Trump’s victory. He won Pennsylvania by a slim 44,292 votes out of nearly 6 million. That November, the Democrats had nearly a 900,000 voter registration advantage over the Republicans. That number is now down to a 700,000 registration advantage and has narrowed to 100,000 in the last year.

2. Florida, too. In 2008, Democrats held nearly a 700,000 thousand voter registration advantage and Barack Obama carried the state by 236,148 votes. By 2012 that advantage slipped to 558,272 registrations and Obama won there by 74,309 votes. In 2016, Democrats had a 327,483 registration advantage and Trump carried the state by 112,991 votes. Now the Democrats’ voter registration advantage is down nearly 200,000 to just a 134,242 thousand lead, which Politico called a “historic low.”

3. Latinos for Trump. Trump could well receive a historic level of support from Latino Voters in 2020. In Florida, a NBC/Marist poll had Trump leading among Latinos 50% to 46% over Biden, whereas, in 2016, Hillary won among Latinos in Florida 62% to 35%. That would be a 15% swing toward Trump if it held up on Election Day. After the first debate between Biden and Trump, a Telemundo poll showed Trump winning the debate overwhelmingly 66% to 34%. Snap media polls tend to reflect the sentiment of their viewers. Thus, it is no surprise that CNN viewers said Biden won the debate. The fact that Telemundo viewers decisively picked Trump as the winner, along with polls like those cited above in Florida, portend Trump getting the highest ever Latino support of any Republican presidential candidate.

4. African Americans For Trump. In September, according to polling done by Rasmussen, Trump’s approval rating among African Americans reached 45%. Keep in mind that President Trump only received 8% of the Black vote in 2016. If Trump received just 16% of the Black vote this November, let alone an even higher number, that would all but secure states like Michigan for Trump.

5. Biden the Tax Increaser. Candidates who promise tax increases, or have a history of supporting tax increases, tend to lose versus those pushing for tax cuts. President Jimmy Carter lost to challenger Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale lost to President Reagan, Michael Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush 41 and then 41 lost his reelection after his tax increase became a reality. George W. Bush beat Al Gore and then John Kerry. Barack Obama promised to reduce taxes and he beat John McCain who was not a tax cutter. Obviously, President Trump offered tax cuts while running against, and beating, Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is pushing for the largest tax increase in history.

6. Enthusiasm Matters. As the New York Post has reported, “just 46 percent of Biden voters in a recent Pew poll said that they strongly support him, compared to 66 percent of Trump’s base.” That is a 20 gap. In 2016, Trump had only a 13 point gap over Hillary. That increase of 7% bodes well for Trump, not Biden.

7. Early Voting in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. National polling from Pew Research indicates that “55% of voters who plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day support Biden, compared to 40% who support President Trump.” However, in the key battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin the early voting indicates that “registered Republicans are returning ballots at about the same rate as registered Democrats.” The parties are even in Michigan, Democrats up 2% in Wisconsin and the Republicans up 2% in Ohio.

8. American Voters Are More Satisfied in 2020 than they were in 2016. A new Gallup poll shows that 56% of Americans say they are better off now than they were four years ago. That could well be the telling in this case given that just four years ago marked the end of the Biden vice presidency. Why would voters return to Biden if they are happier now than when he was in office?

9. Party Identification. According to Gallup, by the end of September, when the polling firm asked voters this question, “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent?” the answer came back as follows: 28% said Republican, 27% said Democrat and 42% said independent. That is meaningful because many of the polls giving Biden the lead appear to be sampling more Democrats than Republicans – sometimes by a wide margin. Also, in 2016, Gallup had Democrats up 32% to 27% but, as we know, Trump still won.

10. Voters Think Trump Will Win. In the Trump era, there has been a lot of talk about whether Trump supporters feel free to tell pollsters that they are supporting the president’s reelection. Some experts point to polls asking voters who they believe will win the election to be a truer indication of candidate support. Once again this bodes well for President Trump as a “Gallup poll shows only 40% of Americans think Biden will win the election; 56% predict a Trump victory.”

Read more …

Good comparison.

Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)

Donald Trump has compared Rep. Adam Schiff’s claim that Hunter Biden’s alleged leaked emails are part of a Russian disinformation plot to Hillary Clinton calling Democrat Tulsi Gabbard a “Russian asset” similarly without evidence.During a Tuesday Fox News interview, Trump addressed Schiff’s evidence-free claim that the Hunter Biden email leaks, which detail his alleged dealings in Ukraine and China, were coming “from the Kremlin.” The leaks were published by the New York Post last week. “It’s just crazy,” Trump said of the theory, referring to the Democratic congressman as “Shifty Schiff” and a “sick” man, who was purposefully obfuscating the issue.


“Thank god we have John Ratcliffe,” Trump added, pointing out that the director of national intelligence refuted the speculation on Monday. During his own sit down with Fox, DNI Ratcliffe said that there was “no intelligence” to support Schiff’s position, and accused the politician of “politicizing” intelligence. The president recalled similar accusations made by his failed 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, who previously implied that the Green Party’s former nominee Jill Stein and Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard were “Russian assets.” “This was like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein, when Hillary Clinton said it about them… that they were agents of Russia,” Trump noted, adding, “They were not agents of Russia, they never spoke to anybody from Russia.”

Read more …

13 days left to go.

Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)

Secret Service logs obtained earlier this year by Senate investigators include dates and locations matching those discussed in the emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.The alignment of the dates in the emails and the Secret Service protective detail logs is significant because the authenticity of the emails, first published by the New York Post last week, is the subject of heated debate. The FBI, which purportedly obtained Hunter Biden’s laptop in December last year, has not yet officially confirmed that it is in possession of the device and whether the emails are genuine.

In one alleged email, written after midnight on April 13, 2014, Hunter Biden wrote to Devon Archer, his business partner, that he will be traveling to Houston the next day. Secret Service logs obtained by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs show a trip by Biden on April 13-14, 2014. In another alleged email, Vadim Pozharskyi, a top executive from Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, wrote to Biden and Archer on May 12, 2014: “Following our talks during the visit to the Como Lake and our further discussions, I would like to bring the following situation to your attention.” While the email doesn’t cite a date for the trip, Secret Service logs include a travel entry for Biden on April 3-6, 2014.

In another alleged email, Archer wrote on May 12, 2014, that he is with Biden in Doha, Qatar. Secret Service records include a trip by Biden to Doha, Qatar, on May 11-14, 2014. The alignment in dates and location was first spotted by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees. Notably, some of the alleged Hunter Biden emails included discussions of Biden’s travel after he allegedly declined a Secret Service detail. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) penned a letter to the director of the Secret Service on Oct. 20 asking for records after the date when Biden purportedly stopped receiving a Secret Service detail.

Read more …

And associates.

Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)

In November 2011, an elite group of Chinese Communist Party members and billionaire cronies of the repressive regime in Beijing secured a meeting in the White House, said to be with Vice President Biden and other Obama administration officials, through Hunter Biden’s associates. News of the meeting has been broken by Peter Schweizer and Seamus Bruner. Schweizer, who has spent years tracking Washington’s web of money, influence and access, is the author most recently of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, which focuses on the Biden family — among other intriguing money trails on both sides of the political aisle. Schweizer and Bruner have obtained the cooperation of Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Bevan Cooney, who is serving a federal prison sentence for a fraud scheme.

Another Hunter Biden business partner, Devon Archer, was also convicted (and has had his conviction reinstated by the Second Circuit federal appeals court after a trial judge in the Southern District of New York set it aside). Hunter Biden was featured in the evidence but not charged. Cooney has given the investigative journalists access to his email account, which contains years of correspondence with Biden, Archer, and others. The authors have begun writing reports published at Breitbart, and Schweizer has also been interviewed about it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. Obviously, those are very pro-Trump venues, so it is worth noting that solid reporting Schweizer did on the Clinton Foundation (the subject of his book Clinton Cash) was closely examined and relied on by the New York Times.

[..] Based on Cooney’s emails, the authors report that in November 2011, Hunter Biden’s business associates arranged meetings at the Obama White House for a delegation of the “China Entrepreneur Club.” Established in 2006, the CEC is led by high officials of the Chinese Communist Party, some government officials (including diplomats), and billionaire business executives with close ties to the regime. This visit to the White House is said to have included a meeting with then–Vice President Biden. In discussions among themselves, Hunter Biden’s associates reportedly made it clear that they anticipated cashing in on business prospects that were expected to arise from providing the Chinese contingent with high-level access to the Obama administration.

Read more …

Balding

US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)

American Universities failed to report $6.5 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, an investigation by the Department of Education found. Federal law requires schools to disclose substantial foreign gifts and contracts to the Department of Education (DOE) twice a year. Many have for years failed to do so, while others severely underreported the income. The deluge of the financial disclosures poured in as the department opened investigations into 12 elite universities. Universities reported receiving a total of more than $19.6 billion in foreign gifts and contracts from 2014 to 2020, including nearly $1.5 billion from China, almost $3.1 billion from Qatar, and more than $1.1 billion from Saudi Arabia, according to historical DOE data and most recent figures posted on its new online reporting portal.

Carnegie Mellon University reported receiving almost $1.61 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, the most of any university. Harvard tops the list in terms of total funds received from China, reporting nearly $116 million. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled the findings of the investigation at an event on Oct. 20, alongside officials from the Justice Department and the State Department. “The threat is real, so we took action to make sure the public is afforded the transparency the law requires,” DeVos said. “We found pervasive noncompliance by higher-ed institutions and significant foreign entanglement with America’s colleges and universities.”

The vast majority of the foreign funds went to America’s largest and most prestigious universities, which have received billions of dollars through a bevy of intermediaries, according to a report released by the DOE on Oct. 20. All of the institutions involved are in the meantime dependent on tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer subsidies while operating largely “divorced from any sense of obligation to our taxpayers or concern for our American national interests, security, or values,” the DOE report states. For the first half of 2020 alone, U.S. universities retroactively reported $2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts. One school, which isn’t identified in the report, failed to report $760 million in foreign funding. University officials told the DOE they were “dumbfounded” by the reporting error. Another unnamed school failed to report $1.2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts.

Read more …

“82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that.”

No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)

One of the things that never fails to amaze me as a pollster is the absolute intensity that accompanies the final weeks of a presidential campaign. A poll I conducted recently for HealthInsurance.com found that 82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that. That’s what senior citizens are saying. These are voters who were around when the Berlin Wall went up and the Cold War was being fought in a space race. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Woodstock and Watergate were part of their life experience. And yet, now, they say this year — 2020 — is the most important presidential election of their lifetime.

Of course, you don’t need a poll to sense the intensity that some activists and voters bring to the election season. Supporters of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden regularly assert that the nation will never recover if the other side wins. Our democracy or our freedom will be lost. This shouldn’t surprise me. It happens every four years. But it catches me off guard because I don’t agree with the assessment. America will survive another four years of Donald Trump as president or the first four years of Joe Biden as president. There will be differences, of course, because elections matter. They have consequences. But it’s important to remember that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. They don’t determine the nation’s agenda or decide the fate of the nation.

The culture leads and the politicians lag behind. It’s also important to remember that American society isn’t nearly as polarized as American politics. That’s the good news. Still, it seems like a good time to review the data and assess where we are as Election 2020 draws to a close. The place to start is with a number that partisan activists find impossible to believe. My polling shows that 14% of voters — 1 out of 7 — are not fully certain how they will vote. That number includes some who currently support Trump or Biden but could change their mind. It also includes some who are currently leaning towards a third-party candidate. Historically, many such voters end up deciding at the last minute to reluctantly vote for one of the major party candidates. And, there are a few who just don’t like the choice before them.

In a sense, this group of uncommitted voters might best be described as voters who want both Trump and Biden to lose. While most are unlikely to change their mind, the possibility remains that something might happen to cause a late break in either direction. As a result, with two weeks to go, it’s best to consider a range of possibilities. Biden and the Democrats are ahead at the moment, but victory is not assured. I’ll start with the best-case scenario for the Republicans. If the race gets a bit tighter, Election 2020 will be a toss-up with the presidency determined by a few key states — places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It will seem like four years ago with one big exception: This time around, extensive mail-in voting means we wouldn’t know the winner for weeks. And, we also wouldn’t know who controls the Senate, the results in a couple dozen House races, and who has control of a few state legislatures.

Read more …

I thought they would only agree on going to war.

DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)

Lawmakers in the House and Senate praised a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against Google over allegations that the tech giant used its power to preserve its monopoly. “Today’s lawsuit is the most important antitrust case in a generation,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in a statement after the filing. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information. And Google in particular has gathered and maintained that power through illegal means.” The lawsuit drew bipartisan support. House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement that the lawsuit was “long overdue.”

“The Subcommittee’s investigation uncovered extensive evidence showing that Google maintained and extended its monopoly to harm competition,” he said in a statement. “It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anti-competitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants.” Cicilline said in early October in a House antitrust subcommittee that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple all wield monopoly power. “It’s Google’s business model that is the problem,” he said. “Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sights.”

The suit, filed in a Washington federal court, asserts that Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has tried to maintain its status as a gatekeeper to the Internet by using a number of interlocking businesses to shut out competitors, thereby securing itself as a monopoly. The DOJ claimed the Silicon Valley firm uses billions of dollars from its own advertisements to pay carriers, browsers, phone companies, and other entities to maintain Google as a default search engine. “Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide,” the DOJ lawsuit alleged, resulting in negative consequences for advertisers, consumers, and upstart companies that “cannot emerge from Google’s long shadow.”

Read more …

“One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.”

Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday postponed plans to vote on subpoenas to compel the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook to testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias after some panel Republicans expressed reservation about the maneuver. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have scorched the two social media companies in recent days over their handling of disputed New York Post reports alleging ties between Joe Biden and his son’s business interests. GOP Judiciary leaders had announced plans to hold a markup Tuesday on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify on allegations the company’s decisions on user posts stifle conservative viewpoints, which Twitter denies. Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) later said the planned vote would also target Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The panel announced Monday it will now consider whether to authorize the subpoenas at a high-profile executive session Thursday where it is separately expected to approve Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The committee said in a statement it will continue to negotiate with the companies “to allow for voluntary testimony” by the CEOs, but that if an agreement is not reached the panel will move ahead with a vote on the subpoenas “at a date to be determined.” The subpoenas would require the tech moguls to testify on the alleged “suppression and/or censorship” of the New York Post reporting and on “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office,” according to a document released by the committee Monday.

Judiciary staff has indicated internally that plans for the vote were delayed in part due to some GOP panel members wavering on whether to support the action, according to one Senate GOP aide, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations. Republican officials have also expressed trepidation about how quickly the committee has moved to vote on the subpoenas, the aide said. A committee spokesperson did not immediately offer comment on the matter. But they’re not off the hook yet: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, told reporters he’s expecting the committee to hear testimony from both Dorsey and Zuckerberg “shortly” whether they come willingly or not. “One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.

Read more …

“But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”

Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)

“Facebook is almost an arm of the Democratic Party — an arm of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.” So said the former Facebook insider as we sat down for an interview at a Midtown restaurant Friday afternoon.A gloomy rain had left the joint deserted, yet the man across the table from me spoke in hushed tones and looked over his shoulder in between remarks for fear of retaliation. Yet he felt he had to speak out, because staffers are “intentionally trying to swing people further to the left,” as he had put it in an e-mail requesting the meeting. I already knew that, of course. It was a Facebook communications manager, Andy Stone, who on Thursday announced the firm was reducing circulation of The Post’s still-undisputed reporting on the Hunter Files — an employee who happened to work for Democratic lawmakers before joining the tech giant.

What the Facebook insider wanted to impress upon me, however, was how Facebook’s partisan tilt is common knowledge inside the firm.He had the secret chats to prove it. Facebook employees who wish to speak freely take to Blind, an anonymous social network for the tech industry, where workers at major firms like Uber, Google, Twitter and the like trade gossip and occasionally blow the whistle on malfeasance. To gain access to the Facebook network on Blind, a user must sign up using his or her Facebook work e-mail address. The posters, in other words, are verified Facebook employees (and ex-employees in a few cases). So what do Facebook workers think about the company’s handling of our story? The comments speak for themselves: “[Facebook] employees want Trump to lose,” wrote one user. “If that means rigging [the platform] against him, they don’t care.”


The post garnered 29 “likes” from other employees. “I was shocked that Facebook did this,” said another. “We kinda called [brought] this on ourselves. So much for ‘we are not the arbiters of truth.’ ” That comment garnered 15 “likes.” Still other comments: “Facebook bets that Biden wins the election. So an effort to jump on the bandwagon.” “Yeah this one is unconscionable. I’m ashamed.” “Imagine if we censored some leaked Trump stuff. It would be the #1 upvoted question tomorrow for Mark [Zuckerberg company-wide]’s Q&A.” Another employee wrote a detailed critique: “Why do people hate Facebook everywhere? Here’s one reason. Freaking one-sided decision. The comms Twitter account [Andy Stone’s] was definitely left-leaning, and it’s a talking point, as well. No proper response to comms feedback. Don’t want to be the what-if person. But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”

Read more …

AI.

Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)

China is one of the most censorious societies on earth. So what better place for ≠Facebook to recruit social-media censors? There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.

When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”Like, say, a New York Post report on the Biden dynasty’s dealings with Chinese companies.To illustrate the mechanics, the insider took me as his typical Facebook user: “They take what Sohrab sees, and then they throw the newsfeed list into a machine-learning algorithm and neural networks that determine the ranking of the items.” Facebook engineers test hundreds of different iterations of the rankings to shape an optimal outcome — and root out what bosses call “borderline content.”

It all makes for perhaps the most chillingly sophisticated censorship mechanism in human history. “What they don’t do is ban a specific pro-Trump hashtag,” says the ex-insider. Instead, “content that is a little too conservative, they will down-rank. You can’t tell it’s censored.”

Read more …

They don’t appear to know why.

Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)

Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness. “We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August. The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.

That’s a big improvement, but 7.6% is still a high risk compared with other diseases, and Horwitz and other researchers caution that COVID-19 remains dangerous. The death rate “is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu,” Horwitz says. And those who recover can suffer complications for months or even longer. “It still has the potential to be very harmful in terms of long-term consequences for many people.” Studying changes in death rate is tricky because although the overall U.S. death rate for COVID-19 seems to be dropping, the drop coincides with a change in whom the disease is sickening. “The people who are getting hospitalized now tend to be much younger, tend to have fewer other diseases and tend to be less frail than people who were hospitalized in the early days of the epidemic,” Horwitz says.

So have death rates dropped because of improvements in treatments? Or is it because of the change in who’s getting sick? To find out, Horwitz and her colleagues looked at more than 5,000 hospitalizations in the NYU Langone Health system between March and August. They adjusted for factors including age and other diseases, such as diabetes, to rule out the possibility that the numbers had dropped only because younger, healthier people were getting diagnosed. They found that death rates dropped for all groups, even older patients by 18 percentage points on average.

Read more …

How embarrassing for the West if this works.

Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)

Moscow will receive its first large batches of the coronavirus vaccine in November, and mass vaccination in the Russian capital will begin in December and January, according to its Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Sobyanin, who has run Europe’s largest city since 2010, believes that mass vaccination will be “the final victory over the pandemic.” Writing on his blog, the mayor explained that the high number of infections in Moscow is due to the city’s huge population and the significant number of tests being conducted. On Monday, confirmed cases in the capital hit 367,629, a quarter of the country’s overall number (1,415,316), despite officially having around only eight percent of the population.

In the same blog post, Sobyanin highlighted that he does not yet see a necessity to introduce “extreme” measures in the city, such as a curfew and a ban on movement, but did not rule out other less stringent measures. The main aim is to interrupt the spread of the infection, while not affecting the economy or depriving people of work, he wrote. “Ultimately, we are not making a choice between good and bad,” the mayor said. “All decisions are bad. We have to choose the lesser of two evils. But if we do nothing today, then tomorrow we will have to take tougher, more radical, and more unpleasant measures.” Last week, the capital introduced extra restrictions regarding nightlife, with those attending bars and clubs after midnight being forced to scan a QR code for the purpose of track-and-trace.

Moscow is currently hosting the third phase trial of the country’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V. The mass post-registration testing of the vaccine, which was produced by the city’s Gamaleya Institute, involves 40,000 volunteers – a quarter of whom will receive a placebo.

Read more …

“I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.”

Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)

1. “There are two kinds of people. People who when they hear that there’s a problem, they go into their basement, start crying, have an emotional support group, do some praying, and wait for the government to save them. Others who take their fate in their own hands and try to say, ‘Hey, life gave me a lemon, let me make lemonade out of it'” – on the best way to react to a crisis. 2. “There are ways you can be ahead. You just have to fight” – on the subject of adapting to the pandemic. Taleb gave the example of a gym owner pivoting to installing home gyms, and a waiter making more money as a delivery driver.

3. “Capitalism is a wonderful mechanism to convert individual human greed into collective virtue.” 4. “Governments are good at doing things that look important but are not necessarily effective.” 5. “We’re spending $1 trillion on fighting illusory enemies with very complex nuclear stuff, but you can’t do something as basic as test people when they want to board a plane” – criticizing the government response to the pandemic. 6. “I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.

7. “Millennials think that joining an NGO is a great way to save the world. I say no. Start a company, that’s how you improve mankind. We did not pull 2 billion people out of poverty thanks to NGOs and bureaucrats, we pulled them out thanks to capitalism, by generating economic growth.” 8. “A soldier can fail without any shame to the country. We should interpret the failure of entrepreneurs as something that is helping the planet” – on the need to encourage entrepreneurs and remove the stigma of failure.

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Matriarch

 

 

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

 

Oct 142020
 
 October 14, 2020  Posted by at 9:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  42 Responses »


Giotto Legend of St Francis, Renunciation of Wordly Goods c.1297-1299

 

Google Researcher Warns Google May Be ‘Shifting Power’ to Flip Senate (NB)
Russia Health Watchdog: Shutting Down Economy For COVID19 is Pointless (RT)
UK Hospitality Firms Threaten Legal Action Over Lockdown (BBC)
Dutch PM Closes Pubs, Restaurants, Cafes As Coronavirus Cases Rise (RT)
Northern Ireland To Impose ‘Circuit Breaker’ Lockdown For 4 Weeks (Sky)
Johnson, Grassley Press FBI For All McCabe Texts (Fox)
FBI Used Media Reports Seeded By Steele To ‘Corroborate’ Anti-Trump Dossier (RT)
Consortium News Sues Canadian TV Network for Defamation (CN)
The Barbarians Are Threatening Us! (Crooke)
Fifth of Countries At Risk Of Ecosystem Collapse – Swiss Re (G.)

 

 

Lockdowns are all the fad again. They shouldn’t be, and this won’t end well. Give people N95 masks and vitamin D instead and let them live.

 

 

Let’s say: Interesting. It’s like a silent form of propaganda.

Google Researcher Warns Google May Be ‘Shifting Power’ to Flip Senate (NB)

The social media researcher who warned about Google’s power to shift the election said that the company may be focusing on a new solution: the United States Senate. Dr. Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, told the Media Research Center that Google is “now focusing most of their vote shifting power on the Senate races, where big-margin outcomes will be hard to contest.” Thirty-five seats in the Senate are up for election on Nov. 3, 2020. Out of those races, 23 seats currently belong to Republicans. Epstein theorized that Google had the power to “mobilize the base supporters of Democratic candidates to register to vote and then to vote; they can discourage some Republican voters from registering to vote or voting.”


He wrote that the company had “at least 9 million undecided voters they can still play with.” A Google search not affiliated with an account shows the search bar auto-completes certain terms with “senate.” When a user types in “flip the,” “senate” shows up three times.

More references to flipping auto-populate with “senate.”

Searches that involve the term “democrat” also auto-complete with “flip the senate.” In addition, when it comes to a search with the term “Mitch,” the first name of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Google auto-completes with “vote mitch mcconnell out.”

The official Google blog stated, “How do we determine these predictions? We look at the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.” However, a look at Google Trends shows that interest in the term “flip the senate” has been in steady decline since September 26. A report in Psychology Today noted that “Trump has generated by far the most search interest both nationally, and in each and every state.” However, Epstein countered Psychology Today’s statement by saying, “Google controls people’s perceptions about what kind of search activity is occurring. They have complete control over the numbers they display.


And while it should surprise no one that Trump generates a lot of online activity, we’re only aware of those big numbers (if they’re even real) because Google wants us to be aware of them.” Eight Republican-held Senate seats, according to USA Today, have the potential to flip. Google has the power, said Epstein, to be “personalizing the content of newsfeeds, search suggestions, search results, answer boxes, and other ephemeral content.” These actions could direct specific kinds of people to register to vote, to goad unwilling voters into voting, and convince specific kinds of people not to vote.

Read more …

“Despite the fact that we see a growth in cases, today, in Russia, we are not talking about blocking the economy,” Popova said. “We do not see any point in it.”

Russia Health Watchdog: Shutting Down Economy For COVID19 is Pointless (RT)

The top official at Russia’s state health watchdog believes that there is no point in suspending the economy to fight coronavirus. Anna Popova’s comments came after the Kremlin said a second lockdown isn’t even being considered. Speaking at a coronavirus event at well-known university RANEPA, on Tuesday, Rospotrebnadzor boss Anna Popova explained that Russia has quite a low rate of Covid-19 per capita, and therefore there is no sense in taking drastic measures. Currently, there are few restrictions in the world’s largest country with bars, restaurants, and shops open as usual. “Despite the fact that we see a growth in cases, today, in Russia, we are not talking about blocking the economy,” Popova said. “We do not see any point in it.”

In addition, she noted that Covid-19 testing has not dropped off at any point, even during the summer. Statistics from the country’s official coronavirus center show that Russia has carried out over 51 million tests, fourth globally, behind the three most populated countries, China, the US, and India. According to Popova, over the last week, the average daily rate for new coronavirus cases is eight per 100,000 people. This is much better than in other countries such as Israel (54), France (28), and the Netherlands (27), which are all more than three times worse.

Earlier this year, in the spring, the country saw some of the world’s strictest measures, with Moscow residents being restricted from leaving their apartments for anything other than food, medical help, or walking a dog. The restrictions were partially lifted on June 16, with cafes and restaurants being allowed to open terraces. With many business owners still battling the consequences of Russia’s lockdown, another closure of the economy could be a hammer blow. Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed the need for Russians to wear masks and comply with all measures, warning that numbers will rise if citizens refuse to follow the rules. Previously, Peskov had denied that a second lockdown was even being considered.

Read more …

Kill the pubs!

UK Hospitality Firms Threaten Legal Action Over Lockdown (BBC)

The UK hospitality industry has said it will take legal action to stop new local lockdown rules that could force pub, clubs and other venues to close. Trade body the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said there was no evidence that hospitality venues contributed to the spread of Covid-19. It comes as the government prepares to unveil new restrictions for England. NTIA boss Michael Kill said the hospitality industry had been left with “no other option”. “These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package presented by the chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period,” he said.


“This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust, with no scientific rationale or correlation to Public Health England transmission rates, when compared to other key environments.” The Liverpool City Region is expected to face the tightest restrictions under a new “three tier” system, which will classify regions as being at a “medium,” “high” or “very high” level of alert. In the most infectious areas, pubs, bars and other hospitality and leisure businesses are likely to be forced to close, as has happened in parts of Scotland. The chancellor has promised to pay two-thirds of workers’ wages if employers have to shut. But some fear this will not be enough and there could still be an impact on jobs, said Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of business lobby group the CBI.

Read more …

Mandatory non-medical masks. Which make no difference. How do these people hang on to their jobs despite their glaring failures? Well, by blaming everybody but themselves.

Dutch PM Closes Pubs, Restaurants, Cafes As Coronavirus Cases Rise (RT)

Bars, restaurants and cafes in the Netherlands will close their doors as the Dutch government tries to control the spread of Covid-19. Unlike many of its European neighbors, the Netherlands has thus far avoided harsh lockdowns. Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the “partial lockdown” on Tuesday evening, after health officials in the Netherlands reported a record 7,393 new cases of Covid-19 that day. A total of 43,903 new infections were recorded in the preceding week, along with 150 deaths. The new measures, which come into effect on Wednesday, will see all bars, restaurants and cafes close, and the sale of alcohol banned after 8pm. In addition, the wearing of face masks will be mandatory in all indoor spaces.


Rutte’s government has held off on some of the harsher lockdown measures imposed in other European countries since the pandemic began. Masks were only mandatory on public transport, and bars and hospitality venues operated as usual – albeit with some social distancing measures, and contact tracing forms given to customers. These rules tightened somewhat late last month, with restaurants and bars in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague ordered to close by 10pm, and workers in these cities advised to do their jobs remotely if possible. “It hurts, but it’s the only way,” Rutte said of the new restrictions on Tuesday. “We have to be stricter.” The Netherlands has so far recorded nearly 190,000 cases of Covid-19, and more than 6,600 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Read more …

Partial lockdown, circuit breaker lockdown, fancy terms.

Northern Ireland To Impose ‘Circuit Breaker’ Lockdown For 4 Weeks (Sky)

Northern Ireland is set to become the first part of the UK to impose a “circuit breaker” lockdown. Tighter restrictions will be in place for four weeks – with schools closing for two of them, Sky News understands. According to the PA news agency, the new measures will mean pubs and restaurants have to close, with the exception of takeaways. PA said closures of hospitality outlets would begin on Friday 16 October, and other measures from Monday 19 October. Current restrictions on household mixing were expected to remain unchanged. Retail outlets are expected to remain open, as well as churches and gyms for individual training.


First Minister Arlene Foster will address the Stormont Assembly later today, following a meeting of the Stormont executive that extended into the early hours of this morning. After the executive meeting concluded, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tweeted to say “painstaking consideration” had been given to the “next steps”. She wrote: “We know this is hard and that people will be worried about their livelihoods, but we will do everything we possibly can to make sure there are protections in place for businesses, workers and families.”

Read more …

Trump should have ordered declassification outright.

Johnson, Grassley Press FBI For All McCabe Texts (Fox)

Top Senate Republicans investigating the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe are pressing the bureau to produce all text messages belonging to former deputy director Andrew McCabe, calling the delay “unacceptable.” In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, demanded that the FBI turn over the documents, noting that their production would be responsive to a subpoena issued by Johnson’s committee in August.

“As you know, on August 6, 2020, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee subpoenaed the FBI for all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, which requires that records actually be produced to the Committee, not merely made available for review in a reading room,” they wrote. “We have waited nearly 70 days to receive these text messages, and when records were actually produced, we received only 8 percent of what we know exists.” They added: “It is simply unacceptable that we have waited so long to receive so little.” Johnson and Grassley said the text messages belonging to McCabe that the FBI did produce “include notable information that is highly relevant to several aspects of the Committees’ oversight efforts.”

One aspect the committee is investigating involves records made public last week by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who declassified documents that revealed former CIA Director John Brennan briefed former President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s purported “plan” to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public form her use of a private email server” ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The documents, which were first reported and exclusively obtained by Fox News, included Brennan’s handwritten notes — which were taken after he briefed Obama on the intelligence the CIA received — and a CIA memo, which revealed that officials referred the matter to former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok for potential investigative action.

“We have made a public commitment to determine and reveal the full extent of official investigative and intelligence action taken by federal officials against the Trump campaign, its presidential transition, and into the administration,” the senators wrote, adding that the information that has already been made public “reveals what might be the most outrageous abuse of power in U.S. history against a presidential candidate and sitting president.”

Read more …

Someone investigate the media’s role.

FBI Used Media Reports Seeded By Steele To ‘Corroborate’ Anti-Trump Dossier (RT)

The FBI sought to ‘verify’ information in the notorious dossier at the heart of Russiagate by using media articles seeded by the actual dossier author, British spy Christopher Steele, the newly released evidence has shown. The so-called Steele Dossier is the centerpiece of ‘Russiagate,’ the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump “colluded” with Moscow in the 2016 US presidential election. The dossier’s most bombastic claim was that Russia had “kompromat” on him in the form of sex tapes from a Moscow hotel involving urinating prostitutes. Steele compiled the dossier for Fusion GPS, a DC-based firm paid by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign through the DNC. The FBI then used it to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016, and extended it three times well into 2017.

A 94-page spreadsheet made public on Monday, however, shows the FBI relied heavily on media reports to corroborate Steele’s claims – in many cases, the very same reports Steele had planted himself. According to analyst Stephen McIntyre, footnotes listed in the spreadsheet show that 39 percent of the footnotes lead to Washington, DC media outlets, another 29 percent are redacted, and Steele himself was cited on 18 occasions, somehow self-verifying his own work. In one instance, McIntyre notes, the FBI triple counted an article from the Daily Beast as three separate sources. Other media outlets named in the document are CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News and Mother Jones.

The FBI had actually decided to fire Steele as a paid informant in September 2016 – before obtaining the Page warrant – because he leaked to the media, specifically Yahoo and Mother Jones, but that never raised any red flags either with the warrant or the corroboration, apparently. Moreover, the Bureau knew in December 2016 that the “primary sub-source” (PSS) for the dossier was a Russian national they had investigated as a foreign agent in 2009, but the investigation was abandoned without explanation and this fact was never flagged. Even after interviewing the PSS in January 2017, and establishing that most of the dossier was fabricated outright, the FBI continued to use it at the FISA court to extend the Page warrant.

Read more …

It doesn’t only happen in the US: “Global received the storyline from CSE and then consciously regurgitated the preconceived narrative that it knew to be false.”

Just mention Russia and you’re good to go.

Consortium News Sues Canadian TV Network for Defamation (CN)

Consortium News has sued the Canadian TV network Global News for defamation in federal court in Virginia over a report that said CN was part of an “attack” and a “cyber influence” campaign “directed” by Moscow against a Canadian leader. The lawsuit accuses the Corus Entertainment-owned network of entering into a business conspiracy with the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE)–Canada’s NSA—to “link …critics” of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to “’Russia’ as a way of discrediting those critics and protecting themselves.” The suit says: “Global received the storyline from CSE and then consciously regurgitated the preconceived narrative that it knew to be false. In its quest to paint Plaintiff as a ‘Russian collaborator’, Global abandoned journalistic integrity and ethics, misrepresented the content of CN’s articles, and applied false labels to Plaintiff.”

In January Consortium News sent libel notices to both Global News and the CSE, demanding an apology and retraction of any mention of CN in Global News’s Dec. 10, 2019 on-line article and video reports. The CSE did not respond to the notice. Global News refused to retract all mention of CN from the article or to apologize. Global News did not contact Consortium News for comment before it published its article and broadcast two TV reports. Instead, two months after the Global News reports appeared—and after receiving the libel notice—Global News attached an editor’s note to its article, which is still on-line. It says: “Editor’s Note – Subsequent to the publication of this article, Consortium News advised Global News it disputes statements about it referred to in the CSE document that are reported on in the article.“

Consortium News has told Global News it denies any implication it is ‘an organ of or directed by the Russian government’ and says it is an independent news source.” CN informed Global News that the editor’s note coming after publication was insufficient and insisted that without a retraction and apology it would pursue litigation. Citing case law, the suit filed on Tuesday states that “a clear evasion from the truth and the failure to interview an important witness, who was easily accessible, supports a finding of actual malice.” The lawsuit says: “The focal point of Global’s accusations was an article published in February 2017 in Virginia by Plaintiff and false accusations that Plaintiff – a Virginia corporation – is linked to Russia and knowingly published Russian propaganda to harm the reputation of Freeland.”

Read more …

“The values of the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will dominate in the years ahead are the opposite of Boomer values..”

The Barbarians Are Threatening Us! (Crooke)

Now, as we enter the final month of the U.S. election, the expected climax to long-buried animosities is at hand. It is unlikely to be brief or decisive. The internal convulsions of the U.S. however, are one thing. But the implosion of social trust in the U.S. is radiating out, and its effects are radiating out across the globe. If the imprecarity of our times – compounded by the virus – is making us nervous and tense, it may be because we intuit that a way-of-life, a way-of-economics, too, is coming to its end. The fear of social upheaval sows distrust. It can produce the spiritual state that Emile Durkheim called anomie, a feeling of being disconnected from society; a conviction that the world around one is illegitimate and corrupt; that you are invisible – a ‘number’; a helpless object of hostile repression, imposed by ‘the system’; a feeling that nobody is to be trusted.

Russian nineteenth century literature, including novels by Dostoevsky, chronicled how such feelings amongst the children of the Russian well-to-do could evolve into burning hatred. This hatred extended to nail-bombs hurled into smart cafés, in order “to see how the foul bourgeois will squirm in death agony”. The West’s post-war era largely was defined by the ‘Woodstock’ generation: an era in which the rich (white) 20% of the globe lived in a consumer paradise of choice and over-consumption, whilst the 80% non-white, did not. That generation lived at a period of relative cultural cohesion and social stability – and rarely was called upon to make sacrifice or to endure hardship. It was the era of one ‘easy-decision’ after the other, building up to an ethos that put personal liberty above every other value, including social obligation.

The emerging generations of today, David Brooks argues in The Atlantic, “enjoy none of that sense of security. They grew up in a world in which institutions failed, financial systems collapsed, and families were fragile. Yet human beings need a basic sense of security in order to thrive, as the political scientist Ronald F. Inglehart puts it: their “values and behaviour are shaped by the degree to which survival is secure””. “The values of the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will dominate in the years ahead are the opposite of Boomer values: not liberation, but security; not freedom, but equality; not individualism, but the safety of the collective; not sink-or-swim meritocracy, but promotion on the basis of social justice… Distrustful people try to make themselves invulnerable, armour themselves up in a sour attempt to feel safe… start to see threats that aren’t there.”

Read more …

Ecosystems don’t recognize borders.

Fifth of Countries At Risk Of Ecosystem Collapse – Swiss Re (G.)

One-fifth of the world’s countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing because of the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, according to an analysis by the insurance firm Swiss Re. Natural “services” such as food, clean water and air, and flood protection have already been damaged by human activity. More than half of global GDP – $42tn (£32tn) – depends on high-functioning biodiversity, according to the report, but the risk of tipping points is growing. Countries including Australia, Israel and South Africa rank near the top of Swiss Re’s index of risk to biodiversity and ecosystem services, with India, Spain and Belgium also highlighted. Countries with fragile ecosystems and large farming sectors, such as Pakistan and Nigeria, are also flagged up.

Countries including Brazil and Indonesia had large areas of intact ecosystems but had a strong economic dependence on natural resources, which showed the importance of protecting their wild places, Swiss Re said. “A staggering fifth of countries globally are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing due to a decline in biodiversity and related beneficial services,” said Swiss Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers and a linchpin of the global insurance industry. “If the ecosystem service decline goes on [in countries at risk], you would see then scarcities unfolding even more strongly, up to tipping points,” said Oliver Schelske, lead author of the research.

Jeffrey Bohn, Swiss Re’s chief research officer, said: “This is the first index to our knowledge that pulls together indicators of biodiversity and ecosystems to cross-compare around the world, and then specifically link back to the economies of those locations.” The index was designed to help insurers assess ecosystem risks when setting premiums for businesses but Bohn said it could have a wider use as it “allows businesses and governments to factor biodiversity and ecosystems into their economic decision-making”. The Swiss Re index is built on 10 key ecosystem services identified by the world’s scientists and uses scientific data to map the state of these services at a resolution of one square kilometre across the world’s land.

The services include provision of clean water and air, food, timber, pollination, fertile soil, erosion control, and coastal protection, as well as a measure of habitat intactness. Those countries with more than 30% of their area found to have fragile ecosystems were deemed to be at risk of those ecosystems collapsing. Just one in seven countries had intact ecosystems covering more than 30% of their country area. Among the G20 leading economies, South Africa and Australia were seen as being most at risk, with China 7th, the US 9th and the UK 16th.

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

“The beauty of physics is that it can rigorously predict things nobody has seen before, before the emergence of any empirical evidence. Compare to fraudulent fields like psychology that overfit from naive ‘empirical evidence’ to predict nothing.”

– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

 

 

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

 

Sep 042020
 
 September 4, 2020  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Robert Capa Catholic church between bricks from the destroyed Jewish Ghetto Warsaw, Poland 1948

 

Bipartisan Washington Insiders Plan for Chaos if Trump Wins Election (Webb)
Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ (Atl.)
The Trump Era Sucks and Needs to Be Over (Matt Taibbi)
If Dems Win In 2020, It’s Virtually Impossible For GOP Ever To Win Again (PJW)
Cuomo Admin Accused Of Stonewalling Over COVID19 Nursing Home Deaths (NYP)
DOJ Conducting “Very Big” Voter Fraud Investigations – Barr (ET)
DOJ To File Antitrust Charges Against Google Within Weeks (ZH)
In the Worst of Times, the Billionaire Elite Plunder Working Class America (CP)
US Court: NSA Mass Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden Was Illegal (DW)
Capitalism Isn’t Working. Here’s An Alternative (Varoufakis)
Eulogy to David Graeber (Steve Keen)

 

 

60 days to go till November 3 and hunting season is open. Smear’s the word. It’ll be so ugly many people will just turn away in disgust. Many others will keep staring at it the way people stare at traffic accidents.

 

 

Bradykinin give us even more incentive to roll out rapid tests, HCQ, zinc, vitamin D in huge quantities. What are we waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb and Bar-Yam

 

 

Whitney Webb is one of multiple voices discussing the Transition Integrity Project (TIP). Bipartisan in this case means: anti-Trump. Basically, all these war scenarios claim that if Biden doesn’t win big, there’ll be war in the streets. They sort of openly advocate for that.

Bipartisan Washington Insiders Plan for Chaos if Trump Wins Election (Webb)

A group of Democratic Party insiders and former Obama and Clinton era officials as well as a cadre of “Never Trump” neoconservative Republicans have spent the past few months conducting simulations and “war games” regarding different 2020 election “doomsday” scenarios. Per several media reports on the group, called the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), they justify these exercises as specifically preparing for a scenario where President Trump loses the 2020 election and refuses to leave office, potentially resulting in a constitutional crisis. However, according to TIP’s own documents, even their simulations involving a “clear win” for Trump in the upcoming election resulted in a constitutional crisis, as they predicted that the Biden campaign would make bold moves aimed at securing the presidency, regardless of the election result.

This is particularly troubling given that TIP has considerable ties to the Obama administration, where Biden served as Vice President, as well as several groups that are adamantly pro-Biden in addition to the Biden campaign itself. Indeed, the fact that a group of openly pro-Biden Washington insiders and former government officials have gamed out scenarios for possible election outcomes and their aftermath, all of which either ended with Biden becoming president or a constitutional crisis, suggest that powerful forces influencing the Biden campaign are pushing the former Vice President to refuse to concede the election even if he loses. This, of course, gravely undercuts the TIP’s claim to be ensuring “integrity” in the presidential transition process and instead suggests that the group is openly planning on how to ensure that Trump leaves office regardless of the result or to manufacture the very constitutional crisis they claim to be preventing through their simulations.

Such concerns are only magnified by the recent claims made by the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State under Obama, Hillary Clinton, that Biden “should not concede under any circumstances.” “I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is,” Clinton continued during an interview with Showtime a little over a week ago. The results of the TIP’s simulations notably echo Clinton’s claims that Biden will “eventually” win if the process to determine the election outcome is “dragged out.”

Read more …

The for now (but don’t hold your breath on that one) ultimate smear piece, based exclusively on anonymous sources. All it says has been denied by not anonymous sources, who were actually present, like Trump himself, and Sarah Sanders, but that’s not the point. The point is smear; that’s how this will be fought.

Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ (Atl.)

Trump remained fixated on McCain, one of the few prominent Republicans to continue criticizing him after he won the nomination. When McCain died, in August 2018, Trump told his senior staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge of this event, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” and he became furious, according to witnesses, when he saw flags lowered to half-staff. “What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser,” the president told aides. Trump was not invited to McCain’s funeral.

(These sources, and others quoted in this article, spoke on condition of anonymity. The White House did not return earlier calls for comment, but Alyssa Farah, a White House spokesperson, emailed me this statement shortly after this story was posted: “This report is false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms, and supporting military spouses. This has no basis in fact.”)

[..] On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members.

But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices. “He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” one of Kelly’s friends, a retired four-star general, told me. “He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.”

Read more …

Would things be better if Trump were gone? The only alternative is having Hillary and Pelosi and Schiff in charge. Is that an improvement?

The Trump Era Sucks and Needs to Be Over (Matt Taibbi)

The question, “What is Trump thinking?” is the wrong one. He’s not thinking, he’s selling. What’s he selling? Whatever pops into his head. The beauty of politics from his point of view, compared to every other damn thing he’s sold in his life — steaks, ties, pillows, college degrees, chandeliers, hotels, condominiums, wine, eyeglasses, deodorant, perfume (SUCCESS by Trump!), mattresses, etc. — is that there’s no product. The pitch is the product, and you can give different pitches to different people and they all buy. In 2016 Trump reeled in the nativist loons and rage cases with his opening rants about walls and mass deportations, then slowly clawed his numbers up with the rest of the party with his “softening” routine.

Each demographic probably came away convinced he was lying to the other, while the truth was probably more that he was lying to all of them. Obviously there are real-world consequences to courting the lowest common denominator instincts in people, but to Trump speeches aren’t moral acts in themselves, they’re just “words that he is saying,” as long-ago spokesperson Katrina Pierson put it. In this sense the Republican Party’s 2020 platform is genius: there isn’t one, just a commitment to “enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda,” meaning whatever Trump says at any given moment. If one can pull back enough from the fact that this impacts our actual lives, it’s hard not to admire the breathtaking amorality of this, as one might admire a simple malevolent organism like a virus or liver fluke.

Trump blew through the Republican primaries in 2015-2016. His opponents, a slate of mannequins hired by energy companies and weapons contractors to be pretend-patriots and protectors of “family values,” had no answer for his insults and offer-everything-to-everyone tactics. Like most politicians, they’d been protected their whole lives by donors, party hacks, and pundits who’d turned campaigns into a club system designed to insulate paid lackeys from challenges to their phony gravitas. Trump had no institutional loyalty to the club, shat all over it in addition to its silly frontmen, and walked to the nomination.

[..] The paradox ensnaring America since November, 2016 is that Trump never intended to govern, while his opponents never intended to let him try. In an alternate universe where a post-election Donald had enough self-awareness to admit he was out of his depth, and the D.C. establishment agreed to recognize his administration as legitimate for appearances’ sake, Trump might have escaped four years with the profile of a conventionally crappy president, or perhaps a few notches below that — way below average, maybe, but survivable. Instead it was decided even before he was elected that admitting the president was the president was “normalizing” him. Normally no news is good news, and the anchorman is encouraged to smile on a day without war, earthquakes, terror attacks, or stock market crashes.

Under Trump it became taboo to have a slow news day. A lack of an emergency was a failure of reporting, since Trump’s very presence in office was crisis.

Read more …

The ruling class.

If Dems Win In 2020, It’s Virtually Impossible For GOP Ever To Win Again (PJW)

Professor Angelo M. Codevilla warns that if the Democrats win the 2020 elections, it would be “virtually impossible for conservatives ever to win again.” Codevilla, who is professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University, made the prediction in a review published by the Claremont Review of Books for Michael Anton’s new book The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return. The book makes the argument that although some Americans may be disappointed in Trump’s performance, voting for him again is absolutely crucial for the republic’s survival because “this country’s ruling class would use control of the presidency to hurt us in our private and public lives for having dared to reject their mastery.” Importing non-citizens who are then given the vote, as well as institutionalizing elections by mail, which would give those who count the votes the power, would ‘guarantee disaster’ for the country, according to Codevilla.


He then issues a stark warning; It’s game over permanently for Republicans if Trump loses in 2020. “Should the Democrats win, the ruling Left – which includes just about everyone who controls American government and society’s commanding heights – is ready, willing, and eager to implement plans that would make it virtually impossible for conservatives ever to win national elections again,” writes Codevilla. The professor also cautions that Democrats’ stated refusal to concede to Donald Trump, which was recently amplified by Hillary Clinton, could manifest itself in “one or more blue state governors to refuse to certify that state’s electors to the Electoral College, so as to prevent the college from recording a majority of votes for the winner.” This threatens to set off a “systemic crisis” that could lead to a civil war “less like the American Civil War of the 19th century and more like the horror that bled Spain in the 20th.”

Read more …

It’ll be ready on November 5th. No, the joke is not lost on us. That’s two whole months for what nursing homes are by law obliged to tally on a daily basis. It shouldn’t even take two hours.

Cuomo Admin Accused Of Stonewalling Over COVID19 Nursing Home Deaths (NYP)

A government watchdog group is accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration of sitting on data that would provide the full death tally of nursing home residents from the coronavirus. The Empire Center for Public Policy accuses the state Health Department of stalling on compliance with a Freedom of Information Law request seeking the information. Currently, New York’s tally of nursing home fatalities only counts those residents who died or are presumed to have died from COVID-19 inside those facilities. The figure excludes potentially thousands of nursing home residents who were transported to hospitals for treatment and died a few days later.

“The state Health Department is offering a new explanation for why it won’t provide the full death toll of coronavirus in nursing homes: it can’t find the records,” said Bill Hammond, a health analyst for the Empire Center who submitted the legal request for the data in early August. In a response letter sent to Hammond on Monday, the department said it could not yet fulfill the request “because a diligent search for relevant documents is still being conducted.” “We estimate that this Office will complete its process by November 5, 2020. The Department will notify you in writing when/if the responsive materials are available for release or if the time needed to complete your request extends beyond the above date,” said the department’s record access officer, Rosemary Hewig.

The delayed compliance in releasing information in response to legal requests has been a common practice of government agencies, with officials often saying they are still conducting a “diligent search” for records. “In this case, however, a search of any kind should not be necessary,” Hammond said in a blog post. He said the department’s Health Emergency Response Data System (or HERDS) has required nursing homes to file daily reports throughout the pandemic — including counts of all residents who die from coronavirus, both within the facilities or hospitals or elsewhere. “Those numbers are the basis for the partial count that the department does make public – which stood at 6,639 as of Aug. 29, but omits potentially thousands of residents who died in hospitals,” Hammond said.

Hammond said the “unusual methodology” is used by few if any other states and gives the public a “distorted picture of the pandemic.” “It makes it hard to compare New York to other states, or to gauge the merits of particular policies, such as the Health Department’s much-debated March 25 directive compelling nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive patients being discharged from hospitals,” he said. The Justice Department is looking at whether the policies of New York and three other states contributed to COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

Read more …

And you thought hanging chads were controversial…

DOJ Conducting “Very Big” Voter Fraud Investigations – Barr (ET)

The Department of Justice is conducting several “very big” voter fraud investigations in multiple states, Attorney General William Barr told CNN in an interview aired on Sept. 2. “I know there are a number of investigations right now, some very big ones, in states,” Barr said in response to a question about how many voter fraud indictments the Department of Justice (DOJ) has brought on his watch. Barr said he did not know the exact number. At least 32 people have been criminally convicted of voter fraud in 2019, according to a database maintained by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. The attorney general made the remarks as part of a tense exchange with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer about mail-in voting.

Barr has repeatedly said that mass mail-in voting is an invitation for voter fraud and coercion. Blitzer pressed the attorney general for evidence that this will be the case in 2020. Barr pointed to a recent conviction in Texas over 1,700 fraudulent ballots and noted that widespread evidence isn’t available because the United States has never attempted an election with the kind of massive access to mail-in voting available in 2020. At least 83 percent of American voters, or roughly 100 million people, will be able to vote by mail in the 2020 election, according to a tally by The Washington Post. “We haven’t had the kind of widespread use of mail-in ballots as being proposed,” Barr said.

“We’ve had absentee ballots from people who request them from a specific address. Now what we’re talking about is mailing them to everyone on the voter list, when everyone knows those voter lists are inaccurate.” Barr referenced the findings of a nonpartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, which determined in 2005 that mail-in voting creates the potential for voter fraud and opens the door to coercion if activists or party workers are allowed to handle ballots. Carter recently issued a statement to point out that the commission’s key finding was that states should invest in more research on mail-in voting. The former president encouraged states to invest resources to expand voting by mail.

More than 43 percent of likely American voters would not trust in the integrity of an election if all voters automatically received ballots or ballot request forms by mail, according to an Epoch Times National Poll conducted in late August. “This is playing with fire,” Barr said. “We’re a very closely divided country here and people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government. And people trying to change the rules to this methodology—which as a matter of logic is very open to fraud and coercion—is reckless and dangerous,” Barr said.

Read more …

Bill Barr Busy.

DOJ To File Antitrust Charges Against Google Within Weeks (ZH)

The Department of Justice will is preparing to slap Google with an antitrust case over the next several weeks, according to the New York Times – which insists, based on five sources, that Attorney General Bill Barr “overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case against one of the world’s wealthiest, most formidable technology companies.” The Times is suggesting, based on leaks, that Barr is rushing the case for political purposes and the charges are premature. “The Google case could also give Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr an election-season achievement on an issue that both Democrats and Republicans see as a major problem: the influence of the biggest tech companies over consumers and the possibility that their business practices have stifled new competitors and hobbled legacy industries like telecom and media.” -NYT

Some 40 lawyers working on a DOJ antitrust inquiry into Google parent Alphabet were reportedly told to wrap up their work by the end of this month, according to three of the five leakers, who we’re guessing are part of the 40-lawyer team – as “most of the 40-odd lawyers who had been working on the investigation opposed the deadline.” Others said they would not sign the complaint, while several left the case over the summer.

“Some argued this summer in a memo that ran hundreds of pages that they could bring a strong case but needed more time, according to people who described the document. Disagreement persisted among the team over how broad the complaint should be and what Google could do to resolve the problems the government uncovered. The lawyers viewed the deadline as arbitrary. While there were disagreements about tactics, career lawyers also expressed concerns that Mr. Barr wanted to announce the case in September to take credit for action against a powerful tech company under the Trump administration. But Mr. Barr felt that the department had moved too slowly and that the deadline was not unreasonable, according to a senior Justice Department official.” -NYT

Barr has shown a “deep interest” in the Google investigation, requesting regular briefings on the DOJ case, and “taking thick binders of information about it on trips and vacations and returning with ideas and notes.” The Times notes that antitrust action against Google has bipartisan support from a coalition of 50 states and territories, though Democrats and Republican state attorneys general conducting their own investigations are split on how to move forward. Republicans have accused Democrats of slow-walking the work in order to bring charges under a potential Biden administration, while Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting Trump to receive credit – a disagreement which could limit the number of states participating in prosecuting the Silicon Valley giant.

Read more …

But but, I read Jeff Bezos lost $9 billion yesterday!

In the Worst of Times, the Billionaire Elite Plunder Working Class America (CP)

In the midst of a global pandemic, unprecedented economic collapse, mass unemployment, hunger and desperation, the stock market is booming and the richest of the rich are richer than ever before. Since March, more than 58 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment. The Internal Revenue Service now predicts that the U.S. economy will have almost 40 million fewer jobs in 2021 than they predicted before the pandemic, as a result of the prolonged economic depression. As it becomes widely recognized that the economy is not going to “bounce right back” into full activity – even when coronavirus cases do eventually decline – and that the current depression will continue for a long time, companies are doing anything they can to drive their stock prices higher.

Desperate to maintain their profits, many large corporations are planning massive layoffs and acknowledging that currently furloughed workers are not going to have jobs to come back to. The Wall Street Journal reports that a recent study found, “nearly half of U.S. employers that furloughed or laid off staff because of COVID-19 are considering additional workplace cuts in the next 12 months.” The companies say low-paid workers will be the first to be cut. Twice as many workers had their pay cut by July 1 as during the Bush-Obama recession that began in 2009, according to the Washington Post. More than 10 million private sector workers have had their wages cut or been forced to work part-time. Car company Tesla forced all workers to take a 10 percent pay cut from mid-April until July. In the same period, Tesla stock skyrocketed, and CEO Elon Musk’s net worth has now quadrupled from $25 billion to over $100 billion.

Business software company Salesforce announced record sales levels one day and layoffs of 1,000 workers the next. The company’s stock rose 26 percent. Among small businesses, another study found that 50 percent of all small-business employees who were furloughed since March are still without work. Twenty-eight percent are still furloughed; 22 percent have been permanently laid off. Even in the government’s rigged and severely undercounted unemployment statistics, the number of people who have been unemployed 15-26 weeks is nearly double what it was at the height of the 2009 recession — and exponentially higher than at any other time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Read more …

So the entire NSA brass must all move to Russia now? And Edward can come back home? Or is exposing an illegal program more illegal than said program itself?

US Court: NSA Mass Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden Was Illegal (DW)

A US federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the controversial National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden was illegal. The ruling stopped short of calling the program unconstitutional. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that the program, under which the NSA collected and analyzed bulk data provided by telecommunications companies, was in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and could have been unconstitutional.= “Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” said Snowden, who fled to Russia after exposing the program, on Twitter.


“And yet that day has arrived.” He still faces charges of espionage in the US. After initially denying that the intelligence agency collected information on Americans, officials maintained that the spying helped the country combat domestic extremism. The most popular case cited was that of four California residents — Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh — who have been convicted of funding the Al-Shabaab extremist group in Somalia. NSA’s domestic spying program helped get this conviction, which will not be impacted by the latest ruling. However, human rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have hailed the ruling as “a victory for our privacy rights.”

Read more …

“..the pandemic stripped away the veneer of politics to reveal the boorish reality underneath: that some people have the power to tell the rest what to do.”

Capitalism Isn’t Working. Here’s An Alternative (Varoufakis)

Before 2020, politics seemed almost like a game, but with Covid came the realisation that governments everywhere possessed immense powers. The virus brought the 24-hour curfew, the closure of pubs, the ban on walking through parks, the suspension of sport, the emptying of theatres, the silencing of music venues. All notions of a minimal state mindful of its limits and eager to cede power to individuals went out of the window. Many salivated at this show of raw state power. Even free-marketeers, who had spent their lives shouting down any suggestion of even the most modest boost in public spending, demanded the sort of state control of the economy not seen since Leonid Brezhnev was running the Kremlin. Across the world, the state funded private firms’ wage bills, renationalised utilities and took shares in airlines, car makers, even banks. From the first week of lockdown, the pandemic stripped away the veneer of politics to reveal the boorish reality underneath: that some people have the power to tell the rest what to do.

[..] Suppose we had seized the 2008 moment to stage a peaceful hi-tech revolution that led to a postcapitalist economic democracy. What would it be like? To be desirable, it would feature markets for goods and services since the alternative – a Soviet-type rationing system that vests arbitrary power in the ugliest of bureaucrats – is too dreary for words. But to be crisis-proof, there is one market that market socialism cannot afford to feature: the labour market. Why? Because, once labour time has a rental price, the market mechanism inexorably pushes it down while commodifying every aspect of work (and, in the age of Facebook, our leisure too).

Can an advanced economy function without labour markets? Of course it can. Consider the principle of one-employee-one-share-one-vote underpinning a system that, in Another Now, I call corpo-syndicalism. Amending corporate law so as to turn every employee into an equal (though not equally remunerated) partner is as unimaginably radical today as universal suffrage was in the 19th century. In my blueprint, central banks provide every adult with a free bank account into which a fixed stipend (called universal basic dividend) is credited monthly. As everyone uses their central bank account to make domestic payments, most of the money minted by the central bank is transferred within its ledger. Additionally, the central bank grants all newborns a trust fund, to be used when they grow up.

People receive two types of income: the dividends credited into their central bank account and earnings from working in a corpo-syndicalist company. Neither are taxed, as there are no income or sales taxes. Instead, two types of taxes fund the government: a 5% tax on the raw revenues of the corpo-syndicalist firms; and proceeds from leasing land (which belongs in its entirety to the community) for private, time-limited, use.

Read more …

RIP

Eulogy to David Graeber (Steve Keen)

Oh David! @davidgraeber. . They say only the good die young, but why did you have to be one of them? There’s even more bullshit in the world now that you are no longer with us. It was a pleasure to know you, and it is a tragedy to say goodbye.


David was special for many, many reasons. The first I’ll mention is what I expect is the foundation of David’s appeal to Nika: his trusting innocence. There was a boyish openness and lack of ego in David that made you trust him, because you could. He was, at the same time, extremely intelligent and extremely funny. He had a nervy aspect, very befitting of someone raised in New York. But he was fundamentally funny, and looked on the world with a sense of bemusement, and all the while, incisive insight. He was intrinsically an anthropologist, in that he was capable of living amongst people and seeing their customs more clearly than they could themselves, while all the while celebrating those aspects, the good and the bad, because they were his people as well.

There was a selflessness to David too. There wasn’t an ounce of David’s body that was in it for David’s benefit alone. Well, he enjoyed his pleasures, but they could never be had at the expense of another person. That made him someone you could trust with your life. On top of that, he was an excellent if sometimes rambling speaker, whose charisma attracted support which was worth giving. David, I believe, came up with the slogan “We’re the 99%”. David, I believe, developed Occupy Wall Street’s voting system, which was a very powerful form of democracy that still respected the rights of the minority. He was a true leader in large part because he didn’t want to be.

He was also an excellent historian of money and debt. If you haven’t read Debt: the first 5000 Years, buy a copy and do so. It’s such a pity that David won’t be here to chronicle the start of its next 5000 Years. That’s the other thing: the suddenness. I knew David wasn’t feeling well—I’d exchanged a few messages with Nika where David’s health came up. Maybe it was Covid—I still don’t know. I won’t speculate. But it is so bloody awful to lose such a brilliant, lovely, funny, warm human being. It’s the unkindest cut of all that 2020 has managed to deliver.

Now we know why we speak of 20:20 vision, and 20:20 hindsight. We thought it was an ophthalmologist’s crazy numbering system. In fact, it was a warning from a time traveller.

Nassim Taleb – David Graeber

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

“As humans we are fragile biological entities who will die unless we take care of each other”

– David Graeber

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.