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.”

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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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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“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.

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“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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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 …

 

 

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Matriarch

 

 

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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 …

 

 

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“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

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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“..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.

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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

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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.

 

Jun 072020
 


Banksy June 2020

 

 

Coronavirus Shows Global Consequences Of China’s Local Censorship (SCMP)
More Than 140 Zuckerberg-Funded Scientists Want Facebook To Censor Trump (G.)
Cuba Sets Example With Successful Program To Contain Coronavirus (G.)
Brazil Govt Yanks Virus Death Toll As Data Befuddles Experts (AP)
China Would Make A Coronavirus Vaccine A ‘Global Public Good’ (R.)
FBI Pledge Allegiance to Black Lives Matter, Antifa (CTH)
Banksy: “It’s Not Their Problem, It’s Mine” (PA)
Walmart CEO Pledges $100 Million To Address Systemic Racism (Hill)
For Millennials And Women, The Jobs Report Was Catastrophic (ZH)
‘Never Say Never’ On ECB Buying Shares: Governing Council Member (R.)
Elmer Fudd Will Not Have A Gun In ‘Looney Tunes’ Reboot (Hill)
Mexico To Sit Out Extension Of OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts (R.)
DOJ, 50 State AGs Inn Push To Breakup Google’s Ad-Tech Dominance (ZH)
Judge In Epstein Grand Jury Case Has Ties To People Involved (Julie K. Brown)

 

 

The entire world increasingly retreats into echo chambers deeply buried in trenches, goaded onwards by mass value signaling and gaslighting. It is scary.

 

 

Total global cases surpassed 7,000,000.


Total global deaths surpassed 400,000.

 

 

Worldometer puts global new cases for June 5 at + 128,039.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is+ 132,816 cases.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,836
• Brazil + 30,488
• Russia + 8,984
• India + 10,086
• Pakistan + 4,960
• Chile + 5,246

 

 

Cases 7,004,814 (+ 132,816 from yesterday’s 6,871,728)

Deaths 402,665 (+ 4,002 from yesterday’s 398,663)

 

 

Note: Italy, Spain, France stripped out. They combine for 90,000 deaths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Interesting: other than in purely moral terms, to what degree does censorship hinder the world in finding a response to disasters like pandemics?

Coronavirus Shows Global Consequences Of China’s Local Censorship (SCMP)

China has the world’s highest number of internet users at over 854 million in 2019 according to the country’s Cyberspace Administration. However, its online world is confined within the so-called “Great Firewall”, and everything from criticism of the government to pornography is censored. Technology companies that run China’s social media platforms employ thousands of content moderators as censors and develop algorithms to prevent anything sensitive from being published or to quickly remove it, while foreign websites and social media platforms such Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are blocked.

[..] About 19 posts per 1,000 were removed – almost 700 from 37,226 – when China’s Centres for Disease Control published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 29 that indicated officials knew of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 earlier than admitted. The authorities had previously claimed there was no evidence of human-to-human spread of the disease “so that’s why this was the top grievance”, Fu said. “There were a lot of people complaining and reacting to that paper.” News of the coronavirus became public on December 30, 2019, after screenshots from doctors’ chat groups warning about an unknown respiratory illness spread online. But police reprimanded some of the doctors who tried to raise the alarm, including Li Wenliang who later died from the disease, prompting a huge outpouring of public grief and anger.

Li’s death on February 7 prompted another spike in censorship with three posts per 1,000 – 117 out of 40,232 – relating to the topic being censored that day. Again, Fu said, what seemed like a low number was explained by the huge amount of posts and the fact that many would not have been detected by Weiboscope because they did not mention Li’s name to avoid the censors. Independent journalists have also been targeted, and two citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are still missing after they disappeared in February after reporting from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in China.

Research published in the journal Nature last month estimated that if strong intervention had been taken against Covid-19 in China a week earlier, cases could have been “dramatically reduced” by 66 per cent. Acting three weeks earlier, at the start of January, would have reduced the number of cases by 95 per cent, according to the paper by scientists from China, the United States and Britain. “Early warnings allow governments to take early action,” Fu said. “We find evidence that social media posts including early warnings to the public were censored especially in the early stage of the pandemic.”

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Would they like their own work censored as well? Or just the people they don’t agree with?

More Than 140 Zuckerberg-Funded Scientists Want Facebook To Censor Trump (G.)

More than 140 scientists funded by Mark Zuckerberg have said Facebook should not be letting Donald Trump use the social media platform to “spread both misinformation and incendiary statements”. The researchers, who include more than 60 professors at leading US research institutions and one Nobel laureate, sent the Facebook CEO a letter on Saturday asking him to “consider stricter policies on misinformation and incendiary language that harms people”, especially during the current turmoil over racial injustice. The letter calls the spread of “deliberate misinformation and divisive language” contrary to the researchers’ goals of using technology to prevent and eradicate disease, improve childhood education and reform the criminal justice system.

Their mission “is antithetical to some of the stances that Facebook has been taking, so we’re encouraging them to be more on the side of truth and on the right side of history, as we’ve said in the letter”, said Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School, one of three professors who organized it. The others are Martin Kampmann of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jason Shepherd of the University of Utah. All have grants from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program working to prevent, cure and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They said the letter had more than 160 signatories. Shepherd said about 10% were employees of foundations run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.


The letter objects specifically to Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on a post by Trump that stated “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The letter’s authors called the post “a clear statement of inciting violence”.

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“..tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.”

Cuba Sets Example With Successful Program To Contain Coronavirus (G.)

The World Health Organization has identified Latin America as the new centre for coronavirus pandemic, but over the last two months, cases in Cuba have fallen. Cubans are now 24 times less likely to catch the virus than Dominicans, 27 times less likely to catch it than Mexicans, and more than 70 times less likely to be infected than Brazilians. Desperate for tourist revenue, Cuba closed its border later than most other countries in the region. But ever since the communist-ruled island shut out the outside world in late March, it has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the virus. The state has commanded tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.


That means that from Monday to Sunday, Dr Caballero and her medical students must walk for miles, monitoring the 328 families on her beat. “There’s no other country in the hemisphere that does anything approaching this,” said William Leogrande, professor of government at American University in Washington DC. “The whole organization of their healthcare system is to be in close touch with the population, identify health problems as they emerge, and deal with them immediately. “We know scientifically that quick identification of cases, contact tracing and quarantine are the only way to contain the virus in the absence of a vaccine – and because it begins with prevention, the Cuban health system is perfectly suited to carry out that containment strategy.”

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Johns Hopkins depended on those numbers. Don’t know about Worldometer.

Brazil Govt Yanks Virus Death Toll As Data Befuddles Experts (AP)

Brazil’s government has stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics call an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation. The Saturday move came after months of criticism from experts saying Brazil’s statistics are woefully deficient, and in some cases manipulated, so it may never be possible to gain a real understanding of the depth of the pandemic in the country. Brazil’s last official numbers showed it had recorded over 34,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world, just ahead of Italy. It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it at the second-highest, behind the United States. Brazil, with about 210 million people, is the globe’s seventh most populous nation.

On Friday, the federal Health Ministry took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states. On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site now shows only the numbers for the previous 24 hours. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted Saturday that disease totals are “not representative” of the country’s current situation. A Bolsonaro ally contended to the newspaper O Globo that at least some states providing figures to the Health Ministry had sent falsified data, implying that they were exaggerating the toll. Carlos Wizard, a businessman expected to assume a high-level post in the Health Ministry, said the federal government would be conducting a review intended to determine a “more accurate” toll.


[..] A council of state health secretaries said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the pandemic. “The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries council said Saturday.

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US Senator Scott says they’ll do the opposite, even hinder western attempts at a vaccine.

China Would Make A Coronavirus Vaccine A ‘Global Public Good’ (R.)

China will increase international cooperation if it succeeds in developing a novel coronavirus vaccine, the science and technology minister said on Sunday. China would make a vaccine a “global public good” when it is ready, the minister, Wang Zhigang, told a news conference in Beijing.

[..] China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.


Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference in Beijing. But vaccine development is very difficult and takes time, he said, when asked how China would initially prioritise shots by country when a vaccine is found. “The rigour of vaccine development has been compared by some scientists to a dance involving precise steps and rehearsals,” Wang said.

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How right wing America views the issue. They feel betrayed by the FBI because of Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, Russiagate and the impeachment fiasco.

FBI Pledge Allegiance to Black Lives Matter, Antifa (CTH)

In a display of public unity with ‘The Movement’ writ large, FBI officials took a knee to declare their woke allegiance with the protesting mobs. With that visible display we now have a better understanding of the motives behind a history of FBI failures. Setting aside the optic that some members of the FBI looking more like ‘meal-team-6’, there was always a suspicion the FBI were more concerned about political correctness than actually doing the work of a federal investigative agency. Historically the FBI has failed miserably to stop domestic terror threats; and when the investigative failures are researched there’s usually a prior connection between the attackers and the FBI.

The father of the Orlando Pulse nightclub terrorist, Omar Mateen, was a guy named Seddique Mateen (you might remember seeing him at the Hillary Clinton rally). After Omar killed 49 people it was discovered that Seddique had been an FBI informant for over eleven years (2005 to 2016). Similarly, after the Parkland school shooting, it was discovered the FBI was fully aware of Nikolas Cruz, yet again they had taken no action. The exact same scenario had played out several years earlier when the FBI was warned about the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon Bombing 2013 and yet they did nothing to stop it.


The FBI is now a political agency with police powers within the federal government. The activity of Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, James Comey, Andrew McCabe and a host of very familiar names has shown just how important politics is within the institution. Indeed, as we saw in the ridiculous Hillary Clinton investigation, politics was the prism for every decision; and protecting their ideological tribe was the biggest concern within the agency. Understanding the sensitivity behind the FBI to the Muslim community; a sensitivity almost identical to the expressed position of the democrat party apparatus; it should not come as a big surprise to see FBI agents ignoring terror threats and simultaneously taking a knee to show their allegiance with Black Lives Matter.

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The headline the Guardian used for this PA Media piece is “Banksy Supports Black Lives Matter With Latest Artwork”. But he doesn’t, or we don’t know if he does, not from his words. He supports black people, not some movement.

Banksy: “It’s Not Their Problem, It’s Mine” (PA)

Banksy has shown his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system”. The graffiti artist wrote in an Instagram post: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine. “People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. “This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”

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Walmart supports black people. What a joke that is.

A single Tweet says it all: “Walmart is the largest private employer of Black people in the US, is viciously anti-union, and pays poverty wages..”

Walmart CEO Pledges $100 Million To Address Systemic Racism (Hill)

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is pledging to donate $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died as a result of an arrest by Minneapolis police. In an email to employees Friday, McMillon condemned racial violence and said the company plans to make changes to fight for greater racial equity inside and outside of Walmart. “The global health crisis has tested all of us in recent months, and the racial violence in the U.S.— in particular, the murder of George Floyd — is tragic, painful and unacceptable,” McMillon wrote in the email. The Walmart CEO laid out several initiatives the company will undertake, including making the recruitment, development and support of African Americans inside the company “even more of a priority.”


The company will also invest in improving fairness, equity and justice in society broadly. “We will find the natural overlaps between Walmart’s core business and society’s larger needs that perpetuate racism and discrimination,” McMillon wrote. “Specifically, we’re going to focus the power of Walmart on our nation’s financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice systems.” McMillon said the center focused on racial equity “will seek to advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system.”

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Trump is so eager to praise the headline numbers that he forgets they are nonsense, and misses the opportunity to tell people to try harder.

For Millennials And Women, The Jobs Report Was Catastrophic (ZH)

There were clear problems with Friday’s “incredible” – as Trump put it – jobs report. First and foremost the BLS’ own admission there was a “survey error” which may have reduced the real unemployment rate by up to 3% as survey-takers mistakenly counted about 4.9 million temporarily laid-off people as employed, then moving through some very aggressive statistical assumption revisions to boost the “birth/death” model, the curious case of millions of “jobs” resurrected temporarily thanks to the PPP program: as recruitment firm LaSalle Network head Tom Gimbel said, today’s jobs report may offer a “false ray of light” because almost all job gains stemmed from furloughed employees kept on the books due to PPP loans (he said he was seeing real weakness in new hiring).


But even if one accepts the report at its face, if one digs beneath the glossy veneer, the details are anything but “incredible” as described by the president. Start with Trump’s “incredible” V-shaped rebound: after the 2.5mm new jobs added, total US employment is basically where it was at the depth of the financial crisis, while 21 million workers find themselves unemployed – this number was 6 million just two months ago. Putting that number in context, with roughly 133 million employed workers, there are a record 102 million Americans who are not in the labor force, of whom 92.7 million don’t even want a job.

Among those who were lucky enough to remain in the work force, millions were shifted from full to part-time.

[..] And here is the catalyst for the next round of social discontent: women unemployment is now far higher than that of men after being roughly the same before covid: how long before accusation of rampant employer sexism are the next big thing?

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Dangerous because clueless. Trying to revive the past, because that’s what got him his job.

‘Never Say Never’ On ECB Buying Shares: Governing Council Member (R.)

“Never say never” on the European Central Bank one day buying shares rather than government or corporate bonds, but it has not discussed the idea yet, ECB Governing Council member Robert Holzmann said in comments published on Sunday. The ECB on Thursday announced a bigger-than-expected expansion of its stimulus package to prop up an economy plunged by the coronavirus pandemic into its worst recession since World War Two. Holzmann took over as head of the Austrian National Bank just last year but has already been outspoken on various issues, calling for the ECB to lower its often-undershot inflation target and warning against negative rates. He also says he initially suggested that Thursday’s decision be put off.


“Never say never. If the need is there, this discussion will definitely have to take place. But currently that discussion does not exist,” Holzmann told newspaper Die Presse when asked if the ECB could start buying shares. On lowering the inflation target from just under 2%, Holzmann said he could still change his stance in a discussion that the ECB has pushed back because of the pandemic. “If it is difficult to get from 1.5% to 1.9%, then in a time of low inflation expectations one can also set oneself a different target, although I myself have not yet formed a final opinion here,” Holzmann said. “The fundamental discussion on ECB strategy has been postponed because of the crisis and should be taken up again as of the summer,” he added.

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How to make guns magically disappear.

Elmer Fudd Will Not Have A Gun In ‘Looney Tunes’ Reboot (Hill)

In a new series based on the beloved “Looney Tunes” cartoons, the classic character Elmer Fudd will no longer carry a gun. The new series “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” which premiered last week on the streaming service HBO Max, will feature the cartoon’s characteristic violence – using sticks of dynamite, booby traps and the iconic anvils and bank safes dropped onto characters, The New York Times reported last week. However, Peter Browngardt, the series executive producer and showrunner, told the outlet, “We’re not doing guns.” “But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in,” Browngardt told the outlet.


Elmer Fudd is regularly foiled trying to hunt Bugs Bunny on the show. In the new series, the character will carry a scythe. However, comics artist Johnny Ryan, who worked on the show, noted to the Times that he believes “We’re going through this wave of anti-bullying, everybody needs to be friends, everybody needs to get along.” “‘Looney Tunes’ is pretty much the antithesis of that,” he said. “It’s two characters in conflict, sometimes getting pretty violent.”

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OPEC+ meets COVID19. That was nnever going to be smooth.

Mexico To Sit Out Extension Of OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts (R.)

Mexico will not join other top oil producers in extending through July output cuts aimed at propping up the price of crude, Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said on Saturday. Made up of OPEC members and allies led by Russia, the group known as OPEC+ agreed in April to cut oil supply by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June to support prices. Under that deal, Mexico pledged to reduce its crude output by 100,000 bpd in May and June, after resisting pressure from other oil producers to make cuts of 400,000 bpd. The cuts had been due to taper to 7.7 million bpd from July to December, but on Saturday, OPEC+ agreed to extend the production cuts until the end of July.


Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to ramp up the country’s crude oil production, said on Friday that Mexico was not in a position to make additional cuts on top of what it had agreed in April. His energy minister Rocio Nahle confirmed Mexico would not participate in the fresh cuts agreed on Saturday. “There are other countries that extended their cuts to July, in this case we said no, we’ll stick to the agreement that we signed in April,” she told reporters in the eastern state of Veracruz. “There’s no problem.”

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They’re going to frustrate the CIA? I’ll believe it when I see it.

DOJ, 50 State AGs Inn Push To Breakup Google’s Ad-Tech Dominance (ZH)

In what would be a monumental move — and we might ad good for independent media breaking the shackles of the mainstream’s ongoing attempts to police content and punish dissent — Google’s total dominance over online advertising could soon come to an end. CNBC revealed Friday that no less than 50 sate attorneys general have been investigating Google’s business practices as part of a months long probe alongside a parallel DOJ effort, and momentum is gaining toward a looming major antitrust lawsuit against the internet giant. Leading the probe among the states is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who did not comment in Friday’s CNBC report.

Google, however, did respond, with a Google spokesperson rebutting with, “The facts are clear, our digital advertising products compete across a crowded industry with hundreds of rivals and technologies, and have helped lower costs for advertisers and consumers.” President Trump has lately put big tech in the spotlight over allegations of targeted censorship of conservative content, lately signing an executive order which seeks to reduce liability protections of major internet companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Independent and alternative voices have also long complained of being demonetized or unfairly targeted for analysis and commentary falling outside of accepted ‘groupthink’.


It remains that the bulk of Google’s some $161 billion in revenue comes via ad sales, with a far smaller amount coming through products the tech giant and its parent company Alphabet Inc. are traditionally known for: software and technology. CNBC summarizes what’s at stake as follows: “Critics have said that Google bundles its ad tools so that rivals can’t afford to match its offerings and that its operation of search results, YouTube, Gmail and other services to hinder ad competition. They also say that Google owns all sides of the “auction exchange” through which ads are sold and bought, giving it an unfair advantage.” But a key legal obstacle the courts would have to consider is the fact that Google’s ad group doesn’t function as a stand alone business, but is made up of Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager.

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Julie K. Brown at the Miami herald is back. Worse than any fantasy, or book, or movie.

Judge In Epstein Grand Jury Case Has Ties To People Involved (Julie K. Brown)

The Palm Beach judge who has thus far refused to release grand jury records in the Jeffrey Epstein case has both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who have a stake in keeping those records secret, the Miami Herald has learned. Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.

Special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to court in January to unseal records of Krischer’s secret 2006 state grand jury presentment in the case. Prosecutors wanted to examine whether Krischer’s office told the panel the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors kept key evidence from the grand jury. The grand jury returned a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, who later managed to negotiate a lenient plea deal, resulting in him serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail, much of at his lavish office in West Palm Beach, thanks to generous work-release provisions.

Last year, following a series of stories in the Miami Herald detailing the machinations behind Epstein’s plea deal, DeSantis ordered a state criminal probe focusing on Krischer’s decision not to prosecute and on Bradshaw’s role in helping Epstein maintain an opulent lifestyle — including having sex with women — while subject to sheriff’s custody on sex charges. But Marx in January rejected the criminal prosecutors’ effort to unseal the grand jury records, calling it a “fishing expedition.’’ Then on Wednesday, she rebuffed a similar request by attorneys representing the Post, who sued Aronberg, and the county clerk, Sharon Bock, for release of the records.

Marx was dismissive of the Post’s lawsuit against Aronberg, who has denied he has custody of the grand jury records; and Bock, who has custody of the records but won’t release them without a court order. Marx, however, did not disclose from the bench that Krischer was her former boss, that her daughter works for Aronberg as an assistant state attorney and that her son works for Bradshaw as a sheriff’s deputy. Marx’s husband, Palm Beach County Judge Joe Marx, has a disclosure on his county web page stating he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. Krista Marx’s county web page does not have such a disclosure.

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Vincent van Gogh Weeping woman 1883

 

‘I’m Slowly Dying Here’: Julian Assange in Christmas Eve Call (RT)
US Chief Justice Warns Of Internet Disinformation (R.)
Taiwan Anti-Infiltration Bill Passed As Opposition Lawmakers Protest (SCMP)
Taiwan Leader Rejects China’s Offer To Unify Under Hong Kong Model (R.)
Sydney House Prices Set To Top $1 Million Again (SMH)
Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money (Lacalle)
Google Veterans: The Company Has Become ‘Unrecognizable’ (CNBC)
Should Racists Get Health Care? (Ron Paul)
Coyotes Take Up Residence At Trump’s New York City Golf Course (G.)
Earthshot: William And Kate Launch Prize To ‘Repair The Earth’ (BBC)

 

 

Happy New Year Julian! May your nightmare come to an end in 2020.

‘I’m Slowly Dying Here’: Julian Assange in Christmas Eve Call (RT)

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged. Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete. “I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’ “His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him” Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion. Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.


“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.” [..] Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

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Shouldn’t he be warning about the NYT, WaPo instead? Just because he reads them every day doesn’t make them any less dangerous. The opposite, really.

US Chief Justice Warns Of Internet Disinformation (R.)

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern on Tuesday about disinformation amplified by the internet and social media as he focused his year-end report on the weakening state of civics education in the United States. “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” Roberts said in his annual report on behalf of the federal judiciary. The chief justice warned that Americans “have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside.” Roberts’ comments come as U.S. legislators and officials have raised concerns about the persistence of foreign propaganda and false news aimed at sowing discord in the U.S. political system in the lead-up to the 2020 election.


U.S. intelligence agencies and an inquiry by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that Russia engaged in a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sway the 2016 presidential race toward Republican President Donald Trump. Mueller did not establish that members of Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election. Roberts said in his report that an independent judiciary was a “key source of national unity and stability” and called on his judicial colleagues to promote public confidence and trust by reflecting on their duty to judge without fear or favor. He has previously lamented the perception in an increasingly polarized society that lower courts and the Supreme Court are becoming politicized, and that judges are guided primarily by their partisan affiliations.

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Quite a few Taiwanese support the mainland.

Taiwan Anti-Infiltration Bill Passed As Opposition Lawmakers Protest (SCMP)

Taiwan’s independence-leaning lawmakers have pushed through a controversial bill in the final legislative session of the year that critics say could have a chilling effect on the self-ruled island and worsen ties with Beijing. The anti-infiltration bill, which criminalises political activities backed or funded by “hostile external forces” – referring to mainland China – was passed by the Democratic Progressive Party-controlled legislature after it was put to a vote on Tuesday. “The voting result shows 67 of those present in favour of passing the bill against zero opposing it,” legislative speaker Su Jia-chyuan said in an announcement afterwards.

Opposition politicians, including those from the mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), had strongly criticised the bill, saying it was a move by President Tsai Ing-wen and her government to silence dissent ahead of elections on January 11. The ruling DPP said the legislation aimed to combat efforts by Beijing to influence politics and the democratic process on the island, including through illicit funding of politicians, and the media. After the vote, Tsai said in a Facebook post that “preventing Chinese infiltration is what every diplomatic country is doing”. “Chinese infiltration of Taiwan is of great concern to the society here, and the law is against infiltration but not against exchanges,” she said.


[..] Analysts said the legislation could have a chilling effect on Taiwan. “Many Taiwanese people – including academics, politicians and businesspeople – receive gifts or are entertained by mainland authorities during their visits,” said Wang Kung-yi, a political science professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei. “This may create a chilling effect and it will only further hamper cross-strait exchanges.” Chu Chao-hsiang, a political science professor at National Taiwan Normal University, said a chilling effect caused by the legislation would potentially mean lost opportunities for the island as businesses turned away from the mainland. “Many overseas subsidiaries of mainland companies have investments in Taiwan. If they send funds to their Taiwanese executives in Taiwan to carry out certain investment projects, would this be seen as receiving funds and instructions from the mainland?” he said.

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Wonder what Hong Kong model they have in mind.

Taiwan Leader Rejects China’s Offer To Unify Under Hong Kong Model (R.)

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday the island would not accept a “one country, two systems” political formula Beijing has suggested could be used to unify the democratic island, saying such an arrangement had failed in Hong Kong. China claims Taiwan as its territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary. Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name. Tsai, who’s seeking re-election in a Jan. 11 vote, also vowed in a New Year’s speech to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, saying her government would build a mechanism to safeguard freedom and democracy as Beijing ramps up pressure on the island.


Fear of China has become a major element in the campaign, boosted by months of anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong. “Hong Kong people have showed us that ‘one country, two systems’ is definitely not feasible,” Tsai said, referring to the political arrangement that guaranteed certain freedoms in the former British colony of Hong Kong after it was returned to China in 1997. “Under ‘one country, two systems’, the situation continues to deteriorate in Hong Kong. The credibility of ‘one country, two systems’ has been sullied by the government’s abuse of power,” Tsai said.

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A very fitting topic as 500,000 wildlife have burned to death.

Sydney House Prices Set To Top $1 Million Again (SMH)

Sydney house owners are set to become millionaires again in February, mortgages allowing. The typical Sydney free-standing home was worth $974,000 as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, according to an exclusive preview of key home price data due to be released by CoreLogic on Thursday. The median Sydney unit was worth $746,000. The value of a typical Sydney free-standing house tumbled from peak of $1,060,000 in July 2017 to $865,000 in June 2019. But a combination of interest rate cuts and an easing of loan serviceability tests reignited Sydney’s property market in the second half of 2019.


One day before the end of 2019, preliminary figures provided to The Sydney Morning Herald by CoreLogic’s head of research, Tim Lawless, show Sydney dwelling prices rose 5.3 per cent in 2019, after an 8.9 per cent fall in 2018. “It’s been quite a turnaround,” Mr Lawless said. “Prices have rebounded much faster than anyone would have expected.” In December alone, prices gained a little over 1.5 per cent. This was a slight slowing in the pace of price growth from November’s 2.7 per cent monthly gain, which was the fastest rate of growth since records began in the 1980s. “It’s still a very strong rate of growth, but a step down from November,” Mr Lawless said. “What was probably slowing that rate of growth down a little bit was we did start seeing a bit more stock, giving buyers a bit more choice.”

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A few days old, I think, but there’s a direct link to those Sydney home prices.

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money (Lacalle)

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists who start from a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea. Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, perpetuating overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity and zombifying the economy by subsidizing the low productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it, they do not strengthen the credit capacity of families, because the prices of non-replicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrocket because of monetary excess, and the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk. Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money. It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending.


They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, that come from using 2001-2007 as “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble. The argument of the central planners is based on an inconsistency: That rates are negative because markets demand them, not because they are imposed by the central bank. If that were the case, why don’t they let rates float freely if the result was going to be the same? Because it is false. [..] Negative rates are a huge transfer of wealth from savers and real wages to the government and the indebted. A tax on caution. The destruction of the perception of risk that always benefits the most reckless. The bailout of the inefficient.

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It’s part of the CIA now.

Google Veterans: The Company Has Become ‘Unrecognizable’ (CNBC)

When Google co-founders Larry Page and President Sergey Brin stepped down from their roles as CEO and president of Google holding company Alphabet earlier this month, it marked the end of an era. While it’s unclear what prompted the two to leave their formal management positions, longtime employees, many of whom also left the company this year, described to CNBC a massive cultural shift that percolated throughout 2019. They cited changes to Google’s all-hands meetings, human resources processes and transparency from management. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in October admitted the company’s challenge in scaling the trust of its own workforce which numbers more than 100,000 people.

More recently, Lazlo Bock, former director of human resources for Google, told Bloomberg that he thinks Alphabet is “a different company than it used to be” but that “not everyone’s gotten the memo.” The change has been noticed by some on the outside, too. “What the hell is going on over there?” tweeted Andreessen Horowitz partner Martin Casado over the summer. “The brain drain at Google right now is astonishing.” Workers told CNBC that 2018 was a pivotal point in the company’s shift away from upfront communication. That was when news of Project Dragonfly, a secret Google plan to develop a censored search engine for possible rollout in China, first broke in The Intercept. Internally, the existence of the project had been kept on a need-to-know basis.


The company later canceled Project Dragonfly after employees expressed concern over the secrecy of the project. Some workers left the company altogether. “There’s no way a few years before, they would have had a secret project with these kinds of ethical concerns,” said Raph Levien, a former level 6 engineer who left Google after 11 years. “It crossed the line and felt misleading. It definitely felt like this was Google changing.”

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Must a society’s health care be measured by perceptions of big bad goverment? Do we remember how societies used to build bridges and roads et al? If your govenment doesn’t serve your society, replace it, don’t sell off all your community assets.

Should Racists Get Health Care? (Ron Paul)

Political correctness recently took a dangerous turn in the United Kingdom when the North Bristol National Health Service Trust announced that hospital patients who use offensive, racist, or sexist language will cease receiving medical care as soon as it is safe to end their treatment. The condition that treatment will not be withdrawn until doing so is safe seems to imply that no one will actually suffer from this policy. However, health-care providers have great discretion to determine when it is “safe” to withhold treatment. So, patients could be left with chronic pain or be denied certain procedures that could improve their health but are not necessary to make them “safe.” Patients accused of racism or sexism could also find themselves at the bottom of the NHS’s infamous “waiting lists,” unable to receive treatment until it truly is a matter of life and death.

Since many people define racism and sexism as “anything I disagree with,” the new policy will no doubt lead to people being denied medical care for statements that most reasonable people would consider unobjectionable. This is not the first time NHS has withheld treatment because of an individual’s behavior. A couple years ago, another local health committee announced it would withhold routine or nonemergency surgeries from smokers and the obese. Since reducing smoking and obesity benefits both individual patients and the health care system as a whole, this policy may appear defensible. But denying or delaying care violates medical ethics and sets a dangerous precedent. If treatment could be denied to smokers and the obese, then it could also be denied to those who engage in promiscuous sex, drive over the speed limit, don’t get the “proper” number of vaccinations for themselves and their children, or have “dangerous” political views.


Government bureaucrats denying care to individuals for arbitrary reasons is the inevitable result of government interference in the health-care market. Government intervention is supposed to ensure quality and affordable (or free) care for all. But, government intervention artificially lowers the costs of health care to patients while increasing costs to providers. As demand rises and supply falls, government imposes rationing to address the shortages and other problems caused by prior government interference. Rationing has been part of American health care at least since the passage of the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973. Every plan to expand government’s role in health care contains some form of rationing.

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Take any story at all and see if you can inject Trump. Because that sells. Journalism today.

Nor is this a new thing. 10 years ago off of the farm near Ottawa, there were always coyotes howling in the woods.

Coyotes Take Up Residence At Trump’s New York City Golf Course (G.)

Donald Trump has a $269m golf course in New York City that is regularly prowled by feared, largely nocturnal individuals that instinctively prey upon those they deem smaller and weaker. We are, of course, talking about coyotes. The shrewd canines have spread so far from their ranges in the western US that they are now making unlikely homes in cities on the east coast, including beside the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a landscaped sward frequented by visor- and chino-wearing golfers in the faintly incongruous setting of the Bronx. “The staff at the golf course think the coyotes are cool,” said Chris Nagy, a wildlife biologist and co-founder of Gotham Coyote, a collaboration of researchers who study coyotes in New York. “But there’s a point where if the coyotes are getting annoying and worrying the golfers, then they’ll change their minds.”

As humanity chews through landscapes for housing, farming, roads and mining, ecologists have warned of the Earth’s sixth great extinction, with about a million species now endangered. But some creatures have proved flexible in the face of this onslaught, even blossoming in the new circumstances. Coyotes, unfussy eaters that can cover large distances in search of a suitable home, are one of the winners in this denuded age. Cities like New York and Detroit, where redevelopment or economic blight has left urban sites bereft of humans, are increasingly being colonized by coyotes, as well as other opportunists such as raccoons, opossums and even bobcats. Researchers have found a riot of non-human carnivores dwelling in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington DC.


[..] “We’re finding coyotes like almost everything or at least can survive on almost everything,” Nagy said as he trudged through the scrub and reeds in search of the Ferry Point camera trap. “A pack of wolves would need, like, the whole county. But not coyotes. They’ve lived kind of underfoot of both wolves and people for thousands of years. And so they’ve evolved to survive metaphorically running among the feet of the giants. “They’re my favorite animal. And I liked them before I started studying them. They’re clever. We’ve tried our best to eradicate them and they’ve thwarted us at every turn. I really admire that, I guess.”

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Between these hollow drips, Greta in Davos and Carney as the UN climate go-to finance guy, 2020 could well be the year when the entire movement dies of good but misguided intentions. If you turn to the billionaires to solve the issue, they will instead end up purchasing it and selling it off for profit.

Earthshot: William And Kate Launch Prize To ‘Repair The Earth’ (BBC)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced a global prize to tackle climate issues, pledging “a decade of action to repair the Earth”. Five winners will receive the Earthshot Prize every year between 2021 and 2030. The cash prize will be for individuals or organisations who come up with solutions to environmental problems. Prince William said the world faces a “stark choice” to continue “irreparably” damaging the planet or “lead, innovate and problem-solve”. The announcement was made in a video narrated by Sir David Attenborough posted on social media. The veteran broadcaster and naturalist said the prize would go to “visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time”.


The prize is set to launch officially later in 2020 – a year that will also see the Convention on Biodiversity in China in February and the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November. A series of challenges will be announced, aimed at finding least 50 solutions to the “world’s greatest problems” including climate change and air pollution. More than 60 organisations and experts were consulted in the development the prize. It will initially be run by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but could become an independent organisation. Kensington Palace said it would be supported by philanthropists and organisations.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Top of the page, left and right sidebars. Thank you.

 

Sep 242019
 
 September 24, 2019  Posted by at 9:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Clovis Gauguin asleep 1884

 

Why Repo Is Such a Big Deal, and Its $400 Billion Bailout So Unnerving (Fort.)
Interest Rate Business Model is Dead (Welt)
Discord At The Top Is Bad For The ECB (MW)
Boris Johnson Refuses To Rule Out Suspending Parliament Again (G.)
UK Labour Party Remains Split Over EU (CNBC)
The Odor of Desperation (Kunstler)
Why Is The Media Circling The Wagons To Protect Hunter Biden? (NYPost Ed.)
Democrats Were First To Enlist Ukraine In US Elections (Solomon)
Democrats Announce Tighter Criteria For Fifth Presidential Debate (R.)
Google Wins Landmark Right-To-Be-Forgotten Case In Europe (BBC)
US Government Moves To Block Alleged Drone Whistleblower’s Defense (SProof)

 

 

2 things:

1) the UK Supreme Court ruling on prorogation will come too late to include here.

2) I’m sorry that Greta Thunberg made me feel queasy yesterday. I know she means well, but it all came out very strangely in her speech. Could hardly bear to watch it. Who’s pushing her? To Davos first, and now the UN?

 

 

“..any counter-party in need of cash, and only holding collateral like Treasuries, agreed to pay the much higher going repo rates. That’s supply and demand..”

Why Repo Is Such a Big Deal, and Its $400 Billion Bailout So Unnerving (Fort.)

Repos (short for repurchase agreements) are short-term borrowing transactions, often made overnight. Think of them as trades of cash for some kind of collateral. In a repo transaction, the borrower will sell certain securities in their possession with the agreement to buy them back the next day. If the transaction is not rolled over, then the trade has to be settled the following day, with the borrower repurchasing the collateral from the lender for slightly more than it had previously sold it for, compensating the lender with interest for taking on the risk. Large corporations and banks typically hold vast quantities of highly liquid financial assets, and so they like using these markets as a means of quick and easy financing.

In fact, there are more than $1 trillion worth of overnight repo transactions collateralized with US government debt occurring every day. Banks frequently go to these markets to fund the loans they issue, and to finance the trades they execute. That’s when it’s working smoothly. The repo market seized up last week, with median repurchase rates skyrocketing from their usual band of 2.00-2.25% to 2.46% on Monday, and 5.25% on Tuesday. Keep in mind, that’s the median rate. Some repo rates were as high as 9%, more than quadruple the Federal Reserve’s own target rate, which usually puts a cap on how high Treasury repo rates could climb.

An unlucky confluence of events, including an exceptionally large demand for cash from U.S. companies that needed to pay their corporate tax bills, sucked a lot of the available cash out of the financial markets. What happened last week was any counter-party in need of cash, and only holding collateral like Treasuries, agreed to pay the much higher going repo rates. That’s supply and demand, plain and simple, and it mirrors what happened in certain repo markets in 2007 before the housing crash and the Great Recession that followed.

Read more …

This is from an article by Anne Kunz and Holger Zschäpitz for Die Welt. Mish ran a Google translate which he corrected later.

I must say, the impression is too strong that Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are in trouble only because of Draghi. That is simply not true.

And banks are not the main victims of low rates, savers and pensioners are.

Interest Rate Business Model is Dead (Welt)

The cash cow bank lending model is dead, buried by the European Central Bank (ECB). The coup de grace came at the recent meeting. As ECB President Mario Draghi squeezed the negative interest rate for banks even deeper. The ECB will restart its bond purchase program in November. This time, without a time limit. Thus, the monetary authorities have permanently chained the long-term interest rate at a low level and cut the profit opportunities of the financial sector to a level that isn’t sustainable. For a long time, institutions have made good money from the difference between long-term and short-term interest rates.That time is now over.

In 2016, Commerzbank employed more than 50,000 people. CEO Martin Zielke wants to close one-fifth of the 1,000 branches and even wants to part with an important source of income including his Polish subsidiary MBank. The workforce should be reduced to around 38,000 by the end of 2020. The sale of Mbank is a desperate attempt at salvation. In terms of stock market value, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are now loosely hanged even by more regionally active institutions from Norway and Sweden. [That is a direct translation that reads wrong but I do not know how to fix it]. Even the once proud Landesbanken is a restructuring case. This is a dangerous development.

“With the allowance, the ECB has relieved the German banks in the short term by around 500 million euros. At the same time, banks will be burdened considerably by the continuation of the low interest rates for an indefinite period, “says Peter Barkow, financial expert at Barkow Consulting. “Especially the German banks are very much dependent on income from the long-term investment of customer deposits at higher interest rates, called maturity transformation. This strategy only works very limited, “warns the expert. [The allowance refers to the ECB not charging banks a portion of the negative interest on excess reserves]

However, the corresponding earnings impact on the banks will only be delayed. “Many German banks have to find new sources of income in the medium term. In the short term, a further reduction in costs will probably be necessary, “says Barkow. For more than a hundred years, banks lived on long-term lending or investing in securities their clients entrusted to them in the short term. Historically, banks made money out of time. If time no longer has a price, because there is no more interest, nothing can be earned. Ten-year Bunds yielded around 1.5 percentage points more than two-year issues in historical terms. Currently, the difference is just under 0.2 percentage points.

Read more …

Depends on Lagarde.

Discord At The Top Is Bad For The ECB (MW)

The ECB on September 12 launched a new round of monetary easing, arguing that the decline of inflation expectations in the eurozone, triggered by the current economic slowdown, is throwing further doubt on its ability to reach its official target of “below but close to 2%”. The central bank not only resumed its asset purchases while lowering its key interest rate to minus 0.5%: It also, for the first time, declined to set a date for the end of the program, indicating only that it would be phased out once inflation is “robustly” back on the 2% track. The decision came after a heated debate on the governing council, which includes the 19 central bankers from the monetary union’s member countries and the ECB’s six-strong executive board. Even traditional doves, such as the council’s two French members, argued against the resumption of the bond-buying program.

As soon as the decision was announced, the fiercest opponents to the package went public with their frustration. German central bank President Jens Weidmann told the newspaper Bild that the package was “unnecessary.” The day before, the same newspaper had accused Draghi, dubbed “Count Draghila,” of “sucking dry” the accounts of German savers. Austrian central bank head Robert Holzmann told Bloomberg the package “may have been a mistake.” And Klaas Knot, the Dutch central bank chief, added that the package was “disproportionate.” The loose monetary policies initiated by ECB President Mario Draghi in the summer of 2012, less than a year after he took office, were always reluctantly accepted by eurozone central’s most hawkish members, even when they occasionally voted for some of the measures — such as the first round of bond-buying, back in 2014.

But it is the first time that the relative confidentiality of the governing council’s deliberations has turned into such a public airing of dirty monetary laundry.

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“..Johnson also categorically ruled out any sort of deal with Nigel Farage’s Brexit party..”

Boris Johnson Refuses To Rule Out Suspending Parliament Again (G.)

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out suspending parliament again if the supreme court rules on Tuesday that he abused his powers as prime minister in doing so earlier this month. The British prime minister, who is in New York for a UN summit, also indicated he would not feel obliged to resign if the justices rule he misled the Queen in his reasons for suspending parliament. Asked if he felt a verdict going against him would make his position untenable, Johnson said: “No. I think the reasons for wanting a Queen’s speech are extremely good.” Speaking to reporters, Johnson also categorically ruled out any sort of deal with Nigel Farage’s Brexit party in the likely imminent election, saying the Conservatives would contest every seat.


The supreme court judgment, which could have a huge impact not just on Johnson’s future but also the wider ability of the courts to take a view in political decisions made by government, is due to be announced at 10.30am, following last week’s hearing. The panel of 11 judges were tasked with hearing appeals from two separate legal challenges to Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament – the technical term for gaps in parliamentary sessions which do not involve dissolution before an election – for five weeks from 9 September.

Read more …

Corbyn’s attempts to not lose the Leave voters divide the party. Damned if you do…

UK Labour Party Remains Split Over EU (CNBC)

Britain’s main opposition party has narrowly voted to maintain a neutral stance on the country’s most divisive topic, Brexit, after chaotic scenes at the party’s conference Monday evening prompted fresh criticism from both internal party activists and senior political opponents. Much of the party’s ordinary membership are in favor of the U.K.’s continued membership in the European Union, but Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn has long remained publicly ambivalent on the subject in a bid to hold his party and its supporters together ahead of an expected national election. But those efforts were severely tested as the party’s ruling body put forward a series of proposals on Brexit, many of which had been crafted by dozens of the local Labour constituencies over the course of several days.


Corbyn’s team had insisted that the party remain agnostic for now on whether the U.K. should leave or remain in Europe, and demanded that a final decision be made at another future meeting; at an undetermined time and after a putative election victory. [..] Those Labour activists and party officials who are concerned about those departing voters, and who also advocate remaining in the EU, had put forward a separate proposal Monday. It would have forced the party to adopt a clear policy in favor of continued EU membership, but it was marginally defeated in a vote of raised hands that even the meeting’s chairwoman acknowledged had been hard to judge with total certainty.

Read more …

And every second headline says impeachment again. Am I the only one getting tired of that?

The Odor of Desperation (Kunstler)

The swamp abides. The latest news media dumpster fire over President Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is a three-way ruse. Ruse 1: deflect attention from the main issue, which is Joe Biden’s trolling for payoffs on his missions to foreign lands as vice-president, first Ukraine, where son Hunter was gifted a board of director’s chair and $50K-a-month salary with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and then a $1.5 billion “private equity investment” to Hunter Biden’s wealth management fund from the state-owned Bank of China. Ruse 2: to deflect attention from the damage soon to be inflicted on the Deep State by the forthcoming DOJ Inspector General’s report on FISA court abuses. Ruse 3. To set in motion yet another obstruction of justice trap for Mr. Trump on the basis of false charges.

This comes at the instigation of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who was formerly senior legal counsel to John Carlin head of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, deeply implicated in the FISA court matters of 2016 under investigation by federal prosecutor John Durham. Mr. Atkinson cited a complaint by an unnamed whistleblower who claims to have heard from a source that the President offered a quid pro quo to Ukrainian President Zelensky for reopening the Burisma case. The “whistleblower” may be Mr. Atkinson himself. Of course, gaffe-prone Joe Biden spilled the beans on video earlier this year, when he bragged about shaking down Ukraine’s then-president Petro Poroshenko over a billion-dollar loan guarantee unless he fired the prosecutor investigating Burisma, which he did. Is there any ambiguity here?

The coordination between the news media and the Deep State is impressively blatant in this new gambit, with former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe (dismissed for cause in 2018), in his new position as a CNN “contributor” (while awaiting prosecution) teeing up a new “Trump collusion” narrative with The New York Times, WashPost, and NBC marching in step. In this new age of disinformation, narratives are the political weapon of choice in the campaign to harass and disable the winner of the 2016 election. The big play of RussiaGate failed, the play of “racism” is failing, so UkraineGate is next up.

Read more …

“Imagine the son was Eric Trump, and the politician Donald Trump. Would the media be dismissing it as nothing worth looking at, a “debunked” issue?”

Why Is The Media Circling The Wagons To Protect Hunter Biden? (NYPost Ed.)

A foreign natural gas company brings a top US politician’s son onto its board, even though he has no relevant expertise, for $50,000 a month. The politician travels to that country and demands the removal of a prosecutor who’s investigating the company. That prosecutor then gets axed, and the investigation shut down. Imagine the son was Eric Trump, and the politician Donald Trump. Would the media be dismissing it as nothing worth looking at, a “debunked” issue? Yes, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor declared in May that he’d seen no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden. Of course not: Again, the investigation got closed years ago.

Yet Yuriy Lutsenko also basically told Bloomberg News he didn’t want to see any such evidence: “I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of US presidential elections.” And Volodymyr Zelensky took over as Ukraine’s new president after that Lutsenko interview — having won on a vow to end Ukraine’s endemic corruption. Was it really so strange that President Trump pushed the reformer to reopen the probe? No, Trump hasn’t bathed himself in glory with his ham-handed pressure on Ukraine. Then again, Joe Biden’s boasts about getting that prosecutor axed also look clumsy. Then there’s Lutsenko’s claim that the Obama administration handed him a “do not prosecute” list in mid-2016, even as it was pushing Ukraine for dirt on Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager.

That evidence eventually helped send Manafort to prison. What might come of a full-on Hunter Biden probe?

Read more …

“..the pressure began at least as early as January 2016, when the Obama White House unexpectedly invited Ukraine’s top prosecutors to Washington..”

“..What wasn’t known at the time, Shokin told me recently, was that Ukrainian prosecutors were preparing a request to interview Hunter Biden about his activities and the monies he was receiving from Ukraine.”

Democrats Were First To Enlist Ukraine In US Elections (Solomon)

Earlier this month, during a bipartisan meeting in Kiev, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) delivered a pointed message to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky. While choosing his words carefully, Murphy made clear — by his own account — that Ukraine currently enjoyed bipartisan support for its U.S. aid but that could be jeopardized if the new president acquiesced to requests by President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate past corruption allegations involving Americans, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s family. Murphy boasted after the meeting that he told the new Ukrainian leader that U.S. aid was his country’s “most important asset” and it would be viewed as election-meddling and “disastrous for long-term U.S.-Ukraine relations” to bend to the wishes of Trump and Giuliani.

“I told Zelensky that he should not insert himself or his government into American politics. I cautioned him that complying with the demands of the President’s campaign representatives to investigate a political rival of the President would gravely damage the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. There are few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on in Washington these days, and support for Ukraine is one of them,” Murphy told me today, confirming what he told Ukraine’s leader. The implied message did not require an interpreter for Zelensky to understand: Investigate the Ukraine dealings of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and you jeopardize Democrats’ support for future U.S. aid to Kiev.

The Murphy anecdote is a powerful reminder that, since at least 2016, Democrats repeatedly have exerted pressure on Ukraine, a key U.S. ally for buffering Russia, to meddle in U.S. politics and elections. [..] As I have reported, the pressure began at least as early as January 2016, when the Obama White House unexpectedly invited Ukraine’s top prosecutors to Washington to discuss fighting corruption in the country. The meeting, promised as training, turned out to be more of a pretext for the Obama administration to pressure Ukraine’s prosecutors to drop an investigation into the Burisma Holdings gas company that employed Hunter Biden and to look for new evidence in a then-dormant criminal case against eventual Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a GOP lobbyist.

[..] Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in crucial U.S. aid to Kiev if Poroshenko did not fire the country’s chief prosecutor. Ukraine would have been bankrupted without the aid, so Poroshenko obliged on March 29, 2016, and fired Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.At the time, Biden was aware that Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma, the firm employing Hunter Biden, after a December 2015 New York Times article. What wasn’t known at the time, Shokin told me recently, was that Ukrainian prosecutors were preparing a request to interview Hunter Biden about his activities and the monies he was receiving from Ukraine. If such an interview became public during the middle of the 2016 election, it could have had enormous negative implications for Democrats.

Read more …

Tulsi Gabbard is on the verge of making the October debate. They don’t want a repeat in November.

Democrats Announce Tighter Criteria For Fifth Presidential Debate (R.)

The Democratic National Committee on Monday announced new criteria for the fifth presidential debate in November, requiring candidates to meet one of two polling requirements and have 165,000 unique donors. Candidates must either receive 3 percent or more support in four national or early state polls or 5 percent or more support in two polls of the states that hold early presidential nominating contests: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. They must show a minimum of 600 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states, territories or the District of Columbia, the DNC said.


The new requirements promise to further cull the large Democratic field of 19 candidates seeking to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. Former Vice President Joe Biden has led most opinion polls so far, followed by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The sprawling field has made it difficult for lesser-known candidates to register in the minds of Democratic voters, with several polling at 1 percent or less nationally. [..] Criteria for the September and October debates required donations from at least 130,000 people and support of at least 2% in four DNC-approved polls.

Read more …

Local bans on global networks?!

Google Wins Landmark Right-To-Be-Forgotten Case In Europe (BBC)

Europe’s top court has ruled that Google does not have to apply the right to be forgotten globally. It means that firm only needs to remove references to articles and other material from its search results in Europe – and not elsewhere – after receiving an appropriate request. The ruling stems from a dispute between Google and a French privacy regulator. In 2015, CNIL ordered the firm to globally remove links to pages containing damaging or false information about a person. The following year, Google introduced a geoblocking feature that prevents European users from being able to see delisted links. But it resisted censoring search results for people in other parts of the world.


And the firm challenged a 100,000 euro fine that CNIL had tried to impose. Google had argued that the obligation could be abused by authoritarian governments trying to cover up human rights abuses were it to be applied outside of Europe. The tech firm had been supported by Microsoft, Wikipedia’s owner the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the UK freedom of expression campaign group Article 19, among others. ECJ adviser Maciej Szpunar had also concluded that the right to be forgotten be limited to Europe in a non-binding recommendation to the court earlier this year.

Read more …

An all-out attack on the Espionage Act.

US Government Moves To Block Alleged Drone Whistleblower’s Defense (SProof)

The United States government has moved to block Daniel Hale, a former U.S. Air Force language analyst, from presenting any evidence that he had “good motives” when he allegedly disclosed documents to a reporter that exposed a targeted assassination program involving armed drones. Yet, while the U.S. government hopes to ensure Hale cannot put on a whistleblower defense during his trial, Hale’s defense attorneys have directly challenged the constitutionality of the Espionage Act, arguing it violates the First Amendment. They also assert that the government is selectively and vindictively prosecuting Hale for his alleged act of dissent.

Hale was indicted on five counts on May 9. Three of the charges allege he violated the Espionage Act. One charge alleges he disclosed “communications intelligence” without authorization. The fifth charge alleges he stole “government property.” In October 2015, The Intercept published a “cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.” The media organization said the documents were provided by a whistleblower and offered “unprecedented glimpse into [President Barack] Obama’s drone wars.” They were called “The Drone Papers.” These are the documents that the government accuses Hale of disclosing without proper authorization to the public.

[..] There were only three prosecutions under the Espionage Act for the first 75 years that were “premised” on “leaks.” However, since 2009, there have been 18 prosecutions of media sources, according to Hale’s attorneys. President Barack Obama’s administration set the record for more leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act than all previous U.S. presidents combined, and the Obama Justice Department’s novel interpretations of the Espionage Act set the stage for President Donald Trump to launch a prosecution against Hale, as well as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is the first journalist to be charged with violating this particular law.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 092019
 
 September 9, 2019  Posted by at 9:48 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Maya 1939

 

 

To everyone used to receiving Automatic Earth posts in their email, I’m sorry but since Saturday they’re suddenly bouncing again en masse. This makes me very tired by now, but I’ll look for a solution. I suspect there may be a connection between this and Google accusing me of violating their rules, without telling me what rules I’m supposed to have violated.

 

 

 

Brexit Heading For Dramatic Supreme Court Showdown (Ind.)
Boris Johnson ‘Sabotage’ Letter To EU ‘Would Break Law’ (G>)
Johnson Has Reneged On Good Friday Agreement Vows, Says EU (G.)
EU’s Ex-Legal Chief Says Johnson’s Plan To ‘Shut Down EU’ Will Fail (Ind.)
China’s Exports To US Fell 16% In August As Trump Escalates Trade War (CNBC)
Air China Denies Plans To Take Over Cathay Pacific (R.)
Nearly All British Airways Flights Canceled As Pilots Go On Strike (CNN)
States Expected To Target Google In New Antitrust Probe (AP)
Yanis Varoufakis’ Close-Up (K.)
Australia Launches Emergency Relocation Of Fish (G.)

 

 

Really, what is not to like about the Brexit comedy? it’s the British doing what they do best. Parliament will vote for a law that forces Boris to send a letter to Brussels asking for an extension to Article 50, and he plans to send a second letter saying he doesn’t want that extension.

Anyway, Supreme Court it always would be. But can that court tell parliamentarians or a prime minster what to do, or are they above the court in legal standing, as a lower court suggested last week? Too late to get a constitution now. But not too late to make this much more chaotic still.

There is even a plan for the UK to shut down the EU.

Brexit Heading For Dramatic Supreme Court Showdown (Ind.)

The battle for Brexit is heading for a nailbiting showdown in the Supreme Court in late October – when the deadline for crashing out of the EU will be just days away – after Boris Johnson’s new strategy was revealed. Ministers plan to manufacture a legal fight to avoid directly breaking the law when compelled to ask for a further Article 50 extension, while also sidestepping the requirement to comply with it. The “plan B” paves the way for an unprecedented constitutional crisis after parliament’s deadline for seeking a Brexit delay passes on 19 October – with the threat of the prime minister being jailed for contempt of court. With the deadline for crashing out on 31 October, it will be a race against time to force Mr Johnson to Brussels before Halloween, or to bring him down in a vote of no confidence and send a replacement.

Labour condemned the strategy as behaving like “every tinpot dictator on the planet throughout history” – demanding that Mr Johnson obey the “duty” imposed by parliament. No10 is also reported to be considering sending a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit extension, in order to meet the conditions passed by MPs last week, but then immediately sending another saying the government does not actually want a delay. Legal experts, including former attorney general Lord Falconer, warned that this would still breach the law. If Mr Johnson disregards some or all of the bill’s requirements – which is set to receive royal assent on Monday – this could lead to an emergency judicial review in the courts by MPs.

The unprecedented case would start in the High Court and the expectation is that it would very quickly move to the Supreme Court, almost certainly before 31 October. And it triggered an extraordinary warning from the justice secretary, Robert Buckland, to obey “the rule of law”, as he denied he was poised to follow Amber Rudd by resigning.

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“..he risked the resignation of the justice secretary, the attorney general, and other members of his cabinet…”

Boris Johnson ‘Sabotage’ Letter To EU ‘Would Break Law’ (G>)

A former supreme court justice has said Boris Johnson would be in contempt of court if he applied for article 50 extension while simultaneously trying to get the EU to reject it. Reports in the Daily Telegraph suggested that the prime minister has drawn up plans to “sabotage” parliament’s efforts to force through a Brexit extension to prevent the UK leaving the bloc without a deal. He is said to be considering sending an accompanying letter to the EU alongside the request to extend article 50, which would say the government does not want any delay to Brexit. Lord Sumption, a former supreme court justice, said it would not be legal for the prime minister to ask for an extension while rubbishing the request at the same time.


He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The bill or the act as its about to become says that he’s got to apply for an extension. Not only has he got to send the letter, he’s got to apply for an extension. And to send the letter and then try and neutralise it seems to me to be plainly a breach of the act.” A Downing Street source said: “We intend to sabotage any extension. The ‘surrender bill’ only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans, there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too.” Sumption said he had read the bill and there was not “the slightest obscurity” about what the government was obliged to do. [..] Sumption said Johnson would not only be in contempt of court if he failed to do what the bill states, he risked the resignation of the justice secretary, the attorney general, and other members of his cabinet.

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“This avoidance of the hard border, it is not just a desire, it is not just about preferences, it is legal obligation.”

Johnson Has Reneged On Good Friday Agreement Vows, Says EU (G.)

European officials have accused Boris Johnson of reneging on pledges to uphold the Good Friday agreement, ahead of the prime minister’s first meeting with his Irish counterpart. Johnson will meet the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in Dublin on Monday at a tumultuous moment in the Brexit process, with only 52 days until the UK’s departure. Talks are set to be tense as fears grow in Dublin and Brussels that the British prime minister is backsliding on promises to protect the tightly knit economic and social links on the island of Ireland. “The commitment to all aspects and all the provisions of the letter and spirit of the Good Friday agreement recently seems to be taken more lightly than before,” a senior diplomat from a continental member state told the Guardian.

“This avoidance of the hard border, it is not just a desire, it is not just about preferences, it is legal obligation.” A senior official working for the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told diplomats this week that the UK had reneged on commitments to protect north-south co-operation on the island of Ireland, a key pillar of the Good Friday agreement. Alarm bells were set off by Johnson’s recent letter to the European council president, Donald Tusk, which declared his government could not endorse a commitment made by Theresa May in a December 2017 EU-UK joint report. The Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, fuelled concerns that the government was seeking to back out of past commitments, when he tweeted that the government was “committed to no infrastructure on the NI border”.

Such comments were seen in Brussels as “meaningless” words that marked a significant dilution of the promise to uphold an open border. The May government pledged to protect “north-south cooperation” on the island of Ireland in the 2017 joint report, widely seen in Brussels as a landmark in Brexit talks.

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Something tells me Dominic Cummings will have more before this is over.

EU’s Ex-Legal Chief Says Johnson’s Plan To ‘Shut Down EU’ Will Fail (Ind.)

Brussels’ former top law officer has rubbished Boris Johnson’s extraordinary plan to sabotage the EU and make it ‘no longer legal’, arguing it makes no sense. Downing Street has threatened to render the bloc no longer “legally constituted”, paralysing its decision making, to force EU leaders to cave in to the UK’s demands. But Jean-Claude Piris, formerly the director-general of the EU Council’s legal service, said the idea – refusing to appoint a new commissioner – would fail to shut down the EU, as No 10 hoped. “The Commission can continue to work and decide legally,” Mr Piris wrote on Twitter, citing a precedent dating back to 1999. Instead, he said: “The UK will be brought to the EUCJ [the European Court of Justice] for violation of its obligation.”


Richard Corbett, the leader of Labour’s bloc of Euro-MPs, echoed the criticism, tweeting: “Nonsense idea that Johnson could paralyse EU to force it to expel UK. “If he refuses to nominate a Commissioner, the UK would be in breach of the treaty – that being so, EU Commission not at fault and can operate legally.” In a dramatic escalation of its battle with Brussels, No 10 believes it can put the EU in breach of its own legal duty for all 28 member states to be represented on its executive branch. The UK would be “disrupting” Brussels life to such a degree that member states will then make it clear they will refuse to grant an Article 50 extension – even if asked for – it hopes. A source told The Independent: “We will turn the pressure onto the EU to show how difficult it will be for them if the UK is still hanging around.”

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That’s a lot.

China’s Exports To US Fell 16% In August As Trump Escalates Trade War (CNBC)

China’s exports unexpectedly fell in August as shipments to the United States slowed sharply, pointing to further weakness in the world’s second-largest economy and underlining a pressing need for more stimulus as the Sino-U.S. trade war escalates. Beijing is widely expected to announce more support measures in coming weeks to avert the risk of a sharper economic slowdown as the United States ratchets up trade pressure, including the first cuts in some key lending rates in four years. On Friday, the central bank cut banks’ reserve requirements for a seventh time since early 2018 to free up more funds for lending, days after a cabinet meeting signalled that more policy loosening may be imminent.


August exports fell 1% from a year earlier, the biggest fall since June, when it fell 1.3%, customs data showed on Sunday. Analysts had expected a 2.0% rise in a Reuters poll after July’s 3.3% gain. That’s despite analyst expectations that a falling yuan would offset some cost pressure and looming tariffs may have prompted some Chinese exporters to bring forward or “front-load” U.S.-bound shipments into August, a trend seen earlier in the trade dispute. China let its currency slide past the key 7 per dollar level in August for the first time since the global financial crisis, and Washington labelled it a currency manipulator.

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“..the biggest corporate casualty of anti-government protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, demonstrations..”

Air China Denies Plans To Take Over Cathay Pacific (R.)

Air China has no plans to take over Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways, an independent director of the state-owned Chinese carrier told the South China Morning Post newspaper. “Based on what I know, I wouldn’t think that is anywhere on the agenda, no way,” Air China non-executive director Stanley Hui told the newspaper when asked if the carrier, a 30% shareholder, might seek to buy Cathay outright. The Hong Kong airline has become the biggest corporate casualty of anti-government protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, demonstrations that have plunged the former British colony into a political crisis.


Cathay Chairman John Slosar last week announced plans to step down in November, less than three weeks after CEO Rupert Hogg left amid mounting regulatory scrutiny. Air China is Cathay’s second-largest shareholder, behind manager Swire Pacific with a 45% stake. Long-time Swire executive Patrick Healy was last week appointed as Slosar’s replacement.

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No flights tomorrow either. Big airline.

Nearly All British Airways Flights Canceled As Pilots Go On Strike (CNN)

British Airways says it was forced to cancel “nearly 100 per cent” of flights for Monday and Tuesday after the British pilots union went ahead with a strike. The strike was called for by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) amid a heated dispute over pay with the airline. BALPA said Sunday on Twitter that it put forward a proposal to the carrier’s management Wednesday, but had yet to receive a reply. British Airways said in a statement posted Monday it remains “ready and willing to return to talks with BALPA.”


The airline said it was forced to cancel so many flights because “with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly.” Customers who had flights booked for Monday and Tuesday will likely “not be able to travel as planned,” British Airways said. The airline also advised customers not to go to the airport. Members of the pilots union voted 93% in favor of a strike in July. BALPA said last week that it would be willing to call it off if British Airways returned to the negotiating table. According to its website, BALPA represents more than 10,000 pilots in the United Kingdom — more than 85% of all commercial pilots who fly there.

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And Facebook in a different probe. But Google is CIA.

States Expected To Target Google In New Antitrust Probe (AP)

A group of states led by Texas is expected to announce an investigation into Google on Monday to examine whether the Silicon Valley tech giant has gotten too big and effective at stomping or acquiring rivals. The probe is the latest blow against big tech companies as antitrust investigations ramp up in the U.S. and around the world. A separate group of states announced an investigation into Facebook’s dominance on Friday. The Department of Justice , the Federal Trade Commission and Congress are also conducting probes.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said only that the investigation will look at “whether large tech companies have engaged in anticompetitive behavior that stifled competition, restricted access, and harmed consumers.” Reports in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal say Google will be the primary target. Google expects state attorneys general will ask it about past similar investigations in the U.S. and internationally, senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post Friday . Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls so many aspects of the internet that it’s hard to imagine surfing the web for long without running into at least one of its services. Experts believe the antitrust probe could focus on at least one of three aspects of Google’s business that have caught regulators’ eyes.

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Background: renowned Greek film director Costa-Gravas has made a movie based on Varoufakis’ book “Adults in the Room,” which recounts Yanis’ dealings with the EU. It was presented at the Venice film festival this week. Well, the Greek press still doesn’t like him (but they dare not ignore Costa-Gavras either). And because of the structure of the press, neither do many Greeks. But they make it about how Yanis presents himself, and sure, maybe it’s too much about him at times. But really, it should be about his ideas, about substance. Unfortunately, those ideas go above their paygrade and understanding. So appearance it is then…

Yanis Varoufakis’ Close-Up (K.)

The term “narcissist,” which has become almost a permanent fixture in any description of Yanis Varoufakis – in tones ranging from the deliberate and angry to the lighthearted and playful, sometimes to the point of absolving him of his sins – is inadequate. A man who writes a book while simultaneously envisioning himself as a big-screen hero does not simply fall into the category of garden-variety delusions of stardom because his actions are rife with intent. Viewing reality through the realm of fiction neither clears nor burdens an official of complicity with regard to how he managed the country’s economic affairs and the stance he adopted more generally, and especially when this concerns an exceptionally crucial period.


Walking down the red carpet does not instantly transform Varoufakis from a former finance minister (who is co-credited with a memorandum and capital controls) into a movie star. The Venice International Film Festival – the glamour, the camera flashes, the gowns – and the reviews of critics neither erase nor transfer political responsibility. The publicity shone on Greece as a result of Costa-Gavras’ film “Adults in the Room,” based on Varoufakis’ book of the same title, shifts the focus of the conversation from the intentions and rules according to which officials with institutional responsibilities ought to abide, to the rule-free realm of art. It takes it away from the need for political figures to answer for their actions and omissions, to the extremely capacious realm of film production and artistic creativity.

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Noah.

Australia Launches Emergency Relocation Of Fish (G.)

Faced with a looming ferocious summer with little rain forecast, the New South Wales government has embarked on a Noah’s Ark type operation to move native fish from the Lower Darling – part of Australia’s most significant river system – to safe havens before high temperatures return to the already stressed river basin. Researchers have warned of other alarming ecological signs that the Lower Darling River – part of the giant Murray-Darling Basin – is in a dire state, following last summer’s mass fish kills. Professor Fran Sheldon, from Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute, said only one surviving colony of river mussels had been found along the river and there were signs that river red gums were under severe stress.


“If the river red gums die, and some are hundreds of years old, there will be a domino effect. Banks will collapse, there will be massive erosion and it will send sediments down the river.” “These sort of ecological collapses are much harder and expensive to reverse,” she warned. The New South Wales government announced a $10m rescue package last week to mitigate the effects of the river crisis on native fish this summer. The NSW agriculture minister, Adam Marshall, said the unprecedented action would provide “a lifeline for key native species ahead of an expected summer of horror fish kills”. “We’re staring down the barrel of a potential fish Armageddon, which is why we’re wasting little time rolling out this unprecedented action,” Marshall said.

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Jul 262019
 
 July 26, 2019  Posted by at 8:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Dora Maar with green nails 1936

 

What Mueller Was Trying to Hide (Strassel)
Barr And State AGs Discuss Big Tech Monopolies (ZH)
Tulsi Gabbard Sues Google For Campaign “Interference” (ZH)
Brussels Repels Boris Johnson’s Quest For New Brexit Deal (G.)
Don’t Call It A Coup, You’ll Spoil Boris Johnson’s Big Day Out (G.)
World Trade in Face of Tariffmageddon, Trade Wars & Manufacturing Slowdown (WS)
After Century of Chaos and War, Versailles Treaty Still Haunts the World (Sp.)
The Tyranny of the Police State Disguised as Law-and-Order (Whitehead)
In Roundup Case, US Judge Cuts $2 Billion Verdict To $86 Million (R.)
Florida Senator Says Under Siege For Seeking Epstein Probe (Julie K. Brown)
Boeing Targets October, FAA Official Says No Timeline For 737 MAX (R.)
Jacinda Ardern Accused By Maori Of ‘Lacking Leadership’ In Land Dispute (G.)
The Cheapest Way to Save the Planet Grows Like a Weed (Brown)
Earth, But Not As We Knew It – James Lovelock Turns 100 (G.)

 

 

Horowitz and/or Durham will have to look at Weissmann and the rest of Mueller’s lawyers. As well as the FBI.

What Mueller Was Trying to Hide (Strassel)

Special counsel Robert Mueller testified before two House committees Wednesday, and his performance requires us to look at his investigation and report in a new light. We’ve been told it was solely about Russian electoral interference and obstruction of justice. It’s now clear it was equally about protecting the actual miscreants behind the Russia-collusion hoax. The most notable aspect of the Mueller report was always what it omitted: the origins of this mess. Christopher Steele’s dossier was central to the FBI probe, the basis of many of the claims of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Yet the Mueller authors studiously wrote around the dossier, mentioning it only in perfunctory terms. The report ignored Mr. Steele’s paymaster, Fusion GPS, and its own ties to Russians. It also ignored Fusion’s paymaster, the Clinton campaign, and the ugly politics behind the dossier hit job.


Mr. Mueller’s testimony this week put to rest any doubt that this sheltering was deliberate. In his opening statement he declared that he would not “address questions about the opening of the FBI’s Russia investigation, which occurred months before my appointment, or matters related to the so-called Steele Dossier.” The purpose of those omissions was obvious, as those two areas go to the heart of why the nation has been forced to endure years of collusion fantasy. Mr. Mueller claimed he couldn’t answer questions about the dossier because it “predated” his tenure and is the subject of a Justice Department investigation. These excuses are disingenuous. Nearly everything Mr. Mueller investigated predated his tenure, and there’s no reason the Justice Department probe bars Mr. Mueller from providing a straightforward, factual account of his team’s handling of the dossier.

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The pushback intensifies. They’re going to have to find a way out. Even if the CIA likes things just the way they are.

Barr And State AGs Discuss Big Tech Monopolies (ZH)

A bipartisan group of eight state attorneys general met with US Attorney General William Barr on Thursday to discuss “the real concerns consumers across the country have with big tech companies stifling competition,” according to Politico. “Our bipartisan coalition of eight state attorneys general was pleased with the opportunity to meet with U.S. Attorney General Barr to talk about the real concerns consumers across the country have with big tech companies stifling competition on the internet,” reads a joint statement from the state AGs, which include Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

“The potential state action adds yet another layer to the growing scrutiny of the power of online platforms. In announcing its antitrust review this week, the DOJ said it will consider “widespread concerns” expressed about search, social media and online retail services.” -Politico. Meanwhile, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is has been meeting with regulators to make the case for breaking up the social media giant, according to the New York Times. In recent weeks, Mr. Hughes has joined two leading antitrust academics, Scott Hemphill of New York University and Tim Wu of Columbia University, in meetings with the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and state attorneys general. In those meetings, the three have laid out a potential antitrust case against Facebook, Mr. Wu and Mr. Hemphill said.

“For nearly a decade, they argue, Facebook has made “serial defensive acquisitions” to protect its dominant position in the market for social networks, according to slides they have shown government officials. By scooping up nascent rivals, they assert, Facebook has thwarted potential competitors, making it easier for the social network to charge advertisers higher prices and to offer a worse experience for users.” -New York Times

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Barr can start right here.

Tulsi Gabbard Sues Google For Campaign “Interference” (ZH)

Progressive Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who has long been under fire from mainstream media and establishment voices in her own party for her vehemently anti-war and anti-interventionist stance, is suing Google, The New York Times reports, in what is said to be the first time in history a presidential candidate has sued a major technology firm. It must be remembered that though considered a “long shot” by party insiders based on her outlier stances (for which she’s been called a popular Ron Paul type unorthodox figure among the Dems), from criticizing the Democrats’ ‘Russiagate’ fixation to calling for an end to “regime change wars” abroad to being willing to meet with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Google searches for her named surged across the US during last month’s first round of presidential nominee debates.

And now, as the Times reports, she says Google infringed on her free speech by suspending her campaign’s ability to get its message out: “Tulsi Now Inc., the campaign committee for Ms. Gabbard, said Google suspended the campaign’s advertising account for six hours on June 27 and June 28, obstructing its ability to raise money and spread her message to potential voters.” Google and other major US tech companies like Facebook have faced an avalanche of scrutiny and criticism of late for censoring and/or manipulating the visibility of those with unorthodox political views. The new lawsuit claims Google took steps to “interfere” with Gabbard’s chances in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

“Google’s arbitrary and capricious treatment of Gabbard’s campaign should raise concerns for policymakers everywhere about the company’s ability to use its dominance to impact political discourse, in a way that interferes with the upcoming 2020 presidential election,” the lawsuit stated. Specifically the lawsuit suggests Google diverted Gabbard campaign emails to be sent to spam folders on Gmail at “a disproportionately high rate” compared to her Democratic rival candidates.

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No-deal Brexit was voted down in London multiple times. What are the odds it won’t be if Boris tries again?

Brussels Repels Boris Johnson’s Quest For New Brexit Deal (G.)

Brussels has roundly rebuffed Boris Johnson after he laid down tough conditions for the new Brexit deal he hopes to strike over the summer. Speaking to the House of Commons for the first time as prime minister on Thursday, Johnson reiterated his campaign pledge of ditching the Irish backstop and promised to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit immediately. “I would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal,” he said. “I would much prefer it. I believe that it is possible even at this late stage, and I will work flat-out to make it happen. “But certain things need to be clear: the withdrawal agreement negotiated by my predecessor has been three times rejected by this house; its terms are unacceptable to this parliament and to this country.”


In a phone call later in the day, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, signalled the EU27’s determination to stick with the deal negotiated with Theresa May’s government – which includes the backstop. “President Juncker listened to what Prime Minister Johnson had to say, reiterating the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement is the best and only agreement possible – in line with the European council guidelines,” a commission spokesperson said. Juncker told Johnson the EU was willing to “add language” to the political declaration – the non-binding document that covers the future relationship – but would only consider any other proposals “providing they are compatible with the withdrawal agreement”.

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“When you haven’t got a principle left to betray, such displays of craven loyalty come as second nature.”

Don’t Call It A Coup, You’ll Spoil Boris Johnson’s Big Day Out (G.)

If a developing country had just changed its entire government without an election, we’d be calling it a coup. And if that coup had been led by a man clearly unfit for office, whom even his own family can’t trust to tell the truth, we’d be calling that country a failed state. But as this is the UK and the leader in question is Boris Johnson, we plead the exceptionalism of a first-world democracy. No matter that no one voted for a de facto Vote Leave government of shits and charlatans, that is what we now have. Taking Back Control is far too precious a virtue to be entrusted to the people. For now at least. When he had made his first speech as prime minister outside Downing Street, Johnson had briefly tried to present himself as a serious figure.

Even if the content of what he was saying was still basically the same divisive doggybollocks. It hadn’t gone down that well. Because if there was one thing more terrifying than Boris acting the fool, it was Boris pretending to be serious. A carapace of sincerity that dissolves on contact with reality. Everyone knows Boris is serious about only one thing: the fulfilment of his own delusions. Other people only exist as satellites to his own ego. Useful idiots in the service of World King Idiot. A man who can go toe to toe with Donald Trump in any dysfunctionality contest. Someone who believes he is an innocent victim, misunderstood by the entire world, but who is actually a sociopath only misunderstood by himself. Someone deserving of the undying gratitude of a nation for taking a pay cut to enter Downing Street.

For his first outing in the Commons, Johnson had gone back to his more familiar default setting. The Fool. The court jester from whom no one expects the truth, so long as they are entertained. “Pifflepafflewifflewaffle,” he began. The script remains the same, even if the persona changes. Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and the dozen or so other members of the recently appointed cabinet on the frontbench roared their approval. When you haven’t got a principle left to betray, such displays of craven loyalty come as second nature.

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No collapse yet, but a plateau.

World Trade in Face of Tariffmageddon, Trade Wars & Manufacturing Slowdown (WS)

World trade volume – imports and exports of merchandise across the globe – increased 0.3% in May from April, after falling 0.6% in the prior month, according to the Merchandise World Trade Monitor, released today by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. On a year-over-year basis, the index fell 0.4%. And it is down 2.1% from the peak in October 2018. This isn’t exactly stellar, compared to 2017 and 2018, when the world trade index increased between 2% and 6% year-over-year.

But it isn’t a “collapse” either. A collapse of world trade occurred during the Global Financial Crisis when companies shut down their ordering process – not knowing if the banking system would still be there the next morning – and when consumers closed their wallets, particularly American consumers who provide much of the oomph behind world trade, given their penchant for imports, but they were losing their jobs by the millions. From September 2008 through the trough in May 2009, the World Trade Monitor plunged 17.5%.


In the Eurozone, there has been some decline in both imports and exports in recent months. While Germany is heavily exposed to the automotive sector and is getting hit harder, other countries such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, and France, are not. Especially in Southern Europe, food exports – such as olive oil, wine, salami, cheese, and other specialty foods – play a larger role among their exports, and there is no slowdown in food products. Also note the impact of the euro debt crisis on imports (red line):

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“A new world seemed to have been created.”

After Century of Chaos and War, Versailles Treaty Still Haunts the World (Sp.)

A century ago, in July 1919, Germany began its journey to the lowest reaches of Hades. Another 26 years would pass before a previously civilized, enlightened people finally emerged, their nation in ruins, its cities bombed and its countryside occupied. Another four decades would pass before their country was reunited, and even then some of Berlin’s neighbors, convinced that Germans possessed a double dose of original sin, preferred a divided Germany. In 1919, World War I formally came to an end. The victorious allies dictated a peace that humbled Germany, formalized the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, created a gaggle of weak ethnically based states, and shared the geopolitical spoils among the victors. A new world seemed to have been created.

The treaty signed on June 28 in the famous Hall of Mirrors at the Versailles palace, however, proved to be but a brief interlude of peace. Germany remained recalcitrant. The myth had emerged that the German military had been defeated by the Dolchstoss, or “stab-in-the-back,” at home. But the reality was unpleasant enough: the peace settlement made no pretense of applying Woodrow Wilson’s famed Fourteen Points to Germany as the surrendering Germans had expected. The first democratically elected German government resigned rather than signing what became known as the Versailles Treaty. After being threatened with invasion, the successor leadership submitted. Not until two weeks later, in July, did the reluctant Reichstag ratify the pact.

The Deutsche Zeitung inveighed against the “disgraceful treaty” and promised, “We will never stop until we win back what we deserve.” Versailles almost immediately began radicalizing politics in the Weimar republic, encouraging violence, assassinations of left-wing politicians, and extremist bids for power, including by an army veteran and surprisingly effective rabble-rouser named Adolf Hitler. The sense of crisis gradually receded, however, only to have the Great Depression destroy much of the middle class, the mainstay of any democratic order. Hitler gained power, and a little more than two decades after losing one war Germany plunged into another one…

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“America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour)..”

The Tyranny of the Police State Disguised as Law-and-Order (Whitehead)

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour)—and that’s just what the government spends on foreign wars. The U.S. military empire’s determination to police the rest of the world has resulted in more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries around the world. That doesn’t include the number of private contractors pulling in hefty salaries at taxpayer expense. In Afghanistan, for example, private contractors outnumber U.S. troops three to one. No matter how we might differ about the role of the U.S. military in foreign affairs, surely we can agree that America’s war spending and commitment to policing the rest of the world are bankrupting the nation and spreading our troops dangerously thin.

All of the imperial powers amassed by Barack Obama and George W. Bush—to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which they might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to operate a shadow government, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability—were inherited by Donald Trump.

These presidential powers—acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and which can be activated by any sitting president—enable past, president and future presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution. Yet no matter how we might differ about how success or failure of past or present presidential administrations, surely we can agree that the president should not be empowered to act as an imperial dictator with permanent powers.

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Trying not to say Monsanto. And why have a jury system when judges keep overruling them? Doesn’t that make it all a mockery?

In Roundup Case, US Judge Cuts $2 Billion Verdict To $86 Million (R.)

A California judge on Thursday reduced a $2 billion jury verdict, slashing the award for a couple who blamed Bayer’s glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup for their cancer to $86.7 million. Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith of the California Superior Court in Oakland said the jury’s billion-dollar punitive damages awards were excessive and unconstitutional, but rejected Bayer’s request to strike the punitive award outright. Under Smith’s final order, California couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod would receive roughly $17 million in compensatory and $69 million in punitive damages, down from $55 million and $2 billion, respectively. The plaintiffs still have to formally accept the reduced award. Bayer in a statement on Thursday said Smith’s decision to slash the award was a step in the right direction, but added it would file an appeal.


“We continue to believe that the verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial and conflict with the extensive body of reliable science and conclusions of leading health regulators worldwide that confirms glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” the company said. [..] The company had asked Smith to strike the punitive damages award in the Pilliods’ case, arguing that hundreds of studies and assessments by regulators worldwide concluded the herbicide to be safe for human use. But the judge in her Thursday order rejected those arguments.“In this case there was clear and convincing evidence that Monsanto made efforts to impede, discourage, or distort scientific inquiry and the resulting science,” Smith said.

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Typical: sheriff is very powerful. Not so typical: Senator Lauren Book’s dad is a very powerful lobbyist.

Florida Senator Says Under Siege For Seeking Epstein Probe (Julie K. Brown)

Florida Sen. Lauren Book has reached out to Capitol police after receiving an anonymous warning connected to her demand for a state inquiry into Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s handling of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s lenient work release program, the Miami Herald has learned. Book, a vocal advocate for child sexual assault survivors, said she also received more than a dozen calls from Bradshaw’s political supporters asking her to back off on her call for an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into Bradshaw. On Monday, Book, a Democrat, wrote a letter to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to authorize a probe into how Epstein, accused of molesting dozens of underage girls and a registered sex offender, was permitted to leave the Palm Beach County Jail and spend much of his 2008-2009 incarceration in an office in West Palm Beach.

DeSantis said Thursday after a Cabinet meeting that he would “certainly consider” an investigation but that he has yet to decide how the state should respond. [..] the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office issued a new statement that its previously announced internal affairs investigation of the deputies who guarded and supervised Epstein during his work release had become a criminal investigation as well. No further elaboration was provided. Meanwhile, Book, in an interview with the Herald, said she had asked the Capitol police, who handle security for state lawmakers, to look into claims made on a Russian website alleging that Bradshaw was behind an effort to access her phone and emails by using the pretext of “imminent danger’’ to obtain her personal information.

“I’ve received countless phone calls saying ‘Little girl you don’t know what you’re getting into,’ and telling me that I should just stop,’’ said Book, a child sexual abuse survivor herself who has worked to pass strict sex offender laws in Florida. In a statement, PBSO said it had no knowledge of anyone trying to threaten or pressure Book.

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Southwest has already cancelled flights till 2020, and they far more 737 MAXs than anyone else. Even closed down Newark operations because of it.

Boeing Targets October, FAA Official Says No Timeline For 737 MAX (R.)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration distanced itself on Thursday from suggestions by Boeing that its grounded 737 MAX could resume flying passengers in October, saying regulators do not have a timeline for vetting safety upgrades. Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told analysts on Wednesday he was confident the MAX would be back in service as early as October after a certification flight with regulators in September. But the FAA’s top official declined to be pinned down on Boeing’s target of October or any other timeline for clearing the plane, which was grounded in March after two fatal crashes.


“We don’t have a timeline. Don’t have October. Don’t have August. Don’t have 2021,” Acting Administrator Dan Elwell told reporters at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “We have one criteria. When the 737 MAX has been – when the complications to it have been satisfactorily assessed, and the MAX is safe to return to service, that’s the only criteria,” Elwell said. [..] U.S. airlines are cancelling thousands of monthly flights due to the grounding and have warned of an increasing financial toll in the second half of the year. Southwest Airlines, a top customer, said on Thursday it was scheduling without the MAX until early January and ending operations at Newark Liberty International airport due to a scarcity of planes.

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Not looking good, Jacinda.

Jacinda Ardern Accused By Maori Of ‘Lacking Leadership’ In Land Dispute (G.)

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is being accused of a “lack of leadership” over an escalating land dispute between Maori and a construction company which plans to build 500 homes on sacred land in south Auckland. Opposition to the project boiled over this week over when a group that had been illegally occupying the land was served an eviction notice. The protest group has grown into about 300 people with police also increasing their presence. Seven protesters were arrested on Thursday night after they linked arms and chained themselves to a van to block part of the motorway near the city’s airport. The site, called Ihumatao, is home to New Zealand’s earliest market gardens as well as being a significant archaeological site on land considered sacred by local Maori.


Fletcher Building is looking to develop around 500 homes on the land, which local Maori say was stolen from them after land wars with the British dating back to the 1860s. The protest group want the land given back to local Maori. Protesters have implored Ardern to step in, including sending a letter directly to her. However, she has so far said the government will not get involved. “This is something obviously everyone wants to see resolution around, no one wants to see the kinds of disruption and outpouring of emotion [we have seen],” Ardern said. “Everyone wants a resolution but ultimately it will have to come from mana whenua (Maori). Protest leader Pania Newton told media that Ardern’s words showed “a lack of leadership” and showed “ignorance” about its treaty obligations. “This is the revolution of our generation,” Newton said.

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How much industrial hemp can we plant? Pretty sure if we do it, it’ll be for money.

The Cheapest Way to Save the Planet Grows Like a Weed (Brown)

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the cheapest and most efficient way to tackle the climate crisis. So states a Guardian article, citing a new analysis published in the journal Science. The author explains: As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”. [..] The July analytical review in Science calculated how many additional trees could be planted globally without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

It found that there are 1.7 billion hectares (4.2 billion acres) of treeless land on which 1.2 trillion native tree saplings would naturally grow. Using the most efficient methods, 1 trillion trees could be restored for as little as $300 billion—less than 2% of the lower range of estimates for the Green New Deal introduced by progressive Democrats in February. The Guardian quoted Professor Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who said, “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.” He said it was also by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed. The chief drawback of reforestation as a solution to the climate crisis, as The Guardian piece points out, is that trees grow slowly.

The projected restoration could take 50 to 100 years to reach its full carbon sequestering potential. Fortunately, as of December 2018, there is now a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative—one that was suppressed for nearly a century but was legalized on a national scale when President Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. This is the widespread cultivation of industrial hemp, the nonintoxicating form of cannabis grown for fiber, cloth, oil, food and other purposes. Hemp grows to 13 feet in 100 days, making it one of the fastest carbon dioxide-to-biomass conversion tools available. Industrial hemp has been proved to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop, making it the ideal carbon sink. It can be grown on a wide scale on nutrient-poor soils with very small amounts of water and no fertilizers.

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A formidable mind. And one not shy about contradicting himself.

Earth, But Not As We Knew It – James Lovelock Turns 100 (G.)

James Lovelock, the scientist and writer, is 100 years old on Friday and remains a combination of environmental Cassandra and Old Testament prophet. Unlike them, though, he changes his mind about what the future holds. Foolish consistency, Emerson wrote, is the hobgoblin of little minds, and Mr Lovelock’s mind is not little. More than 10 years before the record high July temperatures, Mr Lovelock flatly told the Guardian that 80% of human life on Earth would perish by 2100 because of the climate emergency. He imagined a dystopian end of humanity where “the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable” by the end of the 21st century.

As a scientist (his first letter to Nature was published in 1945, on the subject of writing on petri dishes), Mr Lovelock’s life has been studded with insight. He invented an electron capture detector that could pick up minute traces of pollutants – such as the pesticides that spurred Rachel Carson to write the 1962 book Silent Spring. At home he built instruments that ended up on Mars, helping Nasa to establish that the red planet was lifeless.

Mr Lovelock’s imagination has not narrowed, but his vision has become bleaker with time. His new book Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence proposes that the 300,000-year Anthropocene era of Earth’s human domination is ending. Novacene is a new age where our species is doomed to a worse fate than clinging on for dear life at the north pole as previously imagined. Instead we will become lackeys of cyborgs able to think 10,000 times faster than humans. We will be kept on to ensure there are habitable temperatures for these superior intelligences.

Read more …

 

How the Mueller people -and the Senate, let’s not forget them- kept Russiagate alive all that time:

 

 

 

 

Jun 242019
 


Pablo Picasso Sleeping girl 1935

 

Free Money Socialism (Henrich)
Iran Goes For “Maximum Counter-Pressure” (Escobar)
Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency ‘Poses Risks To Global Banking’ -BIS (G.)
Google’s Chrome Web Browser “Has Become Spy Software” (ZH)
Austerity, Inequality Fuelling Mental Illness – Top UN Envoy (G.)
Republicans Don’t Understand Democrats – and Vice Versa (Atl.)
400 Pilots Sue Boeing In Class Action Over 737 MAX Cover-Up (ABC.au)
How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean (BR)
Blow To Turkey’s Erdogan As Opposition Wins Big In Istanbul (R.)
Turkey Warns EU Not To Interfere On Cyprus EEZ Issue (K.)
Greek Armed Forces On Standby For Turkish Moves In East Med, Aegean (K.)

 

 

Very close to what I’ve been saying.

Free Money Socialism (Henrich)

According to Jay Powell the Fed’s primary mission is now to “sustain the economic expansion.” I’ve never used the term “manipulation” before, but let’s just be clear what “sustain the economic expansion” really means: To prevent natural market forces from taking hold. That’s manipulation. Business cycles are natural. They serve a purpose, they lay the foundation for new growth, they weed out the excess, they permit for a reset of an aging expansion, for a renewed flourishing of innovation, new solutions, creativity, and yes growth. Of course because of all this recessions bring about temporary pain, but nobody wants pain anymore, and hence central bankers with hero magazine covers have now taken on a new role, that of preventing a recession altogether.

No more cleansing, no more resets, but only ever more excess and propagating the notion that they alone can prevent the cleansing process from taking place with their favorite and only method: Free Money. Oh yes, the free money whores are here again. Hurry back into stocks: “Now, interest rates are coming down en masse. Investors who adjusted their portfolios for a high-rate environment must readjust. That means leaning into growth stocks again, scouring Asia for opportunities, and earning income from investments that won’t succumb to the low-rate trend and will also hold up in a shaky economy”. Barron’s calls the Fed flip flop “graceful”. I call it disgraceful.

Just stop. It’s 2019, wealth inequality is higher than ever, corporate debt is higher than ever, and growth is slowing. Innovation is hampered by a system that has benefitted the few which have grown into bloated monopolies, and the entire system itself remains held afloat by massive and ever more expending debt. After all there is zero intellectual integrity to anything that is being propagated. In recent times Fed chairs have bemoaned rising wealth inequality, oh how un-American it all is, and rising corporate debt being a threat to the economy, but then they proceed to again exacerbate both by promising more easy money, their default solution in the misguided attempt to bail investors out from all pain and any bad decisions.

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“The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.”

Iran Goes For “Maximum Counter-Pressure” (Escobar)

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives. Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett. The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record.

He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle. The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked. It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000. Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing.

But in a crisis the notional can become real. For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high. That is notional. But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.” BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate. The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning. Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”

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“If even modestly successful, Libra would hand over much of the control of monetary policy from central banks to these private companies.”

Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency ‘Poses Risks To Global Banking’ -BIS (G.)

Facebook’s plan to operate its own digital currency poses risks to the international banking system that should trigger a speedy response from global policymakers, according to the organisation that represents the world’s central banks. Although the move of big tech firms such as Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba into financial services could speed up transactions and cut costs, especially in developing world countries, it could also undermine the stability of a banking system that has only just recovered from the crash of 2008. Echoing warnings from many tech experts, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said that while there were potential benefits to be made, the adoption of digital currencies outside the current financial system could reduce competition and create data privacy issues.

“The aim should be to respond to big techs’ entry into financial services so as to benefit from the gains while limiting the risks,” said Hyun Song Shin, economic adviser and head of research at BIS. “Public policy needs to build on a more comprehensive approach that draws on financial regulation, competition policy and data privacy regulation.” The warning from the BIS on Sunday comes only days after Facebook announced it would launch its own digital currency, Libra, in 2020. It will allow its billions of users to make financial transactions across the globe in a move that could potentially shake up the world’s banking system.

Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, last week added his voice to concerns being expressed over big tech’s move into finance, warning that Libra could shift power into the wrong hands. Hughes, who is co-chair of the Economic Security Project, an anti-poverty campaign group, said: “If even modestly successful, Libra would hand over much of the control of monetary policy from central banks to these private companies. If global regulators don’t act now, it could very soon be too late.”

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Very easy for a government to counter. Should make one suspicious as to why they don’t.

Google’s Chrome Web Browser “Has Become Spy Software” (ZH)

Google’s Chrome is essentially spy software according to Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler, who spent a week analyzing the popular browser and concluded that it “looks a lot like surveillance software.” Fowler has since switched to Mozilla’s Firefox because of its default privacy settings, and says that it was easier than one might imagine.

“My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality. Chrome welcomed trackers even at websites you would think would be private. I watched Aetna and the Federal Student Aid website set cookies for Facebook and Google. They surreptitiously told the data giants every time I pulled up the insurance and loan service’s log-in pages.

And that’s not the half of it.= Look in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. See a picture or a name in the circle? If so, you’re logged in to the browser, and Google might be tapping into your Web activity to target ads. Don’t recall signing in? I didn’t, either. Chrome recently started doing that automatically when you use Gmail. -Washington Post”

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Iceland?!

Austerity, Inequality Fuelling Mental Illness – Top UN Envoy (G.)

Austerity, inequality and job insecurity are bad for mental health and governments should counteract them if they want to face up to the rising prevalence of mental illness, the UN’s top health envoy has said. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian to coincide with a hard-hitting report to be delivered to the UN in Geneva on Monday, Dr Dainius Puras said measures to address inequality and discrimination would be far more effective in combatting mental illness than the emphasis over the past 30 years on medication and therapy. “This would be the best ‘vaccine’ against mental illness and would be much better than the excessive use of psychotropic medication which is happening,” said Puras, who as the UN’s special rapporteur on health reports back to the UN human rights council in Geneva.

He said that since the 2008 financial crisis, policies that accentuated division, inequality and social isolation have been bad for mental equilibrium. “Austerity measures did not contribute positively to good mental health,” he said. “People feel insecure, they feel anxious, they do not enjoy good emotional wellbeing because of this insecurity situation.” “The best way to invest in the mental health of individuals is to create a supportive environment in all settings, family, the workplace. Then of course [therapeutic] services are needed, but they should not be based on an excessive biomedical model.”

Puras said there had been an overemphasis on trying to cure mental illness like physical illness, through “good medicine”, without thinking about the social factors that cause or contribute to some mental disorders. The prescription of psychotropic drugs to deal with mental illness, particularly antidepressants, has soared across the developed world in the past 20 years.

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What do Americans understand these days?

Republicans Don’t Understand Democrats – and Vice Versa (Atl.)

Unfortunately, the “Perception Gap” study suggests that neither the media nor the universities are likely to remedy Americans’ inability to hear one another: It found that the best educated and most politically interested Americans are more likely to vilify their political adversaries than their less educated, less tuned-in peers. Americans who rarely or never follow the news are surprisingly good at estimating the views of people with whom they disagree. On average, they misjudge the preferences of political adversaries by less than 10 percent. Those who follow the news most of the time, by contrast, are terrible at understanding their adversaries. On average, they believe that the share of their political adversaries who endorse extreme views is about 30 percent higher than it is in reality.


Perhaps because institutions of higher learning tend to be dominated by liberals, Republicans who have gone to college are not more likely to caricature their ideological adversaries than those who dropped out of high school. But among Democrats, education seems to make the problem much worse. Democrats who have a high-school degree suffer from a greater perception gap than those who don’t. Democrats who went to college harbor greater misunderstandings than those who didn’t. And those with a postgrad degree have a way more skewed view of Republicans than anybody else. It is deeply worrying that Americans now have so little understanding of their political adversaries. It is downright disturbing that the very institutions that ought to help us become better informed may actually be deepening our mutual incomprehension.

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And that’s just in one airline.

400 Pilots Sue Boeing In Class Action Over 737 MAX Cover-Up (ABC.au)

More than 400 pilots have joined a class action against American plane manufacturer Boeing, seeking damages in the millions over what they allege was the company’s “unprecedented cover-up” of the “known design flaws” of the latest edition of its top-selling jet, the 737 MAX. Boeing’s 737 MAX series— first announced in 2011 and put to service in 2017 — is the fourth generation of its 737 aircraft, a widely popular narrow-body aircraft model that has been a mainstay of short-haul aircraft routes across the globe. By March 2019, the entire global fleet was suspended by a US presidential decree, following the second fatal crash involving a 737 MAX that killed 157 people in Ethiopia.

The first crash involving the 737 MAX jet happened off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 people. In the time since the two fatal crashes, some of the families of the 346 people killed have sought compensation, while aircraft carriers — such as Norwegian Air — have sought compensation from the American manufacturer for lost revenue as a result of the plane’s global ban. This latest lawsuit filed against Boeing marks the first class action lodged by pilots qualified to fly the 737 MAX series, who have alleged that Boeing’s decisions have caused them to suffer from monetary loss and mental distress since the jet’s suspension.

The originating plaintiff, known as Pilot X —who has chosen to remain anonymous for “fear of reprisal from Boeing and discrimination from Boeing customers” — lodged the statement of claim on Friday, which seeks damages for them and more than 400 colleagues who work for the same airline. In court documents seen by the ABC, the claim alleges that Boeing “engaged in an unprecedented cover-up of the known design flaws of the MAX, which predictably resulted in the crashes of two MAX aircraft and subsequent grounding of all MAX aircraft worldwide.” They argue that they “suffer and continue to suffer significant lost wages, among other economic and non-economic damages” since the fleet’s global grounding. The class action will be heard in a Chicago court, with a hearing date set for October 21, 2019.

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History lesson” “The Caribbean archipelago was ground zero for U.S. imperial banking.”

How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean (BR)

Scrubbed from the pages of glossy coffeetable books, the history of U.S. imperialism can be found in the archives of Wall Street’s oldest, largest, and most powerful institutions. A deep dive into the vaults and ledgers of banking houses such as Citigroup, Inc., and J. P. Morgan Chase and Co. reveals a story of capitalism and empire whose narrative is not of morally pure and inspiring economic growth, technological innovation, market expansion, and shareholder accumulation, but rather of blood and labor, stolen sovereignty and pilfered resources, military occupation and monetary control. Sugar comingles with blood, chain gangs cross spur lines, and the magical abstractions of finance are found vulgarized in the base manifestations of racial capitalism.

This history of bankers and empire is also a Caribbean history. The Caribbean archipelago was ground zero for U.S. imperial banking. Wall Street’s first experiments in internationalism occurred in Cuba, Haiti, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, often with disastrous results—for those countries and colonies, and often for the imperial banks themselves. Yet where there was expansion, there was also pushback. The internationalization of Wall Street was met with local resistance, refusal and revolt. And just as the history of imperialism has been excised from popular narratives, so too has this history of Caribbean anti-imperialism and autonomy. The history of imperial banking and racial capitalism begins at the end of the nineteenth century, at the historical horizon where the project of U.S. settler colonialism that spurred the financing of the West became the enterprise of U.S. territorial colonialism in the Caribbean and Asia.

Buoyed by unprecedented wealth and boosted by the expansionist jingoism following the victory over Spain in the Caribbean and the Pacific, New York City’s bankers and merchants believed that the organization of an imperial banking system—one that could compete with Europe’s long-established institutions—was critical to the global rise of the city and to the consolidation of Wall Street’s position in international finance, trade, and commerce. With these ambitions, bankers and business-people set their sights on asserting control over the trade and finance of the Americas. They sought to control local central banks, establish U.S. branch banks, take over commodity financing, reorganize monetary systems on a dollar basis, and refinance European-funded sovereign debt.

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He’s losing it. Beware. Next move will be to suggest Turkey’s under threat, call for patriotism.

Blow To Turkey’s Erdogan As Opposition Wins Big In Istanbul (R.)

Turkey’s opposition has dealt President Tayyip Erdogan a stinging blow by winning control of Istanbul in a re-run mayoral election, breaking his aura of invincibility and delivering a message from voters unhappy over his policies. Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) secured 54.21% of votes, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency – a far wider victory margin than his narrow win three months ago. The previous result was annulled after protests from Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party, which said there had been widespread voting irregularities. The decision to re-run the vote was criticized by Western allies and caused uproar among domestic opponents who said Turkey’s democracy was under threat.


On Sunday, tens of thousands of Imamoglu supporters celebrated in the streets of Istanbul after the former businessman triumphed over Erdogan’s handpicked candidate by almost 800,000 votes. “In this city today, you have fixed democracy. Thank you Istanbul,” Imamoglu told supporters who made heart signs with their hands, in an expression of the inclusive election rhetoric that has been the hallmark of his campaigning. “We came to embrace everyone,” Imamoglu said. “We will build democracy in this city, we will build justice. In this beautiful city, I promise, we will build the future.”

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The EU has no choice anymore.

Turkey Warns EU Not To Interfere On Cyprus EEZ Issue (K.)

Turkey has warned the European Union that any intervention on their part on the issue of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) would negatively affect relations between Greece and Turkey, as well as any prospects for an end to the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. The warning was made through a non-paper sent to 27 of the EU’s 28 member-states on June 16, Cyprus’ “Fileleftheros” newspaper reports. Turkey didn’t send the note to Cyprus, whose government it does not recognize. The non-paper says the EU would be wise not to act as a judge in the dispute on sea borders and that a similar stance would further discourage efforts to solve the “Cyprus problem” and would cause Greek-Turkish relations to deteriorate.


Turkey claims that the area where one of its drillships has begun exploring for oil and natural gas, soon to be joined by a second, is within Turkey’s continental shelf and that no islands, Cyprus included, can constitute a “full” EEZ. Turkey repeats its views on “equal rights” between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots, that-is, between the internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied north of the island, which Turkey alone has recognized as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and says the best solution is the appointment of a mixed commission with representatives of both sides. Failing that, Turkey says, it is determined to protect the rights of the Turkish-Cypriot resources in the area. The non-paper ends with the hope that, in the decisions to be taken by the EU, “common sense” will prevail.

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Greece will not give in.

Greek Armed Forces On Standby For Turkish Moves In East Med, Aegean (K.)

As Turkey continues with its provocative behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean, despite European Union calls for it to desist from drilling for oil in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Greece’s armed forces are on standby to deal with a possible escalation of tensions in the East Med or the Aegean, Kathimerini understands. According to sources, the key question being pondered in Athens is how to react in the event that Turkey decides to conduct seismic research or drilling within Greece’s continental shelf or its EEZ. The biggest concern is about a potential Turkish intervention east of Rhodes and south of Kastellorizo.

On the political level, Athens has done what it can, underlining the potential repercussions of Turkey’s provocative behavior on stability in the broader region. The statement by the EU last week, though vague, was welcomed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as “the first clear and decisive” condemnation of Turkey by the bloc “after decades of violations of international law.” On the operational level, however, it is less clear what Greece’s response should be. The country’s armed forces will be on high alert over the summer as defense officials prepare a series of plans to deal with a possible Turkish intervention. The plans are primarily based on Hellenic Navy maneuvers, as Turkey is currently using research ships and drilling vessels to entrench its presence in the region.

However, the Hellenic Air Force would likely play a supportive role in any response. Asked last week whether Greece can count on military support from the EU or the United States in the event of an incident, Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis told reporters that Greece will have to plan to deal with such a scenario independently. “There is no such promise, nor any such issue at the moment, but as I’ve said before, when we need to do something we expect that we will basically be alone.” Athens also holds little faith in promises by French President Emmanuel Macron to send French Navy ships to the Aegean if necessary, as such pledges have been made in the past.

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Jun 062019
 
 June 6, 2019  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  17 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Guitar 1925

 

The China Battle Has Just Started (Vague)
Beijing Warns US Farmers May Lose China Market For Good (SCMP)
Millennial Net Wealth Collapses (ZH)
Aftermath: Interview with James Rickards (Whalen)
Google, Facebook Have Tight Grip On Growing US Online Ad Market (R.)
For MMT (Mitchell/Fazi)
The Great Bilderberg Secret Of 2019 (Escobar)
Welsh Government Officially Switches To Campaign For Remain (TNE)
Fitch Downgrades Mexico And Moody’s Lowers Outlook (R.)
Fiat Chrysler Withdraws Merger Offer For Renault, Blames French Politics (R.)
Lavrov Says D-Day Memorials Are Part Of A ‘False’ History Of WWII (BI)
Russia to West: D-Day Wasn’t Decisive In Ending World War Two (R.)
People Eat At Least 50,000 Plastic Particles A Year (G.)

 

 

“It’s about wealth and power, not political systems or ideology.”

The China Battle Has Just Started (Vague)

Long-term, intense economic competition between China and the United States is inevitable. It’s simply a result of China’s new economic size. It’s about wealth and power, not political systems or ideology. Forget these two countries per se. Take any country that has been an uncontested economic leader for decades, add a rapidly rising country that is becoming an economic threat, and watch the battle for markets, trade, and intellectual property unfold. The current trade negotiations could get uglier and derail. But even if they don’t, both sides will likely feel they did not get what they needed, and future rounds could get worse. There’s almost never a situation where the two leaders in a market don’t get locked in a protracted, high-stakes struggle.

[..] It’s also worth noting the history of free trade. The United States was one of the most protectionist nations in history during most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the very period in which it rose to economic supremacy, with tariffs routinely as high as 50 percent. More politicians than not backed tariffs because they protected American industry. And supporters liked tariffs because they kept wages high. In addition, in the era before the income tax, tariffs were our chief source of revenue, and Washington relished the fact that they created a government surplus (and many a congressional debate of that era was about how to spend that surplus). The subject dominated the halls of Congress.

[..] Now that the United States has woken up, my best guess is that it is not going to sit idly and let China’s encroachment continue. Trump’s approach may be poorly conceived and ham-handed, but some kind of more assertive response was overdue. China’s raison d’être is its own wealth and preeminence, and it is not likely it will permanently stand down, even if it does so strategically from time to time. In fact, in discussing this trade negotiation, Xi is now invoking China’s almost mythic tale of heroic perseverance, the Long March. Absent a China implosion—a la Japan in the late 1990s—even occasional rapprochement won’t abate the ferocity of this competition. The only question is how polite or impolite, or even bellicose, it will be.

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Let China grow its own food. Nothing wrong with that.

Beijing Warns US Farmers May Lose China Market For Good (SCMP)

Farmers in the United States cannot afford to lose the Chinese market, but farmers in China will be able to withstand the impact of American tariffs, according to a top agriculture official in Beijing. Han Jun, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said China’s retaliatory tariffs on American products – the latest of which took effect on Saturday – now covered “virtually all US agricultural product exports to China”, warning that US farmers could lose the Chinese market for good. “If the US doesn’t lift all additional tariffs [levied on Chinese products], bilateral agricultural product trade between China and the US, including soybean trade, will never go back to normal,” Han told the official Xinhua news agency.

“If the US loses China’s market, it will be very difficult for the US to regain it.” Han, who is also a top policymaker as deputy head of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs, said the two rounds of aid offered by US President Donald Trump to American farmers would not be enough to cover their potential losses if they lost the Chinese market. But he said Chinese farmers would be able to weather the impact of American tariffs. In terms of the soybean trade, while China’s imports from the United States had plunged, it could find ways to diversify its sources, including encouraging Chinese farmers to grow more of the crop and buying more from other countries, Han said.

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Everybody gets poorer while the Fed pours trillions into the economy.

Millennial Net Wealth Collapses (ZH)

The net worth of millennials (18- to 35-year-old) has collapsed 34% since 1996, according to a new, shocking report from Deloitte. Millennials are financially worse off than any other generation before them. With student loans, auto and credit card debts, rising rents, and out of control, health-care costs have pushed their average net worth below $8,000. Deloitte told The Washington Post that their findings reveal that millennials are delaying home-buying and marriage because of massive debt loads and rising costs are making big ticketed items virtually unaffordable. “The narrative out there is that millennials are ruining everything, from breakfast cereal to weddings, but what matters to consumers today isn’t much different than it was 50 years ago,” chief retail officer Kasey Lobaugh told the Post.

“Generally speaking, there have not been dramatic changes in how consumers spend their money.” Lobaugh described the soaring wealth inequality gap as another reason why young adults have little or no net wealth. In a separate report, we highlighted in April that 60% of millennials don’t have $500 in savings. The Post said education expenses had climbed 65% in the past decade. Food prices have increased by 26%, health care costs are up 21%, housing jumped 16%, and transportation costs rose 11%. The study showed millennials had delayed the American dream of a house, family, and automobile because of their insurmountable debts. Since 2005, retail spending has increased by about 13%, to roughly $3 trillion per year, but Deloitte said much of that growth is due to population increase, not a robust consumer base.


In the past decade, the income growth of the top 10% of Americans jumped 1,305% more than the bottom 90% of Americans – which means millennials stuck in the gig-economy with multiple jobs and high debt loads will be trapped in a life of financial misery.

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“..the Fed has failed to distinguish between credit driven bubbles and mania driven bubbles..”

Aftermath: Interview with James Rickards (Whalen)

In the beginning of your book, you use the metaphor of The Odyssey to describe the choices facing the Federal Reserve Board going back to Alan Greenspan, who we knew as “Uncle Alan” in Washington years ago. You talk about how the Fed went from deflating bubbles before Greenspan, as with the “taking away the punch bowl” image, then to trying to maintain bubbles, and now overtly using monetary policy to stoke inflation and huge asset bubbles. Where does that leave us today?

Rickards: In the book I talk about how Greenspan defeated deflation in 2005 before he left office, but, this was a Pyrrhic victory. Low rates gave rise to the housing bubble and subprime debt crisis. Since 2008, we’ve had more of the same but a more extreme version of Greenspan’s anti-deflation medicine. If Greenspan’s three-year experiment with sub 2% rates gave rise to the Global Financial Crisis, what was the world to make of the Bernanke-Yellen policy of 0% for seven years? Bernanke’s Federal Reserve also engaged in a completely unprecedented money printing binge called quantitative easing.

[..] the Fed has failed to distinguish between credit driven bubbles and mania driven bubbles. The former are dangerous because they are connected with the credit system, the latter less so because people loose money but the crisis is not systemic. The 2000 dot.com bubble was speculative, but not credit driven so it did not turn into a systemic crisis when it popped. Of course 2008 was credit driven and it did metastasize throughout the system right up to the top of the food chain with large banks and the housing GSEs failing. When you are kicking around the idea of should I or should I not pop the bubble, this is a key distinction and the threshold question for policy.

[..] It’s one thing when loose monetary policy results in private credit extremes. The Fed can reign that in. But, what happens when public credit from the Fed is the source of the problem? The Bernanke choice of stoking asset price inflation via zero rates and QE is not something that can be reversed without a great deal of pain. Once you make that trade-off between promoting inflation and future market instability, you have no way out. You’re much better off taking the pain and accepting a lower level of economic growth in the short-run rather than deferring the pain but creating far larger asset bubbles down the road. There is no way out of the Bernanke policy choice without bigger bubbles and much larger market crash that results.

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Why they must be broken up.

Google, Facebook Have Tight Grip On Growing US Online Ad Market (R.)

The U.S. internet advertising industry is projected to hit $160 billion by 2023 from $107 billion last year, led by fast-growing categories like mobile video with Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc firmly controlling the market, consultancy PwC said on Wednesday. The two tech giants together commanded nearly 60% of the U.S. internet advertising market in 2018, according to the report, up 3% from the previous year. Google’s YouTube dominates online video, while Facebook has been expanding its video product called Watch and adding advertising options. Google and Facebook are both currently under watch by U.S. regulators for possible antitrust concerns, as well as tech giants Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.


U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Inc despite spending $85 billion for media company Time Warner to transform into a media and advertising firm, has only managed to eke out single digit market share, according to PwC. Gaining market share is difficult because platforms must have features that are new and specific as well as some degree of emerging technology, said C.J. Bangah, a principal at PwC. An advantage the telecommunications companies like AT&T have over Google and Facebook is they will benefit from 5G, the next generation wireless network that is expected to bring technology like autonomous cars to reality.

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A discussion we will be having. Because what we have now has failed us.

For MMT (Mitchell/Fazi)

MMT is not a regime that you ‘apply’ or ‘switch to’ or ‘introduce’. Rather, it is a lens which allows us to see how our fiat monetary systems already work. How you decide to use that understanding depends on the value system or ideology you apply to it. It thus makes little sense to talk of ‘MMT-type prescription’ or an ‘MMT solution’. Indeed, governments already operate according to the framework offered by MMT, regardless of what they may claim in public (and the accounting smokescreens they may employ). Citizens are constantly told that the government cannot afford to invest more in education, healthcare, infrastructure, welfare and other public services.


Yet, there is never a lack of money when it comes tax cuts for the rich, bank bailouts, military activities and other programmes that benefit our political and economic elites. As of March 2006, approximately £4.5 billion had been spent by the UK in Iraq, enough to pay for the building of around 44 new hospitals and to fund the recruitment and retention of over 10,300 new teachers for ten years. Yet, there was never any debate about how the UK would ‘fund’ the war. Unfortunately, the mainstream macroeconomic narrative continues to plague large swathes of the left, particularly in Europe. Meadway’s article is representative. It concentrates ‘on the practical and political implications [of MMT], why they are wrong–and why Labour’s own economic programme makes more sense’. In that sense, he is really talking about a conception of the application of MMT according to a certain value set, rather than MMT itself.

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Pepe doesn’t convince me.

The Great Bilderberg Secret Of 2019 (Escobar)

The great Bilderberg secret of 2019 had to do with why, suddenly, the Trump administration has decided that it wants to talk to Iran “with no preconditions”. It all has to do with the Strait of Hormuz. Blocking the Strait could cut off oil and gas from Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran – 20% of the world’s oil. There has been some debate on whether this could occur – whether the US Fifth Fleet, which is stationed nearby, could stop Tehran doing this and if Iran, which has anti-ship missiles on its territory along the northern border of the Persian Gulf, would go that far. An American source said a series of studies hit President Trump’s desk and caused panic in Washington.

These showed that in the case of the Strait of Hormuz being shut down, whatever the reason, Iran has the power to hammer the world financial system, by causing global trade in derivatives to be blown apart. The Bank for International Settlements said last year that the “notional amount outstanding for derivatives contracts” was $542 trillion, although the gross market value was put at just $12.7 trillion. Others suggest it is $1.2 quadrillion or more. Tehran has not voiced this “nuclear option” openly. And yet General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force and a Pentagon bête noire, evoked it in internal Iranian discussions. The information was duly circulated to France, Britain and Germany, the EU-3 members of the Iran nuclear deal (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), also causing a panic.

Oil derivative specialists know well that if the flow of energy in the Gulf is blocked it could lead to the price of oil reaching $200 a barrel, or much higher over an extended period. Crashing the derivatives market would create an unprecedented global depression. Trump’s former Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin should know as much. And Trump himself seems to have given the game away. He’s now on the record essentially saying that Iran has no strategic value to the US. According to the American source: “He really wants a face-saving way to get out of the problem his advisers Bolton and Pompeo got him into. Washington now needs a face-saving way out. Iran is not asking for meetings. The US is.”

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Quicksand. The entire country.

Welsh Government Officially Switches To Campaign For Remain (TNE)

Brexit minister Jeremy Miles said that efforts towards an acceptable Brexit had reached “the end of the road”. He said any Brexit deal must now be subject to a public vote, with remaining in the EU on the ballot paper. The Labour-led government, along with Plaid Cymru, had previously followed a 2017 policy outlined in the White Paper ‘Securing Wales’ Future’, that aimed to find “the least damaging kind of Brexit”, as Miles put it. But the government in Westminster have made this impossible, he said. “We as a government must recognise these realities and change course,” said Miles. “Parliament should now show the courage to admit it is deadlocked.” Although Wales voted to leave by 52%, public opinion has shifted towards Remain, said Miles.

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Strongarming?!

Fitch Downgrades Mexico And Moody’s Lowers Outlook (R.)

In a double blow for Mexico, credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded the nation’s sovereign debt rating on Wednesday, citing risks posed by heavily indebted oil company Pemex and trade tensions, while Moody’s lowered its outlook to negative. The Mexican peso weakened as much as 1.3% on the news. Cutting Mexico’s rating to BBB, nearing junk status, Fitch said the financial woes of state oil company Pemex were taking a toll on the nation’s prospects. Fitch said mounting trade tensions influenced its view, according to a statement issued shortly after the end of a meeting in the White House in which Mexican officials tried to stave off tariffs U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to impose next week.


Following a surge in mostly Central American migrants arriving at the U.S. border, Trump threatened blanket tariffs on Mexican imports if it did not do more to stem the flow. “Growth continues to underperform, and downside risks are magnified by threats by U.S. President Trump,” Fitch said. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December with ambitious plans to build a $8 billion refinery, a decision ratings agencies and investors warned would divert funds from its more profitable production and exploration business. Lopez Obrador has said the ratings agencies were punishing Mexico for the “neo-liberal” policies of previous administrations. A Reuters analysis of Pemex accounts from the past decade shows debt increased by 75% during the term of Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, amid a landmark energy reform.

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The same governments that talk about going green own carmakers.

Fiat Chrysler Withdraws Merger Offer For Renault, Blames French Politics (R.)

Fiat Chrysler said it has abandoned its $35 billion merger offer for Renault, blaming French politics for scuttling what would have been a landmark deal to create the world’s third-biggest automaker. A source close to the French carmaker’s board said Fiat Chrysler made the move after France sought to delay a decision on the deal in order to win the support of Nissan Motor Co, Renault’s Japanese alliance partner. French government officials had pushed for Nissan to support the merger. Nissan had said it would abstain. The French government, which owns a 15% stake in Renault, had also pushed Fiat Chrysler for guarantees that France would not lose jobs, and for a dividend to be paid to Renault shareholders, including the government, people familiar with the talks said.


Fiat Chrysler’s original proposal offered no special dividend to Renault shareholders. “It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement issued early Thursday from London. Renault, in a separate statement, said its board was “unable to take a decision due to the request expressed by the representatives of the French state to postpone the vote to a later meeting.”

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Russia lost an entire generation of young men.

Lavrov Says D-Day Memorials Are Part Of A ‘False’ History Of WWII (BI)

Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France, Russia’s foreign minister has written an article arguing that the commemorations of the event are part of a “false” history that belittles the contributions of the Soviet Union toward defeating Nazi Germany. Sergey Lavrov chastised Western powers in an article published in Russia’s International Affairs magazine on Tuesday, ahead of events in Europe to mark the D-Day landings on the Nazi-occupied Normandy coast. “False interpretations of history are being introduced into the Western education system with mystifications and pseudo-historical theories designed to belittle the feat of our ancestors,” Lavrov wrote.


“Young people are being told that the main credit in victory over Nazism and liberation of Europe goes not to the Soviet troops, but to the West due to the landing in Normandy, which took place less than a year before Nazism was defeated.” He added: “It was the peoples of the Soviet Union who broke the backbone of the Third Reich. That is a fact.” [..] Historians agree that the Soviets sustained the heaviest losses of all powers involved in World War II, placing the death toll for the Red Army at between 9 million and 11 million troops, part of an estimated 26 million Soviet citizens who died. Lavrov also wrote Russia had been falsely labeled as an aggressor in World War II. “Our detractors seek to diminish the role of the Soviet Union in World War II and portray it if not as the main culprit of the war, then at least as an aggressor, along with Nazi Germany,” he wrote.

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Quite the claim: “There was a wish to wait for the maximum weakening of Germany’s military power from its enormous losses in the east, while reducing losses in the west..”

Russia to West: D-Day Wasn’t Decisive In Ending World War Two (R.)

Russia told the West on Wednesday the Normandy landings on D-Day in 1944 did not play a decisive role in ending World War Two and that the Allied war effort should not be exaggerated. Moscow’s comments might irk war veterans in Britain where the 75th anniversary on Wednesday of the largest seaborne invasion in history was marked at a ceremony in Portsmouth attended by Queen Elizabeth and world leaders including Donald Trump and Angela Merkel. Speaking at a weekly news conference in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova offered a tribute to those who died on the western front of World War Two and said Moscow appreciated the Allied war effort.

“It should of course not be exaggerated. And especially not at the same time as diminishing the Soviet Union’s titanic efforts, without which this victory simply would not have happened,” she said. The Soviet Union lost over 25 million lives in what it calls the Great Patriotic War, and Moscow under President Vladimir Putin has taken to marking victory in the war with a massive annual military parade on Red Square. “As historians note, the Normandy landing did not have a decisive impact on the outcome of World War Two and the Great Patriotic War. It had already been pre-determined as a result of the Red Army’s victories, mainly at Stalingrad (in late 1942) and Kursk (in mid-1943),” Zakharova told reporters.

More than 150,000 allied troops launched an air, sea and land attack on Normandy on June 6, 1944 that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from Nazi Germany. Moscow, which had been fighting German forces in the east for almost three years by the time of D-Day, and gradually pushing them back from early 1943, had been urging Britain’s Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942. “There was a wish to wait for the maximum weakening of Germany’s military power from its enormous losses in the east, while reducing losses in the west,” she said.

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And we just keep making the stuff. And keep proclaiming we love our children.

People Eat At Least 50,000 Plastic Particles A Year (G.)

The average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and breathes in a similar quantity, according to the first study to estimate human ingestion of plastic pollution. The true number is likely to be many times higher, as only a small number of foods and drinks have been analysed for plastic contamination. The scientists reported that drinking a lot of bottled water drastically increased the particles consumed. The health impacts of ingesting microplastic are unknown, but they could release toxic substances. Some pieces are small enough to penetrate human tissues, where they could trigger immune reactions.

Microplastic pollution is mostly created by the disintegration of plastic litter and appears to be ubiquitous across the planet. Researchers find microplastics everywhere they look; in the air, soil, rivers and the deepest oceans around the world. [..] Most food and drink types have not been tested, however, meaning the study only assessed 15% of calorie intake. “We don’t know a huge amount. There are some major data gaps that need to get filled,” said Kieran Cox, at the University of Victoria in Canada, who led the research.

Other foods, such as bread, processed products, meat, dairy and vegetables, may well contain just as much plastic, he said. “It is really highly likely there is going to be large amounts of plastic particles in these. You could be heading into the hundreds of thousands.” Some of the best available data is on water, with bottled water containing 22 times more microplastic than tap water on average. A person who only drank bottled water would consume 130,000 particles per year from that source alone, the researchers said, compared with 4,000 from tap water.

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