Dec 262022
 
 December 26, 2022  Posted by at 10:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  61 Responses »


Saul Leiter Man in straw hat 1955

 

Ukraine War Tolls Death Knell for NATO (Bhadrakuma)r
Putin Says He’s Ready To Negotiate ‘With Everyone Involved’ Over Ukraine (Hill)
Putin “Ready” To Negotiate, But West Wants To “Tear Apart” Russia (ZH)
Only One Nation Benefits From Sanctions On Russia – Minister (RT)
Erdogan Accuses West Of ‘Provocations’ Over Ukraine (RT)
West Issues Ultimatum To Serbia – Media (RT)
Ukraine Hits Airbase 300 Miles Deep into Russia (GR)
GOP Senators Blast McConnell For ‘Arrogance,’ Voter Betrayal (JTN)
Rand Paul Savages DC Elites With Epic “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (DCE)
Rep. James Comer Calls For Defunding the FBI (DCE)
The Democrats are Now the War Party (Chris Hedges)
Soros Behind Twitter Operation to Shut Down Hunter Biden Laptop Story (BN)
In Post-Soviet Russia, New Years Remains A Bigger Holiday Than Christmas (RT)

 

 

What happened to us?

 

 

 

 

Musk

 

 

 

 

Stop now

 

 

Never leaves the human body

 

 

Control group

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved..”

Ukraine War Tolls Death Knell for NATO (Bhadrakuma)r

The defining moment in US President Joe Biden’s press conference at the White House last Wednesday, during President Zelensky’s visit, was his virtual admission that he is constrained in the proxy war in Ukraine, as European allies don’t want a war with Russia. To quote Biden, “Now, you say, ‘Why don’t we just give Ukraine everything there is to give?’ Well, for two reasons. One, there’s an entire Alliance that is critical to stay with Ukraine. And the idea that we would give Ukraine material that is fundamentally different than is already going there would have a prospect of breaking up NATO and breaking up the European Union and the rest of the world… I’ve spent several hundred hours face-to-face with our European allies and the heads of state of those countries, and making the case as to why it was overwhelmingly in their interest that they continue to support Ukraine… They understand it fully, but they’re not looking to go to war with Russia. They’re not looking for a third World War.”

Biden realised at that point that “I probably already said too much” and abruptly ended the press conference. He probably forgot that he was dwelling on the fragility of Western unity. The whole point is that the western commentariat largely forgets that Russia’s core agenda is not about territorial conquest — much as Ukraine is vital to Russian interests — but about NATO expansion. And that has not changed. Every now and then President Putin revisits the fundamental theme that the US consistently aimed to weaken and dismember Russia. As recently as last Wednesday, Putin invoked the Chechen war in the 1990s — “the use of international terrorists in the Caucasus, to finish off Russia and to split the Russian Federation… They [US] claimed to condemn al-Qaeda and other criminals, yet they considered using them on the territory of Russia as acceptable and provided all kinds of assistance to them, including material, information, political and any other support, notably military support, to encourage them to continue fighting against Russia.”

Putin has a phenomenal memory and would have been alluding to Biden’s careful choice of William Burns as his CIA chief. Burns was Moscow Embassy’s point person for Chechnya in the 1990s! Putin has now ordered a nation-wide campaign to root out the vast tentacles that the US intelligence planted on Russian soil for internal subversion. Carnegie, once headed by Burns, has since shut down its Moscow office, and the Russian staff fled to the West! The leitmotif of the expanded meeting of the Board of the Defence Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday, which Putin addressed, was the profound reality that Russia’s confrontation with the US is not going to end with Ukraine war. Putin exhorted the Russian top brass to “carefully analyse” the lessons of Ukraine and Syrian conflicts. Importantly, Putin said, “We will continue maintaining and improving the combat readiness of the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved. This year, the level of modern armaments in the strategic nuclear forces has already exceeded 91 percent. We continue rearming the regiments of our strategic missile forces with modern missile systems with Avangard hypersonic warheads.”

Read more …

“..Zelensky has laid out a series of 10 conditions that must be met for peace to be achieved..”

That’s what you do when you’re losing.. You come with conditions.

Putin Says He’s Ready To Negotiate ‘With Everyone Involved’ Over Ukraine (Hill)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he’s ready to negotiate “with everyone involved” in the war with Ukraine. Putin told a Russian news reporter in an interview that aired on Russian media on Sunday that the Kremlin is ready to negotiate but their enemy are the ones refusing to talk. The comments from the Russian leader follow intense Russian shelling on the Ukrainian city of Kherson on Christmas Eve that killed at least 10 people and injured more than 50 others. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Russia as “absolute evil” on Saturday following the deadly strikes, which he said were for “the sake of intimidation and pleasure.” Zelensky and President Biden discussed what a “just peace” would look like when Zelensky visited the United States on Wednesday for his first international trip since the war started in February.


Zelensky has laid out a series of 10 conditions that must be met for peace to be achieved, including total Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. This would also include a Russian withdrawal from the Crimean Peninsula under the Ukrainian demands. [..] Putin has previously called on Ukraine and the international community to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, which they have been unwilling to do. Putin said in the interview that Russia is defending its national interests and its citizens in the 10-month conflict, The Associated Press reported. But he said Russia is prepared to negotiate “some acceptable outcomes” with all participants in the conflict. Putin called the conflict a war for the first time in a televised news conference on Thursday, saying it is Russia’s goal to end it. He previously only referred to it as a “special military operation.”

Putin direct

Read more …

“..we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people..”

Putin “Ready” To Negotiate, But West Wants To “Tear Apart” Russia (ZH)

In a Sunday interview with Rossiya 1 state television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is now ready to negotiate an end to the conflict in Ukraine. However, he once again pointed the finger at the West for making any dialogue toward an acceptable end to the fighting all but impossible. “We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin said. “I believe that we are acting in the right direction, we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no other choice but to protect our citizens,” he added. From Moscow’s point of view, a signal of Ukraine’s ‘seriousness’ about talks would likely hinge on Kiev’s willingness to compromise on territorial concessions, especially regarding the Donbas in the east.


Additionally the Ukrainians would likely have to acknowledge Russian control over the Crimea. However, President Zelensky on Wednesday in his speech before Congress pledged “absolute victory” and has of late been vehement in rejecting any talk of letting go of territory as a non-starter, especially as the months-long Ukrainian counteroffensive has met with some significant successes.Also in the interview Putin continued his theme of the US and NATO waging a proxy war using Ukraine as a pawn. He said in the Sunday comments that the West is attempting to “tear apart” Russia. “At the core of it all is the policy of our geopolitical opponents, aiming to tear apart Russia, the historical Russia,” Putin said. “They have always tried to ‘divide and conquer’… Our goal is something else – to unite the Russian people.”

Read more …

“..were orchestrated to provide Europe with more expensive liquefied [natural] gas from America.”

Only One Nation Benefits From Sanctions On Russia – Minister (RT)

The sanctions the West has slapped on Russia over the Ukraine conflict are taking a heavy toll on the European economy, while the United States is the only actor profiting from the restrictions, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Saturday. Speaking to Asharq News daily, the minister claimed that Western sanctions had helped the Americans to achieve what they wanted, saying “their supplies of oil and gas to the European market have increased.” Energy shipments from the US, however, have proved costly for Europeans, resulting in skyrocketing inflation and decreased competitive power for European businesses, Siluanov said. According to the minister, both Western sanctions and the blasts that ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in late September “were orchestrated to provide Europe with more expensive liquefied [natural] gas from America.”

“America benefits, Europe loses,” he explained. Moscow has called the sabotage a terrorist attack, claiming that the US stood to benefit the most from the explosions. While Washington has denied any involvement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the incident as a “tremendous opportunity” for Europe to wean itself off of Russian energy. Siluanov went on to admit that sanctions have affected the Russian economy. “But they inflicted on the West no less, and perhaps even more pain,” he said, adding that the sanctions rhetoric has now become routine. The minister noted that the EU price cap on Russian oil “will certainly lead to price and market distortions,” reiterating Moscow’s position that it would not provide crude under contracts conforming to Western-mandated restrictions.

Russian oil companies are rerouting their oil shipments from the West in other directions, the minister said. “We will be looking for new markets, looking for new logistics. It is possible that this would be more expensive,” he stated. Earlier this month, the EU, the G7 countries and Australia introduced a price limit on Russian seaborne oil, set at $60 per barrel. The measure also prohibits Western companies from providing insurance and other services to shipments of Russian crude, unless the cargo is purchased at or below the indicated price. Following the move, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov warned that the restrictions would wreak havoc on global oil markets, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was not planning to sell oil to nations supporting the price cap.

Read more …

Erdogan plays his cards.

Erdogan Accuses West Of ‘Provocations’ Over Ukraine (RT)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has praised Türkiye’s role in securing a grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, claiming in a speech on Sunday that unlike Ankara, Western nations did not make any tangible diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict. “Unfortunately, the West has only made provocations and failed to make efforts to be a mediator in the Ukraine-Russia war,” Erdogan said at a youth event in Türkiye’s eastern Erzurum province on Sunday. Türkiye has thus “assumed this mediator role in 2022” and is set to continue its diplomatic efforts next year, building up on the success of the Black Sea corridor created as part of an Istanbul grain deal in July, Erdogan said.

The grain corridor was touted as a way to secure food supplies to the neediest nations as a matter of priority, but Erdogan confirmed Russia’s long-standing concerns, saying on Sunday that some 44 percent of the grain exported from Ukraine went to Europe instead. In the meantime Moscow voiced its readiness to supply African nations with “large volumes” of grain and fertilizers out of its own stocks for free. Ankara adopted a neutral position early in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, refusing to take part in the Western sanctions on Moscow, while continuing its military cooperation with Kiev – including selling a number of Bayraktar attack drones. A preliminary peace agreement was reportedly reached in Istanbul as early as March, but was later rejected by Ukraine under alleged pressure from the West.

The grain deal, touted as a rare victory for diplomacy, was signed in July by representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN, with a Joint Coordination Center set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments. In late October, Russia briefly suspended its participation in the agreement, after accusing Kiev of launching a terrorist attack on the Crimea bridge, and drone strikes on ships involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo. Moscow ultimately returned to the accord after receiving unspecified “written security guarantees” from Kiev. Last month, Moscow allowed “a technical prolongation” of the deal, but Russian officials have repeatedly voiced concerns that the deal is not meeting its stated goals, and have also insisted that the provisions on lifting the restrictions on Russian agricultural exports were not being fulfilled. The Turkish president expressed hope that the issue of fertilizer exports and Moscow’s other concerns would be resolved through “more intense” negotiations next year.

Read more …

Keep on poking…

West Issues Ultimatum To Serbia – Media (RT)

Several Western countries have “sent an ultimatum” to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, demanding that Serbs in the northern part of breakaway Kosovo end their stand-off with local authorities, news website Pink.rs reported on Sunday. The outlet claims that ambassadors of the Quint group, comprising the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy, are calling for barricades in the region be removed within 24 hours. If Belgrade fails to ensure this, the Western powers will reportedly let Albin Kurti, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian prime minister, attack local Serbs. Earlier, Kurti warned that the “removal of these barricades cannot exclude casualties.”

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina flared up earlier this month when Serbs, who make up the majority in the northern part of province, put up barriers to protest against the arrest of a former police officer, accused of attacking a Kosovo law enforcement patrol. After this, Vucic asked NATO’s KFOR peacekeepers for permission to deploy up to 1,000 Serbian troops and police officers in Kosovo, as it is entitled to do under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which put an end to the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999. However, these plans were resisted by the US, with Gabriel Escobar, the State Department’s special envoy for the region, saying Washington had given Kosovo “very firm security guarantees.”

On Sunday, KFOR said that shots had been fired near a NATO patrol in northern part of Kosovo, close to the roadblocks, adding that there were no casualties. It stopped short of assigning blame. However, Serbian media, citing eyewitnesses, claimed that the incident took place when Kosovo’s special forces attempted to clear barricades near a town of Zubin Potok. With no sign of tensions abating, Milan Mojsilovic, Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, told local media on Sunday that the situation is complex, and requires the presence of the Serbian military along the administrative line which divides Kosovo from the rest of Serbia. NATO took control of Kosovo in 1999, after bombing Serbia on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists. The province’s provisional government declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade has refused to recognize.

Read more …

They’re shot down but still kill.

Ukraine Hits Airbase 300 Miles Deep into Russia (GR)

Ukraine attacked with a drone an airbase in Russia’s Saratov region which lies about 500km (310 miles) northeast of the border with Ukraine. Three Russian military personnel were killed at Engels bomber base Russian news agencies reported, citing the defense ministry. Russian state media agency Tass quotes the defense ministry as saying: “On December 26, at around 01:35 Moscow time (2235 GMT), a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region. “As a result of the fall of the wreckage of the drone, three Russian technical servicemen who were at the airfield were fatally injured.”


Russia accuses Ukraine of carrying out a similar attack on the airfield, home to strategic bombers, on 5 December. In that attack three servicemen were also killed by debris from a downed Ukrainian drone, Moscow said at the time. Two aircraft were lightly damaged. According to Reuters, the twin strikes dealt Russia a major reputational blow and raised questions about why its defenses failed, analysts said, as attention turned to the use of drones in the war between neighbors. Ukraine has never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks in Russia, but has said, however, that such incidents are “karma” for Russia’s invasion. As CNN reported recently Ukraine’s state-owned weapons manufacturer Ukroboronprom has indicated several times in the last few weeks that it is close to finishing work on a new long-range drone.

Read more …

“..Unfortunately, our supporters aren’t going to buy it either.”

GOP Senators Blast McConnell For ‘Arrogance,’ Voter Betrayal (JTN)

Conservative GOP senators blasted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday for shepherding with Democrats a $1.7 trillion year-end spending bill into law over the objections of House Republicans, saying it was an act of “arrogance” that betrayed promises to voters. “Our party leadership turned on Republican voters, turned on the Republican base, turned on most Republican senators,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told “The Cats Roundtable” and host John Catsimitidas on WABC radio in New York. “It has happened before, but this is one too many times. For me, this is the final straw.” Lee called the omnibus spending bill signed into law Friday “the ugliest spending bill on record” and one that signaled “that voters don’t see much of a defining difference with Democrats.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., mocked those of his GOP colleagues who voted for the bill and celebrated its passage. “To declare that a victory, to say that’s a win, that’s like a football team that just lost the game 60 to 0, and they kick a field goal in the waning seconds and say the field goal is a big win,” Johnson told Catsimitidas. “No, we just got our you-know-whats handed to us.” Johnson said that McConnell’s maneuver not only betrayed conservative voters but also undercut House Republicans about to take over in January who had asked for a short-term spending plan. “Unfortunately, the arrogance of our leadership who said, ‘We know better than House members. We’re going to pass this.’ … I’m not buying it,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, our supporters aren’t going to buy it either.”

Other senators took to Twitter to express their disdain for the spending law, warning it will worsen inflation next year. “I voted AGAINST the $1.7 TRILLION spending bill because I promised Florida families I’d fight every day to make Washington work for them,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., tweeted. “This reckless inflation bomb is a disaster for our economy and a slap in the face to Floridians struggling to make ends meet.”

Read more …

“The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of pork danced in their heads. No budget was found, just mischief and debt.”

Rand Paul Savages DC Elites With Epic “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (DCE)

This Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) posted a parody of the classic Christmas poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to this social media, this time directed at the Democrat’s omnibus spending bill — which costs America a whopping $1.7 trillion dollars. “Twas the week before Christmas, and through the Senate and House, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The earmarks were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,” Paul begins.= “The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of pork danced in their heads. No budget was found, just mischief and debt. While the taxpayers hung their poor heads and wept. When out on the lawn arose such a clatter — Senators sprang from their oxygen. What was the matter?” Paul added. “Away to the window, they flew like a flash, tore open the shutter when they heard the word cash.”

Then Senator Paul decided to name names — and he was genuinely bipartisan here, scorching high spenders on both sides of the aisle! Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author’s opinion. This Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) posted a parody of the classic Christmas poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to this social media, this time directed at the Democrat’s omnibus spending bill — which costs America a whopping $1.7 trillion dollars. “Twas the week before Christmas, and through the Senate and House, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The earmarks were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,” Paul begins. “The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of pork danced in their heads. No budget was found, just mischief and debt.

“While the taxpayers hung their poor heads and wept. When out on the lawn arose such a clatter — Senators sprang from their oxygen. What was the matter?” Paul added. “Away to the window, they flew like a flash, tore open the shutter when they heard the word cash.” Then Senator Paul decided to name names — and he was genuinely bipartisan here, scorching high spenders on both sides of the aisle! “With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick. More rapid than eagles. His coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name: Now, McConnell! Now, Schumer! Now, Pelosi and Vixen! On Biden! On Stupid! On Dumber and Blitzen! To debt! To bankruptcy! To free money for all”

Read more …

“We need to halt everything with the FBI, all funding, until they come forward and explain to Congress exactly what they were doing..”

Rep. James Comer Calls For Defunding the FBI (DCE)

On Tuesday, Rep. James Comer, who is expected to be the incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, spoke to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo about the recent revelations from the “Twitter Files” about the FBI’s influence in the silencing of the Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020. When asked about the latest releases of the Twitter files, which outlined the FBI’s cooperation with Twitter to counter “misinformation” and “disinformation” on the social media site, Comer emphasized that the initial discovery proves wrongdoing, but additional investigations will have to be conducted.“Well, it means a lot more evidence of wrongdoing,” he told Bartiromo. “You know, in the beginning, I thought that there were probably two or three rogue employees who were orchestrating this cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop story. But now we know the FBI had a division of at least 80 agents.”

“We also know that the FBI paid Twitter over $3 million for their time, all the time they took over the past couple of years in telling them who to suppress, who to ban,” the congressman explained. “You know, it’s just things that the government has no role in. The FBI was never granted the authority to create any type of disinformation task force that policed the social media sites.” “Now, this we know with Twitter, we’ve heard similar stories from Zuckerberg,” the Kentuckian explained referencing Zuckerberg’s admittance that Facebook deemphasized stories at the request of the FBI. “Who knows what went on at YouTube and Google? This is an agency that’s out of control.”

“And the most frustrating thing for me right now, Maria, is the fact that in this omnibus bill, there’s increased funding for the FBI, plus a $1.75 billion headquarters facility for the FBI,” he explained in reference to the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill currently being considered in the Senate. “We need to halt everything with the FBI, all funding, until they come forward and explain to Congress exactly what they were doing, why they were doing it, and who gave them the authority to do it.”

Read more …

“..No weapons system is too costly. No war, no matter how disastrous, goes unfunded. No military budget is too big..”

The Democrats are Now the War Party (Chris Hedges)

The Democrats position themselves as the party of virtue, cloaking their support for the war industry in moral language stretching back to Korea and Vietnam, when President Ngo Dinh Diem was as lionized as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. All the wars they support and fund are “good” wars. All the enemies they fight, the latest being Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, are incarnations of evil. The photo of a beaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris holding up a signed Ukrainian battle flag behind Zelensky as he addressed Congress was another example of the Democratic Party’s abject subservience to the war machine.

The Democrats, especially with the presidency of Bill Clinton, became shills not only for corporate America but for the weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon. No weapons system is too costly. No war, no matter how disastrous, goes unfunded. No military budget is too big, including the $858 billion in military spending allocated for the current fiscal year, an increase of $45 billion above what the Biden administration requested. The historian Arnold Toynbee cited unchecked militarism as the fatal disease of empires, arguing that they ultimatley commit suicide.

There once was a wing of the Democratic Party that questioned and stood up to the war industry: Senators J. William Fulbright, George McGovern, Gene McCarthy, Mike Gravel, William Proxmire and House member Dennis Kucinich. But that opposition evaporated along with the antiwar movement. When 30 members of the party’s progressive caucus recently issued a call for Biden to negotiate with Putin, they were forced by the party leadership and a warmongering media to back down and rescind their letter. Not that any of them, with the exception of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have voted against the billions of dollars in weaponry sent to Ukraine or the bloated military budget. Rashida Tlaib voted present.

The opposition to the perpetual funding of the war in Ukraine has come primarily from Republicans, 11 in the Senate and 57 in the House, several, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, unhinged conspiracy theorists. Only nine Republicans in the House joined the Democrats in supporting the $1.7 trillion spending bill needed to prevent the government from shutting down, which included approval of $847 billion for the military — the total is boosted to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction. In the Senate, 29 Republicans opposed the spending bill. The Democrats, including nearly all 100 members of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus, lined up dutifully for endless war.

Read more …

DNC, FBI, FTX, Twitter, Soros. Nice.

Soros Behind Twitter Operation to Shut Down Hunter Biden Laptop Story (BN)

First Draft News, a now-defunct nonprofit that left-wing billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations funded, played a key role in Twitter’s preparation to shut down the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020, according to internal documents published by author Michael Shellenberger as part of Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files.” The Aspen Institute hosted a September 2020 training exercise for members of the media and social media leaders regarding the handling of hypothetical data leaks which were similar to the Hunter Biden laptop report that broke in October, according to Shellenberger. Claire Wardle, former executive director and co-founder of First Draft News, appeared to be an attendee of the exercise, according to an email published by Shellenberger.

The address that apparently belonged to Wardle was one of multiple recipients in an email to top national security reporters, Facebook’s head of security policy and others, according to Shellenberger. The Open Society Foundations, which left-wing megadonor Soros chairs, once funded First Draft News. The organization shut down in June. “Today we are announcing that First Draft is closing its doors to make way for the next chapter — its mission will continue at the newly launched Information Futures Lab, an initiative from Brown’s School of Public Health,” an announcement from Wardle reads.

The Aspen Institute training exercise, titled “The Burisma Leak,” involved a series of hypothetical leaks during October 2020 showing that Hunter Biden had made more money in his role at Burisma than previously disclosed and had communicated with his father about his work there, Shellenberger reported. The exercise was meant to shape how the media covered the eventual leak of the Hunter Biden laptop story and the way social media platforms carried it. The Aspen Institute, a left-leaning think tank funded by massive philanthropic organizations including the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation, runs the Commission on Information Disorder, an anti-disinformation project that’s drawn ire from conservatives for its alleged far-left partisanship. The commission has urged social media platforms to censor accounts it considers misinformation “superspreaders” through demonetization, the removal of what it considers inaccurate posts and penalties for offending users.

Read more …

Pretty brilliant history lesson.

In Post-Soviet Russia, New Years Remains A Bigger Holiday Than Christmas (RT)

Present-day Russia is almost the only major Christian country in the world where New Year festivities are more prominent than those of Christmas. While Westerners are unpacking gifts on December 24th, Russians are still immersed in an atmosphere of their upcoming holiday, which, when it comes around, is filled with age-old traditions and lasts almost two weeks. To understand why the New Year has become a special celebration in Russia and what sets it apart from other countries, we must first dive into the history of the holiday. It was only in 1700 that Russia joined the pan-European tradition of celebrating the New Year on January 1, following a decree by Emperor Peter the Great. Before that, Russians had celebrated New Year’s on March 1, when it was time to prepare for the new season of agricultural work.

However, despite the will of the emperor, Russia did not fully synchronize with the rest of Europe – the country at the time functioned according to the old Julian calendar, while most European countries had already switched to the Gregorian one. Therefore, the new year in Russia began 13 days later. This became a key aspect that influenced the modern traditions of New Year celebrations. Thanks to Peter the Great, the New Year moved closer to the main Christian holiday, Christmas. For the next two hundred years, New Year and Christmas celebrations in Russia were a lot like those in Western Europe. The difference was only in the religious form – Russia followed Christian Orthodox canons, while the likes of France and Germany followed Catholic and Protestant ones.

Everything changed with the October Revolution, the overthrow of the emperor, and the creation of the new state – the USSR. The Bolsheviks carried out several reforms in the first years after the revolution that directly affected how Russia celebrates the New Year today, in the 21st century. On January 26, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars of Russia issued a decree on the transition to the Gregorian calendar. As a result, the country celebrated the start of the year 1919 simultaneously with Western Europe. In 1929, the celebration of Christmas was officially ‘canceled.’ Although by this time the New Year had become a completely independent secular holiday, Christmas was privately celebrated in many homes.

Even in 1924, shortly before Lenin’s death, a Christmas Tree celebration was held for children. But, after 1929, the most important Christian date was erased from the calendar and remained exclusively in the homes of religious people. At the same time, the Orthodox Church did not switch to the Gregorian calendar, and therefore Orthodox Christmas is still celebrated on January 7, not December 25.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Ferns

 

 

Peter Sellers

 

 

 

 

Croc

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 152022
 
 November 15, 2022  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  62 Responses »


Salvador Dali Sick Boy (Self-portrait in Cadaqués) 1923

 

US Scrambles To Reassure Ukraine After Milley Comments On Negotiations (Pol.)
Zelenksy At G20 Summit: This is The Moment To End The War (Tel.)
UN Calls On Russia To Pay Ukraine Reparations (RT)
The Kherson Question (Nora Hoppe)
‘The Last Battle for the World’ (Batiushka)
Poland To Seize Gazprom Assets (RT)
G20: What Does It Mean For Putin And The Event Itself? (Maxim Hvatkov)
GOP Nears House Majority With Two Race Calls In Arizona (JTN)
Midterm Success Brings US Democrats To A Historic Dilemma (Desai)
The Triumph of The Centre (Soldo)
FTX Implosion Takes Its First Crypto Victim (RT)
What the Collapse of FTX Means (Burja)
Corporate Layoffs Are A Warning Sign Of Coming ‘Economic Crash Landing’ (JTN)
World Population Expected To Hit 8 Billion On Nov. 15 (JTN)
A Father Fights for His Son & What’s Left of Democracy (Lauria)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tucker

 

 

 

 

Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.”
~ Khalil Gibran

 

 

 

 

“The four-star general said during an appearance at the Economic Club of New York that a victory by Ukraine may not be achieved militarily..”

US Scrambles To Reassure Ukraine After Milley Comments On Negotiations (Pol.)

The Biden administration is in damage control mode after a top U.S. general said a window for peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow could open this winter, with senior officials scrambling to assure Ukraine it wasn’t undercutting its goal of expelling the Russians. Specifically, senior U.S. officials are telling their counterparts in Ukraine that the expected winter fighting pause doesn’t mean talks should happen imminently. Instead, they’re relaying that Washington will continue to support Kyiv’s militarily as it launches the next phase of advances on the battlefield, according to Ukrainian and U.S. officials familiar with the outreach.

The scramble follows comments last week by Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chair. The four-star general said during an appearance at the Economic Club of New York that a victory by Ukraine may not be achieved militarily, and that winter may provide an opportunity to begin negotiations with Russia. The general has spoken regularly with his Ukrainian counterpart, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyy, including on Monday, according to a U.S. official. During the discussion, Zaluzhnyy did not express any concern or mention Milley’s comments even once, the person said. The person, along with others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

Still, the flurry of calls and meetings with Ukrainians underscores the degree to which the administration is concerned about presenting a unified front on Ukraine and potential peace talks. Any prolonged public split among top U.S. officials could threaten the already delicate relationship between Washington and Kyiv at a key moment in the war. The Biden administration needs to ease those tensions as it balances its support for Ukraine with concerns that Western stockpiles of military equipment are running low, and the possibility of a Republican-controlled House next year that will slash aid for Kyiv. European leaders are growing anxious about the region’s energy crisis, with some raising questions with American counterparts in recent days about the extent to which talks could ease fears about rising costs.

Read more …

Google translation.

Using the optics of Kherson for a narrative that is utterly unrealistic. That’s how you prolong a war, not end it.

Zelenksy At G20 Summit: This is The Moment To End The War (Tel.)

Now is the time to end Russia’s “devastating” war and “save thousands of lives,” Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday at the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali. He presented a plan based on the withdrawal of Russian troops and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. “I am convinced that now is the time when the devastating Russian war must and can be stopped,” Zelensky said, addressing the leaders present, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden. “It will save thousands of lives.” Russian leader Vladimir Putin is not present, he is replaced by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.


The Ukrainian head of state stressed that the war must be ended “justly and on the basis of the UN Charter and international law” and called for the release of all Ukrainian prisoners. “Please choose your path to leadership and together we will surely implement the peace formula.” Zelensky wants “effective security guarantees” and insists on an international meeting where the agreements are laid down in a peace treaty. “There are and cannot be any excuses for nuclear blackmail,” he added, emphatically thanking the “G19” – excluding Russia – for “making this clear.” He also called for expansion and extension of the grain deal that expires on November 19. According to the UN, 10 million tons of Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs have been exported through the Black Sea since the deal was struck in July. That helped prevent a global food crisis.

Read more …

The UN should never choose sides in a conflict. That makes it obsolete.

UN Calls On Russia To Pay Ukraine Reparations (RT)

By a majority of votes, the UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution that would oblige Russia to compensate losses inflicted on Ukraine during the conflict and has recognized the need to create a special “international mechanism” that would allow it to do so. The resolution was supported by 94 countries in the 193-member world body vote on Monday. Some 73 more states abstained, while 14 countries voted against. Among others, those voting against the resolution included Russia itself, as well as China, Iran, and Syria. “An international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss, or injury”arising from Russia’s “wrongful acts” in Ukraine needs to be established, the resolution says.


The assembly’s members should create “an international register” that would include claims or data regarding damages, losses and injuries to Ukraine caused by Russia, the UN decided. While the UNGA resolutions are not legally binding, they do carry political weight. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, speaking on the topic of the resolution, called it a legally insignificant document. “At the same time, the co-authors cannot help but realize that the adoption of such a resolution will entail consequences that can boomerang back to them,” Nebenzia said. He added that the resolution intended to legalize the seizure of Russian assets previously frozen by Western countries.

Read more …

“The sacredness of Life is gone. We have become spectators… and our world has become a spectacle.”

The Kherson Question (Nora Hoppe)

I follow the news regularly on Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine. And I have recently read and heard many varying and divisionary views on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson, a city that is now lawfully part of Russia. Dispensing with the views of the pro-NATO side, which are of no interest, I am observing the division of thought amongst analysts, journalists and commenters in forums siding with the Russians: There are those who are outraged and see the withdrawal from Kherson as “a disgrace”, “a sign of weakness”, “an embarrassment”, “a poor strategy”, “unattractive optics”, etc. Others see it as the outcome of a difficult but wise decision – that was primarily made to save the lives of Russian soldiers, who would have been cut off by a massive flood if NATO were to blow up the Kakhovka Dam. (There may well be additional tactical reasons for the withdrawal, but they are not (yet) known to the public.)

When people speak of the “optics not looking good“… a film set immediately comes to my mind (I have worked in the film world for many years). And that immediately tells me how some people view this operation – as spectators: it has to have a good catchy script, suspense, uninterrupted action and – heaven forbid – no lulls! It has to ultimately supply a dopamine release. It has to have a “Dirty Harry Catharsis”. This reminds me of similar reactions to the prisoner exchange in mid-September, where some saw it as a sign of weakness to even think of releasing Azov prisoners… or when the Chinese government did not deliver a dramatic retort when Pelosi went to do her skit in Taiwan. What is at the base of these kinds of reactions? Why such impatience? Why such concern with “appearances”? Why such a need to satiate one’s own personal sense of justice and retribution?

Does it have something to do with consuming? Especially in the western world one has become an addicted consumer of not only things but “experiences” that can be lived indirectly. Today we witness events of other peoples’ wars and battles on computer screens from the comfort of our homes or on our tiny phones from chic cafés… these events can accessed at any moment – just press a key… and they appear – like a scene in a film, a game, a contest, a sports match. Even the dead bodies that lie mangled, bloodied or in gory stumps strewn over the mud become the pieces of a broken puppets on a stage. “Hell, one gets used to it…” The sacredness of Life is gone. We have become spectators… and our world has become a spectacle.

Read more …

“..a war of liberation against the Combined West..”

‘The Last Battle for the World’ (Batiushka)

When last week Allied troops quit the right (= western, or in this case northern (1)) bank of the Dnieper and so the regional city of Kherson (original population 283,000), confusion reigned among those with a short-term view of this conflict. Probably they had been listening to Western propaganda for too long. Probably they had forgotten that if Russia had difficulties holding right-bank Kherson, then the Ukraine would certainly have even more difficulties. Let us return to some basic facts in order to clear up some of the confusion The government of the Russian Federation was reluctant to intervene in the post-regime change Ukraine of 2014. It always hoped that negotiations and diplomacy would overcome Western aggressiveness and stupidity.

The government of the Russian Federation knew that the USA through its NATO vassals was pumping the Ukraine full of arms and training its troops for the eight years between 2014 and 2022. Therefore the government of the Russian Federation had eight years in which to plan for this conflict, planning different scenarios and also preparing probing and distracting movements, like that towards Kiev last March. One scenario was that the US would continue to intervene on the side of its Kiev puppet and arm it to the teeth, also using NATO countries, officers and huge numbers of mercenaries to prolong the conflict, so that it would develop into a US war against Russia. That is exactly what has happened.

Russia defeated the Ukraine in March, but since then it has had to defeat the USA and its NATO allies, demilitarising them just as it demilitarised the Ukraine in the first month of the conflict. This is why there will be no quick end to what the conflict has become – a war of liberation against the Combined West. A NATO Ukraine with Cargill-Monsanto-Blackstone-Black Rock-owned land, anti-Slav biolabs, potential nuclear arms, US missiles on the border with the Federation, genocide in the Russian East and South, Western globalism and its escaped covid experiment with bioweapons helping it to destroy Russia and so set up its World Dictatorship, became more and more abhorrent. All this made Russian liberation more and more probable. But liberation only of the willing. And who was willing?

The government of the Russian Federation always knew that in the far west of the Ukraine, formerly Poland, there was hatred for Russia and therefore it had no interest in taking that. The government of the Russian Federation and its Allies first had to free its allies in the Donbass and then demilitarise and denazify the rest of the ‘Anti-Russia’ Ukraine, which was threatening its survival. Today Ukraine is running a budget deficit of up to $5 billion per month, with the country’s military spending increasing fivefold to $17 billion for the first seven months of 2022.

Read more …

Why do they want a pipeline that has no gas flowing through it?

Poland To Seize Gazprom Assets (RT)

Warsaw is set to confiscate the assets of Russian energy major Gazprom, the country’s media reported on Monday. The move will target the company’s 48% stake in EuroPolGaz, which owns the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline that used to carry Russian gas to the EU. The decision to seize Gazprom’s shares was reportedly made by Minister of Development and Technology Waldemar Buda at the request of Poland’s Internal Security Agency. It is intended to “ensure the security of [Poland’s] critical infrastructure,” the ministry said. According to the media, Polish authorities said the order should be implemented immediately and established a mandatory administration in respect of the Russian entity to ensure the continued functionality of EuroPolGaz, a joint venture between the Russian gas major and Poland’s PGNiG.


The Polish energy major also owns a 48% stake in EuroPolGaz, and Gas-Trading SA the remaining 4%. The Yamal-Europe gas pipeline passes through Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany, and it used to carry nearly half of Gazprom’s westbound gas deliveries. Poland’s sanctions against the Russian gas producer have deprived the company of its shareholder status in EuroPolGaz since April, blocking its voting rights and the ability to repatriate dividends. In May, the Polish government terminated a Russian natural gas contract without waiting for its expiry at the end of 2022, saying the country’s section of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline could be used for supplies from Germany.

Read more …

G20 – G7 = BRICS. Not exactly, but close.

G20: What Does It Mean For Putin And The Event Itself? (Maxim Hvatkov)

Participants of the G20 summit have already arrived in Bali, and it seems that some wish Putin was there. French President Emmanuel Macron has stated the need to continue dialogue with Russian President, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz admitted that “it would be good if Putin went,” and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes that the participation of his Russian counterpart would be appropriate. All this is against the backdrop of China’s support. The Washington Post has written that Western countries are alarmed by the partnership between Putin and Xi. The newspaper’s sources do not think that Beijing will refuse to support Russia at the summit even after the meeting between Biden and and the Chinese head-of-state.

Although several days have passed since Sergey Lavrov’s trip was announced, it is still unknown whether any bilateral meetings are planned for the Russian minister. In particular, Moscow has yet to mention a possible encounter with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The main news about Lavrov in Bali, so far, was pushed by AP and some other Western outlets, on Monday, reporting that he had been taken to hospital with heart problems shortly after arriving. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said these reports are “top-level fake news”. The diplomat, who is also in Bali, said that she was reading the news with the foreign minister and they both “just couldn’t believe our eyes.” Earlier she announced that Lavrov plans to speak at the summit about Russia’s initiatives to provide food and energy to foreign markets. In addition, Moscow’s agenda includes presenting its plan to enhance gas cooperation with Turkey.

[..] However, it is not known whether the 2022 Bali summit will be useful in helping the world take a step forward in overcoming the Ukrainian crisis, as some expect. So far, all the statements of Western leaders have indicated the opposite. Western countries have been putting pressure on the summit’s host to exclude the Russian Federation from the event since Vladimir Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine last February. For example, the US president’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that Russia can no longer take part in the international community’s business “as usual,” while Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau even suggested that his country should take Moscow’s place in the G20 club. Nevertheless, Indonesia sent an invitation to President Putin, despite the pressure.

[..] The G20 format was born in the late 1990s after the Asian financial crisis, when the mainly Western countries in the ‘Big Seven’ – the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada – realized that a number of large economies were not participating in discussions on global issues. The newcomers invited to the table include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union. However, the format did not reach its current status until the next global financial crisis, in 2008-2009. Prior to that, the meetings had only included finance ministers and the heads of central banks. However, subsequently world leaders themselves met at the summits annually to consult, first and foremost, on financial and economic issues. In 2013, the G20 was held in St. Petersburg. [..] The G20 countries are home to two-thirds of the world’s population. They also account for 85% of world GDP and about 75% of world trade.

Read more …

Ballots, not votes.

GOP Nears House Majority With Two Race Calls In Arizona (JTN)

A Monday night vote dump from Arizona prompted the Associated Press to call two more congressional races in favor of Republican candidates, nearly one week after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The AP called the contest in Arizona’s 1st District for the GOP’s David Schweikert and the 6th District race for Republican Juan Ciscomani. The outlet has projected Republicans to win 214 seats thus far, meaning they need just four more to claim the speaker’s gavel from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Republicans currently lead in seven of the 16 remaining uncalled races. Of those, one is New York’s 22nd District in which Republican Brandon Williams maintains a 4,000-vote lead over Democrat Francis Conole.


In Colorado, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert is hanging on to a slightly more than 1,000-vote lead. All remaining races currently favoring Republicans are in California. Should Williams and Boebert triumph, the GOP would need to win just two of the five California races in which they currently enjoy leads to take the House, barring any unexpected leader flips in the nine uncalled contests currently favoring Democrats. The final result, regardless of which party wins the House, is likely to be one of the narrowest margins of control in the history of the lower chamber.

Read more …

Dr. Radhika Desai, a professor at the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada and director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group. She also writes on current affairs for Valdai Club, CGTN, Counterpunch and other outlets and is the author of Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire and Capitalism, Coronavirus and War: A Geopolitical Economy

Midterm Success Brings US Democrats To A Historic Dilemma (Desai)

Pictures of a smirking President Biden graced the front pages of newspapers in the days following the midterm elections. The worst fears of the Democrats – that they would lose both houses of Congress to the Republicans in an electoral debacle that would pave the way to a MAGA Trump presidency in 2024 – remained unrealized. The feared ‘red wave’ had turned into a ‘red ripple’, and President Biden was already talking of running again in 2024, when he will be 82. How sound is this assessment? While the results are yet to be finalized, we know that the Democrats will likely continue narrowly controlling the Senate thanks to the casting vote of the vice president, and that the Republicans will gain a small majority in the House. All the praise for Biden for not losing more comes from comparisons with past midterm losses for incumbent presidents.

However, this fails to take account of critical recent changes which, if factored in, indicate not so much a secure electoral future for the Democrats but the possibility that the Democrats may have jumped from the proverbial frying pan of the increasingly complex structure of US politics, into the fire. Politics scholar William Galston has noticed the change. Speaking of US presidential elections, he observed that ‘between 1920 and 1984… the contest between the two parties resembles World War Two, with a high level of mobility and rapid gains and losses of large swaths of territory. By contrast, the contemporary era resembles World War One, with a single, mostly immobile line of battle and endless trench warfare.’ Given how few seats changed hands, it appears that this logic also applies to congressional elections, and despite recent demographic changes – college education, urbanization etc. – somewhere between 40 and 45% of the US electorate remains solidly Republican.

Moreover, Biden and his Democrats appear to have lost an unpopularity contest, rather than won a popularity contest. As President Biden’s approval rating plumbed new depths, many Democratic candidates shunned him in their campaigns. President Trump, for his part, didn’t do much better. Though most of the candidates he endorsed won, none of those he endorsed for highly contested races did. Many commentators blamed this on his emphasis on candidates who agreed with his false narrative of the ‘stolen’ 2020 presidential election. It led him to scrape the barrel of candidates, and to choose some pretty unattractive specimens. With Ron DeSantis pulling off a spectacular victory in Florida, the possibility that he will replace Trump as the Republican nominee for president is being canvassed. Even if that happens, Trumpist politics are going nowhere anytime soon.

This is clear from many aspects of the voting pattern. The small gains the Democrats made came very substantially from women and young people, generally turning out in large numbers and voting Democrat because they felt strongly about abortion rights. However, this factor may lose its utility for the Democrats if, as seems increasingly the case, the Republicans also soften their stance on abortion. For the rest, the gains came from the usual source, money. Not only was this the most expensive midterm ever, experts suggest that the Democrats outspent the Republicans very considerably. This has returned US elections to the pattern where elections are essentially bought by the highest spending party, a pattern that the election of President Donald Trump very briefly reversed.

Read more …

“..Trump would have to commandeer a vehicle in order to enact his agenda. The only possible vehicle that could assist him was the GOP. This party’s leadership had no desire to enact Trump’s populist revolution..”

The Triumph of The Centre (Soldo)

Film and television have trained our brains to expect narrative arcs in everything we experience, from rising action, through to a climax, and ending in a denouement. Real life is not like this at all, but many of us cannot help but to interpret at least some of our own lives in this fashion. We apply this trajectory to our high school lives, our first romantic relationships, even our careers. Thinking that we are at the centre of a story helps give our lives meaning, and we are all guilty of it from time to time. The rise of political theatre is also hostage to this frame of reference. We are wont to perceive political developments progressing along a neat and tidy storyline, with all the ups, downs, shocks, disappointments, and celebrations that are built into traditional storytelling. At the end, our political option is the winner, and they all went home happily ever after.

2016 USA is a classic case of this: two simultaneous challenges to the status quo came out of nowhere to threaten the ruling elites. From the left, the ‘BernieBros’ promised Americans a fairer deal that included goodies like universal healthcare. From the right, #MAGA tapped into the powerful energy of the GOP base and its rejection of mass migration, de-industrialization, and open hostility to ordinary, everyday Americans emanating from the coastal elites. For #MAGA, 2016 was indeed a fairy tale; an example of ‘people power’ where the people steamrolled first their own party’s elites, and then those of the opposing party as well. This massive surprise went to people’s heads (and to be fair, rightly so). The feeling was that the system could be reformed, the ship steered back ‘on course’, and that America genuinely could be made ‘great again’.

The problem was that it was one thing to win an election, but it was a totally different thing to actually govern and lead a revolution. And let’s be honest: a revolution is what the overwhelming majority of Trump voters in 2016 wanted. They saw a system that not only did not work for them, but was actively working against them. Trump tapped into this populist sentiment when no one else did, and rode it to the White House. Unfortunately for his supporters, Trump was no revolutionary and his presidency was a disaster thanks in part to the ruling elites subverting it, in part due to his own incapability, and also due to an Act of God. You wanted a revolutionary, instead you got a reality TV show host who was excellent on the campaign trail, but utterly out of his depth in the Oval Office.

He wasn’t the first to be ill-suited for the White House, but he was the first in a long, long time that [was] not fit and not installed by the elites. One man cannot do it all alone. The US system is a set of checks and balances to ensure that precisely this cannot happen. That means that Trump would have to commandeer a vehicle in order to enact his agenda. The only possible vehicle that could assist him was the GOP. This party’s leadership had no desire to enact Trump’s populist revolution and immediately got to work to strangle his agenda, while using him to implement their own (e.g. Paul Ryan’s tax cut bill in 2017 or SCOTUS appointments).

Read more …

There are 19,000 “coins”?!

FTX Implosion Takes Its First Crypto Victim (RT)

The cryptocurrency Solana, associated with the bankrupt FTX exchange, continued its three-day retreat on Monday to trade at around $14 a token. The price is now down 95% from its all-time high of $259.96 last November. The token has lost 61.6% of its value in the last seven days, according to data firm CoinGecko. The drop is a result of the November 8 collapse of the FTX crypto exchange, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday. Since then, the price of Solana has declined by 51.5%, which translates into a $5.5 billion loss in market value. The launch of bankruptcy proceedings by FTX came days after larger rival Binance abandoned plans to acquire the company and left it with the task of raising roughly $9 billion from investors and rivals to stay afloat. Binance backed out of the deal after a due diligence examination and recent reports of mishandled customer funds, as well as alleged investigations by the US authorities into the company.


Meanwhile, blockchain research firm Nansen revealed over the weekend that $662 million flowed out of FTX’s US and international exchanges. The firm’s main wallet, which was used to process withdrawals, was drained of its entire balance of 45.8 million FTT tokens, worth an estimated $97.2 million, Nansen said. On Monday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao announced plans to set up an industry recovery fund in an effort to “reduce further cascading negative effects” of the FTX bankruptcy. Zhao added the fund will assist otherwise strong projects that are facing a liquidity squeeze. The crypto market has lost 17.6%, or $188.4 billion, since November 7, with major crypto Bitcoin sliding down 22.4% in one week. Ether, the second cryptocurrency by market value, has fallen 24.4% over the past seven days.

Read more …

“Daily volume hit a high of around $11 billion in mid-2021, at a time of soaring cryptocurrency prices and high market volatility—ideal conditions for both a hedge fund and an exchange.”

What the Collapse of FTX Means (Burja)

After beginning his career in traditional finance at leading quantitative trading firm Jane Street Capital, Bankman-Fried’s initial forays into cryptocurrency began in October 2017 with the founding of the cryptocurrency hedge fund Alameda Research. According to Bankman-Fried, it was founded initially to take advantage of a persistent but hard-to-exploit 20% disparity between the Bitcoin price denominated in Japanese yen and the same price denominated in U.S. dollars, one that lasted until January 2018. From there the firm expanded to quantitative trading more broadly across the entire cryptocurrency domain, moving its headquarters from California to Hong Kong, and later to the Bahamas, due to the difficulty of establishing and maintaining relationships with banks in the U.S. as a cryptocurrency trading firm.

It remains unclear why exactly Bankman-Fried and Alameda decided to start their own exchange. There are two sources of natural fit between an exchange and a quantitative trading firm: one legal, the other less so. The trading firm, acting as market maker, can supply the liquidity the new exchange needs to attract and retain new users. Alameda’s constant presence trading on FTX, initially providing almost 50% of liquidity, was almost certainly largely responsible for the site’s massive growth, as it grew trading volume from $50 million a day to $300 million a day in just four weeks between June and July 2019.16 The nascent exchange also benefited from a timely outflow of customers from the cryptocurrency exchange BitMex, at the time under investigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) for illegally providing services to U.S. residents.

Alternatively, however, the exchange’s customer funds can also be used as capital for the trading firm to use on its own account—an illicit practice, as unlike banks, an exchange ostensibly keeps all customer deposits available for redemption and rather makes its money from transaction fees. That FTX’s spreads were notoriously tight, even in its early days, might suggest that Alameda was making money in a different way to the typical methods of market makers.17 FTX soared in popularity thanks to the high leverage it offered,18 provision of cross-margining,19 attractive user interface, and high-quality liquidity and risk engines. Daily active users grew from two thousand in 2019 to almost 15,000 in 2020 to over 60,000 in 2021. Daily volume hit a high of around $11 billion in mid-2021, at a time of soaring cryptocurrency prices and high market volatility—ideal conditions for both a hedge fund and an exchange.

Read more …

It’s beginning… “We now have $1 trillion in consumer debt on top of $4.1 trillion of Biden debt.”

Corporate Layoffs Are A Warning Sign Of Coming ‘Economic Crash Landing’ (JTN)

Three days after President Biden said the country’s “not anywhere near a recession right now,” Amazon founder and Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos warned a sharp economic downturn is looming. “The economy does not look great right now,” Bezos told CNN on Saturday. “Things are slowing down. You’re seeing layoffs in many, many sectors of the economy. The probabilities say if we’re not in a recession right now, we’re likely to be in one very soon.” The billionaire entrepreneur declined to estimate how long he thinks the recession would last but cautioned people to prepare for a time of economic struggle. “Take as much risk off the table as you can,” he said. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”


Two days after the interview, several media outlets reported that Amazon plans to lay off about 10,000 employees in corporate and technology roles beginning this week, the largest job cuts in the company’s history. Amazon’s decision was the latest in a string of recent corporate layoffs amid fears of a coming recession next year. Last week, for example, Facebook parent Meta announced the company is laying off 13% of its staff. Meanwhile, Disney is planning a hiring freeze and some job cuts, according to an internal company memo obtained by CNBC. [..] economic experts have been warning a recession is looming. “I think we are on the verge of a debt-driven economic crash landing,” economist Stephen Moore told Just the News. “These layoff announcements are the canary in the coal mine. We now have $1 trillion in consumer debt on top of $4.1 trillion of Biden debt.”

Americans could hold nearly $1 trillion in collective credit card debt before the end of the year due to historically high inflation, which has caused everyday costs such as food to skyrocket. According to experts who previously spoke to Just the News, soaring inflation was caused by Biden’s economic policies — namely too much spending — combined with the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates near zero while continuing to print money. Now the Federal Reserve is raising rates to slow down the economy in order to combat inflation. Doing so, however, may push the economy into a downturn, even a recession, next year. Still, the Biden administration and some economists remain optimistic that the economy can avoid such a fate with a so-called soft landing. Many projections, however, see the situation differently.


There’s a 65% chance of a recession within the next 12-18 months, according to a survey of economists conducted by Bankrate, a consumer financial services company, for its Third-Quarter Economic Indicator. That estimate is up from 52% in its second quarter survey and about one-third in its first quarter survey. Meanwhile, Bloomberg economists’ projection models from last month show a 100% chance of an economic downturn by October 2023, up from a 65% probability for the comparable period in the model’s previous update. The CEOs of both Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, the U.S. and European economic teams for Barclays bank, and former Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren are among those who also forecast a recession next year.

Read more …

Symbolic numbers.

World Population Expected To Hit 8 Billion On Nov. 15 (JTN)

The world’s human population is expected to reach 8 billion on Tuesday, according to a United Nations report released earlier this year. The United Nations will host events on Tuesday to mark “milestone in human development” that is the “Day of Eight Billion,” according to NEXSTAR. The population cleared 7 billion just 12 years ago and is expected to reach 9 billion in another 15 years. “This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in July, per the outlet. “At the same time, it is a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another.”


The milestone will come as international representatives meet for the COP27 climate summit and float a draft agreement to establish an international climate damage fund that would compensate poorer countries, often some of the most densely populated, for climate-related damages. Many details, including funding sources and damage amounts, remain undetermined and the plan is likely to stall in the international community, barring extensive revisions. Approximately 70% of births occur in low-income and lower-middle-income nations, NEXSTAR observed. Those countries will account for 90% of global population growth in the 15-year period leading up to the projected 9 billion figure. Many such countries would be beneficiaries under the draft U.N. plan.

Read more …

Ithaka.

A Father Fights for His Son & What’s Left of Democracy (Lauria)

These personal attacks were planned as far back as March 8, 2008 when a secret, 32-page document from the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessment branch of the Pentagon described in detail the importance of destroying the “feeling of trust that is WikiLeaks’ center of gravity.” The leaked document, which was published by WikiLeaks itself, said: “This would be achieved with threats of exposure and criminal prosecution and an unrelenting assault on reputation.” An answer to these slurs and the missing focus on Assange as a man is Ithaka. The film, which made its U.S. premiere Sunday night in New York, focuses on the struggle of Assange’s father, John Shipton, and his wife, Stella Assange, to free him.

If you are looking for a film more fully explaining the legal and political complexities of the case and its background, this is not the movie to see. The Spanish film, Hacking Justice, will give you that, as well as the more concise exposition in the brilliant documentary, The War on Journalism, by Juan Passarelli. Ithaka, directed by Ben Lawrence and produced by Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, humanizes Assange and reveals the impact his ordeal has had on the people closest to him. The title comes from the poem of that name by C.P. Cavafy (read here by Sean Connery) about the pathos of an uncertain journey. It reflects Shipton’s travels throughout Europe and the U.S. in defense of his son, arguably the most consequential journalist of his generation.

The story begins with Shipton arriving in London to see his son for the first time behind bars after the publisher’s rights of asylum were lifted by a new Ecuadoran government leading to him being carried out of the embassy by London police in April 2019. “The story is that I am attempting in my own … modest way to get Julian out of the shit,” Shipton says. “What does it involve? Traipsing around Europe, building up coalitions of friendship.” He meets with parliamentarians, the media and supporters across the continent. Shipton describes the journey as the “difficulty of destiny over the ease of narrative.”He speaks to the European Parliament in Strasbourg and the German Bundestag in Berlin. In Paris, Shipton admits to supporters that “he’s not okay, but I say he’s okay not to worry people.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attack!
https://twitter.com/i/status/1592391595755966465

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 192020
 


Joel Meyerowitz New York City 1963

 

 

No, no matter how much I read and watch, I can’t shake the idea (less so as I go along, actually) that the Democrats don’t really, honestly, want to win the 2020 presidential election. Obviously, there are many in the party who do, and voters too, but not the ones pushing the levers and pulling the strings. Those, whoever they may be, that are picking candidates, setting policy, maintaining media contacts, doctoring spins.

Because is there anyone among you who has ever seen a worse candidate than Joe Biden? I’m not just talking about his dementia and gaffes, but you’d be very hard-pressed to find anyone who can use Biden and enthusiasm -let alone inspiration, or even better: exhilaration- in one sentence that doesn’t include the word “no”. And isn’t that the #1 requirement for a candidate?

They ostensibly went with Kamala Harris to provide some of that, if we may believe the press. She’ll whip up the voters into wild bouts of inspiring enthusiasm! Only, Kamala bowed out of the primaries even before 2020 started, after spending $40 million -part of which is still not paid off- because she was stuck at 2% support and couldn’t generate … any enthusiasm.

What you got is a really old man who couldn’t get a toddler excited about ice cream, and a token black woman who nobody even in her own party likes. Mix those ingredients into a convention that attracts just half the viewers of the 2016 one and generates the excitement level of an infomercial for kitchen appliances, and is it any wonder I doubt that the “behind the curtain party” is in this to win?

As for the political program, the agenda, there is really only one item on it: Donald Trump. And no matter how many millions of times it may be repeated in speeches and news articles, NOT being something is in the end NOT a positive message. You’re supposed to win on your own merit, not someone else’s perceived lack of merit. Newsflash: “MOST BIDEN SUPPORTERS SAY THEIR VOTE IS AGAINST TRUMP RATHER THAN FOR BIDEN – WSJ/NBC News poll”.

This bit from the Guardian on Monday sums it up nicely, and it veers into late night comedy territory while doing it (what more can one ask for?):

Virtual Democratic Convention Kicks Off With Emphasis On Unity

The Democratic national convention begins on Monday with a star-studded lineup and heavy emphasis on unity aimed at presenting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the US’s best hope for healing a deeply divided nation[..]

The Dems have a hard enough time uniting their own party, let alone the nation. And there’s not a Trump supporter who would move into their camp – other than the odd washed up GOP politician.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on the eve of the convention found Biden with a nine-point lead over Trump nationally [..] According to the survey, Biden holds a wide advantage over Trump on nearly every issue except the economy, which voters say is a priority this election.


[..] Biden’s selection of Harris has exhilarated supporters, who showered the campaign with a stunning $48m in the 48 hours after she was announced as his running mate.[..]

What, so now they’re only $50 million or so behind?

Democrats anticipate the excitement around Harris’s historic candidacy as the first Black woman nominated for national office by a major party, will build momentum around the convention [..] Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPac, a super Pac focused on Black Democrats: “I think there is also real relief that there is a ticket people can believe in, and get behind and push over the finish line.”

Excitement, exhilaration are words that don’t seem to mean anymore what they used to.

[..] the people who were in the Bernie campaign, the people in the Biden campaign, and people outside of both of those campaigns – have really worked hard to create an effective and genuine popular front against Donald Trump,” Weaver said, adding: “Trump is a very unifying factor.”


[..] Howard Dean, a former chair of the DNC who has attended every party convention since 1980, said the new format could work in Biden’s favor. Unlike Trump, who feeds off the energy of crowds at rallies but can look wooden and uncomfortable when reading from a teleprompter, Biden, Dean said, “does better on television than he does at a podium”. “This helps him because he will be on TV projecting calmness, reasonableness and thoughtfulness,” he said. “And that’s what people are desperate for right now.”

Isn’t it great that not feeling comfortable reading from a teleprompter 24/7 in your basement has now become a negative quality? I know, it’s hard to keep up.

But then there was the reality check from CNN on Sunday. Double digit leads vanished (coincidence?) just as Kamala caused all that exhilarating excitement:

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High

[..] on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election [..] 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error [..]

Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.

It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%.

The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide).

 

The picture painted, especially amongst the most dedicated anti-Trumpers, is of course that Biden can’t lose; that’s what they all want, right? Well, think about it: CNN lives off of Trump, and so does a large part of the MSM. But then again, they made their beds and they’ll have to lie in them. The Democratic Party, however, does not. They are free to sabotage their own campaign.

And as I said above, there are many signs that MAY indicate that they are doing just that. The selection of Joe Biden, the basement strategy, the subsequent “appointment” of Kamala Harris, the near-dead convention. Do appreciate, please, that we have no idea how Biden and Kamala were “selected”. How did Biden all of a sudden rise to the top of the crop from seemingly nowhere? Where did Kamala come from post-primary mayhem? Did Joe personally pick her? Do you believe that?

But okay, if you don’t think that they would sabotage their own campaign, flip things around: if they WOULD have wanted to make sure they’d lose the election, what would they have done, you know, the donors behind the veil, plus maybe the Obamas and Clintons? Wouldn’t they perhaps have picked Biden and Kamala, whom very few people appeared to actually like, find sympathetic, prior to them being selected for their respective roles? Why not select people that DO resonate with voters without you having to forcefully shove them down their throats?

Why would a bunch of power-hungry folk (as all politicians and their sponsors are) want to screw up their own chance at obtaining power? Well, the lack of good candidates may well be a factor, but there’s something much bigger: the US economy, like most if not all western economies, is wobbling precariously on a precipice, and about to fall off. As I labeled it recently: The Bottom Is Falling Out.

Our entire present reality is still somewhat new, the COVID pandemic, its fallout, the bailouts, the government checks, the sick and the dead, but at some point it will all start to become a “normal” part of life. That doesn’t mean, however, that the economy will return to “normal” (whatever anybody ever thought that meant).

An enormous number of businesses will never reopen, entire fields will be obliterated, re: tourism, airlines, a large swath of retail stores. The unemployment that generates will be with us for many years. The Great Depression will become a mere footnote in most history books.

And the parties in charge in various countries, including the GOP in America, will be the ones blamed for most of the ensuing problems. If you’re a Democrat behind-the-curtain wizard, wouldn’t you at least consider saying: I think I’ll pass for this round, and let Trump take the heat?

Just so, you know, you can continue your cooperation with CNN, NYT, WaPo, FBI, and blame Trump every single day and 1000 times on Sunday for everything that falls apart, while continuing to generate clickbait profits ? If all you got to show for your grand ambitions is Joe Biden, it must seem a really appealing course of action.

Besides, you don’t appear to have any better candidates than Biden -at least not centrist ones-, but don’t forget that neither do the Republicans once Trump is gone. Da Donald is set to leave a huge hole behind where he once pontificated. And just about any Democrat except for Joe Biden could step right into that hole (pun intended).

 

 

 

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 generous support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jan 302020
 


Ben Shahn “Just one more bolt of cloth”, county fair, central Ohio 1938

 

Coronavirus Deaths Leap In China As Countries Struggle To Evacuate Citizens (G.)
New Coronavirus Spreads As Readily As 1918 Spanish Flu, Linked To Bats (LAT)
WHO: Coronavirus Spread Outside Of China Is Of ‘Grave Concern’ (CNBC)
Hubei Province Has Severe Shortage Of Medical Supplies – Governor (CGTN)
Joe Biden’s ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Memo To Media Doesn’t Match The Facts (Solomon)
Ukraine Ex-Prosecutor In Burisma Case Demands Criminal Probe Of Biden (RT)
The Choice is Now Between Witnesses and Dictatorship (Turley)
GOP Reportedly Has Votes To Block Witnesses In Early End To Impeachment (ZH)
White House Told Bolton His Book Contains ‘TOP SECRET’ Information (ZH)
‘GAME OVER,’ Trump Declares, As Old Bolton, Schiff Videos Surface (Fox)
Ukraine Investigates Ex-President Poroshenko Over Embezzlement (RT)
Flynn’s Defense Files Motion Saying His Former Legal Team “Betrayed Him” (SAC)
Deutsche Bank Posts Larger-Than-Expected Loss In Q4 And Full Year (R.)
US Announces 3 New Bases In Iraq After Govt Demands Full Withdrawal (MPN)
France To Send Warships To Support Greece In Turkish Standoff (G.)
Most Children Sleep With Mobile Phone Beside Bed (BBC)

 

 

It’s no time to put the 2019-nCoV coronavirus on the backburner. The numbers out today are shocking.

• Deaths +29% (from 132 to 170)
• Confirmed cases +29% (6062 to 7814)
• Suspected cases +32% (from: 9239 to 12167)
• Severe cases +10% (from 1239 to 1370)
• Discharged from hospitals in mainland China: 124

 

A new sequence popped up -not sure from where- to accompany our familiar Fibonacci sequence. This new one is less “extreme”, but still says 1 million deaths 3 weeks from now:

 

 


Fibonacci

 

And there is ever more talk of infection and fatalities numbers being hidden and/or lowered:

[..] as research published in the Lancet claims the true mortality rate is actually close to 11% (the official rate is 2%-3%). That is a big one!

 

I like this map:

 

 

 

Given that we have known forever and a day that the next pandemic would come, see my article yesterday, 2019-nCoV, all these reactions and measures should come out of a playbook. They do not, it’s improv theater.

Coronavirus Deaths Leap In China As Countries Struggle To Evacuate Citizens (G.)

China reported its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as countries struggled to evacuate citizens still trapped in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the outbreak began. The death toll rose to 170 on Thursday – up from 132 reported on Wednesday, a rise of 29%. The number of confirmed cases in China now stands at 7,711, up from 5,974 a day earlier. It is understood that 162 of the deaths – or 95% – are in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. Of the new deaths, 37 were in Hubei province and one in the south-western province of Sichuan.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which initially downplayed the severity of the disease, has warned all governments to be “on alert”, with the UN agency’s emergency committee due to meet later on Thursday to decide whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency. The WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr Michael Ryan, said the few cases of human-to-human spread of the virus outside China – in Japan, Germany, Canada and Vietnam – were of “great concern”. The US and Japan have started evacuating citizens, and other countries are poised to send chartered flights to the city, amid reports that some evacuations had been held up by delays in obtaining permission from the Chinese authorities.

A British flight to bring about 200 nationals back to the UK was unable to take off as planned on Thursday. The Foreign Office said it was “working urgently” to organise a flight to the UK “as soon as possible”. Australia is yet to gain permission from the Chinese government to evacuate hundreds of its citizens, and New Zealand has launched a separate rescue mission from its neighbour, though a timeline is still unclear. France, South Korea and other countries are also pulling out their citizens or making plans to do so. About 250 French citizens and 100 other Europeans will be flown out of Wuhan on board two French planes this week.

Businesses are beginning to feel the impact of the outbreak. Several airlines, including British Airways, have suspended services to China, while Toyota, Ikea, Foxconn, Starbucks, Tesla and McDonald’s were among major companies to temporarily freeze production or close large numbers of outlets in China. [..] Almost 200 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan on Wednesday are undergoing three days of testing and monitoring at a Southern California military base to make sure they do not show signs of the virus.

Read more …

2019-nCoV moves slower than Spanish flu, giving it more time to infect more people.

New Coronavirus Spreads As Readily As 1918 Spanish Flu, Linked To Bats (LAT)

Chinese scientists racing to keep up with the spread of a novel coronavirus have declared the widespread outbreak an epidemic, revealing that in its early days at least, the disease’s reach doubled every week. By plotting the curve of that exponential growth and running it in reverse, researchers reckoned that the microbe sickening people across the globe has probably been passing from person to person since mid-December 2019. Scientists in China are also closing in on the source of the aggressive new germ — bats. The furry flying mammals may have been the original host of the coronavirus now crisscrossing the world, says one of three scientific studies released on Wednesday. But it may be another wild animal sold in Wuhan City’s Huanan Seafood Market that served up the virus to humans, who quickly began passing it to others through close contact.

[..] All three of the new studies — two published by the British journal Lancet and a third in the New England Journal of Medicine — were conducted by scientists working in China. And all focused on some of the first patients seen with a pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV. One of the studies published in Lancet probed the genetic connections among viral samples drawn from nine infected patients, eight of whom had visited the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. The second study in Lancet culled data on the disease progression and outcomes of 99 infected patients who were admitted to Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan with symptoms of pneumonia.

The New England Journal of Medicine study, performed by researchers at China’s leading public health agency, mapped the early spread of pneumonia cases caused by the virus and used the results to create a transmission timeline. That accounting offered the most authoritative gauge to date of the emerging epidemic’s rate of growth. The new findings underscore the fact that it may take stern domestic measures to bring the fast-moving virus under control in China. One of the research teams calculated that in its early stages, the epidemic doubled in size every 7.4 days. That measure, called the epidemic’s “serial interval,” reflects the average span of time that elapses from the appearance of symptoms in one infected person to the appearance of symptoms in the people he will go on to infect.

In the early stages of the outbreak, each infected person who became ill is estimated to have infected 2.2 others, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine. That makes the new coronavirus roughly as communicable as was the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 50 million and became the deadliest pandemic in recorded history. The new epidemic, however, is moving more slowly than the Spanish flu. That’s because 2019-nCoV takes longer to induce coughing, fever and breathing difficulties in a newly infected victim. “It’s concerning that case reports are increasing, and increasing in a way that’s consistent with pretty efficient human-to-human transmission,” said Derek Cummings, a University of Florida expert in the spread of infectious diseases.

Read more …

WHO also too slow.

WHO: Coronavirus Spread Outside Of China Is Of ‘Grave Concern’ (CNBC)

The spread of a fast-moving virus outside of China is of “grave concern” and has prompted the World Health Organization to reconvene an emergency meeting this week to decide whether it’s become a global health emergency, WHO officials said Wednesday. The coronavirus has spread to a handful of people through human-to-human contact outside of China, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said at a news conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters Wednesday. “These developments in terms of the evolution of the outbreak and further development of transmission, these are of grave concern and has spurred countries into action,” Ryan said, adding that he just returned from China on Wednesday.


“What we know at this stage, this is still obviously a very active outbreak and information is being updated and changing by the hour.” The coronavirus outbreak has killed 132 people in China and sickened more than 6,150 across more than a dozen countries across the globe. Ryan said there are currently 71 cases outside of China in 15 other countries. The WHO declined at two emergency meetings last week to declare the virus a global health emergency. Since the first patient was identified in Wuhan on Dec. 31, the number of coronavirus cases has mushroomed to 6,061 in mainland China as of Wednesday morning, exceeding the total number of SARS cases in that country during the 2003 epidemic.

Read more …

“Among the five million migrants who left Wuhan [..] during the Chinese Spring Festival, 60 to 70 percent of them went to other cities in the Hubei Province..”

People need a new mask every 4 hours. Most workers in mask -making factories are on holiday.

Hubei Province Has Severe Shortage Of Medical Supplies – Governor (CGTN)

There’s currently a severe shortage of medical supplies, not just in Wuhan but in surrounding cities as well, the governor of Hubei Province, Wang Xiaodong said at a press conference on Wednesday. “The first thing I want to do when I wake up every morning is to figure out how to get disposable protective clothing,” people in a hospital procurement department in Huanggang, a city lying 76 kilometers away from Wuhan and where over 1,000 suspected cases of the new coronavirus, told Yicai. “Medical supplies in our hospital can only support one day work, we cannot receive patients without masks and protective clothing,” he added, “It’s almost out of stock, and we have nowhere to buy.”

Some of our medical staff wear raincoats and disposable garbage bags as shoes covers to protect themselves. In the isolation ward of a county-level hospital in Huanggang City, doctors said they usually stay there for hours without coming out, because they have to save supplies. Wang stressed at the press conference the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Huanggang City, and vowed to prevent it from becoming the second Wuhan. Among the five million migrants who left Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province, during the Chinese Spring Festival, 60 to 70 percent of them went to other cities in the Hubei Province, according to migration data released by Baidu Map. Huanggang city and Xiaogan city, both about two-hour drive from the Wuhan city, are the top two infected areas.

[..] On Wednesday, the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) responded to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection – the anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China – about the mask shortage, as well as the supply and production concerns. For now, the mask shortage has become a country-wide problem since the new coronavirus outbreak spread domestically. Everyone who goes outside is suggested to wear mask. But the problem is it’s hard to get one. Besides experts suggested the use of normal surgical masks, people have to replace it every four hours. Facing such a huge demand, the whole country is expected to have a supply shortage at least in the short term, especially in the period when the majority of workers are on holiday during the Spring Festival.

Read more …

Solomon is methodical as usual.

Joe Biden’s ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Memo To Media Doesn’t Match The Facts (Solomon)

Former vice president Joe Biden’s extraordinary campaign memo this week imploring U.S. news media to reject the allegations surrounding his son Hunter’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company makes several bold declarations. The memo by Biden campaign aides Kate Bedingfield and Tony Blinken specifically warned reporters covering the impeachment trial they would be acting as “enablers of misinformation” if they repeated allegations that the former vice president forced the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden worked as a highly compensated board member.


Biden’s memo argues there is no evidence that the former vice president’s or Hunter Biden’s conduct raised any concern, and that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin’s investigation was “dormant” when the vice president forced the prosecutor to be fired in Ukraine. The memo calls the allegation a “conspiracy theory” (and, in full disclosure, blames my reporting for the allegations surfacing last year.) But the memo omits critical impeachment testimony and other evidence that paint a far different portrait than Biden’s there’s-nothing-to-talk-about-here rebuttal.

Read more …

One of the questions yesterday in the Senate (paraphrased): who decided, and when, that the Hunter and Joe Biden thing was a debunked ‘Conspiracy Theory’?

Ukraine Ex-Prosecutor In Burisma Case Demands Criminal Probe Of Biden (RT)

Former top prosecutor of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, has filed a criminal complaint with the state authorities, claiming former US Vice President Joe Biden strong-armed Kiev into firing him in order to stop the Burisma investigation. In the complaint Shokin sent to the Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) on Tuesday, the former prosecutor requests that Biden be charged with “interference with the activities of a law enforcement officer.” The document was obtained by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Shokin urged the SBI to kick-start a pre-trial investigation into the alleged crime committed by Biden, who he claims was illegally pressuring Ukrainian officials into ousting him from office while using a $1 billion loan guarantee as a leverage.

Noting that Biden, in his official capacity as the second-in-command in the US political hierarchy, repeatedly visited Ukraine in late 2015 and early 2016 to persuade high-ranking officials to remove him, Shokin argued that “as a result, he curtailed an objective investigation criminal proceedings on the facts of unlawful activities of persons associated with the company Burisma Holdings Limited (Cyprus), including the son of the specified high-ranking official [Biden’s son Hunter, who sat on the company’s board from 2014 till 2019].” Shokin specifically refers to the recently released documentary series ‘UkraineGate: Inconvenient facts,’ by French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, which challenges the Western media claims that the corruption investigation into Burisma was “dormant” at the time Biden was lobbying for Shokin’s dismissal.

Berruyer, founder of the popular anti-corruption blog Les Crises, said that he collected documents that show that the investigation into the gas company was in full swing at the time. Shokin’s own words to that effect have receive only a passing mention, or no mention at all in the mainstream US media outlets, however. In a recent interview with ABC News, Shokin said that his office was handling six investigation into Burisma at the time of his resignation.

Read more …

“One senator who may not be inclined to listen is Mitch McConnell who Tribe has called “McTurtle” and a “flagrant d**khead.”

The Choice is Now Between Witnesses and Dictatorship (Turley)

While I disagreed with Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz on this theory of impeachment, I recently praised his presentation in the Senate as a cogent and well-constructed case for the defense. Clearly, his colleague Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe does not share my view. He denounced Dershowitz’s argument as “remarkably absurd and extreme and dangerous.” In this presentation, Dershowitz defended his own switch on the issue of the prerequisite of criminality for impeachment by noting that Tribe had also switched his view. Tribe went further to declare that the choice was now between witnesses and “dictatorship.” Even as someone who favors witnesses, I fail to see the imminent danger of dictatorship on the issue. Indeed, I understand the reluctance over witnesses aside from any desire to protect Trump.

I believe senators have a legitimate interest in not creating precedent allowing the House to impeachment on such a slipshod and incomplete record. That is why I proposed an alternative solution. On MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” Tribe that, if the President succeeds in blocking witnesses, “You will harm not only the country today but you will leave a lesson for future presidents that will be terrible to the Republic. It will not be a constitutional democracy but it will be a dictatorship.” The use of O’Donnell’s show to warn of authoritarianism was curious since the host recently declared that his show would not invite Trump defenders because they are all “liars.”

Tribe however had particularly caustic remarks for Dershowitz as advancing an “absurd” argument that “it doesn’t matter if a president uses the vast powers of his office to shake down an ally and help an adversary in order to get dirt on an enemy and corrupt an election.” He spoke directly to Senators and added “So I implore you, if you are inclined to vote to acquit this president, don’t do it on the ridiculous basis that abuse of power, because it’s not a statutory crime and is rather open-ended, is not a basis to remove.” One senator who may not be inclined to listen is Mitch McConnell who Tribe has called “McTurtle” and a “flagrant d**khead.” I have previously discussed my disagreement with Dershowitz’s theory, including what I believe is a misreading of the trial of Andrew Johnson and defense of Justice Benjamin Curtis. This however is a good-faith academic dispute and I felt that Dershowitz raised some interesting point. While I was not persuaded, it is unfair to characterize them as “absurd.”

Read more …

However this turns, more ugliness is ensured.

GOP Reportedly Has Votes To Block Witnesses In Early End To Impeachment (ZH)

Hours after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Hunter Biden would be a “relevant witness” in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans seem to think there aren’t enough votes to call witnesses following a morning meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) which lasted approximately 30 minutes. According to The Hill, the meeting “was seen as a sign by several senators that Democrats will fail to convince four Republicans to join them in calling for witnesses. Without a vote to hear from witnesses, the trial could end as soon as Friday.” Murkowski, one of a handful of Senate Republicans thought to be leaning towards witnesses, appears to have changed her mind.


“We’re going to get it done by Friday, hopefully,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) following a Senate GOP lunch meeting on Wednesday which was held after McConnell and Murkowski spoke. “I think I can say the mood is good,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), adding “If I had to guess, no witnesses.” “We’ll be in a place where I think everyone is going to have their mind made up and I believe that we’ll be able to move to a verdict and the witness question will be clear at that point,” Braun added. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) – who has forcefully advocated for testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton after a leaked manuscript from his upcoming book claims President Trump directly tied Ukraine aid to investigations into the Bidens – said nothing after the lunch, which Murkowski did not attend.

Read more …

Letter sent 3 days before NYT article. So when Bolton was told the info was secret, he decided to leak it?!

White House Told Bolton His Book Contains ‘TOP SECRET’ Information (ZH)

The White House told former national security adviser John Bolton that his tell-all book contains “significant amounts of classified information,” including some which is “TOP SECRET” and could harm national security. “Under federal law and the nondisclosure agreements your client signed, as a condition for gaining access to classified information, the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information,” the letter continues. Notably, the letter, sent from the National Security Counsel to Bolton’s attorneys, was sent three days before the manuscript mysteriously leaked to the New York Times on the eve of the Senate impeachment proceedings – sparking a debate over calling Bolton as a witness in the trial.


As we noted on Tuesday, the identical twin brother of Democratic impeachment witness Alexander Vindman, Yevgeny Vindman, is reportedly in charge of reviewing all publications by current and former officials at the National Security Council (NSC), according to Breitbart News – which would ostensibly include Bolton’s manuscript. Meanwhile, House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff insisted on Wednesday that Trump’s impeachment trial won’t be fair unless Bolton testifies. Where have we seen this before?

Read more …

Not looking good. “..but remember: you’re a despicable Trump-loving apologist if you said ahead of time that this entire thing would be a joke..”

‘GAME OVER,’ Trump Declares, As Old Bolton, Schiff Videos Surface (Fox)

A string of newly resurfaced video clips of former national security adviser John Bolton spurred President Trump and his supporters Wednesday to highlight what they described as serious credibility questions – raised by both Democrats and Republicans — amid the Senate impeachment trial, as the president tweeted, “GAME OVER!” In his tweet, Trump linked to an interview of Bolton in August 2019 where he discusses Ukraine policy. In the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty interview clip, Bolton made no mention of any illicit quid pro quo, and acknowledged, as Republicans have claimed, that combating “corruption” in Ukraine was a “high priority” for the Trump administration.

Bolton also called Trump’s communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “warm and cordial,” without mentioning any misconduct. It seemingly contradicted reported assertions in Bolton’s forthcoming book that Trump explicitly told him he wanted to tie military aid to Ukraine to an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. (Zelensky has said his communications with Trump involved no pressure for any investigation.) Separately, Fox News has identified clips of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., now the lead House impeachment manager, in which he says Bolton had a distinct “lack of credibility” and was prone to “conspiracy theories.” This week, Schiff said Bolton needed to testify in the impeachment trial as an important and believable witness.


“This is someone who’s likely to exaggerate the dangerous impulses of the president toward belligerence, his proclivity to act without thinking, and his love of conspiracy theories,” Schiff told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on March 22, 2018, when Trump named Bolton national security adviser. “And I’ll, you know, just add one data point to what you were talking about earlier, John Bolton once suggested on Fox News that the Russian hack of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was a false flag operation that had been conducted by the Obama administration,” he said. “So, you add that kind of thinking to [former U.S. attorney] Joe diGenova and you have another big dose of unreality in the White House.”

[..] speaking to CNN on Monday, Schiff took a different approach – calling Bolton essential to the “search for truth.” “I think for the senators, and I’m just not talking about the four that have been so much the focus of attention, for every senator, Democrat and Republican, I don’t know how you can explain that you wanted a search for the truth in this trial and say you don’t want to hear from a witness who had a direct conversation about the central allegation in the articles of impeachment,” Schiff said on CNN’s “New Day.” Seemingly responding to charges of hypocrisy, Schiff remarked on the Senate floor late Wednesday: “I’m no fan of John Bolton, but I like him a little more now than I used to.”


[..] “Democrats are currently begging Mitt Romney to agree with them that John Bolton should swoop to the impeachment trial and save the day, but remember: you’re a despicable Trump-loving apologist if you said ahead of time that this entire thing would be a joke,” mused journalist Michael Tracey.

Read more …

The legacy of Obama, Hillary, John McCain and Victoria Nuland. Who’s in court for this?

Ukraine Investigates Ex-President Poroshenko Over Embezzlement (RT)

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau has opened a probe against former president, Petro Poroshenko, who is suspected of abuse of power, embezzlement “on a grand scale” and allegedly stealing US aid funds. The case against the ex-president was opened following a complaint by a group of Ukrainian MPs and the nation’s High Anti-Corruption Court demanding the authorities investigate embezzlement and misappropriation of the foreign financial aid at the time of Poroshenko’s term in office, a Ukrainian MP Renat Kuzmin said in a Facebook post.

Kuzmin, a member of the Opposition Platform – For Live party, also published the anti-corruption bureau’s documents, confirming that the case against Poroshenko had been launched. The papers state that the former president and some “unknown people” from his administration are suspected of embezzling “on a grand scale,” subsequent legalization of criminally obtained funds, and abuse of power. The MP himself said that the investigation would look into the misappropriation of funds provided to Ukraine in the form of international aid, including by the administration of the former US President Barack Obama.

Poroshenko did not react directly to the accusations against him. Instead, his lawyer told the media that the ex-president plans to file as many as 14 lawsuits seeking moral compensation from Ukraine’s National Bureau of Investigations, the anti-corruption bureau and the police. His lawyer also denounced the investigation against his client as political persecution instigated by the administration of the current president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The news comes just months after Poroshenko’s ally, Kiev mayor and three-time world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko was also accused of embezzlement and even treason by the anti-corruption bureau.

Read more …

At what point will Sidney Powell subpoena Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Laufman et al?

Flynn’s Defense Files Motion Saying His Former Legal Team “Betrayed Him” (SAC)

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn filed a supplemental motion to withdraw his guilty plea Wednesday citing failure by his previous counsel to advise him of the firm’s ‘conflict of interest in his case’ regarding the Foreign Agents Registration Act form it filed on his behalf, and by doing so “betrayed Mr. Flynn,” stated Sidney Powell, in a defense motion to the court. Flynn’s case is now in its final phase and his sentencing date, which was scheduled for Jan. 28, in a D.C. federal court before Judge Emmet Sullivan was changed to Feb. 27. The change came after Powell filed the motion to withdraw his plea just days after the prosecutors made a major reversal asking for up to six months jail time.

The best case scenario for Flynn, is that Judge Sullivan allows him to withdraw his guilty plea, the sentencing date is thrown-out and then his case would more than likely would head to trial. Powell alleged in a motion in December, 2019 that Flynn was strong-armed by the prosecution into pleading guilty to one count of lying to FBI investigators regarding his conversation with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Others, close to Flynn, have corroborated the accounts suggesting prosecutors threatened to drag Flynn’s son into the investigation, who also worked with his father at Flynn Intel Group, a security company established by Flynn.

In the recent motion Flynn denounced his admission of guilt in a declaration, “I am innocent of this crime, and I request to withdraw my guilty plea. After I signed the plea, the attorneys returned to the room and confirmed that the [special counsel’s office] would no longer be pursuing my son.” He denied that he lied to the FBI during the White House meeting with then FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka. The meeting was set up by now fired FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was also fired for lying to Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigators. Strzok was fired by the FBI for his actions during the Russia investigation.

[..] Powell noted in Wednesday’s motion that Flynn’s former defense team at Covington & Burling, a well known Washington D.C. law firm, failed to inform Flynn that their lawyers had made “some initial errors or statements that were misunderstood in the FARA registration process and filings.” She also reaffirmed her position in the motion that government prosecutors are continuing to withhold exculpatory information that would benefit Flynn.

Read more …

High time for someone to investigate what being in the European Banking Union will cost banks from other countries in order to save Deutsche.

Deutsche Bank Posts Larger-Than-Expected Loss In Q4 And Full Year (R.)

Deutsche Bank posted a 1.6 billion euro loss in the fourth quarter of 2019, bringing the total loss for the year to 5.7 billion euros as the bank undergoes a costly overhaul, the lender said on Thursday. It was the third consecutive quarterly loss and fifth annual loss in a row for Germany’s top bank. The results were worse than expected. Analysts on average forecast Deutsche would lose 1 billion euros in the quarter and 5 billion euros for the full year. The figures conclude a turbulent decade for Deutsche, which lost a cumulative 15 billion euros over the last five years, more than wiping out the 9 billion euros in profit during the previous five years. The share price fell 82% during the course of the decade.

Read more …

Call Putin.

US Announces 3 New Bases In Iraq After Govt Demands Full Withdrawal (MPN)

Less than a week after millions of Iraqis took to the streets demanding the U.S. military leave for good, the United States announced that is planning to build three new military bases in Iraq, according to military news service Breaking Defense. The three sites chosen – Erbin, Sulimania and Halabja – are all extremely close to Iran, with Halabja (the site of the 1988 chemical weapons attack) just eight miles from the border. The news will come as a shock to the Iraqi parliament, who earlier this month voted overwhelmingly (with some abstentions) to expel American forces from the country.

But the U.S. government has flatly refused to leave. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, adding, “We strongly urge Iraqi leaders to reconsider the importance of the ongoing economic and security relationship between the two countries… We believe it is in the shared interests of the United States and Iraq to continue fighting ISIS together.” Earlier this month the U.S. decided to send an extra 3,000 troops to the region.

President Trump responded by threatening sweeping mass punishments against the Iraqi people. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it…If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” he said. U.S.-led sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s are thought to have killed over one million people, including over half a million young children. Successive U.N. diplomats in charge of Iraq during the sanctions denounced them as genocide against its people. Trump said his sanctions would make the ones on Iran look tame by comparison.

Read more …

Time for Trump to nip this in the bud. There is no other choice.

France To Send Warships To Support Greece In Turkish Standoff (G.)

Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has welcomed a decision by France to dispatch war frigates to the eastern Mediterranean as a standoff with Turkey over regional energy reserves intensifies. With tensions between Athens and Ankara causing growing international alarm, Mitsotakis described the vessels as “guarantors of peace”. “The only way to end differences in the eastern Mediterranean is through international justice,” he told reporters after holding talks in Paris with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. “Greece and France are pursuing a new framework of strategic defence.”

Mitsotakis was in the French capital on a visit aimed at rallying EU support at a time when hostile relations with Turkey have eclipsed all other issues on the agenda of his near seven-month-old government. Macron pledged France would step up its strategic bond with Greece, accusing Turkey of not only exacerbating regional tensions but failing to stick to its promised course of action in war-torn Libya. “I want to express my concerns with regard to the behaviour of Turkey at the moment … we have seen during these last days Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is an explicit and serious infringement of what was agreed [at last week’s peace conference] in Berlin. It’s a broken promise.”

[..] Greece’s defence minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, recently went as far as to warn that armed forces were “examining all scenarios, even that of military engagement” in the face of heightened aggression from Ankara. Rejecting Turkish demands that Greece demilitarise 16 Aegean islands, he accused Turkey of displaying unusually provocative behaviour. The demand, made by his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, follows a dramatic surge in recent months in the number of violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets. “Greece does not provoke, does not violate the sovereign rights of others, but it doesn’t like to see its own rights violated,” said Panagiotopoulos.

Read more …

When will we see the studies reporting on the effects of phones on people’s lives? If not now, it’ll likely be too late for many.

Most Children Sleep With Mobile Phone Beside Bed (BBC)

More than half of children say they sleep with their mobile phone beside their bed, according to an annual survey of young people’s use of media. The Childwise report found children getting mobiles at an earlier age, with most now having their own phone by the age of seven. The average time spent on mobiles by seven to 16-year-olds is three hours and 20 minutes per day. Researcher Simon Leggett says mobiles can “dominate children’s lives”. When phones are always so close at hand, as a “private and personal technology”, Mr Leggett says it can be tough for parents to put limits on how children use them.

The survey, based on interviews with 2,200 children in the UK aged five to 16, shows the pivotal place of the mobile phone in young lives. There are 57% who always have the phone beside their bed and 44% who feel “uncomfortable” if they are ever without a phone signal. There are 42% who say they keep their phone on them at all times and never turn it off. Even though the average age of owning a phone is becoming younger, the step up to secondary school at the age of 11 is still the point at which many children get a phone and ownership becomes “almost universal”.

[..] YouTube, a veteran by online standards, remains dominant, used by 61% of children every day, mostly on mobile phones. It is the favourite app and website of this age group, used as the most typical starting point for videos, particularly “funny” clips, listening to music, “how to” tutorials or watching programmes. This is followed by Snapchat, Instagram and this year’s fast-riser, Tik Tok, with WhatsApp also among the most regularly used. Showing the speed of change, Facebook is not even in the top 10 of favourites.

Read more …

 

2020 so far…

 

 

 

Include the Automatic Earth in your 2020 charity list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 162020
 
 January 16, 2020  Posted by at 11:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


G. G. Bain Asbury Park, Jersey Shore 1914 (just 35 years before Springsteen was born)

 

House Delivers Articles Of Impeachment To Senate (ZH)
Warren Told Sanders He Called Her A Liar On National TV (R.)
CNN’s Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful (Matt Taibbi)
Sen. Rand Paul Says GOP Will Shaft Trump (GP)
Americans Beware! Russia Can Hack Your Brain (Bridge)
What Is Russia’s Putin Up To? (BBC)
Bloomberg Is Wasting His Money Attacking Teflon Don (DC)
Over 40% Of Listed US Companies Don’t Make Money (ZH)
US Freight Shipments Plunge at Fastest Rate since 2009, Hit 2011 Level (WS)
“It’s Unthinkable” Australia Sells Arms To Countries Accused Of War Crimes (G.)
Virgin Islands Alleges Epstein Used Private Island To Abuse And Traffic Girls (G.)
Julian Assange at the Westminster Magistrates Court (OffG)

 

 

I was amazed and profoundly Bizarro puzzled watching this attempt at a solemn procession, designed to make it look like this was some time-honored tradition on the Hill (no such thing). I read somewhere they were going to present the articles in a wooden box, but I guess they couldn’t find any. Topped off with Pelosi having dozens of pens printed for the occasion. Entertainment for the echo chamber.

House Delivers Articles Of Impeachment To Senate (ZH)

Update (1745ET): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on Wednesday shortly before they were delivered to the Senate, where the US president faces trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. “So sad, so tragic for our country, that the actions taken by the president to undermine our national security, to violate his oath of office and to jeopardize the security of our elections, has taken us to this place,” Pelosi said shortly before using several ceremonial pens to sign the articles. The articles were ceremonially walked through the US Capitol to the US Senate.

Trump’s impeachment trial will begin Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the chamber’s floor. On Thursday, the House managers will present the impeachment articles to the full Senate at noon, and Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in the senators at 2 p.m., McConnell said. Then the Senate will notify the White House of the pending trial and summon Trump to answer the impeachment articles and send his lawyers, he said. “So the trial will commence in earnest on Tuesday,” McConnell said. The next step in the process will be a formal reading of the impeachment charges against Trump on the Senate floor by the seven House prosecutors Thursday morning.


Update: As expected, the House of Representatives officially voted Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate and approved the House’s impeachment managers. The vote to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate and approve the impeachment managers was 228-193. Democratic Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson was the only Democrat to vote nay, breaking with the rest of his party. House Republicans all voted together. [..] After waiting four weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will finally transmit the two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, and that they have chosen seven impeachment managers to prosecute the case during the upcoming trial.


Nancy Pelosi’s souvenir pens served up on silver platters to sign the articles of impeachment…

Read more …

“Anderson Cooper says CNN “obtained” the audio recorded by CNN microphones on the CNN debate stage..”

Warren Told Sanders He Called Her A Liar On National TV (R.)

The mystery of what presidential rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders said to each other in a heated exchange after Tuesday night’s Democratic debate has been solved, with debate host CNN revealing that Warren accused Sanders of calling her a liar on national television. In an exchange caught on camera after the debate but unable to be heard by the television audience, Sanders responded to Warren that it was she who had called him a liar. Moments earlier Warren had refused to shake Sanders’ hand. The two U.S. senators and liberal standard bearers in the Democrats’ nominating contest to pick a candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November had been locked in a dispute before and during the debate over an allegation by Warren that Sanders had told her in a private 2018 meeting that a woman could not be elected president.


Sanders disputed that claim before and during the debate but Warren insists it’s true. CNN said on Wednesday that its microphones had caught the post-debate exchange and released its contents. After failing to shake Sanders’ hands, Warren said: “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” “What?” Sanders replied. “I think you called me a liar on national TV,” Warren repeated. Sanders replied: “You know, let’s not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.” Warren said: “Anytime.” Sanders said: “You called me a liar. You told me – all right, let’s not do it now.” Another Democratic candidate, billionaire Tom Steyer, who was standing behind the two, said: “I don’t want to get in the middle. I just want to say ‘hi’ to Bernie.”

Read more …

Matt is much too kind to CNN: “Over a 24-hour period before, during, and after the debate, CNN bid farewell to what remained of its reputation as a nonpolitical actor via a remarkable stretch of factually dubious reporting, bent commentary, and heavy-handed messaging.”

CNN’s Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful (Matt Taibbi)

CNN debate moderator Abby Phillip asked Bernie Sanders in the Tuesday debate in Des Moines: “CNN reported yesterday — and Senator Sanders, Senator Warren confirmed in a statement — that, in 2018, you told her you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?” Not “did you say that,” but “why did you say that?” Sanders denied it, then listed the many reasons the story makes no sense: He urged Warren herself to run in 2016, campaigned for a female candidate who won the popular vote by 3 million votes, and has been saying the opposite in public for decades. “There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States,” he said. Phillip asked him to clarify: He never said it? “That is correct,” Sanders said.

Phillip turned to Warren and deadpanned: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” That “when” was as transparent a media “fuck you” as we’ve seen in a presidential debate. It evoked memories of another infamous CNN ambush, when Bernard Shaw in 1988 crotch-kicked Mike Dukakis with a question about whether he’d favor the death penalty for someone who raped and murdered his wife, Kitty. This time, the whole network tossed the mud. Over a 24-hour period before, during, and after the debate, CNN bid farewell to what remained of its reputation as a nonpolitical actor via a remarkable stretch of factually dubious reporting, bent commentary, and heavy-handed messaging.

The cycle began with a “bombshell” exposé by CNN reporter MJ Lee. Released on the eve of the debate, Lee reported Warren’s claim that Sanders told her a woman couldn’t win in a December 2018 meeting. Lee treated the story as fact, using constructions such as, “Sanders responded that he did not think a woman could win,” and “the revelation that Sanders expressed skepticism that Warren could win.” Lee said “the conversation” opened a window into “the role of sexism and gender inequality in politics”: The conversation also illustrates the skepticism among not only American voters but also senior Democratic officials that the country is ready to elect a woman as president … Although Lee said she based the story on “the accounts of four people,” they were “two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter,” and “two people familiar with the meeting.” There were only two people in the room, Sanders and Warren. Lee’s “four people” actually relied on just one source, Warren.

Read more …

Cold feet? If the Dems get their witnesses and Trump does not, the 21st century equivalent of pitchforks can’t be far.

Sen. Rand Paul Says GOP Will Shaft Trump (GP)

Senator Rand Paul warned his colleagues who plan to let the Democrats choose witnesses that they will lose their reelections. Senator Paul, who has seemingly been leading the charge to defend the president during this process, also explained that he would vote for Rep. Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have to testify, especially since Schiff has a staff member who is friends with the whistleblower — potentially making him a material witness. Additionally, Sen. Paul stated that he wants the impeachment process to be over as soon as possible, but that if the Democrats are allowed to call witnesses, President Trump must be afforded the same right.

When asked if any other Republicans have been supportive of Sen. Paul’s assertion that he wants to call in the whistleblower and Hunter Biden to testify, he asserted that there are a lot of people who do, but that they have been quiet. “There’s a lot of people who are quiet, so I’ve been kind of loud,” Sen. Paul said. “My goal in this is to be done with the impeachment as soon as possible, and probably the best way to do that is actually no witnesses — but, if we’re going to have witnesses we should have witnesses from both sides. In our interview, Sen. Paul warned that his Republican colleagues may be in trouble when they go up for re-election if they defy the president and allow Democrats to run amok, like they did in the House.

“What I keep trying to convince my colleagues, particularly the ones that might vote to allow the witnesses that the Democrats want to call, is that if they do that and they don’t vote to allow the president to bring his witnesses in, I think the Republican base and Trump supporters are going to be very very unhappy with them. I think it will have electoral consequences — which is sort of my way of saying that maybe they should reconsider having any witnesses at all,” Sen. Paul said. “My hope is some will reconsider and we will just be done with one vote.” [..] Sen. Paul explained that if there does end up being a vote for each individual witness, which could potentially be dozens, he believes that only the ones who are antagonistic to the president will get through.

This means that “Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and the whistleblower may not pass a majority vote.” He said that if this is how witnesses are decided, the senate will end up with a situation like the House did — a lopsided witness list that would be mostly people hostile to the president. When asked if he had any other specific witnesses in mind that he was looking to hear, besides Hunter Biden and the whistleblower, Sen. Paul said that “if they end up approving witnesses like Bolton, who I think are harmful, I will insist on a motion that says the president should get to call all witnesses that he or his team deem to be necessary to his defense.” “I don’t want to limit it, I’m not his lawyer, I don’t want to tell him who he has to call — I’m just going to say anyone. ‘Anyone’ includes people he has mentioned, like Hunter Biden and Joe Biden,” Sen. Paul said.

Read more …

The meme is still not dead.

Americans Beware! Russia Can Hack Your Brain (Bridge)

I suppose it is necessary, considering the bleak and humorless times we live in, to immediately start by acknowledging that the headline is meant as satire, what Webster defines as a form of “ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” In other words, nyet, the Kremlin does not have a hotline to the American brain that can trigger card-carrying Democrats to enter a catatonic trance on Election Day and vote against Joe Biden, or any of the other flawless Democratic gems for that matter. By this time, especially following the release of the Mueller Report, you would think that conspiracy theories involving Russia and American democracy would have subsided; instead they’ve only escalated as the U.S. enters the hot end of the 2020 presidential election campaign.

Courtesy of Bloomberg: “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are assessing whether Russia is trying to undermine Joe Biden in its ongoing disinformation efforts with the former vice president still the front-runner in the race to challenge President Donald Trump, according to two officials familiar with the matter… Part of the inquiry is to determine whether Russia is trying to weaken Biden by promoting controversy over his past involvement in U.S. policy toward Ukraine while his son worked for an energy company there.” So how exactly does Russia, in a scene straight out of A Clockwork Orange, tap into the frontal lobe section of the U.S. electorate and cause them to lose all confidence in their political favorites?

“A signature trait of Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘is his ability to convince people of outright falsehoods,’ William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement. ‘In America, [the Russians are] using social media and many other tools to inflame social divisions, promote conspiracy theories and sow distrust in our democracy and elections.’” Yes, somehow those dastardly Russians have outsmarted the brightest and best-paid political strategists in Washington, D.C. by brandishing what amounts to some really persuasive memes over social media, and for just rubles on the dollar. The techies at Wired went so far as to call this epic assault on the fragile American cranium, “meme warfare to divide America.”

Read more …

Putin is not power hungry. He would love to be able to step back. But he fears for Russia, he fears the US neocons will take it as soon as he leaves.

What Is Russia’s Putin Up To? (BBC)

It came out of nowhere. Even ministers in the Russian government apparently did not see their departure coming. Was it a case of a new working year in Moscow – out with the old and in with the new? But it was clear Vladimir Putin, 67, had change in mind. With four years to go before he leaves office, and 20 years already served, it was clear he was planning ahead. A new government, led by Mikhail Mishustin, a technocrat who turned Russia’s hated tax service into an efficient operation, and the end of a man who has worked hand in glove with Mr Putin since he became president. Dmitry Medvedev even filled in as president for four years, because under the constitution Mr Putin could not.

Mr Medvedev, the unpopular head of the United Russia party, is not going away, but his new role as deputy head of Russia’s security council is far more behind the scenes. “It’s a golden parachute. It means he is in reserve, as the security council is Putin’s closest inner circle – his own mini-government,” says Alexander Baunov of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Mr Putin is coming to the same point he reached after his second term, when Dmitry Medvedev deputised for him. But this time the president will not take a false backseat as prime minister. It now appears that Mr Putin’s fourth term as president will be his last. On the face of it, it means more powers for parliament – selecting the prime minister and approving the cabinet, for a start. But that won’t happen yet. Mr Putin has chosen Mr Medvedev’s successor and parliament will have to ratify him.

[..] One of the standout proposals is making the State Council a formal government agency enshrined in the constitution. At the moment it is an advisory body packed with 85 regional governors and other officials including political party leaders. It is so large that when it meets it fills a hall in the Kremlin. But Mr Putin clearly has designs on its future. One theory is that he could become a new, powerful leader of the State Council. “The very fact he’s started a discussion on the State Council is that he’s maybe trying to create another place where power resides, where he can step above the presidential post,” Mr Baunov suggests.

Read more …

From the right.

Bloomberg Is Wasting His Money Attacking Teflon Don (DC)

They say money can’t buy you love, but billionaire Michael Bloomberg is living proof that it can’t buy you common sense, either. Bloomberg has now spent $200 million on his campaign to defeat President Donald Trump — but that hasn’t put him on track to earn a single delegate. The long-shot Democratic presidential candidate announced that he is also shelling out roughly $10 million for a 60-second ad during the Super Bowl. His campaign previously announced that it would spend $100 million on an online ad campaign going after the president. But does anyone understand what Bloomberg plans to do for America? Has all that money passed on a clear political message?

Bloomberg remains fifth in the crowded Democratic field with only eight weeks to go until Super Tuesday. Internal data from one of his rivals suggested he is not polling above 10 percent in any of the four early voting states or the 15 that follow in March. The massive campaign spending coming from the former mayor is unheard of politically. No one is setting up a field operation that is even close to what Bloomberg is spending to influence American politics. “Mike Bloomberg is either going to be the nominee or the most important person supporting the Democratic nominee for president,” Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s campaign manager, recently told NBC News. “He is dedicated to getting Trump out of the White House.”

Since his late entrance into the race in November, he has hired more than 800 staff members and is opening a dozen offices in Ohio, nine in Michigan, and 17 in Florida. His campaign has repeatedly said that their mission is to make sure Trump loses in 2020, whether Bloomberg wins the nomination or not. Apparently, like other Democrats and media bigwigs, Bloomberg hasn’t been paying attention for the past few years.

Ever since Donald Trump walked down the escalator in Trump Tower and announced he was running for president, he has been the target of a relentless attack by the media. A recent study found that 90 percent of all coverage he received in 2018 was negative. From the “Access Hollywood” tape to voting to impeach him, opponents of Trump have thrown everything they can at him to change public opinion, but nothing sticks. A Media Research Center analysis found that 93 percent of the coverage of the impeachment on ABC, CBS and NBC was negative. Evening news viewers of these networks heard 72 positive statements vs. 981 negative statements about the president since September 24.

Read more …

The other day we saw how the US builds giant monopolies. This is why: they’re the only ones making money. That this is due to share buybacks, who cares as long as the press don’t ask questions?

Over 40% Of Listed US Companies Don’t Make Money (ZH)

It’s absolutely stunning how the Fed/ECB/BoJ injected upwards of $1.1 trillion into global markets in the last quarter and cut rates 80 times in the past 12 months, which allowed money-losing companies to survive another day. The leader of all this insanity is Telsa, the biggest money-losing company on Wall Street, has soared 120% since the Fed launched ‘Not QE.’ Tesla investors are convinced that fundamentals are driving the stock higher, but that might not be the case, as central bank liquidity has been pouring into anything with a CUSIP. The company has lost money over the last 12 months, and to be fair, Elon Musk reported one quarter that turned a profit, but overall – Tesla is a blackhole. Its market capitalization is larger than Ford and General Motors put together. When you listen to Tesla investors, near-term profitability isn’t important because if it were, the stock would be much lower.

The Wall Street Journal notes that in the past 12 months, 40% of all US-listed companies were losing money, the highest level since the late 1990s – or a period also referred to as the Dot Com bubble. Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida, provided The Journal with a chart that shows the percentage of money-losing IPOs hit 81% in 2018, the same level that was also seen in 2000. The Journal notes that 42% of health-care companies lost money, mostly because of speculative biotech. About 17% of technology companies also fail to turn a profit.


A more traditional company that has been losing money is GE. Its shares have plunged 60% in the last 42 months as a slowing economy, and insurmountable debts have forced a balance sheet recession that has doomed the company. Data from S&P Global Market Intelligence shows for small companies, losing money is part of the job. About 33% of the 100 biggest companies reported losses over the last 12 months.

Read more …

Less transport. Good for the climate.

US Freight Shipments Plunge at Fastest Rate since 2009, Hit 2011 Level (WS)

Shipment volume in the US by truck, rail, air, and barge plunged 7.9% in December 2019 compared to a year earlier, according to the Cass Freight Index for Shipments. It was the 13th month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the steepest year-over-year decline since November 2009, during the Financial Crisis. The Cass Freight Index tracks shipment volume of consumer goods and industrial products and supplies by all modes of transportation, but it does not track bulk commodities, such as grains. As always when things get ugly, the calendar gets blamed – Christmas fell on a Wednesday, as it does regularly.

More realistically, December was also the month when Celadon Group, with about 3,000 drivers and about 2,700 tractors, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and ceased operations — the largest truckload carrier ever to file for bankruptcy in US history. It rounded off a large wave of bankruptcies and shutdowns of trucking companies in 2019, most of them smaller ones, but also some regional carriers, and on December 9, Celadon. Rail traffic in December capped off a miserable year, with carloads down 9.2% year-over-year in December, and container and trailer loads (intermodal) down 9.6%, according to the Association of American Railroads. For the 52-week period, traffic of carloads and intermodal units fell 5%. The 7.9% year-over-year drop of the Cass Freight Index pushed it below a slew of prior Decembers, including December 2011. The top black line represents 2018, the fat red line 2019:

Read more …

Will Australians ever wake up to their political reality?

“It’s Unthinkable” Australia Sells Arms To Countries Accused Of War Crimes (G.)

Human rights groups say it is “unthinkable” that Australia has been secretly exporting arms to the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries whose militaries have been consistently accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Guardian revealed on Tuesday that the Australian government had approved the export of weapons to the Democratic Republic of Congo four times in 2018-19. It has also issued more than 80 weapons export permits to Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The DRC has been gripped by successive waves of violence, rebellions, protests and political turmoil for decades. As recently as Friday, the United Nations warned ethnic killings and rape occurring in the DRC represented crimes against humanity.

Save the Children estimates more than five million people have been forced to flee their homes in the DRC alone, and says millions of children are “desperately in need of humanitarian assistance”. The chief executive of Save the Children Australia, Paul Ronalds, said the public would be shocked to learn their government was approving weapons sales in such an environment. “The fact we weren’t previously aware that Australia was exporting weapons to the DRC says it all really,” Ronalds told the Guardian. “It is unthinkable that Australian arms could potentially be fuelling these conflicts, and it’s kept a secret from the public.

“The public has a right to know where Australian-made arms are going, especially when taxpayers’ money is being used to market the industry to the world.” [..] Over the 2018-19 financial year, Australia issued 45 weapons export permits to the United Arab Emirates, 23 to Saudi Arabia, 14 to Sri Lanka and four to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read more …

“Some as young as 11″. But of course that’s no reason to go talk to Ghislaine.

Virgin Islands Alleges Epstein Used Private Island To Abuse And Traffic Girls (G.)

Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein continued to sexually abuse and traffic young women and girls to his private island as recently as 2018, with potentially hundreds of previously unknown victims, a new lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit, filed by the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, cites new evidence that Epstein used a computerized database to track women and girls – some as young as 11 – to Little Saint James island, a private estate Epstein purchased in 2016. According to the lawsuit, one girl attempted an escape by swimming, but was later found and had her passport confiscated. According to Wednesday’s complaint, Epstein and his alleged accomplices “trafficked, raped, sexually assaulted and held captive underage girls and young women” at his Virgin Islands properties.


In July last year, Epstein faced federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges for allegedly exploiting dozens of women and girls in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005. He had previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to a Florida state prostitution charge and completed a 13-month jail sentence. Epstein pleaded not guilty to the fresh charges. He died by suicide in a New York jail cell in August. According to Denise N George, attorney general for the US Virgin Islands, the suit aims to recoup damages from Epstein’s estate, estimated to be worth $577.7m. This suit marks the first against Epstein’s estate by the American territory or any government entity. George enlisted her office’s independent investigators and court documents from other cases to allege that Little Saint James was the epicenter of a decades-long sex trafficking scheme.

Read more …

“Peirce is aiming to finalise the exhibits for submission to the prosecution by January 18. The government deadline for responding to those documents will be February 7.”

Julian Assange at the Westminster Magistrates Court (OffG)

Another slot of judicial history, another notch to be added to the woeful record of legal proceedings being undertaken against Julian Assange. The ailing WikiLeaks founder was coping as well as he could, showing the resourcefulness of the desperate at his Monday hearing. At the Westminster Magistrates Court, Assange faced a 12-minute process, an ordinary affair in which he was asked to confirm his name, an ongoing ludicrous state of affairs, and seek clarification about an aspect of the proceedings. Of immediate concern to the lawyers, specifically seasoned human rights advocate Gareth Peirce, was the issue that prison officers at Belmarsh have been obstructing and preventing the legal team from spending sufficient time with their client, despite the availability of empty rooms.

“We have pushed Belmarsh in every way – it is a breach of a defendant’s rights.” Three substantial sets of documents and evidence required signing off by Assange before being submitted to the prosecution, a state of affairs distinctly impossible given the time constraints. A compounding problem was also cited by Peirce: the shift from moving the hearing a day forward resulted in a loss of time. “This slippage in the timetable is extremely worrying.” Whether this shows indifference to protocol or malice on the part of prosecuting authorities is hard to say, but either way, justice is being given a good flaying. The argument carried sufficient weight with District Judge Vanessa Baraitser to result in an adjournment till 2 pm in the afternoon, but this had more to do with logistics than any broader principle of conviction.

As Baraitser reasoned, 47 people were currently in custody at court; a mere eight rooms were available for interviewing, leaving an additional hour to the day. In her view, if Assange was sinned against, so was everybody else, given that others in custody should not be prevented from access to counsel. (This judge has a nose for justice, albeit using it selectively.) As things stand, Peirce is aiming to finalise the exhibits for submission to the prosecution by January 18. The government deadline for responding to those documents will be February 7. The case proceeding itself was adjourned till January 23, and Assange will have the choice, limited as it is, of having the hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court or Belmarsh.

Read more …

 

The Taleb approach to forest fires. Antifragility.

 

 

 

Include the Automatic Earth in your 2020 charity list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Oct 072019
 
 October 7, 2019  Posted by at 9:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Print your own Assange mask

 

The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t (Taibbi)
DNC Colluded With Ukraine To Boost Hillary By Harming Trump – Report (DWire)
Bob Woodward: GOP Senators ‘Choking’ On Trump-Ukraine Scandal (WE)
In Last Minute Call, Erdogan Agrees To Meet Trump Over Syria ‘Safe Zone’ (ZH)
Arise, Commissioner Farage! (Pol.eu)
Brexit Border Talk Stirs Up Bad Memories In Northern Ireland (G.)
An Actual Conspiracy Kept Jeffrey Epstein’s Accomplices out of Prison
Chinese Farmers Raise Mutant Pigs The Size Of Polar Bears (ZH)
Lula’s Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. He Refuses. (Greenwald)

 

 

Not even close.

The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t (Taibbi)

Start with the initial headline, in the story the Washington Post “broke” on September 18th: “TRUMP’S COMMUNICATIONS WITH FOREIGN LEADER ARE PART OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT THAT SPURRED STANDOFF BETWEEN SPY CHIEF AND CONGRESS, FORMER OFFICIALS SAY”. The unnamed person at the center of this story sure didn’t sound like a whistleblower. Our intelligence community wouldn’t wipe its ass with a real whistleblower. Americans who’ve blown the whistle over serious offenses by the federal government either spend the rest of their lives overseas, like Edward Snowden, end up in jail, like Chelsea Manning, get arrested and ruined financially, like former NSA official Thomas Drake, have their homes raided by FBI like disabled NSA vet William Binney, or get charged with espionage like ex-CIA exposer-of-torture John Kiriakou.


It’s an insult to all of these people, and the suffering they’ve weathered, to frame the ballcarrier in the Beltway’s latest partisan power contest as a whistleblower. I’ve met a lot of whistleblowers, in both the public and private sector. Many end up broke, living in hotels, defamed, (often) divorced, and lucky if they have any kind of job. One I knew got turned down for a waitressing job because her previous employer wouldn’t vouch for her. She had little kids. The common thread in whistleblower stories is loneliness. Typically the employer has direct control over their ability to pursue another job in their profession. Many end up reviled as traitors, thieves, and liars. They often discover after going public that their loved ones have a limited appetite for sharing the ignominy. In virtually all cases, they end up having to start over, both personally and professionally.

Read more …

When will the MSM start publishing about the “DNC-UKRAINE SCANDAL”? The Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine was convicted in Ukraine for interfering in the U.S. presidential election in 2016…

DNC Colluded With Ukraine To Boost Hillary By Harming Trump – Report (DWire)

The Blaze has released an audio recording that they recently obtained that appears to show Artem Sytnyk, Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, admitting that he tried to boost the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton by sabotaging then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. The connection between the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Ukrainian government was veteran Democratic operative Alexandra Chalupa, “who had worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the Clinton administration” and then “went on to work as a staffer, then as a consultant, for Democratic National Committee,” Politico reported.

Chalupa was working directly with the Ukrainian embassy in the United States to raise concerns about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and, according to Politico, she indicated that the Embassy was working “directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions.” The Ukrainian embassy political officer who worked at the embassy at the time, Andrii Telizhenko, stated that the Ukrainians “were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa” and that “the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa. The Blaze highlighted an email from WikiLeaks from Chalupa to Louise Miranda at the DNC:


“Hey, a lot coming down the pipe. I spoke to a delegation of 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine last night at the Library of Congress, the Open World Society forum. They put me on the program to speak specifically about Paul Manafort. I invited Michael Isikoff, who I’ve been working with for the past few weeks, and connected him to the Ukrainians. More offline tomorrow, since there was a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in the next few weeks. Something I’m working on that you should be aware of.” The Blaze then reported that Sytnyk, who eventually “was tried and convicted in Ukraine for interfering in the U.S. presidential election in 2016,” released a “black ledger” on Manafort during the 2016 presidential election that eventually led to Manafort’s downfall.

Read more …

Republicans drowning in donations.

Bob Woodward: GOP Senators ‘Choking’ On Trump-Ukraine Scandal (WE)

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward said Republican senators are “choking” on President Trump’s Ukraine scandal. At his second appearance in Spokane, Washington, in as many days, the famed Watergate sleuth discussed the precarious situation GOP lawmakers find themselves in as Trump faces controversy for encouraging foreign countries to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter. “I know Republican senators, and they are choking on this,” Woodward said on Friday, according to the Spokesman-Review. “Whether they say that’s too much, I don’t know.” Some Republicans in the upper chamber have begun to break ranks after Trump openly encouraged Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens on Thursday.

Among those who have vented publicly are Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, as well as Texas Rep. Will Hurd in the House. Trump, who claims his overtures were about corruption and not crippling a political opponent in the 2020 election, repeatedly castigated Romney on Saturday, even calling for his impeachment. In a discussion with college students on Thursday, Woodward said the situation for Trump is getting “more serious each day” and predicted that impeachment in the House “is almost certainly going to happen to Trump.” He added, “But then there’s a trial in the Senate.”


On Friday, Woodward acknowledged that Trump encouraging foreign countries to investigate the Biden family is “probably not criminal,” but he nonetheless referred to the controversy as being wide in scope. Speaking of the House impeachment inquiry, Woodward said, “They’re looking through a keyhole, and it’s a panorama.” Woodward also noted how some Republicans in the Senate are seeing an advantage from the Democrats’ impeachment venture. He mentioned that Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former Trump critic who has become one of his most vociferous defenders, is seeing an influx of donations. Woodward said the South Carolina Republican told him he “couldn’t count the money fast enough.”

Read more …

Erdogan blames the US for not establishing the safe zone.

In Last Minute Call, Erdogan Agrees To Meet Trump Over Syria ‘Safe Zone’ (ZH)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan again threatened this weekend to initiate a military incursion into northeast Syria, where US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are based (and bolstered locally by small American bases), saying an offensive “both on land and air” would come “as soon as today or tomorrow.” Like many threats of an “imminent” invasion, it appears this proverbial can will be kicked further down the road, as presidents Trump and Erdogan held a “last minute” phone call on Sunday, where it appears the two leaders came to some level of an understanding. They discussed Turkey’s proposed “safe zone” east of the Euphrates in Syria — which Erdogan has long urged a resistant Washington to cooperate militarily on — and though exact details of the exchange weren’t published, they agreed to meet in Washington next month upon Trump’s invitation.

“Erdogan expressed Turkey’s unease with U.S. military and security bureaucracies not doing what is required by the agreement between the two countries, the presidency said, adding that the two men agreed to meet,” Reuters reported of the call. As we reported previously, Turkey’s military is reportedly on high alert, ready to carry out the Turkish president’s orders on short notice, after a longtime military build-up along the border. “We will carry out this operation both on land and air as soon as today or tomorrow,” Erdogan said on Saturday. “We gave all warnings to our interlocutors regarding the east of Euphrates and we have acted with sufficient patience,” the Turkish president added.


He further slammed the prospect of cooperating with the US on a US-Turkey administered safe zone “a fairytale” given Washington’s recalcitrance regarding Syria’s Kurds, the ethnic group’s militias of which Turkey considers “terrorists”. The Kurdish dominated and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has vowed it will treat any invading Turkish soldiers as an act of war. In a statement the SDF said it would “not hesitate to turn any unprovoked (Turkish) attack into an all-out war” to defend its region in northeast Syria, according to Reuters.

Read more …

Given what Dominic Cummings thinks of Farage, hard to see him taking up a job with much publicity.

Arise, Commissioner Farage! (Pol.eu)

London may not be planning to nominate a commissioner to Brussels but if it does, some say there’s only one option: Nigel Farage. Conservative MP Steve Baker told the Telegraph’s Chopper Brexit Podcast that the Brexit Party member of the European Parliament would be the obvious choice to be the U.K.’s European commissioner, if Brexit is delayed and the country is able to nominate one. “I think we should appoint somebody with about twenty years experience … we should appoint somebody who’s incredibly well-known throughout the institutions, somebody who can be absolutely relied upon at all times to support our exit from the European Union,” he said.


“And therefore I unashamedly back Nigel Farage to be our next European commissioner in the event, in the unfortunate event, should it transpire, though I think it unlikely, that we have to remain in.” Baker, who leads the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs in the U.K. parliament, said the idea would be “inspired by the film Armageddon,” referring to a 1998 science fiction movie. There is a scene where “they’re trying to save the world, and so what they do is they land on the asteroid, and they put a nuclear weapon in the heart of the asteroid, and Nigel Farage is that nuclear weapon,” Baker said. “I’ve reason to think he might say that he would accept such an offer,” Baker added, while noting that “my sympathy for Nigel Farage, which has not always been at very high levels, has dramatically increased the more that I am demonized.”

Read more …

A traumatized people. Too easily forgotten.

Brexit Border Talk Stirs Up Bad Memories In Northern Ireland (G.)

Remnants of Hurricane Lorenzo unleashed wind and rain from the Atlantic across the area, a rural pocket of County Fermanagh that marks Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic. “Stay back, stay high, stay dry,” advised the authorities, and residents duly hunkered down. Lorenzo passed without major damage. [..] Around Gortmullan, businesses and ordinary people were left wondering if – and where – to seek cover, a dilemma dating from the 2016 referendum result that now thrummed with urgency. “We’re setting up new companies on both sides of the border,” said Liam McCaffrey, CEO of Quinn Industrial Holdings, which supplies building materials.

Customs checks would be bad enough, but Johnson’s apparent plan to give the Stormont assembly a veto over trading arrangements verged on surreal, said McCaffrey. Power sharing in Northern Ireland collapsed in January 2017 and shows little sign of reviving. “The future of how we trade is to be decided every four years by an assembly that hasn’t sat in three years? Bizarre.” Such was the challenge of Storm Boris. Perhaps it was hot air, a plan destined for oblivion to be superseded by who knows what. Or perhaps it was a blast of what is to come in a no-deal crash-out, or a deal negotiated in the next few weeks or after a general election. The uncertainty was head spinning.


[..] The 310-mile border, drawn in 1922 during the partition of Ireland, bristled with military patrols and fortifications during the Troubles. The 1998 Good Friday agreement and the EU’s single market rendered it invisible, helping to seal the peace. [..] A complex web connects the economies on both sides of the border. Trade in goods is worth about £5.2bn. About a third of Northern Ireland’s goods and services exports are sold to the Republic, while about a quarter of its imports come from the south. Downing Street says electronic paperwork and a “very small number” of physical inspections at traders’ premises would limit disruption. Farmers and business leaders dispute that. Some warn of disaster. Diageo, which makes Guinness and Baileys, estimates a hard border could cost it £1.3m, based on an estimate of an hour’s delay for each of the 18,000 beer trucks that traverse the border each year. Smaller businesses with tight margins could face ruin.

Read more …

How could this ever happen? “The parties anticipate that this agreement will not be made part of any public record. If the United States receives a Freedom of Information Act request or any compulsory process commanding the disclosure of the agreement, it will provide notice to Epstein before making that disclosure.”

An Actual Conspiracy Kept Jeffrey Epstein’s Accomplices out of Prison (MJ)

But not limited to: It was just a four-word phrase, a bit of plain contractual verbiage, but even now, more than a decade later, Spencer Kuvin has a hard time expressing just how bizarre it was. “It’s incredibly odd language,” said Kuvin, an attorney in Florida. “I’ve never seen it before in a non-prosecution agreement.” Kuvin and I were talking about the infamous and inexplicable 2007 plea deal offered by then–US Attorney Alexander Acosta, last seen slinking out of the Labor Department’s back door. Kuvin had represented three of Epstein’s victims at the time of the agreement, and Kuvin is still exercised about the deal, in particular its brief immunity clause that continues to protect Epstein’s co-conspirators.

According to a ruling by US District Judge Kenneth Marra in February 2019, “from between about 1999 and 2007, Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused more than 30 minor girls…at his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States and overseas.” The ruling goes on to describe a child sex ring: “In addition to his own sexual abuse of the victims, Epstein directed other persons to abuse the girls sexually. Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him. Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.”

But back in 2007, Epstein was charged only with procuring an underage girl for prostitution, having struck an unbelievable sweetheart deal with Acosta. Epstein served 13 months in a Palm Beach County jail, of which six days a week were spent on work release in his high-rise office, a limo chauffeuring him to and from jail. He was also required to register as a sex offender. The deal on its face is incredibly favorable to Epstein. If you look closer, things get even better for him:


“The United States also agrees that it will not institute any criminal charges against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein, including but not limited to Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff, or Nadia Marcinkova.” The four women named had allegedly helped recruit underage girls for Epstein at his direction. But that four-word phrase “but not limited to” gave a free pass to anybody who would have helped Epstein acquire or traffic underage girls for sex. How could the government agree to immunize “any potential co-conspirators” of an alleged serial child rapist? The question is at the center of so many conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s life and death.

Read more …

Me when I see this, I’m thinking Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.

Chinese Farmers Raise Mutant Pigs The Size Of Polar Bears (ZH)

Amid one of the worst food crises in recent memory, Chinese farmers are reportedly trying to breed larger pigs as the African swine fever – less affectionately known as ‘pig ebola’ – has destroyed over 100 million pigs, between one-third and a half of China’s supply of pigs by various estimates, causing pork prices to explode to levels never seen before. As Beijing scrambles to make up for the lost domestic supply with imports, even desperately waiving tariffs on American pork products in what China’s politicians tried to sell to their population (and Washington) as a “gesture of goodwill”, farmers in southern China have raised a pig that’s as heavy as a polar bear.

Once slaughtered, these giant mutant pigs can fetch a, well, giant price on the market. Here’s more from Bloomberg: “The 500 kilogram, or 1,102 pound, animal is part of a herd that’s being bred to become giant swine. At slaughter, some of the pigs can sell for more than 10,000 yuan ($1,399), over three times higher than the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province where Pang Cong, the farm’s owner, lives.” Soaring pork prices have encouraged small and large farms to experiment with DIY genetic experimentation, in the name of raising pigs that are about 40% heavier than the ‘normal’ weight of 125 kilos.

“High pork prices in the northeastern province of Jilin is prompting farmers to raise pigs to reach an average weight of 175 kilograms to 200 kilograms, higher than the normal weight of 125 kilograms. They want to raise them “as big as possible,” said Zhao Hailin, a hog farmer in the region.”

Read more …

The entire case is falling to bits.

Lula’s Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. He Refuses. (Greenwald)

The same Brazilian prosecutors who for years exhibited a single-minded fixation on jailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are now seeking his release from prison, requesting that a court allow him to serve the remainder of his 11-year sentence for corruption at home. But Lula — who believes the request is motivated by fear that prosecutorial and judicial improprieties in his case, which were revealed by The Intercept, will lead to the nullification of his conviction — is opposing these efforts, insisting that he will not leave prison until he receives full exoneration. In seeking his release, Lula’s prosecutors are almost certainly not motivated by humanitarian concerns. Quite the contrary: Those prosecutors have often displayed a near-pathological hatred for the two-term former president.

Last month, The Intercept, jointly with its reporting partner UOL, published previously secret Telegram messages in which the Operation Car Wash prosecutors responsible for prosecuting Lula cruelly mocked the tragic death of his 7-year-old grandson from meningitis earlier this year, as well as the 2017 death of his wife of 43 years from a stroke at the age of 66. One of the prosecutors who participated publicly apologized, but none of the others have. Far more likely is that the prosecutors are motivated by desperation to salvage their legacy after a series of defeats suffered by their once-untouchable, widely revered Car Wash investigation, ever since The Intercept, on June 9, began publishing reports based on a massive archive of secret chats between the prosecutors and Sergio Moro, the judge who oversaw most of the convictions, including Lula’s, and who now serves as President Jair Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice and Public Security.


The prosecutors’ cynical gambit, it appears, is that the country’s Supreme Court — which two weeks ago nullified one of Moro’s anti-corruption convictions for the first time on the ground that he violated core rights of defendants — will feel less pressure to nullify Moro’s guilty verdict in Lula’s case if the ex-president is comfortably at home in São Paulo (albeit under house arrest) rather than lingering in a Curitiba prison. But this strategy ran into a massive roadblock when Lula demanded that he not be released from prison unless and until he is fully exonerated.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Jul 262019
 


Edward Hopper Sailing 1911

 

It’s a development that has long been evident in continental Europe, and that has now arrived on the shores of the US and UK. It is the somewhat slow but very certain dissolution of long-existing political parties, organizations and groups. That’s what I was seeing during the Robert Mueller clown horror show on Wednesday.

Mueller was not just the Democratic Party’s last hope, he was their identity. He was the anti-Trump. Well, he no longer is, he is not fit to play that role anymore. And there is nobody to take it over who is not going to be highly contested by at least some parts of the party. In other words: it’s falling apart.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a natural process, parties change as conditions do and if they don’t do it fast enough they disappear. Look at the candidates the Dems have. Can anyone imagine the party, post-Mueller, uniting behind Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris? And then for one of them to beat Donald Trump in 2020?

I was just watching a little clip from Sean Hannity, doing what Trump did last week, which is going after the Squad. Who he said are anti-Israel socialists and, most importantly, the de facto leaders of the party, not Nancy Pelosi. That is a follow-up consequence of Mueller’s tragic defeat, the right can now go on the chase. The Squad is the face of the Dems because Trump and Hannity have made them that.

The upcoming Horowitz and Durham reports on their respective probes into “meddling into the meddling” will target many people in the Democratic Party, US intelligence services, and the media. In that order. Can the Dems survive such a thing? It’s hard to see.

 

There’s Bernie and the Squad, the declared socialists, who will never be accepted as leaders by a party so evidently predicated upon support for the arms industry. And they in turn can’t credibly support candidates who do. The Democratic Party will never be socialist, they will have to leave the label behind in order to share that message and remain believable.

But without them, what will be left? Joe Biden, or perhaps Hillary silently waiting in the wings? I don’t see it. Not after Mueller, not after two-three years of gambling all on red anti-Trump. At least the Squad have an identity, got to give them that. Whether it will sell in 2019 America is another thing altogether.

I personally think the term socialist is too tainted, on top of being too misinterpreted, for it to be “electable”, but I also understand there are large swaths of the US population who are in dire straits already with a recession on the horizon, but 2020 seems too soon. And I would ditch the term regardless. It’s like painting a target on your back for Trump and Hannity to aim at.

If you remember the 2016 campaign and the clown parade on stage with the likes of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush glaring at the headlights, you know that the GOP has issues that are very similar to those of the Dems. But Trump came along.

The Dems have no Trump. They do have a DNC that will stifle any candidate they don’t like (Bernie!), though. Just think what they would have done if Trump had run as a Democrat (crazy, but not that crazy).

 

The UK’s issues are remarkably similar to those of the US. Only, in their case, the socialists have already taken over the left-wing party (if you can call the Dems left-wing). This has led to absolute stagnation. Tony Blair had moved Labour so far to the right (which he and his Blairites call center, because it sounds so much better), that injecting Jeremy Corbyn as leader was just too fast and furious.

So they labeled Corbyn an anti-semite, the most successful and equally empty smear campaign since Julian Assange was called a rapist. Corbyn never adequately responded, so he couldn’t profile himself and now the Blairites are again calling on him to leave. Oh, and he never gave a direct answer to the question of Brexit yes or no either. Pity. Corbyn’s support among the people is massive, but not in the party.

Which is why it’s now up to Boris Johnson to ‘deliver the will of the people’. And apparently the first thing the people want is 20,000 more policemen. Which were fired by the very party he at the time represented first as first mayor of London and then foreign minister, for goodness sake. His very own Tories closed 600 police stations since 2010 and will have to re-open many now.

Some survey must have told him it polled well. Just like polling was an essential part of pushing through Brexit. There’s a very revealing TV movie that came out 6 months ago called Brexit: The Uncivil War, that makes this very clear. The extent to which campaigns these days rely on data gathering and voter targeting will take a while yet to be understood, but they’re a future that is already here. Wikipedia in its description of the film puts it quite well:

 

After the opening credits, [Dominic] Cummings rejects an offer in 2015 by UKIP MP Douglas Carswell and political strategist Matthew Elliott to lead the Vote Leave campaign due to his contempt for “Westminister politics”, but accepts when Carswell promises Cummings full control.

The next sequences show Cummings outlining the core strategy on a whiteboard of narrow disciplined messaging delivered via algorithmic database-driven micro-targeting tools. Cummings rejects an approach by Nigel Farage and Arron Banks of Leave.EU to merge their campaigns, as his data shows Farage is an obstacle to winning an overall majority.

[..] In a eureka moment, Cummings refines the core message to “Take Back Control”, thus positioning Vote Leave as the historical status quo, and Remain as the “change” option. Cummings meets and hires Canadian Zack Massingham, co-founder of AggregateIQ, who offers to build a database using social media tools of [3 million] voters who are not on the UK electoral register but are inclined to vote to leave.

[..] In the final stages, high-profile senior Tory MPs Michael Gove and Boris Johnson join the Vote Leave campaign emphasising the need to “Take Back Control”, while Penny Mordaunt is shown on BBC raising concerns over the accession of Turkey. Gove and Johnson are shown as having some reticence over specific Vote Leave claims (e.g. £350 million for NHS, and 70 million potential Turkish emigrants) but are seen to overcome them.

 

Dominic Cummings, played in the movie by Benedict Cumberbatch, is an independent political adviser who belongs to no party. But guess what? He was the first adviser Boris Johnson hired after his nomination Wednesday. Cummings didn’t want Nigel Farage as the face of Brexit, because he polled poorly. He wanted Boris, because his numbers were better. Not because he didn’t think Boris was a bumbling fool, he did.

And now Cummings is back to finish the job. Far as I can see, that can only mean one thing: elections, and soon (it’s what Cummings does). A no-deal Brexit was voted down, in the same Parliament Boris Johnson now faces, 3 times, or was it 4? There is going to be a lot of opposition. Boris wants Brexit on October 31, and has practically bet his career on it. But there is going to be a lot of opposition.

He can’t have elections before September, because of the summer recess. So perhaps end of September?! But he has Dominic Cummings and his “algorithmic database-driven micro-targeting tools”. Without which Brexit would never have been voted in. So if you don’t want Brexit, you better come prepared.

Cummings and his techies weren’t -just- sending out mass mails or that kind of stuff. That’s already arcane. They were sending targeted personalized messages to individual voters, by the millions. Algorithms. AI. Tailor made. If you’re the opposition, and you don’t have those tools, then what do you have exactly?

Already thought before it all happened that it was funny that Boris Johnson’s ascension and Robert Mueller’s downfall were scheduled for the same day. There must be a pattern somewhere.

You can find the movie at HBO or Channel 4, I’m sure. Try this link for Channel 4. Seeing that movie, and thinking about the implications of the technology, the whole notion of Russian meddling becomes arcane as well. We just have no idea.

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 072019
 


Johannes Vermeer The geographer 1668-69

 

July 7 2019, just another tequila Sunday. There are elections here in Greece, and the right wing will take over. Bad idea, because it will bring out the left wing resistance that have remained subdued while Syriza reneged on all their promises, but they were left wing, and how does left protesting left work exactly? They didn’t know. Better lay low. No more.

From now on in, it’s women and children first. And there are so many pent up grievances. Youth unemployment is still at 40%. While ever more Greeks are evicted from their homes through Airbnb alone. This ain’t gonna go well. That strong economy the right promises will be there exclusively for their own richer supporters, at the ever-increasing cost of the poor.

 

The US women’s soccer team just became World Champions again. That’s the last time in a very long time. Because traditional soccer countries now also have women’s teams. There’s a very peculiar division at the bottom of this. In Europe and South America and Africa, soccer is a men’s game.

In the US, baseball, hockey, basketball and American football have spent millions making sure soccer was turned into, and perceived as, a girly sport. Just so the best male athletes would not turn there. So the US, colleges, universities, have this decades-long tradition of women’s soccer. But they have no such tradition for men, while almost the entire rest of the world does.

That’s why the US women’s soccer team will never win again, and it’s also why the men’s team never will. No culture, no tradition, even as they easily could have them. This was very obvious to me in my Montreal days. In summer, in just about every city park, there were community and family gatherings of South- and Central Americans, and they were all playing soccer.

Still, Canada stinks at the game on an international level. Why? Because the hockey people don’t want the competition for male athletes. They cut it down wherever they can. All they would have to do is take the most promising 100 10-year old kids just playing in the parks in one city, and get them into a program. Within 10 years they’d have a national team that’s an international contender. Kids from Peru, Chili, Brazil, 100 different countries, and throw in the European kids that are there anyway. But no.

 

Still, I was going to talk about Trump again. Just to piss off the people some more who -stupidly- accuse me of supporting Trump. Though it is sort of the same thing: Greek PM Tsipras is set to lose (no results yet as I write this) because he never did what he promised. US soccer is set to lose because other domestic sports don’t want it to be successful. People are -mostly- blind.

First I saw this UK ambassador to Washington, one Sir Kim Darroch, has sent “secret” cables (memos) to his government about how Trump’s administration is supposedly “inept, insecure and incompetent”, as well as “uniquely dysfunctional” and “divided”. “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

“Differences between the US and the UK on climate change, media freedoms and the death penalty might come to the fore as the countries seek to improve trading relations after Brexit, the memos said.” Oh, fcuking yeah, the UK is such a shining light on climate change and press freedom, right?! Who’s holding a certain journalist, one Julian Assange, in a maximum security prison again?

“Mr Trump’s publicly stated reason for calling off an airstrike against Tehran with 10 minutes to go – that it would cause 150 casualties – “doesn’t stand up”, Sir Kim said. Instead, he suggested the president was “never fully on board”. When I read that line, I thought Sir Kim was not-even-so secretly in favor of attacking Iran. Was that just me?

Oh, and earlier today I was wondering if they ever hand out these Sir and Dame titles to people who are poor or even destitute but who work 25 hours a day for the people around them, to make sure they can alleviate the suffering in their communities as much as they can. Or does that mummified “Queen” of theirs only bestow that “honor” on the upper classes? No, I do not care, I think I know the answer. Inglan is a bitch.

And if I’ve ever seen a dysfunctional, “inept, insecure and incompetent” government, it’s the one that these secret memos were sent to. From Cameron to May to soon Boris Johnson, let get real.

 

Then also today there were all these news reports about Jeffrey Epstein on how he’s finally being charged with abusing dozens of underage on his planes and his estates. This has been going on for decades (who was in charge during those years). What is the media focus? Trump, of course. But Epstein was thrown out of Mar-A-Lago I think 12 years ago for hitting on an underage girl. Does that mean we know for sure Trump was never involved? Nope.

But we do know that Bill Clinton flew 26 times in a few years on Epstein’s ‘Lolita Express’ bringing helpss girls so faraway places. So maybe he should be the main focus here, not Trump. Then again, it’s too late in the game now, isn’t it? US -and UK- media have bet all their money on the anti-Trump game. They have lost everything so far, and then they double down, everything on red style.

I’m thinking: guys, you lost, time to find a new game plan. But they don’t have the flexibility nor the intelligence required. Aaron Maté wrote another scathing -must read- essay on the Mueller Report , putting its credibiltiy at the same level as the Steele dossier, but one half of America doesn’t even want to see that. It only wants to see more damning reports, damn evidence, about their favorite orange piñata.

And no, talking about that does not make me a Trump supporter. Let’s say I’m looking at that like it were a game of soccer, and I point out to you that the other team has absolutely nothing while they’re already 10-0 down (that’s a very big score in soccer).

 

But a third thing i saw today really made me think Trump can’t lose in 2020. The Guardian of all places had a review of a book entitled American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War by Politico writer Tim Alberta, in which Trump effusively praises Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among other things by comparing her to Evita Peron.

“Trump says he first saw Ocasio-Cortez during her primary against Crowley, while watching TV with political advisers. “I see a young woman,” he says, “ranting and raving like a lunatic on a street corner, and I said: ‘That’s interesting, go back.’” Alberta then says Trump “became enamored” and “starstruck” by Ocasio-Cortez. “I called her Eva Perón,” Trump says. “I said, ‘That’s Eva Perón. That’s Evita.”


[..] Trump does row back on his praise, telling Alberta: “She’s got talent. Now, that’s the good news. The bad news: she doesn’t know anything. She’s got a good sense, an ‘it’ factor, which is pretty good, but she knows nothing. But with time, she has real potential.”

 

I still remain convinced that the one dimensional Trump haters, the same people who would accuse me of supporting him, don’t understand how or why that means he will win easily in 2020. Well, that, and they have nobody to put up against him. Joe Biden is not just a joke, he’s an old and stale joke. Kamala Harris is an attempt to cross Obama with Hillary. Bernie Sanders is a wonderful man, but he should be the campaign manager for a younger prospect, but who isn’t there.

And Tulsi Gabbard is being actively suppressed by the DNC, like Bernie Sanders four years ago. All the rest of the field are mere bystanders. It’s the exact same feeling of the GOP ‘contestants’ standing against Trump in 2016. They’re there to fill up space, and to create the illusion there’s an actual conversation or dialogue or contest happening.

 

Personally, I think it would be great if the Democrats have a valid candidate next year, at the level of Trump or better. The Donald should have stayed in real estate. But instead he’s the President, and now everybody has to deal with that. And you don’t do that by continuing to blame him for everything that happens under the sun. That ‘tactic’ has failed for three years.

Those past 3 years of media bias against him, plus the Mueller report debacle, should have made this clear. But what we see today is that neither the Democrats nor the press that supports them have anything to fight Trump with. While he compliments their main future asset for her talent, and for her likeness to a world-famous tragic actress-turned-politician and Broadway darling.

That’s why he’ll win.

 

 

Oct 112018
 
 October 11, 2018  Posted by at 1:22 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Triumph of Death 1562

 

Finally financial ‘markets’ go through a substantial dip, which Steve Mnuchin claims is just temporary and Donald Trump says is caused by the fact that the Fed is ‘loco’. Mnuchin may well be right, but it won’t be because he knows something you don’t.

And Trump is certainly right, but in reality the Fed has been loco for many years, so why be surprised if it acts crazy now? The reason Mnuchin and a million other ‘experts’ may be right without realizing it is that the Fed has been crazy enough to kill the financial markets.

Or at least killed what made the markets functional, and beneficial to society. And that may well be exactly what Jay Powell is trying to repair, but he may well not be aware of that either. Looked at from a ‘benign’ angle, Powell is perhaps raising rates so people can regain insight into what they’re buying.

The pre-Powell Fed pushed up asset prices (don’t let’s say ‘values’) to such heights nobody has any insight anymore into what anything is truly worth. And in what was formerly known as the financial markets that was not important, because what were formerly known as investors were making heaps of money regardless.

Surely they must all have known that this wouldn’t continue?! That it’s just a matter of timing, of knowing when it would end? Oh, but that’s not really possible, is it, without the very price discovery process the Fed successfully strangulated?

Still, there must also be tons of people left thinking the Fed can kick that can six times to the moon and back, or sixty. If only because they’ve never bothered to think about price discovery, and what role it plays in the very ‘markets’ they volunteer to spend their money in.

And along those same lines, many acknowledge housing bubbles in Sydney and Vancouver but think the US has learned its lesson a decade ago. And the loco Fed plays its role there too: mortgage rates have been ultra-low, enticing the last left batch of greater fools not mortally wounded by the last fire to jump in this time. Wolf Richter’s Case-Shiller graph says plenty in that regard:

 

 

But of course things tend back to normalcy, and it doesn’t take all the overleveraged stock- and home buyers longing for price discovery; it takes just a few to get the engine started. And then everyone will be along for the ride. So from that angle Jay Powell looks anything but crazy raising rates, we just can’t be sure if he knows what the consequences will be.

Not that it matters all that much what he does or does not know. What was formerly the market is like a pendulum swung so far out of balance that it costs ever more effort and money to keep it from moving towards equilibrium, and that process has only one possible outcome.

For mortgage rates, it looks something like this, and to make anyone able to buy any home at all higher rates will of necessity mean lower prices. You can’t, nobody can, not the Fed or the government can, keep that pendulum away from its tendency towards equilibrium forever.

 

 

For stocks it looks much the same. So why try, you’d think?! To prevent incumbents and ruling classes from being exposed as swimming naked, that’s why. They invented a way to make the entire nation swim naked, thinking they’d never be found out because the water levels were so high.

Whether yesterday’s 831-point Dow dip is temporary or not is of little interest. Much more important is that the entire asset prices situation is temporary. It doesn’t matter if the Fed pumps $1, $10, or $100 trillion into what once were markets, in the end it all comes down to how many people can pay how much money for the assets.

And since there is never an unending supply of greater fools, we know where this is going. The easy money and low rates and asset purchases at central banks and stock buybacks by companies can and will result only in more profits and more wealth for a few, and sheer endlessly less for the many.

Inequality in the US has now reached such extremities that the country’s AAA rating threatens to be taken away –as Moody’s indicated-; the government has so many people it must support financially (or let perish) that its financial position comes under pressure. Which is, again, negative for the many, for the few; they don’t care about that rating.

Yes, too many people are on some form of welfare in America. And Washington would love to throw many of them off of it. The many have no representation on Capitol Hill anymore. Just about any senator and congress(wo)man is a millionaire or certainly well-off.

 

How can the country get its rating back, or at least not lose it due to its increasing inequality? There seem to be two ways: let the 80 million now on welfare die by the side of the road, or provide them with jobs that allow them a fruitful life. That may sound like socialism or something, but it’s really the exact opposite.

It’s not the government’s role to give people jobs, but it is its role to make sure conditions are in place for the private sector to provide them. Trump’s ‘trade wars’ look crazy to many, but the intent is to get jobs back to the US. But there is much more.

America was once prosperous. What changed?

Here’s one thing: In what was -arguably?- America’s wealthiest time as a nation, the post-World War II period, income taxes for the richest were as high as 90% (1952: 92%); they were slowly brought down towards 70%. Only when Ronald Reagan took over in 1980 did they really fall (1982: 50%). This was ‘justified’ by lowering the highest income bracket (1982: $85,600, it had been between $200,000 and $400,000 for years).

In 1988, the top rate plunged to 28%, and the highest bracket to $29,750. Today, the top rate is 39.6% and the high bracket $400,000. In a graph, the consequences look like this:

 

 

The corporate tax rate, meanwhile, pulled this one, and don’t get started on tax havens etc.:

 

 

And that situation has led to a huge financial crisis, to the Fed going crazy and handing out trillions to the exact wrong part of society, those who already have a lot of money, and the result has been an absolute disaster, at least for the country; not so much for its elites.

But as even Moody’s now recognizes, you can’t run an AAA-rated country on elites alone. Despite the crazy Fed trillions, the US has achieved negative growth (imagine where it would be without):

 

 

Something must be done. Problem is, with only those millionaires in charge in the House and Senate, the likelihood of boosting income tax levels up to where they were when America was most prosperous is extremely low. And Trump’s tariffs are not on their own going to bring back the jobs; they can’t rebuild the lost infrastructure, for one thing.

Something must be done, and it’s entirely unclear what, or rather, who’s going to do it. The Democrats have nothing, or nothing but frustrated millionaires and Bernie Sanders. The GOP has only Trump. None of these people are going to vote to double their income taxes.

Much of what needs to be done will be classified as socialism, ridiculed and thrown out the window, even if the country was anything but socialist under Eisenhower and Kennedy, during its -at least economic- Golden Age.

It’s a nice puzzle, isn’t it? Well, maybe not so nice after all.

 

 

Apr 302018
 
 April 30, 2018  Posted by at 12:40 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Gustav Klimt The Park 1909

 

 

Dr. D feels his own golden age coming on. It’s just a bit dark gold. Nothing a good polish can’t help, I’m sure. In the end, the spirit is familiar:

A man only begins to grasp the true meaning of life when he plants a tree under whose shade he knows he will never sit.

That is literally how he finishes this:

It’s going where it’s going, as I grow plants and make the bees happy, let the trees rest in the forests, as best I’m able when devoid of any help. They will survive. We are as perennial as grass, and will diminish someday. When we do, I will have left the trees, the seeds, the order, the patterns that will feed the generations that follow, as true men, not infants, should.

It’s spring.

 

 

Dr. D:

Ilargi —
 
Would rather work on a more positive article, something about life, nature, spring, gardens; however I find that they are so complicated as to be inexpressible.  So many, from Thoreau to Sand County Almanac spend entire books and barely scratch an overview of the complexity of nature.  It’s at once so obvious and, lacking personal experience, so inexplicable.  So I haven’t done that, but it’s been chilly and till the asparagus, start the plants (too early) and wait for the leaves.
 
Maybe it’s the case that once we understand how much there is, no thoughts can be put into a 1,000 word article.  Certainly that’s to the detriment of modern thinking and persuasion.  Maybe I just always use too many words to say things and draw in sidelines that are better neglected, however interesting and connected; for all things are really equally connected in mind just as in nature, and because of our linear minds we can’t look at them at once, but only one by one.
 
John Day is correct of the gestalt, however seldom that happens to humankind.  And what is it?  Does that not mean we partake of Jung’s mass consciousness, that we are in fact telepathic, like schools of fish and flocks of birds gyring in the sky?  The nation has gone insane, truly mad, I could not describe it to you.  80% of people believe whatever they think that minute is reality.  When CNN tells them the opposite of yesterday, or the beginning of the sentence is the opposite of the ending, it causes no distress. 

It’s truly Robespierre, cultural revolution, and it doesn’t end well, for the expression of all of it is Crowley’s “Do what thou will” with Ayn Rand’s “What’s best for me is best for all” so you have a system of plundering by power, whether by force or victimhood, where the reality – actually, earnestly, incontrovertibly believed – is whatever will get me the most in this moment.  Is it easier to fake medical paperwork, not check patients, and let them die rather than get out of a chair once an hour?  We do it. 

Call them on it and they’ll deny it, believing even to themselves.  Steal from your own work, your family, banish them on Facebook if they call you on it, then expect a minute later there should be no ill will, no consequences?  Certainly.  Look around and call on public opinion for the callous, selfish, murdering behavior, and 80% of them support you, they think it’s normal and fine, punishing the 20% who still have order, consequences, cause and effect, logos. 
 

 

I have no explanation for it, nor is there an end, but I greatly fear the only cure for it is for the good people to withdraw and leave the bad people starving in a ditch, their children and dogs included, for as adults, it is nearly impossible for them to change, and impossible for any good people to trust that change.  And how are you supposed to run a justice system, a society, in a world of truly pathological, lying, self-serving sociopaths?  How even will their children not end up the same, with only 20% left to throw a lifeline?  A lifeboat cannot save the ship, you know.  It can hardly save itself.
 
I was surprised at the comments today, for this open, transparent, appalling, illogical lies are still completely internalized, completely believed at the meta level.  Trump has an open war on the CIA and Deep State – I don’t know how it could possibly be more obvious or advertised – and any common level would tell you we have been antagonizing North Korea to justify keeping country-sized bases in Japan and SoKo because the men needed to contain China wouldn’t fit in Pearl Harbor and are too far away. And yet when Trump’s team openly undercuts the CIA and peace breaks out everywhere, it’s suddenly not him. 

It’s Kim Jong actually, I read yesterday, he beat the U.S., Trump lost (when Trump also wasn’t trying anything) and…I don’t know, NoKo is going to invade us and SoKo, after they nuke Miami and the moon with the CNN missiles that can hit anywhere on earth?  After Pompeo (and allegedly Trump) met with Kim Jong in the Forbidden City? Earlier, however, he WAS completely responsible for war and the 12M dead Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Maddow longed for.  So let me translate: all bad things forever in time and space are Trump, all good things forever in time and space, not Trump.  And that’s logic now.
 
Maybe it’s inappropriate to give the Nobel to a man when it’s often a team, maybe we shouldn’t give prizes for doing a normal, decent thing and simply not killing each other, but that’s not the tradition.  Personally, I wouldn’t give it to him because in my estimation all he did was STOP the CIA from holding Kim and NoKo hostage to his own Deep State Generals.  Kim is a Swiss-raised trust fund playboy: he doesn’t want war unless forced to it.  I can’t give a medal for simply stopping a war that never should have existed, and one they even now lie about and won’t admit. 

 

But that’s not the point.  The point is, our own readers, who are very smart and should be more than up to speed, seem to completely fall for CNN, Brian Williams, and an endless list of exposed, transparent liars for 20+ years, instead of you, for example, who’s been calling it out and they read every day. My God, what will it take?  It’s disheartening.  I believe that is part of the same Jungean mass-mind they have somehow hacked and it’s a struggle for even smart people to break through.
 
So apparently Kanye, following Professor Griff and a wide number of other immediately ignored and sidelined black artists, has woken up before our own readers.  Not that Trump is great or anything, because he’s a jerk, but that they’ve arranged the same system from 100 years ago where darkie has to think and vote the way master says, or else.  That’s the worst system of slavery ever devised.  You think your color, vote your color, dress your color, watch your color, apply for jobs according to your color, and not your free thinking, your talents, your politics, your soul. 

Yet again, that’s normal: that’s not racism to tell groups how they better vote, yet it IS racism to tell them to think for themselves.  All overwhelmingly racist countries easily elect and accept Black Presidents with Muslim names, have black leaders in both parties, black billionaires, black megastars.  That’s how we know they’re racist, right?  Reality doesn’t matter, evidence doesn’t matter, logic doesn’t matter, it hasn’t mattered my whole life, it will never matter ever again.
 
It strikes me that although pretty poor, whose mascot should be the rhino, Republicans are the party AGAINST slavery, AGAINST the southern Democrats, born AGAINST the KKK, who have black cabinet members, black presidential candidates going back decades as still today. 

Doesn’t matter.  Doesn’t have the slightest effect.  Then they are so racist, so bigoted, that when any member of a subgroup, be they Kanye, Milo, Janda, Diamond and Silk should cross the aisle, they are easily welcomed as party members and people, as thinkers, and not as races, skin colors, or issues – no backlash, no contention in the party. Doesn’t matter.  Hasn’t mattered in 100 years, doesn’t matter now.  It’s truly astonishing.
 

 

Like I said, I once thought, “if only people knew”, if only there were events that would remove the mask of lies, corruption, and abuse, but there are dozens daily, and as Churchill said, they pick themselves up and brush it off, continuing with the lie, no matter how continually debunked, for example, daily for two hysterical years.
 
So what are we supposed to do when that lie — which everyone knows is a lie, but they lie and claim it’s not a lie — can get us into a war ending life on earth?  I do not know.  I say stop lying, as Trump plays along, for all the good that does us.  People tell the truth constantly: big, high-profile journalists, stars, senators…doesn’t have the slightest effect.  They’re still crazy, and the Assad-gassed-his-people-because-he-likes-to-lose-although-we-sniffed-the-backpack-and-door-handle-and-found-nothing are still credible and rational. 

Nor do I trust the gestalt.  They have a bad habit of going where they’re going, and when driven by what are essentially insane people have a bad habit of going astray, meeting their karma, with all the bad consequences therein.  I can’t stop that, but I am an American, and it’s my duty to survive this madness and this civil conflict as did my ancestors before me.  And I’m sure I will, or well enough.  Where would I go to escape this karma anyway?  Britain?  Belgium?  China?  I don’t think so. 
 
It’s going where it’s going, as I grow plants and make the bees happy, let the trees rest in the forests, as best I’m able when devoid of any help.  They will survive.  We are as perennial as grass, and will diminish someday.  When we do, I will have left the trees, the seeds, the order, the patterns that will feed the generations that follow, as true men, not infants, should.