Mar 262021
 


Filothei Skitzi Strapping girl 2021

 

 

Yesterday was Greece’s version of Independence Day, in their case the day the War of Independence from the Ottoman empire started in 1821. Unfortunately, it was so brutally cold -for Greece, that is, at 0ºC- that festivities were “dampened”. Moreover, due to Covid restrictions, people were barred from attending the traditional military parade (due to 1821, and having Turkey as a neighbor, many Greeks still love having an army) in the streets of Athens.

The only ones “allowed” to watch the parade were now the likes of Prince Charles and his horse wife, plus some ambassadors etc. While after almost 5 months of severe lockdown, and spring on the horizon, people really needed some relief in the form of a party. And a national party works best for that. Oh well, spring will come soon, and then soon after that, 39.9ºC. That’s where the weather service always seems to stop counting. It’s like the Y2K bug. A running gag.

I was re-reading the last things I wrote about the Monastiraki kitchen, November and December 2020, just to get back in the spirit, and to find things that I have already talked about, so as not to repeat myself. Cooking food is not the most exciting activity in the world by itself, to write about, or to film, as I always notice when I happenstance upon some TV cooking show.

 

What’s interesting about the social kitchen we run here is all the stories around it, not the cooking itself. I -and you, my readers- have been supporting this initiative for almost 6 years already, imagine that!. Many things have happened, many things have changed along the way, and wouldn’t you know, in the hardest time of all, the lockdowns that take everyone’s breath and life away, being involved in “the kitchen” -as we call it- feels better than ever.

It’s not just that the homeless need us more than ever before, though that is undoubtedly true, it’s also that the volunteers who work in the kitchen get even more of a sense of pride and self-worth from doing something that really changes human lives. Don’t underestimate the loss of pride, of having a goal in life, there are so many facets to this, of not being able to do your job for 5 months. And then to be able to contribute to helping the neediest people in your society, it gains a whole new meaning.

After a year of lockdowns, off and on, societies that have lived through them will irreparably change, even if the people that live in them, will not recognize that now. Most people still think of a return to “normal”. There will be no such thing. Once governments stop propping up businesses and workers financially, which they will have to, there will be a flood of unemployment and business closures. We will need a new “paradigm”, but that will take time.

Greece depends on tourism and hospitality to a much larger extent than most economies. And tourism won’t come back to former heights, this year or next. The virus is not gone, and vaccinating everyone will not solve the issue. Not that politicians and “experts” won’t pretend it will. Greece will win back some part of its tourism industry, but that risks bringing more virus into the country. And tourists, like the British, will be told not to come, by their own governments. Some “repair”, but far short of full.

So once the bars and restaurants open here, they are going to start firing people. The government is well aware of this, and talks about 100s of 1000s of job losses. This will happen everywhere, but in an economy so dependent on hospitality, much more. Summer will feel sort of okay, but after that, we will have many more clients in the Monastiraki kitchen. It’s as clear as day.

 

 

 

Filothei and I went to purchase €1,000 more in supermarket checks, from your donations, on Tuesday. She managed to spread the first €1,000 worth out over 3 months. Me, I like that she is aware of value, respect etc., but I also say sometimes that it’s alright to spend some money. For her, it‘s about every penny, every comma. But that has disadvantages as well: she spends so much time trying to get the best deal on everything that at some point I am sure that her time could be spent in a better way. And that people will understand that.

Example: the kitchen needs plates. We had a donation, 2 years ago, from a company that makes them, of 21,000 plates (they were misprints). We want, in industry terms, “bio-boxes”. As in, not plastic, but paper/cardboard. Those plates are now gone, and we need more. But these things are expensive, and Filothei thinks all donations should go to buying food. I agree, but at the same time, a social kitchen must do what it should do. I personally think some company should donate them to us, and they can put their logo on it, and feel good about supporting us, but in lockdown, no companies make any money. And we still need the plates.

We will buy maybe 6,000 of them soon, and pay maybe €600 for that, and yes, it’s not food, but it’s necessary. In these times, you can look at these companies’ websites, and their products, but most “bio-boxes” are for sandwiches, not hot meals. Yeah, entirely new issues for me too 😉 And all the companies are closed too, so it’s very hard to go check them out. That’s when you realize how crazy these times really are.

 

Other things we did this winter: we bought an umbrella. I told you the place where the cooking takes place is a little stone yard, with no roof. I also said we would pay the €200 for the umbrella with €100 from donations and I would pay the rest. And then it took 40 days, 30 phone calls, and people from the kitchen going there themselves, to finally get it. Welcome to the lockdown economy .

 

 

But isn’t it beautiful? It covers almost the entire yard. Yeah, again, it’s money not spent on food, but it’s needed nonetheless. It has been on several occasions already, and it will be there for years to come. Money well spent.

 

 

Another thing I bought is more facemasks, I paid for those myself, not from your donations. I don’t like the mandates for them much, with people wearing masks outside in the street, that doesn’t make much sense. But for the kitchen, with people working close together, and later handing out the food to the homeless, it does. Risk assessment. Only, wear the best ones then, why wouldn’t you? Why wear a sock on your face when you can get actual protection? These are FFP3 masks, in US terms that would be N95+, they have extra strips inside to connect them to your face, and their active ingredient is activated carbon, not salt. Why not do it well if you do it anyway?

 

 

Oh wait, that’s true, Filothei last week made 60 kilos (!) of lemon marmalade (which probably took 70 kilos of sugar) to hand out, because “the homeless need sugar and salt when it’s cold outside”.

 

 

We are up to 2 cookings a week at Monastiraki now, plus another one at Piraeus that depends on our staples to a large extent. And we’re not going to stop, or halt, or pause. Yes, the summer weather will relieve the pressure somewhat on the “immediate front”, but we need to look ahead too. The economic troubles won’t go away, and neither will the virus. And the people to be first hurt by that are always the same, the poorest, and their legions are growing. And that’s why we do what we do. This team is unbeatable. Despite all the police threats of fines and prison and what not, people always show up for “work”, and the food always gets delivered.

And we do it with love. Lots of it.

 

I’ll leave you with the same last paragraphs I’ve used the past few times when I wrote about the Monastiraki kitchen. You know how this works.

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also went to the kitchen this winter).

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.

I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

Mar 222021
 
 March 22, 2021  Posted by at 9:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  32 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Tahitian village 1892

 

3 Fully Vaccinated People Catch Covid-19 Coronavirus in Hawaii (Forbes)
Travel Changes For Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated (Forbes)
European Trust In AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Plunges (R.)
Ivermectin: Game changer vs Covid-19? What’s the Controversy? (Manila Times)
Greece Mobilizes Private Doctors to Cope With Surging Covid Infections (GR)
Growing Rebellion Against Draconian Covid Restrictions By Canadians (RT)
V. Putin Ain’t No Corn Pop (Kunstler)
Welcome To The Age Of Modern Monetary Theory (Kodrik)
Next Round Of Us Fiscal Legislation Could Reach $4 Trillion – Goldman (FXS)
Media Pseudo-Debates and the Silence of Leftist Critics (Curtin)
Biden Pushes Colombia to Restart Glyphosate Spraying Program
Bipartisan Australian MPs Meet With US Embassy About Julian Assange (SMH)

 

 

“It is spring again.
The earth is like
a child that knows
poems by heart.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 

 

 

 

 

This from Forbes is actually part of the sales job. It’s “only” 3 people. And:

“just because you catch the virus after getting fully vaccinated doesn’t mean that the vaccine didn’t help you. You don’t know how much worse the infection could have been without the vaccine”

3 Fully Vaccinated People Catch Covid-19 Coronavirus in Hawaii (F.)

While the Covid-19 vaccines may protect you against Covid-19, their protection is not perfect. Even after getting vaccinated , you can still catch the virus. You can still get Covid-19. Case in point. Or rather three cases in point. According to the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), three people in Hawaii who had received both doses of either the Moderna or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine subsequently tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Additionally, a fourth person who had received the first of two doses of the vaccine ended up catching the B.1.1.7 variant of the severe acute respiratory respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2). That be a more contagious version of the SARS-CoV2.

Don’t press the panic button just because you saw this news though. In general, pressing a button labeled “Panic” is a bad idea. Plus, three people catching the Covid-19 coronavirus does not mean that the Covid-19 vaccines do not work. Getting the vaccine does not mean that a giant six-feet thick concrete condom forms around your body. The vaccine does not serve as a solid 100% effective barrier to the virus. Even though the vaccines may be quite effective at preventing more severe Covid-19, you still have a chance of getting Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated. And there is still a chance that this Covid-19 can be severe. It’s just that your chances after vaccination may be significantly lower.

Ultimately, three people is not that many people. It’s not even enough to form a four-person bobsled team or a typical boy band or a combination of the two. And it’s only a tiny fraction of the people who have been fully vaccinated to date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker, over 35 million people have gotten both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. [..] just because you catch the virus after getting fully vaccinated doesn’t mean that the vaccine didn’t help you. You don’t know how much worse the infection could have been without the vaccine, unless you’ve somehow mastered time travel.

Read more …

Sales job continued:

“A rebound in travel and day-to-day life most likely won’t be complete until after a vaccine for children becomes available..”

Travel Changes For Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated (F.)

The coronavirus vaccine is becoming available to more people across the United States and the world. Given the uptick in travel, it seems that more people are becoming confident to travel once they become fully vaccinated. Here are some travel changes to know about for those who have been (or will soon be) vaccinated. What Does “Fully Vaccinated” Mean? Your body must develop antibodies after receiving the recommended coronavirus vaccine dosage before you are “fully vaccinated.” The waiting period is 14 days after receiving your final dose. The 14-day period starts after receiving your second dose if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine only requires one dose.

If you want to travel after getting the vaccine, your travel dates should start 14 days after receiving the second dose. As always, you should stay home if you’re showing potential signs and symptoms. People can still contract the coronavirus after being fully vaccinated. Vaccines For Children Are Coming A rebound in travel and day-to-day life most likely won’t be complete until after a vaccine for children becomes available. Moderna is currently testing a children’s vaccine for recipients between ages 6 months and 12 years. For now, fully vaccinated adults have fewer social distancing restrictions. Current social distancing guidelines remain in place for unvaccinated households and travelers.

Being fully vaccinated isn’t a free pass to unrestricted travel as it was before the pandemic. The CDC interim guidelines do not expressly state that those who are fully vaccinated should avoid non-essential travel. However, the vaccinated must limit their exposure to the unvaccinated, who can be at more risk of getting the virus in close contact. The fully vaccinated can visit these people without masks or social distancing: • Other fully vaccinated persons (in small groups only) • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household if they are “low-risk”.

Read more …

“EMA did not rule out a possible link, however..”

European Trust In AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Plunges (R.)

Confidence in the safety of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has taken a big hit in Spain, Germany, France and Italy as reports of rare blood clots have been linked to it and many countries briefly stopped using it, poll data showed on Monday. The polling firm YouGov said it had already found in late February that Europeans were more hesitant about the AstraZeneca vaccine than about those from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech and Moderna Inc, and that the clot concerns had further damaged public perceptions of the AstraZeneca shot’s safety. At least 13 European countries in the past two weeks stopped administering the AstraZeneca shot, co-developed with scientists at Oxford University, after reports of a small number of blood disorders.

Many resumed its use on Friday after the European Medicines Agency regulator said in a preliminary safety review on Thursday that the vaccine was safe and effective and not linked with a rise in the overall risk of blood clots. EMA did not rule out a possible link, however, with rare cases of blood clots in the brain known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). YouGov’s poll – which covered about 8,000 people in seven European countries between March 12 and 18 – found that in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, people were now more likely to see the AstraZeneca vaccine as unsafe than as safe. Some 55% of Germans say it is unsafe, while less than a third think it is safe, the poll showed. In France, where AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine was already unpopular, 61% of people polled say they now see it as unsafe.

In Italy and Spain, most people previously felt the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe – at 54% and 59% respectively – but those rates have fallen to 36% and 38% respectively, in the latest poll. The survey showed that only in Britain, where the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been used in a national rollout since January, have the blood clot concerns had little to no impact on public confidence. The majority of people polled in the UK – 77% – still say the shot is safe. Their trust in it is on a par with Pfizer’s 79% perceived safety rating.

Read more …

A lot of material here. Good for the Philippines.

Ivermectin: Game changer vs Covid-19? What’s the Controversy? (Manila Times)

Desperation time is arriving at our door. Our infection rates are reaching all-time highs, hospitals are full, people are unnerved already and the Philippines is far behind other countries in the recovery. Most of us will survive, but many will die unnecessarily; millions of jobs are lost.Real tests are needed, not speeches. Let’s not kid ourselves that survival is proof of resilience and innovativeness; we must improve all performance indicators, including time to adopt the best practical practices. Can we improve this reality test of our nation’s ability to anticipate, select talent, plan and execute by turning around the Covid health and economic situation quicker? When do we kick out demagogues and incompetents?

One potentially very powerful decision that is simple to execute can bypass the costs, vaccine availability and logistics issues we have (but not the pharma politics and traditional medical bureaucracy?) is the properly managed use of ivermectin.Game changer? Worldwide cases on ivermectin have been accumulating since the middle of 2020. Many highly competent doctors and research institutions are asserting that it can massively decrease infection rates, periods, and severity, at low risk, even prior to the arrival and use of vaccines. What are the arguments for or against ivermectin use for Covid control and treatment? The National Institute of Health (NIH) of the US in January 2021 had upgraded their recommendation on ivermectin, from “against” to “neither for nor against,” making it an option for use against Covid-19.

With the All-Indian Institute of Medical Sciences of Bhubaneswar, India’s Dr. Batmanabane says of his experience: “Earlier, at least 20 to 25 health care workers were getting infected with the virus daily. After the workers started taking Ivermectin, the number of infections has come down to one or two per day.” Their study indicates an over 70 percent overall improvement. While ivermectin is associated at times with some nausea or dizziness or other mild reactions, there have not been serious cases. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) notes that of 49 ivermectin studies, all show favorable results. Patients are dying, while over a billion doses have been used since the 1980s of this “very safe drug”. “Perhaps with this change, patients won’t need a court order to get a lifesaving drug,” according to AAPS executive director Dr. Jane Orient.

Read more …

“Greece will start offering Covid-19 self-testing kits next month to the entire population of the country.” “Greece will be the first EU member-state to offer these tests to the entire population free-of-charge.”

Greece Mobilizes Private Doctors to Cope With Surging Covid Infections (GR)

Greece announced on Monday it is mobilizing private doctors in an effort to contain the pressure on public hospitals struggling to cope with surging Covid-19 infections.Minister of Health, Vassilis Kikilias, said that despite an appeal for volunteers in the last few weeks “very few doctors came forward.” Of about 200 doctors requested by the government to assist their colleagues in the public sector, just 50 have come forward. Worse yet, attempts over the weekend to woo them with bonus fees failed. “Taking into account the emergency conditions and the urgent need for treatment of our fellow human beings, the Ministry of Health is mobilizing the services of Pathologists, Pulmonologists and General Practitioners in Attica,” Kikilias announced.

Doctors associations say the government should first recruit residents at state hospitals and other medical staff waiting to be hired before proceeding with the order, which they describe as absolutely extreme. On Sunday, Greece recorded another 1,514 new Covid-19 cases and the country broke yet another grim record, as a total of 674 people are now intubated in ICU units.The situation in Greece’s hospitals remains critical, with the capacity of many of them in Athens and other large cities being almost overwhelmed. Kikilias confirmed last week that Greece is “at the toughest point of the pandemic’s development.”He added that public hospitals are “on high emergency mode.”

Greece will start offering Covid-19 self-testing kits next month to the entire population of the country, the government said on Saturday.This comes as the latest addition to a series of measures that aim to curve the rising coronavirus infections in the country.Information and details on the new self-tests were announced by the Greek authorities, who claim that Greece will be the first EU member-state to offer these tests to the entire population free-of-charge.

Read more …

“The government’s response has lacked a risk variant analysis on all our populations.”

Growing Rebellion Against Draconian Covid Restrictions By Canadians (RT)

Some Canadians, armed with knowledge of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, aren’t complying with the draconian and absurd measures, and instead are walking out of airports instead of being incarcerated in quarantine hotels. In March, nurse Jessica Faraone made headlines for doing just that and walking out of Toronto’s Pearson airport instead of subjecting herself to a costly $2,000-plus quarantine hotel stay. In a later interview, Faraone said a border guard had attempted to intimidate and shut her up, but she knew her rights. She added: “I have worked in the hospitals and more than ever I’m seeing suicide, depression, strokes, heart attacks, addiction issues. Masking people and children, oppressing health-care workers’ opinions that go against the grain, socially isolating people, and instilling fear into Canadians… is not how we solve this problem.”

And it’s not just well-informed individuals who are contesting the drastic measures. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has been active in challenging the government both on quarantine hotels and on tickets issued to citizens for alleged violations of public health orders. The centre is also disseminating resources for Canadians to know their rights regarding Covid measures. Liberty Coalition Canada was formed after Covid restrictions were brought in. The coalition is a “national network of clergymen, elected officials, small business owners, legal experts and other concerned citizens” that now has a number of sub-groups addressing specific aspects of the measures Canada has taken. These include the social media campaign Save Our Youth, Reopen Ontario Churches, and the End the Lockdowns Caucus.

The latter comprises a number of current and former elected representatives who came together in February “resolved to ensure there is open, honest, and public debate regarding the Covid government response.” This body espouses what many ordinary Canadians have been feeling: “After careful examination and scrutiny of mitigation measures undertaken by all levels of government, it is now evident that the lockdowns cause more harm than the virus and must be brought to an end.” Likewise, the newly-formed Professionals Against Lockdowns – already listing over 100 professionals, including doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, legal experts, police and teachers – aims to provide “evidence-based, scientific research that will educate and empower the public.”

Noting the widespread censorship of any dissenting voices on issues Covid, its statement reads: “It is our professional duty to protect the public, our communities, and our children. We will advocate for what is right and speak up against harm. Together, we will continue to be the voice for the voiceless to ensure that the truth about these lockdowns is heard. “The government’s response has lacked a risk variant analysis on all our populations. We are seeing the harm being done first-hand. We know lockdowns, isolation of healthy individuals, and the violation of our rights are causing more harm than good.”

Read more …

“They’re strangely compelled to seek every possible opportunity to insult the public’s intelligence while destroying what’s left of American culture..”

V. Putin Ain’t No Corn Pop (Kunstler)

Pretty soon, the president’s handlers will have to forbid him to open his pie-hole in public altogether. No more one-on-one interviews even with slow-pitch party shills like Mr. Stephanopoulos. They’ll just wheel him into the rose garden periodically like a cigar store Indian for proof-of-life demonstrations and leave the management of the nation… to others.

And how’s that going after a couple of months? Apparently, economic collapse is not enough for the party in charge of things now. They’re strangely compelled to seek every possible opportunity to insult the public’s intelligence while destroying what’s left of American culture. Case in point out of Nancy Pelosi’s Congress: HR1, the so-called “For the People Act,” institutionalizing ballot fraud in US elections. The law would make permanent the Covid-19 emergency mail-in voting system, over-riding whatever each state’s election law says — which makes the act appear patently unconstitutional — plus permitting same-day motor-voter registration of any live body, citizen or not, plus removing all voter ID requirements, and much more to ensure the country is never again threatened by a fair election.

Next up: HR5, the so-called “Equality Act,” institutionalizing the notion that categories of “male” and “female” are mere cultural constructs and must in no way be allowed to order any cultural activity from school to work to leisure. The bill was initially conceived to harden into law President Obama’s EO expanding the Department of Education’s Title IX rules on school sports — which eventuated in “trans women” disrupting girls’ sports. Now, men pretending to be women (and vice-versa) will be allowed to disrupt everything else in American life, especially the civil courts, with frivolous lawsuits.

Also in the pipeline: HR6, the so-called “American Dream and Promise Act,” and its Senate companion, S264, the plain “Dream Act,” that will grant permanent residency and then citizenship to currently “undocumented” people who snuck into the USA as children. The dreams and promises have already been delivered, even before the final passage of any new act, with an unprecedented flood of unaccompanied migrant children crashing the border, as well as a surge of adults fleeing Mexico and Central America. Apparently, the thinking in Washington these days is that we don’t have enough poor people in America, that their lives are not difficult enough. The message couldn’t be clearer to millions outside the United States: by all means, cross the border and we will do nothing about it.

Read more …

“When overspending does cause inflation, the MMT remedy is to remove money from circulation through progressive taxation, rather than by reducing spending and sacrificing the poor to unemployment.”

Welcome To The Age Of Modern Monetary Theory (Kodrik)

Congress has authorized $6 trillion in deficit spending to defeat the coronavirus. That’s more than the United States spent fighting World War II, when $4 trillion of government spending released the country from the clutches of the Great Depression. Naturally, politicians and pundits debate whether the amount is excessive. But implicit in their seemingly routine deficit debate is a remarkable shift: Inflation has replaced debt — the old stalking horse for defeating progressive legislation — as the primary concern with deficit spending. It’s a subtle change, with profound consequences. And it augurs the rise of a revolutionary approach to political economy, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), as the dominant paradigm in the politics of money.

Like Keynesians of yesteryear, Modern Monetary Theorists urge government to achieve full employment through fiscal policy, even when it requires deficit spending. Their comfort with large deficits emerges from an understanding that an obsession with national debt is a relic of another time, the age of gold standards and fixed currency arrangements. Today, in the age of national monetary sovereignty and free-floating currencies, countries like the United States can fulfill all financial obligations with a simple keystroke. Still, MMT economists don’t exactly scoff at deficits. Their point is that inflation, rather than rising national debt, is the best indicator of whether deficits are too large.

Short of extreme inflation, MMT encourages policymakers to juice the economy through government spending. Seen through MMT goggles, a tenet of economic orthodoxy is flipped on its head: Deficits appear as virtuous public investments, while surpluses become scourges, condemned for sucking money out of the economy. In this brave new world, the refusal of monetary sovereigns to run substantial deficits seems cruel and inefficient. According to MMT economist Stephanie Kelton, deficit spending can and should continue while additional spending can be absorbed by an economy’s productive resources. When overspending does cause inflation, the MMT remedy is to remove money from circulation through progressive taxation, rather than by reducing spending and sacrificing the poor to unemployment.

Read more …

We are all MMT now.

Next Round Of Us Fiscal Legislation Could Reach $4 Trillion – Goldman (FXS)

Analysts at Goldman Sachs eye another US fiscal stimulus, ranging to as high as $4.00 trillion, in their latest note published recently. The US bank suggests a minimum of $2.00 trillion of the infrastructure spending package, which could go to $4.00 trillion if including health care, education, and child care initiatives, in the next round of relief from US President Joe Biden. It should be noted that the bank anticipates higher taxes as a resource for paying the fiscal relief bill. “The tax plan proposed by President Biden in his election campaign would raise the statutory corporate tax rate on domestic income from 21% to 28%, partially reversing the cut from a rate of 35% passed in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The plan would also raise the tax rate on foreign income (also called the “GILTI” tax) and institute a minimum corporate tax rate,” said the note further.

Read more …

Edward Curtin starts out alright, but then…

Media Pseudo-Debates and the Silence of Leftist Critics (Curtin)

You’ve heard of them, no doubt, the U.S. rulers who can’t rule too well and are always getting surprised by events or fed bad advice by their underlings. Their “mistakes” are always well intentioned. They stumble into wars through faulty intelligence. They drop the ball because of bureaucratic mix-ups. They miscalculate the perfidy of the elites whom allegedly they oppose while ushering them into the national coffers out of necessity since they are too big to fail. They never see the storm coming, even as they create it. Their incompetence is the retort to all those nut cases who conjure up conspiracy theories to explain their actions or lack thereof. They are innocent. Always innocent.

They and their media mouthpieces offer Americans, who are most eager to accept, what Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed at age thirty-nine by Hitler, called cheap grace: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance…” These incompetents are, in the immortal words of the New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin, “The Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” Except they could and can. They’ve actually shot a lot of people, here and abroad. It’s one of their specialities. But they mean well. They screw up sometimes, but they mean well. They care, even while they kill millions with their guns and bombs. But they have their followers.

As another dissident thirty-nine-year-old pastor, executed by the American state, Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” The US rulers have their defenders. Most are corporate mainstream journalists whose jobs are to defend the ruling elites of both political parties. They will criticize across the political divides depending on their organizations’ political leanings at the moment. But they will never attack the fundamentals of the oligarchic war system since they are part of it. Their jobs depend on it. So CNN and The New York Times will obsessively attack Trump while Fox News will do the same to Obama or Biden. This is a game.

These days such massive media conglomerates are seemingly starkly divided and basically serve as adjuncts of one political party or the other. They are essentially political propagandists for either the Democrats or the Republicans and have abandoned any pretense to be anything else. They speak to their respective audiences in self-enclosed vacuums. They promote the divide that runs down the middle of the USA, a divide they helped to create.

Read more …

Round-Up used to destroy entire crops. Anything else you wish to know?

Biden Pushes Colombia to Restart Glyphosate Spraying Program

After a six-year halt, Colombia plans to restart the toxic aerial spraying of glyphosate on coca crops as early as next month—drawing “most welcome” support from U.S. President Joe Biden and sharp criticism from 150 regional experts who wrote to Biden, “your administration is implicitly endorsing former President Trump’s damaging legacy in Colombia.” On March 2nd, the Biden administration welcomed Colombia’s decision to restart its aerial coca eradication program in Biden’s first annual 2021 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: “The government of Colombia has committed to re-starting its aerial coca eradication program, which would be a most welcome development.”

Colombia halted the controversial spraying program in 2015. In 2018, Colombia’s then-new President Ivan Duque vowed to resume the program but has yet to restart the aerial spraying The country faced increasing pressure from the United States to restart the program. “You’re going to have to spray,” former US President Donald Trump told Duque at the White House during a March 2, 2020 meeting. Aerial fumigation had been a central component of Plan Colombia, the 2005 multi-billion dollar U.S. program to finance the Colombian government war on coca cultivation and their war on FARC, which was Colombia’s largest rebel group before being disbanded in 2017.

But in 2015, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that the spraying must end if the spraying of glyphosate was creating health problems. Also, in 2015, the World Health Organization found that glyphosate—also known as “Roundup”—was harmful to the environment and health, potentially causing cancer. In 2014, ending aerial fumigation was central to peace negotiations with FARC, with the Colombian government agreeing with FARC negotiators that it would transition away from aerial spraying. The Colombian government was also facing significant pressure from the rural poor, who were organizing national protests against aerial fumigation and other forms of forced eradication.

Read more …

Hmmm. Sounds pretty weak.

Bipartisan Australian MPs Meet With US Embassy About Julian Assange (SMH)

A cross-party delegation of Australian MPs has met with Washington’s top envoy in Canberra in their continued attempts to encourage the United States to drop its extradition attempts against the WikiLeaks founder. Nationals MP George Christensen, Independent Andrew Wilkie and Labor’s Julian Hill lobbied the US embassy’s charge d’affaires, Michael Goldman, on Monday morning, arguing the Australian citizen should be allowed to return home. The US Justice Department has appealed a British judge’s ruling that prevents Mr Assange from being extradited from London to face espionage charges. Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled last month that while the case against the Australian was sound, his fragile mental health put him at “substantial risk” of taking his own life in prison.

Supporters of Mr Assange had hoped that new US President Joe Biden’s administration would opt to drop the case, which the Obama administration had declined to charge over concerns that doing so would put press freedoms at risk. He is accused of helping former army private Chelsea Manning obtain and leak classified information on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr Wilkie, a whistleblowing intelligence officer-turned-MP, said the delegation raised numerous issues with Mr Goldman, including the increasing cross-party and public support for the US extradition of Mr Assange from the UK to be dropped. The trio argued the US was at risk of “reputational damage” over the inconsistency that WikiLeaks source, Chelsea Manning, had her sentence commuted while WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was still being pursued.

[..] “It was heartening that Mr Goldman agreed to the meeting and gave us a fair hearing,” Mr Wilkie said. “Hopefully our representations this morning impressed upon him the broad concern in Australia, and indeed right around the world, at the shocking injustice being meted out to Julian Assange. The US’s pursuit of Mr Assange is obviously not in the public interest and must be dropped.”

Read more …

 

 

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If the Queen moves four squares forward the Bishop can take her.

 

 

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Feb 192021
 
 February 19, 2021  Posted by at 9:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  53 Responses »


Ito Shinsui Snowy night 1923

 

Mutations Made Coronavirus 8 Times More Infectious Than Original (RT)
Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Make 3x Less Antibodies vs South African Strain (RT)
130 Countries Have Not Received A Single Covid Vaccine Dose (G.)
Florida Ranks 11th Lowest In Covid Deaths Per Capita Among Seniors (Blaze)
FBI, US Attorney In Brooklyn Probing Cuomo Admin On Nursing Homes (TU)
The Myth of Andrew Cuomo the Competent, Steady Statesman (Jac.)
De Blasio Says Threatening Phone Call To Lawmaker Is ‘Classic Andrew Cuomo’ (F.)
Texas Was “Seconds And Minutes” From Complete Disaster (ZH)
The Failure Of The Texas Power Grid Is Worse Than You Think (Fed.)
Beleaguered Texas Hospitals With No Water Evacuate Patients (Fox4)
The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth (RI)
Trump’s Former Fixer Cohen Interviewed By Manhattan DA’s Office (R.)
Biden Privately Tells Governors: Minimum Wage Hike Likely Isn’t Happening (Pol.)
Greece in Talks with the UK to Create Tourism Corridor (GR)
Why Vitamin D Probably Still Can’t Cure Covid-19 (Gideon)

 

 

 

 

Our daily good news segment.

Mutations Made Coronavirus 8 Times More Infectious Than Original (RT)

New research has found that a mutation in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, present in variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, can make the virus up to eight times more infectious than the original. The new research into the D614G mutation on the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2, present in all the latest variants currently plaguing healthcare systems the world over, was led by researchers at New York University, the New York Genome Center, and Mount Sinai. “Confirming that the mutation leads to more transmissibility may help explain, in part, why the virus has spread so rapidly over the past year,” said Neville Sanjana, assistant professor of biology at NYU, who added that the mutation has reached “near universal prevalence” among the coronavirus variants spreading across the globe.

The Mount Sinai researchers injected a virus with the D614G mutation into human lung, liver, and colon cells and compared it against cells from the original strain detected in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. They found a whopping eight-fold increase in transmissibility between the two strains, with the mutated spike protein making the virus more resilient to being split by other proteins in the human immune system, highlighting the importance of continued vaccine research and development to combat this hardier version. “…[O]ur experimental data was pretty unambiguous – the D614G variant infects human cells much more efficiently than the wild type,” said Zharko Daniloski, a postdoctoral fellow in Sanjana’s lab at NYU and the study’s co-first author.

Thankfully, however, the mutation has not yet been linked to more intense progression of Covid-19 leading to more severe forms of the disease or an increase in hospitalization. On the other hand, this does pose another issue: the current generation of vaccines were developed based on the original Wuhan-variant spike protein structure, highlighting the need for booster vaccines or even annual vaccination programs to halt the spread of the coronavirus for good.

Read more …

More good news.

Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Make 3x Less Antibodies vs South African Strain (RT)

Vaccines developed by US companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are producing fewer antibodies against the coronavirus mutation that has emerged in South Africa, according to studies reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. A lab study jointly conducted by Pfizer/BioNTech and researchers at the University of Texas in Galveston showed that the neutralization of the South African strain “was weaker by approximately two thirds,” but concluded that it was “unclear what effect” that would have on protection the vaccine provided from the disease. This is according to the letter by the researchers published on Wednesday in NEJM, the oldest US medical journal.

Another study conducted by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – whose head, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the Biden administration’s “coronavirus czar” at the moment – showed “reductions by a factor of 2.7” in the titers of neutralizing antibodies against the variant known as the B.1.351 – and by a factor of 6.4 when pitted against the full range of South African mutations. “Protection against the B.1.351 variant conferred by the mRNA-1273 vaccine remains to be determined,” says the letter from the Moderna/NIAID researchers, also published by NEJM on Wednesday. Moderna said it is working on booster shots if needed. Pfizer and BioNTech are also preparing to develop an update or a booster shot if needed, according to a statement cited by Bloomberg.

In a statement released in January, ahead of the study’s review, they said the performance of their vaccine was “slightly lower” against the South African strain when compared to other mutations, but that “small differences in viral neutralization observed in these studies are unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine.” South Africa has halted the vaccination with Astra Zeneca’s formula after a study showed it didn’t work as well in preventing Covid-19 caused by the mutant strain. President Cyril Ramaphosa took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday.

Read more …

We’re on a roll.

130 Countries Have Not Received A Single Covid Vaccine Dose (G.)

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has sharply criticised the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of Covid vaccines, saying 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations and demanding a global effort to get all people in every country vaccinated as soon as possible. The UN chief told a high-level meeting of the UN security council on Wednesday that 130 countries had not yet received a single dose of vaccine. “At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community,” said. Guterres called for an urgent global vaccination plan to bring together those with the power to ensure equitable vaccine distribution – scientists, vaccine producers and those who can fund the effort.

He called on the world’s major economic powers in the Group of 20 to establish an emergency taskforce to establish a plan and coordinate its implementation and financing. He said the taskforce should have the capacity “to mobilise the pharmaceutical companies and key industry and logistics actors”. Guterres said Friday’s meeting of the Group of Seven major industrialised nations – the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – “can create the momentum to mobilise the necessary financial resources”. Thirteen ministers addressed the virtual council meeting organised by Britain on improving access to Covid vaccinations, including in conflict areas.

[..] China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, criticised the growing “immunity divide” and called on the world to “come together to reject ‘vaccine nationalism,’ promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, and, in particular, make them accessible and affordable for developing countries, including those in conflict”. At the WHO’s request, he said, China will contribute 10m doses of vaccines to Covax “preliminarily”. China has donated vaccines to 53 developing countries including Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan and Palestine, which is a UN observer state. It has also exported vaccines to 22 countries, he said, adding that Beijing has launched research and development cooperation on Covid with more than 10 countries.

Read more …

Schools open. No mask mandate. Make of it what you will.

Florida Ranks 11th Lowest In Covid Deaths Per Capita Among Seniors (Blaze)

There’s a reason why the Biden regime is trying to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and create an illusion of a disproportionate viral crisis in the state. With no declared emergency restrictions in place at the state level since last September, the fact that Florida is doing better than the national average completely exposes the lie of lockdown and masks having any effect whatsoever on the fixed natural progression of the virus. Dr. Fauci is suggesting a novel scientific principle – that schools can’t reopen until Congress passes yet another “stimulus” bill. Yet in Florida, schools have been open all year, and the state’s excess deaths for 2020 rank the 16th lowest in the nation, according to a new analysis. What’s more, the Sunshine State, which is regarded as God’s waiting room for seniors, experienced the 11th lowest per capita rate of COVID deaths for seniors in 2020.

A new analysis conducted by RationalGround.com and exclusively obtained by TheBlaze collated CDC excess death data for 49 states (excluding North Carolina, which has incomplete data) and ranked the states from smallest to largest increase in excess deaths from 2019 to 2020. As we have seen in study after study, there is absolutely zero correlation between non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as business and school closures or mask mandates, and a lower rate of excess deaths. According to the CDC’s excess death table, there was a 16.9% national average increase in all-cause mortality in 2020 over 2019.


Given the loose way we count COVID deaths, it will take quite some time to sort out how many of those deaths are due to COVID and how many are due to the panic, anxiety, lockdowns, and missed care, but what is clear is that there is no correlation between the political measures taken by a state and fewer all-cause deaths. Florida, which is the third largest state, has the 16th lowest increase in all-cause deaths, and all of the states that had fewer excess deaths than Florida are much smaller and are mostly states with lower population density. California, on the other hand, ranked No. 40.

Read more …

I have no high hopes.

Did CNN just ban one Cuomo from interviewing the other?

FBI, US Attorney In Brooklyn Probing Cuomo Admin On Nursing Homes (TU)

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus task force in its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, the Times Union has learned. The probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not authorized to comment publicly. Last March, as the virus began spreading in New York, Cuomo issued a news release listing the 13 initial members of his coronavirus task force, which has been headed by Linda Lacewell, an attorney and former chief of staff for Cuomo.

Lacewell is the superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services. Other task force members include state health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and Beth Garvey, counsel to the governor. “As we publicly said, DOJ (Department of Justice) has been looking into this for months,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.” Azzopardi did not disclose whether any members of the administration have been interviewed or if they have been served with any subpoenas. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, on Wednesday afternoon said he could not “confirm or deny” whether the office has initiated an investigation.

Nearly three weeks after the governor’s task force was announced last year, the state health department issued an order directing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that they must accept residents who were being discharged from hospitals even if they were still testing positive for the infectious disease, as long as they were able to care for them properly. That directive, which was rescinded less than two months later, has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism directed at Cuomo’s administration, including allegations that the order — which the governor said was based on federal guidance — had contributed to the high number of fatalities of nursing home residents in New York. That assertion was largely dismissed in a report by the Department of Health that was released in July.

Read more …

“Even if Cuomo never sinks low enough to lose reelection next year — given his enormous war chest and New York’s horrific campaign finance laws, it’s still an unlikely scenario..”

The Myth of Andrew Cuomo the Competent, Steady Statesman (Jac.)

Even if Cuomo never sinks low enough to lose reelection next year — given his enormous war chest and New York’s horrific campaign finance laws, it’s still an unlikely scenario — he will never again be the governor feted by Ellen and celebrated by self-described “Cuomosexuals.” He’s not getting another Emmy. His moment is over. What happened? In some sense, this has been slow-building. For months, more and more people have been waking up to the fact that the popular, media-created conception of Cuomo was nonsensical. More than 45,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York State, the second highest absolute death toll in America, just trailing California. (California is more than twice as large, so New York maintains a far higher rate of death.)

Cuomo, like Trump, downplayed the pandemic in its earliest days and issued a shutdown order for New York far too late, defying the opinions of experts and other elected officials. It was the nursing home issue, however, and the subsequently botched vaccine rollout that began to trigger a much-deserved reevaluation of his legacy, which is one of arrogance, secrecy, and failure. Last March, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients who had been discharged from hospitals instead of directing them to large temporary facilities that had a surplus of beds. This decision likely contributed to outbreaks in nursing homes, which the state oversees.

Unlike most other states in America, if not all of them, Cuomo’s New York decided to keep a highly skewed count of nursing home deaths, only tallying those who died while physically in facilities. If you were a nursing home resident who got infected in a home, became sick there, and were transferred to a hospital dying, you were not a part of the official Department of Health tally. Confirming the suspicions of health care experts and many journalists, the state attorney general revealed in a January report that the Department of Health had undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent. Shortly after, Cuomo was forced to revise the tally far higher, increasing it by more than 60 percent.

Last week, it was revealed that the Cuomo administration had purposefully withheld nursing home data from lawmakers for months out of fear the Department of Justice, under Donald Trump, would investigate. Several legislators have contemplated calling for Cuomo’s impeachment. In a rage, Cuomo called up a leftist assembly member from Queens, Ron Kim, and threatened to “destroy” his career. This is just the news that has grabbed the most headlines. Cuomo is a Clintonian Democrat with a lust for austerity, and he has been quietly slashing and burning New York’s social safety net since the pandemic arrived last year. The City University of New York, which educates a largely working-class and nonwhite student body, has faced severe budget cuts, as have local public schools and social services.

Read more …

The more I read about Cuomo, the more he resembles a character in a Scorsese movie.

De Blasio Says Threatening Phone Call To Lawmaker Is ‘Classic Andrew Cuomo’ (F.)

Compounding a month of bad press for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning that he believes the state lawmakers who claimed Cuomo threatened to “destroy” his career after he publicly criticized his administration’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes. De Blasio—who has had a publicly contentious relationship with the governor since the start of the coronavirus pandemic—painted Cuomo as a bully during a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The mayor said he believes New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim’s account of the phone call because “a lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls.”

“It’s a sad thing to say … but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo,” said de Blasio, explaining he’s heard complaints like Kim’s “many, many times.” Representatives for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes, though the governor’s Senior Advisor Richard Azzopardi released a statement accusing Kim of “lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo.” “At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup,’” said Azzopardi, describing a “long, hostile” relationship between the two men. The comments come a day after revelations that Cuomo’s handling of nursing home death data is now under federal investigation.

“The bullying is nothing new,” said de Blasio. “I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad. No public servant, no person who is telling the truth should be treated that way. But, the threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment … Many, many times I’ve heard that.” Kim said he received an angry phone call from the governor last week after he publicly accused Cuomo of obstructing justice by withholding data on nursing home deaths. According to Kim, Cuomo threatened that he could “destroy” him if he did not help “cover up” comments made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, who stirred controversy earlier this month by suggesting the state had purposefully delayed releasing the full Covid-19 death toll in long-term care facilities because of concerns about a potential federal investigation.

Read more …

Something tells me you should go talk to the old time engineers who’ve worked on the grid all their lives. That’s where the stories are, not in politics.

Texas Was “Seconds And Minutes” From Complete Disaster (ZH)

As natural gas fired plants, utility scale wind power and coal plants tripped offline due to the extreme cold brought by the winter storm, the amount of power supplied to the grid to be distributed across the state fell rapidly. At the same time, demand was increasing as consumers and businesses turned up the heat and stayed inside to avoid the weather. “It needed to be addressed immediately,” said Bill Magness, president of ERCOT. “It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system.” With energy prices exploding to record highs, and with demand soaring, grid operators had to “act quickly” to cut the amount of power distributed, Magness said, because if they had waited, “then what happens in that next minute might be that three more [power generation] units come offline, and then you’re sunk.”

Magness said on Wednesday that if operators had not acted in that moment, the state could have suffered blackouts that “could have occurred for months,” and left Texas in an “indeterminately long” crisis. In other words, the millions of households left without power – in some cases for days – were sacrificing for the greater good. So by manually shutting down entire parts of the grid, ERCOT avoided the worst case scenario: one where demand for power overwhelms the supply of power generation available on the grid, causing equipment to catch fire, substations to blow and power lines to go down.

If the grid had gone totally offline, the physical damage to power infrastructure from overwhelming the grid would take months to repair, said Bernadette Johnson, senior vice president of power and renewables at Enverus, an oil and gas software and information company headquartered in Austin. “As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could’ve been in blackout,” she said. “ERCOT is getting a lot of heat, but the fact that it wasn’t worse is because of those grid operators.” If that had occurred, even as power generators recovered from the cold, ERCOT would have been unable to quickly reconnect them back to the grid, Johnson said.

And since nobody can disprove a negative, one just has to take them at their word that dozens of people died so that millions more could live… or something. Grid operators would have needed to slowly and carefully bring generators and customers back online, all the while taking care to not to cause more damage to the grid. It’s a delicate process, Johnson explained, because each part of the puzzle — the generators producing power, the transmission lines that move the power and the customers that use it — must be carefully managed. “It has to balance constantly,” she said. “Once a grid goes down, it’s hard to bring it back online. If you bring on too many customers, then you have another outage.”

Read more …

A disaster long in the making.

The Failure Of The Texas Power Grid Is Worse Than You Think (Fed.)

[..] Yes, some coal plants closed because of freezing temperatures and some natural gas pipelines froze. But as Jason Isaac of the Texas Public Policy Foundation explains in our pages today, the main problem with the Texas power grid isn’t that renewables failed or that fossil fuels failed. It’s that the grid itself has been made unstable by state and federal subsidies that distort the energy market and prevent the buildup of reliable power generation. Subsidies for renewables and fossil fuels have been around for a long time in Texas, supported by both Democrats and Republicans. For as much as Texas has a reputation as a deep-red oil and gas state, it was under Republican Gov. Rick Perry that billions were spent on wind turbines and transmission lines in West Texas, spurred on by massive tax credits for wind producers.

The same thing happened at the federal level when George W. Bush was governor of the state. In the months to come, there will be lengthy and bitter debates about who was responsible for this fiasco. The obvious partisan arguments are already out in the open. If any actual reforms come out of these debates, they will have to begin with an acknowledgment that the way things have been done for decades in Texas has not worked. That much, at least, is now painfully undeniable. For example, goosing the wind and solar industries with billions in tax credits in a state that produces almost a third of America’s fossil fuel energy was perhaps unwise and imprudent.

In hindsight, it looks like cronyism. So do the subsidies for fossil fuels, even if they are not as extravagant as subsidies for renewables. Maybe all of that was a bad idea from the beginning, and maybe it’s time to cut it out. Hardship like what Texas is going through right now can bring clarity. And in the teeth of this winter storm, the entire energy industry, with its high-powered lobbyists and its billions in taxpayer subsidies, is beginning to look like every other elite institution in America: a corrupt and parasitic enterprise whose failures come at the expense of ordinary Americans—in this case, people who are now trying to stay alive in their own homes.

Read more …

“Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity..”

Beleaguered Texas Hospitals With No Water Evacuate Patients (Fox4)

After a deadly blast of winter weather overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions of Texans without power, hospitals in the state are also facing the additional stress of water shortages, crowded emergency rooms and even being forced to evacuate patients. Record-low temperatures damaged infrastructure and pipes, seriously jeopardizing drinking water systems in the Lone Star state. Authorities in Texas ordered 7 million people — a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it. Some hospitals, already contending with COVID-19 patients and vaccine distribution, were also impacted by the winter storm’s havoc on state power grids and utilities. In Austin, hospitals dealt with a loss in water pressure and heat.

St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said Wednesday night that it had lost water pressure from the City of Austin. Since water feeds the facility’s boiler, the hospital was also losing heat. Hospital officials were working to evacuate some patients to other area facilities and said they were distributing bottles and jugs of water to patients and employees. Officials added that they were working with the city to secure portable toilets. “Because this is a statewide emergency situation that is also impacting other hospitals within the Austin area, no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients,” said David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

In southwest Austin, officials with Ascension Seton Southwest Hospital said they too were facing intermittent issues with water pressure, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The hospital was rescheduling elective surgeries to preserve bed capacity and personnel as a result. At Houston Methodist, two of its community hospitals did not have running water but still treated patients, with most non-emergency surgeries and procedures canceled for Thursday and possibly Friday, spokeswoman Gale Smith told the Associated Press. Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity,” Smith said. She added that pipes had burst in Methodist’s hospitals but were being repaired as they happened.

Read more …

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth (RI)

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell. This is the slippery slope that leads to the end of free speech as we once knew it. In a world increasingly automated and filtered through the lens of artificial intelligence, we are finding ourselves at the mercy of inflexible algorithms that dictate the boundaries of our liberties. Once artificial intelligence becomes a fully integrated part of the government bureaucracy, there will be little recourse: we will be subject to the intransigent judgments of techno-rulers. This is how it starts. Martin Niemöller’s warning about the widening net that ensnares us all still applies.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” In our case, however, it started with the censors who went after extremists spouting so-called “hate speech,” and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shamed for being perceived as politically incorrect.

Then the internet censors got involved and went after extremists spouting “disinformation” about stolen elections, the Holocaust, and Hunter Biden, and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shunned for appearing to disagree with the majority. By the time the techno-censors went after extremists spouting “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, the censors had developed a system and strategy for silencing the nonconformists. Still, few spoke out. Eventually, “we the people” will be the ones in the crosshairs.At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes “extremism, “we the people” might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other. When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense.

Read more …

The MSM will be pushing this for all they’re worth.

Trump’s Former Fixer Cohen Interviewed By Manhattan DA’s Office (R.)

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a newly hired high-profile litigator interviewed Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Thursday, as part of a criminal probe of the former president’s business dealings, said two people familiar with the investigation. The interview came after Mark Pomerantz, who has extensive experience in white-collar and organized crime cases, joined District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s team investigating the Trump family business. Pomerantz started on Feb. 2 as special assistant district attorney, said Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance. Pomerantz’s hiring is part of a flurry of recent activity in Vance’s investigation, including the issuance in recent days of roughly a dozen new subpoenas, according to the sources.

One of those went to Ladder Capital Finance LLC, a major creditor used by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, to finance the former president’s commercial real estate holdings, the sources said. Vance’s office has also conducted interviews with Ladder’s staff, one source familiar with the matter said. The district attorney’s office has said little publicly about the probe, but noted in court filings that it was focused on “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including alleged falsification of records, and insurance and tax fraud. It is the only known criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices.

Separately, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits. Ladder issued the loans on several of Trump’s big commercial holdings, including a $160 million mortgage on the Trump Building, a skyscraper in Manhattan’s financial district.

Read more …

He knew this a long time ago. But dangling the sausage gets votes.

Biden Privately Tells Governors: Minimum Wage Hike Likely Isn’t Happening (Pol.)

When Joe Biden met with a group of mayors and governors last week he bluntly told them to get ready for a legislative defeat: his proposed minimum wage hike was unlikely to happen, he said, at least in the near term. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group, according to a person in the room. “I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it.” The comments, which were confirmed by two other people familiar with the conversation, were the furthest Biden has gone in conceding the coming axing of the $15-an-hour minimum wage provision from his first major legislative package.


And they suggest that the president is more inclined to manage the fallout of it not being included than to pursue long-shot, political-capital consuming efforts to fight for its insertion. Sitting in the Oval Office with Republican and Democratic elected officials last Friday to advocate for his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, he didn’t hide his skepticism. “Doesn’t look like we can do it,” he said of the minimum wage hike. For weeks now, the White House has been trying to manage expectations on the feasibility of advancing a $15-an-hour minimum wage provision through a broader “rescue” package. Biden first suggested it might not make it into the final Covid relief bill in an interview with CBS prior to the Super Bowl, noting his belief that the Senate parliamentarian would determine it did not jibe with budgetary rules that allow a bill to pass with just 51 votes in the Senate.

Read more …

I still wonder what the legal status is of requiring people be vaccinated with a vaccine whose producer says it doesn’t prevent the spread of the virus. And then on the basis of that, allowing them into your country without testing etc., where they can spread the virus.

If you would let people fly in to an island, and they would stay there, that’s one thing. You could monitor them, trace them. But Greek tourism is based on people traveling a lot, island-hopping etc.

Greece in Talks with the UK to Create Tourism Corridor (GR)

Soon, vaccinated British citizens may be able to travel to Greece without any restrictions whatsoever, according to Greek Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis. Greece has entered into preliminary discussions with the UK regarding tourism, Theoharis stated, and may allow vaccinated travelers from the UK into the country this summer without being tested for the coronavirus first. Inoculated tourists may also be able to avoid Greece’s mandatory seven-day quarantine once they arrive in the country. Those who have been vaccinated and hope to enter Greece may have to present a vaccine certificate, or vaccine passport, in order to skip the strict anti-virus measures currently in place in the country.

Currently, all those entering Greece must present a negative PCR test for the coronavirus, within 72 hours of their flight, before entry is allowed. In addition to the PCR test, visitors from the UK must also now take a rapid test upon arrival to Greece. Employing nearly one in five Greeks, tourism is one of the most important sectors of the country’s economy. Greece welcomes around 4 million visitors from the UK each year. The Mediterranean country hopes that opening up a tourist corridor with the UK for the summer will bring a much-needed boost to Greece’s economy, which has suffered a great deal due to travel restrictions and strict anti-virus measures. Greek tourism took a giant plunge in the third quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

In total, in the first nine months of last year, the accommodation sector had revenues of only 1.89 billion euros, when last year in the corresponding period revenues were 6.15 billion euros — representing a staggering loss of 4.26 billion euros. When discussing the outlook for Greece’s tourism sector in the summer of 2021, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated to Reuters: “I am a realist, but I am also cautiously optimistic that we will do much better than last year.” The potential deal with the UK may well add to Mitsotakis’ optimism for a successful tourist season this year. The country has already struck a deal with Israel, which will allow vaccinated travelers from the Mediterranean country to enter Greece without coronavirus restrictions.

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Saved this for last because I would like some comments. Did anyone ever state vit. D was a cure for Covid? We sure did not. This epidemiologist appears to take studies on giving people already in hospital large doses of vit. D, to claim it’s useless. This is exactly how HCQ was discredited. But do chime in.

Why Vitamin D Probably Still Can’t Cure Covid-19 (Gideon)

There are many scientific questions that have come up during the pandemic. We’ve investigated the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, looked into school closures, and even checked to see whether spectacles could protect you from getting Covid-19 (the jury is still out on that one). But perhaps the most consistent question that has been asked, over and over again, is whether vitamin D supplements can treat coronavirus effectively. The allure is understandable — vitamin D is cheap, relatively safe, and there’s some evidence that it can help with the common cold, which is often caused by coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. If it worked, it could make an enormous difference in the lives of people with Covid-19 and at a very low cost.

Sadly, this has inspired endless shoddy studies that have meant that the question of whether vitamin D works for Covid-19 wasn’t answered very well (or at all) the last time I wrote about it in October 2020. This makes the recent headlines all the more understandable. A study was put up on SSRN — a preprint server run by The Lancet — a few weeks ago that purported to show a 60% decrease in mortality for people with Covid-19 who were given calcifediol (a metabolite of vitamin D) compared to a control group given treatment as usual. With such impressive-sounding results, the study soon went viral on Twitter and has been reported in news outlets around the world. If supplements really could prevent 60% of Covid-19 deaths, it would be a research finding that could literally change the course of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, as with most of the previous research, the evidence is much shakier than you might expect given the glowing headlines. Even more than a year into all of this, we still don’t really know if vitamin D does anything for Covid-19 at all.

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#Perseverance has captured the first images of life on Mars.

 

 

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Dec 112020
 


Pierre Bonnard Nude in an Interior c1935

 

“We Hadn’t Really Thought Through the Economic Impacts” – Melinda Gates (AIER)
Coronavirus Fact-Check #9: Is The Vaccine Safe? (OffG)
Sidney Powell Plans to Appeal Dismissal of Arizona Election Lawsuit (ET)
Judge Gives Benson OK To Intervene Antrim County Election Case (DN)
AG Barr Concealed Hunter Biden Probes From Public During Election (ZH)
Sen. Grassley Blasts MSM Over Hunter Biden Hypocrisy (ZH)
Sen. Cotton: Circumstances Warrant Special Counsel To Probe Hunter Biden (JTN)
Biden Taps Susan Rice For Top White House Domestic Policy Job (Pol.)
Is the Media Burying The Swalwell Story? (Turley)
Investigators Delve Into Suspected Chinese Spy Ties With Swalwell Staff (JTN)
Dianne Feinstein ‘Seriously Struggling’ With Cognitive Decline (NYP)
Sexual Misconduct Shakes FBI’s Senior Ranks (AP)
The “Great Reset” and Plans for a Global War on Savings (Lacalle)
Greece Is Setting Itself Up For Another Financial Crisis (Mises)
US Hits Search & Destroy Against The New Silk Roads (Escobar)
Australia Sabotaged Its Own Interests in China Relations (CN)

 

 

 

 

Jim Jordan

 

 

“..communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

“We Hadn’t Really Thought Through the Economic Impacts” ~ Melinda Gates (AIER)

In a wide-ranging interview in the New York Times, Melinda Gates made the following remarkable statement: “What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts.” A cynic might observe that one is disinclined to think much about matters than do not affect one personally. It’s a maddening statement, to be sure, as if “economics” is somehow a peripheral concern to the rest of human life and public health. The larger context of the interview reveals the statement to be even more confused. She is somehow under the impression that it is the pandemic and not the lockdowns that are the cause of the economic devastation that includes perhaps 30% of restaurants going under, among many other terrible effects.

She doesn’t say that outright but, like many articles in the mainstream press over this year, she very carefully crafts her words to avoid the crucial subject of lockdowns as the primary cause of economic disaster. It’s possible that she actually believes this virus is what tanked the world economy on its own but that is a completely unsustainable proposition. Further, her comments provide a perfect illustration of the core problem all along: most of the people who have been advocating lockdowns in fact have no actual experience in managing pandemics. To many of these, Covid-19 became their new playground to try out an unprecedented experiment in social and economic management: shutting down travel, businesses, schools, churches, and issuing stay-at-home orders that smack of totalitarian impositions. Here is what she says:

“You can project out and think about what a pandemic might be like or look like, but until you live through it, it’s pretty hard to know what the reality will be like. So I think we predicted quite well that, depending on what the disease was, it could spread very, very, very quickly. The spread did not surprise us. What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts. What happens when you have a pandemic that’s running rampant in populations all over the world? The fact that we would all be home, and working from home if we were lucky enough to do that. That was a piece that I think we hadn’t really prepared for.”

There are plenty of specialists who have lived through pandemics in the past and managed them by maintaining essential social and economic functioning. A major case in point is Donald A. Henderson, who as head of the World Health Organization is given primary credit for the eradication of smallpox. He wrote as follows in 2006: “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”

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Pfizer (and the producers of other vaccines), are immune from civil liability.

Coronavirus Fact-Check #9: Is The Vaccine Safe? (OffG)

There are dozens of articles all over the mainstream reassuring us that the brand new Sars-Cov-2 vaccine is safe. In the UK the vaccine rolled out is being hailed as “V Day”, in a shameless attempt to draw a parallel with World War II. Matt Hancock went on Good Morning Britain and attempted to “cry”. On the other side of that coin, many experts in the field have vociferously called for all vaccine trials to be put on halt, some medical researchers are questioning the data and others counsel people to refuse the vaccine under any and all circumstances. So – is the vaccine safe? The only rational answer is “we don’t know”. It’s certainly true some people who have received it have experienced unexpected side effects.

It was recently revealed that 4 people involved in the US-based trial suffered partial facial paralysis. In the UK, two NHS staff who have received the vaccine suffered allergic anaphylactoid reactions, as a result the NHS is now not recommending the vaccine for anyone who “suffers from allergies”. They don’t know what caused the reaction, and as far as we know so far, the people involved were not allergic to anything in the vaccine. It seems it’s not about being allergic to the vaccine, so much as the vaccine potentially causing problems for anyone with a sensitive or dysfunctional immune system. It’s essentially recommended that no one who is allergic to anything, ie. other food or medication, should have the jab. We’ve already had “explainers” appearing the media, saying vaccine allergic reactions are “rare and shortlived”.

To be clear, as of December 10th, the vaccine either has never been tested on, or is not recommended for:
• People under sixteen years of age.
• Pregnant women (or women intending to become pregnant in the near future).
• People with serious co-morbidities.
• People already taking other medications.
• People who have allergies.
So the official line already cedes that the vaccine may be harmful to some or all of those people.

Even on the fully-grown and totally healthy adults it was tested on, obviously, there has not been enough time to do any kind of long term studies on possible side-effects or complications It usually takes 5-10 years to fully develop and test a vaccine, where as this has been rushed out in less than 10 months. On top of that, of course, we have the fact all the vaccine producers have campaigned for – and won – total legal immunity in the UK, US and other nations around the world. In the event the vaccine does cause harm, Pfizer (and the producers of other vaccines), are immune from civil liability. Which means that, just like us, the producers themselves are well-aware the new vaccines might not be safe, and don’t want a repeat of 2009, when a rushed-out flu vaccine resulted in children suffering life-long complications and receiving millions in damages. In the final analysis, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Do you feel safer taking an untested vaccine, or risking getting a virus with a survival rate of over 99%?

Rob Swanda

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Let the dice roll. If they come up zero, so be it. But let them roll.

Sidney Powell Plans to Appeal Dismissal of Arizona Election Lawsuit (ET)

The legal team led by attorney Sidney Powell plans to appeal the dismissal of an Arizona election lawsuit by an Obama-appointed federal judge on Dec. 9. Powell’s Arizona co-counsel Alex Kolodin told The Epoch Times in an interview that his team plans to fast-track the case to the Supreme Court and will file a petition for appeal in the coming days. The Arizona case, filed on Dec. 2 by former federal prosecutor Powell on behalf of the state’s 11 Republican electors and others, alleged that manipulation of election software and other fraud in the state resulted in violations of the U.S. Constitution and state election laws. The lawsuit also claimed that more than 412,000 votes were cast illegally in the state’s 2020 general election.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Gov. Doug Ducey were named as defendants in the case, which highlighted what it said was an “especially egregious range of conduct” in Arizona’s Maricopa County, and other counties using Dominion Systems. The lawsuit alleges that Dominion Voting Systems violated election laws by having their machines connected to the internet. The case is supported by a redacted affidavit from a former electronic intelligence analyst, alleging that the voting system software was accessed by agents from China and Iran. Powell’s team also filed a temporary restraining order seeking to immediately block Ducey from delivering the certified election results to the Electoral College while the court hears the case. Arizona certified its presidential election results on Nov. 30.

Judge Diane Humetewa threw out the lawsuit on Dec. 9, saying that its allegations “are sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence” and that it sought extraordinary relief. “If granted, millions of Arizonans who exercised their individual right to vote in the 2020 General Election would be utterly disenfranchised,” Humetewa wrote. In dismissing Powell’s case, Humetewa said the lawsuit doesn’t contain a “plausible” allegation that Dominion Voting Systems voting machines were hacked in the state during the Nov. 3 election, however, she described the team’s allegations of fraud as “conceivable.” The proposed Trump electors “have not moved the needle for their fraud theory from conceivable to plausible,” the federal judge said. Kolodin told The Epoch Times that the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party granted his team approval to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, and that they plan to soon file a petition for a writ of certiorari asking for the case to be heard.

A petition for a writ of certiorari is a document that a losing party files with the Supreme Court asking it to review the lower court’s decision on its merits. The provision would request from the Supreme Court an emergency transfer and would allow the case to be heard without waiting for a decision from the U.S. Courts of Appeals. The Supreme Court is usually not under any obligation to hear such cases unless the case could have national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts, or could have precedential value. “I thought she [Humetewa] took the case very seriously. She treated it very professionally, and she was very fair, but I disagree with her decision,” Kolodin said. “My clients disagree with her decision, and we’ve always known that this will ultimately be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Greg Kelly

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From a local perspective.

Judge Gives Benson OK To Intervene Antrim County Election Case (DN)

A Northern Michigan judge granted Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson permission to intervene in a case questioning results in Antrim County and the security of tabulators used there on Nov. 3. Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ruled Thursday that Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office could intervene on behalf of Benson, who had argued she had supervisory control over the Antrim County clerk, had an interest in any audit discussions the case may raise and was party to the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The Secretary of State’s office is concerned particularly with forensic imaging performed on Antrim County’s 22 Dominion tabulators earlier this week by a Village of Central Lake resident and Allied Security Operations Group, said Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast.

“We’d like to know more about what was obtained, what the intent is for the use of the images obtained,” Meingast said, noting the disclosure of some elements of the tabulators could compromise their security in future elections. Elsenheimer, a Republican former lawmaker and member of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, granted Meingast’s request but warned the case would proceed in haste. “I intend to move this matter quickly, aggressively,” Elsenheimer said. Benson shouldn’t be allowed to intervene because she had missed the opportunity to do so earlier and did not have direct involvement in local elections, said Matthew DePerno, a lawyer for Antrim County resident William Bailey. In fact, a state Court of Claims judge earlier this month dismissed a case against Benson on those grounds, DePerno said.

“The court concluded there was no relief to be granted because elections are local and run by local officials,” he said. DePerno said the investigation is ongoing and data are being reviewed. But based on what had been reviewed so far, Bailey would move to decertify the Antrim County certification and push the issue to the GOP-led Legislature, he said. “We think there are serious issues, and we’re preparing right now a motion to seek relief from the court from the protective order,” DePerno said. Elsenheimer last week granted Bailey’s request to take take forensic images of 22 tabulators and review those along with flash drives, software and a “master tabulator” that the county said does not exist. Bailey and members of the Allied Securities Operation Group spent about eight hours on Sunday at county offices obtaining the material.

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Money laundering is a serious crime.

AG Barr Concealed Hunter Biden Probes From Public During Election (ZH)

Attorney General William Barr knew about several investigations into Hunter Biden since at least this spring – and “worked to avoid their public disclosure during the heated election campaign,” according to the Wall Street Journal. According to ‘a person familiar with the matter,’ Barr “staved off pressure from Republicans in Congress for information into the investigations,” while President Trump and his allies pressured Barr into pursuing Joe and Hunter Biden. This week, Hunter Biden revealed the existence of one of the investigations after federal investigators served him with a subpoena seeking detailed financial information in connection with a criminal tax investigation by the Delaware US attorney’s office. The next day, CNN and Politico confirmed that the probe was wider than that, and covered potential money laundering and bribery in probes that date back to 2018, according to ‘people familiar with the matter.’ According to the report, none of the investigations implicate Joe Biden.

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“It shouldn’t take subpoenas and confirmation from Hunter Biden himself to get the rest of the press to pay attention.”

Sen. Grassley Blasts MSM Over Hunter Biden Hypocrisy (ZH)

Chuck Grassley is one pissed off Senator. After the Iowa Republican and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) produced a long-awaited Senate report which concluded that Hunter Biden’s financial dealings with Ukrainian, Chinese and Russian businesses created “criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns” concerning everything from sex-trafficking to bribery – the MSM panned it as a partisan attack on a presidential candidate’s son. Now that Hunter has admitted he’s under investigation for tax fraud (and, as Politico and CNN have added, money laundering and accepting bribes), Grassley is having the last laugh. In Thursday remarks on the Senate Floor, Grassley blasted the media after months of covering for the Bidens.


“For over a year, Senator Johnson and I investigated the Biden financial family dealings,” said Grassley, adding “We found that they engaged in potential criminal financial deals across the globe, including China, which created counterintelligence concerns.” Grassley then turned his attention to the MSM, saying “Those same liberal outlets that disparaged our investigation now report that Hunter Biden’s financial deals in China raise counterintelligence concerns.” He went on to say that the media should have been covering concerns raised by Republicans instead of covering them up. “So you can understand why I think it’s very outrageous that the fourth estate would choose to ignore facts when they are uncovered by Republicans,” Grassley continued. “It shouldn’t take subpoenas and confirmation from Hunter Biden himself to get the rest of the press to pay attention.”

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Would have to happen within 5 weeks or so. Just like the Special Counsel for election irregularities. Not sure I can see Barr comply.

Sen. Cotton: Circumstances Warrant Special Counsel To Probe Hunter Biden (JTN)

Sen. Tom Cotton indicated during an interview Thursday on Fox News that he believes circumstances warrant a special counsel to investigate issues pertaining to Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Hunter Biden issued a statement Wednesday which noted that the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware is looking into his “tax affairs.” “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” the statement said. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”

“I know the Biden campaign released details of a tax fraud investigation in Wilmington,” said Cotton during the Fox News interview. “I think that was just to show maybe the least damaging part of the investigation.” “There’s allegations of securities fraud and money laundering related to Hunter Biden’s Chinese businesses, a crooked hospital deal with Jim Biden, Joe Biden’s brother, out in western Pennsylvania. These investigations span multiple jurisdictions,” Cotton said, remarking that in the event that Joe Biden becomes the nation’s next president, “those prosecutors are in line to be fired next month. If there were ever circumstances that create a conflict of interest and called for a special counsel, I think those circumstances are present here.”

The Arkansas Republican said that the Biden family has leveraged Joe Biden’s government posts for their benefit in the past and would continue to do so if Biden serves as president. “Look, the Biden family has been trading on Joe Biden’s public office for 50 years. Valerie Biden Owens, his sister, and Jim Biden, his brother, and Hunter Biden his son,” he said. “Do we really think that that will change if Joe Biden becomes president, the highest office in the land?”

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Predictable and terrible. She should be under investigation for Russiagate, not occupy some top job.

Biden Taps Susan Rice For Top White House Domestic Policy Job (Pol.)

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice to run the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to people familiar with the decision.Rice, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was vetted to serve as Biden’s vice president and was a contender to be secretary of State, a position that went to Antony Blinken. Democrats had concerns about Rice’s ability to get confirmed in a Republican-controlled Senate, and the director of the Domestic Policy Council is not a Senate-confirmed position. The Biden team had been looking to find a high-profile role for Rice, but the top domestic policy job comes as a surprise given her expertise and experience in foreign policy.

[..] In her position, Rice, 56, will play a large role in implementing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, a wide-ranging set of policy proposals that would invest trillions of dollars in American infrastructure and manufacturing, clean energy, caregiving, education and racial equity.A person familiar with Biden’s thinking said he chose Rice for the role because of her deep experience in crisis management and interagency processes. The person said Biden does not see foreign, economic and diplomatic realms as separate and discrete and her deep knowledge of how the federal government works will be an asset to implementing his domestic policy agenda.

Biden officially announced Rice’s appointment Thursday morning, along with his nominations of Marcia Fudge to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary, Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative and Denis McDonough as secretary of Veterans Affairs. “The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans,” Biden said in a statement. Rice’s decision to take the domestic policy job also signals that she still harbors political ambitions. She floated the possibility of running for Senate in Maine against Susan Collins and was a finalist to serve as Biden’s running mate.

The top domestic policy job will fill out her foreign policy-heavy resume. Though Rice’s job does not require Senate confirmation, the Biden administration will need the support of Republicans to implement its far-reaching domestic policy agenda. Rice, however, has long been the target of the GOP because of he comments after the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi and unmasking requests related to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and foreign interference. Rice has never been charged with doing anything improper, but she has been the subject of withering criticism from Republicans, which could complicate the administration’s efforts to pass policies in Congress.

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The media has buried so many stories this year, who would notice another one?

Is the Media Burying The Swalwell Story? (Turley)

We often discuss media coverage and accuracy on developing legal and political controversies. Much of this discussion recently has focused on the bias shown by the media in the last four years. I have worked for the media as a legal analyst and columnist for years, but I have never before seen this raw and open bias in major media. At the same time, academics are rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. This morning, Fox News called out all of the networks for zero coverage of the bombshell story from Axios that Rep. Eric Swalwell may have had a close relationship with a suspected Chinese spy who fled to China a few years ago. Many of us were struck by the lack of coverage, particularly given the position of Swalwell on the House Intelligence Committee and his former bid for the presidency.

It was particularly striking when the media is now reluctantly covering the Hunter Biden story after a long blackout before the election. Yet, the most stark comparison is with the exhaustive coverage given the highly analogous story involving an alleged spy, Maria Butina, who had an affair with a high-ranking figure in the National Rifle Association. Swalwell is alleged to have had a close relationship with Chinese national, Fang Fang or Christine Fang, who not only raised money for him but placed at least one intern in Swalwell’s congressional office, according to Axios. Bizarrely, Swalwell has refused to confirm or deny that he had an intimate relationship with his office claiming that such an answer could compromise classified information. Even that ridiculous comment did not prompt ABC, NBC, or CBS to cover the story.

Obviously, Fang and the Chinese already know if she had a sexual relationship with Swalwell. The only people in the dark are the voters. Swalwell himself explained why this is news. The congressman was one of the most vocal voices calling out a June 2016 meeting that President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., with Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was accused of being an asset for the Russian government. Swalwell declared on MSNBC in January 2019: “Stated plainly, the President’s son met with a Russian spy. We now have the best evidence of that in our minority report the Democrats put out that Ms. Veselnitskaya was going all over the world and bumping into Dana Rohrabacher, which is a sign of a spy, someone who tries to create a coincidence encounter, and now we know that she was working at the behest of the Russian government.”

Not even the utter hypocrisy of Swalwell’s position or the lunacy of his classification claim was enough to generate minimal coverage. There is also no interest in Swalwell remaining on the intelligence committee given his ill-considered relationship.

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He’s still on the House Intelligence Committee.

Investigators Delve Into Suspected Chinese Spy Ties With Swalwell Staff (JTN)

The investigation into suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang’s relationship with Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell included monitoring her activities with others in the California congressman’s office, according to security authorities. “There were concerns about who else in his office she was close to,” one intelligence official told Just the News. “Who could give her information or help her achieve her goals?” These concerns applied overall to people who worked for Fang’s suspected targets, the official said. “These were deeply cast nets,” the official said. The woman, also known as Fang Fang, reportedly infiltrated the inner circles of several U.S. politicians, mainly targeting those based in California. She is believed to have worked for years under a Communist Chinese spy boss in California, and also to have managed her own line of sub-agents, the official confirmed.


“There was considerable interest in learning who those agents were, and where they worked,” the official said. Swalwell would be a prime target for foreign spies because he sits on the House Intelligence Committee — where he remains so far — despite the recent revelations about his dealings with Fang. According to a report from Axios, Fang began her relationship with Swalwell early in his political career, while he was a city council member in Dublin, California. She helped raise funds for him, and came to know his family members in some capacity. In 2015, Fang fled the U.S. while the FBI was investigating her overall activities. Although Fang has not been charged with espionage, her behavior fits a suspicious pattern, according to one expert. “Christine Fang has left the U.S.,” said author Gordon Chang, who has studied China extensively. “She apparently left abruptly, which is an indication that she was working with Chinese intelligence.”

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Set term limit, set age-limit. Easy.

Dianne Feinstein ‘Seriously Struggling’ With Cognitive Decline (NYP)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate at age 87 and the most senior Democrat on its powerful Judiciary Committee, is “seriously struggling” with cognitive decline, a new report says. People familiar with the California lawmaker’s situation told the New Yorker on Wednesday that Feinstein’s short-term memory has grown so poor that she “often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has had several “painful” discussions with Feinstein about stepping aside, but the octogenarian reportedly soon forgets about their talks, forcing Schumer to confront her again, one source said. “It was like Groundhog Day, but with the pain fresh each time,” the source said.


Overtures were also reportedly made to Feinstein’s billionaire husband, Richard C. Blum. Grumblings over Feinstein’s performance have grown increasingly loud, leading to her decision to step down last month as ranking member of the elite Judiciary Committee. Pundits were unhappy with Feinstein’s handling of the confirmation of President Trump’s most recent Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. The lawmaker bungled several questions and then caused a furor when she concluded Barrett’s hearings by hugging Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and praising him for “one of the best set of hearings that I have participated in.” Schumer was reportedly so concerned about Feinstein’s performance that he “installed a trusted former aide, Max Young, to ’embed’ in the Judiciary Committee to make sure the hearings didn’t go off the rails,” the New Yorker reported.

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Inevitable when no-one can investigate the investigators.

Sexual Misconduct Shakes FBI’s Senior Ranks (AP)

An assistant FBI director retired after he was accused of drunkenly groping a female subordinate in a stairwell. Another senior FBI official left after he was found to have sexually harassed eight employees. Yet another high-ranking FBI agent retired after he was accused of blackmailing a young employee into sexual encounters. An Associated Press investigation has identified at least six sexual misconduct allegations involving senior FBI officials over the past five years, including two new claims brought this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents. Each of the accused FBI officials appears to have avoided discipline, the AP found, and several were quietly transferred or retired, keeping their full pensions and benefits even when probes substantiated the sexual misconduct claims against them.

Beyond that, federal law enforcement officials are afforded anonymity even after the disciplinary process runs its course, allowing them to land on their feet in the private sector or even remain in law enforcement. “They’re sweeping it under the rug,” said a former FBI analyst who alleges in a new federal lawsuit that a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleague’s farewell party in 2017. She ended up leaving the FBI and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, it’s very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields,” said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.

The AP’s count does not include the growing number of high-level FBI supervisors who have failed to report romantic relationships with subordinates in recent years — a pattern that has alarmed investigators with the Office of Inspector General and raised questions about bureau policy. The recurring sexual misconduct has drawn the attention of Congress and advocacy groups, which have called for whistleblower protections for rank-and-file FBI employees and for an outside entity to review the bureau’s disciplinary cases. “They need a #MeToo moment,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has been critical of the treatment of women in the male-dominated FBI. “It’s repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol’-boy networks,” Speier said. “It doesn’t surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.”

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“Only three words spoil the entire positive message: “directing the market.”

The “Great Reset” and Plans for a Global War on Savings (Lacalle)

Global debt is expected to soar to a record $277 trillion by the end of the year, according to the Institute of International Finance. Developed markets’ total debt—government, corporate, and households—jumped to 432 percent of GDP in the third quarter. Emerging market debt-to-GDP hit nearly 250 percent in the third quarter, with China reaching 335 percent, and for the year the ratio is expected to reach about 365 percent of global GDP. Most of this massive increase of $15 trillion in one year comes from government and corporates’ response to the pandemic. However, we must remember that the total debt figure had already reached record highs in 2019, before any pandemic and in a period of growth. The main problem is that most of this debt is unproductive debt.

Governments are using the unprecedented fiscal space to perpetuate bloated current spending, which generates no real economic return, so the likely outcome is that debt will continue to rise after the pandemic crisis is ended and that the level of growth and productivity achieved will not be enough to reduce the financial burden on public accounts. In this context, the World Economic Forum has presented a roadmap for what has been called “the Great Reset.” It is a plan that aims to take the current opportunity to “to shape an economic recovery and the future direction of global relations, economies, and priorities.” According to the World Economic Forum, the world must also adapt to the current reality by “directing the market to fairer results, ensur[ing] investments are aimed at mutual progress including accelerating ecologically friendly investments, and [starting] a fourth industrial revolution, creating digital economic and public infrastructure.”

These objectives are obviously shared by all of us, and the reality shows that the private sector is already implementing these ideas, as we see technology, renewable investments, and sustainability plans thriving all over the world. We are witnessing in real time the proof that businesses adapt rapidly and provide better goods and services at affordable prices for everyone achieving a level of progress in environmental targets and welfare that would be unthinkable if governments were in charge. This crisis shows that the world has escaped the risk of scarcity and hyperinflation thanks to a private sector that has surpassed all expectations in a seemingly unsurmountable crisis.

The overall message of the World Economic Forum sounds promising. Only three words spoil the entire positive message: “directing the market.” The risk of governments taking these ideas to promote massive interventionism is not small. The idea of the Great Reset has been quickly embraced by the most bureaucratic and government-intervened economies as a validation of rising government implication in the economy. However, this is incorrect.

Read more …

“The OECD has estimated that the unemployment rate will reach roughly 20 percent by the end of the year.”

Greece Is Setting Itself Up For Another Financial Crisis (Mises)

The Greek economy shrunk by a record 14 percent in the second quarter of 2020 while at the same time government efforts to ‘’cure’’ the economy have set the country on the road to cross the 200 percent debt-to-GDP ratio as the IMF forecasts. In the meantime, government budget deficits have reached new heights (around 7 percent). The Greek government tried to combat the economic downturn with a loose fiscal and monetary policy (through the European Central Bank). The initial aim was to support pretty much everyone from the public and private sector for the bad months of the covid-19 lockdown and hope for economic recovery when the summer arrived, with the tourist industry saving the day. It soon became evident, however, that this was wishful thinking.


People from the tourist industry admitted that it could take years for the industry to recover its past numbers. The situation looked even worse once people realized how dependent the whole economy is on tourism: it accounts for 20 percent of GDP and provides 22 percent of all employment in Greece. Furthermore, the Greek government’s solutions, like those of most of the other governments in Europe, were primarily demand-side policies. As I predicted in one of my past articles, these measures could only provide short-run relief, only postponing the pain until later. The unemployment rate saw a 1.2 percent increase from March to April, of 1.3 percent from April to May, and it saw a minor decrease during the summer tourist period. The OECD has estimated that the unemployment rate will reach roughly 20 percent by the end of the year.

The ECB’s balance sheet had a massive increase from 39 percent of the GDP to 54 percent during the summer. In comparison the Fed’s balance sheet is around 32 percent of GDP. The injections of liquidity via the ECB have effectively zombified a considerable number of companies in the EU, with corporate debts reaching new highs. In the case of Greece, the government has exploited its new, EU-sanctioned fiscal leeway, which has allowed it to perpetuate structural problems in its economy along with large deficits. During the tourist season, the costs were so high that a considerable segment of the tourist industry decided to not even work this summer since they would lose less money this way.


[..] People need to understand that when you have an economy with weak productivity that’s highly indebted, shutting down the economy two times in one year has repercussions that will be here to stay for years depending on the recovery policies. The economy needs major structural reforms. Labor laws need to be liberalized. Budget surpluses are indeed the correct goal, especially now, to avoid another debt crisis, but the surpluses need to come from cuts made in the public sector. Tax cuts need to become permanent and even bigger for the economy to grow and expand. Last but not least, making foreign and domestic investments easier, less expensive, and minimizing the potential risk is a matter of utmost urgency, since Greece is being outcompeted by neighboring countries.

Read more …

Isn’t China merely replacing predatory IMF behavior with predatory Beijing behavior?

US Hits Search & Destroy Against The New Silk Roads (Escobar)

Seven years after being launched by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana and then in Jakarta, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increasingly drive the American plutocratic oligarchy completely nuts. The relentless paranoia about the Chinese “threat” has much to do with the exit ramp offered by Beijing to a Global South permanently indebted to IMF/World Bank exploitation. In the old order, politico-military elites were routinely bribed in exchange for unfettered corporate access to their nations’ resources, coupled with go-go privatization schemes and outright austerity (“structural adjustment”). This went on for decades until BRI became the new game in town in terms of infrastructure building – offering an alternative to the imperial footprint.

The Chinese model allows all manner of parallel taxes, sales, rents, leases – and profits. This means extra sources of income for host governments – with an important corollary: freedom from the hardcore neoliberal diktats of IMF/World Bank. This is what is at the heart of the notorious Chinese “win-win”. Moreover, BRI’s overall strategic focus on infrastructure development not only across Eurasia but also Africa encompasses a major geopolitical game-changer. BRI is positioning vast swathes of the Global South to become completely independent from the Western-imposed debt trap. For scores of nations, this is a matter of national interest. In this sense BRI should be regarded as the ultimate post-colonialist mechanism.

BRI in fact bristles with Sun Tzu simplicity applied to geoeconomics. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake – in this case enslaving the Global South via perpetual debt. Then use his own weapons – in this case financial “help” – to destabilize his preeminence.

Read more …

Five Eyes only?

Australia Sabotaged Its Own Interests in China Relations (CN)

The address to Federal Parliament by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Nov. 17, 2014, marked a highwater mark in bilateral relations. Xi was in Australia for the G-20 summit in Brisbane hosted by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. His theme was that China was committed to peace but ready to protect its interests. Since then, the relationship has gone downhill — first slowly and haltingly, but over the past two years with sickening acceleration. Now the relationship seems irretrievable. For educated Chinese, Australia is now an object lesson in Western arrogance, hypocrisy and betrayal of friendship. The dinner party has ended in upended chairs, shouts and bitter accusations as both sides angrily walk away. After the high symbolism of the Xi speech, all seemed well. In 2015 the Darwin Port was leased to a Chinese company for 99 years.

Growing numbers of Chinese students and tourist visitors to Australia were becoming mainstays of Australia’s thriving higher education, tourism and property sectors. China as an Australian export market grew steadily in significance: last year it represented nearly 50 percent of Australian commodity export earnings. Victoria in 2018 signed a memorandum of understanding with China to work with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. From the beginning, there were signs that powerful forces were determined to cripple Australian-Chinese engagement: and they have now seemingly won. The present breakdown is tragic for Australian economic and political interests. Many innocent Australians’ livelihoods are being harmed by our own government’s and political class’ stupidity. It is hard to see now how the damage done to Australia-China relations may be healed anytime soon.

Controversially, I contend that Australia has over the past six years lived through a textbook experiment of covert foreign policy interference by powerful Anglo-American influences, subtly working through local sympathizers in public life here. Australian political elites — already culturally predisposed to trust Anglo-American friends, and naive as to their power and guile — have been persuaded to adopt increasingly adversarial positions against China across a broad front. This essay can only hint at the breadth and skill of this classic Five Eyes information warfare operation: it would take a book to expose it fully.


“Five Eyes” intelligence network including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand. (@GDJ, Openclipart)

Read more …

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Nov 202020
 
 November 20, 2020  Posted by at 8:14 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Georgia O’Keeffe Red poppy No. VI 1928

 

 

High time for another update about our support for what is now called the “Self-managed Social Kitchen Monastiraki” here in Athens (Athina). It’s again been a while, because for a long time so many things were uncertain and up in the air. I guess that is inevitable when the entire world lives through insecure times, and the homeless as always are more affected by such things than anyone else.

For the first half of the year, I wasn’t even here, I spent the first lockdown period in Holland, because I thought Greece would be more affected than it, but I was very wrong. Greece had it down then. It’s only now, 3-4 months after they opened their borders to tourism again, that things go wrong.

But the country needs revenue from tourism, it cannot keep its borders closed forever. There’s a lesson in there somewhere about what I wrote earlier, that “after 10 months, we can’t keep treating COVID as the only problem in town. That’s myopic. We need a bigger picture”.

Athens went into another full lockdown recently, and the city is devoid of life. Which will kill off another large part of the “mom-and-pop” businesses that make it function and kept it vibrant. There’s exactly two Starbucks in Athens, to name an example, one McDonald’s and one KFC, and I think they should be very proud of that. Monoculture kills life itself, both in farming and in city streets.

And countless people working in the “mom-and-pop” businesses, and in the tourist- and hospitality industries, no longer have jobs. They get some financial support, but not enough to pay all their bills. So what do they do? They go see each other indoors, where the infection risk is higher.

Still, here we are. And we have to deal with it. Back in March, the Monastiraki kitchen did that too. A lockdown doesn’t make the homeless any less hungry or needy, it makes them more so. And the boys and girls responded to that under ever more difficult circumstances. When cooking in the street was no longer viable, they devised a way to cook in a private space nearby and ride out the food to Monastiraki Square, on a cart.

 

 

Problem with that is it costs a lot more time and money, because every meal has to be individually packaged, and you now in COVID time need sanitizer and gloves and tons of bags, and facemasks. I bought a whole bunch of N95 masks for everyone a few weeks ago, because there are real risks when working close together, and then handing out the meals to the clients. I want to keep these people as safe as possible.

 

Then this summer, there was another issue. The kitchen had returned to cooking on the square, but in early August was told by municipal police that there were anonymous complaints about them “taking up public space”, and they couldn’t come back. All attempts since to find out what exactly was going on have landed nowhere. At one point some official promised he would come with a solution, only to never be heard from again.

And so, certainly with the new lockdown in place, the decision was made to keep cooking in the private place, and rolling out the food to the square. People are good at adapting. But there remains an underlying threat of the kitchen volunteers being arrested, a threat that was actually made in early August. For feeding people in need. Some world.

 

And this is a good moment to introduce Filothei, the lady and girl who is the driving force behind the kitchen now. Which she will deny, because it’s all about everyone else, not her, and because she insists she’s only 17. I began to wonder about the kitchen’s finances when I got back to Athens in June 2020, I thought they’d badly need more of the Automatic Earth funds, but they were in no hurry.

Meet Filothei 😉

 

 

Digging further, I realized we only provided some 10-15% of the funding. So where did the rest come from? It took some questioning, but sure enough, a large part of the answer is: from Filothei herself. And while that is supersweet, it also makes for a vulnerable situation. And then, of course, she got hurt a month ago when a piece of a mirror fell into (yes, into) her arm and she hasn’t been able to work her job as a physiotherapist for handicapped people since.

By the way, Filothei also has a large organic garden, which provides most of the vegetables for most of the year. For 200 meals every week! Automatic Earth readers’ donations are typically used to buy the staples, pasta, olive oil, canned tomatoes etc.

We decided to run a trial on November 16, when Filothei went to the supermarket with some of the €1,000 in coupons she still had left from what I bought in early July(!), without using anything still in stock, to see the cost for one run of 200 meals, and it showed a total of €242 (in current exchange rates, close to $300 US). While “my” coupons have paid for some €20 per week. We were both surprised at the numbers.

 

 

And no, €242 for 200 meals is not much, it’s less than €1.15 per person. While the NGO’s and charities funded by governments and the EU claim costs of €5-€10 per meal. But you still have to have the €242 every week. And it shouldn’t come from one sweetheart of a girl, or from me, or any other individual person. That’s not how you run a social kitchen operation long term.

Moreover, because of the COVID situation, other people who used to provide some funds, no longer can, because out of 30 of them “affiliated” with the kitchen, only 3 now still have jobs. When it rains, it pours.

 

 

So on November 16 we did the shopping trial, and the next day I went along for the whole cooking process, about 4 hours. November 17 is the day Greece commemorates its then military junta violently putting down a student protest at the Polytechnic university compound in 1973, and the government tightened its lockdown measures even more, fearing protests, which meant many who usually help in the kitchen were afraid to come in, fearing a €300 fine.

As did I, but hey, hard as it is to understand the details of the lockdown measures when you don’t speak the language, if others take the risk, who am I not to? There was police in full riot gear everywhere, and at the end of the day, around 7.30 pm, we had meals left. That never happens. Some of the guys later went into side streets, where the homeless were hiding from the police, and handed out dozens more meals.

 

But of course things ain’t all bad. Filothei told me yesterday about a group of people, organized in the “Love Van”, which is an organization made up of Greek athletes, that reached out to her to ask what she needs, and now promised to bring 160 winter coats and 160 sleeping bags next week to the kitchen. That’s such a grand gesture. Coat: $100 a piece, sleeping bag $100 a piece?!

 

 

Not everything is bad. And no matter how bad it gets, we will somehow make it through this. Hey, the shortest day of the year is only one month away, and after that things can only get better. But you already know what I’m going to say next: please help me, help us, help the people that need your help most.

Put the Automatic Earth, and the Monastiraki kitchen, in your Christmas donations list in 2020, and contribute to a real effort to help real people beset by real problems. These are mostly not people with drug- or alcohol problems, they are people who lost their jobs or businesses and their homes, through no fault of their own. That was true when I first got here in Spring 2015, and it’s even more so now, because COVID has killed off so many ways to carve out at least a minimum existence.

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them, especially for Christmas-.

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. To get through the winter in one piece, the Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,000 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. In earlier times, 2016-2017, we had way more than that with Konstantinos, but both Filothei and I decided a few years back, independently from each other, that we didn’t want to work with him anymore.

So let’s see where we can get today, shall we? I want to write the perfect article with the perfect plea, but there is of course no such thing. Therefore, I will be back in a few weeks time with a reminder -and updates-, hoping that y’all have gotten the message.

I love all you people so much, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier.

Love you. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Turns out, the same Filothei is quite the photographer too:

Filothei Photography

 

 

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

 

Nov 042020
 


Pablo Picasso Etude Pour Mercure 1924

 

The Democrats and the Presstitutes Will Not Admit a Trump Win (PCR)
Trump: Presidency Has Been ‘Mean’ And Filled With ‘Horrible People’ (Pol.)
How Violence Became A Forecastable Event In America (Turley)
Field Evaluation Of A Rapid Antigen Test For The Diagnosis Of COVID19 (medrxiv)
Radio Host Crushes Leading UK Epidemiologist’s Credibility (ZH)
No Matter Who Wins (Nate Hagens)
China Halts Ant Group’s Mega IPO (R.)
Jack Ma: Traditional Banks Are Operating With A ‘Pawn Shop’ Mentality (TC)
US Pushes Greece To Stop Acting As China’s ‘Dragon’s Head’ Into Europe (SCMP)
Refugee from Moria Camp Signs Professional Football Contract in Greece (GR)

 

 

Been following election news bits for hours now, and still nothing is sure. Both sides claim a win, both sides accuse the other of cheating.

I’d say Trump won, but then I just get more people claiming I’m a Trump supporter. Got another mail from an “ex-reader” asking me why I changed so much. Never occurs to these people that maybe they’re the ones who changed, not me. Sure, I’m not anti-Trump, but why should I? Everytime such mails come in, and the frequency has increased, there’s also always generous donations coming in. Balance.

Trump is doing much better then most of the pollsters said, but we’ll have to wait. There certainly is no landslide for either side. Some states just stopped counting mid-way in, and some counters took the ballots home with them.

I’ll cover this is a series of tweets I picked up along the way. I know it looks crap in mailing lists, but I still haven’t figured out why the tweets stopped appearing in mails. Something to do with javascript, but they did use to appear.

 

 

Trump wins in all demographics except white men.

 

 

@joelpollak “And so we have the anticipated scenario: on Election Night, it looks like a Trump victory based on votes counted so far, but there are enough uncounted states that Biden can tell his supporters that he will win. Media, lawyers, tech companies, and protesters will try to help him.”

 

 

Greenwald Biden Landslide

McEnany Rustbelt

@PpollingNumbers

Tucker zero credibility

Biden

 

 

Paul Craig Roberts from October 29. The documentary The Plot Against the President is no longer available on YouTube.

The Democrats and the Presstitutes Will Not Admit a Trump Win (PCR)

If Trump wins the election, unless it is an overwhelming victory that cannot be challenged, the Democrats and the American media will not admit that Trump won. The plan in place is to blame Trump’s win on fraud and to use the tactics of the “Maidan Revolution” in Ukraine, recently employed again in Belarus, to prevent Trump’s inauguration. The documentary, The Plot Against the President, explains the “Russiagate” plot by the FBI, the Democrats, and the media to remove President Trump from office. The venality and corruption of FBI Director Comey, the American media, and Democrats, such as Adam Schiff, is scary. That such an obvious plot against American democracy involving the country’s security agencies and one of the two ruling political parties could go on for three years without a single question by the media proves that the Establishment will not tolerate a non-establishment President or those who support him and that the media dares not cross the Establishment.

The fact that Comey is not in prison testifies to the power of the Deep State. Had it not been for US Rep. Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee the coup would have succeeded. The coup attempt is not over. The documentary, which consists of the testimony of members of the House Intelligence Committee, National Security officials, and outside experts, shows that both Democrats, especially Adam Schiff, and the US media simply denied that Independent Prosecutor Mueller and the House Intelligence Committee failed to find any evidence of the Russiagate charges. Adam Schiff stood before the American media and lied time and time again. The media knew he was lying and never called him on his lies. Not even once. The undeniable fact that Russiagate was a three-year hoax, an orchestrated deception to foreclose the Trump agenda, has not been admitted by Democrats or the presstitutes.

In other words, nothing is true unless the media admits it. And they don’t admit the truth. The Elite use the presstitutes to control the explanations and to keep the population in a false reality. As our Founding Fathers said, without a free and independent media, there is no liberty. The United States does not have a free and independent media. It has a propaganda ministry for the ruling Elite. Be sure you comprehend the implications, because you are about to see it again. If Trump wins the election, the media and the Democrat Party are not going to acknowledge the fact that Trump won–unless Trump’s win is so overwhelming that it cannot be challenged.

Virginia vote count stops, counters take ballots home with them.
https://twitter.com/JusticeMAGA/status/1323856601858494464

Read more …

Well, he’s been fair game for 5 years.

Trump: Presidency Has Been ‘Mean’ And Filled With ‘Horrible People’ (Pol.)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday offered a bitter assessment of his tenure in the White House, saying the experience has been “mean” and marked by “horrible people.” The comments came in an Election Day interview on “Fox & Friends,” after co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Trump whether he has enjoyed being president and if the job has been “worth it.” “Well, it’s been mean. It’s been — you’ve dealt with horrible people,” Trump replied, adding: “You deal with people that are very deceptive.” Trump, who participated in five campaign rallies Monday, sounded noticeably hoarse throughout his phone interview Tuesday, and seemed relatively despondent compared with his previous appearances on his preferred cable morning news show.


Reflecting further on his time in office, Trump said that his friends “used to call me Donald, [but] now they call me president,” and he argued that the United States itself was more “difficult to deal with” than America’s international adversaries. “They’ll go, ‘Mr. President, tell me, who’s the country that’s most difficult to deal with? Is it Russia? Is it China? Is it North Korea? Sir, is it North Korea?’” Trump said. “And I go, ‘No. Well, by far, the most difficult country to deal with is the U.S. It’s not even close,’” he continued. “And they all say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ And I say, ‘No, I’m actually probably not kidding.’ We have very, very deceptive people.”

Read more …

So far so good. But then, both sides still think they can win.

How Violence Became A Forecastable Event In America (Turley)

Driving around Washington, D.C. a couple days ago was a shocking experience. Block after block of businesses are boarded up and anything throwable or movable has been removed from the streets. In the meantime, faculty, staff, and students at George Washington University (where I teach) have been told to stockpile medicine and food “as you normally would for a hurricane or a snowstorm.” The reason? We are about to have a democratic election. The expectation is that is, unless it is a landslide for Biden, there will be rioting and arson in Washington and other cities. A warm front moving in with “possible election related disruptions” is being reported like an electoral meteorological event.

When exactly did election rioting become as forecastable as inclement weather? The forecast for rioting with a chance of passing looting and arson is being repeated across the country as if it is now an inconvenient truth of the political version of global warming. The most likely disruption would come a close election or Trump lead. That risk is heightened after Democratic leaders like House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. declared on Sunday that the only way Democrat Joe Biden could lose the election would be “for voter suppression to be successful.” Thus, if Trump is close or winning on election night, it can only be due to unlawful conduct. When President Trump made such statements about stealing the election, the media went into full alert over his laying the foundation for a coup.

Yet, the media seems entirely comfortable with Clyburn’s pre-election declaration that either Biden wins or the election is invalid. The fact is that the odds are against President Trump. However, the current polling shows a tightening of the race in critical states. The country remains sharply divided with even the best Biden polls still showing a solid 45 percent for Trump. Yet, Democratic members like Clyburn are already stating that either Biden wins or the election is stolen. No wonder officials are declaring a violent front moving into major cities with political doppler readings with developing protest vortexes and political depressions. Yet, rioting is not an act of God, but the criminal acts of those who only embrace democratic elections to the extent that they result in the “right” outcomes.

Read more …

“NEW terrific study on rapid tests The importance of this figure canNOT be overstated! Rapid tests caught 80% of PCR positives but all missed had very low viral loads. Thus, as expected it will successfully capture ppl most likely to be contagious.”

Field Evaluation Of A Rapid Antigen Test For The Diagnosis Of COVID19 (medrxiv)

Previous studies evaluating SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test (RAD), tests either used retrieved specimens, which had been cryopreserved for a wide range of times, were conducted at central laboratories or both [3-7]. To our knowledge this is the first report on the performance of a RAD assay conducted at POC. As such, it may provide a realistic view of how implementation of RAD tests in clinical practice can contribute to the management and control of the COVID-19 pandemics. When compared to RT-PCR, the Panbio™ COVID-19 AG Rapid Test Device assay yielded an excellent specificity and a fairly good overall sensitivity (79.6%); the latter slightly improved when the time to testing was less than 5 days since the onset of symptoms (80.6%).

This figure is less impressive than that claimed by the manufacturer (93%); however it is close (86.5%) to that reported by Linares and colleagues [3] in a mixed cohort including patients attended at the Emergency Department or primary healthcare centers and centralized testing at the hospital laboratory. Sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 RAD assays has been reported to vary between 45%-97% [3-7]; yet, direct comparison between studies is hampered by relevant dissimilarities regarding clinical characteristics and age of patients, site of testing, type of specimen processed, and time to testing, among others. Interestingly, the sensitivity was higher in adults (82.6%) than in pediatric patients (62.5%). Previous studies found no age-related differences in SARS-CoV-2 RNA load in the upper respiratory tract [8]. Although speculative, dating the accurate onset of symptoms could have been less reliable in children than in adults.

[..] In summary, we found the Panbio™ COVID-19 AG Rapid Test Device to perform well as a POC for early diagnosis of COVID-19 in primary healthcare centers. More importantly, our data suggested that patients with RT-PCR-proven COVID-19 testing negative by RAD are unlikely to be infectious. Further studies are warranted to confirm this assumption. The inconsequentiality of false negative RAD results, from a public health perspective [12], would support the implementation of a laboratory diagnostic approach which excluded confirmatory RT-PCR testing for negative RAD tests in non hospitalized patients, even when the pretest probability is high. This would certainly alleviate laboratory workloads while dealing with RT-PCR supply shortages.

Read more …

The costs and risks of having a lockdown vs NOT having a lockdown. Nobody’s done the math. They didn’t even try.

From John Day, TAE resident physician, a few days ago: “COVID-19 is here to stay [..] It has become endemic. It’s never going away. There is no way to make it go away. Immunity lasts something like 6 months, though some reinfections occur before that. A good vaccine will always be 6 months away. Then you will need another, different one in 6 more months, but the first one is still 6 months away. “

Radio Host Crushes Leading UK Epidemiologist’s Credibility (ZH)

In the most thorough demolition of an ‘expert’ epidemiologist who unabashedly advised the UK government of the desperate need for a second lockdown to “suppress” the virus, Independent SAGE member Professor Gabriel Scally was completely unable to respond when LBC’s Maajid Nawaz cornered him on how severely a lockdown would cost the nation. As LBC’s Seán Hickey reports, Maajid asked whether the member of the Independent SAGE considers “the potential cost and deaths from having a lockdown and weigh them up.” Professor Scally insisted that “you can’t have a response to this virus that doesn’t take into account the economic factors, social factors and the psychological factors” and his department would definitely take these factors into consideration.

He reiterated the over-used mantra that the bottom line is that “we have to stop the virus – we have to stop it spreading,” and a second national lockdown is the best way to do so. However, when pushed on the cost, Scally told Maajid he hasn’t seen it, to which Maajid asked the epidemiologist after explaining that the sum is £2.4billion a day whether such funds could be spent elsewhere. “I would imagine as a public health expert you would have some idea,” Maajid noted. And that’s when Scally lost all ‘science’ credibility and barked back at Maajid: “Oh, don’t be silly, you are really now being stupid…” Which Maajid did not take kindly to the President of Epidemiology & Public Health at the Royal Society of Medicine’s response.

“Is the scientific evidence for why we need to go into lockdown being compared with the scientific evidence for what happens if we don’t and then the death that can come from lockdown versus the death that can come from not locking down compared and the costs compared so we can have a holistic approach to it. Have you done that work?” “I would have done that work if I was a member of cabinet,” Professor Scally said, when Maajid Nawaz turned the screw.

Read more …

Long from my old friend Nate.

No Matter Who Wins (Nate Hagens)

Humans – during periods of growth – and contraction – self-organize around energy. Oil is central but our entire energy balance sheet is going to be a critical issue in the coming decade. Under a Biden win, various Green New Deal schemes will massively scale renewable energy. In many ways this is good news, because it will be good for GDP, it will create jobs, and grow our supply of low carbon energy. But there are many problems with this because it won’t be approached systemically. Briefly: 1) renewable energy isn’t renewable, it’s rebuildable, 2) only 20% of (current) energy mix is electricity which is the type of energy produced from most renewables 3) the higher % of RE in our mix the more important back up (NG and coal) become – and the US is facing an impending gas shortage as US drilling has plummeted. (the largest growth component of supply was the associated gas from tight oil production), 4) the full system cost of integrating RE into the grid is higher than consumers currently pay, weighing on the economy 5) all RE plans expect a LARGER economy in the future when (see above) most realistic scenarios using systemic inputs point to a smaller economy.

Still, renewables are our only hope – they are mature, robust and inexpensive vis-à-vis even a decade ago. The problem will be how to ‘add renewables to a smaller and more complex system’. No matter who wins the election, we will have to face a more complex and less certain energy future. One of the silver linings (if you will) of the pandemic is that now a great number of people personally are aware US GDP/ 330 million does not represent how well we are doing as individuals or as a nation. The constant media reminders that the SP500 and Dow Jones just made all-time highs is incongruous with most peoples real lived experience (and most of whom have zero money in the stock market).

Whether one understands or agrees with the risks of climate change, energy depletion or limits to growth, tens of millions of people are now hungry for living a decent life with access to basic needs, while doing something good. The coming decades – by definition but also by desire – are going to be more about well-being than they are about growing our consumption of stuff. No matter who wins the election, our nation needs to embark on a deep conversation about what our cultural goal is – we are going to need complementary metrics to the econometric measures quantifying how much energy we burned. What is all this energy for is a question that should be part of our national discourse.

Read more …

And people thought the US would do it.

China Halts Ant Group’s Mega IPO (R.)

China suspended Ant Group’s $37 billion stock market listing on Tuesday, thwarting the world’s largest IPO with just days to go, in a dramatic move that left investors and bankers scrambling for answers.

Fraser Howie, independent commentator and author of several books about china’s financial system: “It is embarrassing for Ant Group, it also looks bad for sponsors and the exchange and regulators.The SSE (Shanghai Stock Exchange) says the suspension is based on changes of structure which breach the listing disclosure rules. How could this happen? No excuse at all for such failings around disclosure. Or perhaps this is really politics at play, the state is reining in the private sector in the most embarrassing of ways but that I think is somewhat foolish an approach. Ant Group should be regulated as a financial company but China has made a major push to open its markets and welcome foreigners and then this happens. The world’s largest IPO, China’s most famous tech group and this mess. Everyone looks foolish.”

Dave Wang, portfolio manager, Nuvest Capital, Singapore: “For now, markets will sell off Alibaba and likely Tencent as well as other relevant exposures like HSCEI Tech due to anticipation of Ant’s listing. Chinese banks may be a beneficiary and given they are underowned, we could see a rally. More details will come and if this is an isolated incident to Ant, then the new economy stocks that have done well so far should be fine, which is the base case now. If not, markets may start to price in uncertainty on tighter regulations on private enterprises and we could see a significant pull back on Chinese growth stocks.”

Francis Lun, CEO of Geo Securities : “The Communist Party has shown the tycoons who’s boss. Jack Ma might be the richest man in the world but that doesn’t mean a thing. This has gone from the deal of the century to the shock of the century. Jack Ma got ahead of himself by criticising the commercial banks and the regulatory regime.”

Read more …

Some background to the Ant Group IPO fail.

Jack Ma: Traditional Banks Are Operating With A ‘Pawn Shop’ Mentality (TC)

Whenever Alibaba founder Jack Ma makes a speech, it often becomes a hot topic. This past week, the Chinese internet has been abuzz with a speech of his. This time though, he seems to have gotten more brickbats than praise. At the Bund Summit in Shanghai last weekend, while Ma self-deprecatingly said that he was an unofficial and non-professional member of the financial sector, he nonetheless criticised the financial supervision system in front of top financial leaders like Zhou Xiaochuan, former governor of the People’s Bank of China, and Yi Gang, current governor of the People’s Bank of China. His fiery speech quickly made the rounds on the internet and sparked debate in the financial circle.


In his speech, Ma referred to the Basel Accords – a set of internationally agreed banking supervision regulations – as a “club for the elderly” and stated that these regulations should not apply to China, which does not have a mature financial ecosystem yet. He also claimed that the world now “only focuses on risk control, not on development”. As a representative figure of innovation in China’s financial industry, Ma believes that innovation comes with a price. He said: “Risk-free innovations stifle innovation.” He also added this blunt criticism: “Your risk-free departments are putting the entire economy at the risk of non-development.” Ma further criticised traditional banks for operating with a “pawn shop” mentality, saying that they will be unable to support the financial needs of the future world.

Read more …

Still can’t read the name “Geoffrey Pyatt” without getting nauseous.

US Pushes Greece To Stop Acting As China’s ‘Dragon’s Head’ Into Europe (SCMP)

As Europe was fighting a seemingly unmanageable Covid-19 outbreak in September, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rolled out the red carpet for an inconspicuous foreign guest. Neither a state leader nor a health expert called in to fight the virus, Adam Boehler heads the US International Development Finance Corporation, created last year and hailed by Washington as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the multibillion-dollar Beijing plan to fund infrastructure projects and expand trade ties around the world. Fresh in his job, Boehler’s visit – quickly followed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – was a clear signal of Washington’s concern over China’s expanding interest and influence in Europe, especially Greece.

The country is home to one of the most iconic belt and road projects: the port of Piraeus, among Europe’s biggest and now controlled by China’s state-owned shipping giant Cosco. Greece may be on the fringe of the European Union geographically, but it has become a key focus in the intensifying scramble for global influence between the US and China, which has spilled over into Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. “China itself has identified [Greece] as the dragon’s head of the Belt and Road Initiative in Europe,” the US ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, told local newspaper I Kathimerini earlier this year. “We’re going to have a debate in terms of how we get the balance right in dealing with the challenge that China presents. China’s not going to go away.”

Boehler’s specific goal was to convince Mitsotakis that Greece’s second-largest but near-bankrupt shipyard in Elefsina – just 13km west of Piraeus – should accept investment from the US body, lest it “fall into the wrong hands”, according to a diplomatic source briefed on the matter, who declined to be identified. US companies are reportedly interested in buying controlling stakes in Alexandroupoli port, according to local media. Alexandroupoli is being privatised by the Greek state and, while much smaller than Piraeus, is strategically located near the border with Turkey. Washington has piled the pressure on Greece regarding the future of Piraeus, said to be the oldest port in Europe and just 12km (7 miles) from the capital Athens. That showed when Cosco found itself struggling to get approval from Greek authorities to build a fourth container terminal in the port.

The Chinese shipping giant has said it will invest 600 million euros (US$698 million) in the Piraeus port to make it the biggest commercial shipping hub in Europe. This would also allow it to boost its stake in the port to 67 per cent from the 51 per cent it bought in 2016 for 280.5 million euros under a deal with HRADF, Greece’s privatisation agency. Greek officials have reassured Beijing that the delay in expansion approval was caused by local opposition based on archaeological and environmental concerns, not global politics.

Read more …

Let’s end with some good news.

Refugee from Moria Camp Signs Professional Football Contract in Greece (GR)

The Historic Greek football club Panionios announced on Tuesday that a refugee from the West African nation of Guinea signed a contract to play with the team in late October. Twenty-two-year-old Alia Camara came to Greece on a boat from Turkey when he was just 17 years of age. He traveled to Turkey from his home country after he was promised a contract with a football team there. Since it had been Camara’s dream to play football, naturally he eagerly accepted the deal — which turned out to be a scam which left the teenager penniless. Upon arriving in Greece, Camara was sent to Moria, Greece’s notoriously overcrowded refugee camp, the largest in Europe, which burned down after a series of fires in September.

While in the camp, located on the Greek island of Lesvos, Camara explained his situation to everyone he could — including his love for football, the scam he fell victim to in Turkey, and his desire to play the sport in Greece. With the help of a Greek couple, whom he calls his parents, who heard his story, Camara was able to submit his papers to legally reside in Greece, and was put in contact with Panionios, the historic Greek football club. Panionios, the oldest such club in Greece, was founded in 1890 in Smyrna, in what is now Turkey. After the destruction of the city in 1922, the surviving Greek residents of the city, including the entire club, were forced to relocate to Greece as refugees.

Panionios, along with many refugees from Smyrna, found a new home in the Athenian suburb of Nea Smyrni (New Smyrna). The connection between Camara’s refugee status and the club’s history moved the owners of Panionios, who offered the talented young player a contract to play for the team.

Read more …

 

 

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Greenwald Corbyn

Panda dogs

Fish crossing road

 

 

 

 

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Oct 262020
 


Henri Matisse Nu Blue IV 1952

 

America’s Class War Disguised As Race War May Cause A Civil War (Feierstein)
Will Anyone From The Left Realize Why Trump Won — Again? (MacKinnon)
Suppression Is A Bigger Scandal Than The Actual Hunter Biden Story (Taibbi)
Trump’s Post-Election Execution List (Axios)
Yes, Virginia, the Trump Administration Does Have a China Strategy (Paskal)
The Mother of All Stock Market Bubbles (Lendman)
NYC Hotel Occupancy Rate Crashes Toward 10% As Permanent Closures Loom (ZH)
Greece Insists On Turkish Arms Embargo (K.)
Soil Fungi Act Like A Support Network For Trees (Folio)

 

 

“The US just had its worst day of COVID cases ever—83k—and we’re somehow still lower than the trailing European average.

Adjusted for population, Belgium and the Czech Republic are averaging 300,000 cases/day for the last week.”

 

 

Biden stops campaigning 9 days before election

 

 

Leaflet left on chair of every member of the press boarding Airforce One yesterday.

 

 

“This is the biggest political corruption scandal of our lifetime.”

America’s Class War Disguised As Race War May Cause A Civil War (Feierstein)

In the United States, a class war has been amplified by a biased media and social media. Silicon Valley uses algorithms to move forward politically driven narratives and financial interests designed to polarize and sow seeds of discord that increase tribalism across the nation. US intelligence operatives and the media have joined forces with the Democratic Party to deploy psychological operations, disinformation, and propaganda campaigns, the likes of which have never been used before against the American people, in an attempt to influence the outcome of the November presidential election.

Facebook and Twitter censored a factual New York Post article based on evidence that was legally obtained from the laptop of his son, Hunter Biden, about a decades-long corruption and influence-peddling scandal that then Vice President Joe Biden perpetrated. The Biden family made tens of millions of dollars from Hunter Biden’s corrupt business deals in Ukraine and China. US VP Joe Biden threatened to withhold one billion dollars in aid from Ukraine until they fired a prosecutor named Victor Shokin. Shokin was investigating Burisma holdings. Burisma Holdings is the Ukrainian energy firm that hired Hunter Biden. Hunter had no experience in energy markets or Ukraine, and Burisma paid Hunter $50,000 per month. Joe Biden’s threat worked, Shokin was fired, the Burisma holdings investigation ended, Ukraine received its billion dollars, and Hunter pocketed the cash.

Joe Biden disappears for days at a time, refuses to answer reporters’ questions or discuss if, as President, Biden intends to end the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court with liberal judges, add four US Senators (DC and Puerto Rico), and end the electoral college. The people and the media must demand that Joe Biden immediately: outline his policy intentions and address every issue and allegation found within the emails, photos, and videos found on his son’s computer—well, over a week of silence is unacceptable. Facebook and Twitter’s censorship of this blatant corruption and the media’s journalistic malpractice are crimes against democracy. This is the biggest political corruption scandal of our lifetime.

Read more …

“The sense of devastation and despair this has created is like nothing I have ever experienced. They have stripped us of everything that gave us joy. Every social outlet, every relief, has been made illegal.”

Will Anyone From The Left Realize Why Trump Won — Again? (MacKinnon)

Weeks before the 2016 election, I sent an email to several media and political personalities predicting that Donald Trump would win Pennsylvania and get 306 electoral votes. I’m not a professional pollster, but I did work on three winning presidential campaigns, and I simply tried to block out the noise from supporters of both the Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns. I pulled up the 2012 electoral map to see which states Mitt Romney won and then, factoring in the latest data and political miscalculations, made an educated guess for 2016. Using that same system, I have come up with a prediction for 2020: an absolute floor of 278 electoral votes for Trump, with a real chance that he’ll win more than 310 electoral votes.

That may upset Joe Biden’s supporters and the Trump haters, but hopefully some of those who oppose Trump will ask themselves if this is a possibility and, if so, why it would happen — again. It is not an exaggeration to state that much of the mainstream media, academia, entertainment, medicine and science, Big Tech, the “deep state,” the Never Trumpers, the Democratic Party, and other entrenched establishment elites have joined forces to defeat Trump. Of course, they have a right to oppose the president on any grounds. But they should stop to consider what they themselves might represent to many Americans who struggle to pay bills, feed their children and, in some cases, simply survive.

To those Americans, those who adamantly oppose the president — Democrats or Republicans — look like the power center that has ruled over them for decades and made their lives miserable. These elites typically preach, “Do as I say, not as I do.” They’re rarely subject to the rules and dictates that they hand down. They have an “inside track” because they hold the keys to a club that’s off limits to the average American. For anyone who can do the math, the main answer to why Trump won in 2016 — and why I believe he will win again on Nov. 3 — should be blindingly obvious: Trump went out of his way to expose those elites to the American people as the very problem making their lives exponentially worse. He convinced enough voters that he is not one of those “ivory tower elites” and can’t be bought by their special interests.

[..] With the coronavirus pandemic, this year has been surreal — and painful — in so many ways for most Americans. There’s no question those issues will play a key role in the election. The virus has touched everyone, and its economic effects have been especially devastating to the working class. Trump, now a COVID-19 survivor, has made it clear that, in general, he opposes perpetual lockdowns to deal with the virus. After the government of Ireland issued a truly punishing new lockdown in that country, one person summed up the collective hopelessness in a tweet: “The sense of devastation and despair this has created is like nothing I have ever experienced. They have stripped us of everything that gave us joy. Every social outlet, every relief, has been made illegal.”

Read more …

“The suppression story is almost certainly a bigger scandal than the Hunter Biden affair itself, but it’s all become part of the same picture.”

Suppression Is A Bigger Scandal Than The Actual Hunter Biden Story (Taibbi)

As has been hinted at by several prominent journalists, controversies erupted within newsrooms across New York and Washington in the last week. Editors have been telling charges that any effort to determine whether or not the Biden laptop material is true, or to ask the Biden campaign to confirm or deny the story, will either not be allowed or put through heightened fact-checking procedures. On the other hand, if you want to assert without any evidence at all that the New York Post story is Russian interference, you can essentially go straight into print.

Many people on the liberal side of the political aisle don’t have a problem with this, focused as they are on the upcoming Trump-Biden election. But this same press corps might be weeks away from assuming responsibility for challenging a Biden administration. If they’ve already calculated once that a true story may be buried for political reasons because the other “side” is worse, they will surely make that same calculation again. What happens a month from now when an ambitious Republican like Tom Cotton leaks a document damaging to a President-Elect Biden? Or two years from now, if in the weeks before midterm elections, we get bad economic news, or a Biden/Harris administration foreign policy initiative takes a turn for the worse? Are we sure those stories will be run?

The Republican version of Burisma story – essentially, that former General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin was Elliott Ness, and Joe Biden intervened to fire him specifically to aid his son’s company – is also not supported by evidence. What Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his cohorts have done to date is take a few unreported or under-reported facts and leap straight to a maximalist interpretation of corruption on Joe Biden’s part. This isn’t right, but the room to make that argument has been created by the ongoing squelching of information coming from Ukraine. The suppression story is almost certainly a bigger scandal than the Hunter Biden affair itself, but it’s all become part of the same picture.

Bobulinski mail to Jim Biden:

Read more …

Nice headline, Axios! Execution. Big word.

Trump’s Post-Election Execution List (Axios)

If President Trump wins re-election, he’ll move to immediately fire FBI Director Christopher Wray and also expects to replace CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, two people who’ve discussed these officials’ fates with the president tell Axios. The list of planned replacements is much longer, but these are Trump’s priorities, starting with Wray. Wray and Haspel are despised and distrusted almost universally in Trump’s inner circle. He would have fired both already, one official said, if not for the political headaches of acting before Nov. 3. A win, no matter the margin, will embolden Trump to ax anyone he sees as constraining him from enacting desired policies or going after perceived enemies.

Trump last week signed an executive order that set off alarm bells as a means to politicize the civil service. An administration official said the order “is a really big deal” that would make it easier for presidents to get rid of career government officials. There could be shake-ups across other departments. The president has never been impressed with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, for example. But that doesn’t carry the urgency of replacing Wray or Haspel. The nature of top intelligence and law enforcement posts has traditionally carried an expectation for a higher degree of independence and separation from politics. While Trump has also privately vented about Attorney General Bill Barr, he hasn’t made any formal plans to replace him, an official said.

Trump is furious that Barr isn’t releasing before the election what Trump hoped would be a bombshell report by U.S. Attorney John Durham on the Obama administration’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. Durham’s investigation has yet to produce any high-profile indictments of Obama-era officials as Trump had hoped. “The attorney general wants to finish the work that he’s been involved in since day one,” a senior administration official told Axios. “The view of Haspel in the West Wing is that she still sees her job as manipulating people and outcomes, the way she must have when she was working assets in the field,” one source with direct knowledge of the internal conversations told Axios. “It’s bred a lot of suspicion of her motives.”

Trump is also increasingly frustrated with Haspel for opposing the declassification of documents that would help the Justice Department’s Durham report. A source familiar with conversations at the CIA says, “Since the beginning of DNI’s push to declassify documents, and how strongly she feels about protecting sources connected to those materials, there have been rumblings around the agency that the director plans to depart the CIA regardless of who wins the election.” As for Wray,[..] Trump is angry his second FBI chief didn’t launch a formal investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign business connections — and didn’t purge more officials Trump believes abused power to investigate his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia.

Read more …

Comprehensive National Power (CNP).

Yes, Virginia, the Trump Administration Does Have a China Strategy (Paskal)

On October 26, a week before the U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will begin two days of high-level talks in Delhi. In person. That shouldn’t be a surprise. If one puts politics aside, and connects the many and varied dots, one can see that the U.S. administration has a clear China strategy that is well thought out, multifaceted, and based on a deep understanding of China. It even has a name. But before getting to the administration’s strategy, we need to understand what it is designed to counter — China’s concept of Comprehensive National Power (CNP). Comprehensive National Power is a dominant framework in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) view of the world. CCP think tanks and organizations use it to shape policies and gauge success.

The premise is that a nation’s Comprehensive National Power can be given a numerical value based on a specific but exceptionally wide range of factors, from military strength, to soft power, to access to natural resources, to advances in research and development, and much more. Retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain Bernard Moreland — whose last posting was as U.S. Coast Guard liaison to Beijing — explains: “One of the important things to understand about CNP is that it is an objective metric. Beijing constantly calculates and recalculates China’s CNP relative to other nations the same way many of us watch our 401(k) grow. For us in the West, concepts like ‘national power’ are subjective vague concepts. The [Chinese Communist Party is] obsessed with engineering and calculating everything and believe that all issues can be reduced to numbers and algorithms. This is what they mean when they euphemistically refer to ‘scientific approaches.’”

The result is that any possible tactic – legal or otherwise – is considered fair game in serving the CCP’s goal of increasing China’s Comprehensive National Power. That includes using proxies and diversions to make counteractions more difficult. In an October 21 article for Foreign Affairs, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien detailed some of the many ways Beijing is trying to advance its CNP. They include intellectual property theft, co-opting international organization, using fishing boats for military action, hostage diplomacy, coercive economic policies, use and intimidation of Chinese nationals overseas to advance China’s interests, infiltrating and corrupting foreign education systems, debt traps, bribery, blurring the lines between state, commercial and military activities, and more. Much, much more.

Read more …

“Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google—four companies—have a combined market cap (over $6 trillion) that is greater than the GDP of every country in the world, minus the US and China.”

The Mother of All Stock Market Bubbles (Lendman)

Never before in US equity market history was there as great a disconnect between economic reality and equity prices as now. At a time of economic collapse and likely protracted US Depression, market valuations are at or near all-time highs. David Stockman explained some of the extremes in a period he called “outright fiscal insanity.” Count the ways: “Amazon, a company that didn’t exist pre-1994 is “43% of the S&P 500 consumer discretionary index.” “Nearly two-thirds of the market is underperforming so far this year.” “Year-to-date, only one in three stocks is actually in the green.” “One in five stocks is down 50% or more from its all-time high.” “The five largest stocks in the S&P 500 have a combined market cap that equals that of the ‘smallest’ 389 stocks.”

“Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google—four companies—have a combined market cap (over $6 trillion) that is greater than the GDP of every country in the world, minus the US and China.” “Tesla, having surpassed Walmart (with one-twentieth of the revenue!), has become the ninth-largest stock in the US.” All of the above give new meaning to the term surreal. If a Hollywood script writer presented the above scenario to a producer for filming, it would either be accepted as science fiction or rejected outright as too unrealistic. Who’d believe it? Under these conditions, it’s impossible to invest wisely because markets are dominated by speculative excess — riverboat gambling replacing what sound investing used to be.

No matter which right wing of the US one-party state wins control of the White House and/or Congress, nothing will change — things more likely to worsen until an inevitable day of reckoning arrives. Stockman asked: “How could the S&P 500 be trading at its highest multiple in 70 years when the growth rate of corporate earnings has been sinking for more than two decades?” “The recent S&P index value implies a PE multiple of 36.8X—a place the S&P 500 has never been before.” “The forward PE is now above the record high reached during the dot-com madness at the” end of the 1990s. In calendar year 2020, corporate earnings crashed. They’re “23% (below) their 2019 peak.” Yet market valuations are at levels that suggest double-digit earnings growth ahead — despite evidence indicating protracted economic Depression, mass unemployment, along with reduced business and consumer spending.

Read more …

Everyone’s still waiting for tourism to rise again.

NYC Hotel Occupancy Rate Crashes Toward 10% As Permanent Closures Loom (ZH)

Prices at New York City hotels have plunged as the hospitality industry continues to try and grapple with the effects of the global pandemic. Some hotels, like the Midtown Hilton, have remained closed since March. Others, like the Pierre, are operating in limited capacity. Those that are open for business have slashed prices by more than 60%, according to a new writeup by AlJazeera. Despite October usually being a fruitful month for tourism in NYC, coronavirus has forced the cancellation of staple events like the NYC Marathon and Fashion Week. And while the industry has definitely recovered since March, it still has a long way to go. 200 of New York’s roughly 700 hotels remain closed, the article notes.

Lukas Hartwich, an analyst at real estate research firm Green Street, said: “Next year is going to be far worse than any year we’ve ever had except this one. It’s going to be 2022 before we get back to where we were during the worst part of the last recession.” Occupancy rates in NYC stand under 40% right now, with the average daily room price at $135. Those figures, last October, stood at 92% and $336. Industry locals say the 2020 figure may even be inflated, as many hotels stopped reporting data for the time being. Vijay Dandapani, chief executive officer of the Hotel Association of New York City, said: “The true hotel occupancy is less than 10%. Hotels have theoretically been able to be open, but in many cases it’s pointless.”

In addition to risk-adverse travelers, corporate travel has also diminished, acting as a major headwind for the industry. Executives in the industry predict that up to 20% of the city’s hotels could wind up permanently closed. Those that have stayed open, like the Pierre, are offering limited services. For example, at the Pierre, room service stops after breakfast and the concierge clocks out at 5PM now.

Read more …

Good luck taking on the arms industry.

Greece Insists On Turkish Arms Embargo (K.)

With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making clear his plans to continue exploratory activities within Greece’s continental shelf over the next two months, Athens is pressing its case for an arms embargo against Turkey. Reacting to Ankara’s operational escalation in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Athens is determined to stress that it is unacceptable for European Union countries to continue exporting arms to Turkey while it threatens a member-state. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has insisted already on the need for an arms embargo on Turkey by Greece’s EU partners, and also raised the issue in person with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The case was also made by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in a letter to his counterparts in Germany, Italy and Spain.


The most serious aspect of the assistance provided by many of Greece’s European partners to Turkey is not only the equipment but, more importantly, the know-how that has enabled Ankara to rapidly develop and expand its domestic defense industry, including in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles. Mitsotakis has made special reference to the know-how provided by Berlin to Ankara for the German-designed Type 214 submarine and for the anaerobic propulsion (AIP) systems. There is similar cooperation between Berlin and Ankara in the production of the integrated program of Leopard tank (2A4). Berlin also provides significant technological assistance in the production of the Korkut medium-range anti-aircraft system (Rheinmetall type), as well as PorSav missiles.

Read more …

One day, when it’s too late, we’ll acknowledge that it’s all one system of interconnected and co-dependent entities.

Soil Fungi Act Like A Support Network For Trees (Folio)

Being highly connected to a strong social network has its benefits. Now a new University of Alberta study is showing the same goes for trees, thanks to their underground neighbours. The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, is the first to show that the growth of adult trees is linked to their participation in fungal networks living in the forest soil.Though past research has focused on seedlings, these findings give new insight into the value of fungal networks to older trees—which are more environmentally beneficial for functions like capturing carbon and stabilizing soil erosion. “Large trees make up the bulk of the forest, so they drive what the forest is doing,” said researcher Joseph Birch, who led the study for his PhD thesis in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.

When they colonize the roots of a tree, fungal networks act as a sort of highway, allowing water, nutrients and even the compounds that send defence signals against insect attacks to flow back and forth among the trees. The network also helps nutrients flow to resource-limited trees “like family units that support one another in times of stress,” Birch noted. Cores taken from 350 Douglas firs in British Columbia showed that annual tree ring growth was related to the extent of fungal connections a tree had with other trees. “They had much higher growth than trees that had only a few connections.” The research also showed that trees with more connections to many unique fungi had much greater growth than those with only one or two connections.

“We found that the more connected an adult tree is, the more it has significant growth advantages, which means the network could really influence large-scale important interactions in the forest, like carbon storage. If you have this network that is helping trees grow faster, that helps sequester more carbon year after year.”

Read more …

 

 

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

 

Oct 232020
 


Pablo Picasso Nude, Green Leaves and Bust 1932

 

Senate Demands Hunter Biden Turn Over A Mountain Of Evidence (ZH)
Biden Campaign Implies Hunter’s Ex-Biz Partners Are Russian Assets (ZH)
Bobulinski’s Statement In Full (DM)
Report on Biden Activities with China (Balding)
Fourth Turning Election Year Crisis (Jim Quinn)
Iran Diplomatic Protest Over ‘Absurd’ Accusation Of US Election Meddling (RT)
Asia Suffering ‘Worst Recession In Living Memory’ (BBC)
The Women Who Brought Down Greece’s Golden Dawn (G.)
What Evil Lurks (John Michael Greer)
Mask-Wearing Study Rejected By Journals Not ‘Brave’ Enough To Publish (RT)
Climate Scientists Fly “Significantly” More Than Other Researchers (BNE)
Edward Snowden Granted Permanent Residency In Russia (RT)

 

 

Inevitably, everyone thinks their side won the debate. Here’s a few Twitter polls, but it would be no problem finding some that point in the opposite direction. Because journalism has died in America.

 

 

 

The real winner:

 

 

 

12 days. Where is Hunter?

Senate Demands Hunter Biden Turn Over A Mountain Of Evidence (ZH)

Senate investigators have demanded that Hunter Biden turn over a mountain of evidence following bombshell emails and text messages which appear to show he and his business partners engaging in an international influence-peddling scheme while his father was Vice President of the United States, according to CBS News’ Catherine Herridge – who brought receipts as usual. “According to recent reports that published emails allegedly from your client’s laptop, the Committees have identified your client as an individual involved in one or more of these business arrangements or financial transactions,” reads a Wednesday letter from Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley.

“As part of the ongoing efforts to validate and verify the information in those emails, the Committees request that your client provide all records related to any of your client’s business dealings—including, but not limited, to bank records, wire transfers, account balances, gifts, business transactions, travel records—with Joe Biden, James Biden, Ye Jianming, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, Zang Jian Jun, Gongwen Dong, Mervyn Yan, Gabriel Popoviciu, or any other associates regarding CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd or any other transactions related to business in Romania, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Czech Republic, or any other countries.” Biden’s lawyers have until Friday to comply.

Over the last week, alleged emails, text messages and compromising photographs from Hunter Biden’s laptop and his former business partners reveal that Joe Biden was directly involved in Hunter’s business dealings, and appears to have directly profited from them. The deals span several countries, from Ukraine – where Joe was ‘introduced’ to a representative from energy giant Burisma before strong-arming the Ukrainian government into firing their chief prosecutor who was investigating the company, to China, where a top Chinese official offered the Biden family a $5 million “interest-free” loan, to Russia, where Hunter took $3.5 million from the former mayor of Moscow’s ex-wife.

Tucker Hunter

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“..if the Biden campaign says that the Hunter scandal is “Russian misinformation,” then his ex-business partners must be Russian operatives..”

Biden Campaign Implies Hunter’s Ex-Biz Partners Are Russian Assets (ZH)

Ahead of tonight’s presidential debate, the Biden campaign has drawn a red line in the sand on the Hunter Biden pay-for-play scandal, insisting that “If we see tonight from Donald Trump these attacks on Vice President Biden’s family, I think we need to be very, very clear that what he’s doing here is amplifying Russian misinformation.” To review – the undisputed contents of a laptop alleged to be Hunter Biden’s were published by the New York Post last week – after a Delaware computer repair shop owner saw troubling content on at least one laptop dropped off by Biden (who signed a work order). In addition to photos of Hunter with a crack pipe in his mouth and what Rudy Giuliani said are numerous pictures of young girls in compromising situations and one which is “out-and-out pornography,” Hunter’s alleged laptop, which the Biden camp hasn’t disputed the authenticity of, contains evidence that Joe Biden was deeply involved in Hunter’s international business dealings, contrary to past claims of non-involvement.


And while pundits and ‘former intelligence officials’ say this smells like a Russian disinformation operation – there is exactly zero evidence that it is. Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, explicitly stated that the laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” while the FBI – which sat on the laptop evidence for a year (which would have exonerated Trump and immediately ended the impeachment proceedings) also said it’s not a Russian op. But wait, there’s much more… Forget the laptop for a second. Two ex-business partners of Hunter Biden’s have released text and email evidence, along with formal statements, attesting to Joe Biden’s involvement in Hunter’s business dealings. Ergo, if the Biden campaign says that the Hunter scandal is “Russian misinformation,” then his ex-business partners must be Russian operatives, no?

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Tony Bobulinski will hand over a ton of evidence to the Senate Committee(s) today.

Bobulinski’s Statement In Full (DM)

My name is Tony Bobulinski. The facts set forth below are true and accurate; they are not any form of domestic or foreign disinformation. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and offensive. I am the recipient of the email published seven days ago by the New York Post which showed a copy to Hunter Biden and Rob Walker. That email is genuine. This afternoon I received a request from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and the Senate Committee on Finance requesting all documents relating to my business affairs with the Biden family as well as various foreign entities and individuals. I have extensive relevant records and communications and I intend to produce those items to both Committees in the immediate future.


I am the grandson of a 37 year Army Intelligence officer, the son of a 20+ year career Naval Officer and the brother of a 28 year career Naval Flight Officer. I myself served our country for 4 years and left the Navy as LT Bobulinski. I held a high level security clearance and was an instructor and then CTO for Naval Nuclear Power Training Command. I take great pride in the time my family and I served this country. I am also not a political person. What few campaign contributions I have made in my life were to Democrats. If the media and big tech companies had done their jobs over the past several weeks I would be irrelevant in this story. Given my long standing service and devotion to this great country, I could no longer allow my family’s name to be associated or tied to Russian disinformation or implied lies and false narratives dominating the media right now.

After leaving the military I became an institutional investor investing extensively around the world and on every continent. I have traveled to over 50 countries. I believe, hands down, we live in the greatest country in the world. What I am outlining is fact. I know it is fact because I lived it. I am the CEO of Sinohawk Holdings which was a partnership between the Chinese operating through CEFC/Chairman Ye and the Biden family. I was brought into the company to be the CEO by James Gilliar and Hunter Biden. The reference to ‘the Big Guy’ in the much publicized May 13, 2017 email is in fact a reference to Joe Biden. The other ‘JB’ referenced in that email is Jim Biden, Joe’s brother.

Hunter Biden called his dad ‘the Big Guy’ or ‘my Chairman,’ and frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals that we were discussing. I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business. I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true, because it wasn’t just Hunter’s business, they said they were putting the Biden family name and its legacy on the line. I realized the Chinese were not really focused on a healthy financial ROI. They were looking at this as a political or influence investment. Once I realized that Hunter wanted to use the company as his personal piggy bank by just taking money out of it as soon as it came from the Chinese, I took steps to prevent that from happening.

The Johnson Report connected some dots in a way that shocked me — it made me realize the Bidens had gone behind my back and gotten paid millions of dollars by the Chinese, even though they told me they hadn’t and wouldn’t do that to their partners. I would ask the Biden family to address the American people and outline the facts so I can go back to being irrelevant — and so I am not put in a position to have to answer those questions for them. I don’t have a political ax to grind; I just saw behind the Biden curtain and I grew concerned with what I saw. The Biden family aggressively leveraged the Biden family name to make millions of dollars from foreign entities even though some were from communist controlled China. God Bless America!!!!

Bobulinski

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Can’t do this justice in the Debt Rattle format. Christopher Balding -certainly not a Trump supporter- has received a report from his Chinese connections (not the gov’t). Zero Hedge has a good write-up.

Report on Biden Activities with China (Balding)

Lost among the salacious revelations about laptop provenance is the more mundane reality of influence and money of major United States political figures. Ill informed accusations of Russian hacking and disinformation face the documented reality of a major Chinese state financial partnership with the children of major political figures. A report by an Asian research firm raises worrying questions about the financial links between China and Hunter Biden. Beginning just before Joe Bidens ascendancy to the Vice Presidency, Hunter Biden was travelling to Beijing meeting with Chinese financial institutions and political figures would ultimately become his investors. Finalized in 2013, the investment partnership included money from the Chinese government, social security, and major state-owned banks a veritable who’s who of Chinese state finance.


It is not simply the state money that should cause concern but the structures and deals that took place. Most investment in specific projects came from state owned entities and flowed into state backed projects or enterprises. Even the deals speak to the worst of cronyism. The Hunter Biden investment firm share of a copper mine in the Congo was guaranteed with assets put at risk by the larger copper company to ensure deal flow to Hunter’s firm. In another instance, Bank of China working on an IPO in Hong Kong gave its share allocation to the BHR investment partnership. They were able to do this because even though the Hunter Biden firm completed no notable work on the IPO, it is counted as a subsidiary of the Bank of China. The Hunter Biden Chinese investment partnership is literally invested in by the Chinese state and a subsidiary of the Bank of China owned by the Chinese Ministry of Finance.

The entire arrangement speaks to Chinese state interests. Meetings were held at locations that in China speak to the welcoming of foreign dignitaries or state to state relations. The Chinese organizations surrounding Hunter Biden are known intelligence and influence operatives to the United States government. The innocuous names like Chinese People’s Institute for Foreign Affairs exist to “…carry out government-directed policies and cooperative initiatives with influential foreigners without being perceived as a formal part of the Chinese government.” Interestingly the CPIFA is under the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When the investment partnership was struck in 2013, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was Yang Jiechi. Yang would have been very familiar with Hunter Biden from his days in Washington as the Chinese Ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2005 during which he met regularly with Joe Biden chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


Today the same individual who oversaw institutions helping shepherd Hunter’s investment partnership as the Minister of Foreign Affairs is Xi Jinping’s right hand man on foreign affairs and member of the powerful Politburo. Most worrying is the financial leverage this gives the Chinese state over a direct member of the Biden family. Despite the widely reported $1-1.5 billion of investment the reality is likely much higher. A co-founder of the investment firm reports the total assets under management as $6.5 billion. While this number cannot be completely replicated, given that two deal alone were worth in excess of $1.6 billion this number is not unrealistic at all. A 2% annual fee on assets under management would generate $130 million annually. Add in the 20% fee on capital gains the firm would recognize and it is not difficult to see Hunter’s stake being worth in excess of $50 million.

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“..a completely captured corporate media has turned a blind eye to the truth as they have acted as accomplices of the coup culprits..”

Fourth Turning Election Year Crisis (Jim Quinn)

“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

[..] The dystopian use of disinformation, false narratives, blatant lies and propaganda by the totalitarians constituting the Deep State, as their never-ending coup attempt against a duly elected president attests, will be the catalyst for the next vicious phase of this Fourth Turning. For the last four years the Russiagate coup has dogged Trump, as Obama, Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Mueller and a myriad of lesser co-conspirators have propagated the Big Lie to cover-up their traitorous actions of trying to overthrow Trump.

An honest truth-seeking press with unbiased journalists would have uncovered this conspiracy and revealed the truthful facts to a concerned public. Instead, a completely captured corporate media has turned a blind eye to the truth as they have acted as accomplices of the coup culprits. Just as evil is the suppression of truth through censorship and keeping silent regarding the truth. Huxley understood how totalitarian propagandists operated decades before the current batch of Silicon Valley authoritarians initiated their national truth repression scheme.

“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” – Aldous Huxley

A perfect example of this is my local ABC news affiliate doing an hour long broadcast last night with absolutely no mention of the Hunter Biden – Joe Biden pay for play scandal. The truth dies in silence. The left-wing media dominated by six mega-corporations and social media billionaire titans (Bezos, Zuckerberg, Dorsey) have colluded with other left wing billionaires (Soros, Bloomberg) and the traitorous Deep Staters (Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Clinton) to bring down a sitting president and now to memory hole proof of Joe Biden corruption and his son’s illegal dealings with foreign enemies.

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“Unlike the US, Iran does not interfere in other country’s elections. The world has been witnessing US’ own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level..”

Iran Diplomatic Protest Over ‘Absurd’ Accusation Of US Election Meddling (RT)

Tehran has denied that it is trying to interfere in the US presidential contest, arguing that unlike Washington, it doesn’t involve itself in foreign elections. Curiously, the US says Iran is both trying to damage and help Trump. Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who serves as a diplomatic go-between for the two rivals, to file a formal complaint against Washington’s “baseless” claim that the Islamic Republic has been meddling in the upcoming election. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced on Wednesday that Iran and Russia have allegedly obtained US voter data as part of a purported plot to “communicate false information to registered voters” in hopes of “causing confusion” ahead of the American electoral contest. He went on to claim that Iran was behind a series of threatening emails that were sent to Democratic voters, apparently in an attempt to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”

A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations dismissed the allegations as completely unfounded and quipped that Tehran would never mirror Washington’s own tactics. “Unlike the US, Iran does not interfere in other country’s elections. The world has been witnessing US’ own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level,” Alireza Miryousefi said. He described the claims as “absurd” and said Tehran has no interest in trying to influence the outcome of the contest between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “The US must end its malign and dangerous accusations against Iran,” the spokesman added.

The 2020 election has been fraught with allegations of foreign meddling, following debunked claims of Russian “collusion” with the Trump campaign in 2016. US intelligence agencies have accused Tehran, Moscow and Beijing of trying to tip the scales for their purportedly preferred candidates. Ratcliffe said on Wednesday that Russia has not taken any concrete actions to interfere in the election, but instead has only secured access to some voter information “just as they had in 2016.”

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Anywhere but China.

Asia Suffering ‘Worst Recession In Living Memory’ (BBC)

Asia Pacific is set to recover from its worst recession in living memory, the IMF says. Growth forecasts for the region have been downgraded again, this time from -1.6% to -2.2% for this year. However, the glimmer of hope is for a bounceback of almost 7% next year, according to the IMF. China will play a big part in the region’s growth next year, with its latest data showing continued recovery from the downturn caused by the virus. But there are still many black clouds on the horizon as countries, including India, the Philippines and Malaysia, continue to battle with Covid-19 infections. “The scars will be deep,” said the IMF, pointing to lower investment which will have a knock-on effect by the middle of the decade.


Not only are economies in the region dealing with the fallout from the pandemic, but they are also affected by the US-China trade war, and the growing hostilities between the two economic superpowers. Speaking to BBC’s Asia Business Report on Thursday, Jonathan Ostry, the IMF’s acting director for Asia and Pacific, said: “This is something, for a very export-orientated region, that is going to be a big risk going forward. “We worry about decoupling of major technology hubs – not just in China and the US but more broadly, which would have the affect of diminishing hi-tech trade leading to inefficient production.” Earlier this week, China released its data for the July to September quarter which showed economic growth of 4.9% compared to the same quarter last year. China is seen as “a rare positive figure in a sea of negatives” by the IMF.

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Real girl power. Love it.

The Women Who Brought Down Greece’s Golden Dawn (G.)

Behind the bench, before her mostly male audience, as the marathon trial of Golden Dawn entered its last act, supreme court justice Maria Lepenioti did what she has done every week: she kept the peace. It has not been easy. Emotions have often run high. Even as the curtain was about to come down on proceedings with a ruling on whether those convicted should be jailed pending appeal, the Greek judge, both laconic and low-key, has had to pull off an extraordinary balancing act presiding over a case that has put more Nazi leaders and sympathisers in the dock than at any time since Nuremberg. In her court every word has counted. There has been no tolerance for the extreme rhetoric that fuelled the neo-fascist group’s spectacular rise. Nor for jibes from the other side.

“Day after day, session after session, she has managed to keep the harmony,” says Giota Tessi, a reporter with the centre left Syntaktwn paper who has observed the proceedings almost since they began in April 2015. “Her knowledge of the case file is incredible. She has been a model of restraint but she has also been very aware of the weight of the moment.” Historians will look back at the women who played a seminal role in Golden Dawn’s downfall. Under Lepenioti’s seemingly expressionless gaze, the three-member tribunal has gone where many in Greece had formerly feared to tread. After its landmark verdict that the far-right, ultra-nationalist party was a criminal organisation bent on extinguishing enemies real or perceived, sentences have been delivered that will almost certainly ensure its leadership remain behind bars for years to come.

The party’s founder, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and the tattooed macho militants who comprised his inner circle, all received 13-year prison terms. With the last chapter in the story of Europe’s most violent political force finally written, it will not be lost on the protagonists that punishment, in the end, was meted out by a woman. “It’s undeniable that in this case justice was female,” said Maria Stratigaki, professor of gender studies at Panteion University, noting the number of female prosecutors and investigators who also participated in drawing up the dossier against Golden Dawn. “For a party whose ideology is based on male supremacy, whose worldview is so militaristic, it’s humiliating and will hurt.” [..] “Justice stepped in where others should have stepped before,” Stratigaki told the Guardian. “And our justice system is full of female judges because it is they who do better at exams and rise to the top.”

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Haven’t posted any Archdruid in quite a while.

What Evil Lurks (John Michael Greer)

First we need to encounter Shadow #3, the one that Swiss psychologist Carl Jung anatomized in so troubling a fashion. Jung, as I hope most of my readers are aware, started out as a disciple of Sigmund Freud but broke with him in 1913 over basic disagreements over the nature and meaning of the unconscious mind. To sum those up very briefly, Freud insisted that the unconscious was simply the instinctual, animal mind—the id, in Freudian terms—which was mostly interested in sex, and had to be disciplined and controlled by the ego in obedience to the conscience, the voice of the superego.

Jung found in his own work with himself and his patients that the unconscious mind could not be summed up so simply, and at first saw the unconscious as containing two layers. One of them consisted of those things the ego didn’t want to recognize in itself, and so was entirely personal in nature: the personal unconscious, as Jung called it. The second layer consisted of contents that were not personal, had never been conscious in the first place, and formed the deep structure of the human psyche. This layer he termed the collective unconscious.

Until the start of the 1930s—that decade again—that was Jung’s basic theory. What happened then was that he traced the roots of the conscious self and the personal unconscious right down into the collective unconscious. The basic structures of the collective unconscious, he came to see, were the archetypes: a set of roles or functions that were hardwired into the human mind at a deep level, and served as expressions in consciousness of the basic biological instincts we inherit from our animal ancestors. Once you reach a certain stage of sexual maturity, for example, your mind is hardwired to look for a lover: that’s one of the most obvious archetypes, the one Jung called the anima or animus (depending on your gender and sexual orientation).

For all practical purposes, once it’s triggered by some complex set of psychological stimuli, the anima or animus functions as a prolonged case of beer goggles, projecting itself onto the other person and making them look just like the woman or man of your dreams, no matter how faint the resemblance might be in the eyes of your friends. That’s how all archetypes work: they scoop up the relevant contents of your mind, constellate them (that is, fit them into the archetypal pattern), and project that onto the nearest available target. What Jung came to realize as he pursued his investigations into archetypes is that what he’d been calling the conscious self and the personal unconscious were also archetypes. Who you think you are is a construct made up of all the things you think you ought to be, constellated around the archetype Jung called the ego.

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Mask mandates will come forward everywhere as a big issue.

Mask-Wearing Study Rejected By Journals Not ‘Brave’ Enough To Publish (RT)

A large-scale study in Denmark that sought to determine if masks help stop the spread of Covid-19 has been rejected by several prestigious journals. The authors hinted that their findings were inconvenient to the status quo. The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Medical Association Journal all turned down the paper, Danish media reported on Thursday. The study, which began in late April, involved 6,000 Danes, half of whom were asked to wear masks at all times in public places. The other half were selected as a control group and were instructed not to cover their faces. After a month, participants were tested for Covid-19 as well as for antibodies against the virus. The study’s researchers have remained tight-lipped about their findings, but they’ve dropped plenty of clues that suggest it was the paper’s conclusion, not its methodology, that led to the journals’ rejections.

“We can’t start discussing what they are dissatisfied with. For if so, we must also explain what the study showed. And we do not want to discuss this until it has been published,” Christian Torp-Pedersen, professor and chief physician at the research department at North Zealand Hospital, told Denmark’s Berlingske daily. [..] Denmark currently requires masks to be worn on public transport, as well as in bars and restaurants when patrons leave their table. There is a raging debate worldwide over mask mandates that purport to halt the transmission of coronavirus. Japanese researchers recently published a study that found that masks can offer some degree of protection from airborne Covid-19 particles, but noted that even professional-grade face coverings can’t completely eliminate the risk of contagion.

Curiously, at the start of the pandemic, many health officials and organizations urged against widespread mask use in the general public, describing such policies as ineffective. For example, in a March interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Covid-19 task force, insisted there was no reason for seemingly healthy people to be “walking around in a mask.” At the time, his views reflected a wide consensus among medical institutions and professionals, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the US surgeon general. Fauci, the WHO, and the CDC later reversed their recommendations and supported mask mandates. However, many have argued that there is still inadequate data to support mandatory mask-wearing. Deborah Cohen, the medically qualified UK correspondent of BBC2’s Newsnight, reported in July that the WHO committee reviewing the organization’s mask recommendation was motivated by political lobbying, not new scientific evidence.

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Got to love it.

Climate Scientists Fly “Significantly” More Than Other Researchers (BNE)

The large, international survey of more than 1,400 university researchers was carried out by the UK Centre for Climate and Social Transformation (CAST), which is coordinated by Cardiff University. A follow-up experiment with more than 350 researchers found that providing information about the impacts of aviation and support for workplace policies increases intentions to fly less. The large-scale study—the first of its kind to survey climate academics about their travel for conferences, fieldwork and meetings—is published in the journal Global Environmental Change. Director of CAST Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, who led the study, said the findings were “unexpected” but said it also suggested “knowledge alone is not enough” to tackle global warming.

“Our findings highlight that climate scientists, like many other professionals, can struggle to square their environmental commitments with competing professional and personal demands, and academia itself is not doing enough to change this culture,” she said. “Crucially, our research demonstrates the need for policies and ways of working to encourage and enable low-carbon travel and use of virtual alternatives—something which is already happening in light of COVID-19. “Travel restrictions have required businesses, including universities, to replace a lot of physical travel with virtual interaction, such as online conferencing. These virtual options can be just as effective as face-to-face meetings, but at a fraction of the cost, as well as being more accessible for those with caring commitments.”

Flying is one of the most carbon-emitting actions and there have been growing calls from both within and outside the research community for scientists, and in particular climate researchers, to do more to curb their flying so their crucial message on the need to reduce aviation emissions is not undermined. This study found “significantly” higher levels of flying among climate change researchers for work than researchers from other disciplines. The data indicated climate experts take about five flights per year, while non-climate researchers took four. Climate and sustainability experts conduct more fieldwork, but even accounting for this, their international travel was still higher. It also found that levels of flying rose with job seniority.

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More good news from Moscow.

Edward Snowden Granted Permanent Residency In Russia (RT)

Seven years after he landed in Moscow and received sanctuary from Washington’s attempts to silence him, US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted a Russian permanent residency permit. Snowden has been living in exile in Russia since 2013 when he blew the lid off unprecedented mass surveillance operations conducted by US Intelligence. The Americans have demanded his extradition to face charges for violating the Espionage Act ever since. “Snowden was granted an open-ended residence permit earlier today,” his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena said Thursday.


The 37 year-old former CIA and NSA contractor faces the prospect of up to 30 years in prison if convicted but his extradition is unlikely any time soon, especially given his newly-minted residency status. Lately, the whistleblower has been engaged in a battle over royalties from his memoir ‘Permanent Record,’ published last September. Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that the US government may seize the $5.2 million in book royalties Snowden garnered from sales of the book.

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Oct 082020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1944

 

Pence Responds to Charlottesville Very Fine People Hoax at VP Debate (Pollak)
Trump: All US Troops Should Be Withdrawn From Afghanistan By Christmas (JTN)
Mike Flynn Seeks To Remove Judge Overseeing Case, Alleging Bias (JTN)
“A Means Of Distracting The Public” (Turley)
Despite MSM And Establishment Bias Against Trump, He’ll Still Win (Feierstein)
Trump Orders Russiagate Documents Declassified (Ray McGovern)
Is Warren Buffett the Wallet Behind Black Lives Matter? (Tablet)
The Constitutional Reckoning of State Lockdown Orders (AIER)
Golden Dawn Leader And Ex-MPs Found Guilty In Landmark Trial (G.)
Why Did Golden Dawn’s Neo-Nazi Leaders Get Away With It For So Long? (G.)
Reporters Claim Facebook is Censoring Information on Julian Assange Case (MPN)
Movie-Going Could ‘Become Extinct’ Warns Director (BBC)

 

 

Didn’t see the VP debate, but did see the reactions, tons of them. Pretty sure nobody really listened, and nobody learned a thing. Because those reactions are as split along party lines as the whole country is. Dems think Kamala did great, Reps think Pence demolished her.

All perfectly exemplified by the “very fine people” hoax. Both Biden and Kamala brought it up again. There is no clearer illustration of America’s divide than them being able to use a long deconstructed line again and again. Their supporters simply haven’t seen or read how ludicrous the whole thing is. Because their media won’t tell them. This happens on both sides, obviously.

Another example is the very strange play around fracking, where both Biden and Harris have in the past said they would ban it, and now say they won’t. Apparently this is because of the battle for Pennsylvania. Opportunism.

 

 

Banning fracking

 

 

 

 

“Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together ..”

There are people who believe that? Wow. Trump brings the people together, in that everyone focuses on him. But Biden?

Pence Responds to Charlottesville Very Fine People Hoax at VP Debate (Pollak)

At long last, the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax has been deflated on the national stage. At the vice presidential debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) attempted to repeat the false claim that President Trump failed to condemn white supremacists on the debate stage, and the false claim that Trump called neo-Nazis in the 2017 Charlottesville riots “very fine people.” Harris said: “Last week, the President of the United States took a debate stage in front of 70 million Americans and refused to condemn white supremacists [sic].” She then proceeded to twist Trump’s words in which told the Proud Boys — whom Joe Biden had brought up — to “stand down and stand by,” using terms similar to those moderator Chris Wallace had used in his question prompt.

Harris then recited the infamous hoax, among other hoaxes: “He called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” [sic]. He instituted, as his first act, a “Muslim ban” [sic]. He — on the issue of Charlottesville, where people were peacefully protesting [sic] the need for racial justice, where a young woman* was killed, and on the other side, there were neo-Nazis, carrying tiki torches, shouting racial epithets, antisemitic slurs, and Donald Trump, when asked about it, said: “There were fine people on both sides.” This is who we have as the President of the United States — and America, you deserve better. Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together and recognizes the beauty in our diversity, and the fact that we have so much more in common than what separates us.”

Wednesday night’s moderator, Susan Page of USA Today, gave Pence a chance to reply. He said: “You know, I think this is one of the things that makes people dislike the media so much in this country, Susan, is that you selectively edit — just like Senator Harris did — the comments that President Trump and I and others on our side of the aisle make. I mean — Senator Harris conveniently omitted, after the president made comments about people on either side of the debate over monuments, he condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, and has done so repeatedly. You’re concerned that he “doesn’t condemn neo-Nazis”? President Trump has Jewish grandchildren! His daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. This is a president who respects and cherishes all of the American people.” Pence was correct. Trump said the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville should be “condemned totally.”

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Let’s go!

Trump: All US Troops Should Be Withdrawn From Afghanistan By Christmas (JTN)

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted that the United States should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by Christmas. “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” the president tweeted. Reuters reported that earlier on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that the U.S. presently has fewer than 5,000 troops in Afghanistan and will decrease the level to 2,500 by early 2021. Foreign forces are slated to depart from Afghanistan by May of next year in connection with an agreement struck between America and the Taliban, if a ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government sticks, Military Times reports.

“war made the state, and the state made war”
– Charles Tilly

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The judge was quoting Rachel Maddow?!

Mike Flynn Seeks To Remove Judge Overseeing Case, Alleging Bias (JTN)

In a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud, lawyers for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday filed a motion to disqualify U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan from considering the request to dismiss their client’s case, arguing the jurist has demonstrated “contempt and disdain for the defense.” The filing by attorneys Sidney Powell and Jesse Binnall came after the defense and judge clashed several times at a hearing last week. It also follows Flynn, retire Army lieutenant general, having tried to get an appeals court to issue a writ of mandamus forcing Sullivan to immediately dismiss the case. The defense won an initial ruling by a three-judge panel before it was reversed by the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals after Sullivan appealed.


In the new motion, the defense lawyers argued that Sullivan met the standard for dismissal or recusal because he created the appearance of bias “when he actively litigated against General Flynn” in the appeals court. “He has since far exceeded it – rising to the level of demonstrating actual bias,” the lawyers wrote, citing Sullivan’s comments during last week’s hearing. “The court’s contempt and disdain for the defense was palpable throughout the hearing on September 29, 2020, including when defense counsel made an oral motion for his immediate disqualification, which he refused to allow even to be fully stated for the record.”

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“When asked about this referral involving a candidate for the presidency, then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that it “didn’t ring a bell.”

“A Means Of Distracting The Public” (Turley)

My interest in this story is not simply the serious underlying allegation but the lack of coverage by major networks or media outlets. This was clearly released at this time for political purposes, but that does not make it a non-story. We have often discussed concerns over the active effort by many in the media to downplay stories that would either help President Donald Trump or hurt the Democrats in the upcoming elections. This would seem such a case. Whether this is true or a complete fabrication, it should be major news. In the meantime, the responses from Clinton allies have not addressed the substance of the document before simply dismissed any inquiries. Brennan’s handwritten notes would seem extremely serious on their face. It certainly indicates that Brennan considered the issue sufficiently serious to brief the President of the United States on July 28th.

The notes state “We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED]. . . CITE [summarizing] alleged approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.” There is also a notation reading “Any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia” and margin references to “JC,” “Denis,” and “Susan.” If Brennan thought this was serious enough to brief the President, shouldn’t the media consider this sufficiently serious to investigate and report? This release further supports a newly-declassified document with the Senate Judiciary Committee revealing that, in September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral on Hillary Clinton purportedly approving “a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections” in order to distract the public from her email scandal.

When asked about this referral involving a candidate for the presidency, then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that it “didn’t ring a bell.” Once again, my initial interest is in the utter blackout on the story. This would seem a major story regardless of the ultimate findings. If these notes have been fabricated or misrepresented, it would show a breathtaking effort to lie to the voters before the election. If these notes are genuine, it would indicate that the FBI was aware of an effort by the Democratic presidential candidate to tag Trump with a Russian collusion scandal. We know that Clinton’s campaign funded the Steele dossier and that Steele shopped the dossier with the media to try to generate coverage to influence the election.

Throughout the campaign, and for many weeks after, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the dossier that was later used to secure a secret surveillance warrant against Trump associates during the Obama administration. Journalists later discovered that the Clinton campaign hid the payments to Fusion as a “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel at the time said that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias had “vigorously” denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’”

Times reporter Maggie Haberman likewise wrote: “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.” Even when Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was questioned by Congress on the matter, he denied any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who helped devise contract. Later, confronted with the evidence, Clinton and her campaign finally admitted that the dossier was a campaign-funded document that was pushed by Steele and others to the media.

Ron Paul: The Democrats have been caught

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“Biden scoffed and rambled non-sequiturs that had nothing to do with the questions asked, and the impudent ‘debate moderator’ Chris Wallace let Biden slide.”

Despite MSM And Establishment Bias Against Trump, He’ll Still Win (Feierstein)

A dark week has seen the MSM turn a blind eye to Democrat failings and exaggerate the extent and severity of Donald Trump’s illness. But I remain convinced that he will have the last laugh on November 3 when he is re-elected. As the battle for the White House intensifies, major storylines emerged over the last week that should have a major role in deciding the outcome of the election, but simply aren’t being given serious coverage by the MSM. The first came in the form of Joe Biden, a presidential ghost candidate who appeared on a debate stage refusing to answer any substantive policy questions. Instead of calling him out on this, the media ran cover for him by refusing to ask any probative questions.

Secondly, as Biden was proclaiming himself ‘the Democratic Party’, Congress was disclosing that a $3.5-million payment was made from the widow of Moscow’s ex-mayor for the benefit of his son Hunter Biden. More information also came to light regarding Hunter Biden’s employment by Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma. And thirdly, previously unseen documents were declassified that allegedly show Hillary Clinton was behind the Russiagate scandal, and that people in the US cannot trust the FBI. This is all dark, very dark. Not even Hollywood or Fellini could write a script like this. During the most contentious presidential debate in a hundred years, Biden refused to answer whether he or his administration would set objectives to end the US Senate filibuster, stack the Supreme Court, add four senators to the US Senate or end the Electoral College.

He even refused to identify his picks for the Supreme Court of the United States. Biden scoffed and rambled non-sequiturs that had nothing to do with the questions asked, and the impudent ‘debate moderator’ Chris Wallace let Biden slide. The US Senate released documents showing that Hunter Biden received a $3.5-million wire-transfer from Elena Baturina, the widow of Moscow’s ex-mayor Yury Luzhkov, who was fired for corruption. When confronted about this, Biden stumbled, repeating a lie: “That’s a lie…It has been debunked.”

No, Joe, it happened – as did Hunter’s employment by Burisma holdings, one of Ukraine’s most controversial corporations. Hunter, with no experience in the energy sector, was paid nearly one million dollars by Burisma. Why? Was it buying influence from the Obama administration’s vice president who was charged with distributing a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine? A vice president who boasted on national TV about threatening to withhold that billion dollars if the prosecutor investigating Biden’s son and Burisma was not fired. This is real banana republic stuff.

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“54 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the CIA and FBI demanded more time to decide what secrets to keep hiding – and a chastened President Trump bowed to their power.”

Trump Orders Russiagate Documents Declassified (Ray McGovern)

Home alone yesterday evening, and apparently emboldened by the steroids he is now taking, President Donald Trump sent out a storm of Tweets that included a unprecedentedly bold challenge to the FBI and CIA to stop their foot dragging and declassify documents related to Russiagate and Hillary Clinton. It was probably his plummeting poll numbers as much as the steroids that accounted for his rhetorical forcefulness, but Trump has now openly thrown down the gauntlet to the National Security State. Yes, he is the president, but he is not likely to prevail. What the president-elect didn’t know on Jan. 3, 2017, when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer publicly warned that the intelligence community “has six ways to Sunday” to thwart a president, he does know now.

Trump understands that taking on the FBI and CIA is inherently risky. His public upbraiding and instructions to them on Twitter should be seen as a sign of desperation. Trump is likely to come across as impulsive and impotent in the weeks remaining before the election because — if past is precedent — the security agencies will probably double-down on slow-walking his declassification demands. The stakes are high for senior officials of the FBI, CIA and Justice Department. Remember: they fully expected Hillary Clinton to win in 2016; they took liberties with the law to make sure she did; and, when she didn’t, they had to hustle to hide their tracks.

[..] On Oct. 21, 2017, Trump tweeted that in accordance with a law passed by Congress, “I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.” Six days later, came a headline in The Washington Post: “JFK files: The promise of revelations derailed by CIA, FBI.” Trump’s decision to delay release of 30,000 of the potentially most sensitive files for another six months frustrated historians. The issue was supposed to be revisited in 180 days, but nothing further was heard of it. Thus, 54 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the CIA and FBI demanded more time to decide what secrets to keep hiding – and a chastened President Trump bowed to their power.

It will take more than a presidential Tweet to get recalcitrant players like FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel, and the powerful institutions they lead, to comply. Wray has been a major stumbling block and will remain inclined to give priority to protecting his former colleagues. Haspel, who reportedly was directly involved in the off-shore Russiagate operations from her perch as CIA chief of station, London, has her own derriere, as well as those of her fellow workers, to protect. Trump could have already fired both for slow-walking release of evidence. He could also fire them now, of course, but it is doubtful that, even on steroids, he would have the temerity to do so.

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The article says it’s Buffett’s son. Plus a lot of large companies.

Is Warren Buffett the Wallet Behind Black Lives Matter? (Tablet)

In July of 2013, the seeds of the most powerful protest movement of the modern era were planted. In a restless climate of nationwide demonstrations touched off by the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an activist named Alicia Garza uttered the phrase “Black lives matter.” A few months later, in October 2013, Garza took a job with an organization called the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the nonprofit immediately saw a dramatic increase in its funding from organizations tied to some of the wealthiest people in the world—people with names like Buffett, Soros, and Rockefeller.

This spring, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the movement became a global interest: Some 1.1 million individual donations worth an estimated $33 million flowed into its coffers. Large corporations, especially in Silicon Valley and retail, have been quick to follow suit, with brands like Square, Ubisoft, Google, Spanx, Tom’s Shoes, Lululemon, Nike, and Anastasia Beauty all making six- and seven-figure organizational pledges.

The received wisdom, echoing the official mythology around Black Lives Matter Global Network Inc.—co-founded by Garza along with fellow activists Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors—is that BLM is a grassroots movement that rose up organically out of the widespread rage sparked by viral videos of Black American men killed by police officers. According to this account, the political priorities of activists in Brooklyn screaming at cops and calling to defund the police have been fused with those of suburban moms in Peloton T-shirts, hand-painting signs with their kids using the BLM hashtags of large multinational conglomerates—an unusual union of protesters and the corporate boardroom spurred on by nothing more than everyone’s shared outrage over racism.

There is, however, another version of events, in which the heartfelt dedication to racial justice is only the forward-facing side of a more complicated movement. Behind the street level activism and emotional outpouring is a calculated machinery built by establishment money and power that has seized on racial politics, in which some of the biggest capitalists in the world are financially backing a group of self-described “trained Marxists”—a label that Cullors enthusiastically applies to herself and the group’s other co-founders.

These bedfellows, whose stories and fortunes are never publicly presented as related, are in reality intertwined under the umbrella of a fiscal sponsor named the International Development Exchange. A modestly endowed West Coast nonprofit with origins in the Peace Corps—which for decades supported local farmers, shepherds, and agricultural workers across the Global South—IDEX has, in the past six years, been transformed into two distinct new things: the infrastructure back end to the Black Lives Matter organization in the United States and also, at the very same time, an investment fund vehicle driven by recruited MBAs and finance experts seeking to leverage decades of on-the-ground grantee relationships for novel forms of potentially problematic lending instruments . And it did so with help from the family of one of the most famous American billionaires in history—the Oracle of Omaha himself.

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“This unilateral and unauthorized exercise of power without legislative oversight was what the court deemed unconstitutional.”

The Constitutional Reckoning of State Lockdown Orders (AIER)

On October 3rd NPR reported that the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency and the powers it granted. NPR writes: “In a 4-3 majority opinion, the state’s high court said she did not have that authority. “We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government– including its plenary police powers– and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely,” wrote Justice Stephen J. Markman on behalf of the majority.”

Governor Whitmer has been one of the more heavy-handed executive figures during the pandemic. One of her policies went as far as to ban the selling of gardening supplies in stores that were still permitted to stay open. More importantly, however, this court ruling was not the first of its kind but the third in a series of legal victories against lockdown orders. The first was a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that declared parts of Governor Tony Evers’ stay at home order unconstitutional and the second was by a federal court that struck down Governor Tom Wolf’s policies in Pennsylvania. There is no doubt that the governors across the country have gone off the constitutional deep end in response to Covid-19, exercising powers that are not only unprecedented but unproven.

These cases, notably in Michigan and Wisconsin, all share some important legal themes that may suggest the beginning of a constitutional reckoning for governors across America. Back in March, Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic, much like many others across the country. Unlike many other governors, hers was particularly strict and arbitrary. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, an organization that represented a number of healthcare firms in a suit against the state write: “One of the affected medical practices, Grand Health Partners, operates in the Grand Rapids area. It performs endoscopies and other elective surgeries, many of which were deemed nonessential by executive order. Due to the shutdown, many of their patients were not able to receive treatment and have suffered because of it.”

This is one of the many unintended consequences that come with policies such as stay at home orders and deeming certain businesses “nonessential.” Interestingly, this had little to do with the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling. Such claims would be justified under the equal protection clause guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. However, the court decided to take a different route. The court ruled that the governor lacked the very authority to continue her state of emergency. The Michigan legislature authorized the governor to declare a state of emergency in March but only until April 30. Governor Whitmer decided to invoke the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) of 1945 as well as the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to grant herself virtually unlimited power. This unilateral and unauthorized exercise of power without legislative oversight was what the court deemed unconstitutional.

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Good day for Greece. Because it took five years, many had doubted it would happen.

Golden Dawn Leader And Ex-MPs Found Guilty In Landmark Trial (G.)

A Greek court has delivered an overwhelming conviction against Golden Dawn, finding the neo-fascist party guilty of operating a criminal gang that brutally targeted opponents under the guise of being a political group. At the end of a trial launched more than five years ago, the three-member tribunal headed by presiding judge Maria Lepenioti, announced that seven of Golden Dawn’s leaders were culpable of directing the deadly organisation. Others were found guilty of the lesser charge of participating in the criminal gang. The judgement was met with jubilation by thousands who had gathered around the heavily guarded court complex ahead of the verdict chanting “Nazis belong to prison.” Many broke into spontaneous applause as news of the decision reached the street.

“This is a very good day for the anti-fascist movement globally,” said Petros Constantinou, a prominent anti-racist activist. “The decision will send a very important message to the far right in Europe. A conviction today is vital if we are to end the fascist threat. The evidence against them is overwhelming.” The hearing has been the biggest trial of neo-fascists since the prosecution of the Nazis at Nuremberg after the second world war. Two thousand police officers, many brought in as backup from the countryside amid fears of violent clashes between the protestors and far right supporters, surrounded the area as helicopters and drones flew overhead. The leftist former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who was in the crowd, said after years of sowing hate, poisoning Greek society and orchestrating murderous attacks, Golden Dawn fanatics would finally face justice.

“They are not innocent. We all know that,” he wrote on social media ahead of the three-member tribunal’s decision. “On Wednesday we ought to be there to shout it loud and clear. We owe it to the history of this country, we owe it to democracy, we owe it to our children.” The long-awaited verdict ends one of the longest court hearings in modern times. Golden Dawn’s entire leadership, including former MPs, were among 68 defendants accused of murder, weapons possession and operating a criminal gang while also masquerading as a political group. Those charged with directing the criminal organisation face sentences of up to 15 years in prison. If found guilty of additional crimes, the jail terms handed down by the criminal court are likely to be longer although justice officials said it may take several days of legal proceedings before they are formally announced.

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Countries with far-right regimes in their past always see remnants left over once that regime is toppled.

Why Did Golden Dawn’s Neo-Nazi Leaders Get Away With It For So Long? (G.)

In the end, the leader of a party whose supporters threatened “civil war” and to turn the skins of immigrants into lampshades could not even bring himself to face judgment in person. Nikolaos Michaloliakos, like other senior members of Golden Dawn, was absent from court in Athens yesterday as a judge read out a series of damning verdicts on the neo-Nazi party he leads. Golden Dawn, which shot to prominence amid Europe’s economic crisis a decade ago, and is responsible for a years-long campaign of violence and intimidation against immigrants, LGBTQ communities and political opponents, was found to be a criminal organisation.

Seven of the party’s former MPs, including Michaloliakos, have been found guilty of directing the organisation, while a range of members are guilty of crimes including murder, attempted murder and possession of weapons. Some now face sentences of up to 15 years in prison. It is the culmination of a lengthy court process that some campaigners have called the largest trial of Nazis since Nuremberg, triggered by the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist Greek rapper, in 2013 – at a time when the party was Greece’s third-largest political force. The trial, which lasted more than five years, has already effectively stopped Golden Dawn from operating. The verdict now offers Greece the chance to close a painful chapter in its recent history.

Born of the fascist milieu surrounding the far-right military dictatorship that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974, Golden Dawn was given its greatest opportunity by the global financial crash of 2008. As Greece struggled from a profound economic slump, and public anger grew at the remedy insisted on by the European Union – austerity – the party attracted unprecedented support. It chose familiar targets to blame for Greece’s predicament: immigrants and refugees, out-of-touch politicians and a global banking elite. But this far-right rhetoric was backed up by a paramilitary-style organisation that operated in parallel to the political party, and a cult-like devotion to Nazi beliefs. As Golden Dawn grew, assault squads of uniformed members, sometimes armed, sought to take over neighbourhoods in Greek towns and cities by attacking and intimidating parts of the local population. Much of the violence was carried out openly – yet for years it went unpunished.

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“I have never seen anything on this scale before. 90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange..”

Reporters Claim Facebook is Censoring Information on Julian Assange Case (MPN)

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and longtime confidant of Julian Assange, has been fastidiously reporting on the Australian publisher’s extradition hearing to the United States. Yet few people have been reading it. This, according to Murray, is because of a deliberate decision by online media giants to downplay or suppress discussion of the case. On his blog, Murray wrote that he usually receives around 50 percent of his readers from Twitter and 40 percent from Facebook links, but that has dropped to 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively during the hearing. While the February hearings sent around 200,000 readers to his site daily, now that figure is only 3,000.


To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline,” he added. Asked about the situation by former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, Murray explained that Anybody who is at all radical or takes any view of anything that is outwith the official establishment view gets used to occasional shadow banning, but I have never seen anything on this scale before.”“90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange,” he added. “I think it is as simple as that.”

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Theater owners say they can survive IF they are provided new movies to show.

Movie-Going Could ‘Become Extinct’ Warns Director (BBC)

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has said that movie-going is facing a real threat of extinction. Her new superhero movie has been delayed three times during the coronavirus pandemic. Jenkins is among dozens of top Hollywood directors appealing to the US government to provide a financial lifeline to cinemas. Her warning comes as cinemas in the UK are also struggling with a recent spate of delayed film releases. “If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process,” she said in an interview with Reuters news agency. “We could lose movie theatre-going forever.” Cinemas across the world are struggling financially with tough Covid-19 social restrictions limiting customers, along with a lack of blockbuster movies to attract them.


In the US, the National Association of Theatre Owners said 69% of small and mid-sized cinema companies could be forced to file for bankruptcy or shut down permanently. America is the world’s biggest movie market in terms of box office revenues, with China catching up rapidly. Jenkins said widespread closures would lead Hollywood studios to stop investing in films for cinemas, and turn to online streaming instead. “It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry,” she added. “Where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can’t be profitable.”

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“Modernity: we created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.”
– Nassim Taleb

 

 

 

 

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Sep 302020
 


Henri Matisse Young Woman at the Window, Sunset 1921

 

Hillary Clinton Cooked Up Russiagate To Smear Trump (RT)
Flynn Lawyer Tells Judge To Recuse Self Over ‘Abject Bias’ (Fox)
The FBI And Special Counsel’s Horrible, Terrible, Miserable Week (Brock)
Trump’s Tax Filings Do Not Reveal What Democrats Had Hoped For (MoA)
China Still Fears 3 Things About America. The Dollar is One of Them (TM.ch)
Brooklyn Voters On Mislabeled Absentee Ballots: ‘It’s A Major Problem’ (NYP)
Less Than 50% Of Americans Would Take Covid-19 Vaccine, Even If Paid $100 (RT)
The Redistribution Games (Varoufakis)
Anonymous Witnesses to Detail Alleged CIA Plot to Kill Assange (Lauria)
Greece Moves Refugees To Mainland To Ease Crowding At Island Camps (AP)
40% Of World’s Plant Species At Risk Of Extinction (G.)

 

 

I did get up at 4am to watch the debate. Mostly very messy. Wallace looked nothing like a moderator. Biden seemed almost normal, though nowhere near a man to lead a country. Trump to me looked too agressive, many people won’t like that. But Dan Bongino may have a point: Trump did get Biden to say that he doesn’t support Dems’ health care plans, nor the Green New Deal. Which is odd given that his website says he does, and Kamala Harris was one of its main voices.

Bongino

Biden Green New Deal

 

 

Wonder how this is covered in the MSM.

Hillary Clinton Cooked Up Russiagate To Smear Trump (RT)

Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton OK’ed a plan to smear then-rival Donald Trump with accusations about Russian election-hacking to distract from her email scandal, newly-declassified papers appear to show. Clinton approved an advisor’s proposal to “vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services” in July 2016, according to information declassified on Tuesday by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. The bombshell revelation was made public in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham (R-S. Carolina), in response to a request for information related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane (i.e. Russiagate) probe.


By the end of July 2016, US intelligence agencies had picked up chatter that their Russian counterparts not only knew of the scheme, but that Clinton was behind it – though the declassified material stresses that the American intelligence community “does not know the accuracy” of the claim that Clinton had green-lighted such a plan, or whether the Russians were exaggerating. However, then-CIA director John Brennan apparently followed up that assessment by briefing then-President Barack Obama on Clinton’s Russian smear scheme, according to his handwritten notes – suggesting the spy agencies were very much aware what was going on.

The news made a splash among the president’s supporters and other Russiagate skeptics, one of whom observed the timing of the events described in the declassified material dovetailed seamlessly with the timetable in which Russiagate was unveiled to the public. Clinton staffer Robby Mook appeared on CNN on July 24, 2016 to claim that “Russian state actors broke into the [Democratic National Committee]” and “stole” the campaign’s emails “for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump.” Former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele filed his report around the same date, accusing the Trump campaign of colluding with Russian security services to hack the DNC and dump the emails via Wikileaks.


The false information that made up the infamous “peepee dossier” – collected under contract from opposition research firm Fusion GPS – was used to justify securing a FISA warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page. That warrant, and others that followed, have since been declared invalid, as it was discovered the Obama administration had “violated its duty of candor” on its application for every warrant. Just a month before the 2016 election, Obama’s intelligence agencies announced that they believed Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC – allegations it has since emerged were made without even examining the server on which the emails were stored. More than a year after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report shocked Russiagate true believers with the absence of the promised proof of collusion, the colossal conspiracy theory has all but unraveled.

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She asked Trump not to pardon Flynn. She wants to take everybody to court. Including Hillary and Obama.

Flynn Lawyer Tells Judge To Recuse Self Over ‘Abject Bias’ (Fox)

In a fiery exchange during Tuesday’s hearing, former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell claimed that U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had displayed “abject bias” in the case and should recuse himself. Powell’s remarks came during oral arguments before Sullivan over whether the judge should grant a request to dismiss Flynn’s criminal case. Sullivan responded to Powell by saying that she was free to submit an argument in writing and should have done so months ago. Powell also admitted on Tuesday that she has spoken to President Trump about Flynn’s criminal case, but that she requested that Trump not grant him a pardon.

“Have you had discussions with the president about this case?” Sullivan asked Powell. Powell at first tried to invoke executive privilege, but upon being reminded that she is not a federal employee, she acknowledged that she had. “I can tell you I spoke one time with the president, one time about this case to inform him of the general status of the case,” Powell said. When asked if she had made any requests, she said, no, “other than he not issue a pardon.” [..] “The scope of the court’s inquiry is going to be significantly limited,” Sullivan said upon kicking off Tuesday’s hearing. Sullivan explained that he would not look at whether he had the authority to appoint Gleeson (saying it was “crystal clear”), or whether Flynn should be held in contempt for perjury.

“So the issues the court will focus on this morning and hear from counsel are as follows,” Sullivan continued. “Whether the court has the discretion to review both opposed and unopposed 48(a)motions for prosecutorial abuse, and whether this court should deny the government leave to dismiss the pending charge against Mr. Flynn.” The Justice Department argued Tuesday that the case should be dismissed because there is no controversy between the parties. Gleeson’s amicus curiae brief in June insisted that not only does Sullivan have the authority to reject the government’s request but he should do so. He alleged that that prosecutors’ reasoning is “riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact” and should not justify dismissal.

The DOJ in response asserted that Article II of the Constitution gives the court no power to review the executive branch’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion. In their reasoning for dismissing the case, prosecutors claimed that Flynn’s false statements could not be proven to be material in an FBI investigation, specifically the investigation of Russian election interference and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to it.

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Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

The FBI And Special Counsel’s Horrible, Terrible, Miserable Week (Brock)

Albert Einstein had his theory of relativity validated by the atomic bomb. Like it or not, Donald Trump’s widely ridiculed “witch hunt” theory was bolstered by a couple more explosive revelations released last week that once again prove paranoia doesn’t mean they’re not actually out to get you. The first blast revealed that the FBI investigated the primary source of the Steele dossier years ago for being a Russian spy. Amazingly, we’re just learning this now. The second detonation comes from an FBI agent deeply embedded in the Crossfire Hurricane and special counsel investigations who lambasted the exercise as an effort to “get Trump” rather than follow actual evidence. Let’s start with the spy-crafted dossier. If it wasn’t clear before, it’s now nearly inescapable that those at the top of the FBI were not “never Trumpers,” they were “sever Trumpers.”

The more their actions come into corroborated focus, the more apparent was their desire to decapitate the new administration. The front office’s Stop Trump tone was set early on by former agent Peter Strzok’s infamous text to former FBI counsel Lisa Page on Aug. 15, 2016 — “I’m afraid we can’t take that risk” — regarding Trump’s chances of being elected president. The troika at the top — former FBI director James Comey, his deputy director Andrew McCabe, and Strzok — had a problem, though. They feared a Trump presidency but lacked any real evidence to stop him. We know from the communication crafted by Strzok opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation that he articulated no legal basis to initiate the case.

Not to be deterred, the trio decided to exploit the Steele dossier to continue their unprecedented investigation of a presidential campaign, even though they knew it was paid for by the Clinton campaign, even though Comey himself described it as “salacious and unverified,” even though the primary sub-source admitted he fabricated most of it, and — we now learn — even though the FBI investigated the sub-source years prior as a Russian spy. Any one of those factors would have been enough to prompt a high school civics student to disregard the dossier wholesale. Yet these FBI leaders trundled on, eventually relying on it to invade the privacy of a U.S. citizen — not once but four times, without cause. In essence, the three used the words of a suspected Russian spy to, in the words of the attorney general, “spy” on the Trump campaign. In short, they really, really wanted to believe the dossier.

There is an axiom in law enforcement that you should never concoct a theory and then search for evidence to fit the narrative. No, you follow the evidence and let it tell its own story. The dossier was not evidence, or even anything close to it, but it fit a narrative favored by the trio in the FBI’s front office. Despite its outlandishness, it supported their view that a Trump presidency was too risky. Will they be held accountable for their illicit investigative activities and the massive damage they have done to the reputation of the FBI? That part isn’t clear yet. In the meantime, they all endure the inside-the-Beltway hardship of writing a book apiece and collecting large sums of money; movie stars line up to play them in propaganda films. The FBI trio continues to be the gift that keeps on shivving, slicing up the bureau’s legacy even now.

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“Trump paid alternative minimum tax in seven years between 2000 and 2017 — a total of $24.3 million..”

Trump’s Tax Filings Do Not Reveal What Democrats Had Hoped For (MoA)

Lots of pages have been filled with rumors about President Trump’s income tax filings. The Democrats had hoped that they would reveal criminal behavior or at least prove that Russia had illegitimate influence over him: “Trump says his tax returns reveal nothing that is not already disclosed on his official candidate financial disclosure, called Form 278e. As ethics counsels to the past two presidents, we dealt with both their tax filings and their Form 278’s and so we know that Trump is wrong. His tax filings have an enormous amount of additional information which, in this case, could be critically important to determining whether his business overseas might affect his decision-making as president. That is because Trump’s 12,000-page tax return may tell us a great deal about his Russian and other foreign business ties that is not on his 104-page campaign financial disclosure. It’s now more vital than ever that we get that information in light of Trump’s embrace of Russian hacking, leaking and interference in our election.”

Now the New York Times has obtained Trump’s tax filings. It has made a huge splash out of them. The story starts with this: “Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.” However, down in paragraph 78(!) it reports: “Mr. Trump was periodically required to pay a parallel income tax called the alternative minimum tax, created as a tripwire to prevent wealthy people from using huge deductions, including business losses, to entirely wipe out their tax liabilities. Mr. Trump paid alternative minimum tax in seven years between 2000 and 2017 — a total of $24.3 million, excluding refunds he received after filing.” Reading the details of the 11,000(!) words story one finds that it is largely a bummer for the ‘resistance’, not so much for Trump.

It essentially says: • Trump is a quite rich international real estate investor. • U.S. tax laws allow investors to minimize their reported income by claiming various kinds of deprecations and other gimmicks. • Tax regulations that allows investors to carry forward leftover losses to reduce taxes in future years are especially helpful. • Trump has good accountants and tax lawyers and has used the laws to their full extent to minimize his tax payments. Is any of the above something we did not already knew? What the Times story does NOT say is: • Trump’s tax record reveal that he did something illegal.• The paper had surely hoped for more. It must have been especially bitter for its authors to write this paragraph:


By their very nature, the filings will leave many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled. They comprise information that Mr. Trump has disclosed to the I.R.S., not the findings of an independent financial examination. They report that Mr. Trump owns hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable assets, but they do not reveal his true wealth. Nor do they reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia. This is a dud. It is certainly not the campaign ammunition the Democrats had hoped for.

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“We know from history that it is easy to start a conflict, but it is bloody hard to end it.”

China Still Fears 3 Things About America. The Dollar is One of Them (TM.ch)

Few Western observers know China better than The Honorable Kevin Rudd. As a young diplomat, the Australian, who speaks fluent Mandarin, was stationed in Beijing in the 1980s. As Australia’s Prime Minister and then Foreign Minister from 2007 to 2012, he led his country through the delicate tension between its most important alliance partner (the USA) and its largest trading partner (China). Today Mr. Rudd is President of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. In an in-depth conversation via Zoom, he explains why a fundamental competition has begun between the two great powers. He would not rule out a hot war: «We know from history that it is easy to start a conflict, but it is bloody hard to end it», he warns.

The strategic competition between the two countries is the product of both structural and leadership factors. The structural factors are pretty plain, and that is the continuing change in the balance of power in military, economic, and technological terms. This has an impact on China’s perception of its ability to be more assertive in the region and the world against America. The second dynamic is Xi Jinping’s leadership style, which is more assertive and aggressive than any of his post-Mao predecessors, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. The third factor is Donald Trump, who obsesses about particular parts of the economy, namely trade and to a lesser degree technology.

Would America’s position be different if someone else than Trump was President? No. The structural factors about the changing balance of power, as well as Xi Jinping’s leadership style, have caused China to rub up against American interests and values very sharply. Indeed, China is rubbing up against the interests and values of most other Western countries and some Asian democracies as well. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, her response would have been very robust. Trump has for the most part been superficially robust, principally on trade and technology. He was only triggered into more comprehensive robustness by the Covid-19 crisis threatening his reelection. If the next President of the U.S. is a Democrat, my judgement would be that the new Administration will be equally but more systematically hard-line in their reaction to China.

Do you see a world divided into two technology spheres? This is the logical consequence. Assume you have Huawei 5G systems rolled out across the 75 countries that take part in the Belt and Road Initiative, then what follows from that is a series of industry standards that become accepted and compatible within those countries, as opposed to those that rely on American systems. But then another set of questions arises: Let’s say China is effectively banned from purchasing semiconductors based on American technology and is dependent on domestic supply. Chinese semiconductors are slower than their American counterparts, and likely to remain for the decade ahead. Do the BRI countries accept a slower microprocessor product standard for being part of the Chinese technological ecosystem? I don’t know the answer to that, but I think your prognosis of two technology spheres is correct. [..]

How probable is it that Washington would choose to weaponise the Dollar? We don’t know. The Democrats in my judgement do not have a policy on that at present. Perhaps the best way to respond to your question is to say this: There are three things that China still fears about America. The US military, its semiconductor industry, and the Dollar. If you are attentive to the internalities of the Chinese national economic self-sufficiency debate at present, it often is expressed in terms of «Let’s not allow to happen to us in financial markets what is happening in technology markets». But if the U.S. goes into hardline mode against China for general strategy purposes, then the only thing that would deter Washington is the amount of self-harm it would inflict on Wall Street, if it is forced to decouple from the Chinese market. If that would happen, it would place Frankfurt, Zurich, Paris or the City of London in a pretty interesting position.

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A story a day.

Brooklyn Voters On Mislabeled Absentee Ballots: ‘It’s A Major Problem’ (NYP)

Voters across Brooklyn are reporting widespread issues with mislabeled absentee ballots — a problem the city Board of Elections has blamed on an outside vendor. In numerous cases shared with The Post, residents across the borough received ballot return envelopes bearing the wrong name and address, sparking confusion over how to fix the error five weeks ahead of the election. “It’s a major problem. This is not stoking confidence in the election system,” said Brooklyn Heights resident, Jiong Wang, who received a return envelope for his ballot with the name and address of a voter who lives a half-mile away.


Meanwhile, Wang’s wife, Jill Wiehoff, received a ballot return envelope with her husband’s name on it. The same absentee ballot mislabeling issue was experienced by a Downtown Brooklyn voter whose return envelope bore the name of a resident living two blocks away. Because of the snafu, the voter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he now plans to vote in person. “I’m very disappointed,” the voter said, “and I hope the BOE fixes it very f—ing soon.” [..] The city Board of Elections on Monday night acknowledged the matter, attributing it to “an outside vendor error.” They encouraged voters experiencing the problem to reach out, leading to comments from more Brooklyn voters who said they were sent the wrong ballot envelopes.

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Thanks, Bill Gates. Well played.

Less Than 50% Of Americans Would Take Covid-19 Vaccine, Even If Paid $100 (RT)

Mounting skepticism around a Covid-19 vaccine in the US continues, with less than half of respondents saying they’d take one even if they were offered $100, according to a new poll. Of the 1,000-plus adults who participated in the Axios-Ipsos poll, only 44 percent said they’d take a vaccine if offered the incentive of $100. They would be even less likely to get the vaccine if they were the ones who had to pay $100, with only 26 percent saying they’d be willing to take on the cost. More than half, however, said they’d be more “likely” to get it if their health insurance covered the entire cost. The same poll found that people would most trust an endorsement of a vaccine if it came from their personal doctor (62 percent).


Approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would make 54 percent more likely to trust a vaccine, while approval from President Donald Trump would only help 19 percent of respondents. Even the majority of those who identify as Republicans (60 percent) said an endorsement from the president would not help their decision of whether or not to get vaccinated. Other recent polling about a potential vaccine has typically shown that less than half of Americans are willing to be first in line to get inoculated, with some showingconcern about the process being rushed amid President Trump’s numerous suggestions one will likely be available before the end of the year.

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“… the Roosevelts effected a redistribution of wealth and power that nothing short of a revolution could accomplish.”

The Redistribution Games (Varoufakis)

[..] the greatest proportion of the world’s wealth does not find its way to society’s innovators or maintainers. As wealth accumulates in few hands, the rest of the economy gradually becomes a desert. This is not news. We have always known that exorbitant market power underpins exorbitant wealth, which then feeds back into even greater market power. And this is the crux of the matter: Nothing retards productivity and depresses employment as efficiently as exorbitant market power. To invoke the conservative analogy, not even the fastest runners can win when the wealth commandeered by the ultra-rich turns the track into sand for everyone else. That’s why the most soul-destroying poverty and the largest number of “deaths of despair” are observed in countries where wealth concentration is soaring.

What should we do about highly concentrated wealth? How do we redistribute it fairly and efficiently? A wealth tax is much in vogue today. But no legally and politically feasible wealth tax can reduce substantially the current levels of crushing inequality. Moreover, it enables conservatives to cast doubt on wealth redistribution by asking pertinent questions: Should the state evict the poor heir of a good house if she can’t afford to pay the wealth tax? How do we price an asset, such as a stamp collection, without first auctioning it off? Fortunately, there are proven ways to redistribute wealth without violating anyone’s rights or crossing ethical lines. In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt famously broke up Standard Oil and other cartels despite a chorus of opposition bemoaning his attack on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Following the 1929 Wall Street collapse, another Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, faced the same chorus when he put the financial genie in a bottle. With these two moves, the Roosevelts effected a redistribution of wealth and power that nothing short of a revolution could accomplish. Of course, the powerful find ways to shake off such shackles. After the Bretton Woods system collapsed in 1971, Wall Street and the cartels began to dominate again. Today, three megafirms, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, own at least 40% of all American public companies and nearly 90% of those listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Tacit collusion is rampant, because every CEO knows that the parent megafirm is likely to be talking to CEOs of rival companies that it also owns. The result is higher prices, less innovation, lower investment, and, naturally, stagnant wages.

Power was further concentrated after Wall Street imploded in 2008 and central banks began to pump rivers of money into the financial system. Levering up the central bank money, the gargantuan cartels used this liquidity to invent new forms of complex debt and to buy back their own shares, sending share prices (and, naturally, bonuses) into the stratosphere while starving the world of investment in quality jobs and green infrastructure. Megafirms also indulged in another favorite pastime: usurping markets, buying politicians, and capturing regulators – in short, poisoning liberal democracy.

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The judge dind’t dare object because the Spanish court had earlier permitted it. Now, “..there is the specter of damning testimony being read in Assange’s extradition case about the CIA planning to kidnap or poison Assange that will go unchallenged by the U.S.”

Anonymous Witnesses to Detail Alleged CIA Plot to Kill Assange (Lauria)

Judge Vanessa Baraitser has granted anonymity to two witness from the UC Global Spanish security firm to have their testimony read in court on Thursday regarding an alleged Central Intelligence Agency plot to either kidnap or poison Julian Assange. The two witnesses have already testified under protection in a Spanish court case against David Morales, founder and director of UC Global. The company was hired by the Ecuadorian government to provide security at its London embassy, where Assange lived for seven years until his arrest last year. According to press reports the witnesses testimony detailed how Morales was working with “American friends,” allegedly the CIA, to stream 24/7 video and audio from Assange’s chamber to the United States, including surveillance of Assange’s privileged conversations with his lawyers.

That would mean the government prosecuting Assange had eavesdropped on his defense preparations, an offense that would normally get its case thrown out of court. The Spanish witnesses sought the same protection from Baraitser’s court that they enjoy in the Spanish court because of fear of retaliation from Morales. Spanish police raided his home and found loaded arms with their serial numbers filed off. James Lewis QC, representing the U.S. government told the court he could not get instructions from the Department of Justice on whether to challenge the testimony on Thursday because of a “Chinese Wall” that is supposed to be between the DOJ and other federal agencies, such as the CIA, to prevent prosecutions from being politically motivated. (It is a a wall that has holes. We’ve heard testimony in this case about that).


So there is the specter of damning testimony being read in Assange’s extradition case about the Central Intelligence Agency planning to kidnap or poison Assange that will go unchallenged by the U.S. The prosecution will be informed of the witnesses’ identities and has 24 hours to vet the witnesses. Thursday should be the most explosive and perhaps most decisive day during this proceeding.

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Well, at least something’s moving.

Greece Moves Refugees To Mainland To Ease Crowding At Island Camps (AP)

Greek authorities moved nearly 1,000 refugees from eastern Aegean islands to the mainland Tuesday as part of efforts to improve conditions in overcrowded island refugee camps. Most of the 946 people on a ferry that docked at Lavrio, near Athens, had been at a temporary facility hastily built on the island of Lesvos to replace a camp that was burned down by angry residents three weeks ago. Others came from camps on Kos, Samos, Chios and Leros. The transfer from the Greek islands of people whose asylum bids have been accepted will continue over the coming weeks and months, the country’s Migration Ministry said Tuesday. Just over 26,000 refugees and migrants live in camps on islands, where they arrived after crossing from the nearby Turkish coast in smuggling boats. More than half are on Lesvos.


Greek officials have pledged to drastically reduce the islands’ migrant populations by moving people who have been granted refugee status to mainland accommodations, taking advantage of a drastic drop in arrivals from Turkey that resulted from stronger policing of the sea border. The government has also voiced hopes that all the migrants currently on the islands will have been moved to the mainland within six months. On Tuesday, officials said all unaccompanied teenagers and children living in camps on the islands or on Greece’s land border with Turkey had been moved to appropriate facilities on the mainland. After arriving at Lavrio, the migrants were taken in buses to hotels where they are expected to stay for the next two months. Nearly 13,000 people have entered Greece illegally so far this year, considerably fewer than in 2019.

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Do you think our behavior would change if we could live much longer?

40% Of World’s Plant Species At Risk Of Extinction (G.)

Two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction as a result of the destruction of the natural world, according to an international report. Plants and fungi underpin life on Earth, but the scientists said they were now in a race against time to find and identify species before they were lost. These unknown species, and many already recorded, were an untapped “treasure chest” of food, medicines and biofuels that could tackle many of humanity’s greatest challenges, they said, potentially including treatments for coronavirus and other pandemic microbes. More than 4,000 species of plants and fungi were discovered in 2019.

These included six species of Allium in Europe and China, the same group as onions and garlic, 10 relatives of spinach in California and two wild relatives of cassava, which could help future-proof the staple crop eaten by 800 million people against the climate crisis. New medical plants included a sea holly species in Texas, whose relatives can treat inflammation, a species of antimalarial Artemisa in Tibet and three varieties of evening primrose. “We would be able not survive without plants and fungi – all life depends on them – and it is really time to open the treasure chest,” said Prof Alexandre Antonelli, the director of science at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, in the UK. RBG Kew led the report, which involved 210 scientists from 42 countries.


“Every time we lose a species, we lose an opportunity for humankind,” Antonelli said. “We are losing a race against time as we are probably losing species faster than we can find and name them.” The UN revealed last week that the world’s governments failed to meet a single target to stem biodiversity losses in the last decade. The researchers based their assessment of the proportion of species under threat of extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. But only a small fraction of the 350,000 known plant species have been assessed, so the scientists used statistical techniques to adjust for biases in the data, such as the lack of fieldwork in some regions.

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