Nov 012020
 


Getty Images Sean Connery RIP

 

Going Full Orwell (Jim Kunstler)
National Security Nightmare Of Hunter Biden’s Abandoned Laptop (DM)
Donald Trump Leads Joe Biden By 7 Points Among Iowa Voters (MSN)
Arizona Polls: Trump vs. Biden (RCP)
Democrats Uneasy About Higher Republican Turnout In Miami-Dade (CNN)
A Biden Presidency Means The Return Of The Blob (Escobar)
Fauci Praises Biden’s Covid Precautions, Says He Avoids West Wing Due (F.)
Study: 20% Of Grocery Store Workers Had COVID19, Most Asymptomatic (CNN)
A Second National Lockdown Would Be Catastrophic (Sun)
Anti-Lockdown Protests Grip Spain (RT)
Europe Increasingly Toughens COVID19 Restrictions Amid Fierce Protests (RT)
Netherlands Puts KLM Bailout On Hold After Pilots Reject Wage Freeze (R.)
Why China’s Official Data Don’t Add Up (ATF)
The Great Reset for Dummies (Tessa)

 

 

BADAKATHCARE! Biden’s a one-man meme machine

 

 

“Mr. Trump has overcome every adversity thrown in his path for four years, and I believe he will get through this final tribulation, beep-beep. And then the games can begin in earnest.”

Going Full Orwell (Jim Kunstler)

The now infamous “Laptop from Hell” left behind brainlessly by Hunter in a Delaware repair shop apparently contains a parallel trove of photos and videos self-chronicling the scion’s sordid private life — sex, drugs, etc. — suggesting that he has set himself up as the perfect target for blackmailing operations. And goodness knows what Chinese intel on its own initiative recorded him doing in the hotels there (with amenities supplied) on his many visits to their land. Said laptop was also, it turns out, in the possession of the FBI as far back as the impeachment preliminaries in Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee, fall of 2019. Since it was full of material counter-evidence about the issue at hand — the president’s phone call to Ukraine’s President Zelensky vis-a-vis the Biden family’s shady doings in that country — the question arises of how deep was the FBI’s complicity in the impeachment ruse?

Could FBI Director Christopher Wray not have known of the laptop’s existence when it came into the agency? I doubt it. Could Mr. Wray have concealed the information from Attorney General Barr? Yes, quite possibly. In the meantime, Mr. Barr has not said a word about the entire Biden pay-for-play / laptop extravaganza. I imagine he’s chewing the office furniture at Main Justice in a fury over it with the election pending, and his duty to avoid influencing the outcome. Mr. Trump has felt a little freer to share the wicked business with the public in his campaign appearances, setting the table for a banquet of consequences when the election is over.

If it can be gotten over, since the Democrats have made no secret of their elaborate plan to confound the results with post November 3 ballot harvesting and Lawfare shenanigans in the swing states — to be accompanied by riots staged by their Antifa and BLM shock troops. I think the idea is to provoke Mr. Trump to call out US troops to quell the riots, thereby opening him up to accusations of being a tyrant. I suspect the Dems will overplay their hand on that trick, since a sizable portion of the public that has not collectively lost its mind is good and goddam sick of riots, arson, destruction of property, and the looting capers that go with them. Mr. Trump has overcome every adversity thrown in his path for four years, and I believe he will get through this final tribulation, beep-beep. And then the games can begin in earnest.

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Hunter02.

National Security Nightmare Of Hunter Biden’s Abandoned Laptop (DM)

The son of the man expected by many to be America’s next President abandoned a laptop containing a treasure trove of top-secret material, including his father’s private emails and mobile phone numbers, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. In an astonishing lapse, Hunter Biden chose to protect his MacBook Pro computer – crammed with what an IT expert last night described as a ‘national security nightmare’ and ‘classic blackmail material’ – with a single, simple password: Hunter02. Remarkably, the 50-year-old businessman and self-confessed drug addict took the machine to a back-street IT store in Delaware in April 2019 to get it repaired – yet never returned to collect it. Its existence was revealed by the New York Post last month, but the staggering scale and sensitivity of its contents – easily accessible to a hacker with a modicum of skill – is only revealed for the first time today.

The material, none of which was encrypted or protected by anything as basic as two-factor authentication, includes:
• Joe Biden’s personal mobile number and three private email addresses as well as the names of his Secret Service agents;
• Mobile numbers for former President Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary and almost every member of former President Barack Obama’s cabinet;
• A contact database of 1,500 people including actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Coldplay singer Chris Martin, former Presidential candidate John Kerry and ex-FBI boss Louis Freeh;
• Personal documents including Hunter’s passport, driver’s licence, social security card, credit cards and bank statements;
• Details of Hunter’s drug and sex problems, including $21,000 spent on one ‘live cam’ porn website and ‘selfies’ of him engaging in sex acts and smoking crack cocaine;

While Hunter has been accused of using his family name to help with deals with Ukrainian and Chinese firms, there is nothing on the laptop to implicate Joe Biden in any wrongdoing. One email relating to a failed Chinese deal refers to a payment of ten per cent to ‘the Big Guy’, which some have suggested is the presidential hopeful. However, Mr Biden has insisted: ‘I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.’ Last night, IT expert Chris Greany said it was ‘staggering’ the laptop had not been encrypted.

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Will the shift be strong enough?

Donald Trump Leads Joe Biden By 7 Points Among Iowa Voters (MSN)

Republican President Donald Trump has taken over the lead in Iowa as Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden has faded, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows just days before Election Day.The president now leads by 7 percentage points over Biden, 48% to 41%. Three percent say they will vote for someone else, 2% aren’t sure and 5% don’t want to say for whom they will vote. In the lead-up to the 2020 election, all eyes are on Iowa. Get updates of all things Iowa politics delivered to your inbox. In September’s Iowa Poll, the candidates were tied at 47% to 47%.The poll of 814 likely Iowa voters was conducted by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines from Oct. 26-29. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.


J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., said while men are more likely to support Trump and women to support Biden, the gender gap has narrowed, and independents have returned to supporting the president, a group he won in 2016. “The president is holding demographic groups that he won in Iowa four years ago, and that would give someone a certain level of comfort with their standing,” she said. “There’s a consistent story in 2020 to what happened in 2016.” But, she said, “Neither candidate hits 50%, so there’s still some play here.” Trump carried Iowa by 9.4 percentage points in 2016, but his chances at a repeat 2020 win here appeared to be in doubt in recent polling. The June Iowa Poll showed Trump leading by just 1 percentage point before Biden climbed into the September tie.

Trunalimunumaprzure Mary Poppins

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Look at some of the leads Biden had recently.

Arizona Polls: Trump vs. Biden (RCP)

Key 2020 Races: Senate | AZ-1 | AZ-2 | AZ-6 President: 2016: Trump +3.5 | 2012: Romney +9.1


Final 2016 RCP Average: Trump +4.0, Results: Trump +3.5 (Trump -0.5 Behind the Polls)

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“..the county is seen by Democrats as a region former Vice President Joe Biden must win by wide margins..”

Democrats Uneasy About Higher Republican Turnout In Miami-Dade (CNN)

Republicans in Florida’s most populous county, Miami-Dade, are turning out to vote at a somewhat higher percentage than Democrats — causing uneasiness among some Democratic operatives. Nearly 63% of the 428,000 registered Republicans in the county have voted so far, whereas about 56% of the county’s 634,000 registered Democrats have voted to date, according to state data. About 225,000 people with no party affiliation have also already voted in the county. While more Democrats than Republicans have voted overall in Miami-Dade, the county is seen by Democrats as a region former Vice President Joe Biden must win by wide margins in order to offset voting in the state’s predominantly red regions.


Democratic worries come as both President Donald Trump and Biden vie for Florida’s 29 electoral votes, with each candidate holding a rally there Thursday as CNN’s Poll of Polls shows Trump lagging in the state at 46% to Biden’s 49%. Politico was first to report the concerns among Democrats. Steve Schale, a veteran Democratic Florida strategist who runs a pro-Biden PAC, said, “I’d love to see Dade County jump up this weekend and I’ll feel better if it does.” But Schale added that Black voters in the county tend to vote in-person closer to Election Day, so he expects a bump in turnout over the coming weekend. He added that Democrats have had strong turnout in neighboring Broward County. State data show about 61% of registered Democrats in Broward have voted so far compared to about 56% of registered Republicans in the county.

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“Taking a cue from TIP, let’s game a Dem return to the White House – with the prospect of a President Kamala taking over sooner rather than later.”

A Biden Presidency Means The Return Of The Blob (Escobar)

The Dem strategy is crystal clear, spawned by the gaming of election scenarios embedded in the Transition Integrity Project and made even more explicit by one of TIP’s co-founders, a law professor at Georgetown University. Hillary Clinton, bluntly, has already called it: Dems must re-take the White House by any and all means and under any and all circumstances. And just in case, with a 5,000-word opus, she already positioned herself for a plum job. As much as Dems have made it very clear they will never accept a Trump victory, the counterpunch was vintage Trump: he told the Proud Boys to “stand back” – as in no violence, for now – but crucially to “stand by”, as in “get ready”. The stage is set for Kill Bill mayhem on November 3rd and beyond.

Taking a cue from TIP, let’s game a Dem return to the White House – with the prospect of a President Kamala taking over sooner rather than later. That means, essentially, The Return of the Blob. President Trump calls it “the swamp”. Former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes – a mediocre hack – at least coined the funkier “Blob”, applied to the incestuous Washington, DC foreign policy gang, think tanks, academia, newspapers (from the Washington Post to the New York Times), and that unofficial Bible, Foreign Affairs magazine. A Dem presidency, right away, will need to confront the implications of two wars: Cold War 2.0 against China, and the interminable, trillion-dollar GWOT (Global War on Terror), renamed OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) by the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden became the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997 and was the chair in 2001-2003 and again in 2007-2009. He paraded as total Iraq War cheerleader – necessary, he maintained, as part of GWOT – and even defended a “soft partition” of Iraq, something that fierce nationalists, Sunni and Shi’ite, from Baghdad to Basra will never forget. Obama-Biden’s geopolitical accomplishments include a drone war, or Hellfire missile diplomacy, complete with “kill lists”; the failed Afghan surge; the “liberation” of Libya from behind, turning it into a militia wasteland; the proxy war in Syria fought with “moderate rebels”; and once again leading from behind, the Saudi-orchestrated destruction of Yemen.

Tens of millions of Brazilians also will never forget that Obama-Biden legitimized the NSA spying and Hybrid War tactics that led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff ,the neutralization of former President Lula, and the evisceration of the Brazilian economy by comprador elites. Among his former, select interlocutors, Biden counts warmonger former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen – who supervised the destruction of Libya – and John Negroponte, who “organized” the contras in Nicaragua and then “supervised” ISIS/Daesh in Iraq – the crucial element of the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy of instrumentalizing jihadis to do the empire’s dirty work.

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Fauci the politician. No credibility left.

Fauci Praises Biden’s Covid Precautions, Says He Avoids West Wing Due (F.)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top figure in the federal government’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, offered praise for the Biden campaign and a mix of criticism and plaudits for President Donald Trump and his administration in an interview with the Washington Post. Fauci told the Post that the Biden campaign “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective” focused on “the economy and reopening the country.” While the comments are some of Fauci’s most political yet on the pandemic, they are not entirely shocking given Fauci and Biden’s relative alignment on issues like mask mandates, and Biden has committed to listening to scientists and keeping Fauci in his role if he wins the presidential election.

By contrast, Trump and Fauci have frequently clashed, with Fauci warning earlier this month that Trump’s tightly packed rallies pose a coronavirus risk and Trump calling Fauci a “disaster” and stating he would oust him if it didn’t cause a media frenzy. Taking aim at the administration, Fauci told the Post “the public health aspect of the [White House coronavirus] task force has diminished greatly,” and he said he avoids the West Wing of the White House due to “all the infections there.” Fauci claimed neuroradiologist Dr. Scott Atlas – who he said “doesn’t have any real insight” into the virus – is the only medical expert Trump meets with on a regular basis, but he praised White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for saying the administration is “not going to control the virus,” stating “I tip my hat to him for admitting the strategy.”

Fauci has been increasingly vocal in recent weeks as cases have risen rapidly across the country moving into the winter. His outspokenness also comes against the backdrop of an executive order Trump signed earlier this month reducing protections for government civil servants, like Fauci, and in effect making it easier to fire them. Trump and Fauci have disagreed on the severity of the pandemic, with Trump claiming the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the virus on 43 of the last 61 days – including every day since Oct. 12 – as Fauci warns the U.S. may not return to normal until 2022. “At one point during the interview, Fauci said he needed to be careful with his words because he would be blocked from doing appearances in the future,” wrote Post reporters Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb.

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The study is from May. Fill in the blanks.

Study: 20% Of Grocery Store Workers Had COVID19, Most Asymptomatic (CNN)

Grocery store work puts employees at serious risk for infection, a new study found, particularly those who have to interact with customers. These workers likely became a “significant transmission source” for Covid-19 without even knowing it because most in the study were asymptomatic. The analysis, published Thursday in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to demonstrate the significant asymptomatic infection rate, exposure risks and psychological distress grocery workers have felt during the pandemic. In the study, 20% of the 104 grocery workers tested at a store in Boston in May had positive nasal swab tests. This was a significantly higher rate of infection than what was seen in the surrounding communities, the researchers said.


Workers who dealt with customers were five times as likely to test positive for Covid-19 as colleagues in other positions. But three out of four of those who tested positive had no symptoms. “We were definitely surprised to see that there were that many people that were asymptomatic,” said Dr. Justin Yang, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a researcher at Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the study. “This is definitely very alarming as it means that retail grocery store employees are exposed to customers and sort of serve as a middleman for the virus – like a super spreader almost.” Workers in the study had tried to take precautions. Nearly all, 91%, said they wore a face mask at work and 77% said they also wore masks outside of work. Yet only about 66% said they were able to practice social distancing consistently on the job.

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“We see why government scientists want a five-week lockdown: they’re up to their eyes in grim Covid predictions.”

A Second National Lockdown Would Be Catastrophic (Sun)

A second national lockdown would be catastrophic. Thousands of cancer sufferers have died since the start of the pandemic as a direct result of missed surgeries and screenings. London ambulance crews now attend an average of 37 suicides or attempted suicides per day, compared with 22 this time last year. And it’s beyond reasonable doubt that the Stay At Home messaging led to a rise in heart attack deaths between March and July. That’s before we get to the long-term health effects of plunging thousands into unemployment.


And what would it be for? Yes, Sage modelling paints a stark picture. But real, current data from the ONS suggests Covid cases have NOT “spiralled out of control” — and deaths remain normal for this time of year. We see why government scientists want a five-week lockdown: they’re up to their eyes in grim Covid predictions. But we worry that, in their panic, they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. The virus is dangerous. But lockdowns are too.

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“This is Spain’s third extension to the state of emergency during the pandemic and will be in force until May 9..”

Anti-Lockdown Protests Grip Spain (RT)

Spain has been gripped by violence as anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in multiple cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, over the state and regional governments’ move to toughen Covid-19 restrictions. Protesters torched garbage containers and erected makeshift barricades on Gran Via, and reportedly smashed several store fronts elsewhere in central Madrid on Saturday night. When police moved in to clear the unruly gathering, they were pelted with stones and flares, and reportedly fired blank bullets, forcing the protesters to disperse into nearby streets. Meanwhile in Barcelona, police officers were pelted with stones and other projectiles, as they tried to disperse a smaller-scale anti-lockdown protest for the second consecutive night.

The regional government of Catalonia approved a new package of measures this week, including the perimeter confinement of each municipality, limiting people to their own district on weekends. Clashes also took place in the Spanish city of Logrono, where protesters burned trash containers, smashed windows and looted several shops. Heated protests were also reported in Granada, Malaga and Bilbao. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged Spaniards in a Saturday night tweet to show patience and demonstrate “responsibility, unity and sacrifice” to defeat the global pandemic, while condemning the “violent and irrational behavior” by a “small minority” of the population.

Spain’s parliament approved a six-month extension of the national state of emergency last week, granting regional authorities more power to tackle the country’s second wave of Covid-19. This is Spain’s third extension to the state of emergency during the pandemic and will be in force until May 9, but with an option for it to be lifted on March 9.

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Politicians don’t act, they re-act.

Europe Increasingly Toughens COVID19 Restrictions Amid Fierce Protests (RT)

Portugal has become the latest European state to announce new coronavirus restrictions, as Austria and England also prepare for lockdown, amid public backlash in other states forced into quarantines by the second wave of Covid-19. In Portugal, people were ordered to stay home except for work, school or essential shopping, while companies will switch to remote working wherever possible. New lockdown measures are set to take effect on November 4 and will immediately impact nearly 70 percent of the population in 121 municipalities. Prime Minister Antonio Costa, however, warned that even more areas could be added to the list if the rate of coronavirus infections continues to soar. “We have a very tough month ahead of us. It is more likely we will add more municipalities than we drop from that list next time.”

While Portugal has recorded a relatively low 2,507 deaths so far, the daily number of new infections soared over 4,000 in the recent days, with a total of 1,972 people hospitalized and the country slowly running out of intensive care units. “If nothing is done, the rise in infections will inevitably lead us to a situation of failure of our health system,” Costa added, echoing the reasoning behind the lockdown in England that was announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson just hours earlier. In England, from November 5 to at least December 2, people will only be allowed to go outside for specific reasons, including education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials or caring for the vulnerable.

Pubs and restaurants will be shut down and only allowed to sell takeaway. All non-essential trade will also stop. However, essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open. In Austria, a mass lockdown kicks off on November 3, with a curfew in place from 8pm to 6am every night until December. All restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed except for the delivery and takeaway services. Theaters, museums and gyms, as well as kindergartens and primary schools, will also close, while high schools and universities will switch to distance learning.

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The future of travel.

Netherlands Puts KLM Bailout On Hold After Pilots Reject Wage Freeze (R.)

The Dutch government on Saturday put on hold its plan to bail out KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, after pilots rejected a wage-freeze until 2025, Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said. KLM had been due to receive a 3.4 billion euro ($4.0 billion) package, including 1 billion euros in direct loans. from the government to help it cope with the damage from the coronavirus pandemic.”I find it very disappointing, but this way we cannot move forward with the loan now,” Hoekstra told journalists. The pilots’ union argued that it had already agreed to a freeze until March 2022, and could not now change that agreement at the last minute.


Ahead of the government announcement, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers had said that “without this loan, KLM will not make it through these challenging times”. In a statement, he said KLM would not immediately go bankrupt but that its reserves “cannot last more than a few months”. In a letter to parliament, Hoekstra left the door open for the bailout if all KLM employees agreed to the five-year wage freeze. “It is up to KLM and the unions to ensure that they meet the government’s demands after all,” he said, adding that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic had changed expectations about how soon airlines could bounce back. “The outlook is sombre, that makes it all the more important to have a good restructuring programme in place to work towards KLM’s long-term recovery,” he wrote.

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Creative bookkeeping.

Why China’s Official Data Don’t Add Up (ATF)

Last week China released it’s much anticipated third quarter GDP, and along with it came fresh concerns of data accuracy. While the 4.9% print missed rather exuberant market expectations of over 5% growth, the real head-turner was Beijing’s announced revisions to its fixed asset investment (FAI) data for September 2019. The revised numbers depressed last September’s FAI by 2.8 trillion yuan, thereby boosting this year’s growth figures as well as the Q3 GDP. China’s National Bureau of Statistics explained away the change in a short footnote, stating that historical data were adjusted on the basis of the “fourth national economic census unit inventory.” In August, China had reported its first positive retail sales growth of 2020 on the basis of a similar adjustment, which depressed year-ago figures by 50 billion yuan.

Predictably, this latest revision came under immediate scrutiny. The core statistical problem here is the sample’s changing characteristics and size. The NBS has a longstanding practice of only surveying firms above a minimum annual revenue. Any firm that falls below the threshold is dropped from future surveys and its results removed from past data. Alternatively, if the number of firms meeting the revenue threshold rises in a given year, the sample then becomes larger than last year’s by thousands of firms. This cherry-picking approach — which can produce trillions of yuan worth of adjustments — invalidates any claims of random, representative sampling. Furthermore, it creates a constant stream of revisions to official statistics without details on methods or the release of underlying numbers. The more fundamental challenge it underscores is that investors cannot rely on official data to reliably capture economic conditions, especially when the economy is under pressure.

[..] First, despite the announced on-year rebound in official GDP growth, CBB’s recent third-quarter data show no part of the economy registering growth anywhere near year-ago levels. Despite sequential quarterly improvement since the Chinese economy emerged from its Covid lockdown, every sector, sub-sector, region, and growth metric remains in contraction year-on-year. Second, our surveys of over 3,300 firms showed a two-track recovery in Q3. For large firms and companies based in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong the economy is accelerating. This is the recovery much of the West sees and what has become the public-face of Beijing’s rebound narrative. In the rest of country, however, the climb back is far more uneven and beset with reversals.

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“The king’s world feels far more predictable and relaxed when the chaos of human subjectivity is contained for good.”

The Great Reset for Dummies (Tessa)

The Great Reset is a massively funded, desperately ambitious, internationally coordinated project led by some of the biggest multinational corporations and financial players on the planet and carried out by cooperating state bodies and NGOs. Its soul is a combination of early 20th century science fiction, idyllic Soviet posters, the obsessiveness of a deranged accountant with a gambling addiction—and an upgraded, digital version of “Manifest Destiny.” The mathematical reason for the Great Reset is that thanks to technology, the planet has gotten small, and the infinite expansion economic model is bust—but obviously, the super wealthy want to continue staying super wealthy, and so they need a miracle, another bubble, plus a surgically precise system for managing what they perceive as “their limited resources.”

Thus, they desperately want a bubble providing new growth out of thin air—literally—while simultaneously they seek to tighten the peasants’ belts, an effort that starts with “behavioral modification,” a.k.a. resetting the western peasants’ sense of entitlement to high life standards and liberties (see awful “privilege”). The psychological reason for the Great Reset is the fear of losing control of property, the planet. I suppose, if you own billions and move trillions, your perception of reality gets funky, and everything down below looks like an ant hill that exists for you. Just ants and numbers, your assets.


Thus, the practical aim of the Great Reset is to fundamentally restructure the world’s economy and geopolitical relations based on two assumptions: one, that every element of nature and every life form is a part of the global inventory (managed by the allegedly benevolent state, which, in turn, is owned by several suddenly benevolent wealthy people, via technology)—and two, that all inventory needs to be strictly accounted for: be registered in a central database, be readable by a scanner and easily ID’ed, and be managed by AI, using the latest “science.” The goal is to count and then efficiently manage and control all resources, including people, on an unprecedented scale, with unprecedented digital anxiety and precision—all while the masters keep indulging, enjoying vast patches of conserved nature, free of unnecessary sovereign peasants and their unpredictability. The king’s world feels far more predictable and relaxed when the chaos of human subjectivity is contained for good.

Read more …

 

 

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Guardian Greenwald Assange

 

 

 

 

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Oct 302020
 


Minor White Windowsill Daydreaming Rochester NY 1958

 

A Fake Persona Laid The Groundwork For A Hunter Biden Conspiracy Deluge (NBC)
NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic (DC)
Joe Biden’s Biggest Problem Is That There Is No Vaccine For Trumpism
‘We’ve Got To Stop The Bleeding’: Democrats Sound Alarm In Miami (Pol.)
Glenn Greenwald Leaves The Intercept After Editors Refuse Biden Criticism (ZH)
The ‘Censored’ Biden Story That Made Glenn Greenwald Quit The Intercept (ZH)
FBI Initially Turned Down Purported Hunter Biden Laptop (JTN)
UPS Suddenly Locates “Lost” Biden Evidence, Returns Docs To Tucker Carlson (ZH)
Western Rewriting History Of WW2 Has Incensed Russians (Robinson)
US GDP Booms At 33.1% Rate In Q3 (CNBC)
COVID Measures ‘Monument Of Collective Hysteria And Folly’: Ex-Judge (G.)

 

 

 

 

Someone said on Twitter yesterday: “You two are creating a world characterized by illogic, distrust and uncertainty. It’s a world no one wants our kids to grow up in. It’s sad that you do this. Here’s the absurdity behind the false Christopher Balding story:”

I am one of the two this person talks about, don’t know who the other is. (S)he is referring to an NBC article yesterday, “How A Fake Persona Laid The Groundwork For A Hunter Biden Conspiracy Deluge”.

It is about the report Christopher Balding published on Oct 22, (see here), but NBC’s criticism of the “Balding report” does not address its contents, only its shape, and calls it “FAKE”. That is, Balding and others invented a person who was cited as the author of it. And yes, that is a peculiar way to publish something, but Balding has always said the real author needs protection.

Then the NBC piece attempts to mix the report with other stories, the ones derived from the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. But there is hardly any overlap. It appears to be a intentional confusion, so people will believe everything regarding Hunter Biden accusations is fake. But at the same moment, the Daily Caller reports that forensic analysis proves “NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic”. And that in turn comes one day after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said all Bobulinski material has been verified.

Christopher Balding has reacted on Twitter, his entire reaction thread is here.

Balding reacts

 

 

A Fake Persona Laid The Groundwork For A Hunter Biden Conspiracy Deluge (NBC)

One month before a purported leak of files from Hunter Biden’s laptop, a fake “intelligence” document about him went viral on the right-wing internet, asserting an elaborate conspiracy theory involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and business in China. The document, a 64-page composition that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump, appears to be the work of a fake “intelligence firm” called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents. The author of the document, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen’s profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator.

The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer said that no one by that name had ever worked for the company and that no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches. One of the original posters of the document, a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, took credit for writing parts of it when asked about it and said Aspen does not exist. Despite the document’s questionable authorship and anonymous sourcing, its claims that Hunter Biden has a problematic connection to the Communist Party of China have been used by people who oppose the Chinese government, as well as by far-right influencers, to baselessly accuse candidate Joe Biden of being beholden to the Chinese government.

The document and its spread have become part of a wider effort to smear Hunter Biden and weaken Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, which moved from the fringes of the internet to more mainstream conservative news outlets. An unverified leak of documents — including salacious pictures from what President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and a Delaware Apple repair store owner claimed to be Hunter Biden’s hard drive — were published in the New York Post on Oct. 14. Associates close to Trump, including Giuliani and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, have promised more blockbuster leaks and secrets, which have yet to materialize. The fake intelligence document, however, preceded the leak by months, and it helped lay the groundwork among right-wing media for what would become a failed October surprise: a viral pile-on of conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.

The Typhoon Investigations document was first posted in September to Intelligence Quarterly, an anonymous blog “dedicated to collecting important daily news,” according to its “about” section. Historical domain records show the blog was registered to Albert Marko, a self-described political and economic adviser, who also lists the blog on his Twitter bio. When asked about the provenance of the document, Marko said he received it from Balding. Balding, previously an associate professor at Fulbright University Vietnam who studied the Chinese economy and financial markets, posted the document on his blog on Oct. 22, seven weeks after it was initially published.

Logan Hall NBC

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“Graham said the only way the email could have been faked is if someone hacked into Google’s servers, found the private key and used it to reverse engineer the email’s DKIM signature.”

NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic (DC)

An email Hunter Biden received in April 2015 from a Burisma executive discussing an introduction to then-Vice President Joe Biden, which lies at the heart of a New York Post investigation, is unquestionably authentic, a cybersecurity expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday. The DCNF obtained a full copy of Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday. The DCNF provided Robert Graham, the founder of the cybersecurity firm Errata Security, with a copy of the email and its metadata for forensic analysis. Graham, who has been cited as a cybersecurity expert in The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Wired, Engadget and other news and technology outlets, told the DCNF that he used a cryptographic signature found in the email’s metadata to validate that Vadym Pozharsky, an advisor to Burisma’s board of directors, emailed Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015.

In the email, Pozharsky thanked Hunter Biden for “inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.” The New York Post first reported the email in October, describing it as a “smoking-gun” showing that Hunter Biden had introduced his father to the Burisma executive in 2015. The email was sent less than a year before Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor who was reportedly investigating the gas company in return for a $1 billion loan guarantee. Graham previously told the DCNF that emails sent from Gmail, such as Pozharski’s message to Hunter Biden, can be “absolutely verified beyond a shadow of a doubt” by testing its contents against the unique DKIM signature found in its metadata.


Graham used the DKIM signature within the email to verify with a private key on Google’s servers that the sender, recipient, subject, date and body of the message that the DCNF obtained from Giuliani were unchanged from when the email was originally sent in April 2015. Graham said the only way the email could have been faked is if someone hacked into Google’s servers, found the private key and used it to reverse engineer the email’s DKIM signature.

Daily Caller vs NBC

Read more …

“America is past the “I have a plan” phase. A sizable contingent of regular citizens have decided either that the disease is a “hoax,” or that it’s not worth altering their everyday lives for in any major way.”

Joe Biden’s Biggest Problem Is That There Is No Vaccine For Trumpism

As the 2020 presidential election hurls itself at us, there is one thing upon which the far right and far left agree: The COVID-19 pandemic should be over within days after Nov. 4. The right says the “deep state” is holding on to a secret vaccine that it will introduce to the world once Donald Trump is thrown out of office. The left says that Trump is the primary cause of the virus’ spread, and that with the biological weapon in chief out of office, people will soon be out safely ingesting each other’s disgusting germs.Alas, despite these extremes being so far out there that they meet again in the back, neither is right. Trump is not entirely to blame for the virus’ spread, and Joe Biden’s election will not be a panacea in stopping it.

Sure, Biden has a “plan” to solve COVID-19, and it contains all the commonsense proposals: vaccine funding, paid leave, more protective equipment and more funding for testing. But America is past the “I have a plan” phase. A sizable contingent of regular citizens have decided either that the disease is a “hoax,” or that it’s not worth altering their everyday lives for in any major way. In other words, COVID-19 is a cultural problem, not a governmental one. It is the cultural component in which Trump has failed America the most. Over the summer, it appeared the virus was waning — businesses had quickly ramped up production of masks and ventilators needed in hospitals and emergency rooms and limited state shutdowns were being enforced. Infection rates were dropping around the country.

Then, in the wake of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd’s at the hands of police, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest, effectively signaling the end of lockdowns. Science professionals who urged staying home were silent on the protests, leading those on the right to throw up their hands and say, “Well, I guess lockdown is over.” That is where Trump’s mismanagement has cost America. In the early days of the virus, Trump said all the wrong things, telling Americans it was just “one person coming in from China” and it would “disappear one day, it’s like a miracle.” And speaking of miracles, he vowed to have churches open for Easter.

Say we were to give Trump some benefit of the doubt — in the early months of the spread, everyone was still figuring out what was happening, and rapid spread would have occurred under any president. [..] Unless Biden can legislate trust in the media and politicians, the pandemic will stretch well into his presidency. The reality is a sizable portion of America is carrying on, waiting for a vaccine — which, ironically, many of them won’t take because it will probably be Joe Biden at the helm of the country when it is released. And sadly, there is no vaccine for Trumpism.

Read more …

“To date, Republicans have turned out 59 percent of their voters in Miami-Dade and Democrats have turned out 53 percent, a 6-point margin. That’s twice the margin Republicans had at this point in 2016..“

‘We’ve Got To Stop The Bleeding’: Democrats Sound Alarm In Miami (Pol.)

Democrats are sounding the alarm about weak voter turnout rates in Florida’s biggest county, Miami-Dade, where a strong Republican showing is endangering Joe Biden’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state. No Democrat can win Florida without a huge turnout and big winning margins here to offset losses elsewhere in the state. But Democrats are turning out at lower rates than Republicans and at lower rates than at this point in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won by 29 percentage points here and still lost the state to Donald Trump. One particular area of concern is the relative share of ballots cast by young voters of color and less-reliable Democratic voters.

Part of the problem, according to interviews with a dozen Democratic elected officials and operatives, is the Biden campaign‘s decision to discourage field staff from knocking on doors during the pandemic and its subsequent delay in greenlighting — and funding — a return to door-to-door canvassing. “We did not get the kind of funding for different vendors who would do that type of work until late in the campaign,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson, a party institution who represents Miami’s heavily Black congressional district. Wilson said the good news is that Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, is working with her on a turnout event for this weekend geared toward young Black men.


But the veteran congresswoman said there are still skilled operatives in her district who excel at turnout work who have yet to get approved by the campaign, a puzzling delay for an operation that raised a record $363 million the month before. “I screamed. Hollered. I called. I lobbied from the top to the bottom,” Wilson said of her efforts to get turnout operations started in the community, including sending written proposals to Biden’s campaign and having virtual Zoom meetings with his advisers.

Read more …

The election, actually the entire Trump presidency, has brought out the best and the worst in US journalism. It will never be the same.

Glenn Greenwald Leaves The Intercept After Editors Refuse Biden Criticism (ZH)

The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald resigned from the outlet on Thursday, after ‘editors censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.’ Greenwald writes at his new home (greenwald.substack.com):”The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct. Not content to simply prevent publication of this article at the media outlet I co-founded, these Intercept editors also demanded that I refrain from exercising a separate contractual right to publish this article with any other publication.


I had no objection to their disagreement with my views of what this Biden evidence shows: as a last-ditch attempt to avoid being censored, I encouraged them to air their disagreements with me by writing their own articles that critique my perspectives and letting readers decide who is right, the way any confident and healthy media outlet would. But modern media outlets do not air dissent; they quash it. So censorship of my article, rather than engagement with it, was the path these Biden-supporting editors chose.”Apparently he’s also blocked from publishing the article elsewhere, though he’s “asked my lawyer to get in touch with FLM to discuss how best to terminate my contract.”

People who quit
https://twitter.com/APompliano/status/1321915427522576384

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“Rather than condemn Biden for ignoring these questions — the natural instinct of a healthy press when it comes to a presidential election — journalists have instead led the way in concocting excuses to justify his silence.”

The ‘Censored’ Biden Story That Made Glenn Greenwald Quit The Intercept (ZH)

Publication by the New York Post two weeks ago of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, relating to Vice President Joe Biden’s work in Ukraine, and subsequent articles from other outlets concerning the Biden family’s pursuit of business opportunities in China, provoked extraordinary efforts by a de facto union of media outlets, Silicon Valley giants and the intelligence community to suppress these stories. One outcome is that the Biden campaign concluded, rationally, that there is no need for the front-running presidential candidate to address even the most basic and relevant questions raised by these materials. Rather than condemn Biden for ignoring these questions — the natural instinct of a healthy press when it comes to a presidential election — journalists have instead led the way in concocting excuses to justify his silence.

After the Post’s first article, both that newspaper and other news outlets have published numerous other emails and texts purportedly written to and from Hunter reflecting his efforts to induce his father to take actions as Vice President beneficial to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, on whose board of directors Hunter sat for a monthly payment of $50,000, as well as proposals for lucrative business deals in China that traded on his influence with his father. Individuals included in some of the email chains have confirmed the contents’ authenticity. One of Hunter’s former business partners, Tony Bubolinski, has stepped forward on the record to confirm the authenticity of many of the emails and to insist that Hunter along with Joe Biden’s brother Jim were planning on including the former Vice President in at least one deal in China.

And GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who appeared in one of the published email chains, appeared to confirm the authenticity as well, though he refused to answer follow-up questions about it. Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”

But nobody claimed that any such deals had been consummated — so the conclusion that one had not been does not negate the story. Moreover, some texts and emails whose authenticity has not been disputed state that Hunter was adamant that any discussions about the involvement of the Vice President be held only verbally and never put in writing.

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And then sat on it for a year.

FBI Initially Turned Down Purported Hunter Biden Laptop (JTN)

The family of the Delaware shop owner who says he came into possession of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden first tried to turn over the computer to the FBI in summer 2019 but was rebuffed, only to have agents return months later during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings, his lawyer said Thursday night. In a lengthy statement to Just the News, attorney Brian Della Rocca provided a detailed timeline of the actions his client, John Paul Mac Isaac, says he took in trying to get authorities to investigate the laptop. The lawyer also decried public figures on both sides of the aisle for politicizing the episode and for attacking the Delaware computer repairman without having the facts.

Mac Isaac “unwittingly became the target of a smear campaign by doing what he thought was right,” Della Rocca said. “John Paul is not a right-wing fanatic, nor is he a Russian hacker.” In the statement that was originally drafted to be an op-ed, Della Rocca made several new revelations about the laptop that has stirred worldwide political intrigue on the eve of the American presidential election, an FBI investigation, and a news media and social media censorship campaign. Among the revelations: • A man claiming to be Hunter Biden dropped off three laptops on April 12, 2019 to Mac Isaac’s shop to be repaired, and returned two days later with an external hard drive. The man believed to be Hunter Biden eventually abandoned one of the laptops and the external hard drive without paying for them. • Mac Isaac’s father, a retired Air Force colonel, first tried to provide a copy of the laptop to an FBI office in Albuquerque, N.M., in summer 2019, but the bureau turned him away.


• FBI agents from Albuquerque, N.M., contacted the father in October 2019, as impeachment proceedings were ongoing in Washington, to discuss the laptop and then to interview the younger Mac Isaac in Delaware. A few weeks later, FBI agents in Delaware seized the original laptop from Mac Isaac. • On Oct. 13 of this year, Hunter Biden’s attorney contacted Mac Isaac to discuss the hard drive and followed up with an email but no further action. Three people familiar with the matter told Just the News on Thursday that the FBI has an ongoing investigation into business transactions involving firms associated with Hunter Biden and other business associates. The investigation began in 2019 around the time the FBI followed up on Mac Isaac’s concerns and has since expanded to issues raised by an IRS whistleblower complaint filed a year ago. The probe got new evidence in recent days when Hunter Biden’s former business partner Tony Bobulinski turned over documents and other materials during an FBI interview, one person with knowledge of the case said.

Read more …

This story just gets crazier.

UPS Suddenly Locates “Lost” Biden Evidence, Returns Docs To Tucker Carlson (ZH)

Delivery giant UPS confirmed Thursday it found a lost trove of documents that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said would provide revelations in the ever-growing scandal involving Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his overseas business dealings. UPS Senior Public Relations Manager Matthew O’Connor told Business Insider on Thursday afternoon that the documents are located and are being sent to Carlson. “After an extensive search, we have found the contents of the package and are arranging for its return,” he said in a statement. “UPS will always focus first on our customers, and will never stop working to solve issues and make things right. We work hard to ensure every package is delivered, including essential goods, precious family belongings and critical healthcare.”

It came after Glenn Zaccara, UPS’s corporate media relations director, confirmed Carlson used the company to ship the materials before they were lost. “The package was reported with missing contents as it moved within our network,” Zaccara said before they were located. “UPS is conducting an urgent investigation.” During his Wednesday night broadcast, Carlson said that a UPS employee notified them that their package “was open and empty … apparently, it had been opened.” “The Biden documents never arrived in Los Angeles. Tuesday morning we received word from our shipping company that our package had been opened and the contents were missing,” Carlson also remarked. “The documents had disappeared.”


On Tuesday night, Carlson interviewed former Hunter Biden associate Tony Bobulinski, who claimed that the former Democratic vice president could be compromised by the Chinese Communist Party due to Hunter and brother James Biden’s business dealings in the country. Joe Biden has not responded to Bobulinski’s allegations. Last week during his debate with President Donald Trump, he said he had “not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”

Read more …

Paul Robinson is a professor at the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history, and military ethics.

Western Rewriting History Of WW2 Has Incensed Russians (Robinson)

It used to be simple: The Nazis and their allies were the bad guys, and the Americans, British, and Soviets were the good guys. Then contemporary politics took over and the narrative around WW2 became a modern battleground. The conflict ended 75 years ago. But the struggle over its history has perhaps never been as intense as it is today. In the first few decades after the war, the interpretation of it was fairly clear, and almost universally accepted: The war was a product of German aggression and the extreme ideology of the Nazis. The Germans were the criminals; and the peoples of the Allied powers were the victims. Quantitatively, the largest group of these victims was in Eastern Europe – Jews and citizens of the Soviet Union, who the Nazis killed in the millions.

From the mid-1980s, a new narrative began to creep into public discourse in the West. This maintained that Nazism was not uniquely evil nor solely responsible for the war. Rather Nazism and communism were equally morally repugnant, and Germany and the Soviet Union were mutually responsible for the tragedy. The USSR, rather than being a victim of aggression, was itself one of the prime aggressors of the era. At first, this revisionist view was restricted to a narrow group of academics. Most notable was the German historian Ernst Nolte, who in 1986 provoked the Historikerstreit (‘Historians’ Dispute’) in what was then West Germany, by suggesting that the genocidal campaign of the Nazis was just one of many such campaigns by other states, most notably the Soviet Union, in an overall ‘age of genocide’.

This theme was then popularized by certain other historians of an anti-Soviet, and later anti-Russian, bent. But what really gave it legs was the collapse of communism and the rise of nationalism among states of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. In countries such as Poland, Latvia, and post-2014 Ukraine, nationalist leaders have sought to promote their own legitimacy by adopting a strong anti-Russian line, and historical revisionism has proven to be an essential part of their toolkit. As part of this process, history has been rewritten to portray the Soviet Union as having occupied and oppressed the nations of Eastern Europe during World War II, to suggest a moral equivalence between the Nazis and the communists, and in extreme cases to portray locals who fought alongside the Germans as heroes rather than collaborators. For instance, in Ukraine.

[..] It was in this context that Russian President Vladimir Putin this week denounced any attempt to equate the USSR and Nazi Germany. This followed a complaint by Elena Yampolskaya, a member of the Russian parliament, who noted that two books had recently been published in Russia which suggested similarities between Nazism and communism, and in one case argued that “the Soviets were worse than the Nazis.” Putin agreed with Yampolskaya’s complaint that this was “absolutely unacceptable.” The Russian Federation should pass legislation similar to that of other countries which criminalizes denial of the Armenian genocide, Putin said, adding that, “We will not allow this heroic page in history to be crossed out.”

Read more …

Good for Trump in the election?

US GDP Booms At 33.1% Rate In Q3 (CNBC)

Coming off the worst quarter in history, the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace ever in the third quarter as a nation battered by an unprecedented pandemic started to put itself back together, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Third-quarter gross domestic product, a measure of the total goods and services produced in the July-to-September period, expanded at a 33.1% annualized pace, according to the department’s initial estimate for the period. The gain came after a 31.4% plunge in the second quarter and was better than the 32% estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The previous post-World War II record was the 16.7% burst in the first quarter of 1950.

Markets reacted positively to the news, with Wall Street erasing a loss at the open and turning mostly positive. “It’s obviously good news that the economy bounced back in the third quarter,” said Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein. “There’s still a lot of work to do here and the pace of improvement … is going to slow. The stimulus programs that provided much of the economic lift last quarter have expired or are expiring. Fiscal support is diminishing. That is part of the reason that the pace of growth is going to slow from here.” Increased consumption along with sold gains in business and residential investment as well as exports fueled the third-quarter rebound. Decreases in government spending following the expiration of the CARES Act rescue funding subtracted from GDP.

The powerful growth pace came after states across the country shut down large swaths of activity in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11. [..] While the news on Q3 was good for the $21.2 trillion economy, the U.S. faces a tougher road ahead as coronavirus cases increase and worries grow over the health and economic impacts. Nearly half the 22 million jobs lost in March and April remain unfilled and the unemployment rate remains at 7.9%, more than double its pre-pandemic level as 12.6 million Americans are still out of work.


“This is going to be seized upon by both ends of the political spectrum as either evidence of the strength of the post-lockdown economic rebound or a cursory warning that the gains could be short-lived,” said James McCann, senior global economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “The reality is that the GDP numbers demonstrate that the U.S. economy did indeed rebound strongly as lockdown measures were lifted.”

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Jonathan Sumption, former British supreme court justice, slams ‘cavalier use of coercive powers’ and ‘loss of freedom’.

COVID Measures ‘Monument Of Collective Hysteria And Folly’: Ex-Judge (G.)

The government has deliberately stoked fear over coronavirus while behaving like an authoritarian regime relying on police state tactics, according to the former supreme court justice Jonathan Sumption. In his most forceful critique to date of the government’s handling of the pandemic, the outspoken lawyer condemned the way “the British state exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted”. Delivering the Cambridge Freshfields annual law lecture, Lord Sumption said: “The ease with which people could be terrorised into surrendering basic freedoms which are fundamental to our existence … came as a shock to me in March 2020.”

He is not the only former judge recently to lament the loss of effective parliamentary scrutiny of emergency Covid powers. Last month Lady Hale, former president of the supreme court, alleged that MPs and peers had surrendered their role during the coronavirus pandemic.In his address Sumption said the emergency measures were “the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country”. He stated: “I do not doubt the seriousness of the epidemic, but I believe that history will look back on the measures taken to contain it as a monument of collective hysteria and governmental folly.”

The government, he noted, had already tried to avoid parliamentary scrutiny during Brexit by proroguing parliament, a procedure subsequently ruled unlawful by the supreme court last year. “Governments hold power in Britain on the sufferance of the elected chamber of the legislature,” Sumption argued. “Without that we are no democracy. The present government has a different approach. It seeks to derive its legitimacy directly from the people, bypassing their elected representatives.” Sage, the government’s panel of expert scientific advisers, he said, had this year noted: “Citizens should be treated as rational actors, capable of taking decisions for themselves and managing personal risk.” That warning, Sumption said, had been ignored.

[..] The police had repeatedly exceeded their powers, he suggested. “When I ventured to criticise them in a BBC interview for acting beyond their powers I received a letter from the Derbyshire police commissioner objecting to my remarks on the ground that in a crisis such things were necessary. The implication was that in a crisis the police were entitled to do whatever they thought fit, without being unduly concerned about their legal powers. That is my definition of a police state.” By using “propaganda”, he said, the government had “to some extent been able to create its own public opinion – fear was deliberately stoked up by the government”.

Read more …

 

 

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Taiwan COVID

 

 

 

 

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Sep 122020
 
 September 12, 2020  Posted by at 8:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Claude Monet O Rio 1881

 

Was COVID19 Spreading Freely Worldwide Before Last Christmas? (RT)
Fauci Warns US Needs To ‘Hunker Down’ For Fall, Winter (Hill)
Trump Campaign Sends Cease-and-Desist To Biden Campaign Over Atlantic Ad (JTN)
MSM Attempts To Spin Trump’s Attacks On Senseless Wars Distort Reality (RT)
Ex-Judge Reviewing Flynn Cases Urges Guilty Plea Be Upheld (JTN)
Beijing To Impose Restrictions On All US Diplomats In China (AlJ)
Fortnite Maker: Apple and Google Monopolies Need To Be Stopped (NPR)
Left, Right Mock Pelosi For Saying Angry Mother Earth Caused Wildfires (RT)
Earth Barreling Toward ‘Hothouse’ State Not Seen In 50 Million Years (LS)
How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled (NPR)
Nobel Peace Prize Committee Tells Trump To Launch More Drone Strikes (B. Bee)

 

 

Setting new rcords. Winning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bless Tucker Carlson for providing the platform.

Bless Glenn Greenwald for his eloquent statement. Don’t miss this.

#FreeAssange

Tucker Greenwald Assange

 

 

George Galloway Assange

 

 

“How far back does this story go? We will probably never know.”

Was COVID19 Spreading Freely Worldwide Before Last Christmas? (RT)

A new study from America indicates that people were falling ill with coronavirus-like symptoms in December 2019, but doctors at the time dismissed it as ordinary flu. A team of doctors from Los Angeles scouring the hospital records from last winter has discovered a series of smoking gun clues which almost guarantee that Covid-19 was present in America well before Christmas. Scientists from UCLA have been analysing over 10 million hospital records from December 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020. Comparing that winter to previous ones, they noticed a 50-percent increase in ‘coughing’ as a symptom on admission forms. In addition, 18 more people than would ordinarily be expected were hospitalised with acute respiratory failure.

In fact, the scientists estimate that there may have been 1,000 or more Covid sufferers in LA alone last winter – and presumably those are just the symptomatic minority. At the time, of course, all of this was put down to a moderately bad flu season. Officially, Covid did not turn up in LA until January 22, when a traveller in LAX airport fell ill. He was from Wuhan, and was identified as Covid-positive four days later. This bombshell fits an emerging body of evidence on an earlier coronavirus timeline. Many people may remember the reports of a strange vaping-related illness that ravaged Americans towards the end of last year. There was a good deal of study on it. Scientists at first thought it was the oils in the e-cigs congealing in people’s lungs, but soon debunked that hypothesis.

In hindsight, it is difficult to look past Covid as the real culprit. Pneumonia-like symptoms, ordinarily fit people falling severely ill… it was Covid all over. These revelations come hot on the heels of a very different story from England, which nonetheless points to the same conclusion. Peter Attwood died at the age of 84 on January 30, having been sick for over a month. But in recent weeks, an autopsy has confirmed that he died of Covid, which he probably was infected with in 2019. Underlining this, Attwood’s daughter was sick with similar symptoms two weeks earlier still. All of this happened in Kent, England. But according to the government there, the first Covid death in the UK did not happen until March.

Now, Attwood’s family want answers from the Chinese government on why they did not tell the WHO earlier about the coronavirus, which we know from leaked memos was identified in mid-November at the latest. If coronavirus burned a track through the US and the UK towards the end of last year, is there any reason to suspect it wasn’t doing the same everywhere else? In July, reports came in of coronavirus DNA being found in Spain, Italy and South America as long ago as the spring of 2019. How far back does this story go? We will probably never know.

Read more …

How about we replace Fauci?

Fauci Warns US Needs To ‘Hunker Down’ For Fall, Winter (Hill)

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, warned Thursday that the U.S. should prepare for a difficult few months in the fight against COVID-19 as flu season approaches. “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy,” Fauci said during a panel discussion with doctors from Harvard Medical School. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases went on to warn against underestimating the pandemic’s potential to cause continued destruction. Fauci, who was one of the world’s leading AIDS researchers in the 1980s, compared the coronavirus pandemic to the early days of HIV when the epidemic started with a few gay men to decades later with millions of deaths and infections. “We’ve been through this before,” he said. “Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things.”


His comments come after tapes released Wednesday by journalist Bob Woodward revealed that President Trump admitted in an interview to purposely downplaying the pandemic in the early months of the virus because he didn’t want to “create a panic.” During Thursday’s panel, Fauci added that vaccine trials are “progressing very well” and repeated his prediction that one will likely be available by the end of the year or by early 2021. Fauci also reiterated that different U.S. cities should expect to see post-Labor Day surges, with the expert saying last week that the country was heading into the fall with an “unacceptably high” level of COVID-19 cases. “We’re right around 40,000 new cases, that’s an unacceptably high baseline,” Fauci said at the time. “We’ve got to get it down, I’d like to see it 10,000 or less, hopefully less.”

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Well, you can try.

Trump Campaign Sends Cease-and-Desist To Biden Campaign Over Atlantic Ad (JTN)

The Trump campaign issued a cease-and-desist letter to the Biden campaign this week, directing Biden’s camp to stop airing an advertisement that a lawyer for Trump’s team called “false and misleading.” Trump Campaign Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis wrote in the letter that the Biden campaign had shared a digital advertisement on the Democratic candidate’s Twitter feed that incorporated claims from a viral Atlantic article alleging Trump had made derogatory remarks about fallen American military servicemembers. “The Atlantic article and the False and Misleading Ad both rely upon statements allegedly made by anonymous sources who were directly contradicted on the record by twenty-one individuals present with President Trump that day,” Ellis writes.


“Additionally, the contemporary facts in the Secret Service record totally debunk this fake story.” Ellis was referring to the nearly-two dozen individuals who have publicly disputed the story’s claims since its publication last week. Nobody has yet gone on-the-record confirming the story. Ellis in the letter “demand[s] that Joe Biden and the Biden Campaign immediately cease and desist using the False and Misleading Ad.” “We also ask Twitter and Facebook to review and apply their community standards equally and fairly and remove entirely the False and Misleading Ad from their platforms,” she added. Facebook and Twitter CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey were copied on the letter.

Read more …

For some people, war/not war is the most important issue of all. Like soldiers.

MSM Attempts To Spin Trump’s Attacks On Senseless Wars Distort Reality (RT)

The New York Times and CNN are desperate to paint Donald Trump as an enemy of the military, due to his desire not to get involved in pointless wars. But this is simply not true, and Trump has the backing of many soldiers. Someone should tell the New York Times, CNN and other mainstream media outlets that soldiers don’t actually like getting killed or maimed for no good reason. Nor do they like generals and presidents who spill their blood in vain. Alas, ignorance of these obvious truths probably isn’t the issue. This is likely just another case of the biggest names in news pretending to not get the point so they can take the rest of us along for a ride in their confidence game of alternative reality.

The latest example is the New York Times spinning President Donald Trump’s critique this week of Pentagon leadership and the military industrial complex as disrespect for the military at large. “Trump has lost the right and authority to be commander in chief,”the Times quoted retired US Marines General Anthony Zinni as saying. Zinni cited Trump’s alleged “despicable comments” about the nation’s war dead – reported last week by The Atlantic, citing anonymous sources – as one of the reasons Trump “must go.” Never mind that Trump and all on-the-record administration sources denied The Atlantic’s report. The Times couldn’t resist when the pieces seemed to fit so well together for the military’s latest propaganda campaign against Trump.

First the president disses the troops, calling them “losers” and “suckers,” then he has the temerity to say Pentagon leaders want to fight wars to keep defense contractors happy. Except the pieces don’t fit. The many people who occupy so-called boots on the ground don’t have the same interests as the few people who send them to war. In fact, combat troops are given reason to hate the generals who send them to die when there’s not a legitimate national security reason for the war they’re fighting. And the US has fought a long line of wars that didn’t serve the nation’s national security interests. Even when a war is justified, the interests of top brass and front-line soldiers often clash.

[..] Trump has managed to keep the US out of new wars and has drawn down deployments to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan – despite Pentagon opposition. His rival, Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, can be expected to rev up the war machine if he takes charge. His foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken, lamented in a May interview with CBS News that Trump had given up US “leverage” in Syria. Trump also has turned around the VA hospital system, ending decades of neglect that left many veterans to die on waiting lists.

Read more …

Is it November yet? They’re not going to stop this before then.

Ex-Judge Reviewing Flynn Cases Urges Guilty Plea Be Upheld (JTN)

A retired judge named to review Michael Flynn’s case recommended Friday the former national security adviser’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI be upheld, suggesting the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the charge was caused by pressure from President Trump. “In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious,” the former jurist John Gleeson wrote in a report to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is overseeing the case. “The government’s attempt to dress up a politically motivated dismissal that smacks of impropriety as a ‘policy judgment,’ should be rejected,” added Gleason, now a lawyer in private practice who used to be a federal judge in New York.


Gleeson’s views on the case were known before Sullivan even appointed him to write an independent report. Both Flynn’s lawyers and DOJ have argued the charge and guilty plea should be dismissed because of evidence of FBI and prosecutorial wrongdoing, including the withholding of exculpatory evidence of innocence that U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen uncovered during a review of the case. Sidney Powell, Flynn’s lawyer, on Friday lambasted Gleeson’s recommendation. “Gleeson’s filing was predictable and meaningless,” she tweeted. “It’s the irrelevant and wrong smear he intended it to be–ignoring the mountain of exculpatory evidence Mr. Jensen unearthed and produced that shows the investigation and prosecution of General Flynn was corrupt from its inception.”

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Both sides are spying and “influencing” like there’s no tomorrow.

Beijing To Impose Restrictions On All US Diplomats In China (AlJ)

Beijing will impose “reciprocal restrictions” on all American diplomats in China in response to earlier curbs on the activities of its embassy staff in the United States, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said. The unspecified countermeasures will apply to all US embassy and consulate staff, as well as the consulate-general in Hong Kong, a ministry statement said on Friday. “To urge the US to repeal its wrong decisions as soon as possible, the Chinese side has recently sent a diplomatic note announcing reciprocal restrictions on US embassy and consulates, the consulate-general in Hong Kong included,” it added.


The announcement comes days after China threatened to respond to a new raft of US restrictions on Chinese diplomats, such as a requirement to seek approval for university visits, holding cultural events with more than 50 people outside embassy grounds, or meetings with local officials. Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said those measures were a response to long-established controls on American diplomats in China, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing. It comes as part of a Trump administration campaign against alleged Chinese influence operations and espionage activity. The State Department had said it would also take action to help ensure all Chinese embassy and consular social media accounts were “properly identified”.

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No idea what the odds are he can win. But he’s rich enough to fight this fight, while most others are not.

Fortnite Maker: Apple and Google Monopolies Need To Be Stopped (NPR)

From his perch in Cary, North Carolina, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has launched a war against Silicon Valley powerhouses Apple and Google. The billionaire maker of video game phenomenon Fortnite dragged the tech giants to court last month over the 30% fee they charge on purchases made in their mobile app stores. Since then, Sweeney, an iconoclastic executive who owns enormous farms and dabbles in fast cars, has not talked publicly about his decision. He broke his silence to NPR, insisting he had the backing of countless other app developers who also believe the tech titans are taking advantage of them. “It’s not just Epic being exploited by Apple, but it’s every developer who goes along with that scheme colluding with Apple and Google to further their monopoly,” Sweeney said in the interview.

“These stores are making a lot more money from creative works than the creators.” In some ways, Sweeney said, being far away from the orbit of Silicon Valley, a culture he has long accused of “groupthink,” has made his gamble easier. He said many companies either rely too much on the tech giants to help them distribute their products and reach consumers, or dream of becoming the next Apple or Google themselves. “Everybody doesn’t have a great incentive to challenge Apple and Google’s 30% because they want to be the next bastard to charge 30%,” Sweeney said. To be clear, Apple and Google object to Sweeney’s characterization. They have long charged the 30% fee for in-app purchases. The companies say the commission supports technical staff who make sure apps on iPhones and Androids are safe and secure.

In response, Sweeney, a veteran computer programmer, says that justification is offensive. “Every Apple engineer who works on these services and ensures that iPhone is the most secure platform in the world has got to deeply resent the business guys for taking credit and claiming that their store monopoly is the reason why the platform is secure,” Sweeney said. “It’s just not true.” In its latest legal filing, Apple says Sweeney is positioning his company as a “modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality, it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing.”

Apple readily points out that Sweeney chose to break the rules that govern the app store — rules that clearly state developers cannot make users pay in-app purchases. Before Sweeney did that, leading to Apple’s tossing Fortnite out of its store, he wrote an email at 2 a.m. to tech executives including Apple CEO Tim Cook. He detailed what Epic was about to do, according to court documents. “We choose to follow this path in the firm belief that history and law are on our side,” he wrote in the email.

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Starting a religion?

Left, Right Mock Pelosi For Saying Angry Mother Earth Caused Wildfires (RT)

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi was bombarded with online mockery after saying that massive ongoing wildfires raging in California were the result of “Mother Earth” and her displeasure with humans. The house speaker addressed the blazing wildfires that have engulfed her home state on Friday in an interview with MSNBC. “Mother Earth is angry,” Pelosi said. “She’s telling us … with hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, fires in the west, whatever it is … the climate crisis is real and has an impact.” Her colorful rhetoric did not sit well with either the political left or right, as both factions took to social media to air their various grievances with the politician and her figure of speech.

Some on the left recalled that the speaker publicly dismissed the ‘Green New Deal’, an anti-climate change proposal drafted by progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Pelosi famously called it “green dream or whatever,” which some noted was in stark contrast to her latest “Mother Earth” language. “Didn’t Pelosi mock the idea of a green new deal? Spare us your crocodile tears,” one person wrote. Conservatives, on the other hand, made light of what they perceived as hyperbole, mocking Pelosi for presuming to speak for the forces of nature and calling into question the Democrats’ definition of themselves as the “party of science.” Some users had other simpler theories, saying that California has “horribly mismanaged its forests” and that might be responsible for the wildfires’ scale.

Then there were those who didn’t take any issue with Pelosi’s comment, saying she was “so right.” The 2020 California wildfires have become an inescapable political topic as they tinted the state’s skies orange due to their sheer scale. Cal Fire confirmed this week that one of the fires was sparked by a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” used at a ‘gender reveal’ party in San Bernardino County.

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There is a huge communication problem here. IPCC projections for 2300 are utterly meaningless for people living today. You MUST change your message.

Earth Barreling Toward ‘Hothouse’ State Not Seen In 50 Million Years (LS)

Sixty-six million years ago, after a massive asteroid hit Earth with the explosive energy of roughly 1 billion nuclear bombs, a shroud of ash, dust and vaporized rock covered the sky and slowly rained down on the planet. As plant and animal species died en masse, tiny undersea amoebas called forams continued to reproduce, building sturdy shells out of calcium and other deep-sea minerals, just as they had for hundreds of millions of years. When each foram inevitably died — pulverized into seabed sediment — they kept a little piece of Earth’s ancient history alive in their fossilized shells. For decades, scientists have studied those shells, finding clues about the ancient Earth’s ocean temperatures, its carbon budget and the composition of minerals spilling through the air and seas.


Now, in a new study published today (Sept. 10) in the journal Science, researchers have analyzed the chemical elements in thousands of foram samples to build the most detailed climate record of Earth ever — and it reveals just how dire our current climate situation is. The new paper, which comprises decades of deep-ocean drilling missions into a single record, details Earth’s climate swings across the entire Cenozoic era — the 66 million-year period that began with the death of the dinosaurs and extends to the present epoch of human-induced climate change. The results show how Earth transitioned through four distinct climate states — dubbed the Warmhouse, Hothouse, Coolhouse and Icehouse states — in response to changes in the planet’s orbit, greenhouse gas levels and the extent of polar ice sheets.

The zig-zagging chart (shown above) ends with a sobering peak. According to the researchers, the current pace of anthropogenic global warming far exceeds the natural climate fluctuations seen at any other point in the Cenozoic era, and has the potential to hyper-drive our planet out of a long icehouse phase into a searing hothouse state. “Now that we have succeeded in capturing the natural climate variability, we can see that the projected anthropogenic warming will be much greater than that,” study co-author James Zachos, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a statement. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections for 2300 in the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario will potentially bring global temperature to a level the planet has not seen in 50 million years.”

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The only thing I think these days when seeinng people dragging take-out coffees down the street is: 500 YEARS. That’s how long it will take for that cup you use for 10 minutes to dissolve.

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled (NPR)

Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups. None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried. “To me that felt like it was a betrayal of the public trust,” she said. “I had been lying to people … unwittingly.” Rogue, like most recycling companies, had been sending plastic trash to China, but when China shut its doors two years ago, Leebrick scoured the U.S. for buyers. She could find only someone who wanted white milk jugs. She sends the soda bottles to the state. But when Leebrick tried to tell people the truth about burying all the other plastic, she says people didn’t want to hear it.

“I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.” But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite. NPR and PBS Frontline spent months digging into internal industry documents and interviewing top former officials. We found that the industry sold the public on an idea it knew wouldn’t work — that the majority of plastic could be, and would be, recycled — all while making billions of dollars selling the world new plastic.

The industry’s awareness that recycling wouldn’t keep plastic out of landfills and the environment dates to the program’s earliest days, we found. “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis,” one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech. Yet the industry spent millions telling people to recycle, because, as one former top industry insider told NPR, selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn’t true. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, known today as the Plastics Industry Association and one of the industry’s most powerful trade groups in Washington, D.C., told NPR.

[..] Here’s the basic problem: All used plastic can be turned into new things, but picking it up, sorting it out and melting it down is expensive. Plastic also degrades each time it is reused, meaning it can’t be reused more than once or twice. On the other hand, new plastic is cheap. It’s made from oil and gas, and it’s almost always less expensive and of better quality to just start fresh. All of these problems have existed for decades, no matter what new recycling technology or expensive machinery has been developed. In all that time, less than 10 percent of plastic has ever been recycled.

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Babylon Bee.

Nobel Peace Prize Committee Tells Trump To Launch More Drone Strikes (B. Bee)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee was reportedly considering President Trump as a recipient of its prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, as the president had submitted his name for consideration to them over 67 times. But after reviewing his credentials, the committee concluded that he had not launched enough drone strikes against foreigners to qualify. “Yeah, you’ve dabbled in attacks, but what we’re really looking for is someone who’s really committed to a secret drone war,” said a spokesperson for the committee. “Look at previous winners like Barack Obama: now there’s a shining example of someone who achieved world peace not through lame diplomacy but by blowing up foreigners with impunity.”


Obama also criticized Trump’s drone strike count, saying they were “rookie numbers” and he needs to “pump those numbers up.” “My fellow Americans, it represents a danger to democracy when we have a president who’s either unwilling or unable to bomb as many foreigners as I did,” Obama said, reading off a teleprompter. “During my scandal-free presidency, I was able to drop over 26,000 bombs some years.” “Those were the days,” he added, going off-script as his eyes glazed over and he recalled the feeling of dark, evil power that coursed through his veins when he ordered drone strikes on foreign nations we were not at war with, innocent civilians, and the occasional American citizen. The Nobel Prize committee said they would consider Trump again next year, provided he starts a war with Iran.

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Jan 222020
 


Jack Delano Repair and overhauling in Chicago & North Western Railroad locomotive shops, Chicago 1942

 

New Coronavirus Has Unusually High Ability To Bind To A Human Protein (SCMP)
Life After Putin (Dmitry Orlov)
Senate Votes Down Democrats’ Subpoena Proposals (G.)
Adam Schiff Caught ‘Fabricating’ Evidence (US24)
Hillary Clinton Kicks Off ‘Stop Sanders’ Movement. Will Obama Follow? (Y!)
Why Congress Must Keep Investigating Trump After the Impeachment Trial (Pol.)
Ukrainian Prosecutor Biden Pushed To Oust Heavily Investigated Burisma (RT)
Joe Biden’s ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Memo To Media Doesn’t Match The Facts (Solomon)
Brazil Charges Glenn Greenwald With Cybercrimes (ZH)
Boeing Has Officially Stopped Making 737 MAX Airplanes (CNN)
You Won’t Be Flying On A 737 MAX Anytime Soon (CNN)
General Strike Planned On Greek Aegean Islands Today Over Migration (K.)
US Drinking Water Widely Contaminated With ‘Forever Chemicals’ (R.)
People Still Want Plastic Bottles, Says Coca-Cola (BBC)

 

 

A pretty good description. of the virus. There are 11 million people living in Wuhan. Officials now suggest no-one should leave or enter the city. Cases in Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, US.

New Coronavirus Has Unusually High Ability To Bind To A Human Protein (SCMP)

The coronavirus discovered in Wuhan may share the same bat-related ancestor as Sars, according to the latest study by Chinese scientists, which said the strain was weaker than the devastating 2002-03 Sars outbreak but was still “highly infectious”. The new virus shares a common ancestor with severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), in HKU9-1, a virus found in fruit bats, they found. The connection with wild animals was confirmed on Wednesday by Gao Fu, director general of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. According to Gao, the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 400 people across the country and led to nine deaths, originated from wild animals sold at a seafood market in Wuhan.

Gao warned that a major challenge was that the new strain was adapting and mutating. The scientists’ findings, published on Tuesday, suggested that the danger posed by the pneumonia-like virus may have been underestimated by the research community, and came a day after the Chinese government’s announcement of emergency measures to contain its spread. A joint research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai estimated how the viral strain would interact with cells in the human respiratory system using computer simulation based on released data. “The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate,” the researchers said in a statement released with the paper.

Previously, most scientists believed the new virus could not cause an epidemic as serious as that of Sars because its genes were quite different. According to their calculations, the binding-free energy between the virus and the protein would be minus 50.6 kcal per mol, five times what was “usually considered significant”. “Although comparably weaker [than Sars], the Wuhan CoV S-protein is regarded to have strong binding affinity to human ACE2,” they wrote in a paper published on China Science Bulletin. What surprised the scientists most, however, was that the virus could maintain the strong binding ability despite its significant structural differences from Sars. Of the virus’ five amino acids that play important roles in the binding process, four are different from those of Sars.

Further examination of the virus’ structure showed that overall its binding protein had a high resemblance to that of Sars. The researchers also traced the evolution of the new virus in a government coronavirus database. On the evolutionary tree, the new virus belonged to Betacoronavirus, on a close but different branch to Sars. The two shared about 70 to 80 per cent of genes, less than the similarity between pigs and humans. Meanwhile, a senior researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was not involved in the new study, told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday that the new strain was an RNA virus, meaning that its mutation speed was 100 times faster than that of a DNA virus such as smallpox. RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules are simpler than DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules.

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Always happy to see my view of Putin shared by others, and certainly when it’s Dmitry. Any major country on the planet could only wish they had Putin to lead it, and serve the best interests of its citizens. Of course we can’t get any real picture of this in the western press, who treat him as the bogey man, along with their governments.

Can you even imagine where the US would be if Putin had been its leader for the past 20 years? Try this stateside: “Proposed changes will insure that incomes and pensions are such that everybody has decent living conditions

Life After Putin (Dmitry Orlov)

[..] we need to draw a distinction between Putin the man and the system of governance he has built over the past 20 years. There is always plenty to complain about, but overall it has been quite effective. During Putin’s period in power, Russia has solved the problems of separatism and domestic terrorism, reigned in the predatory oligarchy, paid off virtually all of its foreign debts including ones it inherited from the USSR, grew its economy by a factor of six (vs. China’s five and USA’s one), regained Crimea (which had been part of Russia since 1783), rebuilt its armed forces to a point where international security is no longer a major concern, and achieved an overall level of societal well-being that is unparalleled in all of Russian history.

The system of governance he has built has worked well with him as the head of government, but it will require some adjustments in order to work well under future presidents, who may not be equally gifted. Recognizing this fact, on Wednesday Putin has launched a limited overhaul of the Russian Constitution. In addition to an entire raft of minor tweaks that will limit the powers of the President and give more powers to the Parliament, to provide for better checks and balances and a more democratically responsive system, there are a few proposed changes that stand out.

[..] Proposed changes will insure that incomes and pensions are such that everybody has decent living conditions. There are also proposed legislative changes to what’s called “maternal capital” to make having more than two children financially attractive. The demographic situation in Russia is not as dire as it was in the 1990s, and certainly a lot less dire than in Western Europe whose native populations are rapidly going extinct, but the fact remains that to achieve its stated goals Russia is going to need a lot more Russians. The Russian government has the money to spend on these initiatives, and getting the job done is largely a matter of lighting a fire under the federal and regional bureaucracies.

Spelling out the social guarantees right in the Constitution is a good way to make that happen. Putin proposed that the constitutional changes be voted for in a referendum. Beyond the procedural nicety and the legitimizing effect of this exercise, it is sure to stimulate a lot more public interest and civic participation, making it more likely that the ever foot-dragging Russian bureaucrats (in the more remote regions especially) will be prevailed upon to act swiftly to enact the changes.

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And this is just the beginning. God help us. More Adam Schiff show.

Senate Votes Down Democrats’ Subpoena Proposals (G.)

Democratic hopes that a moderate bloc of Senate Republicans would join their demand for witnesses and testimony at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial were temporarily disappointed, if not dashed, as arguments on the first proper day of the trial extended past midnight into Wednesday morning. In seven consecutive votes split precisely along party lines, the Senate voted down Democratic proposals to subpoena testimony from four potential witnesses and documents from multiple government agencies. An eighth vote defeated a proposal to prevent the selective admission of evidence. “I know it’s late, but it doesn’t have to be late,” Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment “manager”, or prosecutor in the case, said as the proceedings entered their 12th hour. “We don’t control the schedule. There is a reason why we are still here at five minutes till midnight, and that’s because they don’t want the American people to see what’s going on here.”


Democrats fruitlessly called for testimony and documents from the former national security adviser John Bolton; the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; Mulvaney’s aide Robert Blair; the budget official Michael Duffey; the White House; the state department; the defense department; and the budget office relevant to an alleged scheme by Trump to twist the powers of the presidency to extract personal political favors from Ukraine. Each of the proposed subpoenas was defeated by a 53-47 vote. Democrats accused Republicans of failing to commit to a fair impeachment trial and of engaging in a “cover-up” of misconduct by the president. “The president is engaged in this cover-up because he is guilty, and he knows it,” said Representative Val Demings of Florida, one of the impeachment managers .

https://twitter.com/i/status/1219661000556847107

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A bit sensational, but still you want to ask: Why?

Adam Schiff Caught ‘Fabricating’ Evidence (US24)

A bombshell new report is derailing the Democrats’ momentum against President Trump on Day One of the Senate impeachment trial. The article — in the left-leaning Politico of all places — on Tuesday night alleges that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff appears to have “mischaracterized” evidence that was used in House Democrats’ impeachment investigation. But Republicans are ridiculing the report as an attempt to “soft-pedal” his actions, insisting that Schiff “fabricated evidence” in a naked attempt to “frame” Trump. Either way, the shocking late-night report has thrown the Democrats’ Senate plan into complete chaos.

The stunning report focuses on a letter that Schiff sent to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) last week that summarizes “a trove of evidence from Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani,” Politico reported. “In one section of the letter, Schiff claims that Parnas ‘continued to try to arrange a meeting with President Zelensky,’ citing a specific text message exchange where Parnas tells Giuliani: ‘trying to get us mr Z.’ The remainder of the exchange — which was attached to Schiff’s letter — was redacted.”

Politico added, “But an unredacted version of the exchange shows that several days later, Parnas sent Giuliani a word document that appears to show notes from an interview with Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma, followed by a text message to Giuliani that states: ‘mr Z answers my brother.’ That suggests Parnas was referring to Zlochevsky not Zelensky.” Democrat officials did not dispute the suggestion that Schiff’s claim was false. [..] one senior GOP aide told Politico: “[..] given the selective redactions and contextual clues, it seems as though Chairman Schiff sought to deliberately portray an innocuous meeting with Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky as an insidious one with the President of Ukraine simply because both of their surnames start with the letter Z.”

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As I said yesterday: “This week, Bernie is sexist. Stay tuned for next week, when we’ll find he’s racist too. If his numbers still don’t plummet then, he’ll be an anti-semitic Jew.”

Hillary Clinton Kicks Off ‘Stop Sanders’ Movement. Will Obama Follow? (Y!)

Nothing the Clintons do is accidental. And so when the news broke less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses that in a forthcoming Hulu documentary, Hillary Clinton badmouths her 2016 rival Bernie Sanders as a “career politician” whom “nobody likes,” it didn’t just call attention to the ill feeling still lingering from that year’s bitter primary campaign. It also signaled that Clinton has thrown her weight behind the nascent “Stop Sanders” movement gaining steam among Democratic power brokers. The question now is whether Democratic voters will follow her lead — and whether Barack Obama himself might come out of semiretirement to join the cause. Asked by the Hollywood Reporter whether she would endorse and campaign for Sanders if he were to win the nomination, Clinton refused to commit. “I’m not going to go there yet,” she said.

Clinton immediately added, however, that her beef is “not only” with Sanders but with “the culture around him” — a culture she considers sexist. “It’s his leadership team,” Clinton said. “It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it. And I don’t think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don’t know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you’re just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala [Harris] or after Elizabeth [Warren].”

Then Clinton twisted the knife: “I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.” Clinton’s timing is conspicuous. Since the start of the 2016 primary, pundits and mainstream Democrats have refused to consider Sanders a serious threat for the nomination. That’s changed in recent weeks as Sanders has surged to the top of the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, cementing his status as the nearest competitor to frontrunner Joe Biden while also out-fundraising the entire field. Meanwhile, the headlines about Clinton’s remarks come on the heels of Sanders’s clash with Warren over the same subject: his (and his campaign’s) alleged sexism. In other words, this isn’t coming out of nowhere: Clinton is piggybacking on a fresh controversy at a pivotal moment.

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But of course. It must be perennial.

Why Congress Must Keep Investigating Trump After the Impeachment Trial (Pol.)

Unlike a typical trial, the upcoming impeachment trial of President Donald Trump won’t establish facts or put an end to investigations about the Ukraine scheme at the heart of this case. Given that new allegations and evidence continue to emerge, a new investigation will be necessary. Although we still don’t know exactly what the trial will look like, public statements by senators suggest that we won’t hear from many witnesses—and could hear from none at all. That’s exactly what Trump’s legal team is asking for, which comes as no surprise because lawyers rarely want to prolong trials if they think they’ve already got the jury on their side. As it stands now, there is little doubt that Republicans are prepared to vote against removing Trump from office—which is why Democrats want to shake things up with witnesses they haven’t had the opportunity to interview, like former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

But the fact that months of Congressional inquiry into Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine is almost certain to end in acquittal does not mean that Congress’s work is done. So much of the story of the Ukraine scheme at the heart of Trump’s impeachment still is not public that Congress is obligated to resume its inquiry regardless of the outcome in the Senate. There can be no serious question that Trump held up military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that would help him politically, but many details of the scheme are still not known. How little we know about the Ukraine scheme headlined by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was underscored by public interviews given last week by Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who currently faces a federal indictment in the Southern District of New York.

Parnas made sweeping claims, such as his assertion that Trump was “aware of all of my movements” and that Attorney General Bill Barr was “basically on the team.” These are provocative and damning assertions. But how exactly does Parnas claim to know all of this? [..] Parnas presented evidence that former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance. The American people—and Yovanovitch—deserve to know whether that allegation is true and exactly why Trump’s associates were surveilling our own ambassador. After all, it is possible this scheme constituted a federal crime, such as a conspiracy to threaten or assault a federal official.

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We knew that already. But Biden is sending around a memo denying it.

Ukrainian Prosecutor Biden Pushed To Oust Heavily Investigated Burisma (RT)

The Ukrainian prosecutor who Joe Biden pushed to oust had six cases against Burisma but they fizzled out after he left, a new documentary shows challenging the narrative by the former vice president that the media failed to check. When Joe Biden lobbied Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to replace Viktor Shokin with Yuriy Lutsenko in 2015, his entourage claimed that Shokin had failed to thoroughly investigate corruption, and by pushing for his replacement “saint” Biden even acted against his family’s interests. But the second episode of the documentary series ‘UkraineGate: Inconvenient facts’ produced by French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, founder of popular anti-corruption and economics blog Les Crises, shows information that undermines this narrative.

The American media reported that Shokin’s case against Ukrainian energy company Burisma had gone “dormant,” and that by pressing for Lutsenko’s appointment, Biden was quashing corruption, even if that meant subjecting his own son to investigation in the process. Hunter Biden was on the company’s board from 2014 till 2019. However, documents collected by Berruyer show that Shokin’s Burisma probe was far from “dormant.” Shokin himself even told ABC News that his office had six investigations into Burisma open at the time of his resignation. Lutsenko, he said, “stopped all those cases.”

ABC didn’t air this part of the interview, and the American media – including the Washington Post and the New York Times – continue to label Shokin’s investigation “dormant,” despite a number of publicly available documents showing otherwise and presented in the documentary.

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John Solomon is back.

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

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

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

Fact: Joe Biden admitted to forcing Shokin’s firing in March 2016.

Fact: Shokin’s prosecutors were actively investigating Burisma when he was fired.

Fact: Burisma’s lawyers in 2016 were pressing U.S. and Ukrainian authorities to end the corruption investigations.

Fact: There is substantial evidence Joe Biden and his office knew about the Burisma probe and his son’s role as a board member.

Fact: Federal Ethics rules requires government officials to avoid taking policy actions affecting close relatives.

Fact: Multiple State Department officials testified the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Fact: Hunter Biden acknowleged he may have gotten his Burisma job solely because of his last name.

Fact: Ukraine law enforcement reopened the Burisma investigation in early 2019, well before President Trump mentioned the matter to Ukraine’s new president Vlodymyr Zelensky.

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Accused of “..hacking the cellphones of Brazilian prosecutors and public officials..”

Brazil Charges Glenn Greenwald With Cybercrimes (ZH)

Prosecutors in Brazil charged American journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes on Tuesday for his role in spreading embarrassing text messages that exposed corruption within the Brazilian judicial system, according to the New York Times. In a 91-page criminal complaint made public on Tuesday, Greenwald is accused of participating in a “criminal organization” that spread text messages which called into question the “integrity, professionalism and motives of key members of Brazil’s justice system — particularly of figures directly involved in the investigation of a vast corruption scheme that resulted in the imprisonment of powerful business and political figures.” Greenwald – who moved to Brazil in 2005 with his husband David Miranda – now a congressman, went beyond simply receiving the texts and publishing newsworthy information according to prosecutors.

“Citing intercepted messages between Mr. Greenwald and the hackers, prosecutors say the journalist played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime.” For instance, prosecutors contend that Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks. Prosecutors also say that Mr. Greenwald was communicating with the hackers while they were actively monitoring private chats on Telegram, a messaging app”. -New York Times. Greenwald – an attorney, rose to international prominence in 2013 for his role in the release of classified documents revealing America’s extensive NSA surveillance apparatus, after National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents to Greenwald, who worked for The Guardian at the time.

In 2016, Greenwald launched The Intercept Brasil, which began publishing articles based on the leaked text exchanges last June. “The articles raised questions about the integrity, professionalism and motives of key members of Brazil’s justice system — particularly of figures directly involved in the investigation of a vast corruption scheme that resulted in the imprisonment of powerful business and political figures. Among the revelations in the articles, for instance, were chats in which Sérgio Moro, a former federal judge who handled the prosecution of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2017, provided strategic guidance to prosecutors, in violation of legal and ethical norms. Mr. Moro is now Brazil’s justice minister. -New York Times.

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Someone lend them the $10 billion.

Boeing Has Officially Stopped Making 737 MAX Airplanes (CNN)

The Boeing 737 Max is officially on hold. The assembly line in Renton, Washington, has stopped building Boeing’s bestselling plane, the company confirmed late Monday. Boeing announced plans to temporarily halt production for an undetermined period in December, but it had not previously announced a precise day for the shutdown. Boeing will not furlough or lay off workers because of the shutdown, but pain will ripple through its supply chain and could hurt America’s economic growth. The shutdown will make restarting production and recovering from the crisis more difficult for Boeing once it finally gets permission for the plane to fly again. The 737 Max has been grounded since March..

Although Boeing couldn’t deliver the 737 Max planes to customers, the company continued to build the jets, albeit at a slightly reduced pace of 42 a month. It now has about 400 completed jets parked in Washington and Texas, waiting to be delivered to airlines around the world. But Boeing doesn’t get most of its money from the sale of the jets until they are delivered, and it could not indefinitely continue to incur the costs of building them without being able to deliver them. The company hoped that the plane would fly again before the end of 2019. But in December Stephen Dickson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, announced approval would not come until some time in 2020. Shutdown plans were announced a week later.

Boeing would not release a headcount for people who had been working on the plane. The company said the employees will be reassigned to other duties during the shutdown, and there are a number of reasons for that. First, under federal labor law, Boeing would have to pay them for 60 days following a layoff notice. Since Boeing is still hoping to resume work on the plane soon, it probably would have limited cost savings to go through the process of laying off the workers. And with unemployment in the Seattle metropolitan area at 2.9% – lower than the national unemployment rate that’s at a 50-year low – Boeing can’t risk losing the workers it needs once production resumes.

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All pilots in the US must now do simulator training. The exact issue that made Boeing screw around with the plane to make it appear like it was the same as with the much smaller engine, so no training was needed. Very dumb. When this thing started, there were lerss than a handful simulators available. Have they built a lot more since? I’d like to know. These things don’t come cheap.

You Won’t Be Flying On A 737 MAX Anytime Soon (CNN)

No one knows when the Boeing 737 Max will return to service. But it won’t be any time soon. Boeing eagerly awaits the US FAA’s approval to allow the grounded plane to fly again. But the FAA refuses to provide a specific timeframe, saying only that it will make a decision sometime this year. “We continue to work with other international aviation safety regulators to review the proposed changes to the aircraft,” said the FAA’s most recent statement on the plane, issued on January 9. “Our first priority is safety, and we have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed.” The plane has been grounded since March. Boeing had initially hoped a fix for the safety system, known as MCAS, could be approved in a matter of weeks after the second crash.

But it has missed target date after target date for completion of the process. Aerospace analysts believe regulatory approval could come in the spring. Cai von Rumohr of Cowen now forecasts March. Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group says he’s thinking April or perhaps May. But they both say that is only their best guess at this point. [..] It’s also unclear whether aviation regulators around the world will follow the FAA’s lead and approve the plane to fly when it is cleared to fly in the United States. More than 80% of the planes are in foreign countries. One of the reasons the FAA has emphasized its work with other regulators is the agency hopes they will quickly follow its lead. But the process of getting that consensus is also causing delays, according to industry experts.

After the 737 Max is approved to return to service, it will be at least weeks, if not months, before any of them are carrying paying passengers once again. Boeing and the FAA have agreed that as part of the return to service 737 Max pilots will first complete simulator training. Pilots were previously permitted to fly the 737 Max without learning the specifics of the aircraft on a simulator. The new trainings won’t start until the certification process is complete. That will slow the time it will take to have the teams of pilots necessary to handle the flights. [..] Southwest and American Airlines have both announced they have canceled flights until early June, at the start of the summer travel season.

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The EU has done it. It’s turned the Greeks against immigrants.

General Strike Planned On Greek Aegean Islands Today Over Migration (K.)

The Greek government is under growing strain over immigration amid ongoing protests against plans to create at least 10 closed pre-departure centers across the country coupled with a delay in the disbursement of European Union funds for that purpose. Meanwhile tension at existing hotspots is brewing. A 17-year-old Afghan girl was hospitalized in serious condition on Monday after being stabbed by a 20-year-old fellow Afghan at Lesvos’ Moria camp. The attacker was arrested. On Sunday, newly installed Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis was heckled by locals during visits to Lesvos and Samos.

During his trip, Mitarakis stressed that reducing immigration flows is a top priority of the government. However, a general strike is planned on the Aegean islands on Wednesday in response to its perceived failure to do so. Meanwhile, a survey by the diaNEOsis nonprofit think tank shows that most Greeks believe migrants and refugees have a negative impact on the country. The survey found that 85.2 percent of respondents said that the number of immigrants in Greece is “very or too high.” Just 12.1 percent said that the number is “normal.” At the same time, 79 percent disagreed with the statement that migrants are a solution to the country’s demographic problem.

Meanwhile, 56 percent said they believe that migrants have a negative impact on the economy, while 58 percent said that their presence is a “threat to our national identity.” However, 30 percent recognized the cultural enrichment brought by migrants. Asked about crime, 53 percent said they believe that migrants are responsible for soaring crime rates while 44 percent said that Greeks and non-Greeks were as likely to engage in criminal behavior.

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Oh well, overpopulation and things…

US Drinking Water Widely Contaminated With ‘Forever Chemicals’ (R.)

The contamination of U.S. drinking water with man-made “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group. The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems. The findings here by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.

“It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. The chemicals were used in products like Teflon and Scotchguard and in firefighting foam. Some are used in a variety of other products and industrial processes, and their replacements also pose risks. Of tap water samples taken by EWG from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington D.C., only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which relies on 700 foot (215 m) deep wells, had no detectable PFAS. Only Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama had levels below 1 part per trillion (PPT), the limit EWG recommends.

In addition, EWG found that on average six to seven PFAS compounds were found at the tested sites, and the effects on health of the mixtures are little understood. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals,” Andrews said. In 34 places where EWG’s tests found PFAS, contamination had not been publicly reported by the EPA or state environmental agencies. The EPA has known since at least 2001 about the problem of PFAS in drinking water but has so far failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. The EPA said early last year it would begin the process to set limits on two of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.

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Stop drinking the poison.

People Still Want Plastic Bottles, Says Coca-Cola (BBC)

Coca-Cola will not ditch single-use plastic bottles because consumers still want them, the firm’s head of sustainability has told the BBC. Customers like them because they reseal and are lightweight, said Bea Perez. The firm, which is one of the biggest producers of plastic waste, has pledged to recycle as many plastic bottles as it uses by 2030. But environmental campaigners argue many Coke bottles would still go uncollected and end up in landfill. The drinks giant produces about three million tonnes of plastic packaging a year – equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute. In 2019, it was found to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste by the charity Break Free from Plastic.


But speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ms Perez said the firm recognised it now had to be “part of the solution”. Coke has pledged to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030. It is also partnering with NGOs around the world to help improve collection. However, Ms Perez said the firm could not ditch plastic outright, as some campaigners wanted, saying this could alienate customers and hit sales. She also said using only aluminium and glass packaging could push up the firm’s carbon footprint. “Business won’t be in business if we don’t accommodate consumers,” she said. “So as we change our bottling infrastructure, move into recycling and innovate, we also have to show the consumer what the opportunities are. They will change with us.”

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I know, it’s corny

 

 

 

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Jun 142015
 
 June 14, 2015  Posted by at 7:09 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Milton Greene “Actress Marilyn Monroe in bed” 1955

Through the last decades, as we have been getting ever more occupied trying to be what society tells us is defined as successful, we all missed out on a lot of changes in our world. Or perhaps we should be gentle to ourselves and say we’re simply slow to catch up.

Which is somewhat curious since we’ve also been getting bombarded with fast increasing amounts of what we’re told is information, so you’d think it might have become easier to keep up. It was not.

While we were busy being busy we for instance were largely oblivious to the fact the US is no longer a beneficial force in the world, and that it doesn’t spread democracy or freedom. Now you may argue to what extent that has ever been true, and you should, but the perception was arguably much closer to the truth 70 years ago, at the end of WWII, then it is today.

Another change we really can’t get our heads around is how the media have turned from a source of information to a source of – pre-fabricated – narratives. We’ll all say to some extent or another that we know our press feeds us propaganda, but, again arguably, few of us are capable of pinpointing to what extent that is true. Perhaps no big surprise given the overdose of what passes for information, but duly noted.

So far so good, you’re not as smart as you think. Bummer. But still an easy one to deny in the private space of your own head. If you get undressed and stand in front of the mirror, though, maybe not as easy.

What ails us is, I was going to say perfectly human, but let’s stick with just human, and leave perfection alone. What makes us human is that it feels good to be protected, safe, and prosperous. Protected from evil and from hard times, by a military force, by a monetary fund, by a monetary union. It feels so good in fact that we don’t notice when what’s supposed to keep us safe turns against us.

But it is what happens, time and again, and, once again arguably, ever more so. What we think the world looks like is increasingly shaped by fiction. Perhaps that means we live in dreamtime. Or nightmare time. Whatever you call it, it’s not real. Pinching yourself is not going to help. Reading Orwell might.

The Sunday Times ran a story today -which the entire world press parroted quasi verbatim- that claimed MI6 had felt compelled to call back some of its operatives from the ‘field’ because Russia and China had allegedly hacked into the encrypted files Edward Snowden allegedly carried with him to Russia (something Snowden denied on multiple occasions).

Glenn Greenwald’s take down of the whole thing is – for good reasons- far better than I could provide, and it’s blistering, it leaves not a single shred of the article. Problem is, the die’s been cast, and many more people read the Times and all the media who’ve reprinted its fiction, than do read Greenwald:

The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story Is Journalism At Its Worst

Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major US and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials – laundered through their media – as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting.

We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” Just as the conventional media narrative was shifting to pro-Snowden sentiment in the wake of a key court ruling and a new surveillance law, the article claims in the first paragraph that these two adversaries “have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.”

Please read Greenwald’s piece. It’s excellent. Turns out the Times made it all up. At the same time, it’s just one example of something much more expansive: the entire world view of the vast majority of Americans and Europeans, and that means you too, is weaved together from a smorgasbord of made-up stories, narratives concocted to make you see what someone else wants you to see.

Last week, the Pew Research Center did a survey that was centered around the question what ‘we’ should do if a NATO ally were attacked by Russia. How Pew dare hold such a survey is for most people not even a valid question anymore, since the Putin as bogeyman tale, after a year and change, has taken root in 99% of western brains.

And so the Pew question, devoid of reality as it may be, appears more legit than the question about why the question is asked in the first place. NATO didn’t really like the results of the survey, but enough to thump some more chests. Here’s from an otherwise wholly forgettable NY Times piece:

Poles were most alarmed by Moscow’s muscle flexing, with 70% saying that Russia was a major military threat. Germany, a critical American ally in the effort to forge a Ukraine peace settlement, was at the other end of the spectrum. Only 38% of Germans said that Russia was a danger to neighboring countries aside from Ukraine, and only 29% blamed Russia for the violence in Ukraine. Consequently, 58% of Germans do not believe that their country should use force to defend another NATO ally. Just 19% of Germans say NATO weapons should be sent to the Ukrainian government to help it better contend with Russian and separatist attacks.

Do we need to repeat that Russia didn’t attack Ukraine? That if after all this time there is still zero proof for that, perhaps it’s time to let go of that idea?

Over the past week, there have been numerous reports of NATO ‘strengthening’ its presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Supposedly to deter Russian aggression in the region. For which there is no evidence. But if you ask people if NATO should act if one of its allies were attacked, you put the idea in people’s heads that such an attack is a real risk. And that’s the whole idea.

This crazy piece from the Guardian provides a very good example of how the mood is manipulated:

US And Poland In Talks Over Weapons Deployment In Eastern Europe

The US and Poland are discussing the deployment of American heavy weapons in eastern Europe in response to Russian expansionism and sabre-rattling in the region in what represents a radical break with post-cold war military planning. The Polish defence ministry said on Sunday that Washington and Warsaw were in negotiations about the permanent stationing of US battle tanks and other heavy weaponry in Poland and other countries in the region as part of NATO’s plans to develop rapid deployment “Spearhead” forces aimed at deterring Kremlin attempts to destabilise former Soviet bloc countries now entrenched inside NATO and the EU.

Warsaw said that a decision whether to station heavy US equipment at warehouses in Poland would be taken soon. NATO’s former supreme commander in Europe, American admiral James Stavridis, said the decision marked “a very meaningful policy shift”, amid eastern European complaints that western Europe and the US were lukewarm about security guarantees for countries on the frontline with Russia following Vladimir Putin’s seizure of parts of Ukraine. “It provides a reasonable level of reassurance to jittery allies, although nothing is as good as troops stationed full time on the ground, of course,” the retired admiral told the New York Times.

NATO has been accused of complacency in recent years. The Russian president’s surprise attacks on Ukraine have shocked western military planners into action. An alliance summit in Wales last year agreed quick deployments of NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic states. German mechanised infantry crossed into Poland at the weekend after thousands of NATO forces inaugurated exercises as part of the new buildup in the east. Wary of antagonising Moscow’s fears of western “encirclement” and feeding its well-oiled propaganda effort, which regularly asserts that NATO agreed at the end of the cold war not to station forces in the former Warsaw Pact countries, NATO has declined to establish permanent bases in the east.

It’s downright borderline criminally tragic that NATO claims it’s building up its presence in the region as a response to Russian actions. What actions? Nothing was going on until ‘we’ supported a coup in Kiev, installed a puppet government and let them wage war on their own citizens. That war killed a lot of people. And if Kiev has any say in the matter, it ain’t over by a long shot. Poroshenko and Yats still want it all back. So does NATO.

When signing a post-cold war strategic cooperation pact with Russia in 1997, Nato pledged not to station ground forces permanently in eastern Europe “in the current and foreseeable security environment”. But that environment has been transformed by Putin’s decision to invade and annex parts of Ukraine and the 1997 agreement is now seen as obsolete.

Meanwhile, Russia re-took Crimea without a single shot being fired. But that is still what the western press calls aggression. Russia doesn’t even deem to respond to ‘our’ innuendo, they feel there’s nothing to be gained from that because ‘our’ stories have been pre-cooked and pre-chewed anyway. Something that we are going to greatly regret.

There are all these alphabet soup organizations that were once set up with, one last time, arguably, good intentions, and that now invent narratives because A) they can and B) they need a reason to continue to exist. That is true for NATO, which should have been dismantled 25 years ago.

It’s true for the IMF, which was always only a tool for US domination. It’s true for the CIA and FBI, which might keep you safe if that was their intent, but which really only function to keep themselves and their narrow group of paymasters safe.

It’s also true for political unions, like the US and EU. Let’s leave the former alone for now, though much could be said and written about the gaping distance between what the Founding Fathers once envisioned for the nation and what it has since descended into.

Still, that is a story for another day. When we can find our way through the web of narratives that holds it upright. Like the threat from Russia, the threat from China, the threat from all the factions in the Middle East the US itself (helped) set up.

The EU is much younger, though its bureaucrats seem eager to catch up with America in fictitious web weaving. We humans stink at anything supra-national. We can have our societies cooperate, but as soon as we invent ‘greater’ units to incorporate that cooperation, things run off the rails, the wrong people grab power, and the weaker among us get sacrificed. And that is what’s happening once again, entirely predictably, in Greece.

That Spain’s two largest cities, Barcelona and Madrid, have now sworn in far-left female mayors this week will only serve to make things harder for Athens. Brussels is under siege, and it will defend its territory as ‘best’ it can.

What might influence matters, and not a little bit, is that Syriza’s Audit Commission is poised to make public its findings on June 18, and that they yesterday revealed they have in their possession a 2010 IMF document that allegedly proves that the Fund knew back then, before the first bail-out, that the Memorandum would result in an increase in Greek debt.

That’s potentially incendiary information, because the Memorandum -and the bailout- were aimed specifically at decreasing the debt. That -again, allegedly- none of the EU nations have seen the document at the time -let’s see how the spin machine makes that look- doesn’t exactly make it any more acceptable.

Nor of course does the fact that Greece’s debt could and should have been restructured, according to the IMF’s own people and ‘standards’, but wasn’t until 2012, when the main European banks had been bailed out with what was subsequently shoved onto the shoulders of the Greek population, and had withdrawn their ‘assets’ from the country, a move that made Greece’s position that much harder.

The narrative being sold through the media in other eurozone nations is that Greece is to blame, that for instance German taxpayers are on the hook for Greek debts, while they’re really on the hook for German banks’ losing wagers (here’s looking at you, Deutsche!). And that is, no matter how you twist it, not the same story. It’s again just a narrative.

Once more, and we’ve said it many times before, Brussels is toxic -and so is the IMF- and Greece should leave as soon as possible, as should Italy, Spain, Portugal. And we should all resist the spin-induced attempts to demonize Putin, Athens and China any further, and instead focus on the rotten apples in our own basket(s).

In short, the propaganda we should be worried about is not Russia’s, it’s our own. And it comes from just about every news article we’re fed. We’re much less than six degrees removed from Orwell.