Mar 032021
 


Jean-Michel Basquiat Irony of the Negro Policeman 1981

 

Texas And Mississippi Drop Covid Restrictions – Even Mask Mandates (F.)
Russian Deputy PM Golikova Predicts ‘Herd Immunity’ By End Of Summer (RT)
Microsoft, LA School District Develop COVID ‘Daily Pass’ App (DC)
Israel Launches Covid-Tracking ‘Freedom Bracelet’ (RT)
Is Europe Open For Summer? All Bets Are Off For US Travelers (F.)
EU’s Faltering COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Triggers Rebellion (G&M)
The Age of Social Murder (Chris Hedges)
Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Cost 100 Richest Americans $78 Billion (Hill)
Andrew Cuomo Is Living To Regret The Deal He Pushed On Letitia James (IC)
Tanden Withdraws Nomination As Biden Budget Chief (Hill)
Remember That GDP = Waste (CHS)
The Goldilocks Stimulus Myth (Varoufakis)
The Opposite of 2008 (Ben Hunt)
Dr. Seuss Didn’t Have ‘A Racist Bone’ In His Body – Stepdaughter (NYP)
There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math (Klainerman)

 

 

“With” COVID.

 

 

Do we all understand why this is inevitable? Abbott’s biggest critic says he “is doing what he does best: leaving Texans to fend for themselves.”

But isn’t what what Texans want? Florida is open, and doing much better than New York, which is closed. Science as a religion does not work.

Texas And Mississippi Drop Covid Restrictions – Even Mask Mandates (F.)

Texas and Mississippi are both dropping their Covid-19 restrictions on businesses and ending their mask mandates, the states’ governors announced Tuesday, the latest in a string of states that have relaxed or dropped restrictions as cases have fallen nationwide despite public health officials strongly urging against it. “It is time to open Texas 100%,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference Tuesday, saying “all businesses, of any type” can fully open as of next Wednesday. Abbott said increased Covid-19 testing, personal protective equipment and vaccines put the state in a “far better position” than when orders were first issued, and “Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting Covid.”

County judges can impose local restrictions if hospitalizations raise to more than 15% of the region’s hospital bed capacity for seven days straight, Abbott said, but they cannot impose occupancy restrictions of less than 50% and cannot impose penalties against people who don’t wear masks. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Mississippi will also rescind a mask mandate that required them only in certain counties—the state already dropped a statewide mask order in September—and will lift all business restrictions except in schools and a 50% capacity limit for indoor arenas. Though less stringent than some other states, Texas does have social distancing restrictions in place for now for many businesses, such as a 75% capacity limit on indoor dining and gyms and a 50% capacity limit on bars, as well as an order for them to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m.

Texas is the largest state so far to entirely drop its Covid-19 restrictions, but the state and Mississippi follow Florida and other Republican-led states that have taken similar measures. “Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain Covid. It’s just that now, state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said. “At this time, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.” “Abbott removing a statewide mandate while preaching personal responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID is an abdication of his own personal and professional responsibility to keep Texans safe,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement Tuesday. “By removing all previous state mandates and opening the state to 100 percent, Governor Abbott, who has never taken this pandemic seriously, is doing what he does best: leaving Texans to fend for themselves.”

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I’m still a bit amazed at how the meaning of “herd immunity” seamlessly came to include vaccines.

Russian Deputy PM Golikova Predicts ‘Herd Immunity’ By End Of Summer (RT)

If the current Covid-19 vaccination rates are maintained, there will be collective immunity in Russia by August, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova has predicted, while making it clear the pandemic is still “quite serious.” Speaking in an interview with news network TASS, published Tuesday, Golikova revealed that the government is planning to reach 60 percent collective immunity – one of the prerequisites for removing all pandemic-related restrictions. “In order to determine the final date of achieving collective immunity, we have developed an epidemiological and mathematical model,” Golikova said. “If vaccination is carried out at the same pace as it is now, and the number of vaccination points remains the same, then the country will achieve collective immunity in August 2021.”

The deputy prime minister also noted that the number of detected cases is slowly declining, after a peak in late December. On Tuesday, the official Covid-19 HQ reported 10,565 new daily instances of coronavirus – a steep drop from the 29,935 figure of just over two months ago. “The numbers of new cases of coronavirus infection are still quite serious, although reassuringly decreasing,” she said. “You will remember that we decided to ease measures last May, when we were at just around this point in terms of the number of new cases.” However, Golikova was also careful to note that viral infections spread more in winter and at the beginning of spring, meaning precautions still need to be taken. She also refused to name a date when life in Russia would get back to normal.

“Neither we nor the world has yet accumulated enough experience to understand how long the immune defense lasts,” she explained. “Of course, everyone is now relaxed and believes that Covid is going away. The situation is better now, but the virus is still not going anywhere. You need to take care of yourself and your loved ones.”

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Wow, this is scary: “School staff members dedicated to be ‘Welcomers’ will be at every site to scan the QR code and take your temperature at the entrance.”

Microsoft, LA School District Develop COVID ‘Daily Pass’ App (DC)

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has worked with Microsoft to develop the “Daily Pass” app to monitor coronavirus the vaccination status, health symptoms and temperatures of its students. “Sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said during his weekly update on Sunday, according to Fox News. “Los Angeles Unified has launched a one-stop shop web app built specifically for the District to ensure that we get students, faculty and administrators back to schools and district offices as safely as possible,” read a statement on the school’s website, which included an animated clip about the app.


In the video, a student uses the app in order to gain their “daily pass” to go back to school. The pass includes a daily health check, details about their “weekly” coronavirus test and scheduling for their vaccination once it becomes available. “Students, parents and visitors will access the Daily Pass on any computer, tablet or mobile device at dailypass.lausd.net. Answer the daily health check questions (not more than a two-minute process!),” the LAUSD website reads, describing the process for students. “If the individual has recently tested negative for COVID-19 and completes the online health check, a QR code will be generated for that day and specific site location,” it continues. “School staff members dedicated to be ‘Welcomers’ will be at every site to scan the QR code and take your temperature at the entrance.”

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And so is this. It definitely looks like the opposite of freedom.

Israel Launches Covid-Tracking ‘Freedom Bracelet’ (RT)

Israel has unveiled a coronavirus-tracking bracelet as an alternative to a two-week quarantine for incoming travelers, sparking privacy concerns as a top court moved to curb the Shin Bet spy agency’s role in contact tracing. A pilot program for the tracking bracelet kicked off at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, where 100 devices were doled out to arriving travelers as a way to avoid a stay at a military-administered quarantine hotel. Instead, those opting for the bracelet system – which features the electronic wristband, a smartphone app and a wall-mounted tracking device – will be free to return home to wait out the two-week isolation period.

While the device will alert authorities if participants venture too far from the wall-mounted tracker, Ordan Trabelsi, the CEO of SuperCom, the company behind the bracelet, said it does not collect any other information, insisting the tech is minimally intrusive. “Nobody is forced to do it, but for those who are interested, it gives them another option: more flexibility,” he said. The pilot project – which Trabelsi has already called to expand to “thousands of units” for “wide-scale use” – may trigger further anxiety given SuperCom’s past work with a number of governments around the world to provide “offender monitoring” services, using its tracking tech to surveil prisoners and detainees. The firm signed a contract last year with a government agency in Wisconsin to offer the same service, and also sells technology used for electronic IDs, voter biometrics and cybersecurity.

As the rollout of the tracking bracelets got underway on Monday, Israel’s top court ruled that the country’s domestic spying agency, the Shin Bet, must rein in its Covid-19 contact-tracing efforts, calling the surveillance “draconian” and a threat to Israeli democracy. While the government has employed the Shin Bet for tracing since last March, the court has repeatedly challenged the practice, finally ruling that the agency may only be used under special circumstances beginning on March 14. “From [that] day on, the use of the Shin Bet will be limited to cases in which a confirmed coronavirus patient was not cooperating in his [epidemiological] investigation, whether intentionally or not, or gave no report of his encounters,” the court said.

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“..all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

Is Europe Open For Summer? All Bets Are Off For US Travelers (F.)

There is some optimism in the U.S. that increased vaccination rates, decreasing Covid-19 rates and the rise of health passport schemes could open international travel up for the summer. At a time when EU countries are raising borders, however, all the signs in Europe point to the fact that summer 2021 is still incredibly uncertain for anyone wishing to travel from outside the region. There are extremely conflicting views about summer. On one side, the optimists. Intelligencer gave 9 Reasons To Believe The Worst Of The Pandemic Is Over and The Atlantic quoted Anthony Fauci’s prediction that herd immunity might be reached by August and that Covid-19 cases across the U.S. are declining much more sharply than anticipated, declaring that “the summer of 2021 is shaping up to be historic.”

On the other side are reports that the summer might indeed be historic but for entirely different reasons. The United Nations World Tourism Organization called 2020 the worst year on record for tourism but recently stated that 2021’s prospects had worsened. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, tourist destinations had been hoping for a sorely needed rebound but “with vaccine rollouts delayed in some places and new virus strains appearing, it is looking more likely that international travel could be stalled for years.” Worse still, 41% of experts polled by the UN didn’t think that pre-pandemic levels of tourism would be reached until 2024. It’s a view supported by the International Air Transport Association which said that air travel might only improve by 13% this year and industry insiders who said that it may be that long haul travel doesn’t properly resume until 2023 or 2024.

Many people are pinning hopes on the idea of vaccination passports, coupled with increased vaccination rates, to open up borders by the summer. But as reported by Bloomberg, this is far from sure. As stated by the World Health Organization, no one yet knows how vaccines will stop the spread of Covid-19, nor is it clear how the vaccines will hold up against variant strains. Digital health cards or vaccination/immunity passports are fraught with political and social obstacles, raising issues of equality and discrimination, never mind logistics. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva told Bloomberg, “it’s very important for people to understand that at the moment, all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

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The EU doing what it does best. Be useless.

EU’s Faltering COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Triggers Rebellion (G&M)

The European Union’s vaccine unity has shattered as shortages push a few desperate countries to seek outside supplies and create foreign partnerships. Frustrated by the vaccine shortages, at least four EU countries – Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – have struck deals to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, or are considering doing so. The Chinese vaccine is also a contender. The Russian and Chinese products have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EU’s vaccine rollout remains stubbornly slow, although the pace has picked up somewhat in recent days. By Tuesday, the 27-country EU – population 450 million – had administered only 33.5 million doses, equivalent to 7.5 per 100 citizens.


[..] In a blow to the EC vaccine strategy, which is overseen by EC president Ursula von der Leyen, Slovakia and Hungary granted emergency approval of the Sputnik vaccine. Slovakia, which currently has the highest number of pandemic deaths per capita over a seven-day period, is to receive two million doses of the Sputnik vaccine. The question is whether one of the EU’s big countries will also break ranks and order outside vaccine supplies. Francesco Galietti, chief executive of the Rome political consultancy Policy Sonar, said that Mario Draghi, Italy’s new prime minister, might be forced to buy the Russian vaccine if Italy’s campaign doesn’t pick up momentum soon. “Draghi will have to carefully assess whether the Western vaccines are enough,” he said in an interview. “He seems to have realized that Italy cannot survive economically if the vaccine is not rolled out before the summer. He knows the importance of tourism to Italy.”

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The larger picture.

The Age of Social Murder (Chris Hedges)

The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elite’s mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation, and systems collapse. The science that elucidates this social death is known to the ruling elites. The science that warned us of this pandemic, and others that will follow, is known to the ruling elites. The science that shows that a failure to halt carbon emissions will lead to a climate crisis and ultimately the extinction of the human species and most other species is known to the ruling elites. They cannot claim ignorance. Only indifference.

The facts are incontrovertible. Each of the last four decades have been hotter than the last. In 2018, the UN International Panel on Climate Change released a special report on the systemic effects of a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperatures. It makes for very grim reading. Soaring temperature rises — we are already at a 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels — are already baked into the system, meaning that even if we stopped all carbon emission today, we still face catastrophe. Anything above a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius will render the earth unhabitable. The Arctic ice along with the Greenland ice sheet are now expected to melt regardless of how much we reduce carbon emissions. A seven-meter (23-foot) rise in sea level, which is what will take place once the ice is gone, means every town and city on a coast at sea level will have to be evacuated.

[..] As the climate crisis worsens, the political constrictions will tighten, making public resistance difficult. We do not live, yet, in the brutal Orwellian state that appears on the horizon, one where all dissidents will suffer the fate of Julian Assange. But this Orwellian state is not far away. This makes it imperative that we act now. The ruling elites, despite the accelerating and tangible ecological collapse, mollify us, either by meaningless gestures or denial. They are the architects of social murder. Social murder, as Friedrich Engels noted in his 1845 book “The Condition of the Working-Class in England,” one of the most important works of social history, is built into the capitalist system. The ruling elites, Engels writes, those that hold “social and political control,” were aware that the harsh working and living conditions during the industrial revolution doomed workers to “an early and unnatural death:”

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Something tells me they can afford it.

Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Cost 100 Richest Americans $78 Billion (Hill)

A new wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other progressives on Monday would result in the 100 richest Americans paying over $78 billion in taxes annually, according to analysis by Bloomberg News. The bill, called the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, would require households with a net worth of more than $50 million to pay 2 percent of their wealth every year. A 1 percent surtax would be added for those with a net worth in excess of $1 billion. That would mean Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, would face an additional $5.4 billion in taxes if the bill were signed into law this year, according to Bloomberg News. Tesla CEO Elon Musk would pay an additional $5.2 billion, Bill Gates would pay $4 billion more and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would see his tax bill increase by about $3 billion.


The legislation, which is unlikely to pass Congress, would affect tax payments starting in 2023. “As Congress develops additional plans to help our economy, the wealth tax should be at the top of the list to help pay for these plans because of the huge amounts of revenue it would generate,” Warren said on Monday when unveiling the new proposal. “This is money that should be invested in child care and early education, K-12, infrastructure, all of which are priorities of President Biden and Democrats in Congress,” she added. “I’m confident lawmakers will catch up to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are demanding more fairness, more change, and who believe it’s time for a wealth tax.” According to Bloomberg News, the 100 richest Americans added $598 billion to their fortunes last year. Warren’s proposed tax would take 13 percent of that added wealth.

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Your daily drip drip.

Andrew Cuomo Is Living To Regret The Deal He Pushed On Letitia James (IC)

In 2003, Letitia “Tish” James shook the New York Democratic political establishment, becoming the first City Council candidate to win office solely as a nominee of the Working Families Party. James spent the next 15 years as an outspoken, independent-minded progressive and a leading voice for the city’s social movements. In 2013, despite being vastly outspent, she won a tight race for New York City public advocate, a stepping stone to mayor. Her close alliance with the city’s grassroots was considered by political observers to be both a benefit and an obstacle. She had people behind her, but she didn’t have money — and moving to the next level required lots of it. When New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was forced to resign amid a #MeToo scandal in 2018, James was quickly discussed as a potential successor. But could she raise the funds?

That’s where Andrew Cuomo came in. The state’s governor, who was seeking his third term, was in the midst of a long-running feud with the organization that was so intimately linked with James’s rise, the WFP. Under pressure from Cuomo, local unions had left the party, taking their clout and financing with them. In April 2018, the WFP came for the king, endorsing activist and actor Cynthia Nixon for the Democratic primary over Cuomo, who vowed to destroy the organization. Cuomo had long treated figures in New York politics — his playground — like kids to be bullied. He turned his attention to James. In May, Cuomo made James an excruciating offer: He would endorse her and open his donor network to her, but it would come at a price. Not only would she have to endorse him, she would have to publicly refuse the support of the WFP.

Ripped from the pages of a cliched mafia screenplay, James would have to prove her loyalty by executing her longtime ally. James was left with two bad options: Accepting Cuomo’s offer was the most likely route to winning the election, but it would come with accusations that she had traded in her trademark independence and social justice values. Rejecting it could cost her the election and make Cuomo into a fatal enemy. James took the deal. The WFP endorsed her anyway, against her public will, while jointly endorsing Zephyr Teachout. The bulk of their spending went toward opposing the most right-leaning candidate, Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a congressional district upstate.

In the fictional version of these parables, a deal with the devil always ends the same way: The devil always gets his due. But New York politics is not a parable. The story’s new plot twist conforms more closely to a Disney version: Cuomo is getting his due of a different kind, with scrutiny over his failed coronavirus response and an investigation into sexual harassment claims. His fate now rests with Tish James.

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She’s just one of a large group. And she’ll be in the administration anyway.

Tanden Withdraws Nomination As Biden Budget Chief (Hill)

Neera Tanden has withdrawn her nomination to head President Biden’s White House budget office after her prospects of Senate confirmation flamed out.The White House made the announcement on Tuesday evening, capping a tumultuous few weeks surrounding the fight over her nomination. Tanden, who would have been the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), faced scrutiny over mean tweets she had written about Republicans and progressive Democrats alike in her previous role heading the Center for American Progress think tank.“I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for Director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said in a statement.

“I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my Administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work.”Tanden is Biden’s first Cabinet nominee to be withdrawn from consideration, making this an early blow for the president. The White House spent the past two weeks insisting there was a path to confirmation for Tanden and vowed to fight for her, even as her prospects dimmed.Tanden is expected to be appointed to an administration role that does not require Senate confirmation.A handful of names have circulated as potential replacements for Tanden. Shalanda Young, who on Wednesday underwent a confirmation hearing to be the deputy OMB director, is seen as the most likely nominee.

In her controversial tweets, many of which were deleted in recent months, Tanden compared Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to Voldemort and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to a vampire and insinuated that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) benefited from Russian hacking in the 2016 election.In two confirmation hearings, she repeatedly apologized for the tweets and promised to strike a more collegial tone as a member of the administration.Her nomination began to unravel when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) pulled his support, citing the need for comity. In the evenly divided Senate, that left Tanden reliant on support from centrist Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who also was a target of Tanden’s tweets. That support was not forthcoming.

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As I’ve said 1000 times: Our economies run on waste.

Remember That GDP = Waste (CHS)

We’re told the gross domestic product (GDP) measures growth, but what it really measures is waste: capital, labor and resources that are squandered and then mislabeled “growth” for PR purposes. If we only manage what we measure, then we’re mismanaging our economy by promoting waste as the only metric we measure and incentivize. Forecasts now predict a rousing 6.8% “growth” in 2021 GDP. In other words, the amount of resources and capital being squandered is going parabolic and we love it! 50 million autos and trucks stuck in traffic, burning millions of gallons of fuel while going nowhere? Growth! All that wasted fuel adds to GDP. Everyone who works from home detracts from “growth” since they didn’t waste fuel sitting in traffic jams. That’s bad! Wasting millions of gallons of gasoline is “growth”!

Repaving a little-used road: growth! Never mind the money could have been invested in repairing a heavily traveled road, or adding safe bikeways, etc.–in the current neo-Keynesian system, building bridges to nowhere is “infrastructure growth.” GDP has no mechanism to measure the opportunity costs of squandering capital, labor and resources on investments with marginal or even negative returns. Buying a new refrigerator to replace a broken one that could have been fixed by replacing a $10 sensor: growth! GDP has no mechanism for calculating the utility still remaining in roads, vehicles, buildings, etc. that are replaced–throwing away all the fixed-investment’s remaining utility to buy a new replacement is strongly encouraged because it adds to “growth.”

Planned obsolescence that sends everything on a conveyor belt to the landfill is “growth”– we love the Landfill Economy because all that incredibly needless waste is “growth”! Building and maintaining extraordinarily costly weapons systems that are already obsolete: growth! The gargantuan future costs of interest paid by taxpayers on the debt borrowed to pay for failed weapons systems like the trillion-dollar rathole known as the F-35 aircraft program is not calculated by GDP. The staggering costs of indebting future taxpayers is ignored by GDP– the only thing that counts in GDP is “growth” in spending, no matter how useless. [..] GDP has no mechanism to measure the value of alternatives that use less capital, labor and resources to get the same results.

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How to get it just right.

The Goldilocks Stimulus Myth (Varoufakis)

To see why there can be no “Goldilocks” stimulus that gets the amount “just right,” it helps to engage the critics who argue that the administration’s proposal would overheat the economy and hand the Republicans the midterms. Central to their prediction is their tacit assumption that there is also a Goldilocks interest rate and a corresponding stimulus size that will deliver it. What would render any rate of interest “just right”? First, it would achieve the right balance between available savings and productive investment. Second, it would not unleash a cascade of corporate bankruptcies, bad loans, and a fresh banking crisis. And there’s the rub: It is not at all clear that there is a single interest rate that can do both.

Once upon a time, there was. In the 1950s and early 1960s, under the Bretton Woods system, an interest rate of around 4% did the trick of balancing savings and investment while keeping bank profitability at a level that allowed credit to reproduce itself sustainably. Back then, if investment fell below available savings for too long, and failed to recover despite a reduction in the interest rate, a well-designed government stimulus raised investment back to the level of savings, the rate of interest picked up, and balance was restored. Alas, we no longer live in that kind of world. The reason capitalism no longer works like that is the manner in which the Obama administration, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve, re-floated the sinking Western banks. The 2008 crisis was as deep and terrible as that of 1929.

As in 1929, sequential bankruptcies, unemployment, and falling prices meant no one was willing to borrow. Interest rates nosedived to zero and capitalism fell into what John Maynard Keynes referred to as the “liquidity trap.” Once at zero, the interest rate could not go much lower without destroying what was left of the banking sector, insurance companies, pension funds, and other financial institutions. The great difference between 1929 and 2008 was that in 2008 the banks were not allowed to fail. One way to save them was a large enough fiscal stimulus. Direct injections of freshly minted money to consumers and firms – to pay off debts and to increase consumption and investment – would have re-floated Main Street and, indirectly, Wall Street. This was the road not taken by the Obama administration.

Instead, the Fed printed trillions of dollars, and the failing banks were re-floated directly. But while the banks were saved, the economy was not freed from the liquidity trap. The banks lent the new money to corporations, but, because their customers were not re-floated, managers were unwilling to risk plowing the money into good jobs, buildings, or machines. Instead, they took it to the stock market, causing the largest-ever disconnect between share prices and the real economy.

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The warnings of inflation are getting louder.

The Opposite of 2008 (Ben Hunt)

In late 2007 I started counting the For Sale signs on the 20 minute drive to work through the neighborhoods of Weston and Westport, CT. I’m not exactly sure why it made my risk antenna start quivering in the first place … honestly, I just like to count things – anything – when I’m doing a repetitive task. Coming into 2008 there were a mid-teen number of For Sale signs on my regular route, up from high single-digits in 2007. By May of 2008 there were 35+ For Sale signs. If there’s a better real-world signal of financial system distress than everyone who takes Metro North from Westport to Grand Central trying to sell their homes all at the same time and finding no buyers … I don’t know what that signal is. The insane amount of housing supply in Wall Street bedroom communities in early 2008 was a crucial datapoint in my figuring out the systemic risks and market ramifications of the Great Financial Crisis.


Last week, for the first time in years, I made the old drive to count the number of For Sale signs. Know how many there were?Zero. And then on Friday I saw this article from the NY Times – Where Have All the Houses Gone? – with these two graphics:I mean … my god.Here’s where I am right now as I try to piece together what the Opposite of 2008 means for markets and real-world.

1) Home price appreciation will not show up in official inflation stats. In fact, given that a) rents are flat to declining, and b) the Fed uses “rent equivalents” as their modeled proxy for housing inputs to cost of living calculations, it’s entirely possible that soaring home prices will end up being a negative contribution to official inflation statistics. This is, of course, absolutely insane, but it’s why we will continue to hear Jay Powell talk about “transitory” inflation that the Fed “just doesn’t see”.

2) Cash-out mortgage refis and HELOCs are going to explode. On Friday, I saw that Rocket Mortgage reported on their quarterly call that refi applications were coming in at their fastest rate ever. As the kids would say, I’m old enough to remember the tailwind that home equity withdrawals provided for … everything … in 2005-2007. This will also “surprise” the Fed.

3) Middle class (ie, home-owning) blue collar labor mobility is dead. If you need to move to find a new job, you’re a renter. You’re not going to be able to buy a home in your new metro area. That really doesn’t matter for white collar labor mobility, because you can work remotely. You don’t have to move to find a new job if you’re a white collar worker. Or if you want to put this in terms of demographics rather than class, this is great for boomers and awful for millennials and Gen Z’ers who want to buy a house and start a family.

4) As for markets … I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to fall way behind the curve here. I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to be caught flat-footed here. I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to underreact for months and then find themselves in a position where they must overreact just to avoid a serious melt-up in real-world prices and pockets of market-world. Could a Covid variant surge tap the deflationary brakes on all this? Absolutely. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen! And even if it does happen, that’s only going to constrict housing supply still more, which is the real driver of these inflationary pressures.

It’s just like 2008, except … the opposite.In 2008, the US housing market – together with a Fed that thought the subprime crisis was “contained” – delivered the mother of all deflationary shocks to the global economy.In 2021, the US housing market – together with a Fed that thinks inflationary pressures are “transitory” – risks delivering the mother of all inflationary shocks.It’s the only question that long-term investors MUST get right. You don’t have to get it right immediately. You don’t have to track and turn with every small movement of its path. But you MUST get this question roughly right: Am I in an inflationary world or a deflationary world? And yes, there’s an ET note on this. Because the Fourth Horseman is inflation.

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline certainly did. But his work is still great literature.

Dr. Seuss Didn’t Have ‘A Racist Bone’ In His Body – Stepdaughter (NYP)

One of Dr. Seuss’ stepdaughters insisted to The Post on Tuesday that the world-famous children’s author was no racist — and that she hopes his six controversial kiddie books yanked from publication will be back. “There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body — he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much,’’ Lark Grey Dimond-Cates said of her late, now-embattled stepdad, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. The company overseeing the legacy of the Dr. Seuss books, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, announced Tuesday that it will stop selling six of his titles because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Dimond-Cates said DSE, which works with publisher Penguin Random House, informed her Monday about its decision to not continue printing “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.” “I think in this day and age it’s a wise decision,” she told The Post of the move.“I think this is a world that right now is in pain, and we’ve all got to be very gentle and thoughtful and kind with each other.“This is just very difficult, painful times that we live in,” said Dimond-Cates, a California sculptor, who added that Geisel came into her life when she was in grade school.

“We’re taking that into account and being thoughtful. We don’t want to upset anybody.’’Dimond-Cates’ mother was Geisel’s second wife, Audrey Geisel, and the sculptor also has a sister, another of the author’s stepdaughters, Leagrey Dimond. Dr. Seuss did not have any children of his own. Still, Dimond-Cates said she hopes the six pulled books will eventually go back into print “because his body of work is unique.”

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“The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.”

There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math (Klainerman)

In my position as a professor of mathematics at Princeton, I have witnessed the decline of universities and cultural institutions as they have embraced political ideology at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Until recently — this past summer, really — I had naively thought that the STEM disciplines would be spared from this ideological takeover. I was wrong. Attempts to “deconstruct” mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school. This phenomenon is part of what has been dubbed “The Great Awokening.” As others have explained powerfully, the ideology incubated in academia, where it indoctrinated plenty of bright minds. It then migrated, through those true believers, into our important cultural, religious and political institutions. Now it is affecting some of the country’s most prominent businesses.

[..] For historical reasons, we often discuss contributions to the field of mathematics from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Arabs and refer to them as distinct entities. They have all contributed through a unique cultural dialogue to the creation of a truly magnificent edifice accessible today to every man and woman on the planet. Though we pay tribute to great historical figures who inform the practice of mathematics, the subject can be taught — and often is — with no reference to the individuals who have contributed to it. In that sense it is uniquely universal. Schools throughout the world teach the same basic body of mathematics. They differ only by the methodology and intensity with which they instruct students.

It is precisely this universality of math — together with the extraordinary ability of American universities to reward hard work and talent — that allowed me, and so many other young scientists and mathematicians, to come to this country and achieve success beyond our wildest dreams. The idea that focusing on getting the “right answer” is now considered among some self-described progressives a form of bias or racism is offensive and extraordinarily dangerous. The entire study of mathematics is based on clearly formulated definitions and statements of fact. If this were not so, bridges would collapse, planes would fall from the sky, and bank transactions would be impossible. The ability of mathematics to provide right answers to well-formulated problems is not something specific to one culture or another; it is really the essence of mathematics.

To claim otherwise is to argue that somehow the math taught in places like Iran, China, India or Nigeria is not genuinely theirs but borrowed or forged from “white supremacy culture.” It is hard to imagine a more ignorant and offensive statement. Finally, and most importantly, the woke approach to mathematics is particularly poisonous to those it pretends to want to help. Let’s start with the reasonable assumption that mathematical talent is equally distributed at birth to children from all socio-economic backgrounds, independent of ethnicity, sex and race. Those born in poor, uneducated families have clear educational disadvantages relative to others. But mathematics can act as a powerful equalizer. Through its set of well-defined, culturally unbiased, unambiguous set of rules, mathematics gives smart kids the potential to be, at least in this respect, on equal footing with all others. They can stand out by simply finding the right answers to questions with objective results.

There is no such thing as “white” mathematics. There is no reason to assume, as the activists do, that minority kids are not capable of mathematics or of finding the “right answers.” And there can be no justification for, in the name of “equity” or anything else, depriving students of the rigorous education that they need to succeed. The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 012021
 


Lucien Hervé The Accuser, Delhi, India 1955

 

 

As I was trying to get this article together, I read something in the Greek press just now, and wondered how far one can move goalposts without it being noticed:

A Return To Normalcy Seen In November

Experts say the return to normalcy will happen when “herd immunity” is achieved. For that to happen, they say, 70% of the population must be vaccinated. Then, of course, there are questions of how long the immunity lasts, whether the disease will recur, and so on. According to a team of researchers at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki who have developed a Covid-19 risk evaluation model, the vaccination of 70% of the population, and thus herd immunity, will be achieved in November, provided there are 1 million vaccinations per month.


[..] By the end of May, a “wall of immunity” for the most vulnerable groups – the elderly and those suffering from serious underlying diseases – will have been built, the researchers say. “[The wall] doesn’t mean complete freedom but at least means the likelihood of lockdown becomes remote,” says Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, professor of environmental engineering at Aristotle University.

Now, a year ago, there also was a lot of talk about herd immunity. But that had nothing to do with the “vaccines”, because none of them existed back then. Way back when, “herd immunity” meant that enough people had been infected, and not gotten sick. Some estimates said 20% would be enough, others said 70%. But none talked about vaccines. And now all of a sudden it’s all about vaccines? For which the companies that produce them say there is no evidence that they protect the vaccinated from getting infected, or them from infecting others? Excuse me?

There already is a huge amount of herd immunity. 90-95% of people do not get sick, period. Because they have strong enough immune systems of themselves, or because they’re young, or any combination of factors. It would seem very irresponsible to claim all of these people should be jabbed before there can be herd immunity. It’s just shoddy science, or, rather, shoddy masquerading as science.

 

 

I want to return to a topic I covered a month ago in The One Year Emergency, That is, “emergency”, and its legal implications. Much of the world lives under some State of Emergency, at least a Public Health Emergency. There appears to be a State of Emergency that allows for lockdowns and facemasks to be forced on populations, and a second State of Emergency that lets governments force PCR tests, mRNA “vaccines” and tentatively, vaccine passports upon their citizens. Or is it all the same?

First, from a Dr. David Martin piece I posted a few days ago:

The fact is that a PCR test is not going to make or not make a confirmed diagnosis of anything because PCR tests cannot confirm a diagnosis. [..] The only reason we are using PCR tests is that governors and the Department of Health and Human Services are maintaining a state of emergency. The second that that state of emergency is lifted in any state or in the country, the PCR test won’t be allowed to be used.


We’re maintaining a state of emergency so that manufacturers can keep selling a thing that would never be approved if it was subject to a clinical trial. It goes for what’s being called vaccines too. The gene therapy that Moderna and Pfizer are doing, both of those would be suspended immediately if the state of emergency got lifted. People don’t understand that if you lift the state of emergency, the whole house of cards falls.

And remember that the man who got a Nobel Prize for inventing the PCR test, Kary Mullis, repeatedly stated it should never be used for the purpose we are now using it for. Mullis died in 2019, but if he were still alive, he would most likely have been very vocal, and not in a positive sense, about what is going on today.

A few days ago, I asked a question at the Automatic Earth comments section, and received some nice replies from two responders, Doc Robinson and Herr Werner. I thought I’d share some of those. My question:

Q: In most, if not all, states/countries where the vaccines are administered, this goes through some form of Emergency Use Authorization (because they haven’t been properly tested), which is mostly only possible if there is some sort of State of Emergency. If countries now want to open up again, it would appear that they -legally- have to lift their State of Emergency. But then they can no longer allow people to be vaccinated with the vaccines, can they?

 

 

Doc Robinson: Q: …If states/countries now want to open up again, it would appear that they -legally- have to lift their State of Emergency. But then they can no longer allow people to be vaccinated with the vaccines, can they?

In the US, a Determination of Public Health Emergency is used to justify the Emergency Use Authorization of some vaccines, but travel restrictions are not necessarily required during the Public Health Emergency.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/07/2020-02496/determination-of-public-health-emergency
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/27/2020-06541/emergency-use-authorization-declaration

If there is no Public Health Emergency, then there can be no Emergency Use Authorization, and the Covid vaccines could not be widely distributed until getting FDA approval after years of testing.

Even if there is a Public Health Emergency, the Covid vaccines could not obtain Emergency Use Authorization if an effective treatment is acknowledged to be available.

With a Public Health Emergency in place, the PREP act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19) provides liability immunity to both public and private distribution channels for the vaccines, including those who prescribe, dispense, and administer the vaccines.

“Liability immunity” means that the “covered person is immune from suit and liability under Federal and State law with respect to all claims for loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the administration or use of a covered countermeasure [such as a vaccine].”

In addition, “to the extent that any State law that would otherwise prohibit the employees, contractors, or volunteers who are a “qualified person” from prescribing, dispensing, or administering COVID-19 vaccines or other Covered Countermeasures, such law is preempted.”

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/16/2021-03106/sixth-amendment-to-declaration-under-the-public-readiness-and-emergency-preparedness-act-for-medical

 

 

Ilargi: Ok, so no travel restrictions in the US. But how about other countries, what do their laws say? Anybody looking at that? Can the government here in Greece, for example, invite tourists back in while still in a Public Health Emergency? Tourists that could bring in the very virus the emergency is meant to fight?

Also, this is of course pivotal: “Even if there is a Public Health Emergency, the Covid vaccines could not obtain Emergency Use Authorization if an effective treatment is acknowledged to be available.”

Pivotal, because no government, at least in the west, has done any widespread application of vitamin D, ivermectin or HCQ programs. Are these substances “effective”? The reason we don’t know is that although there is plenty literature to suggest they might be, they were never tested. So are the current “vaccines” effective (and safe)? We don’t know that either. There’s a big sales job going on about them, but that’s it.

 

 

Doc Robinson: In the US, the emergency declaration can be renewed. An EUA is in effect for one year, or shorter if the emergency declaration is no longer in effect. The EUA can be revoked if the criteria are no longer met (such as, the requirement that “there is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating the disease or condition.”)

Criteria for EUA Authorization—The FDA will issue an EUA if the FDA commissioner finds all of the following:
• The CBRN agent specified in the declaration of emergency can cause a serious or life-threatening disease or condition.
• Based on the scientific evidence available, it is reasonable to believe that the product may be effective in diagnosing, treating, or preventing the disease or condition specified in the declaration of emergency or caused by another medical product to diagnose, treat, or prevent a disease or condition caused by the specified agent.
• The known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the product when used to diagnose, prevent, or treat the serious or life-threatening disease or condition that is the subject of the declaration.
• There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating the disease or condition.


The EUA is in effect for one year from the date of issuance or for as long as the HHS secretary’s §564 emergency declaration is in effect, whichever is shorter. The emergency declaration can be renewed. The EUA can be amended and may be revoked earlier if the criteria for issuance are no longer met or revocation is appropriate to protect public health or safety.

https://astho.org/Programs/Preparedness/Public-Health-Emergency-Law/Emergency-Use-Authorization-Toolkit/Section-564-of-the-Federal-Food,-Drug,-and-Cosmetic-Act-Fact-Sheet/

 

 

Ilargi: Some story, basically: “[If] There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating the disease or condition.”

“Effective, adequate, approved, and available alternative..” How does one determine these terms? Especially if those alternatives are not tested?

But sure, as long as a government can waive the “Emergency” flag in your face, what are you going to do?

 

 

Doc Robinson: Yesterday, Pfizer and Moderna got their Covid vaccine EUA reissued by the FDA, and the duration of the EUA can last until the emergency declaration is “terminated.”

IV. Duration of Authorization
This EUA will be effective until the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the emergency use of drugs and biological products during the COVID-19 pandemic is terminated under Section 564(b)(2) of the Act or the EUA is revoked under Section 564(g) of the Act.

https://www.fda.gov/media/144412/download
https://www.fda.gov/media/144636/download

 

 

Ilargi: A year, and then we add on another year, and before you know it we need to look up the definition of “emergency” in a dictionary.

Then this from commenter “Herr Werner”, which is a bit long, but interesting:

 

 

Herr Werner: I have had a very straightforward question to ask about the safety of covid vaccines, in particular the mRNA ones. The question has nagged me for months, and I spent time this week working on it. It was a difficult question to answer. I wrote this up with the idea of talking within my circle of ppl, I thought the TAE community might find it of interest. Kind of long, apologies –

As I write this, over 200MM people have received covid vaccine doses. While there is more than one vaccine out there, the two available in the West currently are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. (The JnJ vaccine – based on a more conventional technology – will likely be available in early March, but going forward if you show up for the shot, you are not likely to know ahead of time which one you’ll get.) Both Pfizer and Moderna’s are based on mRNA, a topic of much study but little widespread deployment. In the US both are released on an Emergency Use Authorization or its equivalent in other nations, and full approval is not expected until early 2023. Nevertheless the media, the CDC, and political and medical “authorities” are unanimous and incessant in the message that it is “safe and effective.”

Dissenting views on safety are relegated to the fringes, and the existence of vaccines other than just the two mRNA ones (with different, more conventional modes of action) is never mentioned in the Western media. There are several promising aspects to mRNA technology, and still more unknowns about it, particularly long-term effects which most likely would manifest as autoimmune disorders. Being a new technology, early animal studies were often plagued with unexpected negative results as the methods and delivery agents were refined. So where are we in our knowledge and expertise as a species with mRNA, now that we are jabbing tens of millions of people with these vaccines?

The straightforward questions I have are, “How do we know how safe mRNA vaccines are? How well-studied are their long-term effects?”

Those two questions do not yield to an interwebs search. Even an in-depth search mostly returns mostly self-referential information, or secondhand info repackaged and parroted by an authority figure whose motives are unclear (or simply dubious.) Specifically for the covid mRNA vaccines, no long-term data exist, as even the earliest human trials began only in late 2020. At best, we can only infer from other studies done using mRNA technology. A strong case for safety of mRNA could be made if there is a large base of data – say 200 studies, ending over 5 or (better yet) 10 years ago, and a total of a few million people involved in the trials. Even with a large database, there are unknown unknowns once you move outside the confines of clinical study and enter the real world with its long (statistical) tails. Still, large studies with years of follow-up would suggest confidence in their safety.

On the other hand, if there turned out to be just a few studies, or they don’t cover much time history, or include only a small sample of people, that would not support a strong case for mRNA safety. If the latter is the case, then – being generous here – it would be “risky” at best to be giving millions of people a vaccine with this new technology. Severity matters too in the risk/reward calculation: if a disease like Ebola or Lhasa takes hold, they are so deadly and the situation so dire that greater risks are worth taking – including a vaccine with side-effects or other measures that cause harm.

My approach was to answer 3 questions that follow from the first ones –
1) HOW LONG have mRNA interventions been tested on humans?
2) HOW MANY people have been tested (thousands? millions, tens of millions?)
3) …and from 1 and 2, do THOSE numbers suggest that vaccinating large numbers of people with an unapproved mRNA product is safe?

For a starting point I used a Forbes article “What Are The Long-Term Safety Risks Of The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines?” It was published in Dec 2020 and, unsurprisingly, concludes that they are safe. (In fact the article leads off with a strawman, perhaps an attempt at humor, the author’s husband asking if these vaccines are going to turn us into zombies.) The author is Ellen Matloff, in her bio a certified genetic counselor, and she also runs a company that “specializes in scalable, updating, digital genetic counseling.” She is coauthor of several papers in genetics, including subjects related to gene therapy and patient advocacy. It is safe to say she knows what she’s talking about on the topic. Like many authorizes it is equally safe to assume she has a vested interest – both financially and as a personal belief system – in promoting genetic technology.

Spoiler alert: If you want to skip the rest, here’s the answer: about 1,675. That’s the number of people enrolled in (completed) mRNA clinical trials (32 of them) that ended before 2017. Keep in mind the number that received the mRNA treatment-under-study is about half that; most of these are blinded studies and half of them got a placebo. Of those, only 8 studies were conducted on an mRNA treatment against an infectious agent (HIV, rabies) a more realistic comparison which brings the number down to 985 persons. So the size of the database (hundreds) relative to the number of people now receiving doses of the technology (tens of millions) is quite small.

Matloff first discusses the Pfizer vaccine trial and its ability to identify short-term effects “Pfizer vaccine clinical trial study explain[s] that their data show a greater than 83% likelihood of finding at least one adverse, or undesirable, event, if the true incidence of that event is 1 in 10,000. However, the study does not include enough participants, nor has it followed them for enough time, to reliably detect adverse events that are rarer than 1 in 10,000.” That refers to the clinical trials conducted and self-reported by the producer of the vaccine. Assuming their studies are honest and well-run, that covers short-term risks. And it seems to be borne out thus far in the frenzy of arm-jabbing between the end of 2020 and now. We seem to be “in the clear” on short-term effects – safety seems to be on par with any other vaccine, if not a bit better. Though it does suck to be one of those few hundred (?) worldwide that reacted severely and died after the first or second jab, or someone close to them.

On long term risks, the article suggests ‘safe and effective’ though both the article and scientific evidence become decidedly hazy. In Forbes she writes “Of course, the only way to know what, if any, long-term side effects result from the use of these mRNA vaccines is to follow the participants of the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials, vaccinate and study many more people, and then follow all of them for several years. That effort is well underway.” By way of supporting the long-term knowledge, she mentions “mRNA vaccines are not as new as you may think. In fact, mRNA vaccines have been studied over the past two decades and have shown great promise for both infectious disease and cancer.” She links to several sources and particularly calls out an mRNA rabies vaccine trial to support her case. No adverse events are noted in the study. This trial involved 101 participants and ended in 2017. It is neither a large study (many participants to extrapolate the lessons out to millions of people) nor an old study (completed just four years ago.)

The rest of this analysis looks only at numbers; the number people enrolled in mRNA studies and when. This research was performed with data from the US gov’t clinical trials database. One unknown about mRNA or any vaccine is the length of time for long-term effects, if any, become evident. Pulling a number out of the air, let’s look at three years of follow up. That should be enough time for side effects, such as exposure to the infectious agent that the vaccine targets. Let’s round that up to four, that allows for lag of ending the study and publishing out results. This is Feb 2021 so I looked at studies ending before Jan 2017.

Searching on mRNA returns 103 studies. This includes all studies most of which (like the 20 Covid-related ones) are ongoing. All of those studies in total have 90,000 participants. Filtering out incomplete or terminated studies, and ones newer than that arbitrary point in time, gives 32 studies and 1,675 persons. As I mentioned above the number that received the mRNA treatment-under-study is about half that; most of these are blinded studies and half of them got a placebo. Of those, only 8 studies were conducted on an mRNA treatment against an infectious agent (HIV, rabies) a more realistic comparison which brings the number down to 985 persons. Quite a small population to draw conclusions of long-term safety from – that entails extrapolating to a population four orders of magnitude larger.

BTW my approach is admittedly coarse. And I want to emphasize, it does *not* suggest that mRNA technology is dangerous. The approach simply looks at how large the database is that supports how “safe and effective” mRNA vaccines are. Questions such as long-term follow-up, adverse events, and other factors from the individual studies are outside my area of expertise, and unlikely to be found in publicly available sources. We are vaccinating large numbers of people (tens of millions) based on an experience of small size (hundreds) and not much history (going back 1-5 years in most cases.) Again, it does not suggest that mRNA technology is dangerous – it suggests that we do not have enough data. I find insufficient evidence to support the assertion that mRNA technology is “safe and effective” – we SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW.

 

 

Ilargi: And then Doc Robinson’s reply to that:

 

 

Doc Robinson: HerrWerner: “She links to several sources and particularly calls out an mRNA rabies vaccine trial to support her case. No adverse events are noted in the study. This trial involved 101 participants and ended in 2017.”

If that’s what she wrote, then she’s not a trustworthy source of information (for whatever reasons). No adverse events?

Actually, 78% reported systemic adverse events in that trial. And 10% reported “Grade 3 events — which means the reaction is severe enough to cause hospitalization, and/or is disabling (but not immediately life threatening.)

Safety and immunogenicity of a mRNA rabies vaccine in healthy adults: an open-label, non-randomised, prospective, first-in-human phase 1 clinical trial The Lancet, September 2017
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673617316653

…we enrolled and vaccinated 101 participants... 50 (78%) of 64 intradermally vaccinated participants and 29 (78%) of 37 intramuscularly vaccinated participants reported solicited systemic adverse events, including ten grade 3 events… intradermal or intramuscular needle-syringe injection was ineffective, with only one participant (who received 320 μg intradermally) showing a detectable immune response.

 

 

1 year into the pandemic, we are still stuck with facemasks that, according to physics, appear to have very little effect. We’re stuck with lockdowns that already have destroyed millions of businesses and jobs, for not terribly obvious purposes. Does locking down entire countries or cities prevent a virus from spreading? Not that we know. Here in Athens, this has been in effect since early November, and guess what, numbers are rising again…

How can you force these kinds of things on people if you refuse to try and boost their immune systems? If the only things you do is force them to stay indoors, inarguably a riskier environment, and then tell them to take an untested “vaccine”, or else?

It makes less sense all the time, going forward. And I don’t think it’s because of some great evil plan, there are simply too many people having to make too many decisions they are not at all qualified to make. So they follow “the science”. What else do you do when you’re way out of your league? Virus? Ask a virologist, or epidemiologist. But those people cover only a very small part of the issue. They are clueless when it comes to economic apocalypse, and yet they are in charge of decisions that feed it.

Look, if you put an elephant in a circus, you have a traumatized animal. Which will somehow adapt perhaps, since there’s life around him/her, feeders, audience, and nowhere to go, but still a walking trauma. Inmates will bond with fellows to an extent, there’s life around them, but they’re still traumatized.

And now we’ve excluded millions upon millions of people from their social contacts, the life their ancestors always had, and we’re telling them that a jab of some experimental substance will make it good. Even though we all know there is no guarantee of that whatsoever. None.

We lost our way, and our heart, and your brains. We lost what it means to be human. And mRNA vaccines are not human.

 

 

Here’s another interview with PCR inventor Kary Mullis, A controversial guy, for sure, but he did invent it. And maybe that merits a listen:

Kary Mullis

 

 

 

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Feb 202021
 
 February 20, 2021  Posted by at 10:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Edward Hopper Gloucester Beach, Bass Rocks 1924

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)
We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)
Democrats Don’t Believe In Returning To ‘Normal‘ (WE)
Two Variants Have Merged Into Heavily Mutated Coronavirus (New Scientist)
Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)
German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of COVID Pandemic (SPR)
Johnson & Johnson Submits Its Single-Shot Covid Vaccine To WHO (RT)
Fauci: When I Publicly Disagreed With Trump He Let Terrible Things Happen (T.)
Pfizer-BioNTech Tried To Gouge The EU With $65 Vaccine Doses (RT)
Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)
Swiss To Vote In Referendum On Government’s Covid Restrictions (FT)
China Steps Up Online Controls With New Rule For Bloggers (AP)
The Sound and the Fury of Andrew Cuomo (New Yorker)
The Texas Freeze is a Catastrophe of the Free Market (Galbraith)

 

 

 

 

Mike Ryan

 

 

Saw something in a Dutch paper. Can’t find an English version, and it has no sources. So a Google translate.

This is the first time I see a claim that the Pfizer vaccine prevents the virus from spreading, something the company itself, until recently, said it had no proof for.

What I did find in an AFP article is this, which sort of seems to deny the claim: “Gili Regev-Yochay, co-author of the study [..] said that despite the vaccine being “amazingly effective”, scientists are still studying whether fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others. “That is the big, big, question. We are working on it. This is not on this paper and I hope we will have some good news soon..”

The Dutch bit: “People vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are much less likely to transmit the coronavirus. That means the vaccines may not only prevent people from getting sick, but also make them much less likely to infect others, two Israeli studies show. The virus would be 89.4 percent less transmissible in vaccinated people without symptoms. In patients who do have symptoms, that percentage is even higher, at 93.7.


This is stated in a data analysis by Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health.” A separate study also yielded good news. Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center concluded that 7,214 vaccinated hospital workers were much less likely to transmit the virus after 15 to 28 days. This is an 85 percent reduction in infected people with symptoms.

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)

Data released by Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer on Friday showed that coronavirus infections were reduced by 75% after the first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The data, published in the peer-reviewed Lancet medical journal, centered on a study of around 9,000 Sheba healthcare workers, around 7,000 of which received their first dose in January. Sheba’s team found a 75% decrease in all infections and an 85% reduction in symptomatic infections between 15-28 days after vaccination. According to Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the hospital’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, only 170 people became infected during the two week period. Of those who contracted the virus, 99 showed symptoms. Eighty-nine of the sick were unvaccinated.

“In real life, the data looks at least as good as in the clinical trials,” Regev-Yochay said. “The first dose is even more effective than we thought.” She said the hospital is now completing research on the impact of the second dose, which she said researchers still believe is essential. However, she noted that the research supports the British government’s decision to spread out the time between the first and second shots of the vaccine in order to inoculate more people. “This is the first study assessing effectiveness of a single vaccine dose in real life conditions and shows early effectiveness, even before the second dose was administered,” said Prof. Eyal Leshem, director of Sheba’s Travel & Tropical Medicine department.

Regev-Yochay noted that there was at least one limitation on the data – that hospital workers tend to be under the age of 65 and healthier than the rest of the population, so it is possible that less people got sick or showed symptoms for that reason.

Read more …

“Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”

We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)

Johns Hopkins surgeon, Dr. Marty Makary, penned an Op-ed in the WSJ this morning saying that we will have herd immunity by April. “Experts should level with the public about the good news…” exclaims Makary (who is likely on the verge of getting canceled), as he cites the “miracle” 77% drop in cases over the past 6 weeks and that testing likely only captured about 10% – 25% of infections; he extrapolates that to saying 55% of Americans have natural immunity (and add to that the 15% of Americans that have been vaccinated). Additionally, he cites Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, who believes that 250mm doses of the vaccine will have be delivered to 150mm people by the end of March.

“There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”[..] “…the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.”

[..] “Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”

Read more …

More on Dr. Makary.

Democrats Don’t Believe In Returning To ‘Normal‘ (WE)

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Marty Makary has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, asserting with confidence that the U.S. population will have achieved herd immunity against the coronavirus by April “allowing Americans to resume normal life.” That’s a nice thought, but not so fast, Makary. You’re not under the impression that even when we’re at an astonishingly low rate of infection that life will, on its own will, default to what it was pre-2020, are you? Don’t be so naive. The people calling the shots have made no such promises. They have, in fact, done the opposite. When is the last time anyone has heard the sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci or President Biden or anyone at all in the Democratic Party say anything about resuming “normal life.”? I’ll wait.

Just last month, Fauci said that even with as much as 85% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer, we could still only expect a “degree of normality.” He said that, of course, in a tone that suggested we should be grateful, but it’s what he said. Biden, just this week, made clear that “normal” isn’t part of his vocabulary. During a town hall-style event, he said that the Christmas season might bring “a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today.” Once we’re all vaccinated, aren’t you looking forward to our “very different circumstance”? Flat-lining new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 is the immediate goal for everyone, but everyone needs to understand that Democrats have some other things in mind for the pandemic as well.

In Washington, D.C., where I live, we’ve been averaging something like three deaths per day between November and now. The typical person who succumbs to the virus is usually in his mid-70s to mid-80s. New cases are down close to 40% over the last two weeks. And for that, we remain in severe lockdown. Indoor capacity at restaurants, the owners of which have started constructing permanent outdoor seating structures, is limited to 25%. All of our museums are indefinitely closed. There are no clubs, movie theaters, or concert venues in operation. Anyone who believes it’s all going to come roaring back in April is kidding themselves. This is how Democrats believe we should live. They believe it’s better for the planet, but don’t worry, trust them to send you a monthly check to tide you over.

Herd immunity won’t get us back to normal. It will be people who decide they’ll no longer tolerate lockdowns.

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“it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies..”

Two Variants Have Merged Into Heavily Mutated Coronavirus (New Scientist)

Two variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes covid-19 have combined their genomes to form a heavily mutated hybrid version of the virus. The “recombination” event was discovered in a virus sample in California, provoking warnings that we may be poised to enter a new phase of the pandemic. The hybrid virus is the result of recombination of the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant discovered in the UK and the B.1.429 variant that originated in California and which may be responsible for a recent wave of cases in Los Angeles because it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies.

The recombinant was discovered by Bette Korber at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who told a meeting organised by the New York Academy of Sciences on 2 February that she had seen “pretty clear” evidence of it in her database of US viral genomes. If confirmed, the recombinant would be the first to be detected in this pandemic. In December and January, two research groups independently reported that they hadn’t seen any evidence of recombination, even though it has long been expected as it is common in coronaviruses. Unlike regular mutation, where changes accumulate one at a time, which is how variants such as B.1.1.7 arose, recombination can bring together multiple mutations in one go.

Most of the time, these don’t confer any advantage to the virus, but occasionally they do. Recombination can be of major evolutionary importance, according to François Balloux at University College London. It is considered by many to be how SARS-CoV-2 originated. Recombination could lead to the emergence of new and even more dangerous variants, although it isn’t yet clear how much of a threat this first recombination event might pose. Korber has only seen a single recombinant genome among thousands of sequences and it isn’t clear whether the virus is being transmitted from person to person or is just a one-off.

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Baby steps, but something.

Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)

An Israeli tropical-disease expert says he has new proof that a drug used to fight parasites in third-world countries could help reduce the length of infection for people who contract coronavirus. Prof. Eli Schwartz, founder of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Disease at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, last week completed a clinical trial of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent that has also been shown to fight viruses. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 100 people with mild to moderate cases of the disease who were not hospitalized for the virus. It tested whether ivermectin could shorten the viral shedding period, allowing them to test negative for coronavirus and leave isolation in only a few days.


According to his still unpublished data, Schwartz said the drug was shown to help “cure” people of the virus within just six days. Moreover, the chances of testing negative for coronavirus were three times higher for the group who received ivermectin than the placebo, he told The Jerusalem Post. “From a public-health point of view, the majority of patients with corona are mild cases, and 90% of these people are isolated outside of the hospital,” Schwartz said. “If you have any kind of drug that can shorten the duration of the infectiousness of these patients, that would be dramatic, as then they will not infect others.” Moreover, instead of isolating for a minimum of 10 days and maybe more, this period could be shortened, benefiting the economy. Finally, although Schwartz’s study did not focus on this, he said the results indicate that it is likely if the drug were given at the beginning of one’s illness, it could prevent deterioration and hospitalization.

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Full study via the link.

German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of COVID Pandemic (SPR)

For more than a year, the coronavirus has been causing a worldwide crisis. In a study, nanoscientist Prof. Dr. Roland Wiesendanger has now shed light on the origin of the virus. He concludes that both the number and quality of the circumstantial evidence point to a laboratory accident at the virological institute in the city of Wuhan as the cause of the current pandemic. The study was conducted between January 2020 and December 2020. It is based on an interdisciplinary scientific approach and extensive research using a wide variety of information sources. These include scientific literature, articles in print and online media, and personal communication with international colleagues. It does not provide strictly scientific evidence, but it does provide ample and serious circumstantial evidence:

• Unlike previous coronavirus-related epidemics such as SARS and MERS, to date, well over a year after the outbreak of the current pandemic, no intermediate host animal has been identified that could have facilitated the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 pathogens from bats to humans. Therefore, the zoonotic theory as a possible explanation for the pandemic has no sound scientific basis.

• The SARS-CoV-2 viruses are surprisingly good at coupling to human cell receptors and penetrating human cells. This is made possible by special cell receptor binding domains combined with a special (furin) cleavage site of the coronavirus spike protein. Both properties together were previously unknown in coronaviruses and indicate a non-natural origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.

• Bats were not offered at the suspected fish market in the center of Wuhan city. However, the Wuhan City Virological Institute has one of the world’s largest collections of bat pathogens, which originated from distant caves in southern Chinese provinces. It is extremely unlikely that bats from this distance of nearly 2,000 km would have naturally made their way to Wuhan, only to cause a global pandemic in close proximity to this virological institute.

• A research group at the Wuhan City Virological Institute has been genetically manipulating coronaviruses for many years with the goal of making them more contagious, dangerous and deadly to humans. This has been documented in the scientific literature by numerous publications.

• Significant safety deficiencies existed at the Wuhan City Virological Institute even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which have been documented.

• There are numerous direct references to a laboratory origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. For example, a young female scientist at the virology institute in Wuhan is believed to have been the first to become infected. There are also numerous indications that as early as October 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen spread from the virological institute to the city of Wuhan and beyond. Furthermore, there are indications that the virological institute was investigated by the Chinese authorities in the first half of October 2019.

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Late to the game?

Johnson & Johnson Submits Its Single-Shot Covid Vaccine To WHO (RT)

Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has submitted data on its coronavirus vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks the agency’s greenlight for emergency use. Unlike other shots, this one comes in a single dose. The emergency-use approval is a prerequisite for the vaccine joining the WHO-led COVAX watchdog program, J&J said in a statement on Friday, revealing it had submitted its paperwork to the UN health body. Unlike vaccine competitors already in the Covid-fighting market, the J&J offering comes in a single-dose form, which would make its distribution considerably easier. Moreover, it can be stored under standard refrigerator temperatures, making it an attractive option for countries with less-developed infrastructure.


While Russia’s Sputnik V, British-Swedish AstraZeneca and China’s CoronaVac vaccines can be stored in regular fridges as well, both of the US jabs by Moderna and Pfizer require extremely low temperatures to prevent spoilage. Pfizer said on Friday, however, that it had sufficient data to show its jab can actually be safely stored in a refrigerator and not the extreme cold currently advised. Johnson and Johnson published data on the late-stage trials of its vaccine last month, with the solution showing a rather modest efficacy of 66 percent. The vaccine was tested across several countries and showed mixed results ranging from 72 percent in the US to merely 57 percent in South Africa. [..] Apart from seeking the WHO’s approval, the J&J vaccine is also expected to enter the US market shortly. The solution is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, with its experts expected to discuss its emergency use authorization next week.

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I see Nobel Prize AND Oscar material:

“By the time Biden took office, the pandemic was raging out of control. ‘Oh my goodness, it was,’ Fauci says. ‘When President Biden walked into the White House we were having 300,000 to 400,000 cases per day, 4,000 deaths per day, and our hospitals were on the brink of being overrun.’”

On Jan 18, the US had 150,695 new cases.
On Jan 19, the US had 176,153 new cases.
On Jan 20, the US had 191.222 new cases.

Fauci: When I Publicly Disagreed With Trump He Let Terrible Things Happen (T.)

He appears surprisingly relaxed given his immense responsibilities at this time of crisis, but then it takes a lot to faze Dr Fauci. The evergreen director of Washington’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has been a medical adviser to seven consecutive US presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, steering them and his country through outbreaks of Ebola, Sars, Zika, avian flu, swine flu and the threat of biological weapons after 9/11. He was one of the first scientists to spot the lethal new syndrome that was Aids in the early 1980s. He was initially reviled by a gay community outraged at the Reagan administration’s apparent indifference to its decimation, then hailed as a hero after championing its cause.

Most recently, during almost all of 2020, he watched in horror as President Trump actively undermined his own government’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic by holding mass rallies, mocking mask wearers, promoting quack remedies and encouraging his supporters to breach lockdowns. Fauci does not consider this characterisation of Trump’s conduct unfair. ‘No, no, no,’ he says. ‘Unfortunately it’s the truth.’ Donald Trump was initially sceptical of the threat from Covid-19, but Fauci and his fellow scientists did manage to persuade him to back state-by-state lockdowns, and approve social-distancing measures. He also restricted Chinese visitors to the country. By the spring, however, Fauci’s relations with the president had soured as Trump began listening to outsiders with no scientific knowledge and fretting about the damage to the economy and – by extension – his re-election hopes.

Fauci’s challenge was to correct the president’s dangerous falsehoods as diplomatically as possible, often while sharing the stage with him at televised White House briefings, but he says that ‘when it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things – or allowed things to happen – that were terrible. ‘Like he allowed Peter Navarro [Trump’s trade adviser] to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I’ve ever said was wrong. He allowed the communications department of the White House to send out a list to all of the media, all of the networks, all of the cables, all of the print press, about all of the mistakes I’ve made, which was absolute nonsense because there were no mistakes.’

Trump also began to denigrate Fauci in tweets and press conferences, setting him up as a target for the extreme Right’s hatred. ‘Which I became, to the point that to this day I have to have armed federal agents guarding me all the time,’ Fauci says. And he was not the only target. To his dismay, his wife and three adult daughters were also harassed and threatened. Liberated under President Biden, Fauci can now speak frankly in a way he couldn’t last year. He tells me that in the final two months of his presidency Trump almost completely abandoned his duty to protect the nation from the pandemic. ‘We [the scientists] were trying, but we were acting almost alone, in the sense of without any direction.’

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“..500 million doses would have cost the EU €3 billion more than the annual GDP of Iceland.”

Pfizer-BioNTech Tried To Gouge The EU With $65 Vaccine Doses (RT)

Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech wanted to charge the EU Commission €54.08 per dose of their Coronavirus vaccine, according to German media reports. The jab would have cost more than 20 times that of a rival shot from AstraZeneca. The prospective price tag was revealed on Thursday by German broadcasters NDR and WDR, and the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The paper claims that Pfizer and BioNTech submitted a bid to the EU offering 500 million doses at €54.08 ($65.58) per dose, for a total cost of €27 billion ($32.74 billion). At €54.08, the BioNTech vaccine would have cost more than 20 times as much as the rival vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and 500 million doses would have cost the EU €3 billion more than the annual GDP of Iceland.

In comparison, Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine was expected to be priced at no more than $10 (€8.26), according to its backers. “I see it as a pursuit of profit that is in no way justified in the current situation of the pandemic,” Wolf Dieter Ludwig, drug chairman of the German Medical Association, told the newspaper. Pfizer-BioNTech has made no profit on the sale of vaccines, according to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, and during negotiations last year reportedly told EU officials that the €54.08 price tag already included “the highest percentage discount” offered to any developed country. The final cost per dose of the vaccine is still unknown, though a document leaked by Belgian MP Eva De Bleeker in December suggested that Pfizer-BioNTech had been bargained down to €12 ($14.55).

Reuters later stated that it had reviewed documents showing the price at €15.50 ($18.79) per dose, “slightly lower than the $19.50 per shot the United States agreed to pay for a first shipment of 100 million doses of the same vaccine.”

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“..$1.5 billion is chump change for the charismatic Elon Musk, whose share of the American GDP can be seen from outer space, like the Great Wall of China.”

Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)

Covid-19 cases are going down fast across the country. If it actually goes away, imagine the giant hole left in the national narrative. No more arguments over lockdowns, kids could go back to school to learn about the scourge of whiteness, and Americans could see each other’s faces again. The “progressives” in power would have to hunt up some new reasons to cancel the bill of rights. That shouldn’t be too difficult for a party adept at making shit up. Right wing extremism would be my bet, even if Antifa and BLM go back to partying in the streets like it’s 2020 when the weather warms up. What won’t go away is the nation’s fantastic economic mess.

In just a few months since Thanksgiving, the financial system has gone through an epic shift, barely noticed by citizens preoccupied with unpaid bills, skipped rents, and empty refrigerators: the stock markets are now based on Bitcoin, which is to say on less than nothing. A whole new dynamic has emerged with publicly-held companies buying the stuff hand-over-fist. An outfit like Tesla, rumored to manufacture electric cars, invested $1.5 billion in the crypto-currency, which has shot up to over $50,000-a-coin in recent weeks. The move was so splendidly shrewd that Tesla’s stock price also shot up, though they don’t make a profit on those cool cars. Of course, $1.5 billion is chump change for the charismatic Elon Musk, whose share of the American GDP can be seen from outer space, like the Great Wall of China.

Other companies are buying Bitcoin on margin, taking advantage of super-low interest rates to make a fast killing. What a great idea! Even better than borrowing to buy back your own company’s stock to jack-up the share value. Don’t be surprised if half of the S & P jumps into the Bitcoin frenzy, bidding it up to six figures. Won’t that do wonders for US productivity and working-class wages? None of that will escape the attention of a “progressive” Congress, which will see a great opportunity to try to compensate for its fiscal profligacy by passing new taxes on “excess wealth” or “windfall profits.” Then, watch the rush-to-the-exits by shareholders in those companies that loaded up on Bitcoin, aggravated by the margin calls on the dough they borrowed to buy the stuff… as well as Bitcoin itself plummeting back to its actual true value: around zero.

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Clincher: the vote is scheduled for “as early as” June.

Swiss To Vote In Referendum On Government’s Covid Restrictions (FT)

Swiss campaigners have triggered a referendum to strip the government of new legal powers to impose lockdowns and curtail public life as the country battles the pandemic. Campaign group Friends of the Constitution on Wednesday handed in a petition of 86,000 signatures collected over the past three months — well in excess of the 50,000 required — to formally initiate a nationwide vote to repeal the 2020 Covid-19 Act under Switzerland’s highly devolved democratic system. The outcome will be legally binding, with a vote scheduled for as early as June. While the pandemic has exposed social and political fractures across Europe over the rights of citizens, in Switzerland — where individuals’ rights are often treated as culturally sacrosanct and government powers are sharply proscribed by law — the strains have become particularly evident.

“In our opinion, the [government] is taking advantage of the pandemic to introduce more control and less democracy,” Christoph Pfluger, a board member of Friends of the Constitution, told the Financial Times. He added: “The long-term problems that will arise from this kind of approach will be grave. We are a movement that says crisis management cannot be done without the will of the sovereign — the people. You cannot govern without the people.” Mr Pfluger said Switzerland would be the first and perhaps the only country to give its citizens a direct vote on coronavirus restrictions. Until late December, Bern’s governing Federal Council had been reluctant to impose restrictions during the second wave of the pandemic.

Staunch opposition from many Swiss to further curbs and dire warnings from several of the country’s most powerful and influential lobbying groups about the economic consequences of another shutdown forestalled action in the run-up to Christmas, even as case numbers rocketed. A poll conducted by Switzerland’s Sotomo Research Institute for state broadcaster SRF in November found that 55 per cent of Swiss were concerned about their individual freedoms being restricted by government measures. The same survey found that even an 11pm curfew for bars and restaurants was considered too restrictive by a third of Swiss respondents.

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Just like Twitter, Facebook.

China Steps Up Online Controls With New Rule For Bloggers (AP)

Ma Xiaolin frequently wrote about current affairs on one of China’s leading microblogging sites, where he has 2 million followers. But recently, he said in a post, the Weibo site called and asked him not to post original content on topics ranging from politics to economic and military issues. “As an international affairs researcher and a columnist, it looks like I can only go the route of entertainment, food and beverage now,” the international relations professor wrote on Jan. 31. Ma, who often posted on developments in the Mideast, is one of many popular influencers working within the constraints of China’s heavily censored web who is finding that their space to speak is shrinking even further with the latest policy changes and a clean-up campaign run by the country’s powerful censors,


Beginning next week, the Cyberspace Administration of China will require bloggers and influencers to have a government-approved credential before they can publish on a wide range of subjects. Some fear that only state media and official propaganda accounts will get permission. While permits have been needed since at least 2017 to write about topics such as political and military affairs, enforcement has not been widespread. The new rules expand that requirement to health, economics, education and judicial matters. “The regulators want to control the entire procedure of information production,” said Titus Chen, an expert in Chinese social media policy at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.

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Chilling. Scorsese.

The Sound and the Fury of Andrew Cuomo (New Yorker)

Last week, Ron Kim, a Democratic State Assembly member from Queens, was preparing a bath for his three daughters—ages six, four, and two—when he got a call from the governor around 8 p.m. An hour earlier, the New York Post had published leaked details of a Zoom meeting between state Democratic lawmakers and Melissa DeRosa, one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s closest aides. During the two-hour meeting, DeRosa seemed to confirm a suspicion that a number of lawmakers had had for months: the governor had intentionally withheld from them data confirming that thousands more New York nursing-home residents died from covid-19 than official numbers publicly showed. The lawmakers demanded an explanation, and DeRosa offered them one: last year, the Cuomo administration had been worried that Donald Trump and his Justice Department would use the numbers “against us.” “Basically, we froze,” DeRosa told the Democrats.

Kim, who has been a persistent critic of Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, was in the meeting with DeRosa. A month earlier, he had become the chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Aging, and once the recording of the call leaked, the Post had reached out for comment. Kim told the reporters that, to him, DeRosa’s comments were as bad as they looked—“They were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence,” he said—a quote that the governor’s office had tried to get Kim to retract. But the quote had stayed in, the story was up, and now the governor was on the phone, fuming. “I will destroy you!” Cuomo screamed, according to notes Kim wrote down after the call—which he shared with me. The governor was so loud that Kim’s wife and daughters grew upset, and Kim stepped out of the bathroom. “You haven’t seen my wrath,” Cuomo told him. “I will go out tomorrow and start telling the world how bad of an Assembly member you are, and you will be finished.”

For Kim, the nursing-home issue was personal as well as political. In April, his uncle Son Kim died, of a suspected case of covid-19, in a nursing home in Queens. He was seventy-eight, and had shaped his nephew’s life. Son Kim had become a dentist at a time when it was almost impossible for a Korean immigrant to set up a dental practice in New York City. He enlisted in the Army, in which he could practice his profession, and eventually sponsored Ron and his family’s visas to the U.S.; in 1987, when Ron was seven, his uncle, a staunch Republican, chose a new American name for him, in honor of President Ronald Reagan. Despite the personal loss, Kim told Cuomo that he’d tried to keep his disagreements about the governor’s pandemic policies on the level of policy. I bit my tongue, Kim said. “I bit my tongue!” Cuomo shot back.

Neither Kim nor his wife slept that night. “I’m trying to calm her down,” Kim told me. Cuomo kept up the pressure through the weekend. That Saturday, Cuomo’s aides and other intermediaries called Kim, trying to get him to talk to the governor. “It’s Lunar New Year—I’m with my family,” Kim told me. “I felt extremely uncomfortable.” Kim believes that Cuomo was trying to silence him. “I realized if I changed course, I’m complicit,” Kim said. “And then, politically, he owns me.” Kim hired a lawyer, to whom he directed any further communications about the issue from the governor’s office. “Ultimately, what he was trying to do was asking me to lie about what I heard,” Kim said, of Cuomo. “It’s like I witnessed a crime, and they’re asking me to say I didn’t witness a crime.”

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“In the aftermath of this debacle, we will return to New Deal-style municipal socialism, or this disaster of power, water, and gas will happen again. Socialism is government, in technical matters, by engineers and others who know their stuff and not by ideologues who do not. Compared to Texas right now, it’s not such a bad prospect.”

The Texas Freeze is a Catastrophe of the Free Market (Galbraith)

Competition would assure bare-bones, lean-and-mean efficiency, and low, low prices most of the time, reflecting the cost of fuel plus the smallest possible profit margin. The role of the state would be minimal – just to manage the common grid, through which power flows from the producer to the consumer. In times of shortage, prices might rise, but then the market would decide; those who did not wish to pay could always flip their switches off. It was a perfect textbook setup, with supply on one side, demand on the other, and a neutral manager in between. True, there were a few loose ends. One is that demand for electricity is what economists call inelastic: it doesn’t respond much to price, but it does respond to changes in the weather, and at such times, of heat or cold, the demand becomes even more inelastic.

Another detail was that in an ordinary market, there can be some play in the relationship between supply and demand. If even a fishmonger does not sell his catch, he can, at the end of the day, cut his price – or even freeze the haddock for the following day. Electricity isn’t like that. Supply has to exactly equal demand every single minute of every single day. If it doesn’t, the entire system can fail. This system, therefore, had three vulnerabilities. First, it created an incentive for cut-throat competition, to provide power in the cheapest possible way, which meant with machinery, wells, meters, pipes, and also windmills that were not insulated against extreme cold – a rarity but not unknown, even in Texas. Second, it left prices free to fluctuate. Third, it assured that when prices rose the most, that would be at exactly those moments when the demand for power was the greatest.

In 2002, under Governor Rick Perry, Texas deregulated its electricity system. After a few years, the electrical free market, managed by a non-profit called ERCOT, was fully-established. Some seventy or so providers eventually sprung up. While a few cities – including Austin – kept their public power, they were nevertheless tied to the state system. The market system could, and did, work out most of the time. Prices rose and fell, and customers who didn’t sign long-term contracts faced some risk. One provider, called Griddy, had a special model: for $9.99 a month you could get your power at whatever the wholesale price was on any given day. That was cheap! Most of the time.

The problem with “most of the time” is that people need electric power all of the time. And Texas’s leaders knew as of 2011, at least, when the state went through a short, severe freeze, that the system was radically unstable in extreme weather. But they did nothing. To do something, they would have had to regulate the system. And they didn’t want to regulate the system, because the providers, a rich source of campaign funding, didn’t want to be regulated and to have to spend on weatherization that was not needed – most of the time. In 2020, even voluntary inspections were suspended, due to Covid-19.

Enter the deep freeze of 2021. Demand went up. Supply went down. Natural gas froze up at the wells, in the pipes, and at the generating plants. Unweatherized windmills also went off-line, a small part of the story. Since Texas is disconnected from the rest of the country, no reserves could be imported, and given the cold everywhere, there would have been none available anyway. There came a point, on Sunday, February 14 or the next day, when demand so outstripped supply that the entire Texas grid came within minutes of a collapse that, we are told, would have taken months to repair.

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Feb 102021
 


Claude Monet Houses of Parliament (Sun Breaking through the Fog) 1904

 

Nation To Celebrate 1st Anniversary Of Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve (BBee)
Mindless Lockdowns Destroy Lives — And Our Constitution (NYP)
Doctors Link Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines to Life-Threatening Blood Disorder (CHD)
Biden Team Fears No COVID Herd Immunity Until Thanksgiving (DB)
Trump Hid His Calls With Putin. Now, Biden Has Access To Them. (Pol.)
With Biden in Charge, Media Forgets Kids in Cages (MPN)
Trump’s Maximum Pressure Campaign Lives On Under Biden’s Command (ZH)
Trump Plans A Reemergence And Some Retribution After Impeachment (Pol.)
Trump Reportedly Shocked, Enraged By Bruce Castor’s Performance (F.)
Births In China Plummeted 15% In 2020 (ZH)
Mark Cuban’s Mavericks Won’t Play National Anthem Anymore (NYP)
Biden Continues Push For Assange’s Extradition Ahead of US Appeal Deadline (RT)

 

 

“I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others–poor young clerks who loitered in front of the windows until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner–young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seems like a good time to open with Babylon Bee.

Nation To Celebrate 1st Anniversary Of Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve (BBee)

The nation is preparing to celebrate what is expected to become a beloved annual holiday: Two Weeks To Slow The Spread Day, to be held in March every year. “This time of year we like to come together to remember the historic day one year ago when we put on masks and locked ourselves down, trusting that the lockdown would be over in just two weeks,” said local man Paul Christof as he stared out his window longingly, his three masks securely in place. “This year, I’m going all out with a Zoom party with no more than five of my closest friends — I mean, closest, figuratively speaking, of course. We’ll be literally far apart, because I want to stay home and stay safe, and I don’t want grandma to die.”


Traditional festivities for the newly christened American holiday include remote Amazon gift exchanges, ordering DoorDash feasts for just yourself, and the customary binging of the Netflix. Historians believe the holiday will become a hit, and people will continue to wear masks and stay home throughout the year as the festive day is celebrated for hundreds of years to come.

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“The Constitution, Justice Robert Jackson famously wrote, “is not a suicide pact.”

Mindless Lockdowns Destroy Lives — And Our Constitution (NYP)

The US Supreme Court on Friday made clear to Team Biden and state governors that the fight against the pandemic doesn’t give them a blank check against individual liberties. In South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, the high court struck down a California emergency regulation that prohibited all indoor religious services. Six justices held that Gov. Gavin Newsom had violated the First Amendment by subjecting religious groups to a complete ban, even while groceries, public transit and retail shops remain open. Americans accepted a broad — but temporary — lockdown of society to slow the pandemic a year ago. Yet many still live under unprecedented restrictions: business and school closures, travel bans, curfews, quarantines, limits on groups and mask mandates.

Whatever the health benefits of these diktats (and many are questionable), they have been handed down with shocking disregard for the costs: strokes uncared for, cancers left undetected, psychological anguish (especially among young adults), skyrocketing domestic abuse and harm to children from lack of in-person schooling. Unemployment from lockdowns, meanwhile, will cause 890,000 additional US deaths over the next 15 years, according to a recent study. Lockdowns also inflict great harm upon liberty. Governments overrode the rights to meet, work, speak, worship or organize. Bureaucracies decided which businesses could open and which should die.

Our legal system understandably defers to the executive branch during an emergency, when swift action can save lives. The Constitution, Justice Robert Jackson famously wrote, “is not a suicide pact.” Emergency policies may prove imperfect, but our legal and political systems accept more mistakes during emergencies or war, because the costs of inaction are far higher. Still, our system doesn’t permit permanent dictatorial powers in the face of contrary data. In California, for example, the governor can unilaterally exercise any and all authority vested in the state, such as to impose quarantines and curfews, ration goods and services and regulate or even prohibit any economic and social activity.

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mRNA and auto-immune.

Doctors Link Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines to Life-Threatening Blood Disorder (CHD)

For the second time in under a month, The New York Times has published an article about people who developed a rare autoimmune disease after receiving COVID vaccines. Monday’s article featured two women, both of whom were described as healthy before they received the Moderna vaccine. The women, ages 72 and 48, are now being treated for immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a condition that develops when the immune system attacks platelets (blood component essential for clotting) or the cells that create them, according to the Times. On Jan. 13, the Times reported on the death of Dr. Gregory Michael, a Florida doctor who died 15 days after getting the Pfizer vaccine. Michael, who was 56 and described as “perfectly healthy” by his wife, developed ITP three days after being vaccinated.

He died of a brain hemorrhage on Jan. 3. As The Defender reported on Jan. 13, Dr. Jerry L. Spivak, an expert on blood disorders at Johns Hopkins University, said it was a “medical certainty” the Pfizer vaccine led to Michael’s death. Spivak, who was interviewed for Monday’s article in the Times, reiterated the link between the vaccine and ITP. Another doctor, Dr. James Bussel, a hematologist and professor emeritus at Weill Cornell Medicine who has written more than 300 scientific articles on the platelet disorder, also said he thinks there is a “possible” association between the vaccines and ITP. Bussel told the Times: “I’m assuming there’s something that made the people who developed thrombocytopenia susceptible, given what a tiny percentage of recipients they are. Having it happen after a vaccine is well-known and has been seen with many other vaccines. Why it happens, we don’t know.”

Bussel and a colleague, Dr. Eun-Ju Lee, have identified 15 cases of ITP in COVID vaccine recipients by searching the government’s database — the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) — or by consulting with other physicians treating patients, and have submitted an article about their findings to a medical journal, according to the Times. In a statement provided to the Times, Pfizer said it was aware of ITP cases in vaccine recipients and that the company is “collecting relevant information” to share with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine maker added, however that “at this time, we have not been able to establish a causal association with our vaccine.” Moderna also provided a statement, but didn’t address cases of ITP, only saying that it “continuously monitors the safety of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine using all sources of data” and routinely shares safety information with regulators.

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Blind.

Biden Team Fears No COVID Herd Immunity Until Thanksgiving (DB)

Top members of President Joe Biden’s COVID response team are warning internally that the U.S. may not reach herd immunity until Thanksgiving or even the start of winter—months later than originally calculated—according to two senior administration officials. In an interview with CBS News this week, Biden hinted at some of these concerns, saying it would be “very difficult” to reach herd immunity—a population-wide resistance to the virus—“much before the end of the summer” with the current daily rate of approximately 1.3 million vaccine doses. Other top officials working on the federal government’s COVID-19 response say the are uneasy about vaccine supply long term and the impact on herd immunity, and have begun to explore ways to expand U.S. manufacturing capacity, potentially through new partnerships with outside pharmaceutical firms.


Beyond supply issues, though, top health officials say they are increasingly worried about the United Kingdom and South African COVID-19 variants, the likelihood that more variants will emerge in the coming months, and the possibility that those variants will evade the vaccines. There is some evidence to suggest that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect against the B117 United Kingdom variant, though a recent study shows a new mutation could make the vaccines less effective. Data gathered by the Novavax and Johnson and Johnson clinical trials in South Africa suggest their vaccines are less effective against the variant spreading rapidly in the country. And South Africa recently said it was halting the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine because evidence from clinical trials suggested the vaccine did not work well against the variant.

Tucker: Big Tech attempting to censor COVID-19 vaccine dissent

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RussiaRussia is alive and kicking.

Trump Hid His Calls With Putin. Now, Biden Has Access To Them. (Pol.)

Few Trump-era mysteries are as intriguing as what the 45th president said to Vladimir Putin in at least a dozen rambling, off-the-cuff calls and meetings over four years. Understanding what was said between the two could help illuminate whether Trump ever revealed sensitive information or struck any deals with the Kremlin leader that could take the new administration by surprise. Now that President Joe Biden is in the White House, he can see for himself. “They don’t need our approval to see those [records],” a former Trump White House official said, referring to the new Biden national security team. “Biden owns all the call materials. There is only one president at a time.” The Biden White House did not comment on whether it had seen the content of the calls.

But so far, at least, the National Security Council has not registered any complaints with their ability to access relevant call records from the previous administration. “It is a national security priority to find out what Trump said to Putin” over his four years in office, said one former national security official who is close to the new president. “Some things, like what happened in some face-to-face meetings where no American translator or note-taker was present, may never be fully known. But I would be very surprised if the new national security team were not trying to access” the call records. Trump closely guarded his private conversations with foreign leaders while in office, going as far as to have some hidden in the NSC’s top-secret codeword system to limit staffers’ and even cabinet members’ access and prevent leaks.

Readouts of their calls would often come from the Kremlin first, or through Trump’s Twitter feed. But while the calls were not recorded, aides were typically still on the line and taking notes of what was said. The resulting loose transcripts are known as “memcons,” or memorandums of conversation. Trump went to particularly great lengths to keep his in-person conversations with the Russian leader private, from confiscating his interpreter’s notes to forgoing American translators and notetakers altogether in their meetings. That desire for secrecy has extended even past his time in office. One former Trump official argued last week that records of Trump’s conversations with Putin, which often lasted an hour or more, should not be made available to his successor. “There are certain things a president and his immediate staff should be able to hold privileged to do the work of government, without being subject to constant partisan gamesmanship,” said a second former Trump White House official.

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Just give it a new name and you’re squeaky clean.

With Biden in Charge, Media Forgets Kids in Cages (MPN)

The Biden administration is opening a new child prison along the United States-Mexico border. The center, located in Carrizo Springs, around 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, is being specifically built for unaccompanied migrant children attempting to cross the border and will hold around 700 people when finished, although plans noted it will be expanded if the government deems it necessary. But corporate media do not see it that way. While the Trump years were filled with stories about “kids in cages” and ICE “concentration camps” along the border, they have instead almost universally referred to the new project as an “overflow facility” to help migrant children, as the following headlines demonstrate:

“Biden administration prepares to open overflow facility for migrant children,” CNN, “Biden administration to open overflow facility for 700 migrant children,” New York Post, “Biden administration to house migrant teens at overflow facility in Texas closed under Trump,” USA Today, “Biden Admin. to Open Migrant Overflow Facility amid Increase in Unaccompanied Minor Apprehensions,” Yahoo! News, “Biden administration prepares to open overflow facility for migrant children,” CBS. “Overflow facility” is a distinctly pleasantly sounding term for such an establishment, suggesting links to positively-charged services like swimming pools or libraries. The phrase is a completely new way to refer to prisons; a news search for “overflow facility” pre-January 2021 brings up only stories about COVID overflow clinics or emergency sewage treatment works.

The phrase “concentration camp” to describe the structure was completely absent. Searching for “Biden concentration camp” into news databases is more likely to generate stories about the plight of Uyghurs in Western China rather than domestic affairs. Perhaps the worst offender, however, was Fox News, whose headline informed readers: “Biden administration to open overflow shelter for migrant children in Texas” — a framing that invites the audience to see the move as a humanitarian gesture, along the lines of rape crisis shelters. None of the children who will be sent there will go of their own free will and it is doubtful whether many will appreciate the “shelter” that the U.S. government will provide them.

[..] Over much of the past three years, corporate media have been comparing the detention centers on the border to concentration camps, if not directly labeling them as such (e.g. CNN, Esquire, Washington Post). Data from Google Trends shows that phrases like “ICE concentration camp” were barely used until 2018, the term exploding into public consciousness a year later, especially after prominent Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez began using it. President Biden has promised to rein in many of the worst excesses of ICE policy, yet the organization’s role in society will not fundamentally change. Indeed, during the time he was vice-president (2009-2017), President Obama deported well over 2.5 million people through immigration orders, more than any other president in American history, earning him the moniker “Deporter-in-Chief” from critics.

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Iran, Russia, China. Axis of ….

Trump’s Maximum Pressure Campaign Lives On Under Biden’s Command (ZH)

Tehran is continuing to reinforce its positions and pursue its interests. This is prompted by the fact that US President Joe Biden’s vow to rejoin the Nuclear Deal turned out to be entirely hollow. Iran demanded that the sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration be removed, otherwise rejoining the deal meant nothing. On February 8th, Biden confirmed that sanctions on Iran wouldn’t be lifted, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying that such a “big policy change” wasn’t planned. To show some “reduction in pressure”, the USS Nimitz carrier strike group was pulled out of the region, in a signal that an escalation with Iran isn’t planned. That happened as Tehran, Moscow and Beijing announced they would hold joint naval drills.


In response, US Central Command’s Gen Kenneth McKenzie said that Iran was the “Main Driver of Instability”, in his first public address since Biden became president. McKenzie repeated a usual a US accusation against Tehran, claiming that for more than forty years it “has funded and aggressively supported terrorism and terrorist organizations.” The “maximum pressure” campaign is simply “on hold”, but is not canceled. [..] US and allied interests are being pressured all around the Middle East, as the Biden administration refuses to turn its back on any of Trump’s “maximum pressure” policies. The withdrawal of the USS Nimitz CSG is a likely a welcome sign, but the sanction regime remaining, surely, spoils the party.

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Politico keeps the threat of Trump alive.

Trump Plans A Reemergence And Some Retribution After Impeachment (Pol.)

Three weeks ago may have been the nadir of Donald Trump’s political influence. A meager crowd of supporters gathered to send him off to Florida, he’d lost access to Twitter and the Senate’s most powerful Republican, Mitch McConnell, seemed fully prepared to ghost him out of the party. Now, heading into what could have been an historic bipartisan rebuke, the former president and his team are confident both of his acquittal and that he’ll come out of the trial with his influence over the Republican party all but cemented. Not even Trump’s closest allies can believe the turn in fortunes. “He’s Teflon, right. It’s been a month since the Capitol riot and I would say, for the most part, the GOP has coalesced back behind him,” said a former Trump campaign official.

The confidence from Trump allies heading into the former president’s second impeachment trial — this time over the deadly riots by Trump supporters on Capitol Hill — may seem premature, given the lingering political and legal hurdles he still must confront. But it provides a road map of sorts for how they view his path ahead. Already, Trump aides contend, the impeachment process has proved beneficial to the ex-president — exposing disloyalty within the party’s ranks and igniting grassroots backlash against Republicans who have attempted to nudge the GOP base away from Trump. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse spent last week fending off constituent criticisms and censures from state party officials after he compared Trumpism to “a civic cancer for the nation.” And Trump’s allies believe the ex-president’s impending impeachment trial will further illuminate who the turncoats are.

“It’s going to help expose more bad apples that he can primary if any senators vote to convict,” added the former campaign official. While ensconced at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Trump has remained in touch with political allies and advisers. But he has intentionally kept a low profile, something that will likely continue this week. A former aide suggested Trump try to demonstrate his indifference to it all by spending much of impeachment playing golf, “as a way of sort of saying, ‘Who cares?’” Aides expect that to change once the trial wraps up though, with Trump gradually reemerging in public and turning his attention toward seeking revenge against Republicans who, he believes, crossed him after he left office.

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A knack for picking lawyers.

Trump Reportedly Shocked, Enraged By Bruce Castor’s Performance (F.)

Count former President Donald Trump among the many critics of attorney Bruce Castor’s widely panned performance on the first day of his Senate impeachment trial, with Trump reportedly outraged at his lawyer’s apparent inability to form a coherent argument, according to multiple reports. During Castor’s muddled, 50-minute speech, NBC News and the New York Times quoted an anonymous Trump source who said it was a “deliberative strategy” aimed at “lowering the temperature” after the impeachment managers’ emotional argument. But Trump had been prepared for his current impeachment team to be far less persuasive than the group of high-powered lawyers who defended him during his first impeachment trial, according to ABC News.


Still, Trump was “stunned to hear some of the arguments,” particularly Castor’s praise for his adversaries, according to ABC and the Times, which reported that “some in Trump’s orbit were unsure why Castor seemed caught off guard by video clips that were expected for days.” Trump was “deeply unhappy” with Castor’s performance and was “borderline screaming over what was going on as he was talking to people about this,” CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins said. Even Trump allies who voted to affirm Castors’ argument that the trial is unconstitutional lashed out publicly at his performance. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told reporters Castor “rambled on and on,” while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he was not “effective.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters, “I thought I knew where he was going, and I really didn’t know where he was going.”

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“The collapse of the newborn population is really here..”

Births In China Plummeted 15% In 2020 (ZH)

Preliminary numbers assessing China’s births in 2020 released by the country’s household registration system are setting off alarm bells for Beijing, suggesting a continued severe population decline, given the new numbers for last year show a whopping 15% decline in births from the year before. “Concerns over the outlook for China’s population have grown after the number of newborns recorded in the country’s household registration system declined 15 per cent during a coronavirus-hit 2020,” South China Morning Post observes of the new numbers. “Last year, a total 10.035 million of newborns were recorded in the household registration system, known as hukou in China, down from 11.79 million in 2019, according to figures released by the Ministry of Public Security on Monday.”

While the hukou system only reveals preliminary information on total births across the population, it’s official demographic stats for COVID-impacted 2020 is expected to come out soon via China’s National Bureau of Statistics based on a once in ten year national census it recently conducted. As SCMP underscores it’s predicted that when total official stats do come out, expectations are for a further decline after previously 2019 saw “the lowest level since 1961” and down from 2018 as well. China is the world’s most populous country with the number of people commonly estimated at just over 1.4 billion. When the current working-age population hits retirement, there are fears the decline in births trend will severely impact the world’s second largest economy.

This also given the latest official figures out of the National Bureau of Statistics show that some 18% of the population is already over 60, with this ageing demographic to grow to one-third of the entire population by 2050. The SCMP report cited one prominent research economics professor to say the writing is on the wall. “The collapse of the newborn population is really here,” he warned, writing that: “Although we cannot deduce the decline in the birth population in these regions as the annual decline in the country, we consider that idea of having two children is weak and the number of women of childbearing age has decreased, so we need not anticipate further that the birth population in 2020 will drop significantly compared with 2019. The collapse of the newborn population is really here,” said James Liang, a research professor of applied economics at the Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, in a blog post last week.

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And we all care?!

Mark Cuban’s Mavericks Won’t Play National Anthem Anymore (NYP)

Haven’t heard about any national anthem protests at Mavericks games? There’s a good reason for that: Dallas isn’t and won’t be playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” anymore. Mark Cuban told The Athletic it was his decision to eliminate the tradition of playing the anthem before games. The move went by unnoticed through the first 13 combined preseason and regular-season games at American Airlines Center because the Mavericks did not publicize it, either within the organization or through an announcement to media. Monday marked the first game in which the Mavericks allowed a limited number of fans into their arena.


Cuban has been vocal about his support of those who wish to kneel during the playing of the national anthem, the practice which former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began in 2016 and which became a lightning rod for partisan political debate. The outspoken Mavericks owner told ESPN last July of the potential for his team’s players to kneel during the anthem: “If they were taking a knee, and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them” and that he hoped he would “join them.” He later tweeted, in response to what he called “The National Anthem Police,” that if critics of the nonviolent protest of systemic racism in the United States took issue then they could “complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.”

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Depraved.

Biden Continues Push For Assange’s Extradition Ahead of US Appeal Deadline (RT)

The Joe Biden administration will continue to pursue extradition for Julian Assange, the Justice Department said, rebuffing calls from rights groups to reverse course ahead of an appeal deadline in the WikiLeaks co-founder’s case. DOJ spokesman Marc Raimondi said on Tuesday that Washington has not abandoned plans for Assange’s extradition from the UK, noting that Biden will still challenge a January ruling from a British judge barring extradition over concerns that Assange might take his own life in American custody. “We continue to seek his extradition,” Raimondi told Reuters, signaling that the new Biden administration will pick up where ex-president Donald Trump left off in seeking to charge the anti-secrecy activist for his publication of classified documents.


The statement from the DOJ comes mere days before a February 12 deadline for the US government to submit its “grounds for appeal” in Assange’s extradition case, in which American attorneys will argue against UK Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s ruling against the move. Calls on Washington to abandon the Assange case picked up momentum in the waning days of the Trump presidency, with activists and journalists across the political spectrum demanding he pardon the WikiLeaks publisher before his term was up. While Trump ultimately refused to grant clemency, much of the same pressure has carried over to the Biden administration, illustrated most recently in a letter from some two dozen civil liberties organizations condemning the indictments against Assange as a “grave threat to press freedom.”

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5% of humans in the blue, 5% in the red.

 

 

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Oct 122020
 


Fred Stein Nadinola 1944

 

WHO Backflips On Virus Stance By Condemning Lockdowns (News.com.au)
WHO Warns Against COVID19 Lockdowns Due To Economic Damage (NYP)
What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End? (Mercola)
Virus That Causes COVID19 Can Survive Up To 28 Days On Surfaces (AAP)
Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions (Gonsalves)
Fauci Says Trump Ad Uses His Words Out Of Context; Campaign Says Not (JTN)
Poll Gives Trump 3 Point Edge Over Biden In Florida (Fox35)
Gov. Whitmer: Michigan Votes Will Not ‘Have Artificial Deadlines’ (Hill)
SpaceX Promises Pentagon One-Hour Weapon Delivery Around The Globe (Fut.)
China’s Steel Problem: Recovery Risks Making Foes Of Trading Partners (SCMP)
New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues (Greenwald)
If My Family Can, So Can Yours (Michael Flynn, Jr.)
7 Predictions For How 2020 Comes To An End (Bobinski)

 

 

This tweet says it better than I can. And it doesn’t even yet mention the WHO. They and Fauci might as well leave.

RIP in 2020 to the credibility of:

 

 

Trump Bartiromo

 

 

We can safely close down this operation now. Contradicting yourselves in such major matters shreds your credibility and you’ll never get it back. Fauci should know all about that.

WHO Backflips On Virus Stance By Condemning Lockdowns (News.com.au)

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies. Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus. He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said. “We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Dr Nabarro’s main criticism of lockdowns involved the global impact, explaining how poorer economies that had been indirectly affected. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said. “Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

Melbourne’s lockdown has been hailed as one of the strictest and longest in the world. In Spain’s lockdown in March, people weren’t allowed to leave the house unless it was to walk their pet. In China, authorities welded doors shut to stop people from leaving their homes. The WHO thinks these steps were largely unnecessary. Instead, Dr Nabarro is advocating for a new approach to containing the virus. “And so, we really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other.”

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It feels like ages ago that I wroteLockdown 2.0 , but it’s only been 5 weeks.

WHO Warns Against COVID19 Lockdowns Due To Economic Damage (NYP)

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Nabarro said that there’s significant harm caused by tight restrictions, particularly on the global economy. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said. He added that lockdowns have severely impacted countries that rely on tourism. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” Nabarro told the outlet.


“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.” The UN agency previously warned countries against lifting lockdowns too soon during the first wave of the virus. “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” said Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But Tedros had urged countries to bolster other measures, including widespread testing and contact tracing, so they could safely reopen and avoid future lockdowns. “We need to reach a sustainable situation where we have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely, or lurching from lockdown to lockdown — which has a hugely detrimental impact on societies,” he said.

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Bit of a long quote. Joseph Mercola at LewRockwell.com first eviscerates all the vaccine efforts, then gives us a lesson in facemasks.

Note: even N95 masks don’t stop aerosols, but they do stop droplets, so they do have a function. Perfectly fitting them, as required in medical circles, is undoable, but we’re not looking for perfection.

What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End? (Mercola)

According to rotavirus vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit,1 people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing for “the next couple of years” even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. “People now see vaccines as a magic dust that’s about to be sprinkled over this country and make this all go away. It doesn’t work that way,” Offit told MarketWatch, September 21, 2020. Offit, who sits on the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, said he’s wary of a COVID-19 vaccine that may be rushed to market under pressure from the government. The U.S. Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed has pledged to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 2021, if not sooner. However, developing a safe and effective vaccine normally takes years and begins with animal studies.

The COVID-19 vaccines are all being rushed straight into human clinical tests, forgoing lengthy animal trials altogether. Vaccine makers are also being shielded against liability if people are harmed by the experimental vaccines. Early warning signs that something might be amiss have already started emerging. As detailed in “Gates Tries to Justify Side Effects of Fast-Tracked Vaccine,” results6 from Moderna’s Phase 1 human trial revealed 100% of volunteers in the high-dose group suffered systemic side effects. Side effects included fatigue, chills, headache and myalgia (muscle pain); 21% suffered “one or more severe events.” A May 26, 2020, article in STAT news told the harrowing story of Ian Haydon, a healthy 29-year-old participant in Moderna’s vaccine trial who suffered severe side effects requiring hospitalization.

While Haydon recovered from the side effects, which included a raging fever, fainting, nausea, muscle pain and generally feeling “as sick as he’d ever felt,” just imagine what such side effects might do to an elderly person, an infant, young child or someone who is metabolically compromised or has an underlying condition such as a heart problem. For them, the reactions could be far worse and possibly fatal. Disturbingly, in July 2020, it was reported that Moderna’s 100-mcg dose vaccine — despite its 100% side effect ratio after the second dose — would proceed to Phase 3 trial assessment.

Like the Moderna vaccine, the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine also appears to come with a shockingly high rate of side effects. Results from one of its Phase 1/2 studies published August 15, 2020, revealed a clear majority of participants experienced side effects, including fatigue, headache, muscle ache, malaise, chills and feeling feverish. September 6, 2020, AstraZeneca paused its Phase 3 vaccine trial due to a “suspected serious and unexpected adverse reaction” in a British participant. The company did not divulge the nature of the adverse reaction.

 

 

[..] Ohio coronavirus rules issued by Governor Mike DeWine require people to wear masks at outdoor events when 6-foot social distancing is not possible. Not wearing a mask in Ohio is considered a misdemeanor. Penalties for failure to comply can include up to 30 days in jail and a $750 fine. While DeWine said his intent isn’t to arrest people for noncompliance, he failed to veto a bill that would have reduced fines and banned jail time for noncompliance. The fundamental problem with assaulting18 and arresting people for not complying with mask rules is that there’s no evidence to support the idea that masks prevent the spread of the virus. In fact, the science tells us masks cannot block viruses.

SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter between 0.06 and 0.14 microns. Medical N95 masks — which are considered the most effective — can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns. Surgical masks, homemade masks, T-shirts and bandanas are even more porous. At best, a mask may reduce the transmission of large respiratory droplets, but it does nothing to prevent the transmission of aerosolized particulates exhaled by asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals with COVID-19. Health agencies’ own research show it’s a futile measure that only provides a false sense of security. For example, the WHO’s June 5, 2020, guidance memo on face mask use states “there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID- 19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

Similarly, a May 2020 policy review paper published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, concluded that “Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.” This is highly relevant, as the influenza virus is about twice the size of SARS-CoV-2. If masks cannot prevent transmission of influenza, they certainly cannot prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

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Better get some UV light in your home?!

Virus That Causes COVID19 Can Survive Up To 28 Days On Surfaces (AAP)

Australian scientists have found that the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive for up to 28 days on surfaces such as the glass on mobile phones, stainless steel, vinyl and paper banknotes. The national science agency, the CSIRO, said the research undertaken at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong also found that Sars-CoV-2 survived longer at lower temperatures. It said in a statement the virus survived longer on paper banknotes than on plastic banknotes and lasted longer on smooth surfaces rather than porous surfaces such as cotton. However, the experiment was done in a dark area which negates the effects of UV light. Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University, said this is known to reduce the life of the virus on surfaces.

“It is a factor, and that’s why the outside is probably again safer than inside because UV light is there and the virus can be inactivated on playgrounds and things in the sunshine,” he said. There is also significant uncertainty about exactly how large surfaces play into the transmission of the virus. “[The study] shows you that virus can persist … but if you ask me in the total scheme of things how important I think hands are compared to being close to people who are sick and getting it, I would say 90% of the problem and the transmission is related to being close to people who cough over you or sneeze over you or send you droplets. Probably around 10% of transmission is likely to be just hands and surfaces,” Collignon said. “But I still think it’s a good idea to wash your hands before you touch your face”.

The research, published in the Virology Journal, also found the virus lasted 10 days longer than influenza on some surfaces. Dr Larry Marshall, the chief executive of the CSIRO, said establishing how long the virus survived on surfaces enabled scientists to more accurately predict and prevent its spread, and so protect the community from infection. The deputy director of ACDP, Dr Debbie Eagles, said the results reinforced the need for good practices such as regular hand washing and cleaning surfaces. “At 20C, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens.” Similar experiments for Influenza A found it survived on surfaces for 17 days. Further experiments were carried out at 30C and 40C, with survival times for the Sars-CoV-2 virus decreasing as the temperature increased.

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Not many options remain.

Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions (Gonsalves)

The bulk of older Americans are integrated into our communities, living alone or with their spouses or their families. Even if we could make nursing homes into impenetrable fortresses impervious to viral entry, it’s not at all clear how we’d keep the millions of elderly “safe” as they live around, among, and with us. In fact, data from CDC suggests that we haven’t done a good job at all on this, and when virus cases surge in young people, the elderly are next in line for transmission. Another group of people to whom these three august academics give short shrift are the chronically ill in America. The CDC estimates that nearly half of all Americans (47.5 percent) have underlying conditions that predispose them to severe Covid-19 outcomes.

If it is a challenge to think of sequestering the elderly, what do we do with almost half of our fellow Americans who may be at similar enhanced risk of complications and death from Covid-19? Then there are the young. Kulldorff, Bhattacharya, and Gupta would have you believe that young people have little to fear from Covid-19, urging them to resume their normal lives. Yet if you look at hospitalizations for young adults with Covid-19 in a national study, 21 percent required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation, and 2.7 percent died. Many of these young people had chronic conditions, which enhanced their risk—and over half of the young people hospitalized in this cohort were Black or Latino.

The herd immunity strategy, whether you call it this or “focused protection” or “age-targeted,” has already been tried without success, notably in Kulldorff’s native country, Sweden, which with less strict measures in places—particularly among the young—ended up with more deaths than its neighbors and didn’t avoid the economic impact of the pandemic, either. Furthermore, Sweden’s robust welfare state and national health care system probably averted even more serious carnage from its approach. In the United States, with our safety net in tatters, and where we don’t have such protections in place, pursuing a herd immunity approach could spell disaster.

Read more …

It’s obvious that he finds this awkward, but he did say it. Fauci has contradicted himself a few times too many.

Fauci Says Trump Ad Uses His Words Out Of Context; Campaign Says Not (JTN)

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci in a statement said that his remarks included in a Trump campaign ad were pulled from their context. “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” he said in the statement after being asked if he had consented to be included in the political advertisement, according to CNN. “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”

In the ad, Fauci is shown saying these words: “I can’t imagine that…anybody could be doing more.” The outlet reported that Fauci’s comment was taken from a March Fox News interview. “I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. I’m connected by phone throughout the day and into the night—when I say night I’m talking 12, one, two in the morning—I’m not the only one, there’s a whole group of us that are doing that,” Fauci said in an interview with conservative host Mark Levin that CBS News said is the source of the clip. “It’s every single day. So I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.”


The Trump campaign is standing by its advertisement. “These are Dr. Fauci’s own words,” a spokesperson said in a statement, according to reports. “The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth. As Dr. Fauci recently testified in the Senate, President Trump took the virus seriously from the beginning, acted quickly, and saved lives.”

Read more …

“It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.”

Poll Gives Trump 3 Point Edge Over Biden In Florida (Fox35)

President Donald Trump is leading former Vice President Joe Biden in Florida, according to a poll conducted this week by InsiderAdvantage. Pollster Matt Towery Sr. said the data shows Trump leading Biden by three points among likely voters in the Sunshine State; however, a significant number of those polled remain undecided at 10%. When asked, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” results were as follows: Donald Trump: 46%. Joe Biden: 43%. Jo Jorgenson: 1%. Undecided/No Opinion: 10%. Towery predicted Trump’s 2016 victory on FOX affiliates, just days prior to the election, signaling that many polls were failing to accurately reflect support for the Republican candidate. He also showed Barack Obama winning key battleground states in 2008.


“Once again, based on poor data and or weighting, many of the polls we are seeing simply are not picking up the actual level of support for President Trump,” said Towery, founder of InsiderAdvantage. “What stands out in this poll is that Trump is actually picking up 12% of the African American vote in the Sunshine State.” The survey of 400 likely Florida voters, conducted on October 6-7, involved live calls and interactive voice response calls to both landlines and cell phones. It is weighted for age, race, gender, and political affiliation. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%. Towery said the data also suggests Trump has the advantage in those age 45 and up with nearly 63% of the white vote in Florida but trails Biden 62%-25% among Hispanic voters. “These results are still within the margin of error, so Florida remains up for grabs. But to paint it blue or red on any projected electoral map at this point would be pure folly” said Towery.

Read more …

What on earth are Artificial Deadlines?

Gov. Whitmer: Michigan Votes Will Not ‘Have Artificial Deadlines’ (Hill)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Sunday that the results of the state’s election will not be announced before “artificial deadlines” set by “people with political agendas.” The Michigan governor declined to tell CBS’s “Face The Nation” how long it will take for the state to determine the official results of this year’s election. “Michigan will be able to announce results, but we are not going to have artificial deadlines set by, you know, people with political agendas,” she said. “We’re gonna get this right.” “It will be soon after polls close,” she added. “I’m not gonna put a number on it, but we’re gonna get it right.” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) has said the battleground state that President Trump won in 2016 will not be able to report the election results on Nov. 3.


Election results are expected to be delayed this year as a record number of people complete mail-in ballots to avoid going to polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic. Whitmer also responded to a CBS poll that found half of Trump’s supporters think they should monitor voting places. “We are prepared to make sure this election goes smoothly,” she said. “We’re gonna keep people safe as they go to the polls, and we will not tolerate anyone who’s trying to interfere with someone’s ability to safely vote.” When asked about potential violence on Election Day, Whitmer said, “I’m not worried, but we are preparing to make sure we do everything we can to keep people safe.”

Read more …

Like Elon Musk? Here he is.

SpaceX Promises Pentagon One-Hour Weapon Delivery Around The Globe (Fut.)

SpaceX and the Pentagon just signed a contract to jointly develop a new rocket that can launch into space and deliver up to 80 tons of cargo and weaponry anywhere in the world — in just one hour. Tests on the rocket are expected to begin as early as next year, Business Insider reports. It’s expected to shuttle weapons around the world 15 times faster than existing aircraft, like the US C-17 Globemaster. “Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” General Stephen Lyons, head of US Transportation Command said at a Wednesday conference. The new contract is further evidence that SpaceX is leaning hard into military partnerships.


Earlier this week, the private space company won a contract with the military’s Space Development Agency to manufacture four missile-tracking satellites. Prior to that, the Army approached SpaceX about turning its constellation of Starlink broadband satellites into a new military navigation network, and Space Force officials let slip earlier this year that they were already working closely with SpaceX after awarding the company a contract in August, BI reports. The new weapon delivery system resembles a militarized version of something that SpaceX CEO proposed back in 2017, when he talked about passenger space travel. Back then, Musk proposed launching passengers into space and then quickly landing them back down closer to their destination. The new plan is highly similar, just with weapons rather than people.

Read more …

China’s steel problem is gross overproduction.

China’s Steel Problem: Recovery Risks Making Foes Of Trading Partners (SCMP)

As the Covid-19 pandemic damages so many economies around the world, killing jobs and shoving millions of families back into poverty, an uncomfortable and politically challenging possibility is beginning to emerge: certain economies will suffer more sharply than others, and China seems set to recover more quickly and suffer less pain. Managing the political anger this will generate will be one of the biggest diplomatic challenges China will face in 2021. Given Beijing’s blunt-instrument reputation in global diplomacy, this does not augur well. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the steel sector. Rapid recovery in production is already under way inside China – contrasted with deep contractions elsewhere in the world – and is set to escalate the rancour that has raged across the global steel market for decades.

Controversy over China’s surplus capacity and the global impact of exporting its surpluses has fuelled concern in the sector since the mid-1990s. This has made steel one of the most militantly protectionist of all sectors and the subject of more widespread tariff warfare than almost any other sector. China’s steel conundrum – similar to the challenges it faces in coal, cars and a wide range of other industrial products – is by default a world problem, given its size. It leaves its leaders with an awkward dilemma. Even a small mismatch between domestic supply and demand can result in huge ripple effects on global markets – impacts too large for anyone except China to manage.

China’s commitment to industrialisation and lifting material living standards for its huge population demands massive production of steel, with a perfectly reasonable desire to make as much of the steel as possible inside China. Its sheer scale makes it by far the world’s largest producer, accounting for about 53 per cent of the world’s 1.87 million tonnes of crude steel production in 2019. Its nearest competitors are India, accounting for 6 per cent, and Japan and the United States at around 5 per cent. Its locally made steel is mostly consumed inside China. It imports only a small portion of its consumption needs – mainly high-quality steel for its fast-growing automotive industry – and its market is comparatively self-contained.

With annual production close to 1 billion tonnes, though, it is easy to see how large a global impact China’s steelmakers can have with even a modest overshoot in production. Global overcapacity is estimated at around 500 million tonnes.
The implications of overcapacity on this scale come into focus when you recall that total US production is less than 90 million tonnes and Germany around 40 million.

Read more …

“.. for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”

New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues (Greenwald)

The New York Times Guild, the union of employees of the Paper of Record, tweeted a condemnation on Sunday of one of their own colleagues, op-ed columnist Bret Stephens. Their denunciation was marred by humiliating typos and even more so by creepy and authoritarian censorship demands and petulant appeals to management for enforcement of company “rules” against other journalists. To say that this is bizarre behavior from a union of journalists, of all people, is to woefully understate the case. What angered the union today was an op-ed by Stephens on Friday which voiced numerous criticisms of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning “1619 Project,” published last year by the New York Times Magazine and spearheaded by reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.

One of the Project’s principal arguments was expressed by a now-silently-deleted sentence that introduced it: “that the country’s true birth date” is not 1776, as has long been widely believed, but rather late 1619, when, the article claims, the first African slaves arrived on U.S. soil. Despite its Pulitzer, the “1619 Project” has become a hotly contested political and academic controversy, with the Trump administration seeking to block attempts to integrate its assertions into school curriculums, while numerous scholars of history accuse it of radically distorting historical fact, with some, such as Brown University’s Glenn Loury, calling on the Pulitzer Board to revoke its award. Scholars have also vocally criticized the Times for stealth edits of the article’s key claims long after publication, without even noting to readers that it made these substantive changes let alone explaining why it made them.

In sum, the still-raging political, historical, and journalistic debate over the 1619 Project has become a major controversy. In his Friday column, Stephens addressed the controversy by first noting the Project’s positive contributions and accomplishments, then reviewed in detail the critiques of historians and other scholars of its central claims, and then sided with its critics by arguing that “for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”

Read more …

From Michael Fynn’s son, who the FBI threatened to go after if Flynn sr. didn’t plead guilty to something he never did.

If My Family Can, So Can Yours (Michael Flynn, Jr.)

“I’ve done lots of work on this topic, so it bothers me. But Rich Lowry has it right: POTUS has to accept that people have already made up their minds about Russiagate, and most just don’t care about it like POTUS does …” -October 10, 2020 tweet by Andy McCarthy. That was it for me. I keep up with the goings-on within the political arena. When I saw this tweet and read the underlying article by Rich Lowry, my reaction was simple. Seriously? It’s amazing to see there are those who claim to be republican and/or conservative still NOT grasp or have zero feel for the pulse of President Donald Trump’s base.

Breaking: The #1 unanswered question since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency is “Why has no one been held accountable in “RussiaGate”? A close second is definitely “Why is there this double standard for people like General Flynn versus Former FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe?” These questions have been asked more than any other since 2017. There are a variety of reasons I make this statement but let me offer you the following: Since 2017, my family and I have received MILLIONS of messages through various communication platforms (handwritten letters, texts, direct messages, phone calls, emails, etc). I have personally analyzed and kept track of where these communications originated. Why? I wanted to gauge the geographical locations of the Americans who have reached out to my family expressing the sentiment described above.

Was it from just red states? Oh no. I can say with 100% certainty we’ve received droves of communications not just from every single state in America, but some from supporters around the world. The floor of my father’s basement in Rhode Island (for example) is currently occupied with boxes FULL of handwritten letters from these amazing patriots. And let me tell you, these letters display a common theme. People are SICK of the lack of accountability and sick of the seemingly ignored criminality in RussiaGate. My family and I have been irreparably harmed by the Obama-Biden administration and their soldiers of fraud. My father was framed and forced to plead guilty to something he did not do. The truth of the matter has been held hostage for nearly FOUR YEARS by the likes of current FBI Director Christopher Wray, and current CIA Director Gina Haspel who frankly, in my opinion, should’ve been fired already.

Read more …

Some OK stuff, but the more you call Dems “Marxists”, the less I’m iterested.

7 Predictions For How 2020 Comes To An End (Bobinski)

Prediction 1: Trump will win the election in a landslide. I know, the media is telling you the polls are tight, but just look around. Trump rallies are packed to the gills while Biden can’t fill the bleachers at a high school football field. Trump supporters hold huge boat parades while we see NONE for Biden. Trump supporters hold freeway caravans around that country that take up all lanes of a freeway, while an attempted caravan for Biden in Las Vegas drew only 30 people. Just like in 2016, pollsters today are making it look like it’s a close race. This is gaslighting – they’re telling you something that runs directly opposite of what your own eyes are telling you, but they’re expecting you to believe what they say.

Prediction 2: On the evening of November 3, Joe Biden will not concede the election, even though the vote will clearly be for Trump. Hillary Clinton has publicly stated that Joe should not concede, so the seed has been planted in our minds to expect this. And, because we’re expecting it, we won’t be shocked by it.

Prediction 3: Massive mail voter fraud will create confusion and Marxists (e.g. Democrats) will insist that “every vote counts.” They know Americans want to be fair so Marxists will play on that. They will cry and wail and plead that every vote needs to get counted, so they’ll ask for sympathy for voters who didn’t follow confusing new election rules about how to cast their mail-in ballots. That will be their story, but many votes will be fraudulent. As they’ve demonstrated on America’s streets, Marxists don’t care about following laws; they care about power.

Prediction 4: Because of massive mail fraud ballots showing up late, election results WILL be delayed. The deceptive Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and the clearly biased Jack Dorsey at Twitter have already announced they will flag any posts or tweets that claim a victory for Trump. They KNOW Trump will have more than enough votes to win, but as Zuckerberg already told us, we should expect results to take “DAYS OR EVEN WEEKS.” In other words, Facebook and Twitter are well-aware of the planned mail-in voter fraud, and they’re already providing cover for it. The planned vote count confusion will be dragged out as long as possible. The Marxists’ intention is to keep confusion swirling at least until December 14 in hopes that the electoral college won’t be able to identify a winner. Expect ballots to keep showing up out of nowhere.

Prediction 5: If Marxists cannot keep up the façade until December 14, some states will obfuscate the electoral process by choosing not to follow the rules laid out in the 12th Amendment. In fact, both may happen. Either way, by attempting to throw the electoral college into confusion, Marxists (again, the Democrats) will make a push for the electoral college to be eliminated. Believe me when I say you don’t want this. Students of the Constitution know that if the electoral college is eliminated, the Republic will be gone.

Prediction 6: Expect Nancy Pelosi to be acting all patriotic and concerned about the Constitution during the chaos, but rest assured, it’s a passive-aggressive act. She is among the Marxist vanguard in both houses of Congress orchestrating the whole mess. You will also see some Marxist-friendly governors making a lot of noise.

Prediction 7: While Marxists in Congress are messing with the electoral process, Marxists on the streets (Antifa and BLM) will intensify their violence by burning, looting, and murdering even more than what we’ve seen to this point. There’s already a movement that seeks to lay siege to the White House. Not only do the puppet masters want all the street chaos to distract our attention from what’s going on in the electoral process, the street Marxists see this election as their only chance to either grab power or put up with Trump for four more years. The protestors have been trained to instigate violence, and copy-cat wannabes will want to join in. Street Marxists will view these riots as the fight of their lives: it will get intense.

Read more …

 

 

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Gunnar Ekelöf (translation by W.H. Auden & Leif Sjöberg):

 

 

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Jul 232020
 


Constantin Brancusi Portrait of George 1911

 

 

Last week, Tyler at Zero Hedge ran an article from a site called Adventures in Capitalism, in which the writer (Kuppy?!) lets his light shine on the CIVD19 situation. He concludes that we’re all going to get it, it’s no use resisting, there will never be a vaccine and herd immunity is all we have left to hope for.

And I was thinking: what if he’s -largely- right? What if the utter lack of preparedness and the glaring incompetence we see displayed before our eyes all across the globe has made escape -almost- impossible? Surely at the very least we should prepare for that, too, even if it’s not the only thing we should prepare for.

Not that I’ve strayed much from my original viewpoints, that it’s very dumb to for instance have lengthy discussions about how efficient facemasks and lockdowns are, as long as they’re the only tools you have. But if nobody has a playbook for such things, including the WHO that gets paid millions for exactly that, you do run the risk of making your only tools obsolete.

It’s been a pretty wild year so far what with the spectacle of all the politicians bending like pretzels to avoid being caught unprepared. So many of them have solemnly declared that masks and testing don’t work, simply because they had no access to either. After decades of warnings that a new virus could pop up at any moment.

But you’re right, we now have to look ahead. So first I’ll give you a few “Kuppy” quotes with my comments on them, and we’ll take it from there. Oh, but first this on the morality of a policy aimed at herd immunity, from a BBC piece on the “achievements” of the British gov’t in the virus crisis. “Anthony Costello, professor at University College London and a former director at the WHO, tweeted”:

“Is it ethical to adopt a policy that threatens immediate casualties on the basis of an uncertain future benefit?”

And then we can turn to Kuppy:

You’re Probably Gonna Get It…

[..] had they stopped this thing in Wuhan, we would be right to use a containment approach to COVID-19. Instead, it’s everywhere and despite your personal opinions on the issue, it isn’t going away until most of us get it. There, I said it; you can hide in your basement, but you’re still probably going to get COVID-19. You can quarantine a whole nation; they’ll just get it next year. We are a global economy and this is now a global disease.


Whether you like it or not, the world is going for “herd immunity.” Unfortunately, there is no other viable option; there will be no vaccine, there will be no miracle cure and besides, the virus isn’t even all that dangerous if you are young and healthy. Simply put, COVID-19 won’t flame out until 50 to 80% of us get it (the precise number is open to debate).

I think a lot of people at this point in time would mostly agree with what he says there. But do they oversee the consequences?

Unlike smallpox or polio, there will never be a vaccine (there has never been a COVID vaccine for a variety of reasons)—therefore, as soon as quarantine ends, we’d all begin to spread it again, as there will always be infected humans. Countries that hermetically sealed their borders would not be immune either—they’ve simply deferred infection.

You can quarantine a village in Africa and stop a disease like Ebola that strikes fast and often kills the host. You cannot stop the spread of something that tens of millions of global citizens unknowingly have, while lying dormant for up to three weeks.

More things many would agree with. But will there really always be infected humans, and will they always spread the virus around the entire planet? Is that true? The virus needs new hosts all the time, and if you keep potential hosts sufficiently separated from each other, it can not spread.

We may have a global economy with global citizens, but we’ve seen plenty evidence that what has caused hospitality and travel to plummet has not been lockdowns, but people’s fear of getting infected. Is that irrational, and will you be able to convince them otherwise?

I think it should be obvious that you cannot stop COVID from spreading, at best, you can slow it down so that hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Instead, governments are passing draconian and arbitrary laws that do little to slow the spread, yet destroy businesses and communities.

Hmmm. How exactly would you slow it down without masks and lockdowns? Does it seem like a good idea to bring people together again in offices, elevators, planes, trains, restaurants and bars? Right now it doesn’t appear to make much difference, most people wouldn’t go anyway.

I read today that in the UK, almost half of workers -well, those that still have a job- work from home, whereas that number was 5% before virustime. And now the gov’t wants them all back in the workplace. Think they’ll go as long as the virus is out there?

Millions of jobs, and there come hospitality and travel again, are lost forever. People are afraid. And no, that has little to do with a media fear-porn campaign, though the media are as clueless as the politicians, and it’s a comforting thought to be able to blame them.

[..] putting your head in the sand and hoping COVID-19 goes away is foolish. It is time for everyone to accept the inevitable and figure out what that means for themselves and their countries. The current checker-board approach in the US where each state and even each county takes a different approach—is simply making a mess of things.

People can figure what things may mean without first accepting them as inevitable. Many are doing that right now. But yes, the US has been a mess and still is. It’s too large for a one-size-fits-all approach, especially if that has to be made up on the spot.

But the “leaders”, whether in politics, health care or elsewhere, have a fool-proof take on that: they blame each other. Still, the US debacle is something that has grown over years, decades, it hasn’t suddenly appeared, you just didn’t see it before. And it’s not only the US; the entire rich world has the exact same problem.

Here in Miami Beach; we have a 10pm curfew, we have fines and jail time for not wearing masks in public, bars are closed, restaurants can only have outdoor seating and the beach was closed last weekend. It is not clear what any of these measures actually accomplish if tens of thousands are marching around in protests without masks.

As an aside, the stupidest thing around must be people who wear facemasks outside, unless they’re in close proximity to others. Still, there are gov’ts that demand they do. Closing a beach falls in that same category. Unless people get close together. As for the protests, the most cynical remark I can muster is that at least the rioters cover their faces.

 

 

As I made my rounds at some of my favorite restaurants this week, owners finally broke down the brave façade; they confessed that they’re financially bleeding to death. Dozens of prominent restaurants have already shut their doors for good—some of these restaurants have been around for decades and survived multiple economic cycles. If the laws are consistent, you can manage your business—if the government changes the rules every few days to combat a bad cold, what are you supposed to do?

Darn, Kuppy, you were doing just fine, and now you have to bring up the dead “just a bad cold” idea? Read on. It’s not.

I think it is time for everyone globally to finally admit that COVID-19 is here, that we are powerless to stop its spread and that most of us are going to get it. The focus should be on protecting those who are elderly or compromised from a health standpoint. When you start from that framework, you can then think through the consequences and adapt policy appropriately.

We haven’t protected the elderly and health compromised during the lockdowns. What makes you think we will when things are supposed to “return to normal”? We locked up the elderly in the petri dishes we call carehomes, and we let kids and the poor stew in their own misery.

You think we’ve learned something from that? I think when outbreaks flare up again, as they do right now all over Europe, they’re going to isolate the old and the young again, and let the poor rot some more.

If you hope you can protect everyone from it, you’re going to postpone the inevitable, while destroying the economy. Once again, I don’t know what the right approach is, but I know that what’s being done today is asinine. It’s time for global leaders to wake up.

I’m pretty sure that’s what we call a false dichotomy. Lockdowns don’t destroy economies, the virus, and people’s fears of getting infected, plus seeing their loved ones be infected, does. Opening everything up is not going to change that for the better.

 

From there it’s just a small step for man and giant leap for mankind towards Kuppy’s only solution left: herd immunity. The idea has already been burned to the ground by numerous parties, but since it’s the only thing he has left, let’s humor him, shall we?

Here’s from a recent BBC piece on the topic, which seems sort of based on the notion that it’s all Britain has left as well. Interesting article though, I must say, they tried to make something out of the whole minestrone :

Did ‘Herd Immunity’ Change The Course Of The Outbreak?

“Herd immunity” is a concept describing the point at which a population has developed protection against a disease. There are two ways to do this. Vaccination is one route. But with any new virus it’s impossible to say how long it will take to develop a vaccine, if ever. The other way is for people to catch the disease and build up some form of immunity. If exposed to the virus again, it is assumed they have protection. If most people in a population are protected then the virus cannot spread.

But there are two problems. One is that with a new virus – like this particular coronavirus – it’s not always clear how much protection having had the disease, particularly a mild case, gives you or how long it lasts. And if most of the population catches the disease, many thousands might die. On 13 March, Sir Patrick stated that about 60% of the population would need to become infected for society to have “herd immunity” – effectively some 40 million people in the UK.

“Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term,” he told Sky News. These comments sparked an immediate backlash. Anthony Costello, professor of health and sustainable development at University College London and a former director of maternal and child health at the WHO, tweeted: “Is it ethical to adopt a policy that threatens immediate casualties on the basis of an uncertain future benefit?”

And from Britain we can go seamlessly to Sweden, perceived as the -internationally heralded- poster child of herd immunity policy, though they never officially endorsed it. A group of 25 Swedish doctors and scientists sounds the alarm on the entire approach, and even suggest it is a “secret goal”.

Sweden Hoped Herd Immunity Would Curb COVID19. Don’t Do What We Did. It’s Not Working.

The motives for the Swedish Public Health Agency’s light-touch approach are somewhat of a mystery. Some other countries that initially used this strategy swiftly abandoned it as the death toll began to increase, opting instead for delayed lockdowns. But Sweden has been faithful to its approach.

Why? Gaining herd immunity, where large numbers of the population (preferably younger) are infected and thereby develop immunity, has not been an official goal of the Swedish Public Health Agency. But it has said immunity in the population could help suppress the spread of the disease, and some agency statements suggest it is the secret goal.

Further evidence of this is that the agency insists on mandatory schooling for young children, the importance of testing has been played down for a long time, the agency refused to acknowledge the importance of asymptomatic spread of the virus (concerningly, it has encouraged those in households with COVID-19 infected individuals to go to work and school) and still refuses to recommend masks in public [..]

Several authorities, including the WHO, have condemned herd immunity as a strategy. “It can lead to a very brutal arithmetic that does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference in May.

Regardless of whether herd immunity is a goal or a side effect of the Swedish strategy, how has it worked out? Not so well, according to the agency’s own test results. The proportion of Swedes carrying antibodies is estimated to be under 10%, thus nowhere near herd immunity.


And yet, the Swedish death rate is unnerving. Sweden has a death toll greater than the United States: 556 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 425, as of July 20.

Sweden also has a death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined — more than seven times greater per million inhabitants. For a number of weeks, Sweden has been among the top in the world when it comes to current reported deaths per capita. And despite this, the strategy in essence remains the same.

7 months of pandemic without a lockdown, under 10% have antibodies, and the death toll is 7 times that of their neighbors. Something’s not working right?! But Kuppy said it was our only remaining option…

Then again, something that did pique my interest is this very recent development. I could see this concept becoming more potent than any vaccine, if only because as Kuppy rightly notes, there has never been a vaccine for any coronavirus.

New Antibody Mix Could Form ‘Very Potent’ COVID19 Treatment

Researchers have identified a potent cocktail of antibodies that may help doctors treat Covid-19 infections and protect people at risk from falling ill with the disease. The antibodies were collected from patients hospitalised with severe Covid-19, and they could be manufactured at scale by pharmaceutical firms and transfused into the blood to fight the virus or prevent it from taking hold. Scientists at Columbia University in New York screened antibodies from 40 Covid-19 patients and identified 61 types from five individuals that effectively wiped out coronavirus.

Among them were nine that displayed “exquisite potency” for neutralising the pathogen. Tests on cells showed that the antibodies killed off the virus, while experiments with hamsters revealed that an infusion of one of the more potent antibodies protected the animals from disease. “It shut off infectious virus completely in the lung tissue of the hamsters we treated,” said David Ho, a professor of medicine at Columbia who led the research.

[..] Professor Sachdev Sidhu at the University of Toronto also has plans to take neutralising antibodies into clinical trials later this year. “In my opinion, the more antibodies the better, as scaling up antibodies, although standard, still requires time,” he said. “Having multiple options will be good to ensure as many patients as possible can receive the therapies.”

He said every country that is capable of doing so “owes it to their population” to manufacture therapeutic antibodies, and that countries should work together to ensure they can be made available to as many patients as possible at affordable cost.

Then again, antibodies do not come without their own risk. There’s always the risk of a cytokine storm in some form or another. No exception in the case of SARS-CoV-2.

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU

Antibodies generated by the immune system to neutralise the novel coronavirus could cause severe harm or even kill the patient, according to a study by Dutch scientists. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a fork-shaped molecule produced by adaptive immune cells to intercept foreign invaders. Each type of IgG targets a specific type of pathogen.

The IgG for Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, fights off the virus by binding with the virus’ unique spike protein to reduce its chance of infecting human cells. They usually appear a week or two after the onset of illness, when the symptoms of most critically-ill patients suddenly get worse. A research team led by Professor Menno de Winther from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands said they might have found an important clue that may answer why the IgG appears only when patients are ill enough to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

The scientists found that the blood from Covid-19 patients struggling for their life on ventilators was highly inflammatory. They observed during a series of experiments that it could trigger an overreaction of the immune system, destroy crucial barriers in tissues and cause water and blood to spill over in the lungs.

It looks like it’s high time, in fact it’s long overdue, that we stop calling COVID19 a respiratory disease. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may enter the body through mouth and nose, but once it’s in, the lungs are merely the first organ it reaches. But it’s through the vascular system that it spreads all through the body.

What we see even in patients that have been declared “recovered”, and we see this time and again, is crippling fatigue, lung damage, heart damage, brain damage, nerve damage, multiple organ damage. And, as a recent report spelled out, blood clotting was found in every organ in the body, including veins, during autopsies.

Many “recovered” patients report symptoms, such as debilitating fatigue, that can last for at least months. We simply don’t know for how long, because it’s only been around for 7 months.

These are things to consider when you say we must surrender to the virus and let it run its course. Even if it doesn’t overwhelm a certain area’s health care system today, we may well be left with huge amounts of people who carry its scars, and need medical assistance, for the rest of their lives.

That appears to be the minimum price you’re going to pay for letting the virus run its course. Is that worth it? Well, not for the girl who’s unlucky enough to catch it, I tell you. For society as a whole then? What’s the price we’re willing to pay for keeping a bar open? I don’t have to answer that question, I only have to ask it. But we as societies do need to come up with an answer.

Is large scale infection inevitable, as Kuppy claims? If so, the consequences look dire. But yes, so do more lockdowns. Agreed. Totally. You tell me. What’s the price you’re willing to pay? A closed bar, a facemask in a store, or a friend’s body crippled for life? You tell me.

To wrap this up, a last study, this one conducted in 69 countries across six continents. I don’t think I’ve seen anything over the past 7 months that I find scarier than this. You see, heart surgery is a life saving procedure for many people, who would be gone without it.

So what happens to your health care system if you let half the population catch the virus, and half of those end up with heart damage in one form or another, to one degree or another? And that’s just the heart, that’s not lungs or brain or nerves or blood vessels.

 

“55 per cent of patients had an abnormality. One in seven patients were found to have severe abnormalities..”

More Than Half Of All COVID19 Patients Found To Have Damaged Hearts

An international survey of heart scans in people treated for COVID-19 found that 55 per cent of patients had an abnormality. One in seven patients were found to have severe abnormalities. The study adds further evidence to the emerging picture of COVID-19 as a disease of the vascular system in a significant number of cases, and not always primarily a respiratory disease.

It also suggests that a significant of COVID-19 patients will need to be monitored and assessed for permanent damage to the heart. And it raises questions about the extent to which COVID-19 is a disease you may not fully recover from. The research is from a team at the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, UK. They studied echocardiograms from 1216 patients, aged 52 to 71, 70 per cent of them male.

The patients came from 69 countries across six continents. They were all presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19 when the echocardiograms were taken (between April 3 and April 20, 2020). An echocardiogram uses ultrasound to show how your heart muscle and valves are working. About three-quarters of the patients (901 of them) had no pre-existing cardiac disease. But 46 per cent of their echocardiograms were abnormal, and 13 per cent were found with severe disease.

According to the study: Left and right ventricular abnormalities were reported in 479 (39 per cent) and 397 (33 per cent) patients, respectively. There was evidence of new myocardial infarction in 36 (three per cent), myocarditis in 35 (three per cent), and takotsubo cardiomyopathy in 19 (two per cent). Sixty percent of the scans were performed in an ICU unit or emergency room. About 54 percent of the patients had severe COVID-19. Abnormalities were often “unheralded or severe, and imaging changed management in one-third of patients.”

Study co-author Marc Dweck, consultant cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh, U.K., said in a statement: “COVID-19 is a complex, multi-system disease which can have profound effects on many parts of the body, including the heart. “Many doctors have been hesitant to order echocardiograms for patients with COVID-19 because it’s an added procedure which involves close contact with patients.

“Our work shows that these scans are important—they improved the treatment for a third of patients who received them.” Dr Dweck continued: “Damage to the heart is known to occur in severe flu, but we were surprised to see so many patients with damage to their heart with COVID-19, and so many patients with severe dysfunction.”

Really, you tell me. But don’t tell me only old people die of it. We’re way past that point. And don’t tell me younger people are not affected. That’s like 19th century wisdom. If you want to argue for herd immunity, by all means, but don’t just blurt out something. Let’s see what you got.

 

I’ve always, as noted before, disliked the wartime, military talk when it comes to this virus, the “we must beat this enemy because it’s out to get us”. This is not the -real- German nazis or the -imaginary- Russians of today. A virus is smaller than you can imagine and it’s not even alive according to science.

But staying with that war talk for a moment, are you sure you want to surrender to it regardless? Or do you want to go with: it’s not that bad, and it’s not that deadly, and those old folk would have died anyway? So open up the bars and everything will be just hunky dory! You sure? Surrender?!

 

 

 

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Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 182020
 


NPC Grand Palace shoe shining parlor, Washington DC 1921

 

Vitamin D New Hope In The War On Corona (DM)
Doctors Can Still Prescribe HCQ to Patients – US Health Secretary (N18)
New Zealand Reports Fresh Corona Case, More Quarantine Breaches Emerge (G.)
Beijing COVID19 Cluster May Have Begun A Month Earlier – Health Official (G.)
China Reports 28 New Coronavirus Cases In Mainland (R.)
Sweden Says Herd Immunity “Surprisingly Slow” To Develop (ZH)
Dr. Fauci, Health Officials Flag Coronavirus Risk Of Trump’s Tulsa Rally (CNBC)
Coronavirus Is Killing Our Economy Because It Was Already Sick (Levitz)
Massive Spying On Users Of Google’s Chrome Shows New Security Weakness (R.)
Arrest Of Former Japanese Minister Could Hasten PM Abe’s Departure (R.)
Sidney Powell Files Motion Against Gleeson: A ‘Wrap-Up Smear’ of Flynn (SAC)
Bolton Says Trump Asked China To Help Him Get Reelected (AP)

 

 

It was a long travel day yesterday, with an empty train and two almost deserted airports. Amsterdam Airport was running at maybe 20% of capacity, if that. Athens was empty in the evening.

But in between there was a full plane, with both the Dutch government and the airline bragging about the pathogen-killing capacities of the (Boeing 737, not MAX) plane’s air-circulation systems.

Once arrived in Athens, demands were much less stringent than announced in advance. There was no one night mandatory quarantine demand, it appeared to be a voluntary one. Write down your address (hotel) in Athens, and your phone #, get tested, we may or may not call you the next day, and off I was in a cab to the apartment I always stay in here.

It all seems a little risky, but the people at the airport also seemed a little overwhelmed, and they will soon have to deal with much larger crowds. We can only hope that it will work out alright.

I’m not sure I’m quite back yet (late in getting up, and lost an hour due to the timezone), but I did pick up a few stories.

Hoping the change of scenery, and meeting with my friends here, will do me good. 3 months of near total isolation is a lot.

 

 

I’m sure you didn’t miss that while I was missing, global daily new cases set a whole new whopper of a record. And it came as we were all hoping the trend was turning downward.

After all, June 15 was 124,600. But then June 16 was 142.557.

 

 

As global daily new deaths almost doubled from one day to the next (they came back down to 5,264 yesterday):

 

 

But that was largely due to a “correction” in India:

 

 

Forward to today, June 18. Worldometer reports new cases for June 17 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 141,872.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 26,073
• Brazil + 31,475
• Russia + 7,790
• India + 13,802

 

 

Cases 8,425,191 (+ 283,802 from June 16’s 8,141,389)

Deaths 451,808 (+ 12,103 from June 16’s 439,705)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing new here for Automatic Earth readers. Try get vit. D while you can, if you haven’t stored up yet. Get the tablets, not just the sun and fish. Especially if you’re not pale white.

Vitamin D New Hope In The War On Corona (DM)

Nearly 99 per cent of Covid-19 patients who are vitamin D deficient die, according to a terrifying study that adds to mounting evidence that the ‘sunshine’ nutrient could be a coronavirus life-saver. Scientists in Indonesia analysed hospital records of 780 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Results revealed 98.9 per cent of infected patients defined as vitamin D deficient — below 20ng/ml — died. Yet this fell to just 4.1 per cent for patients who had enough of the nuResearchers warned the study was not definitive, however, because the patients with high vitamin D levels were healthier and younger. It comes as health chiefs are urgently reviewing the use of vitamin D as a coronavirus lifesaver, with several studies suggesting that Covid-19 patients are far more likely to die if they have a deficiency.

One investigation – carried out by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge – found European countries with lower vitamin D levels have had significantly more pandemic casualties. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is conducting a ‘rapid evidence review’ of the issue – and publication is expected as early as next week. One in five British adults and one in six children is lacking in vitamin D, thanks to poor diets, indoor lifestyles and lack of sunshine. Experts fear that the lockdown and months of indoor living have cut levels even further. Some ethnic groups tend to be at higher risk because their skin is less able to make the vitamin in response to sunlight. And older people are also in danger because the body gets less efficient at producing the vitamin with age.

[..] Data in a Public Health England report showed that the mortality rate – the number of people dying with the coronavirus out of each 100,000 people – was considerably higher for black men than other group. The risk for black women, people of Asian ethnicity, and mixed race people was also higher than for white people of either sex. People with non-white skin are also at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency because it takes them longer to make it from sunlight [..]

Read more …

And this story keeps just going on. But Automatic Earth resident GP John Day can at least continue to do what he thinks is best.

Doctors Can Still Prescribe HCQ to Patients – US Health Secretary (N18)

Doctors can still prescribe anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to patients, US Health Secretary Alex Azar said, hours after the FDA withdrew the emergency use authorisation of chloroquine and HCQ in the treatment of COVID 19 patients. The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision came on Monday after it concluded that the anti-malarial drugs may not be effective to cure the virus infections and lead to greater risks than any potential benefits. “At this point, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine are just like any other approved drug in the United States. They may be used in hospital, they may be used in out-patient, they may be used at home, all subject to a doctor’s prescription,” Azar said.


“In fact, the FDA’s removal of the Emergency Use Authorization takes away what had been a significant misunderstanding by many that had made people think that somehow it could only be used in a hospital setting, and we’ve tried to make that clear throughout,” he said in response to a question. During a White House media appearance with President Donald Trump, Azar asserted that HCQ was approved in the United States. “If a doctor wishes to prescribe it, working with a patient, they may prescribe it for any purpose that they wish to do so. And, this (FDA’s decision) actually removes a potential barrier to them,” the health secretary said.

Read more …

It’s not easy being green.

New Zealand Reports Fresh Corona Case, More Quarantine Breaches Emerge (G.)

A fresh coronavirus case has been reported in New Zealand as officials scramble to contain the fallout from Tuesday’s embarrassing quarantine breach and reports emerge of people disappearing after leaving isolation early. Thursday’s case – the third to emerge this week after a 24-day streak of no cases – was a man in his 60s who arrived in Auckland from Pakistan on 13 June on Flight NZ124, transiting through Doha and Melbourne. Officials were contacting all passengers on the flight and have alerted overseas counterparts for the other flights, said Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health. The man was wearing a mask on all flights and was now in a quarantine facility in Auckland, Bloomfield said.

It came as police said six people absconded from managed isolation after being granted compassionate leave from Covid-19 quarantine to attend a funeral in Hamilton. And TVNZ reported that a birthday party for a girl in isolation brought people together who should not have been mingling. Bloomfield was forced to apologise on Thursday after initially claiming the sisters behind Tuesday’s new cases had not contacted anyone during their road trip from Wellington to Auckland. It was revealed late on Wednesday that they came into contact with at least two friends who helped them after they got lost on a motorway.

[..] On Tuesday, New Zealand recorded its first new cases of the virus for 24 days after the two New Zealanders, sisters returning after travelling to the UK, were found to be infected. The pair, who were permitted to leave their managed isolation early to visit a dying parent, had not been tested. Since then more reports have emerged. A Christchurch funeral director told Stuff that about 10 people had been let out of quarantine early to attend one of the funerals it had arranged on Tuesday. Steve Parkyn, chief executive of funeral directors Lamb and Hayward, said he refused to let them attend the service after being contacted by health authorities, but they joined mourners at the burial, accompanied by a health official. Around 200 people attended the funeral.

Read more …

I said on Tuesday that: “Given how fast it spread in the past 2-3 days, it’s obvious the disease had been present for a 1 or 2 weeks.”

Beijing COVID19 Cluster May Have Begun A Month Earlier – Health Official (G.)

Beijing’s cluster of new cases may have begun a month earlier than first thought, partly due to asymptomatic infections, according to the director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Amid tight restrictions to stop the spread of the capital’s cluster, which now numbers more than 150 cases, Gao Fu said the outbreak probably did not occur in early June or late May, but probably a month earlier, according to state media. Gao said the volume of asymptomatic cases detected in the outbreak may be partially responsible, but that further investigation was needed. “A lot of asymptomatic or mild cases were detected in this outbreak and that is why the environment has such amount of virus,” said Gao at a seminar in Shanghai on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Beijing reported 21 new cases of Covid-19, down slightly from the 31 reported on Wednesday. There were two additional cases in Hebei province that were also linked to the Beijing cluster. The city on Thursday ordered all hotels be shut down, as well as restaurants in high-risk areas. Officials said Beijing was not under lockdown but urged all residents not to travel or gather unnecessarily, and pledged to ensure continued food supply. “We are now at a critical time for the prevention and control of the epidemic,” an official said of the outbreak, which centred on a Xinfadi wholesale food market A further five residential compounds were designated at higher risk on Thursday, bringing the total number to 32, including one high risk and 31 medium risk.

More than 356,000 people have been tested in a five-day period, with entire neighbourhoods walled in or under entry monitoring. Schools have been closed flights cancelled, and travel in and out of the city restricted. On Wednesday the emergency response level was raised from level three to level two.

Read more …

They’ve allowed it to spread for a few weeks. I love the assertion that salmon imported from Europe was the culprit. I tried my smell test on that, and it failed spectacularly.

China Reports 28 New Coronavirus Cases In Mainland (R.)

China reported 28 new coronavirus cases in the mainland as of end-June 17, 21 of which were in the capital of Beijing, the country’s health commission said on Thursday. The National Health Commission said four of the 28 cases were so-called imported ones involving travellers from overseas, and that there were 8 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases. A day earlier, the commission reported 44 confirmed cases, 11 of which were imported, and 11 asymptomatic cases. The total number of confirmed cases stands at 83,293. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,634. China does not count asymptomatic patients – those who are infected with the coronavirus but have no symptoms – as confirmed coronavirus cases.

Read more …

1,200 new cases yesterday in Sweden, 100 new deaths. And the guy responsible remains popular. Propaganda works.

Sweden Says Herd Immunity “Surprisingly Slow” To Develop (ZH)

Despite allowing its economy and schools to remain open during the coronavirus outbreak, Sweden is finding that the incidence of COVID-19 antibodies among its population is still surprisingly uncommon, suggesting that the country hasn’t yet reached the point of “herd immunity”, unlike other European countries which embraced much more drastic measures to stop the spread and the deaths. Speaking to the nation during an interview on a Swedish radio station, Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s government epidemiologist and architect of its coronavirus containment strategy (a model that Goldman analysts claim wouldn’t work elsewhere in Europe or in the US), noted that the development of herd immunity is taking much longer than expected. Per Tegnell: “the trends in immunity have been surprisingly slow.” He also says “it’s difficult to explain why this is so.”

To be sure, Tegnell noted, there is “always a lag in all such measurements,” and the percentage of the population with detectable COVID antibodies is likely higher today than it was a few weeks ago, when a surveillance test carried out by a private Swedish company found that only 14% of Swedes have antibodies, compared to more than 50% of Italians in some of the hardest-hit parts of Northern Italy. Critics of Sweden’s strategy have been more vocal lately now that the country’s death toll has surpassed the 5,000 mark, leaving Sweden with a mortality rate well above its Nordic neighbors. As the country’s mortality rate has climbed in recent weeks, polls have reflected a growing dissatisfaction among Swedes with the government’s handling of the virus, though Tegnell’s approach remains broadly popular.

To be sure, Tegnell has acknowledged that some mistakes were made, and has said if he could do it over, he would have done some things differently, including directing more resources toward protecting the most vulnerable. But he never disavowed his approach, as some English-language media outlets have twisted his words. For those who don’t understand the concept of ‘herd immunity’, Bloomberg created a helpful illustration. Even readers who think they understand how it works should probably take a look.

Read more …

After the mass protests, this has zero value. I can only guess at the reason to do it indoors, but better control might be it, in view of the protests.

Dr. Fauci, Health Officials Flag Coronavirus Risk Of Trump’s Tulsa Rally (CNBC)

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci as well as other health officials are raising concerns that President Donald Trump’s upcoming campaign rally in Tulsa will become a hotbed for coronavirus infections. The rally, Trump’s first since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. over three months ago, is slated to take place Saturday in a 20,000-person indoor arena. Asked whether he would attend the rally, Fauci said in an interview published late Tuesday by the Daily Beast, “of course not,” adding that when it comes to mass gatherings, “outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd.”


Studies have shown that the virus spreads more easily in crowded, poorly ventilated, indoor spaces than it does outside. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb echoed Fauci’s concerns Wednesday in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “Personally, I wouldn’t attend a large gathering right now, especially one indoors. Certainly things held indoors are less safe than things held outdoors,” Gottlieb said. “But all these large gatherings are going to lead to spread. There’s just no question about it.”

Read more …

I guess it’s an OK piece.

Coronavirus Is Killing Our Economy Because It Was Already Sick (Levitz)

Channeling investment into genuinely productive projects gets harder once you’ve picked the low-hanging industrial fruit. And this challenge is all the greater in a context where the purchasing power of ordinary people has been systematically depressed: Simply put, when the vast majority of workers have little discretionary income, profitable business ideas are harder to find (businesses need paying customers, after all). Thus, at a certain point, wage suppression stops aiding growth and starts inhibiting it. In their (excellent) new book, Peking University economist Michael Pettis and Barron’s columnist Matthew Klein argue that China’s iteration of the invest-led development model has been obsolete for more than a decade.

Unwilling or incapable of enacting reforms that would increase wages — and thus, consumption — Beijing has sustained employment and GDP growth by financing useless capital investments. Instead of giving ordinary Chinese people the financial means to assert their material wants and needs — and then enabling investment to flow into enterprises that fulfill those mass desires — China is building housing developments in cities without people. In the U.S., the supply-side model has produced similar (if less egregious) imbalances. Before the coronavirus pandemic, record-high corporate profits coincided with aberrantly low business investment. As Republican Senator Marco Rubio lamented last year, America’s “nonfinancial corporate business sector routinely spends more on buying financial assets than on capital development.”

Many factors have contributed to this outcome. But the fact that America’s ultrarich have commandeered the bulk of the past four decades of income growth is surely one. [This] was a choice. With strong labor rights, high minimum wages, and more post-tax redistribution, the bottom 90 percent of U.S. households could have seen their incomes rise steadily over the past half-century. In that world, the typical American family would have less debt and more disposable income. And that mass purchasing power would allow the economy to support a wider array of businesses and services.= We opted for a different path. The U.S. slashed taxes on the wealthy, undermined unions, and left its social safety net remaining exceptionally threadbare.

As a result, America’s economic elites ended up with more income than they could spend or profitably invest in productive enterprises. So, they bid up the price of urban real estate, and bankrolled the development of socially useless financial innovation. Instead of directing the gains of growth toward better meeting the wants and needs of ordinary Americans, we built 1,000-foot towers full of perpetually empty luxury apartments that Russian criminals could use for money laundering.

Read more …

There should be huge penalties for things like this, but there never will be, because the CIA and its ilk find it far too valuable.

Massive Spying On Users Of Google’s Chrome Shows New Security Weakness (R.)

A newly discovered spyware effort attacked users through 32 million downloads of extensions to Google’s market-leading Chrome web browser, researchers at Awake Security told Reuters, highlighting the tech industry’s failure to protect browsers as they are used more for email, payroll and other sensitive functions. Alphabet Inc’s Google said it removed more than 70 of the malicious add-ons from its official Chrome Web Store after being alerted by the researchers last month. “When we are alerted of extensions in the Web Store that violate our policies, we take action and use those incidents as training material to improve our automated and manual analyses,” Google spokesman Scott Westover told Reuters.


Most of the free extensions purported to warn users about questionable websites or convert files from one format to another. Instead, they siphoned off browsing history and data that provided credentials for access to internal business tools. Based on the number of downloads, it was the most far-reaching malicious Chrome store campaign to date, according to Awake co-founder and chief scientist Gary Golomb. Google declined to discuss how the latest spyware compared with prior campaigns, the breadth of the damage, or why it did not detect and remove the bad extensions on its own despite past promises to supervise offerings more closely.

Read more …

“Abe cannot last,” said an LDP lawmaker who, like other politicians interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity. “He probably cannot last until the year-end.”

Arrest Of Former Japanese Minister Could Hasten PM Abe’s Departure (R.)

The arrest of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s former justice minister could be a devastating blow for the Japanese leader whose support is near record lows, raising the possibility of his departure before the end of his term next year. Some in Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are speaking of an early exit and rivals have stepped up manoeuvring to succeed him, party sources said. While Abe has rebounded from low ratings before, Japan’s longest-ruling prime minister now appears to be losing more internal support. Prosecutors on Thursday arrested former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai, a one-time foreign policy adviser close to Abe, and Kawai’s wife, Anri, on suspicion of vote-buying in a 2019 upper-house election.


Tokyo prosecutors said in a statement that the couple paid 1.7 million yen ($15,904) to five people to get her elected. Separately, Katsuyuki Kawai gave a total of about 24 million yen to about 90 people. At the time, Anri Kawai’s campaign received 150 million yen ($1.4 million) in funds from LDP headquarters. The size of the contribution, although not illegal, raised questions about whether Abe approved it. Abe has declined to comment on the Kawais, but has said lawmakers had the responsibility to explain their actions. “Abe cannot last,” said an LDP lawmaker who, like other politicians interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity. “He probably cannot last until the year-end.”

Read more …

Almost entirely out of view of the mainstream media, the Flynn story churns on. I predict it will explode in their faces.

Sidney Powell Files Motion Against Gleeson: A ‘Wrap-Up Smear’ of Flynn (SAC)

Sidney Powell, the defense attorney for Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, filed a scathing response in the court Wednesday against federal Judge John Gleeson’s amicus brief, which asked the court to reject the Justice Department’s request to drop all charges against Flynn. Powell’s motion is powerful and contains a lengthy time-line revealing the stunning evidence discovered by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as well as, the litany of new evidence uncovered by U.S. Attorney Jeffery Jensen, who was appointed by the Justice Department to conduct an independent review of Flynn’s case. Powell argues in her brief that the “irony and sheer duplicity” of Gleeson’s accusations “against the Justice Department now—which is finally exposing the truth—is stunning.”

Gleeson submitted his lengthy brief on July 10, on behalf of D.C. Federal Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who appointed him as the amicus and is refusing to drop the case against Flynn. He is doing all this despite the fact that both the Justice Department and defense agree the charges should be dropped against President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor. Powell also pointed out in her motion of opposition Wednesday that Gleeson’s amicus filing on behalf of Sullivan is a “wrap-up smear” against Flynn.

“It demonstrates the difference between a Department of Prosecutions and a Department of Justice,” Powell argues in her conclusion regarding Gleeson’s amicus. “It shows how the Department of Justice, as the government’s representative in every federal criminal case, has the power to walk into courtrooms and ask judges to remedy injustices. For these reasons and those stated in our other briefs, the only lawful action this court can take is to dismiss the case with prejudice on the Government’s motion and vacate the plea.”

Further Powell states in her motion, that Gleeson’s “Amicus elides the reality of the egregious government misconduct of the FBI Agents—particularly that of [former FBI Director James] Comey, {Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, [former Special Agent Peter] Strzok, [Former FBI Attorney Lisa] Page, [FBI Special Agent] Joe Pientka, [former FBI Assistant of Counterintelligence Bill] Priestap and others who met repeatedly to pursue the targeted “take-out” of General Flynn for their political reasons and those of the “entirety lame duck usic.” Much of this has been revealed in the December 19, 2019, IG Report, the 86 pages of newly produced exonerating material produced by U.S. Attorney Jensen, filed in the Government’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 198), and hundreds of the texts between Strzok and Page demonstrating abject bias.”

“Amicus is lost down the rabbit hole on the other side of the looking glass— where “nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would,” argues Powell. Last week, Powell argued before the U.S. District Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit against Sullivan’s decision to appoint Gleeson. She noted that the government submitted an extensive and thoroughly documented motion to dismiss this prosecution based on the discovery of “extraordinary exculpatory evidence that came to light from an independent review… It can not go on any longer.”

Read more …

Look, we know in advance how the MSM will spiel this. And those are all the same people who for years, as it fit their goals, presented Bolton to you as the most dangerous man in America. Now Bolton is your friend. Because he says something negative about Trump, and that’s something half the nation can’t get enough of. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it dumps Trump.

Still, to rehash the failed impeachment probe and state that Trump was impeached, well, maybe that’s another level.

As for the claim that Trump asked Xi to help him in elections, that doesn’t pass my personal smell test. It makes no sense at all. It likely only does for those who still believe Trump asked Putin the same, and choose to fully disregard Mueller’s report to get there. But sure, I know I will be accused-again- of being biased for saying this.

A “journalist” named Eli Lake tweeted: “According to Bolton, Trump privately told China’s tyrant that he should keep building concentration camps for Uighurs. That is an obscenity. He deserves to lose every state in November.” I’m sorry, but if you believe that, you need to get professional help as much as Bolton and Eli Lake do.

Bolton Says Trump Asked China To Help Him Get Reelected (AP)

President Donald Trump “pleaded” with China’s Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects, according to a scathing new book by former Trump adviser John Bolton that accuses the president of being driven by political calculations when making national security decisions. The White House worked furiously to block the book, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order Wednesday against its release. Bolton’s allegations that Trump solicited Chinese help for his reelection effort carried echoes of Trump’s attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment.

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton wrote. The 577-page book paints an unvarnished portrait of Trump and his administration, amounting to the most vivid, first-person account yet of how Trump conducts himself in office. Several other former officials have written books, but most have been flattering about the president. Other former officials have indicated they were saving their accounts of their time working for Trump until after he left office in order to speak more candidly. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Bolton’s book in advance of its release next week.

Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser for a 17-month period, called Trump’s attempt to shift the June 2019 conversation with Xi to the U.S. election a stunning move, and wrote that it was among innumerable conversations that he found concerning. He added that Congress should have expanded the scope of its impeachment inquiry to these other incidents. [..] Trump was asked about the book Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” He turned to personal insults, calling Bolton a “washed-up guy. I gave him a chance.” He also took issue with copies of the book being released. “He broke the law. Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken.” Trump said. “It’s highly classified information and he did not have approval.”

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May 102020
 


Andre Derain The port of Collioure 1905

 

Closing Borders Is The Most Effective Way Of Combatting Coronavirus (SN)
Accepting Death Is Not an Option (Kahn)
Early Herd Immunity: A Dangerous Misconception (Johns Hopkins)
US COVID19 Test Results: Third Consecutive Day Over 300K (CR)
Over 1 Out of Every 1000 People in NY and NJ Die From COVID19 (Mish)
Trump Says ‘No Rush’ On More Aid As Jobless Crisis Grows (AP)
South Korea Reports 34 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest In A Month (R.)
China Reports 14 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases, Most in 2 Weeks (R.)
China Asked WHO To Cover Up Coronavirus Outbreak: German Intelligence (TN)
Top German Politician Wants To ‘Urgently’ Reopen French Border (RT)
Corona Under Control: Bavaria Lets Residents Go Out & Businesses Reopen (RT)
German Towns Bring Back Lockdown After Infections Spike Within Days (DM)
Facebook Censors Iconic Photo With Soviet Flag Raised Over Reichstag (RT)
Swiss National Bank Battling Enormous Pressure On Safe-Haven Franc (R.)
Obama Says That ‘Rule Of Law Is At Risk’ In Michael Flynn Case (Y!)

 

 

• US adds 1,568 #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Total deaths 80,037

 

• Significant progress in slowing growth in India, today 3,115 with plateau for 5 days at about 3,000 cases after earlier rapid increase.

• Pakistan has rapid increase from 1,165 three days ago doubling to 2,301 today.

 

 

 

Cases 4,121,778 (+ 89,015 from yesterday’s 4,032,763)

Deaths 280,868 (+ 4,191 from yesterday’s 276,677)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

First point of Crushing the Curve. Re: New Zealand. As long as air travel is the no. 1 mode of transport, it’s relatively easy to do, and to prove as well. But too late now. Next up: testing.

Closing Borders Is The Most Effective Way Of Combatting Coronavirus (SN)

Scientists in Brazil have found that the countries most affected by the coronavirus spread are the ones who continued to allow unrestricted travel across their borders, prompting further arguments that the most effective method of preventing the spread is tighter frontier controls. The research, carried out by the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, suggests that screening and quarantining those coming into countries from outside could have been “a cheap solution for humanity”. The researchers based their analysis on records of 7,834 airports, using online flight databases documenting 67,600 transport routes in 65 countries.

The scientists factored in a number of forces, including climate, socioeconomic factors, as well economic and air transport, in an attempt to ascertain how the size of outbreaks was affected in 65 countries which had more than 100 cases. The overwhelming factor was found to be air travel, leading to a conclusion that it is “the main explanation for the growth rate of COVID-19.” The study notes that “The 2019 – 2020 world spread of COVID-19 highlights that improvements and testing of board control measures (i.e. screening associated with fast testing and quarantine of infected travellers) might be a cheap solution for humanity in comparison to health systems breakdowns and unprecedented global economic crises that the spread of infectious disease can cause.”

The data tallies with the fact that the US and the UK, which have the first and third highest air travel globally, have also suffered the most COVID-19 deaths with 74,600 and 30,615, respectively so far. The US did not close its airports until late March, while Britain’s borders have remained completely open with little to no testing or quarantining of incoming travellers happening at all. On the other hand, nations like Austria, Denmark and New Zealand closed their borders within days of their first confirmed cases, and have experienced much fewer deaths. Austria in particular has enacted tight border controls, refusing entry to anyone without a medical certificate confirming they had tested negative for the virus, and placing a mandatory 14 day quarantine on those who do not have them. The country has suffered just 68 deaths per million of its population, with only 606 overall.

Denmark closed its borders to all non-citizens in mid March, only excluding those with ‘credible purpose’ such as non-citizen Danish residents. The Scandinavian nation has recorded just 503 deaths. The UK, on the other hand has allowed some 18 million people to enter from outside the country with hardly any of them undergoing health screenings or being put into quarantine. Labour MP Stephen Doughty noted that “The fact that many of these people then likely arrived and travelled onwards across the UK with little or no adherence to social distancing, and with no checks or protections at the border is deeply disturbing.” The UK has seen 100,000 people arriving from foreign countries at UK airports every single week, all with virtually no health checks whatsoever.

Read more …

A good point. But you’re not making it better by blaming things on the “conservative movement”, or by dragging climate change into the topic.

Accepting Death Is Not an Option (Kahn)

The worst-case scenario with coronavirus is not mass death. It’s that people come to accept mass death—to accept that someone will die in the U.S. every 30 seconds as “just how it is.” Yet that is the proposition being thrust on us now. Yesterday, 2,746 people died of covid-19 in the U.S., the highest daily death toll recorded since the first confirmed deaths on American soil in February. That’s on the high end of leaked Trump administration forecasts for this time period and shows the 3,000 daily deaths come June in those forecasts might be wishful thinking. This is, in a word, horrific. But the Trump administration and its backers from conservative media to the small but vocal “reopen” movement are trying to convince people it’s not only normal but worth it.

They have turned the idea we should avoid the Bad Thing—namely, the needless deaths of thousands of Americans—on its head, arguing we should embrace it full-on and just plow forward with reopening the country. It’s a monstrous idea in the here and now, but it also sets up a dangerous precedent, priming people to accept policy failure—or, worse, reject legitimate policy solutions—on what remains the biggest issue facing humanity: climate change. Unless we demand more from our leaders and each other, we risk an even bigger catastrophe in our lifetimes. There is nothing acceptable about 3,000 people dying every day from coronavirus. What’s so nauseating about this is that we know what it looks like to contain the virus.

We’ve seen it in action. Countries as diverse as South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam have all successfully flattened the curve of death and suffering. The steps they broadly followed are proactive lockdowns and a slow reopening as the curve of infections flattened followed by contact tracing, mass testing, and ensuring frontline workers have ready access to personal protective equipment.

Read more …

Even if herd immunity were achievable, and this takes the fattest question mark you have ever seen, we don’t need it anymore than we need a vaccine. Which is good, because we have neither.

Early Herd Immunity: A Dangerous Misconception (Johns Hopkins)

We have listened with concern to voices erroneously suggesting that herd immunity may “soon slow the spread” of COVID-19. For example, Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that “herd immunity has occurred in California.” As infectious disease epidemiologists, we wish to state clearly that herd immunity against COVID-19 will not be achieved at a population level in 2020, barring a public health catastrophe. Although more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, studies suggest that (as of early April 2020) no more than 2-4% of any country’s population has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19). Even in hotspots like New York City that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, initial studies suggest that perhaps 15-21% of people have been exposed so far.

In getting to that level of exposure, more than 17,500 of the 8.4 million people in New York City (about 1 in every 500 New Yorkers) have died, with the overall death rate in the city suggesting deaths may be undercounted and mortality may be even higher. Some have entertained the idea of “controlled voluntary infection,” akin to the “chickenpox parties” of the 1980s. However, COVID-19 is 100 times more lethal than the chickenpox. For example, on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the mortality rate among those infected with SARS-CoV-2 was 1%. Someone who goes to a “coronavirus party” to get infected would not only be substantially increasing their own chance of dying in the next month, they would also be putting their families and friends at risk.

COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States, killing almost 2,000 Americans every day. Chickenpox never killed more than 150 Americans in a year. To reach herd immunity for COVID-19, likely 70% or more of the population would need to be immune. Without a vaccine, over 200 million Americans would have to get infected before we reach this threshold. Put another way, even if the current pace of the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States – with over 25,000 confirmed cases a day – it will be well into 2021 before we reach herd immunity. If current daily death rates continue, over half a million Americans would be dead from COVID-19 by that time.

As we discuss when and how to phase in re-opening, it is important to understand how vulnerable we remain. Increased testing will help us better understand the scope of infection, but it is clear this pandemic is still only beginning to unfold.

Read more …

Someone tries to claim that less than a million tests per day will be enough.

US COVID19 Test Results: Third Consecutive Day Over 300K (CR)

The US might be able to test 400,000 to 600,000 people per day sometime in May according to Dr. Fauci – and that might be enough for test and trace. However, the US might need more than 900,000 tests per day according to Dr. Jha of Harvard’s Global Health Institute. There were 300,842 test results reported over the last 24 hours. This data is from the COVID Tracking Project. The percent positive over the last 24 hours was 8.4% (red line). The US probably needs enough tests to push the percentage positive below 5%. (probably much lower based on testing in New Zealand).

Read more …

Singapore is not the greatest example. It had another 876 new cases yesterday.

Over 1 Out of Every 1000 People in NY and NJ Die From COVID19 (Mish)

New Jersey joined New York today in the dubious distinction of coronavirus deaths rates of over 1 in 1,000 people. As states start opening up here are some charts to consider. The chart is not population adjusted. I made the chart as a spot check to see if new deaths were generally in line with the lead chart. There are some new states, notably Texas and Florida, but they are not in the front of the pack, and the day-to-day totals are very noisy.

Three Obvious Standouts • Singapore • South Korea • Japan.


Singapore , South Korea, and Japan all did three things that the US did not do and many in the US still do not want to do.
1) Aggressive Early Testing
2) Cooperative Society on Social Distancing Rules
3) Contact Tracing
1: The US did not do aggressive early testing and it’s too late for that now.
2: The US was late in social distancing and some want to fight it
3: The US did not do contact tracing and may still view that as violation of personal privacy.

Too Late for Early Testing, But Not Overall Testing: Most do want aggressive testing, but despite Trump’s claims, the US is not where we need to be. However, the number of tests is finally ramping up. Coupled with spotty social distancing (compared to other countries) Is that enough? I don’t know, but we are about to find out.

Read more …

Guess the bankers are satisfied for a few weeks.

Trump Says ‘No Rush’ On More Aid As Jobless Crisis Grows (AP)

President Donald Trump says he’s in “no rush” to negotiate another financial rescue bill, even as the government reported that more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month due to economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus. The president’s low-key approach came Friday as the Labor Department reported the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and as Democrats prepared to unveil what Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer calls a “Rooseveltian-style” aid package to shore up the economy and address the health crisis. Some congressional conservatives, meanwhile, who set aside long-held opposition to deficits to pass more than $2 trillion in relief so far, have expressed reservations about another massive spending package.

“We’ve kind of paused as far as formal negotiations go,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council told reporters Friday. He said the administration wanted to let the last round of recovery funding kick in before committing to hundreds of billions or more in additional spending. “Let’s have a look at what the latest round produces, give it a month or so to evaluate that.” Kudlow added that talks were in a “lull” and that administration officials and legislators would “regroup” in the next several weeks. Still, White House aides are drawing up a wish-list for a future spending bill, including a payroll tax cut, liability protection for businesses that reopen and potentially billions in infrastructure spending.

Kudlow added that the White House was also considering allowing businesses to immediately expense the costs of modifiying their facilities to accommodate public safety measures necessary to reopen. The notion was brought up on a call with House members advising the White House on reopening plans Thursday evening and drew bipartisan support. “We’re in no rush, we’re in no rush,” Trump told reporters Friday during an event with House Republicans. He called on Democratic-controlled House to return to Washington, adding, “We want to see what they have.”

https://twitter.com/SamRo/status/1259268788165513219

Read more …

One guy “meets” 1,500 people in one day, infects 42.

South Korea Reports 34 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest In A Month (R.)

South Korea reported 34 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily number in a month, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs that a confirmed patient had visited. Of the new cases, 26 were domestically transmitted infections and eight were imported cases, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. Sunday’s total was the highest since April 9. After battling the first major epidemic outside China, South Korea posted zero or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days, with the daily tally hovering around 10 or less in recent weeks.


The resurgence followed a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centred around a handful of Seoul nightclubs, which a man in his late 20s had visited before testing positive for the virus. At least 15 people were traced to that man as of Friday, and 14 of the 26 cases were reported from Seoul on Sunday, although the KCDC did not specify how many were linked. The outbreak prompted Seoul city to impose an immediate temporary shutdown of all nightly entertainment facilities on Saturday. The city said it is tracking down abut 1,500 people who have gone to the clubs, and has asked anyone who was there last weekend to self-isolate for 14 days and be tested.

Read more …

Time for more lockdowns.

China Reports 14 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases, Most in 2 Weeks (R.)

China’s National Health Commission reported 14 new confirmed coronavirus cases on May 9, the highest number since April 28, including the first for more than a month in the city of Wuhan where the outbreak was first detected late last year. While China had officially designated all areas of the country as low-risk last Thursday, the new cases according to data published on Sunday represent a jump from the single case reported for the day before. The number was lifted by a cluster of 11 in Shulan city in northeastern Jilin province.


Jilin officials on Sunday raised the Shulan city risk level to high from medium, having hoisted it to medium the day before after one woman tested positive on May 7. The 11 new cases made public on Sunday are members of her family or people who came into contact with her or family members. The new Wuhan case, the first reported in the epicentre of China’s outbreak since April 3, was previously asymptomatic, according to the health commission. Aside from the Shulan cluster and the Wuhan case, the remaining two new confirmed cases were imported infections. It also said newly discovered asymptomatic cases were at 20, the highest since May 1 and up from 15 a day earlier.

Read more …

Is this why Tedros didn’t declare a pandemic for another 7 weeks after?

China Asked WHO To Cover Up Coronavirus Outbreak: German Intelligence (TN)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping asked World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to suppress news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the German intelligence agency BND found, according to a report by German magazine Der Spiegel. During a conversation on Jan. 21, Xi reportedly asked Tedros not to announce that the virus could be transmitted between humans and to delay any declaration of a coronavirus pandemic. It took until the end of January before the WHO declared that the coronavirus outbreak needed to receive international attention.


Because of China’s delay, the world wasted four to six weeks it could have used better to counter the virus from spreading, the BND concluded. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute also said that China failed to reveal all relevant information at the outset of the epidemic, leading it to turn to the BND for advice, according to a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted by CNA. In a response to the German media reports, Chinese diplomats said the opposite was true, arguing that the communist country’s handling of the virus saved time that was then wasted by other governments.

Read more …

Keeping the borders shut would risk “permanently damaging cross-border coexistence”. But exporting the virus from one country to the next would not?

Top German Politician Wants To ‘Urgently’ Reopen French Border (RT)

The head of Germany’s most populous state has called for the reopening of the country’s French border to be fast-tracked. The federal government earlier warned that such actions risk launching a new wave of Covid-19 infections. “We urgently need to open the border with France,” Armin Laschet, minister president of the country’s North Rhine-Westphalia state, which borders France, told German media. The lockdown there ends on May 11. That would be a good time to send a signal to our neighbors that we are striving for a common European response to the pandemic. Laschet suggested that the German government should also “talk to Austria in this sense.”


France is due to initiate its first phase of relaxing quarantine rules on Monday. However, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said earlier this week that the border will remain closed until at least June 15. The German government has been under pressure to lift restrictions on international travel early as some European countries begin to gradually ease their lockdowns. A group of German lawmakers and members of the European Parliament have called on Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to fast-track the reopening of the border crossings. The foreign minister of the small nation of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, has also written a letter to Seehofer, arguing that the shutdown of the border crossings is causing “growing discontent” among the population on both sides of the border and risks “permanently damaging cross-border coexistence” in the region.

Read more …

And how does one define “under control”? “.. the number of fresh cases has dropped by more than half across the region..”

Corona Under Control: Bavaria Lets Residents Go Out & Businesses Reopen (RT)

Despite warnings the Covid-19 crisis isn’t over, one of Germany’s wealthiest states is set to open up, allowing people to go out for any reason and letting almost all businesses – from retail to tourism – welcome visitors again. “Now it is time to act,” proclaimed Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Soeder as he rolled out“a path of reason” for the wealthy Alpine state. “In the beginning we had an explosive [rate of] infection,” Soeder admitted, adding though that “coronavirus is now under control.” Bavaria claims almost one-quarter – over 43,000 – of all confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany, but the number of fresh cases has dropped by more than half across the region, he said, explaining why relaxing the lockdown is an option. The current figures “allow for careful steps toward opening up,” provided that a “combination of caution and freedom” prevail.


Starting from May 6, Bavarians can visit anyone outside their own household. Seeing relatives in nursing homes will also become possible this weekend, although strict rules will remain in place, with visitors still having to wear masks at all times and meet their loved ones outdoors wherever possible. From May 11, zoos, botanical gardens, museums, libraries, galleries, exhibitions, and memorials will likewise open their doors – but only conditionally, meaning that their staff will have to accommodate social distancing and coronavirus hygiene measures. Supermarkets and stores with premises bigger than 800 square meters are also cleared to resume their activities. Locals will be able to more fully enjoy the outdoors in the second half of May when the state-wide ban on open-air dining is lifted. Bavaria, on a par with a handful of other German states, is also allowing hotels and leisure places to welcome visitors again, to much relief of its tourism industry.

Read more …

They’re risking the country falling apart. Just like the US does.

German Towns Bring Back Lockdown After Infections Spike Within Days (DM)

Local authorities in Germany are bringing back lockdown measures after coronavirus infections spiked just days after Angela Merkel started to ease them. Germany has 16 federal states, with the power to relax restrictions, who have all agreed to reimpose lockdown if new cases hit 50 per 100,000 people over seven days. The regional government in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populated state, recorded a spike in coronavirus cases after 150 of 1,200 employees tested positive at a slaughterhouse in Coesfeld. The regional government has postponed reopening restaurants, tourist spots, fitness studios and larger shops which was supposed to happen on May 11.

Reopening schools and daycare centres is set to go ahead as planned. North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann said the slaughterhouse infection rate had pushed the region above 50 per 100,000 people to 61 per 100,000 people. He closed the slaughterhouse temporarily and said employees at all of the state’s meat processing plants would be tested. A different slaughterhouse in the northern state Schleswig-Holstein also saw a rise in employees testing positive for the virus taking the district’s infection rate over the 50 per 100,000 people threshold. In the eastern state of Thuringia, the local government recorded more than 80 infections per 100,000 people over the past week.

The majority of these infections were among employees and residents in six care homes and one geriatrics hospital. Martina Schweinsburg, the chief administrator of Thuringia’s Greiz, said: ‘To be clear: We’re not going to put the entire district in quarantine just two small towns were particularly affected.’

Read more …

Note: the photo apparently wasn’t taken on May 2, but the day after during a re-enactment.

Facebook Censors Iconic Photo With Soviet Flag Raised Over Reichstag (RT)

Social media feeds are filled with historic shots marking Victory Day, but Facebook seems to have taken issue with one that symbolizes the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, and it keeps deleting a recently-colorized version of it. Taken during the Battle of Berlin on May 2, 1945, Yevgeny Khaldei’s ‘Raising a Flag over the Reichstag’ commonly springs to mind when it comes to the subject of World War II and Victory Day celebrations. It universally appears in literature, documentaries and, indeed, in social media posts. RT has even reenacted the iconic moment as part of its V-Day project.

All the more puzzled, then, were social media users who tried posting the iconic shot on Facebook on May 9, as Russia marked 75 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany. While the vintage black-and-white versions of the famous photo seemed to pass FB algorithms with flying colors, the version skilfully colorized by Olga Shirnina (aka Klimbim) –showing the Soviet flag in its original bright red– set off alarm bells. “Your post goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations,” was the message shown to several RT employees who’d set out to verify the reports and tried to post the picture. The warning appeared minutes after posts were completed, after which the image just vanished altogether.

Details provided in the warning only broadly outline the topics banned on FB, such as terrorism and incitement of hate and violence. There is no indication that FB has ever consistently associated the Soviet symbols with any on the list, although the network does have a history of erroneously censoring certain historic shots.


Yevgeny Khaldei – 75 years ago the Soviet banner was raised over the Reichstag. 11 million Soviet soldiers died in WW2 and three-quarters of German losses were suffered at the hands of the Red Army – May 2 1945

Read more …

Just link it to the euro.

Swiss National Bank Battling Enormous Pressure On Safe-Haven Franc (R.)

The Swiss National Bank has no alternative to its ultra-expansive monetary policy, with the coronavirus crisis heaping “enormous” appreciation pressure on the safe-haven Swiss franc, SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan said in newspaper interviews. The SNB was not happy about the negative interest rate of minus 0.75% it charges banks who park money with it overnight, Jordan told the SonntagsZeitung paper. It would lift the rates — the lowest in the world — as soon as circumstances allowed, he said, although this was currently impossible. “We unfortunately have no choice but to maintain the negative interest rate,” said Jordan. “Without it, we would be in a much more difficult situation now.

“The Swiss franc would be massively more attractive and the financing conditions for the Swiss economy would be much worse,” he added. “The negative interest is necessary at the moment to avert major damage to Switzerland.” The SNB was also stepping up foreign currency purchases to dampen the rise of the franc, Jordan said. Sight deposits at the central bank, a proxy for SNB interventions, have risen by nearly 77 billion Swiss francs ($79.33 billion) this year, while the franc has risen to its highest level against the euro since July 2015. “We have emphasized several times … we are active in the foreign exchange markets to reduce the pressure on the Swiss franc,” Jordan told the paper.

“We deliberately never report our transactions in detail, but I would like to emphasise that we are making a substantial commitment,” he said. All this was necessary to prevent the franc from strengthening, hurting Switzerland’s export-orientated economy and triggering deflation.

Read more …

It certainly is. But not in the way he means.

Obama Says That ‘Rule Of Law Is At Risk’ In Michael Flynn Case (Y!)

Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to ex-members of his administration, said Friday that the “rule of law is at risk” in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster.” “The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.” The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said.

“Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.” Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury. But the Justice Department, in a filing with a federal judge on Thursday, asked that the case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller be dismissed, arguing that FBI agents did not have a justifiable reason to question the then national security adviser about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak — talks FBI agents and Mueller’s prosecutors concluded he had lied about.

Read more …

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Apr 272020
 


Dorothea Lange On the road to Los Angeles, California 1937

 

Sweden’s Stay-Open Approach Is Creating Herd Immunity Quickly – Ambassador (JTN)
European Shares Rise On Airline Surge, Upbeat Earnings (R.)
Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, Pandemic Profiteers (IPS)
Over 100,000 Virus Deaths in 2020 If UK Lockdown Ends Early – Ferguson (St.)
UK Economy Will Take Three Years To Recover From Coronavirus – EY (G.)
One In Three UK Doctors Left Without Protective Gear (Ind.)
Italy To Reopen Factories In Staged End To Coronavirus Lockdown (R.)
Fauci Says US Coronavirus Testing Likely Will Double In The Coming Weeks (JTN)
US To Cap How Much Each Bank Can Lend Under Emergency Coronavirus Program (R.)
Not The End Of The Road For US Health Secretary Azar, Trump Says (JTN)
How the Unicorn Blowup & Oil Bust Bleed into CMBS (WS)
When Oil Became Waste (R.)
EU’s COVID Recovery Spending Should Be Guided By Green Finance Plan (R.)
Minks Test Positive For COVID19 At Two Dutch Farms (EN)
Israel’s Top Court Says Government Must Legislate COVID-19 Phone-Tracking (R.)
Assange: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition (Lauria)

 

 

We passed 3 million global cases.

 

• US records 1,330 #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins

• The US now has an overall death toll of 54,841, with 964,937 confirmed infections, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday)

 

• Sweden is the favorite of the anti-lockdown crowd, but contrary to what they claim, Sweden isn’t doing very well at all, so it’s a bit of a mystery why.

• Sweden is no. 8 (out of 200+) in the world in deaths per million people, in which it is 3 times worse than neighbors Denmark and 6 times worse than Norway and Finland. It’s even worse than the US.

• Deaths per million population (Worldometer):
Belgium 612
Spain 496
Italy 441
France 350
UK 305
Netherlands 261
Ireland 220
Sweden 217
Switzerland 186
US 167

 

 

NOTE: lowest number of global deaths for a long time.

Cases 3,008,196 (+ 73,557 from yesterday’s 2,934,639)

Deaths 207,361 (+ 3,678 from yesterday’s 203,683)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer – Among Closed Cases, Deaths have fallen to 19%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

As an aside: the ambassador claims that “About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity..” The only numbers of any antibodies I’ve seen on this globally were in the region of 5% or less. How then do the Swedes measure it?

Sweden’s Stay-Open Approach Is Creating Herd Immunity Quickly – Ambassador (JTN)

Sweden’s decision to keep schools, malls and restaurants open with limited restrictions during the pandemic is yielding success, with its capital city about to reach herd immunity in the next few weeks, according to the country’s ambassador to the United States. “About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity,” Ambassador Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter told NPR in an interview published Sunday. “We could reach herd immunity in the capital as early as next month.” Herd immunity means between 60% and 80% percent of a country’s population has become immune to a virus, either recovering from it or through immunization. Sweden banned gatherings of over 50 people but otherwise left schools, restaurants and malls open, provided citizens observe social distancing.


Facilities that don’t comply have been aggressively closed down. Sweden has reported more than 18,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,194 deaths as of Sunday. The country’s approach to the pandemic has bucked much of the Western world, and generated controversy. “We share the same goal as all other countries, and that is of course to save as many lives as possible and protect public health,” Olofsdotter explained to NPR. “So we face the same reality as everyone else. But what’s different, and I think it’s important to underline that all countries are different, is that politicians take the measures that they think works best for their country and their general public.”

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Airlines receive hand-outs, their shares surge. Why oh why should this proft go to shareholders, when it’s made possible only through taxpayer dollars?? The Airfrance/KLM CEO was set to get a huge bonus because he managed to get the state bailouts; only at the very last minute did a few parliamentarians prevent that from happening? Doesn’t anybody care anymore that we don’t have financial markets but pretend we do?

European Shares Rise On Airline Surge, Upbeat Earnings (R.)

European shares rose on Monday, as airline stocks soared on hopes of state support, while a slew of upbeat earnings added to optimism over signs many countries would soon ease tough lockdown measures. Shares of Lufthansa jumped 7.2%, with Berlin expected to decide on state support, while Air France KLM rose 5.2% after the government said it would give a 7-billion-euros ($7.6 billion) aid package. Positive quarterly reports also helped. German drugs and pesticides company Bayer gained 2.8% and Deutsche Bank jumped 7.7% after their first-quarter earnings topped market expectations.


The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 1.7% by 0720 GMT, following gains in Asian markets after the Bank of Japan pledged to buy unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low. The European benchmark ended with weekly losses on Friday, hit by the lack of details in a trillion-euro emergency fund agreed by the euro zone leaders. However, investors are pinning hopes on further stimulus expansion by the European Central Bank, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday. Shares in Adidas, however, fell 1.6% as it reported a 93% plunge in first-quarter profit, and warned of a deeper hit to second-quarter revenue as lockdowns forced it to close stores.

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From March 18 to April 10, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15%.

Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10% gain.

Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, Pandemic Profiteers (IPS)

Billionaires dominate our politics, culture, and economy. Their wealth, as this report shows, has concentrated mightily over the last four decades — even as the number of U.S. households with zero or negative net worth is increasing and most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s “pre-existing condition.” In this report, we show how billionaire wealth has grown astoundingly over the last few decades — and, for some “pandemic profiteers,” even more dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis — even as billionaire tax obligations have plummeted. If this inequality isn’t treated with both short and long-term tax reforms and oversight, America’s “pre-existing condition” of extreme inequality could overwhelm not only our economy, but our democracy itself.

• Between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the nation’s wealthiest 170 billionaires saw their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars. Eight have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.

• As of April 15, Jeff Bezos’s fortune had increased by an estimated $25 billion since January 1, 2020. This unprecedented wealth surge is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Honduras, $23.9 billion in 2018.

• Between March 18 and April 10, 2020, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15 percent. Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10 percent gain.

• Billionaire wealth rebounded quickly after the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2010 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth increased 80.6 percent, more than five times the median wealth increase for U.S. households.

• Between 1990 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth soared 1,130 percent — an increase more than 200 times greater than the 5.37 percent growth of U.S. median wealth.

• Measured as a percentage of their wealth, the tax obligations of America’s billionaires decreased 79 percent between 1980 and 2018.

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The UK is in no position to relax.

Over 100,000 Virus Deaths in 2020 If UK Lockdown Ends Early – Ferguson (St.)

The UK death toll could jump past 100,000 by the end of the year if lockdown is lifted too early, a top professor has warned. Imperial College epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson said if the healthy go back to work while the vulnerable remain in lockdown there will be a huge increase in virus fatalities. The expert said social isolation will need to be kept in place until a pharmaceutical intervention is found, whether that is a vaccine or treatment drugs, and one is unlikely within the next year. His warning comes as the British Government faces intense pressure to reveal its Covid-19 lockdown exit strategy .


Speaking to UnHerd, Prof Ferguson said he is sceptical that the UK can achieve a level of shielding that will be effective. “If you just achieve 80 per cent shielding – and 80 per cent reduction in infection risk in those groups – we still project that you would well over 100,000 deaths this year from that kind of strategy,” he said. The Government is under pressure from senior Tories to relax the strict social-distancing measures amid concern at the damage they are doing to the economy. Sir Keir Starmer has also called on the Prime Minister to produce a clear lockdown exit strategy.

https://twitter.com/ThePalpitations/status/1254529121134264322

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Modeling in finance is as bad as in epidemiology.

UK Economy Will Take Three Years To Recover From Coronavirus – EY (G.)

It will take the UK economy three years to fully recover from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading forecasting group. As the damage for jobs and growth unfolds, the EY Item Club said it would take until 2023 for the the economy to return to the level reached at the end of last year due to the depth of the crisis. One month on from the imposition of lockdown measures across Britain, effectively bringing large swathes of the economy to a halt, the group warned that almost half of all consumer spending in 2020 – the major engine of UK growth over recent decades – is at risk of either being delayed or lost completely.


The group of economists said GDP was set to collapse by 6.8% in 2020, before returning to positive growth of 4.5% in 2021 as businesses try to make up for lost time and consumers ramp up their spending again. The forecast is based on the assumption that some lockdown restrictions will start to be eased in May, with controls relaxed further in June. As such, the Item Club believes the economy should benefit later in the year from a degree of pent-up demand as people are allowed to travel again and return to the shops. Howard Archer, the chief economic adviser to the Item Club, said the report assumes that the government’s measures aimed at supporting businesses and saving jobs would have a significant positive impact. “[The support] is absolutely crucial to limiting the potential longer-term damage to the economy,” he said.

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After all the lockdown- and economic recovery talk, there’s still the real world.

One In Three UK Doctors Left Without Protective Gear (Ind.)

More doctors are being forced to treat coronavirus patients without protective equipment, it has been revealed, as Dominic Raab refused to say when shortages would finally end. A third of physicians working in high-risk settings have reported running short of long-sleeved gowns or full-face visors – a situation that has “worsened over the past three weeks”, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said. Of those working in other hospital areas, 40 per cent are not always equipped with eye protection, while 15.5 per cent are sometimes left without fluid-repellent face masks. They are faced with the “awful” choice “between protecting our own lives or protecting those of the patients we treat”, one physician said.


The grim survey results were disclosed as Mr Raab admitted the government has fallen short on protecting frontline NHS and care staff, more than a month after Boris Johnson insisted PPE would be provided. Asked when there would be “enough”, the stand-in prime minister said: “It’s very difficult to say that with precision and the kind of reliability that you want as a guarantee.” And asked to acknowledge that some medical and care staff had been let down, Mr Raab replied: “I think we’re not in the place on PPE that we’d want to be.”

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Can’t do anything that involves crowds. Not for a very long time. Forget about soccer games.

Italy To Reopen Factories In Staged End To Coronavirus Lockdown (R.)

Italy will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday. More than two months after the first case of COVID-19 appeared in a small town outside Milan and following weeks of lockdown, Italy is looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a new wave of infections. “We expect a very complex challenge,” Conte said as he outlined the road map to restarting activities put into hibernation since early March. “We will live with the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible.”

Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen fully from the beginning of June, although takeaway business will be possible earlier. “The reopening is allowed on condition that all companies involved strictly respect security protocols in the workplace,” Conte said, adding that the reopening would lay the ground for deeper reforms of the economy in the months ahead. In addition, parks will be allowed to reopen and limited family visits and funerals with no more than 15 people present will be permitted. But movement between regions remains suspended and people moving about will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reasons for their journeys.

Museums and libraries can reopen from May 18, when sports teams will also be able to resume group training, although Conte said conditions would have to be assessed before any decision on resuming the top-flight Serie A soccer championship. Schools will remain shut, however, until the start of the new academic year in September, leaving families facing childcare problems for months to come.

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Let’s make a deal: stop talking about relaxing lockdowns until you can test 1 million people per day. That would still mean it takes a year to test every American just once. Which is nowhere near enough.

Fauci Says US Coronavirus Testing Likely Will Double In The Coming Weeks (JTN)

The current amount of COVID-19 testing likely will double in the coming weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a National Academy of Sciences panel about the virus. “We’re doing about 1.5, 2 million per week,” said Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will. “Testing is an important part of what we’re doing, but is not the only part,” Fauci noted. “But no doubt it is important to be able to do the identification, isolation and contact tracing.”


Fauci, who has factored prominently in the daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House, said it is important to have “enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases.” As the nation moves toward reopening in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has issued Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, which include three phases.

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aka lend to the big boys until there’s nothing left.

US To Cap How Much Each Bank Can Lend Under Emergency Coronavirus Program (R.)

The U.S. government notified lenders on Sunday that it will cap how much each bank can lend under the emergency loan program designed to keep workers on payrolls amid the coronavirus pandemic, hours ahead of the reopening of the lending program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will impose a maximum dollar amount for individual lenders at 10% of Paycheck Protection Program funding, or $60 billion per lender, and pace the applications filed, according to SBA guidance on Sunday to lenders that have received a significant number of applications. The steps are “prudent and reasonable” due to the unprecedented demand for the loans, the memo said. U.S. banks were girding over the weekend for another frantic race to grab $310 billion in fresh small-business aid due to be released by the government.


The SBA was due to reopen PPP funding at 10:30 a.m. ET (1430 GMT) on Monday, allowing lenders to resume processing piles of backlogged applications from businesses hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. The SBA will also take applications in one bulk submission with a minimum of 15,000 loans, the SBA said in the memo. The PPP came under criticism after a number of publicly traded companies with thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales got loans, while smaller businesses did not. Nearly 5,000 lenders, including big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup as well as community banks, participated in the prior, $349-billion round of funding. No lender accounted for more than 5% of that total, the SBA said previously.

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US media need this kind of topic; they’d be completely lost without Trump.

Not The End Of The Road For US Health Secretary Azar, Trump Says (JTN)

President Trump emphatically denied Sunday that he is planning to fire Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar, calling reports of an impending dismissal “fake news.” Trump made the comments on Twitter, after multiple reports surfaced over the weekend that Azar’s job is in jeopardy, including in The Wall Street Journal. “Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be “fired” by me are Fake News,” Trump tweeted. “The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask.


He added for emphasis: “Alex is doing an excellent job!” White House spokesman Judd Deere also called the reports inaccurate. “The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the President’s priorities,” Deere said. “Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19.”

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CMBS = Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities. The Fed will bail them out.

How the Unicorn Blowup & Oil Bust Bleed into CMBS (WS)

The office segment of the commercial real estate market – and the debt and the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) that are backed by it – are going through serious gyrations on a combination of factors. Companies have figured out how to make work-from-home manageable. Other companies are moving out, leaving buildings vacant, or are deferring rent payments. Landlords whose cashflow from rents has suddenly crashed are failing to make their mortgage payments or are asking for forbearance. And CMBS are at the receiving end of the process.


That any return to the old normal for landlords, banks, and holders of CMBS is just a dream is now being increasingly accepted, including by Larry Fink, CEO of mega asset-manager BlackRock: “I don’t think any company’s going to go back to 100% of the workforce in the office,” he said at an online event. “That means less congestion in cities. It means, more importantly, less need for commercial real estate.” This new era of office real estate comes on top of the problems currently erupting: Tenants moving out for nicer digs, now that there are plenty available, or tenants laying off people and possibly shutting down. So here are two specific examples of how this is bleeding into CMBS.

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Given the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, plus the ubiquity of plastics made from oil, its overall effect has always been at least 90% waste.

When Oil Became Waste (R.)

The magnitude of how damaged the energy industry is came into full view on April 20 when the benchmark price of U.S. oil futures, which had never dropped below $10 a barrel in its nearly 40-year history, plunged to a previously unthinkable minus $38 a barrel. In just a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed so much fuel demand as billions of people curtail travel that it has done what financial crashes, recessions and wars had failed to ever do – leave the United States with so much oil there was nowhere to put it. While the unusual circumstance of negative oil prices may not be repeated, many in the industry say it is a harbinger for more bleak days ahead, and that years of overinvestment will not correct in a period of weeks or even months.


“What happened in the futures contract the other day indicated things are starting to get bad earlier than expected,” said Frederick Lawrence, vice president of economics and international affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “People are getting notices from pipeline companies that say they can’t take their crude anymore. That means you’re shutting down the well yesterday.” Evidence of the erosion of value for a product that has been a mainstay of global society since the late 19th century abounded across the world last week. In Russia, one of the world’s top producers, the industry is considering resorting to burning its oil to take it off the market, sources told Reuters.

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And who are the experts? Investors. Who only want “to go green” because it promises a big profit.

Green is turning into a swearword, but so many people are invested in it they fail to notice.

The Green New Deals will destroy our ability to save anything, not help it. They will be a huge pool of malinvestment and gobble up what we have left.

EU’s COVID Recovery Spending Should Be Guided By Green Finance Plan (R.)

Planned European Union rules requiring investments to be in line with climate policy should be used to guide economic recovery measures after the coronavirus pandemic, despite not yet being law, the bloc’s expert advisers said on Monday. With the bloc headed for a steep recession and its executive, the European Commission, drawing up a trillion-euro recovery plan, calls are growing from politicians, companies and campaigners to make sure the money does not prop up environmentally damaging industries. The Commission had planned to introduce rules on which investments can be called “green” from 2021, forcing providers of financial products to disclose which investments meet the criteria – known as the EU “sustainable finance taxonomy”.


However, the Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG), a 35-member panel of investors, business leaders and climate policy experts, said the rules – designed by the TEG, at the Commission’s request – should inform stimulus plans now. “The opportunity for a resilient, sustainable and fair economic recovery is right before us. We encourage all governments, public institutions and the private sector to use the right tools for the job,” it said in a statement. The TEG has also drawn up a green bond standard for the EU and a framework to assess whether financial instruments, contracts or investment funds conform with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “There’s going to be, potentially, a surge of public and private spending to reboot the economy,” said Nathan Fabian, chief responsible investment officer at the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment investor group and member of the TEG.

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“Authorities “assume that people infected animals”…

Minks Test Positive For COVID19 At Two Dutch Farms (EN)

Two Dutch mink farms have reported cases of COVID-19 among their animals, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture confirmed on Sunday. Minks at the two farms located within 15km of each other in southern Netherlands “showed various symptoms including respiratory problems,” the ministry said in a statement. Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals bred for their furs. An investigation has been launched to determine the source of the infections. Authorities “assume that people infected animals” as the two farms had employees with symptoms for COVID-19 and stressed that although “human to animal contamination is possible, the impact of this mink contamination on human health is currently negligible”.


To prevent the spread of the disease to other farms, both animals and manure are banned from leaving the infected farms. Samples are being collected from healthy and infected animals with authorities also collecting air and dust samples in the vicinity “as a precaution”. The ministry said public roads around the two frame have been closed and advised people not to walk or cycle within a 400-metre radius until the samples have been analysed.

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They didn’t even bother about legislation. Betcha that’s true for most countries.

Israel’s Top Court Says Government Must Legislate COVID-19 Phone-Tracking (R.)

Citing grave dangers to privacy, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that the government must bring its use of mobile phone tracking deployed in the battle against the new coronavirus under legislation. Circumventing parliament in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved emergency regulations that enabled the Shin Bet internal security service to tap into cellular data to retrace the movements of people infected by the virus. The technology, customarily used for anti-terrorism, has since yielded data used by the Health Ministry to locate and alert those who have been in their vicinity. The practice has been subjected to some parliamentary oversight following a subsequent court ruling.


Accepting petitions from Israeli rights groups, the Supreme Court said the government must begin legislation by April 30 and complete it within a few weeks if it wanted to continue tracking people’s phones in its bid to stop the virus spreading. “The state’s choice to use its preventative security service for monitoring those who wish it no harm, without their consent, raises great difficulties and a suitable alternative, compatible with the principles of privacy, must be found,” the court said. Citing freedom of the press, the court also ruled that monitoring of journalists confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus can only be done with their consent. If they refuse, members of the media could seek an injunction against the practice, in order to protect their sources.

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After this morning, proceedings have been adjourned until 4 May. Defense and prosecutors both want the May 18 hearing pushed forward to September at the earliest. Even highly partial judge Vanessa Baraitser says question of 18 May start date now “at best uncertain”.

The next period the court would be available for 3 weeks is from 2 November. She should order him freed on bail until then. No threat to his environment, no flight risk.

Assange: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition (Lauria)

The United States has had two sedition laws in its history. Both were repealed within three years. Britain repealed its 17th Century sedition law in 2009. Though this crime is no longer on the books, the crime of sedition is really what both governments are accusing Julian Assange of. The campaign of smears, the weakness of the case and the language of his indictment proves it. The imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher has been indicted on 17 counts of espionage under the 1917 U.S. Espionage Act on a technicality: the unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified material—something that has been performed by countless journalists and publishers over the decades. It conflicts head on with the First Amendment. But espionage isn’t really what the government is after. Assange did not pass state secrets to an enemy of the United States, as in a classic espionage case, but rather to the public, which the government might well consider the enemy. Assange revealed crimes and corruption by the state.

Punishing such legitimate criticism of government as sedition has deep roots in British and American history. Sedition was seen in the Elizabethan era as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority.” Punishment included beheading and dismemberment. “In their efforts to suppress political discussion or criticism of the government or the governors of Tudor England, the Privy Council and royal judges needed a new formulation of a criminal offence … This new crime they found in the offence of sedition, which was defined and punished by the Court of Star Chamber.… If the facts alleged were true, that only made the offence worse,” wrote historian Roger B. Manning. Sedition fell short of treason and did not need to provoke violence.

Though the Star Chamber was abolished in 1641, the British Sedition Act of 1661, a year after the Restoration, said, “…a seditious intention is an intention to bring into hatred or contempt, or to exite disaffection against the person of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, or the government and constitution of the United Kingdom.” Under President John Adams, the first U.S. Sedition Act in 1798 put it this way: “To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the United States, or to stir up sedition, or to excite unlawful combinations against the government, or to resist it, or to aid or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.”

While WikiLeaks publications have never been proven false, the U.S. government is certainly portraying its work as “scandalous and malicious writing against the United States” and has accused him of encouraging “hostile designs” against the country. Congress did not renew the Act in 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson pardoned those serving sentences for sedition and refunded their fines.


1918 protest in front of the White House against the Sedition Act.

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