Feb 062021

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo Allegory of the Planets and Continents 1752


New Covid Strains ‘May Even Escape The Immune Response’ – Biden Advisor (CNBC)
Domestic Violence Is a Pandemic Within the COVID-19 Pandemic (Time)
YouTube Censors Senate Testimony From Doctor On Possible Covid Drug (Turley)
Biden Revokes Terrorist Designation For Yemen’s Houthis (Fox)
Biden: Trump Should No Longer Receive Classified Intelligence Briefings (CNN)
Trump’s Decision Not To Testify Is Not Evidence Of His Guilt (Turley)
The Fire This Time (Kunstler)
Sanders Says He Never Intended To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 During Pandemic (JTN)
EU Parliament Snubs Anti-Corruption Researchers (EUO)
Ecuador Gov’t Scrambles to Privatize the Central Bank Before Elections (MPN)
Nevada Bill Would Allow Tech Companies To Create Governments (AP)
The WEF’s Simulation of a Coming “Cyber Pandemic” (Webb/Vedmore)





Not sure what to make of this. Is she just selling vaccines?

New Covid Strains ‘May Even Escape The Immune Response’ – Biden Advisor (CNBC)

A member of the Biden-Harris Transition Covid Advisory Board warned about the highly transmissible new Covid variants and vaccine resistance during a Thursday evening interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.” “They’re more virulent, can cause more death, and some of them may even escape the immune response, whether it’s natural or from the vaccine,” said Dr. Celine Gounder. “So it’s really important right now that we do everything possible to preserve the vaccines to make sure they keep working and that means preventing the spread of these new variants.” Three highly contagious mutations of Covid have been detected in at least 33 states across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers say these highly transmissible variants could prolong the pandemic and potentially create another surge. Projections out of the CDC even predict the U.K. variant to be the dominant variant in the U.S. by March. Gounder, an epidemiologist at NYU, told host Shepard Smith that she’s “concerned” that people will let their guards down in March and that it could potentially lead to another surge. “That’s a time when you might have some families taking spring break, so you would have the additive effect of, again, a holiday where people might be socializing, not taking all the safety measures, on top of this far more contagious variant,” warned Gounder.

Johnson & Johnson announced that it filed emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its coronavirus vaccine. Last week it released data showing it was about 66% effective in protecting against the virus. If J&J’s application is approved, it would be the third vaccine in the arsenal authorized for emergency use in the U.S. behind vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Unlike the other two shots, however, the J&J vaccine only requires one shot and requires basic refrigeration for storage.

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“The abuser says, ‘You can’t go out; you’re not going anywhere,’ and the government also is saying, ‘You have to stay in.’”

Domestic Violence Is a Pandemic Within the COVID-19 Pandemic (Time)

Growing evidence shows the pandemic has made intimate partner violence more common—and often more severe. “COVID doesn’t make an abuser,” says Jacky Mulveen, project manager of Women’s Empowerment and Recovery Educators (WE:ARE), an advocacy and support group in Birmingham, England. “But COVID exacerbates it. It gives them more tools, more chances to control you. The abuser says, ‘You can’t go out; you’re not going anywhere,’ and the government also is saying, ‘You have to stay in.’” That was Sheila’s experience. “The abuse was going to happen anyway,” she says. “Having the excuse of there’s nowhere to go, there’s nothing to do, didn’t help.”

Surveys around the world have shown domestic abuse spiking since January of 2020—jumping markedly year over year compared to the same period in 2019. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine and the United Nations group U.N. Women, when the pandemic began, incidents of domestic violence increased 300% in Hubei, China; 25% in Argentina, 30% in Cyprus, 33% in Singapore and 50% in Brazil. The U.K., where calls to domestic violence hotlines have soared since the pandemic hit, was particularly shaken in June by the death of Amy-Leanne Stringfellow, 26, a mother of one and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, allegedly at the hands of her 45-year-old boyfriend.

In the U.S., the situation is equally troubling, with police departments reporting increases in cities around the country: for example, 18% in San Antonio, 22% in Portland, Ore.; and 10% in New York City, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. One study in the journal Radiology reports that at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, radiology scans and superficial wounds consistent with domestic abuse from March 11 to May 3 of this year exceeded the totals for the same period in 2018 and 2019 combined. And as the pandemic has dragged on, so too has the abuse. Just as the disease continues to claim more lives, quarantine-linked domestic violence is claiming more victims—and not just women in heterosexual relationships. Intimate partner violence occurs in same-sex couples at rates equal to or even higher than the rates in opposite sex partners.

What’s more, the economic challenges of the pandemic have hit same-sex couples especially hard, with members of the LGBTQ community likelier to be employed in highly affected industries like education, restaurants, hospitals and retail, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. That means higher stress and, concomitantly, the higher risk that that stress will explode into violence. As with so many things, communities of color are affected more severely as well, with systemic inequities often meaning lower income and less access to social and private services. “While one in three white women report having experienced domestic violence [during the pandemic], the rates of abuse increased dramatically to about 50% and higher for those marginalized by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, and cognitive physical ability,” says Erika Sussman, executive director of the Center for Survivor Advocacy and Justice (CSAJ), a support and research organization.

Read more …

Turley noticed what happened right after I posted the Pierre Kory video -again- in last week’s Criminal COVID Negligence. A few hours later it was gone. I replaced it with a Kory video from Vimeo. Easy. Still, censoring Senate hearings should be out of the question for Big Tech.

YouTube Censors Senate Testimony From Doctor On Possible Covid Drug (Turley)

We have have been discussing how writers, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. The erosion of free speech has been radically accelerated by the Big Tech and social media companies, including YouTube. Now YouTube has censored actual testimony given to the United States Senate by Dr. Pierre Kory, who was testifying on different drug treatment. So now these companies are going to censor what was told to the government and decide what viewers will be allowed to consider from the public debate. It is a continuation of the movement to prevent people from hearing opposing views and to control what is shared or discussed in a growing attack on free speech.

YouTube removed two videos from a December 8th hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It featured Kory who discussed the use of Ivermectin as a potential treatment for Covid-19, particularly in the early stages. It is a drug that treats tropical diseases caused by parasites. Kory was calling for a review by National Institutes of Health on trials for the drug. Ultimately, it does appear that the NIH did change the status of the drug. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has said that the videos were blocked on his account, including Kory’s testimony. The Federalist maintained that YouTube removed the videos to the platform’s COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy. That policy stipulates that anything which goes against “local health authorities’ or the WHO medical information about COVID-19” will be removed.

I can hardly shed light on the merits of the medical debate but this is the censoring of an actual Senate hearing that is so disturbing. YouTube is preventing citizens from watching testimony on an issue of national importance. It is an example of the slippery slope of censorship and how such speech regulation becomes an insatiable appetite for many. [..] There is ample ability of people to challenge such testimony. However, many do not want to engage in a debate. They want to silence others and control what fellow citizens are allowed to consider. In the meantime, hosts on CNN are assuring people that they do not have to call such acts censorship but “harm reduction.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal recently calling for “robust content modification” on the Internet. Those voices of censorship are only growing stronger in the United States.

Indeed, in the wake of the Capitol riot, Democratic members and others are calling for a crackdown on free speech and punitive actions for those viewed as complicit with Trump. What is striking is how censorship, blacklists, and speech controls are being repackaged as righteous and virtuous. Indeed, the failure to sign such anti-free speech screeds is a precarious choice for many as writers and publishers call for blacklists. We are watching the most successful campaign against free speech in the history of the United States. It is being supported by many in the media and academia. If we allow companies like YouTube to succeed in such speech controls, true free speech could become a quaint historical relic in the United States.

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Sounds okay, but this whole thing started when he was VP. And he can still bomb the crap out of them.

Biden Revokes Terrorist Designation For Yemen’s Houthis (Fox)

President Joe Biden’s administration is moving to revoke the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, citing the need to mitigate one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. President Donald Trump’s administration had branded the Iranian-backed Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, a move that limited the provision of aid to the beleaguered Yemeni people, who have suffered under a yearslong civil war and famine. A senior State Department official confirmed the move Friday after members of Congress were notified of the administration’s plans. The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the removal changed nothing about the Biden administration’s views of the Houthis, who have targeted civilians and kidnapped Americans.

“Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the official said. The move comes a day after Biden announced an end to offensive support to Saudi Arabia’s campaign against the Houthis. The Obama administration in 2015 gave its approval to Saudi Arabia leading a cross-border air campaign targeting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who were seizing ever more territory, including Sanaa. The Houthis have launched multiple drone and missile strikes deep into Saudi Arabia. The U.S. says the Saudi-led campaign has entrenched Iran’s role in the conflict, on the side of the Houthis.

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Obama kept getting the intelligence briefings while he was colluding with intelligence against Trump.

Biden: Trump Should No Longer Receive Classified Intelligence Briefings (CNN)

President Joe Biden doesn’t believe former President Donald Trump should receive classified intelligence briefings, as is tradition for past presidents, citing Trump’s “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.” When asked in an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell if he thought Trump should receive an intelligence briefing if he requested one, Biden said, “I think not.” “I’d rather not speculate out loud,” Biden said when asked what he fears could happen if Trump continued to receive the briefings. “I just think that there is no need for him to have the — the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

Former presidents traditionally have been allowed to request and receive intelligence briefings. A senior administration official previously told CNN that Trump has not submitted any requests at this point. There are many ways intelligence can be presented, the official said, something the intelligence community would formulate should any request come in. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN on Thursday that “the intelligence community supports requests for intelligence briefings by former presidents and will review any incoming requests, as they always have.” Trump was not known to fully or regularly read the President’s Daily Brief, the highly classified summary of the nation’s secrets, when he was in office. He was instead orally briefed two or three times a week by his intelligence officials, CNN has reported.

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“As the Supreme Court declared in 1964, it is the embodiment of “many of our fundamental values and most noble aspirations.”

Trump’s Decision Not To Testify Is Not Evidence Of His Guilt (Turley)

[..] the statement of House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., this week was breathtaking. A former law professor, Raskin declared that the decision of Trump not to testify in the Senate could be cited or used by House managers as an inference of his guilt — a statement that contradicts not just our constitutional principles but centuries of legal writing. Presidents have historically not testified at impeachment trials. One reason is that, until now, only sitting presidents have been impeached and presidents balked at the prospect of being examined as head of the Executive Branch by the Legislative Branch. Moreover, it was likely viewed as undignified and frankly too risky. Indeed, most defense attorneys routinely discourage their clients from testifying in actual criminal cases because the risks outweigh any benefits.

Despite the historical precedent for presidents not testifying, Raskin made an extraordinary and chilling declaration on behalf of the House of Representatives. He wrote in a letter to Trump that “If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.” Raskin justified his position by noting that Trump “denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment.” Thus, he insisted Trump needed to testify or his silence is evidence of guilt. Under this theory, any response other than conceding the allegations would trigger this response and allow the House to use the silence of the accused as an inference of guilt. This is the nature of “the cruel trilemma of self-accusation, perjury or contempt.” Murphy v. Waterfront Commission, 378 U.S. 52, 55 (1964)

The statement was a conflict with one of the most precious and revered principles in American law that such a refusal to testify cannot be used against an accused party. The statement also highlighted the fact that the House has done nothing to lock in testimony of those who could shed light on Trump’s intent. After using a “snap impeachment,” the House let weeks pass without any effort to call any of the roughly dozen witnesses who could testify on Trump’s statements and conduct in the White House. Many of those witnesses have already given public interviews. Of course, the relative passivity of the House simply shows a lack of effort to actually win this case. The Raskin statement is far more disturbing. The Fifth Amendment embodies this touchstone of American law in declaring that “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” It was a rejection of the type of abuses associated with the infamous Star Chamber in Great Britain. As the Supreme Court declared in 1964, it is the embodiment of “many of our fundamental values and most noble aspirations.”

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“It sure won’t be like 1957 again, but it would give an awful lot of idle people more to do when they get up in the morning.”

The Fire This Time (Kunstler)

The economy won’t be fixed by policy because the things that have to happen to fix it will be resisted to the death by the parasitical entities feeding on what little remains. For instance, Walmart. Do you think it’s unhealthy that all the profit in American commerce is funneled into Bentonville, Arkansas? It used to be distributed in hundreds of thousands of small businesses in tens of thousands of US towns and cities. What do you think will die first: Walmart or the organism its feeding on? Since the dynamic at work is emergent and non-linear, other forces can come between these relationships and change things. We are already in conflict with China, the land that supplies most of the merchandise in Walmart.

The conflict right now is mostly playing out in the capture of US corporate and cultural enterprise, and in cyberwarfare, and it’s liable to hotten up around the continued sovereignty of Taiwan (America’s China). It’s difficult to assign intentions to another country but it appears that China’s China wishes to cancel the USA as the fading hegemon on the world stage, at least neutralize us, and perhaps dominate us. Mr. Trump is no longer in place to resist that, and the country might be forced to consider all those deals that our new president, “China Joe” enjoyed from the Biden family’s business ventures there over the years. Emergently, then, the Big Box business model could fail, and in fairly short order, which would at least give Americans a chance to self-reorganize the production and distribution of goods in our own country.

It sure won’t be like 1957 again, but it would give an awful lot of idle people more to do when they get up in the morning. Wait for it, and plan accordingly. In the meantime, we are treated to the sordid spectacle of Democratic Wokesters endeavoring to destroy what remains of American cultural life. It’s an incomparably stupid and malign distraction from the imperatives of this historical moment. They will not succeed in cancelling those who object to the systematic disassembly of our national language, myth, and meaning, even if we have to go back to the mimeograph machine to keep these things alive. They will not turn a republic into a psychopathic despotism. Politics, they say, is downstream from culture. Truth is the antidote to a culture of lies. The upcoming impeachment trial of former president Trump will be a showcase for that, and it may prove to be a hoax too far.

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Everyone just walks back what they’ve said like it never meant a thing.

“On Biden’s Inauguration Day, Sanders vowed to use budget reconciliation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour..”

Sanders Says He Never Intended To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 During Pandemic (JTN)

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders overnight Thursday helped nix Democrats’ effort to include a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, as part of their $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, despite having championed such an increase. However, Sanders made clear that he supported the GOP-backed amendment to keep an immediate wage hike out of the relief measure became he wants a gradual increase. “It was never my intention to increase the minimum wage to $15 immediately and during the pandemic,” Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said on the Senate floor late Thursday night. “My legislation gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a five-year period and that is what I believe we have got to do.”

The vote took place during a “vote-a-rama” session in which senators voted on amendments to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which fellow Democrats are seeking to pass through “budget reconciliation” without GOP votes. Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, proposed the amendment that would prohibit an increase of the federal minimum wage during the global COVID-19 pandemic. “A $15 federal minimum wage would be devastating for our hardest-hit small businesses at a time when they can least afford it,” she said. After Sanders spoke up, the measure to keep the hike out of the COVID relief package was then approved through a voice vote, helping avoid a partisan showdown on the issue.

However, Democrats and Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, are expected to reinsert the wage hike into the package as a gradual increase. On Biden’s Inauguration Day, Sanders vowed to use budget reconciliation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour if the GOP does not support the move.

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“The parliament did the same in 2014, when the NGO launched a similar probe. A letter sent by the parliament’s president at that time claimed itself to be “extremely transparent” and so saw no need to cooperate. It has now sent the very same letter to its most recent study.”

EU Parliament Snubs Anti-Corruption Researchers (EUO)

The European Parliament refused to cooperate with an EU institutional-wide study on integrity and ethics by Transparency International, one of the world’s most prestigious anti-corruption NGOs. “The European Parliament, despite its publicly-stated support for greater transparency was, in fact, the only institution that refused to cooperate,” said Michiel van Hulten, who heads Transparency International’s EU office in Brussels. The parliament did the same in 2014, when the NGO launched a similar probe. A letter sent by the parliament’s president at that time claimed itself to be “extremely transparent” and so saw no need to cooperate. It has now sent the very same letter to its most recent study.

“They unfortunately did not go through the trouble of writing a new letter,” noted the lead author of the reports, Transparency International’s Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm. He ascribed the parliament’s decision as an overall lack of accountability within its administrative leadership. This includes the ‘Bureau’, composed of the secretary general and the vice presidents. “Honestly we are not sure what ultimately the reason is,” he said, noting that the initial response had been positive. But the final study, also published on Thursday, noted almost zero penalties whenever an MEP breaks internal house conduct rules.

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Lenin Moreno is outta here.

Ecuador Gov’t Scrambles to Privatize the Central Bank Before Elections (MPN)

With just days until Ecuador’s February 7 presidential election and four months remaining on President Lenin Moreno’s mandate, the Ecuadorian government and right-wing elites are still scrambling to privatize the country’s central bank. The process involves fast-tracking an emergency law dubbed the Humanitarian Support Organic Law, which will “lockdown” the central bank, siphon it from the public sector, and place Ecuador’s financial sovereignty at the whims of private interests. According to right-wing figures and the country’s mainstream media apparatus that protects and serves its interest, the unconstitutional move is being touted as a necessity. Both parties have claimed that the measure would “safeguard” the country’s dollarization.

In 2000, the U.S. dollar was implemented as part of the country’s national monetary system during the neoliberal administration of Jamil Mahuad. Sixteen financial institutions were bailed out by his government at a whopping cost of $2.6 billion. Ecuador’s dollarization occurred just months after the infamous “bank holiday,” in which 70% of all banking institutions declared bankruptcy, hurling the Andean Republic into its worst economic crisis in a century. Millions of people lost their life savings during the chaos and the former national currency, the sucre, plummeted in value by 195%. A migrant crisis accompanied the economic downturn. More than 267,000 Ecuadorians fled the country during a two year period (1999 and 2000), eventually leading to a total of 2.2 million Ecuadorians migrating, a figure that at the time represented nearly 20% of the country’s population.

Even more lost their life savings. The middle class was obliterated and inequality worsened. The current claim that the country’s dollarization needs to be “safeguarded,” a claim repeated by the political and economic elites, local media, and the bulk-some of the 15 presidential hopefuls, is rooted in the work of the leading presidential candidate, Andrés Arauz. Since the end of Rafael Correa’s term in office, Arauz has been in charge of the Dollarization Observatory. This organization informs the public on economic matters, often focusing on the ways in which neoliberal interests threaten Ecuador’s economy. The myth claiming that Arauz wants to forcibly remove the dollar as the national currency comes from an article he wrote last April in which he gave examples of “good and bad” de-dollarization processes.

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Mussolini smiles.

Nevada Bill Would Allow Tech Companies To Create Governments (AP)

Planned legislation to establish new business areas in Nevada would allow technology companies to effectively form separate local governments. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a plan to launch so-called Innovation Zones in Nevada to jumpstart the state’s economy by attracting technology firms, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday. The zones would permit companies with large areas of land to form governments carrying the same authority as counties, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and courts and provide government services. The measure to further economic development with the “alternative form of local government” has not yet been introduced in the Legislature.

Sisolak pitched the concept in his State of the State address delivered Jan. 19. The plan would bring in new businesses at the forefront of “groundbreaking technologies” without the use of tax abatements or other publicly funded incentive packages that previously helped Nevada attract companies like Tesla Inc. Sisolak named Blockchains, LLC as a company that had committed to developing a “smart city” in an area east of Reno after the legislation has passed. The draft proposal said the traditional local government model is “inadequate alone” to provide the resources to make Nevada a leader in attracting and retaining businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and industries.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development would oversee applications for the zones, which would be limited to companies working in specific business areas including blockchain, autonomous technology, the Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, wireless, biometrics and renewable resource technology.

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“The forum’s current agenda and its past track record of hosting prophetic simulations demands that the exercise be scrutinized.”

The WEF’s Simulation of a Coming “Cyber Pandemic” (Webb/Vedmore)

On Wednesday, the World Economic Forum (WEF), along with Russia’s Sberbank and its cybersecurity subsidiary BI.ZONE announced that a new global cyberattack simulation would take place this coming July to instruct participants in “developing secure ecosystems” by simulating a supply-chain cyberattack similar to the recent SolarWinds hack that would “assess the cyber resilience” of the exercise’s participants. On the newly updated event website, the simulation, called Cyber Polygon 2021, ominously warns that, given the digitalization trends largely spurred by the COVID-19 crisis, “a single vulnerable link is enough to bring down the entire system, just like the domino effect,” adding that “a secure approach to digital development today will determine the future of humanity for decades to come.”

The exercise comes several months after the WEF, the “international organization for public-private cooperation” that counts the world’s richest elite among its members, formally announced its movement for a Great Reset, which would involve the coordinated transition to a Fourth Industrial Revolution global economy in which human workers become increasingly irrelevant. This revolution, including its biggest proponent, WEF founder Klaus Schwab, has previously presented a major problem for WEF members and member organizations in terms of what will happen to the masses of people left unemployed by the increasing automation and digitalization in the workplace.

New economic systems that are digitally based and either partnered with or run by central banks are a key part of the WEF’s Great Reset, and such systems would be part of the answer to controlling the masses of the recently unemployed. As others have noted, these digital monopolies, not just financial services, would allow those who control them to “turn off” a person’s money and access to services if that individual does not comply with certain laws, mandates and regulations. The WEF has been actively promoting and creating such systems and has most recently taken to calling its preferred model “stakeholder capitalism.” Though advertised as a more “inclusive” form of capitalism, stakeholder capitalism would essentially fuse the public and private sectors, creating a system much more like Mussolini’s corporatist style of fascism than anything else.

Yet, to usher in this new and radically different system, the current corrupt system must somehow collapse in its entirety, and its replacement must be successfully marketed to the masses as somehow better than its predecessor. When the world’s most powerful people, such as members of the WEF, desire to make radical changes, crises conveniently emerge—whether a war, a plague, or economic collapse—that enable a “reset” of the system, which is frequently accompanied by a massive upward transfer of wealth.

In recent decades, such events have often been preceded by simulations that come thick and fast before the very event they were meant to “prevent” takes place. Recent examples include the 2020 US election and COVID-19. One of these, Event 201, was cohosted by the World Economic Forum in October 2019 and simulated a novel coronavirus pandemic that spreads around the world and causes major disruptions to the global economy—just a few weeks before the first case of COVID-19 appeared. Cyber Polygon 2021 is merely the latest such simulation, cosponsored by the World Economic Forum. The forum’s current agenda and its past track record of hosting prophetic simulations demands that the exercise be scrutinized.

Read more …



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Sep 132020
 September 13, 2020  Posted by at 6:17 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »

Rembrandt van RIjn A Woman Standing with a Candle c.1631



To be honest, I didn’t think it would ever happen, even though it’s been so obvious for so long. But all of a sudden, the conservative voices questioning the Russia collusion narrative and all the investigations that followed from it, are finally figuring out that those behind that narrative and all that resulted from it, are the same people who have been chasing down Julian Assange for many years.

And that to get to the bottom of the hunt for Trump by the DNC, Clinton campaign, US intelligence and last but not least the media in their pockets, the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al, they will have to take a much closer look at what happened to Assange. If they don’t they will never understand. How do we know it’s starting to dawn on them? Look at this illustration at the Last Refuge site yesterday. More on them later.

Note: the mostly left wing Assange supporters would do good to consider the same thing: they in turn must look into the RussiaRussia Trump collusion stories, much as they may not like the president. Because those stories are why Assange has been chased down like so much roadkill. And because the right win of America is their best chance at getting him pardoned/released. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, to put it bluntly. Sometimes you need blunt.



As I’ve pointed out countless times, the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign -and presidency- may have come up glaringly empty, but the report they issued maintained that “13 Russians” and Julian Assange were responsible for hacking DNC emails. There is no proof of this, but since none of the “accused” can speak out, the report make the claim, and did.

Actually, a source connected to the “13 Russians” that was also named, the firm Concord Management, linked to Internet Research Agency, both owned by “Putin’s cook” Yevgeniy Prigozhin, one of the 13 Russians, did speak out and hired lawyers in the US. The case was quietly dropped when it became clear Mueller had nothing on them. The rest didn’t speak, and hired no defense, so that part of the report, nonsense as it may be, still stands.

Mueller et al could simply have met with Assange, he wasn’t going anywhere as they knew, but they didn’t, because A) the last thing they wanted was confirmation that “the Russians” did not provide any information to WikiLeaks, since that was what little was left of what the entire report was based on, and B) they wanted to make Assange look like an enemy of the US. Meeting with him would have blown both A) and B) out of the water, and he wouldn’t have been any use to them, or the DNC, or the FBI/CIA/DOJ. Assange was useful to them exactly because he could *not* speak.


The wake up call for the right must have been Tucker Carlson’s interview with Glenn Greenwald about Assange this week. Of which I said: “Bless Tucker Carlson for providing the platform. Bless Glenn Greenwald for his eloquent statement. Don’t miss this.” But still, as I also said: “Wonder why it took the right wing so long to wake up to how Julian Assange is linked to the whole machine. Did they really need Tucker Carlson for that?”

Greenwald said Trump could pardon Assange, and Snowden too, and there’s “widespread support across the political spectrum for doing both” (something I never heard anyone confirm, btw), and “the only people who would be angry would be Susan Rice, John Brennan, Jim Comey and James Clapper, because they’re the ones who both of them exposed”. Well, there’s your people. Those are the people who’ve been after both Trump and Assange since at least 2015.
Do both sides realize what they have in common now?



I don’t want to make this too long, and there’s more ground to cover. First, take a look at what Paul Craig Roberts had to say recently. He knows the territory. He worked extensively both as a journalist before that became a tainted term, and served under Ronald Reagan as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Like his views on economics or not, he knows a thing or two about DC. Here’s what he had to say 3 days ago, which ties right into the Assange/RussiaRussia/Mueller/CIA tall tale :

The United States & Its Constitution Have Two Months Left

To stop Kennedy they assassinated him. To stop Trump they concocted Russiagate, Impeachgate, and a variety of wild and unsubstantiated accusations. The presstitutes repeat the various accusations as if they are absolute proven truth. The presstitutes never investigated a single one of the false accusations. These efforts to remove Trump did not succeed. Having pulled off numerous color revolutions in which the US has overthrown foreign governments, the tactics are now being employed against Trump. The November presidential election will not be an election. It will be a color revolution.

[..] the CIA has controlled the prestige American media since 1950. The American media does not provide news. It provides the Deep State’s explanations of events. This ensures that real news does not interfere with the agenda. The German journalst, Udo Ulfkotte, wrote a book, Bought Journalism, in which he showed that the CIA also controls the European press. To be clear, there are two CIA organizations. One is an agency that monitors world events and endeavors to provide more or less accurate information to policymakers.

The other is a covert operations agency. This agency assassinates people, including an American president, and overthrows uncooperative governments. President Truman publicly stated after he was out of office that he made a serious mistake in permitting the covert operations branch of the CIA. He said that it was an unaccountable government in itself. President Eisenhower agreed and in his last address to the American people warned of the growing unaccountable power of the military/security complex. President Kennedy realized the threat and said he was going “to break the CIA into a thousand pieces,” but they killed him first.

It would be easy for the CIA to kill Trump, but the “lone assassin” has been used too many times to be believable. It is easier to overthrow Trump’s reelection with false accusations as the CIA controls the American and European media and has many Internet sites pretending to be dissident, a claim that fools insouciant Americans.

Indeed, it is the leftwing that the CIA owns. The rightwing goes along because they think it is patriotic to support the military/security complex. After the CIA overthrows Trump, they will use Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and their presstitutes to foment race war. Then the CIA will ride in on the Pale Horse, and the population will submit.

And yes, you are right, Julian Assange got in the way of that. Not because he hated Hillary Clinton, though he detested what she and Obama did to Libya, but because Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning provided him with material that bore witness to the crimes committed by the US intelligence “cabal”. In Snowden’s case, it was the NSA spying on -the- American people, in Manning’s it was war crimes executed overseas.

The way the “cabal” reacted to all that material -there was/is a lot- was to link Assange to a fictitious story about Russia meddling in US elections, a very convenient link because it tied into what they were already constructing to get rid of Trump.

Here is lawyer “sundance” at the Conservative Treehouse (aka The Last Refuge). The -recommended- article has a lot more info, not just on Assange, but also on the set-up of the “cabal”; he’s been digging for a long time. I know, it’s right wing media. But nobody else will cover this. And we want to get Assange released, don’t we?! So take a listen to how similar this is, written yesterday, to what I, and others, have been saying about the case for a long time.

Again, I have no idea why it took so long for people like “sundance” to catch up, but it’s people like him who may well be our best shot at keeping Assange alive. And people like Tucker, of course; you can bet Trump is watching him, and has seen the Greenwald interview by now.


What’s Behind The DOJ Aggression Toward Julian Assange

Nancy Pelosi previously labeled all Trump supporters as “enemies of the state.” Similarly we note the apparatus of the administrative state labels Julian Assange the same. There’s a good argument that the reason why Assange is considered such a threat to the U.S. is specifically because he could expose the lies of the administrative state.

As a consequence the U.S. intelligence apparatus has targeted the WikiLeaks founder and the Bill Barr DOJ is being extremely aggressive in their effort to get control of him. Tucker Carlson discussed this dynamic last night; albeit stopping short of the brutally honest part. To understand the risk Julian Assange represents to the administrative state, it is important to understand the extent of CIA, FBI and DOJ operations in 2016.

[..] On April 11th, 2019, the Julian Assange indictment was unsealed in the EDVA. From the indictment we discover it was under seal since March 6th, 2018. On Tuesday April 15th more investigative material was released. Again, note the dates: Grand Jury, *December of 2017* This means FBI investigation prior to…. The FBI investigation took place prior to December 2017, it was coordinated through the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) where Dana Boente was U.S. Attorney at the time.

The grand jury indictment was sealed from March of 2018 until after Mueller completed his investigation, April 2019. Why the delay? What was the DOJ waiting for? Here’s where it gets interesting…. The FBI submission to the Grand Jury in December of 2017 was four months after congressman Dana Rohrabacher talked to Julian Assange in August of 2017: “Assange told a U.S. congressman … he can prove the leaked Democratic Party documents … did not come from Russia.” [..]

Knowing how much effort the CIA and FBI put into the Russia collusion-conspiracy narrative, it would make sense for the FBI to take keen interest after this August 2017 meeting between Rohrabacher and Assange; and why the FBI would quickly gather specific evidence (related to Wikileaks and Bradley Manning) for a grand jury by December 2017. Within three months of the grand jury the DOJ generated an indictment and sealed it in March 2018.

The EDVA sat on the indictment while the Mueller probe was ongoing. As soon as the Mueller probe ended, on April 11th, 2019, a planned and coordinated effort between the U.K. and U.S. was executed; Julian Assange was forcibly arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London<, and the EDVA indictment was unsealed.

As a person who has researched this three year fiasco; including the ridiculously false 2016 Russian hacking/interference narrative: “17 intelligence agencies”, Joint Analysis Report (JAR) needed for Obama’s anti-Russia narrative in December ’16; and then a month later the ridiculously political Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) in January ’17; this timing against Assange is just too coincidental. It doesn’t take a deep researcher to see the aligned Deep State motive to control Julian Assange because the Mueller report was dependent on Russia cybercrimes, and that narrative is contingent on the Russia DNC hack story which Julian Assange disputes.

This is critical. The Weissmann/Mueller report contains claims that Russia hacked the DNC servers as the central element to the Russia interference narrative in the U.S. election. This claim is directly disputed by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, as outlined during the Dana Rohrabacher interview, and by Julian Assange on-the-record statements.

The predicate for Robert Mueller’s investigation was specifically due to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The fulcrum for this Russia interference claim is the intelligence community assessment; and the only factual evidence claimed within the ICA is that Russia hacked the DNC servers; a claim only made possible by relying on forensic computer analysis from Crowdstrike, a DNC contractor.

The CIA holds a massive conflict of self-interest in upholding the Russian hacking claim. The FBI holds a massive interest in maintaining that claim. All of those foreign countries whose intelligence apparatus participated with Brennan and Strzok also have a vested self-interest in maintaining that Russia hacking and interference narrative. Julian Assange is the only person with direct knowledge of how Wikileaks gained custody of the DNC emails; and Assange has claimed he has evidence it was not from a hack.

This Russian “hacking” claim is ultimately so important to the CIA, FBI, DOJ, ODNI and U.K intelligence apparatus…. Well, right there is the obvious motive to shut Assange down as soon intelligence officials knew the Mueller report was going to be public. Now, if we know this, and you know this; and everything is cited and factual… well, then certainly AG Bill Barr knows this.


That is a lot of information in one go, and not much of it is new, at least to me or to regular readers of the Automatic Earth. What is new is that the Conservative press are figuring out that if they want to defend Trump against the “cabal”, they need to look much more deeply into the role Julian Assange has played in the whole story, especially over the past few years.

And as I said above, it would be good if the “Free Assange” side would so something similar, reach out, because the Conservative press may well be the best ally there is for their cause. It’s not about how you feel about Trump, it’s about the “cabal” targeting Trump through Assange, and the other way around.

And in the end it’s real simple: Trump has the power to pardon Assange and set him free, him and Snowden. Would you rather *not* appeal to that power, and leave Julian to rot in Belmarsh and g-d knows where next, or do you think you now understand how the game has been played, and will be going forward? Your pick. But remember: it will take Trump overruling Bill Barr and the DOJ, and the right wing can’t do that alone.


One last thing, something I’ve also tried to explain umpteen times: Whenever you see someone claim that Assange plays to his personal political choices, or that he has something anything to do with the Kremlin, or that he lies about anything at all, please remember this: Julian Assange has always been acutely aware of the one weakness of WikiLeaks which is simultaneously its main strength:

That is, he cannot lie, he cannot align with a political side, he cannot align with any one country or ideology (I would almost write: ”he could not” instead of he cannot, but thank God Julian is alive, so I will not).

The reason for this is that people like Snowden and Manning and many others, who are in possession of highly sensitive evidence of government or intelligence malfeasance, must be sure the material will not be used for -party- political purposes, or to make a country look good, and first and foremost that it is not distorted or lied about in any way, shape or form.

Because if Julian Assange would ever do any such thing, the bond of trust would be broken, for every single potential future source and/or whistleblower, and for all time. He would never be able to repair that. It would be the end of WikiLeaks, right there. Julian would never have allowed that to happen to his brainchild; he would die first. And they all know it, the entire “cabal”; that’s why you read in the press what you do, that’s why the smear campaigns are there. None of which are even remotely true.

A last last thing: Julian Assange is so skilled at the digital side of things that no secret service in the entire world, no matter how many people they put on it, has ever come close to hacking or breaking into WikiLeaks. That should make us all feel safer, and that is why there are all these attempts to make us feel the opposite.




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Sep 022020
 September 2, 2020  Posted by at 7:09 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »

Caspar David Friedrich The Monk by the Sea c1809



“The Kremlin” poisoned their “fierce rival” Navalny with the infamous deadly agent novichok. That is the headline. Only, the German accusation in that direction doesn’t say novichok, its says a “cholinesterase inhibitor”, of which novichok is just one example, was used. The news outlets must be thinking that at least after the Skripal case, enough people will recognize the term, and let’s not confuse them.

The Germans claim they have “unequivocal proof” (eindeutiger Beweis) for this. While the Russian doctors who initially treated Navalny after he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Omsk (or was that the other way around?!) said he showed zero signs of poisoning. But yeah, they’re Russians, so they can’t be trusted, right? They all squander their Hippocratic oaths at the feet of the great malevolent dictator Trump Putin. You’re familiar with the parable about “all Cretans lie”?

“Merkel spokesman Seibert said the German government will inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the test results..” NATO? What do they have to do with anything? How does the alleged poisoning of a two-bit (2% in the polls) Russian “politician” link to NATO? Is Navalny himself linked to NATO? Where does NATO come in to the conversation? How much does the CIA pay Navalny anyway?


The thing, the problem, is that it makes no difference anymore even if this particular instance has a kernel of truth in it. Because there have been so many of them, and they’re all “based” on non-evidence, circumstantial “evidence”, stuff that you wouldn’t get a conviction on in any western court. For good reason.

In the Skripal case, a pair of vague Russians were presented in the UK media who supposedly had been in the area where the alleged poisoning took place, where the head of all UK nurses “just happened” to deliver first aid, but the story still never made sense. Now I read in a Dutch news outlet that the two Skripals were moved to New Zealand to start a new life, but the fact remains that no-one has heard from them since that alleged incident. Almost as if someone doesn’t want to provide any proof, just the narrative.

In the MH17 case, another RussiaRussia story, they threw all credibility out from the start by appointing main victim the Netherlands (2/3 of deaths) the main prosecutor, but even more by allowing one of the main potential perpetrators, Ukraine, not just a role in the investigation, but handing them a veto right over whatever info could be shared with the outside world. I think we call that lock stock and barrel.


It is of vital importance for two parties -which might as well be one- in the west to keep accusing Russia of all manner of issues, while knowing full well they will never answer (though, remember Concord Asset Management, Robert Mueller III?), which means you can say whatever you want. It’s a free for all. The two parties are intelligence and NATO.

Western nations, and that means all of them, all the self-congratulating “democracies”, are being blackmailed by their own -secret- intelligence services, which most often pose as “national security services”, and they find they have no way out. In most countries, the best before date of a politician, even the political system itself, is way shorter than that of an intelligence agency’s agenda. The only thing a newly elected politician can do is accept a secret service’s word at face value, and define policy accordingly.

Be it domestic, bi-lateral vs particular countries, or global. The policies have already been defined years ago, and they have been defined by unelected “spooks”, not elected representatives of the people. This is incredibly (and I don’t use that word lightly) damaging to all of our societies, and we need to call a halt to it. But how do you do that? When they are the ones making policy, and not the people we vote into office to do that for us? It’s certainly not an easy task, but we can’t let them continue either. That would only mean assured destruction, economic depression and, ultimately, war.


That’s how and why we get the Navalny and Skripal stories. This goes back to at least WWII. US intelligence and the Wolfowitz/Brzezinski/Leo Strauss/Kissinger neocon cabal have severely compromised US national security for decades, only to funnel trillions towards US arms manufacturers, who today produce second rate weapons to boot. It is high time to stop this. Security is much better served by dialogue. Or should I say ”arguably?”

What the Navalny story, lacking evidence as much as so many other narratives, should tell us is that we are sort of hostages to a Ghost of Christmas past. We are being blackmailed as we speak by secret agents in cohort with the very military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, because they all need to keep a long lost dream alive in order to still appear relevant and chuck trillions out of our pockets.

It’s a scam, it’s blackmail. Russia is not about to attack you. They may have much better weaponry by now than we do (they do, check hypersonic), but they still won’t attack you, because A) they don’t want to, and B) they don’t have the numbers. They don’t have the manpower, they don’t have the money, they just want to be left alone, and we won’t leave them alone.

Our spooks invent Skripal and MH17 and Navalny and Russia collusion and prostitutes peeing on beds in Moscow. Because that’s how they justify -literally- endless streams of money towards their operations, and those of their Siamese twin NATO. All that money goes towards the 1950’s though, we’re paying through the nose for a long discredited notion and a long passed… past.

But as soon as anyone mentions Russia, you know there’s never going to be any checks and balances, as long as there are still enough people who buy into the Putin=”Bogeyman who eats little children” thing, in the same way that they believe Putin controls Donald Trump’s mind and policies. It’s a numbers thing: as long as enough people buy it, the narrative will continue to be sold.

You’re essentially stuck in your grandparents’ mindframe. No kidding. As we go through our 2020 crisis, which seems real enough, we spend extraordinary amounts of money on long outdates ideas maintained only to maintain the CIA and the army. Say what you will, but there’s nothing smart about that. It’s only very stupid.

Because, for one thing, suppose there are real threats lurking today, how can we face those while we’re still focusing on things that ceased being threats decades ago? Shouldn’t we perhaps replace our “intelligence” with something more intelligent? And fit not for the 1950’s but for the 2020’s?

Our “security services”, and NATO very much as well, make us less secure, safe, not more, because that’s the only way they know to justify their continued existence. Yes, there’s a paradox hidden in there somewhere. They don’t serve us, they only serve themselves.




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Aug 102020

Cy Twombly Fifty Days at Iliam: Like a Fire that Consumes All before It 1978



Might as well call it a social experiment. Any other name, like “coup” or “fishing expedition” or “hookers peeing on a bed” or “justice being done” would just inflame “passions” and lead away from what should be the actual topic.

Whatever you call it, the fact remains that Donald Trump has been the first US president to be under continued investigation for the entire 4 years of his first term, and for about a year before it as well. And that should be a cause for alarm for anyone who cares even a little bit about the American political system, including those who abhor Trump. Because once you do that, it’s no longer about just one president, it’s about all who will follow him, and inevitably about the integrity and validity of the system as a whole.

In principle, there should be no investigations of a sitting president, and not even of a presidential candidate, because this risks endangering 1) the entire electoral process, and 2) the Office of the President (not for once, but for ever). In principle. If there must be an investigation, it must be based on solid evidence available beforehand, it must be short, and the President must be removed. If all of these three things are not guaranteed, no investigation is warranted, and the accusing parties should be “liberated” from the positions they held when they initiated the investigation regardless. Skin in the game.



It gets increasingly harder to write about American politics, or express an opinion in any other way, without being dumped into one of two camps, never to be heard from again in the other (except for ridicule or slander). There is no such thing as a neutral or objective viewpoint anymore. You’re either with us or you’re against us – or them.

Seeing -and projecting- the world in black and white is a tempting proposal for anyone afraid of being confused; it should, however, never be an excuse for the media to not present its viewers and readers with a full color palette. But we can see every single day how that went. Black and white it is. And in that environment, too claustrophobic to be put in a box, I might as well paint the picture as I see it. Yes, in color.


The “social experiment” I see progressing has two parts:

1) can a political party, aided and abetted by the media and intelligence services, unseat an elected president it has just lost an election to?

2) can a presidential candidate be elected while shunning the media, debates, etc., and only appear at times and in forms that have been pre-selected by her/his handlers for maximum effect, while hiding his/her weaknesses?


As for no. 1, it has evidently not succeeded, but that is certainly not for lack of trying. One investigation has followed the other non-stop since 2016, in public and behind the scenes, and they have all come up empty. Of course one side would contest that and still say there was lots of evidence, but if so, it obviously wasn’t very strong, or Trump would have been gone.

People may also claim that the mandate of the Mueller investigation was too narrow, but really, go back and watch the man’s pathetic (sorry, but it was) testimony in Congress after the fact, that should be enough. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and others have promised solid and inconvertible evidence many times, but we never saw any. Rest assured, whatever Trump may have done wrong, you would have heard about it by now.

Or to put it another way: he probably did many things wrong, but not the things he was accused of. In fact, the entire Putin puppet narrative is so idiotic it’s impossible not to ponder from time to time that it was designed from the get-go to support Trump, not hurt him.

As for no. 2, that looks even more experimental. The approach is helped along “wonderfully” by the pandemic, which provides plenty excuses to keep Biden hidden, but it goes against everything presidential campaigns have been built upon throughout American history: contact with voters. That very few people would believe Biden is his own man, and not a sock puppet, can’t help.

But there is more at stake. Presidential campaigns are one element of a much bigger process, and you can’t separate the two. Both parts of the “social experiment” seem to run afoul of the respect that bigger process, and ultimately the entire political system, necessarily demands from all participants, from an individual voter to a President. And that is much more important than either candidate. You can’t temporarily switch off that respect if and when that might suit your purpose, because you risk for it never to be switched on again.


You may dislike a presidential candidate, perhaps even intensely so, but that should never make you lose sight of the integrity, if not the sacredness, of the election process, of the political system, of the institutions, of the Constitution, and certainly not of the Office of the President of the United States. Because once you do that, you open the door for everyone to do the same in the future. And no, you can’t blame that on the candidate you don’t like, you do it.

When a candidate is selected through the primaries of his/her party, you must respect that, because if you don’t respect the process, you are lost, the system is lost, and there’s no telling when you’ll see it back, if ever. If that candidate is then elected President, a lot of doors that before allowed you to question and criticize him/her, should be closed. The country at that point has either a new President, or a second-term one. A different phase of the political process starts.

The House and the Senate become the critics, empowered by the system to hold the President accountable. But only the House and the Senate. Not the media, whose role it is, other than in the occasional opinion piece, to report on decisions made; not intelligence services, whose role it is to serve the country, and the new President it just elected; and not the opposition party, whose role it is to prepare for the next election, and to provide a degree of counterbalance, depending on how bad their loss was, on Capitol Hill.

The entire picture is crystal clear. So is everybody’s role in it. But now and then people -try to- refuse to accept their roles, obviously believing that they are more important than the integrity of the political system, and ignoring that in doing so they put the whole system at risk.


What was happening first became apparent in late 2015 – early 2016, when the New York Times began running multiple stories every day directed against Donald Trump. Mostly small bits, based on innuendo about his past, with a whiff of truth perhaps, but not more. The word “gratuitous” comes to mind. At a certain point, they did a dozen per day of the stories, it became assembly line work for the writers and editors..

The Washington Post chimed in, and so did CNN, MSNBC and others, including international press. It turned into a feeding frenzy, with all of them completely losing sight, voluntarily or not, of their roles as news providers. They all shape-shifted into opinion-only-makers, confident that their audience would not notice the difference, at least not at first. At that point it became a very Pavlovian thing.

Which is why I was initially going to name this essay “Trump vs Pavlov”. 100+ years ago, Ivan Pavlov “found” that if he rang a bell in front of a dog, and then gave her food, she would start to associate the two. When he increased the time-lapse between first, the bell, and then, the food, the dog would salivate in expectation of food at just the sound of the bell. In the end, all he had to do was ring the bell, with no food around, and the dog would salivate. So he had nothing to offer, no food, no substance, but the reaction was the same.

That is a very accurate description of what a large part of the US media have done -and become-. All they have to do at this point is mention Trump, or just show his picture, and their public will react the same every single time: Orange Man Bad. There doesn’t have to be any substance, any factual journalistic reports of wrongdoing. The “conditioned reflex” as Pavlov described it, has set in.

And their readers and viewers have become addicted to this. How could they not? They’ve been bombarded with 1000s of these bells ringing, and the substance may not be there, but the expectation of it is. If you’re a regular viewer of Rachel Maddow, what are the odds that your opinion is still your own after hearing RussiaRussia a million times? The only way it could be yours is if you switch her off.

I’ve written before that I don’t even think they really set out to do this. Initially, there were probably just some CEOs and owners and editors who didn’t like Trump and/or were affiliated in one way or another with the other party -and later candidate-. Who was counted on to win big anyway, so why not (well, because of the integrity of the political system!).

It was only later that they found out 24/7 anti-Trump “reporting” was a great business model for them. CNN was dying in early 2016, the New York Times was nor far behind, and all of a sudden numbers of viewers and readers and subscribers went through the roof.

Their problem is that if they succeed in making Trump lose in November, they will be back to where they came from before he appeared on the political scene. All of their “reporting” on US politics has devolved into a scheme based on ringing a bell, and on the scandal and anger their non-stop salivating audience have become addicted to, and mistake for substance.

If Joe Biden should win, that scheme is dead. They may hope to last a bit longer on the angry scandal of a possible persecution of Trump if he leaves office, but that would be it, and that’s not a business model. They can’t very well now turn on Biden and his puppeteers.

New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss said it very well when she left the paper a few weeks ago, she summarized the essence of the MSM problem in just a few words:

“[..] the lessons that ought to have followed the election – lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”.

Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world?


That’s the media. Second in line is US intelligence. Which, there’s no other way to put it, conspired against a presidential candidate and, when he was elected, a sitting president. The Strzok-Page “insurance policy”, the Obama Oval Office conversations where Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Susan Rice were present, plus 1,000 other things, the overall picture doesn’t exactly point to that famous seamless transition, and US Intel played a pivotal, because accommodating, role in that.

The best way to show this is perhaps that US intelligence themselves did not (could not) come up with a report on alleged links between the -prospective- president’s team and Russia, but took a dossier paid for by the president’s opposition and used it to discredit and persecute him and people in his team. The dossier was written by a two-bit MI6 hustler who hadn’t set foot in Russia in at least a decade, and whose main ‘Russian source’ wasn’t there either, but sitting in an office in the US.

That source in turn had contacts with a group of Russians whose very business model it was to make up and embellish whatever stories the highest bidder required, while failing to deal with their own severe drinking problems. That dossier was the entire foundation (or 99% of it) behind Rod Rosenstein appointing Bob Mueller as a Special Counsel. The appointment would never have been made, never have been possible, without the Steele dossier.


How was the dossier vetted by US intelligence, if at all? It’s very clear now what was wrong with it, but the all knowing and very clever intelligence people could not have figured that out 4 years ago, and instead cleared it for Mueller, for further FBI use, for FISA applications? How about their treatment of Michael Flynn, who they had already cleared only to resurrect the dead corpse of their investigation into his talks with Russian ambassador Kislyak? How would you, personally, spell “in good faith”?

We will see in the near future what the Durham investigation into all Russiagate players will come to. Apparently, Durham has just another three weeks to present at least something, because there is a two-month “no-go-zone” before the election, during which he would be accused of tampering with the election. And the premise for the Democrats and their sympathizers is that if Biden wins, all slates will be wiped clean.

They won’t, by the way. America still has a justice system, even if it is oftentimes crippled and grinding(ly) slow. Just watch Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell and her team. They have vowed to not only have their client be exonerated, but to fully clear his name, which according to their view has been besmirched by everyone up to and including Joe Biden and Barack Obama.


The third leg of the “creature” is the Democratic party. Who have stepped so far over their boundaries, nobody recognizes anymore that there were any. Or that the political system they are an integral part of, dictates that there are things they cannot do, lest they corrupt that system to the core.

Once you lose a presidential election, you prepare for the next one. You don’t use the next 4 years to try and frustrate the president you just lost to with all you got. The system should not allow it and can not tolerate it. There should be skin in the game for opposition politicians, who when they come with accusations of gross misconduct serious enough to remove a president, should be forced to step down when the accusations don’t lead to the intended result.

It should never be a free for all, in which you can simply try again the next morning. Because the system cannot work if that is possible. It can’t be that if you win a midterm election and get a majority in the House, you can then use that majority to make it impossible for a president to work on the agenda that made millions vote for him/her. That would cause the system to grind to a halt, and the system must always be more important than its temporary participants (even those who “sit” for 40-50 years).

When you look at the speaker’s list for the Democrat -non- convention next week where Joe Biden will be confirmed as their -virtual- candidate, you see that other than AOC, it’s just a long list of the same old people who were already there when they lost in 2016, and co-losers Hillary and Obama still have a very tight grip on the power and the purse strings.

Why they stick with Joe Biden, g-d only knows, and the same goes for whichever highly unpopular black woman they pick as VP who could soon be president. And sorry, but they all are. Kamala Harris was among the first to step down during the primaries because she didn’t get any votes. Susan Rice is not exactly “loved by the people” either, and the rest are no-names, except for Warren, but she’s both too left and much too white.

So you’re thinking: what’s going on there? That’s really the best you can do? But it does seem to be, likely because Barackillary have a small group of confidantes to choose from who they themselves are confident will be willing to cede all actual power to them once elected. And if Harris and Rice don’t get picked as VP, they’ll still exert a lot of power.

As will Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, there’s more new blood at Madame Tussaud’s than at the upper echelons of the Democratic party. Yes, AOC can come in to represent the squad in a cynical move (no power but brings in lots of votes), but that’s it. For the rest it’s still just the broken left wing of the war party. But you’re right, they’re none of them, Trump. And that at the same time is the sole identity they possess.


Anti-Trumpism has become a political religion. Because Trump is the only topic that attracts clickbait and viewers. The only topic that rings a bell. Joe Biden rings no bells whatsoever. A while back Donald Trump jr tweeted:

Trump is really running against the media, Silicon Valley, the establishment, the swamp, Hollywood and maybe Joe Biden.

While investor GreekFire23 did even better:

Trump is running against himself in this election. The vote will come down to those who love him vs those who hate him. Biden is totally irrelevant and not even campaigning. Biden has no platform, no slogan, no stickers, no signs, no rallies, no followers. It’s Trump vs Trump.

What can still sink Trump is obvious: it’s the economy and the pandemic. America’s problem is that no matter who wins, those will still be its main problems by January 2021. And another problem has been added in the course of 2020: protests and violence in the streets.


Update: I thought I could leave it at that for now, step out for a moment, have a glass of wine, let it all sink in, and write a closing paragraph. But then I was sitting outside in gorgeous Athens and this popped up, which I very obviously can’t leave out:

Senate Chairman Subpoenas FBI Director Wray For Russiagate Records; Puts Bidens On Notice

FBI Director Christopher Wray has been subpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to produce “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” which includes “all records provided or made available to the Inspector General” regarding the FISA probe, as well as documents regarding the 2016-2017 presidential transition..

[..] The subpoena was issued by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. It gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to produce the documents. Johnson also released a lengthy letter on Monday in which he defended his Committee’s investigation and accused Democrats of initiating “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in order to distract from evidence his committee has gathered on Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

[..] Johnson’s committee has secured testimony from at least one State Department official who worked in Ukraine, and says the Bidens’ conduct created the appearance of a conflict of interest. “The appearance of family profiteering off of Vice President Biden’s official responsibilities is not unique to the circumstances involving Ukraine and Burisma,” wrote Johnson. “Public reporting has also shown Hunter Biden following his father into China and coincidentally landing lucrative business deals and investments there.

“Additionally, the former vice president’s brothers and sister-in-law, Frank, James and Sara Biden, also are reported to have benefited financially from his work as well.

I can’t let that go because it addresses exactly what my closing paragraph would have been about. Which is the risk of the giant divide that has developed in US society, getting even wider, and potentially leading to utter mayhem. Actually, it’s not even ‘potentially’ anymore, there already has been a lot of violence.

The Democrats think they will win easily on November 3, and then push through all of their their policies, after dumping on Trump for 4 years with their media and intelligence friends, but the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump, and most of their family and friends with them, don’t think so. That’s not a threat, it’s an observation.

They feel cheated out of their 2016 victory. They realize (or should I say “suspect”) that Russiagate and the Mueller probe and the Zelensky-linked impeachment “hearings” were empty vessels directed against the election outcome that they won fair and square, and I guarantee you they won’t take it sitting down.

Which means that no matter who wins, polarization will reach levels America has never seen, and, frankly, should never wish to. Because all of the people involved, bar just a precious few, will have to live together in the same country, and share the same society, streets, highways, stores and resources.

And sometimes I wonder: how are they going to do that? If Trump should win, how will the entire so-called left react, from the Democrats through the MSM to BLM? Will they just increase the protests and the violence in the streets?

Alternatively, if Joe Biden wins, how will the Conservative side of America react? Will they all go home and wait for what the DNC has in store for them, or will their reaction be pro-active? I know which reaction I would see them lean towards.

You have these two sides in society who appear further apart than even Moses could have hoped to bring back together again, you have the media who thrive on widening that divide even further, it’s a scary picture.


And in the meantime, while everyone’s busy blaming each other, who’s going to take care of the country?




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Aug 082020

Alfred Palmer Annette del Sur in salvage campaign, Douglas Aircraft Co., Long Beach, CA 1942


55% Of COVID Patients Still Have Neurological Problems 3 Months Later (MW)
US Intel: China Opposes Trump Reelection; Russia Works Against Biden (NPR)
US Officials Now Worry About Election Logistics More Than Hacking (R.)
Trump Tees Up Executive Orders On Economy But Won’t Sign Yet (Hill)
Can An Airline Put You On A No-Fly List For Refusing To Mask Up? (NPR)
The WeChat Ban (China Collection)
China Allows First Commercial Bank To Go Bankrupt (Xinhua)
Democratic Convention Lineup To Include AOC, Clinton, Warren (Hill)
Dems VP Candidate Susan Rice Made a Lot of Money in Fossil Fuels (Jacobin)
Billionaires That Donated to Gates-Buffet Pledge Now Richer Than Ever (MPN)
Things Going By (Jim Kunstler)
Your Bones Are Made Out of Exploded Stars (Fut.)
Dow Skyrockets After Coronavirus Begins Trading On NYSE (Onion)



US “intelligence” is at it again. Russia, China, Iran are all spying, but they take care of us. Now fork over more money for your security. Has there ever been a bigger scam in history?



Can we get those numbers down please?! All of them!













At first I thought this was a parody account.

Adam, we’re stil waiting for all the evidence you said you had time and again of collusion. Why not show us that and then after maybe open your mouth again. It’s to do with credibility.



What happens when a large segment of them have this for life? What are the costs to them, to society, and to the health care system?

55% Of COVID Patients Still Have Neurological Problems 3 Months Later (MW)

Could the coronavirus lead to chronic illness? While lung scarring, heart and kidney damage may result from COVID-19, doctors and researchers are starting to clock the potential long-term impact of the virus on the brain also. Younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy are suffering blood clots and strokes. And many “long-haulers,” or COVID-19 patients who have continued showing symptoms for months after the initial infection passed, report neurological problems such as confusion and difficulty concentrating (or brain fog), as well as headaches, extreme fatigue, mood changes, insomnia and loss of taste and/or smell.= Indeed, the CDC recently warned that it takes longer to recover from COVID-19 than the 10- to 14-day quarantine window that has been touted throughout the pandemic.

In fact, one in five young adults under 34 was not back to their usual health up to three weeks after testing positive. And 35% of surveyed U.S. adults overall had not returned to their normal state of health when interviewed two to three weeks after testing. Now a study of 60 COVID-19 patients published in Lancet this week finds that 55% of them were still displaying such neurological symptoms during follow-up visits three months later. And when doctors compared brain scans of these 60 COVID patients with those of a control group who had not been infected, they found that the brains of the COVID patients showed structural changes that correlated with memory loss and smell loss.

And that’s not exclusive to adults. A case study published in JAMA Neurology in June highlighted four U.K. children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a severe and potentially fatal condition that appears to be linked to COVID-19. These children developed neurological manifestations such as headaches, muscle weakness, confusion and disorientation. While two of the kids recovered, the other two continued to show symptoms, including muscle weakness so severe that they needed a wheelchair.

Read more …

The US pays huge salaries to its various intelligence agencies so they can make up stories from whole cloth that can then be used to argue that we must spend more money on intelligence.

This is so incredibly vapid it’s hard to see why people don’t tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

“2020 will be the most protected and most secure election in modern history…” Yeah, just not from you…

US Intel: China Opposes Trump Reelection; Russia Works Against Biden (NPR)

The top counterintelligence official in the U.S. government warned Friday of ongoing interference and influence efforts by China, Russia and Iran. William Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that the U.S. government has assessed that China prefers President Trump losing the election, because Beijing considers him “unpredictable,” while Russia is working to undermine Democrat Joe Biden. “Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said.

In discussing tactics, Evanina noted that the countries could try to compromise election equipment either to affect results or give the illusion of tampered results, but he did not say that such activities have been observed. China has grown more aggressive in recent months, criticizing the U.S. response to the coronavirus, although Evanina noted that Beijing continues to weigh the “risks and benefits of aggressive action” when it comes to influencing the election. Russia, however, has been observed using a number of tactics, including spreading propaganda on social media and Russian television, to denigrate Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee.

Iran also seeks to spread disinformation online, with the intent to undermine U.S. institutions and Trump, and to divide the country ahead of the election, according to Evanina. The statement did not refer to any specific cyberattack attempts on the part of any of the three countries in the style of Russia in 2016. And Evanina noted that it would be difficult, due to the disparate nature of America’s election infrastructure, to affect vote tallying at scale. Similarly, Chris Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official, said in a speech this week that his team had seen “nothing at the directed, focused level of 2016.” The year “2020 will be the most protected and most secure election in modern history,” Krebs said.

In a joint statement, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who leads the House Intelligence Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the disclosure was a good step toward more transparency, but they expressed frustration at how Evanina lumped the countries’ actions together. Instead, the lawmakers said, intelligence officials should share more specific information to “allow voters to appraise for themselves the respective threats posed by these foreign actors, and distinguish these actors’ different and unequal aims, current actions, and capabilities.” “Unfortunately, today’s statement still treats three actors of differing intent and capability as equal threats to our democratic elections,” the lawmakers said.

In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the president’s reelection campaign, said: “We don’t need or want foreign interference, and President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square.” In a separate statement, Tony Blinken, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, said: “Joe Biden … has led the fight against foreign interference for years, and has refused to accept any foreign materials intended to help him in this election — something that Donald Trump and his campaign have repeatedly failed to do.”

Read more …

More pushing for mail-in ballots.

US Officials Now Worry About Election Logistics More Than Hacking (R.)

In a reversal from a few years ago, many officials who oversee U.S. election technology and outside security experts now worry less about hacking in the November elections than about misinformation and logistics such as a shortage of poll workers and slowdowns at the U.S. postal service. Though most computerized voting systems can be hacked, some undetectably, more states have moved away from paperless balloting and more vendors are listening to warnings about software flaws, longtime specialists told the annual Black Hat and Def Con security conferences this week. “We finally know how to do this well,” Georgetown University professor Matt Blaze said in a keynote at Black Hat, held online this year because of the pandemic.

In addition, the sheer number of jurisdictions and varied versions of software would make fraud with a national impact impractical, officials said. On Friday, the U.S. head of counterintelligence, William Evanina, said publicly that while Russia, China and Iran might all act to interfere in the election, substantial vote changes were a low risk. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee, said at Def Con he remained concerned about electronic pollbooks that could malfunction and internet voting by armed forces overseas. But Blaze and others said they were mainly worried that many localities do not have enough funding for election-day workers to handle in-person votes under pandemic conditions, with possible protests and disruptions, at the same time as they plan for a record number of mailed ballots.

Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said people should vote as early as possible and prepare for delayed election results. Any delay is likely to be fertile ground for misinformation both foreign and domestic, others warned. A Def Con panel including Kimber Dowsett, director of security engineering at Truss, said instead of flagging new voting machine flaws to an already cynical public, researchers should talk to Krebs’ agency and the vendors and hope for the best.

Read more …

There will be no agreement.

Trump Tees Up Executive Orders On Economy But Won’t Sign Yet (Hill)

President Trump said Friday that he is prepared to act unilaterally to reinstate expanded unemployment benefits and suspend the payroll tax due to the coronavirus, but signaled he wouldn’t do so immediately. Trump told reporters that his administration is working “in good faith” to reach an agreement on the next stimulus package with Democratic leaders, before lambasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for seeking funding for states and cities that he said have been mismanaged by Democratic politicians. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” Trump said during a hastily scheduled news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Friday evening.

Trump said he is prepared to take four actions without Congress: defer the payroll tax until the end of the year; enhance unemployment benefits until the end of the year; defer student loan payments and forgive interest indefinitely; and reinstate a federal moratorium on evictions. Asked for a timeline, Trump said he could act as soon as the end of the week. The president also insisted he has the legal authority to take the actions unilaterally, despite doubts about his ability to do so. Trump also acknowledged that the moves were likely to invite legal challenges. “You always get sued,” Trump said. “We’ll probably get sued.”

Read more …

Yes, they’re private companies. You buy a ticket under their conditions.

Can An Airline Put You On A No-Fly List For Refusing To Mask Up? (NPR)

Early this week, Delta Air Lines made news after a plane headed to Atlanta circled back to its gate in Detroit, delaying takeoff. The crew was returning to expel two passengers who had been unwilling to follow a new but quintessential coronavirus rule. They had refused to don masks. That transgression is the latest addition to a bevy of infractions that can get you booted from an aircraft — even before contagion racked our world. Those no-nos vary wildly in severity and how often they’re enforced, but the theoretical gamut is wide: from a joke about, say, hijacking, to smoking a cigarette … all the way to more serious acts like transporting illegal contraband like guns or drugs.

[..] When it comes to the new rules for the novel coronavirus, airlines like Delta are taking them very seriously. So far, the carrier has banned 100 anti-maskers from taking their flights and gone a step further by adding them to a “no fly” list. Delta says its strict policies about masking are part of an effort to promote best public health practices and safety amid the pandemic. In a statement provided to NPR, Delta wrote: “Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate.” The airline “remains committed to requiring customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering as a consistent layer of protection across all Delta touchpoints.”

And it’s not just Delta. All major U.S. airlines now require passengers to wear face coverings — a dramatic change to plane etiquette. Children under age 2 and slightly older children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the requirement on Delta and other airlines. Adults are generally permitted to remove a mask only when eating or drinking, though policy varies. Though the scientific consensus is clear and strong that masks are critical in stemming the spread of the virus, some consumers feel aggrieved by what they consider an attack on personal freedom. But according to aviation, health and legal experts, such outrage ignores a few fundamentals: In entering into agreements (read: contracts) with airline carriers (by purchasing a ticket), you’re required to adhere to their policies. And that pretty much ends the matter.

In other words, Delta’s no-fly list is perfectly within its scope of rights, experts stress. The legal reasoning is pretty straightforward, says Sharona Hoffman, co-director of Case Western Reserve University’s Law-Medicine Center. She puts it simply: “They’re a private business, and private businesses can have rules.”

Read more …

What I said yesterday, but in more words.

The WeChat Ban (China Collection)

The ban on WeChat will not cut people in the US off from their friends and family in China. They communicated before WeChat existed and will continue to do so if it’s banned. There are many quite serviceable alternatives. And who exactly is bigger in the banning business, anyway? I’m seeing a lot of what seem to me to be overwrought reactions to the WeChat ban on my Twitter feed. For example, when the ban was first mooted by Pompeo, Stuart Lau of the South China Morning Post tweeted that if it went through, “countless Chinese people who live in the US could be cut off from their friends and families in China, where WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is banned.” Two points:

First, can we please remember that before WeChat existed, people somehow managed to communicate between the US and China, and it wasn’t difficult? At this very moment, there are a number of ways that it can be done: telephone calls, text messages, email, WhatsApp, Signal, and let’s not forget QQ, another TenCent app that does basically everything WeChat does in terms of communication, and used to be widely used in China before it was supplanted by WeChat. So before you tell me that people won’t be able to communicate with friends and family in China any more, you need to explain (a) why what they did before WeChat won’t work any more, and (b) why none of the communications methods I’ve mentioned above won’t work any more. I get that WeChat has many convenient functions and a great interface that people like. That’s why it’s been so successful. But come on, people: the idea that banning it cuts off communication between people in the US and China is silly.

Second, let’s suppose for the sake of argument (but only for the sake of argument) that banning WeChat did indeed seriously impinge on the ability of people to communicate between the US and China. Where does the fault lie, causally speaking? To figure that out we need to ask why alternatives are not available, and who is responsible for that. Two alternatives are (as the Stuart Lau post notes) Whats App and Facebook Messenger. There is also Line, a communications app that is widely used in Japan and Taiwan, with over 700 million users worldwide by 2017, according to the Wikipedia entry. But they are all banned in China. So it is a bit hard to say that it is the ban on WeChat that is making communications difficult. The Chinese government is the one that is actively in the banning business, and they’ve got a big head start on the Trump administration.

Read more …

Amidst the first (re-appearing) rumors of dollar shortages in the country.

China Allows First Commercial Bank To Go Bankrupt (Xinhua)

China’s central bank has announced that the disposal of risks concerning the troubled Baoshang Bank will be completed soon, and the bank will file for bankruptcy. Equity and unsecured claims from its original shareholders will be liquidated by law, according to a report released by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Thursday. The PBOC and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission took over the Inner Mongolia-based commercial bank in May last year due to its “serious credit risks.”

With capital from deposit insurance funds and the PBOC, principal and interest on personal savings deposits, and those of most institutional creditors, are guaranteed the full amount, while large corporate deposits are guaranteed an average level of 90 percent, the report said. After the takeover, the PBOC arranged for 23.5 billion yuan (about 3.39 billion U.S. dollars) in a standing lending facility (SLF) quota for Baoshang Bank on the premise of enough high-quality collateral.

Read more …

Apart from AOC, it’s the same old same old crowd that lost bigly in 2016. Most of them are way past retirement age in any other job. But the lust for power is eternal.

And who do you think they’re going to talk about most?

Democratic Convention Lineup To Include AOC, Clinton, Warren (Hill)

The speaking lineup for this month’s Democratic National Convention is beginning to take form, with several high-profile Democrats securing spots. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a progressive superstar, is expected to have some sort of speaking slot, a House member told Politico, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will also speak, according to Axios. Warren and Clinton are reportedly slated to speak on Aug. 19, the day before former Vice President Joe Biden will formally accept the 2020 Democratic nomination. Other Democrats expected to have speaking slots are Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Both Warren and Harris are known to be on Biden’s shortlist to be his running mate. Neither the Democratic National Committee nor the convention immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill. The convention has largely been relegated to digital events so participants can observe social distancing and other health guidance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Biden was originally slated to deliver his acceptance speech from Milwaukee, but will now do so virtually from Delaware, his home state.

Read more …

Just another multi-millionaire who raked in fortunes while providing “public service”.

Dems VP Candidate Susan Rice Made a Lot of Money in Fossil Fuels (Jacobin)

Former national security adviser Susan Rice, reportedly one of two finalists in Joe Biden’s vice presidential search, had millions invested in fossil fuels and energy companies as recently as 2015. The revelations come as Biden has faced renewed questions about his commitment to environmental policies that would combat climate change. A financial disclosure form obtained by Too Much Information reveals that Rice had investments in at least five such companies, including as much as $100,000 in TransCanada, which is behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Rice also had over $1 million invested in pipeline firm Enbridge as well as more than $2 million split between fossil fuel companies Cenovus, Encana, and Imperial Oil — all companies with significant involvement in developing the tar sands of Alberta.

The investments netted as much as $237,000 in dividends that year. In addition, Rice reported significant holdings in Canadian banks which fund pipeline projects, according to the disclosure. A veteran of multiple Democratic administrations, Rice has a traditionally impressive resume on paper. She worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. before serving as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Bill Clinton, UN ambassador under Barack Obama, and national security adviser. But her record has made her a controversial candidate for VP. Pledged delegates for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have urged Biden to avoid naming her to the ticket, and have also urged him to remove a number of other foreign policy hawks from his team. Among other things, the delegates cited her past support for military intervention in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

On Friday, environmental advocates criticized Rice’s past fossil fuel investments in a Politico report. In 2012, when Rice was a candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, environmentalists took aim at her for the holdings, even circulating a petition urging Obama not to select her. Even then, Rice, whose net worth with her husband was estimated to be between $23.5 million and $43.5 million, had significant investments in Canadian energy interests, including as much as $600,000 in TransCanada. She also owned stock in Enbridge, Encana, Cenovus, and Suncor, along with other fossil fuel companies like Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, Royal Dutch Shell, Iberdrola, ATP Oil & Gas Corp., and energy utility TransAlta. Rice would hardly be the first person with fossil fuel ties that Biden has brought onboard this cycle. Biden’s climate adviser, Heather Zichal, previously served on the board of a natural gas company, Cheniere Energy.

Read more …

Have you ever trusted a billionaire? They only get so rich by wanting ever more money. That doesn’t stop all of a sudden.

Billionaires That Donated to Gates-Buffet Pledge Now Richer Than Ever (MPN)

A study released by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) through its Program on Inequality and the Common Good, titled “Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy” examines the reality behind the ostensible charitableness of the billionaire donor class and the disturbing trend of charitable organizations and foundations relying more and more on fewer and fewer wealthy donors; funds which “end up in family foundations and donor-advised funds that could legally exist in perpetuity,” while donations from lower and middle-income sources are disappearing. In particular, the paper looks at The Giving Pledge initiative started in 2010 by a few dozen U.S. billionaires and led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

The professed goal of the initiative was to have the wealthiest people in the world pledge to give at least half of their fortunes away to charitable causes before their death. The study found that contrary to the stated purpose of the philanthropic commitment of the organization, a full 75 percent of participants have actually increased their net worth in the ten years since they made their charitable vow. More concerning is the finding that a growing share of “high-end” donations never ends up in organizations that do any kind of altruistic work. Rather, they go to tax-privileged private foundations designed to serve as tax shelters for the very wealthy, which then only disburse a small percentage of their assets to charitable non-profits; a particularly galling fact considering how much more wealthy the one-percenters have gotten over the course of the pandemic in contrast to the 54 million Americans who’ve filed for unemployment in that same span of time.

Read more …

“[..] who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free?


Things Going By (Jim Kunstler)

Higher education committed suicide with its dual racketeering model. First was the college loan racket, in which schools colluded with the federal government to jam too many “customers” through the pipeline who didn’t belong there, and who buried themselves under a lifetime debt obligation they could never escape. The second was the intellectual racket of creating sham fields of study that contaminated all the other “humanities” with poisonous bullshit theory, and eventually even invaded the STEM disciplines. Covid-19 screwed the pooch on all that, scotching the four-year party-hearty in-residence part of the deal. For now, who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free? Hundreds of colleges and universities will be going out of business in the years ahead.

The outlook for the big centralized high schools is also pretty dark. The teachers’ unions’ insatiable needs are only part of the picture. Consolidating many smaller schools to save on administrative costs seemed like a good idea at the time. But we ended up with thousands of gigantic schools that looked like insecticide factories and felt like minimum security prisons. They all depend on the costly yellow bus fleets to collect the kids from far and wide. The whole scheme ended up as an elaborate day-care operation that actually retarded the development of young people into functional, autonomous adults.

Covid-19 and the economic collapse it triggered will put an end to all that. How will the school districts cope with an epic loss of tax revenue from all the homeowners defaulting on their mortgages? They won’t. Schooling will have to reorganize, and probably at a very grassroots level, with home-schools evolving into neighbor-pods of tiny schools, and only among parents who have the literacy and numeracy to pull it off. We’ll be lucky if, years from now, we’ll see something like local academies spring up that can handle a few hundred students. I’d also warn you about assuming that the Internet is a permanent installation of the human condition. It depends utterly on a pretty fragile electric grid. We do, after all, have libraries, and maybe they can be persuaded to stop trying to get rid of all their books.

Read more …

Didn’t we already know we’re stardust? That some of it is calcium makes a lot of sense.

Your Bones Are Made Out of Exploded Stars (Fut.)

According to new research, half the calcium in our universe came from “calcium-rich supernova.” That means the stuff our teeth and bones is made from is, essentially, the remains of dead stars that blew up a long, long time ago. “These events are so few in number that we have never known what produced calcium-rich supernova,” said Wynn Jacobson-Galan, Northwestern graduate student and lead author of the new study published in The Astrophysical Journal this week, in a statement. “By observing what this star did in its final month before it reached its critical, tumultuous end, we peered into a place previously unexplored, opening new avenues of study within transient science,” Jacobson-Galan added.

An extremely bright event some 55 million light years from Earth grabbed the attention of the international astronomy community in April 2019. “Every single country with a prominent telescope turned to look at this object,” Jacobson-Galan recalled. Astronomers were so quick that many observed the supernova just ten hours after the explosion. “The explosion is trying to cool down,” Raffaella Margutti from Northwestern University and a senior author of the study, explained in the statement. “It wants to give away its energy, and calcium emission is an efficient way to do that.” As it turns out the explosion spewed out an immense amount of calcium. “It wasn’t just calcium rich,” Margutti said. “It was the richest of the rich.”

They caught the event just in time to conclude that it was the most calcium to have ever been observed to be emitted from just a single event. “The luminosity tells us how much material the star shed and how close that material was to the star,” Jacobson-Galan explained. “In this case, the star lost a very small amount of material right before it exploded. That material was still nearby.”

Read more …

“This is an unusually strong stock, and we are predicting it will see at least six months of straight gains, probably more.”

Dow Skyrockets After Coronavirus Begins Trading On NY Stock Exchange (Onion)

With investors highly bullish about the long-term prospects of the respiratory virus, market reports confirmed Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed nearly 400 points after the novel coronavirus began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. “Following its initial public offering, this coronavirus has become the hot new thing on Wall Street, and you can bet everyone will be getting a piece of it soon if they haven’t already,” said Darya Abbas, an analyst at Zacks Investment Research, observing that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is listed under the ticker symbol COV, traded at incredibly high volumes throughout the day. “This is an unusually strong stock, and we are predicting it will see at least six months of straight gains, probably more. Not since the original SARS in 2003 have we seen an airborne pathogen with such massive growth potential.” At press time, the coronavirus was reportedly in talks to take part in a major merger with Johnson & Johnson.

Read more …



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Jul 162020
 July 16, 2020  Posted by at 7:46 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »

Utagawa Yoshitoshi Ariko weeps as her boat drifts in the moonlight 1886



Sometimes I think I can only do this work properly if I’m angry all the time 24/7. But I don’t want to be angry all the time; what kind of life is that? Still, there are days when I just can’t help it. The British intelligence services (please let find another word for that, so as to not insult actually smart people) came out with a couple anti-Putin press releases today, and there we go again.

We can only guess at what they want this time, whether it to keep the UK’s own “RussiaRussia Putin is Hitler” flame alive, or are they seeking to help their US counterparts to rise from the ashes of their fully discredited years-long Orange Man Bad narratives, but boy, is this nauseating. What’s even worse is that people eat it up like candy.

Guys, this is your own highly paid snoops lying to you -along with your government(s)- like there’s no tomorrow, and you’re just sitting there worrying about wearing a face mask next time you go to a store. Know what that makes you? Sheep. I know y’all still know what those look like, and how they behave. So what’s the attraction?

Here’s BIGLY revelation no. 1 per the BBC. Do note the “almost certain” in both pieces, they need an easy way out if the story doesn’t stick. It also means that obviously they’re not at all certain, they’re just making it up.

Russian Hackers Target COVID19 Vaccine Research

Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, a group of national security services has warned. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of Russian intelligence services”. It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development. NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said it was “despicable”. The hackers are part of a group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

Some people will remember the name Cozy Bear from Robert Mueller’s failed $40 million “investigation”. Is that why the NCSC put it in? But to the point: Why would Russia hack the UK for vaccine info if and when the UK has no vaccine? Put it another way: what are the odds that UK “intelligence” is not at the same time trying to hack Russia for its own info? Think British scientists are smarter than Russian ones? How much money would you want to put on that?

Everyone is spying on everyone, always have, and today that may require some hacking skills. Big surprise. You leave your backdoor open, someone may try to have a look inside. Same for everyone. Not even the beginning of a newsworthy story; it happens all the time and everywhere. Next.

Next one is even flimsier. This one implies that since Jeremy Corbyn had some papers on the NHS in the last election, RussiaRussia gave them to him. And he’s an anti-semite too. So there. Can anyone explain why Russia would want to interfere in a UK election?

This seems to allege that Putin wanted to help Corbyn win. But is that for the same reason that he wanted to help Corbyn’s ideological twin Donald Trump win? Which we now know he didn’t? Or is it just that Putin the evil mastermind wants to confuse all parties? Given what I see and hear, he needn’t bother; they’re all already confused as can be.


UK Says Russia Sought To Interfere In 2019 Election

Dominic Raab’s statement is the first time ministers have admitted that the Kremlin has tried to distort the workings of British democracy – a practice the foreign secretary said was “completely unacceptable”. “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents,” Raab said in a written statement.

Next. Only days ago, there was this from Britain about a court case concerning the infamous novichok “attack” in Salisbury, in which first former Russian GRU agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and months later two other Brits, ostensibly came in contact with what was called the deadliest nerve agent in the world.

Neither Sergei Skripal nor his daughter Yulia have ever been seen again. There was a vague message from a niece, but that was it. But the story is alive and kicking. And can thus continue to be used. By the media-intelligence cartel.


Russian Agents May Have Deliberately Left Bottle Of Novichok In Salisbury

Russian agents may have deliberately discarded a bottle of the deadly nerve agent novichok, used in the assassination attempt of former spy Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury in a bid to undermine UK security, the High Court today heard. The claim was made during a legal challenge by the family of Dawn Sturgess, 44, who died in 2018 after coming into contact with novichok in a fake perfume bottle which her partner had found in a park. The family are embroiled in a High Court action in a bid to get ‘key questions’ asked at Ms Sturgess’ inquest.

[..] According to the Guardian, he also referenced then UK prime minister, Theresa May, in September 2018 in which she said: ‘This chemical weapons attack on our soil was part of a wider pattern of Russian behaviour that persistently seeks to undermine our security and that of our allies around the world.’

[..] ‘The use of novichok in Salisbury was the first aggressive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,’ said Mr Mansfield in a written case summary. ‘It put hundreds of members of the British public at risk and killed Ms Sturgess. ‘The issue of who was responsible for it is a matter of almost unparalleled public concern. ‘There is no realistic prospect that the two suspects will face a criminal trial in the UK or that the Russian state will carry out a comprehensive investigation, and no public inquiry into these events has been established.

This is the pattern: it’s nothing to do with UK security. The pattern is that both the US and UK use their lack of control over Russia as an excuse and reason to blame Russia for anything they feel like. As five-year old kids would. Robert Mueller, the liar and coward, having failed to produce one shred of evidence against Trump, left two things alive in his final report: empty accusations against Assange, who was muzzled, and against “13 Russians”, who he knew would never contest whatever he said.

And when he was challenged because Concord Management decided to show up with a lawyer, he lost that too. The official line was: “It is no longer in the best interests of justice or the country’s national security” to continue. What a bunch of losers.

And we’re not done. Assange smearer no. 1 and hidden intelligence agent Luke Harding, who invented more smear stories about Julian than anyone on the planet, had this three weeks ago. I kid you not, his point was that Russian intelligence is really really stupid. To prove it, he paints a shining portrait of … US/UK intelligence operation Bellingcat.

This is mainly about the Skripal case again, but of course we also remember their role in the never ever existing chemical attack in Syria by Assad on his own people. Yes, the one where they, the OPCW was involved too, planted the canisters and shot some grueling staged photographs.


A Chain Of Stupidity’: The Skripal Case And The Decline Of Russia’s Spy Agencies

Bellingcat revealed the identity of poisoner No 1 in a message on its website. Having unmasked one assassin, it seemed likely that Bellingcat would succeed in identifying Petrov, too. Sure enough, in late September I received an invitation to a press conference. It was to be held in an illustrious location: the Houses of Parliament, in an upstairs committee room, number nine. Its subject was Petrov’s real identity. By the time I arrived, the room was full. I spotted a reporter from the New York Times, Ellen Barry, together with leading representatives from the British and US media. It was hard to escape the conclusion that power in journalism was shifting.

It was moving away from established print titles and towards open-source innovators. The new hero of journalism was no longer a grizzled investigator burning shoe leather, à la All the President’s Men, but a pasty-looking kid in front of a MacBook Air. Higgins and Grozev were there, as well as a Conservative MP, Bob Seely. I found a spot on a bench and sat down. The mood was expectant. Seely set the scene. He described Bellingcat as a “truly remarkable group of digital detectives”. Their success was due to an explosion of digital technology and a rise in digital activism, he said.

Here’s Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett about Bellingcat:

Bellingcat & Atlantic Council Join To Award Exploited Syrian Child & American Mass Murderer

Is the Atlantic Council some benevolent organization handing out awards to do-gooding people? No. It’s a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things. One of its Syria “experts” is none other than Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, who recently took to social media to tell people to suck his “big balls,” making him more of a laughing stock than this backgrounder on the man with no qualifications to his title.

Some of the Atlantic Council’s funders include: the US State Department, oil and weapons manufacturing companies, banks, NATO, various nations’ ministries of defence, and the US Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. Even just based on funding alone, and ignoring their pro-NATO policy papers, the Atlantic Council clearly exists to further the interests of those involved in weapons manufacturing, wars, and oil.

Of course the entire lying fanfare is a direct result of the west failing to capture Crimea from Russia. They lost that one too; they sure lose a lot when engaging with Russia, don’t they? All they end up with is stories. John McCain and Victoria Nuland thought they had it all in their hands, and then it slipped right through.

And from Maidan and Crimea it’s just a skip and a hop to MH17, plus more -and heavy- Bellingcat involvement. This made the news again a week ago.


MH17 Disaster: Dutch Take Russia To European Rights Court

Citizens of 10 different countries died on board the Boeing 777 airliner that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. More than two-thirds of the victims were Dutch nationals. In March, a trial opened in the Netherlands of three Russian and one Ukrainian citizens – still at large – for the murder of 298 people on board the plane. They are all linked to the pro-Moscow separatists. The trial, in a court near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, is expected to last for months.

In a statement, the Dutch foreign ministry said the government “decided to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights for its role in the downing of Flight MH17”. It said that “by taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support” to individual cases already brought against Russia by victims’ families. “Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority,” said Mr Blok. “By taking this step today… we are moving closer to this goal,” he added.

Now, I have some interest in this, because I was born in Holland and still have the passport. But from what I can see, this is just yet another western intelligence story. I don’t know what happened with MH17, but I’m pretty sure the Dutch government doesn’t know either, or if they do they’re not telling. And my skepticism isn’t even based on pieces like this from Eric Zuesse two weeks ago (but do read it!).


Netherlands ‘Justice’ Is Totally Corrupt: MH17 Case as Example

[..] when Ukraine’s Government authorized Holland’s Government to investigate and rule on what caused the MH17 to be shot down, Holland’s Government signed onto a secret agreement with Ukraine’s Government that included a provision allowing Ukraine’s Government to block and prevent any finding from being issued that would implicate Ukraine’s Government in having shot it down. Holland’s Government violates its own Freedom of Information law by refusing to make public what that secret agreement says.

However, at the time when the existence of the agreement slipped through into mention by a Ukrainian news-site on 8 August 2014, that news-report said “As part of the four-party agreement signed on August 8 between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia [all of which nations are allies of the United States and are cooperating with its new Cold War against Russia], information on the investigation into the disaster Malaysian ‘Boeing-777’ will not be disclosed.”

My skepticism is kind of linked to this, but it’s much older. When the plane was brought down, I noted that then-US VP Joe Biden, as well as the Ukrainian government of newly (US-)installed president Poroshenko, and also Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, who got a plush job in Brussels out of it, all three declared within hours that Russia “was what did it”.

None could know at the time they made the statement. But it was a few months after the west lost Crimea, and thereby the chance to rid Russia of its only warm water port. And some people didn’t like that one bit. Some people were very unhappy about being outsmarted by Putin. Nuland must have been livid. And Hillary Clinton, and McCain.

Then when the investigation started, something odd happened. 2/3 of all victims -298 in total- were from the Netherlands. Yet the Dutch got to lead the inquest. As I wrote at the time: have you ever seen a crime series, or a murder one, or a movie, where the main victim (afflicted party) gets to lead the investigation into what happened? No, what we always see is someone taking the aggrieved detective aside saying: sorry, you’re too close to this.

And then on top of that, Ukraine, certainly one of the main suspects, since it happened in their territory, got to be part of the investigation. And not just part, as you can see in Zuesse’s piece, they could veto both what would be investigated and what could be communicated about the results. While they could well be the perpetrator!

If you go back to the murder series metaphor, a producer or writer would say: no can do, it lacks all credibility. But they did it. And it was then that I knew no matter what the report would say, it would be literally incredible. It’s 6 years later, and it’s going to take many more years, of posturing, name-calling, threats, accusations, you name it. And nothing will be proven, there will be only claims of proof. Just like in all the other cases I mentioned above. It’s how these things are done.

MH17 has become just another tool in the hands of “intelligence”.



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Feb 222020

DPC The Mammoth Oak at Pass Christian, Mississippi 1900


Asymptomatic Wuhan Woman Infects Five Relatives With Coronavirus (G.)
COVID19 Mortality Rate Hits New Lifetime High Of 3.0% (ZH)
Italy Reports 1st Virus Death, Cases More Than Quadruple (AP)
10 Italian Towns In Lockdown Over Coronavirus Fears (IBT)
US Prepares For Coronavirus Pandemic, School And Business Closures (R.)
Judge Blocks Transfer Of 50 Coronavirus Patients To Costa Mesa (CBS)
France Should Use Virus Outbreak To Reduce Reliance On China – FinMin (RT)
Bernie Sanders Told By US Officials That Russia Supports His Campaign (G.)
Keep Throwing Spaghetti at That Wall (Kunstler)
Intelligence Community Feels Impact Of Trump’s Diplomatic ‘Disruptor’ (CNN)
Trump’s New Intel Chief Was A Trump Critic In 2016 (Pol.)
Lady Justice Spurns Her Blinders For Trump Associates (AmG)
Twitter Suspends 70 Pro-Bloomberg Accounts Over ‘Platform Manipulation’ (R.)



The game is changing. The virus has taken the logical next step: first, expand beyond Hubei, now expand beyond China. Major cluster in South Korea, first death in Italy. Big question mark is Iran, what health care structure is in place there? Four deaths out of seemingly nowhere doesn’t spur confidence.


Cases 77,928 (+ 1,138 from yesterday’s 76,790).

Deaths 2,362 (+ 115 from yesterday)



From Worldometer:



And a list of affected countries so far. Check back again in a week or so. Note: death in Italy is not yet included.




As I wrote 2 days ago in Go Forth and Multiply, the key terms going forward will be “false negative” and “asymptomatic”.

CNN had an interview live with a woman who just got off the ship. Yay! No quarantine!

Asymptomatic Wuhan Woman Infects Five Relatives With Coronavirus (G.)

A 20-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan travelled hundreds of miles to another city where she infected five relatives without showing signs of infection, Chinese scientists have said, offering new evidence that the new coronavirus can be spread asymptomatically. The case study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, offered clues about how the coronavirus is spreading, and suggested that it might be difficult to stop. According to the study by Dr Meiyun Wang of the People’s Hospital of Zhengzhou University and colleagues, the woman travelled 400 miles (650km) from Wuhan to Anyang in Henan province on 10 January and visited several relatives.

When they started getting sick, doctors isolated the woman and tested her for coronavirus. Initially, the young woman tested negative for the virus, but a follow-up test was positive. All five of her relatives developed Covid-19 pneumonia, but as of 11 February, the young woman still had not developed any symptoms, her chest CT remained normal and she had no fever, stomach or respiratory symptoms, such as cough or sore throat. Scientists in the study said if the findings are replicated, “the prevention of Covid-19 infection could prove challenging”.

World Health Organization officials have praised China’s lockdown of millions of people as helping to buy time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus. But as hot spots emerge around the globe, such as South Korea and Iran, health officials are having difficulty finding and isolating the first source of the virus – the so-called index case. This is fuelling concern that the disease has begun spreading too widely for tried-and-true public health steps to stamp it out. “A number of spot fires occurring around the world is a sign that things are ticking along, and what we are going to have here is probably a pandemic,” said Ian Mackay, who studies viruses at the University of Queensland in Australia.

[..] Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University medical centre in Nashville, who was not involved in the Zhengzhou University study, said the Wuhan woman’s case provided a “natural laboratory” to study Covid-19. “Scientists have been asking if you can have this infection and not be ill? The answer is apparently, yes,” he said. “You had this patient from Wuhan where the virus is, traveling to where the virus wasn’t,” he said. “She remained asymptomatic and infected a bunch of family members and you had a group of physicians who immediately seized on the moment and tested everyone.”

Read more …

“China, which officially has over 76,000 cases, had just 397 cases, while South Korea with just 204 cases, had an increase of 142, or about a third of all of China’s new cases..”

COVID19 Mortality Rate Hits New Lifetime High Of 3.0% (ZH)

[..] as China scrambles to goal seek its propaganda number, the world’s attention has shifted to what has emerged as the second coronavirus hotspot, South Korea, where the number of cases is certainly not doctored, pardon the bad pun, and where there is a truly exponential increase in new cases, which are now doubling with every passing day in a terrible, if accurate, representation of what indeed happens when there is a viral epidemic. Late on Friday we got painfully clear example of just this when China reported that on Feb 21, there were just 397 new Coronavirus cases bringing the total to 76,288, a plunge of more than 50% from the previous day’s adjusted increase of 889 and a number which is now completely meaningless in light of what has become a daily adjustment by China.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths, which China has so far failed to revise (but will surely try before this is all over), rose by 109 to 2345, and with the number of cases barely rising, it also means that the mortality rate his now hit a new lifetime high of 3.0%. Which also means that China has to pick: keep fabricating the number of cases while the real deaths keep rising and the mortality rate creep ever higher, or change the definition of death. So if Chinese data is now meaningless (and the only thing that matters is if and when its economy will come back on line), there is South Korea, and it is here that things have turned south quick.

Or rather north if one follows the latest number of cases, because one day after total South Korean cases doubled (having doubled the day before that, and again the day prior), on Saturday South Korea reported that there was another stunning increase in the total number of cases which rose by 142 in one day, a 70% increase from the prior day, to a new high of 346; Putting this stunning increase in context, China, which officially has over 76,000 cases, had just 397 cases, while South Korea with just 204 cases, had an increase of 142, or about a third of all of China’s new cases! South Korea also reported its second coronavirus linked death.

With the number of people in South Korea being tested for coronavirus surging to 5,481, up from 3,180 last night, it is virtually certain that this exponential increase in new confirmed cases will last for quite a while, perhaps even longer than China’s, unless of course, South Korea learns from Beijing just how to change the “definition” of cases and fast. Thanks to South Korea, the number of cases in the top 7 countries outside China with the most cases, including Iran, and excluding the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, is close to turning exponential as well.

Read more …

Italy has two separate issues. A cluster of 15 cases in Lombardy, and a death in Padua, 250km from there.

Italy Reports 1st Virus Death, Cases More Than Quadruple (AP)

Italy reported its first death from the new virus from China early Saturday and the number of people infected more than quadrupled due to a cluster of cases that prompted officials to order schools, restaurants and businesses to close. State-run RAI television reported a 78-year-old man, one of two people in northern Veneto region to have been infected, died Friday. Italian news agencies ANSA and LaPresse also reported the death, citing the Veneto regional president, Luca Zaia. In Lombardy, at least 14 new cases were confirmed, representing the first infections in Italy acquired through secondary contagion and bringing the country’s total to 19.

The cluster was located in a handful of tiny towns southeast of Milan, said Lombardy regional health chief Giulio Gallera. “This was foreseeable even if we hoped it wouldn’t have happened,” Gallera said. The first to fall ill was a 38-year-old Italian who met with someone who had returned from China on Jan. 21 without presenting any symptoms of the new virus, health authorities said. That person was being kept in isolation and appears to present antibodies to the virus.

Read more …

15 tested positive, 5 of them doctors.

10 Italian Towns In Lockdown Over Coronavirus Fears (IBT)

Authorities in northern Italy on Friday ordered the closure of schools, bars and other public spaces in 10 towns following a flurry of new coronavirus cases. Five doctors and 10 other people tested positive for the virus in Lombardy, after apparently frequenting the same bar and group of friends, with two other cases in Veneto, authorities said at a press conference. Over 50,000 people have been asked to stay at home in the areas concerned, while all public activities such as carnival celebrations, church masses and sporting events have been banned for up to a week. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said “everything is under control”, and stressed the government was maintaining “an extremely high level of precaution”.

Streets in the towns were deserted, with only a few people seen abroad, and signs showing public spaces closed. In Casalpusterlengo, a large electronic message board outside the town hall read “Coronavirus: the population is invited to remain indoors as a precaution”. The first town to be shuttered was Codogno, with a population of 15,000, where three people tested positive for the virus, including a 38-year old man and his wife, who is eight months pregnant. Three others there have tested positive to a first novel coronavirus test and are awaiting their definitive results. Codogno mayor Francesco Passerini said the news of the cases “has sparked alarm” throughout the town south of Milan. The 38-year old, who works for Unilever in Lodi, was in a serious condition in intensive care. Some 250 people were being placed in isolation after coming into contact with the new cases, according to the Lombardy region, and 60 workers at Unilever have been tested for the virus.

Read more …

I see chaos in your future…

US Prepares For Coronavirus Pandemic, School And Business Closures (R.)

U.S. health officials on Friday said they are preparing for the possibility of the spread of the new coronavirus through U.S. communities that would force closures of schools and businesses. The United States has yet to see community spread of the virus that emerged in central China in late December. But health authorities are preparing medical personnel for the risk, Nancy Messonnier, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told reporters on a conference call. In coming weeks, if the virus begins to spread through U.S. communities, health authorities want to be ready to adopt school and business closures like those undertaken in Asian countries to contain the disease, Messonnier said.

“We’re not seeing community spread here in the United States yet, but it’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen,” Messonnier said. “Our goal continues to be to slow the introduction of the virus into the U.S. This buys us more time to prepare communities for more cases and possibly sustained spread.” The CDC is taking steps to ensure frontline U.S. healthcare workers have supplies they need, she added, by working with businesses, hospitals, pharmacies and provisions manufacturers and distributors on what they can do to get ready. [..] The United States currently has 13 cases of people diagnosed with the virus within the country and 21 cases among Americans repatriated on evacuation flights from Wuhan, China, and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, CDC said.

Read more …

And how does the US prepare? By showing solidarity.

Judge Blocks Transfer Of 50 Coronavirus Patients To Costa Mesa (CBS)

A federal judge Friday granted the city of Costa Mesa’s temporary restraining order requesting to block as many as 50 confirmed coronavirus patients from being transferred to the city. Federal court papers filed Friday state that the federal government planned to transfer the patients from Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento to the former Fairview Developmental Center on Sunday or Monday. Thursday night, Costa Mesa city officials began hearing of the plan by the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC to move between 30 and 5o patients to the state-owned land. Some of the patients are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship from which more than 300 U.S. citizens were removed Monday.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said the city was surprised to learn that the Fairview Developmental Center was being considered for a group of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus, and city leaders filed an injunction to block the transfer in an effort to protect residents. “We have a lot of activity in the area,” she said. “So, it’s not the kind of area that’s isolated and that would be appropriate for quarantining people who have an infectious disease.” The largest concern was the lack of information, despite the fact that the patients were expected to arrive in a matter of days, said Costa Mesa fire chief Dan Stefano. “There has not been an information flow, and in a situation like that, for us, it creates the greatest concern,” he said.

Read more …

Wise. But very late. Still, France will do better than most EU coutries if a pandemic hits; it’s more self-reliant.

France Should Use Virus Outbreak To Reduce Reliance On China – FinMin (RT)

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire has warned that the outbreak of the coronavirus should act as a catalyst for France to begin reducing its “dependence” on China for certain goods. Meeting with business figures on Friday, Le Maire said the crisis would have a 0.1 percent impact on France’s GDP growth in 2020, assuming the outbreak is reaching its peak. While the number seems small, it is significant considering the fact that yearly GDP growth is usually in the small single digits. Le Maire announced a series of short-term measures to limit the impact of the slowdown caused by the epidemic. The ministry is also looking into the possibility of using the coronavirus as a ‘force majeure’ to allow certain French companies to free themselves from contractual obligations, Les Echos reported.

“We need to grasp this epidemic to question ourselves on our strategic dependence, in terms of supply, on certain industrial sectors,” Le Maire said, pointing to the automobile and health sectors in particular and noting that almost 80 percent of active ingredients for drugs are produced in China. Ultimately, he said, the coronavirus crisis could be an opportunity for France to “draw good from evil” by fixing vulnerabilities in supply. Le Maire’s comments indicate that reliance on Chinese goods is all well and good in normal circumstances, but this quickly changes in times of crisis. Germany also warned on Friday that the coronavirus crisis could impact its economy due to its dependence on Chinese supply chains.

Read more …

Here’s where Bernie’s desperation shines through: “Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend.” He lost me forever with that cheap innuendo.

And while we’re talking viruses, US intelligence looks very much like the immune system that turns against the body it’s supposed to protect.

Note how the Guardian says “US officials”, not “US intelligence (officials)”.

Michael Tracey: “One of the wealthiest men on Earth is plotting to steal the nomination, the Dem Party cannot even run a caucus in Iowa, corporate media can arbitrarily decide to marginalize candidates at will, but we’re supposed to panic again about Russian bots on Twitter? Ludicrous freak show”

Bernie Sanders Told By US Officials That Russia Supports His Campaign (G.)

US officials have told Bernie Sanders that Russia is trying to help his campaign, prompting the frontrunner in the Democratic race to strongly condemn any interference. Republican Donald Trump and US lawmakers have also been informed about the Russian assistance to Sanders, said a report in the Washington Post, which cited unnamed people familiar with the matter and first broke the news. It was not clear what form the Russian assistance had taken, the paper added. Facebook said it had seen no evidence of Russian support for Sanders on its platform. However, the Vermont senator denounced the reported efforts by Moscow to interfere with the 2020 election on his behalf.

“Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend. He is an autocratic thug who is attempting to destroy democracy and crush dissent in Russia,” Sanders said of the Russian president. “Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election.” Sanders also suggested some of the online vitriol frequently blamed on his supporters may be coming from Russia. “Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters,” Sanders said.

The news follows similar warnings from the intelligence community that Russia has also sought to boost Trump’s re-election campaign. On Friday Trump sought to play down those developments and revive old grievances in claiming that Democrats are determined to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency. Trump claimed on Twitter that Democrats were pushing a “misinformation campaign” in hopes of politically damaging him.

Read more …

“..The New York Times, a figment machine so demented that it has come to resemble the proverbial crazy aunt locked in the attic.”

Keep Throwing Spaghetti at That Wall (Kunstler)

We’re reminded this morning by The New York Times, America’s official psychotic fantasy generator, that the Russians are coming (again!) as an ad hoc arm of the committee to re-elect Mr. Trump. You have to ask yourself: Does Mr. Trump actually need their help? His opponents have been self-meddling so diligently that their party now looks like a Frankenstein creature assembled from the spare parts of Herbert Marcuse, Tupac Shakur, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, and Jame Gumb. Imagine that monster running a government. If Vlad Putin happened to express an aversion to the idea at an international cocktail party, can you really blame him? Plenty of Americans surely feel the same way. Anyway, the Times’ story never gets around to saying much about the alleged new Russian campaign besides this:

‘They have made more creative use of Facebook and other social media. Rather than impersonating Americans as they did in 2016, Russian operatives are working to get Americans to repeat disinformation, the officials said. That strategy gets around social media companies’ rules that prohibit ‘inauthentic speech.’”

Wow, that’s pretty scary! Except when you consider that Americans have done a crackerjack job of mind-fucking themselves with disinformation the past several years, coincidentally via this very The New York Times, a figment machine so demented that it has come to resemble the proverbial crazy aunt locked in the attic. The true wonder is the Times’ poverty of imagination, reviving a tattered cockamamie story that bombed abjectly the first time around. I suppose, in a culture addicted to stupid sequels, they expect Robert Mueller will be called back on-duty to sort this one out like he did so nicely before.

Actually, you could make a credible argument that the vaunted US “Intel Community” is a bigger threat to American life than anything the Russians might do on Facebook. Hence, the good news that Mr. Trump has just appointed Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, to the pivotal job as Director of National Intelligence, a position created in 2004 to supposedly coordinate the farflung activities of seventeen armies of spooks and snoops, lately notorious for feeding disinformation to The New York Times and its “Resistance” media allies.

Read more …

Grenell was picked to clean up US intel. What a job to have. As Schumer said: Six ways from Sunday.

Grenell “has also been dismissive of the threat of Russia’s meddling in the US…

Let’s get that blasphemist!

Intelligence Community Feels Impact Of Trump’s Diplomatic ‘Disruptor’ (CNN)

Richard Grenell, the newly installed acting director of American spy agencies and loyalist to President Donald Trump, began his temporary tenure by moving aggressively to put his stamp on the intelligence community that Trump has repeatedly attacked. Grenell ousted a veteran intelligence officer on Friday who served as the number two at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to The New York Times, and on Thursday he brought on board a former staffer of Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican who’s a staunch Trump ally. He also asked to see the intelligence behind the classified briefing last week where lawmakers were told Russia was interfering in the 2020 election to aid Trump, the Times reported.

Present and past colleagues, as well as diplomats who have tussled with him, describe Grenell as an aggressive, intelligent and caustic operator who loves to pick a fight, air the drama on Twitter and make sure everyone in the room knows his loyalty lies first and foremost with the President. Trump’s discovery that intelligence officials had briefed the bipartisan group of lawmakers on Russia’s efforts led him to angrily jettison acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Wednesday and install Grenell in his place. Donald Trump Jr. suggested to CNN on Friday that Grenell’s commitment to the President was a factor in his selection and said he looks forward to having “an honest dealer” leading the intelligence community.

“All I want is honesty in these places. Whether it’s the Justice Department, whether it’s there, I just want people who aren’t partisan hacks,” Trump Jr said, adding that he believes Grenell [..] will be the same kind of disruptive force within the intelligence community that he has been diplomatically. Given Trump’s troubled relationship with the intelligence community, which he has publicly denigrated and undermined, numerous former administration officials said they are concerned that Grenell was appointed to “clean house” and purge the government of those deemed to be leakers or whistleblowers. A spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, said in a Thursday statement that Grenell “has also been dismissive of the threat of Russia’s meddling in the US, a fact that is doubly concerning as Germany is one of our closest and most important allies in pushing back on Russian aggression on the world stage.”

Read more …

A bit more Grenell. Because you’re going to hear a lot about him. US intel doesn’t want to be cleaned up.

Trump’s New Intel Chief Was A Trump Critic In 2016 (Pol.)

President Donald Trump’s new acting director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, has for years been a vocal Trump loyalist, using his Twitter account to boost the president’s policies on everything from 5G and NATO to the Iran deal and the economy. But Grenell wasn’t always a Trump supporter: In 2016, before the New York real estate mogul became the GOP presidential nominee, Grenell called Trump “dangerous” and spoke out regularly in favor of then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich, according to deleted tweets recovered via a joint inquiry by POLITICO and the cybersecurity firm Nisos. “He’s dangerous!” read one deleted Grenell tweet from March 24, 2016, the day Trump tweeted that “NATO is obsolete and must be changed to additionally focus on terrorism as well as some of the things it is currently focused on!”

The tweets underscore a key irony of the Trump era: Some of the president’s fiercest critics during the 2016 race have since transformed into his most passionate defenders, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned that Trump would be an “authoritarian president”; GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, who denounced Trump as “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” who would destroy the Republican Party; and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who called Trump a “terrible human being” right before the 2016 election. Grenell seems to have undergone a similar evolution.

“Trump is dangerous. Wake up. He’s reckless,” he replied on another occasion to a user who had written “vote Trump.” He urged his followers to read Trump’s interview with The Washington Post editorial board, in which Trump said, “I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved … I’m not even knocking it, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s fair, we’re not treated fair.”

[..] he does appear to have atoned for his anti-Trump commentary. He began supporting Trump publicly after he became the GOP nominee, writing in June 2016 that he would support the Republican candidate over Hillary Clinton and, in August, that the election “is a choice between 5,000 conservative appointees and 5,000 liberal appointees.” He also began to mock reports that said Russia had interfered in the election to boost Trump’s candidacy, writing in December 2016: “[T]hose Russians must have demanded that Hillary not campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, too.” And he promoted the WikiLeaks disclosures, praising news organizations that reported extensively on the hacked DNC materials and criticizing those that didn’t.

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And not even Stone supporters get it right: “..WikiLeaks, the website that eventually leaked the DNC’s hacked emails”. THEY WERE NOT HACKED!

Lady Justice Spurns Her Blinders For Trump Associates (AmG)

The claim sounded like something from Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) or Rachel Maddow or any number of Russian collusion propagandists: “He was not prosecuted for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” Those words, however, were not uttered on MSNBC but rather in a federal courtroom by Amy Berman Jackson, a U.S. district court judge seated in the nation’s capital, whose job is to ensure the fair administration of justice based on the rule of law. The “he” Jackson was referring to is Roger Stone, a Trump confidant; the “president,” of course, is Donald Trump.

Now, Stone wasn’t charged with covering up for the president nor did the indictment against him suggest as much. There was nothing to “cover up” as election collusion is a fantasy concocted by the Democrats and the news media. But the Obama-appointee was on a roll; facts, at that point, didn’t matter to Jackson. (In a tweet Thursday morning, Schiff echoed Jackson’s evidence-free remark, claiming Stone “did it to cover up for Trump.”) Her absurd and blatantly political accusation from the bench was just part of Jackson’s 40-minute monologue Thursday morning prior to sentencing Stone to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress, obstructing justice, and witness tampering. (The loquacious judge doesn’t like competition; she put a gag order on Stone last year that is still in effect.)

The seven charges against Stone stemmed from Robert Mueller’s investigation into nonexistent collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The Justice Department accused Stone of thwarting a similar investigation conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, then headed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The case against Stone is rooted in the claim that the Russians hacked the email system of the Democratic National Committee—an intrusion, it’s important to note, that is backed up solely by an analysis conducted by CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm. The politically connected company was hired to investigate the breach in the spring of 2016 by Perkins Coie, the same law firm that hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Trump.

The DNC refused to surrender any devices or data to the FBI, despite several requests by then-director James Comey. Stone allegedly, in no small measure due to his own boasting, was in touch with WikiLeaks, the website that eventually leaked the DNC’s hacked emails. His concealment of communications related to WikiLeaks earned Stone and his wife an early-morning FBI raid at their home in January 2019 as the CNN news cameras rolled.

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Time for the candidates to murder each other.

Twitter Suspends 70 Pro-Bloomberg Accounts Over ‘Platform Manipulation’ (R.)

Twitter Inc on Friday said it had started suspending and restricting dozens of accounts posting content promoting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. “We took enforcement action on about 70 accounts, which includes a combination of permanent suspensions and account challenges to verify ownership,” a Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters. [..] Twitter said the accounts violated its platform manipulation and spam policy, which prohibits coordination among accounts to amplify or disrupt conversation by using multiple accounts. This can refer to creating several accounts to post duplicative content but also includes “coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.”

The billionaire candidate’s campaign, which has been pouring unparalleled amounts of money into an online advertising campaign, is also hiring hundreds of digital organizers to support the candidate, including by pushing content to their own social media channels. The Wall Street Journal reported that these organizers in California receive $2,500 a month to promote Bloomberg’s candidacy through actions such as posting on social media to their own networks. This month, a paid partnership between the former New York mayor’s campaign and popular Instagram meme accounts pushed Facebook Inc to announce it was allowing U.S.-based political candidates to run branded or sponsored content on its social networking platforms.

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Gloria Allred had this bus drive past Buckingham Palace.




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Apr 052019

Pablo Picasso Crucifixion 1930



President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500.



Mr. President,

I write to you because I’m seeing something unfold that concerns you, and I have no way of knowing if you’re aware of it, nor have I seen anyone else mention it. That is, sir, you are being set up, a trap is being set for you, and unless you are aware of it, you may well walk into that trap eyes wide open.

It may not be in your briefing this morning, but the WikiLeaks organization has reported that high-ranking Ecuadorean state officials have told them Julian Assange will be expelled from their London embassy in a matter of “hours to days”. Now, I don’t know what your personal opinion is of Mr. Assange, maybe you think he deserves punishment for leaking secret files to the public.

Your personal opinion of Mr. Assange, however, is not the most important issue here, no offense. What’s most important to your own situation, as well as that of Mr. Assange, is that the people who are after him are the very same people who have been after you for 3 years, and who will double their efforts after suffering a huge loss due to Robert Mueller’s No Collusion report.

What the trap set for you consists of is that if you let these -largely anonymous- deep state actors get their hands on Mr. Assange, you will greatly empower them (even further). But, sir, his enemies inside US intelligence are the same as yours, and empowering one’s enemies is not the way to do battle.


We know they are the same people because of Robert Mueller. Mr. Assange was the only way Mr. Mueller could think of to link you to “the Russians”. This is a narrative built upon the -false- notion that “Russians” hacked the DNC servers and sent the contents to Mr. Assange. The narrative has been fully discredited by multiple voices multiple times, but Mr. Mueller has never retracted it.

For good reason: this way he -and others- can leave the story, and suspicion, open that there is a link between you, Mr. Assange and the Russians, despite the Mueller report’s no collusion conclusion. And do note: it not only maintains the popular and media suspicion of Mr. Assange, it also leaves suspicion of you alive.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray explained the intricacies -again- a few days ago:


Muellergate and the Discreet Lies of the Bourgeoisie

Robert Mueller repeats the assertion from the US security services that it was Russian hackers who obtained the DNC emails and passed them on to Wikileaks. I am telling you from my personal knowledge that this is not true. Neither Mueller’s team, not the FBI, nor the NSA, nor any US Intelligence agency, has ever carried out any forensic analysis on the DNC’s servers. The DNC consistently refused to make them available. The allegation against Russia is based purely on information from the DNC’s own consultants, Crowdstrike.

William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA (America’s US$40 billion a year communications intercept organisation), has proven beyond argument that it is a technical impossibility for the DNC emails to have been transmitted by an external hack – they were rather downloaded locally, probably on to a memory stick. Binney’s analysis is fully endorsed by former NSA systems expert Ed Loomis. There simply are no two people on the planet more technically qualified to make this judgement. Yet, astonishingly, Mueller refused to call Binney or Loomis (or me) to testify. Compare this, for example, with his calling to testify my friend Randy Credico, who had no involvement whatsoever in the matter, but Mueller’s team hoped to finger as a Trump/Assange link.

The DNC servers have never been examined by intelligence agencies, law enforcement or by Mueller’s team. Binney and Loomis have written that it is impossible this was an external hack. Wikileaks have consistently stressed no state actor was involved. No evidence whatsoever has been produced of the transfer of the material from the “Russians” to Wikileaks. Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA documents shows that the planting of false Russian hacking “fingerprints” is an established CIA practice. Yet none of this is reflected at all by Mueller nor by the mainstream media. “Collusion” may be dead, but the “Russiagate” false narrative limps on.


Mr. Trump, sir, I don’t doubt you have realized by now that you are not rid yet of Robert Mueller. But Mr. Mueller is but one cog in the large wheel of intelligence running against you. Yes, the same wheel that runs against Mr. Assange. I’m sure you recognize that it’s hugely ironic, but there is a for now unbreakable bond between the two of you.

Not because of anything you did yourselves, but because Russiagate conspirators in the media, the Democratic party and the intelligence community have created it. And you need to be careful on account of that bond, because they’re going to -try to- use it against you.

I may be a lot more sympathetic to Mr. Assange than you are, but as I said before, this has nothing to do with personal opinion. This is about a trap being set for you. And Mr. Assange is an important part of that trap.

Through him, and especially if they keep him incommunicado, they can keep Russiagate alive, which allows for hundreds of billions of dollars in annual arms expenditures and the 24/7/365 threat of war.

Without the empty allegations against Mr. Assange, Robert Mueller would have had to drop his probe much earlier, but in keeping the allegations alive by silencing Mr. Assange, Russiagate can live on, because the link between Russian hackers and WikiLeaks can be left hanging in the air. And that, Mr. President, will be bad news for you, whether you like it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not.


We haven’t talked about the media yet, but there’s another giant irony in the US media clamoring about press freedom, and using it to smear you for 3 years, but not saying a single word to defend that same freedom when it comes to Mr. Assange. They, too, will continue to haunt you, using Mr. Assange as their bait. Don’t let them.

I don’t know what you intend to do about Russiagate and its main perpetrators, but I do know you can make things much easier for yourself if you solve the Assange conundrum first. And you can’t do that by allowing your own enemies to get their hands on him and rendition him; that will backfire on you.

You could pardon him, but that may be a step too far for you at this point. It might be better to simply allow him to go home to Australia.

What would amuse me to no end is if you would personally nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize. That would piss off so many of your enemies it would be a sight to see. The biggest bird you can flip them all. And then after that, you know, go talk to Vladimir Putin and tell him you’re sorry for all this bad theater.

There’s this scene in the Godfather where Marlon Brando as the ageing Don tells Al Pacino how to recognize the traitor in his own midst: the one who suggests setting up a meeting. This is very similar: whoever comes to you to suggest the harshest treatment of Julian Assange, will be the one(s) intent on coming after you too.

One last thing, Mr. President: Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are among the best, brightest and bravest people our world has to offer. We need people like them, and we need them badly. And it’s a lot more stupid than it is simply ironic, that they are the ones we are locking up and silencing. That way America will never be great again, guaranteed.

And you, sir (I know, more irony) may be their -and our- best and even last hope. You have the power to set free our best. Please use it wisely. And Mr. President, sir, be careful out there.

Know your enemies.





Jul 252018
 July 25, 2018  Posted by at 8:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »

Ivan Aivazovsky Lake Maggiore 1892


Trump Downbeat Ahead Of Trade Talks With EU (R.)
Trump’s $12 Billion Aid For Farmers Risks Unintended Consequences (CNBC)
ECB To Hold Steady Amid Heightened Risks Of A Trade War (CNBC)
Alphabet May Become The Berkshire Hathaway Of The Internet Age (CNBC)
Brexit: Raab ‘Sidelined’ As May Takes Control Of EU Negotiations (G.)
“Cliff Edge” Brexit Threatens $34 Trillion of Derivative Contracts (DQ)
UK Ministers Set To Be Given New Powers To Block Foreign Takeovers (G.)
Offshore Owners Of British Property To Be Forced To Reveal Names (G.)
The Greedy Little Nation That Sold Its Soul For House Prices (MB)
When America Was Ruled by a King (Davis)
Moon-Strzok No More, Lisa Page Spills the Beans (McGovern)
Novichok Victim Found Substance Disguised As Perfume In Sealed Box (G.)
US Intelligence Community as a Collapse Driver (Dmitry Orlov)
Holiday Hunger Should Be The Shame Of This Government And It Isn’t (G.)



The EU doesn’t have a lot of room to move. It’s made of tariffs, barriers and subsidies.

Trump Downbeat Ahead Of Trade Talks With EU (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump took a pessimistic view of talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set for Wednesday aimed at averting a trade war. In a tweet on Tuesday night, Trump said both the United States and the European Union should drop all tariffs, barriers and subsidies. “That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade!” Trump said. “Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!” he said. Trump has accused the EU of unfair trade practices and has threatened to raise tariffs on cars imported from the bloc.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who will accompany Juncker, said last week that the EU was preparing a list of U.S. products to hit if the United States imposed the tariffs. Juncker will not arrive in Washington with a specific trade offer, the commission said on Monday. “I do not wish to enter into a discussion about mandates, offers because there are no offers,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference in Brussels. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has said he expected Juncker to come with a “significant” trade offer.

Read more …

EU agriculture is built on enormous subsidies. No way they can let much of that go. Imagine the protests in France. Perhaps countries, but certainly continents should focud on producing their own food, not export it. But then the tiny Netherlands is the 2nd biggest tomato exporter in the world. That’s quite an applecart to upset.

Trump’s $12 Billion Aid For Farmers Risks Unintended Consequences (CNBC)

According to the statement from the USDA, the administration “will take several actions to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.” The plan authorizes the agency to spend “up to $12 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. These programs will assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.” “Our farmers, our producers, they don’t want bailouts,” Simon Wilson, executive director of the North Dakota Trade Office, told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Tuesday. “They don’t want this help in the short term. They want long-term stability.”

Wilson added, “A lot of people have been hurt, so that’s a lot of money that’s going to have to be shared.” Payments under the largest part of the federal government’s relief plan would be targeted to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. Some experts have warned in the past that government aid or new subsidies could distort or disrupt markets and ultimately have negative consequences for the agriculture industry. That also includes the possibility it could lead to more retaliation on other agricultural exports.

In any event, Glauber said the program is likely to be taken as “producer support” and appears to be targeted toward a drop in the market price of certain commodities, meaning it could get counted against the U.S. commitments from the WTO. “We’ve run pretty low levels of [producer] support in recent years, but it will certainly raise a lot of eyebrows and will make people look at those calculations very, very carefully,” said Glauber. “It also will look at the way we formulate those programs very, very carefully.”

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With Brexit and Trump in its face, the ECB is pretty much stuck.

ECB To Hold Steady Amid Heightened Risks Of A Trade War (CNBC)

After a surprisingly dovish meeting in June, the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to strike a more balanced tone this week, given heightened uncertainties for the global economy. The focus will be on the ECB‘s assessments of these risks at its meeting Thursday, with investors concerned of the acute risk of a trade war escalation. “We expect Mario Draghi to aim for a ‘Goldilocks’ tone at the July 26 press conference — not too hawkish, not too dovish,” said Mark Wall, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank, in a research note. “The ECB only recently made a commitment to unchanged rates for the next year to lean against trade and volatility risks and avoid an unwarranted tightening of financial conditions.”

The ECB has committed itself to stop buying new bonds at the end of this year, but the onus clearly now is on the reinvestment of these purchases (as part of its crisis-era stimulus program) and its refined rate guidance. The euro zone’s central bank pledged to keep its key interest rate at minus 0.4 percent “at least through the summer of 2019” during its last meeting. The risks now are that the ECB is unwinding its monetary stimulus right at a time when the economy could head south. For now, its seems the ECB is convinced the region’s economy will remain resilient.

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Building empires.

Alphabet May Become The Berkshire Hathaway Of The Internet Age (CNBC)

Alphabet CEO Larry Page has long admired Warren Buffett’s business acumen in creating the industrial and investment conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. And now analysts and investors are noticing Alphabet’s investments in emerging disparate businesses are starting to bear fruit — including YouTube, autonomous cars and cloud computing — drawing comparison to Berkshire Hathaway’s success. The internet giant reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings Monday, driving Alphabet shares to a new all-time high the following day. It generated adjusted earnings per share of $11.75 versus the Wall Street consensus of $9.59 for the quarter. Alphabet also posted a $1.06 billion gain in its equity investments for the time period.

“Our investments are driving great experiences for users, strong results for advertisers, and new business opportunities for Google and Alphabet,” said Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet and Google in the earnings press release Monday. As a result one well-known investor believes Alphabet has a shot of being the Berkshire Hathaway of tomorrow. “What I’m really talking about is the diversified nature of what [Alphabet is] building away from the ad platform, in much the same way as Berkshire reinvested the float from insurance premiums into other investments. I guess I am also talking in terms of longevity, not just size,” Josh Brown said in an email Tuesday. “This quarter witnessed a host of Google’s other investments throwing off profits. Larry and Sergey were very open about their intention to create something Berkshire-like when they first announced the new structure and Alphabet.”

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She can’t escape a second vote anymore. If you have 2.5 years, and you waste the first two, that’s what happens. It’s just the illusion of control.

Brexit: Raab ‘Sidelined’ As May Takes Control Of EU Negotiations (G.)

Theresa May has taken back control of crucial negotiations with Brussels from her new Brexit secretary just hours after the government published its white paper on withdrawing from the EU. The prime minister announced she would now lead the crunch talks with the EU while Dominic Raab, who was appointed two weeks ago, would be left in charge of domestic preparations, no-deal planning and legislation. The move was swiftly characterised as a “sidelining” of the Brexit secretary by No 10’s Europe unit, led by May’s chief Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, with the prime minister also taking officials from his department. In a written statement on the last sitting day of the Commons before the summer recess, May said: “I will lead the negotiations with the European Union, with the secretary of state for Exiting the European Union deputising on my behalf.

“Both of us will be supported by the Cabinet Office Europe Unit and with this in mind the Europe Unit will have overall responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations, drawing upon support from DExEU and other departments as required.” Robbins, appearing alongside Raab at the Commons’ Brexit committee, said: “The overall strategy for the conduct of these negotiations, she regards very much as her personal responsibility, now with the secretary of state very close at hand.” Raab described the changes as a “shifting of the Whitehall deckchairs” and said there would now be “one team, one chain of command” but pointed out that there would be “full assertion of ministerial accountability”.

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I’d swear it’s more. It’s dominoes.

“Cliff Edge” Brexit Threatens $34 Trillion of Derivative Contracts (DQ)

A messy, no-deal Brexit could throw 48 million insurance contracts and £26 trillion ($34 trillion) of derivatives deals into confusion. Nausicaa Delfas, head of international strategy at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told delegates at a CityUK and Bloomberg event that there were “cliff-edge” risks due to uncertainty over the legality of financial contracts extending beyond the planned Brexit date, in March. The UK government has already passed regulations that would allow European banks and insurers to maintain their UK operations under current rules after Brexit. So far, the EU has refused to reciprocate, even on a temporary basis.

The EU has also ruled out extending passporting rights to UK financial institutions after Brexit. These rights allow UK-based institutions to sell financial products from the City to investors in the 27 other EU member states. Brussels has also turned down the UK government’s latest proposal for a system of “advanced equivalence” between British and EU financial services. If the EU continues to reject a temporary permissions regime and no cooperative Brexit deal is signed by the March 29 deadline, big doubts could be raised about the viability of certain derivatives contracts. And that could seriously disrupt an already highly volatile, deeply opaque, largely unregulated $600-trillion dollar industry.

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Cue Trump.

UK Ministers Set To Be Given New Powers To Block Foreign Takeovers (G.)

Ministers will have the power to block foreign takeovers across all sectors of the British economy on national security grounds under new government proposals designed to protect some of the UK’s most important and technically advanced businesses. The business secretary, Greg Clark, wants to widen the scope of the current system, which is limited to large transactions and certain industries such as defence, to cover all UK firms including small businesses as he seeks to keep vital firms and technologies out of foreign ownership. The proposals, which will be subject to a 12-week consultation, will allow ministers to halt or unwind takeovers and even the smallest asset sales that could be deemed to jeopardise Britain’s national security.

Potential targets under the new rules are likely to be Chinese and Russian takeovers of defence-related industries. Technology firms, including cybersecurity businesses that already have links with the Ministry of Defence, or are viewed as crucial to the development of the UK’s financial and commercial defence systems, are also expected to top the list of ministers’ national security concerns. Clark allowed the £74m takeover of the handset maker Sepura by the Hytera Corporation of China last year, making it only the second review of a transaction on national security grounds in 18 months, after the MoD raised concerns this month over the sale of Northern Aerospace to a Chinese buyer. The Competition and Markets Authority later cleared the Northern Aerospace transaction, by which time it had lapsed.

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Why would you want faceless foreigners owning your real estate?

Offshore Owners Of British Property To Be Forced To Reveal Names (G.)

Offshore owners of British property will be forced to reveal their true identities or face jail sentences and unlimited fines under draft laws that aim to end the UK’s reputation as a high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering. The legislation follows years of scandals involving the acquisition of high-value UK property by offshore companies, and concerns that a lack of regulation was allowing corrupt money into the housing market. The National Crime Agency said three years ago that overseas criminal gangs were using British property transactions to launder billions of pounds in corrupt funds. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee went further earlier this year, saying that corrupt Russian funds laundered through the UK, including via property, posed a threat to national security.

Under the new legislation, overseas companies that own UK properties will be required to identify their true owners on a publicly available register. The government said the register was part of a wider crackdown on money laundering in the property sector, and would make it easier for law enforcers to seize criminal assets. The anonymous ownership of property via offshore companies is perfectly legal, but it has also been a subject of concern for housing campaigners concerned about an influx of foreign money forcing up house prices.

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If it’s any consolation: you’re not alone.

The Greedy Little Nation That Sold Its Soul For House Prices (MB)

There was a time when Australia’s housing bubble was not much more than a curiosity. Contained mostly to Sydney it seemed it would pass with a little pop and be forgotten. Then there was a time when the bubble went national. And suddenly the little pop was going to be a big pop so monetary and fiscal policy began to distort in support of it. Next there was a time when moral hazard became so great that the bubble grew to engulf all policy and media, marginalising an entire generation from home ownership. Politicians routinely lied to cover the collapse in evidence based policy-making.

Finally, we come to today. When notions of managing the macro-economic levers of an economy now boil down to just one thing: • low interest rates to prevent the housing bubble bursting; • fiscal repair to prevent the bubble bursting, and • mass immigration to prevent the bubble bursting even though it is crushing living standards and gutting wages. [..] It’s all so bizarre. All we need to do is cut immigration and let house prices fall. There’ll be a period of adjustment while wages and the currency correct but it won’t be too bad. We’ll still be on the doorstep of Asia. The students and tourists will still come, in greater numbers than ever as we get cheaper, but they’ll also go home not pressuring living standards.

Broader tradables (40% of the economy) will boom. Commodity income will surge, lifting the Budget. Our maginalised youth will have much greater opportunities to advance their global opportunities as Dutch Disease ends. Incomes will ultimately be much more sustainable. Then we can all move on with a much healthier economy, polity, society and strategic outlook. The alternative is to sell our freedom to China, our standards of living to a few rich developers, our politics to carpet baggers and our society to fractious class wars. Just for higher house prices. If a more ignominious fate awaited any nation in history then I’m not aware of it.

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Did the US go down with Elvis? And in the same way?

When America Was Ruled by a King (Davis)

America emerged out of darkness and light – a proto-nation clouded by the genocide of native Americans and the enslavement of transshipped Africans but brilliantly shot through with shafts of luminescence – the liberal ideals of European philosophers such as Locke and Hume.The alternate red and white stripes of its flag have thus come to echo a nation born in the blood of its innocent victims yet ennobled, in parallel, by the spirit of the Enlightenment. Yet even after its ideals were enshrined in The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the country continued to countenance slavery, the trading of domestic, purpose-bred Africans and the brutal killing of native peoples and their vibrant communities.

Today, the historic and contemporary horrors of the American nation are ground together with its liberal principles (in some mythic bedrock mortar) to produce a culture that proclaims its goodness to its people and to the world, yet is visibly marbled with the evils of state violence against refugees and minorities, the economic oppression of a population paradoxically made comatose through over-consumption and the global havoc wreaked by its Imperial killing machine. It is this grand chiaroscuro that Eugene Jarecki explores in The King, 2018, his new documentary on the life, death and after-life of Elvis Presley, now in select release following its acclaimed debuts at the film festivals in Sundance and Cannes.

Read more …

The FBI as a Shakespearean comedy.

Moon-Strzok No More, Lisa Page Spills the Beans (McGovern)

Former FBI attorney Lisa Page has reportedly told a joint committee of the House of Representatives that when FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok texted her on May 19, 2017 saying there was “no big there there,” he meant there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It was clearly a bad-luck day for Strzok, when on Friday the 13th this month Page gave her explanation of the text to the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees and in effect threw her lover, Strzok, under the bus. Strzok’s apparent admission to Page about there being “no big there there” was reported on Friday by John Solomon in the Opinion section of The Hill based on multiple sources who he said were present during Page’s closed door interview.

Strzok’s text did not come out of the blue. For the previous ten months he and his FBI subordinates had been trying every-which-way to ferret out some “there” — preferably a big “there” — but had failed miserably. If Solomon’s sources are accurate, it is appearing more and more likely that there was nothing left for them to do but to make it up out of whole cloth, with the baton then passed to special counsel Robert Mueller. The “no there there” text came just two days after former FBI Director James Comey succeeded in getting his friend Mueller appointed to investigate the alleged collusion that Strzok was all but certain wasn’t there.

Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of Consortium News whom Solomon described to me last year as his model for journalistic courage and professionalism, was already able to discern as early as March 2017 the outlines of what is now Deep State-gate, and, typically, was the first to dare report on its implications. Parry’s article, written two and a half months before Strzok texted the self-incriminating comment to Page on there being “no big there there,” is a case study in professional journalism. His very first sentence entirely anticipated Strzok’s text: “The hysteria over ‘Russia-gate’ continues to grow … but at its core there may be no there there.”

Read more …

And entire article from the Guardian without blaming Russia. Wow. Story still makes little sense. Why does this guy get to talk, when the Skripals are still nowhere to be found?

Novichok Victim Found Substance Disguised As Perfume In Sealed Box (G.)

The British man poisoned with the nerve agent novichok has claimed the substance that killed his girlfriend and left him critically ill came in a bottle disguised as a legitimate perfume in a sealed box. Charlie Rowley claimed his partner, mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, fell ill within 15 minutes of spraying the bottle, which he said he had found, on to her wrists at his home in Amesbury, Wiltshire. In his first interview since he was discharged from hospital, Rowley told ITV News: “I do have a memory of her spraying it on her wrists and rubbing them together. “I guess that’s how she applied it and became ill.

I guess how I got in contact with it is when I put the spray part to the bottle … I ended up tipping some on my hands but I washed it off under the tap. “It was an oily substance and I smelled it and it didn’t smell of perfume. It felt oily. I washed it off and I didn’t think anything of it. It all happened so quick. “Within 15 minutes, Dawn said she had a headache. She asked me if I had any headache tablets. In that time she said she felt peculiar and needed to lie down in the bath. I went into the bathroom and found her in the bath, fully clothed, in a very ill state.”

Counter-terrorism detectives are working on the theory that the poisoning of Rowley and Sturgess at the end of last month is directly linked to the poisoning of the Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March. Experts from the top secret research facility at Porton Down in Wiltshire are trying to establish if the novichok was from the same batch. But if Rowley is correct about the perfume bottle being boxed and sealed, it may undermine the line of inquiry that the novichok that he and Sturgess came into contact with had been discarded by the attackers of the Skripals. It also opens up the possibility that there may yet be more novichok that has not been found in Wiltshire.

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“Intelligence”. Always good to see Dmitry.

US Intelligence Community as a Collapse Driver (Dmitry Orlov)

In today’s United States, the term “espionage” doesn’t get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans’ own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term “intelligence.” This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things. First of all, US “intelligence” is only vaguely related to the game of espionage as it has been traditionally played, and as it is still being played by countries such as Russia and China. Espionage involves collecting and validating strategically vital information and conveying it to just the pertinent decision-makers on your side while keeping the fact that you are collecting and validating it hidden from everyone else.

In eras past, a spy, if discovered, would try to bite down on a cyanide capsule; these days torture is considered ungentlemanly, and spies that get caught patiently wait to be exchanged in a spy swap. An unwritten, commonsense rule about spy swaps is that they are done quietly and that those released are never interfered with again because doing so would complicate negotiating future spy swaps. In recent years, the US intelligence agencies have decided that torturing prisoners is a good idea, but they have mostly been torturing innocent bystanders, not professional spies, sometimes forcing them to invent things, such as “Al Qaeda.” There was no such thing before US intelligence popularized it as a brand among Islamic terrorists.

Most recently, British “special services,” which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence. There are unlikely to be any more British spy swaps with Russia, and British spies working in Russia should probably be issued good old-fashioned cyanide capsules (since that supposedly super-powerful Novichok stuff the British keep at their “secret” lab in Porton Down doesn’t work right and is only fatal 20% of the time).

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A country in downfall.

Holiday Hunger Should Be The Shame Of This Government And It Isn’t (G.)

As the summer holidays begin, many families look forward to breaks away from home, in the UK and abroad. Yet for thousands of families, the six-week school break is characterised not by play schemes and day trips in the sun, but acute financial stress, hunger and malnourishment, due to the absence of free school meals for children on low incomes that costs a family £30-£40 a week. With three million children at risk of hunger during the school holidays, the Trussell Trust has warned that food bank use spikes each summer. And last year, 593 organisations running holiday clubs across the UK provided more than 190,000 meals to over 22,000 school-aged children.

Feeding Britain, the charity set up by two Labour MPs, Emma Lewell-Buck and Frank Field, expects to provide meals for 27,000 children in 79 clubs across England this summer. In pilots in 2017, it provided a total of 43,314 meals in holiday fun clubs across eight areas, including Birkenhead, South Shields and Cornwall, in the summer holidays and October half term. Feeding Britain works with existing local charities, community groups, councils and others in the community providing funding and toolkits on how to run and roll out pilots, and creates networks for practical support. The clubs run in community centres, church halls, schools, children’s centres, libraries and parks, and they host games and activities for children, alongside breakfast, lunches, and lessons about food and nutrition for the young attendees.

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Apr 092017
 April 9, 2017  Posted by at 8:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »

Paul Gauguin Avenue de Clichy 1889


Central Banks “Took Over” Markets In 2009; In December “Unwind” Begins (ZH)
‘No Bubble, No Pop’: Why Banks Are As Safe As Houses (WAus)
Greek Gloom As Economy Stalls Amid Latest Bout Of EU Wrangling (G.)
The Picture Of Our Economy Looks A Lot Like A Rorschach Test (NYT)
Steve Keen And Michael Hudson: Fixing The Economy (EI)
Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment (Robert Parry)
Former DIA Colonel: “US Strikes On Syria Based On A Lie” (IntelT)
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard On Syria (Fox)
How Marine Le Pen Could Win (Pol.)
Privacy Experts Say CIA Left Americans Open To Cyber Attacks (IBT)
Rising Waters Threaten China’s Rising Cities (NYT)



“What do credit traders look at when they mark their books? Well, these days it is fair to say that they have more than one eye on the equity market.”

Central Banks “Took Over” Markets In 2009; In December “Unwind” Begins (ZH)

Citigroup’s crack trio of credit analysts, Matt King, Stephen Antczak, and Hans Lorenzen, best known for their relentless, Austrian, at times “Zero Hedge-esque” attacks on the Fed, and persistent accusations central banks distort markets, all summarized best in the following Citi chart… have come out of hibernation, to dicuss what comes next for various asset classes in the context of the upcoming paradigm shift in central bank posture. In a note released by the group’s credit team on March 27, Lorenzen writes that credit’s “infatuation with equities is coming to an end.” “What do credit traders look at when they mark their books? Well, these days it is fair to say that they have more than one eye on the equity market.”

Understandable: after all, as the FOMC Minutes revealed last week, even the Fed now openly admits its policy is directly in response to stock prices. As the credit economist points out, “statistically, over the last couple of years both markets have been influencing (“Granger causing”) each other. But considering the relative size, depth and liquidity of (not to mention the resources dedicated to) the equity market, we’d argue that more often than not, the asset class taking the passenger seat is credit. Yet the relationship was not always so cosy. Over the long run, the correlation in recent years is actually unusual. In the two decades before the Great Financial Crisis, three-month correlations between US credit returns and the S&P 500 returns tended to oscillate sharply and only barely managed to stay positive over the long run..

Rudolf E. Havenstein@RudyHavenstein
Replying to @zerohedge
Here is a chart of the well being of the American middle-class and poor over the same period.

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“Tell a European you think there’s a housing bubble and you’ll have a reasonable discussion,” Grantham said. “Tell an Australian and you’ll have World War III…”

‘No Bubble, No Pop’: Why Banks Are As Safe As Houses (WAus)

The housing sector is therefore picking up the slack, and as far as the Westpac chair can discern the underlying demand is real. “That’s why I believe there is no bubble — there is huge demand from local and offshore buyers,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking at things like the capacity to pay interest and repay principal, so we don’t have any issues with the measures announced (on March 31). “APRA has its mandate; we have ours. But we have no interest in lending to people who can’t repay.” That’s the reasoned analysis from Norris and Maxsted, and Henry mostly concurs. If you’re after the full Catherine wheel experience, try taking the alternative position as a market-leading fund manager or economist and warning the public about an inflating property bubble. Legendary US investor Jeremy Grantham did just that, vowing in 2012 he would never do it again. “Tell a European you think there’s a housing bubble and you’ll have a reasonable discussion,” Grantham said. “Tell an Australian and you’ll have World War III. Been there, done that!”

Local economist Steve Keen entered the fray in 2009, likening the experience to “having my genitals cut off”, while hedge fund managers have lost so much money short-selling Australian banks because they expected the bubble to pop that it’s been called the “widow maker’s” trade. True to his word, Grantham failed to respond to an email inviting him to trigger World War III. Keen, who has relocated to Britain but was in Australia this week, has no such hesitation, saying it is abundantly clear that we’re in a debt-fuelled housing bubble that has only a year or two to run before it pops. “We’re in hock to the banks and we depend on endless rising levels of credit,” the economics professor says. “Credit can continue rising but eventually you reach a peak and the gas runs out.”

Denmark, according to Keen, reached its world-record peak in 2010 at a household debt-to-GDP ratio of 139 per cent. While Australia is currently at 123 per cent, the country has some headroom because the corporate sector has deleveraged and the RBA still has some policy ammunition with the 1.5 per cent cash rate. Keen reckons we have two years, at most, before unravelling in a similar, catastrophic way to Ireland in the financial crisis. However Phil Ruthven, the experienced forecaster and founder of IBISWorld, says low interest rates mean that debt servicing is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. “But we do need to increase supply, and we do need to warn home buyers of the dangers of going too deep into debt when interest rates are rising,” Ruthven says.

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“They no longer have the means to meet basic needs, with consumption of milk and bread right down and payment of electricity bills at an all-time low.”

Greek Gloom As Economy Stalls Amid Latest Bout Of EU Wrangling (G.)

Eight years into Greece’s ordeal to escape bankruptcy, thousands of Communist party sympathisers packed into Syntagma Square in Athens on Friday to protest at the latest concessions made by Alexis Tsipras’s leftist government to keep the country afloat. Massed before parliament in the fading light of day, they did what they had come to do: rail against the cuts that loom in return for further disbursement of the emergency aid now needed to avert economic collapse. The serial drama of Greece’s debt repayments will reach a climax again when loans of €7.5bn mature in July. That communist-aligned unionists can still muster such protests is testament to the party’s zealous determination to make itself heard. Most Greeks gave up demonstrating long ago.

Two years short of a decade in freefall, and with little prospect of recovery, the nation has succumbed to protest fatigue. With the exception of pensioners – the great losers in Greece’s assault by austerity – anger has been replaced by malaise, the lassitude that strikes when loss becomes commonplace. Friday’s protest, one of more than 60 nationwide, came within hours of Europe escaping another dose of Greek drama after eurozone finance ministers announced that bailout talks – stalled as Athens bickered over the terms of its latest compliance review with lenders – could finally resume. International auditors representing the bodies behind the three bailout packages the country has received since May 2010 are expected to return to Greece on Monday. Once technical issues are addressed, the delayed bailout payment will be disbursed, ensuring default is averted in July.

In exchange, the once fiercely anti-austerity Tsipras has signed up to further reforms worth €3.6bn, the equivalent of 2% of GDP, to be put into effect once the current programme ends next year. “It is in the nature of every agreement for there to be compromises,” said Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who faces the thankless task of having to sell the prospect of more pension cuts and tax rises to sceptical leftists in the ruling Syriza party when it convenes on Sunday. “There are things that will upset … the Greek people.” After more than a year of hard talk and bluster – the review was meant to have been concluded in February 2016 – the government once again conceded on its own red lines, reflecting Athens’s overarching policy of keeping Greece in the heart of the eurozone. Tsipras, who fought hard to ensure countermeasures can also be taken to offset losses if economic indicators are better than expected, was quick to sound optimistic. “The Greek economy,” he announced, “is ready to leave the crisis behind it.”

But the breakthrough falls far short of the all-inclusive package the government was hoping for. Once again, promises of reducing the country’s staggering debt pile – at 180% of GDP, the biggest impediment to real economic recovery – will have to wait. [..] Unemployment has increased from 23.2% to 23.5%, with investors – the only guarantee of soaking up such an oversupply of labour – staying away. In a repeat of the chaos that beset the country’s financial system at the height of the crisis in 2015, an estimated €2.5bn of deposits left Greek banks in January and February. Consumption is also down. “The 37% of Greeks at risk of poverty and social exclusion really cannot make ends meet,” said Aliki Mouriki, a leading Greek sociologist. “They no longer have the means to meet basic needs, with consumption of milk and bread right down and payment of electricity bills at an all-time low.”

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That’s what you get for publishing made-up reports all the time, NYT.

The Picture Of Our Economy Looks A Lot Like A Rorschach Test (NYT)

Economics has a foundation in hard numbers – employment, inflation, spending – that has largely allowed it to sidestep the competing partisan narratives that have afflicted American politics and culture. But not anymore. Since Donald J. Trump’s victory in November, consumer sentiment has diverged in an unprecedented way, with Republicans convinced that a boom is at hand, and Democrats foreseeing an imminent recession. “We’ve never recorded this before,” said Richard Curtin, who directs the University of Michigan’s monthly survey of consumer sentiment. Although the outlook has occasionally varied by political party since the survey began in 1946, “the partisan divide has never had as large an impact on consumers’ economic expectations,” he said.

At the same time, familiar economic data points have become Rorschach tests. That was evident after the government’s monthly jobs report on Friday; Republicans’ talking points centered on a 10-year low in the unemployment rate, while Democrats focused on a sharp decline in job creation. “I find it stunning, to be honest. It’s unreal,” said Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “Things that were less politicized in the past, like how you feel about the economy, have become more politicized now.” Indeed, the night-and-day views underscore yet another front on which Americans remain polarized five months after the election, and with President Trump nearing his 100th day in office.

[..] The University of Michigan researchers have their own way of measuring the gulf between the two viewpoints and how quickly it has flipped. Among Republicans, the Michigan consumer expectations index was at 61.1 in October, the kind of reading typically reported in the depths of a recession. Confident that Mrs. Clinton would win, Democrats registered a 95.4 reading, close to the highs reached when her husband was in office in the late 1990s and the economy was soaring. By March, the positions were reversed, with an even more extreme split. Republicans’ expectations had soared to 122.5, equivalent to levels registered in boom times. As for Democrats, they were even more pessimistic than Republicans had been in October.

As at the voting booth, the split in perceptions could have real-world consequences. If behavior tracks the recession-era sentiment among Democrats, who account for 32% of respondents in the survey, prophecies could quickly become self-fulfilling by affecting spending and investing decisions. “If one-third of the population cut their consumer spending by 5%, you get a recession,” said Alan Blinder, a Princeton economist who served in the Clinton administration and advised Al Gore and Hillary Clinton on economic policy during their Democratic presidential campaigns. “I don’t think it will happen, but it’s not beyond the realm of the possible.”

To be sure, even if Democratic consumers pulled back, that wouldn’t necessarily bring on a recession. A burst of spending by bullish Republicans, who equal 27% of those polled by the Michigan researchers, could counteract much of that drag. And independents, who are the largest cohort in the survey, at 41%, remain fairly optimistic about future growth. It is rare for “rising optimism to coexist with increasing uncertainty,” said Mr. Curtin, the Michigan expert. “The current level of optimism clearly indicates that no economywide spending retrenchment is underway, but the prevailing level of uncertainty will limit growth in discretionary spending.”

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Great conversation between two great economists. Very much worth a full read.

Steve Keen And Michael Hudson: Fixing The Economy (EI)

Michael Hudson: If you don’t cancel the debts, they’re going to keep growing, and all of the growth and national income is going to go to the creditors. So the fact is that the debts aren’t owed to the “we” – the 99%. The debts are owed to the 1%. 1% of the population has 75% of the financial assets. All their growth has occurred since 1980. So the question is, who are you going to save? The economy or the banks? If you don’t cancel the debts, they’re going to keep growing, and all of the growth and national income is going to go to the creditors. When President Obama came in, he promised that he was going to write down the debts – especially the junk mortgages – to the actual real value of the homes that the junk mortgage people had taken out.

Or and set the debt service – the money you have to pay every month to pay the mortgage, amortization, and principal, and interest to what the normal rental value of this would be. Well, as soon as he was elected, he dropped it all. He invited the bankers to the White House and said, boys, I’m the only guy standing between you and the pitchforks out there. Don’t worry, I can deliver my constituency to you. So, basically, the Democratic Party broke its voters into a black constituency, a women’s constituency, a LGBTQ constituency, and they’re all for Wall Street. Instead of saving the economy, Obama bailed out and saved the banks by keeping the debts in place. And once you have to pay that, it’s curtains. In the end, everybody’s going to end up in Greece. Greece is where you’re going, if you don’t.

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“I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we’re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.”

“People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known – but maybe he didn’t – and they’re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict..”

Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment (Robert Parry)

On Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a “high degree of confidence” that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province. But a number of intelligence sources have made contradictory assessments, saying the preponderance of evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were at fault, either by orchestrating an intentional release of a chemical agent as a provocation or by possessing containers of poison gas that ruptured during a conventional bombing raid. One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek “regime change” in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces.

The source said the Trump national security team split between the President’s close personal advisers, such as nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner, on one side and old-line neocons who have regrouped under National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army general who was a protégé of neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus. In this telling, the earlier ouster of retired Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and this week’s removal of Bannon from the National Security Council were key steps in the reassertion of neocon influence inside the Trump presidency. The strange personalities and ideological extremism of Flynn and Bannon made their ousters easier, but they were obstacles that the neocons wanted removed.

[..] Alarm within the U.S. intelligence community about Trump’s hasty decision to attack Syria reverberated from the Middle East back to Washington, where former CIA officer Philip Giraldi reported hearing from his intelligence contacts in the field that they were shocked at how the new poison-gas story was being distorted by Trump and the mainstream U.S. news media. Giraldi told Scott Horton’s Webcast: “I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we’re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.” Giraldi said his sources were more in line with an analysis postulating an accidental release of the poison gas after an Al Qaeda arms depot was hit by a Russian airstrike.

“The intelligence confirms pretty much the account that the Russians have been giving … which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels – now these are rebels that are, of course, connected with Al Qaeda – where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear.” Giraldi said the anger within the intelligence community over the distortion of intelligence to justify Trump’s military retaliation was so great that some covert officers were considering going public. “People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known – but maybe he didn’t – and they’re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict,” Giraldi said before Thursday night’s missile strike. “They are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the U.S. media.”

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The picture is pretty clear by now.

Former DIA Colonel: “US Strikes On Syria Based On A Lie” (IntelT)

Donald Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie. In the coming days the American people will learn that the Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib. Here is what happened.

• The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.

• The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.

• The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.

• There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.

• We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you. How do I know? I went through “Live Agent” training at Fort McClellan in Alabama.

• There are members of the U.S. military who were aware this strike would occur and it was recorded. There is a film record. At least the Defense Intelligence Agency knows that this was not a chemical weapon attack. In fact, Syrian military chemical weapons were destroyed with the help of Russia.

This is Gulf of Tonkin 2. How ironic. Donald Trump correctly castigated George W. Bush for launching an unprovoked, unjustified attack on Iraq in 2003. Now we have President Donald Trump doing the same damn thing. Worse in fact. Because the intelligence community had information showing that there was no chemical weapon launched by the Syrian Air Force. Here’s the good news. The Russians and Syrians were informed, or at least were aware, that the attack was coming. They were able to remove a large number of their assets. The base the United States hit was something of a backwater. Donald Trump gets to pretend that he is a tough guy. He is not. He is a fool.

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Tulsi is being drowned out by the trigger happy Democrats. But she actually served in the Middle East.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard On Syria (Fox)

The cost of war is profound. I’m opposed to the escalation of the counterproductive regime change war in Syria because it will lead to the deaths of more innocent men, women and children. Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, the strongest forces on the ground in Syria, will continue to increase their strength and influence over the region in the vacuum of a central government.

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The French detest their political system even more than Americans do theirs. It’s very possible abstentions will decide the elections. And Le Pen voters WILL go to the ballot box.

How Marine Le Pen Could Win (Pol.)

Could Marine Le Pen become France’s next president? A quick look at polling trends suggests that at first blush at least, the answer is “no.” [..] But for Serge Galam, a French physicist who predicted Donald Trump’s election in the United States, polls are missing out on an important factor: abstention — and specifically, how it affects voter turnout for different candidates. He argues that abstention, which a poll by CEVIPOF showed could be as high as 30%, is likely to be decisive in a “dirty” campaign dominated by scandals. “Obviously, nothing is done yet but her election is becoming very likely,” said Galam, a researcher with the French National Center for Scientific Research who also studies public opinion at the CEVIPOF political science institute. “I’m taking a scientific view of this — she needs a turnout differential of about 20% to win.”

[..] If Le Pen is projected to lose the runoff by 41 to 59%, for example, Galam argues that Le Pen could still win if the turnout rate for her voters is 90% versus 70% for her rival, for an overall turnout rate of 79%. In other words, the National Front leader could benefit because a substantial number of people who say they will vote for her rival may not actually go to the polls. Equally, if Le Pen is projected to lose by 45 to 55% in the runoff, she could win if turnout for her is 85% versus 70% for her rival, for an overall turnout of 77%. If overall turnout is 76%, then Le Pen would need a turnout of 90% versus 65% for her rival, and so on.

Some polls have Le Pen lagging behind Macron or Fillon by more than 30 percentage points, which would make her victory near impossible. But others show her within striking distance, with a lag of less than 20 points. If she can shrink the gap, then the challenge for Le Pen will be to mobilize a greater proportion of her supporters than her rivals. In this regard, Galam argues that Le Pen has a shot. For different reasons, he says, both Macron and Fillon aroused intense feelings of “aversion” among some voters, with a large proportion of Macron voters saying they could change their mind on election day. Negative or ambivalent feelings could translate into weaker turnout for them on election day.

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Newsweek wakes up to a 2 week old report from IBT.

Privacy Experts Say CIA Left Americans Open To Cyber Attacks (IBT)

WikiLeaks release of the latest cache of confidential C.I.A. documents as part of an ongoing “Vault 7” operation exposed some of the U.S. government’s hacking and digital espionage capabilities—this time having to do with iPhones and other smart devices used by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. But cyber security experts and computers scientists are raising concerns over the C.I.A.’s disregard of safety measures put in place for discovering these dangerous flaws in smart gadgets. The federal agency has kept its discovery of many exploits (software tools targeting flaws in products, typically used for malicious hacking purposes) a secret, “stockpiling” that information rather than reporting it to multinational corporations, throwing millions of Americans into the crosshairs of a dangerous, intergovernmental spying game in the process.

“What’s critical to understand is that these vulnerabilities can be exploited not just by our government but by foreign governments and cyber criminals around the world, and that’s deeply troubling,” said Ashley Gorski, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney working on the civil rights group’s national security project. “Our government should be working to help the companies patch vulnerabilities when they are discovered, not stockpiling them.” The C.I.A. knew its own classified documents had been floating around the dark web for at least a year and was well aware the hacking capabilities it was using to break into everyday tech could also have been employed by hostile foreign networks. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin reportedly orchestrated a sprawling governmental operation in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which featured several cyber attacks on email servers and devices used by members of the Democratic Party.

The government enacted the Vulnerabilities Equities Process to reduce the unnecessary stockpiling of exploits. The procedure was meant to provide guidelines for agencies like the C.I.A. for notifying companies when dangerous issues are discovered in their devices. The measure was put in place during the Obama administration to prevent cyber attacks from terrorist networks and foreign governments, including Russia and China. But the C.I.A. completely ignored the Vulnerabilities Equity Process, instead exploring ways to use exploits for their own purposes, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international nonprofit digital rights group that reviewed a copy of the practice after filing a Freedom of Information Act request. “It appears the CIA didn’t even use the [Vulnerabilities Equity Process],” said Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That’s worrisome, because we know these agencies overvalue their offensive capabilities and undervalue the risk to the rest of us.”

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There is so much wrong in China’s urbanization it’s hard to decide where to start.

Rising Waters Threaten China’s Rising Cities (NYT)

The rains brought torrents, pouring into basements and malls, the water swiftly rising a foot and a half. The city of Dongguan, a manufacturing center here in the world’s most dynamic industrial region, was hit especially hard by the downpour in May 2014. More than 100 factories and shops were inundated. Water climbed knee-high in 20 minutes, wiping out inventory for dozens of businesses. Next door in Guangzhou, an ancient, mammoth port city of 13 million, helicopters and a fleet of 80 boats had to be sent to rescue trapped residents. Tens of thousands lost their homes, and 53 square miles of nearby farmland were ruined. The cost of repairs topped $100 million. Chen Rongbo, who lived in the city, saw the flood coming. He tried to scramble to safety on the second floor of his house, carrying his 6-year-old granddaughter. He slipped. The flood swept both of them away.

Flooding has been a plague for centuries in southern China’s Pearl River Delta. So even the rains that May, the worst in the area in years, soon drifted from the headlines. People complained and made jokes on social media about wading through streets that had become canals and riding on half-submerged buses through lakes that used to be streets. But there was no official hand-wringing about what caused the floods or how climate change might bring more extreme storms and make the problems worse. A generation ago, this was mostly farmland. Three vital rivers leading to the South China Sea, along with a spider’s web of crisscrossing tributaries, made the low-lying delta a fertile plain, famous for rice. Guangzhou, formerly Canton, had more than a million people, but by the 1980s, China set out to transform the whole region, capitalizing on its proximity to water, the energy of its people, and the money and port infrastructure of neighboring Hong Kong.

Rushing to catch up after decades of stagnation, China built a gargantuan collection of cities the size of nations with barely a pause to consider their toll on the environment, much less the future impact of global warming. Today, the region is a goliath of industry with a population exceeding 42 million. But while prosperity reshaped the social and cultural geography of the delta, it didn’t fundamentally alter the topography. Here, as elsewhere, breakneck development comes up against the growing threat of climate change. Economically, Guangzhou now has more to lose from climate change than any other city on the planet, according to a World Bank report. Nearby Shenzhen, another booming metropolis, ranked 10th on that World Bank list, which measured risk as a percentage of GDP.

Shenzhen was transformed in a few decades from a small fishing village into a city of millions.

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