Jan 162024
 
 January 16, 2024  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  64 Responses »


Salvador Dalí The oecumenial council 1960

 

Trump Scores Major Election Victory (RT)
Lawfare Against Trump Is Running Out of Gas (Victor Davis Hanson)
Jan. 6 Committee Helped Guide Early Days Of Georgia Trump Probe (Pol.)
Prosecutors Are Charging Trump Using Laws Made To Fight The KKK (G.)
Ukraine Crisis Won’t End Until NATO Push Kiev to Negotiating Table (Sp.)
Zelensky Rejected Favorable Peace Deal With Russia – Arestovich (RT)
Moscow Slams Bild Report of Preparations for ‘NATO-Russia War’ (Sp.)
US Seeks Funds for Bioweapons Projects From Private Foundations (Sp.)
Israel and the U.S. Are Already Feeling the Weight of Houthi Justice (Dionisio)
US Lured Into Battlescape in Gaza, Yemen and Now Iraq (Alastair Crooke)
Red Sea Tensions May Become ‘Impossible To Contain’ – UN (RT)
UK To Send 20,000 Troops To NATO Exercise (RT)
Mega-Poll Predicts Disaster For Tories – But Reality Could Be Even Worse (G.)
Cheers to You, WEFers of Davos! (Kunstler)
‘Say it Nicer’: Hunter Makes a Familiar Last-Minute Offer to Congress (Turley)

 

 

 

 

Israel is finished- Macgregor

 

 


Mr. Fish

 

 

Elon Musk:
Destroying freedom of speech means destroying democracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historic numbers.

Trump Scores Major Election Victory (RT)

Former President Donald Trump won a landslide victory in the first Republican primary of the 2024 presidential race, taking home three times more delegates than his closest opponent and over 50% of the popular vote. With more than 95% of the votes counted following Monday’s caucus in Iowa, Trump had 51% of the electorate and 19 delegates, far ahead of Republican rivals Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, who earned 21.3% and 19.1% respectively. DeSantis won eight delegates and remained in second place, while Haley scored seven. As the race came to a close late in the evening, Trump penned a social media post thanking his supporters in Iowa, writing “I LOVE YOU ALL!” The victory comes on the heels of favorable polling for the frontrunner, with an NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey giving him an almost 30-point advantage over the other candidates.

While the same poll put former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in second place, the number two spot went to DeSantis, Florida’s current governor. Before heading home, Haley hurled a veiled criticism at Trump, telling supporters “If you want to move forward with no more vendettas, if you want to move forward with a sense of hope, join us in this caucus.” GOP newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy, meanwhile, came in fourth with 7.7% of the vote, but won no delegates. Trump’s win in Iowa follows significant campaigning in the state, vastly outdoing his showing in the 2016 race, which Texas Senator Ted Cruz ultimately won. According to the Associated Press, Trump’s team “paid special attention to building a sophisticated digital and data operation to regularly engage with potential supporters.”

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“..Both have made a mockery of their indictment of an ex-president and, if the allegations are true, will be disbarred and prosecuted..”

Lawfare Against Trump Is Running Out of Gas (Victor Davis Hanson)

We should dispense with the tired narrative that four conscientious state and federal prosecutors—independently and without contact with the Biden White House or the radical Democrats in Congress—all came to the same disinterested conclusions that Donald Trump should be indicted for various crimes and put on trial during the campaign season of 2024. The prosecutors began accelerating their indictments only once Trump started to lead incumbent Joe Biden by sizable margins in head-to-head polls. Moreover, had Trump not run for the presidency, or had he been of the same party as most of the four prosecutors, he would have never been indicted by any of them. Yet now they are in a doom loop of discovering that the more they seek to rush to judgment before the election and gag Trump from speaking publicly about these star-chamber proceedings, the more he rises in the polls.

In truth, each succeeding cycle of corrupt leftwing lawfare that ends in failure—the Russian collusion hoax, the weaponized first impeachment, trying ex-president Trump in the Senate as a private citizen, the laptop disinformation set-up, the Alfa bank ping caper, the pathetic attempt to erase Trump from state ballots, and the unfolding Fani Willis moral debacle—does not return things to zero. Rather, they serve as force multipliers for each other. Each overreach geometrically increases the dangers to democracy, ever more turns the public off, and ironically cascades sympathy and poll numbers for the very target of their paranoias. Some of the prosecutors have colluded with White House lawyers and congressional liaisons. Some had run for office, offering campaign promises to get Trump convicted for something or other.

Now, after years of delays and deadends, all four are rushing to synchronize their trial dates to ensure that the front-running Trump is on the docket daily and not out on the 2024 campaign trail. Do we recall when leftist legal eagles claimed that of all the iffy Trump indictments, Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis had the best case against Trump? The phone call, we were told, was proof of “election interference.” It was Willis who got the first Trump “mug shot.” It was Willis, we were assured, who got Trump with the goods on tape, begging election officials to “find” the requisite missing votes that would prove his victory (note that he did not say “invent” the votes but to look for a supposedly existing trove of them). And now Willis’s signature case is in shambles.

We learn, allegedly, that 1) Willis hired her stealth boyfriend Nathan Wade as a special counsel, the day before he filed for divorce (whose records were then mysteriously sealed by the court); 2) that Wade so far has received over $650,000 as special counsel, reportedly including a miraculous ability to charge for 24 hours of continuous legal service in a single day; 3) that Willis and Wade allegedly have used her greenlighted windfall to him to go on a number of pricey junkets and cruises; 4) that to try an ex-president and the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election, Willis picked Wade who had never tried a single felony case and was previously a “personal injury/accident” lawyer; 5) that the supposedly apolitical Willis had consulted with the January 6 partisan congressional special committee, while Wade had met for marathon meetings with the Biden White House legal counsel (and apparently billed Georgia taxpayers for receiving such federal tutorials).

The legal community’s initial dismissal of this sordid prosecutor’s office is reminiscent of the immediate efforts to downplay Claudine Gay’s plagiarism. But the charade will eventually end the same way, in this case with the resignation and likely indictment of the prosecutor, along with her boyfriend, who concocted quite a scheme at the expense of the taxpayers. Both have made a mockery of their indictment of an ex-president and, if the allegations are true, will be disbarred and prosecuted.

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Politico acts like this is normal.

Jan. 6 Committee Helped Guide Early Days Of Georgia Trump Probe (Pol.)

Georgia prosecutors probing Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election got an early boost in the spring of 2022. It came from another set of investigators who were way ahead of them: the House Jan. 6 select committee. Committee staff quietly met with lawyers and agents working for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in mid-April 2022, just as she prepared to convene a special grand jury investigation. In the previously unreported meeting, the Jan. 6 committee aides let the district attorney’s team review — but not keep — a limited set of evidence they had gathered. Over the next few months, committee staff also had a series of phone calls with Willis’ team. They answered the prosecutors’ questions and shared insight on matters like Trump’s false electors gambit and his efforts to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Both of those ploys ultimately featured prominently in the criminal charges that Willis brought against Trump and his allies last summer. The contacts between the committee and Willis’ team also helped prosecutors prepare for interviews with key witnesses. The content of the meetings and calls was described by two former committee officials familiar with the outreach, who were granted anonymity to speak candidly about the contacts. The timing was corroborated by exhibits attached to new court filings in Willis’ ongoing prosecution of Trump and 14 co-defendants for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The committee aided Willis’ nascent probe even as it rebuffed the Justice Department’s requests for material in the separate federal criminal probe of Trump’s election subversion.

At the time, one reason the committee was more inclined to cooperate with the Fulton County team than with the federal prosecutors was that federal prosecutors might have been required to disclose the evidence in ongoing criminal cases related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. When congressional Republicans recently pressed Willis to disclose her team’s contacts with the Jan. 6 committee, she refused, calling their inquiry an affront to “well-established principles of federalism and separation of powers.” “You cannot — and will not — be provided access to any non-public information about this,” she wrote to the House Judiciary Committee last month in a letter obtained by POLITICO. Jan. 6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) had previously described “staff-level contacts” between his panel and Fulton County prosecutors. In early April 2022 — nearly two weeks before the panel’s staff met with Willis’ team — Thompson told reporters he wasn’t aware of how extensive those contacts were. And on Wednesday, Thompson told POLITICO that he did not know about the in-person visit that spring.

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The Guardian provides a stage for Clinton tool Sidney Blumenthal.

Prosecutors Are Charging Trump Using Laws Made To Fight The KKK (G.)

On Tuesday, in response to the federal case brought by special prosecutor Jack Smith over Trump’s alleged role in the January 6 insurrection, Trump threatened a new round of violence – or “bedlam” – if he loses the election. In early February, the US supreme court will also rule on the Colorado supreme court’s decision to disqualify Trump from the state’s ballot for his part in the insurrection. The two cases might appear to be disconnected, but they are inseparable in law and history. They are united by Congress’s Reconstruction-era action to enforce the 14th amendment’s extension of constitutional rights against the former Confederates’ campaign of racial and political violence – the Ku Klux Klan Acts of 1870 and 1871.

Smith has indicted Trump under the KKK Act, which incorporates the 14th amendment, section 3, of the constitution. The Colorado court’s disqualification comes under the third section of the amendment, which disqualifies from office anyone who has engaged in insurrection against the United States. There are clear and compelling reasons why Trump has been indicted under the KKK Act and disqualified under the 14th amendment, section 3. Those reasons are stated in the indictments and court rulings. Trump has been charged on the same grounds that Klansmen were prosecuted, not only during Reconstruction but also during the civil rights era of the 1960s, and he has been removed from the ballot on the same basis as Confederate traitors were removed from elective office. Complacent commentators have dismissed the charges that Trump has brought on himself, hoping to calm the waters by vainly demonstrating their fair-mindedness. But the law is not somnambulant forever and the historical reality underlying it cannot be erased as it was in the aftermath of the dismantling of Reconstruction in a ‘lost cause’ of false conciliation.

[..] Striking at former Confederates who were commanding the Klan, the act then prescribed imprisonment of “any person who shall hereafter knowingly accept or hold any office under the United States, or any State to which he is ineligible under the third section of the fourteenth article of amendment of the Constitution of the United States … ” Under the KKK Act, Grant’s attorney general, Amos Akerman, successfully prosecuted more than 1,100 cases against members of the Klan, effectively breaking it up. In the 1872 campaign, a large faction of the national Republican party opposed the KKK Act and advocated reconciliation with the south. They called themselves the Liberal Republican party and aligned with the Democrats against Grant’s re-election. The Amnesty Act of 1872, lifting the disability of section 3, was a sop to outflank the Liberal Republicans and marked the beginning of the end of Reconstruction. Still, Grant was re-elected, winning eight southern states with a black-white coalition.

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“..they need to find a way to explain to their own population (and to NATO countries) why and how they will agree on a compromise..”

“..it will be interesting to see “how Ukrainian leaders will abandon their 10 points without saying that they are reneging on them.”

Ukraine Crisis Won’t End Until NATO Push Kiev to Negotiating Table (Sp.)

Sunday’s meeting of Western national security officials in Davos on Ukraine’s ‘peace proposal’ ended “with no clear path forward,” with British business media reporting that the only “achievement” of the talks was a “more diverse family photo than last time,” including representatives from countries with close relations with Russia such as Brazil and South Africa. “There was no progress on an actual peace deal. That would be impossible without Russia, and Russia wasn’t invited. But that’s not the point,” the Financial Times assured in a chirpy summary of the meeting, saying it was meant to “remind” other countries that “Ukraine, not Russia, is the one trying to talk about peace.”

Setting aside that this disingenuous claim ignores repeated attempts by Moscow to nip the Ukrainian crisis in the bud in 2014, prevent it from escalating into a full-fledged NATO-Russia proxy war in 2022, and to signal readiness to talk in the two years since, it’s important to recognize that the Zelensky ‘peace formula’ doesn’t even pretend to seek to include Russia in the conversation, going so far as to attempt to hold its meetings in secret. And perhaps with good reason. Zelensky’s formula demands that Russia give up Crimea, the Donbass, Zaporozhye and Kherson, pay Ukraine reparations, subject its officials and military personnel to war tribunals, and make other one-sided concessions which look less like a peace deal and more like demands against a capitulating power. Moscow has predictably dismissed the proposal, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently calling them a “figment of a sick imagination.”

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis admitted that a peace process could not be started without Russia’s participation. “One important point is to be highlighted here: Peace is no more an impossible or unspeakable word, and the idea of negotiation is again on the table. But it is important here to understand however that Ukraine’s position is still not realistic,” Jacques Sapir, director of studies at the Paris-based School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, told Sputnik. “In the mind of Kiev’s rulers, peace is to come through military victory and a reconquest by Ukrainian Armed Forces of the four oblasts (Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk and Luhansk) and of Crimea. This is the content of the so-called ‘ten point plan’,” Sapir explained, highlighting the Zelensky proposal’s keystone demand.

The analyst likens Kiev’s poker face approach as an “opening move,” and believes the Zelensky regime may be willing to pursue more “realistic” options, including the idea of having Russia actually take part in talks, particularly “as the military situation is now deteriorating for Kiev.” “Ukraine’s leaders know very well that they are not in a position to aim at complete, or even partial, victory against Russia. But they have so much talked of a ‘victory’ that they need to find a way to explain to their own population (and to NATO countries) why and how they will agree on a compromise,” Sapir said. If and when talks proceed and Kiev’s position softens, Sapir suggested that it will be interesting to see “how Ukrainian leaders will abandon their 10 points without saying that they are reneging on them.”

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“..I think we face ten or 15 years of war in Europe,” Arestovich said..”

Zelensky Rejected Favorable Peace Deal With Russia – Arestovich (RT)

Ukraine had the chance to make peace at the 2022 Istanbul talks but something or someone changed President Vladimir Zelensky’s mind, according to an interview with his former aide, Aleksey Arestovich, published on Monday. Freddie Sayers, the editor in chief of the British outlet UnHerd, interviewed Arestovich almost a year after Ukraine’s top spin doctor left Zelensky’s service. He has since moved to the US, saying that Kiev wants him arrested on politically trumped-up charges. “I was a member of the Istanbul process, and it was the most profitable agreement we could have done,” Arestovich told Sayers. The Ukrainian delegation “opened the champagne bottle” when they came back to Kiev, believing the agreement was a done deal, he added.

The protocols were “90% prepared” for a direct meeting between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Arestovich, when Zelensky called off the talks. His rejection of the talks has been widely attributed to the ‘Bucha massacre’, which Ukraine accused Russia of, but Arestovich said he did not know that for a fact. Something “absolutely” changed Zelensky’s mind and “historians will have to find an answer to what happened,” Arestovich said. “A lot of people say it was the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who came to Kiev and put a stop to this negotiation with Russia. I don’t know exactly if that is true or false. He came to Kiev, but nobody knows what they spoke about except, I think, Zelensky and Boris Johnson himself,” he told UnHerd.

Johnson’s role in scuttling the Istanbul peace talks was reported as early as May 2022 by the outlet Ukrainska Pravda. According to the outlet, he came to Kiev with “two simple messages,” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “a war criminal” who should not be negotiated with, and that even if Ukraine was ready to sign some kind of agreement with Russia, the West was not. David Arakhamia, the leader of Zelensky’s party in the Ukrainian parliament, brought up the visit in a November 2023 interview, paraphrasing Johnson’s message as telling the Ukrainians “let’s just continue fighting.” The former British PM finally commented on the matter last week, saying he merely told Zelensky the UK would support Ukraine “a thousand percent” and that any potential agreement with Russia would be “pretty sordid.” He insisted he did not “order” anyone to do anything, however.

According to Arestovich, the conflict has now evolved beyond Russia and Ukraine, pitting the collective West against the ‘Global South’. “We have to negotiate for an all-new security system for Europe, taking into account all sides of this problem,” he told UnHerd, adding that NATO would need to discuss with Russia “what it would take to guarantee not to use military force in Europe to decide political questions.” “I should perhaps add that I am absolutely pessimistic that this will happen. I think we face ten or 15 years of war in Europe,” Arestovich said.

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“..I talked to many leaders and they tell me: ‘Why are they scaring us? We understand that Russia is not going to fight with Europe.’ Yes, we are not going to [fight] now.”

Moscow Slams Bild Report of Preparations for ‘NATO-Russia War’ (Sp.)

“Germany is gearing up for “war between NATO’s forces and Russia,” which could begin in the summer of 2025, Bild has written, citing a “secret” Bundeswehr document. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commenting on the publication said it is nothing but fake news. “I would not like to comment on the report of Bild, this news outlet does not hesitate to use fake news,” Peskov told reporters. According to the alleged “training scenario” of the German Ministry of Defense, “on ‘Day X,’ NATO’s commander-in-chief will give the order to move 300,000 troops to the eastern flank, including 30,000 Bundeswehr soldiers,” the tabloid states. The escalation could reportedly begin as early as February 2024 with the start of Russia’s active offensive against the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. By June of the same year, according to Bild, Russia will have forced Kiev’s military to retreat.

The Kiev regime’s much-hyped 2023 counteroffensive which began in June suffered a resounding defeat. The Ukrainian Armed Forces lost more than 125,000 people and 16,000 units of weapons over the six-month counteroffensive, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated in late December. Without offering any specific details, the publication noted that the most likely location for a “clash” will purportedly be the so-called “Suwalki Gap” or “Suwalki Corridor” (Przesmyk suwalski). This is a section about 100 km long near the city of Suwalki in the northeast of Poland, located between Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad region. In July, according to the “secret document,” Russia might allegedly launch “cyber attacks and other forms of hybrid warfare” against the Baltic countries.

Furthermore, “clashes” would occur which Moscow ostensibly could use as a pretext to begin large-scale exercises on its territory and in Belarus, as per the authors. By October Russia could allegedly transfer troops and medium-range missiles to its Kaliningrad region, and December might see a border conflict erupt in the Suwalki Corridor. According to Bild, the “secret document” also indicates that when Washington is temporarily left without a leader as a result of the presidential elections in the United States in 2014, “Russia, with the support of Belarus, will repeat the 2014 invasion of Ukraine on NATO territory.” No further clarification is offered to these wild scenarios and off-mark references.

[..] In effect, Russia has only been responding to NATO’s continuous expansion. Moscow’s determination to protect itself and its allies has been explicitly outlined in its new foreign policy doctrine, signed by Russian President Putin on March 31, 2023. “Recently, the activity of the NATO military bloc as a whole has sharply increased. Significant forces from the United States, including aircraft, have been deployed to our borders, and the number of alliance troops in Eastern and Central Europe has increased,” Russian President Vladimir Putin stated while presiding over a Russian Ministry of Defense meeting on December 19. As for the repeated attempt to portray Russia as the “bogeyman,” he clarified: “[The US] was very frightened by Russia’s rapprochement with Europe. It should be the masters there. It kept scaring … evil Russia is threatening you. But I talked to many leaders and they tell me: ‘Why are they scaring us? We understand that Russia is not going to fight with Europe.’ Yes, we are not going to [fight] now.”

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Madmen.

US Seeks Funds for Bioweapons Projects From Private Foundations (Sp.)

The United States government is actively searching for new sources of funding for military biological research from leading American ‘philanthropic’ institutions, including the Clinton, Soros, Rockefeller and Biden Foundations, RCBD Troops chief Igor Kirillov has announced. “Based on an analysis of documents received in the course of the special military operation, the structure of the system created by the US administration for the global management of biological risks has become clear,” Kirillov said in a briefing Monday, summarizing an analysis of US military-biological activities in Ukraine and globally over the course of 2023. “It consists of government agencies and private contractors, including representatives of Big Pharma. Through the organs of the executive branch, a legislative framework is being created to finance military-biological research directly from the federal budget. Guarantees provided by the state attract funds from non-governmental organizations controlled by the Democratic Party leadership, including the Clinton, Rockefeller, Soros and Biden Foundations,” Kirillov said.

According to the RCBD Troops’ chief’s information, the main private contractors involved in the Pentagon’s military-biological program include Metabiota, Black & Veatch and CH2M, with the companies tasked with the construction of facilities and the supply of equipment to labs around the globe. Their work is coordinated by the DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. On the Big Pharma front, Pfizer, Moderna, Gilead, Dynport Vaccine, AbbVie, Parexel, Eli Lilly & Co, Merck and Battelle are identified as key partners. Washington’s goals are multifold, Kirillov said, and include the study of the causative agents of “particularly dangerous infections in regions of the world that are strategically important for the United States,” and achieving “superiority” in biomanufacturing, including by using biological espionage against potential geopolitical adversaries.

“Materials received have confirmed that the US military was set the task of monitoring the biological situation in the Middle East and Central Asia, territories bordering China, Turkiye, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” Kirillov said. “Over the past year, the Pentagon developed and adopted a number of conceptual documents involving the expansion of the foreign network of US-controlled biological laboratories, and continuing military biological research beyond America’s national jurisdiction.” Furthermore, the RCBD Troops chief said, 2023 saw the creation of new administrative and technical structures, including the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, and the State Department’s new Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy, with their main aims assumed to be centered on securing the further expansion of America’s military-biological activities worldwide.

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“..without economic stability, wars can’t be won. Even against those who arm themselves with little more than stones and sticks and a few handmade rockets..”

Israel and the U.S. Are Already Feeling the Weight of Houthi Justice (Dionisio)

For better or worse, the Houthis are the only political and military force doing anything practical to demand that Israel pay for its acts. And despite the attack on their territory, we can already say with certainty, that the Ansar Allah movement and the pro-Palestinian resistance, in general, will be strengthened by this event. Were it not for a rebel movement, made up of poor people living in great hardship, no other country in the region would do anything to bring some moral justice, however little, to this whole process. As they say, whoever has a lot, has the most to lose. Only the poor give what they need and this is a good example of that. It is even curious that here and there, apart from a few diplomatic and commercial measures, the most serious diplomatic action for Israel has come from outside the continent and the Middle East: South Africa’s accusation at the International Court of Justice that the state of Israel should be tried for genocide.

Of course, the accusation was immediately branded with the very vulgar epithet of “anti-Semitic”. But the Houthis’ role in the Red Sea has produced absolutely unpredictable and — perhaps unexpected — results for the West. The Red Sea trade route accounts for 12% of global maritime trade and 12% of all oil trade. An important part of the commercial ships that travel between the Indian Ocean and Europe pass through the Red Sea. Moreover, the importance of this route for Israel is truly decisive. The Port of Eilat essentially lives off this sea route. Disconnecting the port of Eilat from the international routes to Asia not only means that many of the goods that Israel receives from Asia will become more expensive and risk perishing, with all the economic burdens that this entails. But it also means cutting tourism, since the city of Eilat is an important tourist destination in the Middle East, and losing the competitiveness of its exports to the Asian continent.

But in the end, the financial damage might even be surmountable. What would be difficult to overcome would be the fragility in which an effective blockade of the Red Sea crossing would leave Israel.Let’s imagine a likely scenario in which the war fronts multiply and the conflict spreads to other regions (Lebanon, Syria and Yemen). Just as Oman has closed its airspace to military planes to bomb Yemen, a country like Egypt could, in a situation of great pressure and popular pressure, consider closing the Suez Canal to boats that are linked to Israel. It wouldn’t be unheard of, as we know. Oman itself has prevented U.S. military aircraft from passing through, for various reasons. One of them has to do with a certain neutrality that the sultanate is assuming on the international stage. However, this “neutrality” is also due to the ethnic tensions it has in its territory, which borders Yemen.

In any case, leaving the port of Eilat open only to boats coming from the Suez Canal would be strategically fragile. So, while it cannot be denied that the Houthi naval blockade may be a burden for the other Arab nations that receive their ships at Red Sea ports, the fact is that for none of them the situation is as dramatic as it is for Israel. Since the goods that Israel receives by sea and from Asia can come from the Red Sea without having to go through the Suez Canal, the port of Eilat is absolutely strategic for the country’s economic stability. And without economic stability, wars can’t be won. Even against those who arm themselves with little more than stones and sticks and a few handmade rockets.

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“..The endgame is inevitable: An agreement to end the conflict on Russia’s terms..”

US Lured Into Battlescape in Gaza, Yemen and Now Iraq (Alastair Crooke)

China and Russia have been remarkably quiet, watching carefully the global tectonic plates shifting around in response to the ‘two wars’ (Ukraine and Israel’s ‘multiwar’). Really it is not surprising; both states can sit back to simply watch Biden and his team persist with their strategic mistakes in Ukraine and in Israel’s multiple wars. The interlacing of the two wars will, of course, shape the new era. There are substantive risks, but for now they can observe with comfort from afar as a climatic juncture in world politics unfolds, gradually raising the pace of the attrition to a circle of fire. The point here is that Biden, at the centre of the storm, is no cool-headed Sun-Tzu. His politics are personal and highly visceral: As Noah Lanard has written in his forensic analysis of How Joe Biden Became America’s Top Hawk, his own team say it plainly: Biden’s politics is seated in his ‘kishkes’ – his guts.

That can be seen in the disdainful and graphic way in which Biden sneers at President Putin as an ‘autocrat’, and the way he talks about victims of the Hamas attack being massacred, sexually assaulted, and taken hostage, whilst “Palestinian suffering is left vague – if mentioned at all”. “I don’t really think he sees the Palestinians at all”, says Rashid Khalidi, Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. There is a long and reputable history of leaders making the right spur of the moment decision from their unconscious, without careful rational calculous. In the ancient world this was a highly prized quality. Odysseus exuded it. It was called mêtis. But this ability was contingent on having a dispassionate temperament and an ability to see things ‘in the round’; to grasp both sides to a coin, we would say.

But what happens if, as Professor Khalidi implies, the ‘kishkes’ are filled with anger and bile; instinctive sympathy for Israel, fuelled by an outdated view of the Israeli domestic scene. “He just does not seem to acknowledge the humanity of [others]”, as a former Team Biden member put it to Lanard. Well, mistakes – strategic mistakes – become inevitable. And these mistakes are luring the U.S. in – deeper and deeper (as the Resistance foresaw). Michael Knights, a scholar at the neo-con Washington Institute think-tank noted: “The Houthis are high on their successes and will not be easy to deter. They are having the time of their lives, standing up to a superpower who probably cannot deter them”. This comes on the back of an Ukraine war already reaching – or at – its foregone conclusion. Both in the U.S. and amongst its allies in Europe, it is recognised that Russia has prevailed overwhelmingly, and across all ‘domains of conflict’.

There is next to no chance that this situation can be recouped, irrespective of money or fresh western ‘support’. The Ukrainian military taste the bitter fruits of this fact daily. Many in Kiev’s ruling classes ‘get it’ too, but are frightened to speak out. The cadre of hardliners behind Zelensky however insist to press on with their delusion of mounting a new offensive. It would be a kindness to ‘those about to die’ in another futile mobilisation for the West to call a halt. The endgame is inevitable: An agreement to end the conflict on Russia’s terms.

Ahhh, but do not forget Biden’s ‘kishkes’: This outcome would mean Putin ‘winning’ and Biden’s hope of a victory garland turning to ashes. The war must be kept going, even if its only achievement be to fire long-range missiles directly into the civilian cities of Russia (a war crime). It is obvious where this is going. Biden is in hole that only can deepen. Can’t he stop digging? Some in America may wish he would, as the Democratic electoral prospects dim. But it seems probable that he can’t, for then his nemesis (Putin) would ‘win’.

Nap Crooke

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Yes.

Red Sea Tensions May Become ‘Impossible To Contain’ – UN (RT)

The current instability in the Middle East may soon spiral completely out of control, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a press conference in New York on Monday. Guterres once again addressed the crisis triggered by the events of October 7, when Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. The ensuing Israeli blockade, bombing, and ground assault of Gaza has since killed almost 24,000 people, according to local health officials. The civilian death toll in Gaza has resulted in widespread international condemnation of Israel’s actions, and has already drawn the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthis into the conflict.

“Tensions are also sky-high in the Red Sea and beyond – and may soon be impossible to contain,” Guterres said, adding that he is concerned that “daily exchanges of fire” risk “triggering a broader escalation between Israel and Lebanon and profoundly affecting regional stability.” While the secretary-general condemned the actions of Hamas, he also blasted the Israeli operation as “collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” saying it has caused an “unprecedented level of civilian casualties,” while noting that “the vast majority of those killed are women and children.” Last week, the Houthis pledged to continue targeting Israeli- and US-linked ships in the Red Sea “until the siege on Gaza is lifted.”

The Houthis have also targeted British and American warships operating in the area as part of an international maritime operation organized last month by the US to safeguard shipping in the region. The “heightening tensions” also led Iran to send one of their warships to the Red Sea earlier this month. US and UK warplanes attacked Houthi targets in Yemen with around 70 airstrikes last Thursday and Friday. While US National Security spokesman John Kirby stated that the strikes are having a “good effect,” a New York Times report claimed that around three-quarters of Houthi military assets remain intact. Moscow has condemned the strikes on Yemen, calling them “illegal” and saying they were carried out in violation of the UN Charter. The UN secretary-general has said that “the longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the greater the risk of escalation and miscalculation.”

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“.. the UK and its allies have found themselves “in a new era” and “must be prepared to deter our enemies..”

UK To Send 20,000 Troops To NATO Exercise (RT)

The UK is set to deploy around 20,000 service members – as well as modern warships and fighter jets – to take part in a major NATO exercise amid rising tensions with Russia, the Defence Ministry in London has announced. In a statement on Monday, the ministry, citing excerpts from a speech to be delivered by Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, said that some 16,000 army troops – along with tanks, artillery, and helicopters – will join other bloc members on the continent to participate in Exercise Steadfast Defender 24, scheduled to take place in the first half of this year. The effort will be supported by eight warships and submarines, as well as 2,000 Royal Navy sailors. The UK will also deploy a number of aircraft, including F35B Lightning fighters and Poseidon P8 surveillance aircraft, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Shapps is expected to call the drill “one of NATO’s largest deployments since the end of the Cold War,” adding that the UK and its allies have found themselves “in a new era” and “must be prepared to deter our enemies,” according to the statement. The statement specifically referred to the threat from the Russian “menace.” NATO began reinforcing its military footprint in Europe first after a Western-backed coup in Kiev triggered hostilities in Donbass, which is now part of Russia. However, the most drastic build-up occurred after Russia launched its military campaign against Ukraine in February 2022. In June of the same year, the US-led military bloc agreed to put 300,000 troops on high alert, up from 40,000, to deter Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that Moscow has no plans to attack NATO, arguing that there was “no geopolitical, economic … or military interest” in waging war against the bloc. Still, Moscow has also repeatedly warned that the alliance’s military activities close to its border warrant additional security measures. Putin has also said that Ukraine’s desire to join NATO was one of the key reasons for the current conflict.

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All they have left is two warmonger parties. A poor nation.

Mega-Poll Predicts Disaster For Tories – But Reality Could Be Even Worse (G.)

For Conservative MPs opening their Daily Telegraph on Monday morning it was a distinctly gloomy start to the week: a mega-poll suggesting they are heading for a crashing general election defeat. And this was arguably an optimistic take. For one thing, some pollsters believe the YouGov conclusion of a 120-seat Labour majority could be an underestimate. Additionally, the poll’s organisers seem intent on using its findings to push the party further to the right on immigration, a move that will dismay many centrist Tories, and seems unlikely to stop the rot. The notable aspects of the poll come in two main parts. The first is its findings: YouGov surveyed 14,000 people and extrapolated the results to constituencies using the multilevel regression and poststratification model, or MRP.

This predicted that the Conservatives would retain only 169 seats, 196 fewer than their 2019 total, while Labour would take 385, the Liberal Democrats 48 and the SNP 25. This would be a disaster for the Conservatives, resulting in 11 current cabinet ministers losing their seats, among them Jeremy Hunt, Grant Shapps and Gillian Keegan. But it could – and might – be worse. Rob Ford, a professor of politics at Manchester University, noted that the YouGov modelling appeared to play down the effect of tactical voting in many seats where Conservative MPs were at risk of challenge. “It doesn’t seem very credible to me that in a Tory-Lib Dem marginal, 10% of people would still support Green, and not care either way about the opportunity to get rid of a Conservative MP. It does suggest that things could be even worse for the Conservatives,” Ford said.

Another point of interest is the political backdrop to a large and very expensive polling operation. It was, the Telegraph said, commissioned by the Conservative Britain Alliance, a previously unknown organisation described only as a “group of Conservative donors”. YouGov, the Telegraph added, worked with the Tory peer David Frost, who contributed an opinion piece arguing that the only way back from the brink for the party was to go much harder on immigration, seeking to tempt former Tory voters who are backing the Nigel Farage-founded Reform UK. “The big problem is immigration, legal as well as illegal. That’s why this week’s vote on Rwanda is so important,” Frost writes.

The Telegraph runs its own analysis arguing that Reform votes would play a part in 96 losses for the Conservatives, making the difference between a catastrophic loss and a hung parliament. The combined message is clear: copy Reform, notably on small boats and on migration more generally.

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Article comes with free menu.

Wrote to Jim:
“On the very same day we got introduced to Disease X, Denmark – of Macbeth fame- announced its new king.
His name: Frederik X.”

Cheers to You, WEFers of Davos! (Kunstler)

The nabobs and panjandrums of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet up at Davos, Switzerland, the next several days to lay plans for their latest assault on humanity. This year’s theme is “Rebuilding Trust.” Did you just blow your coffee through your nose? The outfit that coordinated the world-wide Covid-19 response (that perhaps birthed the very concept of Covid-19 itself), and especially pushed mRNA vaccines on the credulous global public — this gang of super-wealthy, super-connected, super-important celebrity punks, poohbahs, pricks, and predators wants a cuddle.

This Davos crowd — moiling around the opening soirée amid drool-worthy trays of crab puffs, asparagus gougères, lobster crostini, waygu morsels, Prosciutto-Fig bites, chickpea panisse, stuffed castelvetrano olives, wild boar and quinoa dolmas, fava bean puree toasts, pigeon pea fritters, and Nürnberger rostbratwurst pigs-in-a-blanket, all washed down by bottomless flutes of Roederer Cristal Millésime Brut— could not stop chattering about the debut of the latest viral confection, “Disease X”, said to be twenty times deadlier than Covid-19.

Imagine the opportunities this one will provide for the WEF’s Davos prom date, the World Health Organization (WHO). And just in time to create enough hysteria for the May vote on the new WHO treaty binding the world’s governments to its pandemic diktats. In that new disposition of things, whatever Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says, goes! Lockdowns. Quarantine camps. Mandatory (improved) safe-and-effective vaccines. Nevermind what the actual citizens of Countries A, B, or C might otherwise decide for themselves under the obsolete system of national sovereignty. Follow the science, useless eaters of the world! (And please quit carping about it!)

Any resemblance of “Disease X” to the remaining global free speech platform (Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter), is just another bothersome conspiracy theory. Of course, theories imply the discovery of proofs, and it so happens that the unelected European Commission, under its Digital Services Act (passed in Nov., 2022), has already threatened Mr. Musk’s X to remove so-called hate speech, illegal content, and disinformation or face a fine amounting to 6-percent of its annual global revenue. Hate speech and disinfo are whatever the EU says it is, including information that is true but disagreeable to the agenda of all supranational orgs such as the EU, the WEF, and the WHO. Reminds us of something Pete Hogwallop once said to Ulysses E. McGill:

Last time around, those mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna proved to be super-effective at one thing: disordering all the cells and organs in the human body so as to produce a severe auto-immune reaction resulting in death and disability. The artificial spike protein replication induced by the vaxxes has a special yen for heart tissue, the linings of blood vessels, and the reproductive organs — thus, all those world-class soccer players dropping dead in mid-kick, all the massive clots the size of shipworms discovered by the morticians, and all the spontaneously aborted babies over the past three years. By the way, having seen all this, the CDC Director, Mandy Cohen, is still pushing “updated” mRNA shots, down to six-month-old babies. No, I’m not making this up.

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“.. Indeed, in Washington, it was an open joke like when Hunter was put on the Amtrak board and later made its vice chair..”

‘Say it Nicer’: Hunter Makes a Familiar Last-Minute Offer to Congress (Turley)

This week, after weeks of Hunter mocking the House over its subpoena for a deposition, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold him in contempt. Now facing a referral for prosecution, Hunter declared that he might belatedly comply to avoid a prosecution. Hunter is nothing if not consistent. As with his taxes and other federal violations, Hunter is asking for a mulligan just before a possible indictment. For decades, Hunter has conveyed an attitude that laws do not apply to him or to other Biden family members. After all, as his father once said, “no one f**ks with a Biden.” Since he was a young man, Hunter seems to have been told that he lives a life of privilege that entitles him to considerations denied to others. Indeed, in Washington, it was an open joke like when Hunter was put on the Amtrak board and later made its vice chair.

When pressed on his lack of credentials for the position, Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware quipped that “Hunter Biden has spent a lot of time on Amtrak trains.” It appears that nothing is quite so funny as open nepotism in Washington. Not surprisingly, Hunter’s life of entitlement would lead to a life of excess and debauchery. He was one of Washington’s noble class, a scion of a political dynasty. In time, he would be brought into the family business of influence-peddling with his uncles. For decades, the Bidens have been accused of selling access and influence to Joe Biden. When things got legally difficult, Hunter could count on government guardians. When he lost his gun in 2018, Secret Service agents appeared at a gun shop to demand all records of his purchase. (Those records would later become the basis for the current gun charges against him.)

When Hunter lost his laptop, containing hundreds of incriminating files showing everything from influence peddling to alleged human trafficking, FBI agents showed up at the computer shop and reportedly conveyed an intimidating message to the owner not to speak to anyone. When years of news reports forced the Justice Department to investigate some of these crimes, the Justice Department sat on the case until the most serious tax violations from 2014 to 2015 expired under the statute of limitations. It did so despite internal objections that the period for prosecution could easily be extended. The Justice Department then sought a plea bargain so absurdly generous that it fell apart in open court, with a prosecutor admitting to the judge that he had never seen any deal like it. Notably, the cause for the collapse was an immunity agreement so obscene that no one other than a Biden would demand it, let alone get it.

Throughout this history, one thing has been consistent. Hunter has received and seems to feel entitled to legal mulligans that no other citizen could reasonably expect. It is the very meaning of “privilege” that many Democrats in Washington denounce on a weekly basis. We are not the only country with such a privileged class of scions. In China, the children of powerful leaders who live lavish lives are called the “red nobility” or “communist princelings.” Yet, even in Washington, many were floored by the display of absolute entitlement when Hunter appeared with his counsel Abbe Lowell outside of Congress at the time of his scheduled deposition. Hunter mocked the House and refused to go inside, insisting that he would only agree to give testimony on his own terms.

For those of us who have been writing about the Hunter and the Bidens for decades, it was not in the least surprising. His conduct on taxes showed the utter lack of concern over any obligations owed to the government. In a sense, his family is the government. As the Justice Department noted in its tax charges, Hunter spent his money on “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes.” When the IRS finally moved toward prosecution, a democratic donor named Kevin Morris reportedly gave him millions to cover his taxes and lavish lifestyle, even though he had only been introduced to Hunter at a Democratic fundraiser not long before.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Tucker Ladapo

 

 

 

 

WEF water

 

 

Ray

 

 

Kitten

 

 

Guitar

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 092020
 


Dorothea Lange Play street for children. Sixth Street and Avenue C, NYC June 1936

 

Authorities Order Foxconn To Keep Chinese Facilities Closed (AI)
China To Stagger Back To Work As Coronavirus Deaths Surpass SARS (R.)
In-Hospital Infection Blamed In Wuhan Hospital (NHK)
Coronavirus Outbreak Has Affected 4 Different Cruise Ships (H.)
Still No Port For Cruise Ship Westerdam (NHK)
Five Britons Contract Coronavirus In French Ski Resort (R.)
Coronavirus Brings China’s Surveillance State Out Of The Shadows (R.)
Coronavirus Threatens The Chinese Communist Party’s Grip On Power (SCMP)
Yesterday’s Gone: Iowa Was Waterloo for Democrats (Taibbi)
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (Atl.)
A Stock Market Boom Is Not The Basis Of Shared Prosperity (Palley)
Argentina Won’t Repay IMF Debt Till Recession Over – VP Kirchner (R.)

 

 

Late last night in my present timezone, CET, initial new coronavirus numbers came out and everyone said they meant the virus has now killed more people (805-806) than SARS. Everyone except for SCMP which cited a WHO number of 813 SARS deaths (they still haven’t figured that out after 17 years). And then, wouldn’t you know, when I got up in the morning, SCMP had revised their new deaths number to … exactly 813. If I weren’t born so wonderfully gullible I would ask myself something.

Global death toll for new coronavirus hits 805, exceeding that of SARS

The global death toll from the new coronavirus is now at 805, higher than that of SARS. Hubei province reported Sunday morning that there were 81 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in the mainland to 803 so far. The global death toll for the new coronavirus currently stands at 805, including one death in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong. That compares to the SARS outbreak which killed at least 774 people and infected 8,096 people worldwide in 2002 and 2003, according to data from the World Health Organization.

NOTE: SARS deaths took 9 months. This epidemic is just 1-2 months old.

China’s Hubei reports 81 deaths, global total just short of WHO’s SARS figure

China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus epidemic, reported 81 new deaths from the disease on Saturday, bringing the province’s total fatalities from the outbreak to 780. Total deaths globally stood at 805, just short of the 813 total fatalities attributed to the deadly Sars epidemic of 2002-2003 by the World Health Organisation. The provincial health authorities also reported 2,147 newly confirmed cases of the disease in the past 24 hours. This brings the total cases in Hubei to 27,100. These figures compared to the reported deaths and newly confirmed cases of 81 and 2,841, respectively, on Friday.

 

 

• 813 deaths, up from 724 yesterday. 89 new deaths is a new record again.

• Confirmed new cases rose to 37,198, an increase of 2,652 overnight

• 3,916 suspected new cases, bringing the total to 28,942 suspected cases.

 

And this little map looks promising, but I do have questions about it:

 

 

Questions like: what are the effects of the ever wider and ever more stringent lockdowns on this? Do fewer people get infected if they’re all locked up in their homes? Or are infected people also harder to find when they’re behind closed doors? Would families volunteer to deliver potentially infected family members to authorities, or would they wait until they’re as good as dead?

I found this interesting as well: “Wuhan has 49 crematoriums, which can each burn 5 bodies every two hours. They’ve been working 24 hours a day for 17 days now. 49 x 17 x 24 x 5/2 = 49,980 bodies.”

 

Still, as I said yesterday, it’s really all about Monday morning, when the economy is supposed to start “working” again. On Friday, Tesla said its Shanghai plant would re-open tomorrow morning. But then today, the government ordered Foxconn’s Shenzhen factories to remain closed. Will Tesla really open?

As I also said somewhere yesterday, “restarting” the economy where 100s of millions are under some form of lockdown now, means shoving all those millions into planes, trains and subways to bring them to plants where they spend 8-10-12 hours in close proximity to potential virus carriers. Thousands more petri dishes.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

 

 

Well, that’s my question: “No-one wants to bear the responsibility for restarting work at this critical moment.”

Authorities Order Foxconn To Keep Chinese Facilities Closed (AI)

As authorities attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus in China, Foxconn did its part to help on Friday by telling staff not to return to work on February 10, following the Lunar New Year. Rather than resuming operations on the originally anticipated return date, the assembly partner told its tens of thousands of employees to stay away from the Shenzhen plant. A report by Nikkei claims the calling off of production has been further halted by the Chinese authorities, who have told Foxconn not to reopen. People familiar with the matter advised the factory was subject to on-site inspections by public health officials, which found there were “high risks of coronavirus infection” if it did reopen.

One internal memo about the inspection and government-ordered closure mentioned “Violation of epidemic prevention and control could potentially face the death penalty.” Part of the problem is the production facilities use central air condition and have a high density of workers, conditions ripe for viral transference. “The local governments do not want to risk the potential virus spreading in such a labor-intensive working environment,” a source told the report. “No-one wants to bear the responsibility for restarting work at this critical moment.” On Friday, Foxconn took the extra step of canceling flight bookings for employees from Taiwan returning from their home country to China between February 7 and February 14.


The measure was allegedly announced by Chairman Young Liu in a video conference that morning, who also confirmed the company’s Zhengzhou complex would need to be evaluated by the local government before it could be reopened. Foxconn has previously confirmed the coronavirus will affect production, and it is allegedly affecting Apple’s AirPods along with other products it makes, such as iPhones.

Read more …

What will stocks do?

China To Stagger Back To Work As Coronavirus Deaths Surpass SARS (R.)

China raised the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic in 2002/2003 and raising anxiety among people preparing to return to work after an extended Lunar New Year break. Struggling to contain the spread of the disease, authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days onto holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January as the rising numbers of dead and infected cast a pall over the country. Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks, as the Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and kept schools shut.


The sight of an economy regarded as a workshop to the world laid so low has also taken a toll on international financial markets, as shares slumped and investors switched into safe-havens like gold, bonds and the Japanese yen. Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces will remain closed and many white-collar workers will continue to work from home. The new deaths on Saturday reached another daily record at 89, data from the National Health Commission showed, pushing the total well over the 774 who died from SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

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“..around 40 percent of the patients with the new coronavirus they have treated may have contracted the illness at their hospital.”

In-Hospital Infection Blamed In Wuhan Hospital (NHK)

A team of medical professionals at a hospital in Wuhan says that around 40 percent of the patients with the new coronavirus they have treated may have contracted the illness at their hospital. The team works at a Wuhan University hospital in the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak. They published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Friday. The study says 138 cases were confirmed at the hospital between January 1 and 28. Of those, 41 percent, or 57 people, were medical staff or patients who were initially hospitalized for other reasons.


The study found that one patient in the surgical department may have infected more than 10 members of hospital staff. It says that while patients had symptoms such as high fever and sense of fatigue, researchers revealed that 10 percent either had atypical symptoms such as diarrhea, or complained of nausea. It concludes that it was difficult to screen patients with symptoms not previously associated with the virus. The team says that an important feature of the new coronavirus is the rapid human-to-human transmission among people in close contact.

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I think the ship off Hong Kong was freed today. The Yokohama one with 61 infected won’t be so lucky.

Coronavirus Outbreak Has Affected 4 Different Cruise Ships (H.)

Cruises are, for the most part, meant to elicit feelings of relaxation—literally floating away from your landlocked responsibilities for a few days. But, for thousands of passengers aboard at least four different cruise ships, their vacations quickly turned into nightmare scenarios. As of Friday, four major vessels—the Diamond Princess, Westerdam, World Dream, and Royal Caribbean’s The Anthem of the Seas cruise ships—have been impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), aka the Wuhan coronavirus. Most affected by the outbreak is the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The ship was docked Tuesday after a former passenger tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, 61 passengers of the 3,700 people on board have tested positive for the virus, reports CNN. The ship’s quarantine is expected to last until at least February 19. The two other ships—the Westerdam, currently in search of a port in the East China Sea; and the World Dream, docked in Hong Kong—have also come to a halt due to fears of coronavirus, per CNN. No current or former passengers on the Westerdam have been reported as having the coronavirus, nor have any current passengers on the World Dream, though eight former passengers of the cruise ship have been confirmed as having the illness.


And most recently, on Friday, the Royal Caribbean’s The Anthem of the Seas was docked near New York City, at a port in Bayonne, New Jersey, where 27 passengers were screened for the coronavirus, according to CNN. Four of those passengers were sent to the hospital for further investigation, while the other 23 were cleared. In a statement, per CNN, Royal Caribbean confirmed that, like airlines, they too are working to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. “We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew.”

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Sailed on Feb 1. Now it’s like the original Flying Dutchman ship.

Still No Port For Cruise Ship Westerdam (NHK)

The operator of the cruise ship Westerdam is searching for a port to call at after being rejected by destinations including Japan amid fears of the spreading coronavirus. The US-based Holland America Line said in a statement on Friday that the ship is “currently sailing on a southwesterly course off the coast of Taiwan.” The firm says it is positioning the ship “for access to potential port locations.” The Westerdam departed Hong Kong on February 1 with more than 2,200 passengers and crew onboard. Taiwan denied it permission to call, citing a suspicion of coronavirus infection among the passengers. Japanese authorities followed suit, preventing it from entering a port in the southwestern prefecture of Okinawa. Holland America Line said in the statement that “The ship is not in quarantine” and there is “no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board.” It added the ship has sufficient fuel and food, and passengers are provided with free internet and phone access.

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Is this the first cluster than doesn’t involve Chinese people? Note that the original infection came from Singapore, not China.

Five Britons Contract Coronavirus In French Ski Resort (R.)

Five British nationals including a child have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus at a French mountain village, and health officials said they were checking who else might have been exposed, including at local schools. In total, 11 people, including the five who tested positive, have been hospitalized in southeastern France and were being examined, the French health ministry said on Saturday, adding that none were in serious condition. The group of Britons included holidaymakers and a family currently residing in the Alpine village and ski resort, Les Contamines-Montjoie. They shared neighboring apartments in a chalet and temporarily hosted a British man believed to have contracted the virus at a business congress in Singapore before his short visit to France in late January, the ministry added.


Two schools would be shut next week for checks, regional health official Jean-Yves Grall said, after it emerged that the nine-year-old who tested positive had attended lessons and French classes in different establishments. Two other children were also part of the group of 11 now in hospital in the cities of Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble, and they had been schooled in the area too, according to Etienne Jacquet, mayor of Les Contamines-Montjoie. Some parents in the village, nestled in the mountains close to the Mont Blanc peak and the Swiss city of Geneva, said on Saturday they had received little information so far and were being cautious.

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Thermal cameras, cameras that see through face-masks, a good crisis to step up state control.

Coronavirus Brings China’s Surveillance State Out Of The Shadows (R.)

When the man from Hangzhou returned home from a business trip, the local police got in touch. They had tracked his car by his license plate in nearby Wenzhou, which has had a spate of coronavirus cases despite being far from the epicenter of the outbreak. Stay indoors for two weeks, they requested. After around 12 days, he was bored and went out early. This time, not only did the police contact him, so did his boss. He had been spotted near Hangzhou’s West Lake by a camera with facial recognition technology, and the authorities had alerted his company as a warning.

“I was a bit shocked by the ability and efficiency of the mass surveillance network. They can basically trace our movements with the AI technology and big data at any time and any place,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions. Chinese have long been aware that they are tracked by the world’s most sophisticated system of electronic surveillance. The coronavirus emergency has brought some of that technology out of the shadows, providing the authorities with a justification for sweeping methods of high tech social control. Artificial intelligence and security camera companies boast that their systems can scan the streets for people with even low-grade fevers, recognize their faces even if they are wearing masks and report them to the authorities.

If a coronavirus patient boards a train, the railway’s “real name” system can provide a list of people sitting nearby. Mobile phone apps can tell users if they have been on a flight or a train with a known coronavirus carrier, and maps can show them locations of buildings where infected patients live. Although there has been some anonymous grumbling on social media, for now Chinese citizens seem to be accepting the extra intrusion, or even embracing it, as a means to combat the health emergency. “In the circumstances, individuals are likely to consider this to be reasonable even if they are not specifically informed about it,” said Carolyn Bigg, partner at law firm DLA Piper in Hong Kong.

[..] Facial recognition firm Megvii said on Tuesday it had developed a new way to spot and identify people with fevers, with support from the industry and science ministries. Its new “AI temperature measurement system”, which detects temperature with thermal cameras and uses body and facial data to identify individuals, is already being tested in a Beijing district. SenseTime, another leading AI firm, said it has built a similar system to be used at building entrances, which can identify people wearing masks, overcoming a weakness of earlier technology. Surveillance camera firm Zhejiang Dahua says it can detect fevers with infrared cameras to an accuracy within 0.3ºC.

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Wishful thinking?

Coronavirus Threatens The Chinese Communist Party’s Grip On Power (SCMP)

China missed the best opportunity to contain the spread of the virus because officials at first delayed – or possibly covered up – the release of information and were slow in taking precautionary actions. The first patient who experienced symptoms was found on December 1, 2019, suggesting the origin of the disease was even earlier. And there has been some evidence of human-to-human transmissions since late December, with more emerging in early January when several medical workers were infected. These vital bits of information were not released to the public in time. Nor was any decisive action taken between early December and January 23, the day Beijing told the world about the severity of the epidemic and declared war on it just two days before the Lunar New Year on January 25.

Lives continued as normal in Wuhan in the week before then. On January 18, the Wuhan government hosted a banquet attended by more than 40,000 families in a bid to set a Guinness world record. On January 20, the municipal government said it was distributing 200,000 free tickets to residents for festive new year activities. Videos show few people wearing face masks in Wuhan before mid-January. Compare that to Hong Kong, where since early January the government has been updating people on the situation daily and holding frequent news briefings.


In terms of human-to-human transmissions, the alarm wasn’t raised until the prominent epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan spoke out on January 20 – nearly 50 days after the first patient was found and three weeks after it was established that human-to-human infections were taking place. Instead of acting against the virus, the government focused on controlling the information. In an effort to underscore the CCP’s determination to crack down on unsanctioned information, the broadcaster CCTV reported on January 2 that Wuhan police had interrogated and warned eight whistle-blowers, frontline doctors, for “rumourmongering” about the epidemic. It seemed all too familiar to 2003, when military doctor Jiang Yanyong defied government rules and risked his own life to break the news about the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) to the international media.

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“Perhaps all the Democrats need to win the presidency is a Rust Belt millennial who’s gay and speaks Norwegian.”

Yesterday’s Gone: Iowa Was Waterloo for Democrats (Taibbi)

Democratic campaign events have long been more pep rally than discussion, more about the terribleness of Republicans than substance. “They’re so used to events where everyone is rooting for them,” says Redd. “It’s like, ‘No, we’re actually here to challenge you on issues that matter.’” Biden performed surprisingly well all year in polls, but he headed into Iowa like a passenger jet trying to land with one burning engine, hitting trees, cows, cars, sides of mountains, everything. The poking incidents were bad, but then one of his chief surrogates, John Kerry, was overheard by NBC talking about the possibility of jumping in to keep Bernie from “taking down” the party.

“Maybe I’m fucking deluding myself here,” Kerry reportedly said — mainstream Democrats may not have changed their policies or strategies much since Trump, but they sure are swearing more — then noted he would have to raise a “couple of million” from people like venture capitalist Doug Hickey. Kerry later said he was enumerating the reasons he wouldn’t run, though those notably did not include humility about his own reputation as a comical national electoral failure, or because there’s already a candidate in the race (Biden) he’d been crisscrossing Iowa urging people to vote for, but instead because he’d have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up paid speeches. French aristocrats who shouted “Vive le Roi!” on the way to the razor did a better job advertising themselves.

With days, hours left before the caucuses, there were signs everywhere that the party establishment was scrambling to find someone among the remaining cast members to stop what Kerry called the “reality of Bernie.” But who? Yang said smart things about inequality, so he was out. Tulsi Gabbard was Russian Bernie spawn. Tom Steyer was Dennis Kucinich with money. Voters had already rejected potential Trump WWE opponents like the “progressive prosecutor” (Kamala Harris), the “pragmatic progressive” (John Delaney), “the next Bobby Kennedy” (Beto O’Rourke), “Courageous Empathy” (Cory Booker), Medicare for All can bite me (John Hickenlooper), and over a dozen others.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg seemed perfect, a man who defended the principle of wine-based fundraisers with military effrontery. New York magazine made his case in a cover story the magazine’s Twitter account summarized as: “Perhaps all the Democrats need to win the presidency is a Rust Belt millennial who’s gay and speaks Norwegian.”

Read more …

The Trump people meddle in conspiracy theories. The “others” don’t. This is how and why you will lose the election.

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (Atl.)

One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers. The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings.

Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside. The story that unfurled in my Facebook feed over the next several weeks was, at times, disorienting. There were days when I would watch, live on TV, an impeachment hearing filled with damning testimony about the president’s conduct, only to look at my phone later and find a slickly edited video—served up by the Trump campaign—that used out-of-context clips to recast the same testimony as an exoneration. Wait, I caught myself wondering more than once, is that what happened today?

[..] Every presidential campaign sees its share of spin and misdirection, but this year’s contest promises to be different. In conversations with political strategists and other experts, a dystopian picture of the general election comes into view—one shaped by coordinated bot attacks, Potemkin local-news sites, micro-targeted fearmongering, and anonymous mass texting. Both parties will have these tools at their disposal. But in the hands of a president who lies constantly, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and who readily manipulates the levers of government for his own gain, their potential to wreak havoc is enormous.

The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives. These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.

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How you tie your impression of Trump as a con-man in with the topic is unclear. Today’s bubbles started with Greenspan and Bill Clinton, not Trump.

A Stock Market Boom Is Not The Basis Of Shared Prosperity (Palley)

The United States is currently enjoying another stock market boom. If history is any guide, it may well end in a bust. In the meantime, the boom is having a politically toxic effect. Donald Trump uses it to make the case for his reelection in the fall. But his argument, at a minimum, requires a big leap of faith. Trump’s assertion — that a stock market boom is the basis for shared prosperity — is just that, an assertion. It certainly hasn’t led to any broad-based prosperity. The beneficiaries are the happy few at the top of the U.S. economic pyramid. Anyone who ever read John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash 1929, his 1954 classic, has run across Galbraith’s idea of the “bezzle.” In addition to Ponzi schemes, Galbraith’s bezzle also captures the dynamic of speculative bubbles.

Those bubbles are a form of fraud we collectively inflict on ourselves. Investors buy in believing they will be able to sell at a higher price, and their purchases drive up prices and attract new investors who hope to jump on the price appreciation band wagon. The bubble continues until belief in ever higher prices is punctured, whereupon buyers evaporate and the bubble implodes. Once again, all feel richer along the way. Today’s stock market increasingly has the smell and feel of another bezzle. That smell is metaphorically rather perfectly reflected in President Trump who has all the integrity of a con man. Better yet, Trump’s business history, in addition to reliance on funding from suspect sources, is marked by serial bankruptcies.


Trump has also managed to use the presidential bully pulpit to cajole the U.S. Federal Reserve into further inflating asset prices by enjoining it to lower interest rates. In addition to directly impacting asset pricing, the Federal Reserve has given a green flag for speculative buying. In that process, it has strengthened beliefs that it stands ready to guarantee stock prices, via the so-called “Powell put.” That put is an amplification of the prior “Bernanke put,” which was in turn an amplification of the “Greenspan put” which launched the Federal Reserve’s commitment to stock prices. To be honest, it did not take much cajoling from Trump as the Federal Reserve has evidently learned little from the past 35 years of serial asset price bubbles.

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A lesson for Greece.

Argentina Won’t Repay IMF Debt Till Recession Over – VP Kirchner (R.)

Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said on Saturday that the government will not pay “even half a cent” of its debt back to the International Monetary Fund before the country has exited recession. “The first thing we have to do in order to be able to pay is to exit the recession,” Fernandez de Kirchner said at a presentation of her book “Sinceramente” (Sincerely) at Havana’s international book fair. “If there is a recession no-one will pay even half a cent and the way you exit recession is through a lot of state investment.” Argentina needs to restructure $100 billion in sovereign debt with creditors, including part of a $57 billion credit facility that the IMF extended the country in 2018.


Dealings with the IMF are key as Argentina hopes to avoid a default amid a currency crash, steep inflation and a contracting economy. An IMF technical mission is expected in Buenos Aires next week to discuss obligations owed to the fund. Fernandez de Kirchner said Argentina should get a “substantial haircut” on its IMF debt. A leftist and militant Peronist, she has traveled frequently to Communist-run Cuba over the past year to visit her daughter Florencia Kirchner who is undergoing medical treatment there.

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Just one of those timelines where Dean Koontz wrote a book about a Chinese super virus called Wuhan that escaped a secret lab.

 

 

 

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Feb 072020
 
 February 7, 2020  Posted by at 10:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


Marjory Collins “Crowds at Pennsylvania Station, New York” Aug 1942

 

China Reports 73 New Deaths From Coronavirus, 3,143 New Cases (SCMP)
Trump Expresses Confidence In China’s Confronting Its Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)
Texas Congresswoman Says Russia Responsible For Iowa Caucus Mess (WE)
The GIGO Impeachment (Turley)
Russian, Turkish Military Among 100s Killed & Injured In Idlib Terrorism (RT)
UK Town Halls Told To Fly Union Jack For Prince Andrew’s Birthday (Ind.)
Boeing’s Fraying 737 MAX Suppliers See Capacity Crunch (R.)
Ohio Pension System Slashes Health-Care Benefits To Stave Off Insolvency (ZH)
Interest Rate Controls Could Reduce Real Per Capita Growth (IMF)
Encourage Banks To Tap Discount Window To Prevent Repo Freeze – Quarles (MW)
End of QE-4: Fed’s Repos Drop Below Oct 2 Level, T-Bills Balloon (WS)
Seven In 10 Greeks Threatened By Poverty (K.)
Bumblebee Survival Chances In EU, US Drop 30% In Single Generation (Hill)
Can We Have Prosperity Without Growth? (New Yorker)
Canada To Aid Alberta As Deadline For Massive Oil Sands Project Nears (R.)

 

I collected so many “corona”-related articles over the past 24 hours, I’ll do a separate thread with them, because this one would get too long. It’ll be up in a few hours.

China is making an effort to make it seem like they have things under control to the extent that numbers are rising less. Don’t trust them. For one thing, it’s not reflected at all in this graph. For another, Xi is real anxious to get the economy restarted. But that’s not possible while the lockdowns remain. Nice quote I heard: if even just 1% of your car parts are from China, and you can’t get them anymore, you can’t build a car.

 

 

Asking myself: why are there practically no children infected? Does anyone know?

Numbers today:

• China reports 73 new deaths from coronavirus and 3,143 new cases (from 3,797 yesterday)
• Hubei province reports 69 new deaths and confirms 2,447 new cases
• 185,555 people under medical observation, down from 186,354 yesterday
• Japan says 41 new infections on board Yokohama cruiseliner, total now 61 out of 273 tested

 

 

 

Most interesting here is XI: “We are fully confident and capable of fighting the epidemic. The long-term trend of China’s economic development will not change.”

China Reports 73 New Deaths From Coronavirus, 3,143 New Cases (SCMP)

Health authorities in China pegged deaths caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic on Thursday at 73, with 69 in Hubei province, according to official figures released early Friday. The updated numbers raise the death toll in mainland China to 636. Newly confirmed cases rose by 3,143, a second consecutive daily drop, bringing the total to 31,161 cases in the country, according to data released on Friday morning by China’s National Health Commission (NHC). Most the deaths came from Hubei province, epicentre of the outbreak, where 69 new fatalities from the epidemic were reported on Thursday, one less fatality compared with the day before. The total death toll in Hubei rose to 618, the province’s health commission said.


[..] Chinese President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Donald Trump on Friday that China’s economic development would not be affected by the outbreak, according to CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. CCTV reported that, in a phone conversation with Trump, Xi said the Chinese government and people had put their fullest efforts into containing the outbreak since it had started. “We have adopted the most comprehensive and strictest prevention and control measures through mobilising and rapid responses. We have declared a people’s war against the epidemic through prevention and control,” Xi was quoted as saying. “We are fully confident and capable of fighting the epidemic. The long-term trend of China’s economic development will not change.”

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After closing the borders.

Trump Expresses Confidence In China’s Confronting Its Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting its coronavirus outbreak during a conversation with President Xi Jinping on Thursday, a White House spokesman said. The two leaders agreed to continue extensive communication and cooperation between both sides, the spokesman, Judd Deere, added. Trump and Xi also reaffirmed their commitment to implementing Phase 1 of the trade deal between the United States and China, he added.

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Honest question: what do you think is more dangerous, RussiaRussiaRussia or the coronavirus?

Texas Congresswoman Says Russia Responsible For Iowa Caucus Mess (WE)

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, suggested during an FBI oversight hearing on Wednesday that Russia is responsible for the vote-reporting issues from Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses. “I hope that the Iowa Democrats will ask for an FBI investigation on the app,” the Texas Democrat told FBI Director Christopher Wray. “I believe that Russia has been engaged in and interfering with a number of our elections dealing with the 2016 election.” Wray responded by reassuring Jackson Lee that the FBI shares her concern about Russian interference. “Certainly, we are also concerned about potential Russian interference with our elections,” Wray said. “That’s why I created the foreign influence task force, which is acutely focused on that topic among other nation-states that are attempting to influence our elections.”


Democrats have faced criticism for not properly testing the voting system in Iowa, which includes an app the Iowa Democratic Party spent $60,000 to implement. “How can anyone trust you now?” a reporter yelled at the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party after reporting issues had still not been cleared up the day after voters caucused. An official winner has still not been announced as of Thursday evening. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez expressed his frustration on Thursday by calling for a recanvassing. “Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass.”

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Starting to feel Turley is writing more than he should.

The GIGO Impeachment (Turley)

Every line of work — from law to carpentry to software — has its own house rule about how bad results come from bad beginnings. There is even an initialism for this: GIGO, or garbage in, garbage out. Unless senators use their closing arguments this week to clarify that they are not endorsing either the prosecution or defense premises in reaching their verdicts, this will go down as the GIGO impeachment: precedent created by false assumptions in both houses. The House blundered in rushing an impeachment by Christmas rather than waiting a couple of months to submit a more complete case with added witnesses, court orders and evidence.

Instead of seeking to compel such direct evidence, the House pushed the vote to impeach on the basis of what my co-witnesses called by the Democrats admitted was an inferential case. There is no question that you can make an inferential case for impeachment, but it is the difference between a strong and a weak case. Rather than wait a couple months to strengthen that record (as I suggested at the Judiciary hearing), the House muscled through an impeachment after the shortest investigation of a president in history. The greatest concern in the House’s case was always the obstruction-of-Congress charge. The House declared that the administration’s failure to yield to demands for witnesses and evidence was by itself a high crime and misdemeanor.

The problem is that other administrations have raised the presidential immunity claims made by the Trump administration, and those claims were supported by legal opinions from the Justice Department. Both Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton were able to litigate their privilege claims all the way to the Supreme Court before facing impeachment. [..] This is a great case marred by passion and distortion. What is surprising is that both blunders were not “accidental” but premeditated by the two parties. It undermined the legitimacy and authenticity of the actions in both chambers. Even if the senators cannot agree on what is appropriate for impeachment, they should at least agree on what is not appropriate.

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Who supports those terrorists? Is it Turkey or the US?

Russian, Turkish Military Among 100s Killed & Injured In Idlib Terrorism (RT)

Terrorists took over the Idlib de-escalation zone and carried out thousands of attacks in the last two months, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the West is portraying them as “moderate opposition.” Idlib governorate, the last stronghold of anti-government forces in Syria, saw a surge of violence by radical jihadists who have no desire for a peaceful resolution to the almost nine-year-long conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. Most of the attacks are carried out by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the latest iteration of al-Qaeda in Syria. The area was proclaimed a de-escalation zone under the Russia-Turkey agreements. In mid-January, Russian and Turkish forces tried to impose a ‘regime of silence’ there, but the attacks only escalated.


In December 2019 there were over 1,400 terrorist attacks staged from Idlib, with some operations seeing the use of armor and even tanks. The scale of violence remains high, with over 1,000 attacks recorded in the last two weeks of January. Hundreds of Syrian civilians and government troops have been killed, as well as “Russian and Turkish military specialists.” “The relocation of some armed groups out of the de-escalation zone to northeastern Syria and later to Libya has boosted the concentration of radical extremists over the boiling point,” the ministry said. This situation was recently discussed during an interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He explained that Turkey needed to separate the armed opposition it is working with from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists, saying that it has failed to do so.

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Retracted now, but still illustrative of post-Brexit Britain. Ruled by white guys from the 18th century.

UK Town Halls Told To Fly Union Jack For Prince Andrew’s Birthday (Ind.)

Town halls across the UK have been officially reminded they must fly the Union Jack flag on 19 February, to celebrate Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday. Politicians and public alike have slammed the Whitehall order, which they say puts protocol before principles. The prince is not currently performing royal duties amid an ongoing scandal over his friendship with millionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and claims that then-teenager Virginia Roberts was coerced into having sex with Prince Andrew in 2001 and 2002. He denies the allegation, saying he was at a birthday party at the Woking branch of Pizza Express on one of the nights the pair are said to have slept together.


However, the order is now likely to be withdrawn, after the prime minister’s spokesman described it as “an administrative email about a longstanding policy”. “I understand that DCMS [the digital, culture and media department] and the royal household are considering how the policy applies for changed circumstances, such as when members of the Royal Family have stepped back from public duties,” the spokesman said – in a clear hint it will be pulled. The instruction had drawn heavy criticism, Labour MP and deputy leadership candidate Ian Murray saying: “This protocol has to be binned given the allegations against the prince.” [..] ..a council source said: “It seems ridiculous. The government doesn’t appear to be noticing what has happened recently, or factoring in the mood of the nation.”

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And that’s before the virus halted 10s of 1000s of flights.

Boeing’s Fraying 737 MAX Suppliers See Capacity Crunch (R.)

Boeing Co suppliers are shedding jobs and capacity to cope with a halt in 737 MAX output, but while that staves off chaos, aerospace executives worry the industry might be unable to ramp factories quickly enough when the plane wins approval to fly again. Boeing, struggling to restore public confidence and recover from the biggest crisis since its founding in 1916, has halted production of the once fast-selling 737 MAX, which was grounded in March following two deadly crashes. As a result, industrial heavyweights like fuselage maker Spirit Aerosystems have already laid off workers. Now a cluster of other crucial companies small and big that forge metal, assemble and paint 737 MAX winglets, and build data systems have followed suit with no indication that Boeing will offer a lifeline, people familiar with the matter said.


Losing payments and workers in a tight labor market heaps pressure on Boeing’s U.S.-dominated 737 MAX supply chain, which involves hundreds of suppliers of more than half of the roughly 400,000 parts for each 737 built in the Seattle-area. “One of the main questions is how much capacity will be lost in the supply chain by the time production resumes at significant rates,” said an industry executive with knowledge of Boeing’s industrial network. Such concerns dominated the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference north of Seattle this week, where some executives vented frustration over what they called Boeing’s lack of financial support. One executive from a supplier that derives a quarter of its business from the MAX said Boeing has treated his company like “a commodity” in a “transactional” relationship. He predicted Boeing would let some suppliers fail.

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The Fed’s (and ECB’s) ultra-low interest rates killed all pension systems. We just don’t -want to- realize it yet.

Ohio Pension System Slashes Health-Care Benefits To Stave Off Insolvency (ZH)

For the first time in years, a major public pension system has slashed benefits for retirees: The Ohio Public Employees’ Retirement System voted last week to cut health care benefits provided to the pension’s current and future retirees beginning in 2022 to try and prevent the fund from plunging into insolvency in the not-too-distant future. It’s just the latest reminder that America’s ‘pension timebomb’ isn’t as far off into the future as many retirees, investors and public officials would like to believe. According to Chief Investment Officer and the Bond Buyer, if these changes had not been enacted, the fund would run out of money in about 11 years, executive director Karen Carraher said during a board meeting. The measure passed by a 9-2 vote.

“There is no available funding for health care,” a report from the board said. “All of the employer contribution[s] must be allocated to pension funding until that funding improves. Based on current projections, no funding will be available for health care for 15 or more years.” The vote, which was undertaken after polls showed members would be open to the changes to preserve their retirement benefits, eliminated the system’s group health-care plan and replaced it with stipends that will defray costs for members who purchase plans on the state ObamaCare exchange. Beneficiaries will receive a wide variety of quantitative cuts, depending on their age of retirement, the year in which they retired, and the number of years working in the state.

“Surveys indicate members willing to accept changes/reductions in health care in the interest of preserving it,” the board’s report said. Nearly everyone in OPERS likely will be affected by these changes. The board’s vote constituted the elimination of the pension’s healthcare group plan, and replaced it with a stipend that will help supplement for some members the cost of a new healthcare plan on the marketplace. “Pre-Medicare group plan is unsustainable for OPERS and members as risk core and costs continue to increase,” the report said. The board “needs to reduce the cost of health care to preserve current health care trust fund until such time funding can resume.”

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Protesting what your own employer supports, and after the damage is done. Lovely.

Interest Rate Controls Could Reduce Real Per Capita Growth (IMF)

With the surge in public debt in the wake of the global financial crisis, financial repression—administrative restrictions on interest rates, credit allocation, capital movements, and other financial operations—has come back on the agenda. In our recent working paper, we argue that countries would be better-off without financial repression. By distorting market incentives and signals, financial repression induces losses from inefficiency and rent-seeking that are not easily quantified. Losses from rent-seeking might occur when administrative restrictions reduce access to certain financial services (such as credit) and improve the benefits (e.g., through low interest rates) for the selected users (at the cost of those excluded), and when these lead to wasteful competition among potential users for such gains.


Using an updated index of interest rate controls covering 90 countries over 45 years, this IMF staff study estimates that financial repression in the form of interest rate restrictions could reduce real per capita growth by about 0.4–0.7 percentage points, on average, with the effect being larger in countries with larger financial systems. The study also finds that a full liberalization of interest rates is necessary to significantly increase growth, and changes in interest rate restrictions short of full liberalization have a limited impact. The case studies suggest that interest rate controls may also disrupt financial stability and may reduce access to financing for small enterprises.

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The Fed should take care of people, not banks, by now. No body has ever been more destructive to a society.

Encourage Banks To Tap Discount Window To Prevent Repo Freeze – Quarles (MW)

The Federal Reserve could encourage banks to tap a key funding source that has been scarcely used since the financial crisis as a solution to the September dislocations in short-term lending markets, said Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles on Thursday. Quarles said financial institutions should not be afraid of accessing the discount window, where banks have historically borrowed funds from the Fed in return for collateral during short-term liquidity shortages, in a speech held at an event by the Money Marketeers of New York University. The use of the window, however, has been stigmatized following the financial crisis amid worries that tapping the window could end up creating the perception that a bank was in precarious shape and could even be insolvent, precipitating further outflows.

He noticed that despite the equivalence between Treasurys and reserves as sources of capital that could meet the Fed’s liquidity coverage regulations, which are designed to ensure banks can meet sudden cash outflows, the reality was banks would prefer to hold cash reserves as banks could struggle to sell government bonds swiftly if it wanted to raise funds. Quarles’ remarks come as investors and bank executives have pointed to the preference of reserves over Treasurys as one factor that contributed to the surge in overnight repo rates in September, which briefly pushed the benchmark fed funds rates above its target range and raised questions whether the Fed was losing its grip on a key monetary policy tool.

Pushing banks to use the discount window during stress scenarios could help resolve the issues in money markets, as it gave banks sufficient time to sell high-quality capital like Treasurys and raise cash, diminishing the need to accrue reserves as a way of handling liquidity issues. “I think it is worth considering whether financial-system efficiency may be improved if reserves and Treasury securities’ liquidity characteristics were regarded as more similar than they are today,” said Quarles.

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Stupid games. Close it down or it will destroy you.

End of QE-4: Fed’s Repos Drop Below Oct 2 Level, T-Bills Balloon (WS)

Under these “repurchase agreements,” the Fed buys Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS), guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae, whereby the counterparties commit to buy back these securities at a fixed price on a specific date, such as the next day (overnight repo) or a longer period, such as 14 days (term repo). Repos are by definition in-and-out transactions. When a repo matures and unwinds, the Fed gets its money back, and the repo on the Fed’s balance sheet goes to zero. By buying these securities, the Fed adds liquidity to the market for the duration of the repo. When the repo matures and unwinds, the liquidity gets drained from the market. When a new repo transaction occurs, the process starts over again, but with a different amount and with a different maturity date.

The Fed raised the interest rate at which it offered the repos – for borrowers, the money is getting a little less cheap. Through January 29, the Fed’s average offering rate for overnight repos was 1.55%. On January 30, this increased to 1.60%. And the rate for 14-day repos increased from 1.58% effective through January 29, to about 1.61%. The Fed had been the lender-of-first-resort in the repo market, by offering to lend at these low rates. By increasing the rate, the Fed is gradually making the cash it is handing out less cheap and less attractive compared to what banks might offer, and more of the demand is switching over to banks. Overnight repos have been undersubscribed all year, so there is less and less demand for them at this rate. But the 14-day term repos are often oversubscribed, meaning there is more demand for this two-week cash at 1.61% than the amount the Fed is offering.


[.] The Fed continued to increase its ballooning stash of T-bills (Treasuries with maturities of one year or less) at a rate of about $60 billion per month. To increase its stash, the Fed has to buy the amount of the maturing T-bills, and it has to buy the amounts needed to obtain the targeted increase of about $60 billion a month. Over the five weekly balance sheets since January 1, the Fed has added $78 billion in T-bills, and the total amount of T-bills on the Fed’s balance sheet has now ballooned to $248 billion: These T-bills are a major part of the Fed’s strategy to bail out the repo-market. The purpose is to increase Excess Reserves that banks have on deposit at the Fed. The Fed blames low Excess Reserves last September for the banks’ refusal to lend to the repo market, which then caused the repo market to blow out. So bringing up Excess Reserves to an “ample” level is the goal of these T-bill purchases.

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Greece is being hit hard by the virus’s effect on tourism. But that’s just the icing on the cake.

Seven In 10 Greeks Threatened By Poverty (K.)

Almost seven in every 10 Greeks are in a dire financial situation, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The figures published in the bulletin of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) indicate that 68.3 percent of the population in Greece are living close to or below the poverty line, with 12.9 percent already having to make do with an income below that line and 55.4 percent categorized as vulnerable, as they too could drop below the poverty line if they miss out on three months’ salary.


The proportion of Greeks who are unable to make a decent living is far above the OECD average, which stands at 50.4 percent. In the United States, which also shows high levels of inequalities, the rate comes to 55.5 percent, while in Denmark it stands at 36.3 percent. Greece’s rate is second only to Latvia’s in the European Union. SEV commented that Greece is among the European countries with the greatest inequalities in incomes, a situation that has been aggravated by the financial crisis of the 2010s, which hurt lower incomes in particular.

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This sounds too bland for me. Been there done that. And I don’t think suggesting that it’s all climate change is all that smart. If only because it isn’t. Chemicals still play a major role.

Bumblebee Survival Chances In EU, US Drop 30% In Single Generation (Hill)

Bumblebee populations are in decline across North America and Europe due to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, and climate change is playing a big role, according to a recently released study. The study by researchers from the University of Ottawa published in the journal Science examined changes in the populations of 66 bumble species across the two continents, and compared them with climate changes. The research found that in the course of one human generation, the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in a given place in North America and Europe declined by an average of over 30 percent.


“We’ve known for a while that climate change is related to the growing extinction risk that animals are facing around the world,” lead author of the study Peter Soroye said in a statement. “Bumblebees are the best pollinators we have in wild landscapes and the most effective pollinators for crops like tomato, squash, and berries,” Soroye said. “Our results show that we face a future with many less bumblebees and much less diversity, both in the outdoors and on our plates.” Researchers used data collected over a 115-year period showing where bumblebees have been found over the decades. They mapped the places the bees lived and how their distribution changed over time. They found the bees were disappearing in areas that had gotten hotter, and some are colonizing in new areas that were previously too cold.

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Ideal world: “There are very substantial reductions in unemployment, the human poverty index and the debt to GDP ratio. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by nearly 80%. This reduction results from the decline in GDP and a very substantial carbon tax.”

Can We Have Prosperity Without Growth? (New Yorker)

“If growth were to be abandoned as an objective of policy, democracy too would have to be abandoned,” Wilfred Beckerman, an Oxford economist, wrote in “In Defense of Economic Growth,” which appeared in 1974. “The costs of deliberate non-growth, in terms of the political and social transformation that would be required in society, are astronomical.” Beckerman was responding to the publication of “The Limits to Growth,” a widely read report by an international team of environmental scientists and other experts who warned that unrestrained G.D.P. growth would lead to disaster, as natural resources such as fossil fuels and industrial metals ran out. Beckerman said that the authors of “The Limits to Growth” had greatly underestimated the capacity of technology and the market system to produce a cleaner and less resource-intensive type of economic growth—the same argument that proponents of green growth make today.

Whether or not you share this optimism about technology, it’s clear that any comprehensive degrowth strategy would have to deal with distributional conflicts in the developed world and poverty in the developing world. As long as G.D.P. is steadily rising, all groups in society can, in theory, see their living standards rise at the same time. Beckerman argued that this was the key to avoiding such conflict. But, if growth were abandoned, helping the worst off would pit winners against losers. The fact that, in many Western countries over the past couple of decades, slower growth has been accompanied by rising political polarization suggests that Beckerman may have been on to something.

Some degrowth proponents say that distributional conflicts could be resolved through work-sharing and income transfers. A decade ago, Peter A. Victor, an emeritus professor of environmental economics at York University, in Toronto, built a computer model, since updated, to see what would happen to the Canadian economy under various scenarios. In a degrowth scenario, GDP per person was gradually reduced by roughly fifty per cent over thirty years, but offsetting policies—such as work-sharing, redistributive-income transfers, and adult-education programs—were also introduced. Reporting his results in a 2011 paper, Victor wrote, “There are very substantial reductions in unemployment, the human poverty index and the debt to GDP ratio. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by nearly 80%. This reduction results from the decline in GDP and a very substantial carbon tax.”

More recently, Kallis and other degrowthers have called for the introduction of a universal basic income, which would guarantee people some level of subsistence. Last year, when progressive Democrats unveiled their plan for a Green New Deal, aiming to create a zero-emission economy by 2050, it included a federal job guarantee; some backers also advocate a universal basic income. Yet Green New Deal proponents appear to be in favor of green growth rather than degrowth. Some sponsors of the plan have even argued that it would eventually pay for itself through economic growth.

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Upside down world. You now have to pay for what nature provides for free. Pay people not to pollute. You want less pollution? Sure, but it’s going to cost you… Nice place you got there. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to it, would you?

Canada To Aid Alberta As Deadline For Massive Oil Sands Project Nears (R.)

Canada is preparing an aid package for Alberta, heart of the country’s struggling oil industry, that would help dull the pain if it blocks an oil sands project that could create thousands of jobs, sources familiar with the matter said this week. Ottawa must decide by end-February if Teck Resources Ltd can build the C$20.6 billion ($15.7 billion) Frontier mine in northern Alberta despite climate and wildlife concerns. The decision is a major test of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2019 election pledge to put Canada on the path to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Complicating the decision, unhappiness with the government’s energy and pipeline policy cost Trudeau’s Liberals all their Alberta seats in October 2019 elections.


“There will be a big fight inside cabinet over this,” said one source directly familiar the matter who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. “Rejecting Teck without providing Alberta something in return would be political suicide,” the source added. In Alberta, the project is considered essential for employment and growth. Teck says it would eventually create 7,000 jobs, although the company’s chief executive recently questioned whether it will ever be built. About 20 oil sands projects currently sit dormant despite receiving approval.

Read more …

 

 

 

Please donate what you can.

 

Feb 062020
 


Seattle, WA during Spanish Influenza. No ride on street cars without wearing a mask 1918/19

 

China May Delay Annual Meeting Of Parliament Due To Virus Outbreak (R.)
“Leaked” Infection Numbers Over 154,000; Deaths Approach 25,000 (NN)
Major Mainland Chinese Airlines Place All Foreign Pilots On Unpaid Leave (SCMP)
With Virus Deaths At 565 China Considers Trade Deal Disaster Clause (SCMP)
Chinese Scholar Blames Xi Jinping, CCP For Not Controlling Outbreak (SCMP)
Who Owns The Coronavirus Cure? (SCMP)
Pelosi Shreds Decades Of Tradition In Demonstrating Against Trump (Turley)
Buttigieg and Sanders Separated By Razor-Thin Margin In Iowa (Pol.)
Biden Vows To Press On Despite Iowa ‘Gut Punch’ (BBC)
In This Impeachment, People Only Heard What They Wanted To (Turley)
Nancy Pelosi Should Resign (Turley)
Bloomberg Surrogates Have Seats on DNC Rules Committees (Sludge)

 

 

There we go again:

• 565 deaths (up 72 from yesterday, biggest increase in official numbers to date)

• 28,339 cases (up 3,797 from yesterday’s 24,542, and yeserday’s rise of 3872)

• There are suggestions from China that the increase in cases is slowing, but that’s after yesterday’s record increase. We’ll see.

• At the same time, the increase in severe cases appears to be accelerating.

• 10 more infections on cruise ship off Yokohama

• One thing that’s certainly increasing is the skepticism about the official numbers.

 

 

 

Some interesting things in this article:

1) Officials returning to Beijing from other provinces after Lunar New Year are in 14-day quarantine. First time I see mandatory quarantines for Beijing.

2) There’s talk of delaying the (10+ days) National People’s Congress, which only starts on March 5.

Events have been cancelled as far out as April 15. That syncs quite well with what I said in my article The Big Lockdown.

China May Delay Annual Meeting Of Parliament Due To Virus Outbreak (R.)

China is considering delaying the annual meeting of its top legislative body, five people familiar with the matter said, as it grapples with a coronavirus epidemic that has forced drastic curtailment of travel and other activity to curb its spread. The National People’s Congress (NPC), made up of about 3,000 delegates, typically gathers for a session lasting at least 10 days in Beijing, beginning on March 5, to pass legislation and unveil key economic targets for the year. A postponement would be the first since China adopted the current March schedule in 1995 for the meeting of parliament. “The focus remains on taking steps forward towards meeting on schedule, but we are discussing a range of options as the (virus) situation doesn’t look likely to be contained by March,” a senior government official told Reuters, declining to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

“A delay is one of those options,” the official said. “It should come as no surprise given that we are in a very difficult time.” Many officials who would ordinarily be involved in preparation for the NPC are staying at home under 14-day mandatory quarantines after returning to Beijing from their home provinces following the Lunar New Year holidays. Central government officials in Beijing were told to resume work on Feb. 3. China has already postponed a high-level business event, the China Development Forum, which is usually held in late March, and the venue for the Canton Fair, a trade fair in the southern city of Guangzhou, has been suspended until further notice. The spring session of the trade fair was due to begin on April 15.

The NPC gathering is crucial this year, as it is set to ratify China’s first-ever civil code, a key milestone in President Xi Jinping’s legal reform effort. The NPC is also widely expected to discuss the months-long protests in Hong Kong, and to announce the annual economic growth target along with China’s defence budget. Under China’s constitution, a full plenary session of the NPC must be held every year. Chucheng Feng, a partner at Plenum, an independent research firm in Hong Kong, put the chance of a delay at just 10% because of the meeting’s political importance. “However, as the epidemic extends into February, the gathering of China’s entire political elite in a confined Great Hall of the People for over a week looks quite dangerous,” he said.

Read more …

Tyler broke the story. This is a handy write-up. It’s the smaller numbers above the big ones that all but prove we’re looking at an automatically updating database.

“Leaked” Infection Numbers Over 154,000; Deaths Approach 25,000 (NN)

Zero Hedge reported this morning, “As Taiwan [News] reports in a report first spotted by user @TheHKGroup, over the weekend, Tencent “seems to have inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than official figures”, and were far closer to the catastrophic epidemic projections made by Jonathan Read.” According to official numbers from mainland China, which are updated daily, the current number of coronavirus infections is still under 25,000. Even then, it currently appears to be expanding at roughly 20% per 24-hour period, which represents a doubling of infections every 3.5 days (because the growth is compounded). (The left column is infections, and the right column is deaths.)

However, observers have noted that the official numbers reported by the communist Chinese government recently slipped into the “real numbers,” suddenly showing far higher confirmed infections and deaths: 154,024 infections and 24,589 deaths. Here’s a screen shot that was captured before the numbers reverted back to the lower, “official” numbers:The initial reaction from observers might be something along the lines of, “That was just a typo. So they corrected it.” However, there’s more to this story:

The higher numbers didn’t merely appear by themselves, out of context. Above each number is an “increase” factor that calculates how much larger today’s numbers are compared to yesterday’s numbers. For the 24,589 deaths, located at the lower right of this graphic, you’ll notice a number above it that states, “+1546.” The Chinese characters next to the numbers explain, “Compared to yesterday.” This means there is an underlying database that’s tracking daily numbers and being used to calculate the day-to-day differences. Similarly, there’s a number above the infection count of 154,023 that explains, “+20979.” This indicates the day-over-day increase from the previous day.


These numbers are clearly being automatically calculated, because if human error were to blame for typing the wrong numbers representing infections and deaths, it would be extremely unlikely that two more typos would coincidentally appear above those numbers, accidentally showing day-to-day increases that are consistent with a second set of numbers that are obviously being stored in parallel.

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The highest paid.

Major Mainland Chinese Airlines Place All Foreign Pilots On Unpaid Leave (SCMP)

All foreign pilots working for China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, and a host of smaller mainland Chinese carriers have been placed on indefinite unpaid leave, according to multiple sources and a memo seen by the Post. With the coronavirus crisis forcing airlines to slash flights, several hundred foreign pilots have seemingly become surplus overnight, with some telling the Post they were considering their options amid the uncertainty now facing the world’s fastest-growing air market. “All foreign pilots, including those who have applied for leave exemption and those who have not, shall start a non-fixed term leave without pay as soon as possible,” a Tuesday memo to a batch of foreign pilots for China Southern, the country’s largest carrier, said.


Their grounding was effective that day, with the pilots told they would “return to work when [the] situation gets better.” Xiamen Airlines along with Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines (BCA) – a trio of carriers owned by debt-laden HNA Group – have also placed foreign aircrew on unpaid leave, according to multiple sources. A source at BCA said their pilots had been offered the option of taking a significant pay cut that would bring them in line with their Chinese counterparts. China Eastern Airlines, meanwhile, was understood to have offered unpaid leave to its foreign pilots but had not made it mandatory at this point.

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The trade deal should be the least of Beijing’s worries by now.

Also, there are suggestions here that new cases rise less fast than before. But severe cases seem to rise.

With Virus Deaths At 565 China Considers Trade Deal Disaster Clause (SCMP)

Daily deaths caused by the new coronavirus have reached another record in China, with 73 fatalities confirmed in figures released by health authorities on Thursday morning, taking the death toll in mainland China to 563. The number of new infections in mainland China and Hubei province both fell on Wednesday compared to the day before, with 3,694 additional cases in the country and 2,987 in Hubei, national and provincial health authorities announced Thursday morning. The last time new infection figures dropped was January 28, with the daily increase in confirmed cases in China and Hubei steadily rising to a record high on Tuesday – 3,887 and 3,156, respectively. The deadly new coronavirus, which first emerged at the end of December, has killed at least 565 people worldwide, and sickened more than 28,000.

Mainland media on Tuesday reported that China may consider using a disaster-related clause in the phase one trade deal with the US because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Global Times, a nationalist newspaper affiliated to People’s Daily, cited an unnamed Chinese trade expert close to the government as saying a decision on launching a consultation with the US on the disaster clause was unlikely until the end of the first quarter. In a commentary published on Wednesday, the newspaper said that even if China was unable to reach the goal of increasing purchases from the US, there was still a sensible path forward without jeopardising the agreement and the negotiation process.

“The phase one agreement clearly stated that the two parties would consult with each other, ‘in the event that a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event outside the control of the parties delays a party from timely complying with its obligations under this agreement’. Without doubt the epidemic fits this scenario,” it said.

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Very popular man, I’m sure.

Chinese Scholar Blames Xi Jinping, CCP For Not Controlling Outbreak (SCMP)

A prominent Chinese scholar has published an article criticising the country’s leadership for failing to control the coronavirus outbreak that has infected almost 25,000 people around the world. Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, who has been under close surveillance by the authorities, blamed Communist Party leaders for putting politics ahead of the people in his strongly worded piece, which was published on several overseas Chinese-language websites this week. “The political system has collapsed under the tyranny, and a governance system [made up] of bureaucrats, which has taken [the party] more than 30 years to build has floundered,” he said in a reference to how reform-minded leaders sought to rebuild the country and modernise the government after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and moved away from one-man rule to collective leadership.

Xu was suspended from teaching at Tsinghua University in 2018, after the publication of an article in which he criticised the decision by party leaders to lift the two-term limit for presidents, allowing Xi Jinping to remain in office beyond his second term, which ends in 2023. His latest criticism came as China’s leaders and law enforcement officials warned that internet controls must be tightened to prevent the spread of rumours and misinformation. On Monday, Xi chaired a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee at which it was agreed that officials must maintain a tight grip on online media and direct public opinion about “winning the war over the virus”.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Security held a meeting to remind all police officers that political security was of utmost importance in handling the outbreak. The police would “strike harshly” on any and all disruption by “hostile forces”, according to a report by Xinhua. One of Xu’s close friends confirmed on Wednesday that the professor had written the article. “He has already been stripped of his teaching position but he is likely to face more punishment this time,” said the person, who asked not to be named. “We are concerned they [the police] will take him away now that he has published this article.”

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There’s no such thing. Ridiculous headline.

Who Owns The Coronavirus Cure? (SCMP)

China has applied to patent a drug candidate being developed by Gilead Sciences as the government rushes to find the cure for the deadly coronavirus, a move that could raise questions on intellectual property and marketing rights. The state-backed Institute of Virology in Wuhan filed the patent for using remdesivir to fight the novel coronavirus on January 21, according to a statement posted on its website two weeks later on February 4. If approved, the drug will be used to facilitate its potential global market entry, it added. Studies have been conducted outside the human bodies and found that Gilead’s remdesivir compound and the off-patent chloroquine malaria drug are both “highly effective” in the control of coronavirus infection, the Wuhan institute and the Beijing Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology said in a research published in Cell Research Journal.


“Since these compounds have [separately] been used in human patients with a safety track record and shown to be effective against various ailments, we suggest that they should be assessed in human patients suffering from the novel coronavirus disease,” the researchers wrote. Remdesivir has not been approved anywhere globally and has not been showed to be safe or effective for any use, Gilead’s chief medical officer Merdad Parsey said in a statement on Friday. The firm is working with Chinese health authorities to conduct a clinical trial on patients with pneumonia symptoms to test its safety and efficacy, it said. Past clinical data on other coronaviruses give it “hope,” it added.

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3 Turley articles today. One at the Hill, one at the BBC, one on his own site.

When The Dems lost to Trump in 2016, I said his role was to show how rotten the entire system is. And that they should take a good look at themselves, and try to figure out how that loss could ever come about. They never did, they only ever and exclusively looked at Trump, not themselves. This will not change as long as Hillary, Biden, Schiff et al lead the party.

Pelosi Shreds Decades Of Tradition In Demonstrating Against Trump (Turley)

Forty-four years ago, I walked on to the floor of the House of Representatives as a new Democratic 15-year-old page from Chicago. I stood and marveled at the beehive of activity on the floor in the People’s House. I can still remember that moment because it forged a bond and reverence that has never weakened for me. As a Democratic leadership page during the speakership of Tip O’Neill, I watched some of the most passionate and important debates of the generation from the Neutron Bomb to civil rights legislation to sweeping national park bills. The country was deeply divided, but both parties maintained the tradition of civility and decorum. I was struck how members, even in the heat of furious debates, would not attack each other by name and followed rigid principles of decorum.

They understood that they were the custodians of this institution and bore a duty to strengthen and pass along those traditions to the next generation. That is why I was (and remain) so offended by this display. I believe that President Trump himself is worthy of criticism for not shaking the hand of Pelosi. I also did not approve of aspects of his speech, including bestowing the Medal of Freedom on Rush Limbaugh in the gallery like a reality show surprise scene. There was much to object to in the address, but presidents often make comments that enrage or irritate speakers. However, none of that excuses Pelosi. At that moment, she represents the House as an institution — both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, she decided to become little more than a partisan troll from an elevated position.

The protests of the Democratic members also reached a new low for the House. Pelosi did not gavel out the protest. She seemed to join it. It was the tradition of the House that a speaker must remain in stone-faced neutrality no matter what comes off that podium. The tradition ended last night with one of the more shameful and inglorious moments of the House in its history. Rather than wait until she left the floor, she decided to demonstrate against the President as part of the State of the Union and from the Speaker’s chair. That made it a statement not of Pelosi but of the House. For those of us who truly love the House as an institution, it was one of the lowest moments to unfold on the floor. That is why I argue in the Hill that, if Pelosi does not apologize and agree to honor the principle of neutrality and civility at the State of the Union, she should resign as speaker.

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Tweet: “Buttigieg campaign manager’s wife owns the app company that ruined the Iowa caucuses, and his campaign DONATED $42,500.00 to that same company, Shadow Inc.”

The video is educative.

Buttigieg and Sanders Separated By Razor-Thin Margin In Iowa (Pol.)

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are running neck and neck in the Iowa caucuses with almost all of the votes counted. Buttigieg has 26.23 percent of the state delegate count to 26.06 percent for Sanders with 97 percent of precincts reporting, making the race too close to call, according to The Associated Press. Elizabeth Warren is in third at 18 percent of the state delegate count, followed by Joe Biden at nearly 16 percent and Amy Klobuchar at 12 percent. After a technical meltdown created significant delays in the reporting of results in Monday’s caucuses, the Iowa Democratic Party released almost all of the remaining data Wednesday night. The latest results came as CNN wrapped up a series of town halls with candidates in New Hampshire.

Earlier results came Wednesday afternoon as Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar were in the Senate voting in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Republican-led chamber ultimately voted to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as the numbers from Iowa were released. The latest results don’t change the order of the top five candidates, but they do show a razor-thin race at the top, where both the Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns have already declared themselves winners. Buttigieg insisted as early as Monday night that he was the clear victor, and he reportedly reassured supporters of that in a phone call on Wednesday. Sanders, meanwhile, told supporters in New Hampshire that he was leading in popular-vote totals and would come out of Iowa with the same number of national convention delegates as Buttigieg.


In terms of raw votes, Sanders leads in by more than 2,500 votes in the final alignment of Iowa caucus-goers, after supporters of non-viable candidates had the chance to realign at their precincts on Monday night.

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The entire impeachment trial was based on Trump wanting dirt on his “main political rival”. But Biden was never that. At the time of the Trump/Zelensky call, enough was known about Hunter/Burisma to realize Joe had no chance. And there was very little to suggest that Hunter/Burisma did not warrant an investigation. But Dems keep on saying it was “debunked”, without being able to suggest who did the debunking.

Biden Vows To Press On Despite Iowa ‘Gut Punch’ (BBC)

White House hopeful Joe Biden has called his poor performance in the Democrats’ first 2020 leadership vote, in Iowa’s caucuses, a “gut punch”. Mr Biden has come fourth, according to incomplete results from the election to pick a Democratic presidential nominee. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Mr Biden said. “This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been knocked down.” With most results declared in Monday’s glitch-plagued caucuses, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are neck and neck. But Mr Biden told an audience in New Hampshire: “I’m not going anywhere.”

According to partial results from Iowa, the former US vice-president under Barack Obama has failed to pick up a single one of the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic White House nomination under America’s quirky political system. New Hampshire will be the next state to vote on 11 February in a string of nationwide votes culminating with the crowning of the party’s presidential candidate in July. Eleven contenders remain in the race to challenge President Donald Trump, a Republican, in November’s election.

[..] On Wednesday, Mr Biden sharpened his attacks, targeting the two Democratic front-runners by name. “We need a nominee who can help Democrats up and down the ticket,” Mr Biden said. He suggested that self-described democratic socialist Mr Sanders would be unelectable in a general election. Mr Biden also said it would be a “risk” to nominate 38-year-old Mr Buttigieg, “someone who’s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people”. Mr Buttigieg responded by saying “the bulk of the credit for the achievements of the Obama administration belong with President Obama”.

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As go strictly partisan battles.

In This Impeachment, People Only Heard What They Wanted To (Turley)

Recently, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell declared that his show will not allow Trump supporters on as guests because all Trump supporters are “liars”. Likewise, Trump recently denounced Fox for even interviewing Democratic senators. When that is the state of our news, why should trials be any different? In our hardened political silos, even Framers are bit players in a crushingly formulaic play. Witnesses are as immaterial as facts when the public demands the same predictability from politicians that they do from cable hosts. We are all to blame. Politicians achieve their offices by saying what voters want to hear and today voters have little tolerance for hearing anything that contradicts their preset views of Trump.

As a result, the trial was pre-packed by popular demand. Speaker Nancy Pelosi even declared that Trump would “not be acquitted” even if he was acquitted. When the actual vote doesn’t matter, why should the actual testimony? Just as voters get the government that they deserve, they also get the impeachment trials that they demand. Watching on their favourite biased cable networks, voters raged at the bias of the opposing side in the impeachment as refusing to see the truth. Viewers thrilled as their side denounced their opponents and hissed when those opponents returned the criticism. The question and answer period even took on a crossfire format as senators followed up one side’s answer with a request for the other side to respond.

It was precisely the “fight, fight” tempo that has made cable news a goldmine. As the trial ends, perhaps justice has been done. The largely partisan vote showed that the trial could have had the sound turned off for the purposes of most viewers. We are left with our rage undiluted by reason. It really did not matter what anyone had to say because we were only hearing half of the trial anyway. It provided the perfect verdict on our times.

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Nancy should go home and be a grandma. She acted like a 5-year old during and after the SOTU. You don’t express your “hatred” of someone by imitating their behavior. Grace.

Nancy Pelosi Should Resign (Turley)

The House has its share of infamies, great and small, real and symbolic, and has been the scene of personal infamies from brawls to canings. But the conduct of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the State of the Union address this week will go down as a day of infamy for the chamber as an institution. It has long been a tradition for House Speakers to remain stoic and neutral in listening to the address. However, Pelosi seemed to be intent on mocking President Trump from behind his back with sophomoric facial grimaces and head shaking, culminating in her ripping up a copy of his address.

Her drop the mic moment will have a lasting impact on the House. While many will celebrate her trolling of the president, she tore up something far more important than a speech. Pelosi has shredded decades of tradition, decorum and civility that the nation could use now more than ever. The House Speaker is more than a political partisan, particularly when carrying out functions such as the State of the Union address. A president appears in the House as a guest of both chambers of Congress. The House Speaker represents not her party or herself but the entirety of the chamber. At that moment, she must transcend her own political ambitions and loyalties.

Tensions for this address were high. The House impeachment managers sat as a group in front of the president as a reminder of the ongoing trial. That can be excused as a silent but pointed message from the Democrats. Trump hardly covered himself with glory by not shaking hands with Pelosi. I also strongly disliked elements of his address which bordered on “check under your seat” moments, and the awarding of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom inside the House gallery like a Mardi Gras bead toss. However, if Trump made the State of the Union look like Oprah, then Pelosi made it look like Jerry Springer.

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Yeah. Buttigieg’s campaign manager is married to a woman who owns Shadow Inc. , which produced an app developed by among others Hillary’s campaign manager Robby Mook. And Bloomberg has his people inside the DNC. As does Biden, obviously. It smells like incest.

Bloomberg Surrogates Have Seats on DNC Rules Committees (Sludge)

As the Democratic National Committee establishes procedures for the Democratic presidential nominating process, two members of DNC rules committees simultaneously work on the campaign of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Having surrogates on the Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee and the Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee could be a boon for Bloomberg if nominating rules are re-opened for amendment ahead of the July convention. Some DNC members who are concerned about the polling support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) have discussed reversing rule changes limiting the power of superdelegates that were put in place after the 2016 election, according to a report from Politico. Those discussions have been sharply rebuked by DNC leadership.

The DNC passed intensely-negotiated rule changes in August 2018 that sought to reduce the influence of superdelegates—appointed at-large delegates whose ranks include influential party consultants—primarily by preventing them from casting votes on the first nomination ballot, as they did in 2016. If no candidate receives a majority on the first ballot at the upcoming convention, which will be voted on by 3,979 pledged delegates, then the 771 superdelegates—including some lobbyists for corporate clients—can vote on the second ballot, under the new rules. If the superdelegates were to vote as a block, they could add over 16% to a candidate, potentially pushing their favorite over the top.

Michael Nutter, the former Mayor of Philadelphia who is a member of the Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee, was selected by Bloomberg in December 2019 to serve as his campaign’s national political chair. “Nutter will advise the campaign on policy development and strategy, and serve as a national surrogate on behalf of the campaign, recruiting key voices to join the campaign and traveling to field offices and events, speaking to constituents and press about why Mike Bloomberg is uniquely qualified to unite and rebuild the country at a time when it is more divided than ever,” the Bloomberg campaign said in a December statement.

Nutter was nominated by former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in 2013 and he has served on the rules committee since 2017. Nutter co-hosted a kick-off fundraiser for former vice president Joe Biden in April 2019 after Bloomberg announced a month earlier that he would not run for president, but he quickly switched to Bloomberg’s camp after the former New York mayor reversed course and entered the race.

Read more …

 

Who needs drug labs?

 

 

 

Please donate what you can.

 

Feb 052020
 


DPC Pine Street below Kearney after the great San Francisco earthquake and fire 1906

 

China Applies For Drug Patent, Virus Death Toll +65 To 492 (SCMP)
Cruise Ship Carrying 3,700 Quarantined In Japan After 10 Test Positive (G.)
China’s Airlines Told Not To Axe Global Flights As Thousands Cut (R.)
Cathay Pacific Asks All 27,000 Employees To Take 3 Weeks Unpaid Leave (SCMP)
Trump-Pelosi Feud Erupts During SOTU As Impeachment Trial Nears End (R.)
Ocasio-Cortez Among 10 Democrats Planning To Boycott State Of The Union (G.)
Joe Biden Flopped In Iowa. And So Did The Democratic Party’s Reputation (G.)
The Big Tech Money Behind The App That Brought Chaos To The Iowa Caucus (F.)
Oil Flips Into Contango, Indicating Months Of Surplus (R.)
Britain To Ban New Petrol And Hybrid Cars From 2035 (R.)
Tesla Shares March Toward $1,000 (R.)
Musk’s Tesla Stake Worth $30 Billion After Electrifying Stock Surge (R.)
Council of Europe Sides With Julian Assange (IA)

 

 

Here we go again. The WuhanCorona virus continues on its record-setting path.

• Total cases 24,542 (+3872)

• 4,105 new cases in China (record daily high)

• 492 deaths (+65, also a record daily high)

• 185,555 cases under medical observation

Note: this pic below comes from a SCMP app that constantly updates. Numbers in articles do not necessarily. Therefore, they don’t always “add up”.

Note also the addition of recovered cases.

 

 

A few pics I picked up. How stark would you like it?

 

Here someone is trying to make the argument that the mortality rate is falling. That would be great, but I’m not sure it is true. Many factors have changed since the count began.

 

 

 

Gilead’s remdesivir looks like a Hail Mary. Not sure what the new patent application entails. A general anti-viral that came out of Ebola research?!

China Applies For Drug Patent, Virus Death Toll +65 To 492 (SCMP)

Daily deaths caused by the new coronavirus have reached yet another record high in China, with 65 fatalities – all in Hubei province – confirmed in overnight figures released by health authorities. The newly reported fatalities took the death toll in mainland China to 490. According to data released on Wednesday morning by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), confirmed cases around the country rose by 3,887 – also a daily record high – to 24,324, the majority of which were in Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak. Cases of the novel coronavirus in Hubei rose by 3,156 to 16,678, according to provincial figures as of midnight on Tuesday. Almost 2,000 of those new cases were confirmed in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated at a seafood and meat market.

China has applied for a new patent on an experimental drug to treat the coronavirus. Wuhan Institute of Virology said in an online notice that a patent application had been filed on January 21 for the use of remdesivir, a drug developed by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. The drug has not been approved or licensed anywhere in the world, but has been rushed into trials in China after showing signs of effective use on coronavirus patients. Chinese scientists have found remdesivir – and chloroquine, an 80-year-old malaria drug – “highly effective” in laboratory studies aimed at thwarting the coronavirus, they said in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Cell Research.

The two drugs’ effect on humans required further clinical tests, the Wuhan institute said in the online notice. It made the patent application in the national interest and would not exercise its patent rights if foreign pharmaceutical firms worked with China to curb the contagion, it said.

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The only people that can get off the ship are the ones that are confirmed infected. Hell on water.

One 80-year-old tested positive After leaving the ship. Then 273 were tested. When the first 31 results came in, 10 tested positive. That leaces 3,300 untested?

Cruise Ship Carrying 3,700 Quarantined In Japan After 10 Test Positive (G.)

Thousands of people face spending the next fortnight stuck on a luxury cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama, after initial results showed 10 passengers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The Diamond Princess, with more than 3,700 passengers and crew onboard, had been prevented from sailing on Monday after an 80-year-old passenger who had travelled on the vessel late last month tested positive after he arrived home in Hong Kong. Of a further 273 people on board who have since been tested following health screenings, 31 results had come back – and of those 10 were positive, according to Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato. It is not clear if more tests will be carried out.

Also on Wednesday, health checks began on 1,800 passengers and crew on a second cruise ship docked in Hong Kong, after 30 staff members reported symptoms including fever, according to Reuters. Hong Kong’s health department said that 90% of the passengers were Hong Kongers and no mainland Chinese were on board. Previously, three mainland Chinese that had been on the ship between 19 and 24 January, and were found to have contracted the virus. No passengers have been able to leave the World Dream ship, operated by Dream Cruises, without permission. David Abel, a British passenger who has been on the Diamond Princess for more than two weeks, said that people were now being confined to their cabins.

“We’re not even allowed to open the cabin door to go down the corridor. They bring the food to us – it’s a knock on the door. For the first time ever the crew are masked up,” he said. [..] Two Australians are among the 10 people who have tested positive, the cruise company Carnival confirmed. The other people infected are three Japanese, three from Hong Kong, one American and one Filipino crewmember. The patients, who are reportedly aged in their 50s to their 80s, were being removed from the ship by the coast guard and taken to local hospitals. The ship’s owner, Princess Cruises, said 3,711 people were aboard the ship, consisting of 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew. About half of the passengers are from Japan, with 223 Australians on the vessel.

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They’ll be stopped soon enough. There are no other options left.

China’s Airlines Told Not To Axe Global Flights As Thousands Cut (R.)

China’s civil aviation authority has urged domestic carriers to continue flying international routes as they consider cuts in response to a drop in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday. Airline capacity is being axed in the world’s second largest aviation market with “the most dramatic change in schedules”, OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd said, adding that more than 25,000 flights to, from or within China will be canceled this week. The coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 400 people in China, has resulted in bans or restrictions on travel to and from China imposed by countries including Singapore and Italy. The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had said travel bans were unnecessary.


The Civil Aviation Administration of China’s appeal to the country’s airlines was reported on Xinhua’s account on Chinese messaging app Weibo. Data from aviation statistics provider VariFlight showed 41 Chinese carriers canceled nearly two-thirds of the 16,623 planned flights for Tuesday as of 10:30 a.m. Beijing time (0230 GMT). In addition, 10 regional airlines from Hong Kong and Taiwan had canceled 162 flights, while 37 airlines from other countries canceled 168 flights on the same day, VariFlight said. It also said that some 90,000 flights were canceled between Jan. 10 and Feb. 3, and that about 10,000 planned flights on average have been scrapped each day since the start of February.

Read more …

But Hong Kong’s airline is not listening…

Cathay Pacific Asks All 27,000 Employees To Take 3 Weeks Unpaid Leave (SCMP)

Cathay Pacific is asking all of its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave over the coming months, the company’s CEO told staff on Wednesday, as Hong Kong’s flagship carrier reels from the devastating impact of the deadly coronavirus on air travel. “I am appealing to each and everyone one of you to help,” said Augustus Tang Kin-wing in a taped video recording. “The situation now is just as grave.” On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier unveiled massive cuts to flying schedules, by 30 per cent worldwide for two months, including in mainland China which would see 90 per cent of its capacity cut during that period.

Read more …

Grace, Nancy. It has a place. You lost your gamble, and the way you take your losses tells people a lot about you.

Trump-Pelosi Feud Erupts During SOTU As Impeachment Trial Nears End (R.)

A bitter feud between U.S. President Donald Trump and top Democrat Nancy Pelosi boiled over at his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, with Trump denying her a handshake and Pelosi ripping apart a copy of his remarks behind his back. Trump avoided the subject of his impeachment drama in a pugnacious 80-minute speech, but the raw wounds from the battle were evident with fellow Republicans giving him standing ovations while rival Democrats for the most part remained seated. The Republican-led Senate was expected to acquit him of charges he abused his powers and obstructed Congress during a vote beginning at 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday.


How some Republicans watched SOTU

Seeing Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, for the first time since she stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago, Trump declined to shake her outstretched hand as he gave her a paper copy of his remarks before starting to speak. Despite having not spoken to Trump since their last meeting, Pelosi appeared to be taken aback. She avoided citing the customary “high privilege and distinct honor” that usually accompanies the speaker’s introduction of the president to Congress. “Members of Congress, the President of the United States” was all she said in introducing Trump.


When his speech ended, Pelosi stood and tore up her copy of the remarks he had handed her, later telling reporters it was “the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative.” Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, said of Pelosi: “Her hatred for @realdonaldtrump has blinded her to the repulsive nature of her smug, elitist behavior.” After the event, Pelosi tweeted a photo of her with her hand reaching out to Trump and said, “Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done #ForThePeople. We will work to find common ground where we can, but will stand our ground where we cannot. #SOTU”

Read more …

Preaching only to her own little crowd, empty virtue signals. Same as Pelosi: grace has its place.

Ocasio-Cortez Among 10 Democrats Planning To Boycott State Of The Union (G.)

At least 10 Democrats have said they will boycott Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night on the eve of a Senate impeachment trial vote that is expected to acquit him. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, said she would not be attending because she did not want to normalize Trump’s “lawless conduct” and “subversion of the constitution”. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts issued a statement explaining her decision, saying: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress, and contempt for our constitution – strong-arming a sham impeachment trial in the Senate. This presidency is not legitimate.”


“On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent.” Both women attended Trump’s State of the Union speech last year just a month after taking office, but have since been the target of his racist attacks. The two other members of “the Squad” of progressive freshman congresswomen who were also subjected to those attacks, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota confirmed they would attend the address.

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Biden is gone. Buttigieg is suspicious. It’s not about the party’s reputation anymore, it’s about the Party itself.

Joe Biden Flopped In Iowa. And So Did The Democratic Party’s Reputation (G.)

If you’re the type of person who thinks the Democratic party is a creaking, incompetent entity whose leadership needs overthrowing, the Iowa caucuses certainly validated your point of view. None of us knew who would win, but we had at least expected a result. We didn’t get one, at least not on caucus night. State Democratic party officials announced that due to “quality control” issues, release of the result would be indefinitely delayed. On a conference call with representatives of the candidates, party officials hung up the phone when asked when the totals would be released. So what do we know? Well, one thing we can say confidently is that “frontrunner” Joe Biden flopped.

There were places where Biden didn’t even meet the 15% threshold needed to maintain viability from the first round to the second round – at one caucus site, the attorney general of Iowa had to switch from Biden to Buttigieg when Biden was disqualified. It explains why Biden’s surrogate John Kerry was heard on the phone the other day asking whether it would be possible for him to enter the race at the last minute to save the Democratic party from being conquered by Sanders. Internal numbers released by the Sanders campaign, showing results from 40% of caucus sites, showed Sanders winning with approximately 30% of the vote, Pete Buttigieg coming in second with 25%, Elizabeth Warren third with 21%, and Joe Biden a very distant fourth with 12%.

If those numbers match the ultimate totals, they are great for Sanders and absolutely horrific for Biden. Sanders will have kicked the crap out of the frontrunner, Barack Obama’s former vice-president and the man most favored to win the nomination. It would be a stunning upset. But Biden caught a lucky break. With the party not releasing the actual result, his campaign sent a letter demanding that the result be suppressed until such time as the “quality control issues” were resolved. If it takes long enough to get the official count, Biden may hope that Iowa is old news, or that the issues surrounding the caucus are discussed far more than the actual result. (That’s one reason we need to make sure we don’t get bogged down too much in talking about the procedural issues rather than the actual outcome.)

[..] If you’re a Sanders supporter, you have reason to be suspicious. We had already seen the Des Moines Register suppress the results of its “gold standard” poll on the eve of the election, after a complaint from Buttigieg. And with 0% of caucus results in, Buttigieg declared himself “victorious”, praising the “incredible result” and saying Iowa had “shocked the nation”. The only thing that had shocked the nation at this point was Iowa’s total inability to perform the relatively simple task of counting people’s votes. But Buttigieg, good McKinseyite that he is, was getting a head start on deploying the PR spin.

Read more …

“..cutting-edge technology to stymie a Trump re-election..”

The Big Tech Money Behind The App That Brought Chaos To The Iowa Caucus (F.)

The smartphone app that caused a major delay in reporting results during Iowa’s Democratic caucus was funded by both Democratic presidential candidates and Silicon Valley veterans anxious to use cutting-edge technology to stymie a Trump re-election. The app that was supposed to count and report caucus results was created by Shadow Inc., a for-profit tech company cofounded in February 2019 by former Google engineer Kirsta Davis and Gerard Niemira, an engineer who worked at San Francisco microlender Kiva.org. Both later worked on Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign.


Washington D.C.-based Shadow was acquired last year by Acronym, a nonprofit also based in D.C. and founded in March 2017 by former journalist Tara McGowan to advance “progressive causes through innovative communications, advertising and organizing programs.” It has an affiliated political action committee called Pacronym. Silicon Valley heavyweights make up the liberal-leaning roster of Pacronym’s backers. One supporter is billionaire Michael Moritz, a partner at Sequoia Capital, whose net worth of $4.1 billion stems from his early bets on Google, LinkedIn and PayPal. According to Federal Election Committee data, he gave $1 million to Pacronym, or 12.8% of the $7.8 million that it has raised since early 2019.

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Mighty OPEC loses to tiny virus.

Oil Flips Into Contango, Indicating Months Of Surplus (R.)

The oil market looks set for at least four months of depressed demand because of China’s coronavirus outbreak, with a large crude surplus not expected to clear at least until August, analysts and traders said. Fears of a virus-related slump in global energy demand have flipped the market into contango this week – a structure in which longer-dated oil futures trade at a premium that encourages traders to keep crude in storage for more profitable resale in the future. Brent crude has not been in contango since July 2019. On Tuesday the benchmark was in contango for as much as $0.40 a barrel between prices for closest trading month April and August. For U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude the contango between March and July prices was $0.60 a barrel.

The structure of the market has significant implications. Besides encouraging storage of oil, contango also hurts financial investors who have to pay a premium every month they renew a futures contract. [..] Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, said the flip of time spreads into contango is consistent with the physical market suddenly shifting into a large surplus. “While deferred Brent time spreads are too discounted in our view, evidence that Chinese refiners are pushing back on crude shipments and Atlantic loadings points to ongoing weakness for nearby Brent time spreads,” Goldman said in a market note. China has been the main driver of global energy demand growth in recent years and ING Bank said the market is clearly worried that Chinese refinery demand will retreat.

“The issue for the market is if travel restrictions continue for an extended period … demand loss will become increasingly difficult for the market to swallow,” ING said, adding OPEC+ could come under increasing pressure to cut output by more than laid out in their existing supply pact.

Read more …

Until you have been explained exactly where the electricity will come from, this is nothing but a swindle. Do you like being swindled?

Britain To Ban New Petrol And Hybrid Cars From 2035 (R.)

Britain will ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035, five years earlier than planned, in an attempt to reduce air pollution that could herald the end of over a century of reliance on the internal combustion engine. The step amounts to a victory for electric cars that if copied globally could hit the wealth of oil producers, as well as transform the car industry and one of the icons of 20th Century capitalism: the automobile itself. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to use the announcement to elevate the United Kingdom’s environmental credentials after he sacked the head of a Glasgow U.N. Climate Change Conference planned for November known as COP26.


“We have to deal with our CO2 emissions,” Johnson said at a launch event for COP26 at London’s Science Museum on Tuesday. “As a country and as a society, as a planet, as a species, we must now act.” The government said that, subject to consultation, it would end the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans in 2035, or earlier if a faster transition was possible. Countries and cities around the world have announced plans to crack down on diesel vehicles following the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal and the EU is introducing tougher carbon dioxide rules. The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens have said they plan to ban diesel vehicles from city centres by 2025. France is preparing to ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040.

Read more …

Trading hot air.

Tesla Shares March Toward $1,000 (R.)

Shares of Tesla Inc surged 20% on Tuesday to hit $940, extending a stunning rally that has more than doubled the company’s market value since the start of the year as more investors bet on Chief Executive Elon Musk’s vision. The latest surge was partly fueled by Panasonic saying on Monday its automotive battery venture with Tesla was in the black for the first time. “Investors are now starting to believe that Tesla can make mass-volume electric vehicles, and automakers, battery makers and suppliers can make money from EVs,” said Cho Hyun-ryul, analyst at Samsung Securities. Some analysts have attributed the rally to short covering as well. Short interest in Tesla stood at 13.8% as of Jan. 30, according to Refinitiv data.


Shares of heavily shorted companies can at times get pushed higher as traders rush to buy stock to cover their short bets, triggering what is known as a “short squeeze”. Panasonic shares closed up 10%, while those of Tesla’s Asian suppliers South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL also closed higher. Tesla’s surge on Tuesday valued the company at nearly $170 billion, nearly double the combined market capitalization of General Motors and Ford Motor. Tesla last week reported a second consecutive quarterly profit and said it would comfortably make more than half a million vehicles this year. Billionaire investor Ron Baron, whose firm holds a nearly 1% stake in Tesla, said he will not be selling a single Tesla share, adding he believes the carmaker could hit $1 trillion in revenue in 10 years.

Read more …

Fridges for Inuit.

Musk’s Tesla Stake Worth $30 Billion After Electrifying Stock Surge (R.)

Tesla is making Elon Musk a lot richer without paying him a dime. A blistering stock rally has bolstered the value of CEO Musk’s 19% stake in the electric car maker by $16 billion since the start of 2020, to $30 billion. Tuesday’s steep climb in the share price could sweeten Musk’s payday under his record-breaking compensation package, which is built on stock options that rely on market value targets. Two milestones have now been achieved that could see Musk unlock options worth $1.8 billion. The controversial chief executive, who is also the majority owner and CEO of rocket maker SpaceX, recently testified that he did not have a lot of cash as he successfully defended himself in a defamation lawsuit. He previously has taken loans using his Tesla shares as collateral.


Musk does not take a salary, choosing instead a risky options package that envisions the stock market value of Tesla rising to $650 billion over 10 years, a prospect that was derided by some investors when the deal was announced in 2018. That target now looks less crazy. Shares of Tesla have rallied over 50% since the company posted its second consecutive quarterly profit last Wednesday, which was viewed as a major accomplishment for a company competing against established automotive heavyweights including General Motors Co and BMW. Tesla shares have climbed about 400% since early June, helped by the company’s better-than-expected financial results and ramped-up production at its new car factory in Shanghai. [..] Musk’s Tesla stake worth $30 billion after electrifying stock surge

Read more …

Now apply the Force.

Council of Europe Sides With Julian Assange (IA)

The attitude of European institutions is changing after years of silence. In this case, it was Andrej Hunko and Gianni Marilotti that convinced the European Assembly to speak up. The moment that press freedom advocates have been waiting for so long has finally arrived. The European institutions are starting to officially state that they don’t want Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has become the first one to step in and call for Assange’s immediate release, joining the call of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, who some months ago clearly stated that Assange should walk free.

The call was made on the 28th of January, 2020, when the PACE was debating on a resolution for the Member States included in a report on Threats to Media Freedom and Journalists’ Security in Europe. Drafted by the Labour member of the British House of Lords, George Foulkes, the document opens stating that the Council of Europe and its Assembly are firmly committed to strengthening media freedom in all its aspects, including the right to access to information, the safeguard of editorial independence and of ‘the ability to investigate, criticise and contribute to public debate without fear of pressure or interference’. Several amendments to the report were proposed inside the PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, and Lord Foulkes, who is part of it, was happy to accept the one on Assange.

Lord Foulkes said: “UK colleagues supported it because we don’t want to see him extradited by the UK Government to the United States and facing centuries in prison.” The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading institution on human rights and includes 47 member states, 28 of which are also part of the European Union. What this Parliamentary Assembly, made up of members of national legislatures says about freedom of the press is something civil society should take notice of. In this light, you would hope that the work of Wikileaks and his founder can hardly be forgotten. Or maybe it could — it seemed to be surprisingly off the agenda until some weeks ago, but January 2020 seems to have marked a change of course.

Read more …

 

Every color is home to 1 billion people. Find Wuhan on the map.

 

 

 

Please donate what you can.

 

Feb 042020
 


DPC The heart of Chinatown, San Francisco, after the earthquake and fire 1906

 

China Death Toll Hits 427 As New Cases In Hubei Increase By Record High (SCMP)
Coronavirus: China Admits ‘Shortcomings And Deficiencies’ (BBC)
Chinese Military Takes Control Of Medical Supplies In Wuhan (SCMP)
Coronavirus Tally In Epicentre Wuhan May Be ‘Just The Tip Of The Iceberg’ (SCMP)
‘Striking’ Coronavirus Mutations Found Within One Family Cluster (SCMP)
Coronavirus Found On Doorknob Of Infected Patient (ZH)
Gordon Chang: Chinese Authorities Falsifying Coronavirus Death Toll (SAC)
Crisis-O-Rama (Jim Kunstler)
Press Freedom Is At Risk If We Allow Julian Assange’s Extradition (G.)
2019 Was Record-Breaking Year For Supertall Skyscrapers (DeZeen)
Unprecedented Cybersecurity Measures To Safeguard Iowa Caucus Results (DMR)

 

 

Lots of Wuhan corona again today, how can I not? For coverage of the Dems boondoggle, see the bottom of this aggregator.

Quite a few articles from SCMP (South China Morning Post), which appears to be “opening up” its news on the crisis. To suggest that what we know about Wuhan may just be the tip of the iceberg is some statement for a Chinese paper. Just last week they could have been arrested for spreading false rumors. SCMP may be based in Hong Kong, but it is owned by Alibaba.

Today’s numbers:

• 20,670 cases (was 17,480 yesterday)

• 427 deaths (was 362 yesterday)

• Mortality rate for city of Wuhan has reached 4.9%. Mortality rate for Hubei province is 3.1%.
– Mortality rate is predicted by doctors to drop because extra medical attention is available, but that extra threatens to be overwhelmed right away. Shortages of beds, equipment, test kits, protective clothing etc.

• New cases in Hubei province reach record high

• First death in Hong Kong, first case in Belgium

• 171,329 cases under observation, up 18,629 overnight, along with 23,214 suspected cases. (These are very fluid numbers)

 

 

 

 

“The latest figures come as the number of daily casualties – and levels of global fear – rise sharply.”

China Death Toll Hits 427 As New Cases In Hubei Increase By Record High (SCMP)

Health authorities in Hubei announced on Tuesday that coronavirus fatalities in the province had risen to 414 after 64 deaths were reported overnight – yet another daily record. In figures current as of midnight on Monday, the health commission of Hubei also reported 2,345 new cases of infection. Of those, 1,242 were reported in Wuhan, the province’s capital and epicentre of the deadly contagion, also known as 2019-nCoV. There have been 425 deaths caused by the virus in mainland China and one in the Philippines. The latest figures come as the number of daily casualties – and levels of global fear – rise sharply.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, America’s leading public health institute, on Monday defended what it called “aggressive actions” it is taking to control the US spread of the coronavirus. These include tough warnings against travelling to China and mandatory federal quarantines for those arriving from the Wuhan area where most of the cases come from. Beijing has criticised the US steps. Meanwhile, the economic fallout from the virus continued amid growing concern that global growth could suffer. CNBC reported Monday that Goldman Sachs was cancelling its annual partner meeting in New York this week over concern that Asia-based partners wouldn’t be able to travel.

The US Department of Health and Human Services notified Congress that it may need to tap some US$136 million to combat the outbreak. On other economic fronts, oil fell to its lowest level in over a year during the US trading day Monday on declining Chinese demand.

Read more …

Apparently, Xi has punished over 400 “servants” for failure. When’s his turn?

Coronavirus: China Admits ‘Shortcomings And Deficiencies’ (BBC)

China’s top leadership has admitted “shortcomings and deficiencies” in the country’s response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The Politburo Standing Committee said the national emergency management system had to improve. A crackdown on wildlife markets, where the virus emerged, has been ordered. [..] Chinese television early on Tuesday local time reported new figures from Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, adding another 64 fatalities and 2,345 more cases. The number of deaths in China, excluding Hong Kong, now exceeds the 349 killed on the mainland in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03.


Reports of the standing committee meeting, chaired by President Xi Jinping, were carried by the official Xinhua news agency. It said lessons had to be learned from what had been a “big test” of China’s governance system. “In response to the shortcomings and deficiencies that were exposed responding to this epidemic, we must improve our national emergency management system and improve our abilities in handling urgent and dangerous tasks,” the report said. One area to be tackled is the trade in illegal wildlife, which should be “resolutely banned”, while supervision of markets should be strengthened. It is thought a market in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province was the source of the viral outbreak. On Monday, a study by a Chinese virologist said bats were the likely source.

Read more …

Any way, Xi and the CCP have seen enough. I see everyone talk about that new hospital built in 5 minutes, but with 18,269 added to observation alone in one night, maybe that focus is misplaced.

Chinese Military Takes Control Of Medical Supplies In Wuhan (SCMP)

China has deployed hundreds of military officers to control the flow of medical and essential supplies in Wuhan, ground zero of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, state media and sources said. A People’s Liberation Army logistics team of 260 officers, with 130 military trucks, started delivering basic supplies on Sunday, according to state broadcaster CCTV. It said they delivered 200 tonnes of supplies to supermarkets in the Hubei province city of 11 million people on the first day. The team is made up of officers from the PLA’s airborne troops and air force stationed at the Wuhan garrison, and ground force troops from local military academies.


The logistics operation began the same day as 1,400 medical personnel from the PLA were sent to staff the first completed temporary hospital in Wuhan. The Huoshenshan hospital, which was built from scratch in eight days in response to the crisis and will be controlled by the military, was due to open on Monday. A defence ministry statement said the medical staff deployment had been personally approved by President Xi Jinping. A source close to the PLA, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the logistics team was there to make sure donations to charity organisations like the Red Cross Society reached their intended recipients. “The Beijing leadership realised that almost all the donation points in Hubei and Wuhan have had delivery problems, that there are some opportunists using this crisis to make money,” the military source said.

Read more …

“Testing kits are in short supply, meaning only the ‘fortunate’ who test positive are admitted to hospital for treatment…”

“A doctor at the Union Hospital in Wuhan, who declined to be identified, said staff could only test about 100 patients a day, and they had to wait 48 hours for the results.”

Coronavirus Tally In Epicentre Wuhan May Be ‘Just The Tip Of The Iceberg’ (SCMP)

The official number of coronavirus cases in Wuhan might not reflect the true scale of the crisis as there may be many patients who are undiagnosed and not reported, medical experts said. Wuhan – the city of 11 million people where the deadly virus outbreak began in December – has so far reported more than 5,000 confirmed cases of the pneumonia-like illness, or about one-third of the total number across mainland China. But some medical experts have expressed concern that the real number could be much higher because cases are only classified as confirmed once a patient has twice tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus. Given that there is also a shortage of coronavirus testing kits, the figure could be much lower than it actually is.

Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory medicine expert from Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the official tally in Wuhan could be “just the tip of the iceberg” because it only reflected the acute cases where patients were admitted to hospital. “There are many community cases that remain undiagnosed – unlike in Hong Kong, where cases are more carefully handled, including the mild ones. Of the 15 confirmed cases [in Hong Kong], 10 of [the patients] didn’t even need to be put on oxygen,” Hui said. “So we’re talking about different denominators here. For an actual picture, one usually has to wait until after the outbreak settles for a general population, zero-prevalence study to be carried out – where blood tests would reflect the number of positive cases containing the antibody without presenting the symptoms,” Hui said.

[..] A doctor at the Union Hospital in Wuhan, who declined to be identified, said staff could only test about 100 patients a day, and they had to wait 48 hours for the results. “When the National Health Commission announces the numbers, they’re already two days old,” the doctor said. “We also have to turn away patients with mild symptoms, knowing that many of them will return later [when their condition worsens]. But we don’t have the space in the testing centre, or the hospital beds.” [..] “There have also been many patients who died of undifferentiated respiratory and undiagnosed pneumonia symptoms in Wuhan since December – before the virus testing kits were made available,” Tsang said.

Read more …

This is what worries the experts. Any mutation can mean a more infectious and deadly virus.

‘Striking’ Coronavirus Mutations Found Within One Family Cluster (SCMP)

Chinese scientists say they have detected “striking” mutations in a new coronavirus that may have occurred during transmission between family members. While the effects of the mutations on the virus are not known, they do have the potential to alter the way the virus behaves. Researchers studying a cluster of infections within a family in the southern province of Guangdong said the genes of the virus went through some significant changes as it spread within the family. Viruses mutate all the time, but most changes are synonymous or “silent”, having little effect on the way the virus behaves. Others, known as nonsynonymous substitutions, can alter biological traits, allowing them to adapt to different environments.

Two nonsynonymous changes took place in the viral strains isolated from the family, according to a new study by Professor Cui Jie and colleagues at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai. This case indicated “viral evolution may have occurred during person-to-person transmission”, they wrote in the paper published in the journal National Science Review on January 29. “Close monitoring of the virus’s mutation, evolution and adaptation is needed,” they added. Cui’s team also detected a total of 17 nonsynonymous mutations from cases around the country between December 30 and late January, they wrote.

[..] theoretically, mutations can make recovered patients sick again and cheat existing detection methods because they target only a small segment of the viral genome. A study led by University of Minnesota researcher Li Fang predicted that a single mutation at a specific spot in the genome could significantly increase the virus’s ability to bind with cells on the surface of the human respiratory system, according to their paper published in the Journal of Virology on January 29.

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Lovely. Now we have a 2 week incubation time and 5 days on surfaces.

Coronavirus Found On Doorknob Of Infected Patient (ZH)

Until now, the prevailing conventional wisdom was that China’s coronavirus epidemic, which has spread to over 20,600 people around the globe as of February 3, did so by air or, according to some recent and unconfirmed speculation, human feces. That may be about to change. According to the Global Times, new ways of transmitting the coronavirus have been reported, and virus nucleic acid has been detected outside human bodies, sparking public fears that the virus could be transmitted in unknown and undetected ways. Concerns emerged after scientists found coronavirus nucleic acid on the doorknob of a confirmed Guangzhou-based patient’s house, the first case of novel coronavirus detected outside the human body, Guangzhou Daily reported Monday. The finding was confirmed by China’s Health Commission, which said on Monday that the coronavirus can survive for five days maximum on smooth surfaces under suitable circumstances.


That would mean that mobile phone screens, computer keyboards, faucets and other household objects may indirectly transmit the virus, experts said. A man from Northeast China’s Jilin Province, who was confirmed with coronavirus infection on Monday, shared his experience, saying he had used the same microphone with another confirmed patient during a meeting in January. In another case, a 40-year-old man from North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, who lives upstairs of a confirmed patient, was also diagnosed with coronavirus infection on Saturday. Aside from respiratory droplets and contact transmissions, the person has no clear contact histories with people from other cities, patients, or wild animals and has never been to a market, according to the local health authority on Sunday.

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”..what we are witnessing is essentially a breakdown in government and keeping accurate statistics is a very minor part of their priorities right now.”

“This is only going to get worse,” Chang concluded, adding the virus will likely not be contained until “April or May.”

Gordon Chang: Chinese Authorities Falsifying Coronavirus Death Toll (SAC)

Local Chinese authorities have just lost the ability to pick up corpses due to a breakdown in government,” said Gordon Chang, a well known expert on China on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “So really what we are having right now is, they are completely overwhelmed,” Chang added. “They are not able to keep accurate statistics. So what we are witnessing is essentially a breakdown in government and keeping accurate statistics is a very minor part of their priorities right now.” Chang said that while he understands the preventative measure, he believes the quarantine has “made the problem worse.” “I can understand why they want to quarantine but remember, the Wuhan mayor said about 5 million people from his city left before the quarantine was imposed,” he said.


“Also right now the quarantine has aggravated a problem and that is [that] people can’t get to hospitals, so they are at home…they are dying.” “They are infecting other people in their households because they are not, in a sense, quarantined from wives, husbands, brothers, sisters,” he continued. “The quarantine has made the problem worse. It’s also created panic. That panic has had consequences on, for instance, social cohesion which is absolutely necessary if you want to beat an epidemic.” “It’s not just Wuhan,” he said. “Many Virologists think that [conditions in] Wuhan will be duplicated in cities like Shanghai, maybe even Beijing. Clearly there is fear everywhere throughout China right now.” “This is only going to get worse,” Chang concluded, adding the virus will likely not be contained until “April or May.”

Read more …

Releasing a virus to hide economic issues seems a bit far-fetched for now. Not impossible, but we’d like to see some proof.

Crisis-O-Rama (Jim Kunstler)

[..] there’s also a theory that the Coronavirus affords a cover for cascading failures in China’s corrupt and shifty banking system. The country had already stepped across some frontiers in demographics, energy consumption, and industrial growth that were shoving it toward contraction for the first time in two generations. Coronavirus has shut down a lot of production in big things like cars and big-little things like cell phones, and supply lines are shutting down to world markets. This amounts to the first big test of the integrated global economy, as well as the world’s debt-saturated business model. When a lot of parties and counterparties can’t pay each other because their revenue flows are cut off, the securities, currencies, equities, and other abstract representations of wealth go south.

The US and Europe are no better positioned for a crisis in their banking arrangements, and confidence is starting to crack. Both economic mega-regions have relied on central banking hocus-pocus to prop up stock markets and maintain the illusion that the logic of bonds still applies. The first thing to go moneywise in a contracting financial system is the magic of compound interest. The US Federal Reserve has been massively gaming the Repo markets — overnight lending that uses bonds as collateral — since September, raising suspicions that more than one of its “primary dealer” banks are insolvent. Juicing them with “liquidity” is like painting over sheetrock infested with black mold. Looks good for a week or so, and then you’re in intensive care.

Nobody knows yet what the effect of Britain’s escape from the EU will do to the Union’s remainers, but Europe’s bonded debt arrangements are even dodgier than America’s, since there is absolutely no EU central control of each member’s fiscal affairs.

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I kid you not, the Guardian of all outlets has the gall to run a story supporting Julian Assange by a guy named Roy Greenslade. He even quotes editor Kathy Viner, who all but tightened the noose around Julian’s neck along with writer Luke Harding, but now says:

“State power should never be used to suppress the actions of whistleblowers and investigative journalists pursuing stories that are clearly in the public interest. The US extradition case against Julian Assange is a troubling attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know.“

It was the Guardian’s stories on Assange through time that were a troubling attack on press freedom. If you still keep your subscription to them after this, you are lost.

Press Freedom Is At Risk If We Allow Julian Assange’s Extradition (G.)

Later this month, a journalist will appear at a London court hearing in which he faces being extradited to the United States to spend the rest of his life in prison. The 18 charges against him are the direct result of his having revealed a host of secrets, many of them related to the US prosecution of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They included the “collateral murder” video which showed a US helicopter crew shooting 18 people in Baghdad in 2007, including two Reuters war correspondents, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Among the files were thousands of military dispatches and diplomatic cables that enabled people in scores of countries to perceive the relationships between their governments and the US.

They also showed the way in which American diplomats sought to gather personal information about two UN secretary generals. Unsurprisingly, the revelations were gratefully published and broadcast by newspapers and media outlets across the world. “Scoop” is far too mundane a term to describe the staggering range of disclosures. By any journalistic standard, it was a breathtaking piece of reporting, which earned the journalist more than a dozen awards.

So, you might think that this press freedom hero, now incarcerated in Belmarsh prison, would be enjoying supportive banner headlines in Britain’s newspapers ahead of his case. Thus far, however, coverage of his plight has been muted. Why? The answer is that our hero is none other than Julian Assange, the man who skipped bail to avoid an extradition order to Sweden over an allegation of rape, which he denies, and took shelter in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years until police were allowed to enter and arrest him last April. Many falsehoods were told about Assange during his time inside the embassy, including bizarre stories about his smearing faeces on the walls, ruining the floors by skateboarding and torturing a cat.

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It’s really a shame that the term “tall-building syndromw” was already taken by another phenomenon.

2019 Was Record-Breaking Year For Supertall Skyscrapers (DeZeen)

A record 26 towers over 300 metres were completed in 2019 according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, while there was a drop in the number of 200-metre-tall buildings completed. Of the 26 new supertall towers the 530-metre-high Tianjin CTF Finance Centre by SOM is the tallest. It is the seventh tallest skyscraper in the world, along with its sister tower the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre. The record-number of supertall skyscrapers in 2019 beat the previous year’s 18 supertall towers, which was also a record at the time. Following the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, the second tallest building completed in 2019 was the RMJM-designed Lakhta Centre in Russia. At 462 metres high it is currently the tallest building in Europe.


Lakhta Centre, Russia, by RMJM and Gorproject

Algeria set the record for the tallest building on the African continent with the 265-metre-high Great Mosque of Algiers, or Djamaa el Djazaïr. Designed by China State Construction Engineering, the mosque also has the world’s tallest minaret. Another notable supertall was the Exchange 106 Tower in Kuala Lumpar. The £7.6 billion project stalled during the Malaysia Development Berhad embezzlement scandal. At just over 445 metres it was the fourth tallest to complete last year. Overall there was over a 13 per cent drop in the number of buildings completed that were over 200 metres. In 2019 there were 126 of these skyscrapers built compared to 146 in 2018. The CTBUH report suggested this was due to the lag from projects cancelled during the 2008 financial crash, and not a result of more recent global events.

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Hard to believe in many ways. Robby Mook? Why not, and next you’re bringing back Oliver North?!

Unprecedented Cybersecurity Measures To Safeguard Iowa Caucus Results (DMR)

Both parties in Iowa and their app and web development vendors partnered last fall with Harvard’s Defending Digital Democracy Project to develop strategies and systems to protect results and deal with any misinformation that’s reported on caucus night. They worked with campaign experts Robby Mook and Matt Rhodes — as well as experts in cybersecurity, national security, technology and election administration — and simulated the different ways that things could go wrong on caucus night. Mook, 2016 campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, and Rhodes, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, helped develop a public-service video to alert campaigns to the warning signs of hacking and misinformation.

It was released in 2018, days after a federal indictment detailed how Russian intelligence operatives hacked Clinton’s presidential campaign, the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2016. According to the indictment stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference, Russian officers targeted state and county offices in several states, including Iowa, to steal voter data and other information. They were successful in Illinois, but not in Iowa. Ever since, both parties in Iowa have been working to safeguard caucus results and held training sessions to assure caucus leaders know about heightened security measures. Party officials acknowledge the 2020 election cycle poses a heightened threat of disinformation. But “until Mitch McConnell decides to act on the bipartisan-passed House of Representatives election security bills sitting on his desk, cybersecurity prevention will continue to play a growing role in our elections,” Price said.

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Jan 172020
 
 January 17, 2020  Posted by at 10:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Jack Delano Mrs. Marcella Hart, mother of three, employed as a wiper at the roundhouse. Chicago & North Western R.R. 1943

 

BlackRock Will Start Moving Away from Fossil Fuels (NewYorker)
Microsoft Pledges To Eliminate Carbon Footprint By 2050 (Ind.)
With Rivals Stuck In Impeachment Trial, Biden, Buttigieg To Barnstorm Iowa (R.)
Parnas Now Denies Speaking With Trump (WE)
Putin Purged the West from the Kremlin (Luongo)
China’s Economic Growth Hits 29-Year Low (BBC)
Manhattan’s Homeless Shelters Are Full, Luxury Skyscrapers Are Empty (Atl.)
The Loss of Truth In the Media Is a Threat to Our Democracy (Ray Dalio)
Bayer Close To Roundup Settlement – Mediator (R.)
Chemicals In Tap Water Cause Thousands Of Cancer Deaths Across Europe (RT)

 

 

Next week brings not only the Capitol Hill Bizarro circus, there’s also Davos. So we have BlackRock and Microsoft making their solid pledges. Because they see profit in playing nice.

“..there’s about eighty trillion dollars of money on the planet. If that’s correct, then BlackRock’s holding of seven trillion dollars means that nearly a dime of every dollar rests in its digital files”

BlackRock Will Start Moving Away from Fossil Fuels (NewYorker)

If you felt the earth tremble a little bit in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, it was likely caused by the sheer heft of vast amounts of money starting to shift. “Seismic” is the only word to describe the recent decision of the asset-management firm BlackRock to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and begin (emphasis on begin) to start redirecting its investments. By one estimate, there’s about eighty trillion dollars of money on the planet. If that’s correct, then BlackRock’s holding of seven trillion dollars means that nearly a dime of every dollar rests in its digital files, mostly in the form of stocks it invests in for pension funds and the like. So when BlackRock’s C.E.O., Larry Fink, devoted his annual letter to investors to explaining that climate change has now put us “on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” it marked a watershed moment in climate history.

He’s right about the financial future, of course—one can’t look at the clouds of smoke now obscuring the Australian continent and come away thinking that we can maintain our present course. But anyone paying attention—which includes investment-fund C.E.O.s—has known the score for years. What’s changed now are a couple of factors. For one, fossil-fuel stocks have begun to drag down portfolios. As the Times observed, “Had Mr. Fink moved a decade ago to pull BlackRock’s funds out of companies that contribute to climate change, his clients would have been well served. In the past 10 years, through Friday, companies in the S&P 500 energy sector had gained just 2 percent in total. In the same period, the broader S&P 500 nearly tripled.”

But, at least as important, public pressure just keeps mounting. Activist campaigns have been working to make the financial industry start to pay attention. (I’m involved with one, and was among those arrested, on Friday, after a sojourn in the lobby of a Chase branch.) In the past few months, Goldman Sachs, Liberty Mutual, and the Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., have all put forth new climate policies, and the European Investment Bank—the largest international public bank in the world—announced that it would stop lending to fossil-fuel projects altogether.

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CEO Satya Nadella said on the BBC this morning that the world needs much more energy by 2040. Grow the world cleaner! Disregard these lying fools.

Microsoft Pledges To Eliminate Carbon Footprint By 2050 (Ind.)

Microsoft has promised to remove as much carbon as it has put into the atmosphere by 2050 – a goal critics say is undermined by the tech-giant’s ongoing contracts with some of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The pledge – one of the most ambitious to be undertaken by a Fortune 500 company – includes the creation of a “Climate Innovation Fund”, which will invest $1bn (£760m) over the next four years to speed up the development of carbon removal technology. Speaking from Washington, chief executive Satya Nadella said the company would seek to be carbon-negative – taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than it puts in – by 2030. “If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that technology built without these principles can do more harm than good,” he said.

“We must begin to offset the damaging effects of climate change,” Mr Nadella added, commenting that if global temperatures continue to rise unabated “the results will be devastating”. The move was lauded by politicians with the US – with Democratic senator Chris Coons and Republican Mike Braun, both chairs of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, describing the mood as “exactly the kind of bold action we need from the business community”. However, it is unclear how the pledge will run alongside Microsoft’s work with giants in the oil industry including Chevron and Exxon Mobil – both of which were identified among the globe’s top companies for greenhouse gas emissions from 1988 to 2015, placing in 12th and 5th respectively according to environmental non-profit CDP.

Last February the firm announced it had the potential to expand Exxonmobil’s production by up to 50,000 barrels of oil a day by 2025 from the Permian Basin in the southwest US – and in 2017 it announced a multi-year deal to sell cloud services to US energy giant Chevron Corp. Bill Weihl, former director of sustainability at Facebook Inc, said Microsoft does not take into account that its work with oil companies could outweigh the gains Microsoft makes on its own carbon reduction. “There is good stuff here,” Mr Weihl said of the carbon capture plan. “But the topline message, that this is urgent, is not matched by what they’re focusing on.”

[..] The announcement follows a December lawsuit in which Microsoft was named alongside the likes of Tesla and Google parent firm Alphabet – with the companies accusing the company of being complicit in the deaths of children from the Democratic Republic of Congo who were mining a metal integral to their devices. The children cited in the landmark lawsuit had been put to work to find cobalt – a precious metal vital to the production of modern batteries that has been intensively mined since the dawn of smartphones.

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Unless Biden is called as a witness?!

With Rivals Stuck In Impeachment Trial, Biden, Buttigieg To Barnstorm Iowa (R.)

Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg will blitz Iowa before the state kicks off the party’s nominating contest on Feb. 3, while their key rivals will be largely unable to campaign because they must sit as Senate jurors in Republican President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Aides to Biden and Buttigieg, locked in a tight four-way battle with U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, would not comment on the unprecedented advantage next week’s Senate trial presents them. Yet newly released schedules reveal an intense on-the-ground push by both candidates in the final stretch in Iowa, while Sanders, Warren and another senator, Amy Klobuchar, will miss most remaining campaign days to participate in the impeachment trial.

“I would rather be in Iowa today,” Sanders told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday after the trial formally kicked off. “I would rather be in New Hampshire and in Nevada and so forth. But I swore a constitutional oath as a United States senator to do my job, and I’m here to do my job.” A senior aide to former Vice President Biden, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the campaign has not recalibrated its Iowa strategy because of the Senate trial. But their No. 1 priority is getting Biden talking to as many voters as possible in Iowa in the final days of what polls suggest is a virtual tie among the four.

Biden heads to Iowa on Friday and will spend nearly every day between then and the Feb. 3 caucuses in the state, the aide said. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who has been campaigning heavily on behalf of her husband in Iowa and other early-voting states, will also spend much of the final 18 days in the state. [..] To be sure, Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar are not ceding Iowa. They plan to campaign there during the final three weekends and will rely on representatives traveling the state for them on weekdays when the Senate trial is in session. Warren’s campaign has said they are considering remote appearances and events hosted by key supporters or family members.

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Parnas is a natural born liar, as the MSM said until now. But not anymore? Now his words “change the entire impeachment trial”? He’s just a guy who’s been indicted and seeks relief.

Parnas Now Denies Speaking With Trump (WE)

Indicted businessman Lev Parnas said he did not speak directly with President Trump about a pressure campaign against Ukraine that sought to benefit Trump politically, despite earlier reports to the contrary. Last November, CNN reported that Parnas told close associates he had spoken to Trump. “At one point during the party that night, Parnas and Fruman slipped out of a large reception room packed with hundreds of Trump donors to have a private meeting with the President and Giuliani, according to two acquaintances in whom Parnas confided right after the meeting,” CNN wrote. “Eventually, according to what Parnas told his confidants, the topic turned to Ukraine that night,” the article continued.


“According to those two confidants, Parnas said that ‘the big guy,’ as he sometimes referred to the President in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as ‘a secret mission’ to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.” The New York Times told a different story Wednesday, reporting: “Mr. Parnas said that although he did not speak with Mr. Trump about the efforts, he met with the president on several occasions and was told by Mr. Giuliani that Mr. Trump was kept in the loop.” Parnas’s decision to go public has led to congressional Democrats demanding that he and other key players in the pressure campaign be called to testify in next week’s Senate impeachment trial.

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A success story like none other these days.

Putin Purged the West from the Kremlin (Luongo)

[..] the next thing to do was to reform an economy rightly criticized for being too heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues. And that is a much tougher task. It meant getting control over the Russian central bank and the financial sector. Putin was given that opportunity during the downturn in oil prices in 2014. Using the crisis as an opportunity Putin began the decoupling of Russia’s economy from the West. During the early boom years of his Presidency oil revenue strengthened both the Russian state coffers and the so-called oligarchs who Putin was actively fighting for control. He warned the CEO’s of Gazprom, Rosneft and Sberbank that they were too heavily exposed to the U.S. dollar this way in the years leading up to the crash in oil prices in 2014-16.

And when the U.S. sanctioned Russia in 2014 over the reunification with Crimea these firms all had to come to Putin for a bailout. Their dollar-denominated debt was swapped out for euro and ruble debt through the Bank of Russia and he instructed the central bank to allow the ruble to fall, to stop defending it. Taking the inflationary hit was dangerous but necessary if Russia was to become a truly independent economic force. Since then it’s been a tug of war with the IMF-trained bureaucracy within the Bank of Russia to set monetary policy in accordance with Russia’s needs not what the international community demanded. That strong Presidency was a huge boon. But, now that the job is mostly done, it can be an albatross.

Putin understands that a Russia flush with too much oil money is a Russia ruled by that money and becomes lazy because of that money. Contrary to popular opinion, Putin doesn’t want to see oil prices back near $100 per barrel. Because Russia’s comparative advantage in oil and gas is so high relative to everyone else on the world stage and to other domestic industries that money retards innovation and investment in new technologies and a broadening of the Russian domestic economy. And this has been Putin’s focus for a while now. Oil and gas are geostrategic assets used to shore up Russia’s position as a regional power, building connections with its new partners while opening up new markets for Russian businesses. But it isn’t the end of the Russian story of the future, rather the beginning.

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There’s still not enough salt to take the numbers with. But at least at 6.1%, Xi can claim he meant to do this.

China’s Economic Growth Hits 29-Year Low (BBC)

China’s economy grew last year at the slowest pace in almost three decades. Official figures show that the world’s second largest economy expanded by 6.1% in 2019 from the year before – the worst figure in 29 years. The country has faced weak domestic demand and the impact of the bitter trade war with the US. The government has been rolling out measures over the past two years in an attempt to boost growth. It comes after almost two years of trade tensions with the US – although hopes of a better relationship with America have seen improvements in manufacturing and business confidence data. This week Washington and Beijing signed a “phase one” trade deal. However, analysts remain unsure whether those recent gains will continue.

In response to the lower growth rate, Beijing is now widely expected to roll out yet more stimulus measures. The government has used a combination of measures aimed at easing the slowdown, including tax cuts and allowing local governments to sell large amounts of bonds to fund their infrastructure programmes. The country’s banks have also been encouraged to lend more, especially to small firms. New loans in the local currency hit a record high of $2.44 trillion (£1.86tn) last year. So far the economy has been slow to pick up, with investment growth falling to record low levels. Historically, China has seen much stronger economic expansion, with the first decade of the 21st Century seeing double-digit percentage growth.

But – although that 6.1% growth rate is China’s weakest expansion in almost three decades – it is much higher than other leading economies. The US central bank, for example, has forecast that the American economy will grow by around 2.2% this year. As part of the phase one deal, China pledged to boost US imports by $200bn above 2017 levels and strengthen intellectual property rules. In exchange, the US agreed to halve some of the new tariffs it has imposed on Chinese products. Speaking in Washington, US President Donald Trump said the pact would be “transformative” for the American economy.

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The long term effects of the Fed’s bubbles are disastrous. That’s why they should be taken out of the equation.

Manhattan’s Homeless Shelters Are Full, Luxury Skyscrapers Are Empty (Atl.)

In Manhattan, the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant. Such is the tale of two cities within America’s largest metro. Even as 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or on its streets, Manhattan residents have watched skinny condominium skyscrapers rise across the island. These colossal stalagmites initially transformed not only the city’s skyline but also the real-estate market for new homes. From 2011 to 2019, the average price of a newly listed condo in New York soared from $1.15 million to $3.77 million. But the bust is upon us. Today, nearly half of the Manhattan luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold, according to The New York Times.

What happened? While real estate might seem like the world’s most local industry, these luxury condos weren’t exclusively built for locals. They were also made for foreigners with tens of millions of dollars to spare. Developers bet huge on foreign plutocrats—Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls, Saudi royalty—looking to buy second (or seventh) homes. But the Chinese economy slowed, while declining oil prices dampened the demand for pieds-à-terre among Russian and Middle Eastern zillionaires. It didn’t help that the Treasury Department cracked down on attempts to launder money through fancy real estate. Despite pressure from nervous lenders, developers have been reluctant to slash prices too suddenly or dramatically, lest the market suddenly clear and they leave millions on the table.

[..] In the past decade, New York City real-estate prices have gone from merely obscene to downright macabre. From 2010 to 2019, the average sale price of homes doubled in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Prospect Heights and Williamsburg, according to the Times. Buyers there could consider themselves lucky: In Cobble Hill, the typical sales price tripled to $2.5 million in nine years. This is not normal. And for middle-class families, particularly for the immigrants who give New York City so much of its dynamism, it has made living in Manhattan or gentrified Brooklyn practically impossible. No wonder, then, that the New York City area is losing about 300 residents every day.

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Look, if you quote the Washington Post’s Executive Editor to make this point, you’ve already lost.

The Loss of Truth In the Media Is a Threat to Our Democracy (Ray Dalio)

While I have reflected on the corrosive effects that fake and distorted media are having on our society’s well-being for the past few years, I am now more concerned about it than ever. To me media distortions + great polarity + the upcoming elections = a significant risk to quality democracy. It is no longer controversial to say that media distortions are a serious problem. Even most of the media folks I speak with share my concern. As Martin Baron, the Washington Post’s Executive Editor, said in reflecting on the problem, “If you have a society where people can’t agree on the basic facts, how do you have a functioning democracy?” This is not just a fringe media problem; it is a mainstream media problem. A 2019 Gallup study said that only 13 percent of Americans surveyed have “a great deal” of trust in the media.


Only 41 percent of those surveyed said that they have either a “fair” or “great deal” of trust in media. That compares with 55 percent having such confidence in 1999 and 72 percent in 1976. The dramatically decreased trustworthiness has even plagued icons of journalistic trust such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as sensationalism and commercialism have superseded accuracy and journalistic integrity as primary objectives. A number of media writers have in private told me that their editors have specifically hired them to write negative, sensationalistic stories because they sell best. They explained that the financial decline of print media and the public’s short attention span have required them to produce such attention-grabbing headlines and stories or face financial decline.

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This doesn’t smell right at all.

Bayer Close To Roundup Settlement – Mediator (R.)

Bayer is close to settling more than 75,000 cancer claims related to its Roundup herbicide, mediator Ken Feinberg told Bloomberg in an interview, saying he was “cautiously optimistic” a deal could be reached in about a month. Feinberg was quoted as saying that the number of cases had grown to between 75,000 and 85,000 and “maybe more”. Bayer in October said it was now facing 42,700 U.S. plaintiffs blaming its glyphosate-based weedkillers for their cancer. Bayer has ruled out withdrawing from the market in the U.S., saying regulators and extensive research have found glyphosate to be safe.


A spokesman for Bayer said: “The number reported by Bloomberg includes potential plaintiffs with unserved cases and is a speculative estimate about the numbers of plaintiffs who might be included in a potential settlement.” He added: “The number of served cases as reported on a quarterly basis remains significantly below 50,000. Bayer does not report or speculate about potential plaintiffs with unserved cases.”

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Mass suicide continues. We cannot help ourselves, it’s a force that’s bigger than us.

Chemicals In Tap Water Cause Thousands Of Cancer Deaths Across Europe (RT)

Each year, more than 6,500 cases of bladder cancer, roughly five percent of all cases in Europe, are found to be attributable to exposure to trihalomethanes (THMs) in drinking water – and it’s all perfectly legal. For a study of countries’ water quality, the EU28 became the EU26, as adequate data for Bulgaria and Romania could not be obtained. Nevertheless, the project covered 75% of the total EU population, and a reading of its findings is ominous.

What the hell are THMs?THMs are a class of molecule that appear as a by-product of the disinfectants used to clean drinking water. When chlorine, the main chemical used to clean drinking water, comes into contact with organic matter, it breaks down into THMs. And despite being legal up to certain levels, long-term exposure to them has been consistently associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. The EU has set that legal limit at 100 lg=L, but anything over 50 lg=L causes a 51 percent increase in the probability of bladder cancer, in men at least. This study was undertaken at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, in a city which has THM levels above the present regulatory maximum limit of 100 lg=L. Astonishingly, there is no provision for the lowering of this maximum in the latest European Council directive.

How common is bladder cancer?Bladder cancer is only the tenth most common form of cancer in the UK; 135,000 people in the EU were diagnosed with it in 2016. It is usually quite treatable with a simple surgical procedure as long as it is caught before spreading to other body parts. Some evidence suggests it affects men more than women (although this could be down to lifestyle differences, such as higher rates of smoking).

The countries with the highest percentages of bladder cancer cases attributable to THM exposure were Cyprus (23 percent), Malta (18 percent) and Ireland (17 percent). In other words, 23 out of 100 Cypriot people who are diagnosed with cancer in a given year are likely to have contracted it from their drinking water. Meanwhile, the greatest number of attributable cases actually occurred in Spain (1,482 attributable cases) and the United Kingdom (1,356) although this is a function of population as well as THM contamination.

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