Oct 172020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait with palette 1906

 

Battleground State Polling Shows Tighter Race Than National Polls (JTN)
AOC, House Progressives Warn Biden On Corporate Hires (Pol.)
Wall Street Donors Line Up Behind Biden In Massive Q3 Fundraising Haul (CNBC)
Michigan Appeals Court Strikes Down 2-Week Window To Count Ballots (JTN)
New Book Warns Of Danger Of Kamala Harris Presidency (OffG)
Nancy Pelosi Won’t Tell Anybody What’s In The Coronavirus Deal (IC)
Russia Quitting MH17 Panel A Logical Result Of Dutch Provocations (Clark)
Spain’s Pain and the Perils of Textbook Economics (Steve Keen)
Amazon, Apple, Google And Facebook Scooping Up Office Space In New York (F.)
Google & Oracle to Monitor US Vaccine Recipients for up to Two Years (Webb)
Counting Long Covid In Children (BMJ)
Sex Banned Indoors For Tier 2 Couples Living Apart (St.)

 

 

 

 

Clapper

 

 

Giuliani

 

 

Giuliani 2

 

 

Think electoral college.

Battleground State Polling Shows Tighter Race Than National Polls (JTN)

While national polls may reliably forecast the national popular vote in a presidential election, given the electoral college map, battleground state polling is more meaningful — and in 2020 battleground polls show a much tighter race between President Trump and challenger Joe Biden. In the RealClearPolitics polling averages on Thursday, Biden led Trump by 9.4% nationally but just 4.9% in key battleground states. In the battleground states, moreover, Trump on Thursday was running 0.5% ahead of where he was at this stage of the 2016 campaign, according to the RCP average — the 12th consecutive day on which the president outperformed his corresponding 2016 numbers.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who conducts the Just the News Daily Poll, also released for PoliticalIQ a series of polls in four battleground states showing a race for the White House that remains competitive. Trump was victorious in all four states in 2016, and they are crucial to his reelection hopes. Rasmussen reported that Biden leads narrowly in all four — Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. However, with a slightly stronger-than-expected Republican turnout, Rasmussen said the president would take the lead in Florida and North Carolina. Like the polls in the RealClearPolitics average, Rasmussen’s nationwide poll for Just the News also showed a wider lead for Biden than among his PoliticalIQ key battleground polls.

And the PoliticalIQ polls conducted among 800 likely voters show results in all four states that were within the margin of error, meaning that Trump could prove victorious and defy conventional wisdom as he did in 2016. “One particular challenge involves estimating the number of mail-in votes that will be cast,” Rasmussen wrote. “Those who plan to vote by mail overwhelmingly prefer Biden over Trump. Therefore, the larger the number of votes cast by mail, the better it is for the Democrat.” Rasmussen told Just the News that the polling wild card this cycle is sampling during a pandemic — something for which there is no precedent, as polling wasn’t practiced in 1918 during the last global pandemic. Rasmussen said if the race remains close, this could create a crisis of legitimacy for whoever wins.

Read more …

They think they’ll have massive power. Ask Bernie why they’re wrong.

AOC, House Progressives Warn Biden On Corporate Hires (Pol.)

The election is still 18 days away but Democrats are already drawing battle lines over what a Biden administration ought to look like. Left-wing House members including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Raúl Grijalva and candidate Jamaal Bowman along with 39 progressive groups signed a letter, obtained by POLITICO, arguing that no C-suite level corporate executives or corporate lobbyists ought to have Senate-confirmed positions in a Biden administration. “One of the most important lessons of the Trump administration is the need to stop putting corporate officers and lobbyists in charge of our government,” they wrote. “As elected leaders, we should stop trying to make unsupportable distinctions between which corporate affiliations are acceptable for government service and which are not.”

The letter, which was delivered to Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell on Friday morning, called on both parties to adopt this standard, but organizers told POLITICO it was also intended to send a message to Joe Biden’s transition team as it vets potential candidates. “It’s not addressed to Biden, but there’s an understanding that he’d be in charge and be the person making nominations,” said Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, who drafted the letter and recruited the signees. The letter is the latest sign of the deep divisions that continue to simmer within the Democratic Party.

The clashes between the left-wing and the center — particularly over economic policy — have eased over the past several months as the factions unite to defeat President Donald Trump but are likely to reignite if Biden is victorious. Biden would be forced to manage a potentially unwieldy coalition of aggressive left-wing Democrats and a new class of more moderate swing district Democrats from the suburbs. Those divisions could result in an intraparty brawl over nominations for senior level posts at Treasury and other economic agencies early in Biden’s term. The dueling sides could also put Schumer in a difficult position as he tries to fend off a potential primary challenge in 2022 — possibly by Ocasio-Cortez.

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Do they have the same interests as voters?

Wall Street Donors Line Up Behind Biden In Massive Q3 Fundraising Haul (CNBC)

The joint committees, which raise money for the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties, are being fueled, at least in part, by Wall Street executives. Those committees accept six-figure contributions. This surge of donations from people in the finance and investment industry comes even as Biden calls for raising taxes on those making over $400,000, as well as an increase in the corporate tax rate. It also comes as Biden faces pressure from progressive activists not to allow Wall Street leaders to join his Cabinet if he were to defeat Trump. Tim Geithner, former Treasury secretary under President Barack Obama and current president of private equity firm Warburg Pincus, contributed $150,000 to the Biden Action Fund in August.

Antonio Gracias, founder of Valor Equity Partners, and Jonathan Shulkin, a partner at the same firm, each shelled out more than $300,000 that same month to the committee. John Doerr, chairman of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, gave over $355,000 to the Biden Action Fund last quarter. Stephen Mandel, founder of Connecticut-based hedge fund Lone Pine Capital, contributed more than $310,000. Pete Muller, founder of investment manager PDT Partners, gave the committee $360,000. Jonathan Soros, an investor and son of billionaire George Soros, gave just under $145,000. Biden Action also saw large contributions from leaders at Blackstone, JPMorgan Chase, The Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, among other firms.

The Biden Action Fund raised more than $4 million from those in the finance industry in the third quarter of 2020. The fund raised over $30 million overall last quarter. People in the financial industry have largely favored Biden, spending more than $50 million to back his candidacy, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, compared with more than $10 million for Trump. Several finance executives privately say that they’re tired of dealing with the impact of Trump’s tweets on their investments. They are starting to be convinced of a sweep by Democrats come Election Day.

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Utter chaos. Cui bono?

Michigan Appeals Court Strikes Down 2-Week Window To Count Ballots (JTN)

A Michigan appeals court on Friday struck down a two-week extension ordered to tally votes after the election, ruling all mail-in ballots in the battleground state must arrive by Nov. 3 to count. The decision in a case brought by a group know as the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans was a victory for President Trump, who has argued long delays in counting could lead to fraud, and a loss for Democrats who embraced the extension. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the 14 extra days ordered by a lower state court was not legal, or warranted by the pandemic or concerns about the postal service’s ability to deliver ballots.


The judges ruled the state constitution requires all votes to be turned in by 8 p.m. of Election Day to be counted, and could not be changed by a judicial order. “The Constitution is not suspended or transformed even in times of a pandemic, and judges do not somehow become authorized in a pandemic to rewrite statutes or to displace the decisions made by the policymaking branches of government,” Judge Mark Boonstra in one of the opinions. Trump won Michigan narrowly in 2016 and and Democrats are trying to turn the state back to blue this tie around.

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There’s a reason she never polled above 2%. As someone said recently, she makes Hillary look likeable.

New Book Warns Of Danger Of Kamala Harris Presidency (OffG)

With the 2020 US presidential election less than a month away, there is widespread speculation concerning Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s mental and physical fitness at 77 years of age if he were to defeat incumbent Donald Trump on November 3rd. The former Vice President and Senator from Delaware would surpass his opponent as the oldest to ever hold the office of the presidency if victorious, while his generally acknowledged cognitive decline has led many to question whether he is even capable of serving a single term. Given the concerns about his health, the likelihood that Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, would become his successor has put the controversial former prosecutor and California Attorney General’s own politics under scrutiny, though not to a degree sufficient with the odds she could very well become commander-in-chief in the near future.

Trump himself suggested it was the hidden motivation behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent introduction of a 25th Amendment commission on removing a “mentally unfit” president to enable the replacement of an incapacitated Biden with Harris after the election. Even Saturday Night Live recently joked about Biden’s poor first debate performance as a Harris term in-the-making — but as journalist Caleb Maupin explains in his new book Kamala Harris and the Future of America: An Essay in Three Parts, the prospect of her becoming president is no laughing matter. Maupin’s ambitious essay surpasses the redundant analysis of the vice-presidential nominee by placing her political success in a broader historical context while forewarning the unique danger of a budding Harris administration waiting in the wings.

The majority of the critical examinations of Harris during the campaign have critiqued her rebranding as an outwardly “progressive” figure in stark contrast with the reality of her career as a ruthless criminal prosecutor turned establishment politician. While that is true, Maupin’s analysis takes an important step further by formulating the rise of Harris, who is the first Jamaican and South Asian-American nominee on a major party ticket, as the culmination of the US left’s failures in the last several decades resulting in its present deteriorated state preoccupied with liberal identity politics.

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This has turned into a very ugly game.

Nancy Pelosi Won’t Tell Anybody What’s In The Coronavirus Deal (IC)

Last friday, the Trump administration offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a $1.8 trillion stimulus deal, which she promptly rejected. It’s $400 billion smaller than the House Democrats’ plan and probably wouldn’t pass the GOP-controlled Senate. A handful of Democrats are calling on Pelosi to take it anyway, and dare Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to be the one to kill it. Now, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are back on the phone, and reportedly inching closer to an agreement. But most House Democrats haven’t spoken out one way or another, in part because no House Democrat other than Pelosi knows what’s actually in the proposal.

The top-line spending amounts and some of the major provisions have been confirmed, but no one has seen the text, and no one’s sure what else Republicans have stuffed into it. Meanwhile, the typical lines of battle in the House have been scrambled. The left is urging Pelosi to quickly cave to Trump and take whatever deal is on offer, while the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus is doing the same, hoping to pick off enough progressives that they can team with Republicans to box McConnell in. It’s politically disorienting, made all the more confusing by Pelosi’s inability to put forward anything other than a callous rationale for her objections.

Pelosi defended her strategy in a contentious interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, repeatedly lashing out at the host for asking why she wouldn’t accept Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recent $1.8 trillion offer when Americans are being evicted and waiting in food lines. Blitzer cited the pressure within the Democratic Party to accept a deal, pointing to California Rep. Ro Khanna and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who have called on Pelosi to accept the GOP’s offer. “I don’t know why you’re always an apologist and many of your colleagues are apologists for the Republican position,” Pelosi told Blitzer. “Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do. And nobody’s waiting until February. I want this very much now because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail.”

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Why did they ever talk in the first place?

Russia Quitting MH17 Panel A Logical Result Of Dutch Provocations (Clark)

Russia’s decision to quit the three-sided consultations with the Netherlands and Australia on flight MH17 is not surprising. It’s surprising that Moscow hasn’t done this earlier, having been declared guilty from day one.
Almost as soon as the terrible news came out on 17th July 2014 that a passenger airliner had come down over eastern Ukraine with the loss of all 298 people on board, the fingers of blame in the West were pointing at Russia, and the Kremlin was declared guilty until proven innocent. ‘Putin’s Missile’ was the headline of the Sun newspaper, implying that the Russian President had personally fired the missile which allegedly downed the airliner. ‘MH17: Can Russia be held to account?’ asked The Economist – again implying it was a foregone conclusion who was responsible.

Russia’s guilt was already established – before any inquiry was held – and even saying ‘let’s wait a while before we see more evidence’ could bring you under attack as part of ‘Putin’s lie machine.’ That has more or less been the case ever since. Just eight days after the tragedy, the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the EU would widen its already existing sanctions on Russia on account of the crash. The explanation for the disaster was simple. The plane had been shot down by separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine who had been armed by Russia. End of Story. Since 2014 we’ve had investigations into the crash by the Dutch Safety Board and the Joint Investigation Tim (JIT) – which included Ukraine.

But, as the Kremlin has stated, both appeared to have started off from the premise Russia was guilty, and worked backwards from there. Those who weren’t prejudiced against Russia – and simply wanted to get to the truth without fear nor favour, saw clearly what was happening. “We are very unhappy, because, from the very beginning, it was a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing. Even before they examine, they already said Russia. And now they said they have proof. It is very difficult for us to accept that.” was the view of the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. “As far as we are concerned, we want proof of guilt … but so far, there is no proof. Only hearsay,” he added. “I hope everybody will go for the truth.”

The fact that Malaysia, the country whose airliner was the one lost in the tragedy, believed there was ’no proof’ of Russian guilt should have been front-page news in the West, but of course it was ignored because it didn’t fit the dominant anti-Russian narrative. In 2018 Russia agreed to hold trilateral consultations with the Netherlands and Australia but it was clear that the aim of these consultations was only to try and make Russia admit guilt – and in the process make it liable for compensation to the relatives of the crash victims. Proof of this is the fact that the Dutch government did not even wait for the preliminary results of these consultations before taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights in July, for its ’role in the downing’ of MH17. The only surprise is that it’s taken Russia three months after that incredibly provocative act to quit the consultation.

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Steve also predicts a “full-blown GFC-style global financial crisis” next year.

Spain’s Pain and the Perils of Textbook Economics (Steve Keen)

As I write these words, Spain is suffering from its second wave of Covid-19, and it ranks 7th in the world for Covid-19 cases, while its rank in world population is far lower. It has, and is, experiencing more than its fair share of pain from the novel coronavirus. Spain suffered far more than its fair share of pain during the Global Financial Crisis too. There is now a terrible danger that these two crises will compound each other, because neither Spain nor the rest of the world had truly recovered from the financial crisis when Covid-19 began. I use the USA for most of my examples in this book, but in many ways Spain is a textbook example of the economic forces that caused the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and how conventional economic thinking — epitomized most dramatically in the European Union’s limits on government debt and government deficits—helped cause the crisis, and made its impact even worse.

The data on Spain’s crisis and its bungled aftermath are so obvious that you might wonder why the thesis I defend in this book—that economic crises are caused not by government debt, but by private debt—is not the conventional wisdom. The role of the Euro in triggering the boom in private debt, and thus making a crisis more likely, is also obvious. After an exciting first eight years, the Euro and its “Growth and Stability Pact” have led to contraction and instability. Much was made of Spain’s success in meeting the Growth and Stability Pact’s target of government debt being below 60% of GDP. Government debt was 70% of GDP when the Euro commenced in 1999, and it fell to a low of 35% of GDP by mid-2008.

It was almost the only country in the Eurozone to meet and exceed both of the Euro’s policy targets: a government debt level of less than 60% of GDP, and a deficit of less than 3% of GDP. In fact, it exceeded the deficit target handsomely, running not merely a small deficit, but a substantial surplus between 2004 and the crisis, peaking at 2.5% of GDP in mid-2006—see Figure 1. If the Euro’s rules had the effect they were intended to have, this should have meant that Spain was less likely to experience a crisis, and well prepared to handle it if one did occur. This proved to be the opposite of the truth.

The reason is starkly evident in Figure 2: while Spain was lauded for halving its level of Government debt, across the same time span, private debt almost trebled—and throughout, it dwarfed government debt. Private debt had no trend before the introduction of the Euro: it was 67% of GDP in 1970, rose as high as 85% in 1977, but by the start of the Euro, it had risen not at all: it was also 85% of GDP in 1999. However, from the introduction of the Euro until 2010, it rose far more rapidly than government debt fell: as government debt fell by 35% of GDP, private debt rose by 140%.

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All Your Base R Belong to Us.

Amazon, Apple, Google And Facebook Scooping Up Office Space In New York (F.)

Big Tech is bucking two big workforce trends. Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google are all scooping up New York City commercial real estate after prices have plummeted due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The companies are making a bold contrarian bet that Manhattan will bounce back and there will still be a need for people to work in offices. According to the New York Times, Facebook leased enough space in the city to triple the amount of people that can work in New York. Apple, which has been in the city for at least a decade, plans to expand its footprint there. Google and Amazon are snatching up space in New York—greater than any other place in the U.S. Amazon recently paid about $1 billion to acquire the Lord & Taylor flagship building in Midtown Manhattan from WeWork. Collectively, the tech behemoths can accommodate over 20,000 workers.


After seven months of remote work, it seems that both employees and employers are seeking a balance and options. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview at the TIME100 Honorees: Visions for the Future event, the company will be more “flexible” with its workers and offer a “hybrid” model that will include a blend of both remote and in-office methods of working. Pichai, who was recognized by TIME as one of the world’s most influential people, acknowledged that his employees have distinct needs, as it relates to their work style and preferences, stating, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”

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“incredibly precise . . . tracking systems”

Google & Oracle to Monitor US Vaccine Recipients for up to Two Years (Webb)

Moncef Slaoui, the official head of Operation Warp Speed, told the Wall Street Journal last week that all Warp Speed vaccine recipients in the US will be monitored by “incredibly precise . . . tracking systems” for up to two years and that tech giants Google and Oracle would be involved. Last week, a rare media interview given by the Trump administration’s “Vaccine Czar” offered a brief glimpse into the inner workings of the extremely secretive Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the Trump administration’s “public-private partnership” for delivering a Covid-19 vaccine to 300 million Americans by next January. What was revealed should deeply unsettle all Americans.

During an interview with the Wall Street Journal published last Friday, the “captain” of Operation Warp Speed, career Big Pharma executive Moncef Slaoui, confirmed that the millions of Americans who are set to receive the project’s Covid-19 vaccine will be monitored via “incredibly precise . . . tracking systems” that will “ensure that patients each get two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects.” Slaoui also noted that tech giants Google and Oracle have been contracted as part of this “tracking system” but did not specify their exact roles beyond helping to “collect and track vaccine data.”

The day before the Wall Street Journal interview was published, the New York Times published a separate interview with Slaoui where he referred to this “tracking system” as a “very active pharmacovigilance surveillance system.” During a previous interview with the journal Science in early September, Slaoui had referred to this system only as “a very active pharmacovigilance system” that would “make sure that when the vaccines are introduced that we’ll absolutely continue to assess their safety.” Slaoui has only recently tacked on the words “tracking” and “surveillance” to his description of this system during his relatively rare media interviews.

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I can see the potential crisis, but why not tell us how many children we’re talking about?

Counting Long Covid In Children (BMJ)

With the recent announcement that the NHS will provide services for patients with long covid, there was a palpable sense of triumph among the community of long haulers. We both have long covid and are active campaigners for this condition. We should have been elated; after all, this was the recognition campaigners had been advocating for since the release of the video “Message in a bottle—Long Covid SOS.” Although we are pleased by this commitment from the NHS to recognise long covid, we have ongoing concerns for the lack of paediatric services for children with covid-19. One of us (Frances Simpson) is a mother of two children who have also been experiencing symptoms for almost seven months, and has met many other parents whose children have had covid-19.

Existing research shows that children have generally been found to have less severe covid-19, but there is concern among campaigners that paediatric long covid has received much less attention. Many of the parents in online support groups share this concern, describing their fear at the strange and fluctuating symptoms experienced by their children, their frustration at the lack of medical care, and their struggles to be believed. When the World Health Organization extended an invitation to the campaign group LongCovidSOS to share experiences of Long Covid, Frances took the opportunity as a speaker at the meeting to present the narratives of children and parents who have symptoms of long covid. She shared the views from the many long covid support groups on social media, as a means of drawing attention to the possibility that symptoms of long covid may extend to children.

The quantification of this was impossible due to the lack of empirical data. However, with this in mind, she conducted an informal poll on closed social media groups including the Body Politic/Slack support group, the LongCovid Support Group, and the Parents of Longhauler children support group on Facebook. There are of course limitations of a survey of this kind due to selection and other types of reporting biases, but in the absence of any existing data, this was a scoping exercise. Parents reported that their children experienced fatigue, general gastrointestinal issues, sore throats, headaches, and muscle pain or weakness. Other symptoms included fevers, nausea, mood changes, rashes, dizziness, breathing difficulties and cognitive blunting. The findings of this very informal patient-led survey demonstrate that there is a need for further epidemiological data collection, in order to quantify and qualify the existence of long covid in children. There is also need for research into pathophysiology of these symptoms as is being currently instigated in adult cohorts.

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Deaf and dumb politics.

Sex Banned Indoors For Tier 2 Couples Living Apart (St.)

Couples living apart in areas with Tier 2 restrictions are not allowed to have sleepovers unless they are in a “support bubble”, Downing Street confirmed today. Boyfriends and girlfriends will be able to meet outdoors in Tier 2 but are expected to adhere to social distancing rules such as hands, face and space. They must also adhere to the rule of six. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a briefing of Westminster journalists: “The rules on household mixing in Tier 2 set out that you should mix with your own household only unless you’ve formed a support bubble and that obviously does apply to some couples.”


A support bubble is a network between a single-person home and one other household of any size , according to the government rules. It comes as both London and Essex are set to be plunged into Tier 2 at midnight tonight. Asked why there was no exemption for people in established relationships in Tier 2, he replied: “Because the purpose of the measures that were put in place is to break the chain in transmission between households and the scientific advice is there is greater transmission of the virus indoors.” Asked if couples in Tier 2 can meet outside, he said: “Yes, as it was set out in the guidance that was published this week the ban on household mixing is in relation to indoors and outdoors the rule of six applies.”

Read more …

 

 

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“No public institution or agency should be created without an expiration date”
– Nassim Taleb

 

 

Biden Teleprompter

Biden smear campaign

 

 

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Oct 102020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1948

 

Pelosi’s 25th Amendment Commission Is To Replace Biden With Kamala – Trump (RT)
25th Amendment Body: Unelected Bureaucrats Vs The Will Of American People (RT)
Pelosis Take a Big Stake in CrowdStrike (Maté)
Poll That Called 2016 Election Sees Another Shocking Outcome In November (ZH)
SSCI Allowed Dan Jones, Fusion-GPS, Shearer to Avoid Questioning (sundance)
Political Silo (sundance)
Pompeo: Clinton Private Server Emails Could Be Released Before Election (JTN)
Well Played, Mr. President. Sorry To Have Doubted You (John Rubino)
Trump’s Brilliant Stimulus Ploy Rattles Democrats (Peek)
I Didn’t Vote For Trump In 2016, But I’d Crawl Over Broken Glass Now (Sound)
State Dept Officials Cast Doubt On Christopher Steele’s Early Reports (DC)
After The QAnon Ban, Who’s Next? (Taibbi)
Tomorrow, Come Here Tomorrow…. (Kunstler)
Goldman Offers Workers Free On-Site COVID-19 Testing (ZH)

 

 

We’re digging ever deeper into politics. 25 days to go. And here comes the 25th Amendment commission.

 

 

Trump VS Covid – Who Won?! | Russell Brand

 

 

“She accused him just this week of being in an “altered state.”

Pelosi’s 25th Amendment Commission Is To Replace Biden With Kamala – Trump (RT)

Soon after Rep. Nancy Pelosi introduced a commission that would allow Congress to remove a mentally unfit president, Donald Trump tweeted a claim its ulterior motive is to replace Democratic candidate Joe Biden with Kamala Harris.“This is not about President Trump,” Speaker of the House Pelosi said when announcing the legislation on Friday. “He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.” Instead, the commission is needed to give “some comfort to people” about government stability, Pelosi (D-California) insisted. Some, however, were not convinced the commission is meant as just an additional safety mechanism in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pelosi’s assurance the legislation wasn’t about Trump has quickly sparked a theory that such a commission could be used to replace 77-year-old Joe Biden – whose own mental stability has been steadily questioned – should he win the election next month. President Trump himself floated that theory on Twitter shortly after Pelosi’s announcement. “Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris. The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!” Trump wrote. Others, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, have similarly lobbed the accusation at Pelosi.

“Pelosi is talking about 25th amendment replacing incapacitated President as trial run for replacing Biden with Harris next Spring if they win,” Gingrich tweeted. “Target is Biden not Trump,” he added. Under the 25th Amendment, a president can be stripped of their authority if they are deemed unfit for some reason to carry out their duties. This requires a two-thirds vote from both houses. Pelosi’s bill, however, would make this potential commission the determining body about a president’s fitness. Pelosi has questioned the health of the president since he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and left Walter Reed Medical Center. She accused him just this week of being in an “altered state.”

Read more …

“That Harris could become president without winning a single delegate in the primaries – having dropped out before they even started – seems an irony completely lost on the media and the party..”

25th Amendment Body: Unelected Bureaucrats Vs The Will Of American People (RT)

In addition to paving the way for a Harris administration, the proposed commission to govern the usurpation of presidential powers would create a ‘Deep State’-like cabal, including former officials, to gate-keep the White House. The pompously named Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office, unveiled on Friday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) is technically based on the provision in the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, allowing for “such other body as Congress may by law provide” to govern the process of succession should a president become “incapacitated.”

With just weeks left till the November 3 election, and zero chance of the Republican-majority Senate or President Donald Trump endorsing the proposal, it’s unclear at first why the Democrats would unveil it now. Pelosi swears this isn’t about Trump. “He will face the judgment of the voters,” she told reporters on Friday. “But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.” It didn’t take long for a number of people – from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Trump himself – to bring up the obvious: the first target of such a “process” may well be Joe Biden. In one of his more lucid moments, the 77-year-old actually said he wanted his running mate ready to take over “on day one.” Then he picked Senator Kamala Harris for the job.

That Harris could become president without winning a single delegate in the primaries – having dropped out before they even started – seems an irony completely lost on the media and the party normally harping on about “our democracy,” norms and traditions. No less intriguing than the “what” of the commission is the “how.” Raskin’s proposal envisions a 17-member panel, with 16 members appointed by congressional leaders of both parties electing the last one. Half the appointees would be physicians and psychiatrists, while the other eight would be chosen from the pool of former government officials: presidents, vice-presidents, surgeons-general, and heads of the departments of State, Treasury, Defense and Justice.

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“Speaker Pelosi is not involved in her husband’s investments and was not aware of the investment until the required filing was made.”

Pelosis Take a Big Stake in CrowdStrike (Maté)

The cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike rose to global prominence in mid-June 2016 when it publicly accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee and stealing its data. The previously unknown company’s explosive allegation set off a seismic chain of events that engulfs U.S. national politics to this day. The Hillary Clinton campaign seized on CrowdStrike’s claim by accusing Russia of meddling in the election to help Donald Trump. U.S. intelligence officials would soon also endorse CrowdStrike’s allegation and pursue what amounted to a multi-year, all-consuming investigation of Russian interference and Trump’s potential complicity.

With the next presidential election now in its final weeks, the Democrats’ national leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her husband, Paul Pelosi, are endorsing the publicly traded firm in a different way. Recent financial disclosure filings show the couple have invested up to $1 million in CrowdStrike Holdings. The Pelosis purchased the stock at a share price of $129.25 on Sept. 3. At the time of this article’s publication, the price has risen to $142.97. Drew Hammill, spokesman for Pelosi, said: “Speaker Pelosi is not involved in her husband’s investments and was not aware of the investment until the required filing was made. Mr. Pelosi is a private investor and has investments in a number of publicly traded companies. The Speaker fully complies with House Rules and the relevant statutory requirements.” The Pelosis’ sizeable investment in CrowdStrike could revive scrutiny of the company’s involvement in the Trump-Russia saga since the Democrats’ 2016 election loss.

After generating the hacking allegation against Russia in 2016, CrowdStrike played a critical role in the FBI’s ensuing investigation of the DNC data theft. CrowdStrike executives shared intelligence with the FBI on a consistent basis, making dozens of contacts in the investigation’s early months. According to Esquire, when U.S. intelligence officials first accused Russia of conducting malicious cyber activity in October 2016, a senior U.S. government official personally alerted CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch and thanked him “for pushing the government along.” The final reports of both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee cite CrowdStrike’s forensics. The firm’s centrality to Russiagate has drawn the ire of President Trump. During the fateful July 2019 phone call that would later trigger impeachment proceedings, Trump asked Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky to scrutinize CrowdStrike’s role in the DNC server breach, suggesting that the company may have been involved in hiding the real perpetrators.

Read more …

Looks very different from all the polls the media cites all the time. How come?

Poll That Called 2016 Election Sees Another Shocking Outcome In November (ZH)

With Election Day less than a month away, we look at which party will likely control the White House, Senate and House in 2020… and what to watch for on Election Night. Currently, the major polls give former Vice President Biden more than a 9-point lead nationally against President Trump – according to RealClearPolitics National Average. And the Predictit markets imply a 67% probability of Biden winning on November 3rd. Additionally, those markets suggest that Democrats will win both the Senate and House (66% and 88% probabilities, respectively). Quite simply, it appears that a Blue Wave is fast approaching, something which the market has not only priced in, but has successfully digested as a favorable narrative for risk assets.

It would be easy to simply close the books and call the November contest over. But, of course, the major polls were all wrong in 2016; notably about the presidential race. In the following Election Review from Camelot Portfolios, we look at what some of the polling firms that called 2016 correctly are seeing today. “Shocking”, their polling suggests that President Trump will be re-elected, either narrowly or by a large margin. Therefore, as Camelot notes, “capital allocators today cannot easily assume next month’s results.” It’s very possible that Trump will win Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. If so, a win in Pennsylvania or Michigan will likely put him over the top in the electoral college. And speaking of “shocking”, Camelot notes that as far as the Senate and House are concerned, it also appears that Republicans will keep control of the Senate, especially if Trump has a strong night. On the other hand, the House is highly likely to remain in Democratic control.

[..] Trafalgar Group was named best polling firm of 2016 presidential race. It was one of few pollsters to predict Trump would win PA and MI (sources: Trafalgar Group and RealClearPolitics) and also Trump’s victory. [..] The secret to Trafalgar’s success is that it best adjusted its polling to include ‘shy Trump voters’ and the votes missed in other polls. Democracy Institute also correctly predicted Trump’s victory in 2016, as well as Brexit. Which brings us to today, and what Camelot Portfolios sees as the likely firewall states for Trump and Biden:

Which brings us to the punchline, and what Trafalgar sees as the outcome on Nov 3. In a nutshell, based on Trafalgar swing state polls, Trumps wins with 275 electoral votes:

What about the “winner” in the 2016 polling fiasco, the Democracy Institute, and its Latest Poll for September:
• Only asks likely voters, and asks about so-called ‘shy votes’.
• Trump leads Biden 46%-45%, nationally.
• Trump leads in swing states (FL, IA, MI, MN, PA, WI) 47% to 43%.
• Trump’s swing state leads would give him 320 electoral votes, and Biden 218.
• 77% of Trump voters would not admit to friends and family.
• Amy Coney Barrett nomination has little impact on approximately 8 in 10 voters.
• Law and order is top issue (32%). Economy is second (30%).
• Voters trust Trump more on economy than Biden: 60% to 40%, respectively

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“The attempt to remove President Trump from office encompassed all three branches of the U.S. government.”

SSCI Allowed Dan Jones, Fusion-GPS, Shearer to Avoid Questioning (sundance)

A fantastic catch by Twitter user “15poundstogo” highlights a key phrase within the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSCI) Russia Report Volume-5, showing how the SSCI allowed those who created the Trump-Russia narrative to avoid questioning. This is a very important detail to underpin the report we shared yesterday about former Dianne Feinstein top staffer Dan Jones attempting to avoid a subpoena from U.S. Attorney John Durham. This key highlight from the SSCI is evidence of how the attempted coup against President Trump was coordinated by people outside government and inside government.

Dan Jones left the SSCI prior to the 2016 election and went to work pushing the Trump-Russia narrative through his media contacts. Jones took over funding Fusion-GPS and Chris Steele in 2017 at the same time Senator Mark Warner took over as SSCI vice-chairman. Dan Jones and Mark Warner coordinated the efforts outside and inside government on the same objective. The Senate Intel Committee was part of the effort. As a result of their alignment and common purpose the SSCI didn’t investigate the origin of the Trump-Russia narrative; and instead positioned themselves as a shield to block any investigative inquiry into what took place. THIS IS A BIG DEAL !

The attempt to remove President Trump from office encompassed all three branches of the U.S. government.
• Executive Branch – FBI, DOJ, CIA, State Dept., and Special Counsel Office.
• Legislative Branch – SSCI in 2017 and 2018 with an assist from House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary in 2019 and 2020.
• Judicial Branch – FISA Court 2015, 2016, 2017; Federal Judges (Sullivan, Walton, Howell, Berman-Jackson) in alignment with DC intents in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

How does the office of the United States president; and more importantly a constitutional republic itself; survive a coordinated coup effort that involves all three branches of government; while simultaneously those in charge of exposing the corruption fear the scale of the effort is too damaging for the U.S. government to reveal?

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A second part of the same article cited above.

Political Silo (sundance)

On June 7, 2018, an indictment against Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe was unsealed. Approximately six weeks later, July 21, 2018, the DOJ mysteriously declassified and publicly released the Carter Page FISA application. That’s when I noticed the first two documents were related. The FISA application was the “top secret classified document” described in the Wolfe indictment. Immediately I recognized it wasn’t just any copy of the FISA application that was released by the DOJ; but rather a very specific copy of the FISA application. What the DOJ released was the exact copy used in the 2017 leak investigation of James Wolfe. The ramifications of this specific copy being publicly released were immediately noted, although almost everyone seemed to gloss over the issue in favor of discussing the content.

Over the course of the next several months the ramifications became more clear. Despite overwhelming evidence James Wolfe was never charged with leaking the FISA application on March 17, 2017. Quite the contrary, even to this day the official position of the FBI, DOJ and U.S. government is that Wolfe *did not* leak the FISA application. There’s a very big reason for that. First, it must be remembered the goal of the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions, despite his recusal on all things Trump, was the removal of political influence in the DOJ. That same objective has been repeated ad infinitum by current AG Bill Barr. This approach is why everyone in/around any issue that skirts on the investigative tissue keeps saying: “a very delicate balance is being navigated”, and “very sensitive approaches” are needed.

None of the former -and some remaining embed- officials in the FBI, DOJ, or Special Counsel actors, had any aversion to the use of weaponized politics in their corrupt investigations of President Trump. However, in the current investigation of the former weaponized political investigations the primary avoidance filter is politics. As expressed by almost everyone in and around the issue, any evidence that comes from inside the political silo is considered unusable. This sets up a rather challenging approach… hence the overused “delicate balances” etc. This overlay, the aggressive need not to use political information, is also frustrating.

Some are beginning to question whether it is actually a shield to justify a lack of accountability or institutional preservation. Keep up the pressure, the concerns are valid. The public doesn’t draw distinctions from the origin of evidence. Regardless of whether information comes from HPSCI ranking member Devin Nunes; and/or Senators Grassley, Johnson or Graham (political silo); or from the DOJ itself via John Bash, Jeff Jensen or John Durham; the public is absorbing all it. However, the current AG Barr instructions imply the non use of evidence emanating from the political silo in very direct terms.

FBI Washington Field Office Special Agent Brian Dugan was given a task in early 2017 to see if he could track down and identify people who were leaking information related to national security. Dugan used a Top-Secret Classified Information request by SSCI Vice-Chairman Mark Warner to begin a very specific leak investigation. On March 17, 2017, Brian Dugan picked-up a copy of the Carter Page FISA application from the FISA Court. He personally delivered that “read and return” copy to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Security Director James Wolfe. Shortly after 4:02 pm that same day, Vice-Chairman Mark Warner reviewed the FISA in the senate “scif”.

It is not known if any other SSCI committee member viewed that FISA (there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence to indicate only Wolfe and Warner saw it); however, what is factually certain – is that on the same day as Wolfe and Warner reviewed the FISA, Security Director James Wolfe leaked its content to journalist Ali Watkins. Both the New York Times and Washington Post began reporting on the FISA application. As soon as Ms. Watkins wrote an article for Buzzfeed, April 3, 2017, outlining Carter Page as “person one” in the application, Agent Dugan knew the FISA had been leaked.

Read more …

” There are reportedly as many as 33,000 e-mails from Clinton’s private server that haven’t been released publicly..”

Pompeo: Clinton Private Server Emails Could Be Released Before Election (JTN)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server might be released before the Nov. 3 election. Pompeo was asked if he is concerned that revealing the emails would have national security implications given that some of them likely contain classified information. “I’ve been at this a long time with President Trump, for four years now, almost. I’ve never seen him do anything that would put any kind of asset, any one of our officers in harms way. He wouldn’t do that,” Pompeo said on Fox News. “We’ll get the information out that needs to get out.”


Addressing the timing of the potential release of the emails, Pompeo said, “We’re doing it as fast as we can. I certainly think there will be more to see before the election.” President Trump said this week that he had declassified documents from the investigation into Clinton’s use of the private server for e-mail during her tenure as secretary of state, America’s top diplomat. There are reportedly as many as 33,000 e-mails from Clinton’s private server that haven’t been released publicly.

Read more …

Joh Rubino is a very longtime friend of the Automatic Earth.

“The strategy of breaking the stimulus bill up into pieces puts the Dems in a tough spot, having to oppose saving big, crucial industries and giving money directly to voters in order to protect bail-outs for Dem-run states.”

Well Played, Mr. President. Sorry To Have Doubted You (John Rubino)

The political and financial worlds were baffled by President Trump’s decision, just hours after being released from the hospital, to suspend coronavirus stimulus bill negotiations “until after the election.” Leaving aside the stupidity of massive new borrowing and spending on top of the past year’s multi-trillions, walking away from those talks seemed like a really bad political move. But then, in almost the same breath, Trump turns around and demands a huge bailout for the airlines and a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals. Had he joined Biden in the drift toward senility? Or was there some method to the apparent madness? With a little hindsight, it’s clear that this was one of his “Art of the Deal” tactics, albeit in compressed form.

You walk away from stalled talks, get in your car and drive off, leaving the other side stunned and, hopefully, softened up for compromise. Then you restart negotiations with each side a little more flexible, and — in this case the crucial second part of the strategy — the deal broken up into bite-sized, and thus more easily doable, parts. Huh. It appears to be working. Mnuchin and Pelosi are making hopeful sounds and the stock market – addicted as it is to ever-easier money – is now happily anticipating an extended high. Gold, meanwhile, has concluded that the now-imminent debt binge will indeed crush the dollar, sending capital pouring into safe havens. But the politics of this strategy are even more interesting than the finance.

The big conflict here is the Democrats’ burning desire to bail out their party’s governors and mayors colliding with Trump’s aversion to rewarding those officials’ horrendous mismanagement (and refusal to vote Republican). Remember, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and their peers were looking at pension crises (i.e., functional bankruptcy) before the pandemic hit. The strategy of breaking the stimulus bill up into pieces puts the Dems in a tough spot, having to oppose saving big, crucial industries and giving money directly to voters in order to protect bail-outs for Dem-run states. This is not a good place to be going into the election, but it’s where Trump has put them. So, well-played, Mr. President. Whatever else you’ve done, you have indeed taught the rest of us some lessons in hard-ball negotiating. We’ll be better for it no matter where you end up next year.

Read more …

” If rejecting the $2.1 trillion “Heroes Act” stuffed with Democratic wish-list items such as imposing federal rules banning voter IDs is the result of downing steroids or Remdesivir, every member of Congress should be force-fed those meds.”

Trump’s Brilliant Stimulus Ploy Rattles Democrats (Peek)

President Trump confounded the pundits once again when be turned the tables on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and called off further negotiations on stimulus relief. For a president running on his ability to build (and rebuild) a strong economy, pulling the plug on a relief bill poised to prop up consumer spending seemed like an act of madness. Indeed, that was what Pelosi hinted, in one of her more reckless and shameful accusations to date, telling “The View” audience recently that taking coronavirus medications may have impacted the president’s “thinking” and that perhaps he needs an “intervention.” If rejecting the $2.1 trillion “Heroes Act” stuffed with Democratic wish-list items such as imposing federal rules banning voter IDs is the result of downing steroids or Remdesivir, every member of congress should be force-fed those meds.

The story, of course, does not end there. Trump pivoted soon thereafter, challenging Pelosi to accept a stream-lined and targeted relief effort. He tweeted, “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” It was a brilliant move, and should the two sides come together to help the American people – which is the point, right? – Trump will emerge the consummate dealmaker. Americans are disgusted with Congress and its inability to get anything done. In the latest Gallup survey, only 17 percent of the country approved of Congress, while 80 percent disapproved, making Trump’s approval ratings look golden.

That’s down from 30 percent earlier this year, and surely reflects the ongoing warfare between Democrats and Republicans over, among other things, another relief package. As much as voters dislike congressional dysfunction, they must surely also hate the giant, pork-packed bills that govern our country. The “Heroes Act” weighs in at 2,100 pages. Why should doling out money to needy people and businesses require so much ink? Because that’s how Pelosi and, to be fair, her Republican counterparts, bury handouts to their favored constituents and allies. It is deplorable. Trump’s demand that Pelosi simply send out checks to struggling Americans will strike most people as reasonable. But not Madame Speaker. She loves those overstuffed pieces of legislation. After all, she’s the one who agreed to ObamaCare, saying of that 2,700-page monstrosity, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

The prevailing media-endorsed opinion (aka the Democratic talking point) is that Trump risks being blamed for the cut-off of aid to the unemployed and to small businesses if another bill does not pass. That certainty seems to have prompted Pelosi’s intransigence. She and the Democrats balked at spending anything less than $2 trillion, even knowing the GOP senate would never sign such a bill. But Pelosi has a lot on the line as well. The Blue Dog Democrats wrote a letter to the House speaker recently, in which they urged her “to continue the discussions over the weekend until a deal is achieved.” They further exhorted “Congress [to] stay here in Washington to keep negotiating.” Congress, in fact, has just left town for a six-week break. That’s how much they care about the American people.

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” I took him literally but not seriously, in contrast to his supporters who took him seriously but not literally (credit to Peter Thiel for identifying this significant distinction)”

I Didn’t Vote For Trump In 2016, But I’d Crawl Over Broken Glass Now (Sound)

Even though I had voted for every Republican presidential candidate since 1980, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Many Republican nominees had been huge disappointments to me, and I wasn’t going to vote for yet another GOP candidate I thought would betray my trust. I couldn’t imagine Trump as a genuine conservative who would champion limited government, respect individual freedom and liberty, and protect the unborn — but was I ever wrong. Although I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, I would crawl over broken glass to vote for him in 2020. In 2016, I was convinced Trump was just another New York liberal. On election night, however, I smiled. I was happy that at least Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be president, and I suspected that the next four years with Trump would at least be entertaining.


The primary reason I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 was that I didn’t believe him. I didn’t trust that he would be pro-life, a non-negotiable issue for me. His bluster and bravado didn’t appeal to me. I took him literally but not seriously, in contrast to his supporters who took him seriously but not literally (credit to Peter Thiel for identifying this significant distinction). By the time Trump took office, I was willing to give him a chance. He was the president, after all, and deserved the opportunity to prove himself. During the first year of his presidency, I was impressed by his commitment to keeping his campaign promises, unlike most politicians. By the end of 2017, I classified myself as a Trump supporter because of what he had already done as president.

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In case you were still wondering exactly how absurd it was that Mueller based his investigation on a report paid for by the Democrats.

State Dept Officials Cast Doubt On Christopher Steele’s Early Reports (DC)

State Department officials cast doubt on the credibility of several intelligence memos that former British spy Christopher Steele provided the agency in the years before he began investigating Donald Trump, according to emails the Daily Caller News Foundation obtained through a lawsuit. One State Department official, an ambassador to Ukraine, described Steele’s reporting as “flaky.” Another official said that a Steele report sounded “extreme,” and that others “do not ring true.” Despite the potential red flags regarding Steele’s work, the ex-MI6 officer was granted a meeting at Foggy Bottom in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election. During the meeting, Steele shared details later found in a dossier that accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Kremlin to influence the election.

Many of Steele’s allegations have been disputed or outright debunked in the years since the dossier was published. The State Department handed over the latest documents as part of a lawsuit that Judicial Watch filed on behalf of The Daily Caller News Foundation on April 25, 2018. The lawsuit sought several categories of records, including all of the reports that Steele provided to State Department officials prior to his investigation of Trump. Steele, who is based in London, had reportedly shared more than 100 intelligence reports about Russia and Ukraine from 2014 to 2016 with Jonathan Winer, who then served as the State Department’s special envoy to Libya.

Winer, a longtime aide to then-Sec. of State John Kerry, passed Steele’s memos to a small group of State Department officials, including Victor Nuland, Paul Jones and Geoffrey Pyatt. The State Department had released heavily redacted versions of Steele’s report through the lawsuit. The officials’ commentary was also largely redacted. The agency disclosed some of the officials’ assessments of Steele’s reports in response to an appeal from Judicial Watch. The email traffic shows initial enthusiasm for Steele’s reports. Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and the other officials said that the reports contained valuable insights into Russia and Ukraine.

Read more …

Big Tech = Secret Service censorship.

After The QAnon Ban, Who’s Next? (Taibbi)

Facebook announced Tuesday that it’s stepping up efforts to clean its platform of QAnon content: “Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content…” Facebook had already taken several rounds of action against QAnon, including the removal this summer of “over 1,500 Pages and Groups.” Restricting bans to groups featuring “discussions of potential violence” apparently didn’t do the trick, however, so the platform expended bans to include content “tied to real world harm”: “Other QAnon content [is] tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public.”

Describing what QAnon is, in a way that satisfies what its followers would might say represents their belief system and separates out the censorship issue, is not easy. The theory is constantly evolving and not terribly rational. It’s also almost always described by mainstream outlets in terms that implicitly make the case for its banning, referencing concepts like “offline harm” or the above-mentioned “real-world harm” in descriptions. As you’re learning what QAnon is, you’re usually also learning that it is not tolerable or safe. “QAnon was once a fringe phenomenon, the kind most people could safely ignore,” the New York Times wrote recently. “But in recent months, it’s gone mainstream.”

In rough terms, QAnon is a gospel spun by “Q,” ostensibly a current or former government official, who keeps the public appraised of an epic secret battle between good and evil, undertaken in political shadows. The villains are a globalist pedophile ring involving the mega-rich, Hollywood actors, and the Clintons (among many others), while Donald Trump leads the army of the righteous.

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“The Jacobins Reign of Terror comes to its sudden and ignominious end with Robespierre bawling under the national razor.”

Tomorrow, Come Here Tomorrow…. (Kunstler)

Is it possible that some Democratic Party voters begin to suspect that the party officials running this game have lost their minds? A good signifier, of course, is the ghostly figure carrying their battle-flag, Mr. Biden, the Flying Dutchman candidate whose mind slips in and out of fog-banks as he navigates the shoals of defeat. Why did the Party ship out with him on the poop-deck? My guess would be: to deflect indictments of himself and many other former officials as the steady flow of documentary evidence gets released by new DNI John Ratcliffe, including a batch this past week showing pretty incontrovertibly that everybody and his uncle in the Obama executive branch was keenly aware that RussiaGate was a Hillary campaign ploy and allowed themselves to be weaponized into the scheme — under the assumption that she couldn’t lose and they’d never be found out.

She lost. They’re found out. Grand juries have been convened by Mr. Durham. Something wicked is coming their way. Their ship is going down and the rats are all squeaking desperately in the scuppers at the rising water. Won’t this all be a shock to that crew of media fabulists who stupidly maintain that the Mueller Report actually proved something — the David Frenches, Max Boots, and Rachel Maddows of this world and their True Believer followers? History is rhyming again. It’s like 1794 in Paris. The Jacobins Reign of Terror comes to its sudden and ignominious end with Robespierre bawling under the national razor. So does today’s Reign of Perfidious Sedition close, with Jim Comey bawling, “I can’t recall,” into his laptop.

Incidental to this is the breaking news — sure to not be reported in The New York Times or by CNN — that one Devon Archer, business partner of Hunter Biden (and John Kerry stepson, Christopher Heinz) has just had his previously overturned conviction for security fraud reinstated by a federal appeals court. Sound abstruse? Yeah, kind of, but, believe me this boy is in some serious hot water, the rap being a federal one, and Mr. Archer now poised to sing like a canary to John Durham’s posse about his various financial exploits in Ukraine and other foreign lands with Joe Biden’s son (and Mr. Kerry’s stepson) in exchange for lighter jail time. You just watch.

Keep your ears pricked also for developments involving Senate Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) and his role in 2016-17 as an active disseminator of Steele Dossier RussiaGate dis-info in coordination with the George Soros funded Democracy Integrity Project, run by former Dianne Feinstein chief-of-staff Dan Jones and assisted by swamp lawyer Adam Waldman, a Steele / Warner go-between who happened to be a $40,000-a-month lobbyist for one Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and Clinton Foundation doner (at least $1-million) who also employed Christopher Steele as a dis-info errand boy. Unpacking that one will be like unpacking the surgical batting in a sucking chest wound. Scrub for it.

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Can someone explain why this is not mandatory everywhere?

Dave Collum: “I am so impressed. Free testing. Wow. Somebody tell @GoldmanSachs that @Cornell tests 5,000 people per DAY.”

Goldman Offers Workers Free On-Site COVID-19 Testing (ZH)

In September, Goldman Sachs employees in New York became the latest to suffer a trading floor outbreak as Wall Street banks called their investment banking workers back into the office before pretty much every other white-collar industry. But now that Microsoft is claiming that it plans to allow some employees to work from home permanently (well, at least some of the time), Goldman is touting its plans to offer all US-based employees antibody tests and saliva-based PCR tests and other on-sight screening for staff at 200 West Street, according to Financial News. The report cited a memo sent to staff dated Oct. 8, which was Thursday. Goldman is considering rolling the program out to other officers around the world, but it hasn’t made any final plans yet.


In New York, the tests will be available to workers first returning to the office, while those remaining at home can be reimbursed for any costs they incur related to their private health care programs and COVID-19 testing. CEO David Solomon is also introducing internal daily screenings and a “tracking and tracing” program to help prevent any future outbreaks. “As high-quality testing has become more available, we have engaged vendor partners to offer off-site COVID-19 tests to eligible people in the US at no cost,” reads the memo sent out to staff on Thursday. “Testing is one part of a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes wearing masks, following general hygiene and handwashing best practices, and practicing social distancing.”

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 082020
 
 October 8, 2020  Posted by at 8:08 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Hieronymus Bosch , The Garden of Earthly Delights, centre panel, detail c1500

 

 

Nothing partisan today, sorry, and thank you very much, just an observation. Which is that Trump keeps an unparralledly (can I buy a vowel?) divided America together simply because the entire nation focuses on him. One half out of support, the other out of “hatred”, but still. Anyone who saw even part of yesterday’s VP debate knows exactly what I mean. Boring! And that’s one thing Trump is not.

There was this headline that said: “Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together”, and I thought: does anyone believe that, anywhere on the political spectrum? The purpose of Biden is to give the Democrats the power, not to unite the nation, that’s just rubbish. But yeah, they dragged him all the way out to Gettysburg, to claim some sort of link to Abraham Lincoln. Hoping nobody remembers that Lincoln was a member of the Republican party. Joe even quoted the Republican Lincoln verbatim:

 

‘Again We Are A House Divided’: Biden Calls For Unity In Gettysburg Speech

Joe Biden delivered a forceful appeal for national unity from the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, as the nation lurched from crisis to crisis and the president continued to downplay the severity of the coronavirus after being hospitalized for Covid-19. From the storied civil war battlefield of Gettysburg, a symbol of the divisions that nearly tore the nation in two, Biden cast the election as a “battle for the soul of the nation” and emphasized the stakes this November. “Today, once again we are a house divided,” Biden said, framed by a row of American flags with the rolling hills of Gettysburg behind him.


“But that, my friend, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.” In a sweeping speech – one that drew on Abraham Lincoln’s address at the same spot, the site of one of the war’s bloodiest battles, and Lyndon Johnson’s remarks from there one hundred years later – Biden warned of the “cost of division” and his fears that partisanship threatened to undermine the central pillars of American democracy. Biden vowed to govern as an “American president”, one who would seek bipartisan solutions to the nation’s most consequential problems, including the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and economic turmoil.

Joe Biden is a non-entity. Same for Kamala Harris and Michael Pence. They don’t count in a universe that is also home to Donald Trump. Nothing to do with their opinions or politics or plans or whatever, it’s about attention value. If you ask someone who they think people will pay more attention to, Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian, it’s maybe a toss-up, and it depends on age groups. Ask the same for Joe Biden vs Kim Kardashian, and they’re going to say: what the fcuk are you talking about?

Same for Mike Pence, and Kamala Harris, no question. Hillary, the press could spin into something, but she lost to Trump once already. It’s all, all of it, about clickbait. Trump generates more of it than anyone, and none of the other protagonists seem to have any clue as to why that is. But the press do.

It’s the anti-Trump media that focuses on him even more than the pro-Trump one. Because they know that’s where the money is. Write about Trump, anything, even anything that is not true, and the money will be flowing in. Call him a rapist, racist, misogynist, fascist, anything’s fair game. I saw the term “Little Mussolini” float by when Trump stood on the White House balcony post-Walter Reed and thought again: you guys have no idea about memes. Trump is 6’3, Mussolini was 5’7, and you’re going with “Little Mussolini”? That’s your best shot?

A few days ago, before the VP debate, a commenter here on the Automatic Earth said:

 

It doesn’t seem Trump will croak from covid, but this image …

Harris and Pence

…seems more relevant than this one…

Trump and Pence.

 

And I said:

“As long as Trump is part of the game, there’s nothing more relevant than Trump. That’s not an opinion. His presence has driven everything for 4+ years. It’s kept the NYT and CNN/MSNBC alive; they would be gone without him. The Dems’ only message 4+ years in is they are not Trump. That’s it, no other message. If he would be voted out, the MSM would be too. Politics would stop attracting viewers and readers by 50-80%.


Trump generates clickbait; Pence and Biden do not. Pence will never win anything. People detest Kamala more than they did Hillary. I’m afraid that even prior to the election, why wait?, there will be the first instances of a civil war in America. The only thing that still ties the nation together is Trump. Love him or hate him.”

The very same people who most “hate” Trump are the ones whose income most depends on him “Being There”. CNN head Jerry Zucker made it very clear to his staff during the so-called impeachment hearings that the only thing he wanted them to report on was impeachment. Not because he hates Trump, but because he knew that’s where the money is in present-day America: Yes, Trump.

CNN, WaPo, NYT, they’re altogether being busy killing their golden goose. You think these outlets, saved from bankruptcy by the appearance of Trump on the scene, don’t understand the dynamics? Of course they do. But they’re too far gone into their anti-Trump game to turn around. They know they themselves potentially initiated their own downfall by going all-out against Trump and for Joe Biden. But they have nowhere left to turn anymore.

If Biden wins, they’re done, nobody cares about him, nobody would read or watch a single thing about him, or about Kamala if she would take over, even if that switcheroo would give them a short attention “span”.

 

Trump said, coming out of Walter Reed: don’t let COVID19 dominate your life. Which the so-called left wing MSM turned into: “Don’t let tRump DOMINATE your life”. Bit late for that, guys and gals. You volunteered to let him dominate your lives for 4+ years now.

There doesn’t appear to be much of a plan in the Democratic party, and what plans there are differ hugely from each other. The gaps between Biden, Sanders and AOC are huge, on fracking, health care, you name it. They just find themselves together in the same party, for no obvious reason, other than, you guessed it, Trump. They stand for nothing together, there’s just one thing they agree on: Trump. Orange Man Bad: “I’m the one who ran against the socialists” Joe Biden said when asked about whether a vote for him is a vote for the radical left, despite the fact that Bernie campaigned for him in Michigan today”.

You can only keep that sort of thing together with a common enemy. Trump not only keeps the nation together, he literally keeps the Democratic Party together.

 

 

 

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Oct 082020
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1944

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

Banning fracking

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

Let’s go!

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

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

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

Read more …

The judge was quoting Rachel Maddow?!

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

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


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

Read more …

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

“A Means Of Distracting The Public” (Turley)

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Paul: The Democrats have been caught

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

Trump Orders Russiagate Documents Declassified (Ray McGovern)

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

The Constitutional Reckoning of State Lockdown Orders (AIER)

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Sep 142020
 


Edvard Munch Love and pain 1895

 

“A Harris Administration Together With Joe Biden” (AZC)
America’s Color Revolution (Paul Craig Roberts)
Biden Says Stay in Mideast, Increase Military Spending (Antiwar)
Wiped Phones Obstruction Of Justice, Worst Sort Destruction Of Evidence (RCP)
Trump Signs New, Expanded Executive Order To Lower US Drug Prices (R.)
State Dept Reported Burisma Paid Bribe While Hunter Biden Served On Board (JTN)
The Fed’s New Framework: This Time Is Different (Zentner)
Oracle Emerges As Likely US Partner For TikTok (JTN)
Beijing’s Mass Surveillance Of Australia And The World (ABC.au)
The Rise of Ultra-Processed Foods (Conv.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb: Retrospective bigotteering

 

 

What a most curious thing to say. Where does that come from? Is it equal to “A Pence Administration Together With Donald Trump”?

“A Harris Administration Together With Joe Biden” (AZC)

Pointing to Arizona’s high coronavirus losses, Kamala Harris urged the state’s residents to register and vote for an administration committed to its health and business needs. In a five-minute virtual speech Saturday cast as a conversation with Latina small business owners, the senator from California said she and her running mate, Joe Biden, will create manufacturing incentives, roll back tax cuts that went to the wealthy and preserve health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. “For everyone on this call, Joe and I understand that your business is the heartbeat of your community,” Harris said. “As part of our Build Back Better agenda, we will need to make sure you have a president in the White House who actually sees you, who understands your needs, who understands the dignity of your work and who has your back.”


Harris’ speech is a reminder of the key role Hispanic voters are expected to play in helping win Arizona, a battleground for the White House. The Biden-Harris ticket is expected to win most Hispanic votes, but polling suggests they are doing so in numbers smaller than Democrat Hillary Clinton did in her losing 2016 campaign. Harris said a Democratic administration, which she called “a Harris administration together with Joe Biden,” would provide $100 billion in low-interest loans and investments for minority-owned businesses, a $15,000 tax credit for first-time home-buyers and allow government-run health insurance to compete with private insurers.

Read more …

“Trump, isolated in his own government, will be cut off from Twitter, Facebook and from the print and TV media.”

America’s Color Revolution (Paul Craig Roberts)

Russiagate was a coup that failed, followed by the failed Impeachgate coup. Faced with Trump’s reelection and the realization that upon reelection Trump will be able to deal with the treason against him, the Deep State has decided to take him out with a color revolution. The evidence of a color revolution in the works is abundantly supplied by CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, NPR, Washington Post and numerous Internet sites funded by the CIA and the foundations and corporations through which it operates, all of which are committed to Trump’s ejection from the Oval Office. The American public does not realize the extent to which the institutions of a free society have been penetrated and turned against freedom. All of these media organizations are establishing the story in the mind of Americans that Trump will not leave office when he loses or steals the election and must be driven out.

Emails are arriving from readers in the UK and Europe reporting that the British and European media are at work preparing the acceptability of the CIA’s color revolution against President Trump. It is taken for granted by both media and politicians in Europe and the UK that Trump cannot win reelection because he (1) is a Putin agent, (2) abuses the power of his office, (3) represents racist “Trump Deplorables,” (4) is a womanizer—“grab them by the pussy,” (5) is responsible for America leading the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths, (6) doesn’t support NATO (a sinecure for many Europeans), (7) is an outsider and not a member of The Establishment and “is not like us,” (8) “has orange hair” (orange is considered a low class color). You can add your own to the list.

The scenarios for what the American, British, and European media assume to be a necessary color revolution to drive Trump from office are: • Trump loses the election, refuses to leave office and must be dislodged or democracy is lost. • Trump wins the election by fraud and must be dislodged or democracy is lost. The scenarios do not accommodate Trump actually winning the election by the vote of the people. That outcome is outside the possibilities. According to the media, Trump can only lose or steal the election. With Antifa and Black Lives Matter now experienced in violent protests, they will be unleashed anew on American cities when there is news of a Trump election victory. The media will explain the violence as necessary to free us from a tyrant and egg on the violence, as will the Democrat Party. The CIA will be certain that the violence is well funded.

Trump, isolated in his own government, which has failed to bring charges against the Obama regime officials who tried to frame the President of the United States and drive him from office—Barr and Durham represent The Establishment, not the President or law—will be cut off from Twitter, Facebook and from the print and TV media. All Americans and the world will hear is that Trump lost and must go or Trump won by vote fraud and must go. It will be impossible for Trump or anyone to refute the charges.

Read more …

“The priorities, as are so often the case for the US, are fighting Russia, who Biden identified as a “near-peer” power. The US spends more than ten times the amount on its military annually that Russia does, and it is unclear in what way they are a “near-peer.”

Biden Says Stay in Mideast, Increase Military Spending (Antiwar)

Former Vice President Joe Biden gave some of his first foreign policy-related positions in an interview with Stars and Stripes on Thursday, saying the “forever wars have to end” while seemingly ruling out any full-fledged withdrawals, arguing the US still has to worry about terrorism and ISIS. Biden said the ongoing US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria are so complicated he can’t promise a withdrawal. He also suggested he may increase military spending even beyond its current record levels as he shifts focus to what he believes should be the military’s priorities. The priorities, as are so often the case for the US, are fighting Russia, who Biden identified as a “near-peer” power.


The US spends more than ten times the amount on its military annually that Russia does, and it is unclear in what way they are a “near-peer.” Either way, Biden intends to shift the focus toward unmanned drones and cyber-warfare, and suggests that is likely to boil down to not just a shift in where money is spent, but likely an increase in spending as well. “First thing I’m going to have to do, and I’m not joking: if elected I’m going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America’s back,” Biden said, saying NATO has been “worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia.”

Read more …

Sidney Powell.

Wiped Phones Obstruction Of Justice, Worst Sort Destruction Of Evidence (RCP)

Sidney Powell, the attorney for Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, appeared on FOX Business and denounced the Mueller team for having their phones wiped before the DOJ inspector general could view their contents. “I wrote about it in an article in 2018 complaining that Rosenstein and Mueller allowed the Strzok/Page cell phones from the special counsel operation to be destroyed, and I demanded that the IG seize the other phones then and collect all the evidence off of them,” Powell said Thursday. “And then the IG lets this happen. All of those phones should have been seized while at the end of the special counsel operation while they were still doing it, and they should have nailed every one of them.”


Powell on Strzok: “Peter Strzok is a liar. Peter Strzok is the one who altered the 302 multiple times in conjunction with Lisa Page until he added statements that were not reflected in the notes of the two agents that interviewed General Flynn.” “And both agent Strzok and agent Pientka who interviewed him knew at the time he was telling them the truth. That’s why Flynn was never re-interviewed. They didn’t even warn him about a 1001 statement, and they didn’t let him look at the transcript like they do with every other witness.” “They treated him differently than anyone else they ever interviewed for anything. They schemed and planned to interview him in such a way he did not even know he was the subject of the interview or investigation and they did that deliberately, violating all the rules in the process.”

Read more …

Got to love this from Big Pharma:

“a reckless attack on the very companies working around the clock to beat COVID19.”

Trump Signs New, Expanded Executive Order To Lower US Drug Prices (R.)

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Sunday aimed at lowering drug prices in the United States by linking them to those of other nations and expanding the scope of a July action. “My Most Favored Nation order will ensure that our Country gets the same low price Big Pharma gives to other countries. The days of global freeriding at America’s expense are over,” Trump said in a Twitter post. The latest step, coming less than two months before the Nov. 3 presidential election, would replace a July 24 Trump executive order. It extends the mandate to prescription drugs available at a pharmacy, which are covered under Medicare Part D. The July version focused on drugs typically administered in doctors’ offices and health clinics, covered by Medicare Part B.


Specifically, it would pay a price for a drug that matches the lowest price paid among wealthy foreign governments. Medicare, the government healthcare program for seniors, is currently prohibited from negotiating prices it pays to drugmakers. It also requires issuing new federal rules, a complex process that might not be done by Election Day. Determining prices paid by other countries could be challenging as negotiations between governments and drugmakers often are kept confidential. The industry’s largest trade group – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA – denounced Trump’s move as “a reckless attack on the very companies working around the clock to beat COVID-19.”

Read more …

Will this go away?

State Dept Reported Burisma Paid Bribe While Hunter Biden Served On Board (JTN)

Just eight months after Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter joined the board of Burisma Holdings, U.S. officials in Kiev developed evidence that the Ukrainian gas company may have paid a $7 million bribe to the local prosecutors investigating the firm for corruption, according to interviews and State Department memos. State officials believed the alleged bribe was paid between May and December 2014 and got confirmation from one prosecutor. They argued the bribe amounted to a “gross miscarriage of justice that undermined months of US assistance” to fight corruption in Ukraine, contemporaneous memos show. The concerns were eventually reported to the FBI, although it is not clear whether the allegations were ever investigated more fully, according to current and former U.S. and Ukrainian government officials.

The anecdote, buried in five-year-old diplomatic files, provides a fresh illustration of the awkward, uncomfortable conflict of interest State officials perceived as they tried to fight pervasive corruption in Ukraine under Joe Biden’s leadership while the vice president’s son collected large payments as a board member for an energy firm widely viewed as corrupt. The concerns first came to a head in January 2015, the memos show, about eight months after Hunter Biden was named to Burisma’s board and after two major corruption investigations — one in Ukraine and the other in Britain — were opened against the gas firm.

George Kent, then a State Department official newly sent to the U.S. embassy in Kiev to lead anti-corruption efforts, was concerned the bribery allegations surrounding Prosecutor General Vitaly Yarema were credible enough that he sought a meeting with one of Yarema’s deputies to demand action, according to State Department memos. His concern was triggered when Yarema took action over the Christmas 2014 holidays to undercut both the British and Ukraine investigations of Burisma and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky, and the U.S. embassy received word a $7 million bribe had changed hands, State memos show. The Feb. 3, 2015 meeting involved Kent, one of Yarema’s top deputies, Anatoliy Danylenko, as well as the DOJ’s liaison in Ukraine, Jeffrey Cole, memos show. It was arranged by Andrii Telizhenko, an English-speaking mid-level Ukrainian government official long trusted by the Obama administration in Kiev and Washington to facilitate contacts between the two countries.

“No problem, works for us. I’ll get you the names soonest. Likely George and Jeff Cole. Will confirm later,” U.S. embassy official Gregory W. Pfleger wrote Telizhenko in a lengthy Jan. 31, 2015 email chain that arranged the location, date and attendees for the meeting for three days later. Pfleger had forwarded Kent’s resume to the Ukrainians since he was new to the embassy, and Telizhenko reciprocated by forwarding a biography for Danylenko, the memos show. U.S. officials familiar with the meeting, as well as one eyewitness, told Just the News that Kent strongly confronted Danylenko, insisting the U.S. had strong reason to believe that Burisma officials made a multimillion dollar bribe to Yarema’s office between May 2014 when Hunter Biden joined the board and December 2014.

[..] A few days after the meeting, Yarema abruptly stepped down Feb. 10, 2015 as the chief prosecutor of Ukraine after just a few months in the job.

Strzok believes

Read more …

From Morgan Stanley’s chief economist Ellen Zentner. I must assume these people believe in their own gibberish, as well as the Fed’s.

The Fed’s New Framework: This Time Is Different (Zentner)

On August 27, Chair Powell and the Federal Open Market Committee made history, rolling out a new inflation-targeting framework. I believe that the central bank is now more likely to achieve its desired inflation target in the current cycle. If it does, this new framework may well be Chair Powell’s legacy. The Fed replaced its old symmetric 2% inflation target with a flexible average inflation-targeting framework. It emphasizes that the Fed will target an inflation overshoot in recoveries following inflation shortfalls during downturns. This has important implications for economic and policy outcomes over the medium term. Most specifically, under Powell’s leadership the Fed has now solidified a more dovish path than in previous recoveries.

Under the new outcome-based approach, the Fed needs evidence of inflation before raising rates, rather than simply forecasting that it will rise. Had this policy framework been in place in the last cycle, with inflation and unemployment evolving exactly as they did, the Fed might have delayed lift-off to as late as 2018, with its overall policy stance more accommodative for longer. It’s not just policy outcomes that are likely to differ. A change in monetary policy dynamics is likely to feed through to inflation expectations, which are relevant to price- and wage-setting. This would make it more likely that the Fed can achieve its inflation targets over the current cycle and that average 2% inflation outcomes are attainable over time.

To be sure, the change in the Fed’s framework makes us even more confident that inflation will be structurally higher over this cycle and beyond. How quickly the output and employment gaps close in this cycle will play a major role in determining when the first rate hike comes. Moreover, we believe that to demonstrate their commitment to the new strategy, policy-makers won’t rush to raise rates at the first sign of success. The longer-term simulations we laid out in Life After Covid suggest that the kind of labor market and inflation conditions the Fed would want to see sustained could be in place for the Fed to consider raising rates by the first half of 2024, sooner should the V-shaped recovery continue to run ahead of expectations.

Long before the first rate hike, the Fed should see the necessary conditions to start taking its foot off the gas. Working backwards, we think the Fed will want to end its asset purchases around a year before the first rate hike. This suggests that asset purchases would stop in early 2023, but tapering is likely to come in mid-2022. Chair Powell has time and again displayed an affinity for long-dated forewarning of Fed action to market participants, so starting to slow the pace of asset purchases around mid-2022 means we should get guidance that tapering is on the horizon by the December 2021 FOMC meeting.

Read more …

I thought they weren’t going to sell at all?!

Oracle Emerges As Likely US Partner For TikTok (JTN)

Oracle emerged Sunday evening as the likely U.S. partner for the popular social video app TikTok after Microsoft Corp. announced its bid had been rejected by the Chinese app’s owner. “ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft,” the U.S. software maker announced in a blog post. “We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. Microsoft’s rejection left Oracle as the lone remaining U.S. suitor. The Washington Post, quoting an anonymous source, reported Sunday night that ByteDance had chosen Oracle as TikTok’s U.S. technology partner.

Read more …

China emulates the CIA?!

Beijing’s Mass Surveillance Of Australia And The World (ABC.au)

A Chinese company with links to Beijing’s military and intelligence networks has been amassing a vast database of detailed personal information on thousands of Australians, including prominent and influential figures. A database of 2.4 million people, including more than 35,000 Australians, has been leaked from the Shenzhen company Zhenhua Data which is believed to be used by China’s intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security. Zhenhua has the People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese Communist Party among its main clients. Information collected includes dates of birth, addresses, marital status, along with photographs, political associations, relatives and social media IDs.

It collates Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and even TikTok accounts, as well as news stories, criminal records and corporate misdemeanours. While much of the information has been “scraped” from open-source material, some profiles have information which appears to have been sourced from confidential bank records, job applications and psychological profiles. The company is believed to have sourced some of its information from the so-called “dark web”. One intelligence analyst said the database was “Cambridge Analytica on steroids”, referring to the trove of personal information sourced from Facebook profiles in the lead up to the 2016 US election campaign.

[..] The database was leaked to a US academic based in Vietnam, Professor Chris Balding, who until 2018 had worked at the elite Peking University before leaving China citing fears for his physical safety. “China is absolutely building out a massive surveillance state both domestically and internationally,” Professor Balding told the ABC. “They’re using a wide variety of tools — this one is taken primarily from public sources, there is non-public data in here, but it is taken primarily from public sources. “I think it speaks to the broader threat of what China is doing and how they are surveilling, monitoring and seeking to influence… not just their own citizens, but citizens around the world.” Professor Balding has returned to the United States, leaving Vietnam after being advised it was no longer safe for him to be there.

It was also a grave risk taken by the person who leaked the database to him, who contacted him as he started publishing articles about Chinese tech giant Huawei. “We’ve worked very hard to make sure that there are no links between me and that person, once I realised what had been given to me,” he said. “They are still in China. But hopefully I think they will be safe.” Professor Balding gave the database to Canberra cyber security company Internet 2.0 which was able to restore 10 per cent of the 2.4 million records for individuals. Internet 2.0’s chief executive Robert Potter said Zhenhua had built the capacity to track naval vessels and defence assets, to assess the careers of military officers and catalogue the intellectual property of China’s competitors. “This mass collection of data is taking place in China’s private sector, in the same way Beijing outsources its cyber attack capability to private subcontractors,” Mr Potter told the ABC.

Read more …

Awfully simplistic, but a good reminder that this stuff makes your body, and your immune system, much weaker. The last thing you want with a virus like this going around is chronic inflammation.

The Rise of Ultra-Processed Foods (Conv.)

Humans (and our ancestors) have been processing food for at least 1.8 million years. Roasting, drying, grinding and other techniques made food more nutritious, durable and tasty. This helped our ancestors to colonise diverse habitats, and then develop settlements and civilisations. Many traditional foods used in cooking today are processed in some way, such as grains, cheeses, dried fish and fermented vegetables. Processing itself is not the problem. Only much more recently has a different type of food processing emerged: one that is more extensive, and uses new chemical and physical techniques. This is called ultra-processing, and the resulting products ultra-processed foods.

To make these foods, cheap ingredients such as starches, vegetable oils and sugars, are combined with cosmetic additives like colours, flavours and emulsifiers. Think sugary drinks, confectionery, mass-produced breads, snack foods, sweetened dairy products and frozen desserts. Unfortunately, these foods are terrible for our health. And we’re eating more of them than ever before, partially because of aggressive marketing and lobbying by “Big Food”. [..] We found that more ultra-processed foods in the diet associates with higher risks of obesity, heart disease and stroke, type-2 diabetes, cancer, frailty, depression and death. These harms can be caused by the foods’ poor nutritional profile, as many are high in added sugars, salt and trans-fats.


Also, if you tend to eat more ultra-processed foods, it means you probably eat fewer fresh and less-processed foods. Industrial processing itself can also be harmful. For example, certain food additives can disrupt our gut bacteria and trigger inflammation, while plasticisers in packaging can interfere with our hormonal system. Certain features of ultra-processed foods also promote over-consumption. Product flavours, aromas and mouthfeel are designed to make these foods ultra-tasty, and perhaps even addictive.

Read more …

 

 

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That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest

– Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

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Aug 192020
 


Joel Meyerowitz New York City 1963

 

 

No, no matter how much I read and watch, I can’t shake the idea (less so as I go along, actually) that the Democrats don’t really, honestly, want to win the 2020 presidential election. Obviously, there are many in the party who do, and voters too, but not the ones pushing the levers and pulling the strings. Those, whoever they may be, that are picking candidates, setting policy, maintaining media contacts, doctoring spins.

Because is there anyone among you who has ever seen a worse candidate than Joe Biden? I’m not just talking about his dementia and gaffes, but you’d be very hard-pressed to find anyone who can use Biden and enthusiasm -let alone inspiration, or even better: exhilaration- in one sentence that doesn’t include the word “no”. And isn’t that the #1 requirement for a candidate?

They ostensibly went with Kamala Harris to provide some of that, if we may believe the press. She’ll whip up the voters into wild bouts of inspiring enthusiasm! Only, Kamala bowed out of the primaries even before 2020 started, after spending $40 million -part of which is still not paid off- because she was stuck at 2% support and couldn’t generate … any enthusiasm.

What you got is a really old man who couldn’t get a toddler excited about ice cream, and a token black woman who nobody even in her own party likes. Mix those ingredients into a convention that attracts just half the viewers of the 2016 one and generates the excitement level of an infomercial for kitchen appliances, and is it any wonder I doubt that the “behind the curtain party” is in this to win?

As for the political program, the agenda, there is really only one item on it: Donald Trump. And no matter how many millions of times it may be repeated in speeches and news articles, NOT being something is in the end NOT a positive message. You’re supposed to win on your own merit, not someone else’s perceived lack of merit. Newsflash: “MOST BIDEN SUPPORTERS SAY THEIR VOTE IS AGAINST TRUMP RATHER THAN FOR BIDEN – WSJ/NBC News poll”.

This bit from the Guardian on Monday sums it up nicely, and it veers into late night comedy territory while doing it (what more can one ask for?):

Virtual Democratic Convention Kicks Off With Emphasis On Unity

The Democratic national convention begins on Monday with a star-studded lineup and heavy emphasis on unity aimed at presenting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the US’s best hope for healing a deeply divided nation[..]

The Dems have a hard enough time uniting their own party, let alone the nation. And there’s not a Trump supporter who would move into their camp – other than the odd washed up GOP politician.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on the eve of the convention found Biden with a nine-point lead over Trump nationally [..] According to the survey, Biden holds a wide advantage over Trump on nearly every issue except the economy, which voters say is a priority this election.


[..] Biden’s selection of Harris has exhilarated supporters, who showered the campaign with a stunning $48m in the 48 hours after she was announced as his running mate.[..]

What, so now they’re only $50 million or so behind?

Democrats anticipate the excitement around Harris’s historic candidacy as the first Black woman nominated for national office by a major party, will build momentum around the convention [..] Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPac, a super Pac focused on Black Democrats: “I think there is also real relief that there is a ticket people can believe in, and get behind and push over the finish line.”

Excitement, exhilaration are words that don’t seem to mean anymore what they used to.

[..] the people who were in the Bernie campaign, the people in the Biden campaign, and people outside of both of those campaigns – have really worked hard to create an effective and genuine popular front against Donald Trump,” Weaver said, adding: “Trump is a very unifying factor.”


[..] Howard Dean, a former chair of the DNC who has attended every party convention since 1980, said the new format could work in Biden’s favor. Unlike Trump, who feeds off the energy of crowds at rallies but can look wooden and uncomfortable when reading from a teleprompter, Biden, Dean said, “does better on television than he does at a podium”. “This helps him because he will be on TV projecting calmness, reasonableness and thoughtfulness,” he said. “And that’s what people are desperate for right now.”

Isn’t it great that not feeling comfortable reading from a teleprompter 24/7 in your basement has now become a negative quality? I know, it’s hard to keep up.

But then there was the reality check from CNN on Sunday. Double digit leads vanished (coincidence?) just as Kamala caused all that exhilarating excitement:

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High

[..] on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election [..] 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error [..]

Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.

It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%.

The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide).

 

The picture painted, especially amongst the most dedicated anti-Trumpers, is of course that Biden can’t lose; that’s what they all want, right? Well, think about it: CNN lives off of Trump, and so does a large part of the MSM. But then again, they made their beds and they’ll have to lie in them. The Democratic Party, however, does not. They are free to sabotage their own campaign.

And as I said above, there are many signs that MAY indicate that they are doing just that. The selection of Joe Biden, the basement strategy, the subsequent “appointment” of Kamala Harris, the near-dead convention. Do appreciate, please, that we have no idea how Biden and Kamala were “selected”. How did Biden all of a sudden rise to the top of the crop from seemingly nowhere? Where did Kamala come from post-primary mayhem? Did Joe personally pick her? Do you believe that?

But okay, if you don’t think that they would sabotage their own campaign, flip things around: if they WOULD have wanted to make sure they’d lose the election, what would they have done, you know, the donors behind the veil, plus maybe the Obamas and Clintons? Wouldn’t they perhaps have picked Biden and Kamala, whom very few people appeared to actually like, find sympathetic, prior to them being selected for their respective roles? Why not select people that DO resonate with voters without you having to forcefully shove them down their throats?

Why would a bunch of power-hungry folk (as all politicians and their sponsors are) want to screw up their own chance at obtaining power? Well, the lack of good candidates may well be a factor, but there’s something much bigger: the US economy, like most if not all western economies, is wobbling precariously on a precipice, and about to fall off. As I labeled it recently: The Bottom Is Falling Out.

Our entire present reality is still somewhat new, the COVID pandemic, its fallout, the bailouts, the government checks, the sick and the dead, but at some point it will all start to become a “normal” part of life. That doesn’t mean, however, that the economy will return to “normal” (whatever anybody ever thought that meant).

An enormous number of businesses will never reopen, entire fields will be obliterated, re: tourism, airlines, a large swath of retail stores. The unemployment that generates will be with us for many years. The Great Depression will become a mere footnote in most history books.

And the parties in charge in various countries, including the GOP in America, will be the ones blamed for most of the ensuing problems. If you’re a Democrat behind-the-curtain wizard, wouldn’t you at least consider saying: I think I’ll pass for this round, and let Trump take the heat?

Just so, you know, you can continue your cooperation with CNN, NYT, WaPo, FBI, and blame Trump every single day and 1000 times on Sunday for everything that falls apart, while continuing to generate clickbait profits ? If all you got to show for your grand ambitions is Joe Biden, it must seem a really appealing course of action.

Besides, you don’t appear to have any better candidates than Biden -at least not centrist ones-, but don’t forget that neither do the Republicans once Trump is gone. Da Donald is set to leave a huge hole behind where he once pontificated. And just about any Democrat except for Joe Biden could step right into that hole (pun intended).

 

 

 

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Aug 182020
 


Bettmann/Getty Minimum Wage 1963

 

Coronavirus Clusters Erupt At US Universities As Semester Begins (AP)
Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage (Cut)
They’re Angry, Not Stupid: Why Trump is Likely to Win Again (Greene)
Sanders: ‘The Future Of Our Planet Is At Stake’ In 2020 Election (JTN)
Democrats Seem All Too Willing to Surrender on Health Care Reform (Jac.)
Michelle Obama Speech Recorded Before Joe Biden Selected Kamala Harris (NYP)
Trump vs. Dems On Mail-in Voting (Chaffetz)
Trump Teases Upcoming Pardon For ‘Very Important’ Person (RT)
China’s Anti-Trump Election Meddling Raises New Alarm (Fox)
Kamala Harris Reportedly Owes $1M In Bills From Failed Presidential Run (NYP)
Twelve US Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion (Ineq.org)
US States Seek $2.2 Trillion From OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma (R.)
The Need for Debt-for-Climate Swaps (PS)
The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory (Steve Keen)
And in the End (Rolling Stone)

 

 

No, I didn’t watch the Dem convention. Never perform invasive surgery on myself either, for pretty much the same reason. But I did pick up a few tidbits. It all leaves a very elitist impression. Deplorables.

 

 

New global cases below 200,000, new deaths at 4,297. Not bad. Or is that just because it was Monday?

Several European countries are spiking in what is perhaps a second wave. Pretty lousy controls, which will lead to all kinds of renewed lockdowns. Unnecessary.

 

 

New cases only just above 40,000 in the US, it was 70,000 not long ago, with new deaths at “only” 589.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sounds just plain dumb.

Coronavirus Clusters Erupt At US Universities As Semester Begins (AP)

From the dorms at North Carolina to the halls of Notre Dame, officials at universities around the US scrambled on Monday to deal with new Covid-19 clusters at the start of the fall semester, some of them linked to off-campus parties and packed clubs. North Carolina’s flagship university cancelled in-person classes for undergraduates just a week into the fall semester Monday. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it will switch to remote learning on Wednesday and make arrangements for students who want to leave campus housing. “We have emphasised that if we were faced with the need to change plans – take an off-ramp – we would not hesitate to do so, but we have not taken this decision lightly,” it said in a statement after reporting 130 confirmed infections among students and five among employees over the past week.


UNC said the clusters were discovered in dorms, a fraternity house and other student housing. Before the decision came down, the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, ran an editorial headlined “UNC has a clusterf*** on its hands”. The paper said that the parties that took place over the weekend were no surprise and that administrators should have begun the semester with online-only instruction at the university, which has 19,000 undergraduates. “We all saw this coming,” the editorial said. Outbreaks earlier this summer at fraternities in Washington state, California and Mississippi provided a glimpse of the challenges school officials face in keeping the virus from spreading on campuses where young people eat, live, study – and party – in close quarters.

Read more …

The DNC pushed Bernie aside until he complied with the Biden “plan”. They do the same with AOC et al, without whom they may never have had control of the House. Instead, they have Republicans and billionaires speaking, along with has-beens like the Obamas and Clintons….

Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage (Cut)

When the Democratic National Committee released its schedule for its big socially distanced convention this week, we learned that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, inarguably among the party’s most dynamic figures, would have just sixty seconds to address the nation. [..] the relegation of Ocasio-Cortez, who electrifies multiple parts of a Democratic base, to one meager minute, a segment that—unlike speeches by some other presenters—will be pre-recorded, isn’t just a snub. The failure of a major political party to showcase one of its most talented politicians, a young person whose communicative reach and facility positions her to be among its leaders deep into our future, is self-sabotage.

[..] Why will this convention not show off more of the historic number of women who enabled their party to retake the House in 2018? Most of them won’t be prominently featured, but former Ohio Republican governor John Kasich, who ran for governor as a Tea Partier and signed eleven laws (comprising 21 restrictions) on abortion, including a 20 week ban and the prohibition of rape crisis centers advising survivors about the option of abortion, will be. He also worked to rob Ohio’s public workers of the right to bargain collectively (voters later overturned this measure). Not only is Kasich getting a plum spot on Monday, he’s used his time in the Democratic sun to diss Ocasio-Cortez, telling Buzzfeed that just because she “gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party. She’s just a part, just some member of it.”

So John Kasich, Republican, feels that Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat, gets outsized attention, even as he–along with his fellow Republicans Susan Molinari (Remember her? No? Weird) and former Hewlett-Packard and eBay CEO Meg Whitman–will get more featured airtime than she at her party’s convention. But this convention seems driven to thumb its nose not only at individual politicians, but at the social movements that have transformed civic participation and changed public opinion across the nation during the course of the Trump administration. Remember those women who retook the House in 2018? A bunch of them were first time candidates who were open about how their entrance into politics was grounded in their fury about the ubiquity and pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the #metoo movement.

But the party that profited from their electoral success has offered prime speaking spots to two multiply-accused harassers: former president Bill Clinton and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. That Bloomberg’s presidential campaign met its lethal end at the hands of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who in a February primary debate detailed his history of workplace harassment, red lining, and support of stop-and-frisk policing, all in her allotted sixty seconds (she only had a minute; an eternity was in it) makes his featured presence an insult to Warren, and the many Democrats who were far more inspired by her campaign than by his. And listen, I get it, and assume everyone else does too: Bloomberg is speaking to the Democratic convention because the Democrats need his money (he shifted $18 million from his campaign to the Democratic National Committee in March).

But if organizers had been paying attention these past two years, they might have learned that that’s actually part of the structural thing about harassment and those who get away with it: too often, you need their money.


Matt Taibbi’s drinking game bingo card for the DNC

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…and that attitude of trampling over the left leads to this… If you think BLM, Antifa, #MeToo are the only angry ones, you are mistaken.

They’re Angry, Not Stupid: Why Trump is Likely to Win Again (Greene)

The candidate Barack Obama spoke to blue-collar America. He campaigned on change that would rejuvenate careers and restore dignity. Working Americans in the swing states doubted that Hillary Clinton even knew they existed. They saw Obama as a last hope and supported him enthusiastically in the 2008 primaries and later in the general election, but he soon proved to be a disappointment. He, too, fell in love with Silicon Valley and Wall Street and neglected the people who needed him most. And they punished him: he won fewer states in 2012 than he had in 2008. People like the alternate me felt cheated by a guy who rocked a Brooks Brothers suit and talked a great game, then gave the Tech and Finance sectors everything they wanted and more.

Educated people from the best schools trusted Big Tech outfits because educated people from the best schools ran them. Elites imagine each other to be virtuous because they imagine themselves that way. Technology giants were understood not as hardy sprouts but would be treated instead with princess-and-the-pea levels of delicacy, thanks to a superstitious fear that it might all be brought to grief by, say, forcing companies with hundreds of billions in share value to tolerate an employees’ union, offer a minimum wage adequate for a decent life, or pay tax proportional to their reliance on public goods.

No one bears greater responsibility for the lack of empathy toward Old-Economy workers that led to Donald Trump’s victory than big-name Tech darlings and the New Democrats who coddled them, then openly ridiculed their own voter base: the people Hillary foolishly nicknamed “Deplorables;” that is, the millions of disappointed Obama voters who would happily have voted blue if they’d had confidence that the party would respect them, welcome them, and acknowledge their needs. But the New Economy is a gated community, shut firmly to them, whose most strenuous boosters have been the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. Old-school, working-class Democrats are unwelcome in the party they built. No one wants them tracking mud through the salon.

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the swing states the same way Barack Obama had: by characterizing her as disdainful toward blue-collar Americans. It was a potent message among those who once had seen decent wages in return for honest work, lately reduced to Walmart greeters and Uber drivers. Humiliated by a labor market in which they had nothing to trade, the former working class understood that they also had nothing to lose. Liberal democracy and its supporting institutions shed their veneer of sanctity when dead-end employees can aspire only to dead-end management gigs. Call them “associates” and “technicians” all you want; they know who they’ve become and what others think of them. They are why Trump won in the swing states; he was propelled to victory by disillusioned Obama voters.

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I would have expected so much more from Bernie. Folds for the DNC twice in a row, and doesn’t volunteer to return any donations.

Can someone check how many times he said the same in 2016?! “Sanders called the 2020 election the most important in the modern history of the U.S.”

Sanders: ‘The Future Of Our Planet Is At Stake’ In 2020 Election (JTN)

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders urged his supporters Monday to vote for nominee Joe Biden, imploring that the “future of our planet is at stake” and that the “price of failure” for not electing Biden would be “just too great to imagine.” “The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders said on opening night of the Democratic National Convention. “We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.” Sanders called the 2020 election the most important in the modern history of the U.S.

“We need an unprecedented response, a movement, like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency,” said Sanders, a democratic-socialist who finished second in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. “Our campaign ended several months ago but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream but let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy,” he also [said].

Sanders named areas where Biden has moved the progressive agenda forward, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it easier for workers to join unions,” creating 12 weeks of paid family leave and funding universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds. “Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over the next 15 years. These initiatives will create millions of good paying jobs all across the country,” Sanders said. “We are the only industrialized nation not to guarantee health care for all people. While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get to universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs. Further, he will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 60,” added Sanders, who worked with Biden on his final campaign platform.

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Bernie campaigner David Sirota has at least a little backbone.

Democrats Seem All Too Willing to Surrender on Health Care Reform (Jac.)

On the eve of a Democratic National Convention taking place as millions lose health care coverage, the health care industry is launching a new ad campaign pressing Democrats to back off from the party’s already compromised health care promises. That pressure seems to be having its intended effect on Capitol Hill, as congressional aides say the party will not push the initiative if Joe Biden wins the presidency. The signs of retreat come as health care industry profits are skyrocketing and the industry’s campaign cash has flooded into Democratic coffers. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) — a front group created by health insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital lobbying groups to oppose “Medicare for All” — announced on Friday that it is launching a new national ad campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon their plans to create a public health insurance plan.

The group said it will run ads during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week. PAHCF is led by a former Hillary Clinton aide and run out of the offices of a DC lobbying firm led by former top Democratic congressional aides. A substantial “public option” plan — which polls show is wildly popular — was the centerpiece of recent policy negotiations between supporters of former vice president Joe Biden and progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who had been pushing for a more expansive Medicare for All program. A draft of the party platform, approved by DNC members late last month, includes a pledge to pass a public option, or a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

Within twenty-four hours of the launch of the industry’s new ads, however, anonymous Democratic congressional sources were telling the Hill that Democrats likely won’t bother with the public option fight next year if Biden wins the election. Instead, they said, the party will work to tweak its 2010 health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has done little to limit insurance or hospital costs and has failed to ensure universal coverage. To justify the preemptive retreat, Democratic congressional aides told the newspaper that the party’s moderate crop of 2020 Senate challenger candidates could make it harder to pass a public option. That assertion comes even though every single one of those candidates is currently campaigning in support of a public option, according to a TMI review of campaign statements.

The situation echoes the Democratic promises and subsequent surrender on a public option that marked the debate over health care more than a decade ago — only this time around, the health care crisis is an even more acute emergency. While most developed countries have managed to contain COVID-19, the pandemic is spiraling out of control in the United States, and an estimated 27 million people have lost their employer-based health insurance plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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And also recorded before Trump lost his brother?! Or wouldn’t she have cared? She did remember last night that she said it, right? Class? Grace? Where? We go low?

.. by contrast, “Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair …

Michelle Obama Speech Recorded Before Joe Biden Selected Kamala Harris (NYP)

There was one glaring omission from Michelle Obama’s 20-minute Democratic National Convention speech Monday night — Kamala Harris. That’s because the former first lady recorded her rousing speech before Joe Biden selected Sen. Harris of California as his running mate. The speech was delivered remotely like all others at the DNC because of the coronavirus pandemic, and The Associated Press reports it was filmed before Harris was named last week as Biden’s VP candidate, indicating the choice was so close to the vest and down to the wire that even the Obamas were not in the loop. In her speech, Michelle Obama eloquently praised Biden and emotionally denounced Trump’s policies.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us,” she said. “It is what it is,” Obama added, quoting Trump’s recent remark on coronavirus deaths. “Right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another,” Obama said. “They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protesters for a photo-op.”

She said that by contrast, “Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own. His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.”

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The issue is not nearly as simple as some people would let you believe.

Trump vs. Dems On Mail-in Voting (Chaffetz)

With less than three months until the 2020 election and no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, a new debate over mail-in voting has begun. Swirling and sudden concerns about the United States Postal Service (USPS) have arisen from Democrats who are wildly accusing President Trump of cheating and manipulating the Postal Service in his favor. Conveniently they forget to mention the president is more than an arms-length away from how we vote, and the Postal Service is not under the thumb of his control. Senate Democrats joined Republicans to unanimously install postal leadership — of which, one is an Obama appointee.

No doubt President Trump has expressed deep concerns about the validity of the ballots, and rightfully so. Sending out millions of ballots without authenticating the inbound ballots is ripe for massive fraud. Democrats have desperately been seeking to legalize “ballot harvesting” (the collection and submission of ballots by someone other than the voter and without authentication) and other nefarious activities. It must be noted elections in the United States are administered by counties and certified by states. In other words, per the United States Constitution, elections are run locally and not by the executive branch of the federal government. The president has simply sought fair elections.

Ironically, it is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1 that seeks to federalize elections and give the president power he doesn’t currently have now. Her solution would create the problem she inaccurately blames Trump for today. [..] The president of the United States does not control the operations of the Postal Service nor does he select or appoint the Postmaster General. The Board of Governors does both of these things. The Postal Regulatory Commission sets rates, service levels and decides on postal closings, not the president. The governors are appointed by a president and confirmed by the United States Senate. No more than five of the nine governors may be from the same political party.

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Clickbait fodder.

Trump Teases Upcoming Pardon For ‘Very Important’ Person (RT)

US President Donald Trump said he would soon hand out a pardon to a “very important” person. While the details were left shrouded in mystery, he ruled out both his former advisor Michael Flynn and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Doing a pardon tomorrow on someone who is very, very important,” Trump told reporters on board Air Force One on Monday, offering little elaboration other than to say it would not be Flynn – his first National Security Advisor – nor the famed whistleblower. Despite repeatedly calling Snowden a “traitor” over the years, Trump has hinted at giving the whistleblower a reprieve on more than one occasion in the last week, saying he may have been treated “unfairly” and that he would “look at” allowing him to return home.


With the president explicitly ruling him out for Tuesday’s pardon, however, it appears Snowden will have to remain in Moscow for some time longer, where he was given asylum after leaking a massive cache of purloined documents from the National Security Agency in 2013, revealing Washington’s sweeping domestic and global spying apparatus.

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They’re starting a new competition.

China’s Anti-Trump Election Meddling Raises New Alarm (Fox)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox News that China poses “a greater national security threat” to the United States “than any other nation,” detailing a web of threats that includes “election influence and interference.” Intelligence officials say they are increasingly concerned about interference in the U.S. election by China, adding to existing concerns about meddling by Russia that have been around since 2016, as well as the threat of meddling from Iran. “China poses a greater national security threat to the U.S. than any other nation – economically, militarily and technologically. That includes threats of election influence and interference,” Ratcliffe told Fox News in a statement.

While Russia was widely seen as favoring now-President Trump and generally seeking to sow chaos in America during the 2016 election, the difference with China is it is seen to be seeking a Trump loss in November. Yet congressional Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who ever since 2016 have issued dire warnings about Russian meddling, have not been quite so vocal about China’s potential to interfere in the 2020 election. Pelosi, D-Calif., last week said the threats of interference from Russia and China are “not equivalent,” while urging the intelligence community to put out more information about Russian efforts, saying Moscow is “actively 24/7 interfering in our election.”

Ratcliffe said the threat from China is actually significant, and he is “committing the IC resources needed to fully understand the threat posed by China and provide U.S. policymakers with the best intelligence to counter China’s broad and deep malign activities.” “China is concerned that President Trump’s reelection would lead to a continuation of policies that they perceive to be ‘anti-China,’” Ratcliffe explained, noting that the intelligence community has briefed “hundreds of members of Congress” to raise their concerns about China “and its increased efforts to impact the U.S. policy climate in its favor.” “Fair and free elections are a bedrock of American democracy, and the IC remains vigilant against the various activities by China, as well as other threat countries and actors, which seek to affect our electoral process,” Ratcliffe said.

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Great fundraiser, they said.

Kamala Harris Reportedly Owes $1M In Bills From Failed Presidential Run (NYP)

Kamala Harris, named Tuesday to be Joe Biden’s running mate, still has more than $1 million in unpaid bills left over from her failed 2020 presidential bid, according to a report. The California senator raised about $39 million for her White House bid in 2019 and spent about $40 million, leaving her campaign with just $116,380 in the bank at the end of June, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing Federal Election Commission filings. Harris ended her campaign last December amid falling poll numbers and a lack of fundraising.


International law firm Perkins Coie LLP was still owed $523,883 at the end of June, while TorchStone Global LLC, a corporate and private security company, was owed $160,702, the report said. California political consulting firm SCRB Strategies had $92,4087 in outstanding invoices. Donors have contributed slightly more than $48,000 to her campaign this year. The report noted that the campaign can’t be shuttered until all debts are paid under federal law. And while Biden raised $26 million in a day after announcing her selection, his campaign can do little to retire Harris’ campaign debt. It can donate $2,000 and the Democratic National Committee can contribute $5,000. But Biden can ask his donors to send funds to Harris’ campaign.

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Feel free to call this a failed society.

Twelve US Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion (Ineq.org)

For the first time in US history, the top twelve U.S. billionaires surpassed a combined wealth of $1 trillion. On Thursday August 13th, these 12 had a combined $1.015 trillion. This is a disturbing milestone in the US history of concentrated wealth and power. This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people. From the point of view of a democratic self-governing society, this represents an Oligarchic Twelve or a Despotic Dozen. The Oligarchic Dozen are Jeff Bezos ($189.4b), Bill Gates ($114b), Mark Zuckerberg ($95.5b), Warren Buffett ($80b), Elon Musk ($73b), Steve Ballmer ($71b), Larry Ellison ($70.9b), Larry Page ($67.4b), Sergey Brin ($65.6b), Alice Walton ($62.5b), Jim Walton ($62.3b) and Rob Walton ($62b).

Since March 18th, the beginning of the pandemic, this Oligarchic Dozen have seen their combined wealth increase $283 billion, an increase of almost 40 percent. Elon Musk has been the biggest pandemic profiteer, seeing his wealth triple from $24.6 billion on March 18th to $73 billion on August 13, an increase of $48.5 billion or 197 percent. Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos was worth $189.4 billion on August 13, up $76 billion or 68 percent since March 18th. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was worth $95.5 billion on August 13, up $40.8 billion or 75 percent since March 18th.

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The Sacklers took out many billions, then declared bankruptcy. Now they’re “willing” to contribute more to a settlement than the entire company is worth. Sick.

US States Seek $2.2 Trillion From OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma (R.)

U.S. states claimed they are owed $2.2 trillion to address harm from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP’s alleged role in America’s opioid epidemic, accusing the drugmaker in new filings of pushing prescription painkillers on doctors and patients while playing down the risks of abuse and overdose. In filings made as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings that were disclosed on Monday, the states said Purdue, backed by the wealthy Sackler family, contributed to a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of roughly 450,000 people since 1999 and caused strains on healthcare and criminal justice systems. The filings cited more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. tied directly to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2016.

In large states such as California and New York, claims alone totaled more than $192 billion and $165 billion, respectively. Forty-nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and various territories are making the claims. Oklahoma settled litigation with Purdue last year. Purdue filed for bankruptcy in 2019 under pressure from more than 2,600 lawsuits brought by cities, counties, states, Native American tribes, hospitals and others. The lawsuits said the company, and in some cases the Sacklers, used deceptive marketing and took other improper steps to flood communities with prescription opioids. The company and family have denied the allegations and pledged to help combat the opioid epidemic, including by providing addiction treatment drugs and overdose reversal medications under development.

[..] Purdue is only worth a bit more than $2 billion if liquidated. The company values a proposal to settle litigation, which includes providing addiction treatment and overdose-reversing drugs, at more than $10 billion. The Sacklers would contribute $3 billion and cede control of Purdue, with the company becoming a trust run on behalf of plaintiffs.

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These well-meaning people are mightily confused about growth:

“In the absence of new forms of liquidity support and major debt relief, the world economy cannot possibly return to pre-pandemic levels of growth..”

I think that means to want to return there.

“..the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy represents an opportunity for a big investment push in zero-carbon energy infrastructure, which itself would help to redress energy poverty and unsustainable growth.”

More growth? Isn’t growth itself the problem then? Never mind, anyone who talks about sustainable growth is not a serious person in my book.

The Need for Debt-for-Climate Swaps (PS)

In the absence of new forms of liquidity support and major debt relief, the world economy cannot possibly return to pre-pandemic levels of growth without risking severe climate distress and social unrest.Climate scientists tell us that in order to meet the targets outlined in the Paris climate accord, global net carbon-dioxide emissions must fall by about 45% by 2030, and by 100% by 2050. Given that the effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, countries urgently need to scale up their investments in climate adaptation and mitigation. But that will not be possible if governments are bogged down in a debt crisis. If anything, debt-service requirements will push countries to pursue export revenues at any cost, including by cutting corners on climate-resilient infrastructure and stepping up their own fossil-fuel use and extraction of resources.

This course of events would further depress commodity prices, creating a doom loop for producer countries. In light of these concerns, the G20 has called on the IMF “to explore additional tools that could serve its members’ needs as the crisis evolves, drawing on relevant experiences from previous crises.” One such tool that should be considered is a “debt-for-climate swap” facility. In the 1980s and 1990s, developing countries and their creditors engaged in “debt-for-nature swaps,” whereby debt relief was linked to investments in reforestation, biodiversity, and protections for indigenous people. This concept should now be expanded to include people-centered investments that address both climate change and inequality.

Developing countries will need additional resources if they are to have any chance of leaving fossil fuels in the ground, investing sufficiently in climate adaptation, and creating opportunities for twenty-first-century jobs. One source for such resources is debt relief conditioned on such investments. A policy tool of this type would not only put us on the path to recovery, but also could help to prevent future debt-sustainability problems that might emerge as more fossil-fuel holdings and non-resilient infrastructure become “stranded assets.” Moreover, the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy represents an opportunity for a big investment push in zero-carbon energy infrastructure, which itself would help to redress energy poverty and unsustainable growth.

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I should read Stephanie Kelton’s book, right?!

The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory (Steve Keen)

One Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Operations

I confess immediately that I chose the title and subtitle for this post because their acronyms are palindromes. The subtitle is more accurate than the title, because this model considers only the monetary aspects of MMT: the Job Guarantee and inflation management components are not yet incorporated. But the monetary assertions of MMT remain in dispute in economic and political circles, so it is worth putting these into a mathematical model where their veracity can be tested. The primary stimulus for developing the model was the publication of Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth. Stephanie has written the book for non-technical readers, and she’s done a very good job: it’s a very easy read that explains why many conventional wisdoms about government spending are wrong.

But MMT is facing heavy resistance in political and economic circles, with my favourite to date being a motion before the US Congress, posted by Representative Kevin Hern, to resolve: “That the House of Representatives (1) realizes that deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous; and (2) recognizes— (A) that the implementation of Modern Monetary Theory would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation; and (B) the duty of the House of Representatives to condemn Modern Monetary Theory.”

The objective of this series of posts is to allow the assessment of the first part of this motion—the assertion that “deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous”. The models in this post are built in the Open Source system dynamics program Minsky, whose unique feature is the capacity to build models of financial flows using what are called Godley Tables (in honour of Wynne Godley, the pioneer of stock-flow-consistent-modelling). These tables enforce the “law of accounting” that (see Figure 1, A blank Godley Table).

Once an account is flagged as an “Asset” for one entity, Minsky knows that it has to also be shown as a “Liability” for another entity. This makes it possible to take an integrated look at the financial system, which allows us to assess Hern’s motion from the perspective of the entire monetary system, and not just the Government’s view of it.

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50 years later: ‘They broke up because Yoko sat on an amp!’

And in the End (Rolling Stone)

It’s a miserable Monday morning in January 1969, and the Beatles are trying to get back to where they once belonged. The Get Back project sounded like a perfect idea: just the four lads and their instruments, ready to hit the studio, return to their roots, conjure up some great songs out of thin air. Just like they used to. John, Paul, George, and Ringo have booked a TV concert special for January 18th — their first live show in years. They’ll rehearse for a couple of weeks, eyeball to eyeball, summon up genius on the spur of the moment. They’ve done it many times before. They’ve never not done it. The good news: Paul showed up today, and so did Ringo. So did the camera crew — these sessions are being filmed, so the Beatles can show a half-hour clip of rehearsal footage before their TV performance.

So here they are on Monday morning, ready to dazzle the world with a blast of spontaneous Beatles brilliance. Or at least Paul and Ringo are. Hey, has anyone heard from John and Yoko? Or George? With George, there’s a slight complication: He quit the band. On Friday, with the cameras rolling, he was trying to teach them a new song, “All Things Must Pass.” John, strung out on his new heroin habit, sneered at George with open contempt. George finally stormed out, muttering, “See you around the clubs.” John doesn’t take this seriously. “I think if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday, we ask Eric Clapton to play in it,” he says. “The point is, if George leaves, do we want to carry on the Beatles? I do. We should just get other members and carry on.” But now it’s Monday and still no George. No John and Yoko. (No Clapton, for that matter.) Paul and Ringo kill time jamming on a current radio hit, “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

But everyone gathers to discuss the crisis, complaining bitterly about Yoko’s constant presence. Surprisingly, the one who sticks up for her is Paul. He’s a sucker for a love story — he’s Paul McCartney, for God’s sake. But he also knows how much this romance means to his oldest, closest mate, his most troubled and cruel and impossible friend. “It’s not that bad,” he insists. “They want to stay together, those two. So it’s all right. Let the young lovers be together.” Paul has to chuckle, thinking about how future generations will look back at this — the Beatles, the greatest of all rock & roll bands, the world’s most legendary creative team, falling apart over such a trivial spat. Even on a winter morning as gloomy as this one, Paul breaks into a laugh. “It’s gonna be such an incredible sort of comical thing, like in 50 years’ time, you know. ‘They broke up because Yoko sat on an amp!'”

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Dobbs/Nunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 162020
 


Michael Andrews Lights VII: A Shadow 1974

 

Clinesmith Was Working For Mueller When He Forged That Email (RS)
Democrats Still Denounce This ‘Investigation Of Investigators’ (Turley)
FBI Misled Congress on Reliability of Steele Dossier (SAC)
CIA Behind Guccifer & Russiagate – Binney (SCF)
Biden Campaign Not Putting Any Surrogates On Sunday Shows Pre-Convention (Fox)
Finance Execs Cheer Selection of Kamala Harris as Dem VP (LI)
Hillary Clinton ‘Ready To Help’ In Biden Administration If Asked (NYP)
Biden Accuser Tara Reade Slams Dems For Bill Clinton Convention Speech (NYP)
Info On Wikileaks, “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules (MPN)
PBOC: China’s Yuan Continues To Grow As An International Currency (SCMP)

 

 

US politics has definitely become the new main topic, replacing COVID. The big picture as we now get it from Durham and various declassified docs is that the biggest scandal in America over the past 4-5 years was not alleged Russian support for Trump that allegedly skewed the 2016 election.

Instead, it is that all of that story, not just some or most of it, but all of it, was fabricated from whole cloth by Trump’s opponents in intelligence, media and the Democratic party. With all of Trump’s all too obvious flaws, they elected to go with a fantasy story. It will all make the coming (or ongoing) election season a hot stew of boiling over spices.

Meanwhile, Biden’s people refuse to let anyone go on the habitual Sunday talk shows, Joe remains in the basement, Kamala will be kept far apart from any journalist who might ask an actual question, and Hillary’s ready to “help”.

Which means that if Biden is withdrawn at some point, as seems likely, the US could be governed by two women so unpopular in their own party they both lost seemingly easy votes. Nobody on that side of the divide appears to care. But in the end it’s not the corporate sponsors or the party bigwigs who do the voting, it’s the people; they just hope they’ve spread enough hatred of Trump to get the votes.

 

 

The usual weekend stumble along numbers. US deaths down to 1,071, good enough to ditch the graph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Durham

 

 

It’s in the little details…

Clinesmith Was Working For Mueller When He Forged That Email (RS)

One important fact getting overlooked in all the discussion of whether FBI Attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea represents the sacrifice of a minor criminal so the ringleaders can escape justice or the beginning of the end for those who were running the show is exactly whose show Clinesmith was a part of when the crime he’s admitted committing occurred. You see, Clinesmith wasn’t working for James Comey on June 19, 2017, the date he altered that CIA email inconveniently identifying Trump’s onetime foreign policy advisor Carter Page as a trusted source. By that point in time, Clinesmith was part of Robert Mueller’s Independent Counsel investigation. And it was Mueller’s crew who made use of the renewed FISA warrant to spy on Page that Clinesmith’s willingness to commit forgery had enabled.

On the recommendation of acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, Trump had fired Comey on May 9, 2017. As a consequence, Comey’s second-in-command, Andrew McCabe automatically took over as acting FBI Director till June 7, when Trump appointed Christopher Wray. (Wray was interim director until his Senate confirmation on July 20.) McCabe was in charge for less than a month. But within just 8 days he’d started a second investigation of Trump in addition to the still ongoing Crossfire Hurricane probe of his campaign’s ties to Russia. Despite Trump’s having fired Comey at Rosenstein’s urging and the president’s authority to terminate the director of the FBI for any reason he pleases, McCabe wasted no time in using his boss’s dismissal as a pretext to investigate Trump for obstructing Crossfire Hurricane.

Given the enormity of his new responsibilities after suddenly becoming the head of the FBI and how quickly McCabe rushed to add a second investigation of the President of the United States to them, you’d almost think he must have been planning it before Comey was even fired. Interestingly, McCabe had also helped tip over the very first domino that ultimately led to Robert Mueller’s appointment as independent counsel. Though it hasn’t received nearly enough attention, he played a substantial role in ginning up the phony controversy over whether Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.

Sessions takes a lot of heat for enabling the Mueller probe by recusing himself. But though there’s no question he made a disastrous error, most people aren’t aware of the stuff going on in the background that almost seems like it could have been designed to make Sessions step aside and put Rosenstein in control. A few months before starting that second investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by taking Rosenstein’s advice, Andrew “Itchy Finger” McCabe had triggered another criminal investigation of Sessions for lying about his contacts with Kislyak at the request of Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken. The fuss quickly died down and Mueller closed the investigation in January 2018. But the ginned-up controversy did force Sessions to recuse himself; which put Rosenstein in a position to urge Trump to fire Comey; which then put McCabe in the position to start a second investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice for taking Rosenstein’s advice.

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Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Democrats Still Denounce This ‘Investigation Of Investigators’ (Turley)

“Gosh almighty.” Those words from former Vice President Joe Biden sum up plenty about the announced criminal plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Of course, Biden was not referring to the implications of the FBI lawyer who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for the efforts to continue the surveillance of an adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump. Nor was he referring to growing evidence that the Russia investigation was launched based on false and flawed evidence. Biden was referring to the federal investigation by United States Attorney John Durham that led to the criminal plea by Clinesmith. Like most other Democrats, Biden previously denounced the investigation and the effort to look into criminality. Now that criminality has been found, Democrats and commentators still insist there are no reasons to continue it.

From the start, Democrats overwhelmingly condemned the investigation despite admitting Durham is a respected prosecutor. Leaders like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff deemed the investigation “tainted” and “political.” Biden mocked the very idea of an “investigation of the investigators” and added, “Give me a break. Gosh almighty.” These are the same figures who repeatedly cited plea agreements in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller as proof that real crimes were waiting to be found. When the plea by former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was announced, it was cited as the critical development even though FBI agents said they did not believe Flynn had intentionally lied about his conversations with Russian diplomats.

Many in the media cited the plea by Flynn to disprove the insistence by Trump that the Mueller investigation was a hoax. But they are not citing the plea by Clinesmith to disprove the statement by Biden. Indeed, they have barely covered it. It does not appear to matter that Clinesmith said “viva la resistance” after the 2016 election or that, after claiming he was devastated by the victory of Trump, he lamented that “my god damned name was all over those legal documents investigating his staff.” But several Democrats and commentators maintained there was never a targeting of the campaign before the special counsel appointment. That was untrue. Declassified documents show that an agent was used with a national security briefing of Trump and his aides during the campaign to gather information for the Russia investigation.

Who did the agent report to? Clinesmith and Peter Strzok at the FBI, who infamously referred to his own “insurance” with the chance that Trump might be elected.

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The courts AND Congress.

FBI Misled Congress on Reliability of Steele Dossier (SAC)

Documents recently released by the Senate Intelligence Committee indicate that there were strong doubts about the reliability of the Steele Dossier as early as December 2016. As the FBI and CIA worked together to create an Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) to present to President Barack Obama, those in the CIA camp, according to the now-declassified interviews conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, worried that the FBI was playing up the Steele Dossier too much. Sen. Lindsey Graham released a statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee website in which he addressed the newly declassified documents: “This document clearly shows that the FBI was continuing to mislead regarding the reliability of the Steele dossier. The FBI did to the Senate Intelligence Committee what the Department of Justice and FBI had previously done to the FISA Court: mischaracterize, mislead and lie.


The characterizations regarding the dossier were completely out of touch with reality in terms of what the Russian sub-source actually said to the FBI. “What does this mean? That Congress, as well as the FISA Court, was lied to about the reliability of the Russian sub-source. I will be asking FBI Director Wray to provide me all the details possible about how the briefing was arranged and who provided it. “Inspector General Horowitz’s team found this briefing document. Inspector General Horowitz and his team deserve great credit for uncovering systematic fraud at the Department of Justice surrounding the Carter Page FISA warrant. I’m also very appreciative of the Department of Justice’s release of the FBI document used to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

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We’ve known this for a long time. But nobody wants to report on it.

CIA Behind Guccifer & Russiagate – Binney (SCF)

William Binney and other independent former U.S. intelligence experts say they can prove the Russiagate narrative is bogus. The proof relies on their forensic analysis of the data released by Guccifer. The analysis of timestamps demonstrates that the download of voluminous data could not have been physically possible based on known standard internet speeds. These independent experts conclude that the data from the Democrat party could not have been hacked, as Guccifer and Russiagaters claim. It could only have been obtained by a leak from inside the party, perhaps by a disgruntled staffer who downloaded the information on to a disc. That is the only feasible way such a huge amount of data could have been released. That means the “Russian hacker” claims are baseless.

Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange is currently imprisoned in Britain pending an extradition trial to the U.S. to face espionage charges, has consistently maintained that their source of files was not a hacker, nor did they collude with Russian intelligence. As a matter of principle, Wikileaks does not disclose the identity of its sources, but the organization has indicated it was an insider leak which provided the information on senior Democrat party corruption. William Binney says forensic analysis of the files released by Guccifer shows that the mystery hacker deliberately inserted digital “fingerprints” in order to give the impression that the files came from Russian sources.

It is known from information later disclosed by former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the CIA has a secretive program – Vault 7 – which is dedicated to false incrimination of cyber attacks to other actors. It seems that the purpose of Guccifer was to create the perception of a connection between Wikileaks and Russian intelligence in order to beef up the Russiagate narrative. “So that suggested [to] us all the evidence was pointing back to CIA as the originator [of] Guccifer 2.0. And that Guccifer 2.0 was inside CIA… I’m pointing to that group as the group that was probably the originator of Guccifer 2.0 and also this fabrication of the entire story of Russiagate,” concludes Binney in his interview with Sputnik news outlet.

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“I don’t understand what’s going on here. This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen that you would you know, you’re basically giving a campaign…”

Biden Campaign Not Putting Any Surrogates On Sunday Shows Pre-Convention (Fox)

Chris Wallace – Host of Fox News Sunday & Author of “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days that Changed the World ” spoke with Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson about the upcoming DNC convention. Wallace spoke to why the Biden campaign isn’t putting any campaign surrogates on any of the Sunday shows the weekend before the DNC convention. Saying,

“So I’ve been doing Sunday shows with conventions. I started on Meet the Press in 1988. I’ve been doing it on and off. For what? What is that? Thirty two years. And and it always happens that the Sunday before the convention. The campaign puts out top officials to preview the convention and to say this is what we’re gonna try to get accomplished. So, you know, we put counting all week on, you know, having a top official from the Biden campaign, the campaign manager, the top pollster, the chief strategist, to talk about what they’re going to talk about during this next week. They are not putting anybody out. And at first I thought, well, maybe it’s because it’s Fox News and they’re boycotting us. No, they’re not putting anybody out on any of the Sunday shows point.

I don’t understand what’s going on here. This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen that you would you know, you’re basically giving a campaign. And as I say, it’s a traditional thing. We’re gonna do it for the Republicans a week from Sunday. What are you trying to accomplish this week? And they the Biden campaign isn’t putting anybody out. And this just is of a piece with the the vice president not not doing really any serious interviews, not answering any questions since the rollout. I don’t you know, you can you can try and I understand and has worked pretty well. And he continues to lead with what I’ll call the basement strategy. I don’t think you can hide from now until Election Day. I just I just don’t think it’s possible.”

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This should cause many on the left to not vote for her and Joe. “She’s a great fundraiser”…

Finance Execs Cheer Selection of Kamala Harris as Dem VP (LI)

With the prospect of longtime bank critic and progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren being chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate now officially dead, Wall Street executives are openly applauding the presumptive Democratic nominee’s selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as a signal that the top of the party’s ticket in November will be sufficiently “moderate” for their liking. Charles Myers, the founder of financial advisory firm Signum, told CNBC after Biden announced the California Democrat as his vice presidential pick that his “clients really wanted to know if Biden was going to stay in the center, and his pick of Harris reinforces that.” “While certain to generate excitement and to invite additional scrutiny of Harris’ record, we see this choice as a net positive for the Biden ticket,” Myers wrote in a note to clients late Tuesday.

“Harris, who generally could be called a centrist, will not push Biden to the left or the right on major policy issues. She will be supportive of Biden and the Democratic Party’s policy platform.” Other Wall Street executives echoed Myers’ assessment in interviews with CNBC, pointing to Harris’ experience as a senator and California Attorney General as well as her fundraising abilities. “I think it’s great,” said Marc Lasry, the CEO of investment firm Avenue Capital Group. “She’s going to help Joe immensely. He picked the perfect partner.” Ray McGuire of Citigroup and Blair Effron of investment firm Centerview Partners also hailed Biden’s choice of Harris as “great.” “She has a strong and active fundraising organization,” said Mike Kempner, founder of corporate public relations firm MWWPR.

“She will be an important and immediate addition to the Biden fundraising effort. She is a fundraising star. Her experience as a prosecutor makes her uniquely qualified to deliver the case against Trump.” Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate comes months after Wall Street executives and other corporate donors warned the former vice president against picking Warren, a frequent and fierce critic of big banks and advocate for the interests of consumers. “She would be horrible,” one anonymous Wall Street executive and Democratic donor told CNBC in April. A longtime Biden fundraiser said “a lot of the donor base, on board and coming, would prefer almost anyone but Elizabeth.”= Veteran progressive organizer and radio host Jim Hightower suggested nothing about the choice of Harris should be surprising, but said the selection only makes more clear the road ahead for those wanting much bolder social change:

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A country ruled by two highly unpopular women among their own party, Kamala and Hillary. Why do it?

Hillary Clinton ‘Ready To Help’ In Biden Administration If Asked (NYP)

Hillary Clinton could be headed back to D.C. The former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said she is “ready to help in any way I can” when asked if she would take a job in a Biden administration. “I’m ready to help in any way I can,” Clinton said at the 19th Represents Summit on Thursday. “Because I think this will be a moment where every American — I don’t care what party you are, I don’t care what age, race, gender, I don’t care — every American should want to fix our country … So if you’re asked to serve, you should certainly consider that.” Clinton previously served as Secretary of State under the Obama administration alongside Joe Biden, whom she formally endorsed for president in late April.


Clinton also spoke at the summit, which references the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, in defense of voting by mail for the November election. She criticized President Trump for implementing what she called a “hostile takeover” of the US Postal Service. Clinton added she fears Trump will use the mail service as part of a bid to cast doubt on election results should he lose. “I have every reason to believe that Trump is not going to go silently into the night if he loses,” Clinton said. “He’s going to try to confuse us. He’s going to try to bring all kinds of lawsuits.”

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The Dems live in their own little world.

Biden Accuser Tara Reade Slams Dems For Bill Clinton Convention Speech (NYP)

Why him? That’s what Tara Reade is demanding to know after learning Bill Clinton snagged a prime speaker’s slot at this week’s Democratic National Convention, calling the move “unconscionable.” Reade, who made headlines this year when she accused Joe Biden of shoving her against a wall and forcibly penetrating her with his fingers at a Capitol Hill office building in 1993, slammed party bigwigs for bringing in Bubba. “The Democratic National Committee has made it clear to survivors that they enable and they uphold institutionalized rape culture by allowing Bill Clinton to be a main speaker,” Reade told The Post. She added: “He has a history of sexual misconduct.”

So she wondered why DNC brass would put him on the big stage. “It is unconscionable that Bill Clinton is a main speaker, and this is coming from someone who voted for him. This is coming from a multi-generational Democrat.” Reade said she believes Clinton is a sexual predator. “This is based on talking to two of the survivors and also the court documents that have now been released because of Ghislaine Maxwell.” Clinton infamously palled around with Maxwell’s boss, Jeffrey Epstein. Giving Clinton a forum at the convention will set a “dangerous precedent,” Reade said. “They are holding up the MeToo movement as a shield for the sexual predators they are allowing in the Democratic establishment.”

She added: “I feel that hypocrisy, like sexual assault and sexual harassment, is an equal opportunity offender and it’s a nonpartisan issue. So I think the hypocrisy of the Democratic party is on full display by their speaker line-up for the Democratic national convention.” Biden has repeatedly said women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault should be believed, but he’s vehemently denied Reade’s accusation and said he doesn’t remember her working for him. The fallout from the scandal has left Reade “destitute,” she said. “After I came forward about Joe Biden, I lost everything, my work, my housing everything,” Reade said. “The weaponization of fear and shame to silence survivors has to stop.”

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“Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.”

“The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.”

Info On Wikileaks, “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules (MPN)

Social media giant YouTube announced yesterday a host of new measures it says are aimed at preventing any interference in the upcoming presidential elections. Chief among the list it wrote on its blog, is “removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.” An example it gives, would be deleting “videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate.” It also promised to “raise up authoritative voices” when it comes to current events and politics by changing its algorithm to show users more credible channels and “reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline content.” Example channels that produce authoritative content, it tells readers, includes Fox News and CNN. It also noted it would expand information panels underneath videos.

There are a number of reasons this new policy could concern users of its platform. Firstly, the great majority of leaked information — the lifeblood of investigative journalism — is anonymous. Often, like in the cases of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner, whistleblowers face serious consequences if their names become attached to documents exposing government or corporate malfeasance. But without a name to go with a document, the difference between leaked data and hacked data is impossible to define. Thus, powerful people and organizations could claim data was hacked, rather than leaked, and simply block all discussion of the matter on the platform. Hearing the news, some feared already existing content from investigative journalists would be subject to removal under the new guidelines.

YouTube’s choice of Fox News and CNN as reliable sources might also raise eyebrows in some quarters. According to the latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report, fewer than half of all Americans trust the two networks (Fox at 42 percent and CNN at 47 percent). And a new study from Gallup/Knight Foundation finds that fewer than a third of the country has a favorable view of the media more generally, including only 19 percent of those under thirty (YouTube’s prime demographic). Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.

The 2016 presidential election was colored by Wikileaks’ release of the Podesta emails, discussion of which would be banned under YouTube’s new rules. The Hillary Clinton campaign alleges the emails were hacked from Podesta’s computer. The published communications, the authenticity of which is not in doubt, informed the country of the machinations of the Democratic Party, how it tipped the electoral scales in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders in the primary, how Clinton stated to Wall Street that she had a “public” and a “private” position on regulation, insinuating she was lying to the nation, how representatives of Qatar wanted to meet with her husband Bill for “five minutes” to present him with a $1 million check for his birthday, and how her own staff held her in contempt. The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.

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Dream on.

PBOC: China’s Yuan Continues To Grow As An International Currency (SCMP)

China’s central bank said it expects more countries to accept the yuan for cross-border payments and settlements amid growing concerns about the country’s high exposure to the US dollar. In its annual report on the internationalisation of the yuan, which was released on Friday, the People’s Bank of China estimated “rapid and robust growth” this year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Such expansion would help to consolidate the growth momentum seen since the yuan was added to the IMF’s currency basket in 2015. “We expect more market participants will accept yuan as settlement and payment currency,” it said.

China is heavily exposed to the US-led Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS) and the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which means it is vulnerable to US sanctions, such as those imposed on Iran and Russia. A total of 11 officials from mainland China and Hong Kong were put on a US sanctions list last week, as the rivalry between the world’s two largest economies continues to escalate. China’s state-owned banks with overseas operations could be the next targets if they are found to have business links to the sanctioned officials. The central bank report indicated rapid growth in the internationalisation of the yuan in recent years.

The total value of cross-border yuan payments and receipts by banks on behalf of clients rose 24.1 per cent year on year in 2019 to 19.67 trillion yuan (US$2.83 trillion). The value of global reserves of the yuan rose 1.95 per cent in the year to become the world’s fifth largest, while its share of the foreign exchange trading market was 4.3 per cent. The report also cited a survey conducted by Bank of China that said 69 per cent of the 3,300 foreign industrial and commercial companies polled planned to use or increase their use of the yuan. The yuan internationalisation index, released by Renmin University of China last month, rose 13 per cent last year to 3.03 and is forecast to rise to 5 in the first half of this year. But the currency still trails the US dollar at 50.85 and euro at 26.28.

The central bank said it would continue to remove barriers to cross-border use of the yuan, open up financial markets wider to foreign investors and promote the development of offshore yuan markets. The report highlighted countries involved in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, domestic free-trade zones and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area as having the most potential for growth. It also forecast the rapid expansion of China’s Cross-border Interbank Payment System, which was launched in 2015 and is now used in nearly 100 countries. In 2019, it handled 1.9 million cross-border yuan transactions – an increase of 31 per cent from 2018 – while the total amount involved rose 28 per cent to 33.9 trillion yuan.

Read more …

 

 

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Kennedy

 

 

 

 

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Aug 152020
 


Henri Cartier Bresson Boucher, Les Halles de Paris 1952

 

Former FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham’s Trump-Russia Probe (ZH)
In Bringing First Russiagate Charge, Durham Hints At Other Crimes (JTN)
Bill Gates Says Hydroxychloroquine Has ‘Severe Side Effects’ (JTN)
Joe Biden Calls For Nationwide Facemask Mandate (KABC)
The President Was Not Encouraging: What Obama Really Thought About Biden (Pol.)
Appeals Court Spares Hillary Clinton From Deposition In Email Scandal (JTN)
Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible For Vice President (Turley)
UPS, FedEx Reject Calls To Handle Mail-In Ballots: Significant Problems (Hill)
California Judge Sides With Church, Allows Indoor Services (WT)
Warren Buffett Sheds Big Stakes In Banks And Goes For The Gold (Fox)
Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Think Edward Snowden ‘Not Being Treated Fairly’ (NYP)
Chaos In Assange Case Management Hearing (DEAssange)

 

 

As for US politics, I already wrote the core of it for a few articles below.

The “Russia Investigation Investigation”. Yes, it’s come to this.

Briefing for a descent into complete chaos post-Nov 4.

Doris Lessing’s original book title is “Briefing for a Descent into Hell”. Could use that one too. Take your pick.

 

 

Well, there’s one bright spot, perhaps: US new deaths are getting lower. And now it’s weekend again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Russia Investigation Investigation”. Yes, it’s come to this.

The MSM has also picked it up, trying to claim Clinesmith was some kind of lone cowboy.

Former FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham’s Trump-Russia Probe (ZH)

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty to one count of making a false statement regarding his involvement in the agency’s actions against the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election, according to the Associated Press. In November, the New York Times revealed that Clinesmith was under criminal investigation for allegedly doctoring materials used to obtain renewals of the Carter Page surveillance warrant. Clinesmith -who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia probe, was part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and interviewed Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.

Clinesmith, a 37-year-old graduate of Georgetown Law, “took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding,” according to the report. “Mr. Clinesmith included this altered email in a package that he compiled for another F.B.I. official to read in preparation for signing an affidavit that would be submitted to the court attesting to the facts and analysis in the wiretap application. The details of the email are apparently classified and may not be made public even when the report is unveiled.” -New York Times

Clinesmith was identified by Inspector General Michael Horowitz as one of several FBI officials who harbored animus towards President Trump, after which he was kicked off the Mueller Russia investigation in February 2018. Two other FBI officials removed for similar reasons were Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, both of whom also worked on the Clinton and Trump investigations, and both of whom have similarly left the bureau. On November 9, 2016 – the day after Trump won the election, Clinesmith texted another FBI employee “My god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” adding “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do.”

A former attorney with the FBI’s National Security and Cyber Law Branch while working under FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, Clinesmith resigned in September 2019 after he was interviewed by Horrowitz’s office. Horrowitz in turn sent a criminal referral to US Attorney John Durham, who was tasked with investigating the Obama DOJ’s conduct surrounding the 2016 US election. Durham was appointed by Barr last May to examine the FBI’s actions against the Trump campaign during and after the 2016 US election, code named “Crossfire Hurricane.” Specifically, Durham has been probing whether Obama administration officials illegally collected intelligence on the Trump campaign, and whether the agency’s surveillance of campaign aides was free of improper motive.

“They spied on my campaign, which is treason. They spied both before and after I won. Think of that. Using the intelligence apparatus of the United States to take down a president,” Trump said recently during a live phone interview with Fox Business, adding “It’s the single biggest political crime in the history of our country.”

Read more …

They all knew Page was a CIA asset since August 2016 at the latest, but failed to tell the FISA court, because none of the warrants would have been approved. How obvious do we have to make it?

In Bringing First Russiagate Charge, Durham Hints At Other Crimes (JTN)

Spygate, once derided by media and political elites as a fringe conspiracy theory, is now fact thanks to a court filing that confirms an ex-FBI lawyer who disliked President Trump falsified evidence that was used to keep surveillance against Trump associates going. U.S. Attorney John Durham filed the felony charge Friday against Kevin Clinesmith, and the ex-FBI assistant general counsel is expected to plead guilty soon and cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the Russia investigators. That alone is significant, since Clinesmith was witness to other controversial moments in the failed Trump-Russia collusion probe, including an operation to spy on the future president during a counterintelligence briefing in summer 2016.

But within the four-plus page criminal information filed in U.S. District Court, Durham also laid out evidence of an additional crime that could be prosecuted in the coming weeks. The court filing notes that Clinesmith “willfully and knowingly” altered a document in June 2017 to falsely claim that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — one of the main targets of the Russia collusion probe and identified in the court document as “Individual #1” — was not a source for the CIA, identified in the court documents as “Other Government Agency” or “OGA.” In reality, Page was a CIA asset. The filing says Clinesmith’s misdeed caused the FBI to mislead the Justice Department and the FISA court when filing an application for the last of four surveillance warrants that targeted Page for over a year.

But Durham also reveals in the filing that the FBI Crossfire Hurricane team — led by since-fired Agent Peter Strzok — had already been told of Page’s relationship with the CIA all the way back in August 2016 and failed to tell the FISA court that essential information about Page before the three prior FISA warrants were approved. Such a failure is known as a material omission because the FBI was claiming they believed Page was an agent of Russia when in fact he was an asset of the U.S. government helping to inform on Russian intelligence targets. In other words, had the FBI not omitted the truth, the judges would have known before they approved even the first FISA warrant that Page was a CIA-handled source, not a Russian stooge.

Here’s how Durham worded the account: “On Aug 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the OGA (CIA) provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum indicating that Individual #1 (Page) had been approved as an operational contact for the OGA (CIA) from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Individual #1 (Page) had provided to the OGA (CIA) concerning Individual #1’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. The first three FISA applications did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA (CIA).” Several experts said Durham’s inclusion of the earlier notification signals he has concerns others may also have been involved in deceiving the court.

“It’s more than an oversight. Whether the omission was purposeful or not, it is a fraud on the court,” said Kevin Brock, the FBI’s former assistant director for intelligence and the man who created many of the procedures the bureau still uses to investigate intelligence threats. “At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I think it is clear that Durham is positioning a deeper dive into this issue of FISA application abuse,” Brock added. [..] In one instance the day after Trump won, Clinesmith texted this anti-Trump, anti-Mike Pence screed: “The crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid,” he wrote in a text quoted by the inspector general.

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Why would anyone care what he thinks?

Bill Gates Says Hydroxychloroquine Has ‘Severe Side Effects’ (JTN)

Bill Gates this week added more flame to the fire in the ongoing debate over the usage of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, claiming that using the drug to treat the coronavirus carries with it the risk of “severe side effects” and arguing that medical officials should instead pursue the numerous “good therapeutic drugs” currently in development. Yet there is at present little evidence that “severe side effects” are common in COVID-19 patients who take hydroxychloroquine, with the majority of reported adverse events being relatively mild and only a small fraction of reported effects so far being dangerous and/or fatal.

The drug, which has been used for years to treat malaria and other conditions like lupus, has been at the center of a medical and political firestorm since March when President Trump touted the medicine as a possible effective treatment for coronavirus. Numerous medical officials have claimed that it offers no benefit to COVID-19 patients, while others have insisted that it is highly effective when used in certain circumstances, specifically on high-risk patients early in the course of the disease. Asked by Bloomberg magazine about the controversy on Thursday, Gates—who has been at the forefront of funding and advocacy efforts to find both a cure and a vaccine for COVID-19—said that though we live “in age of science … sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.”

“In the test tube, hydroxychloroquine looked good,” he said. “On the other hand, there are lots of good therapeutic drugs coming that are proven to work without the severe side effects.” Numerous studies across the world over the past several months have produced mixed results on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, with some showing marked benefits and others indicating that it does not help patients recover from the disease. Yet regardless of study outcomes, severe adverse health events associated with the drug appear to be comparatively rare. One randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month stated that, while the study’s treatment with hydroxychloroquine “did not prevent illness compatible with Covid-19 or confirmed infection,” there were nevertheless “no serious intervention-related adverse reactions or cardiac arrhythmias” reported by study participants.

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Biden’s handlers know that many Trump supporters are against masks, so they make him call for masks everywhere in order to create conflict.

Joe Biden Calls For Nationwide Facemask Mandate (KABC)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide mask mandate. After getting a briefing from some healthcare professionals in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said all Americans should be wearing facemasks outside their homes for the next three months. He did not give any details on enforcement, legality or science. The former VP stressed – without citing any evidence–that it will save up to 40-thousand lives. Biden said it’s not an issue of personal rights. He insisted that it’s about personal responsibility and patriotic duty. Biden’s new running mate Kamala Harris said — “That’s what real leadership looks like.” They spoke for a total of about 8 minutes and refused to take questions.

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Power games amongst so-called friends. Meanwhile, Hillary apparently said she might “serve” in a Biden cabinet.

The President Was Not Encouraging: What Obama Really Thought About Biden (Pol.)

Biden’s own academic career was unimpressive—he repeated the third grade, earned all Cs and Ds in his first three semesters at the University of Delaware except for As in P.E., a B in “Great English Writers” and an F in ROTC, and graduated 76th in his Syracuse Law School class of ’85. He’s the first Democratic nominee since Walter Mondale in 1984 not to have an Ivy League degree. He was not a binder person, Clinton and Obama aides said. Biden admitted as much in his 2007 memoir Promises to Keep, writing “It’s important to read reports and listen to the experts; more important is being able to read people in power.” Biden’s tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind rankled Obama, who wasn’t afraid to needle him for it.

In his first press conference in 2009, the young president quipped “I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to—not surprisingly,” when asked about Biden’s assessment that there was a 30 percent chance they could get the economic stimulus package wrong. The gaffes were only one side of the story, though. Obama warmed both to Biden’s effusive personality and his skill in implementing the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, which the president had delegated to him. Aides recall that Obama and Biden took almost polar-opposite approaches to policymaking, Obama always seeking data for the most logical or efficient outcome, while Biden told stories about how a bill would affect the working-class guy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born.

[..] Panetta, who had known Clinton from his days as her husband’s White House chief of staff, recalled that “Both she and her staff worked at that a great deal in trying to build that support.” Among Obama and his aides, Panetta said, “I think there was a certain attraction to someone that would certainly break ceilings and kind of create the same kind of precedent that he created when he became president … as opposed to supporting somebody who’s kind of your more traditional politician and, you know, a white Irish Catholic guy.” There was also dismissiveness of Biden in Clinton’s orbit that echoed Obama aides.

“The good thing about a Biden run,” Neera Tanden, Clinton’s close aide who also advised the Obama administration on health policy, wrote to Podesta in 2015, in an email later exposed by WikiLeaks, “is that he would make Hillary look so much better.” Obama tried to remain above the fray, even as his closest staffers largely rallied around Clinton—which they likely would not have done if there was a chance he would support Biden. “I knew a number of the president’s former staffers, and even a few current ones, were putting a finger on the scale for Clinton,” Biden wrote. Pressed on whether Obama ever expressed a preference between Clinton and Biden, Jarrett demurred, saying, “that’s a conversation you’ll have to have with him.” Obama declined to be interviewed through his spokesperson.

“President Obama has been unequivocal in his respect for Joe’s wisdom, experience, empathy and integrity,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Even if he did express preference for Clinton, some Obama officials characterized it more as an acknowledgment of her strength than an attempt to undercut Biden. “There was a feeling of inevitability about Hillary Clinton in every aspect,” recalled Psaki. “So it never felt to me like it was Obama choosing Hillary Clinton over Joe Biden. It was a feeling like it’s inevitable after Hillary Clinton left the State Department that she will be the Democratic nominee, and she will become the next president. So Obama … was trying to play a part in being helpful.” Reines said Obama “was always very encouraging” of Clinton and that after serving as president, “he believed there was no one better prepared to do it.”

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The doors shut tight behind Hillary.

Appeals Court Spares Hillary Clinton From Deposition In Email Scandal (JTN)

Four-plus years after the James Comey-led FBI chose not to file charges against Hillary Clinton, despite evidence she transmitted classified information on an insecure email server, a federal appeals court Friday gave the former secretary of state another legal pass in the case. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a writ of mandamus requested by Clinton’s lawyers overturning a judge’s order that she submit to a sworn deposition in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The court ruled that U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth erred in ordering the deposition in the first place.

“Discovery in FOIA cases is not a punishment, and the district court has no basis to order further inquiry into Secretary Clinton’s state of mind,” the appeals court ruled. Judicial Watch had sought to secure the deposition to explore whether Clinton’s use of the private server to transmit government documents was an effort to evade the legal requirements of the FOIA law. The group said Friday afternoon it is reviewing whether to appeal. “We’re disappointed and considering our options,” Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton told Just the News. The court ruling comes four years and one month after Comey announced on July 5, 2016 that he had unilaterally decided not to seek criminal charges against Clinton for transmitting highly classified information on her private email server.

Comey was later fired from his post and an inspector general ruled the FBI director had wrongly “usurped” the Justice Department’s authority to decide whether charges should have been filed. It was that very same day that former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele — working on behalf of Clinton’s opposition research efforts — walked the first piece of information of his now infamous anti-Trump dossier into the FBI office in London.

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“..Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years.”

But being perplexed by them today is racist.

Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible For Vice President (Turley)

Birthright citizenship has been a subject of debate from the time that the 14th Amendment was adopted. There are arguments on both sides of the currently accepted broad interpretation of the language. Many of our closest allies reject the concept of birthright citizenship. However, the case law strongly supports Harris. In 1898, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the court found that the child of Chinese immigrants was still a citizen under the 14th Amendment because he was born on U.S. territory. His parents were here legally as permanent residents. Moreover, the language of the 14th Amendment does not clearly support the exclusions raised by Eastman. It states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

Most reading that language have concluded that it allows for birthright citizenship for anyone “born … in the United States.” The 14th Amendment starts and ends as a model of clarity, stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” are “citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” But between those two phrases, Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years. The dominant view of law professors is the line as a whole guarantees that anyone born within the United States becomes an American citizen. But some believe that the caveat means you must be here in a legal status, that if you are not a American citizen, then you are a legal resident.

I do not believe that there is a credible question of Harris’ eligibility. However, I am concerned with the attacks on Newsweek and the author from a free speech standpoint. This issue has been raised for decades and the Supreme Court cases are few and are not dispositive on all aspects of the question. In prior coverage of candidates like McCain, there was not a demand for newspapers to denounce their own publications. Eastman is a professor who raised a commonly discussed constitutional and political issue. There is no reason to denounce him as a racist or Newsweek as an enabler of racism. Media often publish controversial theories.

There were not demands for retractions when a Harvard professor said Trump was not actually impeached when he was impeached, a North Carolina professor saying the entire Trump defense team would face bar charges, or any number of the controversial theories of criminality against Trump. Instead we simply debated the issues, which actually raised interesting historical or ethical questions. LA Times’ Michael McGough called Newsweek’s explanation “feeble” when it insisted that it was merely sharing a constitutional viewpoint and not attempting “to ignite a racist conspiracy theory around Kamala Harris’ candidacy.” Yet, this “feeble” reason has been the basis for past articles on the debate over the 14th Amendment in major publications for decades.

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Briefing for a descent into complete chaos post-Nov 4.

UPS, FedEx Reject Calls To Handle Mail-In Ballots: Significant Problems (Hill)

As concern mounts that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will not be able to handle an influx of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, many on social media have called for delivery services FedEx and UPS to step up, which the companies have dismissed. In an exclusive interview with Reuters, UPS and FedEx said they legally can’t do the work and warned there would likely be “significant” delays. “State ballots must be postmarked to be considered valid and only the USPS has lawful postmarking status. Therefore UPS, FedEx and other private parties cannot technically be involved in shipping ballots,” UPS told Reuters in a statement.


Meanwhile, FedEx says it does accept individual ballots, but encouraged customers using FedEx to “closely review their state’s guidelines on absentee voting and deadlines for ballots or related election documents.” According to Reuters, various laws prevent private delivery companies from handling mail-in and absentee ballots, and in some states it would be considered ballot harvesting. On top of legal issues, the USPS is equipped to deliver to every mailbox in the U.S. daily, while private delivery companies only deliver when someone has a package or a pickup, and don’t have blanket coverage of more hard-to-reach places, such as rural communities. Many delivery companies are also already struggling with a surge of deliveries brought on by people staying at home during the pandemic and increasingly relying on online shopping.

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How can you open Target to huge crowds but keep churches closed? What is the reasoning?

California Judge Sides With Church, Allows Indoor Services (WT)

A California court rejected Friday efforts by Los Angeles County to require a popular megachurch to comply with pandemic orders, allowing the church to hold indoor services with singing and without attendance limits pending a resolution of the case. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant denied the county’s request for a temporary restraining order against Grace Community Church after the church began holding indoor services July 26 in defiance of state and county rules aimed at combating the novel coronavirus, according to a press release from the Thomas More Society.


Attorney Jenna Ellis called it a “historic win,” tweeting that the court was the first in California “to recognize #churchisessential.” The Thomas More Society, which represented the church, said the judge ruled “it is the County’s burden to show why it should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion, but also expressing safety concerns.” At the same time, the church agreed to comply with mask-wearing and social-distancing rules before the full hearing scheduled for Sept. 4.

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Is he still getting the $600 checks?

Warren Buffett Sheds Big Stakes In Banks And Goes For The Gold (Fox)

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unloaded a more than a quarter of its stake in Wells Fargo & Co. and about 61% of its position in JPMorgan Chase, while acquiring a new position in Barrick Gold Corp., according to 13-F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the period ended Jun 30, that were released Friday afternoon. Berkshire sold 85.6 million shares of Wells Fargo, representing about 26% of its stake and putting its ownership to about 3% from 5.3%. The insurance conglomerate also shed 35.5 million shares of JPMorgan, 61% of its position, which now represents 1% of Berkshire’s overall portfolio from 3% in the prior period.


Meanwhile, the investment firm acquired nearly 21 million shares of Barrick Gold worth $563 million, representing 0.3% of Berkshire’s holding. Berkshire also reduced its holding in PNC Financial Services (PNC), selling 3.85 million shares to cut its position to 0.3% from 0.5%. Berkshire didn’t change its holdings in Apple Inc. where the firm owns 245 million shares. Large investors must disclose long stock positions held at the end of a quarter 45 days later in a 13-F filing with the SEC, which means such filings are merely a snapshot of an investor’s holdings at a given point.

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Opening doors for Assange?

Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Think Edward Snowden ‘Not Being Treated Fairly’ (NYP)

President Trump polled his aides on Thursday about whether he should let anti-surveillance whistleblower and leaker Edward Snowden return to the US from Russia without going to prison, saying he was open to it. “There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told The Post in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office, before soliciting views from his staff. Trump commented on Snowden for the first time as president after accusing former President Barack Obama of spying on his 2016 campaign. “When you look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan — and, excuse me, the man that sat at this desk, President Obama, got caught spying on my campaign with Biden. Biden and Obama, and they got caught spying on the campaign,” Trump said.


Trump’s comments reflect a remarkable softening in his views about the man he once deemed a “traitor” worthy of execution. Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department’s inspector general recently highlighted misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the secret FISA court to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page. “Snowden is one of the people they talk about. They talk about numerous people, but he is certainly one of the people that they do talk about,” Trump said on Thursday, before turning to his aides. “I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now? … It’s certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.”

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How does one define “lawful” in the UK these days? Who would do the defining?

Chaos In Assange Case Management Hearing (DEAssange)

Attorney General William Barr issued a replacement extradition request just two days after Julian Assange’s defence team submitted their full and final evidence for the extradition hearing due in September, Westminster Magistrates court heard today (Friday 14th August). The clear attempt to blindside the defence by US Attorney General William Barr emerged as the court heard Julian Assange has not even seen the warmed-over extradition request, which contains no new charges but introduces new narrative content that the defence argued should be excluded from the proceedings. The defence argued the replacement indictment introduced alleged conduct from 2010 and 2011 which the US had investigated almost a decade ago, and could therefore not plausibly be argued to be new information to the US investigation.

The defence considered the move by the prosecution to bring in the replacement extradition request at the eleventh hour “astonishing”, given the case had been prepared over the course of one year and was well into substantive hearings which began in February. The defence was given a week to decide whether to ask for the September hearing to be adjourned, or to proceed as planned on 7 September. And that was only part of the chaotic hearing in which Belmarsh prison did not initially bring Assange to the video room to join proceedings, the US prosecution failed to turn up (having got the time of the hearing wrong), and every journalist and NGO observer that tried to dial-in was directed to another trial entirely and never made it into the Assange hearing.

That left a mere of handful of journalists that could gain access to the court to report proceedings. ‘This was the worst hearing so far’, said Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-chief . ‘The US government seem to want to change the indictment every time the court meet, but without the defence or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents’. Even now Julian Assange has not been re-arrested under the replacement extradition request. Instead the re-arrest will take place on the first day of the hearings. The reissued request appears to serve a PR purpose since it contains no new charges though still threatens Assange with 175 years in jail.

Julian Assange’s legal team have been denied in-person access to their client since March. Today was the first day Julian Assange was able to have a short video link meeting with his lawyers, prior to the hearing. Belmarsh prison denied Assange any facilities to talk to his lawyers after the hearing ended. Julian Assange has not seen his family and young children since March.

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Aug 142020
 


Marlon Brando screentest 1951

 

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)
Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)
The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)
NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)
What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)
Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)
China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)
China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)
US Seizes $2 Million From Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)
United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)
Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)
Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)
7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)
Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

 

 

I was reading a piece by law professor John Eastman yesterday, before the entire left stumbled over each other to condemn it. I was thinking in my innocence that it’s interesting to know if questions over who’s a “natural born citizen” in America have ever truly been settled by politics or courts.

But I’m naive, and it’s attack time. They will defend Kamala Harris with all they got, with the entire MSM serving as their bullhorns. Which means Trump and his people have no choice but to go after her with all they got. Still, remembering the Obama birther fiasco, do they really want to die on this hill? Can’t we just leave it to the court system and legal experts? Or simply answer Eastman’s questions?

It’s all among signs of things to come between here and Nov. 3. Bill Barr yesterday promised that a first news flash from the Durham investigation into Russiagate origins will come out today, and that all of it will before Nov. 3. US elections are really just entertainment. Opium for the masses. Clickbaits, drama, anger, scandal. And I always thought it should be about people.

 

 

Not much movement in the numbers. We’re stuck in a broken record, with no progress anywhere. Not good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 328 million Americans. 74 million of them are children. That leaves 254 million adults, of which 107 million are obese, or 42%. 42.4% have a BMI over 30. 9% are morbidly obese.

From this point of view, COVID is hardly the worst threat to either the people or the health care system. Or, to put it another way, it’s the people themselves that are the threat to the health care system.

Again, take high fructose corn syrup out of the diet, and you solve a huge chunk of that problem. Ban stuff that kills people, or make it much harder to get.

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)

For a world crippled by the coronavirus, salvation hinges on a vaccine. But in the United States, where at least 4.6 million people have been infected and nearly 155,000 have died, the promise of that vaccine is hampered by a vexing epidemic that long preceded COVID-19: obesity. Scientists know that vaccines engineered to protect the public from influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies can be less effective in obese adults than in the general population, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and illness. There is little reason to believe, obesity researchers say, that COVID-19 vaccines will be any different. “Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese? No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Will it still work in the obese? Our prediction is no.” More than 107 million American adults are obese, and their ability to return safely to work, care for their families and resume daily life could be curtailed if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for them. In March, still early in the global pandemic, a little-noticed study from China found that heavier Chinese patients afflicted with COVID-19 were more likely to die than leaner ones, suggesting a perilous future awaited the U.S., whose population is among the heaviest in the world. And then that future arrived.

As intensive care units in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere filled with patients, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that obese people with a body mass index of 40 or more — known as morbid obesity or about 100 pounds overweight — were among the groups at highest risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. About 9% of American adults are in that category. As weeks passed and a clearer picture of who was being hospitalized came into focus, federal health officials expanded their warning to include people with a body mass index of 30 or more. That vastly expanded the ranks of those considered vulnerable to the most severe cases of infection, to 42.4% of American adults.

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More rapid testing. Good. Bring it. Test yourself everyday at breakfast.

Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)

A newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the novel coronavirus, Israel’s largest medical center said Thursday. Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. This is then examined by a small spectral device that, in simple terms, shines light on the specimen and analyzes the reaction to see if it is consistent with COVID-19. With machine learning it gets more accurate over time. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the trial, said it was easier to use than PCR swabs commonly used to detect COVID-19.


“So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” he said. The center said in an initial clinical trial involving hundreds of patients, the new artificial intelligence-based device identified evidence of the virus in the body at a 95% success rate. Amos Panet, an expert in molecular virology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said he would like to see more data and comparisons with existing tests before making a final judgment. The amount of virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker, he said, and a big challenge is to detect in “people who are borderline.” “It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” he said.

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Would M4A benefit the obese and hence diabetic? A long time ago, someone said: we’re raising a generation of blind amputees. How would a health care system deal with that?

The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)

When the novel coronavirus first arrived in the United States, it spurred on remarkable message discipline among America’s political class. The consensus that emerged on both sides of the aisle dictated that no matter what happened, Americans ought to be glad they do not live in a country with socialized medicine. At the final Democratic presidential debate on March 15, former Vice President Biden pointed to COVID numbers in Italy as evidence that not only was Medicare for all not a solution to the crisis, but it would put the country at greater risk. “With all due respect for Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy,” the former vice president said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all.”

Weeks later, in early April, Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden echoed the sentiment in a Twitter spat with a Medicare for All supporter. “You might want to check out the death rate in France before you think the form of health system is the answer here,” she tweeted. Not long after, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen declaring the COVID-19 pandemic was “an indictment of socialized medicine.” “If you think today’s pandemic bolsters the case for socialized medicine, then ask yourself a simple question: If you came down with a serious case of COVID-19, would you rather be in an Italian hospital or an American one?” the piece opens, before lauding Biden’s debate answer.

Such arguments were never fair — the pandemic was only just starting in the United States, while COVID-19 had indeed rampaged across Europe, there were contributing factors like years of austerity and a lack of supply chain redundancy in the modern globalized economy. But now, just a few months later, these arguments completely and utterly fail. New infections are still surging in the U.S. while countries with national health care programs have long since gotten a handle on the virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported more new COVID cases in a single day than Italy, France, and the U.K. reported last month combined, and roughly 45 percent of their total deaths.

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Nice account from James Altucher. is he just getting old, or is New York really beyond salvation?

NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)

People say, “NYC has been through worse” or “NYC has always come back.” No and no. First, when has NYC been through worse? Even in the 1970s, and through the 80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, and even when it was the crime capital of the US or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning: it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity), it was culturally on top of its game – home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing, and it was probably the food capital of the US. NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were going paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.

This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS. In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, “I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.” They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting a second wave of NYC-ers (this time me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building. Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, Dallas, etc.

Now a third wave of people are leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30-50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals soaring in the second and third-tier cities. I’m temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen. Robyn was looking at listings around Miami and then she saw an area we had never been to before. We found three houses we liked. She called the real estate agent. Place #1. Just rented that morning 50% higher than the asking price. Place #2. Also rented (New Yorkers – “they came from New York for three hours, saw the place, got it, went back to pack.”). Place #3. “Available.” “We’ll take it!” The first time we physically saw it was when we flew down and moved in. “This is temporary, right?” I confirmed with Robyn. But…I don’t know. I’m starting to like the sun a little bit. I mean, when it’s behind the shades. And when I am in air conditioning.

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All US politics is united against Julian Assange.

What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)

During a September 2017 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee debate on an intelligence bill a line was inserted that said WikiLeaks “resembles a non-state hostile intelligence service” and that the U.S. “should treat it as such.” “This language would help investigators secure the authorization needed to surveil those U.S. citizens thought to be associated with WikiLeaks,” a McClatchy report quoted a government lawyer as saying. “You need to show that someone is an agent of a foreign power,” said the lawyer, Robert Deitz, who held senior legal positions at the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency. “It’s possible that Assange has colleagues in this country that they need to focus on,” McClatchy quoted Deitz as saying, “noting that such action can only be done under court order.”

The non-state hostile agency phrase was directly lifted from a scurrilous speech by Mike Pompeo in his first address as CIA director. The language survived the committee and made it into the bill voted on by the full Senate. But before it did two senators raised objections to it. One was Ron Wyden of Oregon. The other was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate in November’s election. According to the McClatchy report, “Harris declared that she is ‘no supporter of WikiLeaks,’ which she said had done ‘considerable harm’ to the United States. But the clause on the group is ‘dangerous’ because it ‘fails to draw a bright line between WikiLeaks and legitimate news organizations that play a vital role in our democracy,’ according to her remarks for the record.”

Harris left no doubt that she is an enemy of WikiLeaks, as is her running mate, Joe Biden, who agreed it was more like a high-tech terrorist organization that Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers. Harris made clear she cared only about establishment media (which almost universally undergirds aggressive U.S. foreign policy) and was worried about it getting caught up in a WikiLeaks dragnet. She said she wants a “bright line” between publications such as The New York Times and WikiLeaks. Except, there can be no such legal line drawn as both establishment papers, like the Times, and WikiLeaks have done the exact same thing: possessed and published classified material.

Because there is no legal distinction, the Obama administration, which desperately wanted to indict WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, backed away citing its “New York Times problem.” The Trump administration had no such qualms and had Assange arrested in April 2019 and indicted on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and 17 counts of the Espionage Act. The only bright line that can be drawn is political: a decision by the Department of Justice to not prosecute big media but to prosecute WikiLeaks for the same “crime”, which conflicts with First Amendment press freedoms. This is what Harris was calling for: Protect the state-managed corporate media but go after a serious publication that dares to reveal crimes of the U.S. government, which Harris wants to protect. In other words, for the same activity, the Times is afforded First Amendment protections, but WikiLeaks is not.

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There are questions one can’t ask.

Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)

The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position. The 12th Amendment provides that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” And Article II of the Constitution specifies that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.” Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.

“Nonsense,” runs the counter-commentary. Indeed, PolitiFact rated the claim of ineligibility as “Pants on Fire” false, Snopes rated it simply “False,” and from the other side of the political spectrum, Conservative Daily News likewise rated it “False.” All three (and numerous others) simply assert that Harris is eligible because she was born in Oakland—and is therefore a natural-born citizen from location of birth. The 14th Amendment says so, they all claim, and the Supreme Court so held in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. But those claims are erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood—an error to which even my good friend, renowned UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, has fallen prey.

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never held that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

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I’ve said it often before: none of this means much without also tallying shadow banks’ numbers.

China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)

China’s top banking regulatory official said on Thursday that the country’s banks have to deal with 3.4 trillion yuan (US$489.5 billion) worth of non-performing loans in 2020 – flagging a big risk for the banking system in the world’s second-largest economy. The total marks a hefty increase from 2.3 trillion yuan in 2019, and the value of bad loans could be even higher in 2021. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency that the increase in non-performing loans (NPLs) – loans in default or close to default – will put huge pressure on the country’s banks, especially small and regional ones.

“As many loans are rolled over [in 2020], some problems will only emerge next year,” Guo was quoted by Xinhua as saying, adding that a rebound in bad loans is “inevitable” since the coronavirus shock has adversely affected so many companies. The warning by Guo, who is also the Communist Party secretary at the People’s Bank of China, came at a time when many of the country’s small banks are facing a moment of reckoning after years of undisciplined balance sheet expansion, as well as instances of fraud and corruption. Meanwhile, Guo said, Chinese banks have improved their loan structure – with more lending going toward manufacturing, infrastructure, technology and small businesses.

Guo added that Chinese banks are now being told to enhance their support of small businesses. In addition, he said he will encourage banks to invest more in corporate bonds. According to official statistics from Guo’s agency, the NPL ratio in China was among the lowest in the world. The ratio for Chinese commercial banks rose 0.03 percentage points in the second quarter to 1.94 per cent at the end of June. But hidden bad loans, if exposed, could easily wipe out bank profits and erode capital bases. In the first half of this year, the combined profits of Chinese banks dropped for the first time in more than a decade – falling 9.4 per cent to 1 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, government data shows.

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So, question is: who are the shadow banks’ debt collectors? Vinnie the Kneecapper and his friends?

China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)

It’s not a good sign for any economy when debt collectors are booming and in China right now, the industry is on a hiring spree. Whole Scene Asset Management, a debt recovery firm based in the southern province of Hunan, plans to double staff numbers to 400 people this year as it expands into new cities. “Debt collection companies have been mushrooming,” said company founder Zhang Haiyan. “And with bad loans growing this year, everyone is adding new hands.” Rival Bricsman is also hiring – hoping to boost headcount of around 1,000 by 400-500 this year after landing a deal to collect delinquent consumer loans for China Minsheng Bank (600016.SS), people with knowledge of the matter said, declining to identified as they were not authorised to talk to media.

Bricsman, which is based in the eastern province of Jiangsu and counts other large banks amongst its clients, did not respond to a request for comment. As increasing numbers of consumers struggle with lost income in an economy battered by the coronavirus and U.S-China tensions, a burgeoning wave of non-performing loans is sparking concern among lenders – both at specialist consumer financing firms and traditional banks – and even among debt collectors. China is the midst of “an unfolding debt crisis”, says Joe Zhang, a business consultant and until last month vice chairman at the country’s largest debt collector YX Asset Recovery. The delinquency rate for consumer debt is climbing and collecting on those loans has become much harder, he added, estimating that at some weaker non-bank consumer lenders, soured loans may account for 30% to 50% of their portfolios.

[..] Chinese consumer debt has ballooned over the past five years, fuelled in part as banks scrambled to issue credit cards, with outstanding debt for bank-issued cards doubling to 17.6 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion). Internet-based consumer financing, which is only lightly regulated, has also grown – by a dizzying 400 times to nearly 8 trillion yuan since 2014, according to the Guanghua School of Management. And Chinese household debt – including mortgages and unsecured consumer loans – has swollen to levels equivalent to nearly 60% of GDP, up from 18% in 2008, the peak of the global financial crisis.

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300 anonymous accounts?!

US Seizes $2 Million From 300 Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)

The Justice Department said it dismantled an elaborate cyber campaign used by overseas terror organizations to finance their operations and seized $2 million from more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts in what it described as the largest-ever seizure of its kind. The Justice Department said three overseas terrorist groups — al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing; al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS — used cryptocurrencies and social media to raise funds for their terror campaigns. “It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” Attorney General William Barr said in a release.


“As announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible,” he added. “Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies. IRS-CI special agents in the DC cybercrimes unit work diligently to unravel these financial networks,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a release. In one of the cases, the U.S. secretly took over websites that were operated by al-Qassam Brigades and monitored those who thought they had opened up their cyber wallets to the terror group but instead donated money to an account controlled by the U.S. government, according to court documents unsealed Thursday in the District of Columbia.

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Successfully dividing the Arab world’s support for Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to full normalization of relations, bringing their decades-long clandestine dealings proudly into the open. The so-called “Abraham Accords” sealing the deal were brokered by US officials. The deal is named for “the father of all three great faiths,” David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, told reporters at the Oval Office on Thursday. Religious and cultural tolerance is often used by Arab states and Israel to mask their efforts to normalize ties. Painting conflict in the region as stemming from a lack of understanding among religions is also a way to obscure its true origin: Israel’s violent dispossession of Palestinians and ongoing military occupation and steady ethnic cleansing of their land.

In exchange for normalization, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the joint statement. However, this is spin. In reality, it was the United States that put Israel’s annexation plans on ice weeks ago. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to annexation shortly after the announcement of the agreement. The UAE is merely using the American-imposed freeze as an opportunity to bring its secret ties with Israel dating back to the 1990s into the open. These secret relations have included military and intelligence cooperation and even joint military exercises.

[..] Relations between Israel and Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and the UAE are founded on a mutual enmity towards Iran. Liquidating Palestinian rights and bypassing the Palestinian issue is seen as key to building up this anti-Iran alliance under American oversight. Annexation, moreover, would only be a formal rubber stamp for what Israel has been doing on the ground for decades: stealing land, forcibly displacing Palestinians and building colonies in flagrant breach of international law. This violent colonization has never ceased and will not stop as a result of this agreement.

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India is Monsanto’s wet dream.

Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)

On 6 July 2020, an article extolling the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops appeared on the BloombergQuint website based on an interview with Dr Ramesh Chand, a member of the key Indian Government think tank Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) . On 17 July, another piece that placed a positive spin on GM crops and gene-editing technology (Feeding 10 Billion People will Require Genetically Modified Food) appeared on the same site. According to Prof Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Dr Hans R Herren and Dr Peter E Kenmore, internationally renowned agricultural researchers, the pieces reported “sweeping unsupported claims” about the benefits of and need for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related technologies in agriculture in India.

The three academics felt that “a responsible and factual response” was required and have written a letter – containing what could be described as the definitive analysis of Bt cotton in India – to Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr Rajiv Kumar (Niti Aayog Vice Chancellor) and Dr Amitabh Kant (Niti Aayog CEO). Chand is reported as saying that there is no credible study to show any adverse impact of growing Bt cotton in the last 18 years in the country (India’s only officially approved GM crop). This is simply not the case. Moreover, Gutierrez et al argue that all of the credible evidence shows any meagre increases in cotton yield after the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 were largely due to increases in fertiliser use. Before proceeding, it is pertinent to address the claim that ‘feeding 10 billion people will require genetically modified food’.

If we take the case of India and its 1.3 billion-plus population, it has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured that, in theory at least, there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables and fruit. However, food security for many Indians remains a distant dream. Hunger and malnutrition remain prevalent. But that is not because farmers don’t produce enough food. These problems result from other factors, including inadequate food distribution, social and economic policies, inequality and poverty. It is a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance (reflecting the situation globally). India even continues to export food while millions remain hungry. Productivity is not the issue.

And while proponents say GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress. India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies and years of neglect. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen. Yet the pro-GMO lobby has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

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Everything travel related is getting hammered. There is no telling when it all will be back, or if it ever will. Bailing out the firms involved seems an awful waste of money. You do that for firms that have a future, not those that have a past.

Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)

The auto industry continues to grapple with one of the worst recessions ever for the notoriously capital intensive sector. Ford, which feels like it has been in the midst of a yearslong “restructuring” that has never fully panned out or ended (and has involved numerous CEOs), continues to make major changes to its global personnel to try and find the right mix for its business going forward. This means that 10,000 positions are now being cut across Europe, the automaker disclosed yesterday. Ford is also going to be reducing the number of its plants in Europe to 17 from 23, the company revealed in a JP Morgan conference presentation on Wednesday.

In a slide called “Ford Euope: Road to Sustainable Profitability”, the company also disclosed it would be discontinuing underperforming vehicles, like its C-MAX and Grand C-Max. The company also plans on “leveraging” its relationship with VW. The company says it is on track to deliver on its 2020-2021 CO2 targets without credits or penalties and 13 new electic vehicles will be on sale by the end of 2020, up from just 5. This news comes days after it was announced that Ford would be replacing its CEO on relatively short notice. Ford said days ago it had tapped Jim Farley to replace a relatively still-newly appointed Jim Hackett as CEO. Hackett replaced former CEO Mark Fields and, for the most part, has failed to inspire confidence during his tenure at Ford.

Ford is currently in the middle of an $11 billion restructuring that is supposed to help to accelerate its development of new vehicles, including hybrids and EVs. Hackett had only just started with Ford back in 2017 and has said he will retire effective October. General Motors is following with a C-suite shakeup of its own, as its CFO leaves after just two years to work at a fintech startup. The company announced earlier this week that John Stapleton, GM North America chief financial officer, has been named its acting global chief financial officer, effective Aug. 15, after the resignation of the company’s current CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara.

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Isn’t that what we wanted? Less flying, less pollution?

7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published a new report Thursday that warns the virus-induced downturn will continue to pressure air passenger numbers, employment and economies across Europe. IATA said passenger flights are expected to decline by 60% in 2020, resulting in millions of job losses in the aviation and tourism industries. IATA issued a similar warning of what has been announced by airlines, of which, complete recovery in passenger demand might not be seen until 2024. “The near-term outlook for recovery in Europe remains highly uncertain with respect to the second wave of the pandemic and the broader global economic impact it could have. Passenger demand in Europe is expected to recover gradually and will not reach 2019 levels until 2024. -IATA

IATA’s job loss estimate was increased by 17% from its June report, from 6 million to 7 million, mostly because the highly anticipated V-shaped recovery has failed to materialize. “It is desperately worrying to see a further decline in prospects for air travel this year, and the knock-on impact for employment and prosperity. said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe. Schvartzman said, “It shows once again the terrible effect that is being felt by families across Europe as border restrictions and quarantine continue. It is vital that governments and industry work together to create a harmonized plan for reopening borders.”

If another wave of the virus were to hit Europe, justifying nationwide lockdowns, it could intensify the recession. Though the German tabloid newspaper Bild has said: “There will be no second hard lockdown in Europe because that would lead to a monster recession that would not be accepted by the population.”

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20% of Greek GDP is tourism. So are at least 20% of jobs.

Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

A report came out on Thursday confirming the worst fears of Greek economic experts, stating that the country had seen a drop of 74.3% in the number of passengers who had traveled through their airports so far this year. This amounts to only 9 million air travelers who had used airports in the country so far in 2020, a staggering drop of almost three-quarters of its business. The number of international visitors coming into Greek airports this year so far amounts to 1,126,429, a stunning decrease from last year’s banner tourism season, which saw a total of 4,096,657 international arrivals. Although very disappointing, the numbers did not come as a shock to any in the sector, due to the punishing effects of travel bans imposed on many nations because of the coronavirus pandemic.


According to Greek media reports, the Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, reported the precipitous drop in business in the first seven months of this year relative to the numbers seen in 2019. For the month of July 2020 alone, the high season for summertime travel to the country, passenger traffic at Greek airports had decreased 72.6%. During the month of July, a total of only 2,722,854 million passengers came through Greece’s airports; in that same period, there was a precipitous drop of 72.5% in the number of foreign arrivals. This means that there were fewer passengers overall in the first seven months of 2020 than there had been in the month of July only in 2019.

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