Aug 122020
 
 August 12, 2020  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Joel Meyerowitz Girl On A Scooter 1965

 

20 Countries Order One Billion Doses Of Russian COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
America’s Window Of Opportunity To Beat Back COVID19 Is Closing (STAT)
The Grifters, Chapter 2 – N95 Masks (Ben Hunt)
Wall Street Executives Are Glad Joe Biden Picked Kamala Harris (CNBC)
Cuomo Is Protecting His Wall Street Donors From Democratic Tax Bills (TMI)
UK Enters Recession As GDP Plunges By Record 20.4% In Q2 (CNBC)
What If Trump Won’t Leave? (IC)
John Solomon Calls For Creation Of New White House ‘Press Pool’ (JTN)
New Memos Show Relentless Pressure By Burisma On State Dept In 2016 (JTN)
Food Bank Strains Emerge As Economy Falls Off Fiscal Cliff (ZH)

 

 

The big thing today of course is Kamala Harris as VP candidate. I must say I don’t think I get it. There are tons of people expressing support, including the entire party, but far as I can see that doesn’t matter at all. Judge for yourselves, there are a few videos below.

What does matter, I think, is that Harris left the primaries last December because nobody voted for her, or like 2% did, after a highly publicized and very well-funded campaign.. People don’t like her! Simple. And those were the people in her own party!

This is not about issues, it’s intuition. Though Tulsi’s takedown of Harris in the debates can’t have helped.

You’re not going to turn that around dramatically by expressing support. It’s the purest gauge you can get, and then you just ignore that? Really, are we sure they want to win? This graph is from November 2019, before she dropped out. Even in her own California, she barely got 5%.

 

 

 

This is just funny:

 

 

Hmmm. Both global new cases and new deaths up quite a lot.

 

 

US cases look sort of okay, but deaths have almost tripled from the day before,. most since May 27.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the FT graph I post sometimes doesn’t look great either:

 

 

 

 

Tulsi Kamala

Kamala DNA tests

 

 

Lots of people say it wasn’t tested properly and cannot be trusted. And it’s fine, don’t take it, see if we care. But don’t tell me the Russians are going to kill their own people.

20 Countries Order One Billion Doses Of Russian COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

A total of 20 nations from Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia have already requested doses of Russia’s breakthrough coronavirus vaccine, which was confirmed to be registered on Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. At a conference dedicated to the announcement of the vaccine’s registration, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) explained that it had already received orders for a billion doses. “Together with our foreign partners, we are ready to produce more than 500 million doses of the vaccine per year,” Kirill Dmitriev explained. Everything produced in Russia will be used domestically, and doses for use in other countries will be made abroad.


According to Dmitriev, the RDIF is also working on a humanitarian aid program for developing countries, with the aim of making the Covid-19 vaccine available in states that can’t afford to make or buy their own. Explaining that vaccination is an acute problem in the world’s poorest countries, Dmitriev said that the fund believes “people around the world should have equal access to a vaccine, regardless of their financial situation.” On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the country had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. Named “Sputnik V,” the vaccine is due to enter mass production soon, and will be available to the general public from January 2021. Despite being registered, the vaccine will still go through more clinical trials in Russia and the Middle East.

Read more …

COVID waxes poetic: “..this winter could be Dickensianly bleak..”

America’s Window Of Opportunity To Beat Back COVID19 Is Closing (STAT)

The good news: The United States has a window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 before things get much, much worse. The bad news: That window is rapidly closing. And the country seems unwilling or unable to seize the moment. Winter is coming. Winter means cold and flu season, which is all but sure to complicate the task of figuring out who is sick with Covid-19 and who is suffering from a less threatening respiratory tract infection. It also means that cherished outdoor freedoms that link us to pre-Covid life — pop-up restaurant patios, picnics in parks, trips to the beach — will soon be out of reach, at least in northern parts of the country.

Unless Americans use the dwindling weeks between now and the onset of “indoor weather” to tamp down transmission in the country, this winter could be Dickensianly bleak, public health experts warn. “I think November, December, January, February are going to be tough months in this country without a vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. It is possible, of course, that some vaccines could be approved by then, thanks to historically rapid scientific work. But there is little prospect that vast numbers of Americans will be vaccinated in time to forestall the grim winter Osterholm and others foresee.

Human coronaviruses, the distant cold-causing cousins of the virus that causes Covid-19, circulate year-round. Now is typically the low season for transmission. But in this summer of America’s failed Covid-19 response, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is widespread across the country, and pandemic-weary Americans seem more interested in resuming pre-Covid lifestyles than in suppressing the virus to the point where schools can be reopened, and stay open, and restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms can function with some restrictions.

“We should be aiming for no transmission before we open the schools and we put kids in harm’s way — kids and teachers and their caregivers. And so, if that means no gym, no movie theaters, so be it,” said Caroline Buckee, associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We seem to be choosing leisure activities now over children’s safety in a month’s time. And I cannot understand that tradeoff.”

Read more …

Ben Hunt has raised $1 million over the past half year for masks for health care workers. Because the system doesn’t function in the US after decades of neglect.

The Grifters, Chapter 2 – N95 Masks (Ben Hunt)

Last week, Mike Pence shook his finger at us and said that there were no outstanding requests on federal PPE stockpiles from any governor, and thus any urgent requests for N95 masks from doctors or nurses were isolated incidents to be quickly resolved by state authorities. SMACK goes the bag of oranges. In truth, both the supply and the distribution of N95 masks in the United States remains a national disgrace, a squandered opportunity to fight Covid with something other than death cultism or lockdown defeatism. In truth, what could have been our finest hour is turning into our worst. For the past six months, a big part of my life has revolved around getting PPE directly to doctors, nurses, EMTs, first responders, social workers and other frontline heroes in this war against Covid-19.

Thanks to the amazing generosity of donors big and small, we raised close to $1 million. Thanks to the inspired work of a dozen friends-for-life-most-of-whom-I-didn’t-even-know-before-this, we first set up an “underground railroad” of N95 and high-quality KN95 masks from China, and later a steady network of PPE suppliers. Thanks to the daily, unwavering commitment of a small team (literally my wife and daughter, literally working out of our garage), we’ve been able to distribute more than 120,000 medical respirators in batches of 100-200 to more than 1,100 hospitals, clinics, police departments, fire departments, prisons and shelters across 47 states. So far. We’ll get out another 4,000+ this week. And next week. And every week until we win this war.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose. Is the overall PPE situation for healthcare workers and first responders better today than it was in April? Absolutely. In April we were sending masks to desperate ER docs and nurses at major hospitals in the biggest cities in America. Today there is neither an urgent need nor even a shortage of PPE in these big city ERs and ICUs. Why not? Because, distribution of PPE from our massive federal and state stockpiles is designed for big cities and big hospital systems. Because that’s how the American system of trickle-down everything … in this case PPE … works.

Eventually, Andrew Cuomo sucks it up and asks Mike Pence for help, and eventually Mike Pence makes a call to FEMA, and eventually all the requisition forms get filled out and signed by all the right people at the governor’s office, and eventually a truckload of 1 million N95 masks makes the trip from the FEMA warehouse to the New York-Presbyterian warehouse, and eventually a NY-P van starts shuttling a pallet of masks every week to every NY-P hospital loading bay, and eventually the boxes of N95s get allocated to the individual medical departments. Eventually.

Read more …

‘Nuff said?!

Both Wall Street execs AND Black Lives Matter are happy about the same thing? One of them might want to do some thinking. She locked up a lot of young black people in California, for one thing.

Wall Street Executives Are Glad Joe Biden Picked Kamala Harris (CNBC)

Wall Street leaders on Tuesday cheered Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate in the presidential election. Finance executives, confident the ticket has what it takes to topple President Donald Trump, raved about her experience in government, as well as her fundraising prowess. “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.” Lasry is also a part owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Blair Effron, the co-founder of Centerview Partners, texted “GREAT CHOICE” to CNBC. Citigroup’s Ray McGuire sent a similar message.

When she ran for president last year, Harris saw contributions from executives in a wide range of industries, including film, TV, real estate and finance, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Her campaign finished raising close to $40 million. Harris, who dropped out of the race in December, opened up a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee earlier this year, allowing her to raise six figure checks that mainly went to the party as a whole. Harris, a former California attorney general, also overcame headwinds from a group of Biden allies who privately tried to block her from becoming the nominee for vice president.


Financial advisory firm Signum Global is already telling its clients that the choice of Harris reinforces the notion that the Democratic ticket is more moderate than progressive. Jon Henes, a partner at corporate restructuring firm Kirkland & Ellis who was Harris’ national finance chairman when she ran for president, told CNBC that the choice shows Biden’s strong judgement. He added that her supporters are ready to give Democrats the backing they need to defeat Trump. “Vice President Biden’s first decision is the perfect one and demonstrates his excellent judgement,” Henes said. “Kamala’s supporters will follow her lead and work non-stop to help Biden and Harris win this historic and critical election.”

Kamala Mnuchin

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So the party takes donations from donors that it then wants to raise new taxes on, and Cuomo fights his own party about it? A little confusing for a bear of little brain.

Cuomo Is Protecting His Wall Street Donors From Democratic Tax Bills (TMI)

In blocking his party’s push for new taxes on stock trades, capital gains and carried interest, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is protecting the financial industry that has delivered millions to his campaign and political operation, according to state records reviewed by TMI. That includes the single largest donor to the state Democratic party during Cuomo’s 2018 re-election bid, who just delivered large contributions to Cuomo as the governor has stymied the tax proposals. Last month, billionaire James Simons and his wife gave Cuomo $90,000. Simons is the founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which could be subject to the new levies being pushed by New York Democratic legislators. In total, Cuomo has received over $280,000 from Simons and his family.

The Cuomo-controlled New York Democratic Party has received an additional $3.4 million from Simons. Cuomo’s political machine has received big donations from other hedge fund moguls including Dan Loeb ($197,000) and Stanley Druckenmiller ($60,800), who could also be impacted by the Democratic tax initiatives aimed at the financial industry. Democratic legislators have been pushing the tax measures to raise new revenues that they say could be used to prevent budget cuts to education, health care and other state programs. Disclosure records reviewed by TMI show that the financial industry has been actively lobbying on the tax proposals in Albany — and Cuomo has parroted their opposition to higher taxes on the rich.

“I literally talk to people all day long who are in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house,” the governor said on August 3, suggesting that billionaires and multimillionaires will leave New York if higher taxes on the wealthy go through. Michael Kink, the executive director of the labor-backed Strong Economy for All Coalition in New York, told TMI that Cuomo’s work to block progressive taxation is indicative of his warped priorities overall.

“A governor that’s connected to reality would be examining every single possible way of raising revenue in the time of crisis,” Kink said. “When you’re so close to someone like James Simons, that leads to you blocking the door to some of the biggest and most important sources of revenue. There’s a door called the billionaire’s tax – $5.5 billion a year. Cuomo strolls away from that door. Then there’s the stock transfer tax door which is $13 billion a year. The vast majority of people who would pay are the speculators who are diving in and out. James Simon, Dan Loeb, a lot of Cuomo’s major donors are the ones that would pay that tax.”

Read more …

What was that quote again before? Oh yes: “..this winter could be Dickensianly bleak..”

UK Enters Recession As GDP Plunges By Record 20.4% In Q2 (CNBC)

The U.K. economy contracted by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the previous three months, as coronavirus-induced lockdowns hammered activity, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday. GDP expanded by 8.7% in June as government lockdown measures eased, having shown a meek 1.8% recovery in May following April’s 20.4% contraction. The second-quarter plunge is the worst on record and follows a 2.2% contraction in the first quarter. Analysts had expected a fall of 20.5%, according to a Reuters poll. Two consecutive periods of contraction mean the British economy is now in a technical recession.


Services, construction and production all saw record quarterly falls, particularly in the sectors most exposed to government restrictions, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). “The economy began to bounce back in June with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and housebuilding continuing to recover,” ONS Deputy National Statistical for Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said. “Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

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Apart from RussiaRussia, the Mike Wallace interview also comes up again. Where he asks a question of Trump that he would never have (dared) ask of Obama or even George W. Why do people feel it was a proper questions to ask? I don’t feel it is. Has Trump ever before indicated he would not leave? Or is that just something people invented? Shouldn’t Wallace show respect because at least Trump showed up, something Biden still refuses to do? And if he does get Biden, will he ask that same question? Wallace has gone down in my book by a lot. Cheap clickbait stuff doesn’t become him.

WALLACE: But can you give a, can you give a direct answer you will accept the election?


TRUMP: I have to see. Look, you – I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.

What If Trump Won’t Leave? (IC)

Events in Charlottesville, Lafayette Square, and Portland have shown the country that President Donald Trump is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep power, including embracing militant white supremacists and using federal troops to tear gas and arrest peaceful protesters. His noxious proposal to postpone the elections is not the real threat to democracy. He has openly declared that he may not abide by the election results in a nationally televised interview on Fox News. Trump has a lot of tools at his disposal to steal the election if he loses, many of which he’s already putting into motion. Can he be stopped? We believe that he can be, but only if most Americans are willing to put their trust in people power — rather than courts, norms, and elites — to save democracy.

The evidence of the risk we face is impossible to ignore. Trump is questioning the legitimacy of an election that will rely on mail-in ballots, even though he himself has often voted absentee. He has threatened to withhold funding from states that are trying to make it easier for people to vote, and he is undermining the U.S. Postal Service, both of which are essential, especially in a pandemic. His Republican allies around the country have been passing voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, and cutting the number of polling places in urban areas, forcing people to stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. This is a war on voters who lean Democratic, specifically Black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, naturalized immigrants, poor people, and young people. We’ve already seen in Georgia and Wisconsin how these tactics play out on Election Day.

Trump’s administration has downplayed foreign interference in the elections that benefit him. He has given succor to white nationalist groups, and the Republican Party has deputized 50,000 “poll watchers” to intimidate minority voters on Election Day. This will be the first election since 1980 during which the Republican National Committee will not be bound by a federal consent decree that prohibited “ballot security” efforts whose real purpose was to intimidate and disenfranchise minority voters. Let’s be clear: Trump and the Republicans are already trying to steal the election.

Read more …

Like everything MSM, it’s become all about opinion -because clickbait-, not news.

John Solomon Calls For Creation Of New White House ‘Press Pool’ (JTN)

Just the News Founder and Editor-in-Chief John Solomon is calling for the creation of a new White House press pool, one that would practice authentic journalism by asking “the people’s questions” rather than participating in what Solomon claims is an atmosphere of “political effect.” Solomon was speaking to Matt Margolis on the podcast John Solomon Reports. Margolis, a conservative columnist and author, argues in his latest book “Airborne” that the American media has “weaponized the coronavirus against Donald Trump.” Margolis during the podcast argued that journalists at the White House press conference are in general “trying to create a narrative” instead of “trying to get the information.”

Solomon, in response, stated that White House officials need to move toward creating “a second White House press pool” in order to “create competition” and promote authentic journalism at the executive branch. The White House Correspondents Association “has had a monopoly on [the White House briefing room] for so long,” Solomon said, stating that the WHCA has engaged in effective censorship by the way it conducts press briefings. “They don’t ask the people’s questions anymore,” Solomon said, arguing that journalists are more likely now to ask “grandstanding” questions that fail to elicit useful information.

[..] Solomon, the former Washington assistant bureau chief for the Associated Press, said: “I almost never expressed an opinion. But since it’s a professional opinion about the state of the news media, it is time for this White House to create a pool.” “If done right,” Solomon added, “you can bring some real news every day, get the American people what they need to know. Instead, we get a lot of late night comedy skits out of it. It’s terrible.”

Read more …

Where’s the Special Counsel for this?

New Memos Show Relentless Pressure By Burisma On State Dept In 2016 (JTN)

The Ukrainian natural gas firm that appointed Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to a lucrative board seat relentlessly pressured the State Department throughout the 2016 election in an effort to get corruption allegations against it dropped and its badly damaged reputation rehabilitated, newly released government memos show. “They keep trying through every channel they can,” a State Department official lamented in summer 2016, describing a nonstop lobbying campaign by Burisma Holdings and its American representatives. The memos, released to Just the News under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit assisted by the Southeastern Foundation, add new significance to a long-running Senate investigation into the Bidens’ activities and perceived conflicts of interest in Ukraine.

For instance, they show far more contact between Burisma and the U.S. embassy in Kiev than was acknowledged by witnesses during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings earlier this year. One issue in that trial was the more than $3 million Hunter Biden’s firm collected from Burisma while his father supervised Ukraine policy for President Obama. The memos obtained by Just the News also were withheld from Senate investigators, who learned of their existence from the FOIA lawsuit. “We have been so frustrated in our attempt to get the documentation that we need before we can sit down and interview people, and as I understand it, the documents you just obtained in your FOIA request we haven’t received unbelievably,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson said in an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.

“I cannot tell you how frustrated and ticked off, I’ll use that word, ticked off about where we are here. So yeah, I subpoenaed the FBI. And, you know, expect additional subpoenas to be forthcoming,” Johnson (R-Wisc.) added. Asked whether a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might be forthcoming, Johnson answered, “Well, certainly a subpoena would bring it to his attention.” The memos show Burisma’s lobbying efforts were led by a Democratic firm called Blue Star Strategies and aided by the nonprofit Atlantic Council foreign policy think tank, stretching from the State Department’s executive suite in Washington at the start of the election to the U.S. embassy in Kiev in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Burisma representatives repeatedly pressed for meetings, at times invoking Hunter Biden’s name, starting with a Blue Star conversation with then-Undersecretary of State Catherine Novelli in January 2016 before turning their attention to U.S. diplomats on the ground in Kiev, the memos show. By summer 2016 — their mission to clear Burisma’s name still incomplete — Blue Star officials pigeonholed the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during her Senate confirmation hearing and then attended a private reception where she was honored, according to the memos. State officials at times chafed at the Burisma campaign, concerned Hunter Biden’s role at the gas firm was undercutting his father’s anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, according to the memos and interviews.

Read more …

A reminder of the future. I’m discussing with the people of the kitchen here in Athens about what we can and should expect going forward. Already demand is rising, but how much more will come?

Food Bank Strains Emerge As Economy Falls Off Fiscal Cliff (ZH)

The latest economic data suggest the US recovery stalled. One look at the Citi US econ surprise index, as of this week, shows the recovery ran out of steam last month. A fiscal cliff is already underway, set to enter the second week on Friday (Aug. 14) as tens of millions of Americans are unemployed and have yet to receive their stimulus checks. The recovery, so far, is a massive economic sugar rush, entirely a function of the Trump administration on a reckless spending spree. One way the administration can artificially supercharge consumption is through issuing direct transfer payments to the working poor. The extra money has been used by households to pay down credit card bills, put food on the table, and pay housing expenses, while others used the free money to buy automobiles and FANG stocks.

[..] Massive federal spending has transformed America into a welfare state under the GOP watch. Tea Party politicians aren’t pleased with the Republican establishment’s wild spending spree. With a fiscal cliff coming up on the second week, tens of millions of folks are unable to consume because they are insolvent and jobless, and their amount of consumption is dependent on the government. We’ve noted before, a quarter of all household income is derived from the government. And with no stimulus checks in the mail, that means Americans are returning to food banks: Claudia Raymer, who manages a network of food-security groups in Ohio County, West Virginia, told Bloomberg when stimulus checks stopped arriving in late July, there was an immediate impact on households, resulting in rising food bank activity among the working poor.

The fiscal cliff will be more damaging in lower-income communities (than major metros), such as small towns in West Virginia, where folks were being paid handsomely by the federal government to sit at home. The problem is, once the payments end, consumption plunges, and the local communities return to a recessionary environment. With federal aid already running out for the stimulus program, the fiscal cliff has already been realized in West Virginia: “We’ve definitely already seen food-security needs increase, just in a week, since the extra unemployment has ended,” Raymer said.

Read more …

 

 

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Flynn closing argument Sidney Powell

 

 

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Jul 312020
 
 July 31, 2020  Posted by at 10:08 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Elliot Erwitt California 1955

 

Young Children Carry Much Higher Viral Load Than Other Age Groups (SD)
Tokyo Could Declare Emergency If Situation Worsens (R.)
China Reports 127 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest Since March 5 (R.)
Netherlands Refuses To Mandate Mask Wearing In Public (ZH)
Australia To Make Facebook, Google Pay For News In World First (R.)
The Grifters, Chapter 1 – Kodak (Ben Hunt)
Trader Joe’s Won’t Change Packaging On International Food Brands (JTN)
Michael Flynn Case To Be Reheard By Full US Appeals Court (R.)
Kamala Harris’s Record On Antitrust & White-Collar Crime (TMI)
What Does Susan Rice Bring to a Biden Ticket? (Lee Smith)

 

 

New global daily cases record, and global deaths are creeping up again. As are deaths in the US and many European countries, Hong Kong, China, Japan. This ain’t over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varon

 

 

A new surprise every day.

Young Children Carry Much Higher Viral Load Than Other Age Groups (SD)

A study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago discovered that children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. Findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups. The ability of younger children to spread COVID-19 may have been under-recognized given the rapid and sustained closure of schools and daycare during the pandemic.

“We found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV,” says lead author Taylor Heald-Sargent, MD, PhD, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare.”


Dr. Heald-Sargent and colleagues analyzed 145 cases of mild to moderate COVID-19 illness within the first week of symptom onset. They compared the viral load in three age groups — children younger than 5 years, children 5-17 years and adults 18-65 years. “Our study was not designed to prove that younger children spread COVID-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility,” says Dr. Heald-Sargent. “We need to take that into account in efforts to reduce transmission as we continue to learn more about this virus.”

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Japan has been doing quite well so far. Opening up may not be a good idea.

Tokyo Could Declare Emergency If Situation Worsens (R.)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike warned on Friday that the Japanese capital could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation deteriorated further, after new cases jumped by a record single-day high of 463. “If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike said, imploring residents to follow health guidelines to avoid that happening.

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Xi is nervous.

China Reports 127 New Coronavirus Cases, Highest Since March 5 (R.)

China reported 127 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on July 30, up from 105 the previous day, the country’s health authority said on Friday, the highest daily number since March 5. Of the total, 112 were in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, up from 96 a day earlier. Another 11 were in Liaoning province in the northeast, up from five the previous day. There were four new imported coronavirus cases on July 30, compared to three a day earlier, while the number of new asymptomatic coronavirus carriers stood at 11, down from 21 on the previous day. China has reported a total of 84,292 coronavirus cases by the end of July 30.

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First, they had no masks or tests, so they told the people these were not needed. Then when all neighbors went in lockdown, they had their “intelligent” lockdown. Now they say no masks, but they will “experiment” with mask requirement in busy places. Confuse people enough and they will turn their backs on you. And all this nonsense about wearing masks outside makes people do worse than turn their backs.

Meanwhile cases there are rising again. So much for the flat curve.

This “mask refusal” was based largely on a report from a Norwegian scientist, who as soon as he saw he was quoted, said: my report says no such thing! But it doesn’t really matter: as soon as masks became a political issue, they were lost.

Something I hadn’t seen before: “Mask-wearing may also prompt people to touch their face more frequently”. Haha, No, masks were supposed to PREVENT people from touching their faces, remember?

Netherlands Refuses To Mandate Mask Wearing In Public (ZH)

American public health experts, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, have struggled over the past couple of months to push a specific narrative on the public: Wearing a mask doesn’t so much protect you from being infected with SARS-CoV-2, but if you are infected, wearing a mask could stop you from passing the virus to someone else. The mainstream media has backed up these assertions with vague references to “science” and “research”, while a coalition of celebrities and progressive activists have tried to tar anybody who doubts this narrative – or, worse, refuses to wear a mask at all times outside their home – as a “denier”. Well, if everybody who is skeptical of the “masks save lives, period” is a “denier”, then how does one explain the Dutch government’s decision to refuse to mandate mask wearing (the only place where masks must be worn in the Netherlands is on public transit).

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the Dutch government had decided the day before that it would not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus because their effectiveness has not yet been proven. The decision was announced by the Netherlands Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark following a review by the country’s National Institute for Health. Following a resurgence in cases over the past week or so, the Dutch government has decided it will instead seek better adherence to social distancing rules. “Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks” Van Ark said.


[..] The Dutch government insists that it’s strictly following the advice of the experts in the so-called Outbreak Management Team, which doesn’t believe in the general use of masks. Dutch virologist Jaap van Dissel from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said Wednesday that masks can lead to a “false sense of security”. When wearing masks, people might not follow other social distancing rules like keeping their distance which also help prevent spread. Mask-wearing may also prompt people to touch their face more frequently, putting them at risk of accidentally infecting themselves while adjusting their masks.

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What good is it if they’re the only one?

Australia To Make Facebook, Google Pay For News In World First (R.)

Australia will force U.S. tech giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay Australian media outlets for news content in a landmark move to protect independent journalism that will be watched around the world. Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses. It’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape,” Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne. “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake.”


The move comes as the tech giants fend off calls around the world for greater regulation, and a day after Google and Facebook took a battering for alleged abuse of market power from U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing. Following an inquiry into the state of the media market and the power of the U.S. platforms, the Australian government late last year told Facebook and Google to negotiate a voluntary deal with media companies to use their content. Those talks went nowhere and Canberra now says if an agreement cannot reached through arbitration within 45 days the Australian Communications and Media Authority would set legally binding terms on behalf of the government. Google said the regulation ignores “billions of clicks” that it sends to Australian news publishers each year.

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What an insane story this is.

The Grifters, Chapter 1 – Kodak (Ben Hunt)

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that Kodak – a public company with less than $100 million in market cap, basically a pension fund with a famous brand name attached – would receive $765 million in “loans” from the US government to create a “pharmaceutical start-up” that over a period of 8 YEARS will start making pharmaceutical “supplies”. Whatever the hell that means. This $765 million in non-recourse, non-secured loans for pharmaceutical supply production, given to this micro-cap company with zero experience or expertise in pharmaceutical supply production, comes from the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a $60 billion piggy bank established by the Trump administration in 2019 to replace the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Yes, “international development” and “overseas investment”. The DFC is an institution that, per its mission statement and Congressional charter via the 2018 Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, is “focused on promoting inclusive economic growth in the world’s least developed countries.” I mean … I knew things were bad in Rochester, but I didn’t know they were that bad. To dust off an old Epsilon Theory catchphrase: They’re. Not. Even. Pretending. Anymore. Who is “they”? On the corporate-grift side, it’s Kodak Chairman and CEO Jim Continenza, who picked up about 3 million shares and cheap options over the past year. It’s Kodak board member George Karfunkel, of the private equity and banking Zyskind-Karfunkel family, with his 6.4 million shares. It’s Kodak board member Philippe Katz, who owns about 4.3 million shares through at least five shell companies.


Based on yesterday’s closing price of $33.20 for the stock, I figure Jim and George and Philippe have made about $400 million over the past 48 hours. The numbers looked even better when Kodak hit $53 earlier earlier in the day, but easy come, easy go.

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Goya, Red Bull, Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s Won’t Change Packaging On International Food Brands (JTN)

The popular U.S. grocery chain Trader Joe’s says it won’t retire the packaging name on some of its international products – including one called Trader José’s – amid a petition to change the names because of their “racist” connotation. “A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products,” Trader Joe’s said Friday on its website. “Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions. “We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is a need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”


Trader Joe had suggested earlier this month that it might change the name on some packaging, but apparently held firm amid the poll and a resurgence of so-called “cancel culture,” in which people and entities are being forced to apologize or amend statements or actions deemed racially or culturally insensitive. The Change.org petition was reportedly started by California high school senior Briones Bedell and as of Thursday had roughly 5,000 signatures. Among the other Trader Joe’s packaging names cited on the petition site are Trader Giotto’s and Trader Ming’s.

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“Never before has appeals court granted en banc hearing to a judge when neither party wanted it.”

Michael Flynn Case To Be Reheard By Full US Appeals Court (R.)

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday agreed to rehear arguments over whether the judge assigned to the criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, must grant a request to dismiss it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it would hold an oral argument in the politically charged criminal case on Aug. 11. In a 2-1 decision on June 24, a three-judge panel of the same court ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration and said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington had to grant the Justice Department’s motion to clear Flynn. Sullivan asked the full court to reconsider the three-judge panel’s ruling, saying the Justice Department’s dropping of the Flynn case was unprecedented and had to be carefully scrutinized.


Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn then switched lawyers to pursue a new scorched-earth tactic that accused the FBI of setting him up, and asked the judge to dismiss the charge. After the Justice Department took the highly unusual step of seeking to abandon the case against Flynn, Sullivan appointed a retired judge to argue against the Justice Department’s request. Sullivan, represented by his own lawyers, has said he cannot serve as a “rubber stamp” and must carefully review the facts before deciding on the request for dismissal. The D.C. Circuit panel disagreed in June, saying Sullivan was intruding on the Justice Department’s authority to decide which cases it pursues.

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Kamala Harris was about the least popular candidate in the Primaries, and one of the first to drop out. She won’t bring in any votes, she’ll take them away.

Kamala Harris’s Record On Antitrust & White-Collar Crime (TMI)

This week, a House subcommittee held a high-profile hearing interrogating the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google about their growing market power. But as more congressional Democrats scrutinize corporate America’s monopolistic business practices, their party may end up giving the vice-presidential nomination to a lawmaker who previously expressed misgivings about antitrust enforcement when it comes to Silicon Valley. California Sen. Kamala Harris’ meteoric rise from San Francisco District Attorney to Democratic presidential contender occurred in the span of just over a decade and today, insiders believe she tops Joe Biden’s shortlist for VP.

During the 2020 election, Harris’s record on criminal justice proved too steep a hurdle during her party’s presidential primary just a few short months ago. She was dogged by criticism that as California Attorney General, she had been soft on white-collar crime like mortgage fraud while pursuing low-level offenses like truancy with zeal. Questions also arose about her refusal to act on her staff’s memo that identified what it called “widespread misconduct” at a financial firm run by Steve Mnuchin, who donated to her Senate campaign.

[..] HuffPost procured 1,400 pages of emails which revealed how Harris’ relationships with tech giants had been mutually beneficial. For example, she’d participated in a promotional for Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book about women in power, “Lean In,” which increased her national profile. Sandberg would also become a donor to her 2016 Senate campaign. All told, that year, Harris raked in $214,000 in contributions from the industry. During her 2020 presidential run, Harris was a favorite of big tech, taking large sums from lobbyists for companies like Uber and Facebook. Donors from Apple, Amazon and Google’s parent company Alphabet were collectively among her top contributors.

Harris’ position on the size of tech giants did not substantially change during the campaign. When she was asked by the New York Times in January 2019 if companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google should be broken up, Harris responded: “I believe that the tech companies have got to be regulated in a way that we can ensure and the American consumer can be certain that their privacy is not being compromised.” Pressed by the interviewer to respond directly about the size of the companies, Harris continued to sidestep. “My first priority is going to be that we ensure that privacy is something that is intact and that consumers have the power to make decisions about what happens with their personal information and that it is not being made for them,” she said.

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And who likes Susan Rice? Anybody at all?

“Nominating Rice as Biden’s VP would virtually ensure her immunity, protecting her from investigation or prosecution during the campaign. [..] Crucially, it would also cut off the investigation at the rung below her, thereby insulating Obama and Biden.

What Does Susan Rice Bring to a Biden Ticket? (Lee Smith)

But there is another possible explanation that is worth considering, since it’s at least legally true: Putting Susan Rice on the ticket would protect both Biden and Obama (as well as Rice herself) from the ongoing investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the discredited FBI probe of Trump’s ties to Russia. As official reports hinting at the role Obama and Biden may have played in targeting Trump officials were declassified in the spring, Attorney General William Barr said in May that neither were in the sights of John Durham, the U.S. attorney in charge of the investigation. “I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

Since Barr’s May statement, it has come to light that Obama and Biden were more directly involved in the targeting of incoming Trump officials than was previously publicly known. In late June, FBI notes of January 2017 Oval Office meetings were declassified, showing that both men were not only keeping close watch on the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, but were advising it. A New York Times article from earlier this week promoting Rice’s audition obscured the evidence declassified in the last several months. It noted that Trump has accused Rice “of having participated in an Obama administration plot against” Flynn, and added that “no such effort has been documented.” Rice herself personally documented a meeting in which she, Obama, and Biden decided Flynn’s fate.

Presumably, Barr does not want America to take a step closer to resembling a third-world regime on his watch. And so, in order to avoid the appearance of a politicized investigation of senior Democrats in retaliation for what was in fact a politicized investigation of a Republican administration, neither Obama nor Biden are being investigated. But that does not mean that they are shielded if someone wants to save themselves by pointing further up the chain of command. And Rice left a paper trail that implicates herself, Obama, and Biden.

Nominating Rice as Biden’s VP would virtually ensure her immunity, protecting her from investigation or prosecution during the campaign. In February, Barr issued a memo stating that no investigation of a presidential or vice presidential candidate can be undertaken without his written approval. Because it is nearly inconceivable that Barr would expose himself to this type of scrutiny or risk compromising the election, Rice would be safe. Crucially, it would also cut off the investigation at the rung below her, thereby insulating Obama and Biden.

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Dec 072019
 
 December 7, 2019  Posted by at 10:26 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Homeless mother and child walking from Phoenix to Imperial County CA Feb 1939

 

Donald Trump and Jerome Powell Can ‘Take Another Victory Lap’ (Y!)
Abenomics has Failed Japan. Financial Times Wants to Make it Global. (Lacalle)
What the ‘Expert’ Panel Should Have Told You About Impeachment (ET)
A Fraught Moment (Kunstler)
Strzok and Page Did Real Damage (Cortese)
Pelosi Puts A Brave Face On A Doomed Mission (Tucker Carlson)
Bloomberg On His Democratic Rivals: ‘Trump Would Eat ‘Em Up’ (R.)
Kamala Harris, Michael Bloomberg, and a Supreme Court Decision (IC)
Musk’s Defamation Win May Reset Legal Landscape For Social Media (R.)
Saudi Arabia Retreats From The Troubles Its Clown Prince Caused (MoA)

 

 

If you look only at jobs, and not even the quality of those jobs, things may appear shiny. We get it.

Donald Trump and Jerome Powell Can ‘Take Another Victory Lap’ (Y!)

The November jobs report crushed expectations on Friday, sending the stock market surging. “Jerome Powell and Donald Trump can take another victory lap,” said Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former Federal Reserve advisor and CEO of Quill Intelligence. The economy added 266,000 jobs in November, according to a report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The prior two months of job gains were revised higher pushing the three month average of job adds to 205,000. “In stark contrast to just about every other source of economic data, the jobs data insists the U.S. economy is strong, and that is all markets care about as it is the most visible and most quoted,” Booth said. “The reaction in the dollar and bond yields speaks volumes to how surprised markets were to this data.”


[..] As for Fed Chair Jerome Powell, he has steered a Federal Reserve that cut interest rates three times so far this year in an effort to reverse the hawkishness of Fed policy last year, which included four rate hikes, and to get ahead of any economic weakness sparked by the ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China. The Federal Reserve meets again next week, and most market participants aren’t expecting any changes to rates. “Despite the strengthening trend, this [jobs report] will not change anything at the Fed aside from what officials say publicly,” Booth said.

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Abe and the BOJ looked only at deflation. And the harder they tried to make them spend, the more fearful of spending the Japanse people became.

Abenomics has Failed Japan. Financial Times Wants to Make it Global. (Lacalle)

A recent article in the Financial Times, “Abenomics provides a lesson for the rich world,” mentioned that the experiment started by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the early 2010s should serve as an important warning for rich countries. Unfortunately, the article’s “lessons” were rather disappointing. These were mainly that the central bank can do a lot more than the ECB and the Fed are doing, and that Japan is not doing so badly. I disagree. The failure of Abenomics has been phenomenal. The balance sheet of the Central Bank of Japan has ballooned to more than 100% of the country’s GDP, the central bank owns almost 70% of the country’s ETFs and is one of the top 10 shareholders in the majority of the largest companies of the Nikkei index.

Government debt to GDP has swelled to 236%, and despite the record-low cost of debt, the government spends almost 22% of the budget on interest expenses. All of this to achieve what? None of the results that were expected from the massive monetary experiment, inventively called QQE (quantitative and qualitative easing) have been achieved, even remotely. Growth is expected to be one of the weakest in the world in 2020, according to the IMF, and the country has consistently missed both its inflation and economic growth targets, while the balance sheet of the central banks and the country’s debt soared. Real wages have been stagnant for years, and economic activity continues to be as poor as it was in the previous two decades of constant stimulus.

[..] The wrong diagnosis will lead to worsening outcomes. When the government is surrounded by economists that tell them that the problem of the economy is that there are too many savings, the government will decide to raise taxes and create a larger problem attacking consumption. With private debt at 221% of GDP. Japan has many issues, none of them being a “savings glut.” If you abandon structural reforms, the results will be worse. The QQE program was based on three “arrows”: monetary policy, government spending, and structural reforms. Guess which arrow they forgot to implement? Exactly. Structural reforms never happened, and when they did, they came in the form of higher taxes and more interventionism, the opposite of what the economy needed.

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Back to the 18th century we go.

What the ‘Expert’ Panel Should Have Told You About Impeachment (ET)

Many phrases in the Constitution—such as “necessary and proper,” “Privileges and Immunities,” and “Convention for proposing Amendments”—carry specialized 18th century meanings not obvious to the modern reader. Recall that most of the leading Founders were lawyers and the Constitution is a legal document. Some of these phrases derive from 18th century law. Therefore, to understand them you have to consult 18th century legal materials in addition to better-known sources such as the 1787 convention debates or the Federalist Papers. Unfortunately, most of the scholars called by the House Judiciary Committee to address the meaning of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” were not able to do so accurately.

According to the authoritative Westlaw database, two of the three Democratically appointed witnesses have published no scholarly work on impeachment: Their specialties are in other areas. None showed any familiarity with 18th century fiduciary standards—which (as explained below) are part of the law of impeachment. All of the witnesses voted against President Trump, and several have been involved in anti-Trump activity. It’s not surprising, therefore, that, except for professor Jonathan Turley’s heavily footnoted 53-page written statement, the testimony was biased and superficial. [..] The core of the case against President Trump is that he used his political position to seek re-election assistance from a foreign government. Although there’s dark talk of crimes committed, the principal charge is fiduciary rather than criminal. In other words, a “high … Misdemeanor.”

House Democrats have struggled to define Trump’s alleged offense. Initially, they described it as “quid pro quo.” Then they employed the term “bribery.” The legally correct designation is “self-dealing.” Self-dealing is betraying your employer’s interests to enrich yourself. It’s a violation of the fiduciary duty of loyalty. We can assume the president might benefit from a Ukrainian investigation, but that doesn’t mean asking for an investigation was self-dealing as defined by fiduciary, and therefore by impeachment, law. There’s nothing unusual or improper about a president asking a recipient of U.S. foreign aid to address corruption. As for seeking political advantage: If we punished every politician who did that, they would all be swinging from the yardarm.

This is as true in foreign as in domestic affairs. When President Barack Obama told the Russian president he would have more flexibility after his re-election, he was saying (1) an agreement now would benefit both Russia and the United States, but (2) I’m going to sacrifice our mutual interests for the present because such an agreement might hurt my re-election campaign. Was this impeachable self-dealing? Almost certainly not. So where is the divide between “normal” conduct and impeachable conduct? To answer this, we need to weigh at least three factors: impeachment precedent, the national interest, and the practice of other presidents.

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The Horowitz report is due on Monday. He’s scheduled to testify on Wednesday.

A Fraught Moment (Kunstler)

The IG has no real law enforcement powers. He can only refer or recommend further action. Nevertheless, a great miasma of anxiety oppresses the Democratic Party now as it awaits whatever Mr. Horowitz has to say about these matters. The party’s propaganda arms at The New York Times, the WashPo, and cable news networks worked up a frenzy of distractions and ruses this past week — for instance the “bombshell” that International-Man-of-Mystery Joseph Mifsud was not a hireling of the FBI. Of course, nobody ever claimed he was. Rather, he is suspected of being an agent of the Italian intel service with links to British intel, both used by the CIA as beards for its nefarious activities around its own election meddling of 2016.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic caucus has been busy with ersatz impeachment proceedings, which are invidiously scheduled to continue next week as a smokescreen to conceal the Horowitz findings. It’s been a frantic campaign for them at a fraught moment in this long saga — but the odor of desperation is thick and rank. Of course, behind the Horowitz report loom the specters of Barr & Durham. Whatever they’ve been up to has been hermetically sealed in a globe of silence even more oppressive and nightmarish for the Dems than the IG’s inquiry. Barr & Durham are able to make things stick, most crucially genuine criminal culpability for the entire RussiaGate fiasco and all of its offshoots, including the most recent “Whistleblower” caper — a patently treasonous scheme. Who knows if and when indictments start raining down, but there’s a chance that it will be a very hard rain indeed.

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Jeff Cortese, a financial crimes manager in the private sector, is the former acting chief of the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit.

Strzok and Page Did Real Damage (Cortese)

Strzok and Page were employed by what was the world’s leading law enforcement agency. The integrity of their work and the work of their FBI peers was paramount to maintaining stability and confidence in the country and its law enforcement. It’s not news that the FBI’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years, but the extent of the impact from the imprudence of Strzok and Page is likely not fully understood by most people. Their obvious improprieties created a level of widespread distrust in the FBI not previously seen. Recruiting assets and sources, finding willing participants for interviews, and even trial success can all be adversely impacted by the decline in the FBI’s reputation.

Former colleagues have told me they recently lost otherwise strong cases because lone jurors claimed after trial they refused to convict anyone investigated by the FBI. Criminals are literally walking the streets because the FBI has lost the confidence of the American people. And that decline is directly linked to the famously poor judgment made by two senior FBI employees who knew better. This is precisely why the FBI teaches its agents never to engage in activity on FBI phones or in a public forum that reveals personal bias. The risk to the Agency is too significant. The work of all the great men and women in the FBI should not be jeopardized by the actions of one, or two, of its people.

As Americans we have a soft spot for stories of redemption. We are a country of second chances, and that is a good thing. The idea that anyone could find pleasure in someone’s downfall is abhorrent, even if they hold opposing political views. That is not to say Peter Strzok and Lisa Page did not do this to themselves. They did. They made themselves political talking points that will be used by politicians and pundits until the next election, and perhaps beyond.

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“The framers, Pelosi tells us, worried that corrupt Americans might take money from foreign powers to do their bidding. And that, class, is why we need to impeach Donald Trump. Get it? Wait a second. Trump didn’t take money from Ukraine; Hunter Biden did.”

Pelosi Puts A Brave Face On A Doomed Mission (Tucker Carlson)

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House: “Let us begin where our Founders began in 1776: “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another.” With those words, our founders courageously began our Declaration of Independence, from an oppressive monarch, for among other grievances, the king’s refusal to follow rightfully passed laws. In the course of today’s events, it becomes necessary for us to address, among other grievances, the president’s failure to faithfully execute the law.” It’s just mesmerizing on many levels. But what did it mean exactly? Well, it was a metaphor. Trump is a slightly more orange version of King George III.

Democrats are the patriots plotting to overthrow him with violence. If that strikes you as alarming, Pelosi has a few words of comfort. A group of 18th-century slaveholders, she assures us, would have been completely in favor of what she’s doing. Pelosi: “James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, warned that the president might betray his trust to foreign powers, which might prove fatal to the republic. Another Founder, Gouverneur Morris, feared that a president may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust. He emphasized that this magistrate is not the king. The people are the king.” So, James Madison has given Nancy Pelosi his personal seal of approval. Remember that the next time Pelosi’s acolytes try to pull Madison’s statue off its pedestal for crimes against progressive orthodoxy.

For a brief moment, the Founders of our country are useful to the left, so they’re being presented as heroes. Enjoy it while it lasts. The framers, Pelosi tells us, worried that corrupt Americans might take money from foreign powers to do their bidding. And that, class, is why we need to impeach Donald Trump.Get it? Wait a second. Trump didn’t take money from Ukraine; Hunter Biden did. Trump just pointed that out. He was on James Madison side on that score, vigilantly policing bribery by a hostile foreign power. And for that, he must be removed from office.

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But not him?

Bloomberg On His Democratic Rivals: ‘Trump Would Eat ‘Em Up’ (R.)

Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg said on Friday that Donald Trump would easily defeat any of his Democratic White House rivals in next year’s election, bluntly declaring: “Donald Trump would eat ‘em up.” Bloomberg, 77, a billionaire media mogul and former New York mayor, was a late entry into the race last month. He has been privately disparaging of his Democratic presidential rivals but this was the first time he had been so critical of them in public. In an interview on CBS’s “This Morning,” Bloomberg said: “I looked at our national government getting worse, the way we’re behaving overseas and domestically, led by our president.”


“I said back in 2016, ‘He is the wrong person for the job. He doesn’t have the temperament or the ethics or the intellect to do the job.’” Bloomberg added: “And I said, ‘We just can’t have another four years of this.’ And then I watched all the candidates. And I just thought to myself: ‘Donald Trump would eat ‘em up’.” Bloomberg, a former Republican and independent, fears that liberal candidates such as U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and their proposed costly expansion of government programs, will alienate voters in battleground states.

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I wouldn’t want to create the impression that Kamala due to a lack of money.

Kamala Harris, Michael Bloomberg, and a Supreme Court Decision (IC)

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California suspended her presidential campaign on Tuesday. Why? Because, she said, she did not “have the financial resources we need to continue. I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign.” Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who definitely is a billionaire, has spent at least $57 million of his own money since he jumped into the race on November 24. Harris, by contrast, raised $36 million as of her last campaign filing in October. Of that, she’d spent almost $26 million since she announced her campaign last January 21. The divergence in the fates of the two candidates can be traced back to a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of campaign finance law.

But the case involved is not Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, from 2010. It’s a far less famous one: Buckley v. Valeo, from 1976. The decision opened the door for billionaires — and, more generally, the ultra-rich — to spend as much as they want on their own political campaigns. The divergence in the fates of Harris and Bloomberg can be traced back to a Supreme Court decision — not from Citizens United in 2010, but Buckley v. Valeo in 1976. One of the main forces behind the case was a young Republican lawyer named John Bolton, later to become President Donald Trump’s national security adviser for a time. In Bolton’s memoir, he proudly states that “Everyone knew the decision in Buckley v. Valeo could determine … the future shape of American politics.” Bolton was right — and his long-ago efforts continue to bear fruit today.

Watergate was, among other things, a scandal about money in politics. President Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign had accepted bribes, including $200,000 from the chairman of the board of McDonald’s in return for permission from the federal government to raise the price of their Quarter Pounder cheeseburger. Soon after Nixon resigned in 1974, Congress responded with significant amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. This included a new limit of $50,000 per calendar year on what presidential candidates could spend of their own money on their campaign. Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $275,000 today.

Just two years later, however, the Supreme Court struck that limit down in the Buckley case. Those running for political office could now spend any amount of their own fortune they wanted. In fact, the court stated, it could be good for the wealthy to self-fund runs for office, because “the use of personal funds reduces the candidate’s dependence on outside contributions and thereby counteracts the coercive pressures and attendant risks of abuse.”

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Are we now all free to call each other whatever we want?

Musk’s Defamation Win May Reset Legal Landscape For Social Media (R.)

Elon Musk’s daring has left its mark on electric cars and rockets, and now experts say the entrepreneur may have reshaped U.S. defamation law with his willingness to defend at a high-stakes trial a lawsuit over an off-the-cuff tweet. The victory by Tesla Inc’s outspoken chief executive over a Twitter message describing a British cave explorer as “pedo guy” has raised the bar for what amounts to libel online, according to some legal experts. Musk defended his comments as trivial taunts made on a social media platform that he argued everyone views as a world of unfiltered opinion, which is protected as free speech, rather than statements of fact.

“I think this verdict reflects that there is a feeling that internet tweets and chats are more like casual conversation whether you call it opinion or rhetoric or hyperbole and should not be punished in a lawsuit,” said Chip Babcock, a lawyer who defends against defamation lawsuits. Several other attorneys who specialize in defamation cases privately expressed surprise at the outcome of what they viewed as a strong case for the cave explorer, Vernon Unsworth. They attributed it to Musk’s fame and the perceived youthfulness of the jury. But they also agreed it would shift the legal landscape, undercutting the cases that would have seemed viable before the trial while defendants would use it to try to reduce possible settlement values.

Musk’s court papers cast his comments as part of the rough-and-tumble world of Twitter, which rewards and encourages emotional outbursts and sucks in readers worldwide but that no one takes seriously. Mark Sableman, a lawyer who defends defamation cases, said the freewheeling nature of social media has inevitably changed the understanding of language and what amounts to defamatory factual statements, versus opinion. “I think defendants in modern defamation cases are likely to point to the vitriolic no-holes-barred nature of modern social media, cable TV, and political discourse, in contending that many words and accusations formerly considered defamatory are now understood only as mere opinions, not factual assertions,” he said.

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“..some $25.6 billion will be taken out of the left Saudi trouser pocket to be put into the right one.”

Saudi Arabia Retreats From The Troubles Its Clown Prince Caused (MoA)

Iran has enabled the Houthi to resist throughout the 5 years of war the Saudis waged on them. Drones and missiles parts provided by Iran to the Houthi allowed them to compel the Saudis to file for peace. It is thereby highly unlikely that the Houthi will dissociate themselves from Iran. They will agree to end their attacks on Saudi Arabia if the Saudis end their attacks on Yemen and pay for the damage their war has caused. If the Saudis do not agree to that more of their helicopters will come down in flames and more of their oil installations will be set on fire. The war on Yemen was started by clown prince Muhammad bin Salman who was then Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia.

He had hoped for a fast victory but the well equipped Saudi military proved to be incapable of defeating barefoot Houthi in the mountains of north Yemen. The war costs the Saudis several billions per month and threatened to ruin the state. Muhammad Bin Salman’s other projects did not go any better. He had planned to sell shares of Saudi Aramco at international stock exchanges and at a total valuation of 2 trillion dollar. The move was supposed to bring in $100 billion to finance a further industrialization of the Saudi economy. After many delays Saudi Aramco is now finally making its initial public offering. The shares will start trading on December 11. But the stock will only be listed at the Saudi Tadawul exchange.

The initial share price offer puts the value of the company at $1.7 trillion which is higher than the $1.5 trillion estimate international banks had published. Today the Saudis announced a large cut in their oil output to increase the global oil prices and the company’s valuation. That might attract more urgently needed buyers to the IPO. But the stocks will still be sold to mainly domestic entities, if needed with some pressure. Instead of attracting $100 billion of fresh money from abroad some $25.6 billion will be taken out of the left Saudi trouser pocket to be put into the right one. The economic benefit for the country is dubious.

Two and a half years ago the clown prince tried to attack and occupy Qatar. The given ideological reason was the Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood. But the real reason was the Saudi need for more money which MbS tried to gain through a real estate and resource grab. The project failed when Turkish troops came to Qatar’s aid.

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Aug 042019
 


Julie Edgley Immature white tailed eagle.

 

An Economy Based on Plunder (PCR)
Economics Is A Failing Discipline Doing Great Harm (Simms)
Joe Biden To Millennials: Stop Complaining (HPo)
Dominic Cummings: UK Lawmakers Can’t Stop No-Deal Brexit (R.)
Justice Dept Bill Comes Due For Russiagate Costs (RT)
Celebrities, Royals, Politicians Fear Release Of Jeffrey Epstein Files (Tel.)
California Scrubs Controversial Kamala Harris-Era Arrest Reports
America’s Elites: Fractured and At Odds with Each Other (Crooke)
We Must Change Food Production To Save The World (G.)
The Sea Eagle Has Landed – Centuries After It Disappeared (G.)

 

 

Two mass shootings in the US, Iran seizes another tanker and police in France and Hogn Kong chase protesters. Must be Sunday.

Well, yes, it’s been about plunder for as long as our ‘civilization’ exists. We prefer to use other terms, that’s all.

An Economy Based on Plunder (PCR)

Capitalists have claimed responsibility for America’s past economic success. Let’s begin by setting the record straight. American success had little to do with capitalism. This is not to say that the US would have had more success with something like Soviet central planning. Prior to 1900 when the frontier was closed, America’s success was a multi-century long success based on the plunder of a pristine environment and abundant natural resources. Individuals and companies were capitalized simply by occupying the land and using the resources present. As the population grew and resources were depleted, the per capita resource endowment declined.

America got a second wind from World War I, which devastated European powers and permitted the emergence of the US as a budding world power. World War II finished off Europe and put economic and financial supremacy in Washington’s hands. The US dollar seized the world reserve currency role from the British pound, enabling the US to pay its bills by printing money. The world currency role of the dollar, more than nuclear weapons, has been the source of American power. Russia has equal or greater nuclear weapons power, but it is the dollar not the ruble that is the currency in which international payments are settled. The world currency role made the US the financial hegemon.

This power together with the IMF and World Bank enabled the US to plunder foreign resources the way vanishing American resources had been plundered. We can conclude that plunder of natural resources and the ability to externalize much of the cost have been major contributors right through the present day to the success of American capitalism. [..] Essentially, capitalism is a plunder mechanism that generates short-run profits by externalizing long-run costs. It exhausts natural resources, including air, land, and water, for temporary profits while imposing most of its costs, such as pollution, on the environment.

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And economics is designed to justify the plunder.

Economics Is A Failing Discipline Doing Great Harm (Simms)

[..] neoclassical economics has so deeply entrenched the notion that markets are better than all other ways of organising life, that decisions escape rational scrutiny. Academic economists will tell you that their discipline offers a far more complex picture of the world. But, at the policy level, what tilts a spending decision one way or the other is the simple power of the seeming “folk wisdom” that markets are best. It becomes the rule of thumb. They might look less good if the assumptions on which the equilibrium models that got us here were more widely known. The idea of perfect markets under perfect competition, for example, asks us to believe in a world where everybody knows everything, there are an infinite number of companies, no barriers to setting up a business, where any product can stand in for any other (say, a banana for a tractor) and, crucially, there are no “externalities” (economic speak for “consequences”) from production or consumption.


All models use a few simplifying assumptions, but those underpinning mainstream economics more often distort and detach from reality. It’s one of the reasons why students have rebelled, forming groups to demand that universities take a more pluralistic approach to teaching economics. Katie Kedward left a banking job in the City for ethical reasons and sought a degree that would make sense of economics. Despairing at the unreality of mainstream courses, she found a rare exception: a master’s in ecological economics at the University of Leeds. The course, though, isn’t even taught in the economics department but the School of Earth and Environment. That’s why new groups are emerging to promote heterodox economics, which draws on the insights of the study of complexity, neuro and behavioural science, ecology, feminism and the core economy of family, mutualism and community.

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Yeah, don’t just sit there, do something instead. Like seize Joe’s wealth.

Joe Biden To Millennials: Stop Complaining (HPo)

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a message for the millennial generation: Stop complaining if you aren’t going to engage with politics. The 2020 Democratic presidential contender stood by the skepticism he expressed last year when asked about young adults’ belief that they face outsize hurdles to secure housing and pay off debt. “I have no empathy for it. Give me a break,” Biden said in January 2018. Asked to explain what he meant, Biden began talking about his personal experience growing up with “very modest means” and how he felt upon learning about a study that found relatively few young people today would consider running for political office.

“We have an obligation to get engaged,” Biden said at Saturday’s AFSCME forum, co-moderated by HuffPost. “You all have an obligation to get engaged.” “Don’t tell me how bad it is. Change it. Change it. Change it,” he said. He added: “My generation did it.” = Biden drew some criticism the first time he went after millennials, more than a year before he announced his candidacy. Conservative New York Times opinion writer and climate denier Bret Stephens later sided with Biden in a column criticizing the millennial generation, which Stephens said specializes in “histrionic self-pity and moral self-righteousness.”

As HuffPost’s Michael Hobbes reported in 2017, there is a large amount of research and data that paints a bleak financial future for young people, many of whom are already reporting that they’re finding themselves priced out of the housing market. Although Biden has consistently polled highest among the wide field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, his supporters skew older and more moderate. At the forum, he went on to say, “I just don’t want people telling me on a college campus, ‘Oh, woe is me, I’ve got it so bad.’ … Come on.”

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Checkmate?

Dominic Cummings: UK Lawmakers Can’t Stop No-Deal Brexit (R.)

Lawmakers will be unable to stop a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 by bringing down Britain’s government in a vote of no confidence next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide has advised, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Dominic Cummings, one of architects of the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, told ministers that Johnson could schedule a general election after the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if he loses a vote of no confidence in parliament, the newspaper said, citing sources. Johnson has promised to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal but has a working majority of just one after his Conservative Party lost a parliamentary seat on Friday.


Some of his lawmakers have hinted they would vote against him to prevent a no-deal Brexit — a rising prospect that has sent the pound tumbling to 30-month lows against the dollar over the last few days. Lawmakers are unable to table a motion of no confidence before next month because the House of Commons is in recess until Sept. 3. “(Lawmakers) don’t realise that if there is a no-confidence vote in September or October, we’ll call an election for after the 31st and leave anyway,” Cummings was quoted by one of the Sunday Telegraph’s sources as saying. Johnson has said he would prefer to the leave the EU with a deal but has rejected the Irish backstop — an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland — which the EU says is key to any agreement.

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“..the special counsel’s office spent $25 million digging for Russian infiltrators in the White House.”

Justice Dept Bill Comes Due For Russiagate Costs (RT)

Nearly two years of fruitlessly hunting for collusion between US President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government cost the country $31.7 million, the Justice Department has revealed. The cost of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month probe was released in a Justice Department accounting report on Friday. While the last six months of the investigation, which concluded in May with Mueller’s resignation, cost “only” $6.5 million as he began sending prosecutors home and writing up the 448-page report, turning the full force of the country’s investigative apparatus against a president and his campaign isn’t cheap. From May 2017 to September 2018, the special counsel’s office spent $25 million digging for Russian infiltrators in the White House.

Some $2.4 million of the last phase’s expenses would have been spent anyway on Department salaries, according to the report, but the itemized breakdown provides an interesting window into the bureaucratic swamp that produced the pricey nothingburger. “Transportation of Things” may have cost just $229, but Justice Department employees billed the government for $235,812 to work out of the special counsel’s office instead of their own offices (filed under “Travel and Transportation of Persons”). While the special counsel investigation infamously turned up no proof of the promised Russian collusion, that did not stop Trump’s political opponents from attempting to reframe the expensive endeavor as a victory – based on the handful of process crimes levied against Trump associates – or a “roadmap to impeachment,” since Mueller did not explicitly say Trump should not be prosecuted and outlined 10 potential scenarios of obstruction of justice.

Adding insult to injury, several key “facts” in the report have already been proven wrong or misleading, such as the identity of Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller described as having links to Russian intelligence but who was actually a US State Department asset. And last month, a federal judge found that Mueller had utterly failed to prove that the company running the “troll farm” that supposedly committed “sweeping and systematic” interference in US elections on behalf of the Russian government had any government connections at all.

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Who’s powerful enough to remain hidden?

Celebrities, Royals, Politicians Fear Release Of Jeffrey Epstein Files (Tel.)

In Room 270, the records management unit, on the second floor of an imposing granite and marble courthouse in lower Manhattan, 167 documents totaling more than 2,000 pages are being kept under lock and key. But they are about to be unsealed and made public – making a host of important people around the world, including celebrities, politicians and royals, very nervous. The files contain explosive allegations in the case of Giuffre v Maxwell, in which Virginia Giuffre, a woman who claims to have been Jeffrey Epstein’s teenage “sex slave”, sued Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and the billionaire’s former girlfriend, for defamation.

The case was settled in May 2017 on the eve of the trial but the details were not disclosed and the final judgment and supporting documents were sealed, with the court noting the “highly sensitive nature of the underlying allegations.” According to other court documents that have been published, Ms Giuffre has made allegations of sexual abuse against “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.” An appeal to unseal the rest of the documents was launched by the Miami Herald newspaper, which has spearheaded media investigations into Epstein. It was rejected three times. But last month the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered their release, ruling that the public’s right to know outweighed the privacy rights of the high-profile individuals named.

It what may be an indication of the fame of those individuals, the judges made a striking plea to the media to “exercise restraint” in reporting the allegations about to come to light. They also allowed parties involved to apply for minor redactions, delaying the release. Another delay is possible as Miss Maxwell has launched an appeal to keep the documents sealed, her lawyers arguing that a full release would trigger a “furious feeding frenzy.” They wrote: “Plaintiff Giuffre made numerous allegations of sexual, if not criminal, conduct against a wide range of third parties. Because of the media no reference to anyone in this case is benign: a reference to any person is toxic and lethal to that person’s reputation. Facts and truth are all but irrelevant.”


Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001

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Have you no shame?

California Scrubs Controversial Kamala Harris-Era Arrest Reports (ZH)

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has scrubbed arrest records from Sen. Kamala Harris’s controversial tenure as the state’s top law enforcement official, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The purge was conducted during a ‘routine website redesign,’ removing public access to several key incarceration reports. Twice a year, the CDCR releases information about the number of new individuals incarcerated in the California prison system as part of its “Offender Data Points” series. These reports provide important information on demographics, sentence length, offense type, and other figures relevant to criminal justice and incarceration.

Until recently, these reports were publicly available at the CDCR’s website. A search using archive.org’s Wayback Machine reveals that as of April 25, 2019—the most recent indexed date—ODP reports were available dating back to the spring of 2009. As of August 2019, the same web page now serves only a single ODP report, the one for Spring 2019. The pre-2019 reports have been removed. -Washington Free Beacon During the Democratic debates on Wednesday night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) excoriated Harris’s record as California Attorney General, rattling off a laundry list of ‘inconvenient’ facts – such as the 1,500-plus Californians Harris sent to prison for marijuana-related offenses, blocking evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until forced to do so by the courts, and using prison inmates as cheap labor. Harris did not refute any of Gabbard’s statements.

The now-scrubbed records were used by the Free Beacon in prior reporting – “specifically the finding that more than 120,000 black and Latino Californians were sent to prison while she was in the State A.G.’s office.” A CDCR employee claims that the changes have nothing to do with Harris’s campaign, and were instead prompted by California law AB 434 which ‘sets standards for web accessibility.’

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Reeks too much of fear-mongering to me. Alastair Crooke can theorize all he wants.

America’s Elites: Fractured and At Odds with Each Other (Crooke)

Something is ‘up’. When two Financial Times columnists – pillars of the western Establishment – raise a warning flag, we must take note: Martin Wolf was first off, with a piece dramatically headlined: The looming 100-year, US-China Conflict. No ‘mere’ trade war, he implied, but a full-spectrum struggle. Then his FT colleague Edward Luce, pointed out that Wolf’s “argument is more nuanced than the headline. Having spent part of this week among leading policymakers and thinkers at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado,” Luce writes, “I am inclined to think Martin was not exaggerating. The speed with which US political leaders of all stripes have united behind the idea of a ‘new cold war’ is something that takes my breath away. Eighteen months ago the phrase was dismissed as fringe scaremongering. Today it is consensus.”

A significant shift is underway in US policy circles, it seems. Luce’s final ‘take’ is that “it is very hard to see what, or who, is going to prevent this great power rivalry from dominating the 21st century”. It is clear that there is indeed now a clear bi-partisan consensus in the US on China. Luce is surely right. But that is far from being the end of it. A collective psychology of belligerence seems to be taking shape, and, as one commentator noted, it has become not just a great-power rivalry, but a rivalry amongst ‘Beltway’ policy wonks to show “who has the bigger dick”.

And quick to demonstrate this, at Aspen (after others had unveiled their masculinity on China and Iran), was the US envoy for Syria (and deputy US National Security Adviser), James Jeffrey: A US policy boiled down to one overriding component: ‘hammering Russia’. “Hammering Russia” (he insisted repeatedly), will continue until President Putin understands there is no military solution in Syria (he said with heightened verbal emphasis). Russia falsely assumes that Assad has ‘won’ war: “He hasn’t”, Jeffrey said. And the US is committed to demonstrating this fundamental ‘truth’.

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We must change it to preserve our own mental health.

We Must Change Food Production To Save The World (G.)

Attempts to solve the climate crisis by cutting carbon emissions from only cars, factories and power plants are doomed to failure, scientists will warn this week. A leaked draft of a report on climate change and land use, which is now being debated in Geneva by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land. Humans now exploit 72% of the planet’s ice-free surface to feed, clothe and support Earth’s growing population, the report warns. At the same time, agriculture, forestry and other land use produces almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, about half of all emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, come from cattle and rice fields, while deforestation and the removal of peat lands cause further significant levels of carbon emissions. The impact of intensive agriculture – which has helped the world’s population soar from 1.9 billion a century ago to 7.7 billion – has also increased soil erosion and reduced amounts of organic material in the ground. In future these problems are likely to get worse. “Climate change exacerbates land degradation through increases in rainfall intensity, flooding, drought frequency and severity, heat stress, wind, sea-level rise and wave action,” the report states. It is a bleak analysis of the dangers ahead and comes when rising greenhouse gas emissions have made news after triggering a range of severe meteorological events.

[..] The new IPCC report emphasises that land will have to be managed more sustainably so that it releases much less carbon than at present. Peat lands will need to be restored by halting drainage schemes; meat consumption will have to be cut to reduce methane production; while food waste will have to be reduced. Among the measures put forward by the report is the proposal of a major shift towards vegetarian and vegan diets. “The consumption of healthy and sustainable diets, such as those based on coarse grains, pulses and vegetables, and nuts and seeds … presents major opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.

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First since 1780.

The Sea Eagle Has Landed – Centuries After It Disappeared (G.)

Sea eagles have returned to the Isle of Wight 239 years after they were last seen there. Six chicks brought from Scotland were taken to the island last month as part of a programme to reintroduce the birds to England’s south coast. Also known as white-tailed eagles, the birds will be released into the wild in the next few weeks. Over the next five years 60 young sea eagles – which grow to have a wingspan of up to 2.4 metres (8ft) and are Britain’s largest bird of prey – will be released on the island in a programme approved by Nature England. It is hoped the birds will begin breeding there by 2024.


“Sea eagles were once a common sight in England and southern Europe but were lost centuries ago,” said Roy Dennis, who has pioneered the reintroduction of the birds to Britain. “This project aims to reverse that situation by restoring them to their ancestral nesting places.” Dennis added that the last pair of sea eagles in England bred on Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780. A spokesperson for Forestry England said the new chicks had been doing well since their arrival and that once their health had been checked they would be released into the wild at several different locations in the next few weeks.


White tailed eagle. Photo:Arturo de Frias Marques

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Assange: The persecution

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 222019
 


Pablo Picasso Female bust 1922

 

Pre-Davos Survey Shows Sixfold Rise In Global CEOs’ Gloom (G.)
In Versailles, Macron Vows To Reform To Avoid King’s Fate (R.)
The Garden Of Eden Is No More -David Attenborough (G.)
With Kamala Harris In The Race, Trump Stands No Chance Of Winning (Ind.)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher of Sacred Cows (Matt Taibbi)
Theresa May: Second Referendum Would Threaten ‘Social Cohesion’ (G.)
Labour Calls For Vote On Holding Second Brexit Referendum (G.)
Xi Warns China Against ‘Black Swans’ Of Economic Volatility (G.)
US To Formally Seek Extradition Of Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou (R.)
Greek Households Have Lost 28% Of Their Assets (K.)
Facebook And Twitter Can Work Out Who You Are Even If You Don’t Use Them (Ind.)
Greenland’s Ice Melting Four Times Faster Than In 2003 (Ind.)

 

 

And what are they gloomy about? Inequality? Species extinction? Warfare? Nope! They are gloomy about growth.

Pre-Davos Survey Shows Sixfold Rise In Global CEOs’ Gloom (G.)

Pessimism among chief executives has risen sharply in the past 12 months as the leaders of the world’s biggest companies have taken fright at rising protectionism and the deteriorating relationship between the US and China. The survey of chief executives conducted by the consultancy firm PwC to mark the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos showed a sixfold increase to 30% in the number of CEOs expecting global growth to slow during 2019. PwC said the rise in pessimism was unsurpassed in the 22 years it had been conducting the survey, with the downbeat mood a contrast to the bullishness of early 2018, when global growth was strong and stock markets were soaring.

The survey showed that the most pronounced shift was among CEOs in North America, where optimism about global growth dropped from 63% in 2018 to 37%. PwC said this was probably due to the fading impact of Donald Trump’s tax cuts and emerging trade tensions. “CEOs’ views of the global economy mirror the major economic outlooks, which are adjusting their forecasts downward in 2019,” PwC’s global chairman, Bob Moritz, said. “With the rise of trade tension and protectionism it stands to reason that confidence is waning.”

The unease about global economic growth had influenced CEOs’ confidence about their companies’ short-term prospects. Thirty-five percent of CEOs said they were very confident in their own organisation’s growth prospects over the next 12 months, down from 42% last year. While the US retained its position as the top international market for growth over the next year, many CEOs have been turning to other markets, PwC said.

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Macron does his own little Davos. And elects to huddle and hobnob with billionaires instead of talking to his people. Just like the King did 226 years ago.

Macron’s idea of reform is weakening labor laws, and more Europe. Precisely what the Yellow Vests don’t want.

In Versailles, Macron Vows To Reform To Avoid King’s Fate (R.)

President Emmanuel Macron told dozens of the world’s most powerful executives on Monday that he would not follow the path of guillotined French royals and would continue to reform the French economy despite a sometimes violent popular revolt. For the second year running, Macron hosted corporate A-listers like Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella, Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon at a pre-Davos dinner at Versailles. Exactly 226 years after the decapitation of Louis XVI, who failed to plug the crown’s dismal finances and quell popular discontent over a sclerotic feudal society, Macron started his speech by invoking the king and his wife Marie-Antoinette. “If they met such an end, it is because they had given up on reforming,” Macron told the guests, according to his office.

His office said earlier that foreign companies including medical products company Microport, Mars, Procter & Gamble, Cisco and others would announce investments in France totaling more than 600 million euros. The dinner was an opportunity to reassure investors of Macron’s resolve to reform the economy after images of protesters angry at his policies attacking public monuments, boutiques, banks and riot police were beamed around the world. “There are questions about the protests’ magnitude, about the violence, because these images are shocking for foreigners,” a source at Macron’s office said before the summit. “Last year, the summit was in a totally different dynamic, it was all about ‘France is back’. Here we’re in a tougher part of the mandate domestically and that requires more explanations,” the source added.

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Really, David, you couldn’t have picked a place with more deaf ears for your message than Davos. All those politicians and wealthy folk owe their positions to the very process that eradicated the Garden of Eden.

The Garden Of Eden Is No More -David Attenborough (G.)

Sir David Attenborough has warned that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, as he urged political and business leaders from around the world to make a renewed push to tackle climate change before the damage is irreparable. Speaking at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the 92-year-old naturalist and broadcaster warned that human activity has taken the world into a new era, threatening to undermine civilisation. “I am quite literally from another age,” Attenborough told an audience of business leaders, politicians and other delegates. “I was born during the Holocene – the 12,000 [year] period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm, and create civilisations.” That led to trade in ideas and goods, and made us the “globally connected species we are today”.

That stability allowed businesses to grow, nations to co-operate and people to share ideas, Attenborough explained, before warning sombrely: “In the space of my lifetime, all that has changed. “The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans,” he declared. In a stark warning to the world leaders and business chiefs flocking to the WEF this week, Attenborough warned that the only conditions that humans have known are changing fast. “We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand.”

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This old-guard wishful thinking seems the point to the opposite of what the headline says. Or maybe it was meant as humor?!

With Kamala Harris In The Race, Trump Stands No Chance Of Winning (Ind.)

Kamala Harris just ruined Donald Trump’s day. With her much anticipated declaration today, she immediately installed herself as a front-runner in the race to be the Democrat intent on taking down the president in 2020. “Let’s do this together: For ourselves, for our children, for our country,” she said. And with those carefully chosen words, Trump’s chances of reelection entered a death spiral. She is everything he is not. In US elections the White House often swings to the opposite of what has gone before. And whether it is gender, race, age, or ideals, Harris represents the diametric opposite of the present incumbent. She is, in many ways, the “female Obama”.

The political symbolism of a woman of colour declaring her candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr Day was lost on precisely no one. Certainly not on Trump, who will be feverishly trying to dream up a dismissive nickname for Harris. Such schoolyard tactics are unlikely to work. This daughter of a Jamaican-born father and Indian-born mother is a candidate of substance. She will spend the next year hammering Trump on his race relations record, specifically his comments after the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville. And voters will soon come to know the story of how, as a toddler, Harris was taken to civil right marches by her parents and shouted “Fweedom!” from her stroller. Within her own party too Harris is breaking the mould. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are widely expected to enter the race in the coming weeks. But both are septuagenarian white men.

Beto O’Rourke, for all his progressive credentials, is a millionaire internet entrepreneur. None of that is representative of the Democratic Party today. It was notable in a recent analysis of social media interactions that Harris was an easy second to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young congresswoman, for the most engagement among Democrat politicians. She is connecting with the youth of the party. At 54 she is two decades younger than Biden and Sanders. Videos of her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s controversial pick for the US Supreme Court, went viral, as have other episodes from her time on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And although she was only elected to the Senate in 2016, inexperience does not seem an argument that will fly for her opponents.

[..] When it came to announcing, Harris got one of the biggest platforms, a spot on Good Morning America, a sign the US TV networks know she is the real deal. It was a typically direct announcement, and Harris sought to address some of the concerns more national security-focused Democrat voters might have. She stressed her 20 years as a prosecutor in California, and her commitment to “keeping America safe”. Spelling out areas where she would take on Trump, she vowed to restore “America’s moral authority in the world”, working with allies he has snubbed. Most of all, she vowed to “stand up and fight”. And that is what the Democratic base most wants to hear.

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Forget Kamala. Chris Cillizza of all people gets it right: “..the social media profiles of both [AOC and Trump] allow them to “end-run the so-called ‘media filter’ and deliver their preferred message… directly to supporters.” Both expose the hollow sound of the system, each from their own side, but in the end it’s the same thing, because it’s the same system.

AOC is too young to be elected, but not to become very powerful inside the party. Incumbent heads will roll because of her, and whoever becomes the candidate can’t risk losing her support.

For me it’s nothing more to do with supporting AOC than it does with supporting Trump. It’s about exposing the rot in the system. Davos and all that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher of Sacred Cows (Matt Taibbi)

The Beltway press mostly can’t stand her. A common theme is that, as a self-proclaimed socialist, she should be roaming the halls of Rayburn and Cannon in rags or a barrel. Washington Examiner reporter Eddie Scarry tweeted a photo of her in a suit, saying she didn’t look like “a girl who struggles.” High priest of conventional wisdom Chris Cillizza, with breathtaking predictability, penned a column comparing her to Donald Trump. He noted the social media profiles of both allow them to “end-run the so-called ‘media filter’ and deliver their preferred message… directly to supporters.” The latter issue, of course, is the real problem most of Washington has with “AOC”: her self-generated popularity and large social media presence means she doesn’t need to ask anyone’s permission to say anything.

[..] I have no idea if Ocasio-Cortez will or will not end up being a great politician. But it’s abundantly clear that her mere presence is unmasking many, if not most, of the worst and most tired Shibboleths of the capital. Moreover, she’s laying bare the long-concealed fact that many of their core policies are wildly unpopular, and would be overturned in a heartbeat if we could somehow put them all to direct national referendum. Take the tax proposal offered by Ocasio-Cortez, which would ding the top bracket for 70 percent taxes on all income above $10 million. The idea inspired howls of outrage, with wrongest-human-in-history Alan Greenspan peeking out of his crypt to call it a “terrible idea,” Wisconsin’s ex-somebody Walker saying a 5th grader would know it was “unfair,” and human anti-weathervane Harry Reid saying “you have to be careful” because voters don’t want “radical change quickly.”

Except polls show the exact opposite. Almost everyone wants to soak the rich. A joint survey by The Hill and Harris X showed 71 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and even 45 percent of Republicans endorse the Ocasio-Cortez plan. Is it feasible? It turns out it might very well be, as even Paul Krugman, who admits AOC’s rise makes him “uneasy,” said in a recent column. He noted the head of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated the top rate should be even higher, perhaps even 80 percent. We’ve been living for decades in a universe where the basic tenets of supply-side economics — that there’s a massive and obvious benefit for all in dumping piles of money in the hands of very rich people — have gone more or less unquestioned.

Now we see: once a popular, media-savvy politician who doesn’t owe rich donors starts asking such questions, the Potemkin justifications for these policies can tumble quickly. There is a whole range of popular policy ideas the Washington political consensus has been beating back for decades with smoke and mirrors, from universal health care to legalized weed to free tuition to expanded Social Security to those higher taxes on the rich. As we’ve seen over and over with these swipes on Ocasio-Cortez, the people defending those ideas don’t realize how powerful a stimulant for change is their own negative attention. If they were smart, they’d ignore her. Then again, if politicians were smart, they’d also already be representing people, not donors. And they wouldn’t have this problem.

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First one to jump party lines wins.

Theresa May: Second Referendum Would Threaten ‘Social Cohesion’ (G.)

Theresa May reiterated her opposition to a second Brexit referendum on Monday night, claiming it would threaten Britain’s “social cohesion” and insisting the centrepiece of her strategy remained negotiating changes to the Irish backstop. With just 67 days to go until Britain is due by law to leave the European Union, May exasperated MPs and business groups by offering scant evidence that she was willing to change course. Giving a statement in the House of Commons, the prime minister outlined three changes she claimed had emerged from discussions with colleagues in the six days since her Brexit deal was rejected by MPs with a crushing margin of 230:

• A more consultative approach to the next phase of negotiations, with MPs, business groups and unions more involved. • Stronger reassurances on workers’ rights and environmental standards, “with a guarantee that not only will we not erode protections for workers’ rights and the environment but we will ensure this country leads the way”. • Another attempt to address the concerns of Tory and Democratic Unionist party MPs about the Irish backstop – which she could then discuss with Brussels. May dismissed the idea of extending article 50 and stepped up warnings about the potential consequences of asking the public to vote again on Brexit. “There has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy,” she said.

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Corbyn doesn’t want a referendum. He dreams of elections, and even of winning those.

Labour Calls For Vote On Holding Second Brexit Referendum (G.)

Labour has said the Commons should be able to vote on whether to hold a second referendum in an amendment the party submitted on Monday night to Theresa May’s Brexit update. It is the first time the party has asked MPs to formally consider a second poll, although the carefully worded compromise amendment did not commit the party’s leadership to backing a referendum if such a vote were to take place. The wording called for May’s government to hold a vote on two options – its alternative Brexit plan and whether to legislate “to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition” that is supported by a majority in the Commons.

The intervention came as the party’s leadership seeks to deal with divisions between Jeremy Corbyn and some of the leader’s closest allies who are sceptical about a second referendum and those who are more enthusiastic such as Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer. The party’s alternative Brexit plan, which would be the subject of a separate vote if the amendment were carried, proposes that the UK remain in a post-Brexit customs union with the European Union and have a strong relationship with the single market. Citizens’ rights and consumer standards would be harmonised with the EU’s. Corbyn said: “Our amendment will allow MPs to vote on options to end this Brexit deadlock and prevent the chaos of a no-deal. It is time for Labour’s alternative plan to take centre stage, while keeping all options on the table, including the option of a public vote.”

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Xi gets nervous.

Xi Warns China Against ‘Black Swans’ Of Economic Volatility (G.)

Chinese president Xi Jinping has warned officials to be vigilant against any threats to the party’s “political security”, underlining uncertainty in Beijing as the economy falters. Xi spoke at a study session for top provincial leaders, ministers, and other party leaders on Monday, the same day official economic data showed the Chinese economy last year grew at its weakest pace in almost 30 years, pulled down by weakening spending, investment, and trade. Yet Xi’s remarks focused more on the “political” and “ideological security” as the country’s main priorities going forward. He stressed the campaign would be focused on training the next generation to uphold “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the Chinese Communist party’s adaptation of Marxism-Leninism.

“Now the main front of the ideological struggle is on the internet, and the main audience of the internet is young people. Many domestic and foreign forces are trying to develop supporters of their values and even to cultivate opponents of the government,” Xi said. A slowing Chinese economy risks rising rates of unemployment and financially squeezed households and businesses, threatening social stability. “There is no political security. There is only regime security,” said Li Datong, a former journalist and outspoken commentator. “They see the risks of rebellion. As the economy becomes worse, people from all walks of the society can become opponents.”

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Canada’s ambassador to the United States complains that Canadians pay the price for Justin bending over backwards for the US.

US To Formally Seek Extradition Of Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou (R.)

The United States will proceed with the formal extradition from Canada of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, Canada’s ambassador to the United States told the Globe and Mail, in a move certain to ratchet up tensions with China. David MacNaughton, in an interview with the Canadian newspaper published on Monday, said the U.S. has told Canada it will request Meng’s extradition, but he did not say when the request will be made. The deadline for filing is Jan. 30, or 60 days after Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver. Meng, the daughter of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at the request of the United States over alleged violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

She was released on bail last month and is due in court in Vancouver on Feb. 6. Relations between China and Canada turned frosty after the arrest, with China detaining two Canadian citizens and sentencing to death a Canadian man previously found guilty of drug smuggling. [..] In an article published on Monday, a former Canadian spy chief said Canada should ban Huawei from supplying equipment for next-generation telecoms networks, while Canada’s government is studying any security implications. Some of Canada’s allies such as the United States and Australia have already imposed restrictions on using Huawei equipment, citing the risk of it being used for espionage. Huawei has repeatedly said such concerns are unfounded, while China’s ambassador to Canada last week said there would be repercussions if Ottawa blocked Huawei.

[..] In Monday’s interview, MacNaughton said he had complained to the United States that Canada was suffering from Chinese revenge for an arrest made at the U.S.’s request. “We don’t like that it is our citizens who are being punished,” the Globe and Mail cited MacNaughton as saying. “(The Americans) are the ones seeking to have the full force of American law brought against (Ms. Meng) and yet we are the ones who are paying the price. Our citizens are.”

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Strange headline. What they mean is value. And yeah, property prices are ‘recovering’, because foreigners are buying up the country. If you don’t think that’s a problem, imagine the same happening where you live.

Greek Households Have Lost 28% Of Their Assets (K.)

Greek households lost 27.9 percent of their assets in the decade from 2008 to 2018, Alpha Bank notes in its weekly financial bulletin. The lender’s analysts say that this drop was the biggest in the eurozone, followed by those recorded in Spain, Italy and Cyprus, while Germany recorded significant gains during the same period. Portugal also saw a rise, even though the country also went through an economic streamlining program, as it has benefited from the increase in property prices in recent years.

Households in Greece have recorded the biggest decline in the eurozone’s non-financial wealth after their counterparts in Spain, a development that mainly results from the slide in the Greek property market in previous years. Nevertheless, realty is currently showing signs of recovery in terms of both residential and commercial properties, with the house price index climbing 1.3 percent in January-September 2018 on an annual basis, while the price indexes for offices and retail spaces have climbed 7.4 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. The Alpha bulletin notes that household expectations regarding their spending capacity, employment conditions and the general economic situation are on the rise.

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For Facebook and Twitter, read CIA and MI6.

Facebook And Twitter Can Work Out Who You Are Even If You Don’t Use Them (Ind.)

Facebook and Twitter can be used to work out huge details of your personal life – even if you never actually use them, according to a new study. It is still possible to predict the kind of things you might say simply by looking at the sort of people you hang around with, a new study has found. The research undermines the idea that personal choice is the central part of privacy and that it is possible to opt out of tracking and data collection by social networks on your own, the researchers say. In the research, a team of scientists from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide took more than more than thirty million public posts on Twitter from 13,905 users.

They found it was possible to use the messages from eight or nine of a person’s contacts to predict what a person might post next – as accurately as if they were looking at a person’s own Twitter feed. Even if a person left the social network or never actually joined, researchers can guess a person’s future posting or activities with 95 per cent accuracy, the scientists write. It also means that signing up to a social network like Facebook really means you are handing over possible data on your friends, too, the researchers warn. “There’s no place to hide in a social network,” says Lewis Mitchell, a co-author on the new study.

The researchers actually showed that there is a mathematical upper limit on how much predictive information about a person can be held on a social network. But it doesn’t matter whether that information is being provided by the person being profiled or someone else entirely, they found. “You alone don’t control your privacy on social media platforms,” said UVM professor Jim Bagrow. “Your friends have a say too.”

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Oh well, talk to Davos and they’ll solve it all.

Greenland’s Ice Melting Four Times Faster Than In 2003 (Ind.)

Greenland‘s ice is melting far faster than initially thought and may have reached a “tipping point”, with the rate of ice loss now four times quicker than it was in 2003, a new study suggests. Scientists researching rises in global sea levels examined the country’s southeast and northwest regions and found that the largest amount of ice loss was sustained away from Greenland’s glaciers. “Whatever this was, it couldn’t be explained by glaciers, because there aren’t many there,” said Michael Bevis, the study’s lead author. “It had to be the surface mass – the ice was melting inland from the coastline. It’s because the atmosphere is, at its baseline, warmer,” Mr Bevis added. “What’s happening is sea surface temperature in the tropics is going up; shallow water gets warmer and the air gets warmer.”

The team’s study suggests that an increasing amount of water will flow from Greenland into the ocean during the summer months, further contributing to the rising sea levels. “We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” said Mr Bevis. “But now we recognise a second serious problem: increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea.”

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