Nov 012020
 


Getty Images Sean Connery RIP

 

Going Full Orwell (Jim Kunstler)
National Security Nightmare Of Hunter Biden’s Abandoned Laptop (DM)
Donald Trump Leads Joe Biden By 7 Points Among Iowa Voters (MSN)
Arizona Polls: Trump vs. Biden (RCP)
Democrats Uneasy About Higher Republican Turnout In Miami-Dade (CNN)
A Biden Presidency Means The Return Of The Blob (Escobar)
Fauci Praises Biden’s Covid Precautions, Says He Avoids West Wing Due (F.)
Study: 20% Of Grocery Store Workers Had COVID19, Most Asymptomatic (CNN)
A Second National Lockdown Would Be Catastrophic (Sun)
Anti-Lockdown Protests Grip Spain (RT)
Europe Increasingly Toughens COVID19 Restrictions Amid Fierce Protests (RT)
Netherlands Puts KLM Bailout On Hold After Pilots Reject Wage Freeze (R.)
Why China’s Official Data Don’t Add Up (ATF)
The Great Reset for Dummies (Tessa)

 

 

BADAKATHCARE! Biden’s a one-man meme machine

 

 

“Mr. Trump has overcome every adversity thrown in his path for four years, and I believe he will get through this final tribulation, beep-beep. And then the games can begin in earnest.”

Going Full Orwell (Jim Kunstler)

The now infamous “Laptop from Hell” left behind brainlessly by Hunter in a Delaware repair shop apparently contains a parallel trove of photos and videos self-chronicling the scion’s sordid private life — sex, drugs, etc. — suggesting that he has set himself up as the perfect target for blackmailing operations. And goodness knows what Chinese intel on its own initiative recorded him doing in the hotels there (with amenities supplied) on his many visits to their land. Said laptop was also, it turns out, in the possession of the FBI as far back as the impeachment preliminaries in Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee, fall of 2019. Since it was full of material counter-evidence about the issue at hand — the president’s phone call to Ukraine’s President Zelensky vis-a-vis the Biden family’s shady doings in that country — the question arises of how deep was the FBI’s complicity in the impeachment ruse?

Could FBI Director Christopher Wray not have known of the laptop’s existence when it came into the agency? I doubt it. Could Mr. Wray have concealed the information from Attorney General Barr? Yes, quite possibly. In the meantime, Mr. Barr has not said a word about the entire Biden pay-for-play / laptop extravaganza. I imagine he’s chewing the office furniture at Main Justice in a fury over it with the election pending, and his duty to avoid influencing the outcome. Mr. Trump has felt a little freer to share the wicked business with the public in his campaign appearances, setting the table for a banquet of consequences when the election is over.

If it can be gotten over, since the Democrats have made no secret of their elaborate plan to confound the results with post November 3 ballot harvesting and Lawfare shenanigans in the swing states — to be accompanied by riots staged by their Antifa and BLM shock troops. I think the idea is to provoke Mr. Trump to call out US troops to quell the riots, thereby opening him up to accusations of being a tyrant. I suspect the Dems will overplay their hand on that trick, since a sizable portion of the public that has not collectively lost its mind is good and goddam sick of riots, arson, destruction of property, and the looting capers that go with them. Mr. Trump has overcome every adversity thrown in his path for four years, and I believe he will get through this final tribulation, beep-beep. And then the games can begin in earnest.

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Hunter02.

National Security Nightmare Of Hunter Biden’s Abandoned Laptop (DM)

The son of the man expected by many to be America’s next President abandoned a laptop containing a treasure trove of top-secret material, including his father’s private emails and mobile phone numbers, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. In an astonishing lapse, Hunter Biden chose to protect his MacBook Pro computer – crammed with what an IT expert last night described as a ‘national security nightmare’ and ‘classic blackmail material’ – with a single, simple password: Hunter02. Remarkably, the 50-year-old businessman and self-confessed drug addict took the machine to a back-street IT store in Delaware in April 2019 to get it repaired – yet never returned to collect it. Its existence was revealed by the New York Post last month, but the staggering scale and sensitivity of its contents – easily accessible to a hacker with a modicum of skill – is only revealed for the first time today.

The material, none of which was encrypted or protected by anything as basic as two-factor authentication, includes:
• Joe Biden’s personal mobile number and three private email addresses as well as the names of his Secret Service agents;
• Mobile numbers for former President Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary and almost every member of former President Barack Obama’s cabinet;
• A contact database of 1,500 people including actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Coldplay singer Chris Martin, former Presidential candidate John Kerry and ex-FBI boss Louis Freeh;
• Personal documents including Hunter’s passport, driver’s licence, social security card, credit cards and bank statements;
• Details of Hunter’s drug and sex problems, including $21,000 spent on one ‘live cam’ porn website and ‘selfies’ of him engaging in sex acts and smoking crack cocaine;

While Hunter has been accused of using his family name to help with deals with Ukrainian and Chinese firms, there is nothing on the laptop to implicate Joe Biden in any wrongdoing. One email relating to a failed Chinese deal refers to a payment of ten per cent to ‘the Big Guy’, which some have suggested is the presidential hopeful. However, Mr Biden has insisted: ‘I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.’ Last night, IT expert Chris Greany said it was ‘staggering’ the laptop had not been encrypted.

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Will the shift be strong enough?

Donald Trump Leads Joe Biden By 7 Points Among Iowa Voters (MSN)

Republican President Donald Trump has taken over the lead in Iowa as Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden has faded, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows just days before Election Day.The president now leads by 7 percentage points over Biden, 48% to 41%. Three percent say they will vote for someone else, 2% aren’t sure and 5% don’t want to say for whom they will vote. In the lead-up to the 2020 election, all eyes are on Iowa. Get updates of all things Iowa politics delivered to your inbox. In September’s Iowa Poll, the candidates were tied at 47% to 47%.The poll of 814 likely Iowa voters was conducted by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines from Oct. 26-29. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.


J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., said while men are more likely to support Trump and women to support Biden, the gender gap has narrowed, and independents have returned to supporting the president, a group he won in 2016. “The president is holding demographic groups that he won in Iowa four years ago, and that would give someone a certain level of comfort with their standing,” she said. “There’s a consistent story in 2020 to what happened in 2016.” But, she said, “Neither candidate hits 50%, so there’s still some play here.” Trump carried Iowa by 9.4 percentage points in 2016, but his chances at a repeat 2020 win here appeared to be in doubt in recent polling. The June Iowa Poll showed Trump leading by just 1 percentage point before Biden climbed into the September tie.

Trunalimunumaprzure Mary Poppins

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Look at some of the leads Biden had recently.

Arizona Polls: Trump vs. Biden (RCP)

Key 2020 Races: Senate | AZ-1 | AZ-2 | AZ-6 President: 2016: Trump +3.5 | 2012: Romney +9.1


Final 2016 RCP Average: Trump +4.0, Results: Trump +3.5 (Trump -0.5 Behind the Polls)

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“..the county is seen by Democrats as a region former Vice President Joe Biden must win by wide margins..”

Democrats Uneasy About Higher Republican Turnout In Miami-Dade (CNN)

Republicans in Florida’s most populous county, Miami-Dade, are turning out to vote at a somewhat higher percentage than Democrats — causing uneasiness among some Democratic operatives. Nearly 63% of the 428,000 registered Republicans in the county have voted so far, whereas about 56% of the county’s 634,000 registered Democrats have voted to date, according to state data. About 225,000 people with no party affiliation have also already voted in the county. While more Democrats than Republicans have voted overall in Miami-Dade, the county is seen by Democrats as a region former Vice President Joe Biden must win by wide margins in order to offset voting in the state’s predominantly red regions.


Democratic worries come as both President Donald Trump and Biden vie for Florida’s 29 electoral votes, with each candidate holding a rally there Thursday as CNN’s Poll of Polls shows Trump lagging in the state at 46% to Biden’s 49%. Politico was first to report the concerns among Democrats. Steve Schale, a veteran Democratic Florida strategist who runs a pro-Biden PAC, said, “I’d love to see Dade County jump up this weekend and I’ll feel better if it does.” But Schale added that Black voters in the county tend to vote in-person closer to Election Day, so he expects a bump in turnout over the coming weekend. He added that Democrats have had strong turnout in neighboring Broward County. State data show about 61% of registered Democrats in Broward have voted so far compared to about 56% of registered Republicans in the county.

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“Taking a cue from TIP, let’s game a Dem return to the White House – with the prospect of a President Kamala taking over sooner rather than later.”

A Biden Presidency Means The Return Of The Blob (Escobar)

The Dem strategy is crystal clear, spawned by the gaming of election scenarios embedded in the Transition Integrity Project and made even more explicit by one of TIP’s co-founders, a law professor at Georgetown University. Hillary Clinton, bluntly, has already called it: Dems must re-take the White House by any and all means and under any and all circumstances. And just in case, with a 5,000-word opus, she already positioned herself for a plum job. As much as Dems have made it very clear they will never accept a Trump victory, the counterpunch was vintage Trump: he told the Proud Boys to “stand back” – as in no violence, for now – but crucially to “stand by”, as in “get ready”. The stage is set for Kill Bill mayhem on November 3rd and beyond.

Taking a cue from TIP, let’s game a Dem return to the White House – with the prospect of a President Kamala taking over sooner rather than later. That means, essentially, The Return of the Blob. President Trump calls it “the swamp”. Former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes – a mediocre hack – at least coined the funkier “Blob”, applied to the incestuous Washington, DC foreign policy gang, think tanks, academia, newspapers (from the Washington Post to the New York Times), and that unofficial Bible, Foreign Affairs magazine. A Dem presidency, right away, will need to confront the implications of two wars: Cold War 2.0 against China, and the interminable, trillion-dollar GWOT (Global War on Terror), renamed OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) by the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden became the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997 and was the chair in 2001-2003 and again in 2007-2009. He paraded as total Iraq War cheerleader – necessary, he maintained, as part of GWOT – and even defended a “soft partition” of Iraq, something that fierce nationalists, Sunni and Shi’ite, from Baghdad to Basra will never forget. Obama-Biden’s geopolitical accomplishments include a drone war, or Hellfire missile diplomacy, complete with “kill lists”; the failed Afghan surge; the “liberation” of Libya from behind, turning it into a militia wasteland; the proxy war in Syria fought with “moderate rebels”; and once again leading from behind, the Saudi-orchestrated destruction of Yemen.

Tens of millions of Brazilians also will never forget that Obama-Biden legitimized the NSA spying and Hybrid War tactics that led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff ,the neutralization of former President Lula, and the evisceration of the Brazilian economy by comprador elites. Among his former, select interlocutors, Biden counts warmonger former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen – who supervised the destruction of Libya – and John Negroponte, who “organized” the contras in Nicaragua and then “supervised” ISIS/Daesh in Iraq – the crucial element of the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy of instrumentalizing jihadis to do the empire’s dirty work.

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Fauci the politician. No credibility left.

Fauci Praises Biden’s Covid Precautions, Says He Avoids West Wing Due (F.)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top figure in the federal government’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, offered praise for the Biden campaign and a mix of criticism and plaudits for President Donald Trump and his administration in an interview with the Washington Post. Fauci told the Post that the Biden campaign “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective” focused on “the economy and reopening the country.” While the comments are some of Fauci’s most political yet on the pandemic, they are not entirely shocking given Fauci and Biden’s relative alignment on issues like mask mandates, and Biden has committed to listening to scientists and keeping Fauci in his role if he wins the presidential election.

By contrast, Trump and Fauci have frequently clashed, with Fauci warning earlier this month that Trump’s tightly packed rallies pose a coronavirus risk and Trump calling Fauci a “disaster” and stating he would oust him if it didn’t cause a media frenzy. Taking aim at the administration, Fauci told the Post “the public health aspect of the [White House coronavirus] task force has diminished greatly,” and he said he avoids the West Wing of the White House due to “all the infections there.” Fauci claimed neuroradiologist Dr. Scott Atlas – who he said “doesn’t have any real insight” into the virus – is the only medical expert Trump meets with on a regular basis, but he praised White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for saying the administration is “not going to control the virus,” stating “I tip my hat to him for admitting the strategy.”

Fauci has been increasingly vocal in recent weeks as cases have risen rapidly across the country moving into the winter. His outspokenness also comes against the backdrop of an executive order Trump signed earlier this month reducing protections for government civil servants, like Fauci, and in effect making it easier to fire them. Trump and Fauci have disagreed on the severity of the pandemic, with Trump claiming the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the virus on 43 of the last 61 days – including every day since Oct. 12 – as Fauci warns the U.S. may not return to normal until 2022. “At one point during the interview, Fauci said he needed to be careful with his words because he would be blocked from doing appearances in the future,” wrote Post reporters Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb.

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The study is from May. Fill in the blanks.

Study: 20% Of Grocery Store Workers Had COVID19, Most Asymptomatic (CNN)

Grocery store work puts employees at serious risk for infection, a new study found, particularly those who have to interact with customers. These workers likely became a “significant transmission source” for Covid-19 without even knowing it because most in the study were asymptomatic. The analysis, published Thursday in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to demonstrate the significant asymptomatic infection rate, exposure risks and psychological distress grocery workers have felt during the pandemic. In the study, 20% of the 104 grocery workers tested at a store in Boston in May had positive nasal swab tests. This was a significantly higher rate of infection than what was seen in the surrounding communities, the researchers said.


Workers who dealt with customers were five times as likely to test positive for Covid-19 as colleagues in other positions. But three out of four of those who tested positive had no symptoms. “We were definitely surprised to see that there were that many people that were asymptomatic,” said Dr. Justin Yang, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a researcher at Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the study. “This is definitely very alarming as it means that retail grocery store employees are exposed to customers and sort of serve as a middleman for the virus – like a super spreader almost.” Workers in the study had tried to take precautions. Nearly all, 91%, said they wore a face mask at work and 77% said they also wore masks outside of work. Yet only about 66% said they were able to practice social distancing consistently on the job.

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“We see why government scientists want a five-week lockdown: they’re up to their eyes in grim Covid predictions.”

A Second National Lockdown Would Be Catastrophic (Sun)

A second national lockdown would be catastrophic. Thousands of cancer sufferers have died since the start of the pandemic as a direct result of missed surgeries and screenings. London ambulance crews now attend an average of 37 suicides or attempted suicides per day, compared with 22 this time last year. And it’s beyond reasonable doubt that the Stay At Home messaging led to a rise in heart attack deaths between March and July. That’s before we get to the long-term health effects of plunging thousands into unemployment.


And what would it be for? Yes, Sage modelling paints a stark picture. But real, current data from the ONS suggests Covid cases have NOT “spiralled out of control” — and deaths remain normal for this time of year. We see why government scientists want a five-week lockdown: they’re up to their eyes in grim Covid predictions. But we worry that, in their panic, they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. The virus is dangerous. But lockdowns are too.

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“This is Spain’s third extension to the state of emergency during the pandemic and will be in force until May 9..”

Anti-Lockdown Protests Grip Spain (RT)

Spain has been gripped by violence as anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in multiple cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, over the state and regional governments’ move to toughen Covid-19 restrictions. Protesters torched garbage containers and erected makeshift barricades on Gran Via, and reportedly smashed several store fronts elsewhere in central Madrid on Saturday night. When police moved in to clear the unruly gathering, they were pelted with stones and flares, and reportedly fired blank bullets, forcing the protesters to disperse into nearby streets. Meanwhile in Barcelona, police officers were pelted with stones and other projectiles, as they tried to disperse a smaller-scale anti-lockdown protest for the second consecutive night.

The regional government of Catalonia approved a new package of measures this week, including the perimeter confinement of each municipality, limiting people to their own district on weekends. Clashes also took place in the Spanish city of Logrono, where protesters burned trash containers, smashed windows and looted several shops. Heated protests were also reported in Granada, Malaga and Bilbao. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged Spaniards in a Saturday night tweet to show patience and demonstrate “responsibility, unity and sacrifice” to defeat the global pandemic, while condemning the “violent and irrational behavior” by a “small minority” of the population.

Spain’s parliament approved a six-month extension of the national state of emergency last week, granting regional authorities more power to tackle the country’s second wave of Covid-19. This is Spain’s third extension to the state of emergency during the pandemic and will be in force until May 9, but with an option for it to be lifted on March 9.

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Politicians don’t act, they re-act.

Europe Increasingly Toughens COVID19 Restrictions Amid Fierce Protests (RT)

Portugal has become the latest European state to announce new coronavirus restrictions, as Austria and England also prepare for lockdown, amid public backlash in other states forced into quarantines by the second wave of Covid-19. In Portugal, people were ordered to stay home except for work, school or essential shopping, while companies will switch to remote working wherever possible. New lockdown measures are set to take effect on November 4 and will immediately impact nearly 70 percent of the population in 121 municipalities. Prime Minister Antonio Costa, however, warned that even more areas could be added to the list if the rate of coronavirus infections continues to soar. “We have a very tough month ahead of us. It is more likely we will add more municipalities than we drop from that list next time.”

While Portugal has recorded a relatively low 2,507 deaths so far, the daily number of new infections soared over 4,000 in the recent days, with a total of 1,972 people hospitalized and the country slowly running out of intensive care units. “If nothing is done, the rise in infections will inevitably lead us to a situation of failure of our health system,” Costa added, echoing the reasoning behind the lockdown in England that was announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson just hours earlier. In England, from November 5 to at least December 2, people will only be allowed to go outside for specific reasons, including education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials or caring for the vulnerable.

Pubs and restaurants will be shut down and only allowed to sell takeaway. All non-essential trade will also stop. However, essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open. In Austria, a mass lockdown kicks off on November 3, with a curfew in place from 8pm to 6am every night until December. All restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed except for the delivery and takeaway services. Theaters, museums and gyms, as well as kindergartens and primary schools, will also close, while high schools and universities will switch to distance learning.

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The future of travel.

Netherlands Puts KLM Bailout On Hold After Pilots Reject Wage Freeze (R.)

The Dutch government on Saturday put on hold its plan to bail out KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, after pilots rejected a wage-freeze until 2025, Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said. KLM had been due to receive a 3.4 billion euro ($4.0 billion) package, including 1 billion euros in direct loans. from the government to help it cope with the damage from the coronavirus pandemic.”I find it very disappointing, but this way we cannot move forward with the loan now,” Hoekstra told journalists. The pilots’ union argued that it had already agreed to a freeze until March 2022, and could not now change that agreement at the last minute.


Ahead of the government announcement, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers had said that “without this loan, KLM will not make it through these challenging times”. In a statement, he said KLM would not immediately go bankrupt but that its reserves “cannot last more than a few months”. In a letter to parliament, Hoekstra left the door open for the bailout if all KLM employees agreed to the five-year wage freeze. “It is up to KLM and the unions to ensure that they meet the government’s demands after all,” he said, adding that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic had changed expectations about how soon airlines could bounce back. “The outlook is sombre, that makes it all the more important to have a good restructuring programme in place to work towards KLM’s long-term recovery,” he wrote.

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Creative bookkeeping.

Why China’s Official Data Don’t Add Up (ATF)

Last week China released it’s much anticipated third quarter GDP, and along with it came fresh concerns of data accuracy. While the 4.9% print missed rather exuberant market expectations of over 5% growth, the real head-turner was Beijing’s announced revisions to its fixed asset investment (FAI) data for September 2019. The revised numbers depressed last September’s FAI by 2.8 trillion yuan, thereby boosting this year’s growth figures as well as the Q3 GDP. China’s National Bureau of Statistics explained away the change in a short footnote, stating that historical data were adjusted on the basis of the “fourth national economic census unit inventory.” In August, China had reported its first positive retail sales growth of 2020 on the basis of a similar adjustment, which depressed year-ago figures by 50 billion yuan.

Predictably, this latest revision came under immediate scrutiny. The core statistical problem here is the sample’s changing characteristics and size. The NBS has a longstanding practice of only surveying firms above a minimum annual revenue. Any firm that falls below the threshold is dropped from future surveys and its results removed from past data. Alternatively, if the number of firms meeting the revenue threshold rises in a given year, the sample then becomes larger than last year’s by thousands of firms. This cherry-picking approach — which can produce trillions of yuan worth of adjustments — invalidates any claims of random, representative sampling. Furthermore, it creates a constant stream of revisions to official statistics without details on methods or the release of underlying numbers. The more fundamental challenge it underscores is that investors cannot rely on official data to reliably capture economic conditions, especially when the economy is under pressure.

[..] First, despite the announced on-year rebound in official GDP growth, CBB’s recent third-quarter data show no part of the economy registering growth anywhere near year-ago levels. Despite sequential quarterly improvement since the Chinese economy emerged from its Covid lockdown, every sector, sub-sector, region, and growth metric remains in contraction year-on-year. Second, our surveys of over 3,300 firms showed a two-track recovery in Q3. For large firms and companies based in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong the economy is accelerating. This is the recovery much of the West sees and what has become the public-face of Beijing’s rebound narrative. In the rest of country, however, the climb back is far more uneven and beset with reversals.

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“The king’s world feels far more predictable and relaxed when the chaos of human subjectivity is contained for good.”

The Great Reset for Dummies (Tessa)

The Great Reset is a massively funded, desperately ambitious, internationally coordinated project led by some of the biggest multinational corporations and financial players on the planet and carried out by cooperating state bodies and NGOs. Its soul is a combination of early 20th century science fiction, idyllic Soviet posters, the obsessiveness of a deranged accountant with a gambling addiction—and an upgraded, digital version of “Manifest Destiny.” The mathematical reason for the Great Reset is that thanks to technology, the planet has gotten small, and the infinite expansion economic model is bust—but obviously, the super wealthy want to continue staying super wealthy, and so they need a miracle, another bubble, plus a surgically precise system for managing what they perceive as “their limited resources.”

Thus, they desperately want a bubble providing new growth out of thin air—literally—while simultaneously they seek to tighten the peasants’ belts, an effort that starts with “behavioral modification,” a.k.a. resetting the western peasants’ sense of entitlement to high life standards and liberties (see awful “privilege”). The psychological reason for the Great Reset is the fear of losing control of property, the planet. I suppose, if you own billions and move trillions, your perception of reality gets funky, and everything down below looks like an ant hill that exists for you. Just ants and numbers, your assets.


Thus, the practical aim of the Great Reset is to fundamentally restructure the world’s economy and geopolitical relations based on two assumptions: one, that every element of nature and every life form is a part of the global inventory (managed by the allegedly benevolent state, which, in turn, is owned by several suddenly benevolent wealthy people, via technology)—and two, that all inventory needs to be strictly accounted for: be registered in a central database, be readable by a scanner and easily ID’ed, and be managed by AI, using the latest “science.” The goal is to count and then efficiently manage and control all resources, including people, on an unprecedented scale, with unprecedented digital anxiety and precision—all while the masters keep indulging, enjoying vast patches of conserved nature, free of unnecessary sovereign peasants and their unpredictability. The king’s world feels far more predictable and relaxed when the chaos of human subjectivity is contained for good.

Read more …

 

 

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Guardian Greenwald Assange

 

 

 

 

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Oct 302020
 


Minor White Windowsill Daydreaming Rochester NY 1958

 

A Fake Persona Laid The Groundwork For A Hunter Biden Conspiracy Deluge (NBC)
NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic (DC)
Joe Biden’s Biggest Problem Is That There Is No Vaccine For Trumpism
‘We’ve Got To Stop The Bleeding’: Democrats Sound Alarm In Miami (Pol.)
Glenn Greenwald Leaves The Intercept After Editors Refuse Biden Criticism (ZH)
The ‘Censored’ Biden Story That Made Glenn Greenwald Quit The Intercept (ZH)
FBI Initially Turned Down Purported Hunter Biden Laptop (JTN)
UPS Suddenly Locates “Lost” Biden Evidence, Returns Docs To Tucker Carlson (ZH)
Western Rewriting History Of WW2 Has Incensed Russians (Robinson)
US GDP Booms At 33.1% Rate In Q3 (CNBC)
COVID Measures ‘Monument Of Collective Hysteria And Folly’: Ex-Judge (G.)

 

 

 

 

Someone said on Twitter yesterday: “You two are creating a world characterized by illogic, distrust and uncertainty. It’s a world no one wants our kids to grow up in. It’s sad that you do this. Here’s the absurdity behind the false Christopher Balding story:”

I am one of the two this person talks about, don’t know who the other is. (S)he is referring to an NBC article yesterday, “How A Fake Persona Laid The Groundwork For A Hunter Biden Conspiracy Deluge”.

It is about the report Christopher Balding published on Oct 22, (see here), but NBC’s criticism of the “Balding report” does not address its contents, only its shape, and calls it “FAKE”. That is, Balding and others invented a person who was cited as the author of it. And yes, that is a peculiar way to publish something, but Balding has always said the real author needs protection.

Then the NBC piece attempts to mix the report with other stories, the ones derived from the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. But there is hardly any overlap. It appears to be a intentional confusion, so people will believe everything regarding Hunter Biden accusations is fake. But at the same moment, the Daily Caller reports that forensic analysis proves “NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic”. And that in turn comes one day after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said all Bobulinski material has been verified.

Christopher Balding has reacted on Twitter, his entire reaction thread is here.

Balding reacts

 

 

A Fake Persona Laid The Groundwork For A Hunter Biden Conspiracy Deluge (NBC)

One month before a purported leak of files from Hunter Biden’s laptop, a fake “intelligence” document about him went viral on the right-wing internet, asserting an elaborate conspiracy theory involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and business in China. The document, a 64-page composition that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump, appears to be the work of a fake “intelligence firm” called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents. The author of the document, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen’s profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator.

The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer said that no one by that name had ever worked for the company and that no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches. One of the original posters of the document, a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, took credit for writing parts of it when asked about it and said Aspen does not exist. Despite the document’s questionable authorship and anonymous sourcing, its claims that Hunter Biden has a problematic connection to the Communist Party of China have been used by people who oppose the Chinese government, as well as by far-right influencers, to baselessly accuse candidate Joe Biden of being beholden to the Chinese government.

The document and its spread have become part of a wider effort to smear Hunter Biden and weaken Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, which moved from the fringes of the internet to more mainstream conservative news outlets. An unverified leak of documents — including salacious pictures from what President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and a Delaware Apple repair store owner claimed to be Hunter Biden’s hard drive — were published in the New York Post on Oct. 14. Associates close to Trump, including Giuliani and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, have promised more blockbuster leaks and secrets, which have yet to materialize. The fake intelligence document, however, preceded the leak by months, and it helped lay the groundwork among right-wing media for what would become a failed October surprise: a viral pile-on of conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.

The Typhoon Investigations document was first posted in September to Intelligence Quarterly, an anonymous blog “dedicated to collecting important daily news,” according to its “about” section. Historical domain records show the blog was registered to Albert Marko, a self-described political and economic adviser, who also lists the blog on his Twitter bio. When asked about the provenance of the document, Marko said he received it from Balding. Balding, previously an associate professor at Fulbright University Vietnam who studied the Chinese economy and financial markets, posted the document on his blog on Oct. 22, seven weeks after it was initially published.

Logan Hall NBC

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“Graham said the only way the email could have been faked is if someone hacked into Google’s servers, found the private key and used it to reverse engineer the email’s DKIM signature.”

NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic (DC)

An email Hunter Biden received in April 2015 from a Burisma executive discussing an introduction to then-Vice President Joe Biden, which lies at the heart of a New York Post investigation, is unquestionably authentic, a cybersecurity expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday. The DCNF obtained a full copy of Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday. The DCNF provided Robert Graham, the founder of the cybersecurity firm Errata Security, with a copy of the email and its metadata for forensic analysis. Graham, who has been cited as a cybersecurity expert in The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Wired, Engadget and other news and technology outlets, told the DCNF that he used a cryptographic signature found in the email’s metadata to validate that Vadym Pozharsky, an advisor to Burisma’s board of directors, emailed Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015.

In the email, Pozharsky thanked Hunter Biden for “inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.” The New York Post first reported the email in October, describing it as a “smoking-gun” showing that Hunter Biden had introduced his father to the Burisma executive in 2015. The email was sent less than a year before Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor who was reportedly investigating the gas company in return for a $1 billion loan guarantee. Graham previously told the DCNF that emails sent from Gmail, such as Pozharski’s message to Hunter Biden, can be “absolutely verified beyond a shadow of a doubt” by testing its contents against the unique DKIM signature found in its metadata.


Graham used the DKIM signature within the email to verify with a private key on Google’s servers that the sender, recipient, subject, date and body of the message that the DCNF obtained from Giuliani were unchanged from when the email was originally sent in April 2015. Graham said the only way the email could have been faked is if someone hacked into Google’s servers, found the private key and used it to reverse engineer the email’s DKIM signature.

Daily Caller vs NBC

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“America is past the “I have a plan” phase. A sizable contingent of regular citizens have decided either that the disease is a “hoax,” or that it’s not worth altering their everyday lives for in any major way.”

Joe Biden’s Biggest Problem Is That There Is No Vaccine For Trumpism

As the 2020 presidential election hurls itself at us, there is one thing upon which the far right and far left agree: The COVID-19 pandemic should be over within days after Nov. 4. The right says the “deep state” is holding on to a secret vaccine that it will introduce to the world once Donald Trump is thrown out of office. The left says that Trump is the primary cause of the virus’ spread, and that with the biological weapon in chief out of office, people will soon be out safely ingesting each other’s disgusting germs.Alas, despite these extremes being so far out there that they meet again in the back, neither is right. Trump is not entirely to blame for the virus’ spread, and Joe Biden’s election will not be a panacea in stopping it.

Sure, Biden has a “plan” to solve COVID-19, and it contains all the commonsense proposals: vaccine funding, paid leave, more protective equipment and more funding for testing. But America is past the “I have a plan” phase. A sizable contingent of regular citizens have decided either that the disease is a “hoax,” or that it’s not worth altering their everyday lives for in any major way. In other words, COVID-19 is a cultural problem, not a governmental one. It is the cultural component in which Trump has failed America the most. Over the summer, it appeared the virus was waning — businesses had quickly ramped up production of masks and ventilators needed in hospitals and emergency rooms and limited state shutdowns were being enforced. Infection rates were dropping around the country.

Then, in the wake of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd’s at the hands of police, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest, effectively signaling the end of lockdowns. Science professionals who urged staying home were silent on the protests, leading those on the right to throw up their hands and say, “Well, I guess lockdown is over.” That is where Trump’s mismanagement has cost America. In the early days of the virus, Trump said all the wrong things, telling Americans it was just “one person coming in from China” and it would “disappear one day, it’s like a miracle.” And speaking of miracles, he vowed to have churches open for Easter.

Say we were to give Trump some benefit of the doubt — in the early months of the spread, everyone was still figuring out what was happening, and rapid spread would have occurred under any president. [..] Unless Biden can legislate trust in the media and politicians, the pandemic will stretch well into his presidency. The reality is a sizable portion of America is carrying on, waiting for a vaccine — which, ironically, many of them won’t take because it will probably be Joe Biden at the helm of the country when it is released. And sadly, there is no vaccine for Trumpism.

Read more …

“To date, Republicans have turned out 59 percent of their voters in Miami-Dade and Democrats have turned out 53 percent, a 6-point margin. That’s twice the margin Republicans had at this point in 2016..“

‘We’ve Got To Stop The Bleeding’: Democrats Sound Alarm In Miami (Pol.)

Democrats are sounding the alarm about weak voter turnout rates in Florida’s biggest county, Miami-Dade, where a strong Republican showing is endangering Joe Biden’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state. No Democrat can win Florida without a huge turnout and big winning margins here to offset losses elsewhere in the state. But Democrats are turning out at lower rates than Republicans and at lower rates than at this point in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won by 29 percentage points here and still lost the state to Donald Trump. One particular area of concern is the relative share of ballots cast by young voters of color and less-reliable Democratic voters.

Part of the problem, according to interviews with a dozen Democratic elected officials and operatives, is the Biden campaign‘s decision to discourage field staff from knocking on doors during the pandemic and its subsequent delay in greenlighting — and funding — a return to door-to-door canvassing. “We did not get the kind of funding for different vendors who would do that type of work until late in the campaign,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson, a party institution who represents Miami’s heavily Black congressional district. Wilson said the good news is that Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, is working with her on a turnout event for this weekend geared toward young Black men.


But the veteran congresswoman said there are still skilled operatives in her district who excel at turnout work who have yet to get approved by the campaign, a puzzling delay for an operation that raised a record $363 million the month before. “I screamed. Hollered. I called. I lobbied from the top to the bottom,” Wilson said of her efforts to get turnout operations started in the community, including sending written proposals to Biden’s campaign and having virtual Zoom meetings with his advisers.

Read more …

The election, actually the entire Trump presidency, has brought out the best and the worst in US journalism. It will never be the same.

Glenn Greenwald Leaves The Intercept After Editors Refuse Biden Criticism (ZH)

The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald resigned from the outlet on Thursday, after ‘editors censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.’ Greenwald writes at his new home (greenwald.substack.com):”The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct. Not content to simply prevent publication of this article at the media outlet I co-founded, these Intercept editors also demanded that I refrain from exercising a separate contractual right to publish this article with any other publication.


I had no objection to their disagreement with my views of what this Biden evidence shows: as a last-ditch attempt to avoid being censored, I encouraged them to air their disagreements with me by writing their own articles that critique my perspectives and letting readers decide who is right, the way any confident and healthy media outlet would. But modern media outlets do not air dissent; they quash it. So censorship of my article, rather than engagement with it, was the path these Biden-supporting editors chose.”Apparently he’s also blocked from publishing the article elsewhere, though he’s “asked my lawyer to get in touch with FLM to discuss how best to terminate my contract.”

People who quit
https://twitter.com/APompliano/status/1321915427522576384

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“Rather than condemn Biden for ignoring these questions — the natural instinct of a healthy press when it comes to a presidential election — journalists have instead led the way in concocting excuses to justify his silence.”

The ‘Censored’ Biden Story That Made Glenn Greenwald Quit The Intercept (ZH)

Publication by the New York Post two weeks ago of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, relating to Vice President Joe Biden’s work in Ukraine, and subsequent articles from other outlets concerning the Biden family’s pursuit of business opportunities in China, provoked extraordinary efforts by a de facto union of media outlets, Silicon Valley giants and the intelligence community to suppress these stories. One outcome is that the Biden campaign concluded, rationally, that there is no need for the front-running presidential candidate to address even the most basic and relevant questions raised by these materials. Rather than condemn Biden for ignoring these questions — the natural instinct of a healthy press when it comes to a presidential election — journalists have instead led the way in concocting excuses to justify his silence.

After the Post’s first article, both that newspaper and other news outlets have published numerous other emails and texts purportedly written to and from Hunter reflecting his efforts to induce his father to take actions as Vice President beneficial to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, on whose board of directors Hunter sat for a monthly payment of $50,000, as well as proposals for lucrative business deals in China that traded on his influence with his father. Individuals included in some of the email chains have confirmed the contents’ authenticity. One of Hunter’s former business partners, Tony Bubolinski, has stepped forward on the record to confirm the authenticity of many of the emails and to insist that Hunter along with Joe Biden’s brother Jim were planning on including the former Vice President in at least one deal in China.

And GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who appeared in one of the published email chains, appeared to confirm the authenticity as well, though he refused to answer follow-up questions about it. Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”

But nobody claimed that any such deals had been consummated — so the conclusion that one had not been does not negate the story. Moreover, some texts and emails whose authenticity has not been disputed state that Hunter was adamant that any discussions about the involvement of the Vice President be held only verbally and never put in writing.

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And then sat on it for a year.

FBI Initially Turned Down Purported Hunter Biden Laptop (JTN)

The family of the Delaware shop owner who says he came into possession of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden first tried to turn over the computer to the FBI in summer 2019 but was rebuffed, only to have agents return months later during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings, his lawyer said Thursday night. In a lengthy statement to Just the News, attorney Brian Della Rocca provided a detailed timeline of the actions his client, John Paul Mac Isaac, says he took in trying to get authorities to investigate the laptop. The lawyer also decried public figures on both sides of the aisle for politicizing the episode and for attacking the Delaware computer repairman without having the facts.

Mac Isaac “unwittingly became the target of a smear campaign by doing what he thought was right,” Della Rocca said. “John Paul is not a right-wing fanatic, nor is he a Russian hacker.” In the statement that was originally drafted to be an op-ed, Della Rocca made several new revelations about the laptop that has stirred worldwide political intrigue on the eve of the American presidential election, an FBI investigation, and a news media and social media censorship campaign. Among the revelations: • A man claiming to be Hunter Biden dropped off three laptops on April 12, 2019 to Mac Isaac’s shop to be repaired, and returned two days later with an external hard drive. The man believed to be Hunter Biden eventually abandoned one of the laptops and the external hard drive without paying for them. • Mac Isaac’s father, a retired Air Force colonel, first tried to provide a copy of the laptop to an FBI office in Albuquerque, N.M., in summer 2019, but the bureau turned him away.


• FBI agents from Albuquerque, N.M., contacted the father in October 2019, as impeachment proceedings were ongoing in Washington, to discuss the laptop and then to interview the younger Mac Isaac in Delaware. A few weeks later, FBI agents in Delaware seized the original laptop from Mac Isaac. • On Oct. 13 of this year, Hunter Biden’s attorney contacted Mac Isaac to discuss the hard drive and followed up with an email but no further action. Three people familiar with the matter told Just the News on Thursday that the FBI has an ongoing investigation into business transactions involving firms associated with Hunter Biden and other business associates. The investigation began in 2019 around the time the FBI followed up on Mac Isaac’s concerns and has since expanded to issues raised by an IRS whistleblower complaint filed a year ago. The probe got new evidence in recent days when Hunter Biden’s former business partner Tony Bobulinski turned over documents and other materials during an FBI interview, one person with knowledge of the case said.

Read more …

This story just gets crazier.

UPS Suddenly Locates “Lost” Biden Evidence, Returns Docs To Tucker Carlson (ZH)

Delivery giant UPS confirmed Thursday it found a lost trove of documents that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said would provide revelations in the ever-growing scandal involving Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his overseas business dealings. UPS Senior Public Relations Manager Matthew O’Connor told Business Insider on Thursday afternoon that the documents are located and are being sent to Carlson. “After an extensive search, we have found the contents of the package and are arranging for its return,” he said in a statement. “UPS will always focus first on our customers, and will never stop working to solve issues and make things right. We work hard to ensure every package is delivered, including essential goods, precious family belongings and critical healthcare.”

It came after Glenn Zaccara, UPS’s corporate media relations director, confirmed Carlson used the company to ship the materials before they were lost. “The package was reported with missing contents as it moved within our network,” Zaccara said before they were located. “UPS is conducting an urgent investigation.” During his Wednesday night broadcast, Carlson said that a UPS employee notified them that their package “was open and empty … apparently, it had been opened.” “The Biden documents never arrived in Los Angeles. Tuesday morning we received word from our shipping company that our package had been opened and the contents were missing,” Carlson also remarked. “The documents had disappeared.”


On Tuesday night, Carlson interviewed former Hunter Biden associate Tony Bobulinski, who claimed that the former Democratic vice president could be compromised by the Chinese Communist Party due to Hunter and brother James Biden’s business dealings in the country. Joe Biden has not responded to Bobulinski’s allegations. Last week during his debate with President Donald Trump, he said he had “not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”

Read more …

Paul Robinson is a professor at the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history, and military ethics.

Western Rewriting History Of WW2 Has Incensed Russians (Robinson)

It used to be simple: The Nazis and their allies were the bad guys, and the Americans, British, and Soviets were the good guys. Then contemporary politics took over and the narrative around WW2 became a modern battleground. The conflict ended 75 years ago. But the struggle over its history has perhaps never been as intense as it is today. In the first few decades after the war, the interpretation of it was fairly clear, and almost universally accepted: The war was a product of German aggression and the extreme ideology of the Nazis. The Germans were the criminals; and the peoples of the Allied powers were the victims. Quantitatively, the largest group of these victims was in Eastern Europe – Jews and citizens of the Soviet Union, who the Nazis killed in the millions.

From the mid-1980s, a new narrative began to creep into public discourse in the West. This maintained that Nazism was not uniquely evil nor solely responsible for the war. Rather Nazism and communism were equally morally repugnant, and Germany and the Soviet Union were mutually responsible for the tragedy. The USSR, rather than being a victim of aggression, was itself one of the prime aggressors of the era. At first, this revisionist view was restricted to a narrow group of academics. Most notable was the German historian Ernst Nolte, who in 1986 provoked the Historikerstreit (‘Historians’ Dispute’) in what was then West Germany, by suggesting that the genocidal campaign of the Nazis was just one of many such campaigns by other states, most notably the Soviet Union, in an overall ‘age of genocide’.

This theme was then popularized by certain other historians of an anti-Soviet, and later anti-Russian, bent. But what really gave it legs was the collapse of communism and the rise of nationalism among states of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. In countries such as Poland, Latvia, and post-2014 Ukraine, nationalist leaders have sought to promote their own legitimacy by adopting a strong anti-Russian line, and historical revisionism has proven to be an essential part of their toolkit. As part of this process, history has been rewritten to portray the Soviet Union as having occupied and oppressed the nations of Eastern Europe during World War II, to suggest a moral equivalence between the Nazis and the communists, and in extreme cases to portray locals who fought alongside the Germans as heroes rather than collaborators. For instance, in Ukraine.

[..] It was in this context that Russian President Vladimir Putin this week denounced any attempt to equate the USSR and Nazi Germany. This followed a complaint by Elena Yampolskaya, a member of the Russian parliament, who noted that two books had recently been published in Russia which suggested similarities between Nazism and communism, and in one case argued that “the Soviets were worse than the Nazis.” Putin agreed with Yampolskaya’s complaint that this was “absolutely unacceptable.” The Russian Federation should pass legislation similar to that of other countries which criminalizes denial of the Armenian genocide, Putin said, adding that, “We will not allow this heroic page in history to be crossed out.”

Read more …

Good for Trump in the election?

US GDP Booms At 33.1% Rate In Q3 (CNBC)

Coming off the worst quarter in history, the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace ever in the third quarter as a nation battered by an unprecedented pandemic started to put itself back together, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Third-quarter gross domestic product, a measure of the total goods and services produced in the July-to-September period, expanded at a 33.1% annualized pace, according to the department’s initial estimate for the period. The gain came after a 31.4% plunge in the second quarter and was better than the 32% estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The previous post-World War II record was the 16.7% burst in the first quarter of 1950.

Markets reacted positively to the news, with Wall Street erasing a loss at the open and turning mostly positive. “It’s obviously good news that the economy bounced back in the third quarter,” said Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein. “There’s still a lot of work to do here and the pace of improvement … is going to slow. The stimulus programs that provided much of the economic lift last quarter have expired or are expiring. Fiscal support is diminishing. That is part of the reason that the pace of growth is going to slow from here.” Increased consumption along with sold gains in business and residential investment as well as exports fueled the third-quarter rebound. Decreases in government spending following the expiration of the CARES Act rescue funding subtracted from GDP.

The powerful growth pace came after states across the country shut down large swaths of activity in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11. [..] While the news on Q3 was good for the $21.2 trillion economy, the U.S. faces a tougher road ahead as coronavirus cases increase and worries grow over the health and economic impacts. Nearly half the 22 million jobs lost in March and April remain unfilled and the unemployment rate remains at 7.9%, more than double its pre-pandemic level as 12.6 million Americans are still out of work.


“This is going to be seized upon by both ends of the political spectrum as either evidence of the strength of the post-lockdown economic rebound or a cursory warning that the gains could be short-lived,” said James McCann, senior global economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “The reality is that the GDP numbers demonstrate that the U.S. economy did indeed rebound strongly as lockdown measures were lifted.”

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Jonathan Sumption, former British supreme court justice, slams ‘cavalier use of coercive powers’ and ‘loss of freedom’.

COVID Measures ‘Monument Of Collective Hysteria And Folly’: Ex-Judge (G.)

The government has deliberately stoked fear over coronavirus while behaving like an authoritarian regime relying on police state tactics, according to the former supreme court justice Jonathan Sumption. In his most forceful critique to date of the government’s handling of the pandemic, the outspoken lawyer condemned the way “the British state exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted”. Delivering the Cambridge Freshfields annual law lecture, Lord Sumption said: “The ease with which people could be terrorised into surrendering basic freedoms which are fundamental to our existence … came as a shock to me in March 2020.”

He is not the only former judge recently to lament the loss of effective parliamentary scrutiny of emergency Covid powers. Last month Lady Hale, former president of the supreme court, alleged that MPs and peers had surrendered their role during the coronavirus pandemic.In his address Sumption said the emergency measures were “the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country”. He stated: “I do not doubt the seriousness of the epidemic, but I believe that history will look back on the measures taken to contain it as a monument of collective hysteria and governmental folly.”

The government, he noted, had already tried to avoid parliamentary scrutiny during Brexit by proroguing parliament, a procedure subsequently ruled unlawful by the supreme court last year. “Governments hold power in Britain on the sufferance of the elected chamber of the legislature,” Sumption argued. “Without that we are no democracy. The present government has a different approach. It seeks to derive its legitimacy directly from the people, bypassing their elected representatives.” Sage, the government’s panel of expert scientific advisers, he said, had this year noted: “Citizens should be treated as rational actors, capable of taking decisions for themselves and managing personal risk.” That warning, Sumption said, had been ignored.

[..] The police had repeatedly exceeded their powers, he suggested. “When I ventured to criticise them in a BBC interview for acting beyond their powers I received a letter from the Derbyshire police commissioner objecting to my remarks on the ground that in a crisis such things were necessary. The implication was that in a crisis the police were entitled to do whatever they thought fit, without being unduly concerned about their legal powers. That is my definition of a police state.” By using “propaganda”, he said, the government had “to some extent been able to create its own public opinion – fear was deliberately stoked up by the government”.

Read more …

 

 

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Taiwan COVID

 

 

 

 

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Oct 282020
 


Gustav Klimt Pine forest I 1901

 

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)
Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)
UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)
Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)
White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)
Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)
Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)
How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)
Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)
Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)
The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)
‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)
Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)
Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Kim Dotcom Joe Biden

 

 

“…a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)

I have some questions for former friends who have dumped me on account of my support for Mr. Trump’s re-election — which is mostly a vote to prevent the Democratic Party and its fellow travelers from running the government. On the whole, these former friends are college-educated, mature in experience, and cultured. Some of them are well-acquainted with history, which is to say, they ought to know better than to support the obviously illiberal motives of the political Left. Are you against the principle of free speech? The Democratic Party is. They used to be champions of the First Amendment; now they want to make it conditional on ideas and sentiments they support. Contrary ideas are to be labeled “hate speech,” and suppressed, along with anything that might hurt somebody’s feelings.

How did you come to such a complete misunderstanding of what free speech means? Namely, that a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” I will answer my own question partially by saying: you have been programmed against free speech by what used to be the very vehicles of it, the newspapers and TV News channels, which have, amazingly, come out against freedom of the press and turned into propaganda outlets for Woke Progressivism and its illiberal agenda — thereby inadvertently committing suicide of the entire profession. We’ve seen this acted-out most vividly just the past week in the social media companies’ efforts to suppress all news of the Biden family’s global business operations, along with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and other leading news organizations that Americans used to depend on to know what was happening in the nation.

This is especially unforgivable during a national election. Did you support the movement on campus in recent years to shut down events featuring speakers such as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve), Heather Mac Donald of City Journal, Dinesh D’Souza, and many others who represented not-so-Woke ideas that “offended” you? Since when are your feelings so special that they negate the open exchange of ideas in the places that used to be dedicated to it, the universities? Should higher education only entertain ideas that you and your cohorts approve of? What if, in some future, a different cohort gains control of higher education and seeks to exclude your ideas on the grounds that they’re “offensive” (i.e. they just don’t like them)?

Are you in favor of a politicized Department of Justice and CIA? That is what the Democratic Party’s Resistance League deliberately brought about during the 2016 election, and they continue to promote it. Is it okay for bureaucrats to break the law to disable their political adversaries? That was the essence of the RussiaGate ruse. Former employees of those agencies, such as ex-CIA chief John Brennan and Andrew Weissmann, who ran the Mueller investigation, to this day still hype “Russian collusion” falsehoods to deflect attention from their own misdeeds. You let them get away with that.

Read more …

201 participants, median age 44, 70% women, large majority not high risk. Only 18% hospitalized. Median time 140 days from first symptom: 99% suffered at least four symptoms. 42% suffered at least ten. In 66%, injuries in at least one organ, in 25% in at least two organs.

Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)

Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has disproportionately affected older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. Research has focused on short-term outcomes in hospital, and single organ involvement. Consequently, impact of long COVID (persistent symptoms three months post-infection) across multiple organs in low-risk individuals is yet to be assessed.

Methods An ongoing prospective, longitudinal, two-centre, observational study was performed in individuals symptomatic after recovery from acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Symptoms and organ function (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen) were assessed by standardised questionnaires (EQ-5D-5L, Dyspnoea-12), blood investigations and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging, defining single and multi-organ impairment by consensus definitions.

Findings Between April and September 2020, 201 individuals (mean age 44 (SD 11.0) years, 70% female, 87% white, 31% healthcare workers) completed assessments following SARS-CoV-2 infection (median 140, IQR 105-160 days after initial symptoms). The prevalence of pre-existing conditions (obesity: 20%, hypertension: 6%; diabetes: 2%; heart disease: 4%) was low, and only 18% of individuals had been hospitalised with COVID-19. Fatigue (98%), muscle aches (88%), breathlessness (87%), and headaches (83%) were the most frequently reported symptoms. Ongoing cardiorespiratory (92%) and gastrointestinal (73%) symptoms were common, and 42% of individuals had ten or more symptoms.

There was evidence of mild organ impairment in heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%). Single (66%) and multi-organ (25%) impairment was observed, and was significantly associated with risk of prior COVID-19 hospitalisation (p<0.05).

Interpretation In a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of individuals have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. There are implications not only for burden of long COVID but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities.

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It’s the combination of the article above, and this one, that has me thinking. Both talk about what happens in a 6 month period or longer.

UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)

Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, a study found on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community. Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the British population following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April. Their study found that antibody prevalence fell by a quarter, from 6% of the population around the end of June to just 4.4% in September. That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.

Although immunity to the novel coronavirus is a complex and murky area, and may be assisted by T cells, as well as B cells that can stimulate the quick production of antibodies following re-exposure to the virus, the researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring. “We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know that antibodies on their own are quite protective,” Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London told reporters. “On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”

Those for whom COVID-19 was confirmed with a gold standard PCR test had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, compared to people who had been asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection. There was no change in the levels of antibodies seen in healthcare workers, possibly due to repeated exposure to the virus. The study backs up findings from similar surveys in Germany which found the vast majority of people didn’t have COVID-19 antibodies, even in hotspots for the disease, and that antibodies might fade in those who do.

Read more …

“The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency..”

Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)

Doctors across Spain have walked out on Tuesday in what media outlets have called the first medical strike to rock the country in 25 years. As the coronavirus pandemic rages across Spain, where the Health Ministry reported another 18,418 new daily cases on Tuesday, doctors are beginning the strike, which was called in defiance of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s latest emergency order, which was implemented on Sunday. The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency, which could be in place for months. Doctors complained that the new law violated their rights, and compromised the standard of care for patients, as doctors would end up working in an area they weren’t specialized in.


The strike will continue indefinitely, with doctors set to continue striking on the last Tuesday of every month until a deal has been reached. For the first time, 200,000 new cases were confirmed in Spain over the previous two weeks, and cases on Tuesday were up 33% compared with the prior week. And over the last 24 hours, another 267 people have died. “The Health Ministry hasn’t even dignified us with a meeting to try and get us to call off the strike,” he told Spanish health journal iSanidad. Spain’s hospitals harbor nearly 16,700 active COVID-19 patients – up more than 600 compared to Monday, with one quarter of all the country’s ICU units used to treat those with an infectious disease.

Read more …

The day before, Trump was ahead.

White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)

Democrat Joe Biden has edged back ahead in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch survey. The latest national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Biden earning 49% support to President Trump’s 47%. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, while two percent (2%) are still undecided. Yesterday, Trump was ahead for the first time since mid-September – by a minimal 48% to 47%. The race has been tightening since early in the month.


Rasmussen Reports has been releasing White House Watch weekly on Wednesdays since the beginning of July. But starting this week, White House Watch will be posted daily at 10:30 am Eastern. Trump earns 82% support among Republicans. Biden has 78% of the Democrat vote and leads by three among voters not affiliated with either major party. The survey of 1,500 Likely Voters was conducted October 22 and 25-26, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Trump: VOTE

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FYI.

Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)

We predict that President Trump is going to win the 2020 presidential election — and win big. While the majority of the polls suggest that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading, or at best that it’s close, those polls suffer from at least three problems. First, the tone of the questions. There is significant evidence from behavioral psychology that suggests that the way a question is framed predetermines the range of potential answers. In fact, Gallup has found that respondents can answer very differently to questions with the same topic even in the same survey based on the language that’s used. And the use of metaphors can even dwarf the importance of pre-existing differences between Republicans and Democrats.

One of the reasons respondents do that is because of a tendency to give socially desirable answers, which was the case especially during the 2016 election. Most people don’t like confrontation, so the easiest, albeit not necessarily the best, solution is to avoid it. Right now, saying that you’re voting for Trump/Pence is often not the socially desirable answer. In fact, a recent poll by the Cato Institute suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that the political climate is sufficiently harsh that they don’t want to give their genuine opinion about politics.

Second, the sample of respondents. Who responds depends on many factors, including the medium (e.g., landline versus cellphone), the location, the sample size and demographic factors. Moreover, the pool of respondents is not necessarily the same as the pool of likely voters. Even though election polls all contain a margin of error, that margin of error is unreliable if the underlying sample does not reflect the population. Researchers have also identified self-screening as the major contributing factor to the polling failures during the 2016 election cycle. For example, distrust of pollsters also leads to lower response rates for Trump supporters. Rasmussen finds that 17 percent of likely U.S. voters who “strongly approve” of the job President Trump is doing say they are less likely to let others know how they intend to vote in the upcoming election.

By comparison, only 8 percent of those who “strongly disapprove” of the president’s performance say the same. While proper sampling methodology matters more than the size, having a representative sample with enough people still helps considerably. Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group notes how their work to create minimum samples sizes of 1,000 voters, added to their work to doggedly pursue the “quiet Trump voter,” led to Trafalgar being one of the most successful battleground polling firms in the country in 2016. Cahaly explains that “we don’t do a state with less than a thousand. You see these polls, 400, 500, 600 people for a state. I don’t buy that. Your margin of error is far too high.”

Third, the content of the current news cycle. What’s going on in a particular moment in time can influence voter attitudes, particularly in swing states. For example, the recent revelation of Hunter Biden’s hidden emails on his laptop, coupled with the link to his father, has come at an opportune time for the president. Moreover, if the economic recovery continues, the good news may continue putting wind in Trump’s sails.

Leaflet left on reporters’ chairs in Airforce One.

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Crickets in the MSM.

Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)

In a lengthy interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, former Biden family business associate Tony Bobulinski accused Joe Biden of a “blatant lie” in denying any familiarity with his son Hunter’s business undertakings, claiming he himself met with Biden on two separate occasions to discuss prospective ventures into Chinese markets. Bobulinski painted a picture of the Democratic presidential nominee as actively aware in broad strokes of plans for the Biden family to enter into a business partnership with Chinese nationals closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army — yet with Biden himself maintaining enough distance from the operational details in face-to-face encounters to preserve what his brother Jim Biden would characterize as “plausible deniability.”


Biden’s family members, Bobuilnski claimed, were “putting their entire family legacy on the line” in their dealings with the Chinese. “They knew exactly what they were doing,” he said. They were dealing with a Chinese owned enterprise … that had strong financial support and political support from the Chinese Communist Party. That’s how it was presented to me. That’s not my own words. That’s how they presented it to me and read me in on it.” Bobulinski made headlines last week when he claimed to have firsthand evidence of Biden’s involvement in those deals. “I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business,” Bobulinski said in a statement. “I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true.”

Tucker Bobulinkski

In a largely unbroken 45-minute interview with Carlson on Tuesday, Bobulinski further went on the record, telling the Fox host that he was approached by the Biden family and several associates in 2017 in order to help manage a business venture in China. Bobulinski said he met with Biden at the Milken Institute’s 2017 Global Conference in Los Angeles. “They were wining and dining me to get me more engaged,” he told Carlson. “I didn’t request to meet with Joe,” Bobulinski said. “They requested I meet with Joe.” Bobulinski, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, said he met with Biden twice in the course of his association with the family. Biden reportedly told Bobulinski to “keep an eye on Hunter and [Biden’s brother] James” during their dealings.


Chinese officials, Bobulinski said, looked at him as “irrelevant,” seeing “the Biden family” as the main focus of their dealings. He claimed that the Bidens received a $5 million no-collateral, no-interest loan from Chinese officials. Bobulinski was motivated to come forward, he told Carlson, after California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff denounced recently leaked emails involving Hunter Biden as “Russian disinformation.” That allegation, Bobulinski told Carlson, also smeared his own family’s name. “I was at the end of the rope,” he said. “I called [Biden associate] Rob Walker. I told him if that statement wasn’t retracted by midnight on Sunday then I was going on record.”

Tucker Bobulinkski 8 Minutes

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“It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.”

How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)

Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden was again insisting that the scandal involving Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation despite the direct refutation of that claim by the FBI. No mainstream reporter bothered to ask the simple question of whether this was his son’s laptop and emails, including emails clearly engaging in an influence peddling scheme and referring to Joe Biden’s knowledge. Instead, media has maintained a consistent and narrow focus. Indeed, in her interview, Leslie Stahl immediately dismissed any “scandal” involving Hunter in an interview with the President on 60 Minutes. It was an open example of what I previously noted in a column: “After all, an allegation is a scandal only if it is damaging. No coverage, no damage, no scandal.”

In her interview with Joe Biden, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell did not push Biden to simply confirm that the emails were fake or whether he did in fact meet with Hunter’s associates (despite his prior denials). Instead O’Donnell asked: “Do you believe the recent leak of material allegedly from Hunter’s computer is part of a Russian disinformation campaign?” Biden responded with the same answer that has gone unchallenged dozens of times: “From what I’ve read and know the intelligence community warned the president that Giuliani was being fed disinformation from the Russians. And we also know that Putin is trying very hard to spread disinformation about Joe Biden. And so when you put the combination of Russia, Giuliani– the president, together– it’s just what it is. It’s a smear campaign because he has nothing he wants to talk about. What is he running on? What is he running on?”

It did not matter that the answer omitted the key assertion that this was not Hunter’s laptop or emails or that he did not leave the computer with this store. Recently, Washington Post columnist Thomas Rid wrote said the quiet part out loud by telling the media: “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.” Let that sink in for a second. It does not matter if these are real emails and not Russian disinformation. They probably are real but should be treated as disinformation even though American intelligence has repeatedly rebutted that claim. It does not even matter that the FBI has seized the computer as evidence in a criminal fraud investigation or that a Biden confidant is now giving his allegations to the FBI under threat of criminal charges if he lies to investigators. It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.

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Times change. RussiaRussia has become indispensible.

Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently identified Russia as the number one threat to America but in 2012, when he was vice president, Biden called then-GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney “out of touch” for taking the same position. Biden said Romney views the “world through a Cold War prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.” Biden slammed Romney for referring to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe,” which was greeted with laughter from members of the audience watching Biden’s address in April 2012. “Governor Romney is mired in a Cold War mindset,” Biden said in a foreign policy speech at New York University in 2012.

Biden referred to Romney’s criticism of Obama’s handling of the New START treaty, which was a nuclear arms control treaty reached with Russia in 2010. “Governor Romney was part of a very small group of Cold War holdovers who never met an arms control treaty that he likes,” he said. “He was way out of the mainstream on this issue, unless you think that’s just political hyperbole.” “He acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary,” Biden said in an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in 2012. “I don’t know where he has been. We have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us on Iran. One of only two ways we’re getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia … if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf, they’ll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. This is not 1956.”

In October 2012, Obama mocked Romney’s position on Russia as the top threat to the U.S. during a presidential debate. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said. In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening, Biden said Russia is the greatest threat to the U.S. “The biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia,” he said.

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“The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.”

Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)

A search of Justice Department databases reveals that Hunter Biden failed to register as a foreign agent while promoting the interests of foreign business partners in Washington, including brokering meetings with his father and other government officials, and RealClear Investigations has learned at least one Senate committee is investigating whether Joe Biden’s son violated federal laws requiring disclosure of such foreign contacts. The Obama administration did not prosecute Hunter Biden for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, despite its much more aggressive pursuit of FARA cases relative to other administrations — including its opening of criminal investigations on no fewer than six Trump campaign advisers in 2016.

One of them, Paul Manafort, ended up in prison in part for failing to publicly disclose his lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian clients and partners. Newly discovered April 2015 emails show Hunter Biden appeared to be helping a Ukrainian energy executive meet with and lobby his father, who was vice president at the time. Hunter, who held a lucrative seat on the board of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma at the time, also sought meetings with State Department officials. None of these contacts was publicly disclosed in government filings, according to a search of both FARA and Lobbying Disclosure Act records, which show Hunter registered as a federal lobbyist in 2001 and stopped filing disclosures in 2008. In contrast, Hunter’s former law partner and fellow lobbyist, William Oldaker, has registered as a foreign agent under FARA. Oldaker is Joe Biden’s longtime campaign lawyer and fundraiser.

At least one Senate committee is actively investigating Hunter’s compliance with the FARA law. Though it has not sent a criminal referral to Justice, RCI has also learned that a public-interest law firm is preparing a complaint to Justice regarding Hunter Biden’s arranging meetings between his foreign contacts and his father when he was vice president. Former investigators and prosecutors say the uneven enforcement of the federal statute smacks of politics. “It’s a double standard, 100%,” said former assistant FBI director Chris Swecker, who led public corruption cases out of Washington. Added Swecker, who also served as a prosecutor: “It’s strange how in this election there is no curiosity whatsoever about foreign influence on a potential president of the United States, especially from this country’s greatest threat — China.”

[..] In a May 2017 email, their mutual business partner, James Biden, sent his nephew Hunter, Bobulinski and other partners a list of friendly American political contacts whom they could exploit to advance the proposed joint venture with their Chinese partners. Among the “key domestic contacts” were: Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is now Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate. (FARA records show James Biden has not registered as a foreign agent, either.) In an earlier email that same month, Hunter sought to avoid registering as a foreign agent as part of the venture. “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents,” he told Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, and suggested setting up a U.S. shell company to work around it. The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

@RobertPLewis: “I didn’t think the audio from Hunter Biden’s laptop could be worse than the child endangerment pics, but it is. Verbal admission from Hunter that he knew he and his dad were in bed & business with Chinese intelligence. Bruh. That’s treason”

Hunter: F*cking spy chief of China

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“Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something.”

The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)

So, according to the corporate media, this is it for Russian-backed Hitler. Game over. The walls are closing in. It’s the last days of the Trumpian Reich. Get those vuvuzelas ready! Yes, apparently, the American people, who were all a bunch of Putin-worshipping, white-supremacist neo-Nazis when they elected Trump in 2016, have come to their senses and are going to deliver a landslide victory to “Slappy” Joe Biden and bring down the curtain on this “Age of Darkness,” or save the world from “racial Orwellianism” or the “bottomless pit of facsism,” or whatever. White supremacy will be defeated and globalization will rise from the ashes! Decency will be restored! Love will trump hate! Black lives will matter!

Slappy and Kamala will immediately fly down and liberate the concentration camps. Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something. Exuberant liberals will pour into the streets, chanting unintelligible slogans through their designer masks and plastic head bubbles. OK, sure, the global economy will be ruined, and millions of people will be unemployed, and homeless, or will have needlessly died, so that GloboCap could simulate an apocalyptic global plague, and foment racialized civil unrest, and just generally create an atmosphere of confusion, depression, and paranoia, but the War on Populism will finally be over … and GloboCap will start to “Build Back Better!”

OK, it won’t be “better” right away. As our friends at the World Economic Forum note: “Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the world is off-balance – and it will remain so for years to come. Far from settling into a ‘new normal’, we should expect a Covid19 domino effect, triggering further disruptions – positive as well as negative – over the decade ahead. The wave of civil unrest that spread across America and beyond recently may be one example …” So, all right, maybe not quite the end of the War on Populism, but at least a new stage of it. A chaotic, destructive, violent stage of it, which will require a lot of “emergency measures” and will end up radically transforming the planet into one big pathologized-totalitarian marketplace.

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Stephen Roach knows a thing or two.

‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)

Just as China led the world in economic recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, it is playing a similar role today. Its post-Covid rebound is gathering momentum amid a developed world that remains on shaky ground. Unfortunately, this is a bitter pill for many to swallow – especially in the United States, where demonisation of China has reached epic proportions. The two crises are, of course, different. Wall Street was ground zero for the 2008 crisis, while the Covid-19 pandemic was spawned in the wet markets of Wuhan. But in both cases, China’s crisis-response strategy was far more effective than that deployed by the US. In the five years following the onset of the 2008 crisis, annual real GDP growth in China averaged 8.6 per cent (on a purchasing power parity basis).

While that was slower than the blistering (and unsustainable) 11.6 per cent average pace of the five previous years, it was four times the US economy’s anaemic 2.1 per cent average annual growth over the post-crisis 2010-14 period. China’s pandemic response hints at a comparable outcome in the years ahead. The GDP report for the third quarter of 2020 suggests a rapid return to the pre-Covid trend. The 4.9 per cent year-on-year figure for real GDP growth does not convey a full sense of the self-sustaining recovery that is now emerging in China. Measuring economic growth on a sequential quarterly basis and converting those comparisons to annual rates – the preferred construct of US statisticians and policymakers – provides a much cleaner sense of real-time shifts in the underlying momentum of any economy.

On that basis, China’s real GDP rose at an 11 per cent sequential annual rate in the third quarter, following a 55 per cent post-lockdown surge in the second quarter. The comparison with the US is noteworthy. Both economies experienced comparable contractions during their respective lockdowns, which came one quarter later for the US. China’s 33.8 per cent sequential (annualised) plunge in the first quarter was almost identical to the 31.2 per cent US contraction in the second quarter. Based on incoming high-frequency (monthly) data, the so-called GDPNow estimate of the Atlanta Federal Reserve puts third-quarter sequential real GDP growth in the US at around 35 per cent. While that is a welcome and marked turnaround from the record decline during the lockdown, it is about 20 percentage points short of China’s post-lockdown rebound and still leaves the US economy about 3 per cent below its peak of late 2019.

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“The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio..”

Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)

Contemporary art is a tricky business. If you’ve collected a painting or sculpture by a modern artist, odds are good that you’ll have some record of the transaction, and some method of verifying that the work you have is both genuine and genuinely obtained. That becomes a bit more complicated when the artist in question — though world-famous — has a penchant for anonymously leaving their work in urban spaces to create impromptu public art. Yes, we’re talking about Banksy, and one of his lesser-known practices which has recently come into sharp relief. Last week, a clip from Antiques Roadshow went viral. It features a man looking to get a small painting by Banksy evaluated. When asked how he’d come by it, the man admit he’d seen it while walking down a street in Brighton one night.

Recognizing it as Banksy’s handiwork, he then removed it from where it had been screwed into place. What follows is a brief and memorable lesson in morality. Pro tip: it’s generally considered poor form to admit to stealing something while being recorded for television. As the show’s host reveals, Banksy has established a virtual portal to authenticate whether specific works of his are both genuine and genuinely obtained — and, as the guy trying to get a painting valued admits, he’d visited the site and been told that the painting could not be validated because it was not obtained legally. Dubbed Pest Control, the service offers an easy-to-use interface to determine a particular work’s validity.

Elsewhere on Pest Control’s site, they offer a more extensive explanation of what they do — namely, issue certificates of authenticity. As for what that means, well — here’s what Pest Control themselves have to say: “The certificate of authenticity (COA) means you can buy, sell or insure a piece of art knowing it’s legitimate and the wheels won’t fall off,” they write. “Pest Control is the only source of COA’s for Banksy. We issue them for paintings, prints, sculptures and other attempts at creativity. We don’t issue them for things like stickers, posters, defaced currency or anything which wasn’t originally intended as a ‘work of art’.” Pest Control also offers a “Keeping It Real” service, which lets prospective buyers of a work by Banksy confirm that the work is, in fact, legitimate.

[..] “The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio,” he told artnet news.

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“All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies.”

Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

After being sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett immediately issued a decree that all women are to wear red handmaid’s outfits for the rest of their lives. “Execute papal order 66,” she said, her eyes glowing red. “Implement the theocratic state.” Barrett sent out squads of soldiers to round up women and make sure they wear the garment at all times. All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies. Attendance at Catholic Mass is also mandatory. Those who violate the order will be executed, “no exceptions,” said Barrett. “She can’t do this! This is unconstitutional!” screamed Rachel Maddow as enforcement squads kicked in the doors at MSNBC’s studios and grabbed her for reconditioning as a subservient handmaid. “I warned you! I WARNED ALL OF YOU!” The whole country turning into a Christofascist state seems to be a negative to many, but the nation is quite a bit more peaceful now.

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Oct 222020
 


Banksy Show me the Monet 2005 (sold yesterday for $8 million)

 

Laptop Connected To Hunter Biden Linked To FBI Money Laundering Probe (Fox)
Giuliani Responds To Borat Photo (ZH)
Glenn Greenwald Calls Out Hypocrites Covering For Biden On Hunter Stories (NYP)
Time To Mute The President (Turley)
Biden’s Lead Down to Three (Rasmussen)
Poll Shows Trump Support At New High In Tight Race (IBD)
Will Adam Schiff Now Be Banned From Twitter? (Turley)
Republicans To Push Ahead With Supreme Court Pick Despite Dems’ Boycott (R.)
OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma To Plead To 3 Criminal Charges (AP)
Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample On Assange’s Rights In Darkness (Cook)
Donald Trump Paid Nearly $200,000 In Taxes To China, Report Claims (G.)
Over Half Europe’s Small Firms Fear For Survival (R.)
Million New Yorkers Can’t Afford Food As Hunger Crisis Worsens (ZH)
Experts Recommend Maximizing Social Distance By Attending A Biden Rally (BBee)

 

 

 

 

We don’t know if it’s Hunter doing the laundering, and the FBI won’t tell.

Laptop Connected To Hunter Biden Linked To FBI Money Laundering Probe (Fox)

The FBI’s subpoena of a laptop and hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden came in connection with a money laundering investigation in late 2019, according to documents obtained by Fox News and verified by multiple federal law enforcement officials who reviewed them. It is unclear, at this point, whether the investigation is ongoing or if it was directly related to Hunter Biden. Multiple federal law enforcement officials, as well as two separate government officials, confirmed the authenticity of these documents, which were signed by FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson. Wilson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

One of the documents, obtained by Fox News, was designated as an FBI “Receipt for Property” form, which details the bureau’s interactions with John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of “The Mac Shop” who reported the laptop’s contents to authorities. The document has a “Case ID” section, which is filled in with a hand-written number: 272D-BA-3065729. According to multiple officials, and the FBI’s website, “272” is the bureau’s classification for money laundering, while “272D” refers to “Money Laundering, Unknown SUA [Specified Unlawful Activity]—White Collar Crime Program,” according to FBI documents. One government official described “272D” as “transnational or blanket.” “BA” indicates the case was opened in the FBI’s Baltimore field office, sources said.

The documents state that the subpoena was carried out in Wilmington, Del., which falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI cannot open a case without predication, so they believed there was predication for criminal activity,” a government official told Fox News. “This means there was sufficient evidence to believe that there was criminal conduct.” Another document, obtained by Fox News, was a subpoena sent to Isaac to testify before U.S. District Court in Delaware on Dec. 9, 2019. One page of the subpoena shows what appears to be serial numbers for a laptop and hard drive taken into possession. Based on the date of the subpoena, an official told Fox News that the case would have been opened prior to Isaac’s subpoena.

“If a criminal case was opened and subpoenas were issued, that means there is a high likelihood that both the laptop and hard drive contain fruits of criminal activity,” the official said. Fox News first reported on Tuesday evening that the FBI is in possession of the laptop in question. The FBI has declined to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into the laptop or the emails, as is standard practice.

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Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident on July 7. It was no big story then, but it is now.

Giuliani Responds To Borat Photo (ZH)

Following The Guardian’s full-court-press effort to distract from the disturbing details being exposed about Hunter Biden (and his father), the rest of the activist media jumped on the Giuliani-hand-down-his-pants/Borat story. As the embarrassing story took on a mind of its own among social media and mainstream media types, the former New York Mayor has taken to Twitter to respond and clarify what exactly happened…


“The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar. In fact, the NY Post today reports “it looks to me like an exaggeration through editing.” As soon as I realized it was a set up I called the police, which has been noted in THR article on July 8th. This is an effort to blunt my relentless exposure of the criminality and depravity of Joe Biden and his entire family. Deadline Hollywood reports CAA had a distribution screening in September where there was no mention of the scene holding any importance. We are preparing much bigger dumps off of the hard drive from hell, of which Joe Biden will be unable to defend or hide from. I have the receipts.

If this is all the Deep State has to try and distract from HunterGate, they have a problem (and so far have not denied any of the details that have been exposed). And on the bright side, no Russians were blamed and at least he wasn’t masturbating on a work Zoom call. As TheMindUnleashed’s John Vibes detailed earlier, Rudy Giuliani is among the high profile figures who were pranked for Sasha Baron Cohen’s new Borat sequel, and so far his encounter is the most embarrassing. Cohen and Maria Bakalova, the actress who portrays Borat’s daughter in the film, brought Giuliani into their prank by posing as conservative TV journalists. They conducted an interview with Giuliani where they were extremely agreeable and after the interview, Bakalova went back to a nearby hotel room with him for a drink.


The room was rigged with hidden cameras, which recorded Giuliani apparently untucking his shirt and reaching into his pants. Once he began to reach into his pants, Borat runs into the room and shouts, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.” Just after the incident, Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident, claiming that he was the victim of a scam or a set up. Giuliani described the encounter to the New York Post, saying that: “This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive. This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”

Cernovich

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“The huge scandal to me is the blatant rank-closing and cone of silence — a prohibition — erected *by journalists* around this story to defend Biden.”

Glenn Greenwald Calls Out Hypocrites Covering For Biden On Hunter Stories (NYP)

Glenn Greenwald is an independent-minded man of the left — a Pulitzer-winning journalist who was the main conduit for Edward Snowden’s leaks of US government secrets. He’s faced down government harassment in Brazil, where he now lives and reports. So his thoughts on The Post’s Hunter Biden scoops, and the reaction by other media outlets, are well worth considering. And they’re damning. Tuesday evening, he made these points on Twitter: “Is there a single journalist willing to say with a straight face they believe the emails relating to the Bidens are either fabricated or otherwise fraudulently altered, but the Bidens just aren’t saying so? There has to be some limits to your willingness to go to bat for them.”

“When you report a huge archive, there’s no way to prove the negative that none of it is altered. You investigate & confirm as much as you can, then use your journalistic judgment. The only way you get confirmation is when the subjects of the reporting don’t deny the authenticity.” “When we reported the Snowden archive, we knew it was genuine, but breathed a huge sigh of relief when NSA didn’t claim the docs were fake. The same was true with our Brazil reporting over the last year: publishing private messages from corrupt Bolsonaro officials & prosecutors.” “As a journalist publishing private communications & docs that are incriminating, you know the subjects of the reporting will immediately claim they’re fake *if the[y] are*. Of course they will: that would kill the reporting! There’s a reason the Bidens aren’t claiming they’re fake.”

“I don’t think that the emails — so far — reveal a huge scandal. They so far just establish standard sleaze and DC corruption. The huge scandal to me is the blatant rank-closing and cone of silence — a prohibition — erected *by journalists* around this story to defend Biden.” On Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show that night, he elaborated: “What makes it so much worse is that the reason the Bidens aren’t answering basic questions about this story — basic questions like: Did Hunter Biden drop that laptop off at that repair shop? Are the emails authentic? Do you deny that they are? Do you claim any have been altered or any of them fabricated? Did you in fact meet with Burisma executives as these emails suggest? . . . The reason that they don’t answer any questions is because the media has signaled that they don’t have to. That journalists will be attacked and vilified simply for asking.”

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Hard to believe this guy is serious. What a bizarre new normal we have reached.

Time To Mute The President (Turley)

Peter Greenberger, a former Twitter and Google executive, is calling for the social media accounts of President Donald Trump to be shutdown for the remainder of the election. For those of us who have criticized calls for censorship from Democratic leaders for years, the demand is yet another example of the slippery slope of censorship that awaits this country with increasing regulation of speech on social media. Congressional leaders like House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff have called for labeling and removal of material with some members directly threatening a legislative crackdown. Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for resisting speech monitoring and censorship as a matter of free speech.

Pelosi lashed out that those who want to preserve a free speech zone are “all about making money,” ignoring free speech advocates who have no financial interest in these companies. Joe Biden has demanded that prior Trump criticism of mail-in voting be stripped from the Internet and social media. This is an effort to enlist companies like Twitter and Facebook to regulate political speech. And it is increasing succeeding. The recent move against the Hunter Biden story is an example of how these companies have been used to inhibit access to stories that are harmful to Joe Biden or beneficial to Donald Trump. Yesterday, the FBI reportedly confirmed that it has the Biden laptop and that it does not believe that the material on the laptop is Russian disinformation.

Previously, the Director of National Intelligence criticized Schiff for declaring that the laptop was clearly Russian disinformation and said that Congress has received no such intelligence. Despite the recent abusive act by Twitter, Greenberger is demanding that these companies go even further to ban all access of Trump to social media. Presumably, Greenberger would eventually ban surrogates who convey Trump’s views or comments.CNN considered Greenberger’s proposal credible enough to give him an entire segment with Jake Tapper who observed that the suggestion is pretty “extreme.”

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Deja Vu?

Biden’s Lead Down to Three (Rasmussen)

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, it’s a three-point race. Democrat Joe Biden now leads President Trump 49% to 46% among Likely U.S. Voters, according to Rasmussen Reports’ weekly White House Watch survey. The latest national telephone and online survey finds that two percent (2%) still prefer some other candidate, while another two percent (2%) remain undecided. Two weeks ago, Biden had a 12-point lead. A week ago, he was ahead by eight. This is the first time in a month that Biden’s support has fallen below 50%.


Trump earns 82% support among Republicans. Biden has 79% of the Democrat vote and leads by seven among voters not affiliated with either major party. The Democrat had a double-digit lead among unaffiliateds for the two weeks prior to this. The survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted October 14-15 and 18-20, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

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This show ain’t done.

Poll Shows Trump Support At New High In Tight Race (IBD)

Today’s Biden vs. Trump poll finds support for President Donald Trump hitting a new high, just a hair below his 2016 vote share. The race against former Vice President Joe Biden appears to have gotten much tighter since the Oct. 12 launch of IBD/TIPP’s daily presidential poll. Republican voters have come home, while Democrats have strayed, but Biden retains an edge among independent voters, IBD/TIPP shows. The latest Biden vs. Trump poll update shows the Democratic challenger leading the Republican incumbent by 2.5 points, 48.5%-46%, in a four-way presidential poll of likely voters. Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen has the support of 2.6%, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins 0.7%.

Since the IBD/TIPP 2020 Presidential Election Tracking Poll launched Oct. 12, Biden’s support has slipped 3.4 points, from 51.9%. Trump poll numbers have gone the other way, rising 2.6 points to his new high-water mark of 46%. That’s just one-tenth of a point below his 46.1% 2016 vote share. Trump won the 2016 presidential election, despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.1 points. Biden’s lead peaked at 8.6 points in IBD/TIPP’s Oct. 13 presidential poll. The race’s tightest point came on Tuesday, Oct. 20, when Biden led by 2.3 points. Biden’s narrower support reflects Trump’s gain, along with more voters who are undecided or decline to say whom they support.

In a head-to-head Biden vs. Trump poll, the Democratic nominee leads by 1.8 points, 48.7%-46.9%, his smallest lead to date. Biden’s support has slipped 4 points since Oct. 12 in the one-on-one matchup, while Trump’s support is up 4.6 points. Biden’s head-to-head lead is slightly narrower because Trump sheds a bit more support to the Libertarian candidate in a four-way race.

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The New York Post Twitter account is still locked, one week after the publication on Hunter’s laptop. The New York Times account is not.

Will Adam Schiff Now Be Banned From Twitter? (Turley)

Just a day after more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed on to a letter declaring that the recent disclosure of emails from the Hunter Biden laptop is likely Russian disinformation, the FBI reportedly confirmed that the material does not appear to be Russian disinformation. While former officials like John Brennan insisted that the story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” the FBI appears to have found no such evidence thus far. This followed a similar conclusion from the Director of National Intelligence in response to House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff saying that the story was pure Russian disinformation. The question is whether Twitter and Facebook will now bar access to Schiff’s statements pending further review since the actual intelligence agencies are suggesting that this could be democratic disinformation.

After all, a former Twitter executive is calling for President Trump to be barred from all social media until after the election to prevent “misinformation.” The burden of being a free speech advocate is the the answer is clearly no. Those, like Schiff, who have called for censoring material on the Internet still should benefit from the protections of free speech. From a free speech perspective, it does not matter if the Schiff statement and the letter have “all the classic earmarks of a [Democratic] information operation,” we all benefit from a free and robust discussion of such issues. We do not need these companies to censor or inhibit stories to protect us from misinformation. The letter itself is striking not only in its sweeping conclusion (without actually reviewing the laptop or the emails), but its signatories.

This includes some of those who have been associated with the Russian investigation of the Trump campaign, which was based in part on the Steele dossier. That dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, was recently found to have been based on information supplied by a known Russian agent. Throughout the campaign, and for many weeks after, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the dossier that was later used to secure a secret surveillance warrant against Trump associates during the Obama administration. Journalists later discovered that the Clinton campaign hid the payments to Fusion as a “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm.

New York Times reporter Ken Vogel at the time said that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias had “vigorously” denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman likewise wrote: “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.” Even when Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was questioned by Congress on the matter, he denied any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who helped devise contract.

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Still trying to make this news?!

Republicans To Push Ahead With Supreme Court Pick Despite Dems’ Boycott (R.)

U.S. Senate Republicans pledged to go ahead with a vote on Thursday on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, despite Judiciary Committee Democrats pledging to boycott a proceeding that they called “a sham.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement on Wednesday that “Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote.” Just hours earlier, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Judiciary Committee Democrats said they would not show up for the vote. They have been urging Republicans to await the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election before advancing a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the September death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


“Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions and execute the extreme and deeply unpopular agenda that they’ve been unable to get through Congress,” the Democrats said. “This has been a sham process from the beginning,” they said, noting that U.S. elections were only 12 days away and that early ballots already were being cast. Graham, who is in a tough re-election campaign in South Carolina, countered, saying in his statement that Barrett “has a judicial disposition that should be the gold standard for all future nominees” to the high court.

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Take all their wealth, and throw them in the slammer.

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma To Plead To 3 Criminal Charges (AP)

Drugmaker Purdue Pharma, the company behind the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. Family members said they acted “ethically and lawfully,” but some state attorneys general said the agreement fails to hold the Sacklers accountable. The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said, and the agreement will be detailed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court.


The Sacklers will lose all control over their company, a move already in the works, and Purdue will become a public benefit company, meaning it will be governed by a trust that has to balance the trust’s interests against those of the American public and public health, officials said. The settlement is the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a major drugmaker responsible for an opioid addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the country since 2000.

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Today is the tenth anniversary of the Guardian’s publication of the Iraq war logs, leaked by Manning to Assange.

Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample On Assange’s Rights In Darkness (Cook)

Julian Assange has been hounded out of public life and public view by the UK and US governments for the best part of a decade. Now he languishes in a small, airless cell in Belmarsh high-security prison in London – a victim of arbitrary detention, according to a UN working group, and a victim of psychological torture, according to Nils Melzer, the UN’s expert on torture. If Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding in the Central Criminal Court in London, agrees, as she gives every appearance of preparing to do, Assange will be the first journalist to face a terrifying new ordeal – a form of extraordinary rendition to the United States for “espionage” – for having the courage to publish documents that exposed US war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Guardian worked with Assange and Wikileaks on vitally important documents – now at the heart of the US case against Assange – known as the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. The latter were published exactly a decade ago today. They were a journalistic coup of global significance, and the paper ought to be profoundly proud of its role in bringing them to public attention. During Assange’s extradition hearing, however, the Guardian treated the logs and its past association with Assange and Wikileaks more like a dirty secret it hoped to keep out of sight. Those scoops furnished by Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning enriched the paper financially, and bolstered its standing internationally. They also helped to pave its path into the lucrative US market.


Unlike Assange and Manning, the Guardian has suffered no consequences for publishing the logs. Unlike Assange and Manning, the paper has faced no retribution. While it profited, Assange continues to be made an example of – to deter other journalists from contemplating following in his footsteps.

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More bullshit from the Guardian. More on this later.

This is a bank account from Trump International Hotels Management, not Trump himself. Moreover, this played in 2013-15. Hasn’t been used since 2015, when the project it was opened for failed.

And Trump did pay a lot more taxes than $750, just not “regular” income tax.

Donald Trump Paid Nearly $200,000 In Taxes To China, Report Claims (G.)

Donald Trump maintains a bank account in China where he pursued licensing deals for years, according to a report that could undermine the president’s election campaign claim that he is tough on Beijing. Tax records reviewed by the New York Times showed a previously unreported bank account in China controlled by Trump International Hotels Management. The account paid $188,561 in taxes in China between 2013 and 2015 in connection to potential licensing deals, according the newspaper. Earlier reporting by the Times showed he paid just $750 in US taxes in 2016 and 2017. The recent tax records also showed Trump invested at least $192,000 in five companies charged with pursuing business deals in China. Those companies claimed $97,400 in business expenses, including payments as recently as 2018, the Times reported.

Trump has waged his re-election campaign on his ability to stand up to China on issues from trade to human rights abuses in Xinjiang and political repression in Hong Kong as well as accountability for the spread of Covid-19. Under Trump, ties between China and the US have reached their lowest point in decades. The disclosures also come after Trump accused his opponent, Joe Biden, of being “weak on China” and described the Biden family as “selling out our country” to China. The Trump campaign has run attack ads against Biden’s son for having “inked a billion-dollar deal” with the government-owned Bank of China, allegations that have been not been substantiated.

[..] Trump has previously pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou in southern China that did not come to fruition. AFP reported in 2016 that the Trump Hotel Collection negotiated with the government owned electricity company, State Grid Corporation of China, to brand and manage a major development in Beijing, resulting in a deal worth up to $150 million over 15 years. Negotiations were put on hold after the state-owned enterprise became the focus of a corruption probe. A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten told the Times that the company had “opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes”. “No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” he said.

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“In Spain, for example, 83% of the 85,000 businesses that have collapsed since February employ fewer than five workers.”

Over Half Europe’s Small Firms Fear For Survival (R.)

Over half the small and medium-sized companies which together provide jobs for two-thirds of European workers fear for their survival in the coming 12 months, according to a survey released by management consultancy McKinsey on Thursday. The survey was conducted in August, before the current acceleration in new coronavirus cases across Europe that is forcing governments to impose new restrictions on activity and prompting speculation of fresh national lockdowns. The finding comes as warnings multiply of an impending wave of business insolvencies and as the IMF and others urge the region’s governments to double down on state support to help companies weather the coronavirus pandemic.


The McKinsey survey of more than 2,200 companies in five countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain – found that 55% expected to shut down by September next year if their revenues remained at current levels. At the current trajectory, one in 10 small and medium-sized companies were expected to file bankruptcy within six months. “This is a substantial burden on the financial sector,” report co-author Zdravko Mladenov said of just one of the knock-on impacts of such a development, which would also send jobless totals surging and stymie wider investment in the economy. [..] Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined as those with 250 or fewer employees. In Europe, they employ over 90 million people but their small size makes them vulnerable to cash flow crises. In Spain, for example, 83% of the 85,000 businesses that have collapsed since February employ fewer than five workers.

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It won’t just be New York. I’m talking in Athens about how to prepare.

Million New Yorkers Can’t Afford Food As Hunger Crisis Worsens (ZH)

In the seventh month of the virus pandemic, New York City is still in shambles, with more than half a million residents unemployed as the small business collapse continues. Broadway is closed, Manhattan offices are empty as remote work dominates, violent crime is surging, and an exodus of people from the city has created a perfect storm of economic chaos that will hunt many New Yorkers for years. A byproduct of the virus-induced economic downturn is food and housing insecurity for millions of people in the Tri-state area. Deep economic scarring produced by permanent job loss has left many people in a bind; some working-poor may never recover while others could take years.

Food and housing insecurity will be, or should be, a hot subject as millions in the Tri-state area are suffering ahead of the holidays. Readers may recall in early October, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey warned that more than one million New Jerseyans were expected to suffer food insecurity by the end of the year. Now the problem is becoming more widespread. At least one million New Yorkers are expected, or will soon, experience food insecurity, according to FOX 5 NY. Alexander Rapaport, the executive director of Masbia soup kitchen network, said, “We have done disasters before, but nothing is even close to what we are doing now,” referring to the long lines at food banks across the city is all too common.

Masbia is a nonprofit soup kitchen network and food pantry, with Borough Park and Flatbush locations in Brooklyn and Forest Hills in Queens. Rapaport said there had been a 500% increase in demand. In a separate report, NYT estimates the number of New Yorkers who are going hungry could be upwards of 1.5 million. Denise Allen, a mother who visits one of Masbia’s food banks, said: “I’m on a limited income. I visit every two to three weeks,” said Allen. Rapaport said, “there is so much need. So much so that for the last three days, Rapaport, his staff, and volunteers have been operating around the clock. All three locations are now open 24/7, feeding 1,500 families a day, but it is still not enough.” With demand high for food banks in the city, he said long lines have developed, which forced him to create an entirely new system in what he calls digital food bank lines. “You now have to make an appointment to pick up your box of food,” Rapaport said.

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“We’ve found that Trump rallies are super-spreader events since there’s a ton of people. Biden rallies are great for stopping the virus.”

Experts Recommend Maximizing Social Distance By Attending A Biden Rally (BBee)

Health experts across the globe are recommending a new strategy for maximizing your social distance: attending a Joe Biden rally. Officials say there’s no better place to be miles away from most other humans. “When you attend a Joe Biden rally, you’re very unlikely to get infected, since, you know, there’s no one else there,” said one CDC official. “We’ve found that Trump rallies are super-spreader events since there’s a ton of people. Biden rallies are great for stopping the virus. You just stand in the middle of a field while an old guy shouts from a podium hundreds of feet far away from you.”

“Plus, you can rest and relax. Get away from the busyness of modern life: attend a Biden rally. BIDEN-HARRIS 2020!” The health experts named several alternatives that are also acceptable for maximal social distancing, including attending a Biden boat parade, a Biden car parade, and a Nickelback concert.

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Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1965

 

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)
The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)
DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)
MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)
Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)
American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)
The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)
Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)
The Politics of Restraint (RCW)
DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)
“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

 

 

Scott Adams

 

 

The damage these people are doing to their country is no longer measurable.

If it was the Russians, Biden could simply deny this is true. He hasn’t.

“Former intel officials sharing their “belief” that factual, embarrassing info about a Democrat candidate — which that candidate does not even deny — is all Russia’s fault has all the classic earmarks of a Russiagate disinformation operation.”


“They say they “want to emphasize…that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement” but that are “just…deeply suspicious” that Russia played a “significant role in this case.”

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.

While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.” Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering.”

The former Trump administration officials who signed the letter include Russ Travers, who served as National Counterterrorism Center acting director; Glenn Gerstell, the former NSA general counsel; Rick Ledgett, the former deputy NSA director; Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer; and Cynthia Strand, who served as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for global issues. Former CIA directors or acting directors Brennan, Leon Panetta, Gen. Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin and Michael Morell also signed the letter, along with more than three dozen other intelligence veterans. Several of the former officials on the list have endorsed Biden. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Monday that the information on Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” though the FBI is reportedly conducting an ongoing investigation into whether Russia was involved.

[..] “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the letter reads. But, it continues, “there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement.” “Such an operation would be consistent with Russian objectives, as outlined publicly and recently by the Intelligence Community, to create political chaos in the United States and to deepen political divisions here but also to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and thereby help the candidacy of President Trump,” the letter reads.

Trump calls media criminal for not reporting on Joe Biden

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Excellent takedown.

The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)

An inhabitant of Twitterland named “Willow Inski” took to the keyboard on Oct. 11, asking why anyone still accepts official accounts of the crucial theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in the spring of 2016.

Excellently observed, Willow. And at just the right moment. At this point we are amid a frenzy of what Hannah Arendt called “defactualization” in a 1971 essay she titled “Lying in Politics.” Facts are fragile, Arendt astutely observed, because they can so easily be manipulated to produce a desired image. “It is this fragility,” she wrote, “that makes deception so very easy up to a point, and so tempting.”The latest example of this phenom concerns the emails of Hunter Biden, candidate Joe’s errant son, which persuasively incriminate both in very profitable influence-peddling schemes when Papa was Barack Obama’s veep. Nobody denies the facts as published last week in The New York Post, not even Biden père et fils, but the facts are once again mutilated with assertions that it is another case of the Rrrrrrussians spreading disinformation.

This is what we get after four years of the Russia collusion b.s., otherwise known as Russiagate. Anything goes if implicating Russia solves a political problem for the Democrats and keeps the war machine going for the Pentagon and the national security state. It defers the moment — at some point it will come — when the press is exposed for its radically stupid overinvestment in the Russiagate nonsense. The price America has already begun to pay is very high. Willow’s expression of perplexity comes after an especially lively season of revelations as regards what must count as the largest disinformation op in U.S. history. It is now six months since the Russiagate hoax — and I am fine with President Donald Trump’s term for it — began its final crash into a pile of piffle.

While it remains to be seen whether more evidence of political chicanery is coming, what evidence we already have is more than sufficient to identify Russiagate as the probable criminal fraud it was from the start. I am refreshed that Willow Inski, who describes herself as an “attorney, wife, mother, proud American,” sees through this extravagant ruse. And yet, as she notes, a lot of people don’t. A lot of people are “still taking at face value” all the misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies our newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters have purveyed incessantly for the past four years.

Why is a very large question. All possible answers are disturbing. But here is another big one we get to before that: When we consider together all its many consequences, has Russiagate destroyed what remained of American democracy before illiberal liberals, spooks, law enforcement, and the press colluded to erect the dreadful edifice? Your columnist’s answer rests on the most scrupulously precise definition of Russiagate one can manage: What we have witnessed these past four years is an attempted palace coup against a sitting president. Cold comfort it is that the gang that couldn’t shoot straight bungled the job. It has also created a Democratic default position: When wrongdoing by Democrats is credibly exposed, automatically blame Russia. Among much else, that has led to unnecessary tension with a nuclear power. This damage will long stay with us.

[..] In 1787, when he was our new nation’s minister in Paris, Jefferson wrote home to a friend that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” We are stuck with a government without newspapers now, given the ties our press has consolidated its ties with political and bureaucratic power in the course of imposing the Russiagate ruse upon us. They only look like newspapers now.


Joe Biden, foreground, and son Hunter during inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. (acaben, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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Ratcliffe calls Schiff a liar.

DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)

Recently, we discussed how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff stated publicly that the recently disclosed laptop information from Hunter Biden was clearly part of a Russian intelligence operation. This morning, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, stated categorically that Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. What is most notable is that Ratcliffe has stated that Schiff and his Committee were given that conclusion by the intelligence community. The incident has raised lingering criticism of Schiff who previously told the public that he had clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after that allegation was rejected in repeated investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Schiff never produced the incriminating evidence and later it was shown that the widely cited Steele dossier was based on a source who was considered to be a Russian agent. There is ample reason to suspicious about the timing of this disclosure. However, I have written that this serious concern is separate from the question of whether the emails are fabricated. The Biden campaign has not given the most obvious responses to such a scandal. It is important to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were actually hacked by Russian intelligence but the underlying emails were true. Schiff now finds himself, again, in the position of supporting a claim of evidence of Russian collusion. He will have to show that this laptop discovery was engineered by Russian intelligence. If the owner is speaking the truth, the computer was dropped off in April 2019 with the intent to be used in the 2020 campaign.

Ratcliffe stated in an interview that “it’s funny that some of the people that complained the most about intelligence being politicized are the ones politicizing intelligence and unfortunately in this case, it is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who as you pointed out on Friday said that the intelligence community believes that Hunter Biden’s laptop and e-mails on it are part of some Russian disinformation campaign. Let me be clear, the intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports and we shared no intelligence with chairman Schiff or any other member of Congress that Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign. It’s simply not true.”

Ratcliffe accused Schiff of politicizing intelligence and stated “Don’t drag the intelligence community into this. Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign and I think it’s clear the American people know that.” Schiff should explain the basis for his conclusion that this is part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Someone is clearly misrepresenting the intelligence and the public should know the basis for these irreconcilable statements.

Trump dumb bastards

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Streisand.

MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)

Twitter’s crackdown on a controversial New York Post story that “purported to show new emails from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings while Joe Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration,” “nearly doubled” the story’s visibility and triggered the so-called “Streisand Effect,” amplifying the Post’s claims, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a high-profile media intelligence firm. “When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign,” MIT’s Technology Review reported Monday.

“But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.” In fact, Twitter’s efforts triggered a massive spike in interest in the story. “According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article ‘nearly doubled’ after Twitter started suppressing it,” MIT noted. The incident was a real-time example of what Zignal Lab’s calls the “Streisand Effect” — a “social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet,” according to Wikipedia. The name comes from singer Barbra Streisand’s efforts, in 2003, to suppress a photo of her Malibu, California, residence over security concerns.

According to Zignal Labs, the effect was immediate and significant. “Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn’t necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship,” MIT noted Monday. “The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform,” they added.

Dobbs, Powell, Fitton, Solomon

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How you get your information.

Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)

Allegations of corruption against ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter have apparently been “debunked” and are merely a “conspiracy theory” according to Wikipedia, where editors are battling over the terms.
Hunter Biden was the subject of an explosive report last week as the New York Post published emails alleging that he involved his father in dodgy business dealings in Ukraine and China. While the story is still unfolding, the Wikipedia page for Hunter Biden simply states that “he and his father have been the subjects of debunked right-wing conspiracy theories pushed by [President] Donald Trump and his allies.” The curious framing was highlighted by conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong on Twitter on Tuesday.

Eight sources are listed for this one sentence, intending to support the view that any accusations of corruption against the Democratic presidential candidate and his son have already been proven false. In recent days, Wikipedia editors have been engaged in regular spats about the inclusion of the word “debunked.” The eighth source was added on Sunday by a frequent contributor to Biden’s son’s page, whose username is ‘Soibangla’. A regular editor of American political topics on Wikipedia, Soibangla was previously found tweaking pedophile sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s page, specifically to note that there is “no evidence” that he and former President Bill Clinton were “friends” – despite the ex-commander-in-chief traveling on the disgraced financier’s plane 26 times, according to flight logs.

Curiously, the same Soibangla is one of the top authors on a new Wikipedia page titled, ‘Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory’. The page was created on October 15, the day after the Post published Hunter’s alleged email history. The article calls the controversy “a series of false allegations” and references an almost identical list of eight sources to back it up. A war over Hunter Biden’s page has been raging since December 2019, when the word ‘debunked’ was initially added in reference to the scandal involving the former VP’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who said he was investigating the Burisma gas company where Hunter sat on the board.

It kicked off again on September 30, when user ‘Php2000’ removed ‘debunked’, noting that “Sources state [Hunter Biden] was making 50,000 USD a month as a board member in Ukraine gas company. Hardly ‘debunked.’” Just two minutes later, according to the website’s timeline, editor ‘Billmckern’ reverted the change, adding, “it’s been debunked and we have consensus language here.” Php2000 once again deleted the word, explaining that Hunter Biden making a lot of money in Ukraine was a well-documented fact. “What exactly has been debunked?” they asked. “Read the references,” wrote Billmckern a mere four minutes later, once again restoring the controversial phrasing.

Veritas Big Tech

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“..trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday..”

American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)

Now we know why Nancy Pelosi has been running around in a fright mask with her hair on fire, and it’s not just a ghoulish anticipation of Halloween. Her Democratic Party is in extremis. It is shot through with the cancer of falsehood and the wormholes of crime, acquired through decades of playing fast and loose with the machinery of government. Nancy has been informed and she remains stuck in the rage stage of the grief cycle. Somebody sent her a copy of that hard-drive. The thing she feared would not end well is actually turning out worse than she thought. I have a theory about Joe Biden: He didn’t want to run for president. Not one eensy-weensy bit.

He wanted a nice, quiet retirement with his fat government pension plus sundry millions that had somehow found its way into his bank account over the years. He had a fabulous $16-million gentleman’s estate to gambol upon with his beloved grandchildren. The developing brain-fog was actually a comfort, allowing him to forget the rigors of public service and all the tedious gathering of… honoraria, shall we say. But then they came for him…! The Party called. Rather specifically, his old Kemosabe, Barack Obama, called him in for that ominous sit-down and gave him the bad news: Joe, you’ve gotta run. Bernie, Liz, and the rest of those bozos, they won’t keep a lid on it. You’re in this thing as deep as we are and it’s getting a little hairy. You’ve got to do it for the sake of the party, and all our… friends….

And so, Joe Biden was shanghaied into running for president. He was given a bodyguard of news media, including those crucial new additions, the social media, Twitter and Facebook, where, increasingly, information was hubbed for transmission among the voters. They would protect him infallibly from any damaging narratives. In fact, they would generate powerful counter-narratives to keep their adversaries off-balance. If Joe could just roll with it until November 3rd, they could lay all their… problems… to rest, bury all that annoying insinuendo about the hobgoblin Deep State (ha!), and finally breathe easy.

And so, trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday — apparently due to the single, magical endorsement of one congressman James Clyburn (SC, 6th District), a narrative that was swallowed like a May River oyster by the credulous all over the land. And thus anointed, Joe retreated to his fabled basement for the whole election season, venturing intermittently into empty parking lots and airplane hangars to offer proof-of-life while a polling disinfo campaign by his media bodyguard vouchsafed his inevitable victory. Looked like a sure thing in September… pack up all my cares and woe… and so forth….

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The pic is on Wisconsin only.

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)

Much of Trafalgar’s approach focuses on accounting for the so-called social-desirability bias. As Cahaly puts it, that’s when a respondent gives you “an answer that is designed to make the person asking the question be less judgmental of the person who answers it.” Cahaly notes that this phenomenon showed up as long ago as the 1980s, in the so-called Bradley effect, when the African-American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, underperformed his polling in a gubernatorial race. It has been a hallmark of the Trump era and is one reason other pollsters missed the impending victory of Ron DeSantis over Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race. “I’ve got to get past what you want to say in public and get to what you really feel,” Cahaly says. “Because what’s in your heart is going to be what’s on that ballot.”

There are a number of methodological differences in how Trafalgar goes about its work. One is the number of questions on its surveys. “I don’t believe in long questionnaires,” Cahaly says. “I think when you’re calling up Mom or Dad on a school night, and they’re trying to get the kids dinner and get them to bed, and that phone rings at seven o’clock — and they’re supposed to stop what they’re doing and take a 25- to 30-question poll? No way.” Why does that matter? “You end up disproportionately representing the people who will like to talk about politics, which is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored, “Cahaly explains. “And the kind of people that win elections are the people in the middle. So I think they miss people in the middle when they do things that way.”

According to Cahaly, most polls are more than 25 questions. He keeps it between seven and nine, so respondents can answer in a matter of minutes. Then there is how the questions are asked. “We do not like to do all live calls,” Cahaly says. This goes back to the social-desirability bias. People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.” So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding.

“We use collection methods of live calls, auto calls, texts, emails, and a couple that we call our proprietary digital technology that we don’t explain, but it’s also digital,” Cahaly says. The point, he continues, is to “really push the anonymous part — this is your anonymous say-so.” Another factor, is that “conservatives are less likely to participate in polls in general,” he says. “We see a five-to-one refusal rate among conservatives.” That means “you’ve got to work very hard to get a fair representation of conservatives, when you do any kind of a survey.”

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So Joe can read his teleprompter and listen to his wires in peace.

Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)

In yet another transparent effort to support Joe Biden, the presidential debate commission has announced they will mute microphones during the two minute answer sessions as part of a strategy to assist the promotion of disinformation. (Via New York Post) “The Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to mute microphones to allow each candidate the opportunity for uninterrupted remarks during this week’s final forum. The mute button will be featured at the start of each 15-minute segment during opening comments, according to the commission. After that time, both mics will be turned on without a mute option to enable debate.” The Trump campaign responds:

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Feels like wishful thinking.

The Politics of Restraint (RCW)

During this election season, there is much discussion around the increasing polarization of the American electorate. While these conversations can seem overwrought, there is clear data showing an increasing divide on issues like race relations and the economy. However, on foreign policy, the American people are more united. There is an increasingly shared belief across party lines that the United States needs to end its endless wars and adventurism abroad. Based on a bevy of recent polls and research, American voters will likely reward candidates who support foreign policy restraint, while punishing those who advocate for the maintenance of a failed status quo.

For most of the post-9/11 era, the conventional wisdom reinforced by the political pundits and the consultant class was that foreign policy hawkishness was a political strength. Even politicians such as President Barack Obama, who owed part of his political success to opposing the Iraq War, still felt the need to show hawkishness regarding other military conflicts. The perceived political incentives contributed to Obama ignoring the lessons of the Iraq War and initiating the disastrous intervention in Libya in 2011, along with the failed surge of American forces in Afghanistan from 2009-2012. A lack of significant political accountability by Republicans — who only seemed to try to “out-hawk” Obama — in the 2012 election for these failures reinforced the notion that support for primacy abroad was the politically safe position.

That conventional wisdom reigned into the early days of the 2016 election, but was shattered by two candidates, one during each major party’s primaries. In the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders gave the presumptive nominee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an unexpectedly strong challenge. Sanders has been a consistent critic of American foreign policy in the Middle East, while Clinton supported the Iraq War and the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. While Sanders did not make foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign in 2016, his record on those issues further strengthened his appeal with the progressive left, which is traditionally wary of military intervention.

More so than Sanders, Donald Trump completely upended the conventional wisdom around what a candidate needed to say on foreign policy to win. During the 2016 Republican primary, Trump frequently and aggressively criticized America’s wars in the Middle East. During a primary debate in South Carolina, Trump excoriated former President George W. Bush for invading Iraq, and for his administration’s lies about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Prominent Republican pundits criticized Trump’s remarks and claimed that his comments would hurt his chances in South Carolina, a state heavily populated by military service members and veterans who were thought to be more hawkish.

Yet Trump easily won the South Carolina primary and the Republican nomination. During the general election, while by no means portraying himself as a dove, Trump would continue his criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while tying Clinton to America’s broader failures in the Middle East. This messaging likely played a key role in Trump’s 2016 general election victory. According to research conducted by two political scientists following the 2016 election, Trump’s perception as the less interventionist candidate among voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin likely drove his victory in those critical states.

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They’ll win either way.

DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)

DC lobbyists are licking their chops at the prospect of a Biden win in November, as a flood of new regulations means they’ll have their work cut out for them. “There is a huge amount of planning going on in our client base for what this could look like,” according to Holland & Knight LLP lobbyist, Rich Gold. “It’s highly likely the first six months of 2021 are some of the biggest legislative months I will have in my career in terms of things moving.” Gold represents the American Chemistry Council, education technology provider Zovio, Inc., agriculture giant Corteva and several local governments. According to Bloomberg, K Street lobbyists began planning for major changes when polling began to show former Vice President Biden leading President Trump, as well as the possibility that Democrats would regain control of the Senate.

“Not since 2008, when President George W. Bush was leaving the White House, have lobbyists planned for the possibility of so sweeping a change in Washington’s corridors of power,” writes Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy and Ben Brody. “The presidential race remains tight in key states and the firms remain vigilant for another Trump victory like the one that caught many by surprise in 2016. But they are hedging their bets and increasingly planning around Biden’s polling lead. One firm is developing dossiers on potential appointees, selling them to clients under the maxim “people are policy.” Another has created flow charts outlining possible committee leadership changes on Capitol Hill. And at least one group has established a war room to brainstorm strategies for countering policy proposals. -Bloomberg

One oil lobbyist told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity that the election would be a “rack-and-stack” exercise when it comes to the multitude of actions the Biden administration could undertake, while a Democratic sweep of the Senate has caused many lobbyists to begin cultivating relationships with moderate Democrats, including Jon Tester of Montana, Kyrsten Sinema of Zrizona, and Joe Machin of West Virginia.

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Headline was about hospitals running out of beds, but the numbers cast doubt on that. The headline I gave is from the mayor of Manchester.

“It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year..” “.. the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.”

“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)

Stalemate seems to remain in negotiations about tougher restrictions for Greater Manchester, as hospitals in the region run low on beds to treat coronavirus patients. [..] data from the Greater Manchester Critical Care Network (GMCCN) suggested some of the region’s 12 hospitals were running out of space on Friday. It also showed the Royal Bolton Hospital was running at 94% capacity .The figures show hospitals across Greater Manchester are operating at an average of 82% capacity. The NHS said in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation with our hospital admissions, overall beds and ITU beds very, very closely.


The figures showed the Stepping Hill Hospital and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust were operating at full capacity.”It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year and our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, both for COVID and for other reasons.” A source at the GMCCN told Sky News the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.

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Will they still label her a “socialite” after reading this, or will she get a new label?

Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

A federal appeals court Monday ordered the unsealing of a deposition related to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex life — after the defense fought tooth and nail to keep it secret. A three-judge panel from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the brief, two-page ruling after hearing arguments on the matter last week. “We cannot conclude that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the panel wrote. It’s unclear when the documents will be released. The seven-hour, 418-page deposition is from testimony Maxwell gave in April 2016 in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. In the interview, Maxwell made statements about “consensual, and intimate conduct with other adults,” according to court papers. US District Judge Loretta Preska, who is overseeing the litigation over the release of the materials, had ordered the documents unsealed in July, but Maxwell’s lawyers had appealed the decision.

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Ted Cruz

 

 

 

 

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Oct 192020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1907

 

‘Unverified’ Is A (False) Excuse For Ignoring NYP’s Hunter Biden Scoops (NYP)
Steve Bannon Behind ‘Roll-Out Plan’ For Hunter Biden Emails (ZH)
Does This Explain Why Facebook Suppressed Hunter Biden Revelations? (AT)
Ukrainian Lawmaker: 2nd Laptop Related To Hunter Biden Seized By Law Enforcement (DM)
How Hysterical Punditry Failed America (Tracey)
China Says Its Economy Grew 4.9% In The Third Quarter (CNBC)
China’s Inflation Struggles To Perk Up Despite Broader Recovery (R.)
Sweden To Bring In Local Lockdowns As Covid Cases Rise (Sun)
Alberta’s Contact Tracing Raises Red Flags (CBC)
The Day The International Tax Authorities Came Knocking (Age)
Social Media Creators Admit It Dehumanizes People, Disrupts Social Fabric (RT)

 

 

Yaneer Europe

 

 

“It’s particularly rich that The New York Times has fixated on the “unverified” excuse, since it’s spent much of the Trump era offering supposed dirt from anonymous sources — which, by definition, makes the info unverifiable.”

‘Unverified’ Is A (False) Excuse For Ignoring NYP’s Hunter Biden Scoops (NYP)

Much of the push to ignore The Post’s drop of Hunter Biden’s e-mails centers on the charge that it’s all “unverified.” The claim is more excuse than truth. First, a host of media outlets have now interviewed the computer-repair guy who provided the data at the heart of these exposés — and he’s said exactly what we’ve reported from the start about how the laptop came into his possession. Second, neither Hunter nor Joe Biden has even questioned the fact that the drive is real — they merely dismiss the entire line of questioning, while charging that The Post has an agenda in presenting it to the world.

Third, we’ve published emails and pictures — most of which have nothing to do with Ukraine or China — that contain an extraordinary level of detail. Is that all fabricated? The Biden campaign’s response, notably, is not that an e-mail from a Burisma official thanking Hunter for an introduction to his father isn’t real, it’s that said meeting doesn’t show up on Joe’s “official” schedules. Pressed by Politico, the campaign acknowledged that they couldn’t say for certain if Joe Biden had met him casually. It’s particularly rich that The New York Times has fixated on the “unverified” excuse, since it’s spent much of the Trump era offering supposed dirt from anonymous sources — which, by definition, makes the info unverifiable.

A simple but striking case of that is The Atlantic’s “reporting” that President Trump spoke contemptuously and insultingly of US troops during his trip to France for war-memorial ceremonies. Its claims were based purely on anonymous sources — but contradicted by a number of on-the-record sources, including ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has absolutely no reason to lie to protect the man who fired him.

Biden drops out

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His recent arrest makes him seem even more compromised.

Steve Bannon Behind ‘Roll-Out Plan’ For Hunter Biden Emails (ZH)

As former Breitbart journalist Lee Stranahan – who’s not exactly Bannon’s biggest fan – puts it, “I can’t think of a single example of him saying he had the goods on the story that didn’t pan out,” adding “If he says a lot more is coming he’s not shooting blanks.” [..] Last week the NY Post took the political world by storm with its release of shocking material from Hunter Biden’s hard drive indicating corruption, sexual depravity, and more. The Post reported that a lawyer for former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani obtained the hard drive from a computer repairman and that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon had alerted the Post to the existence of the hard drive in July.

“But before turning over the gear, the shop owner says, he made a copy of the hard drive and later gave it to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello. Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of it on Sunday”. [NY Post] Steve Bannon has since clarified to Revolver News that he was brought into the project based on familiarity with corruption in corporate America, on Wall Street, and within the Chinese Communist Party and America’s political class. Mr. Bannon revealed that he “worked up and executed the roll out plan” of the information contained in the Hunter hard drives. Given his close knowledge and familiarity with an issue of such explosive importance to the election, Revolver asked Mr. Bannon a few questions pertaining to the contents of Hunter’s hard drive and the political implications of their release.

Revolver: What is the most incriminating thing on the hard drive? Rudy has suggested illegal things, and as Revolver reported, the FBI person tasked with the hard drive is associated with the child pornography division. Could you give more insight into how bad it is we’re talking about? Mr. Bannon: Joe Biden is a liar, a fraud, and compromised by Chinese cash. In short, he is a national security crisis. The hard drive combines emails and text messages that show a massive involvement with companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Also, there are 25,000 images that show a drug-addled, depraved lifestyle — one that decent hardworking Americans will not want near the White House.

Revolver: The FBI has been holding onto the hard drive for almost a year? Any sense of why? Was there any indication that they were seriously interested in a criminal case, assuming that there is, in fact, illegal material on there? If not, why would the FBI simply hold onto information like that? Mr. Bannon: The President must confront the director of the FBI on why the information housed on this hard drive was not moved on immediately. If the content of the hard drive had been released when received in November 2019, there would have been no impeachment of Trump, and Bernie Sanders would be the Democratic Party nominee. This confrontation should take place this weekend in the Oval Office. If Wray doesn’t have a bulletproof reason he should be fired in the room.

Revolver: What are your best estimates on how many foreign entities may have obtained possession of the hard drive? Chinese intel? Mr. Bannon: It’s the actions represented on the hard drive that the American people must understand our enemies know about. The cash and equity given for access to Biden, the favors done for that cash, the drugs, the depravity. The CCP, Russian Intel, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Intel Services — they know the Bidens are for sale. [..] The Bidens are about to be hit with multiple stories from multiple media sources based off evidence beyond the hard drive. Fox and Peter Schweitzer have already started but bigger more mainstream companies are going to weigh in. We already have set in motion the various apparatuses that will release everything.

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If there’s one thing we’ve found out the past week it’s a whole new set of revolving doors exist.

Does This Explain Why Facebook Suppressed Hunter Biden Revelations? (AT)

The moment the New York Post reported on some of the sleazy, corrupt details contained on Hunter Biden’s hard drive, Twitter and Facebook, the social media giants most closely connected to the way Americans exchange political information, went into overdrive to suppress the information and protect Joe Biden. In the case of Facebook, though, perhaps one of those protectors was, in fact, protecting herself. The person currently in charge of Facebook’s election integrity program is Anna Makanju. That name probably doesn’t mean a lot to you, but it should mean a lot – and in a comforting way — to Joe Biden. Before ending up at Facebook, Makanju was a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is an ostensibly non-partisan think tank that deals with international affairs. In fact, it’s a decidedly partisan organization.

In 2009, James L. Jones, the Atlantic Council’s chairman left the organization to be President Obama’s National Security Advisor. Susan Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Eric Shinseki, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Chuck Hagel, and Brent Scowcroft also were all affiliated with the Atlantic Council before they ended up in the Obama administration. The Atlantic Council has received massive amounts of foreign funding over the years. Here’s one that should interest everyone: Burisma Holdings donated $300,000 dollars to the Atlantic Council, over the course of three consecutive years, beginning in 2016. The information below may explain why it began paying that money to the Council. Not only was the Atlantic Council sending people into the Obama-Biden administration, but it was also serving as an outside advisor. And that gets us back to Anna Makanju, the person heading Facebook’s misleadingly titled “election integrity program.”

Makanju also worked at the Atlantic Council. The following is the relevant part of Makanju’s professional bio from her page at the Atlantic Council: “Anna Makanju is a nonresident senior fellow with the Transatlantic Security Initiative. She is a public policy and legal expert working at Facebook, where she leads efforts to ensure election integrity on the platform. Previously, she was the special policy adviser for Europe and Eurasia to former US Vice President Joe Biden, senior policy adviser to Ambassador Samantha Power at the United States Mission to the United Nations, director for Russia at the National Security Council, and the chief of staff for European and NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She has also taught at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and worked as a consultant to a leading company focused on space technologies.”

[..] on the same day in February 2016 that then-Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced that Shokin had offered his resignation, Biden spoke to both Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The White House version is that Biden gave both men pep talks about reforming the government and fighting corruption. And that’s where Makanju comes in: “Anna Makanju, Biden’s senior policy adviser for Ukraine at the time, also listened to the calls and said release of the transcripts would only strengthen Biden’s case that he acted properly. She helped Biden prepare for the conversations and said they operated at a high level, with Biden using language such as Poroshenko’s government being “nation builders for a transformation of Ukraine.”

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Not sure if this enhances the story or kills it.

Ukrainian Lawmaker: 2nd Laptop Related To Hunter Biden Seized By Law Enforcement (DM)

A Ukrainian lawmaker has claimed a second laptop belonging to Hunter Biden’s business contacts in the country has been seized by law enforcement there. Andrii Derkach posted to Facebook on Friday to say there is a ‘second laptop’ involving evidence of corruption and connected to the Bidens, The Daily Beast reports. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has said foreign sources did not provide the Hunter Biden emails first reported last week. He says a laptop containing the correspondence and intimate photos was simply abandoned in a Delaware repair shop and the shop owner reached out to Giuliani’s lawyer. Derkach is one of Giuliani’s principal contacts and was mentioned in an August intelligence assessment that described a concerted Russian effort to disparage Biden.

A Treasury Department sanction announcement from last month characterized Derkach as an ‘active Russian agent for over a decade.’ Now he claims to know of a second laptop, used by ‘two representatives for the interests of [Burisma founder Mykola] Zlochevsky.’ Hunter served on the board of directors at Ukrainian energy company Burisma. In the post Derkach says that laptop ‘was given to Ukrainian law enforcement’ and that Burisma representatives were now serving as ‘witnesses in criminal proceedings.’ The Ukrainian parliamentarian said: ‘The facts that confirm international corruption are stored on the second laptop. ‘This laptop was handed over to Ukrainian law enforcement officers, and the “workers” themselves are now witnesses in criminal proceedings.’

Derkach says the workers are ‘ready to tell’ about international corruption involving the Bidens. He warns: ‘But most importantly! These are not the last witnesses or the last laptop.’ Giuliani has not been shy about discussing his foreign contacts, including with Derkach. In December, Derkach posted on his Facebook page photos of him and Giuliani meeting in Kyiv.

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Panic sells.

How Hysterical Punditry Failed America (Tracey)

It seems like only yesterday that America’s leading organs of elite consensus were engulfed by a full-fledged panic that the country was on the cusp of all-out Civil War. The means by which this prophesied conflict would be instigated — much less fought — were never made exactly clear, but that wasn’t the point. After all, logistical or operational specifics are immaterial when it’s already been ordained that something unimaginably, harrowingly catastrophic is just around the corner. “This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning,” blared a five-alarm-fire warning in the Washington Post by Dana Milbank, who may want to consider a title change from “columnist” to “in-house hysteric”. Not to be outdone, establishment weather-vane Thomas Friedman joined the fray in the New York Times with an equally shocking exhortation: “I can’t say this any more clearly,” he hyperventilated.

“Our democracy is in terrible danger — more danger than it has been since the Civil War, more danger than after Pearl Harbor, more danger than during the Cuban missile crisis […]”. If these fevered prognostications even bore the faintest resemblance to political conditions in the United States, it might seem a bit odd that the pundits in question have since moved on to other subjects. Or to put it this way: if they really believed their own fantastical rhetoric, shouldn’t they have spent the past few weeks taking action more tangible than rattling off a few throwaway columns and browsing Twitter? Not that any “resistance” brigade composed of pallid middle-aged journalists would be especially formidable on the battlefield, but the point is that their conduct doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the incredible alarmism of their words.

More destruction could be in store next month than was wrought in World War II, the most devastating global military conflict in human history? All of civilisation was nearly wiped out in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but we’re supposed to believe that whatever harm is brought about by the election aftermath will exceed that? If so, why aren’t these people stockpiling canned food and training for hand-to-hand combat? They’re not doing anything of the sort because this latest round of histrionics is just a continuation of a theme that has characterised the Trump era: political and cultural elites, whose psyches have been profoundly damaged, will churn out nonstop waves of hysteria rarely noting afterwards if their frenzied forecasts ever panned out.

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I basically see only people doubting these numbers.

China Says Its Economy Grew 4.9% In The Third Quarter (CNBC)

China’s economy recovered further from the coronavirus in the third quarter, according to data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. The world’s second-largest economy reported third-quarter GDP growth on the low end of expectations, up 4.9% from a year ago. That brings growth for the first three quarters of the year to 0.7% from a year ago. Chinese economists expected GDP growth of 5.2% in the third quarter, according to an average of estimates compiled by Wind Information, a financial information database. Slower recovery in Chinese consumption remained a drag, while uncertainty persisted about the ability of other countries to control the coronavirus pandemic and return to economic growth.


“Generally speaking, the overall national economy continued the steady recovery and significant results have been delivered in coordinating epidemic prevention and development,” the bureau said in an English-language release. “However, we should also be aware that the international environment is still complicated and severe,” the release said, “with considerable instabilities and uncertainties, and that we are under great pressure of forestalling epidemic transmissions from abroad and its resurgence at home. The economy is still in the process of recovery and the foundation for sustained recovery needs to be consolidated.”

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This one is easy: China is overproducing once again, that makes the “recovery” look real. But consumption doesn’t follow production.

China’s Inflation Struggles To Perk Up Despite Broader Recovery (R.)

China’s factory gate prices fell at a faster-than-expected pace in September and consumer inflation slowed to its weakest in 19 months, underscoring the challenges still facing China as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The producer price index (PPI) fell for an eighth straight month on an annual basis while consumer prices grew more slowly than expected. The world’s second largest economy has seen a steady recovery after being hard hit by the coronavirus in the first quarter. But a sustained fall in producer prices, seen as a gauge of industrial demand, may rekindle worries about deflation and prompt authorities to provide more support, analysts said.


“The PPI has not rebounded strongly despite the improving trend, pointing to continued weakness in industrial demand. It is unlikely to return to positive territory this year,” said Wang Jun, chief economist at Zhongyuan Bank. “It is possible that the economic recovery in the fourth quarter may not be as strong as it has been in the third quarter.” The PPI fell 2.1% from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement. [..] China’s GDP grew 3.2% year-on-year in the second quarter, and recent data has pointed to a sustained rebound, underpinned by government stimulus and as the virus comes under control. China releases GDP data for the third quarter on Monday.

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“..the autumn surge in infections had changed they way they understood the virus..”

Sweden To Bring In Local Lockdowns As Covid Cases Rise (Sun)

SWEDEN is set to introduce local restrictions as coronavirus cases begin to rise across the country after it shunned lockdown. The nation has been championed by lockdown sceptics as a display of how governments could weather the pandemic storm without using draconian measures. Restaurants, bars and shops stayed open in the spring as many countries shut down their economy – but the now Stockholm appears to be changing its tactics. Dr Johan Nojd, who leads the infectious diseases department in Uppsala, told The Telegraph, said: “It’s more of a lockdown situation – but a local lockdown. He is due to meet with Sweden’s leading health officials on Monday to discussing implementing the new coronavirus measures.

Rules suggested being introduced include telling people to stop meeting the vulnerable and urged to avoid public transport. Dr Nojd also said that if contact tracing shows further links between activities and infections they will not hesitate to impose even tougher measures. He added: “Perhaps tomorrow we will have several talking about concerts or restaurants and then perhaps one could say, ‘in Uppsala now for two or three weeks it is the Public Health Agency’s advice not to sit in restaurants late at night’.” Sweden – which has a population of 10million, only slighter bigger than London – has seen coronavirus cases creeping up since the middle of September. A two week total of 85 cases per 100,000 people has been reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The organisation has marked Sweden with an “orange” alert as they called for coordinated action by European nations to stop a surge in cases.

[..] Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said on Thursday that the autumn surge in infections had changed they way they understood the virus. He said: “I think the obvious conclusion is that the level of immunity in those cities is not at all as high as we have, as maybe some people, have believed,” he said. “I think what we are seeing is very much a consequence of the very heterogeneous spread that this disease has, which means that even if you feel like there have been a lot of cases in some big cities, there are still huge pockets of people who have not been affected yet.”

Read more …

Does anyone know of a -truly- successful contact tracing scheme? Did it work in New Zealand? The problem is obvious here: people don’t remember what they did for the past 14 days.

Alberta’s Contact Tracing Raises Red Flags (CBC)

COVID-19 cases are rising in Alberta, and there are concerns that difficulties involved in contact tracing — both manual and digital — could hamper the province’s ability to slow the spread. Of the 1,812 new cases reported in Alberta last week, 772 (43 per cent) have an unknown source. There are currently 2,836 active cases in the province, 1,054 (37 per cent) from an unknown source. Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said she doesn’t like the look of those numbers. “This is actually one of the cornerstones of reducing spread. If we can’t, basically, kind of find the ring of exposed people and prevent them from spreading it outwards, we’re going to be looking at really, really bad numbers. So it’s a big deal,” she said.


Contact tracing is the process of identifying, notifying and tracking the spread of the virus from individual to individual. Alberta’s team of contact tracers speak to people who have tested positive in order to identify who they have been in close contact with during the previous 14 days. Those close contacts can then be instructed to self-isolate and get tested. Lori Henneigh, acting manager with an Alberta Health Services COVID-19 outbreak team in Red Deer, Alta., told CBC News last month that people often have difficulty remembering what they did 14 days ago. “If you think about it yourself, if you try to think about what you did in the last 14 days, you’ll realize that it’s not easy to recollect what you did two weeks prior,” she said. “We certainly can ask them to look at statements — bills, receipts and things they have at home — to help them remember their activities in the last 14 days.”

Read more …

Peter Schiff.

The Day The International Tax Authorities Came Knocking (Age)

On a sunny Friday in late January, investigators from the Australian Tax Office issued subpoenas and fired off letters as part of an unprecedented probe that reached around the world.It was a similar scene in Amsterdam, where investigators from the Dutch tax agency set about a similar task. So, too, did investigators in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. While none of the millionaire tax dodgers targeted on January 24, including about 100 Australians, knew each other, they shared a bond: they were customers of a little-known Caribbean bank. The Euro Pacific Bank in Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan was founded by American celebrity investor and business commentator Peter Schiff.

The silver-haired and pugnacious businessman is worth an estimated $100 million. On major television networks, popular podcasts and his own YouTube channel, he reminds his audience he predicted the Global Financial Crisis. He also likes to warn people about the upcoming economic apocalypse from which they can take financial refuge in his “privacy assured” bank. Schiff’s celebrity status is likely why some major Australian financial institutions, including Westpac and the Perth Mint, hopped into bed with the Euro Pacific Bank. They weren’t alone. The New York Federal Reserve and Canada’s Bank of Montreal both allowed their customers to transfer funds into the bank, cloaking it in an air of credibility it used to attract thousands of clients, including at least 400 from Australia (about 100 are considered “high risk”).

But on January 24, Euro Pacific became the target of Operation Atlantis, the world’s largest tax evasion probe. Australia’s deputy tax commissioner, Will Day, describes the inquiry as “unprecedented”. An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes in collaboration with The New York Times can reveal that Operation Atlantis is examining the financial transactions of Euro Pacific’s customers. Hundreds of account holders are now suspects in a tax evasion probe.

[..] It was January 2017, almost three years to the day before the ATO began knocking on doors, when Schiff and partner Mark Anderson filed into the Department de Estado – a pale-blue Spanish colonial-style building with two Puerto Rican flags adorning the front entrance — to sign documents registering their new venture. The bank’s new office is on the 10th floor of a blue-glass block that overlooks the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s in the expensive part of San Juan. But former employees speaking on the condition anonymity say the office was a bit like the bank itself. “An empty shell that has the appearance of luxury,” according to one Puerto Rican who worked there. “It was basically empty except for a few desks, chairs and the computers.”

When it opened in San Juan, Euro Pacific was one of 81 offshore banks on the island and it would become by far the biggest. Government records from the time of registration show the bank had 13,000 customer accounts and more than $232 million in deposits. Schiff himself lives there with all the trappings of colonial luxury.

Read more …

Probably a good movie.

Social Media Creators Admit It Dehumanizes People, Disrupts Social Fabric (RT)

An important new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, uses former Silicon Valley insiders to lay bare the existential threat Big Tech poses to civilization. It’s much more than a dilemma. The Social Dilemma is a remarkable documentary about social media platforms and their two billion users, and may well be the most important documentary made in America for decades. The documentary is a radical, insider-based critique of social media and the large tech companies that created it – and continue to profit handsomely from it (especially given that they are monopolies and pay little or no tax in many countries).

Directed by American filmmaker Jeff Orlowski, The Social Dilemma features interviews with a number of former tech giant executives who created the technologies and business model that underpin the social media empire. Social media has only been with us for just over ten years and most of the interviewees are in their thirties. Tristan Harris (a former Google design ethicist) and Jaron Lanier (a computer scientist) – two of the interviewees – both believe that social media and the tech leviathans have created an “existential threat” to those western societies in which they have been permitted to flourish unchecked. They believe that social media platforms dehumanize their customers, disrupt the social fabric and are destroying democracy.

The critique is all the more compelling because it is perhaps only social media and big tech insiders that have a comprehensive understanding of how the system was created and operates. Technological changes have always attracted criticism. Gustave Flaubert, the nineteenth century novelist, disliked railways because he took the view that they “permitted more people to move about, meet and be stupid together.” But this documentary is much more than a simple critique of one particular technological advance. Rather, Orlowski argues that the technology underpinning social media differs qualitatively from all earlier technological developments, and that this gives rise to serious social and political consequences.

Railways, for example, were a mere “tool” that enabled people to travel more widely – they did not dehumanize their customers; nor were they an existential threat to western society. This qualitative difference, the documentary argues, is a result of the unique technology and business model employed by the social media behemoths. According to Orlowski, the technology utilized by social media is inherently addictive and manipulative, and involves a wide-ranging surveillance of its customers of a kind previously unimaginable.

[..] Many users of social media are undoubtedly addicted to it – observe the compulsive way in which people use their phones in public. And, as the documentary points out, there are only two industries that describe their customers as “users,” the tech industry and the drug industry. Social media is clearly manipulative. Excessive use is encouraged by various “growth techniques” such as tagging photos and inviting friends. The tech giants are in constant contact with their users, bombarding them with information tailored to suit their prejudices, together with endless advertisements. Algorithms enable the extraordinarily precise targeting of users. And there is no doubt that social media engages in covert, wide-ranging and ongoing surveillance of users.

Every transaction, click and post of every user is monitored, and mountains of data are accumulated daily in underground computer vaults in Silicon Valley. Some years ago, author John Lanchester noted that “Facebook is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind….what Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads.” This brings us to the social media business model. By monitoring their users, the big tech companies accumulate vast amounts of data that enables them to attract advertisers – who are willing to pay large sums for the precise targeting that only the tech giants can provide. This is why advertisers have turned their backs on traditional media companies – who simply cannot offer them the same degree of precision targeting.

In effect, the tech behemoths sell the lives of their users to their advertisers – who are willing to pay billions of dollars for them. In just under 20 years, the tech giants have become the largest corporations in America, and they grow more prosperous by the day.

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 182020
 


René Magritte The seducer 1953

 

 

USA Today Headline: “A Tabloid Got A Trove Of Data On Hunter Biden From Rudy Giuliani. Now, The FBI Is Probing A Possible Disinformation Campaign

(The FBI is examining whether the material supplied to the New York Post by Rudy Giuliani is part of a disinformation campaign by Russia.)”

 

Seeing that makes me think: with Comey, Strzok, Lisa Page, McCabe et al gone, who initiates and approves such “examinations”? The aforementioned were all involved in setting up the Special Counsel led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller, and that was the most embarrassing episode in the Bureau’s history. Which is saying something given J. Edgar’s penchant for dressing up in women’s clothing.

The Mueller probe was all predicated on vague and unproven Russian “disinformation”, and it fittingly ended with it too. With absolutely nothing coming out of the probe, that was based on the Steele Dossier which the protagonists knew was false even before the probe started, Mueller and his right-hand Andrew Weismann in the end had nothing left but “13 Russians” and Julian Assange to “justify” their $30 million, 2 year “effort”.

The only people they could lay any -always unproven- blame or suspicion on were those who could not defend themselves against false accusations. And when Concord Management unexpectedly did raise a defense, Mueller was shut down by a US judge in no time. It’s pathetic. Mueller’s a liar and a coward, as I’ve said a dozen times now. He should be exiled to Mars.

But what’s worse than his reputation having been destroyed, is that he and his pals hammered the FBI’s reputation as well. So when I read in October 2020 that “The FBI Is Probing A Possible Disinformation Campaign by Russia”, I’m obliged to ask: where does that come from?

Because apparently at least some things haven’t changed yet, despite the Mueller horror show. What the FBI needs is a thorough cleansing, not another nonsensical politically driven opaque “investigation” of Russians. The obvious problem, of course, is that the same media who edged on that disaster will also report on this one without an inch of actual journalistic curiosity or integrity.

The media are in the same political wing as the FBI. They are all counting down the days until November 3, and they are all counting on their mishaps and misdeeds being forgiven and/or buried deep if Joe Biden wins, something they spare no effort to achieve.

 

But unlike the Democrats, in their present-day DNC, Hillary, Pelosi et al, setting, and the mainstream media, who have lost all credibility, the FBI will have a role to play in the future of America. All of the above have been caught in scandalous endeavors to halt a presidential candidate and then unseat a president, but unlike in the case of the Democrats and the media, the nation itself actually has the means to change the FBI.

And it will have to. Because it needs a domestic intelligence service that can go after people who attempt to subvert the workings -and laws- of American society. But yes, that means people like themselves. And once the FBI becomes complicit in such subversion, there is no-one left to investigate them. A classic problem, who will investigate the investigators?

Sure, in “normal” times that should be the House, but the Democrat House is also part of the entire “cabal”. Just remember Adam Schiff’s and Jerry Nadler’s shameless statements of having evidence of collusion when they very obviously did not. So that’s not going to happen. Or at least, that’s what they all think. But it must, Biden victory or not.

Ironically, an Amy Coney Barrett confirmation for the Supreme Court, in that regard, may be seen as a move to save the country, to save the integrity and moral fiber of the United States. Because if the House won’t, and the Senate can’t, save the country from the FBI turning rogue and siding with one side of the political system , the Supreme Court will have to. Or else.

 

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for the entire DNC-FBI-MSM cabal. Which counts on all they’ve done to magically disappear under President Kamala. And that is not going to happen. If the FBI and Capitol Hill will not see to it, the judicial system will. How big a role Michael Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell will play in that depends on how much people like Bill Barr are willing to take on, but Powell is up to the task.

Of course there are legitimate questions about how exactly the New York Post and Rudy Giuliani got hold of the emails and other Hunter Biden-related material. But the fact that the Biden campaign after three days still hasn’t disputed its veracity is a major tell. All they have done is point to Russian disinformation -again- and now the FBI is “investigating” that. The exact same thing Mueller failed to prove.

In other words, we’re still caught in a circle-jerk, only now Facebook and Twitter have joined in too. But the real question should not be about the Russians, that’s always only been a ruse. It should be: how do we restore the reputation and credibility of the FBI that was so thoroughly annulled over the past 5 years?

If Biden wins, nothing will be restored. Because the FBI helped him win. If Trump wins, there’s a slightly better chance. Then again, Trump’s presidency didn’t change much. Comey, Strzok and McCabe disappeared, but new chief Christopher Wray is out there frustrating declassifications, and approving brainless probes like Russian disinformation in the Hunter Biden laptop case.

Which is not just useless, it’s an active attempt to direct attention away from what is actually there: the contents of the laptop. Which, again, remains uncontested by the Biden campaign.

If the FBI cannot be perceived by the American people as an impartial bureau, that will be a very big problem for many years to come. If people fear that it may -again- turn against a presidential candidate for partisan reasons, and lie through their teeth to achieve their goals, that will be it for the Bureau.

 

 

 

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Mar 182017
 
 March 18, 2017  Posted by at 9:04 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Andreas Feininger Production B-17 heavy bomber at Boeing plant, Seattle 1942

 

How Bankers Became The Top Exploiters Of The Economy (Michael Hudson)
World Out Of Whack: What’s Next For Global Real Estate? (CE)
Make Big Banks Put 20% Down—Just Like Home Buyers Do (Kashkari)
Deepening EU Banking Crisis Meets Euro-TARP on Angel Dust (DQ)
The Paranoid Attempts To Tie Trump To Russia (Qz)
Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion (NBC)
Justice Dept. Delivers Documents On Wiretap Claim To Congress (R.)
Secret Service Says Laptop Stolen From Agent’s Car In New York (R.)
A Bad Week and Getting Badder Bigly Fast (Jim Kunstler)
Athens Sees Turk Effort To Dispute Greek Sovereignty In Aegean (K.)
Turkey Threatens To Send Europe ‘15,000 Refugees A Month’ (AFP)
Over 10,000 Refugees Relocated, IOM Says (K.)

 

 

Absolutely brilliant interview with Michael Hudson. Read the whole thing. It’ll give you so much insight.

How Bankers Became The Top Exploiters Of The Economy (Michael Hudson)

There are two ways of thinking about the economy. The school textbooks only talk about was producing goods and services for wages and profits. They don’t talk about rent or unearned income. That’s what I mean by “unreal” – not grounded in production. And they don’t talk about interest either, or the framework of debt and property rights. There’s a lot of talk about what seems to be the circular flow between producers and consumers. That circular flow is called Say’s law. For example, Henry Ford said he paid his workers $5 a day so that they could afford to buy the cars that they produced. Workers are depicted as paying their wages to buy what they make. All that seemed to make sense, but the economy of production is different from financial and property wealth. Who owns the assets, and who owes debts to whom?

If you look at the economic framework in terms of assets and debt, you find that the 1% makes its money by holding the 99% in debt. Or at least, you could say that the 5% make its money by holding the 95% in debt. The trick is to get other people in debt. How do you do that? You make them think that they can gain. They’re willing to borrow to buy a home, because they think that since 1945, the way that most American families have gotten rich – indeed, the way the middle class was created throughout most western countries – was by the increasing price of real estate they bought on credit. What they didn’t realize was that the price of real estate was being bid up in two ways. Number 1: By more bank lending, on easier terms. Number 2: By public infrastructure spending. Cities, states and federal governments built parks, museums, roads, railroads, water and sewer systems, and electric utilities. But this began to come to an end with Reagan and Thatcher in 1980.

You have had a privatization of public infrastructure – goods that the public sector provided for free, saving people from having to pay monopoly prices. Instead of financing public investment by progressive taxation, it was financed by borrowing. Banks got more and more aggressive and reckless in creating new credit, because they felt they were guaranteed against loss. That was the essence of financialization. Financial engineering replaced industrial engineering. What people thought was wealth turned out to be a rentier overhead. This confusion between real tangible wealth and financial overhead claims on the economy was recognized already over 100 years ago by somebody who won a Nobel Prize: Frederick Soddy. But he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. He wrote many books saying what people think of wealth— stocks and bonds, bank loans and property rights —are virtual wealth. They are financial claims on real wealth.

A stock or bond is a claim on the income that real wealth can make. So it’s on the opposite side of the balance sheet from assets. It’s on the liabilities side. Economists used to talk about land as a factor of production. But land rights are really a property claim, like a monopoly claim. It’s as if you’d say Walt Disney’s patents on Mickey Mouse or movies that Walt Disney makes are a factor of production. They’re really a property right to charge a monopoly price. The right to charge a monopoly price for a cable service isn’t really a factor of production. It’s extractive. It’s what economists call a zero-sum activity. So classical economics has a different idea of what national income is from today’s idea. A monopoly right is not an addition to national wealth or income just because monopolists make more. It’s a subtraction from the economy’s circular flow.

Read more …

Painful.

World Out Of Whack: What’s Next For Global Real Estate? (CE)

Ever since anyone can remember, global real estate prices have been going up. Pretty much doesn’t matter which country you’re from (unless, of course, it’s Syria, or Iraq… or Fuhggedistan): if you bought something in the last 2 to 3 decades, it’s like the ceilings were insulated with helium. Even when the 2008 crisis hit and we had Captain Clever ensuring the world that things were just peachy: “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.” – Ben Bernanke, March 28, 2007 Even with that setback real estate has marched upward. The US, of course, took a decent breather and is only today back to where it was pre the GFC. But the US isn’t the world, so let’s look at what everyone else has been up to. Take a look at this:

In truth, it hasn’t just been Mr. and Mrs. Smith in their tweed coats buying up UK properties, just as it hasn’t been Sheila and Bruce in Sydney, or even Maple and Hudson in Canada. A significant amount of buying power in these markets has come from offshore buyers, largely frightened Chinese money being parked. It’s pretty extraordinary, really.Prices alone don’t provide us with the entire picture or provide us with context. I mean, real estate prices in Harare went through the roof, too, in the 2008-09 period (in ZWD) but the currency went through the floor and real purchasing power collapsed. Context, therefore, is important.Also, clearly a swanky penthouse in Manhattan overlooking the Hudson river shouldn’t be priced the same as a swanky penthouse in Vientiane overlooking the Mekong. The main difference? Incomes. So let’s take a look at prices relative to incomes for a better understanding.

Buying a house in the US actually makes a lot more sense. Certainly relative to its international peers the US is cheap. In fact, if you factor in the ability to fix debt for a ridiculously long time in a currency that’s ultimately going to get hammered, and if you need to find somewhere to live then you’ve found a way to essentially be synthetically short the bond market (provided you fix your rates). I’m not advocating this as a strategy but merely pointing out the mechanics of the trade. As investors we’re interested in viewing real estate as we would any investment or asset, and as such understanding the cashflows is important. Naturally, incomes relative to asset prices tell us what the owner’s cashflows are relative to the asset they’ve buying… and the same analysis can be conducted against student loans, car loans – any credit instrument, really. Here’s rents (cashflows) relative to asset prices:

Read more …

Kashkari makes sense. Lots of it. But will he push it through? Put his career on the line for it?

Make Big Banks Put 20% Down—Just Like Home Buyers Do (Kashkari)

There’s a straightforward way to help prevent the next financial crisis, fix the too-big-to-fail problem, and still relax regulations on community lenders: increase capital requirements for the largest banks. In November, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, which I lead, announced a draft proposal to do precisely that. Our plan would increase capital requirements on the biggest banks—those with assets over $250 billion—to at least 23.5%. It would reduce the risk of a taxpayer bailout to less than 10% over the next century. Alarmingly, there has been recent public discussion of moving in the opposite direction. Several large-bank CEOs have suggested that their capital requirements are already too high and are holding back lending.

[..] Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan recently asked, “Do we have [to hold] an extra $20 billion in capital? Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s $200 billion in loans we could make.” It is true that some regulations implemented after the 2008 financial crisis are imposing undue burdens, especially on small banks, without actually making the financial system safer. But the assertion that capital requirements are holding back lending is demonstrably false. How can I prove it? Simple: Borrowing costs for homeowners and businesses are near record lows. If loans were scarce, borrowers would be competing for them, driving up costs. That isn’t happening. Nor do other indicators suggest a lack of loans. Bank credit has grown 23% over the past three years, about twice as much as nominal GDP.

Only 4% of small businesses surveyed by the National Federation of Independent Business report not having their credit needs met. If capital standards are relaxed, banks will almost certainly use the newly freed money to buy back their stock and increase dividends. The goal for large banks won’t be to increase lending, but to boost their stock prices. Let’s not forget: That’s the job of a bank CEO. It isn’t to protect taxpayers. [..] There is a simple and fair solution to the too-big-to-fail problem. Banks ask us to put 20% down when buying our homes to protect them in case we run into trouble. Similarly, taxpayers should make large banks put 20% down in the form of equity to prevent bailouts in case the financial system runs into trouble. Higher capital for large banks and streamlined regulation for small banks would minimize frustration for borrowers. If 20% down is reasonable to ask of us, it is reasonable to ask of the banks.

Read more …

This is why we get the calls for Eurobonds again, and the world’s biggest bad bank.

Deepening EU Banking Crisis Meets Euro-TARP on Angel Dust (DQ)

The total stock of non-performing loans (NPL) in the EU is estimated at over €1 trillion, or 5.4% of total loans, a ratio three times higher than in other major regions of the world. On a country-by-country basis, things take look even scarier. Currently 10 (out of 28) EU countries have an NPL ratio above 10% (orders of magnitude higher than what is generally considered safe). And among Eurozone countries, where the ECB’s monetary policies have direct impact, there are these NPL stalwarts: Ireland: 15.8%; Italy: 16.6%; Portugal: 19.2%; Slovenia: 19.7%; Greece: 46.6%; Cyprus: 49%. That bears repeating: in Greece and Cyprus, two of the Eurozone’s most bailed out economies, virtually half of all the bank loans are toxic. Then there’s Italy, whose €350 billion of NPLs account for roughly a third of Europe’s entire bad debt stock.

Italy’s government and financial sector have spent the last year and a half failing spectacularly to come up with a solution to the problem. The two “bad bank” funds they created to help clean up the banks’ toxic balance sheets, Atlante I and Atlante II, are the financial equivalent of bringing a butter knife to a machete fight. So underfunded are they, they even strugggled to hold aloft smaller, regional Italian banks like Veneto Banca and Popolare di Vicenza, which are now pleading for a bailout from Rome, which in turn is pleading for clemency from Brussels. What little funds Atlante I and Atlante II have left are hemorrhaging value as the “assets” they’ve been used to buy up, invariably at prices that were way too high (often at over 40 cents on the euro), continue to deteriorate. The recent decision of Italy’s two biggest banks, Unicredit and Intesa Sao Paolo, to significantly write down their investment in Atlante is almost certain to discourage the private sector from pumping fresh funds into bailing out weaker banks.

Which means someone else must step in, and soon. And that someone is almost certain to be the European taxpayer. In February ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio called for the creation of a whole new class of government-backed “bad banks” to help buy some of the €1 trillion of bad loans putrefying on bank balance sheets. Constancio’s idea bore a striking resemblance to a formal proposal put forward by the European Banking Authority (EBA) for the creation of a massive EU-wide bad bank that, in the words of EBA president Andrea Enria, would “make it much easier to achieve critical mass and to create a well functioning market for (impaired) assets.” Here’s how it would work, according to Enria’s words:

“The banks would sell their non-performing loans to the asset management company at a price reflecting the real economic value of the loans, which is likely to be below the book value, but above the market price currently prevailing in illiquid markets. So the banks will likely have to take additional losses. The asset manager would then have three years to sell those assets to private investors. There would be a guarantee from the member state of each bank transferring assets to the asset management company, underpinned by warrants on each bank’s equity. This would protect the asset management company from future losses if the final sale price is below the initial transfer price.”

Read more …

The Democrats are self-imploding over this. They need leadership, fast. And untainted.

The Paranoid Attempts To Tie Trump To Russia (Qz)

In the months following Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the US presidential election, it has become increasingly clear that the Democratic party is unwilling—and perhaps unable—to come to terms with the country’s post-election reality. The party’s inability to accept defeat has since manifested itself through an increasingly hysterical campaign to blame Hillary Clinton’s defeat on alleged Russian interference. The charge that Russia, in the words of respected Russia expert and longtime Clinton associate Strobe Talbott, breached “the firewall of American democracy” has been repeated so often and by so many that it has taken on the patina of fact. It has become an article of faith, among disappointed Clinton partisans, mainstream political commentators, Democrats on Capitol Hill and Republicans like senator Lindsey Graham, that the election was tainted and that Trump’s legitimacy as president is questionable, at best.

The tendency to blame domestic disappointments on foreign bogeymen is not new and is perhaps better understood as a wave that periodically surfaces, then temporarily subsumes American politics. Indeed, this current reliance on conspiracy theories and accusations of unpatriotic disloyalty has been a feature, not a bug, of discourse regarding Russia since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine in early 2014. Yet this paranoia is, so far, little more than a distraction. By blaming Clinton’s loss on Russia, the political establishment is able to largely ignore the way economic, trade, and foreign policies failed large numbers of Americans. And, by elevating Vladimir Putin to supervillain status, this neo-McCarthyism is hindering debate and undermining legitimate attempts to deescalate tensions with our Russian colleagues.

MSNBC’s house intellectual Rachel Maddow has been among the most vociferous and, at times, most incisive critics of president Trump. Yet she also recently questioned whether Trump is actually under the control of the Kremlin. During her broadcast on March 9, Maddow told viewers that what she finds “particularly unsettling” is that “we are also starting to see what may be signs of continuing [Russian] influence in our country. Not just during the campaign but during the administration. Basically, signs of what could be a continuing operation.” That Maddow, a popular and respected liberal voice, would indulge in rhetoric of this sort is a worrying sign given the lack of hard evidence it is based on.

While many have convinced themselves that Russia tipped the scale of the election toward Trump, the more sinister allegations of Putin infiltrating the White House have not been born out. Even the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd in early March that he has “no knowledge” and “no evidence” of “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign. Yet Maddow’s charge recalls some of the worst excesses of the early 1950’s, when our political life was marred by the Red Scare and a climate of paranoia prevailed. Unsubstantiated allegations, not dissimilar to the kind Maddow just levied, were characteristic of that era.

Read more …

Steele was paying his ‘sources’ through third parties.

Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion (NBC)

Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and called Donald Trump a dupe of Russia, cast doubt Wednesday night on allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. His comments were in sharp contrast to those of many Clinton partisans — such as former communications director Jennifer Palmieri — who have stated publicly they believe the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election against Clinton. Morell said he had learned that the former officer, Christopher Steele, paid his key Russian sources, and interviewed them through intermediaries.

“On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all,” Morell said at an event sponsored by the Cipher Brief, an intelligence web site. “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.” Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20. “That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said. About the dossier, Morell said, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.” The dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think,” he said.

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No proof on this side of the fence either. Everybody’s just making stuff up.

Justice Dept. Delivers Documents On Wiretap Claim To Congress (R.)

The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it delivered documents to congressional committees responding to their request for information that could shed light on President Donald Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama ordered U.S. agencies to spy on him. The information was sent to the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, said Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Devin Nunes, said in a statement late on Friday that the Justice Department had “fully complied” with the panel’s request.

A government source, who requested anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said an initial examination of the material turned over by the Justice Department indicates that it contains no evidence to confirm Trump’s claims that the Obama administration had wiretapped him or the Trump Tower in New York. The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing on Monday on allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers will testify and are expected to field questions on Trump’s wiretap claim. Leaders of both the House and Senate intelligence committees, including from Trump’s Republican Party, have said they have found no evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims that Obama ordered U.S. agencies to spy on Trump or his entourage. The White House has publicly offered no proof of the allegation.

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What an insane story this is. How did the media get all their info?

Secret Service Says Laptop Stolen From Agent’s Car In New York (R.)

The U.S. Secret Service said on Friday a laptop was stolen from an agent’s car in New York City but that such agency-issued computers contain multiple layers of security and are not permitted to contain classified information. The agency said in a statement that it was withholding additional comment while an investigation continues. ABC News, citing law enforcement sources, said the laptop contained floor plans for Trump Tower, details on the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and other national security information. The New York Daily News, citing police sources, said authorities had been searching for the laptop since it was stolen on Thursday morning from the agent’s vehicle in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

Some items stolen with the laptop, including coins and a black bag with the Secret Service insignia on it, were later recovered, the newspaper reported. CBS News, also citing law enforcement sources, said that some of the documents on the computer included important files on Pope Francis. The agent also told investigators that while nothing about the White House or foreign leaders is stored on the laptop, the information there could compromise national security, the Daily News reported. “There’s data on there that’s highly sensitive,” a police source told the newspaper, adding: “They’re scrambling like mad.”

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Jim was interviewed by Tucker Carlson about this, hope the video shows below (embedding Fox doesn’t always work). Really, Jim, Fox? I know, who else is left?

A Bad Week and Getting Badder Bigly Fast (Jim Kunstler)

[..] it also looks a bit as though the Golden Golem of Re-Greatification has wandered into a political minefield so dense with booby traps that he’s already out of moves. First there’s the debt ceiling problem — which has so far received almost no attention from the Kardashianized collective news media. As David Stockman has pointed out on his blog, the US Treasury amassed a “war chest” of nearly half a trillion dollars last fall (via various book-keeping shenanigans) in expectation that President Hillary would need it to ride out some fiscal bad weather early in her reign. Then, the truly inconceivable happened and Hillary won bigly in the wrong states and not bigly enough in the right ones, and, well….

Immediately, with Trump ascendant, the Treasury and its handmaidens at the Federal Reserve engineered a rapid burn-through of the war chest at a rate of about $90-billion a month since November, so that now there remains only about a month’s worth of walking-around money to run the US Government. With the old debt ceiling truce expired, congress would have to resolve to raise it, to legally enable the Treasury to resume its massive borrowing operations, or else the government won’t be able to pay invoices or issue pension checks or meet any obligations. It could even default on its “no risk” bonds. Those dangers are theoretical for the moment, especially since there is always more accounting fraud to resort to when all else fails. But the longer a debt ceiling stalemate goes on in congress, the more trapped President Trump will be.

The cherry on top is the Federal Reserve’s move to raise interest rates the same day the debt ceiling truce expired. That will thunder through the system, making many loans more expensive to repay, dampening the real estate markets (at a time when commercial real estate is already tanking), and draining all kinds of other mojo (however falsely engineered) from the Potemkin economy. As if being trapped in a political minefield isn’t bad enough, the remaining safe patch Trump is stranded on turns out to be the LaBrea Tar Pit of health care reform. At this point, the crusade is doing worse than going nowhere — it’s getting sucked into the primordial bitumen where the mastodons and camelops sleep.

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Watch out, Merkel, Trump, NATO. You’re playing with fire.

Athens Sees Turk Effort To Dispute Greek Sovereignty In Aegean (K.)

In what is seen in Athens as an effort by Ankara to push through its message that Greece has limited sovereignty in the area of the Eastern Mediterranean surrounding the island of Kastelorizo, Turkish forces have in recent days maintained a steady presence in the region, either through military exercises or with the dispatch of research vessels. According to a navigational telex (navtex) issued by Turkey, the Piri Reis oceanographic vessel will remain in the area south of Kastelorizo until Monday. Furthermore, according to another two navigational telexes, Turkey is planning to conduct exercises with live ammunition in areas west and east of Kastelorizo (within Turkish territorial waters).

Moreover, Ankara has already announced that it will conduct hydrocarbon explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean next month. It remains to be seen exactly what part of the Eastern Mediterranean Turkey plans to explore. In Athens, Turkey’s moves are seen to be clearly linked to the decision by Cyprus to move ahead, in spite of Ankara’s objections, with the extraction of natural gas from drilling block 11 in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In an interview with CNN Greece, which will be broadcast Friday, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades again expressed his concerns over the tensions that may be further fueled in the period stretching “from now until the Turkish referendum (on April 16),” and by the ongoing effort to create “an atmosphere of fanaticism within Turkish society.”

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The Erdogan referendum is one month from now. Much more important to him till then than international relations.

Turkey Threatens To Send Europe ‘15,000 Refugees A Month’ (AFP)

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has threatened to “blow the mind” of Europe by sending 15,000 refugees a month to EU territory, in an intensifying dispute with the bloc. Ankara and Brussels almost a year ago on March 18 signed a landmark deal that has substantially lessened the flow of migrants from Turkey to Europe. But the accord is now hanging in the balance due to the diplomatic crisis over the blocking of Turkish ministers from holding rallies in Europe. “If you want, we could open the way for 15,000 refugees that we don’t send each month and blow the mind” of Europe, Soylu said in a speech late Thursday, quoted by the Anadolu news agency. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has already indicated that Turkey could rip up the deal and said Turkey was no longer readmitting migrants who crossed into Greece.

The crisis was sparked when the Netherlands and Germany refused to allow Turkish ministers to campaign in a April 16 referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, prompting the Turkish strongman to compare them with Nazi Germany. Soylu, a hardliner considered close to Erdogan, accused The Hague and Berlin of involvement in June 2013 anti-Erdogan protests, October 2014 pro-Kurdish riots and the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt. “They are trying to complete the work that they did not finish. Who is doing this work? It’s the Netherlands and Germany,” Soylu said. He accused Europe of failing to help Turkey enter the bloc and of not helping with its fight against terror. “Europe, do you have that kind of courage…? Let us remind you that you cannot play games in this region and ignore Turkey,” he added.

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There were supposed to be 160,000. And this is less than one month of what Turkey threatens to send over.

Over 10,000 Refugees Relocated, IOM Says (K.)

More than 10,000 asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea have been relocated from Greece to other European Union states since the launch of the bloc’s relocation program in 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration, which is implementing the scheme. Since the beginning of March, 367 people have left Greece for Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, bringing the total number of people relocated from Greece to 10,004, IOM said on Friday. Over the same period, another 475 people were relocated from Italy. The total number of people relocated from Greece and Italy since the program was launched in October 2015 now stands at 14,439, the organization said.

“We have seen a steady increase of pledges and acceptance from participating EU countries in the past few months. At this rate, there will be a further 15,000 to 18,000 relocations from Greece by the end of the program,” said Eugenio Ambrosi, director of IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway and Switzerland. The numbers are short of the original target as 66,400 places had been allocated for relocation from Greece and 39,600 from Italy. “We cannot rest at ease because the overall numbers are too low given the needs in Greece and the commitments that were made. We continue to encourage EU member-states to follow through fully on their commitments,” Ambrosi said.

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