Feb 172021
 
 February 17, 2021  Posted by at 10:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  55 Responses »


Gutzon Borglum Repairing the Face of Abraham Lincoln, Mount Rushmore 1962

 

New French Nasal Spray Eliminates 99% Of Covid Virus (CF)
S–t Public Defenders See: The Great Covid-19 Jury Charade (Taibbi)
The False and Exaggerated Claims About the Capitol Riot (Greenwald)
Trump Acquitted (Again), But Trump Hatred Continues (Ron Paul)
Trump Cuts Ties With Giuliani (F.)
Trump Unleashes Scathing Statement Blasting Sen. Mitch McConnell (JTN)
Comey Told Clapper FBI Unable To ‘Sufficiently Corroborate’ Steele (JTN)
New Comey Email Raises More Questions About Steele Dossier (Turley)
Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson Raised $64G For Anti-Trump Film (Fox)
Is This the Greatest Bubble of All Time? (CHS)
Who Bought the $4.5 Trillion Added in One Year to US National Debt? (WS)
Bayer, US Officials Pressured Mexico To Drop Glyphosate Ban (G.)

 

 

This doesn’t often happen, but it did yesterday.

 

 

Biden said some strange things last night. His comments on China and the Uighurs were very weird.

But even then Trump steals the headlights.

 

 

Problem solved?!

New French Nasal Spray Eliminates 99% Of Covid Virus (CF)

A French pharmaceutical company has developed a nasal spray that it says could eliminate up to 99% of the Covid-19 virus, with the product set to be available to buy within weeks. French group Pharma & Beauty (P&B) has been working on the spray for almost a year. It says that according to several studies it can eliminate 99% of the viral load in nasal passages within 30 seconds and reduce the spread of the virus by up to 90%. The company is set to begin selling the product from March 1. Production is scheduled to begin next week at the P&B site in Montélimar, Drôme; and then in four other P&B factories across France.


Between 1 million-3 million bottles are expected to be available in March, followed by 13 million-15 million each month from April. Each bottle of 30ml is expected to last one month, and will be sold at €14.90 each. A statement on the P&B LinkedIn page reads: “[The spray] prevents viral spread by mechanically dislodging infectious agents in the nasal cavity, and facilitating their evacuation – and locally reduces the viral load.” The spray is 40% ionised water with high antimicrobial properties and 60% purified water.

Read more …

Curious consequences: “This left a lot of people who had not even been convicted of a crime but couldn’t afford bail in a purgatory-like state of open-ended detention.

S–t Public Defenders See: The Great Covid-19 Jury Charade (Taibbi)

When the world ground to a halt a year ago thanks to Covid-19, Americans quickly worried over the important questions. Will we still get to go to basketball games? Will McDonald’s only be Drive-Thru now? Do manicurists deliver? The parts of the country that were already out of sight to most receded further from view. Covid-19 struck at the elderly in rest homes, but the population that took perhaps the toughest hit was behind bars. By June, the rate of infection in America’s jails and prisons was seven times that of the general population. By this month, 612,000 cases had been reported in correctional facilities, with at least 2,700 deaths among prisoners and corrections officials.

In news reports, we mostly read that prosecutors and corrections officials were trying to find ways to reduce the risk of disease both in jails and in court, another institution that traditionally required people to congregate indoors. Many districts suspended jury trials indefinitely, a serious problem for those awaiting trial, and one that raised a question: if officials were too worried about the safety of jurors to schedule trials, what did that mean for grand juries? In other words, was the pandemic too dangerous for speedy trial rights, but not dangerous enough to slow indictments? Were there places where jury trials were canceled, but grand juries were not? In some select jurisdictions across the country, the answer appeared — and appears — to be yes.

“It highlights the way in which the pandemic is being used selectively,” says Scott Hechinger of Zealous, a national public defender advocacy organization. “In some places it’s used to perpetuate the system, in some places, to make it worse.” The significance of jury trials is obvious. Defendants have a right to them, and they also have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, i.e. the government is not allowed to charge a person and leave them under suspicion indefinitely. Cases must be adjudicated in a reasonable period of time. In some jurisdictions, the satisfaction of speedy trial rights means getting a defendant to trial within a concrete number of days, though the calculation is often complicated.

During the pandemic, however, jury trials were suspended in many jurisdictions. In some of those places, it was understood that speedy trial rights simply had to be put on hold until officials could, as Donald Trump would say, figure out what the hell is going on. This left a lot of people who had not even been convicted of a crime but couldn’t afford bail in a purgatory-like state of open-ended detention.

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Did they apologize? Or is that not done anymore in 2021?

The False and Exaggerated Claims About the Capitol Riot (Greenwald)

What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned. But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.

Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.

One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.” A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaborated on that story:

After publication of these two articles, this horrifying story about a pro-Trump mob beating a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher was repeated over and over, by multiple journalists on television, in print, and on social media. It became arguably the single most-emphasized and known story of this event, and understandably so — it was a savage and barbaric act that resulted in the harrowing killing by a pro-Trump mob of a young Capitol police officer.


It took on such importance for a clear reason: Sicknick’s death was the only example the media had of the pro-Trump mob deliberately killing anyone. In a January 11 article detailing the five people who died on the day of the Capitol protest, the New York Times again told the Sicknick story: “Law enforcement officials said he had been ‘physically engaging with protesters’ and was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

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“Without the Chief Justice, there was no Constitutional impeachment trial. So they put on a show trial instead.”

Trump Acquitted (Again), But Trump Hatred Continues (Ron Paul)

Last week’s second impeachment trial of former President Trump should serve as a warning that something is very wrong in US politics. Far from a measured, well-investigated, rock-solid case against the former president, America was again abused with day after day of character assassination, innuendo, false claims, and even falsified “evidence.” The trial wasn’t intended to win a conviction of Trump for “incitement” because the Democrats already knew that the votes were not there. So, just as with the last impeachment trial, the goal was to fling as much dirt at Donald Trump as they could while the cameras were rolling. Their hatred of Donald Trump is so deep and visceral that probably a psychologist would have been more beneficial to them than yet another impeachment trial.

It would be incorrect to say that the House managers’ case fell apart, because they had no case to begin with. They never had a case because they made no effort to develop a case. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court saw from the beginning that this was no legitimate impeachment trial and informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would not preside. Without the Chief Justice, there was no Constitutional impeachment trial. So they put on a show trial instead. As Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley kept asking, why didn’t the House schedule a single hearing to investigate what really happened up to and on the day of the Capitol melee on January 6th? They had weeks to do so. Professor Turley believes they might even have been able to make a decent case if they had tried.

Why did they not call witnesses? Were there no rioters who could be called to explain under oath how Trump’s speech had inspired them to enter the Capitol building to overturn the election? Were they afraid that under cross-examination we might have found out more about Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ claim that Trump offered to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington before January 6th but that his offer was rebuked? What about reports that Capitol Hill Police were left without back-up and unprepared for what happened? House and Senate leadership is responsible for security at the Capitol and they obviously failed. Why?

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Can Michael van der Veen handle this one too?

Trump Cuts Ties With Giuliani (F.)

Attorney Rudy Giuliani is “not currently” representing former President Donald Trump “in any legal matters,” Trump advisor Jason Miller said in a statement Tuesday, as the ex-president’s former personal lawyer faces multiple lawsuits against him for his role in Trump’s effort to overturn the presidential election results. Miller’s statement was in response to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Trump, Giuliani and two far-right groups, which alleges the president and his lawyer violated the Ku Klux Klan Act in their attempt to stop the election results from being certified by Congress. Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney throughout his presidency and most recently helmed the president’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge the election results in court, including appearing on Trump’s behalf in a Pennsylvania case.


The former mayor said he did not represent Trump in his Senate impeachment trial—despite a willingness to do so—because he was a “witness” in the case and gave a speech at the rally that preceded Trump supporters’ seizure of the U.S. Capitol building. Giuliani has been sued for defamation twice in recent weeks for spreading unsubstantiated election fraud claims involving voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. He is also reportedly under federal investigation by the Southern District of New York for his business dealings in Ukraine, and an ethics complaint has been filed that seeks to disbar Giuliani in New York.

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Power struggle: “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack..”

Trump Unleashes Scathing Statement Blasting Sen. Mitch McConnell (JTN)

Former President Donald Trump issued a scathing statement on Tuesday in which he excoriated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in the fiery statement. “McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.”

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” the former president said elsewhere in his statement. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.” The nation’s 45th commander-in-chief also attacked Republicans Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the Peach State’s GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the statement.

“Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race,” Trump said. “It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will,” Trump declared.

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In a functioning society, there would be an investigation.

Comey Told Clapper FBI Unable To ‘Sufficiently Corroborate’ Steele (JTN)

The very day in January 2017 that then-FBI Director James Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring content from Christopher Steele’s dossier had been “verified,” he wrote President Obama’s outgoing intelligence community chief with a very different assessment of the British spy’s intelligence on Russia collusion, a newly released memo shows. “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting,” Comey wrote in a Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that was declassified and made public through an open records lawsuit by the Southeastern Legal Foundation. The memo recounts an internal debate inside the U.S. intelligence community during one of the most delicate moments in the FBI’s then six-month old Crossfire Hurricane probe.

CIA officials had already informed Comey’s FBI that the target of the FISA warrant, Carter Page, wasn’t a Russian spy but rather an asset helping U.S. intelligence. The bureau had received warnings about Steele and the reliability of his source network, including that it might have been compromised by Russian disinformation. Agents had also just recommended on Jan. 4, 2017 shutting down the probe’s inquiry into incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lack of evidence. The FBI had been warned the previous summer that Hillary Clinton’s campaign may have planted the false Russia collusion story as a way to “vilify” Trump and distract from her email scandal, and agents were about to interview Steele’s primary sub-source, who would discount much of the information in the dossier attributed to him as bar talk and unconfirmed rumor not worthy of official intelligence.

And the larger intelligence community had decided it did not want to vouch for the Steele dossier in its official Intelligence Community Assessment about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. It was in that environment in the final days of the Obama administration that Clapper had written Comey earlier on Jan. 12, 2017 to inform the FBI that Clapper had decided to release a public statement declaring that the Steele dossier was only mentioned in an appendix to the intel community’s report because the “IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” Comey tried to push back, suggesting Steele was deemed reliable (he actually had been terminated by the FBI for leaking by that time) and that his network included sources that might be in a position to know things (although the key source had already disavowed the information attributed to him in the dossier).

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“Comey signed a statement to the secret court that the information was “verified” on the same day that he admitted to Clapper that “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.”

New Comey Email Raises More Questions About Steele Dossier (Turley)

Justthenews has released a previously undisclosed email from former FBI Director James Comey that raises additional questions about his role in using the now discredited Steele dossier as part of the FBI Russian investigation. The email on Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper falsely claims that Christopher Steele was found to be “reliable” but then states that the FBI could not “sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” The email went out the same day that Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring that content from Christopher Steele’s dossier had been “verified.” We are still waiting for the results of the John Durham investigation but this email raised additional questions about Comey’s role.

Comey has testified that he would not have approved such surveillance if he knew then what he knew now about the Steele dossier. Comey signed a statement to the secret court that the information was “verified” on the same day that he admitted to Clapper that “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” Yet, he also did not tell Clapper what the FBI had already knew about Steele and Carter Page. While Comey later insisted that he was unaware of basic information, he was signing applications for secret surveillance and advising Clapper without either confirming or disclosing information. The CIA had already told the FBI that Page was a U.S. intelligence asset, not a Russian spy. It had also been warned that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was trying to plant a false Russian collusion story in the media.(The Clinton campaign and its attorney Marc Elias had reportedly denied that the campaign funded the dossier until after the election)

It was also told that Steele’s primary source was a suspected Russian agent and that is network was compromised by Russian intelligence. Steele had also been reportedly terminated by the FBI as a source because of his efforts to plant stories in the media. Comey mentioned none of this and instead cautioned Clapper against a statement saying that there was no judgment on the reliability of the Steele dossier. He was opposed to a public statement declaring that the Steele dossier was only mentioned in an appendix to the intel community’s report because the “IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” Comey insisted her was reliable:

“I just had a chance to review the proposed talking points on this for today. Perhaps it is a nit, but I worry that it may not be best to say ‘the IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.’ I say that because we HAVE concluded that the source is reliable and has a track record with us of reporting reliable information; we have some visibility into his source network, some of which we have determined to be sub-sources in a position to report on such things; and much of what he reports in the current document is consistent with and corroborative of other reporting included in the body of the main IC report.” So Comey worked to preserve the public narrative in support of the Steele dossier, which was being widely disseminated and fueled what was later found to be an unsupported conspiracy theory. He did so while admitting later “That said, we are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting to include it in the body of the report.”

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“The GoFundMe page initially claimed the feature-length documentary would premiere in January 2018.”

Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson Raised $64G For Anti-Trump Film (Fox)

Rick Wilson, co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project PAC, raised nearly $65,000 for a film called “Everything Trump Touches Dies” that has yet to be released. Wilson raised $64,766 from around 1,400 donors for the film – based on his book under the same title – on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, though donations have since been paused for the project. The GoFundMe page initially claimed the feature-length documentary would premiere in January 2018. But a January 2018 update from Wilson said filmmakers were still working on its “first round of interviews” and asked people to give more money to the project.

“Team Trump won’t like this, but we’re in the home stretch in this fundraising effort for [the film],” Wilson wrote. “Your support is more vital and appreciated than ever.”Wilson provided no updates for nearly two months, when he said in March 2018 that the film was in “final production” and again asked for more money. Nearly a year later in February 2019, Wilson insisted that the project was “still happening” and that he needed to “expand the scope of the project to truly tell the story.” “We will endeavor to keep our community more informed as the project goes forward,” he wrote, but no update has been posted to the page since then. [..] Ben Howe, who is listed as the project’s director and producer, told Fox News Tuesday that the film is still in production.

“Delays have caused issues, the primary one in the last year being the difficulty of filming the remaining interviews with location shooting being so limited due to quarantine,” Howe said, “An issue that’s affecting filming across all film-related industries – including Hollywood – so certainly not limited to this.” “The issue now is that, in almost every way imaginable, the world looks very different than when Rick first asked me to direct,” Howe continued. “So, what an interviewee might’ve offered as analysis at the end of 2019 is almost certainly different today and that has to be accommodated for the film to offer any value.”

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GBOAT.

Is This the Greatest Bubble of All Time? (CHS)

[..] what’s the greatest bubble of all time (GBOAT)? The easiest way to measure speculative bubbles is the starting price and the peak price, but that may not do justice to the question. Perhaps the number of people drawn into the speculative frenzy is a better measure of GBOAT: after all, if only a handful of speculators lose their shirts, how that can be the greatest bubble of all time? To even qualify, a bubble must drawn the masses into the euphoria and then slaughter them as mercilessly as Hammurabi massacred the goat profiteers. Another qualifying factor is the scale of disconnect from reality. Even if you overpaid for a goat in a speculative mania, at least you can still milk the goat and make cheese. But tulips, which drove the remarkably excessive speculative Tulip Mania in 1636 Holland, are not even edible.

At least tulips offer a bit of beauty in a world besmirched by speculative ugliness, but the shares of the South Seas Company that sucked in the best and brightest in 1720 Britain and proceeded to lay waste to their wealth did not even have that saving grace. Another qualifying factor is the power of the delusion driving the bubble. To qualify as a contender for GBOAT, the mania has to be utterly convincing and persuasive to everyone involved. In other words, it isn’t even speculation to invest all your money in the bubble, it’s simply common sense due to the dead certainty of the proposition fueling the mania.

The 1999-2000 Dot-Com Bubble is a good example of the universality of belief in the obviousness of the gains to be reaped: the Internet was changing the world and would expand for decades, so obviously the companies involved would grow for decades, too, as would their profits (obviously!). The chart of the dot-com bubble offers a textbook example of how a bubble gathers momentum, spikes to insane heights, falters as the smart money exits but soars to a lower high as true believers buy the dip. Once the buying is exhausted, the bubble collapses back to its starting level.

But not all bubbles follow this trajectory. Here is a current chart of IWM, the Russell 2000 index, courtesy of NorthmanTrader.com. (I added the black box and the red line in the center panel to indicate the previous bubble top.) The violence and amplitude of this speculative mania over the past year makes the dot-com bubble appear quaintly staid in comparison.

So let’s make the case that we’re experiencing the greatest bubble of all time in real time. The magnitude of the price movement is extreme: check. The number of people sucked into the mania is extreme: check. The power of the delusion is extreme: check. (The Fed will print trillions forever, federal government will borrow and blow trillions forever, the world is about to enter Roaring 20s, technology is changing the world, etc. etc. etc.) The gains to be reaped are extremely obvious: check.

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Much more in the article.

Who Bought the $4.5 Trillion Added in One Year to US National Debt? (WS)

Driven by stimulus and bailouts, and fired up by the tax cuts and by grease and pork, the Incredibly Spiking US National Debt has skyrocketed by $4.55 trillion in 12 months, to $27.86 trillion, after having already spiked by $1.4 trillion in the prior 12 months, which had been the Good Times. These trillions are all Treasury securities that form the US national debt, and someone had to buy every single one of these securities:

So we’ll piece together who bought those trillions of dollars in Treasury Securities that have whooshed by over the past 12 months. Tuesday afternoon, the Treasury Department released the Treasury International Capital data through December 31 which shows the foreign holders of the US debt. From the Fed’s balance sheet, we can see what the Fed bought. From the Federal Reserve Board of Governors bank balance-sheet data, we can see what the banks bought. And from the Treasury Department’s data on Treasury securities, we can see what US government entities bought. In the fourth quarter, foreign central banks, foreign government entities, and foreign private-sector entities such as companies, banks, bond funds, and individuals, reduced their holdings by $35 billion from the third quarter, to $7.04 trillion. This was still up from a year ago by $192 billion (blue line, right scale in the chart below). But their share of the Incredibly Spiking US National Debt fell to 25.4%, the lowest since 2007 (red line, right scale):

Japan (blue line), the largest foreign creditor of the US, reduced its holdings in Q4 by $20 billion, to $1.26 trillion. But compared to a year earlier, its holdings were still up by $102 billion. China (red line) continued on trend, gradually reducing its holdings. In Q4, its holdings ticked down just a tad, and over the 12-month period fell by $8 billion, to $1.06 trillion:

[..] All these holders of the monstrous US Treasury debt, combined into one mountain, and color-coded for your amusement by category of holder as of December 31:

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Go AMLO!

Bayer, US Officials Pressured Mexico To Drop Glyphosate Ban (G.)

Internal government emails reveal Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killers. The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based products.

The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Thailand officials had also cited concerns for public health in seeking to ban the weed killer, but reversed course after US threats about trade disruption. So far the collaborative campaign to get the Mexican government to reverse its policy does not appear to be working.

The Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has given farmers until 2024 to stop using glyphosate. On 31 December, the country published a “final decree” calling not only for the end of the use of glyphosate but also a phase-out of the planting and consumption of genetically engineered corn, which farmers often spray with glyphosate, a practice that often leaves residues of the pesticide in finished food products. The moves are for the “purpose of contributing to food security and sovereignty” and “the health of Mexican men and women”, according to the Mexican government. But Mexico’s concern for the health of its citizens has triggered fear in the United States for the health of agricultural exports, especially Bayer’s glyphosate products.

Read more …

 

 

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Babylon Bee Wheel of Science

 

 

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Dec 302020
 


Juan Gris Guitar on a chair 1913

 

Travelers May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021 (JTN)
ER Nurse Tests Positive For COVID19 Eight Days After He Was Vaccinated (DM)
Covid Poses ‘Greatest Threat To Mental Health Since Second World War’ (G.)
Majority Of New COVID Cases In UK Are New Variant (Sky)
McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Checks, Signals New Package (Hill)
Bernie Sanders Fights for a $2,000 Check for You on the Senate Floor (Jac.)
10 Stats About The $2,000 Checks (DP)
Ukraine Press Conference Explicitly Ties Hunter & Joe Biden To Corruption (ZH)
Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence (MPN)
UK House Prices Rise By Most In Six Years (R.)
Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth (AIER)

 

 

 

 

Carlin immune system

 

 

I’m afraid I lost the plot line along the way. If the chief WHO scientist says there’s no evidence the vaccine protects you from being infected, or even from infecting others, what is the purpose of a vaccine passport?

Travelers May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021 (JTN)

Travelers may need to show proof that they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel in 2021. “Several companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries,” CBS-Miami reported. “The Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United States and the government of Aruba,” the station reported.

Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and communications officer for The Commons Project, told CNN Business that a simple and easily transferable set of credentials, or a “digital yellow card,” could be the answer. Last week, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “immunity passports” for Americans to prove they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine might help the country get “back to a new normal.” Dr. Thomas Frieden told CBS that “done right, immunity passports could be one of a series of things that could help us get to a new normal as soon as possible.” “We don’t know if this is going to happen, but fundamentally we’re seeing companies and countries giving people a certificate of vaccination,” he said. “The risk of this is it will make inequality even worse. If people have both susceptibility to the virus and less access to the vaccine, they’ll have even more problems.”

Frieden, who served as director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, said for the passports to work, there would need to be “absolute privacy,” adding that the vaccine should be “absolutely opt in.” “Fundamentally, we’re facing a very difficult few weeks and few months. There’s not enough vaccine yet and we’re seeing the highest levels of cases, hospitalizations and deaths the U.S. has since the start of this pandemic,” he said. In an op-ed published this week in The Washington Post, Frieden and co-author Aaron Schwid, a human rights lawyer, wrote: “As more and more people are vaccinated, it’s time to carefully design a system of ‘immunity passports.'” “These passports would serve as a form of proof of immunity, allowing people who have immunity to engage in some activities others cannot. That could make it possible to ratchet down protective measures, such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, without increasing health risks,” they wrote.

Read more …

We’ll have to see a lot more of these stories before someone admits there may be a problem.

ER Nurse Tests Positive For COVID19 Eight Days After He Was Vaccinated (DM)

A California nurse has tested positive for COVID-19 just eight days after receiving the vaccination. ER nurse Matthew W., received the Pfizer vaccine on December 18, according to a post from Instagram. ‘Got my Covid vaccine! The 15 minutes afterward sitting around with a bunch of others while health care workers asked us how we felt made me think of an opium den. I’ll report back if I start to grow a third arm,’ Matthew wrote. But on Christmas Eve, Matthew, who works at two different hospitals in San Diego, began feeling sick after working a shift in the COVID-19 unit. He told ABC 10 News, that he first got the chills before coming down with muscle aches and fatigue. On December 26, he went to a hospital to get tested for the virus and tested positive.


And while it is surprising, it’s not unexpected, according to health experts who weighed in on the case. Dr Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego, told the station: ‘It’s not unexpected at all. If you work through the numbers, this is exactly what we’d expect to happen if someone was exposed.’ And while it is surprising, it’s not unexpected, according to health experts who weighed in on the case. ‘That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50%, and you need that second dose to get up to 95%,’ Ramers added. Matthew says he is feeling better since his symptoms appeared last week.

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“..the number of people in contact with mental health services has never been higher, and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity.”

Covid Poses ‘Greatest Threat To Mental Health Since Second World War’ (G.)

The coronavirus crisis poses the greatest threat to mental health since the second world war, with the impact to be felt for years after the virus has been brought under control, the country’s leading psychiatrist has said. Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said a combination of the disease, its social consequences and the economic fallout were having a profound effect on mental health that would continue long after the epidemic is reined in. As many as 10 million people, including 1.5 million children, are thought to need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the crisis. The prediction comes as the virus surges in the UK, and highlights the need for a plan that ensures those who develop mental illness or see existing conditions worsen have swift access to effective support in the years ahead.

“This is going to have a profound effect on mental health,” James said. “It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war. It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences.” Demand for mental health services dropped at the start of the pandemic as people stayed away from GP surgeries and hospitals, or thought treatment was unavailable. But the dip was followed by a surge in people seeking help that shows no sign of abating. Data from NHS Digital reveals that the number of people in contact with mental health services has never been higher, and some hospital trusts report that their mental health wards are at capacity. “The whole system is clearly under pressure,” James said.

Modelling by the Centre for Mental Health forecasts that as many as 10 million people will need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the coronavirus epidemic. About 1.3 million people who have not had mental health problems before are expected to need treatment for moderate to severe anxiety, and 1.8 million treatment for moderate to severe depression, it found. The overall figure includes 1.5 million children at risk of anxiety and depression brought about or aggravated by social isolation, quarantine or the hospitalisation or death of family members. The numbers may rise as the full impact becomes clear on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, care homes and people with disabilities.

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The UK is moving into danger territory. If only they had not cut their medical facilities in half.

Majority Of New COVID Cases In UK Are New Variant (Sky)

The new, faster-spreading coronavirus variant makes up the majority of new cases in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told Sky News. A recent surge of COVID-19 cases is largely due to the variant which may be up to 70% more infectious than the original one, Mr Hancock said. “The ‘suppress the virus’ bit has got a whole lot harder since the new variant really got going over December,” he said. “Now the majority of the new cases in the UK are the new variant. It is much, much easier to transmit from one person to another.”


The faster transmission had put extreme pressure on the NHS, Mr Hancock added. “It is absolutely critical that people follow the rules and do everything they can to stop the spread, particularly of the new variant of this virus that transmits so much faster.” “So, the challenge of suppressing the virus has got harder, but thankfully, the cavalry has arrived in terms of not one, but two vaccines – and we’ve got to get them into people’s arms at the speed at which they can be manufactured”.

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“..the GOP leader later filed a bill that would increase the amount of the stimulus checks, repeal a legal shield for tech companies known as Section 230 and create an election commission that would study the November elections.”

McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Checks, Signals New Package (Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to set up a stand-alone vote on increasing the amount of recently passed stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both tried to get consent for the Senate to bring up legislation that passed the House in a 273-134 vote on Monday. The GOP leader did not directly address why he objected, but under the Senate’s rules any one senator can block efforts to set up votes or pass bills. McConnell signaled separately that he could package the increase in direct stimulus checks, with a repeal of a tech shield that has emerged as a top target for Trump and election-related investigations.


Trump, in his statement on signing the $2.3 trillion package, said the Senate would “start the process for a vote” that tackles the three issues. “During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said. “Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together. This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he added. McConnell did not provide additional details during his floor speech about how he might bring the measures up. But the GOP leader later filed a bill that would increase the amount of the stimulus checks, repeal a legal shield for tech companies known as Section 230 and create an election commission that would study the November elections.

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“Sanders has the procedural means at his disposal to keep the Senate in session all the way to New Year’s Day..”

Bernie Sanders Fights for a $2,000 Check for You on the Senate Floor (Jac.)

For most of the last few decades, budget standoffs in Washington tended to follow the same script: Republicans threatened to block some domestic spending bill or fully shut down the government unless Democrats agreed to let the GOP own the libs with something bad like a JPMorgan giveaway, a tax break for the rich, or a draconian cut to a social program. When Democrats controlled Congress, they never mustered the courage to respond with their own version of the same shrewd tactics. Even toward the end of the Bush era when the Iraq War was deeply unpopular, they never made a serious attempt to hold up a bloated GOP-written Pentagon bill in order to try to get their way on a progressive initiative. But at the end of one of the worst years in recent history, it seems things are changing.

In a long overdue script-flipping move, Sen. Bernie Sanders is now moving to halt a major defense bill until and unless Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell allows a full vote on legislation to give millions of starving Americans $2,000 in emergency aid. That legislation passed the House yesterday over opposition from a majority of House Republicans, who tried their best to deny their own constituents much-needed aid. Now the bill is in McConnell’s hands, and Sanders is pulling a McConnell on McConnell. He is imperiling the GOP boss’s top priority — the defense bill that authorizes pay increases for soldiers, military training, new weapons systems, while also complicating attempts to draw down troops deployed in Afghanistan. That McConnell-backed legislation could be stalled unless he agrees to Sanders’ demands and stops obstructing a progressive priority.

The Vermont independent appears ready to play hardball: He is doing his best impression of Marc Maron’s cameo in Almost Famous, effectively screaming “lock the gates!” and threatening to force Senate Republicans to remain in Washington, rather than flee while the country withers. The American Prospect reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), with the backing of the Senate Democratic caucus, is prepared to make life miserable for Senate Republicans if they do not put a clean vote on the floor to increase one-time emergency payments to most Americans approved in the recent COVID relief package from $600 to $2,000. Sanders has the procedural means at his disposal to keep the Senate in session all the way to New Year’s Day, inconveniencing Senators of both parties, particularly the incumbent Republicans from Georgia, who are in their final full week of campaigning for runoff elections on January 5….

The Senate operates on the principle of unanimous consent. It’s not impossible to get things done if one Senator objects, but it’s quite a bit slower. The majority needs to hold votes and waste time to muscle past an objecting Senator. For this reason, Sanders can prevent quick passage of the defense bill override, the only thing McConnell really wants to accomplish in the last week of the Senate session. This ramps up pressure on McConnell to just hold a vote on the $2,000 checks. Senators don’t want to be stuck in Washington on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day if they can prevent it.“

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“3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).”

10 Stats About The $2,000 Checks (DP)

1. The total cost of $2,000 checks ($465 billion) is less than half the amount that American billionaires have made during the pandemic ($1 trillion). The total cost of the checks is less than the amount that just 16 American billionaires increased their net worth by during the pandemic ($471 billion).

2. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk gained more wealth during the pandemic ($158 billion) than Congress just authorized for additional unemployment benefits for millions of Americans ($120 billion).

3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).

4. Congressional lawmakers are being paid $3,300 of government money every week to come up with ways to block $2,000 checks to millions of Americans.

5. It took Congress less than a month to pass legislation giving a $700 billion bailout to bank executives during the financial crisis. It has taken Congress more than 8 months to even seriously consider a far less expensive bill to give $2,000 checks to millions of Americans during this economic crisis.

6. A $2,000 survival check would give the average soldier more money than the proposed 3 percent military pay increase that is included in defense legislation that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey are filibustering in order to force a vote on the survival checks.

7. The richest 5 percent of Americans received more in Trump tax cuts in 2020 ($145 billion) than Congress is spending on increased unemployment benefits for millions of Americans during the economic crisis ($120 billion).

8. In 2016, “children, elderly, disabled people, and students made up around 70 percent of the poor,” according to the People’s Policy Project. Unlike unemployment benefits, $2,000 checks would help them.

9. About 60 percent of Georgia households make less than $75,000, meaning Georgia Republican senators allowing $2,000 checks to be blocked would deny aid to roughly 2 million of their state’s households as they run for reelection.

10. As Republicans try to block the $2,000 check legislation, a new national survey found that 78 percent of Americans support it, even as some pundits insist that the proposal is “divisive.”

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Can we bury this story too?

Ukraine Press Conference Explicitly Ties Hunter & Joe Biden To Corruption (ZH)

From the introduction: “At one of the first press conferences about a year ago, we showed bank transactions for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the family of former US Vice President Joe Biden, namely to his son Robert Hunter Biden. The latter was a member of the board of directors of the infamous gas production company Burisma. Burisma belongs to the fugitive Yanukovych-era minister Mykola Zlochevsky. The inclusion of Biden in the Burisma leadership and payment for his services is nothing more than a political cover that protected Zlochevsky from the Ukrainian law, namely from the criminal code.”

Two foreign witnesses whose identities are protected – Witness 1 and Witness 2 – came forward to testify about the facts of the case. Konstantyn Kulyk, the Head of the Group of Prosecutors of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, explained what the witnesses offered: “One quote from a statement by a Witness: “All the described financial transactions were fictitious. And a lot of money was paid in Ukraine so that the state authorities turned a blind eye to it.” [snip] In the period from November 2014 to October 2015, the Witnesses noticed strange recurring payments that, at the direction of Oleh Nelin (Zlochevsky’s assistant in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), were sent from the account of BURISMA HOLDINGS LTD, which was opened for the personal needs of Mykola Zlochevsky, in the Latvian PrivatBank AS to the account of the American company ROSEMONT SENECA BONAI LLC.”

“The witnesses drew attention to these payments since about 20 times the same uneven amount was recurring – $83,333.33 as payment for consulting services. [snip] In the period from November 2014 to October 2015, the money stolen from Ukrainians, located on account of BURISMA HOLDINGS LTD with the Latvian PrivatBank AS, was transferred to the account of ROSEMONT SENECA BONAI LLC in the American bank MORGAN STANLEY in payments in total amounting to $3.4 million for consulting services. [snip] This is a payment for the political “cover” that Biden provided to Zlochevsky.” The video offers a graphic image showing the flow of money and favors:

Andrii Derkach picked up the narrative. He focused on Joe Biden’s conversations with Former President Poroshenko when Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor, started looking into Zlochevsky’s graft. As we all know, Biden openly boasted about holding up money from the U.S. unless Poroshenko fired Shokin. The press conference included audio from a November 16, 2016 conversation between Biden and Poroshenko. Biden was wheeling and dealing for influence and money – and conducting foreign policy behind Trump’s back. The men spoke again in February 2017, at which time Biden smothered Poroshenko with fulsome compliments. Ukraine’s government is gunning for Joe Biden. The Ukrainians know Biden helped prop up a corrupt government in their country and that he profited mightily from doing so. No wonder this video has gone viral.

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“She is the affable assassin..”

Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence (MPN)

Even before President-elect Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, the Senate Intelligence Committee may start hearings on his nomination of Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence. Barack Obama’s top lawyer on the National Security Council from 2010 to 2013 followed by CIA Deputy Director from 2013 to 2015, Haines is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. She is the affable assassin who, according to Newsweek, would be summoned in the middle of the night to decide if a citizen of any country, including our own, should be incinerated in a U.S. drone strike in a distant land in the greater Middle East. Haines also played a key role in covering up the U.S. torture program, known euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included repeated waterboarding, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, dousing naked prisoners with ice-cold water, and rectal rehydration.

For these reasons, among others, the activist groups CODEPINK, Progressive Democrats of America, World Beyond War, and Roots Action have launched a campaign calling on the Senate to reject her confirmation. These same groups ran successful campaigns to dissuade Biden from choosing two other warmongering candidates for critical foreign policy positions: China-hawk Michele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense and torture apologist Mike Morell for CIA Director. By hosting calling parties to Senators, launching petitions and publishing Open Letters from DNC delegates, feminists—including Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem—and Guantanamo torture survivors, activists helped derail candidates who were once considered shoo-ins for Biden’s cabinet. Now activists are challenging Avril Haines.

In 2015, when Haines was CIA Deputy Director, CIA agents illegally hacked the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to thwart the Committee’s investigation into the spy agency’s detention and interrogation program. Haines overruled the CIA’s own Inspector General in failing to discipline the CIA agents who violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. According to former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, she not only shielded the hackers from accountability but even awarded them the Career Intelligence Medal. And there’s more. When the exhaustive 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture was finally complete, after five years of investigation and research, Haines took charge of redacting it to deny the public’s right to know its full details, reducing the document to a 500-page, black-ink-smeared summary.

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By no means just in the UK. As the economy shrinks bigtime.

UK House Prices Rise By Most In Six Years (R.)

British house prices rose faster than expected in December to record their biggest annual increase in six years, as tax incentives and COVID-driven appetite for larger homes continued to boost demand, mortgage lender Nationwide said. House prices rose by 0.8% in December alone, barely slowing from the 0.9% recorded in November, and were 7.3% higher than a year earlier, well above forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 6.7% rise. After a collapse in house purchases during the first months of lockdown, there has been a surge in demand to move house, driven in part by a temporary exemption of property purchase taxes which will expire at the end of March.


Nationwide said the strength of the housing market contrasted with weakness in some other parts of the economy – especially those exposed to renewed COVID-19 restrictions – and said the outlook for prices in 2021 was highly uncertain. “Housing market activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March,” Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said. So far furlough payments and similar support for the self-employed had limited the impact of a historic 26% fall in economic output on the housing market, against most economists’ earlier expectations, he added.

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Propaganda.

Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth (AIER)

The paper of record in 2020 shifted dramatically to the most illiberal stance possible on the virus, pushing for full lockdowns, and ignoring or burying any information that might contradict the case for this unprecedented experiment in social and economic control. This article highlights the exceptions. The first shocking sign of the placing of a persistent bias was a podcast with reporter Donald McNeil on February 27. This was the beginning. It was grossly irresponsible. He asserted that half the American public would get this disease and that it would have a case fatality rate of 2.5%, or 25 times as deadly as flu, hence 4.8 million dead people. No consideration of demographic gradients in risk and no knowledge of viral basics such as the tradeoff between severity and prevalence.

Even if you leave aside the fog of fatality misclassification, he exaggerated the risk by 12 times but still spoke with a sense of certainty designed to create panic. Host Michael Barbaro himself seemed shocked: “I thought you were here to bring calm, Donald.” “I’m trying to bring a sense that if things don’t change, a lot of us might die,” he said. “If you have 300 relatively close friends and acquaintances, six of them would die.” The primal fear of disease is thus thrown into massive overdrive, following 100 years in which public health tried to bring rationality to the topic. That podcast was followed by an op-ed by the same journalist/pundit: “To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It.”

It seemed incredible that such a responsible outlet would advocate the overthrow of a century of public-health wisdom and even immunological basics, but that’s what they did. At this point, the New York Times was fully committed to the narrative that we must dismantle society to save it. And there it has been for nearly a year of unbearably biased coverage. Even within the blatant and aggressive pro-lockdown bias, and consistent with the way the New York Times does its work, the paper has not been entirely barren of truth about Covid and lockdowns. Below I list five times that the news section of the paper, however inadvertently and however buried deep within the paper, actually told the truth.

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Dec 292020
 


Juan Gris Portrait of the artist’s mother 1912

 

WHO Chief Scientist: No Evidence COVID Vaccine Prevents Viral Transmission (ZH)
WHO -Secretly- Changed Their Definition Of “Herd Immunity” (OffG)
UK Variant Linked To High Viral Loads, Neanderthal Gene Offers Protection (R.)
House Passes $2,000 Per American COVID19 Relief Bill Requested By Trump (RT)
Republicans Threaten To Deny $2,000 Checks To Their Own Constituents (DP)
House Overrides Trump’s Veto Of Bill That Blocked Afghanistan Withdrawal (RT)
Bernie Sanders To Delay Defense Veto Override In Bid For $2,000 Checks (Pol.)
McConnell Rushed To Save His Senators, But Left Trump Twisting In The Wind (IC)
Japan Gave Key Intel On China’s Uighur Crackdown To US and Britain (JT)
Trump Admin Bolsters Order Barring US Investment In Chinese Firms (R.)
In Darkness Visible (Jim Kunstler)
The Threat of Authoritarianism in the US is Very Real (Greenwald)

 

 

Entirely useless? Someone better do a risk/reward analysis.

WHO Chief Scientist: No Evidence COVID Vaccine Prevents Viral Transmission (ZH)

Once again, the WHO has stepped in to offer some confusing comments about the coronavirus vaccine, warning that there is “no evidence to be confident shots prevent transmission” and that people who receive the vaccine should continue wearing masks and following all social distancing and travel guidelines. The comments were made by WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan during what appears to have been a virtual press conference held Monday. A clip of the offending line has begun circulating on social media. “At the moment, I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines, to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from getting the infection and passing it on,”

WHO chief scientist
https://twitter.com/i/status/1343620091695538179

Of course, a close look at the research released by Pfizer and Moderna shows the studies haven’t actually tested whether the vaccines actually prevent transmission of the virus; the goal of the trials was to see whether vaccinated patients presented with COVID symptoms at a rate that was substantially less frequent than individuals who hadn’t been vaccinated. That’s pretty much it. Though the data might hint at lowering transmission rates, that’s still tbd, apparently. The doctor went on to explain that there’s no evidence to suggest that those who have been vaccinated wouldn’t be a risk if they traveled to a foreign country, say Australia, with relatively low COVID rates.


At this point, it might be helpful for the WHO to produce some kind of clarification that either offers substantially more context to explain this remark. But we suspect they won’t. Why? Well, perhaps because that context might undermine certain government officials’ insistence that there’s absolutely no reason to question the efficacy, and potential side effects (both long-term, and short) tied to the new COVID-19 vaccines.

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“..newspeak doublethink nonsense..”

WHO -Secretly- Changed Their Definition Of “Herd Immunity” (OffG)

The World Health Organization has changed the definition of “herd immunity” on the Covid section of their website, inserting the claim that it is a “concept used in vaccination”, and requires a vaccine to be achieved. Both of these statements are total falsehoods, which is demonstrated by the WHO’s own website back in June, and every dictionary definition of “herd immunity” you can find. To quote the WHO’s own original definition: “Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or a natural immunity developed through previous infection.” This definition was posted on the WHO’s website on June 9th of this year, and conforms with the general usage of the term for generations.


Then, on October 15th, we woke up to find the words on the side of the barn had changed. The definition has been altered to this: “‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.” No explanation is offered for the change, in fact [no] note of the change is made on the website at all. Indeed all the previous versions of the website have been totally wiped from the wayback machine. A telling thing to do, in and of itself. We’re only aware of the change because screencaps of the original exist:

The new definition, aside from being inaccurate and off-handedly disposing of decades of epidemiological research, is also contradictory. It includes the phrase: “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.” Which is newspeak doublethink nonsense. The entire point of vaccination IS “exposing” people to the virus. This revised, inaccurate and contradictory definition of “herd immunity” was first expressed in a speech by WHO Director General Thedros Adhanom on October 12th. Within three days that speech had been added, word for word, to the website. And within a month of the change, the UK had approved the first commercial vaccine for Sars-Cov-2 infection.

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Forget the vaccine, I’ll get the Neanderthal gene.

UK Variant Linked To High Viral Loads, Neanderthal Gene Offers Protection (R.)

The highly infectious COVID-19 coronavirus variant that has been circulating in Britain is linked to higher loads of the virus in the blood, according to a research report published on medRxiv on Sunday ahead of peer review. Around 35% of patients infected by the variant form had very high levels of the virus in their samples, compared to 10% of patients without the variant, study leader Michael Kidd of Public Health England and Birmingham University told Reuters. Higher viral loads have been linked with worse COVID-19 outcomes. The tests were conducted at the Birmingham Turnkey Lab. Kidd said additional study was needed to confirm or refute the findings. If confirmed, he hopes scientists will investigate how this particular variant manages to make more copies of itself in infected patients.

[..] A specific form of a protein passed down from Neanderthals protects against severe COVID-19, and medications that boost levels of this protein could potentially help treat the disease, according to a study reported on medRxiv on Thursday ahead of peer review. The protein, called OAS1, is involved in the body’s response to viruses. People with higher levels of the Neanderthal-related form of OAS1 are less susceptible to COVID-19, and if they do become infected, they are at lower risk for hospitalization, intubation and death, the researchers found. “This protective form of OAS1 is present in sub-Saharan Africans but was lost when the ancestors of modern-day Europeans migrated out of Africa. It was then re-introduced into the European population through mating with Neanderthals” who lived more than 40,000 years ago, said coauthor Brent Richards from the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal. An earlier study linked a cluster of genes inherited from Neanderthals to higher risks of hospitalization from COVID-19. “These findings further implicate Neanderthal ancestry in COVID-19 severity,” Richards said.

[..] The speed of patients’ antibody production – rather than the volume of antibodies they produce to fight the new coronavirus – determines whether they will survive COVID-19, new data suggest. Researchers who studied more than 200 COVID-19 patients, including 179 who were hospitalized, found those who produced so-called neutralizing antibodies within 14 days of developing symptoms eventually recovered, while those who did not produce neutralizing antibodies until more than 14 days had elapsed developed higher viral loads and more severe disease. “It is unclear why antibodies generated after this time point are unable to promote viral clearance and recovery in COVID-19 patients,” the researchers said in a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Study leader Akiko Iwasaki of the Yale University School of Medicine tweeted on Saturday, “It’s possible that virus somehow becomes resistant by hiding in inaccessible tissues.” The new findings, she added, suggest therapy with so-called monoclonal antibody drugs – such as those from Regeneron given to U.S. President Donald Trump — is likely to work only if used soon after infection.

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Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act.

House Passes $2,000 Per American COVID19 Relief Bill Requested By Trump (RT)

The US House of Representatives has voted to raise to $2,000 the sum of the one-time direct payment to most Americans, after President Donald Trump demanded it be raised from $600 in the spending bill he signed to avoid shutdown. Dubbed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act, House Resolution 9051 passed on Monday evening, as lawmakers lined up to cast their own and proxy votes, wearing face masks under rules instituted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). The procedural vote requiring two-thirds majority succeeded, with 275 votes in favor. The proposal was opposed by 130 Republicans, two Democrats and two 2 independents.


The resolution now goes to the Senate for approval. Trump initially threatened to veto the nearly 6,000-page omnibus-stimulus behemoth, objecting to the $600 amount and other spending measures. On Sunday, he turned around and signed it, but demanded that the House pass a bill increasing the payout to $2,000 per individual and delete some of the other spending provisions, while asking for several other actions from the Senate as well. Democrats have refused to cut any spending, however, and the Republican-led Senate is unlikely to follow through on Trump’s demands.

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“an estimated 42 percent of Kentucky children (live) in renter households (that) were behind on rent and/or did not get enough to eat, and 20 percent of adults with children in the household reported the children weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.”

Republicans Threaten To Deny $2,000 Checks To Their Own Constituents (DP)

Last week, House Democrats attempted to call President Donald Trump’s bluff and increase the COVID relief bill’s survival checks to $2,000. House Republicans blocked the initial maneuver, and may today prevent the legislation from passing. If it does pass, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could kill the bill. The spectacle of Congress continuing to stall $2,000 survival checks during an economic emergency spotlights Donald Trump’s erratic behavior, Democrats’ persistent austerity ideology and the dysfunctionality of a government waiting until the last minute to hammer out 5,000-page emergency legislation in a matter of hours.

Most important, the antics of House Republicans and McConnell illustrate how — despite all of America’s paens to democracy — lawmakers ostensibly elected to represent us will routinely stomp on their own constituents. Of course, constituents are barely part of the media narrative anymore. Indeed, if you read national news, you will almost never see a mention of whom exactly these Republicans are supposed to be representing. For example, you will not see any mention of the fact that, according to research from AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer, the majority of lawmakers in the House Republican Conference come from districts in the bottom two income quintiles — meaning their constituents would particularly benefit from the $2,000 checks.

Similarly, you will see McConnell depicted only as an all-powerful Republican leader — an omniscient spectre haunting the halls of power, effectively disassociated from time, place and constituency. In this mythology, he is a phantom menace who controls everything but somehow represents nobody. You will not see much mention of the fact that McConnell actually does represent a real, live place — one that illustrates how this standoff is fundamentally a crisis of democratic accountability. McConnell’s role in this debacle cannot be overstated: Had he already signed onto the plan to increase the direct payments in the COVID deal, it would probably be a done deal — but so far he has been reticent, as millions of Americans are struggling to survive.

Among those millions struggling to survive are hundreds of thousands of people in McConnell’s own state of Kentucky — which is one of the poorest in the country. As such, it would particularly benefit from the $2,000 survival checks. As McConnell plays coy in Washington, his state is becoming a Dickensian nightmare. More than 700,000 Kentuckians live below the federal poverty line. During the COVID-19 pandemic, things have become downright dystopian: Louisville’s ABC affiliate recently reported that “an estimated 42 percent of Kentucky children (live) in renter households (that) were behind on rent and/or did not get enough to eat, and 20 percent of adults with children in the household reported the children weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.”

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Bring them home.

House Overrides Trump’s Veto Of Bill That Blocked Afghanistan Withdrawal (RT)

The US House of Representatives has voted for the first time to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740 billion annual military spending bill, which he opposed for limiting his ability to bring US troops home. After aligning with Trump to approve raising the coronavirus stimulus payments to $2,000 per American, the House also voted 322- 87 to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $740 billion military spending bill, which passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month.


Trump objected to the NDAA not addressing his concerns about Section 230 and internet platforms, trying to prevent him from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and including a Democrat proposal to rename US military bases named a century ago after Civil War generals who fought for the Confederacy. If the Senate does the same, that would make it the first – and likely the last – veto override of Trump’s administration, as Democrats are joined by a faction of Republicans all too eager to abandon the president. Amid media reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) planned to hold a vote only on the NDAA override and not the increased payments, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) vowed to hold up the vote and block the Senate from going into recess over the New Year holiday.

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How things are connected.

Bernie Sanders To Delay Defense Veto Override In Bid For $2,000 Checks (Pol.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans. “McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. The Vermont independent can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP. The House passed the payment boost sought by Trump and Democratic leaders on Monday evening, and Trump said the Senate has agreed to “start the process” on a stimulus checks vote when he signed the $900 billion relief bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to address the timing of such a vote. Under Senate rules, Sanders has the ability to keep the chamber in during the holiday week and likely mess with the campaign schedules of Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). Those two face Jan. 5 runoff races for control of the Senate against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are both campaigning on the $2,000 checks. A source close to Sanders said the Senate races were a factor in his decision — part of a bid to keep Perdue and Loeffler in D.C. and focus the campaign on their position regarding the $2,000 checks. Sanders also threatened to shut down the government earlier this month if the coronavirus relief bill did not include direct payments; ultimately it included checks of up to $600 and the government stayed open, though now Trump wants to go much higher.

Though veto overrides can be filibustered, as Sanders plans to do, it is a rare procedural move because the veto override already requires 67 votes and the filibuster is simply a delay tactic, according to the Congressional Research Service. Sanders said he hopes McConnell allows a vote on the checks on Wednesday. “The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders said. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”

Read more …

“McConnell had the option to press the button, and he knew the button would help Trump, yet he didn’t press it.”

McConnell Rushed To Save His Senators, But Left Trump Twisting In The Wind (IC)

One of the enduring mysteries of the 2020 presidential election was Mitch McConnell’s apparent lack of interest in helping to reelect President Donald Trump. From the perspective of the White House, the political press corps, Democrats, and effectively everybody watching the race, there was one major thing they thought would go a long way to delivering four more years for Trump, and that was a major round of stimulus in the weeks before the election, complete with checks destined for voters. Given that a swing of fewer than 100,000 votes in the right states would have flipped the election to Trump, it’s fair to say that such a stimulus could indeed have turned the tide for Trump. Yet McConnell stood in the way. We now know with certainty that the Senate majority leader is well aware of the political value of stimulus checks.

“Kelly and David are getting hammered,” McConnell told his Republican flock, explaining why the party would be agreeing not just to a historic-sized piece of legislation, but also to one that included $600 checks for everybody with under a certain income. “Kelly,” of course, is Kelly Loeffler, the wife of the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, appointed to the Senate to replace the retiring Johnny Isaacson, and “David” is David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General. Both Loeffler and Perdue are facing runoffs in January, and both have used their perch in the Senate to acquire financial information they used to profit on stock trades. But that’s not why they’re getting hammered. They’re getting hammered over checks. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been blasting away for weeks at Perdue and Loeffler for blocking another round of stimulus, and in particular for blocking checks.

And so McConnell bent to political reality, doing what he didn’t want to do in order to keep control of the Senate. But if it was a price he was willing to pay for Kelly and David and control of the Senate, why wouldn’t he pay the same price to keep control of the White House? The option was available to him. Even if Democratic leaders would have preferred to pass the stimulus after the election, their obstruction beforehand would either have been politically untenable or, if held firm, politically suicidal. So McConnell had the option to press the button, and he knew the button would help Trump, yet he didn’t press it. The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that McConnell did not want to help Trump win.

Read more …

Six Eyes?!

Japan Gave Key Intel On China’s Uighur Crackdown To US and Britain (JT)

Japan provided intelligence to the United States and Britain last year showing evidence of China’s forceful detainment of Muslim Uighur minority on condition of keeping the source confidential, a person close to Japan-U.S. relations said Monday. Based on the information, the United States stepped up criticism against China’s alleged crackdown on Uighurs in the Xinjiang autonomous region, the source said. The move shows Japan has already been sharing key intelligence with partners behind the scenes amid calls within the government to join the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to better respond to increasing threats by North Korea and China. The intelligence-sharing network involves Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.


Britain joined the United States in pressing Beijing over its crackdown on Uighurs, but Japan has only said it “is closely watching the situation with concern.” Japan seeks to maintain friendly ties with China — its largest trading partner — without hurting relations with its top security ally, the United States. Given that Tokyo’s relations with Beijing had been improving, it was preparing for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first visit as a state guest in spring 2020, although the planned visit was later postponed after the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Read more …

Interesting to see how this changes after Jan. 20.

Trump Admin Bolsters Order Barring US Investment In Chinese Firms (R.)

The Trump administration on Monday strengthened an executive order barring U.S. investors from buying securities of alleged Chinese military-controlled companies, following disagreement among U.S. agencies about how tough to make the directive. The Treasury Department published guidance clarifying that the executive order, released in November, would apply to investors in exchange-traded funds and index funds as well as subsidiaries of Chinese companies designated as owned or controlled by the Chinese military. The “frequently asked questions” release, posted on the Treasury website on Monday, came after Reuters and other news outlets reported that a debate was raging within the Trump administration over the guidance.


The State Department and the Department of Defense had pushed back against a bid by Treasury Department to water down the executive order, a source said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the announcement “ensures U.S. capital does not contribute to the development and modernization of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military, intelligence, and security services.” “This should allay concerns that U.S. investors might unknowingly support (Chinese military-controlled companies) via direct, indirect, or other passive investments,” he added. Specifically, some media outlets reported that Treasury was seeking to exclude Chinese companies’ subsidiaries from the scope of the White House directive, which bars new purchases of securities of 35 Chinese companies that Washington alleges are backed by the Chinese military, starting in November 2021.

Read more …

“They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes.”

In Darkness Visible (Jim Kunstler)

The signals from the political establishment to Donald Trump ring pretty clear now: get thee hence, thou big-bottomed orange menace to order and sanctity! Has ever a president been lonelier at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? Lincoln’s “team of rivals” in the drear winter months of 1864 seem downright chummy in retrospect and, of course, poor Richard Nixon stayed swozzled on scotch whiskey during the darkest nights of Watergate, when he reputedly wandered the West Wing halls conversing with portraits of his predecessors. The other power centers of America, especially the news media, insist that there is no evidence of fraud in the recent election and it’s time to get on with the hallowed ceremonies of transition.

The post-Christmas suspense is killing them. Mr. Trump will not be moved to declare that he lost the election — probably for the excellent reason that he really didn’t, if there had been anything like an honest tally of the ballots. They hear murmurings of martial law and the Insurrection Act, and it all sounds to them like an imperial Nightmare on Elm Street. They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes. It’s said in the alt.media that the president wishes to exhaust all the formal alternatives before possibly moving onto the novelty steps of contesting this final act of the four-year coup against him, which brings us all the way to January 6, when the electoral college slates are toted up in the House chamber, Vice President Pence presiding. One popular fantasy has the Veep tossing out “certified” votes from states where irregularities were starkest in favor of alt.slates submitted by Republican-majority state legislatures — with Hieronymus Bosch-style Antifa chaos to follow all over the land.

Sounds like a low percentage deal to me, but then… what’s actually at stake here? Not to be too melodramatic, but something kind of like a Manchurian Candidate situation. How okay is it, actually, for Joe Biden, with a record of accepting large sums of money from China’s intel apparatus, to move into the Oval Office, especially after they laid the Covid-19 trip on the world? No problemo, the DNC and its vast network of apparatchiks answer. There’s no evidence of Ol’ Joe colluding for pay!

Read more …

“… and Has Nothing To Do With Trump”

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the US is Very Real (Greenwald)

The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants. “Billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes,” reported The Guardian in September. A study from July told part of the story: The combined wealth of the world’s super-rich reached a new peak during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the consulting firm PwC and the Swiss bank UBC on Wednesday. The more than 2,000 billionaires around the world managed to amass fortunes totalling around $10.2 trillion (€8.69 trillion) by July, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 trillion reached in 2017.

Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.” Employees are now almost completely at the mercy of a handful of corporate giants which are thriving, far more trans-national than with any allegiance to the U.S. A Brookings Institution study this week — entitled “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers” — found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has generated record profits for America’s biggest companies, as well as immense wealth for their founders and largest shareholders—but next to nothing for workers.”

These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit. This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options.

[..] What makes this most menacing of all is that the primary beneficiaries of these rapid changes are Silicon Valley giants, at least three of which — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — are now classic monopolies. That the wealth of their primary owners and executives — Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai — has skyrocketed during the pandemic is well-covered, but far more significant is the unprecedented power these companies exert over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates, to say nothing of the immense data they possess about our lives by virtue of online surveillance.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 222020
 
 December 22, 2020  Posted by at 7:29 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


John William Waterhouse It’s Sweet Doing Nothing / Dolce Far Niente 1879

 

 

The very first thing we must conclude from looking at the pork-laden $900 billion US “stimulus bill” is that this is all Washington is capable of anymore. This is it. That it has nothing to do with which party you vote for. If you don’t come to that conclusion, you’re seriously disoriented.

Both parties have been talking about the bill for 8 months, and blamed each other for any delays, while filling up the bill with by now over 5,500 pages of pork, and given representatives who don’t know the contents, just a few hours before voting on it. That is not an accident, that is by design, and both parties designed it together.

Neither gives a flying hoot about their own voters, which the bill is supposed to serve, other than at election time – and even then. If they did, they could have issued a separate bill half a year ago. But the system doesn’t work like that. The system says that if you want to save/serve the people, you absolutely must serve a thousand other interests at the same time. And that’s where things run off the rails.

The Republicans insist on including one special interest that their lobbyists say can’t be left out, then the Democrats and their lobbies say okay, but then we want this interest in, etc., and before you know it, you have 5,500 pages of special interests, and the amounts going to the people will have to be cut because the total amounts are starting to look too high.

Do note -again- that it’s the lobbyists who write the legislation, not the politicians. The politicians, in the media, go through this very predictable cattle trade, they reach an accord, and then they turn around and blame each other for anything their voters and representatives might have wanted in there but didn’t get. Just like they did for the 8 previous months. Same difference. Cool, calculated, a blame game between friends.

 

But the Americans the stimulus is supposed to be for, have no seat at the table. Only the people they voted for do, and among those, only the ones who’ve been there long enough, 30-40 years, and who have amassed huge multi-million dollar fortunes while on 200-300K salaries. Newly elected reps and senators have no say. They may gain a say, but only if they comply with what the lobbyists tell them to do.

If 200 million Americans finally get a $600 check, sometime in spring 2021(?!), that would cost $120 billion. If 300 million do, $180 billion. The pork stimulus package is for $900 billion. And they want you to believe this is meant to help the people, and most of the people believe that. And that works too, because of the way the media, very much complicit in the charade, “report” the entire thing.

But c’mon man! Every American could get a $600 check every month for the next half year if the corporate subsidies and all sorts of other pork were left out of bills like this. But that’s not how Washington operates. Washington is not about people, it’s about money.

Many poor Americans used to have to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, but most are lucky to find even one job these days, let alone enough to make ends meet. It’s cool, calm and calculated, and it makes no difference at all whether it’s Pelosi, McConnell, Schumer or Lindsey Graham. They’re in a big club, and you ain’t in it. But at least please stop believing the nonsense they’re spouting. They live in their own world, and you live in yours. And never the twain shall meet.

Of course it can make sense to support businesses as well in virustime. But there’s no urgent need to do that in the very same bill that is meant to support the people. It’s just that the latter is the ideal vehicle to hide the pork in. A separate bill to support business would be much more transparent, and people could see what’s in it. And it wouldn’t be 5,500 pages either.

It’s a design, it’s a model, it’s how this has worked for decades. The same decades that the decision makers have been “serving” on Capitol Hill. There is no accident anywhere in there. It’s a design.

 

 

 

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Dec 162020
 
 December 16, 2020  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  36 Responses »


Henri Cartier-Bresson Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of George VI 1937

 

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)
Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)
The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)
COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)
Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)
Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)
Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)
DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)
Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)
McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)
Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign
Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Very long, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Still, when it’s about saving lives, including your own… might as well read it..

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)

In this article I am not going to simply transform the treatment with HCQ (an acronym for hydroxychloroquine) from “not promising”, as the New York Times qualifies it, to “promising”. I will explain that it is scientifically proven, and in every possible scientific way. In addition, I will explain how and why the biggest journalistic blackout in human history is taking place right now. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you here that the New York Times and almost all the other mainstream media are doing dirty, lousy quality journalism. As a result of this amateurism, a seismic tremor of gigantic proportions is being created at the moment, and without precedent, in the credibility of the mainstream world press, with unpredictable consequences for humanity in the coming decades.

And I warn you right now. I have no concern in producing a short article. There are many analyses to be done, nuances to be approached and many details that cannot be left out. The farce is so big and with so many actors, that it’ s almost unbelievable that it can be dismantled with day-to-day facts and simple logic There are scientific articles, facts and figures that no one wants to report or discuss. These studies have not become news in the major media nor have been cited by science journalists, but they have impacts like Muhammad Ali’s punches in the logic of those who claim that the drug does not work. Here they will come to the public. My main point of view in this article is the evolution of the arguments of people who insist that the drug is ineffective against COVID-19.

This is my third article on the subject. In the first one (in French, English, Portuguese), three months ago, I explained my personal view. I had the goal of making a choice between taking or not these drugs, in case of catching the virus. In it I have spoken about the political scenario and the incredible logical flaws of those who claim that the treatment does not work. I discussed how the “official story” is an incredible conspiracy theory and explained how the false narrative about this medication was formed, all in a timeline. In my second article, I lamented the shameful censorship, pretending to be of service to society, that has been present in today’s world. In addition, I explained the inversion of ideological values, in the West, between right and left, when dealing with this topic. (Originally published on France-Soir in French. Also with versions in Portuguese and English).

Now I write this third article, where I bring all the main news from the scientific world in the last three months. It is to disassemble the last arguments of those who say it doesn’t work. The world is standing still. There is panic and fear in the global population. More than one million three hundred thousand people have died. For the vast majority of these victims, a cure with a high percentage of success has been neglected. Another millions are depressed, with no prospect of life and happiness. All due to a perfect storm and gross errors. All conveniently taken advantage of by petty interests.

Read more …

All too common refrain: “I did not fail, all the others did.”

Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)

Sweden’s health experts misjudged the resurgence of the coronavirus by recommending a light-touch approach, the prime minister said. The country, which has pursued a form of herd immunity strategy under Anders Tegnell, its chief epidemiologist, has been hit so hard by the second wave of infections that hospitals in Stockholm are struggling to cope. Stefan Lofven, the prime minister, told the Aftenposten newspaper that his medical advisers had not seen such a wave coming. “They talked about different clusters,” he said. Sweden’s neighbours, Finland and Norway, which adopted stricter social controls and have suffered fewer fatalities per capita, have offered medical help after Stockholm reported that 99 per cent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds were full and called for more staff.

Mr Lofven, who leads a Social Democrat-Green Party coalition, spoke hours before a commission examining Sweden’s handling of the pandemic concluded that it had failed to protect elderly people during the first wave. A high level of community spread was the biggest factor in the virus getting into care homes, the commission said. Sweden’s pandemic strategy, shunning lockdowns and masks, has been much debated as an alternative approach to tougher curbs. Schools, restaurants and businesses were largely left open while people were advised to maintain social distance and hygiene. The strategy was coupled with a goal to “ring-fence” the most vulnerable. As deaths mounted, especially at nursing homes, the commission said that it had failed to do so effectively.

The approach has been called reckless and cruel but it also won praise from people seeing it as more sustainable and business-friendly. About half of Sweden’s almost 7700 deaths have been nursing home residents. The country now faces a significant rise in cases and fatalities. Its statistical agency recorded a total of 8088 deaths from all causes last month, the highest mortality in any November in Sweden since the first year of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, when 16,600 people died. Since Friday 153 people have died from COVID-19 related causes, bringing the total to 7,667. There have been 320,000 confirmed cases.

Read more …

Word.

The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)

Not a year has passed since peace was declared in 1945 that Britain has not sent military forces to fight the wars of empire. Not a year has passed when countries, mostly poor and riven by conflict, have not bought or have been “soft loaned” British arms to further the wars, or “interests”, of empire. Empire? What empire? The investigative journalist Phil Miller recently revealed in Declassified that Boris Johnson’s Britain maintained 145 military sites – call them bases — in 42 countries. Johnson has boasted that Britain is to be “the foremost naval power in Europe”. In the midst of the greatest health emergency in modern times, with more than 4 million surgical procedures delayed by the National Health Service, Johnson has announced a record increase of £16.5 billion in so-called defence spending – a figure that would restore the under-resourced NHS many times over.

But these billions are not for defence. Britain has no enemies other than those within who betray the trust of its ordinary people, its nurses and doctors, its carers, elderly, homeless and youth, as successive neo-liberal governments have done, Conservative and Labour. Exploring the serenity of the National War Memorial, I soon realised there was not a single monument, or plinth, or plaque, or rosebush honouring the memory of Britain’s victims — the civilians in the “peacetime” operations commemorated here. There is no remembrance of the Libyans killed when their country was wilfully destroyed by Prime Minister David Cameron and his collaborators in Paris and Washington.

There is no word of regret for the Serbian women and children killed by British bombs, dropped from a safe height on schools, factories, bridges, towns, on the orders of Tony Blair; or for the impoverished Yemeni children extinguished by Saudi pilots with their logistics and targets supplied by Britons in the air-conditioned safety of Riyadh; or for the Syrians starved by “sanctions”. There is no monument to the Palestinian children murdered with the British elite’s enduring connivance, such as the recent campaign that destroyed a modest reform movement within the Labour Party with specious accusations of anti-Semitism.

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Capitol Hill is simply incapable of getting these, the most basic of things, right.

COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)

A draft of coronavirus relief legislation, circulated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, eschews direct payments to average Americans but contains an unusually generous handout to the very wealthy. The draft legislation, the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, was released this week as part of a package of two major bills to confront the ongoing crisis. The draft of the first bill circulating on Capitol Hill contains a number of adjustments to the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program that has served as the centerpiece of the government’s efforts to curb job loss stemming from the pandemic.

Many of the changes provide extended eligibility for expenses that can be reimbursed by the PPP program, including damage from looting and costs associated with cloud computing, as well as the construction of sneeze guards and other safety measures implemented by businesses. But one of the revisions in the legislation is a subtle yet radical change that would result in a major windfall for the highest-income Americans and large corporations. The bill provides that businesses claiming expenses reimbursed by PPP forgivable loans, which are already tax-free, can be further used as deductions when calculating taxable income. In other words, the change would allow a corporation that claimed $1 million in PPP reimbursements to apply that money as a deduction on its tax return, reducing taxable income by $1 million.

Critics of this idea, first circulated by a bipartisan set of legislators last summer, note that it provides an unprecedented tax advantage that overwhelmingly benefits investors and high-net-worth professionals. IRS rules have long prohibited tax-free government grants and reimbursements from being used as deductions. Steven Rosenthal, a tax expert with the Tax Policy Center, writing in his blog TaxVox, has noted that the proposal represents a “double dip” that abandons longstanding tax norms to provide “overly generous relief” that rewards “savvy, well-connected business and crowds out relief for others, undercutting the effectiveness of Congress’ aid.”

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Baseless, blah blah.

Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)

President Donald Trump is considering pushing to have a special counsel appointed to advance a federal tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden, setting up a potential showdown with incoming acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.Trump — angry that out-going Attorney General William Barr didn’t publicly announce the ongoing, two-year investigation into Hunter Biden — has consulted on the matter with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and outside allies. That’s according to several Trump administration officials and Republicans close to the White House who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.

Beyond appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the younger Biden, the sources said Trump is interested in having another special counsel appointed to look into his own baseless claims of election fraud. But if he’s expecting his newly named acting attorney general to go further than Barr on either matter, he could end up quickly disappointed.Barr on Monday evening announced he will resign effective next week, revealing his plans about a week after Hunter Biden publicly disclosed that he was under investigation related to his finances. It is generally Justice Department policy not to disclose investigations that are in progress, though the subjects of those investigations can. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, will step into the Justice Department’s top job in an acting role.

A longtime litigator, he has served as Barr’s top deputy since May 2019 but largely shies away from the spotlight. He said in a statement Tuesday he was “honored” to serve and “will continue to focus on the implementation of the Department’s key priorities.” Trump is still weighing his options, considering whether to pressure Rosen to make the special counsel appointment or, if needed, to replace the acting attorney general with someone more likely to carry out his wishes. He has even asked his team of lawyers, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to look into whether the president has the power to appoint a special counsel himself. A key question will be whether Rosen can stand up to presidential pressure — and potentially withering attacks — in the waning weeks of the Trump administration. If not, Rosen could be cast aside in favor of others more willing to do Trump’s bidding.

Read more …

Watching the dice roll…

Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)

A group of Republicans in Pennsylvania on Tuesday has again urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their lawsuit that challenges the 2020 election results in the state. The nation’s top court had previously rejected the group’s request for immediate injunctive relief to block Pennsylvania from taking further steps to certify the 2020 election results. At the time, the group’s lawyer, Greg Teufel, said the case was not over because his clients were planning to file a formal petition to ask the court to review the lawsuit, which they hadn’t filed the first time. The lawyer filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on Dec. 11, docketed by the court on Dec. 15, which argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was wrong when it dismissed their case because the justices thought the plaintiffs filed their case with unreasonable delay.

“This Court should not turn a blind eye to unconstitutional election laws that permit massive vote dilution and have a significant impact on election outcomes, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did,” the petition (pdf) states. The case at hand—cited as Kelly v. Pennsylvania—argues that Act 77, a law that made voting by mail without an excuse legal in Pennsylvania, was enacted in violation of Pennsylvania’s constitution. The state constitution, the plaintiffs argue, prohibits absentee voting in Pennsylvania except for four limited circumstances. The lawsuit alleges that the state law is “another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting prescribed in the Pennsylvania Constitution, without first following the necessary procedure to amend the constitution to allow for the expansion.”

The lawsuit was filed by a Republican lawmaker Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and several GOP congressional candidates. In late November a Pennsylvania commonwealth judge, Patricia McCullough, issued a temporary injunction that would have prevented the state from taking further steps to complete the certification of the presidential race. She argued that “petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment.” She also opined that the “petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene” the plain language of the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which deals with absentee voting.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long before the county of boards of election were required to certify the election results to bring the case, which could “result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters” who voted by mail.

Read more …

“Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)

Concerned about possible election evidence being destroyed, members of a joint session of the Michigan Legislature’s House and Senate oversight committees on Tuesday voted to issue subpoenas to Detroit and the nearby suburb of Livonia demanding they surrender hard drives, emails, absentee voter counting board laptops and other election-related materials. One Senate Democrat reportedly joined his Republican colleagues in supporting the subpoenas. A Nov. 28 order memo from the State Bureau of Elections had followed the same protocol as prior elections and ordered the deletion by November 30 of “E-Pollbook laptops and flash drives … unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.”

Tracy Wimmer, director of Media Relations for Michigian Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told Just the News in a statement Thursday that she rejected Republicans’ concerns about the deletion memo. “The Bureau of Elections memo sent to clerks is the same memo that has been sent to clerks for years, including under the administration of now state senator Ruth Johnson,” Wimmer said. “Republican House and Senate legal counsel were provided this information days ago. The fact that members of their party is choosing to ignore these truths in a press release demonstrates they have no interest in preserving the integrity of our elections or democracy.”

Michigan State Senator Ruth Johnson, the Republican who supported the subpoena effort, told Just the News she had previously signed the same deletion order while she was secretary of state but the unusual nature of the 2020 election meant circumstances had changed. “Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, this information needs to be preserved while there are ongoing lawsuits, audits, and Oversight committee review of the November election,” Johnson said. “Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Read more …

Declassify all of it.

DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)

Top U.S. intelligence officials were so concerned heading into the 2016 election that the Russians were aware of and potentially manipulating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plans to smear Donald Trump as a Russian agent that they personally briefed President Barack Obama on the matter, newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents show. CIA officials also requested that the FBI investigate Russian knowledge of the Clinton campaign’s collusion smear operation. Newly declassified handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan show that the U.S. intelligence community knew in 2016 that Russian intelligence was actively monitoring, and potentially injecting disinformation into, Clinton’s anti-Trump collusion narrative.

The intelligence concerning Russia’s knowledge of Clinton’s campaign plans was so concerning to Brennan and other national security officials that they personally informed Obama of the matter in the Oval Office in the summer of 2016. The handwritten notes from Brennan were declassified by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe and provided to Congress on Tuesday afternoon. According to the declassified notes, Brennan and the U.S. intelligence community knew months prior to the 2016 election that the collusion smear was the result of a campaign operation hatched by the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“We’re getting additional insight into Russian activites from [REDACTED],” Brennan’s handwritten notes state. “Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services.” The notes appear to have been prepared by Brennan to memorialize a meeting held at the White House with the president and his top national security advisers. Included in Brennan’s notes are the responses of other participants in the briefing — including those of former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and former DNI James Clapper, but those responses are redacted.

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Why they should be treated as, and broken up like, AT&T.

Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)

Facebook and Twitter executives poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, all while blocking the New York Post’s exposé about Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. The revelation comes amid accusations from President Trump and other Republicans that Silicon Valley is censoring conservative voices, sparking a push for the companies to lose their liability protections. A review of Federal Election Commission records show Facebook’s vice president of public policy and chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, donated $99,440.01 to Democrats and Biden in the final weeks of the race.

Egan donated the maximum contribution of $2,800 to the former veep’s White House bid on Sept. 8 and Oct. 1 before ponying up a whopping $55,000 for the Biden Victory Fund and $35,500 for the Democratic National Committee. According to Biden’s website, the Biden Victory Fund is a joint fundraising effort among his campaign, the DNC, and the 47 state parties to help defeat Trump. As first reported by Fox News, she made no contributions to the president’s campaign. Likewise, Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Wehner, donated $2,800 apiece to Biden’s campaign and Democrat Amy McGrath’s failed bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

David Fischer, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, donated $2,800 to Biden’s bid during the Democratic primary, according to FEC records, and another $750 during the general election. But Fischer also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic challengers in other key races, including Jamie Harrison’s unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kelly and John Hickenlooper’s successful Senate races in Arizona and Colorado. A number of Facebook vice presidents and Instagram’s chief financial officer also donated the maximum $2,800 to Biden’s White House bid.

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Just ban the damn things. If elections can be manipulated, they will.

McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)

In 2016, Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 21 states and, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, breached systems in Illinois and two counties in Florida, gaining access to information on millions of registered voters. In his report, Mueller described the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 elections as “sweeping and systematic.” Three years later, security experts warn that not enough has been done to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations recently told Congress that “the threats just keep escalating,” adding that he viewed the 2018 midterms as a “dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”

In fourteen states, some 2018 midterm voters submitted their votes on touchscreens that did not produce paper trails necessary to verify their votes or audit election outcomes. If votes had been inaccurately processed in these precincts—whether through equipment errors or foreign hacking operations—election officials wouldn’t have been able to find or correct the problems. Several Democratic and Republican members of Congress have submitted legislation to shore up election security. Proposals from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) include replacing paperless electronic voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots and optical scanners, subjecting voting equipment vendors to rigorous cybersecurity standards, and requiring vendors to report cybersecurity incidents.

But all the bills have hit a roadblock. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly told his colleagues that he will not allow the Senate to vote on election security legislation this session.

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A whole article on SolarWinds without mentioing Dominion even once. Well done!

Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign

On an earnings call two months ago, SolarWinds Chief Executive Kevin Thompson touted how far the company had gone during his 11 years at the helm. There was not a database or an IT deployment model out there to which his Austin, Texas-based company did not provide some level of monitoring or management, he told analysts on the Oct. 27 call. “We don’t think anyone else in the market is really even close in terms of the breadth of coverage we have,” he said. “We manage everyone’s network gear.” Now that dominance has become a liability – an example of how the workhorse software that helps glue organizations together can turn toxic when it is subverted by sophisticated hackers.

On Monday, SolarWinds confirmed that Orion – its flagship network management software – had served as the unwitting conduit for a sprawling international cyberespionage operation. The hackers inserted malicious code into Orion software updates pushed out to nearly 18,000 customers. And while the number of affected organizations is thought to be much more modest, the hackers have already parlayed their access into consequential breaches at the U.S. Treasury and Department of Commerce. Three people familiar with the investigation have told Reuters that Russia is a top suspect, although others familiar with the inquiry have said it is still too early to tell. [..] In a statement issued Sunday, the company said “we strive to implement and maintain appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, security processes, procedures, and standards designed to protect our customers.”

Cybersecurity experts are still struggling to understand the scope of the damage. The malicious updates – sent between March and June, when America was hunkering down to weather the first wave of coronavirus infections – was “perfect timing for a perfect storm,” said Kim Peretti, who co-chairs Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird’s cybersecurity preparedness and response team. Assessing the damage would be difficult, she said. “We may not know the true impact for many months, if not more – if not ever,” she said. The impact on SolarWinds was more immediate. U.S. officials ordered anyone running Orion to immediately disconnect it.

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Oh please, make it stop. What clown will takeover from Pompeo?

Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a verbal salvo charging that Russia continues to destabilize the Mediterranean, and that it sows “chaos, conflict, and division” in the region. Pompeo directed his comments Tuesday at his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who recently accused the U.S. of playing political games in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. “It’s unfortunate and unhelpful that Mr. Lavrov again gets the facts wrong and attempts to rewrite history,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States is working actively with allies and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean to promote greater stability, security, and prosperity.”

The comments come during a time of increased tensions between Washington and Moscow, and in the wake of reports that Russian hackers have breached U.S. government computer systems. Although he did not directly mention hacking operations, Pompeo charged Russia with spreading disinformation and undermining national sovereignty specifically in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. “In Syria, Russia supports the Assad regime whose war against its own people has added to regional instability, led to a protracted humanitarian crisis, and displaced half the population,” Pompeo said. The secretary of state listed a number of Russian actions in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and elsewhere.

“In Libya, Russia/ supported an assault on the/ Libyan capital, Tripoli, killing civilians and undermining the UN s efforts to bring peace to the country,” Pompeo said. Citing a litany of actions in Libya, Pompeo noted Russia had printed counterfeit Libyan dinars and has used its proxy mercenary army known as Wagner to fuel conflict.

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Sep 212020
 


Ray K. Metzker Europe 1961

 

Leak Shows Biggest Western Banks Finance Cartels, Terrorists & Mobsters (ZH)
Can We, Like, Stop Praising Sweden Now? (MB)
How COVID-19 Spreads (CDC)
People Not Rushing Back to Movie Theaters (NBCW)
Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky Home Targeted In Supreme Court Protest (Fox)
The War on Populism: The Final Act (CJ Hopkins)
Hunter Biden Is “Riding The Dragon” (ZH)
Biden’s Foreign Policy Advisors Loyal to Israel, Defense Contractors (CP)
Down the 1619 Project’s Memory Hole (Quillette)
JK Rowling’s Books Burned or Banned Around the World (Turley)
World’s Richest 1% Cause Double CO2 Emissions Of Poorest 50% – Oxfam (G.)
Ilargi: Why Trump Will Win (Yves Smith)

 

 

US new deaths lowest since July 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden 200 million

 

 

Lots of questions. My first and immediate one was: would this have been leaked to Assange if he had been available, and not to, of all places, BuzzFeed? Second: will the journalists and publishers (BBC et al) involved, now be treated the same way Assange has? There will be much more on this, but do keep watching out for criminal investigations. That will say a lot.

Leak Shows Biggest Western Banks Finance Cartels, Terrorists & Mobsters (ZH)

In what looks like one of the biggest leaks of private banking records since the Panama Papers, Buzzfeed News has published a lengthy investigation into how the world’s biggest banks allow dirty money from organized criminals, drug cartels, and terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban to flow through their networks. The “FinCEN Files”, as Buzzfeed calls them, offer “a never-before-seen picture of corruption and complicity.” A lengthy investigation by Buzzfeed and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – the same group that handled the Mossack Fonseca leaks – Instead of combating financial crime, the current system of requiring banks to report all suspicious transactions to FinCen simply allows money laundering to flourish, while ensuring that any enforcement will be of the ‘whack-a-mole’ variety.

“These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view, expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them. Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees. Money laundering is a crime that makes other crimes possible. It can accelerate economic inequality, drain public funds, undermine democracy, and destabilize nations — and the banks play a key role. “Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world,” said Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator for Wachovia.

Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is the agency within the Treasury Department charged with combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. It collects millions of these suspicious activity reports, known as SARs. It makes them available to US law enforcement agencies and other nations’ financial intelligence operations. It even compiles a report called “Kleptocracy Weekly” that summarizes the dealings of foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. What it does not do is force the banks to shut the money laundering down.”

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Let’s.

Can We, Like, Stop Praising Sweden Now? (MB)

I don’t expect the virus psychos to listen but here is the chart, courtesy of Greg Jericho at The Fake Left:

Sweden and EL Trumpo, hand in hand. Unleash the virus and unleash the economic decline.

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CDC update. Seemed easier as a pic. Do they still have any credibility left? You know, after Redfield’s “Act for one Man and one Mask”?

How COVID-19 Spreads (CDC)

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Common sense. Works better than any lockdown.

People Not Rushing Back to Movie Theaters (NBCW)

About three quarters of the country’s movie theaters are open, but Americans are not going back in significant numbers in the COVID-era, even with new films coming into the marketplace weekly. The biggest movies continue to limp along. According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” earned $4.7 million in its third weekend from nearly 2,930 locations, Disney’s “The New Mutants” added $1.6 million in its fourth weekend, “Unhinged” brought in $1.3 million and Sony’s rom-com “The Broken Hearts Gallery” picked up an additional $800,000 in its second frame. And newcomers aren’t faring any better. The faith-based “Infidel,” which stars Jim Caviezel, did the best with $1.5 million from just over 1,700 theaters.


This weekend also saw the limited release of two adult dramas, IFC’s “The Nest,” with Jude Law and Carrie Coon, and Bleecker Street’s “The Secrets We Keep,” with Noomi Rapace. Both played in under 500 theaters across the country and neither got much more than $200 per location. “The Nest” earned an estimated $62,000 from 301 locations and “The Secrets We Keep” brought in just under $90,000 from 471 theaters. “There’s no question that this is an extraordinarily challenging marketplace, especially for North America,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore’s senior media analyst. “This is a slow roll out. It’s going to take some time.”

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Stay away from people’s homes and families.

But what curious details in the article, feels like a small town daily:

“After facing the towing of her vehicle, the woman went inside the store and bought a six-pack of beer but police arrested her anyway, the report said. The arrest prompted other protesters to start chanting, and one member of the crowd kicked a glass door and damaged it, the newspaper reported. Other protesters agreed to move vehicles that were blocking traffic on a nearby street, following a police request.”

Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky Home Targeted In Supreme Court Protest (Fox)

At least one protester was arrested Saturday after a group of about 100 people gathered outside the Kentucky home of Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. The Senate majority leader is a key figure in determining whether a nominee appointed by President Trump will succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court before Election Day. “Ruth Sent Us,” and “No Ethics No Shame,” read some of the signs carried by crowd members in Louisville, local FOX station WDRB-TV reported. “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Mitch McConnell has got to go,” others chanted. Reports were unclear on whether McConnell was at home in Kentucky or in Washington on Saturday.


In addition to the impending battle over the court vacancy, McConnell, 78 – a member of the Senate since 1985 — also faces a reelection fight on Kentucky’s November ballot. One protester was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and improper parking, after police determined she used a pharmacy parking lot without planning to patronize the store, the Courier Journal of Louisville reported. After facing the towing of her vehicle, the woman went inside the store and bought a six-pack of beer but police arrested her anyway, the report said. The arrest prompted other protesters to start chanting, and one member of the crowd kicked a glass door and damaged it, the newspaper reported. Other protesters agreed to move vehicles that were blocking traffic on a nearby street, following a police request.

2016/2020
https://twitter.com/i/status/1307877608487628802

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“..our protagonist is GloboCap (i.e., the global capitalist empire), or “democracy,” as it is known in the entertainment business.”

The War on Populism: The Final Act (CJ Hopkins)

So, it appears the War on Populism is building toward an exciting climax. All the proper pieces are in place for a Class-A GloboCap color revolution, and maybe even civil war. You got your unauthorized Putin-Nazi president, your imaginary apocalyptic pandemic, your violent identitarian civil unrest, your heavily-armed politically-polarized populace, your ominous rumblings from military quarters … you couldn’t really ask for much more. OK, the plot is pretty obvious by now (as it is in all big-budget action spectacles, which is essentially what color revolutions are), but that won’t spoil our viewing experience. The fun isn’t in guessing what is going to happen. Everybody knows what’s going to happen. The fun is in watching Bruce, or Sigourney, or “the moderate rebels,” or the GloboCap “Resistance,” take down the monster, or the terrorists, or Hitler, and save the world, or democracy, or whatever.

The show-runners at GloboCap understand this, and they are sticking to the classic Act III formula (i.e., the one they teach in all those scriptwriting seminars, which, full disclosure, I teach a few of those). They’ve been running the War on Populism by the numbers since the very beginning. I’m going to break that down in just a moment, act by act, plot point by plot point, but, first, let’s quickly cover the basics. The first thing every big Hollywood action picture (or GloboCap color revolution) needs is a solid logline to build the plot around. The logline shows us: (1) our protagonist, (2) what our protagonist is trying to do, and (3) our antagonist or antagonistic force. For example, here’s one everyone will recognize: “A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.”

In our case, the logline writes itself: “After America is taken over by a Russian-backed Hitlerian dictator, the forces of democracy unite to depose the tyrant and save the free world.” Donald Trump is our antagonist, of course. And what an antagonist he has been! As the deep-state spooks and the corporate media have been relentlessly repeating for the last four years, the man is both a Russian-backed traitor and literally the resurrection of Hitler! In terms of baddies, it doesn’t get any better. It goes without saying that our protagonist is GloboCap (i.e., the global capitalist empire), or “democracy,” as it is known in the entertainment business.

Now, we’re in the middle of Act III already, and, as in every big-budget action movie, our protagonist suffered a series of mounting losses all throughout Act II, and the baddie was mostly driving the action. Now it’s time for the Final Push, but, before all the action gets underway, here’s a quick recap of those previous acts. Ready? All right, here we go …

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Full 40 minute movie. is Hunter’s basement the one below Joe’s?

Hunter Biden Is “Riding The Dragon” (ZH)

In the lead-up to the November election political investigator and author Peter Schweizer, who currently heads the Florida-based Government Accountability Institute, has unveiled a bombshell exposé presenting damning evidence of Hunter and his father Joe Biden’s shady and hidden financial dealings with China. Directed by Matthew Taylor, whose prior works include Clinton Cash and Creepy Line, the 41-minute film entitled “Riding the Dragon: The Bidens’ Chinese Secrets,” details a pile of corporate records, financial documents, legal briefings as well as court papers which tie Hunter’s firm with a major Chinese defense contractor, namely Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), and multiple other PLA linked companies.


“It’s a relationship that grew while Joe Biden was vice president of the United States and shortly after he was appointed the point person on U.S. policy towards China,” Schweizer, who narratives the film, described upon the documentary’s release earlier this month. “This new firm started making investment deals that would serve the strategic interests of the Chinese military.” “It’s the story of the second most powerful man in the world at the time and how his family was striking deals with America’s chief rival on the global stage, the People’s Republic of China,” he added.

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“Biden’s campaign is so beholden to AIPAC that they have adopted racist tropes to define Palestinians, the same tropes used to justify apartheid policies.”

Biden’s Foreign Policy Advisors Loyal to Israel, Defense Contractors (CP)

When Donald Trump was elected president, the foreign policy apparatus that Barack Obama’s administration built did not disappear. The power brokers went to think tanks and lobbying firms, cashing in on the uncertainty with help from defense contractors and other corporations. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s potential foreign policy would likely be a continuation of Obama’s aggressive approach with the use of extrajudicial killings and jailing of asylum seekers. Advisors have made clear that Biden would have no intention of making military aid to Israel conditional on Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians. Michèle Flournoy, a front-runner for Biden’s pick for Secretary of Defense, is already considered something of a glass ceiling breaker as the highest-ranking woman to have served as a Senate-confirmed Presidential appointee in the Pentagon.

In 2011 the Washington Post described her as “tall and slender with a regal manner” and “known for being extremely poised and rarely showing emotion.” In 2018, Flournoy co-founded WestExec advisors with Biden foreign policy advisor Antony Blinken, Former Deputy Secretary of State. Blinken, who is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and global affairs analyst at CNN, is on leave from the firm to focus on the presidential campaign. The firm is a group of senior national security professionals who advise corporations, including former CIA deputy director David S. Cohen and Dan Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel. WestExec does not disclose its clients, but according to the American Prospect, they work with Israeli artificial intelligence company Windward.

In July, as part of the Democratic National Committee, Shapiro called on members to oppose a measure to condition U.S. aid to Israel so “no US aid may be used to facilitate annexation or to violate Palestinians rights.” The measure was rejected by a wide margin. “While we understand that those concerns have not been addressed to the full satisfaction of all parties, we believe we have taken significant and overdue strides while sustaining the unity of our Party,” Shapiro said. Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris has drawn criticism in the past for her relationship with the Israeli government. In May 2019, she met with representatives of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from California in her Senate office after saying she would not attend the conference. Her campaign communications director said at the time that “her support for Israel is central to who she is.”

In 2017, Harris visited Israel, where she was photographed speaking with two members of the Israel Defense Forces in front of a Raytheon Iron Dome missile defense battery. She visited a cybersecurity development program run by the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli National Cyber Bureau in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Finally, she met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem the day after he had announced a plan to deport 40,000 African asylum seekers. She told AIPAC the same year: “[The] first resolution I co-sponsored as a United States senator was to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and reaffirm that the United States seeks a just, secure, and sustainable two-state solution.” Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), told the Middle East Eye: “Biden’s campaign is so beholden to AIPAC that they have adopted racist tropes to define Palestinians, the same tropes used to justify apartheid policies.”

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Rewriting history is not as easy as it may seem.

Down the 1619 Project’s Memory Hole (Quillette)

The history of the American Revolution isn’t the only thing the New York Times is revising through its 1619 Project. The “paper of record” has also taken to quietly altering the published text of the project itself after one of its claims came under intense criticism. When the 1619 Project went to print in August 2019 as a special edition of the New York Times Magazine, the newspaper put up an interactive version on its website. The original opening text stated: The 1619 project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

The passage, and in particular its description of the year 1619 as “our true founding,” quickly became a flashpoint for controversy around the project. Critics on both the Left and Right took issue with the paper’s declared intention of displacing 1776 with the alternative date—a point that was also emphasized in the magazine feature’s graphics, showing the date of American independence crossed out and replaced by the date of the first slave ship’s arrival in Jamestown, Virginia. For several months after the 1619 Project first launched, its creator and organizer Nikole Hannah-Jones doubled down on the claim. “I argue that 1619 is our true founding,” she tweeted the week after the project launched. “Also, look at the banner pic in my profile”—a reference to the graphic of the date 1776 crossed out with a line. It’s a claim she repeated many times over.

But something changed as the historical controversies around the 1619 Project intensified in late 2019 and early 2020. A group of five distinguished historians took issue with Hannah-Jones’s lead essay, focusing on its historically unsupported claim that protecting slavery was a primary motive of the American revolutionaries when they broke away from Britain in 1776. Other details of the project soon came under scrutiny, revealing both errors of fact and dubious interpretations of evidence in other essays, such as Matthew Desmond’s 1619 Project piece attempting to connect American capitalism with slavery. Finally back in March, a historian who the Times recruited to fact-check Hannah-Jones’s essay revealed that she had warned the paper against publishing its claims about the motives of the American Revolution on account of their weak evidence. The 1619 Project’s editors ignored the advice.

Throughout the controversy, the line about the year 1619 being “our true founding” continued to haunt the Times. This criticism did not aim to denigrate the project’s titular date or the associated events in the history of slavery. Rather, the passage came to symbolize the Times’s blurring of historical analysis with editorial hyperbole. The announced intention of reframing the country’s origin date struck many readers across the political spectrum as an implicit repudiation of the American revolution and its underlying principles. Rather than address this controversy directly, the Times—it now appears—decided to send it down the memory hole—the euphemized term for selectively editing inconvenient passages out of old newspaper reports in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.

Without announcement or correction, the newspaper quietly edited out the offending passage such that it now reads: The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

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Rewriting history 2.0. Harry Potter meets George Orwell. It feels an eternity ago that I wrote “No More Washington or America”, about once you get started, there is no end.

JK Rowling’s Books Burned or Banned Around the World (Turley)

In Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore told the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Many are learning the truth of that line written by famed author JK Rowling as self-described progressives burn her books or ban them from shelves because she personally holds an opposing view of gender. Much like the boycott movement of Chick-Fil-A over comments by its CEO, people are seeking to punish Rowling through attacks on her literature. We previously discussed the embracing of art destruction as analogous to book burning, but now actual book burning is being embraced as a weapon of the woke.

A TikTok series show people around the world burning copies of Rowlings’ books. In one video of a burning pile of books by TikTok user @elmcdo, a voice is heard saying “You have to stop using ‘death of the author’ as an excuse to have your cake and eat it too. While the reader’s perspective is an important part of interpretation and meaning, it is impossible to completely divorce a work from its creator. The positive impact that J.K. Rowling’s work had on millions of readers does not negate how her hateful lobbying has affected the trans community.” That sums up the logic of every book burner in history. You cannot read a book because of the views or religion or identity of the author. It is better to burn the book to protect society.

Then there is Rabble Books and Games in Maylands, Perth. The owner owner Nat Latter proudly declared on Facebook that he had removed all fo the Harry Potter books from bookshelves to guarantee “a safer space for our community.” So you can buy a Rowlings book by having it retrieved from behind the back room like pornography. It is a form of censoring by making it more difficult to buy some books rather than others because you disfavor authors with opposing views. Latter seems to relish the role of a book censoring book seller: “Whilst stocking a book isn’t an endorsement (good grief, that would be a minefield), and we will always take orders for books that aren’t in stock, there are more worthy books to put on the shelf, books that don’t harm communities and won’t make us sad to unpack them.”

Does Latter also hide works with opposing views on gender from the Bible to the Koran to classic novels? Indeed, why not pull all of the work of authors like Hemingway and others for their views of women or race relations or other issues? Book sellers used to be people who wants to be gateways to knowledge and a world of different ideas and values. Now readers are being protected from even seeing the name of an author who personally holds opposing or offensive views. [..] These actions only prove again what Albus Dumbledore said (and J.K. Rowling wrote): “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

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Not in the least surprising. The poorest half, 3.5 billion people, are good for just 7% of emissions.

World’s Richest 1% Cause Double CO2 Emissions Of Poorest 50% – Oxfam (G.)

The wealthiest 1% of the world’s population were responsible for the emission of more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorer half of the world from 1990 to 2015, according to new research. Carbon dioxide emissions rose by 60% over the 25-year period, but the increase in emissions from the richest 1% was three times greater than the increase in emissions from the poorest half. The report, compiled by Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute, warned that rampant overconsumption and the rich world’s addiction to high-carbon transport are exhausting the world’s “carbon budget”.

Such a concentration of carbon emissions in the hands of the rich means that despite taking the world to the brink of climate catastrophe, through burning fossil fuels, we have still failed to improve the lives of billions, said Tim Gore, head of policy, advocacy and research at Oxfam International. “The global carbon budget has been squandered to expand the consumption of the already rich, rather than to improve humanity,” he told the Guardian. “A finite amount of carbon can be added to the atmosphere if we want to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. We need to ensure that carbon is used for the best.”

The richest 10% of the global population, comprising about 630 million people, were responsible for about 52% of global emissions over the 25-year period, the study showed. Globally, the richest 10% are those with incomes above about $35,000 (£27,000) a year, and the richest 1% are people earning more than about $100,000.

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Yves posted my essay from yesterday at Naked Capitalism, with this interesting comment. I know some people here feel poorly treated at NC, but I never have, and Yves and I have had a solid relationship for 12 years or so.

Ilargi: Why Trump Will Win (Yves Smith)

Yves here. As Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway said: “The good thing about someone else’s prejudices is that they either confirm your own, or they make you cross – either of which is a blessing in these bland times.” Here Ilargi reveals a bias…but not, as some might suggest, of being pro-Trump, but of seeing this Presidential election as being personality-driven. I doubt that is correct, which is one of the many factors that makes this contest too difficult to call despite Trump lagging in polls. Historically, marketers did not like “psychographic” market segmentations because they would cross demographic and geographic lines, which made it difficult to target prospects cost-effectively.

With the Internet creating social media outlets that cater to people with particular views, like lovin’ gunz or believing in Russiagate, suddenly that sort of segmentation is not only viable but may actually be attractive. As readers know well, Sanders was running on policy, not personality. As one friend said, Sanders has all the charm of your cranky Jewish uncle telling you to take your feet off the coffee table. Under prodding, he did make some small efforts in his 2020 campaign to seem less scold-y by smiling more and telling a bit of his life story. And as readers also know, Sanders had strong support among young voters. The Democratic party leadership beat Sanders not by having better policies or a more appealing a candidate, but by using what amounts to machine politics: rallying different voter blocs that are loyal to the party either by design or default.

The extension of the machine policy mindset is the Democratic party strategm of invoking tribalism. This is particularly effective because their core, the professional-managerial class, is so convinced of its right to rule via merit that it is almost incapable of seeing itself as a class (see Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal for a brilliant description of its ethnography). But its shadow side, in Jungian terms, of the PMC is its stereotype of the white working class. In their minds, this uneducated, undisciplined lot is getting what it deserves, and having them have influence is an affront to the proper ordering of society. Hillary’s “deplorables” remark was no accident. Time recapped what she said:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” She said the other half of Trump’s supporters “feel that the government has let them down” and are “desperate for change.” “Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well,” she said. What is the subtext of Hillary’s remark? That Trump’s voters are lower income and less educated. The less educated part is correct, the lower income is not.

[..] What about the general election? A few weeks ago, the American National Election Study — the longest-running election survey in the United States — released its 2016 survey data. And it showed that in November 2016, the Trump coalition looked a lot like it did during the primaries…many of the voters without college educations who supported Trump were relatively affluent. It isn’t hard to imagine that higher income/less educated voters would resent the preening of the credentialed elites and would find Trump’s total lack of respect for what they hold dear to be attractive. But the gods look to have handed Biden a gift with the timing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. It’s galvanizing Democratic Party donations and will probably persuade some voters who weren’t terribly keen about Biden to go to the effort of voting for him.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 232020
 


Harris&Ewing House-Capitol tunnel (may get moving walk), Washington, DC 1939

 

How Long to 1 Million US Cases? (Mish)
Nobel Laureate Predicts A Quicker Coronavirus Recovery (LAT)
Canadian Doctor Rigs Ventilator to Treat 9 Patients Instead of One (IE)
Coronavirus May Have Existed In Italy Since November: Local Researcher (CGTN)
The Epicenter of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Humanitarian Crises in Italy (NEJM)
The Government Budget Deficit Is About To Explode (CNBC)
Senate Democrats Block Mammoth Coronavirus Stimulus Package (Hill)
Blame Game Heats Up As Senate Motion Fails (Hill)
Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43 (Time)
Coronavirus Reveals Financial Irresponsibility Of Americans (Hill)
Preventing COVID-19 From Infecting the Commercial Mortgage Market (Barrack)
Singapore Airlines Slashes 96% Of Capacity, Grounds Most Planes (CNA)
China’s Housing Bubble Bursts (ZH)
New Zealand To Go Into Month-Long Lockdown (G.)

 

 

Cases 345,292 (+ 33,496 from yesterday’s 311,796)

Deaths 14,925 (+ 1,854 from yesterday’s 13,071)

 

 

Haven’t shown these two graphs from Worldometer in a while. Obvious enough?!

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

One look at the US suffices:

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 13% !! –

 

 

From SCMP: (SCMP appears to have given up on timely updating)

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

Reported US coronavirus cases via @CNN:

3/1: 89
3/2: 105
3/3: 125
3/4: 159
3/5: 227
3/6: 331
3/7: 444
3/8: 564
3/9: 728
3/10: 1,000
3/11: 1,267
3/12: 1,645
3/13: 2,204
3/14: 2,826
3/15: 3,505
3/16: 4,466
3/17: 6,135
3/18: 8,760
3/19: 13,229
3/20: 18,763
3/21: 25,740
Now: 35,070

Note: unlike many other nations, US numbers are updated several times a day.
Note 2: about half of US cases are in New York State. It it were a country, it would be in 7th place in the world.

 

 

The US would have to pass China in total infections by Thursday, 35,000 vs 81,000 now. Almost tripling in 3 days. I don’t know, and I’m not the biggest optimist around here.

How Long to 1 Million US Cases? (Mish)

Inquiring minds are investigating a relatively new data feed from the Covid Tracking Project. I plot four data series for the US: Negative tests, positive tests, hospitalized, and deaths. Arguably, hospitalizations are the most significant column but the project only has two days worth of data. Once I have another dfats point or two, I will plot a trendline manually.


Trendlines At the current pace, the number of positive coronavirus cases would hit 100,000 on March 26, and 1,000,000 on April 3. At the current pace, the number of coronavirus deaths would hit 1,000 on March 26, and 10,000 on April 5. Those are not my projections, those are observations of what would happen if the current trends last that long at the same pace.

Read more …

Your good news of the day. Based on new deaths levelling off.

Nobel Laureate Predicts A Quicker Coronavirus Recovery (LAT)

Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted. Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world. While many epidemiologists are warning of months, or even years, of massive social disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says the data simply don’t support such a dire scenario — especially in areas where reasonable social distancing measures are in place. “What we need is to control the panic,” he said. In the grand scheme, “we’re going to be fine.”

Here’s what Levitt noticed in China: On Jan. 31, the country had 46 new deaths due to the novel coronavirus, compared with 42 new deaths the day before. Although the number of daily deaths had increased, the rate of that increase had begun to ease off. Essentially, although the car was still speeding up, it was not accelerating as rapidly as before. “This suggests that the rate of increase in number of the deaths will slow down even more over the next week,” Levitt wrote in a report he sent to friends Feb. 1 that was widely shared on Chinese social media. And soon, he predicted, the number of deaths would be decreasing every day.

Three weeks later, Levitt told the China Daily News that the virus’ rate of growth had peaked. He predicted that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China would end up around 80,000, with about 3,250 deaths. This forecast turned out to be remarkably accurate: As of March 16, China had counted a total of 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths — in a nation of nearly 1.4 billion people where roughly 10 million die every year. The number of newly diagnosed patients has dropped to around 25 a day, with no cases of community spread reported since Wednesday. Now Levitt, who received the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing complex models of chemical systems, is seeing similar turning points in other nations, even ones that did not instill the draconian isolation measures that China did.

He analyzed 78 countries with more than 50 reported cases of COVID-19 every day and sees “signs of recovery.” He’s not looking at cumulative cases, but the number of new cases every day — and the percentage growth in that number from one day to the next. [..] Based on the experience of the Diamond Princess, he estimates that being exposed to the new coronavirus doubles a person’s risk of dying in the next two months. However, most people have an extremely low risk of death in a two-month period, and that risk remains extremely low even when doubled.

Read more …

More good news. He can do it in 10 minutes.

Canadian Doctor Rigs Ventilator to Treat 9 Patients Instead of One (IE)

As hospitals scramble to secure more ventilators, some doctors are getting creative in order to help their patients. Such is the case with Canadian doctor Dr. Alain Gauthier, an anesthetist at the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Ontario. Gauthier, who has a Ph.D. in respiratory mechanics, turned one hospital ventilator into a machine that can serve nine clients using do-it-yourself mechanics. The process was so brilliant that some have even called him an “evil genius.” Gauthier was inspired by YouTube videos created by two Detroit doctors in 2006, according to CBC News. He said he created a complex ventilator to offer people the best chance at survival. “At one point we may not have other options,” Gauthier told CBC News. “The option could be well, we let people die or we give that a chance.”

Read more …

I would lend much more credence to this if it didn’t come from the state-run China Global Television Network. It feels like they want to plant the narrative out there that it didn’t start in China at all.

Coronavirus May Have Existed In Italy Since November: Local Researcher (CGTN)

As COVID-19 spreads across the world, many are interested in the origin of the virus behind this deadly disease. Fingers have been pointed at China, the U.S. and other places. Recently, a pharmacological researcher provided another possible lead to National Public Radio (NPR), a U.S. media outlet. Dr. Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Italy, said he heard from general practitioners in the country’s Lombardy region that “they remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November.” “This means that the virus was circulating, at least in [the northern region of Lombardy and before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China,” he told NPR.

Though Dr. Remuzzi originally used these words to answer a different question – why Italy acted later than expected on COVID-19 – NPR singled out this particular information in a tweet because it may relate to the origin of the novel coronavirus. China’s CCTV did the same thing by putting it on the headline of their report, though Dr. Remuzzi’s latest research mainly concerns how dire the situation is for Italy rather than the origin of the disease. What’s more interesting is that the English-language comments under the NPR tweet seem to completely differ from the Chinese-language ones under the CCTV Weibo. Many English comments suspect that China hid the situation from the world for a long time and that’s why similar symptoms showed up in Italy before the outbreak.

“China lied, people died” was most liked comment under NPR’s tweet. “So the Chinese government covered it up for even longer than we thought,” another comment said. A lot of Chinese comments, on the other hand, concluded that the virus originated in the U.S., so both China and Italy are victims. “Go to Trump for answers,” said a Weibo comment with more than 2,500 likes. “COVID-19 is a U.S. virus,” said another comment.

Read more …

When hospitals become super-spreaders. All it takes is enough sick people.

“Lombardy’s health care workers have been badly hit w/ infections–the differences with other regions are staggering. A recent paper by local docs argues that hospitals might be a key source of transmission there.”

The Epicenter of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Humanitarian Crises in Italy (NEJM)

In a pandemic, patient-centered care is inadequate and must be replaced by community-centered care. Solutions for Covid-19 are required for the entire population, not only for hospitals. The catastrophe unfolding in wealthy Lombardy could happen anywhere. Clinicians at a hospital at the epicenter call for a long-term plan for the next pandemic. We work at the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, a brand-new state-of-the-art facility with 48 intensive-care beds. Despite being a relatively small city, this is the epicenter of the Italian epidemic, listing 4,305 cases at this moment — more than Milan or anywhere else in the country. Lombardy is one of the richest and most densely populated regions in Europe and is now the most severely affected one. The WHO reported 74,346 laboratory-confirmed cases in Europe on March 18 — 35,713 of them in Italy.


Our own hospital is highly contaminated, and we are far beyond the tipping point: 300 beds out of 900 are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Fully 70% of ICU beds in our hospital are reserved for critically ill Covid-19 patients with a reasonable chance to survive. The situation here is dismal as we operate well below our normal standard of care. Wait times for an intensive care bed are hours long. Older patients are not being resuscitated and die alone without appropriate palliative care, while the family is notified over the phone, often by a well-intentioned, exhausted, and emotionally depleted physician with no prior contact. But the situation in the surrounding area is even worse. Most hospitals are overcrowded, nearing collapse while medications, mechanical ventilators, oxygen, and personal protective equipment are not available.

Patients lay on floor mattresses. The health care system struggles to deliver regular services — even pregnancy care and child delivery — while cemeteries are overwhelmed, which will create another public health problem. In hospitals, health care workers and ancillary staff are alone, trying to keep the system operational. Outside the hospitals, communities are neglected, vaccination programs are on standby, and the situation in prisons is becoming explosive with no social distancing. We have been in quarantine since March 10. Unfortunately, the outside world seems unaware that in Bergamo, this outbreak is out of control.


Western health care systems have been built around the concept of patient-centered care, but an epidemic requires a change of perspective toward a concept of community-centered care. What we are painfully learning is that we need experts in public health and epidemics, yet this has not been the focus of decision makers at the national, regional, and hospital levels. We lack expertise on epidemic conditions, guiding us to adopt special measures to reduce epidemiologically negative behaviors. For example, we are learning that hospitals might be the main Covid-19 carriers, as they are rapidly populated by infected patients, facilitating transmission to uninfected patients. Patients are transported by our regional system,1 which also contributes to spreading the disease as its ambulances and personnel rapidly become vectors. Health workers are asymptomatic carriers or sick without surveillance; some might die, including young people, which increases the stress of those on the front line.

Read more …

“It’s truly a bridge to the other side of an act of God…”

The Government Budget Deficit Is About To Explode (CNBC)

Remember when people were all worked up over trillion-dollar government budget deficits? Those might seem like the good old days, once Congress and the White House finish up the coronavirus rescue package expected to be approved in the next few days. Estimates of just how big the final bill would be vary, but it’s assured that it will be a historic moment for sheer fiscal force being exerted at a time of economic duress. Administration statements over the past few days point to something on the order of $2 trillion in economic juice. By contrast, then-President Barack Obama ushered an $831 billion package through during the financial crisis.

That type of fiscal burden comes as the government already has chalked up $624.5 billion in red ink through just the first five months of the fiscal year, which started in October. That spending pace extrapolated through the full fiscal year would lead to a $1.5 trillion deficit, and that’s aside from any of the spending to combat the coronavirus. Already, the national debt stands at more than $23.5 trillion and will be on track to eclipse $25 trillion. Taxpayers shelled out $574.6 billion in fiscal 2019 on interest payments for the debt and another $229.1 billion in fiscal 2020. In short, the shock from the COVID-19 spread will blow a fiscal hole through Washington, D.C., that could take years if not decades to patch.

Hand-wringing over what this will all do to the debt and deficit situation, however, will have to wait for another day. In times of crisis, there is little patience for fiscal austerity, only a sense of urgency that while government spending can’t stop the virus from spreading, it can mitigate what will be profound economic damage. “It’s truly a bridge to the other side of an act of God,” economist Paul McCulley told CNBC.com. “We’ll deal down the road with the impacts on so many fronts of society with the whole thing. Right now, worrying about fiscal incontinence is the exact opposite of where we should be. We should have fiscal robustness implemented through effectively a joint venture between fiscal and monetary policy.”

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Romney to Senate Dems: “Keep this up a little longer and we will go from social distancing to social destruction.”

Senate Democrats Block Mammoth Coronavirus Stimulus Package (Hill)

Senate Democrats on Sunday blocked a coronavirus stimulus package from moving forward as talks on several key provisions remain stalled. Senators voted 47-47 on advancing a “shell” bill, a placeholder that the text of the stimulus legislation would have been swapped into, falling short of the three-fifths threshold needed to advance the proposal. Hopes of a quick stimulus deal quickly unraveled on Sunday as the four congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to break the impasse. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also delayed the procedural vote for three hours as they tried to get a deal. Democratic senators argue that the GOP bill includes several “non-starters” and walks back areas of agreement, such as expanding unemployment insurance, they thought they had reached with Republicans.

They emerged from a closed-door lunch fuming over the bill circulated by Republicans and called for McConnell to hold off on the 3 p.m. cloture vote. “We are pleading with McConnell not to call this vote,” Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said after the lunch. “It’s a serious mistake. We have not negotiated this to the point of agreement yet.” Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who is up for reelection in a deeply red state, said that the Senate needed to be “as unified as possible.” “We don’t need split votes,” he said. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) added that the proposal put forward by Republicans was “totally inadequate.” That resulted in McConnell delaying the vote to 6 p.m.

Read more …

I vote against all politicians.

Blame Game Heats Up As Senate Motion Fails (Hill)

The finger-pointing on Capitol Hill reached a fever pitch Sunday evening, as both sides rushed to blame the other after a Senate motion to move a mammoth coronavirus relief bill failed on the chamber floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) quickly took to the floor to hammer Democratic leaders, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for what he characterized as petty obstruction that ignores the urgency of the crisis. “We were doing a good job of coming together until this morning, when the Speaker showed up — we don’t have a Speaker in the Senate, that’s in the House — and when the leader [Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)] and the speaker came in [they] blew everything up,” an agitated McConnell, his face flushed, said walking off the Senate floor.

Democrats quickly countered with accusations that it was McConnell who had abandoned the negotiations the night before, when the Senate leader announced that Republicans would begin drafting the massive stimulus package before Democrats had endorsed it. “There was a good spirit of negotiation into early last night. And right about 8 o’clock, our side sensed a sort of change in attitude, an unwillingness to give and negotiate, for reasons we don’t fully understand,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). The tense back-and-forth came moments after Democrats blocked a procedural motion to advance Congress’s third round of emergency relief — a package approaching $2 trillion — in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated markets, sparked mass layoffs and ravaged businesses large and small across the country.

Democrats have raised a long list of objections to the Republicans’ proposal, saying the bill does too little to protect the unemployed, feed the hungry, subsidize states and cushion students facing mounds of debt. They’re also up in arms over language to provide up to $500 billion in loans and guarantees for corporations, at the sole discretion of the administration.

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And she was lucky enough to get tested.

Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43 (Time)

When Danni Askini started feeling chest pain, shortness of breath and a migraine all at once on a Saturday in late February, she called the oncologist who had been treating her lymphoma. Her doctor thought she might be reacting poorly to a new medication, so she sent Askini to a Boston-area emergency room. There, doctors told her it was likely pneumonia and sent her home. Over the next several days, Askini saw her temperature spike and drop dangerously, and she developed a cough that gurgled because of all the liquid in her lungs. After two more trips to the ER that week, Askini was given a final test on the seventh day of her illness, and once doctors helped manage her flu and pneumonia symptoms, they again sent her home to recover. She waited another three days for a lab to process her test, and at last she had a diagnosis: COVID-19.

A few days later, Askini got the bills for her testing and treatment: $34,927.43. “I was pretty sticker-shocked,” she says. “I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.” Like 27 million other Americans, Askini was uninsured when she first entered the hospital. She and her husband had been planning to move to Washington, D.C. this month so she could take a new job, but she hadn’t started yet. Now that those plans are on hold, Askini applied for Medicaid and is hoping the program will retroactively cover her bills. If not, she’ll be on the hook. She’ll be in good company. Public health experts predict that tens of thousands and possibly millions of people across the United States will likely need to be hospitalized for COVID-19 in the foreseeable future.

And Congress has yet to address the problem. On March 18, it passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which covers testing costs going forward, but it doesn’t do anything to address the cost of treatment. While most people infected with COVID-19 will not need to be hospitalized and can recover at home, according to the World Health Organization, those who do need to go to the ICU can likely expect big bills, regardless of what insurance they have. As the U.S. government works on another stimulus package, future relief is likely to help ease some economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but gaps remain.

Read more …

Of course there are Americans who borrow and spend too much. But how for the love of God is that a licence to even risk labeling people working 3 jobs and still not making ends meet, as irresponsible idiots who should save more? Who is irresponsible around here?

Coronavirus Reveals Financial Irresponsibility Of Americans (Hill)

How long could you sustain your household if you were to stop earning income? If you are like most Americans, the answer is not for long. Only 40 percent of Americans can afford an unexpected $1,000 expense with their savings. In fact, nearly 80 percent of workers are living paycheck to paycheck. It is no surprise that the probability of an economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic caused many to worry. In major cities such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, restaurants and businesses have been ordered to close. For many hourly workers, this means no paychecks in the coming weeks. Almost one in five Americans have already lost their jobs or have reduced hours.

At the same time, salaried workers are concerned about job security, as mass layoffs at numerous companies loom. While the situation is understandably stressful for every person affected, it serves as a sobering reminder that Americans must learn to live within their means and regularly save money. The need for all Americans to be able to sustain themselves for at least a few months on savings is accentuated during a time of crisis. This means planning ahead when times are good. Financial planners suggest saving at least 20 percent of take home income, while spending at most 30 percent on discretionary items. Yet too many workers still fail to think twice about spending entire paychecks for things they want but do not need.

Recent decades have offered us relative luxury. More than 80 percent of Americans own smartphones. The same portion of households own one high definition flat screen television, while over half of households own more than one. Over 60 percent of Americans dine out at least once a week, while nearly 20 percent dine out three or more times a week. The current panic is refocusing us on what is important. We now stockpile the things necessary for our health. Smartphones, fancy televisions, and restaurant meals are usually luxuries rather than necessities. Living within our means is not just rhetoric. It is a means of guarding ourselves during times like these. We have so much to learn from those who came before us. How many of our grandparents fared the austerity of the World Wars and the Great Depression, discovering to save, mend, and repair?

Read more …

The richer suffer more, they’ll have you know. What pricks this dick’s balloon, though, is suggesting that prior to corona, there was a “normal chain of revenue generation etc.” and “solid economic fundamentals”. There haven’t been any normal markets, and that includes commercial mortgages, since Alan Greenspan. You may like to disagree, but just wait till the Fed folds.

Preventing COVID-19 From Infecting the Commercial Mortgage Market (Barrack)

As a major participant in the non-bank real estate lending industry, I am fully supportive of the nation’s extraordinary response to contain COVID-19. The profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the public health and safety of all Americans is unprecedented and the response measures being taken by federal, state, and local government agencies are essential and critical. One aspect of this all-out assault on an invisible enemy — in the effort to suppress the contagion and manage the precious resources of our medical community and first responders — has been the unfortunate but necessary cessation of general commerce nationwide.

Now everyone, from corporations and small and mid-sized businesses to employees and laborers from all walks of life, has been displaced from the normal chain of revenue generation, cash flow, and income necessary to meet their obligations, from payment of salaries, rent payments, mortgage payments, and all other debts and bills required in the daily life of every business and every American. As a direct consequence of the necessary response measures to COVID-19, high performing mortgage loans across the entire commercial real estate sector (approximately $16 trillion in aggregate), which had previously been grounded in solid economic fundamentals, are suddenly experiencing a temporary meltdown in cash flows.

We are seeing the beginning of a second crisis that will occur in the financial markets that underpin the lifeblood of these employees, workers, and businesses. Based on my own personal past experiences I would like to share with you some thoughts on how to alleviate the potential blockage in the commercial mortgage market which is beginning to raise its perilous head. Addressing this major looming crisis in liquidity in a coordinated manner will be essential in averting a crisis in credit and a long term economic recession.

Read more …

This is just one of many such reports, of course. What I found interesting is that just 5 days ago, Singapore Airlines said it would cut flight capacity by 50%. And you wonder: what happened since Wednesday?

Emirates announced yesterday they would cut all flights, only to be told some flights are essential to services. Those are reinstated.

Singapore Airlines Slashes 96% Of Capacity, Grounds Most Planes (CNA)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will cut 96 per cent of its capacity that had been scheduled up to the end of April, said the airline on Monday (Mar 23). The decision was made after the further tightening of border controls around the world over the last week to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, SIA said in a news release. About 138 SIA and SilkAir planes, out of a total fleet of 147, will be grounded as a result. Scoot, the company’s low-cost unit, will suspend “most of its network” and will ground all but two of its 49 planes. This comes amid the “greatest challenge that the SIA Group has faced in its existence”, the company said.


“It is unclear when the SIA Group can begin to resume normal services, given the uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted,” it said. “The resultant collapse in the demand for air travel has led to a significant decline in SIA’s passenger revenues.” Over the last few days, the SIA Group has drawn on its lines of credits to meet its immediate cash flow requirements, it said, adding that it is in discussions with several financial institutions on its future funding requirements. “The company is actively taking steps to build up its liquidity, and to reduce capital expenditure and operating costs,” it added. SIA said it is in talks with aircraft manufacturers to defer upcoming deliveries, in the hopes of delaying payment for those deliveries.

Read more …

This is a bigger threat to Xi than the coronavirus. And why does it happen? Because China’s second-largest property developer wants to be the world’s biggest maker of electric cars…

China’s Housing Bubble Bursts (ZH)

Now that the world is firmly focusing on apocalyptic forecasts about the state of the US and global economy, with St Louis Fed president James Bullard the latest to pour gasoline into the fire with his worst-case prediction of a 50% GDP drop and 30% surge in unemployment in Q2, it is easy to forget that China, which started this whole pandemic, is still in economic lockdown. And while Beijing is pretending that the Shanghai Sniffles are now firmly behind it, and forcing people back to work while openly fabricating disease numbers – because like Lloyd Blankfein it has realized that an economic depression is an even worse outcome than millions infected – the reality is that China’s economy is facing an unprecedented crisis of its own.


Today we got a stark reminder of that, when Evergrande Group – China’s second-largest property developer by sales – tumbled in early trading Monday after saying it expects full-year earnings to fall by half. As Bloomberg first reported, the residential property developer said in an exchange filing Sunday that net profit for 2019 is expected to come in it around 33.5 billion yuan ($4.7 billion), a drop of about 50% from the previous year. “The decrease in profit is mainly attributable to the delivery and settlement of the lower-priced clearance stock properties in 2019, which drove down the unit price of the property delivered,” Evergrande said. That sent the firm’s Hong Kong-traded shares down as much as 17.4% on Monday, the biggest intraday drop since July 2015.

And with the stock tumbling by more than two-thirds since its late 2017 highs, Citigroup downgraded the stock to “sell” and slashed its price target by 56%, as the expected decline in core profit was far below Citigroup’s estimate of a 27% year-on-year drop. To be sure, there are plenty of reasons to dump the stock: Evergrande is one of China’s most-indebted developers with net debt of $88.5 billion as of June. As Bloomberg reminds us, the company has been pouring billions of dollars into acquisitions as its Chairman and major shareholder Hui Ka Yan pursues an ambition to make Evergrande the world’s biggest maker of electric cars in the next three to five years.

Read more …

Ardern sounds a bit too convinced. It’s still just one view.

New Zealand To Go Into Month-Long Lockdown (G.)

New Zealand is preparing to enter a month-long nationwide lockdown from Wednesday night, with the entire country ordered to stay home apart from those in essential services. On Monday the nation was given two days to prepare for schools, businesses and community services to turn off the lights in a desperate bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The move came after the number of cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand rose past 100. In an address to the nation, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said she was not willing to put the lives of her citizens in danger. “The worst-case scenario is simply intolerable, it would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders’ lives in our history and I will not take that chance.”

Ardern announced the country would move to level three measures immediately, and then to four – the highest level – on Wednesday from 11.59pm. “I say to all New Zealanders: the government will do all it can to protect you. Now I’m asking you to do everything you can to protect all of us. Kiwis – go home.” The lockdown will last a month, and if the trend of cases slowed, could be partially eased in specific areas after that. Ardern said it was now established that community transmission was happening in New Zealand and that, if it took off, the number of cases would double every five days, with modelling advising the government that tens of thousands of New Zealanders could die.

[..] Ardern said if the country did not lock down it would face a death toll beyond anything ever experienced before, and she wanted to give health services “a fighting chance”. Thirty-six new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed on Monday, bringing the nationwide total to 102, spread across the North and South islands. Ardern said she knew the measures would be anxiety-inducing for many New Zealanders and they needed to be “strong and kind” to each other during the unprecedented crisis. “Today, get your neighbour’s phone number, set up a community group chat, get your gear to work from home, cancel social gatherings of any size or shape, prepare to walk around the block while keeping a two-metre distance between you.

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Oddly appropriate:

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 212020
 


Alfred Palmer U.S. Marine Corps glider detachment training camp, Parris Island, SC 1943

 

Davos Man Is Richer Than Ever (BBG)
Markets Tumble As Human-to-Human Transmission Coronavirus Confirmed (ZH)
Flynn’s Lawyer: FBI Agents Wrote Flynn Didn’t Lie, We Have Eyewitness (ET)
McConnell Proposes Compressed Schedule For Impeachment Trial (Hill)
How The Senate Trial’s First Day May Proceed (Fox)
White House Appoints GOP House Members To Advise Trump’s Impeachment Team (Hill)
Chief Justice Roberts Under Pressure From Both Sides In Witness Fight (Hill)
Boeing Scrambles to Borrow $10 Bn After $43 Bn in Share-Buybacks (WS)
Putin Sends His Constitutional Proposals to Parliament (ET)
Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition (Eric Mann)
Ukraine, China Knew Hunter Biden Was Chronic Drug Addict, Hired Him Anyway (GP)
Former OPCW Specialist Ian Henderson Speaks At UN (YT)

 

 

I said all I have to say about this in yesterday’s Go Home Greta.

Davos Man Is Richer Than Ever (BBG)

Davos Man is richer than ever. A decade after the financial crisis poured flat champagne on the World Economic Forum, gold-collar executives set to gather there this week have bounced back, and then some. David Rubenstein has doubled his fortune since 2009. Jamie Dimon has more than tripled his net worth. And Stephen Schwarzman has increased his wealth six-fold.It’s a remarkable showing given the economic and political tumult of the past decade, from Lehman Brothers to Brexit to Donald Trump. The fortunes of a dozen 2009 Davos attendees have soared by a combined US$175 billion, even as median U.S. household wealth has stagnated, a Bloomberg analysis found.

The data illustrate the ever-widening gap between the true haves—those in the 0.1 percent—and the have-nots of a global economy. Data from UBS and PwC Billionaires Insights reports show that global billionaire wealth has grown from $3.4 trillion in 2009 to $8.9 trillion in 2017.Central bank actions to fight the financial crisis—record low interest rates and bond-buying programs—have underpinned this ballooning wealth by driving up the prices of stocks and other assets.“Ten years ago, ironically at the lows of the market, what you wanted to own was capital and if you did own capital you did incredibly well,” said Michael Hartnett, Bank of America Corp.’s chief investment strategist. It means Davos Man—the conference remains overwhelmingly male—exerts more authority and visibility than ever.

Dimon is returning to the WEF with JPMorgan Chase & Co. larger and more profitable than ever. Schwarzman—recognizable in his tan winter coat over suit—has built Blackstone Group LP into the world’s largest alternative asset manager with $457 billion of assets as of Sept. 30, 2018, up from $95 billion at the end of 2008. And Davos remains as popular as ever. The forum—titled Globalization 4.0—is expected to host 3,000 people. This year, George Soros is hosting a dinner at which he will speak and Dimon’s JPMorgan is throwing a drinks party. Bill Gates will be present again as will billionaire Carlyle Group co-founder Rubenstein, who hosts a show on Bloomberg Television and whose fortune has doubled over the past decade.

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“There are now sufficient cases that it’s not going to die out by chance..”

Markets Tumble As Human-to-Human Transmission Coronavirus Confirmed (ZH)

Dow futures are down over 100 points, AsiaPac equity markets are down harder, and Treasuries are well bid along with gold after a Chinese officials confirmed the coronavirus can be spread by human-to-human contact, and the deadly disease is spreading to other asian nations. “Now we can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon,” Zhong Nanshan, a scientist who is leading a government-appointed expert panel on the outbreak, said in an interview on state-run television on Monday. As The New York Times reports, cases have been reported outside China.

“The authorities in Thailand detected the new coronavirus last week in two Chinese women who had flown from Wuhan to Bangkok on separate trips. The government said the women, aged 74 and 61, were in good condition. In Japan, a Chinese man who returned from Wuhan on Jan. 6 was also confirmed to have the disease. He was discharged after five days in a hospital. South Korea confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Monday in a 35-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who arrived on Sunday at Incheon International Airport, which serves Seoul. The woman was found with a fever, muscle pain and other symptoms while going through customs and was immediately quarantined for tests, said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The woman was traveling with five other people intending to spend the Lunar New Year holidays in South Korea and Japan, Ms. Jung said. South Korean officials were running tests on anyone believed to have come in contact with the woman in the plane, she said.” And fear of a SARS 2.0 outbreak have sparked risk-off trades in early Asia trading. “There are now sufficient cases that it’s not going to die out by chance,” said Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College London who has studied the new virus.

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Michael Flynn’s destiny was turned on its head in June 2019 when he hired Sidney Powell. Good on him. Still wondering how he got from near bankruptcy to hiring an A-list lawyer.

Flynn’s Lawyer: FBI Agents Wrote Flynn Didn’t Lie, We Have Eyewitness (ET)

Sidney Powell, lawyer of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, said the FBI excluded crucial information from a report on their interview of her client. The report, an FBI 302 form, was used to charge Flynn with lying to the FBI, but the original draft of the 302 stated that Flynn was honest with the FBI, according to a witness who saw the draft, Powell said. Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to one count of lying to FBI agents during a Jan. 24, 2017, interview. A 302 report summarizing the interview was supposed to be filed within five days. But the earliest draft Flynn’s lawyers were provided was from Feb. 10, 2017—more than two weeks after the interview.

Powell, who took over Flynn’s defense in June 2019, has for months asserted that an earlier 302 must exist. Prosecutors have said they don’t have it, stopping short of saying it doesn’t exist. In an Oct. 24, 2019, court filing, Powell rejected the suggestion that the 302 draft was “missing,” saying neither the bureau nor its digital document system “loses the most important of its reports that is supposed to support the federal felony of the President’s National Security Adviser.” On Jan. 16, Powell disclosed that she has a witness who could attest to what was in the original draft. “I’ve now found a witness who says the original 302 did in fact say that Flynn was honest with the agents and did not lie,” she told Larry O’Connor on his WMAL radio show. “So for somebody to delete that from the 302 is just beyond outrageous.”

She didn’t elaborate much further when asked by The Epoch Times. “Can’t say more about witness but yes, person saw it,” she said via email. [..] In June 2019, after Flynn fired his original lawyers and hired a new legal team led by Powell, prosecutors asked Flynn to testify that he signed [his now-defunct consultancy, Flynn Intel Group (FIG)]’s lobbying forms knowing there were lies in them. He refused, saying he only learned there was something wrong with the registration in retrospect. That angered the lead prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, notes from a June 27, 2019, conference call indicate. Powell said that ever since then, the prosecutors’ behavior has been “retaliatory, vindictive, and in bad faith” because Flynn refused to lie.

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Every comma must now be vehemently protested.

McConnell Proposes Compressed Schedule For Impeachment Trial (Hill)

House impeachment managers will have 24 hours over two days to make their opening arguments when they begin to present their case against President Trump to the Senate Wednesday, according to a resolution circulated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). President Trump’s team similarly will have two days to present their arguments and then senators will have a chance to ask questions and consider subpoenas of witnesses. The resolution, as expected, does not require additional witnesses to be subpoenaed and does not allow House prosecutors to admit evidence into the Senate trial record until after the opening arguments are heard.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) quickly pushed back and vowed to force votes on amendments. “Sen. McConnell’s resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace,” Schumer said in a statement Monday afternoon. Both sides will have 24 hours to make their first round of arguments — the same amount of time House impeachment managers and Bill Clinton’s lawyers received in 1999, but on a more compressed time schedule than required more than 20 years ago.

The resolution includes language favored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and other GOP moderates requiring a debate and vote on subpoenaing new witnesses and documents. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who worked with McConnell and Collins to modify the resolution, said it “guarantees a vote on whether we need additional evidence at the appropriate time.” A Senate GOP leadership aide noted that prosecutors in the Clinton trial didn’t use all of their allotted time and finished their opening arguments within three days. Schumer argues that forcing House managers to cram their opening arguments into a two-day window will force them to present on the Senate floor well into the evening and possibly past midnight.

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A handy guide.

How The Senate Trial’s First Day May Proceed (Fox)

Here is how things are expected go down Tuesday in the Senate for President Trump’s impeachment trial. By rule, the trial session begins at 1 p.m. ET. Expect to see Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger reprising his role from last week, bringing order to the Senate. Stenger may appear at other points along the way, too. The first order of business for the Senate will be to swear-in Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. Inhofe wasn’t present last week when all other senators were sworn in. He was attending to a family emergency. Then, there will be some short, administrative activity for documents, et al. Viewers are likely to see two women on the dais, whispering to Chief Justice John Roberts, giving advice and passing messages.

They are Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough and Assistant Parliamentarian Leigh Hildebrand. Once the Senate gets through the basics, it’s time for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to offer his resolution dictating the parameters of the trial. McConnell’s proposal is formally known as a “motion” in Senate parlance. And, by rule, the Senate then has two hours per side to debate the McConnell plan. The Senate will have to eat up all of that two hours, unless there is unanimous consent – meaning all 100 senators agree — to cut things short. The seven House managers and members of Trump’s defense team – not any senators – would debate the proposal. So, barring anything strange, this probably gets us close to 3:30 p.m. ET.

Then, it’s up to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to offer his counter-proposal. The Senate has something known as “the amendment tree.” One could think of the McConnell proposal as the “trunk” of the tree. Schumer’s proposal is a “branch” of the tree. Schumer’s proposal, or proposals – so, sprigs growing off of the Schumer branch of the tree – all would represent possible amendments on which the Senate likely will have to debate and conduct a roll call vote on Tuesday evening. What will Schumer propose? Different time allocations for the trial? Different times when they start or stop the arguments? Proposals on witnesses and documents? By rule, Schumer’s proposal gets two hours of debate as well, with no senators participating in the debate — just the impeachment managers and the president’s counsel.

Timing: If they do this by the book, we probably get 5:30 or 6 p.m. ET, if not later. However, a potential wild card is afoot. Fox News is told to expect a closed Senate session after these two debates, meaning lawmakers essentially would kick everyone out of the chamber: the public, the media, the president’s legal team and the impeachment managers. The only people left: senators, Roberts and essential floor staff. Fox News has no idea how long this could go, but it would happen in the Senate chamber itself, not the Old Senate Chamber.

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“..provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives”

White House Appoints GOP House Members To Advise Trump’s Impeachment Team (Hill)

The White House announced Monday that President Trump appointed several prominent Republican House members to advise his impeachment defense team ahead of the Senate trial set to begin this week. GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), John Ratcliffe Texas), Mike Johnson (La.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Doug Collins are set to play leading roles. A statement from the White House said the lawmakers “have provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives” throughout the House proceedings and would continue to do so in the Senate.

The lawmakers served as some of the president’s strongest allies during the House’s impeachment proceedings, adamantly defending the president’s dealings with Ukraine. Jordan, a firebrand conservative who serves as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a leading member of the House Freedom Caucus, has garnered a reputation for being one of Trump’s most aggressive attack dogs on impeachment.

Ratcliffe, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee and served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas before being elected to Congress, was previously tapped by the president last year to become the director of national intelligence before he withdrew from consideration. His line of questioning during the public hearings was widely praised by his GOP colleagues in the House. Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and confidant to the president, played a key role in pushing back against Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) during the final hearings. And Johnson, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee who also sits on the House Judiciary Committee, practiced constitutional law.

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Roberts may regret this job.

Chief Justice Roberts Under Pressure From Both Sides In Witness Fight (Hill)

Senate Democrats are pressing Chief Justice John Roberts to rule in favor of calling witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial, while Republicans argue it could force his recusal from potential Supreme Court cases. Democrats say it’s simple: A trial can’t be a fair one without witnesses. Republicans counter that if Roberts rules on witnesses, he will have to recuse himself from any Supreme Court case on Trump’s claims of executive privilege over potential witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. “I don’t know how you have a serious trial unless you hear from witnesses who know in fact what the facts are, what happened,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“I think it would be appropriate for the chief justice to do what I think should be done, and that is to allow witnesses to testify,” he added. While Roberts is expected to refer major disputes over trial procedures to the entire Senate for a vote, some Democrats hope he will make his own rulings on what they say are basic questions of fair jurisprudence. Democrats argue that holding a trial but blocking the consideration of relevant witness testimony and document review would fall well short of what’s considered a fair trial in any court of law.

“We’ve been working to get an agreement with Republicans about the relevant witnesses for the trial and relevant documents and we’re continuing that effort,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “Those types of questions will have to be considered as the trial proceeds.” Senators who want Roberts to intervene have pointed to the precedent set by then-Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. Chase broke two ties on procedural deadlocks, including a vote on whether he could break ties.

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All you need to know: “..its total liabilities ($136 billion) exceed its total assets ($132 billion)..”

Boeing Scrambles to Borrow $10 Bn After $43 Bn in Share-Buybacks (WS)

The first thing to know about Boeing’s mad scramble to line up “$10 billion or more” in new funding via a loan from a consortium of banks, on top of the $9.5 billion credit-line it obtained in October last year – efforts to somehow get through its cash-flow nightmare caused by the 737 MAX fiasco – is that the company blew, wasted, and incinerated $43.4 billion to buy back its own shares since June 2013, having become a master of financial engineering instead of aircraft engineering. If Boeing had focused on its business – such as designing a new plane instead of doctoring an ancient design to save money and time – and if it hadn’t blown $43 billion on share-buybacks but had invested this money in a new design, those two crashes wouldn’t have occurred, and it wouldn’t have to beg for cash now.


The chart below shows the cumulative share-buybacks in billions of dollars since Q1 2009. In Q2 2019, it belatedly halted the share buybacks. As is always the case with share buybacks, the idea is to buy high in order to drive shares even higher. This is what you learn on the first day of Financial Engineering 101. So Boeing stopped buying back its shares in Q1 2009 when its shares had plunged into the $35-range, at which point they were a good deal, and then recommenced share-buybacks in Q2 2013 when its shares had already risen to the $100-range.

The second thing to know about Boeing’s mad scramble to borrow another $10 billion is that it already has a huge amount of debt and other liabilities, and that its total liabilities ($136 billion) exceed its total assets ($132 billion) by about $4 billion as of September 2019, meaning that it has negative net equity, that the share buybacks have destroyed its equity, which is what share buybacks do to the balance sheet. It also means that every dime in “cash” and “cash equivalent” listed on the balance sheet is borrowed. And this is about to get a whole lot worse. In October 2019, Boeing had already obtained a new credit line of $9.5 billion, which about doubled the size of its existing credit line. Credit lines serve as liquidity backup. And now Boeing is scrambling to pile “$10 billion or more” in new loans on top of it.

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Note: Putin will be President until 2024.

Putin Sends His Constitutional Proposals to Parliament (ET)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday submitted to parliament a package of constitutional amendments widely seen as an attempt to secure his grip on power well after his current term ends in 2024. Putin first presented the proposed changes in his state-of-the-nation address Wednesday, arguing they are intended to bolster the role of parliament and strengthen democracy. Kremlin critics have argued that they are intended to allow his rule for life. The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, received a draft bill on constitutional proposals from the Kremlin and quickly scheduled the first of three required readings for Thursday.


Putin, 67, has been in power for more than 20 years, longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin, who led from 1924 until his death in 1953. Under the law now in force, Putin must step down as president when his current term ends. Putin proposed that the constitution must specify the authority of the State Council, an advisory body that consists of regional governors and top federal officials. The Kremlin’s constitutional bill submitted to parliament empowers the Council to “determine the main directions of home and foreign policy,” its specific authority yet to be spelled in a separate law. Observers say that the proposed changes could allow Putin to stay in charge by shifting into the position of the Council’s head.

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Mann: “..in 1964 I was a field secretary with the Congress of Racial Equality”. Long piece.

Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition (Eric Mann)

Every year, until The Revolution comes again, the counter-revolution manipulates the historic birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, that so many people fought for, as their symbol of Black “integration” into imperialism and “non-violent” acquiescence to, at best, Barack Obama’s cynical negation of his dream. As Donald Trump has just assassinated Iranian General Quassem Soleimani—with Democratic Party token opposition at best and acquiescence at worse, Dr. King reminds us that “the United States, my government, is the greatest purveyor violence in the world.”

As Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren squabble for position and too often, reduce the meaning of life to a barren economic populism, Dr. King reminds us that U.S. society is a moral disgrace and we need a revolutionary movement to challenge its “racism, militarism, poverty, and materialism.” His thoughts offer Democrats and the Movement a challenge. There is an urgent need for a revolutionary worldview to challenge the racism and reaction of Donald Trump’s Make America Great fascist appeal. Meanwhile, on the ground, Black and Latino communities and the world are suffering the worst political, economic, and ecological catastrophe with little help in sight. In this context the most engaged and introspective study of Dr. King’s theory and practice is an urgent corrective than can offer hope and inspiration.

“Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

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To blackmail Joe?!

Ukraine, China Knew Hunter Biden Was Chronic Drug Addict, Hired Him Anyway (GP)

Hunter Biden’s first arrest may have been when he was 18. Hunter was arrested on Jersey Shore related to drug charges in 1988 and had his record expunged. Many years later and after several stops into drug treatment facilities Hunter joined his father the Vice President on a trip to China in 2013 where Hunter — inexperienced and out of place — was able to secure a $1.5 billion from China for private equity fund which he was forming at the time. A year later in early 2014 Hunter was discharged from the Navy for testing positive for cocaine. Then in April 2014, just a couple months later, Hunter Biden Hunter joined the Board of Burisma Holdings in the Ukraine. Hunter served on the Board until early 2019. Hunter was paid approximately $50,000 a month in his position.

The largest oil and gas company in the Ukraine hired a chronic drug addict only a few months after the addict was removed from the US Navy for doing cocaine. In 2016 Hunter Biden returned a rental car with a crack pipe with cocaine residue and a small amount of a white, powdery substance. Hunter was never charged with a crime. In 2018 the IRS placed a tax lien on Hunter Biden seeking $112,805 in unpaid taxes from 2015. And according to Page Six, Hunter Biden allegedly spent time at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in New York City in 2018. Hunter allegedly ordered pricey booze, was joined by several strippers in a private room while he did drugs and had strippers run to find him a dildo. These are just a few of the allegations against Hunter Biden. After years of drug abuse there are likely many more episodes not yet public.

Any foreign intelligence service worth their salt would have known Hunter Biden was a chronic drug addict. China and the Ukraine, and likely others, hired Hunter Biden anyway. [..] How many times was Joe Biden warned of his dangerous actions related to his drug addicted son? Will the liberal media ever investigate this? Do Americans really believe that this man and his son should be President? Joe and Hunter Biden would destroy the American dream if Joe was elected President. They would blow it away!

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The text here is a Twitter thread from Philip Watson.

Former OPCW Specialist Ian Henderson Speaks At UN (YT)

The damning words of Ian Henderson at tonight’s OPCW United Nations Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting called for by the #Russia-n Federation into the #Douma affair. All words that follow are direct quotes from Mr Henderson.

“I need to point out from the outset, I am not a whistleblower. I don’t like that term. I am a former OPCW specialist who has concerns in many areas and I consider this a legitimate and appropriate forum to explain again these concerns.” “Secondly, I must point out that I hold the OPCW in the highest regard. As well as the professionalism of the staff members who work there. ” “However the concern I have does relate to some specific management practices in certain sensitive missions. The concern, of course, relates to the FFM investigation into the alleged chemical attack on the 7th April in Douma in Syria.”

“My concern, which is shared by a number of other inspectors, relates to the subsequent management lock-down and the practices in the later analysis and compilation of the final report. ” “There were 2 teams deployed, 1 team which I joined shortly after the start of field deployments was to #Douma in Syria, the other team deployed to Country X. ” The main concern relates to the announcement in July/18, of a new concept, the so-called FFM Core Team which essentially resulted in the dismissal of all the inspectors who’d been on the team deployed to locations in Douma and had been following up with their findings & analysis. “The findings of the final FFM report were contradictory, were a complete turn-around, with what the team had understood collectively. ”

“During and after the Douma deployments and by the time of release of the interim report in July 2018 our understanding was that we had serious misgivings that a chemical attack had occurred. ” “What the final FFM report does not make clear and thus does not reflect the views of the team members who deployed to Douma. (In which case I can really only speak for myself at this stage)” “The report did not make clear what new findings, facts, information, data or analysis in the fields of witness testimony, toxicology studies, chemical analysis, engineering and or ballistics studies…” “..had resulted in a complete turn-around in the situation from what was understood by the majority of the team and the entire Douma team in July 2018.”

“In my case I had followed with a further 6 months of engineering and ballistics studies into the cylinders. The results of which had provided further support for the view there had not been a chemical attack.” “This needs to be properly resolved, we believe (Douma FFM Team), through the rigours of science and engineering. In my situation it is not a political debate. I’m very aware that there is a political debate surrounding this.” “Perhaps a closing comment from my side, is that I was also the inspection team leader who developed and launched the inspections, the highly intrusive inspections, of the Barzah SSRC facility outside of Damascus.” “And I did the inspections and wrote the reports for the 2 inspections prior to and the inspection after the chemical facility, or the laboratory complex at Barzah SSRC, had been destroyed by the missile strike. That however is another story altogether.”

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Jan 152020
 
 January 15, 2020  Posted by at 10:39 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Magazine and cannonballs at Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, defending Washington during the Civil War 1863

 

At The Iowa Debate, Bernie Sanders’s Most Vociferous Opponent Was CNN (IC)
McConnell: Senate Impeachment Trial To Start Next Tuesday (Hill)
GOP: There Aren’t 51 Votes To Dismiss Trump Articles Of Impeachment (Hill)
McConnell Opens Door For Hunter Biden Testimony At Trump Trial (Hill)
Michael Flynn Seeks To Withdraw Guilty Plea (G.)
Five Biggest US Stocks Are Dwarfing The Rest Of The Stock Market (CNBC)
Non-Commitment Probe Into Iran By France, Germany & UK ‘Groundless’ – Russia (RT)
Australia PM Backs Coal After BlackRock Quits (AFR)
‘Orwellian’ China Silencing Dissent At Home And Abroad – HRW Chief (G.)
Former Boeing Quality Manager: Fly Something Else (Big Think)
Boeing Sees Lowest Orders In Decades (BBC)
Malaysia Airlines Suspends Boeing 737 MAX Deliveries Due To Grounding (R.)

 

 

It’s just entertainment by now, and a poor sort at that. CNN ratings are plummeting, so they seek out controversy. And if smearing Trump doesn’t work, there’s Bernie.

At The Iowa Debate, Bernie Sanders’s Most Vociferous Opponent Was CNN (IC)

Ahead of the August 2015 Fox News debate, the company’s chair, Rupert Murdoch, issued a directive to debate moderator Megyn Kelly: The Donald Trump thing has gone on long enough, it’s time to take him down. Kelly took a bat to candidate Trump, listing off his most misogynistic remarks, asking how he could explain them to voters. But Trump ended up winning that war. Democrats assembled in Iowa Tuesday night for the opportunity to take him on in the upcoming general election. This time, though, it was CNN moderators who brought out the bat and swung it hard at Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Vermont independent had topped the important Iowa poll last week, compounding fears that have only recently emerged among the party establishment that he may be on course for the nomination.

In contrast to Sanders’s treatment, former Vice President Joe Biden, the national front-runner, was barely touched — either by moderators or his rivals. CNN moderator Abby Phillip opened a line of questioning on the recent feud between Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “CNN reported yesterday, and, Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren confirmed in a statement that in 2018 you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?” The moderator’s use of Warren to confirm a version of the story that originally came from Warren’s account of the meeting at the time signaled which side CNN was taking in the he-said/she-said, but it was confirmed by the framing of the question — “Why did you say that?” — rather than asking whether he said it.

Sanders denied the accusation, noting that he had been ready to stand aside for Warren to run in 2016, though she declined to. Phillip pressed to be clear he was denying the charge, then pivoted to Warren, and waved away his denial with such force — “Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” — that Sanders and the audience laughed. After the debate, the candidates shook hands — all except Warren and Sanders. Warren pulled her hand back and the two had a tense exchange that couldn’t be heard as the mics had been cut off, but left both walking tersely off, Sanders turning his back on Warren.

The debate opened with a long discussion of war in Iran and Iraq, which included no mention of the costs of occupation.Yet CNN moderators did eventually ask Sanders how he would pay for Medicare for All, among other plans. Host Wolf Blitzer asked why the government should do anything to lower drug prices when nobody trusts the government. Philip later asked Sanders how he would keep his plans “from bankrupting the country?”

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Politicians can’t resist the circus at this time of year.

McConnell: Senate Impeachment Trial To Start Next Tuesday (Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the Senate will begin debating an organizing resolution to start the Senate trial on Tuesday of next week. The GOP leader said Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in senators as jurors this week, before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. “NEW: Sen. Mitch McConnell says “the House is likely to finally send the articles over to us tomorrow,” allowing Senate to take steps “which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday.” — ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 14, 2020.


McConnell said the House is expected to send over articles of impeachment on Wednesday and the Senate will then have to go through a series of preliminary steps and housekeeping measures. “We hope to achieve that by consent, which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday,” the GOP leader added. McConnell clarifying that a debate and vote on the organizing resolution, which will set up time for the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team to make their opening arguments, as well as time for senators to ask questions, will happen next week. Then the Senate will notify the president’s defense team to appear for the Senate and give the White House several days to respond.

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There are Republicans who think Trump should shine in the circus.

GOP: There Aren’t 51 Votes To Dismiss Trump Articles Of Impeachment (Hill)

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters on Monday that the Senate Republican caucus doesn’t have the votes to dismiss the articles of impeachment against President Trump, who endorsed an “outright dismissal” over the weekend. “I think our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss. … Certainly there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss,” Blunt, the No. 4 Senate Republican, told reporters after a closed-door leadership meeting. Republicans have warned for months that they will not dismiss the two articles of impeachment against Trump, predicting a trial will end with votes on either acquitting or convicting him. But Trump revived talk of trying to dismiss the articles over the weekend, saying the Senate was “giving credence” to the allegations against him by having a trial.


“Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, ‘no pressure’ Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!” Trump tweeted on Sunday. Dismissing the articles of impeachment would require 51 votes. Because no Democrats would support the effort, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could afford to lose only two GOP senators and still successfully dismiss the articles. Multiple Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rob Portman (Ohio), have indicated they would oppose a motion to dismiss, arguing that both Trump’s legal team and House impeachment managers should be able to make their case.

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Is the fight over witnesses going to take longer than the actual trial?

McConnell Opens Door For Hunter Biden Testimony At Trump Trial (Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says Republicans could subpoena Hunter Biden to testify about his business dealings with a Ukrainian gas company if Democrats insist on having witnesses such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify at the Senate impeachment trial. “We’ll be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial and I think it’s certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses they wanted to hear from,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday when asked about GOP senators who want Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, to testify. “When you get to that issue, I can’t imagine that only the witnesses that our Democratic colleagues would want to call would be called,” he said.


The GOP leader also noted “there is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss” the articles of impeachment immediately, adding, “our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.” McConnell confirmed that all 53 Republican senators support passing an organizing resolution at the start of President Trump’s trial that would set up time for the House prosecutors and the president’s defense team to lay out their opening arguments and for senators to submit questions to the chair in writing. Votes on subpoenaing witnesses such as Bolton or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will be considered after what McConnell calls “phase one of the trial.”

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When prosecutors say Flynn grew “antagonistic”, what they mean is he hired Sidney Powell. Who’s not going to stop at getting him exonerated. She’ll demand a huge amount in damages.

Michael Flynn Seeks To Withdraw Guilty Plea (G.)

Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to Donald Trump who was due to be sentenced for lying to federal investigators, is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement”, his lawyers said in a court document filed Tuesday. Flynn was the first senior White House official to cut a deal in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference. After pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition between Barack Obama and Trump, he went on to provide extensive information to federal prosecutors in exchange for leniency.

But in recent months, he grew less cooperative and suggested he hadn’t committed any crimes, leading prosecutors to recommend that he should be sentenced to up to six months in prison. “Far from accepting the consequences of his unlawful actions, he has sought to blame almost every other person and entity involved in his case, including his former counsel,” prosecutors wrote in a document filed last week. It appears Flynn and his legal team have doubled down, saying that the federal government breached the plea agreement with Flynn. They allege that prosecutors asked him to lie in another investigation, into his former business partner, Bijan Rafiekian. Rafiekian was convicted for illegally lobbying to have a Turkish exile returned from the US, but a federal judge threw out the conviction, citing a lack of sufficient evidence.

In the court filing, Flynn’s lawyers said the justice department was attempting to “rewrite history” by suggesting he had not been forthcoming and should receive prison time. “Mr Flynn has cooperated with the government in good faith for two years. He gave the prosecution his full cooperation,” Flynn’s legal team wrote. “He endured massive, unnecessary, and frankly counterproductive demands on his time, his family, his scarce resources, and his life.” As part of his plea deal, Flynn admitted he had lied to the FBI about discussing US sanctions on Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the time. Flynn also said he lied about conversations with Kislyak discussing a UN security council resolution condemning Israel.

[..] Federal prosecutors had initially said Flynn was entitled to avoid jail time, before reversing course after Flynn grew antagonistic. In June, Flynn fired his longtime attorneys and replaced them with a new team that included the former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell, a fierce critic of the Mueller investigation.

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It’s much easier for the Fed and the Treasury to create a false picture of a strong economy when they help build huge monopolies.

Five Biggest US Stocks Are Dwarfing The Rest Of The Stock Market (CNBC)

It’s no secret that a handful of tech giants have been dominating the stock market, but their leadership has reached a level that is raising eyebrows on Wall Street as being unsustainable. The top five U.S. companies — Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook — now make up 18% of the total market capitalization of the S&P 500, the highest percentage in history, according to Morgan Stanley. “A ratio like this is unprecedented, including during the tech bubble,” Mike Wilson, the bank’s head of U.S. equity strategy, said in a note Sunday. “Capital concentration is following corporate inequality like never before.”

These mega tech firms have been the front-runners in this record-long bull market as investors bet on superior growth and dominant market share in their respective industries. They were the biggest contributors to the market’s historic gains last year and the trend shows no signs of stopping in 2020. However, multiple Wall Street strategists are sounding alarms on the increasing dominance of Big Tech, warning of a potential pullback in the stocks ahead. Apple’s weighting in the S&P 500 surpassed 4% in October, the sixth time the iPhone maker has crossed that threshold. But if history is any guide, it could be a ominous sign for the stock, according to Leuthold Group analyst Phil Segner.


He noted during the previous five times when Apple topped the 4% threshold, the stock underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 9% on average in the next 12 months. “With history as a guide, its most recent climb into the 4% Club looks like another selling opportunity,” Segner said in a note. Going back to 1990, only five stocks — Apple, Microsoft, Generic Electric, Cisco Systems and Exxon Mobil — have claimed more than 4% of the S&P 500, and their leader status has typically been short-lived, Segner noted. General Electric stayed the longest — 15 months — above the threshold, while Cisco only lasted a month, he said.

Apple and Microsoft, which surged 86% and 55% in 2019, respectively, together accounted for nearly 15% of the S&P 5002 s advance last year. No other stock even came close to their contribution. The megacap stocks are leading the market again in the new year. In fact, the 50 largest stocks in the S&P 500 are up the most this year with an average gain of 1.22%, according to Bespoke Investment Group. “The larger, the better so far in 2020,” Paul Hickey, Bespoke’s co-founder, said in a note Friday. “Market cap has seemingly been the most important factor in terms of performance so far this year.”

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Lap dogs.

Non-Commitment Probe Into Iran By France, Germany & UK ‘Groundless’ – Russia (RT)

The European trio’s accusation that Iran violates the key restrictions of the nuclear deal are unjustified, the Russian Foreign Ministry said urging the countries not to increase tensions that could endanger the pact. Paris, Berlin and London officially reported Iran’s non-compliance with the 2015 agreement to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism. This step could potentially lead to the UN Security Council being forced to decide on whether or not to bring back sanctions against Tehran. “We can’t rule out that the ill-considered actions of the European trio will lead to a new escalation around the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and make the return to the implementation of the ‘nuclear deal’ in its initially agreed format unachievable,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


Iran rolled back on its uranium enrichment constraints detailed in the international agreement earlier this month after one of its top military commanders, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in an American drone strike in Iraq. Tehran’s decision to put its commitments on hold was a response to the actions of the US, which unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and reintroduced restrictions against Iran, the ministry reminded. However, the country keeps allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors to its nuclear sites – and “the transparency of the Iranian nuclear program has been one of the key clauses of the nuclear deal.”

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His days are counted.

Australia PM Backs Coal After BlackRock Quits (AFR)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected criticism of Australia’s $70 billion coal export industry and its links to global warming after the world’s largest fund manager announced it was quitting thermal coal. BlackRock is dumping more than half a billion dollars in thermal coal shares from all of its actively managed portfolios, as part of a more active global stance on climate change driven by chief executive Larry Fink. Asked about BlackRock’s announced withdrawal from thermal coal, Mr Morrison said the resources industry was “incredibly important to Australia” and that coal exports were worth about $70 billion a year. “This is important to so many communities across the country,” the Prime Minister said on Wednesday.


“Our government’s plan is to meet and beat our emissions reduction targets … without putting higher taxes on people and without putting up electricity prices and not pulling the rug from regional communities.” Mr Morrison famously showed off a lump of black coal during Parliament’s question time in 2017. Thermal coal, which is burnt to generate electricity, accounted for $26 billion in export income last financial year. This was a relatively small share of Australia’s total resource and energy export earnings forecast of $281 billion for 2019-20. Metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, delivered $44 billion in export revenue.

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China’s Catch 22: it has to open up if it wants to expand its economical role, but Xi doesn’t want the potential risk to his power.

“In principle, we support the rights and work of human rights defenders around the world.”. Yeah, just not in China.

‘Orwellian’ China Silencing Dissent At Home And Abroad – HRW Chief (G.)

The head of Human Rights Watch has accused the Chinese government of not only constructing “an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state” at home but using its growing economic clout to silence critics abroad. Kenneth Roth said on Tuesday that China was carrying out “the most intense attack on the global system for enforcing human rights since that system began to emerge in the mid-20th century”. He warned that if human rights weren’t defended, the world could face “a dystopian future in which no one is beyond the reach of Chinese censors”, with a global rights system so weakened that it can no longer serve as a check on government repression.

Roth was speaking at the UN Correspondents Association in New York after being denied entry to Hong Kong, where he had been scheduled to release the rights group’s annual report. It begins with his keynote essay entitled China’s Global Threat to Human Rights. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said on Monday that: “It is China’s sovereignty to allow one’s entry or not.” He indicated that Human Rights Watch is among organisations that support and instigate “anti-China activists … to engage in radical violent crimes, and incite separatist activities hyping Hong Kong independence.” “These organisations deserve sanctions and must pay a price,” he said.


UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, asked on Tuesday about Roth’s denial of entry to Hong Kong, said: “In principle, we support the rights and work of human rights defenders around the world.” Chinese diplomat Xing Jisheng, who attended the UN press launch, spoke at the end and said the was report “very prejudicial”, saying it has “fabrications” and telling journalists “we completely reject the content”. In the essay, Roth said the Chinese Communist Party is “worried that permitting political freedom would jeopardise its grasp on power” and “is running scared of its own people”. “The consequence under President Xi Jinping is China’s most pervasive and brutal oppression in decades,” he said.

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Not at all surprising, but first time I see this confirmed: a new leadership team who had previously worked on Boeing’s military projects began overseeing work on the commercial airliner.

Former Boeing Quality Manager: Fly Something Else (Big Think)

Slipping through the cracks of the Boeing controversy – which has taken on new twists and turns almost daily – were comments we recently uncovered by a former Boeing quality manager, who said last month that he thinks Boeing’s problems aren’t just limited to the 737. John Barnett was a quality manager for Boeing for 30 years before he was transferred to South Carolina to work on the 787, according to Big Think. It was there that a new leadership team who had previously worked on Boeing’s military projects began overseeing work on the commercial airliner. Barnett says that team lowered safety standards significantly. He stated: “They started pressuring us to not document defects, to work outside the procedures, to allow defective material to be installed without being corrected.

“They started bypassing procedures and not maintaining configurement control of airplanes, not maintaining control of non-conforming parts — they just wanted to get the planes pushed out the door and make the cash register ring.” At first, it was just administrative issues, Barnett said. But then, it got worse. “Over time it got worse and worse. They began to ignore defective parts installed on the planes and basic issues related to aircraft safety,” he said. According to Barnett, one audit uncovered that 25% of oxygen masks didn’t work. Defective parts were getting lost in the system before being discovered flying on aircraft. Barnett says he remembered “several defective bulkheads being installed without having been repaired.”


He also said that there was an issue with metal slivers. 3-inch-long slivers of razor-sharp metal would fall into areas where planes have sensitive wiring and electronics, he said. He continued: “That surface below the floor board is where all of your flight control wires are, that’s where all of your electronic equipment is. It controls systems on the airplane, it controls the power of the airplane. All of your electronic equipment is down where all of these metal slivers are falling.” He said these slivers would cause shorts and fires at the plant. As planes vibrate, these metal slivers work their way into wire bundles and can cause issues during flights, he said. Barnett filed complaints with multiple members of the Boeing team, which he said led to his reassignment to a department that isolated him.

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The military division will have to make up the losses.

Delta is surging because it doesn’t fly any 737MAX.

Boeing Sees Lowest Orders In Decades (BBC)

Boeing has reported its worst annual orders in at least two decades – as it remains in crisis over its 737 Max model. The company also said deliveries of its planes slumped to an 11-year low last year. It means the US firm has lost its title as the world’s biggest plane maker to European rival Airbus. The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two crashes in which 346 people were killed. Boeing said net orders after cancellations for 2019 totalled just 54 planes. That compares with 893 the previous year. At the same time deliveries fell by 53% to 380 planes, the lowest number since 2007. The company last month halted production of what had been its best-selling commercial airliner.


The grounding of the 737 Max means it is impossible for the firm to deliver the planes to customers. In comparison, Boeing’s main rival Airbus said earlier this month that it delivered a record 863 planes in 2019 and racked up a net 768 orders after cancellations. A bright spot for the Chicago-based plane maker was a record number of deliveries of 787 Dreamliners in the last three months of 2019. The company delivered 45 of the wide-body passenger jets, which first went into service in 2011. Boeing’s new chief executive David Calhoun took the helm of the manufacturer on Monday. Mr Calhoun said he is “confident in the future” of the firm, telling staff his “primary focus” will be returning the 737 Max to the skies.

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Plus Virgin Australia, Norwegian Air, Jet Airways, keep ’em coming.

Malaysia Airlines Suspends Boeing 737 MAX Deliveries Due To Grounding (R.)

Malaysia Airlines said on Wednesday it had suspended deliveries of 25 Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing the plane’s delayed return to service since it was grounded last year following two fatal crashes. The decision represents another setback for Boeing, which on Tuesday reported its worst annual net orders in decades, along with its lowest number of plane deliveries in 11 years, as the grounding of the 737 MAX saw it fall far behind main competitor Airbus. “In view of the production stoppage and the delayed return to service of the 737-MAX, Malaysia Airlines has suspended the delivery of its orders,” the airline said in an email, without saying when it wanted the deliveries to resume.

“As there is no clarity yet from various authorities on its return to service, our technical due diligence is still ongoing,” Malaysia Airlines said. The airline said it had previously planned to have five 737 MAX jets delivered this year, the first in July. Last year, its chief executive had said it was possible the craft’s introduction to service could slide beyond July. Boeing said it was sorry for the disruption the 737 MAX situation had caused Malaysia Airlines. “We are working to support them and all of our customers in every way possible to ensure complete confidence in the 737 MAX and a safe return to commercial flight,” Boeing said in a statement.


Analysts said cash-strapped carriers like Malaysia Airlines that over-ordered planes could take advantage of the 737 MAX grounding to negotiate with Boeing to restructure their orders. Virgin Australia said last year it would delay taking the first deliveries of 737 MAX jets for nearly two years to reduce capital spending. Norwegian Air said last year its Dublin-based leasing subsidiary had reached an agreement with Boeing to postpone delivery of 14 737 MAX planes that were originally due in 2020 and 2021. Boeing on Tuesday reported a net negative of 183 orders for the 737 MAX in 2019 including cancellations, but many were associated with the collapse of a major customer, India’s Jet Airways.

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Include the Automatic Earth in your 2020 charity list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 072020
 


Jack Delano Worker inspecting locomotive, Proviso Yard 1942

 

China Pledges ‘Prudence’ In Diversifying Foreign Exchange Reserves (SCMP)
Experts Urge Fed To Consider Radical Approaches To Fight Next Recession (MW)
Iran ‘Not Interested’ In Having Nukes – UN Envoy (RT)
McConnell Urges Lawmakers To Wait For Facts On Soleimani Killing (R.)
McConnell Has The Votes To Block Democrats’ Impeachment Witness Demands (Hill)
A Very Real Scenario Of A Protracted, Bizarro World Democratic Primary (Pol.)
China Must Cancel New Coal Plants To Achieve Climate Goals (R.)
American Airlines Reaches Secret Settlement With Boeing Over 737 MAX (R.)
Chelsea Clinton Reaps $9 Million From Corporate Board Position (Hill)
Australia To Kill Thousands Of Camels As They Drink Too Much Water (Hill)
Australian Owners Say Cultural Burning Saved Their Property (Age)
New Neural Activity Suggests Our Brains Even More Powerful Than We Think (RT)

 

 

Read between the lines. China suffers from capital flight. It can’t keep the dollars at home. But sure, it’s tempting to call this diversifying.

China Pledges ‘Prudence’ In Diversifying Foreign Exchange Reserves (SCMP)

China will “steadily and prudently” diversify its US$3.1 trillion foreign exchange reserve holdings, the government agency managing the assets pledged in its 2020 work plan, suggesting a subtle policy change in the way Beijing uses its hard currency holdings. The careful approach would “promote the diversified use … and ensure the safety, flow, and preservation and appreciation of foreign exchange reserve assets,” China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement published on Sunday, which summarised the results of its annual work conference last week. It is the first time that SAFE, headed by Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, has called for “prudence” in diversifying China’s reserve assets in its annual work conference statement.

The regulator also vowed to improve its management of reserves “with Chinese characteristics”, although it did not explain what that meant. SAFE added it would prevent risks caused by external shocks endangering “national economic and financial security” in 2020. China’s diversification strategy for its foreign exchange reserves – which generally indicates a reduction in holdings of US government bonds for other riskier assets – has gained speed in the past decade after the creation of a separate sovereign wealth fund in 2007. SAFE has created a special office of lending dollars to institutions like the China Development Bank to finance overseas projects and launched a number of overseas offices for investment.

In its 2018 annual report, SAFE revealed for the first time the share of US dollar denominated assets in its reserves portfolio for the period 2005 to 2014. Dollar assets accounted for 58 per cent of China’s total reserves by 2014 – the most recent data provided – down from 79 per cent in 2005, the report showed. By international standards, the share of US dollar assets in China’s reserves in 2014 was below average. The latest data from the International Monetary Fund showed that 61.8 per cent of the world’s reserves assets were denominated in US dollars at the end of the third quarter last year.

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Ha ha! Larry Summers as the expert.

Experts Urge Fed To Consider Radical Approaches To Fight Next Recession (MW)

Two monetary-policy experts, contradicting former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, said they wanted the central bank to consider new “radical” approaches to fight the next recession, out of a concern that existing tools might not be as effective as they were in the last crisis. In a Sunday morning panel at the American Economic Association annual meeting, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the Fed’s QE program, in which the central bank would buy government bonds to bring down long-term rates, might not pack so much punch because the 10-year Treasury note is already close to 1%. “I’m less optimistic about the incremental efficacy of QE,” Summers said.

“I don’t think pushing 10-year rates down from 100 basis points to 50 basis points or 20 basis points has [a] significant incremental effect.” In a speech to the AEA on Saturday night, former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said he thought the Fed had to the tools, including QE, to successfully combat a severe downturn. Bernanke said he thought QE, and verbal guidance from the Fed, would be equivalent to a 300-basis-point easing of the central bank’s benchmark federal funds rate. Adam Posen, a former policy maker at the Bank of England, urged the Fed to consider “radical” approaches, including a new tool called “yield-curve control” to fight the next downturn.

The Bank of Japan has already been using yield-curve control since 2016 to fight deflation. “The BOJ has gotten it right. Yield-curve control is a success story,” Posen said. Under this policy, last used in the U.S. during World War II, the Fed would announce it intended to peg the 10-year Treasury rate at a specific low rate. Low rates would help spur activity. And with the Fed guaranteeing low rates, Congress could boost government spending. “It enables fiscal policy, it doesn’t judge it,” Posen said. It was used during World War II precisely because the government needed to boost fiscal spending.

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A consistent point of view. The west makes sure nobody here believes it, but Iran has said the same thing for many years. It’s a religious issue. And just because we warp Christian values to allow for the inclusion of nukes, doesn’t mean they should do the same with the Islam.

Iran ‘Not Interested’ In Having Nukes – UN Envoy (RT)

Prohibited by the supreme leader’s decree, nuclear weapons are inconsistent with Iran’s defensive doctrine, the country’s UN envoy said after Tehran announced the suspension of limits under the 2015 deal. Iran’s decision to lift restrictions on uranium enrichment – after a US drone strike killed General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport – made headlines in Western media, with some speculating that the Islamic Republic could be seeking nuclear weapons. However, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, reassured the public that this is not the case – even though the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is now in jeopardy.


There is “no place for nuclear weapons in Iran’s defensive doctrine,” he told PBS Newshour, adding that the country is also abiding by the Non-Proliferation Treaty – a 1968 pact that aims for nuclear disarmament and sets standards for arms control. We are not interested in having a nuclear weapon, because we have a very clear, clear-cut religious edict by our supreme leader prohibiting nuclear weapons. Tehran has meticulously followed the provisions of the nuclear deal even, though it has received “almost nothing in return,” Takht-Ravanchi said. And while the European parties to the JCPOA (from which Tehran expected to receive benefits) “didn’t act in accordance with the deal,” Iran has chosen not to abandon it completely. “If Iran is given the benefits of the deal, we will go back to the full implementation of it,” the ambassador stated.

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That’s not how social media work these days, Mitch. Everyone needs to form an opinion within seconds.

McConnell Urges Lawmakers To Wait For Facts On Soleimani Killing (R.)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday U.S. lawmakers should wait for the facts before criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to kill top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last week. “We can and we should learn more about the intelligence and thinking that led to this operation and the plan to defend American personnel and interests in the wake of it,” McConnell said at the U.S. Capitol after lawmakers returned from winter break. “Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts. Rushed to split hairs about intelligence before being briefed on it.”

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So that’s that?!

McConnell Has The Votes To Block Democrats’ Impeachment Witness Demands (Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has the votes to quash Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer’s (N.Y.) demands to require additional witnesses testify at the start of President Trump’s impeachment trial. Two key moderate senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), on Monday evening backed McConnell’s position that the Senate should follow the precedent of the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial and defer until later in the process the question of calling additional witnesses. Collins told reporters at Monday evening votes that the Senate should follow the 1999 precedent and consider the question of subpoenaing additional witnesses and documents only after House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team present their opening arguments.


She noted in a statement Monday that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) adopted a resolution in 1999 to set out the rules for the proceeding that didn’t include any agreement for specific witnesses to testify. “The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process — the Clinton approach — worked well,” she said. Murkowski also urged colleagues to follow the path laid out during the Clinton trial. “I think we need to do what they did the last time they did this unfortunate process and that was to go through a first phase and then they reassessed after that,” she told reporters.

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A whole new game. Maybe Bloomberg still has a shot. But really, the time between Super Tuesday and the elections should be used to form a united front. Not going to happen. Trump is the only thing that keeps the Dems together.

A Very Real Scenario Of A Protracted, Bizarro World Democratic Primary (Pol.)

Democrats are now beginning to confront a very real scenario where the nomination — and the winnowing — will not be decided in states where campaigns have been plowing ground for more than a year, but in places and calendar dates so deep into primary season that until recently they’ve received almost no attention at all. The Iowa field is bunched together with little daylight between a handful of well-funded candidates. Each of the four early voting states continues to present the prospect of a different winner. And, at the end of that gauntlet on Super Tuesday, a free-spending billionaire — Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor — is waiting to challenge whichever candidate or candidates emerge.

It’s a unique set of circumstances that has the campaigns — and party officials — scrambling to make sense of the reconfigured landscape. Looking at the possibility of a still-contested nomination even after Super Tuesday’s massive delegate allocation on March 3, Washington state Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski said mid-March will “probably matter more than ever before.” One strategist working with a presidential candidate said, “We’ve never had a situation where we get past Super Tuesday and there’s still five people in the field,” predicting that possibility this year. “We’re in bizarro world here,” the strategist said.

[..] “Super Tuesday is typically a wild scramble, and anybody who’s still surviving is usually limping a little bit in terms of money. They’re spread thin in terms of where to go,” said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist. “Campaigns can’t pay to have simultaneous overhead in all of the early states and all of the next round of states with quality people. So they put all of their best people in early states and then cut and paste them into the next states.” For later states, said Matt Bennett, a veteran of the 2004 presidential campaign and a co-founder of the center-left group Third Way, “The strategy is wait and pray. There is no other strategy … I just think you basically ignore it, and then they’ll frantically run around in those states for a week.”

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Look at per capita emissions. In the end that’s all that counts. Now imagine Europe, China and the US at the same levels as India. That’s our future.

China Must Cancel New Coal Plants To Achieve Climate Goals (R.)

China must end the construction of all new coal-fired power plants in order to meet long-term climate goals in the most economically feasible manner, according to a study co-authored by a government-backed research institute. China’s energy strategy over the next decade is under close scrutiny as it aims to bring climate warming carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 and fulfill a pledge made as part of the 2015 Paris agreement. But with economic growth at its slowest pace in nearly 30 years, Beijing has continued to approve new coal-fired plants, raising fears the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas is backtracking on its commitments.

Beijing is capable of phasing out coal to help meet a global target to keep temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, but only if it embarks on a “structured and sustainable” closure strategy to minimize the economic impact, according to the study by Chinese government researchers and the University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability published on Monday. The report, which evaluated more than 1,000 existing coal-fired power plants, said China must first end new construction and then rapidly close older and inefficient plants. As much as 112 gigawatts (GW) does not meet environmental standards and could be shut down immediately, it said.

China currently has over 1,000 GW of coal-fired power, accounting for about 60% of the country’s total installed generation capacity. “Well-designed policies can help lower the cost of coal-power deep decarbonization,” said Jiang Kejun, research professor with the Chinese government-backed Energy Research Institute, one of the report’s authors. [..] Beijing promised last year to show the “highest possible ambition” when drawing up new climate pledges for the coming decade, but it has built 42.9 GW of new coal-fired power capacity since the start of 2018, with another 121 GW under construction.

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We need a whistleblower.

American Airlines Reaches Secret Settlement With Boeing Over 737 MAX (R.)

American Airlines said on Monday it had reached a confidential agreement with Boeing to address damages the airline incurred in 2019 due to the ongoing grounding of its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. American, the largest U.S. airline, said the compensation will be received over several years. The airline will use more than $30 million of the compensation for the airline’s 2019 employee profit-sharing program. American said it does not expect any material financial impact of the agreement to be realized in its fourth-quarter 2019 earnings and it will continue talks regarding compensation for damages related to the MAX grounding beyond 2019. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines’ 28,000 flight attendants, said it welcomed the news about compensation, and was evaluating the details.

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Et tu, Hunter?

Chelsea Clinton Reaps $9 Million From Corporate Board Position (Hill)

Chelsea Clinton has reaped $9 million in compensation since 2011 for serving on the board of an internet investment company, according to Barron’s, the financial publication. Barron’s reported Sunday that Clinton has profited handsomely as a board member for IAC/InterActiveCorp, a media and internet investment company that has an ownership stake in 150 well-known brands, such as Vimeo, Tinder, Angie’s List and Home Advisor. Clinton, the only child of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has served on IAC’s board since 2011 and receives an annual $50,000 retainer and $250,000 worth of restricted IAC stock units, Barron’s reports.


She reported owning $8.95 million worth of IAC stock to the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of December. Barron’s notes that IAC’s stock has risen 89 percent, 50 percent and 36 percent in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively, a far steeper rise than the broader stock market. Clinton’s public profile has proved a valuable commodity. She earned an annual salary of $600,000 working as a special correspondent for NBC News in 2013 and part of 2014. Clinton was named to the board of Expedia Group in March of 2017, a position that typically earned $250,000 in 2015, according to a report at the time by The Guardian. Both IAC and Expedia are controlled by Barry Diller, the business and television mogul, who is a friend of Hillary Clinton.

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It’s all their fault, of course.

Australia To Kill Thousands Of Camels As They Drink Too Much Water (Hill)

Officials will kill thousands of camels in Australia as they drink too much water amid the wildfires. Leaders in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in northwest Australia will send helicopters to kill up to 10,000 camels in a five-day campaign starting Wednesday, The Australian reported. The order to kill comes as a drought makes the camels more desperate for water, causing chaos in local communities. Marita Baker, an APY executive board member, told the newspaper that the camels were causing problems in her community of Kanypi. “We have been stuck in stinking hot and uncomfortable conditions, feeling unwell, because the camels are coming in and knocking down fences, getting in around the houses and trying to get to water through air conditioners,’’ she said.


The State Department for Environment and Water will send the helicopters up. The camels’ bodies will be burnt or buried if they are accessible, but in remote areas, their bodies will be left. The camels are also being removed due to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, since camels emit one ton of carbon dioxide per year. The animal’s population also doubles every nine years if not regulated. The National Feral Camel Management Plan estimated about one million camels lived in three states and the Northern territory in 2010, according to the newspaper. One million camels is the equivalent of having 400,000 more cars on the roads, Tim Moore, chief executive of carbon farming specialists RegenCo, told the newspaper.

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Think the white Aussies will change their ways now?

Australian Owners Say Cultural Burning Saved Their Property (Age)

Aboriginal cultural fire practitioner Dennis Barber led a series of cultural burns on six hectares of bushland at Ngurrumpaa in 2015 and 2016 – the first burns in the area since a wildfire swept through in 1994. “There’s nothing more powerful than doing it and feeling like you’re doing the right thing, and seeing the results,” he said. Unlike hazard reduction burning, cultural burns are cooler and slower moving, usually no taller than knee height, leaving tree canopies untouched and allowing animals to take refuge from the flames. Small fires are lit with matches, instead of drip torches, and burn in a circular pattern. Mr Barber says the ancient practice is informed by thousands of years of traditional knowledge.

“It’s more than just putting the fire on the ground – it’s actually knowing the country, knowing what’s there … the soil types, the geology, the trees, the animals, the breeding times of animals, the flowering times of plants,” he said. The timing and frequency of burns depend on the environmental “system”. A former park ranger with 15 years’ professional firefighting experience, Mr Barber says he had a “light bulb moment” at a cultural burning workshop with Indigenous elders in far north Queensland in 2010. “Everything that I’d been doing as a professional firefighter, thinking that I was doing the right thing, was wrong, because I viewed fire in the landscape totally differently after that week,” he said.

“That’s where I got the bug to come back and actually spread that knowledge and see it happening in other parts of Australia.” The Wiradjuri man started Koori Country Firesticks in 2016 to promote cultural burning as an alternative to hazard reduction techniques in NSW. The organisation has culturally burnt around 50 hectares of land across the Hunter Valley and Sydney, mainly on private properties at the request of owners. But the 55-year-old has met plenty of resistance from governments, professional firefighters, national parks and even ecologists. “It’s been a little bit frustrating, but I’ve just decided I’m not going to let that stand in the way anymore,” he said.

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Wait. If our brains are indeed more powerful than we think, why are we not already thinking that?

New Neural Activity Suggests Our Brains Even More Powerful Than We Think (RT)

Scientists have discovered a new form of brain activity related to how cells process information. The incredible find suggests our brains might be even more powerful than previously thought, according to the team. The new research, conducted by German and Greek scientists and published in Science, centers on signals sent and received by the ends of neurons, known as ‘dendrites.’ The information passed by these parts of the brain is key to how the organ decides subsequent actions. Working with slices of human brain tissue, the team found unexpectedly complex electrical activity in the dendrites of human pyramidal neurons.


Modeling this activity then showed that single neurons were capable of solving computational problems which were thought to need a lot more brain power. “The dendrites are central to understanding the brain because they are at the core of what determines the computational power of single neurons,”said study co-author Matthew Larkum, a neuroscientist at Humboldt University of Berlin. “There was a ‘eureka’ moment when we saw the dendritic action potentials for the first time.” Little is currently known about how dendrites operate in other species, or if this kind of high-computational activity is uniquely human. However, it’s incredibly difficult to record dendrite activity in humans or animals while they’re alive, and Larkum says more research is needed to fill in these blanks.

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