Sep 152020
 
 September 15, 2020  Posted by at 9:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Otto Dix The Triumph of Death 1934

 

Scientists Discover Antibody That ‘Neutralizes’ Coronavirus (Fox)
Research From 23andMe Strengthens Link Between Blood Types And COVID19 (STAT)
Vitamin D Supplements ‘Could Keep COVID19 Patients Out Of Intensive Care’ (DM)
Cuba Punches Above Weight With ‘White Coat Army’ During Pandemic (R.)
Convergence of Quandaries (Jim Kunstler)
Stop The Coup! (TAM)
Poll Claims Debunked Atlantic Story Changed Voters’ Minds About Trump (BPR)
Trump Connects The Generals And The Military-Industrial Complex (AC)
Inequality Robs $2.5 Trillion From U.S. Workers Each Year
Bezos Doubles Wealth as Amazon Essential Product Prices Rise 1000% (MPN)
Time Is Ripe For China To Free Up Controls On Yuan’s Convertibility (SCMP)
Merkel Calls For EU Support For Greece Over Moria (K.)
Germany Plans To Take In 1,500 Refugees From Greek Islands (R.)
Australia Politics, Media Silent On Sadistic British Assange Show-Trial (WSWS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do we turn this into the biggest possible profit?

Scientists Discover Antibody That ‘Neutralizes’ Coronavirus (Fox)

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have isolated “the smallest biological molecule” that “completely and specifically neutralizes” SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus. The antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody, and has been used to create the drug Ab8, shared in the report published by the researchers in the journal Cell on Monday. The drug is seen as a potential preventative against SARS-CoV-2. According to the report, the drug has been “highly effective in preventing and treating” the SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and hamsters during tests. The drug also reportedly does not bind to human cells, which suggests it will not have negative side-effects in people.


“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. “Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune.” [..] According to the report, the team at University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases and Galveston National Laboratory tested Ab8 and found it blocked the virus from entering cells. In mice trials, those treated with Ab8 had 10-fold less of the amount of infectious virus compared to those that were untreated.

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“A little more than 11% of the people in 23andMe’s studies said they were Latino; less than 3% said they were Black.”

Research From 23andMe Strengthens Link Between Blood Types And COVID19 (STAT)

A forthcoming study from genetic testing giant 23andMe shows that a person’s genetic code could be connected to how likely they are to catch Covid-19 — and how severely they could experience the disease if they catch it. It’s an important confirmation of earlier work on the subject. People whose blood group is O seemed to test positive for Covid-19 less often than expected when compared to people with any other blood group, according to 23andMe’s data; people who tested positive and had a specific variant of another gene also seemed to be more likely to have serious respiratory symptoms. The study, which was released on a preprint server and which has not yet been peer-reviewed, could extend and confirm earlier work on the subject; 23andMe’s study relied on a larger dataset than earlier work and included a more diverse set of participants, the company said.

Experts who aren’t affiliated with 23andMe praised the study design and the work. “They clarify further what our data could only vaguely hint at,” said Tom Hemming Karlsen, a physician at Oslo University Hospital who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on genetic links with Covid-19 severity in June, and who was not associated with 23andMe’s work. But the outside experts also cautioned that the research won’t change treatment decisions. “It doesn’t have practical implications. There’s no treatment decisions that will be made from it — it’s just an interesting finding,” said Jennifer Lighter, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at NYU Langone who was not involved in the research. Unlike the study Karlsen and his colleagues ran, which only included people with severe Covid-19 symptoms, 23andMe included people who had both mild and severe cases — which allowed them to draw stronger conclusions, Karlsen said.

The company’s study participants are also more diverse than Karlsen’s, which only studied people in Spain and Italy. However, the 23andMe study’s demographics still don’t fully reflect the population of the United States. A little more than 11% of the people in 23andMe’s studies said they were Latino; less than 3% said they were Black. (Latinos represent about 16% of the U.S. population, while Black people account for about 13% of the population.) Both Karlsen and 23andMe’s team found that the genes that code for a person’s blood type seemed to be linked to whether a person would test positive for Covid-19; another section of chromosome 3 — referred to in both papers as chr3p21.31 — seemed to be linked to how severe a person’s response would be to a Covid-19 infection.

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Disregard the dissing of HCQ. Just take your Vit. D.

Vitamin D Supplements ‘Could Keep COVID19 Patients Out Of Intensive Care’ (DM)

Treating coronavirus patients with high doses of vitamin D supplements could help keep them out of intensive care, a study has suggested. Researchers gave high doses of calcifediol – a type of vitamin D supplement – to 50 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 in Spain. They were given 100 micrograms of the supplement over the course of a week, with 55mcg on the first day and then two booster doses of 27mcg on days three and seven. The dose was higher than the 70mcg weekly limit recommended by the NHS. Scientists compared the participants’ health with 26 volunteers in a control group who were not given the tablets, which are normally prescribed to patients with thyroid or kidney problems.

Just one patient given calcifediol fell ill enough to be admitted to intensive care, whereas half of the participants in the control group were taken to ICU and two died. There were no deaths among volunteers receiving the vitamin and all 50 patients were eventually discharged by the end of the study. Experts now believe Covid-19 causes a catastrophic build-up of a chemical called bradykinin, which makes blood vessels leaky and drives up the risk of inflammation. Calcifediol is one of the few hormones which regulates the bradykinin and it can also prevent the immune system from going into overdrive. Researchers have been divided over whether a vitamin D deficiency, which is vital to the immune system, can raise the risk of dying of Covid-19.

Some scientists suggested that it may be one of the reasons black people face a higher risk of dying from the illness, because they do not produce as much of the vitamin naturally. Taking too much vitamin D can cause bone and organ damage over time, however, and scientists discouraged people from trying to self-medicate. For the study, researchers from the University of Cordoba in Spain and research university KU Leuven in Belgium monitored 76 hospital patients with Covid-19. Fifty of the patients were randomly assigned to have calcifediol tablets, along with normal care. Twenty-six volunteers were put in a control group who only received standard care, to compare the treatment to. Because the study was conducted several months ago, the standard care for coronavirus in Spain was hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. These two drugs have since been proven ineffective at treating the virus.

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I think maybe this is exactly Cuba’s weight.

Cuba Punches Above Weight With ‘White Coat Army’ During Pandemic (R.)

At the start of Togo’s coronavirus outbreak, the small West African nation welcomed a team of 12 Cuban healthcare workers to tend to sufferers of the virus, boost its laboratory testing and help improve its hospital protocols. While the virus was overwhelming healthcare systems worldwide, the Communist-run Caribbean island boasted a rare resource: a surplus of doctors trained in deploying abroad and battling infectious disease. And it was willing to dispatch them all over the globe to nations requesting help. “As scientific and medical circles groped in the dark, Cuban medicine, strong from past experiences, brought appropriate answers,” said the head of cooperation at Togo’s foreign ministry, Charles Azilan.

Nearly 40 countries across five continents have received Cuban medics during the pandemic, as the island nation – home to just over 11 million inhabitants – has once more punched far above its weight in medical diplomacy. Since its 1959 leftist revolution, Cuba has dispatched its “army of white coats” to disaster sites and disease outbreaks around the world in the name of solidarity. In the last decade, they have fought cholera in Haiti and Ebola in West Africa. Not that its brigades are purely altruistic. Cuba has exported doctors on more routine missions in exchange for cash or goods in recent decades, making them its top source of hard currency. While some countries have received the medics for free during the pandemic, others are paying: a slight boon to Cuba’s economy struggling with the coronavirus-induced collapse in tourism.

[..] With financial aid from its former ally the Soviet Union, Cuba built up a healthcare system that was the envy of the developing world under the leadership of the late Fidel Castro. Some of those advances have been lost since the communist bloc collapsed. Many hospitals are run down, medicines are in short supply and Cubans complain about a decline in the quality of medical training. Still, Cuba has one of the highest ratios of physicians per capita in the world and even before pandemic struck, had some 28,000 medics deployed globally. It has since dispatched a further 4,000.

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“The country is now out of its mind… echoes of France, 1793… a rhyme, not a reprise.”

Convergence of Quandaries (Jim Kunstler)

The orgy of political hysteria, insane thinking, and violence is a psychotic reaction to the collapsing techno-industrial economy — a feature of it, actually. When all familiar social and economic arrangements are threatened, people go nuts. Interestingly, the craziness actually started in the colleges and universities where ideas (the products of thinking) are supposed to be the stock-in-trade. The more pressing the practical matters of daily life became, the less intellectuals wanted to face them. So, they desperately generated a force-field of crazy counter-ideas to repel the threat, a curriculum of wishful thinking, childish utopian nostrums, and exercises in boundary-smashing. As all this moved out of the campuses (the graduation function), it infected every other corner of American endeavor, institutions, business, news media, sports, Hollywood, etc. The country is now out of its mind… echoes of France, 1793… a rhyme, not a reprise.


The US economy began a slow and insidious collapse because its petroleum energy base became unaffordable. The reality of that was obscured by paradoxical appearances: the shale oil miracle goosed up US oil production from under five million barrels-a-day in 2007 to thirteen million barrels-a-day in 2019. Pretty awesome. Seemed like we were awash in oil. The problem was the companies producing shale oil couldn’t make money at it, and the loans that went into staging the shale oil “miracle” went bad… and then the companies couldn’t get new loans… and went bankrupt. So, the crash of US oil production is a self-reinforcing feedback loop that is sure to continue and will make things worse. Now, less than a year after reaching that majestic 13 million barrels-a-day, production has fallen to around 10 million a day — quite an impressive drop.

Further obscuring the actual dynamic in play, gasoline prices at the pump are quite low — under $2.50-a-gallon where I live, compared with $4-plus a couple of years ago — and most citizens consider the price of gasoline their sole index of how things are going in the oil industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated and accelerated the damage from that by shutting down much of small business across America since March. The businesses and people who owned them have suffered terribly. That and the public lockdowns have greatly depressed the demand for oil products, driving the price-per-barrel down and reducing the cash flow of the oil companies. That also aggravated worsening relations with our principal trading partner, China, the net effect of which threatens the supply chain for all sorts of critical parts and products needed to keep our complex systems running.

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“Oh, but one more thing: America needs to understand that while it might very well look like Trump won on election night, due to our new rules votes will be counted for weeks afterward and then our candidate will probably win.”

Stop The Coup! (TAM)

Michael Anton’s new article “The Coming Coup?” went viral almost as soon as we posted it a week ago today. This is not simply because figures like Lara Logan, Mollie Hemingway, Newt Gingrich, Dan Bongino, and the editors of the New York Post took note. It spread because concerned citizens began sharing it throughout the nation. We could tell it was especially effective because so many in the mainstream media maintained studious radio silence. But hyperventilating ruling-class supporters of the Biden/BLM/Antifa coalition did predictably lash out. The epitome of these reactions is an article in New York magazine’s Intelligencer, by political columnist Ed Kilgore, entitled “Trump Backers Make Case for Stealing Election, Before Biden Gets the Chance.”

The title itself reveals the stubborn simplicity of the Democratic Party’s coup narrative. Their elites have worked themselves and their base into a frothing lather of existential fright. In article after article, liberal intellectuals and activists have been talking for months about how Trump could steal the election or refuse to leave the White House even if he loses. But if the Right dares to point out that Democrats are actually changing the rules of the electoral process and actually speaking publicly about refusing to concede even if they lose, well, this only proves that the Right is going to steal the election and refuse to concede if they lose! In reality, of course, Anton and others are simply trying to shine a light on what Democrats are now openly declaring in public.

Kilgore frames Anton’s essay as part of an effort among conservatives to spread the craaaazy idea that Democrats’ obsessive focus on mail-in voting is part of a panicky effort to throw the election, not a good-faith scheme to protect people from coronavirus. Let’s leave aside the fact that no less an establishment authority than the Atlantic admits the voting booth is as safe as the grocery store. In fact, says Kilgore, echoing the new establishment narrative, so many legitimate Biden votes may come flooding in by mail after the in-person voting is through that the election will turn around all on its own. Every major media outlet is now full of supposed expert authorities – even Mark Zuckerberg recently got into the act – telling the American people that the rule changes Democrat apparatchiks are pushing throughout the nation are totally normal.

But as elections expert Hans Von Spakovsky pointed out in these pages, “what is clear from all of these lawsuits is that the Democrats and these organizations are trying to change the rules governing the administration of the November election” midstream while Republicans are trying to “preserve the status quo.” (If you want to understand what the Democrats are up to, give Spakovsky’s “Democrats Versus the Vote” a close read.) Kilgore likes to present himself as a reasonable man. But how are voters supposed to respond when the message from the Democrat Party is “our lawsuits to change the way we’ve always voted in the middle of a tumultuous election season are not part of a partisan cheat. Oh, but one more thing: America needs to understand that while it might very well look like Trump won on election night, due to our new rules votes will be counted for weeks afterward and then our candidate will probably win.”

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Can the media keep itself from making Biden look like he’s winning? Wouldn’t that make people less likely to vote?

Poll Claims Debunked Atlantic Story Changed Voters’ Minds About Trump (BPR)

A new poll from Left-wing Yahoo News and YouGov says that a discredited story by The Atlantic earlier this month claiming that President Donald Trump disparaged American war dead and “misled” about COVID-19 has changed peoples’ minds about supporting him in November. Now, allegedly because of the “bombshell” revelations in the story, some voters have shifted their support to Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden. “Donald Trump has fallen further behind Joe Biden following bombshell reports that the president knowingly misled Americans about the dangers of COVID-19 and privately disparaged dead U.S. soldiers as ‘suckers’ and ‘losers,’ according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll,” Yahoo News reported Friday. Subsequent reporting indicates that neither of those claims are true.

Several current and former White House officials who were with the president during a 2018 visit to France — when the reported disparaging of American World War I dead was alleged to have happened — disputed Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s story. Included on that list is former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is no fan of the president. As to the claims about coronavirus, while President Trump reportedly told Washington Post correspondent and author Bob Woodward he tried to downplay the severity of COVID-19 so as not to cause panic, he nevertheless warned Americans early on the disease was serious and took several measures — including shutting off most travel to and from China, where the virus originated — very early on.

That said, according to Yahoo News, support for Trump has allegedly tanked: “The survey, which was conducted from Sept. 9 to 11, shows Biden leading Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters, 49 percent to 39 percent. The previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll found Biden ahead by just 6 points immediately after the Republican National Convention. The results suggest that a week of unrelenting and unflattering revelations about Trump — from the Atlantic report on his alleged contempt for Americans wounded or killed in war (which appeared on Sept. 3) to Bob Woodward’s recordings of Trump admitting he downplayed the deadliness of COVID-19 (released on Sept. 9) — has damaged the president’s standing with voters.”

The survey itself is suspect. For one, it polled “registered voters,” which are less accurate than “likely voters” and tend to skew towards Democrats, according to FiveThirtyEight. In fact, the Yahoo News/YouGov poll skewed heavily towards Democrats. On the issue of favorable views towards Biden and Trump, pollsters oversampled Democrats to Republicans, 366 to 220, respectively. The poll’s claims about which candidate has more respect for the military seems suspect as well. “Asked which candidate shows more respect for the military, 50 percent of registered voters name Biden, compared to 39 percent for Trump. By the same margin, voters say Biden would do a better job leading the military than the current commander in chief,” Yahoo News reported.

Biden runs for reelection

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Smedley Butler.

Trump Connects The Generals And The Military-Industrial Complex (AC)

Once again, the whispers of phantoms masquerading as administration officials have attempted to put Donald Trump on the defensive only two months before the fall election. And in typical fashion, the roused president has gone on an immediate rhetorical offensive. Trump has doubled down on his affirmations towards the U.S. military and the American soldier, while simultaneously confronting the class of generals who command them. “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me—the soldiers are,” Trump said at a Labor Day press conference. “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

This is a dramatic shift in perspective from the man who spent the first two years of his presidency surrounding himself with top brass like Michael Flynn, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and James Mattis (along with almost being beguiled into nominating David Petraeus as Secretary of State). Perhaps Trump learned the hard way that the generals of the forever wars don’t measure up to the twentieth-century soldiers he adulated growing up. For instance, when George Marshall oversaw the deployment of 8.3 million GIs across four continents in World War II, he did so with the assistance of only three other four-star generals. In retirement, Marshall refused to sit on any corporate boards, and passed on multiple lucrative book deals, lest he give the impression that he was profiting from his military record. As he told one publisher, “he had not spent his life serving the government in order to sell his life story to the Saturday Evening Post.”

[..] General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, in between his forced retirement from the Marine Corps and appointment as Secretary of Defense, joined the board of General Dynamics where he was paid over a million dollars in salary and benefits. Returning to public life, Mattis then spent two years cajoling President Trump into keeping the U.S. military engaged in places as disparate as Afghanistan, Syria, and Africa. “Sir, we’re doing it to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square,” Mattis told his commander-in-chief. Left unsaid was that a strategic withdrawal would also lead to a precipitous decline in Mattis’ future stock options, which he regained after he rejoined General Dynamics following his December 2018 resignation.

That resignation might have been premature, however. It was only a matter of weeks before Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, the impetus for Mattis’ departure, was reversed. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers continue to illegally occupy the north-east of the country. That’s in addition to the thousands of Americans still kicking dust in Iraq and Afghanistan, contrary to the president’s “America First” pledge. And Trump is as guilty as any of his subordinates when it comes to coddling the military-industrial complex, gushing over billion dollar arms deals and their manufactured jobs numbers. It remains to be seen whether his latest announcement of a partial withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the month will turn out as phony as the others.

Trump’s language more closely resembles that of Major General Smedley Butler, who at the time of his death was the most decorated marine in U.S. history. “The professional soldiers and sailors don’t want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms,” Butler wrote in his 1935 book War is a Racket. To eliminate this corrupting influence, Butler advocated an egalitarian price control to prevent the arms industry—and their pet generals—from profiting off the blood of American boys. “Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our steel companies and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.”

How do you spin war?

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A study on inequality from the RAND Corporation. No irony at all.

Inequality Robs $2.5 Trillion From U.S. Workers Each Year

Every few months, some group of socially conscious number crunchers will remind Americans that a tiny elite is binge-eating the nation’s economic pie while the rest of us plebeians fight over table scraps. Journalists will then aggregate eye-popping statistics and edifying charts, progressives will share these over social media, adorned with red-faced (and/or guillotine) emoji — and the moral arc of history will carry on bending toward neofeudalism. So, in the present moment of booming stock markets and child hunger, you might be feeling too inured to America’s grotesque levels of inequality to summon much interest in yet another report testifying to the one percent’s total victory in the 50 Years Class War.


But a new study from the Rand Corporation, in partnership with the Fair Work Center, illustrates the impact of a half-century of upward redistribution in bracingly concrete terms: If income had been distributed as evenly over the past five decades as it was in 1975, the median full-time worker in the U.S. would enjoy annual earnings of roughly $92,000 a year. As is, that worker makes just $50,000. It’s no secret that wage and productivity growth began decoupling in the 1970s. Charts like this one from the Economic Policy Institute have been ubiquitous in progressive economic policy debates since the Great Recession:

But RAND’s innovative methodology — which involved constructing a new metric for inequality that compares income growth to GDP, and then using that metric to gauge changes in the income distribution across every U.S. business cycle since 1975 — allowed it to translate the abstractions of macro-level income shares into something much more tangible. Between the mid-1970s and 2018, per capita GDP growth in the U.S. increased by 118 percent. Had income growth on every rung of America’s class ladder kept pace with those gains, annual earnings at the bottom would be nearly twice as high as they are now. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of U.S. earners would collectively take home $2.5 trillion more in income each year.

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“there is no place for price gouging on Amazon..”

Bezos Doubles Wealth as Amazon Essential Product Prices Rise 1000% (MPN)

A new report from advocacy group Public Citizen details how retail giant Amazon “misled the public, law enforcement, and policymakers about price increases during the pandemic,” raising their prices on essential products “to levels that would be considered violations of price gouging laws in many states.” The prices of many products in high demand during the pandemic jumped by over 1,000 percent when compared to this time last year. As accusations of price gouging began, Amazon blamed “bad actors,” declaring in an official statement that, “there is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” committing itself to “working vigorously” to ensure fair pricing, and “collaborating with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies” to “hold price gougers accountable” and to protect the interests of their customers. Yet Public Citizen’s report found that “Amazon is engaged in price gouging on products it sells directly” itself, through its Amazon Essentials line. Disposable face masks and corn starch were the most inflated prices, jumping elevenfold from earlier in the year.

Below is a list of ten Amazon Essential products tracked, including the percentage the items increased in cost. Similar price rises were tracked among third party sellers on the platform as well.
Disposable face masks — 1,000%
Hand sanitizer — 48%
Disinfectant spray — 87%
Antibacterial soap — 470%
Disposable nitrile gloves — 336%
Toilet paper — 528%
Paper towels — 303%
Flour — 425%
Sugar — 520%
Corn starch — 1,010%

While there is no federal law protecting the public from the practice, price gouging is illegal in 35 states, with some states deeming that increasing prices by just 10 percent constitutes breaking the law. Thanks in no small part to increased profits from sales, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth almost double during the pandemic, from $113 billion in March to $206 billion today, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, who calculated that America’s billionaire class of 467 plutocrats have seen their wealth spike by nearly a trillion dollars since lockdown began on March 18. Much of this has been down to an enormous tax break for the ultra-wealthy that the Trump administration snuck into its first coronavirus relief bill. Bezos, who retook the title of the world’s richest individual from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates late last year, has said that he is so rich that he can only imagine spending his wealth by plowing it into space travel.

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I don’t believe it for a second.

Time Is Ripe For China To Free Up Controls On Yuan’s Convertibility (SCMP)

For the last five years, China’s central bank has been fighting to defend two key numbers: seven and three. Seven refers to the exchange rate between yuan and the US dollar – if the yuan weakens too much beyond seven to the US dollar, it would be regarded as a dangerous sign. Three refers to the level of China’s stockpile of foreign exchange reserves – if reserves dip below US$3 trillion, it would be seen as a sign of weakness. The context for the unannounced campaign to defend the two key figures is a deep concern over the rapid capital exodus that occurred after the sudden change in perceptions about China’s financial health and economic robustness following a devastating stock market rout in the summer of 2015, and Beijing’s subsequent clumsy steps to devalue the yuan by nearly 2 per cent.

As a result, Beijing changed its approach to outbound capital flows overnight – from a stance of tolerance and encouragement, to a ruthless crackdown. The restrictions on the ability of ordinary Chinese people to access foreign exchanges increased significantly, even though, on the surface, China maintains a policy that every citizen is entitled to buy up to US$50,000 worth of foreign currencies every year. With a lopsided foreign exchange policy of encouraging inflows and discouraging outflows, China has achieved its goal of avoiding a large yuan depreciation or an exodus of funds. But after five years of this defensive posture, there are signs that the tide could turn again. The dangers of capital outflow have eased as the Chinese economy has recovered rapidly from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

As many parts of the world are still struggling to rebound, China has become a favoured destination for both portfolio and long-term investment despite tensions with the United States. With the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary easing policy leading to a weaker US dollar, the yuan has become a safe bet for value. The time is ripe for Beijing to free up controls on the yuan’s convertibility with other currencies.The Chinese government can never realise its ambition of making the yuan a global currency, or even a potential rival to the US dollar, if it maintains rigid control on its use. With the US threatening China with financial sanctions, Beijing has recognised that it needs to reduce reliance on the US dollar, and the best way to do that is to free up the yuan.

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Don’t call for it, do it.

Merkel Calls For EU Support For Greece Over Moria (K.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday support for Greece on migration in light of the destruction of the country’s largest migrant camp should be pan-European. “Greece has shouldered a lot of responsibility,” she said on Monday, adding that Athens has earned support. “We will make a substantive contribution,” she added, noting more migrants will be transferred to Germany. Bild newspaper reported on Monday that Berlin is considering taking in thousands of refugees from Moria as a one-off gesture and hopes the camp can be rebuilt and run by the European Union.

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Good, now the rest. It does give one the idea that setting the place on fire paid off.

Germany Plans To Take In 1,500 Refugees From Greek Islands (R.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer are planning to take in around 1,500 refugees from the Greek islands, German news agency dpa reported on Tuesday. Dpa cited politicians focussed on domestic policy as saying that these would be families with children. More than 12,000 people, mostly refugees from Afghanistan, Africa and Syria, were left without shelter, proper sanitation or access to food and water after a fire tore through the overcrowded Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesvos last Wednesday.

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“..the WikiLeaks publisher is largely being treated as a “non-person” by the Australian political and media establishment..”

Australia Politics, Media Silent On Sadistic British Assange Show-Trial (WSWS)

From the editorial pages of the official media and the statements of leading politicians, the uninformed observer would have no idea that a world-famous Australian journalist is enduring extradition hearings that have been condemned as a legal travesty by rights’ organisations and United Nations representatives, or that he faces 175-years imprisonment for publishing evidence of war crimes. Because it is Britain that is staging the current show-trial of Julian Assange, and the US government that is seeking his destruction, the WikiLeaks publisher is largely being treated as a “non-person” by the Australian political and media establishment. Moreover, they, no less than their counterparts internationally, are committed to an agenda of militarism and escalating attacks on democratic rights, of which the persecution of Assange is a central component.

A week since British hearings for Assange’s extradition to the US resumed, his name does not appear to have passed the lips of a minister in the federal Liberal-National government or a prominent representative of the Labor Party opposition, publicly, at least. And nor does it seem that they have been asked by any members of the “fourth estate” about their silence. Not a single editorial in the establishment media has called for Assange to be defended. This includes outlets such as the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, and the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which regularly proclaim their commitment to “press freedom.” The disinterest is not because the British proceedings have been uneventful, or the attacks on Assange’s legal and democratic rights carefully concealed.

Last week’s hearings began with Assange emerging for the first time in months from Belmarsh Prison, a maximum-security facility, where he has been detained for the past year-and-a-half, even though he has not been convicted of a crime. There he has been imperiled by the coronavirus pandemic, with the authorities failing to provide him with such basic protection as a mask, as dozens of inmates and staff have contracted the potentially deadly-virus. Before the trial, Assange was “rearrested,” despite the fact that there had been no change to his incarceration. The reason was that, weeks out from the trial, a new “superseding” indictment was filed by US prosecutors. This was plainly aimed at overwhelming Assange’s lawyers with thousands of legal documents, after they had already finalised their defence case.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected a defence request that the additional material in the superseding indictment be excised. But she also dismissed a defence motion for a delay, to allow Assange’s lawyers to respond to the new allegations. Meanwhile, the US prosecutors have stated that the new material in the indictment, despite the fact that it does not contain additional charges, could itself be the basis for extradition. The US government is seeking to ensnare Assange in a Kafkaesque nightmare, where, even if extradition is blocked on the basis of the Espionage Act charges against him, he can still be dispatched to his American persecutors, based on the additional material in the new indictment, largely furnished by FBI informants, including a con-man previously convicted of impersonating Assange and stealing money from WikiLeaks.

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The honest person isn’t the one who has never sinned. It’s the one who has never committed any sin more than once.

– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

Python

 

 

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Sep 132020
 


Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Fall of Icarus 1558

 

What’s Behind The DOJ Aggression Toward Julian Assange (CT)
Senate Chairman Asks DOJ IG To Open Probe Into Wiped Mueller Phones (JTN)
The United States & Its Constitution Have Two Months Left (PCR)
Bill Maher Mocks Dems: ‘You Guys Are Whistling Past The Graveyard’ (Fox)
When There are No Consequences for Anything (Kunstler)
Russia Dispatches First Batches Of COVID19 Vaccine To All 85 Regions (RT)
Chinese Virologist Vows To Release Proof COVID19 Was Made In Wuhan Lab (JTN)
The Coming Wave Of Defaults (Richard Vague)
China Steel Exports Hit By 15 New Anti-Dumping Probes So Far In 2020 (SCMP)
Greek PM Announces Huge Military Spending To Counter Turkish Aggression (K.)
Greek Riot Police Fire Teargas At Refugees Campaigning To Leave Lesbos (G.)
Academy Strips ‘Schindler’s List’ Of Oscar Due To Lack Of Diversity (BBee)

 

 

India will go above 100,000 new daily cases next week, one third of all global new cases. The US was never above 75,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Martin

 

 

Wonder why it took the right wing so long to wake up to how Julian Assange is linked to the whole machine. Did they really need Tucker Carlson for that?

This is lawyer “sundance” at the Conservative Treehouse. The article has a lot more info, not just on Assange; he’s been digging for a long time. I know, it’s right wing media. But nobody else will cover this. And we want to get Assange released.

What’s Behind The DOJ Aggression Toward Julian Assange (CT)

On April 11th, 2019, the Julian Assange indictment was unsealed in the EDVA. From the indictment we discover it was under seal since March 6th, 2018. On Tuesday April 15th more investigative material was released. Again, note the dates: Grand Jury, *December of 2017* This means FBI investigation prior to…. The FBI investigation took place prior to December 2017, it was coordinated through the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) where Dana Boente was U.S. Attorney at the time. The grand jury indictment was sealed from March of 2018 until after Mueller completed his investigation, April 2019. Why the delay? What was the DOJ waiting for? Here’s where it gets interesting…. The FBI submission to the Grand Jury in December of 2017 was four months after congressman Dana Rohrabacher talked to Julian Assange in August of 2017: “Assange told a U.S. congressman … he can prove the leaked Democratic Party documents … did not come from Russia.” [..]


Knowing how much effort the CIA and FBI put into the Russia collusion-conspiracy narrative, it would make sense for the FBI to take keen interest after this August 2017 meeting between Rohrabacher and Assange; and why the FBI would quickly gather specific evidence (related to Wikileaks and Bradley Manning) for a grand jury by December 2017. Within three months of the grand jury the DOJ generated an indictment and sealed it in March 2018. The EDVA sat on the indictment while the Mueller probe was ongoing. As soon as the Mueller probe ended, on April 11th, 2019, a planned and coordinated effort between the U.K. and U.S. was executed; Julian Assange was forcibly arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and the EDVA indictment was unsealed.

As a person who has researched this three year fiasco; including the ridiculously false 2016 Russian hacking/interference narrative: “17 intelligence agencies”, Joint Analysis Report (JAR) needed for Obama’s anti-Russia narrative in December ’16; and then a month later the ridiculously political Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) in January ’17; this timing against Assange is just too coincidental. It doesn’t take a deep researcher to see the aligned Deep State motive to control Julian Assange because the Mueller report was dependent on Russia cybercrimes, and that narrative is contingent on the Russia DNC hack story which Julian Assange disputes. This is critical. The Weissmann/Mueller report contains claims that Russia hacked the DNC servers as the central element to the Russia interference narrative in the U.S. election. This claim is directly disputed by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, as outlined during the Dana Rohrabacher interview, and by Julian Assange on-the-record statements.


The predicate for Robert Mueller’s investigation was specifically due to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The fulcrum for this Russia interference claim is the intelligence community assessment; and the only factual evidence claimed within the ICA is that Russia hacked the DNC servers; a claim only made possible by relying on forensic computer analysis from Crowdstrike, a DNC contractor. The CIA holds a massive conflict of self-interest in upholding the Russian hacking claim. The FBI holds a massive interest in maintaining that claim. All of those foreign countries whose intelligence apparatus participated with Brennan and Strzok also have a vested self-interest in maintaining that Russia hacking and interference narrative. Julian Assange is the only person with direct knowledge of how Wikileaks gained custody of the DNC emails; and Assange has claimed he has evidence it was not from a hack.

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I understand it takes 3 hours to wipe an iPhone by getting the password wrong 10 times in a row (because delays are built into the process). That’s all I personally need to know.

The term “accidental” doesn’t fit anywhere in the narrative. And destroying this sort of evidence is a criminal offence.

Senate Chairman Asks DOJ IG To Open Probe Into Wiped Mueller Phones (JTN)

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson on Friday asked Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz to open an investigation into the dozen-plus phones belonging to associates of the Robert Mueller special counsel that had been wiped of data prior to being surrendered to investigators. Government documents released this week listed multiple phones belonging to members of Mueller’s Russia collusion probe as having been cleared of all data before they were handed over to Horowitz’s office. Many of the phones, according to the documents, were purged of data after the users entered incorrect passwords too many times.


In his letter, Johnson—the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs—said the missing data “raise[s] concerns about record retention and transparency.” The senator asked Horowitz’s office to “open an investigation into this matter to determine what, why, and how information was wiped, whether any wrongdoing occurred, and who these devices belonged to.” Johnson also asked Horowitz to explain “when and how [his] office was made aware of this matter,” what steps the office took to “confirm whether information on these phones had been wiped,” whether or not the phones in question had “text message capabilities,” and if Horowtiz’s office has “the capability to retrieve the information from these phones?” The letter asks for a response “no later than September 18, 2020.”

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Paul Craig Roberts knows the machinery.

The United States & Its Constitution Have Two Months Left (PCR)

Bob Woodward writes that Trump’s Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, and Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, spoke together about taking “collective action” to remove President Trump from office. General Mattis said Trump is “dangerous. He’s unfit.” This is the same thing that the Generals and the CIA said about President John F. Kennedy. When Generals and the CIA say that a president is unfit and dangerous, they mean he is dangerous to their budget. By “unfit” they mean he is not a reliable cold warrior who will keep hyping America’s enemies so that money keeps pouring into the military/security budget. By serving defense contractors instead of their country, generals end up very wealthy.

Both Kennedy and Trump wanted to normalize relations with Russia and to bring home US troops involved in make-war operations overseas that boost the profits of defense contractors. To stop Kennedy they assassinated him. To stop Trump they concocted Russiagate, Impeachgate, and a variety of wild and unsubstantiated accusations. The presstitutes repeat the various accusations as if they are absolute proven truth. The presstitutes never investigated a single one of the false accusations. These efforts to remove Trump did not succeed. Having pulled off numerous color revolutions in which the US has overthrown foreign governments, the tactics are now being employed against Trump. The November presidential election will not be an election. It will be a color revolution.

We have reached the point in the demise of our country that a simple statement of obvious truth is not believable. As a number of carefully researched and documented books, some written by insiders, have proved conclusively, the CIA has controlled the prestige American media since 1950. The American media does not provide news. It provides the Deep State’s explanations of events. This ensures that real news does not interfere with the agenda. The German journalst, Udo Ulfkotte, wrote a book, Bought Journalism, in which he showed that the CIA also controls the European press. To be clear, there are two CIA organizations. One is an agency that monitors world events and endeavors to provide more or less accurate information to policymakers.

The other is a covert operations agency. This agency assassinates people, including an American president, and overthrows uncooperative governments. President Truman publicly stated after he was out of office that he made a serious mistake in permitting the covert operations branch of the CIA. He said that it was an unaccountable government in inself. President Eisehnower agreed and in his last address to the American people warned of the growing unaccountable power of the military/security complex. President Kennedy realized the threat and said he was going “to break the CIA into a thousand pieces,” but they killed him first.

It would be easy for the CIA to kill Trump, but the “lone assassin” has been used too many times to be believable. It is easier to overthrow Trump’s reelection with false accusations as the CIA controlls the American and European media and has many Internet sites pretending to be dissident, a claim that fools insouciant Americans. Indeed, it is the leftwing that the CIA owns. The rightwing goes along because they think it is patriotic to support the military/security complex. After the CIA overthrows Trump, they will use Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and their presstitutes to foment race war. Then the CIA will ride in on the Pale Horse, and the population will submit.

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“…5 or 6% is a lot in this country. That’s a big, big, big victory. And if he doesn’t get that…”

Bill Maher Mocks Dems: ‘You Guys Are Whistling Past The Graveyard’ (Fox)

“Real Time” host Bill Maher wasn’t nearly as confident about a Joe Biden victory in November as his guests were on Friday night. Maher began by citing what he called “frightening” finds from electoral analyst Nate Silver, who recently determined that if Biden wins the popular vote by less than 1%, he’ll have only a “6 percent chance” of becoming president through the electoral college. Similarly, if Biden wins the popular vote by 1 or 2%, he’ll have a “22% chance” of being elected in addition to the “46% chance” with a 2 to 3% popular vote margin. “So he could win by 3 percent and he still has less than half a chance of winning the election,” Maher said. “You’ve got to get up to 5 or 6% before he has a 98% chance of winning the election. That’s a f—ed up country.”

Author Jessica Yellin, a former CNN correspondent, dismissed any reason for panic among Democrats, pointing to Biden’s “unbelievably steady” polling throughout the year, stressing that he’s been “consistently up 6 points” against President Trump, and adding that the numbers don’t indicate the “worst-case scenario” like they did in 2016. Vanity Fair contributor Peter Hamby cited Trump’s weak polling among independents and women, insisting that a “fundamental shifting” among voters “would take something overwhelmingly dramatic.” “The whole ‘What about 2016?’ thing, it’s just not 2016,” Hamby insisted. “People have had four years of Donald Trump. A verdict has more or less been rendered since he’s taken office … and Joe Biden is just not Hillary Clinton. He’s not.”

“I know,” Maher responded. “But what Nate Silver is seeing, it doesn’t matter. Because 5 or 6% is a lot in this country. That’s a big, big, big victory. And if he doesn’t get that — and races tighten at the end! You sound like the panels I used to have on right before the last election. … You guys are whistling past the graveyard.” Yellin doubled down, telling Maher she thinks it’s “very hard” to see Trump convince the rest of undecided voters to support him, pointing to polling that shows his “law and order” messaging has not improved his standing among voters. “So far. Right now,” Maher told Yellin. “You think it’s going to shift?” Yellin replied. “It could,” Maher said. “People generally don’t like violence in the streets. I mean, yes, you’re right.

When he says, ‘I’m the one who’s going to protect you,’ they’re not getting that. They’re not buying that. What they’re saying is ‘Joe Biden is a healer and we need healing right now.’ But this could change.” Maher has previously expressed doubt about Biden’s chances for a November victory. Last month, he told MSNBC’s Joy Reid he was feeling “very nervous” following the conclusion of the Republican National Convention. “I am feeling less confident about this — maybe it’s just their convention bump got to me, but I’m feeling less confident than I was a month ago,” Maher said. “I feel very nervous, the same way I did four years ago at this time.”

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The usual suspects.

When There are No Consequences for Anything (Kunstler)

We’re informed hours ago, for instance, that the top lawyers in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel operation wiped all the records from their cell phones before the DOJ Inspector General could collect evidence of their communications from the SC team’s three-year exercise in overthrowing a president. How is that not an obstruction of justice, and who will answer for it?

That’s on top of many other bits of essential evidence in the RussiaGate coup and other perfidious acts mysteriously gone missing — Special Agent Joe Pientka’s original “302” document from the Flynn interrogation, thousands of Strzok-and-Page’s text messages, official verifications of the Steele Dossier submitted to the FISA court, communications between the FBI “small group” (Comey, McCabe, Priestap, Carlin, McCord, Baker, et al.) plus CIA Chief John Brennan and DNI James Clapper with Senators Burr and Warner on the Senate Intel Committee, communications between “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella, Col. Alexander Vindman and House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff, records of CIA prop Stephan Halper’s doings with the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, all communication records between State Department official Jonathan Winer and British ex-spy Christopher Steele….

And now, like a fever building to climax, comes the news right out-front that the Democratic Party intends to foment insurrection if the election goes against them. They’re supporting the coming siege of Lafayette Square set to kick off fifty days of “protest” across from the White House beginning Sept 17 as a warm-up for anarchy in the streets across the nation following the Nov 3 vote. Behind us is the summer of riots, arson, and looting, and who paid to support all that? Who paid for flying Antifa and BLM personnel from city to city, feeding and housing them, paying for their “commercial-grade” fireworks, pallets of bricks, gas masks, lasers, bullhorns, black riot outfits? Why is it hard to find out who bought the plane tickets, booked the hotels? Months have gone by since all that started. Is someone in the DOJ following the money? And following their communications (especially considering the crimes against property they’ve committed)?

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Yes, the Lancet, world no. 1 medical journal, said the vaccine is 100% effective. Questions?

Russia Dispatches First Batches Of COVID19 Vaccine To All 85 Regions (RT)

Russia has sent out the initial batches of the world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine to all parts of its vast territory, as authorities test the delivery system of the much-needed drug. The formula is expected to be delivered on Monday, said Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. “The first small batches have already been shipped,” Murashko said, explaining that the government is testing the supply chain to ensure a robust delivery system across the country’s 85 regions. As well as testing the efficacy and safety of the vaccine itself, the government believes it is paramount to ensure the efficient distribution to citizens, especially to those at high risk. Russia’s homegrown Covid-19 formula is currently in the third and final stage of clinical trials, in which 40,000 Muscovites will take part.


While three-quarters will receive the jab, another quarter will be given a placebo. On Wednesday, Moscow’s Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova announced that testing had begun, and over 35,000 residents had applied. “Clinical trials have begun in Moscow,” Murashko said, adding that the ministry had also created “the world’s first mobile application” that allows participants to “report on their condition” throughout the lengthy trial period. [..] The vaccine’s development process has been criticized by some Western countries for its supposedly unsafe rapid development and improper testing. However, earlier this month, the respected British medical journal The Lancet published the Russian Ministry of Health’s Sputnik V study, showing the vaccine to be 100% effective, producing antibodies in all 76 participants of early-stage trials.

Halloween

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We are curious.

Chinese Virologist Vows To Provide Proof COVID19 Was Made In Wuhan Lab (JTN)

A Chinese scientist who reportedly fled her home country out of fear for her safety has said that she intends to release evidence proving that SARS-Cov-2 did not arise in nature but was actually manufactured in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Virologist Li-Meng Yan claims to have done some of the earliest work on COVID-19 when it first emerged in China last year. She has said she left China in April and that she is currently in hiding in the U.S. On the British ITV television show “Loose Women” on Friday, Yan said she intends to release evidence showing “why this has come from the lab in China, why they are the only ones who made it.”


“The genome sequence [of the virus] is like a human finger print,” she told the talk show. “And based on this you can identify these things.” Yan said at the start of the pandemic she attempted to warn her supervisors of the threat the virus posed yet she was ignored. The scientist on the show declared it “critical” for the world to understand the virus’s origins, claiming: “We can not overcome it, it will be life-threatening for everyone,” though current epidemiological data indicate that the virus likely has a survival rate above 99%.

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The wave appears slow in the distance; it won’t be as it gets nearer.

The Coming Wave Of Defaults (Richard Vague)

With COVID-related income supplements and unemployment benefits now expired or reduced, we face a new wave of mortgage and rental delinquencies, many of which will come in the next few months. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, as of June 30, mortgage delinquency in the U.S. had reached 8.2 percent, the highest since 2011 and almost double the 4.5 percent of a year earlier. With 53 million mortgages in the U.S., that means more than 4.3 million mortgages are delinquent. Add to that the fact that, per Black Knight mortgage analytics, almost 5 million homes have been in forbearance. With that, I estimate that at least 1 million to 2 million more of these loans will fall delinquent before the end of this year.

As for renters, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that, as of July, 18 percent were delinquent in their rent payments. That compares with less than 7 percent in prior years. With more than 43 million renters, that means more than 7.4 million are behind on their rental payments. With the loss of income and unemployment support, it is reasonable to believe that number will increase by several million over the next few months. Many of the resulting evictions that normally would have occurred have been forestalled by government mandate, and a major portion of the mortgage payments and apartment rental payments that would have been late have been staved off by the lifeline of the $1,200 checks from the CARES Act and augmented unemployment benefits.

Since this assistance has now expired, a new wave of delinquency is before us, and millions more Americans could go delinquent in the months immediately ahead. When people go delinquent on their mortgage or rent because of COVID-based job loss or income reduction, their lives often become a proverbial hell. Many resort to bankruptcy as a refuge. But that is just the start of what is a chain of impairment. For renters, their landlords are then hurt because of those missed rent payments, and so they in turn go into default on the loans they took out to buy the rental property, something felt especially by the small landlords who have little clout with their lenders. Then the lenders themselves — those that made mortgage loans to households and those that made property acquisition loans to the small landlords — suffer loss.

This all comes because the individuals who make up the first link in that chain can’t pay, often just temporarily. All can be protected — at least over the near term — by continued government support such as proposed in the HEROES Act now being debated in Congress. With that, individuals would be able to pay their rent and mortgages, and thus small landlords would be able to pay their loans, and community lenders could avoid major losses.

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Overproduction. China can’t do without it.

China Steel Exports Hit By 15 New Anti-Dumping Probes So Far In 2020 (SCMP)

China’s steel exports have been subject to 15 new anti-dumping investigations in the first nine months of the year, more than all of last year, as experts warn that the US-China trade war and the coronavirus pandemic have hastened a trend towards global protectionism. The US, Britain, Australia and Thailand are among the countries that have initiated dumping probes into Chinese products, including steel plates, grinding balls, cylinders and strands, as well as galvanised wires. Last year, China faced 13 anti-dumping investigations into its steel exports, according to the China Trade Remedies Database. Thailand went a step further in August, slapping a 35.67 per cent anti-dumping tariff on Chinese hot-dipped galvanised coils and sheets.

China, the world’s biggest steel producer, has long been accused of flooding the international market with cheap, subsidised steel, primarily due to oversupply at home. It produced 996 million tonnes of crude steel last year, more than half of the world’s combined output of 1.8 billion tonnes, according to the World Steel Association. But against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, many smaller steel producers in Asia have had enough and are doing everything possible to protect their domestic industries. Korrakod Padungjitt, a Thai steel manufacturer and secretary general of the Thailand Iron and Steel Industry Club, said his country’s latest anti-dumping tariff on Chinese steel would just be a drop in the ocean. Chinese steel started flowing into Thailand in the early 2000s and has increasingly squeezed regional manufacturers, Korrakod said.

The Chinese steel onslaught was so ferocious that in 2010, mainland producers mixed alloy in their steel products to circumvent existing tariffs, he added. The issue is now a regular feature of annual meetings between the Asean Iron and Steel Council and the China Iron and Steel Association. Thailand’s industrial sector has been hard hit by the pandemic, with both investment and consumption plummeting. In July, Thailand’s car production fell 47 per cent compared to the same time last year, which was a significant blow to the steel sector. Earlier this year, Thailand’s Department of Foreign Trade launched an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese hot-dipped galvanised coils and sheets, which are used largely in construction and manufacturing, and in August followed through with a 35.67 per cent duty.

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Money that should go to refugees and homeless. Not French arms dealers. But due to historic and geographical factors, Greeks take their army very seriously. They’re one of few countries that meet their NATO quota.

Greek PM Announces Huge Military Spending To Counter Turkish Aggression (K.)

Greece will strengthen its armed forces by buying new weapons systems, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Saturday. Specifically, Greece will acquire 18 Rafale fighters, a full squadron’s strength, to replacing the aging Mirage 2000 planes; 4 new frigates, while refurbishing 4 existing ones; 4 Romeo naval helicopters; antitank weapons for the Army; torpedoes for the Navy and guided missile for its Air Force. It will also add 15,000 professional soldiers to its armed forces over the next five years, Mitsotakis said. The new weapons procurement program comes amid heightened tensions with Turkey over resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Its announcement dominated the first half of Mitsotakis’ speech on the grounds of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).


The trade fair itself has been canceled, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Mitsotakis delivered the customary speech describing next year’s economic policy. The extra spending on defense did not prevent Mitsotakis from announcing a new €6.8 billion injection into the economy, in the form of payroll and other tax cuts, subsidies and payments of pension cuts restored by the courts. “A shift in priorities (toward defense spending) does not mean a change in goals,” Mitsotakis told a restricted audience of just 50, all wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. “Ankara is now adding to the provocations in the Aegean, the undermining of peace in the entire Mediterreanean,” Mitsotakis said. “It is threatening the eastern borders of Europe, and it is undermining security in a sensitive crossroads of three continents.”

Greece military boost

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Wait. 200,000 Covid-19 rapid tests(?!) Which ones are those? Are they just PCR executed fast, or actual rapid tests?

Greek Riot Police Fire Teargas At Refugees Campaigning To Leave Lesbos (G.)

Greek riot police fired teargas at protesting refugees clamouring to leave Lesbos as the situation on the island became more explosive days after devastating fires forced thousands to flee its notorious migrant camp. Tensions mounted as asylum seekers, desperate to make their way to other parts of Europe, watched authorities, including the Greek army, rush to replace the now gutted facility of Moria with a new holding centre. “Freedom, freedom,” demonstrators chanted under the watchful eye of riot police deployed to the Aegean isle from Athens. “We don’t need new camp … we want freedom,” proclaimed some of the crude handwritten placards held aloft by protesters on Saturday.

Witnesses reported teargas being fired after younger migrants began lobbing rocks at the police units. A series of overnight blazes starting on Tuesday razed Moria, Europe’s largest refugee camp, decanting close to 13,000 men, women and children into the surrounding countryside. With the exception of 406 lone migrant children who have been flown to the Greek mainland, the former residents have been left to fend for themselves, many making makeshift shelters out of tarps and bamboo reeds along the side of a main road leading to Mytilene, the island’s port capital. Others have camped in fields, olive groves, churches and even cemeteries.

Frustration, the insistence of Greek officials that transferal is out of the question and a growing realisation that any prospect of leaving is diminishing fast have helped create an increasingly toxic atmosphere. The destruction of containers housing the asylum service in Moria has further fuelled a prevailing sense of desperation among refugees. “The thought that they may be here for even longer now, the sight of the replacement camp and being stranded without proper shelter for days has, for many, become the tipping point,” said one aid worker requesting anonymity because she was not authorised to speak. Earlier, Greece’s alternate migration minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, told SKAI TV Lesbos was facing a public health emergency, “a triple challenge” that also involves “public order and national security”.

On Saturday a woman and her 20-month-old baby were flown to Athens where they will be hospitalised after testing positive for the virus. They were not among the original group, most of whom were described as asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19. With fears of infection rates increasing, some 200,000 Covid-19 rapid tests were flown into Lesbos on a specially chartered plane on Friday. “There are now real fears among our island’s residents of the virus spreading,” local journalist Yannis Sinanis told the Guardian. Officials were working around-the-clock to erect the new settlement, a collection of 500 tents with the capacity to accommodate six people each. Other asylum seekers are expected to be accommodated in a ferryboat and naval ships.

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“..the Academy has plans to strip the award from over 95% of the winners and give them all to Brokeback Mountain.”

Academy Strips ‘Schindler’s List’ Of Oscar Due To Lack Of Diversity (BBee)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has stripped Schindler’s List of its Best Motion Picture award for not having enough LGBTQ+ characters, people of color, and other oppressed groups. “Schindler’s List would have been a great movie if it just had a dozen transgendered characters,” said Le’Jon de Froofroo, spokesperson for the Academy. “As it is, there are just a bunch of Jews and Germans — very privileged races.” “Also, the movie has Nazis — this is the current year, for goodness’ sake!” Steven Spielberg has been ordered by the Academy to re-release the film with an unnecessary LGBTQ+ side plot, a gay roommate for Schindler, and a song and dance number set to a Lady Gaga song over the end credits if he wishes to re-earn the Academy Award. Otherwise, it will be re-awarded to Brokeback Mountain. This is just the first Oscar winner to be stripped of its award, as the Academy has plans to strip the award from over 95% of the winners and give them all to Brokeback Mountain.

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Sep 112020
 


René Magritte The Art of Conversation 1963

 

‘We Quarantined The Healthy And Exposed The Sick’ (JTN)
One in 100 COVID19 Patients Suffer Punctured Lung (RT)
UK Extradition Hearing For Julian Assange Postponed Over COVID19 Concerns (R.)
US Hinders Spanish Probe Into CIA Ties To Firm That Spied On Assange (ElPais)
Trump: If Woodward Found My Covid19 Quotes Dangerous, Why Sit On Them? (RT)
Senate Democrats Block GOP Relief Bill (Hill)
Schiff’s Latest ‘Whistleblower’ Probed By House Intel, IG, Fired From DHS (ZH)
Sidney Powell On Weissmann/Mueller Special Counsel Destroying Evidence (CT)
DOJ Records Show Members Of Mueller Team Wiped Phones During Trump Probe (Fox)
Say Goodbye To Globalization, ‘The Age Of Disorder’ Is Coming – Deutsche (RT)
Trouble Mounts For The ECB And Christine Lagarde (NaYM)
Misery In Moria Is Europe’s Migration Policy (Howden)
Macron: ‘Turkey Is No Longer A Partner In East Mediterranean’ (RT)
The Plot Against Libya: An Obama-Biden-Clinton Criminal Conspiracy (Draitser)

 

 

Not good: Global new daily cases set a new record. India adds about a third of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conspiracy or incompetence?

‘We Quarantined The Healthy And Exposed The Sick’ (JTN)

Citizens and public authorities fixated on society-wide lockdowns as a key measure to combat COVID-19 have failed to account for the devastating effects those measures can have on society as a whole, a Stanford professor of medicine says. Jay Bhattacharya, the director of Stanford’s Program on Medical Outcomes as well as the director of the school’s Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging, said in an interview this week on the John Solomon Reports podcast that he found it “shocking” that, as countless countries earlier this year moved to shut down ahead of COVID-19, so many had forgotten to “think about both the cost and benefits” of such policies. “Country after country made the same decision with a couple of exceptions,” Bhattacharya said. “And I think that was a major problem.”

The professor said the global community largely abandoned the playbooks followed during earlier pandemics, instead “jump[ing] to a global lockdown.” Bhattacharya alluded to the policies in states such as New York and Pennsylvania that instructed nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients, decisions which critics have claimed led to a significantly elevated death rate in nursing homes. “We essentially, in effect, exposed people who were at high risk in nursing homes, in assisted care facilities, elderly populations,” Bhattacharya said. “We essentially, in the early days of the epidemic, did the inverse of the right policy.” “We quarantined the healthy, and we exposed the sick,” he added.

The professor noted that the World Health Organization, early on in the pandemic, suggested that the death rate for the disease might be as high as 3.4%, significantly higher than that of seasonal influenza. Revised estimates have put that rate as low as 0.26%, though some studies have put it closer to 0.5%. Health institutions “were guided by models that were not based on actual data,” Bhattacharya said. “They were based on assumptions of worst cases.” He said such policy was a “worldwide phenomenon” and not limited to any one country. [..] “I can’t understand how so many people jumped to this mitigation strategy,” he added, “when there had been a playbook … to address the epidemic in ways that took into account both the cost and benefits of the policies.”

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There are 28 million cases and counting. That’s 280,000 punctured lungs.

One in 100 COVID19 Patients Suffer Punctured Lung (RT)

As many as one in every hundred patients hospitalized with Covid-19 suffer ‘punctured lung’ according to new research led by Cambridge University, further complicating treatment for those affected. Symptoms of a pneumothorax or ‘punctured lung’ include shortness of breath and sudden, stabbing chest pains that are exacerbated by taking deep breaths during the coughing fits associated with Covid-19. A punctured lung allows air to seep out and become trapped between the outside of the lung and the chest wall, eventually leading to the organ’s collapse under the accumulated pressure.

According to the new study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, tall young men or older patients with underlying lung disease were most at risk of suffering a punctured lung while undergoing treatment for severe Covid-19 infection (they are already considered at higher risk even before infection with the coronavirus). The Cambridge researchers behind the study used admissions data from the 16 hospitals and consulted colleagues across the UK who reported similar findings. “We started to see patients affected by a punctured lung, even among those who were not put on a ventilator,” says Professor Stefan Marciniak from the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research.

[..] even patients who would not fall into the aforementioned at-risk categories might suffer punctured lungs warned Marciniak, as many of the incidents of punctured lungs were diagnosed “by chance.” Almost two thirds of patients who suffered a punctured lung survived but the researchers recorded just a 42 percent survival rate for patients over 70. Men were three times more likely to suffer a punctured lung than women, possibly as a growing body of research indicates men are disproportionately affected by severe Covid-19 than women.

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Would they really mind if Julian gets infected?

UK Extradition Hearing For Julian Assange Postponed Over COVID19 Concerns (R.)

The London extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was postponed on Thursday because of concern that one of the lawyers involved might have been exposed to COVID-19. Assange is fighting extradition to the United States where he is wanted for conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011. Judge Vanessa Baraitser adjourned the case until Monday after being told one of the lawyers representing the United States might have been exposed to the virus. The lawyer was being tested on Thursday with the result due on Friday, she said. “At the moment we would respectfully submit we have to go ahead on the assumption that she has COVID,” Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer told London’s Old Bailey court where the hearings are taking place.


“If that is the correct assumption … we shouldn’t really be here: COVID would be here in the courtroom and it’s not possible to tell how far it’s extended,” he added. The extradition hearings began for a week in February and were due to resume in May, but were then delayed until this week because of the coronavirus lockdown. Assange’s lawyers have argued he should be granted bail because he himself is at particular risk from COVID-19 as he has suffered from respiratory infections and has had heart problems. However, the judge has ordered him to be kept in jail because he is considered a flight risk, having skipped bail and fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was wanted at the time to answer questions on alleged sex crimes. Those allegations have since been dropped.

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Investigating the CIA? Not done.

US Hinders Spanish Probe Into CIA Ties To Firm That Spied On Assange (ElPais)

There will be no judicial cooperation forthcoming from the United States unless a Spanish judge reveals his information sources in an investigation into alleged espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he was living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court (Audiencia Nacional) has sent a request for judicial cooperation to US authorities as part of his probe into a Spanish private security company named UC Global S.L. and its owner David Morales, on allegations that this firm secretly recorded Assange’s private meetings with lawyers, politicians, relatives and journalists at the embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid separate legal proceedings against him in Sweden.

Morales was arrested a year ago and released pending trial. According to testimony from several protected witnesses and former UC Global workers who gave evidence in connection with the case, Morales provided the CIA with recordings, video material and reports detailing the activities of the 49-year-old Australian cyber-activist inside the diplomatic mission, where he lived until his eviction in April 2019. Judge De la Mata, who is heading the probe into UC Global, has asked US prosecutors for the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the computers or other networked devices that allegedly connected from American soil to a server held by the private security firm at its headquarters in the southern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera.

That server stored all the recordings made by cameras at the embassy, where UC Global was in charge of security, as well as reports drafted by company employees detailing each visit that Assange received, images of the visitors’ passports, and photographs of their cellphones and electronic devices. According to testimony by several ex-workers as well as e-mails used as evidence in the investigation, US intelligence services allegedly had access to this central server. US prosecutors have now sent a letter to María de las Heras, a liaison judge for Spain in the US, asking her to convey their demands to De la Mata. These include showing proof that the requested IP addresses are “relevant and substantial to the investigation.”

The document requests further details about the Spanish probe, including the sources of information for most of the assertions made in the request for judicial cooperation. The Spanish judge has been asked to answer a long list of questions regarding every aspect of his investigation, including who he believes that Morales was providing information to, or whether the judge thinks Morales was working for a foreign information service or as an agent for a foreign power – or whether it was simply a case of bribery. US prosecutors have asked for all this information to be relayed before October 16, otherwise “we will assume that Spanish authorities are not interested” and the request will be shelved.

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Woodward knew Trump said what he did after having been briefed by O’Brien. Who’s not a scientist. And that Trump right after talked to Fauci et al, who didn’t agree with the assessment.

Trump: If Woodward Found My COVID19 Quotes Dangerous, Why Sit On Them? (RT)

Donald Trump is hitting back at Bob Woodward’s claims that he downplayed the deadliness of Covid-19, saying if the veteran reporter really felt his approach to the pandemic was “dangerous” he should have made it public sooner. “Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?” the president tweeted on Thursday. Audio from Woodward’s interview with Trump discussing the coronavirus was recorded in February. It has now been released just a few weeks before Woodward’s book ‘Rage’ goes on sale — and there are reportedly more tapes soon to drop. Trump questioned whether Woodward had an “obligation” to come forward if he really felt his thoughts on the virus were so bad. “Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!” he tweeted.


In the released audio, the president admits Covid-19 is “deadly” and worse than the flu. He also says he will “always play it down” so he doesn’t create public panic. Weeks after the audio was recorded, Trump publicly compared Covid-19 to the common flu. He also made public comments suggesting that the virus would eventually just “go away.” At a Wednesday press conference, the president slammed Woodward’s book and audio as a “political hit job.” While Woodward’s work is being celebrated by Trump critics, parts of his book have been disputed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who works on the White House coronavirus task force. Fauci claims he does “not recall” uttering several negative quotes about the president attributed to him in the book — and said Trump “didn’t really say anything different” about the pandemic in private than he did in public.

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Or the other way around, depending on your affiliation.

Senate Democrats Block GOP Relief Bill (Hill)

Senate Democrats blocked a GOP coronavirus bill on Thursday amid a deep stalemate over the next relief package. Senators voted 52-47 on the roughly $500 billion Republican bill, which marked the first coronavirus-related legislation the chamber has voted on since it passed a $484 billion package in April. The vote handed a symbolic victory to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who spent weeks haggling with Republicans and the White House over the contours of the pared-down GOP bill as he sought to overcome deep divisions over the path forward. GOP leadership worked behind the scenes to lock down 51 votes, a U-turn from last month when McConnell predicted that up to 20 GOP senators wouldn’t vote for any additional legislation.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) was the only Republican to vote against the bill on Thursday. But it failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome Thursday’s procedural hurdle as congressional Democratic leadership and the White House remain at a standoff over a fifth coronavirus package. The brinkmanship was on full display ahead of Thursday’s vote, with McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) trading barbs on the Senate floor. [..] there’s no sign that congressional Democrats or the White House is willing to break the stalemate.

Mnuchin, Meadows, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remain far apart not only on the price tag but also on significant policy issues including unemployment insurance and more money for state and local governments. Republicans unveiled a $1.1 trillion bill in late July, and Mnuchin has suggested the White House could go as high as $1.5 trillion. But he’s also suggested this week that his focus is shifting to an end-of-the-month deadline to fund the government. There are no talks currently scheduled between the foursome.

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That record’s definitely broken.

Schiff’s Latest ‘Whistleblower’ Probed By House Intel, IG, Fired From DHS (ZH)

On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has unveiled a new whistleblower – former DHS intelligence official Brian Murphy, who claims that Trump administration officials at the White House and Department of Homeland Security suppressed intelligence reports that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election, and ‘altered intelligence’ related to comments made by President Trump. “We’ve received a whistleblower complaint alleging DHS suppressed intel reports on Russian election interference, altered intel to match false Trump claims and made false statements to Congress,” Schiff tweeted, adding “We will investigate.” Except, Schiff did investigate – his whistleblower – for allegedly ‘providing incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff,’ according to the New York Times.


Not only that, Murphy was fired from his job as the head of DHS’s intelligence branch and reassigned after he compiled reports about protesters and journalists reporting on the Trump administration’s response to the riots in Portland, Oregon in July. “Brian Murphy, the acting under secretary for intelligence and analysis, was reassigned to a new position in the department after his office disseminated to the law enforcement community “open-source intelligence reports” containing Twitter posts of journalists, noting they had published leaked unclassified documents, according to an administration official familiar with the matter. It was not clear what Mr. Murphy’s new position would be.” -New York Times As a result of Murphy’s actions, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf asked the Inspector General to investigate.

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“Sullivan’s court appointed amicus response brief is due [today]..”

Sidney Powell On Weissmann/Mueller Special Counsel Destroying Evidence (CT)

Michael Flynn defense attorney Sidney Powell appears for an interview with Liz MacDonald to discuss the developments in the Flynn case (note: Sullivan’s court appointed amicus response brief is due tomorrow), and the background information recently highlighted. As you review this interview, retain the 30,000/ft perspective. Ms. Powell also discusses the Weissmann/Mueller special counsel erasing evidence by wiping phones and hiding evidence of their corrupt activity. Additionally, Liz Mac circles back to the 2017 FISA report by Rosemary Collyer to support the most recent 2019 opinion filed by the FISA court showing the NSA database search abuse is ongoing.

(1) We know to a demonstrable certainty the special counsel took apart the FBI investigative file of Washington Field Office Supervisory Special Agent Brian Dugan in order to protect their corrupt investigation and the collaborative effort of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And Durham/Aldenberg knows that we know. (2) We also know with a high degree of certainty the special counsel created a missing Woods File for the Carter Page application when the IG started sniffing around and announced his intent to review the four FISA applications. And Durham/Aldenberg knows that we have strong, very strong, evidence pointing in that direction. (3) And now today we discover the same special counsel team destroyed their iPhones in an effort to cover their tracks. These three events all happened within an almost identical time-frame. C‘mon man… this is not coincidental.

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“At least 27 phones used by the Mueller team were wiped before they could be checked for records.”

DOJ Records Show Members Of Mueller Team Wiped Phones During Trump Probe (Fox)

Newly released records from the Department of Justice show that the cell phones of multiple people on then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team were “wiped” for various reasons during the probe. The records show at least several dozen phones were wiped of information because of forgotten passcodes, irreparable screen damage, loss of the device, intentional deletion or other reasons — and came before the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) could review the devices. The documents show that Mueller deputy Andrew Weissman “accidentally wiped” his phone twice after entering the wrong passcode too many times in March 2018. Lawyer James Quarles’ phone “wiped itself” without his intervention, the records say. The documents were released after a lawsuit from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.


[..] The records indicate Attorney Greg Andres phone was also wiped due to a forgotten passcode. And they say the phones of both Mueller deputy Kyle Freeny and Rush Atkinson were wiped accidentally after they entered the wrong passcode too many times. The records say that a phone belonging to FBI lawyer Lisa Page – whose anti-Trump texts with FBI agent Peter Strzok were of interest to investigators — was restored to factory settings when the inspector general’s office received it. Other officials, whose names are redacted, claim to have unintentionally restored their phone to its factory settings, deleting all records of communication. Next to the name of one redacted person, the record says: “Phone was in airplane mode, no passcode provided, data unable to be recovered so had to be wiped.”

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“The analysts note that the Chinese economy will be closing the gap with the US and could finally outperform it by the end of the decade.”

But doesn’t China’s growth come from globalization?

Say Goodbye To Globalization, ‘The Age Of Disorder’ Is Coming – Deutsche (RT)

The four-decade era of globalization may be coming to an end, and we could be entering “The Age of Disorder,” which will reshape both economies and politics, Deutsche Bank analysts have said in a new research note. One of the key characteristics of the new era will be the reversal of unfettered globalization, a team of analysts led by strategist Jim Reid predicted. While we saw “the best combined asset price growth of any era in history, with equity and bond returns very strong across the board” since 1980, “the Age of Disorder” is likely to break this trend. Deteriorating US-China relations is another theme (out of eight) that will define the next distinct era of modern times, “which is hastened, but not caused by, the pandemic.” The analysts note that the Chinese economy will be closing the gap with the US and could finally outperform it by the end of the decade.

“A clash of cultures and interests therefore beckons, especially as China grows closer to being the largest economy in the world,” the report says. Fortunately, this economic standoff is unlikely to trigger a real military conflict between the two states, as usually happens when a rising power tries to challenge the ruling one. Economic war – with tariffs, sanctions, and attacks in the technology sphere – will go on instead, the analysts believe. No matter who wins the 2020 presidential election in the US, the rift between the two superpowers will grow. While the coronavirus crisis has already put the European economy at a crossroads, Deutsche Bank says that the next decade may become “a make-or-break decade for Europe.” Among other factors defining the future are higher debt and helicopter money (distributing cash to the public) becoming mainstream – policies which are likely to spike inflation.

Inequality may even get worse in the post-Covid-19 world, before a backlash and reversal takes place, the bank says. Inequality is closely connected with the intergenerational gap, but the analysts expect that the number of younger voters will exceed those born before 1980 by the end of the decade. This could lead to major policy changes in many spheres – from taxes to climate.

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Doctors and pharmacists always tend to play “hard to understand”. And so do central bankers.

Trouble Mounts For The ECB And Christine Lagarde (NaYM)

Today is ECB ( European Central Bank ) day where we get the results of their latest deliberations. We may get a minor move but essentially it is one for what we have come to call open mouth operations. This is more than a little awkward when the President has already established a reputation for putting her Hermes shod foot in her mouth. Who can forget this from March 12th? “Lagarde: We are not here to close spreads, there are other tools and other actors to deal with these issues.” If you are ever not sure of the date just take a look at a chart of the Italian government bond market as it is the time when the benchmark ten-year yield doubled. As many put it the ECB had gone from “Whatever it takes” to “Whatever.”

This issue has continued and these days President Lagarde reads from a script written for her which begs the issue of whether the questions from the press corps are known in advance? It also begs the issue of who is actually in charge? This is all very different from when prompted by an admiring Financial Time representative she was able to describe herself as a “wise owl” like her brooch. Whoever was in charge got her to change her tune substantially on CNBC later and got a correcting footnote in the minutes. “I am fully committed to avoid any fragmentation in a difficult moment for the euro area. High spreads due to the coronavirus impair the transmission of monetary policy. We will use the flexibility embedded in the asset purchase programme, including within the public sector purchase programme. The package approved today can be used flexibly to avoid dislocations in bond markets, and we are ready to use the necessary determination and strength.”

Next comes her promise to unify the ECB Governing Council and have it singing from the same hymn sheet, unlike the term of her predecessor Mario Draghi. This has been crumbling over the past day or two as we have received reports of better economic expectations from some ECB members. This has been solidified by this in Eurofi magazine today. “Now that we have moved past the impact phase of the shock, we can shift our attention toward the recovery phase. Recently, forward looking confidence indicators look robust, while high frequency data suggest that mobility is recovering. These developments solidify the confidence in our baseline projection with a more favorable balance-of-risks. However, even if no further setbacks materialize economic activity will only approach pre-corona levels at the end of 2022.”

That is from Klass Knot the head of the DNB or Netherlands central bank and any doubts about his view are further expunged below. “Relying too heavily on monetary policy to get the job done might have contributed to perceptions of a “central bank put” in the recovery from the euro area debt crisis, where the ECB bore all of the downside risk to the economy.” Might?!

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Sleeping by the side of the road with little children, while cars rush by. The local stores won’t sell them anything, including water.

Misery In Moria Is Europe’s Migration Policy (Howden)

Five years ago, when the refugee camp at Moria was still just a bad idea, a local army officer was asked to assess the site. Surveying the hillside of olive groves, Stavros Miroyiannis warned the authorities they were going to “build a favela.” If they had to choose this site, he said, they should at least plan the camp as they would a village. They ignored him on both counts. Miroyiannis would go on to put his own advice into practice a few kilometers away as the camp manager at Lesvos’ much smaller and more humane Kara Tepe camp. Meanwhile, Moria, which burned to the ground this week, came to resemble a detention camp and function like the slum he predicted. And yet, while the ashes of Moria are still smoldering, the one certainty is that it will be rebuilt.

Moria, in all its miserable, dehumanizing squalor, was designed to be that way. It was not a mistake. The camp was the product of political calculations in Brussels and European capitals and that calculus has not changed. It is fireproof. When thousands, and then tens of thousands, of asylum seekers began to arrive by sea on Greece’s islands in 2015, the European Union’s strategic response was the creation of so-called “hot spots.” Moria was the largest and most notorious of these, and its architecture and evolution most graphically demonstrated its true intention. Its concrete terraces, nested fences and razor wire amounted to an anti-shelter. It was not meant to receive and give shelter, it was a spectacle intended to deter future asylum seekers.

Moria became the emblem of an EU deterrence policy in which the warehousing of asylum seekers in humiliating circumstances was the point. Any other approach was and is seen as creating a “pull factor” that will attract another 2015-style surge of arrivals. Migration experts have spent the last five years explaining to policymakers why this is not true but the base assumption has proven to be impervious to evidence. The European deterrence consensus is concealed behind technocratic jargon like “managed migration” but it is really evidence that the Continent prefers to pay the poor to contain the poorest. Europe’s leaders no longer care whether human warehouse fees are paid to Turkey or to Greece, or spent on a lower cost per capita basis in Jordan or Lebanon. The deal that underpins the consensus was the EU-Turkey statement unveiled in 2016.

That agreement foresaw Turkey preventing the departure for Europe of the vast majority of asylum seekers in return for billions of euros in financial assistance. The terms transformed refugees and migrants into a commodity that could be leveraged by the unpredictable and autocratic regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan When the deal collapsed six months ago, it quickly became apparent that there were no new ideas on the EU side. All diplomatic efforts have dwelt on renegotiating the old deal with some minor tweaks. Meanwhile, the dreadful logic of its original terms has reached its inevitable, damaging conclusion: People trying to access asylum in Europe are cast not as “people like us” but an invading horde — weapons in an asymmetric war.

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“We must be tough with the Turkish government and not with the Turkish people who deserve more than the Erdogan government..”

Macron: ‘Turkey Is No Longer A Partner In East Mediterranean’ (RT)

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the French president’s critical comments on the standoff in the eastern Mediterranean are a sign “of his own weakness and despair.” Macron “has again made an arrogant… statement,” the ministry in Ankara said after the French president urged European leaders earlier in the day to stand up to Turkey’s “unacceptable provocations.” He hosted an emergency summit in Corsica with seven leaders of EU countries that border the Mediterranean Sea at a time when Ankara seeks to expand its energy resources and influence in the eastern Mediterranean. The meeting came amid fears of an open conflict with Turkey stemming from tensions over offshore oil and gas drilling. Ankara has already lashed out at France and the EU for siding with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute.

Ahead of the Med-7 Summit, Macron said that “Turkey is no longer a partner in the Mediterranean region.” He made it clear that the meeting was summoned to clarify “red lines” if a “fruitful dialogue” with Turkey was to restart. The EU states should avoid an escalation, but that does not mean they should be passive in disputes with Ankara, Macron said. “We must be tough with the Turkish government and not with the Turkish people who deserve more than the Erdogan government,” the French leader was quoted as saying. “All unilateral actions of Turkey, such as the Turkish-Libyan memorandum, without respecting the rights of Greece, are unacceptable.”

Apart from the Foreign Ministry in Ankara, Turkey’s ruling party did not leave Macron’s comments unnoticed either, accusing him of extending his country’s “long history of colonialism.” Omer Celik, spokesman for the Justice and Development (AK) Party, described the French leader’s statement as an “old and immoral game” of colonialists. “They offered a false show of love to exploit the people, but targeted patriotic leaders,” he tweeted.

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“The cattle brands on their faces tell a story more tragic than anything produced by Hollywood. These are slaves: human beings bought and sold for their labor.”

The Plot Against Libya: An Obama-Biden-Clinton Criminal Conspiracy (Draitser)

The scorching desert sun streams through narrow slats in the tiny window. A mouse scurries across the cracked concrete floor, the scuttling of its tiny feet drowned out by the sound of distant voices speaking in Arabic. Their chatter is in a western Libyan dialect distinctive from the eastern dialect favored in Benghazi. Somewhere off in the distance, beyond the shimmering desert horizon, is Tripoli, the jewel of Africa now reduced to perpetual war. But here, in this cell in a dank old warehouse in Bani Walid, there are no smugglers, no rapists, no thieves or murderers. There are simply Africans captured by traffickers as they made their way from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, or other disparate parts of the continent seeking a life free of war and poverty, the rotten fruit of Anglo-American and European colonialism.

The cattle brands on their faces tell a story more tragic than anything produced by Hollywood. These are slaves: human beings bought and sold for their labor. Some are bound for construction sites while others for the fields. All face the certainty of forced servitude, a waking nightmare that has become their daily reality. This is Libya, the real Libya. The Libya that has been constructed from the ashes of the US-NATO war that deposed Muammar Gaddafi and the government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The Libya now fractured into warring factions, each backed by a variety of international actors whose interest in the country is anything but humanitarian. But this Libya was built not by Donald Trump and his gang of degenerate fascist ghouls.

No, it was the great humanitarian Barack Obama, along with Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Susan Rice, Samantha Power and their harmonious peace circle of liberal interventionists who wrought this devastation. With bright-eyed speeches about freedom and self-determination, the First Black President, along with his NATO comrades in France and Britain, unleashed the dogs of war on an African nation seen by much of the world as a paragon of economic and social development. But this is no mere journalistic exercise to document just one of the innumerable crimes carried out in the name of the American people. No, this is us, the antiwar left in the United States, peering through the cracks in the imperial artifice – crumbling as it is from internal rot and political decay – to shine a light through the gloom named Trump and directly into the heart of darkness. There are truths that must be made plain lest they be buried like so many bodies in the desert sand.

To understand the depth of criminality involved in the US-NATO war on Libya, we must unravel a complex story involving actors from both the US and Europe who quite literally conspired to bring about this war, while simultaneously exposing the unconstitutional, imperial presidency as embodied by Mr. Hope and Change himself. In doing so, a picture emerges that is strikingly at odds with the dominant narrative about good intentions and bad dictators. For although Gaddafi was presented as the villain par excellence in this story told by the Empire’s scribes in corporate media, it is in fact Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy, French philosopher-cum-neocolonial adventurist Bernard Henri-Levy, and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who are the real malevolent forces. It was they, not Gaddafi, who waged a blatantly illegal war on false pretenses and for their own aggrandizement. It was they, not Gaddafi, who conspired to plunge Libya into chaos and civil war from which it is yet to emerge. It was they who beat the war drums while proclaiming peace on earth and good will to men.

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Sep 092020
 
 September 9, 2020  Posted by at 9:29 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Pablo Picasso The Dream 1932

 

Assange Legal Team Focuses On US Torture And War Crimes (Gosztola)
Politics and Violence Go Hand in Hand (Knapp)
Scott Adams: Trump Is The Most Successful Stand-Up Comic Ever (RCP)
Biden Loses His Florida Lead As Latino Voters Shift To Trump (Week)
Docs Show Former Officials “In Real Trouble” In Durham Probe – Meadows (ET)
Vindman, Not Whistleblower, Was Driving Force Behind Impeachment (Fed.)
On-the-Record Sources, Paper Trail Rebut Anonymous Atlantic Claims (JTN)
AstraZeneca COVID19 Vaccine Trial Put On Hold Due To Adverse Reaction (STAT)
England To Ban Gatherings Of More Than 6 People As Coronavirus Cases Spike (AP)
Britons Scrambling To Get Back Home From Greek Islands On UK Red List (K.)
Netherlands Puts All Greek Islands On Orange Travel List (K.)
35 Migrants In Moria Found Positive For Coronavirus (K.)
1,000s Flee Fire At Moria Migrant Camp On Virus Lockdown In Greece (K.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CNN’s Zucker wanted to give Trump a show

 

 

“Lewis insisted the U.S. government only charged Assange with documents that revealed the names of informants..”

Assange personally redacted out 10,000 names in one night after the journalists at the Guardian etc. refused to do it. He’s the only one who cared.

Assange Legal Team Focuses On US Torture And War Crimes (Gosztola)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team spent the second morning of a major extradition hearing focusing a magistrate court judge’s attention on United States torture and war crimes that Assange helped to expose. Defense attorney Mark Summers called Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights attorney who has represented prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to the witness stand. He was asked about human rights cases he pursued, which were bolstered by revelations in documents WikiLeaks published. For example, Stafford Smith told Judge Vanessa Baraitser that U.S. State Department cables helped those impacted by U.S. drone killings in Pakistan. It contributed to “court findings that US drone strikes are criminal offenses and that criminal proceedings should be initiated against senior U.S. officials involved in such strikes.”

A high court in Pakistan ruled “drone strikes carried out by the CIA and U.S. authorities were a ‘blatant violation of basic human rights’ including ‘a blatant breach of the absolute right to life’ and ‘a war crime,’” Stafford Smith declared in a statement to the court. Due to the decision, drone strikes that caused many “innocent deaths” stopped “very rapidly.” None were reported in 2019. The defense had Stafford Smith testify in order to persuade the court that Assange “disclosed U.S. involvement in criminal activity.” Specifically, these were “public interest disclosures” of war crimes and torture. Some of the publications are currently the subject of a criminal investigation into the CIA that is before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In other words, the prosecution against Assange is retaliation for bringing increased scrutiny to U.S. actions throughout the world.

But James Lewis, the lawyer representing the Crown Prosecution Authority on behalf of the U.S. government, was irritated by the defense’s focus on documents that exposed torture and war crimes. Lewis insisted the U.S. government only charged Assange with documents that revealed the names of informants, and none of the materials Stafford Smith was asked about mattered in the extradition case. [..]

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Word. But not sure I would say Power Corrupts. I think the people seeking power are already mentally corrupted.

Politics and Violence Go Hand in Hand (Knapp)

“[W]e currently have an inferno of political violence to which the president of the United States adds fuel,” Jennifer Rubin thunders from her bully pulpit at the Washington Post. “[I]t is time for bipartisan voices, local and state leaders, police and other first responders, civic and religious leaders, and all responsible media outlets to try to quench the flames of violence.” Rubin is no lone voice in the wilderness. As America’s latest long hot summer drags into autumn, politicians and pundits are getting louder and more shrill in their denunciations of political violence. Considering the sources, those denunciations smack of hypocrisy. In another Post column published the very same day as her rant against political violence, Rubin tells us US Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) should be “revered and thanked for her courage and service to the country.”

Duckworth lost her legs co-piloting a helicopter during the US occupation of Iraq. That is, engaging in unambiguously political violence on behalf of the US government. Rubin denounces political violence out of one side of her mouth while lionizing it out of the other. Politics as we know it today is entirely based on violence and the threat of violence. That’s most obvious in the case of war, in which governments settle their political conflicts by sending forth their armed servants in large numbers to murder one another (and anyone else with the bad luck to get in the way), but don’t be fooled: Every government edict, at home and abroad, is backed by the credible threat of violence.

According to the Declaration of Independence, government exists to protect our rights. It may only legitimately use force to do so, and to bring to justice those who violate those rights. If government accomplished that mission and went no further, it might be an acceptable, even worthwhile institution. But it doesn’t accomplish that mission very well, and it inevitably turns the inch it’s given into miles. Why? Because the problem with power, as Lord Acton noted, is that it corrupts. Governments, and those who run and rely on them, always turn from the task of protecting our rights to increasing their power. At the far, not always visible, end of every government demand — a speed limit, a tax code, a drug prohibition, what have you — stand men and women with guns, waiting to cage or kill you for non-compliance or defiance.

As for democracy, as currently practiced it’s merely a contest to see who gives armed enforcers their marching orders. America’s two “major” political parties don’t want to end political violence; they merely want control of those they deem its “legitimate” combatants. The present conflagration — marches in the streets, clashes between protesters and police, cities on fire — shouldn’t surprise us. Sometimes the state’s victims fight back. And then the state pours on even more force, because that’s its nature. It’s a cycle that can only be broken by abolishing the state itself. Which means that only anarchists enjoy moral standing to denounce political violence.

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“We’ve decided to call all our rallies peaceful protests.”

 

 

Scott has his own way of looking at things. Is he that far off here?

Scott Adams: Trump Is The Most Successful Stand-Up Comic Ever (RCP)

During Monday morning’s “Coffee With Scott Adams” podcast, the comedian and ‘Dilbert’ creator again discussed Joe Biden’s repeated references to what Adams calls the “fine people in Charlottesville” race hoax. Last week, Adams extensively explained how a simple edited video has convinced tens of millions of people that President Trump ever praised members of hate groups after the deadly clash in Charlottesville 2017. This week, he compared the “fine people” hoax to the newest outrage about the president, The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg’s “anonymous source” alleging that the president insulted those buried in an American war cemetery during a visit to France in 2018.

According to Adams, the common thread between why so many people believe these claims to be true without any evidence (or even in the face of counterevidence) could be that they simply have no sense of humor. People hate the president so much because they literally can’t recognize the difference between an off-color joke and violent hate speech. Adams described a conversation he had on Twitter with an actress who said she believed the claims in Goldberg’s article because of the joke Trump made in 2015 about John McCain not being a war hero because he was “captured.” “This is typical Trump, he is a dumb, hate-filled liar and misogynist!” Scott’s Twitter correspondent said. “When I saw that I commented back [that] Trump told a Chris Rock joke about McCain because Chris Rock actually did that same joke before Trump did,” Adams replied.

“And then I said, you literally want to overthrow the government because you don’t recognize a joke. That’s actually what happened, this is someone who wants to get rid of Trump at any cost in part because she doesn’t recognize a joke. So, I said maybe the problem’s on your end.” She responded: “B.S. Circus with Trump’s trained Monkeys defending his stupidities. What’s wrong with you people? Who cares if Chris Rock made a joke?” “See where this is going?” Scott asked, holding back a laugh. “She has now acknowledged that the president told a joke. She did not know until I explained it that it was a joke. So now she has to change her objection from being a horrible thing he said, to ‘Yeah, it was a joke but it was still horrible, and here’s why.'” She responded: “A president must know better than to say something like that! There are better things to quote as president, how do you fall for this crap?”

“Now, she also said earlier that Trump had no sense of humor, therefore it couldn’t be a joke. To which I pointed out that he is the most successful stand-up comedian in the history of humanity. His rallies with gigantic audiences are literally stand-up comedy. He does it to entertain. He literally says funny things and his audience laughs. And they go because he will say funny things that will make them laugh. He’s literally the most successful stand-up comedian in the history of civilization if you look at the numbers of people who go in person,” Adams revealed. “You have to admit the reason the crowd is so big is because he brings entertainment and humor.”

Chris Rock

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Uh-oh.

Biden Loses His Florida Lead As Latino Voters Shift To Trump (Week)

The sun may be setting on Democrats’ hopes of picking up Florida. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has seemingly lost his advantage over President Trump in the crucial swing state of Florida, an NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday found. A lot of that shift seemingly stems from Florida’s Latino voters, who have gone from resoundingly supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 to actually tipping in Trump’s favor this time around, the poll showed. Less than two months before election day, Biden and Trump are tied in Florida with 48 percent support among likely Florida voters. Biden had previously pulled as much as a 13-point lead over Trump in Florida. That dip comes as a majority of Latino respondents say they’re voting for Trump over Biden, 50-46 percent; Latino voters went for Clinton 62-35 in 2016.


A poll from the Miami Herald and Bendixen & Amandi International backed up NBC News’ findings, at least in Miami-Dade County. Biden still has a strong advantage, 55-38 percent, in the heavily Democratic part of the state, the Tuesday poll found. But it’s not the best news considering Clinton won that county by 30 points in 2016 and still lost the state by 1.2 points. In addition, the Miami Herald poll found Trump and Biden are splitting Hispanic voters, 47-46, though there’s a larger margin of error among that smaller subset. NBC News/Marist surveyed 766 likely Florida voters from Aug. 31–Sept. 6, with a 4.5 percentage point margin of error. The Miami Herald poll surveyed 500 likely Miami-Dade voters from Sept. 1–4, with a margin of error of 4.4 points.

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Wonder if the Durham report will ever come out.

Docs Show Former Officials “In Real Trouble” In Durham Probe – Meadows (ET)

Newly reviewed documents show that former FBI agent Peter Strzok and other officials involved in the counter-intelligence probe against Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign are in trouble, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said. U.S. Attorney John Durham is reviewing the origins of that investigation and landed his first guilty plea last month. While he doesn’t have visibility into the timeline of Durham’s probe, Meadows said he’s reviewed additional documents that “say that a number of the players, the Peter Strzoks, the Andy McCabes, the James Comeys – and even others in the administration previously – are in real trouble because of their willingness to participate in an unlawful act.”

“And I use the word unlawful at best, it broke all kinds of protocols and at worst people should go to jail as I mentioned previously,” Meadows said during a virtual appearance on Fox Business’ “Mornings With Maria” on Monday. Strzok, McCabe, and Comey are former high-level FBI officials. Strzok, best known for exchanging biased text messages about Trump with an FBI lawyer he was having an affair with, was fired by FBI officials in 2018. The former agent sat down for an interview with CBS that ran over the weekend. He insisted that the counter-intelligence probe, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, was opened on a legitimate basis. Meadows said it was easy for Strzok to make claims when not under oath.

“In all of his interview, I can tell you this: It’s not backed up by the facts. It’s not backed up by documents that I’ve seen. And ultimately his house of cards will come falling down,” Meadows said. The facts that have come out show that officials treated Trump “very differently, in an inappropriate way, and they must be held accountable,” he added. Durham’s criminal investigation is being kept under tight wraps, prompting much speculation about when another development will come, or even if any other people will be charged. Trey Gowdy, a Fox News contributor who used to serve in the House of Representatives, said over the weekend that there’s concern that Durham “is dragging his feet.” Durham, he said, “is going to access documents that the FBI never shared with Congress and he’ll write the definitive accounting of what happened.”

“Whether or not there’ll be more indictments or not, I don’t know and I like to assume that there will not be,” he said, adding: “That puts me in a small minority, but I’m assuming that the Clinesmith indictment will be the only one.” Kevin Clinesmith recently pleaded guilty to altering an email to say Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, was not a CIA asset when the CIA had said the exact opposite. The altered email was used to obtain spy warrants against Page, enabling the FBI to conduct surveillance against Page and people he was linked to in the future and past. Meadows, meanwhile, said Trump supports the declassification of all documents, along with full transparency. “He has nothing to hide,” he said.

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New book. Vindman was the whistleblower, but nobody knew it. That allowed him to be a witness – twice.

Vindman, Not Whistleblower, Was Driving Force Behind Impeachment (Fed.)

The most interesting thing about Byron York’s exhaustively reported and richly detailed new impeachment book, “Obsession: Inside the Washington Establishment’s Never-Ending War on Trump,” is that the whistleblower who filed the official complaint that got impeachment rolling isn’t ever identified. It turns out that the heated discussion over the whistleblower, who was previously identified by Real Clear Investigations as the CIA’s Eric Ciaramella, was a diversion from allowing the American people to understand who was the actual instigator of the failed effort to oust President Donald Trump from office.

Rather than being a witness who independently supported the claims of the whistleblower, the National Security Council’s Lt. Col Alex Vindman was the driving force behind the entire operation, according to the book’s interviews with key figures in the impeachment probe and other evidence. The whistleblower’s information came directly from Vindman, investigators determined. “Vindman was the person on the call who went to the whistleblower after the call, to give the whistleblower the information he needed to file his complaint,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. “For all intents and purposes, Vindman is the whistleblower here, but he was able to get somebody else to do his dirty work for him,” explained one senior congressional aide.

[..] In his complaint, the whistleblower claimed “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call” described to him the contents of the conversation. It is unclear if he was sourcing his knowledge just to multiple Vindmans or any other White House officials. The description of the call appeared to come from the White House’s rough transcript, which Vindman helped prepare. It repeated Vindman’s unique interpretation of the call as seeking foreign interference in a campaign. It mentioned that lawyers had been informed, and Vindman had done just that. The complaint also included information from public news reports.

At first Schiff publicly promised that the whistleblower would testify and that any attempt by the White House to thwart that would be fought vigorously. But then news broke that Schiff’s office had worked with the whistleblower prior to him filing his complaint. Schiff switched his stance to refusing to allow the whistleblower to testify. What’s more, he refused to allow any investigation into how the Ukraine investigation began. [..] Vindman repeatedly said that he viewed Trump’s phone call with Zelensky as “wrong,” but he was unable to articulate precisely why. He expressed frustration that the elected president was pushing a foreign policy at odds from the “interagency consensus” of the bureaucracy that he felt should control foreign policy.

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I count 15. That does not include Bolton. But it doesn’t matter, the story is out there, it’s doing its damage, and who cares if it’s true? Because what are the odds the Atlantic will be sued over it?

On-the-Record Sources, Paper Trail Rebut Anonymous Atlantic Claims (JTN)

Trump advisor Derek Lyons: “I was with the President the morning after the scheduled visit. He was extremely disappointed that arrangements could not be made to get him to the site and that the trip had been canceled. I have worked for the President for his entire administration. One of my responsibilities is working with him on the many letters he signs to the families of our nation’s fallen heroes. In all my time at the White House, I have never heard him utter a disparaging remark, of any kind, about our troops. In my view, he holds the brave men and women of our armed forces in the highest regard.”

U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco Jamie McCourt: “In my presence, POTUS has NEVER denigrated any member of the U.S. military or anyone in service to our country. And he certainly did not that day, either. Let me add, he was devastated to not be able to go to the cemetery at Belleau Wood. In fact, the next day, he attended and spoke at the ceremony in Suresnes in the pouring rain.” Trump Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino: “I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all. Complete lies by ‘anonymous sources’…” Trump Senior Advisor Stephen Miller: “The President deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call.” Former presidential advisor Johnny DeStefano: “I was on this trip. The Atlantic bit is not true. Period.”

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Walsh: “I can attest to the fact that there was a bad weather call in France and that the helicopters were unable to safely make the flight. Overall, the President’s support and respect for our American troops, past and present, is unquestionable.” Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: “I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion — this never happened.” Former Deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes: “I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather.” Maj. General (Ret.) William Matz: “No one has done more for our veterans than President Trump, and he enjoys a relationship of mutual affection and honor with those who wear and have worn the uniform of the United States military and their families. Those who know President Trump know that the anonymous smears peddled by The Atlantic have no basis in fact or reality, and do a terrible disservice to journalism and to our veterans, living and deceased.”

Secretary Of Defense Mark Esper: “President Trump has the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families. That is why he has fought for greater pay and more funding for our armed forces.” Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo: “I’ve been with this president now for coming on four years. I’ve never heard the president use the language that assertively is said in that article.” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie: Denied ever hearing President Trump make such remarks: “Absolutely not.” Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato: Denied the Atlantic’s story.

Lt. General and National Security Advisor to Vice President Pence Keith Kellogg: “The Atlantic story is completely false. Absolutely lacks merit. I’ve been by the President’s side. He has always shown the highest respect to our active duty troops and veterans with utmost respect paid to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those wounded in battle.” Former Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney: “I never heard the President disparage our war dead or wounded. In fact, the exact opposite is true. I was with him at the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. As we flew over the beaches by helicopter he was outwardly in awe of the accomplishments of the Allied Forces, and the sacrifices they paid.”

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So surprised.

AstraZeneca Covid19 Vaccine Trial Put On Hold Due To Adverse Reaction (STAT)

A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” In a follow-up statement, AstraZeneca said it initiated the study hold. The nature of the adverse reaction and when it happened were not immediately known, though the participant is expected to recover, according to an individual familiar with the matter.


The spokesperson described the pause as “a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.” The spokesperson also said that the company is “working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.” An individual familiar with the development said researchers had been told the hold was placed on the trial out of “an abundance of caution.” A second individual familiar with the matter, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the finding is having an impact on other AstraZeneca vaccine trials underway — as well as on the clinical trials being conducted by other vaccine manufacturers.

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Boy, what a mess that country is. I can see the experts brainstorming for hours: 5, no 7, how about 8? Raise your hand for 6!

England To Ban Gatherings Of More Than 6 People As Coronavirus Cases Spike (AP)

Britain’s government is banning gatherings of more than six people in England, as officials try to keep a lid on daily new coronavirus infections after a sharp spike across the U.K. that has been largely blamed on party-going young adults disregarding social distancing rules. Downing Street said urgent action was needed after the number of daily laboratory-confirmed positive cases hit nearly 3,000 on Sunday. The figure dipped Tuesday to 2,460. Officials said that starting Monday, the legal limit on all social gatherings in England will be reduced from the current 30 people to six. The new law applies both indoors and outdoors, including private homes, restaurants and parks. Failure to comply could result in a 100-pound ($130) fine.

Weddings, school, funerals and organized team sports are exempt, and larger gatherings will also be allowed if the household or “support bubble” is larger than six. Government ministers and scientists took to the airways to urge Britons not to let down their guard. “We’ve been able to relax a bit over the summer … but these latest figures really show us that much as people might like to say ‘Oh well, it’s gone away’ — this hasn’t gone away,” said Dr. Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer. He said while the rise in infections is “much more marked” among people between 17 and 21, he was concerned about a “more general and creeping geographic trend” across the U.K. “People have relaxed too much,” he said. “Now is the time for us to re-engage and realize that this is a continuing threat.”

[..] Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has faced strong criticism for its mixed messages since it started easing the coronavirus lockdown in late spring. It spent much of the summer encouraging people to eat out to help the hard-pressed hospitality sector and is now urging workers to return to their offices to help hard-hit businesses in city centers. John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said cases are rising, though “not spectacularly,” but he’s worried about what will happen following the reopening of schools and universities. “There are big movements afoot in the country and these will inevitably accelerate transmission,” he told Sky News. “I’m not sure we have to go back to work when we can work from home.”

The government has also been criticized for testing problems, prompting an apology from Sarah-Jane Marsh, director for the National Health Service’s Test and Trace program. “All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded. It’s our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch point,” she said. “We are doing all we can to expand quickly.” “The testing team work on this 18 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

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60,000 people told from one day to the next that they must quarantine when they return home. Good for the airlines: ticket prices triple. Bad for the airlines: tons of cancellations.

Britons Scrambling To Get Back Home From Greek Islands On UK Red List (K.)

Some 60,000 Britons are scrambling to get back home from seven Greek islands that were recently added to the UK’s quarantine list, before restrictions take effect at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday. According to the British newspaper, holidaymakers were blindsided by the announcement on Monday by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that the Greek islands of Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos have been put on the government’s red list of destinations from which arrivals would have to spend 14 days in quarantine once returning to the UK.


The measure was announced in response to a spike in coronavirus infections, particularly in Crete, Mykonos and Zakynthos. “I don’t understand it because if anything it seems safer here than in the UK. It’s been very quiet, there’s barely anyone on the beaches, all the staff wear masks and there are hand-sanitizers on every table,” Julie Frew, who is holidaying on Crete, told the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail also said that holidaymakers have seen ticket prices for return flights almost treble since the measure was announced.

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The Brits do 7 islands, the Dutch do them all, including many that have never had one case.

But what’s even funnier: it’s the UK and Holland that have large outbreaks, Greece is nothing compared to that. And now they want to claim that their outbreaks come from Greece?

Netherlands Puts All Greek Islands On Orange Travel List (K.)

The Dutch government has placed Greece’s islands on its orange list of destinations approved for essential travel only, just a day after Britain said that people returning from seven Greek holiday islands would be quarantined for two weeks after arrival to check for symptoms of coronavirus. According to the directive, citizens of The Netherlands are “strongly discouraged” from traveling to the Greek islands and those who do will be subjected to 10 days of self-isolation on their return. The Foreign Ministry directive also advises that while citizens planning to travel to mainland Greece and the Peloponnese recreationally should not cancel their plans, they should exercise caution and abide by health safety regulations.

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Well, they don’t have to worry about infections in the camp anymore, because it burned down. See below

35 Migrants In Moria Found Positive For Coronavirus (K.)

A total of 35 migrants and refugees living in the Moria identification and registration centre on the island of Lesvos have been infected with the novel coronavirus, the Migration Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday, announcing the completion of the checks. The ministry said health teams from the National Organization of Public Health (EODY) conducted a total of 2,000 tests, of which 100 were done on employees and 1,900 on residents. Those infected have been transferred to a separate section of the camp, according to official procedure. Only one of the 35 patients has so far shown any symptoms of the illness, the ministry said. The overcrowded identification and registration centre has been placed on lockdown since last Wednesday (Sept. 2) after a 40-year-old Somalian national tested positive for the virus. During this time, residents are not allowed to enter of exit the camp.

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It’s all gone, the entire camp.

I know there are fires in California., but this is such a human tragedy, visited upon people who already were at the bottom of every ladder you can imagine.

What the EU going to do? Finance a new extra-secure camp? Moria was emant for 3,000 people But still in 2020 there were 15,000 or so living there.

“Some 12,500 people were living at the Moria camp” [..] now “more than 12,000 migrants being guarded by police on a highway..”

1,000s Flee Fire At Moria Migrant Camp On Virus Lockdown In Greece (K.)

Thousands of migrants fled a camp under COVID-19 lockdown after multiple fires gutted much of the site on the Greek island of Lesvos, authorities said early Wednesday. Some 12,500 people were living at the Moria camp and the surrounding area, where additional restrictions have been imposed over the past week after a Somali resident tested positive for the coronavirus. “The fire spread inside and outside of the camp and has destroyed it … There are more than 12,000 migrants being guarded by police on a highway,” Stratos Kytelis, mayor of the island’s main town, Mylinene, told private Skai radio. “It is a very difficult situation because some of those who are outside will include people who are positive (for the coronavirus).” There were no reports of injuries.


The fires broke out overnight, police and fire officials on the island told The Associated Press, adding the cause of the blazes, as well as the full extent of the damage, remained unclear. They did not confirm local reports that the fires had been set deliberately in protest at the lockdown measures but said firefighters had “met resistance” from some camp residents. Health authorities on Tuesday said 35 people had been confirmed infected with the virus so far after a major testing drive was ordered at the overcrowded facility. They were being kept in isolation at a separate site that was not affected by the fire, officials said. Early Wednesday, riot police were deployed along the highway that connects the camp to Mytilene, some 5 kilometers (3 miles) to the south.

Moria fire

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We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

A comprehensive list from Professor Mark Feldstein, witness who testified on Day 1 of Assange hearing about frequency of published leaks in journalism. The list includes over 20 examples from 1844-2018.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Sep 112018
 
 September 11, 2018  Posted by at 9:16 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Claude Monet The Manneporte at Étretat 1886

 

 

Please Note: The mailing lists I’ve used for many years all of a sudden stopped working. This appears to be because there is some sort of discrepancy between Gmail and Apple Mail. I’ve lost all access to one Gmail account in Apple Mail, though it still works in a browser. Two other Gmail accounts still function in Apple Mail, but bounce back all mails sent as part of the mailing lists. Working on a solution.

Ilargi

 

 

 

America’s Sub-4% Unemployment Rate Means A Recession Is Not Far Off (Colombo)
Mass Evacuations Ordered As Hurricane Florence Heads Toward Carolinas (R.)
EU’s Barnier Says Brexit Deal Still ‘Realistic’ As Deadline Looms (Ind.)
Three-Bagger (Jim Kunstler)
Kim Jong Un Asks Trump For Another Meeting In ‘Very Warm’ Letter (R.)
US Threatens To Arrest ICC Judges Who Probe War Crimes (AFP)
Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria (VIPS)
Netherlands Ends Support To Syrian Militants & White Helmets (RT)
Catalan Separatists Plan Mass Rally Tuesday For Independence From Spain (R.)
Creditors Warn Greece On Debt Relief As Inspectors Return (AP)
Greece’s Moria Migrant Camp Faces Closure Over Living Conditions (K.)
US Teens Prefer Remote Chats To Face-to-Face Meeting (AFP)

 

 

Not all that glitters is gold.

America’s Sub-4% Unemployment Rate Means A Recession Is Not Far Off (Colombo)

The strong job market has become a reason for optimism for many Americans in the past couple years in stark contrast to the dark days of the Great Recession and the ensuing “jobless recovery.” The unemployment rate fell beneath 4% for the past several months, weekly jobless claims are at a 49-year low, and wages are growing at their fastest rate since 2009. So, what’s not to like? Obviously, everyone likes good news on the economic front, but these strong job market statistics are a sign that the economic cycle is much closer to the end (including a recession and bear market) rather than the beginning. As the chart below shows, when the U.S. unemployment rate falls under 4%, recessions follow soon after (recessions are marked by the gray shaded areas on the chart).

Historically, U.S. unemployment under 4% is quite rare and typically occurs after a long, powerful economic expansion. By the time the unemployment rate is under 4%, the economic cycle is already mature, the labor market is tight, and inflation is becoming a concern. At this time, the Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates steadily, which eventually causes the demise of the economic cycle. According to Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: “The 4 percent number is not exactly a number that economists are necessarily happy with.” “What’s been happening here is, if we look historically at other times when the unemployment rate has fallen below 4 percent, it’s times where it was the boom phase just before recession or just after a major war period.”

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Florence is dangerous. Get out of the way.

Mass Evacuations Ordered As Hurricane Florence Heads Toward Carolinas (R.)

Mass evacuations were ordered along the U.S. Atlantic Coast as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in nearly three decades, barreled toward the region on Tuesday. Governor Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order for about 245,000 residents in flood-prone coastal Virginia beginning at 8 a.m. local time while South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered more than 1 million residents along his state’s coastline to leave starting at noon on Tuesday. “This is a serious storm and it’s going to effect the entire state,” Northam told a news conference. “Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare.”

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference his state was in “the bull’s eye.” At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state’s barrier islands.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland governors have declared states of emergency. Authorities warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it lingers inland for several days. NHC Director Ken Graham warned of “staggering” amounts of rainfall that may extend hundreds of miles inland and cause flash flooding across the mid-Atlantic region.

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If the UK change their positions, that is.

EU’s Barnier Says Brexit Deal Still ‘Realistic’ As Deadline Looms (Ind.)

It is “realistic” to believe Britain and the EU will sign a Brexit withdrawal agreement before the looming deadline, Michel Barnier has said. Speaking at the Bled Strategic Forum conference in Slovenia the EU’s chief negotiator said a deal was “possible” in the next six to eight weeks – the cutoff date set for talks. The pound jumped by nearly 1 per cent against the dollar on the foreign exchange markets following the comments, after traders apparently over-interpreted the official’s words. “If we are realistic, I want to reach an agreement on the first stage of the negotiation, which is the Brexit treaty, within six or eight weeks,” Mr Barnier said.

He added: “The treaty is clear, we have two years to reach an agreement before they leave… in March 2019. “That means that taking into account the time necessary for the ratification process in the House of Commons on one side, the European Parliament and the Council on the other side, we must reach an agreement before the beginning of November. I think it is possible.” The episode comes around a week after jumpy financial markets also boosted the pound after Mr Barnier repeated his mantra about wanting to do an ambitious and unique trade deal with the UK. Though little has changed on the ground, both sides of talks are staying publicly positive – if only to give them the upper hand in any ensuing blame game that follows a no deal.

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“..a cast of rogue spooks from the CIA, various FBI officers, and British Intelligence in a scheme that is now going to grand juries.”

Three-Bagger (Jim Kunstler)

The likely confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh may be a last straw for the “Resistance.” It would certainly affect the adjudication of any new disputes that arise over relations between Mr. Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the weeks ahead. The Mueller investigation into 2016 election “collusion” between Russia and Trump looks more and more like a case of displacement-projection syndrome, since dumpster-loads of evidence now point to collusion between the Hillary campaign, the DNC, a cast of rogue spooks from the CIA, various FBI officers, and British Intelligence in a scheme that is now going to grand juries.

All that nasty business, starting with the news that a grand jury has been secretly grilling former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for weeks, suggests that events are about to unspool dramatically. The story has been coiling for months as fresh documents emerge and officials, such as the DOJ Inspector General, confirm what they mean. It remains to be seen whether the Web chatter about dozens of “sealed indictments” coming down is horse-shit. The baffling part is the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I’m inclined to doubt that Mr. Trump’s regular vilifications of Sessions are a ruse, meant to mislead the media about the AG’s activities in these matters. But the DC Swamp is unnerved by Sessions’ extraordinary absence of presence on the scene. Has he actually been involved in any of this, or is he playing animal lotto on his desk?

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The Korea’s want peace and unison. Let nobody put a loophole, a loophole in their way.

Kim Jong Un Asks Trump For Another Meeting In ‘Very Warm’ Letter (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump received a “very warm, very positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asking for a second meeting and the White House is looking at scheduling one, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday. The two countries have been discussing North Korea’s nuclear programs since their leaders met in Singapore in June, although that summit’s outcome was criticized for being short on concrete details about how and whether Kim is willing to give up weapons that threaten the United States. The likely timing of a second Trump-Kim meeting was unclear.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to have his third summit with Kim next week in Pyongyang, and his government had pushed for a three-way summit involving Trump, with the aim of agreeing a joint declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the U.S.-led United Nations forces including South Korea technically still at war with North Korea. While South Korea had hoped an accord formally ending the conflict could have been unveiled on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month, Moon’s security chief Chung Eui-yong said last week, without elaborating, that the necessary conditions for a three-way meeting were missing.

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The ICC was only ever meant to go after Arican dictators fallen out of favor with the west. Bolton protects himself and his ilk.

US Threatens To Arrest ICC Judges Who Probe War Crimes (AFP)

The United States threatened Monday to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.” “If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said. He said the US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans.

“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system,” Bolton said. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.” Bolton made the comments in a speech in Washington to the Federalist Society, a powerful association of legal conservatives. Bolton pointed to an ICC prosecutor’s request in November 2017 to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees. [..] He also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations.

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Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers.

Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria (VIPS)

Mr. President:

We are concerned that you may not have been adequately briefed on the upsurge of hostilities in northwestern Syria, where Syrian armed forces with Russian support have launched a full-out campaign to take back the al-Nusra/al-Qaeda/ISIS-infested province of Idlib. The Syrians will almost certainly succeed, as they did in late 2016 in Aleppo. As in Aleppo, it will mean unspeakable carnage, unless someone finally tells the insurgents theirs is a lost cause. That someone is you. The Israelis, Saudis, and others who want unrest to endure are egging on the insurgents, assuring them that you, Mr. President, will use US forces to protect the insurgents in Idlib, and perhaps also rain hell down on Damascus.

We believe that your senior advisers are encouraging the insurgents to think in those terms, and that your most senior aides are taking credit for your recent policy shift from troop withdrawal from Syria to indefinite war. Russian missile-armed naval and air units are now deployed in unprecedented numbers to engage those tempted to interfere with Syrian and Russian forces trying to clean out the terrorists from Idlib. We assume you have been briefed on that — at least to some extent. More important, we know that your advisers tend to be dangerously dismissive of Russian capabilities and intentions. We do not want you to be surprised when the Russians start firing their missiles.

The prospect of direct Russian-U.S. hostilities in Syria is at an all-time high. We are not sure you realize that. The situation is even more volatile because Kremlin leaders are not sure who is calling the shots in Washington. This is not the first time that President Putin has encountered such uncertainty . This is, however, the first time that Russian forces have deployed in such numbers into the area, ready to do battle. The stakes are very high. We hope that John Bolton has given you an accurate description of his acerbic talks with his Russian counterpart in Geneva a few weeks ago. In our view, it is a safe bet that the Kremlin is uncertain whether Bolton faithfully speaks in your stead, or speaks INSTEAD of you.

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A government spending million to support what it itself has labeled ‘terrorists’. We’re not even surprised. Standard fare in the west.

Netherlands Ends Support To Syrian Militants & White Helmets (RT)

The Netherlands has decided to end its support to militants in Syria, since the program did not yield “expected” results. The move comes as journalists found one of the groups had been labeled as terrorists by the country itself. “The opportunity to quickly change the situation [in Syria] is extremely small,” reads the letter the lower house of the parliament by Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Minister for Foreign Trade Sigrid Kaag, announcing the end of support programs for the militants in Syria. The program to support of “moderate” anti-government groups in Syria was established in close cooperation with “like-minded donors who pursued the same goals as the Netherlands” and cost the country over $80 million over the years, according to the document.

It failed to “bring the expected results,” however, and is to be closed since the Syrian troops “will soon win” the war against militant groups. Over the years, the Netherlands allocated $29 million to the so-called “non-lethal assistance” (NLA) program, $14.5 million were donated to the so-called White Helmets and $17.1 million went to the Access to Justice and Community Service (AJACS) program. The AJACS was supposedly designed to support “community police” work in Syria, specifically the so-called Free Syrian Police (FSP) group. The support for militants is set to end immediately, yet the White Helmets will be funded until December, according to the document.

Since the White Helmets now operate only in the Idlib province, which is believed to be the destination of the looming offensive by the Syrian Army and its allies, their future is quite doubtful, the document states. [..] The “non-lethal” goods supplied by the Dutch government included satellite phones, uniforms, assorted equipment and even the ‘iconic’ Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks, widely used by various militant groups in Syria. At least one of the groups supplied by the Netherlands, Jabhat al-Shamiya, turned out to be labeled a terrorist group by the country’s own justice department, the journalists have revealed. One Dutch man is currently prosecuted for joining the group back in 2015, with the indictment describing it as a “salafist and jihadist” movement which can qualify only as a “criminal organization with terrorist intent.”

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What year is it?

Catalan Separatists Plan Mass Rally Tuesday For Independence From Spain (R.)

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans are expected to fill the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday for the Spanish region’s first commemorative day since its leader declared independence last year and pitched the country into constitutional crisis. Supporters of splitting the wealthy northeastern region from the rest of Spain have in recent years used the Sept. 11 “Diada”, the anniversary of the fall of their coastal capital to Spanish forces in 1714, to promote the cause. This year, Catalonia’s leader Quim Torra, who took over from his exiled predecessor after Madrid ended an unprecedented period of direct rule, has called for a mass rally in support of his bid for a binding referendum on independence.

“Our government has committed to making the republic a reality,” Torra said in a televised address to mark the occasion. “I wish you all a very good Diada. Long live free Catalonia.” He wore a yellow ribbon signifying support for nine politicians whose jailing for their role in the independence bid is one of the Catalan government’s biggest grievances. Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who took power in June, has taken a softer approach to one of the thorniest issues in national politics than that of his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy, but he has stood firm against allowing a vote on secession, or any unilateral attempt by Catalonia to secede.

Last year’s Diada, in which marchers often climb on each other’s shoulders in shows of the traditional sport of forming human towers, fell as the regional government was preparing to hold a referendum in defiance of Madrid, which ultimately sent riot police to try to stop the vote.

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Sovereignty, 2018.

Creditors Warn Greece On Debt Relief As Inspectors Return (AP)

Greece’s lead creditor warned the country on Monday not to stray from reforms agreed upon before the end of its international bailout, as European monitors arrived to check the nation’s finances. The five-day inspection is expected to focus on government promises over the weekend to offer tax relief as well as plans to scrap promised pension cuts that are due to take effect in 2019. Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s rescue fund, told Austria’s Die Presse newspaper that Greece’s needed to stick to its commitments. “We are a very patient creditor. But we can stop debt relief measures that have been decided for Greece if the adjustment programs are not continued as agreed,” he said.

“The debt level appears to be frighteningly elevated. But Greece can live with that as the loan maturities are very long and the interest rates on the loans are much lower than in most other countries.” Left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trailing opposition conservatives in opinion polls and must call a general election within the next 12 months. Amid large protest rallies led by labor unions over the weekend, the prime minister said that relief measures promised to taxpayers would not jeopardize fiscal performance targets and would be introduced gradually. Greece has promised to deliver high primary surpluses — the budget balance before calculating the cost of servicing debt — for years to come, along with a series of reforms in exchange for better debt repayment terms.

The end of the bailout means Greece will have to return to international capital markets to finance itself. However, the country faces a troubled return after the financial turmoil in Turkey and Italy halted a decline in Greek borrowing rates. The yield on Greece’s 10-year-bond remains above 4 percent. The bailout program ended Aug. 20 but the country’s debt level remains near 180 percent of gross domestic product.

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Let’s see what happens in the next 30 days.

Greece’s Moria Migrant Camp Faces Closure Over Living Conditions (K.)

The Regional Authority of the Northern Aegean has given the Ministry of Migration Policy 30 days to clean up the overcrowded Moria hot spot for migrants and refugees on the island of Lesvos, or face closure. The announcement is part of a report compiled by environmental and health inspectors from Lesvos’ public health directorate who found the camp is unsuitable and dangerous for public health and the environment. According to the report, inspectors said there is an uncontrolled wastewater spill at the entrance of the camp, which ends into an adjacent stream or even on the road.

In another section of the camp, toilet waste pipes are broken, resulting in a strong stench and creating a danger to public health. Inspectors said the overcrowding living conditions in Moria, in which up to 15 people are squeezed into the small houses and up to 150 in every tent, increases the risk of disease transmission. “There was also a strong stench and insects (flies) due to the inability to properly clean the living quarters,” the report added. North Aegean Regional Governor Christiana Kalogirou says the ministry will have to restore every damage or problem detailed in the report, otherwise the authority will forbid the hot spot’s operation.

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It’ll take years to assess the damage. And then it’ll be too late.

US Teens Prefer Remote Chats To Face-to-Face Meeting (AFP)

American teenagers are starting to prefer communicating via text instead of meeting face-to-face, according to a study published Monday by the independent organization Common Sense Media. Some 35% of kids aged 13 to 17 years old said they would rather send a text than meet up with people, which received 32%. The last time the media and technology-focused nonprofit conducted such a survey in 2012, meeting face-to-face hit 49%, far ahead of texting’s 33%. More than two-thirds of American teens choose remote communication — including texting, social media, video conversation and phone conversation — when they can, according to the study. In 2012 less than half of them marked a similar preference.

Notably, in the six-year span between the two studies the proportion of 13 to 17-year-olds with their own smartphone increased from 41 to 89%. As for social networks, 81% of respondents said online exchange is part of their lives, with 32% calling it “extremely” or “very” important. The most-used platform for this age group is Snapchat (63%), followed by Instagram (61%) and Facebook (43%). Some 54% of the teens who use social networks said it steals attention away from those in their physical presence. Two-fifths of them said time spent on social media prevents them from spending more time with friends in person. The study was conducted online with a sample of 1,141 young people ages 13 to 17, from March 22 to April 10.

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Dec 262017
 
 December 26, 2017  Posted by at 11:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Edward Hopper Christmas card 1928

 

Shale Gas Fuels 40% Increase In Funding For Plastics Production (G.)
Bitcoin Could Crash Financial Markets Because Of Massive Borrowing (MW)
Was Coinbase’s Bitcoin Cash Rollout A Designed Hit? (Luongo)
Japan PM Abe Urges Firms To Raise Wages By 3% Or More (R.)
Japan’s Household Spending Jumps But BOJ Seen Keeping Stimulus (R.)
Shanghai Sets Population At 25 Million To Avoid ‘Big City Disease’ (G./R.)
Europe Banks Brace For Huge Overhaul That Opens The Doors To Their Data (CNBC)
Scotland United In Curiosity As Councils Trial Universal Basic Income (G.)
UK Asylum Offices ‘In A Constant State Of Crisis’, Say Whistleblowers (G.)
‘Normality’ To Be Restored At Moria By End of January – Greek Minister (K.)
UNHCR Calls For Migrant Transfers, Blames Greece For Grim Conditions (K.)

 

 

It’s up to you to refuse plastics. Nothing else will work.

Shale Gas Fuels 40% Increase In Funding For Plastics Production (G.)

The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US. Fossil fuel companies are among those who have plooughed more than $180bn since 2010 into new “cracking” facilities that will produce the raw material for everyday plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons. The new facilities – being built by corporations like Exxon Mobile Chemical and Shell Chemical – will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade, according to experts, exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis that scientist warn already risks “near permanent pollution of the earth.”

“We could be locking in decades of expanded plastics production at precisely the time the world is realising we should use far less of it,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the US Center for International Environmental Law, which has analysed the plastic industry. “Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels, so we are looking at the same companies, like Exxon and Shell, that have helped create the climate crisis. There is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.” Greenpeace UK’s senior oceans campaigner Louise Edge said any increase in the amount of plastic ending up in the oceans would have a disastrous impact. “We are already producing more disposable plastic than we can deal with, more in the last decade than in the entire twentieth century, and millions of tonnes of it are ending up in our oceans.”

The huge investment in plastic production has been driven by the shale gas boom in the US. This has resulted in one of the raw materials used to produce plastic resin – natural gas liquids – dropping dramatically in price. The American Chemistry Council says that since 2010 this has led to $186bn dollars being invested in 318 new projects. Almost half of them are already under construction or have been completed. The rest are at the planning stage. “I can summarise [the boom in plastics facilities] in two words,” Kevin Swift, chief economist at the ACC, told the Guardian. “Shale gas.”

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For now, crypto is too small to sink anything at all, but a potential future issue is: If derivatives and leverage play such a big role in crypto, how exactly is it different from all other ‘investments’?

Bitcoin Could Crash Financial Markets Because Of Massive Borrowing (MW)

Bitcoin mania is starting to look like a religion. I say that because both bitcoin and religion involve faith in the unknowable. Some bitcoin investors believe the cryptocurrency, along with the underlying blockchain technology, will be a vital part of a new, decentralized, post-government society. I can’t prove that won’t happen — nor can bitcoin evangelists prove it will. Like life after death, they can only say it’s out there beyond the horizon. If you believe in bitcoin paradise, fine. It’s your business … until your faith puts everyone else at risk. As of this month, bitcoin is doing it. Is bitcoin in a price bubble? I think so. Asset bubbles usually only hurt the buyers who overpay, but that changes when you add leverage to the equation.

Leverage means “buying with borrowed money.” So when you buy something with borrowed money and can’t repay it, the lender loses too. The problem spreads further when lenders themselves are leveraged. For bitcoin mania to infect the entire financial system, like securitized mortgages did in 2008, buyers would have to use leverage. The bad news is that a growing number do just that. In the U.S., we have a Financial Stability Oversight Council to watch for system-wide vulnerabilities. The FSOC issued its 164-page annual report this month. Here’s its plan on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: It is desirable for financial regulators to monitor and analyze their effects on financial stability. Sounds like FSOC is on the case — or at least will be on it, someday. Meanwhile, this month commodity regulators allowed two different U.S. exchanges to launch bitcoin futures contracts.

Oddly, instead of griping about slow regulatory approval, futures industry leaders think the government moved too fast. To get why, you need to understand how futures exchanges work. One key difference between a regulated futures exchange and a private bet between two parties is that the exchange absorbs counterparty risk. When you buy, say, gold futures, you don’t have to worry that whoever sold you the contract will disappear and not pay up. If you close your trade at a profit, the exchange clearinghouse guarantees payment. The clearinghouse consists of the exchange’s member brokerage firms. They all pledge their own capital as a backstop to keep the exchange running. So when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) gave exchanges the green light to launch bitcoin futures, member firms collectively said (I’ll paraphrase here): “WTF?”

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No matter if crypto surges or collapses in 2018, controversies will be much much bigger than this year. Just getting started.

Was Coinbase’s Bitcoin Cash Rollout A Designed Hit? (Luongo)

[..] if there is a path to harming Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market available to the money center banks, then they will always opt for it. I’ve been pretty vocal about the need for having a slow, annoying reserve asset in the cryptocurrency space. I’ve talked about it multiple times (here and here). This doesn’t jibe with Bitcoin Cash proponent and Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver’s image of Bitcoin. And that is to Roger’s credit, actually. It’s pretty obvious from a cursory glance at Roger’s Twitter feed that he approaches Bitcoin as a radical libertarian/Austrian Economist would — a purely decentralized, trustless money that can wrest control of the world’s monetary system from rentiers in Government and Banking. Music to my ears. On the other hand is the very shady attitude of Blockstream and the Bitcoin Core group who prevailed in the Segwit 2x fight, which, from Roger Ver’s perspective is actually a mop-up operation, not the decisive battle in the war.

“The reason there is so much hostility from Bitcoin Core towards Bitcoin Cash is because Core knows they have stolen the name but are advocating a completely different system than what was originally described by Satoshi. Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin” — Roger Ver (@rogerkver) December 19, 2017

The real battle for the soul of Bitcoin happened back in August with the fork that created Bitcoin Cash. Complaining about all of these other forks, to Roger, is like closing the barn door after the horses are gone. By keeping Bitcoin slow and expensive they create the need for new solutions to improve it. Why solve a problem when you can artificially create one and then sell everyone the solution? So, I’m ambivalent about this fight for the soul of Bitcoin, because I want a real digital analogue to Gold which only moves the most important transactions. I don’t want all coins to be all things to all people. But, I also know that with this much money at stake there will be pushback from the ‘powers-that-be.’ The Banks and central banks are staring at an existential threat to their future and are doing what they can to stop it from happening. And that, to them, means gaining control over the Bitcoin blockchain. It also means cutting off the means of entry and exit from the cryptocurrency market for average people.

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Unemployment in Japan is almost non-existent, but apparently markets don’t work the way they’re supposed to. Tight labor doesn’t lead to higher wages.

Japan PM Abe Urges Firms To Raise Wages By 3% Or More (R.)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday urged companies to raise wages by 3% or more next year, keeping up pressure on firms to spend their huge cash pile on wages to broaden the benefits of his “Abenomics” stimulus policies.“We must sustain and strengthen Japan’s positive economic cycle next year to achieve our long-standing goal of beating deflation,” Abe said in a speech at a meeting of Japan’s biggest business lobby Keidanren. “For that, I’d like to ask companies to raise wages by 3% or higher next spring,” he said. Wages at big companies have been rising slightly more than 2% each year since 2014, government data shows, and an increase of 3% or more next year would help the Bank of Japan to reach its elusive 2% inflation target.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told the same meeting that companies remain hesitant to raise wages because they had become accustomed to prioritising job security over wage hikes during 15 years of deflation. “With consumers remaining reluctant to accept price rises, many firms are concerned about losing customers if they raise prices,” he said. “It seems so difficult for many firms to take the first step to raise their prices, that they wait and see what other firms are doing.” Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Keidanren, made no reference to wages at his speech at the meeting, focusing instead on the need for Japan to get its fiscal house in order. “We’d like to strongly call on the need to restore fiscal health,” as worries over the sustainability of Japan’s social welfare system could discourage consumers to spend, he said.

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“..due mostly to a boost from rising fuel costs that is seen fading in 2018..”

Japan’s Household Spending Jumps But BOJ Seen Keeping Stimulus (R.)

Japan’s households spent more than expected in November while consumer inflation ticked up and the jobless rate hit a fresh 24-year low, offering the central bank some hope an economic recovery will drive up inflation to its 2% target. But the increase in prices was due mostly to a boost from rising fuel costs that is seen fading in 2018, keeping the Bank of Japan under pressure to maintain its huge monetary support even as other central banks seek an end to crisis-mode policies. Minutes of the BOJ’s October rate review showed that while most central bank policymakers saw no need to ramp up stimulus, they agreed on the need to sustain “powerful” monetary easing for the time being. “There’s a chance inflation may gradually accelerate toward the fiscal year beginning in April,” as a tightening job market pressures companies to raise wages, said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

“But inflation remains distant from the BOJ’s 2% target, so the central bank will probably maintain its current policy framework.” Spending was driven by broadbased gains, with households loosening the purse strings for items such as refrigerators, washing machines, and sporting goods and services such as eating-out and travel. Data also showed wage earners’ disposable income rose 1.8% in November from a year earlier, suggesting that higher incomes have encouraged consumers to open their wallets. The nationwide core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil goods but excludes volatile fresh food prices, rose 0.9% in November from a year earlier, government data showed on Tuesday, marking the 11th straight month of gains. The pace of price growth was just ahead of October’s 0.8% and a median market forecast of the same rate.

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Illusions of control. China’s no. 1 threat.

Shanghai Sets Population At 25 Million To Avoid ‘Big City Disease’ (G./R.)

China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, authorities have said. The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved. “By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometres,” it said. State media has defined “big city disease” as arising when a megacity becomes plagued with environmental pollution, traffic congestion and a shortage of public services, including education and medical care.

But some experts doubt the feasibility of the plans, with one researcher at a Chinese government thinktank describing the scheme as “unpractical and against the social development trend”. Migrant workers and the city’s poor would suffer the most, predicted Liang Zhongtang last year in an interview with state media, when Shanghai’s target was being drafted. The government set a similar limit for Beijing in September, declaring the city’s population should not exceed 23 million by 2020. Beijing had a population of 21.5 million in 2014. Officials also want to reduce the population of six core districts by 15% compared with 2014 levels. To help achieve this goal authorities said in April some government agencies, state-owned companies and other “non-core” functions of the Chinese capital would be moved to a newly created city about 100 kilometres south of Beijing.

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Well, actually, your data, that is.

Europe Banks Brace For Huge Overhaul That Opens The Doors To Their Data (CNBC)

From current accounts to credit cards, established lenders have access to vast amounts of information that financial technology (fintech) competitors could only dream of. In Europe, that could all be about to change. On January 8, banks operating in the European Union will be forced to open up their customer data to third party firms — that is, when customers give consent. EU lawmakers hope that the introduction of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) will give non-banking firms the chance to compete with banks in the payments business and give consumers more choice over financial products and services. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has set out similar plans to let customers share their data with other banks and third parties.

With customer consent, U.K. banks will be required to give authorized third-party firms access to current account data. Those regulations form part of a conceptual transition known as “open banking.” Under an open banking framework, proponents say, non-banking firms — from corporations as big as Amazon and IBM to start-ups — would be able create new financial products by utilizing the data of banks. Banks will be required to build application programming interfaces (APIs) — sets of code that give third parties secure access to their back-end data. Those APIs serve as channels for developers to get to the data and build their own products and services around it.

Such information could serve as a tool to understand things such as customers’ spending habits or credit history, and could lead to the creation of new services. “In a world of open banking, the customer can choose a provider in each part of the value chain. And each bank has to participate in the value chain as an earners’ right to be there,” Anne Boden, co-founder and chief executive of U.K. mobile-only bank Starling, told CNBC in an interview earlier this year. [..] Some European lenders are giving early signals as to what a post-PSD2 world will look like. Spain’s BBVA, Denmark’s Saxo Bank, Nordic lender Nordea and Ireland’s Ulster Bank have already published open developer portals ahead of the EU legislation.

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UBI experiments that are poorly designed are real threats to the principle.

Scotland United In Curiosity As Councils Trial Universal Basic Income (G.)

In Scotland, a country wearily familiar with divisions of a constitutional nature, the concept of a basic income is almost unique in enjoying multi-party favour. Across the four areas currently designing basic income pilots – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire – the projects have variously been championed by Labour, SNP, Green and, in one case, Conservative councillors. Matt Kerr, who has tirelessly lobbied for the idea through Glasgow city council, said: “Reactions to basic income have not split along the usual left/right party lines. Some people to the left of the Labour party think that it undermines the role of trade unions and others take the opposite view. But there should be room for scepticism; you need that to get the right policy.” Advocates are aware such unity of purpose is precious and worth preserving.

“The danger is that this falls into party blocks,” said Kerr. “If people can unite around having a curiosity about [it] then I’m happy with that. But having the first minister on board has done us no harm at all.” Inevitably, Sturgeon’s declared interest has invited criticism from her opponents. A civil service briefing paper on basic income, which expressed concerns that the “conflicting and confusing” policy could be a disincentive to work and costed its national roll-out at £12.3bn a year, was obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through a freedom of information request in October. The party accused her of “pandering to the extreme left of the [independence] movement”. But advocates argue the figures fail to take into account savings the scheme would bring.

The independent thinktank Reform Scotland, which published a briefing earlier this month setting out a suggested basic income of £5,200 for every adult, has calculated that much of the cost could be met through a combination of making work-related benefits obsolete and changes to the tax system, including scrapping the personal allowance and merging national insurance and income tax. [..] Joe Cullinane, the Labour leader of North Ayrshire council, said: “We have high levels of deprivation and high unemployment, so we take the view that the current system is failing us and we need to look at something new to lift people out of poverty. “Basic income has critics and supporters on the left and right, which tells you there are very different ways of shaping it and we need to state at the outset that this is a progressive change, to remove that fear and allow people to have greater control over their lives, to enter the labour market on their own terms.”

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“Two whistleblowers claim Home Office departments delay asylum applications for profit..

UK Asylum Offices ‘In A Constant State Of Crisis’, Say Whistleblowers (G.)

Staff in the Home Office’s asylum directorate are undertrained, overworked and operating in a “constant state of crisis”, two whistleblowers have claimed, as applicants endure long waits to have their case dealt with due to internal pressures. The Home Office staff have also told the Guardian that asylum case workers are making poor decisions about applications because they are under pressure to focus on more profitable visa applications. Despite a “shocking increase in complaints (from applicants) and MP enquiries questioning delays”, they say caseworkers have been told to brush off all enquires and “just give standard lines” of response when called to account.

A source from the UK Visa and Immigration Unit (UKVI) has alleged that caseworkers have been ordered to kick applications for spousal visas “into the long grass” because they can make more money for the directorate by processing student visas. Spousal visas, also known as settlement visas, cost more than student visas but take much longer to process. The source also claims visa applications are routinely labelled “complex” or ”non-straightforward” by staff – a term which excuses the UKVI from adhering to their standard processing times – it is, the source claimed, “just a euphemism for ‘there’s more profitable stuff we could be doing’”. Paying hundreds of pounds for priority services to try to avoid delays on decisions is a “waste of time”, they warned applicants.

The allegations reflect concerns expressed in a report earlier this year by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, who said the Home Office is not “in effective control” of its asylum process. [..] Some of the more shocking findings from Bolt’s report included pregnant women being made to wait more than two years for decisions on their immigration applications; an increasing numbers of applicants having their immigration applications registered as “not straightforward” and endlessly delayed; and Home Office employees being “pushed to the limit” by individual targets and threatened with disciplinary action as deadlines approach.

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At least one more month of utter despair, with little reason to assume any improvement by then. Mouzalas cannot escape his part of the blame.. That said, he’s not lying when he says “Here in Moria we have a problem with unaccompanied minor refugees. We have asked Europe to take a share of these children. It refuses to do so..”

‘Normality’ To Be Restored At Moria By End of January – Greek Minister (K.)

Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said Monday authorities were making huge efforts to improve conditions at the Moria camp on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, while accusing European officials of “hypocrisy” for failing to shoulder their share of the burden. Speaking after an unannounced visit at the infamous migrant and refugee processing center, Mouzalas said Greek authorities were hoping to restore “normality” at the facility by the end of January. “It all depends on arrivals,” Mouzalas said. “Today it was good weather and a total of 175 arrivals have been recorded on Lesvos as of this morning,” he said.

Responding to criticism over the scenes of misery and squalor documented by foreign media at Moria last week, the leftist minister said: “Europe must put an end to its hypocrisy.” “Here in Moria we have a problem with unaccompanied minor refugees. We have asked Europe to take a share of these children. It refuses to do so,” Mouzalas said. “It’s very easy to act like a prosecutor. Dealing with the situation in a way that helps refugees and migrants is the hard part. And this is what we are expected to do,” he said. “There is no point in wagging your finger. What you need to do is mobilize the procedures and mechanisms in order to improve conditions and solve problems,” he said.

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And the UNHCR is not beyond blame, either. Pointing fingers at others is always easy, but hard to keep up after two whole years.

UNHCR Calls For Migrant Transfers, Blames Greece For Grim Conditions (K.)

As temperatures drop, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) once more urged Greek authorities to swiftly transfer thousands of refugees and migrants living in cramped and unsafe island camps to the mainland where better conditions and services are available. “Tension in the reception centers and on the islands has been mounting since the summer when the number of arrivals began rising,” UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told Voice of America. “In some cases, local authorities have opposed efforts to introduce improvements inside the reception centers,” Pouilly was quoted as saying. More than 15,000 people have been transferred to the mainland over the past year.

Meanwhile, speaking to the New Europe news website, the EU’s special envoy on migration, Maarten Verwey, suggested that Greek authorities were to blame for the grim living conditions inside island migrant camps, as recently documented by American news outlet BuzzFeed and Germany’s Deutsche Welle. “The Commission has made the funding available to ensure appropriate accommodation for all. However, the Commission cannot order the creation or expansion of reception capacity, against the opposition of the competent authorities,” Verwey said, according to New Europe.

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