Jun 232022
 
 June 23, 2022  Posted by at 8:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  28 Responses »


Georges Seurat Study for “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” 1884

 

Why Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky Won’t Say Ukraine Is Winning the War (NW)
Jay Powell: Not Russia That Created U.S. Inflation, It Is Joe Biden Policy (CTH)
Exile on Main Street: The Sound of the Unipolar World Fading Away (Escobar)
Russia Says West Is Spreading Lies About Causes of World’s Food Crisis (R.)
Letter from Faina Savenkova (Saker)
Covid Vaccines More Likely to Put You in Hospital Than Keep You Out (DS)
We Must Never Forget (Siglaugsson)
The Neocon’s Dream – Decolonize Russia, Re-colonize China (MoA)
China’s Ties to Russia Looms Large at NATO’s Madrid Meeting (Celente)
Sri Lanka Economy Has ‘Completely Collapsed’ – PM (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell: US Prosecutors Urge 30-Year Minimum Prison Sentence (G.)
Extraditing Assange Would Be a “Legalized” Rendition to US Torture (Kanji)
Assange Put on Suicide Watch After Patel Decision (Lauria)

 

 

My initial take was slightly different: Get your photo taken with Ben Stiller, and you’ll be taken down shortly afterward…

 

 

Bottom Gun

 

 

 

 

“Germany shuts down nuclear reactors.
Then buys gas from Russia.
Then Russia cuts gas supply.
Then Germany reopens coal plants.
The coal is bought from Russia.”

 

 

Dore Tucker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Priceless. Newsweek outperforms itself.

Why Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky Won’t Say Ukraine Is Winning the War (NW)

Russia had lots of guns and materiel but it proved to be a hulking monster on the ground: poorly led, badly trained. Seventy-two hours became a week, then another, then the week after, then right after the next victory, then next month, and now, in the words of NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “years.” Yet despite the setbacks, somehow the widespread notion has remained that mighty Russia will inevitably prevail over a weaker Ukraine. It won’t. At some turning point, after those 72 hours, after the bogged-down convoy, after the valiant and heartbreaking defense of Mariupol, after the failure to establish air superiority, after running low on precision weapons, after the withdrawal from the north, after more and more friends entered the fight on Ukraine’s side—Javelin, Stinger, Switchblade, M777—after deaths and injuries in the thousands, after desertions and refusals to fight, after failure upon failure on the battlefield, after one month, after two, after 100 days, the tide turned.

Yet scarcely anyone wants to say that Russia has lost. Ukrainian President Zelensky, desperate for external support and more guns, motivator of the people and rouser of the troops, has to keep the tension high and the prospects dire, lest all of the urgency and attention dissipate. President Biden and his fellow Western leaders speak of the defense of freedom and democracy, of the heightened threat to Europe and the free world, of the inevitability of China following Putin’s path, all to feed the military beast, excite the public, keep “national security” at the top of everyone’s agenda. And Putin obviously can’t admit it, determined equally to stay in power and to avoid the humiliation and danger of defeat. Putin doesn’t motivate the troops—he sends them. For weeks, Ukraine has been releasing snippets of intercepted conversations between these lowly soldiers and their parents, wives and girlfriends back home.

The soldiers complain that there is no information and no support. They are confused about the point of the war and its objectives. They are not allowed to take a break from fighting. They are poorly equipped and supplied. There is not enough medicine or doctors. “Our command has left,” one soldier told his wife, referring to platoon and company commanders who were deserting their units and the battlefield. “Well, they didn’t leave– they dropped their weapons.” It’s a myth, the soldier says, that “Russians do not let Russians down.” They’ve been let down and they all know it. Morale is so bad, British intelligence says, that there have been armed standoffs between political enforcers and individuals and even units on the battlefield that have refused to follow their orders. Russia is suffering “very heavy casualties, combat stress, continued poor logistics, and problems with pay,” the U.K. reported.

“Morale problems in the Russian force are likely so significant that they are limiting Russia’s ability to achieve operational objectives.” Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, head of the British Armed Forces was more blunt. “Russia will never take control of Ukraine,” he said. “Ukraine has shown how courageous it really is. Russia has vulnerabilities because it’s running out of people, it’s running out of hi-tech missiles,” Radakin said. “Any notion that this is a success for Russia is nonsense. Russia is failing. It might be getting some tactical successes over the last few weeks. And those might continue for the next few weeks. But Russia is losing.”

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Under the bus.

Jay Powell: Not Russia That Created U.S. Inflation, It Is Joe Biden Policy (CTH)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell admitted the obvious in his senate testimony today when asked about U.S. inflation. However, his testimony directly contradicts the White House claims. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), member of the Senate Banking Committee, walked through the inflation timeline and asked Chairman Powell about the cause of the escalated inflation in 2021. Powell admitted the massive rise in inflation had nothing to do with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Jay Powell

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“The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it..”

Exile on Main Street: The Sound of the Unipolar World Fading Away (Escobar)

The era of the unipolar world is over. The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it. Russia has renewed with its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority. The EU has completely lost its political sovereignty. The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just en ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty. Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony. Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and euro-democracy. Russia will supply grains to the poorer nations in Africa and the Middle East. Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the U.S.

The future world order, already in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states. The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back. How does it feel, for the collective West, to be caught in such a crossfire hurricane? Well, it gets more devastating when we add to the new roadmap the latest on the energy front. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, in St. Petersburg, stressed that the global economic crisis is gaining momentum not because of sanctions, but exacerbated by them; Europe “commits energy suicide” by sanctioning Russia; sanctions against Russia have done away with the much lauded “green transition”, as that is no longer needed to manipulate markets; and Russia, with its vast energy potential, “is the Noah’s Ark of the world economy.”

For his part Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller could not be more scathing on the sharp decline in the gas flow to the EU due to Siemens’ refusal and/or incapacity to repair the Nord Stream 1 pumping engine: “Well, of course, Gazprom was forced to reduce the volume of gas supplies to Europe by 20%+. But you know, prices have increased not by 20%+, but by several times! Therefore, I’m sorry if I say that we don’t feel offended by anyone, we are not particularly concerned by this situation.” If this pain dial overdrive was not enough to hurl the collective West – or NATOstan – into Terminal Hysteria, then Putin’s sharp comment on possibly allowing Mr. Sarmat to present his business card to “decision-making centers in Kiev”, those that are ordering the current shelling and killing of civilians in Donetsk, definitely did the trick:

“As for the red lines, let me keep them to myself, because this will mean quite tough actions on the decision-making centers. But this is an area that shouldn’t be disclosed to people outside the military-political leadership of the country. Those who deserve appropriate actions on our part should draw a conclusion for themselves – what they may face if they cross the line.”

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“..disrupting payment systems, shipping, insurance which had prevented many Russian exports of food and fertiliser..”

Russia Says West Is Spreading Lies About Causes of World’s Food Crisis (R.)

Russia on Wednesday said the West was spreading lies about the causes of the global food crisis which Moscow said was being stoked by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union due to the invasion of Ukraine.[..] Western sanctions, Zakharova said, had tipped agricultural markets towards the edge of the abyss by disrupting payment systems, shipping, insurance which had prevented many Russian exports of food and fertiliser. “It is illogical – on the one hand the European Union… says a threat to global food security is being created but at the same time they block the delivery routes of goods to themselves on their own continent,” Zakharova said. President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials do not use the words “war” or “invasion”. They cast the action as a “special military operation” aimed at preventing the persecution of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.


Putin also casts the war as a revolt against the United States, which he says has humiliated Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union by pushing for the enlargement of the NATO military alliance westwards. Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival against a land grab by Russia and that it will fight to the end to free its territory from Russian control. Kyiv dismisses claims that Russian-speakers have been persecuted. Eritrea, Armenia, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Somalia, Belarus, Turkey, Madagascar, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan depend on Russia or Ukraine for more than 70% of their wheat imports in 2021, according to United Nations data. Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Honduras and Ghana rely on Russia for 50% or more of their fertiliser imports in 2021, according to the data.

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“If there is chaos around, there must be people who can show the way out to the others..”

Letter from Faina Savenkova (Saker)

Truth is the way out of chaos. To Journalist Tucker Carlson. Hello, Tucker. I am 13 years old and I live in Lugansk. I think many people from the American authorities do not even know where it is, but they continue to supply weapons to Ukraine for the war with Russia. For a week now, Ukrainian artillery has been mercilessly shelling Donetsk, killing civilians in the Donbass. It’s one thing to fight with the army, and another to just shoot guns at schools, kindergartens and sleeping residents. Many will say that this is deception and propaganda, but it is not so. I was born and live in Lugansk. I spent the entire war – since 2014 – in my hometown. Living in a war for 8 years is very hard. It’s very scary when your childhood is spent in such conditions. 8 years of hope for peace, which never came. But it didn’t break me. I keep telling the truth about what’s going on here.

And I know that you do the same thing when you talk about America. I do not consider you a friend of Russia, but the fact that you are telling the truth and do not want a war with Russia pleases me. After all, if there is a nuclear war, there will be no winners in it. I’ve had to turn to world leaders a lot. I’ve been trying to stop the war for three years, but they, like musicians and politicians, are deaf and dumb. Perhaps someone wants to calmly meet old age, someone is afraid of change, and someone simply does not understand what war is. After all, it is not next to them. Last year, Ukrainian nationalists entered my personal data on the “myrotvorets.center” (english: “Peacemaker”) website, posting them in open access. After that, I started receiving threats. You may ask, “What is a myrotvorets.center?” Indeed, many in the US do not know what it is.

If we compare, imagine if the Ku Klux Klan in the USA created its own website and posted there the addresses, bank accounts and other personal data of all politicians, actors and musicians who disagree with them. And the authorities would help them at the same time. This is what is happening in Ukraine now. A lot of my friends from Ukraine faced the same problem: “myrotvorets.center ” published their personal data, including address and phone number. Can you imagine such a thing in the USA? No. It’s hard for me to say what will happen to me tomorrow. After all, I live in a war where shells arrive every day. But I believe that the war will end, just like the confrontation between Russia and the United States. And personally, Tucker, I want to wish you good luck. Thank you for trying to tell the truth, because someone has to do it. If there is chaos around, there must be people who can show the way out to the others.

Faina Savenkova, playwright and writer, 13-year-old girl, Lugansk

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“… BMJ Editor’s Analysis of Pfizer and Moderna Trial Data Finds..”

Whatever mistakes BMJ Editor Dr. Peter Doshi may have made, this is still significant.

Covid Vaccines More Likely to Put You in Hospital Than Keep You Out (DS)

A new paper by BMJ Editor Dr. Peter Doshi and colleagues has analysed data from the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccine trials and found that the vaccines are more likely to put you in hospital with a serious adverse event than keep you out by protecting you from Covid. The pre-print (not yet peer-reviewed) focuses on serious adverse events highlighted in a WHO-endorsed “priority list of potential adverse events relevant to COVID-19 vaccines”. The authors evaluated these serious adverse events of special interest as observed in “phase III randomised trials of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines”. A serious adverse event was defined as per the trial protocols as an adverse event that results in any of the following conditions:

• death; • life-threatening at the time of the event; • inpatient hospitalisation or prolongation of existing hospitalisation; • persistent or significant disability/incapacity; • a congenital anomaly/birth defect; • medically important event, based on medical judgement. Dr. Doshi and colleagues found that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were associated with an increased risk of serious adverse events of special interest of 10.1 events per 10,000 vaccinated for Pfizer and 15.1 events per 10,000 for Moderna (95% CI -0.4 to 20.6 and -3.6 to 33.8, respectively). When combined, the mRNA vaccines were associated with a risk increase of serious adverse events of special interest of 12.5 per 10,000 vaccinated (95% CI 2.1 to 22.9).

The authors note that this level of increased risk post-vaccine is greater than the risk reduction for COVID-19 hospitalisation in both Pfizer and Moderna trials, which was 2.3 per 10,000 participants for Pfizer and 6.4 per 10,000 for Moderna. This means that on this measure, the Pfizer vaccine results in a net increase in serious adverse events of 7.8 per 10,000 vaccinated and the Moderna vaccine of 8.7 per 10,000 vaccinated. Addressing the difference between their findings and those of the FDA when it approved the vaccines, the authors note that the FDA’s analysis of serious adverse events “included thousands of additional participants with very little follow-up, of which the large majority had only received one dose”.

The FDA also counted ‘people affected’ rather than individual events, despite there being twice as many individuals in the vaccine group than the placebo group who experienced multiple serious adverse events. The authors wonder where the U.S. Government’s own studies of adverse events are. They note that in July 2021, the FDA reported detecting four potential adverse events of interest following Pfizer vaccination – pulmonary embolism, acute myocardial infarction, immune thrombocytopenia and disseminated intravascular coagulation – and stated it would further investigate the findings. However, no update has yet appeared. They also note that “while CDC published a protocol in early 2021 for using proportional reporting ratios for signal detection in the VAERS database, the agency has not yet reported such a study”.

Read more …

“There will be a scramble for alternative truths once the narrative starts crumbling..”

We Must Never Forget (Siglaugsson)

Recently the Icelandic chief epidemiologist said in an interview the lockdowns hadn‘t been stringent enough. And he blamed those few politicians who voiced their doubts and worried about the well-being of society as a whole, for undermining the solidarity behind the measures. As if he were the emperor, the politicians only his servants. And he is not alone. Many of those people will continue pushing the narrative even as it crumbles around them. They will be the first targets of people‘s anger. Then it will be the politicians, pharmaceuticals, media and big tech. There will of course be strong pushback. There will be a scramble for alternative truths once the narrative starts crumbling; for something to keep the veil on the lies and atrocities. The push for continued masking, lockdowns, vaccine mandates will continue for a while.

And we shouldn‘t forget there are huge interests at stake here, to certain very big business sectors, lockdowns are a godsend; human interaction is a threat to them. The censorship will be ramped up even further. But despite all the power, money and technology, the facts will emerge, the truth will prevail in the end. It always does. Some might say I‘m too optimistic, that we are already under the control of conspiring media, big-tech and corrupt officials, with no way out. But is it really so? Recently a US attempt at handing unprecedented powers over to the WHO was averted, thanks mostly to African leaders and strong public opposition. The vaccine mandates are disappearing and what will eventually come of the still existing plans for health passes is unclear. But of course the danger is still there.

What really matters is how we react as the narrative crumbles. Will we just shrug and move on with our daily lives, not caring about the threat to our freedom and humanity? Or will we face the consequences of our failure to think critically, of our gullibility, our lack of moral integrity, as the German people were forced to do after World War II, as the Icelanders had to do after 2008? Will we bring those responsible to court? Will we learn, once again the hard way, how the only thing that can prevent such catastrophes in the future is taking responsibility as thinking, doubting individuals?

And will we finally understand the true meaning of Hannah Arendt‘s conclusion in The Origins of Totaliarianism, that flawed as it may be, it is only a sovereign nation state of free people, governed by elected representatives who take their responsibility seriously; as they did in the tiny Faroe Islands during the pandemic; and not unelected officials, supranational organizations or huge corporations; that only the nation state is really able to protect universal human rights? We have to move on. We have to rebuild our societies, reestablish our moral values and our rights, rebuild trust in science and trust within our communities. But to truly move on, we must face, understand and act on the roots of the catastrophe, and take full responsibility for the part each of us played. This is why we must not forget. We must never forget.

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“Russia sells its oil to China and India where it gets refined. The resulting gasoline and diesel is then exported to the U.S.. That is good for India and China as they buy the oil with a rebate and sell the end products with a substantial margin..”

The Neocon’s Dream – Decolonize Russia, Re-colonize China (MoA)

The neo-conservatives are back using a new narrative to push their old agenda. Russian officials will love such talk: “Today’s panel is a further step forward in that it tells ordinary Russians that even regime change and democracy is not good enough for them. They require the partition of their country into smaller (more easily controlled) polities, so that they can be free. Needless to say, this is a propaganda coup for Putin and the Kremlin as it allows them to paint the conflict in Ukraine as an existential fight.” The Kremlin has no need to ‘paint’ the conflict as an existential fight. The Russians know that it is such a fight. Biden’s haplessness continues to tank the Democrats chances to keep house majority. In a meager attempt to tackle the high fuel price he will today call on Congress to suspend the tax on fuel for three month. It is just a gimmick which would have little effect at the pump and has no chance to pass Congress:

“GOP lawmakers have been hammering Biden and Democrats on the campaign trail over inflation and fuel prices. They argue that such measures are political theater that will do little to make long-term dents in oil prices. The best way to reduce oil prices, they say, is to loosen regulations and increase U.S. oil production. … California had the highest average gas price of any state at $6.398 per gallon. The gas tax suspension would reduce the cost of a gallon of diesel fuel by 24 cents.” The real reason for high fuel prices is Biden’s misguided foreign policy. Three of the biggest oil producers on the globe, Venezuela, Iran and Russia, are under U.S. sanctions that limit their oil exports:

The sanctions have made it more difficult for Russia to sell its oil. Biden has also banned the import of Russian oil, and last month Europe announced it was imposing a partial embargo on it. As of 2020, Russia was the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As the New York Times correctly headlines: “Western Move to Choke Russia’s Oil Exports Boomerangs, for Now”. That move will continue to boomerang. Russia sells it oil to China and India where it gets refined. The resulting gasoline and diesel is then exported to the U.S.. That is good for India and China as they buy the oil with a rebate and sell the end products with a substantial margin. It is a ‘win’ ‘win’ ‘win’ for Russia, India and China with the sole loser being the ‘west’. Whatever NYT hope of sanction success is expressed in its ‘for now’ addition to the headline is not going to change that.

Meanwhile Russia is announcing the next target of its campaign to counter ‘western’ misbehavior – the reserve status of the U.S. dollar and the Euro: “MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. The issue of creating an international reserve currency based on currencies of BRICS member-states is under consideration, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday in the welcome address to BRICS Business Forum participants. “The matter of creating the international reserve currency based on the basket of currencies of our countries is under review,” the Russian leader said. BRICS currently consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Together those countries represent 3.2 billion people and a third of the world’s purchase power GDP. The new international reserve currency would therefore have a much larger backing than the U.S. dollar or the Euro.

Read more …

Still longing for total control.

China’s Ties to Russia Looms Large at NATO’s Madrid Meeting (Celente)

Less than a month after President Joe Biden was sworn into office, he took a 10-minute drive from the White House to the Pentagon to meet with his top military leaders, including Lloyd Austin, his new defense secretary. Biden was there for one reason: China. Biden told workers there that he was briefed about a Defense Department-wide task force headed by Austin that would look at “operational concepts, technology, and force posture,” to counter the growing competition from Beijing. Biden said the U.S. will “meet the China challenge” by taking a “whole-of-government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships.” No presidency is ever without surprises, but even with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it seems that it’s China that keeps Washington awake at night.

Need proof? About a month before Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, Biden announced that U.S. troops will not fight Russians in Ukraine, which was not protected by NATO’s Article 5. But he said twice -in roughly the same time frame – that U.S. would defend Taiwan against China. (The White House on both occasions corrected the record and said Washington’s position of strategic ambiguity has not changed, but the sentiment was there.) China has recognized Russia’s security concern over an expanding NATO while calling an end to the conflict. Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the invasion of Ukraine was not what Beijing hoped to see. “China has taken a responsible attitude and persuaded all parties not to escalate tensions or incite war,” she said.

“Those who follow the U.S.’s lead in fanning up flame and then shifting the blame onto others are truly irresponsible.” Beijing has lashed out at the U.S. over its interference over Taiwan. It is widely believed that Putin informed his Chinese counterpart about his intention to invade Ukraine during their meeting at the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. “The Chinese side stands ready to work with the Russian side to push for steady and long-term development of practical bilateral cooperation,” President Xi JinPing said, after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Xi said trade with Russia over the first half of this year has been [in the tens of billions of U.S. dollars] and we “can expect new records in upcoming months, which is a testament to the great cooperation between our two nations.”

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Test case?!

Sri Lanka Economy Has ‘Completely Collapsed’ – PM (Sky)

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said the country’s economy has “completely collapsed”, leaving it unable to pay for essentials such as oil imports. It follows months of shortages of food, fuel, and electricity, and the realisation that even the credit lines from neighbouring India that have sustained the country so far will not be enough. Mr Wickremesinghe told Sri Lanka’s parliament: “We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food. “Our economy has completely collapsed – that is the most serious issue before us today.” Mr Wickremesinghe said that the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is $700m (£572m) in debt, adding: “As a result, no country or organisation in the world is willing to provide fuel to us.

“They are even reluctant to provide fuel for cash.” Sri Lanka has been struggling under the weight of its debt, combined with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, including a loss of tourism revenue and the rising cost of commodities. In April, it suspended payment on the equivalent of £9.8bn in foreign debt. Mr Wickremesinghe said that efforts to turn the situation around had failed, adding: “If steps had at least been taken to slow down the collapse of the economy at the beginning, we would not be facing this difficult situation today. “But we lost out on this opportunity. “We are now seeing signs of a possible fall to rock bottom.” Previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned in May after months of protests and clashes between government supporters and those demanding a change in leadership.

This brought veteran Mr Wickremesinghe to the role for a sixth time, in a move that opposition politicians said was aimed at protecting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family from protesters’ anger. A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Colombo earlier this week and talks with them have made progress, Mr Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday, adding that an agreement was likely by the end of this month. “We have discussed multiple points including fiscal policy, debt restructuring and direct cash transfers,” he said. “Parallel to this, we have also started talks on a debt restructuring framework, which we hope will be completed in July.”

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“She will be sentenced on 28 June..” How about her clients?

Ghislaine Maxwell: US Prosecutors Urge 30-Year Minimum Prison Sentence (G.)

Ghislaine Maxwell should get at least 30 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking when she is sentenced next week for her role in facilitating the abuse of teenage girls by Jeffrey Epstein, New York federal prosecutors have said in court filings. “Ghislaine Maxwell sexually exploited young girls for years. It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of her crimes and the harm she caused. Her crimes demand justice,” they said in a court filing on Wednesday. “The government urges the court to impose a sentence within the applicable guidelines range of 360 to 660 months’ imprisonment.” The prosecution’s filing comes one week after Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she should receive “well below” the 20-year sentence recommended by sentencing officials.


Although Maxwell’s defense attorneys and prosecutors each make their arguments for an appropriate sentence, the decision ultimately rests with Alison Nathan, the judge. “Maxwell’s conduct was shockingly predatory,” prosecutors said in arguing for a lengthy sentence. “She was a calculating, sophisticated, and dangerous criminal who preyed on vulnerable young girls and groomed them for sexual abuse. “Not only did her conduct exhibit a callous disregard for other human beings, but her practice of targeting vulnerable victims reflects her view that struggling young girls could be treated like disposable objects.” Maxwell was convicted on 29 December for her role in the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls, some as young as 14, who she brought into his orbit. She will be sentenced on 28 June. She maintains her innocence.

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Very good angle.

Extraditing Assange Would Be a “Legalized” Rendition to US Torture (Kanji)

As the British government moves ever closer to extraditing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, the pantomime of “justice” cloaking his persecution in the regalia of the “rule of law” continues to unfold: a torture rendition by another name, inching forward as the world watches in real time. On June 17, the U.K.’s Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition of Assange to the United States, following the magistrate court’s order that the transfer should proceed. In this fundamentally skewed process, Assange’s capacity to meaningfully defend himself has been systematically assaulted by government smear campaigns; surveillance of his lawyers; and stultifying, arbitrary rules and restrictions obstructing him from participating in his own case — as documented in detail by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in his recent book, The Trial of Julian Assange.

Previously, U.S. officials discussed “options” for kidnapping Assange and assassinating him by poison — tactics ultimately dismissed as “something we’d do in Afghanistan,” Egypt or Pakistan, but not the U.K. Therefore, they’ve opted for the more “civilized” alternative. Instead of kidnapping, extradition. And instead of assassination, entombment in the torturous U.S. carceral system, where Assange faces a death-in-prison sentence of 175 years for exposing U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. How is this, in essence and effect, anything but the “legal” equivalent of an extraordinary rendition — defined by the American Civil Liberties Union as “the practice of capturing people and sending them to countries that use torture or abuse in interrogations”?

While the U.S.’s infamous extraordinary rendition program has (now) been officially condemned and supposedly ceased, rendition to torture via legalized means is enduringly embraced. In “extraordinary” rendition, hundreds of “war on terror” detainees were secretly imprisoned and brutalized in CIA black sites around the world. In “legalized” rendition, the torture chambers are not foreign black sites but prisons transformed into “Guantánamo Norths” within the U.S. itself. In “extraordinary” rendition, victims were seized off the streets extrajudicially by the CIA. In the “legalized” version, the condemned are delivered into U.S. hands through judicially sanctioned means such as extradition — abusive processes accorded an aura of legal legitimacy.

U.S. courts have upheld transfers into U.S. custody even when the targets have been abducted at gunpoint, severely beaten, burned, kept in secret offshore captivity for weeks or months (an increasingly popular practice with U.S. law enforcement), and electrocuted in their feet and genitals: acts of violence for which the courts have refused to provide any legal redress because they occurred outside the U.S. In “legalized” rendition, as in “extraordinary” rendition, detainees have been subjected to intensive solitary confinement, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, sensory deprivation, extreme light and temperature exposure, and other mechanisms of deliberate “psychic demolition”; although the degree of isolation and control achieved in domestic U.S. prisons under regimes such as “special administrative measures” is in many ways even more totalizing than at Guantánamo Bay.

Dail Assange

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Sweet Jesus….

Assange Put on Suicide Watch After Patel Decision (Lauria)

After British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Julian Assange’s extradition order on Friday the authorities in Belmarsh prison stripped Julian Assange and threw him into a completely empty cell in an attempt to prevent his suicide, Assange’s father has said. It was just one more instance in which the prison humiliated his son, Shipton told a rally on Tuesday night at the offices of the junge Welt newspaper in Berlin. About 300 people attended, with an overflow crowd watching on close circuit TV in the courtyard. Testimony was heard from expert defense witnesses during Assange’s extradition hearing that he might try to end his life in prison once he learned he was going to the United States.

It is not the end of the road for Assange legally, however. His lawyers have until July 1 to file for an appeal of Patel’s decision to the High Court. They also intend to apply for a cross appeal of issues such as the political nature of the charges, the threat to free speech and the reported C.I.A. plot to kidnap or kill Assange before his arrest. Shipton and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, are in Berlin to lobby the German government to put pressure on the United States to drop the case against Assange. On Monday, the Shiptons met with Tobias Lindner, the minister of state, at the German foreign ministry. “It was a practical and appropriate step for Tobias to take, to welcome Julian Assange’s father and bother into the foreign ministry,” John Shipton said.

“The invitation in itself and the meeting in the foreign ministry indicates that the German government is sincere in bringing about the freedom of Julian Assange.” But Shipton said he would like to hear a public statement from Germany in support of his son. “We’d like Tobias to confirm what he’s said.” A German government spokesman on Monday said however that Germany was unlikely to intervene with either the U.K. or the U.S. “This is a legal process that is already in motion, so I would be a little wary of political intervention,” he said, the French Press Agency (AFP) reported.

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Imagine the collapse of this…..

 

 

Mike Lynch

 

 

Cave of El Castillo, Spain. Hands and a Bison. Some of the hand stencils, mostly near the front and middle sections of the cave, were painted more than 37,000 years ago, but some of the more recent hand stencils are 24,000 years old.

 

 

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Jan 262022
 
 January 26, 2022  Posted by at 9:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  88 Responses »


Johannes Vermeer The soldier and the laughing girl 1657

 

Clinical Outcomes Among Patients With Omicron In Southern California (medRxiv)
Omicron Covid Strain Evolved In Mice – Chinese Study (RT)
Ivermectin: An Uncomfortable Truth (Uncut)
FDA Prohibits Florida From Using Monoclonal Antibody Treatments (PM)
Welcome to VEI Hell? (Denninger)
Expert Panel Backs Fourth COVID Vaccine Dose for Israelis 18 and Over
Thousands Needed To Try A New Covid Antiviral Treatment (BBC)
Patient Removed From Heart Transplant List For Being Unvaccinated (DM)
in praise of lawn darts (el gato)
The Neocons’ Primary War Tactic (Greenwald)
Let’s Not Have A War (Taibbi)
Russia May Not Be Poised To Invade Ukraine – Pentagon (RT)
Biden Approval Rating Tanks To New Low (NYP)
Assange Hearing Day Oh God It Never Ends (Murray)

 

 

Julian Nobel

 

 

 

 

Nun refuses vaccine

 

 

Malone: they’re not working

 

 

A Second Opinion

On January 24, 2022 Senator Ron Johnson invited a group of world renowned doctors and medical experts to the U.S. Senate to provide a different perspective on the global pandemic response, the current state of knowledge of early and hospital treatment, vaccine efficacy and safety, what went right, what went wrong, what should be done now, and what needs to be addressed long term. This 38 minute video highlights the 5-hour discussion.

 

 

Fair sized study: “52,297 cases with SGTF (Omicron) and 16,982 cases with non-SGTF (Delta [B.1.617.2]) infections..”

Omicron: 1 death, no mechanical ventilations.
Delta: 14 deaths, 11 mechanical ventilations.

Delta is some 45x deadlier?!

Clinical Outcomes Among Patients With Omicron In Southern California (medRxiv)

We analyzed clinical and epidemiologic data from cases testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection within the Kaiser Permanente Southern California healthcare system from November 30, 2021 to January 1, 2022, using S gene target failure (SGTF) as assessed by the ThermoFisher TaqPath ComboKit assay as a proxy for Omicron infection. We fit Cox proportional hazards models to compare time to any hospital admission and hospital admissions associated with new-onset respiratory symptoms, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, mechanical ventilation, and mortality among cases with Omicron and Delta (non-SGTF) variant infections. We fit parametric competing risk models to compare lengths of hospital stay among admitted cases with Omicron and Delta variant infections.


[..] Our analyses included 52,297 cases with SGTF (Omicron) and 16,982 cases with non-SGTF (Delta [B.1.617.2]) infections, respectively. Hospital admissions occurred among 235 (0.5%) and 222 (1.3%) of cases with Omicron and Delta variant infections, respectively. Among cases first tested in outpatient settings, the adjusted hazard ratios for any subsequent hospital admission and symptomatic hospital admission associated with Omicron variant infection were 0.48 (0.36-0.64) and 0.47 (0.35-0.62), respectively. Rates of ICU admission and mortality after an outpatient positive test were 0.26 (0.10-0.73) and 0.09 (0.01-0.75) fold as high among cases with Omicron variant infection as compared to cases with Delta variant infection. Zero cases with Omicron variant infection received mechanical ventilation, as compared to 11 cases with Delta variant infections throughout the period of follow-up (two-sided p<0.001). Median duration of hospital stay was 3.4 (2.8-4.1) days shorter for hospitalized cases with Omicron variant infections as compared to hospitalized patients with Delta variant infections, reflecting a 69.6% (64.0-74.5%) reduction in hospital length of stay.

[..] Among patients with Omicron variant infections, 7 received intensive care (including 5 whose infections were first identified in outpatient settings), 1 died, and none received mechanical ventilation, as compared to 23 ICU-admitted patients, 14 deceased patients, and 11 ventilated patients among those with Delta variant infections. The observed number of patients meeting each of these endpoints was inadequate for multivariate analyses due to the absence of counts within multiple covariate strata. Unadjusted hazard ratios of ICU admission and mortality associated with Omicron variant infection were 0.26 (0.10-0.73) and 0.09 (0.01-0.75), respectively, among cases whose infections were first ascertained in outpatient settings. Additionally, the daily risk of mechanical ventilation among patients with Delta variant infections was significantly higher than among patients with Omicron variant infections (0.04 vs 0 per 1000 persondays at risk following a positive outpatient test; 2-sided p<0.001).

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Of Mice and Men.

Omicron Covid Strain Evolved In Mice – Chinese Study (RT)

The study into Omicron, published in the Journal of Biosafety and Biosecurity, found that “coronavirus slowly accumulated mutations over time in mice” before the virus was then “transmitted back to humans by reverse zoonotic.” The research, led by Dr. Xu Jianguo, who works for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases Control and Prevention of China, has identified mice as the “most likely intermediate host.” Researchers established that the “mutations profile” of the strain “shows that the virus has adapted to infect the cells of mice.”


While scientists have established Omicron developed from a strain that circulated in mid-2020, they have been seeking an explanation for the lack of an intermediate version of Omicron within humans, raising the potential that it evolved within an animal. The discovery could “pose new challenges in the prevention and control of the epidemic,” as the risk of new Covid strains circulating within the animal kingdom creates added uncertainty in the fight against the virus. Proposing possible solutions to the issue of Covid strains circulating within non-human species, researchers called for greater “surveillance of animals, especially rodents,” due to their close proximity with humans.

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Tess Lawrie.

Ivermectin: An Uncomfortable Truth (Uncut)

The reported leak of United States Military documents, which appear to validate ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, should re-ignite the debate over whether this well-established drug was buried in favour of new multi-billion-dollar experimental vaccines. The documents, authored by Marine Corps Major Joseph Murphy and obtained by the American organisation Project Veritas (projectveritas.com) contained this assessment: “Ivermectin, identified as a curative in April 2020, works throughout all phases of illness because it both inhibits viral replication and modulates the immune response.” Project Veritas claims Major Murphy’s report was for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and also included information that ivermectin and other drugs had been suppressed.


Accordingly, six Members of Congress have written to the US Secretaries of Defence and Health and Human Services stating: “Millions of Americans suffered as curatives were hidden for unknown reasons. To what extent, if any, was there any attempt to suppress potential curatives identified in Major Murphy’s report?” Watch this space. [..] These latest developments will resonate in the Georgian city of Bath, 3500 miles from Capitol Hill. It was in here, over Christmas 2020, that a highly respected scientist was confident – even elated – that a treatment for the virus had been identified. Little did Dr Tess Lawrie know that this would bring only rejection, frustration and mistrust within the science community. And in common with other leading scientists who questioned the ‘official’ Covid narrative, she received a suspension from Twitter, presumably under the blanket ‘spreading misinformation’.

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Who has what authority?

FDA Prohibits Florida From Using Monoclonal Antibody Treatments (PM)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closed Florida’s monoclonal antibody treatment sites on Monday after the federal government abruptly removed the treatments from Emergency Use Authorizations. The Florida Department of Health released a statement on Monday evening condemning the “abrupt” decision to take away treatments that can prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death in high-risk patients who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. “This evening, without any advanced notice, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revised the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)…The revised EUAs do not allow providers to administer these treatments within the United States,” the statement reads.

“Unfortunately, as a result of this abrupt decision made by the federal government, all monoclonal antibody state sites will be closed until further notice…Florida disagrees with the decision that blocks access to any available treatments in the absence of clinical evidence.” The FDA said Monday the antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used because the treatments are unlikely to be effective against the omicron variant, The Associated Press reports. Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has heavily promoted antibody drug treatments as a signature part of his administration’s COVID-19 response, setting up infusion sites and lauding them at news conferences, while also encouraging Floridians to get vaccinated.

Last September, DeSantis slammed the Biden administration for withholding monoclonal antibody treatments from the state, telling Floridians that he will fight “come hell or high water” to get those treatments for his residents. DeSantis explained that when it became apparent that the treatment was working, the Biden administration took over control of the supply of Regeneron, one of the monoclonal antibody treatments, and cut Florida’s supply.

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“If you keep trying to play for another month or two of “protection” that is followed by six months of enhanced infectivity you are eventually going to lose on that dice roll..”

Welcome to VEI Hell? (Denninger)

Note that the Federal Government has just pulled the EUAs for monoclonals. These are drugs that are, effectively, the “final product in the body” of being jabbed. They know damn well what the risk is — not just that the drugs are worthless against Omicron but could end up boosting the infection, making it worse. Since these drugs are, basically, the product of the jabs the obvious risk that the same thing has or will happen with the jabs either with Omicron or what may evolve from it should be clear to anyone with an IQ greater than their shoe size. At present we do not know. Its possible that the negative effectiveness of the jabs will wear off. That would be excellent but it will only wear off if people stop taking jabs.

If you keep trying to play for another month or two of “protection” that is followed by six months of enhanced infectivity you are eventually going to lose on that dice roll and get screwed. Of course all the pharma CEOs (who’s primary purpose in life is to make money) plus the government agencies (who’s primary purpose in life at this point is to keep you from hanging them for conning you into doing something stupid) are telling you to play for that extra couple of months. At present we do not know and there is no way to find out for an extended period of time. Anyone who tells you they know any, say much less all of these things and thus can compute this out and make a recommendation based on a reasoned evaluation is lying. The first of these conditions is bad enough and over time we will learn more about it, but by then Omicron will likely be gone, having infected damn near everyone.

Omicron and the vaccine negative effectiveness against it, which is now in full evidence, is a warning. A warning that included a wildly lucky draw from the evolutionary deck in that materially less virulence in the lungs doesn’t provide much in the way of evolutionary advantage, never mind that the curious absence of visible precursors in public data, even though everyone has been looking for the last two years, strong suggests that it wasn’t an evolutionary accident at all in the first place. Whether the risk bucket for those who can get screwed will shrink to any material degree with time is not known. Only time with no more jabs will answer that question. Since coronaviruses have animal reservoirs the odds of this virus entirely disappearing approach zero. We can’t go back and un-jab those who did it. If what happened turns out to be a permanent enhancement in infective risk and the short straw comes up in evolution there’s nothing anyone can do about it now.

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“Helps” for two weeks?

Expert Panel Backs Fourth COVID Vaccine Dose for Israelis 18 and Over (Haaretz)

The expert panel advising the Health Ministry on the coronavirus recommended Tuesday offering a fourth shot to Israelis aged 18 and above, on condition that five months have passed since they received a third shot or recovered from the disease. The recommendation, which will expand Israel’s limited fourth vaccine rollout for Israelis above 60 and at-risk adults, still awaits approval by the Health Ministry director-general before implementation. The panel cited data showing that a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine given to people over 60 in Israel made them three times more resistant to serious illness than triple-vaccinated people in the same age group.

This figure is based on a comparison with people in the same age group who received a third dose at least four months earlier. The ministry said its analysis was based on statistics of some 400,000 people who had received a fourth shot and 600,000 who had received a third shot. Last week a study by Sheba Medical Center found that a fourth shot of the COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies to even higher levels than the third jab, but it likely is not enough to prevent omicron infections. The study, led by Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, included 270 staffers who received the fourth dose and a control group of employees who were not given a second booster.

Prof. Regev-Yochay, who is not on the advisory panel which made the recent recommendation, criticized the decision and said that the number of young Israelis in “serious condition or on ECMO machines” is still low and that therefore offering a fourth shot to “young people is wrong.”

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First you licence it, then you do the trials.

Thousands Needed To Try A New Covid Antiviral Treatment (BBC)

Over-50s and younger adults with underlying health conditions are being urged to participate in a study of a life-saving treatment for Covid-19. The study is open to those who test positive for Covid and had symptoms develop in the previous five days. Volunteers will be given pills to take at home. The study will help decide how antiviral drugs will be used, Prof Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said. Health Secretary Sajid Javid asked everyone eligible to “step forward” and “help us to learn more about medicines which could save thousands of lives”.


Antivirals were “part of our approach as we learn to live with Covid, by preventing the most vulnerable from being hospitalised”, he said. The pill being used in the Panoramic trial is called Molnupiravir and is made by Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD). It was licensed by UK regulators in November after trials showed promising results at reducing the risk of serious illness or death. The study will give doctors an idea of the potential benefits to vaccinated patients – and help the NHS plan how the drug can be used. Launched in December, it already has 4,500 people signed up but needs 6,000 more as soon as possible.

Read more …

How does a hospital value a human life?

Patient Removed From Heart Transplant List For Being Unvaccinated (DM)

An unvaccinated and gravely ill 31-year-old father-of-two has been taken off the donor list for a heart transplant by a Boston hospital because he ‘does not believe’ in the COVID vaccine. DJ Ferguson, who has a hereditary heart condition that causes his lungs and heart to fill with blood and fluid, was denied the life-saving organ transplant by Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The hospital said it removed Ferguson from the donor list because all transplant recipients need to get the vaccine in order to ‘create both the best chance for successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation.’

However, Ferguson’s father, David, said getting vaccinated is ‘kind of against his basic principles’ and that his son ‘doesn’t believe in it.’ ‘I think my boy is fighting pretty damn courageously and he has integrity and principles he really believes in and that makes me respect him all the more… It’s his body. It’s his choice.’ The hospital, which has a list of protocols for transplant candidates that includes a ban on lifestyle choices like smoking and alcohol, said requiring the COVID vaccine is common at many medical center’s throughout the country. The mortality rate for transplant recipients who fall ill with COVID is more than 20 percent, according to UCHealth.

‘It’s a policy they are enforcing and so because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list of a heart transplant,’ David told CBS Boston. ‘My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit.’ Ferguson’s family is considering transferring him to another hospital, but his wife said that he may be too weak to move. ‘At this point DJ is unable to leave the hospital until he gets the heart surgery he needs. Without the surgery his lungs and heart will continue to fill up with blood and fluid (on top of everything else that’s going on),’ said Ferguson’s wife, Heather Dawson, on Facebook.

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“..every game was taught to them by someone instead of invented..”

in praise of lawn darts (el gato)

we must be free to scrawl our own designs upon the world. we must face the difficulty of doing so, the responsibility for failure, the lessons of losing, and the triumphs of getting stuff right. that is the most important lesson in all of growing up. not piano or soccer or interpretive headstand watercolor painting and certainly not indoctrination into the grievance cults of wokedom: what must be learned is how to become self-governing. and it has been stolen from our children. it has been stolen by overbearing structure and supervision. every edge has been dulled, every pointy part wrapped in 4 layers of padding, every head helmeted, every scary image and idea painted over or hidden from view while every need, no matter how performative indulged.

everyone gets a trophy. we have taken from them not just the glories of doing it yourself and winning despite difficulty, but the actual skillset prerequisite to undertake such things. and that is the true damage. every game was taught to them by someone instead of invented. it was supervised by authority figures: parents, teachers, coaches, referees. disputes were resolved by these authority figures. and THAT is a serious, serious problem. system creation and dispute resolution are skills. they need to be learned, they need to be practiced. so does resilience. it’s stuff you have to figure out and grow into. a child of the 70’s would be shunned for the dire moral sin of “tattling.” it simply was not done. you rat the other kids out to an adult, you’re done here.

being the wussie kid was as low as low status got. sure, it’s tough. it can be nasty and unfair and everyone got bullied and beat up at some point. but, consider the alternative: every kid yells “MOM!” at the first sign of trouble and mom wades in and regulates. so no one ever learns anything except how to yell for help in more compelling fashion than the other kids. no one ever toughens up or gains the skills that allow independence. instead, they cultivate helplessness and stunted dependence. they do not learn to solve their own problems, they learn to rely upon authority figures to order and regulate their lives and engage in performative behavior to curry favor with the umpires. it’s a tattle tale arms race and it lasts a lifetime. he who tattles first usually wins and that’s a rotten incentive set.

then they go off to college and mom is no longer in yelling range. so they learn to yell “DEAN!” then they graduate and learn to yell “BOSS!” or “GOVERNMENT!” what choice do they have? they never learned to do this themselves, to handle and adapt to a plurality of views, to learn compromise and respect and conflict resolution. every disagreement is a threat you cannot assess or resolve. and so, you start to drown. worse, you start to adopted ever more absurd poses and positions to gain leverage in the “battle of tattle” and get to punch first or declare “no punchbacks.” we’ve all seen how THAT is going.

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“..in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy.”

The Neocons’ Primary War Tactic (Greenwald)

One of the most bizarre but important dynamics of Trump-era U.S. politics is that the most fanatical war-hungry neocons, who shaped Bush/Cheney militarism, have become the most popular pundits and thought leaders in American liberalism. They have not changed in the slightest — they are employing the same tactics they have always invoked, and for the same causes — but they have correctly perceived that their agenda is better served by migrating back to the Democratic Party which originally spawned their bloodthirsty ideology. The excuse offered by Democrats for their embrace of neocons — we did it only as a temporary coalition of convenience to oppose Trump — is false for many reasons.

This unholy alliance pre-dated Trump. In 2014 — long before anyone envisioned Trump descending down an escalator on his path to the White House — the journalist Jacob Heilbrunn wrote a New York Times op-ed entitled “The Next Act of the Neocons.” He predicted, correctly as it turned out, that “the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy.” The corporate media outlets consumed most voraciously by liberals are filled to the brim with war-loving neocons. Liberals catapult their books to the top of best-seller lists, spread their viral tweets, build their credibility into contracts with CNN and NBC News or stints as columnists for The New York Times and The Washington Post, and giddily applaud their cover stories for The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

Bill Kristol’s frequent appearances on MSNBC are due to his high levels of popularity among its liberal audience. One of the most beloved hosts on that network is the former spokesperson of the Bush/Cheney White House and 2004 Bush campaign, Nicolle Wallace. The Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt went from producing commercials in 2002 accusing War on Terror critics of being on the side of Al Qaeda to wallowing in “generational wealth” from gullible liberal donors giddy over their similar Trump-era ads accusing their enemies of being Kremlin agents and traitors. Two of The Washington Post’s most popular-among-liberal columnists are Jennifer Rubin and supreme war advocate (from a safe distance for him and his family) Max Boot.

Security state officials like former CIA Director John Brennan, former Bush CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper became liberal TV stars with their endless accusations that various Trump supporters were unpatriotic and treasonous. And on and on and on. But perhaps the most influential and beloved pundit in U.S. liberal political life now is former Bush White House speechwriter David Frum, now at The Atlantic and CNN. His cover stories for that magazine warning that Trump is an unprecedented evil (which has the convenient benefit of absolving him and the rest of the D.C. establishment of all their past sins) were passed around and celebrated as if they were this generation’s Dead Sea scrolls.

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“..the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses…”

Let’s Not Have A War (Taibbi)

In 2013, Ukraine was proceeding down a path of integration into the E.U. Paul Manafort client Viktor Yanukovich, always described in America as an outright puppet of Moscow, was actually a proponent of Euro-integration at this point. “Yanukovich cajoled and bullied anyone who pushed for Ukraine to have closer ties to Russia” is how Reuters correspondent Liz Piper described his attitude, quoting him as saying to those wanting to go back to Russia’s arms, “Forget about it.. forever!” But Putin’s ferocious tactics, including intense economic and military threats, pushed Yanukovich to back out of the EU deal, and take instead an economic trade package with Russia that included $15 billion and the lowering by a third the price the country paid for natural gas from Russia.

This, in turn, spurred a Western response via the “Maidan revolution,” really a U.S.-backed coup, in which Yanukovich was replaced with someone more suitable to our foreign policy geniuses. “Yats is our guy” is how our current undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland put it, insisting that Arseniy Yatsenuk be Ukraine’s next leader, even though Ukrainians might have preferred former boxer Vitaly Klitschko. When apprised some of the E.U. countries were uncomfortable with a coup, Nuland famously said, “Fuck the E.U.” Forget gunboats, here was F-bomb diplomacy!

Putin responded by annexing Crimea, which in turn led to the moment when Barack Obama made his decision to drop the bluff and stop the escalation. His reasoning was simple: Ukraine was always going to matter more to Russia than to the United States, and when push came to shove, he, Obama, wasn’t going to war over it. Moreover, because the hawks in Washington would never come out and say they would, either – “If there’s somebody in this town that would claim that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, they should speak up and be very clear about it,” he challenged – the issue instead would keep being presented as an improper defiance of consensus:

“There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow… And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses… You are judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons.”

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Don’t tell Blinken.

Russia May Not Be Poised To Invade Ukraine – Pentagon (RT)

US officials appear to have backtracked on claims that Moscow could be on the verge of ordering an invasion of neighboring Ukraine, while warning that the risk of escalation remains high. Speaking to reporters at a press briefing on Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that “obviously we’re mindful of things that the Russians could do that would potentially give us indications of some sort of imminent incursion.” However, he went on, “we’re not there yet, but we are watching for those indicators very, very closely.” At the same time, the official reiterated Washington’s assertions that Russia is seeking to “threaten its neighbor further and potentially violate further Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”

“It’s very clear that the Russians have no intention right now of de-escalating,” Kirby went on, adding that Washington wants to deter Moscow from attacking. The Pentagon has placed around 8,500 troops on higher alert on Monday in response to the tensions in Eastern Europe, while NATO simultaneously announced that it had put more forces on standby and sent additional ships and jet fighters to the region. The US, UK, and Australian embassies in Kiev were advised to evacuate non-essential staff and family members over the weekend as NATO continues to accuse Russia of gearing up to invade its neighbor. Moscow has repeatedly denied planning to attack Ukraine, with the Kremlin insisting that it forces are no threat.

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Alexey Danilov also appeared to downplay the risk of a larger conflict earlier this week. “As of today, we don’t see any grounds for statements about a full-scale offensive on our territory. It’s even physically impossible,” he said on Monday. Danilov added that Kiev was tracking the movement of Russian forces. “Maybe, [seeing Russian troops] is an oddity to our foreign partners who finally saw that there are Russian forces and they move a certain way,” Danilov said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky echoed a similar message in a televised address, urging the public not to panic. The comments come after US President Joe Biden warned during a press conference last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin could “move in,” adding that “he has to do something.”

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As long as Kamala polls even lower, 10% for the big guy.

Biden Approval Rating Tanks To New Low (NYP)

President Biden’s approval rating has tanked to a new low of just 39 percent as his administration contends with a number of domestic and global concerns, a new poll shows. The abysmal rating was derived from the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll that was shared exclusively with The Hill. “This is a new low for President Biden as he struggles to solve a myriad of issues,” pollster Mark Penn said, according to the report. The White House is grappling with soaring inflation, the pandemic, rising crime in big cities, an inability to pass signature legislation and an escalating situation overseas with a Russian threat to invade Ukraine.


The poll began computing Biden’s approval rating in March. The newest tally is six points less than Biden’s November rating of 45 percent. Just 18 percent of the 1,815 registered voters surveyed in the latest poll said they strongly approved of Biden’s work, the report said. 53 percent of those polled indicated they somewhat or strongly disapproved of the way the president is handling the job.

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“..the Supreme Court can refuse extradition on the one point now certified by the High Court”

Assange Hearing Day Oh God It Never Ends (Murray)

Now some of the appeal points which the High Court refused to certify as arguable and of general public interest, were important. One point was that the diplomatic assurances by the United States promised not to engage in certain illegal practices amounting to torture, but made that assurance conditional on Assange’s future behaviour. Now, legally prohibited treatment of prisoners does not become lawful if the prisoner does something wrong. That ought to have been a slam-dunk argument, even without the fact that the decision on Assange’s future behaviour would be made by precisely the same authorities who plotted to kidnap or murder him. All of which was not certified as an arguable point of law of general public interest.


What is certified and going forward is the simple question of whether the diplomatic assurances were received too late… By introducing them only at the appeal stage, the United States had evaded all scrutiny of their validity… This is very important, because it may be the screen behind which the British Establishment is sidling slowly towards the exit. ...the Supreme Court can refuse extradition on the one point now certified by the High Court, and it can be presented as nothing to do with anything bad about the USA and its governance, purely a technical matter of a missed deadline. Apologies all round, never mind old chap, and let’s get to the claret at Simpson’s. Can there really be an end in sight for Julian? Is the British Establishment quietly sidling to the exit?

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risch

Kheriaty

Berenson

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Jan 142022
 


Caravaggio Adoration of the Shepherds 1609

 

Clinical Outcomes Among Patients Infected With Omicron (medRxiv)
Omicron 91% Less Likely To Be Fatal Compared To Delta: CDC Study (NYP)
Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s OSHA Vaxx Mandate (ZH)
Not Surprising, And Deserved By All (Denninger)
Rand Paul Labels Fauci ‘Juvenile Political Creature’ For Playing The Victim (SN)
Dr. Oz Calls Fauci A ‘Petty Tyrant,’ Challenges Him To Debate (Hill)
Florida Family Fighting for Ivermectin: Appeals Court Expedites Case (ET)
Do Antigen Tests Work If You Are Asymptomatic? (Kirsch)
Why DID The Science Establishment Try So Hard To Silence Lab Leak Theory? (DM)
Dems’ Voting Bill Is ‘Crass Power Grab’ By ‘Clown Car’ Running DC (JTN)
“Mother Of All” Supply Chain Shocks Looms As China Locks Down Ports (ZH)
What The West Gets Wrong About Putin (Malmgren)
US Envoy In Europe Says ‘Drumbeat Of War Is Sounding Loud’ (Hill)

 

 

The most vaccinated state in the Union:

 

NHS nurse

 

 

Lord Frost
https://twitter.com/i/status/1481574856827232258

 

 

First time (?!) I see a science report claim deaths from Omicron. Well, sort of:

“Rates of ICU admission and mortality after an outpatient positive test were 0.26 (0.10-0.73) and 0.09 (0.01-0.75) fold as high among cases with Omicron variant infection ..”

We now have 1 case reported in UK, 1 case US (debunked), 1 case Israel (no evidence), and yesterday 1 case in Greece, “with” Omicron.

As case numbers have gone up 5 fold everywhere. If Omicron is at all capable of killing people, we should have seen a lot more reports like these. We do not.

Clinical Outcomes Among Patients Infected With Omicron (medRxiv)

Background: The Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly achieved global dissemination, accounting for most infections in the United States by December 2021. Risk of severe outcomes associated with Omicron infections, as compared to earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants, remains unclear.

Methods: We analyzed clinical and epidemiologic data from cases testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection within the Kaiser Permanente Southern California healthcare system from November 30, 2021 to January 1, 2022, using S gene target failure (SGTF) as assessed by the ThermoFisher TaqPath ComboKit assay as a proxy for Omicron infection. We fit Cox proportional hazards models to compare time to any hospital admission and hospital admissions associated with new-onset respiratory symptoms, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, mechanical ventilation, and mortality among cases with Omicron and Delta (non-SGTF) variant infections. We fit parametric competing risk models to compare lengths of hospital stay among admitted cases with Omicron and Delta variant infections.

Results: Our analyses included 52,297 cases with SGTF (Omicron) and 16,982 cases with non-SGTF (Delta [B.1.617.2]) infections, respectively. Hospital admissions occurred among 235 (0.5%) and 222 (1.3%) of cases with Omicron and Delta variant infections, respectively. Among cases first tested in outpatient settings, the adjusted hazard ratios for any subsequent hospital admission and symptomatic hospital admission associated with Omicron variant infection were 0.48 (0.36-0.64) and 0.47 (0.35-0.62), respectively. Rates of ICU admission and mortality after an outpatient positive test were 0.26 (0.10-0.73) and 0.09 (0.01-0.75) fold as high among cases with Omicron variant infection as compared to cases with Delta variant infection. Zero cases with Omicron variant infection received mechanical ventilation, as compared to 11 cases with Delta variant infections throughout the period of follow-up (two-sided p<0.001). Median duration of hospital stay was 3.4 (2.8-4.1) days shorter for hospitalized cases with Omicron variant infections as compared to hospitalized patients with Delta variant infections, reflecting a 69.6% (64.0-74.5%) reduction in hospital length of stay.

Conclusions: During a period with mixed Delta and Omicron variant circulation, SARS-CoV-2 infections with presumed Omicron variant infection were associated with substantially reduced risk of severe clinical endpoints and shorter durations of hospital stay.

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There we go again: “..just one of the 52,297 people infected with Omicron died..”.

Really? Where is the case description? Where are the details? It would be so unique that surely it would make headlines.

Walensky gives it away:

“We MAY see deaths from Omicron but I suspect that the deaths that we’re seeing now are still from Delta. ”

Omicron 91% Less Likely To Be Fatal Compared To Delta: CDC Study (NYP)

Omicron poses a “substantially reduced risk” of serious illness compared to Delta — and is more than 90 percent less likely to kill those infected, according to a federally funded study. The study, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wednesday, said it proved “compelling evidence of an intrinsically less severe infection” from the variant that currently accounts for 90 percent of cases in the US. The evaluation of more than 70,000 infected Californians saw those with Omicron less than half as likely to need hospitalization as those with Delta — and about 75 percent less likely to need intensive care. Those hospitalized also needed to stay approximately 70 percent less time, with a median treatment time of 1.5 days compared to five days for those with the previous dominant variant.


Even though the study looked at three times as many people with Omicron, none of them needed to go on a ventilator in the hospital — compared to 11 in the far smaller group with Delta. Most encouragingly, just one of the 52,297 people infected with Omicron died — a reduction of 91 percent compared to 14 deaths in the 16,982 studied with Delta. It did not say how old those who died were, or if they were vaccinated. CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that it likely means the recent increase in deaths is a lagging effect of the Delta variant, not the one rapidly replacing it. “We may see deaths from Omicron but I suspect that the deaths that we’re seeing now are still from Delta,” Walensky revealed.

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Threatening people’s lives and livelihoods over taking medicines, experimental or not, has always been a no-go. SCOTUS should not be needed for that. And they still leave the mandate for healthcare workers in place.

Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s OSHA Vaxx Mandate (ZH)

Despite the misinformation spewed forth by Justice Sotomayor, The US Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test rule for US businesses, but allows vaccine mandate for most health care workers. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) argue against the Department of Labor, in the Court’s first hearing, that: “OSHA’s sweeping regulatory dictate,” will “irreparably injure the very businesses that Americans have counted on to widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines and protective equipment to save lives—and to keep them fed, clothed, and sustained during this now two-year-long pandemic.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule would have required 80 million workers to get shots or periodic tests. The OSHA ruling vote was 6-3 with Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in dissent.

“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life – simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock – would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said during arguments that he thinks it’s hard to argue that the 1970 law governing OSHA “gives free reign to the agencies to enact such broad regulation.” The court allowed a separate rule to take effect requiring shots for workers in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments from the federal government (which will be interesting given that California just allowed COVID positive healthcare workers to go back to work).

The vaccine mandate for healthcare workers vote was 5-4 with Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett in dissent, which means Roberts and Kavanaugh joined liberal justices in allowing the HHS mandate on healthcare workers to stand. So with over 1 million COVID cases per day, record high inflation, Sinema blew out the filibuster, record low approval rating, and now his vaxx mandate in tatters, this seems to sum things up rather well… “This must be Biden’s worst day in office.”

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Karl is overdoing the I told you so. At some point, it gets ugly.

Not Surprising, And Deserved By All (Denninger)

The OSHA ruling got blown up by the Supremes, 6-3 as I expected. This leaves all the private-sector employers who issued mandates in front of it fully exposed for any and all bad side effects. I expect the lawsuits to start imminently and they will bankrupt plenty of people. Good. I hope every single virtue-signaling CEO and HR Karen gets in the ass. They deserve it. “OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the *****–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here.” Exactly and as I noted the Senate explicitly declined to approve such a measure in the last couple of months and in fact explicitly disapproved it.

Yes, it went nowhere in the House as expected but you need both houses of Congress to concur when it comes to an authority. I said this would get official notice by The Supremes and it did. “In fact, the most noteworthy action concerning the ******* mandate by either House of Congress has been a majority vote of the Senate disapproving the regulation on December 8, 2021. S. J. Res. 29, 117th Cong., 1st Sess. (2021).” With the Senate explicitly disavowing same and nothing in the Congressional Record nor acts over the last two years this was clearly doomed and died a well-deserved death. Now onto CMS. Here I predicted the most-likely outcome was a split decision upholding the mandate in nursing homes and other non-consensual situations.

What we got was a 5-4 upholding it on technical grounds and, having read the opinion, you won’t like why it happened. Let’s be blunt: You ****ed yourself, America, and you deserve this outcome. You put the Federal Government in charge of what it pays for when it comes to medical care. You let them, not you or your doctor, make those decisions. You have in fact cheered this on and allowed it. You even allowed it when Trump promised to stop it during the campaign, along with all of its corruption, and then on election night all three planks dealing with the medical monopolies, which were a mere start, disappeared and yet fully half the nation continued to suck his dick.

[..] Actions — and deliberate inactions — have consequences. I don’t like the outcome but it wasn’t illogical considering what was argued and what we, the people have permitted and set in motion over the last three decades. The solicitors on the State side failed to argue that (1) these are experimental injections and (2) as of now they don’t even ****ing work and even Pfizer’s CEO admits it.

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“Does he not realise I have people arrested once every month or two who have threatened to attack me, plus I have been attacked, and he’s going to come and blame his attacks on me?”

Rand Paul Labels Fauci ‘Juvenile Political Creature’ For Playing The Victim (SN)

Following the explosive latest exchange between Rand Paul and Anthony Fauci Tuesday, Fauci ran to CNN and MSNBC to complain more about how the Senator is attacking him for his own political gain, prompting Paul to label the NIAID head “juvenile”. On Chris Hayes’ show Fauci, stated “What you saw at the hearing today was pure ad hominem. And I called him [Paul] out because that’s exactly what he’s doing: he’s raising money.” Note that during the hearing Fauci did not present any evidence to counter Paul’s claims that the NIAID Director has continually lied under oath and has actively attempted to shut down scientists and doctors who disagree with him. Fauci attempted to shift the narrative to personal attacks against him.

Appearing on Fox News, Paul shot back, claiming that Fauci is now going even beyond saying he ‘is science’ and cannot be questioned, by suggesting that questioning him is encouraging violence. “It was a cheap shot by a politician, not a scientist,” Paul said, further noting “he’s blaming me for a death threat, but when [Republican members of Congress] were shot at by a Bernie Sanders supporter [in 2017], not one Republican stood up and said, oh, this is Bernie Sanders’s fault”. “We were not juvenile enough to do that,” Paul continued, adding “But he [Fauci] came to the hearing today and accused me of somehow inciting some lunatic person.” Paul further urged, “Does he not realise I have people arrested once every month or two who have threatened to attack me, plus I have been attacked, and he’s going to come and blame his attacks on me?”

“I think he has lied to the American public. I think that he funded the lab in Wuhan that in all likelihood this virus came from. I think he as ignored natural immunity. I think he has told people to wear a cloth mask when they don’t work,” Paul emphasised. In a further appearance, Paul said of Fauci “He didn’t answer the question why is he smearing these three doctors? I’m proud of the fact people go to RandPaul.com raising money to fire Fauci because he is a menace.” “Everything he said has been incorrect. And I think he is part of the problem, Paul continued, adding “Even from the very beginning the fact that this virus came from a lab in Wuhan he has denied it and worked to cover it up and denigrated anybody who raises this question as a conspiracy theorist.”

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I wouldn’t trust Oz at the far end of a ten foot pole, and this makes me think his campaign team is looking for -cheap- publicity, whether over the back of Fauci, or that of Rand Paul.

Dr. Oz Calls Fauci A ‘Petty Tyrant,’ Challenges Him To Debate (Hill)

GOP Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, more commonly known as “Dr. Oz” from his TV program “The Dr. Oz Show,” called infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci a “petty tyrant” and challenged him to a debate on COVID-19. “It’s past time Fauci faces the fact that he got COVID wrong. So, doctor to doctor – let’s debate. This Doctor is in, are you?” Oz said in a tweet Thursday while posting a campaign ad attacking Fauci. “Let’s get the facts straight here. You and me. Let’s have a debate, doctor to doctor, and give the American people the truth about COVID-19. I’m game. Anytime. Anywhere. Dr. Fauci, are you in?” Oz said in the campaign video.


Fauci has been under attack by Republicans throughout the pandemic, as many in the party disagree with how the country’s leading infectious diseases expert has guided the U.S. through the coronavirus. Oz said on Newsmax on Thursday that he wants to debate Fauci on vaccine mandates, natural immunity from COVID-19 infections and delays with drugs such as monoclonal antibodies. “He is a petty tyrant. He got COVID wrong. He continues to get it wrong,” Oz told the outlet, noting that “doctors like me” think Fauci has not managed the pandemic correctly.

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Mayo Clinic would rather have people die than give in. That redefines “shameless”.

Florida Family Fighting for Ivermectin: Appeals Court Expedites Case (ET)

Florida’s First District Court of Appeal has expedited the process to decide a lawsuit filed by the family of a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator at a Jacksonville hospital. Attorneys for Mayo Clinic Florida have until 10 a.m. Jan. 13 to respond to the appeal filed by the family of 70-year-old Daniel Pisano. Then the family’s attorneys will have until Jan. 14 to file additional arguments. At that time, a three-panel judge could be appointed to decide the case. Mayo Clinic has said Pisano, who has been on a ventilator 22 days, has a slim chance of survival. But an outside doctor, who is not affiliated with Mayo Clinic, testified in an emergency hearing Dec. 30 that there’s still a good chance to save him—although there’s no time to delay, the physician said.

In a desperate attempt to save their loved one, the Pisano family has begged Mayo Clinic to try a protocol widely used by independent physicians around the country and developed by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance. Mayo Clinic officials have refused and attorneys have fought the family’s wishes vigorously in court. Claudia Pisano, Daniel Pisano’s wife of 51 years, and their son, Chris, have power of attorney and legally have the right to ask for the treatment of their choice, their attorneys have argued. But Daniel Pisano is declining fast and running out of time, they say. The family’s trusted doctor, Dr. Eduardo Balbona of Jacksonville, testified that in order to save him the hospital must quickly allow treatment—with ivermectin and other drugs and supplements—he’s used to help dozens of critically ill COVID-19 patients recover.

Being on the ventilator is doing harm to Pisano and other patients fighting COVID-19, Balbona testified. After considering the testimony in the three-hour hearing, Judge Marianne Aho, of Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, denied the family’s plea to force Mayo Clinic doctors to step aside and let Balbona treat their dying loved one. Aho wrote, “An individual’s right to privacy is one of self-determination, the right to accept or refuse. It is not a right to demand a particular treatment. It is not a right to substitute one’s judgment as to which treatments must be made available by others. There is no right, constitutional or otherwise, of a patient to substitute one’s judgment for a medical professional.” The family disagrees saying the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights gives them the right to choose between treatment options and they’ve offered to release Mayo Clinic from all liability in following through with that care. They filed an appeal Jan. 9.

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Stop testing healthy people.

Do Antigen Tests Work If You Are Asymptomatic? (Kirsch)

Here’s what you need to know about antigen rapid tests: 1/ In general, each test brand will test for a specific antigen. They may or may not tell you which antigen they detect. 2/ Each brand has a different sensitivity. For low sensitivity tests, it will be fruitless to test if you are not symptomatic because it will almost certainly be negative. It would be nice if they correlated the results with PCR cycle thresholds, but those are non-standard as well. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there are no standards to inform you on 1 and 2 above. There is no “reference standard” that they compare to.


This of course means that you can be wasting serious money taking tests when you are asymptomatic because the certain brands will never be positive if you are asymptomatic. I want to thank Dr. Byram Bridle for pointing this out to me. They really should tell you, “Hey, if you aren’t symptomatic, don’t bother to take our test.” The manufacturers are never going to tell you that (since they aren’t required to), but I thought you should know.

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How about a Special Counsel?

Why DID The Science Establishment Try So Hard To Silence Lab Leak Theory? (DM)

There are now two core questions over the birth of this pandemic: did Covid emerge through some kind of scientific mishap or through natural transmission from animals? And why did the science establishment work so hard to silence dissident voices? Indeed, it seems incredible that not only does Farrar remain in a job in which he directs so much crucial medical research, but even saw his annual salary rise by £28,000 to £512,000 last year, according to latest accounts. For Sir Jeremy is a pivotal figure in the sequence of secretive events that followed the emergence of a new disease in Wuhan in late 2019. Many of the growing concerns revolve around a secretive teleconference Farrar led on February 1 2020, as fears over the emerging pandemic exploded.

And the more we learn through leaks, freedom of information requests, interviews and tenacious investigations, the more it smacks of an establishment conspiracy to stifle debate over high-risk science – ironically by accusing those who challenge the consensus of being conspiracy theorists. The call involved the two most influential scientists in America – controversial presidential adviser Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Francis Collins, then head of the US major funding body financially supporting high-risk research into bat coronaviruses conducted in Wuhan – plus 11 experts including Sir Patrick Vallance, our government’s chief scientific adviser. We know from Farrar’s book and previous email disclosures that several key participants, including Farrar, were concerned the deadly new virus was linked to research in Wuhan, home to several labs carrying out research into bat coronaviruses.

One Australian-based virologist said he was ‘80 per cent sure this thing had come out of a lab’ while another key participant was ‘60 to 70 per cent’ convinced. After their hour-long discussion, Farrar remained uncertain, saying ‘this will remain grey unless there is access to the Wuhan lab’. Yet, following that call and the airing of those views, the scientists’ public stance changed with bizarre speed for such a vexatious scientific conundrum – especially given the lack of data from Wuhan or any assistance from Beijing. They began publishing punchy statements dismissing lab leaks in the most prestigious science journals, some of which have extensive commercial ties to China. And they were backed by patsy politicians and supine journalists, whose hostility was inflamed by then President Donald Trump’s allegations about the ‘China virus’.

The result was this vital debate was set back at least a year. Farrar and two other Wellcome Trust experts signed a key statement in the Lancet medical journal praising Chinese efforts to tackle the disease while saying they ‘strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid does not have a natural origin’. It later emerged the article was covertly organised within days of the call by Peter Daszak, a British scientist whose New York organisation funnelled US funds to research partners at Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s top biosafety lab. Farrar also quietly assisted five scientists, four of whom were on that call, to write a commentary in Nature Medicine that firmly stated the authors ‘do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible’. This hugely-influential statement has been accessed 5.62 million times and cited by more than 2,000 academic papers.

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Come for the headline, stay for the content.

Dems’ Voting Bill Is ‘Crass Power Grab’ By ‘Clown Car’ Running DC (JTN)

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a proponent of election integrity reform, said Wednesday that the bills currently making their way through Congress that are designed to federalize elections are part of “the same clown car that has driven this constitutional republic to a disastrous edge.” He made the comments following President Joe Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’ speeches on Tuesday in Georgia regarding Democrats’ voting legislation. Blackwell, former mayor of Cincinnati, told the John Solomon Reports podcast Wednesday that the Democrats’ election bills are “a crass power grab by the … clown car that is now running Washington, D.C.”

After listing the Biden administration’s unpopular policies and political failures, such as “soaring inflation” and the supply chain crisis, Blackwell explained how the Democrats want to unconstitutionally federalize elections. “[E]lections take place at the local level, in a decentralized way, because, one, that is where you have transparency, that’s where you have familiarity, that’s where you have buy-in,” he said. “And if you start to take it away from states and localities, you run the risk of the same clown car that has driven this constitutional republic to a disastrous edge taking control of our elections. It won’t stand.”

Blackwell criticized Democrats for their inconsistency on showing ID to vote versus providing proof of vaccination as Washington, D.C.’s vaccine mandate — which includes showing a vaccine card and photo ID at venues such as restaurants and gyms — goes into effect Saturday. Regarding voter ID, he said, “To equate these common-sense reforms that states are putting in place to ensure the integrity of the election system as being a throwback to Jim Crow is an insult to all Americans, especially those in the African-American community.”

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Zero covid will mean zero supplies.

“Mother Of All” Supply Chain Shocks Looms As China Locks Down Ports (ZH)

Over the past month, as Wall Street turned increasingly optimistic on US growth alongside the Fed, with consensus (shaped by the Fed’s leaks and jawboning) now virtually certain of a March rate hike, we have been repeatedly warning that after a huge policy error in 2021 when the Fed erroneously said that inflation is “transitory” (it wasn’t), the central bank is on pace to make another just as big policy mistake in 2022 by hiking as many as 4 times and also running off its massive balance sheet… right into a global growth slowdown.


And, as we have also discussed in recent weeks, one place where this growth slowdown is emerging – besides the upcoming deterioration in US consumption where spending is now being funded to record rates by credit cards before it encounters a troubling air pocket – is China and its “covid-zero” policy in general, and its covid-locked down ports in particular. But what until recently was a minority view confined to our modest website, has since expanded and as Bloomberg writes overnight, the effects of restrictions in China as the country maintains its Covid-zero policy “are starting to hit supply chains in the region.” As a result of the slow movement of goods through some of the country’s busiest and most important ports means shippers are now diverting to Shanghai, causing the types of knock-on delays at the world’s biggest container port that led to massive congestion bottlnecks last summer that eventually translated into a record number of container ships waiting off the coast of California, a glut that hasn’t been cleared to this day.

With sailing schedules already facing delays of about a week, freight forwarders warn of the impact on already back-logged gateways in Europe and the US and is also why HSBC economists are warning that the world economy could be headed for the “mother of all” supply chain shocks if the highly infectious omicron variant which is already swamping much of the global economy spreads across Asia, especially China, at which point disruption to manufacturing will be inevitable. “Temporary, one would hope, but hugely disruptive all the same” in the next few months, they wrote in a research note this week first noted by Bloomberg. For those who have forgotten last year’s global shockwave when China locked down its ports for several days, a quick reminder: it led to an unprecedented hiccup in global logistics and shipping which hasn’t been resolved to this day. That’s because China is the world’s biggest trading nation and its ability to keep its factories humming through the pandemic has been crucial for global supply chains.

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Disappointing. Advisor to 3 different presidents, Malmgren, tells me nothing I don’t already know about Putin. And he doesn’t appear to say what it is the west gets wrong.

What The West Gets Wrong About Putin (Malmgren)

In 1999, Vladimir Putin suddenly sprang from bureaucratic obscurity to the office of Prime Minister. When, a few months later, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and Putin was voted in as President, governments around the world were taken by surprise yet again. How could this unknown figure have amassed national voter support with so little media attention? I had first met Putin seven years before and was not surprised by his rapid domination of the new Russia. We were introduced by Yevgeny Primakov, widely known as “Russia’s Kissinger”, who I had met in Moscow multiple times during the Cold War years when I advised Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. Primakov was a no-nonsense thinker and writer. He was also a special emissary for the Kremlin in conducting secret discussions with national leaders around the world.

When Yeltsin tasked his advisor Anatoly Sobchak with identifying and recruiting Russia’s best and brightest, Putin, then a local politician in his hometown of St Petersburg, was top of his list — so Primakov took Putin under his wing to tutor him in global power and security issues. Eventually, Primakov introduced Kissinger to Putin, and they became close. That both Primakov and Kissinger took time to coach Putin on geopolitics and geosecurity was a clear demonstration that they saw in him the characteristics of a powerful leader. It also showed Putin’s capacity for listening to lengthy lessons on geopolitics — as I was soon to learn.

In 1992, I received a call from a meeting organiser at the CSIS think tank inviting me to join a US-Russia St Petersburg Commission to be chaired by Kissinger and Sobchak. The purpose would be to help the new Russian leadership in opening channels of business and banking with the West. Most of the Western members would be CEOs of major US and European companies, as well as key officials of the new Russian government. I would attend as an expert. I was told that a “Mr Primakov” had personally asked if I could make time to participate. I could hardly refuse such a request, and I was intensely curious about the emerging Russian leadership, especially about Putin.

Arriving at the first meeting, I saw several people gathered around Kissinger and a man I was told was Putin. An official identified himself to me and said he had been asked by Primakov to introduce me to Putin. He interrupted the conversation with Kissinger to announce my arrival; Putin warmly responded that he was looking forward to chatting with me about how I see the world from inside Washington. We spoke on several occasions between meetings, and he arranged to sit next to me at a dinner, accompanied by his interpreter. At that dinner, he asked me: “What is the single most important obstacle between your Western businessmen and my fellow Russians in starting up business connections?”

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The neocons are with Biden now.

US Envoy In Europe Says ‘Drumbeat Of War Is Sounding Loud’ (Hill)

Washington’s envoy in Europe on Thursday issued a stark warning of war in Eastern Europe amid Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border but said the U.S. and the majority of its allies support ongoing dialogue to tamp down tensions. “We’re facing a crisis in European security. The drumbeat of war is sounding loud, and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill,” said Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Carpenter spoke with reporters following a meeting of the OSCE focused on advancing diplomacy between the U.S., Europe and Russia, the conclusion of an extraordinary session of three diplomatic meetings on the continent this week and in response to Russian military provocations.


“There’s close to 100,000 troops on the Russian side of its border with Ukraine. Their presence and the live fire measures being carried out are raising many questions about Moscow’s intention,” Carpenter said. The OSCE meeting, which took place in Vienna on Thursday, was the first inaugural permanent council meeting of 2022 but was overtaken by discussions surrounding Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border. Both nations are members of the security group. It was the first time Russian and Ukrainian officials met in person to discuss what Moscow calls its security concerns and followed bilateral talks between the U.S. and Russia in Geneva on Monday and between Russia and NATO on Wednesday in Brussels.

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Aftter an 8-hour shift wearing a properly fittted N95 mask:

 

 

 

The only half mask that works, according to Steve Kirsch.

 

 

 

Carson

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Dec 162021
 
 December 16, 2021  Posted by at 9:26 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  65 Responses »


Yasuhiro Ishimoto Untitled, Chicago 1950

 

mRNA Vaccine To Blame For 98% Of Cases Of Myocarditis Among Children (DE)
Has Omicron Shifted RBD Specificity Away From Deep Lung Tissue? (Malone)
Ryanair Boss Says UK Response To Omicron Shaped By ‘Panic’ and ‘Idiots’ (G.)
Moderna CMO: Delta and Omicron Could Combine to Create ‘Monster’ Virus (SN)
Alaska Medical Board Takes No Stance On Off-label Covid-19 Treatments (ADN)
Senate to Prevent Dishonorable Discharges for Unvaccinated Servicemembers (ET)
RFK Jr. Building Anti-Vaxxer Empire (Claus)
Neocons Bent On Starting Another Disaster In Ukraine (AT)
Schiff Doctored Text Messages Between Mark Meadows And Rep. Jim Jordan (Fed.)
Moscow Likens Treatment Of Assange To ‘Cannibalism’ (RT)

 

 

 

 

Denmark daily update: still nothing:

 

 

 

Breaking: Twitter suspended @TheRightMelissa

Statement: Twitter just suspended my account with almost half a million followers with no warning for sharing a clip from the Joe Rogan podcast where he is interviewing Doctor McCullough. Twitter said this was “harmful information”.

 

 

“..median age was 15.8 years..”

mRNA Vaccine To Blame For 98% Of Cases Of Myocarditis Among Children (DE)

The American Heart Association has published a new study which has found that 98% of all cases of Myocarditis among children are due to the mRNA Covid-19 injections. The new study was conducted by dozens of doctors and scientists from several Universities, Children’s Hospitals, and Schools of Medicine across the USA and was published on the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal ‘Circulation’ on December 6th 2021. The researchers investigated 139 children and young adults with 140 episodes of suspected myocarditis, of which 49 were confirmed and 91 were probable. Most of the patients were male (126) and the median age was 15.8 years. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, whereas pericarditis is inflammation of the protective sacs surrounding the heart. Both are extremely serious conditions due to the vital role the heart plays in keeping a person alive, and the fact that the heart muscle cannot regenerate. Serious myocarditis can lead to cardiac arrest and knock years off a persons life.

Results shows that suspected myocarditis occurred in 136 of the patients equating to 98% of all cases of myocarditis. The Pfizer injection was responsible for 131 (94%) of these cases, with 128 (92% occurring after the second dose. The researchers state in their findings that the most common symptom was chest pain, occurring in 99% of the patients, and that 26 patients (19%) were admitted to intensive care because of the condition.

According to a recent update published by the UK Medicine Regulator the MHRA, as of 17 Nov 21, there had been 686 cases of myocarditis, and 578 cases of pericarditis reported as adverse reactions to the Covid-19 injections. This is among the 18,354 cardiac disorders reported with 290 fatalities. However, it is known that there is gross underreporting of adverse reactions with the MHRA previously stating just 10% of adverse reactions are reported. On 29 Nov 21, the UK Health Security Agency (“UKHSA”) recognised cardiac disorders are a risk of Covid injections. UKHSA issued clinical guidance to support the detection and management of clinical cases of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with Covid injections. In particular for children and people aged under 40.

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“What if what has really happened is that Omicron has evolved to change the location where it replicates in our body?”

RBD= receptor binding domain

Has Omicron Shifted RBD Specificity Away From Deep Lung Tissue? (Malone)

Vaccination with the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 creates a “selection” force on any swarm of viruses that infect a new host. So does the immunity created by “natural immunity” – the adaptive and innate immune responses that your body is left with after it has been infected and recovered from that infection. Basically, anything that creates an obstacle to the virus infecting a host, replicating, and jumping to another host will drive the virus to evolve to evade that obstacle.

Spike is an interesting protein, and it performs many essential tasks for the virus. One of the most important things that Spike does is to grab onto proteins on the surface of your cells, and then it changes shape and becomes a sort of syringe that injects the RNA genome of the virus into the cell it has grabbed onto. But first it has to grab onto something. That something is a receptor, typically the ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme II) protein, that is on the outside of certain types of cells. The part of Spike that does that is called the receptor binding domain (RBD). The primary objective of the genetic Spike vaccines is to cause your body to make antibodies that block the ability of the Spike RBD to bind ACE2. But ACE2 is not just a protein- it is a protein covered with sugar molecules (eg. heavily glycosylated). Changes in the patterns of how these sugar molecules are attached to ACE2 can have a big impact on whether SARS-CoV-2 can infect cells. And changes in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of Spike will not only influence how well it can evade vaccine-induced antibodies, but also how it interacts with ACE2.

What we know about Omicron is that it has many new mutations in the RBD. These mutations are absolutely associated with increased resistance to the effects of vaccine-induced antibodies. But was the development of this cluster of new mutations driven by natural selection due to vaccination? In an area of the world that does not have a very high vaccination rate? That does not make sense.

What if Omicron is the consequence of evolutionary pressure to replicate and infect more efficiently, perhaps to compete with Delta? Or as a consequence of passing between human and animal (cat, ungulate) hosts? What if what has really happened is that Omicron has evolved to change the location where it replicates in our body? What if it has evolved to replicate more in our upper respiratory airway, and less in the deep part of our lung tissues?

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Not entirely true. The whole continent has “piss-poor political leadership”.

Ryanair Boss Says UK Response To Omicron Shaped By ‘Panic’ and ‘Idiots’ (G.)

The Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, has said the UK government’s response to the Omicron Covid variant has been shaped by “panic” and “idiots”, blaming travel restrictions for a million fewer passengers than forecast flying on his airline this month. The chief executive of Europe’s biggest carrier contrasted the recent policies implemented in the UK demanding PCR tests for all arrivals with EU states where most fully vaccinated people can travel more freely. Speaking from Dublin to the Guardian on Wednesday, he said: “The panic is largely confined to the UK and Ireland. Across the continent there’s been a much more reasoned approach.”

While Ryanair is offering fares of as little as £5 one way, O’Leary said “price incentives are not going to make any difference” around Christmas, which he said was well-booked, but the airline would fly about 10 million people this month instead of the forecast 11 million, and would cut about 10% of its capacity in January. He said: “Where it’s really hit us has been the early weeks of December, bookings in and out of Ireland and the UK … The rest of the continent is still travelling for business and for leisure.” O’Leary said the UK economy was suffering from “piss-poor political leadership”, adding: “What deters booking is the whole uncertainty – this idea that if I travel abroad if the government changes the rules in 24 hours I could be stranded, even if Covid-free and vaccinated … Travel only exists on a degree of confidence.

“People in the UK recognise that the government there are idiots. You wouldn’t rely on [Boris] Johnson or Grant Shapps, or Dominic Raab who can’t add or subtract – would you want your journey dependent on the intervention of those idiots? The answer is no.” Before the mounting medical concern over Omicron, O’Leary declared: “What’s likely to happen is that we all get to Christmas, everybody calms down, the politicians fuck off for two weeks and everything settles down again. We’ll arrive back in January and realise, as South Africa has been telling us for four weeks, it is not going to flood your hospitals.”

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More panic, more idiots.

Moderna CMO: Delta and Omicron Could Combine to Create ‘Monster’ Virus (SN)

Moderna’s chief medical officer has warned that the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 could combine to create a ‘monster’ virus. Here we go again. Paul Burton made the comments while addressing the House of Commons Technologies and Science Committee members on Tuesday. Burton claimed that it was possible for someone to contract both variants at the same time, which “certainly gives an opportunity for the two viruses to, what we call, recombinate,” meaning they could begin to “share genes and to swap genes over.” This could “certainly” lead to worse COVID-19 symptoms than usual, according to Burton, who added that “it is really important to think about it” given the rapid spread of Omicron.


Aleksandr Semyonov, head of Russia’s Vector virology research center, said that although it would be a “rather rare phenomenon,” a potential Delta-Omicron combination is still possible. I’m sure the solution to any future variant or ‘monster virus’ will be more restrictions, more lockdowns and yet more vaccines. And Moderna will be handily placed to take advantage of that. As we previously highlighted, Moderna’s Stephane Bancel said that even younger people will have to get vaccine booster shots at least once every three years.

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Voices of reason.

Alaska Medical Board Takes No Stance On Off-label Covid-19 Treatments (ADN)

As it investigates several complaints against medical professionals involving possible COVID-19 misinformation or false treatments, the Alaska State Medical Board declined to take a public stance on such issues and instead said that it is seeking to “remain impartial.” Describing an influx of letters and testimony — including requests that the board come out against the use of off-label COVID-19 treatments, or that the board sanction the licenses of those who don’t support such treatments or have spoken out against them — the board last week said that it believed its role was to investigate each case on its merits. “The Alaska State Medical Board recognizes that there are many issues surrounding the care and treatment of Covid-19 patients,” reads the statement, which was drafted by Dr. Richard Wein, board chair.

“However, as the body that must review and adjudicate matters as they present to us, we recognize and maintain as a foundational ideal to remain impartial in our evaluations to the best of our ability.” “While we welcome and encourage input on regulatory matters, any decision to sanction the license of a medical professional is based on state law, not board member preference or public opinion,” the board said in the statement, which was posted on the division’s website Friday. The medical board’s statement comes after nearly 150 Alaska physicians signed a letter asking the board to investigate doctors who publicly advocated for the use of unproven COVID-19 treatments such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine during the latest and deadliest virus surge, which peaked this fall.

Anchorage psychiatrist Merijeanne Moore drafted the letter because of concerns over an October event in Anchorage that highlighted COVID-19 early treatments and featured prominent vaccine skeptics. Two local doctors — Ilona Farr and John Nolte — spoke at the summit, which was organized by a group calling itself the Alaska Covid Alliance. Around 1,200 people attended the event in person, according to event organizers. The summit was held at a time when Alaska’s COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates were leading the nation, multiple hospitals had enacted crisis standards of care and the state’s vaccination rate was in the bottom third nationwide.

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Hopefully.

Senate to Prevent Dishonorable Discharges for Unvaccinated Servicemembers (ET)

The Senate has passed a draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would forbid the Department of Defense from dishonorably discharging members of the military whose only offense was refusing the vaccine. The bill rider to the larger NDAA package was put forward by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) to “prevent Joe Biden from dishonorably discharging servicemembers for choosing to not get the COVID vaccine.” The amendment to the NDAA would not protect men and women in the military from being discharged from the military, but it would protect them from the social stigma of a dishonorable discharge, only permitting those who refuse the vaccine to be discharged honorably.


In a statement on the legislation’s passage, Marshall said “As a former Army doctor, I am proud the NDAA passed the Senate and included my amendment to ensure servicemembers will be protected from a dishonorable discharge for choosing not to get the COVID vaccine.” “Simply put,” he continued, “a dishonorable discharge treats our heroes as felons. But, our American heroes deserve better.” “I support the vaccine, but I also support those who are defending our freedoms and have carefully weighed their decision on whether to receive the COVID vaccine,” Marshall said. “With our amendment in the NDAA, we were able to provide our service men and women with the medical freedom they rightly deserve.”

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It’s not the vax producers, or those that uphold the narrative, who have built an empire. It’s those that ask questions about it. Sweet Jesus. This is from website named Greek Reporter. Oh, and not one word about RFK’s bestseller on The Real Dr. Fauci.

RFK Jr. Building Anti-Vaxxer Empire (Claus)

The undeniable cachet of the American political family the Kennedys is still strong, as RFK Jr. is now building an antivaxxer empire, attracting thousands to his appearances and heading up an organization he says is about protecting children from coronavirus vaccines. The former environmental activist who once was the senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has become a self-proclaimed vaccine expert, garnering huge crowds at his appearances, at which he declares giving the coronavirus vaccine to children is “criminal medical malpractice.” At a local appearance in front of a conservative gathering at a church in Southern California he told the crowd that Democrats “drank the Kool-Aid,” aligning himself with the right-wing conspiracy activists who say among other things that the vaccines are part of various plots to destabilize society.

The Kennedy cachet, which has attracted the public since his uncle John Kennedy’s rise to power in the early 1960’s, is clearly still in full force, as he riveted the crowd with his piercing blue eyes. Looking almost like a twin of his father, Senator Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated during a campaign stop in 1968, Kennedy proves once again that star power is one of the most dynamic forces in the world — for good or ill. Now, with his reach extending across the internet and with vaccine misinformation leading to many millions of people refusing the coronavirus vaccines, this star power has taken on an entirely new form and virulence. His group, “Children’s Health Defense,” uses incorrect information, cherry-picked facts and conspiracy theories to spread distrust about coronavirus vaccines, the Associated Press alleged on Wednesday.

And its reach is growing exponentially, with the CHD launching an internet TV channel and a movie studio as well. Opening new U.S. branches as a result in the increasing interest it is generating among anti-vaxxers, it now has opened offices in Canada, Europe and Australia. Translating articles into French, German, Italian and Spanish, its social media posts have been shared in Norway and Greece. The CHD appears to be following a very shrewd strategy in social media, as its followers share links to the group under posts from US state governors, as well as schools, hospitals, the military, universities, news outlets, and even a major league soccer team, the AP reports.

In his most recent speech in California, Kennedy charged “It is criminal medical malpractice to give a child one of these vaccines.” He then promoted his book on vaccines to the crowd, assuring them that all the profits would go to the CHD. The AP found in an investigation that the CHD’s revenues more than doubled during the first year of the pandemic, hitting $6.8 million. Similarweb, a digital intelligence company, says that the CHD has now reached a peak of nearly 4.7 million visits per month from online surfers. [..] Over 200 million Americans have now been immunized against the coronavirus, and serious side effects are extremely rare, according to all reports since last year’s rollout. Any health risks or incidents that occur as a result of vaccination are far fewer and less severe than the risks of contracting the virus.

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Usual suspects.

Neocons Bent On Starting Another Disaster In Ukraine (AT)

If anything, Washington’s neoconservatives have an unerring instinct for survival. Having brought about multiple disasters in the two decades since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, from the Iraq war to the twin debacles in Libya and Syria, the neocons seem to have perfected the art of failing up. Harvard University’s Stephen Walt once quipped that “Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry.” And in this regard, the story of the Kagan family is instructive. Robert Kagan, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and author of pseudo-histories such as The Jungle Grows Back, has for years been a leading advocate of American militarism.

His brother Frederick is a resident scholar at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. Writing in The Hill on December 7, Frederick Kagan claimed that Russian control of Ukraine “would create an existential threat to Poland and even to Romania – one that could be met only by major deployments of US and European ground and air forces to what could become a new Iron Curtain.” He and his wife Kimberly, who heads the Institute for the Study of War – another pro-war Washington think-tank – were close advisers to the disgraced general and former Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus. Indeed, both Frederick and his wife are frequently cited as the brains behind the surge strategy pursued by George W Bush’s administration in 2007-2008.

But the most powerful member of the Kagan clan is Victoria Nuland, who is the wife of Robert and is the US undersecretary of state for political affairs. Under Barack Obama, Nuland served as the State Department spokeswoman, a position for which she was manifestly overqualified (and that becomes especially clear if one takes the qualifications of the current spokesman into consideration), before assuming the role of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. It was in this role that Nuland helped orchestrate the overthrow of a democratically elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014 that led to a civil war in which more than 13,000 people have died, according to the United Nations.

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Schiff is THE symbol of the Democratic Party. And the Jan 6 committee is far more dangerous to demoocracy than the Jan 6 protest ever was.

Schiff Doctored Text Messages Between Mark Meadows And Rep. Jim Jordan (Fed.)

Oops, he did it again. After leaking fake Donald Trump, Jr. emails, fabricating the transcript of a 2019 phone call between former President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president, and lying about his interactions with the so-called whistleblower behind House Democrats’ first impeachment of Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is now running the same con against a fellow lawmaker. During a hearing Monday night on the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Adam Schiff claimed to have proof that a member of Congress texted former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to instruct former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Not only did Schiff misrepresent the substance of the text message and its source, he even doctored original text messages, which were obtained and reviewed by The Federalist in their entirety.


“I want to display just a few of the message[s] he received from people in Congress,” Schiff said, referring to Meadows. “The committee is not naming these lawmakers at this time as our investigation is ongoing. If we could cue the first graphic.” The following graphic, purportedly of the text message between a member of Congress and Meadows, then appeared on screen at Schiff’s direction:

“This one reads, ‘On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,’” Schiff continued. “You can see why this is so critical to ask Mr. Meadows about. About a lawmaker suggesting that the former vice president simply throw out votes that he unilaterally deems unconstitutional in order to overturn a presidential election and subvert the will of the American people.” Not only did Schiff lie about the substance of the text message and its source, he even doctored the message and graphic that he displayed on screen during his statement. The full text message, which was forwarded to Meadows from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on the evening of Monday, Jan. 5, was significantly longer than what Schiff read and put on screen, but Schiff erased significant portions of the text and added punctuation where there was none to give the impression that Jordan himself was tersely directing Meadows to give orders to Pence on how to handle the electoral vote certification.


[..] Schiff also lied about his interactions with the so-called whistleblower whose leak of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky was used by House Democrats as a pretext for impeaching Trump and overturning the 2016 election results. Coincidentally, Schiff’s lie came in response to a question during a November 2019 hearing from Jordan about interactions between Schiff and his staff and the so-called whistleblower. “First, as the gentleman knows,” Schiff lectured, “that’s a false statement. I do not know the identity of the whistleblower.” However, according to a report from The New York Times, the so-called whistleblower personally contacted Schiff’s office before the so-called whistleblower ever even filed his complaint against Trump with the inspector general that is supposed to oversee the country’s federal spy agencies.

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“If this is part of the mindset of Western civilization, then everything else about it is canceled automatically. There cannot be any other interpretation.”

Moscow Likens Treatment Of Assange To ‘Cannibalism’ (RT)

The treatment of Julian Assange amounts to “real cannibalism” by Western governments, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, pointing out that the WikiLeaks founder is being punished for publishing the truth about US atrocities. “The actions of recent years are real ‘cannibalism’ shown by our Western partners,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing on Friday, answering a question about Russia’s official position on Assange. “This is no longer about double standards or about trampling the principles and ideals [the West claims to champion]”, she added, calling the West’s treatment of Assange “revenge” for his decision to share with the world the information that shed light on “lies and deception” by multiple governments.


“One way or another, this is a person committed to the principles of freedom of speech, which is of fundamental importance for international relations. With his life and deeds, he defended the very values that many only issue statements about”, said Zakharova. Assange spent years trapped inside the embassy of Ecuador in London, before a new government in Quito revoked his asylum. He was dragged out of the embassy by British police in April 2019, and has been kept at the Belmarsh maximum-security prison ever since. His health has deteriorated considerably, and his fiance Stella Moris recently revealed that he had suffered a stroke back in October. Zakharova noted that Assange had become a “completely different man” as a result of his captivity, deprived of fresh air, walks and sunlight. If this is part of the mindset of Western civilization, then everything else about it is canceled automatically. There cannot be any other interpretation.

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Nov 262019
 


Paul Gauguin Landscape with black pigs and a crouching Tahitian 1891

 

The Real Bombshell of the Impeachment Hearings (Ron Paul)
Neocon Uses Impeachment To Push Russophobic Agenda (Stockman)
12 Document Troves That Could Change The Ukraine Scandal (Solomon)
The Resistance Digs Their Hole Deeper (Kunstler)
CNN: Trump Is Leader Of ‘Destructive Cult’ , Uses ‘Mind-Control’ (SN)
Spiegel Finds Browder’s Magnitsky Narrative Is Riddled With Lies (RT)
Hong Kong Part Of China and No One Can Mess It Up – Chinese FM (RT)
Record-Breaking Dollar Bond Offering From China Imminent (ZH)
UK Chief Rabbi Attacks Labour Party (BBC)
Uber Loses Licence To Operate In London (BBC)
Tim Berners-Lee Wants To Stop Internet Turning Into ‘Digital Dystopia’ (Ind.)
Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell And Very Young Girls On ‘Pedo Island’ (ZH)
Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Again Break Records (BBC)
Listen To The Hummingbird. Never Listen To Me (GTD)

 

 

“Vindman was concerned over “influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency.”

The Real Bombshell of the Impeachment Hearings (Ron Paul)

The most shocking thing about the House impeachment hearings to this point is not a “smoking gun” witness providing irrefutable evidence of quid pro quo. It’s not that President Trump may or may not have asked the Ukrainians to look into business deals between then-Vice President Biden’s son and a Ukrainian oligarch. The most shocking thing to come out of the hearings thus far is confirmation that no matter who is elected President of the United States, the permanent government will not allow a change in our aggressive interventionist foreign policy, particularly when it comes to Russia. Even more shocking is that neither Republicans nor Democrats are bothered in the slightest!

Take Lt. Colonel Vindman, who earned high praise in the mainstream media. He did not come forth with first-hand evidence that President Trump had committed any “high crimes” or “misdemeanors.” He brought a complaint against the President because he was worried that Trump was shifting US policy away from providing offensive weapons to the Ukrainian government! He didn’t think the US president had the right to suspend aid to Ukraine because he supported providing aid to Ukraine. According to his testimony, Vindman’s was concerned over “influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency.” “Consensus views of the interagency” is another word for “deep state.”

Vindman continued, “While my interagency colleagues and I were becoming increasingly optimistic on Ukraine’s prospects, this alternative narrative undermined US government efforts to expand cooperation with Ukraine.” Let that sink in for a moment: Vindman did not witness any crimes, he just didn’t think the elected President of the United States had any right to change US policy toward Ukraine or Russia! Likewise, his boss on the National Security Council Staff, Fiona Hill, sounded more like she had just stepped out of the 1950s with her heated Cold War rhetoric. Citing the controversial 2017 “Intelligence Community Assessment” put together by then-CIA director John Brennan’s “hand-picked” analysts, she asserted that, “President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter US foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine.”

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David Stockman throws in a highly needed history lesson for free.

Neocon Uses Impeachment To Push Russophobic Agenda (Stockman)

For want of doubt that the Poroshenko government was in the tank for Hillary Clinton, the liberal rag called Politico spilled the beans a few months later. In a January 11, 2017 story it revealed that the Ukrainian government had pulled out all the stops attempting to help Clinton, whose protégés at the State Department had been the masterminds of the coup which put them in office. Thus, Politico concluded,

“Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country. Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election.

And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found. …President Petro Poroshenko’s administration, along with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, insists that Ukraine stayed neutral in the race….. But Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections. While it’s not uncommon for outside operatives to serve as intermediaries between governments and reporters, one of the more damaging Russia-related stories for the Trump campaign – and certainly for Manafort – can be traced more directly to the Ukrainian government.

Documents released by an independent Ukrainian government agency – and publicized by a parliamentarian – appeared to show $12.7 million in cash payments that were earmarked for Manafort by the Russia-aligned party of the deposed former president, Yanukovych. The New York Times, in the August story revealing the ledgers’ existence, reported that the payments earmarked for Manafort were “a focus” of an investigation by Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, while CNN reported days later that the FBI was pursuing an overlapping inquiry.”

Yet Fiona Hill sat before a House committee and under oath insisted that all of the above was a Trumpian conspiracy theory, thereby reminding us that the neocon Russophobes are so unhinged that they are prepared to lie at the drop of a hat to keep their false narrative about the Russian Threat and Putin’s “invasion” of Ukraine alive. Needless to say, Fiona Hill is among the worst of the neocon warmongers, and has made a specialty of demonizing Russia and propagating over and over flat out lies about what happened in Kiev during 2014 and after.

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John Solomon identifies 12 document troves that he thinks Trump should order released. Here are the first three.

12 Document Troves That Could Change The Ukraine Scandal (Solomon)

As House Democrats mull whether to pursue impeachment articles and the GOP-led Senate braces for a possible trial, here are 12 tranches of government documents that could benefit the public if President Trump ordered them released, and the questions these memos might answer.

1) Daily intelligence reports from March through August 2019 on Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky and his relationship with oligarchs and other key figures. What was the CIA, FBI and U.S. Treasury Department telling Trump and other agencies about Zelensky’s ties to oligarchs like Igor Kolomoisky, the former head of Privatbank, and any concerns the International Monetary Fund might have? Did any of these concerns reach the president’s daily brief (PDB) or come up in the debate around resolving Ukraine corruption and U.S. foreign aid? CNBC, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal all have done recent reporting suggesting there might have been intelligence and IMF concerns that have not been fully considered during the impeachment proceedings.

2) State Department memos detailing conversations between former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. He says Yovanovitch raised the names of Ukrainians she did not want to see prosecuted during their first meeting in 2016. She calls Lutsenko’s account fiction. But State Department officials admit the U.S. embassy in Kiev did pressure Ukrainian prosecutors not to target certain activists. Are there contemporaneous State Department memos detailing these conversations and might they illuminate the dispute between Lutsenko and Yovanovitch that has become key to the impeachment hearings?

3) State Department memos on U.S. funding given to the George Soros-backed group the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. There is documentary evidence that State provided funding to this group, that Ukrainian prosecutor sought to investigate whether that aid was spent properly and that the U.S. embassy pressured Ukraine to stand down on that investigation. How much total did State give to this group? Why was a federal agency giving money to a Soros-backed group? What did taxpayers get for their money and were they any audits to ensure the money was spent properly? Were any of Ukrainian prosecutors’ concerns legitimate?

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“Perhaps The New York Times has hooked up to a direct line of Burisma’s product as they flood the darkened arena with eerie blue gaslight.”

The Resistance Digs Their Hole Deeper (Kunstler)

“No, you don’t understand. It was the Russians, I tell you, the Russians!” And so, with a holiday recess for Adam Schiff’s impeachment soap opera, and news that DOJ Inspector General Horowitz will unload in early December, the media vassals of the Deep State are giving you their own turkey gristle to chew on: “The Russians did it! Yes, really, they did! Believe us!” Perhaps The New York Times has hooked up to a direct line of Burisma’s product as they flood the darkened arena with eerie blue gaslight. Friday, they featured a story — Russia Inquiry Review Is Said to Criticize F.B.I. but Rebuff Claims of Biased Acts — geared to make readers think that the entire FBI FISA warrant hair-ball came down to one lowly lawyer chump named Kevin Clinesmith messing with an email. Later, Times reporter Adam Goldman, posted this howler on Twitter.

These truthless assertions are meant to let both the CIA and the FBI off-the-hook for opening the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation on bogus evidence they furnished to the FISA judges. Both Goldman’s news story and his tweet omit the name of the company that packaged and retailed the Russia Collusion narrative: Fusion GPS — the company that Robert Mueller testified to having no knowledge of in his July House appearance. That oafish attempt to get out ahead of the IG’s report was followed by, whaddaya know, a Times op-ed penned by none other than Glenn Simpson, the impresario of Fusion GPS (and his partner Peter Fritsch), The Double-Barreled Dream World of Trump and His Enablers, aimed at re-selling their shopworn Russia collusion story to distract from any attention that voters might be paying to Ukraine’s collusion in the scheme to overthrow the 2016 US election and the Bidens’ grifting operation following the 2014 CIA / State Department sponsored overthrow of Ukraine’s government.


CBS 60-Minutes joined the gaslighting rotation Sunday night with a reality-optional Russia Hacked Our Election story. This was another obvious attempt to deflect attention from the actual story, which is how the company named Crowdstrike, owned by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitri Alperovitch, cooked up the Russian hacking story in the first place. Crowdstrike, you see, had been hired by the Democratic National Committee, and their nominee, Hillary Clinton, to interfere in the 2016 election. Crowdstrike later became the sole entity that was allowed to perform a forensic inquiry on the DNC’s server. Somehow, they persuaded the FBI to not look into the matter. In other words, the DNC’s contractor investigated its own mischief. Does anyone wonder how that worked?

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I know this is too easy and too cheap for me to use, but at the same time, these folk are actually saying such things. And there is a actual US network that broadcasts this stuff. “Trump is mind-controlling the deplorables.” And people go: wow, that’s some serious sh*t…

CNN: Trump Is Leader Of ‘Destructive Cult’ , Uses ‘Mind-Control’ (SN)

Stelter and guest say Trump supporters need ‘deprogramming’ CNN’s resident lunatic Brian Stelter went above and beyond his regular whackery Sunday, wheeling out a ‘cult expert’ on his “Reliable Sources” show, who claimed that President Trump is a “destructive cult” leader, a la Jim Jones, and that he is using “mind control” to direct supporters. Stelter introduced Steven Hassan, author of a book titled The Cult of Trump, claiming that many prominent figures (read ‘CNN talking heads’) have been suggesting recently that Trump’s America first movement is ‘cultish’. Hassan claimed that Trump supporters are “not being encouraged to really explore and look at the details and arrive at their own conclusion.”

“Much of what they’re hearing is emotionally driven, loaded words, thought-stopping, and thought-terminating-type clichés.” he added, citing “fake news,” “build the wall,” “make America great again.” Stelter then brought up mind control, asking “You say the President is using mind control, but how is that provable?” “So, we can start with the pathological lying, which is characteristic of destructive cult leaders.” Hassan claimed, again without providing any evidence.

“Saying things in a very confident way that have nothing to do with facts or truthfulness. The blaming others and never taking responsibility for his own failures and faults. Shunning and kicking out anyone who raises questions or concerns about his own behavior. His use of fearmongering, immigration is a horrible thing.” the guest continued. Stelter then chimed in with the stunning insight that “It is frightening to hear a cult expert say that you see all of these signs right now today in American politics.” The pair then remarkably suggested that Trump supporters need to be ‘deprogrammed’ by breaking them out of their ‘bubbles’.

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The reason there is the Magnitsky act is not that people believed Browder, but that it’s convenient.

Spiegel Finds Browder’s Magnitsky Narrative Is Riddled With Lies (RT)

British investor Bill Browder has made a name for himself in the West through blaming Moscow for the death of his auditor, Sergey Magnitsky. Der Spiegel has picked apart his story and uncovers it has major credibility problems. For years Browder – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s self-proclaimed “enemy number one” and head of the Hermitage Capital Management fund – has been waging what can only be described as his personal anti-Russian campaign. The passionate Kremlin critic relentlessly lobbied for sanctions against Russian officials everywhere from the US to Europe – all under the premise of seeking justice for his deceased employee, who died in Russia, while in pre-trial detention, where he’d been placed while accused of complicity in a major tax evasion scheme.

Browder, who was himself sentenced in absentia by a Russian court to nine years in prison for tax evasion, and was later found guilty of embezzlement as well, presented Magnitsky as a fearless whistleblower who exposed a grand corruption scheme within the Russian law enforcement system, and who was then mercilessly killed out of revenge. [..] the businessman, who has over the years donned the mantle of a human rights campaigner, does not plan to stop at that and is now lobbying for an EU-wide equivalent of the Magnitsky Act, which would allow the banning of Russian officials from the bloc’s countries and the freezing of their accounts.

On the tenth anniversary of the auditor’s death, the German weekly Der Spiegel has decided to take a closer look at Browder’s story about Magnitsky. And the paper found out that the narrative doesn’t quite flow as smoothly as Western politicians and the MSM would like it to.

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18 long years to go before HK becomes Chinese.

Hong Kong Part Of China and No One Can Mess It Up – Chinese FM (RT)

Beijing has said that the outcome of the municipal vote that saw opposition taking nearly 90% of the seats won’t change Hong Kong status, while warning against any attempts to disrupt the situation. Preliminary results of the election reported by local broadcaster RTHK suggest that about 390 seats out of 452 that were up for grabs in 18 district councils have been claimed by the anti-government candidates. Asked to comment while the vote count was ongoing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that regardless of the outcome, Hong Kong will remain an unalienable part of the Chinese state. “It’s not the final result yet. Let’s wait for the final result, OK? However, it is clear that no matter what happens, Hong Kong is a part of China and a special administrative region of China,” he said.


Any attempt to mess up Hong Kong, or even damage its prosperity and stability, will not succeed. Hong Kong administrator Carrie Lam, meanwhile, said that the semi-autonomous city’s government would respect the results of the district poll. “The government will certainly listen humbly to citizens’ opinions and reflect on them seriously,” Lam said, expressing hope that the peace and security would prevail, and the city won’t plunge into chaos again. The landslide victory by the opposition has been attributed to the record-high turnout of 71% (versus only 47% back in 2015) that saw many young voters taking to the polls for the first time. Speaking to SCMP, pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-su, who lost his seat at the Tsuen Wan District Council, said that while he gained the same number of votes as in the previous elections, it was not enough this time – all because of the first-time voters, he suspected. “If that’s true, it means young people are no longer insensitive to politics,” he said…

Read more …

China needs dollars very badly.

Record-Breaking Dollar Bond Offering From China Imminent (ZH)

China is set to expand its bond market through a record sale of sovereign bonds in dollars, according to Bloomberg sources. The bond offering could raise up to $6 billion, would be one of the largest dollar bond offerings on record. The offering could be seen as soon as Tuesday. Sources said the Ministry of Finance is considering tenors of three years, five years, 10 years and 20 years: “It reaffirms China’s determination to develop an orderly offshore dollar bond market for Chinese issuers,” Anne Zhang, head of fixed income for JPMorgan Private Bank in Asia, told Bloomberg. “The new deal will further complete a sovereign curve,” she said. The size of the issuance would be more than double last year’s size, and triple the amount from 2017.


“The size is twice what it was last year, that just speaks to the fact that the past two years have been perceived as successful by the Ministry of Finance,” a banker working on one of the dollar bond deals told The Financial Times. He added that previous offers were “not enough to match demand.” The Chinse dollar bond market is valued at around $740 billion, according to Bloomberg data, and is an important funding source for domestic borrowers. Dollar bond issuances slid in 2018 following the escalation of the trade war. Despite the further escalation of the trade war in 2019, dollar bond issuances have increased as US treasury yields have fallen. Dollar bond demand from Chinese borrowers has been elevated in 2019, so far there has been $195 billion in recorded issuances, already surpassing levels seen in 2017 at $211 billion.

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Corbyn should have spoken out loud and clear a long time ago. He’s the right wing’s toy now.

UK Chief Rabbi Attacks Labour Party (BBC)

The Chief Rabbi has strongly criticised Labour, claiming the party is not doing enough to root out anti-Jewish racism – and asked people to “vote with their conscience” in the general election. In the Times, Ephraim Mirvis said “a new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root” in the party. Labour’s claim it had investigated all cases of anti-Semitism in its ranks was a “mendacious fiction”, he added. Jeremy Corbyn says Labour is tackling anti-Semitism by expelling members. It comes as Labour launches a “race and faith manifesto”, which aims to improve protections for all faiths and tackle prejudice.

Labour has been beset by allegations of anti-Semitism for more than three years, leading to the suspension of a number of high-profile figures such as Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, and an unprecedented investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In his article, the Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – who is the spiritual leader of the United Synagogue, the largest umbrella group of Jewish communities in the country – says raising his concerns “ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office”. But he claims “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Labour victory in 12 December’s general election.

He writes: “The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud – of dignity and respect for all people. “It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired.” He adds that it was “not my place to tell any person how they should vote” but he urged the public to “vote with their conscience”. [..] Jenny Manson, the co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Labour group which is not officially affiliated to the party, told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme she was “horrified” by the Chief Rabbi’s intervention. She added that there was no threat to Jews in the Labour Party but there was a threat from the far-right.

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No, really, they have secret software that blocks regulators. Just for that I would ban them forever. “But it’s never been used in the UK!” That’s not the point, is it? BTW, where did you use it?

Uber Loses Licence To Operate In London (BBC)

Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said. The regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations. Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expired on Sunday. The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process. About 45,000 drivers work for Uber in London, which is one of its top five markets globally. TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” that placed passenger safety and security at risk. These included a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.


It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said. The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. [..] TfL first declined to renew Uber’s licence in September 2017, again over safety concerns. Back then it cited Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences. Uber’s use of secret software, called “Greyball”, which could be used to block regulators from monitoring the app, was another factor, although Uber said it had never been used in the UK.

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Dead on arrival: “It has already been backed by companies including Google and Facebook..”

Tim Berners-Lee Wants To Stop Internet Turning Into ‘Digital Dystopia’ (Ind.)

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, has launched a plan to stop the world falling into a “digital dystopia”. Sir Tim unveiled a set of standards that good internet companies should abide by, in the hope of preserving the promise of the internet and stopping it being misused. It comes amid a variety of online threats that look to damage everything from elections to personal privacy. The new plan, named the Contract For The Web, was unveiled by Sir Tim’s World Wide Web Foundation in Berlin and calls on governments, companies and the public to ensure the web is a safe, free and open platform for all.

The commitment sets out nine key principles. It has already been backed by companies including Google and Facebook, both of which have been at the centre of controversies over the way the internet is used. “The power of the web to transform people’s lives, enrich society and reduce inequality is one of the defining opportunities of our time,” Sir Tim explained. “But if we don’t act now, and act together, to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering that potential. “The Contract for the Web gives us a roadmap to build a better web. But it will not happen unless we all commit to the challenge.

“Governments need to strengthen laws and regulations for the digital age. Companies must do more to ensure pursuit of profit is not at the expense of human rights and democracy. “And citizens must hold those in power accountable, demand their digital rights be respected and help foster healthy conversation online. It’s up to all of us to fight for the web we want.” The plan tells governments to ensure everyone can connect to the internet, that access is not deliberately denied and to respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights.

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When will Andrew be arrested?

Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell And Very Young Girls On ‘Pedo Island’ (ZH)

A former masseuse for Jeffrey Epstein who says he raped her on his private island, has provided photos of his secretive Caribbean compound to The Sun. Chaunte Davies says she was raped by Epstein over the course of several years before finally parting ways with him in 2005. She told the Sun that the wealthy pedophile was arrested just five days after she gave the FBI and New Mexico Assistant Attorney General evidence against him. Now 40, Chaunte says the ex-Wall Street banker performed a sex act on himself during their first massage session – and that she was “manipulated” into staying in their circle by Epstein’s alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. “Within weeks she was jetting round the world on his private jet and on to his island of Little Saint James,” according to the report.


Davies also revealed how Epstein bragged about his friendship with Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, and how Epstein used his relationship with the Duke of York to lure young girls into his orbit – at one point, allegedly having an orgy with Andrew and several young girls. “In 2015 court testimony, she wrote: “I was around 18 at the time. Epstein, Andy, approximately eight other young girls and I had sex together.” She said the other girls seemed to be under 18 and “didn’t really speak English”. This seemed to amuse Epstein, she claimed, who said “they are the ‘easiest’ girls to get along with”. The duke has repeatedly denied the claims, which were later struck from the 2015 case. In his Newsnight interview he said he had “no recollection” of meeting Virginia and has denied any wrongdoing. -The Sun “I was very aware of Jeffrey Epstein’s friendship with Prince Andrew and Fergie right away,” she said, adding “It was one of several bragging tactics he used to further induce his power and privilege. He bragged a lot.”

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And we just keep talking…

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Again Break Records (BBC)

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases once again reached new highs in 2018. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the increase in CO2 was just above the average rise recorded over the last decade.vLevels of other warming gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, have also surged by above average amounts. Since 1990 there’s been an increase of 43% in the warming effect on the climate of long lived greenhouse gases. The WMO report looks at concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere rather than just emissions. The difference between the two is that emissions refer to the amount of gases that go up into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal for electricity and from deforestation.

Concentrations are what’s left in the air after a complex series of interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans, the forests and the land. About a quarter of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the seas, and a similar amount by land and trees. Using data from monitoring stations in the Arctic and all over the world, researchers say that in 2018 concentrations of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million (ppm), up from 405.5ppm a year previously. This increase was above the average for the last 10 years and is 147% of the “pre-industrial” level in 1750. The WMO also records concentrations of other warming gases, including methane and nitrous oxide.

About 40% of the methane emitted into the air comes from natural sources, such as wetlands, with 60% from human activities, including cattle farming, rice cultivation and landfill dumps. Methane is now at 259% of the pre-industrial level and the increase seen over the past year was higher than both the previous annual rate and the average over the past 10 years. Nitrous oxide is emitted from natural and human sources, including from the oceans and from fertiliser-use in farming. According to the WMO, it is now at 123% of the levels that existed in 1750.

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Adam Cohen put together a last album of his father Leonard’s songs.

“I have tried to write Paradise/Do not move/Let the wind speak/that is Paradise”

“You were born to judge the world / Forgive me but I wasn’t.”

“When he took his hat off at the end of shows, he had this look of humility and bewilderment and gratitude – this was not an act. And he would say, ‘Thank you for keeping my songs alive’. ”

Listen To The Hummingbird. Never Listen To Me (GTD)

Many thanks for the Dance opens with a track referred to as Transpires to the Heart and the 1st of several startling lyrics: “I was operating constant but I hardly ever termed it art/ I bought my shit together, conference Christ and reading through Marx…” It seems like a defiant statement of intent, but the mood, as on the previous album, soon turns darker. The Objective, a small, sombre spoken-term piece, starts “I simply cannot go away my house, or solution the phone” and consists of the poignant self-observation: “I sit in my chair, I glimpse at the road, the neighbour returns my smile of defeat.” The infirmities of old age are broached once again on The Hills, on which he sings, “I’m residing on products, for which I thank God”, delivering the past 3 phrases with heartfelt emphasis.


During, dying is a specified, its looming existence articulated with a attribute diploma of Buddhist acceptance. Below and there, although, there are glimpses of the sensuality that characterised several of his early tracks and poems. On The Night of Santiago he sings: “Her thighs they slipped away from me/ Like educational institutions of startled fish”. The track is basically an adaptation of a poem by Federico García Lorca, 1 of Leonard’s literary touchstones. “It’s just one of my favourite poems and I begged him to go through it,” says Adam.

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Jun 292018
 
 June 29, 2018  Posted by at 1:19 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


René Magritte Mysteries of the horizon (a.k.a. The Masterpiece) 1955

 

Don’t know if you noticed, but the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki on July 16 takes place one day after the soccer World Cup final, Sunday July 15. Now it seems clear that Trump doesn’t care about soccer, though he apparently knows Christiano Ronaldo, but that factoid is significant because the World Cup takes place in Russia.

It’s amusing to contemplate that Putin told Trump’s people he would love to meet with his counterpart, but not until after the Cup Final. So they settled on the very next day.

The same people who now express worries about the summit, also had worries about the nasty things that could happen to players and supporters in Moscow and other cities. There has not been one single incident. No police violence, no hooliganism, the stadiums are beautiful, the organization is pitch perfect. There’s been only sunshine, too.

The only problem reported in the media was that some cities ran out of beer, because the Russians hadn’t expected the Aussies and British to drink as much of the stuff as Russians themselves do. They probably didn’t expect them to show up in such large numbers either. But those Russians don’t see a real problem: “we always have enough vodka”.

 

Patrick Lang called the fact that Trump sent uber-neocon John Bolton to Moscow to organize the summit a stroke of genius. The man who wants WWIII more than anyone must now make sure a summit that may serve to prevent it, successful. But what does Trump really want? And what do the neo-cons want?

First off, US and Russian presidents should meet all the time. It’s beyond reason that Trump has been in the saddle almost a year and a half without such a summit. Trumped up allegations of election meddling in about half the nations on the planet, about poisonings in Britain and about chemical weapons in Syria, have prevented a summit so far.

It looks like Trump got tired of all that. But of course all we’ll see the next two+ weeks is more ‘Trump is Putin’s lapdog’ memes. While there are very serious issues to be discussed. A major one, undoubtedly, is Syria. There has been a lot of movement politically on that.

The US has indicated it will no longer support the Syrian rebels. It has acknowledged that regime change, and removal of Assad, is not going to happen. Because Russia will not leave Assad to fend for himself.

 

There are signs that another false flag chemical attack in the country is being prepared, but if that happens before July 16, Trump himself will jump in to condemn the nonsense. He wants the meeting, and he wants it bad. As he should, and not for some nefarious reason.

Regime change in Syria is off the calendar because of Putin. Regime change in Iran, apparently still on that calendar, will also fail because while Putin may -but just may- be willing to give in, China will not. And not even a Saudi-US-UAE-Israel cabal can withstand both China AND Russia. Those days are over.

The neocons are way behind the action. They think in terms of something that has long since passed its best before date. Yeah, wonder how John Bolton sees these things these days. Maybe he had a crash course upon entering the White House.

But let’s not kid ourselves: the US warmonger faction may be outdated, they are still very powerful and very present. They can still attempt to force Trump’s hand with a false flag here or there. Their plans to conquer Russia, though, will have to be shelved for now. Or do they?

Tyler Durden has a lengthy report on the proposed spending in Europe by the US military. I won’t get into the details (tons of infrastructure spending close to Russian borders), but here’s the money shot:

 

The request for additional funding would more than double the military’s infrastructure projects under the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), from the 2018 request, when just a few years ago, the Pentagon was scaling back its Cold War-era footprint in Europe. According to Defense News, the EDI request increased to $6.5 billion from $4.8 billion in 2018, military construction projects in the EDI request jumped from $338 million in 2018, while pre-positioning funds soared from $2.2 billion to $3.2 billion.

The Air Force would spend roughly $368.6 million to pre-position equipment and $363.8 million for military construction projects. While the spending is almost equal to what was expensed in fiscal 2018, it is a huge jump from 2017, when the Air Force was only allotted $31.2 million in pre-positioning funds and $85.4 million for military construction.

 

And I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Trump say not so long ago that he wanted Europe to pay more for its own defense? Well, yes, he did, but Europe is other wise engaged, it’s now planning its own ‘army’, which can’t NOT take away from its contributions to NATO.

So Trump meets Putin on July 16, who knows all of this and a boatload more, and what’s he going to tell him? When Putin asks him about these new US ‘investments’ in Europe, what’s he going to say?

Putin will state that Russia’s military expenditures have only fallen over the past decade+, and that he doesn’t understand why the US spends that much more, because Russia’s new weapons are decades ahead of America’s. (I don’t think he’s kidding).

Of course Putin knows better then anyone that his military spending takes place for a whole different purpose than that in the US: he builds a strong defense, while America feeds its private contractors arms industry as much taxpayers’ money as it can get away with. What did the Pentagon lose track of again, was that $21 trillion?

And of course Putin knows that to an extent Trump is trapped inside the military-industrial complex Ike warned about. And that John Bolton is such a docile and eager servant of.

One thing we can be sure of is that just like the World Cup, the summit won’t be a boring event, the media will be all over it, each with their own favorite, and over half the world will follow the ‘games’. And the outcome of Helsinki is as unpredictable as that of the final in Moscow. One more thing that’s for sure: the US won’t be in that final. Not even John Bolton.

 

 

Jun 052017
 
 June 5, 2017  Posted by at 10:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Banksy Girl with a balloon 2002/2017

 

Gulf Countries Cut Ties With Qatar, Oil Price Jumps (CNBC/R.)
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, & Bahrain Cut Ties, Shut Borders With Qatar (ZH)
Theresa May Urged Not To Suppress Report Into Funding Of Jihadi Groups (G.)
Top Cameron Aide: Theresa May ‘Responsible’ For London Terror Attack (BI)
Against Terror, Is London Pride Enough? (NYT)
Nearly 10 Million Britons Are In Insecure Work (G.)
Banksy Offers Free Art To People Who Vote Against The Tories (Ind.)
World Bank Economist: Risks To World Economy Receded (AFP)
Italy Faces Borrowing Shock When ECB Removes Support – Pimco (Tel.)
Joe Biden Boasts of US Role in ‘Saving’ Greece (K.)

 

 

It’s not about Qatar. US neocons are testing a new way to get to Iran.

Gulf Countries Cut Ties With Qatar, Oil Price Jumps (CNBC/R.)

The governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE are all wary of the Muslim Brotherhood because it enjoys support as an Islamist party among a broad base, Sluglett said. In the case of Iran, he added, a key factor is the Trump administration’s threat to review a landmark deal that lifted most economic sanctions against Iran in return for curbing its nuclear and missile programs. “The Americans cannot unilaterally back out of the deal as it is the P5+1 [permanent five members of the U.N. security council and Germany], so they are using the GCC and Egypt to put pressure on any countries supporting Iran,” Sluglett said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which counts Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman as members.

Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, responded on Twitter to the news by pointing out that Qatar “is very heavily reliant on food supplies accessed” through Saudi Arabia, so a closing of the borders poses a “very” serious challenge to Doha. For its part, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups and spreading their violent ideology, in an apparent reference to its influential state-owned satellite channel al Jazeera. “(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” state news agency SPA said. The statement went on to accuse Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in its restive and largely Shi’ite Muslim-populated Eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.

Qatar said in May that hackers had faked remarks by its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, criticizing some leaders of fellow Gulf Arab states and calling for an easing of tensions with Iran, a regional adversary. But several Gulf Cooperation Council states rejected Qatar’s explanation, leaving local media to unleash a barrage of attacks accusing the emir of cozying up to Tehran. Qatar shares the world’s largest gas field, South Pars, with Iran. The commercial and business ties have irritated Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries at odds with Iran over Tehran’s support for Shia-linked militants. Sluglett noted that Qatar’s dealings with Iran center on the gas field and that Doha is uncomfortable at times with a hard push against Tehran: “They find it quite ridiculous to blindly follow U.S. views on Iran.”

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Saudi Arabia pointing to Iran as terror source is rich…

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, & Bahrain Cut Ties, Shut Borders With Qatar (ZH)

Just days after president Trump left the region, a geopolitical earthquake is taking place in the Middle East tonight as the rift between Qatar and other members of the (likely extinct) Gulf Cooperation Council explodes with Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt cutting all diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing it of “speading chaos,” by funding terrorism and supporting Iran. The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries started over a purported hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiraled since, and appears to be climaxing now… just days after President Trump left the region. As Al Arabiya reports, Bahrain has announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, according to a statement carried on Bahrain News Agency.

The statement on Monday morning said Bahrain decided to sever ties with its neighbor “on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue destabilizing the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and to intervene in its affairs”. The statement also said Qatar’s incitement of the media and supporting of terrorist activities and financing groups linked to Iran were reasons behind the decision. “(Qatar has) spread chaos in Bahrain in flagrant violation of all agreements and covenants and principles of international law Without regard to values, law or morals or consideration of the principles of good neighborliness or commitment to the constants of Gulf relations and the denial of all previous commitments,” the statement read. Qatari citizens have 14 days to leave Bahraini territories while Qatari diplomats were given 48 hours to leave the country after being expelled.

Meanwhile, Bahrain has also banned all of its citizens from visiting or residing in Qatar after the severance of ties. Additionally, Bahrain has has closed both air and sea borders with Qatar. Saudi Arabia then confirmed the same – cutting ties and shutting down all sea, airspace, and land crossings with Qatar as well as dissolving Qatar’s role in the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Yemen. Emirates, Etihad, Saudia, Gulf Air, and Egypt Air are no longer allowed to fly to Qatar and Saudi Arabia is providing facilities, services to Qatari pilgrims. Egypt then followed, confirming it was cutting diplomatic ties. Then UAE confirmed it would cut ties, shut down all sky, water, and land crossings, and expel all Qataris within 48 hours. The Maldives also just cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

All of this happens within 24 hours of Iran calling out ‘The West’ for ignoring the real sponsors of terrorism around the world and UK’s Labor party leader outright name-shaming Saudi Arabia’s funding of terrorism. As a reminder, documents obtained by Middle East Eye show strategic alliance includes pledge by Ankara to protect Gulf state from external threats… “In December 2015, Turkey announced, to the surprise of many, that it planned to establish a military base in Qatar. Behind the scenes, the agreement was about forming a major strategic alliance. After a 100-year hiatus, Turkey is militarily back in the Gulf and ramping up its presence overseas. In January, Ankara announced that it would also establish a military base in Somalia. Specific details about the Qatar agreement, which Turkey described as an alliance in the face of “common enemies”, remain scant, but Middle East Eye has acquired copies of the agreements, as well as further details, which include a secret pledge by Ankara to protect Qatar from external threats.

Did Qatar just get scapegoated in the ‘war on terror’? One thing seems clear, support for a Syrian gas pipeline will be dwindling and with it the need for a Syrian war. Notably, this raises further doubts about OPEC’s stability. As Bloomberg notes, while Middle East ructions have historically added risk premia to oil prices, discord here could theoretically put downward pressure on prices as OPEC members struggle to maintain unity and compliance on production cuts.

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Too late now. It’s not like she’ll volunteer to publish the report before June 8.

Theresa May Urged Not To Suppress Report Into Funding Of Jihadi Groups (G.)

Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron have challenged Theresa May over a long-delayed inquiry into foreign funding and support of jihadi groups in the UK, after the Home Office suggested the investigation may not be published. The inquiry into revenue streams for extremist groups was commissioned by David Cameron when he was prime minister and is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia. But the Guardian revealed last week that the report was still incomplete and its contents may not be published. The Labour leader used a speech in Carlisle on Sunday evening to challenge the prime minister over the delayed report. Corbyn referenced May’s speech after the London Bridge attack on Saturday, in which she said challenging terrorism would “require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations”.

In a speech that also criticised May for ignoring warnings about the impact of police cuts, he said: “Yes, we do need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology. “It is no good Theresa May suppressing a report into the foreign funding of extremist groups. We have to get serious about cutting off the funding to these terror networks, including Isis here and in the Middle East.” The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Tom Brake, wrote to May last week asking her to commit to not shelving the report. Writing in the Guardian on Monday, the Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said it was essential the report was not suppressed. “Theresa May now has a choice. Does she publish that report or keep it hidden?” Farron said.

“Theresa May talks of the need to have some difficult and sometimes embarrassing conversations. That should include exposing and rooting out the source funding of terror, even it means difficult and embarrassing conversations with those like Saudi Arabia that the government claims are our allies.” The Conservatives were criticised last year for selling billions of pounds of arms to the Saudis. Cameron ordered the investigation as part of a deal with the Lib Dems in exchange for the party supporting the extension of British airstrikes against Islamic State into Syria in December 2015. The Home Office’s extremism analysis unit was directed by Downing Street in January 2016 to investigate overseas funding of extremist groups in the UK, with findings to be shown to the then home secretary May and Cameron. Eighteen months on, the Home Office said the report, originally due to be published in spring 2016, had not yet been completed and publication was not guaranteed, given the sensitive nature of the content. .

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May the cannabalism begin.

Top Cameron Aide: Theresa May ‘Responsible’ For London Terror Attack (BI)

The Prime Minister should resign over her alleged failure to prevent the London Bridge terror attack, a former senior aide to the last Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has said. Former Downing Street director of Strategy, Steve Hilton, on Monday claimed the Theresa May was “responsible” for the attack that left seven people dead and many more injured, and called for her to resign rather than seek re-election. “Theresa May responsible for security failures of London Bridge, Manchester, Westminster Bridge,” he tweeted. “Should be resigning not seeking re-election.” Hilton posted an excerpt from a Daily Mail report, suggesting that security services had been warned about at least one of the terrorists behind the attack on Saturday.

The Mail reported that one of the attackers had featured in a documentary about extremists and been reported to the security services by friends concerned that he had been radicalised. The paper also reported evidence that the suspect had been quizzed by police last year. Previous reports have indicated that the terrorists behind the Manchester and Westminster attacks earlier this year were also known to security services. May is also under pressure to release a suppressed report Home Office report into the international funding of terror groups in the UK. The report was commissioned by the last coalition government in 2015 and due to be published last year but has never been emerged. The Home Office admitted last week that it may never be published due to the “very sensitive” nature of the report.

The report is expected to reveal links between Saudi Arabia and extremist groups in the UK. Critics of the government believe it has been suppressed due to the UK government’s ongoing trade relationships with the country. The UK recently approved £3.5bn worth of arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, despite criticisms over its involvement in the bombing campaign in Yemen.

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Keep calm as a myth.

Against Terror, Is London Pride Enough? (NYT)

Cultures live by myths. These create their own reality. Britons may not know much history, but they all know about the spirit of the Blitz, and many lived through the bombing campaigns of the Irish Republican Army of the 1970s and ’80s. Many will remember that, in 1984, on the day Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and half her cabinet team were blown out of their beds in the early morning by the Brighton bomb, in which five people died, she insisted that the Conservative Party conference should still start as scheduled at 9.30 a.m. Terrorism, she said, would never cripple democracy. The country is proud of that stoicism, and on the whole, wishes to live up to it. And yet. Today, there is a ripple of unease spreading through Britain, after the third brutal and unexpected attack in three months. It is the chilling realization that whatever the antiterror strategy has been so far, it clearly hasn’t worked.

However many plots are being foiled, now that anyone with the access to a car or van, a kitchen knife or the internet can choose to kill, some will succeed. This is a bleak and, frankly, unbearable prospect, and it’s concentrating minds. My 25-year-old son says that what terrifies him and his friends is their impotence. If this were indeed the Blitz, they could join up. If it was the ’70s they could either fight the I.R.A. or lobby for peace talks. But here, they have no idea how to combat this, whom to talk to, how to do anything other than wait for the next atrocity to happen, and then send sympathy and hashtags in the aftermath. Others, seeing that good will and candlelit vigils have their limits, are demanding radical action. On social media and phone-ins, and in private conversations, some people are calling for the immediate internment of the 3,000 suspected radicals on the terrorist watch lists, or their deportation, or for mass aerial bombing of the Islamic States abroad.

None of these will be solutions, but everyone is beginning to understand that savagery may become a regular occurrence, rather than an exceptional one — unless whoever is in government can offer a different and more successful approach. That is why Prime Minister Theresa May, only days away from a general election where she is fighting to keep her parliamentary majority, announced this morning that “enough is enough” in the war against terrorism, and that “things need to change.” There had been too much tolerance of extremism in Britain. The police and security services should have all the powers they needed. The internet giants, Facebook and Google, must be held responsible for radicalizing material that appeared on their sites.

Mrs. May knows just how vulnerable she is on these issues. She is already performing unexpectedly badly in the election campaign, appearing wooden and uneasy in comparison to her Labour challenger. Normally, she and the Tories could count on scoring high for law and order, but Mrs. May is in the uncomfortable position of denouncing counterterror policies for which she herself has been responsible over the past six years (in five years as home secretary and one as prime minister).

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The result of what is it, 10 year, Tories?! That’s one in every three jobs? Or is it four? Talk about a gutted society… And then Brexit surprised?

Nearly 10 Million Britons Are In Insecure Work (G.)

Up to 10 million Britons or nearly a third of the UK workforce do not have secure employment, according to the GMB union, which has warned of a heavy impact on health and family life. The union’s research, unveiled at its 100th annual congress in Plymouth on Monday, attempts to quantify people in what it calls precarious employment – those in the gig economy, on zero- or short-hours contracts, temporary workers, the underemployed and those at risk of false self-employment. The data, based on a survey of nearly 3,500 people of working age, emerged before the publication this month of recommendations from Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair who was appointed by the current prime minister to lead a review into the gig economy. He is expected to recommend changes to the rights of self-employed workers.

Tim Roache, the GMB’s general secretary, said: “This paints a shocking picture of the modern world of work. Up to 10 million people go to work either not knowing what their hours are, if they’ll be able to pay the bills, or what their long-term prospects are. That’s a sorry state of affairs in the 21st century and a product of government’s failure to tackle bogus self-employment, the use of agency contracts as a business model and point-blank refusal to ban zero-hours contracts.” Further interviews of those who identified themselves as insecure workers found that 61% had suffered stress or anxiety as a result of their current job and the same proportion said they had been to work while unwell for fear of not being paid, losing their job or missing out on future hours. The rapid change in employment practices was highlighted by more than three-quarters of those interviewed who said they had previously been in permanent employment.

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Not sure it’s entirely legal.

Banksy Offers Free Art To People Who Vote Against The Tories (Ind.)

Banksy has offered fans an exclusive free print if they vote against the Conservatives in the general election. The artist posted on his website asking voters in six Bristol-area constituencies to send him a photo of their ballot paper showing that they voted against the Tories to receive a limited-edition work. He wrote: “Simply send in a photo of your ballot paper from polling day showing you voted against the Conservative candidate and this complimentary gift will be mailed to you.” The artwork is taken from his iconic “girl with a balloon” motif but now features a Union Jack flag in the balloon. Banksy said that it will be released on 9 June. However, critics have pointed out that this would contravene laws designed to ensure votes remain secret, and could also break rules against bribery.

In a “lawyer’s note” disclaimer, Banksy’s post added: “This print is a souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for resale. “Terms and conditions to follow, postage not included.” Under Section 66 of the Representation of the People’s Act, it is a criminal offence to “induce a voter to display his ballot paper after he has marked it so as to make known to any person the name of the candidate for whom he has or has not voted”. It is also illegal to show the paper’s unique identification number. An Electoral Commission spokesman told the BBC: “Given the risk that someone taking a photo inside a polling station may be in breach of the law, whether intentionally or not, the commission’s advice is against taking any photos inside polling stations.”

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At the World Bank they get to smoke the good stuff.

World Bank Economist: Risks To World Economy Receded (AFP)

The World Bank is keeping its forecast for global growth in 2017 unchanged, because for the first time in years, no new risks have arisen to threaten the outlook. “Over the past four years this is the first time we didn’t have a downgrade and I think that’s very good sign. Growth is firming,” World Bank economist Ayhan Kose told AFP. The World Bank expects the global economy to grow by 2.7% this year, and 2.9% in 2018 and 2019, the same as the January forecast. And after 10 years of crisis and tepid recovery, keeping a stable growth forecast is news. Kose, who heads the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group, which twice a year prepares the global economic forecasts, attributes the good news to the fact the risks, while still present, have receded.

The issues that had the potential to derail the incipient recovery included stress in financial markets as they adapt to rising US interest rates, uncertainty over the stability of oil prices, and concerns about election outcomes in Europe. But after the Federal Reserve’s two rate increases in recent months, markets have reacted “very well,” European political uncertainty “has receded quite a bit” – French voters rejected the anti-EU candidate – and oil prices while still low, have stabilized after OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers extended the agreement to limit output. “All in all, we still think that risks are tilted to the downside but the risk profile is a little bit more improved today versus six months ago,” Kose said.

However, uncertainty over policies, especially US trade protectionism and immigration restrictions under the Trump administration, is having immediate, real impacts on conditions that could dampen growth, Kose cautioned. Companies may delay business decisions and postpone investments in the absence of “well-defined policies,” for example in a case where companies have cross-border operations impacted by the North American Free Trade Agreement which President Donald Trump has opened to renegotiation. Kose noted the “serious slowdown” in investment in emerging markets and developing economy already seen over the past six years. “We are of course worried about how policy uncertainty impacts investment growth and then ultimately impacts growth in the real economy,” he said.

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They won’t let Italy fall unless Beppe Grillo wins the next elections. Which by the way is quite possible.

Italy Faces Borrowing Shock When ECB Removes Support – Pimco (Tel.)

Italy faces a “horror” scenario when the ECB winds down its bond buying programme in a move that risks sparking a surge in the country’s borrowing costs, according to one of the world’s largest bond managers. The Pacific Investment Management Company (Pimco) said the ECB’s €60bn-a-month QE programme was “very supportive” for countries such as Italy and Portugal and had helped to limit volatility in these countries. Andrew Balls, chief investment officer for global fixed income, said removing that support was likely to push up bond yields in a country that has struggled to implement reforms and reduce its massive debt pile amid weak growth. Italian 10-year benchmark borrowing costs currently stand at around 2.2pc, compared with 0.2pc in Germany and close to 3pc in Portugal.

Mr Balls said funding Italy at these rates “doesn’t look particularly attractive” considering the risks facing the eurozone’s third largest economy. He said removal of ECB support raised the risk that Italy could be forced into a bail-out programme if its borrowing costs rose to unsustainable levels, even though the country has long lived within its means excluding debt interest costs. “The thing which fills me with horror is an environment where the ECB has finished QE, Italy does need support, and the message is you need to go to the European Stability Mechanism [the eurozone’s bail-out fund],” said Mr Balls. “Replaying the events of a few years ago with Portugal, Greece and others in the case of Italy would be an event that would raise an awful lot of risk – and you’d want to get paid a lot more than a 2pc return over 10 years to take that risk.”

While Pimco believes an Italian exit from the eurozone is “not our baseline”, Mr Balls added: “It doesn’t seem terribly unlikely either”. “Italy can’t grow,” he said. “You have limited political will to implement reform …In contrast to Portugal it’s big and systemic, but its not clear how Italy improves the situation. “In the event of a recession or shock it’s not clear how the policy apparatus deals with something as large as Italy.”

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In a piece on Cyprus, and Biden’s visit to Athens this week. Biden only cares about the impact of the Greek crisis abroad, not inside the country.

Joe Biden Boasts of US Role in ‘Saving’ Greece (K.)

President Obama and I were engaged with all parties in the Greek financial crisis, because we wanted to prevent Greece from experiencing financial collapse. Grexit would have had very serious long-term consequences for Greece and Europe – and could potentially have triggered a wider crisis of confidence in the global economy. We were concerned that in the high-stakes negotiation between Greece and its creditors, failure to reach a sensible agreement would have made all parties much worse off in the end. But because of each side’s desire to secure the best possible terms, this worst-case scenario was a real possibility.

While the ultimate decision was up to the leaders of Greece, the IMF, and the eurozone countries, I think we helped steer the conversation in a more pragmatic direction because of the credibility we had in Athens, Brussels and Berlin. We argued with the creditor countries that Greece had been saddled with an unsustainably high debt burden and that reform would only go so far with such a large debt overhang. At the same time, we encouraged the Greek leadership to think about how to demonstrate to its creditors that it had a credible roadmap for systemic economic reform, which was necessary. While a deal was reached and the worst of the crisis is behind us, we are not yet completely out of the woods. I believe the United States continues to have a role to play in supporting the parties as they move forward with discussions on Greece’s economic future.

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Apr 222017
 
 April 22, 2017  Posted by at 8:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Debt Rattle April 22 2017


Andrei Rublev Trinity 1411

 

White House Orders Agencies to Prepare for Potential Government Shutdown (BBG)
Beware: The Next Financial Crisis Is Coming (Planet Ponzi)
Robert Prechter Is Awaiting A Depression-Like Shock In The US (MW)
Fed’s Fisher Warns Trump About Plans To ‘Do A Number’ On Dodd-Frank (BI)
Former FinMin Says China Should Let Local Governments Default on Debt (BBG)
Everything Gets Worse – Pakistan vs. India (Bhandari)
Dijsselbloem Sees ‘Tough’ Greek Debt Relief Talks With IMF (BBG)
Schaeuble Says Greece to Blame for Delays in Bailout Program
Greece Blows EU-IMF Bailout Targets Away With Strong Budget Performance (R.)
Greek Primary Surplus Chokes Market (K.)
On Neocons and their Mental Defects (Taleb)
28 Refugees Found Dead In Drifting Dinghy Off Libyan Coast (Ind.)

 

 

It could happen.

White House Orders Agencies to Prepare for Potential Government Shutdown (BBG)

The White House ordered federal agencies Friday to began preparations for a potential partial government shutdown after signaling President Donald Trump would demand money for key priorities in legislation to continue funding the government beyond April 29. But the president and his aides expressed confidence that Congress would work out a spending agreement and that there won’t be any halt in government operations. Administration officials portrayed the order as normal contingency planning, stressing that the previous administration had followed the same practice as funding deadlines approached. “I think we’re in good shape” on avoiding a deadlock on maintaining funding, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is “confident” because negotiations are ongoing and “no one wants a shutdown.”

The push to reach an agreement on spending is complicated by White House efforts to try again for a House vote on replacing Obamacare next week, crowding the congressional schedule with two politically thorny measures the same week. House approval of an Obamacare repeal would give the president a legislative victory to boast about before his 100th day in office April 29. But failure to reach an agreement on spending legislation would risk marring the anniversary with a government shutdown. House Republicans plan a conference call Saturday with Ryan and other leaders to discuss the health-care bill as well as spending legislation. Republican Congressional leaders have pushed back against scheduling an Obamacare vote during the week, indicating there isn’t a clear strategy yet for achieving passage.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of Office of Management and Budget, said Thursday Democrats will need to agree to pay for some Trump’s top priorities, including a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, in legislation to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1. Democrats responded harshly to Mulvaney’s remarks Thursday. “Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand,” said Matt House, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

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“Constantly printing more money will not end in prosperity, but in ruin.”

Beware: The Next Financial Crisis Is Coming (Planet Ponzi)

There is more debt, credit, and leverage today than there was preceding the banking crisis of 2008. No lessons were learned from that catastrophe as trillions of taxpayer dollars were provided in the form of bank bailouts from the US Federal Reserve. Despite their name, US Federal Reserve Banks are not part of the federal government and they are not banks. For the past 11 years, the Federal Reserve has been run by non-elected officials, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen (career academics), alongside a host of X Goldman and JP Morgan bankers. Since 2007, these non-elected bankers have provided banks “temporary, emergency liquidity measures.” Since when is eight years temporary?

Banks have continued to lend trillions and trillions of dollars to fund the construction of grotesquely overpriced residential and commercial properties around the world. The trillions of dollars given in bank bailouts are a perfect example of government “pay-to-play.” When giving out this money, most bankers are making at least three flawed assumptions:
1. Real estate prices will always go up. Clearly, this is the denial phase of “a bubble mentality.”
2. Rents will always keep rising. Rents peaked a few years ago. There is a massive oversupply of high-end residential and commercial properties on the market while real wages have declined. This is a sign that a crash is imminent.
3. The Federal Reserve will always bail them out. With zero transparency or an audit the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has ballooned from 500 billion to nearly 5 trillion in a short period. The Federal Reserve doesn’t have the money to keep bailing companies out.

The Federal Reserve has become nothing more than a rogue hedge fund taking leveraged, wildly speculative, gargantuan and high-risk positions in bonds and mortgages. Next up, the Fed will angle to dump these toxic real estate assets in your pension fund. There are several steps that need to be taken to address this situation and save your pensions:
1. The President and Congress need to order an immediate audit of the Fed.
2. The Fed’s positions need to be unwound.
3. No more taxpayer funded bailouts – save your pension!

Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Catholicism without hell. Constantly printing more money will not end in prosperity, but in ruin. The coming collapse will be much worse than in 2008-2009 because the debt is so much larger and the Federal Reserve has run out of bullets. Since the 1980s, we have seen real average wages decline, college tuition skyrocket nearly 2,000%, and housing prices hitting all-time new highs while high-paying jobs have disappeared. Rents have risen so much that many small businesses are no longer economically viable. The situation doesn’t look any better for graduates. Graduates entering the jobs market have nearly $250,000 in student debt. A graduate may get a job in Manhattan for $40,000 a year ($3,333 a month before tax) but rent on a studio apartment costs $3,000 a month. The numbers just don’t add up anymore.

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Social mood: “declining stock and property prices, contracting debt, angry and somber music, more intense horror movies..”

Robert Prechter Is Awaiting A Depression-Like Shock In The US (MW)

Avi Gilburt: You’ve said that, once the stock market tops, you expect a major bear market and economic contraction to take hold. What is your general timing for this to occur?

Robert Prechter: The true top for stocks in terms of real money (gold) occurred way back in 1999. Overall prosperity has waned subtly since then. Primary wave five in nominal terms started in March 2009, and wave B up in the Dow/gold ratio started in 2011. Their tops should be nearly coincident.

Gilburt: What do you foresee will set off this event?

Prechter: Triggers are a popular notion, borrowed from the physical sciences. But I don’t think there are any such things in financial markets. Waves of social mood create trends in the stock market, and economic and political events lag behind them. Because people do not perceive their moods, tops and bottoms in markets sneak right past them. At the top, people will love the market, and events and conditions will provide them with ample bases for rationalizing being heavily invested.

Gilburt: You’ve said we will be mired in a “depression-type” event. How long could that last?

Prechter: I don’t know. All I can say for sure is that the degree of the corrective wave will be larger than that which created the malaise of the 1930s and 1940s.

Gilburt: How are conditions going to change from what we have now?

Prechter: The increasingly positive trend in social mood over the past eight years has been manifesting in rising stock and property prices, expanding credit, buoyant pop music, lots of animated fairy tales and adventure movies, suppression of scandals, an improving economy and — despite much opinion — fairly moderate politics. This trend isn’t quite over yet. In the next wave of negative mood, we should see the opposite: declining stock and property prices, contracting debt, angry and somber music, more intense horror movies, eruption of scandals, a contracting economy and political upheaval. That’s been the pattern of history.

It’s all relative, though, and it’s never a permanent condition. Just as people give up on the future, its brightness will return. The financial contraction during the negative mood trend of 2006-2011 was the second worst in 150 years. Yet, thanks to the return of positive mood, many people have already forgotten about it. Investors again embrace stocks, ETFs, real estate, mortgage debt, auto-loan debt and all kinds of risky investments that they swore off just a few years ago.

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Because the Fed is doing such a great job of keeping banks in check.

Fed’s Fisher Warns Trump About Plans To ‘Do A Number’ On Dodd-Frank (BI)

Stanley Fischer, the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, on Friday delivered an unusually sharp warning to President Donald Trump and his plan to “do a number” on post-crisis reforms aimed at reining in Wall Street. Fed officials usually go out of their way to not appear political, which makes the comments all the more startling. Fischer, a former Citigroup banker and respected policymaker who led the Bank of Israel for many years, appears truly concerned. “We seem to have forgotten that we had a financial crisis, which was caused by behavior in the banking and other parts of the financial system, and it did enormous damage to this economy,” Fischer told CNBC’s Sara Eisen in the lobby of the IMF, responding to a question about the potential rolling back of Dodd-Frank rules.

This happened just as the president was signing an executive order aimed at what he said was “reviewing” Dodd-Frank. “Millions of people lost their jobs. Millions of people lost their houses,” Fischer said. “This was not a small-time, regular recession. This was huge, and it affected the rest of the world, and it affected, to some extent, our standing in the world as well. We should not forget that. “The strength of the financial system is absolutely essential to the ability of the economy to continue to grow at a reasonable rate, and taking actions which remove the changes that were made to strengthen the structure of the financial system is very dangerous.”

Asked specifically about Trump’s vow to “do a number” on Dodd-Frank, Fischer shot back: “I’m not sure precisely what the president said and what a ‘number’ is, but there are aspects of Dodd-Frank, which if they were taken away would have very serious potential consequences for the economy — not immediately but when times get tough.” What provisions is he most worried about? The ability of the Fed and other regulators to wind down large banks, many of which are still seen as too big to fail. “I think it is very important that big banks be subject to the discipline of the possibility of going bankrupt. It is also very important that that discipline extends to not making those changes, the bankruptcy of a big bank, a huge shock and the source of crisis or damage to the overall economy,” Fischer said. “So we need the resolution mechanisms that have been put in place which will allow the authorities and the markets to wind up a big bank.”

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Beware the cascade.

Former FinMin Says China Should Let Local Governments Default on Debt (BBG)

Former Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said China should allow smaller local governments to default on debt because it would signal that central government bailouts aren’t assured. Such defaults would educate investors that their investments will be allowed to go bad, Lou said Friday at a public finance forum in Beijing. “They need to shoulder responsibility,” said Lou, who’s now chairman of the country’s social security fund. “Nobody will save them.” Lou’s comments reiterate those by Premier Li Keqiang and other central government officials such as current Finance Minister Xiao Jie that local government debt shouldn’t be bailed out, or benefit from assumptions it will be.

With economic growth accelerating for a second-straight quarter to 6.9% through March, policy makers have more room to cut leverage and rein in risks. A credit surge since 2014 that underpinned growth has also fueled a further buildup in borrowing. Total debt rose to 258% of economic output last year from 161% in 2008, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates show. Lou said government debt remains broadly safe, but borrowing levels are poised to keep climbing given increased investment in substandard public-private partnership projects.

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Great long read on India and its region.

Everything Gets Worse – Pakistan vs. India (Bhandari)

When Narendra Modi announced on 8th November 2016 that he was demonetizing 86% of the monetary value of all currency in circulation, he gave three major reasons for doing so: to end corruption, to end terrorism and to eliminate counterfeit currency. Ironically, all three are now in far worse condition than they were previously, and even worse than the predictions I made. Many ATMs in India still dispense no cash. The economy is in shatters. This had to happen, as any new cash is rapidly moving under the carpets of the financial powerful that hoard currency. Small businesses are traumatized by the lack of access to cash – many are closing for good. People continue to avoid making non-essential purchases. Even food demand has failed to recover. Poor people very likely are still forced to go to bed half-hungry.

No-one knows whether there are famines in parts of India, as none of the mainstream media are covering the issue. Not unlike North Koreans or the Chinese during the times of Mao, Indians today, particularly members of the so-called educated class, simply cannot see what Modi or their nationalistic paradigm does not want them to see. Indian banks and other financial institutions are extremely unethical. Since privatization was implemented in the 1990s, they have charged fees and commissions for accounts that were never agreed upon. Indians never fight, so this continues. After the demonetization exercise, these mysterious charges have started to appear more often. Then they deduct certain services and financial taxes, and most people don’t make the effort to try to understand them. Indians are getting very tired of the banks – not for moral, but simply for financial reasons.

Bank websites are extremely unwieldy. They require a sequence of passwords and OTPs (one time pad codes), which have an automatic expiry date. Getting the whole sequence right to make an online payment without having these websites freeze during the procedure leaves one with a sense of accomplishment. Most people prefer to walk down to their banks to get bank officials to perform such online transactions. India is simply not ready for the digital age. This experiment in going cashless will end in a disaster. Similar to every tyrant, Modi likes to think that tax collection should be at the heart of society. He imagines a society in which subjects dance around the state. The problem is, one can perfect the tax system or minimize corruption, but with a per capita GDP of $1,718, India simply does not have the required productivity.

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Anything you do can and will be used against you: The more such surplus it has, the less debt relief will be needed.

Dijsselbloem Sees ‘Tough’ Greek Debt Relief Talks With IMF (BBG)

Discussions between Greece’s European creditors and the IMF on additional debt relief for the Mediterranean euro region member will be difficult because of political hurdles within the 19-nation bloc, though a solution is on the horizon, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said. “Greece: We’re very close, it’s really the last stretch,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Friday in Washington with Francine Lacqua and Tom Keene. “We have a full agreement on the major reforms. How they are to be designed, when they are to be implemented, the size of them.”

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday she had “constructive discussions” with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos in preparation for the return of bailout auditors to Athens after euro-area finance ministers reached a tentative agreement on the measures Greece needs to implement to qualify for the next tranche of emergency loans. Dijsselbloem met Tsakalotos earlier on Friday in Washington. “That will be a tough discussion with the IMF,” said Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch Finance Minister in a caretaker cabinet, “There are some political constraints where we can go and where we can’t go.” The level of Greece’s primary budget surplus is key in determining the kind of debt relief it will need. The more such surplus it has, the less debt relief will be needed.

The Hellenic Statistical Authority on Friday unveiled data on last year’s primary surplus, which Eurostat is expected to validate on Monday. The surplus was 3.9% according to the European Union’s statistics office methodology, or 4.2% according to what has been agreed in the bailout program. The bailout target was for a primary surplus of 0.5% of GDP. In spite of its better-than-expected primary surplus last year, the IMF is not convinced Greece will be able to maintain that level of performance for 2018 and beyond. The fund estimates that at least half of the primarily surplus for 2016 came from one-off measures rather than structural changes that will continue delivering results in the years to come, according to a person familiar with its analysis. That has prompted the fund to demand more austerity measures.

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Groundhog man.

Schaeuble Says Greece to Blame for Delays in Bailout Program

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the Greek government bore responsibility for current delays in the country’s bailout program. Greece is to blame that its creditors didn’t return to Athens during the Greek Easter break to finish negotiations on steps the nation must take to qualify for the next tranche of emergency loans, Schaeuble told reporters Friday on the sidelines of the IMF spring meetings. IMF European Department head Poul Thomsen said at a media briefing there’s been enough progress recently to send back a mission to Greece. Greece and its international creditors struck a tentative agreement at a meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Malta earlier this month, breaking the latest deadlock over the country’s rescue and paving the way for about €7 billion in aid for Athens.

Although the decision represents progress, the euro area won’t unlock the payout until their audit in Athens is concluded. “It would have been possible to continue the mission in Athens immediately in the week after Malta,” said Schaeuble. “This was not possible during the Greek Easter break.” In a statement on Friday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she had a “constructive dialogue” with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos “in preparation for the return of the mission to discuss the two legs of the Greece program: policies and debt relief.” The IMF isn’t holding back progress, said Schaeuble. “The IMF isn’t delaying this process at all,” he said.

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The worst thing Greece could do.

Greece Blows EU-IMF Bailout Targets Away With Strong Budget Performance (R.)

Greece far exceeded its international lenders’ budget demands last year, official data showed on Friday, posting its first overall budget surplus in 21 years even when debt repayments are included. The primary surplus – the leftover before debt repayments that is the focus of IMF-EU creditors – was more than eight times what they had targeted. Data released by Greek statistics service ELSTAT – to be confirmed on Monday by the EU – showed the primary budget surplus at 3.9% of GDP last year versus a downwardly revised 2.3% deficit in 2015. This was calculated under European System of Accounts guidelines, which differ from the methodology used by Greece’s in bailout deliberations.

Under EU-IMF standards, the surplus was even larger. Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the primary budget surplus under bailout terms reached 4.19% of GDP last year versus the 0.5% of GDP target. “It is more than eight times above target,” Tzanakopoulos said in a statement. “Therefore, the targets set under the bailout program for 2017 and 2018 will certainly be attained.” Debt-strapped Greece and its creditors have been at odds for months over the country’s fiscal performance, delaying the conclusion of a key bailout review which could unlock needed bailout funds. The IMF, which has reservations on whether Greece can meet high primary surplus targets, has yet to decide if it will fund Greece’s current bailout, which expires in 2018.

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The surplus kills the economy even more.

Greek Primary Surplus Chokes Market (K.)

The state’s fiscal performance last year has exceeded even the most ambitious targets, as the primary budget surplus as defined by the Greek bailout program, came to 4.19% of GDP, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos announced on Friday. It came to €7.369 billion against a target for €879 million, or just 0.5% of GDP. A little earlier, the president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), Thanos Thanopoulos, announced the primary surplus according to Eurostat rules, saying that it came to 3.9% of GDP or €6.937 billion. The two calculations differ in methodology, but it is the surplus attained according to the bailout rules that matters for assessing the course of the program. This was also the first time since 1995 that Greece achieved a general government surplus – equal to 0.7% of GDP – which includes the cost of paying interest to the country’s creditors.

There is a downside to the news, however, as the figures point to overtaxation imposed last year combined with excessive containment of expenditure. The amount of €6-6.5 billion collected in excess of the budgeted surplus has put a chokehold on the economy, contributing to a great extent to the stagnation recorded on the GDP level in 2016. On the one hand, the impressive result could be a valuable weapon for the government in its negotiations with creditors to argue that it is on the right track to fiscal streamlining and can achieve or even exceed the agreed targets. On the other hand, however, the overperformance of the budget may weaken the argument in favor lightening the country’s debt load. It is no coincidence that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble noted in Washington that over the last couple of years, Greek government deficit forecasts are more realistic than those of the IMF.

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Skin in the game.

On Neocons and their Mental Defects (Taleb)

So we tried that thing called regime change in Iraq, and failed miserably. We tried it in Libya, and now there are now active slave markets in the place. But we satisfied the objective of “removing a dictator”. By the exact same reasoning, a doctor would inject a patient with “moderate” cancer cells “to improve his cholesterol numbers”, and claim victory after the patient is dead, particularly if the post-mortem shows remarkable cholesterol readings. But we know that doctors don’t do that, or, don’t do it in such a crude format, and that there is a clear reason for it. Doctors usually have some skin in the game. And don’t give up on logic, intellect and education, because a tight but higher order logical reasoning would show that the logic of advocating regime changes implies also advocating slavery.

So these interventionistas not only lack practical sense, and never learn from history, but they even make mistakes at the pure reasoning level, which they drown in some form of semi-abstract discourse. The first flaw is that they are incapable in thinking in second steps and unaware of the need for it –and about every peasant in Mongolia, every waiter in Madrid, and every car service operator in San Francisco knows that real life happens to have second, third, fourth, nth steps. The second flaw is that they are also incapable of distinguishing between multidimensional problems and their single dimensional representations –like multidimensional health and its stripped, cholesterol-reading reduced representation. They can’t get the idea that, empirically, complex systems do not have obvious one dimensional cause and effects mechanisms, and that under opacity, you do not mess with such a system.

An extension of this defect: they compare the actions of the “dictator” to the prime minister of Norway or Sweden, not to those of the local alternative. And when a blow up happens, they invoke uncertainty, something called a Black Swan, not realizing that one should not mess with a system if the results are fraught with uncertainty, or, more generally, avoid engaging in an action if you have no idea of the outcomes. Imagine people with similar mental handicaps, who don’t understand asymmetry, piloting planes. Incompetent pilots, those who cannot learn from experience, or don’t mind taking risks they don’t understand, may kill many, but they will themselves end up at the bottom of, say, the Atlantic, and cease to represent a threat to others and mankind.

So we end up populating what we call the intelligentsia with people who are delusional, literally mentally deranged, simply because they never have to pay for the consequences of their actions, repeating modernist slogans stripped of all depth. In general, when you hear someone invoking abstract modernistic notions, you can assume that they got some education (but not enough, or in the wrong discipline) and too little accountability. Now some innocent people, Yazidis, Christian minorities, Syrians, Iraqis, and Libyans had to pay a price for the mistakes of these interventionistas currently sitting in their comfortable air-conditioned offices. This, we will see, violates the very notion of justice from its pre-biblical, Babylonian inception. As well as the ethical structure of humanity.

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Just a week ago we commemorated a man on a cross whose image we remember but whose teachings we’ve forgotten.

28 Refugees Found Dead In Drifting Dinghy Off Libyan Coast (Ind.)

Almost 30 migrants have been found dead in a boat drifting off the coast of Libya as the number of refugees dying in attempts to reach Europe reach record highs. Fishermen found the bodies of 28 people, including four children, in waters near the smuggling hub of Sabratha after more than 8,300 asylum seekers were rescued over the Easter weekend. “Their boat stopped in the middle of the water because the engine was broken,” said Ahmaida Khalifa Amsalam, the interior ministry’s security commander. He said the victims appeared to have died of thirst and hunger after their vessel was left drifting in the Mediterranean.

They were buried in a cemetery dedicated to migrants whose bodies are regularly washed up on the coast of Libya, which remains embroiled in a bloody civil war six years after the UK helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Smugglers have increasingly resorted to packing migrants into flimsy dinghies that are unable to survive the crossing to Europe, with some being intercepted and forced back by the Libyan coastguard, others being rescued by EU officials and aid agencies, and many sinking. Tuesday’s tragic discovery was the latest incident of refugees being found dead inside boats, with a worrying trend emerging suggesting engines are being removed or sabotaged at sea.

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 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 9:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Ben Shahn Quick lunch stand in Plain City, Ohio 1938

Donald Trump Can’t Stop The Next Financial Crisis – Jim Rickards (MW)
“Russia Did It” – The Last Stand Of The Neocons (GEFIRA)
94% Of All New Jobs Created During Obama Era Were Part-Time Or Contract (IC)
World Trade Falls to 2014 Level, Trump “Trade War” Might Make it Worse (WS)
Central Banks Have Cut Interest Rates 690 Times Since Lehman Brothers (CNBC)
Italian Government Rides To Rescue Of Stricken Bank Monte Dei Paschi (R.)
Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Agree Billion-Dollar Fines With US (CNBC)
US Sues Barclays For Alleged Mortgage Securities Fraud (R.)
Why The Chinese Are Still Snapping Up US Commercial Property (CNBC)
EU Plans To ‘Revitalize’ Complex Financial Products (EUO)
Ron Paul: “We Don’t Have Very Much Room For Condemning Anybody Else” (ZH)
Is Obama a Russian Agent? (Dmitry Orlov)
Air Pollution Cause Of One In Three Deaths In China (SCMP)
1000s Of Refugees Left In Greek Cold, UN And EU Accused Of Mismanagement (G.)
The Automatic Earth in Greece: Big Dreams for 2017 (Automatic Earth)

 

 

“Policies that could prevent the crisis [..] include reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall separation of investment and commercial banking, breaking up big banks, banning most derivatives, and tougher law enforcement of bank wrongdoing.”

Donald Trump Can’t Stop The Next Financial Crisis – Jim Rickards (MW)

James Rickards sees threats in many places. In his latest book, “The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis,” he paints a picture of how that crisis will unfold. He argues that rather than pumping the financial system with liquidity, as happened in 2008, “elites” will freeze the financial plumbing until the crisis has passed. That means banks will close, as will exchanges. Money-market funds will be inaccessible. Forget trying to get your hands on money. Rickards, who was the principal negotiator of the 1998 bailout of Long-Term Capital Management as the hedge fund’s general counsel, calls this new world “ice-nine,” after a fictitious substance in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle.” Freezing customer funds in bank accounts is what happened in Cyprus is 2012 and Greece in 2015, he says. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule in 2014 that lets money-market funds suspend redemptions.

MarketWatch: Why do you believe a financial crisis is coming in 2018, and what do you see as the likely triggers? James Rickards: A financial crisis is certainly coming. In “The Road to Ruin,” I use 2018 as a target date and device because the two prior systemic crises, 1998 and 2008, were 10 years apart. I extended the timeline 10 years into the future from the 2008 crisis to maintain the 10-year tempo, and this is how I arrived at 2018. Yet I make the point in the book that the exact date is unimportant. What is most important is that the crisis is coming and the time to prepare is now. It could happen in 2018, 2019, or it could happen tomorrow. The conditions for collapse are all in place. It’s simply a matter of the right catalyst and array of factors in the critical state. Likely triggers could include a major bank failure, a failure to deliver physical gold, a war, a natural disaster, a cyber–financial attack and many other events. The trigger does not matter. The exact timing does not matter. What matters is that the crisis is inevitable and coming soon. Investors need to prepare.

MW : Is this likely to be on the scale of the 2008 financial crisis? Or what is a better comparison? J.R.: The new crisis will be of unprecedented scale. This is because the system itself is of unprecedented scale and interconnectedness. In complex dynamic systems that reach the critical state, the most catastrophic event that can occur is an exponential function of scale. This means that if you double the system, you do not double the risk; you increase it by a factor of five or 10. Since we have vastly increased the scale of the financial system since 2008, with larger banks, greater concentration of banking assets in fewer institutions, larger derivatives positions, and $70 trillion of new debt, we should expect the next crisis to be much worse than the last. There is no comparison short of wartime exigencies such as 1914. The next crisis will be of unprecedented scale and damage.

MW : On the flip side, what could prevent this crisis? And how do you respond to those who say this is just fear-mongering and a conspiracy theory? What are they missing? J.R.: Policies that could prevent the crisis are spelled out clearly in the book. These include reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall separation of investment and commercial banking, breaking up big banks, banning most derivatives, and tougher law enforcement of bank wrongdoing. The book also explains clearly why the dysfunctions in the system are not a “conspiracy” but the workings of like-minded individuals operating in a closed loop lacking cognitive diversity. I am not a fear-monger; people are already afraid, [and] I’m just trying to shed some light on the situation, which is why readers have responded so positively to the book. The critics do not have a firm grasp of the statistical properties of risk. They are clinging to obsolete equilibrium models instead of embracing more accurate models based on complexity theory and behavioral psychology.

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“..the European establishment is simultaneously bombing a country and importing the country’s inhabitants..”

“Russia Did It” – The Last Stand Of The Neocons (GEFIRA)

By the 2000s, Neocons had taken over the Republican Party in the US and the Labour Party in the UK and could count on allies in Italy (Berlusconi) and Spain (Aznar). In the following decade, Neocon ideology spread virulently, substituting for the failed experiment of military intervention to overthrow non-cooperating governments with covert operations funding and/or arming local groups in Libya, Syria,Tunisia Egypt, Georgia, and Ukraine. Neocon adherents took over the US state department, and their grip on it was strengthened by the appointment of Barack Obama as assistant to Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State for European affairs, wife of Robert Kagan, who is in turn a top Neocon ideologist alongside Paul Wolfowitz. They also created the narrative spread and reinforced by the mainstream media, which expose the alleged crimes of non-cooperating regimes in Syria, Russia and Libya, while ignoring the anti “democratic” behavior by friendly dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia’s kings.

The mission however never changed. What changed is the mood of Western citizens about the government changes and state-building projects of the Western leadership; as the economic and human cost grew endlessly, the Western public opinion has become fed up with interventionism around the world. The British Labour party was the first to face the malcontents: Blairites are being ousted in favour of anti-NATO, sworn pacifist Jeremy Corbyn. Then Donald Trump won the US election with his “America First” i.e. a policy of “non-interventionism and protectionism”, defeating Hillary’s hawkish one, publicly endorsed by Kagan and Wolfowitz; Sarkozy and Juppè were defeated in the primaries in France by Fillon, who is advocating the end of the trade war against big bad Neocon target Russia. The Neocon-backing Western establishment is facing political upheaval all over Europe and the US.

These revolutions are not mere popular movements. Trump’s election is the handing over of power from one influential group to another because a part of the establishment has become fully aware of the problems Europe and the US are facing. After a fourteen-year war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq the bloodshed spilled over into the streets of Paris and Berlin. The killing of civilians in the streets in Europe was not supposed to happen after the eradication of Al Qaeda and the alleged elimination of its leader Osama Bin Laden. Or should we rather say European insanity is spilling over, as the European establishment is simultaneously bombing a country and importing the country’s inhabitants? What do the Western leadership expect to have on their hands? Meanwhile Russia is reemerging as a more successful international actor.

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Echo chambers are us.

94% Of All New Jobs Created During Obama Era Were Part-Time Or Contract (IC)

A new study by economists from Harvard and Princeton indicates that 94% of the 10 million new jobs created during the Obama era were temporary positions. The study shows that the jobs were temporary, contract positions, or part-time “gig” jobs in a variety of fields. Female workers suffered most heavily in this economy, as work in traditionally feminine fields, like education and medicine, declined during the era. The research by economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University shows that the proportion of workers throughout the U.S., during the Obama era, who were working in these kinds of temporary jobs, increased from 10.7% of the population to 15.8%.

Krueger, a former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was surprised by the finding. The disappearance of conventional full-time work, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work, has hit every demographic. “Workers seeking full-time, steady work have lost,” said Krueger. Under Obama, 1 million fewer workers, overall, are working than before the beginning of the Great Recession. The outgoing president believes his administration was a net positive for workers, however. “Since I signed Obamacare into law (in 2010), our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs,” said Obama, during his farewell press conference last Friday.

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It’s going to keep falling no matter what. And regaining some domestic manufacturing capacity is never a bad thing. If you focus of producing essentials, that is.

World Trade Falls to 2014 Level, Trump “Trade War” Might Make it Worse (WS)

“If you get into a trade war with China, sooner or later we’ll have to come to grips with that,” Carl Icahn, now special advisor to President-Elect Trump, told CNBC on Thursday. “I remember the day something like that would really knock the hell out of the market.” A trade war with China surely would be another wall of worry for stocks to climb. Trump’s rhetoric against China, each morsel packaged into 140 characters or less, has already recreated much-needed turbulence [read… Trump Tweets about China, US Businesses Freak out]. “But maybe if you’re going to do it,” Icahn said about the looming trade war with China, “you should get it over with, right?”

This comes after rumors emerged that Trump’s transition team is chewing over the idea to impose import tariffs of up to 10%, “according to multiple sources,” including a “senior Trump transition official,” CNN reported. The idea is to boost US manufacturing. The new tariffs could be imposed by executive order or by Congress as part of broader tax reform legislation. The 10% would be an uptick from the 5% tariff that incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had put on the table last week, in “meetings with key Washington players,” two sources “who represent business interests in Washington” told CNN. These tariffs would be in line with Trump’s campaign motto of “America First.” Other countries would, as they always do, retaliate. Hence the term “trade war.”

Countries will be careful not to escalate, but these things can escalate nevertheless, because no one wants to seem weak and back off. Either way, it would pull the rug out from under world trade. But world trade, a reflection of the health of the global goods-producing economy, is already in bad shape. For the past two years, it has been languishing in a condition we now call the Great Stagnation. The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, a division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, just released the preliminary data of its Merchandise World Trade Monitor for October. World trade isn’t falling off a cliff, as it had done during the Great Recession, when global supply chains froze up overnight. But since November 2014, it has gone absolutely nowhere:

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“Is There A Way Out?” Not for most. And do give the ECB a special place in this: they are responsible for setting one single rate in countries that need completely different rates.

Central Banks Have Cut Interest Rates 690 Times Since Lehman Brothers (CNBC)

The top 50 central banks around the world have seen a total of 690 interest rate cuts since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, according to data from JP Morgan. While this number means one rate cut every three trading days, analysts have warned that central banks may start to run out of ammunition soon. “Essentially these rate cuts came into effect to try and stimulate economic growth and to prop up economies post the financial crisis,” Alex Dryden, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, told CNBC via email. However, he warned that central banks are running out of room to maneuver.

“The Bank of Japan, for example, own over 45% of the government bond market, over 65% of the domestic ETF market and are a top 10 shareholder in 90% of listed firms. They have also cut rates into negative territory. There isn’t much more they can do.” Markets, however, continue to ride the wave of uncertainty and speculation over whether the world’s central banks will either continue to pump in more and more cash into the economy through bond-buying programs known as QE or conventional ways such as lowering interest rates to stimulate borrowing. But as we delve deeper into this world of ultra-low interest rate and easy monetary policy, there are other areas of the economy that could see a knock-on effect.

This raises a very big question – will the global economy ever exit this low interest rate environment? “No easy way out. The world has changed and the level of neutral interest rates has fallen for most countries,” Jan von Gerich, chief economist at Nordea, told CNBC via email. Gerich further explained that the way inflation is responding to growth seems to have changed, which makes monetary policy considerations harder for central bankers. “The situation varies a lot, though. The Fed is gradually finding at least a partial way out while it is hard to see the ECB raising rates before the next recession arrives.”

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Oh, sweet Jesus: “..allow Italy’s third-largest bank to finally return to operate at full throttle to support the economy..”

Italian Government Rides To Rescue Of Stricken Bank Monte Dei Paschi (R.)

The Italian government approved a decree on Friday to bail out Monte dei Paschi di Siena after the world’s oldest bank failed to win investor backing for a desperately needed capital increase. Looking to end a protracted banking crisis that has gummed up the economy, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said his Cabinet had authorized a €20 billion fund to help lenders in distress – first and foremost Monte dei Paschi. Within minutes of the late-night Cabinet meeting ending, the country’s third largest lender issued a statement saying it would formally request state aid, opening the way for possibly the biggest Italian bank nationalization in decades. The government has said its long-awaited salvage operation will work within EU rules, meaning some Monte dei Paschi bondholders will be forced to accept losses to ensure the taxpayer does not pick up all of the bill.

However, the government and Monte dei Paschi promised protection for around 40,000 retail savers who had bought the bank’s junior debt. Many of the high street investors say they were unaware of the risks when they purchased the paper. “Today marks an important day for Monte dei Paschi, a day that sees it turn a corner and be able to reassure its depositors,” said Gentiloni, who only took office last week and has made the bank rescue his first priority. [..] The collapse of Monte dei Paschi would have threatened the savings of thousands of Italians and could have had devastated the wider banking sector, which is saddled with €356 billion of bad loans – a third of the euro zone’s total. [..] The government said full details of the rescue plan have yet to be worked out, but it outlined the contours in a statement.

It said the bank’s Tier 1 bonds, which are mostly held by professional investors, would be converted into shares at 75% of their nominal value. Tier 2 bonds, which are mostly in the hands of retail investors, will be converted instead at 100% of their face value. To further insulate small savers from losses, Monte dei Paschi will offer to swap the shares they end up with as a result of the forced conversion with regular bonds and sell the same shares to the state instead. “The rescue will require a (new) business plan that European authorities will need to approve and that will allow Italy’s third-largest bank to finally return to operate at full throttle to support the economy and with the full confidence of its depositors,” said Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan.

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Where are the indictments?

Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Agree Billion-Dollar Fines With US (CNBC)

Deutsche Bank will be hoping for a fresh start in 2017 after reaching a $7.2 billion deal with U.S. authorities to settle allegations of the mis-selling of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Germany’s largest lender said on Friday morning it had agreed ‘in principle’ to pay a $3.1 billion civil fine to be supplemented with the payment of $4.1 billion in consumer relief overtime. The announcement of the fine comes amid a raft of banking stories related to the mis-selling of MBS which hit the wires before Friday’s European market open. This included news that U.S. federal prosecutors would sue Britain’s Barclays bank and that Credit Suisse had reached a provisional $5.3 billion deal, meaning the Swiss bank will take a pre-tax charge of about $2 billion.

Of the total amount demanded of Credit Suisse, $2.48 billion would be an immediate fine to settle the claims and an additional $2.8 billion would be paid over five years for consumer relief. Deutsche Bank’s agreement follows months of negotiations with the U.S.’s Department of Justice (DoJ) and ranks as the third-highest penalty imposed to date on a bank to settle claims of mis-sold mortgage-backed instruments. Although the $7.2 billion payment is far from negligible, investors may take some cold comfort from the fact it is less than $16.7 billion that Bank of America was required to stump up in August 2014 and the $9.0 billion charged to JPMorgan Chase in November 2013. Furthermore, of the full amount, only the $3.1 billion civil fine component is required to be imminently delivered in cash.

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Again, where are the indictments?

US Sues Barclays For Alleged Mortgage Securities Fraud (R.)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday sued Barclays for fraud in the sale of mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis. The British bank deceived investors about the quality of loans underlying tens of billions of dollars of mortgage securities between 2005 and 2007, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. district court in Brooklyn, New York. Loans had been made to borrowers with no ability to repay and were based on inflated home appraisals, the complaint said. Barclays said in a statement that the claims in the lawsuit are “disconnected from the facts” and that it has an obligation to defend against “unreasonable allegations and demands.”

In terms of demands, Barclays was apparently referring to negotiations with the Justice Department to settle the claims without a case being filed. “Barclays will vigorously defend the complaint and seek its dismissal at the earliest opportunity,” the statement said. The bank’s U.S.-traded shares were down 1.7 percent at $11.08 shortly before the close of the market. Barclays is among a number of European banks that have been under investigation for misconduct in the sale of mortgage securities, which contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

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One word: Dollar.

Why The Chinese Are Still Snapping Up US Commercial Property (CNBC)

Interest in U.S. commercial real estate is perking up, particularly from China, as expectations of pro-growth policies from President-elect Donald Trump spark demand for dollar-denominated assets. “(Investors) are seeing the U.S.commercial real estate marketplace as really standing out on a global basis,” said Hessam Nadji, president and chief executive at commercial real estate firm Marcus and Millichap. “It’s not being overbuilt; it’s been very well balanced in this particular cycle in terms of loans that are not going up, the leverage that was very well balanced. They’re at much lower risk at this stage of recovery than we’ve seen in the past,” he told CNBC’s The Rundown. Concerns over the dollar’s appreciation are also prompting some motivation for capital allocation into the U.S. “particularly because the Chinese economy is slowing” and as the yield profile of commercial real estate is competitive, Nadji added.

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We don’t solve our problems, we package them.

EU Plans To ‘Revitalize’ Complex Financial Products (EUO)

The EU is trying to “revitalise” a market for controversial financial products, but one of the goals appears to already have been achieved without the EU’s help. Securitisation is the packaging of loans, mortgages, or other contractual debts into securities that can then be sold on the market, together with the risk attached to those debts. It had an instrumental role in the financial crisis of 2008, but the European Commission says giving the securitisation market a boost can help the real economy. The commission has not given a target figure of when “revitalisation” will have been achieved, but spoke in a press release of going back to the “pre-crisis average”.

The commission did not want to comment on the record, but one commission official said that if the market would return to average pre-crisis issuance levels, this would generate €100-€150 billion in additional funding for the economy. “This would already be a major achievement for the securitisation markets,” the commission official said. EUobserver looked at how average issuance levels have done so far, and found that more securities have been created through securitisation since the crisis than before the crisis. This website collected data from the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), a lobby group for the financial service sector, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, its US-based counterpart.

Taking a very narrow view, the “pre-crisis” years are 1996-2006. The average issuance of securities in Europe was €168 billion. When including 2007, the average was €203 billion. When including 2008 – when the financial crisis was in full swing – the average was €251 billion. Last week, AFME released data for the third quarter of 2016. The first three quarters of 2016 were the best three quarters since 2012. Taking the most recent data into account, the average annual issuance of securitisation since 2009, is €270 billion. Last year the figure was €216 billion. Even when correcting for inflation, the post-crisis period is already better than the pre-crisis period. Converting the averages to today’s prices, the average since 2009 is €282 billion, compared to a 1996-2007 average of €244 billion.

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“I think the spying and interference is sort of the nature of our governments.”

Ron Paul: “We Don’t Have Very Much Room For Condemning Anybody Else” (ZH)

When asked whether all the “Russian hacking” allegations were just a simple “political stunt” or whether a serious investigation needed to be conducted, Ron Paul offered up a startling bit of reality pointing out that America has a long history of interfering with elections and even invading countries “to have our guy in.” We suspect the following response was a bit more truth than Fox Business News expected.

“I think it is politics more than anything else. It’s really is nothing new. It’s like, guess what – somebody might have done A, B, C.” “The very rarely, if ever, compare what we do with election around the world. We are interfering all the time.” “I’m sure the Russians are interfering. But when you lose, you can jump on that and make a big point of it. But I don’t think it made any difference. I think it’s insignificant.” “If you review the history of how many elections we’ve been involved with, how many countries we’ve invaded and how many people we’ve killed to have our guy in, I’ll tell you what – we don’t have very much room for condemning anybody else.” “I think the spying and interference is sort of the nature of our governments. That’s why I’d like to see government much smaller.”

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HA!

Is Obama a Russian Agent? (Dmitry Orlov)

Sometimes a case looks weak because there is no “smoking gun”—no obvious, direct evidence of conspiracy, malfeasance or evil intent—but once you tally up all the evidence it forms a coherent and damning picture. And so it is with the Obama administration vis à vis Russia: by feigning hostile intent it did everything possible to further Russia’s agenda. And although it is always possible to claim that all of Obama’s failures stem from mere incompetence, at some point this claim begins to ring hollow; how can he possibly be so utterly competent… at being incompetent? Perhaps he just used incompetence as a veil to cover his true intent, which was always to bolster Russia while rendering the US maximally irrelevant in world affairs. Let’s examine Obama’s major foreign policy initiatives from this angle.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of his eight years has been the destruction of Libya. Under the false pretense of a humanitarian intervention what was once the most prosperous and stable country in the entire North Africa has been reduced to a rubble-strewn haven for Islamic terrorists and a transit point for economic migrants streaming into the European Union. This had the effect of pushing Russia and China together, prompting them to start voting against the US together as a block in the UN Security Council. In a single blow, Obama assured an important element of his legacy as a Russian agent: no longer will the US be able to further its agenda through this very important international body.

Next, Obama presided over the violent overthrow of the constitutional government in the Ukraine and the installation of an American puppet regime there. When Crimea then voted to rejoin Russia, Obama imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation. These moves may seem like they were designed to hurt Russia, but let’s look at the results instead of the intentions. First, Russia regained control of an important, strategic region. Second, the sanctions and the countersanctions allowed Russia to concentrate on import replacement, building up the domestic economy. This was especially impressive in agriculture, and Russia now earns more export revenue from foodstuffs than from weapons. Third, the severing of economic ties with the Ukraine allowed Russia to eliminate a major economic competitor.

Fourth, over a million Ukrainians decided to move to Russia, either temporarily or permanently, giving Russia a major demographic boost and giving it access to a pool of Russian-speaking skilled labor. Most Ukrainians are barely distinguishable from the general Russian population.) Fifth, whereas before the Ukraine was in a position to extort concessions from Russia by playing games with the natural gas pipelines that lead from Russia to the European Union, now Russia’s hands have been untied, resulting in new pipeline deals with Turkey and Germany. In effect, Russia reaped all the benefits from the Ukrainian stalemate, while the US gained an unsavory, embarrassing dependent.

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Worse than smoking.

Air Pollution Cause Of One In Three Deaths In China (SCMP)

Smog is related to nearly one-third of deaths in China, putting it on a par with smoking as a threat to health, according to an academic paper based on the study of air pollution and mortality data in 74 cities and published in an international journal. The findings by Nanjing University’s School of the Environment, which were published in the November edition of the journal the Science of the Total Environment, provides the latest scientific estimates of the health cost of China’s notorious smog. The latest bout of smog began last Friday, affecting about half a billion people on the mainland, with the severest impact in the last three days. Previous research work have found equally alarming results about the country’s toxic air.

The International Energy Agency published its first study on air pollution in June and estimated that severe air pollution has shortened life expectancy in China by an average 25 months. An academic paper co-authored by researchers from MIT in the US, Tsinghua University and Peking University in China, plus the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2013 concluded that bad air has cut life expectancy by an average of 5.5 years in the north of the country. There are so far no concrete or widely agreed estimates on the impact of air pollution on health in China partly because it is scientifically complicated to measure and also because there is little historical precedent for prolonged exposure to such high levels of air pollution.

The six researchers from Nanjing University said they conducted the study because air pollution was the “most severe and worrisome environmental problem in China”, but knowledge of its health effects was insufficient. When they looked into 3.03 million deaths in 2013 in 74 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, they found 31.8 per cent could be linked to PM 2.5 pollution – the tiny smog particles most hazardous to health.

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Yeah, it’s bitter. Still, as I said yesterday on FB: “Right up the alley of my -repeat- article and appeal yesterday. Only, the Guardian itself runs a fund now. So it has reason to publish this. The problem: the paper supports 3 NGOs, all British. As if they know better than Greeks what to do in Greece. It’s a broken record problem. Too much money gets wasted on hubris and 1001 -repeat- preventable fuck-ups.”

1000s Of Refugees Left In Greek Cold, UN And EU Accused Of Mismanagement (G.)

The UN refugee agency and the EU’s aid department have been accused by other aid groups of mismanaging a multimillion-pound fund earmarked for the most vulnerable refugees in Europe, leaving thousands sleeping in freezing conditions in Greece. The Greek government, which has ultimate jurisdiction over camp activities, has also been criticised for failing to use nearly €90m (£75m) of separate EU funding to adequately improve conditions at the camps before the onset of winter. No single actor has overall control of all funding and management decisions in the camps, allowing most parties to distance themselves from blame.

The EU aid department, known as Echo, has given UNHCR more than €14m since April to help prepare roughly 50 refugee camps for the winter in Greece, where an estimated 50,000 mainly Syrian refugees have been stranded since the adoption of new European migration policies in March. A further €24m has been given to UNHCR for other projects. Both organisations stand accused by other aid groups of squandering this money, after failing to properly “winterise” or evacuate dozens of camps before snow fell in Greece earlier in December. In addition to providing warmer bedding and clothes, UNHCR was expected to use this money to move people from tents to heated containers or formal housing; heat warehouses where other refugees are living; provide a consistent supply of hot water; and install insulated flooring for anyone still left in tents.

Months after the funds were dispersed, roughly half of those living in camps had yet to be transferred to formal housing by the onset of winter. Of the 45 camps that were still active at the start of the month, the Guardian visited or was made aware of at least 15 camps that had yet to be properly adapted by the time snow fell in northern Greece at the start of December. UNHCR admitted it was itself aware of only eight camps where all the residents have been moved out of tents and into prefabricated containers.

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Because of all that goes wrong in the NGO structure, we support this:

The Automatic Earth in Greece: Big Dreams for 2017 (Automatic Earth)

Both Konstantinos and myself -and all the other volunteers at O Allos Anthropos- want to thank you so much for all the help you’ve given over the past year -and in 2015-. We’re around $30,000 for 2016 alone, another $5000 since my last article 4 weeks ago. I swear, for as long as I live, this will never cease to amaze me. And then of course what happens is people start thinking and dreaming about what more they can do for those in peril. Wouldn’t you know…

A Merry Christmas to all of you, to all of us. Very Merry. God bless us, every one. Thank you for everything.

If I may make a last suggestion, please forward this ‘dream’ to anyone you know -and even those you don’t-, by mail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth, any which way you can think of. Go to your local mayor or town council, suggest they can help and get -loudly- recognized for it. There may be a dream involved for 2017, but that was our notion a year ago as well, and look what we’ve achieved a year later: it is very real indeed. And anyone, everyone can become part of that reality for just a few bucks. If the institutions won’t do it, perhaps the people themselves should. That doesn’t even sound all that crazy or farfetched. There’s a lot of us.


Konstantinos Polychronopoulos on Lesbos Dec 2015

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Jul 272016
 
 July 27, 2016  Posted by at 9:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


John Vachon Five o’clock crowds, Chicago 1941

Japan PM Unveils More Than $266 Billion Stimulus (AFP)
Deutsche Bank’s Q2 Net Income Plunges Nearly 100% Year-On-Year (CNBC)
China’s Debt Problem May Be Worse Than Expected, Moody’s Warns (CNBC)
China Stocks Tumble on Report of Wealth Management Product Curbs (BBG)
Hong Kong Imports/Exports Plunge in Line with Japan and China (R.)
A Refinery-Driven Correction Is Upon Us’ (BBG)
Cameron Was Right, Britain Is Broken (G.)
Kremlin Says Idea It Hacked Democratic Party Emails Absurd (R.)
Assange: “A Lot More Material” Will Be Released (ZH)
The Neocons Are Backing Hillary Clinton (Intercept)
The Odious Versus the Tedious (Kunstler)
Auckland House Prices Must Deliberately Be Reduced By 50% – NZ Greens (RNZ)
Catalonia Tells Spain It Will Push For Secession With Or Without Assent (G.)
We Love To Talk Of Terror (Robert Fisk)
The Power of “Nyet” (Dmitry Orlov)
Leading Insecticide Cuts Bee Sperm By 40%, Lifespan By A Third (G.)
LUCA: The Ancestor Of All Living Things On Earth (IBT)

 

 

Abenomics must end in full-blown madness.

Japan PM Unveils More Than $266 Billion Stimulus (AFP)

Japan on Wednesday announced a whopping economic stimulus package worth more than 28 trillion yen ($266 billion), media reported, to boost the stumbling economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the package in a speech in southwestern Japan, giving few details except to say it would include about 13 trillion yen in government spending, according to Jiji Press news agency.

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“..scrapping dividend payments to shareholders, thousands of job cuts and asset sales…”

Deutsche Bank’s Q2 Net Income Plunges Nearly 100% Year-On-Year (CNBC)

Deutsche Bank, the German bank which is an important part of the global financial system, announced revenue and income falls Wednesday which could add further concerns for investors made jittery by a combination of Brexit and previous issues at the bank. Its second-quarter net income was down 98% from the same period in the previous year, to 20 million euros ($22 million), as it exited parts of its business while revenues were down 20% to 7.4 billion euro. Further cuts may be needed, John Cryan, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, warned. “If the current weak economic environment persists, we will need to be yet more ambitious in the timing and intensity of our restructuring,” he said in a statement.

Deutsche’s CET1 ratio – a key measure of financial strength – improved slightly to 10.8%. The bank, one of Germany’s largest lenders, has lost around 40% of its market value this year as concerns mount about its capital position and $14 billion in fines over past misconduct. John Cryan, the bank’s co-chief executive who was appointed in July last year, has embarked on a drastic plan to meet its capital targets, including scrapping dividend payments to shareholders, thousands of job cuts and asset sales. Raising new capital is likely to be difficult because of the bank’s holdings of debt for some of the worse off euro zone countries.

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As I’ve said 100 times: “China’s “shadow banking” system is masking the rise in indebtedness..

China’s Debt Problem May Be Worse Than Expected, Moody’s Warns (CNBC)

China’s “shadow banking” system is masking the rise in indebtedness in China, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Wednesday. The rating agency said overall leverage in China’s economy continued to rise with credit growth outpacing the rise in nominal GDP. “The growth in overall leverage may be understated, because some of the fastest growing components of shadow banking are not included in TSF (total social financing),” said Michael Taylor, Moody’s chief credit officer for Asia Pacific. The credit growth was measured using TSF, an economic barometer of total fundraising by Chinese non-state entities, including individuals. It didn’t, however, include all shadow banking activities, which have grown in recent years.

“We estimate the potential understatement to be significant, amounting to at least RMB16 trillion ($2.4 trillion) or 23% of GDP at end-2015, equivalent to around one-third of shadow banking,” Taylor added. Moody’s said TSF flows were being sustained by formal bank credit flows supported by accommodative monetary policy. The increasing leverage was worrying. “The rise in overall leverage and further expansion of shadow banking activity are pushing up financial risks,” said Stephen Schwartz, a Moody’s senior vice president.

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Shadow banks and their ‘wealth’ products.

China Stocks Tumble on Report of Wealth Management Product Curbs (BBG)

Chinese stocks slumped the most in six weeks amid concern regulators are moving to limit equity investments by some wealth-management products. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.6% at the mid-day break, reversing a gain of as much as 0.2%. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 3%, while the ChiNext Index of small-company shares sank 4%, the most since June 13. China’s banking regulator is considering tightening curbs on the nation’s $3.6 trillion market for WMPs, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing people it didn’t identify. Authorities may set a limit on how much WMPs can invest in equities and “non-standard assets” such as loans, the report said.

“There’s an obvious trend that the regulators want to strengthen market monitoring and lower the use of leverage in financial markets to control risks,” said Dai Ming at Hengsheng Asset Management. “Under such circumstances, Chinext is especially vulnerable, given its high valuations and the recent gains.” The China Banking Regulatory Commission met with some banks this month on the rule revision and a final version hasn’t been drafted, the 21st Century Business Herald report said. China’s watchdogs have signaled they’re paying closer attention to the fund managers and brokerages who funnel the nation’s household savings into investments from stocks to bonds and derivatives.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission this month issued guidelines curbing the use of leverage by structured asset management plans. Li Chao, vice chairman of the regulator, told a gathering of firms in the northeastern city of Harbin last week to do better due diligence on prospective clients when arranging initial public offerings, secondary share sales and bond issues, people familiar with the matter said.

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Hong Kong=Japan=China. Exact same pattern. World trade collapsing. If Hong Kong weren’t so dependent on imports, those would fall much more than 5.6%. “Domestic exports to the United Kingdom [..] plunged 48.2% in June.”

Hong Kong Imports/Exports Plunge in Line with Japan and China (R.)

Hong Kong’s total exports in June fell for the 14th straight month, dampened by a slowdown in China, with the city’s factories bracing for more pain in coming months from the impact of Brexit. Open and trade-dependent economies in Asia such as Hong Kong are expected to be among the most vulnerable to a slowdown in global trade from Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union as the effects filter through factory supply chains, analysts say. Hong Kong’s total exports in June fell 1% from a year earlier to HK$296.5 billion ($38.2 billion), government data showed on Tuesday. Total imports fell 0.9%, in its 17th straight month of decline, to HK$342.1 billion. In May, annual exports slipped 0.1% while imports dropped 4.3%.

For the first half of 2016, total exports value dropped 3.9%, while imports fell 5.6%. The city recorded a visible trade deficit of HK$199.6 billion for the first half period, equivalent to 10.8% of the value of imports. “Looking ahead, the external trading environment remains challenging given the uncertainties associated with the outcome of the UK referendum in favor of leaving the EU, slow recovery in the advanced markets, monetary policy divergence among major central banks and heightened geopolitical tensions in various regions,” the government said, adding it will monitor the situation closely. Domestic exports to the United Kingdom, which accounted for 2.2% of the total, plunged 48.2% in June.

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Well, not really, it’s all just about demand.

A Refinery-Driven Correction Is Upon Us’ (BBG)

Gear up for a fall in oil prices. The global oil market is “severely oversupplied” with gasoline — with stocks at a five-year high — serving as a blow to crude prices from next month, reckon Morgan Stanley analysts led by Adam Longson. In a report published on Sunday, the analysts foresee “worrisome trends” for oil supply and demand, led by refineries generating too much gasoline in recent months. Faced with the need to cut back on capacity utilization to protect profit margins, these refineries are set to crimp crude oil purchases and drag prices lower, the analysts say. “Crude oil demand is trending below refined product demand for the first time in three years,” they write.

“Refineries are the true consumer of crude oil, and crude oil demand is ultimately more important than aggregate refined product demand for oil balances. Given the oversupply in the refined product markets, fading refinery margins, and economic run cuts, we expect crude oil demand to deteriorate further over the coming months.” A glut of gasoline could weigh significantly on oil prices, which have been lifted in recent weeks by supply disruptions and healthy petrol demand in emerging markets. Excess gasoline also means that refiners may close their doors sooner and for longer than usual during their traditional summer production shutdown, taking further demand out of the market.

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Reading through a piece like this, it becomes even more surprising that Brexit was a surprise to so many Brits.

Cameron Was Right, Britain Is Broken (G.)

In opposition, David Cameron battered Gordon Brown with two words: Broken Britain. It was his Murdoch-inspired catchphrase for hoodies scrapping in gangs, Neets necking alcopops, teenagers ending up pregnant. It set the framework for Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms. Broken Britain summed up the dark side of the New Labour era: a busted social contract and a class wantonly sponging off the rest of society. It always struck me as the right phrase for the wrong target. The real Broken Britain is the one revealed over the past four days in two reports from MPs. It is workers urinating into bottles at the “Victorian workhouse” of Sports Direct, because their toilet breaks are restricted. It is women being offered permanent jobs in return for sexual favours.

It is BHS, a high-street chain nearly as old as the Queen, effectively killed by two “plundering” owners. It is 10,000 shop workers who will shortly be out on the streets, and 20,000 pension-scheme members who must now worry over how much they’ll have to live on in their old age. The riots of 2011 were taken by Cameron as proof he’d been right all along: “Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences … Reward without effort. Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities.” This is Philip Green and Mike Ashley summed up – along with all the well-heeled consultants, directors and credulous politicians (including Cameron) who applauded and subsidised them on their way, bought off with fat fees and cheap photo-ops.

The rioting kids who stole bottles of water and robbed tellies from their local Argos were given prison sentences worth a total of 1,200 years. By contrast, Green and Ashley weren’t even going to bother facing MPs. Only after five months of back and forth did Sports Direct’s Ashley get in the chauffeured car down to Westminster. Green went one better, demanding that Frank Field resign from the BHS inquiry – then rocking up to parliament and telling MPs to stop looking at him. Such prickliness from a multibillionaire would have been funny had it not been for the thousands of families whose lives he’d just ruined.

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Wow. I found a few sentences at Reuters that sound somewhat sensible on the topic. “If the Russians hadn’t hacked us (for which we have no proof), Americans would have never found out about what we did.” Dumb f**ks!

Kremlin Says Idea It Hacked Democratic Party Emails Absurd (R.)

“We are again seeing these maniacal attempts to exploit the Russian theme in the U.S. election campaign,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the leaked emails. “This is not breaking new ground, this is an old trick which is being played again. This is not good for our bilateral relations, but we understand that we simply have to get through this unpleasant period.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier on Tuesday he had raised the hacking issue at a meeting in Laos with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “I don’t want to use four-letter words,” was Lavrov’s only response to reporters when asked whether Russia was responsible for the email hack.

Earlier this month, Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Trump, visited Moscow, where he gave a lecture complaining that Western governments had often had a hypocritical focus on democratization in the post-Soviet world. Analysts say the Kremlin would welcome a Trump win because the billionaire U.S. businessman has repeatedly praised Putin, spoken of wanting to get along with Russia, and has said he would consider an alliance with Moscow against Islamic State. Trump’s suggestion he might abandon NATO’s pledge to automatically defend all alliance members is also likely to have gone down well in Moscow, where the military alliance is cast as an outdated Cold War relic.

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“Assange told CNN that Democratic Party officials were using the specter of Russian involvement to distract from the content of the emails..”

Assange: “A Lot More Material” Will Be Released (ZH)

One month ago, when Wikileaks’ Julian Assange told ITV’s Richard Peston that he would publish “enough evidence” to indict Hillary Clinton, few took him seriously. And while Hillary has not been indicted – yet – last Friday’s leak has already managed to wreak havoc and has led to revelations of cronyism and collusion within the Democratic party and the media, the resignation of the DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as chaos on the first day of the Democratic convention. Hence, why we believe Assange will be taken more seriously this time. Earlier today, Assange told CNN that Wikileaks might release “a lot more material” relevant to the US electoral campaign. Assange spoke to CNN following the release of nearly 20,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails.

The topic then turned to the topic du jour: “did Putin do it”? Assange refused to confirm or deny a Russian origin for the mass email leak, saying Wikileaks tries to create ambiguity to protect all its sources. “Perhaps one day the source or sources will step forward and that might be an interesting moment some people may have egg on their faces. But to exclude certain actors is to make it easier to find out who our sources are,” Assange told CNN. The Kremlin has rejected allegations its behind the hacking, calling suggestions it ordered the release of the emails to influence US politics the “usual fun and games” of the US election campaigns, while the Russian foreign minister had an even simpler reaction to the same question: “I don’t want to use four-letter words.”

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, added, “This is not really good for bilateral relations.” All of this now appears to be irrelevant, and as we speculated earlier, the “anti-Russia” narrative is now in motion and moments ago Obama said that it’s ‘possible’ Putin is trying to sway vote for Trump. Which brings us to the next point: speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he faces extradition over sexual assault allegations, Assange told CNN that Democratic Party officials were using the specter of Russian involvement to distract from the content of the emails, which have had tumultuous affect on the party at the start of its national convention [..]

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And you think Trump is the danger? These are the people who shed blood around the globe. These are the people responsible for the terrorist attacks against the west.

The Neocons Are Backing Hillary Clinton (Intercept)

As Hillary Clinton puts together what she hopes will be a winning coalition in November, many progressives remain wary — but she has the war-hawks firmly behind her. “I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.” As the co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, Kagan played a leading role in pushing for America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, and insisted for years afterwards that it had turned out great.

Despite the catastrophic effects of that war, Kagan insisted at last week’s fundraiser that U.S. foreign policy over the last 25 years has been “an extraordinary success.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s know-nothing isolationism has led many neocons to flee the Republican ticket. And some, like Kagan, are actively helping Clinton, whose hawkishness in many ways resembles their own. The event raised $25,000 for Clinton. Two rising stars in the Democratic foreign policy establishment, Amanda Sloat and Julianne Smith, also spoke.

The way they described Clinton’s foreign policy vision suggested that if elected president in November, she will escalate tensions with Russia, double down on military belligerence in the Middle East and generally ignore the American public’s growing hostility to intervention. Sloat, the former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, boasted that Clinton will be “more interventionist and forward-leaning than Obama’s been” in Syria. She also applauded Clinton for doing intervention the right way, through coalitions instead of the unilateral aggression that defined the Bush years.

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“What higher service to democracy than to expose the anti-democratic workings of the party that affects to call itself Democratic? ”

The Odious Versus the Tedious (Kunstler)

You thought the Republican convention was a ghastly spectacle of royal Trumpery (and Iago-style backstabbing featuring the arch-asshole Ted Cruz)? Now comes the Democratic Annunciation of I’m-With-Her-It’s-My-Turn, the incarnation of crony corruption in our late-state Republic of Racketeering. Remember that old movie, The Exorcist, with its demonic spewage of projectile vomit. Expect something like that on the grand scale in Philadelphia this week as the Exalted-Breaker-of-Glass-Ceilings steps forth to accept her victory tiara.

The New York Times is blaming the Ruskies for releasing those thousands of new emails disclosing the perfidy of the Democratic National Committee staff in pimping for Hillary against Bernie and trafficking with the major network news operations to manage and spin things Her way — and especially to rig the electoral machinery against Sanders. How much will his supporters Feel the Bern this week in Philly as the party attempts to put on an appearance of unity (Ha!) behind HRC? How can it conceivably be possible now for Bernie to stand by her side for the crucial unity photo op? I suspect he’d rather chew his right arm off.

For my money, the Ruskies should get the Nobel Peace Prize if they were behind the email release. What higher service to democracy than to expose the anti-democratic workings of the party that affects to call itself Democratic? The sudden appearance of 20,000 smoking guns made party chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz vamoose faster than you can say Debbie Wasserman Schultz, though her replacement, Donna Brazile is every inch just another blatant HRC foot-soldier. Perhaps she’ll have to orchestrate the proceedings with smoke signals or invisible ink instead of emails.

As the conventions rolled out, the aggregate miasma we call the news industry resorted to that tired trope of Optimism Versus Pessimism. Translation: you can’t handle the truth so somebody please bring out the rainbow-leaping unicorns. The American zeitgeist is a tattered garment worn by a three hundred pound tranny in a diabetic coma. It’s probably beyond salvation at this point. Somebody please put it out of its misery. Hence: Trump Versus Hillary, the odious versus the tedious, the election to end all elections.

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This makes too much sense.

Auckland House Prices Must Deliberately Be Reduced By 50% – NZ Greens (RNZ)

Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced by up to 50% over a period of time to make the market affordable again, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says. The average house price in Auckland has risen to nearly $1 million, or 10 times the median household income. Ms Turei said the only way to reverse that was to slowly bring prices back down to three or four times the median household income. She told Morning Report the Green Party was considering what timeframe would work without crashing the market and hurting people who already owned homes. “The only way to prevent a bust, and to protect families in the short and long term is to lay out a comprehensive plan, which means using every comprehensive tool that we’ve got so that we can slowly bring down house prices so that they’re reasonable.”

The Auckland Council’s chief economist had suggested bringing prices down to five times the median household income by 2030, she said. Labour leader Andrew Little said Ms Turei’s declaration that Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced was irresponsible. There was no way a Labour-led government would consider the idea, he said. “We have a very clear plan. It’s not about crashing house prices. It’s about stabilising prices. “We don’t want to cause undue economic harm to those who – in good faith – have bought homes, entered into mortgages. That’s not a responsible approach.”

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“Last month, Spain’s interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, and the head of Catalonia’s anti-fraud office, Daniel de Alfonso, were apparently recorded discussing possible investigations that could be launched against pro-independence politicians in the region.”

Catalonia Tells Spain It Will Push For Secession With Or Without Assent (G.)

The Catalan government has intensified its war of words with Spain by vowing to use its democratic mandate to forge a separate Catalan state with or without the approval of Madrid. Catalonia is preparing to defy Spain’s constitutional court this week by debating the conclusions of a working group on sovereignty, nine months after the Catalan parliament put forward a resolution calling for the “beginning of a process of the creation of an independent Catalan state”. Carme Forcadell, the president of the parliament, and Raül Romeva, the minister of foreign affairs, told the Guardian enduring hostility from Madrid had left Catalonia with no choice but to press ahead with the independence agenda.

“The [Spanish state] has left us feeling that we just don’t have an alternative,” Romeva said. “We have always said that we would have preferred a Scottish-type scenario, where we could negotiate with the state and hold a coordinated and democratic referendum. We keep talking to Madrid, but all we get back from them is an echo.” Forcadell pointed to a recent scandal as evidence of the Spanish government’s attitude towards Catalonia. Last month, Spain’s interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, and the head of Catalonia’s anti-fraud office, Daniel de Alfonso, were apparently recorded discussing possible investigations that could be launched against pro-independence politicians in the region.

Forcadell said she was incredulous at the idea that the acting Spanish government, led by Mariano Rajoy, could simply brush aside the alleged incident and say nothing was going on. “How can they say that when the interior minister, who’s meant to defend the interests of all citizens, is caught conspiring to find evidence against citizens solely because they think differently? How can absolutely nothing come of that? We don’t understand it,” she said.

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The power of words.

We Love To Talk Of Terror (Robert Fisk)

The frightful and bloody hours of Friday night and Saturday morning in Munich and Kabul – despite the 3,000 miles that separate the two cities – provided a highly instructive lesson in the semantics of horror and hypocrisy. I despair of that generic old hate-word, “terror”. It long ago became the punctuation mark and signature tune of every facile politician, policeman, journalist and think tank crank in the world. Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. Or terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, terrorist. But from time to time, we trip up on this killer cliché, just as we did at the weekend. Here’s how it went. When first we heard that three armed men had gone on a “shooting spree” in Munich, the German cops and the lads and lassies of the BBC, CNN and Fox News fingered the “terror” lever.

The Munich constabulary, we were informed, feared this was a “terrorist act”. The local police, the BBC told us, were engaged in an “anti-terror manhunt”. And we knew what that meant: the three men were believed to be Muslims and therefore “terrorists”, and thus suspected of being members of (or at least inspired by) Isis. Then it turned out that the three men were in fact only one man – a man who was obsessed with mass killing. He was born in Germany (albeit partly Iranian in origin). And all of a sudden, in every British media and on CNN, the “anti-terror manhunt” became a hunt for a lone “shooter”. One UK newspaper used the word “shooter” 14 times in a few paragraphs.

Somehow, “shooter” doesn’t sound as dangerous as “terrorist”, though the effect of his actions was most assuredly the same. “Shooter” is a code word. It meant: this particular mass killer is not a Muslim. [..] It all comes down to the same thing in the end. If Muslims attack us, they are terrorists. If non-Muslims attack us, they are shooters. If Muslims attack other Muslims, they are attackers. Scissor out this paragraph and keep it beside you when the killers next let loose – and you’ll be able to work out who the bad guys are before the cops tell you.

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More power of words.

The Power of “Nyet” (Dmitry Orlov)

The way things are supposed to work on this planet is like this: in the United States, the power structures (public and private) decide what they want the rest of the world to do. They communicate their wishes through official and unofficial channels, expecting automatic cooperation. If cooperation is not immediately forthcoming, they apply political, financial and economic pressure. If that still doesn’t produce the intended effect, they attempt regime change through a color revolution or a military coup, or organize and finance an insurgency leading to terrorist attacks and civil war in the recalcitrant nation. If that still doesn’t work, they bomb the country back to the stone age. This is the way it worked in the 1990s and the 2000s, but as of late a new dynamic has emerged.

In the beginning it was centered on Russia, but the phenomenon has since spread around the world and is about to engulf the United States itself. It works like this: the United States decides what it wants Russia to do and communicates its wishes, expecting automatic cooperation. Russia says “Nyet.” The United States then runs through all of the above steps up to but not including the bombing campaign, from which it is deterred by Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The answer remains “Nyet.” One could perhaps imagine that some smart person within the US power structure would pipe up and say: “Based on the evidence before us, dictating our terms to Russia doesn’t work; let’s try negotiating with Russia in good faith as equals.”

And then everybody else would slap their heads and say, “Wow! That’s brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that?” But instead that person would be fired that very same day because, you see, American global hegemony is nonnegotiable. And so what happens instead is that the Americans act baffled, regroup and try again, making for quite an amusing spectacle.

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But it’s a billion-dollar industry!

Leading Insecticide Cuts Bee Sperm By 40%, Lifespan By A Third (G.)

The world’s most widely used insecticide is an inadvertent contraceptive for bees, cutting live sperm in males by almost 40%, according to research. The study also showed the neonicotinoid pesticides cut the lifespan of the drones by a third. The scientists say the discovery provides one possible explanation for the increasing deaths of honeybees in recent years, as well as for the general decline of wild insect pollinators throughout the northern hemisphere. Bees and other insects are vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in significant decline, due to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and pests and the use of pesticides.

Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013. The UK opposed the ban and allowed a limited “emergency” lifting of the ban in 2015, but has refused further suspensions this year. There is clear scientific evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees, but there is only a little research showing the pesticides harm the overall performance of colonies. Previous work has shown that neonicotinoids reduce the number of bumblebee queens produced and severely cuts the survival and reproduction of honeybee queens. But the new research, led by Lars Straub at the University of Bern, Switzerland and published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to test how neonicotinoids affect male bee fertility.

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We’re really killing off our own family.

LUCA: The Ancestor Of All Living Things On Earth (IBT)

The planet we live on is home to an estimated 10 million species of living organisms. Hard as it may be to fathom, the immense diversity of life we see around us today – from the bacteria living in the garden soil to the majestic blue whale inhabiting the deep blue seas – all evolved from one single-celled ancestor that lived, and died, billions of years ago. In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology, researchers have described, in unprecedented detail, this Last Universal Common Ancestor, or LUCA, which was only “half alive.” This ancestor – a single-cell, bacterium-like organism – is believed to have existed roughly four billion years ago, when Earth was just over 500 million years old. LUCA, the researchers say, was the common point of origin for three great domains of life — bacteria, archaea, which are bacteria-like single-cell prokaryotes, and the eukaryotes, a domain that includes all plants and animals.


Phylogeny for LUCA’s genes: In the two-domain tree of life, eukaryotes stem from prokaryotes, so the last universal common ancestor, LUCA, is the ancestor of archaea and bacteria.

“We are seeing something for which there was previously no evidence,” co-author William Martin from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, told the Washington Post. “Just by asking the right questions of genome data, we were able to obtain some very interesting answers that also mesh well with what we know from geochemistry.” In order to get a clear picture of what LUCA was like, the researchers examined over six million protein-coding genes found in the present-day bacteria and archaea. After analyzing the DNA sequence of each gene and determining whether these genes were present in both bacteria and archaea, the researchers identified 355 gene “clusters” that were probably present in LUCA. “It was flabbergasting to us that we found as many as we did,” Martin told New Scientist.

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