Jul 152020
 


Gas prices, Roosevelt and Wabash, Chicago 1939

 

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU (SCMP)
US Base On Japan’s Okinawa Confirms 36 More Coronavirus Cases (R.)
Fundamentally Unsound (Hussman)
‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash In Children Being Born (BBC)
I Still Believe This Will Be #Ourfinesthour (Ben Hunt)
Bari Weiss: Twitter is Editing the New York Times (ZH)
Eric Weinstein Takes Flamethrower To New York Times (ZH)
Banks Stand To Make $18 Billion In PPP Processing Fees From CARES Act (IC)
Trump Ends Preferential Status For Hong Kong, China Vows Retaliation (R.)
Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations Top 350 Planes In First Half Of 2020 (R.)
Qantas Cancels All International Flights Until March 2021 (ZH)
US Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace (WS)
Judge Rejects $18.9 Million Harvey Weinstein Sex Abuse Settlement (R.)
Damage to the Soul (Craig Murray)

 

 

We seem to have stopped setting new daily records for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tapper

Sessions

 

 

And why not? Let’s make it more confusing, why don’t we? Most if not all vaccine trials are based on observing increased antibodies.

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU (SCMP)

Antibodies generated by the immune system to neutralise the novel coronavirus could cause severe harm or even kill the patient, according to a study by Dutch scientists. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a fork-shaped molecule produced by adaptive immune cells to intercept foreign invaders. Each type of IgG targets a specific type of pathogen. The IgG for Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, fights off the virus by binding with the virus’ unique spike protein to reduce its chance of infecting human cells. They usually appear a week or two after the onset of illness, when the symptoms of most critically-ill patients suddenly get worse.

A research team led by Professor Menno de Winther from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands said they might have found an important clue that may answer why the IgG appears only when patients are ill enough to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The scientists found that the blood from Covid-19 patients struggling for their life on ventilators was highly inflammatory. They observed during a series of experiments that it could trigger an overreaction of the immune system, destroy crucial barriers in tissues and cause water and blood to spill over in the lungs. When Winther and his colleagues compared the blood from Covid-19 patients to those battling other diseases in the ICU, they discovered that Covid-19 patients had a disproportionately large amount of Sars-CoV-2-specific IgG.

These antibodies “strongly amplify pro-inflammatory response”, they said in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on preprint platform bioRxiv.org on Monday. When Winther applied the pure form of these antibodies directly to healthy blood and tissue cells, nothing happened. But when combined with a giant immune cell called macrophage, which forms when the body senses an infection, the IgGs caused the macrophages to implode, releasing a large amount of inflammatory molecules known as cytokines, causing “striking” destruction, said the researchers.

[..] A Chinese government epidemiologist based in Shanghai said the Dutch paper confirmed “what we suspected for a long time”. Several studies from China have also found the destructive role played by the macrophages in severely ill patients and proposed potential drugs that could suppress the cytokine storm. But the roles of antibodies could be more complex than what have been described, according to the researcher. For instance, it remains unclear whether vaccine-induced antibodies, which are supposed to contain some highly specific neutralising IgGs, will have the same effect in the very early stage of infection.

Read more …

“36 more COVID-19 cases among U.S. military in #OccupiedOkinawa, bringing the current total to 136. This gives the U.S. military a COVID-19 rate 200 times larger than Okinawa Prefecture.”

US Base On Japan’s Okinawa Confirms 36 More Coronavirus Cases (R.)

Authorities have confirmed 36 more coronavirus infections at Camp Hansen on Japan’s Okinawa, taking to 136 the tally at U.S. military bases on the island, Kyodo News said on Wednesday. The outbreak emerged at the weekend, provoking the anger of the prefecture’s governor, who has called into question the U.S. military’s virus prevention measures.

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Small part of a seemingly endless investor piece.

Fundamentally Unsound (Hussman)

My impression is that while the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 is likely due to accessory proteins of the virus that knock down respiratory defenses, the lethality of COVID-19 (the resulting disease) is largely due to infiltration and retention of highly inflammatory blood cells into lung tissue, that then degrade, perforate, and cross through the alveolar-capillary barrier. The result is cell damage to alveoli (the air sacs that the lungs use to exchange oxygen with the blood) and to vascular linings, so that fatality is driven by the combination of oxygen deprivation and thrombosis. This is not the flu. In recent weeks, we’ve seen rapid outbreaks in Florida, Texas, and several other states, largely in the same places where protective measures like distancing and masks were disregarded. This isn’t really a “second wave.” It’s more like the start-stop profile of local outbreaks that was predictable even in February.

The only surprise is that it has involved entire states, because somehow, well-understood features of epidemiology and cell biology have become subjects of wildly ignorant political debate. Having written on the urgency of containment beginning on February 2, when the U.S. had only 5 cases and zero deaths, watching this predictable, slow motion train wreck has been excruciating. It is increasingly clear that the primary mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 is exhaled air from infected individuals. There’s some evidence that toilet bowls and hospital floors also act as reservoirs for expelled viral particles, but unless you’re regularly sticking your hands into toilet bowls or wiping them on hospital floors, the most likely way to acquire the virus is from expelled air.

The half-life of suspended (“aerosolized”) particles in a room without much ventilation is over an hour, and while some masks clearly provide better filtration than others, even cloth and bandana-type masks substantially reduce the number and distance of expelled particles. So even the crudest mask will reduce the viral load to others. A good analysis of a super-spreading event in Washington State at a Skagit Valley Chorale rehearsal concluded, “the risk of infection is modulated by ventilation conditions, occupant density, and duration of shared presence with an infectious individual.” Exactly. Yet even taking basic protective measures for oneself and others seems to be a problem. When people imagine that not wearing a mask in an indoor public place is somehow an expression of their “individual freedom,” or that it’s “hurting the economy,” they’re not only endangering everyone else – they’re also ensuring that much more stringent measures will be necessary later in order to avoid mass fatalities.

It’s exactly the weak, dismissive response – especially early on, but then encouraged almost daily – that has put U.S. fatalities ahead of every other country on Earth. Indeed, researchers at Harvard recently estimated that “Between 70% and 99% of the Americans who died from this pandemic might have been saved by measures demonstrated by others to have been feasible.” Meanwhile, across 22 countries, there’s an 80% correlation between non-wearing of masks and number of deaths-per-million. That correlation is higher than for the percentage of elderly and the percentage with high body-mass index. Containment measures are critical when and where transmission rates are high.

Read more …

A different world.

‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash In Children Being Born (BBC)

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers. Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. [..] Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century. Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from 61 million to 28 million over the same timeframe.


They are two of 23 countries – which also include Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea – expected to see their population more than halve. “That is jaw-dropping,” Prof Christopher Murray told me. China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place. The UK is predicted to peak at 75 million in 2063, and fall to 71 million by 2100.

Read more …

“We the People? We the Pack.”

I Still Believe This Will Be #Ourfinesthour (Ben Hunt)

Back in early April, I wrote this about our battle with the coronavirus: “There is no country in the world that mobilizes for war more effectively than the United States. And I know you won’t believe me, but I tell you it is true: This will be #OurFinestHour.” Since then, our leaders have totally botched the Covid-19 war-fighting effort. I mean our leaders at every level of government and of every political stripe, and I mean that it has been spectacularly botched. Covid-19 is now endemic within the United States, meaning that it is neither effectively contained nor effectively mitigated. Meaning that it is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Meaning that tens of thousands of Americans get sick with this disease every day, and between 500 and 1,000 Americans die. Every day.

It didn’t have to be this way. As I write this note, Germany – a large country with a federal political system and the 4th largest economy in the world – is reporting two Covid-19 deaths today. Two. Japan – an even larger country and even larger economy – is reporting one Covid-19 death today. One. But here’s the thing. Yes, our political leaders have been a horror show. God knows I’ve been railing about them for months. But there’s another awful truth at work here. We the people have failed our nation more than the politicians. In fact, I honestly don’t believe we still have a nation. We have a country, of course, but that’s just an administrative thing … here are the borders, here is your social security number, here are the rules for how we do things.

A nation is both less than a country and much, much more. A nation is the meaning of a country. A nation is the embodiment of We the People. It’s not that I think being an American has no meaning. It has a lot of meaning to me. It has a lot of meaning to many people. It has some meaning to almost everyone. It’s that being an American no longer has a shared meaning. [..] I knew that high-functioning sociopath politicians would continue to do their high-functioning sociopath thing, where with one hand they pump out culture-porn telling us that what really matters is our attitude towards Goya beans or Columbus statues, and with the other hand they pump out TRILLIONS of dollars into a money-laundering scheme we like to call “monetary policy”. All while MILLIONS of Americans are getting sick and MILLIONS of Americans are out of a job and TENS OF THOUSANDS of Americans are dead. I just never thought we would embrace this evil – and that’s what it is – in our heart of hearts.

Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

That’s from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. I know he’s been canceled, but I don’t care. I think he’s great.

Read more …

I don’t read the New York Times, and don’t know Bari Weiss. From what I see, I don’t believe Weiss is the finest person on the planet. But she confirms why I don’t read the NYT. In early 2016 I noticed them posting 10 mostly flimsy anti-Trump pieces a day, and I thought: I don’t like Trump, but I don’t need you to make up my mind for me, and that’s what you want to do. Question though: why did it take her another 4.5 years?

Bari Weiss: Twitter is Editing the New York Times (ZH)

The internal schism at the New York Times has claimed yet another staffer, as opinion editor Bari Weiss has left the paper and penned a scorching resignation letter denouncing the Times as nothing more than an echo chamber for ‘woke’ activists masquerading as journalists who believe dissent has no place on the platform. “But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”. -Bari Weiss

As a refresher, the Times newsroom erupted in chaos following the decision to publish an Op-Ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), in which he suggested that the Trump administration should deploy the military to quell violent race-riots gripping the country following the death of a black suspect while in custody of Minneapolis police. An internal schism formed within the Times, with younger ‘woke’ staffers insisting that such ‘wrongthink’ has no place on the platform, while others defended the decision to publish Cotton’s divergent opinion. In the end, the woke mob won; the Times added an editor’s note conveying regret for publishing it – which was accompanied by the resignation of editorial page editor James Bennett (who Weiss writes ‘led the effort’ to reform the paper after the 2016 election).

Which brings us back to Bari Weiss, who came under intense fire by her NYT colleagues after she laid out what was going on in the newsroom in a Twitter thread, which ultimately defended the decision to publish Cotton’s op-ed. In her Tuesday resignation letter, Weiss excoriated the Times. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.” -Bari Weiss

Weiss described the Times as a hostile work environment, and slammed the paper for allowing “this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public.” “Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery,” Weiss writes, adding “But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times.” “Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.”

Read more …

“That is obviously true but I’m sorry we can’t say that here. It will get me strung up.”

Eric Weinstein Takes Flamethrower To New York Times (ZH)

Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital and host of The Portal podcast, has gone scorched earth on the New York Times following the Tuesday resignation of journalist Bari Weiss. Weinstein describes how The Times has morphed into an activist rag – refusing to cover “news” unpaletable to their narrative, while ignoring key questions such as whether Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring was “intelligence related.”

“At that moment Bari Weiss became all that was left of the “Paper of Record.” Why? Because the existence of Black Racists with the power to hunt professors with Baseball Bats and even redefine the word ‘racism’ to make their story impossible to cover ran totally counter-narrative. At some point after 2011, the NYT gradually stopped covering the News and became the News instead. And Bari has been fighting internally from the opinion section to re-establish Journalism inside tbe the NYT. A total reversal of the Chinese Wall that separates news from opinion. This is the paper in 2016 that couldnt be interested in the story that millions of Americans were likely lying to pollsters about Donald Trump. The paper refusing to ask the CIA/FBI if Epstein was Intelligence related.

I have had the honor of trying to support both @bariweiss at the New York Times and @BretWeinstein in their battles simply to stand alone against the internal mob mentality. It is THE story all over the country. Our courageous individuals are being hunted at work for dissenting. Before Bari resigned, I did a podcast with her. It was chilling. I‘d make an innocuous statement of simple fact and ask her about it. She‘d reply “That is obviously true but I’m sorry we can’t say that here. It will get me strung up.” That‘s when I stopped telling her to hang on. So what just happened? Let me put it bluntly: What was left of the New York Times just resigned from the New York Times. The Times canceled itself.

As a separate Hong Kong exists in name only, the New New York Times and affiliated “news” is now the chief threat to our democracy. This is the moment when the passengers who have been becoming increasingly alarmed, start to entertain a new idea: what if the people now in the cockpit are not airline pilots? Well the Twitter Activists at the @nytimes and elsewhere are not journalists. What if those calling for empathy have a specific deadness of empathy? Those calling for justice *are* the unjust? Those calling “Privilege” are the privileged? Those calling for equality seek to oppress us? Those anti-racists are open racists? The progressives seek regress? The journalists are covering up the news?

Read more …

Anyone surprised?

Banks Stand To Make $18 Billion In PPP Processing Fees From CARES Act (IC)

Banks will make out with $18 billion in fees for processing small business Paycheck Protection Program relief loans during the pandemic, according to calculations by Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive economic think tank. That’s money taken directly out of the overall $640 billion pot of funding Congress allocated to the program it created as part of the CARES Act. “If we did it through a public institution, there would be [more than] $140 billion left,” Fischer noted, as opposed to the $130 billion still up for grabs. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is releasing an analysis of the government response to the pandemic as soon as this week.

The fees compensate the banks for some of the costs that come with processing loans — call center time to handle business owners’ questions, employee hours spent on processing paperwork for both loan and forgiveness applications — and some of the risk they shoulder if any of the loans they extend end up being fraudulent. But there is no credit risk; if business owners who qualified for PPP loans later default, the Small Business Association takes the hit, not the banks. “Basically it’s free money,” Fischer said. For some banks, this money represents a hefty windfall. New Jersey-based Cross River Bank’s estimated $163 million haul would be more than double its net revenue last year. JPMorgan Chase could make $864 million.

The fact that banks are siphoning money off of the relief program is thanks to the fact that the United States had no existing public infrastructure ready to quickly get money out to struggling businesses when the pandemic hit. Fischer characterized it as “a failure of preparedness,” adding, “We should have invested in better systems.” The Small Business Association, which is running the PPP program, has long been criticized for struggling to process emergency relief quickly during past natural disasters. So when the time came to respond to the coronavirus crisis as fast as possible, the SBA was in no position to do it itself, and Congress mandated that the loans be run through banks instead. There weren’t many other options. “It’s hard to build the plane while you’re flying it,” Fischer said.

Read more …

Preferential Status for Hong Kong now equals Preferential Status for China. The US doesn’t have much choice.

It was also fun to read that the WHO team will NOT visit the Wuhan lab.

Trump Ends Preferential Status For Hong Kong, China Vows Retaliation (R.)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the former British colony, prompting Beijing to warn of retaliatory sanctions. Citing China’s decision to enact a new national security law for Hong Kong, Trump signed an executive order that he said would end the preferential economic treatment for the city. “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” he told a news conference. Acting on a Tuesday deadline, he also signed a bill approved by the U.S. Congress to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the new security law.


“Today I signed legislation, and an executive order to hold China accountable for its aggressive actions against the people of Hong Kong, Trump said. “Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he added. Under the executive order, U.S. property would be blocked of any person determined to be responsible for or complicit in “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Hong Kong,” according to the text of the document released by the White House. It also directs officials to “revoke license exceptions for exports to Hong Kong,” and includes revoking special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.

Read more …

A 737 MAX costs $110 million a piece.

Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations Top 350 Planes In First Half Of 2020 (R.)

Boeing customers canceled orders for 355 of its 737 MAX jets in the first half of 2020, the U.S. planemaker said on Tuesday, as the damage done by the jet’s grounding and the coronavirus crisis to the airline industry continued to mount. The planemaker, which has now been striving to get its once best-selling MAX planes back in the air for more than a year after two fatal crashes led to its grounding, said airlines and leasing companies canceled another 60 orders for the jet last month. Deliveries in the first half of the year also sank by 71% to just 70 planes as customers canceled or deferred shipments due to the collapse in air travel from coronavirus-led travel restrictions.


Deliveries are financially important to planemakers because airlines pay most of the purchase price when they actually receive the aircraft. Boeing said it handed over 10 aircraft in June, up from four planes in May, and six jets in April. [..] After adjusting for jets ordered in previous years but unlikely to be delivered currently, Boeing has now lost 784 net orders this year, rising from a loss of 602 net orders as of May end.

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Since Rainman, Qantas has been known for its safety.

Qantas Cancels All International Flights Until March 2021 (ZH)

The prospects for a V-shaped recovery in airlines are looking dim. The latest indication of how slow things are getting back to normal in the industry is Australian-based Qantas Airlines pulling all of its international flights off its website this week. The airline is cancelling routes to New Zealand until September 1 and flights to other international destinations have been cancelled until March 28, 2021 – nearly another year away – according to the Daily Mail. “All international and sale flights have been removed from the website until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic,” a spokesperson for the airline said. “There are some international flights in the system but they are not currently operating.”

Flights are still available through the airline’s partner airlines like Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. But Qantas wants to prevent new bookings from being made on its own airline. Flights that have already been booked will proceed as planned. The move comes weeks after the airline cut 6,000 jobs, representing 20% of its workforce. The company’s CEO has also predicted that international flights wouldn’t resume until July 2021. “We have never experienced anything like this before – no-one has. All airlines are in the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced,” he said last month. “Revenues have collapsed, entire fleets are grounded and the world biggest carriers are taking extreme action just to survive.”

The decision to halt international flights comes after the airline’s decision to also ground its double decker A380 planes for at least three years and to retire six Boeing 747s. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in June that Australia’s borders would probably remain closed for another 4 months.

Read more …

US housing is under serious threat. That’s a serious theat to the entire banking system. Which will be bailed out.

US Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace (WS)

OK, it’s actually worse. Mortgages that are in forbearance and have not missed a payment before going into forbearance don’t count as delinquent. They’re reported as “current.” And 8.2% of all mortgages in the US – or 4.1 million loans – are currently in forbearance, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But if they did not miss a payment before entering forbearance, they don’t count in the suddenly spiking delinquency data. The onslaught of delinquencies came suddenly in April, according to CoreLogic, a property data and analytics company (owner of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index), which released its monthly Loan Performance Insights today. And it came after 27 months in a row of declining delinquency rates. These delinquency rates move in stages – and the early stages are now getting hit:

Transition from “Current” to 30-days past due: In April, the share of all mortgages that were past due, but less than 30 days, soared to 3.4% of all mortgages, the highest in the data going back to 1999. This was up from 0.7% in April last year. During the Housing Bust, this rate peaked in November 2008 at 2%: From 30 to 59 days past due: The rate of these early delinquencies soared to 4.2% of all mortgages, the highest in the data going back to 1999. This was up from 1.7% in April last year. From 60 to 89 days past due: As of April, this stage had not yet been impacted, with the rate remaining relatively low at 0.7% (up from 0.6% in April last year). This stage will jump in the report to be released a month from now when today’s 30-to-59-day delinquencies, that haven’t been cured by then, move into this stage.


Serious delinquencies, 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure: As of April, this stage had not been impacted, and the rate ticked down to 1.2% (from 1.3% in April a year ago). We should see the rate rise in two months and further out. Overall delinquency rate, 30-plus days, jumped to 6.1%, up from 3.6% in April last year. This was the highest overall delinquency rate since January 2016 (on the way down). These delinquency rates are the first real impact seen on the housing market by the worst employment crisis in a lifetime, with over 32 million people claiming state or federal unemployment benefits. There is no way – despite rumors to the contrary – that a housing market sails unscathed through that kind of employment crisis.

Read more …

How sick is that US “justice system”? “..it would leave Weinstein’s victims with typical awards of just US$10,000 to US$20,000, while setting aside US$15.2 million for defence costs..”

Judge Rejects $18.9 Million Harvey Weinstein Sex Abuse Settlement (R.)

A US judge on Tuesday rejected a proposed US$18.9 million civil settlement for women who claimed they were subjected to sexual abuse and workplace harassment by the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan said the preliminary settlement would be unfair to women who Weinstein raped or sexually abused, because it treated them no different from women who had merely met him. He also criticised a plan to set aside money to help Weinstein and the board of his former studio pay defence costs. “The idea that Harvey Weinstein could get a defence fund ahead of the plaintiffs is obnoxious,” Hellerstein said at a hearing.


A settlement would have resolved class-action litigation by Weinstein accusers, and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit accusing Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein and their bankrupt Weinstein Co of maintaining a hostile work environment. Elizabeth Fegan, a lawyer representing nine Weinstein accusers, had argued that “all of the women were in the zone of danger” created by Weinstein, justifying class-action treatment. [..] James’ office will review the decision. “Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue,” a spokeswoman said. The settlement drew objections from women who said it would leave Weinstein’s victims with typical awards of just US$10,000 to US$20,000, while setting aside US$15.2 million for defence costs. Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer representing six objectors, said he was pleased Hellerstein “swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal.”

Read more …

Talk about a sick justice system.

The format of Craig’s article is a bit hard to rhyme with that of the Debt Rattle. I tried. Do read the whole thing.

‘To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.’

Damage to the Soul (Craig Murray)

In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited. The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. [..] this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting a a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.

Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on 22 December 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over US $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Julian Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer. There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass. The FBI have had Thordarson’s “Evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19th 2019.


That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA. [..] Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any US prosecution.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 212019
 
 November 21, 2019  Posted by at 1:49 pm Finance, Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Salvador Dali Figure at a window 1925

 

Below is a private email I received a few days ago from an Automatic Earth reader and that I would like to share with you.

Watching (some of) the impeachment inquiry this week and last, I again get the same feeling I’ve had for some 4 years now, which is something we all know -metaphorically- from the Godfather.

The Democrats and the Republicans are like two -of the five- families, let’s say the Barzini family and the Tattaglia family (we’ll leave the Corleones be), which are both utterly corrupted and lethal predators, and I wouldn’t want to choose between them. But that’s not made easy.

In this metaphor, the Tattaglia family appears to have both the intelligence services and 95% of the media on their side, which keep telling their readers and viewers that the Barzini family are much worse than the Tattaglia family. That’s what I see when I look at the impeachment inquiry, and the comments in the press surrounding it: they all, the Democrats, the media and the FBI/CIA et al, are trying to convince everyone that Don Barzini is the anti-christ and the Tattaglia family are fine upstanding Americans.

What I have been doing over the past years is to try and restore some balance to that picture. But I still get -perhaps not surprisingly- accused of being a right-wing Trump supporter. Because you’re either with us or with them. And 95% of the press is apparently still not enough; they want me to join in as well.

And yes, maybe I’m stupid, maybe you shouldn’t try to go against such an overwhelming majority of the press. But at the same time, the picture they paint makes no sense to me. And besides, I want the press to give me news, facts, not try to make up my mind for me. I would like to do that myself.

But that’s where the biggest change has occurred. In the past, you could read articles in the New York Times, Guardian or WaPo, and watch CNN, and come away with the impression that you had been provided with news. Today, you no longer can, because all of it is seeped in propaganda.

Still, that’s how the press make their money these days. As I wrote quite some time ago, Trump Sells Better Than Sex. Writing and saying bad things about him is their meal ticket. For four years and change they’ve been insisting that the next story would be the bombshell (talk about a deflated word) that would sink Trump, that it would be The BIG ONE, as I wrote yesterday. And sure enough, all their comments on Gordon Sondland’s testimony yesterday say it again.

This has nothing to do with my opinion of Donald Trump (and perhaps not even theirs), it’s about the process, and how it has changed, likely to a large extent because of the pressure exerted on the old media by internet and social media. Trump is the best thing that ever happened to the old guard’s finances. They willingly gave up on half the American population, because the other half can’t get enough of Orange Man Bad narratives. Looks like a risky gamble, but they were truly desperate. One should wonder if they really want Trump gone, because what then?

As I said, I thought I’d share that mail. The author said it’s okay. I deleted anything that could identify him. And of course I’m curious to know what you think about his words (and mine).

 

 

Hello Ilargi,

I just read Moonraker’s comment about your “right wing talking points”.

This is, once again, tiresome and ridiculous. Just as when people call you a pro-Trump, or whatever similar. Derangement syndrome, or Maoist frenzy, or headless chickens, many descriptive phrases apply to these reactions to anything with a link to common sense.

What amazes me is how unhinged the mainstream view of the world has become. And I am grateful to find a healthy measure of sanity in TAE.

Since 2014 I have been watching a major onslaught of disinformation, starting around Maidan, and later moving into overdrive with Trump. I think the man is a piece of junk, but the mainstream reaction to him has a distinct Orwellian feel (when the progressive ‘Our Values’ crowd starts singing Thank God we have NATO, the CIA, the Deep State… you know your Boeing 737 MAX is flying upside down).

The Narrative about Trump, especially here [in Canada] through our PC media class, is perfect, smooth and shiny, just like a brand new Tesla or a tale you read to your child in bed at night.

Trump may be crazy, I don’t know – but for sure our reaction to him has been erasing our sanity. This [is] both painful and entertaining to watch.

Our collective delusion about anything that matters (Trump, Russia, finance, energy, the rape of our planet, etc.) is IMO the greatest show on Earth. And it is on great display on TAE, including the remarkable Comments section. I have come to love the smell of it in the morning.

So yes Ilargi, please, keep up the good work!

 

 

Please support the Automatic Earth on Paypal and Patreon so we can continue to publish.

Top of the page, left and right sidebars. Thank you.

 

 

 

Aug 192019
 


Piet Mondriaan Self portrait 1918

 

Guardian columnist Owen Jones, a self-described left activist and socialist, was attacked in the streets of London at 2 am Saturday morning in what he himself describes as “a blatant premeditated assault” by a bunch of guys. He says he was kicked, punched, but then saved by the friends he was with, and nothing really happened to him. Or he would have taken photos and published them. Owen was fine, before and after. But his pride was not.

No pictures of black eyes or anything, but a brick load of indignation. No matter that in Britain, people are attacked all the time, certainly at that hour, in bar fights, in knife fights, people die every weekend. But for some reason Owen Jones thinks his role in this is special. That the incident happened because of his political views, and because the far right is getting more aggressive.

From Jones’s own Guardian:

 

Owen Jones Attacked Outside London Pub

The Guardian columnist and activist Owen Jones has been physically assaulted in London while celebrating his 35th birthday with friends. In an attack he called “a blatant premeditated assault”, Jones said he was kicked, punched and thrown to the ground by a group of men in the early hours of Saturday morning. He said that he and his friends went to a pub and left at 3am.

“We were about 30 metres away, saying goodbye to each other, when four men charged directly towards me: one of them karate kicked my back, threw me to the ground, started kicking me in the head and back, while my friends tried to drag them off, and were punched trying to defend me. “It was clearly a premeditated attack and I was their target. They all attacked me and only assaulted my friends when they tried to defend me.

“In the past year I’ve been repeatedly targeted in the street by far right activists, including attempts to use physical assault, and homophobic abuse. I’ve had a far-right activist taking pictures of me, and posting threatening messages and a video. “Because of this, and escalating threats of violence and death, I’ve had the police involved. My friends felt it was a matter of time until this happened. Give the context, it seems unthinkable that I was singled out for anything other than a politically motived premeditated attack.”

 

A second article in the same Guardian appeared on Sunday:

 

Owen Jones: Attackers Targeted Me For My Politics

Jones said: “I’m just a symptom of a wider phenomenon, an emboldened, increasingly violent far right.” He said he believed there had been a “dramatic escalation” in the level of threat faced by him and others in the last eight or nine months. He said far-right protesters were being radicalised by what he described as “hate preachers” in politics and in some parts of the media.

“We all know who the hate preachers are: one of them is the most powerful man on earth, the occupant of the White House. But there are also multiple politicians and people in the mainstream media who deliberately stoke tensions, who demonise minorities and who demonise the left,” he said.

[..] “The far right are trying to achieve political ends through coercion and violence, so there’s no way I’m going to change. Yes, I’ll take precautions, but I’ll be at my protests, fighting against racism, for socialism. What could I have done? Not had a birthday thing? Of course everybody should be vigilant, but I’m not going to be intimidated. I’m not changing my politics.”

 

I’m not sure (but of course I wasn’t there and I’m not in Jones’s shoes), but given the time of day, his ‘celebrity’ status and the fact that he’s openly gay, I could imagine this was not about politics. Not that that’s the crucial point in this, which is that everybody should be able to have a birthday party and be left in peace.

I must admit I smiled when I read that Jones said his attackers “charged out of the pub with military precision”, and then ostensibly failed to hurt him even a little bit. That sounds like either the most inept right wing militant unit ever, or they were all just piss drunk.

Still, calling Trump a hate preacher is also demonizing, and I do wonder why Jones feels that is appropriate while other comments are not. The Proud Boys vs Antifa ‘party’ this weekend in Portland, Oregon would seem to establish this, at least in the US, as a two-way street, but I’m not even going to try to convince both sides that there may be some blame in their camp too.

Because I think the following is much more important in the Owen Jones story. A few lines from the first article referenced above say:

 

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian and Observer, said: “We deplore the outrageous attack on Owen Jones that took place late last night. Violent assaults on journalists or activists have no place in a democratic society.”


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a message of “solidarity” to Jones. He said: “Owen believes it was politically motivated, and we know the far right is on the march in our country. “An attack on a journalist is an attack on free speech and our fundamental values.”

 

Look, neither Katharine Viner, nor Owen Jones, nor the Guardian as a company, nor Jeremy Corbyn, have any right whatsoever, none, zilch, to present themselves as defenders of journalism or journalists. The reason for that is dead simple, and it consists of only two words: Julian Assange.

Jeremy Corbyn sits in the British parliament, while Assange sits in a high-security prison designed for terrorists, and those two things should never happen at the same time, lest Corbyn loses the right to speak. Hereby lost. And pretending to be a defender of journalism while a man who has won dozens of international awards for … journalism, rots away a few miles from that same Parliament, is too ridiculous to even talk about.

Owen Jones writes for the Guardian, and knows exactly what his employer has done to Julian Assange. And he can whine about an ‘attack’ on him all he wants, but there’s a journalist who’s really under attack, life-changing, life-threatening, if not lethal, and I have never seen Jones speak up for him. So spare us the hollow talk about hate preachers. It’s your own employer and your own government who preach hate.

As for The Guardian, it has been engaged in a vile anti-Assange smear campaign for many years, perhaps culminating in, but by no means limited to, the article last November that claimed Trump’s one-time adviser Paul Manafort had visited Assange many times in the Ecuador embassy, which was thoroughly debunked but never withdrawn or corrected.

Publishing an article such as that while you know it to be a bag of lies, makes you unfit to talk about journalism, period, for the rest of your lives. Sure, many of your readers may believe in you, and in what you tell them, after you’ve fed them smear and falsehoods for so long. But even if they believe you, that still doesn’t make you a news organization, it makes you a propaganda outlet. It makes you a pitchblack stain on your profession.

 

Australian journalist Mark Davis worked with Assange and the Guardian on the publication of the Afghan war logs in 2010. He recently spoke out about those days. And added a nice little -legal- twist to the story.

 

Australian Investigative Journalist Exposes Guardian/New York Times Betrayal Of Assange

At a Sydney “Politics in the Pub” meeting on Thursday night, award-winning Australian journalist Mark Davis revealed new first-hand information exposing the extent of the betrayal of Julian Assange by the Guardian and the New York Times, and refuting the lies both publications have used to smear the WikiLeaks founder.

Davis recounted his experiences documenting Assange’s life in the first half of 2010 for programs screened on the Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Using excerpts from the documentary “Inside WikiLeaks,” the journalist explained that he was present when WikiLeaks worked closely with media partners, including the Guardian and the New York Times, in the publication of the Afghan War logs.

[..] Davis said the assertions by Guardian journalists that Assange exhibited a callous attitude towards US informants and others who may have been harmed by the publication of the document were “lies.” David Leigh and Nick Davies, senior Guardian journalists, who worked closely with Assange in the publication of the logs, have repeatedly claimed that Assange was indifferent to the consequences of the publication.

Their statements have played a key role in the attempts by the corporate media to smear Assange, and dovetail with US government claims that the 2010 publications “aided the enemy.” In reality, the US and Australian militaries have been compelled to admit that release of the Afghan war logs did not result in a single individual coming to physical harm.

Davis explained that he was present in “the bunker,” a room established by the Guardian to prepare the publication of the documents. “Nick Davies made the most recurring, repetitive statement that Julian had a cavalier attitude to life. It’s a complete lie. If there was any cavalier attitude, it was the Guardian journalists. They had disdain for the impact of this material.”

[..] Davis explained that despite the vast technical resources of the Guardian and the New York Times (NYT), it was left to Assange to personally redact the names of informants and other individuals from the war logs, less than three days before scheduled publication. Davis said Assange was compelled to work through an entire night, during which he removed some 10,000 names from the documents.

“Julian wanted to take the names out,” Davis said. “He asked for the releases to be delayed.” The request was rejected by the Guardian, “so Julian was left with the task of cleansing the documents. Julian removed 10,000 names by himself, not the Guardian.”

Davis refuted the attempts by the Guardian and the Times to downplay their central role in the publication of the leaks. He stated that the relationship between the corporate reporters and Assange was not that between journalists and their source. Rather, both outlets were intimately involved in preparing the publication of the documents.

This included, Davis said, the Guardian assigning a technical division to prepare the entire set of logs in a publishable and searchable format on the WikiLeaks website. Davis explained that even in 2010, the Guardian and the NYT had employed “subterfuge” to shield them from any legal repercussions over the publication. Despite the explosive contents of the leaks, they had both insisted that WikiLeaks should publish first.

This, Davis stated, would allow them to claim that they were not primary publishers of the material, but were merely reporting material that had been released by WikiLeaks. This was the equivalent of the publications “pushing Julian out to walk the plank,” he said. “Julian’s in jail now because of that subterfuge.”

Tellingly, Davis stated that this plan was disrupted as a result of technical issues on the WikiLeaks website. The Guardian and the Times nevertheless ran their scheduled stories, reporting on WikiLeaks’ supposed publication of the logs, despite the fact that they had not yet been placed on the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks published the documents two days after they had been reported by the corporate publications. “WikiLeaks did not publish for two days,” Davis said. The Guardian and the Times had “reported a lie. They set Julian up from the start.”

Davis’s claim potentially has significant legal implications. The espionage charges, under which the Trump administration is seeking to extradite Assange to the US and prosecute him, include among their offenses WikiLeaks’ publication of the Afghan war logs.

Davis’ timeline, however, indicates that the Guardian and the New York Times were in fact the initial and primary publishers of the material. These publications, which are pillars of the media and political establishment, are “in the frame” for the supposed offenses that the Trump administration is seeking to prosecute Assange for. As Davis bluntly declared, “If Julian’s in jail, they should be as well.”

 

I’m sure the fact that this last article was published on the World Socialist Web Site will only add to the fun, if not credibility, of it, for self-described socialist Owen Jones.

But -more- seriously, you can’t let the most decorated journalist of your time wither away in a concrete box designed for Hannibal Lecter, and at the same time preach about some threat to journalism and the freedom of speech. Because if you do, you ARE that threat.

 

 

 

 

Apr 062019
 


Raphael The school of Athens 1509-11

 

Allow me to start with a question: Has anyone seen any of the main newspapers and networks who went after Donald Trump for 3 years accusing him of colluding with “the Russians”, apologize to either Trump, or to their readers and viewers, for spreading all that fake news now that Robert Mueller said none of that stuff was real, that they all just made it up?

I’ve seen only one such apology, albeit a very good and thorough one, from Sharyl Attkisson for The Hill. But one is a very meager harvest of course. With over 500,000 articles on collusion published on the topic, as Axios said -leading to 245 million social media ‘interactions’, shouldn’t there be more apologies, if only so people can hold on to their faith in US media for a while longer?

 

Apologies to President Trump

With the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe now known to a significant degree, it seems apologies are in order. However, judging by the recent past, apologies are not likely forthcoming from the responsible parties. In this context, it matters not whether one is a supporter or a critic of President Trump. Whatever his supposed flaws, the rampant accusations and speculation that shrouded Trump’s presidency, even before it began, ultimately have proven unfounded. Just as Trump said all along. Yet, each time Trump said so, some of us in the media lampooned him.

We treated any words he spoke in his own defense as if they were automatically to be disbelieved because he had uttered them. Some even declared his words to be “lies,” although they had no evidence to back up their claims.We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence. We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”

As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment. And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered. So, a round of apologies seem in order.

 

It’s a shame Attkisson refrains from labeling the whole decrepit circus as “fake news”, even if she says it’s just that, in different words. It’s a shame because the term “fake news” can this way remain connected to Trump, something the mainstream media really like. Because it allows for the media to cast doubts on the Mueller report, and for the Democrats to cast doubt on AG Bill Barr.

But they, the MSM, CNN and the NYT, are the ones who, as Robert Mueller has proven, have been spreading fake news all that time, not Trump. And if you would suggest they apologize, they’ll tell you that you’re too early, wait for the report to be released, or that Bill Barr is holding tons of stuff back, or that Mueller didn’t have access to elementary info, or that Trump is a really bad person or or or.

Their reputations would be lost forever if they issue a mea culpa, and apologizing constitutes a mea culpa, so that’s not going to happen. And they all think their credibility remains sound and alive, because they live in echo chambers where they don’t have to listen to anyone prepared to cast any doubt on their credibility.

I first said it years ago: in the new -digital, social- media age, the mainstream media have only one chance of survival: report the naked truth, and be relentless about that. There are a billion voices who can write up rumors, slander, smear and other falsities, but none have the organizations to find out the truth.

Well, it looks like they gave up on that one chance. Russiagate has made it crystal clear that the MSM would rather make a quick buck than investigate, that money and political views trump veracity any day where they operate. So stick a fork in them and turn them over; they’re done.

 

April 1 was the perfect moment to add it all up, and the Babylon Bee did exactly that:

 

CNN Publishes Real News Story For April Fools’ Day

Fooling thousands of readers in a prank that the cable news organization said was “just for fun,” CNN published a real news story for April Fools’ Day this year. The story simply contained a list of facts, with no embellishment, editorializing, or invented details. The story also didn’t cite shaky “anonymous sources” and only quoted firsthand witnesses to the event. It was completely factual without any errors whatsoever. Baffled CNN fans immediately knew something was up.


“I was reading this story, and I was like, ‘Wait, what is this?'” said one man in New York who relies on CNN for his fake news every morning. “They really got me good. Then I looked up at the calendar and I realized I’d been duped. A classic gag!” “Those little rascals!” he added, shaking his head and laughing goodnaturedly. “As long as they return to their regularly scheduled fake news tomorrow, we’re good. We’re good.”

 

We could stop right there. What’s to add? It sums up America to the core. Then again, perhaps not quite yet. How about we add this from the BBC?

 

Is Facebook Winning The Fake News War?

For the people contracted by Facebook to clamp down on fake news and misinformation, doubt hangs over them every day. Is it working? “Are we changing minds?” wondered one fact-checker, based in Latin America, speaking to the BBC. “Is it having an impact? Is our work being read? I don’t think it is hard to keep track of this. But it’s not a priority for Facebook. “We want to understand better what we are doing, but we aren’t able to.”


[..] While there are efforts from fact-checking organisations to debunk dangerous rumours within the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook has yet to provide a tool – though it is experimenting with some ideas to help users report concerns.

 

Right, Facebook Fights Fake News. Right. 533,074 web articles on Trump-Russia collusion pre-Mueller report according to Axios, and 245 million ‘interactions’ -including likes, comments and shares- on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s say 100 million on Facebook.

How much did they catch as fake news in their valiant efforts? Not “the Russians” spreading fake news, but the New York Times? How about none? How many times did Facebook shut down the New York Times? Rachel Maddow? None. But Robert Mueller says all those articles about collusion were fake news.

Those reputations are gone forever. Nobody serious will ever again believe anything these people say. Oh, their own subscribers will, but they don’t count as serious people. They swallowed all the nonsense for all of that time. Get real.

 

Talking about reputations: I decided to try and follow the trails of the Steele dossier earlier, because I think if you figure out the road that dossier has traveled, who has been pushing it etc., you can get a long way towards finding out how how Russiagate came about.

I turned to Wikipedia first, where “Steele dossier” automatically becomes “Trump-Russia dossier”. I read the intro, and it was already so clear where Wikipedia stands on this: not on Trump’s side. Impartiality does not count as a virtue there either. And I know that this stuff is written by third parties, but does Jimmy Wales really want to devalue his life’s work for party politics?

Right below the intro of the very long entry, a familiar name pops up: Luke Harding, and I’m thinking HAHAHAHA!

Luke Harding, after making a mint with his book Collusion, which Robert Mueller has singlehandedly moved into the Fiction section of the bookstore, and co-writing Manafort Held Secret Talks With Assange In Ecuadorian Embassy last November, which Mueller fully discredited, is presented as a source for an entry about collusion? Oh boy.

A few paragraphs down I come upon the name Victoria Nuland, and again of course I think HAHAHAHA, what kind of source is she? Nuland became notorious for colluding with John McCain on Maidan Square in Kiyv, and she has less credibility than Harding, if such a thing is possible. A Nuland quote from the Wikipedia article:

 

“In the middle of July [2016], when he [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, ‘This is not in our purview’.” “This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.”

The entry continues:

 

It has remained unclear as to who exactly at the FBI was aware of Steele’s report through July and August, and what was done with it, but they did not immediately request additional material until late August or early September, when the FBI asked Steele for “all information in his possession and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos — some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. After that point, he continued to share information with the FBI.”[57][56]

According to Nancy LeTourneau, political writer for the Washington Monthly, the report “was languishing in the FBI’s New York field office” for two months, and “was finally sent to the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.”, in September 2016.[65]

Meanwhile, in the July to September time frame, according to The Washington Post, CIA Director John Brennan had started an investigation with a secret task force “composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI”. At the same time, he was busy creating his own dossier of material documenting that “Russia was not only attempting to interfere in the 2016 election, they were doing so in order to elect Donald Trump … [T]he entire intelligence community was on alert about this situation at least two months before [the dossier] became part of the investigation.”

 

Ergo: the fully deranged Nuland, then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, gets the dossier to the FBI, where nothing happens with it despite Nuland’s insistence that it shows terrible things going on, until someone (McCain?!) gets it to Brennan, and then the ball gets rolling.

There’s all these people in the Hillary sphere of influence who pick it up, in the media, the House, and the FBI and CIA. Because the campaign decides a story about prostitutes peeing on a bed where Obama once slept can a be a winner, and by July 2016 a few nerves had started twitching. The entire machinery shifted into gear right then and there.

The index to the entry contains some 350 links to articles, almost all by the usual suspects and with the usual angles. It all oozes collusion. An exception is Bob Woodward in January 2017:

 

‘Garbage Document’: Woodward Says US Intel Should Apologize Over Trump Dossier

Woodward said on “Fox News Sunday” the dossier was a “garbage document” and that Trump’s point of view on the matter is being “under-reported.”Woodward said the dossier should never have been presented at an intelligence briefing and it was a mistake for U.S. intelligence officials to do so. “Trump’s right to be upset about that … Those intelligence chiefs, who were the best we’ve had, who were terrific and have done great work, made a mistake here.


And when people make mistakes, they should apologize,” said Woodward. Meantime, Woodward’s former partner in reporting on the Watergate scandal, helped report the news about the dossier on CNN last week. Carl Bernstein defended the reporting on the dossier, dismissing Trump’s contention that it was “fake news.” Bernstein argued that U.S. intelligence saw fit to present the material to President Obama and President-elect Trump.

 

“Mistakes” by the intelligence chiefs? Hard to believe, if you’ve followed Brennan, Clapper, Comey in the past 2 years.

Not sure I’m going to finish reading that Wikipedia entry on the Steele dossier. What’s the point? It’s fantasy advertized as fact in order to make money. It’s misleading, it’s fake and it seeks to damage people. It would appear we’d be better off discussing what fake news is (and what is not), and to not stick the label to everything Trump says, or the $50 million spent on the Mueller probe will have been entirely wasted.

What we can learn from it is that we can no longer trust the media we once had confidence in. Those days are gone and they won’t be back. They’ve been lying for a long time for their 30 pieces of silver, and once your credibility is gone, it’s gone for good.

That, by the way, is why we need Julian Assange so much, because we know he doesn’t lie. But of course that little fact has also already been buried in a big pile of fake news.

Orwell would be delighted.

 

 

Jun 282017
 


Willem de Kooning Police Gazette 1955

 

The best comment on the June 13 Jeff Sessions Senate testimony, and I’m sorry I forgot who made it, was that it looked like an episode of Seinfeld. A show about nothing. Still, an awful lot of voices tried to make it look like it was something life- and game-changing. It was not. Not anymore than Comey’s testimony was, at least not in the sense that those eager to have these testimonies take place would have liked it to be.

Comey shone more of an awkward light on himself rather than on Donald Trump, by admitting that he had leaked info on a private conversation with the president he served at the time. Not quite nothing, but very little to satisfy the anti-Trump crowd. It’s just that there’s so many in that crowd, and most in denial, that you wouldn’t know it unless you paid attention.

To cut to the chase of the issue, it’s no longer possible -or at least increasingly difficult- to find coverage in the US -and European- press of anything related to either Trump or Russia that doesn’t come solidly baked in a partisan opinionated sauce.

For instance, I have a Google News page, somewhat personalized, and I haven’t been able to open it for quite some time without the top news articles focusing on Trump and/or Russia, and all the ones at the very top are invariably from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, The Hill, Politico et al.

But I am not interested in those articles. These ‘news’ outlets -and you really must ask whether using the word ‘news’ is appropriate here- dislike anything Trump and Putin so much, for some reason, that all they do is write ‘stuff’ in a 24/7 staccato beat based on innuendo and allegations, quoted from anonymous sources that may or may not actually exist.

In the case of Russia, this attitude is many years old; in the case of Trump, it dates back to him announcing his candidacy. And that’s funny, because when you think back to who else was a GOP candidate, how can you not wonder if Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush would really have been better presidents than Trump? The Trump presidency is not an indictment of the man himself, but of the entire US political system.

You only need to think back of the Republican hopefuls who got beaten in the primaries, or the Democratic candidates on the other side of the isle. There are 320 million Americans, and that was the cream of the crop? What does that say about the state of the union? That’s very much true about Trump as well: is that the best you can do?

It’s the story behind the multiple veils, the -political- policy choices of the likes of the New York Times and Washington Post, that is perhaps the most interesting part of this. Their anti-Trump stories are certainly not. They’re utterly boring repetitive propaganda material. Still, there are also reasons behind this that have little to do with politics.

With the advent of the interwebs, the MSM were always going to have a challenging time. As time passed, it became clear they were going to have to compete with 100 million other voices. And while the established media have clear advantages, it was never going to be an easy task. For one thing because unlike most of these 100 million voices, the traditional media have a lot of overhead, fixed costs etc.

They can establish their own web presence, but not much about that is obvious. Some have moved behind a paywall to manage costs, others focus on ads. But none of that really works well. Ad revenue is not enough to keep the vast machinery going, and a paywall limits readership.

Ergo, the MSM has to focus on both 1) what makes it strong, and on 2) what sets it apart from the ‘new competition’. That does seem evident, and it’s therefore surprising that they have elected to do the opposite. A choice that will inevitably hasten their demise.

I’ve long thought that the only way the MSM can survive in the age of the interwebs, for as long as they can indeed survive, is to be uncompromisingly objective, perhaps even to stay away from opinionating, period. Because all other areas, everything that is subjective, will be taken over, and often already is, by the millions who write and post their own opinions on social media.

And no-one will be able to make up their mind any longer about what’s real or not if they can’t figure out from reading between all these lines what is true or not. That is a battle the media establishment cannot win. So it’s more than a bit surprising that it is exactly that which they have elected to pin their futures on.

Media organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post have over a long time built the contacts, the revenue (for now) and the resources to do what newer media can not: that is for instance, to assign a team of good and smart researchers and/or writers to difficult topics that may take months to cover satisfactorily. It just so happens that is what their entire business model was always based on.

But they’ve thrown it away. They’ve chosen to compete with the entire world, who can all write and all have opinions, in the shadowy realm of fake news, anonymity and mud-slinging. But the opinion of a Washington Post writer, or even its editorial staff, is just another opinion. That’s not where they can stand out. That they can only do in truth-finding. And then they choose not to.

Mainstream media are not short on content, but they ARE short on news. What they do is opinion, propaganda, and that’s not what they’re there for. Both they themselves and their readers should be very worried about that. Because news gathering and dissemination is a vital function in any democratic nation. Taking it away leaves a big hole.

And they’re pouring out so much of the same stuff that even if inside the echo chamber the audience just can’t get enough of it, those on the outside get pushed ever further away. The distance between these groups of people keeps growing, and that’s not what media should be doing, let alone aim for.

There comes a point when people will say: we get it, you don’t like Trump, but we don’t need to see that repeated 100 times a day, and certainly not if you don’t provide facts to base your preferences on. Outside the echo chamber that has already happened. I haven’t read anything in the New York Times or Washington Post forever. If I can’t trust them to write facts on Trump, I can’t trust them, period.

They already have so much going against them. Sales of paper copies are under relentless pressure, because they’re a day old when they’re published, and nobody needs to wait for their news that long anymore. Another kind of pressure comes from the fact that a huge part of their subscribers are older, and the younger stay away from print.

The Hill, a smaller member of the MSM, ran a story over the weekend which said CNN, one of its “brethren in crime”, is clamping down on stories about Russia. All stories have to go through the senior editors now. CNN the next day fired 3 people over one of the many stories. How about the rest? Did they all meet those ‘rigorous editorial standards?

With that Hill piece, you think: someone’s trying to save face… But The Hill would have to come clean about its own coverage of the topic to regain any credibility. As for CNN, have you watched those guys on TV lately? They’re like a firing-squad. Henchmen don’t ask questions either.

Before I forget: Does anyone think there would have been a Special Counsel appointed if the anti-Trump echo chamber press had not incessantly came up, and still does, with new narratives about President Trump, his campaign, his advisers, his staff, and all of the above’s links to Russia? For which to this day no proof has been revealed?!

I find it hard to fathom. I even think it is possible that the feeding frenzy will cost Trump his presidency, not because of evidence but because of neverending innuendo. The frenzy has shown no signs of letting up, and it can continue because it feeds on itself.

While it’s strange that the MSM should risk their own credibility and even survival to be competing, as I said, with a 100 million other ‘sources’, a fight that it can never win, in the short term they have established a loyal echo chamber following that has even ‘miraculously’ increased their subscription numbers.

The flipside of that is they have lost half of their potential readers, but they got so many more from inside the chamber in return that the bottom line looked good. But at some point you will have to prove something, if you want to live. And very little of the ‘material’ on both Trump and Russia has turned out to actually be wearing clothes.

Then again, once you’re inside the chamber, it’s hard to leave. Which is a disgrace for America in all its facets, but there’s not easy way back out. There’s only one, and it’s more out of reach than perhaps ever before: that of the truth, which only the MSM have the resources to provide on a consistent and wide-ranging basis. But they’ve rejected the truth.

They will find out soon enough that the echo chambers are all booked full, with nutjobs and snake oil salesmen. Why they would want to be thrown in with that crowd, who knows? Sure, a quick profit can work miracles. But then you die.

The entire drama has caused an enormous impoverishment of the American media landscape. And it never had much, if anything, to do with news.

The best way to illustrate what’s really going on is probably in these graphs. The negative ‘reporting’ about Trump is off the scale (don’t miss German TV network ARD’s 98% score):

 

 

But when it comes to bombing the Middle East, all the ducks get in line. As ducks do. As behooves ducks. Even when it comes to Trump, they can’t hide their true nature.

We’re done here.