Aug 192021
 


Henri Matisse View of Nôtre Dame 1914

 

Early Covid-19 Therapy Significantly Improved Covid-19 Outcomes (SD)
Up To 100 May Already Be Infected In New Zealand Covid Outbreak (G.)
Jabbed Adults Infected With Delta ‘Can Match Virus Levels Of Unvaccinated’ (G.)
Get Ready for a Nationwide Eldercare Shortage (CTH)
Former Purdue Pharma Chair Denies Responsibility For US Opioid Crisis (AP)
How Americans View Government Restriction Of False Information (Pew)
New US Air Force Secretary Wants To “Scare” China (Antiwar)
Fire The Military And Intelligence Bigs Who Bungled Afghanistan – Now (NYP)
We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around (Taibbi)
IMF Suspends Afghanistan’s Access To Resources (Hill)
Taliban To Reap $1 Trillion Mineral Wealth (DW)

 

 

 

 

Polysaccharides may work. I think I like the illustration.

 

 

Science Direct is an Elsevier publication. We’re getting serious. The shift is slow but real.

Early Covid-19 Therapy Significantly Improved Covid-19 Outcomes (SD)

In a prospective observational study (pre-AndroCoV Trial), the use of nitazoxanide, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine demonstrated unexpected improvements in COVID-19 outcomes when compared to untreated patients. The apparent yet likely positive results raised ethical concerns on the employment of further full placebo controlled studies in early-stage COVID-19. The present analysis aimed to elucidate, through a comparative analysis with two control groups, whether full placebo-control randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on early-stage COVID-19 are still ethically acceptable. The Active group (AG) consisted of patients enrolled in the Pre-AndroCoV-Trial (n = 585). Control Group 1 (CG1) consisted of a retrospectively obtained group of untreated patients of the same population (n = 137), and Control Group 2 (CG2) resulted from a precise prediction of clinical outcomes based on a thorough and structured review of indexed articles and official statements.


Patients were matched for sex, age, comorbidities and disease severity at baseline. Compared to CG1 and CG2, AG showed reduction of 31.5–36.5% in viral shedding (p < 0.0001), 70–85% in disease duration (p < 0.0001), and 100% in respiratory complications, hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, deaths and post-COVID manifestations (p < 0.0001 for all). For every 1000 confirmed cases for COVID-19, at least 70 hospitalizations, 50 mechanical ventilations and five deaths were prevented. Benefits from the combination of early COVID-19 detection and early pharmacological approaches were consistent and overwhelming when compared to untreated groups, which, together with the well-established safety profile of the drug combinations tested in the Pre-AndroCoV Trial, precluded our study from continuing employing full placebo in early COVID-19.

[..] Drugs offered included azithromycin 500mg daily for five days for all patients, in association with one of the following: hydroxychloroquine 400mg daily for five days, nitazoxanide 500mg twice a day for six days, or ivermectin 0.2mg/kg/day in a single daily dose for three days, In addition, repurposed drugs, including dutasteride 0.5mg/day for 15 days and spironolactone 100mg twice a day for 15 days, were optionally offered. Vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, apibaxan, rivaroxaban, enoxaparin and glucocorticoids were added according to clinical judgement, the risk for thrombosis and progression of the disease to the inflammatory stage. Patients that decided to adhere to any treatment were included in the AG. All patients of AG and CG1 groups were followed longitudinally for 90 days for the occurrence of a new-onset or persistence of physical or mental manifestations.

Of the 585 subjects, all patients used azithromycin. A total of 357 patients used NIT, 159 used HCQ and 110 patients used IVE, alone with azithromycin or in combination with other drugs. Of the 357 patients that used NIT, 69 used the same in combination with HCQ, 46 used in combination with IVE, 146 used in combination with SPIRO, and 27 males used in combination with DUTA. Of the 110 patients that used IVE, 22 used in combination with HCQ, 82 used in combination with NIT, 66 used in combination with SPIRO and four males used in combination with DUTA. Of the 159 patients that used HCQ, 21 used in combination with IVE, 113 used in combination with NIT, 86 used in combination with SPIRO and seven males used in combination with DUTA.

Read more …

Not one word on how severe their cases are. Typical.

Up To 100 May Already Be Infected In New Zealand Covid Outbreak (G.)

New Zealand’s coronavirus cluster has grown to 21, with a strong link discovered to a case at the border, as the country began day two of a national lockdown. On Thursday, New Zealand reported another 11 cases of the Delta variant in the community, all in Auckland. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, also announced that children between the ages of 12-15 would now also be eligible for the vaccine, from 1 September. “My message to parents who will need to of course provide consent for the children, is that I would not have been a part of a process and approving this, unless I believed it was safe, because around that table, we are parents too, all affected by these decisions, so we take them very seriously,” she said. The first case, a 58-year-old man from Auckland, emerged on Tuesday, prompting the government to put the entire country into a level 4 lockdown – the highest level of restrictions.

Ardern said genome sequencing has linked the cluster to a returnee from Australia. A New Zealander returned from Sydney on a managed red-zone flight and tested positive for the Delta variant on 7 August before being moved to quarantine the next day. After becoming unwell, they were transferred to Middlemore hospital, on 16 August. “This is a significant development and means now we can be fairly certain how, and when, the virus entered the country, and that based on timelines, there are minimal, possibly only one, or maybe two, missing links between this returnee and cases in our current outbreak,” Ardern said. The period in which cases were in the community is relatively short, she said, adding that it was unlikely the virus was spread at the hospital because the case was transferred there just one day prior to the first positive local case being discovered.

Ardern thanked the 58-year-old man for getting tested when he did. “If it wasn’t for you getting tested when you did, this could be a much, much more difficult situation. Having said that, I know we’re all prepared for cases to get worse before they get better. There is always a pattern with these outbreaks.” The prime minister cautioned that the country would need to remain open to other possibilities, but that the new information gives officials the confidence to focus on how the virus was transmitted, with a particular focus on the isolation and quarantine facilities. “Today we believe we have uncovered the piece of the puzzle we were looking for, and that means our ability to circle the virus, lock it down and stamp it out generally has greatly improved.”

Read more …

In real life, we’ve seen levels of 4-5 times higher (get me a booster!). But the Guardian brings it to you gently.

And stupidly: “But the fact that they can have high levels of virus suggests that people who aren’t yet vaccinated may not be as protected from the Delta variant as we hoped.”

Jabbed Adults Infected With Delta ‘Can Match Virus Levels Of Unvaccinated’ (G.)

Fully vaccinated adults can harbour virus levels as high as unvaccinated people if infected with the Delta variant, according to a sweeping analysis of UK data, which supports the idea that hitting the threshold for herd immunity is unlikely. There is abundant evidence that Covid vaccines in the UK continue to offer significant protection against hospitalisations and death. But this new analysis shows that although being fully vaccinated means the risk of getting infected is lower, once infected by Delta a person can carry similar virus levels as unvaccinated people. The implications of this on transmission remain unclear, the researchers have cautioned.

“We don’t yet know how much transmission can happen from people who get Covid-19 after being vaccinated – for example, they may have high levels of virus for shorter periods of time,” said Sarah Walker, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford. “But the fact that they can have high levels of virus suggests that people who aren’t yet vaccinated may not be as protected from the Delta variant as we hoped.” Positive tests, hospitalisations and deaths linked to Covid have been rising slowly in the UK recently. In the week to 18 August, 211,238 people had a confirmed positive test result, an increase of 7.6% compared with the previous seven days. Over the same period, there have been 655 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, a rise of 7.9% versus the previous seven days.

Hospitalisations have also risen slightly, with 5,623 going into hospital with coronavirus between 8 August 2021 and 14 August 2021, a rise of 4.3% compared with the previous seven days. The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, found vaccine performance has waned against Delta versus the previously dominant Alpha variant. The analysis did not directly investigate whether the lower level of vaccine protection against Delta affected jabs’ ability to prevent severe disease. However, Dr Penny Ward, a visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, noted: “The low incidence of hospitalisation seen to date suggests that in this respect at least the vaccines are protecting individuals from developing severe Covid.”

Read more …

“.. as Biden Forces Mandatory Vaccines For Any Worker Paid by Medicare and Medicaid Money..”

Get Ready for a Nationwide Eldercare Shortage (CTH)

…As predicted, and the ‘next step’ will be colleges, universities, students and anyone receiving federal education funding, loans or grants. Today, the White House occupant announced a federal regulatory requirement that all nurses and healthcare workers who work in facilities funded by Medicaid and/or Medicare will be required to be vaccinated. Ironically Joe Biden noted that nurses, those professionally trained in healthcare systems – who understand the issues of vaccination, are at a lower vaccination rate than the less trained and educated population. “Vaccination rates among nursing home staff significantly trail the rest of the country“, Biden said; while never questioning ‘why’. As pointed out recently, a large subset of the vaccine resistant population are the most educated.


[Speech Transcript] – […] “Today, I’m announcing a new step. If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare or Medicaid, you will also be required to get vaccinated. More than 130,000 residents in nursing homes have sa- — have sadly, over the period of this virus, passed away. At the same time, vaccination rates among nursing home staff significantly trail the rest of the country.” The downstream consequence from this action will be a shortage of healthcare providers in nursing homes. This has already become an issue for hospitals coast to coast who require vaccinations of their staff. CTH has been warning about the Chicago network behind Biden and their objective. We have accurately predicted their moves, but what we cannot determine is how the larger American electorate will respond to these encroachments.

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As go the Sacklers, so goes Pfizer.

Former Purdue Pharma Chair Denies Responsibility For US Opioid Crisis (AP)

The former president and board chair of Purdue Pharma told a court Wednesday that he, his family and the company are not responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States. Richard Sackler, a member of the family who owns the company, was asked whether each bears responsibility during a federal bankruptcy hearing in White Plains, New York, over whether a judge should accept the OxyContin maker’s plan to settle thousands of lawsuits. For each, he gave a one-word answer: “No.” Richard Sackler’s denial of responsibility for the opioid crisis comes a day after another Sackler family member said the group wouldn’t accept a settlement without guarantees of immunity from further legal action.

The previous words of Richard Sackler, now 76, are at the heart of lawsuits accusing the Stamford, Connecticut-based company of an outsized role in sparking a nationwide opioid epidemic. In the 1996 event to launch sales of OxyContin, he told the company’s sales force that there would be “a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition”. Five years later, as it was apparent that the powerful prescription pain drug was being misused in some cases, he said in an email that Purdue would have to “hammer on the abusers in every way possible”, describing them as “the culprits and the problem”. For those reasons, the activists crusading against companies involved in selling opioids often see Richard Sackler – who was president of the company from 1999 to 2003, chair of its board from 2004 through 2007, and a board member from 1990 until 2018 – as a prime villain.

[..] Sackler, whose father was one of three brothers who nearly 70 years ago bought the company that later became Purdue Pharma, didn’t recall emails he wrote a decade or more ago; whether Purdue’s board approved certain sales strategies; whether a company owned by Sackler family members sold opioids in Argentina; or whether he paid any of his own money as part of a settlement with Oklahoma to which the Sackler family contributed $75m. Often, he answered questions with more questions, asking for precision. When Edmunds asked him if he knew how many people in the US had died from using opioids, Sackler asked him to specify over which time period. Edmunds did: 2005 to 2017. “I don’t know,” Sackler said. He said that he had looked at some data on deaths in the past, though. (The US Centers for Disease Control has tallied more than 500,000 deaths in the US to opioid overdose, including both prescription drugs and illicit ones such as heroin and illegally produced fentanyl, since 2000.)

Read more …

How did that country get so scary so fast?

And how can a government or Big Tech restrict false information when they are the biggest source of it? You know, just in theory …..

How Americans View Government Restriction Of False Information (Pew)

Amid rising concerns over misinformation online – including surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, especially vaccines – Americans are now a bit more open to the idea of the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online. And a majority of the public continues to favor technology companies taking such action, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Roughly half of U.S. adults (48%) now say the government should take steps to restrict false information, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content, according to the survey of 11,178 adults conducted July 26-Aug. 8, 2021. That is up from 39% in 2018. At the same time, the share of adults who say freedom of information should be protected – even if it means some misinformation is published online – has decreased from 58% to 50%.

When it comes to whether technology companies should take steps to address misinformation online, more are in agreement. A majority of adults (59%) continue to say technology companies should take steps to restrict misinformation online, even if it puts some restrictions on Americans’ ability to access and publish content. Around four-in-ten (39%) take the opposite view that protecting freedom of information should take precedence, even if it means false claims can spread. The balance of opinion on this question has changed little since 2018. Partisan divisions on the role of government in addressing online misinformation have emerged since 2018. Three years ago, around six-in-ten in each partisan coalition – 60% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents and 57% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – agreed that freedom of information should be prioritized over the government taking steps to restrict false information online.


Today, 70% of Republicans say those freedoms should be protected, even it if means some false information is published. Nearly as many Democrats (65%) instead say the government should take steps to restrict false information, even if it means limiting freedom of information. Partisan views on whether technology companies should take such steps have also grown further apart. Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (76%) now say tech companies should take steps to restrict false information online, even at the risk of limiting information freedoms. A majority of Republicans (61%) express the opposite view – that those freedoms should be protected, even if it means false information can be published online. In 2018, the parties were closer together on this question, though most Democrats still supported action by tech firms.

Read more …

Washington hasn’t processed its defeat yet.

New US Air Force Secretary Wants To “Scare” China (Antiwar)

Researching and developing new weapons technologies is a key part of the Pentagon’s strategy to counter China. In an interview with Defense News, President Biden’s new Air Force secretary said he’d like to see the US military field the type of new technologies that “scare China.” Frank Kendall, who was sworn in as Air Force secretary on July 28th, made it clear in the interview that he is focused on China. “I’ve been obsessed, if you will, with China for quite a long time now — and its military modernization, what that implies for the US and for security,” he said. Hyping up the threat of China’s military serves the Pentagon to justify more spending, and Kendall hinted that he believes the Air Force doesn’t have a sufficient budget. “The Air Force has been overly constrained,” he said.


“I think we’ve not been allowed to do things we really need to do to free up resources for things that are higher priority. We’ve had a very hard time getting the Congress to allow us to retire older aircraft.” One project that Kendall discussed is the B-21 bomber, which is currently being developed. “I think that’s going to be something that will be intimidating, it’s going to be very capable. And there are a few others like that that are coming down the pipeline. … But I think we have to be continuously thinking about other things that will be intimidating to our future enemies.” The Pentagon budget requested by President Biden prioritized spending on new weapons technology. The budget request asked for over $112 billion for research, development, testing, and evaluation, known as RDT&E. Besides new long-range bombers, US military leaders are calling for investment in technology like artificial intelligence, robotics, space and cyber capabilities, and hypersonic missiles.

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And then you will have what?

Fire The Military And Intelligence Bigs Who Bungled Afghanistan – Now (NYP)

This is the biggest foreign failure in most Americans’ lifetimes, and there needs to be an accounting. The normal course of business after government bungling nowadays is that everyone involved tut-tuts a bit, then gets a raise and a promotion, while the government goes back to business as usual. But in a sane nation, failure would be punished. To begin with, Milley must resign or be fired. And the same for our triple-masking defense secretary, Lloyd Austin. This was a failure that happened on their watch, and it happened through bad management. We could have pulled out without nearly the level of chaos, confusion and terror.

But Milley and Austin weren’t on top of their jobs. They may feel that firing is unfair, but they’d be getting off light by the standards of military history: In the 18th century, the British executed an admiral, John Byng, for failing to “do his utmost” in combat. It was harsh, but the Royal Navy became more aggressive. Likewise, the intel agencies and officers who provided the bad, er, intelligence need to go. Many others who failed, from contractors to lower-level officers and bureaucrats, need to go, too. You punish a bureaucracy by shrinking its staff and cutting its budget. That needs to happen here. The brass and agencies will complain that it was Biden who ultimately made the call. Indeed, they are already furiously leaking to that effect to the press.

Maybe they’re right. But it’s up to voters to fire the president at the ballot box. If they thought what Biden planned was disastrous, they should have resigned in protest. But they didn’t. Meanwhile, we also need a probe, with independent investigators with strong powers. That should be followed by deep structural changes in a military that hasn’t really won a war since well before I was born. Bottom line: Our military must be disciplined to win wars, rather than promote gender ideology and postmodern race theories (at home or abroad). None of this will transpire, of course. Our society is run by a technocratic-managerial class that never pays a price for failure. Democracy is a glossy finish over an unelected administrative state that isn’t really accountable to anyone and measures success or failure in terms of budgets, p.r. and power, not results.

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$300 million per day for 20 years.

We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around (Taibbi)

On MSNBC the other night, Rachel Maddow told a story about visiting Afghanistan a decade ago. She described being taken on a tour of a new neighborhood in Kabul of “narco-palaces,” what she called, “big garish, gigantic, rococo, strange-looking places” that hadn’t existed before the Americans arrived. This was said to be symbolic of the “fantastically corrupt elites” among the Afghan political class who put themselves into position to siphon off big chunks of the “billions of dollars per month” we sent into the country. Noting that, “the U.S. effort and expenditure in that country did build some stuff, roads and waterways and schools,” Maddow decried the fact that “so much of what we put in by the boatload was shoveled off by a fantastically corrupt elite.”

She showed video of Taliban conquerors lounging around in the tackily furnished homes of former Afghan officials in Kabul, pointing out that, “dictator chic is the same the world over.” In a not-so-subtle dig at Donald Trump, she added, “And they really like gold fixtures.” From Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan, the pattern of American officials showering questionable political allies abroad with armfuls of cash is a long-established practice. However, the idea that this is the reason the “missions” fail in such places is just a continuation of the original propaganda lines that get us into these messes. It’s a way of saying the subject populations are to blame for undermining our noble efforts, when the missions themselves are often preposterous and, moreover, the lion’s share of the looting is usually done by our own marauding contracting community.

It’s bad enough that Maddow/MSNBC played a big part in delaying the withdrawal last year with hype of the bogus Bountygate story, which gave one last (false) dying breath to the war rationale. This latest criticism of theirs ignores the massive amounts of corruption that were endemic to the American side of the mission. Contractors made fortunes monstrously overcharging the taxpayer for everything from private security, to dysfunctional or unnecessary construction projects, to social programs that either had no chance for success, or for which metrics for measuring success didn’t exist. The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) some years ago identified “$15.5 billion of waste, fraud, and abuse… in our published reports and closed investigations between SIGAR’s inception in 2008 and December 31, 2017,” and added an additional $3.4 billion in a subsequent review.

All told, “SIGAR reviewed approximately $63 billion and concluded that a total of approximately $19 billion or 30 percent of the amount reviewed was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.” Thirty percent! If the overall cost of the war was, as reported, $2 trillion (about $300 million per day for 20 years), a crude back of the envelope calculation for the amount lost to fraud during the entire period might be $600 billion, an awesome sum. It could even be worse than that. SIGAR for instance also looked at a $7.8 billion sum spent on buildings and vehicles from 2008 on, and reported that of that, only $343.2 million worth “were maintained in good condition.” They added that just $1.2 billion of the original expenditure was used as intended. By that metric, the majority of the monies spent in Afghanistan might simply have gone up in smoke in bogus or ineffectual contracting schemes.

Read more …

Either the IMF distances itself from the US, or it becomes irrelevant.

IMF Suspends Afghanistan’s Access To Resources (Hill)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday announced it was suspending Afghanistan’s access to its resources due to what it called a “lack of clarity” surrounding the recognition of the country’s government after the Taliban took control of the capital city of Kabul. “As is always the case, the IMF is guided by the views of the international community,” a spokesperson for the IMF said in a statement, according to Reuters. “There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access SDRs or other IMF resources.” This move by the IMF comes after the Biden administration reportedly froze Afghan government reserves held in U.S. banks, blocking the Taliban from accessing billions in funds.

“Any Central Bank assets the Afghan government have in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban,” one administration official told The Washington Post. It is currently unclear whether the Taliban will be recognized by the international community, though China has indicated that it is open to establishing formal relations, being one of the few countries that did not evacuate its embassy when the Afghan government fell. Shortly after the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if the U.S. would ever recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government. “A future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people and that doesn’t harbor terrorists is a government we can work with and recognize,” Blinken said.

“Conversely, a government that doesn’t do that, that doesn’t uphold the basic rights of its people, including women and girls, that harbors terrorist groups that have designs on the United States, our allies and partners, certainly, that’s not going to happen,” he added.

Read more …

No boycott possible. There will always be customers.

Taliban To Reap $1 Trillion Mineral Wealth (DW)

The Taliban have been handed a huge financial and geopolitical edge in relations with the world’s biggest powers as the militant group seizes control of Afghanistan for a second time. In 2010, a report by US military experts and geologists estimated that Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries, was sitting on nearly $1 trillion (€850 billion) in mineral wealth, thanks to huge iron, copper, lithium, cobalt and rare-earth deposits. In the subsequent decade, most of those resources remained untouched due to ongoing violence in the country. Meanwhile, the value of many of those minerals has skyrocketed, sparked by the global transition to green energy. A follow-up report by the Afghan government in 2017 estimated that Kabul’s new mineral wealth may be as high as $3 trillion, including fossil fuels.


Lithium, which is used in batteries for electric cars, smartphones and laptops, is facing unprecedented demand, with annual growth of 20% compared to just 5-6% a few years ago. The Pentagon memo called Afghanistan the Saudi Arabia of lithium and projected that the country’s lithium deposits could equal Bolivia’s — one of the world’s largest. Copper, too, is benefiting from the post-COVID global economic recovery — up 43% over the past year. More than a quarter of Afghanistan’s future mineral wealth could be realized by expanding copper mining activities. While the West has threatened not to work with the Taliban after it effectively seized control of Kabul over the weekend, China, Russia and Pakistan are lining up to do business with the militant group — further adding to the US and Europe’s humiliation over the fall of the country.

As the manufacturer of almost half of the world’s industrial goods, China is stoking much of the global demand for commodities. Beijing — already Afghanistan’s largest foreign investor — is seen as likely to lead the race to help the country build an efficient mining system to meet its insatiable needs for minerals. “Taliban control comes at a time when there is a supply crunch for these minerals for the foreseeable future and China needs them,” Michael Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, told DW. “China is already in position in Afghanistan to mine these minerals.”


One of the Asian powerhouse’s mining giants, the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), already has a 30-year lease to mine copper in Afghanistan’s barren Logar province. Some analysts, however, question whether the Taliban have the competence and willingness to exploit the country’s natural resources given the income they generate from the drug trade. “These resources were in the ground in the 90s too and they [the Taliban] weren’t able to extract them,” Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at the Counter Extremism Project, told DW. “One has to remain very skeptical of their ability to grow the Afghan economy or even their interest in doing so.”

Read more …

 

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Aug 182021
 
 August 18, 2021  Posted by at 9:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  137 Responses »


Salvador Dali Meditative rose 1958

 

Leaky Vaccines, Super-spreads, And Variant Acceleration (Gato Malo)
A Grim Warning From Israel: Vaccination Blunts, But Does Not Defeat Delta (SM)
Delta Spike P681R Mutation Enhances SARS-CoV-2 Fitness Over Alpha Variant (Bx)
Here’s Your (Dead) Canary (Denninger)
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Resigns Amid Skyrocketing COVID-19 Cases
The Authoritarian Takeover of Australia (Spiked)
Growing New Zealand Covid Cluster Linked To Sydney Delta Outbreak (G.)
Vaccine Mandate Protest Letter (Barnes Law)
One Of The Most Dangerous, Unpredictable Times In Modern History (BDW)
My Heart Is Broken by Biden’s Afghanistan Failure (Michael Flynn)
Biden’s Polling Takes Massive Hit Following Collapse Of Afghanistan (JTN)
Kamala Harris Is The Most Unpopular Vice President In 50 Years (DW)
Biden To Increase Food Stamp Benefits By 25%, Largest Hike In History (ZH)
US Gov’t Tells Americans In Afghanistan It ‘Can’t Guarantee’ Their Safety (DW)
Every American Stuck In Afghanistan To Receive A Mail-In Ballot (BBee)

 

 

DATA SHOWS COVID VARIANTS BEGAN AFTER VACCINATIONS STARTED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..you keep its host alive with a vaccine, then it can transmit and spread in the world. So it’s got an evolutionary future, which it didn’t have before.”

Leaky Vaccines, Super-spreads, And Variant Acceleration (Gato Malo)

The rule of evolution is simple: make a copy of me and pass it on. Any species still around to notice is very, very good at this. That’s the test and it’s as simple as it is daunting. This evolutionary selector creates pressures and these pressures shape evolution. Useful traits are conserved, traits that work against replication and propagation are selected against. This creates a simple evolutionary gradient for viruses: become more contagious, spread further, infect more hosts. Many viruses and bacteria are incredibly good at this. The good news is that harming the host is maladaptive. It’s like burning down your own house and your car with it. You soon have nowhere to live and no way to move around easily. So the selection process drives viruses away from being deadly. Ebola is a fearsome virus, but poorly evolved. It kills too quickly and spreads too slowly. That’s why outbreaks are small, rare, and (relatively) easy to manage.


People who feel sick stay home, they stop mingling and carrying the virus to where others are. It’s a built in societal and species level trait to mitigate pandemic. But what if you could break that trait? What if you could prevent a carrier from realizing it was infected? Well, then you’d spread virus far more effectively, wouldn’t you? You could do a lot of damage and the natural brake on the spread, harm, and lethality of a viral evolutionary vector would be removed. You’d supercharge a pandemic. This is a long discussed and hypothesized problem with “leaky” vaccines. A leaky vaccine is one that lacks sterilizing immunity. It prevents severe infection and perhaps death, but it does not stop infection and colonization by virus. So, the vaccinated become a carrier but remain unaware of it. This is a massive accelerator of disease spread and possibly/probably of overall fatality rates. You can see discussion here: (from 2015)

This is another example of “science we tossed out the window this year” and is exactly the sort of thing the fda should have been laser focused on from day one. “But a chicken virus that represents one of the deadliest germs in history breaks from this conventional wisdom, thanks to an inadvertent effect from a vaccine. Chickens vaccinated against Marek’s disease rarely get sick. But the vaccine does not prevent them from spreading Marek’s to unvaccinated birds. “With the hottest strains, every unvaccinated bird dies within 10 days. There is no human virus that is that hot. Ebola, for example, doesn’t kill everything in 10 days. In fact, rather than stop fowl from spreading the virus, the vaccine allows the disease to spread faster and longer than it normally would, a new study finds. The scientists now believe that this vaccine has helped this chicken virus become uniquely virulent.”

Stop for a minute and absorb what this means. By turning the vaccinated into essentially perfect carriers of virus, it transformed them into a set of plague rats to infect the rest. A disease so deadly it would burn itself out rapidly becomes one capable of endemic spread so long at there are more vaccinated carriers around. ““Previously, a hot strain was so nasty, it wiped itself out. Now, you keep its host alive with a vaccine, then it can transmit and spread in the world,” Read said. “So it’s got an evolutionary future, which it didn’t have before.”

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Even Science Mag. joins in.

“There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated..”

A Grim Warning From Israel: Vaccination Blunts, But Does Not Defeat Delta (SM)

Israel is being closely watched now because it was one of the first countries out of the gate with vaccinations in December 2020 and quickly achieved a degree of population coverage that was the envy of other nations— for a time. The nation of 9.3 million also has a robust public health infrastructure and a population wholly enrolled in HMOs that track them closely, allowing it to produce high-quality, real-world data on how well vaccines are working.

Israel’s HMOs, led by CHS and Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS), track demographics, comorbidities, and a trove of coronavirus metrics on infections, illnesses, and deaths. “We have rich individual-level data that allows us to provide real-world evidence in near–real time,” Balicer says. [..] Now, the effects of waning immunity may be beginning to show in Israelis vaccinated in early winter; a preprint published last month by scientists at MHS found that protection from COVID-19 infection during June and July dropped in proportion to the length of time since an individual was vaccinated. People vaccinated in January had a 2.26 times greater risk for a breakthrough infection than those vaccinated in April. (Potential confounders include the fact that the very oldest Israelis, with the weakest immune systems, were vaccinated first.)

At the same time, cases in the country, which were scarcely registering at the start of summer, have been doubling every week to 10 days since then, with the Delta variant responsible for most of them. They have now soared to their highest level since mid-February, with hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions beginning to follow. How much of the current surge is due to waning immunity versus the power of the Delta variant to spread like wildfire is uncertain. What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older.

“There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” says Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) who has consulted on COVID-19 for the government. “One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough.’” “The most frightening thing to the government and the Ministry of Health is the burden on hospitals,” says Dror Mevorach, who cares for COVID-19 patients at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and advises the government. At his hospital, he is lining up anesthesiologists and surgeons to spell his medical staff in case they become overwhelmed by a wave like January’s, when COVID-19 patients filled 200 beds. “The staff is exhausted,” he says, and he has restarted a weekly support group for them “to avoid some kind of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] effect.”

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The picture is getting painfully clear.

Delta Spike P681R Mutation Enhances SARS-CoV-2 Fitness Over Alpha Variant (Bx)

SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has rapidly replaced the Alpha variant around the world. The mechanism that drives this global replacement has not been defined. Here we report that Delta spike mutation P681R plays a key role in the Alpha-to-Delta variant replacement. In a replication competition assay, Delta SARS-CoV-2 efficiently outcompeted the Alpha variant in human lung epithelial cells and primary human airway tissues. Delta SARS-CoV-2 bearing the Alpha-spike glycoprotein replicated less efficiently than the wild-type Delta variant, suggesting the importance of Delta spike in enhancing viral replication. The Delta spike has accumulated mutation P681R located at a furin cleavage site that separates the spike 1 (S1) and S2 subunits.


Reverting the P681R mutation to wild-type P681 significantly reduced the replication of Delta variant, to a level lower than the Alpha variant. Mechanistically, the Delta P681R mutation enhanced the cleavage of the full-length spike to S1 and S2, leading to increased infection via cell surface entry. In contrast, the Alpha spike also has a mutation at the same amino acid (P681H), but the spike cleavage from purified Alpha virions was reduced compared to the Delta spike. Collectively, our results indicate P681R as a key mutation in enhancing Delta variant replication via increased S1/S2 cleavage. Spike mutations that potentially affect furin cleavage efficiency must be closely monitored for future variant surveillance.


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Saw the article Karl talks about, on an outlet called Wesh(?!). But “Not available in your region”.

Here’s Your (Dead) Canary (Denninger)

She said, up until two weeks ago, she was able to successfully treat every patient who contracted COVID-19. But, since then, she said seven fully vaccinated patients died from complications, such as pneumonia or stroke, caused by the virus. “They were all fully vaccinated, which was disturbing… For one, I got to the hospital, the initial report, he was doing well. 2 liters of oxygen, sitting up, good saturation rate, crashed in 72 hours and died,” Seemann said. This sort of ridiculous acceleration of disease progression is a screaming safety signal. It strongly implies, but does not prove, that the vaccine turned on the recipient and when later exposed made the progression of disease worse.

This was repeatedly demonstrated in animal testing with the original SARS virus when vaccine development was attempted. It was believed the cause of it was evaded by the current vaccines developed for Covid-19 but the only way to know for sure was to take years of testing to make certain that the ordinary mutational patterns that all viruses undergo did not result in such an outcome down the road. This is one of the many reasons it takes 10+ years to qualify a vaccine; you can’t un-take the shot, and if something like this happens and then you get infected you’re ****ed. She said the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective and there is a 4 percent chance of failure, but she still recommends it.

She has no evidence to support that these patients had an actual failure to build an effective antibody response. None. Zero. Determining that would require a fairly significant amount of lab and pathology work, which simply can’t be done that fast. These people need to be autopsied and exactly what happened determined. It won’t be done because if it is, and it turns out that they had circulating titers of binding antibodies for Covid in their system then it will be scientifically-irrefutable evidence that there are millions of Americans walking around with ticking bombs in their veins and there is nothing that can be done about it. The reason you don’t short-time vaccine studies, ever, is that THE VIRUS ALWAYS BATS LAST.

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“..despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June to tackle the crisis..”

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Resigns Amid Skyrocketing COVID-19 Cases

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned less than 18 months into his tenure Monday, becoming the country’s shortest-ruling leader after conceding that he lost majority support to govern. Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on Instagram that “the Cabinet has tendered our resignation” to the king, shortly after Muhyiddin left the palace after meeting the monarch. Deputy Sports Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal also thanked Muhyiddin for his service and leadership in a Facebook message. Muhyidddin’s departure will plunge the country into a fresh crisis amid a worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders have already begun to jostle for the top post, with his deputy Ismail Sabri rallying support to succeed Muhyiddin and keep the government intact.


His resignation comes on the back of mounting public anger over what was widely perceived as his government’s poor handling of the pandemic. Malaysia has one of the world’s highest infection rates and deaths per capita, with daily cases breaching 20,000 this month despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June to tackle the crisis. Local media said the national police chief, the Election Commission chairman and the attorney-general were also summoned to the palace Monday before Muhyiddin arrived. Muhyiddin, who chaired a Cabinet meeting at his office earlier Monday, waved at reporters at the palace gate and left 40 minutes later.

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“Some of us thought: who the bloody hell is this sheila? Not only had I never heard of her, I hadn’t listened to anything anyone like her had said since I’d been kicked out of high school.”

The Authoritarian Takeover of Australia (Spiked)

People who once thought they’d won the lottery of life by being born in Australia now wake in fright every day to the sudden realisation that they are living in a 21st-century penal colony. The country they once loved has been replaced by something they barely recognise. The restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic are just the start of it. People have been confined to their houses, prevented from going to school or work, denied the freedom to cross state borders even to see a dying relative, and coerced to take a vaccine in order hopefully to regain the freedoms that were once their birthright. Worse, these restrictions are being imposed by authoritarians who have seemingly come from nowhere and now dominate all of Australia’s positions of power, from the government to big business.

These people are unlike any ruling elite Australia has ever known. There were, to be sure, harsh authoritarians in middle levels of power during the nation’s initial 19th-century incarnation as a penal colony, especially at Port Arthur and Norfolk Island. But they never actually ran Australia. [..] Australians have, like the original settlers, never felt the need to explain the ideas on which their nation was founded. They have simply believed their version of Enlightenment truths to be self-evident in the standard of living they enjoyed and the audacious disrespect they showed for other, older cultures. I grew up in a country where such confidence was ubiquitous. A lack of academic achievement was never an impediment as long as you worked hard. Obstacles that were insurmountable to people from other countries were mere challenges to us. And we approached it all with a fatalistic humour that seemed all our own.

New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant became world famous recently when a video of her went viral. In it, she said, in the patronising tone of a school matron: ‘It is human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly. Unfortunately, this is not the time to do that. So even if you run into your nextdoor neighbour, in the shopping centre, at Coles, Woolworths or Aldi or any other grocery shop, don’t start up a conversation.’ Some of us thought: who the bloody hell is this sheila? Not only had I never heard of her, I hadn’t listened to anything anyone like her had said since I’d been kicked out of high school. My robust upbringing among ratbags and larrikins in the Australian suburbs had instilled in me an instinctive and entirely rational distrust of anyone who, like her, placed an undue significance on obedience above personal freedom and responsibility. My life has been, and continues to be, all the better for it.

New South Wales residents were surprised to learn they had been paying Chant’s wages since she joined the public service in 1991. Like many of her fellow neo-authoritarians, she had spent her entire career cloistered away from the freely enterprising general population, biding her time until the opportunity arose to exercise the powers none of us knew she had. Now she and her type are all around us, telling us what to do every minute of the day. She is emblematic of Australia’s new elite, from the cops who told me to ‘move on’ when I was enjoying the sunshine by myself at Bondi Beach recently, to prime minister Scott Morrison, who peppers his updates on the latest panicking policies with reminders that ‘we are all in this together’. No, we’re not.

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Weirdest thing is they stopped vaccinations. Don’t really believe in those, I guess?

But also, what is the idea here? That they can have zero cases? And then? Lock the door?

Growing New Zealand Covid Cluster Linked To Sydney Delta Outbreak (G.)

New Zealand’s coronavirus cluster has grown to 10, with genomic sequencing linking it to the Delta outbreak that began in Sydney, as the country woke up to day one of a snap lockdown stemming from just one case. The prime minister’s office confirmed three new cases on Wednesday evening. The Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, told broadcaster RNZ “we’re seeing more cases coming through, I don’t have details of those cases. But yes, I can confirm that we have further positive test results since the press conference today.” He expected more cases to emerge overnight. The country went into a snap level four lockdown – the highest level of restrictions – on Tuesday night, after detecting one case with no obvious links to the border.

New Zealand has not had a level four lockdown in more than a year, and the case is the country’s first instance of Delta transmission in the community. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, warned on Wednesday that there would be more cases given the activity of those infected and that a link to the border had yet to be established, adding “there is more to be done to help piece together this puzzle”. “Our ability to narrow down that this is a case that is linked to New South Wales outbreak, gives us a lot of leads to chase down as quickly as we can,” she said. The seven community cases are all linked to the 58-year-old man who tested positive on Tuesday. One person is a fully vaccinated nurse at Auckland city hospital and another is a teacher at an Auckland high school.

[..] The vaccine rollout will also continue from Thursday morning, after momentarily being paused. The country’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has faced scrutiny. As of Monday, 22.9% of the population had been fully vaccinated, with 40% having had at least one dose. The numbers are lower for fully vaccinated Maori (14%) and Pasifika (20%) populations, and New Zealand has the lowest vaccination rate in the OECD, according to the World Health Organization.

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Attorney f @barnes_law i has put together a warning letter for people to use (free of charge) when their employers force them into getting the jab.

Vaccine Mandate Protest Letter (Barnes Law)

No authorship claim or copyright asserted…this letter just came to me in a bottle, and I have no idea who might have penned it, nor can I possibly vouch for it, and what you fine folks do with it is entirely in your own hands, as the Gentlemen of the Bar remind me I can proffer no general legal advice in the matter, and must officially disclaim proffering any such advice here…edit and excise as you see fit, amend and append as you desire, and claim authorship or anonymity as may best befit you…as always, as you wish…

Dear Boss,

Compelling any employee to take any current Covid-19 vaccine violates federal and state law, and subjects the employer to substantial liability risk, including liability for any injury the employee may suffer from the vaccine. Many employers have reconsidered issuing such a mandate after more fruitful review with legal counsel, insurance providers, and public opinio n advisors of the desires of employees and the consuming public. Even the Kaiser Foundation warned of the legal risk in this respect. (https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/key-questions-about-covid-19-vaccine-mandates/)

Three key concerns: first, while the vaccine remains unapproved by the FDA and authorized only for emergency use, federal law forbids mandating it, in accordance with the Nuremberg Code of 1947; second, the Americans with Disabilities Act proscribes, punishes and penalizes employers who invasively inquire into their employees’ medical status and then treat those employees differently based on their medical status, as the many AIDS related cases of decades ago fully attest; and third, international law, Constitutional law, specific statutes and the common law of torts all forbid conditioning access to employment upon coerced, invasive medical examinations and treatment, unless the employer can fully provide objective, scientifically validated evidence of the threat from the employee and how no practicable alternative could possible suffice to mitigate such supposed public health threat and still perform the necessary essentials of employment.

At the outset, consider the “problem” being “solved” by vaccination mandates. The previously infected are better protected than the vaccinated, so why aren’t they exempted? Equally, the symptomatic can be self-isolated. Hence, requiring vaccinations only addresses one risk: dangerous or deadly transmission, by the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic employee, in the employment setting. Yet even government official Mr. Fauci admits, as scientific studies affirm, asymptomatic transmission is exceedingly and “very rare.” Indeed, initial data suggests the vaccinated are just as, or even much more, likely to transmit the virus as the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. Hence, the vaccine solves nothing.

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Twitter thread. Bryan Dean Wright is a former CIA Ops. officer.

One Of The Most Dangerous, Unpredictable Times In Modern History (BDW)

Former US intelligence colleagues are angry and deeply worried at what has happened in Afghanistan. Here’s what I’m hearing, and why there’s nearly universal belief that America and the world are in for one of the most dangerous, unpredictable times in modern history. Afghanistan has shown the world — enemies & allies alike — that our military & intel assets are largely irrelevant because we can’t deploy them successfully. The blame lays at the feet of multiple Presidents. The Generals. The Spies. The Congress. America’s Elites are trash. China knows it. They will become emboldened, covertly & overtly. War over Taiwan and contested islands in the S. China Sea and E. China Sea is now more likely. Russia will consider similar covert & overt moves, focused on Crimea, & former Soviet satellites. The fear is that China & Russia will act in concert.

Why? America was whipped by a tiny rebel force and couldn’t even retreat properly. Meanwhile, the American people are angry, COVID weary, & divided. If there were ever a time to push American hegemony aside, this is it. If Cold War III grows hot, America will need to quickly build up & work with foreign counterparts. But who will trust America after Afghanistan? Who believes we have the leadership to use our military might well? Who will trust us when we say “We Will Stand With You”? Beyond China/Russia, others will take gambles too. Terror orgs like al-Qa’ida & ISIS are degraded but not dead. Their ideology is very much alive. Iran’s Hizballah — with terror cells throughout the US — may see an opening to create chaos too. Meanwhile, the disaster inside Afghanistan is only just beginning.

The Taliban will launch a terror campaign against American collaborators. The pictures will shock the conscience of the world, further degrading American moral authority. Biden & Co will struggle to respond. There’s also the nightmare of tactical weaponry now awash in Afghanistan, in the hands of the Taliban and — soon — on the global black market. These arms will fuel chaos around the world for decades. The Pentagon has no idea where this stuff is and no plans to destroy it. Finally, if Afghani refugees pour into the US, there are profound implications for security, culture, the economy, & politics. Are they properly vetted? Do they hold Western / tolerant values re: women, gays? Do they bring skills / education? Which party will they support?

The existential problem is that America needs good leadership to right its ship but there is none. Our federal bench is weak. Biden is a corrupt old man. Impeachment is a long shot; VP Harris is an unpopular paperweight. The Legislature is a feckless cabal of empty suits. Leadership could come from a state Governor, it’s true, but not soon enough. The above threats by China, Russia, & Co will metastasize well before the 2024 elections, and even a heroic new President will need years to clean things up. Again, our enemies and allies know this. Upshot: There is fear and outrage streaming through former intel officers over the Afghanistan debacle. America is rudderless. And the world now knows it. Grave dangers lie ahead, some predictable, others unimaginable. Keep your loved ones tight. Pray. And vote for change.

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The military comes to resent Biden, because he squandered all their efforts, and also to avoid being thrown under the bus.

My Heart Is Broken by Biden’s Afghanistan Failure (Michael Flynn)

My heart breaks as I see the Afghan people flood the Kabul airport in the hope of escaping the Taliban. President Biden’s assurances — supposedly based on what he was told by his intelligence community — that the Afghan Armed Forces were fully able to defeat the Taliban proved to be colossally wrong. Americans want to know whether President Biden and Defense Secretary Austin’s military-wide “stand-down” order to root out insufficiently woke “extremists” in the armed forces has caused our Defense Department to ignore what is unfolding in Afghanistan, as well as other real threats to our nation. After Afghanistan, I believe we can no longer rely on neocon senior military leaders, talking heads and politicians.

We have allowed military and civilian lawyers (read: rules of engagement restrictions) to become all-powerful, and many of our generals have been so indecisive and risk-averse that they are acting as little more than career-seeking politicians. We have been trained at participating in wars but untrained at winning wars since WWII. Afganistan is a tragic situation, much like the Kurds in Iraq, but at least President Trump drove up our respect internationally, which proves that being tough and smart is better than being tough and stupid. Today I don’t believe America is respected the way we were only a few short months ago. More countries visit China these days than come to the U.S., and China is prepped to recognize the Taliban once they declare the Islamic State — if only to embarrass us.

Seeing our defeat, my sense is Taiwan is having some incredibly uncomfortable internal discussions — as are a lot of U.S. allies in Europe. I also believe China is doing a lot of wargaming of costs and benefits with respect to future moves in the South China Sea and Europe. America is now in a fully engaged information war. Soon it may be worse. I pray our senior military leadership is intensely planning all options; the best plan offers the most options at the last possible moment. Trust me, our enemies are not waiting. They plan and they don’t care about stupid mask policies or fake insurrection show trials. Our enemies will be working on the next three vulnerabilities we haven’t even thought about. I believe Russia and China have a clear-eyed understanding of our corrupt political leadership that they and many other nations no longer respect or fear. America will come back soon, but it will come at a cost.

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46% approve? Of what?

Biden’s Polling Takes Massive Hit Following Collapse Of Afghanistan (JTN)

According to several new polls, President Biden is in trouble following the collapse of the Afghan government as U.S. and western troops withdrew from the troubled country after 20 years. A Rasmussen Reports poll illustrates the president’s approval index is currently 17 points down from where he started in January – the lowest it’s been since he took office. A total of 46% of Americans approve of Biden’s performance while 53% disapprove – also the highest that number has been. A new report from Convention of States Action in conjunction with the Trafalgar group shows that 69.3% of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of military operations – a supermajority of the population. Just 23.1% approve, and 7.5% have no opinion.


Even among Democrats, 48.2% disapprove, compared to just 39.8% who approve of Biden’s Afghan strategy. Among GOP voters a stunning majority at 88.8% disapprove, while just 7.1% of Biden’s actions. Numbers for political independents tilt closer to GOP figures, with a total of 74.8% disapproving of the handling of military operations, and 19.8% giving a nod of approval. Democrats in Congress are speaking out against the actions of the president, and though National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is set to brief the press corp today alongside Jen Psaki, none of Biden’s military leaders appeared alongside the Commander-in-Chief yesterday, as he deflected blame for the Afghan collapse during a brief speech.

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I had to look this up, but sure, maybe Spiro Agnew was at one point less popular than Kamala. Close call no doubt.

Kamala Harris Is The Most Unpopular Vice President In 50 Years (DW)

Vice President Kamala Harris has only been in office for six months, but she is already the most unpopular vice president since at least the 1970s, according to recent polls. The Los Angeles Times on Monday reported that as of July 27, “45% of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Harris and 48% had an unfavorable opinion — a net rating of -3 percentage points, according to a Times average.” The most recent YouGov tracking poll shows that Harris’ unfavorability rating has hit 49%, while her favorability rating sits at just 45%. Harris’ unpopularity is worse than former Vice President Mike Pence’s was six months into his tenure, according to The Telegraph.


The outlet reported that around this same time in 2017, Pence’s unfavorability rating sat at 41.9%, while his favorability rating was 42.1%. Pence may have been helped by a massive media focus on then-President Donald Trump and false accusations that he was a Russian agent who colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election. During the Biden administration, much more focus has been on Harris since she’s the first black female vice president. President Joe Biden, however, has put her in charge of some nearly impossible tasks, including handling the situation on the southern border. As the Times reported, Harris’ approval ratings started to decline after she was assigned the task, though Biden also received a small decline in job approval.

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Buying votes.

Biden To Increase Food Stamp Benefits By 25%, Largest Hike In History (ZH)

Having solved domestic problems like inflation and foreign problems like the complete and total collapse of Afghanistan in minutes after the U.S. withdrew from the country, President Biden is now focused on offering the largest long-term increase in food stamp benefits in the program’s history. The program adds “billions of dollars in costs” to the government, Bloomberg noted in a writeup this weekend. But, in Biden’s defense, what are dollars anymore, after all? Benefits are set to rise more than 25% from pre-pandemic levels for some 42 million people enrolled in the program. Average monthly benefits will rise $36 per person, from $121, according to the report.


Yet despite the rise, there are still “anti-hunger advocates” that believe it isn’t enough. The Agriculture Department is responsible for the hike in benefits – which can be done without congressional approval – but adjusting the estimated costs of food. The USDA makes a “shopping list” to determine benefits which, when updated, can adjust the amount of benefits issued to recipients. The basket of food items used for the list was started in 1961 and then updated in 1975. Its latest review was in 2006. Benefits were set to drop prior to the planned update as a result of a September 30 expiration of a 15% boost in pandemic relief. Even with the boost, the USDA budget for a family of four amounts to about $22 in food per day. As Bloomberg notes, food stamps used to be bipartisan common ground, but have since “evolved into a partisan flashpoint”. Biden’s plans stand at odds with how President Trump attempted to limit eligibility for the aid. Trump’s attempts were overturned by courts.

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Most popular president.

US Gov’t Tells Americans In Afghanistan It ‘Can’t Guarantee’ Their Safety (DW)

President Joe Biden’s administration told American citizens trapped in Afghanistan that the administration cannot guarantee their safety if they travel to the airport in Kabul to be evacuated. The news comes as thousands of American citizens remained trapped as Taliban terrorists have now taken control of the country. The Biden administration sent the following message to Americans trapped in Afghanistan: “To American Citizens, Thank you for registering your request to be evacuated from Afghanistan. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has confirmed that an undefined number of U.S. government provided flights will begin soon. Please make your way to Hamid Karzai International Airport at this time. PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT CANNOT GUARANTEE YOUR SECURITY AS YOU MAKE THIS TRIP.”

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“The Air Force will conduct a daring airdrop at night to deliver hundreds of pallets of paper ballots..”

Every American Stuck In Afghanistan To Receive A Mail-In Ballot (BBee)

Congress passed emergency legislation today to address the thousands of U.S. citizens still trapped in Afghanistan. The new legislation will mobilize the Air Force to drop much-needed absentee ballots for Americans eager to vote in the 2022 election. “Our heart goes out to the helpless Americans still stuck in Taliban-controlled Kabul,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “We know they are eager to vote for us in the upcoming elections, and we will not rest until they receive the ballots they deserve. To our American friends overseas, help—in the form of easy-to-fill-out ballots—is on the way!” The Air Force will conduct a daring airdrop at night to deliver hundreds of pallets of paper ballots into the waiting hands of American citizens, eager to vote for their favorite Democrat politicians. To make things easy, Democrats have ensured all the ballots will be pre-marked for Democrats.

Read more …

 

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Aug 172021
 


Pablo Picasso Family of Saltimbanques 1905

 

New Zealand To Enter Nationwide Lockdown After 1 Local Covid Case (Axios)
Uttar Pradesh Logs Lowest Ever Daily Covid Figure at 17 (N18)
NSW Police Fine 600 People On First Day Of Covid Crackdown Blitz (AAP)
Lockdowns Widen In China As Locals Doubt Official COVID-19 Data (ET)
Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection (JAMA)
Harvard Med Professor Censored For Contrarian Covid Posts (JTN)
Afghans Fleeing Taliban Need Negative PCR Test For Now-suspended Flights (RT)
Tsitsipas Refuses To Take Vaccine Unless It Becomes Mandatory On Tour (R.)
Afghan Abandonment A Lesson For Taiwan (Global Times)
Kabul Has Fallen – But Don’t Blame Joe Biden (Ron Paul)
Afghanistan: We Never Learn (Taibbi)
When The Penny Drops It’s You And Your Portfolio On That Kabul Tarmac (Every)
Strange Days Ahead (Kunstler)

 

 

Biden condensed

 

 

The CIA gets a large part of its off the books funding from poppies.

The Taliban banned poppy growing. The CIA moved its poppy farms to Colombia. Over the past years, much has been moved back.

Afghanistan GDP is $20 billion; the UNODC estimated the country’s overall illicit opiate economy in 2017 at $6.6 billion.

Will the CIA make a deal with the Taliban this time?

 

 

Shut you entire country down for one case, after 20 months, and people call you a success story.

New Zealand To Enter Nationwide Lockdown After 1 Local Covid Case (Axios)

New Zealand will enter a snap nationwide lockdown at its highest level on Tuesday night after a 58-year-old man from Auckland tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced. This is the first coronavirus case detected in NZ’s community for 170 days and officials are concerned the man may have the highly contagious Delta variant. New Zealand has only experienced a level 4 nationwide lockdown once before. This is only the second lockdown for communities outside Auckland, NZ’s most populous city, since the pandemic began. Ardern noted at a news conference Tuesday that although it was unknown what strain of the virus the man had, most of the infections in managed hotel quarantine had the Delta variant.


The level 4 national lockdown will last for three days, from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which the recently man visited, will likely experience this for seven days. New Zealand has largely contained COVID-19 cases to managed hotel quarantine facilities. Under alert level 4 restrictions, schools move to remote classes and non-essential businesses close — including food delivery services. Only essential travel is permitted, and water activities like swimming are banned. People must remain at home unless they’re exercising outdoors and locally and within their household “bubbles.” The country has paused vaccinations for the duration of the lockdown.

Read more …

This is the real success story.

Uttar Pradesh Logs Lowest Ever Daily Covid Figure at 17 (N18)

Uttar Pradesh on Monday witnessed the steepest decline in the number of fresh cases as the state limited the infections to just 17, making it the lowest ever daily-case count. Uttar Pradesh has restricted the daily-case count below 100 for over 5 weeks now. The downward trajectory of the virus has continued for the consecutive 14th week. In another significant achievement, the state registered a drop in the daily Covid test positivity rate (TPR) — the number of positive cases against the total tests done — to 0.01 percent. This rate was at its highest at 16.84 percent on April 24 and now remains even lower than the lowest post the first wave of Covid-19. The active caseload in the most populous state now stands at 419, from its peak at 3,10,783 cases on April 30.


On the contrary, sparsely populated states like Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu account for a heavy active caseload of 1,78,640, 64,219 and 20,458, respectively. In another major relief, none of the 75 districts reported fresh infections in double-digits, indicating signs that the pandemic is receding. Uttar Pradesh is rapidly moving towards being coronavirus-free as active and fresh cases in as many as 17 districts have declined to zero. In its bid to become self-reliant in terms of producing life-saving medication, as many as 317 of the 556 oxygen plants have already been established and are functional, while work on the remaining plants is going on in Uttar Pradesh.

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From inside the jail.

NSW Police Fine 600 People On First Day Of Covid Crackdown Blitz (AAP)

New South Wales police issued nearly 600 infringement notices to people flouting tough new health orders on the first day of a three-week crackdown designed to get the state’s escalating Covid crisis under control. The deputy commissioner, Mal Lanyon, said some people were still not complying even after a 5km travel rule came into effect for greater Sydney and the state reported a record 478 new local Covid-19 cases and eight deaths on Monday – the state’s worst day of the pandemic. “Yesterday we issued 579 infringement notices which is disappointing. It shows that people are still not complying. Thirty-four people received court attendant notices,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday. Police also conducted 3,800 welfare checks to see if people were following stay-at-home orders.

Seven weeks of lockdown in Sydney (NSW)

One Covid-positive man from the hotspot of Fairfield in Sydney’s south-west wasn’t home when police arrived and was later unable to provide an excuse for his actions, Lanyon said. The entire state is now locked down and a 21-day police blitz came into effect on Monday to enforce new regulations, with almost 18,000 police officers supported by 800 members of the Australian defence force. Tougher noncompliance fines of up to $5,000 are in place with people in greater Sydney confined to within 5km of their homes. Police commissioner Mick Fuller warned that officers have been told to adopt “a no-nonsense approach” to people deliberately flouting laws.

OzStudents

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“All of us have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” “All of us have been tested for COVID this week. And all of us have to take the second test tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,”

Lockdowns Widen In China As Locals Doubt Official COVID-19 Data (ET)

A spokesperson for the Chinese National Health Commission Mi Feng said at a press conference on Friday: “As of now, the diagnosed local [COVID-19] cases have risen for 19 consecutive days, and involved 16 provinces.” On Saturday and Sunday, the regime announced more infections but many people interviewed by the Chinese-language Epoch Times said they didn’t believe the numbers because of the regime’s past underreporting on COVID-19. The regime has reported relatively small-scale local outbreaks this year until July 20, when Nanjing in eastern Jiangsu Province announced airport workers were diagnosed with COVID-19. Since then, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has spread to dozens of cities across the country.

In its counting of COVID-19 cases the Chinese regime doesn’t include infected people not showing obvious symptoms. The regime also claims that anyone found to have COVID-19 who travelled overseas in the past month must have contracted the CCP virus when they were out of China, and count them as imported cases. Local cases end up being those who haven’t visited other countries in the past months and have symptoms. In Zhengyang County in central Henan Province, the regime only announced one person diagnosed with COVID-19 in recent weeks, but have locked down residential compounds and villages. The regime even planned to test all residents in the county again on Friday, although it didn’t report any infections in a first round of tests carried out two days earlier.

As of around midday Monday local time, Zhengyang County government had only announced that it had found one case that tested positive on Aug. 9 and another that was counted as an individual showing symptoms on Thursday. However, the county has strictly controlled people’s movements. On Saturday, local residents in the county said lockdown measures meant they couldn’t leave home and many believed the real infection figure must be larger than what the authorities are admitting. “All of us have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” Wang, a staff member of Zhengyang train station, said in a phone interview on Saturday. “All of us have been tested for COVID this week. And all of us have to take the second test tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Wang said. “The outbreak is very severe here.”

The Zhengyang City government announced that no private or business vehicles were allowed on roads from Saturday. Only ambulances, garbage trucks, and other emergency vehicles were allowed to use the roads. A Zhengyang farmer told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on Saturday that even farmers aren’t allowed to leave their homes or work their fields. “If there’s only one infection [in Zhengyang], the regime shouldn’t be so nervous, and shouldn’t ask us to test at night. They said we will be tested again,” the farmer said. “They [the regime] don’t allow us to farm our lands, don’t allow us to visit the city, don’t allow us to visit our friends and relatives. All schools and after-school classes were closed,” she said.

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Berenson: “New @JAMA_current paper says @moderna_Tx caused 2.3x the number of “significant” symptoms compared to @pfizer in a sample of 950 people.


Moderna also produced more antibodies. Raising the question of what a third dose, which produces still MORE, will do.”

Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection (JAMA)

In June 2020, HWs in the Johns Hopkins Health System provided oral informed consent to participate in a longitudinal study of S1 spike antibodies in which serum samples and survey responses were collected every 3 to 4 months. Ethical approval was obtained from the Johns Hopkins University Institutional Review Board. The HWs who participated for a study visit between March 10 and April 8, 2021, were included in this analysis if their serum sample was collected 14 or more days after receiving dose 2 of either mRNA vaccine. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Euroimmun), IgG antibody measurements were determined based on optical density ratios with an upper threshold of 11 based on assay saturation.

Prior SARS-CoV-2 infection was defined as having (1) a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test result prior to 14 days after dose 2 or (2) S1 spike IgG measurement greater than 1.23 prior to vaccination.5 Participants self-reported symptoms following vaccination as none, mild (injection site pain, mild fatigue, headache), or clinically significant (fatigue, fever, chills). Logistic regression models were used to explore the association of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccine type with symptoms following each dose, adjusting for sex and age. A linear regression model was used to explore the association between magnitude of antibody response (log-transformed) and age, sex, prior infection, vaccine type, symptoms, and time after 2 doses of vaccine. Analyses were performed in R, version 4.0.2 (R Foundation).

Results
A questionnaire and serum sample were collected 14 or more days following dose 2 for 954 HWs. Clinically significant symptoms were reported by 52 of the 954 (5%) after dose 1 and 407 (43%) after dose 2. After adjusting for prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, age, and sex, the odds of clinically significant symptoms following either dose were higher among participants who received the Moderna vs the Pfizer vaccine (dose 1: odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% CI, 0.96-3.50; dose 2: OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.73-3.40) (Table). Prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure was associated with increased odds of clinically significant symptoms following dose 1 (OR, 4.38; 95% CI, 2.25-8.55) but not dose 2 (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.36-0.99), after controlling for vaccine type, age, and sex.

Regardless of symptoms, the vast majority of participants (953 of 954, greater than 99.9%) developed spike IgG antibodies 14 or more days following dose 2; 1 participant who was taking immunosuppressant medication did not develop IgG antibodies. Reporting clinically significant symptoms, age younger than 60 years, female sex, receipt of Moderna vaccine, and prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure were independently associated with higher median IgG measurements, after adjusting for time after dose 2.

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Kulldorff is next.

Harvard Med Professor Censored For Contrarian Covid Posts (JTN)

Martin Kulldorff started relying on LinkedIn to share news and views on COVID-19 policy after Twitter suspended the Harvard Medical School professor for a month for questioning the protective power of masks. Now the Microsoft-owned professional social network is scrutinizing his posts, going so far as to remove two for violating its misinformation policy. It’s at least the second action LinkedIn has taken this summer against a vaccine scientist who questioned COVID-19 orthodoxy. It suspended Robert Malone, who credits himself as the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, for alleging dangers from the “spike protein” in mRNA vaccines, citing heart-inflammation reports in some vaccinated young people and highlighting Big Tech censorship and conflicts of interest. A LinkedIn “senior executive” personally apologized to him for wrongful removal, Malone said.

Kulldorff made a similar cost-benefit argument against mandatory COVID vaccinations for young people in a June op-ed. He directed Twitter followers to find the op-ed on his LinkedIn page because “Twitter does not allow vaccine scientists to freely discuss vaccines.” Now he’s directing Linkedin followers to find him on Twitter, though the scientist confirmed to Just the News that he is concerned about further censorship there, “so I self-censor on Twitter.” One of Kulldorff’s Harvard Med colleagues spoke against LinkedIn for the censorship. “The point is not whether a minority viewpoint is right,” bioethics professor Jonathan Darrow, who cowrote a journal article with Kulldorff last year, wrote in an email. If such views are silenced, “public health options may be closed off prematurely, matters may be erroneously believed to be settled, and needed research may never be conducted.”


[..] COVID-19 orthodoxy has “unjustifiably tarnished” the reputations of scientists such as Stanford University’s John Ioannidis, “one of the most well-respected luminaries” in evidence-based medicine, Darrow said. Ioannidis lost that respect “because he publicly presented data about COVID’s infection fatality rate that were politically unpopular.” Censorship is also “communicable,” according to Darrow, “potentially tipping the scales of public judgment one way or the other and leading to a downward spiral of intolerance in which minority views are increasingly suppressed.”

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When one insanity meets the other.

Afghans Fleeing Taliban Need Negative PCR Test For Now-suspended Flights (RT)

The suspension of flights leaving Kabul has left countless civilians at the mercy of the Taliban. But even if flights resume, Afghans fleeing the country will still need to test negative for Covid, according to a baffling report. Soon after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Sunday, hundreds of civilians began to pour into Kabul’s international airport in hopes of being airlifted to safety. But by Monday morning, commercial airlines had halted operations in the Afghan capital due to gunfire around the air hub – caused at least in part by US soldiers firing warning shots at civilians gathering on the tarmac. But the suspension of regular outbound flights is just one of several hurdles facing Afghans seeking a one-way ticket out of the country: airlines operating in the Afghan capital ask for passengers to provide a negative coronavirus test.


The arguably ill-timed flight requirement was spotted at the end of an Atlantic article chronicling the frustrating story of an Afghan interpreter, Khan, and his family as they try to secure safe passage out of the country. “Today, Sunday, the Taliban are in Kabul… The neighborhood where Khan was renting a room has become dangerous, and he and his family have fled, walking six miles to another hiding place. He needs to find a facility that will administer the Covid-19 tests required by the airlines. He needs to get his family to the airport. He needs two more days,” reads the last paragraph of the article.

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Bubbles.

Tsitsipas Refuses To Take Vaccine Unless It Becomes Mandatory On Tour (R.)

World number three Stefanos Tsitsipas said he would only get the Covid-19 vaccine if it became mandatory to compete in tennis. While the men’s ATP Tour has publicly encouraged players to get vaccinated, the 23-year-old Greek is among those who still have reservations. “No one has told me anything. No one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated,” he told reporters, when asked if he would seek a vaccine while competing in the US. “At some point I will have to, I’m pretty sure about it, but so far it hasn’t been mandatory to compete, so I haven’t done it, no,” added Tsitsipas, who received a first-round bye in the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati.

He reached the French Open final in June but suffered a shock, first-round exit at Wimbledon, where he told reporters he found it challenging to live and compete in the Covid-19 “bubble.” The Covid-19 vaccine has divided opinion within tennis. World number one Novak Djokovic said in April he hoped the Covid-19 vaccine would not become mandatory for players to compete and has declined to answer questions regarding his own vaccination status. However, fellow 20-time Grand Slam winners Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal feel athletes need to play their part to get life back to some form of normality.


Federer said in May that he received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while Nadal said: “The only way out of this nightmare is vaccination. Our responsibility as human beings is to accept it. “I know there is a percentage of people who will suffer from side effects, but the effects of the virus are worse.” Spectators will not be allowed to attend qualifying rounds at this month’s U.S. Open due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said last week. The USTA previously said it would allow full fan capacity for the main part of the tournament.

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China knows.

Afghan Abandonment A Lesson For Taiwan (Global Times)

The geopolitical value of Afghanistan is no less than that of Taiwan island. Around Afghanistan, there are the US’ three biggest geopolitical rivals – China, Russia and Iran. In addition, Afghanistan is a bastion of anti-US ideology. The withdrawal of US troops from there is not because Afghanistan is unimportant. It’s because it has become too costly for Washington to have a presence in the country. Now the US wants to find a better way to use its resources to maintain its hegemony in the world. Taiwan is probably the US’ most cost-effective ally in East Asia. There is no US military presence on the island of Taiwan. The way the US maintains the alliance with Taiwan is simple: It sells arms to Taiwan while encouraging the DPP authorities to implement anti-mainland policies through political support and manipulation.

As a result, it has caused a certain degree of depletion between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. And what Washington has to do is only to send warships and aircraft near the Straits from time to time. In general, the US does not have to spend a penny on Taiwan. Instead, it makes money through arms sales and forced pork and beef sales to the island. This is totally a profitable geopolitical deal for Washington. Once a cross-Straits war breaks out while the mainland seizes the island with forces, the US would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere. A military intervention of the US will be a move to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits, and this will make Washington pay a huge price rather than earn profit.


Some people on the island of Taiwan hype that the island is different from Afghanistan, and that the US wouldn’t leave them alone. Indeed, the island is different from Afghanistan. But the difference is the deeper hopelessness of a US victory if it gets itself involved in a cross-Straits war. Such a war would mean unthinkable costs for the US, in front of which the so-called special importance of Taiwan is nothing but wishful thinking of the DPP authorities and secessionist forces on the island.

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“Unless there is a major purge of those who lied and misled, we can count on these disasters to continue until the last US dollar goes up in smoke.”

Kabul Has Fallen – But Don’t Blame Joe Biden (Ron Paul)

This weekend the US experienced another “Saigon moment,” this time in Afghanistan. After a 20 year war that drained trillions from Americans’ pockets, the capital of Afghanistan fell without a fight. The corrupt Potemkin regime that the US had been propping up for two decades and the Afghan military that we had spent billions training just melted away. The rush is on now to find somebody to blame for the chaos in Afghanistan. Many of the “experts” doing the finger-pointing are the ones most to blame. Politicians and pundits who played cheerleader for this war for two decades are now rushing to blame President Biden for finally getting the US out. Where were they when succeeding presidents continued to add troops and expand the mission in Afghanistan?

The US war on Afghanistan was not lost yesterday in Kabul. It was lost the moment it shifted from a limited mission to apprehend those who planned the attack on 9/11 to an exercise in regime change and nation-building. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks I proposed that we issue letters of marque and reprisal to bring those responsible to justice. But such a limited and targeted response to the attack was ridiculed at the time. How could the US war machine and all its allied profiteers make their billions if we didn’t put on a massive war? So who is to blame for the scenes from Afghanistan this weekend? There is plenty to go around. Congress has kicked the can down the road for 20 years, continuing to fund the Afghan war long after even they understood that there was no point to the US occupation.

There were some efforts by some Members to end the war, but most, on a bipartisan basis, just went along to get along. The generals and other high-ranking military officers lied to their commander-in-chief and to the American people for years about progress in Afghanistan. The same is true for the US intelligence agencies. Unless there is a major purge of those who lied and misled, we can count on these disasters to continue until the last US dollar goes up in smoke. The military industrial complex spent 20 years on the gravy train with the Afghanistan war. They built missiles, they built tanks, they built aircraft and helicopters. They hired armies of lobbyists and think tank writers to continue the lie that was making them rich. They wrapped their graft up in the American flag, but they are the opposite of patriots.

[..] Political control in Afghanistan has returned to the people who fought against those they viewed as occupiers and for what they viewed as their homeland. That is the real lesson, but don’t expect it to be understood in Washington. War is too profitable and political leaders are too cowardly to go against the tide. But the lesson is clear for anyone wishing to see it: the US global military empire is a grave threat to the United States and its future.

Vet

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Well, we have to make some money, c’mon!

Afghanistan: We Never Learn (Taibbi)

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, when asked months ago about the possibility that there might be a “significant deterioration” of the security picture in Afghanistan once the United States withdrew its forces, said, “I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.” Blinken’s Nostradamus moment was somehow one-upped by that of his boss, Joe Biden, who on July 8th had the following exchange with press: “Q: Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse. BIDEN: That is not true, they did not reach that conclusion… There is going to be no circumstance where you see people lifted off the roof of an embassy… The likelihood that you’re going to see the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

[..] The pattern is always the same. We go to places we’re not welcome, tell the public a confounding political problem can be solved militarily, and lie about our motives in occupying the country to boot. Then we pick a local civilian political authority to back that inevitably proves to be corrupt and repressive, increasing local antagonism toward the American presence. In response to those increasing levels of antagonism, we then ramp up our financial, political, and military commitment to the mission, which in turn heightens the level of resistance, leading to greater losses in lives and treasure. As the cycle worsens, the government systematically accelerates the lies to the public about our level of “progress.”

Throughout, we make false assurances of security that are believed by significant numbers of local civilians, guaranteeing they will later either become refugees or targets for retribution as collaborators. Meanwhile, financial incentives for contractors, along with political disincentives to admission of failure, prolong the mission. This all goes on for so long that the lies become institutionalized, believed not only by press contracted to deliver the propaganda (CBS’s David Martin this weekend saying with a straight face, “Everybody is surprised by the speed of this collapse” was typical), but even by the bureaucrats who concocted the deceptions in the first place.

The look of genuine shock on the face of Tony Blinken this weekend as he jousted with Jake Tapper about Biden’s comments from July should tell people around the world something important about the United States: in addition to all the other things about us that are dangerous, we lack self-knowledge. Even deep inside the machine of American power, where everyone paying even a modicum of attention over the last twenty years should have known Kabul would fall in a heartbeat, they still believe their own legends. Which means this will happen again, and probably sooner rather than later.

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“..if you don’t see this US policy debacle increases the risks of ‘red-line’ incidents in the Asia/Indo-Pacific, perhaps you should look for a desk job at the CIA.”

When The Penny Drops It’s You And Your Portfolio On That Kabul Tarmac (Every)

The US Beltway experts who six weeks ago said the Taliban could not establish an Islamic Emirate for at least a year, and then suddenly revised that down to six weeks, and then to 72 hours, still got it wrong: it happened on Sunday evening. The Afghan president has fled, along with his artificial $88bn “army”, but the actual weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban. Crowds of desperate Afghans are flooding the runway of Kabul airport –requisitioned by the US Army because it surrendered Bagram airbase without warning weeks ago, and the Taliban now control it– in scenes that look like Saigon in 1975. Or, tragically, like the Khmer Rouge entering Phnom Penh in ‘The Killing Fields’ (in Cambodia, a few years later); and there seems a very real risk the comparison won’t stop there.

Yes, markets will try to brush this geopolitical earthquake off: It’s just Afghanistan; It’s a long way away; We never wanted to go on holiday there anyway; They don’t even buy much cheese. There will probably be attempts to talk of a ‘New Taliban’, as we did with New Labour in the UK, brushing over the fact that the latter ‘New’ was vs. 1970’s socialism, and the former is vs. 7th century fundamentalism. Indeed, the Taliban seem to now realize which Western memes make it look more palatable, and are promising to be “inclusive”. They may only need to throw in “diverse”, “equity”, “green”, and “sustainability” for Wall Street to perk up and ask “Are you in favour of free trade and QE?”, and for EU foreign policy representatives to sit next to them.

But what to do? Michael Bloomberg has already penned an editorial that says “The US Can’t Walk Away From Afghanistan”, which is correct: the US *ran* away in the eyes of Afghans. He then Bloombergs that: “Words are easy. Solutions are hard,” and suggests the US continue to fund the Afghan government and army as long as viable (too late!), help people to flee (where?), and use airstrikes and special forces to keep terrorism at bay, which will involve “Cajoling neighbouring countries for intelligence support and basing rights.” (Neighbours like China; Turkmenistan; Tajikistan; Uzbekistan; Iran; and Pakistan.) Hey, words *are* easy! And solutions hard. Yet Bloomberg is right in that this geopolitical nightmare is almost certainly only just beginning.

As noted here on Friday, if you don’t see this US policy debacle increases the risks of ‘red-line’ incidents in the Asia/Indo-Pacific, perhaps you should look for a desk job at the CIA. The US now looks like it is flailing around like a social-media influencer discovering not just a micro-aggression, or that life contains people who don’t agree with you, but that there are people who aren’t even on Twitter that can punch you in the face and break your nose and teeth (and far, far worse). Geopolitically, opportunists of all stripes may now be considering if they may not be able to earn theirs, so to speak, by kicking the US while it is down. And yet the US is clearly swinging most of what is still the world’s most formidable military muscle squarely towards the Asia/Indo-Pacific region, and will almost certainly not want to be seen to ‘do a Kabul’ in that jurisdiction too. Or a Nord-Stream 2. Or an Iran.

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“Floundering. Friendless. Broke. Broken!”

Strange Days Ahead (Kunstler)

Well, we’ve become an ossified, administrative nomenklatura of Deep State flunkies as the Soviets were, and lately we’re just as lawless as they used to be, constitution-wise — e.g., the abolition of property rights via the CDC’s rent moratorium… the prolonged jailing in solitary confinement of January 6 political prisoners… the introduction of internal “passports.” The USA is running on fumes economically as the Soviets were. Our dominant party leadership has aged into an embarrassing gerontocracy. Is it our turn to collapse? Kind of looks like it. The days ahead are liable to be a rough ride. Surely China has taken the measure of our Woke military and is weighing the seizure of Taiwan in our moment of signal weakness.

No more computer chips for you, Uncle Sam! Do we come to Taiwan’s defense with guns blazing, or perhaps nukes? And what if that doesn’t work out so well? I’ll tell you what: a major geopolitical reordering of things, leaving us… where? Unable to enforce our will around the world as has been the case for eighty years. Floundering. Friendless. Broke. Broken! Of course, the domestic situation in our land has not been so fraught and overwrought since 1861. Everything is politicized, which is to say: used as a truncheon to beat-up adversaries and, let’s face it, mostly in the sense of Left against Right. This is especially true for the Covid-19 soap opera, which more and more pits the sanctimoniously vaccinated “progressives” against the recalcitrant conservative no-vax free-choicers — that is, coercive government trying to force supposedly free citizens to accept a pretty dubious experimental medical treatment.


Since when did the American Left become so pro-tyranny, and how’d that even happen? I have friends and relatives — I’m sure you do, too — who knocked themselves out in the 1960s protesting against the war, the government, the FBI, and the CIA… who fought in the streets for free speech and raged against official propaganda — and today they can’t get enough of coercing, punishing, brain-washing, and cancelling their fellow citizens. They’re going so far now as to engineer their vicious narrative to brand their opponents as “domestic terrorists.” Think that’s going to work?

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Sep 172020
 


René Magritte Sixteenth of September 1956

 

CDC: US Should Have Enough Vaccine To Return To Regular Life By Q3 2021 (CNBC)
Trump Admin Shuts Down CDC Training Based On Critical Race Theory (Fox)
President Trump’s Ban on Critical Race Theory, Explained (FEE)
Subpoenas Coming For Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Halper Et Al (ZH)
Mueller Team Had Lisa Page’s Phone It Claimed Was Lost (ET)
Treasury Flagged Foreign Money Flowing To Hunter Biden-Tied Firms (JTN)
Senator Kennedy: There Are Times When I Think Pelosi Has Eaten Tide Pods (ZH)
The Democrat Ticket Is Puzzling (Paul Craig Roberts)
60% of US Business Closures Due To The Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC)
New Zealand In Recession After Worst Quarterly GDP Fall On Record (G.)
Julian Assange Interrupts Extradition Hearing Again (SMH)
Claims Assange ‘Endangered Lives’ Rubbished In Extradition Hearing (Haddad)

 

 

We passed 30 million total global cases overnight. That is a lot of people. And at 300,000 new cases a day, 9 million will be added each month.

India hasn’t breached the 100,000 number in one day so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can think what you want about performances like this one by CDC head Robert Redfield, but the problem with the CDC, as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by Fauci, should be obvious. The same will go for similar bureaus in other countries. That is, they basically go unchallenged for decades (I know, there was SARS), which inevitably makes them lazy and riddled with inertia.

This is best exemplified by the fact that Fauci has been heading his institute since 1984. Plenty of time to get all chummy with the Big Pharma people he sees on a regular basis, and one thing leads to another. And then when an emergeny occurs, we find out that they have no way left to deal with an emergency, because they’re all rusty and dusty. Which of course they will vehemently deny.

Meanwhile, Fauci has said may different, even contradictory things, and Redfield does no better. First, there is no vaccine, so this is pure hypothesis. And even then it will take another year?! Great message. Which the CDC itself walked back within hours to boot. And the way he’s flopping that piece of cloth around, saying it’s better than a vaccine, is just horrible. He’s had 9 months to drown the US in N95 masks, and be effective. So where are they?

CDC: US Should Have Enough Vaccine To Return To Regular Life By Q3 2021 (CNBC)

The U.S. should have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for Americans to return to “regular life” by the third quarter of next year, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Senate panel he expects vaccinations to begin in November or December, but in limited quantities with those most in need getting the first doses, such as health-care workers. He said it will take about “six to nine months” to get the entire American public vaccinated. “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third … late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” he told the U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education, and related agencies.

The CDC later walked back Redfield’s testimony after President Donald Trump criticized him at a White House press conference. The CDC said Redfield’s timeline referred to when all Americans will complete their immunizations. “He was not referring to the time period when COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans,” CDC spokesman Paul Fulton Jr. said in an email to CNBC. At the hearing, Redfield said the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed was unprecedented. He told lawmakers that a vaccine usually takes four to six years. There are no approved vaccines for the coronavirus. Three drugmakers are currently in late-stage testing for potential vaccines and expect to know if they work by the end of the year.

Public health experts have previously said that most Americans likely won’t get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year. Whichever vaccine is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be in short supply once it’s cleared for public distribution, medical experts warn. The vaccine will likely require two doses at varying intervals, and states still face logistical challenges such as setting up distribution sites and acquiring enough needles, syringes and bottles needed for immunizations.

Redfield

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“..It’s unclear why the CDC proceeded with the training..”

Trump Admin Shuts Down CDC Training Based On Critical Race Theory (Fox)

President Trump’s administration canceled another critical race theory training that was set to occur through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite the president’s recent executive order banning those types of events, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said Tuesday. OMB Director Russ Vought announced the decision just a day after Discovery Institute researcher Chris Rufo reported on the training, underscoring the administration’s recent responsiveness to news on this issue. “Glad to report, per @POTUS’s directive, this training is being cancelled immediately,” Vought tweeted, alongside Rufo’s post about the issue. Rufo’s revelations appeared to prompt Trump’s executive order earlier this month.

Rufo noted on Monday that the CDC was hosting a training focused on “systems of structured inequality,” blaming systemic racism for deaths from COVID-19 and at the hands of police. It admonishes the “myth of meritocracy” and “myth of american exceptionalism,” among other objectives that Rufo said represented “textbook critical race theory.” It’s unclear why the CDC proceeded with the training, which appeared to take place on Thursday. Rufo responded to Vought’s announcement by demanding accountability and threatening to release names of those involved if the CDC didn’t take action on its own.

A senior administration official told Fox News that all agencies are supposed to adhere to the president’s order, and that the president’s team is attempting to stop trainings that are continuing despite the cease and desist order. In Vought’s initial letter on the issue, he denounced the trainings as un-American. “According to press reports, in some cases these training have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job,” he said. “These types of ‘trainings’ not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the federal workforce,” he said.

Vought also directed agencies to identify ways to sever government contracts that supported those trainings. Last week, Rufo flagged a training through an Education Department contractor, which purportedly pushed for radical changes to education and doing “away with prison,” among other things. One document stated that “schools are built to manage racism” and that “we all” seem to abide by a racial contract that says it’s ok for white people to kill [B]lacks with immunity.”

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“Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people..”

President Trump’s Ban on Critical Race Theory, Explained (FEE)

Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the “critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures,” as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color. The “power structure” prism stems largely from Critical Theory’s own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist “Frankfurt School.” Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

“According to the Marxian view,” wrote the economist Ludwig von Mises, “human society is organized into classes whose interests stand in irreconcilable opposition.” Mises called this view a “conflict doctrine,” which opposed the “harmony doctrine” of classical liberalism. According to the classical liberals, in a free market economy, capitalists and workers were natural allies, not enemies. Indeed, in a free society all rights-respecting individuals were natural allies. Critical Race Theory arose as a distinct movement in law schools in the late 1980s. CRT inherited many of its premises and perspectives from its Marxist ancestry. The pre-CRT Civil Rights Movement had emphasized equal rights and treating people as individuals, as opposed to as members of a racial collective.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King famously said. In contrast, CRT dwells on inequalities of outcome, which it generally attributes to racial power structures. And, as we’ve seen from the government training curricula, modern CRT forthrightly judges white people by the color of their skin, prejudging them as racist by virtue of their race. This race-based “pre-trial guilty verdict” of racism is itself, by definition, racist. The classical liberal “harmony doctrine” was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow.

But, with the rise of Critical Race Theory, the cause of racial justice became more influenced by the fixations on conflict, discord, and domination that CRT inherited from Marxism. Social life was predominantly cast as a zero-sum struggle between collectives: capital vs. labor for Marxism, whites vs. people of color for CRT. A huge portion of society’s ills were attributed to one particular collective’s diabolical domination: capitalist hegemony for Marxism, white supremacy for CRT. Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people. Both try to foment resentment, envy, and a victimhood complex among the oppressed class it claims to champion.

Critical Race Theory
https://twitter.com/i/status/1306000528757923848

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The Senate Homeland Security Committee appears to be getting restless about the Durham probe.

Subpoenas Coming For Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Halper Et Al (ZH)

The Senate Homeland Security Committee voted on Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for dozens of Obama-era officials involved in ‘spygate,’ including former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former DNI James Clapper — and longtime US intelligence operative Stephen Halper, who the Obama administration paid nearly half-a-million dollars to help the FBI spy on the 2016 Trump campaign. The committee authorized chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to issue notices for taking depositions, subpoenas, records requests, and testimony related to the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation – along with the DOJ Inspector General’s review of said investigation, as well as the “unmasking” of individuals connected to the Trump campaign, transition team, and administration, according to Fox News.

“The committee also authorized subpoenas for Sidney Blumenthal, former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough, former FBI counsel Lisa Page, former FBI agent Joe Pientka, former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former FBI director of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith – who pleaded guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the investigation into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign – among others.”

As part of the authorization, Johnson may subpoena “the production of all records” related to the FBI’s initial Russia probe, as well as unmasking requests for “James Baker, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, FBI case agent Steven Somma, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Teftt, former deputy assistant attorney general Tashina Gauhar.” Halper, meanwhile, is a former government official and longtime spook for the CIA and FBI, who was outed as the FBI informant who infiltrated the Trump campaign after the Washington Post and the New York Times ran reports that corroborated a March report by the Daily Caller detailing Halper’s outreach to several low-level aides to the Trump campaign, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

These contacts are notable, as Halper’s infiltration of the Trump campaign corresponds with the two of the four targets of the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane – in which the agency sent counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and others to a London meeting in the Summer of 2016 with former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer – who says Papadopoulos drunkenly admitted to knowing that the Russians had Hillary Clinton’s emails. The 74-year-old Halper who split his time between his Virginia farm and teaching at Cambridge, approached several Trump campaign aides during the 2016 US election for purposes of espionage – on behalf of the FBI, headed at the time by the recently very quiet James Comey. Halper continued to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page well after the election, and now we find that he was trying to infiltrate the Trump administration.

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Does anyone except the principals actors think these things should NOT be investigated?

Mueller Team Had Lisa Page’s Phone It Claimed Was Lost (ET)

An official who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation wrote in a recently released email that he or she was in possession of an iPhone belonging to Lisa Page three days after the former FBI lawyer’s last day on the job and at a time when the device was thought to have been lost. The special counsel’s office (SCO) and the Justice Department previously claimed to have no documents to show who handled Page’s iPhone after she turned it in on July 14, 2017, or who improperly wiped it two weeks later, before it could be checked for records, in violation of SCO policy. But documents released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sept. 11 tell a different story, with three officials certifying that Page turned over her phone and one claiming to have been in possession of it.

“I have her phone and laptop,” an administrative officer with the initials LFW wrote in a July 17, 2017, email to Christopher Greer, an assistant director at the DOJ Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Beth McGarry, the executive officer at the special counsel’s office, told Greer in an email sent earlier in the day that Page “returned her mobile phone and laptop.” On the same day, a property custodian officer, whose name is redacted in the documents, signed a form on which Page certified that she turned in her phone and the officer certified that “all government property has been returned or otherwise properly accounted for.” The July 17 timing of the two statements and the signature is significant. The DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) previously concluded that there were no records of who had the phone after July 14. The records about Page’s phone are part of a DOJ disclosure that revealed that members of the Mueller team improperly wiped at least 22 iPhones before they could be checked for records.

[..] Mueller’s team used a total of 92 iPhones, according to the documents. Four of the phones appear in the inventory logs, but not on the records officer’s log, suggesting they were either recorded without their unique asset tag or evaded the officer entirely. One of the four phones belonged to deputy special counsel Aaron Zebley. Another belonged to Zainab Ahmad, a special counsel attorney. One phone was partially wiped. Four phones were improperly handed over to the OCIO and wiped before the records officer’s review. As many as seven phones with no asset tags noted by the records officer were either reassigned or wiped before the officer could assess the device for records.

The pattern of questionable deletions has drawn the attention of lawmakers. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairmen of the finance and oversight committees, respectively, sent a letter to the DOJ and the FBI last week asking for more information about what happened with the phones. “It appears that Special Counsel Mueller’s team may have deleted federal records that could be key to better understanding their decision-making process as they pursued their investigation and wrote their report,” Grassley wrote. “Indeed, many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane.”

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His dad is running for president. Which is when in America the family is dragged in. But where is Hunter? Too much of a liability? The press can’t ask Joe, because all questions are pre-scripted.

Treasury Flagged Foreign Money Flowing To Hunter Biden-Tied Firms (JTN)

A Treasury Department agency that polices financial threats such as money laundering flagged several foreign transactions to Hunter Biden-connected businesses as “suspicious” during the end of the Obama administration and the beginning of the Trump administration. The concerns from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) were highlighted in Suspicious Activity Reports turned over to Senate committees over the last year in conjunction with investigations into the Russia and Ukraine scandals, according to several officials familiar with the evidence. As those Senate investigations wind toward the issuance of their first official report later this month, an essential question has emerged:

Did U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agencies do anything to determine if the money flowing to Vice President Joe Biden’s son posed any criminal or intelligence threats? [..] Senate Democrats first called attention to the existence of the SARs in a little-noticed letter late last year and are now bracing for the flagged financial transactions to be a major revelation in a joint report they expect to be published by the GOP-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Finance Committees as early as next week. “The Republicans have had this in their back pocket for some time to make headlines as the election drew closer,” one Democratic source told Just the News.

[..] The SAR reports were requested as Senate investigators dug into a labyrinth of global businesses that Hunter Biden and his business partners became involved with in Russia, China, Ukraine and elsewhere while his father Joe Biden served as the vice president and Obama administration foreign policy point person. That includes Hunter Biden’s controversial addition in spring 2014 to the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas firm with a long record of corruption allegations. SARs are one of the law enforcement community’s most powerful and secretive tools in the war against money laundering, drug cartels and terrorist threats, providing real-time warnings from financial institutions to FinCEN that certain transactions have characteristics that make them suspicious.

Treasury typically receives or generates one million to two million Suspicious Activity Reports a year. So a SAR report in and of itself is not evidence of wrongdoing, but it is usually a starting point for investigation, experts say. The question that remains is whether FBI or ODNI did anything to investigate these suspicious reports after they were alerted by FinCEN. [..] Hunter Biden’s globe-trotting business activities have long generated controversy because they often occurred in the shadows of his father’s foreign policy portfolio. Hunter Biden, for instance, traveled aboard Air Force Two in December 2013 with the vice president to Beijing, walking away soon after with a stake in an investment fund that received funding from the state-owned Bank of China. As his father’s administration took several actions favorable to Beijing, such as opening U.S. capital markets to Chinese companies, Hunter Biden closed deals in China.

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“Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi aren’t going to agree to anything until we agree to spend a trillion dollars bailing out New York and California and that’s not going to happen in your or my natural life..”

Senator Kennedy: There Are Times When I Think Pelosi Has Eaten Tide Pods (ZH)

GOP Senator John Kennedy used a startling cultural reference to portray his belief that believes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is crazy, saying that he often thinks she has ‘is one of those people who tried Tide Pods’ laundry detergent. Appearing with Sean Hannity, Kennedy was addressing Pelosi’s obsession with the $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill. “Sean, with respect, there are times, particularly recently, when I think Speaker Pelosi is one of those people who tried Tide pods,” Kennedy hilariously stated. “I want you to think about what she proposed today, this is what the speaker is threatening to do,” he continued, adding “She is threatening to keep the House Democrats in session and prevent them from going home and running for reelection unless the Senate Republicans agree to the speaker’s $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill.”


“On the one hand we can vote for Pelosi’s $3.4 trillion bill or we can agree to allow her to put the House Democratic majority into jeopardy. That’s just bone deep down to the marrow foolish,” Kennedy urged. Kennedy further emphasised that Nothing is going to get done while the Democrats refuse to back down over something that is never going to come to fruition. “Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi aren’t going to agree to anything until we agree to spend a trillion dollars bailing out New York and California and that’s not going to happen in your or my natural life,” Kennedy added.

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PCR worked at the Reagan White House.

The Democrat Ticket Is Puzzling (Paul Craig Roberts)

Those of you old enough to remember President Reagan will remember all the presstitute insinuations about Reagan being senile and falling asleep at cabinet meetings. Of course, the presstitutes were never at cabinet meetings. Reagan successfully confronted the two major problems of his time—stagflation and the nuclear armageddon that could result from misunderstood intentions or a warning system error. Reagan’s supply-side policy deep-sixed stagflation—the simultaneous rise of inflation and unemployment—and his negotiations with Soviet President Gorbachev ended the Cold War.

The Establishment has buried both achievements, and today Reagan is understood as the president who made Americans feel good while he cut taxes for the rich and poured money into the Pentagon and defense contractors. Reagan’s “star wars” was more illusion than real. It’s purpose was to convince the Soviets to end the Cold War. This was also the purpose of his military interventions against leftish takeovers in the US “sphere of influence.” The reason for these interventions was to give the message to Moscow that there would be no further territorial gains for communism. Americans today, especially the youth, know nothing about how the Reagan administration gave us two decades of economic growth without having to pay for it with rising inflation, and they do not know that Reagan ended the Cold War.

Today the rightwing and Russians themselves believe that Reagan won the Cold War. That was not Reagan’s goal. President Reagan told those of us involved that the purpose was “to end, not win, the Cold War,” and that we must never act or speak in any way that implied that we had prevailed over the Soviets. Wikipedia, a disinformation website, opens its account of Reagan’s foreign policy with a blatant lie: “The foreign policy of the Ronald Reagan administration was the foreign policy of the United States from 1981 to 1989. The main goal was winning the Cold War.” The ignorance of whoever wrote this is extraordinary.

The Soviets never would have agreed to losing the Cold War. President Reagan understood this, which is why he emphasized that our purpose was to end, not win, the Cold War.

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And counting.

60% of US Business Closures Due To The Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC)

Yelp on Wednesday released its latest Economic Impact Report, revealing business closures across the U.S. are increasing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll. As of Aug, 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed. That’s down from the 180,000 that closed at the very beginning of the pandemic. However, it actually shows a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July. In addition to monitoring closed businesses, Yelp also takes into account the businesses whose closures have become permanent. That number has steadily increased throughout the past six months, now reaching 97,966, representing 60% of closed businesses that won’t be reopening.

“Overall, Yelp’s data shows that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July,” Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp, told CNBC. Yelp’s September report marks six months since March 1, the date that the company considers to be the beginning of the business crisis. In order to gather closure data, Yelp monitors changes in business hours or descriptions on its app, offering an immediate, localized view of the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses. “Despite the hard hit small businesses have certainly taken, we’ve seen that home, local, professional and automotive services have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic better than other industries,” Norman noted.


The data supports the trend that most consumers are choosing to stay home over patronizing establishments physically, as home and professional services such as landscapers, contractors and lawyers, see a much lower closure rate than clothing stores and even home decor businesses. Auto and towing services also reported a relatively low closure rate. “Consumers still need these services,” Norman said. “Through the rise of virtual consultations, and contactless or socially distanced services, these businesses have been particularly resilient during this time.” Throughout the past six months, restaurants, bars and nightlife venues have been hit the hardest by the restrictions brought by the pandemic: 32,109 restaurants have closed, as of Aug. 31. The number of restaurants forced to permanently close is slightly above Yelp’s total average, at 61%.

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New Zealand has spin doctors too: “Robertson said economic analysts were predicting the September quarter to show “a record jump back to growth in the economy..”

New Zealand In Recession After Worst Quarterly GDP Fall On Record (G.)

New Zealand has entered a recession with the economy contracting 12.2% in the June quarter – the largest drop since such records began in 1987. Paul Pascoe at Stats NZ said the GDP fall was “by far the largest on record in New Zealand” and reflected months spent in lockdown. Industries such as retail, accommodation, restaurants and transport saw significant declines; as did construction and manufacturing at 25.8% and 13% respectively. Household domestic spending dropped by 12%. Annually, GDP fell by 2% – the first annual decline since the March 2010 quarter. New Zealand’s economic retraction is higher than Australia’s 7% and Canada at 11.5%, but much less than in India, Singapore and the UK.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, placed New Zealand in a strict one-month lockdown on 26 March. No one was allowed to leave their home unless buying groceries, medicines, or taking an hour of exercise in their neighbourhood. At the time Ardern said the lockdown was necessary to control the spread of the virus and her priority was saving lives at any cost. Fewer than 2,000 people have become infected with the virus in New Zealand while 25 have died. The country’s efforts at containing the disease have been widely praised by epidemiologists around the world. The finance minister, Grant Robertson, said Thursday’s figures were “expected” and the result of the government’s “go hard, go early” response to the pandemic.

“This result was better than the treasury forecast of 16% and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Robertson said. “The June quarter includes almost the entire time New Zealand was in alert level 4 which we moved into on March 26 so this result is not surprising.” Robertson said economic analysts were predicting the September quarter to show “a record jump back to growth in the economy”.

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“This must be corrected. “The damage to me will be irreparable if the media reports that I harmed people, when it is not true,” he said.”

Julian Assange Interrupts Extradition Hearing Again (SMH)

Julian Assange has again interrupted his extradition hearing, claiming that he never put informants lives at risk, when he published hundreds of thousands of State Department documents on his WikiLeaks website. The 49-year-old intervened in his extradition hearing for the second time since it’s resumption at the Old Bailey in London last week, earning him another stern reprimand from the judge hearing his case. Assange cried out from the dock after lunchtime during evidence being given by former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the classified Pentagon Papers that revealed the US government knew it would not win the Vietnam War based on existing resources.

Ellsberg was pursed under the Espionage Act as is Assange. All charges against him were eventually dropped and he has become a vocal supporter of Assange as well as Chelsea Manning, who leaked to Assange the hacked files. Ellsberg also supports Edward Snowden who leaked classified documents he had access to as a CIA subcontractor. The United States government has asked Britain to extradite Assange to face 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act with most charges relating to computer hacking. However, the US government is pursuing Assange over the publication of unredacted documents which exposed the names of informants. The distinction the US government is repeatedly trying to make separates Assange from the press which also published information revealed by WikiLeaks but without naming journalists, human rights advocates and dissidents who were informing on their governments and repressive regimes.

Ellsberg confirmed that when he leaked his cache of documents, he withheld four volumes of documents. But he said that the only withheld these because they related to negotiations which he did not want to jeopardise. Assange’s outburst came as the QC representing the US government, James Lewis, was cross-examining Ellsberg. Lewis cited an Ethiopian journalist who fled the country after being interrogated and threatened once he was outed as having been a source for the United States. Lewis also read out media reporting of a Chinese national named in the WikiLeaks cables reported being harrassed by non-state groups. The Chinese national fled to the United States.

Ellsberg claimed to have never seen evidence that an informant exposed by WikiLeaks was harmed or killed in retaliation. “I find the government highly cynical … am I right in believing not one of them who was subject to threats or interrogation by these brutal and ruthless regimes actually suffered physical harm? “Were any of the threats carried out? Even one? Isn’t the answer no?” Ellsberg said. “The rules are you don’t get to ask questions, I do,” said Lewis. Assange also rejected the claims that he put lives at risk. “Through his rhetorical sleight of hand he is suggesting that I put lives at risk,” Assange said from the dock. “This must be corrected. “The damage to me will be irreparable if the media reports that I harmed people, when it is not true,” he said. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser reprimanded Assange, for the second time in as many weeks. “I have warned you about this before, you are not entitled to interfere like this,” she said.

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We all know this. Why does the US base its entire case now on this nonsense?

Claims Assange ‘Endangered Lives’ Rubbished In Extradition Hearing (Haddad)

A senior investigative journalist who worked on the release of thousands of military and diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks has rubbished prosecution claims that Julian Assange and his organisation put the lives of U.S. service members and informants at risk. John Goetz, an investigations editor with the German public broadcaster NDR, had been a reporter with Der Spiegel at the time of the releases between 2010 and 2011. That included the Afghan and Iraq war diaries, in addition to the release of U.S. diplomatic cables that came to be known as Cablegate. James Lewis QC, on behalf of the U.S. government, told the Old Bailey last week that Assange is not being prosecuted for receiving the documents, but because he risked lives with “reckless publication”.

Goetz told the court on Wednesday (September 16) that Assange and WikiLeaks in fact had a “very rigorous redaction process” – on occasion more censorious than the Pentagon when the same documents were released by Freedom of Information Act requests. As the lead investigative journalist for Der Spiegel, Goetz was among a handful of journalists to be invited to the Guardian’s “bunker” in London where they, alongside WikiLeaks and New York Times staff, worked on removing sensitive names from documents. Goetz said that redaction and what Assange called the “harm-minimisation process” was central from the very beginning of his involvement in June 2010 and how Eric Schmitt of The New York Times was tasked with contacting the White House prior to publication due to the newspaper’s location and existing relationship.

As a result of that early communication, WikiLeaks and the partner publications withheld 15,000 documents from the Afghan War Logs “to protect innocents being harmed,” he said. “It was communicated to the White House that 15,000 documents would not be published because of the harm minimisation process and that is what happened.” While media partners worked on redacting specific documents, Assange was concerned with a technological solution that could aid the process due to the high volume of documents that were being evaluated, it was added. The same redaction process continued during the later publication of the Iraq War Diary and the U.S. State Department cables, Goetz said, but that communication with the State Department was later ceased when the department realised they were in fact helping journalists find the most damaging stories by requesting which files were to be redacted.

Goetz said: “There was a conference call with State Department officials such as PJ Crowley and others and they expressed in the phone call the numbers of the documents they were concerned about. “We were writing the document numbers down and it was easy to look at the documents where there were sensitive names to see if there was any significant names that had to be redacted. “We were very happy to receive these names and in many ways it was quite interesting to know which documents they were concerned about, but there was a pause in the conversation and then they – [the State Department] – stopped talking to us because it was clear that they were giving us an index of the most interesting stories.”

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 172020
 


Claude Monet The Wooden Bridge 1872

 

One-Second Coronavirus Test Achieves 95% Success Rate (JP)
Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High (CNN)
Mueller Aide Weissmann Tells DOJ Attorneys Not To Help Investigators (Turley)
The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery (PJM)
A Reality-Based Look At Trump And The Post Office (York)
Washington’s Successful Vote-by-Mail System Wasn’t Built Overnight (CC)
Adam Schiff’s Inaccurate Russia Tweets Raise Double-Standard Question (JTN)
Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Record -27.8% Annual Rate (AP)
UK Housing Market Has Busiest Month In More Than 10 Years (G.)
New Zealand Delays General Election By A Month Amid COVID19 Outbreak (G.)
The Roots Of Wokeness (Sullivan)

 

 

What do you think about the post office narrative? Which side is trying to use it to influence the election?

How about the CNN poll that says all of a sudden Trump has closed the double digit gap to Biden? Is that the Kamala effect, or did CNN wake up to the realization that those huge gaps make people less likely to vote?

How about CNN’s -implied- claim that Biden voters are mpre enthusiastic than Trump voters? Does that ring true?

 

 

Can we move new global cases under 200,000? US new cases at the lowest since June 23. US deaths at “just” 522, but that complies with a weekend pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can anyone at all explain why these tests are not used all over the world? There are many rapid tests with comparable success rates. What are we waiting for? Does anyone understand why these tests are much more useful than the standard CPR ones? This is presented as a breakthrough, but it isn’t, really.

One-Second Coronavirus Test Achieves 95% Success Rate (JP)

An initial clinical trial of a coronavirus-testing technology that is believed to detect viruses in a fluid sample in less than a second has achieved a 95% success rate, according to data released last week from the trial performed at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. The test was designed by Newsight Imaging, a Ness Ziona-based start-up firm, and centers on a device that is about the size of a computer mouse, which can identify and classify evidence of a virus in the body in less than a second, using a sample of fluid – blood serum or saliva – inserted into a disposable test cuvette. In spectroscopy, a sample is tested with a broadband light source, Newsight CEO Eli Assoolin told The Jerusalem Post last month when it first received Sheba Medical Center’s IRB Ethics (“Helsinki”) Committee approval to conduct a pilot program for rapid COVID-19 detection tests.


The light that returns from the sample is analyzed to determine its wavelength content. “We collect the spectral signature after the light is absorbed in the sample, and then we can analyze the content of it,” he said, noting that spectral-analysis technology has already been used to identify certain human diseases and abnormalities. “Basically, on one side, you have the source of light, and on the other side, you have the sensor chip – a sensitive and fast camera that can see different wavelengths. In the middle, you put the sample,” Assoolin said. Prof. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba said that under laboratory conditions, the research team was clearly able to differentiate between COVID-19 samples that were positive and those that were negative, with a 95% accuracy rate. “For a new AI-based technology such as this, the results are quite encouraging,” Schwartz said.

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As the virtual Dem convention starts, CNN is in a bit of a bind. They’ve been reporting on various polls that all show Biden leading Trump by double-digit margins, but even their viewers haven’t forgotten how they predicted Hillary had a 95% chance of winning in 2016. And of course the problem with those wide margins is they make people wonder why they should vote, if the outcome is so clear.

So now there’s a poll that shows Trump is fast catching up (the Kamala effect?) , but not without adding the rather curious notion that “Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.”

Is there anyone who believes that Biden voters are more enthusiastic than Trump voters? Doesn’t that contradict everything we’ve seen?

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High (CNN)

Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump among registered voters has significantly narrowed since June, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, even as the former vice president maintains an advantage over the President on several top issues and his choice of California Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate earns largely positive reviews. And on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election, a new high in CNN polling in presidential election cycles back to 2003. Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%. It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%. The pool of battleground states in this poll includes more that Trump carried in 2016 (10) than were won by Hillary Clinton (5), reflecting the reality that the President’s campaign is more on defense than offense across the states. Taken together, though, they represent a more Republican-leaning playing field than the nation as a whole.


The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide). Trump has also solidified his partisans since June. While 8% of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents in June said they would back Biden, that figure now stands at just 4%. And the President has boosted his backing among conservatives from 76% to 85%.

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Weissmann likely doesn’t know what Clinesmith agreed to tell Durham in his guilty plea.

Weissmann’s your typical dirty cop/dirty lawyer. Rumor has it he was in charge of the Mueller probe, not Mueller himself. And yes, he has strong links to the Dems and Hillary.

Mueller Aide Weissmann Tells DOJ Attorneys Not To Help Investigators (Turley)

I recently wrote a column discussing how Democratic leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, have argued against continuing the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham despite growing evidence of misconduct by Justice Department officials and now the first guilty plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Now, Andrew Weissmann, one of the top prosecutors with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has derided the Clinesmith plea while actually calling on Justice Department attorneys to refuse to help on ongoing investigations that could implicate aspects of his own prior work. I was among those who expressed concern when Mueller selected Weissmann due to his history of controversial prosecutorial decisions, including a pattern of prosecutorial overreach in the Enron litigation.

Weissmann’s recent statements (made before the release of his new book on the Russian investigation) have only served to reaffirm those concerns. Recently, Weissmann wrote an extraordinary and disturbing New York Times op-ed (with former Defense Department special counsel Ryan Goodman). In the column, he appeared to call on Justice Department lawyers to undermine the Durham investigation as well as the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Bash’s investigation into the “unmasking” requests by Obama administration officials. They wrote “Justice Department employees in meeting their ethical and legal obligations, should be well advised not to participate in any such effort.”

Consider that line for a moment. Weissmann is openly calling on attorneys to refuse to help on investigations that could raise questions about his own decisions. Durham is looking at a pattern of errors, false statements, bias, and now criminal conduct in the Russian investigation. There is obviously overlap with the Mueller investigation which discussed many of the same underlying documents and relied on work by some of the same individuals. The failure to address misconduct, bias, or criminal conduct by such individuals would be embarrassing to both Weissmann and Mueller. Despite that obvious conflict of interest, Weissmann is calling on attorneys to stand down. It is the same troubling position that was once taken by Sally Yates, who told an entire federal agency not to assist the President in his travel ban.

[..] I believe that the public needs to have a full and transparent account of what happened in the Russian investigation on both sides. Like many, Weissmann would like transparency on only one side and to shutdown the Durham investigation despite Horowitz referring matters for criminal investigation and finding a host of false statements, errs, and professional misconduct. Even the addition of a criminal plea has not stopped Weissmann from denouncing this investigation. For years, I have criticized Weissmann’s record of dubious prosecutorial judgment, bias, and overreach. However, that case against Weissmann is not nearly as powerful as the case he is making against himself.

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What a crazy story.

The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery (PJM)

That dastardly Donald Trump is at it again. He is either the evilest man ever to hold the office of president or the dumbest. He is either a Machiavellian genius manipulating the media and his hypnotized followers or a bumbling know-nothing idiot. Trump is being accused of sabotaging the November elections because he won’t give the postal unions and incompetent managers in the postal service $25 billion to play with. The money will stave off catastrophe for about a year at the rate the USPS is burning through cash. Without that money, we’re informed by those in the know, thousands — no, tens of thousands — no, millions of voters who wait until the last minute to mail in an absentee ballot might not have their votes counted because, well, Trump.

The procrastinators in America are up in arms and plan a demonstration to show their outrage. But it probably won’t happen until after the election since that’s when they’ll eventually get around to it. The “crisis” in postal delivery presupposes that, prior to Trump’s shenanigans, the USPS was doing fine — nothing that a few tens of billions of taxpayer dollars couldn’t fix. In fact, that’s what the postal unions are saying. In a statement released on Saturday, the letter carriers and postal workers’ unions assure the public that even without the money, they can do the job. [..] So what’s all the hubbub about? The letter carriers say they can deliver the ballots on time. The postal employees claim they don’t need the extra cash. Where, pray tell, is there a “crisis”?


Nancy Pelosi knows. In fact, she’s about to call the members of the House of Representatives off the campaign trail and back to Washington to deal with the “crisis.” Politico: “Pelosi and other top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Democrats are looking to address organizational issues at the Postal Service in the coming weeks, not to provide additional funding at this time, according to sources familiar with the discussion.” Nothing says “crisis” in Washington quite like pulling politicians away from their campaigns for a political stunt like holding an “emergency” session of Congress.

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The USPS has been a mess for decades. Nothing to do with Trump. But yes, he does think the issue risks being used against him.

A Reality-Based Look At Trump And The Post Office (York)

The idea that the Postal Service will not be able to handle the volume of mail in the election, or not be able to handle it within normal Postal Service time guidelines, does not make much sense. According to its most recent annual report, last year, in fiscal year 2019, the Postal Service handled 142.5 billion pieces of mail. “On a typical day, our 633,000 employees physically process and deliver 471 million mailpieces to nearly 160 delivery points,” the report says. This year, that number is higher, given the Postal Service’s delivery of census forms and stimulus checks. Those alone added about 450 million additional pieces of mail.

In 2016, about 136 million Americans voted in the presidential election. The number will probably be a bit higher this year. If officials sent ballots to every single American registered to vote — about 158 million people — and then 140 million people returned ballots, the roughly 298 million pieces of mail handled over the course of several weeks would be well within the Postal Service’s ability to handle. Of course, officials will not send a ballot to every American registered to vote, and not every voter will vote by mail. Whatever the final number is, the ballots that are cast by mail will not cripple a system that delivers 471 million pieces of mail every day.

There are, of course, compelling examples of election dysfunction, most notably the mess New York made of some of its congressional primaries this summer. But rather than representing a Postal Service problem, that was because some states are unprepared for a dramatic increase of voting by mail. The states have to prepare the ballots, address them, and process and count them when the Postal Service delivers them. That is the focus of the entirely legitimate fears of a possible vote-counting disaster this year. But it’s not the Postal Service.

[..] The Postal Service is not funded by a regular appropriation. It is, instead, an “independent agency” and is expected to support itself, beyond a yearly appropriation of about $55 million to cover the costs of mail for the blind and overseas balloting in elections. The Postal Service has lost money for a very long time. In fiscal year 2019, it had operating revenues of $71.1 billion and operating expenses of $79.9 billion, leaving it with a deficit of $8.8 billion. At the moment, Postal Service officials have told Congress, it has about $14 billion in cash on hand, putting it on the road to fiscal insolvency (without further aid) in late 2021. In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the $2 trillion relief measure passed in March, Congress gave the Postal Service a $10 billion borrowing authority. After the bill became law, there were negotiations between the Postal Service and the Treasury Department on the terms of the borrowing; a deal was announced in July.

The ability to borrow $10 billion, the postmaster general said, would “delay the approaching liquidity crisis.” [..] The House HEROES Act would give $25 billion to the Postal Service in what is essentially a bailout. The bill mentions nothing about helping the Postal Service handle the upcoming election or any other election. Indeed, the only stipulation at all placed on the $25 billion is that the Postal Service, “during the coronavirus emergency, shall prioritize the purchase of, and make available to all Postal Service employees and facilities, personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, and sanitizers, and shall conduct additional cleaning and sanitizing of Postal Service facilities and delivery vehicles.” If the House Democrats who wrote and passed the bill intended the money to be spent specifically for elections, they did not say so in the text of the legislation.

Jie Boden

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From April, but highly appropriate. We’ve discussed this in the Comments, and I keep thinking that one, or a few, states having a working model doesn’t mean it’s endlessly scalable.

Washington’s Successful Vote-by-Mail System Wasn’t Built Overnight (CC)

State officials across the nation are turning to Washington state for advice on how to set up a vote-by-mail system before the November presidential election, but officials say that question is just the first of many they should be asking. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who is in charge of Washington’s election system, and King County Elections Director Julie Wise, who runs elections in the county where more than a third of Washington voters fill out a ballot, said the list of questions other states need to answer in order to effectively implement vote-by-mail is long and complicated. And mid-April may be too late to start making the switch from a mostly in-person system to a vote-at-home configuration, said Wise, who worked on in-person voting for a decade before moving, along with the state of Washington, to vote-by-mail elections in 2011.

“We’ve been at it for a decade. It’s not an easy lift to make that transition,” said Wise, between meetings to plan for a November election that could change dramatically — even in one of the nation’s five vote-by-mail states — because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. “You’re cutting it very short,” was her response to recent inquiries from other states and counties, in addition to sharing a packet of information about how King County votes by mail, from the technology to the people. Among the questions other states and municipalities should be asking, according to Wyman and Wise:


• Do we need to buy new equipment to count the votes? • Do we have current addresses of our voters? Have we tried to mail them anything recently? • How recent are the signature cards from voters? Do we need to ask millions of people to fill out new ones? • Do we have a place to count votes that can accommodate the people needed to verify ballots and count them, while allowing for social distancing? • What state laws would we need to change in order to allow for most votes to be cast by mail? • Will we provide free postage? • How much will that cost? • Will we provide drop boxes and, if so, how many? • Do we need to set up some in-person sites for people to vote or register and how can you do that while accounting for social distancing? • How much will this transition cost? Where will the money come from? And that’s just the beginning of the list.

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It’s not just his tweets. Schiff and the Dems have been getting away for so long with utter falsehoods they themselves may not even recognize them as such anymore. And who’s going to call them on it now? The MSM have been getting away with the exact same thing. But what use is it to go for a soft touch approach like this from John Solomon? Just say Schiff’s a blatant liar. Because he is. And opther people, like a journalist, may claim innocence, but the chair of the House Intelligence Committee can definitely not.

Adam Schiff’s Inaccurate Russia Tweets Raise Double-Standard Question (JTN)

Twitter has on more than one occasion appended or flagged President Trump’s tweets as misleading. But so far, it has not done the same with several posts by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff that are demonstrably false or misleading, raising questions of a double standard. For instance, Schiff tweeted in July 2018 that “the release of the Carter Page FISA application makes clear, once again, the FBI acted lawfully and appropriately” in reference to the surveillance warrant the bureau used to spy on the Trump adviser during the Russia collusion probe. In fact, the FISA application that Schiff referred to in the tweet contained 51 statements that were inaccurate, misleading or undocumented, and included 17 violations of FBI rules ranging from false and unverified information to omissions of exculpatory evidence of innocence, the Justice Department inspector general reported last December.

Likewise, DOJ officials withdrew two of the four Page FISA applications, and the chief judge of the FISA court ruled in March that the FBI has misled the court. “There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said. And last week, an ex-FBI lawyer agreed to plead guilty to a felony and admitted he falsified a document to deceive the court. In other words, the FBI acted unlawfully and inappropriately in the Page FISA debacle. And to date, Twitter hasn’t flagged or appended Schiff’s tweet even though he has enormous influence on the platform with 2.4 million followers.

Just the News identified more than a dozen tweets that Schiff has posted since 2017 that are inaccurate or misleading based on the declassified information that has been made public over the last year by the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community. Earlier this month, for instance, Schiff tweeted out a claim that Trump had not taken action to stop Russia from interfering in elections. “Donald Trump has never deterred Russia from interfering in U.S. elections. Far from it. The sum total of Trump’s words and actions has only encouraged Russian meddling in our elections,” Schiff wrote.

[..] Several times, Schiff has tweeted claims that there is evidence Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election. For instance, the California Democrat posted a tweet in April 2018 accusing Republicans of ignoring “when in plain sight — evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Multiple investigations ranging from the Senate Intelligence Committee to Special Counsel Robert Mueller have concluded there is no evidence any Trump campaign official – or any other American – colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. “The investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired to coordinate it with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mueller wrote, saying extensive contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians did not amount to a conspiracy.

Then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr last year came to a similar conclusion. “We don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” he announced.

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Again, it’s not the lockdowns:

“Private consumption dipped at an annual rate of nearly 29% as shoppers stayed home, leaving malls and restaurants nearly empty of customers. That was without any full shutdown of businesses to contain coronavirus outbreaks [..]”

Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Record -27.8% Annual Rate (AP)

Japan’s economy shrank at annual rate of 27.8% in April-June, the worst contraction on record, as the coronavirus pandemic slammed consumption and trade, according to government data released Monday. The Cabinet Office reported that Japan’s preliminary seasonally adjusted real GDP, the sum of a nation’s goods and services, fell 7.8% quarter on quarter. The annual rate shows what the number would have been if continued for a year. Japanese media reported the latest drop was the worst since World War II. But the Cabinet Office said comparable records began in 1980. The previous worst contraction, a 17.8% drop, was in the first quarter of 2009, during the global financial crisis.

The world’s third largest economy was already limping along when the virus outbreak struck in China late last year. It has weakened as the pandemic gained ground, leading to social distancing restrictions and prompting many people to stay home when they can. “In April, May, a state of emergency was issued, it was a situation where the economy was artificially stopped so to speak, and the impact was severe,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister Economic and Fiscal Policy. “These are tough numbers but they bottomed out in April and May, we would like to put all our efforts into returning to a growth trajectory,” Nishimura told reporters.


[..] The economy shrank 0.6% in the January-March period, and contracted 1.8% in the October-December period last year, meaning that Japan slipped into recession in the first quarter of this year. Recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. [..] Japanese economic growth was flat in July-September. Growth was minimal the quarter before that. [..] For the April-June period, Japan’s exports dropped at a whopping annual rate of 56%. Private consumption dipped at an annual rate of nearly 29% as shoppers stayed home, leaving malls and restaurants nearly empty of customers. That was without any full shutdown of businesses to contain coronavirus outbreaks [..]

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In a bit of a dip? No panic, let’s blow another housing bubble. The instrument this time is a stamp duty holiday.

UK Housing Market Has Busiest Month In More Than 10 Years (G.)

The housing market has had its busiest month in more than 10 years in July, with the traditional summer lull replaced by a flurry of activity from buyers and sellers, according to the property website Rightmove. The site, which typically lists about 95% of homes for sale in the UK, said the “rulebook has been rewritten”, with the boom fuelled by pent-up demand during lockdown accelerating as the summer has progressed. It said the number of monthly sales agreed in Britain had been the highest since it started tracking the figure a decade ago, up by 38% on the same period last year and worth a combined total of more than £37bn. Would-be sellers were also active, with more properties coming on to the market than in any month since 2008.

Asking prices have fallen by an average of 0.2% across mainland Britain, but this has been driven by a 2% drop in London, where the number of homes coming on to the market is up by 69% year-on-year. In seven regions, asking prices hit record highs as sellers sought to make the most of the demand. The housing market was closed in lockdown and reopened in mid-May, sparking a flurry of activity. July brought a stamp duty holiday on homes costing up to £500,000 in England and £250,000 in Wales and Scotland, which further fuelled activity.


Last week figures from the UK’s largest estate agency firm, Countrywide, showed that demand for homes costing between £500,000 and £750,000 had soared since the tax break was announced, and Rightmove’s figures suggest a similar effect for other agents. The number of sales agreed for large homes was up by 59% annually, while for first-time properties the rise was 29% and on homes with three or four bedrooms, excluding four-bed detached properties, it was 38%.

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She didn’t want to do it.

New Zealand Delays General Election By A Month Amid COVID19 Outbreak (G.)

New Zealand is to delay its general election by a month due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland, the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said. Calls had been growing from opposition parties for the election to be moved, with opposition leaders saying it wasn’t “just and fair” to hold an election while an outbreak was underway and level 3 restrictions were in place in the country’s largest city, prohibiting campaigning. Ardern said after consulting with every political party in parliament, as well as the electoral commission, she had decided to move the general election from 19 September to 17 October. She said her first suggestion of moving it by two weeks had been rejected by the Electoral Commission as not enough time to prepare logistics such as venues.

“The Electoral Commission, via the Ministry of Justice, has advised me that a safe and accessible election is achievable on this date,” Ardern said. “Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays.” Ardern said Covid-19 would be with the world “for some time to come” and repeatedly pushing the election date would not lessen the risk of disruption to voters and parties. “This is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at level 2, and with some parts at level 3. I will not change the election date again.” New Zealand is in the midst of its first outbreak since eliminating the disease in June, with dozens of people infected and held in quarantine in Auckland, a city of 1.5 million.


On Monday nine news cases of Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total number of cases related to the south Auckland cluster to 58. Maori and Pasifika people have been disproportionately infected by the latest outbreak. Five people were in hospital being treated for the disease, and the source of the outbreak remained a mystery, the ministry of health said. “We still don’t have any particular clues as to the origin of the outbreak,” director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

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Must read for today. How do new words enter our lexicon? To what extent are they propagated, and by whom, and for which purposes? Ever heard of critical theory?

In my view, this typifies the institutionalization of education and knowledge. Which claims that the only things that you can learn that are of any value are to be found in schools. Say that often enough and nothing of value can be found there anymore. Knowledge as a monopoly doesn’t work.

The Roots Of Wokeness (Sullivan)

In the mid-2010s, a curious new vocabulary began to unspool itself in our media. A data site, storywrangling.org, which measures the frequency of words in news stories, revealed some remarkable shifts. Terms that had previously been almost entirely obscure suddenly became ubiquitous—and an analysis of the New York Times, using these tools, is a useful example. Looking at stories from 1970 to 2018, several terms came out of nowhere in the past few years to reach sudden new heights of repetition and frequency. Here’s a list of the most successful neologisms: non-binary, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, traumatizing, queer, transphobia, whiteness, mansplaining. And here are a few that were rising in frequency in the last decade but only took off in the last few years: triggering, hurtful, gender, stereotypes.

Language changes, and we shouldn’t worry about that. Maybe some of these terms will stick around. But the linguistic changes have occurred so rapidly, and touched so many topics, that it has all the appearance of a top-down re-ordering of language, rather than a slow, organic evolution from below. While the New York Times once had a reputation for being a bit stodgy on linguistic matters, pedantic, precise and slow-to-change, as any paper of record might be, in the last few years, its pages have been flushed with so many neologisms that a reader from, say, a decade ago would have a hard time understanding large swathes of it. And for many of us regular readers, we’ve just gotten used to brand new words popping up suddenly to re-describe something we thought we knew already. We notice a new word, make a brief mental check, and move on with our lives.

But we need to do more than that. We need to understand that all these words have one thing in common: they are products of an esoteric, academic discipline called critical theory, which has gained extraordinary popularity in elite education in the past few decades, and appears to have reached a cultural tipping point in the middle of the 2010s. Most normal people have never heard of this theory—or rather an interlocking web of theories—that is nonetheless changing the very words we speak and write and the very rationale of the institutions integral to liberal democracy. What we have long needed is an intelligible, intelligent description of this theory which most people can grasp. And we’ve just gotten one: “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity,” by former math prof James Lindsay and British academic, Helen Pluckrose. It’s as deep a dive into this often impenetrable philosophy as anyone would want to attempt. But it’s well worth grappling with.

What the book helps the layperson to understand is the evolution of postmodern thought since the 1960s until it became the doctrine of Social Justice today. Beginning as a critique of all grand theories of meaning—from Christianity to Marxism—postmodernism is a project to subvert the intellectual foundations of western culture. The entire concept of reason—whether the Enlightenment version or even the ancient Socratic understanding—is a myth designed to serve the interests of those in power, and therefore deserves to be undermined and “problematized” whenever possible. Postmodern theory does so mischievously and irreverently—even as it leaves nothing in reason’s place. The idea of objective truth—even if it is viewed as always somewhat beyond our reach—is abandoned. All we have are narratives, stories, whose meaning is entirely provisional, and can in turn be subverted or problematized.

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Jun 182020
 


NPC Grand Palace shoe shining parlor, Washington DC 1921

 

Vitamin D New Hope In The War On Corona (DM)
Doctors Can Still Prescribe HCQ to Patients – US Health Secretary (N18)
New Zealand Reports Fresh Corona Case, More Quarantine Breaches Emerge (G.)
Beijing COVID19 Cluster May Have Begun A Month Earlier – Health Official (G.)
China Reports 28 New Coronavirus Cases In Mainland (R.)
Sweden Says Herd Immunity “Surprisingly Slow” To Develop (ZH)
Dr. Fauci, Health Officials Flag Coronavirus Risk Of Trump’s Tulsa Rally (CNBC)
Coronavirus Is Killing Our Economy Because It Was Already Sick (Levitz)
Massive Spying On Users Of Google’s Chrome Shows New Security Weakness (R.)
Arrest Of Former Japanese Minister Could Hasten PM Abe’s Departure (R.)
Sidney Powell Files Motion Against Gleeson: A ‘Wrap-Up Smear’ of Flynn (SAC)
Bolton Says Trump Asked China To Help Him Get Reelected (AP)

 

 

It was a long travel day yesterday, with an empty train and two almost deserted airports. Amsterdam Airport was running at maybe 20% of capacity, if that. Athens was empty in the evening.

But in between there was a full plane, with both the Dutch government and the airline bragging about the pathogen-killing capacities of the (Boeing 737, not MAX) plane’s air-circulation systems.

Once arrived in Athens, demands were much less stringent than announced in advance. There was no one night mandatory quarantine demand, it appeared to be a voluntary one. Write down your address (hotel) in Athens, and your phone #, get tested, we may or may not call you the next day, and off I was in a cab to the apartment I always stay in here.

It all seems a little risky, but the people at the airport also seemed a little overwhelmed, and they will soon have to deal with much larger crowds. We can only hope that it will work out alright.

I’m not sure I’m quite back yet (late in getting up, and lost an hour due to the timezone), but I did pick up a few stories.

Hoping the change of scenery, and meeting with my friends here, will do me good. 3 months of near total isolation is a lot.

 

 

I’m sure you didn’t miss that while I was missing, global daily new cases set a whole new whopper of a record. And it came as we were all hoping the trend was turning downward.

After all, June 15 was 124,600. But then June 16 was 142.557.

 

 

As global daily new deaths almost doubled from one day to the next (they came back down to 5,264 yesterday):

 

 

But that was largely due to a “correction” in India:

 

 

Forward to today, June 18. Worldometer reports new cases for June 17 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 141,872.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 26,073
• Brazil + 31,475
• Russia + 7,790
• India + 13,802

 

 

Cases 8,425,191 (+ 283,802 from June 16’s 8,141,389)

Deaths 451,808 (+ 12,103 from June 16’s 439,705)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing new here for Automatic Earth readers. Try get vit. D while you can, if you haven’t stored up yet. Get the tablets, not just the sun and fish. Especially if you’re not pale white.

Vitamin D New Hope In The War On Corona (DM)

Nearly 99 per cent of Covid-19 patients who are vitamin D deficient die, according to a terrifying study that adds to mounting evidence that the ‘sunshine’ nutrient could be a coronavirus life-saver. Scientists in Indonesia analysed hospital records of 780 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Results revealed 98.9 per cent of infected patients defined as vitamin D deficient — below 20ng/ml — died. Yet this fell to just 4.1 per cent for patients who had enough of the nuResearchers warned the study was not definitive, however, because the patients with high vitamin D levels were healthier and younger. It comes as health chiefs are urgently reviewing the use of vitamin D as a coronavirus lifesaver, with several studies suggesting that Covid-19 patients are far more likely to die if they have a deficiency.

One investigation – carried out by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge – found European countries with lower vitamin D levels have had significantly more pandemic casualties. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is conducting a ‘rapid evidence review’ of the issue – and publication is expected as early as next week. One in five British adults and one in six children is lacking in vitamin D, thanks to poor diets, indoor lifestyles and lack of sunshine. Experts fear that the lockdown and months of indoor living have cut levels even further. Some ethnic groups tend to be at higher risk because their skin is less able to make the vitamin in response to sunlight. And older people are also in danger because the body gets less efficient at producing the vitamin with age.

[..] Data in a Public Health England report showed that the mortality rate – the number of people dying with the coronavirus out of each 100,000 people – was considerably higher for black men than other group. The risk for black women, people of Asian ethnicity, and mixed race people was also higher than for white people of either sex. People with non-white skin are also at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency because it takes them longer to make it from sunlight [..]

Read more …

And this story keeps just going on. But Automatic Earth resident GP John Day can at least continue to do what he thinks is best.

Doctors Can Still Prescribe HCQ to Patients – US Health Secretary (N18)

Doctors can still prescribe anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to patients, US Health Secretary Alex Azar said, hours after the FDA withdrew the emergency use authorisation of chloroquine and HCQ in the treatment of COVID 19 patients. The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision came on Monday after it concluded that the anti-malarial drugs may not be effective to cure the virus infections and lead to greater risks than any potential benefits. “At this point, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine are just like any other approved drug in the United States. They may be used in hospital, they may be used in out-patient, they may be used at home, all subject to a doctor’s prescription,” Azar said.


“In fact, the FDA’s removal of the Emergency Use Authorization takes away what had been a significant misunderstanding by many that had made people think that somehow it could only be used in a hospital setting, and we’ve tried to make that clear throughout,” he said in response to a question. During a White House media appearance with President Donald Trump, Azar asserted that HCQ was approved in the United States. “If a doctor wishes to prescribe it, working with a patient, they may prescribe it for any purpose that they wish to do so. And, this (FDA’s decision) actually removes a potential barrier to them,” the health secretary said.

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It’s not easy being green.

New Zealand Reports Fresh Corona Case, More Quarantine Breaches Emerge (G.)

A fresh coronavirus case has been reported in New Zealand as officials scramble to contain the fallout from Tuesday’s embarrassing quarantine breach and reports emerge of people disappearing after leaving isolation early. Thursday’s case – the third to emerge this week after a 24-day streak of no cases – was a man in his 60s who arrived in Auckland from Pakistan on 13 June on Flight NZ124, transiting through Doha and Melbourne. Officials were contacting all passengers on the flight and have alerted overseas counterparts for the other flights, said Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health. The man was wearing a mask on all flights and was now in a quarantine facility in Auckland, Bloomfield said.

It came as police said six people absconded from managed isolation after being granted compassionate leave from Covid-19 quarantine to attend a funeral in Hamilton. And TVNZ reported that a birthday party for a girl in isolation brought people together who should not have been mingling. Bloomfield was forced to apologise on Thursday after initially claiming the sisters behind Tuesday’s new cases had not contacted anyone during their road trip from Wellington to Auckland. It was revealed late on Wednesday that they came into contact with at least two friends who helped them after they got lost on a motorway.

[..] On Tuesday, New Zealand recorded its first new cases of the virus for 24 days after the two New Zealanders, sisters returning after travelling to the UK, were found to be infected. The pair, who were permitted to leave their managed isolation early to visit a dying parent, had not been tested. Since then more reports have emerged. A Christchurch funeral director told Stuff that about 10 people had been let out of quarantine early to attend one of the funerals it had arranged on Tuesday. Steve Parkyn, chief executive of funeral directors Lamb and Hayward, said he refused to let them attend the service after being contacted by health authorities, but they joined mourners at the burial, accompanied by a health official. Around 200 people attended the funeral.

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I said on Tuesday that: “Given how fast it spread in the past 2-3 days, it’s obvious the disease had been present for a 1 or 2 weeks.”

Beijing COVID19 Cluster May Have Begun A Month Earlier – Health Official (G.)

Beijing’s cluster of new cases may have begun a month earlier than first thought, partly due to asymptomatic infections, according to the director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Amid tight restrictions to stop the spread of the capital’s cluster, which now numbers more than 150 cases, Gao Fu said the outbreak probably did not occur in early June or late May, but probably a month earlier, according to state media. Gao said the volume of asymptomatic cases detected in the outbreak may be partially responsible, but that further investigation was needed. “A lot of asymptomatic or mild cases were detected in this outbreak and that is why the environment has such amount of virus,” said Gao at a seminar in Shanghai on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Beijing reported 21 new cases of Covid-19, down slightly from the 31 reported on Wednesday. There were two additional cases in Hebei province that were also linked to the Beijing cluster. The city on Thursday ordered all hotels be shut down, as well as restaurants in high-risk areas. Officials said Beijing was not under lockdown but urged all residents not to travel or gather unnecessarily, and pledged to ensure continued food supply. “We are now at a critical time for the prevention and control of the epidemic,” an official said of the outbreak, which centred on a Xinfadi wholesale food market A further five residential compounds were designated at higher risk on Thursday, bringing the total number to 32, including one high risk and 31 medium risk.

More than 356,000 people have been tested in a five-day period, with entire neighbourhoods walled in or under entry monitoring. Schools have been closed flights cancelled, and travel in and out of the city restricted. On Wednesday the emergency response level was raised from level three to level two.

Read more …

They’ve allowed it to spread for a few weeks. I love the assertion that salmon imported from Europe was the culprit. I tried my smell test on that, and it failed spectacularly.

China Reports 28 New Coronavirus Cases In Mainland (R.)

China reported 28 new coronavirus cases in the mainland as of end-June 17, 21 of which were in the capital of Beijing, the country’s health commission said on Thursday. The National Health Commission said four of the 28 cases were so-called imported ones involving travellers from overseas, and that there were 8 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases. A day earlier, the commission reported 44 confirmed cases, 11 of which were imported, and 11 asymptomatic cases. The total number of confirmed cases stands at 83,293. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,634. China does not count asymptomatic patients – those who are infected with the coronavirus but have no symptoms – as confirmed coronavirus cases.

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1,200 new cases yesterday in Sweden, 100 new deaths. And the guy responsible remains popular. Propaganda works.

Sweden Says Herd Immunity “Surprisingly Slow” To Develop (ZH)

Despite allowing its economy and schools to remain open during the coronavirus outbreak, Sweden is finding that the incidence of COVID-19 antibodies among its population is still surprisingly uncommon, suggesting that the country hasn’t yet reached the point of “herd immunity”, unlike other European countries which embraced much more drastic measures to stop the spread and the deaths. Speaking to the nation during an interview on a Swedish radio station, Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s government epidemiologist and architect of its coronavirus containment strategy (a model that Goldman analysts claim wouldn’t work elsewhere in Europe or in the US), noted that the development of herd immunity is taking much longer than expected. Per Tegnell: “the trends in immunity have been surprisingly slow.” He also says “it’s difficult to explain why this is so.”

To be sure, Tegnell noted, there is “always a lag in all such measurements,” and the percentage of the population with detectable COVID antibodies is likely higher today than it was a few weeks ago, when a surveillance test carried out by a private Swedish company found that only 14% of Swedes have antibodies, compared to more than 50% of Italians in some of the hardest-hit parts of Northern Italy. Critics of Sweden’s strategy have been more vocal lately now that the country’s death toll has surpassed the 5,000 mark, leaving Sweden with a mortality rate well above its Nordic neighbors. As the country’s mortality rate has climbed in recent weeks, polls have reflected a growing dissatisfaction among Swedes with the government’s handling of the virus, though Tegnell’s approach remains broadly popular.

To be sure, Tegnell has acknowledged that some mistakes were made, and has said if he could do it over, he would have done some things differently, including directing more resources toward protecting the most vulnerable. But he never disavowed his approach, as some English-language media outlets have twisted his words. For those who don’t understand the concept of ‘herd immunity’, Bloomberg created a helpful illustration. Even readers who think they understand how it works should probably take a look.

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After the mass protests, this has zero value. I can only guess at the reason to do it indoors, but better control might be it, in view of the protests.

Dr. Fauci, Health Officials Flag Coronavirus Risk Of Trump’s Tulsa Rally (CNBC)

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci as well as other health officials are raising concerns that President Donald Trump’s upcoming campaign rally in Tulsa will become a hotbed for coronavirus infections. The rally, Trump’s first since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. over three months ago, is slated to take place Saturday in a 20,000-person indoor arena. Asked whether he would attend the rally, Fauci said in an interview published late Tuesday by the Daily Beast, “of course not,” adding that when it comes to mass gatherings, “outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd.”


Studies have shown that the virus spreads more easily in crowded, poorly ventilated, indoor spaces than it does outside. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb echoed Fauci’s concerns Wednesday in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “Personally, I wouldn’t attend a large gathering right now, especially one indoors. Certainly things held indoors are less safe than things held outdoors,” Gottlieb said. “But all these large gatherings are going to lead to spread. There’s just no question about it.”

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I guess it’s an OK piece.

Coronavirus Is Killing Our Economy Because It Was Already Sick (Levitz)

Channeling investment into genuinely productive projects gets harder once you’ve picked the low-hanging industrial fruit. And this challenge is all the greater in a context where the purchasing power of ordinary people has been systematically depressed: Simply put, when the vast majority of workers have little discretionary income, profitable business ideas are harder to find (businesses need paying customers, after all). Thus, at a certain point, wage suppression stops aiding growth and starts inhibiting it. In their (excellent) new book, Peking University economist Michael Pettis and Barron’s columnist Matthew Klein argue that China’s iteration of the invest-led development model has been obsolete for more than a decade.

Unwilling or incapable of enacting reforms that would increase wages — and thus, consumption — Beijing has sustained employment and GDP growth by financing useless capital investments. Instead of giving ordinary Chinese people the financial means to assert their material wants and needs — and then enabling investment to flow into enterprises that fulfill those mass desires — China is building housing developments in cities without people. In the U.S., the supply-side model has produced similar (if less egregious) imbalances. Before the coronavirus pandemic, record-high corporate profits coincided with aberrantly low business investment. As Republican Senator Marco Rubio lamented last year, America’s “nonfinancial corporate business sector routinely spends more on buying financial assets than on capital development.”

Many factors have contributed to this outcome. But the fact that America’s ultrarich have commandeered the bulk of the past four decades of income growth is surely one. [This] was a choice. With strong labor rights, high minimum wages, and more post-tax redistribution, the bottom 90 percent of U.S. households could have seen their incomes rise steadily over the past half-century. In that world, the typical American family would have less debt and more disposable income. And that mass purchasing power would allow the economy to support a wider array of businesses and services.= We opted for a different path. The U.S. slashed taxes on the wealthy, undermined unions, and left its social safety net remaining exceptionally threadbare.

As a result, America’s economic elites ended up with more income than they could spend or profitably invest in productive enterprises. So, they bid up the price of urban real estate, and bankrolled the development of socially useless financial innovation. Instead of directing the gains of growth toward better meeting the wants and needs of ordinary Americans, we built 1,000-foot towers full of perpetually empty luxury apartments that Russian criminals could use for money laundering.

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There should be huge penalties for things like this, but there never will be, because the CIA and its ilk find it far too valuable.

Massive Spying On Users Of Google’s Chrome Shows New Security Weakness (R.)

A newly discovered spyware effort attacked users through 32 million downloads of extensions to Google’s market-leading Chrome web browser, researchers at Awake Security told Reuters, highlighting the tech industry’s failure to protect browsers as they are used more for email, payroll and other sensitive functions. Alphabet Inc’s Google said it removed more than 70 of the malicious add-ons from its official Chrome Web Store after being alerted by the researchers last month. “When we are alerted of extensions in the Web Store that violate our policies, we take action and use those incidents as training material to improve our automated and manual analyses,” Google spokesman Scott Westover told Reuters.


Most of the free extensions purported to warn users about questionable websites or convert files from one format to another. Instead, they siphoned off browsing history and data that provided credentials for access to internal business tools. Based on the number of downloads, it was the most far-reaching malicious Chrome store campaign to date, according to Awake co-founder and chief scientist Gary Golomb. Google declined to discuss how the latest spyware compared with prior campaigns, the breadth of the damage, or why it did not detect and remove the bad extensions on its own despite past promises to supervise offerings more closely.

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“Abe cannot last,” said an LDP lawmaker who, like other politicians interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity. “He probably cannot last until the year-end.”

Arrest Of Former Japanese Minister Could Hasten PM Abe’s Departure (R.)

The arrest of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s former justice minister could be a devastating blow for the Japanese leader whose support is near record lows, raising the possibility of his departure before the end of his term next year. Some in Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are speaking of an early exit and rivals have stepped up manoeuvring to succeed him, party sources said. While Abe has rebounded from low ratings before, Japan’s longest-ruling prime minister now appears to be losing more internal support. Prosecutors on Thursday arrested former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai, a one-time foreign policy adviser close to Abe, and Kawai’s wife, Anri, on suspicion of vote-buying in a 2019 upper-house election.


Tokyo prosecutors said in a statement that the couple paid 1.7 million yen ($15,904) to five people to get her elected. Separately, Katsuyuki Kawai gave a total of about 24 million yen to about 90 people. At the time, Anri Kawai’s campaign received 150 million yen ($1.4 million) in funds from LDP headquarters. The size of the contribution, although not illegal, raised questions about whether Abe approved it. Abe has declined to comment on the Kawais, but has said lawmakers had the responsibility to explain their actions. “Abe cannot last,” said an LDP lawmaker who, like other politicians interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity. “He probably cannot last until the year-end.”

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Almost entirely out of view of the mainstream media, the Flynn story churns on. I predict it will explode in their faces.

Sidney Powell Files Motion Against Gleeson: A ‘Wrap-Up Smear’ of Flynn (SAC)

Sidney Powell, the defense attorney for Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, filed a scathing response in the court Wednesday against federal Judge John Gleeson’s amicus brief, which asked the court to reject the Justice Department’s request to drop all charges against Flynn. Powell’s motion is powerful and contains a lengthy time-line revealing the stunning evidence discovered by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as well as, the litany of new evidence uncovered by U.S. Attorney Jeffery Jensen, who was appointed by the Justice Department to conduct an independent review of Flynn’s case. Powell argues in her brief that the “irony and sheer duplicity” of Gleeson’s accusations “against the Justice Department now—which is finally exposing the truth—is stunning.”

Gleeson submitted his lengthy brief on July 10, on behalf of D.C. Federal Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who appointed him as the amicus and is refusing to drop the case against Flynn. He is doing all this despite the fact that both the Justice Department and defense agree the charges should be dropped against President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor. Powell also pointed out in her motion of opposition Wednesday that Gleeson’s amicus filing on behalf of Sullivan is a “wrap-up smear” against Flynn.

“It demonstrates the difference between a Department of Prosecutions and a Department of Justice,” Powell argues in her conclusion regarding Gleeson’s amicus. “It shows how the Department of Justice, as the government’s representative in every federal criminal case, has the power to walk into courtrooms and ask judges to remedy injustices. For these reasons and those stated in our other briefs, the only lawful action this court can take is to dismiss the case with prejudice on the Government’s motion and vacate the plea.”

Further Powell states in her motion, that Gleeson’s “Amicus elides the reality of the egregious government misconduct of the FBI Agents—particularly that of [former FBI Director James] Comey, {Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, [former Special Agent Peter] Strzok, [Former FBI Attorney Lisa] Page, [FBI Special Agent] Joe Pientka, [former FBI Assistant of Counterintelligence Bill] Priestap and others who met repeatedly to pursue the targeted “take-out” of General Flynn for their political reasons and those of the “entirety lame duck usic.” Much of this has been revealed in the December 19, 2019, IG Report, the 86 pages of newly produced exonerating material produced by U.S. Attorney Jensen, filed in the Government’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 198), and hundreds of the texts between Strzok and Page demonstrating abject bias.”

“Amicus is lost down the rabbit hole on the other side of the looking glass— where “nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would,” argues Powell. Last week, Powell argued before the U.S. District Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit against Sullivan’s decision to appoint Gleeson. She noted that the government submitted an extensive and thoroughly documented motion to dismiss this prosecution based on the discovery of “extraordinary exculpatory evidence that came to light from an independent review… It can not go on any longer.”

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Look, we know in advance how the MSM will spiel this. And those are all the same people who for years, as it fit their goals, presented Bolton to you as the most dangerous man in America. Now Bolton is your friend. Because he says something negative about Trump, and that’s something half the nation can’t get enough of. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it dumps Trump.

Still, to rehash the failed impeachment probe and state that Trump was impeached, well, maybe that’s another level.

As for the claim that Trump asked Xi to help him in elections, that doesn’t pass my personal smell test. It makes no sense at all. It likely only does for those who still believe Trump asked Putin the same, and choose to fully disregard Mueller’s report to get there. But sure, I know I will be accused-again- of being biased for saying this.

A “journalist” named Eli Lake tweeted: “According to Bolton, Trump privately told China’s tyrant that he should keep building concentration camps for Uighurs. That is an obscenity. He deserves to lose every state in November.” I’m sorry, but if you believe that, you need to get professional help as much as Bolton and Eli Lake do.

Bolton Says Trump Asked China To Help Him Get Reelected (AP)

President Donald Trump “pleaded” with China’s Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects, according to a scathing new book by former Trump adviser John Bolton that accuses the president of being driven by political calculations when making national security decisions. The White House worked furiously to block the book, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order Wednesday against its release. Bolton’s allegations that Trump solicited Chinese help for his reelection effort carried echoes of Trump’s attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment.

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton wrote. The 577-page book paints an unvarnished portrait of Trump and his administration, amounting to the most vivid, first-person account yet of how Trump conducts himself in office. Several other former officials have written books, but most have been flattering about the president. Other former officials have indicated they were saving their accounts of their time working for Trump until after he left office in order to speak more candidly. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Bolton’s book in advance of its release next week.

Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser for a 17-month period, called Trump’s attempt to shift the June 2019 conversation with Xi to the U.S. election a stunning move, and wrote that it was among innumerable conversations that he found concerning. He added that Congress should have expanded the scope of its impeachment inquiry to these other incidents. [..] Trump was asked about the book Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” He turned to personal insults, calling Bolton a “washed-up guy. I gave him a chance.” He also took issue with copies of the book being released. “He broke the law. Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken.” Trump said. “It’s highly classified information and he did not have approval.”

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 162020
 


Gustave Dore Dante and the Angel of the Church before the Door of Purgatory 1868

 

Biden Appears Likely To Pick Kamala Harris As VP (Mcleod)
Gaslighted by the Ruling Class (Chris Hedges)
New Zealand Ends Covid-Free Run With Two Cases From UK (G.)
China Reports 40 New Coronavirus Cases In Mainland, 27 In Beijing (R.)
Virus-Hit Beijing Tightens Outbound Travel; Shanghai Demands Quarantine (R.)
FDA Warns Against Combination Of HCQ And Remdesivir (R.)
FDA Revokes Emergency Use Status For HCQ To Treat COVID19 (R.)
Fed Says It Is Going To Start Buying Individual Corporate Bonds (CNBC)
Fed Launches Long-Awaited Main Street Lending Program (R.)
Hong Kong Chief Says Opponents Of Security Law Are “Enemy Of The People” (R.)
Disorders Now and To Come (Kunstler)
Even At 50% Attendance, It’s An Economic Disaster (Y!)

 

 

First: there will be no Debt Rattle tomorrow, Wednesday June 17, or any other articles, because I’m going to try to fly to Athens. The entire game plan, the conditions etc., has kept on changing all the time, but it looks like it might happen.

What I understand at this point is that I will be tested at the airport upon arrival and then sent to a hotel for the night awaiting test results. Then if I test negative I’m free to go, the 1 week mandatory quarantine was scrapped two days ago. If I test positive there’s a 2 week quarantine. That would probably also apply if anyone else on the plane tests positive.

With all the extra safety measures and stuff at airports and planes, something tells me it’ll be a long day tomorrow.

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 124,600.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is + 124,778 cases.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 20,722
• Brazil + 23,674
• Russia + 8,248
• India + 10,243
• Pakistan + 5,248
• Chile + 5,143

 

 

Cases 8,141,389 (+ 124,778 from yesterday’s 8,017,241)

Deaths 439,705 (+ 3,581 from yesterday’s 436,124)

 

 

 

 

I ike the slogan for Yaneer Bar-Yam’s EndCoronavirus.org:

THERE’S NO SENSE IN BEING PRECISE WHEN YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.
John von Neumann (1903 – 1957)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

The game plan would be clear enough: Kamala Harris is black and aggressive, tough on crime, and her role will be to stir unrest among African-Americans, get them out on the streets, seen as THE new issue with which to defeat Trump, now that RussiaRussia and impeachment were such abject failures.

But but: Kamala Harris was about the most unpopular candidate running in the Dem prelimiaries, and because of that, one of the first to bow out. How does that not matter?

It sounds convincing though, almost like a done deal: Bookmakers agree, putting Harris’ chances at around 50%. No other candidate [..] has a better than one in ten chance.

Still, reading things like this can’t help to make me think: they don’t really want to win.

Biden Appears Likely To Pick Kamala Harris As VP (Mcleod)

Amid an anti-police movement that has swept the country, the Democratic Party is choosing to run on a “tough on crime” ticket for November. A new Reuters exclusive reports that California senator and former prosecutor Kamala Harris is the clear favorite for the job of vice-president in a Biden White House. Bookmakers agree, putting Harris’ chances at around 50 percent. No other candidate, according to betting analyst Oddsmaker, has a better than one in ten chance. The nationwide protests, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, have been increasingly led by Black Lives Matter, and the calls to defund or dismantle the entire policing system are growing louder. In response, more than 30 states mobilized the National Guard to quash the unrest.

A recent poll found that 74 percent of the country, including 87 percent of Democrats, support the protests, with two-thirds backing Black Lives Matter. Despite this, Biden is moving towards choosing a running mate that is most famous in activist circles for her conservative, “lock them up” stance when it comes to crime. As District Attorney of San Francisco, Harris strongly opposed marijuana legalization. Under her jurisdiction, arrests and convictions for the drug increased, as did the percentage of black people arrested for its possession. Yet during her unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination last year, she laughed and joked about illegally using marijuana herself.

During the Democratic debates, she was also accused by Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of blocking evidence that would have freed an innocent man from a death sentence. Harris was also a vocal supporter of the controversial three strikes law that sent repeat offenders to prison for life. When running for Attorney General, her position was to the right of her Republican opponent. Nevertheless, many in the business world appear very excited about the potential pick. “She understands the moment,” claimed Marc Lasry, Chairman of the Avenue Capital Group and a member of Biden’s national finance committee, “They want someone who will galvanize people. She seems to be that person.”

It seems unlikely, however, that either Biden or Harris will galvanize protestors demanding racial justice. Biden’s 1994 Crime Bill imposed the three strikes rule, leading to a great increase in the number of people in prison. Between 1994 and 1998, the total number of people in U.S. prisons rose by 19 percent and continued climbing for a decade longer. Biden himself began his political career by opposing racial desegregation and bussing, something that Harris grilled him on in the Democratic debates. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me,” she said directly to him.

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The rulinng class in this case is Joe Biden.

Gaslighted by the Ruling Class (Chris Hedges)

In 1994, then Senator Biden pushed through the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. It was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, evidence of the growing disconnect between black political elites and those they should protect. The caucus has, in the face of the current crisis, once again called for the tired and toothless reforms that got us into this mess. “Black elected officials have become adept at mobilizing the tropes of Black identity without any of its political content,” notes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in the New York Times.

The bill authorized $30.2 billion over six years for police and prisons. Biden boasted that he “added back into the Federal statutes over 50 death penalties — 50 circumstances in which, if a person is convicted of a crime at a Federal level, they are eligible for the death penalty.” The bill, he bragged, authorized “over 70 increased — 70, seven zero — 70 increased penalties in new offenses covering violent crimes, drug trafficking, and gun crimes.” It also established the Community Oriented Policing Services or COPS Program that has handed more than $14 billion to state and local governments, most of the money used to hire more police. COPS also provided $1 billion to place police in schools, accelerating the criminalization of children.

The 1994 bill more than doubled the prison population. The United States now has 25 percent of the world’s prison population, although we are 4 percent of the world’s population. Half of the 2.3 million people in our prisons have never been charged with physically harming another person and 94 percent never had a jury trial, coerced to plea out in our dysfunctional judicial system. Biden proudly said in 1994 he represented a new Democratic Party that was tough on law and order.

“Let me define the liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” he said at the time. “The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties. That is what is in this bill. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has 70 enhanced penalties, and my friend from California, Senator Diane Feinstein, outlined every one of them. I gave her a list today. She asked what is in there to every one of them. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the democratic Party is for 125,000 new State prison cells.” There is only one way to defeat these forces of occupation and the ruling elites they protect. It is not through voting. It will come from the streets, where tens of thousands of courageous men and women, facing arrest, indiscriminate police violence, economic despair and the threat of Covid-19, are fighting for not only an end to racism, but freedom.

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No cases for 24 days. Then they allow two UK women in for compassionate reasons. These women then go into a 2-week Isolation but remain untested for 9 days, until one of them gets sick.

Gov’t comment: “The women had “done everything right”. I’m starting to think New Zealand’s success story was based on pure luck.

New Zealand Ends Covid-Free Run With Two Cases From UK (G.)

New Zealand has recorded its first new cases of coronavirus for 24 days after two women who arrived in the country from Britain were found to be infected. The pair were released early from government quarantine and permitted to drive from the city of Auckland to Wellington, the capital – nearly 650km away – before being diagnosed, health officials said. Their trip was an approved exemption from the mandatory isolation period for new arrivals to the country in order to visit a dying parent. The women had “done everything right” and had not put other members of the public at risk, said Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director-general of health, on Tuesday.

After both women tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, one reported that in hindsight she had been experiencing symptoms, but had attributed them to a pre-existing medical condition. The pair marked New Zealand’s first new cases of Covid-19 for more than three weeks, and were diagnosed one week after the last known case in the country had recovered. The discovery of the new cases came one week after all domestic restrictions on the country were lifted, with Bloomfield warning at the time that more cases of the virus would inevitably arise as people infected with it crossed the border. The women – one aged in her 30s and the other in her 40s – had arrived in Auckland on a flight from the UK via Brisbane, Australia, on 7 June, Bloomfield said.

All new arrivals to the country – only New Zealanders, their families, and essential workers are currently permitted to cross the border – are required to spend two weeks in managed isolation at a hotel. But six days after the women arrived, Bloomfield said they travelled from Auckland to Wellington “in a private vehicle” after they were granted a compassionate exemption to do so and made a safety plan with officials. They had not been tested for Covid-19 at the time. The pair had made the drive of approximately eight hours without refuelling their vehicle or disembarking for any reason, including to use public toilets, he said. “They had no contact with anybody else during that trip,” added Bloomfield. He was “not nervous” that the women had infected anyone else, adding that they would now remain in self-isolation with a relative in Wellington.

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Given how fast it spread in the past 2-3 days, it’s obvious the disease had been present for a 1 or 2 weeks.

China Reports 40 New Coronavirus Cases In Mainland, 27 In Beijing (R.)

Mainland China reported 40 new confirmed coronavirus cases for June 15, down from 49 a day earlier, the National Health Authority said on Monday. Twenty seven of the new cases were in Beijing, down from 36 a day earlier. The city is facing a new outbreak of the virus that is believed to have originated in a local grocery market. The NHC reported 8 new imported coronavirus cases in mainland China as of the end of June 15, down from 10 a day earlier. The commission also reported 6 new asymptomatic cases, down from 18 a day earlier. The total number of coronavirus cases in mainland China now stands at 83,221, and the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634. China does not count asymptomatic patients, who are infected with the virus but do not display symptoms, as confirmed cases.

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1 outbreak, 106 cases and counting.

Virus-Hit Beijing Tightens Outbound Travel; Shanghai Demands Quarantine (R.)

Beijing banned high-risk people from leaving the Chinese capital and halted some transportation services on Tuesday to stop the spread of a fresh coronavirus outbreak to other cities and provinces. China’s financial hub of Shanghai demanded some travellers from Beijing be quarantined for two weeks, as 27 new COVID-19 cases took the capital’s current outbreak to 106 since Thursday. That makes it the most serious flare-up in China since February, stoking fears of a second wave of the respiratory disease which emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year and has now infected more than 8 million people worldwide. “Beijing will take the most resolute, decisive, and strict measures to contain the outbreak,” Xu Hejian, spokesman at the Beijing city government, said at a press conference on Tuesday.


The outbreak has been traced to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing where thousands of tonnes of vegetables, fruits and meat change hands each day. Beijing had designated 22 neighbourhoods as medium-risk areas as of Monday. Medium-risk areas are required to take stringent measures to block the potential entry of infection. All high-risk groups in Beijing, such as people who are close contacts of confirmed cases, are not allowed to leave the city, state media reported on Tuesday, citing municipal officials. All outbound taxi and car-hailing services have also been suspended. Some long-distance bus routes between Beijing and nearby Hebei and Shandong provinces were suspended.

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A non-clinical study that showed no evidence. It’s becoming a familiar theme.

FDA Warns Against Combination Of HCQ And Remdesivir (R.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued a warning to healthcare providers against administering malaria drug hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in combination with Gilead Sciences’ experimental COVID-19 drug, remdesivir. The agency, based on data from a recent non-clinical study, said the co-administration may result in reduced antiviral activity of remdesivir. It also added it had no such evidence from a clinical setting and that it continues to evaluate all data related to remdesivir.


The warning comes hours after the agency revoked the emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, which has been touted by the U.S. President Donald Trump. FDA said it was no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine may be effective in treating the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Gilead’s drug had received emergency use authorization earlier in May as a potential treatment for COVID-19, clearing the way for broader use of the drug in more hospitals around the United States.

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We get not a word about zinc.

But we do get a rehash of France, Italy and Belgium halting HCQ use, without mentioning that they did so based on a fully discredited piece in the Lancet, which itself has issued apologies for it.

FDA Revokes Emergency Use Status For HCQ To Treat COVID19 (R.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday revoked its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, but quickly came under fire from President Donald Trump, who said only U.S. agencies have failed to grasp its benefit in fighting the coronavirus. Based on new evidence, the FDA said it was no longer reasonable to believe that hydroxychloroquine and the related drug chloroquine may be effective in treating the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The FDA also warned that the drugs have been shown in lab studies to interfere with Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir – the only medicine so far to show a benefit against COVID-19 in formal clinical trials.


The move comes after several studies of the decades-old malaria pills suggested they were not effective either as a treatment for or to prevent COVID-19. [..] Current U.S. government treatment guidelines do not recommend its use for COVID-19 patients outside of a clinical trial. France, Italy and Belgium late last month halted use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients. But the United States last month sent 2 million doses to Brazil, which has emerged as the pandemic’s latest epicenter. Hundreds of trials testing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine as interventions for COVID-19 are still underway, including a U.S. study designed to show whether hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

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Call it what you want: nationalization, socialism, communism.

Or simply: the strongest attempt to kill off price discovery so far.

Fed Says It Is Going To Start Buying Individual Corporate Bonds (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve is expanding its foray into corporate credit to now buy individual corporate bonds, on top of the exchange-traded funds it already is purchasing, the central bank announced Monday. As part of a continuing effort to support market functioning and ease credit conditions, the Fed added functions to its Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility. The program has the ability to buy up to $750 billion worth of corporate credit. Its March 23 initial announcement is largely considered a watershed moment for the financial markets, reeling from the coronavirus threat spread. “The decision to buy a broad portfolio of corporate bonds represents a shift to a more active strategy for the secondary market corporate credit facility, rather than the passive approach originally envisioned,” said Steven Friedman, senior macroeconomist at MacKay Shields.

The move comes less than a week after a downbeat Federal Open Market Committee view of the U.S. economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Moving to a more aggressive bond-buying strategy “may also reflect the Committee’s view that the economic recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will be an extended and challenging one, with credit markets requiring extensive support,” Friedman added. Under the latest guidelines, the Fed said it will buy, on the secondary market, individual bonds that have remaining maturities of five years or less. Those purchases will go along with the ETFs the Fed already has been buying, which are balanced toward investment-grade indexes but also include some junk bond funds that track debt which had been investment grade before the crisis but had been downgraded after.

The intent of the individual debt purchases will be “to create a corporate bond portfolio that is based on a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds,” the Fed said in a news release. “This index is made up of all the bonds in the secondary market that have been issued by U.S. companies that satisfy the facility’s minimum rating, maximum maturity, and other criteria. This indexing approach will complement the facility’s current purchases of exchange-traded funds,” the statement said.

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The Fed doesn’t help Main Street. It simply sees an opportunity to help banks make more money at the expense of Main Street under the guise of a beneficial narrative.

Fed Launches Long-Awaited Main Street Lending Program (R.)

The Federal Reserve on Monday launched its Main Street Lending Program, the most complex program undertaken yet by the U.S. central bank to help keep the backbone of the economy from buckling under the strains of the coronavirus pandemic. The program, targeted at companies that were in good shape before the pandemic but may now need financing to retain workers and fund operations, will offer up to $600 billion in loans through participating financial institutions to U.S. businesses with up to 15,000 employees or with revenues up to $5 billion. Lenders must register using the lender portal here and are encouraged by the Fed to begin making program loans to for-profit firms “immediately.”

The central bank also sought feedback on Monday on a proposal to expand the program to allow nonprofit organizations to borrow under the program as well. Administered by the Boston Fed, the Main Street program for businesses aims to offer credit for those that may be too large to qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, which targets businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Unlike the PPP, which was established by Congress in late March and offers loans that can be converted to grants if businesses meet certain requirements, the loans offered under the Fed program must be repaid.

It has taken nearly three months for the Fed to design, build and launch a program to extend credit to companies in all walks of the economy, a huge departure from its role as a lender to the banking sector. Fed officials adjusted the Main Street program twice by expanding the range of loan sizes to make it available to more companies that need help keeping workers on staff. It also extended the loans to five years, with payments deferred for the first two years, to better help businesses struggling because of the crisis. “Supporting small and mid-sized businesses so they are ready to reopen and rehire workers will help foster a broad-based economic recovery,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a statement last week after the most recent adjustment.

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A.k.a. deplorables.

Hong Kong Chief Says Opponents Of Security Law Are “Enemy Of The People” (R.)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday urged opponents of Beijing’s plan to impose national security legislation in the financial hub to stop “smearing” the effort, saying those who did were “the enemy of the people”. Beijing last month announced a plan to introduce legislation in Hong Kong to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference and which could see Chinese security agencies set up bases in the city. Critics see the law as the most serious threat to a “one country, two systems” formula, agreed when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, aimed at ensuring its freedoms and role as a global financial centre.

The Chinese government and Lam’ s Beijing-backed city administration say the law will not curtail freedoms but will target a small number of “troublemakers” and help bring stability after a year of anti-government protests. “I urge opponents who still use the usual tactics to demonize and smear the work to stop because by doing this they become the enemy of the Hong Kong people,” Lam said before a cabinet meeting, referring to the legislation. “The vast majority want to restore stability, and have safety, satisfaction and employment.” The government has mounted a campaign to rally public support for the legislation, with billboards, a booklet with questions and answers and a video of Lam defending the law “in the public interest”.

In the video, posted on the city government’s website, Lam decried a “terrorist threat” against a “traumatized” city, saying advocates of independence were “colluding with foreign forces” and undermining security. “Hong Kong has become a gaping hole in national security, and our city’s prosperity and stability are at risk,” said Lam as she stood flanked by the Chinese and Hong Kong flags, the first bigger than the second.

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“Have Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi appealed to their followers to end their violence? Maybe I missed that.”

Disorders Now and To Come (Kunstler)

Never in US history has there been a faction as dishonest as today’s Democratic Party or as habituated to the application of bad faith in political conflict. Their addiction to malicious hoaxes and engineered untruths knows no limits — and naturally so, since they are motivated primarily by dissolving all boundaries in policy, law, sexual relations, and personal conduct. They’ve been busy proving the past few weeks that they’re against the social contract as a basic proposition, exhorting for an end to law enforcement while inciting street violence, crimes against property, and murder.

Many voters are onto them, of course, so the Resistance is also determined to derail the 2020 elections by any means necessary, only starting with ballot fraud but surely escalating to new, innovative chicanes and disruptions. Their chosen candidate for president — that is, their putative “leader” — is an obvious empty vessel fronting for sinister forces in the background. They stuffed Joe Biden in a basement twelve weeks ago and have no intention of setting him loose on the landscape where he would reveal his unfitness with every breath he takes and every move he makes. The news media especially, in its bad faith role, pretends not to notice, but its minions are too self-important to realize that there are other ways for citizens to learn what is happening out there.

Events are rushing ahead at a pace you can barely follow. Summer begins in another week and why, now, would you expect any lessening in civil disorders? A heat wave is upon us here in the crowded eastern US at the end of this week and that’s always an invitation to raucous behavior on the steamy streets. Have Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi appealed to their followers to end their violence? Maybe I missed that. They are hinting at a return to Covid-19 lockdown conditions — but you can forget about anyone following that when the temperature tops ninety degrees (and certainly the Dem leadership knows that).

The devastation of small business, careers, livelihoods, households, and futures continues. Take measures to protect your own future, as far as possible. Put your energy into imagining how you can be helpful to other people, and perhaps incidentally earn their trust and their assistance in mutually beneficial ways. Think about finding a plausible place to live where the rule of law perseveres. Think about how you might fit into an economy run at a smaller scale. Start taking action on that thinking. There’s potential for a lot of people to get hurt in the disorders-to-come. There’s plenty you can do to not be one of them.

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The problem with all mass events.

Even At 50% Attendance, It’s An Economic Disaster (Y!)

College football is twelve Saturdays away. It may be hard to believe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but Division I colleges and universities across the country began to bring their football players back to campus for workouts this month. Now a number of schools have reported that some of their players tested positive for COVID-19: Auburn had three players test positive; University of Central Florida had three; Oklahoma State had five; Arkansas State had seven. That won’t stop the season from happening. The general attitude from schools is that the players who tested positive will self-isolate for two weeks, and the show will go on. The show must go on, because the money demands it.


“We are going to play football in the fall,” said the 76-year-old West Virginia University president Gordon Gee, “even if I have to suit up.” Gee said that a month ago, when the return of college football was still in question, since some universities were hesitant to commit to having classes in the fall. The California State University system, which includes football schools like San Diego State and Fresno State, announced it would start the fall with mostly online-only classes. The thinking at that time was that schools couldn’t have college football players come back if they didn’t have the rest of their students back on campus. There were also fears that the college football season might get pushed to spring 2021, which would mean NFL-bound stars like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields would almost surely opt not to play.

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We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the interaction.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 082020
 


Harris&Ewing Protest: “Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage” 1916

 

New Zealand Has Eradicated Virus (AP)
800-Day Plan: Air New Zealand Warns Of More Job Cuts, Less Flights (R.)
China Stats Accurate, Lockdown Makes Little Difference – Nobel Winner (RT)
Coronavirus in Texas: Cases, Deaths and Tests (TT)
Guatemala President To Work Remotely After 18 Staff Get Coronavirus (R.)
US Bankruptcies Soar 48% In May (ZH)
Major Corporations Scramble To Support Black Lives Matter (JTN)
Minneapolis City Council Votes To Disband Police Force (AP)
Buffalo Police ERT Members Say Resignation Was Not In Solidarity (WKBW)
NYPD, City Hall Deny Police Brass Shake-Up (Pix11)
33 Russia Collusion Probe Witnesses The Senate Could Subpoena (Solomon)
Hillary: How Can Anybody With Beating Heart, Working Mind Support Trump? (Ind.)
Rep. Jordan: Not Surprising McCabe, Rosenstein Disagree
Out With the Old Blood (Mitteldorf)

 

 

Worldometer has global new cases for June 7 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 113,090.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is about + 108,198 cases. But it was Sunday yesterday, and Brazil ceased providing stats. Let’s see tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 18,905
• Brazil + 18,375 (first day gov’t stats are unavailable)
• Russia + 8,985
• India + 11,412
• Pakistan + 4,728
• Chile + 6,405

 

 

Cases 7,113,012 (+ 108,198 from yesterday’s 7,004,814)

Deaths 406,549 (+ 3,884 from yesterday’s 402,665)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live: Note: COVID19Info global cases and deaths are now higher than Worldometer’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course congrats are in order. But also for New Zealand things are far from solved, it’s an isolated place now.

New Zealand Has Eradicated Virus (AP)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday she was confident New Zealand has halted the spread of the coronavirus after the last known infected person in the country recovered. It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported, while 40,000 have been tested in that time. And Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases. Ardern also announced the Cabinet had agreed to another phase of the country’s reopening, to take place at midnight. “We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” she said at a news conference.


“We almost certainly will see cases here again, and I do want to say again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure and we are, that we are prepared.” She said her government’s focus will be on the country’s borders, where isolation and quarantine will continue. Experts say a number of factors have helped the nation of 5 million wipe out the disease. Its isolated location in the South Pacific gave it vital time to see how outbreaks spread in other countries, and Ardern acted decisively by imposing a strict lockdown early in the outbreak. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.

https://twitter.com/farmgeek/status/1269804429693169664

And congrats for Thailand too:

https://twitter.com/RichardBarrow/status/1269853178318577664

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Quite optimistic.

800-Day Plan: Air New Zealand Warns Of More Job Cuts, Less Flights (R.)

Air New Zealand will be nimbler, fly fewer passengers and routes, and may cut more jobs as it targets a return to “healthy profits” by 2022, its chief executive said as he navigates the airline through the coronavirus crisis. Greg Foran laid out an 800-day plan to customers and staff under which the national flag carrier will look at how to further cut labour costs, including leave without pay, reduced hours or possibly laying off more people. “We must first survive, then revive and finally thrive,” Foran said in an email to staff and customers, as he forecast revenue for the next financial year to more than halve from recent levels. Shares of the airline surged 11 per cent to NZ$1.82, its highest in almost three months.


Airlines have slashed thousands of jobs and set aside cash for impairments on aircraft as the coronavirus damaged demand amid global lockdowns. Even as countries re-open, profits may be threatened by people refraining from travel and lower fares due to discounts. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said last week that global airlines cut domestic fares by an average 23 per cent in May, and previously warned traffic would not return to pre-crisis levels until at least 2023. Foran envisions Air New Zealand will be 70 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 size by August 2022 and hinted at further layoffs as the second phase of a cost-cutting plan, to save around $NZ150 million began.

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Well, the richest ones, those that can afford to quarantine dozens of people.

Film-Makers Back To Work In New Zealand After Coronavirus (R.)

New Zealand’s capital has had an extra buzz of excitement over the past week since Hollywood director James Cameron and his crew flew in to film the much-anticipated sequel of the epic science-fiction film “Avatar”.The film is among a handful of productions kicking off in New Zealand as it begins to open up after containing the novel coronavirus, and looks to its film industry to give its battered economy a boost. New Zealand’s borders remain closed to foreigners but the government gave special permission for the 55 crew members working on the “Avatar” sequel to jet in on a chartered plane. “Certainly, the fact that we are able to start earlier than some countries is great, much as it’s distressing to see that the pandemic is still such a challenge around the world,” said Annabelle Sheehan, chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission.

New Zealand’s mountains, meadows and forests, made famous by “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, have drawn several major film productions over recent years. About 47 productions were underway when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed a tough lockdown on March 26 to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It was a great success and the virus has been almost eliminated in New Zealand, which could be among the first countries in the world to return to normal this week, apart from the closed border. Avatar producer Jon Landau posted a picture of himself and director Cameron after landing last week and said they would self-isolate for 14 days in line with government rules.

“Your country has become a leader in how to deal with something like this, and I think films will want to come,” Landau told Radio New Zealand in an interview, referring to the coronavirus campaign. With people around the world cooped up at home, pressure is on film-makers and other content creators to make new material and get it out. But what’s holding them back is the lack of safe places to work, industry experts say. Now New Zealand is an option. “We’ve had a few international enquiries and that’s on the back of our COVID-free status,” said Gary Watkins, chief executive of Wellington-based Avalon Studios, which was used for the filming of the 2017 Scarlett Johansson starrer “Ghost in the Shell” and will also help with the new “Avatar”.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford defended the decision saying the border was only open to a few foreigners who were important for projects with significant economic value. New Zealand’s film industry is worth more than NZ$3 billion a year. A six-month international film can create an estimated 3,000 jobs. “You only need a few international people coming to trigger thousands of jobs,” said Sheehan. And New Zealand needs the jobs. The government expects hundreds of thousands to be lost because of the coronavirus.

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Some people just don’t care about credibility, and neither does the Nobel committee. What utter nonsense.

China Stats Accurate, Lockdown Makes Little Difference – Nobel Winner (RT)

Challenging the widespread belief that the worldwide anti-coronavirus lockdown has helped in slowing down the disease spread, Stanford Professor Michael Levitt said that it’s actually made very little difference. Speaking to RT’s Going Underground, Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist Levitt said that there was no reason to doubt China’s official coronavirus figures, since its statistics are corresponding with the dynamics observed elsewhere. “What happened in China outside of Hubei is exactly the same dynamics of the curve as what happened in New Zealand,” Levitt stated. “If China is forging statistics, they must have a time machine. And if they have the time machine, they would’ve beaten us in any competition anyway.”

The lockdown measures that have been implemented across many countries worldwide were actually not that effective, the scientist believes. The vast majority of the disease transmissions actually occurred before the lockdowns went into force – and in many countries the people were not that eager to abide by the rules, making the restrictions even more useless. Levitt believes that the best strategy for the government would have been focusing on protecting the elderly population and let others move freely.


“This virus really does seem to be limiting. It gets to about 500 to 1,000 fatalities per million people and then it stops. And this we’ve seen at so many places. I don’t think that Northern Italy practiced wonderful social distancing, I don’t think that social distancing was practiced wonderfully in New York City,” he said. What happened is that the virus is most infectious and most dangerous before you actually know it’s there. Sweden, for instance, which has been harshly criticized for its laissez-faire approach to the pandemic, remains within the European averages – and even falls behind the worst-hit nations, such as Belgium and the UK. “Sweden has had a much milder lockdown than anybody. The predicted number for Sweden was around 60,000 [deaths]. Sweden looks like it’s going to stop at 6,000 at the most,” Levitt said.

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This one is for the Automatic Earth’s resident physician Dr. John Day in Texas.

“74,978 Texans tested positive for the coronavirus as of June 7 — 1,425 more than the day before and 10,691 more than a week ago.”

Coronavirus in Texas: Cases, Deaths and Tests (TT)

Gov. Greg Abbott is looking at two specific metrics to justify his decision to restart the Texas economy — the positive test rate and hospitalization levels. Here’s how the numbers changed in the first two weeks of May when Texas began reopening. On March 4, DSHS reported Texas’ first positive case of the coronavirus, in Fort Bend County. The patient had recently traveled abroad. A month later on April 4, there were 6,110 cases in 151 counties. As of June 7, there are 74,978 cases in 235 counties. The Tribune is measuring both the number of cases in each county and the rate of cases per 1,000 residents.

The rate of cases per 1,000 residents is especially high in the panhandle’s Moore County, where infections are tied to a meatpacking plant. The rate of cases is also high in counties with state prisons such as Walker and Jones. In other rural areas where the presence of the virus has yet to be confirmed, testing has been scarce.

On April 6, the state started reporting the number of patients with positive tests who are hospitalized. It was 1,153 that day and 1,878 on June 7. This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test. As of mid-April, concerns that Texas hospitals would be unable to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients seem to have been assuaged. As he makes decisions about how quickly to restart the Texas economy, Abbott says he is watching the number of hospitalizations and the hospitalization rate — the proportion of infected Texans who require hospitalization. [..] The first death linked to the coronavirus in Texas occurred March 16 in Matagorda County. As of June 7, 1,830 people who tested positive for the virus have died.

Daily infection rateGov. Greg Abbott said he is watching the state’s infection rate — the percentage of positive cases to tests conducted. The average daily infection rate is calculated by dividing the 7-day average of positive cases by the 7-day average of tests conducted. This shows how the situation has changed over time by de-emphasizing daily swings. Public health experts want the daily infection rate to remain below 6%.

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Makes you wonder how many are on his staff.

Guatemala President To Work Remotely After 18 Staff Get Coronavirus (R.)

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said on Sunday that 18 employees at his office and on his security detail have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, so he will work remotely and the presidential offices will be disinfected. “I and the vice president will carry out our activities remotely. We’re healthy. We’ve been tested. We don’t have coronavirus,” Giammattei said in a televised address. The Central American country has registered 7,055 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 252 fatalities from the pandemic.

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“An estimated $7.4 billion in rent for April hasn’t been paid (May numbers have yet to be released), or about 45% of what’s owed..”

US Bankruptcies Soar 48% In May (ZH)

One month ago, when showing the uncanny correlation between defaults and the unemployment rates, we predicted that the number of Chapter 11 filings that is about to flood the US will be nothing short of biblical. All that was missing was a catalyst, one which according to Bloomberg arrived in late May as retail landlords started sending out thousands of default notices to tenants, who in turn experienced a collapse in foot traffic, sales and cash flow due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and were simply unable to pay their debt obligations. According to Bloomberg, restaurants, department stores, apparel merchants and specialty chains have been receiving notices from landlords – some of whom have gone as long as three months without receiving rent.

“The default letters from landlords are flying out the door,” said Andy Graiser, co-president of commercial real estate company, A&G Real Estate Partners. “It’s creating a real fear in the marketplace.” Pressure from default notices and follow-up actions like locking up stores or terminating leases was cited in the bankruptcies of Modell’s Sporting Goods and Stage Stores Inc. Many chains stopped paying rent after the pandemic shuttered most U.S. stores, gambling that they could hold on to some cash before landlords demanded payment. An estimated $7.4 billion in rent for April hasn’t been paid (May numbers have yet to be released), or about 45% of what’s owed, according to a recent analysis by CoStar Group, which also found that just a quarter of expected rent payments have been received by landlords.


“If the landlords don’t put a pause on their actions, you’re going to see more bankruptcies.” Last Thursday, these anecdotal reports were confirmed by the American Bankruptcy Institute which announced that as expected, corporate bankruptcies soared during May, pushing the number of filings to levels recorded in the wake of the 2007-09 recession. According to figures from legal-services firm Epiq Global, US bankruptcy courts recorded 722 businesses nationwide filing for chapter 11 protection last month, a yearly increase of 48% from 487 businesses in May of 2019. The surge was also seen on a month-over-month basis, which jumped by 28% from the 562 Chapter 11 filings in April.

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In the same way that they all paint themselves green.

Major Corporations Scramble To Support Black Lives Matter (JTN)

As protests and demonstrations against racism and police brutality drag on for another week across America, numerous corporations are scrambling to capitalize on the moment by donating to various Black Lives Matter organizations and allied causes, winning praise and sometimes sharp criticism for P.R. efforts that are by turns successfully deft and sometimes unfortunately clumsy. Corporations today appear to be keenly aware of the marketing benefits to striking that balance, which is likely why so many of them are hastily jumping on board with the current Black Lives Matter craze — some with success, others with more difficulty.

Uber Eats, the food delivery app of the rideshare company Uber, announced this week that black-owned businesses would have free delivery privileges on its system. Uber is suspending delivery fees for black-owned restaurants through the end of the year, the company said in a statement, and will also offer discounted rides to those who own and work at black-owned small businesses. Uber’s announcement was perfectly timed for both the political climate and the economic one: Most restaurants have been surviving on takeout alone over the last few months of coronavirus lockdowns, and owners are still depending heavily on takeaway business as reopenings progress slowly across the country.

Other companies have pledged substantial monetary donations for progressive and racially conscious causes. YouTube this week announced a $1 million donation “to address social injustice.” The company was not clear to what causes exactly it would be donating that money, the sum of which accounts for about 0.006% of the company’s yearly revenue of $15 billion. The clothing company Spanx, meanwhile — known for its undergarments that men and women wear to appear thinner — said in an Instagram post this week that it would be donating “$100,000 across national organizations focused on combating racial injustice: Black Lives Matter, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and The Minnesota Freedom Fund.”

[..] It is not immediately evident what it means exactly to donate to “Black Lives Matter,” a mostly loosely organized movement of disassociated activists and protesters across the country and the world. The campaign’s nominal central authority does accept donations, though it is not evident how those funds are dispensed. The companies Ganni, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Pretty Little Thing and others all pledged to donate to Black Lives Matter, among other causes.

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I sort of see why they would do it, I can even see a few ways that might make it work, but a lot more ways that won’t. And if the council president says: “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”, shouldn’t the council perhaps disband itself also?

Minneapolis City Council Votes To Disband Police Force (AP)

A majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council said Sunday they support disbanding the city’s police department, an aggressive stance that comes just as the state has launched a civil rights investigation after George Floyd’s death. Nine of the council’s 12 members appeared with activists at a rally in a city park Sunday afternoon and vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Council member Jeremiah Ellison promised that the council would “dismantle” the department. “It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” Lisa Bender, the council president, said. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.” Bender went on to say she and the eight other council members that joined the rally are committed to ending the city’s relationship with the police force and “to end policing as we know it and recreate systems that actually keep us safe.”


[..] Community activists have criticized the Minneapolis department for years for what they say is a racist and brutal culture that resists change. The state of Minnesota launched a civil rights investigation of the department last week, and the first concrete changes came Friday in a stipulated agreement in which the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. A more complete remaking of the department is likely to unfold in coming months. Disbanding an entire department has happened before. In 2012, with crime rampant in Camden, New Jersey, the city disbanded its police department and replaced it with a new force that covered Camden County.

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“57 officers did *not* resign in solidarity with the officers who pushed over a 75-year-old causing brain injury. This turns out to be a lie from the police union.”

“We quit because our union said [they] aren’t legally backing us anymore. So why would we stand on a line for the City with no legal backing if something [were to] happen?”

Buffalo Police ERT Members Say Resignation Was Not In Solidarity (WKBW)

“It went bad. It went bad.” Two officers of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team spoke with 7 Eyewitness News under the condition their names not be used. The officers are part of the 57-person volunteer assignment team that resigned Friday, following an incident involving two of their members Thursday night in Niagara Square. They did not resign from the police department, only from their roles on the team. The officers we spoke with said the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association’s statement asserting all 57 officers resigned from ERT in a “show of support” with the two officers that were suspended without pay is not true.

“I don’t understand why the union said it’s a thing of solidarity. I think it sends the wrong message that ‘we’re backing our own’ and that’s not the case,” said one officer with whom we spoke. “We quit because our union said [they] aren’t legally backing us anymore. So why would we stand on a line for the City with no legal backing if something [were to] happen? Has nothing to do with us supporting,” said another. A representative from the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Hannah Buehler the officers resigned in “disgust” with how the two officers were treated. “Some of them probably resigned because they support the officer,” said another officer with whom we spoke. “But, for many of us, that’s not true.”


“The City, DA Flynn, they’re not representing those guys at all. They have to find their own lawyers, they have to come out of pocket.” 7 Eyewitness News was not able to reach PBA president John Evans to confirm this information or get a response to several officers shooting down his assertions, but we did obtain an email sent to PBA members by Evans. It states, in part: “In light of this, in order to maintain the sound financial structure of the PBA it will be my opinion the PBA NOT to pay for any ERT or SWAT members legal defense related to these protests going forward. This Admin in conjunction with DA John Flynn and or JP Kennedy could put a serious dent in the PBA’s funds.”

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Things are going to change one way or another.

NYPD, City Hall Deny Police Brass Shake-Up (Pix11)

Text messages and Facebook posts went into overdrive Sunday in New York’s law enforcement community, with claims top leaders in the NYPD were either resigning or being asked to leave, with replacements ready to step in. “This is not true,” tweeted Freddi Goldstein, press secretary to Mayor Bill de Blasio. NYPD Deputy Commissioner Richard Esposito, over the phone, also said it wasn’t true. But we’re learning there are tensions behind the scenes about the specific fate of two police officers involved in confrontations with protesters in the last twelve days. Both of the cops were suspended without pay on Friday. One of them allegedly knocked down a female protester, Dounya Zayer, outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the early days of the George Floyd protests.

Zayer said she suffered seizures, as a result. Another cop was seen on video pulling down the mask of a male demonstrator and spraying the man’s face with pepper spray. Multiple sources said there’s anger among the rank and file—and among some of the NYPD brass—about the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office considering criminal charges against the two officers. When PIX11 called a spokesman for the Brooklyn DA’s office Sunday evening, we were told, “We’re investigating both of these cases. It’s not true both are going to be arrested imminently. It might happen in the future.” The NYPD has dealt with a lot of turmoil in the last two weeks. “This is all about pandering to anti-cop sentiment,” said a former NYPD Deputy Commissioner.


Multiple police officers have been under siege during the protests, trying to fend off looters, brick and bottle throwers and the burning of NYPD vehicles. Officer Yayon Jean Pierre was stabbed in the neck last week while working an anti-looting post, and two other cops were shot in the hand. Several other officers have been hit by cars, one of them hurt seriously. Sergeant’s Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins, said his phone was exploding with calls about behind-the-scenes clashes between the NYPD and City Hall. “The losers in this are not going to be the cops,” Mullins said. “It’s going to be the public.” Mullins said he didn’t believe the protests were continuing because of the NYPD. “I think it’s about overthrowing the presidency,” he said.

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Again: storm warning. The “left” will try and label it all political. But if that fails, where are they?

33 Russia Collusion Probe Witnesses The Senate Could Subpoena (Solomon)

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, Wis., now has the authority to subpoena the agencies and individuals he wants to interrogate or to turn over documents. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham hopes to get his subpoena power this week. [..] The scope of the subpoenas suggests a far-reaching inquiry. For instance, the FBI will be asked to surrender “all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. This includes, but is not limited to, all records provided or made available to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice for its review that resulted in the report ‘Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation’; and all records related to requests to the General Services Administration (GSA) or Office of the Inspector General of GSA for presidential transition records from November 2016 through December 2017.”

The State Department will be asked to produce records of its contacts with Christopher Steele, the former MI6 operative who penned the unverified dossier that was used by the bureau as essential evidence in pursuing the case. And the DNI will be asked for all records related to the Obama administration’s unmasking of Trump campaign and transition figures in intelligence intercepts. The list of individuals that Johnson’s committee is seeking to question or seek documents from includes some familiar figures in the controversy, like fired FBI Director James Comey, ex-FBI Counsel James Baker, fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, the former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, whose final email on the day she left office about President Obama’s dealings in the Russia probe has stoked great intrigue.


Senate investigators plan to delve into discrepancies in stories between Comey and Brennan over the intelligence community assessment that Russia tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and Comey and Clapper over who briefed President Obama in early January 2017 about a sensitive intercept of a conversation between incoming Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to Washington. One of the most anticipated witnesses is Bill Priestap, the former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence, who supervised Strzok’s Russia investigation and interacted often with former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

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In other words: half the country are deplorables. Same issue, same question she asked in 2016. Never learned a single thing.

Hillary: How Can Anybody With Beating Heart, Working Mind Support Trump? (Ind.)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out about her 2016 presidential rival Donald Trump, calling his time in office a “failure” and questioning how anyone could continue to support him. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Ms Clinton lashed out at President Donald Trump, criticising his leadership and characterising him as uncaring and incompetent. “What has been so surprising to me is how he can barely make an effort to rise to the occasion. I truly don’t think he can get out of his own way. Everything always has to be about him,” Ms Clinton said. She said Mr Trump tried to ignore the coronavirus pandemic until he was forced to address it, after which she claims he tried to turn the pandemic response into a “daily rally.”

Regarding the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the US, Ms Clinton suggested she had initially hoped that Mr Trump was going to respond with empathy, but that it quickly became clear that wasn’t going to be the case. “He doesn’t have even the minor amount of empathy to fake it, to look like he is concerned, and he reverts to the belligerence and the threat-making and the photo-opping, all the tried and true tactics that feed his need for control and dominance and attention,” Ms Clinton said. Of Mr Trump’s “photo-opping,” his appearance at St John’s Church near the White House – and the tear gassing of protesters to clear the path for the president – has become one of the many flashpoints in the George Floyd protests.


“It was beyond my comprehension. We have never seen anything like this,” she said. “He is without shame. It is a mystery why anybody with a beating heart and a working mind still supports him.” She said that despite the fact that Mr Trump’s character was apparent during the election, even she wasn’t prepared for the degree to which the president would shuck norms. “So much of what we’re seeing now, sadly, was known about Trump and the kind of people who were loyal to him. But it turned out to be even worse than what I thought it would be,” she said. “Despite having my own front-row seat and being concerned about his character and behaviour, he has gone further and broken more norms and undermined our institutions more deeply than I thought would have been possible in such a short period of time.”

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Jordan hasn’t had the best of times either.

Rep. Jordan: Not Surprising McCabe, Rosenstein Disagree

It’s not surprising that former FBI Director Andrew McCabe and ex-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagree about the events surrounding the Russia probe, Rep. Jim Jordan said Thursday. “Somebody is not telling the truth because former FBI counsel Jim Baker told us when we deposed him last Congress, in the Judiciary Committee, that Rod Rosenstein was serious about wearing a wire and using the 25th Amendment to try to remove President [Donald] Trump from office,” the Ohio Republican told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “Somebody is not being square and I guess maybe when you are engaged in this kind of wrongdoing which happened at the upper levels of the FBI, maybe it’s tough to keep your story straight.”

McCabe on Wednesday accused Rosenstein of lying about ex-FBI Director James Comey’s memos about his meetings with Trump. Rosenstein testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that McCabe should have told him sooner about the Comey documents, reports Fox News. “Mr. Rosenstein’s claims to have been misled by me, or anyone from the FBI, regarding our concerns about President Trump and the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia are completely false,” McCabe said in a statement Wednesday. Rosenstein signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, named Bob Mueller as special counsel, and broadened the scope of the Russia investigation, Jordan pointed out.


“The guy who did all of that now says there wasn’t anything there,” said Jordan. “That’s what we have been saying for three years … yet Rosenstein names Bob Mueller as a special counsel and puts our country three years of what we went through. That’s why people are upset about this and that’s why we have got to get to the bottom of it all.”

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Intriguing. Made me think of Einstein love of simplicity.

Diluting the blood of mice with saline/albumin rejuvenates them.


Original paper: Rejuvenation of three germ layers tissues by exchanging old blood plasma with saline-albumin

Out With the Old Blood (Mitteldorf)

There is great promise in 2020 that we might be able to make our bodies young without having to explicitly repair molecular damage, but just by changing the signaling environment. Do we need to add signals that say “young” or remove signals that say “old”? Does infusion of biochemical signals from young blood plasma rejuvenate tissues of an old animal? Or are there dissolved signal proteins in old animals that must be removed? For a decade, Irena and Mike Conboy have been telling us removal of bad actors is more important. But just last month, Harold Katcher reported spectacular success by infusing a plasma fraction while taking away nothing. Then, last week, the Conboys came back with a demonstration of the rejuvenating power of simple dilution.


They simply replaced half of the blood plasma in 2-year-old mice with a saline solution containing 5% albumin. What is albumin? Blood plasma is chock full of dissolved proteins, about 10% by weight. About half of these are termed albumin. Albumin is the generic portion. It doesn’t change through the lifetime. It doesn’t carry information by itself. But albumin transports nutrients and minerals through the body. The Conboys took care to show that albumin has no rejuvenation power on its own, and had nothing to do with their experimental results. Rather, they had to replenish albumin in diluting blood, because the animals would be sickened if half their albumin were removed. Replacing the albumin in a transfusion is akin to replacing the volume of water or maintaining the salinity.

In preparation for this experiment, the Conboys have invested years in miniaturizing the technology for blood transfusions, so that mice can be subjected to the same procedures that are commonplace in human hospitals. The Conboy lab replaced 50% of mouse blood plasma. They got spectacular results with a single treatment, based on a lucky guess. They have not yet experimented with 30% or 70%. They don’t know yet how long the treatment will last and how long it needs to be repeated. As with previous papers from the Conboy lab, the group focused on repair and stem cell activity as evidence of a more youthful state. Three separate tissue samples were taken from liver, muscle, and brain. “Muscle repair was improved, fibrosis was attenuated, and inhibition of myogenic proliferation was switched to enhancement; liver adiposity and fibrosis were reduced; and hippocampal neurogenesis was increased.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the interaction.

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Elmer Fudd has singlehandedly solved the US gun problem:

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 032020
 


DPC ‘On the beach, Palm Beach’ 1905

 

New Zealand Could Return To Normal Life As Early As Next Week (R.)
Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything (M.)
Charting Sweden’s Disastrous No-Lockdown Strategy (Ind.)
Brazil Sets Another Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths (R.)
Greece Suspends Qatar Flights After 12 On One Plane Test Positive (K.)
Handheld High-Intensity UV Lamp Could Kill Coronavirus Once And For All (RT)
Lancet Issues Major Disclaimer On Anti-HCQ Study (ZH)
The Great Unequalizer (El-Erian/Spence)
Food Bank Parcels For Scottish Children ‘At Record High’ (BBC)
What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain: A Crime (Turley)
The 10 Most Important Questions For Rod Rosenstein (Solomon)
Jerry Nadler Moves To Cut Bill Barr’s Budget By $50 Million (R.)
Will Italy Be The Next Country To Leave the EU? (Antonopoulos)
Where Did Policing Go Wrong? (Taibbi)
Police Didn’t Spend Millions On Tank Just To Let Protests Stay Peaceful (Onion)

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 21,608
• Brazil + 28,832
• Russia + 8,952
• India + 8,272
• Peru + 4,845
• Pakistan + 4,065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of cases seems extremely low at less than 80K vs well over 100K for the past week.

Cases 6,474,289 (+ 79,973 from Saturday’s 6,394,316)

Deaths 382,914 (+ 4,948 from Saturday’s 377,966)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

While 99% of the rest of the world stumbles on with no end in sight.

New Zealand Could Return To Normal Life As Early As Next Week (R.)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she could lift all social distancing measures to return the country to normal life, bar the international border closure, as early as next week. Ardern will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to shift to alert level 1, more than two months after she imposed a strict level 4 lockdown, shutting most businesses and forcing people to stay home, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Arden said waiting until Monday would allow her to see if recent changes, like the removal of restrictions on the number of people in bars and at social gatherings, had led to a rise in cases. “If it hasn’t, then we will be in a good position to move,” she said during a televised news conference.


Under level 1 there is no requirement for physical distancing or limits on the number of people allowed in places like bars, clubs, churches, and sports venues, she said. However, there would be one major change from pre-pandemic normality, with no immediate plans to reopen New Zealand’s border. New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus for a 12th consecutive day on Wednesday and has just one active case. Ardern’s decision to swiftly impose one of the harshest lockdowns in the world has been credited with constraining the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, which has reported a total of 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.

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Nothing explains everything, but the angle remains interesting.

Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything (M.)

In April, blood clots emerged as one of the many mysterious symptoms attributed to Covid-19, a disease that had initially been thought to largely affect the lungs in the form of pneumonia. Quickly after came reports of young people dying due to coronavirus-related strokes. Next it was Covid toes — painful red or purple digits. What do all of these symptoms have in common? An impairment in blood circulation. Add in the fact that 40% of deaths from Covid-19 are related to cardiovascular complications, and the disease starts to look like a vascular infection instead of a purely respiratory one. Months into the pandemic, there is now a growing body of evidence to support the theory that the novel coronavirus can infect blood vessels, which could explain not only the high prevalence of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks, but also provide an answer for the diverse set of head-to-toe symptoms that have emerged.

“All these Covid-associated complications were a mystery. We see blood clotting, we see kidney damage, we see inflammation of the heart, we see stroke, we see encephalitis [swelling of the brain],” says William Li, MD, president of the Angiogenesis Foundation. “A whole myriad of seemingly unconnected phenomena that you do not normally see with SARS or H1N1 or, frankly, most infectious diseases.” “If you start to put all of the data together that’s emerging, it turns out that this virus is probably a vasculotropic virus, meaning that it affects the [blood vessels],” says Mandeep Mehra, MD, medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center.

In a paper published in April in the scientific journal The Lancet, Mehra and a team of scientists discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect the endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. Endothelial cells protect the cardiovascular system, and they release proteins that influence everything from blood clotting to the immune response. In the paper, the scientists showed damage to endothelial cells in the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and intestines in people with Covid-19. “The concept that’s emerging is that this is not a respiratory illness alone, this is a respiratory illness to start with, but it is actually a vascular illness that kills people through its involvement of the vasculature,” says Mehra.

SARS-CoV-2 is thought to enter the body through ACE2 receptors present on the surface of cells that line the respiratory tract in the nose and throat. Once in the lungs, the virus appears to move from the alveoli, the air sacs in the lung, into the blood vessels, which are also rich in ACE2 receptors. “[The virus] enters the lung, it destroys the lung tissue, and people start coughing. The destruction of the lung tissue breaks open some blood vessels,” Mehra explains. “Then it starts to infect endothelial cell after endothelial cell, creates a local immune response, and inflames the endothelium.”

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“The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US..”

Charting Sweden’s Disastrous No-Lockdown Strategy (Ind.)

Sweden has taken the ignominious title of the country with the world’s highest death rate from Covid-19. The title, which was was briefly held by the UK late last month, comes after Swedish officials decided to ignore the lockdown advice of countless health experts and kept the country largely open during the pandemic. The number of deaths per capita in Sweden is now more than four-times that of its Nordic neighbours. And while its death toll of around 4,500 is a fraction of other badly affected countries like the US (105,000) and the UK (38,000), it is the death rate that reveals the true impact of Sweden’s no-lockdown approach. The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US, and more than five-times that of France, which had the highest death rate in the world in April.

France imposed a strict lockdown, similar to those of Italy and Spain, in an attempt to contain severe outbreaks of the deadly virus. These lockdowns have proven to be an extremely effective strategy in the fight against coronavirus, with death rates dropping drastically in all of the countries that imposed them. Countries that pre-empted large-scale outbreaks with early lockdowns, such as New Zealand, appear to have almost entirely eliminated the virus.

Yet while social distancing, PPE advice and other containment measures have helped slow the spread in Sweden, a lack of lockdown means the country’s infection rate shows no sign of falling. When Sweden is compared to other Nordic countries, the scale of the country’s coronavirus crisis seems even more pronounced.

Sweden’s hope has been to achieve herd immunity, whereby enough of the population has been infected that coronavirus can no longer spread widely. Yet studies in May suggest that Sweden is nowhere near the threshold needed to realise this. Experts claim that at least 60 per cent of the population would need to have Covid-19 antibodies before herd immunity is reached. The government had hoped for 20 per cent immunity by the end of May, but instead only 7.3 per cent have it. This is lower than most countries that enforced lockdowns, including the UK and US, yet with still no lockdown in place, the full impact for Sweden may still a long way from being realised.

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Rockin’ on.

Brazil Sets Another Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths (R.)

Brazil registered another record number of novel coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday evening, as the pandemic in Latin America’s largest country shows no signs of slowing down. The nation registered 28,936 additional cases of the novel coronavirus, the ministry said, and 1,262 deaths. There are now 555,383 total confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil and 31,199 coronavirus deaths. The fresh record comes as some Brazilian leaders, including right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, continue to belittle the virus, warning that the economic fallout from quarantine measures will be worse than the virus itself.


“We lament all deaths, but it’s everyone’s destiny,” Bolsonaro said in front of the presidential residence in Brasilia earlier on Tuesday. Even in states and cities where leaders had previously instituted lockdown orders, authorities have been rapidly loosening restrictions in recent days, despite the number of daily new cases continuing to grow in most regions.

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I don’t get why they let them in in the first place. Qatar entered the top 20 of most cases/infections over the past few days, with over 60,000 cases. Thing is, only 2.8 million people live there. For the US, with 117x more people, that would come down to over 7 million cases. Granted, Qatar reports only 43 total deaths. But how credible is that?

Greece Suspends Qatar Flights After 12 On One Plane Test Positive (K.)

Greece on Tuesday announced they were suspending flights to and from Qatar until mid-June, after 12 out of 91 passengers in a Qatar Airways flight that landed in Athens on Monday tested positive for the coronavirus. Nine of the infected passengers are Pakistani nationals, coming from the city of Gujrat, who have a Greek residence permit, two are Greek nationals coming from Australia and one person is a Japanese national and member of a Greek-Japanese family, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection said in a press release.


All passengers in the flight from Doha to Athens’ International Airport were tested and quarantined in hotels until they got their results back, in line with the current health protocols. Those infected will remain in the hotels for two weeks, while those who tested negative will have to stay for seven days as they are considered close high and low risk contacts, the authority said. Health officers will repeat the tests on the passengers who tested negative after a week.


Timeline of Greece measures

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As billions are thrown at everything everywhere, these people have an entire $90,000 in seed funding.

Handheld High-Intensity UV Lamp Could Kill Coronavirus Once And For All (RT)

We may have a powerful new weapon in the war against Covid-19, as a scientific breakthrough has paved the way for personal, handheld devices that emit high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) light capable of killing the coronavirus. Chemical or UV exposure are the most common methods of sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces from bacteria and viruses. In the latter case, there need to be sufficiently high levels of UV radiation – 200 to 300 nanometers – to kill the unwanted bugs. Such devices do exist at present, but are prohibitively expensive, use discharge lamps that contain mercury, are bulky and short-lived, and require a large amount of power to function. Not exactly ideal for scaling up to rid the world of Covid-19.

However, using theoretical modeling of a range of materials, researchers at Penn State, the University of Minnesota and two Japanese universities believe they have found the holy grail of transparent conductors, which could allow for cheap, easy-to-produce LEDs that emit UV light at a high enough intensity to kill coronavirus. Computer, smartphone and lighting manufacturers have often grappled with finding transparent electrode materials that function in the visible light spectrum, let alone the ultraviolet spectrum. But the researchers have settled on a substance called strontium niobate as the potential game-changer material.

“While our first motivation in developing UV transparent conductors was to build an economic solution for water disinfection, we now realize that this breakthrough discovery potentially offers a solution to deactivate Covid-19 in aerosols that might be distributed in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems of buildings,” one of the researchers, Joseph Roth, a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, explains. The researchers have secured $90,000 in seed funding to determine the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for UV intensity and exposure time to eradicate airborne viruses.

Read more …

The Lancet looks unprofessional.

Lancet Issues Major Disclaimer On Anti-HCQ Study (ZH)

The Lancet has issued a major disclaimer regarding a study which prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an anti-Malaria drug currently being used around the world to treat COVID-19. As we noted last week, major data discrepancies have called the entire study into question – though the lead author says it does not change the study’s findings that patients who received HCQ died at higher rates and experienced more cardiac complications than without. Until the data has been audited, The Lancet issued the following “expression of concern” regarding the study.


“Important scientific questions have been raised about data reported in the paper by Mandeep Mehra et al,” reads the “expression of concern” from The Lancet. “Although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.” -The Lancet

Of course, this is yet more evidence of the manufactured disinformation surrounding HCQ that Richard Moss, MD, (via AmericanThinker.com) exposes below… I took hydroxychloroquine for two years. A long time ago as a visiting cancer surgeon in Asia, in Thailand, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. From 1987 to 1990. Malaria is rife there. I took it for prophylaxis, 400 milligrams once a week for two years. Never had any trouble. It was inexpensive and effective. [..] Chloroquine, the precursor of HCQ, was invented by Bayer in 1934. Hydroxychloroquine was developed during World War II as a safer, synthetic alternative and approved for medical use in the U.S. in 1955.


The World Health Organization considers it an essential medicine, among the safest and most effective medicines, a staple of any healthcare system. In 2017, US doctors prescribed it 5 million times, the 128th most commonly prescribed drug in the country. There have been hundreds of millions of prescriptions worldwide since its inception. It is one of the cheapest and best drugs in the world and has saved millions of lives. Doctors also prescribe it for Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis patients who may consume it for their lifetimes with few or no ill effects. Then something happened to this wonder drug.

[..] It began when President Trump discussed it as a possible treatment for COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. The gates of hell burst forth on May 18 when Trump casually announced that he was taking it, prescribed by his physician. Attacks on Trump and this otherwise harmless little molecule poured in. The heretofore respected, commonly used, and highly effective medicinal became a major threat to life, a nefarious and wicked chemical that could alter critical heart rhythms, resulting in sudden cataclysmic death for unsuspecting innocents. Trump, more than irresponsible, was evil incarnate for daring to even mention it. While at it, the salivating media trotted out the canard about Trump’s nonrecommendation for injecting Clorox and Lysol or drinking fish-tank cleaner to combat COVID. It was Charlottesville all over again.


[..] the media agonized over, of all things, the prolongation of the now infamous “QT interval,” and the risk of sudden cardiac death. The FDA and NIH piled on, piously demanding randomized, controlled, double-blind studies before physicians prescribed HCQ. No one mentioned that the risk of cardiac arrest was far higher from watching the Superbowl. Nor did the media declare that HCQ and chloroquine have been used throughout the world for half a century, making them among the most widely prescribed drugs in history with not a single reported case of “arrhythmic death” according to the sainted WHO and the American College of Cardiology.

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When the rich warn about society.

The Great Unequalizer (El-Erian/Spence)

As parts of the United States begin to open up after months of coronavirus lockdown, hope is rising that some semblance of economic normalcy could be on the near-term horizon. That hope could still be dashed by lingering health, business, and consumer uncertainties, any of which could slow recovery. But for the least fortunate segments of the population, more economic pain is a virtual certainty. Far from the “great equalizer” that some initially dubbed the pandemic, COVID-19 has walloped the U.S. economy in a way that exacerbated inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. Absent a timely policy response, this negative trend could begin to reinforce itself, as one debilitating setback for the disadvantaged increases the odds of another.

The data are stark and alarming, and they will get worse before they get better. GDP is set to contract by 30 percent or more this quarter. More than 40 million workers, or roughly a quarter of the U.S. labor force, have filed jobless claims in the last three months. The unemployment rate is likely to approach—and could even exceed—the 25 percent record set during the Great Depression. And all this despite an enormous fiscal and monetary policy relief effort that cost nearly $6 trillion, or 28 percent of U.S. GDP in 2019. The distributional features of the job and income losses are even more concerning. According to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve, 39 percent of workers in households with annual incomes below $40,000 have been laid off or furloughed.

Women have been hit especially hard, as have minorities: of the 20.5 million jobs that vanished in April, 55 percent belonged to women, pushing the unemployment rate for women to 15 percent and the rate for African American women and Hispanic women to 16.4 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively. There is no question that the pandemic has been an unequal opportunity unemployer. Those whose jobs have withstood the shock of COVID-19 are disproportionately in relatively high-paying professions that can accommodate work-from-home arrangements. According to researchers at the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute, roughly one-third of U.S. jobs can be done remotely, but there are enormous discrepancies by sector—discrepancies that widen further when adjusted for earnings. Whereas 76 percent of (mostly well-paid) finance and insurance jobs can be done from home, for example, the same is true for just three percent of (mostly low-paid) food and service sector jobs.

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The effects of the unequalizer.

Food Bank Parcels For Scottish Children ‘At Record High’ (BBC)

Food banks in Scotland say they have recorded the largest ever increase in emergency food parcels going to children during the pandemic. The Trussell Trust – which runs 83% of the country’s network – reported total deliveries were up 47% in April compared to the same period in 2019. This included a 62% increase in parcels going to children. The trust is now calling for the government to give help to low-income families, including a £250 lump sum. It also wants an extension of cash payments for children eligible for free school meals until schools reopen in August. The Scottish government said it had committed £350m of additional funding “to support those most at risk”.


A spokesman said it was also supporting over 175,000 children with access to free school meals. More than 100 organisations have signed up to a coalition urging the Scottish and UK governments to help “as widespread concern mounts for children’s wellbeing”. The group includes the Trussell Trust, the / Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) in Scotland and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). They want the UK government to introduce a/ temporary/ Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme. The charities say this would “ensure/ everyone has/ enough money in their pocket for essentials during this crisis”.

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There was never a reason for the FBI to investigate Flynn. When they did anyway, they found nothing. And still here we are 40-odd months later, and he’s still not been cleared. People are going to pay for this.

What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain: A Crime (Turley)

“Remember … Ambassador, you’re not talking to a diplomat, you’re talking to a soldier.” When President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said those words to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, he also spoke to American intelligence agents listening in on the call. For three years, congressional Democrats have assured us Flynn’s calls to Kislyak were so disturbing that they set off alarms in the closing days of the Obama administration. They were right. The newly released transcripts of Flynn’s calls are deeply disturbing — not for their evidence of criminality or collusion but for the total absence of such evidence. The transcripts, declassified Friday, strongly support new investigations by both the Justice Department and by Congress, starting with next week’s Senate testimony by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

It turns out Flynn’s calls are not just predictable but even commendable at points. When the Obama administration hit the Russians with sanctions just before leaving office, the incoming Trump administration sought to avoid a major conflict at the very start of its term. Flynn asked the Russian to focus on “common enemies” in order to seek cooperation in the Middle East. The calls covered a variety of issues, including the sanctions. What was not discussed was any quid pro quo or anything untoward or unlawful. Flynn stated what was already known to be Trump policy in seeking a new path with Russia. Flynn did not offer to remove sanctions but, rather, encouraged the Russians to respond in a reciprocal, commensurate manner if they felt they had to respond.

The calls, and Flynn’s identity, were leaked by as many as nine officials as the Obama administration left office — a serious federal crime, given their classified status. The most chilling aspect of the transcripts, however, is the lack of anything chilling in the calls themselves. Flynn is direct with Kislyak in trying to tone down the rhetoric and avoid retaliatory moves. He told Kislyak, “l am a very practical guy, and it’s about solutions. It’s about very practical solutions that we’re — that we need to come up with here.” Flynn said he understood the Russians might wish to retaliate for the Obama sanctions but encouraged them not to escalate the conflict just as the Trump administration took office.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1268006146423623683

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Lindsey Graham has a reputation of scaring away from major questions. But he won’t be able to stop this anymore.

The 10 Most Important Questions For Rod Rosenstein (Solomon)

Two years ago, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chafed when asked whether congressional Republicans might have legitimate reason to suspect the factual underpinnings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants that targeted Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the Russia probe. Seeming a bit perturbed, Rosenstein launched into a mini-lecture on how much care and work went into FISA applications at the FBI and Justice Department. “There’s a lot of talk about FISA applications. Many people I’ve seen talk about it seem not to recognize that a FISA application is actually a warrant, just like a search warrant. In order to get a FISA warrant, you need an affidavit signed by a career law enforcement officer who swears the information is true … And if it is wrong, that person is going to face consequences,” Rosenstein asserted.

[..] On Wednesday, when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein is likely to strike a humbler tone in the face of overwhelming evidence that the FBI-executed FISAs have been chronically flawed, including in the Russia case he supervised. “Even the best law enforcement officers make mistakes, and some engage in willful misconduct,” Rosenstein said in a statement issued ahead of his appearance. “Independent law enforcement investigations, judicial review and congressional oversight are important checks on the discretion of agents and prosecutors.” [..] Here are the 10 most important questions those senators are likely to set out to answer:

  1. Did Rosenstein read the FISA warrant renewal he signed in summer 2017 against Page, review any evidence supporting it, or ask the FBI any questions about the case before affixing his signature?
  2. Does the former No. 2 DOJ official now believe the FISA was so flawed that it should never have been submitted to the court? Does he regret signing it?
  3. Given what he now knows about flaws with the Steele dossier and FBI probe, would Rosenstein have appointed Robert Mueller as the Russia Special Counsel if given a do-over?
  4. Did Rosenstein engage in a conversation with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in 2017 about wearing a wire on President Trump as part of a plot to remove the 45th president from office under the 25th Amendment?
  5. Who drafted and provided the supporting materials that Rosenstein used to create the scope of investigation memos that guided Mueller’s probe?
  6. Does Rosenstein have any concerns about the conduct of fired FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as he looks back on their tenure and in light of the new evidence that has surfaced?
  7. When did Rosenstein learn that the CIA had identified Page as one of its assets — ruling out he was a Russian spy — and that information in Steele’s dossier used in the FISA warrant had been debunked or linked to Russian disinformation?
  8. Does Rosenstein believe the FISA court was intentionally misled, or can the glaring missteps be explained by bureaucratic bungling?
  9. What culpability does Rosenstein assign to himself for the failures in the Russia case he supervised, and what other people does he blame?
  10. Does the former deputy attorney general believe anyone in the Russia case should face criminal charges?

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Everything Nadler touches turns to failure. This will be no exception.

Jerry Nadler Moves To Cut Bill Barr’s Budget By $50 Million (R.)

The Democrat who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee said on Tuesday he will introduce legislation this week to cut $50 million in funding from Attorney General William Barr’s personal office. New York Representative Jerrold Nadler said he would move to reduce funding for Barr’s personal office as a response to what he called “continued defiance of Congress and improper politicization of the Department of Justice.” Nadler said he was making this move and others in the wake of Barr’s refusal to appear before his committee. Passing such a cut would require approval of both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.


“We do not take these actions lightly or with any sense of joy. We have both a duty and a moral obligation to protect the rule of law in our country, and we intend to do just that,” Nadler said. He complained that although Barr “could not find the time to testify” before his committee because of the coronavirus pandemic, the attorney general “took the time to tour the peaceful protests at Lafayette Park just minutes before riot police fired tear gas into the crowd.” A Justice Department spokesman said the Department informed the committee it would consider scheduling a committee appearance by Barr after the expiration at the end of June of current guidance requiring White House approval for such testimony. He added the Department also might be willing to discuss possible testimony by Barr’s deputy at a “a mutually agreeable date.”

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The pic is the cover of a Dutch magazine that says: “Not a nickel extra to Southern Europe”.

Will Italy Be The Next Country To Leave the EU? (Antonopoulos)

On May 27, the political movement Italia Libera submitted a constitutional bill to the Supreme Court of Cassation demanding a referendum for Italy to leave the EU. After years of discussions, the foundation stone was laid for Italians to debate whether they want to remain in the EU or follow the United Kingdom out of the bloc. The draft bill presented by Italia Libera to the Supreme Court of Cassation is entitled “Call for a referendum on the withdrawal of the state from the European Union.” Effectively, Italia Libera has demonstrated that it is possible to follow an institutional path to allow citizens to decide whether they want to remain in the EU or not – and for those who want to leave, now is the best time considering the massive decline in popularity for the bloc after their abandonment of Italy when it was at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are many positive aspects to the EU, most notably the free movement of people and a coordinated effort to fight crime through Europol, but these multilateral agreements can exist without a European Parliament and domineering institutions based in Brussels and Strasbourg. As Toppi explained, Italy imagined the EU to be “a community of peoples and not of bankers.” It is for this reason that they announced the bill on the same day an unprecedented European Union Recovery Fund became official. This fund was only established because of the backlash received due to the bloc’s initial disinterest in assisting already struggling economies of the EU that were being further devastated financially by the pandemic.

With widespread southern European dissatisfaction with how the EU abandoned its supposed liberal ideals, particularly Germany, in favour of serving inward self-interests, bloc leaders are now playing catch up. President of the European Commission and Angela Merkel’s right-hand man in previous German governments, Ursula Von Der Leyen, and the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, who was also a former member of the Troika of bankers, announced the unprecedented measures to assist Europe through its financial woes. This time they promised real aid that would not completely decimate state structures and entire economies like what happened to Greece, Spain, Portugal, and to a lesser extent Italy, for the entirety of the 2010’s.

The Governor of the Bank of Italy expects a 13% drop in GDP in 2020, and for this reason Toppi emphasized that Italy does not need any further indebtedness which will increasingly put Italy in the hands of international speculators. However, Italians remember that Lagarde announced on March 13, just as coronavirus was truly beginning to overwhelm hospitals, that the pandemic was an Italian problem only. This was the catalyst that saw ordinary Italians begin to remove EU flags from public display and replace them with Russian and Chinese flags in gratitude to the significant assistance that these two countries gave to Italy when it was abandoned by Brussels and Berlin.

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Cultures that have existed for centuries.

Where Did Policing Go Wrong? (Taibbi)

Watching all the terrible news in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, it’s been hard not to think about Eric Garner. The cases have so many similarities. Once again, an unarmed African-American man in his forties has been asphyxiated in broad daylight by a police officer with a history of abuse complaints. He and his fellow officers ignore cries of “I can’t breathe,” and keep subduing their target even after he stops moving, unconcerned that he’s being filmed. Five years ago, while sketching the outline for a book about the Garner case called I Can’t Breathe, my editor suggested I take on a larger question.

Why, he asked, do we even have police? After all, the history of policing in our country, especially as it pertains to minority neighborhoods, has always rested upon dubious justifications. The early American police forces evolved out of slave patrols in the South, and “progressed” to enforce the Black Codes from the Civil War period and beyond, on to Jim Crow through the late sixties if not longer. In an explicit way, American policing has almost always been concerned on some level with enforcing racial separatism. Because Jim Crow police were upholding a way of life, the actual laws they were given to enforce were deliberately vague, designed to be easily used as pretexts for controlling the movements of black people.

They were charged with punishing “idleness” or “impudence,” and encouraged to enforce a range of vagrancy laws, including such offenses as “rambling without a job” and “leading an idle, profligate, or immoral course of life.” I ended up not taking on that question, focusing on the hard-enough question of what had led two young, amped-up policemen to choke the life out of a harmless father and street character like Garner. I was more interested in those police than all police, and part of me – the white part, probably – thought the answer to the question of why we need police at all was at least somewhat self-evident.

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“I mean, the city wouldn’t buy a teacher a pencil and then tell them not to use it, right?

Police Didn’t Spend Millions On Tank Just To Let Protests Stay Peaceful (Onion)

In response to concerns that law enforcement officers were escalating violence in the nationwide George Floyd uprisings, Los Angeles Police Department officials announced Tuesday that they didn’t spend millions on an awesome tank just to let protests stay peaceful. “We got the city to drop, like, $10 million on this sick tank and you expect we’ll just let people stand there chanting?” said LAPD chief Michael Moore, adding there was “no way in hell” that the department would let something like peaceful demonstrations stop them from making use of the vehicle’s “totally tricked-out” weapons system, armor, and ability to ram through virtually everything in its path.


“I mean, the city wouldn’t buy a teacher a pencil and then tell them not to use it, right? This is the kind of hardware you just can’t let sit gathering dust—same with the grenade launchers, drones, and tear gas. We have whole storage bays full of projectiles and we’re supposed to just not use them? Get real. They wouldn’t give us all this killer stuff if we weren’t supposed to have a little fun.” LAPD officials added that the city’s residents deserved to witness the full scope of all the badass shit their tax dollars could do.

Read more …

 

 

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May 222020
 


Cave of swimmers, Gilf Kebir plateau, Sahara c6000 BCE

 

Just 7.3% Of Stockholm Had COVID19 Antibodies By End Of April (G.)
Brazil Suffers Record Daily Coronavirus Death Toll, Soon To Be World No. 2 (R.)
Which US States Meet WHO Recommended Testing Criteria? (Johns Hopkins)
US Layoffs Spread Despite Businesses Reopening (R.)
New Zealand Discussing ‘Helicopter Money’ Handouts To Stimulate Economy (R.)
Washington State Loses 100s Of Millions Of Dollars In Unemployment Fraud (ST)
America’s 600+ Billionaires So Far Made $434 Billion During The Pandemic (F.)
US Prepared To Spend Russia, China Into Oblivion To Win Nuclear Arms Race (R.)
Biden Asks Amy Klobuchar To Undergo Vetting As Possible Running Mate (CBS)
Warren Pivots On ‘Medicare For All’ In Bid To Become Biden’s VP (Pol.)
Appeals Court Orders Judge In Flynn Case To Explain Actions (JTN)
The Railroading of Michael Flynn (Lake)
Russiagate Began With Obama’s Iran Deal Domestic Spying Campaign (Tablet)

 

 

Another record in global new cases over past 24 hrs at 109,627:

• US + 28,215
• Brazil + 17,564
• Russia + 8,894
• India + 7,784
• Peru + 4,749
• Chile + 3,964
• Mexico + 2,973
• Pakistan + 2,603
• Saudi Arabia + 2,532

New deaths
• US + 1,503
• Brazil + 1,188
• Mexico +357
• UK +338

 

 

 

Cases 5,218,496 (+ 109,627 from yesterday’s 5,108,869)

Deaths 335,069 (+ 4,987 from yesterday’s 330,082)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Herd immunity is a failed figment of the imagination, and not one to experiment on the entire population of a country with.

Just 7.3% Of Stockholm Had COVID19 Antibodies By End Of April (G.)

Just 7.3% of Stockholm’s inhabitants had developed Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April, according to a study, raising concerns that the country’s light-touch approach to the coronavirus may not be building up broad immunity. The research by Sweden’s public health agency comes as neighbouring Finland warned that it would be risky to welcome tourists from Sweden after figures suggested the country’s death rate per capita was the highest in Europe over the seven days to 19 May. Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said the Stockholm antibodies figure was “a bit lower than we’d thought”, but added that it reflected the situation some weeks ago and he believed that by now “a little more than 20%” of the capital’s population had probably contracted the virus.


However, the public health agency had previously said it expected about 25% to have been infected by 1 May and Tom Britton, a maths professor who helped develop its forecasting model, said the figure from the study was surprising. “It means either the calculations made by the agency and myself are quite wrong, which is possible, but if that’s the case it’s surprising they are so wrong,” he told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “Or more people have been infected than developed antibodies.” Björn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, said herd immunity was a “dangerous and unrealistic” approach. “I think herd immunity is a long way off, if we ever reach it,” he said after the release of the antibody findings.

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They’re only just starting.

Brazil Suffers Record Daily Coronavirus Death Toll, Soon To Be World No. 2 (R.)

Brazil suffered a record of 1,188 daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday and is fast approaching Russia to become the world’s No. 2 COVID-19 hot spot behind the United States. Brazil also passed 20,000 deaths on Thursday and has 310,087 confirmed cases, up over 18,500 in a single day, according to Health Ministry data. The true numbers are likely higher but Brazil has not carried out widespread testing, the ministry said. President Jair Bolsonaro is under growing pressure for his handling of the outbreak, which looks set to destroy the Brazilian economy and threatens his re-election hopes.


He strongly opposes social distancing measures and has repeatedly pushed for greater usage of chloroquine as a remedy for the virus, despite health experts’ warnings about risks. Bolsonaro’s relationship with governors and mayors has also grown increasingly bitter. The president is angry over local shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus and argues that keeping the economy running is more important. Bolsonaro said he will approve on Thursday or Friday a 60 billion-real ($10.72 billion) federal aid program for states and cities hit by coronavirus but asked governors for support freezing public sector pay increases.

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An unfortunate format for the graph. Click the link to the original for a somewhat better version.

Which US States Meet WHO Recommended Testing Criteria? (Johns Hopkins)

On May 12, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing (ie, out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) of should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days. If a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities. A low rate of positivity in testing data can be seen as a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of their outbreak and is testing enough of its population to make informed decisions about reopening.

Which U.S. states are testing enough to meet the WHO’s goal? The graph below compares states’ rate of positivity to the recommended positivity rate of 5% or below. States that meet the WHO’s recommended criteria appear in green, while the states that are not testing enough to meet the positivity benchmark are in orange.

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Time to assess what jobs will never return. There will be millions.

US Layoffs Spread Despite Businesses Reopening (R.)

Millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, more than two months after a shutdown of the country to deal with the coronavirus crisis, pointing to a second wave of layoffs in industries not initially impacted by closures caused by the pandemic. The Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, the most timely data on the economy’s health, also showed the number of people on unemployment rolls surging to a record high in early May, suggesting that businesses were probably not rushing to rehire workers as they reopen.

This also raises questions about the efficacy of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. A broad lockdown of the country in mid-March to contain the spread of COVID-19 initially led to layoffs in mostly low-wage consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and retailers. But economists say weak demand was causing layoffs in other industries like utilities, information, finance and insurance, and education. “This raises the possibility that new private and public sector cutbacks may be creating a major barrier to stopping the labor market bleeding,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 2.438 million in the week ended May 16, down from 2.687 million in the prior week, the government said. Last week’s claims reading [..] marked the seventh straight weekly decline. First-time claims have been gradually decreasing since hitting a record 6.867 million in the week ended March 28. Still they remained more than triple their peak during the 2007/09 Great Recession. The elevated claims have also been blamed on backlogs after the unprecedented amount of applications overwhelmed state unemployment offices.

[..] Attention is shifting from new claimants for jobless benefits to the number of people still on aid. These so-called continuing claims numbers are reported with a one-week lag, but are considered a better gauge of the labor market. They offer a glimpse into how soon the economy ramps up and companies’ ability to get people off unemployment or keep workers on payrolls as they access their share of a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion, which offered loans that could be partially forgiven if they were used for employee salaries. Continuing claims surged 2.525 million to a record 25.073 million in the week ending May 9.

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Nice size economy to try something like it. But they dare not call it UBI.

New Zealand Discussing ‘Helicopter Money’ Handouts To Stimulate Economy (R.)

New Zealand is considering distributing free cash directly to individuals as a way of policy stimulus to help boost the economy reeling from a COVID-19 pandemic driven contraction, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Friday. At a regular news conference Robertson was asked to share details about the government’s plans for launching ‘helicopter money’ – whether it would be the central bank printing money and distributing it or the government increasing its borrowing and then handing it out. Robertson said the concept was being discussed but “it’s not something that has got to that level of discussion at all.” “I am pretty keen on making sure that fiscal policy remains the role of the government,” he added.


The idea of helicopter money, or dumping cash unexpectedly onto a struggling economy, is slowly gaining currency among economists and policymakers as the pandemic looks to inflict the worst blow to global growth since the Great Depression in the 1930s. None of the wealthy countries have embarked on it, though, citing risks such as central bank independence and the risk of flaring long-term inflation. In a helicopter money drop, a central bank would directly increase the money supply and, via the government, distribute the new cash to the population with the aim of boosting demand and inflation.

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An entire state run by gullible grandmas.

Washington State Loses 100s Of Millions Of Dollars In Unemployment Fraud (ST)

Washington state officials have acknowledged the loss of “hundreds of millions of dollars” to an international fraud scheme that hammered the state’s unemployment insurance system and could mean even longer delays for thousands of jobless workers still waiting for legitimate benefits. Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the state Employment Security Department (ESD), disclosed the staggering losses during a news conference Thursday afternoon. LeVine declined to specify how much money was stolen during the scam, which is believed to be orchestrated from Nigeria. But she conceded that the amount was “orders of magnitude above” the $1.6 million that the ESD reported losing to fraudsters in April.

LeVine said state and law enforcement officials were working to recover as much of the money as possible, though she declined to say how much had been returned so far. She also said the ESD had taken “a number of steps” to prevent new fraudulent claims from being filed or paid but would not specify the steps, to avoid alerting criminals. “We do have definitive proof that the countermeasures we have put in place are working,” LeVine said. “We have successfully prevented hundreds of millions of additional dollars from going out to these criminals and prevented thousands of fraudulent claims from being filed.”

Thursday’s disclosure, which came after state officials had largely refused to discuss the scale of the fraud, helped explain the unusual surge in the number of new jobless claims filed last week in Washington. For the week ending May 16, the ESD received 138,733 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a 26.8% increase over the prior week and one of the biggest weekly surges since the coronavirus crisis began. That sharp increase came as the number of initial jobless claims nationwide fell 9.2%, to 2.4 million, according to data released earlier in the day by the Labor Department.

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Since they won’t stop it, and it can’t last either, it’s up to you.

America’s 600+ Billionaires So Far Made $434 Billion During The Pandemic (F.)

America’s billionaires saw their wealth increase by $434 billion during the course of the global pandemic, according to a new report, a staggering figure that coincided with upheaval to the global economy and more than 38 million Americans filing for unemployment. Per the report by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program for Inequality, between March 18 and May 19, the total net worth of the 600-plus U.S. billionaires jumped by $434 billion or 15%, based on the group’s analysis of Forbes data. The top five U.S. billionaires (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison) saw their wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion.


Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth grow 30.6% in the past two months, boosting it to $147.6 billion; the fortunes of Bezos and Zuckerberg combined grew by nearly $60 billion, or 14% of the $434 billion total. Tech stocks have continued to rise, with both Facebook and Amazon hitting new all-time highs on Wednesday. While the technology sector has remained strong, many Americans in other markets haven’t been nearly as fortunate, as evidenced by an additional 2.4 million workers filing for temporary unemployment benefits last week, and with 47% of adults reporting that they or another person in their household has lost income since mid-March. Low-income earners have been hit hardest over the last two months, as almost 40% of people working in February and earning less than $40,000 annually have lost their jobs over the last month.

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They know the US has already lost the arms race, but A) you can’t explain that to the people, and B) the industry must be kept well-fed.

US Prepared To Spend Russia, China Into Oblivion To Win Nuclear Arms Race (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s arms control negotiator on Thursday said the United States is prepared to spend Russia and China “into oblivion” in order to win a new nuclear arms race. “The president has made clear that we have a tried and true practice here. We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it,” Special Presidential Envoy Marshall Billingslea said in an online presentation to a Washington think tank.

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Just in case he still doubted he does NOT intend to win.

Biden Asks Amy Klobuchar To Undergo Vetting As Possible Running Mate (CBS)

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, has been asked by Joe Biden to undergo a formal vetting to be considered as his vice presidential running mate, one of several potential contenders now being scrutinized by his aides ahead of a final decision, according to people familiar with the moves. In an interview with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night, Biden said “no one’s been vetted yet by the team” but confirmed the initial preliminary outreach to gauge interest is “coming to an end now.” Biden said the “invasive” vetting process will soon begin. When pressed on Klobuchar’s chances of making his running mate “short list,” Biden responded positively: “Amy’s first rate, don’t get me wrong.”


The request for information from potential running mates like Klobuchar “is underway,” a senior Biden campaign aide tells CBS News. If a potential contender consents, she should be poised to undergo a rigorous multi-week review of her public and private life and work by a hand-picked group of Biden confidantes, who will review tax returns, public speeches, voting records, past personal relationships and potentially scandalous details from her past. While several are expected to consent to a vetting, at least one potential contender has bowed out. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, who is running for reelection this year, declined Biden’s invitation to be considered, according to a person familiar with her decision. But Senator Maggie Hassan, the other New Hampshire senator, has agreed to be vetted, according to local news reports.

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https://twitter.com/megslay27/status/1263591562476285954

Warren Pivots On ‘Medicare For All’ In Bid To Become Biden’s VP (Pol.)

In the thick of primary season, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden brawled over “Medicare for All”: He called her approach “angry,” “elitist,” “condescending”; she shot back, anyone who defends the health care status quo with industry talking points is “running in the wrong presidential primary.” Six months later, with Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee and Warren in the running for VP, she is striking a more harmonious chord. “I think right now people want to see improvements in our health care system, and that means strengthening the Affordable Care Act,” she told students at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics this week, while adding that she still wants to get to single payer eventually.


The shift is the latest public signal Warren has sent Biden’s way in recent weeks that she wants the job of vice president — and wants Biden to see her as a loyal governing partner despite their past clashes, which go back decades. Warren’s policy-centered, team-player pitch is counting on Biden caring more about Jan. 20 than Nov. 3, when he makes his vice presidential pick. In other words, that the current crisis has elevated governing concerns above political ones — and that the times call for someone with her policy chops and, yes, plans.

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The power of Sidney Powell.

Appeals Court Orders Judge In Flynn Case To Explain Actions (JTN)

A federal appeals court Thursday has agreed to hear a request from Michael Flynn’s legal team to remove the district judge overseeing his case, and has also ordered the judge to explain his controversial and unorthodox conduct in handling it. Judge Emmett Sullivan has been given a June 1 deadline to respond. The government has also been invited to “respond in its discretion” during that window. Flynn’s legal team had filed a request on Tuesday asking the appeals court to remove Judge Emmett Sullivan from the case, claiming the judge was biased against the defendant. Following the Justice Department’s request earlier this month to dismiss the case against Flynn, Sullivan had appointed retired federal Judge John Gleeson to file an amicus curiae brief arguing in favor of not dropping the case against the general.


Flynn’s lawyers sharply criticized Sullivan’s handling of the case. “The district judge’s latest actions – failing to grant the Government’s Motion to Dismiss, appointing a biased and highly-political amicus who has expressed hostility and disdain towards the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss the prosecution, and the promise to set a briefing schedule for widespread amicus participation in further proceedings – bespeaks a judge who is not only biased against Petitioner, but also revels in the notoriety he has created by failing to take the simple step of granting a motion he has no authority to deny,” the Tuesday petition read.

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Good long overview.

The Railroading of Michael Flynn (Lake)

As it happens, the FBI case manager for the Flynn investigation, Joe Pientka, had indeed drafted a memo closing the Flynn investigation—but he hadn’t filed it formally. Because of Pientka’s “incompetence” (the word was Peter Strzok’s, in a delighted text exchange on January 4, 2017, with his paramour Page), the probe was not shut down and a new predicate wasn’t required. In his motion to dismiss the prosecution of Flynn, U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea said this “sidestepped a modest but critical protection that constrains the investigative reach of law enforcement: the predication threshold for investigating American citizens.”

Until the end of April 2020, Pientka’s memo was kept from Flynn’s counsel and the public. It has been released only now because career U.S. attorney Jeffrey Jensen completed his review of Flynn’s case and declassified documents relevant to it. The Pientka memo provides far more detail on the status of the Flynn investigation than was previously known—and what it shows isn’t pretty. We learn from the memo that after the FBI ran down a lead provided by a confidential human source about Flynn’s contact with a person with links to the Russian state, the bureau could not confirm that any such relationship ever existed. That source was likely Stefan Halper, a fellow at Cambridge University and an intelligence community insider. Halper was being paid by the U.S. government to inform on Flynn as well as another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos.

Flynn’s suspected contact, whose name is redacted in the memo, is likely Svetlana Lokhova. She is a Russian-born academic who, the Guardian and other news outlets reported in 2017, had traveled in the same car with Flynn as they left a Cambridge University seminar in 2016. These stories made it seem as if Lokhova was luring Flynn into a honey trap, during which sex is offered for blackmail leverage later on. “The CIA and FBI were discussing this episode, along with many others, as they assessed Flynn’s suitability to serve as national security adviser,” the Guardian reported.

The Lokhova story was a smear. Two months after it was published, the Guardian was forced to append an embarrassing correction. The correction read in part, “Her lawyers have also subsequently informed us that she does not have privileged access to any Russian intelligence archive. We also wish to make clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that there is no suggestion that Lokhova has ever worked with or for any of the Russian intelligence agencies.” Last year, Lokhova sued Halper and several news organizations for the smear against her.

https://twitter.com/SidneyPowell1/status/1263557289950228481

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Flynn was opposed to it. He had to go.

Russiagate Began With Obama’s Iran Deal Domestic Spying Campaign (Tablet)

Obama and his foreign policy team were hardly the only people in Washington who had their knives out for Michael Flynn. Nearly everyone did, especially the FBI. As former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy service, and a career intelligence officer, Flynn knew how and where to find the documentary evidence of the FBI’s illegal spying operation buried in the agency’s classified files—and the FBI had reason to be terrified of the new president’s anger. The United States Intelligence Community (USIC) as a whole was against the former spy chief, who was promising to conduct a Beltway-wide audit that would force each of the agencies to justify their missions.

Flynn told friends and colleagues he was going to make the entire senior intelligence service hand in their resignations and then detail why their work was vital to national security. Flynn knew the USIC well enough to know that thousands of higher-level bureaucrats wouldn’t make the cut. Flynn had enemies at the very top of the intelligence bureaucracy. In 2014, he’d been fired as DIA head. Under oath in February of that year, he told the truth to a Senate committee—ISIS was not, as the president had said, a “JV team.” They were a serious threat to American citizens and interests and were getting stronger. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers then summoned Flynn to the Pentagon and told him he was done.

“Flynn’s warnings that extremists were regrouping and on the rise were inconvenient to an administration that didn’t want to hear any bad news,” says former DIA analyst Oubai Shahbandar. “Flynn’s prophetic warnings would play out exactly as he’d warned shortly after he was fired.” Flynn’s firing appeared to be an end to one of the most remarkable careers in recent American intelligence history. He made his name during the Bush administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where soldiers in the field desperately needed intelligence, often collected by other combat units. But there was a clog in the pipeline—the Beltway’s intelligence bureaucracy, which had a stranglehold over the distribution of intelligence.

Flynn described the problem in a 2010 article titled “Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan,” co-written with current Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger. “Moving up through levels of hierarchy,” they wrote, “is normally a journey into greater degrees of cluelessness.” Their solution was to cut Washington out of the process: Americans in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan needed that information to accomplish their mission.

Read more …

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